Leon Trotsky

The Stalin School of Falsification

Letter to the Bureau of
Party History

(Part 3)

Concerning Economic Questions

48. Martinov maintains, as is well known, that civil war and War Communism are “Trotskyism.” This doctrine has now acquired a vast popularity. The creation of industrial armies, the militarization of labor and other measures flowing inevitably, just as did food distribution, from the conditions of that epoch, are portrayed by philistines and vulgarians as manifestations of “Trotskyism.” On what side did Lenin stand in these questions?

In the organization section of the Seventh Congress of the Soviets, we were debating the question of bureaucratism in the directing centers. In my speech I pointed out that bossism might choke our industries; that centralism is not an absolute principle; that the necessary coordination between local initiative and the leadership of the center had yet to be found in practice. Lenin in his speech emphasized his full agreement with me on centralism and added:

“Let me say in conclusion that I agreed entirely with comrade Trotsky when he said that there have been some very wrong attempts made here to present our disputes as a disagreement between workers and peasants and to mix up with this question, the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat.” (Speech on Dec. 8, 1918, Collected Works, Vol.XVI, p.433)

“Our disputes” – this means those very prolonged disputes in which Lenin and Trotsky were on one side; Rykov, Tomsky, Larin and others, on the other side. In these disputes, as in so many others, Stalin remained behind the scenes maneuvering and waiting.

49. At the caucus of the Bolshevik fraction of the All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions, January 12, 1920, Lenin had the following to say on the subject of “our disputes” with Rykov, Tomsky and others:

“Who started this disgusting departmental squabble? Not comrade Trotsky. There is none of it in his theses. It was comrades Lomov, Rykov and Larin. Every one of them holds the highest office. They are all members of the Presidium of the All-Russian Council of National Economy. Among them is the chairman of the Council who has so many titles that if I wanted to list them all I should lose five minutes of my ten minute speech ... Rykov and others have got up here and started a disgusting literary squabble. Comrade Trotsky posed the question of new problems and they have started a departmental polemic with the Seventh Congress of the Soviets. Of course, we know that comrades Lomov, Rykov and Larin did not say this directly in their extremely stupid article. As some orator here has said: ‘You must not indulge in polemics with the Seventh Congress of the Soviets.’ If the Seventh Congress of the Soviets made a mistake, correct that mistake in the meeting, say that it is a mistake, and stop babbling about centralization and decentralization. Comrade Rykov says that it is necessary to talk about centralization and decentralization because comrade Trotsky did not notice it. This man assumes that the people sitting here are so backward that they have forgotten the first lines of comrade Trotsky’s theses which say: ‘Economic administration assumes a general plan,’ etc. Do you know how to read Russian, most condescending Rykov, Lomov and Larin? Let’s go back to the time when you were sixteen years old and start babbling about centralization and decentralization. Is that the governmental work of the members of the collegium, of the Presidium of the All-Russian Council of National Economy? This is nonsense and pathetic rubbish – it is a shame and disgrace to waste time on it.”

And further:

“War gave us the ability to carry discipline to a maximum and to centralize tens and hundreds of thousands of people, comrades, who died to save the Soviet Republic. Without that we should have all gone to hell.”

I might add that this speech, which is at the disposition of the Lenin Institute, has not been published simply because it is inconvenient for the present “historians.” The concealment from the party of a part of our ideological inheritance from Lenin is a necessary element in the departure from the Leninist course. The speech of Lenin quoted above will be brought forward when the time comes to decapitate Rykov.

50. About my work on the railway transport service, Lenin said at the Eighth Congress of the Soviets:

“... You have seen already, by the way, from the theses of comrade Emshanov and comrade Trotsky that in this sphere [the re-establishment of our transport] we have to do with a real plan, looking ahead many years. Order No. l042 [26] reckons on five years. In five years we can restore our transport, reduce the number of broken-down locomotives and, if you please, as the most difficult I emphasize in the ninth thesis the indication that we might even shorten that period, as has been done.

“When big plans are made based on a many years’ calculation, there are often skeptics who say: ‘How can we calculate years ahead? God help us to do what we have to do right now.’ Comrades, it is necessary to learn how to combine both. You can’t work without having a plan that assumes a long period and serious success. That this is necessary is proved by the indubitable improvement of the transport work. I want to call your attention to that place in the ninth thesis where it says that the term for re-establishment would be four and a half years but that it is already shortened because we are working above normal. The term is already cut down to three and a half years. That is the way we should work in the other branches of our industry.” (Speech on Dec. 2, 1920, Collected Works, Vol.XVII, pp.423f.)

I remark here that a year after I had issued Order No. 1042, in the order of comrade Dzerzhinsky, Concerning the Fundamental Principles of Further Work of the People’s Commissariat of Means of Communication, for May 27, 1921, we read:

“Owing to the fact that the lowering of the norms set by Orders No.1042 and 1157, the first brilliant experiment in planned industrial work, is temporary, and due to the existing fuel crisis ... measures must be taken to support and restore the equipment and the shops ...”

51. In 1924, Zinoviev put in circulation a charge against Trotsky that by issuing the railway “Order No. 1042,” Trotsky almost ruined the transportation system. With this for a canvas, Stalin, Yaroslavsky and Rudzutak later embroidered various designs. In its day the legend made the rounds of all the publications of the Comintern. We have already quoted Lenin’s and Dzerzhinsky’s real opinions concerning Order No.1042 and its significance for transportation. But there is comment of a more recent origin. In the Yearbook of the Communist International issued in 1923, that is, on the eve of the campaign against Trotsky, the article entitled The Transportation System of the RSFSR and Its Re-establishment has the following to say:

“At that time the transportation system was already completely disorganized. Not only was there no talk of re-establishing it but matters had reached such a stage that in the Council of Labor and Defense, Professor Lomonosov, a member of the Collegium of the People’s Commissariat of Means of Communication, made a report to the effect that the transportation system was on the verge of complete and inevitable stoppage. Comrade Trotsky, on taking charge of transportation, advanced two slogans which proved of decisive significance not only for transportation but for the economy of the country as a whole ... Order No.1042 is an historical event. According to that order, the locomotive park should have been restored in five years. Communist propaganda based on that order and communist enthusiasm called forth by it must be regarded as the highest level attained by the enthusiastic readiness of the masses for heroic achievements in labor.” (Yearbook of the Communist International, Petrograd-Moscow 1923, p.363)

You will observe that “Order No.1042” served different functions at different periods.

52. As to the alleged attempt on my part to shut down the Putilov shops: In comrade Rykov’s theses written in October 1927 – that is, four years after the question arose – there appears again the legend about my urging the shutting down of the Putilov shops. In this case, as, by the way, in many others, comrade Rykov is acting very incautiously, collecting material against himself.

The fact is that the proposal to shut down the Putilov shops was introduced in the Political Bureau at the beginning of 1923 by comrade Rykov himself as Chairman of the All Russian Council of National Economy, Rykov demonstrated that the Putilov shops will not be needed in the course of the next ten years and that trying to maintain them artificially will have a harmful effect upon other factories. The Political Bureau – and I among others – took the data adduced by comrade Rykov for good coin. I was not the only one who voted for the closing of the Putilov shops upon the proposal of comrade Rykov. So did Stalin for that matter. Comrade Zinoviev was away on leave of absence. He protested against the decision. The question was raised again in the Political Bureau and the decision reversed. Thus the initiative in this affair was wholly in the hands of Rykov as Chairman of the All-Russian Council of National Economy. To what extent must the feeling of impunity have grown, when Rykov dares, after a short four years, to attribute to me his own “sin.” However, don’t worry. This fact will no doubt crop up again in a new form, when the time comes for Stalin to “review” Rykov. You won’t have long to wait.

53. You delude the party with tales about how “Lenin wanted to send Trotsky to the Ukraine as People’s Commissar of Food Supplies.” On that subject you confuse and twist the facts beyond recognition. I made many such journeys at the direction of the Central Committee. In full agreement with Lenin I went to the Ukraine to improve the organization of the coal industry in the Don Basin. In full agreement with Lenin I worked as Chairman of the Soviet of the Industrial Army in the Ural. It is perfectly true that Lenin insisted that I go to the Ukraine for two weeks – for two weeks! – in order to improve the organization of the food supplies. I got in touch with comrade Rakovsky by telephone. He informed me that all the necessary measures to guarantee food for the workers’ centers had been taken without my help. Vladimir Ilyich at first insisted upon my going but afterward abandoned the idea. That was all there was to it. It was a question of a practical fighting problem which Lenin considered the most important for the given moment.

54. Here is what Lenin said at the Eighth All-Russian Congress of the Soviets, December 22, 1920, on the question of my journey to the Don Basin:

“Coal from the Don Basin which we were receiving at the rate of 25,000,000 poods a month has now reached 50,000,000, thanks to the work of the Plenipotentiary Commission which was sent to the Don Basin with comrade Trotsky as chairman and which took the decision that experienced and responsible workers should be assigned there. At present, comrade Piatakov has been sent there to direct the work.” (Collected Works, Vol.XVII, p.422)

55. A propos of this: Comrade Piatakov was crowded out of the Don Basin by the underground intrigues of Stalin. Lenin considered this a serious blow to the coal industry, expressed his indignation against it in the Political Bureau and protested publicly against the disorganizing activities of Stalin.

“That we have had immense success was demonstrated especially, for example, in the Don Basin where such comrades as Piatakov have been working with extraordinary devotion and with extraordinary success in the sphere of the large- scale industries.” (Lenin’s report at the Ninth Congress of the Soviets, Dec.23, 1921, Collected Works, Vol.XVIII, Pt.1, p.408)

“In the central management of the coal industry stood people not only of undoubted devotion but people of real education and great ability, and I think I make no mistake if I say, talented people, and, therefore, the attention of the Central Committee was directed thither ... We, the Central Committee, have after all had a certain amount of experience and we decided unanimously not to remove the managing groups ... I made inquiries among the Ukrainian comrades. And comrade Ordjonikidze I asked especially, and also the Central Committee directed him to go there and find out what was happening. Quite evidently there was intrigne there and every other kind of mess which the Bureau of Party History will be unable to unravel in ten years, should they ever under take the job. But the practical result was that, contrary to the unanimous orders of the Central Committee, the managing group was replaced by another.” (Lenin’s report at the Eleventh Party Congress, March 27, 1923)

It is known to all the members of the old Political Bureau – Stalin best of all – that the acrid words of Lenin about intrigue against devoted, educated and talented leaders in the Don Basin referred to the intrigue of Stalin against Piatakov.

56. During the Ninth Congress of the Soviets in December 1921, Lenin wrote some theses concerning the fundamental problems of industrial construction. I remember I answered that the theses were excellent and that there was only one point lacking, that about the specialists. (In a few words I indicated the contents of that point.) The same day I received the following letter from Vladimir Ilyich:

Strictly confidential

“Comrade Trotsky:

“I am sitting in a meeting of non-party members with Kalinin. He advises me to make a short speech on that resolution which I introduced (and to which you proposed an amendment, entirely correct, about the specialists).

“Couldn’t you undertake a very short report on that resolution on Wednesday – at the Plenum of thie congress.

“Your military report is, of course, ready and you will be through with it on Tuesday.

“It is impossible for me to undertake a second speech at the congress. Drop me a note or send a telephonogram. It will be best if you agree, and it can be confirmed by telephone with the vote of the Political Bureau.



Our solidarity on the fundamental problems of socialist construction was so complete that Vladimir Ilyich considered it possible to authorize me to make a report in his place on those questions. I remember that I persuaded him by telephone to appear himself on this important matter if only his health permitted. In the end that was done.


57. The falsifications and fictions in relation to the last period of Lenin’s life are especially numerous. It would behoove Stalin to be extremely cautious about this period when Vladimir Ilyich arrived at certain final conclusions about Stalin.

It is naturally difilcult to expound the inner history of the Political Bureau during Vladimir Ilyich’s active life. There were no m]nutes taken and only the decisions were recorded. That is why it is so easy to lift out separate, completely insignificant episodes, distort them and puff them up or, indeed, simply invent “disagreements” where there was not a sign of one. Really shameful in its stupidity is the legend about “the cuckoo” which is supposed to indicate, in retro spect, my “pessimism.” The “cuckoo” is the last resort of Stalin and Bukharin when they are driven to the wall by arguments or events. The “cuckoo” is borrowed from my conversation with Vladimir Ilyich in the first period of the NEP. The drain of our limited state resources awakened in me a serious alarm both from the point of view of the waste of the already limited resources of the workers’ government as well as from the point of view of the possibi!ity of swift accu mulations of private capital at this critical period. I talked about that more than once with Vladimir Ilyich. In order to investigate the industrial processes in progress in the coun try, I organized at that time the so-called Moscow Amalgamated Network. In one of my conversations with Lenin, referring to certain flagrant examples of wastefulness, I used approximately this phrase: “If we administer things that way, the cuckoo will soon he singing our death-knell.” Some thing of that kind. Phrases like that were repeated by every one of us more than once. How many times did Lenin exclaim:

“If this keeps on, we’re gone for sure.” It was a strong statement but by no means a “pessimistic” prognosis.

That is approximately the history of the “cuckoo” with the dividends of which Stalin and Bukharin are trying to pay their debts for the Chinese Revolution, the Anglo-Russian Committee, the economic leadership and the party regime.

To be sure, practical disagreements arose often enough in the Political Bureau and among them disagreements between Vladimir Ilyich and me. The whole question is, what place did these disagreements occupy in the common work? On that theme the Stalin faction, with extreme lack of caution, is putting into circulation spiteful legends which go to pieces at the first touch of real fact, and which will ultimately turn wholly against Stalin.

58. To refute these legends it is necessary to take first of all the period of Lenin’s illness – more accurately, the period between the two heavy attacks of it ” when the doctors permitted Lenin to take part in the work, and when many important questions were decided by correspondence. In this correspondence, that is, in unquestionable documents – it is possible. to see what debated questions arose in the Central Committee, who had disagreements with whom, and in part also what was the attitude of Vladimir Ilyich toward individual comrades. I will adduce a few examples.


59. In the Central Committee at the end of 1922, there arose a very fundamental disagreement on the question of the monopoly of foreign trade. I do not want to exaggerate its significance in retrospect, but the political groupings created in the Central Committee around that question were, never theless, very characteristic.

On the initiative of comrade Sokolnikov, the Central Committee adopted a decision which meant a serious breach in the monopoly of foreign trade. Vladimir Ilyich was decisively against this resolution. Learning from Krassin that I was not present at the Plenum of the Central Committee and that I had expressed myself against the resolution, Lenin entered into correspondence with me. Those letters are not yet pub lished, any more than the correspondence of Lenin with the Political Bureau on the question of the monopoly of foreign trade. The censorship established over our inheritance from Lenin is ruthless. You publish two or three words written by Lenin on a scrap of paper, if only they may directly or indirectly be used to injure the Opposition. You suppress documents of vast and fundamental significance, if they directly or indirectly involve Stalin.

I quote the letters from Lenin touching that question:

“Comrade Trotsky:

“I am sending you a letter from Krestinsky. Write immediately. Do you agree? I will fight at the Plenum for the monopoly. And you?



“P.S. Better return it quick.”

“To Comrades Frumkin and Stomoniakov, [Non-members of the Central Committee with whom Lenin entered into a “conspiracy” against the majority of the committee! – L.T.] copy to Trotsky:

“In view of my increasing sickness, I cannot be present at the Plenum. I am conscious how awkwardly, and even worse than awkwardly, I am behaving in relation to you, but all the same, I cannot possibly speak.

“Today I have received the enclosed letter from comrade Trotsky, with which I agree in all essentials, with the exception perhaps of the last lines about the State Planning Commission. I will write Trotsky of my agreement with him and ask him to take upon himself, in view of my sickness, the defense of my position at the Plenum.

“I think that this defense ought to be divided into three parts. First, the defense of the fundamental principle of the monopoly of foreign trade, its full and final confirmation; second, delegate to a special commission the detailed consideration of those practical plans for realizing this monopoly which are advanced by Avanesov – at least half of this commission ought to consist of representatives from the Commissariat of Foreign Trade; third, the question of the work of the State Planning Commission ought to be considered separately. And by the way, I think that there will be no disagreement between me and Trotsky, if he confines himself to the demand that the work of the State Planning Commission, carried on under the aegis of the development of state industry, should give its opinion about all parts of the activity of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Trade.

“I hope to write again today or tomorrow, and send you my declaration on the essence of the given problem at the Plenum of the Central Committee. At any rate, I think that this question is of such fundamental importance that in case I do not get the agreement of the P!enum, I ought to carry it into the party congress, and before that, announce the exist ing disagreement in the fraction of our party at the coming congress of the Soviets.



“Dictated to L.F. [Fotieva, Lenin’s Secretary.]


“Dec. 12, 1922.”

“To Comrade Trotsky, copy to Frumkin and Stomoniakov:

“Comrade Trotsky:

“I received your comment on the letter of Krestinsky and the plans of Avanesov. I think that we are in maximum agreement, and I think that the question of the State Planning Commission in the given situation excludes (or postpones) the dispute as to whether the State Planning Commission needs to have administrative rights.

“At any rate, I earnestly ask you to take upon yourself at the coming Plenum, the defense of our common opinion of the unconditional necessity of preserving and ree~nforcing the monopoly of foreign trade.

“Inasmuch as the preceding Plenum adopted a decision going wholly contrary to the monopoly of foreign trade, and since it is impossible to yield on this question, I think, as I say in my letter to Frumkin and Stomoniakov, that in case of our defeat we must carry the question into the party con gress. For that we will need a short exposition of our dis agreement before the party fraction of the coming congress of the Soviets. If I can, I will write one, and I should be very glad if you would do the same thing. Vacillation on this question will do us untold injury. The argument against the monopoly amounts to an accusation of inadequacy against our apparatus. But our apparatus is inadequate here and everywhere, and to renounce the monopoly because of the inadequacy of the apparatus would be to pour the baby out with the bath.



“Dictated by telephone to L F.


“Dec.18, 1922”

“To Comrade Trotsky:

“I send you a letter received today from Frumkin. I also think that it is absolutely necessary to settle this question once and for all. If there is any fear that this question excites me and might have a bad effect on my health, I think this is wholly wrong because I should be ten thousand times more excited by a delay which would make completely unstable our policy upon one of the fundamental questions. Therefore, I call your attention to the enclosed letter and earnestly ask you to support an immediate consideration of this question. I am convinced that if we are in danger of losing out, it would be far more advantageous to lose out before the party congress, and immediately turn to the fraction of the Soviet congress than to lose out after the congress. Perhaps such a compromise as this would be accepted: Adopt the decision about confirmation of the monopoly now but raise the ques tion nevertheless at the party congress and make that agr~ ment now. No other compromise, in my opinion, would be to our interest in any circumstances.



“Dictated by telephone to L. F.


“Dec.15, 1922”

“Comrade Trotsky:

“I think we have arrived at a full agreement. I ask you to announce our solidarity in the Plenum. I am in hope that our decision will go through, for a part of those voting against in October have now come over partially or completely to our side.

“If, unexpectedly, our decision does not go through, we will turn to our fraction of the Soviet congress and declare that we are going to carry the question into the party congress.

“Notify me in that case and I will send my declaration. If this question should be removed from the order of the day of the present Plenum (which I do.not expect and against which, of course, you must protest with all your strength in our common name), then I think we must turn just the same to the fraction of the Soviet congress and demand the transfer of this question to the party congress. For any more waver ing is absolutely impermissible.

“All the materials which I sent you, you can keep until after the Plenum.


“Dec.15, 1922”

“Leon Davidovich:

“Professor Forster today permitted Vladimir ilyich to dictate a letter and he dictated to me the following letter to you:

“’Comrade Trotsky:

“’It seems we captured the position without firing a shot by mere movements of manoeuvre. I propose that we should not stop but continue the attack, and to that effect introduce a resolution to raise the question at the party congress of re-enforcing the monopoly of foreign trade and of measures looking to its better enactment. Announce this at the fraction of the Soviet congress. I hope you have no objection and will not fail to make a report at the fraction.


“ ‘N. Lenin.’

“Vladimir Ilyich also asks you to telephone an answer.


“N.K. Ulianova
“Dec.21, 1922”

Neither the content nor the tone of these letters needs any comment.

On the question of foreign trade, the Central Committee adopted a new decision annulling the old one. The joking words in Lenin’s letter about a victory gained “without firing a shot,” refer to that.

It remains to ask: Suppose that among those voting for the resolution disrupting the monopoly of foreign trade had appeared the name of Trotsky, while Stalin, in agreement with Lenin, had fought for the annullment of that resolution, how many books, brochures and “cribs” would have been written in proof of the petty bourgeois and kulak deviation of Trotsky?


60. I related our “wastefulness” to the planlessness of our national economy in general. There were differences in the Political Bureau on the question of planned management and the role of the State Planning Commission. Among them, differences between Vladimir Ilyich and me. There were debates about the composition of the planning bureaus.

In his letter to the members of the Political Bureau on the question of the State Planning Commission, Vladimir Ilyich wrote as follows:

“As to giving legislative functions to the State Planning Commission:

“Comrade Trotsky advanced this idea, it seems, long ago. I opposed it then because I thought that there would be in that case a fundamental incoherence in our system of legislative institutions, but after attentively reconsidering the matter, I find that there is an essentially healthy thought here: The State Planning Commission stands somewhat apart from our legislative institutions, notwithstanding the fact that as a meeting center of the leaders, experts and representatives of science and technology, it possesses, as a matter of fact, the best possible data for a correct judgment of things ... In that respect, I think I should and must come over to comrade Trotsky, but not in respect to giving the chairmanship of the State Planning Commission to any one of our political leaders, or to the Chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy, and so forth.” (Dec. 27, 1922.)

These disagreements about the State Planning Commission were mentioned above in Lenin’s letters to me on the question of the monopoly of foreign trade. Lenin there proposed to postpone that question, describing it – not quite accurately – as a question of the administrative rights of the State Planning Commission. In insisting on the all-sided rceenforcement of the State Planning Commission, the subordination to it of the planning work of all the departments, I did not propose to give the State Planning Commission administrative rights, believing that they ought to be concentrated as before in the hands of the Council of Labor and Defense. But that is not the essential thing now. Both the character and the tone of the above letter show how calmly, and purely as a matter of business, Lenin regarded our previously existing disagreements, proposing to the Political Bureau to resolve those disagreements in the direction of a very close approach to the views which I had defended. How many lies have been told the party on this subject!


61. I will not quote here Lenin’s principal letter against Stalin on the national question. It is printed in the stenographic reports of the Plenum of July 1926 and, moreover, it is being passed around in individual copies. They will fail to conceal the letter. [To my regret, at the moment of the publication of this book, a copy of the letter is not in my possession. It is of exceptional interest. – L.T.] But there are other documents on the same theme, completely unknown to the party. The keepers of the archives and the historians of the Stalin school are taking every measure to prevent those documents from appearing. They will continue to do so. They are quite capable, in fact, of simply destroying them.

For that reason I think it necessary to quote here the most important excerpts from an earlier letter of Lenin and the answer of Stalin on the question of the structure of the USSR. Lenin’s letter, dated Sept.27, 1922, was addressed to comrade Kamenev, a copy being sent to all the members of the Po!itical Bureau. Here is the beginning of the letter:

“You probably have already received from Stalin the resolution of his commission on the admission of the independent republics into the RSFSR.

“If you have not received it, get it from the secretary and please read it immediately. I spoke about it yesterday with Sokolnikov, today with Stalin, tomorrow I will see Mdivani (a Georgian communist suspected of advocating ‘independence’).

“In my opinion the question is supremely important. Stalin is somewhat inclined to hurry. You must think it over well; Zinoviev too. You once intended to take this matter up and did so to some extent.

“Stalin has already agreed to one concession in Section I; instead of saying ‘entry’ into the RSFSR to say: ‘formal unification with the RSFSR in a union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia.’ I trust the spirit of this concession is obvious. We acknowledge ourselves on an equal basis with the Ukrainian SSR and the other republics and together with them on the basis of equality we enter into a new union, a new federation – ’the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia’.”

There follows a whole series of Lenin’s corrections made in the same spirit. In the concluding part of his letter, Lenin says:

“Stalin agreed to postpone introducing the resolution in the Political Bureau until my arrival. I arrive Monday, October 2. I should like to have a meeting with you and Rykov for a couple of hours – in the morning, say, from one to two and, if necessary, in the evening, say five to seven or six to eight.

“Here is my preliminary project. On the basis of conversations with Mdivani and other comrades, I will fight also for other changes. I urge you to do the same and answer me.



“P.S. Send copies to all members of the Political Bureau.”

Stalin sent his answer to Lenin to the members of the Political Bureau the same day, Sept.27, 1922. I quote from his answer two important passages:

“Lenin’s correction to paragraph 2, proposing to create, along with the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the RSFSR, a Central Executive Committee of the Federation should not, in my opinion, be adopted. The existence of two Central Executive Committees in Moscow, one of which will obviously represent a ‘lower house’ and the other an ‘upper house’ will give us nothing but conflict and debate.”

And further:

“4. On the subject of paragraph 4, in my opinion, comrade Lenin himself ‘hurried’ a little, demanding a fusion of the Commissariats of Finance, Food Supply, Labor and National Economy with the commissariats of the Federation. There is hardly a doubt that this ‘hurriedness’ will ‘supply fuel to the advocates of independence,’ to the detriment of the national liberalism of comrade Lenin.

“5. Comrade Lenin’s correction of paragraph 5 is, in my opinion, superfluous.


“J. Stalin.”

This extraordinarily illuminating correspondence, concealed, like many similar documents from the party, preceded the famous letter of Lenin on the national question. In his remarks upon Stalin’s draft, Lenin is exceptionally reserved and mild in his expression. Lenin still hoped, in that period, to adjust the matter without a major conflict. He gently accuses Stalin of “hurrying.” Stalin’s accusation against Mdivani of “independence,” Lenin places in quotation marks, obviously dissociating himself from that accusation. Moreover, Lenin especially emphasizes the fact that he is introducing his corrections on the basis of conversations with Mdivani and other comrades.

Stalin’s answer, on the contrary, is marked by rudeness; the concluding phrase of the fourth point is especially worthy of attention:

“There is hardly a doubt that this ‘hurriedness’ [Lenin’s ‘hurriedness’ – L.T.] will supply fuel to the advocates of independence, to the detriment of the national liberalism [!] of comrade Lenin.”

Thus Lenin had come to the point of being accused of national liberalism!

The further course of the struggle over the national question showed Lenin that he could not straighten things out by means of internal and, so to speak, family methods of influencing Stalin; that it was necessary to appeal to the Congress and to the party. With this purpose, Lenin wrote in several installments his letter on the national question.

62. Vladimir Ilyich attached enormous importance to the “Georgian” question, not only because he feared the consequences of a false national policy in Georgia – a fear which had been wholly confirmed – but also because in that question was revealed to him the falseness of Stalin’s whole course on the national question. The exhaustive and fundamental letter of Lenin on the national question is concealed from the party to this day. The pretense that Lenin did not intend his letter to be read to the party is false to the core. Did Lenin intend his remarks in note books or on margins of the hooks he read to be published? The fact is that you publish everything which directly or indirectly strikes at the Opposition but you hide the programmatic letter of Lenin giving his fundamental position on the national question.

Here are two quotations from this letter:

“I think that here the hastiness and administrative impulsiveness of Stalin played a fatal rôle, and also his spitefulness against the notorious ‘social nationalism.’ Spitefulness in general plays the worst possible rôle in politics.” (From Lenin’s note of December 80, 1922)

That is clear enough!

“It is, of course, necessary to hold Stalin and Dzerzhinsky responsible for all this out-and-out Great Russian nationalistic campaign.” (From Lenin’s letter of December 31, 1922)

Vladimir Ilyich sent me this letter at the moment when he felt that he would hardly be able to appear at the Twelfth Congress. Here are the notes which I received from him in the course of the last two days of his participation in political life:

“Strictly confidential. Personal.

“Esteemed Comrade Trotsky:

“I earnestly ask you to undertake the defense of the Georgian affair at the Central Committee of the party. That affair is now under ‘prosecution’ at the hands of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky and I cannot rely on their impartiality. Indeed, quite the contrary! If you would agree to undertake its defense, I could be at rest. If for some reason you do not agree, send me back all the papers. I will consider that a sign of your disagreement.

“With the very best comradely greetings,



“Dictated to M.V. “(Checked by M. Volodicheva)


“March 5, 1923”

“To Comrade Trotsky:

“To his letter, sent to you by telephone, Vladimir Ilyich asks me to add for your information that comrade Kamenev is going to Georgia on Wednesday, and Vladimir Ilyich asks me to find out whether you do not want to send something there from you.


“M. Volodicheva”

“To Comrades Mdivani, Makharadze and others:
(copy to Comrades Trotsky and Kamenev)

“Esteemed comrades:

“I am with you in this matter with all my heart. I am outraged at the rudeness of Ordjonikidze and the connivance of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky. I am preparing for you notes and a speech.


“With esteem,
“March 6, 1923.”

“To Comrade Kamenev (copy to comrade Trotsky):

“Leon Borisovich:

“Supplementing our telephone conversation, I commumcate to you as acting chairman of the Political Bureau the following:

“As I already told you, December 31, 1922, Vladimir Ilyich dictated an article on the national question.

“This question has worried him extremely and he was preparing to speak on it at the party congress. Not long before his last illness he told me that he would publish this article, but later. After that he took sick without giving final directions.

“Vladimir Ilyich considered this article to be a guiding one and extremely important. At his direction it was communicated to comrade Trotsky whom Vladimir Ilyich authorized to defend his point of view upon the given question at the party congress in view of their solidarity upon it.

“The only copy of the article in my possession is preserved at the direction of Vladimir Ilyich in his secret archive.

“I bring the above facts to your attention.

“I could not do it earlier since I returned to work only today after a sickness.


“L. Fotieva
“(Personal secretary of Comrade Lenin)
“March 16, 1923”

After all the slanders with which they have surrounded the question of Lenin’s attitude to me, I cannot refrain from calling attention to the signature of his first letter – “with the very best comradely greetings.” Whoever knows Lenin’s parsimony of words and his manner of conversation and correspondence will realize that Lenin did not sign those words to his letter accidentally. It was not accidental either that Stalin, when he was compelled to read this correspondence at the Plenum of July 1926, substituted for the words “with the very best comradely greetings“ the official phrase “with communist greetings.” Here again Stalin was true to himself.

68. The ahove quoted notes of Vladimir Ilyich on the national question require a brief explanation. Vladimir Ilyich was at the time ill in bed. My own health was poor. Vladimir Ilyich’s secretaries, comrades Glyasser and Fotieva, came to me during the last day before the second and final illness of Lenin. When Fotieva brought me the so-called “national” letter of Lenin, I suggested that since Kamenev was leaving that day for Georgia to the party congress, it might be advisable to show him the letter so that he might undertake the necessary measures. Fotieva replied: “I don’t know. Vladimir Ilyich didn’t instruct me to transmit the letter to comrade Kamenev, but I can ask him.” A few minutes later she returned with the following message: “It is entirely out of the question. Vladimir Ilyich says that Kamenev would show the letter to Stalin and Stalin would make a rotten compromise in order then to deceive.”

However, almost immediately thereafter, it may have been within half an hour, Fotieva returned from Vladimir Ilyich with another message. According to her, Vladimir Ilyich decided to act immediately and wrote the above quoted note to Mdivani and Makharadze, with instructions to transmit copies to Kamenev and myself.

“How do you explain this change?” I asked Fotieva.

“Evidently,” she replied, “Vladiiinir Ilyich is feeling worse and is in haste to do everything he can.”


64. Lenin’s proposal to reorganize the Commissariat of Workers’ and Peasants’Inspection (Rabkrin) was met with extreme hostility by Stalin’s group. I told of this in very restrained language in one of my former letters to the members of the Central Committee. I reproduce the passage here:

“But how did the Political Bureau react to Lenin’s project for the reorganization of Rabkrin? Comrade Bukharin hesitated to print Lenin’s article, while Lenin, on his side, insisted upon its immediate appearance. N.K. Krupskaya told me by telephone about this article and asked me to take steps to get it printed as soon as possible. At the meeting of the Political Bureau, called immediately upon my demand, all those present – comrades Stalin, Molotov, Kuibyshev, Rykov, Kalinin, Bukharin – were not only against comrade Lenin’s plan but against the very printing of the article. The members of the Secretariat were particularly harsh and categorical in their opposition. In view of the insistent demand of comrade Lenin that the article should be shown to him in print, comrade Kuibyshev, afterwards the head of Rabkrin proposed at the above-mentioned session of the Political Bureau that one special number of Pravda should be printed with Lenin’s article and shown to him in order to placate him, while the article itself should be concealed from the party.

“I argued that the radical reform proposed by comrade Lenin was progressive in itself – provided, of course, it were properly carried out – but that even if one held that the contrary was true, it would be absurd and ridiculous to defend the party against the proposals of comrade Lenin. I was answered with arguments, all in the same spirit of formalism: ‘We are the Central Committee. We will take the responsibility. We will decide.’ I was supported only by com rade Kamenev who appeared at the meeting of the Political Bureau almost an hour late.

“The chief argument which induced them to print the article was that an article by Lenin could not be concealed from the party in any case. Later on that article became a special weapon in the hands of those who had not wanted to print it, a weapon which they attempted to use against me! Comrade Kuibyshev, then a member of the Secretariat, was placed at the head of the Central Control Commission. Instead of a struggle against Lenin’s plan, a policy of ‘drawing its teeth’ was adopted. Whether the Central Control Commission acquired in this way the character of an independent, impartial institution, defending and confirming party justice and unity against all kinds of administrative excesses – it is hardly necessary to go into that question since the answer is perfectly clear.” (Trotsky, Letter to the Members of the CC and the CCC, Oct.23, 1923)

The conduct of Stalin upon this question first clearly proved to me that the proposal to reorganize the Central Control Commission and the Central Committee was directed solely and entirely against the bureaucratic power of Stalin, then already excessive, and against his disloyalty. Hence Stalin’s stubborn opposition to Lenin’s plan.


65. At the Presidium of the Central Control Commission I reported about my last conversation with Vladimir Ilyich, not long before the second attack of his illness. I quote from the report:

“Lenin summoned me to his room in the Kremlin, spoke of the terrible growth of bureaucratism in our Soviet apparatus and of the necessity of finding a lever with which to get at that problem. He proposed to create a special commission of the Central Committee and asked me to take active part in the work. I answered him: ‘Vladimir Ilyich, it is my conviction that in the present struggle with bureaucratism in the Soviet apparatus, we must not forget that there is taking place, both in the provinces and in the center, a special selection of functionaries and specialists, party and non-party, around certain ruling party personalities and groups – in the provinces, in the districts, in the party locals and in the center – that is, the Central Committee. Attacking a functionary you run into the party leader. The specialist is a member of his retinue. Under present circumstances, I could not undertake this work.’

“Vladimir Ilyich reflected a moment and – here I quote him verbatim – said: “That is, I propose a struggle with Soviet bureaucratism and you are proposing to include the bureaucratism of the Organization Bureau of the Party.” [Stalin as General Secretary was at the head of this Bureau. – L.T.]

“I laughed at the unexpectedness of this, because no such finished formulation of the idea was in my mind.

“I answered: ‘I suppose that’s it.’

“Then Vladimir Ilyich said: ‘Very well, then, I propose a bloc.’

“I said: ‘It is a pleasure to form a bloc with a good man.’

“At the end of our conversation, Vladimir Ilyich said that he would propose the creation by the Central Committee of a commission to fight bureaucratism in general,’ and through that we would be able to reach the Organization Bureau of the Central Committee. The organizational side he promised to think over ‘further’! At that we parted. I then waited two weeks for the bell to summon me but Ilyich’s health became continually worse and he was soon confined to bed. After that Vladimir Ilyich sent me his letters on the national question through his secretaries. And so that work was never carried through.”

In the essence of the matter that plan of Lenin was wholly directed against Stalin. It flowed from the same train of thought which found its expression in the so-called Testament of Lenin.

66. Yes, I had disagreements with Lenin. But Stalin’s attempt, relying upon these “facts,” to distort the general character of our relations goes to pieces completely when confronted with the facts of that period when, as I have said, things were decided, not in conversation and in votes, of which no record remained, but by means of correspondence; that is, in the interval between the first and second illnesses of Lenin. To summarize:

(a) On the national question Vladimir Ilyich was preparing for the Twelfth Party Congress a decisive attack upon Stalin. Of this his secretaries told me in his name and at his direction. The phrase of Lenin that they repeated oftenest of all was: “Vladimir Ilyich is preparing a bomb against Stalin.”

(b) In his article about the Rabkrin, Lenin says:

“The People’s Commissariat of Rabkrin does not enjoy at the present moment a shadow of authority. Everybody knows that a worse organized institution than our Commissariat of Rabkrin does not exist, and that in the present circumstances you cannot expect a thing of that Commissariat ... As a matter of fact, what is the use of creating another commissariat whose work is carried on any old way, not inspiring the slightest confidence, and whose word enjoys infinitely small authority?

“I ask any of the present leaders of Rabkrin or any of the people connected with it – can they tell me, in good conscience, what is the practical use of such a Commissariat as Rabkrin.” (Lenin, Better Less, but Better, March 4, 1923.)

Stalin stood at the head of Rabkrin throughout the first years of the revolution. Lenin’s volley here was directed wholly against him.

(c) In the same article we read:

“(We have bureaucratism not only in the Soviet institu tions but also in the party.)”

These words, clear enough in themselves, acquire an especially sharp significance in connection with my last conversation with Vladimir Ilyich, quoted above, where he spoke of our forming a “bloc” against the Organization Bureau of the Central Committee as the fountainhead of bureau cratism. The mild and typically Leninist remark in paren thesis was directed wholly against Stalin.

(d) Of the Testament, it is needless to speak. It is filled with distrust of Stalin, his rudeness and disloyalty. It speaks of the possible misuse of power on his part and the danger, due to this, of a party split. The sole organizational inference indicated in the Testament, from all the characterizations made there is this: “Remove Stalin from the post of General Secretary.”

(e) Finally, the last letter which Lenin ever wrote in his life, or rather dictated, was a letter to Stalin breaking off all comradely relations with him. Comrade Kamenev told me of that letter on the same night it was written (March 5-6, 1923). Comrade Zinoviev told about that letter at the joint Plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission. The existence of the letter was confirmed in the minutes by the testimony of M.I. Ulianova. (“Documents on the subject of this incident exist” – says a declaration of M. Ulianova at the Presidium of the Plenum.)

Enumerating the “warnings” which Lenin gave to Stalin, comrade Zinoviev said at the July Plenum, 1926:

“And the third warning consists of this: That at the beginning of the year 1923, Vladimir Ilyich, in a personal letter to comrade Stalin, broke off all comradely relations with him.” (Minutes, 4th issue, p.32.)

M. Ulianova tried to present the matter in such a way that the breaking off of comradely relations announced by Lenin to Stalin in the last letter before his death seemed to be evoked by personal and not political causes. (Minutes, 4th issue, p.104)

Need we recall that with Lenin personal motives always derived from political, revolutionary, party causes? “Rudeness” and “disloyalty” are also personal qualities. But Lenin warned the party about them not for “personal” but for party reasons. Lenin’s letter, breaking off comradely relations with Stalin, had exactly the same character. That last letter was written after the letter on the national question and after the Testament. Attempts are being made in vain to weaken the moral weight of the last letter of Lenin. The party has a right to know that letter!

That is how the facts stand. That is how Stalin is deceiving the party.


67. During Lenin’s lifetime and especially at the time of the discussions over the Brest-Litovsk peace and over the trade unions, which have since been so grossly exaggerated and distorted, the word “Trotskyism” did not exist at all. [In this connection, the fact might be mentioned that Stalin insistently proposed on the eve of the Twelfth Congress that I make the political report for the Central Committee. He did so in agreement with Kamenev, who was then the acting chairman of the Political Bureau, and with the energetic support of Kalinin and others. I declined, partly on the ground that there were differences of opinion on industrial questions. “One can hardly say differences,” objected Kalinin. “In the majority of cases, your proposals are accepted.” – L.T.] The party held that whatever occasional differences there were, they unfolded on the historical foundations of Bol shevism. The extreme opponents of Lenin on the question of Brest-Litovsk were: Bukharin, Yaroslavsky, Kuibyshev, Soltz, Safarov and scores of other old Bolsheviks, who made up the faction of the “Left communists.” They would have been legitimately amazed had it occurred to any one at that time to say that their position was “Trotskyism,” especially since on all the fundamental issues which separated the Left communists from Lenin, I was on the side of Lenin.

The same must be said about the trade union discussion. The tendency to stress the administrative side grew out of the entire practice of War Communism and affected innumerable old Bolsheviks. If, at the time of the discussion, any one had mentioned such a thing as “Trotskyism” he would simply have been regarded as temporarily insane. The bogey of “Trotskyism” was projected after Lenin had withdrawn entirely from work, precisely at the time of the discussion of 1923. It was then that the “criticism of the theory of the permanent revolution” began for the purpose of stringing together the differences which had arisen on a new stage of historical development. They engaged in a struggle against Trotsky not because he had advanced a special theory of “Trotskyism.” On the contrary, the critics artificially built a theory of “Trotskyism” in order to carry on the struggle against Trotsky. Some of the original critics confessed as much later on, when the groupings changed. [27]


68. As to the theory of the permanent revolution, I shall devote special consideration to it at some future time. [Since that time the author has published a book entitled, The Permaneat Revolution [Pioneer Publishers, New York, 1931). The exposition of the theory is therefore ommitted here].

Here I limit myself to two references.

In the heginning of 1918, in a brochure devoted to the October Revolution, Bukharin wrote:

“The downfall of the Czarist regime was prepared by the entire preceding history of the revolution. But this downfall, and the victory of the proletariat supported by the poor peasantry, a victory which has at a single blow opened up unlimitable vistas throughout the world, is not yet the beginning of the organic epoch ... The Russian proletariat is confronted more sharply than ever before with the problem of the international revolution ... The grand total of relationships which have arisen in Europe leads to this inevitable conclusion. Thus, the permanent revolution in Russia is passing into the European proletarian revolution.” (From the Collapse of Czarism to the Fall of the Bourgeoisie, p.78. Our emphasis.)

The brochure ends with the following words:

“Into the powder magazine of old blood-stained Europe was thrown the torch of the Russian socialist revolution. It has not died. It lives. It is spreading. And it will inevitably merge with the great triumphant uprising of the world proletariat.” (Ibid., p.144)

How infinitely removed was Bukharin of that time from the theory of socialism in one country!

It is common knowledge that Bukharin was the chief and indeed the sole theoretician of the entire campaign against “Trotskyism,” summed up in the struggle against the theory of the permanent revolution. But at an earlier period when the lava of the revolutionary upheaval had not yet cooled, Bukharin, as we see, was unable to provide a characterization for revolution different from the one against which, a few years later, he was to wage a ruthless struggle.

Bukharin’s brochure was issued by the official party publishing house, Priboy, under the supervision of the Central Committee. Not only did no one declare that pamphlet heretical but, on the contrary, everyone accepted it as the official and unchallenged expression of the views of the Central Committee of the party. This brochure went through several editions in the course of the next few years. Together with another brochure devoted to the February Revolution it appeared in translations into German, French, English and other languages, under the general title, From the Collapse of Czarism to the Fall of the Bourgeoisie.

In 1923, the brochure was published – apparently for the last time – by the Kharkov party publishing house, Proletari. The preface to this edition expressed the conviction that this little book “will prove of great interest” not only to new members of the party, the youth and so forth, but also “to the Bolshevik Old Guard of the underground period of our party.”

That Bukharin is not very staunch in his views is sufficiently well known. But it is not a question of Bukharin himself. If we are to believe the legend created for the first time in the autumn of 1924, that there was an impassable abyss between Lenin’s understanding of revolution and Trotsky’s theory of the permanent revolution, and that the old generation of the party was brought up on the understanding of the irreconcilability of these two theories, then it is incomprehensible why Bukharin, at the beginning of 1918, could preach this theory with impunity, calling it by its name – the theory of the permanent revolution. How did it happen that not a single person – literally nobody in the entire party – took issue with Bukharin? How and why did the official publishing house of the Central Committee publish this brochure? How and why did Lenin happen to keep silent? How and why did the Comintern publish in several foreign languages this brochure of Bukharin in defense of the permanent revolution? How and why did Bukharin’s brochure retain its status as a party textbook up to the very death of Lenin? How and why was Bukharin’s brochure republished as late as 1923 and warmly recommended both to the party youth and to the Bolshevik Old Guard in Kharkov – the future center of Stalinist zealots?

This brochure of Bukharin’s differs from his later writings and from the entire latter-day Stalinist historiography, not only in its characterization of the revolution, but also in its manner of portraying the participants of the revolution. For example, we find the following on page 131 of the Kharkov edition:

“The focal point of political life became ... not the pathetic Soviet of the Republic, but the impending Congress of the Russian Revolution. In the center of this work of mobilization stood the Petersburg Soviet which demonstratively elected as its chairman, Trotsky, the most brilliant tribune of the proletarian uprising.”

And further, on page 188:

“On the 25th of October, Trotsky, the brilliant and courageous tribune of the insurrection, the indefatigable and flaming herald of revolution, declared in the name of the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petersburg Soviet, to the thunderous applause of the assembly, that ‘the Provisional Government no longer exists.’ And as living proof of this fact, greeted by a stormy ovation, Lenin appeared on the tribunal, liberated from illegality by the new revolution.”

In 1923-1924, the party was overwhelmed by the flood of so-called discussion against “Trotskyism.” It wrecked a great many things that had been reared by the October Revolution. It flooded newspapers, libraries, reading rooms, and buried under its silt and slime countless documents relating to the greatest epoch in the development of the party and the revo lution. Now we are compelled to extract these documents in fragments in order to restore the past.

69. In 1921, one of the many editions of Trotsky’s old book entitled, Summaries and Perspectives of the Revolution, was published in the English language. Contained in it is the most complete exposition of the theory of permanent revolution.

The English edition is supplied with a preface by the author dated March 12, 1919, Kremlin, and originally written for the Russian edition of the brochure issued in 1919. In the period between that Russian edition and the English edition of 1921 appeared several editions in various languages. In his preface of 1919, the author referred to the differences of opinion on this question which had formerly separated him from Bolshevism. The preface states among other things:

“Having thus conquered power, the proletariat cannot confine itself to bourgeois democracy. The proletariat is compelled to resort to the tactic of the permanent revolution – that is to say, it must destroy the barrier between the minimum and maximum programs of social democracy, introduce increasingly radical social reforms and strive for the direct and forthright support of the European revolution. That position was developed in the present brochure which was originally written in 1904-1906.”

“Destroy the barrier between the minimum and maximum programs” – that is precisely the formula for the growing over of the bourgeois democratic revolution into the socialist revolution. Such a process is predicated on the conquest of power by the proletariat which, by the logic of its position, is compelled to “introduce increasingly radical social reforms ...”

And who published this brochure? The publisher did not at all deem it necessary to hide his criminal identity. The title page reads: “Published by the Communist International, Moscow 1921.” The last page of the brochure bears the notation in Russian: “Printshop of the Comintern.” The chairman of the Comintern was Zinoviev. Bukharin was in full-time employ of the Comintern. The edition could not have passed unnoticed by them, especially since there were several editions. Nor could the edition in the Russian language have passed unnoticed by the Central Committee of the party as a whole – especially since the brochure was expressly published by it – nor by Lenin in particular. At that period the question of interpreting the significance of the October Revolution was very sharply posed in the mind of every member of the party, and especially of its leading cadres.

I am compelled to ask again: How was it that on the most important and most burning question, not only the Central Committee but even the Comintern, could disseminate a brochure devoted wholly to the defense and exposition of the theory of the permanent revolution and, moreover, containing a preface written specially for the new edition, in which the author declared that the course of events had confirmed that theory? Is it your contention that until 1924 the Bolshevik party and the Comintern were headed only by blind or ignorant men, or what is worse, Mensheviks and counter-revolutionists? We demand an answer to this question – one of a hundred, one of a thousand similar questions.


70. I do not propose to analyze here the discussion of 1923. The controversy opened at that time still continues. The fundamental controversial questions were:

(a) The inter-relations between the city and country (the “scissors” [28], the disproportions; whether the threat to the smychka [29] in the next period lay in industry’s lagging behind or in the attempt to leap ahead).

(b) The role of planned management of national economy from the point of view of the struggle of socialist and capitalist tendencies.

(c) The party regime.

(d) The problems of international revolutionary strategy (Germany, Bulgaria, Esthonia [30]). Since that time the controversial questions have assumed a much clearer aspect and have been expressed in more adequate form in a number of the documents of the Opposition. However, the main line sketched by the Opposition in 1923 has been wholly confirmed.

The July 1926 declaration signed by comrades Zinoviev and Kamenev states the following:

“At the present moment there can no longer be any doubt that the main nucleus of the Opposition of the year 1923 had correctly warned us of the danger of sliding away from the proletarian line and of the alarming growth of the apparatus regime. Nevertheless, scores and hundreds of leaders of the Opposition of 1923, among them many old worker-Bolsheviks tempered in the struggle, immune to careerism and servility, remain to this day removed from party work, despite their proven constancy and submission to discipline.”

That declaration alone suffices to show how puny on the scales of theory is the weight of the phantom of “Trotskyism,” created and fostered to befuddle the party.

The label “Trotskyism” has been applied since 1923, and especially since 1924, to the correct application of Marxism with regard to the new stage in the development of the October Revolution and of our party.


The above is a very small part of those facts, testimonials and quotations which I might adduce in refutation of the history of the last ten years as falsified by Stalin, Yaro slavsky and Co.

I must add that the falsification is not limited to these ten years but spreads over the whole preceding history of the party, converting it into an uninterrupted struggle of Bolshevism with “Trotskyism.” In that sphere the falsifiers feel especially free, for the events belong to an already comparatively remote past, and they can make an arbitrary selection of documents. The thought of Lenin is counterfeited by means of a one-sided selection of quotations. At present, however, I will not enter into the preceding period of my revolutionary activities (1897 to 1917) since the motive of the present letter is your questionnaire as to my participation in the October Revolution and my meetings and relations with Lenin.

As to the twenty years preceding the October Revolution, I will confine myself to a few lines.

I was of that “minority” (menshinstvo) of the Second Congress (1903) from which Menshevism subsequently developed. I remained politically and organizationally associated with this minority only until the autumn of 1904 – approximately until the so-called “land campaign” of the New Iskra, when my irreconcilable conflict with Menshevism upon the questions of bourgeois liberalism and the perspectives of the revolution defined itself. In 1904, that is, twenty-three years ago, I broke politically and organizationally with Menshevism. I never called myself or considered myself a Menshevik.

At the Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, on December 9, 1926, in connection with the question of “Trotskyism,” I made the following statement:

“Generally speaking, I do not think that the biographical method can lead us to a decision about questions of principle. It is indubitable that I made mistakes upon many questions, especially during my struggle against Bolshevism. From that, however, it hardly follows that political questions ought to be examined not according to their inner content but on the basis of biography. Otherwise, we should have to demand an elaboration of the biographies of all the delegates ...

“I personally may refer to a certain great precedent. In Germany there lived and fought a man by the name of Franz Mehring, who only after a long and energetic struggle against the social democracy (until late years we all called ourselves social democrats), only after he was fully mature, joined the Social Democratic party. Mebring wrote the history of the German social democracy at first as an enemy, not as a lackey of capitalism, but as intellectually opposed to it – and afterward he rewrote it in that splendid work on the German social democracy as its true friend. On the other hand, Kautsky and Bernstein never struggled openly against Marx and they both stood under the whip of Frederick Engels. Bernstein, moreover, is famous as the literary executor of Engels. Nevertheless, Franz Mehring died and was buried as a Marxist, as a communist, whereas the other two, Kautsky and Bernstein, still live the lives of reformist dogs. The biographical element is, of course, important but of itself it decides nothing.”

As I have many times stated, in my disagreements with Bolshevism upon a series of fundamental questions, the error was on my side. In order to give an approximate outline in a few words of the nature and extent of those former disagree ments of mine with Bolshevism, I will say this:

During the time when I stood outside the Bolshevik party, during that period when my differences with Bolshevism reached their highest point, the distance separating me from the views of Lenin was never as great as the distance which separates the present positions of Stalin-Bukharin from the very foundations of Marxism and Leninism.

Every new stage in the development of the party and the revolution, every new book, every new fashionable theory, has called forth a new zigzag and a new blunder on the part of Bukharin. His whole theoretical and political biography is a chain of errors committed within the formal framework of Bolshevism. The mistakes of Bukharin since the death of Lenin far exceed in their scale, and especially in their political consequences, all his earlier mistakes. This scholiast, emptying Marxism of all concrete reality, converting it into a game with ideas, often into mere verbal sophistry, has proved naturally the most suitable “theoretician” for the period of the sliding over of the party leadership from the proletarian to the petty bourgeois rails. Without sophistry this cannot be done. Hence the present “theoretical” rôle of Bukharin.

In all those very few – questions upon which Stalin has attempted to occupy an independent position, or has merely given, without the immediate direction of Lenin, his own answer upon major issues, he has always and invariably, and so to speak, organically, occupied an opportunist position.

The struggle of Lenin against Menshevism, against Vperyodism [31] and Conciliationism, Stalin denounced from exile as an émigré “tempest in a teapot” (cf., Zarya Vostoka, Dec. 23, 1925).

No other political documents as to the form of Stalin’s thoughts up to 1917 exist, as far as I know, except for a number of more or less correct but schoolboy articles on the national question.

The independent position of Stalin (prior to the arrival of Lenin) at the beginning of the February revolution was opportunist through and through.

The independent position of Stalin in relation to the German revolution of 1923 was wholly saturated with tail-endism and conciliationism.

The independent position of Stalin on the problems of the Chinese revolution is nothing but a cheap edition of Martinov’s Menshevism of 1903 to 1905.

The independent position of Stalin on the problems of the British labor movement is a Centrist capitulation to Menshevism. [32]

You can juggle quotations, hide the stenographic reports of your own speeches, forbid the circulation of Lenin’s letters and articles, fabricate yards of dishonestly selected quotations. You can suppress, conceal and burn up historic documents. You can extend your censorship even to photographic and moving-picture records of revolutionary events. All these things Stalin is doing. But the results do not and will not justify his expectations. Only a limited mind like Stalin’s could imagine that these pitiful machinations will make men forget the gigantic events of modern history.

In the year 1918, Stalin, at the very outset of his campaign against me, found it necessary, as we have already learned, to write the following words:

“All the work of practical organization of the insurrection was carried out under the direct leadership of the Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, comrade Trotsky. We can say with certainty that the swift passing of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the bold execution of the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee the party owes principally and above all to comrade Trotsky.” (Stalin, Pravda, Nov. 6, 1918)

With full responsibility for my words, I am now compelled to say that the cruel massacre of the Chinese proletariat and the Chinese Revolution at its three most important turning points, the strengthening of the position of the trade union agents of British imperialism after the General Strike of 1926, and, finally, the general weakening of the position of the Communist International and the Soviet Union, the party owes principally and above all to Stalin.

October 21, 1927


26. Back in July, 1920, with the whole system a wreck, Trotsky was chosen to restore transportation. One of his first acts was to issue “Order No.1042,” the first serious attempt to introduce long-term planning into Soviet economy. The Order, the first of a series of systematic measures that finally brought order and regularity where chaos and collapse had prevailed before, was based upon a five-year outline of activity.

27. The “original critics” of Trotskyism referred to are Zinoviev and Kamenev, who were the principal initiators of the fight against Trotsky which they opened in 1928 together with Stalin, Bukharin and Rykov. How the entire campaign was conspiratorially and disloyally conceived, is related in the testimony of Radek, Piatakov, Rakovsky, Eltsin and others, printed in this volume in the chapter The Legend of Trotskyism.

28. The “scissors” was an image employed by Trotsky in dealing with the economic crisis in the Soviet Republic, especially as affecting the peasantry. One blade of the scissors was to repre sent the high price of manufactured articles, the other the low price for agricultural products and consequently the low purchasing power of the rural masses. The crisis became increasingly acute as the “blades” opened wider. The crisis would be eliminated, said Trotsky, by closing the “blades,” that is, primarily, by lowering the price of industrial products.

29. Smychka is the Russian word for alliance or union. In popular Russian political parlance, it refers specifically to the alliance between the workers and the peasants, the firm maintenance of which, the Bolsheviks always insisted, was a pre-condition to the preservation of the Soviet power.

30. Among the earliest differences developing between Trotsky and his supporters on one side, and the leadership of the Russian party and the Comintern, on the other, revolved around the strat egy pursued in the German Revolution of October, 1923, the Bulgarian insurrection of September, 1928, and the Esthonian putsch of December 1924. For a fuller elucidation of the differences, see Leon Trotsky’s The Third International After Lenin, New York 1936, specifically the chapter entitled Strategy and Tactics in the Imperialist Epoch, p.75 et seq.

31. Vperyodism was the tendency represented by the group calling itself Vperyod [Forward], which was formed towards the end of 1909 in exile by a number of ultra-Leftist Bolsheviks, Bogdanov, Lunacharsky, Alexinsky, Pokrovsky, Menzhinsky, Manuilsky and Gorky. The group existed for several years, issuing a number of literary works, and condemning Lenin for having departed from the true traditions of Bolshevism which the Vperyodists alone were now defending. The ultra-radicalism of the group, which was displayed in its opposition to utilizing parliamentary participation in the Duma, or active work in the trade unions, was combined with attempts at philosophical revision of Marxism, especially by Bogdanov and Lunacharsky. Lenin devoted an entire volume, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, to the latter aspect of the Vperyodist policy.

32. Trotsky refers to Stalin’s continual capitulation to the Right wing British trade union leaders, associated with him in the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Unity Committee, during the period from the end of the General Strike in May, 1926, until the dissolution of the Committee a year later. For a more detailed account of the criticism of Trotsky, see his The Third International After Lenin, pp.128-184, and Problems of the Chinese Revolution, pp.61-67.

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Last updated on: 23.3.2007