Leon Trotsky

The Third International
After Lenin

II. Strategy and Tactics in the Imperialist Epoch

(Part 4)

11. The Question of the Internal Party Regime

12. The Causes of the Defeat of the Opposition and its Perspectives

11. The Question of the Internal Party Regime

The organizational questions of Bolshevism are inseparably bound up with questions of program and tactics. The draft program touches this subject only in passing by referring to the necessity of “maintaining the strictest revolutionary order of democratic centralism.” This is the sole formula defining the internal party regime, and, besides, it is quite a new formula. We were aware that the party regime rests upon the principles of democratic centralism. This presupposed in theory (and was also carried out in practice) that the regime of democratic centralism implied a full opportunity for the party to discuss, criticize, express dissatisfaction, elect, and depose, just as it involved an iron discipline in action under the fully empowered leadership of the elective and removable directing organs. If, by democracy was understood the sovereignty of the party over all its organs, then centralism meant a correctly established, conscious discipline that guaranteed the fighting ability of the party. Now, however, to this formula of the internal party regime which has stood the tests in the whole past, an entirely new criterion has been added, that of “the strictest revolutionary order.” It appears that mere democratic centralism no longer suffices for the party but that it now requires a certain revolutionary order of democratic centralism. This formula simply puts the new self-sufficing idea of “revolutionary order” above democratic centralism, i.e., above the party.

What is the meaning of this idea of revolutionary order’and a “strictest” order at that’which stands above the ideas of democracy and centralism? It implies a party apparatus completely independent of the party or aspires to such an independence’a self-sufficing bureaucracy which is supposed to preserve “order” independently of the party masses and able to suspend or violate the will of the party, trample its statutes under foot, postpone party conventions or turn them into mere fictions whenever “order” requires it.

The apparatus has aimed for a long time and by devious routes for such a formula as a “revolutionary order” raised above democracy and centralism. During the last two years we have had offered us a whole series of definitions of party democracy by the most responsible representatives of the party leadership which in essence reduced it to mean that democracy and centralism are simply submission to higher organs. Everything done in practice went far in this direction. But centralism accompanied by strangled and hollow democracy is bureaucratic centralism. Of course, such an “order” must, of necessity, be camouflaged by the forms and rites of democracy; it must be whipped by means of circular letters emanating from above, and commanded to “self-criticize” under the threat of Article 58; and it must continually prove that violations of democracy proceed not from the leading center but from the so-called “executants,” but there is no proceeding against the latter because every “executant?” turns out to be a leader of all his inferiors.

Thus, the new formula is theoretically completely absurd. It demonstrates by its newness and absurdity that it was engendered only in order to satisfy certain matured wants. It sanctifies the bureaucratic apparatus that created it.

This question is indissolubly bound up with the question of factions and groupings. In every controversial question and every difference of opinion, the leadership and the official press, not only of the CPSU but also of the Comintern and all its sections, has immediately shifted the debate over to the question of factions and groupings. Without temporary ideological groupings, the ideological life of the party is unthinkable. Nobody has yet discovered any other procedure. And those who have sought to discover it have only shown that their remedy was tantamount to strangling the ideological life of the party.

Naturally, groupings as well as differences of opinion are an “evil.” But this evil constitutes as necessary an integral part of the dialectic of party development as do toxins in the life of the human organism.

The transformation of groupings into organized and, moreover, closed factions is a much greater evil. The art of party leadership consists precisely in preventing such a development. It is impossible to achieve this by a mere prohibition. The experience of the CPSU testifies best to it.

At the Tenth Party Congress, under the reverberations of the Kronstadt uprising and the kulak mutinies, Lenin had a resolution adopted prohibiting factions and groupings. By groupings were understood not temporary tendencies that inevitably arise in the process of party life, but those self-same factions that passed themselves off as groupings. The party masses understood clearly the mortal danger of the moment and supported their leader by adopting the resolution, harsh and inflexible in its form: the prohibition of factions and factionalism. But the party also knew very well that this formula would be interpreted by the Central Committee under the leadership of Lenin; that there would be neither rode nor disloyal interpretation, and still less, any abuse of power (see the “Testament” of Lenin). The party knew that, exactly one year later, or, should one-third of the party request it, even a month later, it could examine the experiences at a new party congress and introduce any necessary qualifications. The decision of the Tenth Party Congress was a very severe measure, evoked by the critical position of the ruling party at the most dangerous turn from War Communism to the NEP. This severe measure proved to be fully justified for it only supplemented a correct and farsighted policy and cut the ground from under the groupings that had arisen prior to the transition to the New Economic Policy.

But the decision of the Tenth Party Congress on factions and groupings, which even then required judicious interpretation and application, is in no case an absolute principle that stands above all other requirements of the party development, independent of the country, the situation, and the time.

In so far as the party leadership after the departure of Lenin, in order to protect itself from all criticism, based itself formally upon the decisions of the Tenth Party Congress on factions and groupings, it did so in order to stifle party democracy ever more and at the same time was less able to accomplish its real purpose, i.e., the elimination of factionalism. For the task does not consist of prohibiting factions but of doing away with them. Meanwhile, never have factions so devastated the party and disintegrated its unity as has been the case since Lenin’s departure from leadership. At the same time, never before has there prevailed in the party such a hundred percent monolithism, utterly fraudulent and serving only to cover up the methods of strangling the party life.

An apparatus faction kept secret from the party arose in the CPSU even before the Twelfth Party Congress. Later it assumed the character of a conspirative organization with its own illegal Central Committee (“the Septumvirate”), with its own circular letters, agents, codes, and so forth. The party apparatus handpicks from its ranks a closed order which is uncontrolled and which disposes of the extraordinary resources not only of the party but also of the state apparatus and transforms the party masses into a mere cover and an auxiliary instrument for its combinatory maneuvers.

But the more boldly this closed intra-apparatus faction detaches itself from the control of the party masses – ever more diluted by all sorts of “drives” – the deeper and more sharply does the process of faction division proceed, not only below but also within the apparatus itself. Under the complete and unlimited domination of the apparatus over the party, already accomplished at the time of the Thirteenth Party Congress, the differences arising within the apparatus itself find no way out, for to appeal to the party for a real decision would mean to subject the apparatus to it again. Only that apparatus grouping which is assured of a majority in advance is inclined to decide a disputed question by resorting to the methods of apparatus democracy, that is, to balloting the members of the secret faction. The result is that inside the ruling apparatus faction, antagonistic factions arise that do not strive so much to capture the majority within the common faction as to seek for support in the institutions of the state apparatus. As regards the majority at the party congress, the latter is automatically assured, for the Congress can be convoked whenever it is most convenient and prepared to suit. That is how the usurpation of the apparatus develops which constitutes the most terrible danger both to the party and to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

After the first “anti-Trotskyist” campaign in 1923-24 was carried through with the aid of this apparatus faction, a deep schism took place within the underground faction headed by the Septumvirate. The fundamental reason for this was the class dissatisfaction of the Leningrad proletarian vanguard with the incipient down-sliding in questions of internal as well as international policy. The advanced Leningrad workers continued in 1925 the work begun by the advanced workers of Moscow in 1923. But these deep class tendencies could not manifest themselves openly in the party. They were reflected in the muffled struggle within the apparatus faction.

In April 1925, the Central Committee sent out a circular letter to the whole party which denied the rumors allegedly spread by the “Trotskyists” (!!) that differences of opinion on the peasantry existed within the nucleus of the “Leninists,” that is, within the factional Septumvirate. It was only from this circular letter that broader party cadres learned that such differences of opinion actually existed; but this did not at all prevent the leading cadre from continuing to deceive the party membership with the assertion that the “Opposition” was allegedly disrupting the monolithism of the “Leninist Guard.” This propaganda was pounding away at full speed when the Fourteenth Party Congress precipitated upon the party the amorphous and confused differences between the two sections of the reigning faction, differences that were, nevertheless, profound in their class sources. At the very last moment before the Party Congress, the Moscow and the Leningrad organizations, that is, the two main fortresses of the party, adopted resolutions at their district conferences of a directly opposite character. It is self-understood that both were adopted unanimously. Moscow explained this miracle of “revolutionary order” by charging use of force by the apparatus in Leningrad, and Leningrad reciprocated by accusing Moscow. As though there existed some sort of impenetrable wall between the Moscow and Leningrad organizations! In both cases the party apparatus always decided, demonstrating with its hundred percent monolithism that in all the fundamental questions of party life there is no party.

The Fourteenth Party Congress found itself compelled to settle new differences of opinion on various basic questions and to determine a new composition of the leadership behind the back of the unconsulted party. The Congress was left no alternative other than to leave this decision immediately to a scrupulously handpicked hierarchy of party secretaries. The Fourteenth Party Congress was a new milestone on the road to the liquidation of party democracy by the methods of “order,” that is, the arbitrary power of the masked apparatus faction. The next stage of the struggle took place only a little while ago. The art of the reigning faction consisted of always confronting the party with an already adopted decision, an irreparable situation, an accomplished fact.

This new and higher stage of “revolutionary order,” however, did not by any means signify the liquidation of factions and groups. On the contrary, they attained an extreme development and sharpness within the party masses as well as within the party apparatus. So far as the party was concerned, the bureaucratic chastisement of the “groupings” became ever sharper and here demonstrated its impotence, descending to the infamy of the Wrangel officer and Article 58. At the same time, a process of a new split within the reigning faction itself took place and this process is even now developing further. Certainly, even now there is no lack of mendacious demonstrations of monolithism and of circular letters vouching for the complete unanimity of the tops. As a matter of fact, all indications are that the muffled struggle within the closed apparatus faction, violent because of its impassability, has assumed an extremely tense character and is driving the party to some new explosion.

Such is the theory and practice of “revolutionary order” which is being inevitably transformed into the theory and practice of usurpation.

These things, however, have not been confined to the Soviet Union. In 1923, the campaign against factionalism proceeded mainly from the argument that factions represent the embryos of new parties; and that in a country with an overwhelming peasant majority and surrounded by capitalism, the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot allow freedom of parties. In itself, this postulate is absolutely correct. But it also requires a correct policy and a correct regime. It is clear, however, that such a formulation of the question signified the discarding of any extension to the communist parties in the bourgeois states of the resolution adopted at the Tenth Congress of the ruling CPSU But a bureaucratic regime has a devouring logic of its own. If it tolerates no democratic control within the Soviet party, then it tolerates it all the less within the Comintern which stands formally above the CPSU That is why the leadership made a universal principle out of its rude and disloyal interpretation and application of the resolution of the Tenth Party Congress – which met the specific requirements at the time in the USSR – and extended it over all the communist organizations on the terrestrial globe.

Bolshevism was always strong because of its historical concreteness in elaborating organizational forms. No arid schemes. The Bolsheviks changed their organizational structure radically at every transition from one stage to the next. Yet, today, one and the same principle of “revolutionary order” is applied to the powerful party of the proletarian dictatorship as well as to the German Communist Party which represents a serious political force, to the young Chinese party which was immediately drawn into the vortex of revolutionary struggles, and to the party of the USA which is only a small propaganda society. In the latter, no sooner did doubts arise as to the correctness of the methods foisted upon it by a Pepper, in command at the time, than the “doubters” were subjected to chastisement for factionalism. A young party representing a political organism in a completely embryonic stage, without any real contact with the masses, without the experience of a revolutionary leadership, and without theoretical schooling, has already been armed from head to foot with all the attributes of a “revolutionary order,” fitted with which it resembles a six-year-old boy wearing his father’s accoutrement.

The CPSU has the greatest wealth of experience in the domain of ideology and revolution. But as the last five years showed, even the CPSU has been unable to live with impunity for a single day on the interest of its capital alone, but is obliged to renew and expand it constantly, and this is possible only through a collective working of the party mind. And what, then, need be said of the communist parties in other countries which were formed a few years ago and are just passing through the initial stage of accumulating theoretical knowledge and practical ability? Without a real freedom of party life, freedom of discussion, and freedom of establishing their course collectively, and by means of groupings, these parties will never become a decisive revolutionary force.

Prior to the Tenth Party Congress which prohibited the formation of factions, the CPSU had existed two decades without such a prohibition. And precisely these two decades so trained and prepared it that it was able to accept and endure the harsh decisions of the Tenth Party Congress at the time of a most difficult turn. The communist parties of the West, however, proceed from this point at the very outset.

Together with Lenin, we feared most of all that the CPSU, armed with the mighty resources of the state, would exert an excessive and crushing influence upon the young parties of the West that were just being organized. Lenin warned tirelessly against premature strides along the road of centralism, against the excessive tendencies of the ECCI and the Presidium in this direction and, especially, against such forms and methods of assistance as transform themselves into direct commands from which there is no appeal.

The change began in 1924 under the name of “Bolshevization.” If by Bolshevization is understood the purging of the party of alien elements and habits, of social democratic functionaries clinging to their posts, of freemasons, pacifist-democrats, idealistic muddleheads, etc., then this work was being performed from the very first day of the Comintern’s existence; at the Fourth Congress, this work with regard to the French party even assumed extremely sharp combat forms. But previously this genuine Bolshevization was inseparably connected with the individual experiences of the national sections of the Comintern, grew out of these experiences, and had as its touchstone questions of national policy which grew to the point of becoming international tasks. The “Bolshevization” of 1924 assumed completely the character of a caricature. A revolver was held at the temples of the leading organs of the communist parties with the demand that they adopt immediately a, final position on the internal disputes in the CPSU without any information and any discussion; and besides they were aware in advance that on the position they took depended whether or not they could remain in the Comintern. Yet, the European communist parties were in no sense equipped in 1924 for a rapid-fire decision on the questions under discussion in Russia where, just at that time, two principled tendencies were in the formative stage, growing out of the new stage of the proletarian dictatorship. Of course, the work of purging was also necessary after 1924 and alien elements were quite correctly removed from many sections. But taken as a whole, the “Bolshevization” consisted in this: that with the wedge of the Russian disputes, driven from above with the hammer blows of the state apparatus, the leaderships being formed at the moment in the communist parties of the West were disorganized over and over again. All this went on under the banner of struggle against factionalism.

If a faction which threatens to paralyze its fighting ability for a long time does crystallize inside the party of the proletarian vanguard, the party will then naturally always be confronted with the necessity to decide whether to allot more time for a supplementary re-examination or to recognize immediately that the split is unavoidable. A fighting party can never be the sum of factions that pull in opposite directions. This is incontestably true, if taken in this general form. But to employ the split as a preventive measure against differences of opinion and to lop off every group and grouping that raises a voice of criticism, is to transform the internal life of the party into a chain of organizational abortions. Such methods do not promote the continuation and the development of the species but only exhaust the maternal organism, that is, the party. The struggle against factionalism becomes infinitely more dangerous than the formation of factions itself.

At the present time, we have a situation in which the actual initiators and founders of almost all the communist parties of the world have been placed outside of the International, not excepting even its former chairman. The leading groups of the two consecutive stages in party development are either expelled or removed from leadership in almost all the parties. In Germany the Brandler group today still finds itself in the position of semi-party membership. The Maslow group is outside the party. In France are expelled the old groups of Rosmer, Monatte, Loriot, Souvarine, as well as the leading group of the subsequent period, Girault-Treint. In Belgium, the basic group of Van Overstraeten has been expelled. If the Bordiga group, the founder of the Communist Party in Italy, is only half expelled that is to be accounted for by the conditions of the Fascist regime. In Czechoslovakia, in Sweden, in Norway, in the United States, in a word, in almost all the parties of the world we perceive more or less similar phenomena which arose in the post-Leninist period.

It is incontestable that many of the expelled committed the greatest mistakes; and we have not been behindhand in pointing them out. It is equally true that many of the expelled, after they were cut off from the Comintern, have to a great extent returned to their former points of departure, to the Left social democracy or syndicalism. But the task of the leadership of the Comintern by no means consists in driving the young leaderships of the national parties into a blind alley every time, and thus dooming their individual representatives to ideological degeneration. The “revolutionary order” of the bureaucratic leadership stands as a terrible obstacle in the path of the development of all the parties of the Communist International.

Organizational questions are inseparable from questions of program and tactics. We must take clearly into account the fact that one of the most important sources of opportunism in the Comintern is the bureaucratic regime of the apparatus in the Comintern itself as well as in its leading party. There cannot be any doubt after the experience of the years 1923-1928 that bureaucratism in the Soviet Union is the expression and the instrument of the pressure exerted by the non-proletarian classes upon the proletariat. The draft program of the Comintern contains a correct formulation on this score when it says that bureaucratic perversions “arise inevitably on the soil of an insufficient cultural level of the masses and of class influences alien to the proletariat.” Here we have the key to the understanding not only of bureaucratism in general but also of its extraordinary growth in the last five years. The cultural level of the masses, while remaining insufficient, has been rising constantly in this period (and this is incontestable); therefore, the cause for the growth of bureaucratism is to be sought only in the growth of class influences alien to the proletariat. In proportion as the European communist parties, i.e., primarily their directing bodies, aligned themselves organizationally with the shifts and regroupings in the apparatus of the CPSU, the bureaucratism of the communist parties abroad was for the most part only a reflection and a supplement of the bureaucratism within the CPSU.

The selection of the leading elements in the communist parties has proceeded and still proceeds mainly from the standpoint of their readiness to accept and approve the very latest apparatus grouping in the CPSU The more independent and responsible elements in the leadership of the parties abroad who refused to submit to shuffling and reshuffling in a purely administrative manner, were either expelled from the party altogether or they were driven into the Right (often the pseudo-Right) wing, or, finally, they entered the ranks of the Left Opposition. In this manner, the organic process of the selection and welding together of the revolutionary cadres, on the basis of the proletarian struggle under the leadership of the Comintern was cut short, altered, distorted, and in part even directly replaced by the administrative and bureaucratic sifting from above. Quite naturally, those leading communists who were the readiest to adopt the ready-made decisions and to countersign any and all resolutions, frequently gained the upper hand over those party elements who were imbued with the feeling of revolutionary responsibility. Instead of a selection of tested and unwavering revolutionists, we have frequently had a selection of the best adapted bureaucrats.

All questions of internal and international policy invariably lead us back to the question of the internal party regime. Assuredly, deviations away from the class line in the questions of the Chinese revolution and the English labor movement, in the questions of the economy of the USSR, of wages, of taxes, etc., constitute in themselves a grave danger. But this danger is increased tenfold because the bureaucratic regime binds the party hand and foot and deprives it of any opportunity to correct the line of the leading party tops in a normal manner. The same applies to the Comintern as well. The resolution of the Fourteenth Party Congress of the CPSU on the necessity of a more democratic and more collective leadership in the Comintern has been transformed in practice into its antithesis. A change in the internal regime of the Comintern is becoming a life and death question for the international revolutionary movement. This change can be achieved in two ways: either hand in hand with a change in the internal regime in the CPSU or in the struggle against the leading role of the CPSU in the Comintern. Every effort must be made to assure the adoption of the first way. The struggle for the change of the internal regime in the CPSU is a struggle for regenerating the regime in the Comintern and for the preservation of the leading ideological role of our party in the Comintern.

For this reason, it is necessary to expunge ruthlessly from the program the very idea that living, active parties can be subordinated to the control of the “revolutionary order” of an irremovable governmental party bureaucracy. The party itself must be restored its rights. The party must once again become a party. This must be affirmed in the program in such words as will leave no room for the theoretical justification of bureaucratism and usurpatory tendencies.

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12. The Causes of the Defeat of the Opposition
and Its Perspectives

The Left proletarian wing of the party which set down its views in a number of documents, the principal of which is the Platform of the Bolshevik-Leninists (Opposition), has been subjected, beginning with the Fall of 1923 to systematic, organizational campaigns of extermination. The methods of repression were conditioned upon the character of the internal party regime which became more bureaucratic to the degree that the pressure exerted by the non-proletarian classes upon the proletariat grew stronger. The possibilities for the success of such methods were created by the general political character of the period in which the proletariat suffered the greatest defeats, the social democracy came to life again, while in the communist parties the Centrist-opportunist tendencies grew stronger, in addition to which Centrist systematically slid to the Right up to the recent months. The first onslaught against the Opposition was perpetrated immediately after the defeat of the German revolution and served, as it were, as a supplement of this defeat. This onslaught would have been utterly impossible with a victory of the German proletariat which would have raised extraordinarily the self-confidence of the proletariat of the USSR and therefore also its power of resistance to the pressure of the bourgeois classes, internally as well as externally, and to the party bureaucracy which transmits this pressure.

To render clearer the meaning of the regroupings that took place in the Comintern since the end of 1923 it would be highly important to examine step by step how the leading group explained its organizational “victories” over the Opposition at the various stages of its down-sliding. We are not in a position to do so within the framework of a criticism of the draft program. But it is sufficient for our purposes to examine how the first “victory” over the Opposition in September 1924 was viewed and explained. In his debut article on the question of international policy, Stalin said the following:

“The decisive victory of the revolutionary wing in the communist parties is the surest indication of the deepest revolutionary processes that are now, taking place within the working class ...”

And in another place in the same article:

“If we add to this the fact of the complete isolation of the opportunist currents in the CPSU, the picture is complete. The Fifth Congress only consolidated the victory of the revolutionary wing in the basic sections of the Communist International.” [37]

Thus, the defeat of the Opposition in the CPSU was proclaimed to be the result of the fact that the European proletariat was going to the Left, was marching directly towards the revolution and was giving the revolutionary wing the ascendancy over the opportunists in all the sections of the Comintern. Today, some five years later, after the greatest defeat of the international proletariat in the Fall of 1923, Pravda finds itself compelled to admit that “the wave of a certain apathy and dejection which set in after the defeat of 1923 and which permitted German capital to consolidate its position” is only now beginning to disappear. [38]

But, in that case, a question arises which is new for the present leadership of the Comintern but not for us: should not, then, the defeat of the Opposition in 1923 and the years that followed be explained not by a Leftward swing, but by a Rightward swing of the working class? The answer to this question is all-decisive.

The answer given at the Fifth Congress in 1924 and later on in various articles and speeches was clear and categorical: the strengthening of the revolutionary elements within the labor movement of Europe, the new rising wave, the approaching proletarian revolution’all these brought about the “debacle” of the Opposition.

Now, however, the sharp and prolonged turn of the political conjuncture after 1923 towards the Right and not towards the Left has already become a well established, generally recognized, and incontrovertible fact. Consequently, the other fact is equally incontrovertible, to wit, that the inception and intensification of the struggle against the Opposition and the accentuation of this struggle up to the point of expulsions and exile is most closely connected with the political process of bourgeois stabilization in Europe. To be sure, this process was interrupted during the last four years by major revolutionary events. But new mistakes of the leadership, even more grievous than those of 1923 in Germany, gave the victory to the enemy each time under the worst possible conditions for the proletariat and the communist party and thereby created new sources of sustenance for bourgeois stabilization. The international revolutionary movement suffered defeats and together with it the Left, proletarian Leninist wing of the CPSU and the Comintern went down in defeat.

This explanation would be incomplete were we to overlook the internal process in the economic and political life of the USSR arising out of this world situation; namely, that the contradictions on the basis of the NEP were growing while the leadership did not correctly understand the problem of the economic “smychka” between the city and the country, underestimated the disproportions and the tasks of industrialization, did not grasp the significance of a planned economy, etc.

The growth of the economic and political pressure of the bureaucratic and petty bourgeois strata within the country on the basis of defeats of the proletarian revolution in Europe and Asia’that was the historical chain which tightened around the neck of the Opposition during these four years. Whoever fails to understand this will understand nothing at all.

In this analysis we have been compelled at almost every single important stage to oppose the line which was rejected under the name of Trotskyism to the line that was actually carried through. The meaning of this struggle in its generalized aspects is distinctly clear to every Marxist. If the occasional and partial charges of “Trotskyism” corroborated by adducing a mass of actual and imaginary quotations of the last twenty-five years could temporarily confuse, then the cohesive and generalized evaluation of the ideological struggle of the last five years is proof of the fact that two lines were at hand here. One of them was a conscious and consistent line; it was a continuation and development of the theoretical and strategical principles of Lenin in their application to the internal questions of the USSR and the questions of the world revolution; it was the line of the Opposition. The second line was an unconscious, contradictory, and vacillating line, sliding down in zigzags from Leninism under the pressure of hostile class forces in the period of the international political reflux; this was the line of the official leadership. At great turning points men frequently find it easier to abandon their conceptions than the habitual phraseology. That is a general law of all those whose ideological colors fade. While revising Lenin in almost all essential points, the leadership passed off this revisionism as a development of Leninism and at the same time characterized the international revolutionary essence of Leninism as Trotskyism. It did this not only in order to mask itself both outwardly and inwardly but also in order to adapt itself more easily to the process of its own down-sliding.

Whoever wants to understand this will not fling at us the cheap reproach that we have connected the criticism of the draft program with an exposure of the legend of Trotskyism. The present draft program is the product of an ideological epoch that was permeated with this legend. The authors of the draft were the ones who fed this legend the most, who always proceeded from it and utilized it as the measuring rod of all things. The whole draft is a reflection of precisely this epoch.

Political history has been enriched by a new and extraordinarily instructive chapter. It might be entitled the chapter on the Power of Mythology, or more simply, Ideological Calumny as a Political Weapon. Experience teaches us that it is impermissible to underestimate this weapon. We have still far from accomplished “the leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom,” and we still live in a class society which is unthinkable without obscurantism, prejudices, and superstitions. A myth that corresponds to certain interests or traditional customs can always wield a great power in a class society. But on the basis of a myth alone, even if it is planfully organized and has at its disposal all the resources of state power, no great policy can be carried on, least of all a revolutionary policy, especially in our epoch of abrupt changes. Mythology must inevitably become entangled in the web of its own contradictions. We have already mentioned a small part, though perhaps the most important part of these contradictions. Quite independently of whether external circumstances will permit us to carry out our analysis to the end, we firmly take into consideration that our subjective analysis will be supported by the objective analysis which historical events will provide.

The radicalization of the working masses of Europe which found its expression in the last parliamentary elections is an indisputable fact. But this radicalization is now passing only through its initial stages. Such factors as the recent defeat of the Chinese revolution militate against the radicalization and drive for the most part into social democratic channels. We do not at all intend to predict here the tempo at which this process will proceed in the near future. But in any case it is clear that this radicalization will be the harbinger of a new revolutionary situation only from the moment that the gravitation toward the communist party begins to grow at the expense of the great reserves of the social democracy. Such is not the case as yet. But this must take place with iron necessity.

The present indefinite orientation of the Comintern leadership, with its internally discordant endeavors to turn the helm to the Left without changing the whole regime and putting a stop to the organizational struggle against the most tested revolutionary elements’this contradictory orientation has arisen not only under the blows of the internal economic difficulties of the USSR which fully confirmed the prognosis of the Opposition; but it also corresponds fully to the first stage of the radicalization of the European working masses. The eclecticism of the policy of the Comintern leadership, the eclecticism of the draft program represent, as it were, a snapshot of the present condition of the international working class, which is driven to the Left by the course of development but has not yet fixed its course, giving more than nine million votes to the German social democracy.

The further genuine revolutionary upsurge will signify a colossal regrouping within the working class, in all its organizations, including the Comintern. The tempo of this process is still unclear but the lines along which the crystallization will occur are clearly discernible. The working masses will pass from the social democracy to the communist party, section by section. The axis of communist policy will shift over more from Right to Left. Concurrently, a demand will increasingly rise for the consistent Bolshevik line of the group that was able to swim against the stream despite the hailstorm of accusations and persecutions since the defeat of the German proletariat at the end of 1923.

The organizational methods by which the ideas of genuine, unfalsified Leninism will triumph in the Comintern and consequently in the whole international proletariat depend very largely upon the present leadership of the Comintern and consequently directly upon the Sixth Congress.

However, whatever he the decisions of this Congress – we are prepared for the worst – the general estimate of the present epoch and its inner tendencies and especially the evaluation of the experiences of the last five years indicate to us that the Opposition needs no other channel than that of the Comintern. No one will succeed in tearing us away from it. The ideas we defend will become its ideas. They will find their expression in the program of the Communist International.

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37. Pravda, September 20, 1924.

38. Pravda, January 28, 1928.

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