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Socialist Appeal, 23 December 1939

Existence of Opposition in U.S.S.R.
Revealed by Soviet Newspapers

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 94, 23 December 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


It is becoming more and more difficult to penetrate behind the thick veil of secrecy and official verbiage of the Stalinist Russian press, which now arrives weeks late. The newspapers are filled with glowing reports of successes in every field, paeans to Stalin – with the war news pushed to the background. The official tone is that of “calm assurance”, “optimism” and “invincibility”.

Interspersed with these ritualistic reports, however, are extremely cautious comments which supply a key to the real situation. Hints are forthcoming of the fact that industry and agriculture are suffering from many grave weaknesses. Who is to blame? No longer do we hear that it is the fault of “wreckers” etc. Nor does the blame fall on the indisciplined and backward elements. Not at all. Local and regional directing bodies are blamed, especially the party organs. We cite only the latest instance at hand of this new approach. In discussing lags in collective farms, Pravda has the following to say:

“Everything is unloaded on the shoulders of the collective farmers, but the leaders of the region and of the collectives seek in every way to shield themselves. Yet the real reasons for the lag of the collective farm ... are rooted in nothing else but the inept leadership of the labor force both on the part of the regional leaders as well as of the administration of the collective itself ... Leaders of no small number of other regions can easily lay bare these evils among themselves, if they seek seriously to study the reasons for the lag of this or another collective in their territory.” (Pravda, November 21, 1939).

* * *

Existence of Dissidents Revealed by Press

This drive against the local party leaders is undoubtedly closely connected with the recent party purge which was in part a blow against opposition to the Stalin-Hitler pact. Very frequent reference has been made in the press to those who adopt an “oversimplified approach to Marxism” and a “one-sided view on the methods of struggle against Fascism.” At whom are these words directed if not at the opponents of Stalin’s latest policy?

The clearest indication of actual opposition to Stalin’s moves is to be found in the pages of Komsomolskaya Pravda, the official organ of the Soviet Young Communist League. In issue No. 213 of this paper it is stated that in the ranks of the party and especially the youth are to be found many “scholastics and muddleheads who seize on the letter of Marxism and hold the view that such things as communism and the (existence of the) army are incompatible.” The involved and cautious comment nevertheless makes it quite clear that there is disapproval of the use of the Red Army in the execution of Stalin’s foreign policy, that is, the invasion of Poland! This is attacked as the viewpoint of Trotskyites and Bukharinites. And the Komsomolskaya Pravda warns the dissidents to bear in mind the fate of the “Trotskyites, Bukharinites and Gamarnikites.”

The inclusion of Gamamik’s name in this instance is of special significance. Gamarnik was head of the Political Department of the Red Army, purged together with the other Marshals of the Red Army. The “fate of the Gamarnikites” is of particular meaning to the Red Army ranks where thousands have been purged on that very charge. It can only be a warning to dissidents within the Red Army itself!

* * *

Industry still suffers from acute labor shortage. Since September there has been a consistent campaign in favor of lengthening the working day. Supplementing it, has been a campaign to draw in women into industry and to remove “outdated” restrictions for the employment of women in the heavy industries. Out of the 37,000 unemployed in the city of Lvov (recently sovietized) some eight thousand were removed to the Don Basin to work in the mines. (Pravda, November 21)

The situation in the coal industry has not improved. The leading article in Pravda for November 12 places the responsibility for the “shortcomings” in coal production on the regional heads and the administration.

* * *

Miliukov’s paper, Poslednya Novosty (published in Paris), carried an interesting interview with a recent “arrival” from Moscow who stated that Molotov and Zhdanov did not expect the outbreak of war and refused to believe the war news when first reported. (Poslednya Novosty, September 22, 1939)

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