In the Columns of Pravda ...

(Early 1936)

Written: Early 1936.
First Published: New Militant, Vol. II No. 19, 16 May 1936,p. 3.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive (5 May 2018).
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive ( 2018. Creative Commons (Share & Attribute).

Ever drawing newer and newer balances of the so-called “check-up of party documents”, Pravda is convinced that the behind-the-scenes purge takes the palm over the open purge. It turns out that “many of the disguised enemies were able to fool the purging Committee, and in some places they even passed through the purge with applause.” In other words, this to say that many of those suspect of being oppositionists had the sympathies of their organizations with them and the Committees, appointed from above, had no pretext for expulsion. But, in the behind-the-scenes checkup “the study of the party personnel was much deeper and many-sided than during the purges” (Pravda, March 22). This is hardly to be wondered at, the searchlight here was the apparatus of the G.P.U.

* * *

We learn from Pravda, in passing, that in one of the Chelyabinsk factories “to 103 communists there are 318 of those who were expelled from the party at one time or another.” In other words three times as many have been expelled as have remained. The Chelyabinsk factory is hardly a rare exception. At all events, it illustrated the manner in which this sorry ruling “party” is living!

* * *

Pravda carries an exposure of the secretary of the Uspensk District Committee of the Azov-Black sea region. “His motions during the session of the District Committee – and he introduces them on every question – do not meet with any objections, because he does not tolerate any objections.” How awful! What a shocking breach of democracy! Saltykov once wrote a history of the city of Gloupov (Dunceville) in which he portrayed the customs of the entire Czarist autocracy. The piece about the Uspensk District Committee rings like an involuntary satire on the regime. The name of the Uspensk secretary is Saut. But if one were to put down the U.S.S.R. in place of the district and replace Saut with Stalin, one could leave unaltered everything else remaining in the text.

* * *

Molotov has succeeded in completely straightening out the front. Since the liquidation of the “Third Period” Molotov, as is well known, has been in semi-disgrace. His name, it is true, was to be found among the inborn leaders but not on every occasion. His name was commonly put after Kaganovich and Voroshilov, and he was often deprived of his initials. In Soviet ritual all these are signs of paramount importance. Whenever a delegation arrived to see Molotov he was allowed to receive them only by having Budzutak as his left wheel horse, and Chubar as his right wheel horse. On his part, Molotov, though he did give necessary praise to the leader, would do so only two or three times throughout an entire speech, which in the atmosphere of the Kremlin sounded almost like a call for the overthrow of Stalin. But, with God’s help, since the end of last year, a turn for the better has been noticed. Molotov was straightening out the front. In recent weeks he has delivered several panegyrics to Stalin which made Mikoyan himself turn green with envy. In reward Molotov has received his initials. His name figures in the second place, and he bears the title of the “closest companion-in-arms”.

All’s well that ends well. But in all decency it must be admitted that Molotov didn’t find it easy. After all he knows Stalin for too many years to place him on the same plane with Lenin, as he did in his debased speech to the delegates from Soviet Georgia. But, after all, it is not for us to be concerned about Molotov’s dignity as a man. We have other concerns.

* * *

During the school term in Kremchoug, on the initiative of a propagandist named Poteliako, a discussion was instituted on the “possibility of building Communism in one country”, during which Poteliako “advanced Trotskyist formulations”. Despite the protests of several communists, (obviously, the Pravda correspondent himself) “Poteliako was left on his post and continues to give his lectures.”

But, after the correspondent’s notice in Pravda, we have reason to believe, Poteliako was not only removed as lecturer but also given all the necessary inspiration by the well known theorist Yagoda.

* * *

Novoseletski, who received the “degree of the best newspaperman” at the Ukrainian Communist Institute of Journalism, on arriving at his new post printed in the newspaper edited by him a “Trotskyist counter-revolutionary article”, for which he was expelled from the party (and, of course, arrested). This episode is a clear testimony to the influx of Oppositionist audacity. We note it with satisfaction.

* * *

In explaining the need for vigilance with respect to “Trotskyists”, Pravda unburdens itself of a brilliant image which is worthy of reprinting: “the class enemy in his deathbed death-throes (evidently there are death-throes which are not deathbed) refuses to surrender. He resorts to all sorts of snares and dirty devices, especially when there is a lull in vigilance.” Thus the class enemy is terrible not when he defended his privileged positions with arms in hand at the height of his strength – no! He is particularly now “in his deathbed death-throes” His most Serene Excellency Prince Potemkin once remarked on a similar occasion to the littérateur Ponvizin: “You might as well die, Denis, you will never write anything better.”

* * *

On December 30, 1935, Pravda indignantly reported that revolutionists were being subjected to tortures in Jugoslav jails. Pravda forgets to mention that Jugoslav revolutionists are subjected to tortures also in the jails of Stalin.

* * *

From a Conversation with a Soviet Dignitary.
(Not from Pravda (Truth), but forsooth the truth).

“Why do you flatter him so shamelessly?”

“What can one do? He loves it so.”

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Last updated on: 4 May 2018