Notes of a Journalist

Concerning Zinoviev, Manuilsky, and “Radovoy”


Written: 1930.
Source: The Militant, Vol. III No. 27, 26 July 1930, p. 5.
Transcription/HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
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Zinoviev and the Evils of Printing

In Number 5 of the Bolshevik of this year, Zinoviev once more “fuses” with the Party – by that single method now accessible to him. Zinoviev writes:

“In 1922, Trotsky predicted that ‘the real rise of socialist’ economy will become possible only after the victory of the proletariat in the most important countries of Europe.’ This prediction has not been confirmed, just as many other predictions of the author mentioned. The real rise of our socialist economy became possible already prior to the victory of the proletariat in the most important countries of Europe. The real rise is developing before our very eyes.”

The same Zinoviev, beginning with the same year 1922, accused Trotsky of “super-industrialism”, that is, of demanding a too speedy industrial rise. How should this be reconciled?

The Opposition was accused of non-belief in socialist construction and at the same time that it wants to rob the peasantry. If that were so, why did it have to “rob” the peasantry? In reality, the Opposition spoke of compelling the Kulak and the upper layer of the peasantry in general to bring sacrifices for socialist construction – the one which the Opposition was supposed “not to have believed”. A fiery belief in socialist construction was manifested only by those who struggled against “super-industrialism” and proclaimed the empty slogan “face towards the village”. Zinoviev proposed to the peasantry, instead of cotton prints and a tractor, a pleasant smiling “face”.

In 1930 as well as in 1922 Trotsky considers that “the real rise of socialist economy in Russia will become possible only after the victory of the proletariat in the most important countries of Europe.” Only it must be understood – and this is not so difficult, after all – that by socialist economy we have here in mind precisely socialist economy and not the contradictory transitory economy of the NEP and that by a real rise we understand such a rise which will completely reconstruct the habitual and cultural conditions of life of the toiling masses, destroying not only the “queues”, O wise Zinoviev, but also the contradiction between the city and the village. Only in this sense can a Marxist speak about a real rise in socialist economy.

After his struggle with “Trotskyism” in 1923–1926, Zinoviev in July 1926, officially admitted that the basic core of the Opposition of 1923 was correct in its prognosis. And now for the sake of fusion with Yaroslavsky, Zinoviev once more rushes into all the difficulties and warms over the old dishes.

It is worth while therefore, to recall that this same Zinoviev signed, and in part wrote on the question he now touches, in the Platform of the Opposition:

“When we, in the words of Lenin, say that in order to construct a socialist society in our country a victory of the proletarian revolution is needed in one or more of the advanced capitalist countries, and that the final victory of socialism in one country and a backward one at that as impossible, as Marx, Engels and Lenin proved, the Stalin group ascribes to us the view that we ‘do not believe’ in socialism and socialist construction in the U.S.S.R.” (Platform of the Bolshevik-Leninists, page 72)

Not badly said, is it? How to explain these scurryings from falsifications to repentance and from repentance to falsifications? On this point the Platform of the Opposition does not leave us without an answer:

“... The petty bourgeois tendency within our own Party cannot struggle against our Leninist views otherwise than by ascribing to us things we never thought or said.” (ibid., page 72)

The last lines were not only signed by Zinoviev, but, unless we are mistaken, were written by him. Truly Joseph Gutenberg has rendered some people a very poor service. Particularly when they have to “fuse” with the other “Joseph” who, it is true, did not invent printing, but works very conscientiously at its destruction.

Has France Entered the Period of Revolution?

The Left turn in the C.I. began in 1928. in July, the “third period” was proclaimed. A year later, Molotov declared that France, together with Germany and Poland, had entered a period of “the greatest revolutionary events”. All this was deducted from the development of the strike movement. No figures, no facts were cited. They limited themselves to two or three examples taken from the last numbers of the newspapers. We took (see Militant, No. 29–33) the question of the dynamics of the French labor movement in the light of figures and facts. The picture given by Molotov, prompted by the words of others (the role of the prompters, we assume, was played by Manuilsky and Kuusinen) in no way coincided with reality. The strike wave of the last two years had a very limited character, even though it revealed a certain rise compared to the preceding year, which was the lowest of the decade. The weak development of the strike struggle in the last two years is all the more remarkable because France during 1928–1929 went through an undeniable industrial revival, clear enough in the metal industry where the strike movement was the weakest of all.

One of the reasons for the fact that the French workers did not utilize the favorable conjuncture is undoubtedly the extremely superficial character of the strike strategy of Monmousseau and the other pupils of Losovsky. It became clear that they did not know the state of industry in their own country. As a substitute for that they characterized as offensive, revolutionary and political strikes the isolated, defensive economic strikes primarily in the light industries.

This is the essential part of the analysis we made in our work on the “third period” in France. Thus far we have not seen a single article in which our analysis is submitted to criticism but evidently a very acute need for such a criticism is felt. There is no other way of explaining the appearance in Pravda of an enormous feuilleton, On the Strike Strategy of the Generalissimo Trotsky, where there are frivolous rhymes, quotations from Juvenal, and in general fathomless wit, but not a word about a factual analysis of the struggle of the French proletariat (for the last decade), particularly for the last two years. The article which evidently belongs to the pen of one of the recent gifts of the “third period” is signed modestly Radovoy (rank and filer).

The author accuses Trotsky that he knows strike defense but does not recognize the offensive. Let us assume that Trotsky is guilty of that. But is this a reason for renouncing an offensive struggle in the metal industry under the most favorable conditions and at the same time designate petty, defensive strikes as offensve?

The author accuses Trotsky of not distinguishing capitalism of the epoch of rise from capitalism of the epoch of decline. Let us assume that this is so. Let us forget about the struggle over the relation of the the crisis of capitalism and its cyclical crises which went on in the Comintern in the period of its Third Congress, when live thought was pulsing in the Comintern. Let us assume that Trotsky forgot all of that, and that Radovoy absorbed it all. But does this give an answer to the question whether France entered for the past two years into the period of decisive revolutionary events, or not? This is precisely what the Comintern has proclaimed. Has this question any significance or not? It would seem that it has. But what does the author of the witty feuilleton say on this point? Not a word. France and its labor movement are completely disregarded. As a substitute, this Radovoy proves that Trotsky is a “mis[lead]er” and that he serves the bourgeoisie.

Is that all? Yes, nothing more than that. But, a well-meaning reader will object, can so much be expected from a young Radovoy? He still has a chance to grow. After all it is not he who creates the trade union policy for France. For that we have serious revolutionary strategists, tested in struggle, as for instance, the general secretary of the Profintern, Losovsky.

Correct – we will reply to the reader – all this would be convincing if ... if only the Radovoy were not Losovsky himself. And in the meantime, the matter stands thus: the bouquet of soured light-mindedness and flaccid wit is such that it cannot deceive us.

The leading general, under the modest pseudonym, defends his own acts. With rhymes he drapes the calamities he inflicts upon the labor movement with his leadership, in connection with that, he assails the Left Opposition with all the magnificence of his vengeful irony: it can, don’t you see, be completely seated on one sofa. Let the Radovoy investigate: Are there any sofas in the jails that are filled with Oppositionists? But if they really were so few in number as Lovosky would have it, this would not frighten us at all. At the beginning of the war, the revolutionary internationalists of all Europe went to Zimmerwald on a few carriages. We never feared remaining in the minority. It is Losovsky who, during the war, was very much afraid of remaining in the minority and therefore defended in print the Longuetists, with whom he tried by all means to unite us, against us. During the October revolution, Losovsky was afraid that the Bolshevik Party would be “isolated” from the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries and he therefore betrayed the Party which he temporarily joined, and united with its enemies in the most critical period. But even later on, when Losovsky did join the victorious Soviet power, his quantitative evaluations were just as little reliable as his qualitative ones.

After the victory of which he was not in the least guilty, Losovsky, putting the minus signs where he had previously had his pluses, at the time of the Fifth Congress of the Comintern, declared in a triumphant manifesto that the French Socialist party “no longer exists.” and in spite of all our protests against this shameful light-mindedness, retained this contention when it became clear that the international social democracy nevertheless does exist, Losovsky together with his teachers, crawled on all fours through the whole policy of the Anglo-Russian Committee and was in a union with the strike-breakers during the greatest strike of the British proletariat. With what triumph – with a triumph over the Opposition – did Losovsky, at the session of the Plenum of the Central Committee, report the telegram in which Citrine and Purcell generously agreed to converse with the representatives of the All-Russian Trade Union Central Committee, after they had crushed not only the general strike but also the strike of the coal miners.

After the destruction of the Chinese revolution and the disintegration of the organizations of the Chinese proletariat, Losovsky, at the Plenum of the Central Committee (where he came as a guest because Stalin had not as yet decided to bring him in as a member) reporting the fantastic data about the conquests of the Profintern, gave the figure of the workers organized in the trade unions of China as three million. Everybody gasped. But Losovsky did not even wink an eye. He operates just as lightly with millions of organized workers as he does with rhymes for the coloring of articles. This explains sufficiently why Losovsky’s witticisms about the sofa on which the whole Opposition can be seated do not in the least overwhelm us with their magnificence. Sofas as well as furniture in general are undoubtedly in abundance in the offices of the Profintern, but unfortunately there are no ideas there. And it is ideas that conquer, because they win the masses ...

“But why did Losovsky sign ‘Radovoy’?” we hear a distrustful or a doubtful voice. There are two reasons: a personal and a political. The personal role of Losovsky is such that it is not of advantage to him to expose himself to blows. In delicate moments of ideological clashes he prefers modest anonymity, just as in the sharp, acute hours of the revolutionary struggle he is inclined to solitary deliberations. This is the personal reason. As we have said, there is also a political reason. Had Losovsky signed Losovsky, everybody would say: Is it possible that in the questions of the trade union movement, we really have nothing better than this? But seeing the signature of Radovoy (rank and filer) under the article, the well-meaning reader retains the possibility of saying: We must admit that Radovoy is a sorry scribbler. But nevertheless we still have Losovsky.

Another New Talent

Only a few months have elapsed since it was declared throughout the Comintern by command of Molotov that the ideological struggle against “Trotskyism” must be considered at an end. Well? The publications of the Comintern, beginning with the publications of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, are once more devoting an innumerable amount of columns and pages to the struggle against “Trotskyism.” Even the most honorable Pokrovsky, who is burdened with the labors of instructing the youth, has been moved to the front trenches. This corresponds approximately to the period in the imperialist war when Germany resorted to the mobilization of those forty-five and fifty years old. This fact alone would suggest serious fears for the condition of the Stalinist front. Fortunately, the Nestor of the Marxist historiography has not only grand-children but even great grand-children. One of them is S. Novikov, the author of an article on the autobiography of L.D. Trotsky. This young talent immediately established a record by showing that one can fill one and a half printed pages without presenting a single fact or formulating a single idea. Such an exceptional gift could be developed only under the direction of an experienced master. And we involuntarily ask ourselves: Was it not Manuilsky, in the hours free from the direction of the Comintern, that nourished Novikov at his breast, this blessed baby of the “third period”? Or perhaps Manuilsky had no need of bringing up the young talent? Maybe Manuilsky simply made use ... of his own talents? We will not tire the reader any longer: Novikov is Manuilsky. The same one who in 1918 wrote that Trotsky – no more, no less! – liberated Russian Bolshevism from national limitedness and made it a world ideological current. Now, Manuilsky writes, that Stalin freed Bolshevism from Trotskyism and by that definitely strengthened it as an ideological current of the solar system.

But are we not mistaken in identifying the little Novikov with the great Manuilsky? No, we are not mistaken. We did not come to this conclusion lightly, and not by guessing, but through zealous investigation, to be exact: we read five lines at the beginning of the article and five lines at the end. More than that, we hope, nobody will demand of us. But why should Manuilsky hide under the signature of Novikov, somebody will ask? Isn’t this clear? To have people think: If Novikov is so invincible then how must Manuilsky himself be! By the way, we will not repeat ourselves : The motives are the same for which Losovsky turned into Radovoy. These people are in need of reincarnation, like shiny pants – of a chemical cleaning.

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Last updated on: 21.10.2012