L.D. Trotsky

The New Course in the Economy
of the Soviet Union

Adventure in Economics and its Danger

(March 1930)

Source: The Militant, Vol. III No. 11, 15 March 1930, pp. 4–5 & 8.
Transcription/HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2012. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 .

The success of the industrial development of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics is of universal significance. The Social Democrats deserve nothing but contempt. They do not even attempt to estimate the tempo which Soviet economy has attained. This tempo is neither stable nor assured. We will discuss that later. But it gives experimental proof of the immeasurable potentialities which are inherent in socialistic methods of economy.

If in 1918 Social Democracy in Germany had used the power which had been given to It by the Revolution to establish socialism, (and it had every possibility to do so) it would not be difficult to understand, in view of the experience of Soviet Russia, what economic power the socialist masses in central Europe, eastern Europe and considerable portions of Asia, would now have. All the world would have a different aspect. But now humanity will pay for the betrayal of the German Social Democracy by further wars and revolutions. Never was there a greater crime in all history. However, this question is not the subject of our discussion.

The initial estimation of the possibilities of socialistic industrialization was briefly analyzed by us in the book Whither Russia? Towards Capitalism or Towards Socialism, in the early part of 1925, prior to the end of the reconstruction period. Then we proved that even after all the equipment inherited by the bourgeoisie was exhausted, i.e., after the transition to increased independent reproduction on the basis of socialistic accumulation, Soviet industry would be able to give a coefficient of growth absolutely unattainable by capitalism. After every consideration, we counted on a fifteen to twenty percent annual growth. Philistines of the type of Stalin and Molotov derided these hypothetical figures as though they were a dream of “super-industrialization”. Reality left our calculations far behind. But after this there occurred what has often happened before. These empirical Philistines, overwhelmed by the success, decided that from now on everything was possible.

The Meaning of the Stalinist Zig-zag

During recent months it finally became apparent that the Stalin faction has, in the question of domestic economy of the Soviet Union as well as in the policy of the Comintern, transformed its Left zig-zag into an ultra-Left course. [1] This ultra-Left course is a negation and adventurous addition of that opportunism which has controlled since 1923, and especially from 1926 to 1928. The present day policy represents no less a danger and in certain aspects a greater danger than the policy of yesterday.

The ultra-Leftism in the economic policy of tho Soviet Union is now developing along two lines: Industrialization and Collectivism.

Since the beginning of 1923 the Opposition has demanded a quicker tempo of industrialization. It based its demands not only upon the necessities but upon the actual economic possibilities.

The dominating faction (Zinoviev, Stalin, Bucharin, and later Stalin and Bucharia without Zinoviev), accused the Opposition of the intention, in the name of super-industrialization, to “rob the peasants” and thus to break the economic and political connection between town and country.

Experience showed that the Opposition was correct. The opportunistic leadership systematically underestimated the resources of nationalized industry. The actual development of industry, impelled by markets and the pressure of the Opposition, left the official figures from year to year far behind.

The struggle between the central leadership and the Opposition became especially acute, just at that moment when the stand of tine Opposition was confirmed along all lines. The leadership was compelled within a few months to forsake their old minimum five-year plan, which had been criticised in the platform of the Opposition, and to replace it with a new and incomparably bolder plan. When the first year demonstrated the possibility of realizing the projected tempo, evidently to the surprise of the leadership itself, the latter at once abandoned their petty doubts and rushed to the opposite extreme. Now, the slogan is: “Forward, without stopping, forward!” The plan is being constantly revised in the direction of its extension.

From passive possibilism the opportunists have turned to unlimited subjectivism. A reference by an economist or a worker to actual obstacles – as for instance, bad equipment, lack of raw material or its poor quality – is considered a betrayal of the revolution. The government demands: speed, action, offensive! Never mind the rest.

How Stalin Handles the Five Year Plan

The first quarter of the present economic year, the second year of the five year plan (October–February), in spite of the significant progress in comparison with the first quarter of the preceding year (about 26% of the growth) missed fire. For the first time during the epigonean leadership, industry remained behind the outlined plan. Especially lagging was the heavy industry. Something was wrong with the cost prices. To lessen or to disguise their straggling, the mills of the heavy industry took recourse through the deterioration of the quality of the products. The amount of “brak” (imperfect products) dangerously increased. The Central Committee answered with the categorical demand not only to fulfill, the program, but to surpass it.

The objective data began to testify more and more convincingly, as could have been also foreseen theoretically, that the start was bigger than the strength. The industrialization is upheld more and more by means of the administrative whip. The equipment and the labor-power are being forced. Disproportions of production in different fields of industry are accumulating. Retardation in the following quarters of the year, might prove more threatening than in the first. The government, on its part, sees itself compelled to patch up the newly opened industrial gaps by new budget or credit assignments. This leads to paper money inflation, which becomes, in its turn, a source for the artificial increase of the demand for goods, and consequently makes individual branches of industry surpass the calculations of the plan, and thus increases the accumulation of new disproportions.

The Soviet economy depends on the world economy. This dependence expresses itself by import and export. The foreign trade is the narrowest point of the whole system of the Soviet economy. The difficulties of foreign trade are fundamentally the difficulties of our backwardness. At present, an important fact of conjunctural character must be added to it. The symptoms of crisis of world economy already affect the Soviet export through the decrease of the demand and the lowering of the prices of the exported products. If the world industrial and commercial crisis deepens and prolongs itself, the further narrowing of our, even now, insufficient export, will affect the import, i.e., the import of machines and of the most important kinds of technical raw material. This danger does not, of course, depend on the will of the Soviet leadership. But the leadership can and must take it into consideration. Hazardous speeding up of industrialization, without coordinating the activities of its different branches, runs an obvious risk of finding itself, through its foreign trade, in the midst of the world crisis: the import of the necessary means of production will be cut oft, and a new factor of disorganization will enter as a wedge into the five year plan.

It is true that the industrial crisis in America and Europe might open a possibility of commercial and industrial credit for the Soviet Union. But this knife has also two blades: when the economic development has a correct rhythm, the foreign credits are able to ease and speed the progress of industrialization. In the face of the accumulated contradictions, they can only postpone the crisis, giving it later a double force.

However, we mention here the dangers that come from world economy, only in passing, and as a hypothesis. The central question of today is not in them, of course. Immeasurably greater and more direct are the dangers concentrated along the most important line of Soviet policy: the line of the relation between the town and the village.

The Bureaucracy and the Kulaks

For several years the Opposition has demanded the more decisive taxation of the rick layer of the peasantry in the interest of the industrial development. The official leadership denied the fact of accumulation of the rich peasants (Kulaks), and accused the Opposition of the intention of “robbing the peasant”. Meanwhile, the Kulaks had developed into a considerable figure, and, leading behind them the middle peasant, subjected the cities and industry to a starvation blockade. The height of the demonstration of the Kulak’s strength coincided with the moment of police dispersal of the Opposition (the beginning of 1928). The bureaucracy had to change its policy abruptly. A crusade was declared against the Kulaks. The measures for the limitation of tendencies of exploitation by the Kulaks, which the Opposition had proposed the day before, were found insufficient immediately after the beginning of the struggle with the Kulaks for grain.

The Kulaks, however, are not separated from the middle peasants by an impenetrable partition. In a setting of goods (trade) economy, the middle peasants automatically bring out from their midst a Kulak. The hail of administrative blows, inconsistent and panicky, directed against the Kulaks (and not against them only) cut short the way for the further development for the top layer of the middle peasantry. So-called disagreements with the peasantry became apparent. The peasantry, after the experience of the revolution, does not easily resort to the method of civil war. It rushes around agitatedly looking for another way out. Thus the “wholesale collectivism” was born.

The Soviet government patronizes, in full accord with its main purpose, the cooperative methods, both in trade and industry. Up to the very recent time, however, the productive cooperation in the country (collective farms) has occupied a very insignificant place in the agricultural economy. Only two years ago, the present Commissar of Agriculture, Jakovlev, wrote that collective farming, in view of the technical and cultural backwardness of our peasantry and its scattered character, will remain yet for a long period of time, “little islands in a sea of peasant private farms”. Meanwhile, unexpectedly for the leadership, at the very last period, collectivism developed a grandiose speed. It is enough to say that, according the Five Year plan, the collective economy was supposed to include at the end of the five year period, about 20% of the peasant farms. Meanwhile, the collectivism already, i.e., at the beginning of the second year, includes more than 50% of them. With this speed kept up, collectivism will cover all peasant farms in a year or two. It seems a great success. In actual fact – a great danger.

The Basis for Collective Agricultural Economy

A productive collectivism of agriculture presupposes a definite technical basis. Collective agricultural economy is, first of all, a large economy. The rational core of this economy is determined, however, by the character of the applied means and methods of production. With the aid of peasant plows and peasant nags, even all of them put together, it is not possible to create a large agricultural economy, even as it is not possible to build a ship out of a flock of fishing boats. The collectivisation of agricultural economy can be achieved only through its mechanization. From this follows that a general development of the industrialization of a country determines the possible speed of the collectivisation of its agricultural economy.

But in reality these two processes turned out to be separated. In spite of its fast development, the Soviet industry still is, and will for a long time yet, remain extremely backward. The high coefficients of its growth are to be considered in relation to the general low level. We must not forget for a moment that, even in case the intended plan should be fully carried out, the Soviet industry would be able to supply with tractors and other kinds of machinery only 20–25% of the peasant farms. And that only at the end of the five year period. That is the real scale of the collectivisation. While the Soviet Union remains isolated, the industrialization (that is, the mechanization and electrification, etc.) of agriculture could be thought of only as a prospect of a number of consecutive Five Year plans. The present leadership itself so looked at this matter till yesterday. But now it appears that the collectivisation has already fulfilled itself by 50%, and that during the next year it will be completed to 100% in a number of the most important agricultural regions.

It is perfectly clear that the present tempo of collectivisation is defined not by the productive but by the administrative factors. The sharp, and, as a matter of fact, panicky, change of the policy toward the Kulaks, as well as toward the middle peasant resulted, during the last year, in an almost complete liquidation of the NEP.

A peasant represents a small productive unit and as such cannot exist without a market. The liquidation of the NEP presented for the middle peasants the following alternatives: either to go back to the natural consuming economy, i.e. to disappear, or to become involved in a civil war for the market; or to try his hand at the new way in the collective economy.

In collectivisation the peasant finds not persecution but advantages: lesser taxes, supply of agricultural machinery on easy terms, loans etc. If at present the peasantry is crowding into collective economy, it is not because the collective economy has already shown its advantages. It is not because the State has already proved to the peasant (or at least to itself) that it has the possibility to reconstitute the peasant economy on the collective basis in the near future. It is because the peasantry, and first of all, its top layer, which was during a number of years of the liberal Stalin-Ustrialov policy, getting more and more into a mood of a capitalistic farmer, suddenly found itself in an impasse. The gate of the market was padlocked. The peasants stood frightened in front of it a while, and then rushed to the only open gate, that of collectivisation.

The leadership itself was not less surprised by the sudden rush of the peasants into the collective economy than the peasants were surprised by the liquidation of the NEP. But getting over its astonishment, the leaderhip created a new theory: the building of socialism – it enters its “third” stage: there is no more need for a market; in the near future the Kulak as a class will be liquidated.

The Bureaucrats About-Face

Essentially it is not a new theory. It is the old theory of socialism in one country; only the gears are shifted to the “third speed”. Formerly we have been taught that the building of socialism will go with a “snail’s pace” (Bucharin) and the Kulak will be painlessly “growing in” to socialism. Now the “snail’s pace” is replaced with a speed almost that of aviation. The Kulak does not “grow in” any more – not a chance at such a speed – the Kulak is simply being liquidated through the order of an administration.

The liquidation of the Kulak, seriously taken, is unquestionably the liquidation of the last capitalistic class. Without the basis of the Kulak, a jobber, a speculator, a city Nepman, cannot exist economically. It is even more so since the official program of the liquidation of the Kulaks as a class, includes in it the petty bourgeois elements of the city.

To include the entire peasantry in the socialistic economy means to transform the Soviet Union into a society without classes in two or three years. The society which has no classes does not need a government, especially such a concentrated form of government as a dictatorship. No wonder that some of the young “theoreticians” of the new course expressed an idea that it would be advisable to liquidate the Soviets, at least in the villages, and to replace them with the merely productive organizations, namely, with the administration of the local collective economy. These “theoreticians” were, however, brought to their senses by a declaration, from the top, that the dictatorship will be necessary for a long time yet. But why and what for it will be necessary to have a dictatorship after a complete liquidation of the Kulaks – that is to come in a year – the leaders did not explain. And it is not an accident either. Otherwise, they themselves would have to admit that the program of the speedy liquidation of the Kulaks, with the aid of peasant ploughs and old mares and wagons, is a bureaucratic adventure, spiced with theoretical charlatanism.

The Kulaks and Industrialization

In practice, the liquidation of the Kulaks led to merely administrative methods of the confiscation of the Kulak’s property, his house, his lot and to his exile. This policy has been carried out in a way which regards the Kulak as an entirely foreign body among the peasants, some kind of Invader, like a nomad or a Tartar. As a matter of fact, the Kulak represents only one of the stages of the development of the middle peasants. It is possible, of course, to liquidate every individual Kulak, It can be achieved with the aid of two well-armed policemen. But to. prevent the reappearance of Kulaks, at least in the collective economics, is much more difficult. For that, industrialization and the cultural revolution are necessary.

There are three types of collective economies in the Soviet Union, depending on the degree to which the means of production are in common use. These kinds are: the Partnerships, the Guilds and the Communes. In a Partnership the work in the fields is being done by private equipment: the labor is common, but the means of production belong to the individuals. In Guilds the most expensive machinery is the common property. And, finally, in Communes all means of production are the common property. The ways of dividing profits among the members of these types of economies differ according to the forms of ownership: from the capitalistic to the near-communistic way.

These three types of collective economies represent the three stages of the progress of collectivisation. The highest type demonstrates to the lower one its tomorrow.

The transition from one stage to another – its volume and its tempo – is fundamentally determined by the technical conditions of production. Therefore it is perfectly clear, that the wider is the scale of the present collectivisation, the more primitive form it will have to take, thus opening the way to capitalistic tendencies. But the last order of the Central Committee demands as far as possible, full common ownership of the means of production from the very beginning, in other words wholesale collectivisation supported mainly by peasant equipment, must occur in & form approximately between a Guild and a Commune. The contradiction is striking: the wider the scale of forced collectivisation, and consequently, the lower its technical basis, the higher is the type of social relations that the Utopian-bureaucratic leadership is trying to impose.

At the same time the question of intra-relation of the collective economies is not discussed in the press. To avoid the decisive social question concerning the distribution of profits, the leaders and the executors replace the Marxian analysis with an unbearable propagandistic noise.

The Class Character of the Collectives

It goes without saying, that if the state industry could supply the collective economies with state means of production, it would soon remove the difference between those collective economies and the state farms. It would transform the peasants into regular socialistic workmen for state wheat factories, and would once and forever, take the ground from under the feet of the Kulaks. But from such a regime we are as yet separated by many years. The prevailing majority of collective economies will be compelled, for several years, to fall back upon the livestock and other equipment of the peasants themselves.

Let us admit, however, that even under these conditions, collectivisation will show serious and direct advantages, capable of overcoming the individualistic tendencies of the peasants. Immediately, a new difficulty arises; not one of an administrative but of a social nature; not the difficulty inherent in methods of collective economy, but the class character of small producers: namely, the problem of distributing profits. Would a peasant who gave to the collective economy two horses, have a right to more profit than a farm-hand who brought with him only his two arms? If the percentage on the “capital” should not be credited, nobody would want to supply his own property for nothing. Then the state will meet with an insurmountable task: to equip anew all the collective economies with necessary machinery. Should the percentage on the “capital” be allowed, an economic differentiation of individuals within the collective economies will inevitably follow. And in case collective economies prove to have considerable advantages in comparison with individual farming, differentiation through them will develop faster than it did before.

The problem is not, however, exhausted by the matter of equipment alone. A family which has three workers, would want to receive more than a family with only one grown-up worker. Should a collective economy want to use the unexpended part of the earnings of its members as a loan to buy new machinery, or for a turn-over of capital, again it would have to pay a percentage. This in turn opens the way to more differentiation within the economy, and thus, to its possible transformation into a petty bourgeois cooperation, with the concentration of leadership in the hands of the well-off, and the majority of its members in a position close to that of a mere farm-hand

Such phenomena have already been observed in the past, when collective economies remained, with rare exceptions, entirely selective. They are even more inevitable in face of the wholesale collectivisation, which, by retaining the practical basis of a small farm, brings with it all the contradictions inherent in the small productive unit, and thus the inevitable reappearance of the Kulaks within the collective economies.

The Kulaks in Masquerade

It means that the next day after the official “liquidation of the Kulaks as a class” i.e., after the confiscation of the property of “named Kulaks” and their exile, the Stalinist bureaucracy will declare the Kulaks within the collective economies to be progressive or “civilized cooperators”, falsely quoting, of course, Lenin’s formula (Concerning Cooperation). The collective economy may become, in this case, only a new form of social and political disguise for the Kulaks. As director of such a masquerade, the present Commissar of Agriculture, Jakovlev, is perfect. Not in vain did he occupy himself for several years with statistical equilibristics to prove that the Kulak was invented by the Opposition. Not in vain was he, till yesterday, together with other officials, declaring that the Platform of the Opposition was a counter-revolutionary document – the Platform which demanded the speeding up of collectivisation on the basis of planned industrialization.

In the meantime the peasants react to the contradictions between the collectivisation and its insufficient technical basis in advance, by selling their livestock right and left before joining the collective economies. The official press is full of alarming reports of the mass destruction of working livestock and its sale to slaughter houses. The leadership reacts to this with orders, telegrams and threats. But it is obviously insufficient. A peasant does not know whether he will get credit for his horse or his cow, or in what way. He hopes that a collective economy will get a tractor from the state. In any case he does not see any reason why he should give his cow to the collective economy for nothing. A peasant is still a narrow realist. Seeing himself compelled to join the collective economy, he hurries to get his advantages from the liquidation of his individual property. The working livestock decreases. Meanwhile the state has no possibility to replace it with mechanical power, or at least with other stock of better quality. This prepares the exceptionally acute difficulties for the collective economies at the very beginning of their activities.

The Panicky Retreat of Stalin

It is not difficult to foresee that after the present insecure offensive, the panicky retreat will follow, elemental down below, and pretending to be a “maneuvering” policy above. The collective economies hastily built up, will either simply fall apart, or will begin their degradation. In a cruel internal struggle, the individual means of production will be liberated, thus opening the way to capitalistic tendencies. Irreproachable leadership will blame, of course, the executors of being “Trotskyists”, and will bring out from some hidden corner Stalin’s capitalistic-farmer’s formulae of 1924–25, in case the party will give the bureaucratic fourflushers the necessary time.

What the Bureaucrats Will Say

It is not difficult to foresee what reaction our analysis will arouse in the official circles. The government officials will say that we are gambling on a crisis. Scoundrels will add that we desire the fall of the Soviet government. People of Yaroslavsky’s type will explain that we write in the interest of Chamberlain. It is possible that the Mensheviks and liberals will drag out a score of sentences to prove that it is indispensable for Russia to come back to capitalism. The Communist officials will again establish the “solidarity between the Opposition and the Mensheviks”. So it happened before, so it will happen again. But that will not stop us. Intrigues pass, but facts remain. The Stalinist bureaucracy, after several years of opportunistic policy, is going through a period of short-lasting but acute madness of ultra-Leftism. The theory and practice of the “Third Period” carry with them equally destructive consequences within the Soviet Union as well as outside its borders.

Some people will say: the Opposition has changed places with the Apparatus. The Opposition accuses the Apparatus of super-industrialization while it itself pulls to the Right. Other thoughtful souls will add: the Right wing that used to accuse the Stalinists of super-industrialization and of “Trotskyism” has capitulated to Stalin, while the Left Opposition, it seems, is taking the point of view of the Right wing.

All such reasonings, comparisons and approximations can be foreseen beforehand. And it is possible to write in advance all articles and speeches that will be written and said on the subject. It is not difficult to disclose the superficiality of these reasonings.

The Opposition has never undertaken “to catch up and pass in quick time” the capitalist world. We demanded the speeding up of industrialization, because it is the only way to secure a leading position for the cities in their relation to the country, and thus to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Our Estimates for Industrialization

Our estimation of the possibilities of industrialization was immeasurably broader and bolder than that of the bureaucrats during all the time till 1928. But we never regarded the resources of industrialization as inexhaustible. We never thought that its tempo could be regulated by the administrative whip alone. We have always advanced, as a basic condition of industrialization, the idea of the necessity of a systematic improvement of the conditions of the working class. We have always considered collectivisation as dependent upon industrialization. We saw the socialist reconstruction of peasant economy only as a prospect of many years to come. We never closed our eyes to the inevitability of internal conflicts during the socialistic reconstruction of a single nation. To remove contradictions in country life is possible only by removing contradictions between the city and the country. This can be realized only through the world revolution. We never demanded, therefore, the liquidation of classes within the scope of the Five Year plan of Stalin and Krzhyzhanonsky. We demanded the limitation of the exploiting tendencies of the Kulaks, and the systematic cutting off of his accumulation in the interest of industrialization. For that we were exiled on the strength of article 58 of the Criminal Code.

The Marxian Opposition was denounced by the bloc of the Right and the Center. They separated for a while. But now they are united again. They have a common basis: nationalistic-socialism. Together they made a curve of 180 degrees over our heads. They transform more and more the problem of industrialization into a hazardous bureaucratic super-industrialization. They abolished the NEP, i.e., committed the very “crime” of which they falsely accused the Opposition and (for which our friends are still filling up the prisons and places of exile. The limitations of the Kulaks they replace with the official “liquidation”, which yesterday they have been ascribing to us and which we denied with clear Marxian conscience.

The Rights, who were afraid to take the most necessary steps ahead, now joined with the Center in a frantic rush “forward”. The bloc is restored and the snail’s pace is replaced by the speed of an airplane.

The Restoration of the Right-Center Bloc

For how many months will the present leadership whip up the Party on the road of ultra-Leftism? We think not for very long. The more frenzied the character of the present course, the sooner and more acutely its contradictions will come out. Then to the former 180 degrees, the leadership will add another curve, coming near to its starting point from another end. So it has been, so it will be again.

The tempo of industrialization must guarantee not the building of national socialism, but the reinforcement of the basis under the proletarian dictatorship, as well as the improvement of the conditions of the working masses of city and country. This is an entirely realistic task. It demands a combination of courage and prudence. It excludes both over-caution and wild recklessness.

It would be absurd to pretend that the Opposition has ready a priori a plan for a painless way out of the new dangers created by a combination of adventurism and opportunism. Having the best directions for following the road with a line of motor-cars will not help, if the head of the line has already succeeded in getting off the road into the mud. Then a whole system of measures ad hoc is necessary to bring the column back on the right road. We can assert that even the best driver staying at the wheel, would not be able to solve the problem. The collective effort of the Party and the class are necessary, with help from below, which presupposes the right and the possibility of collective, creative initiative.

At present, this measure seems most immediate and imperious: the strictest financial discipline. It is absolutely necessary to tighten as strong as possible the strings of the state’s purse, along both the budget and the credit lines. There is no doubt that this measure will prove painful from the start, as it will inevitably stop half-way a whole list of undertakings and enterprises. But this measure is unavoidable. Financial discipline must become the first step of a general economic discipline.

What to Do?

The problems briefly outlined in the present article will constitute the object of an extensive work which we hope to bring out in a few weeks. Therefore our treatment of the subject here is in the nature of a synopsis. In the same way we briefly answer the question: what to do?

The industry is racing towards a crisis, first of all on account of the monstrously bureaucratic methods used in the construction of the Plan. A Five Year plan can be constructed with the necessary proportions and guarantees only on condition of a free discussion of its tempos and terms; only with the participation in these discussions by all interested industries and by the working class; with all its organizations and first of all of the Party itself; only with an evaluation of the whole experiment of the Soviet economy of the last period, including the monstrous faults of the leadership.

The most important element of the Plan is not a question of what it is that the peasants want and are able to consume immediately, but what it is that they can save and accumulate. The question of the tempo of industrialization is not a matter of bureaucratic imagination, but one of the life and culture of the masses.

Therefore the Plan for building socialism can not be issued as an a priori bureaucratic order. It must be worked out and corrected in the same way in which the construction of socialism itself can only be realized, i.e., through the broad Soviet democracy. The decision, for instance, of what place should he given to the chemical industry in the plan for the near future, can be established only through an open discussion between different economical groups and branches of industry interested in chemical products. The Soviet democracy is not an abstract political demand and still less a moral one. It has become an economic necessity.

Save the Party and the Proletarian Dictatorship

The first condition for the success of socialism is, for us to conserve, or what is more correct, to save the Party. Without this basic historical instrument the proletariat is powerless. In the meantime the Stalinist bureaucracy is killing the Party. To the wholesale collectivisation in the country, it adds the wholesale admittance to the Party of whole plants and guilds. The vanguard is disappearing in the mass. The thought and the will of the Party is crushed underfoot. The bureaucracy has its hands completely free. The leadership is blind and uncontrollable. The Party will not be able to create a far-seeing leadership until it becomes the Party again. What must be done, then? Take from the usurpers’ apparatus the power which has been usurped from the Party. Who can do that? The proletarian nucleus of the Party, relying on the working class.

The second conditions is to conserve, or, what is more true, to restore the proletarian dictatorship. This is possible only in case the proletariat shows from year to year an improvement of its economic and cultural level, and the growth of its importance in the state and country, and if simultaneously the scissors of agricultural and industrial prices draw together, offering the peasants real advantages from the October revolution.

If the road to these swollen and insurmountable undertakings is not immediately barred, if the tempo is not brought back to reality, the overinflation might easily enlarge them in the future to a perilous size, with consequences from which not only the false reputation of the ignorant leadership will suffer, the reputation which is founded on moral inflation, but also the values of immeasurably greater Importance – the October revolution.

Restore the Comintern

Again and again we decidedly refused the task of building “in quick time” a national socialist society. Collectivisation as well as industrialization we bind by an unbreakable tie with the problems of world revolution. The problems of our economy are decided in the last account in the international arena. It is necessary to restore the Comintern. It is necessary to go over the revolutionary strategy of the post-Leninist period and to condemn all three of its stages; Zinoviev’s, Bucharin-Stalin’s and Stalin-Molotov’s stage. It is necessary to remove the present leadership, because it is precisely in the realm of international questions where the Stalinist faction reaches such limits of theoretical cynicism and practical licenses (laisse-faire) which are threatening the proletarian vanguard with numberless disasters. To refute the theory of national socialism and the practice of bureaucratic adventures, is the elementary premise for the renaissance of the Communist International,


1. We state with great satisfaction, the fact that our friends in the Soviet Union do not in the least deceive themselves about the Stalinist “ultra-Leftism”, which Right Mensheviks and Liberals call “Trotskyism”, realized by Stalin. We succeeded during recent months in exchanging a number of letters with our friends in different parts of the Soviet Union and found a common agreement on the attitude toward the new course. Some of the letters received by us are being published in extracts in the present number of the Bulletin of the Opposition (in Russian).

(The Militant will shortly publish a number of the letters here referred to by comrade Trotsky. – Editors)

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