GREAT FREEDOM GIVEN TO THE OPPOSITION
Footnote: The public propaganda of the Opposition exploited every possible kind of political argument against the Soviet regime. The social and economic policies of the Stalin administration were subjected to continuous criticism under such slogans as “incompetence in administration,” “uncontrolled bureaucracy,” “one-man, one-party dictatorship,” “degneration of the old leadership” and so on. No attempt was made to suppress Trotsky’s agitation until it had openly exposed itself as, in fact, anti-Soviet and connected with other anti-Soviet forces. From 1924 until 1927, in the words of Sydney and Beatrice Webb, in Soviet Communism — A New Civilization, “There ensued what must seem surprising to those who believe that the USSR lies groaning under a preemptory dictatorship, namely, three years of incessant public controversy. This took various forms…. There were hot arguments in many of the local soviets, as well as in the local Party organs. There was a vast [Oppositionist] literature of books and pamphlets, not stopped by the censorship, and published, indeed, by the state publishing houses, extending, as is stated by one who has gone through it, to literally thousands of printed pages.” The Webbs add that the issue “was finally and authoritatively settled by the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party in April 1925;… after these decisions, Trotsky persisted in his agitation, attempting to stir up resistance; and his conduct became plainly factious.”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 204
But during the 1920s the Stalinist leadership had often permitted the publication of statements and articles by various oppositionists within the party, at least until the moment of their defeat and expulsion. Trotsky’s works were published until the mid-1920s, and Bukharin continued to publish, howbeit within controlled parameters, until his arrest in 1937; he was in fact editor of the government newspaper Izvestia until that time. [Stalin had personally nominated Bukharin to the Izvestia position in 1934]
Getty & Naumov. The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 103
…After all, it is interesting that we went on living with the oppositionists and oppositionist factions until the events of the late 1930s…. Without a man like Stalin it would have been very, very difficult, especially during the war. There would no longer have been teamwork. We would have had splits in the party. It would have been nothing but one against another. Then what?
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 258
In the course of some six months the party had been shaken by two major revolts. First, there had been the “waverers,” the faction led by Zinoviev and Kamenev, who had opposed the Bolshevik seizure of power. Then, distinct from this faction, came the left communists, led by Bukharin, who called for a return to the purity of socialist principles. In both cases there had been free debate within the party.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 109
Interest groups in the bureaucracy usually could not oppose the established line, but in cases where there was no firmly fixed policy, debate, negotiation, and lobbying were possible even in the Stalin years.
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 11
Actually Trotsky wanted to try another test of strength with the Politburo. It seemed to him that the mood in the party had shifted in his favor. Dozens of oppositionists who came to see him at the offices of the Chief Concessions Committee assured him that this was so. Thus Trotsky decided on a renewal of factional political activity, which was conducted on a large scale and attracted more supporters than in the fall of 1926. The opposition groups in the various Soviet cities had their own local leaderships and their own faction discipline, and dues were collected from members. Opposition materials were published secretly on government printing presses, and a small illegal print shop was set up in Moscow for the same purpose. Trotsky knew about, and fully approved of, the use of such prerevolutionary conspiratorial methods. Assessing these events several years later, Trotsky wrote:
“In a very short time it was apparent that as a faction we had undoubtedly gained strength–that is to say, we had grown more united intellectually, and stronger in numbers….”
In this passage Trotsky obviously exaggerates the extent of Opposition influence among rank-and-file party members. He overstates even more the extent to which Stalin had been discredited by the Chinese events. Moreover, most of the illegal meetings and Opposition materials were no secret to Stalin and his immediate circle. He followed the activities of the opposition leaders very closely.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 171
In November 1923 the alarm caused by the crisis led the triumvirs to table a motion in favor of democratic reform in the party. As in the Georgian affair, so now Stalin agreed to make any verbal concession to Trotsky. The motion was carried by the Politburo unanimously. Trotsky had no choice but to vote for it. On November 7 the sixth anniversary of the revolution, Zinoviev officially announced the opening of a public discussion on all issues that troubled the Bolshevik mind. The state of siege in the party, so it might have seemed, was at last being lifted.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 260
If a workers democracy was needed, did that mean that the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries were to be allowed to come back? Most of Stalin’s critics, including Trotsky, agreed that the Mensheviks should remain outlawed.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 261
After the 13th Congress, in 1925, 1926, the 1927, the same freedom existed within the Party. The fight against the opposition was carried out in the committees, Party cells, and meetings of organs and militants of the Party. Leaders of the opposition vehemently urged their partisans to be as active as possible to attack the Central Committee. In so doing, they would underline the strength and influence of the opposition.
I was astonished when, after the 14th congress [December 1925], Stalin and his new majority in the Central Committee did not oppose this freedom…. it would have been simpler to forbid discussions within the Party and to proclaim, by a resolution of the Central Committee’s plenum, that such discussions harmed the Party and turned its efforts away from constructive lines, etc.
… I was able definitely to confirm my theory during a conversation with Stalin and Mekhlis. The latter was holding in his hands the report of the local Party meeting, and he cited violent intervention by opposition elements. He was indignant and said, “Comrade Stalin, don’t you think this goes too far, and the Central Committee is wrong in letting itself be discredited so openly? Wouldn’t it be better to forbid it?” Stalin smiled, “Let them speak! Let them speak! The dangerous enemy is not he who shows his hand. It’s the hidden enemy, whom we don’t know, who is dangerous. We know all the people [in this report] and have files on them….”
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 92
The bans on other political parties remained but, during the period of the New Economic Policy (1921-1928) there was a relatively high level of tolerance for diverse perspectives in Soviet society. Restrictions on the press were relaxed and scores of private printing houses and non-party journals were founded.
In the 1924-25 period nomination rules were relaxed in order to make it easy for candidates not approved by the Communist Party to win elections to the local Soviets. In new electoral instructions issued in early 1925, Party organizations were told to cease to ‘impose their list at election meetings’ and no longer to insist that voters ‘be excluded merely because they have been critical of local Soviet authorities.’ As a result the majority of those elected to the village Soviets in the rural areas of the Ukraine and Russian republic were non-Party. After the 1927 elections about 90 percent of the delegates and 75 percent of the local Soviet chairmen in both Republics were non-Party.
The ban on organized factions in the Party was not rescinded, but a vital internal party life, as well as toleration of widely diverse viewpoints within the Party, continued throughout the period of the New Economic Policy…. While the center-right alliance of those around Stalin and Bukharin had the upper hand in the period after Lenin’s death (they were united on the continuation of the New Economic Policy and a fairly moderate international line), their left opponents continued to occupy leading positions.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 211
The workers’ Opposition was not alone in voicing disillusionment. At the 11th Congress, last attended by Lenin, Trotsky saw himself and Lenin attacked by old and intimate friends: Antonov-Ovseenko, who spoke about the party’s surrender to the kulak and foreign capitalism; Ryazanov, who thundered against the prevalent political demoralization and the arbitrary manner in which the Politburo ruled the party; Lozovsky and Skrypnik, the Ukrainian commissar, who protested against the over-centralistic method of government, which, he said, was all too reminiscent of the “one and indivisible” Russia of old; Bubnov, still the Decemist, who spoke about the danger of the party’s “petty bourgeois degeneration”; and Preobrazhensky, one of the leading economic theorists and former secretary of the Central Committee. One day most of the critics would be eminent members of the “Trotskyist’ Opposition; and one-day Trotsky himself would appeal, as Shliapnikov and Kollontai had done, against the Russian Central Committee to the International.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 31
The discussion was at once focused on the statement of the Forty-Six who were now free to expound their views to the rank-and-file. Pyatakov was their most aggressive and effective spokesman; wherever he went he easily obtained large majorities for bluntly worded resolutions.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 116
…curious though the factional fights became, they were still contained within limits. Until the end of 1927, they were still fought out openly before the Central Committee Plenum, the Party Congress or Conference, where the opposition was free to challenge the leadership, issues were settled by votes, and the debates reported. The opposition spokesman were more and more subject to heckling and interruption, but that is true even of parliamentary assemblies; they had increasing difficulty in rallying support inside the party, but even when in 1928-29 the clash between Stalin and the right opposition took place behind closed doors, the opposition could not be suppressed, it had to be defeated. The leaders were not arrested or shot; even Trotsky was banished, not imprisoned or executed, and most of the others, like Zinoviev and Kamenev, were allowed back into the party–even, like Bukharin, to hold official posts.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 182
Comrades, oppositionists can and should be allowed to hold posts. Heads of Central Committee departments can and should be allowed to criticize the Central Committee’s activities.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 6, p. 44
[In a report on the Results of the 13th Congress of the Party on June 17, 1924 Stalin stated] What should our policy be with regard to these oppositionists, or, more precisely, with regard to these former oppositionists? It should be an exceptionally comradely one. Every measure must be taken to help them come over to the basic core of the Party and to work jointly and in harmony with this core.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 6, p. 267
Next question. Why did not the Central Committee publish the opposition’s “platform”? Zinoviev and Trotsky say that it was because the Central Committee and the Party “fear” the truth. Is that true? Of course not. More than that. It is absurd to say that the Party or the Central Committee fear the truth. We have the verbatim reports of the plenums of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission. Those reports have been printed in several thousand copies and distributed among the members of the Party. They contain the speeches of the oppositionists as well as of the representatives of the Party line. They are being read by tens and hundreds of thousands of Party members. If we fear the truth we would not have circulated those documents. The good thing about those documents is precisely that they enable the members of the party to compare the Central Committee’s position with the views of the opposition and to make their decision. Is that fear of the truth?
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 183
Although, in the early years of the regime, its ideological opponents, such fans and socialist revolutionaries, had been put in prison, the game–at least in theory–was not depressed and physically or to put him into their intellectual life, but merely to segregate them from the rest of the population and prevent them from spreading their ideas.
Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 60
Since the revolution, and especially during the period of the New Economic Policy the arts and intellectual life had enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy. True, open political opposition was forbidden, and the regime could use the power of the purse to support this or that tendency. But direct political supervision was sporadic, and diverse schools of thought and art could and did contend, even forming separate organizations in literature, for example.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 153
STALIN SAID THE OPPOSITION HAD DESCENDED FAR IN 7 YEARS
With deep disgust, Stalin gave his personal view of the tragic demoralization which had degraded the Opposition from a more or less honest political programme to the gutter tactics of Fascism and primitive murder. “From the political tendency which it showed six or seven years earlier, Trotskyism has become a mad and unprincipled gang of saboteurs, of agents of diversion, of assassins acting on the orders of foreign States.”
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 101
But in the course of the 1920s and particularly in the late 20s and early 30s, when the Trotskyite line had been overwhelmingly defeated inside the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, they ceased to be a political trend. Those who remained in the Soviet Union pretended in public to accept the line of the Party, but secretly began to work against the Party, against the Revolution. They degenerated into secret agents of capitalism, began to work for the various capitalist Intelligence services, plotted the restoration of capitalism in the USSR and the defeat of the Soviet Union in the course of the aggression which was being prepared by the great capitalist powers, organized the sabotage of Soviet industry and agriculture and the assassination of leading Communists. Trotsky himself, in exile, maintained close contact with the secret groups inside the CPSU, and became the center of a world-wide network of anti-Soviet sabotage and espionage, attempting to organize similar secret groupings inside the Communist Parties and militant labor, progressive, and national liberation organizations all over the world.
Klugmann, James. From Trotsky to Tito. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1951, p. 74
[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated]…Before, these elements [Trotskyists] argued for their political tendency among the working class, not afraid to show their political orientation among the workers. Seven or eight years ago, Trotskyism was such a political tendency among the Bolsheviks.
Can we say that the Trotskyism of 1936 is the same as before among the working-class? No, we cannot say this. Why? Because today’s Trotskyites are afraid to show their activity to the workers,…they hide their political outlook from the masses, because the people would curse them as traitors. The modern Trotskyites are not propagating their political tendencies openly, they hide their true identity. They try to be more Bolshevik than real, dedicated Bolsheviks–meanwhile, doing their anti-State activity.
If you will recall the trial of Kamenev-Zinoviev in 1936, they had a perfect opportunity to promote their political tendencies… but they refused and kept mum. Now, even the blind can see that they DID HAVE a political program. Then why did they not take the opportunity to espouse their ideas? Because they were afraid to expose their political face, thus trying to save others who were still active, but well hidden. They were afraid to officially state that they wanted to restore capitalism.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 232
In carrying on a struggle against the Trotskyite agents, our Party comrades did not notice, they overlooked the fact, that present-day Trotskyism is no longer what it was, let us say, seven or eight years ago; that Trotskyism and the Trotskyite have passed through a serious evolution in this period which has utterly changed the face of Trotskyism;… Trotskyism has ceased to be a political trend in the working class, it has changed from a political trend in the working class which it was seven or eight years ago, into a frantic and unprincipled gang of wreckers, diversionists, spies and murderers acting on the instruction of the intelligence services of foreign states.
Stalin, Joseph. Mastering Bolshevism. San Francisco: Proletarian Publishers, 1972, p. 9
“Political figures” hiding their views and their platform not only from the working class but also from the Trotskyite rank and file, and not only from the Trotskyite rank and file, but from the leading group of Trotskyites–such is the face of present-day Trotskyism.
Such is the indisputable result of the evolution of Trotskyism in the past seven or eight years.
Such is the difference between Trotskyism in the past and Trotskyism at the present time.
Stalin, Joseph. Mastering Bolshevism. San Francisco: Proletarian Publishers, 1972, p. 12
The only weapon left to them [the Opposition] [by the early thirties] was terrorism–the assassination of Stalin and his close supporters. There were many psychological reasons against this. Used against the Tsarist regime, it had been condemned by the Bolsheviks as an individual (not a mass) weapon and as wasteful, difficult to control and politically ineffective. Their whole training and tradition were against it. This is perhaps the most important clue to an understanding of their defeat.
Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 163
WEAKNESSES OF SOME TOP LEADERS
Zinoviev could make a good speech and talk about world revolution by the hour but when it came to doing anything practical he was hopeless. Another example can be found in Radek–a superb writer and orator but a man who could not be depended upon. Similarly Bukharin was a spinner of wonderful theories but could not analyze a situation coolly and wisely and then act strongly.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 39
If we had not supported Stalin those years, I don’t know what might have happened. But Brezhnev pinned medals on everyone, and persons who cannot be trusted on any account have wormed their way into leading positions. [3-9-86]
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 415
CHUEV: Forty years have passed since World War II. I believe the Brezhnev period slowed us down terribly.
MOLOTOV: He did slow us down, no question about that. Khrushchevism was repeated in the Brezhnev period. This is so. This speaks to the fact that we have many rotten apples within the party itself and much backwardness, ignorance, and undereducation in the country.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 416
Sudoplatov remains a believer in the dream of communism and attributes its fall to the lesser men who followed Stalin.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. xiii
PARTY PLAGUED BY FACTIONS WITHIN
At a Politburo meeting Trotsky declared–this was in my presence–that our time was up, that we could no longer retain state power…. It was one of the most critical moments in our history. It was a turning point. We somehow had to make the transition to a new policy, but how were we to do it? We had little economic experience. And the political enemy was within the party. There was not simply one faction, there was Trotskyism, the Workers’ Opposition, Democratic Centralism, and all kinds of national groupings. Stalin played an outstanding role in their defeat.
A dangerous situation was developing in the party. There were two extremes: Trotsky at one end and right-wingers at the other.
Bukharin was promoting a different ideology, one that had nothing to do with looking after the people. He thought that since we had given land to the kulaks, if we now gave land to the middle peasants they too would be revived. But with what could we revive them?
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 126
WOMEN WERE NOT FOUND IN THE OPPOSITION
…it was only natural to expect that there would be some women members of the disloyal Opposition. Why there were not can perhaps be explained by the generalization that women as a sex benefited more than men from the Bolshevik revolution.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 232
OPPOSITION CLAIM THAT A NEW BOURGEOISIE HAD ARISEN IS FALSE
As we have seen, the “joint opposition” platform of 1927 proclaimed the rise of a “new bourgeoisie” in the USSR and, in the succeeding decades, the phrase became general in world anti-Soviet circles. But there was no bourgeoisie in any meaningful sense in the USSR. For there was no economic base for one. What did arise, as does not seem to have been recognized, was a historically new class.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 78
DIFFERENCES WITH THE OPPOSITION IN THE 20’S ARE NOT SMALL
The Opposition. In 1927 took place the massed offensive of the Opposition, all along the line, against the leadership of the Russian Party and of the Communist International….
Of what, exactly, did this Opposition consist? Reference used constantly to be made to it in our part of Europe. It is still quite frequently mentioned, even now. At first sight this Russian phenomenon or, rather, this phenomenon imported from Russia, is quite incomprehensible, except to the initiated. One hears that prominent revolutionaries, militant Socialists of the highest rank, suddenly begin to treat their Party as a foe, and to be treated as foes by it. One sees them suddenly leave the ranks and fight like demons amid torrents of abuse. They are eliminated, excluded, exiled–and all for questions of disagreement on what seem to be negligible shades of difference. One is tempted to conclude that everyone in the land of the New is terribly and fantasticly stubborn.
Not at all. When one goes closely into the matter one sees that what seemed complicated is really quite simple–but that what seemed superficial is really not so at all. It is not a question of shades of meaning, but of the widest possible differences really affecting the whole question of the future.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 157
OPPOSITION SPREADS DOOM AND GLOOM ABOUT THE REVOLUTION’S CHANCES
The Opposition did everything it could to discourage the Revolution and cast over the world (with all the force it could muster) doubt, the specter of ruin, desolation and perdition, and a shadow of decadence and of surrender.
“Shake up our Opposition,” said Stalin, “throw aside its revolutionary phraseology, and you will see that at the bottom of it lies capitulation!”
Trotskyism, which has to some extent spread over the globe, attacking the network of the Communist International, has done everything it could to destroy the work of October. Around Trotsky, all sorts of people from all sides, persons who have been banished, renegades, malcontents, and Anarchists carry on a campaign of systematic detraction and machine-wrecking, a struggle which is exclusively anti-Bolshevik and anti-Soviet, absolutely negative and containing every possible form of treason. All that these turncoats wish to do is to become the grave-diggers of the Russian Revolution.
One is quite justified in considering Trotsky as a counter-revolutionary, although that obviously does not mean that Trotsky harbors all the ideas of middle-class reactionaries against the USSR.
Stalin once said: “The Opposition will end by hurling itself into the arms of the Whites.” Some people were inclined to think that this prophecy went too far and was the result of the fierceness of the struggle. The bloody events of December 1934 have justified it in the most sinister way. Will this be the only justification of it that we shall have?
If the Opposition had won, the Party would have been split in two, and the Revolution would have been in a sorry state. Ordjonikidze wrote: “The triumph of Trotskyism would have meant the ruin of all the constructive plans of the Soviets. The victory of Stalin over Trotsky and over those of the Right is like a fresh success for the October Revolution.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 189-190
MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITION ATTACK ONE ANOTHER AS MUCH AS THEY ATTACK STALIN
The opposition groups remained small minorities within the party. Their leaders were motivated mainly by resentment of Stalin’s powering position,… The opposition leaders were, moreover, filled with malice and hatred towards each other. Zinoviev and Kamenev had vied in the virulence of their attacks on Trotsky. Trotsky had never disguised his contempt for his opponents and had been brutally outspoken in attacking them.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 212
The commonest characteristic of these [anti-Soviet] organizations was their disdain or even hatred of each other.
Alexandrov, Victor. The Tukhachevsky Affair. London: Macdonald, 1963, p. 85
MANY IMPORTANT PARTY LEADERS HAD OPPOSED STALIN AND LENIN FOR YEARS
…The alleged members of the Leningrad center were Kotolynov, Rumyantzev, Mendelshtam, Myasnikov, Levshin, Shatsky, Sositzky, and Nikolayev. All these alleged Zinovievists had in fact detested the very name of Zinoviev ever since his declaration of loyalty to Stalin at the 17th Party Congress–but they were all Party members who had taken part in the famous Leningrad Conference of 1926, a Conference unique in Soviet history for having passed a resolution of lack of confidence in the Party Central Committee headed by Stalin.
More surprises were in store for the Party. On December 22nd, 1934 Pravda wrote: “It appears that the assassins, loathsome agents of the class enemy, prostituted scoundrels, declared rogues, cowards and traitors were… the Zinoviev, Kamenev… Bakayev, Kuklin… Evdokimov, Zalutsky… Kotolynov, Rumyantzev… Shatsky, and Tollazov.” THESE WERE ALL VERY IMPORTANT PARTY OFFICERS AND MEN…
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 246
[Footnote]: In 1926 Pyatakov, then on the staff of the Soviet Embassy in Paris, sought to unite the various anti-Stalinist elements expelled from the French Communist Party. In Moscow, Trotsky & Zinoviev were forming the Joint Opposition, and Pyatakov’s task was to create a French counterpart to it. He held meetings with Rosmer, Dunois, Loriot, Souvarine, Monatte, Paz, and others, and initiated the publication of Contre le Courant.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 31
…he [Ivan Smirnov] joined the Trotskyist Opposition as soon as it was formed. He helped to organize it, signed its every declaration, freely voiced extremist views, and was in and out of trouble from as early as 1923. Later he acted as a link between scattered Trotskyist groups and continued openly to support the movement even after Trotsky’s exile. He recanted in the end, though later than others. His apology to Stalin did not save him from arrest. He too confessed at his trial, but with certain important reservations.
Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 92
WHAT KINDS OF GROUPS ARE IN THE SUBVERSIVE OPPOSITION
What section of the population in the Soviet Union supported all these groups which based their whole political line on the impossibility of building Socialism in a single country? Obviously, those who did not desire to see Socialism built anywhere–the ex-Tsarist bureaucrat, the bourgeois specialist who hoped for the gradual restoration of capitalism, the urban merchant and shopkeeper, the capitalist peasant, the bourgeois nationalist and the politically degenerate sections of the army. During the years of the open Trotskyist opposition, from 1923 to 1927, those elements lay low and hoped for a Trotskyist victory. They did not mind under what slogans that trickery was achieved. Let the slogans appear to be ever so left, the victory of a group which did not believe in the possibility of realizing Socialism in the Soviet Union meant the victory of the forces of capitalist restoration.
It was when the defeat of Trotsky dashed all their hopes that these counter-revolutionary elements increased their activity enormously. The old bourgeois experts in the mining industry engaged in a course of systematic sabotage which was finally discovered and exposed in the Shakhty trial in 1928. An important group of bourgeois experts and technicians came together in the “Industrial Party,” decided on measures of sabotage and wrecking, established relations with Russian capitalist circles abroad, and prepared for intervention.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 228
After studying archival documents, Broue came to the conclusion that the Trial of Sixteen used certain facts which were actually true. “If we decide to treat the official minutes of the first Moscow trial as a palimpsest, suppressing from them all mention of terrorism,” he writes, “we find the story of a political evolution of political people in a changing but dramatic situation.” The French historian considers the following facts which were mentioned at the trial to be real. After his return from exile Safarov proposed to his comrades in the opposition that they return to a discussion of ways to fight against Stalin (Kamenev’s testimony); in 1931-1932 Zinoviev entered into oppositional contact with Smirnov, Sokolnikov, leaders of the former “Workers Opposition” Shliapnikov and Medvedev and members of the Sten -Lominadze Group (Zinoviev’s testimony); during this period Zinoviev and Kamenev thought that it was possible and necessary “to remove Stalin” (that is, to remove him from the post of general secretary), and also to establish contact with Trotsky (testimony of Zinoviev and Kamenev);…
the anti-Stalinist bloc finally took form in June 1932. After a few months Goltsman passed information to Sedov about the bloc, and then brought back to Moscow Trotsky’s reply about agreeing to collaborate with the bloc.
In relations with Trotsky and Sedov and their co-thinkers in the USSR, the conspiracy was outstandingly maintained. Although the GPU conducted careful surveillance of them, it was unable to uncover any meetings, correspondence or other forms of their contact with Soviet oppositionists. And far from all of the opposition contacts inside the Soviet Union were tracked down. Although there was a series of arrests of participants in illegal opposition groups at the end of 1932 and the beginning of 1933, not a single one of those arrested mentioned negotiations about the creation of a bloc. For this reason several of the participants in these negotiations (Lominadze, Shatskin, Goltsman and others) remained at liberty until 1935-1936. Only after a new wave of arrests following Kirov’s assassination, after interrogations and re-interrogations of dozens of Oppositionists, did Stalin receive information about the 1932 bloc, which served as one of the main reasons for organizing the Great Purge.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 63
STALIN’S OPPONENTS PRACTICED THE VERY SUPPRESSION THEY ACCUSED STALIN OF
On the face of it, the opposition could well have argued that Stalin’s control of, and claim to represent, the Party was based on no higher sanction than success in packing the Party Congresses, that in fact he had no real claim to be regarded as the genuine succession. But the oppositionists themselves had used similar methods in their day, and had never criticized them until a more skilled operator turned the weapon against them.
In 1923, Stalin was already able to attack such arguments from his opponents by pointing out that appeals for democracy came oddly from people like Byeloborodov and Rosengoltz, who had ruled Rostov and the Donetz basin, respectively, in the most authoritarian fashion. Even more to the point, in 1924 Shliapnikov ironically remarked that Trotsky and his followers had all supported the action taken against the Workers’ Opposition at the 10th Party Congress in 1921,so that their claims to stand for Party democracy were hypocritical.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 114
And the Stalinists were able to comment tellingly, as when Mikoyan said, “While Zinoviev is in the majority he is for iron discipline…. When he is in the minority… he is against it.”
When Stalin proceeded to the further step of arresting those responsible for the Trotskyite underground printing press, headed by Mrachkovsky, in 1927, he was again able to refute opposition objections, remarking: “They say that such things are unknown of the Party. This is not true. What about the Myasnikov group? And the Workers’ Truth group? Does not everyone know that comrades Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev themselves supported the arrest of the members of these groups?”
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 115
LEFT AND RIGHT DIFFER ON HOW FAST SOCIALIZATION SHOULD PROCEED
The left Bolsheviks saw the chief danger to socialism in the slow recovery of industry and pressed for rapid industrialization. The right-wing thought the position of socialism to be secure, even if industrialization were to proceed slowly, ‘at a snail’s pace’ as Bukharin put it.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 300
OPPOSITION COMPLAINED THAT THE PARTY WAS NOT HARD ENOUGH
The party had tried to squeeze more out of the workers in factories and mines by rationalizing the process of production. But this was never enough to satisfy the critics on the political left. In their diverse ways the oppositionists,The Democratic Centralists, The Workers’ Opposition, the Left Opposition, the Leningrad Opposition, and the United Opposition,made the Politburo edgy by castigating it for ideological cowardice and betrayal.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 255
BUKHARIN WAS WEAK AND UNBALANCED
Bukharin had a special love of animals. His flat was filled with caged birds, and there were more in his country residence, a simple wooden datcha near Moscow. No greater pleasure could be offered him than the gift of a bird of a species of which he had no specimen. But he was also a sufferer from neurasthenia. His irresolution and infinite softheartedness–he would never have accepted an office in which he must sign death warrants–did not prevent him from suddenly making inflammatory speeches in the party or at meetings of the Politburo and demanding the death penalty. He was obviously weak and unbalanced.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 180
…But both [Bukharin & Zinoviev] were arrogant. Bukharin comported himself with great self-confidence, though he was extremely unstable politically.
…Lenin valued Bukharin, but he placed him last among the three candidates to the Politburo, after me and Kalinin…. I have said that Bukharin was very muddleheaded. Not only Lenin but others too recognized this.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 116
I didn’t take part in the early years, but after 1921, after the transition to the NEP, I sat almost next to Trotsky at the Politburo. I sat next to Lenin, with Trotsky in front of me. Trotsky was the first and constant opponent of Lenin. But he was flexible at that time and worked as part of the team. That’s why Lenin still valued him. But after Lenin, of the four Politburo members only Stalin remained. Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev deviated. And Bukharin, the third candidate to the Politburo, also deviated…. You see, he [Lenin] used to say that Bukharin was a wonderful person, a party favorite, but he was devilishly unstable in politics. In politics! And politics was the most important thing! Struggle was everywhere, relentless struggle. We were pressed first from one side, then from another.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 125
BUKHARIN OPPOSED STALIN’S MAJOR PROGRAMS
Neither of these two leaders [Bukharin and Rykov] could agree with the radical policy which Stalin had introduced in 1928; it was against their whole mentality and temperament…. Moreover, Bukharin was one of those who did not believe in the possibility of establishing a socialist economic system in the Soviet Union with capitalism still ruling in the rest of the world. He was also against accelerated industrialization, and especially against agricultural collectivization and the persecution of the big farmers.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 181
Regardless of his intentions, Bukharin’s platform, like Trotsky’s earlier, would have undermined the construction of socialism. If the NEP had continued for “many decades,” capitalism would have become dominant. Without industrialization the Soviet Union would, as Stalin said and subsequent events demonstrated, have been crushed in war; the continuation of individual farms, with their kulak “nests,” would in time have undermined proletarian rule. When we examine the platforms of Trotsky & Bukharin, the strength of Stalin, with his stubborn practicality and firm socialist perspective, becomes increasingly obvious.
Once again, Stalin, as General Secretary, gave the answer of the majority of the Central Committee to the new opposition:
“Those who support Comrade Bukharin’s group hope to persuade the class enemy that he should voluntarily forgo his interests and voluntarily surrender his grain surplus. They hope that the kulak, who has grown, who is able to avoid giving grain by offering other products in its place and who conceals his grain surplus, they hope that this same kulak will give us his grain surplus voluntarily at our collection prices. Have they lost their senses? Is it not obvious that they do not understand the mechanism of the class struggle, that they do not know what classes mean? Do they know with what derision the kulak’s treat our people and the Soviet Government at village meetings called to assist the grain collections? Have they heard of facts like this, for instance: one of our agitators in Kazakhstan for two hours tried to persuade the holders of grain to surrender that grain for supplying the country. At the end of the talk a kulak stepped forth with his pipe in his mouth and said: “Do us a little dance, young fellow, and I will let you have a couple of poods of grain”…. Try to persuade people like that. Class is class, comrades. You cannot get away from that truth.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 63
Stalin and Bukharin differed profoundly over many aspects of socialism. Bukharin wanted to go slowly with the peasants, and delay the ending of the NEP; he was against subordinating the interests of the working-class movements in other countries to those of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; he also held that the Revolution need not take place everywhere by armed uprising and force…. Stalin believed his socialism should be the pattern for all countries; Bukharin did not. Stalin wanted more and more centralization of power in the USSR “in the name of world Revolution”; but Bukharin’s views were diametrically opposed to his on this point.
Stalin…made it extremely difficult for Buryto to put forward their program; nevertheless they succeeded in publishing its main points: (1) Not to end NEP but to continue it for at least ten years; (2) to limit the compulsory sale of farm produce to the State and allow free market prices; (3) To curtail the State monopoly of trade; (4) While pursuing industrialization, to remember that the Revolution was made for the ordinary man, and that, therefore, far more energy must be given to light industry–socialism is made by happy, well-fed men, not starving beggars; (5) To halt the compulsory collectivization of agriculture and the destruction of kulaks.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press, 1956, p. 86
Stalin and Bukharin clashed every time they met.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 261
BUKHARIN OPPOSED THE IDEA OF SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY
There was therefore formed, under Bukharin’s and Rykov’s leadership, a small opposition group, which became known as the Right-wing Opposition…. The party congress had long-ago raised the formula ‘It is possible to build up Socialism even in a single country’ to a principal of the party which no one must question. Bukharin and Rykov had questioned it; they were therefore undeniably heretics.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 182
STALIN ATTACKS BUKHARIN WITH VICIOUS WORDS
In a letter of June 8, 1929, Voroshilov said to Ordzhonikidze, “At the last of Politburo meeting, a rather nasty affair broke out between Bukharin and me. The Chinese affair was being discussed. Some favored a demonstration of military force on the Manchurian border. Bukharin spoke out sharply against this. In my speech I mentioned that at one time Bukharin had identified the Chinese revolution with ours to such an extent that the ruin of the Chinese revolution was equivalent to our ruin. Bukharin said in reply that we have all said different things at different times, but only you, Voroshilov alone, had advocated support for Feng & Chiang Kai-shek, who are presently slaughtering workers. This unpardonable nonsense [against you] so infuriated me that I lost my self-control and blurted out in Bukharin’s face, ‘you liar, bastard, I’ll punch you in the face,’ and other such nonsense and all in front of a large number of people. Bukharin is trash and is capable of telling the most vile fabrications straight to your face, putting an especially innocent and disgustingly holy expression on his everlasting Jesuitical countenance; this is now clear to me, but still, I did not behave properly.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 149
In a September 16, 1926, letter to Molotov Stalin said, “Bukharin is a swine and perhaps worse than a swine because he considers it beneath his dignity to write even two lines about his impressions of Germany.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 127
In an August 21, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “You’re right when you say that Bukharin is going downhill. It’s sad but a fact. What can you say?–it must be ‘fate.’ It’s strange, though, that he hopes to trick the party with petty, underhanded ‘maneuvers.’ He is a typical representative of the spineless, effete intelligent in politics, leaning in the direction of a Kadet lawyer. The hell with him….”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 168
In an August 23, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “Just as I thought, Bukharin has slid into the swamp of opportunism and must now resort to gossip, forgery, and blackmail: he doesn’t have any other arguments left. Talk of ‘documents’ and ‘land nationalization’ and so forth is the fraud of a petty lawyer who has gone bankrupt in his ‘practice.’ If his disagreements with the present Central committee are explainable in terms of Stalin’s ‘personality,’ then how does one explain his disagreements with the Central Committee when Lenin lived? Lenin’s ‘personality’? But why does he praise Lenin so much now, after his death? Isn’t it for the same reason that all renegades like Trotsky praise Lenin (after his death!)?”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 173
In a letter around September 15, 1930, Stalin said to Molotov, “It is very good that the Politburo has opened fire on Rykov & Co. Although Bukharin, so it seems, is invisible in this matter, he is undoubtedly the key instigator and rabble-rouser against the party. It is quite clear that he would feel better in a Sukhanov-Kondratiev party, where he (Bukharin) would be on the “extreme left,’ than in the Communist Party, where he can only be a rotten defeatist and a pathetic opportunist.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 216
[In a letter to Kaganovich on 30 August 1931 Stalin stated] I read Bukharin’s speech (the transcript). It is an empty, non-Bolshevik speech that is out of touch with real life. At the same time, it is and an inept, amateurish attempt to “outline” a platform for the former rightists against the Central Committee of the All-Union of the Communist Party with regard to a host of economic issues and worker supply. A strange person, this Comrade Bukharin! Why did he have to put on this act?
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 69
BUKHARIN IS A SPLITTER
On August 13, 1929, the Politburo passed the following resolution by voice vote. “The two recent letters from Comrade Bukharin of July 22, 1929, addressed to the Central Committee, testify that Comrade Bukharin continues to use the method of struggle with the party and its Central Committee chosen by him of late, making indirect sorties against decisions of the Central Committee…and permitting himself further masked attacks on the party line in speeches and articles…. Furthermore, each time the party catches Comrade Bukharin at this, he squirms out of a direct answer and an admission of his mistakes and in reality covers them up….
Thus, instead of helping to mobilize the broad masses of workers under the Communist banner of the working class, in this speech, Comrade Bukharin completely violates the Marxist method of dialectics; furthermore, he continues to struggle against the party leadership…. he is using any excuse to continue the battle against the party’s policy.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 154-155
BUKHARIN WAS BECOMING A SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT LIKE THOSE IN THE WEST
… Stalin aimed at one-party dictatorship and complete centralization. Bukharin envisaged several parties and even nationalist parties, and stood for the maximum of decentralization. He was also in favor of vesting authority in the various constituent republics and thought that the more important of these should even control their own foreign relations. By 1936, Bukharin was approaching the social democratic standpoint of the left-wing socialists of the West.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 43
DZERSHINSKY ACCUSES BUKHARIN OF BEING OPPOSED TO THE GPU
[Letter from Bukharin, editor of Pravda, to Dzerzhinsky, December 1924 on the necessity for more liberal policies]
I was not at the last meeting of the executive group. I heard that you, by the way, said there that I and Sokolnikov are “against the GPU” etc.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 18
DESPITE HIS OPPOSITION BUKHARIN RETAINED HIGH POSITIONS
[In 1931 Tokaev said] Had they forgotten that, though dropped from the Politburo and the Comintern, Bukharin had still been re-elected to the Central Committee? Had they forgotten that he was Deputy-Commissar of the People for Heavy Industry?
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 149
In the first half of the 1930s neither Bukharin nor Rykov was charged with underground or anti-Soviet activities. References to “Bukharin’s group” would be made again and again at the political trials of 1936 and 1937, which were engineered by Stalin and his close aides. During public court hearings some of the accused would “suddenly” testify that Bukharin and Rykov had played a role in “counter-revolutionary centers” headed by Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Pyatakov.
The political accusations against Bukharin were picked up by the press. There appeared stories against “enemies in the people,” which referred to Bukharin as a “counter-revolutionary figure.” In the meantime, he remained editor-in-chief of Izvestia, and a candidate member of the Central Committee.
Bukharin joined the Bolshevik party in 1906, from 1917 to 1934 he was a member of the party’s Central Committee, and in 1934-1937 was a candidate member of the Central Committee. For 10 years he worked in the Central Committee’s Politburo (in 1919-1923 as an alternate member, and in 1924-1929 as a full member). For years he was the editor of Pravda, and in the last years of his life he was the editor of Izvestia. For a number of years he headed the Executive Committee of the Communist international. He was a member of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
Political Archives of the Soviet Union (Vol. 1, No. 2) Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1990, p. 148
STALIN AND BUKHARIN WERE CLOSE FRIENDS FOR YEARS
From 1927, at Stalin’s insistence Bukharin lived in the Kremlin, and after the death of Stalin’s wife they even exchanged apartments, because, Stalin explained, he wished to escape the constant reminder of that fateful night. Bukharin, being a sensitive person, cherished his feelings of friendship, decency, and sincerity in their relationship. They always addressed each other in the familiar ‘ty’ form. Stalin always called Bukharin ‘Nikolai’ and Bukharin always addressed the General Secretary by his old revolutionary nickname ‘Koba’. In the period 1924 to 1928 Stalin listened attentively to Bukharin’s views, frequently asserting in public ‘that Lenin rated his theoretical mind highly’ and that the party treasured his native abilities.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 174
STALIN PROTECTED BUKHARIN FROM LEFTIST ATTACKS IN THE 1920’S
From 1925 to 1927 Stalin and Bukharin were the most influential figures in the party. And it was Bukharin who in effect helped Stalin in his conflict with Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev, even though he tried at the same time to remain loyal to them. With their departure from the Politburo, Stalin’s and Bukharin’s influence over current and strategic issues rose noticeably. It had not been long before that Stalin turned angrily on the oppositionists who were attacking Bukharin, with, “So, you want Bukharin’s blood? We won’t give you his blood, and you’d better know it!”
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 179
BUKHARIN CALLS STALIN A GENGHIS KHAN AND CRITICIZES HIM
[Around 1930] Frightening news again from the countryside. Bukharin has called Koba a Genghis Khan.
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 115
Anna…married Bukharin, and they lived in the Kremlin in an apartment that Stalin had abandoned after his wife committed suicide. Bukharin soon admitted to his bride that for the past few years he had considered Stalin a monster bent on destroying the Party of Lenin and ruling through sheer force of terror and personality.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 65
He [Stalin] is the new Genghis Khan. He will slaughter us all.–Bukharin, 1928.
Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 19
Other things in the “Transcript” [transcript of Bukharin’s conversation with Kamenev on January 20, 1929] also strike me as completely realistic: for example, when Bukharin is quoted as saying, ” What can you do when you are dealing with an opponent like this Genghis Khan?”
Larina, Anna. This I Cannot Forget. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993, p. 117
On January 30, 1929, 10 days after the publication of the “Transcript,” Bukharin sent an explanation of his sharp pronouncements about Stalin to the Central Committee. This statement became known as Bukharin’s platform. In it, he assailed the general secretary’s policies as synonymous with a military and feudal exploitation of the peasantry, with the disintegration of the Comintern, and with the installation of bureaucratism in the Party.
Larina, Anna. This I Cannot Forget. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993, p. 120
Set off by quotation marks, the phrase “caused the country to argue with the muzhik” was indeed Bukharin’s. So, too, was “had driven the country into a blind alley,” which should also have been put in quotation marks. But these phrases, which dated from 1928, were widely known.
Larina, Anna. This I Cannot Forget. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993, p. 259
In 1928 he [Bukharin] said to Kirov, “He [Stalin] will strangle us. He is an unprincipled intriguer who subordinates everything to his appetite for power.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 83
BUKHARIN IS EXPELLED FROM 3 MAJOR POSITIONS IN 1929
[In the Introduction Stephen Cohen states]: In late 1929, the new Stalinist majority stripped him [Bukharin] of all his leadership positions–member of the Politburo, editor of the Party’s newspaper Pravda, and head of the Moscow-based Communist International.
Larina, Anna. This I Cannot Forget. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993, p. 16
STALIN REPEATEDLY SHOWED HIS FRIENDSHIP TOWARD BUKHARIN
Yet, simultaneously, Stalin “petted” my husband. In the spring of 1935, at a banquet for graduates of the military academies, he gave this toast: “Let us drink, comrades, to Bukharin, and let bygones be bygones!” The toast was considered a sincere expression of Stalin’s attitude toward Bukharin.
Larina, Anna. This I Cannot Forget. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993, p. 64
To take another example, Stalin phoned in the summer of 1934 to congratulate Nikolai on a speech about poetry he had given at the First Congress of Soviet Writers. Stalin was especially pleased by Bukharin’s analysis that the poet Bedny was in danger of falling behind the times. Another time, Stalin phoned in the dead of night, waking us up. When I went to the telephone, I heard three words: “Stalin. Call Nikolai!” Nikolai said to me, ” More trouble again,” and uneasily took the receiver. But there was no trouble. Stalin, not sober,” had called to which us well on our marriage. “Nikolai, I congratulate you! You outspit me this time, too!” Nikolai did not ask about the phrase “this time, too,” but did want to know how he had “outspit” Stalin, who replied, “A good wife, a beautiful wife, a young one… younger than my Nadya!” This is the way he talked, even though by then she was no longer among the living.
Larina, Anna. This I Cannot Forget. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993, p. 65
BUKHARIN AND TROTSKY OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM
Once more Bucharin, Trotsky, and others reflected the doubts and fears concerning the new era. Bucharin wanted to dispose of the state monopoly of foreign trade and to allow Western capitalism to satisfy the demand for consumer and industrial goods more freely. Trotsky was in favor of starting an economic drive against the peasants as a means of ending what was called the “scissors crisis” — the widening gap between industrial and agricultural prices.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 149
BUKHARIN, RYKOV, AND TOMSKY WENT TO TROTSKY’S SIDE
The Bolsheviks set a tremendous pace. Soon it proved too much for Rykov, Bucharin, Tomsky, and others, and they passed into Trotsky’s camp. New leaders came up to the side of Stalin, leaders of a new type: Kaganovich, Kubishev, Kirov, all most able organizers and administrators, all passionately convinced that socialism in one country was possible.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 161
The Buryto group was formed because Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky were the only members of the Politburo to vote against Trotsky’s banishment in 1928.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 85
Trotsky was assisted in his fight against Lenin and the Party by Bukharin. With Preobrazhensky, Serebryakov and Sokolnikov, Bukharin formed a “buffer” group. This group defended and shielded the Trotskyites, the most vicious of all factionalists. Lenin said that Bukharin’s behavior was the “acme of ideological depravity.”
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 253
BUKHARIN SWITCHES FROM LEFT TO RIGHT LEADER
Footnote: Bucharin had called himself a “Left Communist”; now, after Trotsky’s debacle, he began to formulate the principles of what was soon to be publicly known as the Right Opposition.
Behind the scenes, Bucharin formulated the real program of the Right Opposition at conspiratorial meetings with Trotsky’s representatives, and with agents of the other underground organizations.
Trotsky at first resented Bucharin’s assumption of leadership of the movement he had initiated; but, after a brief period of rivalry and even feuding, the differences were reconciled. The public and “legal” phase of the Right Opposition lasted until November 1929 when a plenum of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party declared that the propaganda of the views of the Rights was incompatible with membership in the Party. Bucharin, Rykov, and Tomsky were removed from their high official positions.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 207-208
Bukharin was a left-winger during the Brest Peace and afterward turned to the right.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 119
Only one member of the Politburo, Bukharin, openly backed the Georgian and Ukrainian oppositions.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; a Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 255
KAMENEV WAS TOO OFTEN A MENSHEVIK
Kamenev, who in all crises proved himself more a Menshevik and than a Bolshevik,
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 88
Kamenev was a rightist, a typical 100 percent rightist. Sometimes he concealed this, but most of the time he spoke quite openly. And against Lenin, too…. But Lenin never trusted Zinoviev…and he was extremely unsteady. Lenin kept correcting him, putting him in his place….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 106
STALIN OFTEN OPPOSED KAMENEV IN THE PAST
In the summer of 1915 Comrade Stalin managed to attend a large meeting of exiled Bolsheviks in the village of Monastyrskoye in Turukhansk…. Comrade Stalin at this meeting denounced Kamenev’s despicable conduct at the trial of the Bolshevik Duma group.
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 79
ZINOVIEV AND KAMENEV BEGIN LEFT OPPOSITION AGAINST STALIN AFTER TROTSKY’S DEFEAT
Almost immediately after the defeat of the Trotskyist Left Opposition there arose a “new,” or ” Leningrad,” Opposition headed by Zinoviev and Kamenev, about whom I shall speak briefly.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 136
ZINOVIEV AND KAMENEV TRY TO TAKE OVER THE PARTY AFTER SPLIT WITH STALIN
The majority of the Politburo did not support Zinoviev and Kamenev. Nevertheless, they continued to argue their views, mainly in the Leningrad press. The party apparatus of Leningrad and the northern regions was almost entirely handpicked by Zinoviev from among his close supporters; not surprisingly, then, the Leningrad press spoke up strongly in support of his position. All of Stalin’s efforts to penetrate the Leningrad party apparatus with his own supporters were fruitless. The result was a phenomenon quite unusual in Soviet life: an open polemic between two units of the party, the Moscow committee and the Leningrad committee.
The Fourteenth Party Congress was held at the end of December 1925. Before the Congress Stalin proposed a compromise to Zinoviev but on the condition that the Leningrad party organization be under Central Committee control and cease to be under Zinoviev’s personal command. Zinoviev refused. But he did try to obtain guarantees that after the congress no repressive measures would be taken against members of this so-called “New Opposition” as long as they ceased any open oppositional activity. Stalin refused to give any such guarantees. Thus he provoked the New Opposition into presenting its platform directly to the party congress, although it had no chance of success. Zinoviev was a sufficiently experienced apparatchik to understand the situation; yet he demanded the right to present a minority report at the congress. The request was granted….
As was expected, the New Opposition suffered a complete defeat at the congress. The resolution based on Stalin’s report for the Central Committee was adopted by 559 votes to 65. In 1925 the party rejected Zinoviev and Kamenev’s claims to leadership of the Central Committee just as it had rejected similar attempts by Trotsky in 1924.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 151-154
TROTSKY AND ZINOVIEV UNITE AND FORGIVE EACH OTHER
Not surprisingly the unification of these two groups [the Trotskyites and Zinovievites] in the party was accompanied by a mutual pardoning of sins.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 158
In May 1931 Sedov met in Berlin with Ivan N. Smirnov, a Civil War commander, close friend of Trotsky’s, and former leading oppositionist. At the time of the meeting, he headed the important Gorky auto factory. According to Broue, negotiations began in June 1932 among dissidents inside the USSR with the object of forming a bloc. In October, a Soviet official named Holtzman, a former Trotskyist, also conferred with Sedov in Berlin and gave him a secret government memorandum on economic conditions in the USSR. It appeared the next month in Bulletin of the Opposition, an emigre socialist journal.
Holtzman also brought Sedov a proposal from Smirnov. Supposedly Smirnov had broken with Trotsky in the late 1920s, but he now proposed that a united opposition, to include Trotskyites, Zinovievites, and others, be formed inside the Soviet Union. Trotsky was excited by the prospect but cautious about his followers’ participation in the bloc. It could be only a loose coalition, not a merger of groups against Stalin.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 25
KAMENEV PROPOSES STATE CAPITALISM OVER SOCIALISM IN 1925
[In 1925] another debate began to rage round the question of whether the Soviet industrial enterprises should be “rigorously Socialistic” in complexion. Kamenev used the phrase “State Capitalism”, carrying his mischievous argument so far as actually to propose that the workers should be given a share in the profits of State enterprises.
Barmine, Alexandre. Memoirs of a Soviet Diplomat. London: L. Dickson limited,1938, p. 216
ZINOVIEV’S AIDE CAUSES TROUBLE IN THE MILITARY
The most delicate issue of all was the opposition’s behavior in the army. After Frunze’s death, Voroshilov was appointed Commissar of War, as if to crown the revenge of the Tsaritsyn group on Trotsky. But Lashevich, Zinoviev’s friend and supporter, was still Voroshilov’s deputy. Unlike the opposition of 1924, the present opposition, after much hesitation, began to carry the struggle into the armed forces. In July 1926 Stalin exposed before the Central Committee Lashevich’s doings, the semi-secret organization of the sympathizers of the opposition among the military. This was a shattering blow for the opposition. Lashevich was dismissed from his military post and expelled from the Central Committee. Zinoviev, his protector, lost his seat on the Politburo.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 308
ZINOVIEV BECAME THE LEADER OF THE SPLITTERS
In a June 25, 1926, letter to Molotov, Rykov, Bukharin, and other friends, Stalin said, “Before the appearance of the Zinoviev group, those with oppositional tendencies (Trotsky, the workers opposition, and others) behaved more or less loyally and were more or less tolerable; with the appearance of the Zinoviev group, those with oppositional tendencies began to grow arrogant and break the abounds of loyalty; the Zinoviev group became the mentor of everyone in the opposition who was for splitting the party; in effect it has become the leader of the splitting tendencies in the party.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 115
STALIN ATTACKS ZINOVIEV’S WRITING
On July 11, 1927, Stalin sent a letter to Molotov stating, “I received Zinoviev’s article ‘The contours of the Coming War. Are you really going to publish this ignorant piece of trash? I am decidedly against publication.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 143
In a September 9, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “Besides, I resolutely protest against the fact that, despite the Politburo resolution, Zinoviev has become one of the permanent staff members (and directors?) of Pravda. Can’t an end be put to this outrage?”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 178
As to Zinoviev and Kamenev, I [Stalin] despise them for lack of principle in their tactics. I know that they have directed their supporters to dissimulate in order to remain in the Party, and to go for me in the event of international complications. These are the tactics of treachery; we shall have to strike first, before they can carry into effect their plan of treason….”
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 56
SOME POLIBURO MEMBERS WERE KEPT OUT OF THE LOOP
As far as I know, no one has written about this, but in fact each member of the Politburo was backed by his own coterie. Even under Lenin. Lenin suggested convening Politburo meetings without Trotsky. We reached an agreement against Trotsky. And a year or two later we were meeting without Zinoviev and Kamenev. Later without Bukharin, Tomsky, and Rykov. They remained in the Politburo, but we didn’t keep them informed, of course.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 121
KRUPSKAYA EVENTUALLY SUPPORTED THE PARTY LINE AFTER LENIN’S DEATH
These remarks [by Krupskaya] were made from the floor. Krupskaya was becoming Trotsky’s comrade-in-arms; she was switching to Trotskyist rails…. After Lenin’s death she in fact spoke out briefly against him [Bukharin]. But later she began supporting the party line and the trials of the Trotskyists and right-wingers as well. Krupskaya followed Lenin all her life, before and after the Revolution. But she understood nothing about politics. Nothing. In 1925 she became confused and followed Zinoviev. And Zinoviev took an anti-Leninist position.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 131
SOME TROTS STAYED IN HIGH POSITIONS EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE KNOWN AS TROTS
From 1921-23 he [0sinsky] was deputy commissar of agriculture. He supported Trotsky in 1923. He was made Gosplan president in 1925. The 1926-28 he directed the Central Statistical Administration, and in 1929 he was deputy chairman of the Supreme Council on National Economy. The Tenth, and Fourteenth through Seventeenth Congresses made him a candidate Central Committee member. 0sinsky objected violently, at the Eighth Party Congress of March 1919, to the Politburo’s decision-making powers, pointing out that it made the other members of the Central Committee “second-rate.”
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 252
He [Pyatakov] co-authored the Trotsky opposition from 1923-27, was expelled from the Party by the 15th Congress, then readmitted in 1929 as director of the State Bank. From 1930-36 he was Ordjonikidze’s deputy commissar of Heavy Industry.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 251
From 1922-27 he [Drobnis] chaired the RSFSR Small Council for Peoples’ Commissars but was expelled from the CP for Trotskyism by the 15th Party Congress. He recanted and was reinstated in 1929, but was accused of Trotskyist sabotage and executed in 1937.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 253
In September 1930 he [Stalin] wrote to Molotov:
“Careful surveillance needs to be maintained for a while over Pyatakov, that genuinely rightist Trotskyist (a second Sokolnikov) who now represents the most harmful element in the composition of the block of Rykov-Pyatakov”
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 279
SOME ZINOVIEVISTS RECANT
There had been very few capitulations among the deportees. One notorious case was that of Safarov, the former leader of the Komsomol who had signed a formula of recantation and was recalled to Moscow. However, Safarov’s case was exceptional in that he was not a Trotskyist. He had belonged to Zinoviev’s faction but had at first refused to capitulate with his leader, had gone with the Trotskyists into exile, and only then, on second thoughts, capitulated.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 411
KRUPSKAYA WAS A SPLITTER ALSO
In a September 16, 1926, letter to Molotov Stalin said, “Krupskaya is a splitter (see her speech about “ Stockholm’ at the 14th Congress). She has to be beaten, as a splitter, if we want to preserve the unity of the party.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 127
TROTSKY’S SUPPORTERS DO FAKE RECANTATION
Trotsky’s supporters in Russia paid lip service to the victorious majority, and many of them were restored to posts of high importance, but in spirit they remained loyal to their exiled leader and were ready to do his bidding when the occasion should arise.
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc., 1941, p. 73
A large number of Trotskyists were also re-integrated, including Preobrazhensky and Radek.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 135 [p. 116 on the NET]
In September 1928, Kamenev contacted some Trotskyists, asking them to rejoin the Party and to wait `till the crisis matures’.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 135-136 [p. 117 on the NET]
Just as the July 1928 plenum was taking place, about 40 Left Oppositionists, including Kamenev, were readmitted to the party and returned to Moscow.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 198
Trotsky and Rakovsky were unrepentant and unyielding. Zinoviev, Radek, Pyatakov, Sokolnikov, Smilga, and host of others were goaded on ‘to sin in loving virtue’. Throughout 1928 and 1929 there was a steady traffic of ‘repenting’ members of the opposition from their places of exile to Moscow.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 316
In April 1926, Evdokimov the only Zinovievite on the Secretariat, was removed. In July, Zinoviev was expelled from the Politburo, being replaced by the Stalinist Rudzutak; in October, Trotsky and Kamenev were expelled in turn. In October, the opposition submitted. Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Pyatakov, Sokolnikov, and Evdokimov denounced their own offenses, a most striking precedent for the long series of self-denunciations by the oppositionists.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 11
Pyatakov capitulated as early as February 1928. By mid-1929, Krestinsky, Radek, and most of the other “Trotskyites” had petitioned for readmission to the Party. Of the leaders, Rakovsky alone held out (until 1934).
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 17
…Rakovsky and Sosnovsky, the last leading oppositionists in exile, finally made their peace with the regime, giving the war danger as their main motive…. But now he [Rakovsky] was persuaded. He was welcomed back by Kaganovich in person. It was plain that an air of general reconciliation was prevalent.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 30
[Commentary by David Doyle]
Footnote: All three [Serebryakov, Preobrazhensky, and Krestinsky] were supporters of Trotsky and were expelled from the party in 1927 along with most of Lenin’s former closest collaborators. Serebryakov was exiled to Siberia in 1928, capitulated and returned in 1929. He was tried in January 1937 and disappeared, probably shot. [He was openly sentenced to be shot and never disappeared].
…The three were expelled from the Central Committee in 1921 for their sport of Trotsky. In the early 1920s the Troika sent him [Krestinsky] to Berlin as ambassador. In 1927 he was expelled from the Party, but in 1928 was one of the important Party leaders who recanted, his defection being one of the first signs that Trotsky had finally lost to Stalin.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 243
Paradoxically, Stalin viewed with some uneasiness the rush of the capitulators to Moscow, much though he benefited from it. Many thousands of Trotskyists and Zinovievists were now back in and around the party, forming a distinctive milieu. Stalin did not allow a single one of them to occupy any office of political importance. But the administrators, the economists, and the educationists were assigned to posts on all rungs of the government, where they were bound to exercise an influence. Although Stalin could not doubt their zeal for the left course, especially for industrialization, he knew what value to attach to the recantations he had extracted from them. They remained Oppositionists at heart. They considered themselves the wronged pioneers of the left course. They hated him not merely as their persecutor, but as the man who had robbed them of their ideas.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 82
Professions of repentance came pouring in, and Stalin graciously allowed the repentant “leftists” to return from exile. Pyatakov, Smilga, Rakovsky, Beloborodov, and other notables condemned Trotsky and came back into the Party.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 237
The policy of the Soviet government after the hard fights against the opposition in the end of the 1920-ies giving a new chance to all those opposing the socialist construction was not very successful. All these Trotskyists and others belonging to the political right and the so called left within of the party, which had fought the Soviet government, were allowed to keep or got back their highly positioned posts, which caused considerable damage to the Soviet union during the 1930-ies.
Sousa, Mario. The Class Struggle during the Thirties in the Soviet Union, 2001.
TROTSKYITES ARE READMITTED TO PARTY
January 11, 1929–is unlikely that the Trotskyists will be allowed to return or resume office in the near future, save at the price of complete submission. Some of them, including, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Sokolnikov, and Pyatakov, already have submitted and received responsible positions.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 161
If Lenin had been the Caesar of the Soviet Union, then Stalin was becoming its Augustus, it’s “augmenter,” in every respect. Stalin’s building grew and grew. But he could not be blind to the fact that there were still people who refused to believe in this visible, tangible work, and who had more faith in Trotsky’s theses than in the evidence of their eyes.
Even amongst the very men in whom Stalin was a good friend and whom he called to high positions, there were some who had more faith in Trotsky’s word than Stalin’s work. They hindered this work, resisted it, sabotaged. They were called to account and their guilt was established. Stalin pardoned them and reinstated them in important positions.
What must have been Stalin’s thoughts and feelings when he found out that these, his colleagues and friends, despite the patent success of his work, still remained attached to his enemy Trotsky, were intriguing secretly with him and trying to sabotage his own work, the Stalin State, in order to bring back their old leader to the country?
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 104-105
Some of the disgraced left-wingers, who had been associated with Trotsky, were also in favor of ‘decisive measures’ in the countryside, and supported Stalin. Repentant declarations were submitted by Pyatakov, Krestinsky, Antonov-Ovseyenko, Radek, Preobrazhensky, and others and they were readmitted to the party. Pyatakov became the head of the State Bank and later deputy Commissar for Heavy Industry.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 164
The real situation was quite different. Even at its height, in the mid-1920s, Trotsky had very few supporters in the party. After his deportation some of them remained loyal, but they amounted to only a few hundred at the most. Some felt that Trotsky had long given up fighting for socialism and was conducting a personal vendetta verging on anti-Sovietism. Others condemned Trotskyism and gave up political life altogether. Those whom Stalin ‘forgave’ and permitted to return to Moscow–including Rakovsky, Preobrazhensky, Muralov, Sosnovsky, Smirnov, Boguslavsky and Radek–were given third-rate jobs in the economy and education ministries, but none of them was allowed back into the political fold.
… But he [Stalin] knew that deep in their hearts they were not reconciled, and that to him was a great danger.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 261
As he moved against the right, Stalin continued to strike at the left. In February 1929 Trotsky, who refused to abjure political activity, was expelled from the Soviet Union.
But meanwhile, the shift leftwards had begun to win over most of the more distinguished Bolsheviks who had followed Trotsky. First Pyatakov and Krestinsky, then even the theorist of the left, Preobrazhensky, and a whole range of others almost as well known, such as Radek, made their peace with Stalin and were readmitted to the party. They felt, and in a sense were justified in feeling, that their view had triumphed over the Bukharinites. Zinoviev and most of his followers were also readmitted to the party. Except for Zinoviev, Kamenev and Sokolnikov they were of little weight. But Pyatakovs & Krestinskys had considerable value in the eyes of the second level of the party.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 151
Metigovsky, the director of the Saratov Raion power plant, is glad that Smirnov [expelled from the Party can 1927 for his ties to Trotsky, reinstated in 1930]….
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 118
An early Trotskyite, he [Smirnov] was arrested, released in 1929, and made people’s commissar of post and telegraph, but he was rearrested in 1933. In 1936 he was a codefendant in the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial and was shot.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 136
SMIRNOV EXPELLED FROM KEY POSITIONS BUT NOT PARTY
In the end, Smirnov was expelled from the Central Committee and Orgburo but was allowed to remain in the party, with the warning that his continued membership depended on his future behavior.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 101
STALIN SAYS THE LEFT OPPOSITION IS AS RIGHT AS THE RIGHTISTS
During the course of the struggle against Bukharin, Stalin insightfully discussed the difference between “Rights”–Bukharinites–and “Lefts”–Trotskyists–using as an example the building of the great Dnieprostroy dam. He said, “If, for instance, the Rights say, ‘It is a mistake to build Dnieprostroy,’ while the ‘Lefts,’ on the contrary say, ‘What is the good of one Dnieprostroy? Give us a Dnieprostroy every year’ (laughter), it must be admitted that there is some difference between them.” Yet either way they would end up with no Dnieprostroy. “But,” Stalin continued, “if the Trotskyist deviation is a ‘Left’ deviation, does that not mean that the ‘Lefts’ are more Left than the Leninists? No, it does not. Leninism is the most Left (without quotation marks) tendency in the world working-class movement.” In a later succinct comment he noted the basic identity of the right and the “left”: “The ‘lefts’ are in fact Rights who mask their Rightness by Left phrases.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 65
Zinoviev was immediately removed from the Politburo [in July 1926].
However, a few weeks later, during a ‘stormy’ session of the Politburo, at which many Central Committee members were present, Stalin…insisted that the opposition was a ‘Social Democratic deviation’,…
Next day the Central Committee voted to remove Trotsky from the Politburo and Kamenev from his candidate membership.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 137
TROTSKY AND ZINOVIEV WERE GIVEN ONE LAST CHANCE TO RECANT IN 1927 BUT WOULD NOT
The Plenum of the Central Committee and at the Control Commission, which met in 1927 before the 15th Congress, made a supreme effort with Trotsky & Zinoviev. It asked Trotsky to renounce his theories on the change of government and his calumnies on the “Thermidorian” character of the central power, and to come into unconditional line with the rest of the Party. Trotsky & Zinoviev rejected the possibility thus offered to them of definitely re-establishing peace within the Party. In consequence, they were excluded from the Central Committee, censured, and warned that if they went on they would be expelled from the Party itself.
Trotsky & Zinoviev (the latter being particularly influential at Leningrad where he was President of the Council of the Soviets) went on with the war. They tried to excite the young Communists against the Party. There were more and more secret meetings, secret printing presses and tracts: they seized meeting-places by force and, on November 7th, 1927, for instance, made demonstrations in the streets. At the 15th Congress, a special report was presented on this intense political conspiracy against the central power. This made it abundantly clear that Trotsky and his followers had decided to create a party with a central committee, district committees, and town committees, a technical apparatus with its own funds and its own Press. And the same thing on the international plan, with the object of supplanting the Third International. Orthodox members of the Central Committee were prevented by force from being present at Trotskyist meetings (this was so, for instance, in the case of Jaroslavski and some others, who were “physically” ejected from a meeting at Moscow).
The 15th Congress attempted to clear up this deplorable and dangerous state of affairs, urged Trotsky to dissolve his organizations and, once more, to renounce his bellicose methods which not only overstepped the bounds of what a militant Bolshevik could be allowed to do, but even those of “Soviet loyalty,” and finally, once for all, to put an end to his systematic hostility towards the points of view of the majority. But the counter-proposals of the Trotskyists, signed by 121 people, so far from being conciliatory, accentuated the attacks and the split. Trotsky and his followers were expelled from the Party. Even this decision left a door open, namely the possibility was considered of their being individually taken back into the Party if they would alter their ideas and would adjust their behavior accordingly. This is a long way from the Trotskyist caricature showing Comrade Jaroslavski, president of the Control Commission, as a fierce, bloodthirsty watchdog held in leash by Stalin.
One might be tempted to say: “Has not the Opposition, in any case, been useful in drawing the special attention of the leaders to weak spots and in putting them on their guard against such & such a danger?”
No. In the first place, in principle, self-criticism was an infinitely more efficacious method than a duel to the death for keeping the leaders on the look out.
Again, it is patent that the curve of the regular and gradual achievements of the Soviet State bear no trace whatever of the intervention of the Opposition. The Opposition lost no opportunity for correction; on the contrary, it put obstacles in the way which had to be steered around; and that is one of the reasons why the great rise of the USSR dates from the moment at which the Opposition was reduced to harmlessness. The present leaders of the USSR deserve to be given credit for the fact that since the October Revolution they have not modified their attitudes and their points of view in any particular, and that everything they have done since Lenin has been done according to Lenin, and not according to modifications and counterfeits of Leninism.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 186-187
One of the reasons for the opposition’s defeat was the GPU’s discovery of the opposition’s illegal printshop. Those working at the shop were arrested, along with Mrachkovsky, who was in charge of it. One of those arrested had in the past been a White Guard officer, although at the time of his arrest he was a secret agent for the GPU, as Menzhinsky himself later admitted. The case of the underground print shop and the “White Guard officer” was used to maximum advantage to discredit Trotsky and the opposition. A joint plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission at the end of October 1927 passed a resolution expelling Trotsky and Zinoviev from the Central Committee while allowing them to remain as party members.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 172
The Central Control Commission warned Trotsky and Zinoviev of the consequences of their tactics. The opposition leaders were playing for time, to allow their ideas to penetrate into the masses. Again they executed a tactical retreat, and signed a paper in which they once more surrendered to the bugaboo of party unity. In a sense, it was a legitimate move. For they now openly aimed not at splitting the party, but at dislocating Stalin in taking over his machine. They retreated in order to consolidate their lines and to resume the offensive in the last assault for the coveted prize of absolutist power.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 266
ALL THE TROTS AND ZINOVIEVITES ARE EXPELLED
On December 27, 1927, the Central Committee declared that the opposition had allied itself with anti-Soviet forces and that those who held its positions would be expelled from the Party. All the Trotskyist and Zinovievite leaders were expelled.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 135 [p. 116 on the NET]
… With the support of other party leaders, Stalin secured Zinoviev’s removal from the Politburo in July 1926, followed by Trotsky’s in the following October. Kamenev was relieved of his duties as a candidate member. A Central Committee plenum recognized that further work by Zinoviev in the Comintern was impossible.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 134
… After several Central Committee and Central Control Commission meetings, Trotsky and Zinoviev were expelled from the Central Committee in October 1927, and from the party in the following month, a move ratified by the 15th Party Congress when it met in December of the same year. Among 25 other active members of the opposition expelled from a party at the same time was Kamenev, although he and Zinoviev would later be reinstated and even make declarations of repentance at the 17th Party Congress.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 136
At the next Congress, two years later (December 1927), Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev were expelled from the party.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 144
Only after many delays could he [Stalin], in November 1932 and January 1933, expel some of the malcontents and pronounce a new excommunication on Zinoviev and Kamenev, who were once again banished from Moscow, this time to Siberia. During this, his second deportation, Zinoviev allegedly stated that the greatest mistake of his life, greater even than his opposition to Lenin during the days of the October Revolution, had been his decision to desert Trotsky and to capitulate to Stalin in 1927. Soon thereafter Preobrazhensky, Smirnov, Mrachkovsky, Muralov, Ter-Vaganyan, and many other capitulators were once again expelled and imprisoned;….
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 172
On 9 November, 1927, he [Stalin] requested the Politburo exclude Trotsky and Zinoviev, “guilty of serious infraction of the statutes,” from the party. On 14 November an extraordinary assembly of the Central Committee and the Central Commission of Control confirmed the decision. In December it was ratified by the Pan-Russian Congress of the Party, which at the same time decided to apply the same measure to the active leaders of the opposition: Kamenev, Radek, Preobrazensky, Rakovsky, Pyatakov, L. Smirnov, Mdivani, Lifschitz, Smilga, Sapronov, Boguslavsky, Sarkiss, Drobnis, and V. Smirnov. The excluded members were dismissed from their posts, and those of them who took part in a demonstration on 7 November were deported to the regions of the Volga or the Ural.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 152
The 15th Party Congress approved the decision of the joint meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission to expel Trotsky and Zinoviev from the Party and resolved on the expulsion of all active members of the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites, such as Radek, Preobrazhensky, Rakovsky, Pyatakov, Serebryakov, I Smirnov, Kamenev, Sarkis, Safarov, Lifshitz, Mdivani, Smilga and the whole “Democratic-Centralism” group (Sapronov, V. Smirnov, Boguslavsky, Drobnis and others).
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 289
ZINOVIEV AND KAMENEV RECANT
However, in June 1928, several Zinovievites recanted and were re-integrated, as were their leaders Zinoviev, Kamenev and Evdokimov.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 135 [p. 116 on the NET]
Certain groups of oppositionists signed declarations of obedience to the decisions of the Congress and petitioned to be readmitted to membership. Trotsky himself signed several of these petitions but to no avail. Zinoviev and Kamenev petitioned to be readmitted and abjectly recanted, confessing that their opposition views had been antiparty and anti-Leninist. Their conduct was pitiful.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 219
He [Stalin] had no fear of Zinoviev and Kamenev. Their nerve had failed them at the time of the Great October Revolution. Expelled from the party, they had made abject confessions of error and had been readmitted in June 1928….
This applied with special force to those of the left opposition who, following the change in policy, had accepted his leadership. A number of senior members of this faction applied for readmission to the party. It was usually granted and they received minor posts. The first of these capitulators Boldakov, as they were called, was Pyatakov, whom Lenin in his “Testament” described as “a man of indubitably outstanding will and outstanding capacities.” In July 1929 a group, of whom Radek and Preobrazhensky were most senior, applied for readmission.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 240
It is clear that treatment of the opposition was variable. Zinoviev and Kamenev were in bad odor from 1927 to 1929 but were reinstated during the First Five Year Plan. They were arrested and exiled, however, at the end of 1932. At the beginning of 1934 (the time of the 17th Congress) they were welcomed back. They addressed the congress and their articles appeared in Pravda throughout 1934…. They were rearrested and imprisoned in early 1935 in connection with the assassination of Kirov, but were not charged with capital crimes until 1936. It seems, therefore, that the regime was not following any single consistent policy regarding the opposition. It seems safe to assume that the appearance of oppositionists at the 17th Congress represented the ascendancy of the soft line, whereas the jeers they received showed that all were not satisfied with the arrangement.
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 19
Zinoviev and Kamenev had recanted publicly in the [1927 15th Party] Congress, severing all connection with the Opposition, and making unconditional submission to the majority. That was the beginning of the double game they were to play, consisting of simultaneously denying their own convictions and plotting secretly against the authorities, which eventually it was to bring them to their deaths.
Barmine, Alexandre. Memoirs of a Soviet Diplomat. London: L. Dickson limited,1938, p. 227
In the same month [May 1933], Zinoviev and Kamenev were brought back from Siberia to make another confession of error. Pravda published a piece by Kamenev, condemning his own mistakes and calling on the oppositionists to cease any resistance.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 30
Again denounced, expelled from the Party, and sent into exile in 1932, Zinoviev and Kamenev were readmitted in 1933 on similar but yet more abject self-abasement. Zinoviev wrote to the Central Committee:
“I ask you to believe that I am speaking the truth and nothing but the truth. I ask you to restore me to the ranks of the Party and to give me an opportunity of working for the common cause. I give my word as a revolutionary that I will be the most devoted member of the Party, and will do all I possibly can at least to some extent to atone for my guilt before the Party and its Central Committee.”
And soon afterward, he was allowed to publish an article in Pravda condemning the opposition and praising Stalin’s victories.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 116
And it must be remembered that Kamenev and Zinoviev had more than once in the past, when in conflict with the Central Committee of the Communist Party, “confessed their errors” and by this means succeeded in maintaining themselves in positions from which they could carry out their factional fight against the Party.
Shepherd, W. G. The Moscow Trial. London: Communist Party of Great Britain, 1936, p. 7
In 1930, despite having no higher education he [Zinoviev] was made the Rector of Kazan University, and in December 1931 Deputy Chairman of the State Scientific Council. But he kept alive the memory of his earlier closeness to Lenin, and always believed that sooner or later he would return to the pinnacle of power.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 282
In May 1933 Zinoviev and Kamenev once again capitulated and returned from exile. At their first capitulation, in 1927, they had surrendered to Stalinism, but had not gone, and no one expected them to go, on their knees before Stalin’s person. When this was required of them in 1932 they could not yet bring themselves to do it. This, however, was what they did in 1933:….
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 207
The same month [May 1933], Zinoviev and Kamenev, who had been expelled from the party a second time and deported to Siberia after the Ryutin affair, were allowed to return and purge their guilt by a further confession, calling upon former oppositionists to end their resistance. Rakovsky, the Bulgarian veteran revolutionary, the last of the leading Trotskyites to make his peace, and Sosnovsky, another exile, were welcomed back into the fold.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 299
Bukharin became editor of the government’s newspaper Izvestia in 1934; Zinoviev and Kamenev returned to prominence around the same time.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 285
… The Boss had them brought them back to Moscow. The featherbrained coxcomb Zinoviev was given a job on the magazine Bolshevik,
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 298
These endeavors did not go unrewarded. Kamenev, whom Gorky held in high esteem, was received by Stalin for a private talk in which he acknowledged and renounced his former oppositionism. Subsequently he was appointed to a leading post in the Academia publishing house. In the summer of 1933, he, Zinoviev, and number of other former oppositionists were reinstated as party members, making it possible for them to participate in the coming party congress, which was due to open at the end of January 1934.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 244
Hence, early in the summer of 1933, when it became certain that the harvest would be good, Kamenev, Zinoviev, and a number of other former members of the Opposition were once again readmitted as members of the Party. They were even permitted to choose their spheres of work, and some of them actually received invitations to the Party Congress (February, 1934).
Nicolaevsky, Boris. Power and the Soviet Elite; “The letter of an Old Bolshevik.” New York: Praeger, 1965, p. 34
Be that as it may, there can be no doubt that in 1934, Stalin suddenly became milder, more affable, more yielding; he took pleasure in the society of writers, artists, and painters, in listening to their conversation and in stimulating them to frank discussion….
This mood soon found its reflection in Stalin’s attitude with respect to the former Oppositionists. Particularly significant in this connection was the reinstatement of Bukharin, who had been in disfavor for some years, as editor of Izvestia. More characteristic still was Stalin’s new attitude toward Kamenev. If I am not mistaken, Kamenev had been expelled from the Party three times and had as many times repented. His last sideslip had occurred in the winter of 1932-33, when he was discovered “reading and not reporting” Riutin’s program, a document Stalin hated with particular force. This time it seemed as though Kamenev was in for serious and protracted struggle. But Gorky, who greatly esteemed Kamenev, succeeded in softening Stalin’s heart. He arranged a meeting between Stalin and Kamenev at which Kamenev is said to have made some decoration of love toward Stalin….
No one knows the details of this meeting, which took place in strictest privacy, but its outcome was received with approval in Party circles. Stalin, as he almost publicly declared, had “come to believe Kamenev.” At the interview Kamenev is said to have spoken quite openly of his entire oppositional activity, explaining why he had formerly opposed Stalin and why he had now ceased his opposition. It was said that Kamenev gave Stalin his “word of honor” not to engage in any more oppositional activity. In return he was given wide powers in the management of the Academia publishing house and was promised important political work in the near future.
Nicolaevsky, Boris. Power and the Soviet Elite; “The letter of an Old Bolshevik.” New York: Praeger, 1965, p. 46
IN MID-20’S THE OPPOSITION SWEARS AN OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
The opposition was taken aback by the initial success of the official policy. Zinoviev, Kamenev, Pyatakov, Sokolnikov, Trotsky, and Evdokimov went so far as to sign a declaration on Oct. 16, 1926, which was in effect a confession of defeat and of support for the official policy.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 223
PUNISHMENT OF THE RIGHT OPPOSITION WAS TOO LIGHT
The members of the Right-wing Opposition, however, were not severely dealt with. Rykov had to resign as head of the Government, but remained People’s Commissar for Posts and Telegraphs. Bukharin, too, was not banished from Moscow. After a time he began to write again in newspapers, and later he became once more editor of Pravda.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 184
RIGHTISTS ARE DEFEATED BUT RETAIN HIGH GOVERNMENT POSITIONS
Among Stalin’s concerns in 1929, the struggle with the Bukharin group figured prominently. In spite of the political defeat of the “rightists” in April 1929 at both the plenum of the Central Committee and the 16th Party Conference, Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky preserved some authority in the party-state apparat. All of them remained members of the Politburo. In addition, Rykov occupied the high government posts of chairman of the Council of Commissar’s and chairman of the Labor Defense Council.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 148
Addressing a plenary session of the Moscow Committee of the Communist Party on October 19, 1928, Stalin declared, “The victory of the Right Deviation in our party would mean an enormous strengthening of the capitalist elements in our country. And what will a strengthening of the capitalist elements of our country mean? It will mean a weakening of the proletarian dictatorship and increased chances for the reestablishment of capitalism.”
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 79
Although some of the rightists were expelled from the party and its leaders lost their highest positions, Bukharin and his fellow leaders remained members of the Central Committee. They had, after all, played according to the terms of the unwritten gentleman’s agreement not to carry the struggle outside the nomenklatura.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 60
But you must remember that quite a few right-wingers were operating within the NKVD. Yagoda was a right-winger through and through. Yezhov was different. I knew Yezhov very well, much better than Yagoda…. There was a difference, a political one. As concerns Yagoda, he was hostile to the party’s policies. Yezhov had never been hostile, he just overdid it because Stalin demanded greater repression. That was somewhat different. Yezhov had no ulterior motives. The machinery rolled–stop it where? Sort everything out properly? But the sorting out was often done by rightists or even by Trotskyists. Through them we obtained a lot of incriminating materials.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 263
The Politburo knew about what was out in the open. But it was impossible to know everything as long as no opportunity arose to find out. In order to throw some light on this question, let me ask you: what do you consider Khrushchev to have been back then, a rightist, a leftist, or a Leninist, or what? Khrushchev sat on the Politburo under Stalin through the ’40s and the early ’50s. And Mikoyan, too. We purged and we purged, yet it turns out that rightists still sat in the Politburo! Look how complicated all this is! It is impossible to understand this if you judge only by facts and figures and formal criteria. Impossible. There were such profound changes in the country and in the party too, that even given all the vigilance of Stalin to liberate ourselves of Trotskyists and rightist…. Even in Stalin’s time they served continuously in the Politburo, especially the rightists most adaptable and skilled in time-serving. Our rightists, so flexible, so closely and strongly connected with our own dear peasantry, resembled the muzhik in his ability to adapt himself ideologically to every twist and turn. Determining where Trotskyism begins and especially where rightism begins is a most complex subject, most complex.
In many cases the rightists import themselves no worse than genuine Leninists–but up to a point. Like Khrushchev.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 314
As the Five Year Plan began to unfold, a new opposition group arose within the Party, a “right” opposition led by Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky. Unlike Tomsky all were old Bolsheviks; and all belonged to the Central Committee and held high public office. Rykov was Chairman of the Council of Peoples Commissar’s (the equivalent of “Premier”), Tomsky was chairman of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, Bukharin was editor of Pravda and General Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 61
In 1926 Bukharin became General Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 64
At the time (1928-30), the conflict between Bukharin and the Party majority appeared to be an honest disagreement between leading Party members. Bukharin, although removed from the Politburo, retained his seat on the Central Committee and was appointed to the Presidium of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry. In 1934 he was made editor of Izvestia. Rykov, removed as premier, was appointed Peoples Commissar of Posts and Telegraphs; Tomsky, removed from his post in the trade unions, retained his seat on the Central Committee, as did Rykov. All three signed a declaration admitting the errors of their program;
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 65
[In 1928] Bukharin and Tomsky now offered their resignation from the Politburo. Stalin is reported receiving it ‘with trembling hands’, and they were induced to withdraw.
…At the Central Committee plenum in April 1929 he [Stalin] accused the three men [Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky] of dangerous deviations and lack of party discipline. The Central Committee then, finally, removed Bukharin and Tomsky from their posts–editorship of Pravda and chairmanship of the Comintern in Bukharin’s case, leadership of the trade unions in Tomsky’s. It allowed Rykov to remain as head of the government, and demanded that all three remain on the Politburo, and that the matter not be publicized, though Stalin had spoken of Bukharin’s ‘treacherous behavior’.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 150
[Bukharin]… was dismissed from the office of editor-in-chief of Pravda, lost his party rank, and was expelled from the executive of the Communist International.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 293
… So, for example, he [Stalin] allowed Bukharin to assume the editorship of Izvestia after the party congress, and went on making good use of Radek’s journalistic talents and expertise in German affairs.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 283
Radek became one of the editors of Izvestia, working under Bukharin. The Boss had made Bukharin chief editor of that newspaper, the second most important in the country, and shortly afterward delegated to him the task of drafting a new constitution.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 299
Yezhov presented the main report against these two [Bukharin and Rykov] who, in 1928-29, had led the Right deviation and opposed Stalin’s radical policies of collectivization and rapid industrialization. Since then, both had held responsible state positions and remained candidate Central Committee members.
Chase, William J., Enemies Within the Gates?, translated by Vadim A. Staklo, New Haven: Yale University Press, c2001, p. 217.
WHEN THE RIGHTISTS WERE REMOVED FROM THE POLITBURO
Bukharin was removed from the Politburo in November 1929; Tomsky, in July 1930; and Rykov, in December 1930.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 150
They [the rightists] recanted their “mistakes” in party forums and with good party discipline affirmed their support for Stalin’s line. Although they were removed from the Politburo, they remained on the central committee and were not expelled from the party.
Getty & Naumov, he Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 42
Therefore, Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky declared that “the disagreements between us and the majority of the Central Committee have been eliminated.” But even this statement was called “unsatisfactory.” The November 1929 plenum therefore removed Bukharin from the Politburo and issued a warning to Rykov, Tomsky, and Uglanov.
… After the 16th Party Congress Tomsky was removed from the Politburo, and at the December 1930 plenum of the Central Committee Rykov was likewise removed. In 1931 Rykov was replaced by Molotov as chairman of the Sovnarkom and reassigned to the job of people’s commissar of posts and telegraph. Bukharin was appointed leader of the scientific research planning sector of the Supreme Economic Council, and a few years later also became chief editor of Izvestia. The 16th Party Congress again elected Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky to the Central Committee, but after the Seventeenth Congress all three were reduced to the rank of candidate members of the Central Committee.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 206
Stalin’s success in organizational detail now bore fruit. The Rightists were supported in the Central Committee by a mere handful of members. That body meeting in April 1929, condemned the right wing’s views, removed Bukharin from his editorship of Pravda and chairmanship of the Comintern, and dismissed Tomsky from the trade union leadership.
In April, too, the principles of crash industrialization and of collectivization were adopted at the 16th Party Conference. After their views had been condemned, the Rightists submitted. On Nov. 26, 1929 they published a very general recantation of their views on “a series of political and tactical questions.” Bukharin now lost his Politburo post.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 18
Tomsky was removed from the Politburo in July 1930 and Rykov in December. Henceforth, it was purely Stalinist.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 19
RYKOV HAS WRONG POSITIONS
On September 6, 1929, the Politburo passed a resolution by voice vote. “It is easy to see that in an attempt to find at least some sort of principled reason for his erroneous position, Comrade Rykov has, in the end, lost his way completely….
Turning to questions of principle, not only do Comrade Rykov’s claims have nothing in common with Bolshevism, but they are completely identical to the previous attempts by the Trotskyists to see the Central Control Commission and the Central Committee as in opposition.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 158
In a September 30, 1929, letter to Molotov, Voroshilov, and Ordjonikidze Stalin stated, “Did you read Rykov’s speech? In my opinion, it’s the speech of a nonparty soviet bureaucrat pretending to take the tone of a “loyal’ person, “sympathizing’ with the soviets. But not a single word about the party! Not a single word about the right deviation! Not a single word to say that the party’s achievements, which Rykov underhandedly ascribes now to himself, were attained in struggle with the rightists, including Rykov himself! All our officials who give speeches usually consider it their duty to speak about the rightists and to call for struggle against the rightists. But Rykov, it seems, is free from such an obligation! Why?–I might ask–on what basis? How can you tolerate (meaning cover-up as well) this political hypocrisy? Don’t you understand that in tolerating such hypocrisy, you create the illusion that Rykov has separated from the rightists and you thus mislead the party, because everyone can see that Rykov has never had a thought of leaving the rightists? Shouldn’t you give Rykov an alternative: either disassociate openly and honestly from the rightists and conciliators, or lose the right to speak in the name of the Central Committee and Council of Commissars. I think this should be done because it’s the least the Central committee can demand–less than that and the Central Committee ceases to be itself.
I learned that Rykov is still chairing your meetings on Mondays and Thursdays. Is that true? If it’s true, why are you allowing this comedy to go on? Who is it for and for what reason? Can you put an end to this comedy? Isn’t it time?”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 181
In an October 7, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “I read the Politburo resolution about Rykov. A correct resolution! This resolution is binding on us, of course.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 182
[Concluding speech by Kuibyshev at the joint plenum of the CC & CCC December 19, 1930]
…Can ones say that Comrade Rykov, after deviating from the party, has demonstrated the slightest effort to march in step with those who are leading the party ahead? Can one say that in his struggle with a class-alien ideology, which he [himself] once mistakenly preached, Comrade Rykov has demonstrated so much as an iota of the passion necessary for a leader? No, one cannot say any such thing. For this reason, you’re forced to conclude that it is apparently hopeless at the present time to see in Comrade Rykov a steadfast comrade-in-arms in these battles.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 51
RADEK ATTACKED STALIN A LOT
Karl Radek, a well-known and bitingly sarcastic critic of Stalin in the 1920s.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 3
Blumkin is a typical intellectual anarchist…. After he killed Mirbach he began to regard himself as an historic figure. I don’t know why he had such admiration for Trotsky…. At any rate, so shrewd a scoundrel as Radek could not have found it very difficult to provoke so impetuous a revolutionary fool as Blumkin…. He must have put into his head the idea of some act of terrorism. After Mirbach, Stalin. Not a bad formula….
[That’s Stalin’s Foreign Minister?]
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 246
VICTORY OF THE RIGHT IN THE SU WOULD MEAN A CAPITALIST VICTORY
There cannot be the slightest doubt that the triumph of the Right deviation in our Party would release the forces of capitalism, would undermine the revolutionary position of the proletariat and increase the chances for the restoration of capitalism in our country.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 147
RADEK AND OTHERS BREAK WITH TROTSKY IN 1929
In June 1929 Radek was on his way back to Moscow under guard to make his peace with Stalin. His train stopped at a station in Siberia, where by chance a group of oppositionists met and spoke with him. Radek urged them to surrender to the Central Committee. He spoke of the difficult situation in the Soviet Union, the shortage of bread, the discontent of the workers, and the threat of peasant revolts. In this situation, Radek said, the opposition should admit that it had been wrong and rally to the party. “We ourselves have driven ourselves into prison and exile,” he argued, and declared: “I have definitely broken with Trotsky–we are political enemies now.” Smilga, Serebryakov, and Smirnov soon broke with Trotsky as well….
Toward the end of 1929 Rakovsky and his group (Sosnovsky, Muralov, Mdivani, etc.) wrote an “Open Letter to the Central Committee,” which although it contained criticism of Stalin’s policies and demanded the return of Trotsky to the USSR, was very conciliatory in its tone. Soon the majority of this group capitulated fully and returned to Moscow, where many of them were given posts recently held by members of the Bukharinist opposition….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 178-179
RADEK PRAISES STALIN FOR BEING LENIENT AND NOT TAKING REVENGE
To his former associates in the Opposition Radek offered the following explanation of the praise he had lavished on Stalin: “We should be grateful to Stalin. If we [the Opposition] had lived at the time of the French Revolution, we would long ago have been shorter by a head.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 316
ORLOV ATTACKS ALL THE RIGHT-WING OPPOSITION LEADERS
Orlov was an engineer employed at an important technical center in Moscow. As soon as he came home in the evening he began to hold forth on political themes, flaying the leaders of the Right-wing Deviation. Rykov was a hypocrite, Tomsky a conspirator, Zinoviev a swine, Kamenev a cynic, Uglanov a blockhead; as for Bukharin–Orlov got so excited that he banged on the table–he was the protector of kulaks and NEP-men, a fox licking up to Stalin while its tail wagged encouragement to Stalin’s enemies.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 121
RYKOV HELD MANY HIGH POSITIONS
And now [February 1934] came the crowning stroke. Rykov and Bukharin were known as the “peasants’ advocates” and their Right-wing Deviation had been largely a protest against Stalin’s peasant policy. Now Rykov was made People’s Commissar for Communications.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 283
Rykov joined the party in 1898. At the 3rd Party Congress, in 1905, he was elected to the Central Committee. He was a member of the Central Committee from 1917 to 1937 (a candidate member from 1934 onward). Between 1924 and 1930 he headed the Soviet government. Earlier he had been deputy chairman of the Sovnarkom for several years. From 1922 to 1930 he was a member of the Central Committee’s Politburo.
Political Archives of the Soviet Union (Vol. 1, No. 2) Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1990, p. 148
RIGHTISTS MORE DANGEROUS AND SUBTLE THAN THE LEFTS LIKE TROTSKY
The open Right Wing did not challenge the Party to a prolonged discussion in the manner of the Trotskyists. But it had in the State apparatus and the trade unions, and, to a lesser extent, in the Communist Party, a volume of support that was more formidable than that of the Trotsky faction, and did not expose itself in open struggle.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 79
RADEK RECANTS, ACCEPTS STALIN’S PROGRAM AND ADVISES TROTSKY TO DO THE SAME
Radek was dismissed from the party and condemned at the same time as Trotsky. While conversing with him on this theme, he said to me: “For 25 years I had been active in the Labor Movement and then I was condemned to exile by the Proletarian Government. Our inner feelings told us that we were being sent into exile because the party was moving towards the Right. But I took half-a-hundred-weight of books with me–all our Socialist works in fact, beginning with Marx. I said to myself that I should study the whole development of Socialism from the start and think over it. On grounds of principle, are we right or are the others? I asked myself. For three months I studied the writings of Marx and Lenin and Stalin and then I recognized that the plan of campaign that was being initiated by our comrades was a magnificent conception for the development of the New State. It reminded me of the second part of Faust. Whereupon I withdrew my objection to Stalin’s plan out of sheer conviction. I agreed to the new line of action and advised Trotsky to do the same.”
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 368
STALIN WANTS PYATAKOV REMOVED YET HE IS LATER MADE THE HEAD OF INDUSTRY
In an August 24, 1930, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “As for Pyatakov, all indications are that he has remained the same as always, that is, a poor, commissar alongside a specialist (or specialists) who are no better. He is a hostage to his bureaucracy. You really get to know people in practice, in daily work, in “trivial’ matters. And here, in the practical matters of financial (and credit!) management, Pyatakov has shown his true colors as a poor commissar alongside poor specialists. And I have to tell you that this type of Communist economic manager is the most harmful for us at this time.
Conclusion: he must be removed. Someone else must be put in his place.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 204
In a September 1930 letter to Molotov Stalin said, “Pyatakov should be watched closely. He is a genuine rightist Trotskyist (another Sokolnikov), and he now represents the most harmful element in the Rykov-Pyatakov bloc….”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 214
After a period of political disfavor because of his Trotskyist sympathies, Pyatakov, whom Lenin, in his political testament, mentioned with Bukharin as one of the more promising among the younger Party members, has made his peace with the Party authorities and received an appointment as head of the State Bank.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 105
While Zinoviev and Kamenev had continued in effect to oppose the Stalin leadership, and had long since been excluded from decent Party society, Pyatakov had been of the greatest service…and had been admitted by him [Stalin] to his latest Central Committee. He was, in addition, under the apparently powerful protection of Ordjonikidze.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 128
As I was listening to him [Stalin] I couldn’t help thinking of the concern he had shown for Pyatakov during his illness in 1931…. He even sent him honey….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 249
STALIN ATTACKS RIGHTIST GROUPS
In a letter dated October 23, 1930, Stalin said to Molotov, “I’m sending you two reports from Reznikov on Syrtsov’s and Lominadze’s anti-party (essentially right-deviationist) factional group. It’s unimaginable vileness.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 223
FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES BUKHARIN AND TROTSKY KEEP PREDICTING DEFEAT
And Bukharin said, “Enrich yourselves!” …He was just a windbag. According to him, the people were in a situation in which they could do nothing without cooperatives, without collective farms, without industry. How could collective farms operate without machinery and without tractors? Where were the means to enable us to take the levers in hand and raise up the people? There was no machinery; factories had to be built. For some time they would turn out a small number of machines. Many people would lose faith, nothing would come of it! Bukharin said that in one way, and Trotsky said it in another. As for talks with imperialists, I think it was proven beyond a doubt that these occurred….
Trotsky himself was making speeches saying, “Nothing is working!” I really wondered, how could Lenin endure it?
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 127
…[as post-Lenin changes were instituted] the Trotskyist and Bukharinites lost their heads and started to scream “All is lost” or “Save the ship by sailing it into an enemy port.”
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 236
BUKHARIN, RYKOV, AND TOMSKY RECANT AND ACCEPT THE PARTY LINE
In November 1929 a plenary session of the Central Committee removed Bukharin from the Politburo and issued a sharp warning to Rykov, Tomsky, and others as deviators from and would be diverters of the party line. Perhaps after all they were cowardly,… because they all recanted in most abject terms and signed a declaration acknowledging the correctness of the party line.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 162
In the critical conditions in June 1930, the right-wing leaders might have been expected to offer opposition…. But they declared their fervent support for Stalin and the party line. Rykov and Tomsky both made abject confessions before the full Congress that they had been totally wrong, and they pleaded for the party’s forgiveness. Bukharin was absent from the Congress, but he was to abase himself on a later occasion.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 250
Bukharin was not chosen as a delegate to the 16th party congress. Of course he could have attended the Congress as a member of the Central Committee, but he preferred not to take part in the Congress, especially since he was ill at the time…. All the same, the Congress elected not only Rykov and Tomsky but also Bukharin members of the Central Committee.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 319
The whole speech [ by Stalin] was in this vein, lashing out with devastating criticism against Rykov and Tomsky as well as the chief target [Bukharin]. Bukharin and Rykov were removed from their posts, although they remained members of the Politburo….
In November 1929 the party general line on agriculture was confirmed when Stalin wrote that “the peasants are now joining collective farms not in individual groups, as they used to, but as entire villages, groups of villages, districts, and even regions”. Nevertheless, Bukharin was unwilling to “repent”, as he was being asked to do, and on Nov. 17, 1929 he was removed from the Politburo. A week later, however, tormented by pangs of conscience for their own pusillanimity, Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky wrote a brief letter to the Central Committee, in which they condemned their own position: “We regard it as our duty to state that the party and its Central Committee have turned out to be right in this dispute. Our views have turned out to be erroneous. Recognizing our errors, we shall conduct a decisive struggle against all deviations from the party’s general line and above all against the right deviation.”
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 183
… Those who had recanted were usually reinstated in the party fairly quickly, and they were given responsible jobs and began publishing their articles again. For instance, Zinoviev and Kamenev, who had been readmitted into the party in June 1928, openly expressed the hope that ‘the party would again require their experience’ no doubt with top posts in mind. Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky were still being dubbed ‘accomplices of the kulaks’ in the press, and yet at the 16th Congress they were elected onto the Central Committee.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 212
After he [Stalin] had finally removed Trotsky from the Russian scene, he hastened to rout the leaders of the right-wing. Rykov was deposed from the Premiership of the Soviet Government, in which he had succeeded Lenin. Tomsky was ousted from the leadership of the trade unions, on the ground that he had used his influence to turn the unions against industrialization. Bukharin was dismissed from the leadership of the Communist International, where he had replaced Zinoviev, as well as from the Politburo. Before the year 1929 was out, Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky repudiated their own views and thus bought a few years of spurious breathing space.
It would be easy for the historian to pass unqualified judgment on Stalin if he could assume that in his fight against Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky he pursued only his private ambition. This was not the case. His personal ends were not the only or the most important stakes in the struggle. In the tense months of 1928 and 1929 the whole fate of Soviet Russia hung in the balance.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 316-317
Nov. 17, 1929 Plenum (On the Bukharin Group)
2. Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky, who have now been forced–after the shameful miscarriage of all their predictions–to admit the party’s unquestionable successes and who hypocritically affirm the ‘retraction of all differences’ in their statement, at the same time refuse to admit the erroneousness of the views set forth in their platforms of January 30 and February 9, 1928, which were condemned by the April Plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission as ‘incompatible with the general line of the party.’
McNeal, Robert. Resolutions and Decisions of the CPSU–The Stalin Years: 1929-1953. Vol. 3. Toronto, Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1974, p. 39
In April 1929 the Central Committee removed Bukharin from his posts as editor of Pravda and president of the Comintern and Tomsky from his post as chairman of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions. Bukharin’s supporter Uglanov lost his positions as secretary of the Moscow Committee, secretary of the Central Committee, and candidate member of the Politburo. The November 1929, Bukharin was expelled from the Politburo.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 223
The April 1929 Joint Plenary Meeting condemned the “Bukharin group’s” views “as incompatible with the party’s general line and mostly coinciding with the right-deviation position.” It dismissed Bukharin and Tomsky from their jobs on the Pravda editorial board, the Communist International, and the AUCCTU, but left them on the Central Committee’s Politburo.
… At the November 1929 Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee “Bukharin’s group” made a statement withdrawing their differences with the party, though not directly admitting their previous views to have been wrong. Despite the statement, the Plenary Meeting decided to drop Bukharin from the Central Committee’s Politburo “as the initiator and leader of the right deviators.”
Political Archives of the Soviet Union (Vol. 1, No. 2) Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1990, p. 147
Bukharin, after being expelled from the Politburo, fired as chief editor of Pravda and removed as secretary of the Comintern Executive Committee, worked from 1930 to the beginning of 1934 in the Commissariats of Heavy Industry.
Larina, Anna. This I Cannot Forget. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993, p. 328
BUKHARIN AND RYKOV RECANT BUT OTHER RIGHTISTS DO NOT
While Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky had abandoned the opposition and publicly associated themselves with the Stalin policies, other rightist oppositions surfaced between 1929 and 1932.
… repression of these new dissidents was immediate but uneven. Some were expelled from the party, but others were merely censured publicly. Thus A. Smirnov was expelled from the Central Committee but not from the party. Lominadze was expelled from the party for short time, but soon was readmitted and appointed the party secretary in charge of the important Magnitogorsk construction project. Although Bukharin and Rykov were criticized for inspiring and knowing of these opposition platforms, they remained members of the Central Committee.
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 19
TOMSKY HAD MANY JOBS BESIDES BEING ON THE POLITBURO
Up to 1930 he [Tomsky] had been a member of the Politburo. He had also been head of the Soviet Trade Unions. Latterly he had been chief of the State publishing system, the OGIZ.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 62
PEOPLE TAKEN OFF THE POLITBURO STILL RETAINED HIGH POSITIONS
… Since 1930, when the Buryto group (Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky) were relieved of their high posts, he [Rykov] had been People’s Commissar of Communications….
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 63
Although a confidential letter of the Central Committee was circulated in early 1935 to warn against the dangers represented by former oppositionists, their repented leaders continued to hold more or less important posts, including membership in the Central Committee, throughout the “verification” and “exchange” of Party cards.
Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 73
MAJOR OPPOSITION LEADERS RECANT THEIR FACTIONALISM TO RETAIN SOME PARTY POWER
At the same time Stalin set about discrediting the opposition, alleging with dubious evidence that it was not really left-wing, but a right-wing bourgeois deviation. Then the opposition leaders played into his hands. They organized demonstrations in factories, demanding full party discussion of their proposals. This was a flagrant breach of discipline and an affront to party unity. Appalled by their own temerity and recklessness, the six leaders–Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Pyatakov, Sokolnikov, and Evdokimov –confessed their guilt in a public declaration and swore not to pursue factional activity in the future. They also denounced their own left-wing supporters in the Comintern and the Workers’ Opposition group. Apparently their confession was voluntary and an attempt to salve their consciences. They had sought, they admitted naively, only to retain some influence within the party. Their pusillanimous conduct exposed them and their few supporters to reprisals.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 213
At the same time that Rightists were being defeated, a number of left oppositionists were being readmitted to the party. With Stalin’s shift to the left, Radek, Pyatakov, Smirnov, and other Trotskyists recanted their “errors” of 1927 and announced their solidarity with the new policies of the Stalinist apparatus. In fact, until 1935, it was only necessary for an oppositionist to recant to be readmitted to the party. So, beginning in 1929, the former leftists returned from their exiles and rejoined the party. Trotsky, from his lonely exile in Turkey, reacted bitterly to what he considered desertion by his followers. Of the major figures of the United Opposition, only Trotsky and Rakovsky remained in opposition and continued to denounce the policies of the apparatus.
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 18
In mid-1928 Zinoviev, Kamenev, and many of their supporters were readmitted to the party and given posts in the government and economic apparatus.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 176
After renouncing their oppositional views, the majority of them directed whole branches of the national economy, large collectives and important structures in the economy and culture of the nation. On the same days when fear, hatred and despair ate away at their souls, they participated in making important decisions about the structure of investments (like Pyatakov), about the publishing plans of an enormous complex (like Tomsky), or about the most crucial diplomatic actions (like Radek).
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 80
After another month of haggling, on 13 July, Radek, Preobrazhensky, Smilga, and 400 other deportees finely announced their surrender. The advantages that Stalin derived from this were many. No event since Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s capitulation at the 15th Congress, in December 1927, had done so much to bolster Stalin’s prestige. As he was just engaged in a heavy attack on Bukharin’s faction, the disintegration of the Trotskyist Opposition relieved him of the need to fight on two fronts simultaneously. Trotsky had often said that in the face of an acute “danger from the right” Trotskyists and Stalinists would join hands. Well, they were now doing so, but on Stalin’s own terms–he was winning them over to his side without and even against Trotsky. Many of the capitulators were men of high talent and experience with whom he would fill industrial and administrative posts from which the Bukharinists were being squeezed out. He knew that the capitulators would throw themselves heart and soul into the industrial drive–many of them were to serve under Pyatakov, the arch-capitulator who was the moving spirit of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry. Radek alone was, as a propagandist, worth more to Stalin than hosts of his own scribes.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 74
Many of the former members of the opposition were allowed to take up useful employment. Bukharin, for example, was appointed chief editor of Izvestia, second only to Pravda as the voice of official policy, and was now able to write regular signed and unsigned articles.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 303
Immediately before and after the 17th Party Congress of 1934 some leaders of former oppositions were restored to party membership, including Kamenev, Zinoviev, Preobrazhensky, and Uglanov. Bukharin was appointed to the quite important post of chief editor of the newspaper Izvestia.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 237
Expelled from the party with the other Trotskyites in 1927, Pyatakov had discovered that there could be no life for him without it and that, as he told a former colleague in 1928, in order to become one with it he would abandon his own personality and be ready to declare black white, and white black, if the party required it. Breaking with Trotsky and returning to Russia, he had become deputy commissar for heavy industry. According to Ordjonikidze, the commissar, no one contributed more to the creation of Russia’s industrial base as the brains and driving force behind the Five-Year plans. A major critic of Stalin in the 1920s, Pyatakov had since abandoned all opposition and accepted Stalin’s leadership without reservations.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 483
In 1933 Bukharin began to participate more actively in Party and public life. He took part in a joint session of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission in January, where the successful completion of the first Five-Year Plan was announced.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 279
STALIN REJECTS TURNING PEASANTS AGAINST PROLETARIAT AND FIGHTS TROTSKY INSTEAD
This [Trotsky’s New Course] Stalin dealt with, rejecting the proposal for a class war of the proletariat against the peasantry, and instead, at the Party Congress of December 1923 raising the cry of a fight against “Trotskyism.”
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 150
In any case, it was impossible to accomplish anything without the peasants. But Trotsky did not simply propose to build socialism at the expense of the peasant. The essence of his view is that he did not believe in the possibility of an alliance with the peasantry, a worker-peasant alliance, for the building of socialism. That’s the main thing…. Trotsky did not believe in the possibility of a worker-peasant alliance in order to move forward. But we believed in it.
…Lenin was right. We couldn’t do without the peasant.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 171
Trotsky did not believe the peasantry could follow our lead. That was his most flagrant error.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 375
The revolutions in France in 1848 and 1871 were crushed chiefly because the peasant reserves turned out to be on the side of the bourgeoisie. The October Revolution was victorious because it succeeded in depriving the bourgeoisie of its peasant reserves, because it was able to win over these reserves to the side of the proletariat, because in that revolution the proletariat proved to be the only guiding force for the millions of toiling masses in town and country….
The dictatorship of the proletariat is a class alliance between the proletariat and the toiling masses of the peasantry, for the purpose of overthrowing capital, for bringing about the final victory of socialism, an alliance based on the condition that its leading force is the proletariat.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 41
Where does the danger of the “Left” (Trotskyist) deviation in our Party lie? In the fact that it over-estimates the strength of our enemies, the strength of capitalism; that it can see only the possibility of the restoration of capitalism, but cannot see the possibility of constructing socialism with the resources of our country; that it gives way to despair and is obliged to console itself with nonsensical talk about Thermidorism in our Party. From the words of Lenin “as long as we live in a petty -peasant country there will be a more solid basis in Russia for capitalism than for communism,” the “Left” deviation draws the false conclusion that it is impossible to construct socialism in the USSR at all; that nothing can be done with the peasantry; that the idea of a union between the working-class and the peasantry is antiquated; that unless aid is forthcoming in the shape of the triumph of the revolution in the West, the dictatorship of the proletariat in the USSR is doomed to failure, or to degeneration, and that unless we adopt the fantastic plan of super-industrialization, even at the cost of a rupture with the peasantry, the cause of socialism in the USSR must be regarded as lost.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 147
STALIN’S PATIENCE WITH TROTSKY WAS TREMENDOUS
Stalin has never been a man to shoot first and argue afterwards. In fact, I venture to assert that at no time in the political history of any country has there been so lengthy a warfare of words, and only words, between leading members of a political party; and I would add that no leader with such power in his hands as that possessed by Stalin, ever showed such patience with an opponent. I write as one who was a witness on the spot, and even a not infrequent participant in the long controversy extending from December 1923 to January 1929 when Trotsky was banished from the Soviet Union.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 153
Trotsky too, was never in doubt: he did not believe it possible to advance to socialism without a European Revolution…. But let it be clearly understood that Trotsky’s position, however it might be decorated with revolutionary phrases, meant a return to capitalism.
Of course Trotsky had others with him besides Zinoviev and Kamenev and Radek. There were Rakovsky, Pyatakov, and a number of other able men. I knew these leaders and many of their supporters personally. I had listened to their arguments in commissions, in conferences, in public and private conversations. I had heard them time and again declare that they were wrong and Stalin right. I had seen Stalin agree to their reinstatement in leading positions, only to witness them renew their attacks on him and his policy. On the Tenth Anniversary of the Revolution I saw and heard Radek, from the balcony of the Bristol hotel, harangue the crowd as it marched to the Red Square. I watched Trotsky attempting the same thing further along Mockavia. And still after four years of public debating nothing more serious had happened to them than their expulsion from the ranks of Bolshevism.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 160
Stalin has been widely attacked by political adversaries, Russian and foreign, as a cruel and heartless man, but in point of fact he was remarkably long-suffering in his treatment of the various oppositions. This statement may sound surprising, but it is true, as the record shows. The Kremlin’s struggle with the Oppositionists began before Lenin’s death, and again and again one or another of the Opposition leaders admitted his faults and beat his breast and cried “Mea maxima culpa,” and the Kremlin forgave him. I say this is all on the record, whatever the Trotskyists may claim. Until the murder of Kirov, which hardened Stalin’s steel into knives for his enemies’ throats.
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 116
The reports of the meetings of the Party bear witness to the fact that it acted with a great deal of circumspection and of patience towards Trotsky. In 1923, during Lenin’s illness, Trotsky was again the head of the Political Bureau, the supreme executive organization. The Party endeavored to influence Trotsky by every means in its power, whilst he himself was notoriously striving to turn to his own advantage the discontent which cropped up here and there, to make a group of the discontents and to be their leader. This vague group hostile to the Party refused to criticize Trotskyism and adopted Trotsky’s divergent line.
When, after Lenin’s death, Stalin resumed the struggle, he began, in dealing with Lenin’s old adversary, to employ the pedagogic method instead of taking repressive measures (Jaroslavsky). These attempts at persuasion came to nothing and the question arose as to whether Trotsky could still remain in the leadership of the Party, or even in the Party all.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 178-179
On the evening of December 8, at a meeting of party activists of the Krasnaya Presnya district in Moscow, a letter by Trotsky, addressed to party meetings and entitled “The New Course,” was ready…. According to Trotsky, there were many in the party apparatus who gave a hostile reception to the “new course.” He therefore called for a purge of all bureaucratic elements in the apparatus and their replacement by “fresh” cadres. Above all, Trotsky argued, the leading posts in the party “must be cleared of those who, at the first words of criticism, of objection, or of protest, brandish the thunderbolts of penalties at the critic. The ‘new course’ must begin by making everyone feel that from now on nobody will dare to terrorize the party.” These hints were understood by everyone at the time.
Trotsky’s letter received a hostile reception not only from the triumvirs but from the majority of the party apparatus as well. Nevertheless, it was published in Pravda on Dec. 11 with a number of additions and annotations by Trotsky himself…. In reply to reproaches by some activists Stalin stated:
“They say that the Central Committee should have banned publication of Trotsky’s article. That is wrong, comrades. That would have been a very dangerous step on the part of the Central Committee….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 123-124
STALIN SUPERIOR TO TROTSKY
Thus the ideological battle opened. Stalin was not only a debater of some power, but as an organizer and tactician he left Trotsky standing.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 158
…when I talked with leading Party members in Russia after Lenin’s death they said to me, “Supposing we had a free election in Russia and the choice were between Stalin and Trotsky, how would any intelligently informed man vote? It is obvious that Stalin would build the Soviet state better, and would not stake everything on foreign revolutions. Furthermore, we can talk with Stalin. He will listen to reason, but if Trotsky once has an idea nothing can sway him.”
…Behind the personal antagonism between Trotsky and Stalin there were many substantial theoretical differences. Trotsky believed that it was impossible to build socialism in Russia without world, or at least European, revolution. Stalin felt that socialism could be built in Russia alone and that dependence on outside help would be fatal.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 25
Certainly this autobiography [of Trotsky] is the work of a great writer and even, perhaps, of a tragic personality. But the self-portrait does not reflect a great statesman. The subject lacks moderation, strength of character, and an eye for reality. Unparalleled arrogance constantly makes him blind to the bounds of possibility, and however much we are attracted by a writer straining after the impossible, his lack of moderation must be prejudicial to our conception of him as a statesman. The castles of Trotsky’s logic seem built in the air instead of on the solid earth of that knowledge of the human soul and of human affairs which alone insures lasting political results. Trotsky’s book is full of hatred, subjective from the first line to the last, passionately unjust. It is always a jumble of truth and fiction, which gives the book charm but betrays a mentality hardly likely to establish him as a politician.
To me one small but illuminating detail makes manifest Stalin’s superiority over Trotsky: Stalin gave instructions that a portrait of Trotsky was to be included in the big official History of the Civil War, edited by Gorky; Trotsky’s book, on the other hand, has only hatred and contempt for Stalin and maliciously perverts his merits.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 96
Stalin’s pragmatic approach gave the impression of a sounder man, and in a sense this was a true impression. He was always capable of retreat–from the calling off of the disastrous collectivization wave in March 1930 to the ending of the Berlin Blockade in 1949. Stalin’s skills in Soviet political methods make Trotsky look superficial, and the conclusion seems inevitable that he had far more to him than his rival. A mind may be intelligent, abilities may be brilliant; yet there are other qualities less apparent to the observer, without which such gifts have a certain slightness to them. Trotsky was a polished zircon; Stalin was a rough diamond.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 413
His judgment of men was profound. He early saw through the flamboyance and exhibitionism of Trotsky, who fooled the world, and especially America. The whole ill-bread and insulting attitude of liberals in the U.S. today began with our naive acceptance of Trotsky’s magnificent lying propaganda, which he carried around the world. Against it, Stalin stood like a rock and moved neither right nor left, as he continued to advance toward a real socialism instead of the sham Trotsky offered.
Statement by W.E.B DuBois regarding COMRADE STALIN on March 16, 1953
In Lenin’s time and under what was called the New Political Economy, the peasants were called upon to make the most of their opportunity and pile up their possessions. “Get rich quick,” was the cry. After this had been enthusiastically responded to and the kulak had extended his holdings at the cost of the poorer peasant, Trotsky challenged Stalin and said: “We have not made a revolution in the towns for the purpose of creating a new kind of capitalist in the country. The Revolution is permanent. Who now holds back is a Thermidorian.” Stalin replied that the ends of the Revolution could not be gained in a moment, that there had to be transitional solutions, that Lenin himself had to allow a temporary return to Free Trade and that Trotsky in his unreasonable hurry was like a foolish gardener who pulls up the root in his anxiety to see the budding plant.
As a matter of fact both men wanted the same thing; but impetuosity and patience, fire and foresight, can never go hand-in-hand with one another.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 366
Stalin’s capacity to learn was one of the advantages he had over Trotsky. It appears, for example…in the ability he showed, given time, to adsorb and internalize them [the boldness of both Lenin’s reversals of policy in April and July.] These were qualities Lenin could appreciate and use. They were enough to secure Stalin a place in the Council of People’s Commissars….
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 57
Chosen originally because he [Stalin] was thought more stable in judgment than Trotsky, who might, it was felt, precipitate the state into war, Stalin is not universally considered to have justified his leadership by success; first in overcoming the very real difficulties of 1925; then in surmounting the obstacle of the peasant recalcitrance in 1930-1933; and finally in the successive triumphs of the Five-Year Plan. For him to be dismissed from office, or expelled from the Party, as Trotsky and so many others have been, could not be explained to the people. He will therefore remain in his great position of leadership so long as he wishes to do so.
Webb, S. Soviet Communism: A New Civilization. London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1947, p. 340
Stalin was willful, Trotsky was overbearing. Stalin was wily, Trotsky was unambiguous. Yet Stalin’s line of conduct was consistently for the good of the revolution. This Lenin fully realized.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 190
We naturally spoke much of Trotsky. I shall quote two opinions. Elias Sokolovsky unsettled me by declaring that Stalin was a better man than Trotsky. “Stalin is a realist, Trotsky a fanatic. Stalin pursues his intentions until they lead him to the brink of a precipice; then he makes good his retreat. As to Trotsky, he goes on to the bitter end, though the whole world perish. He has too much vanity to take anything into account. I know him well; we are related.”
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 196
TROTSKY DROVE ZINOVIEV AND KAMENEV TO STALIN
But one thing is certain — that Trotsky drove Zinoviev and Kamenev onto the side of Stalin by the publication of his book entitled the Lessons of October. When this appeared both men were infuriated by Trotsky’s references to their opposition to the insurrection of 1917.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 159
Immediately after Lenin’s death Trotsky went into clearly defined opposition, at least in articles in the press, to the majority of the Politbureau.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 130
… The idea of a military solution to the internal party conflict occurred to some members of the Trotskyist opposition. Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Stalin had some apprehensions in this regard, which explains the changes made on the Revolutionary Military Council as early as 1924 and the removal of Antonov-Ovseyenko as head of the Political Directorate of the Red Army and his replacement by Bubnov.
It must be said quite emphatically, however, that at the time of the discussion in the party there was never any real threat of a military coup, if only because the Red Army was never just a “docile” instrument in Trotsky’s hands. Trotsky could rely fully on the soldiers of the Red Army when he gave the order to march on Warsaw, but he could not have raised the Red Army against the Central Committee and the Politburo.
Victor Serge, a well-known revolutionary internationalist who had taken part and left-wing movements in many countries, was working in the Soviet Union in the mid-20s. He joined the Trotskyists and… claimed that Trotsky could have easily defeated Stalin in 1924 if he had relied on the army.
But a military ouster of the triumvirate and the party apparatus loyal to it would have been an extremely difficult and uncertain undertaking–an adventure with very little chance of success. If Trotsky refrained from such a step, one can assume that what held him back was not concern over Bonapartism but uncertainty of his control over the Red Army.
The German edition of Serge’s memoirs contains a foreword by the prominent German revolutionary Wollenberg, who went to live in the Soviet Union after the failure of the German revolution…. Wollenberg convincingly disputes the version of events presented by Serge:
“What a colossal mistake in assessing the concrete situation that had arisen in the land of the Soviets within a few months after Lenin’s death! I must add that at the time Lenin died I was still on military duty in Germany. As a specialist in civil war I held a prominent post in the German Communist Party. At that time I thought along more or less the same lines as Serge and as Trotsky apparently thought about all these matters for another decade or more.
But when I moved to Moscow, I saw my error. In Moscow I was forced to realize that the leading figures on the Red Army general staff, such as Tukhachevsky, with whom I became friends, admired Trotsky greatly as the organizer of the Red Army, as a man and a revolutionary, but at the same time they took a critical attitude toward his general political position…. There could be no doubt that the top military command had full confidence in the party leadership…. And in the entire party there was an unquestionable majority in favor of the triumvirate, that is, the leading threesome formed after Lenin’s death: Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Stalin.
If the Soviet constitution could have been changed for a plebiscite to be held, it is impossible to say which of Lenin’s successors would have gathered the most votes. But it can be said for certain that, given the hostility of the peasants and the middle class (which was reappearing in the first half of the 1920s) in relation to Trotsky, who was considered an “enemy of NEP,” the outcome would have been rather unfavorable for him.
It is necessary to state this with full clarity because to this day Trotskyists of all varieties, as well as Soviet experts in West Germany and other countries, continue to spread the tale in speech, in print, on radio and on television that after Lenin’s death Trotsky supposedly missed a “sure bet.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 133-135
TROTSKY AND LEFT OPPOSITION ARE SUBVERSIVE
Trotsky, Bukharin, and Zinoviev held that it was impossible to build socialism in “backward Russia.” The Left Opposition wanted to convert the Russian Revolution into a reservoir of “world Revolution,” a world center from which to promote revolutions in other countries. Stripped of its “ultra-revolutionary verbiage,” as both Lenin and Stalin repeatedly pointed out, the Left Opposition really stood for a wild struggle for power, “bohemian anarchism,” and, inside Russia, military dictatorship under War Commissar Trotsky and his associates.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 193-94
By 1923, Trotsky’s underground apparatus was already a potent and far-reaching organization. Special codes, ciphers, and passwords were devised by Trotsky and his adherents for purposes of illegal communication. Secret printing presses were set up throughout the country. Trotskyite cells were established in the Army, the diplomatic corps, and in the Soviet state and party institutions.
Years later, Trotsky revealed that his own son, Sedov, was involved at this time in the Trotskyite conspiracy which was already ceasing to be a mere political opposition within the Bolshevik party and was on the point of merging with the secret war against the Soviet regime.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 196
In the autumn of 1923 Trotsky issued a “Declaration of the 46 Oppositionists,” criticizing the NEP, predicting a great economic crisis, and demanding full freedom for dissenting groups and factions.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 198
What I did not know until much later was that Trotsky’s salvos had been followed by a regular broadside known as the “Statement of the 46,” signed by 46 members of party, most of whom had taken part in former opposition movements.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 213
Stalin, in answer to a delegation’s question in November, 1927, as to the support of the Opposition, said:
“I think that the Opposition chiefly supports itself on non-proletarian circles…. The Opposition is the reflection of this dissatisfaction [of non-proletarian sections].”
I was in Russia in the months of 1927 when the issue was raging in the press and conversation. Seeing something of the former aristocrats, I got the impression of their interest in the conflict. Many of them welcomed the Trotsky Opposition as the hope of destroying the dictatorship.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 57
I sincerely believed at the time, and still believe now, that Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, and Bukharin were real enemies of Stalin;…
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 54
His [Trotsky] challenge to Stalin kept the Communist movement in turmoil and weakened our position in Western Europe and Germany in the 1930s.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 69
[Footnote 7] He [Kamenev] was twice expelled from the Communist Party but readmitted; then, in 1935, he was again expelled and jailed.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 54
It appears to anyone who casts a summary glance over the salient facts of the Russian revolutionary movement from the end of the 19th-century, that two basic tendencies, namely, the reformist and revolutionary, which had brought about the schism between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, subsisted up to a certain degree in the very heart of the Bolshevik Party which had come into power. Some of the leaders, Kamenev, Zinoviev and, to a certain degree, Trotsky, were, as we have seen, in certain important connections, hostile to revolutionary methods. They would have liked to have prevented the October Revolution and, once this had been accomplished, to have avoided the dictatorship of proletariat.
In practice they would have preferred a constitutional-democratic regime to a socialist regime. They had no confidence in the strength or the durability of a truly Socialist state in the heart of a capitalist world; they did not believe that the better class peasants could be won over to this cause. In addition, they criticized the principle of State industry which they looked upon as an enterprise of a capitalist order. They were in favor of freedom for splits and groups in the heart of the Party, that is to say, of the heterogeneousness of the Party. These points, upon which Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Trotsky came together repeatedly, constitute the principal characteristics of the most important of the “Oppositions.” It is the return to life of the Menshevik ferment.
So that, during Lenin’s lifetime, the Opposition consisted of those who opposed Lenin’s point of view, since Lenin actually ruled the Party which he “had forged with his own hands for 25 years,” and which was his own creation. But after Lenin’s death it [the Opposition] made, if one may say so, a pretext of Stalin to intensify its offensive and to attack the same theses with the same arguments, pretending all the while to be defending the purity of Leninism.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 163
Whether or to what extent Trotsky should be regarded as the direct sponsor of this coalition [the Forty-Six] is not certain…. Even many years after Trotsky’s death those who had stood close to him claimed that he observed the rules of discipline so strictly that he could not have acted as the sponsor of this particular demonstration of protest. In the light of all that is known about Trotsky’s conduct in such matters, this may be accepted as true. However, it is doubtful that he had, as is also claimed, no foreknowledge of the action of the Forty-Six or that he was surprised by it. Preobrazhensky, Muralov, or Antonov-Ovseenko undoubtedly kept him informed about what they were doing, and would not have done what they were doing without some encouragement from him. And so even if Trotsky was not formally responsible for their action, he must be regarded as its actual prompter.
… As to Trotsky, it [the Central Committee] did not charge him plainly with organizing the faction but held him morally responsible for the offense of which it found the Forty-Six guilty.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 114
Take, for example, the Trotskyite Counter-Revolutionary Fourth International, two- thirds of which is made up of spies and subversive agents.
Stalin, Joseph. Mastering Bolshevism. San Francisco: Proletarian Publishers, 1972, p. 25
TROTSKY OPPOSED STALIN IN THE 1920S FROM WITHIN
Back in Moscow after his trip to Germany, Trotsky launched an all-out campaign against the Soviet leadership…. With the threat of war hanging over Russia in the summer of 1927, Trotsky renewed his attacks on the Soviet government. Trotsky publicly declared: “We must restore the tactics of Clemenseau, who, as is well-known, rose against the French Government at a time when the Germans were 80 kilometers from Paris!”
Stalin denounced Trotsky statement as treasonable.
Once again, a vote was taken on the subject of Trotsky and his Opposition. In a general referendum of all Bolshevik party members the overwhelming majority, by a vote of 740,000 to 4000, repudiated the Trotskyite Opposition and declared themselves in favor of Stalin’s administration.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 203
Speaking as one nomenklatura member to another, he [Trotsky] issued the ultimate threat: if the Stalinists refused to deal with him, he would feel free to agitate for his views among rank-and-file party members.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 63
Trotsky’s adherents met secretly to make a program of their own and start a party within the Party.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 101
STALIN TRIED TO GET ALONG WITH TROTSKY BUT NOT VICE VERSA
The reader of the reports, subsequently published, from Stalin to Lenin and party headquarters will note that Stalin never ventured on any direct attack on Trotsky or criticism of him. Trotsky’s name never appears in Stalin’s reports. Such implicit criticism of Trotsky as it is to be found in the reports can only be read–and that by no means clearly–between the lines, in the form of attacks on certain army commanders and staff officers who had been appointed by Trotsky, and in criticism of their action. Trotsky’s outstanding position at that time may be seen from the simple fact that he imposes no such reserve on himself. In his short telegrams he mentions Stalin by name, attacks him, and criticizes him as a superior may a subordinate.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 90
Stalin had, indeed, made repeated attempts to improve their relations. Observers of the first meeting between the two, at the party congress at Stockholm, said that Stalin, then delegate of the Caucasian organization, did all he could to make up to Trotsky….
Trotsky spoke pretty openly of Stalin as a limited petty bourgeois, showing plainly thta he regarded him as far below himself.
Until sometime after the February-March revolution of 1917 Stalin continued to regard Trotsky without animus. It was, indeed, Stalin who officially moved that Trotsky should be admitted into the party, and into the party leadership. Their enmity began later, and no small part of their enmity was due to the great, the vast difference between them. The continual condescension and the social and intellectual arrogance with which Trotsky treated Stalin was bound before long to produce in the latter… hatred. Stalin’s steadily growing opposition to Trotsky’s military measures, and his hostility to him, at first concealed and then open, during the execution of the tasks entrusted to him, were partly products of that feeling. Trotsky’s whole style and manner, his preference for ex-Tsarist officers or for intellectuals received in society over people like Stalin, his way of letting it be seen that he regarded himself, consciously or subconsciously, as belonging after all to those classes, got on Stalin’s nerves. But Stalin remained long under the influence of the social inhibitions due to his upbringing, and he did not venture on open opposition to Trotsky. It was Trotsky, after all, who after the civil war, when his official duties no longer required that he should come into personal touch with Stalin, broke off all relations with him.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 127-128
The political duel with Trotsky was not started by Stalin, and it was a later invention that those who began the conflict had been induced to do so by Stalin.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 128
Perhaps earlier than most, Stalin spotted Trotsky’s strong and weak sides. Taking Trotsky’s enormous popularity into account, Stalin at first tried to establish if not friendly, then at least stable relations with him. On one occasion, Stalin turned up unannounced at Trotsky’s place in Archangelskoe outside Moscow to congratulate him on his birthday. The meeting was not a warm one. Each sensed the other’s dislike. On another occasion, with Lenin’s assistance, Stalin tried to establish better relations. This emerged in a telegram from Lenin to Trotsky dated October 23, 1918, in which Lenin gave an account of his conversation with Stalin. As a member of the Defense Council, Stalin gave his assessment of the position in Tsaritsyn and expressed the desire to work more closely with the revvoensoviet of the Republic. Lenin added:
“In conveying Stalin’s statements to you, Lev Davidovitch, I request that you think about them and say, first, whether you agree to discuss them personally with Stalin, for which purpose he would come here, and secondly, whether you consider it possible, in certain concrete circumstances, to set aside the existing friction and work together, which Stalin wants so much to do. As for myself, I believe it is necessary to make every effort to work well together with Stalin.”
Nothing came of it, however. Trotsky could not hide his superior attitude.
Stalin even spoke highly of Trotsky’s role in the revolution and Civil War in some of his speeches, but that did not improve Trotsky’s aloof attitude towards him.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 56
Soon after Stalin’s arrival back in Moscow, he wrote a celebrated article in the issue of Pravda of November 6, 1918, celebrating the first anniversary of the seizure of power, in which he warmly praised Trotsky! It contains such phrases as:
‘All the practical work of organizing the insurrection was done under the immediate direction of Trotsky, the Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be safely asserted that for the rapid desertion of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and for the clever organization of the Military Revolutionary Committee, the party is above all, and primarily, indebted to Comrade Trotsky.’
It seems that, as with his approach for a reconciliation a little earlier, Stalin was now, whatever his motives, really trying to effect a detente with Trotsky. Plainly, in the years that followed, an alliance with Trotsky might have been a possible maneuver, one of the available political configurations. Trotsky was never to be won over; but for the moment he seems to have been somewhat appeased. He does not appear to have opposed Stalin’s nomination to the Revolutionary Military Soviet.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 83
A few descriptions of scenes in the Politburo give a vivid glimpse of Stalin, the good soul:
“When I attended a session of the Politburo for the first time [writes Bazhanov] the struggle between the triumvirs and Trotsky was in full swing. Trotsky was the first to arrive for the session. The others were late, they were still plotting…. Next entered Zinoviev. He passed by Trotsky; and both behaved as if they had not noticed one another. When Kamenev entered, he greeted Trotsky with a slight nod. At last Stalin came in. he approached the table at which Trotsky was seated, greeted him in a most friendly manner and vigorously shook hands with him across the table.”
During another session, in the summer of 1923, one of the triumvirs proposed that Stalin be brought in as a controller into the Commissariat of War, of which Trotsky was still the head. Trotsky, irritated by the proposal, declared that he was resigning from the office and asked to be relieved from all posts and honors in Russia and allowed to go to Germany, which then seemed to be on the brink of a Communist upheaval, to take part in the revolution there. Zinoviev countered the move by asking the same for himself. Stalin put an end to the scene˜, declaring that ‘the party could not possibly dispense with the services of two such important and beloved leaders’.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 274
He [Stalin] repeatedly stated that the only condition for peace was that Trotsky should stop his attacks. The repeatedly made the gesture that looked like he stretching out of his hand to his opponent.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 278
Lenin appealed to both Trotsky and Stalin to set aside the friction between them and work together. Stalin made an effort and in a number of speeches spoke highly of Trotsky’s role; but Trotsky could not hide his sense of superiority.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 100
TROTSKY MERELY ATTACKED BUT HAD NO PRACTICAL PROGRAM
Among the outstanding political issues of the time, there was no clear Trotskyist policy. In his articles Trotsky merely criticized whatever was the policy of the majority. Such positive proposals as he did make were impracticable.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 132
TROTSKY’S REASONS AND TACTICS FOR OPPOSING STALIN
There is no psychological problem underlying the other trials, against the organization of the Trotskyists and against Bukharin’s Right Opposition group. These trials and the psychology of the defendants offered no difficulty. This does not mean that the course of justice was impeccable. Especially in the trial of the Trotskyists, everything is quite clear; in this trial Trotsky’s ideas and plans found vivid and quite lucid expression. To Trotsky, Stalin was the man who had carried out a counter-revolution; Stalin and his followers were called by Trotsky, by analogy with the French Revolution, ‘Thermidorians’. In his political passion he looked upon Stalin just as in the past revolutionaries had looked upon the Tsar, and accordingly he considered every means of combat permissible. To him it was obvious that Stalin was leading the Soviet Union to disaster; it was bound, he thought, inevitably to be involved in a great war, a war on two fronts, to be waged simultaneously against the Germans and the Japanese. Trotsky was convinced that Stalin would lose that war. From this he drew two conclusions: that the war might bring down Stalin and his regime; and that it was his, Trotsky’s, duty to prevent Russia’s total destruction. He intended to assume power, in order to maintain the dictatorship of the proletariat and the achievements of the revolution at least in part of the Soviet Union…. There had been repeated cases in history of revolutionaries coming to terms with the enemies of their country; they regard their own people’s worst evil as its own government, and not the external enemy. Similarly in 1904 the Russian revolutionary parties of all shades of opinion entered into relations with Japan during the war with Russia, in order to obtain from Japan weapons with which to combat Tsarism….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 291
STALIN DID NOT CAUSE TROTSKY’S FALL
The decline and fall of Trotsky, however, are not at all explicable in terms of a selfishly ambitious scheme developed by Stalin to thwart Lenin’s purposes.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 200
In fact, however, Trotsky was alone on the Politburo, and in the decisive slots of the party apparatus he had few supporters. This greatly weakened his position and made it impossible for him to automatically become the party’s new top leader.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 111
HAVING BEEN RUTHLESS TROTSKY DECIDED TO BE SO AGAIN
“We were never concerned,” wrote Trotsky, “with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the “sacredness of human life.’ We were revolutionaries in opposition, and have remained revolutionaries in power. To make the individual sacred we must destroy the social order which crucifies him. And this problem can be solved only by blood and iron.” Under the conditions of the 1930’s the Oppositionists having no other effective weapons at their disposal, concluded that assassination might prove effective.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 267
At the Central Committee’s plenum of November 1927, where Stalin eventually proposed his [Trotsky] expulsion from the party, Trotsky said, inter alia, addressing the Stalin group (I’m giving the gist of his words), “You are a bunch of bureaucrats without talent. If one day the country should be threatened, if war breaks out, you will be totally incapable of organizing the defense of the country and of achieving victory. Then, when the enemy is 100 kilometers from Moscow, we will do what Clemenceau did in his time: we will overthrow this incompetent government. There will be one difference in that whereas Clemenceau was content to take power, we, in addition, will shoot this band of contemptible bureaucrats who have betrayed the Revolution. Yes, we’ll do it. You too, you’d like to shoot us, but you dare not. We dare to do it because it will be an absolutely indispensable condition for winning.”
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 114
SOME TROTS WERE GOOD AND HAD TO BE USED
Trotskyists were good people. It is unfortunate there were differences of opinion. Some corrected themselves, others were for the time being irreplaceable. We had to use everyone. If Trotsky said something good, then Kuibyshev thought Trotsky himself was good. That was his fundamental weakness.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 115
TROTSKYISM IS COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY
The struggle against Trotskyism is the struggle against a muddled, meddling, and cowardly lower middle-class–in a word, counter-revolutionary in the heart of the Party.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 175
Stalin’s contribution [to the attack on Trotsky in late 1924] was a reasoned and destructive attack….
Examining Trotsky’s main heresies, he demonstrated by quotations from Lenin’s writings that Trotsky had been in direct conflict with the master at all stages…. The most damaging part of Stalin’s attack came in quotations from Trotsky’s correspondence in 1913 with Chkhiedze in which Trotsky had written that Lenin was “the professional exploiter of everything that is backward in the Russian workers’ movement.” He had also written that “the whole foundation of Leninism at the present time is built on lying and falsification.” Stalin closed his speech with the statement that “Trotsky has come forward now with the purpose of dethroning Bolshevism and undermining its foundations. The task of the party is to bury Trotskyism as an ideology.”
The speech sent a shock of horror through the party. It seemed impossible that any member, least of all a leading Bolshevik like Trotsky, could have written in such terms of Lenin. But Stalin’s evidence was irrefutable. The charge that Trotsky had been all long a vicious enemy of Lenin and Leninism was accepted as proven.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 203-204
Some Bolsheviks think that Trotskyism is a faction of Communism, which has made mistakes, it is true, which has done many foolish things, which has sometimes even been anti-Soviet, but which is nevertheless a faction of Communism. Hence a certain liberalism in dealing with Trotskyists and people who think like Trotsky. It is scarcely necessary to prove that such a view of Trotskyism is profoundly wrong and pernicious. As a matter-of-fact, Trotskyism has long since ceased to be a fraction of Communism. As a matter-of-fact, Trotskyism is the vanguard of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, which is carrying on the struggle against Communism, against the Soviet government, against the building of socialism in the USSR.
That is why liberalism towards Trotskyism, even when the latter is shattered and concealed, is stupidity bordering on crime, bordering on treason to the working class.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 263
It is sufficient for our purposes merely to indicate the few salient new ideas which gradually crystallized in the course of the polemics between the Stalinist machine and the Opposition and acquired decisive significance insofar as they provided ideological leverage for the initiators of the struggle against Trotskyism. It was around these ideas that the political forces rallied. They were three in number. In time they partly supplemented and partly replaced each other.
The first had to do with industrialization. The triumvirate again by coming out against the program of industrialization proposed by me, and in the interest of polemics branded it super-industrialization. This position was even deepened after the triumvirate fell apart and Stalin established his bloc with Bukharin and the Right Wing. The general trend of the official argument against so-called super-industrialization was that rapid industrialization is possible only at the expense of the peasantry….
At the second stage, in the course of 1924, the struggle was launched against the theory of permanent revolution. The political content of this struggle was reduced to the thesis that we are not interested in international revolution but in our own safety, in order to develop our economy. The bureaucracy feared more and more that it was jeopardizing its position by the risk of involvement implicit in an international revolutionary policy. The campaign against the theory of permanent revolution, devoid in itself of any theoretical value whatsoever, served as an expression of a conservative nationalistic deviation from Bolshevism. Out of this struggle emerged the theory of socialism in a separate country….
The third idea of the bureaucracy in its campaign against Trotskyism had to do with the struggle against leveling, against equality. The theoretical side of this struggle was in the nature of a curiosity. In Marx’s letter concerning the Gotha Program of the German Social Democracy, Stalin found a phrase to the effect that during the first period of socialism inequality will still be preserved, or, as he expressed it, the bourgeois prerogative in the sphere of distribution. Marx did not mean by this the creation of a new inequality but merely a gradual rather than a sudden elimination of the old inequality in the sphere of wages.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 395-396
TROTSKY USES THE ARGUMENT THAT OLD BOLSHEVIKS COULD NOT HAVE CHANGED SIDES
Trotsky used the age-old bourgeois argument: `he is an old revolutionary, how could he have changed sides?’ Khrushchev would take up this slogan in his Secret Report.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 139 [p. 121 on the NET]
YET, MANY OLD BOLSHEVIKS HAD CHANGED EARLIER
However, Kautsky, once hailed as the spiritual child of Marx and Engels, became, after the death of the founders of scientific socialism, the main Marxist renegade. Martov was one of the Marxist pioneers in Russia and participated in the creation of the first revolutionary organizations; nevertheless, he became a Menshevik leader and fought against socialist revolution right from October 1917. And what about the `Old Bolsheviks’ Khrushchev and Mikoyan, who effectively set the Soviet Union on the path of capitalist restoration.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 141 [p. 121 on the NET]
TROTSKY SAYS THE PARTY IS ALWAYS RIGHT AND MUST ALWAYS BE SUPPORTED
Trotsky did take part in the work of the Thirteenth Congress. His appearance on the speaker’s platform was greeted with applause almost as lengthy as it had been at the Twelfth Congress. Trotsky’s speech was conciliatory rather than aggressive. He defended himself and the Opposition as a whole rather weakly. It was in this speech that he uttered his famous remark that “the party is always right,” a statement hardly consistent with his actual activity and with the positions he had previously taken. In particular he said:
“None of us wants to be or can be right against his own party. The party in the last analysis is always right, because the party is the only historical instrument given to the proletariat to resolve its fundamental tasks…. I know that it is impossible to be right against the party. One can be right only with the party and through the party, for history has not created any other way of determining what is right. The English have a saying: My country, right or wrong. With much more historical justification we can say: Right or wrong on any particular, specific question at any particular moment, this is still my party.”
This was empty rhetoric, and Trotsky’s opponents did not consider it satisfactory. Even Krupskaya, who had sent Trotsky a warm letter when he was in Sukhumi a short time before, saying that Lenin had remembered him during the last days of his life, said in her speech at the congress that if the party is always right, Trotsky should not have started the discussion. Zinoviev remarked rather passively that “the party has no need of bitter-sweet compliments.” Stalin rejected Trotsky’s rhetoric even more emphatically. He said that in the given instance Trotsky had once again made an assertion that was incorrect in principle:
“The party often makes mistakes. Lenin taught us to teach the party the art of correct leadership on the basis of its own mistakes. If the party made no mistakes, there would be nothing with which to teach the party. Our task is to catch these errors, reveal their roots, and show the party and the working class how we erred and how we are going to correct these errors in the future. Without this, progress would be impossible for the party. Without this, the forming of party leaders and cadres would be impossible, because they are formed and trained through the struggle against their own errors, by overcoming those errors. I think that a statement like Trotsky’s is somewhat of a compliment with somewhat of an attempt at mockery–an attempt, of course, that failed.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 127
TROTSKY WAS UNPOPULAR BUT WAS ALLOWED FREEDOM TO PUBLISH
A heated discussion again erupted in the fall of 1924 in connection with certain questions of party history. Despite the struggle against “Trotskyism” that had been proclaimed, the State Publishing House was issuing the collected works of Trotsky as well as those of Lenin. The volume of Trotsky’s works being prepared for publication in the fall of 1924 contained his writings and speeches of 1917.
The Central Committee voted to withdraw Trotsky’s pamphlet [Lessons of October] from circulation, although publication of his Works continued [17 volumes of Trotsky’s works appeared before publication was discontinued in 1927]. Resolutions against Trotsky and the Left Opposition were adopted by virtually all party organizations. The Leningrad province committee, headed by Zinoviev, proposed that Trotsky be expelled from the party. Many party cells, including cells in the army and navy, urged that Trotsky be removed from his position as commissar of war….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 131-132
TROTSKY WAS RELIEVED OF MANY POSITIONS BUT REMAINED ON THE POLITBURO
Without waiting for the plenum, Trotsky sent a long statement to the Central Committee asking to be relieved of his duties as commissar of war and chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic….
Trotsky was allowed to remain on the Politburo, however. After a short time he was given new assignments as a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Council, chairman of the scientific and technical division of the Supreme Economic Council, head of the electrical engineering board, and chairman of a Chief Concessions Committee.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 133
TROTSKY DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE SU OR WHAT WAS GOING ON
… Trotsky remained in his own mind a revolutionary and not “a counter-revolutionary heading toward fascism,” as Stalin declared. However, because of his inherent dogmatism, his tendentiousness, and his lack of information Trotsky could not understand or properly evaluate the complex processes taking place in the Soviet Union and the world Communist movement in the ’30s. As a result, he was not able to formulate an alternative Marxist program. He was unable even to understand correctly the reasons for his own defeat.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 179
TROTSKY’S ARGUMENT THAT PARTY LEADERS CAN’T BE REMOVED IS FALSE
Now on what basis can we describe the categories of people mentioned by Trotsky as being privileged and irremovable? Let us start with the Communist leadership. It can hardly be pretended that this leadership is irremovable. Indeed in another context, Trotsky will tell you that a considerable number of leaders have been removed–including himself. Nor can it be seriously contended that Trotsky was removed bureaucratically. On the contrary, he was removed for violating Party discipline after debates which lasted from 1923 to 1927, and after the Party had declared against the line taken by him, by 724,000 votes to 4000. But perhaps the present Party officials are irremovable? On the contrary, the present Party officials are elected by secret ballots of the Party members. Do those Party members occupy a privileged position with regard to the workers? On the contrary, at the periodical cleansings of the Party, the non-Party workers are given the fullest opportunity of criticizing Party members and demanding their expulsion from the Party.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 155
TROTSKY OPPOSED THE PARTY FROM LENIN’S DEATH TILL 1927
From 1923 (just prior to the death of Lenin), until his expulsion from the Party in 1927, Trotsky’s struggle against the policy and leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet government was continuous. He not only refused to accept the decisions of the majority of the Party, but worked actively against them.
Shepherd, W. G. The Moscow Trial. London: Communist Party of Great Britain, 1936, p. 14
TROTSKY SHOWED NO INTEREST IN TAKING OVER WHEN THE TRIUMVIRS SPLIT
The exchanges between Bukharinists and Zinovievists had gone on for many months now and the conflict between the triumvirs had been simmering for nearly a year. This, it might have seemed, was the realignment for which Trotsky had waited, the opportunity to act. Yet throughout all this time he was aloof, silent about the issues over which the party divided, and as if unaware of them. Thirteen years later, when he stood before the Dewey Commission in Mexico, he confessed that at the 14th Congress he was astonished to see Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Stalin clashing as enemies. “The explosion was absolutely unexpected by me,” he said. “During the congress I waited in uncertainty, because the whole situation changed. It appeared absolutely unclear to me.”
This recollection, so many years after the event, may seem quite incredible; but it is fully borne out by what its author wrote in unpublished diary notes during the congress itself. To the Dewey Commission he explained that he was taken by surprise because, although he was a member of the Politburo, the triumvirs had carefully concealed their dissensions from him and had thrashed out their differences in his absence, within the secret caucus that acted as the real Politburo. The explanation, although true, explains little. For one thing, the crucial controversy over socialism in a single country had already been conducted in public. Trotsky could not have missed its significance if he had followed it. He evidently failed to do so. For another, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Krupskaya, and Sokolnikov had raised the demand for an open debate not within a secret caucus but at the plenary session of the Central Committee, in October. But even if they had not done so, and even if the public controversy over socialism in a single country had given no indication of the new cleavage, it would still be something of a puzzle how an observer as close, as interested, and as acute as Trotsky could have remained unaware of the trend and blind to the many omens. How could he have been deaf to the rumblings that had for months been coming from Leningrad?
His surprise, we must conclude, resulted from a failure of observation, intuition, and analysis. Moreover, it is implausible that Radek, Preobrazhensky, Smirnov, and his other friends should not have noticed what was happening and that none of them tried to bring matters to Trotsky’s attention. Evidently his mind remained closed. He lived as if in another world, wrapped up in himself and his ideas. He was up to his eyes in his scientific and industrial preoccupations and literary work, which protected him to some extent from the frustration to which he was exposed. He shunned inner-party affairs. Full of the sense of his superiority and contempt for his opponents, and disgusted with the polemical methods and tricks, he was not interested in their doings. He submitted to the discipline by which they had shackled him, but he held up his head and ignored them. A few years later his biographer was told in Moscow that he used to appear dutifully at the sessions of the Central Committee, take his seat, open a book–most often a French novel–and become so engrossed as to take no notice of the deliberations.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 248-249
The eyes of the whole assembly [the 14th Congress of 18 December 1925] were now on Trotsky: had the great and eloquent man nothing to say? His lips were sealed. He remained silent even when Andreev asked that new prerogatives be voted for the Central Committee to enable it to deal more effectively with dissenters–to enable it, that is, to break the back of the new Opposition. The latter had been heavily outvoted; but before its close the congress received with uproar and anger reports that in Leningrad turbulent demonstrations against its decisions were in progress:… And to the end not a word escaped from Trotsky’s mouth.
[Footnote]: He [Trotsky] made only one Zwischenruf in the debate. When Zinoviev explained that the year before he had asked for Trotsky’s exclusion from the Politburo because after all the accusations they had hurled at Trotsky, it was incongruous to Re-elect Him to the Politburo, Trotsky Interjected: “Correct!”
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 254
TROTSKY ACTED LIKE HE WAS ON THE MASSES SIDE BUT SIDED WITH THE PARTY LEADERS
The ruling factions played on popular weariness and craving for security and frightened people with the bogy of permanent revolution. Speaking for the record, Trotsky usually dwelt on the antagonism between the ruling group and the rank-and-file. Off the record he admitted that the ideas and slogans of the ruling group met an emotional need in the rank-and-file, that this overlaid their antagonism, and that the Opposition was at variance with the popular temper.
What then was to be done? It is not the business of the Marxist revolutionary, Trotsky reflected, to bow to the reactionary mood of the masses. At times when their class consciousness is dimmed, he must be prepared to become isolated from them.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 309
ON SOME CRUCIAL SOVIET LEADERSHIP ISSUES TROTSKY SIDES WITH STALIN
…how can anyone think or believe that power could pass from the hands of the Russian proletariat into those of the bourgeoisie peacefully, by way of a quiet, imperceptible bureaucratic change? Such a conception of the Thermidor is nothing but reformism. “The means of production,” he went on, “which once prolonged to the capitalists remain in the hands of the Soviet state till this day. The land is nationalized. Social elements that live on the exploitation of labor continue to be debarred from the Soviets and the Army.” The Thermidorian danger was real enough, but the struggle was not yet resolved. And just as Stalin’s left course and attack on the NEP-man and the kulak had not effaced the Thermidorian danger, so his, Trotsky’s, banishment had not obliterated the October Revolution. A sense of proportion was needed in the evaluation of facts and in theorizing. The concept of Soviet state capitalism was meaningless where no capitalists existed; and if those who spoke of it denounced state ownership of industry, they renounced an essential prerequisite of socialism. Nor was the bureaucracy a new exploiting class in any Marxist sense, but a “morbid growth on the body of the working class”–a new exploiting class could not form itself in exercising merely managerial functions, without having any property in the means of production.
The implications of this dispute became apparent when a conflict flared up, in the summer of 1929, between the Soviet Union and China over the possession of the Manchurian Railway. China claimed the railway which the Soviet Government held as a concessionaire. The question arose whose side the Opposition ought to take. The French syndicalists, the Leninbund, and some Belgian Trotskyists held that the Soviet government should give up the railway (which had been built by Russia in the course of the Tsarist expansion to Manchuria); and in Stalin’s refusal to do so they saw evidence of the imperialist character of his policy. To their surprise Trotsky declared that Stalin was right in holding on to the railway and that it was the Opposition’s duty to side with the Soviet Union against China. This was, in the first year of his exile, Trotsky’s first great controversy with his own followers–we shall see him again, in his last year, during the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-40, engaged in another, his last, dispute with his own followers, a dispute again centering on the Opposition’s attitude towards the Soviet Union; and in that dispute he would again adopt essentially the same view as in 1929.
He saw no reason, he argued, why the workers’ state should yield a vital economic and strategic position to Chiang Kai-shek’s Government (which had recognized the Soviet concession in Manchuria). He criticized severely Stalin’s manner of dealing with the Chinese, his disregard of their susceptibilities, and his failure to appeal to the people in Manchuria–a more considerate and thoughtful policy might have averted the conflict. But once the conflict had broken out, he asserted, communists had no choice but to back the Soviet Union. If Stalin gave up the railway to the Kuomintang he would have yielded it not to the Chinese people but to their oppressors. Chiang Kai-shek was not even an independent agent. If he obtained control of the railway, he would not be able to maintain it but would sooner or later lose it to Japan (or else allow American capital to bring the Manchurian economy under its influence). Only the Soviet Union was strong enough to keep this Manchurian position out of Japan’s hands. China’s national rights, invoked by the critics, were, in Trotsky’s view, not relevant to this case, which was an incident in a complex and many -sided contest between the various forces of world imperialism and the workers’ state. He concluded that the time for the Soviet Union to do historic justice and return the Manchurian outpost to China would come when a revolutionary government was established in Peking; and this forecast was to come true after the Chinese revolution. In the meantime, the Soviet government was obliged to act as the trustee of revolutionary China and keep for it the Manchurian assets.
One may imagine the consternation which Trotsky caused among the zealots of the Opposition. They were puzzled by his “inconsistency,” thinking that he was missing a great opportunity to strike at Stalin. He was, indeed, not out to score points; but his behavior was consistent with what he was saying about the Soviet Union as the workers’ state. For that state he felt, as an outcast, the same responsibility that he had felt as a member of the Politburo and of Lenin’s government. He found the displays of self-righteous indignation over Soviet policy, in which some of his pupils indulged, wrong-headed and cheap; and he told them bluntly that he had nothing in common with “Trotskyists” who refused to give the workers’ state unshakable, if critical, allegiance.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 55-57
TROTSKY ATTACKS AND STALIN DEFENDS THE OLD GUARD AGAINST BUREAUCRACY CHARGE
[In Pravda on December 15,1923 Stalin stated] After referring to bureaucracy in the Party apparatus and the danger of degeneration of the old guard i.e., the Leninists, the main core of our party, Trotsky writes:
“The degeneration of the ‘old guard’ has been observed in history more than once….”
It is impossible to understand how opportunists and Mensheviks like Bernstein, Adler, Kautsky, Guesde, and the others, can be put on a par with the Bolshevik old guard, which has always fought, and I hope will continue to fight with honor, against opportunism, the Mensheviks and the Second International…. How is one to interpret these insinuations about opportunism in relation to the old Bolsheviks, who matured in the struggle against opportunism?…
I do not by any means think that the old Bolsheviks are absolutely guaranteed against the danger of degeneration any more than I have grounds for asserting that we are absolutely guaranteed against, say, an earthquake. As a possibility, such a danger can and should be assumed. But does this mean that such a danger is real, that it exists? I think that it does not. Trotsky himself has adduced no evidence to show that the danger of degeneration is a real danger.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 5, p. 393-395
STALIN ATTACKS TROTSKY AT A 1927 JOINT MEETING
…It was significant that Stalin was the only speaker at the 15th Party Congress to receive a standing ovation, both for his report and for the closing speech. He cannot be accused of having ‘stage-managed’ or ‘scripted’ the proceedings; most of the delegates simply saw him as the true emergent leader of the party, an impression strengthened by the unconvincing speeches of the opposition whose nerve had failed….
A combined plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of October 23, 1927 was convened to discuss the agenda of the forthcoming 15th Congress. When the plenum agreed that congress should debate the Trotskyist opposition, shouts came from the floor and notes were handed to the platform to the effect that the Central Committee had concealed Lenin’s testament and not carried out his will. Stalin could no longer remain silent on this matter. His hour-long speech was full of anger and undisguised hatred of Trotsky. Once again he rehearsed all the sins of the rejected leader, going back to 1904. Knowing that Trotsky’s main weapon against him was Lenin’s warning about his personal shortcomings, Stalin countered along the same lines:
“The opposition thinks it can ‘explain’ its defeat on the personal grounds of Stalin’s rudeness, the obduracy of Bukharin and Rykov, and so on. That’s too easy. Its mumbo-jumbo, not an explanation…. In the period between 1904 and the February revolution Trotsky was hobnobbing with the Mensheviks the whole time and carrying on a desperate struggle against Lenin’s party. In that time Trotsky was defeated again and again by Lenin’s party. Why? Perhaps Stalin’s rudeness was to blame? But Stalin was not then Secretary of the Central Committee, he was passing his time in those days far from foreign exile, he was carrying on the struggle in the underground, against tzarism, while the struggle between Trotsky and Lenin was being played out abroad, so what has Trotsky’s rudeness got to do with it?”
Stalin launched his attack under the banner of defending Lenin, whom Trotsky in the early days had called– among other things– ‘Maximilien Lenin’, an allusion to the dictatorial ways of Robespierre. He dealt Trotsky a telling blow by noting that his early pamphlet, ‘Our Political Tasks’, had been dedicated to the Menshevik Axelrod. Triumphantly, and to the accompaniment of the audience’s jeers, Stalin read out the dedication: ‘To my dear teacher, Pavel Borisovich Axelrod’….
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 137
OPPOSITION NEVER HAS ANY SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT
4,000 votes was the most that the Opposition forces polled at any one time in the entire course of their agitation. Despite the party band on “factions” and the official insistence on “revolutionary unity” as the cornerstone of Soviet domestic politics, an astounding measure a freedom of debate, criticism, and assembly was granted to the Trotskyite oppositionists by the Soviet government.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 204
To speak of it, however, as a victory of Stalin over Trotsky is incorrect. They only personified the issues. Both represented policies with wide support. Trotsky’s immense personal popularity– (his picture, with Lenin’s, adorned more office walls at the time of my visit than any other)–gave his policies prestige. But Trotsky’s disruptive tactics finally alienated all but a small support.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 58
A combined plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission in October 1923 condemned Trotsky. He was supported by only two out of the 114 participants in the meeting. In effect, even before the meeting, Trotsky was isolated in the struggle for leadership of the party. He had been utterly defeated. He then tried to rely on the army, where he still had considerable authority. With the help of his old ally, Antonov-Ovseyenko who was head of the Political Administration of the Revvoensoviet, he proposed to use the armed forces to demonstrate against the Central Committee’s line. But, with few exceptions, the Communists in the army and navy would not support him, either. The 13th Party Conference of January 1924, which debated the issue, not only condemned Trotsky, it also passed a number of measures in the field of economic policy. As a result, Trotsky admitted that his attacks on the Central Committee, and the discussion he had initiated, were undertaken with the aim of his becoming leader of the party. One cannot help noticing, however, that Trotsky started up every discussion at a time least favorable to himself, and virtually knowing in advance that he would be defeated.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 87
In June 1926 Stalin launched an open offensive against the new grouping. Trotsky & Zinoviev in the Politburo, and Kamenev in its non-voting membership, had no support except for a handful of Central Committee members, and a few thousand individual Communists.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 136
Of course, in the 1930s there still remained oppositional elements in the Soviet Union whose inclinations bore an anti-communist character and who were prepared at the appropriate moment to wage a battle against Stalinism “from the right,” even at the cost of collaborating with fascist interventionists. The continued existence of such elements was clearly seen during the years of World War II.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 143
I did not believe our victory [Victor Serge recollects] and at heart I was even sure that we would be defeated. When I was sent to Moscow with our group’s messages for Trotsky, I told him so. We talked in the spacious office of the Concessions Committee… he was suffering from a fit of malaria; his skin was yellow, his lips were almost livid. I told him that we were extremely weak, that we, in Leningrad, had not rallied more than a few hundred members, that our debates left the mass of workers cold. I felt that he knew all this better than I did.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 310
The opposition represents an insignificant minority in our party…. Whether we will have unity with that insignificant group in the Party known as the opposition, depends on them. We want to work in harmony with the opposition. Last year, at the height of the discussion, we said that joint work with the opposition was necessary. We’ve re-affirm this here today…. The majority wants united activity. Whether the minority sincerely wants it, I do not know. That depends entirely on the comrades of the opposition.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 6, p. 244
TROTSKY TRIED TO TAKE OVER IN 1927
Trotsky was feverishly preparing for the coming showdown. By the end of October, his plans were made. An uprising was to take place on November 7, 1927, the tenth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Trotsky’s most resolute followers, former members of the Red Army Guard, were to head the insurrection. Detachments were posted to take over strategic points throughout the country. The signal for the rising was to be a political demonstration against the Soviet government during the mass workers parade in Moscow on the morning of November 7th.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 205
TROTSKY’S ATTEMPTED TAKEOVER COLLAPSES
…The majority of the Politburo gained the day. Trotsky was expelled from the Politburo and the Central Committee, and deprived of both his offices. His supporters, too, were dismissed from the principal offices in the State…. While Trotsky’s supporters were removed from direct political influence, only those who took active steps against the party were later exiled.
Trotsky, now no longer in the Politburo or the Central Committee, went on with his activities. Now that it was really too late to do anything, he became energetic. He went really to work at building up an illegal organization to overthrow the party and the Government. Suddenly there appeared in Moscow, though in no great numbers, illegal leaflets, addressed not to the mass of the people but as a rule only to party members….
It was November 7, 1927; the Soviet Union was celebrating the 10th anniversary of the victory of Bolshevism in Russia….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 136
No worse day could have been chosen for an appeal to opposition sentiment…. Here there assembled on this day a few supporters of Trotsky, including Karl Radek. From an open window in this corner building, they tried to address the marching columns in support of the Opposition. Trotsky showed himself, but attracted no attention from the crowds. The Opposition had conceived this as an important demonstration, and had hoped for great results from it. The few speakers at the window were noticed, however, only by the State police. The demonstration was a failure.
This attempted demonstration against the Government gave the signal for the penultimate move in the dramatic conflict. A great purge began. Now the party organization had ample evidence that there was a Trotskyist opposition organization within the party. It had proof also of illegal activity on the part of that opposition, aiming at the overthrow of the party majority and even of the Government. Everyone suspected of supporting Trotsky was expelled from the party; very many were exiled.
Trotsky’s banishment was then resolved on in that dramatic atmosphere. He was exiled to Alma Ata, a town in Russian Central Asia,….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 137-138
Trotsky’s insurrection collapsed almost as soon as it started. On the morning of November 7th, as the workers marched through the Moscow streets, Trotskyite propaganda leaflets were showered down on them from high buildings announcing the advent of the “new leadership.” Small bands of Trotskyite’s suddenly appeared in the streets, waving banners and placards. They were swept away by irate workers.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 205
… Having taken his earlier defeat to heart, Trotsky was now convinced that, if necessary, a new party must be created to oppose the official body. To gather recruits for this objective, he distributed his supporters among the local Soviets and factory committees, with instructions to express the Opposition viewpoint wherever possible.
This final maneuver more than anything else goaded Stalin to sudden action. Wordy criticism he would permit, but an Opposition which sought to undermine the very roots of Leninism must be smashed once and for all….
Faced by such a show of force and frightened by the implications contained in Trotsky’s suggestion to set up a new party, Zinoviev and his group again surrendered and again made public and servile apologies to Stalin, who once more forgave them.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 69
Stimulated by the ill-luck which dogged Stalin’s policy in China, the Opposition decided to come into the open for a final attempt to oust the General Secretary. Preparations began for the Congress of 1927.
If he had received a setback in China, Stalin was by no means beaten. This time he decided to destroy the Opposition altogether and to except no more sham capitulations. On November 15, 1927, the Central Committee of the Party decided to expel Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev from its sittings. On December 18th the assembled Congress confirmed the earlier decision and expelled all the leading dissenters of the Party.
For all its bellicose phrases, this was more than the Opposition expected. Expulsion from the party meant the loss of good jobs, the loss of citizen rights, possibly even Siberian exile would follow. Only Trotsky and a few others were sufficiently steadfast to endure this. First Zinoviev and Kamenev, then Rakovsky, Sokolnikov and others, asked forgiveness of Stalin. In the most servile turns, they begged to be allowed to re-enter the fold, forswearing all future connections with Trotsky and the intransigeants.
For the last time, with surprising lack of animosity, Stalin granted their request, allotting them subordinate positions but removing them from leadership of the Moscow and Leningrad Soviets.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 70
The party leadership was rather slow in applying extreme disciplinary measures to the opposition leaders. There were plenty of warnings and resolutions of censure by the leading Party organs, and Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev were gradually stripped of their more important Party and Soviet posts.
On the 10th anniversary of the Revolution, on November 7, 1927, groups of oppositionists organized counter-demonstrations under their own banners and slogans. Although this effort was very unsuccessful because of the small number of the participants, it gave the Party leadership an excuse for proceeding much more vigorously. Trotsky and Zinoviev were promptly expelled from the Party. The Party Congress, meeting at the end of the year, formally expelled all the other oppositionists of any prominence and laid down the rule that adherence to the views of the Trotskyist opposition was inconsistent with membership in the Communist Party.
With expulsion and exile hanging over their heads Zinoviev and Kamenev weakened and left Trotsky alone in the role of a martyr to his principles. Together with most of their associates, they recanted and after a period of probation were readmitted to the Party. Trotsky remained unyielding, and early in 1928 he and a number of his chief associates were banished to various remote parts of the Soviet Union….
Trotsky’s place of banishment was Alma Ata in the eastern part of Russian Turkestan, not far from the Chinese frontier. He was not placed under actual restraint, but was kept under close observation. Notwithstanding this, he and his associates, all of them old revolutionists, well versed in the tricks of eluding guards and spies, kept up a lively clandestine correspondence between themselves and with the remnants of their underground organization throughout the country. Most of this correspondence, to be sure, ultimately fell into the hands of the GPU and the Party authorities.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 74-75
Trotsky’s two chief associates in opposition, Zinoviev and Kamenev of whom the former was for a long time President of the Communist International and the latter Vice Premier and President of the Moscow Soviet, have gone to Canossa, confessed their mistakes, and received minor posts in the Party and Social service.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 104
…At any rate, on November 7th, 1927, [the Tenth] anniversary of the Revolution, they [The Opposition] ventured a direct appeal to the public in Moscow, Leningrad, and other great cities from balconies or improvised platforms in parks and squares. This forlorn hope was an utter failure; the masses refused to be stirred. The Opposition orators were greeted with some booing and cat-calls, and a few rotten apples were thrown, but there was no excitement or disorder. Nevertheless the gesture was flagrant, and by Soviet law tantamount to open rebellion. The Fifteenth Party Congress, which met in December, expelled Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, and 75 of their principal adherence from the Communist Party.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 115
TROTSKY WAS NOT DEFEATED BECAUSE STALIN UNDERMINED HIM
Trotsky was not defeated because of Stalin’s growing power. As the Russian historians Valerii Nadtocheev and Dimitri Volkogonov have pointed out, the reverse is true: Stalin gained power because he was able to provide leadership in the Politburo’s effort to neutralize Trotsky.
… (with Zinoviev taking a harder line against Trotsky than Stalin did).
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 23
TROTSKY THINKS HE CAN TAKE OVER
In a June 15, 1926, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “If Trotsky tells Bukharin that he soon hopes to have a majority in the party, that means he hopes to intimidate and blackmail Buharin. How little he knows and how much he underestimates Bukharin! But I think pretty soon the party will punch the mugs of Trotsky and Zinoviev along with Kamenev and turn them into isolated splitters, like Shliapnikov.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 114
In a September 23, 1926, letter to Molotov Stalin said, “If Trotsky ‘is in a rage’ and thinks of ‘openly going for broke,’ that’s all the worse for him. It’s quite possible that he’ll be bounced out of the Politburo now–that depends on his behavior. The issue is as follows: either they must submit to the party, or the party must submit to them. It’s clear that the party will cease to exist as a party if it allows the latter (second) possibility.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 129
OPPOSITION REFUSES TO ACCEPT THE MAJORITY VOTE AND BECOMES A FACTION
One may also assert that certain individual tendencies of mind and of character are apt to identify themselves with certain political tendencies. Narrowness of mind and short-sighted aggressiveness may manifest themselves by prejudice and opposition–intellectual and moral cowardice by lower middle-class opportunism and lapsing towards Reformism and Menshevism.
It is this which gives the Opposition its great importance and its formidable scope, because it is the divergence of tendencies in question which brings about wide divergence in the interpretation of communist doctrine. Divergence from the practical interpretation of the doctrine, that is–to say from Marxism, a different assessment of the “peculiar requirements of the moment,” may have quite unforseen consequences, or may give a different meaning to the whole policy. A mistake about an isolated fact may be corrected like a mistake in an arithmetical sum. But an error in tendency is a general deformation, beginning at the bottom and, increasing by geometrical progression, bringing with it an enormous number of modifications of detail susceptible of changing the whole face of national history–to say nothing of resulting in terrible disaster. It is a modification of the “line” of the great Party which is the motive force of the State.
In its origin, the Opposition is a tendential malady.
But it is a particular kind of tendential malady of the gravest possible kind, whose main symptom is lack of discipline, definite separation and drifting apart from the majority of the leaders. The opposing tendency to that of the majority is no longer a subject for discussion, but an object for war.
It is in this way that the functions of the Opposition differ radically from those of self-criticism. The name of self-criticism is to bring all the tendencies back into a common path. Nothing is more natural than that different tendencies should exist; nothing is more healthy than clear and open discussion on any points at issue. Self-criticism ensures this maximum freedom of expression of opinion, which is the privilege of the Bolshevik Party.
But the Opposition does not follow the lines of self-criticism. It’s essential and most pernicious characteristics are that it forms itself into a separate body, refuses to identify itself with the decision of the majority– the majority vote being the only democratic method and, indeed, the only sensible method of settling a disagreement until the facts can be thoroughly co-ordinated. In this case, something remains over after the vote is taken. The Opposition seizes this something and consolidates around it in a solid body. Instead of accepting the decision more or less openly, it fights it, “The Opposition View” becomes indurated and overgrown, and the State organism is attacked by a parasitic growth in its interior. In this way, the Opposition brings about what is called a split, the prelude to a definite schism. Self-criticism always remains open, but the Opposition closes itself up. The self-critic remains inside the community. With the Opposition, the figure “2” makes its appearance. And so, in this way, we see “liberty of opinion” pathologically creating a group in the bosom of the Party which takes the form of a Party itself and constitutes a permanent conspiracy. When this Opposition group considers itself to be sufficiently strong (and outside the Party it relies, like all oppositions, on the support of the various adversaries of the State policy), it goes to war and tries to seize the reins of power in order to change its heterodoxy into orthodoxy.
Lenin had very explicitly fought this particularism, by which the disease starts, at the Tenth Congress, and he had caused the following resolution to be adopted: “Each organization of the Party must keep a strict watch to insure that the freedom of necessary criticism of the mistakes of the Party, of analyzing the fundamental policy of the Party, of taking notice of all its practical experience, of applying its decisions, of considering the remedies for any errors that may be made, and everything that follows from these things, should not become the prerogatives of certain men or of certain groups collected around a definite platform but should be quite open to all the members of the Party.”
On what questions was the Opposition most active? According to what has just been said, and when it becomes a question of unreasonable persistence, in the Party mechanism, of general tendencies running contrary to those of the majority, and of the consolidating of those tendencies–it is easy to understand that the Opposition showed itself in all the great administrative problems of the USSR and of the Communist International. It always attempted to approach all these problems from an angle different to the one from which the administrative majority envisioned them and approached them.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 160-162
Now according to the party rules adopted at the 10th Congress, with Trotsky’s approval, the actions in which he engaged, in particular consultations with the group of Forty-Six, indisputably constituted “factionalism.” The crime was compounded by the leakage of his two letters–accidental or deliberate, no one could tell–to the public. The Party Conference that convened in January 1924, therefore, was entirely within its rights in condemning Trotsky and “Trotskyism” as a “petty-bourgeois” deviation.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 485
The crisis I referred to occurred in September 1923. An acute economic depression was causing discontent among the workers and peasants, in some cities even giving rise to strikes– a phenomenon as portentous as it is rare in Soviet Russia. And at the same time two secret societies were discovered within the Communist Party, called the “Workers’ Group” and “Workers’ Truth”–the one Menshevik in tendency, and the other Anarcho-syndicalist.
Eastman, Max. Since Lenin Died. Westport, Connecticutt: Hyperion Press. 1973, p. 33
OPPOSITION UNITES AROUND TROTSKY
The whole Opposition gravitated around the personality of Trotsky.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 164
This Opposition, gathered around Trotsky, issued a memorandum of their grievances, a “platform.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 180
In reality, the USSR and the international Communist movement faced multiple threats from multiple enemies and potential enemies. But to those who felt endangered, Trotskyism came to embody those threats; multiple threats emanated from one “enemy” who acted as the agent of all enemies, who used the language and logic of Bolshevism to destroy it. A host of perceived dangers had one name.
Chase, William J., Enemies Within the Gates?, translated by Vadim A. Staklo, New Haven: Yale University Press, c2001, p. 227.
THE OPPOSITION’S FIGURES ARE INACCURATE & ITS PROGRAM IMPRACTICAL
In the first place, many of the precise details (statistics) upon which the Opposition relies in framing its accusations of deviation and its predictions of headlong disaster are indisputably inaccurate, either because the figures given are incorrect, or because they are misleading owing to all the elements of a particular question not having been taken into consideration.
For instance: the so-called increase in industrial and transport shortage in relation to demand (this was the main complaint); the delay in the increase of wages in proportion to the work done; the shortening of the working day; the increase in the difference between the wages of men and women; the lowering of the wages of youths; the increase of unemployment; the amount allocated to the unemployed; etc….
In the second place, many of the charges are brought without a proof, while in other cases they are in direct contradiction to earlier decisions of the Party and to results already achieved. For instance: the disguising of the progress made by the kulaks; the suppression of democracy within the Party; the abandonment of the idea of industrialization (in the shadow of the NEP); the attempt to oppose co-operation in electrification (also in connection with the NEP).
In the third place, a great number of the proposals of the Opposition are quite obviously dangerous, clumsy and likely to produce disastrous results. All this category of definite proposals shows a lack of appreciation of realities, and possesses a character of bluff and demagogism, either because the proposals are bad in themselves, or because they are inopportune and premature.
For instance (apart from the two obvious criticisms of the disadvantages of the NEP, the exploitation of that temporary state of affairs brought about by immediate necessities, and the demand that it should be put an end to immediately): That support should be given to the nationalist deviations to the Right, which might have the affect a breaking up the Soviet Federation. That wholesale prices should be increased (the 15th Congress pointed out the formidable repercussions that would eventually result from such a measure, which the Opposition adopted without considering the mechanism of Socialism as a whole, but solely in order to secure the goodwill and support of the peasants). That restrictions should be placed on production (the closing down of factories and over-organization). That measures, equally demagogic, of mass exemption from contributions of the poor peasants and the withdrawal of State capital from co-operative schemes should be adopted (which would mean the reinforcement of private capital). That a surtax should be levied upon the rich, tantamount to confiscation, and that private capital should be suddenly abolished and the NEP liquidated before it had entirely done its work. That supplementary requisitions of wheat should be made (infallibly provoking the crash of the whole struggling credit policy of the USSR).
It is clearly a great temptation for anyone who wishes to play to the gallery to suggest such measures, but all they could achieve would be a reckless adjustment, on paper only, of problems which in actual practice can only be solved gradually and not without a certain delay.
It is obviously easy to brandish evidence like the kulak danger, the growth of unemployment, the shortage of housing for the workers, and the fatty degeneration of the bureaucracy. It is also easy to say in nearly every case: “Things ought to move more quickly.” But the question is whether it is possible to move more quickly and whether the relative, not actual, slowness of progress is or is not the fault of the Party leadership, and in any case whether this is a sufficient reason to make radical alterations in its whole policy.
Is the Party to be blamed, for instance, because it is unable to procure the vast sums of money necessary for the complete reconstruction of the workers’ dwellings? And in the great major drama of the industrialization of land (which is known to be necessary but which is being retarded both voluntarily and involuntarily), is it not putting the cart before the horse in the most ridiculous way to stifle the co-operative system of commodity distribution, which is actually in existing working order, by potential electrification?… The question at issue is whether one ought to abandon an objective that is half reached for another–a greater one–which is not yet attainable. The alternative one has to decide is: either to do something concrete, or to begin at the end.
It is, in any case, notorious that many of the measures of salvation feverishly put forward by the Opposition are the very ones which the Party itself recommends and applies. In these cases the Opposition is merely discovering America. It is playing the part of the fly on the coach-wheel (and a tsetse fly at that!).
Invest 500 million rubles in industry, enjoins the Opposition. But the curve of investment in industry, continuously mounting, was already 460 million rubles in 1927 when this injunction was launched. Some of the proposals of the Opposition–as, for instance, those relating to a better distribution of agricultural produce, to the assistance of poor presents and small contractors, to the charter of adolescent workers–are copied from resolutions already passed and put into force.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 182-185
BUKHARIN THE RIGHTIST UNITES WITH KAMENEV AND ZINOVIEV THE LEFTISTS
During this struggle, former `Left Opposition’ members made unprincipled alliances with Bukharin in order to overthrow Stalin and the Marxist-Leninist leadership. On July 11, 1928, during the violent debates that took place before the collectivization, Bukharin held a clandestine meeting with Kamenev. He stated that he was ready to `give up Stalin for Kamenev and Zinoviev’, and hoped for `a bloc to remove Stalin’.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 135 [p. 116 on the NET]
OPPOSITION HAS NO MASS SUPPORT BECAUSE IT HAS NO PROGRAM
My old friend Belinsky, the acknowledged leader and thinker of our group in Moscow at this time, summed up the position as follows:… Not one oppositionist group had proved capable of preparing in good time, as an alternative to the party’s general line, a program sufficiently revolutionary to capture the sympathy of the masses….
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 74
OPPOSITIONISTS COMMITTED MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF CRIMES
These professional wreckers set themselves the task of destroying what the Soviet people were building…. And in strict adherence to Trotsky’s instructions “to strike the most palpable blows at the most sensitive spots”, these ‘heroes’ blow up bridges, cause explosions in factories and gas mines, kill workers, wreck power stations, cause train accidents, destroy horses and kill cattle, sabotage agricultural plans, weaken the defense industry, sabotage the country’s finances and foreign trade, create an artificial shortage of essential supplies, put nails and glass in butter! No crime is too monstrous for this gang.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 245
UNITED OPPOSITION IS REJECTED BY THE PARTY’S MAJORITY
It is true that in the spring and early summer of 1926 the opposition leaders campaigned quite energetically, using conspiratorial methods for the most part. Representatives of the bloc were sent to dozens of cities to acquaint their supporters with the platform of the opposition, while illegal meetings of Opposition supporters were held in many local areas, with new members being recruited to the opposition faction. One such illegal meeting, at which Lashevich spoke, was held secretly in the woods outside Moscow.
The first open confrontation between the Opposition and majority of the Central Committee took place at a joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission in July 1926. Trotsky spoke for the Opposition bloc. Now the party saw Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev on the same platform but hardly anyone said “Here is our true Central Committee.” The overwhelming majority of the Central Committee condemned the opposition. Zinoviev was removed from the Politburo, on which Trotsky remained as the sole oppositionist.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 163
OPPOSITION LIED WHEN IT SAID IT WOULD END FACTIONALISM
Although the opposition statement of October 16, 1926, spoke of an end to all factional activity, the Opposition was unable to refrain from renewed factionalism….
On June 9, 1927, a gathering to bid farewell to Smilga developed into an Opposition demonstration of sorts…. Stalin and the Politburo judged the demonstration at the Yaroslavl Station to be a factional move and a violation of the promises made in the opposition’s statement of October 16, 1926.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 169-170
It must be admitted, that from the point of view of political morals, the conduct of the majority of the Oppositionists was by no means of high quality…. We are all obliged to lie; it is impossible to manage otherwise. Nevertheless, there are limits that should not be exceeded even in lying. Unfortunately, the Oppositionists, and particularly their leaders, often went beyond these limits.
Nicolaevsky, Boris. Power and the Soviet Elite; “The letter of an Old Bolshevik.” New York: Praeger, 1965, p. 54
In former times we “politicals” [unknown author representing the Old Bolsheviks] used to observe a definite moral code in our relations with the rulers. It was regarded as a crime to petition for clemency. Anyone who did this was finished politically. When we were in jail or in exile, we refrained from giving the authorities any promise not to attempt to escape. We always adhered to this rule, even in instances where to have given such a pledge would have meant alleviation of our lot. We were their prisoners. It was their business to guard us, ours to try to escape….
There is quite a different psychology nowadays. To plead for pardon has become a common phenomenon, on the assumption that since the party in power was “my party,” the rules which applied in the Czarist days are no longer valid. One hears this argument everywhere. At the same time, it is considered quite proper to consistently deceive “my party,”… This has given rise to a special type of morality, which allows one to accept any conditions, to sign any undertakings, with the premeditated intention not to observe them. This morality is particularly widespread among the representatives of the older generation of Party comrades….
This new morality has had a very demoralizing effect inside the ranks of the Oppositionists. The borderline between what is and what is not admissible has become completely obliterated, and many have fallen to downright treachery and disloyalty. At the same time, the new morality has furnished a convincing argument to those opposed to any rapprochement with the former Oppositionists, the argument being that it is impossible to believe them because they recognize in principle the permissibility of telling lies. How is one to determine when they speak the truth and when they lie?
Nicolaevsky, Boris. Power and the Soviet Elite; “The letter of an Old Bolshevik.” New York: Praeger, 1965, p. 55
1927 TROTSKY DEMONSTRATIONS FAILED BADLY
In reply to the decision to expel Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev from the Central Committee, the opposition attempted to organize its own demonstration to mark the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution. This proved, however, to be not so much a demonstration of strength as of weakness. There were hardly any workers in this “parallel” demonstration; student youth and office workers from various institutions predominated….
During this demonstration of the opposition leaders gave speeches from the balcony of a house on the corner of Vozdvizhenka and Mokhovaya streets, but compared with the official demonstration of Moscow workers, the Opposition demonstration was a sorry spectacle. It was easily dispersed by the workers vigilante groups and militia units quickly organized for this purpose. The first arrests were made on the streets at that time. Posters with Opposition slogans and portraits of Trotsky were torn out of demonstrators hands and ripped to pieces. Many students were beaten up. The attempt to organize an Opposition demonstration in Leningrad was even less successful. Zinoviev, who obviously had overestimated his influence in that city, came close to being beaten up during the march celebrating the 10th anniversary of the revolution.
On November 14 a plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission expelled Trotsky and Zinoviev from the party….
Yakubovich, an eyewitness to the funeral [of Joffe] describes it in his memoirs:
“… It must have been obvious for those watching this scene that Trotsky’s cause was hopelessly lost. The new generation of Red Army soldiers did not know him, had not taken part in the civil war, were raised in a new spirit. The name of Trotsky meant little or nothing to them. The composition of the funeral demonstration also made one stop and think, for there were no workers in it. The United Opposition had no proletarian support.”
In December 1927 the 15th Congress confirmed the expulsion of Trotsky and Zinoviev and resolved to expel 75 additional members of the opposition, including Kamenev, Pyatakov, Radek, Rakovsky, Smilga, Lashevich, Safarov, and Smirnov.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 173-174
Rykov, chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, even said:
“Despite the situation the opposition has tried to create, there are only a few in prison. I do not think I can give assurances that the prison population won’t have to be increased somewhat in the near future. (Voices from the floor: “Right!”)
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 175
Trotsky gave his last speech as a party figure at the plenum of October 1927. It was confused but passionate…. he provided no convincing arguments or clear socialist ideas. His hatred of the Central Committee and of Stalin were plain to see, but this was not echoed among the participants of the plenum, nor among Communists who would read the speech in the documents of the 15th Congress.
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution, Trotsky’s followers decided they would join the celebrations as a procession, forming their own columns and carrying banners with such unexceptional slogans as ‘Down with the kulak, the Nepman, and the bureaucrat!’…. Zinoviev, who had gone to Leningrad for the occasion, and Trotsky, who was touring the streets and squares of Moscow in his car, discovered that they had only minimal support. Perhaps Trotsky was remembering the occasion of the Second Congress of Soviets, 10 years earlier, when he had dismissed the departing figure of Martov with the words: ‘Go to the dustbin of history, where you belong!’ The same words were being cast at him now, as he tried to appeal to the crowds on Revolution Square, making their way into Red Square. Stones were thrown at him and the windows of his car were smashed.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 140
The Leningrad demonstration took place in October, 1927. It was repeated shortly afterwards in Moscow on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution. There was rough handling of the crowds. Trotsky’s automobile was shot at. Someone with an axe jumped on the step of the car and shattered the windshield. It seemed to Trotsky that a bloody end was being prepared for himself and his sympathizers. It is possible he was right in his judgment at this point. Had he decided to lead a militant party of revolt he would have been beaten just the same…. In December, 1927, at the 15th Congress of the Party, Stalin obtained the exclusion of the whole of the Trotsky faction en bloc,…
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 103
TROTSKY CONTENDS THE OPPOSITION IS STRONG AND GROWING WHEN IT ISN’T
In 1929 a decision was made to deport Trotsky… A few months later Trotsky continued to assert that the Left Opposition was growing stronger and increasing its numbers. He stated,
“In spite of all the lies of the official press, the Left Opposition is growing and fortifying itself ideologically throughout the world. Progress has been especially great during this past year.”
These were illusions, and they were very soon dispelled.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 177
STALIN SUPPORTS SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY
At the same time it is true to say that had Stalin’s statement [that the SU will lead the road to socialism and not Europe] been broadcast to the world, the whole Socialist and Labor movement would have laughed it out of court. All the “Marxist” schools of Western Socialism, as well as the other schools of Socialist thought, held the view that socialism must come first in the most highly developed capitalist countries; and the majority of them held the view that it would come through parliamentary democracy. The Bolshevik Party was comparatively unknown to the Western Socialists.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 103
When Stalin made his statement concerning socialism in one country it never entered his head that this was a denial of the international significance and character of the Russian Revolution. Nor was he accused of such a denial. it was only later, when Trotsky took his stand on the principal that at least a European revolution must precede the possibility of socialism in Russia that Stalin’s statement was turned into a denial of world revolution.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 103
This was precisely the basis of his disagreement with Trotsky at this time. Trotsky insisted that the revolution must reach to the boundaries of Western Europe or perish, and question of accomplishing this task governed all his views of policy within Russia.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 114
June 17, 1931–the essential feature of Stalinism…is that it frankly aims at the successful establishment of socialism in one country without waiting for world Revolution.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 195
Pravda’s expressions of opinion are carefully prepared and fully authoritative. The earlier editorial for the first time enunciated clearly what has become known as the Stalinist doctrine–that a successful socialist state can be established in the USSR irrespective of what happens abroad, with the important corollary that Soviet example–but not interference in the affairs of other countries–shall be true to the ultimate ideal of universal socialism. In other words, the results in Russia shall count more than propaganda abroad.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 367
Lenin shared the view that a simultaneous Revolution in a number of countries was unlikely.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 113
However, for reasons which have never been altogether cleared up, Trotsky in the early summer of 1926 entered into a bloc with Zinoviev and Kamenev. Common jealousy of Stalin’s predominant position and belief that their combined efforts might shake it probably influenced the formation of this alliance. Then Trotsky, as far back as 1905, had proclaimed his so-called theory of permanent revolution, which fitted in easily with the line of criticism adopted by Zinoviev and Kamenev….
Throughout 1926 and 1927 a furious theoretical controversy between the Stalinite majority and the opposition, headed by Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev raged around the questions whether socialism could be successfully built up in a single country, whether the Soviet economic system could properly be called socialist or state-capitalist, and how far the Russian Revolution was dependent upon the international revolutionary movement for permanent survival. Conflicting texts from Lenin were hurled back and forth; and sometimes different meanings were extracted from the same text. The balance of quotations from Lenin during the period of the War, when he was convinced that the day of general socialist revolution was not far off, would tend to establish a close connection between the success of the Bolshevik Revolution Russia and similar upheavals in other countries. But one of the last things which Lenin wrote, a pamphlet on Cooperation, contains the statement that “we have all the means for the establishment of a socialist society.” (Collected works, Volume 33, page 468)
[The actual quote is as follows:
“Indeed, the power of the state over all large-scale means of production, political power in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants, the assured proletarian leadership of the peasantry, etc.–is this not all that is necessary to build a complete socialist society out of co-operatives, out of cooperatives alone, which we formerly ridiculed as huckstering and which from a certain aspect we have the right to treat as such now, under NEP? Is this not all that is necessary to build a complete socialist society? It is still not the building of socialist society, but it is al that is necessary and sufficient for it.”
To further destroy Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution Stalin could also have quoted Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 21, page 342 (August 23, 1915) wherein Lenin states:
“Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone. After expropriating the capitalists and organizing their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world–the capitalist world–attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of other countries, stirring uprisings in those countries against the capitalists and in case of need using even armed force against the exploiting classes and their states.”
And Stalin could have quoted Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 23. page 79 (written in September 1916) which states:
“Thirdly, the victory of socialism in one country does not at one stroke eliminate all war in general. On the contrary, it presupposes wars. The development of capitalism proceeds extremely unevenly in different countries. It cannot be otherwise under commodity production. From this it follows irrefutably that socialism cannot achieve victory simultaneously in all countries. It will achieve victory first in one or several countries, while the others will for some time remain bourgeois or pre-bourgeois. This is bound to create not only friction, but a direct attempt on the part of the bourgeoisie of other countries to crush the socialist state’s victorious proletariat. In such cases a war on our part would be a legitimate and just war. It would be a war for socialism, for the liberation of other nations from the bourgeoisie. Engels was perfectly right when, in his letter to Kautsky of September 12, 1882 he clearly stated that it was possible for already victorious socialism to wage “defensive wars.” What he had in mind was defense of the victorious proletariat against the bourgeoisie of other countries.
Only after we have overthrown, finally vanquished and expropriated the bourgeoisie of the whole world, and not merely of one country, will wars become impossible.”
This citation was a powerful weapon for the Stalinites in their contention that it was possible to build up socialism in a single country.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 72
On larger issues, too, Stalin proved to be in the right as against Lenin and Trotsky. He did not subscribe to their faith in an impending world revolution, and planned the defense of Russia without reference to any such illusory hopes.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 63
For five long years Stalin nowhere achieved independence. In the war he was officially Trotsky’s subordinate; in the state he was one among the 19 members of the Central Committee, and one among the five members of the Politburo; in both he was always overshadowed by Lenin and Trotsky. But in one respect he always had a clearer vision than those two leaders. For years both of them believed in the imminence of the world revolution, particularly in Germany. Stalin denied this, and therefore demanded action of Draconian severity in Russia. Long after the triumph of the Bolsheviks, Lenin declared that his own revolution was lost if Russia was to remain the only socialist country. We may call this error heroic.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 73
Fundamentally Stalin and Trotsky both wanted the same things, namely, to build up the industrial state and to carry on the fight against the rich peasant, the kulak, who had survived in the middle position between the land-owning nobility and the un-liberated peasant. But they wanted these things in different tempos, and the tempo was in each case related to the man’s temperament. Looking back today (1942) on what Stalin later achieved, we are inclined to admit that the spirit of history has vindicated him…. Furthermore, Stalin kept one eye fixed on Asia, the place of his origin, derived thence his standards and his tempo, and did not believe Europeans capable of the social revolution, whereas he already saw this dawning in China.
On this decisive point Stalin proved to be in the right. Trotsky, every inch the western European, had, with all his knowledge of peoples and languages, erred in the matter of Europe’s revolutionary tempo. What he called the permanent, meaning the world, revolution came neither in his day nor in ours, at least not in revolutionary forms; in spite of which Stalin did build up this individual state.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 93
Stalin who, in contrast to Lenin and Trotsky, never believed the world revolution imminent, really understood the utterly antirevolutionary character of the Germans.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 124
After the death of Lenin in 1924, a struggle developed among the leaders for the succession…. Stalin apparently, even in those days, was disposed to a program of the development of the communistic idea in Russia as “the first thing to do first,” leaving the world revolution to take care of itself, whereas Trotsky was then and is now the ardent proponent of the idea that the world revolution was foremost.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 34
Stalin gave a severe rebuff to the enemies of the proletarian revolution–Bukharin and Preobrazhensky. These opportunists asserted at the Congress that Russia could not be the first country to achieve a successful Socialist revolution. To this assertion Comrade Stalin replied: “We must abandon the antiquated idea that only Europe can show us the way. There is dogmatic Marxism and creative Marxism. I stand by the latter.” (“Reply to Preobrazhensky on Point 9 of the Resolution on the Political Situation,” Lenin and Stalin, 1917.)
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 90
Stalin stated, “There is such a thing as dogmatic Marxism and creative Marxism. I stand on the latter ground.”
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 132
Lenin also made mistakes and admitted to them. At the 18th Congress Stalin declared communism could be built in one country. That conclusion certainly runs counter to Marxism-Leninism. At that time I didn’t agree, but I didn’t speak out.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 284
Stalin whole-heartedly supported Lenin. At the Sixth (illegal) Congress of the Party, in August, 1917, Stalin reported upon the political situation. He strongly opposed the addition to the ninth point of the Resolution on the political situation, of an amendment, inspired by Trotsky and proposed by Preobrazhensky, making the construction of the Socialist State dependent on the outbreak of proletarian revolution in the West (this question of “establishing Socialism in one country only” is one of those around which the Opposition and the majority of the Party have fought one another most bitterly–even until quite recent years).
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 52
…Nevertheless, this discussion seems to us to be strange enough, even for its time. For to what other methods could the Russian Revolution have recourse, since it was evidently incapable of immediately imposing the proletarian Revolution upon the other countries of the world, than to build up socialism to the best of its ability in the only territory occupied by it? What else could it do? Leave the conquered territory to stagnate whilst it devoted itself to the future conquest of the rest of the world?
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 174
Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and those other gentlemen who later became spies and agents of fascism, denied that it was possible to build socialism in our country unless the victory of the socialist revolution was first achieved in other countries, in the capitalist countries. As a matter of fact, these gentlemen wanted to turn our country back to the path of bourgeois development, and they concealed their apostasy by hypocritically talking about the “victory of the revolution” in other countries. This was precisely the point of controversy between our Party and these gentlemen. Our country’s subsequent course of development proved that the Party was right and that Trotsky and Company were wrong. For during this period we succeeded in liquidating our bourgeoisie, in establishing fraternal collaboration with our peasantry, and in building, in the main, a socialist society, notwithstanding the fact that the socialist revolution has not yet been victorious in other countries.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 158
What Stalin told the party was, roughly, this: Of course we are looking forward to international revolution. Of course we have been brought up in the school of Marxism; and we know that contemporary social and political struggles are, by their very nature, international. Of course we still believe the victory of the proletariat in the West to be near; and we are bound in honor to do what we can to speed it up. But–and this was a very big, a highly suggestive ‘but’–do not worry so much about all that international revolution. Even if it were to be delayed indefinitely, even if it were never to occur, we in this country are capable of developing into a full-fledged, classless society. Let us then concentrate on our great constructive task. Those who tell you that this is Utopia, that I’m preaching national narrow-mindedness, are themselves either adventurers or pusillanimous Social Democrats. We, with our much despised muzhiks, have already done more for socialism than the proletariat of all other countries taken together; and, left alone with our muzhiks, we shall do the rest of the job.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 290
(Sinclair’s comments only)
I think it was the part of wisdom for him [Stalin] to withdraw from the effort to make a Bolshevik revolution throughout the rest of the world, according to the formula to which Trotsky is still adhering.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York : Rand School Press, 1938, p. 53
… Was it possible or impossible to build Socialism in one country, particularly Russia?
Stalin answered this question by declaring: “Yes, it is possible, and it is not only possible, but necessary and inevitable.”
Zinoviev and Kamenev disputed this answer, and by July of 1926 had openly joined Trotsky in one united opposition bloc against the policy of Stalin and the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
When this opposition to the Central Committee’s policy had been rebuffed and rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Communist Party, Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev resorted to secret factional activities on a large scale. For this Zinoviev and others were brought to book by the Party. Following the 1926 July meeting of the Central Committee, Zinoviev was expelled from the Party.
Shepherd, W. G. The Moscow Trial. London: Communist Party of Great Britain, 1936, p. 11
The central “ideological” issue between them [Stalin and Trotsky] had been socialism in one country–the question whether the Soviet Union would or could achieve socialism in isolation, on the basis of national self-sufficiency, or whether socialism was conceivable only as an international order of society.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 515
Stalin, while insisting that revolutions were about to break out in Europe, continued to stipulate that the Russian Communist Party should concentrate on building “socialism in one country.” There was no fundamental paradox in Stalin’s change of policy. His controversial commitment to socialism in one country did not imply a basic disregard for the necessity of international revolution. Stalin had never ceased to accept that the USSR would face problems of security until such time as one or more of the globe’s great powers underwent a revolution of the Soviet kind. This did not mean, however, that he was willing to risk direct intervention in Europe; he still feared provoking a crusade against the USSR. But he no longer sought to restrain the communist parties in Germany, France, and Italy which had made no secret of their frustration with the Comintern’s insistence that they should collaborate with social-democratic and labor parties in their countries.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 262
STALIN SELECTED THE BEST PEOPLE FOR THE JOB
Stalin brought to the front such men as Frunze, Voroshilov, Budienny, Timoshenko, and many others,….
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 129
Voroshilov states, “Comrade Stalin was extremely strict on the question of the selection of personnel. Regardless of position, and genuinely being ‘no respecter of persons,’ he swept away in the roughest way all useless experts, commissars, Party and Soviet workers. But at the same time, Stalin, more than anyone, always supported and defended those who, in his opinion, justified the revolutionary confidence in them. Comrade Stalin acted in this way with well-known Red Army commanders who were known to him personally. When one of the true proletarian heroes of the Civil War, afterwards Commander of the 14th Cavalry Division, Comrade Parhomenko, killed in the struggle against the Makhno bandits, was at beginning of 1920, sentenced through a misunderstanding to capital punishment, Comrade Stalin, hearing of it, demanded his immediate, unconditional release. Similar cases could be given in numbers. Comrade Stalin, better than any of the other big leaders, knew how to appreciate deeply workers who had devoted their lives to the proletarian revolution; and the commanders knew this, as everyone else knew it who at any time under his leadership had carried on the struggle for our cause.
Life of Stalin, A Symposium. New York: Workers Library Publishers, 1930, p. 82
But, above all, Stalin is a consummate political strategist, with an almost uncanny knack for selecting the right man for the right job. He studies those who work with him until he knows their strong points and weaknesses better than they do themselves. His subordinates respond with a deep loyalty to their chief. During the recent war he seldom made a mistake in appointing leaders, and if unsuspected weaknesses cropped up the man was speedily recalled. His real flair for military strategy aided him in working with the generals and selecting the right man to lead campaigns.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 12
But the degree to which Stalin’s personal sagacity affected Russia’s military success is, after all, not the most important thing. What mattered was that he had the wisdom to pick capable marshals and to give them very great authority, and that he knew how to pool their advice and coordinate it in the mobilization of all the broad political and economic and moral means at his disposal, in order to win victory.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 160
At first Tsiurupa was Lenin’s only deputy, the vice-chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars. But he was not a member of the Central Committee. Stalin brought him in later. Krzhizhanovsky was chairman of Gosplan and Lenin’s personal friend…but he was not on the Central Committee. Only Stalin let him into the Central Committee. Take the third figure–Krasin, also an old friend and comrade of Lenin. He played a large part in the 2nd party congress, where Bolshevism was formed. He was the people’s commissar of foreign trade under Lenin. But Lenin didn’t let him, a party worker, into the Central Committee…. Chicherin was Commissar of foreign affairs under Lenin. Lenin quite often praised him as an outstanding figure of Soviet power, and yet he didn’t admit him to the Central Committee. But Stalin let him in. It was a different time. Stalin knew how to choose people; he even advanced those whom Lenin did not allow inside.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 139
Stalin had carried out sweeping purges, especially in the higher commanding echelons, but these had had less effect than is sometimes believed, for he did not hesitate at the same time to elevate younger and talented men;… The speed and determination with which he carried out the transformation of the top command in the midst of the war confirmed his adaptability and willingness to open careers to men of talent. He acted in two directions simultaneously: he introduced into the army absolute obedience to the government and to the Party…and he spared nothing to achieve military preparedness, a higher standard of living for the army, and quick promotions for the best men.
Djilas, Milovan. Conversations with Stalin. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962, p. 49
Shrewd, observant, and honest, he knew the qualities he wanted in his officers. They included modesty, humility, and discipline, which, speaking soon after Lenin’s death, he had impressed on the cadets of the Kremlin Military Academy. But he wanted also manners and breeding.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 423
Thus he [Stalin] went on, day after day, throughout four years of hostilities–a prodigy of patience, tenacity, and vigilance, almost omnipresent, almost omniscient.
…In October Hitler formally opened the battle of Moscow, ‘the greatest offensive ever known’. Leningrad had been cut off and blockaded. Nearly the whole of the Ukraine and the coast of the Azov Sea had been conquered by the Wehrmacht. Budienny’s armies had been routed–the Germans took half a million prisoners on the Dnieper. Stalin dismissed both Voroshilov and Budienny from the command–the men of Tsaritsyn, the ‘NCO’s’, as Trotsky used to call them, were not equal to this motorized warfare. New commanders, Zhukov, Vasilevsky, Rokossovsky, were soon to replace them.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 467
As General Secretary of the Party, he [Stalin] was in a position to pick out men for preferment and service. He proved to be a good judge of character. He knew exactly on what human elements in the Communist Party he could build.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 81
Still again, one must mention his ability to handle men. He is a good political tactician, a party boss and organizer par excellence. Friends told me in Moscow in 1935 that Stalin possessed great magnetism, that you felt his antenna as soon as he entered a room. His personal as well as political intuition is considerable…he chooses men with great perspicacity.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 518
Lenin used to say that selection of personnel is one of the cardinal problems in the building of socialism.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 61
PERMANENT REVOLUTION THEORY IS BOGUS AND OPPOSED BY STALIN
In what respect does this “theory of the permanent Revolution” differ from the well-known theory of Menshevism which repudiates the concept: dictatorship of a proletariat? In substance there is no difference.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 158
The Russian Mensheviks said: ” Russia is a backward country, and therefore the sole possibility is a bourgeois revolution which will give an impetus to the development of capitalism in Russia.” Trotsky said: “No. A. proletarian revolution is possible, but unless this is speedily followed by a proletarian revolution in Europe, it is doomed to collapse.” The basic agreement in these two standpoints is clear. Russia cannot on the basis of its own resources build up a Socialist order of society.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 46
One of the most remarkable of the Trotskyists myths–which has found ready acceptance among capitalist and Right-Wing Socialist publicists–is that the essence of the controversy between Trotsky and the Bolshevik Party was around the question of whether the world revolution should be abandoned or not–the world revolution being in the estimation of these people a kind of missionary enterprise to which one gives or withholds donations. A reference to the documents of the controversy will show that no such question was ever under discussion. The Russian workers and their Communist Party have always recognized the need for rendering fraternal assistance to the workers of other countries engaged in decisive struggles. It is true that with regard to events in England and China in the years 1927-28, the Trotskyists propounded policies of incredible naivete. Later, they were to propound policies of warlike adventurism, but discussions on international affairs were subordinate to the main controversy, as to the possibility of building Socialism; and even as far as they were concerned, it was two conceptions as to what international policy should be that were in conflict, and not an internationalist conception in conflict with a nationalist conception.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 49
There was no controversy therefore as to whether the Soviet proletariat should aid the revolutionary struggle of the workers in other countries. There was no controversy as to the danger of capitalist restoration arising from a successful intervention. The controversy was: could the Soviet Union, by its own unaided resources, establish a fully Socialist society in its own territory? That was the essence of the dispute between Trotsky and the Bolshevik Party, and from this dispute there arose two different policies within the Soviet Union–a Bolshevik policy of Socialist construction, and a Trotsky policy of surrender and fright in face of the capitalist elements– varied from time to time by the advocacy of adventurist leaps in the dark.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 50
The crucial point of Trotsky’s argument is never proved. It is merely asserted.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 153
Where did Stalin stand in this dramatic controversy? He was unmoved by the exhortations of the left Communists and by their preachings on revolutionary morality. The idea that the Russian revolution should sacrifice itself for the sake of European revolution was completely alien to him, even though Lenin, for all his realism, was chary of dismissing it lightly. To the man who had spent most of his active career in Baku and Tiflis, European revolution was a concept too hazy and remote to influence his thinking on matters which might determine the life and death of the Soviet Republic, that same republic whose still feeble but tangible reality he himself had helped to create…. He voted with Lenin and his tiny fraction for peace.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 186
Stalin was not prominent in the debates which raged for the next two months in the Central Committee, the Government, at the fourth Congress of the Soviets, and at the seventh Congress of the party. (He was, incidentally, rather inconspicuous at any of the great debates, the true trumpets of ideas, which the party periodically indulged during Lenin’s lifetime.) But he said enough at a session of the Central Committee to show which way his mind worked: ‘In accepting the slogan of revolutionary war we play into the hands of imperialism. Trotsky’s attitude is no attitude at all. There is no revolutionary movement in the west, there are no facts [indicating the existence] of a revolutionary movement, there is only a potentiality; and we in our work cannot base ourselves on a mere potentiality….’ Though he voted with Lenin there was a subtle difference in the emphasis of their arguments. Lenin, as usual, kept his eye on the facts and the potentialities of the situation and spoke about the delay in the development of the revolutionary movement in the west. Stalin grasped the facts and dismissed the potentialities–‘there is no revolutionary movement in the west’.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 189
Trotsky was much more clever and had read many more books, but, unlike Stalin, he failed to understand certain simple truths–for example, the fact that once the world revolution had not come, building socialism in Russia was the only possible alternative.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 13
Almost alone, Stalin doubted all this [the necessity of permanent revolution]. He doubted it before the Revolution, and he doubted it more sardonically afterwards. He didn’t know Western Europe as well as the others; his visits, added together, amounted to only a few weeks: but all his hard suspiciousness was at work. He was also, as usual, more harshly realistic than his colleagues. He understood better than they did the power concentrated in the authorities of a highly organized state…. He didn’t believe that the German proletariat would ever fight against that power. He knew Russia as the emigres didn’t: he had no illusions: he knew how backward it was.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 252
TROTSKY PROPOUNDS PERMANENT REVOLUTION THEORY
Later there arose another difference in theory. It concerned the question whether Russia could set up a Socialist economic order without waiting for a world revolution. Stalin held that it could; Trotsky denied it,…. He [Trotsky] coined the phrase ‘permanent revolution’. He was unable, however, to show just how the permanent revolution should be carried out. Such men as Bukharin and Rykov vigorously combated Trotsky’s anti-peasant attitude. Later, however, they came over to Trotsky’s idea that it was impossible to introduce Socialism into Russia until the revolution had gained the victory in the greater part of a world, and that the attempt to introduce it prematurely must lead to disaster. This explains the later alliance between Trotsky and the Right-wing opposition, diametrically opposed to it, in the party.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 133
…This idea of revolution in one country, versus Trotsky’s internationalism, advocating revolution of all working classes simultaneously, was the heart of the ideological struggle between Stalin and Trotsky.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 67
The idea that new impulses for revolution would come from the West but not from the Soviet Union was the leitmotif of Trotsky’s advocacy of the Fourth International. Again and again he asserted that, while in the Soviet Union Stalinism continued to play a dual role, at once progressive and retrograde, it exercised internationally only a counter-revolutionary influence. Here his grasp of reality failed him. Stalinism was to go on acting its dual role internationally as well as nationally: it was to stimulate as well as to obstruct the class struggle outside the Soviet Union. In any case, it was not from the West that the revolutionary impulses were to come in the next three or four decades. Thus the major premise on which Trotsky set out to create the Fourth International was unreal.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 212
LENIN AND TROTSKY CLASH OVER THE IDEA OF SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY
The Opposition naturally applied itself first of all to the most important problem of the Russian Revolution: the possibility of building up a Socialist System in a single country.
Lenin had taken up his position with regard to this problem even before the Revolution. At that time he wrote: “The development of Capitalism differs entirely in each country. From which we arrive at the incontestable conclusion that Socialism cannot conquer in every country simultaneously. It will start by conquering one or more countries…and this will not only arouse irritation, but also a direct tendency on the part of the middle classes of other countries to crush the victorious proletariat of the socialist State.”
The victory of the October Revolution brought the victors face-to-face with two tasks: the socialization of the world and the solid construction of Socialism in one place. Which was the one by which to begin or, rather, from what side should this dual task be approached.
Lenin considered that the more important task was clearly that of building up a socialist society where it was possible to build it up, namely, in Russia.
Trotsky was afraid that this would lead the Revolution to a dead end. This advance over a single sector on the whole capitalist front seemed to him to be doomed to failure. He was afraid and the Menshevik in him was resurrected, or, rather, aroused. Under those conditions, he said, the Russian Revolution must be considered as a provisional one only.
It will be recalled that during the Sixth Congress of the Party, in the middle of 1917, Preobrazhensky had attempted to have it laid down that the socialization of Russia should be dependent upon the establishment of Socialism in every other country. And it is because Stalin had risen vigorously against this that no vote was taken upon the amendment, inspired by Trotsky, making the possibility of founding a Socialist society in disaffected tsarist Russia depend upon the success, in the first instance, of the World Revolution.
Karl Radek, whose opinion in the circumstances is all the more interesting because he allied himself–for a time– to Trotsky’s outlook, says in this connection: “Trotsky returned to the point of view of the Second International, which he had himself formulated at the Second Congress of the Russian Party, before the split–namely that the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ should mean the power of an organized proletariat representing the majority of the nation.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 169-170
Trotsky’s point of view did not then coincide with the opinion of Lenin, who in 1915 and 1916 argued that not only could a revolution be made and power taken in one separate capitalist country but that “socialist production could be organized” and proletarian power defended against encroachment by other countries.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 129
REGARDING SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY TROTSKY ALIGNS WITH THE SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS
So that, unless the proletarian Revolution could command half the votes plus one, there was nothing to be done. For Trotsky, not only the victory of the proletariat in a single country, but even its victory in this single country unsupported by an absolute majority, reduced itself to an “historic episode.” Trotsky, then, became clearly a partisan of this “civilized European Socialism” which the Second International opposed to Leninism. The Social-Democrats placed no confidence in the Revolution. The Social-Democratic leaders thought that socialist-revolution was only possible in a country of highly developed Capitalism, not in Russia, because of lack of a solid foundation of labor.
Trotsky’s general theory consisted in establishing the doctrine that the socialist economic system in process of construction is completely dependent upon the world capitalist system, from whence follows a gradual fatal capitalist degeneration of the Soviet economic system, in the midst of a capitalist world. Radek also said–at that time: “We have no power in the face of World Capitalism.” These, and others, were afraid. One can detect the breath of apprehension, the access of panic which gathered this Opposition group into its eddy.
Lenin never lost sight of the world organization of socialist policy. Lenin never lost sight of anything.
…Dependence on foreign capitalism you say? Comrade Trotsky has said in the course of his speech: “That in reality we find ourselves constantly under the control of world economics.” Is this right, asks Stalin? No. That is the dream of capitalist sharks, but it is not the truth. And Stalin goes on to show that the supposed control is not exercised from the financial point of view, either on the nationalized Soviet banks, or upon industry, or upon foreign commerce, which are also nationalized. Neither is this control exercised from the political point of view. So that it is not exercised in any of the practical meanings of the word “control.” All these people keep parading a bogey of control. On the other hand, “to broaden our relations with the capitalist world does not mean making ourselves dependent upon it.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 171-173
STALIN SAYS THE REVOLUTION CAN BEGIN IN LESS RATHER THAN MORE DEVELOPED NATIONS
Where will the revolution begin? Where, in what country, can the front of capital be pierced first?
Formerly, the reply used to be– where industry is more developed, where the proletariat forms the majority, where culture is more advanced, where there is more democracy.
The Leninist theory of the revolution says: No, not necessarily where industry is most developed, and so forth; it will be broken where the chain of imperialism is weakest, for the proletarian revolution is the result of the breaking of the chain of the imperialist world front at its weakest link. The country which begins the revolution, which makes a breach in the capitalist front, may prove to be less developed in a capitalist sense than others which are more developed but have remained, nevertheless, within the framework of capitalism.
To put it briefly, the chain of the imperialist front should break, as a rule, where the links are most fragile and, in any event, not necessarily where capitalism is most developed, or where there is a certain percentage of proletarians and a certain percentage of peasants, and so on….
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 283-284
STALIN DENOUNCED FOR RECRUITING
Stalin’s enemies angrily refer to this recruitment [Stalin’s bringing in 200,000 new Party members] as the “mobilization of the mob” into the “Party of yes-men.” In politics, when people in the mass do things of which we disapprove or support someone whom we dislike, they become automatically “the mob,” generally the “hysterical mob.” When the same mass of people do what we approve, we refer to the “voice of the awakened people “or” the dignified expression of democracy at its best.”
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 158
STALIN TRIED FOR YEARS TO WIN OVER TROTSKYISTS RATHER THAN ELIMINATE THEM
He [Stalin] is supposed to be ruthless, but for many years he has been striving to win over competent Trotskyists rather than destroy them, and it is in a way affecting to see how doggedly he is endeavoring to use them for his work.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 111
DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM AND THE POLITBURO
The Bolshevik Party is built up on what are called the principles of democratic centralism, whereby authority for direction is vested by the membership and the members voluntarily accept the discipline of their chosen leader to ensure unity in action…. All lower organs of the party carry out the decisions of the higher. The Political Bureau is therefore the most important body, carrying the authority of the Congress, and in short actually leads the Party.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 169
I knew that the Bolsheviks allowed themselves freedom of argument about measures and policies prior to their adoption; it was only when a decision had been reached and a majority vote cast that the rigid discipline of the party compelled the defeated minority to accept that decision without reserve or qualification.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 215
As a first step in this tremendous programme Lenin laid down certain rules which were to govern the internal affairs of the party, the system which he was later to describe as “Democratic Centralism.” In preliminary discussions on policy, complete freedom and expression was to be permitted, but when once a course of action had been decided by a majority every member of the organization must obey that decision without question.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 25
On new issues, and, in fact, in all matters not yet authoritatively decided on, there is, even for the Party member, complete freedom of thought and full liberty of discussion and controversy, private or public, which may continue, as in the series of Trotsky debates in 1925-1927, even for years. But once any issue is authoritatively decided by the Party, in the All-Union Party Congress or its Central Committee, all argument and all public criticism, as well as all opposition, must cease; and the Party decision must be loyally accepted and acted upon without obstruction or resistance, on pain of expulsion; and, if made necessary by action punishable by law, also of prosecution, deportation, or exile.
Webb, S. Soviet Communism: A New Civilization. London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1947, p. 268
STALIN SAYS IRON DISCIPLINE AND UNITY DOES NOT EXCLUDE CRITICISM
Stalin says, it is impossible to win and maintain the dictatorship of proletariat without a party made strong by its cohesion and discipline. But iron discipline cannot be thought out without unity of will and absolutely united action on the part of the members of the party. This does not mean that the possibility of a conflict of opinion within the party is excluded. Discipline, indeed, far from excluding criticism and conflict of opinion, presupposes their existence. But this most certainly does not imply that there should be “blind” discipline. Discipline does not exclude, but presupposes understanding, voluntary submission, for only a conscious discipline can be iron discipline.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 170
Stalin encouraged outspokenness in other ways. In May 1935, as a replacement for the old slogan “Technology Decides Everything,” he offered “Cadres Decide Everything.” In this context, cadres meant almost anyone, for, he continued, this policy “demands that our leaders display the most careful attitude toward our workers, toward the ‘small’ and the ‘big,’ no matter what area they work in.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 187
STALIN’S AIDES ARE NOT YES MEN
Someday it will dawn on the mass of non-Russian people that Stalin’s Lieutenant’s are not political children or yes men, but leaders who are in fundamental accord in principles, outlook, and aims and not a collection of men of dissimilar philosophies and interests.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 213
Stalin has been reproached, by Trotsky and others, with the desire to surround himself with mediocrities. I am certain he would say, “Better a dull man I can trust than a bright man I’m not sure of,”…
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 172
Yet with all the hard work and the sicknesses of impending old age, Stalin was a most considerate boss; according to Rybin, he never raised his voice…. According to the same source, Stalin did not want to be surrounded by yes-men. About those who told him, “Whatever you command will be done,” he said: “I do not need advisers of this kind.” According to Orlov, he liked people to insist on their point of view if they were convinced that they were right.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 150
Stalin did not like people who did not stand up for their convictions with truthful comments and arguments or people who always agreed: ‘As you say, I will do it.’ He always referred to such helpers, saying: ‘Such consultants I do not need or people do not need to consult.’ Having found this out, I often debated and disagreed with him. Stalin always said after the exchange: ‘Fine, I will think about this.’ He never liked it when people ran to him, or if he heard their hesitant steps, with cap in hand. You should always go to him boldly, any time. His office was never closed.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 37
Now Second Secretary after Stalin himself, Molotov admired Koba but did not worship him. He often disagreed with, and criticized, Stalin right up until the end.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 39
Voroshilov, Mikoyan and a Molotov frequently disagreed with Stalin….
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 48
STALIN’S ANALYSES ARE BETTER THEN HIS OPPONENTS
On the whole Stalin’s judgments, both at home and abroad, as to which evils were greater and which lesser were vindicated by the course of ends.
The various intra-party oppositionists, both left in right, were almost invariably wrong in their estimates of the changing situation within the USSR and in the outside world. They would not have won the support of a majority of the membership even under a regime permitting complete freedom of speech, press, propaganda, and political action. Many of them were guilty from the outset of gross infractions of party discipline. None of them, however, had any original desire to “restore capitalism” or cooperate with foreign enemies of the Soviet Union. But after 1930, when their failures and frustrations begot irresistible aggression’s against Stalin’s leadership, some of them resorted to sabotage, assassination, and conspiracy with foreign agents in the hope of disrupting the Soviet state and thereby creating an opportunity for their own return to power.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 197
The October Revolution saddled this small organization with a stupendous task, and it is remarkable that Lenin could find even a bare minimum of comrades capable of doing the job at all. That the regime survived owes much to people like Stalin, in whom previously untapped qualities were discovered, most especially an aptitude for exercising power. Stalin’s affinity for authority began with a zest for it. This sounds obvious enough, but there are serious grounds to doubt that many of the leading Bolsheviks, Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Bukharin among them, fully shared this quality. Certainly none of them displayed in the five years of Lenin’s rule the capacity for politics and administration that Stalin revealed in this time.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 48
STALIN IS INDISPENSABLE AND HE KNOWS IT
January 18, 1931 — because his legend has grown too great, too real, he has become flesh and bone of the living organism; the horse and writer are transformed into Centaur; he is indispensable and they cannot remove him without a risk they dare not take. That, today, is the last secret of Stalin’s power; should opposition grow strong and noisy, he can meet it in the final instance, as Lenin once met it in the days of Brest-Litovsk, by the threat to retire and leave them to their own devices. Which they cannot bring themselves to accept. And he knows it, as Lenin knew it, and they know it,….
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 166
STALIN’S SUPPORTERS TOOK THE OPPOSITION TOO LIGHTLY
All the hostile elements outside the party, all the old parties, thinking that their opportunity had come [with the Rightist defeat], now took up the struggle again from abroad; and in Russia, especially among the remote national minorities and among the intellectuals, secret groups were formed to work to bring down the regime. It was remarkable thing that in spite of this the Stalinist group did not consider that the defeated opposition in the party–with the exception, perhaps of the open Trotskyists–would attempt a conspiracy. Actually it was precisely in these years that the conspiracy started. There had already been opposition, discussion in the party, personal conflicts, and attempts to bring down one person or another. But Stalin and his supporters had no idea that the opposition now defeated would actually proceed to a new and real struggle and to a conspiracy, an attempt to bring down the regime.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 184
…[Stalin also said]… we Bolsheviks must always keep our powder dry.
Naturally, these survivals cannot but be a favorable ground for a revival of the ideology of the defeated anti-Leninist groups in the minds of individual members of our party. Add to this the not very high theoretical level of the majority of our party members, the inadequate ideological work of the party bodies, and the fact that our party functionaries are overburdened with purely practical work, which deprives them of the opportunity of augmenting their theoretical knowledge, and you will understand the origins of the confusion on a number of questions of Leninism that exists in the minds of individual party members, a confusion which not infrequently penetrates into our press and helps to revive the survivals of the ideology of the defeated anti-Leninist groups.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 131
STALIN LOSES VOTES AT TIMES
In 1932 events seem to be coming to a climax, with Stalin’s most loyal supporters at their wits’ ends. There was a dramatic meeting in the Politburo that must have taken place about the end of 1932. The actual date is not known, but there’s no question that at that meeting Stalin suffered a painful reverse. The most credible account of the meeting is as follows:
The situation at the moment was under discussion. A dramatic speech was made by Voroshilov, who was then Commander-in-Chief in the army…. Voroshilov is said to have given, in the utmost agitation, a report of a disastrous state of feeling in the Army; he is said to have thrown whole packets of soldiers letters on the table and demanded that something should at once be done. Stalin’s proposals– their nature is not known–were rejected,….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 188
In a letter of June 8, 1929, Voroshilov said to Ordzhonikidze, “…But in reality Bukharin begged everyone not to appoint him to the Commissariat of Education and proposed and then insisted on the job as administrator of science and technology. I supported him in that, as did several other people, and because we were a united majority we pushed it through (against Koba).”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 149
In a September 9th 1929 letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “Poliudov absolutely must be removed from the Commissariat of Transport. This is the same nut-case that kept confusing the Central Committee and Transport with new railroad constructions and has nothing communist about him (nothing left). Now he’s sitting at Transport as head of (new) construction. Come on, what kind of builder is he? He’s the reason construction of the new tracks between Siberia and European Russia hasn’t moved an inch forward. Get that anti-party man out of Transport. He’s been systematically violating the Central Committee’s resolutions and also systematically mocking the Politburo.”
[Footnote]: on December 30, 1929, the Orgburo relieved Poliudov of his work in the Commissariat of Transport and confirmed him as a member of the Soviet trade delegation in Berlin. On January 5, 1930, approximately a week later, the Politburo reversed this decision and kept Poliudov at Transport. On March 5, 1930, he was given editorial work in connection with the training of executives and in September, he was appointed director of the Belorussian-Baltic Railway.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 179
In a September 1930 letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “I propose Kaganovich from the Worker-Peasant Inspection as the candidate for head of civil aviation.”
[Footnote] On October 15, 1930, Goltsman was confirmed by the Politburo as head of the Civil Aviation Association.
[Stalin lost out. Some dictator–ED.]
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 208
…Until the spring of 1937 no Central Committee member had ever been arrested; until 1938 no Politburo member had fallen…. In one of the very few glimpses we have of actual discussions in the Politburo, Stalin in 1930 had been outvoted by a Politburo majority that took a more aggressive stance than he did on punishment of oppositionists. It may have been about this time, as Kaganovich later recalled, that younger members of the Central Committee asked Stalin why he was not tougher on the opposition.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 582
Within a few weeks after the 13th Congress Pravda published Stalin’s report…. Stalin’s report also contained an attack on Zinoviev, though without naming him:
“It is often said that we have the dictatorship of the party. I recall that in one of our resolutions, even, it seems, a resolution of the 12th Congress, such an expression was allowed to pass, through an oversight of course. Apparently some comrades think that we have a dictatorship of the party and not of the working class. But that is nonsense, comrades.”
Of course Stalin knew perfectly well that Zinoviev in his political report to the 12th Congress had put forward the concept of the dictatorship of the party and had sought to substantiate it. It was not at all through an oversight that the phrase was included in the unanimously adopted resolution of the Congress.
Zinoviev and Kamenev, reacting quite sharply to Stalin’s thrust, insisted that a conference of the core leadership of the party be convened. The result was a gathering of 25 Central Committee members, including all members of the Politburo. Stalin’s arguments against the “dictatorship of the party” were rejected by a majority vote, and an article by Zinoviev reaffirming the concept was approved for publication in the Aug. 23, 1924 issue of Pravda as a statement by the editors. At this point Stalin demonstratively offered to resign, but the offer was refused.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 144
(R. W. Davies)
In my own work on the early 1930s, it has become increasingly clear that members of the Politburo argued with “Koba” (Stalin), particularly on issues where they had a special competence. In economic affairs, there is strong evidence that opposition developed within the Politburo to the course of collectivization sanctioned by Stalin. At one meeting nearly all of the members may have opposed him.
Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 43
However, there is now abundant evidence that Stalin’s lieutenants represented and spoke for distinct policy alternatives. The policy positions are well documented in studies covering the years 1920-50. The studies frequently portray a Stalin who preferred not to decide important questions unless forced. His role seems to have been that of moderator or referee, choosing from among numerous policy possibilities, although R.W. Davies is right to emphasize the differences in this condition at different periods. Many things went on without him or despite his wishes and plans.
Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 119
But I was glad to learn later, when I read Serebrovsky’s [the Russian mining expert who hired Littlepage] book on the gold industry published in 1936, that Joseph Stalin also evaluated the importance of our prospectors correctly, and was probably undesirous of giving them up at this time. It will be recalled that Stalin said in 1927, according to this book, that prospectors must be retained in the gold industry and would be very useful.
Why, then, were they given up in 1929? I suspect that Stalin couldn’t insist upon his own way in the matter at that time. He was not nearly so strong a figure then as he is now , and was still battling with some of the Communist leaders about certain theories. It seemed logical to give up the prospectors if one also gave up the kulaks and similar groups. I judge from Serebrovsky’s book that Stalin surrendered a point to his Communist opponents in this case.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 69
…Yezhov was attacked by other Politburo members despite Stalin’s support of him and that Yezhov’s replacement, Beria, was forced upon Stalin (whose candidate was Malenkov),…
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 5
Yezhov’s primary crime, however, consisted in the fact that he had not informed Stalin of his actions.
In the fall of 1938, when the question arose of removing Yezhov from his position at NKVD, Stalin proposed the candidacy of Malenkov as the new Commissar of Internal Affairs. But the majority of the Politburo recommended Beria for the post.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 38
The Russian historian Boris Starkov has recently written that in Politburo meetings during August 1938 Zhdanov and Andreev stressed the poor quality of party cadres promoted during the mass repressions. Soon Kaganovich and Mikoyan joined them “against Yezhov.” Then in the fall, according to Starkov, Stalin proposed replacing Yezhov with Malenkov. But the rest of the Politburo blocked the Gensec and insisted on Beria, though why is not clear.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 131
Stalin treated the ‘Ryutin Platform’ as the worst embodiment of everything hostile to his rule. Over the rest of the decade it was represented again and again as the great focus of opposition plotting and villainy. When Ryutin was rearrested Stalin made a strong personal effort to have him sentenced to death.
This was a crucial moment, the first serious dispute between Stalin and his closest personal clique on the one hand, and those members of the Politburo who had supported him out of conviction but were not ready to agree to intra-party killings. In Ryutin’s case (and in several other lesser instances including that of Stalin’s own personal secretary of Nazaretyan), Kirov, with Ordjonikidze, Kuibyshev, Kossior, Rudzutak and, apparently, Kalinin, formed a solid majority against execution. Ryutin was sentenced only to 10 years imprisonment. Another case, a few months later, involved the Old Bolshevik Smirnov and others who had never been associated with any opposition. Stalin commented: ‘Of course, only enemies could say that to remove Stalin would not affect matters.’ This time, again, his attempt to shoot the offenders was blocked by a Politburo majority.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 162
It [a Soviet article of the Khrushchev.] represents Stalin attempting at this time to purge the Armenian Communist Nazaretyan, but being unable to do so because Ordjonikidze defended him and Stalin knew that ” Kirov & Kuibyshev would also speak out in the Politburo on the same lines.” For the first time, in fact, Stalin was faced with powerful opposition from his own allies.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 25
[In 1931] Koba suggested to the Instantsia that Voroshilov should be given a three months’ leave to rest and “cure his nerves”…. The Instantsia rejected Koba’s suggestion with a majority of one. Kalinin voted with Voroshilov against the proposed leave…. It’s said that Koba was much upset by the vote… but if so he didn’t show it. His self-control is amazing. This, I think, is his strength and the secret of his victories….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 158
Because there were often police agents among the oppositionists, the Ryutin initiative soon became known to Stalin. The case went first to the party control commission, which referred the case to the Politburo, where Stalin demanded Ryutin’s head. But he was overruled by the majority.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 5. 74
It must be noted that the strength of the ‘call to personality’ by no means indicated that no major differences of opinion existed at the center of Soviet society, or that Stalin had absolute personal power.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 255
One of the readers of the Riutin Appeal was Stalin. It aroused him to such fury that the expulsions and Riutin’s arrest could not appease him. He confronted the Politburo with the demand that it sanction Riutin’s execution as a terrorist. Amid silence around the Politburo table, Kirov spoke up saying: “Can’t do that. Riutin is not a lost man but an errant one. Devil only knows who had a hand in this letter. People won’t understand us.” Stalin, perhaps sensing the majority’s opposition to his demand, let the matter rest, and Riutin got off with a 10-year term–for the present.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 212
However, Stalin realized that the Politburo could easily unite to dismiss him. Rykov, the Rightist Premiere, did not believe in his plans, and now, Kalinin too was wavering. Stalin knew he could be outvoted, even overthrown. The new archives reveal how openly Kalinin argued with Stalin.
[Footnote]: They frequently disagreed with him, certainly on small matters such as a discussion about the Kremlin military school…. Having defeated Bukharin in 1929, Stalin wanted to appoint him Education Commissar but as Voroshilov told Sergo in a letter, “Because we were a united majority, we pushed it through (against Koba).”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 55
He [Zinoviev] exaggerated the power of the General Secretary. A simple vote in the Politburo, chaired by Kamenev, could still restrain Stalin;
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 215
There were, it was said, grave dissensions within the Politburo when the penalties to be applied were discussed. Stalin had insisted on the execution of the principal prisoner, Ryutin; the majority of the Politburo were opposed to it, probably considering the charges insufficiently proved, and hesitating to open yet another chapter of bloody repression in the inside history of the Communist Party.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 293
STALIN BEST REPRESENTED THE PARTY LOWER LEVEL LEADERS
Thus the original Bolshevik leaders not only came from the upper social classes, but included people who have long lived abroad….
Stalin was one of the few real men of the people who had succeeded in making their way into the party leadership before the revolution. It was thus no mere coincidence that he was dominated by the same instinct and so became the leader of the tacitly rebellious mass of the subordinate leaders and the representative in the party of their aspirations and aims. It was not surprising, therefore, that although at the beginning of his conflicts with his opponents Stalin was not yet in possession of power, he ended nevertheless with the majority on his side at all the party conferences and congresses.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 202
STEN’S ARTICLE CONTINUES TRADITION OF UNDERMINING PARTY DISCIPLINE
On July 29, 1929, Stalin wrote the following in a letter to Molotov, “I strongly protest publishing Sten’s article in Komsomolskaia Pravda which is similar to Shatskin’s article, several days after the Politburo’s condemnation of Shatskin’s article. This is either stupidity on the part of the editors of Komsomolskaia Pravda or a direct challenge to the Central Committee of the party. To call the subordination of Komsomols (and that means party members is well) to the general party line “careerism,’ as Sten does, means to call for a review of the general party line, for the undermining of the iron discipline of the party, for the turning of the party into a discussion club. That is precisely how any opposition group has begun its anti-party work. Trotsky began his ‘work’ with this. Zinoviev got his start that way. Bukharin has chosen the same path for himself. The Shatskin-Averbakh-Sten-Lominadze group is embarking on his path, demanding (essentially) the freedom to review the general party line, the freedom to weaken party discipline, the freedom to turn the party into a discussion club.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 162
STALIN ADMITS HIS MISTAKES AND SOMETIMES RETREATS
In a September 1, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “From NKVD reports published in the press, it’s obvious that my approach on the Chinese question was unfair. It turns out that I didn’t read the fine print in the coded report. Well, what of it, I am glad I was mistaken and ready to apologize for the undeserved reproach. That, of course, doesn’t mean that Litvinov, Bukharin, and Karakhan have ceased to be opportunists. Not a whit!”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 176
To make so prodigious a change in such a country in so short a time required iron will, unflinching courage, and ruthlessness. Stalin possessed all three of these qualities, but he had learned from Lenin the rarer courage of daring to retreat, and the willingness to admit that he might not always be right. The world has grown accustomed to regard dictators as masters of tide and thunder, who can say, “Do this,” or “Make that,” and their orders must be obeyed. This was never the case in Soviet Russia, where even Lenin was only “first amongst equals,” and despite his moral ascendancy was more than once forced to tell his followers, “All right, this is how I see it, and this is what we must do. If any of you can prove that I am wrong or show me good reason why we shouldn’t do it, I am willing to listen. In the meantime I’m tired, so let me sleep.”
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 163
Just as it seemed that the question of a customs union, that is, the Bulgarian-Rumanian agreement, had been settled, old Kolarov, as though recalling something important, began to expound. “I cannot see where Comrade Dimitrov erred, for we previously sent a draft of the treaty with Rumania to the Soviet government and the Soviet government made no comment regarding the customs union except with regard to the definition of the aggressor.”
Stalin turned to Molotov: “Had they sent as a draft of the treaty?”
Molotov, without being confused, but also not without acrimony: “Well, yes.”
Stalin, with angry resignation: “We, too, commit stupidities.”
Djilas, Milovan. Conversations with Stalin. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962, p. 178
Someone mentioned the recent successes of the Chinese communists. But Stalin remained adamant: “Yes, the Chinese comrades have succeeded, but in Greece there is an entirely different situation. The United States is directly engaged there–the strongest state in the world. China is a different case; relations in the Far East are different. True, we, too, can make a mistake! Here, when the war with Japan ended, we invited the Chinese comrades to reach an agreement as to how a modus vivendi with Chang Kai-shek might be found. They agreed with us in word, but in deed they did it their own way when they got home: they mustered their forces and struck. It has been shown that they were right, and not we.
Djilas, Milovan. Conversations with Stalin. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962, p. 182
STALIN: “True, we (Stalin and his associates), too, can make a mistake! Here when the war with Japan ended, we invited the Chinese comrades to reach an agreement as to how a modus vivendi with Chiang Kai-shek might be found. They agreed with us in word, but in deed they did it their own way when they got home: they mustered their forces and struck. It has been shown that they were right, and not we.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 97
He [Stalin] always admitted his mistakes, no matter to whom.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 107
[In a speech delivered on August 5, 1927 at a joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the CPSU Stalin stated] I have never regarded myself as being infallible, nor do I do so now. I have never concealed either my mistakes or my momentary vacillations. But one must not ignore also that I have never persisted in my mistakes, and that I have never drawn up a platform, or formed a separate group, and so forth, on the basis of my momentary vacillations.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 64
STALIN SAYS HE IS NOT TOLERANT OF MEMBERS WHO HAVE DONE GRIEVOUS ERRORS
In a letter of September 6, 1929, Stalin stated, “You know that I’m not a supporter of the policy of “tolerance’ regarding comrades who have committed grievous errors from the perspective of the party’s interests.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 177
STALIN ATTACKS HIS OWN FOREIGN MINISTER
In an October 7, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “Things didn’t turn out so badly with England. Henderson was shown up. Rykov, along with Bukharin and Litvinov, was also shown up….”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 182
Litvinov was kept on as ambassador to be United States only because he was known worldwide. He turned out to be very rotten.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 67
THE PRESS IS TOO ALARMIST AND IGNORES THE REASONS FOR PROBLEMS
In a September 13, 1930, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “For God’s sake, stop the presses squawking about “breakdowns right and left,’ “endless failures,’ “disruptions,’ and other such nonsense. This hysterical Trotskyist–right-deviationist tone is not justified by the facts and is unbecoming to Bolsheviks. Economic Life, and, to a certain extent, Izvestia are all being particularly shrill. They screech about the “falling’ in [production] rates or the migration of workers but they don’t explain what’s behind it. Indeed, where did this “sudden” flow of workers to the countryside come from, this “disastrous’ turnover? What can account for it? Perhaps a poor food supply? But were people supplied any better last year compared to this year? Why wasn’t such a turnover, such a flight, observed last year? Isn’t it clear that the workers went to the countryside for the harvest? They want to ensure that the collective farm won’t short them when they distribute the harvest; they want to work for a few months in the collective farm in full view of everyone and thus guarantee their right to a full collective farm share. Why don’t the newspapers write about that, instead of just squeaking in panic?”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 215
Following the Shakhti trial and the detection of some scandals in local Party organizations, the Communist Party Central Committee in 1928 issued an appeal urging the Party and trade union members to subject to merciless criticism abuses in the state administration and management of industry. The result of this was a veritable flood of letters and articles in the press, revealing real or alleged abuses. For a vivid first-hand picture of the defects of the Soviet civil service and the socialist management of industry one has only to turn to the columns of the Soviet press. In some cases, with the Russian tendency toward exaggeration, the criticism was really overdone, and one had the curious spectacle of a press, published under the strictest control of a ruling party, representing some conditions as worse than they actually were.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 399
STALIN HAD FAR MORE SUPPORT THAN TROTSKY
That Stalin had the Party membership solidly behind him in this controversy with Trotsky and his group is shown by a 1927 Party referendum in which the Trotskyist program was defeated by 725,000 votes to 6,000. In view of Trotsky’s contentions, the vote is surprising in showing how tiny the “opposition” forces were in reality. They were but a small–although vehement–faction, disowned by the mass of the Party and fighting for a platform that was obviously impractical and objectively reactionary. To represent the struggle, in 1927 or before, as one between a sinister, maneuvering Stalin and a brilliant, idealistic Trotsky with roughly equal influence within the Party not only smacks more of melodrama than political reality but is a complete misrepresentation. Stalin had the Party membership solidly behind him, and he had it not through maneuvering but because his socialist-construction policies had gained him wide working-class and Party support. In essence, he won because he was right.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 48
By means of machinations, trickery, corruption, or else by secret service and crime, or by introducing spies into lobbies and armed forces into council chambers, or by killing one’s enemies in bed at night (two a time), one might become, and remain, king or emperor, or duce, or chancellor–one might even become Pope. But one could never become Secretary of the Communist Party by any such methods.
A man like Stalin has naturally been violently attacked and has defended himself with equal violence (indeed he has more often than not taken the offensive). Certainly, but all these noisy, re-echoing discussions took place in the full light of day, in the full sight of everyone, every argument advanced in them being exhaustively examined in the most open manner like a great public trial before a jury of the whole nation as compared with palace intrigue.
Actually, in the socialist Organization, each man takes his place naturally according to his own value and strength. He is automatically selected for his position by force of circumstances. His degree of power depends upon how much he understands and upon how far he can carry out the incontestable principles of Marxism. “It was simply,” says Knorin, “by his superiority as a theorist and his superiority as a practical man that Stalin became our leader.” He is leader for the same reason that he is successful: because he is right.
…I once said to Stalin: “Do you know that in France you are looked upon as a tyrant who acts merely according to his fancy, and is a bloody tyrant into the bargain?” He leaned back in his chair and burst out into his hearty working-man’s laugh.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 148-149
Through these acts and his writings, the opposition was thoroughly discredited and, during a vote, received only 6000 votes as against 725,000.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 128 [p. 116 on the NET]
In the party, as constituted at the time of Lenin’s death, Stalin had overwhelming political support for his style and his aims. There is no reason to dispute his subjective honesty when he proclaimed his undying loyalty to Lenin.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 255
STALIN WAS OFTEN MORE LENIENT THAN LENIN, ZINOVIEV, SECRET POLICE HEADS & OTHERS
In the Civil War he had borne heavy responsibilities and had faced dangers in the way that had brought him credit throughout the party. He had dispensed summary justice when necessary and had shown that he could be ruthless, but he had not shown the brutality for which Voroshilov, Budenny, and others were notorious. In his speeches he was moderate and reasonable. He handled criticisms with apparent good humor, and even when attacking the Opposition he was less savage than Lenin or Zinoviev. In Politburo meetings he sought to be agreeable.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 194
New evidence casts doubts on rumors and myths that have become prevalent. Thus the new documents provide no evidence for the existence of a bloc of Stalinist moderates who tried to restrain Stalin’s alleged careful plan for terror.
[Footnote]: This hypothetical bloc, variously said to consist of Ordjonikidze, Postyshev, and others was used to explain the zigs and zags of Stalin’s policy: supposedly he faced resistance from this group and frequently had to back down. But documents suggest that, for example, no one defended Bukharin and Rykov at the February 1937 plenum.
Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 141
But the sequence of events presented in the written evidence is also consistent with a second scenario… in which Yezhov pursued initiatives, prepared dossiers, and pushed certain investigations in order to promote his own agenda. Although that agenda was often the same as Stalin’s, it may not have been identical. We know, for example, that although Stalin agreed to review a manuscript Yezhov was writing on how Opposition inevitably becomes terrorism, he never allowed publication…. Events seemed to show that in the cases of Pyatakov and Bukharin, Yezhov and others were possibly ahead of Stalin in pushing the need for severity.
[Footnote: Starkov writes in this volume that at the time of his fall, “Yezhov’s primary crime, however, consisted in the fact that he had not informed Stalin of his actions.” Stalin’s relationship to Yezhov’s predecessor Yagoda was equally complex. In March 1936, Yagoda proposed to Stalin that all Trotskyist everywhere–even those convicted already–should be re-sentenced to five additional years out of hand and that any of them involved in “terror” should quickly be shot. Stalin referred Yagoda’s plan to Vyshinsky for a legal opinion, which came back positive in six days. Although Yagoda was ready to move immediately, it was nearly two months before Stalin issued an order to this effect.]
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 59
To be fair, on November 28, 1917 at a meeting of the Council of People’s Commissars (Sovnarkom), he [Stalin] did stand alone against the rest, including Lenin, when he voted against handing over leading liberals to revolutionary tribunals as enemies of the people.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 30
…Some years later, in the 1930s and in the company of his cronies, hearing of Trotsky’s most recent speech abroad, he [Stalin] snapped: ‘We made two mistakes on that occasion. We should have left him for a time in Alma-Ata, but on no account should we have let him out of the country. And the other one was, how could we have let him take so many documents with him?’
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 143
I had a surprise telephone call from Yagoda. He demanded the immediate closure of the Narkomindel’s hairdressing saloon and gave us 24 hours in which to do it. He said that he had proof that most important state secrets were being discussed there. He hinted that the staff of the saloon, especially women, were under suspicion and warned that unless we closed the shop within 24 hours they would all be arrested and transported to Siberia, or given “minus six.”
I summoned the assistant manager of the hairdressing saloon…. The entire staff were indignant about the closure….
Yagoda came on the phone again. He informed me that the decision to close the hairdressing saloon had been rescinded. I had a short talk with him. He was obviously embarrassed… one would think that the closure was an important affair of state….
Mossina came to see me. It transpired that Koba had personally ordered Yagoda to leave our hairdressers alone.
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 46-47
A telephone call from Koba. He asked me whether I had received Mekhlis’s letter. He said: “You will greatly oblige me personally if you get him a visa. You understand that otherwise he will come to a bad end …. I do not want our revolution to devour its own children….”
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 83
Kamenev was the only one who saw Stalin. He stayed with him for more than an hour…. Stalin later told Mekhlis that Kamenev the only one deserving mercy….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 239
At a meeting of the Sovnarkom on 28 November 1917, for instance, he [Lenin] proposed a decree on “the arrest of the most prominent members of the central committee of the party of the enemies of the people [i.e. the Constitutional Democrats], and their trial by Revolutionary tribunal.” The only member of the government to oppose this measure was Stalin,…
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 166
[Footnote]: In a letter to Lyova (19 November 1937) Trotsky relates that, when the issue came before the Politburo, he was for attacking Kronstadt while Stalin was against it, saying that the rebels, if left to themselves, would surrender within two or three weeks. Curiously, in his public polemics against Stalin (and in his biography of Stalin) Trotsky never mentioned this fact, although he usually made the most of any instance of Stalin’s political “softness” or deviation from Lenin’s line. Is it that Trotsky somehow felt that in this case “softness” might redound to Stalin’s credit?
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 437
The Central Committee met to discuss Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s misdemeanor, and Trotsky demanded their expulsion from the Central Committee. Koba’s proposal was quite different: these two comrades should be required to submit to the will of the Central Committee, but should be kept in it. Trotsky’s proposal prevailed, whereupon Koba announced his own resignation from Worker’s Path.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 114
The MGB thought Karpai’s further value to the investigation was nil and recommended she be shot. Stalin thought otherwise.
Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 161
STALIN WAS VERY PATIENT, LENIENT, AND TOLERANT OF THE OPPOSITION
The [1927 British] war scare died away, but the ferment continued in the party. Stalin’s patience with the opposition leaders was exhausted. He had always stood against their expulsion, at the 14th Congress in December 1925 he had explained why he had opposed the demand of Zinoviev and Kamenev for the expulsion of Trotsky. Now his view was different. The party would be at risk as long as the oppositionists were active within its ranks. Lenin would never have tolerated them. He had been determined in 1917 and later to smash the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and he had insisted in 1921 on the prohibition of factions within the Bolshevik party. Stalin himself had always shared his view that the party must be completely united. He had hoped that some genuine settlement might be reached. This hope was no longer tenable. The party and regime were facing immense problems and fighting to survive. The opposition exercised a debilitating influence, which was not permissible at this crucial time.
At the Plenum of the Central Committee at the end of July 1927 he moved a resolution for the expulsion of Trotsky and Zinoviev from the committee. He could be sure of a majority in the committee, whereas in the Politburo the right-wing members–Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky, and Kalinin –were said to oppose such drastic action. The central committee approved the resolution, but then it was rescinded. Ordjonikidze, who was now chairman of the Central Control Commission, had mediated with the opposition, who once again had made a declaration of unconditional surrender. Stalin then agreed to the withdrawal of the resolution. It was clear, however, that time was running out for the opposition leaders.
In September 1927, as preparations were getting underway for the Fifteenth Party Congress, the opposition drew up the third statement of their aims and policies. Their chief purpose was to change the party leadership, eliminating the right-wing and Stalin in particular although the statement did not specify names….
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 218
It is further significant that many people who had been close to Lenin were not arrested, though they were out of Stalin’s favor and had been close friends with those already condemned as enemies. These individuals were merely demoted. Stalin did not arrest Podvoisky, Kon, Petrovsky, Stasova, Tskhakaya, Makharadze, or many other once prominent leaders whose names were mentioned in slanderous denunciations and confessions.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 545
… In the fabricated depositions of arrested artists, writers, and film workers there were allegations against hundreds who were not arrested. For example, Boris Pasternak and Yuri Olesha were named as accomplices of Babel and Meyerhold in the so-called diversionary organization of literary people. But Stalin did not order the arrest of Pasternak and 0lesha. Another remarkable writer who was spared arrest was Mikhail Bulgakov, although many denunciations of his “anti-Soviet attitudes” reached the NKVD. Stalin angrily walked out of a performance of Shostakovich’s Lady Mcbeth of the Mtsensk District, and the talented young composer found himself out of favor for a long time. His friendship with Meyerhold and connections with Tukhachevsky were also well known. Every night Shostakovich waited to be arrested; he had a “prison suitcase” packed and ready and could hardly ever sleep. But Stalin did not authorize his arrest, or that of Zoshchenko or Akhmatova. Just as inexplicably Boris Pasternak and Andrei Platonov were allowed to remain free. Nor did Stalin permit the arrest of many leading film directors, although the NKVD prepared more than one case against them.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 546
I have already mentioned the arrest of Kalinin’s wife in 1937 and of Molotov’s after the war. Similarly arrested were two of Mikoyan’s sons, Ordjonikidze’s brother, the wife of Poskrebyshev, Khrushchev’s daughter-in-law, and others….
Kalinin ‘s wife, for example, was released in a few weeks…. The case of Poskrebyshev, Stalin’s personal secretary, is instructive. His wife was the sister of Sedov’s wife, and Sedov was Trotsky’s son . But that did not prevent Poskrebyshev from being one of the people closest to Stalin. Stalin did finally order the arrest of Poskrebyshev’s wife but kept him as his secretary.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 547
It was very hard to guess how Stalin would decide the fate of certain people who had been close to him. Consider, for example, Stalin’s strange behavior toward his old Comrade Kavtaradze, who had done Stalin many favors during the underground years. Kavtaradze had risked his own safety on one occasion to help Stalin hide from detectives in St. Petersburg. In the ’20s Kavtaradze joined the Trotskyist Opposition and left it only when the Opposition leadership called on its supporters to stop oppositional activity. After Kirov’s murder Kavtaradze, exiled to Kazan as an ex-Trotskyist, wrote a letter to Stalin saying that he was not working against the party. Stalin immediately brought Kavtaradze back from exile. Soon many central newspapers carried an article by Kavtaradze recounting an incident of his underground work with Stalin. Stalin liked the article, but Kavtaradze did not write any more on this subject. He did not even rejoin the party and lived by doing very modest editorial work. At the end of 1936 he and his wife were suddenly arrested and after torture were sentenced to be shot. He was accused of planning with Mdivani, to murder Stalin. Soon after sentencing, Mdivani we shot. Kavtaradze, however, was kept in the death cell for a long time. Then he was suddenly taken to Beria’a office, where he met his wife, who had aged beyond recognition. Both were released. First he lived in a hotel; then he got two rooms in a communal apartment and started doing editorial work again. Stalin began to show him various signs of favor, inviting him to dinner and once even paying him a surprise visit along with Beria. (This visit caused great excitement in the communal apartment. One of Kavtaradze’s neighbor’s fainted when, in her words, “the portrait of Comrade Stalin” appeared on the threshold.) When he had Kavtaradze to dinner, Stalin himself would pour the soup, tell jokes, and reminisce. But during one of these dinners Stalin suddenly went up to his guest and said, “And still you wanted to kill me.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 548
Critics of the trials repeatedly make the mistake of not applying the historical method to their consideration of them. Thus, to call Radek, Pyatakov, Smirnov, Kamenev, and Zinoviev Old Bolsheviks is as essentially true as to call Mr. J. H. Thomas, Mussolini, and Sir Oswald Mosley Old Socialists. Marx himself would have been the first to recognize that the truth of such descriptions is relative to time.
Little is known generally in this country of the “Opposition” which functioned in the USSR from the days of Stalin’s triumph with his General Line to the period of the Moscow Trials, but an understanding of it is essential to an understanding of the trials. The defeat and exile of Trotsky did not mean the immediate defeat of his policy. Millions of his former supporters, it is true, accepted the Communist Party decisions and transferred their support to Stalin’s policy of obtaining Socialism in one country. On the other hand, a strong body of theorists maintained their ideological opposition to Stalin. Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Radek transferred their allegiance to Stalin, but the former two were numbered among the recalcitrants. They were on several occasions expelled from the Communist Party and several times, after making public penance, were reinstated to high posts. There was, in fact, a strong movement among the Stalinists, led by Kirov in the Politburo and Gorky outside it, for reconciliation with the Opposition. There were Opposition groups in Leningrad and Moscow which were tolerated. Professorial posts were held by theorists who admittedly were opposed to the Stalin Line. But faith to Lenin’s injunction to his comrades against mutual extermination, drastic measures were not used against such “Counter-Revolutionaries.” In the case of Ryutin, for example, who circulated a memorandum imputing slanderous motives to the Stalin General Line, the penalty was administrative exile.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 212
Stalin’s private secretary Kanner has described this period:
“The leaders of the Opposition made a promise to submit to the decisions of the 15th Party Congress, and to observe the discipline of the statutes of the Party.
‘I don’t believe them,’ said Stalin, ‘but we must make the experiment of readmitting them to the Party. I feel that I am under a personal obligation to do so, and that I am loyal and impartial, even towards my personal enemies.’
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 64
The Tenth Anniversary of the Bolshevist government was approaching. Stalin displayed extraordinary restraint and prudence.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 283
Comrade Lenin saw all things in a different light. You know that in 1921 Lenin proposed that Shlyapnikov be expelled from the Central Committee and from the Party not for organizing an anti-Party printing press, and not for allying himself with bourgeois intellectuals, but merely because, at a meeting of a Party unit, Shlyapnikov dared to criticize the decisions of the Supreme Council of National Economy. If you compare this attitude of Lenin’s with what the party is now doing to the opposition, you will realize what license we have allowed the disorganizers and splitters….
You surely must know that in 1917 just before the October uprising, Lenin several times proposed that Kamenev and Zinoviev be expelled from the Party merely because they had criticized unpublished Party decisions in the semi-socialist, in the semi-bourgeois newspaper Novaya Zhizn. But how many secret decisions of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission are now being published by our opposition in the columns of Maslow’s newspaper in Berlin, which is a bourgeois, anti-Soviet, counter-revolutionary newspaper! Yet we tolerate all this, tolerate it without end, and thereby give the splitters in the opposition the opportunity to wreck our Party. Such is the disgrace to which the opposition has brought us! But we cannot tolerate it forever, comrades.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 195-196
It is said that such things are unprecedented in the history of our Party. That is not true. What about the Myasnikov group? What about the “Workers’ Truth” group? Who does not know that the members of those groups were arrested with the full consent of Zinoviev, Trotsky, and Kamenev? Why was it permissible three or four years ago to arrest disorganizers who had been expelled from the Party, but is impermissible now, when some of the former members of the Trotskyist opposition go to the length of directly linking up with counter-revolutionaries?
You heard Comrade Menzhinsky’s statement. In that statement it is said that a certain Stepanov (an army-man), a member of the Party, a supporter of the opposition, is in direct contact with counter-revolutionaries, with Novikov, Kostrov, and others, which Stepanov himself does not deny in his depositions. What do you want us to do with this fellow, who is in the opposition to this day? Kiss him, or arrest him? Is it surprising that the OGPU arrests such fellows?
Lenin said that the Party can be completely wrecked if indulgence is shown to disorganizers and splitters. That is quite true. That is precisely why I think that it is high time to stop showing indulgence to the leaders of the opposition and to come to the conclusion that Trotsky and Zinoviev must be expelled from the Central Committee of our Party. That is the elementary conclusion in the elementary, minimum measure that must be taken in order to protect the Party from the disorganizers’ splitting activities.
At the last plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission, held in August this year, some members of the plenum rebuked me for being too mild with Trotsky and Zinoviev, for advising the plenum against the immediate expulsion of Trotsky and Zinoviev from the Central Committee. Perhaps I was too kind then and made a mistake in proposing that the milder line be adopted toward Trotsky and Zinoviev. But now comrades, after what we have gone through during these three months, after the opposition has broken the promise to dissolve its faction that it made in its special “declaration” of August 8, thereby deceiving the Party once again, after all this, there can be no more room at all for mildness. We must now step into the front rank with those comrades who are demanding that Trotsky and Zinoviev be expelled from the Central Committee.
In expelling Trotsky and Zinoviev from the Central Committee we must submit for the consideration of the 15th Congress all the documents which have accumulated concerning the opposition’s splitting activities, and on the basis of those documents the congress will be able to adopt an appropriate decision.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 196-197
[In a speech delivered regarding the party and the opposition at the 16th Moscow Gubernia Party Conference on November 23, 1927 Stalin stated] The entire history of our disagreements during the past two years is a history of the efforts of the Central Committee of our Party to restrain the opposition from taking steps toward a split and to keep the opposition people within the Party.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 267
[In a November 19, 1928 speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU Stalin stated] Already in 1924 our Party and the Fifth Congress of the Comintern passed a resolution on Trotskyism defining it as a petty-bourgeois deviation. Nevertheless, Trotsky continued to be a member of our Central Committee and Political Bureau. Is that a fact, or not? It is a fact. Consequently, we “tolerated” Trotsky and the Trotskyists on the Central Committee. Why did we allow them to remain in leading Party bodies? Because at that time the Trotskyists, despite their disagreements with the Party, obeyed the decisions of the Central Committee and remained loyal. When did we begin to apply organizational penalties at all extensively? Only after the Trotskyists had organized themselves into a faction, set up their factional centre, turned their faction into a new party and began to summon people to anti-Soviet demonstrations.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 298
Trotsky was sent away. Bukharin could also have been.
Those were difficult and complicated times. This only shows Stalin’s patience, that he carried along with Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev up til 1927. Kamenev in those days had organised a parallel rally: ‘Down with the Government, Down with Stalin!’ Then he was dropped from the Politbureau, he was a member of the P.B. until 1927. How forbearing Stalin was! There were times when Kirov and Kamenev wanted to drop Trotsky from the Politbureau and Stalin was defending him.
THUS SPAKE KAGANOVICH by Feliks Chuyev, 1992
STALIN DENOUNCED OPPOSITIONISTS BUT THEY REMAINED IN HIGH POSITIONS
In this dispute [over collectivization], which Stalin won, he denounced Bukharin and Rykov as leaders of a “right deviation.” But even after their political defeat Bukharin and Rykov continued to hold responsible positions and were still members of the party’s Central Committee.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 14
Nevertheless, until the fall of1936 most of the former oppositionists remained free and even held responsible positions in the commissariats, in publishing, and in educational institutions. Bukharin, for example, was editor of Izvestia and was allowed to travel abroad to negotiate purchases from the archives of the German Social Democratic Party for the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute. Pyatakov was exerting himself intensely as first deputy people’s commissar for heavy industry, and articles by Radek appeared almost daily in the central papers and magazines.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 349
But it is perfectly consistent with the fact that there was a widespread plot, the full extent of which was only gradually discovered. The people concerned were old revolutionaries who knew how to build an illegal organization and to conceal its workings from the authorities. They were people who had been in conflict with the Party but had publicly made their peace with it and were given responsible work. Pyatakov became vice-commissar for Heavy Industry; Zinoviev commenced to write articles for the leading Party organ, the Bolshevik (which incidentally bore the stigmata of his previously incorrect political attitude); Bukharin became active on scientific and cultural questions. The Party took their adherence to the Party line at its face value, welcomed them back to the ranks and gave them important and congenial work to do. And therefore when the shooting of Kirov took place and the Party called for increased vigilance it was still far from appreciating the depths of treachery to which the opposition had sunk. It was only prolonged and careful investigation which led step-by-step to an unmasking of the main lines of the conspiracy.
The same applies to Bukharin and Rykov. They were mentioned by defendants in the first trial but denied complicity, and their denial was for the time being believed.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 246
Trotsky was sent into exile. At that time , it was unthinkable that anyone should be killed. Several of Stalin’s opponents were given good jobs and were close to the government.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 257
Given Bukharin’s continuing access to higher circles through his work on the constitutional commission, his post as Izvestia editor, his Central Committee status, Kremlin apartment and many friends, he may have got wind of the coming trial period
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 361
[In the Introduction Stephen Cohen states]: As readers will learn, he [Bukharin] continued to play significant political roles, especially during a short-lived thaw in Stalin’s policies from 1934 to mid-1936, as editor of the government newspaper Izvestiya, author of sections of a new Soviet constitution, and advocate of pro-Western alliances against the growing threat of Nazi Germany.
Larina, Anna. This I Cannot Forget. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993, p. 16
STALIN OFTEN STAYED ALOOF AND LET SUBORDINANTS MAKE KEY DECISIONS
Even in the crucial realm of 1930s foreign policy, recent evidence suggests that Stalin “took only a sporadic interest,” allowed it to drift, and entrusted it to subordinates: “… on the whole, Stalin abstained from direct intervention and contented himself with merely reviewing and approving…. Even the process of review was occasionally delegated to others. The same author speaks of the “ramshackled nature of foreign policy decision-making under Stalin. As Sergo Mikoyan’s valuable insight also suggests, Stalin allowed his lieutenants to work generally unmolested as long as he was kept informed.
Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 120
Stalin took special care to oversee army and air force films. On one occasion the head of the state film committee, Bolshakov, had the film Zhukovsky, about the Russian air pioneer, ready for release by Air Force Day. He could not find Stalin (then in the Caucasus) to get his formal approval. When he asked Molotov & Beria, he was told to make his own decision. He released the film. Stalin, on his return, called a meeting of the Politburo with Bolshakov in attendance. Stalin asked him on what authority he had released Zhukovsky. Bolshakov, white and trembling, said he had consulted and decided.
‘You consulted and decided,’ said Stalin quietly but ominously. ‘You consulted and decided,’ he repeated. He got up, went to the door, opened it, and once again said, ‘You decided.’ He went out and shut the door and there was a tense silence.
After a pause, Stalin opened the door, looked back into the room and said, ‘You decided correctly.’
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 295
STALIN WAS THE MEAN BETWEEN THE TWO EXTREMES
Yet, among the Bolshevik leaders of the ’20s, he was primarily the man of the golden mean. He instinctively abhorred the extreme viewpoints which then competed for the party’s recognition. His peculiar job was to produce the formulas in which the opposed extremes seemed reconciled. To the mass of hesitating members of the party his words sounded like common sense itself. They accepted his leadership in the hope that the party would be reliably steered along the ‘middle-of-the-road’ and that ‘safety first’ would be the guiding principle.
…But he lacked the suavity, the flair for persuasion, and the genuine interest in narrowing gaps between opposed views which make the political peacemaker. His temperament was altogether adverse to compromise; and the conflict between his mind and his temperament underlay much of his behavior. He appeared before the party with formulas, some parts of which he had borrowed from right-wing Bolsheviks and some from left-wing Bolsheviks. But these were strange compromise formulas: their purpose was not to bring the extremes together but to blow them up and to destroy them.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 295-296
STALIN REPLIES TO THOSE WHO CLAIM HE IS NOT DEMOCRATIC ENOUGH
Stalin himself did not hesitate to remind those who called for democracy of their own past.
“In the ranks of the Opposition there are people like Beloborodov whose “democratism” is still remembered by the workers of Rostov; Rosengoltz, whose “democratism” was visited upon our water and rail transport workers; Pyatakov, whose “democratism” made the Donbass region not only yell but scream;… and Byk, whose “democratism” still makes Khorezm scream.”
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 184
STALIN OFFERED MANY INDUCEMENTS TO GET THE OPPOSITION TO RECANT
Stalin therefore re-doubled his efforts to break the spirit of the Opposition. His agents held out every possible hope and temptation to Radek, Preobrazhensky, and their friends, promising rehabilitation, invoking common purposes, and speaking of the great, fruitful, and honorable work they could still perform for the party and for socialism. All these efforts, however, met with a formidable obstacle in the influence which Trotsky exercised from Alma Ata and which had so far prevented the opposition in exile from disintegrating. Stalin was determined to remove this obstacle from his path.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 456
STALIN WAS MORE MODERATE THAN OTHERS IN THE 20’S.
The struggle in the Kremlin now began in earnest. It was a fight not merely for power, but for life. Each of the claimants knew out to make political enemies pay in blood. These were leaders molded by the Civil War and the Red Terror and in Lenin’s academies. They thought of the country as a “fortress under siege,” and in such conditions ruthlessness was a supreme virtue. Trotsky, neatly summing up their common creed, spoke of “priestly –or quackerish–driveling about the sanctity of human life.” So each of them knew what the price of defeat might be. Stalin alone was extremely cautious in calling for blood. He seemed more moderate than the others. His record included no bloody words.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 203
POLITBURO FOLLOWED STALIN BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENT WAS BEST AND MOST CORRECT
Well, the fact was that “nature or fate” had endowed Stalin with such an ability to formulate problems and practical solutions that the majority of the Politburo followed his suggestions rather than anyone else’s.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 255
STALIN WAS A GOOD PLODDING ADMINISTRATOR WHO KEPT AT THE JOB
In addition to such maneuvers, the General Secretary’s principal lieutenants unraveled before the 14th Congress in Dec. 1925 the labyrinthine intrigues in which Zinoviev and Kamenev indulged, even when they outwardly collaborated with Stalin and depended on him to preserve their preeminence in the Party. There was a dramatic tale about Kislovodsk, a watering place where at the end of 1923 Zinoviev and some of his henchmen had taken counsel on how to limit the powers of the Secretariat. They had addressed a demand to Stalin which he answered “in a coarse but friendly” fashion, saying that other members of the Politburo should be introduced into the Secretariat. But the resolution of the conflict, as confirmed by Zinoviev himself, could not but reinforce the impression of a conciliatory and hard-working Stalin versus a scheming but lazy rival. The General Secretary agreed that three oligarchs be introduced into the Organizational Bureau, over which he presided. But what happened? Zinoviev, Trotsky, and Bukharin, who were thus given a chance to influence the composition of the Party apparatus, found all those discussions about who should be secretary in Stavropol, or what should be the qualifications for Party officials at the county level, etc., can be boring and unworthy of their attention. And so they seldom bothered to attend sessions of the Orgbureau.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 255
STALIN SAYS LEADING AND IMPLIMENTING SOCIALISM IS A ROUGH BUSINESS
[At the 14th Congress of the Party in December 1925 Stalin stated] …those people who think that it is possible to build socialism in white gloves are grievously mistaken.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 7, p. 349
STALIN SAYS PARTY WILL NOT TOLERATE STARTING FACTIONS BECAUSE PEOPLE LOSE VOTES
[In a reply to the discussion on the Social-Democratic Deviation on November 3, 1926 Stalin stated] The Party cannot and will not tolerate any longer that every time you find yourselves in the minority you go out into the street, proclaim a crisis in the Party, and set up a commotion in it. That the Party, will not tolerate any longer.
The Party cannot and will not tolerate that you, having lost hope of securing a majority in our Party, rake together and assemble all kinds of disgruntled elements as material for a new party. That the Party cannot and will not tolerate.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 8, p. 367
…the Party must not be split under any circumstances, either before the congress or during the congress. It would be suicidal for the Party to allow out-and-out splitter’s,…to wreck the Party just because only a month remains before the congress.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 195
TROTSKY IS EXILED IN COMFORT
Trotsky was exiled to Alma Ata, capital of the Kazakh Soviet Republic in Siberia, near the border of China. He was given a house for himself, his wife Natalie, and his son, Sedov. Trotsky was treated leniently by the Soviet government, which was as yet unaware of the real scope and significance of his conspiracy. He was permitted to retain some of his personal body guards, including the former Red Army officer Dreitzer. He was allowed to receive and send personal mail, to have his own library, and confidential “archives” and to be visited from time to time by friends and admirers. But Trotsky’s exile by no means put an end to his conspiratorial activities….
Pyatakov, Radek, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and other exiled oppositionists began denouncing Trotsky, proclaiming the “tragic error” of their past opposition and pleading for readmission to the Bolshevik party.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 206
Congress 15 opened on December 2, 1927. The Congress expelled from the party Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek, Rakovsky, Preobrazhensky, Smirnov, Serebryakov and several hundred lesser oppositionists…. All the leading oppositionists except Trotsky recanted and were readmitted on probation in June 1928 on condition of denouncing Trotskyism and accepting unconditionally party decisions. Trotsky was exiled to Alma Alta.
Here he hunted, fished, lived comfortably,… And carried on an extensive correspondence with little interference. Between April of October by his own account he sent out 800 political letters…and 550 telegrams and received 1000 political letters and 700 telegrams. On December 16, 1928, an agent of the GPU arrived from Moscow with the demand that he cease leadership of the opposition. He refused.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 205
As for his sojourn in Turkey I can only say that two of my friends visited him on the Bosphorus Island and both of them remarked on his robust physical condition. In the spring of 1930 I went to Alma Alta in Central Asia, to which Trotsky had first been exiled. During his stay there Trotsky’s sympathizers in Moscow wailed loudly that is health was being ruined by the extremes of heat and cold. He refers in his autobiography to the prevalence of malaria and leprosy. I saw the house where he lived in Alma Alta, which is far more comfortable and spacious than my own apartment in Moscow; I saw the pleasant villa in the mountains where he spent the summer; and I heard everyone, from the local GPU men to the man in the street, talk warmly of Trotsky’s hunting trips and how hard he worked and how cheerful and friendly he was to one and all.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 229
It was by no means an unpleasing place of exile…. At Alma Ata Trotsky lived as a grand seigneur. His library and his furniture had been dispatched to him, and he sent for countless other things, including elaborate hunting and angling equipment. He was not short of money; the State publishing office had paid him the sums due to him under his contract with it. His works were withdrawn, of course, from circulation, but there had been such sales already and such countless subscriptions paid that his royalties amounted to tens of thousands of gold rubles.
Up to that time Stalin could not be charged with active malevolence. It had been a political struggle. As the years had passed, Stalin’s enmity toward Trotsky had certainly sharpened…; but he had never given full vent…and he did not even when Trotsky did not lie low in Alma Ata. Trotsky appears to have kept up an active correspondence with his secret supporters, and, in spite of the watchfulness of the secret police, he tried to continue building up an illegal party of his own. Now and then well printed leaflets made their appearance in Moscow. In 1929 Stalin moved that Trotsky should be sent into exile abroad.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 139
Trotsky and his family lived in Alma-Ata for a year. He maintained ties with his supporters, legally and illlegally, carrying on a vast correspondence.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 176
While he was in Alma-Ata, Trotsky continued his political activity. Every month he sent hundreds of letters and telegrams to various addresses. His elder son’s notes show that the clandestine correspondence which Trotsky carried on in Alma-Ata between April and October 1928, amounted to some 800 political letters and 550 telegrams from him, and more than 1000 political letters and 700 telegrams received by him. In addition, letters and other items came and went by courier. He was trying to reactivate the opposition.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 143
…A curious incident. It is reported that the Instantia received a request from Trotsky. He asked for permission to buy a shotgun and another hunting rifle, because he intended to go lion-hunting–to hunt the celebrated Semirechensk lions…. His request was granted. Klim is reported to have said: “Let him hunt. Maybe the Semirechensk lions will eat up our Kherson Lev….”
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 83
Here are a few bits of statistical data from my son’s notes: For the period of April to October, 1928, we sent out from Alma-Ata about 800 political letters, among them quite a few large works. The telegrams sent amounted to about 550. We received about 1000 political letters, both long and short, and about 700 telegrams, in most cases from groups of people. All this refers chiefly to the correspondence within the region of exile, but letters from exile filtered out into the country as well. Of the correspondence sent us, we received, in the best months, not more than half. In addition we received about eight or nine secret mails from Moscow, that is, secret material and letters forwarded by special courier. About the same number were sent by us in similar fashion to Moscow. The secret mails kept us informed of everything that was going on there and enabled us, though only after much delay, to respond with our comments on the most important events.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 556
On December 16, a special representative of the GPU, coming from Moscow, in the name of that institution handed me an ultimatum: I must stop directing the opposition; if I did not, measures would be taken “to isolate me from political life.”
I think it necessary to quote the main points of this letter here:
“The work of your political sympathizers throughout the country” (almost word for word) “has lately assumed a definitely counter-revolutionary character; the conditions in which you are placed at Alma-Ata give you full opportunity to direct this work; in view of this, the collegium of the GPU has decided to demand from you a categorical promise to discontinue your activity; failing this, the collegium will be obliged to alter the conditions of your existence to the extent of completely isolating you from political life. In this connection, the question of changing your place of residence will rise.”
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 558
Between April and October [in 1928] we received approximately 1000 political letters and documents and about 700 telegrams. In this same period we sent out 550 telegrams and not fewer than 800 political letters, including a number of substantial works, such as the Criticism of the Draft Program of the Comintern, and others. Without my son I could not have accomplished even 1/2 of the work.
Trotsky, Leon. Leon Sedoff. New York City: Young People’s Socialist League, (Fourth Internationalists), 1938, p. 10
Trotsky, unyielding, was forced to go into (comfortable) exile in Central Asia, and finally, at the beginning of 1929, was expelled from the country; he was allowed to take all his personal effects and papers with him. Throughout the mid-1930s, internal opposition within the Party, even of the most aggressive type, such is that of Trotsky, was treated with relative benevolence.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 212
Save for a few hunting trips, Trotsky spent most of his time in Alma-Ata at his desk. Between April and October 1928 he sent his supporters about 550 telegrams and 800 “political letters,” some of them lengthy political tracts. During the same period he received 700 telegrams and 1000 letters from various parts of the Soviet Union, but believed that at least as many more had been confiscated en route.
Andrew and Mitrokhin. The Sword and the Shield (Pt 1). New York: Basic Books, c1999, p. 39
Here [at Alma Ata] Trotsky was to stay. Stalin was eager to keep him as far from Moscow as possible and to reduce him to his own resources…. Stalin appeared to have no further designs on his enemy; and the GPU still treated Trotsky with consideration that would have been unthinkable later. It took care that his enormous library and archives, containing important state and party documents, should reach him–a lorryful of these presently arrived at Alma Ata. Trotsky protested to Kalinin, Ordjonikidze, and Menzhinsky against the conditions in which he was placed, demanding better accommodation, the right to go on hunting trips, and even to have his pet dog sent to him from Moscow. He complained that he was kept at the inn at Gogol Street only to suit the GPU’s convenience and that his punishment was virtual imprisonment. “You could just as well have jailed me in Moscow–there was no need to deport me 4000 versts away.” The protest was effective. Three weeks after his arrival he was given a four-room flat in the center of the town, at 75 Krasin Street– the street was so named after his deceased friend. He was allowed to go on hunting trips. He showered further sarcastic telegrams on Moscow, making demands, some serious, others trivial, and mixing little quarrels with great controversy.
He appeared almost relaxed after so many years of ceaseless toil and tension. Thus, unexpectedly and oddly, there was a quasi-idyllic flavor about the first few months of his stay at Alma Ata. Steppe and mountain, river and lake lured him as never since his childhood. He relished hunting; and in his voluminous correspondence political argument and advice are often interspersed with poetic descriptions of landscape and humorous reports on hunting ventures. He was at first refused permission to go out of Alma Ata. Then he was allowed to go hunting but no further than 25 versts away. He telegraphed to Menzhinsky that he would disregard the restriction because there were no suitable hunting grounds within that distance and he was not going to be bothered with small game–he must be allowed to go at least 70 versts away; and let Moscow inform the local GPU about this so as to avoid trouble. He went; and there was no trouble. Then he protested to the chief of the local GPU against being pursued rudely and conspicuously by sleuths and declared that because of this he would “go on strike” and cease to hunt –unless this form of police supervision was prescribed directly by Moscow, in which case he understood the position of the local GPU and waived his objections. The supervision became milder and less conspicuous.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 397-398
The fees paid to him [Trotsky] by Ryazanov [for articles written] supplied the family’s needs and covered most of Trotsky’s huge correspondence.
…No doubt the censorship and the GPU kept a watchful eye on the correspondence. Most of it was with Rakovsky, who had been deported to Astrakhan, Radek, who was at Tobolsk, Preobrazhensky, exiled to Uralsk, Smilga who was at Narym, Beloborodov, banished as for north as Ust-Kylom in the Komi Republic, Serebryakov, who was at Semi-Palatinsk in Central Asia, Muralov at Tara, Ivan Smirnov at Novo-Bayazet in Armenia, and Mrachkovsky at Voronezh.
[Footnote]: Between April and October 1928 Trotsky mailed 800 political letters, many of essay length, and 550 telegrams; and he received 1000 letters and 700 telegrams, apart from private mail.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 401
TROTSKY WAS DEPORTED RATHER THAN IMPRISONED
On the morning of January 22, 1929, Trotsky was formally deported from Soviet Union.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 209
…On Jan. 18, 1929 he [Stalin] proposed to the Politburo that Trotsky be expelled from Russia. The proposal was passed, against Bukharin’s protests….
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; a Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 316
STALIN OPPOSED EXPELLING TROTSKY FROM THE PARTY
The 14th Congress in December 1925. Zinoviev and Kamenev favored the expulsion of Trotsky from the Party. Stalin opposed them: “Today we cut off one, tomorrow another, the day after tomorrow a third. But, by then, what will be left of the Party?”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 203
The result [of the Party rejecting Trotsky’s proposals to suppress the kulaks and nepmen] was that the Communist Party Congress in December 1925 rejected Trotsky’s proposals, and he was saved from expulsion from the party only by Stalin itself.
…The party Congress of December 1927 expelled the Trotskyist critics wholesale….
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 153
June 27, 1931–no excuse or evasion of party orders is permitted, and infractions of discipline are punished by a reprimand, or, if repeated, by expulsion from the party. Of this, Stalin himself, only five years ago, speaking in behalf of Trotsky, when Kamenev and Zinoviev urged his expulsion, said: “Expulsion is a final and fatal weapon to be employed only in a hopeless case.”
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 217
Of this, Stalin himself, only five years ago, speaking in behalf of Leon Trotsky, when Kamenev and Zinoviev urged his expulsion, said:
“Expulsion is a final and fatal weapon to be employed only in a hopeless case.”
Duranty, Walter. “Stalinism’s Mark is Party Discipline,” New York Times, June 27, 1931.
Far more damaging were Stalin’s revelations of all the discreditable maneuvers of Zinoviev against Trotsky. Pravda gave details of a secret meeting between Stalin and his two late associates on the Troika, in which Zinoviev had descended so low as to suggest that Trotsky be removed by an assassin in such a way that the deed could be attributed to some counter revolutionary agent. Stalin’s reply was characteristic: he did not deplore the moral aspect of the situation, which probably never occurred to him, but he would not be a party to such bad political tactics. “Why make a martyr out of Trotsky, who will certainly be defeated anyway?” he is alleged to have replied, adding the significant warning: “An amputation policy is full of dangers to the Party, the amputation method is dangerous and infectious; today one is amputated, another tomorrow, a third the day after. What will be left of the Party in the end?”
Stalin had not forgotten the tragic history of the French Revolutionary leaders, who turned from mutual assistance to rend one another in a fight for power, only to elevate Napoleon Bonaparte to an Imperial throne.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 68
The year 1925 represented a new turn in the situation. Trotsky returned from the Caucasus in the spring and filled several minor posts, including that of head of the Concessions Committee. Meanwhile a breach had developed between Stalin and his associates, Zinoviev and Kamenev. The latter desired to apply much more drastic punitive measures against Trotsky, including even his expulsion from the party. Stalin opposed this and carried the majority of the Politburo and the Central Committee with him.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 71
And when defeatists like Kamenev and Zinoviev, after the 14th Party Conference of the CPSU, declared themselves against the possibility of building socialism, Trotsky, sharing their defeatism and skepticism, rushed to form an opportunist alliance with them–the same Zinoviev and Kamenev whom Trotsky had described in his Lessons of October as right-wingers and whose removal from the Party he had been seeking only recently; the same Zinoviev and Kamenev who in turn had been trying their utmost to secure the removal of Trotsky from the Party leadership, if not from the Party itself. In fact it was none other than Stalin (the same Stalin who, according to Trotskyite legend, was afraid of the “brilliance” of Trotsky and was therefore implacably hostile to him, seeking his removal from the Party at any cost) who opposed Zinoviev and Kamenev’s attempts to expel Trotsky from the Party leadership. Here is what Stalin said in this regard:
“We know that the policy of lopping off, the method of blood letting [it was blood letting that Kamenev and Zinoviev were demanding] is dangerous and infectious. Today, you lop off one limb, tomorrow another, the day after tomorrow a third-and what is left of the Party?”
All this, however, does not prevent the Trotskyites and other bourgeois elements from repeating the above-mentioned legend regarding the alleged implacable hostility of Stalin towards the “brilliant” Trotsky.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 193
At the Central Committee meeting [January 17-20, 1925] Zinoviev and Kamenev showed eagerness to make the final kill. Supported by others, they demanded the expulsion of Trotsky not only from the committee and the Politburo but from the party itself. This, the final sentence of excommunication, was opposed by Stalin. Reporting later to the 14th Party Congress, he explained that “we, the majority of the Central Committee… did not agree with Comrades Zinoviev and Kamenev because we realized that the policy of cutting off heads is fought with major dangers for the party…. It is a method of blood-letting–and they want blood–dangerous and contagious; today you cutoff one head, tomorrow a second, and then a third: who would remain in the party?” It was a fateful pronouncement.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 204
Permit me now to pass to the history of our internal struggle within the majority of the Central Committee. What did our disaccord start from? It started from the question: “What is to be done with Trotsky?” That was at the end of 1924. The group of Leningrad comrades at first proposed that Trotsky be expelled from the Party. Here I have in mind the period of the discussion in 1924. The Leningrad Gubernia at Party Committee passed a resolution that Trotsky be expelled from the Party. We, i.e., the majority on the Central Committee, did not agree with this, we had some struggle with the Leningrad comrades and persuaded them to delete the point about expulsion from their resolution. Shortly after this, when the plenum of the Central Committee met and the Leningrad comrades, together with Kamenev, demanded Trotsky’s immediate expulsion from the Political Bureau, we also disagreed with this proposal of the opposition, we obtained a majority on the Central Committee and restricted ourselves to removing Trotsky from the post of People’s Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs. We disagreed with Zinoviev and Kamenev because we knew that the policy of amputation was fraught with great dangers for the party, that the method of amputation, the method of blood-letting–and they demanded blood–was dangerous, infectious: today you amputate one limb, tomorrow another, the day after tomorrow a third–what will we have left in the Party?
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 7, p. 389
We are against amputation. We are against the policy of amputation. That does not mean that leaders will be permitted with impunity to give themselves airs and ride roughshod over the Party. No, excuse us from that. There will be no obeisances to leaders. We stand for unity, we are against amputation. The policy of amputation is abhorrent to us.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 7, p. 401
A more serious struggle ensued in the Central Committee over the fate of Trotsky, who had already been defeated politically. Zinoviev and Kamenev demanded the expulsion of Trotsky and his closet associates from the party. On this question Stalin opposed his recent allies, and a majority of the Central Committee agreed with Stalin. Trotsky was not expelled; indeed, he remained a member of the central committee and the Politburo. Foreseeing a clash with Zinoviev and Kamenev Stalin wished to neutralize Trotsky and the Trotskyists. He later said:
“We did not agree with comrades Zinoviev and Kamenev because we knew that a policy of cutting off members was fraught with great dangers for the party, that the method of cutting off, the method of bloodletting –and they are asking for blood–is dangerous and contagious. Today one person is cut off, tomorrow another, the next day a third–but what will remain of the party?”
Most party officials were impressed by this point of view.
Zinoviev and Kamenev tried to pressure the Politburo through the leadership of the Komsomol, the majority of which consisted of their supporters. The Komsomol Central Committee passed a surprise resolution demanding the removal of Trotsky from the Politburo. The Politburo gave a speedy reply: 15 members of the Komsomol Central Committee were removed. All these episodes marked the collapse of the triumvirate.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 145
Curiously enough their [Zinoviev and Kamenev] first point of disagreement with the Party Central Committee arose on the question of Trotsky. Zinoviev and Kamenev wanted to expel Trotsky from the Party. When this was rejected they returned to the charge and demanded at least his expulsion from the political leadership of the Party. The Trotskyist legend of the implacable hostility of Stalin to the “brilliant” Trotsky notwithstanding, Zinoviev and Kamenev found no stronger opponent amongst the Party leadership than Stalin. “We knew,” explained Stalin, “that the policy of lopping off might entail grave dangers for the Party. The method of lopping off, the method of blood-letting (it was blood-letting they wanted) is dangerous and infectious. Today, you lop off one limb, tomorrow another. The day after tomorrow a third–and what is left of the Party?”
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 38
Trotsky was enormously popular with us. The campaign directed against him, conducted by Zinoviev, to whom Stalin, with great astuteness, had left all initiative in the business, reserving to himself the role of moderating influence, had resulted in the piling up of a great deal of resentment against both Zinoviev and Kamenev. Both men, realizing what had happened, made a sudden volte-face, and openly joined forces with their adversary of yesterday–Trotsky, the very incarnation of the spirit of opposition, who was developing in secret a scheme for the complete reformation of the regime.
Barmine, Alexandre. Memoirs of a Soviet Diplomat. London: L. Dickson limited, 1938, p. 217
At the 14th Congress [in late 1925], when the Central Committee limited itself to removing Trotsky from the post of Commissar for War, Stalin said:
We did not agree with Zinoviev and Kamenev because we know that a policy of severance is pregnant with dangers for the party, that the severance method, the blood-letting method–and they demanded blood–is dangerous and contagious: today we sever one person, tomorrow someone else, the next a third person–what will be left of the party?
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 61
Sensing the mood of the majority [at the 14th Congress in 1925], and sweeping aside Kamenev’s proposal that the Secretariat be turned simply into a technical organization, he [Stalin] emphasized that he was against ‘expelling’ certain members of the leadership from the Central Committee. He calculated, given the atmosphere, that it was prudent once again to declare that, if the comrades insisted, he ‘was ready to leave his place without a fuss.’ ‘Expulsion means bloodletting,’ he declared to applause, ‘and that is a dangerous and infectious way to proceed. Today one person is expelled, tomorrow another, the next they someone else–who will be left in the party?’ He spoke like a practiced politician, again finding support among the delegates, demonstrating his disinterest and his concern for the party’s future. As he mocked and criticized the opposition, he displayed his ‘magnanimity by the use of such phrases as ‘Well, good luck to them!’ Although he had already decided it was time to part company with Zinoviev and Kamenev, he nevertheless demonstrated that he wanted peace: ‘We are for unity, we are against expulsions. The policy of expulsion is repellent to us. The party wants unity and it will achieve it, with Kamenev and Zinoviev, if that is what they want, and without them, if they do not.’
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 115
In January 1925, Zinoviev and Kamenev urged in the Central Committee that Trotsky be expelled from the Politburo. Stalin made several alternative suggestions, including merely removing Trotsky as War Commissar (from which post he had in fact just offered his resignation). This was carried. As Stalin was to say later:
‘We did not agree with Zinoviev and Kamenev because we knew that a policy of decapitation is pregnant with great dangers for the party; we know that the method of axing and bloodletting–for blood is what they are demanding–is dangerous and infectious. Today you cut off one man, tomorrow another, the day after tomorrow a third… and what shall be left of the party then?’
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 123
Taking note of his [Trotsky] refusal to fall in step, the Plenum voted 102 against 2 (with 10 abstentions) to reprimand him for engaging in “factionalism.” It also “completely approved” the conduct of the Party’s leadership. Kamenev and Zinoviev wanted Trotsky expelled from the party, but Stalin thought this not prudent: on his urging, the motion was rejected….
Pipes, Richard. Russia under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 485
After Trotsky had thus effaced himself, the only bond that kept the triumvirs together snapped. Up to last moment Zinoviev clamored for harsher reprisals against Trotsky, even for his arrest. Stalin countered his demands with a public statement to the effect that it was ‘inconceivable’ that Trotsky should be eliminated from the leadership of the party.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 297
From his [Stalin] position of vantage, he watched his divided opponents, their shy mutual overtures, their jealousies and resentments. He added to the confusion in their ranks by his own vague advances to Trotsky. Agents of the General Secretariat assiduously reminded Trotsky’s followers that Zinoviev, not Stalin, had exhibited the worst virulence in the fight against them. Stalin himself in his book Problems of Leninism, which was published in January 1926, turned all his political zest against Zinoviev and Kamenev, and refrained from making a single unfriendly remark about Trotsky….
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 305
On formal grounds Stalin could not expel Trotsky from the party for his ‘Clemenceau statement’, even though it implied the threat of an overthrow of the Government.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 315
This is, for instance, how he countered Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s demand for reprisals against Trotsky: “We have not agreed with Zinoviev and Kamenev, because we have known that a policy of lopping off [heads] is fraught with great dangers…. The method of chopping off and blood-letting–and they did demand blood–is dangerous and infectious. You chop off one head today, another one tomorrow, still another one the day after–what in the end will be left of the party?” The revolution of the 20th century, he seemed to say, may spurn its children but it need not devour them.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 347
It is amusing that at that time, in the Central Committee, Stalin slowed down the attacks against Trotsky by Zinoviev and Kamenev.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 97
Zinoviev, on the other hand, vociferously urged definitive elimination of Trotsky. During the January 1925 plenum of the Central Committee, Zinoviev and Kamenev proposed exclusion of Trotsky from the Party. Stalin opposed this, playing the role of conciliator. He persuaded the plenum not only to keep Trotsky in the Party, but to keep him in the Central Committee and the Politburo. It’s true that the plenum condemned Trotsky’s interventions and his political views, but the important point was that the moment had arrived to rid the Red Army of him. His replacement had been ready for a long time, in the person of his assistant, Frunze. The latter was not particularly Stalin’s man, but Zinoviev and Kamenev liked him, and in the course of long Troika sessions on the subject Stalin accepted the nomination of Frunze to replace Trotsky as people’s commissar for war and president of the Revolutionary War Council, with Voroshilov as assistant.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 98
And yet they not only did not exclude Trotsky from the party, but they did not even remove him from the Politburo! He remains a member of the ruling committee of seven, who exercise the sovereign power in a party, to whose whole essential nature, purpose, and philosophy he is declared to be opposed. This anomalous situation means, in the first place, that there is not the slightest breath of sincerity in that outrageous indictment of Trotsky. And it means, in the second place, that there is a bitter rivalry between Stalin and Zinoviev for the position of leadership. Zinoviev demanded Trotsky’s exclusion from the Politburo, and he was supported in this by Kamenev. Stalin, for his own reasons, opposed this demand, and Zinoviev, in a huff, declaring that Stalin merely wanted to use Trotsky against him, tendered his own resignation.
Eastman, Max. Since Lenin Died. Westport, Connecticutt: Hyperion Press. 1973, p. 127
In the last week of May 1924 the 13th Congress assembled…. The Congress turned into an orgy of denunciation. Zinoviev fumed and fulminated: “It was now 1000 times more necessary than ever that the party should be monolithic.” Months before he had urged his partners to order Trotsky’s expulsion from the party and even arrest; but Stalin cool-headedly refused to comply and hastened to declare in Pravda that no action was contemplated against Trotsky, and that a party leadership without Trotsky was “unthinkable.”
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 138
At the Politburo [in January 1925] Zinoviev and Kamenev proposed to ask the Central Committee to expel Trotsky from the Politburo and the Central Committee. Once again, to their irritation, Stalin refused to comply; and Zinoviev and Kamenev wondered whether he might not make peace with Trotsky at their expense.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 162
… Once the triumvirs had defeated Trotsky and removed him from the Commissariat of War, the bonds of their solidarity snapped. Molotov related afterwards that the discord began in January 1925 when Kamenev proposed that Stalin should take Trotsky’s place at the Commissariat of War. According to Molotov, Kamenev and Zinoviev hoped in this way to oust Stalin from the General Secretariat. (Much earlier, as early as October 1923, Zinoviev and Kamenev had toyed with this idea and had even sounded Trotsky. He, however, saw no advantage then in joining hands with Zinoviev, whom he regarded as the most vicious of his adversaries). Stalin himself traces the beginning of this conflict to the end of the year 1924, when Zinoviev proposed Trotsky’s expulsion from the party and Stalin replied that he was against “chopping off heads and blood letting.” When Trotsky left the Commissariat, Zinoviev proposed that he should be assigned to a minor job in the management of the leather industry; and Stalin persuaded the Politburo to make a less humiliating appointment. In a pique, Zinoviev appealed to the Leningrad organization, charging Stalin and the other Politburo members with a leaning for Trotsky and with being “semi-Trotskyists” themselves.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 241
Zinoviev and Kamenev moved at a plenary meeting of the Central Committee that Trotsky should be expelled from the Party–only to be opposed by Stalin. To the amazement of his allies, who wanted blood, Stalin persuaded the Central Committee not to expel Trotsky, not even to remove him from the Politburo.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 217
[Stalin stated], “The method of lopping-off, the method of blood-letting (it was blood-letting they wanted) is dangerous and infectious. Today, you lop off one limb; tomorrow another; the day after tomorrow a third–and what is left of the party?”
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 242
[In a November 1925 letter to a comrade Stalin stated] I am emphatically opposed to the policy of kicking out all dissenting comrades. I am opposed to such a policy not because I am sorry for the dissenters, but because such a policy gives rise in the Party to a regime of intimidation, a regime of bullying, which kills the spirit of self-criticism and initiative. It is not good when leaders of the Party are feared but not respected. Party leaders can be real leaders only if they are not merely feared but respected in the Party, when their authority is recognized.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 7, p. 45
[In a letter to the Czechoslovak Commission on March 27, 1925 Stalin stated] Expulsion is not the decisive weapon in the struggle against the Rights. The main thing is to give the Right groups a drubbing, ideologically and morally, in the course of the struggle based on principal and to draw the mass of the Party membership into the struggle.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 7, p. 66
WHY TROTSKY WAS EXPELLED FROM THE PARTY
But there could be no mercy for Trotsky and his followers because they had broken two cardinal rules of Communist discipline.
First, although they had been within their rights in opposing the majority program until the decision was reached, they had committed the unpardonable breach of refusing to bow to that decision when the will of the majority was proclaimed and affirmed by vote.
Second, as if that disobedience were not sufficient, they had committed the flagrant sin of “appealing” against the party line to the popular masses by attempted public demonstrations and by the dissemination of secretly printed documents. This in the circumstances was sheer counter Revolution, and was punished as such.
The clash between Trotsky’s individualism and the rigid discipline of the Communist system could no longer be avoided.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 154
Trotsky, however, maintained his irreconcilable opposition to the Party and was expelled from the Soviet Union.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 135 [p. 116 on the NET]
The opposition presented their statement to the Central Committee with the demand that it be printed and circulated to all delegates to the Congress. Expecting that their demand would be rejected, as indeed it was, they had set up a secret printing press, intending to print the statement for mass circulation. The 0GPU knew in advance about their plans and seized the printing press. All who were directly involved were arrested and at once expelled from the party, but the leaders remained free for the time being. Desperate and frustrated in their efforts to publicize their views, they addressed meetings of workers. The Central Committee, meeting jointly with the Central Control Commission on Oct. 21-23, 1927, again severely reprimanded them, but they remained members and at liberty.
On Nov. 7, 1927, the 10th anniversary of the Revolution, Trotsky and Zinoviev promoted demonstrations in Moscow and Leningrad. The demonstrations were thinly attended and ineffectual, but they were a grave breach of party rules. Again the 0GPU was ready. The police and organized bands of thugs broke up the demonstrations and many were arrested. A week later Trotsky and Zinoviev were expelled from the party. The Congress endorsed their expulsion and expelled in addition a further 75 oppositionists of the Trotsky-Zinoviev group, as well as 15 Democratic Centralists. The Congress demonstrated with enthusiasm in support of the party leaders.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 219
A few months later, however, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, there was an opposition attempt to stage counter-demonstrations to the official demonstrations in Moscow and Leningrad–short-lived attempts which were broken up by the workers.
The illegal printing press was discovered, as was also the fact that the opposition had entered into association with elements hostile to the Party, in order to get this press going.
The limit of the Party’s patience had been reached. In spite of warning from the Party, in breach of their most solemn promises, the opposition was seeking to form a new party. They had to be excluded from the Party and their organization broken up.
But before this step was taken there was a Party referendum on the question of the opposition policy– 724,000 members voted for the line of the Party, 4000 members voted for the Trotskyists and 2600 abstained from voting. If the trotskyists had only wanted a democratic expression they had got it with its hobnailed boots on.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 40
In the Party discussion of 1927, only 4000 people could be found to vote for Trotsky, as compared with the 724,000 who voted for the line of the Party. The young administrators drawn from the working class were equally hostile, as Trotsky regretfully admits (The Revolution Betrayed, the page 276).
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 233
[in 1927] the opposition prepared a platform for the next Party Congress. This was forbidden. They then printed it illlegally, and this was represented as a plot–and indeed, it was a genuine underground operation.
The hearings against Trotsky & Zinoviev were resumed, without even a pretense of judicial decency. Trotsky’s defense was met with curses, howls and the hurling of inkpots, books and glasses. Stalin alone spoke in a controlled manner, though in a tone of ‘coarse and cold hatred’.
On Nov. 7, 1927 the 10th anniversary of the Revolution, the opposition made a last effort, joining the official demonstration groups but with their own slogans. They were attacked by police, ‘activists’ and others who had been mobilized especially for this operation. Then Trotsky and Zinoviev were expelled from the party, and Kamenev and the others from the Central Committee.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 139
0n Nov. 7, 1927, during the official celebration of the 10th anniversary of the October revolution, Trotsky and Zinoviev led their followers in separate processions through the streets of Moscow and Leningrad. Though the processions were of a peaceful character and the banners and slogans carried by the demonstrators were directed against the ruling group only by implication, the incident brought the struggle to a head. Trotsky and Zinoviev were immediately expelled from the party. On December 15th Congress declared ‘adherence to the opposition and propaganda of its views to be incompatible with membership of the party’…. The Congress demanded from the leaders of the opposition that they renounce and denounce their own views–this was to be the price for their continued membership of the party…. On Dec. 18 the Congress expelled 75 leading members of the opposition, in addition to many others already expelled or imprisoned.
A day later the opposition split. Its Trotskyist section refused to yield to the demands of the Congress. Trotsky was deported to Alma-Ata, Rakovsky to Astrakhan. Zinoviev, Kamenev, and their followers, however, issued a statement in which they renounced their views.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 311
In 1927, the Trotsky-Zinoviev bloc made one last effort. Defeated and isolated in the ruling councils of the Party, they thought to appeal to the “Party masses” and workers. (This was a measure of their lack of contact with reality: the masses were now wholly alienated.) In the autumn came the setting up of an illegal Trotskyite printing press, and illegal demonstrations in Moscow and Leningrad. Mrachkovsky, Preobrazhensky, and Serebryakov accepted responsibility for the print shop. They were all immediately expelled from the party, and Mrachkovsky was arrested…. Opposition demonstrations on Nov. 7 were a fiasco. The only result was that on November 14 Trotsky & Zinoviev were expelled from the Party, and Kamenev, Rakovsky, Smilga, and Evdokimov from the Central Committee. Their followers everywhere were also ejected. Zinoviev and his followers recanted; Trotsky’s, for the moment stood firm. The effective number of Trotskyites and Zinovievites is easy to deduce: 2500 oppositionists recanted after the 1927 Congress, and 1500 were expelled. The leading Trotskyites were sent into exile. In January 1928, Trotsky was deported to Alma-Ata. Rakovsky, Pyatakov, Preobrazhensky, and others of the Left followed him to other places in the Siberian and Asian periphery.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 11
For the moment it looked as if the Opposition would be able to participate in the 15th congress and there make another appeal to the party. The leaders prepared a full and systematic statement of policy, a Platform, such as they had never before been able to present.
…the Platform would then have to be produced and circulated clandestinely or semi-clandestinely. The Opposition resolved to take the risk. To protect itself against reprisals–to “spread the blow” once again–and also to impress the Congress, Trotsky & Zinoviev called on their adherents to sign the Platform en masse. The collection of signatures was to reveal the size of the Opposition’s following; and so the campaign was from the outset a trial of strength in a form the Opposition had not hitherto geared to undertake.
Stalin could not allow this to go on undisturbed. All the night of 12-13 September 1927 the GPU raided the Opposition’s “printing shop,” arrested several man engaged in producing the Platform, and announced with a flourish that it had discovered a conspiracy. The GPU maintained that they had caught the Oppositionists red-handed, working hand in glove with notorious counter-revolutionaries; and that a former officer of Wrangel’s White Guards had set up the Opposition’s printing shop. On the day of the raid Trotsky had left for the Caucasus; but several leaders of the Opposition, Preobrazhensky, Mrachkovsky, and Serebryakov, attempted to come forward with a refutation and declared that they assumed full responsibility for the “printing shop” and the publication of the Platform. All three were immediately expelled from the party and one of them, Mrachkovsky, was imprisoned. ___6 This was the first time that such punishment was inflicted on prominent men of the Opposition.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 356-357
The 15th congress of 1927 was in session for three weeks; and it was wholly preoccupied with the schism. The Opposition had not a single delegate with voting rights. Trotsky did not attend; he had not even asked to be admitted in order to make a personal appeal against his expulsion. Unanimously the congress declared that expression of the Opposition’s views was incompatible with membership in the party.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 385
Within a few days the printing shop was raided by the GPU, and its alleged founder, Mrachkovsky a noted partisan leader of the Civil War, was expelled from the Party and arrested [in 1927].
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 283
In October 1927, that is, two months before the 15th Congress, the Central Committee of the Party announced a general Party discussion, and the fight began. Its result was truly lamentable for the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites: 724,000 Party members voted for the policy of the Central Committee; 4000, or less than 1%, for the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites. The anti-Party bloc was completely routed. The overwhelming majority of the Party members were unanimous in rejecting the platform of the bloc.
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 285
[In 1927] The united opposition did not waver. It advanced with a new load of ammunition…. From this it advanced to a new method of warfare. Its speakers would appear at various party meetings and without authority address the audiences. This was met by furious counter-blows. Reprisals, arrests followed. Bands of whistlers were organized to disrupt such gatherings. Strings of automobiles would suddenly appear and blow their sirens.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 258
[In an article entitled “They Have Sunk to the Depths” Stalin stated] The open demonstration of the Trotskyists in the streets on November 7, 1927, was a turning-point, when the Trotskyist organization showed that it was breaking not only with the Party, but also with the Soviet regime.
This demonstration was preceded by a whole series of anti-Party and anti-Soviet acts: the forcible seizure of a government building for a meeting (the Moscow Higher Technical School), the organization of underground printing plants, etc.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 327
The Trotskyites, by themselves, were never a big force in our Party. Call to mind the last discussion on Trotskyism in our Party in 1927. This was a genuine party referendum. Out of 854,000 Party members, 730,000 members voted at that time. Among them 724,000 Party members voted for the Bolsheviks, for the Central Committee of the Party, against the Trotskyites, and 4000 Party members, or about one half of 1%, voted for the Trotskyites, while 2600 members of the Party refrained from voting.
Add to this the fact that many out of this number became disillusioned with Trotskyism and left it, and you get a conception of the insignificance of the Trotskyite forces.
Stalin, Joseph. Mastering Bolshevism. San Francisco: Proletarian Publishers, 1972, p. 46
TROTSKY WAS DEPOSED BY THE POLITBURO, NOT STALIN
It had been Zinoviev who originally proposed Stalin as general secretary…. In his memoirs Trotsky describes the circumstances of his deposition as if they were entirely Stalin’s work. That is not true to history. Trotsky was relieved of the supreme command over the Army by a majority decision of the Politbureau…. Bucharin was in the foreground of the public attacks on Trotsky.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 131
Trotsky was now dismissed from the commander-in-chief of the army. He remained a member of the Politburo, and he was also given two departments of State. He became chairman of the Central Concessions Committee. At the time this committee was one of great importance in the eyes of foreigners. It carried on negotiations for the granting of economic concessions to foreign enterprises. Lenin had introduced his policy….
The other post which Trotsky received was that of head of the electro-technical department in the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs…. Neither of his two offices gave him any opportunity of intervening in home policy or influencing it. He ignored both appointments…. As a member of the Politburo he kept his big personal secretariat. But at the sessions of the Politburo, which he regularly attended, he took up a strange attitude. He came in, sat down, and ostentatiously took no part in the discussions. He usually had a book, preferably a French novel, and read it throughout the session. Scarcely ever did he speak a word. Meanwhile he proceeded, rather carelessly, with the building up in some shape of his own organization. It all suggested a great master gathering his assistants round him to listen to him in ecstatic awe. What seemed more serious was his continual association with a number of leading Bolsheviks who were not in the Politburo but were nevertheless holders of influential posts
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 133-34
Stalin took no part in the effort to get rid of Trotsky. The articles and speeches attacking the latter came mainly from Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Bukharin. Trotsky had made preparations for the publication of his collected works–obviously as a fighting move. They were to be issued by the State publishing office…. The collection was not confined to Trotsky’s past articles: each volume, containing a year’s articles, was to have a newly-written introduction. An explosion was produced by the publication of the volume for 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution. In the introduction to that volume Trotsky gave a version of events that differed fundamentally from that of the party leadership. He not only tried to destroy the Lenin legend; he belittled the part played in the Revolution by the Bolshevik party. Needless to say, his own part received special attention. A public campaign against Trotsky began. Bukharin led the agitation in the press. The book was to be had in the shops, and every subscriber had received a copy. The question of his membership in the party was raised. In addition to controverting his argument, his opponents charged him with trying to form a ‘faction’ within the party, an organized group to oppose the majority of the party. He was denounced as a schismatic. In accordance with party practice at the time, the controversy was fought out in full publicity….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 135
And there were several things which barred Trotsky from succeeding Lenin as Party Leader. There was the taint of heresy about him in the eyes of the older Bolsheviks, who could not forget that he had only joined the party in 1917; there were the many enemies whom he had made through his vitriolic pen and through his ruthless administrative measures as Soviet War Lord; there was a widespread feeling that, while Trotsky was an invaluable leader in the active, destructive period of revolution, he was too mercurial and unstable to be a reliable guide in the slower and more prosaic work of economic reconstruction.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 95
Trotsky was kept without a post until May, 1925 when he was tested to see whether he would be content with a much smaller part in the government. The army had been taken from him, how would he like to administer the department of Foreign Concessions? It was found that he had become much humbler. He accepted the chairmanship of the Concessions Board with readiness, and actually he obtained work which suited his abilities more than the control of the fighting forces.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 98
So in the final struggle he [Trotsky] was deprived of power by the vote of the party.
To me, however, there appears to be a deeper historical reason for this. By the year 1927 the Revolution had come to that stage wherein the new state founded by it had to be ruled by a conservative and very careful progressive leader. But Trotsky was a typical revolutionary and his fiery spirit was not what was wanted in the management of the consolidated Bolshevik state. He was declared a dangerous man and was exiled with his friends to Siberia.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 367
However, more objective sources suggest that Stalin triumphed largely because what almost the entire Party leadership feared above all was the possibility of Trotsky coming to power. Stalin was the only real alternative to Trotsky and his plans for world revolution.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 269
EARLY ON THE PARTY TRIED NOT TO EXPEL TROTSKY
MOLOTOV: In 1924 discussion against Trotsky was proceeding full tilt. Suddenly a statement bearing all our signatures–Stalin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov, Bukharin, and mine too was published to the effect that we could not conceive of the Politburo without Trotsky! Everyone had signed. It was as if, despite our quarrels with him, he was such a figure that we could not imagine the Politburo without him. It was politics, the times, whatever you will. We were engaged in a very serious ideological struggle yet, at one and the same time, we valued Trotsky so highly!
The time was not yet ripe for an open break. It couldn’t be done. Once the ideological fight was in the open, it was possible to consider how to get rid of Trotsky.
We sent him into exile. And even then we had a lot of trouble with him. While living abroad he actually called for terror…. As long as imperialism’s alive, there will be many such swine.
IVANOVICH, SHOTA: “We shouldn’t have any!”
What do you mean, we shouldn’t have any? It’s absolutely unavoidable, inescapable.
IVANOVICH, SHOTA: “Well then, we’re fighting badly against them.”
That’s true…. We should be considered guilty insofar as we fought badly. You see, we didn’t put an end to all these swine.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 136
SHORT SUMMARY OF EVENTS BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER TROTSKY’S EXPULSION
Their were sharp hostilities at the party meetings of April and July, 1926. The Rights, such as the shadow Premier, Rykov, were all for Stalin. The Opposition was branded as “a gang of European adventurers.” In the heat of the debate, Dzerzhinsky, the head of the OGPU, delivered a most passionate speech on the threat to the Party, and died directly afterwards. Zinoviev was suspended from functioning as President of the Third International. In October 1926, Trotsky, at meetings of workers, openly poured his invective on the Government and was forbidden to speak in public. Zinoviev tried to recover his hold over Leningrad, but failed. The Opposition now half recanted to save the unity of the Party, but Trotsky was struck out of the Politburo and Zinoviev out of the Third International. In July, 1927, Trotsky returned to the attack with a violent denunciation of Stalin on the Central Committee of the Party. He was now actively engaged in intensive underground work of the kind which he had conducted against the Tsar. He organized groups of “fives,” with a secret code and local branches. He and Zinoviev were now expelled from the Central Committee. He was allowed to put his case at a plenary meeting, but was boo’ed. In November, at the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Communist Revolution, he got up demonstrations in the streets. He was now formally expelled from the Party, and sent into exile on the Asiatic frontier at Alma Ata, probably in the hope that he would take this, the easiest, way out of Russia, and thus finally discredit himself as having joined the emigration. This he had no intention of doing. Kamenev and Zinoviev recanted humbly again and were exiled to various places. The Opposition carried the war outside Russia, publishing its case in the German Flag of Communism, and appealed to the Third International (the Comintern) for readmission. The Communist leaders still hesitated to go to all lengths, and finally, as Trotsky did not go and was still active, he was taken to the western frontier and pushed over it, still demanding that it should be recorded that he went against his will.
He continued the fight with energy and acrimony from abroad, whether in Turkey, Sweden, or Mexico. He knew all the ruses of conspiracy. It was only like a resumption of the old fight against the Czar from outside. There is no need to doubt that widespread roots of his organization remained in Russia. After all, he had had an outstanding prestige among the elder Bolsheviks.
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 142
That was in January, 1928. Trotsky kept up a large correspondence with his friends and adherents all the year. He still remained the head of the opposition faction in Russia, gave it advice and encouraged its development. Stalin’s answer to that was to withhold all further mail addressed to him. In December an agent of the GPU visited him bearing an ultimatum: either he must stop directing the opposition or measures would be taken to isolate him from political life.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 104
WHEN EXILED TO TURKEY THE GPU TREATED TROTSKY LIKE ROYALTY
The sequel to the disembarkation was almost farcical. From the pier Trotsky and his family were taken straight to the Soviet Consulate in Constantinople. Although he had been branded as a political offender and counter-revolutionary, he was received with the honors due to the leader of October and the creator of the Red Army. A wing of the Consulate was reserved for him. The officials, some of whom had served under him in the civil war, seemed eager to make him feel at home. The GPU men behaved as if they meant to honor the pledge that they would protect his life. They met all his wishes. They went on errands for him. They accompanied Natalya [Trotsky’s wife] and Lyova on trips to the city, while he stayed at the Consulate. They took care to unload and transport his bulky archives brought from Alma-Ata, without even trying to check their contents….
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 5
BUKHARIN DENOUNCES HIS PAST ACTS AND ALL FACTIONS
Bukharin stated at the Central Committee plenum of Jan. 7-12, 1933, “Both our internal and external situation is such that this iron discipline must not under any circumstances be relaxed…. That is why such factions must be hacked off without the slightest mercy, without being in the slightest troubled by any sentimental considerations concerning the past, concerning personal friendships, relationships, concerning respect for person as such, and so forth. These are all totally abstract formulations, which cannot serve the interests of an army that is storming the fortress of the enemy.”
…He continues, “I do not want to hide in the bushes and I shall not. If one were to analyze the source of all those divergent views that have led to serious incidents within the party, and if one were to speak of the degree of guilt, then my guilt before the party, before its leaders, its Central Committee, before the working-class, and before the country–this guilt of mine is heavier than that of any of my former like-minded comrades, for I was to a large extent the ideological purveyor of a host of formulations which gradually gave birth to a definite rightist-opportunistic conception. This responsibility, comrades, I shall not shirk. I shall not shift my responsibility onto someone else,…”
He concludes, “This is how the matter stands: we must march onward, shoulder to shoulder, in battle formation, sweeping aside all vacillations with the utmost Bolshevik ruthlessness, hacking off all factions, which can only serve to reflect vacillations within the country–because our party is one and indivisible….
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 96
STALIN PROCLAIMS VICTORY AT THE 1934 CONGRESS
At this Congress, however, there is nothing to prove and, it seems, no one to fight. Everyone sees that the line of the party has triumphed–Stalin, 1934.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 103
…Indeed, former oppositionists Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky, and others were allowed to speak to the Congress of 1934 in order to demonstrate a new party unity that Stalin proclaimed.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 128
Stalin said in his speech to the 17th Party Congress on Jan. 28, 1934, “At this Congress, however, there is nothing to prove and, it seems, no one to fight. Everyone sees that the line of the party has triumphed.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 130
In consequence the 17th Congress of the Communist Party, held in January 1934 with 2000 delegates representing almost 3 million members and candidates, was an all-round triumph for Stalin. With the exception of Trotsky, impotent in exile, all the old Oppositionists had now returned to the Party fold, and to make the occasion complete, the later Opposition Troika–Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky– ate humble pie once more in the most abject terms. The Congress was informed that the gap between the First and Second Plans had been bridged, and that it was now proposed to make a capital investment of 133 billion rubles–as compared with 60 billion for the First Plan–in the Second Five-Year program. Small wonder that the Moscow press called this the “Congress of Victors” and proudly proclaimed that the Soviet ship of state had come at last to fair water after many perils and storms.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 208
The Congress that took place in February 1934 became known… as the “Congress of Victors”….
He [Stalin] laid special emphasis on the fact that, in the three years or so since the previous congress, industrial output had doubled. New branches of industry had been created: machine-tool construction, automobiles, tractors, chemicals. Engines, aircraft, combines, synthetic rubber, nitrate, artificial fibers were now being manufactured in the USSR. He announced proudly that thousands of new enterprises had been commissioned, including such to gigantic projects as the Dnieper Hydroelectric project, the Magnitogorsk and Kuznets sites, the Urals truck-building plant, the Chelyabinsk tractor plant, the Kramatorsk auto plant and so on. No previous report of his had ever contained so many facts and figures, tables and plans. He had something to tell the Congress.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 193
The 17th Party Congress is known in history as the “Congress of Victors.”
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 320
STALIN WAS NOT SIGNIFICANTLY OPPOSED AT THE 17TH PARTY CONGRESS
CHUEV: I have a question about the 17th Party Congress. Is it true that Stalin received fewer votes than Kirov at the elections to the Central Committee?
MOLOTOV: No. How can they say such things?…
…I am sure that at every election to the Central Committee, one our two votes went against Stalin. Enemies were always present…. Kirov was unsuitable as a speaker of the highest rank. He was one of several secretaries, a tremendous speaker at mass meetings, but that’s it. Kirov reported everything to Stalin, in detail. I believe that Kirov acted correctly.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 218
Similarly, the belief that 282 delegates (or sometimes 123 or 125 or 2-4 or 5-6 or 3, depending on the rumor) voted against Stalin at the 17th Party Congress in 1934 has been questioned by recent research. A special investigation by Central Committee staff in 1989 concluded that 166 ballots were indeed missing, but because the numbers of ballots printed and delegates voting are unknown, “it is impossible definitely to confirm” how many, if any, voted against Stalin. A 1960 investigation concluded that 166 delegates simply “did not take part in the voting.”
[Footnote]: The whole story about votes against Stalin comes from a single testimony, that of Verkhovykh in 1960. Other 1934 congress participants have contradicted his claim. Anastas Mikoyan’s “confirmation” of the rigged voting is hardly that; he reports rumors he heard in the 1950s, although he was present at the 1934 Congress.
…Continued release of documents from the 1930s may also weaken the tradition of writing history by anecdote.
Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 141
[Footnote]: The evidence on the number of ballots cast against Stalin in the election of the Central Committee is unsatisfactory. Both Medvedev and Antonov-Ovseenko make reference to the testimony of a supposed member of the election commission of the 17th Party Congress, Verkhovykh. At least it can be confirmed from the published record of the Congress that he was a delegate and hence eligible to serve on this commission. Depending on which account you prefer, he said that there were either 270 or 292 votes against Stalin. But Antonov-Ovseenko elaborates on this report in such a way as to undermine the credibility of whatever source leaked information to the dissident historians.
First, he maintains that Verkhovykh, in oral testimony, recalled that the correct number was not 292, but 289.
Second, and more important, he claims that Verkhovykh refused to give an official inquiry any written statement.
Finally, and most unsettling, Antonov-Ovseenko describes the alleged refusal of another supposed member of the electoral commission in 1934 to acknowledge that there were more than ‘two or three’ votes against Stalin. Apart from these numbers, the trouble with this story is that the person in question, one Napoleon Andriasian, could not have served on the mandate commission of the Congress of 1934 because, according to the record of that event, he was not a delegate.
Another version of Stalin’s alleged troubles with this election maintains that he was elected only because the Central Committee was expanded at the last minute. This must be incorrect, because the size of the Committee was in fact unchanged with respect to full (not candidate) numbers.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 359
EVERYBODY SUPPORTED STALIN AT THE 17TH CONGRESS
The victory of the General Line at the 17th Congress was demonstrated by the return of defeated oppositionists to party life, provided they publicly accepted the Stalin line. Many of them, including Zinoviev, Kamenev, Preobrazhensky, Pyatakov, and Bukharin, addressed the congress itself. Although several of them were greeted with catcalls and interruptions from the floor, the fact that they spoke at the congress at all indicated a relatively “soft” attitude on the part of the regime toward the oppositionists, at least in early 1934.
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 17
I can at least answer for myself. I spent two years in the Pioneers, six years in the Komsomol, 16 years in the Party. For 15 years I belonged to the Corps of Officers of the armed forces, for ten of them I was a leading Party member and a senior reader of a Moscow Academy of the highest rank…. The sense of insecurity of the Party man is far greater than that of the non-Party man.
I attended the [1934 17th Party] Congress as a visitor. I recall how Postyshev, the Chairman, called on Bukharin to speak, and how Stalin stared at Bukharin with parted lips as if wondering what he would say….
All the outstanding oppositionists were prevailed upon to attend. Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky, Preobrazhensky, Lominadze, Kamenev–all were there.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 231
And in fact all his former opponents spoke [at the 17th Party Congress in February 1934], admitting they had been wrong, praising him enthusiastically, and promising total support for the party line: Zinoviev and Kamenev; Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky; Pyatakov, Radek, Lominadze… Kamenev, in the typical tone of the defeated factions, spoke of the Ryutinites as ‘kulak scum’ who had needed ‘more tangible’ rebuttal than mere ideological argument.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 177
Some of the erstwhile oppositionists were elected to the leading organs [at the 17th Party Congress]: Pyatakov, full member; Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky, alternates in the Central Committee. The Congress laughed with, as much as at, Radek, currently an authoritative journalistic spokesman on foreign affairs, when he recounted that he had been cured of Trotskyism.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 374
BUKHARIN MAKES A COMPLETE CAPITULATION AT THE 17TH PARTY CONGRESS
In January 1934 the 17th Party Congress was held in Moscow. There Bukharin finally capitulated completely to Stalin. His lengthy speech included the following statements:
“It is clear that the “Rights,” of whom I was one, had a different political line, a line opposed to the all-out socialist offensive, opposed to the attack by storm on the capitalist elements that our party was beginning. It is clear that this line proposed a different pace of development, that it was in fact opposed to accelerated industrialization, that it was opposed to…the liquidation of the kulaks as a class, that it was opposed to the reorganization of small peasant agriculture…that it was opposed to the entire new stage of a broad socialist offensive, completely failing to understand the historical necessity of that offensive and drawing political conclusions that could not have been interpreted in any way other than as anti-Leninist…. It is clear, further, that the victory of this deviation inevitably would have unleashed a third force and that it would have weakened the position of the working-class…. It would have led to intervention before we were ready…and, consequently, to the restoration of capitalism as the combined result of the aggravated domestic and international situation, with the forces of the proletariat weakened and the unleashing of anti-proletarian, counter-revolutionary forces…. It is clear, further, that Comrade Stalin was completely right when he brilliantly applied Marxist-Leninist dialectics to thoroughly smash a whole series of theoretical postulates advanced by the right deviation and formulated mostly by myself.”
This capitulation did not go unnoticed. Although Bukharin was chosen at the Congress only as a candidate member of the Central Committee, this demotion was accompanied by a return to active political and journalistic activity. In February 1934 Bukharin was appointed editor-in-chief of Izvestia, the second most important Soviet newspaper.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 320
AT THE 17TH PARTY CONGRESS OPPOSITION LEADERS ADMIT THEIR ERRORS
Still worse blows to the opposition were dealt by Zinoviev, a man who had been twice or thrice already in exile and who had recently dubbed Stalin “a traitor to the cause of Lenin.” Here was Zinoviev whose slavish conduct later enabled the Stalinists to catch hundreds, if not thousands, of brave oppositionists, the Zinoviev of whom since then no normal anti-Stalinist can think without scorn and loathing. Why, it was only two months earlier that, shaking his clenched fists before his face, he had preached to others on the vital need to struggle with courage against Stalin, Molotov, and Kirov, and here he was, a pitiable sight, all fear and trembling, doing his very utmost to please the master. “Comrades,” he said, “if I have decided to mount the tribune of the 17th Congress of the Party–this world tribune in the truest sense, the tribune of the world proletariat–and it the Comrades had allowed me to do so, I trust it is because I have ended completely, utterly, with the anti-Party period of my life, the period of my alienation from the Party in which I spent many years. I have, as I trust and believe, understood to the full and to the utmost the tremendous errors I have made. I actually had the arrogance to try to foist my own particular view of Leninism on the Party, my own particular understanding of what I call the philosophy of the period…. However, I now see that this was a chain of errors, and that had the Party not shown due resistance to these errors, we would have brought the country to the very edge of catastrophe and destruction…” This renegade then proceeded to glorify his enemy Stalin…. Comrades, what countless attacks on Comrade Stalin were made by myself and by other former oppositionists! Comrades, I have understood that this was all the most profound of errors.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 232
Still worse was the capitulation of Kamenev, one of Lenin’s closest associates, a member of the Politburo and second only to Zinoviev as the leader of the opposition. “While Comrade Stalin,” declared Kamenev “the most deserving of Lenin’s pupils, took over his work, and with set teeth, rejecting all hesitation, bore aloft the banner wrenched by death from Lenin’s hands, the group to which I belonged immediately gave in, was shaken in its fate, and thereafter stubbornly and insistently tried to force its own erroneous views on the Party. We then started on a course which was bound to bring us to counter-revolution…. But the Orthodox intolerance and the perspicacious sense of ideals of Comrade Stalin saved both Party and country. From this tribune I wish to declare that I consider the Kamenev who from 1925 to 1933 struggled against the Party and the Party leadership to be a political corpse, and that I wish to go forward without dragging its old hide behind me.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 233
Yet another opposition leader, Preobrazhensky, the principal theoretician of the Trotskyists, who in 1927 had organized an anti-Stalin demonstration in Moscow and shouted such slogans as “long-live Trotsky, down was Stalin!,” made literally the following Declaration from the tribune: “Now that I have sufficiently recognized all my errors, I tell myself: Vote with Comrade Stalin and you will not be wrong!”
And Rykov, who had succeeded Lenin as Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, and who in 1928, together with Bukharin and Tomsky, had headed the Right-wing Deviation, the one of all the inner -Party deviations which was the most dangerous to Stalin, Rykov mounted the tribune and said: “The rout of the Right-wing Deviation, which was headed by myself and Bukharin, was absolutely essential for the Leninist-Stalinist rallying of the Party…. The rout of the Right-wing Deviation, achieved by Comrade Stalin, constitutes a part of the great deed that brought us to those triumphs of which their organizer, the leader of our Party, Comrade Stalin, has given us a survey…. After the death of Lenin, Comrade Stalin, immediately and without any delay, stood out as the leader, as an organizer of enormous power…”
Even Bukharin, the most consistent and stubborn of the oppositionists, actually went so far as to call a toast in honor of the “Glorious Field-Marshal of the forces of the proletariat, the finest among the finest, Comrade Stalin.”
There was only one of the principal leaders of the Right-wing Deviation– Smirnov, an old Bolshevik–who had stood up to the preliminary processing. He alone continued to charge Stalin, Kirov, and Molotov with the creation of a “barrack regime, worse than the regime of Nicholas the First.” He alone remained true to the end and not only did not capitulate at the Congress of the Reactionaries, but even refused to be present,…
The considerable “Army” of rank and file Party members who disagreed with Stalin suddenly found itself abandoned by its officers; worse than this, the officers had crossed over to the other side. Declarations of loyalty to Stalin became the order of the day.
…By the summer of 1934,… my friends brought messages from our comrades in Leningrad, the center of the strongest underground movement, urging us to continue the struggle. Our Moscow comrades, however, were pessimistic and inclined to panic; they wished all branches to dissolve it once and wait for “better times.”
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 234-235
By now the old men of the opposition had long been not only defeated but spiritually broken. Even the indomitable Rakovsky, former Ukrainian Premier and Ambassador in London and Paris, who had held out in exile and prison longer than the others, surrendered and returned to Moscow in 1934. Like all the other penitents he, too, signed a statement containing as much flattery of Stalin as self-accusation. The gist of all such statements was that Stalin’s conduct of policy was the only correct one, and that any of the courses advocated by the oppositions would inevitably have brought disaster. The ‘capitulators’ did not admit yet that they had striven towards a restoration of capitalism. Nor were admissions to that effect demanded from them. The gravamen of their self-accusations was that their policies, if adopted, would have, against their best intentions, exposed the country to the danger of capitalist restoration.
…Their recantations were therefore neither wholly sincere nor wholly insincere. On returning from the places of their exile they cultivated their old political friendships and contacts, but carefully refrained from any political action against Stalin. Almost till the middle of the 30s nearly all of them kept in touch with the members of his new Politburo. Some of the penitents, Bukharin, Rykov, Pyatakov, Radek, and others, were either Stalin’s personal advisers or members of the Government.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 351
[At the 17th Party Congress in January 1934] former oppositionists were allowed to speak: Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky, Preobrazhensky, Pyatakov, Radek, and Lominadze.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 31
According to an extract from Mikoyan’s diary published in 1987, Kirov met “only with hostility and vengefulness toward the whole Congress and of course toward Kirov himself.”
…Among figures from the past allowed to speak and express their complete conversion to Stalinist orthodoxy were Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky, Preobrazhensky, Pyatakov, Radek, and Lominadze. Some were even allowed to become members (Pyatakov) or alternates (Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky) of the Central Committee. Kamenev’s recantation set the tone for all:
“I want to say from this tribune that I consider the Kamenev who fought the party between 1925 and 1933 to be dead and I don’t want to go on dragging that old corpse after me….”
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 301
BALLOT WERE NOT DELIBERATELY LOST IN THE 1934 CONGRESS VOTING
Although one of the 1960 special commissions charged with investigating the Kirov assassination looked into the archives, it concluded that 166 delegates simply “did not take part in the voting.” In 1989, there was another investigation into the 1934 voting that found that other surviving members of the ballot counting commission had contradicted Verkhovykh’s [a ballot counting official who said in 1960 that 125 or 123 delegates voted against Stalin. He said that the embarrassing ballots were destroyed, and that the other members of the ballot commission knew of the destruction and falsification of the results] story even back in 1960. They would have known of such a ballot discrepancy, and it was presumably safe for them to reveal the story in the first heyday of anti-Stalinism, but none of the other participants would confirm it. The 1989 investigation concluded that 166 ballots were indeed missing, but because the number of original paper ballots is unknown, “it is impossible definitely to confirm” how many may have voted against Stalin. The evidence is still inconclusive;…
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 46
STALIN COMPLIMENTED BY OTHERS AT THE 1934 CONGRESS
What did these former members of the Politburo and pupils of Lenin say at the congress [of 1934]?
Bukharin, the party’s ex-favorite and theorist:
“By his brilliant application of Marx-Lenin dialectics, Stalin was entirely correct when he smashed a whole series of theoretical premises of the right deviation which had been formulated above all by myself…. It is the duty of every party member to rally around Comrade Stalin as the personal embodiment of the mind and will of the party, as its leader, it’s theoretical and practical leader.”
Zinoviev, having been defeated again and again, was now once more a party member:
“We now know that in the struggle which Comrade Stalin conducted on an exclusively high level of principle, on an exclusively high theoretical level, we know that in that struggle there was not the least hint of anything personal.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 197
OLD OPPOSITIONISTS PUT ON THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE AT THE 17TH PARTY CONGRESS
[At the 17th Party Congress in January 1934] a Central Committee was elected, consisting almost solely of Stalinist veterans of the intra-Party struggle, but including Pyatakov among its full members and Sokolnikov, Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky among its candidates.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 33
STALIN CRITICIZES HIMSELF AND HIS ALLIES FOR PUTTING TOO MUCH TRUST IN RECANTATIONS
After he then told about testimony recently received from Pyatakov, Radek and Sosnovsky, Stalin declared: “Believe after this in people’s sincerity!…. We came to the conclusion: you cannot take a single former oppositionist at his word…. And the events of the last two years have shown this clearly, because it has been shown in deed that sincerity is a relative concept. And when it comes to trusting former oppositionists, then we have shown them so much trust…. We should be punished for the maximum trust for the unbounded trust, that we offered them.”
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 102
MEDVEDEV SAYS BAZHANOV LIED ABOUT STALIN CHEATING IN THE CONGRESS VOTING
Bazhanov’s new book is rich in invented material of this kind. To give one further example, he maintains that after each Party Congress Stalin’s aid, Tovstukha, carefully examined all the ballot papers used for the secret ballot elections to the Central Committee. Tovstukha could identify those who struck out Stalin’s name from their handwriting and was then able to compile lists of Stalin’s enemies who would have to be destroyed when the proper time came. But in this instance Bazhanov shows complete ignorance of the voting procedure at Party congresses. Those who struck out a name on the ballot paper were not obliged (as Bazhanov states) to write down the name of some other candidate. Therefore a handwriting expert would have no way of knowing who threw which paper into the voting urn. Sitting in his office, Tovstukha was not in a position to draw up lists of all those who spoke against Stalin at Party meetings during the years of struggle with the Opposition.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 35
TROTSKYITE EASTMAN UNDERMINED TROTSKY
The battle over the construction of the Dnieper station played a far less important role in Trotsky’s political destiny, however, than did the Eastman affair. The Eastman affair grew out of a book published in the West by Max Eastman, an American Communist and journalist. Eastman had traveled to Russia numerous times, knew Russian, was married to a Russian woman, and was thus able to gather a great deal of material about the struggle within the Soviet political leadership during the last months of Lenin’s life and following his death. Eastman met several times with Trotsky and was his ardent supporter. In Eastman’s betrayal, Trotsky was one of the few true leaders of the Russian Revolution, who, after its culmination, fell victim to the scheming of unprincipled Kremlin intriguers.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 69
After the appearance of Eastman’s book, Trotsky found himself in a difficult situation. Almost immediately the heads of several Western Communist parties addressed inquiries to him, asking whether the facts reported by Eastman about Trotsky’s persecution corresponded with reality. Submitting to party discipline (because the facts cited by Eastman were considered secret), Trotsky was forced to answer that Eastman was lying. But this meant that Trotsky himself was now lying, because much of what Eastman wrote was the truth. Initially, wishing to extract himself from an unpleasant situation with the least damage, Trotsky tried to simply offer several general rebuttals. Stalin, who had a vested interest in this incident, however, decided to publicize it as widely as possible and to exploit it vigorously to discredit Trotsky. On June 17, 1925, Stalin sent the following lengthy memorandum:
“TO ALL MEMBERS AND CANDIDATES OF THE POLITBURO AND PRESIDIUM OF THE CENTRAL CONTROL COMMISSION
On May 8th of this year, the Politburo received a statement from Comrade Trotsky addressed to ‘Comrade Verney at the periodical Sunday Worker in reply to Eric Verney’s inquiry about a book by Eastman, Since Lenin Died. Published and widely quoted in the bourgeois press, Since Lenin Died depicts Comrade Trotsky as a ‘victim of intrigue,’ and readers of the book are given to understand that Trotsky regards [bourgeois] democracy and free trade in a favorable light. In view of this presentation, Verney asked Comrade Trotsky to provide an explanation that would be published in the Sunday Worker.
Comrade Trotsky’s statement, as is known, was printed in Pravda, on May 9, 1925.
I personally paid no attention to Comrade Trotsky’s statement at the time because I had no notion of the nature of Eastman’s book.
On May 9, 1925, Comrade Trotsky received an inquiry from the Central Committee of the British Communist Party signed by Comrade Inkpin in connection with Eastman’s book. Inkpin asked Comrade Trotsky to make a statement concerning Eastman book, because “the enemies of the Communist International in our country exploit your position in relation to the Russian Communist party’.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 70
Here is the full text of the letter from Inkpin:
May 9, 1925. To Comrade Trotsky.
“Dear Comrade Trotsky! The Central Committee of the British party has assigned me to send you the attached copy of the book by Max Eastman, Since Lenin Died, and the issues of the New Leader, Lansbury’s Weekly, and the Labor Magazine containing reviews of the book. These reviews will show you how enemies of the Communist International in our country exploit your position in relation to the Russian Communist Party.
Our Central Committee considers that it would be very useful if you would write and send an answer to these reviewers. Such an article would be of good service to the Communist movement in our country, and we for our part would do everything possible to give it the widest publicity. With Communist greetings, General Secretary Inkpin.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 71
Comrade Trotsky wrote the following letter in reply to Inkpin’s letter:
“Dear Comrade Inkpin: Your letter of May 9 was evidently written before my answer to the inquiry from the Sunday Worker was received in London.
My brochure: “Where Is England Headed?” will be, I hope, a sufficient reply to all the attempts of the Fabian pacifists, the parliamentary careerists, the Philistines, and McDonalds to use various events in our party as proof of the advantage of reformism over communism and of democracy over the dictatorship of the proletariat.
As soon as my brochure is received by the Central Committee of our party, I will not delay in sending you the manuscript.
With Communist greetings, L. Trotsky. May 21, 1925.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 71
At the same time, Comrade Trotsky’s sent to the Politburo in care of Comrade Stalin a letter dated May 19, 1925, wherein Comrade Trotsky, without providing a direct reply to the questions raised by Comrade Inkpin, attempts to get by with a reference to his brochure ‘Where Is England Headed?’ which has no relationship to Comrade Inkpin’s inquiry.
Here is the text of Comrade Trotsky’s letter:
“To Comrade Stalin. Dear Comrade! In order to avoid any misunderstandings whatsoever, I consider it necessary to provide you with the following information regarding the English book by Max Eastman, (I have just received this book and have managed to leaf through it quickly).”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 71
“In a private conversation, I told you that for half a year I have not received any Comintern documents. In particular, I have no idea whatsoever what the ‘inquiry’ Treint raised about me involves. To this day I do not know why Rosmer and Monatte were expelled from the party, I do not know what their disagreements are with the party, and I do not know what they are publishing or even whether they are publishing anything at all.”
With Communist greetings. L. Trotsky, Moscow, May 19, 1925.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 73
“I became acquainted with Eastman as an American Communist at one of the first international congresses of the Comintern.
Three or four years ago, Eastman asked for my assistance in writing my biography. I refused, suggesting that he do some other work of more general interest. Eastman replied in a letter in which he argued that the American worker would become interested in communism not in response to the expounding of theory or history but in response to a biographical story; he and other American writers wanted to fashion a weapon of Communist propaganda out of the biographies of several Russian revolutionaries. Eastman asked me to give him the necessary facts and subsequently to review the manuscript. I replied that in view of his explanation I did not feel I could refuse to tell him the necessary facts, but I definitely refused to read the manuscript and thus accept direct or indirect responsibility for the biography.
Subsequently I gave Eastman information relating to the first 22 years of my life, before I arrived in London in 1902. I know that he visited my relatives and schoolmates and collected information about that same era. These materials are what gave him, apparently, the opportunity to write the book Lev Trotsky: Portrait of a Youth, the announcement of which is printed on the cover of the book Since Stalin Died.
The last time I saw Eastman must and been more than a year and a half ago; I lost track of him altogether after that. I had no notion of his intention to write a book devoted to the discussion in our party. And even he, of course, did not have this intention during that period when he met with me to collect facts about my youth.
It goes without saying that he could not have received any party documents from me or through me. Eastman, however, did speak and write Russian well, had many friends in our party, was married to a Russian Communist, as I was recently told, and consequently had free access to all our party literature, including, evidently, those documents that were sent to local organizations, distributed to members of the 13th Party Congress, etc. I have not verified whether he has cited these documents accurately or from rumor.
The press of the British Mensheviks is trying to use Eastman’s book against communism (the secretary of the British Communist Party sent me, along with Eastman’s book, three issues of Menshevik-type publications that included articles about that book). Meanwhile, my telegram was supposed to appear in the Sunday Worker (there is mention of this in the Daily Herald). I think that my pamphlet ‘Where Is England Headed?’ will be quite timely under these circumstances and will dispel many illusions and much gossip spread by the Menshevik and bourgeois press. I intend to do an appropriate supplement for the English edition.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 72
“Only after this letter from Comrade Trotsky and only because Comrade Trotsky stubbornly refused to reply directly to Comrade Inkpin’s questions about the Eastman book did it become clear to me [Stalin] that I had to familiarize myself immediately with the contents of that book.
Acquaintance with Eastman’s book convinced me that this book was not written naively, that its purpose is to discredit the government of the USSR and the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party, and that for these purposes Eastman indulges in a whole range of slanders and distortions, referring to Trotsky’s authority and to his ‘friendship’ with Trotsky and to some secret documents that have not yet been published. I was particularly surprised by Eastman’s statements concerning his ‘chats’ with Comrade Trotsky about Lenin’s so-called testament and about the ‘main figures in the Central Committee,’ and also by his statement that the authenticity of [his text of] Lenin’s so-called testament was confirmed by’ three responsible Communists in Russia,’ whom ‘I [that is, Eastman) interviewed separately and who had all recently read the letter and committed its most vital phrases to memory.
For me it became clear that, given everything I had just related, it would be not only intolerable but outright criminal to hush up the question of Comrade Trotsky’s relationship with Eastman and his book Since Lenin Died.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 73
“In view of that, after discussing the matter with the secretaries of the Central Committee, I ordered Eastman’s book translated into Russian and sent the translation to Politburo members and candidates for their review.
I was also moved to act because, meanwhile, all and sundry bourgeois and social democratic parties have already begun to use the Eastman book in the foreign press against the Russian Communist Party and Soviet rule: they take advantage of the fact that in their campaign against the leaders of the Soviet government they can now rely on the ‘testimonies’ of the ‘Communist’ Eastman, a ‘friend’ of Comrade Trotsky who has ‘chats’ with him, to the effect that Russia is ruled by an irresponsible bunch of usurpers and deceivers.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Eastman’s book is libelous, that it will prove enormously profitable to the world counterrevolution (and has already done so!), and that it will cause serious damage to the entire world revolutionary movement.
That is why I think that Comrade Trotsky, on whom Eastman occasionally claims to rely in his book when speaking against the leaders of the Russian Communist Party and the Soviet revolutionary authority, cannot pass over Eastman’s book in silence.
I’m now thinking at present of proposing to Comrade Trotsky that he substantively respond in the press to the fundamental issues covered in Eastman’s book, which are the fundamental questions of our disputes as well. Let the party and the International judge who is right and whose political position is correct, the position of the Central Committee or the position of Comrade Trotsky.
But certain minimum obligations rest on party members; a member of the Central Committee and Politburo, such as Comrade Trotsky is at this moment, has a certain minimum moral duty that Comrade Trotsky cannot and should not refuse. This minimum requires that Comrade Trotsky speak out in the press unequivocally against the crude distortions of facts that are known to everyone, distortions permitted in Eastman’s book for the purpose of discrediting the Russian Communist party. Obviously the silence of Comrade Trotsky in this case may be construed only as a confirmation or an excuse for these distortions.
I think that Comrade Trotsky should rebut at least the following distortions:
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 74
1) In the section, ‘Attacking the Old Guard,’ Eastman’s little book says that ‘Trotsky’s letter [the reference is to an appeal to the local committees in 1923 in connection with the Politburo’s resolution on internal party democracy–Stalin] and some supplementary articles in pamphlet form were practically suppressed by the Politburo’ .
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 74
Further, in chapter 9 of Eastman’s book, it says that ‘Trotsky’s book [the reference is to volume three of Trotsky’s works and Lessons of October–Stalin] was practically suppressed by the Politburo until they [that is, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party–Stalin] were sure of the success of their maneuver’ [80-81].
Finally, chapter 14 of Eastman’s book says that ‘Trotsky’s true texts do not appear in public to refute their [that is, the Central Committee’s–Stalin] statements. These texts are read privately, conscientiously, by those minds who have the courage and penetration to resist the universal official hysteria stimulated and supported by the State’ . I think that Comrade Trotsky should refute these statements by Eastman as malicious slander against the party and the Soviet government. Comrade Trotsky cannot help but know that neither during the party discussions of 1923 or 1924, nor at any time whatsoever, did the Central Committee obstruct the printing of Comrade Trotsky’s articles and books in any way.
In particular, Comrade Trotsky must recall that during the 1923 discussion he himself refused in his well-known statement in the press to reply to the arguments of representatives of the party majority. He must also remember the following statement ‘From the editors’ of Pravda, the central party organ:
‘From the editors. In reply to the question posed by a number of comrades concerning why Comrade Trotsky is not responding to the criticism of Trotskyism, the editors of Pravda report that so far neither Comrade Trotsky nor his close supporters have submitted any articles in response to the criticism of Trotskyism’ (see Pravda, December 13, 1924).
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 75
2) The second chapter of Eastman’s book speaks of the Russian Communist Party leaders as ‘suppressing the writings of Lenin himself,’  and in chapter 9 it says that they, that is, the party leaders, ‘clapped the censorship on his [that is, Lenin’s–Stalin] own last words to his party’ .
I think that Comrade Trotsky should also refute these statements by Eastman as a lie and as libel against the leaders of the party, the Central Committee, and its Politburo. Trotsky knows quite as well as do all other members of the Central Committee that Eastman’s reports do not correspond with reality to the slightest degree.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 75
3) In the second chapter of his book, Eastman states that ‘all those present at the meeting, including the secretaries, were not only against the policies proposed by Lenin, but they were against the publication of the article’  [the reference is to Lenin’s article ‘How We Should Reorganize Rabkrin–Stalin].
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 75
I think that Comrade Trotsky should also refute this statement by Eastman as an obvious slander. He cannot help but recall, first, that Lenin’s plan as set forth in his article was not discussed substantively at this time; second, that the Politburo was convened in connection with the statements in Lenin’s article about the possible schism in the Central Committee–statements that could have provoked misunderstanding in the party organizations. Comrade Trotsky could not help but know that the Politburo then decided to send to party organizations, in addition to Lenin’s printed article, a special letter from the Orgburo and the Politburo of the Central Committee stating that the article should not provide grounds for any perception of a schism in the Central Committee. Comrade Trotsky must know that the decision to publish Lenin’s article immediately, and to send a letter from the members of the Orgburo and Politburo about the absence of a schism within the Central Committee, was passed unanimously; any notion that the Politburo’s decision on the publication of Lenin’s article was passed under pressure from Comrade Trotsky is a ridiculous absurdity.
Here is the text of the letter:
Letter to the Provincial and Regional Committees.
Dear Comrades, Pravda No. 16 of January 25 carries Lenin’s article ‘How We Should Reorganize Rabkrin.’ One part of this article speaks about the role of the Central Committee of our party in the need to take organizational measures that will eliminate the prospect of, or make as difficult as possible, a schism in the Central Committee if mutual relations between the proletariat and the peasantry become complicated in connection with the changes ensuing from NEP. Some comrades have directed the Politburo’s attention to the fact that the comrades in the provinces may view this article by Comrade Lenin as an indication of a recent internal schism within the Central Committee that has prompted Comrade Lenin to advance the organizational proposals outlined in this article. In order to eliminate the possibility of such conclusions–which do not at all correspond with the real state of affairs–the Politburo and the Orgburo consider it necessary to notify the provincial committees of the circumstances surrounding the writing of Comrade Lenin’s article.
The return of Comrade Lenin to highly pressured work after his illness led to exhaustion. The doctors pronounced it necessary to prescribe for Comrade Lenin a certain period of absolute rest without even reading newspapers (since for Comrade Lenin reading newspapers is, of course, not entertainment or a means of relaxation but an occasion for intense contemplation of all the current political issues). It goes without saying that Comrade Lenin does not take part in the Politburo sessions, and he is not even sent–again, in strict accordance with his doctors’ advice–the transcripts of the sessions of the Politburo and the Orgburo. The doctors believe, however, that because complete mental inactivity is intolerable for him, Comrade Lenin should be allowed to keep something like a journal, in which he notes his thoughts on various issues; when authorized by Comrade Lenin himself, moreover, a portion of this journal may appear in the press. These external conditions underlying the writing of ‘How We Should Reorganize Rabkrin’ demonstrate that the proposals contained in this article are suggested not by any complications inside the Central Committee but by Comrade Lenin’s general views on the difficulties that will face the party in the coming historical epoch.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 76
In this strictly informational letter we will not consider the possible long-range dangers that Comrade Lenin appropriately raised in his article. The members of the Politburo and Orgburo, however, wish to state with complete unanimity, in order to avoid any possible misunderstandings, that in the work of the Central Committee there are absolutely no circumstances that would provide any basis whatsoever for fears of a ‘schism.’
This explanation is provided in the form of a strictly secret letter, rather than being published in the press, to avoid giving enemies the opportunity to cause confusion and agitation through false reports about the state of Comrade Lenin’s health. The Central Committee has no doubt that if anyone in the provinces has drawn the alarming conclusions noted in the beginning of this letter from the article by Comrade Lenin, the provincial committees will not delay in correctly orienting the party organizations.
Available Members of the Politburo and Orgburo of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party:
Andreev, Molotov, Bukharin, Rykov, Dzerzhinsky, Stalin, Kalinin, Tomsky, Kamenev, Trotsky, Kuibyshev, Moscow, January 27, 1923.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 77
4) Chapter 3 of Eastman’s book talks about Lenin’s ‘Testament.’
“One of the most solemn and carefully weighed utterances that ever came from Lenin’s pen was suppressed–in the interests of ‘Leninism’–by that triumvirate of ‘old Bolsheviks,’ Stalin, Zinoviev, and Kamenev…. They decided that it might be read and explained privately to the delegates–kept within the bureaucracy, that is to say,–but not put before the party for discussion, as Lenin directed’ [28-29].’
I think that Comrade Trotsky should also refute this statement by Eastman as a malicious slander. First of all, he cannot help but know that Lenin’s ‘testament’ was sent to the Central Committee for the exclusive use to the Party Congress; second, that neither Lenin nor Comrade Krupskaya ‘demanded’ or in any way proposed to make the ‘testament’ a subject of ‘discussion before the entire Party’; third, that the ‘testament’ was read to all the delegations to the Congress without exception, that is, to all the members of the Congress without exception; fourth, that when the Congress presidium asked the Congress as a whole whether the ‘testament’ was known to all the members of the Congress and whether any discussion of it was required, the presidium received the reply that the ‘testament’ was known to all and that there was no need to discuss it; fifth, that neither Trotsky nor any other member of the Congress made any protest about possible irregularities at the Congress; sixth, that by virtue of this, to speak of suppressing the ‘testament’ means to slander maliciously the Central Committee and the 13th Party Congress.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 78
5) The second chapter of Eastman’s book says that the ‘article [the reference is to Lenin’s article on the nationalities question–Stalin] which Lenin considered of ‘leading importance,’ and which he designed to have read at a party convention, but which constituted a direct attack upon the authority of Stalin, and a corresponding endorsement of the authority of Trotsky, was not read at the party convention, the triumvirate deciding that it was for the welfare of the party to suppress it .
I think that Comrade Trotsky should also refute this statement by Eastman as clearly libelous. He must know, first, that Lenin’s article was read by all members of the Congress without exception, as stated at a full meeting of the Congress; second, that none other than Comrade Stalin himself proposed the publication of Lenin’s article, having stated on April 16, 1923, in a document known to all members of the Central Committee, that ‘Comrade Lenin’s article ought to be published in the press’; third, that Lenin’s article on the nationalities issue was not published in the press only because the Central Committee could not fail to take into consideration that Lenin’s sister, Maria, who had Lenin’s article in her possession, did not consider it possible to publish it in the press. Comrade Fotieva, Lenin’s personal secretary, states this in a special document dated April 19, 1923, in reply to Stalin’s proposal to print the article: ‘Maria [Lenin’s sister–Stalin] has made a statement,’ writes Comrade Fotieva, ‘to the effect that since there was no direct order from Lenin to publish this article, it cannot be printed, and she considers it possible only to have the members of the Congress familiarize themselves with it….’ and, in fact, Comrade Fotieva adds that ‘Vladimir Ilyich did not consider this article to be finished and prepared for the press’; fourth, that Eastman’s statement that the Congress was not informed of Lenin’s article therefore slanders the party.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 78
6] In the second chapter of his book, Eastman, among other things, writes the following about Lenin’s ‘testament’: ‘There is no mystery about my possession of this and the foregoing information; it is all contained in official documents stolen by the counter-revolutionists and published in Russian, at Berlin, in the Socialist Herald’ .
Here Eastman once again distorts the truth. Not Lenin’s ‘testament’ but a malicious distortion of it was published in The Socialist Herald.
I think that Comrade Trotsky should make a declaration about this distortion.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 79
7) In the second chapter of Eastman’s book, Comrade Kuibyshev is incorrectly portrayed as an opponent of Lenin’s plan set out in the article about the Worker-Peasant Inspection: ‘The degree to which the policies outlined by Lenin have been followed may be inferred from the fact that Kuibyshev…is now the People’s Commissioner of Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, and the head of the Central Control Committee of the party’ .
In other words, it seems that when the Central Committee and the Party Congress appointed Kuibyshev commissar of Worker-Peasant Inspection and chairman of the Central Control Commission, they intended not to implement Lenin’s plan but to sabotage it and cause it to fail.
I think that Comrade Trotsky should also make a declaration against this libelous statement about the party, for he must know that, first, Lenin’s Plan, developed in the article about the Worker-Peasant Inspection, was passed by the 12th Party Congress; second, Comrade Kuibyshev was and remains a supporter and promoter of this plan; third, Comrade Kuibyshev was elected chairman of the Central Control Commission at the 12th Congress (re-elected at the 13th Congress) in the presence of Comrade Trotsky and without any objections on the part of Comrade Trotsky or other members of the Congress; fourth, Comrade Kuibyshev was appointed head of Worker-Peasant Inspection at the Central Committee plenum of April 26, 1923, in the presence of Comrade Trotsky and without any objections on his part.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 79
8) Eastman states in the first chapter of his book: ‘When Lenin fell sick and was compelled to withdraw from the Government, he turned again to Trotsky and asked him to take his place as President of the Soviet of People’s Commissars and of the Council of Labor and Defense’ .
Eastman repeats the same thing in the second chapter of his book: ‘He [that is, Comrade Trotsky–Stalin] declined Lenin’s proposal that he should become head of the Soviet Government, and thus of the revolutionary movement of the world’ .
I do not think that this statement by Eastman, which, by the way, does not correspond at all to reality, could harm the Soviet government in any way. Nevertheless, because of Eastman’s crude distortion of the facts on a matter concerning Comrade Trotsky, Comrade Trotsky ought to speak out against this undeniable distortion as well. Comrade Trotsky must know that Lenin proposed to him, not the post of chairman of the Council of Commissars and the Labour Defense Council, but the post of one of the four deputies of the chairman of the Council of Commissars and Labour Defense Council, having in mind already two deputies of his own who had been previously appointed, Comrades Rykov and Tsiurupa, and intending to nominate a third deputy of his own, Comrade Kamenev. Here is the corresponding document signed by Lenin:
To the Secretary of the Central Committee, Comrade Stalin. Since Comrade Rykov was given a vacation before the return of Tsiurupa (he is expected to arrive on September 20), and the doctors are promising me (of course, only in the event that nothing bad happens) a return to work (at first very limited) by October 1, I think that it is impossible to burden Comrade Tsiurupa with all the ongoing work, and I propose appointing two more deputies (deputy to the chairman of the Council of Commissars and deputy to the chairman of the Labour Defense Council), that is, Comrades Trotsky and Kamenev. Distribute the work between them with my clearance and, of course, with the Politburo as the highest authority. September 11, 1922. Vladimir Ulianov (Lenin).
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 80
Comrade Trotsky must be aware that there were no other offers then or now from Comrade Lenin regarding his appointment to the leadership of the Council of Commissars or the Labour Defense Council. Comrade Trotsky thus turned down, not the post of chairman of the Council of Commissars or the Labour Defense Council, but the post of one of the four deputies of the chairman. Comrade Trotsky must be aware that the Politburo voted on Lenin’s proposal as follows: those in favor of Lenin’s proposal were Stalin, Rykov, Kalinin; those who abstained were Tomsky, Kamenev; and Comrade Trotsky ‘categorically refused’; (Zinoviev was absent). Comrade Trotsky must be aware that the Politburo passed the following resolution on this matter: ‘The Central Committee Politburo with regret notes the categorical refusal of Comrade Trotsky and proposes to Comrade Kamenev that he assume the fulfillment of the duties of deputy until the return of Comrade Tsiurupa.’
The distortions condoned by Eastman, as you can see, are glaring. These are in my opinion, the eight indisputable points, Eastman’s crudest distortions that Comrade Trotsky is obliged to refute if he does not wish to justify through his silence Eastman’s slanderous and objectively counter-revolutionary attacks against the party and the Soviet government.
In connection with this, I submit the following proposal to the Politburo:
PROPOSE TO COMRADE TROTSKY THAT HE DISASSOCIATE HIMSELF DECISIVELY FROM EASTMAN AND MAKE A STATEMENT FOR THE PRESS WITH A CATEGORICAL REBUTTAL OF AT LEAST THOSE DISTORTIONS THAT WERE OUTLINED IN THE ABOVE-MENTIONED EIGHT POINTS.
As for the general political profile of Mr. Eastman, who still calls himself a Communist, it hardly differs in any way from the profile of other enemies of the RCP [Russian Communist party] and the Soviet government. In his book he characterizes the RCP Congress as nothing but a ‘ruthless’ and ‘callous bureaucracy,’ the Central Committee of the party as a ‘band of deceivers’ and “usurpers,’ the Lenin levy (in which 200,000 proletarians joined the party) as a bureaucratic maneuver by the Central Committee against the opposition, and the Red Army as a conglomerate ‘broken into separate pieces’ and ‘lacking defense capability,’ and these facts clearly tell us that in his attacks against the Russian proletariat and its government, against the party of this proletariat and its Central Committee, Eastman has outdone run-of-the-mill counter-revolutionaries and the well-known charlatans of White Guardism. No one, except the charlatans of the counter-revolution, has ever spoken of the RCP and the Soviet government in such language as the ‘friend’ of Comrade Trotsky, the ‘Communist’ Eastman, permits himself. There is no question that the American Communist Party and the Third International will properly evaluate these outstanding exploits of Mr. Eastman.”
Stated by Stalin on June 17, 1925.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 81
The following day, June 18, the Politburo affirmed Stalin’s proposal about Trotsky’s statement of rebuttal in the press. Trotsky himself promised that within three days he would submit the text of his statement. On June 22, Trotsky in fact sent Stalin material entitled “On Eastman’s Book ‘Since Lenin Died’.” Without citing any accusations, Stalin replied with a brief note:
“If you are interested in my opinion, I personally consider the draft completely unsatisfactory. To do not understand how you could submit such a draft regarding the counter-revolutionary book by Eastman, filled with lies and slander against the party, after you accepted a moral obligation at the Politburo session of June 18 to disassociate yourself resolutely from Eastman and to rebut categorically the factual distortions.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 82
In an appeal to the Politburo, Trotsky tried to defend himself, attempting to prove that Stalin’s accusations were nonsense. After meeting the usual rebuff, however, he began to revise the text of his statement for the press. Oversight of his revision was assumed by Bukharin, Zinoviev, Rykov, and Stalin. They demanded from Trotsky harsher accusations against Eastman and a categorical denial of the facts cited in Eastman’s book. Trotsky conceded to all demands. The final text of his statement, which had satisfied the censors from the “seven,” was ready by July 1, 1925.
Now Stalin and his supporters decided to take the affair outside the framework of the Politburo by first briefing a broad circle of Party functionaries about it and then publicizing it generally. In early July, Central Committee members Kaganovich, Chubar, and Petrovsky submitted a statement that contained a request that “all members of the Central Committee be sent all materials on the publication of Eastman’s book” and that members of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party be briefed. On 7 July 1925 after a poll of Politburo members, this request was fulfilled. The materials on the Eastman affair were typeset, published in the form of a small book (containing Stalin’s letter, the Politburo’s resolutions, Trotsky’s correspondence with Stalin and with other members of the Politburo, and drafts of Trotsky’s statement), and sent to Central Committee members. But Stalin had further plans to publish, both in the West and later in the USSR, the following documents: Trotsky’s statement, a letter specially prepared by Krupskaya, in which she, as Lenin’s widow, refutes Eastman, and the letter from Stalin himself that demonstrates his role in the struggle for Party interests. But these plans, to which Stalin repeatedly referred in his letters to Molotov, were never fully realized.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 82
Soon after the materials on the affair were sent to Central Committee members, Trotsky had occasion to take the offensive. On 16 July 1925 the French Communist newspaper, L’Humanite, published the original version of Trotsky’s statement. On 27 July, Trotsky addressed a letter to Bukharin, who at that time was acting as chairman of the Comintern’s Executive Committee. Trotsky expressed his puzzlement and protest over the French publication and demanded that the circumstances of the leak be investigated, hinting that publication had deliberately been arranged even after he, Trotsky, had made all the necessary concessions and had demonstrated his readiness to co-operate with the Politburo majority in defending the party’s interests. That day, after a poll of Politburo members, the following resolution was passed:
a) To request L’Humanite to publish [a notice] that the text of Comrade Trotsky’s letter regarding Eastman’s book that appeared in L’Humanite is incomplete and distorted.
b) To request L’Humanite to publish the full (final) text of Comrade Trotsky’s letter about Eastman’s book.
Bukharin, in turn, ordered an investigation into the circumstances of the incident and informed Trotsky of this decision.
Soon it became clear that the original version of Trotsky’s article had been given to L’Humanite by Manuilskii, a member of the Comintern’s Executive Committee presidium, during his trip to France. The documents that remain do not enable us to determine the real circumstances behind Manuilskii’s initiative. Nevertheless, as can be seen from the published letters, Stalin was involved in this conflict, and he was even forced to deny categorically that Manuilskii had acted in concert with him.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 83
As the letters testify, Stalin was also unable to get the “seven” to agree to publish his own letter. The affair ended in a compromise. Only Trotsky’s and Krupskaya’s statements were published, first abroad, then in the USSR (in the journal Bolshevik, 1925, No. 16). As for the documents on the Eastman affair, it was decided that only a relatively small group of party officials should see them. After attaining the approval of the “seven,’ on 27 August 1925 the Politburo decided to turn over all materials on the Eastman book to the Comintern’s Executive Committee so it could “brief the central committees of the most important Communist parties.’ The Politburo also sent the documents, along with Eastman’s book itself, to all the party’s provincial committees and to members and candidate members of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission; these items were given the status of a restricted distribution letter. At Trotsky’s insistence, the correspondence concerning the L’Humanite incident was included in the package of documents sent to the Comintern’s Executive Committee.
The publication and dissemination of documents on the Eastman affair had highly unfortunate consequences for Trotsky. Once again, to the mass of party bureaucrats at various levels, he appeared humbled and defeated, hanging his head before Stalin. The rank-and-file party members, especially his supporters, were shocked at Trotsky’s recantation in Bolshevik. By declaring Eastman a slanderer, Trotsky seemed to be withdrawing from further struggle, disallowing his former accusations against the party leadership. Furthermore, by denying many well-known facts, Trotsky looked like a liar. “It’s terrible, simply terrible! It’s incomprehensible why Lev Davidovitch [Trotsky] would do that. Surely he has put his head on the block with such a letter. He has made himself despicable….” [Stated by Valentinov (Volsky) in The New Economic Policy and the party crisis after Lenin’s death, Moscow, 1991, page 295]. Trotsky himself was loath to recall this episode of his political biography.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 84
In an August 1925 letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “Kamenev and Zinoviev want to establish the preconditions for making Trotsky’s removal from the Central Committee necessary, but they will not succeed in this because they don’t have supporting facts. In his answer to Eastman’s book Trotsky determined his fate, that is, he saved himself.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 94
TROTSKY ATTACKS OTHER COMMENTS BY EASTMAN
In a 1925 letter regarding Lenin’s testament Trotsky said, “Eastman’s assertions that the Central Committee confiscated or in some way held up my pamphlets in 1923 or 1924 or at any other time are false and based on fantastical rumors.
Also completely incorrect is Eastman’s assertion that Lenin offered me the post of chairman of the Council of Commissars or of the Labor Defense Council. I learned of this for the first time from Eastman’s pamphlet.
No doubt a more attentive reading of the book would uncover a number of other inaccuracies and errors, but there’s hardly any need to do this. Using Eastman’s information and citing his conclusions, the bourgeois and especially the Menshevik press have tried in every way to emphasize his “closeness’ to me as the author of my biography and his “friendship” with me, clearly trying by this indirect means to give his conclusions a weight they do not and could not have on their own. It is therefore necessary to dwell on this matter. Perhaps the best way of showing the real nature of my relationship with Eastman is to quote a business letter I wrote before there was any talk of his book Since Lenin Died.
During my stay in Sukhumi, I received from a party Comrade who is involved in publishing my works in Moscow a manuscript by Eastman entitled Lev Trotsky: Portrait of a Youth. From my associate’s accompanying letter, I learned that the author had submitted this manuscript to the State Publishing House so they can consider publishing a Russian edition…. I replied to this letter on April 3, 1925, even before becoming acquainted with Eastman’s manuscript, I am in complete agreement with you that it would be absolutely inappropriate to publish it. Thank you for sending the manuscript, but I have no stomach for reading it. I’m quite willing to believe that it is unappetizing, especially to our Russian Communist state…. I responded to Eastman’s repeated requests for help with the following words: I’m willing to help by providing you with accurate information, but I cannot agree to read your manuscript…. Ask him not to publish the book as a personal favor. I’m not close enough to him to make that request.
…the tone of my letter leaves no room for doubt that my relationship to Eastman differs in no way from my relationship to very many Communists or “sympathetic foreigners’ who turn to me for help in trying…to learn about the October Revolution, our party, and the Soviet state–certainly no closer.
With vulgar self-assurance, Eastman waxes ironic about my “quixotic’ attitude to my closest comrades on the Central Committee, since according to him I referred to them in friendly fashion [even] during the “fierce discussion.’ Eastman, evidently, feels called upon to correct my “mistake” and gives a description of the leaders of our party that is impossible to describe as anything other than slander.
We saw earlier how rotten is the foundation on which Eastman has constructed his edifice. With a scandalous disregard for facts and for proportion, he uses individual aspects of the intra-party discussion in order to blacken our party’s name and destroy confidence in it. It seems to me, however, that any really serious and thoughtful reader does not even need to verify Eastman’s citations and his “documents’–something, in any event, that not everyone can do. It is sufficient to ask oneself this simple question: if the malicious evaluation of the leaders of our party given by Eastman is true even in part, then how could such a party have gone through long years of underground struggle, carried out a great revolution, led masses many millions strong, and aided in the formation of revolutionary parties in other countries? Not one honorable worker will believe the picture given by Eastman. It contains its own internal contradiction. It makes no difference what Eastman’s own intentions are. His book can be of service only to the most malicious enemies of communism and the revolution, and is therefore, objectively speaking, a tool of counter-revolution.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 246-47
During 1925 Trotsky held himself aloof from party politics. He did not speak at the 14th Party Congress and watched with apparent contempt the efforts of Zinoviev and Kamenev to oppose Stalin. The savaging he had suffered in the previous year had hurt him deeply and he had retreated behind a wall of silence. His one public statement, made in September 1925, was mendacious. In a book entitled Since Lenin Died, the American writer Max Eastman, who was a close friend of Trotsky’s, published some extracts from Lenin’s “Testament” and an account of the struggles within the party since Lenin’s death. He had obtained this information from well-informed foreign communists, from party members close to Trotsky, and possibly from Krupskaya or even from Trotsky himself. In an article Trotsky denounced the book and its inside information as false. It was “a slander, to suggest that documents had been concealed from the Central Committee, and “a malicious invention, to allege that Lenin’s “Testament” had been violated.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 212
Now about Lenin’s “will.” The oppositionists shouted here–you heard them–that the Central Committee of the Party “concealed Lenin’s will.” We have discussed this question several times at the plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission, you know that it has been proved again that nobody has concealed anything, that Lenin’s “will” was addressed to the 13th Party Congress, that this “will” was read out at the congress, that the congress unanimously decided not to publish it because, among other things, Lenin himself did not want it to be published and did not ask that it should be published. The opposition knows all this just as well as we do. Nevertheless, it has the audacity to declare that the Central Committee is “concealing” the “will.”
The question of Lenin’s “will” was brought up, if I am not mistaken, as far back as 1924. There is a certain Eastman, a former American Communist who was later expelled from the Party. This gentleman, who mixed with the Trotskyists in Moscow, picked up some rumors and gossip about Lenin’s “will,” went abroad and published a book entitled After Lenin’s Death, in which he did his best to blacken the Party, the Central Committee and the Soviet regime, and the gist of which was that the Central Committee of our Party was “concealing Lenin’s “will.” In view of the fact that this Eastman had at one time been connected with Trotsky, we, the members of the Political Bureau, called upon Trotsky to disassociate himself from Eastman who, clutching at Trotsky and referring to the opposition, had made Trotsky responsible for the slanderous statements against our Party about the “will.” Since the question was so obvious, Trotsky did, indeed, publicly disassociate himself from Eastman in a statement he made in the press. It was published in September 1925 in Bolshevik, No. 16.
Permit me to read the passage in Trotsky’s article in which he deals with the question of whether the Party and its Central Committee was concealing Lenin’s “will” or not. I quote Trotsky’s article:
“In several parts of his book Eastman says that the Central Committee ‘concealed’ from the Party a number of exceptionally important documents written by Lenin in the last period of his life (it is a matter of letters on the national question, the so-called ‘will,’ and others); there can be no other name for this than slander against the Central Committee
of our Party. From what Eastman says it may be inferred that Lenin intended those letters, which bore the character of advice on internal organization, for the press. In point of fact, that is absolutely untrue…. Lenin did not leave any ‘will,’ and the very character of his attitude towards the Party, as well as the character of the Party itself, precluded the possibility of such a ‘will.’ What is usually referred to as a ‘will’ in the emigre and foreign bourgeois and Menshevik press is one of Lenin’s letters containing advice on organizational matters. The 13th Congress of the Party paid the closest attention to that letter, as to all of the others, and drew from it conclusions appropriate to the conditions and circumstances of the time. All talk about concealing or violating a ‘will’ is a malicious invention and is entirely directed against Lenin’s real will, and against the interests of the Party he created.”
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 178-179
KRUPSKAYA ATTACKS EASTMAN
EXCERPT FROM KRUPSKAIA’S LETTER
(translated by the U.S. editor from Bolshevik)
1925, no. 16:71-73 July 1, 1925
The magazine Bolshevik published a letter on July 1, 1925, written by Krupskaya in which she says, “Mr. Eastman writes all sorts of unbelievable nonsense about these letters (calling them a “testament’). Mr. Eastman has no understanding of the spirit of our party….
Lenin’s letters on intra-party relations (the “testament’) were also written for a Party Congress. He knew that the party would understand the motives that dictated this letter. Such a letter could only be addressed to people who would undoubtedly put the interest of the cause first. The letter contained, among other things, personal descriptions of the highest party comrades. There’s no lack of faith expressed in the letters toward these comrades, with whom Lenin worked for many years. On the contrary, there’s much that is flattering–Eastman forgets to mention this. The letters had the aim of helping the other comrades get to work moving in the proper direction, and for that reason, they mention not only virtues but also defects (including Trotsky’s), since it is necessary to take into account these defects when organizing the work of the party collective in the best possible way.
As Lenin wished, all members of the Congress familiarized themselves with the letters. It is incorrect to call them a “testament,’ since Lenin’s Testament in the real sense of the word is incomparably wider….
The enemies of the Russian Communist party are trying to use the “testament’ in order to discredit the present leaders of the party and to discredit the party itself. Mr. Eastman is energetically working to achieve the same purpose: he slanders the Central Committee by shouting that the “testament’ has been suppressed. In this way he tries to inflame an unhealthy curiosity, thus distorting the real meaning of the letter.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 248
RYUTIN IS COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY SCUM
In a September 13, 1930, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “With regard to Riutin… This counter-revolutionary scum should be completely disarmed….”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 215
The document’s (Ryutin Platform) call to “Stalin’s dictatorship” was taken as a call for armed revolt.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 53
Another anti-Stalin group that arose inside the party in the early 30s was the Ryutin group…. This group drafted a lengthy document, known to history as the “Ryutin Platform.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 296
The unpublished memoirs of Alikhanova, who knew Ryutin well, mention that he asserted more than once, among his closest co-thinkers, that the assassination of Stalin was not only possible but actually the only way to get rid of him. The Ryutin group, however, did not make any preparations or attempts to carry out such an assassination.
When Stalin found out about the group through the GPU or his own private informers, he struck quickly…. Stalin insisted on the arrest of the group’s members and demanded that its leaders be shot. The majority of the Politburo, however, did not agree with Stalin. An unwritten law still existed at the time–that excessively severe measures should not be taken against Party activists. The decision was made to expel the “Ryutinites” from the Party, and to exile most of them to remote areas.
Ryutin himself was expelled and arrested first. On Oct. 11, 1932, Pravda published a decree of the Central Control Commission on the expulsion of 20 persons from the party “as degenerate elements who have become enemies of communism and of Soviet power, as traitors to the party and working-class, who tried to form an underground bourgeois-kulak organization under a fake ‘Marxist Leninist’ banner for the purpose of restoring capitalism in general and kulakdom in particular in the USSR.”
… They were all banished from Moscow. Sten, Petrovsky, Uglanov, and Ravich-Cherkassky were expelled from the party for one year. They were given the right “after a year, depending on their conduct, to raise the question of a review of the present decree.”
Many of these people soon “recanted,” were reinstated in the party, and returned to Moscow.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 297
Ryutin also called for a “struggle for the destruction of Stalin’s dictatorship,” which would “give birth to new leaders and heroes.” These words could be taken as advocating terrorism, because there was no sign of an open, organized movement against the government. Stalin could well have interpreted these words as a personal threat.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 17
In 1930 Stalin’s protege, Syrtsov, newly promoted to candidate membership of the Politburo, had to be expelled from his post (though not from the party) for an ‘unprincipled left-right bloc’ with the Georgian Old Bolshevik Lominadze and others: they had complained about the ‘feudal’ approach to the peasantry, and described the new industrial showcases as eyewash.
A far more significant case, especially as regards Stalin himself, came from a lower-level group. Ryutin, who had formerly been a party secretary in Moscow, was in trouble in 1930 for a memorandum arguing that Bukharin had been right as to policy, and Trotsky as to the intolerable regime within the party. He called for the suspension of collectivization, and a return to a rational industrial policy; and he censured Bukharin and his colleagues for their capitulation. Ryutin was arrested, but released for want of any evidence of criminal intent, and even readmitted to the party with a warning. But in 1932 he and a small group issued an ‘Appeal’ to all members of the party, attacking the destruction of the countryside, the collapse of genuine planning, the lawlessness in both the party and the country is a whole, the crushing of opinion, the ruin of the arts, the transformation of the press into ‘a monstrous factory of lies’; it called for the removal of Stalin and his clique as soon as possible, adding that they would not go voluntarily so they would have to be forcibly ejected. (Ryutin is now held up in the Soviet Union as a model of resistance to Stalin, as against the submission of Bukharin and the others.)
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 161
In 1989, it [the Ryutin platform] seems to have been rediscovered, and a summary was printed; it consisted of 13 chapters, four of them attacking Stalin. It is believed to have run to 200 pages, and according to reports later reaching the West the key sentence was “The Right wing has proved correct in the economic field, and Trotsky in his criticism of the regime in the Party.” It censored Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky for their capitulation. It proposed an economic retreat, the reduction of investment in industry, and the liberation of the peasants by freedom to quit the kolkhozes. As a first step in the restoration of democracy in the Party, it urged the immediate readmission of all those expelled, including Trotsky.
It was even more notable for its severe condemnation of Stalin personally. Its 50 pages devoted to this theme called forcefully for his removal from the leadership. It describes Stalin as “the evil genius of the Russian Revolution, who, motivated by a personal desire for power and revenge, brought the Revolution to the verge of ruin….
Ryutin was expelled from the party in September 1930, and arrested six weeks later. However, on January 17, 1931 the 0GPU Collegium acquitted him of criminal intent, and he was released and later restored to Party membership, with a warning.
… Above all, it stated, “Stalin and his clique will not and cannot voluntarily give up their positions, so they must be removed by force.” It added that this should be done “as soon as possible.”
Stalin interpreted the Appeal as a call for his assassination. In the Bukharin-Rykov Trial in 1938, it was to be spoken of at length as “registering the transition to the tactics of over throwing the Soviet power by force; the essential points of the Ryutin platform were a palace coup, terrorism….
On September 23rd, 1932, Ryutin was again expelled the Party and arrested…. it [the 0GPU] referred the question to the Politburo. There Kirov is said to have spoken “with particular force against recourse to the death penalty. Moreover, he succeeded in winning over the Politburo in this view.” Another account says that in addition to Kirov, Ordjonikidze, Kuibyshev, Kossior, Kalinin, and Rudzutak spoke against Stalin, who was only supported by Kaganovich. Even Molotov and Andreyev seemed to have wavered.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 23-24
A joint session of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission took place from September 28, to October 2, 1932. (Zinoviev, Kamenev, and others had already been called before the Presidium of the Control Commission; Zinoviev and Kamenev had expressed regret, but Uglanov is reported “accusing his accusers.”) The Ryutin group were now expelled from the Party “as degenerates who have become enemies of Communism and the Soviet regime, as traitors to the Party and to the working-class, who, under the flag of a spurious ‘Marxism-Leninism,’ have attempted to create a bourgeois-kulak organization for the restoration of capitalism and particularly kulakdom in the USSR.” Ryutin was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, and 29 others to lesser terms.
The plenum passed another resolution “immediately expelling from the Party all who knew of the existence of this counter-revolutionary group, and in particular had read the counter-revolutionary documents and not informed the Central Control Commission and the Central Committee of the All Union Communist Party (Bolshevik), as concealed enemies of the Party and the working-class.” It was signed “Stalin.” Zinoviev and Kamenev, thus again expelled from the Party, were deported to the Urals. Soon afterward, Ivan Smirnov, who on his readmission to the Party had become head of the Gorky Automobile Works, was rearrested and sentenced to 10 years in jail, going to the “isolator” at Suzdal. Smilga received five years, and with Mrachkovsky was sent to Verkhne-Uralsk.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 26
INTERVIEWER: I understand that “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” contains the first account of the so-called Riutin platform. Did you learn about this from Bukharin?
NICOLAEVSKY: I had, of course, known about the platform of Riutin, whom I had met personally in 1918 in Irkutsk, when he was still a Menshevik. I knew that in 1928 he was one of the pillars of the right-wing opposition in the Moscow Committee, which Stalin broke up, and that after he was removed from his post as editor of Krasnaya Zvezda he wrote a long program, the bulk of which dealt with an analysis of the role of Stalin in the life of the Communist Party.
Nicolaevsky, Boris. Power and the Soviet Elite; “The letter of an Old Bolshevik.” New York: Praeger, 1965, p. 11
ZINOVIEV AND KAMENEV EXPELLED AGAIN FOR ACCEPTING THE RYUTIN PLATFORM
By that time [the period when collectivization succeeded in 1932–1933], Zinoviev and Kamenev had started up once again their struggle against the Party line, in particular by supporting the counter-revolutionary program put forward by Riutin in 1931–1932. They were expelled a second time from the Party and exiled to Siberia.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 136 [p. 117 on the NET]
In 1932 Zinoviev and Kamenev were once again expelled from the party for “contacts with the Ryutin group.” They were arrested…. After one more recantation, however, they were freed and readmitted to the party. At the Seventeenth Party Congress (in 1934) they gave speeches confessing their sins.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 179
Following Ryutin’s arrest in September 1932 one of the top bodies of the party, the Control Commission, expelled 20 other members for belonging to a “counter-revolutionary group” led by him. Among those ousted were the former Politburo members and oppositionists Zinoviev and Kamenev, who reportedly had received copies of one of Ryutin’s works but had not informed the authorities.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 17
…During one of Yagoda’s routine visits to Stalin, the master said: ‘Keep an eye on Kamenev. I think he’s tied up with Ryutin. Kamenev is not one to give in so easily. I’ve known him for more than 20 years. He’s an enemy.’ Yagoda did as he was told. Kamenev was arrested in 1934, tried in 1935 and given five years. He was tried again in the same year and this time given 10 years. At the end of 1936, a full stop was put to his case, forever.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 61
In 1932 Zinoviev, Kamenev, and many others were once again expelled from the party and exiled to Siberia. “The greatest political mistake of my life was that I deserted Trotsky in 1927,” Zinoviev now said…. A few months later, however, in May 1933, Zinoviev and Kamenev were, after a new recantation, allowed to return from exile.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 350
Zinoviev and Kamenev were also acquainted with the documents, but neither of them informed the GPU or the Central Committee. They had therefore failed in their duty as Party members to notify the Party and the GPU immediately of oppositional activity….
On September 15, 1932, the “counterrevolutionary” group was arrested by the GPU. Zinoviev and Kamenev were summoned by the Party Control Commission. They were charged with knowing about the group and failing to report it. The commission reminded Kamenev of his conversation with Bukharin and of his alliance with the Trotskyists. The October leaders were expelled from the Party and banished –Kamenev to Minusinsk, Zinoviev to Kustanai. Bukharin was not yet touched.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 274
STALIN DID NOT DEMAND THE DEATH OF RYUTIN
The Politburo Commission’s examination of the Ryutin group did not find any evidence that Stalin demanded their execution in 1932, or that Kirov opposed it.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 44
On 30 September, Riutin was arrested. It is possible that Stalin, supported by Kaganovich, demanded the death penalty for Riutin but the execution of a comrade–a fellow “sword-bearer”–was a dangerous step, resisted by Sergo and Kirov. There is no evidence that it was ever formally discussed– Kirov did not attend Politburo sessions in late September and October. Besides, Stalin would not have proposed such a measure without first canvassing Sergo and Kirov, just as he had in the case of Tukhachevsky in 1930. He probably never proposed it specifically. On 11 October, Riutin was sentenced to 10 years in the camps.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 92
The second case of repression of an unrepentant ‘rightist’ centered on one of Bukharin’s erstwhile supporters in the Moscow party organization, Ryutin. Apparently he had some links to the Syrtsov group, because in October 1930 he was expelled from the party along with two minor figures associated with Syrtsov. Once out of the party Ryutin enjoyed no immunity to police action and was exiled to some remote place. Here he had the contumacy to write and smuggle out a ‘platform’, which circulated secretly in the party in Moscow and other cities. Supposedly this was a long document, sharply critical of Stalin as an individual. The boss, must have found it highly objectionable, for it was suppressed so thoroughly that no copy reached the West at the time, nor has it turned up in any post-Stalin scholarship, dissident or official. When the identity of the author was discovered, Ryutin was sent to jail–one of the ‘isolators’ in which troublesome Trotskyists resided. According to a leading Emigre Menshevik Kremlinologist of the 1930s, Boris Nicolaevsky, Stalin asked the Politburo to authorize Ryutin’s execution, arguing that the illegal platform was tantamount to a call for the assassination of Stalin. Perhaps. Nicolaevsky later said that his information came largely from Bukharin, who saw Nicolaevsky in the course of a visit to Western Europe in 1936. But Nicolaevsky admitted that he mixed in material from other sources, and one wonders how well-informed Bukharin was on such sensitive details as conversations in the Politburo, from which he had been expelled in 1929.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 145
KEY MEMBERS SUPPORTED THE RYUTIN PLATFORM
Smirnov had been proposed as the leading Secretary of the Party in 1922, just before the job went to Stalin. After being exiled with the other Trotskyites in 1927, he had recanted but, during the Ryutin period, had spoken approvingly of the proposals to remove Stalin and had been in jail ever since.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 84
He [Rykov] went on to describe the supposed Rightist underground which arose after 1930. He then came to the Ryutin platform–which, he said, he, Tomsky, Bukharin, Schmidt, and Uglanov had been responsible for. Ryutin had merely fronted for them, and Yagoda’s protection had saved the main culprits.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 354
INTERVIEWER: Didn’t Stalin know of Bukharin’s ideas? If so, why didn’t he take measures against him?
NICOLAEVSKY: Bukharin was not physically molested at this time [circa 1936]. He was only worked over, so to speak, in the press and at all sorts of meetings. The Communist Academy was even forced to conduct a special discussion devoted to unmasking his deviation, … He was, for example, accused of being in favor of war. But no action was taken against him.
Nicolaevsky, Boris. Power and the Soviet Elite; “The letter of an Old Bolshevik.” New York : Praeger, 1965, p. 19
A Trotskyist who was in jail then maintains that Ryutin and some associates were tried and imprisoned at this time, but official publications show that they 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. The same resolution was also relatively mild in merely reprimanding Rykov and Tomsky, who supposedly had been in touch with this group. Once again, the majority in the Politburo and Central Committee seems to have opposed harsh sanctions.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York : New York University Press, 1988, p. 146
RYUTIN ACTUALLY WROTE WORDS OF SUPPORT FOR STALIN
A warm spell. The trial of the young Party members who had supported Ryutin ended with light sentences. Ryutin himself wrote to his wife from prison in November 1933 that “only in the USSR, under the leadership of a great genius like our beloved Stalin, have such unprecedented successes in socialist construction been achieved.”
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 298
4 thoughts on “Opposition”