Leon Trotsky

The Right to Vote for Stalin Is Granted

“Soviet Democracy”

(February 1935)

Written: 11 February 1935.
Published: The New Militant, Vol. I No. 15, 30 March 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up: 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.

In order to erect some sort of a partial screen to counteract the repulsive impression which has been created by Stalin’s manhandling of his political opponents, under the guise of waging a struggle against terrorists, much publicity has been given to a great democratic reform: collective farmers, as members of a socialist society, have been given equal electoral rights with the industrial workers. Upon this score the flunkies have raised a hullabaloo about the entry into the kingdom of genuine democracy [but what was there yesterday?].

The Role of the Party

The inequality in the electoral rights between the workers and peasants had its social reasons. The dictatorship of the proletariat in a peasant country found its necessary and open expression in the electoral privileges of the workers. The inequality of rights presupposed, in any case, the existence of rights. The Soviet system provided the toilers with a genuine possibility for determining the fate of the country. The political power was concentrated in the hands of the vanguard-party. Through the Soviets and the trade unions, the party was always submitted to the pressure of the masses. By means of this pressure the party kept the Soviet bureaucracy subordinate to itself.

It is utter nonsense that the peasantry has seemingly succeeded in reeducating itself socially during the two to three years of collectivization. The antagonism between the city and village still preserves all of its acuteness. Even today the dictatorship is inconceivable without the hegemony of the proletariat over the peasantry. But the Inequality in the electoral rights between the workers and peasants has lost its real content, in so far as the bureaucracy has completely deprived both the former and the latter of political rights. From the standpoint of the mechanics of the Bonapartist regime the apportionment of electoral districts is of absolutely no significance. The bureaucracy might have given the peasant ten times as many votes as the worker – we would obtain the very same result, for each and all possess in the last analysis the one and only right: to vote for Stalin.

The secret ballot may at first sight appear to be a genuine concession. But who would dare to oppose his own candidacy to the official slate? An oppositionist, if elected by “secret ballot”, would, indeed, be declared an open class enemy, immediately after the elections. Thus the secret ballot cannot effect any real change.

The entire reform represents a Bonapartist masquerade – and nothing more. The very need of such a masquerade is unmistakable testimony to the growing sharpening in the relations between the bureaucracy and the toiling masses. Neither the workers nor the peasants have any need for democratic fictions. So long as Stalin keeps both his hands upon the throat of the proletarian vanguard all constitutional reforms will remain Bonapartist charlatanry.

February 10, 1935


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Last updated on: 14 November 2014