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Since Lenin Died

Max Eastman

Since Lenin Died

Appendix VIII:

Trotsky’s Letter of Resignation


The first point on the agenda of the coming session of the Central Committee is the question of the resolutions of local organisations concerning the “attack” of Trotsky. Since I cannot take part in the work of the session on account of my illness [1], I think that I will facilitate the examination of this question if I give you the following brief explanation:

1. I have considered and I consider it possible to bring into the discussion sufficiently weighty refutations, both in the way of principle and of facts, against the accusation that I pursue the goal of “revising Leninism,” and “belittling” (!) the role of Lenin. I have refrained, however, from responding, not only because I was sick, but also because, in the state of the present discussion, every utterance of mine on that theme, regardless of its character, tone, and content, would serve merely as a stimulus to deepen the polemic, transform it from a one-sided into a two-sided polemic, and give it a still more bitter character.

And at the present time, estimating the whole course of the discussion, and notwithstanding the fact that there have been advanced against me a multitude of false and actually monstrous accusations, I think that my silence has been right from the standpoint of the general interests of the party.

2. I can nowise accept, however, the accusation that I have pursued a special line (Trotskysm) and tried to revise Leninism. The opinion attributed to me, that not I came to Bolshevism, but Bolshevism to me, appears to me simply monstrous. In my introduction, Lessons of October, I say explicitly (p.62) that Bolshevism prepared itself for its role in the revolution by an implacable struggle, not only with populism and Menshevism, but with “conciliationism” – that is, with the tendency to which I belonged. It has never come into my head throughout these last eight years to consider any question from the standpoint of so-called “Trotskysm,” which I considered, and consider politically long ago liquidated. Whether I have been right or mistaken in this or that question coming before the party, I approached the decision of it from the standpoint of the general theoretical and practical experience of our party. Not once in all these years has anybody said to me that any idea or proposal of mine represented a special tendency of “Trotskysm.” This very word has swum out, to my complete surprise, only during the discussion about my book, 1917.

3. In this connection the question about the peasants has the greatest political significance. I decisively deny that the formula “Permanent Revolution,” which relates wholly to the past, has determined for me in any degree whatever an unattentive attitude to the peasants under the circumstances of the Soviet revolution. If I have chanced to revert to the formula “Permanent Revolution” in any particular instance since October it was only in the sphere of “Party History” – that is, a reversion to the past, and not in the sphere of present political problems. The effort to establish upon that question an irreconcilable disagreement between us has no justification, in my opinion, either in the eight years’ experiment of the revolution which we have carried out together, or in the tasks of the future.

Likewise I reject allusions and references to my alleged “pessimistic” attitude to the fate of our Socialist construction, in view of the decreased tempo of the revolution in the West. In spite of all the difficulties which arise from our capitalistic encirclement, the economic and political resources of the Soviet dictatorship are very great. I have more than once developed and established this fact, at the direction of the party, especially at international congresses, and I consider that this thought preserves its whole strength in the present period of historic development.

4. Upon the debated questions decided by the Thirteenth Congress of the party, I never appeared, either in the Central Committee or in the Soviet of Labour and Defence, much less outside the governing organs of the party and the Soviet institutions, with any proposals whatever which might either directly or indirectly raise issues which had once been decided. After the Thirteenth Congress there arose, or became more clearly defined, certain new problems of industrial, or Soviet, or international character. The solution of them has been a matter of exceptional difficulty. The idea was completely foreign to me to oppose any “platform” whatever to the work of the Central Committee of the party in the solution of these problems. To all those comrades who were present at the meetings of the Politburo, the Central Committee, the Soviet of Labour and Defence, or the Revolutionary Military Soviet, this assertion needs no proof. The debated questions decided by the Thirteenth Congress were raised again in this recent discussion, not only out of connection with my work, but, so far as I can judge at present, out of connection with the practicalproblems of party policy.

5. Inasmuch as the introduction to my book 1917 constitutes the formal motive of the last discussion, I consider it necessary first of all to deny the accusation that I printed my book as though behind the back of the Central Committee. As a matter of fact the book was printed (during my convalescence in the Caucasus) under exactly the same conditions as all other books of mine or of other members of the Central Committee, or members of the party in general. Naturally, it is the affair of the Central Committee to establish various forms of control over the party publications; but I in no direction, and in no degree, violated those forms of control which have been so far established, and I had, it goes without saying, no motive for such a violation.

6. The introduction, Lessons of October, represents a further development of thoughts expressed by me lately more than once, and especially in the past year. I will here name merely the following articles and speeches. [Follows a list of six speeches and articles.]

All the enumerated utterances, evoked by the defeat of the German revolution in the autumn of 1923, were printed in Pravda, Izvestia, and other publications. Not one member of the Central Committee, much less of the Politburo, once indicated to me the incorrectness of these works. Likewise, the editorial board of Pravda not only did not affix footnotes to my speeches, but not once made the slightest attempt to indicate to me that they did not agree with them in this or that point.

It stands to reason that I did not regard my analysis of October in connection with events in Germany as a “platform.” I never entertained the thought that this work might be understood by anybody whatever as a platform, which it was not, and could not be.

7. Inasmuch as certain others of my books have been dragged into the circle of accusation, and among them those which have gone through a series of editions, I consider it necessary to state that not only the Politburo as a whole never indicated to me that this or that article or book of mine might be interpreted as a “revision” of Leninism, but no single member of the Politburo ever did so. In particular, this relates to the book, 1905, which appeared during the life of Vladimir Ilych, went through a series of editions, was warmly recommended by the party Press, was translated by the Communist International into foreign languages, and now constitutes the chief material of the indictment against me for revising Leninism.

8. In setting forth these considerations, I pursue, as I have said already, a single purpose: to assist the session in deciding the question which stands as the first point in its agenda.

As far as concerns the statement often repeated in the course of the discussion, that I aim at some “special position” in the party, do not submit to discipline, decline this or that work assigned to me by the Central Committee, etc., etc., etc. – without permitting myself to evaluate those assertions, I will simply categorically announce: I am ready to fulfil any work whatever assigned to me by the Central Committee, in whatever position, or without any position, and, it goes without saying, under any conditions whatever of party control.

It is unnecessary to demonstrate that, after the recent discussion, the interests of the work demand that I be freed immediately from my duties as President of the Revolutionary Military Soviet.

In conclusion I think it is necessary to add that I remained in Moscow until the session in order, in case it was desired, to answer this or that question or give any necessary explanations.

January 15th, 1925



1. Trotsky has very rapidly recovered his health in the Caucasus. The present reports are excellent. – M.E. (March 1925).

Since Lenin Died

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