Tony Cliff

Trotsky: Fighting the rising Stalinist bureaucracy

10. The penultimate episode of the United Opposition

THE CHINESE events gave a fillip to the United Opposition. After the Opposition’s winter hibernation of 1926-7, Chiang Kai-shek’s massacre of the Shanghai workers gave it a nasty jolt.

Shortly after the massacre a statement was issued called the Declaration of the Eighty Four. It was signed by 84 leading members of the Opposition and circulated on the eve of the Eighth Enlarged Plenum of the ECCI which opened on 18 May 1927. The Declaration was open for further signatures throughout the summer. According to an Opposition letter to the Politburo of 18 October 1927, 863 additional signatures were obtained. Kamenev at the Fifteenth Party Congress (December 1927) claimed ‘about 3,000 signatures’. The idea of collecting signatures widely for the Declaration, Trotsky explained in a letter of 12 July 1927, came from one of the leaders of the Opposition who held an ambassadorial post abroad (either Krestinsky or Antonov-Ovseenko) and was proposed as a measure of self-protection. [1]

Until the Declaration of the Eighty Four the Opposition failed to get a hearing for its criticism of the Stalin-Bukharin policy in China – none of its statements or protests were published [1*], and the Politburo and Central Committee had refused to convene a special meeting to discuss the question.

The Declaration marked a change from the Opposition’s October 1926 renunciation of factional activity and marked a new effort to win influence in the rank and file of the party.

The Declaration sharply criticised not only the Stalin-Bukharin policy in China but also the Anglo-Russian Committee. The issue of this Committee had become intertwined with the question of the Chinese revolution when the General Council of the TUC supported the British navy’s bombardment of Nanking in March 1927. Despite this, the Soviet leaders refused to withdraw from the Anglo-Russian Committee. In April representatives of the Soviet trade unions, in a meeting with representatives of the British trade unions in Berlin, reiterated their support of the Anglo-Russian Committee even though the British unions refused to back the CP call for a ‘Hands Off China’ campaign. On 12 May British police raided the Soviet trade mission in London and launched an anti-Communist witch hunt.

The Declaration of the Eighty Four connected the wrong policies of the Stalin-Bukharin leadership in China and Britain with the internal policies of the same leadership in Russia in the fields of peasant policy, industrialisation, wages policy, housing, employment etc.

To overcome the wrong policies of the leadership it was crucial to achieve democracy in the party, the Declaration stated:

The fundamental prerequisites for solving the problems facing the party at present ... is the revival of democracy within the party and reinforcement of the real, living, and effective links between the party and the working class. [5]

On 24 May Trotsky addressed the ECCI. He had to begin with a protest against the Executive’s treatment of Zinoviev, its former President; now he was not even admitted to the session. Trotsky spoke of the ‘intellectual weakness, the lack of certainty in their own position’, which led Stalin and Bukharin to conceal from the International the thesis of the Opposition on China.

Here in Moscow every expression of opinion, oral or written, in favour of the Opposition on the basic problems of the Chinese revolution is treated as a crime against the party.

The ECCI should publish its own proceedings: ‘The problems of the Chinese revolution cannot be stuck into a bottle and sealed up.’ The bureaucratic regime that suppressed democracy in the Russian party also,

weighs heavily on the International. One does not trust himself to speak a word of criticism openly, on the false pretence of not wanting to harm the Soviet Union. But that is exactly how the greatest harm is done. [6]

The Chinese experience proved this. Bukharin and Stalin were concerned only with self justification, covering up their disastrous mistakes. On 5 April, i.e., a week before Chiang Kai-shek’s coup in Shanghai, Stalin boasted at a party meeting in Moscow that ‘we will use the Chinese bourgeoisie and then toss it away like a squeezed-out lemon’. Trotsky commented: ‘The stenogram of this speech by Stalin was never made public, because a few days later the squeezed-out lemon seized power and the army.’

Soviet advisers and Comintern envoys, especially Borodin, behaved as if they represented some sort of,

Kuomintern; they hindered the independent policy of the proletariat, its independent organisation, and especially its armament ... Heaven forbid, with arms in hand the proletariat would frighten the great spectre of the national revolution, hovering over all the classes ... The Communist Party of China has been a shackled party in the past period. It did not have so much as its own newspaper. Imagine what this means in general and especially in revolution! Why has it not had, and has not yet to this day, its own daily paper? Because the Kuomintang does not want it ... This means to disarm the proletariat politically. [7]

Chiang Kai-shek’s coup in Shanghai spurred the Opposition into action. Trotsky writes in his autobiography: ‘A wave of excitement swept over the party. The Opposition raised its head’. [8] Many in the Opposition were under the illusion that the events in China would bring the Opposition to power in the Russian Communist Party. Trotsky, cool-headed and realistic, had to disabuse them, as we have shown.

Stalin uses war scare against the Opposition

While the ECCI was in session the tension between Britain and the Soviet Union reached a critical point, and the British Government broke off relations with Russia. Stalin said to the ECCI:

I must state, comrades, that Trotsky has chosen for his attacks ... an all too inopportune moment. I have just received the news that the English Conservative government has resolved to break off relations with the USSR. There is no need to prove that what is intended is a wholesale crusade against communism. The crusade has already started. Some threaten the party with war and intervention; others with a split. There comes into being something like a united front from Chamberlain to Trotsky ... You need not doubt that we shall be able to break up this new front. [9]

The war scare served to justify further repression of the Opposition. Krupskaya’s reasoning was typical. In the previous years she had supported the Opposition in its effort to draw attention to certain dangers. Now she dissociated herself from it: ‘The Soviet Union is menaced by armed aggression, and in these conditions ... it is essential that our Party be a united whole, and that the masses which surround it also close their ranks.’ [10]

Intensifying his attack, Stalin sent many Opposition leaders abroad, on the pretext that they were needed for various diplomatic missions.

Krestinsky was in Berlin; Rakovsky was sent to Paris as Soviet ambassador to France, where Piatakov, Preobrazhensky and Vladimir Kossior were also posted as trade representatives; Kamenev was made an ambassador to Italy for a time, and with him was the Oppositionist Avilov-Glebov; Antonov-Ovseenko and Kanatchikov were the Soviet representatives in Prague; Ufimtsev and Semashko in Vienna; Kopp in Stockholm; Mdivani in Tehran; Ausen in Constantinople and Kraevsky in Latin America. [11] Practically all the other signatories to the Declaration of the Eighty Four were demoted, and on the pretext of administrative appointments, moved to remote provinces.

It was such an administrative transfer that caused a significant incident. On 9 June Ivar Smilga was ordered to leave Moscow and to take up a post at Khabarovsk on the Manchurian frontier. The leader of the Baltic fleet in the October revolution, a distinguished political commissar in the civil war and an economist, Smilga was one of the most respected and popular leaders of the Zinovievite faction.

Smilga was seen off at the Yaroslav station in Moscow by thousands of Oppositionists. Both Trotsky and Zinoviev made speeches. This was the first public manifestation the Opposition made against Stalin. Arising out of it, the ruling group charged Trotsky and Zinoviev with carrying inner-party issues outside the party.

Many hundreds of Oppositionists who were present at the Yaroslav station were expelled from the party. The ruling group connected this expulsion with the threat of foreign war facing the Soviet Union. The excitement around the demonstration at the Yaroslav station lasted throughout the summer.

Trotsky and Zinoviev were brought before the Praesidium of the Central Control Commission on two charges: (1) making a factional speech at the Plenum of the ECCI; (2) participating in the farewell demonstration over Smilga at Yaroslav station.

Defendant Trotsky turns prosecutor

Trotsky appeared before the Praesidium of the Central Control Commission on 24 July. Here he gave one of his most brilliant speeches. [12] He replied briefly to the two formal charges laid against him. He denied the right of the Central Control Commission to sit in judgment over him for a speech he had delivered before the Executive of the International. He would similarly deny ‘a District Control Commission the right to sit in judgment upon me for any speech I may have made as a member of the Central Committee of the party’.

As to the second charge, the farewell demonstration for Smilga, the ruling group denied that it had intended to penalise Smilga by sending him to Khabarovsk:

If Smilga was sent, as a matter of normal procedure, to work in Khabarovsk, then you cannot dare claim that our collective farewell was a demonstration against the Central Committee. However, if this is an administrative exile of a comrade, who is at the present moment needed at responsible posts, that is, at fighting Soviet posts, then you are duping the party.

The accusations were mere pretexts. The ruling group was determined ‘to hound the Opposition and to prepare for its physical annihilation’. The war scare was produced in order to intimidate and silence critics.

We declare that we shall continue to criticise the Stalinist regime so long as you do not physically seal our lips. Until you clamp a gag on our mouths we shall continue to criticise this Stalinist regime which will otherwise undermine all the conquests of the October revolution ... We will continue to criticise the Stalinist regime as a worthless regime, a regime of backsliding, an ideologically emasculated, narrow-minded and short-sighted regime.

The Opposition had nothing in common with those old-time patriots for whom Tsar and Fatherland were one. They were accused of aiding the British Tories. In fact it was Stalin and Bukharin with their Anglo-Russian Committee policy who aided Chamberlain’s foreign policy, including the rupturing of relations with the Soviet Union.

You have told the workers of the world, and above all our Moscow workers, that in the event of war the Anglo-Russian Committee would be the organising centre of the struggle against imperialism. But we have said and still say that in the event of war the Anglo-Russian Committee will be a ready-made trench for all the turncoats of the breed of the false, halfway friends of the Soviet Union, and for all the deserters to the camp of the enemies of the Soviet Union. Thomas gives open support to Chamberlain. But Purcell supports Thomas, and that is the main thing. Thomas maintains himself upon the support of the Capitalists. Purcell maintains himself by deceiving the masses and lends Thomas his support. And you are lending support to Purcell. You accuse us of giving support to Chamberlain. No! It is you yourselves who are linked up with Chamberlain through your Right wing. It is you who stand in a common front with Purcell who supports Thomas and, together with the latter, Chamberlain. That is the verdict of a political analysis and not a charge based on calumny.

At party cells official agitators asked suggestive questions ‘worthy of the Black Hundreds’ about the sources from which the Opposition obtained means for carrying on with its activity.

If you were really a Central Control Commission, you would be duty-bound to put an end to this dirty, abominable, contemptible and purely Stalinist campaign against the Opposition.

If the ruling group genuinely cared for the security of the country they would not have dismissed the best military workers, Smilga, Mrachkovsky, Lashevich, Bakaev and Muralov, only because they belonged to the Opposition.

Trotsky went on to assault the ‘theory of socialism in one country’ which reflected the rising bureaucracy which in its turn reflected the strengthening of the power of the kulaks and NEPmen and the decline in social weight of the proletariat.

Trotsky ended his speech with a recollection of the experience of the French revolution and the Thermidorean reaction to it.

He started by referring to a conversation between Soltz, an old and respected Bolshevik chairing the meeting, and one of the adherents of the Opposition.

‘What does the Declaration of 84 mean?’ said Soltz. ‘What does it lead to? You know the history of the French Revolution – and to what this led: to arrests and to the guillotine.’ Comrade Vorobiev, with whom comrade Soltz was talking, asked him, ‘So then, is it your intention to guillotine us?’ To which Soltz replied by going into a lengthy explanation, ‘In your opinion, wasn’t Robespierre sorry for Danton when sending him to the guillotine? And then Robespierre had to go himself ... Do you think he was not sorry? Sure he was, but he had to do it ...’

Trotsky goes on:

During the Great French Revolution, many were guillotined. We, too, had many people brought before the firing squad. But in the Great French Revolution there were two great chapters, of which one went like this [points upward] and the other like that [points downward]. When the chapter headed like this [upwards] the French Jacobins, the Bolsheviks of that time, guillotined the Royalists and the Girondists. We, too, have had a similar great chapter when we, the Oppositionists, together with you, shot the White Guards and exiled the Girondists. And then there began another chapter in France, when ... the Thermidorians and the Bonapartists from among the Right wing Jacobins – began exiling and shooting the Left Jacobins – the Bolsheviks of that time. I should like comrade Soltz to think his analogy through to the end and, first of all, to give himself an answer to the following question: In accordance with which chapter is Soltz preparing to have us shot? [Commotion in the hall] This is no jesting matter; revolution is a serious business. None of us is scared by firing squads. We are all old revolutionists. But the thing is to know whom to shoot, and in accordance with which chapter. When we did the shooting we were firm in our knowledge as to the chapter. But, comrade Soltz, do you clearly understand in accordance with which chapter you are now preparing to shoot? I fear, comrade Soltz, that you are about to shoot us in accordance with the ... Thermidorian chapter.

Trotsky went on to explain that his adversaries were mistaken in implying that he was calling them by abusive names.

It is thought that the Thermidorians were arrant counter- revolutionists, conscious supporters of the monarchic rule, and so on. Nothing of the kind! The Thermidorians were Jacobins, with this difference, that they had moved to the Right ... Do you think on the very next day after the 9th of Thermidor they said to themselves: We have now transferred power into the hands of the bourgeoisie? Nothing of the kind! Refer to all the newspapers of that time. They said: We have destroyed a handful of people who disrupted peace in the party, but now, after their destruction, the revolution will triumph completely. If comrade Soltz has any doubts about it ...

SOLTZ: You are practically repeating my own words.

TROTSKY: So much the better ...

I shall read you what was said by Brival, who was a Right Jacobin, one of the Thermidorians, when he reported about the session of the Convention during which Robespierre and the other Jacobins were handed over to the Revolutionary Tribunal: Intriguers and counter-revolutionists covering themselves with the toga of patriotism sought the destruction of liberty; the Convention decreed to place them under arrest. These representatives were: Robespierre, Couthon, Saint-Just, Lebas and Robespierre the Younger. The chairman asked what my opinion was. I replied: Those who had always voted in accordance with the spirit of the principles of the Mountain ... voted for the arrest. I did even more than that, for I am one of those who proposed this measure. Moreover, as secretary, I made haste to sign and to transmit this decree of the Convention.’ That is how the report was made by a Soltz ... of that time. Robespierre and his associates – those were the counter-revolutionists. ‘Those who had always voted in accordance with the spirit of the principles of the Mountain’ signified in the language of that time, ‘those who had always been Bolsheviks.’ Brival considered himself an old Bolshevik. ‘As secretary, I made haste to sign and to transmit this decree of the Convention.’ Today, too, there are secretaries who make haste ‘to sign and to transmit.’ Today, too, there are such secretaries ...

The Thermidorians too, Trotsky went on, had attacked the Left Jacobins amid cries of la patrie en danger! They were convinced that Robespierre and his friends were only ‘isolated individuals.’ They branded them as ‘aristocrats’ and agents of Pitt, just as the Stalinists had denounced the Opposition as the agents of Chamberlain, ‘that modern pocket edition of Pitt.’

The odour of the ‘second chapter’ assails one’s nostrils ... the party regime stifles everyone who struggles against Thermidor. In the party the mass worker has been stifled. The rank and file worker is silent ...

An anonymous regime of terror was instituted, for silence was made compulsory, 100% votes and abstention from all criticism were demanded, thinking in accordance with orders from above was made obligatory, and men were compelled to unlearn to think that the party is a living, independent organism and not a self-sufficing machine of power ...


The Jacobin clubs, the crucibles of revolution, became the nurseries of future functionaries of Napoleon. We should learn from the French Revolution. But is it really necessary to repeat it? [Shouts]

Despite great differences between the Opposition and the ruling group in the party, a split could be avoided.

... we possess gigantic ideological wealth of accumulated experience in the works of Lenin, in the program of the party, in the traditions of the party. You have squandered a great deal of this capital, you have substituted for a lot, the cheap surrogates ... But a good deal of pure gold still remains. In the second place, we have the present historical period of abrupt turns, gigantic events, colossal lessons from which one can and must learn. There are stupendous facts, which provide the test for the two lines. But you must not dare hide these facts. Sooner or later they will become known anyway. You cannot hide the victories and defeats of the proletariat.

What was needed for the party to overcome the crisis?

... a more healthy and flexible regime in the party so as to enable the gigantic events to provide the text for the antagonistic lines without any convulsions. It is necessary to secure for the party the possibility of ideological self-criticism on the basis of the great events. If this is done, I am certain that, in a year or two, the course of the party will be rectified. There is no need to rush, there is no necessity for adopting such decisions as cannot be later remedied. Beware lest you are compelled to say: We parted company with those whom we should have preserved, while preserving those from whom we should have parted.

Stalin presses on with the assault on the Opposition

The final collapse of the Chinese revolution and the dissolution of the Anglo-Russian Committee demonstrated the complete bankruptcy of the Stalin-Bukharin policies abroad; this made Stalin intent on achieving the complete suppression of the Opposition at home.

At the same time, interval developments in Russia pushed Stalin and Bukharin in the same direction. The economy of the country went into a deep crisis as a result of their policies. E.H. Carr writes:

In May-June 1927 serious signs of strain began to appear. In the Volga and North Caucasian regions, and in Kazakhstan, free market prices for grain moved sharply ahead of the official prices. About the same time symptoms of a general scarcity made themselves felt, after a long interval, in the food shops of Moscow and other large cities. By the autumn of 1927 shortages in the cities had become widespread and chronic. A writer in the Vesenkha newspaper, referring primarily to textiles and other manufactured goods, described how groups gathered in shops discussing the shortages and recalling the famine years, and went from shop to shop in search of scarce goods, aggravating the impression of a crisis. In Moscow, butter, cheese and milk were no longer to be had – or not at prices which most people could afford; and supplies of bread were irregular. [13]

And the historian Michel Reiman writes:

With increasing frequency, the authorities took measures that cut the real wages and social gains of the labouring sectors of the population. Social and political ferment intensified, becoming an important part of the general crisis. [14]

Thus far Stalin had managed to suppress all Trotsky’s criticisms. Almost any one of Trotsky’s recent speeches and writings would have exploded the authority of Stalin and Bukharin. But Trotsky’s voice was not heard by the mass of the people. The approach of the Fifteenth Party Congress offered Trotsky and Zinoviev an opportunity to state their views. So Stalin hastened to ban the Opposition once and for all.

On 27 June Trotsky wrote a letter to the Central Committee entitled The Party Crisis Deepens.

... the party finds itself in the worst crisis it has experienced since the revolution. And now, more than ever, it must be resolved.

In direct conjunction with the recent setbacks in China, which were brought about to a significant extent by incorrect leadership of the Chinese revolution, the international situation has abruptly worsened. The danger of war and intervention is unquestionable ...

The party crisis must be resolved.

The Central Committee is trying to resolve it by the mechanical suppression of the Opposition ... Party opinion is being openly prepared for the expulsion of the Opposition from the party.

... To surgically remove, behind the backs of the party ranks, the Opposition section of the party, which includes hundreds and thousands of comrades who have passed through the fires of three revolutions, fought on the fronts of the civil war, led the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and stood at the head of the proletarian dictatorship at the most difficult moments – that is not the way out of the situation. Only by the Leninist road can we restore to the party genuine unity, which means above all maximum active participation by the entire mass of the party and its readiness to accept all sacrifices for the sake of the victory of the proletarian revolution and socialism.

[The CC] should bring to the knowledge of the party ranks all the documents, including ours, with which the party ranks can orient themselves in the present complex situation. It should print these documents and send them to all party organisations as material for the Fifteenth Congress (with only about four months remaining until the opening of the congress). [15]

The day after writing this letter Trotsky wrote to Ordzhonikidze, the Chairman of the Central Control Commission, protesting against rumours spread by some party bureaucrats of an intention to expel Trotsky and twenty of his supporters from the party. [16]

Now the press began to report resolutions of local party organisations demanding the expulsion of Trotsky and Zinoviev.

Stalin’s most effective argument against the Opposition was that it was weakening the Soviet Union in the face of a hostile capitalist world. Trotsky, in his letter to Ordzhonikidze of 11 July, attempted to counter this argument by invoking a famous precedent to support his claim that in a period of war danger criticism of the ruling group could serve the needs of defence.

The French bourgeoisie at the outset of the imperialist war had at its head a government without rudder or sails. The Clemenceau group was in opposition to that government. In spite of the war and the military censorship, in spite even of the fact that the Germans were within eighty kilometres of Paris (Clemenceau said ‘precisely because of that’) Clemenceau conducted a furious struggle against the weak-kneed and wavering petty bourgeois policies, and for imperialist ferocity and ruthlessness. Clemenceau did not betray his class, the bourgeoisie; on the contrary, he served it more faithfully, more firmly, decisively, and wisely, than did Viviani, Painlev ... and Company. This was shown by the subsequent course of events. The Clemenceau group came to power, and by a more consistent, a more predatory imperialist policy, it secured the victory of the French bourgeoisie. Were there any commentators in France who put the label of ‘defeatists’ on the Clemenceau group? No doubt there were: fools and gossips will be found among the camp followers of all classes. But they are not always given the opportunity to play an equally important part. [17]

The reaction of the Stalinists and Bukharinists was immediate. Trotsky was threatening to stage a coup in the middle of the war, while the enemy army might be standing 80 kilometres from Moscow – no other proof of his being a counter-revolutionary was needed. From then until the end of the year, until Trotsky’s banishment, the hue and cry about the Clemenceau statement went on unabated.

Stalin and Bukharin could easily distort the meaning of the Clemenceau statement, not only because they had the monopoly of the propaganda machine, but also because very few people knew the story of Clemenceau.

On 1 August a joint Plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission again considered the motion to expel Trotsky. Now the Clemenceau statement provided the central item in the indictment of the Opposition leaders: that they would not be loyal in war, and would not contribute to the defence of the Soviet Union.

Trotsky appeared before the Plenum, not as a humble defendant, but as the courageous prosecutor. He recalled the high responsibility he had borne for many years for Soviet defence policy and for formulating the Comintern’s views on war and peace.

He attacked Stalin’s and Bukharin’s reliance for defence on ‘rotten ropes’ – the Anglo-Russian Committee they had hailed as a bulwark against war.

Your present policy is a policy of rotten props on an international scale. You successively clutched at Chiang Kai-shek, Feng Yu-hsiang, Tang Chen-chih, Wang Ching-wei, Purcell, Hicks and Cook. Each of these ropes broke at the moment when it was most sorely needed ... In the event of war you will have to stumble time and again over ‘surprises’. The rotten ropes will fall apart in your hands.

That is why the Opposition had to criticise the Stalinist leadership.

But does not the criticism of the Opposition reflect upon the authority of the USSR in the international labour movement?

We would never think of even posing such a question. This very posing of the question of authority is worthy of the papal church, or feudal generals. The Catholic Church demands an unquestioning recognition of its authority on the part of the faithful. The revolutionist gives his support, while criticizing, and the more undeniable is his right to criticize, all the greater is his devotion in struggling for the creation and strengthening of that in which he is a direct participant ... What we need is not a hypocritical ‘Union sacré’ but honest revolutionary unity ...

The Opposition is for the victory of the USSR; it has proved this and will continue to prove this in action, in a manner inferior to none. But Stalin is not concerned with that. Stalin has essentially a different question in mind, which he does not dare express, namely ‘Does the Opposition really think that the leadership of Stalin is incapable of assuring victory to the USSR?’

And Trotsky ended his speech for the prosecution thus:

Every Oppositionist, if he is a genuine Oppositionist and not a fraud, will assume in the event of war whatever post, at the front or behind the lines, that the party will intrust to him, and carry out his duty to the end. But not a single Oppositionist will renounce his right and his duty, on the eve of war, or during the war, to fight for the correction of the party’s course – as has always been the case in our party because therein lies the most important condition for victory. To sum up. For the socialist fatherland? Yes! For the Stalinist course? No! [18]

Stalin’s assault on Trotsky

On 9 August, at the joint Plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission, Stalin made a vicious assault on Trotsky’s Clemenceau thesis. [19] On the same day the Plenum passed a resolution ‘On the Violation of Party Discipline by Zinoviev and Trotsky’. It rehearsed in detail the crimes of the Opposition since 1923, and especially since 16 October 1926, when the United Opposition announced its giving up of all factional activities and then broke its promise. The Plenum called on the Opposition to abandon the ‘semi-defencist’ attitudes implicit in the Clemenceau thesis and the slander about a Thermidorian degeneration of party and state, to desist from attempts to split the Russian party and the Comintern. The CC decided to remove from the agenda the expulsion of Zinoviev and Trotsky from the Central Committee, hoping that they would stop their factionalism. Instead a ‘severe reprimand and warning’ was delivered to them. The resolution went on to warn of the consequences of any future violation of discipline. [20]

The pressure of the Stalinist machine succeeded in creating some fissures in the Opposition leadership. The unstable, wobbly Zinoviev welcomed the resolution, seeing in it a step towards peace in the party: ‘The Bolshevik Party can resolve serious differences without shake-up, on the path of genuine Leninist unity.’ [21] At the same time Ioffe wrote to Trotsky protesting against the vacillation of the Opposition, against its compromising stance toward Stalin and his accomplices. Ioffe condemned the wording the Opposition used at the Plenum, namely, ‘We will carry out all the decisions of the CPSU and its Central Committee’; ‘We are prepared to do everything possible to destroy all factional elements which have formed themselves as a consequence of the fact that, because of the inner regime of the party, we were compelled to inform the party of our opinions that had been falsely reported in the press of the whole country.’ [22]

On 15 August a letter from the Zinovievists contained a thinly veiled warning against light-headed and adventurist tactics’ which might lead to the ultimate disaster of the ‘exclusion of the Opposition from the party.’ These were warning signals that the bloc between Trotsky and Zinoviev was in danger.

The Platform of the United Opposition

In preparation for the Fifteenth Congress of the party the leaders of the United Opposition in September 1927 prepared the Platform of the Opposition, a full and systematic statement of its policy.

Victor Serge describes the way the platform was drafted:

Zinoviev undertook to work out the chapters on agriculture and International in collaboration with Kamenev; the chapter on industrialisation was assigned to Trotsky; Smilga and Piatakov, helped by some young comrades, also worked on the draft, which was submitted, as each section came out, to our meetings and, wherever possible, to groups of workers. For the last time (but we had no suspicion that this was so) the Party returned to its tradition of collective thinking, with its concern to consult the man in the workshop. [23]

Trotsky wrote that 200 party members contributed to the Platform. [24]

The Platform developed further the policies that Trotsky had put forward as early as 1922 regarding the industrialisation of the country. As we have seen [25], in November 1922 Trotsky argued for economic planning. He made it clear that this would not mean getting rid of the market at a stroke, nor did it mean the end of the NEP. Again at the Twelfth Party Congress (April 1923) he developed the same ideas further. [26] From 1922 onwards he was arguing for a comprehensive economic plan. He was concerned that while NEP had succeeded in restoring agriculture – and that had been its main intent – it was unable to solve the fundamental problems of the Russian economy, particularly the problem of industrialisation. The lag of industry behind restored agriculture led to a conflict between industry and agriculture, as was demonstrated in what Trotsky termed the ‘scissors crisis’: the rise in industrial prices and the decline in agricultural ones threatened to undermine agricultural production. Politically, the crisis threatened to undermine the worker-peasant alliance and to arouse the peasantry against the regime. In the Platform Trotsky develops the same arguments further.

Many passages in the Platform are devoted to showing the growth of the kulak danger, and the increasing exploitation of the poor and middle peasants.

The Soviet government should orientate itself on the agricultural workers, the poor peasants and the middle peasants.

In the class struggle now going on in the countryside the party must stand, not only in words but in deeds, at the head of the farmhands, the poor peasants, and the basic mass of the middle peasants, and organise them against the exploitative aims of the kulak.

While collectivisation of agriculture was to be encouraged, this should be gradual: private fanning would continue to be the dominant form in the countryside for a long time to come. Not only did the workers and poor peasants need to be aided, but also the middle peasants.

The growth of individual farming must be offset by more rapid development of collective farming. It is necessary to appropriate funds systematically year after year to assist the poor peasants who have organised in collectives.

At the same time, we must give more systematic help to poor peasants who are not in the collectives, by freeing them entirely from taxation by assigning them suitable plots of land and providing credit for agricultural implements and by bringing them into the agricultural cooperatives.

The agricultural cooperatives and collectives must be voluntary organisations without coercion or the dead hand of bureaucracy.

A successful cooperative structure is conceivable only if the participants enjoy a maximum of independent initiatives. Proper relations by the cooperatives with large-scale industry and the proletarian state presuppose a normal regime in the cooperative organisations, excluding bureaucratic methods of regulation. [27]

The peasants who do not join the collective farms should not be neglected either.

The party ought to promote by all means the economic advancement of the middle peasants – by a wise policy of prices for grain, by the organisation of credits and cooperatives accessible to them, and by the systematic and gradual introduction of this most numerous peasant group to the benefit of large-scale, mechanised, collective agriculture.

What about the kulaks? They will continue to exist but the expansion of their wealth and power should be restricted.

The task of the party in relation to the growing kulak strata ought to consist in the all-sided limitation of their efforts at exploitation ... The following measures are necessary: a steeply progressive tax system; legislative measures to protect hired labour and regulate the wages of agricultural workers; a correct class policy in regard to land division and utilisation; the same thing in regard to supplying tractors and other instruments of production to the villages ...

The existing system of a single agricultural tax ought to be changed in the direction of freeing the 40 to 50 per cent of poorer and poorest peasant families from all taxation, without any additional tax being imposed upon the bulk of the middle peasants. The dates of tax collection should be accommodated to the interests of the lower groups of tax payers. [28]

The Platform envisaged the continuation of NEP, and therefore, although it was intended to exercise greater control over the kulaks and NEPmen, to tax them more heavily and to promote collectivisation in the countryside, the liquidation of the kulaks and of the private sector or duress against the peasants, was out of the question. How radically different this agricultural policy was from Stalin’s future forced collectivisation!

Finally, Trotsky saw the collectivisation of agriculture as following the industrialisation of Russia and not as Stalin saw it, as a prerequisite for industrialisation. The Platform wrote:

The inadequate tempo of industrial development leads ... to a retardation of the growth of agriculture ... only a powerful socialist industry can help the peasants transform agriculture along collective lines.

The balanced growth of industry and agriculture, where industry was the motor of advance, was crucial.

The chronic lagging of industry, as well as transport, electrification, and construction, behind the demands and needs of the population, the economy, and the social system as a whole, hold all economic circulation in the country in a terrible vice. It reduces the sale and export of the marketable part of our agricultural production. It restricts imports to extremely narrow limits, drives up prices and production costs, causes the instability of the chervonets, and retards the development of the productive forces. It delays all improvement in the material condition of the proletarian and peasant masses, causes the dangerous growth of unemployment and the deterioration of housing conditions. It undermines the bond between industry and agriculture and weakens the country’s defence capability.

The inadequate tempo of industrial development leads in turn to a retardation of the growth of agriculture. [29]

Where were the sources for investment in industry to be found?

The Platform speaks of 500 to 1,000 million roubles per annum to be granted to industry by 1931. The bourgeoisie and the kulaks were to pay higher taxes, in the region of 150-200 million. In addition, 10 per cent of the more prosperous peasants were to contribute to a compulsory loan of 150 million puds of grain. It was estimated that this stratum possessed some 8,000-9,000 million puds in reserve. [30] The Platform’s investment targets were extremely modest compared with those Stalin imposed in the Five Year Plans. Thus the Plenum of the Central Committee of December 1930 fixed the target for investment in industry at 7,470 million roubles. [31]

Industrialisation should not be at the cost of agriculture, the Platform said. On the contrary, ‘no industrialisation is possible without decisively raising the level of the productive forces in agriculture.’ [32]

Industrialisation should also not be accompanied by a decline in workers’ standards of living, but on the contrary, these should rise.

The material positions of the proletariat within the country must be strengthened both absolutely and relatively (growth in the number of employed workers, reduction in the number of unemployed, improvement in the material level of the working class ...) [33]

A whole chapter of the Platform is devoted to the condition of the workers, which had seen a serious deterioration in recent years.

The decisive factor in appraising the progress of our country along the road of socialist construction must be the growth of our productive forces and the dominance of the socialist elements over the capitalist – together with improvement in all the living conditions of the working class ... The attempt to push the vital interests of the worker into the background and, under the contemptuous epithet of ‘narrow craft professionalism’ to counterpose them to the general historical interests of the working class is theoretically wrong and politically dangerous.

Workers’ conditions had sharply deteriorated in the recent period.

The numerical growth of the working class and the improvement of its situation has almost stopped, while the growth of its enemies continues, and continues at an accelerated pace. This inevitably leads not only to a worsening of conditions in the factories but also to a lowering of the relative weight of the proletariat in Soviet society ... Thus real wages for the present year have stood still, approximately at the level of the autumn of 1925 ... Moreover, all the data indicate that the growth of wages is lagging behind the growth of labour productivity. The intensity of labour is increasing – the bad conditions of labour remain the same.

Elsewhere V.M. Smirnov, a close ally of Trotsky, noted that between October 1924 and October 1926, while workers’ output rose by 47.5 per cent, workers’ wages rose by only 15 per cent, and purchasing power still remained below pre-war levels. [34]

The rationalisation of production, so loudly praised by the authorities, actually damaged workers’ conditions.

In practice, ‘rationalisation’ often comes down to ‘throwing out’ some workers and lowering the material conditions of others. This inevitably fills the masses of workers with a distrust of rationalisation itself. [35]

The weakest – women and youth – suffer most.

When labour’s living standards are under pressure, it is always the weakest groups that suffer most: unskilled workers, seasonal workers, women and adolescents.

In 1926 there was an obvious lowering of the wages of women as compared with those of men in almost all branches of industry ...

The average earnings of adolescents, in comparison with the earnings of workers as a whole, are steadily declining. In 1923 they were 47.1 per cent, in 1924 45 per cent, in 1925 43.5 per cent, in 1926 40.5 per cent, in 1927 39.5 per cent ...

If the conditions of the urban workers were bad, those of agricultural workers were even worse.

Of the approximately 3,500,000 wage workers in the country, 1,600,000 are farmhands, men and women. Only 20 per cent of these farmhands are organised in unions ... Real wages on the average are not over 63 per cent of their pre-war level. The working day is rarely less than ten hours. In the majority of cases it is, as a matter of fact, unlimited. Wages are paid irregularly and after intolerable delays.

Added to this is the scourge of unemployment.

The official number of registered unemployed in April 1927 was 1,478,000 ... The actual number of unemployed is about 2,000,000. The number of unemployed is growing incomparably faster than the total number of employed workers. The number of unemployed industrial workers is growing especially rapidly ... The consequences of this state of affairs will be an increase in the number of homeless children, beggars, and prostitutes. The small unemployment insurance paid to those who are out of work is causing justifiable resentment. [36]

Factory management is more and more autocratic.

The regime within the factories has deteriorated. The factory administrative bodies are striving more and more to establish their unlimited authority. The hiring and discharge of workers is actually in the hands of the administration alone. Pre-revolutionary relations between supervisors and workers are frequently found. [37]

The workers were further and further alienated from the trade unions.

In the staff of the elected executive bodies of ten industrial unions, the percentage of workers from the bench and non-Party militant workers is extremely small (12-13 per cent). The immense majority of delegates to the trade union conferences are people entirely dissociated from industry ... The independent initiative of the mass of workers organised in the trade unions is being replaced by agreements between the secretary of the party group, the factory director, and the chairman of the factory committee ... The attitude of the workers to the factory and shop committees is one of distrust. Attendance at the general meetings is low.

The dissatisfaction of the worker, finding no outlet in the trade union, is driven inwards. ‘We mustn’t be too active – if you want a bite of bread, don’t talk so much.’ [38]

A number of practical proposals were put forward to improve workers’ conditions:

The most immediate task is to raise wages at least to correspond to the achieved increase in the productivity of labour. The future course should be a systematic elevation of real wages to correspond to every rise in labour productivity. It is necessary to achieve an increasing equalisation in the wages of different groups of workers, by way of a systematic raising of the lower-paid groups; in no case by a lowering of the higher paid.

For women workers, ‘equal pay for equal work’. Provision to be made for women workers to learn skilled trades ...

At every trade union congress (including the all-union congress) and in all the elected bodies of the trade unions (including the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions) there must be a majority of workers directly engaged in industry. [39]

The raising of the social weight of the proletariat by increasing its size and improving its material conditions must be accompanied by the strengthening of proletarian democracy, increasing the power of the Soviets.

It is necessary:

  1. To adopt a firm policy of struggle against chinovnichestvo [the virulent old Russian form of bureaucratism] – to wage this struggle as Lenin would, on the basis of a real fight to check the exploitative influence of the new bourgeoisie and the kulaks by way of a consistent development of workers’ democracy in the party, the trade unions, and the soviets.
  2. To make it our watchword to draw the state nearer to the worker, the farmhand, the poor peasant, and the middle peasant – against the kulak – unconditionally subordinating the state apparatus to the essential interests of the toiling masses.
  3. As the basis for reviving the soviets, to increase the class activity of the workers, farmhands, and poor and middle peasants.
  4. To convert the urban soviets into real institutions of proletarian power and instruments for drawing the broad mass of the working people into the task of administering socialist construction – to realise, not in words but in deeds, control by the urban soviets over the work of the regional executive committees and the bodies subject to those committees.
  5. To put a complete stop to the removal of elected soviet officials, except in case of real and absolute necessity, in which cases the causes should be made clear to the electors.
  6. We must see that the most backward unskilled worker and the most ignorant peasant woman become convinced by experience that in any state institution whatsoever they will find attention, counsel, and all possible support. [40]

The party had also to change. The social composition of the party had to be improved.

The number of factory workers in the leading bodies of the party is next to nothing. In the regional committees, it is 13.2 per cent; in the county committees, from 9.8 to 16.1 per cent ...

It is necessary to adopt immediately a series of measures for the improvement of the social composition of the party and of its leading bodies. [41]

It was necessary to restore inner-party democracy.

Bureaucratism is growing in all spheres, but its growth is especially ruinous in the party ...

The last few years have seen a systematic abolition of inner- party democracy ...

Not only have careerism, bureaucratism, and inequality grown in the party in recent years, but muddy streams from alien and hostile class sources are flowing into it – for example, anti-Semitism. The very self-preservation of the party demands a merciless struggle against such defilement. [42]

The Platform, however, maintained some serious defects. While, as we have seen, it devoted great attention to the living standards of the working class, it paid little attention to the question of the relations of production in the factories – only one paragraph in which it was noted that ‘the regime in the factories has deteriorated’ and that ‘pre-revolutionary relations between foremen and workmen are frequently found.’ It made no specific proposals and raised no demands with regard to increasing or re-establishing workers’ control of industry.

It also suffered from the inheritance of the exceptional conditions of the civil war, when the one-party system was transformed from a necessity into a virtue. The Platform states:

The dictatorship of the proletariat imperiously demands a single and united proletarian party as the leader of the working masses and the poor peasantry. Such unity, unweakened by factional strife, is unconditionally necessary to the proletariat in the fulfilment of its historic mission. [43]

Finally, the weakest section of the Platform was that dealing with the Comintern which was written by Zinoviev. It deals with the Anglo-Russian Committee and with the Stalin-Bukharin policy in China. Among other things the section includes a statement that Trotsky renounced the theory of permanent revolution.

Trotsky, in The Third International After Lenin, admits that the Platform dealt with the Chinese revolution very inadequately and in part positively falsely. [44]

The Preobrazhensky whip

The Opposition was slandered profusely. As it pointed to the enormous growth of the kulaks and the threat they represented to the regime, Stalin and Bukharin accused the Opposition of wishing to ‘rob the peasants’. [45] When the Opposition pointed to the lag of industry behind the needs of the national economy, and the inevitable consequences thereof – the price ‘scissors’, the goods famine, the rupture of the smychka between proletariat and peasantry – Stalin and Bukharin called the Opposition ‘super industrialisers’. When the Opposition pointed to the incorrect prices policy, which did not reduce the high cost of living but aided the profiteers, Stalin and Bukharin accused the Opposition of advocating a policy of raising prices. To support these distortions, Stalin and Bukharin – above all the latter – unscrupulously used the words of Preobrazhensky.

Evgeny A. Preobrazhensky was the chief economist of the Trotskyists. His book, Novaia Ekonomika came out in 1926. The main chapter first appeared in late 1924.

Preobrazhensky posed the crucial question facing a backward economy: where to find capital resources for industrial development. His reply was: largely among the peasants; the socialist or state sector was too small and undeveloped to provide enough capital from within itself. Industry by itself could not produce the resources needed for rapid industrialisation. Its profits or surplus could make up only a small part of the required accumulation fund. The rest had to be obtained from the incomes earned in the private sector of the economy.

The formation period of capitalism was called by Marx the epoch of ‘primitive capitalist accumulation’. Preobrazhensky argued that the Soviet Union had to find its counterpart in ‘primitive socialist accumulation’ which was to create the future socialist society. (The originator of this term was not Preobrazhensky but V.M. Smirnov).

Marx explained that before the process of automatic accumulation under capitalism could be set in motion, it was necessary at a preceding stage to go through a period of forced accumulation of capital: this was the stage of the enclosures which created workers out of peasants by ‘the separation of the producers from the means of production’, this was also the stage in which the robbing of colonies and the slave trade facilitated the creation of capitalism. Preobrazhensky argued that similarly ‘in order that the complex of the state economy may be able to develop all its economic advantages and establish for itself a new technical base’ socialism must pass through a preliminary stage of ‘primitive accumulation’.

The means by which the resources of the private sector were to be transferred to the socialist sector were analysed in detail by Preobrazhensky, and cover taxation, the acquisition of incomes from the monopoly of foreign trade, credits, loans, etc. The most important source was to be that of ‘non-equivalent exchanges’, which would result from the manipulation of the prices of industrial goods.

On 12 December 1924 Pravda published a long article by Bukharin viciously attacking Preobrazhensky. The distortion of Preobrazhensky’s position was quite astonishing. Bukharin declared categorically: ‘There can be no doubt that comrade Preobrazhensky sees the workers’ state as possessing colonies’, and the exploitation of the peasants is a form of ‘internal colonialism’. This statement by Bukharin flew in the face of Preobrazhensky’s words:

As regards colonial plundering, a socialist state, carrying out a policy of equality between nationalities and voluntary entry by them into one kind or another of union of nations, repudiates on principle all the forcible methods of capital in this sphere. This source of primitive accumulation is closed to it from the very start and forever. [46]

After this scandalous distortion of Preobrazhensky’s position regarding colonies, Bukharin goes on to claim that he was for the exploitation of the peasantry by the proletariat, for the ‘devouring of peasant economy by the state economy’, for raising the price of industrial goods so as to bleed the peasants, and so on. Preobrazhensky is also accused of calling for the exploitation of the proletariat by the state.

Preobrazhensky rejected these accusations of Bukharin with complete disdain. He explained that the term ‘exploitation’ used in his book was transformed by Bukharin from relations between economic systems to relations between classes.

The task of the socialist state consists here not in taking from the petty bourgeois producers less than capitalism took, but in taking more from the still larger income which will be ensured to the petty producers by the rationalisation of everything, including the country’s petty production. [47]

What about Bukharin’s accusation that Preobrazhensky saw ‘the socialisation of peasant economy as lying through the devouring of this economy by the state economy’? Preobrazhensky argues exactly the opposite: it is only after a great advance of industry that aid could be given to the peasantry to socialise agriculture. The development of industry would not be based on robbing agriculture, but on the contrary, the socialisation of agriculture would depend on the pouring of resources into agriculture from industry.

Without a rapid development of the State economy there cannot be a sufficiently rapid development of peasant co-operation ... And any rapid development of State industry is impossible without a sufficiently rapid accumulation in our State industry. [48]

The socialisation of agriculture would be gradual and would take a very long historical period.

Furthermore, Bukharin distorted Preobrazhensky’s position regarding prices policy. He summed up Preobrazhensky’s attitude in two words: ‘Raise them!’ Preobrazhensky’s reaction was sharp:

To put it mildly, this is a scandalous falsehood. I nowhere in my work say anything about raising prices. I specially pointed out that a policy of accumulation is not only possible for us but also will in fact take place with falling or stable prices. [49]

Preobrazhensky did not advocate the impoverishment of the peasants. His aims would be realised if industrial costs were reduced and agricultural productivity increased, thus leading to a rise in the peasants’ income.

Bukharin accused Preobrazhensky of saying the state economy should ‘devour’ the peasant economy, thus killing ‘the goose that lays the golden eggs for our state industry, that is that he proposes to hinder the development of peasant economy’. In fact Preobrazhensky argues exactly the opposite: for the encouragement of the peasant economy as a necessary condition for industrialisation.

What about Bukharin’s accusation that Preobrazhensky stood for the increased exploitation of the workers in the process of primitive socialist accumulation, similar to that which happened to workers during the period of primitive capitalist accumulation? This again is a scandalous distortion. This is what Preobrazhensky actually wrote on the subject:

We said ... that it is characteristic of capitalism, especially in the period of primitive accumulation, to take a ruthless, barbarous, spendthrift attitude to labour power, which it attempts to treat like any other purchased commodity which forms one of the elements of production. The limits of exploitation and oppression in this sphere are the purely physiological limits (the worker has to sleep and eat), or else the resistance of the working class. Later the relation of forces between workers and capitalists in the economic struggle is a very important factor restricting the tempo and amount of capitalist accumulation on the basis of production. As against this, from the moment of its victory the working class ... cannot have the same attitude to its own labour power, health, work and conditions as the capitalist has. This constitutes a definite barrier to the tempo of socialist accumulation, a barrier which capitalist industry did not know in its first period of development.

Insistence on the eight-hour day was a case in point. [50]

Our labour protection is, on the one hand, a policy of preserving and qualitatively improving the most important productive force, the most important factor in socialist accumulation, namely, the labour-power of the proletariat, and, on the other hand, in its extension to private economy, it imposes a restriction on the rate and amount of capitalist accumulation. [51]

Preobrazhensky’s project of primitive socialist accumulation had nothing in common with the future Stalinist policy starting in 1928 of forced expropriation of the peasantry and their inclusion in collective farms, compulsory deliveries of agricultural products at low prices while the prices of industrial consumer goods increased significantly, thus robbing the peasantry. It had nothing to do with Stalin’s forced industrialisation at breakneck speed with the emphasis on heavy industry.

The distortion of the meaning of Preobrazhensky’s ‘primitive accumulation’ by Stalin and Bukharin was used as justification to accuse Trotsky of neglecting the peasants, and opposing Lenin’s formula of the smychka between the proletariat and the peasantry.

Trotsky used the phrase ‘primitive socialist accumulation’ in his speech to the Twelfth Party Congress (April 1923). And throughout the years 1923-1927 he looked upon Preobrazhensky as the chief economist of the Trotskyist Opposition. However, there was a deep difference between Trotsky and Preobrazhensky. Preobrazhensky, although referring again and again to the international revolution, still constructed his theory in such a way as to imply that primitive socialist accumulation might be carried out by the Soviet Union in isolation. This prospect appeared unreal to Trotsky, who did not see how the Soviet Union in isolation could raise itself to the industrial levels of the West. It was his politics of economic isolation (together with a rejection of the theory of permanent revolution) that opened the door for Preobrazhensky’s reconciliation with ‘socialism in one country’. [2*]

It should also be said that given a prolonged delay in the arrival of the international revolution (virtually inevitable after the defeat in China), and given the general poverty of Russia, in particular the low productivity of labour in Russian industry, any attempt to apply Preobrazhensky’s programme of ‘primitive socialist accumulation’ was likely in practice to lead to some variant of Stalinist, i.e., state capitalist, industrialisation regardless of Preobrazhensky’s intentions.

The fundamental and intractable problem was that on the basis of poverty it was impossible to levy the surplus necessary for rapid and sustained industrialisation, either from the peasants or the workers, other than by forcible exploitation. Exploitation, however, has its own social logic – it requires a privileged social class, raised above the workers, to manage and enforce it. In Russia at the end of the 1920s, this social class could only be the state bureaucracy, with or without Stalin as an individual. Salvation lay only along the road of spreading the revolution. Marx foresaw the essence of the problem eighty years earlier when he wrote in The German Ideology, ‘this development of productive forces ... is an absolutely necessary practical premise because without it want is merely made general, and with destitution the struggle for necessities and all the old filthy business would necessarily be reproduced.’ [53]

Preobrazhensky was exiled in 1927, readmitted into the party in 1929, expelled again in 1931, and then again readmitted. His last public appearance was at the Seventeenth Party Congress in 1934, in which he denounced Trotskyism and praised Stalin to the skies:

I was considered one of the theoreticians of Trotskyism. You know that my theoretical works, including The New Economics, were used as weapons in the struggle against the party. You know that my important error consisted in mechanically comparing our economy with capitalism and erecting a law of ‘primitive socialist accumulation.’ I brought into this theoretical construction the lack of faith in the peasantry and contempt for the peasants which were characteristic of Trotskyism ... I though that by exploiting the peasants, by concentrating the resources of the peasant economy in the hands of the state, it would be possible to build industry and develop industrialisation. This is a crude analogy with primitive capitalist accumulation ... I parted company with Leninism. Events wholly disproved what I had asserted, and Lenin’s forecasts were later triumphantly made into reality under Stalin’s leadership. Collectivisation, that is the essential point. Did I foresee collectivisation? I did not ... As you know, neither Marx nor Engels, who wrote a great deal about the problems of socialism in the village, visualised just how village life would be revolutionised. You know that Engels tended to the view that it would be a rather long evolutionary process. What was needed was Stalin’s remarkable far-sightedness, his great courage in facing the problems, the greatest hardness in applying policies. [54]


1*. See Trotsky’s letter of 18 April 1927 to the Politburo complaining that he had been refused the record of the session of the Central Committee of July 1926 and the record of Stalin’s speech on China delivered to the Moscow organisation on 5 April 1927. [2] See also Trotsky’s letter of protest to the Politburo and Praesidium of the Central Control Commission of 16 May 1927 on the decision of the Politburo of 12 May not to publish articles submitted by him on the Chinese situation to Pravda and Bolshevik [3] Even Trotsky’s speech of May 1927 to the ECCI on the Chinese question was excluded from the published record of the session. [4]

2*. Trotsky made it clear, as early as 2 May 1926, that Preobrazhensky’s formulation contained a serious danger of leading to conclusions compatible with the doctrine of ‘socialism in one country’. Trotsky wrote:

‘In the analysis of our economy from the point of view of internal dynamics (struggle and co-operation) the laws of value and socialist accumulation are in principle fruitful in the highest degree. It is time to say that they alone are correct. The investigation necessarily must begin within the framework of a closed Soviet economy. But there now arises the danger that this methodological approach will be turned into the formalistic economic perspective of "the development of socialism in one country". It should be expected, for the danger is there, that the supporters of this philosophy ... will now attempt to transform Preobrazhenskys analysis, converting methodological approach into a general quasi-autonomous process. Come what may, it is necessary to avoid such plagiarism and such falsification. The internal dynamics of the law of value and socialist accumulation have to be posed in the context of the world economy.’ [52]


1. Trotsky, Challenge (1926-27), p.298.

2. T. 944, Arkhiv Trotskogo, Vol.2, p.248.

3. T. 3059, Arkhiv Trotskogo, Vol.3, p.43.

4. T. 958, Arkhiv Trotskogo, Vol.3, p.127.

5. Trotsky, Challenge (1926-27), pp.226-239.

6. Leon Trotsky on China, pp.221-2.

7. Ibid., pp.225-6, 228.

8. Trotsky, My Life, p.530.

9. Stalin, Sochineniia, Vol.9, pp.311-12.

10. Pravda, 3 August 1927.

11. T. 966, 3075, Arkhiv Trotskogo, Vol.3, p.212.

12. Trotsky, The Stalin School of Falsification, pp.126-48.

13. E.H. Carr, Foundations of a Planned Economy, Vol.1, p.740.

14. M. Reiman, The Birth of Stalinism, London 1987, p.38.

15. Trotsky, Challenge (1926-27), pp.245-6, 248.

16. T. 965, Arkhiv Trotskogo, Vol.3, p.219.

17. Trotsky, Challenge (1926-27), p.253.

18. The War Danger – The Defence Policy and the Opposition, in Trotsky, The Stalin School of Falsification, pp.162-77.

19. Stalin, Works, Vol.10, pp.90-96.

20. KPSS v rez. Vol.2, pp.267-74.

21. See Zinoviev, Draft Speech, T. 995, Arkiv Trotskogo, Vol.4, pp.71-3.

22. T. 997, Arkhiv Trotskogo, Vol.4, pp.80-1.

23. Serge, p.222.

24. Trotsky, An Appeal to Party Members, New International, November 1934.

25. Cliff, Trotsky, Vol.2, pp.239-44.

26. See ibid., pp.269-72.

27. Trotsky, Challenge (1926-27), pp.326, 329.

28. Ibid., pp.327-9.

29. Ibid., pp.331-2.

30. Ibid., p.337.

31. KPSS v rez. Vol.2, p.620.

32. Trotsky, Challenge (1926-27), p.331.

33. Ibid., p.330.

34. V.M. Smirnov, Under Lenin’s Flag, T. 963, 964, Arkhiv Trotskogo, Vol.3, p.150.

35. Trotsky, Challenge (1926-27), pp.311-3.

36. Ibid., pp 313-5.

37. Ibid., p.316.

38. Ibid., p.317.

39. Ibid., pp.318-20.

40. Ibid., p.344.

41. Ibid., pp.351, 358.

42. Ibid., pp.351-2, 354.

43. Ibid., p.392.

44. Trotsky, The Third International After Lenin, p.128.

45. Direktivi KPSS i Sovetskogo Pravitelstva po khoziaistvennym Voprosem, Moscow 1957, Vol.1, pp.590-96.

46. E.A. Preobrazhensky, The New Economics, London 1965, p.88.

47. Ibid., p.89.

48. Ibid., p.240.

49. Ibid., pp.250-1.

50. Ibid., pp.122-3.

51. Ibid., p.137.

52. T. 2984, Arkhiv Trotskogo, Vol.1, p.225.

53. Marx, Selected Writings, ed. D. McLellan, Oxford 1978, pp.170-1.

54. Quoted by A. Nove in his Introduction to Preobrazhensky, The New Economics, p.xv.

Last updated on 5 August 2009