Leon Trotsky

Platform of the Joint Opposition


Chapter 1
Our International Situation
and the War Danger

The Situation Of The Soviet Union In The World Arena

A WAR of the imperialists against the Soviet Union is not only probable, but inevitable.

To postpone this danger, to gain as much time as possible for strengthening the Soviet Union and consolidating the international revolutionary proletariat, should be one of our chief practical concerns. Only a victorious proletarian revolution in the dominant countries can finally remove this danger.

The danger of a world war is increasing for the following reasons:

  1. These years of Struggle Of the part of capitalism to strengthen itself, and the partial success obtained in that struggle, have made the question of markets a burning question for all the leading countries.
  2. The imperialist bourgeoisie, convinced of the indubitable growth of the economic power of the Soviet Union, sees also that the proletarian dictatorship, protected by the monopoly of foreign trade, will never give the capitalists a ‘free” market in Russia.
  3. The imperialist bourgeoisie is speculating on domestic difficulties in the Soviet Union.
  4. The defeat of the revolution in China, following the defeat of the English General Strike, has filled the imperialists with the hope that they may succeed in crushing the Soviet Union.

The rupture of diplomatic relations between Britain and the Soviet Union was prepared long ago, but the defeat of the Chinese revolution hastened it. In this sense it was a reward for the Central Committee’s refusal to adopt a real Bolshevik policy in China. It would be a great mistake to imagine that this matter reduces itself to a mere change in the form of trade between Britain and us. (“We will trade as we trade with America.”) It is perfectly clear now that imperial Britain has a broader plan of action. She is preparing a war against the Soviet Union, having a “moral mandate” from the bourgeoisie of several other countries, and intending by one means or another to drag into the war against us Poland, Rumania, and the Baltic states, and perhaps also Yugoslavia, Italy, and Hungary.

Poland, it appears, would prefer to have a longer period of preparation for war against us. But it is not impossible that Britain will compel her to fight sooner than she likes.

In France, the British pressure for a united front against the Soviet Union is finding support from an influential part of the bourgeoisie. They are becoming more and more irreconcilable in their demands, and, of course, at a favourable moment they will not hesitate to make a diplomatic rupture.

The more Germany’s diplomacy wriggles in recent times, the clearer it becomes that its general “orientation” is towards the West. The German bourgeoisie is already openly saying that, in a war against the Soviet Union, Germany would perhaps at the beginning remain “neutral” (in the manner of America in 1914). This, with a view to gain as much as possible from the war, and afterward openly sell its neutrality to the Western imperialists at a good price. Nothing could be worse for the fundamental interests of the Soviet Union than to conceal from itself this passing over of the German bourgeoisie to a Western “orientation”. An unexpected blow from the German bourgeoisie might well have a decisive significance for us. Only a perfectly open “statement of things as they are”, only an awakening of the vigilance of the workers of the Soviet Union and the workers of Germany, can insure us against this blow, or at least make it difficult for the German bourgeoisie to deliver it.

The Japanese bourgeoisie is manœuvring no less skilfully than the Germans in relation to the Soviet Union. It is very cleverly covering up its tracks, and pretending to be “friendly”. It has even checked, for a time, the seizure of the Chinese Eastern railroad by Chang Tso-lin. But it is secretly holding the reins in China and may soon throw off the mask in relation to us.

In the Near East (Turkey and Persia), we have not, to say the least, achieved a situation which would guarantee a firm neutrality in case the imperialists attack us. It would be wiser to assume that in such a case the governments of these states would incline, under pressure, to do the bidding of the imperialists against the Soviet Union.

In the case of an attack on us, America, having preserved her wholly irreconcilable attitude to the Soviet Union, would play the role of the imperialist “rear”. The significance of this role would be the greater because she is just the one to guarantee the financing of a war against the Soviet Union.

To sum up: Whereas the years, 1923-1925 were years of recognition of the Soviet Union by a series of bourgeois states, the period beginning now will be a period of rupture. The recognitions of the preceding period did not necessarily mean that peace was assured, that the breathing space would last. The ruptures of the present period do not necessarily mean that war is unavoidable in the near future. But that we have entered into a new time of extreme tension in the international situation, containing the possibility of attacks against the Soviet Union, is indubitable.

The contradictions within the capitalist world are very great. To realize, throughout a long period, a united front against us will be extremely difficult for the world bourgeoisie. But a partial union of several bourgeois states against us, for a certain period of time, is entirely possible.

All this taken together ought to impel our party:

  1. To recognize that the international situation is dangerous.
  2. To bring again into the foreground before the broad masses of the population the problems of international politics.
  3. To carry on a most intense and all-sided preparation of the Soviet Union for defence in case of war.

The bourgeois parties, including official Social Democracy, will try in every way to deceive their people as to the real character of the war which imperialism is preparing against the Soviet Union. Our task is to explain now to the broadest masses of the peoples of the whole world that this will be a war of imperialists and slave-owners against the first proletarian state and dictatorship – a war of capitalism against socialism. In this war the imperialist bourgeoisie will be fighting essentially to preserve the whole system of capitalist wage slavery. The Soviet Union will be fighting for the interests of the international proletariat, the colonial and semi-colonial and enslaved countries. for the international revolution and socialism.

Our whole work ought already to be carried on under these slogans:

  1. Down with the war of the imperialists against the state of the proletarian dictatorship.
  2. Transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war in all states attacking the Soviet Union.
  3. Defeat of all the bourgeois states making war on the Soviet Union. Every honest proletarian of the capitalist countries ought actively to work for the defeat of “his” government.
  4. Coming over to the side of the Red Army of every foreign soldier who does not want to help the slave-owners of his country. The Soviet Union is the fatherland of all workers.
  5. The slogan, “Defence of the Fatherland”, will be a false disguise of the interests of imperialism in all bourgeois countries, except the colonial and semi-colonial countries who are carrying on a national revolutionary war against the imperialists. In the Soviet Union the slogan, “Defence of the Fatherland”, will be a true one, because we are defending the socialist fatherland and the base of the world labour movement.
  6. We are “Defenders of the Fatherland” since October 25, 1917. Our patriotic war will be a war “for the Soviet republic, as one of the advanced units of the international army of socialism”. “Our “patriotic” war is not a step towards a bourgeois state, but a step to an international socialist revolution” (Lenin). Our defence of the fatherland is the defence of the proletarian dictatorship. Our war will be waged by the workers and farm-hands with the support of the poor peasants, and with the alliance of the middle peasants against “our own” kulaks, new bourgeoisie, bureaucrats, specialists of the Ustryalov school, and White émigrés. Our war will be a really just war. Whoever is not a defender of the Soviet Union is unquestionably a traitor to the international proletariat.

The Defeat of the Chinese Revolution and Its Causes

The defeat of the Chinese revolution has changed the real relation of forces to the advantage of imperialism; of course, only temporarily. New revolutionary conflicts, a new revolution in China, are inevitable. That is guaranteed by the whole situation.

The opportunist leaders are trying, after the event, to explain their own failure by the so-called “objective relation of forces”. They forget that only yesterday they were predicting a speedy socialist revolution in China upon the basis of this same relation of forces.

The deciding cause of the unfortunate outcome of the Chinese revolution at the present stage was the fundamentally mistaken policy of the leadership of the Russian Communist Patty and the whole International. The net result was that at the decisive period there existed in China, in actual fact, no real Bolshevik party. To lay the blame now upon the Chinese Communists alone is superficial and contemptible.

We had in China a classic experiment in the application of the Menshevik tactic in the bourgeois-democratic revolution. That is why the Chinese proletariat not only did not attain to its victorious “1905” (Lenin), but has played, so far, essentially the same role that the European proletariat played in the revolutions of 1848. The peculiarity of the Chinese revolution in the present international situation is not that there exists in China a so-called “revolutionary” liberal bourgeoisie – upon which Stalin-Martynov-Bukharin rested the hopes of their entire policy. Its peculiarities are as follows:

(1) The Chinese peasantry, more oppressed than the Russian under Tsarism, groaning under the yoke not only of their own but also of foreign oppressors, could rise, and did rise, more powerfully than the Russian peasantry in the revolution of 1905.

(2) The slogan of “Soviets” proposed by Lenin for China as early as 1920 had every possible justification in the conditions existing in 1926-1927. Soviets in China would have offered forms of consolidation for the peasant power, under the leadership of the proletariat. They would have been real organs of the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. And that means organs of real resistance to the bourgeois Kuomintang, and to the Chinese Cavaignacs emerging from it.

The doctrine of Lenin, that a bourgeois-democratic revolution can be carried through only by a union of the working class and the peasants (under the leadership of the former) against the bourgeoisie, is not only applicable to China, and to similar colonial and semi-colonial countries, but in fact indicates the sole road to victory in those countries.

(3) It follows from all this that a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasants, had it crystallized in the form of Soviets in China, in the present period of imperialist wars and proletarian revolutions, modified as it is by the existence of the Soviet Union, would have had every possible chance of a comparatively swift transformation into a socialist revolution.

Apart from this policy there remained only the Menshevik road of alliances with the liberal bourgeoisie, which leads unavoidably to the defeat of the working class. That is what had actually happened in 1927 in China.

All the decisions made during Lenin’s life by the Second and Fourth Congresses of the Communist International – the decision on Soviets in the Orient, on the full independence of workers’ Communist parties in countries having a national-revolutionary movement, and on the union of the working class with the peasants against “their” bourgeoisie and the foreign imperialists – all these decisions were completely forgotten.

The resolution of the seventh enlarged plenum of the executive committee of the Communist International (November l926), not only did not give a true Leninist evaluation of the already powerfully developing events in China, but it wholly and absolutely went over to the Menshevik course advocated by Martynov. In the resolution, incredible as it may seem, not one word was said about the first counter-revolutionary coup d’etat of Chiang Kai-shek in March 1926. Not one word about the shootings of workers and peasants and other repressive measures carried out by the Canton government in a whole series of provinces during the summer and autumn of 1926. Not one word about the measures of compulsory arbitration directed against the working class. Not one word about the putting down of working-class strikes by the Canton government, about the protection given by the Canton government to the yellow “company unions” of the employers. Not one word about the efforts put forth by the Canton government to strangle the peasants movement, spit upon it, prevent its spread and development. In the resolution of the seventh plenum, there is no demand for the arming of the workers, no summons to struggle against the counter-revolutionary General Staff. The troops of Chiang Kaishek are described in this resolution as a revolutionary army. No call is given for the creation of a daily Communist Press, and it is not even stated clearly and definitely that we must have a genuinely independent Chinese Communist party. To complete it all, the seventh plenum urged the Communists to enter the national government, a step which under the existing circumstances could only bring the greatest conceivable disaster.

The resolution of the International says: “The apparatus of the national revolutionary government (that is, the government of Chiang Kai-shek) offers a very real road to solidarity with the peasants.” In the same place it says (this was in November 1926) that “even certain strata of the big bourgeoisie (!) may still for a certain time march hand in hand with the revolution”.

The resolution of the seventh plenum passed over in silence the fact that the Central Committee of the Chinese party, after March 1926, gave an undertaking not to criticize Sun Yat-senism, renounced its elementary rights as an independent workers’ party, adopted a Cadet agrarian programme, and finally permitted the secretary of its Central Committee, Comrade Chen Du-hsiu in an open letter dated July 4, 1926, to recognize Sun Yat-sen-ism as the “common faith” of the workers and the bourgeoisie in the national movement.

At approximately the same time the most responsible Russian comrades were giving advice to the effect that the development of a civil war in the country might weaken the fighting capacity of the Kuomintang. In other words, they officially forbade the development of an agrarian revolution.

On April 5, 1927, when the situation, it might seem, was already sufficiently clear. Comrade Stalin, at a meeting of the Moscow party organization in the Hall of Columns, announced that Chiang Kai-shek was a warrior against imperialism, that Chiang Kai-shek submitted to the discipline of the Kuomintang and was therefore our trusted ally. In the middle of May 1927, when the situation had become still more clear, Comrade Stalin announced that the Kuomintang in Wuhan was a “revolutionary Kuomintang”, a “revolutionary centre purged of right elements”.

The eighth enlarged plenum of the executive committee of the Communist International (May 1927) could not find the strength to correct these Menshevik mistakes.

The Opposition introduced at this eighth plenum the following statement:

The plenum would act correctly if it crossed out Bukharin’s resolution altogether and replaced it with a resolution consisting of the following brief lines: The peasants and workers should not trust the leaders of the left Kuomintang, but should create their own Soviets in union with the soldiers. The soviets should arm the wo~kers and the vanguard of the peasants. The Communist party should maintain complete independence, should establish a daily Press, and should direct the setting-up of soviets. The land should be taken away from the landlords at once. The reactionary bureaucracy should be overthrown immediately. Traitor generals, and counter. revolutionists in general, should be dealt with on the spot. The general course should be towards the establishment of a democratic dictatorship through the Sovicts of workers’ and peasants’ deputies.

The attempt of the Opposition to warn the party that the Kuomintang in Wuhan was not by any means a revolutionary Kuomintang, was denounced by Stalin and Bukharin as “a struggle against the party”, an “attack upon the Chinese revolution”, etc.

Dispatches stating the facts as to the real course of the revolution and the counter-revolution in China were concealed and falsified. Things went so far that the central organ of our Party [1] announced the disarmament of the workers by the Chinese generals, under the headline “Fraternization of the Soldiers with the Workers”. In mockery of Lenin’s teaching. Stalin asserted that the slogan of “Soviets” in China would mean the demand for an immediate formation of the proletarian dictatorship. As a matter of fact Lenin, as long ago as in the revolution of 1905, advanced the slogan of Soviets as organs of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasants. The slogan of Soviets for China, proposed at the proper time by the Opposition, was met by Stalin and Bukharin with an accusation of “aiding and abetting the counter-revolution”, etc. When the centres of the revolt of the workers and peasants were smashed by “our generals, the “revolutionary” generals, Stalin and Bukharin, in order to cover up their own bankruptcy, suddenly advanced the slogan of “Soviets” for China – and then forgot it again the next morning.

At first the Chinese Communist party was declared to be “a model section of the International”, and the slightest criticism of it from the Opposition – at a time when its mistakes might still have been corrected – was suppressed and denounced as a “spiteful attack” upon the Chinese party. Afterward, when the dismal failure of Martynov-Stalin-Bukharin became perfectly clear, they attempted to throw all the blame upon the young Chinese Communist party.

At first they staked everything upon Chiang Kai-shek, then upon Tang Sheng-chi, then upon Feng Yu-hsiang, then the “tried and true” Wang Ching-wei. One after the other every one of these hangmen of the workers and peasants was hailed as a “warrior against imperialism” and “our” ally.

This Menshevik policy is now being completed by the frank and open castration of the revolutionary teaching of Lenin. Stalin-Bukharin and the “younger school” are now occupied with “proving” that the teachings of Lenin on the national revolutionary movement amount in effect to a gospel of “union with the bourgeoisie”.

In 1920, at the Second Congress of the Communist International, Lenin said:

There has occurred a certain drawing together of the bourgeois classes of the imperialist and colonial countries, such that very often, and indeed in the majority of cases, the bourgeoisie of the oppressed country, although it supports the national movement, at the same time fights in union with the imperialist bourgeoisie against all revolutionary movements and revolutionary classes. [2]

How Lenin would denounce these people who dare refer to him today for justification of their Menshevik policy of union with Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei. Lenin himself spoke of this very thing in March 1917:

“Our revolution is bourgeois and therefore the workers should support the bourgeoisie,” say the good-for-nothing politicians from the camp of the liquidators. “Our revolution is bourgeois,” say we Marxists. “therefore the workers ought to open the eyes of the whole people to the deceit of the bourgeois politicians and teach the people not to believe the words of these politicians, but to rely on their own strength, on their own organization, on their own unity, on their own arms and ammunition.” [3]

There could be no greater crime against the international proletariat than this attempt to represent Lenin as the apostle of “alliance with the bourgeoisie”. You will rarely find in the history of revolutionary struggle a case where Marxist predictions were confirmed so swiftly and so accurately as were the views of the Opposition on the problems of the Chinese revolution in 1926-1927.

A study of the course of events in the Chinese revolution and the causes of its defeat is the urgent and immediate task of Communists throughout the world.

These questions will tomorrow become questions of life and death for the working-class movement, not only in China but in India and other Eastern countries – and thus, for the entire international proletariat. In the debates on these questions which touch the very foundations of the Marxian world-view, will be formed the genuine Bolshevik cadres of the coming revolution.

The Partial Stabilization of Capitalism and the Tactics of the Communist International

One of the fundamental tenets of Bolshevism is that the epoch beginning with World War I and our revolution is the epoch of the socialist revolution. The Communist International was founded as a “party of world revolution”. A recognition of this fact was recorded in the “twenty-one points”. And it was primarily along this line that the Communists split with the Social Democrats, “Independents” and Mensheviks of all sorts and kinds.

A recognition of the fact that the war and October opened an epoch of world revolution does not mean, of course, that at every given moment we have on hand an immediately revolutionary situation. In certain periods, in individual countries, and in individual branches of production, “dying capitalism” (Lenin) is capable of a partial re-establishment of its economy and even a further development of its productive forces. The epoch of world revolution will have its periods of rise and fall. So much the greater will be the importance of the preparedness of the working class and its party, the degree of influence exercised by counter-revolutionary Social Democracy, the correct leadership of the Comintern. But this ebb and flow of the revolution will not change the fundamental Leninist evaluation of the present historical epoch taken as a whole. Only this evaluation can form the basis of the revolutionary strategy of the Communist International.

Nevertheless, as a result of a series of defeats of the international revolutionary movement and the pessimistic moods growing out of them, the Stalin group, unnoticeably even to itself, has arrived at a completely “new” and essentially Social-Democratic appraisal of the present epoch. The whole “theory” of socialism in one country derives fundamentally from the assumption that the “stabilization” of capitalism will endure for a series of decades. This whole “theory” is essentially a product of the degenerate mood of the apostles of “stabilization”. It is no accident that the “theory” of socialism in one country has been welcomed by the Socialist-Revolutionaries, both right and left. Chernov himself has written on this theme about the “Communist populism” of Stalin and Bukharin. The organ of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries wrote: “Stalin and Bukharin affirm, exactly like Narodniks, that socialism can win in one country”. [4] The Socialist-Revolutionaries support this theory because they see in it a renunciation of the tactics of world revolution.

In the resolution of the Fourteenth Party Congress, adopted on the report of Stalin, the following obviously incorrect statement is made: “In the sphere of international relations we have a reinforcement and lengthening of the ‘breathing spell’, which is transforming itself into a whole period.” [5] At the seventh enlarged plenum of the executive committee of the Communist International (December 7, 1926), Stalin in his report based the whole policy of the International upon the same radically incorrect evaluation of the world situation. [6] This evaluation has already proved quite obviously incorrect.

The resolution of the joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Committee (July-August 1927) speaks without the slightest qualification of the technical, economic, and political stabilization of capitalism. This brings the Stalinist evaluation of the world situation very much nearer to that of the leaders of the Second International (Otto Bauer, Hilferding, Kautsky, and others).

Since the Fourteenth Congress something over a year and a half has passed. During that time, taking only the most important events, we have had the general strike in Britain, the gigantic events of the Chinese revolution, the workers’ uprising in Vienna. These events, irresistibly springing from the very conditions of the present “stabilization”, show us how much disruptive material has been accumulated by capitalism, how unstable its “stabilization” is. These events run straight against the “theory” of socialism in one country.

The reverse side of the “stabilization” of capitalism is the unemployed population of 20 million, the colossal idleness of the productive apparatus, the insane growth of military preparations, the extreme shakiness of international economic relations. Nothing so surely reveals the vanity of the hope for a long peaceful period as the present new danger of war that hangs over Europe. It is the petty bourgeois who dreams about stabilization for “decades”, blinded as he is by the victory of capitalism over the workers, blinded by the technical, economic, and political successes of capitalism. But the real facts are developing in the direction of a war which will explode every “stabilization”. And moreover the working class and the oppressed colonial masses of the East are attempting time and time again to overthrow violently this “stabilization”. Now in Britain, now in China, now in Vienna. A General Strike in Britain – and only 5,000 members in the British Communist Party! A workers’ insurrection in Vienna, with enough victims for a whole revolution – and only 6,000 members in the Austrian Communist party! A military uprising of the worker and peasant masses in China – and the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party turns out to be a mere appendix to the bourgeois leadership of the Kuomintang! These are the crying contradictions of the present world situation. These are the facts which support and prolong the “stabilization” of capitalism. Our greatest problem is to help the Communist parties raise themselves to the height of the gigantic demand which the present epoch makes upon them. But this assumes, in the first place, a correct understanding of the character of the world situation on the part of the Communist International itself.

Our international Communist party (the Communist International) ought to give itself the task of consolidating the whole international working class for the struggle to prevent war, to defend the Soviet Union, to transform an imperialist war into a war for socialism. To this end the Communist worker ought above all to win over the revolutionary-minded worker who is non-Communist, non-party, Social-Democrat, syndicalist, anarchist, trade unionist, and also that honest worker who is still a member of a purely bourgeois organization. “By the united workers’ front must be understood the unity of all the workers who desire to struggle against capitalism, and that includes the workers still following the anarcho-syndicalists, etc. In the Latin countries, the number of these workers is still considerable.” This was the resolution of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, in Lenin’s time. It retains its full force and applicability today. The present activities of the leaders of the Second International and the Amsterdam Trade Union International, make it perfectly clear that their conduct in a future war will exceed, in scoundrelism and unscrupulous betrayal, the role they played in 1914-1918. Paul-Boncour (France) has introduced a law betraying the workers in advance into the hands of a bourgeois dictator in war time. The General Council of the Trades Union Congress (Britain) is defending the murderers of Volkov and giving its benediction to the shipping of troops to China. Kautsky (Germany) is advocating an armed insurrection against the Soviet power in Russia, and the Central Committee of German Social Democracy is organizing the “grenade campaign”. The Social-Democratic ministers of Finland and Latvia, and the leaders of the Polish Socialist Party, are perpetually ready to support a war against the Soviet Union. The leaders of the American official trade union organization are talking the language of the most venomous reactionaries, fighting openly against recognition of the Soviet Union. The Balkan “socialists” are supporting the hangmen of “their workers and will always be ready to support any campaign against the “foreign” Soviet Union. The Austrian Social-Democratic leaders are “for the Soviet Union” in words, but people who have helped their own fascists drown in blood the workers’ insurrection of Vienna will obviously, at the decisive moment, be on the side of the capitalists. The Russian Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries are not advocating intervention against the Soviet Union, only because there are not yet any strong powers ready to intervene. The leaders of so-called “Left Social-Democracy”, keeping concealed the counter-revolutionary essence of their opinions, are the chief danger, because they more than anybody else prevent the workers who are following the Social-Democratic banner from decisively breaking with these agents of the bourgeoisie in the workers’ movement. Former members of the Communist International (such as Katz, Schwartz, Korsch, Rosenberg) are playing the same traitorous role, having broken with Communism by the road of ultra-leftism.

Flirting with these Social-Democratic leaders (absolutely anti-revolutionary in all their shades, from the open rights to the pretended “lefts”) will become more and more dangerous as war draws near. The tactic of the united front should under no conditions be interpreted as a bloc with the traitors of the General Council of the TUC, or as a rapprochement with Amsterdam. Such a policy weakens and confuses the working class, increases the prestige of the indubitable traitors, and prevents the maximum consolidation of our own forces. The wrong course, summed up in the phrase of Stalin, “Fire to the left”, has brought it about in the last year or two that the predominating role of leadership in the most important sections of the International has passed, against the will of the Communist workers, into the hands of the right wing. (This has happened in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy and Britain.)

The policy of these dominating Right groups, directed towards cutting off the whole left wing of the Communist International, is weakening the power of the International and preparing ominous dangers.

In particular the cutting off of the Urbahns group in Germany was dictated by this policy of getting rid of the whole left wing of the International. Unduly emphasizing certain sharply polemical phrases used by the Left partisans of Urbahns and Maslov, in response to those who slandered and baited them without conscience as “renegades”, “counter-revolutionarists”, “agents of Chamberlain”, etc., the Stalin group is obstinately pushing the German Left along the road of a second party. The Stalin group is trying its best to bring it about that a split in the ranks of the German Communists shall become a completed fact.

In reality, upon all fundamental questions of the international working-class movement, the Urbahns group is defending, and at the decisive minute it will indubitably continue to defend to the last ditch, the Soviet Union. It embraces hundreds of thousands of old rank-and-file worker Bolsheviks, bound up with the broad masses of the proletariat. It has the sympathy of many thousands of working-class Communists who have remained in the German Communist party.

Re-admittance into the International of all these expelled comrades, who acknowledge the authority of the congress of the International – and first among them the Urbahns group – is the first step towards correcting the moves made by Stalin towards a split in the International. In his Left-Wing Communism, Lenin, exposing the mistakes of the real “ultra-leftists”, wrote that the chief enemy of Bolshevism within the workers’ movement is and remains opportunism. “This enemy remains the chief one also on the international scale.” [7] At the Second Congress of the International, Lenin added to this the statement that “in comparison with this task, it will be an easy task to correct ‛mistakes“ of the left tendency in Communism”. [8] When he spoke of the “left”, Lenin had in mind the ultra-leftists; whereas Stalin, when he speaks of the struggle against ultra-leftism, has in view the revolutionary Leninists.

A decisive struggle with the right opportunist movement as the chief enemy, and a correction of the mistakes of the “left” tendency – that was the slogan of Lenin. We, the Oppositionists, propose the same slogan.

The power of “socialist” opportunism is in the last analysis the power of capitalism. During the first years after the war crisis (1918-1921) when capitalism was swiftly sliding into the abyss, official Social Democracy was weakening and falling with it. These years of partial stabilization of capitalism bring with them a temporary strengthening of Social Democracy. The defeat of the Italian workers in 1920-1921, of the German proletariat in 1921-1923, the defeat of the great strike in Britain in 1926, and the defeat of the Chinese proletariat in 1927, whatever may have been their causes, have themselves become the cause of a temporary depression of the revolutionary wave in the upper levels of the proletariat. They have for a certain period strengthened Social Democracy at the expense of the Communist party. And within the Communist party they are giving a temporary dominance to the right wing at the expense of the left. The role of the labour aristocracy, the labour bureaucracy and its petty-bourgeois associates, becomes at such a period especially great and especially reactionary.

To a certain extent these processes must inevitably affect the Communist party of the Soviet Union. The administrative “centre” has opened its “fire” exclusively upon the left and by purely mechanical methods has created a new inter-relation of forces, still more to the disadvantage of the left, Leninist wing. A situation has been created in which as a fact the party never votes, but only the apparatus.

Such are the general causes of the weakening of the influence of the Leninist wing upon the policies of the Communist International, the Russian Communist party, and the Soviet state. In consequence of it, the right semi-Social-Democratic elements, who long after October were still in the ranks of the enemy, and were at last admitted into the Communist International somewhat as though on probation (Martynov, Smeral, Rafes, D. Petrovsky, Pepper, and others) are more and more frequently and more and more loudly speaking in the name of the International. And to them must be added the names of downright adventurers like Heinz Neumann and others of the same kind. In the masses, however, the elements of a new movement to the left, a new revolutionary revival, are already gathering together. The Opposition is engaged in preparing for that new day, both theoretically and politically.

The Principal Conclusion

(1) In the dominant circles of the majority, under the influence of our break with Britain and other difficulties, both foreign and domestic, such “plans” are being prepared as the following:

  1. To recognize the debts.
  2. To annul more or less the monopoly of foreign trade.
  3. To withdraw from China – that is, withdraw “for a time” our support of the Chinese revolution and of the national-revolutionary movement in general.
  4. To execute within the country a right “manœuvre – that is, expand the NEP a little.

At this price it is hoped to ward off the danger of war, improve the international situation of the Soviet Union, and get rid of (or at least reduce) the international difficulties. The whole “plan” is based upon the one assumption that capitalism is assured for decades.

In reality this would not be a “manœuvre”, but in the present situation a full capitulation on the part of the Soviet power: through the “political NEP”, the “neo-NEP”, back to capitalism. The imperialists would accept all our concessions and proceed so much the more swiftly to the new attack and even to war. The kulaks, the Nepmen and the bureaucrats, taking cognizance of our concessions, would the more insistently organize all the anti-Soviet forces against our party. Such a “tactic” upon our part would result in the closest possible union of our new “bourgeoisie” with the foreign bourgeoisie. The economic development of the Soviet Union would fall under the complete control of international capital – a penny of loan for a ruble of slavery. And the working class and the bulk of the peasants would begin to lose their faith in the might of the Soviet state, their faith that the Soviet state knows where it is leading the people.

We are bound to try to “buy ourselves off” from war, if that is possible. But just for that reason we must be strong and united, unwaveringly defend the tactics of the world revolution, and reinforce the International. Only thus have we a serious chance of gaining a really long postponement of war without paying a price that would undermine the foundations of our power, and at the same time, in case war proves inevitable, of gaining the support of the international proletariat and winning.

Lenin made certain economic concessions to the imperialists in order to buy us off from war or to attract international capital upon acceptable terms. But neither in these circumstances nor in the hardest moments of the revolution did Lenin ever admit the idea of abolishing the monopoly of foreign trade, of offering political rights to the kulak, of weakening our support to the world revolution in general.

We must, first of all, wholly and without reserve affirm and reinforce our support to the international revolution. We must offer a firm resistance to all “stabilization” tendencies, to all this pseudo-statesmanship which expresses itself in the remarks that we had no business “busting-in in China”, that we had better “get out of China as quick as we can”, that if we will behave ourselves “reasonably” they will “leave us alone”, etc. The “theory” of socialism in one country is now playing a directly disintegrating role and clearly hindering the consolidation of the international forces of the proletariat around the Soviet Union. It is lulling the workers of other countries, dulling their sense of the real dangers.

(2) Another task of equal importance is to consolidate the ranks of our party, to put an end to the open speculation of the imperialist bourgeoisie and the leaders of Social Democracy on a split, or an amputation, or “cutting-off”, etc. All this has the most direct connection with the question of war, for at present the “probing” of the imperialists is being carried out chiefly along this moral-political line. All the organs of the international bourgeoisie and the Social Democrats are now showing a quite unusual interest in our inner-party disputes. They are openly encouraging and spurring on the present majority of the Central Committee to exclude the Opposition from the leading organs of the party, and if possible from the party, and if possible, indeed, to put them out of the way altogether. Beginning with the richest bourgeois newspaper, the New York Times, and ending with the most successfully wriggling paper of the Second International, the Vienna Arbeiter Zeitung (Otto Bauer), all the organs of the bourgeoisie and the Social Democrats are saluting the “government of Stalin” for its struggle against the Opposition. They are urging this government to prove still further its “statesmanlike intelligence” by decisively cutting off these Oppositional “propagandists of international revolution”. Other things being equal, a war will come so much the later in proportion as these hopes of the enemy for a “cutting off” of the Opposition, etc., remain unrealized. Moreover, we can buy ourselves off from a war, if that is possible – and conquer in the war, if we have to fight – only if we preserve complete unity; if we disappoint the hopes of the imperialists for a split or an amputation. Such a thing would benefit only the capitalists.

(3) It is necessary to straighten our class line in the international workers’ movement, stop the struggle against the left wing in the International, restore to the International those excluded members who accept the decisions of the congresses; and once and for all put an end to the policy of a “hearty accord” with the traitorous leaders of the British General Council. A break with the General Council will have the same significance

in the present situation as in 1914 the break with the International Socialist Bureau of the Second International. Lenin demanded in an ultimatum that the break be made by every revolutionist. To remain in union with such a General Council means now as then to help the counter-revolutionary leaders of the Second International.

(4) We must decisively correct our line in the national-revolutionary movement – first of all in China, but also in a series of other countries. We must liquidate the policy of Martynov-Stalin-Bukharin and return to the course outlined by Lenin in the resolutions of the Second and Fourth Congresses of the Communist International. Otherwise, instead of being an accelerator we shall become a brake upon the national-revolutionary movement and inevitably lose the sympathy of the workers and peasants of the East. The Chinese Communist party must dissolve all organizational and political dependence upon the Kuomintang. The Communist International must expel the Kuomintang from its ranks.

(5) We must consistently, systematically, and stubbornly wage the struggle for peace. We must postpone war, “buy ourselves off from the war threat”. Everything possible and permissible must be done to this end (see point 1). At the same time we must get ready for war immediately, not folding our arms for one instant. And our first duty is to put an end to all speculation as to whether there exists any close danger of war.

(6) We must firmly correct our class line within the country. If war is inevitable, only a strictly Bolshevik policy can win: the worker and farm-hand, with the support of the poor peasant, in alliance with the middle peasant, against the kulak, the Nepman, the bureaucrat.

(7) An all-sided preparation of our entire economy, budget, etc., for the event of war. Capitalism is entering into a new period of disturbances.

A war with the Soviet Union, like a war with China, will mean a series of catastrophes to international capitalism. The war of 1914-1918 was a gigantic “accelerator” (Lenin) of the socialist revolution. New wars, and especially a war against the Soviet Union, in which with a correct policy on our side we should win the sympathy of the labouring masses of the whole earth, can become a still greater “accelerator” of the downfall of world capitalism. Socialist revolutions will develop without new wars. But new wars will inevitably lead to socialist revolutions.


1. Pravda, July 3, 1927.

2. Vol.XVII, p.275.

3. First Letter from Afar, Vol.XIV, Part I, p.11.

4. Znamya Borby, Nos. 17 and 18, 1926.

5. Report of the Fourteenth Congress, p.957.

6. Verbatim report, p.12.

7. Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism, Vol.XVII, p.124.

8. Vol.XVII, p.267.

Chapter VIII    |    Platform of the Opposition Index    |    Chapter X

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Last updated on: 26.1.2007