L. Trotsky

Open Letter to the Workers of the U.S.S.R.

(23 April 1940)

First Published: Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 19, 11 May 1940, p. 1.
Another version appeared in Fourth International, Vol. 1 No. 5, October 1940, pp. 140–141.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2019. Creative Commons (Attribute & Share-alike).

Greetings to the Soviet workers, collective farmers, soldiers of the Red Army and sailors of the Red Navy! Greetings from distant Mexico where I found refuge after the Stalinist clique had exiled me to Turkey and after the bourgeoisie had hounded me from country to country!

Dear Comrades! The lying Stalinist press has been maliciously deceiving you for a long time on all questions, including those which relate to myself and my political co-thinkers. You possess no workers’ press; you read only the press of the bureaucracy, which lies systematically so as to keep you in darkness and thus render secure the rule of a privileged parasitic caste.

Those who dare raise their voices against the universally hated bureaucracy are called “Trotskyists,” agents of a foreign power; branded as spies – yesterday it was spies of Germany, today it is spies of England and France – and then sent to face the firing squad. Tens of thousands of revolutionary fighters have fallen before the muzzles of G.P.U. Mausers in the USSR and in countries abroad, especially in Spain. All of them were depicted as agents of Fascism. Do not believe this abominable slander! Their crime consisted of defending workers and peasants against the brutality and rapacity of the bureaucracy. The entire Old Guard of Bolshevism, all the collaborators and assistants of Lenin, all the fighters of the October revolution, all the heroes of the Civil War, have been murdered by Stalin. In the annals of history Stalin’s name will forever be recorded with the infamous brand of Cain!

Revolution Was Not Made for Bureaucrats

The October revolution was accomplished for the sake of the toilers and not for the sake of new parasites. But due to the lag of the world revolution, due to the fatigue and, to a large measure, the backwardness of the Russian workers and especially the Russian peasants, there raised itself over the Soviet Republic and against its peoples a new oppressive and parasitic caste, whose leader is Stalin. The former Bolshevik party was turned into an apparatus of this caste. The world organization which the Communist International once was is today a pliant tool of the Moscow oligarchy. Soviets of Workers and Peasants have long perished. They have been replaced by degenerate Commissars, Secretaries and G.P.U. agents.

But, fortunately, among the surviving conquests of the October revolution are the nationalized industry and the collectivized Soviet economy. Upon this foundation Workers’ Soviets can build a new and happier society. This foundation cannot be surrendered by us to the world bourgeoisie under any conditions. It is the duty of revolutionists to defend tooth and nail every position gained by the working class, whether it involves democratic rights, wage scales, or so colossal a conquest of mankind as the nationalization of the means of production and planned economy. Those who are incapable of defending conquests already gained can never fight for new ones. Against the imperialist foe we will defend the USSR with all our might. However, the conquests of the October revolution will serve the people only if they prove themselves capable of dealing with the Stalinist bureaucracy, as in their day they dealt with the Tsarist bureaucracy and the bourgeoisie.

Stalinism Endangers the Soviet Union

If Soviet economic life had been conducted in the interests of the people; if the bureaucracy had not devoured and vainly wasted the major portion of the national income; if the bureaucracy had not trampled underfoot the vital interests of the population, then the USSR would have been a great magnetic pole of attraction for the toilers of the world and the inviolability of the Soviet Union would have been assured. But the infamous oppressive regime of Stalin has deprived the USSR of its attractive power. During the war with Finland, not only the majority of the Finnish peasants but also the majority of the Finnish workers, proved to be on the side of their bourgeoisie. This is hardly surprising since they know of the unprecedented oppression to which the Stalinist bureaucracy subjects the workers of near-by Leningrad and the whole of the USSR. The Stalinist bureaucracy, so bloodthirsty and ruthless at home and so cowardly before the imperialist enemies, has thus become the main source of war danger to the Soviet Union.

The old Bolshevik party and the Third International have disintegrated and decomposed. The honest and advanced revolutionists have organized abroad the Fourth International which has sections already established in most of the countries of the world. I am a member of this new International. In participating in this work I remain under the very same banner that I served together with you or your fathers and your older brothers in 1917 and throughout the years of the Civil War – the very same banner under which together with Lenin we built the Soviet state and the Red Army.

Revolutionary Goal of the Fourth International

The goal of the Fourth International is to extend the October revolution to the whole world and at the same time to regenerate the USSR by purging it of the parasitic bureaucracy. This can be achieved only in one way: By the workers, peasants, Red Army soldiers and Red Navy sailors, rising against the new caste of oppressors and parasites. To prepare this uprising, a new party is needed – a bold and honest revolutionary organization of the advanced workers. The Fourth International sets as its task the building of such a party in the USSR.

Advanced workers! Be the first to rally to the banner of Marx and Lenin which is now the banner of the Fourth International! Learn how to create, in the conditions of Stalinist illegality, tightly fused, reliable revolutionary circles! Establish contacts between these circles! Learn how to establish contacts – through loyal and reliable people, especially the sailors – with your revolutionary cothinkers in bourgeois lands! It is difficult, but it can be done.

The present war will spread more and more, piling ruins on ruins, breeding more and more sorrow, despair and protest, driving the whole world toward new revolutionary explosions. The world revolution shall re-invigorate the Soviet working masses with new courage and resoluteness and shall undermine the bureaucratic props of Stalin’s caste. It is necessary to prepare for this hour by stubborn systematic revolutionary work. The fate of our country, the future of our people, the destiny of our children and grandchildren are at stake.

Down With Cain Stalin and his Camarilla!

Down With the Rapacious Bureaucracy!

Long Live the Soviet Union, the Fortress of the Toilers!
Long Live the World Socialist Revolution!


Leon Trotsky

* * *

WARNING! Stalin’s press will of course declare that this letter is transmitted to the USSR by “agents of imperialism.” Be forewarned that this, too, is a lie. This letter will reach the USSR through reliable revolutionists who are prepared to risk their lives for the cause of socialism. Make copies of this letter and give it the widest possible circulation. – L.T.

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Last updated on: 1 February 2019