Leon Trotsky

Open Letter to the C.E.C.
of the U.S.S.R.

(March 1932)

Written: 1 March 1932.
Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 14 (Whole No. 110), pp. 1 & 3.
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.

With inevitable delay I learn from Pravda of your decision of February 20, 1932, depriving me and the members of my family sharing with me expulsion, exile and work, of the rights of Soviet citizenship and forbidding our entry to the U.S.S.R. Wherein my “counter-revolutionary” activity lies, the decision does not say. If we should discount the polemical rituals against “Trotskyism”, there were cited in the Soviet press only two instances of my supposed activity which could have been characterized as counter-revolutionary – had they actually occurred.

Pravda of July 2, 1931, carried with corresponding commentaries, a photostatic reproduction of the first page of the Polish newspaper Kurrier Pozdenny containing an article supposedly by me and directed against the Soviet Union. It is understood that none of you doubted for a moment that this article presents a forgery of a filthy sheet, well-known for its falsifications. The same newspaper shortly thereafter forged documents against Galician (Ukrainian) revolutionaries. Even the bourgeois press, such as the Manchester Guardian, at that time characterized the Kurrier Podzenny as a newspaper which has already distinguished itself by the forgery of an article by Trotsky. I demanded from Pravda a factual denial. It did not appear. Pravda consciously deceived millions of workers, red soldiers, sailors and peasants, lending support under its own name to the forgery of Polish Fascists. One cannot but recall that the author of these “disclosures” in the Pravda was none other than Yaroslavsky, in these days one of the supreme guardians of party morality. If after that he has suffered somewhat, it was at any rate not due to the forgery, but rather to its incompleteness.

The second example of my “counter-revolutionary” activity, preceded your decision only by a few weeks. On January 16, 1932, the Izvestia of the C.E.C. carried a dispatch from Berlin to the effect that I call for the support of the Bruening Government, acting in agreement with the German social democracy, and in particular with Karl Kautsky and Alfred Adler (?), and that a visa for entry into Germany is promised me for this. All this information, in which of course, it is clear to you, there isn’t a single word of truth, is taken from a Berlin reactionary, anti-Semitic sheet which one can hardly take into one’s hands, let alone quote. Not one newspaper in Germany attributed any significance to these creative labors of the German Pourishkevitches. Only Izvestia, a newspaper formally under yours, the Presidium’s control, published this acknowledgedly false information, consciously deceiving by it millions of citizens of the Soviet Union.

Thus you did not consider it possible to adopt your decision before two of the most responsible papers of the Soviet Union – the central organ of the party and the official organ of the government – had deceived the people with the aid of forgeries fabricated by Polish and German Fascists. This is a fact which can neither be erased nor obliterated.

But even after such preparations you found it necessary, or it was suggested to you, that you carefully mask your decision. This extraordinary measure against me especially prepared by the latest anti-Trotskyist campaign – I do not remember which one it is, in the numerical order, – you were forced to transform into a decree, directed supposedly against thirty-seven persons, including outside of members of my family, over 30 people who were dragged in exclusively for the purpose of political masking. You included in this list leaders of Menshevism expelled from the Soviet Union with my direct participation over ten years ago. Apparently it seemed to Stalin that this was a masterly move. In actuality the yellow threads stick out only too obviously. Pretending that only in 1932 it became clear to you just what kind of work Dan and Abramovitch do, you place the Presidium of the C.E.C. in a very uncomfortable position. You yourself cannot help realizing this, but also in this question you are forced to submit to the Stalinist bureaucracy which works ever more rudely, not troubling about the dignity of the highest organs of the Soviet power.

It is too repulsive for me to dwell on other traits and marks of Stalin’s fabricated list: In the intentional interchange of names for the purposes of additional “effect” it represents a document of the same moral level as the two above-mentioned forgeries which served as preparations for it.

A Thermidiorian Trick

You can connect the Left Opposition with Menshevism only in the order of a police alphabet. In the political order, your Centrism stands between the Left Opposition and Menshevism. No artifices will change that. The decision of February 20 represents a finished amalgam in the Thermidorian style. Centrism, oscillating between Marxism and national reformism, is forced – it cannot be otherwise – to combine and amalgamate its petty bourgeois enemies from the Right and its revolutionary opponents from the Left, in order to cover up by means of such an amalgam, its own emptiness. I wish to remind you that the first advice concerning the expulsion of the Left Oppositionists from the country, was given in print to Stalin by none other than Ustrialov. Your decision will go down in history with the Thermidorian stigma.

Stalin will tell you that it is not a question of “isolated” facts but that the decision is based on the whole counter-revolutionary activity of myself and of my family, in general, which needs no proofs. If this is so why was it necessary to resort to false documents and to introduce elements of an unworthy masquerade into the decision itself? He cannot wriggle out of this. The fact that after nine years of uninterrupted baiting – do not forget that the beginning of the struggle against “Trotskyism” coincided with the death of Lenin – you had to resort to borrowings from the filthy sheets of Polish and German chauvinism in order to pass this exceptional law against me and my family to hide under an amalgam – this fact alone discloses and strips bare to the bone the impotence of all the campaigns against “Trotskyism” and irreparably compromises your last creative act.

An Expression of Impotence

From the point of view of personal revenge – and this element as you well know, enters into all of Stalin’s combinations – the decree completely failed to reach its aim. This time Stalin thrust himself out too far from behind the stage and carelessly revealed his real political and moral size. If he forced you to issue – not without timid resistance, I know, – this unworthy decree of ostracism, it was only because the profound correctness of the Left Opposition was revealed on all questions without exception, domestic as well as international, on which we waged a struggle all these years. The seemingly aggressive gesture of Stalin is impotent and even pitiful self-defence.

The Opposition fought against the Stalinist faction for industrialization, for planning, for higher tempos of economy, against the stake on the kulak, for collectivization. From the year 1923 on, the Opposition demanded the preparation of a five year plan and itself indicated its basic elements. All the economic successes of the Soviet Union were theoretically and partially organizationally, prepared by the Left Opposition. Your president Kalinin, who supported Stalin from the Right against the Left Opposition, knows more about it than any one else. Yet, in April 1927, Stalin, in the struggle against me, with the support of Molotov, Kalinin, Voroshilov and others, declared that “we need the Dnieprostroys as a mujhik needs a phonograph.” In this formula is contained a whole historic philosophy. For the struggle against it and for its defeat, Rakovsky is chained down to Barnoul, hundreds and thousands of unbending revolutionaries fill the places of detention and exile, several Bolshevik-Leninists – are shot.

(To be continued)


return return return return return

Last updated on: 31.5.2013