Leon Trotsky

Trotsky on Lovestone

No, It Is Not The Same!

(June 1938)

Written: 18 June 1938.
First Published: Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 27, 2 July 1938, p. 4.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2015. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

The Workers Age of June 11 carries an article in defense of Lovestone and Company’s long years of subserviency to the Thermidorian bureaucracy. This article proves once again that these people are incorrigible.

In my study on morals (published in the June 1938 issue of the New InternationalEd.), I pointed out the criminal attitude of Brandler and Lovestone toward the Moscow trials. Lovestone’s answer to this is: “Yes, we erred, but Trotsky, too, erred with regard to the trial of the Mensheviks in 1931. Where is the difference?”

The Difference Explained

We will explain briefly the difference to these gentlemen.

The Mensheviks are a conservative, petty-bourgeois party, tied up with imperialism. In the October Revolution they united with the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. During the Civil War, the right wing of the Mensheviks (Maisky, Troyanovsky and many others) stood on the side of the imperialists – some even with weapons in hand.

The Menshevik emigres in Paris consider Leon Blum, the clerk of the trusts, the executioner of colonial peoples, as their friend and leader. Under these circumstances, different forms of a bloc of Russian Mensheviks, especially of their individual representatives and groups, with imperialists, are politically entirely possible, both at present and in the future, just as they were possible in the past.

Trial of Mensheviks

The defendants in the trial of the Mensheviks in 1931 were little-known or completely unknown people, whose political past did not offer any guarantee and whose political views at the time of the trial remained entirely unknown.

If, in view of the stated circumstances, I admitted the possibility that these or other Mensheviks, or former Mensheviks, were really involved in imperialist intrigues and combinations, I did not at all, however, come out as the defender of the Stalinist bureaucracy and of Stalinist justice. On the contrary, I continued in irreconcilable struggle against the Moscow oligarchy.

The case was – with Mr. Lovestone’s permission – somewhat different in the trials against the “Trotskyists.” By its entire past, this grouping had shown that it was little inclined to friendship with the bourgeoisie and with imperialism.

Lovestone Knew the Truth

The literature of the “Trotskyists’’ has been and still is accessible to all. Zinoviev, Kamenev – were figures of international magnitude. I believe Lovestone knew them personally sufficiently well. The accusation against them was politically and psychologically preposterous.

The trials against the “Trotskyists” took place five years after the trial of the Mensheviks. During those five years, our literature succeeded in completely unmasking the Thermidorian bureaucracy with its methods of frame-up and amalgam.

Not to know and to see all this was possible only to those who did not want to know and see. Precisely in this category belong Brandler, Lovestone and their friends. They did not believe for a single moment that Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov, Radek, Piatakov and the others were counter-revolutionary terrorists, allies of the fascists, etc.


Lovestone and Company are good for nothing as Marxists, but no-one considers them idiots. They knew very well that we were confronted with a gigantic frame-up. But since in their petty-bourgeois, cowardly and conservative policy they had firmly bound their reputation with that of the Thermidorian bureaucracy, they made an attempt to follow it to the very end, in the hope that Stalin would succeed in his violation of public opinion. In their hearts they hoped that for this service the Kremlin would finally “recognize” them and call them to “office.” Only when they saw that the Moscow super-falsifier had failed ignominiously did they step aside and recognize in a half-voice their “slight” mistake.

In France, at the end of the last century, a Jewish officer, Dreyfus, was accused of espionage. Dreyfus was a figure unknown to anyone. One could be thoroughly sincere, a democrat, a socialist, an opponent of anti-semitism, etc., and still admit the possibility that Dreyfus might really be a spy: such cases are not at all infrequent among officers. But it is quite another thing to come out in defense of the French general staff, and of all kinds of reactionary scoundrels, and to take part in the anti-semitic newspaper campaign.

Mistakes and Mistakes

Between these two “mistakes” there is some difference, gentlemen of the Workers Age! One mistake has an episodic character; the other flows organically from a policy shot through and through with rottenness.

I am not writing this for Lovestone and his clique. These people are hopeless. For 15 years they were only shadows of different groups in the Soviet bureaucracy. Lovestone was a Zinovievite with Zinoviev, a Bukharinite with Bukharin, a Stalinist with Stalin. For 15 years he repeated all the slanders and falsifications against the so-called “Trotskyists.” His fraternization with Vyshinsky and Yagoda in 1936 was a natural link in this shameful chain. Lovestone cannot be re-educated. But in the ranks of the so-called Lovestoneites there are undoubtedly entirely sincere people who are being systematically misled. For them, I write these lines.

Coyoacan, D.F. June 18, 1938

Leon Trotsky

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