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A Reply to a C.P. Member

On Some Falsifications

(June 1947)

From Socialist Appeal, No. 45, Mid-June 1947, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Many rank and file members of the Communist Party are querying the official Stalinist slanders against Trotskyism. The following extracts from a letter, written by a member of the C.P., will be of interest to our readers. This comrade of the C.P. wrote that he is a “sympathiser of the R.C.P.... this does not imply that I agree completely with all points of the R.C.P.’s policy” He continues, “I herewith give some of the allegations made against the Trotskyists, with which, while I am not wholly convinced, and in fact, doubtful of their truth. I should like to learn your answer to the accusations. It is this: ‘Somewhat over a year ago (?) we drew your attention in this newsletter to the Trotskyists in the Carlton Club, now one sees Vatican Trotskyism at work. Trotskyism has provided a large part of the arsenal of every anti-Soviet campaign of the last twenty years, from that of Vidkun Quisling, following his expulsion from Russia in the late twenties, to that of Messrs. Hollis and Carter in 1947.’ (Russia Today Newsletter, 18th January, 1947).

It also states there is a link between Trotskyism and the firms of Burns, Osters and Washburn, and Eyre and Spottiswood. What is the truth about these hints of collaboration between the R.C.P. and (1) The Vatican, Roman Catholic Front; and (2) The Carlton Club? ...

I have recently read a borrowed book, The Revolution Betrayed and doubt very much the statement that the works of Lenin have been printed and published by the Soviet Union with excerpts and distortions by the Censor (page 52). Can you substantiate this allegation by L. Trotsky?”

* * *

5th June, 1947

Dear Comrade D.,

The Business Manager of the Socialist Appeal has handed your letter to me for a fuller answer to the various political questions you raise. I shall do my best to answer them sufficiently to satisfy you.

Regarding Trotsky’s statement on Page 52 of the Revolution Betrayed regarding the distortions of Lenin’s works: this is done in several ways; (a) by direct omission; (b) by the publication of many private letters about Trotsky, some of which Lenin afterwards admitted he had written on the basis of false information; (c) by annotations which give an entirely false view of the work and ideas in question.

Example 1. Lenin’s Testament, which is the last letter he wrote to the Bolshevik Party, has not been published to this day by the Stalinists. This letter has had a varied history – at some stages the Stalinists have denied its existence altogether, at others they admitted it existed but gave false quotations from it. Stalin quotes an excerpt from it in his book Leninism and also there is a quotation from it in International Press Correspondence, November 17th, 1927, Vol. 7 No. 64. On both occasions, Stalin misuses it. For instance, the Testament characterises Stalin as “rude and disloyal”. In Inpreccor Stalin “forgets” about “disloyal” and admits he is “rude”! But everyone knows that “disloyalty” was indeed a very sharp characterisation for Lenin to make.

It was in this letter that Lenin suggested to the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party that Stalin should be removed from the leadership of the Party. Just as this was suppressed, so also were a series of Lenin’s last letters, especially a polemical article directed against Stalin on the National Question.

Example 2. Almost every article that Lenin ever wrote in which he expressed solidarity with Trotsky, or showed unity with Trotsky, or faith in him as a collaborator, the Stalinists have suppressed. When you consider that Lenin and Trotsky drafted between them about 60% of all the documents of the Third International between the year of its foundation 1919 and 1922, you will get an idea of how many there are of such articles and letters. At the same time, every scrap of gossip and criticism which Lenin ever made of Trotsky, is collected and published, such as Lenin’s letters to Madame Kollontai, which Lenin later admitted he had written as a result of false information supplied to him by Kollontai.

Of course, Lenin and Trotsky had many differences and conducted many bitter polemical struggles against each other, especially before the revolution of 1917. But no two comrades who take their ideas seriously and who write on all aspects of the international workers’ struggle for socialism could possibly avoid conflict in ideas on a number of questions. Especially when the organisations are small, these polemics assume great importance, but as Lenin later pointed out they had all sinned a great deal by exaggeration in these polemical struggles, however, the revolution had found them closely united, and Trotsky more closely united with Lenin then even Zinoviev or Kamenev.

In 1907, Lenin said of Trotsky at the London Congress of the S.D.L.P.R.:

“A few words about Trotsky. There is no need here for me to dwell on our differences with him. Suffice to mention that Trotsky in his booklet, In Defence of the Party has publicly expressed his agreement with Kautsky, who wrote about the economic community of interests between the proletariat and the peasantry in the present revolution in Russia ...

These facts serve so far as I am concerned to recognise the closeness of Trotsky to our views.” (Minutes of the London Congress of the S.D.L.P.R., Paris 1909. p. 239)

On November 14th, 1917, at the session of the Petersburg Committee of S.D.L.P.R., Lenin said:

“I cannot even speak about this seriously (agreement with the Mensheviks and the S.R.’s). Trotsky has long ago said that unity is impossible. Trotsky has understood this, and since then there hasn’t been a better Bolshevik than he.” (Bulletin of the Russian Opposition, No. 7, 1929, pp. 33f.)

Again you know how the Stalinists tell the history of the civil war in Russia. Trotsky bungled and played a minor role is the theme, and Stalin was sent to one sector after another to get the Red Army out of the mess. Of course, Lenin’s correspondence with Trotsky during this period, one of the most intimate of their entire activity together, has never been published, although Trotsky was the Commissar for War and head of the Red Army, and Lenin was the head of the Russian state and of the Bolshevik Party. I could quote you extensively from this correspondence, but it should not be necessary. The very fact that the Stalinists have not published it is subject to question.

By omitting the favourable articles and letters, and publishing only the critical ones, the Stalinist editors have set themselves out to create the impression that Lenin and Trotsky were never in agreement, but on the contrary, always disagreed.

Example 3. All the annotations to Lenin’s collected works which were originally written when he was alive have been completely scrapped, and new “Stalinized” annotations written in by the new editors. Since these are in Russian and you will not be able to check this statement, I will give you an example of something you can check.

John Reed, as you probably know, wrote Ten Days That Shook The World at the time of the revolution. Lenin wrote a short introduction stating that it was the most truthful pen picture of the Russian Revolution, and he hoped it would be printed in millions of copies and in all languages. In this book Stalin is referred to only once – as a signatory to a document along with other commissars, in the appendix. Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin and other memorable names abound from page to page, and particularly is Trotsky’s role as leader of the October insurrection made clear.

After Lenin’s death, the Stalinists introduced a number of “annotations” stating that Reed was wrong here and misinformed there, etc., and giving a false interpretation of certain incidents. Needless to say, this book which could have sold at the rate of 2,000,000 copies during the war, has not been republished by the Stalinists for many years and they refuse to allow others to publish it since they have the copyright. When the News Chronicle wanted to serialise it in 1936, the Communist Party said yes, but on one condition: that all references to Trotsky be cut out! Needless to say, the News Chronicle refused this condition.

As to the slanderous statements that the Stalinists circulate about Trotskyists and the Carlton Club, the Vatican, etc., there is not the slightest truth in them. Quisling never was and never has had the slightest connection or remotest contact with Trotskyism. [1] This is merely a matter of slandering your opponents in the hope that some mud will stick. Indeed, the boot is on the other foot. When the Nazis occupied Norway and Quisling was installed, the only party of the workers that was allowed legal existence until 1941 when Russia was about to be attacked, was the Norwegian Communist Party! We did not have a united front with Churchill and Eden (both members of the Carlton Club) during the war; it was the Communist Party of Great Britain who did and who called us “Hitler’s agents” for refusing to do so.

It is not the Trotskyists, but the Italian and Polish Communist Parties who vote for the Roman Catholic Religion to be the state religion in Italy and Poland today.

Finally, the greatest frame-up in history: the Moscow Trials. I enclose a leaflet which no doubt you have heard about, challenging the Stalinist prosecutor at the Nuremburg Trials to produce any evidence to show the connections between Trotsky and the Nazis, which they claimed they had in documentary evidence in the Moscow Trials. Their failure to produced such evidence, was sufficient to expose Stalinism to every thinking worker.





1. Quisling, together with the C.P., conducted a campaign for Trotsky’s expulsion from Norway before the war.

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