Leon Trotsky

Extract from Letter to the National Sections


Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 7 (Whole No. 103), 13 February 1932, p. 4.
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.

1. I have received No. 5 of the organ of our Bulgarian friends, Osvobzhdenie (Emancipation). This number contains truly astounding material of the maltreatment of our comrades in the prisons by the Stalinists imprisoned there. It appears that a group of supporters of the Left Opposition has been formed against the prisoners in some of the Bulgarian penitentiaries. Against them, a rabid and thoroughly poisoned, that is, a purely Stalinist baiting is carried on, which is fostered by bureaucrats from the outside. One need not doubt that among the incarcerated Stalinists there are not a few honest and upright revolutionists. But when in the name of the Comintern they are told all sorts of atrocities about the Left Opposition, atrocities, which they cannot verify in prison, they pour out their prison hatred upon the Left Oppositionists, that is, they take the road of least resistance. The demand of the Oppositionists that these accusations be stated openly and verified, leads to new calumnies and physical collisions.

In Plovdiv (Phillipopel) a few comrades were heavily wounded, the Stalinists applying to the state prosecutor with a complaint against our comrades who were thereupon completely locked into punitive cells. Concerning this incident a letter of comrade D. Gatschev, addressed to the state prosecutor, on October 16, 1931, is published in Osvobozhdenie. An excellent document which – as the editorial board correctly writes – bespeaks the high proletarian morale of our incarcerated friends. In my opinion this letter must be brought out in the whole international press of the Left Opposition; it deserves it in every respect. The declaration begins by pointing out that its author belongs to the International Left Opposition. Further on it says: “Mr. State Prosecutor, I have never wanted and would never permit your interference in our factional struggles. You are the representative of bourgeois class rule against which we are fighting in order to replace it by the rule of the working class. We are a fraction in the class struggle movement of the proletariat which is a foe of the class which you serve.” Since his faction opponents nevertheless turn to the state prosecutor, Gatschev considered it necessary to put the truth correctly. Further on, the tragic episode of the collision is presented in detail. After Gatschev has quoted Trotsky’s article on the impermissibility of terrorized methods in the internal faction fights of the working class, he continues: “We cannot make use of provocation, terror, swindle, calumniation, killings, etc., in the struggle against comrades. But when we are assaulted – shall we not defend ourselves? Yes, we defend ourselves because we are no Christians.”

The letter ends with the following words. “The real judgment will be given by the working class. It is to it that I appeal.” Similar incidents took place in other prisons. The public opinion of the working class must be informed as widely as possible about these facts. Our Bulgarian comrades must feel that they are not alone, that there are hundreds and thousands of comrades with them in every country and that the number of their friends is growing rapidly.

It should be added that comrade Gatschev was at once time [sic!] sentenced to death.


2. I have received a group picture of 23 Greek comrades, Bolshevik-Leninists, “Archio-Marxists”, who are incarcerated in Singros prison in Athens. This picture gave me a living and direct idea of the composition of our Greek section. Shameless, paid bureaucrats have had the cheek to call these proletarians whose revolutionary spirit is written upon their countenances – Fascists! Wherever the faction of the Bolshevik-Leninists in Greece has sunk firm roots in the working class the future belongs to genuine Bolshevism, to genuine Marxism. I salute most warmly our imprisoned comrades.


3. Just two months ago we received documents and material from the U.S.S.R., which characterized the theoretical and political work of the leading cadres of the Left Opposition. This material consists of a few hundred small sheets which are written with such microscopic letters (for the purpose of conspirative dispatch) that it took some six weeks to decipher it with magnifying lense in hand. By their externals alone they bespeak the high revolutionary efforts that are concealed behind them. The material received after so long a delay, we have begun to publish in the Bulletin of the Russian Opposition. In No. 25–26 there is reprinted a large article by comrade Rakovsky and programmatic theses of three exiles. Every reader will he convinced without difficulty of how far the Russian Opposition stands from the idea of a capitulation. The material, which contains the internal discussions in the Left Opposition evidences the high level upon which the theoretical political level of the Russian Bolshevik-Leninists is unfolding. In it a new generation of Marxists is taking shape, which will not permit the extinction of the theoretical spirit of scientific Communism. The less opportunity the Russian comrades have to let themselves be heard from at the right time and audibly, the more resolutely and intransigently the foreign comrades must repel intrigues and insinuations of all sorts, regardless of the source from which they come.

The January Conference of the C.P.S.U.

4. The preparations of the January Conference of the C.P.S.U. are entirely under the sign of the struggle against “Trotskyism”. How long ago is it that the Stalinist bureaucracy declared “Trotskyism” liquidated? (Molotov exclaimed: “Coffin, finished!” and so forth.) Is it so long ago that it was established: “The Right opposition is from now on the main danger!” Now we have a new turn. “‘Trotskyism’ is the principal foe!” It is discovered that “Trotskyism” has penetrated into all the institutions of learning, into the most important text books and even into the commentaries to Lenin’s works. The Central Committee informs the organizations by telegraph that – while the Right wing opposition seeks points of supports on the land, in the Kolkhoses, etc. – the “Trotskyists” raise their heads in the industrial districts. Kaganovitch, the Amsterdamer, presented a speech before the Institute of Red Professors, which fills up a whole page of the Pravda, on the need of opening up a struggle against “Trotskyism” all along the line. On the political significance of this campaign, we will have to express ourselves especially in the near future! For the time being, it is sufficient to mention a few facts that leap particularly to the eye. The Stalinist top is compelled to draw the circle ever more closely around it. Ever less and less, can it base itsef upon these who repeat the general incumbent formulae of fidelity. That is why it invents supplementary formulae, ever more enormous, which finally culminate in the dogma of Stalin’s infallibility. Every attempt at Marxist research in any direction whatever, leads inevitably to conflicts with the ideology of Stalinism. An ever greater number of people who are not connected with “Trotskyism” by anything whatsoever, who are, on the contrary, even hostile to it, fall under the accusation of “Trotskyism”. On the other hand, it appears that the most important Marxian seats of learning in all the higher educational institution are occupied by oppositionists who have capitulated. This fact demonstrates indirectly, but very convincingly, that a serious theoretical life exists only within the Left Opposition, so that the Stalinist bureaucracy is compelled to use renegades to occupy the most important seats of learning.

The fact that such a tremendous state and party apparatus is compelled, after eight years of uninterrupted and bitter struggles against the Left Opposition, to concentrate all its forces once again for the struggle against “Trotskyism”, shows the imperturbable vitality of our ideas. The Russian Left Opposition still has a great historical word to say.


return return return return return

Last updated on: 23.12.2013