Leon Trotsky

The Stalin School of Falsification

Two Speeches at the Session of
the Central Control Commission

THE PLAN to remove Trotsky from the leadership was conceived back in the period of Lenin’s first illness, namely in 1922. Throughout the following year, 1923, the preparatory work proceeded in full swing. Toward the end of the year the campaign was brought into the open. This work was under the guidance of the “triumvirate”: Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev. In 1925, the triumvirate fell apart. Zinoviev and Kamenev found themselves caught in the wheels of the ma chine they had created against Trotsky. Henceforth the Stalinist faction set itself the task of completely transforming the leading staff by removing from posts all those who had directed the party and the Government under Lenin. At the joint plenary session of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission [48], in July 1926, Trotsky read a declaration which quite accurately foretold the future measures the Stalin faction would apply in order to substitute the Stalinist leadership for the Leninist. In the course of the next few years that program was carried through by the Stalinists in amazing conformity with the predictions made.

The most important step on that path was to place Trotsky on trial before the Presidium of the Central Control Commission on charges of these two crimes: (1) making “factional” speeches at the Plenum of the ECCI; (2) participating in a farewell demonstration to Smilga, a member of the Central Committee, who, a short time previously, had been sent to the city of Khabarovsk in the Far East as punishment for being in the Opposition. Zinoviev was likewise charged with similar crimes. The proposed penalty was to remove both of them from the Central Committee.

We print below the two speeches by Trotsky at the Presidium of the Central Control Commission which sat as the court of trial. The author has considerably condensed his two speeches wherever questions of minor importance were concerned. In other respects the speeches are reprinted as they were delivered except for minor corrections in style.


TROTSKY: Before proceeding with my speech – and I am in doubt whether I speak here as the defendant or the accuser – I must insist on the removal of comrade Janson from the judges’ bench on the ground that he is disqualified by his entire previous activity. All of you are, of course, well aware of the fact that since 1924 there has existed a factional “septemvirate” composed of all the members of the Political Bureau, with the exception of myself. My own place was taken by your former chairman, Kuibyshev, who, as was his duty, should have been the foremost guardian of party statutes and morals but who was in fact their foremost violator and corruptor. This septemvirate constituted an illegal and anti-party institution which disposed of the fate of the party behind its back. Comrade Zinoviev in one of his speeches at the session of the Central Committee named Janson as one of those who had participated in the functioning of the anti-party septemvirate. Nobody has refuted this statement. Janson himself has kept mum. Although there are others equally guilty of the same crime, in Janson’s case we have recorded testimony. At the present moment Janson is about to sit in judgment upon me for anti-party conduct. I demand the removal of Janson from the judges’ bench.

CHAIRMAN ORDJONIKIDZE: That is impossible. You are doubtless joking, comrade Trotsky.

TROTSKY: It is not my custom to joke in important and serious questions. I realize that the Presidium may possibly be placed in a somewhat awkward position by my proposal, because I am afraid that among the personnel of the Presidium there may be others who likewise participated in the work of the septemvirate. But it was never my intention to turn my proposal into a joke. The fact is that I, a member of the Political Bureau, knew nothing of these meetings at the time, even if they did take place under the guise of “drafting notices.” At these meetings were elaborated the ways and means of conducting the fight against me. In particular, it was there decided and made binding upon members of the Political Bureau not to polemicize against each other, but for all to polemicize against Trotsky. The party was not informed of it. Neither was I. This went on for a long time ... I did not say that comrade Ordjonikidze was a member of the septemvirate, but that he participated in the work of this factional septemvirate.

ORDJONIKIDZE: It may have been Janson, but not Ordjonikidze. Aren’t you making a mistake?

TROTSKY: I beg your pardon, although I do believe that the mistake is purely of a formal character. I did in fact refer to Janson. I did not say that comrade Janson was a member of the septemvirate itself. No, but he did participate in the work of this factional septemvirate, for which there is no provision made in the party statutes, and which functioned against the statutes and the will of the party – otherwise it would have had no reason for hiding. Should it prove that other comrades present here participated like Janson in the work of this factional septemvirate, then I humbly ask that my request for removal be extended to include them also.

[The proposal to remove Janson from the judges’ bench is instantly rejected by the Presidium.]

TROTSKY: The comrades wish to picture matters as if it is necessary to remove us from the Central Committee be cause of the incident at the Yaroslav railway station, because of Zinoviev’s speech over the radio, and my “conduct” at the ECCI. [49] All this might have seemed very plausible, but not in the light of our declaration which we, the Opposition, presented to the Central Committee as far back as the beginning of last July. In this declaration we forecast with complete clarity and in detail all the paths of your struggle against us. We predicted that you would seize upon the slightest pretext in order to achieve the program of reconstructing the party leadership, conceived by your factional tops long ago, even prior to the July Plenum, prior to the Fourteenth Party Congress.

You have brought me up on two charges. First – my speech at the ECCI. I have maintained, and still maintain, that the Central Control Commission can in no case sit in judgment upon me for a speech I delivered at the Plenum of the ECCI, which is a higher body. If this still remains incomprehensible to comrade Janson, he should ponder the matter and re-read the statutes of the Communist International and the statutes of our party. He would then understand that I am right, just as I would be absolutely right in denying a District Control Commission the right to sit in judgment upon me for any speech I may have made as a member of the Central Committee of the party.

The second charge – the farewell demonstration to Smilga at the Yaroslav railway station. You banished Smilga to Khabarovsk. Once again I make an urgent request that you at least agree among yourselves upon a uniform explanation for this exile. In the Commission, Shkyratov shouted: “There is work to be done in Khabarovsk, too!” If Smilga was sent, as a matter of normal procedure, to work in Khabarovsk, then you cannot dare claim that our collective farewell was a demonstration against the Central Committee. However, if this is an administrative exile of a comrade, who is at the present moment needed at responsible posts, that is, at fighting Soviet posts, then you are duping the party. You are guilty of duplicity. Are you going to repeat again that Smilga was sent to Khabarovsk as a normal assignment of work? And at the same time are you going to accuse us of demonstrating against the Central Committee? Such politics are double-dealing.

But I wish to pass from these calumnies presented as charges to the fundamental political question.

On the war danger. In the declaration which we presented last July, we said: “The paramount condition for the defense of the Soviet Union and, therefore, for the maintenance of peace is the indissoluble tie between the ever growing and ever more powerful Red Army and the toiling masses of our country and of the entire world. All economic, political and cultural measures which tend to raise the role of the working class in the state, which strengthen the ties of the working class with the agricultural laborers and the poor peasants, and its alliance with the middle peasants – thereby strengthen the Red Army, assure the inviolability of the land of the Soviets and reinforce the cause of peace.”

Here is adequate proof that a year ago we called upon you to concentrate on the question of the war danger and the internal dangers in the USSR during wartime. These are not special questions. They are questions of our class policy, of our entire course. When Kalinin, the formal head of the State, the Chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets, delivers a speech in Tver to the effect that we need stalwart and strong soldiers, and that only a middle peasant can make a stalwart and strong soldier, and that the poor peasants cannot provide such soldiers because there are many puny ones among them, then we have here nothing else than an open orientation towards the strong “middle peasant”, a label which serves to camouflage none other than the kulak, or a candidate for kulakdom. Kalinin forgets our having accomplished the October Revolution in which the puny and the thin conquered the tall and the strong. Why were they able to conquer? Because there existed and still exist many more of them than of the others. You will say, “The honorable Mikhail Ivanovich [Kalinin] is given to saying a lot of things!” But did you curb him? No, you did not, you curbed us instead when we criticized his line which deprecates the poor peasant and encourages the kulak – the self-same kulak whom Yakovlev is covering up with his statistical tricks. It is Yakovlev who should be up on trial, but instead Yakovlev is about to pass judgment on us.

The war danger is now being exploited by you in order to hound the Opposition and to prepare for its physical annihilation. Of all the labors of the ECCI, where we discussed the question of the war danger, the question of the British labor movement and especially the question of the Chinese Revolution, you have issued for the information of the party only this little red pamphlet, which I hold in my hand, and which you have issued against the Opposition. Moreover, even in this case – how shall I say ? – you pilfered my speech from the minutes on the pretext that I had not yet “corrected it.” This means precisely that you are exploiting the war danger primarily against us.

We declare that we shall continue to criticize the Stalinist regime so long as you do not physically seal our lips. Until you clamp a gag on our mouths we shall continue to criticize this Stalinist regime which will otherwise undermine all the conquests of the October Revolution. Back in the reign of the Czar there were patriots who used to confound the fatherland with the ruling administration. We have nothing in common with them. We will continue to criticize the Stalinist regime as a worthless regime, a regime of back-sliding, an ideologically emasculated, narrow-minded and short-sighted regime.

For one year we tried to hammer into your heads the meaning of the Anglo-Russian Committee. [50] We told you that it was ruining the developing revolutionary movement of the English proletariat. In the meantime, all your authority, the entire accumulated experience of Bolshevism, the authority of Leninism – all this you threw on the scales in support of Purcell. You will say, “But we criticize him!” This is nothing else than a new form of support to opportunism by back sliding Bolsheviks. You “criticize” Purcell – ever more mildly, ever more rarely – and you remain tied to him. But what is he enabled to say in reply to revolutionists in his own country when they brand him as the agent of Chamberlain? He is able to say, “Now look here! Tomsky himself, a member of the Political Bureau and Chairman of the All-Russian Central Council of the Trade Unions who sent money to the English strikers, has made criticisms of me but nevertheless we are working hand in hand. How dare you call me the agent of imperialism?” Would he be right or wrong? He would be right. In a devious way you have placed the entire machinery of Bolshevism at the disposal of Purcell. That is what we accuse you of. This is a very grave accusation – far graver than bidding Smilga farewell at the Yaroslav station. What have you done to Bolshevism? What have you done in the space of a few years to all the authority of Bolshevism, all its experience, and the entire theory of Marx and Lenin? You have told the workers of the world, and above all our Moscow workers, that in the event of war the Anglo-Russian Committee would be the organizing center of the struggle against imperialism. But we have said and still say that in the event of war the Anglo-Russian Committee will be a ready-made trench for all the turn-coats of the breed of the false, half-way friends of the Soviet Union, and for all the deserters to the camp of the enemies of the Soviet Union. Thomas gives open support to Chamberlain. But Purcell supports Thomas, and that is the main thing. Thomas maintains himself upon the support of the capitalists. Purcell maintains himself by deceiving the masses and lends Thomas his support. And you are lending support to Purcell. You accuse us of giving support to Chamberlain. No! It is you yourselves who are linked up with Chamberlain through your Right wing. It is you who stand in a common front with Purcell who supports Thomas and, together with the latter, Chamberlain. That is the verdict of a political analysis and not a charge based on calumny.

The devil only knows what is already being said about the Opposition at meetings, particularly at meetings of workers’ and peasants’ nuclei. Questions are raised as to the “resources” used by the Opposition to carry on its “work.”It may be that illiterate and unconscious workers, or your own plants, are sending up such questions as are worthy of the Black Hundred. [51] ... And there are scoundrels acting as reporters who have the audacity to give evasive answers to such written questions. If you were really a Central Control Commission, you would be duty-bound to put an end to this dirty, abominable, contemptible and purely Stalinist campaign against the Opposition. We, on the other hand, are not preoccupied with spreading calumny. We present an open political declaration: Chamberlain and Thomas are in a common front; they are supported by Purcell, without whose support they are ciphers; but you are supporting Purcell and thereby weakening the USSR and strengthening imperialism. This is an honest political declaration! And you yourselves are feeling the weight of it at this very moment.

If you were seriously mindful of the war danger, as you claim, how could there possibly have been the wild internal party repressions which are now becoming more and more unbridled? How can you at the present time discard first class military workers who are being removed from military activity because, although they are ready and able to fight for the Socialist fatherland, they consider the present policy of the Central Committee false and ruinous? Have you many such military workers as Smilga, Mrachkovsky, Lashevich and Bakayev? I have heard that it is your intention to remove Muralov from Military Inspection because he was a signatory to the Declaration of 83. [52] You are as one with Purcell and other “fighters against war” of the same stripe, but you want to remove Muralov from Military Inspection. [Commotion in the hall. Shouts: “Who gave you that report?"] No one “reported” it to me, but there is widespread talk of it.

ORDJONIKINZE: You anticipate too much.

TROTSKY: That was well put, indeed! I am stating 48 hours ahead of time what you will do a little later, [Muralov, one of the most outstanding leaders of the Red Army, was shortly thereafter not only removed from Military Inspection but expelled from the party and exiled to Siberia where he is at present. – L.T.] [Muralov was executed as a “Fascist agent” on February 1, 1937, following the conviction of the 17 defendants in the trial of Radek, Platakov, et al., in January 1937. – M.S.] just as last July we presented you beforehand with the entire itinerary of your struggle against us. A new stage of development is now in order.

What about the students in the Military Academy and in the Academy of the Air Corps? You are expelling the best students for being in the Opposition. I have succeeded in obtaining brief biographies of the four students whom you expelled the other day on the eve of their graduation from the Military Academies. The first biography is that of Okhotnikov; the second – Kuzmichev; the third – Broidto; the fourth – Kapel. Here is the first: Okhotnikov, born in 1897; father and mother, peasants (from Bessarabia); they possessed no land of their own, but worked on that of the landlord. He received only an elementary education. Until 1915, worked for his father and hired out as a truckman. From 1915, served as a soldier in the Czarist army. During the February Revolution was in the city of Ekaterinoslav; elected delegate from the reserve artillery to the Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies, but was transferred in May to the 4th Army at the front because of Bolshevik tendencies, and was there a delegate from the 14th Artillery Brigade to the divisional and corps committee. During the October Revolution, having been wounded in battle, he was convalescing in a hospital. Upon leaving the hospital in December 1917, he organized, acting under the leadership of the Bolshevik party, a partisan detachment and fought against the Romanian occupation troops. In 1918, he joined the underground organization in Bessarabia. Served as chairman of the under ground Revolutionary Committee of Teletsk district, and as commander of the partisan detachment. For his activities he was tried twice by the Romanian court martial and was sentenced to death, but escaped. In 1919, he came with the partisans to the Ukraine, where he joined the 45th Red Division. Served in various commanding posts. Throughout the war remained at the front, and at the conclusion of the war repeatedly took part in the struggle against the White bandits. In 1924, he entered the Military Academy and was assigned to a preparatory course in view of his not having had a general schooling. He graduated from the first course to the second cum laude. He was first brought up on charges in the party for Oppositionist views in February 1927. Expelled from the Academy for participating in the “farewell to Smilga.”

Thus far I have in my possession four biographies which do not differ from each other in any fundamental respect. They are all soldiers of the revolution, soldiers of the party, wounded in battle, honored with certificates by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets, recipients of the medals of the Red Banner, tempered revolutionists who will remain faithful to October, who will fight to the end for October – but whom you are driving out of the Military Academies. Is that the way to prepare for the military defense of the revolution?

We are accused, as is well known, of pessimism and lack of faith. How did the accusation of “pessimism” originate? This foolish and contemptible word was put in circulation, I believe, by Stalin. But a good deal more faith than most of you have in the international revolution is required to swim against the current. What is the origin of the accusation of lack of faith? It is the notorious theory of building socialism in one country. We refuse to believe in this theory of Stalin’s.

ZINOVIEV: In 1925, Ordjonikidze told me that I must write against Stalin.

TROTSKY: We refused to believe in this revelation which tends to distort fundamentally Marx and Lenin. We did not believe in this revelation and therefore we are pessimists and men of little faith.

But do you know who was the precursor of Stalin, “the optimist”?

I have brought with me and, if you wish, will deliver into your hands an important document. It is an article written in 1879 by Vollmar, who later became famous as a German social-patriot. This article is entitled, The Isolated Socialist State. [53] It ought to be translated and sent to all members of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission and, indeed, to all members of the party.

The German social democrat Vollmar developed the theory of national socialism back in 1879, whereas his epigone Stalin set about creating his “original” theory only in 1924. Why in 1879? Because that was the time of reaction, the period of a widespread decline in the European labor movement. The French Commune was crushed in 1871. Up to 1879 there was no revolutionary movement in France. In England, liberal trade unionism and liberal-labor policies triumphed all along the line. This was the time of the most profound decline in the English and continental revolutionary movement. Meanwhile, in Germany, the social democracy was developing quite rapidly. In consequence of that contradiction, Vollmar arrived at his original theory of socialism in one country. And do you know how Vollmar ended? He ended by becoming an extreme Right wing Bavarian social democrat, a chauvinist. You will say that the situation today is different. Of course, the general situation today is different.

But the proletariat in European countries has suffered major defeats during the last few years. Hopes are deferred today for an international revolution, for its immediate victory as was the hope in 1918-1919, and some of the “optimists” in the majority have lost this hope altogether and are therefore driving to a conclusion that we can get along without an international revolution. Precisely therein lies the prerequisite for the opportunistic backsliding to the narrow nationalistic Vollmarism, beginning with his theory of socialism in one country.

You accuse us of pessimism and lack of faith both in connection with this theory and without any connection with it. We, the Opposition, are a “tiny clique” of pessimists and men of little faith. The party stands united and in it all are optimists and men of great faith. Isn’t this much too simple a picture? Permit me to put the question in the following manner: Will a careerist, i.e., a man seeking personal advancement, now join the Opposition? Certainly not, unless he is such a wily fellow as will join only to withdraw immediately in order to he at once enrolled among the “best representatives” of our party and our country. But these are, so to speak, supremely contemptible exceptions. If you were to take the average careerist, then, I ask, will such an individual seek his career through the Opposition under the present conditions? You yourselves know that he will not. Will a self-seeker join the Opposition under present conditions when worker-Bolsheviks are being driven, for Opposition activity, from factories and mills and into the ranks of the unemployed – all of whom will fight no worse when the need arises than all those now assembled here? The self-seeker will not join. The example of the worker-Oppositionists is proof that despite the repressions, there are still men left in the ranks of the party who have the courage to fight for their opinions. The prime quality of every revolutionist is the ability to dare swim against the current, the ability to struggle for his opinions even under the most adverse conditions. I ask once again: Will the man-about-town, the functionary and the self-seeker join the Opposition? No, they will not. Will the workers with large families, who have grown weary and have become disillusioned in the revolution and who remain in the party out of inertia, go into the Op position? No, they will not. They will say: “The regime is, of course, bad, but let them do whatever they please, I am not the one to butt in.” What are the qualities a man requires to join the Opposition under the present conditions? He must have a very firm faith in his cause, i.e., the cause of the proletarian revolution – a genuine revolutionary faith. But you demand only faith in a protective coloration; the faith to vote as the authorities vote, to identify the Socialist fatherland with the district committee and to emulate the secretary. If you are a manager or an administrator, you must insure yourself through the district committee or through the secretary of the regional committee.

How is your great faith tested? Through 100% votes. Whoever does not wish to participate in such compulsory voting seeks on occasion to sneak out. But the secretary will not allow it – he must vote, and he must vote as per instructions, and the names of those who abstain are noted down. Do you think you can hide all this from the proletariat? What are you trifling with? I repeat: What are you trifling with? You are trifling ominously with yourselves, with the revolution and the party! The man who always votes 100% with you, the man who “smeared” yesterday Trotsky, today Zinoviev, and who will tomorrow “smear” Bukharin and Rykov, will never make a staunch soldier in the difficult hours of the revolution. But the Opposition gives proof of its loyalty and courage precisely because it does not surrender in the most difficult period of backsliding and repression, but gathers around itself the most valuable fighting elements who can he neither bribed nor browbeaten.

JANSON: There are careerists and self-seekers among the Oppositionists as well.

TROTSKY: Name them! You need only name them, and then we, together with you, will drive them out. Where are they? The main nucleus of the Opposition is composed of elements who can be neither bribed nor browbeaten.

The party regime stifles, chokes and chains the party; and it camouflages the profound class processes taking place in the country, with which we are confronted at the very first rumors of the war danger and which will confront us still more sharply at the outbreak of the war.

The present regime effaces the vanguard of the proletariat because it allows no opportunity for stating openly and honestly whence the danger threatens – and the proletariat is threatened with danger from the side of the non-proletarian classes. The entire past period consists in this, that the proletariat is being politically shrivelled up while the other classes are unfolding.

Bound up with this is the question of the workers’ state. One of the many scandalous lies that are being disseminated systematically through Pravda is the allegation that I said that our state is not a workers’ state. This is done by employing a falsified interpretation of an uncorrected speech of mine in which I merely developed Lenin’s attitude towards the Soviet state, counterpoising it to the Molotov position. Lenin said that we had taken over many of the worst things from the Czarist apparatus. But what are you saying now? You are making a fetish of the worker’s state, and are seeking to sanctify the given state as a special sort of state “by divine dispensation.” And who is the most accomplished theoretician of such sanctification? It is Molotov. That is his contribution. I shall again read you what he said. You have suppressed my criticism of Molotov, while Pravda has distorted it. But here is what Molotov said against Kamenev at the Fourteenth Party Conference of the Moscow district:

“Our state is a workers’ state ... But we are being offered a formula according to which it would be more correct to say that the working class must be drawn still closer to our state ... What is this? We must set ourselves the task of drawing the workers closer to our state, but what is our state – whose is it? Is it not that of the workers themselves? Is it not the state of the proletariat? How is it possible then to draw closer to the state, i.e., to draw the workers themselves closer to the working class which is in power and which is controlling the state?” (Pravda, Dec. 18, 1925.)

These are Molotov’s words. This, comrades, is the most dull-witted criticism of the Leninist concept of a given workers’ state which can become genuinely and completely a workers’ state only with the accomplishment of a colossal work of criticism, correction and improvement. But according to Molotov, the given state is something absolute which it is no longer possible to draw closer to the masses. It is to this bureaucratic fetishism that my refutation, or rather my ex position of the Leninist analysis of the Soviet state, applies. [Shouts.]

You say here, “What must be done?” If you really are of the opinion that there is nothing to be done against the phenomena I have indicated, then it means that you concede the revolution is bound to perish. Because, on the present path, it must perish. It means that you are the real pessimists, even if you are smug. Yet it is entirely possible to remedy the situation with a change of policy. But before we can decide what to do, we must say what is; we must specify the direction in which the processes are moving. If you were to consider such an acute problem as the housing question, you would discover that two processes are occur ring here, reflected in statistics that you can easily verify: The proletariat is undergoing a shrinkage in living quarters while the other classes are expanding. I am not even referring to the village, where construction is proceeding apace. Of course it is not the poor peasants who are building, but the tops, the kulak and the strong middle peasant. But what have we in the cities? The so-called “kastari” [handicraft workers], i.e., the petty bourgeoisie, the small business men the traders and the specialists – all of them occupy this year more cubic feet per person. But there is less space per worker this year than last year. Before there is any talk of what to do, we must honestly state the facts. Just as in the housing question, so in everyday life, in literature, in the theater and in politics – the non-proletarian classes are expanding, getting elbow room, while the proletariat is being squeezed and is shrinking. I repeat: Just as the bourgeois classes are expanding in the material sphere – you can observe this on the streets, in the stores, in the trolleys and in the apartments – just so in politics; the proletariat as a whole is being shrunk, while our party regime strengthens this class shrinkage of the proletariat. This is the fundamental fact. The blow threatens from the Right – from the side of the non-proletarian classes. Our criticism must be aimed to rouse the proletariat to take cognizance of the impending danger, and not to permit the proletariat to think that power has been conquered irrevocably and for all time, regardless of the conditions; and that the Soviet state is presumably an absolute which remains a workers’ state always and under all conditions. It is important that the proletariat should understand that in a certain historical period, especially with a false policy of the leadership, the Soviet state may become an apparatus through which power may be shifted from the proletarian base and drawn to the bourgeoisie, which would subsequently discard completely the Soviet covering and transform its power into a Bonapartist rule. With a false political line such a danger is quite real.

Without an international revolution, socialism cannot be built. Without correct policies, calculated on the international revolution and not on supporting Purcell, you will not only fail to build socialism, but you will doom the Soviet power itself. It is urgent that the proletariat understand this. The fault of the Opposition, our crime, lies in the fact that we refuse to lull ourselves, and “optimistically” to shut our eyes to the dangers confronting our revolution.

The real danger is from the Right, not from the Right wing of our party – the Right wing of our party serves only as a transmitting mechanism – the real, basic danger comes from the side of the bourgeois classes who are raising their heads, whose ideologist is Ustrialov, that wise and far-seeing bourgeois to whom Lenin used to listen and against whom he warned. You all know that Ustrialov is not supporting us; he supports Stalin. In the autumn of 1926, Ustrialov wrote: “What we need now is a new maneuver, a new impulse, to put it figuratively, a Neo-Nep. From this standpoint, it must be recognized that a number of actual concessions recently made by the party to the Opposition cannot fail to inspire serious apprehension.” Further: “All hail to the Political Bureau if the declaration of repentance on the part of the leaders of the Opposition is the result of their one-sided and unconditional capitulation. But woe to it, if it is the fruit of a compromise with them. If the latter is the case, the struggle must inevitably flare up again ... The victorious Central Executive Committee must acquire an inner immunity against the decomposing poison of the Opposition. It must draw all the necessary conclusions from the defeat of the Opposition ... Otherwise, it will be a calamity for our country ... It is thus [continues Ustrialov] that the cause must be approached by the Russian intelligentsia within the country, by the business elements and the specialist circles, the ideologists of evolution and not of revolution.”Ustrialov draws the conclusion: “That is why we are now ... definitely in favor of Stalin.” And what is your reply to that? You seek to remove the Opposition from the Central Committee for the time being only from the CC Ustrialov is a bourgeois who is acquainted with the history of the great French bourgeoisie, indeed, very well acquainted with it. And this spokesman for the moods of the new bourgeoisie understands that only the backsliding of the Bolsheviks themselves can prepare the power for the new bourgeoisie least painfully. Supporting the Stalinist CC, Ustrialov writes that it is necessary to safeguard (what?) against the decomposing poison of the Opposition. In consequence he also is in agreement with you that the Opposition is – a decomposing poison; that it is necessary to destroy this poison, otherwise “it will be a calamity for our country.” That is what Ustrialov says. That is why he is not only against me, but also why he supports Stalin. Reflect on this. You are dealing here not with ignorant people, the unconscious or the duped who think that the Opposition carries on its activity with English money – no, Ustrialov is a very class-conscious man, he knows what he is saying and whither he is going. Why then does he support you? What is he defending together with you?

I was recently informed that comrade Soltz, in the course of a conversation with one of the comrades who had signed the declaration of the Opposition, drew an analogy with the French Revolution. Now I am of the opinion that this method is a correct one – I believe that a factual exposition and a Marxian interpretation of the Great French Revolution, especially of its last period, should be now reprinted for the benefit of the party. Comrade Soltz is present here, he knows better than I do what he said, and if I quote him erroneously, he will correct me. “What does the Declaration of 83 mean?” said Soltz. “What does it lead to? You know the history of the French Revolution, and to what this led: to arrests and to the guillotine.” Comrade Vorobiev, with whom comrade Soltz was talking, asked him, “So then, is it your intention to guillotine us?” To which Soltz replied by going into a lengthy explanation,

“In your opinion, wasn’t Robespierre sorry for Danton when sending him to the guillotine? And then Robespierre had to go himself.

“Do you think he was not sorry? Sure he was, but he had to do it ...”

That was the substance of the conversation. I repeat that we must at this time at all costs refresh our knowledge of the Great French Revolution – it is absolutely indispensable. We might begin even with Kropotkin, who was not a Marxist but who understood better than Jaureè the national and class subsoil of the Revolution.

During the Great French Revolution, many were guillotined. We, too, had many people brought before the firing squad. But in the Great French Revolution there were two great chapters, of which one went like this [points upward] and the other like that [points downward]. We must under stand this. When the chapter headed like this – upwards – the French Jacobins, the Bolsheviks of that time, guillotined the Royalists and the Girondists. We, too, have had a similar great chapter when we, the Oppositionists, together with you, shot the White Guards and exiled the Girondists. And then there began another chapter in France, when the French Ustrialovs and semi-Ustrialovs – the Thermidorians and the Bonapartists from among the Right wing Jacobins – began exiling and shooting the Left Jacobins – the Bolsheviks of that time. I should like comrade Soltz to think his analogy through to the end and, first of all, to give himself an answer to the following question: In accordance with which chapter is Soltz preparing to have us shot? [Commotion in the hall.] This is no jesting matter; revolution is a serious business. None of us is scared by firing squads. We are all old revolutionists. But the thing is to know whom to shoot, and in accordance with which chapter. When we did the shooting we were firm in our knowledge as to the chapter. But, comrade Soltz, do you clearly understand in accordance with which chapter you are now preparing to shoot? I fear, comrade Soltz, that you are about to shoot us in accordance with the Ustrialov, i.e., Thermidorian chapter. [54]

When the term “Thermidorian” is used among us, it is taken for a term of abuse. It is thought that the Thermidorians were arrant counter-revolutionists, conscious supporters of the monarchic rule, and so on. Nothing of the kind! The Thermidorians were Jacobins, with this difference, that they had moved to the Right. The Jacobin organization – the then Bolsheviks – under the pressure of class contradictions, shortly arrived at the conviction that it was necessary to destroy the Robespierre group. Do you think that on the very next day after the 9th of Thermidor they said to themselves: We have now transferred power into the hands of the bourgeoisie? Nothing of the kind! Refer to all the newspapers of that time. They said: We have destroyed a handful of people who disrupted peace in the party, but now, after their destruction, the revolution will triumph completely. If comrade Soltz has any doubts about it.

SOLTZ: You are practically repeating my own words.

TROTSKY: So much the better. If we are agreed on this, comrade Soltz, then it will help us considerably to decide the question as to what chapter you are preparing to open by the physical annihilation of the Opposition. One thing must be firmly understood: Unless we undertake to rectify the class line of the party, as it should be done, the line indicated by Ustrialov will have to be pursued inevitably in side the party, i.e., the line of a ruthless struggle against the Opposition.

I shall read you what was said by Brival, who was a Right Jacobin, one of the Thermidorians, when he reported about the session of the Convention during which Robespierre and the other Jacobins were handed over to the Revolutionary Tribunal: “Intriguers and counter-revolutionists covering themselves with the toga of patriotism sought the destruction of liberty; the Convention decreed to place them under arrest. These representatives were: Robespierre, Couthon, Saint-Just, Lebas and Robespierre the Younger. The chairman asked what my opinion was. I replied: Those who had always voted in accordance with the spirit of the principles of the Mountain both in the Legislative Assembly as well as in the Convention, those voted for the arrest. I did even more than that, for I am one of those who proposed this measure. Moreover, as secretary, I made haste to sign and to transmit this decree of the Convention.” That is how the report was made by a Soltz or a Janson of that time. Robespierre and his associates – those were the counter-revolutionists. “Those who had always voted in accordance with the spirit of the principles of the Mountain” signified in the language of that time, “those who had always been Bolsheviks.” Brival considered himself an old Bolshevik. “As secretary, I made haste to sign and to transmit this decree of the Convention.” Today, too, there are secretaries who make haste “to sign and to transmit.” Today, too, there are such secretaries.

Listen further to the Manifesto of the Convention to France, to the country and to the people, after the annihilation of Robespierre, Saint-Just and the others:

“Citizens, amid the brilliant victories over the foreign enemies, the Republic is threatened by a new danger ... The work of the Convention will prove barren, and the courage of our armies will lose all meaning, if the French citizens vacillate in their choice between the Fatherland and a few isolated individuals ... Obey the call of the Fatherland, do not join the ranks of the evil-minded aristocrats and the enemies of the people and you will once again save the Fatherland.”

They reckoned that in the path of the triumph of the revolution stood the interests of “a few isolated individuals.” They did not understand that these “isolated individuals” reflected the nethermost revolutionary elemental forces of that time. These “few individuals” reflected the elemental forces that were against the “Neo-Nep” and against Bonapartism. The Thermidorians thought that the issue involved a change of individuals and not a class shift. “Obey the call of the Fatherland, do not join the ranks of the evil-minded aristocrats.” The friends of Robespierre – these were the aristocrats. – And did we not hear today the very same cry “Aristocrat!” from the lips of Janson addressed to me?

I could quote you any number of articles wherein the revolutionary Jacobins are referred to as the agents of the Chamberlain of that time, who was Pitt. The analogy is truly startling! In Chamberlain you have the modern pocket edition of Pitt. Take Aulard’s history [of the French Revolution]. “The enemies were not content with killing Robespierre and his friends; they calumniated them, picturing them in the eyes of France as Royalists and as men who had sold themselves to foreigners.” That is the literal wording of the passage. And today, does not Pravda’s article entitled The Path of the Opposition swerve into a similar path? Whoever is familiar with the last leading article of Pravda cannot possibly miss the odor. The odor of the “second chapter” assails one’s nostrils. The odor of this second chapter is Ustrialovism, which is already penetrating through the official institutions of our party, and which is disarming the revolutionary van guard of the proletariat at a time when the party regime stifles everyone who struggles against Thermidor. In the party the mass worker has been stifled. The rank and file worker is silent.

You desire a new “purge” in the name of silence. Such is the party regime. Recall the history of the Jacobin clubs. They had two chapters of purges there. When the wave went like this [upwards], the moderates were ejected. When the line began to curve downwards, the revolutionary Jacobins began to be ejected. What did this do to the Jacobin clubs? An anonymous regime of terror was instituted, for silence was made compulsory, 100% votes and abstention from all criticism were demanded, thinking in accordance with orders from above was made obligatory, and men were compelled to unlearn to think that the party is a living, independent organism and not a self-sufficing machine of power. The then Central Control Commission – there were likewise institutions at that time which fulfilled your functions – together with the revolution as a whole, went through two chapters. In the second chapter it disaccustomed the members of the party from thinking, and compelled them to accept blindly everything from above. The Jacobin clubs, the crucibles of revolution, became the nurseries of future functionaries of Napoleon. We should learn from the French Revolution. But is it really necessary to repeat it? [Shouts.]

This was not said in factional jesting. No one would risk for the sake of trifles and trash such great things as are at stake between us. I do not know whether this is my last opportunity to express myself on these questions before this body. I do not know how quickly you will effect in the future the itinerary to which I referred in the beginning of my speech. But I sought to use the eighty minutes allotted to me not to refute the miserable petty charges you have presented against me but to pose the basic questions in dispute.

What to do in order to avoid a split? Is it possible to avoid one? If we were living under the conditions of the period prior to the imperialist war, prior to the revolution, under the condition of a comparatively slow accumulation of contradictions, I believe that a split would be far more likely than the preservation of unity. It would be criminal to have any illusions about the profundity of our differences. But we have a different situation now. Our differences have sharpened frightfully, the contradictions have become very great. During the most recent period, in the course of the Chinese Revolution, the differences have again increased in the extreme. But at the same time we have, in the first place, a gigantic revolutionary potential in the party, we possess gigantic ideological wealth of accumulated experience in the works of Lenin, in the program of the party, in the traditions of the party. You have squandered a great deal of this capital, you have substituted for a lot, the cheap surrogates of the “modern school” which prevails now in the party press. But a good deal of pure gold still remains. In the second place, we have the present historical period of abrupt turns, gigantic events, colossal lessons from which one can and must learn. There are stupendous facts, which provide the test for the two lines. But you must not dare hide these facts. Sooner or later they will become known anyway. You cannot hide the victories and defeats of the proletariat. It is possible to make it easier or more difficult for the party to familiarize itself with these lessons and to assimilate them. You make it more difficult. That is why it is we, and we alone, who are the optimists. We say that we are rectifying the policies of the party, without a split. We are fighting and will continue to fight for the line of the October Revolution. We are now so profoundly convinced of the correctness of our line that we have no doubt that this line will make its way into the consciousness of the proletarian majority of our party.

What then is the duty of the CCC under these conditions? It seems to me that the duty of the CCC under these conditions should be to create, for this sharp and critical period, a more healthy and flexible regime in the party so as to enable the gigantic events to provide the test for the antagonistic lines without any convulsions. It is necessary to secure for the party the possibility of ideological self-criticism on the basis of the great events. If this is done, I am certain that, in a year or two, the course of the party will be rectified. There is no need to rush, there is no necessity for adopting such decisions as cannot be later remedied. Beware lest you are compelled to say: We parted company with those whom we should have preserved, while preserving those from whom we should have parted.


TROTSKY: I am pleased to take note of comrade Ordjonikidze’s declaration that in his opinion, as well as in mine, bureaucratism has grown during the past year. It is not a question of the mere number of functionaries. It is a question of the regime, of the course, of the attitude of the rulers towards the ruled. At a secret and select regional membership meeting where Yakovlev, the regional secretary, delivered a factional report against the Opposition, a working woman took the floor and said substantially the following: “I agree with everything that was said here. It is necessary to make short shrift of the Opposition, but the whole trouble is that when a man who happens to be dressed a little cleaner, comes to the Regional Committee, he is immediately directed where he needs go; but when a working woman comes, some what more drab and dirty, she has to wait a long time in the hall-way.” That was said by a working woman, a member of the Regional Committee. Such voices are to be heard more and more often. They signify not only that the number of bureaucrats has increased, but also the fact that the ruling circles are becoming more and more fused with the upper layers of the Soviet-Nep society; and that two floors are being created, two forms of life, two kinds of habits, or, to use the more fully expressive words, element: are being created of dual power in daily life which upon further development may become transformed into political dual power. Now, political dual power would already constitute a direct threat to the dictatorship of the proletariat. An enormous layer of the urban party-Soviet personnel leads the lives of functionaries until 8 p.m.; after three o’clock, they live like men-about-town, taking the attitude of liberals toward the Central Committee, while on Wednesdays, after six o’clock, they condemn the Opposition for being men of little faith. This type of party member bears a considerable resemblance to the Czarist functionary who used to profess privately the theory of Darwin, and who, when the need arose, presented credentials of holy communion.

Comrade Ordjonikidze has proposed to us that we aid him in the struggle against bureaucratism. Why then does he remove Oppositionists from their posts? I maintain that the overwhelming majority of Oppositionists are removed not for performing their work badly or for failing to work in keeping with the directives of the CEC, but as punishment for their convictions. They are removed as Oppositionists. They are removed as punishment for so-called “Trotskyism.”

I should like to avail myself of at least a single opportunity to express myself briefly on the subject of Trotskyism, i.e., the lie that has been passing under the guise of my political biography, especially from the lips and pen of Yaroslavsky, who is present here in the capacity of a judge, and others like himself. I have stated more than once, as is well known to all old party members, that on many most import ant questions I at one time fought against Lenin and the Bolshevik party, but I was not a Menshevik. If by Menshevism is understood a political class line-and that is the only way to understand it-then I was never a Menshevik. I broke organizationally and politically with what was to become Menshevism in the middle of 1904, i.e., from the moment when it began to take shape as a political tendency. I broke on the question of the attitude towards the liberal bourgeoisie [55] with the publication of Vera Zasulich’s article, and the article by Axelrod in which he presented his plan of supporting the Zemstvo [Provincial and county council elected by a limited franchise and having only economic and cultural functions] liberals, etc. On the question of the role of the classes in the revolution I was never in agreement with Menshevism. And this was the fundamental question. All the Yaroslavskys are duping the party and the International not only with respect to the last ten years, but also with respect to the more distant past when I stood outside both of the main factions of the then social democracy.

In May 1905, the Bolshevik Congress adopted a resolution on the question of the armed insurrection and the Provisional Government. At the Congress comrade Krassin introduced a major amendment, which was, in reality, a separate resolution, which was referred to by Lenin at the Congress in the most laudatory manner. [56] This resolution presented by Krassin was written entirely by me in Petrograd 𔂿 I have proof of this, namely, a note written by Krassin to me during one of the sessions. The most important resolution of the first Congress of the Bolshevik Party on the question of the armed insurrection and the Provisional Government, contained the central portion – consult the protocols – that was written by me, and I am proud of it. Have any of my critics perhaps something similar to list among their assets?

In 1905, a whole number of proclamations issued in Baku in the underground Bolshevik printshop were written by me: the one to the peasants on the occasion of January 9; another on the Czarist agrarian laws, and so on. In 1905, in November, Novaya Zhizn, under the editorship of Lenin, solidarized itself with my articles in Nachalo [57] on the nature of our revolution. And I was expounding in them the so-called theory of the permanent revolution.

ORDJONIKIDZE: Nevertheless you happened to be with Nachalo and not Novaya Zhizn. Isn’t that so?

TROTSKY: But you have apparently forgotten that at that time the Bolshevik CEC headed by Lenin unanimously adopted a resolution in favor of unity between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Within a few weeks, Nachalo was merged with Novaya Zhizn, and the latter wrote in warm praise of my articles on more than one occasion. This was the period of the tendency toward unification. You hide the fact that I worked hand in hand with the Bolsheviks in the 1905 Soviet. You hide the fact that in 1906 Lenin published in Novaya Volna my pamphlet Our Tactics which defined our attitude toward the peasantry in the revolution. You hide the fact that at the London Congress in 1907, Lenin referred favorably to my attitude towards the bourgeoisie and the peasantry. [58] I maintain that my differences with Bolshevism were never greater than those of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht upon those questions on which they also differed from Bolshevism. Let anyone dare assert that they were Mensheviks!

I was not a Bolshevik at that time. But I was never guilty of such monstrous blunders as the preservation of the Anglo-Russian Committee, or the subordination of the Chinese Communist Party to the Kuomintang.

KRYVOY: What about the Vienna platform?

TROTSKY: Are you referring to the bloc [59] in August 1912?


TROTSKY: That was the fruit of conciliationism. I had not yet lost hope at the time of the possibility of uniting the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. But let not Ordjonikidze, Yaroslavsky and the others forget that they themselves participated in 1917 – not in 1912, mind you, but in 1917 – in joint organizations with the Mensheviks. The Vienna Conference was one of the attempts at conciliationism. It was not at all my intention to make a bloc with the Mensheviks against the Bolsheviks. I still had hopes of reconciling the Bolsheviks with the Mensheviks, and sought to unite them. In this as in all other instances, Lenin refused to have anything to do with such an artificial unification. As a result of conciliationist policies, I found myself formally in a bloc with the Mensheviks. But the struggle between us flared up instantly, almost on the very next day; and the outbreak of the war found us irreconcilable opponents. Incidentally, Stalin, throughout this period, was himself rather a vulgar conciliationist and, moreover, during the most acute moments. In 1911, Stalin wrote concerning the struggle between Lenin and Martov that it was “a tempest in a teapot.” This was written by a member of the Bolshevik party. In March 1917, Stalin was in favor of unity with Tseretelli. In 1926, Stalin was in favor of a bloc with Purcell, Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei. My mistakes are trifling indeed when compared with these mistakes. My activity from 1914 to 1917, i.e., during the war, is being distorted ruthlessly, after the easy manner of that simon-pure social democrat Kuusinen, and especially by those gentlemen who were either patriots or followers of Kautsky at the time. Let me remind you that at the beginning of the war I wrote a pamphlet entitled War and the International concerning which Zinoviev – who was not and could not have been favorably disposed toward me – wrote that it posed the question correctly on all fundamental issues.

SHKLOVSKY: That was in 1914!

TROTSKY: Very true, that was in 1914. This pamphlet became a weapon in the hands of extreme Left wingers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I was a revolutionary internationalist, even though I was not a Bolshevik. In France, I collaborated with a group of comrades, socialists and syndicalists, who later joined the Communist International, and who were among its founders. I was deported from France asa revolutionary internationalist. I was deported from Spain as a revolutionary internationalist. In New York, I worked on the editorial board of Novy Mir, together with Volodarsky and Bukharin. In February and March 1917, I wrote articles in Novy Mir which were written in the same spirit as Lenin’s Geneva articles, at a time when Stalin came out in Pravda as a semi-Menshevik and semi-defensist. In a Canadian concentration camp at Amherst, I organized the German sailors who were followers of Liebknecht, and who later fought on the side of the Spartacists.

ORDJONSKSDZE: You have four minutes left, comrade Trotsky.

TROTSKY: I have not yet touched on the answer to the fundamental question that you posed in reference to the “decline” of our revolution.

ORDJONIKIDZE: Why did you dwell so long on your biography?

TROTSKY: I think that an accused man has a right to speak of his biography, and it is not within the province of a chairman to restrict him on such occasions. At any rate, I was not the one who first brought up the question of my biography. Nothing was further from my mind. There are enough questions as it is. But it is precisely the Stalinist faction that has substituted the question of my biography for all political questions. And I reply to fictions with irrefutable facts. I appeal to the Presidium to grant me 15 minutes in order to reply on the question of the destiny of our revolution.

ORDJONSKIDZE: You will speak the remaining four minutes, and then we shall take up the question of extending your time.

TROTSKY: Ordjonikidze upbraided me for drawing an analogy with the Great French Revolution. One must not talk, you see, of prisons, guillotines and the perspectives of decline, etc. It is a superstition that harm can come from words. Harm can come from facts, from actions, from false policy. I must say, however, that the question itself was not raised on my initiative at all. I made reference to Soltz’s words. They motivated me to pose the question of the different stages of the revolution, its waves of rise and fall, either temporary or final.

Temporary or final – herein is the crux of the question, comrade Ordjonikidze. Before dwelling on this question, I must state that in all the nuclei preparations are being made at the present time to draw further and further conclusions – preparations for precisely that line which you, comrade Ordjonikidze, so lightly and bureaucratically dismiss, namely, the path of expulsions and repressions. Yes, I repeat, you do so lightly and bureaucratically, shutting your eyes to what is taking place in the party and above the party. In all nuclei, the reporters, especially rehearsed beforehand, pose the question of the Opposition in such a manner as makes some worker rise – most often on instructions – and say: “Why are you bothering with them? Is it not high time to shoot them?” Then the reporter, with a hypocritically mild mien, objects, “Comrades, there is no need to be hasty.” This has already become a routine in the party. The question is always being posed behind the backs of the Oppositionists, with insinuations, with filthy implications, with rude, dishonest and purely Stalinist distortions of the Opposition’s platform and of the revolutionary biographies of the Oppositionists, who are being pictured as the enemies of the revolution, as the enemies of the party – all this in order to arouse a wild reaction on the part of the duped audience, on the part of the raw young party members with whom you are artificially loading the party ranks; so that you will later have the opportunity to say, “Now look! We are ready to be patient, but the masses are insisting.” This is the specific strategy of Stalin, you yourselves are to a greater or lesser degree the organizers of this campaign, and when the backwash engulfs you, you say, “The party demands it, and I can do nothing about it ...”

The second rebuke launched by comrade Ordjonikidze against me is a political rebuke of a more general nature. He says that my comparison with the Great French Revolution precisely expresses my “pessimism.” Trotsky, you see, thinks the revolution has perished. If I thought the revolution had perished, why should I struggle against you? On this issue you are never consistent. If I do not believe in the construction of socialism, as you assert, why should I propose to “plunder the peasant” as you likewise assert? Is it perhaps out of my personal hostility toward the peasant? If I do not believe in the revolution, why should I engage in a struggle? It would then be best to swim with the tide. Please, try to understand this! Whoever thinks that the revolution has already perished anyway, would not engage in a struggle. Comrades, you have once again failed to put two and two together.

The October Revolution has not perished. I never said it has. I do not believe it has. But I did say that it is possible to ruin the October Revolution, if one really undertakes to do so – and that you have already accomplished a few things to that end. Your entire thinking on this question, comrade Ordjonikidze, is not dialectical but formal. You ignore the question of the conflict of living forces, the question of the party. Your thinking is utterly permeated with fatalism. You differentiate between optimism and pessimism as if they were two immutable categories independent of conditions and politics. According to your way of thinking, one can be only either an “optimist” or a “pessimist”, i.e., either think that the revolution has completely perished or that it will not perish under any circumstances no matter what we did. The one and the other are false. Has not the revolution already passed through a number of ups and downs? Didn’t we have a stupendous upswing in the period of the October overturn, and didn’t we hang suspended by a hair in the period of the Brest-Litovsk peace? Recall to your minds what Lenin said during the struggle against the Left Communists – that it is extremely difficult to control the automobile of power in the epoch of revolution, because it is necessary to keep making sharp turns all the time. Brest-Litovsk was a retreat. The NEP, after the Kronstadt uprising, was a retreat. And did not each wave of retreat engender in its turn opportunist moods? It is clear as noonday that when these movements of retreat and of downward swings in the revolution are prolonged for a year, or two and three years, they engender a more profound drop in the moods of the masses and of the party as well. Comrade Ordjonikidze, you are a native Caucasian and you know that a road that leads up the mountain, does not go straight upward, but winds and zigzags, and often after a steep rise, it is necessary to descend two or three versts [A Russian measure, app. 2/3 of a mile.] in order then to resume the upward march – but the road itself leads nevertheless up the mountain. While making a partial downward descent, I must keep aware that the road will turn and again mount upwards. But if I, for the sake of “optimism”, altogether ignore these upward and downward zigzags, then my wagon will fly off into the abyss on one of the turns. I say that at the present time your road leads to the right and downwards. The danger lies in the fact that you do not see this, i.e., that you shut your eyes to it. And it is dangerous to ride up the mountain with one’s eyes shut.

In the autumn of 1923, we had a stupendous upsurge in the party, parallel with the lift in the German revolution. But after its defeat we, too, suffered an ebb-tide. Out of this ebb-tide grew the Stalinist theory of socialism in one country, a theory of decline, which is in radical contradiction with the fundamentals of Marxism. In 1926, during the Chinese Revolution, simultaneously with the improvement of our international situation, there was a powerful upward surge. Then followed an intensified ebb-tide – after the defeat of the Chinese Revolution. One must take the curve of the historical movement in all of its concreteness. From 1923 on, we have had a series of major defeats. Only a miserable coward would lose heart because of that. But he is blind, and a dullard and a bureaucrat, who cannot differentiate between the right foot and the left, between the upsurge of the revolution and its ebb. When I had a discussion with Brandler in January 1924, after the defeat, he said to me, “In the autumn of 1923, I was not in agreement with you because you were over-optimistic; now you are too pessimistic and I am again in disagreement with you.” I replied, “Comrade Brandler, I fear that you will never make a revolutionist, because you cannot distinguish between the face of the revolution and its other extremity.”

Comrade Ordjonikidze approaches the question of the victory or defeat of the revolution independently of any connection with the dialectic process, i.e., independently of the mutual interaction between our policies and the objective conditions. He poses the question in the following manner: either the inevitable victory of the revolution or its inevitable defeat. Now, I say: If we proceed to make real and thorough mistakes, then we can doom the revolution. But if we apply all our forces to rectify a false line, then we shall triumph. But to assert that no matter what we may do – either in relation to the kulak, in relation to the Anglo-Russian Committee, or in relation to the Chinese Revolution – it can do no harm to the revolution; that the revolution must triumph “anyway” – is to reason in the manner that only indifferent bureaucrats are capable of doing. And so far as they are concerned, it is precisely they who are capable of ruining the revolution.

Wherein does our revolution differ from the French?

In the first place, with respect to the economic and class foundation of the respective epochs. In France, the leading role was played by the lower sections of the urban petty bourgeoisie. In our country – by the proletariat. It was owing to this alone that the bourgeois revolution could grow over into a socialist revolution in our country, and develop as such – with great obstacles and dangers remaining as yet. This is the first point of difference.

The second point of difference: France was surrounded by feudal countries – more backward in the economic and cultural sense than France herself. We, on the other hand, are surrounded by capitalist countries more advanced than we are with respect to technology and industry, and with a more powerful and cultured proletariat. We may expect revolutions in these countries in a comparatively near future. In consequence, the international position of our revolution, despite the fact that imperialism is mortally hostile to us, is in a wide historical sense far more favorable to us than was the case in France toward the end of the 18th century.

Finally, the third point of difference. We live in the epoch of imperialism, in the epoch of the greatest international and internal upheavals – and this creates the great rising revolutionary curve upon which our policies are based. But it is impermissible to think that this “curve” will carry us through under any and all conditions. This is false! He understands nothing who believes that we can build socialism even in the event capitalism is able to crush the proletariat for several decades to come. This is not optimism but the stupidity of national-reformism. We can be victorious only as an integral section of the world revolution. We must hold on until the world revolution, even if the latter is deferred for a number of years. In this respect, the trend of our policy is of decisive importance. By means of a correct revolutionary course, we shall intrench ourselves for a number of years, we shall intrench the Communist International, move ahead along the socialist path and achieve our being taken in tow by the great historical tugboat of the international revolution.

Our present party course is the main danger. It stifles the revolutionary power of resistance. What does your course consist of? You put your stake on the strong peasant and not on the agricultural laborer and the poor peasant. You steer toward the bureaucrat and the functionary and not the masses. You place far too much faith in the apparatus. In the apparatus you have tremendous internal support for each other, and mutual insurance for yourselves – that is why Ordjonikidze is unable to succeed even in reducing the staffs. Independence from the masses creates the system of mutual concealment and shielding. And all this is considered as the main prop of power. In the party, reliance is now placed on the secretary and not on the rank and file member. You rely now on Purcell and not on the rank and file proletarian. You rely not on the revolutionary miner but on Purcell who has betrayed the miners. In China, you steer a course toward Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei and not toward the Shanghai proletarian, not the coolie who drags cannon on his shoulder, and not the insurgent peasant.

You have placed on the order of the day the question of expelling us from the Central Committee. Assuredly, each one of us will carry out his work regardless of his position, as a rank and file party member. But this will not solve the question; you will have to draw further conclusions. Life itself will compel you to make these conclusions. You had better pause instead and change your course.


48. The Central Control Commission is a body, formally distinct from the Central Committee, which presides over the morals and the discipline of the party memhership. It is, in theory, supposed to be made up of the most authoritative and unimpeachable party members, so that their decisions shall not be influenced by factional or other extraneous considerations. In Stalin’s period, the CCC was converted into a mere factional instrument for the punishment and expulsion of any political opponent or critic indicated by the bureaucracy.

49. The incident at the railway station refers to the gathering of political and personal friends to bid farewell to I.T. Smilga who was being deported from Moscow on the pretext of being sent to do party work in the provinces – an action in direct violation of the party rules, adopted as early as the Tenth Congress on Lenin’s motion, providing against the shifting of members for party work on the grounds of their political views. Zinoviev’s speech over the radio was on the occasion of the anniversary of the central party organ, Pravda; he was charged with having spoken about inner-party affairs to an audience containing non-party members – at a time when the public press was filled with column upon column of the most violent and slanderous attacks upon the Oppositionists every single day. As for Trotsky’s “breach of discipline”,he had been condemned by the Stalinist press more than a year before for having failed to appeal his case to the international tribunal, namely, to the Communist International, which is, in theory, a superior body to any committee or assembly of the Russian party, which is only one of its national sections. Trotsky and Vuyovich, as members of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, did exercise their rights as members to appear before the Eighth Plenum of the ECCI in May, 1927, to present their point of view on the Anglo-Russian Committee, the Chinese Revolution, and the situation in the Soviet Union. For having done so, they were removed from the ECCI in violation of its statutes.

50. By the time Trotsky was delivering this speech, it was possible to draw a complete balance sheet of the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Unity Committee, which was dissolved by the withdrawal of the British trade union leaders sometime in May 1927, after they had squeezed out of it every possible political advantage to themselves. See also, Note 32.

51. The Black Hundreds was the name given to the arch-reactionary and monarchistic “Union of the Russian People” which terrorized revolutionists and instigated anti-Semitic pogroms under the rule of the Czar.

52. The Declaration of 88 was handed to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on May 26, 1927 by G. Yevdokimov, G. Zinoviev, I.T. Smilga and L. Trotsky in the name of 88 old revolutionists. The declaration was a summary of the Opposition’s point of view on the decisive questions in dispute in the Soviet Party. Among its signers, the year of whose adherence to the party is given in parentheses, were: Beloborodov (1907), Visnevskaya (1905), Vuyovich (1912), Vassiliev (1904), Vardin (1907), A. Gertek (1902), N. Gordon (1903), Yemelianov (1899), Yevdokimov (1903), Shuk (1904), Zinoviev (1899), Zaks-Gladnev (1906), Kuklin (1903), Kavtaradze (1903), Lizdin (1892), Muralov (1908), Ostrovskaya (1905), Piatakov (1910), Radek (1902), Serebriakov (1905), I.N. Smirnov (1899), Samsonov (1903), Sosnovsky (1903), Ter-Vaganyan (1912), Kharitonov (1905), Sharov (1904), Tsibulsky (1904), Eltsin (1898). The declaration was speedily signed by several hundred names.

53. It is to be found in the Jahrbach fur Sozialwissenchaft und Sozialpolitik, published by Dr. Ludwig Richter, Zurich 1879, pp.54-75 and is entitled Der Isolirte Sozialistische Staat von G. V[ollmar]. In setting forth his view, Vollmar, prominent spokesman for the Right wing of the German social democracy in his time, wrote: “I believe – and shall seek to demonstrate it in the following pages – that the final victory of socialism is not only historically more likely primarily in a single state, but that nothing stands in the road of the existence and prosperity of the isolated socialist state.” (p.55)

54. The “Thermidorian chapter” of the French Revolution opened up on the 9th of Thermidor (July 27, 1794) when the counter-revolution effected its dramatic coup by the execution of the revolutionary Jacobins, Robespierre, Saint-Just, Couthon, Lebas and others. The term is applied by Trotsky to conditions socially analogous in the Russian Revolution, meaning the growth of social, economic and political reaction occurring under the old structural forms and banners.

55. The Menshevik attitude towards the “liberals”, that is, the “progressive bourgeoisie” ,was fundamentally different from the attitude of the Bolsheviks, or of Trotsky. The Mensheviks saw the basic problem of the coming revolution in Russia as that of the alliance of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie against feudalism and for the establishment of a democratic, parliamentary bourgeois republic, in which the working class and its party would constitute the Left wing, in approximately the same way as the socialist parties of France, England and Germany functioned in their bourgeois republics or parliaments. The Bolsheviks saw the problem as one of an alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry against the industrial bourgeoisie, for the establish ment of a “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.” Trotsky saw the problem of the alliance in exactly the same way as the Bolsheviks, but differed from the latter in his insistence upon a more precise formulation of the nature of the future revolution, arguing that the proletariat once having come to power, in alliance with the rural masses, would be unable to halt at the “democratic” stage and would have to continue to the “socialist stage”, i.e., would make the revolution permanent.

56. In defending his (that is, Trotsky’s) amendment, Krassin said at the third congress of the Bolsheviks:

“As regards the resolution of Comrade Lenin, I see its weak point in its failure to stress the question of the provisional government, and to indicate with sufficient clarity the connection between provisional government and armed uprising. As a matter of fact, the provisional government is established by the popular uprising as its own organ.

I further find in the resolution the incorrect opinion that the provisional revolutionary government will appear only after the final victory of the armed uprising and after the overthrow of autocracy. No – it arises in the very process of the uprising and takes the most active part in the conduct of the uprising, insuring the latter’s victory by its organized action. It is naive to think that the social democracy will be able to take part in the provisional revolutionary government the moment the autocracy is completely overthrown; when the chestnuts have been removed from the fire by other hands than ours, nobody will ever dream of sharing them with us.”

In dealing with Krassin’s remarks, Lenin said:

“Taking it by and large, I subscribe to the opinion of Comrade Krassin. It is natural that as a literary man, I should concentrate my attention on the literary shaping of the question. The importance of the object of the struggle is pointed out by Comrade Krassin very exactly, and I wholly subscribe to his view. One cannot engage in a struggle without expecting to cap ture the position for which one is fighting.”

Commenting on the episode twenty-four years later, Trotsky wrote:

“The resolution was correspondingly amended. It may not be superfluous to remark that during the polemics of the last few years, the resolution of the Third Congress on the question of provisional government has been quoted hundreds of times as something opposed to ’Trotskyism.’ The ’Red Professors’ of the Stalin school have not the ghost of an idea that they are quoting against me, as an example of Leninism, the very lines that I wrote myself.” (My Life, New York 1930, p.173.)

57. In reply to an article in the bourgeois liberal journal, Nasha Zhizn [Our Life], which sought to contrast the “reasonable” views of Lenin to the “permanent revolution” of Trotsky, the Bolshevik organ, Novaya Zhizn [New Life] replied, on Novem ber 27, 1905:

“This gratuitous report is of course sheer nonsense. Comrade Trotsky said that the proletarian revolution, without standing still at the first stage, by pressing hard upon the exploiters, can continue on its road, while Lenin pointed out that the political revolution is only the first step. The publicist of Nasha Zhizn would like to perceive a contradiction there.

The whole misunderstanding comes, first, from the fear with which the name alone of the social revolution fills Nasha Zhizn, secondly, out of the desire of this paper to discover some sort of sharp and piquant difference of opinion among the social democrats and, thirdly, in the metaphorical expression of Comrade Trotsky: ’at one fell swoop.’ In No.10 of Nachalo [The Beginning], Comrade Trotsky explains his ideas quite unequivocally:

‘The complete victory of the revolution signifies the victory of the proletariat,’ writes Comrade Trotsky. ‘But this victory in turn signifies the further uninterruptedness of the revolution. The proletariat realizes the fundamental tasks of democracy and the logic of its immediate struggle for the safeguarding of political domination causes purely socialist problems to arise at the given moment. Between the minimum and the maximum program of the social democracy, a revolutionary continuity is established. This is not one “blow”, it is not one day and not a month, it is a whole historical epoch. It would be absurd to want to determine its duration in advance.’“

58. At the London Congress in 1907, Lenin said of Trotsky’s programmatic speech:

“I merely wish to observe that Trotsky, in his hook On the Defense of the Party emphatically expressed his solidarity with Kautsky, who wrote of the economic community of interests of the proletariat and the peasantry in the present revolution in Russia. Trotsky recognized the admissibility and expediency of a Left bloc [with the peasants] against the liberal bourgeoisie. These facts are enough for me to establish Trotsky’s approach to our conception. Independent of the question of the ‘uninterrupted revolution,’ we have here before our eyes a solidarity in the fundamental points of the question concerning the relationship to the bourgeois parties.” (Collected Works, Vol.VIII, p.400. Russ. ed.)

59. In the period of the upswing in the Russian labor movement, Trotsky sought to unify the various socialist groups and took the initiative to call a conference in Vienna of all the contending factions. It met in August 1912 attended by various Menshevik representatives, Trotsky, and a number of Bolshevik conciliators. Largely because of Trotsky’s irreconcilable political differences with the Mensheviks, the bloc formed in Vienna failed to hold together for any length of time. Looking back on the episode, Trotsky later wrote:

“Among the Bolsheviks themselves, conciliatory tendencies were then still very strong, and I had hoped that this would induce Lenin also to take part in a general conference. Lenin, however, came out with all his force against union. The entire course of the events that followed proved conclusively that Lenin was right.” (My Life, p.225)

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Last updated on: 22.4.2007