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The New International, January 1938


The Dewey Commission

From New International, Vol.4 No.1, January 1938, p.6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


THE COMMISSION OF Inquiry into the charges made against Leon Trotsky at the Moscow trials has announced that it will deliver its final report at a public meeting called for December 12. We are not as yet, of course, acquainted with the content of the report. The character and abilities of the members of the Commission and our knowledge of the scientific thoroughness with which they have pursued their investigation, however, assures us in advance of the profound historical significance of the forthcoming document.

Probably no analogous Commission in the history of the labor movement has ever been confronted with such obstacles or subjected to so vicious, unabating and ruthless an attack. By every method, precedented and unprecedented, every agency of every form of reaction has brought its energies to bear on one sole aim: to prevent the truth about the Moscow Trials from being known. It is a vast tribute to the courage and integrity of the Commission members, and of its distinguished chairman, Professor John Dewey, that they have not been turned aside, but have carried their work to its completion.

The attack against the Commission is in no respect accidental. No question of our time is more crucial than that of the Moscow trials. In the issue of the trials is summed up in concentrated form the problem of the Russian revolution which in its turn sums up the problem of the international revolution and thus of the future of mankind. To suppose that the trials are “out-dated”, have sunk into the background against the lurid and mighty events of the intervening months, is to be merely blind.

The trials of Zinoviev-Kamenev and of Piatakov-Radek are the blue-prints of the full force of the reaction against the proletarian revolution, of the counter-revolution. In them the ideology, the methods and the implications of the counter-revolution are displayed in the purest and bluntest manner. These trials are the arch-type upon which are modelled the entire series of lesser trials, purges, executions which have become a daily feature of the Soviet regime. No one can even pretend to understand the meaning of the purge without first understanding the trials; and they are equally necessary to an understanding of the new Constitution, the developments in Soviet economy, and indeed of the entire present policy of Stalinism.

But the trials are not in the least a “merely Russian phenomenon”, as the philistines are so anxious to insist. Their effect was felt immediately by the entire world; in every nation the trials at once became, and remain, an inescapable issue. More directly and specifically, the method of the trials has already been introduced into country after country, on an international scale. What is the policy of the Stalinists in Spain but the trials transferred to Spanish soil? In Czechoslovakia, the first Moscow trial has already been attempted – to end in failure, for this first time. In France, the preparation is well under weigh. In this country also, the trials have already begun: the Stalinists in Minnesota are now endeavoring to transform the events surrounding the assassination of the labor leader, Corcoran, into a native American replica of the Moscow trials. It would be naïve to imagine that it will stop with this, whatever the immediate result. Stalinism and all of its henchmen, agents, and allies, are now irrevocably committed to the method of the trials; this method now sums up its political substance; and it can no longer draw back.

There is no avoiding the issue of the trials, and there is no middle ground. That is why it is a permanent issue, why it remains and cannot be thrust aside. For, in actuality, the issue of the trials is the issue of the revolution itself. If Stalin and Vishinsky are correct, those who made the revolution are traitors, fascists, counter-revolutionists, and the revolution in its own history proves that the goal of socialism is impossible and must be abandoned. But to understand the truth, to realize that the trials are the most gigantic frame-up in history and to realize why that frame-up was undertaken, is to see that it is Stalinism which is the counter-revolution, and to re-assert triumphantly the goal of socialism and the methods – the methods of Marx and Lenin and Trotsky – through which that goal will be achieved.

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