Leon Trotsky

An Answer to Stalinist Critics – II

(November 1926)

Delivered: November 1926.
First Published: International Press Correspondence, 1927 (?).
Source: Archives of the Revolution, The New International, Vol. VIII No. 10, November 1942, pp. 313–318.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2015. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

[Continued from the August Issue]

You ask: What is the explanation of those frightful passages quoted in the resolution. I shall have to answer this question. I must first, however, repeat that no single word has been quoted from the fundamental works which I wrote on the character of the revolution between 1917 and 1922, and complete silence is preserved on everything that I have written since 1922, even on that written last year and this year. Four passages are quoted. Comrade Stalin has dealt with them in detail, and they are referred to in the resolution, so you will permit me to devote some words to them as well.

The workers’ movement is victorious in the democratic revolution. The bourgeoisie becomes counter-revolutionary. Among the peasantry the well-to-do elements, as well as a considerable section of the middle farmers, will become more “sensible,” quieted down, and go over to the counter-revolution, in order that they may snatch the power out of the hands of the proletariat and the poor peasantry ... The struggle would be almost helpless for the Russian proletariat alone, and its defeat would be inevitable ... were the European socialist proletariat not to hasten to the aid of the Russian proletariat.

I am afraid, comrades, that if anyone told you that these lines represented a malicious product of Trotskyism, many comrades would believe it. But this passage is Lenin’s. The Lenin portfolio contains a draft of a pamphlet which Lenin intended to write at the end of 1905. Here this possible situation is described: The workers are victorious in the democratic revolution, the well-to-do section of the peasantry go over to counter-revolution. I may say that this passage is quoted in the last number of the Bolshevik, on page 68, but unfortunately with a grave misrepresentation, although the quotation is given in inverted commas: the words referring to the considerable section of the middle farmers are simply left out. I call upon you to compare the fifth Lenin portfolio, page 451, with the last number of the Bolshevik, page 68.

I could quote dozens of such passages from Lenin’s works: Vol. VI, page 398; Vol. IX, page 410; vol. VIII, page 192. (I have not the time to read them, but anyone may look up the references for himself.) I shall only quote one passage from Vol. IX, page 415:

The Russian revolution (he is referring to the democratic revolution) cannot maintain and firmly establish its achievements by its own powers ... if there is no revolution in the West. Without this prerequisite a restoration of the old order is unavoidable, both in communalization and in the distribution of land, for the small farmer will always form a support of restoration of any form of property or ownership. After the complete victory of the proletariat, the small farmer will inevitably turn against the proletariat.

(A voice: “We have introduced the NEP.”)

True, I shall refer to that presently.

Let us now turn to that passage which I wrote in 1922, in order that we may see how my standpoint on the revolution in the epoch of 1904–05 had developed.

I have no intention, comrades, of raising the question of the theory of permanent revolution. This theory – both in respect of what has been right in it and of what has been incomplete and wrong – has nothing whatever to do with our present contentions. In any case this theory of permanent revolution, to which so much attention has been devoted of late, is not to the smallest extent among the responsibilities of either the opposition of 1925 nor the opposition of 1923, and even I myself regard it as a question which has long been settled ad acta.

But let us return to the passage quoted in the resolution. (This I wrote in 1922, but from the standpoint of 1905–06.)

After seizing power, the proletariat will come into hostile conflict with not only all those groups of the bourgeoisie which supported it at the commencement of its revolutionary struggle, but with the broad masses of the peasantry, with whose help it came into power.

Although this was written in 1922, it is put into the future tense: The proletariat will come into conflict with the bourgeoisie, etc., since pre-revolutionary views are being described. I ask you: Has Lenin’s prognosis of 1905–06, that the middle peasantry will go over to counter-revolution to a great extent, proved true? I maintain that it has proved true in part. (Voices: In part? When? Disturbance.) Yes, under the leadership of the party and above all under Lenin’s leadership, the division between us and the peasantry was bridged over by the new economic policy. This is indisputable. (Disturbance) If any of you imagine, comrades, that in 1926 I do not grasp the meaning of the new economic policy, you are mistaken. I grasp the meaning of the new economic policy in 1926, perhaps not so well as other comrades, but still I grasp it. But you must remember that at that time, before there was any New Economic Policy, before there had been a revolution of 1917, and we were sketching the first outlines of possible developments, utilizing the experience won in previous revolutions – the great French revolution and the revolution of 1848 – at that time all Marxists, not omitting Lenin (I have given quotations), were of the opinion that after the democratic revolution was completed and the land given to the peasantry, the proletariat would encounter opposition from not only the big peasants, but from a considerable section of the middle peasants, who would represent a hostile and even counter-revolutionary force.

Have there been signs among us of the truth of this prognosis? Yes, there have been signs, and fairly distinct ones. For instance, when the Machno movement in the Ukraine helped the White Guards to sweep away the Soviet power this was one proof of the correctness of Lenin’s prognosis. The Antonov rising, the rising in Siberia, the rising on the Volga, the rising in Ural, the Kronstadt revolt, when the “middle peasantry” expressed their opinions to the Soviet power by means of ships’ cannon – does not all this prove that Lenin’s forecast was correct for a certain stage of development in the revolution? (Comrade Moyssenyenko: “And what did you propose?”) Is it not perfectly clear that the passage written by me in 1922 on the division between us and the peasantry was simply a statement of these facts?

We bridged over the schism between us and the peasantry by means of the NEP. And were there differences between us during the transition to the NEP? There were no differences during the transition to the NEP. (Disturbance) There were differences in the trade union question before the transition to the NEP, whilst the party was still seeking a means of escape from the blind alley. These differences were of serious importance. But in the question of the NEP, when Lenin submitted the NEP standpoint to the X Party Congress, we all voted unanimously for this standpoint. And when the new trade union resolution arose as a result of the New Economic Policy – a few months after the X Party Congress – we again voted unanimously for this resolution in the CC. But during the period of transition – and the change wrought by it was no small one – the peasants declared: “We are for the Bolsheviki, but against the Communists.” What does this mean? It means a peculiarly Russian form of desertion from the proletarian revolution on the part of the middle peasantry at a given stage.

I am reproached with having said that it is “hopeless to suppose that Revolutionary Russia can maintain itself in opposition to a conservative Europe.” This I wrote in August, 1917, and I believe that it was perfectly right. Have we maintained ourselves against a conservative Europe? Let us consider the facts. At the moment when Germany concluded the peace treaty with the Entente, the danger was especially great. Had the German revolution not broken out at this point – that German revolution which remained incompleted, suffocated by the social democrats, yet still sufficing to overthrow the old regime and to demoralize the Hohenzollern army – had, I repeat, the German revolution, such as it was, not broken out, then we should have been overthrown. It is not by accident that the passage contains the phrase “in opposition to a conservative Europe,” and not “in opposition to a capitalist “Europe.” Against a conservative Europe, maintaining its whole apparatus, and in particular its armies. I ask you: Could we maintain ourselves under these circumstances, or could we not? (A voice: “Are you talking to children?”) That we still continue to exist is due to the fact that Europe has not remained what it was. Lenin wrote as follows on this subject:

We are living not only in one state, but in a system of states, and the continued existence of the Soviet Republic side by side with imperialist states is unthinkable as a permanency. In the end either one system or the other will win.

When did Lenin say this? On March 18, 1919, that is two years after the October Revolution. My words of 1917 signified that if our revolution did not shake Europe, did not move it, then we were lost. Is this not in substance the same? I ask all the older comrades, who thought politically before and during 1917: What was your conception of the revolution and its consequences?

When I try to recollect this, I can find no other formulation than approximately the following:

We believed: either the international revolution will hasten to our aid and then our victory is perfectly secure, or we shall perform our modest revolutionary work in the consciousness that even if we are defeated we have served the cause of revolution, and that our experience will be useful for later revolutions. It was clear to us that the victory of the proletarian revolution is impossible without the support of the international, the world revolution. Both before and after the revolution we believed: Now, or at least very soon, the revolution will break out in the other highly developed capitalist countries, or, should this not be the case, we are lost.

This was our conception of the fate of the revolution. Who said this? (Comrade Moyssenyenko: “Lenin!” A voice: “And what did he say later on?”)

Lenin said this in 1921, whilst the passage quoted from me dates from 1917. I have thus a right to refer to what Lenin said in 1921. (A voice: “And what did Lenin say later on?) Later on I too said something different. (Laughter) Both before the revolution, and after it, we believed that:

Now, or at least very soon, the revolution will break out in the other highly developed capitalist countries, or, should this not be the case, we are lost.

But in spite of this:

We exerted every effort to maintain the Soviet system at all costs, for we were aware that we were not only working for ourselves, but for the international revolution. We knew this, and we expressed this conviction both before the October Revolution and after it, and at the time when the Brest-Litovsk peace was concluded. And speaking generally, we were right.

This passage goes on to say that our path has become more intricate and winding, but that in all essentials our prognosis was correct. As I have already said, we went over to the NEP unanimously, without any differences whatever. (Comrade Moyssenyenko: “To save us from utter ruin!”)

True, just for that reason, to save us from utter ruin.

Comrades, I beg you to extend the time allotted for my speech. I should like to speak on the theory of socialism in one country. I ask for another half hour. (Disturbance)

Comrades, in the question of the relations between the proletariat and the peasantry ...

Chairman: Please wait till we have decided. I submit three proposals: firstly, to adhere to the original time allotted to Comrade Trotsky; secondly: a prolongation of half an hour; thirdly, a prolongation of a quarter of an hour. (On a vote being taken there is a majority for the half hour prolongation.)

Relations to the Peasantry

The next passage quoted from my writings has brought me the reproach that: Whilst Lenin said: ten to twenty years of correct relations with the peasantry, and our victory is assured on an international scale; Trotskyism, on the contrary, assumes that the proletariat cannot enter into any correct relations with the peasantry until the world revolution has been accomplished. First of all I must ask the actual meaning of the passage quoted. Lenin speaks of ten to twenty years of correct relations to the peasantry. This means that Lenin did not expect socialism to be established within ten to twenty years. Why? Because under socialism we must understand a state of society in which there is neither proletariat nor peasantry, or any classes whatever. Socialism abolishes the opposition between town and country. Thus the term of twenty years is set before us, in the course of which we must pursue a political line leading to correct relations between the proletariat and the peasantry.

It has been asserted, however, that Trotskyism is of the opinion that there can be no correct relations between the proletariat and the peasantry until the world revolution has been accomplished. I am thus alleged to lay down a law according to which incorrect relations must be maintained with the peasantry as far as possible, until international revolution has been victorious. (Laughter) Apparently it was not intended to express this idea here, as there is no sense in it whatever.

What was the NEP? The NEP has been a process of shunting onto a new track, precisely for the establishment of correct relations between the proletariat and the peasantry. Were there differences between us on this subject? No, there were none. What we are quarreling about now is the taxation of the kulak, and the forms and methods to be adopted in allying the proletariat with the village poor. What is the actual matter in hand? The best method of establishing correct relations between the peasantry and the proletariat. You have the right to disagree with individual proposals of ours, but you must recognize that the whole ideological struggle revolves around the question of what relations are correct at the present stage of development.

Were there differences between us in 1917 on the peasant question? No. The peasant decree, the “social revolutionary” peasant decree, was adopted unanimously by us as our basis. The land decree, drawn up by Lenin, was accepted by us unanimously and gave rise to no differences in our circles. Did the policy of “de-kulakization” afford any cause for differences? No, there were no differences on this. (A voice: “And Brest?”) Did the struggle commenced by Lenin, for winning over the middle peasantry, give rise to differences? No, it gave rise to none. I do not assert that there were no differences whatever, but I definitely maintain that however great the differences of opinion may have been in various and even important questions, there were no differences of opinion in the matter of the main line of policy to be pursued with regard to the peasantry.

In 1919 there were rumors abroad of differences on this question. And what did Lenin write on the subject? Let us look back. I was asked at that time by the peasant Gulov: “What are the differences of opinion between you and Ilyitsch?” and I replied to this question both in the Pravda and in Izvestia. Lenin wrote as follows on the matter, both in Pravda and Izvestia, in February, 1919:

The Izvestia of February 2, 1919, published a letter from a peasant named Gulov, who raises the question of the relations between our workers’ and peasants’ government and the middle peasantry, and states that there are rumors spread about to the effect that there is no harmony between Lenin and Trotsky, that there are great differences of opinion between them, and precisely in the question of the middle peasantry. Comrade Trotsky has already replied in his Letter to the Middle Peasants, published in the Izvestia on February 7. Comrade Trotsky states in his letter than the rumors of differences between me and him are the most monstrous and wicked lies, spread abroad by the landowners and capitalists or their willing and unwilling accomplices. I for my part fully endorse the declaration thus made by Comrade Trotsky. There are no differences between us, and with reference to the middle peasants there are not only no differences between me and Trotsky, but no differences in the whole Communist Party, of which we are both members. Comrade Trotsky explains in his letter, clearly and in detail, why the Communist Party and the present workers’ and peasants’ government, elected by the Soviets and composed of members of the party, do not regard the middle peasantry as their enemies. I give my signature doubly to everything said by Comrade Trotsky.

This was before the NEP. Then came the transition to the NEP. I repeat once more that the transition to the NEP gave rise to no differences. On the NEP question I gave a report before the IV World Congress, in the course of which I polemized against Otto Bauer. Later I wrote as follows:

The NEP is regarded by the bourgeoisie and the Mensheviki as a necessary (but of course “insufficient”) step toward the release of productive forces. The Menshevist theoreticians both of the Kautsky and the Otto Bauer variety, have welcomed the NEP as the dawn of capitalist restoration in Russia. They add: Either the NEP will destroy the Bolshevist dictatorship (favorable result) or the Bolshevist dictatorship will destroy the NEP (regrettable result.)

The whole of my report at the IV Party Congress went to prove that the NEP will not destroy the Bolshevist dictatorship, but that the Bolshevist dictatorship, under the conditions given by the NEP, will secure the supremacy of the socialist elements of economics over the capitalist.

Lenin on Socialism in One Country

Another passage from my works has been brought up against me – and here I come to the question of the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country – which reads as follows:

The contradictions in the position of the workers’ government in a backward country with an overwhelming agrarian population can only be solved on an international scale and in the arena of the proletarian world revolution.

This was said in 1922. The accusing resolution makes the following statement:

The conference places on record that such views as these on the part of Comrade Trotsky and his followers, in the fundamental question of the character and prospects of our revolution, have nothing in common with the views of our party, with Leninism.”

If it had been stated that a shade of difference existed – I do not find this even today – or that these views have not yet been precisely formulated (and I do not see the precise formulation). But it is stated quite flatly: these views “have nothing in common with the views of the party, with Leninism.”

Here I must quote a few lines closely related to Leninism:

The complete victory of the socialist revolution in one country is unthinkable, and demands the active co-operation of at least some advanced countries, among which we cannot count Russia.

It was not I who said this, but one greater than I. Lenin said this November 8, 1918. Not before the October Revolution, but on November 8, 1918, one year after we had seized power. If he had said nothing else but this, we could easily infer what we liked from it by tearing one sentence or the other out of its context. (A voice: “He was speaking of the final victory!”) No, pardon me, he said: “demands the active cooperation.” Here it is impossible to sidetrack from the main question to the question of “intervention,” for it is plainly stated that the victory of socialism demands – not merely protection against intervention – but the cooperation of “at least some advanced countries, among which we cannot count Russia.” (Voices: “And what follows from that?”) This is not the only passage in which we see that not merely an intervention is meant. And thus the conclusion to be drawn is the fact that the standpoint which I have defended, to the effect that the internal contradictions arising out of the backwardness of our country must be solved by international revolution, is not my exclusive property, but that Lenin defended these same views, only incomparably more definitely and categorically.

We are told that this applied to the epoch in which the law of the unequal development of the capitalist countries is supposed to have been still unknown, that is, the epoch before imperialism. I cannot go thoroughly into this. But I must unfortunately place on record that Comrade Stalin commits a great theoretical and historical error here. The law of the unequal development of capitalism is older than imperialism. Capitalism is developing very unequally today in the various countries. But in the nineteenth century this inequality was greater than in the twentieth. At that time England was lord of the world, while Japan on the other hand was a feudal state closely confined within its own limits. At the time when serfdom was abolished among us, Japan began to adapt itself to capitalist civilization. China was, however, still wrapped in the deepest slumber. And so forth. At this time the inequality of capitalist development was greater than now. Those inequalities were as well known to Marx and Engels as they are to us. Imperialism has developed a more “leveling tendency than has pre-imperialist capitalism, for the reason that financial capital is the most elastic form of capital. It is, however, indisputable that today, too, there are great inequalities in development. But if it is maintained that in the nineteenth century, before imperialism, capitalism developed less unequally, and the theory of the possibility of socialism in one country was therefore wrong at that time, whilst today, now that imperialism has increased the heterogeneity of development, the theory of socialism in one country has become correct, then this assertion contradicts all historical experience, and completely reverses fact. No, this will not do; other and more serious arguments must be sought: Comrade Stalin has written:

Those who deny the possibility of the establishment of socialism in one country must deny at the same time the justifiability of the October Revolution. (Stalin, Problems of Leninism, p. 215)

But in 1918 we heard from Lenin that the establishment of socialism requires the direct cooperation of some advanced countries, “among which we cannot count Russia.” Yet Lenin did not deny the justifiability of the October Revolution. And he wrote as follows regarding this in 1918:

I know that there are some ingenious people (this was written against the adherents of Kautsky and Suchanov), who think themselves very clever, and even call themselves socialists; these maintain that we should not have seized power until revolution had broken out in all countries. They are not aware that in speaking thus they are deviating from revolution and going over to the bourgeoisie. To wait until the working masses accomplish the international revolution is to wait till we are stiff and rigid, to wait till we are frozen to death. This is nonsense ...

I am sorry, but it goes on as follows:

This is nonsense. The difficulty of revolution is known to all of us. For the final victory can only be on an international scale, and can only be brought about by the joint exertions of the workers of all countries. (Lenin, Vol. 15, page 287, written on May 14, 1918.)

Despite this, Lenin did not deny the “justifiability” of the October Revolution.

And further. In 1921 – not in 1914, but in 1921 – Lenin wrote:

In the advanced capitalist countries there is a class of agricultural laborers, created by decades of wage work. It is only in countries where this class is sufficiently developed that the transition from capitalism to socialism is possible.

Here it is not a question of intervention but of the level of economic development and of the development of the class relations of the country.

In many of our works, and in all of our utterances in the press, we have emphasized that this is not the case in Russia, that in Russia the industrial workers are in the minority, and that the overwhelming majority are small farmers. Social revolution in such a country as this can only be finally successful under two conditions: firstly, the condition that it is supported at the right time by the social revolution in one or several more advanced countries ...

The other condition is the understanding between the proletariat and the majority of the peasant population ...

We know that only an understanding with the peasantry can save the socialist revolution in Russia, so long as social revolution has not broken out in other countries. This must be stated openly at all meetings, and in the whole press. (Lenin, speech at the Xth Party Congress of the RCP, 1921)

Lenin did not state that the understanding with the peasantry sufficed, enabling us to build up socialism independent of the fate of the international proletariat. No, this understanding is only one of the conditions. The other condition is the support to be given the revolution by other countries. He combines these two conditions with each other, emphasizing their special necessity for us as we live in a backward country.

And finally, it is brought up against me that I have stated that “a real advance of socialist economy in Russia is only possible after the victory of the proletariat in the most important countries of Europe.” It is probable, comrades, that we have become inaccurate in the use of various terms. What do we understand under “socialist economy” in the strict sense of the term? We have great successes to record, and are naturally proud of these. I have endeavored to describe them in my booklet, Toward Socialism or Capitalism, for the benefit of extent of these successes. Comrade Rykov’s theses state that we are approaching the pre-war level. But this is not quite accurate. Is our population the same as before the war? No, it is larger. And the average consumption of industrial goods per head is considerably less than in 1913. The people’s Supreme Economic Council calculates that in this respect we shall not regain the pre-war level until 1930. And then, what was the level of 1913? It was the level of misery, of backwardness, of barbarism. If we speak of socialist economy, and of a real advance in socialist economy, we mean: no antagonism between town and country, general content, prosperity, culture. This is what we understand under the real advance of socialist economy. And we are still far indeed from this goal. We have destitute children, we have unemployed, from the villages there come three million superfluous workers every year, half a million of whom seek work in the cities, where the industries cannot absorb more than 1,100,000 yearly. We have a right to be proud of what we have achieved, but we must not distort the historical perspective. What we have accomplished is not yet a real advance of socialist economy, but only the first serious steps on that long bridge leading from capitalism to socialism. Is this the same thing? By no means. The passage quoted against me stated the truth.

In 1922 Lenin wrote:

But we have not yet even completed the foundation of our socialist economy, and the hostile forces of expiring capitalism may even yet deprive us of it again This must be clearly recognized and openly admitted, for there is nothing so dangerous as illusions and dizziness, especially at great heights. And there is nothing “frightful,” nothing which can give the slightest cause for despair, in the recognition of this bitter truth, for we have always proclaimed and repeated that elementary truth of Marxism, that the joint efforts of the workers of some advanced countries are necessary for the victory of socialism.” (Lenin, Complete Works, Russian edition, Vol. XX/2, page 487.)

The question here is therefore not of intervention, but of the joint efforts of several advanced countries for the establishment of socialism. Or was this written by Lenin before the epoch of imperialism, before the law of unequal development was known? No, he wrote this in 1922.

There is, however, another passage, in the article on cooperatives, one single passage, which is set up against everything else that Lenin wrote, or rather the attempt is made so to oppose it. (A voice: “Accidentally!”) Not by any means accidentally. I am in full agreement with the sentence. It must be understood properly. The passage is as follows:

As a matter of fact, all the great means of production are in the possession of the state, the state power is in the hands of the proletariat: the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of poor and poorest peasantry, the security of the leadership of this proletariat over the peasantry, etc.; is then this not everything which we require to enable us to build up out of the cooperatives, of the cooperatives alone, which we treated at one time in a step-motherly manner, as petty tradesman affairs and which we are now justified to a certain extent in so treating under the NEP – to build up out of the cooperatives alone the complete socialist state of society? This is not yet the establishment of the socialist state of society, but it is everything which is necessary and sufficient for this realization ...

(A voice: “You read much too quickly.” Laughter) Then you must give me a few minutes more, comrades. (Laughter. A voice: “Right!”) Right? I am agreed. (A voice: “That is just what we want.”)

What is the question here? What elements are here enumerated? In the first place, the possession of the means of production; in the second, the power of the proletariat; thirdly, the alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry; fourthly, the proletarian leadership of the peasantry, and fifthly, the cooperatives. I ask you: does any one of you believe that socialism can be established in one single isolated country? Could perchance the proletariat in Bulgaria alone, if it had the peasantry behind it, seize power, build up the cooperatives and establish socialism? No, that would be impossible. Consequently further elements are required in addition to the above: the geographical situation, natural wealth, techniques culture. Lenin enumerates here the conditions of the state power, property relations and the organizatory forms of the cooperatives. Nothing more. And he says that we, in order to establish socialism, need not proletarianize the peasantry, nor need we any fresh revolutions, but that we are able, with power in our hands, in alliance with the peasantry, and with the aid of the cooperatives, to carry our task to completion through the agency of these state and social forms and methods.

But, comrades, we know another definition which Lenin gave of socialism. According to this definition, socialism is equal to soviet power plus electrification. Is electrification cancelled in the passage just quoted? No, it is not cancelled. Everything which Lenin otherwise said about the establishment of socialism – and I have adduced clear formulations above – is supplemented by this quotation, but not cancelled. For electrification is not something to be carried out in a vacuum, but under certain conditions, under the conditions imposed by the world market and the world economy, which are very tangible facts. The world economy is not mere theoretical generalization, but a definite and powerful reality, whose laws encompass us; a fact of which every year of our development convinces us.

The New Theory

Before dealing with this in detail, I should like to remind you of the following: Some of our comrades, before they created an entirely new theory, and in my opinion an entirely wrong one, based on a one-sided interpretation of Lenin’s article on the cooperatives, held quite a different standpoint. In 1924 Comrade Stalin did not say the same as he does today. This was pointed out at the XIV Party Congress, but the passage quoted did not disappear on that account, but remains fully maintained even in 1926.

Let us read:

Is it possible to attain the final victory of socialism in one single country without the joint efforts of the proletariats of several advanced countries? No, it is impossible. The exertions of a single country suffice to overthrow the bourgeoisie – this is shown by the history of our revolution. But for the final victory of socialism, for the organization of socialist production, the efforts of one single country, especially of such an agrarian country as Russia, are not sufficient – for this the efforts of the proletariats of several advanced countries are necessary. (The Principles of Leninism, April 1924.)

This was written by Stalin in 1924, but the resolution quotes me only up to 1922. (Laughter) Yes, this is what was said in 1924: For the organization of socialist economy – not for protection against intervention, not as guarantee against the restoration of the capitalist order, no, no, but for “the organization of socialist production,” the efforts of one single country, especially such an agrarian country as Russia, do not suffice. Comrade Stalin has given up this standpoint. He has of course a right to do so.

In his book, Problems of Leninism, he says:

What are the defects of this formulation? They consist of the fact that it throws two different questions together: the question of the possibility of the establishment of socialism in one country, by its own unaided efforts – to which an affirmative reply must be given; and the question of whether a country in which the dictatorship of the proletariat has been established can be considered as completely secure against intervention, and consequently as completely secure against the restoration of the capitalist order, unless a victorious revolution has taken place in a number of other countries – to which a negative reply must be given. (Stalin, Problems of Leninism, page 44, 1926.)

But if you will allow me to say so, we do not find these two questions confused with one another in the first passage quoted, dating from 1924. Here it is not a question of intervention, but solely of the impossibility of the complete organization of a completely socialized production by the unaided efforts of such a peasant country as Russia.

And truly, comrades, can the whole question be reduced to one of intervention? Can we simply imagine that we are establishing socialism here in this house, while the enemies outside in the street are throwing stones through the window panes? The matter is not so simple. Intervention is war, and war is a continuation of politics, but with other weapons. But politics are applied economics. Hence the whole question is one of the economic relations between the Soviet Union and the capitalist countries. These relations are not exhausted in that one form known as intervention. They possess a much more continuous and profound character. Comrade Bucharin has stated in so many words that the sole danger of intervention consists of the fact that in the event that no intervention comes:

... we can work toward socialism even on this wretched technical basis (we can work toward it, that is true. – L.T.), that this growth of socialism will be much slower, that we shall move forward at a snail’s pace; but all the same we shall work toward socialism, and we shall realize it. (At the XIV Party Congress)

That we are working toward socialism is true. That we shall realize it hand in hand with the world proletariat is incontestable. (Laughter) In my opinion it is out of place at a communist conference to laugh when the realization of socialism hand in hand with the international proletariat is spoken of. (Laughter. Voices: “No demagogy!” “You cannot catch us with that!!”) But I tell you that we shall never realize socialism at a snail’s pace, for the world’s markets keep too sharp a control over us. (A voice: “You are quite alarmed!”) How does Comrade Bucharin imagine this realization? In his last article in The Bolshevik, which I must say is the most scholastic work which has ever issued from Bucharin’s pen (laughter), he says:

The question is whether we can work toward socialism, and establish it, if we abstract this from the international questions.

Just listen to this: “If we can work toward socialism, and establish it, if we abstract this question from the international questions.” If we accomplish this “abstraction,” then of course the rest is easy. But we cannot. That is the whole point. (Laughter)

It is possible to walk naked in the streets of Moscow in January, if we can abstract ourselves from the weather and the police. (Laughter) But I am afraid that this abstraction would fail, both with respect to weather and to police, were we to make the attempt. (Laughter)

[Concluded in the Next Issue]

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Last updated on: 12 January 2015