Leon Trotsky

Trotsky Gives N.Y. Times
Writer a Few Pointers

(November 1939)

First Published: Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 91, 1 December 1939, p. 2.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2018. Creative Commons (Attribute & Share-alike).

New York Times
New York City, N.Y.


Your Moscow correspondent in a letter on the foreign policy of the Kremlin (New York Times, November 12) affirms that this policy is dictated by Marxist doctrine. Mr. Gedye reiterates insistently: “They are Marxists first, last, and always.” Thus Mr. Gedye agrees completely with this evaluation which the heads of the Kremlin are giving themselves and which is necessary for them in order to sustain the reputation of their international agency, the Comintern. It is impossible of course to enter here into a discussion upon the Kremlin’s “Marxism.” However, there are more concrete affirmations in Mr. Gedye’s letter which I cannot pass over.

Kremlin Falsifications

“The leaders have not adopted,” writes Mr. Gedye, “the theory of Leon Trotsky of ‘permanent revolt’ and the view that Socialism in one country is impossible. Far from that, they are as convinced as ever that Lenin was right ...”

These two sentences contain, mildly speaking, two misunderstandings. Lenin never propagated the theory of socialism in one country. On the contrary he affirmed constantly that the ultimate fate of the social order of the USSR depends completely upon the fate of international capitalism. Permit me to refer to my History of the Russian Revolution (Vol. III, pp. 378–418) where, I dare believe, it is proved irrefutably that Lenin stood on the conception directly opposed to that which is now ascribed to him by the Kremlin. Even after the death of Lenin in the Spring of 1924, Stalin still continued to explain in his compilation, Problems of Leninism, how and why Lenin considered it impossible to construct a socialist society in a single country. Only in the next edition of the same book in the Fall of 1924 did Stalin, moved by practical and not theoretical considerations, radically change his position on this not unimportant issue. Following this turn, the Kremlin made an attempt to force Lenin to change his conception too. Mr. Gedye unfortunately supports this attempt.

Not less erroneous is the assertion concerning the theory of “permanent revolt” allegedly subscribed to by me. The theory of “permanent revolution” (not “revolt”), starting from an analysis of the class relationships in Czarist Russia, reached the conclusion that the democratic revolution in Russia must lead inevitably to the conquest of power by the proletariat and thus open the era of socialist revolution. I don’t believe that the latest events have refuted this theory promulgated at the beginning of 1905. In any case it has nothing in common with the theory of “permanent revolt” which seems to me simply nonsense. The totalitarian press of Moscow more than once of course has represented my views in a caricatural form. Mr. Gedye obviously has assimilated this caricatural presentation.

Correspondents “Worked On”

I must say in general that nowhere are the foreign correspondents so persistently and successfully worked upon as in Moscow. In the past years we have observed how some American journalists systematically induced American public opinion into error by their articles upon the “most democratic constitution in the world,” upon the Kemlin’s profound sympathy for the democracies, upon the Kremlin’s not less profound hatred for Hitler and so on. As a result of such information the latest turns of the Kremlin took the public by surprise. In a country where the books devoted to the history of the party and the revolution, the historical plays, historical films, historical paintings, are nothing but consciously fabricated falsifications, the foreign correspondent should provide himself with a good deal of critical distrust if he really wishes to inform public opinion in his own country and not simply maintain friendly relations with the Kremlin.

Coyoacan, D.F.

Sincerely yours,
L. Trotsky

P.S. – Permit me to utilize this occasion for another correction. Several times I have encountered the allegation in your paper that Lenin characterized Trotsky as the “most clever member of the Central Committee.” I am afraid that this translation – not only incorrect but tendentious – originated also from one of the too trustful Moscow correspondents. The word “clever” in this context has an ironical, a somewhat debasing connotation of which there is not a trace in the so-called Testament of Lenin. “Sami sposobniy,” the exact Russian words used by Lenin, can be translated into English as “most able” but in no case as “most clever.”



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Last updated on: 28 June 2016