“THE MOST colossal fabrication in the history of world politics.” So Trotsky has characterized the latest attempt of the Stalin regime to implicate him as well as Zinoviev, Kamenev, and other Old Bolsheviks in a terrorist plot against the Soviet leaders.
The trumped-up character of the charges is obvious to the naked eye. The entire careers of these associates of Lenin prove that they are irreconcilably opposed, in theory and in practice, to individual terrorism as a method of political struggle.
The trial with its nonchalant “confessions” by the defendants and, for that matter, the nature of these obviously extorted avowals do not alter the real situation for a moment. We are being asked to believe that virtually every prominent leader of the Russian Revolution who is still alive, was involved in one way or another in the fairy-tale “assassination plot”—including Radek, Bukharin, Tomsky and Rykov, all of whom were up to yesterday the most vociferous advocates of the regime.
Such “confessions” have absolutely no value for an intelligent person. They remind one of similar “confessions” in the past: especially the one made during the Menshevik trial a few years ago concerning the participation of Abramovitch in a clandestine conference in the Soviet Union at a time when he was in quite another country; and the other during the trial of the technical specialists who stated that they had conspired with individuals who, it was later proved, had long ago been dead.
The very elaborateness and fantastic nature of the “confessions,” the alternating eagerness and indifference with which the defendants vied with one another for the distinction of being labelled the most heinous criminal, even arouse the feeling that some, at least, of the accused had resolved to answer the sinister frame-up with a mocking satire of the whole affair such as was common in the “legal literature” issued by revolutionists under the reign of the Tsar.
It is a shameful spectacle to see the first workers’ government resorting to a political frameup reminiscent of the method used by the Nazis in the case of the Reichstag fire.
What lies back of this action? The answer is to be found first of all in the growing dissatisfaction with the new turn in the Comintern policies following the Seventh Congress. In line with the foreign policy of the Soviet Government, the Communist International is striving desperately to preserve the world’s status quo at the same time that events in Spain and France are rising to revolutionary crises and the new imperialist war looms on the immediate horizon. Within the Soviet Union the government is bringing about an ever greater stratification among the workers, and basing its rule more and more clearly on the privileged and highly paid sections. Incipient opposition to these policies, growing among the advanced workers everywhere, including the sections of the Comintern and the Soviet Union itself, endanger the possibility of carrying them through; and Stalin is meeting the danger—ironic comment on the new “democratic” Constitution!—by persecution, police terror, and frame-up.
At the very time that the communist press accuses Trotsky of “being in league with the Fascists,” Norwegian Fascists raid Trotsky’s home, and demand his expulsion from Norway on account of his revolutionary activities.
The terrific haste with which the Stalinist bureaucracy conducted the “trial” and carried out the executions is in itself evidence that the proof, even as against those who “confessed,” was worthless. No time was allowed to organize an international commission of labor representatives to be sent to the Soviet Union to be present at the trial and act as a jury for world labor. Such a precedent was set at the trial of the Social Revolutionaries in 1922, when under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky, the Soviet Government was willing to produce the evidence before the whole world.
Trotsky has indicated his willingness to appear before any impartial commission and testify to the utter falseness of the charges levelled against him. We can be perfectly sure that the Stalinist clique will never consent to come before an impartial tribunal. The frame-up would be too quickly exposed.
All correspondents agree that the trial had only one purpose : to discredit Trotsky and the revolutionary ideas for which he stands. Not only to discredit Trotsky but actually to incite fanatical Stalinists to make an attempt on his life.
A few Old Bolsheviks made miserable and demoralized by terror and suffering were murdered. The ideas which made possible the November Revolution cannot be executed by Stalin’s firing squad. And in those ideas, the most authoritative spokesman of which is Leon Trotsky, lies the hope of the international proletariat.
(The next issue of the Socialist Appeal will carry a more detailed analysis’ of the significance and the outcome of the trial of Moscow.—Editors.)
Last updated on 23 September 2008