Leon Trotsky

The Third International
After Lenin

I. The Program of the International Revolution
or a Program of Socialism in One Country?

(Part 2)

5. The Theoretical Tradition of The Party

6. Where is the “Social Democratic Deviation”?

7. The Dependence of the USSR on World Economy

5. The Theoretical Tradition of The Party

The draft program, in the foregoing quotation, deliberately uses the expression “victory of socialism in one country” so as to secure an external and purely verbal similarity between its text and Lenin’s article of 1915, which has been misused so ruthlessly, not to say criminally, during the discussion on the question of building a socialist society in one country. The draft resorts to the same method elsewhere by “referring” to Lenin’s words as a confirmation. Such is the scientific “methodology of the draft.”

Of the great wealth of Marxian literature and the treasure of Lenin’s works – directly ignoring everything Lenin said and wrote and everything he did, ignoring the party program and the program of the Young Communist League, ignoring the opinions expressed by all party leaders, without exception, during the epoch of the October Revolution, when the question was posed categorically (and how categorically!) ignoring what the authors of the program themselves, Stalin and Bukharin, said up to and including 1924 – two quotations all told from Lenin, one from his article on the United States of Europe, written in 1915, and another from his unfinished posthumous work on cooperation, written in 1923, have been used in defense of the theory of national socialism, which was created to meet the exigencies of the struggle against so-called “Trotskyism” at the end of 1924 or the beginning of 1925. Everything that contradicts these two quotations of a couple of lines each – the whole of Marxism and Leninism – has simply been set aside. These two artificially extracted, and grossly and epigonically misinterpreted quotations are taken as the basis of the new and purely revisionist theory which is unbounded from the viewpoint of its political consequences. We are witnessing the efforts to graft, by methods of scholasticism and sophistry, to the Marxian trunk an absolutely alien branch, which, if grafted, will inexorably poison and kill the whole tree.

At the Seventh Plenum of the ECCI, Stalin declared (not for the first time): “The question of the construction of a socialist economy in one country was for the first time advanced in the party by Lenin back in 1915.” [15]

Thus an admission is here made that prior to 1915 no mention was ever made of the question of socialism in one country. Ergo, Stalin and Bukharin do not venture to encroach upon the entire tradition of Marxism and of the party on the question of the international character of the proletarian revolution. Let us bear this in mind.

However, let us see what Lenin did say “for the first time” in 1915 in contradistinction to what Marx, Engels, and Lenin himself had said previously.

In 1915 Lenin said: “Uneven economic and political development is an unconditional law of capitalism. Hence it follows that the triumph of socialism is, to begin with, possible in a few, or even in a single capitalist country. The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists and having organized socialist production at home, would be up in arms against the rest of the capitalist world, attracting oppressed classes of other countries to its side, causing insurrections in those countries against the capitalists, and acting, in case of need, even with military power against the exploiting classes and their governments.” [16]

What did Lenin have in mind? Only that the victory of socialism in the sense of the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat is possible at first in one country, which because of this very fact, will be counterposed to the capitalist world. The proletarian state, in order to be able to resist an attack and to assume a revolutionary offensive of its own, will first have to “organize socialist production at home,” i.e., it will have to organize the operation of the factories taken from the capitalists. That is all. Such a “victory of socialism” was, as is shown, first achieved in Russia, and the first workers’ state, in order to defend itself against world intervention, had first of all to “organize socialist production at home,” or to create trusts of “a consistently socialist type.” By the victory of socialism in one country, Lenin consequently did not cherish the fantasy of a self-sufficient socialist society, and in a backward country at that, but something much more realistic, namely, what the October Revolution had achieved in our country during the first period of its existence.

Does this, perhaps, require proof? So many proofs can be adduced that the only difficulty lies in making the best choice.

In his theses on war and peace (January 7, 1918) Lenin spoke of the “necessity of a certain period of time, at least several months, for the victory of socialism in Russia ...” [17]

At the beginning of the same year, i.e., 1918, Lenin, in his article entitled “On Left Wing Childishness and Petty Bourgeois Tendencies,” directed against Bukharin, wrote the following: “ If, let us say, state capitalism could be established in our country within six months, that would be a tremendous achievement and the surest guarantee that within a year socialism will be definitely established and will have become invincible.” [18]

How could Lenin have set so short a period for the “definite establishment of socialism”? What material-productive and social content did he put into these words?

This question will at once appear in a different light if we recall that on April 29, 1918, Lenin said in his report to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviet government: “It is hardly to be expected that our next generation, which will be more highly developed, will effect a complete transition to socialism.” [19]

On December 3, 1919, at the Congress of Communes and Artels, Lenin spoke even more bluntly, saying: “We know that we cannot establish a socialist order at the present time. It will be well if our children and perhaps our grandchildren will be able to establish it.” [20]

In which of these two cases was Lenin right? Was it when he spoke of the “definite establishment of socialism” within twelve months, or when he left it not for our children but our grandchildren to “establish the socialist order”?

Lenin was right in both cases, for he had in mind two entirely different and incommensurable stages of socialist construction.

By the “definite establishment of socialism” in the first case, Lenin meant not the building of a socialist society within a year’s time or even “several months,” that is, he did not mean that the classes will be done away with, that the contradictions between city and country will be eliminated; he meant the restoration of production in mills and factories in the hands of the proletarian state, and thus the assuring of the possibility to exchange products between city and country. The very shortness of the term is in itself a sure key to an understanding of the whole perspective.

Of course, even for this elementary task, too short a term was set at the beginning of 1918. It was this purely practical “miscalculation” that Lenin derided at the Fourth Congress of the Comintern when he said “we were more foolish then than we are now.” But “we had a correct view of the general perspectives and did not for a moment believe that it is possible to set up a complete ’socialist order’ in the course of twelve months and in a backward country at that.” The attainment of this main and final goal – the construction of a socialist society – was left by Lenin to three whole generations – ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.

Is it not clear that in his article of 1915, Lenin meant by the organization of “socialist production,” not the creation of a socialist society but an immeasurably more elementary task which has already been realized by us in the USSR? Otherwise, one would have to arrive at the absurd conclusion that, according to Lenin, the proletarian party, having captured power, “postpones” the revolutionary war until the third generation.

Such is the sorry position of the main stronghold of the new theory in so far as the 1915 quotation is concerned. However, what is sadder still is the fact that Lenin wrote this passage not in application to Russia. He was speaking of Europe in contrast to Russia. This follows not only from the content of the quoted article devoted to the question of the United States of Europe, but also from Lenin’s entire position at the time. A few months later, November 20, 1915, Lenin wrote specially on Russia, saying:

“The task of the proletariat follows obviously from this actual state of affairs. This task is a bold, heroic, revolutionary struggle against the monarchy (the slogans of the January conference of 1912 – the ’Three Whales’s), a struggle which would attract all democratic masses, that is, first and foremost the peasantry. At the same time, a relentless struggle must be waged against chauvinism, a struggle for the socialist revolution in Europe in alliance with its proletariat. The war crisis has strengthened the economic and political factors impelling the petty bourgeoisie, including the peasantry, towards the Left. Therein lies the objective basis of the absolute possibility of the victory of the democratic revolution in Russia. That the objective conditions for a socialist revolution have fully matured in Western Europe, was recognized before the war by all influential socialists of all advanced countries.” [21]

Thus, in 1915, Lenin clearly spoke of a democratic revolution in Russia and of a socialist revolution in Western Europe. In passing, as if speaking of something which is self-evident, he mentions that in Western Europe, distinct from Russia, in contrast to Russia, the conditions for a socialist revolution have “fully matured.” But the authors of the new theory, the authors of the draft program, simply ignore this quotation – one of many – which squarely and directly refers to Russia, just as they ignore hundreds of other passages, as they ignore all of Lenin’s works. Instead of taking notice of this, they snatch, as we have seen, at another passage that refers to Western Europe, ascribe to it a meaning which it cannot and does not contain, attach this ascribed meaning to Russia, a country to which the passage has no reference, and on this “foundation” erect their new theory.

What was Lenin’s position on this question immediately before the October period? On leaving Switzerland after the February 1917 revolution, Lenin addressed a letter to the Swiss workers in which he declared:

“Russia is a peasant country, one of the most backward countries of Europe. Socialism cannot be immediately triumphant there but the peasant character of the country with the huge tracts of land in the hands of the feudal aristocracy and landowners, can, on the basis of the experience of 1905, give a tremendous sweep to the bourgeois democratic revolution in Russia and make our revolution a prelude to the world socialist revolution, a step towards it ... The Russian proletariat cannot by its own forces victoriously complete the socialist revolution. But it can give the Russian revolution dimensions such as will create the most favorable conditions for it, such as will in a certain sense begin it. It can facilitate matters for the entrance into a decisive battle on the part of its main and most reliable ally, the European and American socialist proletariat.” [22]

All the elements of the question are contained in these few lines. If Lenin believed in 1915, in time of war and reaction, as they try to convince us now, that the proletariat of Russia can build socialism by itself so as to be able to declare war on the bourgeois states, after it will have accomplished this work, how could Lenin, at the beginning of 1917, after the February revolution, speak so categorically about the impossibility for backward peasant Russia to build socialism with its own forces? One must at least be somewhat logical and, to put it baldly, have some respect for Lenin.

It would be superfluous to add more quotations. To give an integral outline of Lenin’s economic and political views conditioned by the international character of the socialist revolution would require a separate work that would cover many subjects, but not the subject of building a self-sufficient socialist society in one country, because Lenin did not know this subject.

However, we feel obliged to dwell here on another article by Lenin – On Cooperation – since the draft program appears to quote this posthumous article extensively, i.e., utilizes some of its expressions for a purpose which is entirely alien to the article. We have in mind the fifth chapter of the draft program which states that the workers of the Soviet Republics “possess all the necessary and sufficient material prerequisites in the country ... for the complete construction of socialism”.

If the article dictated by Lenin during his illness and published after his death really did say that the Soviet state possesses all the necessary and material, that is, first of all, productive prerequisites for an independent construction of complete socialism, one would only have to surmise that either Lenin slipped in his dictation or that the stenographer made a mistake in transcribing her notes. Either conjecture is at any rate more probable than that Lenin abandoned Marxism and his own life-long teaching in two hasty strokes. Fortunately, however, there is not the slightest need for such an explanation. The remarkable, though unfinished article On Cooperation, which is bound up by unity of thought with other, no less remarkable articles of his last period, constituting, as it mere, a chapter of an unfinished book dealing with the place occupied by the October Revolution in the chain of revolutions in the West and East – this article On Cooperation does not at all speak of those things which the revisionists of Leninism so light-mindedly ascribe to it.

In this article Lenin explains that the “trading” cooperatives can and must entirely change their social role in the workers’ state and that by a correct policy they may direct the merger of private peasant interests with the general state interests along socialist channels. Lenin substantiates this irrefutable idea as follows:

“As a matter of fact, the state power over all large-scale means of production, state power in the hands of the proletariat, an alliance of that proletariat with the many millions of peasants with small and petty holdings, security of proletarian leadership in relationship to the peasant – is this not all that is necessary for the cooperatives, the cooperatives alone, which we have formerly treated as mere traders, and which, from a certain viewpoint, we still have the right to treat as such even now under the NEP, is this not all that is necessary for the construction of a complete socialist society? It is not yet the construction of a socialist society but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for this construction.” [23]

The text of the passage which includes an unfinished phrase [“the cooperatives alone”(?)] irrefutably proves that we have before us an uncorrected draft which was dictated and written. It is all the more inadmissible to cling to a few isolated words of the text rather than to try to get a general idea of the article. Fortunately, however, even the letter of the cited passage and not only its spirit grants no one the right to misuse it as it is being misused by the authors of the draft program. Speaking of the “necessary and sufficient” prerequisites, Lenin strictly limits his subject in this article. In it he deals only with the question as to the ways and means by which we will reach socialism through the atomized and diffused peasant enterprises without new class upheavals, having the prerequisites of the Soviet regime as our basis. The article is entirely devoted to the socio-organizational forms of the transition from small private commodity economy to collective economy but not to the material-productive conditions of that: transition. Were the European proletariat to prove victorious today and come to our assistance with its technology, the question of cooperation raised by Lenin as a socio-organizational method of coordinating private and social interests would still fully retain its significance. Cooperation points the way through which advanced technology, including electricity, can reorganize and unite the millions of peasant enterprises, once a Soviet regime exists. But cooperation cannot be substituted for technology and does not create that technology. Lenin does not merely speak of the necessary and sufficient prerequisites in general, but as we have seen, he definitely enumerates them. They are: (1) “Power of the state over all large-scale means of production” (an uncorrected phrase); (2) “State power in the hands of the proletariat”; (3) “An alliance of that proletariat with millions of peasants”; (4) “Security of proletarian leadership in relation to the peasants.” It is only after enumerating these purely political conditions – nothing is said here about material conditions – that Lenin arrives at his conclusion, namely, that “this” (i.e., all the foregoing) “is all that is necessary and sufficient” for the building of a socialist society. “All that is necessary and sufficient” on the political plane, but no more. But, adds Lenin right there and then, “it is not yet the construction of a socialist society.” Why not? Because political conditions alone, although they be sufficient, do not solve the problem. The cultural question still remains. “Only” this, says Lenin, emphasizing the word “only” in order to show the tremendous importance of the prerequisites we lack. Lenin knew as well as we that culture is bound up with technology. “To be cultural” – he brings the revisionists back to earth – “a certain material basis is necessary.” [24] Suffice to mention the problem of electrification which Lenin, incidentally, purposely linked up with the question of the international socialist revolution. The struggle for culture, given the “necessary and sufficient” political (but not material) prerequisites, would absorb all our efforts, were it not for the question of the uninterrupted and irreconcilable economic, political, military, and cultural struggle of the country engaged in the building of a socialist society on a backward basis against world capitalism which is in its decline but is technically powerful.

“I am ready to state [Lenin underscores with particular emphasis towards the end of this article] that the center of gravity for us would be transferred to cultural work were it not for our duty to fight for our position on an international scale.” [25]

Such is Lenin’s real idea if we analyze the article on cooperation, even apart from all his other works. How else, if not as a falsification, can we style the formula of the authors of the draft program who deliberately take Lenin’s words about our possession of the “necessary and sufficient” prerequisites and add to them the basic material prerequisites, although Lenin definitely speaks of the material prerequisites in parentheses, saying that it is just what we do not have and what we must still gain in our struggle “for our position on an international scale,” that is, in connection with the international proletarian revolution? That is how matters stand with the second, and last stronghold of the theory.

We purposely did not deal here with innumerable articles and speeches from 1905 to 1923 in which Lenin asserts and repeats most categorically that without a victorious world revolution we are doomed to failure, that it is impossible to defeat the bourgeoisie economically in one country, particularly a backward country, that the task of building a socialist society is in its very essence an international task – from which Lenin drew conclusions which may be “pessimistic” to the promulgators of the new national reactionary utopia but which are sufficiently optimistic from the viewpoint of revolutionary internationalism. We concentrate our argument here only on the passages which the authors of the draft have themselves chosen in order to create the “necessary and sufficient” prerequisites for their utopia. And we see that their whole structure crumbles the moment it is touched.

However, we consider it in place to present at least one of Lenin’s direct statements on the controversial question which does not need any comment and will not permit any false interpretation.

“We have emphasized in many of our works; in all our speeches, and in our entire press that the situation in Russia is not the same as in the advanced capitalist countries, that we have in Russia a minority of industrial workers and an overwhelming majority of small agrarians. The social revolution in such a country can be finally successful only on two conditions: first, on the condition that it is given timely support by the social revolution in one or more advanced countries ... second, that there be an agreement between the proletariat which establishes the dictatorship or holds state power in its hands and the majority of the peasant population ...

“We know that only an agreement with the peasantry can save the socialist revolution in Russia so long as the revolution in other countries has not arrived.” [26]

We hope that this passage is sufficiently instructive. First, Lenin himself emphasizes in it that the ideas advanced by him have been developed “in many of our works, in all our speeches, and in our entire press”; secondly, this perspective was envisaged by Lenin not in 1915, two years prior to the October Revolution, but in 1921, the fourth year after the October Revolution.

So far as Lenin is concerned, we venture to think that the question is clear enough. There remains to inquire: what was formerly the opinion of the authors of the draft program on the basic question now before us?

On this point, Stalin said in November 1926: “The party always took as its starting point the idea that the victory of socialism in one country means the possibility to build socialism in that country, and that this task can be accomplished with the forces of a single country.” [27]

We already know that the party never took this as its starting point. On the contrary, “in many of our works, in all our speeches, and in our entire press,” as Lenin said, the party proceeded from the opposite position, which found its highest expression in the program of the CPSU. But one would imagine that at least Stalin himself “always” proceeded from this false view that “ socialism can be built with the forces of one country.” Let us check up.

What Stalin’s views on this question were in 1905 or 1915 we have absolutely no means of knowing as there are no documents whatever on the subject. But in 1924, Stalin outlined Lenin’s views on the building of socialism, as follows:

“The overthrow of the power of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of a proletarian government in one country does not yet guarantee the complete victory of socialism. The main task of socialism – the organization of socialist production – still remains ahead. Can this task be accomplished, can the final victory of socialism in one country be attained, without the joint efforts of the proletariat of several advanced countries? No, this is impossible. To overthrow the bourgeoisie, the efforts of one country are sufficient – the history of our revolution bears this out. For the final victory of socialism, for the organization of socialist production, the efforts of one country, particularly of such a peasant country as Russia are insufficient. For this the efforts of the proletarians of several advanced countries are necessary ...

“Such, on the whole, are the characteristic features of the Leninist theory of the proletarian revolution.[28]

One must concede that the “characteristic features of the Leninist theory” are outlined here quite correctly. In the later editions of Stalin’s book this passage was altered to read in just the opposite way and the “characteristic features of the Leninist theory” were proclaimed within a year as ... Trotskyism. The Seventh Plenum of the ECCI passed its decision, not on the basis of the 1924 edition but of the 1926 edition.

That is how the matter stands with Stalin. Nothing could be any sadder. To be sure, we might reconcile ourselves with this if matters were not just as sad with regard to the Seventh Plenum of the ECCI.

There is one hope left and that is that at least Bukharin, the real author of the draft program, “always proceeded” from the possibility of the realization of socialism in one country. Let us check up.

Here is what Bukharin wrote on the subject in 1917:

“Revolutions are the locomotives of history. Even in backward Russia, the irreplaceable engineer of that locomotive can be only the proletariat. But the proletariat can no longer remain within the framework of the property relations of bourgeois society. It marches to power and towards socialism. However, this task which is being ‘put on the order of the day’ in Russia cannot be accomplished ‘within national boundaries.’ Here the working class meets with an insurmountable wall [Observe: “an insurmountable wall.” – L.T.] which can be broken through only by the battering ram of the International Workers’ Revolution.” [29]

He could not have expressed himself more clearly. Such were the views held by Bukharin in 1917, two years after Lenin’s alleged “ change” in 1915. But perhaps the October Revolution taught Bukharin differently? Again, let us check.

In 1919, Bukharin wrote on the subject of the Proletarian Dictatorship in Russia and the World Revolution in the theoretical organ of the Communist International, saying:

“Under existing world economy and the connection between its parts, with the mutual interdependence of the various national bourgeois groups, it is self-evident that the struggle in one country cannot end without a decisive victory of one or the other side in several civilized countries.”

At that time this was even “self-evident.” He goes on.

“In the Marxian and quasi-Marxian pre-war literature, the question was many times raised as to whether the victory of socialism is possible in one country. Most of the writers replied to this question in the negative [and what about Lenin in 1915? – L.T.] from which one does not at all conclude that it is impossible or impermissible to start the revolution and to seize the power in one country.”

Exactly! In the same article we read:

“The period of a rise in the productive forces can begin only with the victory of the proletariat in several major countries. Hence it follows that an all-round development of the world revolution and the formation of a strong economic alliance of the industrial countries with Soviet Russia is necessary.” [30]

Bukharin’s assertion that a rise in the productive forces, that is, real socialist development, will begin in our country only after the victory of the proletariat in the advanced countries of Europe is indeed the very same statement that was used as a basis of all acts of indictment against “Trotskyism,” including the indictment at the Seventh Plenum of the ECCI The only thing peculiar is that Bukharin, who owes his salvation to his short memory, stepped forward in the role of accuser. Side by side with this comical circumstance, there is another and a tragic one, namely, that among those indicted was also Lenin, who expressed dozens of times the very same elementary idea.

Finally, in 1921, six years after Lenin’s alleged change of 1915, and four years after the October Revolution, the Central Committee headed by Lenin approved the program of the Young Communist League, which was drawn up by a commission directed by Bukharin. Paragraph 4 of this program reads:

“In the USSR state power is already in the hands of the working class. In the course of three years of heroic struggle against world capitalism, the proletariat has maintained and strengthened its Soviet government. Russia, although it possesses enormous natural resources, is, nevertheless, from an industrial point of view, a backward country, in which a petty bourgeois population predominates. It can arrive at socialism only through the world proletarian revolution, which epoch of development we have now entered.”

This single paragraph from the program of the Young Communist League (not a chance article but a program!) renders ridiculous and really infamous the attempts of the authors of the draft to prove that the party “always” held the construction of a socialist society to be possible in one country and, moreover, precisely in Russia. If this was “ always” so, then why did Bukharin formulate such a paragraph in the program of the Young Communist League? Where was Stalin looking at the time? How could Lenin and the whole Central Committee have approved such a heresy? How was it that no one in the party noticed this “ trifle” or raised a voice against it? Doesn’t this look like a sinister joke which is turning into a downright mockery of the party, its history, and the Comintern? Is it not high time to put a stop to this? Is it not high time to tell the revisionists: don’t you dare hide behind Lenin and the theoretical tradition of the party!?

At the Seventh Plenum of the ECCI, in order to provide the basis for the resolution condemning “Trotskyism,” Bukharin, whose safety lies in the shortness of his memory, made the following assertion:

“In comrade Trotsky’s theory of the permanent revolution – and comrade Trotsky propounds this theory even today – there is also to be found an assertion that because of our economic backwardness we must inevitably perish without the world revolution.” [31]

At the Seventh Plenum I spoke about the gaps in the theory of the permanent revolution as I had formulated it in 1905-1906. But naturally it never even entered my mind to renounce anything in this theory which was fundamental, which tended to and which did bring me close to Lenin, and which made utterly inacceptable to me the present-day revision of Leninism.

There were two fundamental propositions in the theory of the permanent revolution. First, that despite the historical backwardness of Russia, the revolution can transfer the power into the hands of the Russian proletariat before the proletariat of advanced countries is able to attain it. Secondly, that the way out of those contradictions which will befall the proletarian dictatorship in a backward country, surrounded by a world of capitalist enemies, will be found on the arena of world revolution. The first proposition is based upon a correct understanding of the law of uneven development. The second depends upon a correct understanding of the indissolubility of the economic and political ties between capitalist countries. Bukharin is correct in saying that even today I still hold to these two basic propositions of the theory of the permanent revolution. Today, more than ever before. For, in my opinion, they have been completely verified and proven: in theory, by the works of Marx and Lenin; in practice, by the experience of the October Revolution.

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6. Where is the “ Social Democratic Deviation”?

The quotations adduced are more than sufficient to characterize Stalin’s and Bukharin’s theoretical positions of yesterday and today. But in order to determine the character of their political methods one must recall that, having selected from the documents written by the Opposition those statements which are absolutely analogous with those which they themselves made up to 1925 (in this case in full agreement with Lenin), Stalin and Bukharin erected on the basis of these quotations the theory of our “social democratic deviation.” It appears that in the central question of the relations between the October Revolution and international revolution, the Opposition holds the same views as Otto Bauer, who does not admit the possibility of socialist construction in Russia. One might really think that the printing press was invented only in 1929 and that everything that occurred prior to this date is doomed to oblivion. The stakes are all put on short memory!

Yet, on the question of the nature of the October Revolution, the Comintern settled its accounts with Otto Bauer and other philistines of the Second International at the Fourth Congress. In my report on the New Economic Policys and the prospects of world revolution, authorized by the Central Committee, Otto Bauer’s position was appraised in a manner which expressed the views of our then Central Committee; it did not meet with any objections at the Congress and I think it fully holds good today. So far as Bukharin himself is concerned, he declined to clarify the political side of the problem since “many comrades, including Lenin and Trotsky, have already spoken on the subject”; in other words, Bukharin at that time agreed with my speech. Here is what I said at the Fourth Congress about Otto Bauer:

“The social democratic theoreticians, who, on the one hand recognize in their holiday articles that capitalism, particularly in Europe, has outlived its usefulness and has become a brake on historical development, and who on the other hand express the conviction that the evolution of Soviet Russia inevitably leads to the triumph of bourgeois democracy, fall into the most pitiful and banal contradiction of which these stupid and conceited confusionists are entirely worthy. The New Economic Policy is calculated for certain definite conditions of time and space. It is a maneuver of the workers’ state which exists in capitalist surroundings and definitely calculates on the revolutionary development of Europe ... Such a factor as time cannot be left out of consideration in political calculations. If we allow that capitalism will really be able to continue existing in Europe for another century or half a century and that Soviet Russia will have to adapt itself to it in its economic policy, then the question solves itself automatically because, by allowing this, we presuppose the collapse of the proletarian revolution in Europe and the rise of a new epoch of capitalist revival. On what grounds is this to be allowed? If Otto Bauer has discovered in the life of present-day Austria any miraculous signs of capitalist resurrection, then all that can be said is that the fate of Russia is predetermined. But thus far we do not see any miracles, nor do we believe in them. From our viewpoint, if the European bourgeoisie is able to maintain itself in power in the course of several decades, it will under the present world conditions signify not a new capitalist bloom, but economic stagnation and the cultural decline of Europe. Generally speaking it cannot be denied that such a process might draw Soviet Russia into the abyss. Whether she would have then to go through a stage of ’democracy,’ or decay in some other forms, is a question of secondary importance. But we see no reason whatever for adopting Spengler’s philosophy. We definitely count upon a revolutionary development in Europe. The New Economic Policy is merely an adaptation to the rate of that development.[32]

This formulation of the question brings us back to the point from which we started the evaluation of the draft program, namely, that in the epoch of imperialism it is impossible to approach the fate of one country in any other way but by taking as a starting point the tendencies of world development as a whole in which the individual country, with all its national peculiarities, is included and to which it is subordinated. The theoreticians of the Second International exclude the USSR from the world unit and from the imperialist epoch; they apply to the USSR, as an isolated country, the bald criterion of economic “maturity”; they declare that the USSR is not ripe for independent socialist’ construction and thence draw the conclusion of the inevitability of a capitalist degeneration of the workers’ state.

The authors of the draft program adopt the same theoretical ground and take over bag and baggage the metaphysical methodology of the social democratic theoreticians. They too “ abstract” from the world entity and from the imperialist epoch. They proceed from the fiction of isolated development. They apply to the national phase of the world revolution a bald economic criterion. But the “verdict” they bring in is different. The “ leftism” of the authors of the draft lies in the fact that they turn the social democratic evaluations inside out. Yet, the position of the theoreticians of the Second International, remodel it as you may, remains worthless. One must take Lenin’s position which simply eliminates Bauer’s evaluation and Bauer’s prognosis as kindergarten exercises.

That is how matters stand with the “social democratic deviation.” Not we but the authors of the draft should consider themselves related to Bauer.

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7. The Dependence of the USSR on World Economy

The precursor of the present prophets of the national socialist society was no other than Herr Vollmar. Describing in his article entitled The Isolated Socialist State the prospect of independent socialist construction in Germany, the proletariat of which country was much further developed than that of advanced Britain, Vollmar, in 1878, refers definitely and quite clearly in several places to the law of uneven development with which, according to Stalin, Marx and Engels were unacquainted. On the basis of that law Vollmar arrived in 1878 at the irrefutable conclusion that:

“Under the prevailing conditions, which will retain their force also in the future, it can be foreseen that a simultaneous victory of socialism in all cultural countries is absolutely out of the question.”

Developing this idea still further, Vollmar says: “Thus we have come to the isolated socialist state which I hope I have proven to be the most probable, although not the only possible way.”

In so far as by the term “isolated state” we may here understand a state under a proletarian dictatorship, Vollmar expressed an irrefutable idea which was well known to Marx and Engels, and which Lenin expressed in the above quoted article of 1915.

But then follows something which is purely Vollmar’s own idea, which, by the way, is by a long; shot not so one-sided and wrongly formulated as the formulation of our sponsors of the theory of socialism in one country. In his construction, Vollmar took as a starting point the proposition that socialist Germany will have lively economic relations with world capitalist economy, having at the same time the advantage of possessing a much more highly developed technology and a much lower cost of production. This construction is based on the perspective of a peaceful coexistence of the socialist and capitalist systems. But inasmuch as socialism must, as it progresses, constantly reveal its colossal productive superiority, the necessity for a world revolution will fall away by itself: socialism will triumph over capitalism by selling goods more cheaply on the market.

Bukharin, the author of the first draft program and one of the authors of the second draft, proceeds in his construction of socialism in one country entirely from the idea of an isolated self-sufficing economy. In Bukharin’s article entitled On the Nature of our Revolution and the Possibility of Successful Socialist Construction in the USSR [33], which is the last word in scholasticism multiplied by sophistry, all the reasoning is done within the limits of isolated economy. The principal and only argument is the following:

“Since we have ‘all that is necessary and sufficient’ for the building of socialism, therefore, in the very process of building socialism there can be no such point at which its further construction would become impossible. If we have within our country such a combination of forces that, in relation to each past year, we are marching ahead with a greater preponderance of the socialist sector of our economy and the socialized sectors of our economy grow faster than the private capitalist sectors, then we are entering every subsequent new year with a preponderance of forces.”

This reasoning is irreproachable: “Since we have all that is necessary and sufficient,” therefore we have it. Starting out from a point which must be proved, Bukharin builds up a complete system of a self-sufficing socialist economy without any entrances to it or exits from it, As to the external milieu, that is, the whole world, Bukharin, as well as Stalin, reminds himself of it only from the angle of intervention. When Bukharin speaks in his article about the necessity of “abstracting” from the international factor, he has in mind not the world market but military intervention. Bukharin does not have to abstract from the world market because he simply forgets about it throughout his construction. In harmony with this schema Bukharin championed the idea at the Fourteenth Congress of the Russian party that if we are not hindered by intervention we will build socialism “even if at the speed of a tortoise.” The question of the uninterrupted struggle between the two systems, the fact that socialism can be based only on the highest productive forces; in a word, the Marxian dynamics of the displacement of one social formation by another on the basis of the growing productive forces – all this has been completely blotted out. Revolutionary and historical dialectic has been displaced by a skinflint reactionary utopia of self-sufficient socialism, built on a low technology, developing with the “speed of a tortoise” within national boundaries, connected with the external world only by its fear of intervention. The refusal to accept this miserable caricature of Marx’s and Lenin’s doctrine has been declared a “social democratic deviation.” In the quoted article by Bukharin, this characterization of our views was, for the first time, generally advanced and “substantiated.” History will take note that we fell into a “social democratic deviation” because we refused to accept an inferior rehash of Vollmar’s theory of socialism in one country.

The proletariat of Czarist Russia could not have taken power in October if Russia had not been a link – the weakest link, but a link, nevertheless – in the chain of world economy. The seizure of power by the proletariat has not at all excluded the Soviet republic from the system of the international division of labor created by capitalism.

Like the wise owl which comes flying only in the dusk, the theory of socialism in one country pops up at the moment when our industry, which exhausts ever greater proportions of the old fixed capital, in two-thirds of which there is crystallized the dependence of our industry on world industry, has given indication of its urgent need to renew and extend its ties with the world market, and at a moment when the problems of foreign trade have arisen in their full scope before our economic directors.

At the Eleventh Congress, that is, at the last Congress at which Lenin had the opportunity to speak to the party, he issued a timely warning that the party would have to undergo another test: “... a test to which we shall be put by the Russian and international market to which we are subordinated, with which we are connected and from which we cannot escape.

Nothing deals the theory of an isolated “complete socialism” such a death-blow as the simple fact that our foreign trade figures have in most recent years become the keystone of the figures of our economic plans. The “tightest spot” in our economy, including our industry, is our import trade which depends entirely on our export. And inasmuch as the power of resistance of a chain is always measured by its weakest link, the dimensions of our economic plans are made to conform to the dimensions of our imports.

In the journal Planned Economy (the theoretical organ of the State Planning Commission) we read an article devoted to the system of planning, that “... in drawing up our control figures for the current year we had to take methodologically our export and import plans as a starting point for the entire plan; we had to orient ourselves on that in our plans for the various branches of industry and consequently for industry in general and particularly for the construction of new industrial enterprises,” etc., etc. [34]

This methodological approach of the State Planning Commission states flatly, for all who have ears to hear, that the control figures determine the direction and tempo of our economic development, but that these control figures are already controlled by world economy; not because having become stronger we have broken free from the vicious circle of isolation.

The capitalist world shows us by its export and import figures that it has other instruments of persuasion than those of military intervention. To the extent that productivity of labor and the productivity of a social system as a whole are measured on the market by the correlation of prices, it is not so much military intervention as the intervention of cheaper capitalist commodities that constitutes perhaps the greatest immediate menace to Soviet economy. This alone shows that it is by no means merely a question of an isolated economic victory over “one’s own” bourgeoisie: “The socialist revolution which is impending for the whole world will by no means consist merely in a victory of the proletariat of each country over its own bourgeoisie.” [35] Involved here is a rivalry and a life-and-death struggle between two social systems, one of which has only just begun building on backward productive forces, while the other still rests today on productive forces of immeasurably greater strength.

Anyone who sees “pessimism” in an admission of our dependence on the world market (Lenin spoke bluntly of our subordination to the world market) reveals thereby his own provincial petty bourgeois timorousness in the face of the world market, and the pitiful character of his homebred optimism which hopes to hide from world economy behind a bush and to manage somehow with its own resources.

The new theory has made a point of honor of the freakish idea that the USSR can perish from military intervention but never from its own economic backwardness. But inasmuch as in a socialist society the readiness of the toiling masses to defend their country must be much greater than the readiness of the slaves of capitalism to attack that country, the question arises: why should military intervention threaten us with disaster? Because the enemy is infinitely stronger in his technology. Bukharin concedes the preponderance of the productive forces only in their military technical aspect. He does not want to understand that a Ford tractor is just as dangerous as a Creusot gun, with the sole difference that while the gun can function only from time to time, the tractor brings its pressure to bear upon us constantly. Besides, the tractor knows that a gun stands behind it, as a last resort.

We are the first workers’ state, a section of the world proletariat, and together with the latter we depend upon world capital. The indifferent, neutral, and bureaucratically castrated word, “connections,” is put into circulation only with the object of concealing the extremely onerous and dangerous nature of these ’connections.” If we were producing at the prices of the world market, our dependence on the latter, without ceasing to be a dependence, would be of a much less severe character than it is now. But unfortunately this is not the case. Our monopoly of foreign trade itself is evidence of the severity and the dangerous character of our dependence. The decisive importance of the monopoly in our socialist construction is a result precisely of the existing correlation of forces which is unfavorable to us. But we must not forget for a moment that the monopoly of foreign trade only regulates our dependence upon the world market, but does not eliminate it.

“So long as our Soviet Republic [says Lenin] remains an isolated borderland surrounded by the entire capitalist world, so long will it be an absolutely ridiculous fantasy and utopianism to think of our complete economic independence and of the disappearance of any of our dangers.” [36]

The chief dangers arise consequently from the objective position of the USSR as the “isolated borderland” in a capitalist economy which is hostile to us. These dangers may, however, diminish or increase. This depends on the action of two factors: our socialist construction on the one hand, and the development of capitalist economy on the other hand. In the last analysis, the second factor, that is, the fate of world economy as a whole, is, of course, of decisive significance.

Can it happen – and in what particular case – that the productivity of our socialist system will constantly lag behind that of the capitalist system – which would unfailingly lead in the end to the downfall of the socialist republic? If we ably manage our economy in this new phase when it becomes necessary to create independently an industrial basis with its incomparably higher demands upon the leadership, then our productivity of labor will grow. Is it, however, inconceivable that the productivity of labor in the capitalist countries, or more correctly, in the predominant capitalist countries, will grow faster than in our country? Without a clear answer to this question, there is no basis whatever for the vapid assertions that our tempo “ is in itself” sufficient (let alone the absurd philosophy of the “speed of a tortoise”). But the very attempt to provide an answer to the question of the rivalry of two systems leads us to the arena of world economy and world politics, that is, to the arena of action and decision of the revolutionary International which includes the Soviet republic, but not by any means a self-sufficing Soviet republic which from time to time secures the support of the International.

Speaking of the state economy of the USSR the draft program says that it “is developing large scale industry at a tempo surpassing the tempo of development in capitalist countries.” This attempt to juxtapose the two tempos represents, we must allow, a principled step forward in comparison to that period when the authors of the program categorically rejected the very question of the comparative coefficient between our development and world development. There is no need of “intruding the international factor,” said Stalin. Let us build socialism “even if at the speed of a tortoise,” said Bukharin. It was precisely along this line that the principled controversies occurred over a period of several years. Formally – we have won along this line. But if we do not merely insert into the text comparisons between the tempos of economic development, but penetrate to the root of the matter, it will become apparent that it is impermissible to speak in another section of the draft about “a sufficient minimum of industry,” without any relation to the capitalist world, taking as a starting point only the internal relations; and that it is equally impermissible not only to pass a decision on but even to pose the question of whether it is “possible or impossible” for any given country to build socialism independently. The question is decided by the dynamics of the struggle between the two systems, between the two world classes; and in this struggle, regardless of the high coefficients of growth of our restoration period, one incontestable and basic fact remains, namely, that:

“Capitalism, if taken on an international scale, is even now, not only in a military but also in an economic sense, stronger than the Soviet power. We must proceed front this fundamental consideration and never forget it.[37]

The question of the interrelation between the different tempos of development remains an open question for the future. It depends not only upon our capacity to really achieve the “smychka,” to assure the grain collections, and to increase our export and import; in other words, not only upon our internal successes which, of course, are extremely important factors in this struggle but also upon the fate of world capitalism, upon its stagnation, upsurge, or collapse, that is to say, upon the course of world economy and world revolution. Consequently, the question is decided not within the national framework but on the arena of world economic and political struggle.

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15. Minutes, Seventh Plenum of the ECCI, p.14.

16. Works:, Vol.XIII, p.133. Aug. 23, 1915.

17. Works, Vol.XV, p.64.

18. Works, Vol.XV, part 2, p.263.

19. Ibid., p.280.

20. Works, Vol.XVI, p.398.

21. Works, Vol.XIII, pp.212f.

22. Works, Vol.XI, part 2, pp.407f.

23. Works, Vol.XVIII, part 2, p.140.

24. Ibid., p. 185.

25. Ibid., p.144.

26. Works, Vol.XVIII, part 1, pp.137f.)

27. Pravda, Nov. 12, 1926.)

28. Stalin, Lenin and Leninist, pp.40f., Russian ed., 1928.)

29. Bukharin, The Class Struggle and Revolution in Russia, pp.3f., Russian ed., 1917.)

30. N. Bukharin, The Proletarian Dictatorship in Russia and the World Revolution, Communist International, No.5, p.614, 1919.)

31. Minutes, p.115.)

32. L. Trotsky, On Social Democratic Criticisms, Five Years of the Comintern, p.491.

33. Bolshevik, No.19-20, 1926.

34. Jan. 1927, p.27.

35. Lenin, Works, Vol.XVI, p.388, 1919.

36. Works, Vol.XVII, p.409.

37. Lenin, Works, Vol.XVII, p.102.

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