Written: 6 August 1932.
Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 35 (Whole No. 131), 27 August 1934, p. 1.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2014. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.
The physical attack of the Stalinites against the Bolshevik-Leninists in the Salle Bullier at Paris evokes, alongside with intense indignation, a feeling of the deepest shame for the present leadership of the Comintern. For it is not a matter of rank and file Communists, not of workers – these would never debase themselves with such abominations! – but of a centralized bureaucracy which is carrying out the demands of its higher staff. The aim: to provoke within the Communist ranks such furious embitterment that all arguments of reason would lose their force. Only in this way can the Stalinist bureaucracy yet save itself from the criticism of the Left Opposition. What frightful degeneration!
The history of the Russian revolutionary movement is particularly rich in bitter factional struggles. For three and a half decades I have observed this struggle very closely and participated in it. I cannot recall a single instance in which differences of opinion, not only within the ranks of the Marxists but also between Marxists, Populists and Anarchists, were settled by the organized reign of the fist. In the year 1917 Petrograd seethed with continual meetings. At first as an insignificant minority, then as a strong party and finally as the overwhelming majority, the Bolsheviki conducted an annihilating campaign against the Social Revolutionists and the Mensheviki I cannot recall a single meeting where the political struggle was replaced by fist fights. I have not been able to find a single indication of such an instance in the press of that time, although in the course of the last two years I have been studying the history of the February and October revolution thoroughly. What the proletarian mass wanted was to listen and to understand. What the Bolsheviki wanted was to convince. Only in this manner can a party be trained and the revolutionary class united about it.
In the year 1923, Ordjonikidze, in the heat of the disputes between the Caucasian Stalinists and Leninists, struck one of his opponents in the fact. Lenin lay seriously ill in the Kremlin. The news of Ordjonikidize’s conduct literally shook him up. The fact that Ordjonikidze stood at he head of the party apparatus in the Caucasus only magnified his guilt in Lenin’s eyes. Lenin sent his secretaries Glasser and Fotieva to me several times urging the expulsion of Ordjonikidze. Lenin recognized and foresaw in Ordjonikidze’s thuggery a whole school and an entire system: the school and the system of Stalin. On the same day Lenin wrote his last letter to Stalin in which he declared that he was breaking off all “comradely relations” with him. A whole series of great historic causes has since led to the triumph not only within the C.P. of the Soviet Union but also in the Comintern, of the school of “rudeness” and of “disloyalty”. The abomination of Bullier is its indubitable and unadulterated expression.
Nine-tenths of the apparatus people regard the Stalinist system with growing alarm if not with direct disgust But they cannot tear themselves free from its claws. Each of the decisive links in the chain has its Semards and its Yaroslavskys, as well as its Bessedovskys and Agabekoffs. From slander and falsifications these gentlemen have now gone over to organized physical attack. The initiative comes from Stalin. The command is now being transmitted to all sections of the Comintern. Will it be of any avail? No, it will not. The necessity of ever stronger means proves the ineffectiveness of the preceding struggles against the Bolshevik-Leninists.
Tremendous events are taking place in Germany. The Comintern maintains its silence. The leaders appear to have filled their mouths full with water. Do not the German events require the immediate convocation of a world congress of the Comintern? Of course, they do. But at the congress an answer will have to be given. The Stalinists, however, have nothing to say. By their mistakes, their zigzags and crimes they have completely devastated themselves. To remain silent, to go into hiding, to wait passively for the outcome – therein lies, at present, the whole policy of the Stalinist faction.
But the Bolshevik-Leninists will not be silenced. And they will not allow others to remain silent. Despite their small number, our French comrades are giving evidence of splendid perseverance in unfolding the burning questions of the proletarian world revolution before the workers. By pouncing upon them like hooligans, the Stalinists have only paid tribute to their revolutionary energy. Just as soon as the Bolshevik-Leninists in Moscow warned against Chiang Kai-Shek, the Stalinist bureaucracy incited against them, persecuted and smashed the Bolshevik-Leninists. Just as soon as the Parisian Bolshevik-Leninists beat the alarm against Fascism, the Stalinist clique is organizing to smash the Bolshevik-Leninists. These facts will not remain unpunished. From great facts the party learns, the class learns.
We are not, naturally, making the rank and file Communists responsible for the crimes of the Stalinist bureaucracy. The Bolshevik-Leninists will not change their position toward the French Communist party nor toward the Comintern. The attempt to erect walls of hatred between ourselves and the millions of Communists in the entire world will not succeed. That justice is on our side, is patent. The workers are listening with ever greater attentiveness to our words.
The more the Stalinists lose their heads, the more perseverance the Leninists will show in their activity. Under our criticism, under the sweep of our arguments the bureaucracy is twisting and squirming. All the more apparent, therefore, is our correctness and our force. Let us double, treble and decuple our offensive!
Last updated on: 31.12.2013