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Stalin Makes Party History to Order

Killing a ‘Dead Trotskyism’ For the 1,000th Time

(January 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 2 (Whole No. 98), 9 January 1932, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In recent weeks the world has been enriched by two “theoretical works” of Stalin. There are two articles of the “Master” published in the Russian party press, dealing with questions of party history. One of them, which has appeared in the foreign official Communist press, deals with Lenin’s attitude towards the pre-war Social Democratic Party of Germany and is a polemic against the article of Slutzky, a young Marxist historian. We have no room here to go into the material content of this polemic at the present moment, if only for the simple reason that we do not know the work of Slutzky. Here we call attention to two things. With unexcellable grossness and brutality, Stalin launches into poor Slutzky who dared, on the basis of documents, to consider possible an overestimation on Lenin’s part of the S.P.G. Centrists (Kautskyans). This thought of Slutzky’s is called by Stalin, who demagogically reduces the polemic to this question: Was Lenin a Bolshevik? Yes or no? Is there to be any doubt about Lenin’s Bolshevism? The Bolshevism of Lenin is an “axiom” for Stalin, a dogma, just as the sanctity of some Mary is a dogma for the church. There is nothing to doubt about this, nothing is to be looked into concerning it, nothing is to be discussed: it must simply be believed.

It is clear that such a way of putting a question, for people whose every second word is “dialectics”, is stupid and vulgar. Lenin was not a Bolshevik from his first days, while he still lay in his cradle. He developed himself in the course of all his revolutionary activity to the position of a Bolshevik, lie was not “infallible”, like Stalin and other priests and holy men, Cut made mistakes, acknowledged his mistakes openly in order to rectify them. It is curious that Stalin, wherever he speaks of the “infallibility”, of the absolute “dogmatic” Bolshevism of Lenin, adds in parentheses “(the Bolsheviks)”. This creates the appearance as though all the Bolsheviks were always at one with Lenin in all questions – we shall show below that this is wrong – and as though every Bolshevik just because he was a Bolshevik, because it lies in the very essence of Bolshevik was – a Lenin. And just as little as one may entertain doubts about Lenin’s Bolshevism or discuss the question, so is one prohibited to doubt the Bolshevism of the “only” Bolsheviks, the Stalinists, or even discuss it, least of all concerning the Bolshevism of Stalin – the Lenin on a higher level – who conceals his hollowness behind a canonized, “embalmed” Lenin. Out with it! this doubting! These hypocritical, mendacious, priestly, Jesuitical morals, which hit Marxism-Leninism in the face with a blackjack, are a phenomenon worthy of the degenerated Comintern, which every Communist will spurn.

“Scoundrelly”, “trivial”, “degenerated” in the words of Stalin, are both the article and its author, Slutzky, because the article is supposed to be “semi-Trotskyist” and its author a disciple of Trotsky. And with this we come to the reason why Stalin’s article was written. Surely not out of scientific eagerness to secure historical truth, “I believe that rotten liberalism, which at the present moment enjoys a certain vogue among a section of the Bolsheviks (the editorial board which also gets its share, together with Slutzky), has pushed them along this path Some Bolsheviks are of the opinion that Trotskyism is a faction of Communism, a mistaken one, it is true, committing no few blunders, even anti-Sovietist for that matter, but nevertheless a faction of Communism. Thence a certain liberalism towards the Trotskyists and those thinking like them.” There’s the nigger in the woodpile. “Trotskyism” is gaining an influence in Russia among the party members. Stalin is becoming frightened. He fears the “Trotskyist” truth. He is therefore giving the signal to the G.P.U. by articles and commands for a new reinforced annihilation campaign against the Left Opposition.

The second Stalin article is concerned with party history of the February revolution and the arrival of Lenin in Petrograd, and with Yaroslavsky. This period is exceptionally painful for Stalin himself and it is highly important that all the party comrades learn the “historical truth” about this affair.

Who would have believed it? And yet it is a fact! The Soviet journals accuse Yaroslavsky openly of having favored the smuggling of Trotsky’s conceptions on the history of the Bolshevik party at the beginning of the February revolution into the books on party history of which he is in charge.

As everybody knows now (after the revelations of comrade Trotsky) the Bolshevik party at the beginning of the February revolution (before the arrival of Lenin) conducted, under the leadership of Stalin and Kamenev, a policy of confidence in the provisional government and supported a bloc with Tseretelli in the Soviets. Arriving in Petrograd, Lenin wrote his “April theses” which gave the party a completely different orientation, an orientation towards the winning of the revolutionary masses with a view towards the assumption of power by armed insurrection. For Lenin it was a question of “forgetting the reminiscences of the past”, not to be bound by the old formula, outstripped by events, of the “democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants”, but to steer a course resolutely towards the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is what Trotsky called the re-armament of the party. This historical fact is undeniable and all the eye-witnesses of the February revolution, who left memoirs of the early moments of the revolution, establish the vulgar opportunism and social patriotism of the party under the leadership of Stalin-Kamenev. Of all these memoirs, those of Schlapnikov, who was in the leading center of the party from the very first days of the revolution in Petrograd, are the most convincing and authoritative. The memoirs of Schlapnikov constitute an invaluable document for any conscientious historian who wants to present a true picture of the role of the party in this period of February 27 up to April 3, 1917 (old style), that is, up to the arrival of Lenin in Petrograd.

That is just what the young Marxian historians, Slutzky and Volossevitch, did in their historical works. They based themselves upon the evidence of Schlapnikov and spoke of a “re-armament of the party” in April 1917. Another Marxian historian spoke of it right in the party history which appears under the exalted supervision of Yaroslavsky. This is where Yaroslavsky’s sins begin. How did he let it pass? Has he not succumbed ‘himself to Trotskyism? The whole Soviet press, from the Izvestia to the Krasnaia Gazetta is aroused by this scandal. Yaroslavsky is openly attacked and the demand is made that in the “next edition of the Party history, sections calumniating the party be expunged.” [1] Stalin himself published his article in the Bolshevik in which he “reconstructs” the historical truth after his own manner.

The all-powerful apparatus of Stalin fears nothing so much as the historical truth. That is why it will lightly obey any commands of the Master and “expunge” all onerous sections from the history. But like all other historical falsifications, this one too will not succeed in concealing the mistakes and the crimes of the “organizer of defeats”.

Note by ETOL

1. In the printed version this reads “expanded”, which doesn’t make sense in this context.

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