BY the end of 1928 a group of Trotskyites was expelled from the Communist Party of the U.S.A. This group, by Cannon and Shachtman, had formed a faction within the Communist Party and had begun to carry on an anti-Party campaign. The Party at that time was divided into two factions: the Fosterites and the Lovestoneites—and these factions led an almost open existence. At any rate, they were known both to the Party membership and to the Communist international to exist. The Trotskyites, true to the tradition their chief, kept the existence of their faction a secret. They had never undertaken to discuss Trotskyism within the Party committees. They had never advanced any program different from the program of the existing factions. In fact, they pretended that they had no differences of opinion that would clash with the opinions of one or the other faction. Nevertheless they banded together in a secret group hatching a conspiracy against the Party as a whole.
They were a group of a dozen or two intellectuals without a mass base. Their nominal leader, Cannon, a former lawyer, had no background of either ideological or organizational work. He had been a member of the Central Committee in the days when Party life was abnormal, but he never had any contact with broad masses of workers. Shachtman, who became the “theoretician” of the Trotskyites, had been a minor functionary in the Party. They had no roots in the working class. Their “activities” in the U.S. consist in slandering the Soviet Union and the Comintern, and in vilifying the Communist Party of the U.S.A. At times they inject themselves into an economic struggle of the workers—only to help the reactionary union bureaucrats—and the bosses.
We shall confine ourselves to a few characteristic samples.
On June 23, 1931, Stalin delivered a speech at a conference of leaders of Soviet industry on “New Conditions, New Tasks”. In this speech Stalin enumerated six points—six new conditions for the development of industry. The first three points dealt with the organization of work, the organization of wages and the improvement of the conditions of the workers, the fourth point dealt with the task of bringing forward and developing the best elements of the working class so that “the working class of the U.S.S.R. has its own industrial and technical intelligentsia”. “It is not any kind of highly trained personnel, of engineers and technicians, that we need”, Stalin said. “We need such as are capable of understanding the policy of the working class of our country, who are capable of absorbing that policy and are prepared to carry it out conscientiously. And what does that imply? It implies that our country has entered on a phase of its development where the working class must create its own technical and industrial intelligentsia, one that is capable of protecting its interests in production as the interests of the governing class.” Stalin then points out that the industrial and technical intelligentsia is to be recruited not only from people who have passed through higher schools of learning, “but also from the rank and file workers in our industries, from the skilled workers, from the working class cultural forces in the mines, factories, and workshops. . . . We must not ignore and overlook these workers with initiative, but advance them boldly to commanding positions, give them the opportunity to display their capacity for organization and the opportunity to extend their knowledge, and create suitable conditions for them to work in, and not spare any expense for this purpose.” [Our emphasis—M. J. O.]
The fifth point dealt with the engineers and technicians of the old school. Stalin said the Soviet Union must make greater use of these technical forces. There is a new mental attitude on the part of the old bourgeois intelligentsia, says Stalin. Many of the old intellectuals who formerly sympathized with the wreckers have now turned toward the Soviet. “If, during the height of the wrecking movement”, says Stalin, “we adopted smashing tactics towards the old technical intelligentsia, now, when these intellectuals are turning towards the Soviet Power, our policy towards them must be one of conciliation and solicitude. It would be foolish and unwise to regard almost every expert and engineer of the old schools as an undetected criminal and wrecker.” The sixth point dealt with introducing more efficient business accounting and with the necessity “to increase the accumulation of capital within industry itself” (Joseph Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II, pp. 426-412).
The speech had the effect of a vitalizing force throughout the Soviet Union. Here was a number of practical suggestions which actually showed the way of improving work both in industry and agriculture. Here was a new vista opened, only confirming Stalin’s previous statement that there were no fortresses the Bolsheviks could not take. A thrill of joy passed through the Soviet land because in this speech millions and millions of workers and engineers saw encouragement for their work and the deep conviction that the momentous task of the Five-Year Plan could be achieved.
But what did the American Trotskyites have to say about Stalin’s speech? They saw in it—a step backward. “There is no doubt that the whole spirit of Stalin’s ‘new policy’, the formal and official adoption of which is naturally a foregone conclusion, marks a new step backward from the revolutionary policies of Lenin’s time”, says The Militant for July 11, 1931. Why this is a step backward, the Trotskyites cannot explain. Wherein it differs from the policies of Lenin, except that it deals with new problems on a new stage of development, is equally difficult to detect.
But lo, these Trotskyites have discovered a hook on which to hang their calumnies. “Socialism,” says The Militant “cannot be built up by bourgeois specialists. Not even the foundation for a socialist economy can be laid by them. They can be of great aid, but the main task requires the whole-hearted enthusiastic, collective initiative, self-activity and participation of the proletarian masses.”
It would seem from the above that Stalin, the initiator of socialist competition, is against collective initiative and self-activity of the proletariat. The Trotskyite gentry assume that their readers did not read Stalin’s speech.
This is about the size of all their attacks on the U.S.S.R. Action that was intended to hasten socialist construction, action that marked a decisive step forward in the completion of the Five-Year Plan is pictured as surrender to the bourgeoisie, as a step backward.
And so it goes on to this very day.
Their attitude towards the Communist International is exemplified by their attitude towards the Soviet Union. When the world proletariat celebrated the new victory achieved by the dictatorship of the proletariat through the recognition of the Soviet government by the government of the United States, the Trotskyites joined with the Social-Democrats of all stripes and with the bourgeoisie in picturing the recognition as a surrender on the part of the Communist International. The terms of the agreement between Litvinov and Roosevelt, which followed exactly the line laid down by Lenin in 1919 for similar problems at that time, were interpreted to mean that the Soviet government agrees to the abandonment of Communist activities in the United States. By this the Trotskyites, first, concurred in the bourgeois contention that the Soviet government and the Comintern are one and the same thing, secondly, they were trying to interpret a victory of the world proletariat as a defeat.
The rôles were divided. Trotsky hypocritically assured the American bourgeoisie through the New Republic that it had nothing to fear of Soviet recognition, while the American Trotskyites dilated upon the “betrayal” of Communism by the Comintern.
“The more decisively the Soviet bureaucracy has intrenched itself in its position as to national socialism, the more the questions of international revolution, and with them the Comintern, have been relegated to the background. . . . The present Soviet Government seeks, with might and main, to insure its internal security against risk connected not only with wars but revolutions. Its international policies have been transformed from international-revolutionary policies into those which are conservative.” (Leon Trotsky, The New Republic, November 1, 1933.)
Said The Militant of October 21, 1933:
“The Comintern is dead for the revolution. . . . The present Comintern is an expensive apparatus for the weakening of the proletarian vanguard. That is all! It is not capable of doing more. . . . The Comintern, as the central apparatus, has become a brake on the revolutionary movement.”
The Trotskyites give their support to the lie of the bourgeoisie that the Comintern is an agency of the Soviet Government, that the Soviet Government is directly dictating the policies of the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries. This is one of their many ways of helping reaction.
Their fulminations against the Comintern must not be understood as an expression of their displeasure with the slow progress of the world revolution. The fact is that the greater the achievements of the Soviet Union and the higher the rising wave of revolutionary movements the world over, the louder the Trotskyites shout that the Soviet Union is in a state of collapse and the Comintern is “dead”.
The attitude of the Trotskyites towards the Communist Part of the U.S.A. is naturally dictated by the same sentiments. Just at the time when the Communist Party of the U.S.A., having to make headway, just at the time when it actually put itself at the head of large masses of unemployed, actually formulating their demands and leading them in numerous struggles for bread, for unemployment insurance, just at the time when it was increasingly connecting itself with mass strikes of workers in the basic industries, forming their most militant and class-conscious vanguard, just at the time when the Party was beginning to function as a real Communist Party which was inspiring even sections of the petty bourgeoisie with confidence and the ruling class with fear, the Trotskyites found the following to say about it:
“The Communist Party of the United States has, in general, only stagnation or regression to record. . . . The leadership imposed upon the Party behind its back at the Seventh Convention has showed a tragic bankruptcy in all fields. [The party leadership was duly elected at a convention of duly elected delegates after a two-months’ discussion in the on units of the Party, in Section and District conferences on the problems of the day, the program and tactics of the Communist Party—M. J. O.] The crisis in the leadership of the Communist Party has assumed a permanent character, increasing in acuteness in district proportion to the increasing possibilities of success. [Just at the time the leadership of the Party was gaining the confidence of the rank and file in a manner never known in its history. For the first time there was being established a real understanding and mutual confidence between leadership and the bulk of the Party. This expressed itself in a new spirit of hopefulness and enthusiasm among the Party members—a spirit which infected non-Party members—M. J. O.]. The party members are ruled like political serfs, the regime is increasingly mechanized; all live and free internal life, all initiative, all inquiry and discussion of vital problems are strangled upon appearance. [This was the time when the wave of mass strikes in which the Party participated, and the movement of the unemployed which the Party initiated, organized and led, necessitated the broadest discussion of the new tasks confronting the Party, the new methods of work to be applied, and the initiative from below that had to be stimulated. It is just at that time that new life was poured into the lower units of the Party, and for the first time in many years there was a real, throbbing vitality permeating many sections of the Party—M. J. O.]. The membership is taught a reactionary contempt for theoretical considerations and is instilled instead with a vulgar ‘practicalness’. It is told, in effect, to do the work it is commanded to and not to do any thinking or discussing about it. [In the last few years, especially since the unification of the Party in 1929, the sale of literature increased tenfold. Fundamental works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, were distributed among the Party members and the workers generally by the hundreds of thousands. Rich libraries of pamphlets dealing with every phase of American and international life were published. Party problems, in the first place the necessity of theoretical study, are being discussed not only in closed Party units, but also in open membership gatherings to which every worker is admitted. Never has the Party led such an intense ideological life as it does at present—M. J. O.] It is constantly taken by surprise with new ‘turns’, in which the old policy is just as little explained away as the new policy is justified. [If the Party were not adapting itself to new conditions, the Trotskyites would say that it is stagnating; when it does adapt itself to changing conditions thet call it ‘sudden turns’.—M. J. O.]” (The Militant, July 25, 1931. “Thesis for Pre-Conference Discussion.”)
The unwary reader, upon seeing the Trotskyites denounce what they call bueaucratism and “stagnation”, would naturally conclude that those people are Bolsheviks who like nothing better than to advance the cause of the revolution. Nothing of the kind. They let the cat out of the bag in the following “demand” to the Party:
“The Party must discard its exaggerated analysis of the tempo of development of the working class and must adjust its course to the real relationship of forces in the class struggle and the pace of its development. The Party must finally rid itself of the ruinous baggage of remnants of the ‘third period’ and particularly of the theory of ‘social fascism’.” (Ibid.)
Here we have it. The Party, don’t you see, overestimates the tempo of the revolutionary development in the U.S.A. The Trotskyites do not believe there is such a development in existence. In 1931, two years after the beginning of the crisis, they deny the possibility of a revolutionary upsurge. They still persist that there is no such thing as the third period. There is no radicalization, in their opinion. Above all things they are wroth at the fact that the Communists call the Waldmans, Solomons, Lees, Cahans, Pankens, and other reactionaries in the leadership of the Socialist Party social-fascists. Mr. Cannon does not think that they are social-fascists. He thinks they are good Socialists. The Party is doing them wrong.
Before elections the Trotskyites sanctimoniously “endorse” the Communist Party. They write in their Militant: “Vote Communist.” In the article itself they explain that the vote is to show “how negatively have the wrong Stalinist policies and program repelled this Leftward shift”. In other words, they appeal to the voters to show that the Communists are wrong. How can they show it? Naturally, by refraining from voting the Communist ticket.
They call this “strategy”. The strategy of renegades.
The practical activities of the Trotskyites are limited mainly to interference of tiny grouplets with the undertakings of the workers under Communist leadership, be it strikes, the movements of the unemployed, demonstrations or hunger marches. Here is an example:
The Communist Party is organizing a national hunger march for the end of November, 1932. The hunger march is a real united front movement. The delegates are elected at meetings of labor unions, unemployed councils, mass meetings, mass workers’ conferences. The overwhelming majority of the delegates are non-Party workers. Many of them participate for the first time in mass action. The Trotskyites, who ostensibly clamor for the united front, are here to pour some of their venom in connection with the march. What do they have to say? Simply this—that the leadership of the march does not advocate unemployment insurance. “Immediate relief is to replace unemployment insurance as the main central slogan”, so they interpret the movement. Their task is to show that the hunger march is not to be supported. They call it “a subordinated auxiliary Communist work”—thereby implying that as such it does not deserve actual support (The Militant, Nov. 5, 1932).
Such are the tactics of the Trotskyites. That much is the value of their declamation about the united front.
It cannot be said that they were a factor in the strike movement of the last years. Only in isolated cases, by sufferance of the leaders of the A. F. of L., did individual Trotskyites inject themselves into a strike situation—there to carry out the policies of the reformists. In the Paterson textile strike of September-October, 1933, which was betrayed by the Lovestoneites, Keller and Rubenstein, the participation of the Trotskyites expressed itself mainly in collaboration with the union bureaucrats. The Communists were called splitters and traitors whereas Keller and Rubenstein were painted as the real fighters.
In one instance they did succeed in assuming part of the leadership of a strike and that was in the truck drivers’ strike in Minneapolis in the summer of 1934. Three Trotskyites, Brown, Dunne and Skoglund, were the leaders of Local 574 of the General Drivers’ Union under whose auspices the strike was conducted. These leaders gave the strike a typical reformist turn.
The employers were trying to spread the red scare. The leaders of Local 574, instead of explaining to the workers the meaning of such a scare, denied that they were Communists. In a leaflet issued during the strike we read:
“Don’t allow the red scare to keep you from coming to this meeting. If we were ‘Reds’ and ‘Communists’, why haven’t we pulled the petroleum industry out on strike where a large part of our organization is?”
This was subsequently lauded by The Militant as “facing the issue squarely”.
“In ’Frisco, the cry of Communist tore a deep hole in the strike front. In Minneapolis, it was a complete dud. The leaders faced the issue squarely. They did not rush into print denying their accusations. Nor did they shout their opinions to the wide world.” (The Militant, August 25, 1934.)
There was the issue of martial law in connection with that strike. Governor Olson of Minnesota declared martial law in Minneapolis. The employers, organized in the Citizens’ Alliance, fought the martial law because they did not want Olson to have too much power and because they believed that the strike could be well taken care of by local police. The Citizens’ Alliance applied in the courts for an injunction against martial law. The governor stood firm against the lifting of martial law. The Trotskyites upheld the governor. Brown, president of Local 574, declared: “We are naturally pleased to see the governor’s hand upheld in his declaration of martial law and I believe that the decision contributes to the development of conditions likely to end this strike.”
The Trotskyites proceeded from the premise that Olson, being a Farmer-Laborite, is really not representing the capitalists, that he is some kind of a neutral person who can be swayed one way or another.
The continuation of martial law meant the defeat of the strike. Instead of fighting martial law by continuing mass picketing, by broadening the strike, by calling out other industries for the support of the truck drivers’ strike, the Trotskyites put their hope in Olson.
There was a great sentiment for a general strike in Minneapolis. The Communist Party advanced the idea of a united labor conference which should decide the question of a general strike “with the object to fight for the rights of the workers to join unions of their own choice, for the right to picket, for freedom of speech and assemblage, the release of our brothers in the stockade and for the lifting of all military regulations, which threaten to break the strike”. The Communists pointed to the experience of San Francisco where a general strike tied up nearly all economic activities for five days. They said: What was done in San Francisco can be done in Minneapolis. The Trotskyites were faced with such an overwhelming sentiment of the workers in favor of the general strike that they could not reject it point blank. They did it—by referring the question to the leaders of the A. F. of L. in Minnesota.
Says the Organizer, official strike organ, August 18, 1934:
“In view of the concerted attack on Local 574 by all the forces of capital, is labor ready to bring its own reserves into action [i.e., call a general strike—M. J. O.]? That is the question. The answer rests, first, with the leaders of organized labor in Minneapolis, and second, with the rank and file of the individual unions with whom the power of decision rests.”
“The leaders of organized labor”—those were the reformists of the Central Labor Union of Minneapolis who were opposed tooth and nail to the general strike.
The general strike was killed. The truck drivers’ demands were not satisfied although the strikers had the power to force concessions from the employers.
What is the rôle of the Trotskyites? They cover themselves with revolutionary phrases. They make believe they are terribly concerned over the progress of the world revolution. In reality they hamper the revolutionary movement by their propaganda and their tactics. This small band of disgruntled petty-bourgeois individuals has one aim—to discredit revolutionary theory and revolutionary practice.
The following passage from one of the Trotskyite “theses” fits the authors perfectly. “The task of the Left Opposition”, they say, “is not the organization of a new party out of the semi-reformist, semi-syndicalist, demoralized, passive, burned-out elements on the fringe of the Communist movement”. The Trotskyites unconsciously gave an excellent picture of themselves. These people have nothing but hatred—hatred for the living revolutionary movement of the masses, hatred for an organized Bolshevik Party that heads the revolutionary movement, hatred for democratic centralism which guarantees a maximum of force with a maximum initiative from below in a Bolshevik Party, hatred for the prototype of Bolshevism—the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R., hatred for the leaders of that Party, and hatred for the Communist International.
In the name of “Communism” they speak the same language as Hamilton Fish, Matthew Woll, William Randolph Hearst, and Abraham Cahan.
Says The Militant for February 10, 1934:
“The fact is that if in the struggle for power the fascists have borrowed greatly from Bolshevism, then in the last period the Soviet bureaucracy has familiarized itself with many traits of victorious fascism, first of all by getting rid of the control of the Party and establishing the cult of the Leader.”
With an innocent mien the Trotskyites ask: Why is there still such a “harsh” dictatorship in the Soviet Union? We were told, they say, that Socialism means the abolition of classes. That being so, there must be no internal enemies left. Why then a strong government?
“The harsh character of the dictatorship is caused by the need of suppressing the resistance of the overthrown ruling classes and to undermine their economic roots. But according to the official theory the basic task of the workers’ state is in the main achieved. The Second Five-Year Plan will merely have to complete it.”
“The Second Five-Year Plan . . . . does not foresee at all a mitigation of government coercion, nor a decrease in the budget of the G.P.U. The ruling bureaucracy does not prepare in the least to give up its commanding positions, on the contrary, it supplies them with ever new and more material guarantees.” (The Militant, February 10, 1934.)
When these lines were written did the Trotskyites of America maintain a direct connection with the “Leningrad Center” out of which came the assassination of Kirov, or were they only appraised of its existence? We wonder.
One thing seems clear: when these gentry complain against the “ruling bureaucracy”, against the G.P.U., against what they call “coercion”, when they are dissatisfied with discipline that exists, as they say, “even within the formal framework of the Party”, when they exaggerate about the “harshness” of the dictatorship of the proletariat, saying that it never was so even “during the years of the civil war”,—they speak for themselves. They would like the dictatorship of the proletariat to be lax so as to allow the Trotskyite disrupters to do their evil work undisturbed.
When they receive a blow, when they see that Soviet justice can be merciless against the class enemy, they put forward James P. Cannon to propose action.
“We contend [says Cannon] that the present methods of the Stalin leadership . . . . is aiming a mortal blow at the Russian revolution itself. The Stalin group would lead the Soviet Union, as it led the German working class, blindfolded to catastrophe. The international working class is the one power in the world that can prevent this catastrophe. It must do so in its own interest, as well as in the interest of the Russian Revolution.
“The international working class must come to the aid of the Soviet Union now against the mortal dangers which menace it from within.” (The Militant, December 22, 1934.)
Leaving aside all the protestations of friendship for the “revolution” in the abstract, for the “working class” generally—what does this outpouring mean? It is an appeal to action. It prepares the minds of the workers for the support of intervention in the Soviet Union. It makes the reader believe that anything is better than the rule of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union.
From this to the decision ofsome inflamed follower to kill the leaders of the revolution—is only one step.
Political groups and parties should be judged not by their words, but by their deeds, we were told by Lenin many times. The crowning deed of the American Trotskyites reveals them in full light. They fused with the Musteites in the Workers Party of the U.S.
Who is Muste? We shall quote the Trotskyites themselves. In The Militant for July 4, 1931, they speak about “the inherent reformist position of the Muste type of ‘progressive’.” After the formation by Muste of the Conference for Progressive Labor Action, The Militant had the following to say editorially. First it enumerated a number of names, one of them a former Lovestoneite “who renounced even that mild variety of Communism in order to crawl into the C.P.L.A.”; then another one who was expelled from the Communist Party and had since been engaged in defending the Hillman regime of blackjacking the workers; then Muste himself, “the leader of pseudo-progressives in the labor movement”, and then it continued:
“These are elements without a political home, the classic exponents of centrism who seek to repeat today the farcical experiment made a decade ago with the formation of a ‘Two and a Half International’. That the sponsors of the new Party have their eyes turned towards the recent attempts made by the ‘Left’ wing leaders of the British Independent Labor Party to build a new ‘International’ cannot be doubted for an instant. It is equally sure that the second edition of the Two and a Half International, including its American ‘section’, will follow the first back into the camp of Social-Democracy from which it emanated [Our emphasis—M. J. O.]. No other fate is reserved for the petty-bourgeois politicians who attempt to eke out a brief independent existence on the basis of the workers’ dissatisfaction with the Social-Democracy.” (The Militant, August 8, 1931.)
Muste’s Conference for Progressive Labor Action was later transformed into the American Workers Party. Added to it was a number of disgruntled individuals who called themselves Communists but whose Communism consisted mainly in fighting Marxism-Leninism ideologically. Here was Max Eastman, the author of anti-Marxist books; here was Sidney Hook whose book on Marx is one gross distortion of Marxism; here was V. F. Calverton who for many years published an anti-Marxian magazine, etc.
The American Workers Party was formed by adding these individuals to the Conference for Progressive Labor Action, The moving spirit in the new “Party” remained the mild progressive reformist, Muste, whose role in the labor unions consisted in co-operating with the worst labor bureaucrats and covering up their policies with progressive phrases.
By the end of 1934 the Trotskyite group joined the American Workers Party. It fused with the Muste group, forming; the Workers Party of the U.S. Cannon hails this fusion. In The Militant for November 17, 1934, he expresses confidence that the formation of this “party” will bring about Communist unity. “The chaos and disintegration will give place to a clear line-up of parties: Social-Democratic, Stalinist (Centrist) and the party of revolutionary Marxism.”
The party of revolutionary Marxism is the one that consists of Cannon plus Muste, Eastman, Hook, Calverton and a number of other intellectuals who have never been Marxists.
By their action will political groups be recognized.
The Trotskyites felt too insignificant. Like the lean cows of Pharaoh they “ate up” the Musteites “and it could not be known that they had eaten them”. They boast of having consolidated “revolutionary Marxism”. This is a clown’s grimace. The new “party” is nothing but a typical two-and-a-half international formation. That it will sooner or later sink into the lap of the Second International is attested by the example of the Trotskyite group of France, which has joined the French Socialist Party.
An example of Trotskyite veracity.
One of the first acts of the “Workers Party of U.S.” was to greet the anniversary of Lenin’s death with a leaflet, Lenin’s Testament. This piece of Trotskyite calumny, which decries “Stalinism” as “rude, disloyal and bureaucratic”, reproduces what is purported to be an authentic document written by Lenin in 1923 and “suppressed” by the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. The document is supposed to state that Trotsky is more fitted to be general secretary of the Communist Party than Stalin, who is “too rude”.
Of this “Lenin’s will” Trotsky, while still a member of the Communist Party, had the following to say in an article entitled, Trotsky Trounces Eastman, published in the Daily Worker (New York) August 8, 1925.
“As for the ‘will’, Lenin never left one, and the very nature of his relations with the Party as well as the nature of the Party itself made such a ‘will’ absolutely impossible.
“In the guise of a ‘will’ the emigre and foreign bourgeois and Menshevik press have all along been quoting one of Lenin’s letters (completely mutilated) which contains a number of advices on questions of organization.
“All talk about a secreted or infringed ‘will’ is so much mischievous invention directed against the real will of Lenin, and of the interests of the Party created by him.”
When it was in Trotsky’s interest to divorce himself from such a “disciple” as Max Eastman (whose book, Since Lenin Died, was a stench in the nostrils of every revolutionist) Trotsky wrote a scathing article refuting the legend about Lenin’s will and concluding with the words: “His (Eastman’s) booklet can only render service to the worst enemies of Communism and revolution. It therefore objectively constitutes a weapon of counter-revolution” (Ibid.). When it was in Trotsky’s interest to make a show of far-flung influence, Eastman is made one of the pillars of the new “party of revolutionary Marxism” and the “mischievous invention” is peddled as Lenin’s will. Now Trotsky again publishes a pamphlet to show that the “testament” was true.
These counter-revolutionists have so much entangled themselves in a network of lies and falsehoods that they cannot make a single move without perfidy.
Lenin said: “Trotsky always lives on gossip.” “Trotsky deceives the workers in the most unscrupulous and shameless manner.”
Discussing Lenin’s “Testament” at the Plenary Session of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in October, 1927, Stalin brought out the fact that the document was not a “testament”, that it was a letter addressed by Lenin to the Thirteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, that the letter had been read at the Thirteenth Congress, and that the Congress unanimously decided not to publish it, among other reasons because Lenin himself did not wish or ask for its publication. Such letters addressed by Lenin to individual Party functionaries and Party conferences were not uncommon. The letters were read by those to whom they were addressed—and there was no “concealment”. This question of Lenin’s “Testament” was dealt with repeatedly at the Plenary Sessions of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission, said Stalin at the above session—and cries were heard from the floor: “Dozens of times”. Surely the Party did not overlook the letter in question.
As to the contents of the letter, Stalin pointed out that the Party had no reason to be dissatisfied with it or try to hide it, because it actually annihilated three leaders of the opposition, whereas about Stalin it only mentioned his “rudeness” but found no mistakes in his political line. Stalin quotes the following passage from Lenin’s letter:
“I shall not characterize any other members of the Central Committee with regard to their political qualities. I should like merely to remind you that the October episode [opposition to the seizure of power—M. J. O.] of Zinoviev and Kamenev was no mere chance occurrence, but that it can just as little be regarded as a personal fault as Trotsky’s ‘non-Bolshevism’.” (Inprecorr, No. 64, 1927, p. 1429.)
Stalin calls attention of the session to the fact that,
“. . . . not a single word, not a single allusion in the ‘Testament’ touches on Stalin’s mistakes. Only his rudeness is mentioned. Lack of civility, however, is not a shortcoming in Stalin’s political attitude or political position and cannot be so.” (Ibid.)
As to Lenin’s suggestion “that the comrades should discuss the question of dismissing Comrade Stalin from his post and appointing for it another person who, in all other respects, is only distinguished from Stalin by one quality, i.e., that of being more tolerant, loyal, civil, and considerate towards the comrades, less moody, etc.”, Stalin said:
“Yes, Comrades, I am rude towards those who are rudely and disloyally destroying and disintegrating the Party. I have never made a secret of it and shall not do so now. Even at the first meeting of the Plenary Session of the Central Committee (1924) I handed in my resignation of the function of General Secretary, asking the Plenary Session to relieve me of this duty. The Party Congress itself dealt with this question. Every single delegation dealt with this question, and all the delegations, including Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev [Our emphasis—M. J. O.] unanimously resolved that Stalin should remain in his post. What could I do? Relinquish my post? It is not in my character to do so.
“I have never abandoned a post, whatever post it was. And I have no right to abandon it, because that would be desertion. As I have said before: I am not a free man; when the Party binds me, I have to submit. A year later, I once more handed in my resignation, but the Party again obliged me to remain in my post. What else could I do?” (Ibid.)
The “fourth international” now preached by the Trotskyites is only a summing up of the main features of the vanguard of counter-revolution.
The Trotskyites “should begin open, negotiations with the Left Socialist organizations”, said Cannon in October, 1933, in fulfillment of the program of his master. The Trotskyites were successful in their negotiations. In France the Trotskyites joined the Socialist Party in order to strengthen it at the present epoch when masses of workers are moving to the Left. It is the aim of the Trotskyites to make the Socialist Party of France more attractive to the workers. “If the Communists try to disorganize the Socialist Party”, writes their organ, the Voix Communiste, No. 38, 1934, “then only our ideas and our methods may inject a revolutionary kernel into the Socialist Party, enabling it to resist complete crash”. The Trotskyites desire to be that pink tint on the yellow countenance of the leadership of the Second International which will keep the workers from joining the ranks of the revolutionary movement.
The merging of the Trotsky group with the party of the Second International is, in true Trotsky fashion, hailed as a progressive factor.
“We Marxists [says the Voix Communiste, No. 235, 1934,] must acknowledge that at the given moment the merging of the two parties would be progressive not in comparison with Lenin’s slogans of 1914, not in comparison with the Tours Congress, but in comparison with the present situation. As such, the merging of both parties would signify the possibility of beginning anew. This is the essence of the entire question.”
“The working class movement has been driven into an historical impasse . . . . and this beginning of the impasse, the ‘capitulation’ is turned into a progressive factor!” (Both quotations taken from The Communist International, No. 21, November 5, 1934).
At the time when masses of Socialist workers are becoming dissatisfied with the policies of the Second International and are joining the united front of militant action with the Communists, Trotskyites are attempting to return to the pre-1914 era, to “begin anew”. As if nothing happened in these twenty years. As if you can turn the wheels of history backward.
Let us see now who’s who in the “fourth international”. The German Trotskyite group, which was never strong, liquidated itself in January, 1933. Its paper, Die Permanente Revolution, declared that the estimations of Trotsky as regard the U.S.S.R., Germany, Spain, all proved wrong. There is hardly a Trotskyite group now among the German emigrés, not to speak of Germany proper. There is a tiny group in England, entirely insignificant. There is the French group which is united in legal wedlock with the Socialist Party. There is the American group which is united with Muste. They would like to take with them into the fourth international the whole Socialist Party of France. They will try to take with them into the fourth international the Workers Party of the U.S. Can anybody doubt that it will be an international of real “Bolshevik-Leninists”? Perhaps the fourth international will be joined by another “Leningrad Center” which, under the slogan of Trotsky-Zinoviev, is just now hatching new conspiracies against the Soviet leaders.
And this hodge-podge of reformist and Trotskyite degenerates, this pack of disgruntled intellectuals aching to be mass leaders, this medley of sentiments, wishes, opinions, programs “plans” all eaten through with hypocrisy, all covering up reformism with high-sounding “revolutionary” and “Marxist” phrases, all intended to convey something different from what the principal figures actually believe—this concoction which is only besmirching the name Communist, is advanced as that International body which is destined to win away the workers of the world from the Communist International.
A historical analogy is not out of place here. Between 1912 dud 1914 Trotsky had a dream of uniting all the factions of the Russian Mensheviks and some of the “better” Bolsheviks (those whom he hoped to split away from Lenin) into one big party of which he, Trotsky, would be the acknowledged leader. He had then his own tiny faction, and published a paper in Vienna. He joined the bloc of several factions of the Mensheviks known as the August Bloc. He then began to preach to the Bolsheviks to desert Lenin (whom he considered the leader “of the reactionary wing” of the Social-Democratic Party) and to join the child of his brain. His argumentation at that time very much resembles that explaining the fourth international today. He believed that he represented Marxism “as a whole”. The Bolsheviks, in his opinion, were one-sided; the Mensheviks were also one-sided. He, Trotsky, alone was the consummate Marxist.
He formulated his concept in the following words:
“The position which is based on a dialectical combination of the reformist and the revolutionary tasks of the movement seems to them both [to the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks] to be ‘conciliationism’ or ‘the golden middle road’. Having dissected Marxism into parts, they sincerely fail to recognize it when it appears standing between them in its shape as a whole.” (Borba, Russian magazine published by Trotsky, No. 1, 1914.)
Here, too, we have “the reformist and the revolutionary tasks” combined as in the fourth international. Here, too, we have an appeal to the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks not to be one-sided but to recognize Trotsky as the true leader of Marxism. Lenin found no words strong enough to castigate this stand.
“Men like Trotsky the wrote], with his inflated phrases about the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party and with his slavish crawling before the Liquidators [extreme Right Mensheviks] who have nothing in common with the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, are now the ‘affliction of our times’. They want to make a career on the cheap preachment of ‘conciliation—with anybody, with everybody. . . . In reality they are preachers of capitulating before the Liquidators who are building a Stolypin Labor Party [Stolypin was the Tsar’s prime minister]” (V. I., Lenin Collected Works, Russian Edition, Vol. XV, p. 197.)
Then as now a wave of revolutionary movement was rising. The darkest times that followed the Revolution of 1905 were drawing to an end. It was felt that the workers had recuperated and were ready to start a new round of revolution. The Bolsheviks advanced the fundamental demands of a republic, confiscation of the landed estates in favor of the peasants, and the eight-hour day as the most extreme demands of the impending bourgeois-democratic revolution. Trotsky then as now thought that the workers were not ready to fight for the extreme demands of the impending revolution (which today is the proletarian Socialist revolution). He advanced the slogan of “freedom of association, assemblage and strikes”—and no more. He conceived this as a step towards the struggle for a republic. “In order that the struggle for a republic”, he wrote in his Vienna paper, Pravda, November 29, 1911, “may not be a naked slogan of a few select ones, it is necessary that you, class-conscious workers, should teach the masses how to understand in their own practice the necessity of the freedom of coalition and to struggle for this vital class demand”— a forerunner of his present advice to make the masses draw conclusions “from their democratic logic”. Lenin, in commenting upon this slogan, pointed out that “the revolutionary phrase serves here to cover up and justify the falsity of Liquidationism, to fill the minds of the workers with rubbish”.
Winding up his characterization of Trotsky, Lenin said:
“It is impossible to argue with Trotsky about principles, for he has no views at all. It is possible and necessary to argue with convinced Liquidators and Otzovists [a group of Bolsheviks demanding the recall from the Duma of the Bolshevik deputies]. With a man who only plays at covering up the mistakes of both of them, one does not argue: one exposes him as a diplomat of the lowest order.” (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Russian Edition, Vol. XV, pp. 303-304.)
Today one exposes Trotsky as a counter-revolutionary renegade who inspires the murder of revolutionary leaders.
Next: 13. Trotsky the Historian