J. V. Stalin
Source: Works, Vol. 8, January-November, 1926, pp. 217-219
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
I have read today your article in Pravda (No. 232, October 8, 1926). It is a good article, in my opinion. But there is one passage in it that is wrong and spoils the whole picture.
You write that only a year ago Trotsky “was stressing that the proletariat need have no doubt whatever that in our technically backward country we can build socialism, that we can with our own internal forces ensure the victorious advance of the socialist elements of our economy along the lines of NEP.” Further, you counterpose this statement to Smilga’s thesis that “in our technically backward country it is impossible to completely build socialism,” and you assert that Smilga and Trotsky contradict each other on this point.
That, of course, is not true, since there is no contradiction here.
In the first place, Trotsky has so far never said—neither in his pamphlet Towards Socialism or Capitalism? nor in his subsequent writings—that in our technically backward country we can completely build socialism. Building socialism and completely building socialism are two different things. Neither Zinoviev nor Kamenev deny, or ever have denied, that we can begin to build socialism in our country, for it would be sheer idiocy to deny the obvious fact that socialism is being built in our country. But they emphatically repudiate the thesis that we can completely build socialism. On this point Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Smilga and the rest are united by their denial of Lenin’s thesis that we can completely build socialism, that we have “all that is necessary for building a complete socialist society.”1 They are united by their belief that “building a complete socialist society” would be possible only in the event of the victory of the socialist revolution in the major countries of Europe. Hence, it is quite incorrect to counterpose Trotsky to Smilga as regards the question of completely building socialism in our country.
In the second place, accuracy requires it to be said that Trotsky has never stated that “in our technically backward country . . . we can with our own internal forces ensure the victorious advance of the socialist elements of our economy along the lines of NEP.” Trotsky’s phrase about the “historical music of growing socialism” is an empty diplomatic evasion of an affirmative answer to the question about victoriously building socialism in our country. Trotsky is here evading the question, and you take his evasion at its face value. That other phrase of Trotsky’s—that “there can be no grounds for fearing any surprises in so far as the internal factors of our economy are concerned”—is no answer to the question but slurs over it in a cowardly way. Trotsky may say that we are moving towards socialism. But he has never said, and will not say so long as he adheres to his present position, that we “can with our own internal forces ensure the victorious advance of the socialist elements of our economy along the lines of NEP,” that we can, consequently, arrive at socialism without the preliminary victory of socialism in the foremost European countries. On the other hand, Trotsky has repeatedly said the opposite of what you ascribe to him. Recall, for instance, his speech at the April plenum of the Central Committee (1926), where he denied the possibility in our country of that economic advance which is essential for the victorious building of socialism.
It follows, therefore, that you have inadvertently whitewashed Trotsky; you have, so to speak, libelled him.
October 8, 1926
1. See V. I. Lenin Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 33, p. 428.