A Critical Survey of Bolshevism

Chapter IX.

WHO is Stalin?" After the 1925 Congress everyone was asking himself this question which Skliansky had put to Trotsky earlier in the year. "The most eminent mediocrity in our party," Trotsky replied, although in earlier days he had described Stalin to Max Eastman as "a brave man and a sincere revolutionary." These descriptions are not entirely contradictory, since revolutionary sincerity, physical courage and intellectual mediocrity may all go together. In fact the description adequately fits the average Bolshevik under Lenin, but the change in Trotsky's tone, after an interval of less than a year, was unmistakable.

Trotsky, therefore, took a long time to form the more unfavourable opinion which later he was to express in so many ways in his writings. No one knew what the General Secretary was capable of; and Stalin himself, before he had so easily got the better of his clumsy and impatient rivals, probably had no idea of the prospects that would one day be open to him. As usually happens in such cases, his horizon broadened as his responsibilities increased. The heads of the Party looked on him above all as an "organiser," a vague expression which later became more precise as the astonishing results of his particular talents made themselves felt. Those who were close to him knew that his chief superiority over his over-eloquent colleagues was his precious gift of dumbness, a natural tendency not to waste words, in addition to the gifts of order, punctuality, devotion to the Party and capacity for hard work, which Lenin had admired. But these gifts do not explain his final domination. Although, in his fraction, Dzerzhinsky was morally and Bukharin culturally his superior, no one was his equal in shrewdness, manoeuvring, administrative ability or in the continuity of his drive towards power. Yet at that time no one saw him as a future figure in history nor as the typical representative of a growing social class.

Trotsky explains his unfavourable opinion by saying: "The victorious counter-revolution may have its great men. But its first stage, Thermidor, has need of mediocrities who cannot see beyond the end of their noses." According to this view, expressed after long reflection, a Thermidorian reaction had already begun in Russia, of which Stalin was the unconscious instrument. "For the first time I attacked squarely, one might almost say, with physical conviction, the problem of Thermidor," Trotsky goes on, forgetting his own thesis of 1921 on the N.E.P. as a Thermidor accomplished in good time, and within the necessary limits, by the Jacobins of the proletariat. The incident of Zalutsky shows that he was not alone in reasoning thus. Although this shabby accuser rapidly retracted, the accusation of "Thermidorianism" gained ground. Thus, on this point, Trotsky and his worst enemies thought alike; and soon the latter in their turn were borrowing his arguments in favour of planned production, industrialisation, and the democracy of the Party.

Nevertheless, Trotsky still hesitated to declare himself between the two fractions at odds with one another. In 1925 he was made President of the Committee of Concessions and director of technico-scientific services. After a diplomatic holiday in the Caucasus, he took up his new duties with "that praiseworthy ambition which urges a man to excel at whatever he puts his hand to," as Washington said, and abstained from becoming involved in the quarrels of the triumvirate. Both in speeches and writings he urged the necessity of improving the quality of industrial products, and also studied projects for electrification, preparing notes on the great Dnieprostroy scheme. Feeling that it was politic to make a show of official optimism, he published a series of articles: "Towards Socialism or Capitalism?" in which he refuted those socialist theoreticians who saw in the economic restoration of Russia a retreat from the revolution. In these he quoted, with child-like confidence, the doubtful statistics of the Gosplan, from which was to come "the magnificent music of developing socialism." Collective economy was gaining the ascendency over private initiative, according to the "statistics," and he endeavoured to show that the rate of progress forecast must lead to its success. He took no account of the uneconomic means of coercion used by the State to repress capitalist tendencies and to secure an artificial control. As regards external events, he considered the social revolution in Europe in the near future as the most likely hypothesis.

But Stalin was in no way grateful to him for this attitude. He put increasing difficulties in his way, rendered his work impossible and persecuted his collaborators. Trotsky gave further proof of submission by disavowing those rare foreign communists who defended him. He even went so far as to condemn Max Eastman, whose book, Since Lenin Died, exposed all the facts of the crisis in the Bolshevik Party as far as was possible with the documents and information then available. He even denied the existence and the suppression of Lenin's Testament, by quibbling with words. Krupskaya followed his example. For the sake of the good of the Party, which perhaps they misunderstood, and which they certainly interpreted very narrowly, and confused with reasons of state, Bolsheviks of all colours put their solidarity as a caste above the truth and laughed at all honesty as a limited prejudice. Trotsky himself hoped to buy a political truce by sacrificing the comrades who had been his allies in ideas and in the struggle. Vainly, for by so doing he encouraged Stalin and discouraged the Opposition. At this point the conflicts of the integral Leninists provided the respite he needed; Trotskyism was no longer a burning question, but was discussed only in an academic manner. Stalin and Zinoviev, in their controversy over socialism in one country, quoted their old adversary without passion. Kamenev charged him with excessive optimism, which was almost equivalent to a compliment, and took on himself the reproaches of pessimism which were once reserved for the metaphysician of the "permanent revolution."

At the Fourteenth Congress Trotsky remained silent. He hesitated to take sides, although tempted to give the demagogues of the new Opposition who dared to talk of democracy a piece of his mind. His ex-lieutenant, Antonov-Ovseenko wrote to him, "I know that you were ready to intervene at the Congress against Zinoviev-Kamenev. I bitterly regret and deplore that the impatience and blindness of the comrades in our fraction should have caused you, against your own judgment, to abandon this intervention which was already decided upon." The rank and file militants in the two opposition groups, all equally ill-used, tended to fraternise and wished to bring their leaders together. After the Congress, Trotsky was obliged, at the Central Committee, to disapprove on principle of any repression against those who were defeated. Both sides then made advances to him and a more hopeful prospect began to open out for him.

Despite their common lot and the desire of their partisans to come together, an alliance between the old Opposition and the new appeared, in 1926, to be impossible. Trotsky was supposed to represent the Left of the Party, while Zinoviev, Kamenev, Sokolnikov and others were the Right incarnate. According to his own theory, the two currents reflected irreconcilable class antagonism, proletarian and bourgeois. At a pinch, the Left: might support a centre bloc, of which Stalin was the typical expression, against the danger from the Right, but a coalition of the two wings would mean that both were compromised. It was no accident that Zinoviev and Kamenev should have "flinched" in October, and quite recently demanded Trotsky's exclusion, or that Sokolnikov should be the most hostile to the economic and industrial plans of the Left. If the new Opposition rallied itself around the limited democratic programme of the old, it was by an egotistic instinct of self-preservation. But Zinoviev could not do otherwise than confirm Trotsky's point of view on the utopianism of establishing socialism in Russia alone. Next Kamenev was found defending the ideas of the Left on planning and industry; his views on the disquieting progress made by peasant capitalism agreed with those of economists of similar tendencies. Ideas also coincided on Thermidor, but this was as yet unadmitted. All this caused great distress of mind among the leaders of the minorities and in the ranks, in which there was a strong conviction of the necessity for unity of all the oppositions without distinction of origin.

While the adversaries of the dominant fraction were getting together, Stalin was not losing any time. Control Commissions and "packed" local Committees executed his orders with precision. The cadres of the Party, the trade unions and the State were purged by police measures. In Leningrad and elsewhere, thousands of Oppositionists were dismissed from their places and rendered destitute. In the Communist International and its sections a similar fate overtook the misguided followers of the ex-President. Everywhere places were open for those who were willing to stake their fortune on the new master. This gave food for thought to any who might have been recalcitrant. Zinoviev and Kamenev were faced with the loss of all their posts of influence, being left only with titles which the stranglehold of the machine rendered valueless. The rest of the old guard were to be still more roughly handled. Stalin's creatures and minions waited for the spoils, taking possession of all offices and prospects of advancement. The bureaucratic rampart grew and strengthened around the Secretary of the secretaries.

Stalin managed with caution the changes necessary for his slow and prudent advance towards absolute power. He disarmed his critics in the Party, but made use of some of the more capable of them in subordinate positions where they were allowed to find refuge. By this means he disguised to some extent the inadequacy of those who had recently been promoted and also gave prominent members of the minority a chance to amend their attitude at leisure, to make their choice between their costly convictions and their immediate personal interest. The embassies and commercial missions swarmed with Oppositionists, rendered impotent by their isolation from one another and the necessity of making a show of orthodoxy before foreigners. Many were also to be found in the Departments of Economics and of scientific research, where ex-Mensheviks were also employed, and among specialists of all categories. Most hard hit were the rank and file working-class supporters, who had great difficulty in finding work. Together with the dismissed functionaries, these unemployed maintained an undertone of discontent, which those leaders who were not reconciled to retreat and were looking for a way out were glad to claim as the first symptoms of a "turn." The new Opposition, less adept at the theoretical researches beloved of the old, built up a clandestine organisation according to the standard pattern and lulled itself with hopes of working for revenge. In other directions, the good offices of mutual friends and of reconciled enemies gradually softened the more marked discordances between the various dissatisfied groups. At a session of the Central Committee in April 1926, the only two minorities represented both submitted similar amendments and made parallel reservations, and on the following day a pact was concluded: the impossible was achieved under the banner of "the Opposition bloc." Zinoviev and his partners rendered homage to the clairvoyance of the Left whose political and economic programme they adopted. Trotsky retracted his severe condemnation of the October defaulters. "A reciprocal amnesty," commented Stalin.

Into this "unprincipled bloc," as the reigning oligarchy at once named it, Zinoviev by ingenious arguments succeeded in luring the remnants of the Workers' Opposition which had been hostile to Trotsky. The Georgian communists, whom Stalin had turned out, also joined. The classic plank of democratic centralism was already part of the programme of the section of the Left known as Trotskyist, and all the other already defeated sections now came to add their weakness to the common fund. Since the leaders were now agreed, most of their partisans followed, although disliking the idea of victory under the banner of Trotsky. The divergent opinions which still existed were felt to be of less importance than the essential points of the common programme: industrialisation of the country and democratisation of the Party. In reality, the main object was to attack the monopoly of power, not in order to abolish it, but in order to turn out those who held it and divide it among themselves.

Already Trotsky had more or less handed Stalin the dictatorship by his lack of foresight, his tactic of patient waiting broken by sudden and inconsequent reactions, and his mistaken calculations, yet up to that time all was not entirely lost, the last word had not been said. But with the formation of the "bloc," Trotsky achieved his final ruin as a political leader, by this association with men devoid of character or credit who had nothing concrete to offer to offset the disrepute they brought with them. Whatever he may say after the event, he did not understand the nature of the evolution of Bolshevism nor the root of the problem which had to be solved. His most brilliant gifts were a handicap in a struggle in which Stalin's minor talents were lust what was needed. He imagined that he had gained the adherence of the "Leningrad workers" whom Zinoviev had deceived and could not now undeceive. In reality he introduced the germs of panic and decomposition into the "bloc." He had the illusion of gaining, if not a majority of the Party, at least a sufficient section to make Stalin pause, but he had forgotten that the genuine Party no longer existed. (He had himself written many times, "The Party will cease to be a party.") He hoped to dispose of the legend of Trotskyism by allying himself with the originators of this falsehood; but what he did in reality was to range himself with the Leninism of the epigones, whose degeneracy he himself had pointed out. By contradictions and complications which the masses could not follow, he threw away all chance of getting a genuine following, or of dissociating himself from the opposing fraction. The working class, whose highest hopes he bragged of representing, was by now so profoundly disappointed by the course of the revolution that it had no longer any faith in any section of a Party whose promises had proved to be such lies. For years had gone by, already the tenth anniversary of October was drawing near, yet the conditions of the masses were getting steadily worse.


THE Standard of life in the industrial centres in 1926, taking all salaries into consideration, was definitely lower than under the old regime. The averages, which the statistics recorded with fussy precision, were arrived at by totally unscientific-subterfuges, but odd fragments of information demonstrated the fallaciousness of the official figures. All those with inside knowledge are aware how much store Stalin sets by statistics and how he causes them to be falsified at need. In any case, only a very small portion of the proletariat received as much as or more than the "average" wage, and a comparison with 1914 indicates a state of misery. As Riazanov truly said on this point, "There are certain categories of workers who have a wage 110 per cent higher than before the War, but in fact they live 100 per cent below the level of a human existence."

That was not all: various illegal reductions in wages under the form of deductions for obligatory contributions and forced subscriptions, long delays in payment, sometimes even of several months, which meant a corresponding depreciation in value, the shameful and crying inequality at the factory between specialised and unskilled workers and between men and women doing the same work, an inequality greater than in any capitalist country, the disregard of the laws and decrees in relation to protection, safety and assistance of the workers, the shameful exploitation of women and children, general disregard of the eight-hour day and the constant violation of the collective contracts by the State as employer, these were the real facts of the situation as stated in the documents of the Soviet, side by side with hollow propaganda phrases. The Central Committee recognised that the housing shortage was a "catastrophic state of affairs"; the average space occupied per worker in Moscow was less than three square metres. The press described in horrible detail the worm-eaten and insanitary barracks where each inhabitant occupied "the dimensions of a coffin."

And these were the privileged wage-earners. The lot of the disinherited was even worse. From a mass of incoherent figures given by various organisations, which admitted to more than a million unemployed, for the most part without any relief, it is possible to arrive at the truth by multiplying four or five times the number disclosed. Kalinin calculated that the unemployed agricultural labourers amounted to 15 million; the Assistant-Commissar of Works later admitted to 25 million. The population was increasing by 3 million a year and unemployment and misery were in proportion.

Homeless children were another directly connected phenomenon, which the People's Commissars described as "our greatest evil" and Semashko as "a living reproach to our conscience." Official figures admitted to 7, 8 and 9 millions of abandoned children, living by begging, stealing, prostitution and crime. "The roots of this evil are not only in the past but in the present" noted Krupskaya, distressed to find that the trouble was "three-quarters due, not to the misery and carelessness of the old days, but to conditions to-day, to unemployment and to the extreme poverty of the peasants." Anyone outside the Bolshevik aristocracy who had used similar language would soon have lost the last remnants of his liberty.

Dzerzhinsky, one of the few people in responsible positions who preferred plain speaking to the satisfaction of commanding a lot of terrified functionaries, explained the under-consumption to which the Soviet population was condemned by the shortage of manufactured goods and the consequent increase in agricultural prices: all the basic industries (coal, steel, etc.) had decreased since 1914, productivity of labour was less in spite of payment by piece work, costs of manufacture were up and imports were stopped. Consumption had fallen on an average by more than half, per head of the population, by two-thirds for certain basic necessities. Nevertheless, the Government announced that in the tenth year of the revolution, production was equal to before the War. "In Russia, the classic country of lies and charlatanism, figures have a purely relative value and lend themselves with remarkable elasticity to all sorts of metamorphoses," says F. Lacroix in his book Mysteries of Russia from which we have already quoted.

The unified Opposition could not shut its eyes to the uncomfortable picture of the "total costs" of the revolution. Stimulated by those elements which were closest to the working class, companions of Sapronov or Shliapnikov, and filled with a natural desire for popularity, they put the elementary demands of the workers in the forefront of their programme. But they put forward nothing which the majority could not accept and the solution was no nearer since they had no means of realising it. Fearful of incurring the reproach of Menshevism or pessimism, they dared not broach the question of bringing the N.E.P. to an end, which Lenin had hinted at, nor face up squarely to the need for reform of the system of government. Their economic policy, which was still vague, did nothing to alter the "general line." It did not lay down any practicable and rapid scheme for overcoming the deficit on industry and transport, replacing outworn equipment, reducing the net costs, stopping speculation by middlemen and stabilising the collapsing chervonetz. Owing to this, all their plans for raising real wages and their respect for the eight-hour day were no more than the abstract solicitude of Bolsheviks for the proletariat, since all these identical plans had existed on paper for ten years. Their abuse of the bureaucracy was no more forceful than that of some of the actual leaders. Dzerzhinsky at the Central Committee declared: "When I look at our apparatus, at our system of organisation, our incredible bureaucracy and our utter disorder combined with every conceivable sort of red-tape, I am literally horrified." Bukharin, speaking at a Communist Youth Congress, recognised the danger of a "hardening of caste distinctions" and admitted the "incontestable degeneration" due to the "complete immunity" of Communist Party members. The Opposition did not, therefore, have a monopoly of platonic reformist criticism nor of ineffective goodwill. On the question of democracy, Sokolnikov caused a scandal by suggesting that other parties should be allowed. Ossinsky alone agreed with this, thinking that if the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries were legalised, then all communists would be obliged to unite against the common enemy.

The two fractions were more completely divided on the question of planned economy. The traditional Left attributed all misfortunes to the fact that industry lagged behind agriculture, and offered as a cure the speeding up of industry as part of the complete economic plan, in order to weld together the town and country and to equalise the supply and demand of goods. In opposition to this "industrial deviation" the majority alleged the lack of funds which the State had at its disposal. Stalin had predicted at a recent Congress: "Since, however, there is a great lack of capital in this country, we have good reason to expect that in the future the growth of our industry will not proceed so rapidly as it has in the past." The passage in his report in which he makes this remarkable prediction also replies to the proposals of the Left which he purposely exaggerated:

We might devote double the present sum to the development of industry. But this would bring about an unduly rapid tempo in the development of industry, so that, owing to the lack of a sufficiency of free capital, we should not be able to keep step with that development, and there would certainly be a fiasco—to say nothing of the fact that if we were to spend so much upon industry, there would be nothing left over for agricultural credits.

We might increase our imports twofold, especially the Import of machinery, in order to hasten the growth of industry; but this, by making our imports greatly exceed our exports, would lead to an unfavourable balance of trade, and would disturb our exchange. This would mean an undermining of the foundation on which alone a carefully planned guidance and development of manufacturing industry is possible.

We might greatly increase exports, without paying heed to any other of the main constituents of our economic life. We might do this regardless of the condition of the home market. The consequences of such a policy would inevitably be to produce great complications in the towns, owing to an enormous increase in the price of agricultural produce, this meaning a decline in real wages and a sort of artificially organised famine with all its disastrous consequences.

The "industrialists" considered it unnecessary to set aside further credits for agriculture; in fact, they hoped to get from the countryside funds to subsidise industry. In his studies for the Communist Academy and in his much-discussed work The New Economy, Preobrazhensky attempted to demonstrate this theoretically. According to his thesis, the stage of primitive capitalist accumulation such as Marx analyses in Capital, must inevitably be gone through by all socialist societies without colonies, in order to set up an "accumulated fund" at the expense of the peasant producer. In 1925, Kamenev's unexpected views on the prosperity of the kulaks gave unforeseen confirmation to the economic algebra of the Left, since, failing any financial co-operation from abroad, it disclosed a valuable source of revenues and subsidies in the interior. The "bloc" wavered between different methods of laying hands on the capital of the peasants and merchants: forced loans, re-assessment of taxation, readjustment of prices. Thus were the kulak and the N.E.P. man to become sleeping partners in State industry in spite of themselves.

In April 1926, the Central Committee, following the Leninist principle of appropriating ideas from the Opposition in order to render them unworkable, had admitted that industrialisation was "the principal task" and that "a disciplined plan" was the only way out of the disorder. Rykov, in his official report on the economic situation and the budget, attributed the scarcity of goods and the agricultural stagnation from which the Soviet Union was suffering to the backwardness of industry. But during the debate Stalin poured ridicule on the idea of vast plans quite disproportionate to the resources of Russia, and in particular on the project of an immense power station on the Dnieper, which he compared to the purchase of a costly and useless gramophone by a mujik whose cart was in need of repair. Later, in summing-up at Leningrad, he made frequent allusions to the "industrial deviation," but in an impersonal manner, since the evasions and shiftings of the Opposition still left him somewhat in the dark. While reiterating "the slogan of industrialisation proclaimed at the Fourteenth Congress" and declaring that "our country has entered upon a new period of the N.E.P., a period of bold industrialisation," he polemicises thus: "It is impossible to develop industry in the void, if there are no raw materials in the country, if there is no food for the workers, if there is no agriculture, however undeveloped, since this is the prime market for industry." Even more than in America, according to him, industry must depend on the internal market, and particularly on the peasant market. Exports must be developed but not by depriving the population, "since the workers and peasants wish to feed themselves like men." No exaggerations of the Dnieprostroy type. "We are too fond of building fantastic plans for industry without reckoning up our resources. People seem to forget that it is impossible to make plans, or to embark on any enterprise, more or less grandiose, without a certain minimum of resources and a certain minimum of reserves." Finally, Stalin, with obvious implications, rebuked "those persons who look on the mass of labouring peasants as a foreign body, an object to be exploited for the benefit of industry, a sort of colony." As against the industrialist Left, Stalin set himself up as the defender of the peasants.

In 1923 Trotsky had objected to any additional taxation of the farmers in order that "the peasant might become richer"—an incontestable precedent for Bukharin's "Enrich yourselves!" "We are fond of describing any peasant who has enough to eat as a kulak," said Zinoviev in 1924. In 1925 Trotsky still spoke of enlarging "the scale of profits of the capitalist-merchants in agriculture," of strengthening "the capitalist economy of the farmer." But in the same year Kamenev suddenly discovered the kulak danger and reproached the Central Committee with underestimating it. In 1926 the "bloc" was insisting that the better-off peasants had considerable reserves: it was there that the State should look for the resources necessary to develop industry and so come to the rescue of the proletariat. This volte-face had two good harvests in a ruined country as its only justification.

On July to, 1926, Dzerzhinsky replied to the full Assembly of the Central Committee: "The mujiks have hoarded up 400 million roubles, perhaps 4 each...." The disconnected and passionate speech which contained this pertinent remark, as well as the few lines quoted on bureaucracy, was his last political act. The founder of the Cheka died after leaving the tribune from which he had violently apostrophised his opponents Kamenev and Pyatakov and threatened the Opposition with "fresh gunpowder" in the autumn. Although this threat was omitted from the printed text, it made a great impression on the audience. The atmosphere of tension and nervousness throughout this session of the "Bolshevik Parliament" was intense, not so much owing to the economic questions under debate as to the particular political circumstances at that time. Dzerzhinsky's death, following immediately on his menacing words, which the press did not reproduce, brought to a head the emotions born of other events. The Opposition "bloc" openly declared itself, "seriously and for a long time to come," as Zinoviev said, and the struggle for power entered on a new phase.


AS SOON as he learned of the result of the negotiations between his adversaries, Stalin set himself to break up the alliance. He attempted first to discredit Zinoviev and Kamenev by printing the unpublished letter of Lenin, in which he stigmatised the "deserters" of October. This letter had been suppressed in the Complete Works, but had already been circulated illegally in the Party by the Trotskyists. The two friends replied by demanding the publication of the Testament, which they had themselves helped to suppress, and the existence of which Trotsky and Krupskaya had only recently been forced to deny. This Stalin refused, at the same time redoubling police precautions for the suppression of clandestine factional activity; the increase in secret meetings, the passing of prohibited documents from, hand to hand, and the alarming increase in spontaneous strikes, might give the Left their opportunity. Zinoviev's followers actually held a conspiratorial meeting in a wood at which Lashevich, the Assistant-Commissar for War, spoke; the inevitable spy having reported this to Stalin, he seized the pretext to strike his blow. For this he made use of a private letter seized at Baku, two years earlier, written by Medvediev, an old member of the Workers' Opposition which was now part of the "bloc." Stalin always utilised to the utmost any weapon that came into his hands. He hoped now by attacking the subordinates to strike at the leaders, perhaps to overcome them.

Pravda opened a campaign against a new "danger from the Right," with the idea of compromising the Left. The confiscated letter, mangled and falsified, formed the basis for this. Medvediev had, in a private letter, dared to envisage the desirability of a broad policy of concessions, in imitation of Krassin, just as Lenin before him had envisaged an extension of the N.E.P. This was sufficient to bring down on him the accusation of being "100 per cent Menshevik." He had written in confidence what many, even among those close to Stalin, were saying under their breath, that the Communist sections in different countries were artificial growths and the so-called representatives of the international revolution in Moscow were "lackeys" supported by "Russian gold." This condemned him as a blasphemer End a liquidator. Medvediev and his comrades had no means of clearing themselves publicly. Neither had Lashevich and the others. The Politbureau alone controlled all newspapers, pamphlets and meetings. Agents of the Secretariat began to spread the suggestion that the Opposition had not only set itself up against the Party but also against the State. Voices clamoured for violent measures, expulsions. Stalin likes to set going exaggerated demands in order that he may appear in the role of mediator, proposing a compromise, which can then easily be put over.

When the July session opened, in an atmosphere heavy with alarming rumours, in which the word "Thermidor" continually recurred, nothing remained but to ratify the measures which Stalin and his friends had already discussed. The Control Commission had prepared all their weapons for intimidating the new Opposition, which was not expected to show fight. Stalin had boasted privately of "bringing Zinoviev and Kamenev to their knees." But these two declared their solidarity with the other militants convicted of "fractionalism" and "defeatism." They declared their allegiance to the theses of the Left which they had recently violently abused for imaginary "Trotskyism." Later, they worked themselves into a state of indignation over the permanent state of siege then existing in the Party, but it did not occur to them to demand the restitution of consitutional [sic] liberty for everyone else in the State at the same time. Their opponents reminded them in vain of their own violent attacks on Trotsky, their demands for his expulsion, even his imprisonment, with quotations from their own articles and oratorical diatribes. They replied by lifting the veil from the machinations of the "anti-Trotskyists," in which they themselves had played a large part, the activities of the semiorka, and the rest. Zinoviev admitted that he had made a worse mistake in 1923 than in 1917. "Yes, on the question of bureaucratic repression, Trotsky was right, and I was wrong." He demanded the reading of the famous Testament, which everyone spoke of by hearsay and yet which was not supposed to exist. Stalin felt impelled to make known Lenin's secret letters on the national question and on the State plan; for the curiosity aroused relaxed momentarily the discipline of the fraction without breaking it. Trotsky alone benefited by this glimpse into the past, but the audience remained unshaken. The minority had eighteen votes at the beginning of the session and eighteen at the end. Of these, five, among whom were Smilga, Rakovsky, and Ossinsky, constituted a "buffer-group," intended to deaden shocks, a tactical ruse which had no effect; Stalin always sees through these little games, although his enemies rarely see through his.

A fresh quarrel broke out over international policy. The Opposition criticised Stalin for sending an untimely ultimatum to China about the Manchurian railway, a move which might have led to armed conflict, without consulting the Politbureau. They held him responsible for the action of the Polish Communist Party in supporting Pilsudski in his military coup d'état. They challenged him on the sterility of the collaboration between the Russian and British trade unions, and on Tomsky's role in the British General Strike. He was blamed for all this because no internal or external action was ever taken in the name of "Moscow," except with Stalin's initiative and consent.

The last question raised let loose an interminable polemic in which the "Anglo-Russian Committee" figured largely and helped to confuse an already complex question still further. In 1925 Trotsky had written a book on the future of England in which he predicted the imminence of a revolution in that country and the final victory of communism. The Politbureau, which had to conduct simultaneously both the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, which was necessarily opportunist, and the Communist International, which was, by definition, revolutionary, had embarked on a queer diplomatic adventure with the General Council of the Trade Union Congress using the bureaucratic Russian trade unions as intermediaries. An Anglo-Russian Committee, drawn from high officials of both organisations, was set up to secure mutual understanding and co-operation, based on highly ambiguous principles from which both parties hoped to further their own ends. The English hoped that by affecting sympathy for communism they would increase the commercial relations between the two countries, thus benefiting both their own capitalists and the unemployed, while the Russians, by professing an insincere devotion to trade unionism, hoped to make use of the trade unions for their own ends. When the General Strike began in 1926, Trotsky felt that his prophecies were about to be confirmed, and that its sudden collapse could only be due to the treason of the leaders; from this he concluded that the Angle-Russian Committee must be dissolved and the "traitors" unmasked. Neither his friends, Rakovsky and Radek, nor his new ally Zinoviev, shared this simple-minded view. Tomsky, head of the Russian trade unions, had endorsed the decision to end the strike, and Stalin's fraction felt that the Committee could still be put to further use.

The Opposition, which was brought round to Trotsky's point of view, made yet one more mistake in attempting to use the "English question" as a stick to beat Stalin, since it was a question in which the distressed Russian masses had no direct interest. They wasted time on it at the Central Committee and wore themselves out making speeches behind closed doors which the press would never publish. They bared the flank of the Opposition to reprisals without any tactical necessity for so doing, and thus allowed themselves to be forced out of their last remaining Government positions without being able either to defend or demonstratively to retire from them. The result was that the majority, instead of being split, were driven closer together.

The balance-sheet of the July encounter was strongly in Stalin's favour. Little he cared about the magnificent doctrinal theses of his critics, or the brilliance of their literature. His policy was based on more immediate human realities. Lashevich, caught out in flagrant insubordination, had been relieved of his military posts, excluded from the Central Committee and allotted a post of secondary importance in Siberia; Zinoviev, suspected of connivance, had been eliminated from the Politbureau, where Rudzutak took his place; Kamenev had been forced to resign from the Moscow Soviet and dismissed from the Commissariat of Commerce, which was taken over by Mikoyan; Kuibyshev had been chosen as Dzerzhinsky's successor on the Economic Council; Ordjonikidze, Mikoyan, Kirov, Andreyev, and Kaganovich had been chosen as alternates for the Politbureau—these were the "organisational conclusions" announced by Stalin and ratified with mechanical precision by the Central Committee. Against these minutely worked-out arrangements, the finest thesis in the world was not worth the snap of a finger.

Following on the thinning-out at the top, came a purge of the lower ranks; thousands were recalled, particularly in Leningrad, which still swarmed with refractory persons, despite the apparent unanimity on the surface; the usual method being an "administrative change" to that part of the country where the thermometer falls to below forty-five degrees in winter. "We have triumphed but not convinced," admitted Kalinin on his return from a punitive expedition to Leningrad. For example, Ossovsky, someone quite unknown, was expelled from the Party with a terrific outcry; let those who would not take this warning beware! With a remarkable unanimity of thought and expression, all the telegrams received from the provinces expressed their "entire and complete approval" of the severity of the Central Committee, even demanding that it be increased. By a curious bureaucratic irony, "Zinovievsk" called for greater severity against Zinoviev. The machine was so perfected as to obtain similar telegraphic resolutions from Berlin, New York, Paris, London, Prague and Stockholm, where emissaries of the Secretariat had fulfilled their task as prompters to the "bolshevised" sections of the Communist International.

By increasing the number of alternates in the Politbureau, Stalin was strongly defending his rear, since the newly promoted members, owing their improvised careers to him, would certainly support him if necessary against the titular members who might desert him. Ordjonikidze had always been a crony of his, Mikoyan was another of his Caucasian followers, Kirov, who had fallen heir to Zinoviev's position in Leningrad, had never expected to climb so high, Andreyev and Kaganovich both had a temporary "Trotskyist" aberration to do penance for, and Stalin is enough of a psychologist to know that deserters make the humblest followers. After all that had happened since Lenin's death, there were plenty of mediocrities who coveted a seat on the Central Committee or the Control Commission, plenty of third-rate officials who aspired towards the Politbureau. The expert use which Stalin made of these ambitions was devastating for his antagonists, who were all infected with intellectual superiority.

But he was not content merely to manipulate men. He was haunted by the Leninist tradition which urged him also to meddle with ideas. In any case, men and ideas appear to him inseparable and he can only understand the latter through the former. At the Executive of the International, where Zinoviev, the so-called President, no longer had the right to open his mouth, Stalin attacked the "deviations of the Right and the extreme Left," by which he meant anyone who opposed any of the dogmatic commonplaces of the majority; he accused one opponent who attempted to carry on an "ideological struggle" without "discrediting the leaders of the Opposition," of having the "morals of a vicar." He repeated his well-known assertion: "I say that such a struggle cannot exist in nature. I say that whoever agrees to the struggle on condition that the leaders are not attacked, is denying the possibility of any ideological struggle within the Party." At least his opponents were duly warned, but instead of acting on the warnings they stuck to their profitless abstractions.

While implacably abusing other people in order to discredit their ideas and limit their influence, Stalin was careful to put himself in a good light in order to strengthen his policy. But he took care always to say the opposite of what he did, and to do the opposite of what he said. In making the partly autobiographical speech at Tiflis, from which we have already quoted, he snubbed the flatterers who described him as the "hero of October," "leader of the International," etc. "This is all nonsense, comrades, nothing but foolish exaggeration." At the same time he wasted no opportunity of commercial self-advertisement in order to acquire that notoriety which neither his actions nor his work had yet brought him. All the illustrated papers were ordered to reproduce his portrait, which still did not become popular, and the walls of all offices were adorned with a photograph, of which innumerable copies were printed, in which he figured at Lenin's side ... before the rupture, of which everyone was ignorant (at the Gosizdat, already several times purged, flourished a "Stalinist" functionary, as his followers were now beginning to be called). He wished to give his name to other towns as well as Stalingrad; Iuzovka became Stalino, and Iuzovka Stalin. One day there were to be Stalinabad, Stalinsk and even Stalin-Aoul, in the Caucasus. Many servile functionaries thought to do themselves good by christening streets, establishments and enterprises in this way; Stalin never disavowed them since they furthered his own wishes. Bureaucratic conformism began to consist more and more in a hypocritical admiration, demonstrated by external signs, of the arid personality of the General Secretary.

The same brutal contrast between theory and practice was shown when Stalin, in his April report in Leningrad, exhorted his hearers to democracy. They knew how much of that to believe. He blamed the conduct of the "police brigade" established under Zinoviev, while making use himself of the same methods, doubled and tripled, throughout the whole of Russia. "The Party ought to embark resolutely on the path of internal democracy," he declared without a smile to his subordinates, not one of whom had been elected or was controlled from below, and who had his mandate to efface all vestiges of liberty and crush out any slight desire for independence. "The method of persuasion is our principal method of work," but he was speaking to a circle where it was already customary, on the pretext of discipline, to suppress the slightest conscientious objection or the least individuality of ideas as an attack on morality or the crime of lèse-révolution.

The would-be objective historian of the future, who refers only to the official documents will have difficulty in separating truth from falsehood in Stalin's written and spoken discourses. He is not the first statesman who has made use of the spoken and written word sometimes to conceal his intentions, sometimes to cover up the deficiencies in his knowledge. But the material and spiritual conditions of Russia and the resources of modern technique for propaganda and intimidation have enabled him to achieve heights in this direction which were quite unknown before the Soviet "experiment." The same applies to his henchmen. The more the monopoly of the Party developed into the omnipotence of the Secretariat, the more often one heard autocrats praising democracy, bureaucrats denouncing bureaucracy, wasters preaching economy, ignoramuses extolling science, and everywhere a complete contradiction between the real and the ideal.

After the lively altercation in July, Stalin sought to deprive his opponents of their favourite weapon by sending out a call "to all Party organisations and Soviets" to put an end to bureaucracy, waste, and inertia. "Our economic and administrative apparatus consumes approximately two milliards of roubles a year. It should be possible to reduce these expenses to three or four hundred million, to the benefit of our industry." This was exactly the thesis of the Left, to within a hundred million anyway. A further unprecedented anomaly: The message was signed by Rykov, President of the Council of Commissars, by Stalin as Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, by Kuibyshev, as President of the Party Control Commission. These titles and signatures implied for the first time a public usurpation of attributes and prerogatives, an open violation of the Constitution, no article of which allowed for the unwarrantable interference of the functionaries of any Party whatever in the affairs of the State. But Stalin, by reason of the powers which the G.P.U. gave him, codified the situation in his own person. If, on paper, he still allowed a little authority to the Council of Commissars, it was only for the benefit of the gallery and to soften the transition.

In his speech at Tiflis he mentioned in particular the General Strike in England and the happenings in Poland. But anyone unversed in the casuistry of decadent Bolshevism, unaccustomed to the examination of this sort of thing, would have had difficulty in distinguishing his views from those of the Left. Besides which he never hesitated to quote from Trotsky or Zinoviev without indicating the authors, contenting himself with arriving at different conclusions or with omitting the conclusions altogether. When by any chance he produced an original idea, such as: "The British Communist Party is one of the best sections of the Communist International," when speaking of a group whose influence on social life in Britain was nil, he gave a sample of his ability, but the complete atrophy of all critical spirit among the governed, as well as the firm hand of the governors, saved him from any unpleasant contradictions. Except within the walls of the Politbureau and the supreme Economic Council, where Trotsky and Pyatakov fought side by side a battle which was never heard of outside, the Opposition kept quiet and bided its time.

Would it have the wisdom to await the ripening of the disagreements which were already beginning in the majority fraction? This would not have suited Stalin, whose aim was to hasten the expulsion of the irreconcilables. A Party Conference was due to be held in October 1926, the Congress having been adjourned until the following year. It was essential to confront the assembly with an accomplished fact, and since the Opposition seemed in no hurry to attack, Stalin set himself to provoke them.

He was an expert at this sort of task. In September he launched a "campaign of explanation," that is to say defamation, against the gagged minority. Trotsky and Pyatakov were eliminated from the Department of Economics; Kamenev refused to go to Japan. The Oppositionists, slandered, abused and subjected to threats, had nothing but secretly duplicated pamphlets and clandestine conversations to defend themselves with. The majority of the Party never heard anything of their declarations or their "theses." Krupskaya decided at last to part with a copy of the famous Testament, which was immediately sent abroad, where it was published by Trotsky's friends. But in Russia its underground circulation was very small, and in any case, came too late to be effective. Under these conditions any attack was hopeless for the present and without value for the future. Nevertheless, the defiant Opposition was unable to resign itself to keep silent and "wait and see," which was the only possible tactic in the circumstances. They did not then understand the need to take a long view, "to re-educate the new generation and look ahead" and also, as Trotsky wrote later, but too late, "not to be impatient, not to fret oneself or others, but to learn and to wait." The Opposition persisted in visualising the Party as an unalterable entity, from which it was only separated by a temporary misunderstanding. After a prolonged internal debate, in which the prudence of some members continually clashed with the impatience of others, it was decided to take the decisive step. At the beginning of October 1926, the foremost militants forced their way into the Communist cells in the factories, with the intention of replying to the attacks of Stalin's agents. Stalin asked for nothing better.


THE annals of Bolshevism contain plenty of bitter fights, barbed polemics and noisy and passionate episodes. But in this Party, where Lenin practically never used the familiar "thou" to anyone, the strictest courtesy was always the rule, even in the midst of the Civil War, and exceptions strike a jarring note. The era of Stalin inaugurated new usages.

The Oppositionists were made aware of this by their reception at the workers' meetings: shouts and insults, volleys of whistles, a systematic uproar. Flying squads of interrupters were dispatched by lorry to any point where the members of the Left were speaking, with orders to drown their voices by various methods imitated from fascism, to assault them if need be and throw them out by physical force. It was not necessary for Stalin to give exact instructions for this procedure; his lieutenants were quick to see what was expected of them and to make it known that the hooligans would not be punished. In general, the Opposition did not succeed in making itself heard. Even if it had, the result would have been the same, since the proletariat would not have followed their overlearned and theoretical viewpoint, being frightened of prolonged unemployment above all things. Radek was able to speak for three minutes—and Trotsky, who had once received an ovation in that same factory, was forced to leave the platform after an equally short time, without being able to explain his programme. "The Party does not want arguments," Pravda constantly stated. An artificial outbreak of collective hysteria whipped the bureaucracy to a fury. The press devoted entire pages to vituperation against the renegades, fractionaries and counter-revolutionaries in prose; Demian Biedny, the official versifier, abused and mocked at them in verse. Molotov, under the direct inspiration of Stalin, did not blush to upbraid them for having gone into emigration under the Tsar, as if Lenin and the entire staff of Iskra had not done likewise, following the example of Herzen and Bakunin. Even anti-Semitism was used against the leaders of the Opposition. One ironic detail was that the Zinoviev University anathematised the "criminal attempts at schism" of its namesake. And Kirov announced without a smile: "If we are speaking of democracy, there has never been greater democracy in the history of our Party than we have to-day."

After a few days of this unparalleled democracy, the Opposition, faced with the dilemma of submission or insurrection, chose to retreat. On October 4th it offered to make peace with the Politbureau, which imposed its own conditions, and on October 16th it submitted. In a declaration signed by Zinoviev, Trotsky, Kamenev, Pyatakov, Sokolnikov, and Yevdokimov, it recognised its offences against discipline, condemned its own fractional activity, disowned Krupskaya for an innocent allusion in her speech at the last Congress, repudiated its followers abroad, and finally abandoned its members of the old Workers' Opposition. While it is true that they did not abjure their intimate convictions, they promised to remain in a state of political catalepsy, and to submit themselves without reserve to the Central Committee, which Stalin had called in plenary session for the express purpose of receiving this capitulation and confirming its sanctions: that Trotsky and Kamenev be removed from the Politbureau and replaced by Kuibyshev and S. Kossior; that V. Smirnov, author of Democratic Centralism, be expelled from the Party for having spoken without permission; that a whole series of rank-and-file militants be accused, dismissed, recalled. As for Zinoviev, he was invited to resign from the Presidency of the International, which he did soon after. Towards the end of the month, all the essentials being already decided upon, the Conference was allowed to begin....

Stalin had prepared a thesis on the "Opposition bloc" to which he imputed lack of principles, a defeatist ideology, opportunism, Menshevism, Trotskyism, and which he accused of destroying the unity of the Party and weakening the dictatorship of the proletariat. He dragged up again Zinoviev's and Kamenev's celebrated back-sliding in October, repeated all that had already been said a hundred times on the various questions in dispute and refuted the industrial deviation afresh: "The industrialisation of the country can only be achieved by relying on the progressive amelioration of the material situation of the peasant majority."

During the sitting he gave a long report on the subject. After his biased history of recent events, he reopened the hackneyed argument over socialism in one country, then dug up all the old controversies, such as that on the "permanent revolution," in order to show Lenin and Trotsky in opposition. He insulted Zinoviev, to whom he attributed a "limited nationalist spirit," and Radek, who had ridiculed him at the Communist Academy with his allusions to Shchedrin's satires, coining such phrases as "socialism in a single district" or even "socialism in a single street." He quoted Trotsky's unfortunate phrase "the magnificent historic music of developing socialism," the unflattering appreciations which Trotsky and Zinoviev had written about one another, their later retractions, and frequently quoted Lenin, whom the Oppositionists had constantly used against him. To the industrialists he said yet again: "One cannot further the progress of industry by neglecting the interests of agriculture, or by brutally violating those interests." Finally, Trotsky having predicted the ultimate exclusion of all Opposition, he made a vehement denial: "This assertion of Comrade Trotsky's is absolutely without foundation; it is completely false."

The representatives of the minority, present by right at the Conference as members of the Central Committee, were authorised to reply to the bureaucracy, which had already decided to hear nothing and to interpret everything in the worst possible light. They wasted their time and strength in speaking before this hostile audience as though they recognised in it the authentic representatives of the Party, and confined themselves to prudent generalities, couched in an amicable tone, which corresponded neither to the acuteness of the conflict nor to the gravity of the occasion. Reduced to a defensive position, enmeshed in their own unfruitful strategy, they abandoned their most telling arguments, glossed over differences and blunted their criticisms. The need to manoeuvre took precedence over their slogans to the point of rendering them unrecognisable. In order to prove that Trotskyism was no more, Kamenev read Trotsky's retraction on the "permanent revolution": "Experience has invariably shown that wherever any of us disagreed with Lenin on any fundamental point, Lenin-was always correct." In his pamphlet the New Course, Trotsky had once written: "With regard to the theory of the permanent revolution, I can find absolutely no reason for retracting what I wrote on this subject in 1904, 1905, 1906 and later."

It is quite obvious that these subtleties, incomprehensible to the lay mind, disillusioned the few remaining workers who were faithful to communism, disgusting them alike with the Opposition and the bureaucracy. They had the further unfortunate result of obscuring urgent and immediate questions under a veil of incomprehensible chicanery. Although the two fractions agreed on the necessity of safeguarding the monopoly of their Party, and called vainly on the name of Lenin to arbitrate between them, the Right still reproached the Left with every sort of opportunism dressed up in revolutionary phrases, with petit-bourgeois and Social-Democratic deviations, while the Left accused the Right of idealising the N.E.P., under-estimating the economic power of the kulaks, etc. As a practical measure, the Opposition proposed the exemption of the poor from taxation, the raising of workers' wages, and the increase of subsidies to industry; all this by means of a milliard roubles to be obtained, half by cutting down the expenses of the bureaucracy, and half by increased taxation of the bourgeoisie in the towns and on the countryside. Already labouring under the accusation of demagogy, and unsure of its historic parallels, the Opposition did not dare to speak openly of Thermidor, nor to call Stalin the "grave-digger" of the revolution, or the Tsar of the kulaks, as he was called in whispers, nor openly to compare Voroshilov to General Cavaignac.

At the end of his oration, Stalin triumphantly announced that "Comrade Krupskaya has forsaken the Opposition bloc." Two days before, a letter from Shliapnikov and Medvediev, extracted by threats, had been made known, in which the signatories confessed their errors, judged and humiliated themselves and repented. The moral forces of several Oppositionists were weakening by reason of the impasse into which Trotsky and Zinoviev had strayed; new discords on tactical questions broke out among the shattered ranks. Sapronov and his followers felt ill at ease among the "big guns" of the industrialists. Stalin was fully informed of all this and intrigued to his utmost to increase the differences, while at the same time the machine increased its external pressure: cells, sections, committees, all manifested a fantastic and unanimous loyalty, which deceived no one.

During the Conference, the "ideological struggle" continued unabated outside. Zinoviev complained of a verse quoted from Alexander Blok by a Saratov newspaper: "Is it our fault if your skeleton is crushed by the grip of our soft and heavy paws?" In Pravda Larin stated the alternatives: "Either the Opposition must be excluded and legally suppressed, or the question will be settled with machine-guns in the streets, as the Left Social Revolutionaries did in Moscow in 1918." In an editorial Bukharin swore deliriously to defend, in the name of the Party, "the Leninist purity of his ideology like the apple of his eye" and proclaimed Lenin's disputed "heritage" to be sacrosanct.

In December the dispute was carried on at the Executive of the International, in front of those whom Medvediev had called paid "lackeys." Stalin could have avoided another sham debate, but he preferred to save his face by posing as a believer in universal communism, as continuing the work of Lenin, when he was merely his temporary heir or at most his imitator. Tirelessly he recited the statement which all his hearers had already heard or read to satiety, that litany from the Complete Works which he had already composed for his earlier interventions. Trotsky and Zinoviev gave everlastingly the same answers, which to-morrow would be denounced by Pravda as "lack of discipline." Clara Zetkin, converted to Leninism, mocked at their "bag full of quotations," and the chorus of international followers reviled the heterodox.

But the leaders of the Opposition, urged on by their followers who were weary of diplomacy, began to raise their voices in order to demonstrate the constancy of their ideas. Stalin became more violent, more aggressive, in fact more scurrilous. He exhumed all the ancient errors, real or imagined, of his opponents, and revealed the incident of the telegram of congratulations which Kamenev had sent to the Grand-Duke Michael at the time of the February Revolution. Kamenev invoked a denial, signed by Lenin, in his defence, but Stalin challenged this, stating that Lenin had, in the interests of the Party, knowingly written the opposite of the truth. Thus did personal animosity and a spirit of cliquishness now take precedence over "ideology," so much stressed in official political literature; and this between persons who had once prided themselves as much on the correctness of their relations as on their doctrinal rigour. Trotsky, always anxious to discover a struggle of classes behind the struggles of the cliques, would nevertheless not admit the truth of Jaurès's just observation: "History is a strange battle, where the men who fight against one another often serve the same cause." Later he was to attempt to explain his defeats, without explaining anything, by the dumb pressure of the prosperous peasants and the influence of world capitalism, reflected through the laborious empiricism of Stalin.

The Party, therefore, began the tenth year of the revolution, more disunited than ever before. The split which Lenin had foreseen was gradually taking place in fact. Both camps prepared themselves for fresh clashes after the end of 1926, putting no faith either in the promises of democracy from the Right or of discipline from the Left. Stalin arranged his pieces on the chess-board, where the so-called Trotskyists were mere pawns: Ordjonikidze as President of the Control Commission; Chubar to fill the vacancy as alternate of the Politbureau; Bukharin at the helm of the International, without the title of President; lesser personages everywhere where the machine did not appear to be secure. The Opposition, on its side, completed its organisation as a clandestine Party within the only Party, with its own hierarchy in miniature, its Politbureau, its Central Committee, its regional and local agents, its foundation groups, its subscriptions, its circulars, its code for letters. Nevertheless, Zinoviev became discouraged and hesitated whether to persevere. The Sapronovists considered blazing their own trail. Among Trotsky's supporters, many began to doubt their previous convictions. But a fresh problem arose to reawaken the antagonism of the two fractions: civil war in China, which Pravda hailed yet again as "the thunder of the world revolution."

Since the death of Yuan Shih-kai, in the absence of any stable and recognised power beyond certain provincial frontiers, the Chinese Republic had been passing through troubled times, delivered over to military bandits and feudal war lords. The generals, in the pay of the rival Great Powers, divided between them an ephemeral authority over the immense territory, broken by alternate advances and retreats, alliances and ruptures. Finally two poles of attraction emerged: in the North, the militarist reaction, headed by Chang Tso-lin and centred around Mukden; in the South, the democratic revolution, directed by Sun Yat-Sen from Canton. The nominal Government at Peking, which was in the hands of Wu Pei-fu, really only had jurisdiction within the ancient capital, despite the support of the British. Various generals, among whom was Feng Yu-hsiang, converted to Christianity, and thereafter looked on as a pawn of the United States, sold, lent or withdrew their co-operation in accordance with a thousand vicissitudes. Thanks to Lenin's policy of placing China on a footing of equality, without regard to the "unequal treaties," Bolshevism exercised a considerable influence on the national revolutionary movement. Joffe, as Ambassador from the U.S.S.R., had negotiated and begun an intelligent Russo-Chinese co-operation, of which Karakhan, his successor, saw the first fruits. On his death-bed, Sun Yat-sen dictated two messages: one to the Kuomintang, his party, and the other to the Executive of the Soviets, expressing the wish for a permanent bond between the two revolutions and a lasting alliance of solidarity between the two countries. With his base in Manchuria and aided by the Japanese, Chang Tso-lin succeeded in extending his operations towards the south, preaching the traditional morality of Confucius as against Sun Yat-sen's semi-socialism. He succeeded in taking Peking, and even Shanghai for a short while. But the Kuomintang was supported inside the country by the bourgeois nationalists, the liberal students, the workers and the peasants, and by the Soviet Union from outside. It had succeeded, despite the violence with which the revolting proletariat was treated by the professional soldiers, in raising and training troops with a new mentality who were capable of defeating mercenaries not fighting for an ideal. The Chinese University in Moscow, directed by Radek, the officer-instructors, sent from Russia to the Military School in Canton, among whom was Blücher, under the name of Galen, finally the Russian advisers to the Communist Party, now incorporated in the Kuomintang, such as Bubnov and Borodin, who dispensed large subsidies—all these played no small part in the victorious march of the Southerners towards the North and the valley of the Yangtse, under the command of Chiang Kai-shek. In 1926 the balance of forces was in favour of the Reds. Wu Pei-fu, beaten by Chang, by Feng, by Chiang and others, gradually faded from the scene, as did also Sun Chuan-fang, another venal general of merely temporary importance. Feng rallied decisively to the Kuomintang. The so-called "popular" armies had occupied Hankow and were advancing on Nanking and Shanghai. This, broadly and simply outlined, was the situation in China at the time when Stalin began to take an active part in the leadership of the International.

The young Chinese Communist Party had not renounced its independent press, its political physiognomy and its freedom of action of its own free will, to become the powerless Left wing of the bourgeois Kuomintang. This course of conduct was forced upon it by Moscow. Stalin and Bukharin, his inspirer and ideologue, claimed to he encouraging a socialist evolution in China by means of penetration into the Kuomintang, where the "bloc of four classes," the revolutionaries of the country and the epoch, was to be sealed. The weakness of the Chinese bourgeoisie, Stalin told the Executive of the International in November 1926, justified this tactic, and even authorised communist participation in the capitalist government. He expected that the victory of the Cantonese would bring about democratic liberties "for all revolutionary elements in general and for the workers in particular." In order not to alarm this insignificant bourgeoisie, to reassure Chiang Kai-shek, with whom he had once exchanged signed photographs in Moscow, and to gain the confidence of the civil and military chiefs of Canton, he ordered his emissaries to shut their eyes to the bloody repressions of strikes in the south. He forbade the arming of the workers, the creation of soviets and the encouragement of peasant revolts, even ordering the suppression of these. Already in March 1926, when Chiang Kai-shek had staged a coup d'état in Canton in order to curb the communists, the Soviet press had had orders to suppress the truth, while simultaneously Bubnov was urging his Chinese subordinates to submit. According to Borodin, the latter were to fulfil the role of political "coolies" in the Kuomintang, which was now admitted to the International as a "sympathetic" section.

Trotsky, on the other hand, while disagreeing with Radek and Zinoviev on several points, demanded a separate policy and organisation in order to rescue the communists from the guardianship of the Kuomintang. Both sides searched the pages of the Complete Works, looking there for a solution which could not be found. It is true that Lenin had always recommended the support of all revolutionary movements, whether bourgeois or nationalist, and advantageous compromises with democratic and liberal parties, but only on the condition that the Communist Party did not give up its liberty nor lose sight of its socialist programme, did not lose itself in or become confused with such parties. Trotsky could make use of this to the fullest extent. But Stalin compared the Kuomintang to the British Labour Party, into which Lenin himself advised the Communist Party to try to enter. Without doubt this was a complete misunderstanding of the different social nature of the two parties, and the disparity between their historical circumstances. In addition, since the death of Sun Yat-sen, the Kuomintang had been transformed in very much the same manner as the Bolshevik Party since Lenin's death....

In March 1927, following Chiang Kai-shek's entry into Shanghai, where he formed a "popular" Government, two communist ministers participated in the national Government at Hankow. In April, the President of the Kuomintang, Wang Ching-wei, and the Secretary of the Communist Party, Chen Tu-hsiu, proclaimed a permanent collaboration, and the subordination of the military authorities to the civil power. In Moscow, Stalin, irritated by the criticisms of the Opposition, himself guaranteed Chiang Kai-shek's fidelity to Sun Yat-sen's Testament and the Soviet alliance, before a large audience of "active" militants. Radek, on the contrary, predicted a fatal breakdown in the Communist-Nationalist coalition, and gave warning that the workers were in grave danger from Chiang's machine-guns. A few days later came the news of a military coup d'état in Shanghai: of hundreds, presently of thousands of workers massacred, the Red Government dissolved by the "popular" army, the Russian agents in flight and the members of the Communist Party hunted down. The same thing, preceded by a search of the Soviet Embassy in Peking, took place in Nanking, Canton and elsewhere. The Soviet press exploded into imprecations, fulminating with rage and impotence. Chiang Kai-shek was now a deserter, a traitor, a counter-revolutionary, a feudalist, a dictator, an executioner, a Cavaignac, a Gallifet. Stalin was just in time to prevent Pravda from publishing his lamentable discourse. But the disaster on the Pacific stained him with the blood of the workers. The indignant Opposition came to the fore again; an address presented to the Central Committee by eighty-three Oppositionists was covered with signatures. The fractional struggle broke out with renewed vigour around the Chinese question, about the middle of 1927.


UNSCATHED, Stalin survived an upheaval which must have overthrown him under any regime which was in the smallest degree democratic. There was an excellent reason for this: he enjoyed a complete monopoly of all the means of information and comment, both in print and on the platform. The entire press belonged to him and praised his foresight unblushingly. Not only the immense economic and political administrative apparatus, but also the police and the army were under his orders, through intermediaries. He was free to do whatever he liked except against the members of the Central Committee and the Politbureau, unless he had a majority there. No despot in any age or in any country, has ever enjoyed such powers of deceiving public opinion, or, if that failed, of suppressing it. The Opposition, by word of mouth and by duplicated pamphlets, were able at the end of several months to influence twenty or thirty thousand people at most. The "Declaration of the Eighty-three" collected about three thousand signatures, but most of those sympathisers who were not already marked down, abstained, not wishing to subject themselves to reprisals to no good end. A certain number of workers' circles existed in secret, holding no communication with one another for fear of the spies, both professional and amateur, which swarmed everywhere. Collective apathy and individual instincts of self-preservation between them gave Stalin a free hand, provided always that he continued to safeguard the privileges of the "oligarchy."

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Griboyedov's masterpiece The Misfortune of Having Wit, which was forbidden by the censor, was circulated to the extent of some 40,000 copies, according to some authorities. In the tenth year of Bolshevism, Trotsky's writings were in the same position. This is not the only instance of regression to an earlier century, a reaction which makes the parallel between the Iron Tsar and the "Steel" Secretary even more striking.

When Stalin slakes his vindictiveness by omitting Trotsky from the official history of the revolution, when he denies facts and falsifies texts, and removes from the libraries all books and documents which, though authentic, are contrary to his views, when, in order to deny that his principal adversary played any part in 1917 or in the Civil War, he expurgates the life-stories and memoirs of his contemporaries, witnesses and participants, even Lenin's own unpublished papers, when he causes the anniversaries of the Red Army to be celebrated without mentioning the most important name, and orders that the film October be made as though Trotsky had never existed, how can one help being reminded of Custine's description of the sovereign autocrat, who "adjusts the history of his country to suit his good pleasure, and dispenses each day to his people those historic verities which coincide with the fiction of the moment"? Whether it be a Tsarist Empire or a Soviet Republic, "in that country, historic truth is no more respected than the sacredness of an oath." The printing of certain pages of a Soviet Encyclopedia was held up so that the biography of various persons who had ceased to be in favour while it was in the press could be re-written.

The general public was no better informed about the present than the past, on the defeats in China than on the earlier victories in Russia. Stalin scourged the Opposition even in their graves. When the ashes of Skliansky, who was killed in an accident in the United States, were returned, he refused to allow the urn to be placed in the sepulchre in the Red Square, as though wishing again to illustrate Custine: "In Russia, the dead themselves are subjected to the caprices of the man who rules over the living."

After the sinister miscalculations of Shanghai and Canton, the dark Story continued with the arrest at Peking of twenty Chinese communists, condemned to the horrible torture of strangulation by garrotting. Among them were a founder of the Party, Professor Li Ta-chao, and a young girl, Chen Pai-ming. But Stalin continued to demonstrate in theses and in imperturbable speeches the correctness of his line, and to reprove the leaders of the Opposition for urging a break with the Kuomintang and the creation of soviets in southern China. At that time he staked his hopes on Feng Yu-hsiang, the Christian General who claimed to be a follower of Sun Pat-sen, and who like so many other mercenaries, and like all the brotherhood of enemies of Bolshevism, called himself a spiritual son of Lenin.

In any case, the affairs of the Far East only interested Stalin in relation to his position in the Party. His friends did not conceal his project of beheading the Opposition by "liquidating" the most important leaders; once expelled from the Party, these intractables could be handed over to the G.P.U. But for this it was necessary to have the consent of the Politbureau. At this period, it was whispered in the corridors of the Kremlin, by those in the know, that since the Politbureau had lost its Left wing, it was divided into Right and Centre factions, four votes against four. Rykov, Bukharin, Tomsky and Kalinin were named as Rightists, without anyone knowing exactly what the division was about. Thus one half of the Politbureau paralysed the other. (The position of Kuibyshev, the ninth member, was still in dispute, since it was illegal by statute to be a member of both the Central Committee and the Control Commission.) Stalin found himself thus in temporary difficulties at the top.

The manner in which he extricated himself from this embarrassment clearly demonstrates his superiority on the low level where he manoeuvres with such skill. Foreseeing all eventualities, he had already enlarged the Politbureau and the Central Committee in order to surround himself as far as possible with docile followers. But his fraction was still not entirely homogeneous since he had to take into account those old Bolsheviks, whose intellectual ability Lenin had not thought much of, but who had helped to defeat first Trotsky, then Zinoviev. Until the whole process was complete, until the genuine Stalinist camarilla formed the majority in the Politbureau, Stalin was forced to make terms, to manoeuvre, to temporise. For this reason he did nothing in haste, but continued his silent work of modifying the numerical proportions to his advantage, even to the extent of only one vote.

On various occasions Trotsky had believed it possible to launch a frontal attack against the stable kernel of the Central Committee. Zinoviev had also made two separate minor attempts, once against Trotsky in concert with Stalin, and once against Stalin with his own forces. Stalin himself never left anything to chance, and never risked an open conflict without accurately measuring his forces and reckoning up his votes. It is therefore necessary to follow carefully the tiresome bureaucratic mutations, the "general post" of the functionaries, since the vital and palpable secret of the Secretary's dictatorship lies in just these colourless combinations, which force us to explore what Carlyle called "the obscure and indescribable regions of history."

Stalin had against him a body of more or less respectable traditions, static tendencies consecrated by time, and reputations which were long established, even overvalued. In order to accustom the Party, or rather the leading cadres, to a revision of customs and a fresh standard of values, it was necessary to proceed slowly and by insensible gradations. After cleaning up the Politbureau, he prepared people's minds for a purge of the Central Committee. There was no hurry about going further: people accepted a downfall more readily than an expulsion. Having already postponed the Party Congress, first for some months, then for a year, he adjourned the Congress of the Soviets for the same period, and put off the Congress of the International to an unspecified date. Little by little it became a habit to allow the Central Committee, or its organs, or, in the last resort, the General Secretary, to act on their own. When the Right in the Politbureau began to be irksome, Stalin exercised patience and compromised, sure of the Central Committee and reckoning, with undeniable perspicacity, on his adversaries' stupidity and the poltroonery of his accomplices. And in fact, one after another, they later came to his aid at the right moment. The period was fertile in occasions and pretexts.

Diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Conservative Britain, already very strained by Russia's part in the General Strike, became acute in 1927, after the Chinese affair. Stalin took advantage of an atmosphere favourable to patriotic exaltation, to take the Opposition at their word when, before the Central Committee in April and in the recent "Declaration of the Eighty-three," they imprudently affirmed: "The threat of war grows greater every day." Exploiting this justification for a state of siege, he set the ignorant population on the alert and proclaimed that the revolution was in peril, only too glad to put the Left in the position of supporting the enemy. Bukharin's and Voroshilov's speeches having already provoked the beginnings of a panic, a run on the shops, Stalin had to calm people's fears by declaring: "We shall not have a war this spring, nor even in the autumn, because our enemies are not yet ready for it." The bogy of war, first raised by the Opposition, could only favour the bureaucracy; the closer the danger, the more severe the dictatorship. At the end of May, Trotsky made an unusually violent and useless speech before the phantoms who composed the Executive of the International, in which he mixed the Anglo-Russian Committee, the Kuomintang, the Soviet bureaucracy and the coming war. Stalin, replying, refused to consider what he had said, "the more so since he reminds one more of an actor than a hero," but continued, nevertheless, to argue step by step the undesirability of forcing the pace of the Chinese Revolution, the need to maintain the understanding with the Kuomintang and to oppose the creation of Chinese soviets. He concluded: "I have just received news that the British Conservative Government has broken off relations with the U.S.S.R.... The Party is threatened with war from some directions, with splits from others. Thus there is a sort of united front from Chamberlain to Trotsky.... Have no doubts that we shall know how to break this new front." The tone then became more venomous with mutual accusations of Menshevism and treason.

The Opposition continued to strengthen Stalin's position by its thoughtless tactics which resulted in bringing together persons who were previously disaffected. It attacked Tomsky without measure over the Anglo-Russian Committee, and Bukharin over China, which caused them to draw closer to their protector. Stalin seized this propitious moment to summon the Politbureau and propose Trotsky's and Zinoviev's exclusion from the Central Committee, under threat of resignation. Not realising the full gravity of their action, which opened an unlimited field of action for Stalin, the Right gave way. The Control Commission followed suit, despite the unexpected resistance of Ordjonikidze. A tragic external event lent its aid to Stalin's manoeuvre. The assassination of Voykov, Soviet Ambassador to Warsaw, produced a devastating terrorist repercussion in Moscow. Twenty former capitalists and aristocrats, among whom was a Prince Dolgorukov, none of whom had anything to do with the attack, were seized without preliminary warning as hostages, and executed by the G.P.U. Stalin's hand did not waver, and at such a time, when the Kremlin was talking of a new Sarajevo, the Politbureau could not resist.

The Control Commission justified its resolution on "Trotsky's and Zinoviev's lack of discipline," by the fractional activity of the guilty ones. The Opposition had broken its promises, distributed its forbidden literature, held a demonstration by accompanying Smilga (who had been banished to Siberia under cover of a "mission"), to the station (a lapse which was made especially marked by reason of a similar demonstration the day of Kamenev's departure for Rome). In addition, Zinoviev had allowed himself to make certain criticisms at a commemoration ceremony, and Trotsky had done the same at the Executive of the International. Previously he had "libellously accused the Party of Thermidorianism" before the Control Commission, which therefore submitted to the Plenary Session of the Central Organs a demand that "Trotsky's and Zinoviev's names be erased from the list of members of the Central Committee." There had been no instance up to that time of anything unexpected happening in such a case. It seemed as though nothing now remained to impede the bureaucratic Nemesis.

Stalin, however, met with misfortune in China, where Feng Yu-hsiang, following in Chiang Kai-shek's footsteps, severely discomfited him by turning on the communists. Pravda covered the new "traitor" with insults, which, however, in no way prevented the various Chinese generals from hanging and shooting Reds of all shades of opinion, decimating the workers' trade unions and drowning the peasants' revolts in blood. "More than ten thousand proletarians and revolutionary intellectuals have already fallen beneath the murderous blows of the united counter-revolution. Hundreds of the finest sons of China are being slaughtered daily. Prisoners are submitted to indescribable tortures," so people read in a manifesto in Moscow. It only remained for Stalin to pick on Wang Ching-wei, representative of the Kuomintang Left, in order to bring about a fresh disaster, the debacle of the social revolution in China, the collapse of his last illusions, and an exposure of the scandalous bankruptcy of his adventurist strategy. This final turn took place in July 1927, when the session opened in an unbelievable state of disorder.

In order to divert attention from his own heavy responsibility, Stalin made use of an audacious diversion, which deceived no well-informed militant, but might affect the morale of their followers. He sought for a scapegoat, finally throwing on to the shoulders of his Chinese subordinates, his instruments and victims-those who survived the butcheries—the responsibility for the whole series of mistakes committed, thereby stirring up an opportune crisis within the Chinese Communist Party. He had already ordered them to leave the nationalist coalition government, if not the Kuomintang, and he now, at last, took over the Opposition slogan, "Form Soviets." Now that the game was lost, he considered this appropriate. But his chief manoeuvre consisted in threatening the Bolshevik assembly with the menace of war.

"The foremost problem at the present moment is the danger of a fresh outbreak of war ... directed particularly against the Soviet Union," he wrote, without believing it, since in private conversations he was cynical enough to comment ironically on this fairy-story. The Left walked into the trap, the more readily in that they had been the first to sound the alarm. The war question became the centre of all the debates. "The Soviet Union is menaced by armed aggression, and in these conditions ... it is essential that our Party be a united whole, and that the masses which surround it also close their ranks," said Krupskaya, who found it natural to read her one-time fraction a lesson. Chicherin and Ossinsky alone stood out against the panic thesis, and the future was to confirm their sensible and courageous words. Trotsky affirmed the willingness of the Left to fight for the "socialist fatherland," without subscribing to any union sacrée, but considered Stalin incapable of achieving the victory, and posed the alternatives: "Thermidor or the Opposition." When accused of defeatism he quoted the example of Clemenceau, who opposed the Government of his country and his class, not in order to hinder its defence but to help in the conduct of the war. When he was interrupted with reminders that the Party existed, he replied: "You have strangled the Party," yet he continued to express his irrational belief in that Party, which Sapronov had called a "corpse." Stalin jeered at the "comic-opera Clemenceau" and his "little group which has more leaders than soldiers." What did the signatures at the bottom of the "Declaration of the Eighty-three" signify when compared to the immense majority which he professed to represent? And his tone changed for a final warning. "In order to conquer this majority it would be necessary to start a civil war in the Party." This was clear. Stalin would not abandon power without resorting to armed force. As for the Opposition, it never made use of anything stronger than words.

Apart from the artificial bogy of war which dominated the assembly, almost all the old disputes which had been argued and re-argued since Lenin's death, were brought up once again. Differences over October, divergencies during the Civil War, the antecedents of Trotskyism, the Anglo-Russian Committee, the Chinese affair. The two fractions fenced indefatigably with quotations, contradictions and threats. But, as usual, the decisive struggle took place in the wings, where the monolithic character of the bureaucratic machine was, as everyone knew, beginning to show serious fissures.

Stalin worked hard to separate Trotsky from Zinoviev, to expel the first and to bring the second to his knees. This calculation was sound, but a little premature. As a result of their frantic cries that war was imminent, the deceivers had finished by half-convincing themselves, and had certainly terrified the majority of the deceived. If the Soviet Union was perhaps on the eve of general mobilisation, how could they afford to dispense with the services of such tried combatants as Trotsky, Smilga, Muralov, Mrachkovsky and so many others' Ordjonikidze could not resign himself to it and sought for a compromise. The provincial delegates were also uneasy and argued that people's minds were not yet prepared. Nevertheless, the exclusion was unanimously voted, following the usual rule, but amid a feeling of great uneasiness, and by an irregularity of procedure, in the absence of Ordjonikidze, who did not concur.

Meanwhile Stalin could content himself with the results achieved, in order, later, to press his advantage further. There was no urgent question for him in the Party at that time and from then on no one in the State could oppose him. The Congress fixed for December 1927, would be chosen so as to ensure the election of a truly harmonious Central Committee. The preliminary discussions in November would coincide with the Tenth Anniversary celebrations, whose well-organised atmosphere of overpowering enthusiasm, would facilitate the task of the omnipotent apparatus. Stalin therefore came to an agreement with Ordjonikidze, who, in turn, invited the Left to take up a more conciliatory attitude in order that they might be saved. Trotsky and Zinoviev agreed and after various hidden manoeuvres and laborious bargainings, the exclusion was annulled, the Opposition once more promised to dissolve, and escaped with "a severe reproof and a warning." Twelve days spent in settling accounts and in exasperated altercations terminated with a soothing remonstrance. But Stalin had trimmed his sails only in the absolute certainty of finally achieving his aim. If he was unable to find a pretext, he would know how to invent one.

"Never before has the Opposition been so unshakably convinced of its position, nor held to it with such unanimity," said Trotsky. In fact, however, his disorientated fraction had already lost or was about to lose, in addition to Krupskaya, many prominent people originally in Zinoviev's circle, notably Sokolnikov, Zalutsy, Shelavin, and Zoff who had made a full apology. Each week other less prominent Oppositionists recognised their errors, sometimes stooping to denounce their comrades as proof of their servile submission. Conversely, Sapronov's group detached itself in order to take up a franker and more radical position. His "Platform of the Fifteen" pointed out the pressing danger of a Thermidor, demanded the re-establishment of the soviets, defended Lenin's democratic principles formulated in State and Revolution, criticised the G.P.U. for "suppressing the legitimate discontent of the workers," and the Red Army "which threatens to become an instrument of Bonapartist adventurism." The disintegration which was beginning could not be checked so long as Trotsky persisted in regarding the symptoms merely as growing pains.

Nevertheless, the weakness of the Opposition was due far less to lack of numbers than to its intrinsic inability to reason concretely, to its insoluble internal contradictions and to the impenetrable obscurity of its perspective.

Although the Party was no longer a party, although the Party had been strangled, yet for Trotsky the Party still remained sacred, untouchable and taboo. In his eyes, the State, the proletariat, the kulak, the N.E.P. man, the bureaucrat, were so many definite abstractions like the Party. At first he based his hopes on the new generation, which as a whole displayed all the defects of the preceding one, together with a few of its own, and with certain good qualities lacking. Common sense and experience told him to spend time on educating an élite, but, himself a prisoner in an unfortunate "bloc," surrounded by vulgar politicians, he acted as though he shared their absurd impatience and incurable aberrations. When aiming at the oligarchy, he attacked only individuals, not principles, failing utterly to engage the attention of the working masses, the importance of whose active adherence he discounted.

The members of the Opposition vied with one another in mystic and dogmatic Leninism, burying beneath an avalanche of captious quotations from the Scriptures, or unintelligible pamphlets on China, a people who lacked everything and no longer had any rights but only duties. In the new religion of the State, its best elements represented, as against the Jesuitism of the bureaucratic caste, not Free Thought or Rationalism, but a sort of Protestantism or Jansenism, respectful towards a common Scripture. Certainly it can be said of them that, members of a privileged Party and yet despising these privileges, the original core of their group contained "the only characters who never succumbed to the universal fascination of power," as Renan wrote of Port-Royal; but such little public opinion as still existed was unable to distinguish shades of Left and Right in the degenerate Bolshevik Party and therefore unable to tell the good from the bad in it. Such sympathy as the Oppositionists did succeed in arousing or conserving, was, generally, less for their doctrines than for the men who were sufficiently courageous to defy the dictatorship and thus give to the one-time citizens, now become passive subjects, an onerous example in revolutionary citizenship.

Trotsky feared that if he were defeated there was bound to be a Thermidor, followed by the inescapable Brumaire, yet he declared to the Americans in August 1927, speaking of the opposing sides in the struggle, "What separates us is incomparably less than what unites us." He saw himself in the position of Babeuf under the Directory, and would have liked to bring about an upsurge of proletarian Jacobinism; but far from conceiving of a supplementary revolution in order to suppress the regime of oppression and Bolshevik-Soviet exploitation, he planned long-term reforms which would only perpetuate it.

His views on external politics were equally unconvincing, He was over-anxious to load on to Stalin's shoulders what was really a collective responsibility, in which Lenin had a large share, and in which all the chief Leninists have had a part according to their importance. He was careful not to criticise that political dualism which had been shown for example by the Party's verbal solidarity with the Turkish Communists, at a time when the State was in fact allied with Mustapha Kemal who was dispatching them to the scaffold; but he waxed indignant over the collusion with Mussolini, to whom Rykov had telegraphed astonishing congratulations. He is not convincing when he holds Stalin responsible for all the reverses and misfortunes in the international arena, where communism under Lenin had already met with defeat in Germany, in Hungary, in Finland and in Italy, and under Zinoviev in Germany again, in Bulgaria and in Esthonia, long before the checks in Britain and the Chinese catastrophe.

Inconsequent tactics complemented the theoretical contradictions and the illogical policy of the Opposition. It did not know the correct time to throw its full influence and weight into the scale, nor when to be patient and allow favourable circumstances to ripen, while still working for its revenge. By aiming its blows at the wrong time and place it rallied the maximum of bureaucratic unity against itself, and lined up all the conservative interests, whether conscious or unconscious, behind Stalin, instead of disarming some and neutralising others. Passing from sterile waiting to a hopeless offensive, it struck blindly at the "wall" of the Party, and set against itself those whom in other directions it sought to convert to its ideals. It dissipated its energies on doctrinal exegesis and problems of revolutionary strategy when it should have concentrated on the root question of the regime, on which all the rest depended....


BETWEEN two sessions of the Central Committee, Stalin speeded up the preliminaries for a major surgical operation which he had been planning for a long time. One may well believe that the rupture with the Anglo-Russian Committee (finally accomplished in September 1927—but by the trade Union Congress), and the final doom of the Chinese communists, had aroused his deepest rancour against his too clear-sighted adversaries. His spokesmen therefore took advantage of their monopoly of the press and platform to deal a moral blow at the Opposition, already physically fettered, and to prepare people's minds for the "dry guillotine," at the very moment when Pravda was boasting of "the unprecedented extension of democracy under the Soviet regime." Stalin's spies strained every nerve to ferret out indiscipline, or, if possible, to provoke it in order to suppress it. Expulsions multiplied throughout September, and towards the end of the month the Executive of the International eliminated Trotsky, in defiance of the statutes. A new "crime" was discovered by the G.P.U. in the shape of a "clandestine printing plant"; twelve persons, guilty, or said to be so, were expelled from the Party. Preobrazhensky and Serebriakov attempted to shield them and met the same fate; so did thirty of their comrades in Leningrad, on other charges. Mrachkovsky and various others were thrown into prison. Obviously the long-awaited denouement was at hand.

In October, Trotsky and Zinoviev were finally expelled from the Central Committee, before whom they made yet one more superfluous speech, amid an unprecedented uproar, drowned by interruptions and insults. For the last time they seized the chance to lend themselves to a scene which Stalin had adroitly prepared. The latter no longer thought it necessary to preserve any decorum. His discreet and valued agent, Menzhinsky, nominal chief of the police, presented a report on the Opposition which consisted of an absurd and incoherent story about a military plot, intended to implicate them in counter-revolutionary activity with one of Wrangel's officers, who was, in reality, an agent of the G.P.U. This was an obvious provocative machination—"Thermidorian" Trotsky called it—in which the uneasy but submissive audience clearly perceived Stalin's expert hand.

One cannot even compare the Soviet G.P.U. to the Tsarist Okhrana. It is necessary to go back to the time of Nicholas I in order to have some idea of this formidable institution, a cross between the famous Third Section of the Chancellery and the terrible Corps of Gendarmes, but with an up-to-date technique. The parallel is rendered more exact by the fact that the veritable head of the police was the "Steel" Secretary, as the Iron Tsar had been in his time. Everyone felt himself to be under Stalin's surveillance, direct or indirect, and no member of the Bolshevik Parliament, outside the Left, dared to contradict or to oppose him. Corrupt persons and fanatics set the tone and the rest resigned themselves to voting anything. Amid an inconceivable uproar, in which the efforts of the cabal were clearly evident, Trotsky, the finest orator of the Party, was forced to read his speech word for word in order not to lose the thread, and to cut it short before he had finished. None of those who expressed their disgust confidentially in the corridors had the courage to declare it in the hall. Amid a chorus of outcries, only the more moderate of which were recorded by the stenographer, "renegade... traitor ... scum.., chatter-box... boaster... liar.... Menshevik," Trotsky succeeded in making himself heard above the racket: "Stalin's present organisational victory is the prelude to his political collapse." Whistles and cat-calls prevented him from going further.

Stalin, certain of an attentive silence, replied first by a personal defence, delivered in his repetitive style: "That the principal attacks are directed against Stalin is perhaps explained by the fact that he has a greater knowledge than certain comrades of the knaveries of the Opposition, and that he is less easily deceived. That is why Stalin is particularly attacked. Who is Stalin? Stalin is an unimportant individual. Take Lenin..." And he quoted yet again the old polemics from the days of emigration, when Trotsky harshly castigated "Maximilian Lenin."

On the question of the Testament, which the Opposition always raised, he denied having suppressed it, took refuge behind the unanimous decision not to publish it, and finally quoted Trotsky's denials of its existence to Max Eastman. "It is said that in this Testament Lenin proposed that the Congress should examine the question of replacing Stalin in the post of General Secretary. This is quite true. Let us read this passage, although you have already heard it several times ..." And he read aloud Lenin's well-known lines:

Stalin is too rude, and this fault, entirely supportable in relations among us communists, becomes insupportable in the office of General Secretary. Therefore, I propose to the comrades to find a way to remove Stalin from that position and appoint to it another man who in all respects differs from Stalin only in superiority—namely, more patient, more loyal, more polite and more attentive to comrades, less capricious, etc.

He went on to vindicate himself, secure in the mathematical conviction that the votes were already his, but strengthened also by the errors of his opponents.

Yes, comrades, I am rude towards those who rudely and traitorously break their word, who split and destroy the Party. I have never concealed it and I do not conceal it now. Right from the first session of the Central Committee, after the Thirteenth Congress, I asked to be released from the obligations of the General Secretaryship. The Congress itself examined the question. Each delegation examined the question, and every delegation, including Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev, voted unanimously in favour of Stalin remaining at his post. What could I do then? Abandon my post? Such a thing is not in my character....At the end of one year I again asked to be set free and I was again forced to remain at my post. What could I do then?

After this self-justification came the speech for the prosecution:

They complain of our arresting wreckers, men who have been expelled from the Party and are carrying on anti-Soviet intrigues. Yes, we have arrested them and we shall arrest them so long as they undermine the Party and the Soviet power....They say that such things are unknown in the history of the Party. This is not true. What about the Myasnikov Group? And the Workers Truth group? Does not everyone know that Comrades Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev themselves supported the arrest of the members of these groups?

He turned derisively to Zinoviev who had predicted war in the spring of 1927, then in the autumn: "Now it is winter and still the war has not come." He observed that before his "chatter" about Thermidor, Trotsky had in the New Course denied "those historical analogies with the great French Revolution (the downfall of the Jacobins) with which the superficial and inconsequent liberals and Mensheviks seek to console themselves." He accused the Opposition of wishing to form a rival party, which they denied. The intransigence of the Bolshevik caste on this point is well known. "Under the dictatorship of the proletariat, two, three, even four parties may exist, but on condition that one is in power and all the rest in prison," as Tomsky and Bukharin, the Rightists, were soon to say, paraphrasing one another. What a regression in the ten years since Lenin promised "a peaceful competition between parties inside the Soviets!"

The assembly arranged the programme for the next Congress. By an impudent paradox they rendered involuntary homage to the industrialist Left at the very moment when they condemned it to death, by adopting "Directives for the elaboration of an economic Five Year Plan," thus breathing life into the project that Trotsky had cherished since 1920. But there was a great difference in the tone of the two projects, and the proposed tempo of future industrial progress. The Opposition hastened to prepare "counter-theses" of a more ambitious nature, destined for the Congress. The Governmental fraction, safe in its control of the means of persuasion and coercion, finally allowed, with democratic generosity, one month and a special page of Pravda for preliminary discussions. The Left asked for three months, since several weeks at least were necessary to get replies to certain correspondence. As to the freedom to speak one's mind, no one was deceived on that score, knowing very well what it cost those who were courageous enough to make their views known.

The officials of the Party, according to Stalin, numbered 100,000 persons in 1927, out of a total of 1,200,000 members and candidates. In addition, approximately half the effective total, say nearly half a million, consisted of State functionaries, trade union or Co-operative administrators, or those of other institutions connected with the Party. The other half, employed on production, enjoyed appreciably greater material security than non-party members and asked only to be allowed to consolidate this. In these conditions, the rank-and-file communist was faced with a choice between comfortable orthodoxy and hopeless unemployment. Those heroes who were prepared to sacrifice their minimum of comfort, sometimes their children's bread, for their principles, were still unable to make their voices heard at the Congress through the six successive stages, which filtered opinions from below, deadening them from stage to stage and finally suffocating them altogether.

At the end of October, Rakovsky and Kamenev took the risk of holding an open meeting in Moscow, but they were greeted with howls and were unable to speak. In other places similar attempts met with the same result. Nevertheless, the Opposition decided to continue with its combative tactics and to risk a street demonstration on the day of the great anniversary. Encouraged by the modest but fortuitous success of a demonstration in Leningrad, it hoped to make an impression on the bureaucracy by the evidence of its popularity.

That Zinoviev should show such presumption is not surprising. But Trotsky might have remembered Cromwell who, when he returned triumphantly from his campaign in Ireland, wisely remarked that "the crowd would have been still larger if they had come to see me hanged," or Washington, meditating, as he listened to the acclamations after his elections to the Presidency, "on the quite different scenes which perhaps I shall one day witness, in spite of all my, efforts to do right." But, relying on their hypothetical and dogmatic social science, Bolsheviks of the Left, as well as those of the Right and Centre, are disposed to mistake their desires for the reality, their fears for a certainty, and to generalise from every occurrence, no matter how accidental. The Opposition was intoxicated by contact with its partisans in small illegal meetings, particularly when it unexpectedly succeeded in filling the amphitheatre of the Higher Technical School. On November 7, 1927, aliens amid the joyous mood of the celebration, carrying enigmatic slogans inscribed on placards, they launched themselves into the unheeding crowd which filed past singing revolutionary songs—a crowd like that of any other country but at the same time a Soviet Russian crowd, trained to march in line, collectively credulous but sceptical in its component elements, worried and passive, animated by a vague sentiment of revolutionary patriotism tempered with lassitude.

This time Stalin was not caught unprepared. The Opposition, submerged in the indifferent multitude, found itself face to face with well-trained bands, which, according to an official communiquê "pelted them with rotten potatoes and galoshes," which proved that these henchmen were there on purpose, since no one habitually sets out to celebrate the anniversary of a revolution supplied with rotten potatoes, and galoshes are far too expensive for anyone to throw away, especially at the beginning of the winter. The placards of the Opposition were torn down, the carriers molested, pushed, battered and sworn at by the crowd. A pistol shot—the bullet glanced off Trotsky's car. In Leningrad a brisk skirmish of the same kind resulted in Zinoviev's arrest for several hours. These were all the outstanding incidents of the day. Two small but fierce minorities alone were opposed to each other, the masses remained neutral and inert. On this point Trotsky notes in his My Life: "Those who could see, understood that a rehearsal for Thermidor took place in the streets of Moscow on November 7, 1927."


THE over-emphatic and banal manifesto issued by the Soviet Executive in honour of the anniversary contained a "surprise" among its hackneyed pronouncements and sacramental exclamations: the seven-hour working day was proclaimed, but in the form of a promise to bring this into operation a year later, by successive stages determined by the progress of the rationalisation of industry. In a country where it was officially admitted that the eight-hour day was not enforced, and where the workers, most of whom earned famine wages, were compelled to devote long hours each day to buying poor quality necessities such as bread for themselves and milk for their children, this future reform had not the importance that it was given in the official statement. The position, infuriated by the demagogic unreality of this "gift, never ceased to point this out, a fact which did not endear it further to its opponents. But this new quarrel was only accessory to a wider disagreement over economic policy. The manifesto said nothing about the Five Year Plan, already agreed to in principle by the Central Committee; the leaders still refused to give it a position of more than secondary interest. The counter-theses of the Opposition soon made it a centre of conflict.

A vast mass of apparently documented literature, filled with figures and illustrated by diagrams, purported to show that materially Russia, after ten years of the revolution, had been restored to the low level of before the War. But the whole thing was based on false premises and conditional assumptions. It did not take into account the movements of population, the loss of huge productive territories, the depreciation of the currency, the collapse of external trade, the destruction and depredations caused by the Civil War. On the other hand the Gosplan admitted that the average level of consumption per head still remained well below the wretched pre-War level, and according to the economic plan under discussion, it would not equal it until 1932, which would be the fifteenth anniversary of October. These authoritative calculations showed up the statistical fictions published for propaganda purposes, and stimulated the Left, whose counter-theses criticised such an "insufficient and utterly pessimistic plan."

The Five Year Plan produced by the Right did not, according to these theses, resolve a single difficulty, neither unemployment, nor low wages, nor the housing crisis, nor the inflation of the currency, nor the famine of goods. Indirect taxes, which increased with each budget, were crushing the working class. The production of spirits alone would have tripled in five years, while the development in general consumption goods would be trifling. What was necessary, according to the theses of the Left, was an increased investment of capital in industry. There were a milliard poods of grain in reserve on the countryside; by means of a forced loan of 150 million poods, the State could give a vigorous impulse to the whole economic system, find work for the thousands of unemployed and put fresh goods on the market in considerable quantities. The subsidies allowed to industrial production should be raised, first to 500 million roubles a year, and then increased progressively up to a milliard roubles during the next Five-Year period. It went without saying that this plan could not be realised without the collaboration of its Left promoters, still less against their opposition, and it therefore implied a more democratic "regime within the Party."

But the Opposition had by that time scarcely any means of making known its views, which were ironically dubbed "superindustrialist." By the time Pravda published the counter-theses, the delegates to the local, regional, provincial and national conferences which preceded the Congress, had already been chosen almost everywhere. Further, a merciless repression choked the voices of all minorities. The few discussion journals, a parody of democracy, only served to encourage one-sided polemics. Finally, the Central Committee openly encouraged the breaking up by force of the private meetings of the Opposition. During an arranged interview with foreign visitors Stalin replied to a well-timed question: "You will not find a State anywhere else in the world where the proletariat enjoy so great a liberty of the press as in the U.S.S.R."

On the same occasion he expressed himself on the subject of vodka, the returns on which were more than 500 million roubles, a proportion more or less equal to the "budget of drunkenness" under Tsarism. "I believe that we shall very soon succeed in abolishing the vodka monopoly, and reducing the production of alcohol to the minimum required for technical needs, and later in liquidating the sale of spirits altogether." But his most interesting remark this time was on socialism in the countryside. "We hope to realise collectivisation with reference to the peasants, little by little, by means of orderly economic, financial, cultural and political measures." This is the traditional Bolshevik thesis, in which there is no question of using force. "Collectivisation will be complete when all peasant enterprises have been transformed on a new technical basis of electrification and mechanisation when the majority of working peasants have been organised in co-operatives, and the majority of villages contain agricultural associations of a collective character."

The interview ended with some grandiloquent words about the G.P.U., which Stalin was not afraid to compare to the Committee of Public Safety of the French Revolution, despite the fact that the Soviet Union had not been at war for seven years and that more exact comparisons could be found in the history of Russia under the Tsars: "We do not wish to repeat the mistakes of the Paris Communards. The G.P.U. is necessary to the revolution and the G.P.U. will continue to exist for the confounding of the enemies of he proletariat." No allusion here to the hunting down of proletarians, socialists, libertarians, syndicalists, Tolstoyans, communists, revolutionaries of all schools, of which the various opposition tendencies were the victims.

On November 15th the Control Commission decided to expel Trotsky and Zinoviev from the Party. Everyone knew that this meant prison or deportation almost at once if the Congress approved of it. The other Left leaders were expelled from the Central Committee and deprived of their offices in the Party and the State. In Moscow people said that Stalin was determined to "strike the Opposition in the belly," to deprive it of work and hence of food and lodging. On the 16th, Joffe, one of the principal inactive Oppositionists, committed suicide. He had been ill for a long time and exposed to the hostility of the Politbureau, but above all, depressed by the persecutions of his fraction, he wished to register a protest against the expulsion of his friends: "This infamy ... means inevitably the beginning of a Thermidorian period" in Russia. In his spiritual testament, a poignant letter to Trotsky, he adjured him to stand firm as Lenin had done and refuse to compromise. The G.P.U. searched the dead man's home and attempted to forbid the funeral cortege entrance to the cemetery. They were still afraid of using physical violence and creating a scandal, without direct instructions from above, but the hour when they would repay their opponents was soon coming.

One week after the first Soviet Ambassador to Europe and Asia had made his tragic gesture, Stalin announced the discomfiture of the Opposition, which, for very good reasons, had not obtained one per cent, and would not have a delegate at the Congress. "A declaration of unity signed by thirty-one Trotskyists has been sent to the Politbureau," he declared, "but what answer can one make to this hypocritical declaration by thirty-one Trotskyists, when the lying promises of the Opposition have again and again been contradicted by their splitting activities?" On December 2nd the Fifteenth Congress opened, a real conclave of functionaries, where "100 per cent unanimity" was guaranteed by every conceivable means.

It was a real masterpiece of its kind. In the whole solid mob of 1,669 delegates, the Left did not possess a single vote. One or two of its representatives, candidates for expulsion, were present according to their incorrigible custom, with consultative rights. What the right to speak consisted in, they were again to learn to their sorrow when they attempted to exercise it. Ceremonies of congratulation took up an enormous proportion of the time. The Congress received nearly 1,500 addresses, motions, telegrams of greetings and congratulations, dispatched under instructions from the centre, and the delegates applauded a vast number of so-called workers' and other delegations, as was expected of them. The less the time allowed for debate, the heavier and longer grew the reports: a vast tome of 1,400 pages enshrined these oratorical excursions, which stretched over thirty sittings. Stalin held forth throughout an entire day, showing his powers of endurance at least, and the other rapporteurs did their utmost to hold the floor for the longest possible time, making up in quantity what they so completely lacked in quality. On a "proposal" from the leaders, which was equivalent to a command, the obedient assembly "decided," that is to say accepted, a modification of the statutes which, in effect, legalised its arbitrary adjournment. Thereafter the Congress would not meet more often than once every two years. But there was no guarantee that this new stipulation would be respected, any more than all the other protective clauses, legal or constitutional. Finally, in accordance with Stalin's secret desire, the membership of the Central Committee was increased to 121, including alternate members, and that of the Control Commission to 195, in order to enlarge "the basis of the apex" for the benefit of the Secretariat.

The long Political Report given by the General Secretary, a document typical of bureaucratic optimism, concluded with a flattering enumeration of ten Bolshevik victories on diverse fields, both internal and external. Everything was for the best under the best possible dictatorship.... Surrounded by serried ranks of interested henchmen and docile followers, Stalin was secure in spinning out a string of statistical material, which had been furnished by prudent functionaries, far too cautious to risk allowing a personal idea to creep in. If he light-heartedly affirmed that: "We live on the eve of a new revolutionary upsurge, both in the colonies and the older countries," and was later proved wrong by facts, he could always fall back on Lenin's similar prediction, made at quite a different time. Having stolen from the Left his plans for industrialisation, at least on paper, he boasted of "the unprecedented rhythm of our socialist industry," and borrowed from Lenin a vague phrase on the need to "catch up with and surpass the most advanced countries on the economic field," which he transformed into an urgent slogan.

It goes without saying that the more backward a great country is, the more rapidly it will advance in certain circumstances, under the pressure of external competition and the application of the technical knowledge of its rivals, in order to raise itself to the level of a modern state. But this very rapidity demonstrates its backwardness, and is not a cause for boasting, for that "com-boasting" which Lenin so disliked. Tsarist Russia knew periods of feverish industrialisation, before the Soviets. And although one cannot conceive of democratic socialism without mechanical production, it is easy enough to speed up the production and forget the socialism.

Stalin was less satisfied with the state of agriculture, which was too widely spread, in too small strips, and insufficiently productive. Following the Opposition, he awoke, in his turn, to the kulak danger. According to the evidence, the well-to-do Peasants were forced to hoard their grain since they were unable to exchange it for stable currency or for manufactured goods, while the poor peasants vegetated on infinitely subdivided patches of ground, without the necessary manure or tools. "What is at issue is the change from small individual peasant enterprises to large-scale cultivation, on the basis of collective cultivation of the soil ... using a new and improved technique,"' but always going slowly, without compulsion, using the forces of persuasion and example: "Those comrades who think of disposing of the kulak by administrative measures, by the G.P.U., are wrong. This is an easy but not an effective way. The kulak must be dealt with by economic measures on a basis of revolutionary legality. And revolutionary legality is no empty phrase. It does not, however, exclude the use of certain administrative measures against the kulaks...."

No administrative measures, therefore—but administrative measures all the same. And by this euphemism Stalin meant what Lenin termed "the abominations of Bashi-Bazouks," confiscations of wheat from the more provident cultivators, pillage which was at the same time official and illegal, and which could not be carried out without clashes and cruelty. "Administrative" meant the police and the military, since such administration is only practicable by armed men. This prospect meant war against the peasants who held back their grain, or a policy of spoliation such as the majority had reproached the minority with advocating, but which they had annexed, like industrialisation, to their own programme.

On the Opposition, which was the principal theme of the Congress, Stalin was content to repeat all the old stories. He drew up a brief "balance-sheet of the discussion": approximately 4,000 votes were cast for the Opposition, he said, but without explaining that more than a thousand expulsions had intimidated the Party members. A year later Stalin was to speak retrospectively of 10,000 votes against the Central Committee, plus twice as many who did not vote, say 30,000 Oppositionists under the bureaucratic terror, "under the knout of the administration" as Trotsky and his followers named it later. Here is another example of the truth of statistics: Stalin mentions 10,346,000 as the round total of paid workers in all categories both in the towns and country, and S. Kossior gives the number of trade unionists as 10,00,000. The entire total of wage-earners would thus be enrolled in the trade unions, including children, day labourers, domestics, wet-nurses and the millions of illiterates in remote places, far from towns and communications, where occupational unions could not possibly exist.... The other calculations, coefficients and percentages with which the various secretaries and reporters juggled are as little to be trusted.

"The Opposition must disarm, utterly and completely, both in the ideological and the organisational spheres," Stalin concluded. The audience, excited by a series of venomous speeches, knew what its masters expected of it and demonstrated without stint. Trotsky and Zinoviev, already expelled, were not there to reply. Rakovsky, only recently Ambassador in Paris and recalled by the Government as the result of a hostile campaign waged against him by the reactionary French press, was abused like an intruder, covered with insults and sarcasms, interrupted and mocked at every phrase, then at every word, finally chased off the platform, where he had had the useless courage to expose himself as in a pillory. Other comrades of the same tendency were not much better treated. Kamenev alone succeeded more or less in making himself heard, for his conciliatory manner, full of implications, seemed to indicate new possibilities. Nevertheless, the Opposition renewed its desperate efforts to avoid the inevitable.

In a declaration signed by 121 names and countersigned by another 52, the Opposition protested its loyalty and admitted responsibility for the lack of discipline: "We have no disagreement of principle with the Party." It denied having accused the Central Committee of Thermidorian deviations, promised to cease the fractional struggle, to dissolve its organisation, to be completely obedient in future and to propagate its opinions only within the limits laid down by statute. By this means it hoped to obtain the reinstatement of those who had been expelled and the release of the prisoners.

But everyone at the Congress was aware of a latent split in the fragile "Opposition bloc"; the G.P.U. had spies everywhere and was well informed through its censorship of correspondence. According to Trotsky, Zinoviev had already been considering "capitulation" for a year. Further, Stalin insisted on a complete surrender and the abjuration of all heresy, without reserve. On December 10th Ordjonikidze received two separate declarations of submission, one from Kamenev and others who renounced even their right to propagate their ideas legally, and one from Rakovsky and others who were not prepared to do this. On the 18th the expulsion of the 75 leading members of the Trotsky-Zinoviev group and of 23 members of the Sapronov group was voted unanimously. Immediately after, Rakovsky and his friends drew up a fresh declaration of their fidelity to Bolshevism: "Having been expelled from the Party we shall make every effort to return to it."

The Opposition "bloc" was at an end. Zinoviev and Kamenev Who had formed it "seriously and for a long time to come," also made a fresh declaration in which they retracted their most intimate convictions, confessed imaginary sins, endorsed the accusations made against them and disavowed their foreign comrades. "Deserters" in 1927 and "capitulators" in 1927, they crawled on their knees before Stalin, exactly as he had calculated that they would. Nevertheless, this mea culpa did not save them; the Congress postponed taking a definite decision on their fate for six months in order that they might give proofs of their conversion.

The Opposition having been put outside the law, if one can so express oneself with reference to a regime so completely illegal, the Congress had fulfilled the main task which Stalin had laid down for it. On all other points on the agenda it adopted resolutions put forward by persons in the Secretary's confidence, Rykov's and Krizhanovsky's "directives" on the Five Year economic plan among them. Neither the directors nor the directed understood as yet exactly how and when the plan could be realised, as seven variations of it were being examined. Unless it drew on those sources of revenue indicated by the despised Left, which would bring it into violent conflict with the peasant producers, or took steps to suppress private trade, which was going against the fundamental principles of the N.E.P., the Soviet State would be unable to find the means to finance industrialisation on the grand scale. At the same time, various technical and cultural problems, which could not be solved in five years, presented themselves. But no one wasted time on these considerations, since some had no voice in the proceedings and the rest relied on the conclusions of the experts.

The Congress automatically ratified along with everything else the double-faced foreign policy of the Politbureau, which was pacific, accommodating and compliant on the diplomatic side, and subversive, arrogant and disastrous on the side of the enslaved ex-International. Recent happenings had revived interest in China in a most sinister way: during the night of the 10th to the 11th of December—(its coincidence with the Congress clearly demonstrated its lack of spontaneity)—a local rising broke out in Canton. Stalin's agents fomented this action in order to provide their chief with news of a victory to use as an argument against the "pessimism of the Opposition." It was a revolutionary rearguard action, isolated, artificial and doomed to failure. The Canton Commune, surrounded by the military forces of the Kuomintang, only lasted forty-eight hours, and its downfall let loose an appalling carnage. More than 2,000 communists, or those who were supposed to be such, were massacred on the spot, or tortured. One of Stalin's emissaries to China, Lominadze, had reported to the Congress that approximately 30,000 Chinese workers had been put to death in the five months from April to August 1927. After the crazy uprising in Canton and the bloody repressions which resulted during the next few weeks, the most reliable estimates put at 100,000 the total of victims of the catastrophic policy pursued under orders from "Moscow." With Chinese communism practically annihilated, a handful of survivors, among whom was Chen Tu-hsiu, the ex-secretary, went over to the Opposition and were expelled. Thus ended a whole cycle of aberrations and adventures from which Stalin emerged utterly discredited as a theoretician and strategist of revolution, at the price of a hundred thousand human lives.

But no one in Russia understood the cause of the disaster, and those who knew, or who wished to know, were paralysed. Having defeated the Opposition, Stalin hastened to finish it off. He was only waiting for a pretext to apply Article 58 of the Code which dealt with counter-revolutionary crimes and misdemeanours. He was very soon to find this in two letters intercepted by the G.P.U., inoffensive documents in which the anonymous authors stigmatised the "treason" of the "capitulators" considered as a "fact of history"—large words for a beggarly recantation which was not difficult to predict.

On January 19, 1928, the press announced in veiled terms "the banishment from Moscow of the thirty most active members" of the Opposition, with Trotsky at their head. On the list of the proscribed were Radek, Preobrazhensky, Smilga, Serebriakov, I. Smirnov, Byeloborodov, Sosnovsky, Muralov, Sapronov, and V. Smirnov. Various others, such as Rakovsky, Boguslavsky and Drobnis, were "requested to leave Moscow." It was the deportation of the irreconcilables under a hypocritical guise. Hundreds, then thousands of arrests and dismissals followed in an effort to exhaust physically or to break the morale of those "traitors" who dared to take the name of Bolshevik-Leninists. One typical characteristic of post-Leninist Bolshevism: Zinoviev and Kamenev seized the same pretext as Stalin for denouncing the comrades of yesterday and begging indulgence from their masters by shamelessly treading the defeated underfoot. In their individual as in their international relations, Lenin's epigones passed with the utmost ease and with no intermediate stage from extreme humility before the strong to extreme arrogance towards the weak. Pravda let it be understood that these capitulators who had taken "the decisive step" would soon be restored to grace. As a contrast, the tribune and leader of the October Revolution, the organiser of the Red Army, took the road to exile, as he had done under Tsarism.


THE Opposition was defeated more by its own faults than anything else. The simple fact that Stalin tool; four years to bring it to its knees, shows how badly it made use of the resources it had acquired from the past, while remaining incapable of reserving anything for the future. Even if one believes, like Trotsky, that the outcome of the conflict was inevitable owing to the irresistible reflux of the revolutionary wave, an unsatisfactory and metaphorical explanation, yet a more conscious and better directed minority might have gained time and strength in order to intervene effectively. The original positions held by the Left in the Politbureau, the Central Committee, the Council of Commissars, the economic sphere, the army and diplomacy were by no means negligible, so long as they did not persist in attacking with their eyes shut the largest possible number of adversaries at one time, or in competing with the majority in orthodox Leninism. At least these positions provided an opportunity for some serious work of consolidation, to be undertaken without hope of immediate success, but while patiently awaiting the inevitable regroupment of forces. Instead of this, the Opposition sacrificed everything and threw everything away, only to finish by proclaiming its principled agreement with its persecutors.

This fundamental identity prevented them from making a bid for the active sympathy of the masses, "deceived in the hopes which the first days of the revolution had given them," as Buonarotti wrote of the French masses at the time when Babouvist ideology and the Conspiracy of Equals were being elaborated. In Russia under the Secretary, as in France under the Directory, the masses were "starving, without work, spending each day in a struggle to live till the next, languishing in a profound indifference: some of them even blamed the revolution for the countless evils that oppressed them." Trotsky, pushing the parallel with the French Revolution to its limit, compared himself in 1927 to a Babeuf who had not lost his head; by this honoured but out-of-date authority he sought to conceal his suicidal tactic. This historical example was not to his advantage, since his precursor had excuses for his equalitarian utopianism, inspired by antiquity, which a realistic disciple living a century and a quarter later, could not lay claim to. As an additional contradiction, Trotsky confirms the neo-Bolshevik doctrine of the unity of the Party, while the whole logic of his attitude drives him to ask for help from outside it—an unconscious justification for the persecutions under which his fraction disintegrated, denied their principles or went astray.

It seems as though the Opposition were unaware of one essential phenomenon: that the best men of the revolution had been absorbed into the minor, intellectual offices of the State, by reason of their capabilities, while the most mediocre, those who were useless in the domain of production, exchange, finance, teaching, etc., had become the buttresses of the Party, the "top layer" of Soviet society, by reason of their political prerogatives. Lenin had already been alarmed by these facts when he commented on "the lack of culture in the leading cadres of communists," who were not even aware of their own ignorance. Every Bolshevik who showed himself unfit for responsibility in one of the vital spheres of work, finished up by finding a place in the hierarchy of the secretaries. Thus a process of natural selection was already taking place, even before Stalin took control of it for his own ends, and this became more and more accentuated as the needs of the national economy became more pressing. A division of function very quickly produces a social differentiation as a result of material favours being added to civic privileges. Trotsky did not show clear-sightedness in respecting the new dominant caste of parasites as if it constituted a permanent élite.

There is some resemblance between this formalistic respect for the Party and Robespierre's deference towards the Convention in Thermidor. Trotsky even repeated his French predecessor's mistake in unnecessarily alienating, by vague and hidden threats, those whom he should have reassured, won over or rendered neutral. In both cases the actual power of empirical politicians, by a cynical combination of force and astuteness, won a victory over doctrinaires, ill-provided with common sense. Trotsky, although always prompt to refer to the Thermidorian precedent, preferred not to dwell on this aspect of things. Neither did he realise how closely the Bolshevik Left were related to the Jacobins who, in the year II, succumbed to a coalition which included the Maratists, the "enragés" and the future Equalitarians, together with a mixed pack of demagogues, moderates, speculators and terrorists. On the other hand, he, who was unable to learn from the teachings of history, nevertheless drew exaggerated, superficial or contradictory parallels with Thermidor, in order to construct a rigid scheme which finally misled the Oppositionists.

In 1921 he visualised the N.E.P. as a sort of auto-Thermidorianism, salutary if kept within bounds. In 1923 he denounced as inconsistent the implicit hypothesis of a Thermidor among the other historical analogies with the French Revolution. From 1926 onwards he became disquieted by the menacing Thermidorian perspectives, and the 7th November 1927, seemed to him a repetition of Thermidor. In exile his views became more dubious and conditional. But in October 1928 he deduced that unless the Opposition had a place in the Government, the Right would enter directly, and Stalin circuitously, "on the Thermidorian-Bonapartist road." In December of the same year he accused the Politbureau of "preparing a Thermidor, the more dangerous because unconscious," and declared: "For six years we have lived in the U.S.S.R. under conditions of a growing reaction against October, and in this way are clearing the way for Thermidor." In his My Life, written in exile in 1930, he wrote without equivocation: "With us, Thermidor has been very long drawn out. At least for a little while, intrigue has taken the place of the guillotine." Finally, to complete the muddle, he denies all his previous reiterations, in order to teach a lesson to the Leftists of the "Democratic Centralism" Group who were too inclined to follow them to the letter, and asserts that the Soviet Thermidor is not an affair of the past or the present, but a question of the future. He thus avoids giving a clear answer to a question which he himself boldly posed before he shrouded it in obscurity.

Without going further into the large number of variations, which it is not necessary to describe in detail, nor into the undoubted similarities between the two post-revolutionary situations, it is, however, essential to bring their vital differences into relief, in order that the subject may be fully understood. As Marx noted in another connection: "Happenings which are strikingly analogous but which occur in different historic milieux, often produce totally different results." In France, the direct economic consequences of Thermidor were the end of requisitioning, of the taxation and rationing of prime necessities, the annulling of the maximum and of the law allowing suspects to be dispossessed, the decrees of Ventôse. In Russia exactly the opposite effects began to be felt, following on the deportation of the "ungovernables." On the political plane, Thermidor meant the abolition of the Committee of Public Safety, the dilution and dispersion of the power in favour of the Consulate, and, after the recall of the Girondins and the partial return of the émigrés, it led to the White terror. In Russia, on the contrary, the power became more concentrated, the Dictatorship of the Secretariat was reinforced, and the regime could only maintain itself by a fresh outbreak of Red terror.

In truth, the year 1928 shows a marked recrudescence of police oppression both in the Party and the State. Stalin struck unceasingly both at the Left and the Right whenever the least objection was raised. As Fouché suppressed the "remains of Robespierre," so he attacked the remnants of Trotskyism first. The G.P.U., no longer held in check, discovered traitors in all directions, and when it could find none it invented them. The demoralised Opposition disintegrated, and the majority of its supporters in Leningrad capitulated in small groups. Yaroslavsky's statistics calculated that by February 1st, 5,755 had been accused of deviations, 3,258 had been expelled and 3,381 had capitulated individually. There is no record of the numbers imprisoned and deported. Trotsky noted in his recollections: "Krupskaya once said in 1927 that if Lenin were alive he would probably be in a Stalinist prison. I think she was right." On the last day of February, Pyatakov, the best known of the Opposition leaders after Trotsky, recanted in his turn. "One of the pillars of Trotskyism," as the communist press said, had collapsed. One month later, Krestinsky and Antonov-Ovseenko also abandoned their comrades in misfortune and did penance. The decomposition of the traditional Left had begun.

Ever since Brest-Litovsk in 1918, the moment when the majority of the Central Committee were for him, Trotsky had been gradually losing his supporters through a long series of internal crises. At the time of the Kronstadt affair in 1921 he still had nearly half the leading circle at his side. During Lenin's illness in 1923, an imposing fraction remained faithful to him despite the earlier defection of Bukharin, Dzerzhinsky, Andreyev and others. After the Fifteenth Congress, Zinoviev and Kamenev abandoned him, together with their followers. During the interval he had broken with old rebels such as Bubnov and Rosengoltz, as well as with recent ones, such as Krupskaya and Sokolnikov. He had lost his support from the army and his followers among the youth. Sapronov's group broke away from the main fraction for other reasons. The defection of Pyatakov, Krestinsky and Antonov at the beginning of 1928 was a split in the fundamental nucleus.

After each of these incidents, Trotsky attempted to console himself by saying that revolution is a great destroyer of men. He heaped praises on his comrades in arms before their defection, and spared them no reproach after, but he never paused to assess his own responsibility. The truth was that if the turncoats were able to change from one camp to another with such ease, it was because only a short distance lay between them. Many Bolshevik-Leninists were unable to see anything fundamental enough in their divergencies with the Leninist-Bolsheviks, to make suffering and adversity worth enduring. The special psychology of Bolshevism also helps to explain these sudden turns which at first sight seem so disconcerting. One knows that for Lenin's disciples, the end justifies the means. The ethical notions to which all revolutionary schools subscribe, were not current in the higher ranks of this Party, except in the form of literature. Thomas More beheaded, Giordano Bruno burnt alive, Campanella tortured—these are examples of heroic constancy which might be praised but should not be followed. The plain fear of being rejected by the patrician caste of Bolsheviks, of sinking among the plebeians of the Soviet, was sufficient to shake the weaker ones. The risk of uselessly exposing their innocent families to cruel reprisals sometimes broke the resolution of the strongest. But the Opposition only became indignant against this monstrous abuse of the "police knout" in those cases when its own members were the victims.

For Stalin allowed to no one the exclusive role of martyr. He treated difficulties of all kinds by the same methods. In an effort to cauterise the sores of industry, he attacked the technicians and the functionaries, whom the G.P.U. accused of "economic counter-revolution," misconduct, sabotage, spying, and high treason by preparing for a military intervention on the part of France and Poland, champions of the expropriated Russian bourgeoisie. According to these accusations it would appear that a widespread conspiracy, lasting five or six years, had been able, with impunity, to ravage the Donetz coalfield, flooding the pits destroying machinery, embezzling the funds, ill-treating the personnel, even beating up the workers, unknown to any of the Soviet institutions, trade union or governmental, economic or political, administrative or police. The worst enemies of Bolshevism never levelled a severer accusation against the regime. The idea was to stage a trial amid terrific publicity, which, by its resounding death sentences, would terrify all the intellectuals in the State service, and exculpate the apparatus, which was responsible for the catastrophe. In the "Shakhty affair" the people were presented, for the first time, with the astonishing spectacle of fifty accused who seemed more anxious to convince the judges of the gravity of their crimes than to extenuate them. By what methods of interrogation and procedure did the G.P.U. obtain these astonishing and all too impressive results? No one was to know exactly until later but already it was possible to form an approximate idea.

This dismal parody of justice, carried through in the supposed interests of an ailing industry, was matched by fresh troubles in the domain of agriculture, where Stalin also made use of harsh measures of constraint. During the winter, foodstuffs were scarce in the towns because the peasants stored their harvests rather than sell them to the State at the low price offered. The shops, co-operatives and warehouses were denuded of their stocks in order to provide food, but still supply and demand remained unequal, and an extreme scarcity resulted. Extraordinary measures were necessary to feed the Red Army and the centres of production: communists were mobilised for expeditions and requisitions in the villages, cereals were requisitioned by violence and peasants arbitrarily arrested. The number of assassinations corresponded to the crimes and misdeeds of the tax and food collectors. The Congress of the Soviets was adjourned to the following year. Stocks of rye were purchased from Canada. In the spring, when the famine danger had receded, but only as a result of brutal measures, a fresh menace appeared: the peasants, despoiled, molested and discouraged, cut down their sowing so as not to produce any excess over their own needs. War to the knife was declared between the bureaucratic State and the rural population, for although the Party only denounced the malignity of the kulaks, the entire peasant population stood together against the enemy. Stalin who had quite failed to foresee this critical situation attacked it with his usual energy. Most unwillingly, and only at the eleventh hour, he began to apply some scraps of the programme of the Left which he had rejected. "The machine sometimes gets out of control.... The machine does not work exactly, and often not at all, as the man at the wheel expects," as Lenin once said.

In April 1928, Stalin announced the naked truth before an audience of functionaries: decrease in the wheat harvest, scarcity of goods, inadequate industry, and technical backwardness of agriculture, which was on too small a scale and too primitive. In place of the 18 millions of peasant enterprises existing before the revolution, ten years after it there were 25 millions, and the process of subdivision was still going on. Conclusion: the development of large-scale rural enterprises must be pushed to its limit, sovkhoz (Soviet State farms) and kolkhoz (collective farms) must be developed into "grain factories," a perspective which implied a more resolute class struggle against the kulaks and speculators, pioneers of capitalist economy.

From the depths of Siberia, Turkestan and Kazakstan, the Oppositionists applauded this "turn to the left" as a confirmation of their theories. Animated discussions were carried on, verbally and by letter, as to the attitude to be taken up to the new position. Stalin purposely allowed those in deportation a relative freedom of expression in order to keep himself informed on their state of mind and to make use of their disagreements. He learned thus that Radek, Preobrazhensky, Smilga, Serebriakov and various others thought of giving in and asking to be reinstated in the bosom of the Party which had now turned towards their ideas. While still carrying on repression everywhere, he did his utmost to stir up discord among the exiles by means of intermediaries. But a fresh crisis was developing in the Politbureau, which threatened his personal dictatorship. The harsh emergency measures during the winter, which had violated the agricultural Code, and resulted in renewed War Communism, had alarmed the Right, who wished to preserve the N.E.P. and fought against the turn to the Left. Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky were no negligible opponents since Voroshilov and Kalinin supported them. Against this new majority Stalin could count for certain only on Molotov. The two unclassified members, Rudzutak and Kuibyshev, were generally supposed to be waiting on events, before throwing their weight on the stronger side, but the truth was that certain bureaucratic complications at that time kept them temporarily out of the discussions. The Party, the International, and the public both within and without, were ignorant of all this, since nothing leaked out from the Central Committee, which, in its session of April 1928, had been unanimous in its decisions. Lenin's inheritor was face to face with his final test.

His tactics consisted, as they always did in such circumstances, in marking time, avoiding any open conflict until such time as he had a majority in the Politbureau, even in satisfying the new Opposition by words, which he did willingly so long as he retained freedom to act as he wished. In his aforementioned speech, he soothed the Right on the N.E.P. question: "It would be foolish to speak of ... suppressing the N.E.P., of a return of food requisitioning, etc. Only enemies of the Soviet power could think of this. No one draws greater advantages from the N.E.P. than the Soviet power." At the Fifteenth Congress Molotov had also declared: "On what road must we continue to advance towards socialism? No one can have any doubts on this question. It must be on the road of the N.E.P. and unity with the peasants." An editorial in Pravda on April 12, 1928, demonstrated the perfect accord in the Government. "Only counter-revolutionary liars could talk of suppressing the N.E.P."

But in other directions Stalin prescribed in his circulars "the building of socialism" on the countryside, and the more rapid fusion of small family or individual holdings into large holdings cultivated in common, despite the fact that Molotov had said at a recent Congress: "We must certainly not forget that in the coming years our agriculture will develop principally in the form of small peasant enterprise." Secretaries of parties cannot control evolution, although they have authority over men. "The machine gets out of control...." One contradiction more or less mattered little to Stalin, whose great gift was for hanging on.

This man, who was reputed to be taciturn, let himself go at that time in frequent and prolix speeches. In May, at the Communist Youth Congress, he returned again to one of the main themes of his April report, "self-criticism," the special liberty to censure oneself and make periodic confessions, thus encouraging mutual revelations everywhere but among "the tops," which meant that the dictators became invulnerable. In June he again spoke about agriculture to an audience of students: the "normal" sowing of pre-War days had been reached in 1928, he affirmed, in fact in cereals it had been exceeded by 5 milliards of poods, approximately 81 million tons. (The following year Rykov established that the said harvest had in fact fallen from 96 million to 73 million tons, for a population which had increased from 138 millions to 154 millions, a considerable drop in the relative average, and that the sown corn-lands had diminished by sixteen per cent per head.) In a letter published on June 12th, he appears to attack abuses of his instructions committed by subordinates who were in too great a hurry to confiscate all the belongings of the kulaks: "Dekulakisation under our conditions is lunacy."

In July, after an ordinary session of the Central Committee which passed a resolution tending to encourage individual agricultural enterprises, "which will be the basis of wheat production for a long time to come," he admitted in a report to Leningrad "administrative despotism, violation of revolutionary legality, searching of homes, illegal perquisitions, etc., which have worsened the political situation in the country," and promised "the immediate liquidation of any renewal of food requisitioning or of attempts to close the markets," which meant a continuation of the N.E.P. After these intentional concessions to the Right, he made a mysterious reference to "certain comrades" who wished to favour light industry at the expense of heavy industry, and to "those who do not understand" the official policy. In Party circles these veiled references were understood to convey a warning. Only the best-informed understood to what and whom Stalin referred. But information was secretly whispered and soon became well known.

On July 11, 1928, Bukharin and Kamenev had a secret interview arranged by Sokolnikov. The same evening Kamenev dispatched an account of the conversations, completed by some Of his own reflections, to Zinoviev, doing penance at Voronezh. Six months later the Trotskyists secretly published these revealing documents. Thus Bukharin, in spite of himself, makes a truthful and sincere contribution to Stalin's biography, the most noteworthy after Trotsky's evidence. His words, recorded by Kamenev often literally, throw a brilliant light on diverse obscure points.


SOKOLNIKOV was the first to tell Kamenev of "the final rupture between Bukharin and Stalin." In addition, Voroshilov and Kalinin had "betrayed" the Right, which was rendered powerless in the Politbureau. The two chief figures, searching for reinforcements for the future, would doubtless turn to Zinoviev and Kamenev, whom Stalin boasted of "having in his pocket." "In this tragic situation," Bukharin asked for an interview.

An hour later, at Kamenev's house, the foremost theoretician of the Party gave the impression of being "at bay"; his lips trembled with emotion"; he was terrified of carrying on him anything "in writing." Why? "Do not let anyone know of our meeting. Do not telephone; it is overheard.The G.P.U. is following me and watching you also." He expects the Stalinists to make advances to the Left, including the Trotskyists, and wishes to keep his interlocutor informed. His disconnected and feverish story would hardly be comprehensible outside a very close circle of initiates; it is sometimes necessary to reverse the order so as to give it some kind of coherence, quoting actual topical allusions and making a resume of the rest.

"We consider Stalin's line fatal to the revolution. This line is leading us to the abyss. Our disagreements with Stalin are far, far more serious than those we have with you." He regrets that Zinoviev and Kamenev are no longer in the Politbureau.

"For several weeks I have refused to speak to Stalin. He is an unprincipled intriguer who subordinates everything to his appetite for power. At any given moment he will change his theories in order to get rid of someone." Relations have become bitter to the point of insults. If Stalin pretends to retreat, it is only so that he may the better grip his opponents by the throat. "He manoeuvres so that we appear as splitters." A significant fact: when Bukharin had to read a declaration to the Politbureau, he had to take great care not to let the manuscript leave his hands, because "you cannot trust him with the smallest document."

The Right theoretician attempts to define Stalin's "line." "Capitalism has developed through its colonies, through loans, and by exploiting the workers. We have no colonies and no loans, so our basis must be tribute paid by the peasants." This is equivalent to Preobrazhensky's thesis, he says indignantly. According to Stalin, "the more socialism grows, the stronger will grow the resistance" (which Bukharin describes as "idiotic illiteracy") and as a result "a firm leadership is necessary." Self-criticism must not approach the leaders but compromise the Opposition. "This results in a police regime."

In foreign affairs Stalin's policy is further to the Right than the Right itself. "He has succeeded in expelling the Communist International from the Kremlin." At the time of the Donetz trial (in which German engineers were implicated) "he did not demand any capital punishments." In discussions with foreign powers, Stalin always gives way. "This line is disastrous but he allows no opportunity for discussing it." The leitmotiv throughout is: "He will suffocate us."

"Us" means Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky, supported by Uglanov, Secretary of the Moscow Committee. The higher functionaries in Leningrad "are mainly with us, but they are terrified when we speak of removing Stalin," so they oscillate without being able to make up their minds. "Andreyev is with us, but he is being removed from the Urals. Stalin bought the Ukrainians by withdrawing Kaganovich from Ukraine...Yagoda and Trilisser are with us. There have been 150 small rebellions. Voroshilov and Kalinin funked at the last minute.... Stalin has some special hold on them that I do not know of.... The Orgbureau is with us." Nevertheless the majority of the Central Committee do not yet realise how grave the peril is. And Stalin is working to replace Uglanov by Kaganovich and to regain control of the Moscow and Leningrad Pravdas which are edited by Rightists. Bukharin has already discounted Ordjonikidze's co-operation. "Serge is without courage. He came to me abusing Stalin in the most violent fashion, but at the decisive moment he betrayed us."

The conversation touches at intervals on the food problem. The Politbureau would again have to take extraordinary measures to procure cereals in October: "It means War Communism and shipwreck." With Stalin and his "obtuse" supporter, Molotov, "nothing can be done." But what does the Right suggest? "The kulaks can be hunted down at will, but we must conciliate the middle peasants."

At the forthcoming Congress of the International, Bukharin was to present and comment on a projected theoretical programme: "Stalin has messed up the programme for me in dozens of places. He wanted to read a report on this subject to the Central Committee himself. I had great difficulty in preventing him. He is eaten up with the vain desire to become a well-known theoretician. He feels that it is the only thing he lacks."

In despairing tones the narrator asks himself whether all is not already hopelessly lost. "What can be done?" he asks several times. He compares Stalin to Genghiz Khan, and says that whether the Right intervene or whether they refrain, he fears they will be "strangled." Faced by this gloomy perspective, a last-minute lucidity inspires him: "The Party and the State have become one: this is the misfortune." Stalin, who is leading the country "to famine and ruin," will accuse the Right of defending the kulaks and speculators. "Stalin is only interested in power. While giving way he has kept hold of the leadership, and later he will strangle us. What is to be done? Psychological conditions in the Central Committee for dismissing Stalin are ripening but they are not yet ripe.... Stalin knows only vengeance ... the dagger in the back. We must remember his theory of sweet revenge." (One summer night in 1923, opening his heart to Dzerzhinsky and Kamenev, Stalin is supposed to have said, "To choose one's victim, to prepare one's plans minutely, to slake an implacable vengeance, and then to go to bed.... There is nothing sweeter in the world.")

After this discomforting reminiscence, Bukharin relates the most recent happenings. He had demanded that a resolution to be submitted to the Central Committee should be examined collectively. Stalin refused and then tried to coax him: "Bukharin, old fellow, you would really unnerve an elephant." Nevertheless, neither would give in. Bukharin insisted and Stalin invited him to talk it over, flattering him: "You and I are the Himalayas, the rest are unimportant." But later, in the Politbureau, a "savage scene" took place. Stalin started to "shout," Bukharin repeated the "Himalaya" metaphor and Stalin cried: "You lie! You invented that in order to rouse the members of the Politbureau against me." After this the decisions which were unanimously adopted favoured the "anti-Leninist" Right, but as always, were only on paper. Stalin believes that he is indispensable and attacks Bukharin, but he is leading the revolution to ruin. Industrialisation will inevitably lead to famine. "Stalin's policy is leading us to civil war. He will be forced to drown the rebellions in blood...."

Through these disjointed confidences, shot through with occasional well-known truths, one can discern nothing of the old Party of Lenin. The degeneration which had been taking place for a long time had now become complete degradation. The faults which always existed in the Bolshevik Party in embryo, and which were so repugnant to Plekhanov, Martov and Trotsky, had now developed to the point of crushing any respect for the individual, any ethical or scientific scruple, and all sentiment of human and social dignity.

Stalin had now reached the point of having his closest colleagues spied on, though the latter nevertheless made use of Yagoda and Trilisser, Menzhinsky's two assistants at the G.P.U., who had come over to the Right as the result of 150 peasant insurrections in six months. (Similarly, a collision in Moscow in June 1928 between unemployed and militiamen, following the pillaging of several shops, had given the Chekists food for thought.) In the Politbureau, arguments had been replaced by sordid trickery and coarse offensiveness. On both sides the adversaries lent themselves to unprincipled combinations with those whom they had tried to discredit, for at the same time that Bukharin was sounding out the capitulators, Stalin was intriguing with the banished fraction, bargaining, tricking and finally withdrawing. Both sides had appropriated some portion of the dismembered Opposition's programme, the Right the democratic demands, and Stalin the economic plans. The Politbureau dictated to the G.P.U. and the courts the sentences they were to pass in important cases. If Stalin had been relatively restrained over the Donetz affair, it was not from mildness but from diplomatic fear of Germany, who would protect her nationals. Although the Right had a majority, the General Secretary could freely disregard decisions which had been taken in opposition to his wishes. "Do not think that the Politbureau is merely a consultative organ to the General Secretary," Bukharin said to him one day, but without making any difference to the state of affairs.

What was the "special hold" that Stalin had over Voroshilov and Kalinin? Certainly he had access to all the police records and dossiers through Menzhinsky; he knew some people's pasts and the present history of others, but even this does not explain all his exploits. The explanation is to be found in the incredible anecdote of "the Himalayas." Stalin flattered or slandered grossly in private conversations, stirred up hatred among his satellites, caused the best friends to quarrel, put words into people's mouths that they had never used, and won over the uncertain by insinuations, lies, provocations and threats. We know this through Bukharin, and other sources confirm it: anecdotes on this theme were rife everywhere. All the suspicions of his criminality; aroused in his youth at Tiflis and Baku, both when he was in prison and at liberty, by the curious coincidences which occurred and by his underhand manoeuvres, were confirmed by time and experience. However low and vulgar his oriental method of dividing in order to rule, it produced some astonishing results in the Politbureau, where a majority vote at the decisive hour gave him freedom of action for a long time.

He made use of the same weapons against the new Opposition as he had against the old: recalls, displacements, nominations—the "bureaucratic knout" until the time came for the "police knout." At the "Congress" of the servile International, which sat for forty-five days in July and August, he did not deign to put in an appearance, but allowed Bukharin to discourse to his heart's content. There did not appear to be any difference between the two policies.

Particularly on foreign policy, Stalin expressed the same views as both the Right and the Left. In July 1928 he said that "the essential problem ... is the struggle between Britain and America far world domination," a plagiarism from Trotsky, and predicted a breakdown of the unstable equilibrium between "the Soviet and the capitalist worlds." He always kept up the fiction that Europe and America thought of nothing but attacking Russia. In August, his mouth-pieces vigorously denounced the 1928 Pact "renouncing war" as being a war-like manoeuvre against the U.S.S.R. "The Kellogg Pact is an integral part of the war preparations against the Soviet Union," declared Chicherin among others. Shortly afterwards, the Council of Commissars, at the command of the Politbureau, ratified the "imperialist" document.

From September onwards, the Party press began to hint vaguely at a danger from the Right. But Bukharin was still allowed to publish in October his Observations of an Economist, urging the need to form reserves, not to force the pace of industrialisation too rapidly, nor to invest excessively in heavy industry, to take the material resources into consideration when making plans for construction, etc. Stalin affirmed in a speech: "There is neither a Left nor a Right in the Politbureau. I can say that here in all frankness" (sic). But in a circular letter to the Central Committee he spoke of opportunist deviations in the Moscow Committee, and sanctions swiftly followed. Various functionaries were dismissed from their posts, including a certain Riutin, noted in the past for his violent persecution of the Left. The following month Uglanov was forced to resign. The Right took these blows without flinching, following the example of previous oppositions as though resigned to suffering the same fate.

Nevertheless, its leaders conceived a curious and misguided tactic to clear themselves of all suspicion of heresy and to defeat Stalin's manoeuvres. They produced theses and resolutions against their own tendency, for submission to the Central Committee, called for November. Another account by Bukharin is in place here, transcribed and published like the other by the diligent efforts of the Trotskyists.

While on a visit in the Caucasus, the unhappy author of The A.B.C. of Communism became alarmed by the "stupidities" of Uglanov, who was already preparing to recognise his errors, and by Rykov's isolation in Moscow:

Not being able to arrive in time for the next session of the Politbureau, I took an aeroplane. At Rostov we were stopped. The local authorities received me queerly, implying that flying was not good for me, etc. I wished them in hell, and we went on. At Artemovsk we landed again. I was hardly out of the cabin when I was handed a sealed letter from the Politbureau with a categoric order to put an end to the flight on the pretext of the state of my heart. Before I had time to pull myself together, G.P.U. agents had led my pilot away and I was faced by a workers' delegation demanding a conference. I inquired the times of trains; nothing before the next day. There was nothing for it but to have the conference.

Arrived in Moscow after this tragi-comic Odyssey, Bukharin and his supporters formulated a list of demands, which Stalin feigned to accept at once. A commission was set up to put them into action, but the wily Secretary did not call it together, and by this means he gained three days. Under the veil of unanimity in the Central Committee then in session, the Right presented him with an ultimatum. Violent disputes broke out behind the scenes and the three leaders of the Right resigned. According to Rykov, Stalin received their statement "with trembling hands. He was pale and said he was prepared to give in." This was merely pretence, let it be understood. These trifles shed more light on the state of men and things than all the literature, solid, pretentious and indigestible, which is turned out by the yard to deceive public opinion.

Other conversations, reproduced by the same sources, show the opinions of outstanding people on Stalin and his entourage. Pyatakov, who advised the Right not to do battle, observed: "Stalin is the only man we must obey, for fear of getting worse. Bukharin and Rykov deceive themselves in thinking that they would govern in Stalin's place. Kaganovich and such would succeed him, and I cannot and will not obey a Kaganovich." Kalinin, a shame-faced Rightist, used these actual words when speaking of Stalin: "He chatters about veering to the Left, but in a short space of time he will have to apply my policy threefold; that is why I support him...." Amid inextricable conspiracies, consultations, comings and goings and minor intrigues, Zinoviev and Kamenev abased themselves by importunate prayers, in the hopes of improving their rank in the bureaucracy. Ordjonikidze listened to them, offered to intervene, made constant promises, but never obtained anything. What equivocal game was this other sly Georgian playing, with his sympathy for all splitters and condolences for all unfortunates! "Ordjonikidze told me in 1925 to write against Stalin," Zinoviev stated before his expulsion. Bukharin considered him a coward. Krupskaya explicitly warned against him. The most plausible hypothesis seems that he was the conscious instrument of Stalin's Machiavellism.

This was the atmosphere, these the realities behind the austere facade. At the Plenary Session of the Central Committee in November, Stalin pronounced yet one more discourse on the "industrialisation of the country and the Rightest deviation." Repeating Lenin, he went back to Peter the Great and paraphrased a classic passage from a pamphlet published on the eve of October: "We must catch up and surpass the most advanced countries, or perish. Full steam ahead or we perish." Thus he justified the tense financial effort shown by the increase of the subsidies to industry to 1,650 million roubles for the current financial year. (The Left, accused of industrial demagogy, had not asked for half that.) On the burning question of cereals he said nothing new, merely wrangling for a long time with Frumkin, a Rightist, who said that agriculture in the U.S.S.R. was in jeopardy. He demanded that collective enterprises be developed and individual cultivation stimulated, both at the same time; an insoluble contradiction arising out of the compromise adopted at the Politbureau. Finally, while denying the existence of a deviation to the Right in the Party, he devoted half his comments to it, and concluded: "On the Politbureau we are, and shall remain, united to the end."

This gratuitous assertion resolved none of the outstanding problems, neither that of wheat nor any of the others. The year 1928 finished as badly as it had begun, if not worse. In December the famine made itself felt even in Moscow, which nevertheless occupied a favoured position. Soviet economy had reached a fresh impasse. The interdependence of stunted industry and backward agriculture brought corroboration to the theories of any opposition, whether of the Left or the Right.

On the countryside, forced "bargaining," a recent introduction, State buying of the harvest on the spot at a non-remunerative price, and a fresh agricultural tax on the kulaks, had not made good the deficit in the winter stores. The obstinate peasants buried the grain, or refused to sow it. Others took up technical cultivation which was more lucrative. An unnatural and unforeseen phenomenon was that a number of mujiks, hounded by the militia, went to the towns to buy their rye flour, in order to profit by the fixed scale of prices, which was often five times less than the market price. Avid speculators exploited the differences in prices. Local famines caused an outbreak of brigandage. The stubborn peasant resistance flamed into revolt against the insatiable police State, and the "Red Cock," secular symbol of the Jacquerie, sprang to life everywhere on the communal ishas, the village soviets and the barns of the sovkhoz and kolkhoz. A ferocious guerilla war was waged against rural journalist-informers, hated functionaries, and honest communists whose zeal carried them too far. Statistics of attacks, murders and burnings increased from day to day.

In the towns, rationing, bread cards, endless queues outside shops, privation and insecurity, growing unemployment and the fall in real wages, the constant decline of the rouble and the constant rise in the cost of living, all gave the lie to Stalin's optimism. Industry produced bad goods at exorbitant cost price, and always ran at a loss. The seven-hour day was still nothing but a fraud, like most of the legislation for the workers. Everything was lacking except vodka, which ravaged the working class. Against this background of material and physical misery, a sharp moral crisis was corrupting the youth and undermining Soviet society, prostrate beneath the knout. The press pointed to an alarming increase in prostitution, and the growth of antisemitism. The depravity and criminality engendered by poverty, drunkenness and bureaucratic oppression had grown to such proportions in 1927 and 1928 that the official records could no longer suppress them, since a "flood of scandals" had tarnished the reputation of the Party. "Thefts, lies, violence, cheating, unheard-of abuse of power, unlimited arbitrariness, drunkenness, debauchery, everyone speaks of these as facts that have been admitted for months and years, tolerated, no one knows why." Thus wrote Rakovsky on the liabilities of this retrograde regime, which announced its ambition of building socialism in a single country in order to set up there a civilisation without parallel.


BUT as the granaries emptied the prisons filled. Stalin began the year 1929 with a round-up of approximately 300 communists suspected of "illegal Trotskyist organisation," and charged with "anti-Soviet actions." Only half of these were mentioned in the press. Nothing restrained him any more, now that he had collected five votes in the Politbureau. Before dislodging the Right he intended to sweep out the remains of the Left. The dismembered Opposition reckoned that at that time, between 2,000 and 3,000 of its members were in captivity, but this approximate figure was later raised to 5,000. Among those detained were Stalin's old Caucasian comrades: Mdivani, Kavtaradze, Okudjava, and even Koté Tsintsadze, once the hero of the expropriations. If Kamo had not been the victim of an ordinary street accident in Tiflis in 1922, he would no doubt have shared the same fate as so many of the original revolutionaries who had rebelled against servile bureaucratism. Police operations were crowned in February by Trotsky's exile to Turkey, the only country which would agree to harbour him. The Right, behind the closed doors of the Politbureau, voted against Stalin's "sweet revenge," but this platonic gesture from the minority had no concrete value. It had let its hour go by.

Freed from the "super-industrialists," Stalin hastened on with super-industrialisation. He no longer had any choice: pressure from the peasants forced him to radical action. There was shortage of bread, and in order to obtain a sufficiency for the future, the State had to set up its own "grain factories." In a circular published on January 1st, the Central Committee urged its thousands of subordinate committees "to reinforce the socialist sector of mass economy ... to develop the kolkhoz and the sovkhoz ... to take the offensive against capitalist elements." Collectivisation of agriculture, an unexpected but inevitable corollary of increased industrialisation, called for appropriate machinery, tractors, steel, petrol. Enlarged industrial production called for factories, equipment, modern constructions. Everything hung together, wood, oil, iron, cement, naphtha, electricity, transport. To obtain the indispensable aid from abroad, it was necessary to export raw materials to pay for technicians and tools. It was therefore essential to co-ordinate all the elements of economic activity into a general plan to suit the circumstances. Stalin, who had despised Trotsky's "plan-making," now found himself forced, in self-defence, to put the Five Year Plan, still in the exploratory stage, into execution. Arguing against the Left, he had predicted in 1925 that "the future development of our industry, will probably not be so rapid as up to the present," and he fought against the "industrialist deviation" by demonstrating that too rapid progress "will certainly ruin us.., undermine our currency ... inevitably lead to ... a great increase in the price of agricultural produce, a fall in real salaries and an artificially-produced famine." Nevertheless he went forward amid all these perils.

In February 1929, following the "brilliant success of the second industrial loan," the press announced the irresistible desire of the proletariat to subscribe to a third issue. By a miracle, each of these efforts corresponded exactly to the calculations already made by the Gosplan and the Finance Commission. From March onwards, still with the same remarkable spontaneity, workers began to form themselves into "shock brigades," Issuing "challenges" to one another to speed up production in the name of "socialist competition." The newspapers were full of figures, percentages, coefficients, diagrams and comparative tables. Platforms and loud-speakers rang with slogans and appeals. Assemblies, conferences and congresses of all kinds echoed and amplified them. It was essential to "catch up with and surpass" Europe and America, and even to bring about complete socialism, a classless society, almost immediately.

To these methods of persuasion, which aroused the sporting spirit of a part of the naive and ignorant youth, who were captivated by the scope of the task and the grandeur of the ultimate aim, Stalin added the pressure of his ultimate argument: in May, three of the most eminent Russian technicians, von Mekk, Velichko and Palchinsky, were tried without witnesses, condemned without proofs and executed without comment. The G.P.U. accused old men of seventy and seventy-five of all kinds of counter-revolutionary activity in the railways, and gold and platinum mines, with the aim of overthrowing the Soviet power and aiding foreign military intervention. How an engineer in the auriferous district of Siberia could foment counter-revolution and encourage a non-existent invasion, it is difficult to understand. But the G.P.U. had power of life and death over the subjects of the "socialist fatherland" without being called on to submit proofs. And Stalin felt that it was necessary to use these exemplary punishments in order to inspire the leading personnel of industry with salutary terror. For him also, the famous epigram, "bloodletting is a necessary part of political doctoring," was true.

"The Government has not yet approved any Five Year Plan," Molotov had declared in February, commenting on a suggestion for estimating future progress and comparing it with the present rate: "Cast-iron and steel have not yet reached the pre-War level.... with a few exceptions (coal and sugar), the Soviet Union's share in world production is still below what it was." The imposture of the Tenth Anniversary announcements on the economic restoration of Russia, having thus been admitted by one of the imposters, he goes on to praise the "general line" of the Party and to attack again the already prostrate body of Trotskyism and, finally, the deviation of the Right. In April, the Central Committee adopted further theses from the Politbureau on the Plan. In May, the Council of Commissars ratified the "optimum version," the Sixteenth Congress accepted it, and finally, the Fifth Soviet Congress consecrated it. The Five Year Plan, already more or less in application before surmounting all these bureaucratic hazards, then ceased to be a means and became an immediate end and the ruling idea of the regime.

Following the adoption of this "historic" resolution, of "world importance," as the Soviet press was fond of saying on any and every occasion, the bureaucracy evolved fresh innovations and novelties with the aim of "speeding-up the rhythm" in order to realise the grandiose piatiletka in four years instead of five. After "work without pauses," devised in order to get the most out of the material, came the five-day week, which meant a reform of the calendar, the suppression of Sundays and religious holidays. There followed a flood of decrees of "capital" importance, according to their promoters. "Shock brigades" went to the villages to lead the "socialist offensive" against private property. Stalin presently decided to "suppress the kulaks as a class," he who, six months earlier, had expressly encouraged individual enterprises and had written the year before, "Dekulakisation under our conditions is lunacy." Military language corresponded to the methods of the time; frequent "mobilisations" Of "shock troops," "attacks" on all "fronts," "conquests" of "strong-points" by "detachments and brigades"; all that this vocabulary meant was that workers, galvanised by frenzied propaganda, threatened with penalties, and stimulated by bonuses, had hewed coal, melted steel or cultivated the land. "Russian government consists in barrack discipline in place of the normal order of a city, a state of siege has become the normal state of society," stated Custine once, probably not realising how long this would remain the case, and that a century later it would still be true.

The banished Opposition could have disavowed any responsibility for this return to War Communism. But, on the contrary, it hailed the first signs as a "step to the Left," and the final arrangements fixed in 1929, as a true march to socialism, inspired by its own ideas. In this state of mind, those Oppositionists who had already been tempted to "turn towards the Party," now thought only of getting back there at any price. In July, Radek, Preobrazhensky, Smilga, Serebriakov and Drobnis broke with Trotsky and capitulated to Stalin, out of love for the Five Year Plan, and a few weeks later I. Smirnov, Byeloborodov and hundreds of others followed them. Even the last four intractable ones, Rakovsky, Sosnovsky, Muralov and V. Kossior, and their friends, raised no objections to the official policy except the injustices done to the original "industrialists," and the danger Of a future "zigzag to the Right." "The Left Wing, from whose platform all the essential ideas of the Five Year Plan have been copied, still suffers under repressions and calumnies," Trotsky complained in November 1929, but, he wrote, "the greatest successes are combined with the most formidable difficulties." He admitted that already "prodigious conquests" had been made in industry, paralleled by a slow but real progress in agriculture.

Stalin rapidly disillusioned them over the expected "zigzag to the Right." Certainly he did not relax his rigorous treatment of the impenitent Trotskyists. The Bulletin of the Opposition published in Paris described the appalling conditions of imprisonment in the Siberian "isolators," and called for aid for those in deportation who suffered from privations, illness and police surveillance. The defeated fraction already mourned several of its members; in October 1928, Gregory Butov, one of Trotsky's secretaries, died in prison from a hunger strike; in November 1929, another of Trotsky's collaborators and secret agent of the intelligence service, J. Blumkin, was executed by the G.P.U. on his return from a mission abroad: he had had an interview at Stamboul with his old chief and agreed to convey an innocent message to Russia. V. Smirnov, the theoretician of Democratic Centralism, was to perish in Siberia. Others, less well known, suffered or were to suffer similar fates. But without relaxing the struggle against the Left, Stalin began to take more and more brutal measures against the Right, whose revealing silence and secret obstruction threatened to interfere with his policy.

Throughout 1919 he repressed the "opportunists" by the methods which had already been proved effective in earlier conflicts. After humbling the smaller fry, of the calibre of Uglanov, he turned his attention to the more important sinners. It was in vain that Bukharin quoted, a little later, one of Lenin's letters in which he wrote, "If you get rid of all those who are intelligent, but not strictly obedient, and only keep the docile idiots, you will certainly ruin the Party"—he in his turn was able bitterly to estimate how short was the distance between the Capitol and the Tarpeian Rock, as he passed rapidly along the road to disgrace on which Trotsky, Zinoviev and their followers had already preceded him. The revelation of his interview with Kamenev and Pyatakov had irreparably damaged him. But this time history repeated itself in a totally uninteresting manner: it would have been possible to predict all the main stages in advance. Furthermore, the Right never had the courage to stand up for its opinions, it allowed itself to be defeated over details, and never used any other manoeuvre than flight. There was no need to deport it in order to make it bow the knee.

In July, Bukharin was expelled from the Bureau of the International. In August, Pravda opened fire against its own editor, who "lacked faith" like Trotsky, "over-estimated difficulties" like Zinoviev, and had never ceased, all his life, to be wrong, and even to contradict Lenin.... All his present and past, genuine or imaginary, faults were listed. The Lenin Institute searched through old papers, deciphering notes and scribbles of the Master, in an effort to find critical and derogatory remarks about Bukharin, and even printed intimate marginal annotations in order to discredit him. A special pamphlet was devoted to his old differences with Lenin. Papers and reviews published in a slightly altered form so as to turn them against him, those diatribes from which the Opposition had had to suffer at his hands. His works, which millions of young people had been taught to regard as classics, were suddenly discovered to be full of heresies and were put on the Index. The A.B.C. of Communism, which had already had Preobrazhensky's section cut out, was now withdrawn from circulation. In November, after the usual threats and attacks, Bukharin was thrown out of the Politbureau. Rykov and Tomsky, accomplices whom Stalin wanted to segregate from him, escaped with a severe warning. At the same moment, Uglanov and three others capitulated. The indifferent public were told only that the "bankrupt" Rightists, who had once been model and irreproachable Leninists, had accused "the Party"—for which read Stalin and his acolytes—of bureaucracy, Trotskyism, military-feudal exploitation of the peasants, and had condemned the "offensive against the kulak." A few days later, Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky, branded as criminals and filled with panic, recognised their errors....

It is scarcely worth while describing how these so easily terrorised terrorists were supplanted by greater mediocrities, eager to inherit the places around Stalin which they had been promised in exchange for their support. The majority of the newcomers are not worth naming, nor are their bureaucratic achievements worth a mention. More significant is the sudden collapse of this timid and calculating opposition, made more marked by other simultaneous manifestations of the same kind: the repeated confessions of Zinoviev and Kamenev, in astonishingly platitudinous terms, the fresh recantation of Shliapnikov, at a time when all these men were out of political activity and had neither said nor done anything worth repenting—finally the shameful recantations of the "red Professors" of Bukharin's school. The Bolshevik mentality, which had evolved from implicit amoralism to declared cynicism, no doubt explains many things, but not such a complete and rapid triumph for Stalin. The main reason must be sought in the "police regime" which Bukharin once lamented in despair, and which made Chernishevsky's words, repeated by Lenin, so true: "Unhappy nation, nation of slaves; high and low, all are slaves."

Russia under the Soviets was not so much reminiscent of pre-revolutionary Tsarism, which was a worm-eaten autocracy, a despotism tempered by corruption and lightened by certain tolerances and relatively liberal customs. It was more like Russia in a more barbarous age, notwithstanding the modern technique. One notices more and more analogies with the observations made by the first travellers or ambassadors to Muscovy: Guillebert de Lennoy, the Fleming; Barbaro and Contarini, the Venetians; Chancellor and Fletcher, the Englishmen; Possevino, the Italian; Margeret, the Frenchman; Olearius, the German; and their successors, Carlisle, Collins, Jean Struys, without going back as far as Marco Polo. "The revolution has overthrown the monarchy.... But perhaps it has only forced the external malady deeper into the organism," wrote Gorky in 1917, a poor theoretician but an intuitive essayist and, for once, a good prophet. The G.P.U. which at first was reminiscent of the Okhrana, then of the Third Section of the Chancellery, and finally of Ivan the Terrible's Oprichnina, revived the grim ancestral tradition of the knout. S. Platonov in his History of Russia says: "The banishments, deportations and executions of suspects, the violence with which the oprichniks treated traitors ... all this made Moscow tremble and inspired in everyone an attitude of passive and resigned submission." Under Stalin, as under Ivan the Terrible, the Opposition was broken by the same measures, and it is no accident that S. Platonov himself died in exile. Under Stalin as under Godunov, informing was turned into a system of government; finally, as under Peter the Great, into a State institution. No one trusted his fellows any longer or dared to express his thoughts to neighbours, friends, or relations. The G.P.U. had approximately 20,000 functionaries, 30,000 secret agents, 60,000 chosen spies, without counting those in the Chon (detachments for special purposes), at the disposal of the Party; but these figures give a feeble idea of its power: as auxiliaries it had not only the militia and the army, in case of need, but the millions of Party members and the Young Communists, all pledged to denounce their comrades, and, in addition, the thousands in the so-called voluntary associations subject to the State power, the offices of the Soviets and trade unions, the house committees, and all the multitude of secretaries and employees which made up the structure of the State. Reversing the old axiom which Peter the First introduced into military law, and to which Catherine II gave lip-service, namely, that it is better to pardon ten criminals than to condemn one innocent man, the G.P.U. sacrificed a hundred innocents rather than miss one "traitor." Spying in all forms, paid, voluntary or obligatory, and Sometimes provocation, furnished ample material for its amazing technique of inquisition and punishment. The knout, which had been abolished by Tsarism in the preceding century, under Stalin became once more "the favourite instrument of the State Nemesis" as Shchedrin once put it. Between the hammer and Sickle, emblems of primitive manual labour and an unproductive economy, the subjects of the Soviet caught a glimpse of the invisible but terrible threat. The mystery which surrounded all the Proceedings of the G.P.U. aggravated further the idea which the Population had formed of the physical and moral tortures inflicted in the Lubianka prison and its fellows in the provinces. But a modern all-powerful police has more refined instruments of torture for extracting confessions than actual knouts, racks and thumbscrews. The Bolsheviks condemn themselves by quoting the famous example of Peter, the reformer Tsar, with whip and gallows, who "civilised with a knout in his hand and knout in hand persecuted the light" as Herzen described him, and of whom Puskin said that his ukases were "as though written with a knout." Although their favourite historian, Pokrovsky, had condemned Peter for "believing in the knout as an instrument of economic progress," Stalin fell into the same error. "Civilisation and science were offered us at the end of a knout," Herzen once wrote. Stalin did not conceal that the Five Year Plan, and socialism in a single country, could not be achieved in any other way. Under his empirical but resolute leadership, the knouto-Soviet State, if one may thus revive one of Bakunin's forgotten formulas, blindly tackled a more profound social and economic upheaval than that of October, a revolution decreed from above against the feelings and interests of those below—the widespread collectivisation of agriculture, by force if necessary, in complete violation of the elementary principles of socialism, and even the calculations of the controlling plan itself.

Lenin had always conformed strictly to Marx's and Engels's ideas on agricultural theory. "Engels underlined the fact that socialists do not dream of expropriating the small peasants, who will come to understand the advantages of mechanised socialist agriculture only by force of example." He had emphasised this on many occasions, and under War Communism he stated: "We will not permit any violence towards the middle peasant. Even in the case of the rich peasant we do not say 'complete expropriation' as firmly as for the bourgeoisie...." He introduced this explicit thesis into the fundamental resolutions of the Communist International: "As a general rule the proletarian power should leave the rich or comfortably off peasants their lands, only taking them over in the case of direct opposition." For him, the peasants expressed "the will of the immense majority of the working population." And in one of his last speeches he recommended that the peasant masses be moved "immeasurably, infinitely more slowly than we have dreamed, but in such a fashion that the whole mass comes with us." Stalin, who was familiar, at least at second hand, with Marxist thought on this point, and had plagiarised from Lenin on more than one occasion, boasted of being able to solve the agricultural question in a socialist sense and with great rapidity, by using terror.

Strengthened by the apparent rallying of both Left and Right around the Five Year Plan, free of any open opposition, and undisputed master of the machine, the "genial secretary," as he was ironically called, could, in future, do as he liked. Of the Bolshevik Old Guard, some of whom were dead, some politically moribund, shackled and discredited, he alone remained amid the "nonentities" that he had jeered at in front of Bukharin. He did not fail to take advantage of an opportunity which presented itself to strengthen his authority over the G.P.U., which had become contaminated by opportunism at the top. Terrified of returning to Russia, the Soviet functionaries abroad preferred emigration, and a scandal broke out in Paris when the First Counsellor at the Embassy, terrified by a superintendent from Moscow, climbed over a wall in order to get away. Stalin profited by this to accuse the G.P.U. of lack of vigilance; he replaced Trilisser, a Rightist, by Messing, and reorganised the board of control. As first assistant alongside Menzhinsky, the irremovable President, he retained Yagoda, whose sympathies with the Right had not been lasting. Feeling this instrument to be reliable for the future, he accelerated industrialisation in the towns and collectivisation in the country, he spurred on the Party and, in particular, the Young Communists, which speeded up the inexorable wheels of the bureaucratic and police machine. Everything for the Plan and by the Plan: the entire life of the Russian people could thus be summed up from 1929, "the year of the great turn."

Adopting this proud title, Stalin waited only five months after the adoption of the piatiletka before announcing victory. In an economico-military speech of untranslatable bombast, in which the ritual refrain "Lenin said" frequently occurred, he announced "a great turn on all fronts of socialist construction ... under the banner of a stern socialist offensive against all capitalist elements." In a paroxysm of "corn-lies" and "corn-boasts" he announced that all levels set by the plan had been reached and passed, except perhaps the formation of cadres of "red technicians," but that the Party only had to make up its mind, in order to "attack the problem of cadres and carry this fortress at whatever cost." ... He stated that investments in industry had increased in one year from 1,600 million roubles to 3,400, without revealing how this had been done, or why the Left had once been guilty of an unforgivable crime in proposing an annual subsidy of from 500 to 1,000 millions. He enumerated a list of extraordinary successes and final conquests, of "formidable progress" and "increased rhythm," and mocked at the bankrupt Right, to whom he had recently publicly sworn "solidarity to the end." But for "unprecedented success" there was nothing to equal agricultural collectivisation, despite "the desperate resistance of all the forces of darkness, from kulaks and priests, to Philistines and opportunists of the Right." Entire villages, cantons, districts, even regions had joined the kolkhoz, it appeared, but Stalin made no mention of the implacable pressure on them, beyond a brief reference to the "workers' brigades, disseminated by tens and hundreds throughout the principal districts of our country," and whose task, not yet fully understood, was already beginning to resemble the "dragonnades" of the Camisard war. He expatiated on the collectivisation of millions of hectares and the number of quintals harvested, emphasising the importance of tractors in the future. "We are going full steam ahead towards socialism through industrialisation, leaving our century old 'racial' backwardness behind. We are becoming a land of metals, a land of automobiles, a land of tractors, and when we set the U.S.S.R. on an automobile and the mujik on a tractor, let the noble capitalists, so proud of their 'civilisation,' attempt to catch us up. We shall see then which countries can be 'labelled' as backward, and which as advanced."

These elephantine boastings, in which ignorance and presumption, complicated by nationalism, were mingled, merit comparison with the vain words of Peter the Great: "Let us hope that in a few years we can humiliate the neighbouring countries." ... One trait which persists through the centuries is the disdain which Russia, Tsarist or Soviet, affects for the west, whose civilisation she copies, paying the teachers highly, without ever succeeding in catching up with or outstripping anyone. Peter is said to have made the impudent assertion: "We need Europe for a few dozen years, after that we will turn our backs on her." Stalin was content to reduce the period to five years, then to four, and his courtiers exaggerated even further. General Brussilov was thinking less of this aspect of things than of parallels with important personages, when he wrote in his Memoirs: "Many of these historical characters who are thought of as great men were Bolshevik in their methods of government and action: Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Pugachev." It is worth noting that Lenin had anticipated Gorky, Brussilov and many others, in drawing a somewhat damaging parallel between Peter and himself. "If the revolution in Germany does not come quickly, we must apprentice ourselves to the school of German State capitalism, imitate as closely as we can, not sparing dictatorial action to make this imitation even more rapid than Peter's forcing the imitation of the west on barbarous Russia, not shrinking from barbarous methods to fight barbarism." But Lenin thought it necessary to cut out the phrase referring to the cruel, torturing Tsar, who assassinated his own son, when he quoted his own remark three years later. Stalin, devoid of any socialist humanity, seems to have followed particularly the advice to make use of barbarous methods, one of those imprudent phrases which "the old man" must have regretted leaving for his narrow-minded disciples, who were unable to understand the spirit of it. No doubt the aphorism comes from a reminiscence of Engels, from whom Lenin borrowed so much: "Humanity, descended from animality, has needed to use barbarous, almost animal, methods in order to escape from barbarism"—a retrospective view in which one finds not the slightest suggestion for future conduct.

Stalin's article on the "great turn" written in cold blood for the Twelfth Anniversary of the Revolution, hardly represents the tone of delirium demanded from the press. "Prodigious," "colossal," "unforgettable," "marvellous," every sort of superlative was dragged in to describe achievements which would have seemed ordinary and everyday anywhere else—achievements such as digging a hole, laying bricks, sowing rye, or particularly those magnificent plans, still merely sketched, or in the blueprint stage, whose fulfillment was said to mean "catching up with and surpassing" Europe and America. Ten years before, when the first electrification scheme was proposed, Bukharin had produced a lyrical invocation to Bogdanov's Red Star, a utopian romance in which an earthdweller finds himself on a socialist Mars during a period of "great works," the transition from capitalism to communism. After treating the author as a counter-revolutionary (he was one of the pioneers of the movement, remarkable both for his knowledge and character, and he died in 1928, following a medical experiment which resembled suicide), the Bolsheviks drew inspiration from his romance, characteristically exaggerating it and indulging their passion for the gigantic, their cult of machines, their mysticism over tractors and their novel form of "delusions of greatness." Lacking any sense of reality, Stalin and his apparatus satisfied themselves with dreams, and by a curious auto-suggestion perhaps even persuaded themselves that their vague hypotheses were well founded, since their subjects appeared to be deceived by them. One has only to read Custine to find this tradition already well rooted: "The best way to give the lie to the most patent facts and to deceive everyone's conscience most completely, is to begin with one's own."

Starting with the astronomer, the Abbé Chappe d'Auteroche, in the eighteenth century, all serious observers have noticed that Russians have a "particular gift for imitation." In this direction, Stalin, by imitating the external aspects of American industrialisation, was no more an innovator than Peter before him, since from the time of Godunov, Russia has mimicked the Poles, the Swedes, the Dutch, the Prussians, the English and the French in succession. Herzen truly said "We have been a thousand years on earth and two centuries at school, learning imitation." All backward countries must go through a stage of scientific and technical instruction, during which they must borrow from other civilisations, but the knouto-Soviet State, following its own line of national despotism, cut itself off from real progress by concealing a genuine inferiority under a mask of arrogance. Lenin's bitter remark about Zinoviev, "He copies my faults," applies even more strongly to his heir, who, in addition, copied all the defects of his capitalist models. And just as the Bolsheviks were unable to assimilate Marxism, a synthesis of various western cultures, but took over a simplified form decked out with learned terminology, so they could not take the shortest road to rational production, but ruined their natural economy in order to erect vain-glorious "giants" of electricity, metallurgy and machinery, "the greatest in the world," or said to be so.

It would be difficult to distinguish in Stalin's professions of socialist faith at that time the varying proportions of hypocrisy and ignorance. But as one watches the sacrifice of the individual worker to the parasite State, and that of the revolutionary generations to the myth of the too-fascinating Plan, one cannot doubt one primary fact: five years after Lenin's death, Leninist notions of socialism had no longer anything whatever in common with the doctrines put forward under the same label. Stalin's industrialisation was based on an intensive over-exploitation of the workers, and his collectivisation on the absolute servitude of the peasants. Since there were no large loans from abroad, nor rich classes to be taxed, the workers in the factories and the semi-proletariat in the fields had, in Russia, to bear the cost of "building socialism" in a single country. In order to finance the Plan, which had been transplanted from the planet Mars to a sixth part of the terrestrial globe, and which was out of all proportion to the normal resources of the Soviet Union, there was no other method than to increase the many schemes of extortion and coercion which were already in operation under various pretexts, heavy taxes, unlimited inflation, continual rise of prices, forced-voluntary loans, raised by a levy on wages. As even this was not enough, there was nothing left but to expropriate the few remaining possessors of goods or means of production, the kulaks first, "those who have enough to eat," and then the small shop-keepers, the artisans, the middle peasants. This road, meant the end of the N.E.P., of concessions and private trade. Before the end of 1929 Stalin was to declare: "Lenin said that the N.E.P. was introduced thoroughly and for a long time. But he never said for ever." The inconsequent Secretary had already promised several times during the year to maintain the N.E.P. as a working principle. Judging from the evidence, he no longer knew himself where his empiricism was going to lead. "The machine gets out of control." Less than a month after Stalin had pronounced a funeral oration over the N.E.P. in ambiguous terms, Krizhanovsky, the chief engineer of the Plan, quoted with remarkable appropriateness some other words of Lenin's: "How can We approach socialism? Only through the N.E.P."—a last echo of a policy in its death-throes.

A marked revival of War Communism and terrorism accompanied this new effort to bring about socialism by "assault," this time without the excuse there had been in October 1917. While sparing the skilled workers who were recognised as indispensable, and even given certain material privileges at the expense of the disinherited classes, Stalin redoubled his demands on, and severities towards, the harassed, overburdened and undernourished proletariat. He wished to raise the level of production by means of decrees and disciplinary regulations, and to compensate for technical deficiency, bureaucratic fraud and governmental incompetence by the sheer physical effort of the workers, who had the alternative of consenting or running away to wander in thousands from shop to shop and factory to factory, seeking bearable conditions of life. But the misery of life in the towns was "caught up and surpassed" by the horrors of the collectivisation. In spite of the "victory on the wheat front" proclaimed by Mikoyan, the communist brigades, which scoured the countryside in order to convert the recalcitrant mujiks, committed excesses before which the earlier "abominations of Bashi-Bazouks," and even the historic exploits of the Oprichnina, paled. Entire trainloads headed north, transporting the de-kulakised kulaks, who were nothing but uprooted peasants with their families, deprived of everything, torn from the isha and their native land in mid-winter. By ruinous taxes, sales by auction, total confiscations followed by series of arrests, sometimes by summary executions, murders of revenge and ferocious reprisals, by the use of every method of pressure and constraint, the machine, under Stalin's orders, produced a panic rush towards the refuge of the kolkhoz. The majority of the peasants, after this education, preferred to kill their stock and destroy their belongings rather than hand them over to the despoiling State; the poorest alone, having nothing to lose, and hoping to benefit from the loans, seed, and tractors promised in the Plan, allowed themselves to be rounded up. Complete migrations depopulated regions which had been made fruitful by the labour of many generations: for example the departure en masse of the German colonists on the Volga, the exodus of the woodcutters from Karelia, the shepherds from Kazakstan, the escape of the inhabitants of the frontier zones under the fire of the frontier guards. "The whole of peasant Russia at this moment is screaming with pain and despair," stated a correspondent of the Paris Communist Bulletin. Innumerable suicides which found no place in the statistics, even collective suicides among the Chermisses in Siberia, darkened the tragedy still further. This is how the miracle of the increase in kolkhoz, which made Stalin dizzy, was brought about.

While struggling against the workers and the peasants, the technicians and the intellectuals, the Left and the Right within his party, Stalin was also waging a pitiless war against the Church and the believers, thus betraying once more, by his methods, the Bolshevik tradition to whose heritage he laid claim. Lenin had subscribed unreservedly to Engels's views when he reproved the Blanquist Communards for attempting to "suppress God by decrees," and later reproached E. Dühring with "surpassing Bismarck" by his methods of combating religion. His definite conclusions in this domain were the complete opposite of the aggressive and brutal egoism of his epigones. Ever since the days of Iskra, he had maintained that "even the Jesuits had a right to freedom of propaganda," with the stipulation that the proletariat should be protected from it by persuasion. "To declare that war against religion is one of the political objects of a workers' party, is merely an anarchist phrase," he affirmed, and even said that "if a priest comes to us wishing to join in our political work, if he carries out conscientiously the tasks which the Party gives him, without interfering with its programme, we can accept him into the ranks." The Soviet Constitution "allows to every citizen the right to put forward religious or anti-religious propaganda" (an article which was modified with a stroke of the pen in 1929), and the Bolshevik programme prescribes "careful avoidance of any offence to the sentiments of believers." For ten years the separated Church and State had managed to live in relative peace, occasionally broken by bloody conflicts as when, during the great famine, precious metals were requisitioned from the sanctuaries for the alleged benefit of the sufferers. The Government limited itself to encouraging schisms, supporting the dissident sects, while at the same time stimulating anti-clerical propaganda. But a fresh phase began when Stalin reopened hostilities against the peasants. The alliance between priests and kulaks served to justify all the misdeeds of the Party in the countryside. Official irreligion was transformed into systematic de-Christianisation by violence: churches of the various faiths were closed and demolished or taken over, as were chapels and monasteries, sacred books were seized, and proselytism forbidden, icons were burnt and priests deported or condemned to death. Under pretext of a militant materialism, by methods which were a caricature, adults suspected of "idealism" were forcibly inculcuated with atheism, which was already obligatory in the schools. Peter the Great took a quarter of the bells from the churches and melted them down for artillery, Stalin confiscated the whole lot to make carburettors. With two centuries between them, the savage Tsar and the police Secretary made use of the same blasphemous buffoonery, educative carnivals, burlesque processions and profane parodies, but the second, like the first, succeeded only in wounding the faithful by his persecution of the clergy, and outraging their forms of worship, without uprooting any of their beliefs and superstitions, which took refuge in clandestine prayers and were hidden deep in their consciences. The degenerate Bolsheviks appealed to Marx's words about religion being "the opium of the people," but their "victories on the religious front" were obtained by the same barbarous methods as those of the greatest of the Romanovs, the most arbitrary of despots, and they had themselves made use of Leninist dogma as a narcotic, and then indulged in the fetichist worship of a mummy.

On December 19, 1929, Stalin's fiftieth birthday, the entire Soviet press came out with immense headlines, immense portraits and immense articles. The praises of the Dictator were also immense. The finest human qualities and many super-human virtues belonged to Stalin, the man of steel, according to the censer-bearers of his train. His modesty, his courage and his devotion to the cause were only equalled by his wisdom and foresight. It was he who had organised the Bolshevik Party, led the October Revolution, commanded the Red Army, and been victor of the Civil War and the wars outside Russia. Added to all this, he was the leader of the world proletariat. His practical ability was on a level with his theoretical gifts and both were infallible: no one had ever seen him make a mistake. And the leitmotiv which recurred through all these dithyrambs was: the man of iron, the soldier of steel, with variations on the metallic theme: Leninist of brass. Bolshevik of granite. The same formulas, the same hyperboles, the same exaggerated expressions of admiration and submission, all conforming strictly to the model as issued from Moscow, were to be found in the thousands of addresses, messages and telegrams received from all parts of Russia, which filled entire pages of the newspapers and continued to occupy several columns for weeks to come. The State publishers issued millions of copies of selections, in which the panegyrics stretched to more than 250 pages, without counting the innumerable greetings which were simply listed under their place of origin. An official bust was mass-produced and distributed by order. Stalin's name, which had already been given to several towns, was now bestowed on factories, power stations, agricultural ventures, barracks and schools....

Ten years earlier, on April 23, 1920, the fiftieth birthday of Lenin had been celebrated in Moscow—Lenin, who was the true originator of Bolshevism, the founder of the Communist Party, the authentic victor of October and the real creator of the Soviet State. It was an intimate gathering of the Moscow Party Committee. A modest pamphlet of thirty pages remains as a souvenir of this gathering of old friends. Between 1920 and 1930 a profound change had taken place in Moscow, and the contrast between these two celebrations illustrates its original national aspect. Lenin, who was loved and admired by his Party and honoured by his adversaries, would never have put up with anything resembling these fawning eulogies, still less with an adulation inspired by self-seeking and fear. Stalin, who was detested even by his dependents, but who was addressed like a Tsar or a God, rewarded his self-seeking apologists, bought or extorted insincere compliments and unloosed a torrent of immemorial servility. He himself had changed greatly since his speech at Tiflis when he reproved his flatterers. The historic atavism of ancient Muscovy, held in check for a long time by a slow capitalist evolution and by western influences, revealed its tenacious vitality both in Stalin's omnipotent person and in the transitory regime, which was struggling to lift the Soviet empire to the level of the highly-industrialised countries, "not shrinking from the use of barbarous methods," in order to arm it for the universal conflict and prepare it for future conflagrations. But there was not the smallest trace of socialism, either in fact or in tendency, at this moment when the new privileged caste was elevating its chief to such a pinnacle.

In the unlimited homage rendered to Stalin by servitors who were anxious to attribute to him merits which he had not got, and talents which he undoubtedly lacked, while not yet daring to make him out a genius, one is struck, amid a thousand declarations of the same value, by those which couple "a rhythm of industrialisation such as the history of humanity has never known," or "the great process of socialist industrialisation," with the name of Stalin, the persecutor of the industrialist communists. Propaganda blazoned abroad the balance-sheet for 1929, which was insignificant compared with the expenditure of workers' energy and the amount of capital invested, and which made use of tons of metal which were still to come from furnaces not yet completed. It seemed as though the peasant from the Caucasus, who had resisted so obstinately the industrial projects of the Opposition, before deporting them, was now especially anxious to demonstrate his priority in this sphere. Nevertheless, the material conditions of existence went from bad to worse in Russia, which was "going full steam ahead towards socialism." After bread, the other foodstuffs were rationed, then manufactured goods. The number of mouths to be fed increased, but goods of primary necessity became more scarce as the prices rose. At the beginning of 1930, the level of consumption per head was below the wretched pre-War level both in quantity and quality, for even the President of the Gosplan had admitted at the last Party Conference "that in two fields, that of iron and that of wheat, we are considerably behind 1913." The birth-rate (2.3 per cent) showed that the population was growing annually by 3 1/2 millions and was approaching a total of 160 millions. And with still greater reason than Custine in the preceding century, "one trembled to think that for such a multitude of arms and legs there should be only one head."