Leon Trotsky

Stalin’s Denial

(January 1933)

Written: 14 January 1933.
Source: The Militant, Vol.VI No. 6, 11 February 1933, p. 2.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2015. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

I am not in possession of the Bolshevik with the denial of Stalin of the article With Both Hands. The semi-official communication of the Berliner Tageblatt, however, suffices to give one an adequate picture of this denial.

Stalin did not react to Campbell’s book until the Left Opposition seized upon it. Didn’t Stalin deem the book sufficiently important? Yet he did grant Campbell an interview which, according to the report of the American, lasted until the early hours of the morning and, according to Stalin’s denial, lasted “no more” than two hours. Even two hours are enough to confirm the importance of this conversation. Campbell received the stenographic report of this interview: Stalin confirms this. Campbell is no journalist but an agrarian big bourgeois. Is it possible that Stalin took no notice of this man’s book? Out of the question. The Press Bureau must have furnished him with the most important excerpts, especially those which concern Stalin himself, immediately after the appearance of the book. Nevertheless, Stalin was silent. The article in the Bulletin of the Russian Opposition first loosened his tongue. Therein is to be found the measure of value of Stalin’s denial.

In 1925, when his policy aimed completely at the capitalist farmer, that is, at the Kulak, Stalin went BO far as to have secret designs on the necessity of denationalizing the land. He arranged for himself an interview by Soviet journalists. One of the questions (dictated by Stalin himself) read, if it would not be advisable in the interest of peasant agriculture to hand over to every individual farmer the land tilled by him, for a period of ten years. Stalin’s answer was: “Even for forty years.” At the same time, the Georgian People’s Commissar for Agriculture, after an interview with Stalin in the Caucasus, brought in a formal legislature project for the denationalization of the land. The Left Opposition unfolded a violent protest campaign against it. In this connection, it referred back to the already partially forgotten interview on the suspension of the nationalization of the land “for forty years”. Stalin found it necessary to start the retreat. He simply declared that the journalists bad “wrongly” understood him. But as to why he had remained silent about the printed interview for several months, he could make no answer.

In 1926, Stalin prepared the entrance of the Russian trade unions into the Amsterdam International. In the new edition of the membership books of the Russian trade unions, the passage concerning adherence to the Red International of Labor Unions was simply stricken out At the same time, Kaganovitch delivered a speech in Kharkov, naturally in agreement with Stalin, in favor of entrance into the Amsterdam Trade Union International. The Left Opposition once more raised its voice in vigorous protest. Stalin retreated. The new text of the membership books was explained away as a “misunderstanding”. Kaganovitch declared that the stenographer in Kharkov had bungled the meaning of his speech. The Kharkov Oppositionists, however, established the fact that the stenographic report had been carefully corrected by Kaganovitch himself.

Back in 1930, Stalin, in conversations with Lominadze and others among his confidantes, launched the argument: “The Comintern represents nothing and it ekes out its existence only because of our support.” But the moment when Lominadze in struggle against Stalin, threw up to him the opinion he had vouchsafed Stalin had no difficulty in repudiating his own words.

So it is not for the first time Stalin under the attack of the Left Opposition has resorted to a denial of his own affirmations. One can say that this procedure is part of the iron arsenal of his policy. At every new zig-zag, he moves cautiously, sends up trial balloons, frequently has other’s send them up, but holds open the possibility of a retreat as long as be can. To repudiate one of his own declarations has never offered him any difficulties.

Besides, the conversation with Emil Ludwig – published by Stalin himself – differs in no essential from the denied conversation with Campbell. And what is more important: the denial does not alter by one iota either the Kellogg Pact policy or the tactic of Stalin-Litvinov in Geneva. And this is what’s important.

Prinkipo, January 14, 1933

Leon Trotsky

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Last updated on: 12 April 2015