Leon Trotsky

The Stalin School of Falsification

Letter to the Bureau of
Party History

(Part 2)


25. Nine-tenths of his slanders and falsifications, Yaroslavsky dedicates to the author of these lines. It would be hard to imagine lies more confused and at the same time more spiteful! Do not make the mistake of thinking, however, that Yaroslavsky always wrote in this way. No, he wrote quite differently. It was just as pedestrian, it was in just as bad taste, but to exactly the opposite effect. As late as the spring of l923, Yaroslavsky devoted an article to the beginnings of the political-literary activity of the author of these lines. The article is a tumultuous panegyric, unbearable to read. It requires an effort to quote from it. But it can’t he helped. In his character of inquisitor, Yaroslavsky takes a voluptuous pleasure in bringing face to face on the witness stand communists guilty of distributing the Testament of Lenin, the letters of Lenin on the national question, and other criminal documents in which Lenin dared to criticize Stalin. Let us bring Yaroslavsky face to face with himself.

“The brilliant literary-publicist activity of comrade Trotsky [so Yaroslavsky wrote in 1923] gained him the worldwide renown of ‘Prince of Pamphleteers.’ The English writer, Bernard Shaw, described him thus. Whoever has followed his activity during the course of a quarter of a century, cannot but be convinced that this talent of the pamphleteer and polemicist developed, grew and blossomed with especial brilliancy during the years of our proletarian revolution. But even at the dawn of his activity, it was observable that we had before us an endowment most profound. All his news paper articles were saturated with inspiration; they all par took of imagery, color, although they had to be written in the vise of the censorship of Czarist absolutism which mutilated the bold thought and the bold form of everyone who wished to escape from the grip of those jaws and raise himself above the common level. But so great were the ripening under ground forces, so strongly was felt the beating of the heart of the awakening people, so sharp were the developing contradictions, that all the censors in the world could not stamp out the creative power of such a shining individual personality as was already in those days the figure of L.D. Trotsky.

“Probably many have seen the quite widely distributed photograph of the youth Trotsky when he was first sentenced to exile in Siberia – that boisterous head of hair, those characteristic lips and lofty brow. Under that head of hair, under that lofty brow, was boiling even then a turbulent stream of images, thoughts, moods – sometimes diverting comrade Trotsky a little from the broad road of history, compelling him sometimes to choose too long a detour, or, on the other hand, to cut his way fearlessly through where it was impossible to go through. But in all this questing we had before us a man profoundly dedicated to revolution, a man born to the role of tribune, with a tongue sharply whetted and flexible as steel, slaying his enemies, and a pen scattering in handfuls like artistic pearls the riches of his mind.”

And further:

“The articles at our disposal embrace a period of more than two years – from Oct. 15, 1900 to Sept. 12, 1902. The Siberian comrades read with delight these brilliant articles and awaited their appearance with impatience. Only a few knew who was the author, and those knowing Trotsky never guessed in those days that he would be one of the recognized leaders of the most revolutionary army and of the greatest revolution in the world.”

And finally the conclusion:

“His protest against the pessimism of the demagnetized Russian intelligentsia [Ahem!] comrade Trotsky established later. Not in words, but in deeds he established it, shoulder to shoulder with the revolutionary proletariat of the great proletarian revolution. For this, great powers were needed. The Siberian village did not destroy in him these powers; it only further convinced him of the necessity of radically breaking, to the foundation, that whole social order which made possible the facts described by him.” (Sibirskye Ogni, Nos.1-2, Jan.-April 1923)

Although in some of his recent articles comrade Yaroslavsky has made a turn of 180 degrees, we must grant that in one respect he remains faithfully the same: He is equally unbearable in slander and in praise.


26. Among the exposers of “Trotskyism,” Olminsky, as is known, has occupied a fairly prominent place. He has been especially zealous, I remember, on the subject of my book, 1905, which appeared originally in the German language. But Olminsky also has had two opinions upon this subject: one in the days of Lenin; another in the days of Stalin.

In October 1921, somebody raised the question of the publication of my book, 1905, by the Istpart. Olminsky wrote me on that subject the following letter:

“Dear Leon Davidovitch:

“The Istpart will be delighted, of course, to publish your book in Russian but the question is: To whom shall the translation be entrusted? You can’t let the first man you meet translate a book by Trotsky! All the beauty and individuality of the style would be lost. Maybe you could squeeze an hour a day from your duties of state importance for this work – also, by the way, of state importance and dictate the text in Russian to a typist.

“Another question: Why not begin to prepare a complete collection of your writings? We could easily commission some one to take charge of that. It is high time it was done. The new generation, not knowing, as it should, the history of the party, unacquainted with old and recent writings of the leaders, will always be getting off the track. I am returning the book in the hope that it soon comes back to the Istpart in a Russian text.


“With best wishes,
“M. Olminsky
“October 17, 1921.”

That is how Olminsky wrote at the end of 1921 – that is to say, long after the controversies over the Brest-Litovsk peace and over the trade unions, controversies to which Olminsky and Co. are now trying to impart such an exaggerated importance. At the end of 1921, Olminsky considered the publication of 1905 a work of “state importance.” Olminsky was the initiator of the publication of my complete works, which he considered necessary for the education of party members. In the autumn of 1921, Olminsky was not a child. He knew the past. My disagreements with Bolshevism were known to him better than to anybody else. He himself had engaged in polemics with me in the old days. All this did not prevent him, in the autumn of 1921, from insisting upon the publication of a complete collection of my works in the interests of educating the party youth. Was Olminsky perhaps a “Trotskyist” in 1921?


27. Lunacharsky also now appears among the “exposers” of the Opposition. Trailing the others, he accuses us of pessimism and lack of faith. This role is especially becoming to Lunacharsky.

Trailing the others, Lunacharsky occupies himself not only with contrasting “Trotskyism”and Leninism but also supports – in a very slightly disguised form – every kind of insinuation.

Like certain others, Lunacharsky knows how to write on one and the same question, both for and against. In 1923, he issued a little book, Revolutionary Silhouettes. There is a chapter in that book dedicated to me. I will not quote this chapter for the oratorical exaggerations of its praise. I will quote merely two passages in which Lunacharsky speaks of my attitude toward Lenin:

“Trotsky is a prickly person, imperious. Only in his relations with Lenin, after their fusion, Trotsky always showed, and still shows, a tender and touching yieldingness, and with a modesty characteristic of the truly great, recognizes Lenin’s superior authority.” (p.25)

And a few pages earlier:

“When Lenin lay wounded mortally, as we feared, no one expressed our feeling about him better than Trotsky. In the terrible storm of world events, Trotsky, the other leader of the Russian Revolution, by no means inclined to sentimentalism, said: ‘When you think that Lenin might die, it seems as if all of our lives were useless, and you want to stop living’.” (Ibid., p.18)

What sort of people are these, who know how to write this thing or that depending on who gives them orders – history or the Secretariat!


28. What I have demonstrated above, with examples taken from the year 1917, could be carried through all the years that followed. I do not mean that there were no disagreements between Lenin and me. There were. The disagreements on the question of the Brest-Litovsk peace [18] lasted several weeks and assumed a sharp character for several days.

The attempt to present the differences on the question of the Brest-Litovsk peace as if they derived from my alleged “underestimation of the peasantry” is utterly ridiculous, and at best is an attempt to hang Bukharin’s position onto me – a position with which I had nothing in common. Not for a moment did I suppose that in 1917-1918 it was possible to rouse the peasant masses for a revolutionary war. In estimating the moods of the peasant and labor masses after the imperialist war, I was wholly in agreement with Lenin. If I stood, at the time, for postponing as long as possible the moment of capitulation to Hohenzollern, it was not for the purpose of calling forth a revolutionary war but in order to arouse the workers of Germany and Austria-Hungary to as great a revolutionary activity as possible. The decision to announce a state of war as terminated, without signing a forced peace, was dictated by the intention of testing in action whether or not Hohenzollern was still able to wage war against the revolution. This decision was adopted by the majority of our Central Committee and approved by the majority of the fraction of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets. Lenin regarded that decision as the lesser evil since a very considerable section of the party leadership was for the Bukharinist “revolutionary war,” ignoring not only the condition of the peasants but also of the labor masses. The signing of the peace treaty with Hohenzollern exhausted entirely my episodic differences with Lenin on that question, and our work proceeded in complete harmony. Bukharin, on the other hand, developed his Brest-Litovsk differences with Lenin into an entire system of “Left Communism,” with which I had nothing in common.

Many wiseacres seize every propitious occasion to scintillate on the subject of my slogan: No peace – no war. It obviously appears to them in contradiction with the very nature of things. Yet, between classes, as well as between states, relationships of “no peace – no war” are not at all rare. One need only recall that several months after Brest-Litovsk, when the revolutionary situation in Germany had completely defined itself, we announced that we were breaking the Brest-Litovsk peace without in any way resuming hostilities against Germany. With the countries of the Entente, in the course of the first few years of the revolution, our relationships were those of “no peace – no war.” As a matter of fact, the same type of relationship exists between us and England now (with the Tories in power). Throughout the Brest-Litovsk negotiations, the whole question was whether or not, at the beginning of 1918, a revolutionary situation had sufficiently matured in Germany to enable us, without continuing the war (we had no army!), to refrain from signing a peace. Experience showed that such a situation did not exist as yet.

The meaningless “reviews” beginning with 1923 have completely distorted the sense of the Brest-Litovsk controversy. All the fictions concerning my line during the epoch of Brest-Litovsk are discussed in detail and refuted on the basis of the incontrovertible documents in the notes to Volume XVII of my Collected Work:

The Brest-Litovsk disagreements, as I have already stated, did not leave the shadow of any bitterness in my personal relations with Lenin. Just a few days after the signing of the peace, I was placed – on the motion of Vladimir Ilyich – at the head of the military work.

29. The conflict on the trade union question was sharper and more protracted. The new theoretician of Stalinism, the Menshevik, Martinov, who came to us on the wave of the NEP [19], has described the disagreement on the trade union question as a disagreement on the question of the NEP. On this subject, Martinov wrote in 1923:

“L. Trotsky in 1905 argued more logically and consistently than either the Bolsheviks or the Mensheviks. But the flaw in his argument lay in that he was ‘too consistent.’ The picture which he drew very accurately anticipated the Bolshevik dictatorship during the first three years of the October Revolution which, as is well known, arrived in a blind alley, tearing the proletariat away from the peasantry, by reason of which the Bolshevik party was compelled to make a long retreat.” (Krasnaya Nov, No.2, 1923, p.262)

Before the NEP, “Trotskyism” reigned. Bolshevism began only with the New Economic Policy. It is noteworthy that Martinov reasoned in exactly the same way about the revolution of 1905!

According to him, in October, November and December of 1905 – that is, in the period of the highest upsurge of the revolution – “Trotskyism” reigned. The real Marxian policy began only after the crushing of the Moscow insurrection – approximately, say, with the elections to the first State Duma. Martinov now contrasts Bolshevism with “Trotskyism” along the self-same line according to which twenty years ago he contrasted Menshevism with “Trotskyism.” And these writings are passing for Marxism and are being fed to the young “theoreticians” of the party.

30. In his Testament, Lenin refers to the trade union discussion not in order to represent it as a controversy called forth by my widely publicized “underestimation of the peasantry.” No. Lenin speaks of this discussion as of a controversy over the People’s Commissariat of Means and Communication, and he chides me not for “underestimating the peasantry” but for a “disposition to be far too much attracted by the purely administrative side of affairs.“ I think that these words quite correctly characterize the root of that controversy.

War Communism had exhausted itself. Agriculture and with it everything else had arrived in a blind alley. Industry was disintegrating. The trade unions had become agitational and recruiting organizations which increasingly lost their independence. The crisis of the trade unions was by no means a “crisis of growth” ; it was a crisis of the whole system of War Communism. There was no passage out of the blind alley without the introduction of the NEP. Proposals sponsored by me to harness the trade union apparatus to the administrative system of economic management (my “disposition to be far too much attracted by the purely administrative side of affairs”), did not point the way out. But neither did the trade union resolution presented by the “Ten” (Lenin, Zinoviev and others) because the trade unions as defenders of the material and cultural interests of the working class and as a school of communism were losing their ground under conditions of an economic impasse.

Under the blows of the Kronstadt uprising [20], a new economic orientation of the party was effected, which opened up altogether new perspectives for the trade unions as well. But it is significant that at the Tenth Congress, at which the party unanimously approved the initial foundations of the NEP, the trade union resolution was not in harmony with these foundations and retained all of its internal contradictions. This became evident within a few months. The trade union resolution which was adopted by the Tenth Congress had to be radically changed without waiting for the Eleventh Congress. The new resolution, drafted by Lenin, which brought the work of the trade unions under the new conditions created by the NEP, was unanimously adopted.

To study the trade union discussion without any relation to the question of the turn of our entire economic policy at the time means even now, seven years later, not to understand the meaning of that discussion. This lack of understanding is precisely the source of all efforts to foist the “underestimation of the peasantry” upon me when, indeed, at the time of the trade union discussion, it was I who proposed the slogan: Industry must turn its face to the village!

More consistent falsifiers attempt to represent the matter as if I were opposed to the NEP. But irrefutable facts and documents prove that as early as the time of the Ninth Congress I raised time and again the question of the necessity to pass from the food levy to taxes and, within certain limits, to the commodity forms of circulation.

Only the rejection of these proposals, in the face of a continuing decline of economy, compelled me to seek a way out, along the opposite road, i.e., along the road of rigid management and closer inclusion of the trade unions – not as mass organizations but as administrative machinery – into the system of economic management under War Communism. The transition to the NEP not only met with no objections on my part, but, on the contrary, corresponded entirely with all the conclusions I had drawn from my own experience in economic management and administration. Such is the actual content of the so-called trade union discussion.

The volume of my Collected Works devoted to this period has not been published by the State Publishers precisely because that book does not leave a stone unturned in exposing the legend created around the trade union discussion.

31. To believe the present party historians and theoreticians, you might think that the first six years of the revolution were entirely filled with disagreements about Brest-Litovsk and the trade unions. All the rest has disappeared: the preparation of the October insurrection, the insurrection itself, the creation of the government, the creation of the Red Army, the civil war, the four congresses of the Comintern, all the writings on communist propaganda, the work in the sphere of leadership of the foreign communist parties and our own. Of all this work, in which upon all fundamental questions, I was in complete accord with Lenin, there remain, according to the present historians, only two moments: Brest-Litovsk and the trade unions.

32. Stalin and his lackeys have worked hardest over the effort to picture the trade union discussion as my “bitter” struggle against Lenin.

Here is what I said at the height of this discussion at our fraction in the Miners’Congress, January 26, 1921:

“Comrade Shliapnikov in speaking here – perhaps I express his thought a little crudely – said: ‘Don’t believe in this disagreement between Trotsky and Lenin. They will unite just the same and the struggle will be waged only against us!’ He says: ‘Don’t believe.’ I don’t know what this means about believing or not believing. Of course, we may unite. We may dispute in deciding any very important question but the controversy only pushes our thoughts in the direction of ‘unification’.” (Trotsky, Concluding Speech, Second All-Russian Congress of Miners, Jan.26, 1921)

Here is another passage from my speech which Lenin quoted in his pamphlet:

“During the sharpest polemic concerning comrade Tomsky, I always said what is absolutely clear to me, that the leaders in our trade unions can be only people with the greatest experience, with the authority that comrade Tomsky possesses. I said that at the meeting of our fraction during the Fifth Trade Union Congress. I said it again the other day at Zimin’s Theater. An ideological struggle in the party does not imply mutual repulsion. It implies rather influence mutually exerted.” (Collected Works, Vol.XVIII, Pt.1, p.7l)

And here is what Lenin said on this self-same question in his concluding speech at the Tenth Party Congress, summarizing the trade union discussion:

“The Workers’ Opposition said: ‘Lenin and Trotsky will unite.’ Trotsky taking the floor replied: ‘Whoever does not understand that it is necessary to unite is going against the party; of course, we will unite because we are party men.’ I supported Trotsky. To be sure, Trotsky and I have differed. When more or less equal groupings arise in the Central Committee, the party decides, and decides in such a way that we unite according to the will and directives of the party. That is the announcement with which Trotsky and I went to the Miners’ Congress and have come here, i.e., to the Party Congress.” (Ibid., p.132.)

Is that anything like the spiteful scribbling which is given out these days for a history of the trade union discussion in one political textbook after another?

The thing becomes laughable when Bukharin incautiously proceeds to exploit the trade union discussion as a weapon against “Trotskyism.” Here is the way Lenin appraised Bukharin’s position in that discussion:

“Hitherto the ‘chief’ in the struggle has been Trotsky. But now Bukharin has left him way behind and completely eclipsed’ him. Bukharin has created a completely new situation in the struggle for he has talked himself into a mistake a hundred times bigger than all the mistakes of Trotsky put together.

“How could Bukharin talk himself into this break with communism? We know all the softness of comrade Bukharin, one of the characteristics for which you love him so, and can’t help loving him. We know that he is often jokingly called ‘soft wax.’ It seems that ‘any unprincipled person,’ any ‘demagogue,’ can print on that soft wax anything he wants to. The harsh expression included in the quotation marks was used by comrade Kamenev in the discussion of January 17. And he had a right to use it. But, of course, it would never occur to Kamenev or to anybody else to explain what happened as unprincipled demagogy – to reduce everything to that.” (Ibid., p.35)


33. After all, was the trade union question the only question in the life of the party and the Soviet Republic during the years of my collaboration with Lenin? In the same year, 1921, the year of the Tenth Party Congress, occurred the Third World Congress of the Comintern, which played an enormous role in the history of the international labor movement. At this Third Congress, a profound struggle unfolded upon the fundamental questions of communist policies. That struggle was transferred into our Political Bureau. I told something of it briefly at a session of the Political Bureau soon after the Fourteenth Party Congress:

“There was danger at that time that the policy of the Comintern would follow the line of the March 1921 events [21] in Germany. That is, the attempt to create a revolutionary situation artificially – to ‘galvanize’the proletariat, as one of the German comrades expressed it. That mood was the prevailing one in the Congress. Vladimir Ilyich came to the conclusion that, following this course, the International would most certainly go to smash. Before the Congress I wrote my impression of the March events to comrade Radek in a letter of which Vladimir Ilyich knew nothing. Considering the ticklish situation, and not knowing the opinion of Vladimir Ilyich and knowing that Zinoviev, Bukharin and Radek were in general for the German Left, I naturally did not express myself publicly but wrote a letter (in the form of theses) to comrade Radek, asking him to give me his opinion. Radek and I did not agree. Vladimir Ilyich heard about this, sent for me, and characterized the situation in the Comintern as one involving the very greatest dangers. In appraising the situation and its problems, we were in full accord.

“After this conference, Vladimir Ilyich sent for comrade Kamanev in order to assure a majority in the Political Bureau. There were then five members in the Political Bureau. With comrade Kamenev, we were three and consequently a majority, but in our delegation to the Comintern, there were, on one side, comrades Zinoviev, Bukharin and Radek; on the other, Vladimir Ilyich, comrade Kamenev and myself. And, by the way, we had formal sittings of these groups. Vladimir Ilyich said at that time: ‘Well, we are forming a new faction.’ During further negotiations as to the text of the resolutions to be introduced, I served as the representative of the Lenin faction while Radek represented the Zinoviev faction.”

ZINOVIEV: “Now the state of affairs is changed.”

TROTSKY: “Yes, it has changed. Moreover, comrade Zinoviev rather categorically accused comrade Radek at that time of ‘betraying’ his faction in those negotiations; that is, of making presumably too great concessions. There was an intense struggle throughout all the parties of the Comintern, and Vladimir Ilyich conferred with me as to what we should do if the Congress voted against us. Should we submit to the Congress whose decisions might be ruinous, or should we not submit?

“The reflection of that conference you can find in the stenographic report of my speech. I said at that time, in agreement with Ilyich, that if you, the Congress, adopt a decision against us, I trust you will leave us a sufficient frame work in which to defend our point of view in the future. The meaning of this warning was perfectly clear. I ought to add, however, that the relations then existing within our delegation, thanks to the leadership of Vladimir Ilyich, continued to be perfectly comradely.” (Minutes of the Political Bureau of the CPSU, March 18, 1926.)

In agreement with Lenin, I defended our common position in the ECCI, whose session preceded the sessions of the Third World Congress. I was the target of a fierce attack by the so-called “Leftists.” Vladimir Ilyich hurried to the session of the ECCI and this is what he said there:

“... I came here in order to protest against the speech of comrade Bela Kun who took the floor against comrade Trotsky instead of defending him as he ought to have done if he wanted to be a genuine Marxist ...

“Comrade Laporte was absolutely wrong and comrade Trotsky, protesting against it, was absolutely right. Comrade Trotsky was a thousand times right when he stressed that point. And here is another Luxemburg comrade who reproached the French party because it did not sabotage the occupation of Luxemburg. [22] There you have it. He thinks that this is a geographical question, just as comrade Bela Kun does. No, this is a political question and comrade Trotsky was entirely right in protesting against it.

“That is why I considered it my duty to support fundamentally all that comrade Trotsky said ...”

Throughout all of Lenin’s speeches relating to the Third World Congress recurs this sharp emphasis upon his complete solidarity with Trotsky.


34. In 1922, there was created upon the initiative of comrade Ter-Vaganyan a magazine, Pod Znamenyem Marxisma [Under the Banner of Marxism]. For the first issue, I contributed an article on the difference in the conditions of education of the two generations of the party – the old and the new – and on the necessity of a special theoretical approach toward the new generation in order to safeguard the theoretical and political heritage in the development of the party. In the following issue of the new magazine, Lenin wrote:

“Concerning the general task of the magazine Under the Banner of Marxism, comrade Trotsky in No.1-2 said all that was essential and said it excellently. I should like to dwell upon certain questions defining more closely the content and program of work issued by the editors of the journal in their preliminary announcement to No. 1-2.” (Collected Works, Supplementary Vol.XX, Pt.2, p.492)

Could our solidarity upon these fundamental questions have been accidental? No, the only accident lies in the fact that the solidarity happened to be so clearly recorded in the press. In the overwhelming majority of cases, our solidarity was sealed only in deeds. Yet it was precisely on the question of attitude to the youth that innumerable legends have been created in recent years.


35. After Bukharin, out of sheer rejection of or disregard for the peasantry, had arrived at his kulak Slogan [23] “Enrich yourselves,” he came to the conclusion that he had thereby forever corrected all of his old mistakes. More than that, he thought he could string on the same thread with the peasant question, my disagreement about Brest-Litovsk and my other partial disagreements with Vladimir Ilyich. The stupidities and abominations put in circulation by the Bukharin school on this theme are absolutely incalculable. It would take a volume to refute them a!! specifically. I will mention only the most important points:

  1. I do not touch here upon the old pre-Revolutionary disagreements that really existed. [24] I will say only that they have been monstrously distended, distorted and perverted by Stalin’s agents and the petty school of Bukharin.
  2. In 1917 there was no disagreement whatever upon this question between Lenin and me.
  3. The “adoption” of the Social Revolutionary land program was carried out by Vladimir Ilyich in full agreement with me.
  4. I happened to be the first to read Lenin’s penciled draft of the decree on the land question. There was not even a hint of disagreement. We were of one mind.
  5. In the food policy the peasant question occupied, obviously, no small place. Vulgarians like Martinov are saying that this policy was “ Trotskyist” (cf., Martinov’s article in Kranaya Nov, 1923). No, it was a Bolshevik policy. I took part in its enactment hand in hand with Lenin. There was not a shadow of disagreement.
  6. The policy based on the middle peasantry was adopted with my most active participation. The members of the Political Bureau know that after the death of Sverdlov, the first thought of Vladimir Ilyich was to name comrade Kamenev chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. The proposal to select instead a “worker-peasant” figure came from me. I nominated comrade Kalinin for the post. It was also on my suggestion that he was called “All-Russian Starosta” [village elder]. All this is, of course, a trivial matter upon which it would not be worth while to pause. But at present these trivialities, these symptoms, are murderous evidence against the falsifiers of our past.
  7. Nine-tenths of all our military policy and organization reduced itself to the policy of the relation of the workers to the peasantry. That policy against petty bourgeois guerrilla and amateur methods (Stalin, Voroshilov and Co.) I carried out hand in hand with Vladimir Ilyich.

I cite, for example, a whole series of my telegrams from Simbirsk and Ruzaevka (March 1919) stressing the necessity of applying energetic measures in order to improve relations with the middle peasantry. I demanded that an authorized commission be sent to the Volga region for the purpose of checking up on the activities of local authorities and of making a study of the causes of peasant dissatisfaction. My third telegram – by direct wire to Stalin, Kremlin, Moscow (urgent) – reads as follows:

“The Commission’s task should be to strengthen the faith of the Volga peasantry in the Central Soviet Government, to remove the most crying cases of local maladministration and to punish the guilty representatives of the Soviet power; to gather all complaints and materials to be used as a basis of demonstrative decrees in favor of the middle peasants. Smilga could be appointed a member on this commission; Kamenev is likewise desirable, or some other authoritative figure.” (March 22, 1919, No.813)

It was not Stalin who sent me this telegram – one of many – stressing the necessity of decrees to benefit the middle peasants, but it was I who sent it to Stalin. This took place not during the period of the Fourteenth Congress but at the beginning of the year 1919 when Stalin’s views on the middle peasants were still unknown to anyone.

Indeed, every page of the old records – without the slightest attempt at selection – rings today like a scathing exposure of the twaddle invented at this late date regarding my “underestimation of the peasantry” or the “underestimation of the middle peasants!”

  1. At the beginning of 1920, basing myself on an analysis of the condition of peasant economy, I introduced in the Political Bureau the proposal of a series of measures similar to the NEP. That proposal could not possibly have been dictated by a “disregard” for the peasantry.
  2. The trade union discussion was, as I said, a search for a way out of an economic blind alley. The transition to the N.E.P. was carried out in complete unanimity.

36. All this can be proved on the basis of indisputable documents. Some day it will be. Here I limit myself to two quotations.

In answer to questions asked by peasants as to our relation to the kulaks, the middle and the poor peasants, and as to alleged disagreements between Lenin and Trotsky on the peasant question, I wrote in 1919:

“No disagreement upon this question in the centers of the Soviet Government have existed or exist. The counter-revolutionists, whose cause is getting more and more hopeless, have nothing left hut to deceive the toiling masses as to a pretended conflict supposed to be dividing the Council of People’s Commissars within.” (Izvestia, Feb. 7, 1919.)

Lenin wrote upon this theme, in answer to a question from the peasant Gulov, the following words:

“In Izvestia for February 2, there appeared a letter from Gulov, a peasant, who asks about the relation of the workers’ and peasants’ government to the middle peasantry and speaks of rumors to the effect that Lenin and Trotsky are not in harmony; that there are big disagreements between them, and especially upon the subject of the middle peasant.

“Comrade Trotsky has already given his answer in his Open Letter to the Middle Peasants in Investia for February 7. Comrade Trotsky says in this letter that the rumors of disagreement between him and me are a monstrous and a despicable lie, propagated by the landlords and capitalists and their conscious or unconscious servitors. I, upon my part, fully confirm this statement of comrade Trotsky. There are no disagreements between him and me, and in regard to the middle peasants, there are no disagreements not only between Trotsky and me, but in general, in the Communist Party of which we are both members.

“Comrade Trotsky in his letter explained clearly and in detail why the party of the communists and the present workers’ and peasants’ government elected by the Soviets and members of that party, do not consider the middle peasants their enemies. I subscribe with both hands to what comrade Trotsky said.” (Collected Works, Vol.XVI, pp.28f. Printed originally in Pravda; No.85, Feb.15, 1919.)

Here we run into the same fact again. The rumor was first set going by the White Guards. Now it is caught up by the Stalin-Bukharin school, developed and deliberately propagated.


37. On the subject of my military work which began in the spring of 1918, an attempt has been made, under the guidance of Stalin, to rewrite history. In fact, the attempt has been made to rewrite the entire history of the Civil War for the sole purpose of the struggle against “Trotskyism” or, to put it more precisely, the struggle against Trotsky.

To rehearse here the story of the creation of the Red Army and the relation of Lenin to that work, would be to write the history of the Civil War. For the time being, the Gusevs are writing it. Later, others will write it. I must limit myself to two or three examples supported by documents.

When Kazan was captured by our troops, I received a telegram of congratulations from Vladimir Ilyich, then rapidly convalescing:

“I greet with rapture the brilliant victory of the Red Army. Let it serve as a pledge that the union of workers and revolutionary peasants will shatter the bourgeoisie completely; will break every resistance of the exploiters, and guarantee the victory of world socialism. Long live the workers’ revolution!


“Sept.10, 1918

The intensely elated (for Lenin) tone of the telegram – “I greet with rapture” – testifies to the enormous significance he attributed, and rightly so, to the capture of Kazan. Here occurred the first and essentially decisive trial of strength of the union of workers and revolutionary peasants and of the ability of the party, amid the economic ruin and terrible desolation left by the imperialist war, to create a fighting, revolutionary army. Here the methods of creating the Red Army underwent their trial by fire, and Lenin knew the true value of this trial.

38. At the Eighth Party Congress, a group of military delegates criticized the war policy. The Stalins and Voroshilovs have been taking lately as though I dared not even appear at the Eighth Congress and hear their criticisms. How monstrously far that is from the actual fact! Here is the resolution of the Central Committee on the subject of my departure for the front on the eve of the Eighth Congress:

Excerpt from the minutes of the March 16, 1919, session of the Central Committee, CPR. Present: Comrades Lenin, Zinoviev, Krestinsky, Vladimirsky, Stalin, Schmidt, Smilga, Dzerzhinsky, Lashevich, Bukharin, Sokolnikov, Trotsky, Stassova:

“12. Certain comrades from the front, learning of the Central Committee’s resolution for the immediate return of the army comrades to the front, raised the question as to the correctness of this decision which might be interpreted by the organizations at the front as an unwillingness of the Center to hear the voice of the army. Some are even interpreting it as a sort of trick because the departure of comrade Trotsky and the non-admission (recall to the front) of army deputies make it futile even to raise the question of military policy. Comrade Trotsky protests against the interpretation of the resolution of the Central Committee as a ‘trick’ and calls attention to the extreme seriousness of the situation caused by the retreat from Ufa and still farther west. He insists upon his departure.”

“Resolutions Passed

“(1) Comrade Trotsky shall depart immediately for the front.

“(2) Comrade Sokolnikov shall announce at a meeting of the comrades from the front that the order for the departure of all of them is annulled, and it is assumed that those should depart immediately who themselves consider their presence at the front necessary.

“(3) The question of military policy shall be placed first on the order of the day of the Congress.

“(4) Comrade Vladimir Mikhailovich Smirnov is granted permission to re main, as requested by him, in Moscow.”

There you have a clear example of the party regime of that epoch. All who were attacking the Central Committee for its military policy, and especially the leader of the military opposition, V.M. Smirnov, were permitted to remain for the congress, notwithstanding the grave situation at the front. Those who supported the official policy were sent to the front before the opening of the congress. Nowadays things are done in exactly the opposite way.

The minutes of the military section of the Eighth Party Congress, where Lenin spoke decisively in defense of the military policy carried out by me at the direction of the Central Committee, have not yet been published. Why? Because they rip to pieces the lies of Stalin, Voroshilov and Gusev concerning the period of the Civil War.

39. Stalin has tried to put in circulation an absurdly exaggerated account of the military disagreement which arose in the Political Bureau in regard to the Eastern front at the beginning of 1919. The essence of the disagreement was this: Should we continue the offensive in Siberia or entrench ourselves in the Urals and throw the maximum of our forces to the south in order to liquidate the threat against Moscow? I was inclined, for a certain period of time, towards the second plan. Many military workers, among them Smilga, Lashevich, I.N. Smirnov, K.I. Gruenstein and many others, were in favor of the first plan. The first plan was adopted and gave admirable results. This disagreement did not involve any principle. It was purely practical. The subsequent test demonstrated that the army of Kolchak was wholly disintegrated. The offensive in Siberia was entirely successful.

40. The military work was harsh work. It was not carried out without pressure, repressions and measures of force. Many prides were hurt – most often through necessity but sometimes by mistake. Much discontent resulted and some of it, of course, was entirely legitimate. When the disagreements arose in regard to the Eastern front, and the Central Committee was to decide the question as to the change of Chief Command, I offered the Central Committee my resignation from the post of People’s Commissar for War. On the same day, July 5, 1919, the Central Committee adopted a resolution, of which the principal part follows:

“The Organization Bureau and the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, after considering the statement of comrade Trotsky and discussing it in full, have come to the unanimous conclusion that his resignation cannot be accepted, being entirely out of question.

“The Organization Bureau and the Political Bureau of the Central Committee will do all that they can to make more convenient for comrade Trotsky, and more fruitful for the Republic, that work on the Southern front which comrade Trotsky himself has chosen and which is the most difficult, the most dangerous and the most important at the present moment. In his position as People’s Commissar for War and Chairman of the Military Council, comrade Trotsky is also fully empowered to act as a member of the Military Revolutionary Council of the Southern front together with that Commissar of the Southern front (Yegorov) whom he himself proposed and whom the Central Committee has confirmed.

“The Organization Bureau and the Political Bureau of the Central Committee give comrade Trotsky full authority by every means whatsoever, to achieve what he considers a necessary correction of policy on the military question and, if he so desires, to expedite the congress of the party.”

The signatures to this resolution were: Lenin, Kamenev, Krestinsky, Kalinin, Serebriakov, Stalin, Stassova.

This resolution speaks for itself. It ended the controversial issue, and we passed on to the next point on the agenda.

A propos of this: At the joint session of the Political Bureau and the Presidium of the Central Control Commission, Sept. 8, 1927, Stalin entered a statement into the minutes alleging that the Central Committee “forbade” me to touch the Southern front. On that question, too, the above resolution gives a sufficiently exhaustive answer.

41. But was the disagreement about the Eastern front the only disagreement of a strategical nature? Not by any means. There was a disagreement about the strategic plan against Denikin. There was a disagreement about Petrograd – surrender it to Yudenich or defend it? There was a disagreement about the advance on Warsaw [25] and about the possibility of a second campaign after we had retired to Minsk. Disagreements of this kind were born of the practical struggle and were liquidated in struggle.

On the question of the Southern front, the necessary documents are published in my book, How the Revolution Armed Itself (Vol.II, Book I, p.80]).

During the advance of Yudenich upon Petrograd, Lenin at one time thought it was not worthwhile trying to defend the city and that we ought to move the line of defense nearer Moscow. I objected. Comrade Zinoviev supported me and I think also comrade Stalin. On the 17th of October 1919, Lenin communicated with me in Petrograd by direct wire:

“Comrade Trotsky:

“Last night transmitted in code ... the decision of the Council of Defense.

“As you see, your plan was adopted. But the withdrawal of the Petrograd workers to the south was, of course, not rejected (I am told that you expounded it to Krassin and Rykov) ; but to discuss it before the need arises would distract attention from the fight-to-the-finish.

“An attempt to outflank and cut off Petrograd will, of course, bring corresponding changes which you will carry out on the spot.

“Assign someone in each department of the local executive committee to collect Soviet papers and documents in preparation for an evacuation.

“I enclose a proclamation which I was assigned to draft by the Council of Defense. I did it hastily and it turned out poorly. You had better put my signature under yours.



There were many such episodes. They had immense practical importance at the given moment but they never had any principled significance. It was not a struggle over principles but a working out of the best plan for fighting off the enemy at a given moment and a given place.

The Stalins and the Gusevs are trying to rewrite the history of the Civil War. They will not succeed!

42. The most contemptible part of the campaign of the Stalinists against me is their accusation that I had “communists” shot. This accusation was once put in circulation by our enemies, by their “Intelligence Service.” That is, the political departments of the White Armies tried to circulate leaflets among our Red Soldiers, accusing the Red Command and Trotsky, in particular, of bloodthirstiness. The agentry of Stalin are now going the same road.

Assume for a minute that this lie is true. Then why were Stalin, Yaroslavsky, Gusev and the other agents of Stalin silent during the entire Civil War? What is implied by these current tardy “revelations” on the lips of the Stalin agentry? It means this:

“Workers, peasants and Red soldiers, the party deceived you when it told you that Trotsky, the Commander of the Army, was fulfilling the will of the party and carrying out its policy. In its innumerable articles about the work of Trotsky, in the resolutions of its party congresses and the congresses of the Soviets, the party deceived you, approving the military work of Trotsky and hiding from you such facts as the execution of communists. Lenin participated in this deceit, decisively supporting the military policy of Trotsky.”

That is the real meaning of these tardy “revelations” of Stalin. These “revelations” compromise not Trotsky but the party, its leadership. They undermine the confidence of the masses in all the Bolsheviks. For if, in the past, when Lenin and the main core of his colleagues stood at the head of the party, it was possible to conceal monstrous mistakes and even crimes, what can you expect now, when the personnel of the Central Committee is infinitely less authoritative? If, for example, Yaroslavsky in 1923, when the Civil War was already long past, sang the immoderate praises of Trotsky, his fidelity, his revolutionary devotion to the cause of the working class, then what is the thoughtful young party member going to say today? He is going to ask himself:

“Just when was Yaroslavsky lying to me – when he exalted Trotsky above the skies, or now, when he is trying to cover him with mud?”

Such is the real work of Stalin and his agents in their effort to invent a new biography for him after the events. The party mass cannot possibly check upon the greater part of Stalin’s “revelations.” Instead they become firmly imbued with a loss of confidence in the leadership of the party, past, present and future. We shall have to win this anew – this confidence of the party – against Stalin and Stalinism.

43. As is known, Gusev has devoted special energy to the literary revision of our war history. He has even written a brochure entitled Our Military Disagreements. In this brochure, it seems, the poisonous gossip first appeared about shooting communists (not deserters, not traitors, even though with party cards, but communists).

Gusev’s misfortune, like that of many others, is that he has written twice about one and the same fact and question: once in Lenin’s time once in Stalin’s.

Here is what Gusev wrote the first time:

“The arrival of comrade Trotsky [near Kazan] produced a decisive change in the situation. The arrival of Trotsky’s train at the wayside station, Sviazhsk, brought a firm will to victory, initiative and momentum for all sides of the work of the army. From the very first day, in that station crowded with the wagon trains of the innumerable regiments, where were the headquarters of the political department and the commissary, as well as among the army troops deployed over a distance of fifteen versts, everybody felt that a great turning point had arrived.

“This made itself felt first of all in the sphere of discipline. The stern methods of comrade Trotsky in that epoch of guerrilla warfare, in discipline and provincial egotisms, were especially and above all expedient and necessary. You could do nothing with persuasion. And, moreover, there was no time for it. In the course of those twenty-five days that comrade Trotsky spent in Sviazhsk an enormous work was accomplished. The disorganized and degenerated regiments of the Fifth Army were converted into fighting troops and prepared for the capture of Kazan.” (Proletarskaya Revolutsia, No.2 [25], 1924)

Every member of the party who lived through the experience of the Civil War and has not lost his memory will say, at least to himself, if he is afraid to say it out loud, that you could quote by the score, if not by the hundred, such printed testimonials as this testimonial written by Gusev.

44. I limit myself here to testimonials of the most authoritative character. In his recollections of Lenin, Gorky says:

“Striking his fist on the table, he [Lenin] exclaimed: ‘Show me another man who would be able in a year to organize almost a model army; yes, and win the esteem of the military specialists. We have such a man. We have everything, and you’ll see miracles!’” (Maxim Gorky, Vladimir Lenin, Leningrad 1924, p.28)

In the same conversation, Lenin said, according to Gorky:

“Yes, yes, I know. They lie a lot about my relations with him. They lie a great deal, it seems, especially about Trotsky and me.” (Ibid., p.28)

Yes, they lied a lot about the relations of Lenin and Trotsky. But can you compare the amateurish lying of those days with the properly organized, All-Russian and international lying of today? In those days the liars were the Black Hundreds, the White Guards, in part also the Social Revolutionists and Mensheviks. Now it is the Stalin faction that has seized this weapon.

45. In the Bolshevik fraction of the All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions, January 12, 1920, Lenin said:

“If we defeated Denikin and Kolchak, it was because our discipline was higher than that of all the capitalist countries of the world. Comrade Trotsky has introduced the death penalty and we will support him. He has introduced it by means of conscious organization and agitation on the part of communists.”

46. I have not at hand the many other speeches of Lenin in defense of the military policy which I carried out in full accord with him. In particular, the minutes of the conference of delegates to the Eighth Congress on Military Affairs remain unpublished. Why are those minutes unpublished? Because Lenin in that conference opposed with all his energy the colleagues of Stalin who are now so industriously falsifying the past.

47. But I have at hand one document which is worth a hundred. I spoke of this document in the Presidium of the Central Control Commission when Yaroslavsky started a poisonous intrigue against me, under protest from Ordjonikidze. I quoted it at the last joint Plenum, August 1927, when Voroshilov followed in the footsteps of Yaroslavsky.

Lenin gave me, on his own initiative, a blank sheet of paper with the following lines written at the bottom:

“Comrades, knowing the harsh character of comrade Trotsky’s orders, I am so convinced, so absolutely convinced, of the correctness, expedience and necessity for the good of our cause, of orders issued by comrade Trotsky, that I give them my full support.


“V. Ulianov (Lenin).”

The purpose of this blank I explained to the Presidium of the Central Control Commission in the following words:

“When he [Lenin] handed me that sheet of paper with these lines written at the bottom of a clean page, I was perplexed. He said: ‘I have been informed that rumors are being started against you that you are shooting communists. I give you this blank and I will give you as many of them as you want, stating that I support your decisions. Above it you can write any decision you want to and my signature will be ready.’ That was in July 1919. Since much gossip is now abroad about my relations with Vladimir Ilyich, and what is far more important, his attitude toward me, I would suggest that somebody else show me such a blank page with his signature, where Lenin says that he endorses beforehand every decision that I might make. Upon these decisions depended not only the fate of individual communists but often a far greater thing.”


18. The onerous conditions of peace which the Germans, threatening a constantly deeper invasion of the Ukraine and Russia itself, sought to impose at Brest-Litovsk upon the young Soviet republic, created a violent dispute in the leading circles of the Bolshevik party and in the ranks. Emphasizing the exhaustion of the Soviet forces and the need of a breathing spell, Lenin stood for signing the proposed peace treaty, even though it meant agreement to Russia’s being despoiled of vast territories and forced to pay tribute to the Germans. Bukharin and his group (including Inessa Armand, A. Bubnov, Bela Kun, Alexandra Kollontai, Kuibyschev, N. Muralov, M.N. Pokrovsky, Preobrazhensky, Piatakov, Radek, Uritsky, etc.), opposed the acceptance of the peace terms and advocated a revolutionary war against the Germans. Trotsky, recognizing the exhaustion of the armed forces of the Soviets, proposed that the war be declared at an end, that the peace treaty be not signed, and that if the Germans continued to advance, the terms be accepted “at the point of a bayonet,” in order to show the international and especially the German working class that the Soviets had held out against German imperialism till the very last. Trotsky’s formula – “Neither war nor peace” – was, for example, exactly the status for years to come of relations between Russia and Roumania. At first Lenin was in a minority in tile leadership and the ranks. The principal Soviets in the country (except for Petrograd and Sebastopol) expressed themselves against signing the treaty (thus, Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Kharkov, Kronstadt, etc.). On January 21, 1918, at a conference in Petrograd of active leaders throughout the country, with 68 present, the revolutionary war position received an absolute majority of 32, the Trotsky position (“Neither war nor peace”) 16, and the Lenin position 15. At the very last moment, when the Germans had resumed their advance and given their final ultimatum, the Central Committee session carried Lenin’s proposal to sign the treaty. At the February 23 meeting, Lenin, Zinoviev, Sverdlov and Sokolnikov voted to sign, with Bukharin, Dzerzhinsky, Uritsky and Lomoy voting against. Trotsky stated:

“If there were unanimity among us, we could proceed with the organization of the defense and would do a good job of it ... But this requires a maximum of unity. But since this unity does not exist, I cannot assume the responsibility for voting in favor of war.” The C.C. thereupon decided by 7 votes to 4, with 4 abstaining (Trotsky’s abstention gave Lenin the necessary majority) to accept the German proposal instantly. At this session, it was Stalin who declared: “It is not necessary to sign, but we can begin peace negotiations” – a position which Lenin attacked. The “Left Communists,” Bukharin, Lomov, Bubnov, Yakovlev, Piatakov and V. Smirnov thereupon announced their withdrawal from all responsible party and Soviet posts in order to be free to carry on their agitation against the decision in the ranks of the party; in the name of the Moscow Party Committee controlled by them, they issued Kommunist as a faction organ in which a violent polemic was conducted for several months against Lenin’s course. The signing of the Brest Treaty also had as one of its results the withdrawal of all the Social Revolutionary Commissars from the Soviet Government, followed by an armed uprising of that party against the Bolshevik régime.

19. The NEP (New Economic Policy) was adopted, on Lenin’s initiative, by the Tenth Congress of the Communist Party of Russia, early in 1921, and re-enforced at the Tenth Party Conference in May of the same year. Not only had the post-war revolutionary wave in Europe subsided, especially after the failure of the Red drive on Warsaw, but relations with the peasantry in Russia had become strained to the breaking point. The extremely rigorous regulations of so-called War Communism (requisitioning and confiscation of grain from the peasant), accompanied by the breakdown of industry consequent upon the ravages of the civil war (in 1920, industrial output was only 18 per cent of the pre-war level; in heavy industry, specifically, the situation was far worse), had brought the alliance of the workers and peasants to extreme tension. The Tenth Congress met during the Kronstadt rebellion, which reflected the intense discontent of the peasants. Lenin proposed a policy of substituting a tax in kind for requisitions; of allowing the peasant to dispose of his surplus within the limits of “local trade”; of allowing the development of capitalist concessions to a delimited extent, and of state capitalism, on the ground that state capitalism was a higher economic form than that which prevailed in most of agricultural Russia. The retreat sounded by Lenin was to allow a breathing spell during which, while waiting for the decisive aid of the European revolution, Russia could reconstruct her industries, electrify and modernize them, and establish a more harmonious relationship with the mass of her population, the peasantry. Capitalism, in industry and agriculture, was to be allowed a considerable field of possibilities in which to develop, provided, however, that the workers’ state retained control of the so-called “commanding heights,” namely, the nationalized key industries, state banking, nationalization of the land, monopoly of foreign trade. The NEP, despite the inherent dangers of capitalist restoration, greatly facilitated not only the re-establishment of good relations between worker and peasant, but also the recon struction of Russia’s industrial life.

20. On March 1, 1921, the sailors of Kronstadt, the fortress out side of Petrograd, rose in armed rebellion against the Soviet Gov ernment, mainly around the demands for new elections to the Soviets and for eliminating the Communist Party monopoly. Attempts at peaceful negotiations and settlement of differences proved unsuccessful. The government called upon the Kronstadters to lay down their arms and acknowledge the discipline of the federal government, but the rebels refused. The decisive strategic importance of Kronstadt, the key to Petrograd, made it impossible to allow it to remain in hostile hands for any length of time, and a couple of days after the uprising, it was suppressed by troops led across ice floes from Petrograd. The suppression of the Kronstadt rising was one of the saddest necessities of the Russian Revolution. Unlike the sailors of the November, 1917, revolution, who were drawn largely from the industrial heart of Petrograd, and who were subsequently dispersed to the four corners of Russia during the civil war, the sailors in 1921 were drawn largely from southern ports (like Odessa), usually the sons of Ukrainian peasants (four members of the Kronstadt rebels’ committee were Ukrainian, as was their chief, Petrichenko). On furlough in their home towns, they were heavily influenced by the complaints of the peasants against the strenuous régime of War Communism, and against the Communists who led the régime. In Kronstadt itself, anti-Communist elements – anarchists and Social Revolutionaries – were active in sharpening relations between Kronstadt and Petrograd. Outside of Russia, the reactionary elements regarded the Kronstadt uprising as a rallying pole for the counter-revolution – at first under the warcry of “Soviets without Communists “ – a bridge to no Soviets at all. The Kronstadt sailors were, for the most part, the unwitting victims of these forces. The uprising did serve, however, to call sharply to the attention of the Bolsheviks the imperative need of putting an end to the War Communism course, which had brought relations with the peasantry, and even with sections of the working class, to a breaking point. The Tenth Congress of the Party, which met during the uprising, was the one that initiated the New Economic Policy.

21. The call of the German Communist Party in March, 1921, for an armed insurrection to seize power, in connection with the struggles in Central Germany, was a direct manifestation of the so-called “theory of the offensive,” whose principal inspirers and theorizers in the Comintern were Bukharin and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Zinoviev. The party leadership not only plunged its membership into what was obviously doomed in advance as a futile military action by a small minority of the working class, but after the collapse of the March Action, it declared that it would repeat the action at the first opportunity. These actions, it was stated by the ultra-Leftists, would electrify or galvanize the working class and cause them, each time, to mobilize into an ever greater force which would eventually overthrow capitalist rule. “If it is asked what was actually new about the March Action, it must be answered: precisely that which our opponents reprove, namely, that the party went into struggle without concerning itself about who would follow it.” (A. Maslow, Die Internationale, Berlin 1921, p.254) “The March Action as an isolated action of the party would be – our opponents are right to this extent – a crime against the proletariat. The March Action as the introduction to a series of constantly rising actions, a redeeming act.” (A. Thalheimer, Taktik and Organisation der revolutionären Offensive, Berlin 1921, p.6) “The slogan of the party can, therefore, be nothing but: offensive, offensive at any cost, with all means, in every situation that offers serious possibilities of success.” (Heyder, Ibid., p.22) The Third Congress of the Comintern, confronted with this problem, was almost on the verge of a split. The Bukharin wing was supported by the majority of the delegates and leaders, including Pepper (Pogany) and Rakosi, who had really directed the March Action, Bela Kun, Munzenherg, Thalheimer, Frölich, most of the Italians, etc. Lenin, who placed himself demonstratively in the “Right wing of the Congress,” threatened it with a split if the supporters of Bukharin and the “offensive” carried the day. Supported by Trotsky, and through the medium of Radek, who played the role of a conciliator, Zinoviev and Bukharin were outvoted in the Russian delegation, with the final result that Lenin’s views triumphed. The theses of the Third Congress and the slogan “To the masses!” which introduced the broad policy of the united front adopted shortly afterward, was a definite blow at the Leftists and put an effective end for a long period of time to putschist moods in the International.

22. The criticism of the French party by the delegate from the Communist Party of Luxemburg, L. Reiland, dealt with the strike that broke out in March, 1921, in the mining district of his country, that is, on the very frontier of France. The Communist Party of France, then headed by the notorious opportunists, L.-O. Frossard and Marcel Cachin, paid no attention at all to the strike in the columns of the party organ, l’Humanité, nor was any protest made when the armed forces of France intervened and helped to crush the strike with the aid of bayonets. Reiland proposed the expulsion from the International of Frossard and Cachin. Coming on the heels of the speech by Maurice Laporte, leader of the French Communist Youth, who proposed that the party should have organized for a struggle against the mobilization of the Class of 1919 “with revolver in hand,” Reiland’s criticism were exploited by the ultra-Leftists at the Third Congress and drew the fire of Trotsky and Lenin.

23. Early in 1925, Bukharin, addressing himself to the Russian peasantry, exclaimed: “Enrich yourselves “ – the slogan with which Guizot helped to fortify the French reaction. This was one of the many manifestations of the growing tendency of the ruling Soviet bureaucracy to base itself upon the rich peasants (Kulaks), a tendency which was one of the main causes of the rise of an Opposition in Leningrad, led by Zinoviev, Kamenev and Krupskaya, in 1925, and the merger of the Trotskyist and Zinovievist groups in 1926 into the United Opposition bloc. – Towards the end of 1925, Bukharin made a formal acknowledgment of error in advancing his slogan, but nothing was changed in the main policies of the Stalin-Bukharin régime with regard to the countryside.

24. In a polemic against Radek in 1929, Trotsky wrote concerning his pre-revolutionary conflict with Lenin: “... I never endeavored to create a grouping on the basis of the theory of the permanent revolution. My inner-party stand was a conciliatory one and when at certain moments I strove for groupings, then it was precisely on this basis. My conciliationism was derived from a certain Social Revolutionary fatalism. I believed that the logic of the class struggle would compel both factions to pursue the same revolutionary line. The great historical significance of Lenin’s stand was still unclear to me at that time, his policy of irreconcilable ideological demarcation and, when necessary, split, for the purpose of uniting and steeling the backbone of the truly revolutionary party ... By striving for unity at all costs, I involuntarily and unavoidably had to idealize the Centrist tendencies in Menshevism. Despite the threefold episodic attempts, I arrived at no common work with the Mensheviks, and I could not arrive at it. Simultaneously, however, the conciliatory line brought me into an all the harsher position towards Bolshevism, since Lenin, in contrast to the Mensheviks, mercilessly rejected conciliationism and could do no different. It is obvious that no faction could be created on the platform of conciliationism.” (The Permanent Revolution, New York 1931, p.20ff.)

25. Lenin urged the advance on Warsaw in the summer of 1920, in the hope of effecting a juncture with the revolutionary workers of the capital and ensuring the establishment of a Polish Soviet Republic. Trotsky counselled against a further advance, on the ground that the army forces were too exhausted and that they were moving too speedily away from their principal bases of economic as well as military support. With the aid of French imperialism, Pilsudski was able to drive back the Red Army after it had succeeded in coming within a short distance of Warsaw itself. Lenin later acknowledged that Trotsky had been correct in his views.

Last Chapter   |   Stalin School of Falsification Index   |   Next Chapter

return return return return return

Last updated on: 4.4.2007