Leon Trotsky’s Writings on Britain
Volume 2

The Anglo-Russian Committee

The Break-up of the
Anglo-Russian Committee

1. We declare that we shall continue to criticize the Stalinist régime 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 régime which will otherwise undermine all the conquests of the October Revolution. Back in the reign of the Tsar there were patriots who used to confuse the fatherland with the ruling administration. We have nothing in common with them. We will continue to criticize the Stalinist régime as a worthless régime, a régime of back-sliding, an ideologically emasculated, narrow-minded and short-sighted régime.

For one year we tried to hammer into your heads the meaning of the Anglo-Russian Committee. We told you that it was ruining the developing revolutionary movement of the British 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. [1] You will say, “But we criticize him!” This is nothing else than a new form of support to opportunism by backsliding 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? [2] He is able to say, “Now look here! Tomsky [3] himself, a member of the Political Bureau and Chairman of the All-Russian Central Council of the Trade Unions who sent money to the British 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 [4] 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 centre 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 [5] 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 I worthy of the Black Hundred. [6] 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.

Volume 2, Chapter 2 Index


1. Alfred Purcell, left-wing member of the General Council of the TUC; president of the TUC 1924.

2. Austen Chamberlain (1863-1937), British Conservative politician; Foreign Secretary 1924-1929.

3. Mikhail Tomsky (1886-1936) was an old Bolshevik and a trade unionist. Always on the right wing of the Party, he opposed the 1917 insurrection and was closely involved in Stalin’s policies in the mid-20s, particularly on the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Committee. He opposed the left turn in 1928 along with Bukharin and Rykov and committed suicide after the first of the Moscow Trials.

4. Ivar Smilga (1892-1937 or 1938), Russian Bolshevik leader and member of the Left Opposition; Chairman of the Finnish Committee of the Soviets in 1917 and chairman of Tsentrobalt (the Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet) in 1917-18, supported the Left Opposition but broke with it in 1929 along with Preobrazhensky on the pretext taht Stalin was now carrying out the economic policies of the LO; exiled to the Russian Far East during the 1930s; arestedin 1937, tried as a terrorist at the first Moscow Show trial and executed.

5. Jimmy Thomas (1874-1949), British trade unionist and Labour politician; General Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen 1917-31; member of first (1924) and second (1929-31) Labour governments; supported MacDonald in the split in the Labour government over the reduction of unemployment benefit and went with MacDonald and Snowden into the National Government with the Conservatives; as a result he was expelled from the Labour Party and the NUR.

6. Black Hundreds: counter-revolutionary monarchist and virulently anti-semitic groups formed in Russia with government support during and after the 1905 Revolution.

Volume 2 Index

Trotsky’s Writings on Britain

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Last updated on: 2.7.2007