Leon Trotsky

Prinkipo Letter


Transcribed for the Trotsky Internet Archive by Tom Condit in 1999.

The still isolated October Revolution now completes its fifteenth year. This simple figure witnesses to the whole world the gigantic strength native to the one proletarian state. No one of us, not even the most optimistic, had foreseen such enduring vitality. But that is not astonishing: since optimism regarding an isolated proletarian state would entail pessimism towards the international revolution.

Leaders and masses saw the October Revolution as but the first stage of the world revolution. In the year 1917, the idea of building socialism in isolated Russia was neither formulated, advanced, nor defended by anyone. In the following years also, the economic up-building was regarded, by the whole of the Party without exception, as the process of constructing a material foundation to the proletarian dictatorship: as making secure the economic alliance (smyohka) between town and country; and, finally, as the provision of points of support for the future socialist society, which could be built only upon an international basis.

The path of the world revolution has proved immeasurably longer and more devious than, fifteen years ago, we had hoped and expected. To the external difficulties (of which the historic role of reformism has shown itself as the most important) internal difficulties allied themselves: above all the policy, false in its foundations and fatal in its consequences, of the unworthy successors of the October 1917 leadership. The bureaucracy of the first workers’ state – unknowingly, but none the less decisively—hinders the bringing into existence of the second workers’ state. The bureaucratic knot must be untied or cut to release the advance to world revolution.

Though the dates of development have not kept within the outlines of perspectives set out by us, we had, however, accurately estimated the fundamental motive forces, and their laws. This also applies completely to the problem of the economic development of Soviet Russia. Modern productive forces cannot be locked within national confines by resolutions or incantations. National self-sufficiency is an ideal of Hitler, but not of Marx nor of Lenin. Socialism and national isolation are mutually exclusive. Today, as fifteen years ago, the program of a socialist society within one country is utopian and reactionary.

The economic successes of the Soviet Union are very great. But precisely at this fifteenth anniversary the antagonisms and the difficulties have reached a menacing acuteness. Uneven development, backwardness, disproportions, non-fulfillment of plans speak first and foremost: of wrong leadership. But not only of that. They also warn us that the building of a harmonious society is possible only by an unbroken series of experiments over a course of decades: and not otherwise than upon an international basis. The technical and cultural obstacles, the breach between town and country, the import and export difficulties—all testify to the fact that the October Revolution demands its continuation internationally. Internationalism is not a ritual usage; it is a matter of life or death.

There will be no lack of anniversary speeches and articles. The majority of them will come from those who, in October 1917, were irreconcilable adversaries of the proletarian revolution. By these gentlemen, we, Bolshevik-Leninists, will be termed “counter-revolutionaries”. It is not the first time that History has allowed herself such jokes, and we are not angry with her for that. For, all the same, even if with confusion and slowness, she nevertheless does her work.

And we shall do ours!

Oct. 13th, 1932

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Last updated on: 8 Dezember 2014