Leon Trotsky

The Third International
After Lenin

What Now?

(Part 3)

5. How the Current Swing Toward the Left in the CPSU Was Prepared

6. One Step Forward, Half a Step Backward

5. How the Current Swing Toward the Left in the CPSU Was Prepared

It is indispensable that we sketch in this summary the policy and regime of the Comintern in order to find the correct place which corresponds to the swing of the leadership to the Left. Since this swing issued directly from conditions which caused the economic crisis in the USSR, and since it is developing according to a line which particularly touches internal questions, it is indispensable that we examine more closely, and in greater detail, how these questions were presented in the past, up to recently, and what is new in the latest resolutions and measures of the Central Committee of the CPSU. It is only in this way that the correct line of the policy to follow subsequently will be outlined before us.

*  *  *

The altogether exceptional difficulties experienced this year (1928) in the grain collections have an enormous importance not only in the economic domain but likewise in that of politics and of the party. It is not accidental that these difficulties have unleashed the turn to the Left. On the other hand, by themselves these difficulties establish the balance sheet of a vast period of economic and general policy.

The transition from war communism to socialist economy could have been realized without being accompanied by great retreats only if the proletarian revolution had been immediately extended to the advanced countries. The fact that this extension was delayed for years led us to the great retreat of the NEP, a deep and lasting retreat, in the Spring of 1921. The proportions of the indispensable retreat were established not only theoretically but also by feeling out the ground in practice. In the Autumn of 1921 it was already necessary further to deepen the retreat.

On October 29, 1921, that is, seven months after the transition to the NEP, Lenin stated at the Moscow District Conference:

“This transition to the New Economic Policy which was effected in the Spring, this retreat on our part ... has it proved adequate so that we can stop retreating, so that we can prepare to take the offensive? No, it has still proved inadequate ... And we are now obliged to admit it, if we do not want to hide our heads in ostrich fashion, if we don’t want to appear like fellows who do not see their own defeat, if we are not afraid of seeing the danger that confronts us. We must recognize that the retreat has proved to be inadequate, that it is necessary to execute a supplementary retreat, a further retreat in the course of which we will pass from state capitalism to the creation of purchases, of sales, and of monetary circulation regulated by the state. That is why we are in the situation of men who still continue to be forced to retreat in order finally to pass to the offensive at a further stage.” [5]

And later, in the same speech:

“To conceal from oneself, from the working class, from the masses, that in the economic domain, in the Spring of 1921 and at present, too, in the Autumn-Winter of 1921-1922, we are still continuing to retreat, is to condemn ourselves to complete unconsciousness, is to be devoid of the courage to face the situation squarely. Under such conditions, work and struggle would be impossible.” [6]

It was only in the Spring of the following year, in 1922, that Lenin decided to give the signal to halt the retreat. He spoke of it for the first time on March 6, 1922, at a session of the fraction of the Metal Workers’ Congress:

“We can now say that this retreat, in the sense of concessions which we made to capitalists, is completed. And I hope, and L am certain, that the party congress will also state so officially in the name of the leading party of Russia.” [7]

And immediately he added an explanation, frank and honest as always, truly Leninist:

“All talk of the cessation of the retreat must not be understood in the sense that we have already created the foundation of the new economy and that we can proceed tranquilly. No, the foundation has not yet been created.” [8]

The Eleventh Congress, on the basis of Lenin’s report, adopted the following resolution on this question:

“The Congress takes note that the sum total of the measures applied and decided upon during the course of the past year exhausts the necessary concessions made by the party to private capitalism and considers that in this sense the retreat is completed.” [9]

This resolution, deeply pondered, and, as we have seen, carefully prepared, presupposed consequently that the new points of departure occupied by the party would furnish the possibility of inaugurating the socialist offensive, slowly, but without new movements of retreat.

Nevertheless, the hopes of the last congress which Lenin led did not prove accurate on this point. In the Spring of 1925 there came the necessity of executing a new retreat: granting to the rich classes of the village the right to exploit lower strata by hiring labor and renting land.

The necessity for this new retreat, immense in its consequences, which had not been foreseen by the strategic plan of Lenin in 1922, was due not only to the fact that the limits of the retreat had been drawn “too short” (the most elementary prudence made that imperative) but also because during 1923-1924, the leadership understood neither the situation nor the tasks which devolved upon it, and lost time while under the delusion that it was “gaining” time.

But that is not all. The new painful retreat in April 1925 was not called, as Lenin would have called it, a profound defeat and retreat; it was presented as a victorious step of the smychka, as a mere link in the general mechanism of building socialism. It is precisely against such proceedings that Lenin had warned all his life, and especially in the Autumn of 1921 when it became necessary to continue and deepen the retreat begun in the Spring.

“It is not the defeat which is so dangerous,” said Lenin in the above quoted speech at the Moscow District Conference, “as the fear of admitting one’s defeat, the fear of drawing from it all the conclusions ... We must not be afraid of admitting defeats. We must learn from the experience of the defeats. If we adopt the opinion that by admitting defeats we induce despondency and a weakening of energy for the struggle, similar to a surrender of positions, me would have to say that such revolutionists are absolutely not worth a damn.... Our strength in the past was, as it will remain in the future, that we can take the heaviest defeats into account with perfect coolness, learning from their experience what must be modified in our activity. That is why it is necessary to speak candidly. This is vital and important not alone for the purpose of theoretical correctness, but also from the practical point of view. We cannot learn to solve the problems of today by new methods if yesterday’s experience has not made us open our eyes in order to see wherein the old methods were at fault.[10]

But this remarkable warning was completely forgotten the day after Lenin departed from leadership; it has not been really remembered a single time up to now.

Inasmuch as the decisions of April 1925 legalized the developing differentiation in the village and opened the floodgates to it, the smychka signified in the future an ever-growing commodity exchange between the workers’ state and the kulak. Instead of recognizing this terrible danger, the servile theory of integrating the kulak into socialism was immediately created. For the first time, this process in its entirety was presented to the party conference, in the name of the party, as the “building of socialism in one country” independent of world economy and world revolution. Thus the very appearance of this petty bourgeois, reactionary theory is due not to the real successes of socialist construction, which are indisputable, but precisely to the setbacks of the latter and to the need thereby engendered among the leaders to provide the proletariat a “moral” solace as a counterbalance to the new material concessions granted to capitalism.

The resolution of the Fourteenth Congress (January 1926) on industrialization voiced a whole series of correct theses, repeating almost word for word certain ideas that the Opposition had developed on this subject during 1923-1925. But alongside of this resolution a campaign was waged against the Left wing, labeled as “super-industrialists,” that is to say, against those who did not want the adopted decisions simply to remain on paper; our warnings about the kulak danger were presented under the absurd designation of “panic”; the positing of the fact that the differentiation of classes was taking place in the village was punished as anti-Soviet propaganda; the demand for the exercise of stronger pressure upon the kulak to the advantage of industry was labeled as a tendency to “plunder the peasants” (Stalin-Rykov-Kuibyshev manifesto); after all this the resolution on industrialization had as little influence on the real economic process as had been the case with certain other resolutions of the Fourteenth Congress on party democracy and on collective leadership in the Comintern.

In 1926 the Opposition formulated the discussion on the smychka, which began as far back as the Spring of 1923, in the following way:

QUESTION: Is it true that the policy of the Opposition threatens to disrupt the smychka between the proletariat and the peasantry?

ANSWER: This accusation is false to the core. The smychka is threatened at this moment by the lag in industry, on the one hand, and by the growth of the kulak, on the other. The lack of industrial products is driving a wedge between country and city. In the political and economic domains, the kulak is beginning to dominate the middle and poor peasants, opposing them to the proletariat. This development is still in it’s very first stages. It is precisely this that threatens the smychka. The underestimation of the lag in industry and of the growth of the kulak disrupts the correct, Leninist leadership of the alliance between the two classes, this basis of the dictatorship under the conditions in our country.” [11]

Let us stress here that in this question also the Opposition exaggerated nothing, despite the bitterness of the struggle, when, rising in opposition to the renegade theory of integrating the kulak into socialism, good only for paving the way to our integration into capitalism, we stated in 1926 that the kulak danger was “still in its very first stages.” We had pointed out, from 1923 on, the direction from which the danger was coming. We had pictured its growth at each new stage. In what else does the art of leadership consist if not in being able to grasp a danger in time, that is to say, when it is still “in its first stages,” and to prevent the possibility of its further development? To lead is to foresee – not to persecute those who are able to foresee.

To the greatest misfortune of the party, it was impossible even to make public the above-quoted lines. For having propagated them, the best militants were expelled from the party by functionaries without an idea in their heads, who did not want to think of tomorrow, and who were, moreover, incapable of doing so.

On December 9, 1926, at the Seventh Plenum of the ECCI, Bukharin denounced the Opposition in the following terms, on the subject of the smychka and of the grain collections:

“What was the most powerful argument that our Opposition used against the Central Committee of the party (I have in mind here the Autumn of 1925)? They said then: the contradictions are growing monstrously, and the CC of the party fails to understand this. They said: the kulaks, in whose hands almost the entire grain surplus is concentrated, have organized ‘the grain strike’ against us. That is why the grains are coming in so poorly. We all heard this ... The Opposition estimated that all the rest was only the political expression of this fundamental phenomenon. Subsequently the same comrades intervened to state: the kulak has intrenched himself still further, the danger has still further increased. Comrades, if the first and second affirmations had been correct, we would have even a stronger ‘kulaks’ strike’ against the proletariat this year ... The Opposition slanders us by stating that we are contributing to the growth of the kulaks, that we are continually making concessions, that we are helping the kulaks to organize the grain strike; the real results are proof of just the contrary ...” [12]

Does not this single quotation from Bukharin demonstrate by itself the complete blindness of the leadership on the key question of our economic policy?

Bukharin, however, was no exception. He only “generalized” theoretically the blindness of the leadership. The most responsible leaders of the party and of economy vied with each other in declaring that we had overcome crises (Rykov), that we were dominating the peasant market, and that the question of grain collections had become strictly a purely organizational question of the Soviet apparatus (Mikoyan). The resolution of the July Plenum of the Central Committee in 1927 announced that the development of economic activity during the course of that year had been, taken together, without any crises. At the same time, the official press affirmed in unison that the scarcity of goods in the country had, if not completely disappeared, at least been considerably ameliorated.

To counterbalance all this the Opposition wrote anew in its theses for the Fifteenth Congress:

“The decrease in the total amount of grains collected is, on the one hand, direct evidence of the profound disturbance existing in the relations between the city and the country and, on the other hand, it is a source of new difficulties which threaten us.”

Where is the root of our difficulties? The Opposition replied :

“In the course of recent years industry developed too slowly, lagging behind the development of national economy as a whole ... Owing to this, the dependence of state economy on kulak and capitalist elements is growing in the domain of raw materials, in export, and in foodstuffs.”

Let us recall also that the sharpest intervention of the Opposition was the one during the anniversary demonstration on November 7, 1927; the sharpest slogan formulated in this intervention was: “Let us turn our fire against the Right: against the kulak, the jober, and the bureaucrat; against the kulak and the jober sabotaging the grain collections; against the bureaucrat organizing or sleeping during the Donetz trial.” The controversy, which was no minor one, and wherein the head of the revolution was at stake, ended in the Winter of 1927-1928 accompanied by threats of GPU agents, while decisions were hurriedly signed punishing by exile, in conformity with Article 58, the “deviations” which varied from the general Centrist blindness, from that of Bukharin in particular.

Had it not been for the whole preceding work of the Opposition beginning with the theses of 1923 and ending with the placards of November 7, 1927; had not the Opposition established a correct prognosis in advance, and had it not raised a justified alarm in the party and working class ranks, the crisis in the grain collections would have only hastened the development of the Right wing course towards the further unleashing of capitalist forces.

More than once before in history has the proletarian vanguard, or even the vanguard of the vanguard, paid with its own destruction for a new step forward by its class or for checking an offensive by its enemies.

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6. One Step Forward, Half a Step Backward

It was the crisis in grain collections, unlike the Chinese, Anglo-Russian, and other crises, that could not be passed over in silence, that provided an impulse towards a new phase in policy. It had its immediate repercussions not only in the entire economy but also in the daily life of each worker. That is why the new political period dates from the grain collections.

Without any connection at all with the past, the party was treated on February 15, 1928, in Pravda, to a leading article which might have been taken for a restatement, and in part for an almost literal reproduction, of the Platform of the Opposition presented at the Fifteenth Congress.

This unexpected article, written under the direct pressure of the crisis in grain collections, announced:

“Among a whole number of causes which have determined the difficulties experienced in grain collections, it is necessary to single out the following. The village has expanded and enriched itself. Above all it is the kulak who has expanded and enriched himself. Three years of good crops have not passed without leaving their mark.”

Thus, the refusal of the village to give the city grain is due to the fact that the “village has enriched itself,” that is to say, that it has realized as best it could Bukharin’s slogan: “Enrich yourselves!” But why then does the enrichment of the village undermine the smychka instead of consolidating it? Because, the article replies, “Above all it is the kulak who has expanded and enriched himself.” Thus the theory affirming that the middle peasant had expanded during these years at the expense of the kulak and the poor peasant, was abruptly rejected as so much useless rubish. “Above all it is the kulak who has expanded and enriched himself.”

However, even the enrichment of the kulaks in the villages does not by itself explain the disorganization of the exchange between the city and the country. The alliance with the kulak is not a socialist alliance. But the grain crisis consists in the fact that even this smychka is non-existent. Ergo, not only has the kulak expanded and enriched himself but he does not even find it necessary to exchange his hoarded natural produce for the chervonetz; as for the goods that he wants and is able to get in town, he pays for them with a quantity of grain, which is absolutely inadequate for the city. Pravda also formulates the second cause, which is at bottom the fundamental reason of the grain crisis.

“The increase in the income of the peasantry ... in the presence of a relative backwardness in the supply of industrial products permits the peasants in general and the kulak in particular to hoard grain.”

Now the picture is clear. The fundamental cause is the lag in industry and the scarcity of industrial goods. Under these conditions, not only was there no socialist smychka established with the poor and middle peasants belonging to the cooperative, but there is not even a capitalist smychka with the kulak. If the two quotations from Pravda to which we have just referred are compared with those of the Opposition documents presented in the preceding chapter, then it must be admitted that Pravda repeats practically verbatim the expressions and ideas of my Questions and Answers, the penalty for typing which was expulsion from the party.

However, the Pravda article does not stop here. While still making the reservation that the kulak is not “the principal hoarder of grains” the article admits that he is the economic authority in the village, that “he has established a smychka with the city speculator who pays higher prices for grain,” that “he [the kulak] has the possibility of drawing the middle peasant behind him.” This description, which characterizes with precision the relations existing in the village, has nothing in common with the official legends of recent years on the dominant and continually increasing economic role of the middle peasant; but for that it coincides entirely with our platform which was considered as anti-party document. After eleven years of proletarian dictatorship it appears that the kulak is the “economic authority of the village,” that “he has the possibility of drawing the middle peasant behind him” – the middle peasant who, while continuing to be the central village figure from the numerical standpoint, finds himself held on the economic leash of the kulak. The reservation to the effect that the kulak is not “the principal hoarder of grain,” does not at all soften the picture but makes it more somber. If we accept the rather dubious figure of 20% as the share of the grain trade which is currently attributed to the kulak, the fact that the latter can “draw behind him” the middle peasant in the market, that is to say, lead him to sabotage the state grain collections, is made to stand out all the more sharply. The New York banks do not own the totality of goods in circulation either; Net they are the ones who dominate it. Whoever attempts to place this “modest” 20% in evidence, only emphasizes thereby that it is enough for the kulak to have a fifth of the grain in his hands for him to seize the dominant role on the grain market. That is how weak an influence the state exerts on the rural economy under conditions of a lagging industry.

Another inevitable reservation, to the effect that the “leading” role of the kulak has been recorded only in several regions and not in all of them, is no palliative either; on the contrary, it even sharpens the alarming meaning of what is happening. These “several” regions were already sufficient to shake the smychka between the city and the country to its very foundations. What would have happened had this process been extended in the same degree to all regions?

We are dealing here with a living economic process and not with a stable statistical mean. It is not at all a question of measuring, quantitatively and with precision, this most complex and extensive process as we march along, but it is necessary to determine its quality, that is to say, to show in what direction the phenomena are growing. Today, we have 20% ; tomorrow there may be a great deal more. Certain regions have gone ahead; others lag behind. In point of fact, the authority of the kulak in the village and the possibility he has of drawing the middle peasant behind him are not directly survivals from the past; no, in the latter we have new facts which have arisen on the groundwork of the NEP, following upon the kulak suppression; in this sense, the regions where the phenomenon is more sharply apparent are only pointing the way to the more “backward” ones, providing, naturally, that the course of the economic policy, which has ruled for five years, especially since April 1925, will be continued.

At whose expense has the new “Soviet” kulak gained in authority in the village? At the expense of the dominating workers’ state and its instruments, state industry and cooperation. If the kulak has obtained the possibility of drawing the middle peasant behind him, against whom will he lead him? Against the workers’ state! Therein lies the serious and profound break in the economic smychka, a premise of another, far greater danger, namely, the break in the political alliance.

It is no longer a question today, as was the case in the Spring of 1923, of anticipating events, nor one of theoretical considerations, but of rigorously verified facts. Despite the dictatorship of the proletariat, despite the nationalization of the land, despite state-protected cooperation, the retardation experienced by industry has in a few years placed the reins in the village in the hands of the mortal enemies of socialist construction. This was certified by Pravda for the first time on February 15, 1928.

From all this, despairing conclusions need not at all be drawn. But before everything else, the clear and complete truth must be presented to the party. Nothing must be underrated or embellished. That is why the article of Pravda, in spite of its petty, equivocal reservations, constitutes a serious step forward. By that alone, it considerably reduces the distance, on this question, separating the line of the Opposition from that followed by the leadership in the course of the past five years. All Oppositionists can only welcome this. But after this step forward there ensued at least half a step backward. As soon as the situation became less acute, from the standpoint of the grain collections, thanks to emergency administrative measures, the machine of official optimism was set into motion again.

The last programmatic manifesto of the Central Committee of June 3, 1928, states:

“The resistance of the kulaks grew on the basis of a general increase in the productive forces of the country, despite a still greater growth of the socialist sector of the economy.”

If that is the case, if that is true, there is no room for alarm. Then there remains only to keep calmly building “socialism in one country” without disrupting the line of activity. If the specific weight of capitalist elements, that is to say, the kulak especially, is annually declining within economy, then what is the occasion for so sudden a “panic” before the kulak? The question is resolved by the dynamic relationship between two struggling forces: socialism and capitalism – who will vanquish whom? The kulak is either “terrifying” or “harmless” depending solely upon the direction in which this relationship shifts. The manifesto of the CC vainly seeks to salvage, in this section, the resolution of the Fifteenth Congress, which proceeded from the alleged constantly growing preponderance of socialist elements in economy over the capitalist elements. But indeed the article in the February 15 issue of Pravda is a public refutation of this incorrect thesis which has been disproved in practice by the entire course of operations necessitated during the grain collections. How does this jibe logically?

Had the socialist sector grown more rapidly than the non-socialist during these three years of good harvests, we might perhaps have still had a commercial and industrial crisis, manifesting itself in a surplus of products of state industry that could not find agricultural equivalents. Instead, we have had a crisis in grain collections, which the February 15 issue of Pravda correctly explains as the result of the accumulation of the agricultural products on the part of the peasantry and especially the kulaks, products for which there were lacking equivalents in industrial goods. The aggravation of the crisis in grain collections, i.e., the crisis of the smychka, as a result of three good crops, can only imply that in the general dynamics of the economic process the socialist sector has become weaker as compared with the capitalist and private commodity sector in general.

The correction which has been introduced into this relationship by administrative pressure, absolutely inevitable once the leadership had proved blind, does not in any way change the fundamental conclusion. We are here dealing with a political force in which the kulak is already taking part, even if only partially. However, the very necessity of resorting to emergency methods from the arsenal of war communism is evidence precisely of an unfavorable change in the relationship of forces within the sphere of economic life.

But there is still another criterion which is equally decisive and even more important: the material condition of the working class. If it is true that the national economy is growing (and this is true); if it is true that socialist accumulation is growing more rapidly than private accumulation (as the CC declares, contrary to reality), then it is entirely incomprehensible why the condition of the working class has grown worse during the recent period, and why the recent collective contracts were the source of grave friction and bitter struggle. Not a single worker can posit a “predominance,” of this sort of socialist elements over those of growing capitalism, when the standard of living of the non-proletarian elements is rising while that of the proletarian elements is on the decline. This practical criterion, which affects the worker vitally, is completely in harmony with the theoretical criterion and is a refutation of the superficial and formal optimism of the CC.

In face of this objective verification, given by economy and life itself, all attempts to prove “statistically” the pre-dominance of the growth of the socialist sector are rendered absurd. This would be tantamount to an attempt on the part of the head of an army, forced to retreat with losses after a battle, after surrendering important positions, to prove with cunning statistical coefficients that the preponderance lay on his side. No, the kulak has proved (and his arguments are more convincing than statistical combinations, made to comply with optimism) that in this very important battle, to the extent that it was waged with economic weapons, the preponderance proved to be on the side of the kulak. The household budget of the working woman also bears witness to this. The question of who will vanquish whom is resolved by the living dynamics of economy. If figures contradict the incontrovertible results of the struggle, and the testimony of life itself, then the figures lie, or, at best, the answer they give refers to a totally different question.

Indeed, we have already had in 1927 instances not only of the entirely admissible administrative intervention into grain collections, but also entirely inadmissible intervention into statistics. On the eve of the Fourteenth Congress, the statistical data refurbished by the secretariat of the CC “absorbed” the kulak almost completely. Merely a few days were required for this socialist victory.

But even if we were to set aside the accommodating nature of statistics, which like all other things suffer from the arbitrariness of the apparatus, there still remains the fact that statistics, especially among us, given the extreme atomization of the most important processes, are always belated. Statistics provide a momentary cross-section of the processes, without catching their tendencies. Herein theory must come to our assistance. Our correct theoretical evaluation of the dynamics of the process predicted beforehand that the lag in industry will turn even the good crops against socialist construction and engender the growth of the kulak in the village and breadlines in the cities. The facts came and they gave their incontrovertible verification.

In the lessons of the crisis in grain collections, summarized in the February article of Pravda, we have a compulsory and therefore all the more indisputable confirmation of the increasing disproportion, with the deficit on the side of state economy, i.e., with the decrease of the specific weight of the economic foundations of the proletarian dictatorship. Along with this we have a confirmation of a differentiation in the peasantry already so profound as to place the fate of the grain collections, in other words, the fate of the smychka, under the immediate and direct control of the kulak, leading behind him the middle peasant.

If the disproportion between the city and the country has been inherited from the past; if a certain growth of capitalist forces flows inevitably from the very nature of our present economy, then the aggravation of the disproportion during the last year and the shift in the relation of forces to the side of the kulak is entirely the result of the false class policy of the leadership, which failed to regulate methodically the distribution of the national income, either permitting the reins to slip completely free or hysterically checking them.

In contradistinction to this, the Opposition, since 1923, has been insisting that only a firm planned course based upon a systematic year-to-year overcoming of the disproportion would enable us to endow state industry with a real leading role in relation to the village; and that, on the contrary, the lag of industry would inevitably engender the deepening of class contradictions in the country and the lowering of the specific weight of the economic summits of the proletarian dictatorship.

Consequently we approached the kulak, not as an isolated phenomenon, as Zinoviev and Kamenev attempted to do during the Fourteenth Congress, but on the basis of the decisive relationship between state industry and the private commodity form of rural economy as a whole. Within the confines of village economy we took the kulak, once again not as an isolated phenomenon, but in connection with his economic influence upon the more prosperous layers of the middle peasants and the village as a whole. Finally we took these two fundamental internal processes, not as isolated, but in their relation with the world market, which through export and import exerts an ever more determining influence upon the tempo of our economic development.

Taking all this as our starting point, we wrote in our theses submitted to the Fifteenth Congress:

“Inasmuch as we obtain the grain and the raw material surpluses for export trade primarily from the well-to-do layers of the village, and inasmuch as it is precisely these layers that are hoarding grain the most, it turns out that we are ‘regulated’ through export trade primarily by the kulak and the well-to-do peasant.”

But an objection may be raised that the Opposition was “premature” in posing questions for which the leadership had already set a date for some time in the future. After all that has been said, it is hardly necessary to dwell upon this puerile Stalinist argument which is fed to the party each time it becomes essential to make up for lost time. Let us present a single piece of telling evidence. On March 9, 1928, at a session of the Moscow Soviet, Rykov said the following on the subject of grain collections:

“This campaign indubitably bears all the distinctive traits of shock-brigade work. If I were asked whether it would not have been better to manage in a more normal way, that is to say, without resorting to such a shock-brigade campaign, in order to overcome the crisis in grain collections, I would give the candid reply that it would have been better. We must recognize that we have lost time, we were asleep at the beginning of the difficulties in grain collection, we failed to take a whole series of measures in time which were necessary for a successful development of the grain collections campaign.” [13]

If the delay is recognized in these words primarily from the administrative standpoint, then it is not difficult to supplement them politically. In order to have applied the indispensable administrative measures in time, the party, inspiring and directing the state apparatus, should have been supplied in due time with at least the rough data for a general orientation, such as was given in the leading article of Pravda of February 15. The delay consequently bears not an administrative but a party-political character. The principled warnings of the Opposition should have been attentively listened to in time and the practical measures we proposed should have been discussed in a business-like manner.

Last year the Opposition proposed, in part, to enforce a compulsory loan to the amount of 150 to 200 million poods of grain from 10% of the peasant enterprises, i.e., the wealthiest. At that time this proposal was castigated as being a measure of war communism. The party was taught that it is impossible to squeeze the kulak without harming the middle peasant [14], or that the kulak does not represent any danger since, you see, he is constrained a priori: within the framework of the proletarian dictatorship (Bukharin). But this year recourse had to be taken to article 107 (i.e., to repressive measures of collecting grain); after which, the CC had to explain that talk about war communism is counter-revolutionary slander, although the Committee itself had on the very eve labeled as war communism much more cautious and methodical proposals of the Opposition.

So long as white is called white and black is called black, the correct point of view will be the one which provides the possibility of understanding what is occurring and to foresee the future. The viewpoint of the Opposition comes under this definition, but that of the official leadership never does. In the last analysis, facts stand above the highest institutions. Only in a fit of hierarchic hysteria could anyone demand today, after the grain collection campaign of last Winter, and the resulting acute crisis in the official policy and ideology, that the Opposition admit its “error.” Such a condition has never yet brought anyone any good.

The question here is not who was right. This question has a meaning only in connection with the question which line was correct. To slur over this last question after the first signs of a turn on the part of the leadership would be the most contemptible and infamous crime against the party. The party has not yet had a chance to find out. All measures, controversies, and steps have real value depending only on whether the party has or has not clarified itself. A principled position has not get been won. The future has not been secured. For every step forward there follows a half-step back.

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5. Works, Vol.XVIII, pp.397f.

6. Ibid., pp.399f.

7. Works, Vol.XVIII, part 2, p.13.

8. Works, Vol.XVIII, part 2, p.13.

9. Minutes, p.143.

10. Works, Vol.XVIII, part 1, p.396.

11. Questions and Answers.

12. Minutes, Vol.II, p.118.

13. Pravda, March 11, 1928.

14. Stalin at the Fourteenth Congress.

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Last updated on: 14.4.2007