Christian Rakovsky

The Policy of the Leadership
and the Party Regime


From The Militant, Vol. 3 No. 10, 8 March 1930, pp. 4 & 8.
Transcribed and marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

We give below another excerpt from the theses of Rakovsky, Okudjava and Kossior, which characterizes the economic policy of the Centrist leadership in connection with the Party regime. That the new five year plan, worked out under the whip of the Opposition, represents a big fact and an important support for the further struggle of the Opposition, only the pedants of the ultra-Left phrase can deny. On the other hand, the claim that the Five Year Plan. removes all or even the basic differences, can only come from the capitulators, who have been waiting for an excuse to get on their knees. Rakovsky very correctly insists on the unbreakable bond and relationship of all the parts of our platform. In connection with this he gives the basis for the declaration of the opposition to the Central Committee, and over its head, to the Party.

The sense of the declaration in the interpretation of comrade Rakovsky is the following:

“You made a principally new and important step, in the question of industrialization. But this step will not achieve your purpose, if you will not on the one hand evaluate a series of theoretical assumptions, and on the other hand. If you will not make radical reforms in regard to the Party, the trade unions and the Soviets. If you sincerely and seriously want to get on this road you must first of all reestablish the Opposition in the Party.”

This political syllogism, the Opposition transformed into a political act, by presenting the declaration for its reestablishment on the Party. – Editors

brought out the working class and the Party from its numbness, which was simultaneously a condition and a consequence of the rule of Centrism. Objectively Centrism is condemned by history. Precisely because of this, in its desire to preserve itself as a leading group, it takes measures in order to still more strengthen itself organizationally and ideologically. For that purpose it utilizes the gigantic power which the revolution concentrated in the hands of the party leadership. Centrism excluded and is still excluding the Rights from the leadership in the Trade Unions and the Comintern, the Soviet and Party organizations, but only for the purpose of substituting Centrists for the Rights. But what is most characteristic of the Centrist leadership is that with doubled and tripled energy it concentrated its severity against the Leninist Opposition, enriching daily its arsenal with new guns of compulsion. The most remarkable invention in this respect which was made after our platform had been written, is the invention which leaves its impression on the present epoch and which resurrects in the Soviet Union, the clerical methods of the Middle Ages. This is the effort to compel by all means that the Oppositionists of the Communist Party give up their Communist views (which was proven by the attitude towards, the so-called “Left-Centrists” – Schatzkin, Sten, and others; the impatience of Centrism, has lately increased still more). Life proved the whole inconsistency of the Centrist ideologic zig-zags wrong and anti-Leninist ones.

But Centrism, having a monopoly on the press, continues to falsify the Leninist teachings and leads astray the Party and the working class by saying that it is not the Kulak that attacks us, but we attack the Kulak (Bauman, Molotov). The claim of the capitulators, that Centrism has changed although it still rests on the same ever-widening social base – the “functionaries” with a corresponding ideology, and its peculiar apparatus methods of ruling the country and the Party, only proves that the capitulators have lost all their theoretical conscience and have rolled themselves into the mud of Centrism. Because Centrism is condemned by history as a current not possessing the requisite qualities, and sooner or later will cease to be a determining factor in the life of the Party, the liquidation of the Leninist Opposition, its dissolution in the Centrist mud, would mean nothing else than the presentation of the power to the Rights. In betraying the Opposition, the capitulators betray the interests of Communism, the Party and the working class.

The Changes in Class Relations

The capitulators befog the capital question: what kind of a turn is taking place in relation to the class forces in the country? It is true, as we shall see, they sometimes talk about it, but then only when they have to sow panic in the midst of the Opposition. But ordinarily to them the turn in the country and the Party is covered by the turn in the policy of the Centrist leadership – which is of course not the same. The turn in the country continues to unfold unfavorably for the proletariat. There undoubtedly is a Left turn in the Party, but its reasons and character are distinguished from the turn in the leadership. For the Centrist leadership the turn towards the struggle with agrarian capitalism was a matter of compulsion. This is a turn of the bureaucratic group under the pressure of events but the turn in the Party – we have in mind the working section of it – is a class turn. But while the Center makes its Left steps on the agrarian question, with excuses adapting itself to the moment, the turn in the Party is a genuine revolutionary one.

The Centrist leadership conceals very carefully the contradictory processes going on in the country. One of the most harmful peculiarities of the Centrist leadership is to cover up the traces and to present every thing in a rosy light (everything goes from good to better). But it does not succeed in hiding everything. The loud scandals that occur periodically prove how far the decomposition of the Right-Center apparatus has gone in the Party as well as in the Soviets and Trade Unions. Beginning with the heights of the commissariats themselves and ending with the county committees bourgeois rust penetrates the pores of the proletarian dictatorship. The pri[vate] owner[s] in the village have already succeeded in partly getting hold of the apparatus, subordinating it to their class interest.

Sometimes through the official material which presents a picture of general welfare and idyllic relations between the working class and our government, there breaks through like lighning through clouds, tragic facts, such as the murder and lynching at the Grivno Station which throw an instantaneous but clear light on the realities. The press had to register the words of the defense at the trial: “A passing quarrel occurred between the working class and the apparatus created by it”. In the same newspaper, in the speeches of the prosecuting attorney, was noted the fact of passive and indifferent conduct of the Communists and Young Communists present in the mob during the wild lynching scene. If one can analyse politically the event at the Grivno Station, he will understand that it has a more symptomatic significance than one or another resolution at a Party conference. A no less symptomatic significance is the fact that a worker was boycotted by his craftsmen for joining the Communist Party, or the fact included in the report about organizational conditions in Bakinsk, where the falling off of workers reaches 25% of the number of applicants in a year. Workers leave the Party in spite of the fact that membership in it insures to a certain extent against the loss of one’s job. As far as the moods of the village are concerned is is significant to point out that the results which were brought by the “chaotic character of the grain collections” resulted in the village in a bloc between the poor and middle peasants with the Kulaks.

Industrialization and the Classes

The capitulators try to single out the industrialization and the building of collective farms from the whole chain of Centrist measures – from its general policies. Considering them as a sort of “matters of their own” they also attempt to regard the “new course” of Centrism as independent of the immediate reasons that called it forth. Finally they avoid or befog the biggest and most basic questions: What conditions must be fulfilled that the industrialization and the building of collective farms shall not remain mere paper resolutions (like the resolution on Party democracy at the end of 1923), that it shall not be stopped half-way, or that they should not give results directly opposite to those expected.

The new Centrist servants and accountants, the capitulators, supporters of un-principledness, and possibleism, avoid analysing the most important sides of the question of industrialization and the struggle against agrarian capitalism, knowing that an honest discussion of these questions would reveal the double face[d]ness and contradictions of Centrism, its inability to get OB the road of continuous Socialist construction. In reality such a discussion would have revealed that

  1. The policy of Centrism remains Right on the Labor question and the Party regime (here it even went to the worst compared to the past) and partly in the village (not allowing unions of poor pea[sants.] The sharpening of the class struggle [some words missing] [peas]sants, the new law on food taxes, the raising of prices on grain which gave the well-to-do peasants an additional 350 million rubles); all this not only disturbs the industrialization and building of collective farms but puts it under the direct threat of a break-up.
  2. The Left swing of the Center (industrialization, building of collective farms) is a compelled one – on the one hand, by the pressure of the Rights who wanted to sweep aside the Center with the aid of the Kulak and grain strikes, and on the other hand, by the pressure of the dissatisfaction of the working class, whose interests were hit by the grain strike; and finally by the pressure of the Leninist Opposition. The removal of the effect of the latter two factors would immediately create the condition for a new Right swing of the Center, either with the leaders remaining at the head, or by way of removing the present leaders of that part of the Party which follows the Right leaders.
  3. The only real guarantees against a new recession of the Center to the Right is the Leninist Opposition when consistently expresses the interests of the proletariat and the village poor.

The Five Year Plan

The capitulators consider the five year plan from the arithmetic viewpoint exclusively, not taking into consideration, even from such an approach, that as a result of inflation and the drop of the buying power of the Chervonetz, the figure of investments is in reality much smaller than the five year plan shows. They leave out the main question: what change in the class relations in the country will the five year plan bring? This “oversight” on the part of Radek and Company is fully understood insofar as the five year plan is the fig leaf to cover up their capitulation. Meanwhile here is what a co-editor of the official organ of the Gosplan Planned Economy (Strumlin) is compelled to admit. If the Five Year Plan will be realized fully – at the end of five years the rise of the per capita national income will be 51% in the city, 62% in the village and 40% for the well-to-do part of the village. However, this is under the condition of the stabilization of prices on agricultural products on the level of 114%, that is 14% higher than in 1927–28. Meantime the index of the private agricultural sector has risen 37.9% in only this one year.

Further, the actual income of the worker (city) is supposed to go up by the end of the five years by 58%, but the productivity of the worker is supposed to rise 100–110%. At the same time, the village, through only the difference in prices, will get 3.5 billion rubles, and in the government expenditures for industrialization only about 10% will be allotted. The growth of wages in the first part of this year amounted to 7.1%, but the price index of the collectivised sector went up 8.5%, private, 19.3% and the agricultural, as we already saw, 37.9%. The conclusion: the center of gravity of the wealthy part of the village in the general economics of the country will grow further, notwithstanding the talk about the struggle against agrarian capitalism.

Without unions of poor peasants, the political influence of the wealthy peasantry [and the] Nep’men in the city and the well-to-do will grow to a still greater degree, insofar as the Kulak will continue to group about himself the middle peasants and part of the poor. Further, the bureaucratic methods of rationalization, with the aid of administrative pressure, “blacklisting” and tricks of à la Larin may create such a break away of the working class from the Party, such a political minus, which it will be impossible to compensate by the best achievements of industrialization. The Party leadership expects to support itself on the groups of poor in the village, but the latter are a mere fiction. “There is almost no work conducted among the groups of poor” wrote one of the members of the collegium of the Commissariat of Agriculture, Latzis. (Pravda, December 23, 1928) Another fact: In Siberia there are 15 thousand cooperatives, and in them there are only 266 groups of poor organized (figures by Komarov, member of the territory committee).

Centrists Fear Workers and Poor Peasants

In regard to the working class as well as the peasant poor, Centrism continues its former policy of fear and lack of confidence – this is a feature of bureaucratism generally. Centrism fears the real participation of the laboring masses in Socialist construction. Of course it would like to support itself on them, but with the conditions that the masses should not occupy themselves with “politics”, that is, shall not judge and what is more, criticise the “general line”. Centrism kills the actual initiative of the masses. If under the influence of sharpening struggle in the village Centrism should be compelled to permit unions of peasant poor, it will put them under such bureaucratic supervision, that they would very rapidly resemble our trade unions, out of which bureaucratism has castrated the class and revolutionary content. Industrialization and a struggle with agrarian capitalism, directed by the apparatus, which is partly worn off and which has lost its revolutionary enthusiasm and in many of its links is decomposed, will be under constant threat of break-up.

The Party Regime

The Opposition of the years 1923–24 foresaw the tremendous harm to the proletarian dictatorship coming out of the perversion of the Party regime. Events have completely justified the prognosis: the enemy has climbed in through the bureaucratic window.

Now more than at any other time it must be said loudly: a correct democratic Party regime is the testing stone of the present Left course.

There is an opinion held even by some steadfast revolutionaries, that a “correct line” in the sphere of economics must “of itself bring about a correct Party regime. This view, with its pretence to dialectics, is one-sided and anti-dialectical, because it ignores the fact that in the historic process, cause and effect change their places repeatedly. A wrong line will increase a wrong regime and a wrong regime will still more disfigure the line.

Under Lenin there was a correct line. But it was precisely Lenin who pointed out that the apparatus with its anti-proletarian methods, turn a correct line into its opposite.

“The machine isn’t going where we guide it, but where some illegal, or lawless or God-knows-whence derived speculators or private capitalistic businessmen, either the one or the other are guiding it. A machine doesn’t always travel just exactly the way, and it often travels just exactly not the way, that the man imagines who sits at the wheel.”

That is how Lenin expressed himself at the Party congress at which he appeared for the last time. What Lenin signalised at the time – as proof of the influence of the bourgeoisie on the apparatus, developed thanks to the policy of the Centrist top. By selecting people not according to their ability, experience and tried honesty, but exclusively according to the principle of adaptability, the Centrists gave that luxurious bouquet the songle [sic] followers of which, bear the names of our great cities: Smolensk, Baku, etc. Centrism did not create bureaucratism. It inherited it together with the other general peculiarities, cultural and others – with the conditions of our country. But instead of combating bureaucratism, Centrism developed it into a system of government, carried it over. Stalin and the Centrist apparatus are mak[ing] [some words missing] from the Soviet apparatus into the Party and gave the latter forms and dimensions which are unheard of, which are indefensible, in view of the role of political leadership the Party has to play.

The Stalinist Bureaucracy

On top of that the Centrist leadership has raised to Communist dogmas (“organizational principles of Leninism”) the methods of command and compulsion, refining them to a degree rarely known in the history of bureaucratic virtuosity. With the aid of these demoralizing methods, making machines out of thinking Communists, killing the will, character and human dignity – the Centrist top succeeded in becoming an irreplaceable and inviolable oligarchy, substituting the Party and the class.

The capitulators do not like to talk any longer of the Party regime and Party bureaucracy. This seems to them now to be natural, as if it were part of the proletarian dictatorship. From the moment the capitulators decided to achieve a place under our Soviet bureaucratic sun, the Stalinist regime has become to them the very best or the best; a democratic, a workers, and a Party one. A particularly cynical apologist has become – Radek. With ease he threatens his former comrades with article 58; in his declaration of July 13, he tries to defend the methods of the leadership, which served to decompose the apparatus within the country and has done harm to the dictatorship outside the country. Those who talk about Party democracy (evidently Lenin is to be included) are nothing else but vulgar liberals, struggling for freedom in the abstract! Meantime the struggle with the class enemy, that regenerates and becomes more ugly, in the future too will be hindered by the wrong and extremely abnormal Party regime.

The old methods are already condemned, they collapsed with a crash. This the Centrist top recognizes, but as always it tries to throw off responsibility, to throw dust in the eyes, to deceive the masses, to whose justified dissatisfaction, they toss a few scapegoats. It tries to deceive the masses with so-called self-criticism. Everyone is permitted to criticise himself, but those who are chiefly responsible and guilty not only do not criticise themselves, but they do not even permit the Party to criticise them. They are gifted with the godly attribute of infallibility.

What Road?

However, they are not able to conceal the conditions from the Party and the working class. The question is put edgeways and it is necessary to give an answer. This must be done without delay. Before the Party are two roads – either it will be capable to give the proletarian dictatorship a directing organization based on confidence, and about which Lenin spoke, which will be capable to establish a workers’ democracy and to restrain an unruly stubborn apparatus, its misuses and mismanagement, the incapabilities of which costs hundreds of millions of rubles, besides the tremendous moral harm it does to the proletarian dictatorship. Either the Party will be sufficiently mature to do all this, or else it will help – against its own will and to the greatest harm to itself, the revolution and Communism – the class enemy which will thus break into our Soviet fortress under the banner of a false, hypocritical, vile, bourgeois democracy in order to pave afterwards the way for unrestrained fascism. Either – or. There is no other way.

Last updated on 1.9.2012