Leon Trotsky

September Plenum of C.I.

Some Fleeting Marginal Observations on the 12th Plenum

(October 1932)

Written: 13 October 1932.
Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 45, 5 November 1932, 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.

1. – The report on revolutionary strategy was read by Kuusinen. His role in, the Finnish revolution of 1918 shows he is just the right man to be the strategist of the international proletariat.

2. – The principle theses declare again, “The relative stabilization of capitalism has come to an end.” In 1932? But didn’t the Sixth World Congress already speak of the end of the stabilization? The Tenth Plenum of the. E.C. of the C.I. proclaimed the ‘third period,’ that is to say, the period which leads directly to the proletarian insurrection. Now we are told – without any comment – that the stabilization of capitalism has again come to an end. That makes how many times?

3. – As to China, it says, “The soviet revolution has triumphed over a large part of its territory.” A revolution can be bourgeois or proletarian. Which of the two (are we to understand in the present instance? Why does the C.I. cover the class content of the revolution with its soviet form?

4. – “The new world imperialist war has become an immediate danger.” The Sixth World Congress already had declared the danger of war to be immediate. For over four years the E.C. of the C.I. has been repeating the same formula In any case, it is closer to a reality now than in 1928. But exactly what does the word “immediate” mean in the language of the C.I.?

5. – The Communist Parties are under the obligation “of opposing real struggles against the war preparations to the abstract and hypocritically pacifist declarations of the social-democracy.” That is right. But in that case how about the no less abstract and no less hypocritical declarations of the Congress of Amsterdam? It is remarkable: not a word on the Amsterdam masquerade in the resolution. Are they already ashamed of their own child?

6. – The theses give learned definitions of the different forms of fascism. They say: “The social-fascists prefer the moderate and ‘legal’ application of bourgeois violence ...; they defend its democratic facade and try to keep as much as possible of its parliamentary forms.” Now we understand. A square is a triangle whose four sides intersect at right angles.

7. – As to France, they say that while the C.P. and the revolutionary trade unions have been weakened, to make up for it a strong revolutionary movement against war has been developed. But a movement against war, when the proletarian vanguard has been weakened, necessarily, becomes a petty-bourgeois movement and becomes transformed to the benefit of reformist pacifism.

8. – The German C.P. is advised to strengthen its struggle “against nationalism and chauvinism for proletarian internationalism.” That is right. But how about the program of “national liberation”?

9. – The duty is placed before the Polish C.P. of destroying the influence of the Socialist Party on the masses,” and of “overcoming its weaknesses in the big works, among the railroad men, in the army.” No advice could be simpler: destroy the enemy and become all-powerful Kuusinen forgets only to show how to do it.

10. – For Spain, the advice is to strive toward “the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry under the form of Soviets.” How this regime is different from the dictatorship of the proletariat is not explained, as usual.

11. – For England, as incidentally for all the other countries, the advice is to realize the united front from below. In other words, the Plenum of the E.C. of the C.I. has again approved the renunciation of the policy of the united front.

12. – For Manchuria, it is proposed to create, on the basis of the guerrilla war, “an elected popular government.” A democratic slogan? Why is it given so vaguely? Why only for Manchuria? Why is it not applicable to all China?

13. – The Indian C.P. is assigned the task of “liberating the masses from the influence of the National Congress.” But at the same time, the E.C. of the C.I. fraternizes with Patel through the Amsterdam Congress and artificially increases the authority of the National Congress.

14. – In the organizational field, the Plenum advises “the resolute liquidation of the excessive centralism, the system of pure and simple command,” etc. This advice does not sound bad from the mouth of the E.C. of the C.I., which for the fifth year now has failed to call an International Congress and commands by usurping the name of the International.

15. – The E.C. of the C.I. insists (!)! that the “Communist Youth be transformed into a genuine mass organization.” Magnificent advice. But why do the youth organizations vegetate and decay in spite of all the advice of Kuusinen ? Just because they have not been freed from his advice.

16. – In conclusion, the theses advise one and all to struggle for the purity of the doctrine on the basis of “Stalin’s letter.” Poor purity! Poor doctrine! Poor C.I.!

17. – Soviets are mentioned in the theses in passing, in connection with China and Spain. As to the other countries, in spite of the revolutionary perspectives set up in the theses, Soviets in general are not mentioned; in particular the slogan of Soviets is not raised before the German proletariat. It is not difficult to find the explanation. In Germany, as in the majority of advanced countries, real Soviets can only be created on the basis of a broad and audacious united front policy. Ultimatism and the slogan of Soviets cannot be reconciled with each other. By renouncing the united front, the Stalinists renounce the Soviets.

Prinkipo, Oct. 13, 1932


return return return return return

Last updated on: 9 December 2014