Leon Trotsky

The Bloc of the Left and the Right


Source: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 1, 1 January 1931, p. 6.
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.

Revealing the real or fictitious bloc of Syrzov with Lominadze as a bloc of the Right and “Left” (?) elements, Pravda repeats: “We have already witnessed such unprincipled blocs many times, beginning with the August bloc.” That the August bloc, calculated to reconcile the Bolsheviks with the Mensheviks, was a mistake, is irrefutable. But this took place in 1913 for a period of two or three months – since then much water has passed under the bridge. But Stalin, in March 1917, on the eve of Lenin’s arrival, advocated a fusion of the Bolshevik Party with that of Tseretelli. Under the influence of Stalin and his like, the majority of the social democratic organizations during the February revolution had a united character, that is, they consisted of the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. In such proletarian centers as Ekaterinburg, Perm, Tula, Nizhni-Novgorod, Sermovo, Kolomna, Yusovka, the Bolsheviks separated from the Mensheviks only at the end of May 1917. In Odessa, Nikolaev, Elizavetgrad, Poltava, and other points in the Ukraine, the Bolsheviks did not have any independent organization as late as. the middle of June 1917. In Baku, Zlatousto, Bezhitsko, Kostroma, the Bolsheviks split decisively from the Mensheviks at the end of June. Is it in place here to recall the August bloc of 1913?

Stalin and the Bloc with the Right But there is no need to look back to Stalin’s position in 1917. The fictitious Lefts (Lominadze, Schatzkin, etc.), who are really Centrists in despair, are accused of a bloc with Bucharin, Rykov and Tomsky. They see Bucharin’s chief guilt – and correctly so – in his advocacy of the Kulak growing into socialism. But it is precisely for the exposure of this theory and the practice flowing from it, that the Opposition was expelled from the Party. And Stalin was in a bloc with Bucharin and Rykov against the Left. Opposition – not for two or three months, but for eight years – precisely at the time when Bucharin developed the theory of the Kulak growing into socialism, when Rykov relied on the backward village and resisted industrialization. On whose part, then, was there a bloc with the Rights? Lominadze, Schatzkin, Sten and others are put forward as Lefts, “Trotskyists” and “semi-Trotskyists”. All of them, however, in a bloc with Stalin wrote into the history of the struggle against Trotskyism a not very glorious but unusually lucid page. Are they really in a bloc with the Right? In what is this bloc expressed? What is its program? The Party knows nothing about it. The shamelessness of Pravda in inner-Party falsifications is unexampled, and has its source in the days of Bucharin. Pravda dresses up some as Lefts, others as Rights, combines the ones with the others – it has a free (alas, illiterate) hand in everything. But the Party is unable to verify any of it.

The attempt to base the legend of a bloc of the Left Opposition with the Right on ideological considerations and not only on new revelations of the G.P.U., has a very sorry and unwise appearance.

The Problem of the Regime

In the first place, says the Stalinist press, the Rights as well as the “Trotskyists” are not satisfied with the regime and accuse it of bureaucratism. As if, by the way, anybody in the world could be satisfied with the regime of spurious plebiscites and inevitable double-handedness which grows with just as insurmountable a force as the isolation of the Stalinist top from the Party and the working class. As for us, Bolsheviks-Leninists, we never looked upon Party democracy as freedom for Thermidorian views and tendencies. Party democracy, on the contrary was trampled underfoot in the defense of the latter. By the restoration of Party democracy we understand the conquest by the real revolutionary proletarian core of the Party of the possibility to curb the bureaucracy and really to purge the Party, to purge the Party of Thermidorians in principle as well as of the unprincipled and careerist brethren who vote according to the command from above; not only from the tendencies of chvostism but also from the numerous factions of flunkeyism, whose name should not be derived from Greek or Latin but from the truly Russian word for flunkey in its contemporary, bureaucratized and Stalinized form. This is only we need democracy!

The Rights have suddenly come to need democracy in order to have the possibility to conduct a consistently opportunist policy which irritates all the classes and disorganizes the Party. But a consistently Right wing policy, no matter what the intentions of Bucharin, Rykov and Tomsky may be, is the policy of Thermidor. Where is the .ground here for a bloc, or even the shadow of a bloc?

But, says the Stalinist press, the Left Opposition is “against” the Five Year Plan in four years and “against” complete collectivization.

Stalin’s Juggling of Figures

Yes, the Left Opposition has not experienced the dizziness which is inevitable for the Centrist bureaucracy that has made a turn of 180 degrees. When the Party press, in the spring of this year, blew the trumpets about a sixty percent collectivization of the peasantry, we exposed this nonsense, self-deceit and deception – before the dizziness was attested to by the responsible director of the zig-zag. Stalin very soon made a rebate of twenty percent, expressing the hope that forty percent of the peasants would remain in the collective farms. Pravda of very recent date writes that individual farms embrace three-fourths of the peasantry, so that to the share of the collective and Soviet farms are attributed only twenty-five percent. We see how shaky are all these data, and how, by one stroke of the pen, tens of millions of peasants are thrown from the camp of socialism into the camp of petty bourgeois commodity production, which nourishes capitalism.

If the turn back from the general line consists of 140 percent (25 percent of those who are now supposed to be in the collectives are what is left of the 60 percent who were driven out of them!) then it is clear that in the place of the 140 percent turn there is room for a Left and a Right, not to speak of Stalin himself who came out against the maximalism of his own faction after the fact.

But no matter how many peasants are actually collectivized now, twenty, twenty-five or thirty percent, we do not consider this sector, as a whole, “socialist”, because the collectives, without the necessary industrial base, will inevitably produce Kulaks from their midst. To represent complete collectivization on the basis of peasant stock as socialism means to revive the Bucharinist theory of the Kulak growing into socialism, only in an administratively masked and therefore a still more malignant form.

We are for industrialization and collectivization. We are against bureaucratic charlatanry against reactionary Utopias in their openly Thermidorian as well as in their masked Centrist form. Where is the ground here for a bloc with the Right? But we are also against the distorted, arbitrary, unprincipled, bureaucratic purely Stalinist methods of punishment of the Right because we want a general delimitation along the whole Party line and not apparatus chicanery, exile, and the noose. It is precisely for this general delimitation, that we need, above all democracy. Where is the ground here for a bloc with the Right?

But if it should appear – which is not the case – that there is a tactical coincidence or an episodic crossing of the two differing, irreconcilably hostile strategical lines, would that bring nearer the lines themselves? When at the conference of 1907, Lenin voted with the Mensheviks – against all the Bolsheviks, including, it is understood Stalin too – for participation in the Third Duma, did that bring Lenin closer to the Mensheviks?

Finally, are the disputed questions exhausted by the tempo of industrialization and collectivization in the coming year? What a sorry administrative-national limitedness! We Marxists do not construct socialism in a single country, like Stalin and Bucharin. We stand on the position of international socialism. Where is our common ground with the Right?

What the Right Wing Thinks

The American organization of the Right wing (Lovestone and Co.) recently declared in a resolution of principles that with the Comintern that is, with Stalin and Molotov, they have only tactical differences, but with the Left Opposition – not only tactical but also programmatic differences. This is absolutely correct. The Brandlerites in Germany, who constantly defend the economic policy of Stalin-Bucharin against us as the only possible one have the same position. Or perhaps, the Workers and Peasants Partyites in France, who voted for the resolution of the Sixth Congress are closer to us than to the official policy of the Comintern, which they supported against us until yesterday? The Right Opposition in Czechoslovakia establishes its solidarity in all basic questions with the Brandlerites, and declares the Left Opposition to be a “caricature of the Comintern” that is, a worse edition.

All these Right wing organizations stand on the ground of the present program of the Comintern, elaborated by Stalin and Bucharin that is, the Centrists and the Rights. We reject this program because on the most basic points it betrays Marxism and Bolshevism. It is a program of national socialism and not Marxian internationalism, out of which it tears the scientific and practical basis by its theory of socialism in one country. On the question of colonial revolutions and the role of the bourgeoisie in them, this program elucidates the treacherous policy which was conducted in China by the bloc of Stalin and Bucharin, including also their alliance with Chiang Kai-Shek. Under the treacherous slogan of “democratic dictatorship” in opposition to the dictatorship of the proletariat, the program of the Comintern is preparing new defeats for the young proletariat of the colonies. For this program the bloc of the center and the Right is responsible. This bloc cannot be called the “August” bloc, because it did not endure for one or two months, as in 1913, but for eight years (1923–1930) and even after the formal semi-break still survives in the most authoritative document: in the program of the Comintern. And these people, who have squandered their basic Marxist principles in unprincipled machinations, have the audacity to speak of our bloc with the Right!

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Last updated on: 14.2.2013