“We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and are under their almost constant fire. We have combined voluntarily, especially. for the purpose of fighting the enemy and not to retreat into the adjacent marsh, the inhabitants of which, right from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group, and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation. And now several in our crowd begin to cry out—let us go into this marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: How conservative you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the right to invite you to take a better road!
“Oh yes, gentlemen! You are free, not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us, and don’t besmirch the grand word ‘freedom’; for we too are ‘free’ to go where we please, free, not only to fight against the marsh, but also those who are turning towards the marsh.” (V. I. Lenin, The Iskra Period, English Edition, Vol. II, p. 97.)
IN these beautiful words written in 1902 Lenin described the meaning of revolutionary proletarian discipline for the Bolshevik Party. The Party is a voluntary association of people who agree to pursue the same task and fight the same enemy. In order to be most effective they must keep order within their ranks. They will tolerate differences of opinion but they will insist on unity of action. The individual who disagrees with a decision is free to leave, but while he is a member, he may not pursue his own road in contradiction to that of the Party. Freedom of opinion exists as long as the Party has not formed its own collective opinion. Once this has happened then opinions contrary to the Party’s must not be spread because that would be disruptive. The more unity and cohesion among the Party members the greater the chances of success.
This is now so evident that it hardly needs particular stressing. Not so, however, with Trotsky. From the early days of his career Trotsky develops a peculiar hatred for the Bolshevik Party organization, for Bolshevik discipline, for Bolshevik unity of thought and action. On this score he fought Lenin for fourteen years, on this score he has been fighting Stalin for twelve years, and on this score he is fighting the Communist International.
It was after the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, which forms the great divide between Bolshevism and Menshevism. The Bolsheviks under Lenin’s leadership advocated and carried through the decision to form a real Bolshevik Party where every member would be under the control of the organization and doing work according to a central plan. The Mensheviks, true to their reformist self, advocated a loose organization in which everybody would be actually free to do as he pleases. Trotsky went with the Mensheviks. In a pamphlet published by the end of 1903 he said about the congress:
“The dead dictated their will to the living. We have been offered for payment a usurer’s bill for the debts of the recent past—and history, with the mercilessness of a Shylock, demanded flesh from the living party organism. Curse! We had to pay. . . . Of course we do not mean to deny hereby the personal responsibility of Comrade Lenin at the second congress of the R.S.D.L.P. This man, with the energy and talent which are natural in him, played the role of a party disorganizes.” (L. Trotsky, The Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, Report of Siberian Delegation, p. 11.)
Here we have it in a nutshell. Trotsky curses the decision to form a real well-organized Bolshevik Party. Lenin to him is the disorganizer of the party because he insisted on a party organization in which petty-bourgeois riff-raff, individualistic intellectuals with their own fancy program and wilful tactics, would have no place. Trotsky exorcises centralism. He thinks that centralism has a purely “formal meaning”. In particular is he incensed against Lenin’s statement that the proletariat is more inclined to discipline than the intellectuals with their anarchistic individualism.
In another pamphlet written about the same time he says:
“What an indignation takes hold of you when you read those hideous wantonly demagogic lies [of Lenin]! The proletariat, that same proletariat of which you were told only yesterday that it naturally drifts toward trade unionism, today already is called to give lessons of political discipline! And to whom? To that same intelligentsia, which, according to the scheme of yesterday, was supposed to play the rôle of bringing into the proletariat the class consciousness, the political consciousness! Yesterday the proletariat was still crawling in the dust, today it has been elevated to an unexpected height! Yesterday the intelligentsia was the bearer of socialist consciousness, today the gauntlet of factory discipline is being invoked against it! And this is Marxism! And this is Social-Democratic thinking! Verily, it is impossible to treat with greater cynicism the best ideological heritage of the proletariat than this is done by Lenin!” (L. Trotsky, Our Political Tasks, 1904, p. 75.)
Trotsky fails to understand the very fundamentals of the Marxian approach to the proletariat and the intelligentsia. It is one of the basic ideas of Marxism that without a Communist Party the proletariat will drift towards mere trade unionism. The Communist Party represents the vanguard of the working class, its best elements, its most courageous and intelligent section. Here the knowledge of that part of the intelligentsia which has identified itself with the working class is of great importance. This kind of intelligentsia helps shape the ideology of the working class. There is no contradiction in the idea that while the bearer of the revolutionary theory and revolutionary practice is the vanguard of the working class, the revolutionary intellectuals also play in this vanguard an important part. And it is almost a truism that the proletariat is more inclined towards discipline, that it understands better the meaning of discipline than the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia which may sympathize with the labor movement but which has not identified itself with the working class.
Note with what contempt Trotsky speaks about the proletariat giving lessons of political discipline to the intelligentsia. This was no accident. Trotsky takes under his protection the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia. Over and over again he stresses the idea that the students and other intellectuals may be of greater importance to the revolution than the professional revolutionists—those who give themselves entirely to the revolution, as visualized by Lenin. Note also the hatred for Lenin.
“Not an accident but a deep ‘omen’ is the fact that the leader of the reactionary wing of our party [our emphasis—M. J. O.] Comrade Lenin, who is defending the tactical methods of caricature Jacobinism, was psychologically forced to give such a definition of Social-Democracy which represents nothing but a theoretical attempt at destroying the class character of our Party. Yes, a theoretical attempt no less dangerous than the political ideas of a Bernstein [the leader of the extreme Right revisionist wing of Social-Democracy.—M. J. O.].” (Ibid., p. 98.)
Lenin, the leader of the reactionary wing of the Social-Democratic Party! These words should be branded with hot iron on the forehead of Trotsky.
For thirty years thereafter he has been calling the Bolsheviks the reactionary wing, the bureaucrats, the dictators over the proletariat, the splitters. In 1904 he declared that Lenin was preparing “a philosophical justification for the split of the Party which he has conspired to accomplish in order to retain and consolidate the remnants of his army”.
Here is his classic formula of Bolshevism to which he is clinging to the present day.
“The barracks régime cannot be the régime of our Party just as the factory cannot be its example. These methods will bring about a situation that the party organization will replace the party, the Central Committee will replace the party organization, and finally the ‘dictator’ will replace the Central Committee. . . The committees will do all the ‘directing’ while ‘the people remain silent’.”
This is how Trotsky understands the organization of a Bolshevik Party.
Years passed. Trotsky had been taken into the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and had fought under the direction of Lenin. He had been elevated to high posts. He had seen the Communist Party in action as leader of the proletariat in a victorious revolution over one-sixth of the surface of the earth. He had seen the same party fighting the most glorious historic battles in the civil war for nearly three years. He had seen the Communist Party working hand in hand with and leading the masses of the peasantry and thus securing the victory of the revolution. He had seen the beginnings of the period of reconstruction when, out of an almost devastated country, the proletariat began to build a new industrial system which was to lay the foundations of socialism. He had seen that which made victory possible—initiative from below, streams of creative energy opened by the dictatorship of the proletariat and directed in a planned way by the Communist Party.
This Party had been led all the time by the great master, Lenin, who devoted a major portion of his gigantic powers to the problem of building the Party. The Party in 1923-24 was just beginning to reorientate itself along the lines of economic reconstruction. It was turning to new tasks. It was changing its psychology from war time to relative peace time. The tasks of peace time were often even more difficult than those of the war. Readjustments, personal and organizational, were accomplished not without friction. The management of industrial affairs was not always efficient. The inner-Party organization did not—could not—always work smoothly. The Party had grown. It was a proletarian party heading the first dictatorship of the proletariat in the world. Imperfections in its organization, unevenness in its function were inevitable.
Did the Party possess enough inner democracy, enough self-criticism, enough flexibility and courage to recognize these defects and to take measures to correct them?
We cannot give here the history of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. Suffice it to mention the Thirteenth Conference of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) that met in January, 1924. This conference discussed the inner-Party situation thoroughly. It criticized shortcomings. Sharply and manfully it pointed out such things as differences in the material situation of the members of the Party; connections of Party members with bourgeois elements and ideological influence of the latter; departmentalism which is to be distinguished from necessary specialization and which has a tendency to weaken the connection between Communists engaged in different branches of work; danger of losing sight of the perspective of socialist construction as a whole and of world revolution; danger of N.E.P.-degeneration on the part of workers who came into closest contact with the bourgeois milieu; bureaucratization of the Party apparatus here and there and the menace of separation from the masses that followed therefrom.
The conference made a thorough survey of the situation. Was it alarmed? There was no cause for alarm. The shortcomings did not really endanger the existence of the Communist Party. The body of the Party was sound. Its ideology was correct. The sources of its vitality were inexhaustible. These sources were the proletarian masses of the Soviet Union. To these masses the conference directed the Party. The conference stated that “the confidence of the proletarian masses in the Party has grown”. It declared as the “fundamental task” of the Party “to recruit new members from the workers at the bench”.
“It is the task of the Party organization to devote particular attention precisely to this category of workers, to do everything possible not to tear them away from productive work, to help them raise their cultural level, and in every possible manner to make easier for them the possibility of actual participation in all the affairs of the Party. The work of increasing the proletarian core of the Party must in the coming few months form one of the most important tasks of all Party organizations.” (Resolution of the Thirteenth Conference of the Russian Communist (Bolshevik) Party.)
Trotsky was present at this conference. He had every chance to present his criticism and to offer remedies. He had no objection against the resolution, which was adopted unanimously. But after all was over he published a pamphlet entitled The New Course, which is a broadside against the Bolshevik Party, against its old tested leaders. His battle cry was—“degeneration”. In this pamphlet he pretends to be the champion of the younger members as against those who had been in the underground before the revolution. He makes the curious statement that it is the students who are the “barometer” of the revolution (and not the workers or the workers-Communists)! In his good old manner he declares that “the Party lives in two stories: in the upper they decide, in the lower they only learn about this decision” (p. 9). He speaks of “bureaucratic self-contentedness and ignoring of the moods, thoughts and requirements of the Party” (p. 9). He goes as far as to speak of an “opportunist degeneration” of the old Party members (p. 11). Again he is afraid, as he was twenty years earlier, that the “apparatus”, the Central Committee, is replacing the Party.
Did Trotsky advance a program different from that of the conference? Could he advance one? He had no program of his own except one point which has to be discussed in a little detail. He demanded “freedom of groupingsI” within the Communist Party. In reality what he demanded was freedom to split the Party into a number of sub-parties fighting each other and each one exercising discipline over its members. He never gave up the vision of a parliament in capitalist countries.
That a party so split cannot lead a revolution, goes without saying.
Lenin was still alive when Trotsky started his opposition. But already at that time he launched an attack against Leninism. He spoke of the Communist Party as “transforming Leninism from a method, the application of which requires initiative, critical thought, ideological courage, into a dogma which requires only interpreters chosen once and for all time”.
It was not the situation in the Party that dictated Trotsky’s “new course”. It was not the defects of the Party apparatus. It was the influence of the petty bourgeoisie outside the Party, it was its hostility to Bolshevism that found expression in Trotsky’s broadside. It was counter-revolution. Had he really been concerned with the revolution, he would have stopped his criticism right after Lenin’s death when within a few weeks one quarter million workers from the factories and plants poured into the Communist Party to replace, as they said, Lenin’s leadership by collective leadership of the workers. Trotsky did not stop. He sharpened his attacks. He formed a faction within the Party. Through the propaganda of this faction he was undermining the unity and the striking power of the Party.
The Thirteenth Conference of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. characterized his opposition as “not only a direct moving-away from Leninism but also a clearly expressed petty-bourgeois trend downward”.
Years pass. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union is going from victory to victory. Its tasks grow. Its work assumes gigantic proportions. Its theoretical equipment deepens and broadens. Its unity becomes stronger. It is a monolith. The “catastrophe” which Trotsky predicted in 1924 did not materialize. The accusation of being a party of Nepmen and kulaks was wiped off and made ridiculous by subsequent developments. And yet Trotsky maintains the same attitude toward the Bolshevik Party of the Soviet Union that he had towards it in 1904, in 1914, and in 1924. Only in place of Lenin he has now as a target of attack—Stalin.
He transfers his attack on Bolshevik party organization to the international field. Centralism, now as before, is so abhorrent to his Menshevik conceptions that he sees in it the destruction of the Party. The Communist International, and the Communist Parties that form its national Sections, are just as obnoxious to him in consequence of their Bolshevik organization, as was obnoxious the Bolshevik Party under Lenin. He uses the same invectives against the Communist International that became a habit with him in attacking the Bolshevik Party of pre-revolutionary Russia. And always he does it ostensibly in the name of “inner-Party democracy” and “freedom of criticism” which nobody is denied in the Communist International.
In one of his books Marx cites the German philosopher, Hegel, as saying that all great world-historic facts and persons occur, as it were, twice. Marx says that Hegel forgot to add that they happen once as a tragedy, the second time as a farce. Trotsky’s rantings against the Bolshevik method of organization have never been a world-historic event. But if his first attack seemed to have the traits of tragedy and the second the traits of farce, then what are the third and the forth and the hundredth? You would say they are grotesque if it were not for their counter-revolutionary substance.
The following is as near a coherent explanation why the Bolshevik method of organization is wrong as can be found in his writings.
“Bolshevism [he says] always distinguished itself by a historical concretization in elaborating organization forms, but not by naked schemes [the English is the translator’s, not ours—M. J. O.]. The Bolsheviks changed their organizational structure radically at every transition from one stage to another. Now, on the contrary, one and the same principle of ‘revolutionary organization’ is applied to the powerful Party of the proletarian dictatorship as well as to the German Communist Party, which presents a serious political factor, to the young Chinese Party, which was immediately drawn into the vortex of revolutionary struggles, as well as, finally, to the Party of the U.S.A., which really constitutes but a small propaganda circle.” (Leon Trotsky, Strategy of the World Revolution, 1930, pp. 74-75.)
Not one iota is true in all this “theory”. Trotsky makes believe he is fighting for adequate organizational forms whereas in reality he is fighting against the fundamental Bolshevik organizational principles. He is against the very essence of Bolshevik organization which consists in having one undivided party, one party line, one policy, one leadership, while changing the forms of organizations and methods of work in accordance with changing conditions. He conveniently forgets that he always was opposed to Bolshevik organization which he now pretends to praise. He always remained the petty-bourgeois individualist, the inheritor of the “lord of the manor’s” (as Lenin called it) hatred for proletarian organization.
What is the principle of Bolshevik organization? It is democratic centralismI.
“Democratic centralism of the Communist Party organization must be a real synthesis, a fusion of centralism and proletarian democracy. This fusion can be achieved only on the basis of continuous common action, continuous common struggle of the entire Party organization as a whole. Centralization in a Communist Party means, not formal mechanical centralization, but centralization of Communist action, i.e., the formation of a leadership that is strong, endowed with striking power, and flexible. . . . Only the enemies of Communism can assert that the Communist Party, by virtue of leading the proletarian class struggle and centralizing this Communist leadership, strives to domination over the revolutionary proletariat. This is a lie.” (Thesis of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921.)
Democratic centralism allows for a maximum of flexibility, a maximum of unity, a maximum of striking power. The organizational principles of Bolshevism are not a dead dogma but a living and enlivening force.
“The Party of revolutionary Marxism denies in principle the search for an absolutely correct form of party organization fit for all stages of the revolutionary process, or for such absolutely correct methods of its work. On the contrary, the form of organization and the methods of work are entirely determined by the peculiarities of a given concrete historical situation and by the tasks that directly arise out of this situation.” (Resolution of the Tenth Congress, Communist Party, U.S.S.R., 1921.)
These are the guiding principles of Bolshevik organization in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and in the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries. The Parties differ in strength, in experience, in the concrete tasks confronting each of them, but they are united in their aim and in the principles of their organization. Everywhere the Bolsheviks insist on complete ideological unity, which means agreement of all Party members on basic principles and tactics. In all stages of development the Bolshevik Parties maintain strict discipline which is not mechanical but based on an understanding by every member of what is to be done and why. Bolshevik principles have proven sound and fruitful for the organization of the proletariat of the most advanced as well as of the comparatively backward countries. These are essentially principles of battle formation, because the life of the Communist Party is never that of peace, since even in the times of comparative quiet it heads the class struggle which always, in one way or another, has the elements of civil war.
The shop nucleus and the Party fraction—these foundations of Bolshevik organization—are instruments of proletarian advance both before, during, and after the revolution. They allow for the greatest adaptation to conditions and for the greatest unity of action. If Trotsky fails to understand why these foundations of revolutionary organization are applicable both to the Soviet Union and to Germany as well as to the Chinese Party, it is his misfortune. But that does not do away with the fact that they have been singularly successful under all conditions. If Trotsky refers to the Communist Party of the United States he only defeats himself. It is because the Communist International did not wish to allow the Communist Party of the U.S.A. to be a “small propaganda circle” that it insisted on basing the Party on shop nuclei and on developing fractions. A propaganda circle does not need a Bolshevik apparatus. But a party of action, a Bolshevik Party leading masses in the class struggle, must possess an apparatus which is rooted in the masses and which can move them by virtue of the closest contact with them in the struggle for their everyday needs. The shop nucleus and the Party fraction are not canned organizations walled-in in their own circle and insulated from the other workers. They must be the live wire in every factory, mine and workers’ organization, defending the basic rights of the workers, occupying the forefront of every struggle and thus becoming the leader of the masses.
It is obvious that if such an organization is not well organized and well disciplined, it will not be able to fulfil its task.
“Lenin warned tirelessly against excesses regarding centralism”, says Trotsky. Of course, Lenin warned against formal centralism which is not a synthesis of centralism and proletarian democracy. Of course he warned against mechanical centralism and advocated a living connection between Party leadership and the rank-and-file Party members on the one hand, and between the Party and the broad proletarian masses outside the Party on the other. But as to discipline, this is what he wrote in the Conditions of Admittance to the Comintern:
“At the present epoch of sharpened civil war the Communist Party will be able to fulfill its duty only when it will be organized in the most centralized manner, only when there will be dominant in it an iron discipline bordering on military discipline and when its party center will be a powerful authoritative organ with broad jurisdiction enjoying the general confidence of the members of the Party.” (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Russian Edition, Vol. XXV, pp. 282-283.)
This is said about Party discipline where power has not yet been conquered by the proletariat. As to a party which, like that of the U.S.S.R., is heading a dictatorship of the proletariat, Lenin said:
“He who in the least degree weakens the iron discipline of the Party of the proletariat (particularly during its dictatorship) actually helps the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.” (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Russian Edition, Vol. XXV, p. 190.)
Trotsky helps the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.
As to factions. In his advocacy of “freedom of groupings” within the Communist Party Trotsky actually defended the interests of hostile forces against the interests of the proletarian class struggle. He is the factionalist supreme. He never worked in a mass organization as its loyal member. He always managed to organize around himself a group, a clique, a retinue of admirers. He fought Lenin, he fought Stalin, he fights the Communist International. He organized a faction in 1920—but was smashed. He organized a faction when Lenin was alive in 1922. He maintained this faction for many years although he publicly foreswore it several times (what is Trotsky’s word when he deals with the Bolshevik Party!). He subscribed publicly to the decisions of the Fifteenth Conference of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. (October, 1926) which prohibited factions—and he immediately broke his pledge.
“Without temporary ideological groupings, the ideological life of the Party is unthinkable”, he writes in his Strategy of the World Revolution. “Without a real freedom of Party life, freedom of discussion and freedom of collective—and under that also of group—elaboration of their paths, these Parties [of the C.I.] will never become a revolutionary power” (p. 75).
Why are groupings necessary? Suppose the Party discusses the question of the best methods of work in the labor unions. Suppose the majority agrees that the Communists must work in the reformist unions, must build them up to become a militant organization. Suppose a minority says that the revolutionary workers must leave the reformist unions and form separate revolutionary unions of their own. As long as the question is not decided yet, every member of the Party has the right and duty to advance his opinion when this problem is discussed. This is freedom of discussion. Groupings are not necessary for this purpose. But suppose the majority of the Party has decided in favor of working inside the reformist unions. Under such conditions the minority must stop agitation in favor of its line. What Trotsky proposes is that his minority be allowed to function as a group, that it be given freedom for “group elaboration” of its “path”. What is that “path”? Obviously a fight against the majority of the Party.
Either “freedom of groupings” means nothing, then it is sheer nonsense, or it means freedom to form a party within a party—that freedom which Trotsky took for himself all his life.
Such “freedom” weakens the Party, undermines it, creates in the Party a state of seige and demoralizes the forces of the revolution. When this happens, says Stalin, the Party is faced “with the danger of being transformed into a plaything in the hands of the agents of the bourgeoisie”.
Trotsky calls himself “true Bolshevik-Leninist”, but the more he rants the more does he stand exposed as an enemy of every principle advocated and fought for by Lenin. His article in the reactionary magazine, Liberty, of March 23, 1935, entitled “If America Should Go Communist”, is extremely illuminating. Trotsky speaks to the bourgeoisie of America but of course he has in mind the workers. He tries to convince his readers that a revolution in America would be child’s play. “The American Communistic Revolution will he insignificant compared to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia”, he declares, disregarding the fact that the American bourgeoisie is vastly better organized, enlightened and equipped than was the Russian bourgeoisie. The obvious lesson for the workers from this Trotsky thesis is that there is no need of organizing a strong Communist Party of great masses. “Civil war . . . isn’t fought by a handful of men at the top—the five or ten per cent who owns nine-tenths of American wealth”, declares Trotsky, “disregarding the great influence of those “five or ten per cent” on the middle class in the cities and on the rich farmers. (It is highly significant that the man who says socialism in one country is impossible because all the exploited classes will turn against the proletariat as soon as the latter seizes power, now reverses himself and says that everybody will be for socialism as soon as the capitalist government is defeated—anything to delude the workers.) “Everybody below this group [of five or ten per cent] is already economically prepared for Communism”, says Trotsky. Obviously, with such a great number of ready Communists, there is no need of forging the ranks of a real proletarian party in these United States.
“Without compulsion!”—this is the slogan advanced by Trotsky for America, for the American Soviets. In a country where violence and bloodshed mark every step of the ruling class in relation to the workers, Trotsky wishes to impress on the workers—in true Norman Thomas-clergyman fashion—that “the American Soviets would not need to resort to the drastic measures which circumstances have often imposed upon the Russians”. Trotsky tries to kill two birds with one stone: on the one hand he aims to show that the Russian workers were wrong in using “too much” force and violence against the counter-revolution of the bourgeoisie and the landlords, on the other hand he attempts to “teach” the American workers that their revolution will be a feast of amiable cooperation on the part of the property-owning classes and that the Leninist approach to revolution and the Leninist method of organization and struggle do not apply on this side of the ocean. Not in vain is Trotsky the father of the Lovestoneite theory of American “exceptionalism”.
It must be noted, though, that Trotsky does not see any reason why the property-owning classes, with the exception of the heads of the biggest trusts, should be alarmed by a Soviet Revolution. He proposes to have them continue their businesses on the basis of private ownership and private operation even after the revolution. The government, he says, must give them allotments of raw materials, credits, and quotas of orders until these businesses “were gradually and without compulsion sucked into the socialized business system”. The man who once raved against the New Economic Policy in the Soviet Union where it was an economic and political necessity, now advocates a wide semi-capitalist system in America for the period after the revolution where there is no necessity for it because the country is economically ready for socialism. Anything to corrupt the minds of the workers—up to and including the reformism of the Old Guard leaders of the Socialist Party in America (why not purchase the businesses from their owners at the price of governmental bonds, as proposed by some Socialists? This will be even more “without compulsion”.)
Most eloquent, however, is Trotsky’s plea for bourgeois democracy in the American Soviet. Here he completely exposes his naked political self—a worshipper at the shrine of the political system of capitalism.
He envisages the American Soviet not as the dictatorship of the proletariat but as a conglomeration of parties and groups fighting each other. “With us [meaning Russia],” he says in his Liberty article, “the Soviets have been bureaucratized as a result of the political monopoly of a single party.” No such thing must ever happen in America. Not only must there be groups and grouplets within the Communist Party—more than that; the Party itself must have no “political monopoly”. There must be several parties with equal rights, i.e., with no special privileges for any. Whom will those parties represent? If the Communist Party represents the workers, then obviously the other parties must represent the rich farmers, the poor farmers, the middle bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie, perhaps the intellectuals. How will those parties function? Naturally, by struggle. “A wide struggle between interests, groups, and ideas is not only conceivable—it is inevitable,” says Trotsky. Splendid. A Soviet very much resembling a bourgeois parliament. Several parties represented in it with equal rights. Each party fighting the others. Several parties making a coalition to defeat the dangerous common rival. Why not a coalition of all the other parties against the party of the workers? This latter party, in Trotsky’s conception, should be split into a number of legalized groups and factions with their own separate platforms. The population will have its choice of parties, groups, programs. No special discipline is needed for any party; no monolithic unity for the Communist Party. (It is characteristic that in his Liberty scheme Trotsky does not mention the Communist Party at all.) A majority of votes in the legislative chamber will decide the policy to follow. Among the major questions thus to be fought out is also “the transformation of the farms”, .i.e., the transition from capitalist to socialist agriculture. Should there be a majority of votes, against collectivization, this will then be the “will of the people”. Each party and group will have its own press, “for Soviet America will not imitate the monopoly of the press by the heads of Soviet Russia’s bureaucracy”. Each group and party will receive its share of the press “on the basis of proportional representation for the votes in each Soviet election”, “the same principle being applied to the use of meeting halls, allotment of time on the air and so forth”.
Underlying this idyllic picture is a conception of a Soviet in which private business flourishes and the State organization is copied after capitalist parliaments. The assumption is that there is no counter-revolution, no attempts on the part of the bourgeoisie to overthrow the new system, no necessity for the workers to defend the revolution against attacks from within and without, no necessity, therefore, to be organized in a powerful fighting political organization with discipline of an almost military strictness and with unity of will and action which insures quick and effective striking possibilities. What Trotsky pictures is not a proletariat organized in fighting formation and drawing to itself allies from other formerly oppressed classes while suppressing counter-revolution and abolishing classes, but a heterogeneous mass of humanity divided, owing allegiance to various parties and party splinters and defending their “interests, groups and ideas”. How unity can be achieved under those conditions, remains a secret of Trotsky’s. But then he does not worry much about unity because his slogan is, “Without compulsion!”
The petty bourgeois, afraid of a strong proletarian State, afraid of a strong proletarian party, unwilling to see the proletariat exercise revolutionary power—shows here his class nature more clearly than he has ever done this before.
What he pictures as the American Soviet has nothing to do with the dictatorship of the proletariat as taught and practiced by Lenin.
“The dictatorship of the proletariat is the most stubborn, the most acute, the most merciless struggle of the new class against the more powerful enemy, the bourgeoisie, whose resistance has grown tenfold after it has been overthrown. The dictatorship of the proletariat is a stubborn struggle, bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, pedagogical and administrative, against the powers and traditions of the old society.” (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Russian Edition, Vol. XXV, pp. 173-190.)
The reason for Trotsky’s “criticisms” and “warnings” very simple. Whatever does not fit his bourgeois parliamentary ideas he denounces as “bureaucracy”. Whatever represents real dictatorship of the proletariat, real proletarian revolutionary unity, the petty bourgeois in Trotsky decries as “paralyzing the revolution”. A true Bolshevik Party molded along Leninist lines becomes a “Stalinist faction”.
Next: 8. The Anglo-Russian Committee