Spector’s Statement to Canadian Party, The Militant, Vol. 1 No. 2, 1 December 1928, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
We print herewith in part the statement of Comrade Spector to the Political Committee of the Communist Party at its meeting on Nov. 6th, 1928 in response to the demand that he state his position on the expulsion of Cannon, Abern and Shachtman from the Workers (Communist) Party of America and on the issues connected with the expulsion. As reported in the last number of The Militant Comrade Spector was forthwith suspended from the party and removed from all responsible positions. Since then he was declared expelled from the party for refusing to retract his stand. In view of the great prominence and popularity of Comrade Spector as the outstanding Communist leader in Canada his arbitrary expulsion has made a sensation in the labor movement and has called forth the greatest indignation of the rank and file of the Party. Comrade Spector was elected to the Executive Committee of the Communist International at the Sixth World Congress. He has been for years the Chairman of the Party and editor of its organs, the Canadian Worker and the Canadian Labor Monthly. He represented the Communist Party of Canada at the Fourth and Sixth World Congresses of the Communist International.—Editor
Toronto, November 6th, 1928.
To The Political Committee, Communist Party of Canada
Following upon the motion at yesterday’s session of the Polcom to endorse the expulsion of the three comrades J.P. Cannon, Max Shachtman, and Martin Abern, from the Workers Party of America for their stand on behalf of the opening of a serious discussion of the fundamental problems of the Communist International, a motion which I was unable to support, certain questions have been directed to me by the Polcom as to my own position. These may be boiled down to the following:
First whether I believe that the ideological line of “Trotskyism” is correct and whether I am prepared to carry on an aggressive campaign against Trotskyism and the comrades who have been expelled from the W.P. for their solidarity with the platform of the Russian Opposition.
In reply to the question whether I am prepared “to wage an aggressive campaign against ‘Trotskyism’,” I can assure the Polcom that I am prepared to wage an aggressive campaign for Leninism. Historical Trotskyism was liquidated with the entrance of L.D. Trotsky into the Communist Party and his collaboration with Lenin following his return to Russia in 1917. Trotsky has declared before the Russian Party that in all questions bearing any character of principle at all, in which he had differences with Lenin prior to 1917, Lenin was correct. The revival of the issue of so-called “Trotskyism by the majority in 1924 and 1925 was an attempt to obscure the real issues by an artificial issue. Zinoviev who was one of the leading comrades in the fight against Trotsky has not only admitted since that the latter was correct in his fight for internal Party democracy in 1923-24, but also that the issue of “Trotskyism” was then invented by himself and a few other comrades for strategical purposes, to link up the current differences with differences that had long passed into history.
The comrades in the vanguard of the fight against “Trotskyism” were most of them further removed from the position of Lenin on his return to Russia and his presentation of the April Theses of 1917 than L.D. Trotsky. Zinoviev and Karnenev, Rykov, Losovsky, etc. were opposed to the insurrection by which the Bolsheviks conquered power and were for a coalition of all the Socialist Parties. Comrade Stalin, prior to Lenin’s return had written articles for co-operation with Tseretelli. When so much is made of the differences between Trotsky and Lenin during the course of the revolution itself, it should be borne in mind that all these differences are being exaggerated and distorted for factional ends, and that silence is maintained on the differences that other comrades, Bucharin for instance, had with Lenin but who are nevertheless regarded as one hundred percent Leninists. Comrade Bucharin not only fought Lenin on the Brest Litovsk question but; also on a Trade Union question, and on the question of State Capitalism. On the Peasant question he was the author of one of the most dangerous slogans ever put out by a leading comrade, the slogan of “enrich yourselves,” the objective significance of which meant a call on the Kulaks to intensify their exploitation of the poor peasantry. The present leader of the C.I., Bucharin, had to be overruled on the question of the validity of partial demands in the Communist Program by the intervention of Lenin, Trotsky and others at the Fourth Congress.
Not only did Lenin during his lifetime deny all slanderous rumors of any differences between himself and Trotsky on the Peasant Question, but up to his last days he considered L.D. Trotsky his closest collaborator as may be seen by the correspondence which passed between these two leaders of the revolution in the letter to the Institute of Party History by L.D. Trotsky. Lenin called upon the latter to defend his views for him on the following questions, the National Question, the Question of Workers and Peasants Control, the Monopoly of Foreign trade, the struggle against Bureaucracy, etc. It is high time that a stop be put to the falsification of Party history that has accompanied the unscrupulous and demagogic campaign against the revolutionist who next to Lenin was the most authentic leader and organizer of the October Revolution, and was so recognized by Lenin himself. Trotsky today stands foursquare for the maintenance of the principles of Leninism, uncontaminated by the opportunist deviations that have been smuggled into the Comintern and U.S.S.R. policy by the present Rvkov-Stalin-Bucharin regime and to which the lessons of the Chinese revolution, the economic situation in the U.S.S.R., the situation within the C.P.S.U., and the experiences of the Anglo-Russian Committee bear eloquent witness.
For these latter are the real issues. In retrospect it is clear that the Sixth Congress, meeting after a delay of four years, nevertheless failed to measure up to its great tasks. Eclecticism and a zig-zag line replaced a real analysis of the rich treasures or political experience of the past four years. The discussion of the Chinese revolution, the greatest upheaval since the November revolution, was utterly inadequate. As in the case of discussion of the failure of October 1923 in Germany, the attempt to throw major responsibility for what happened in China on the leadership of a Chinese Communist Party will not down. The responsibility for the opportunist policy of our Party in China lies in the first place with the Ex. Committee of the Comintern and with the formulations of policy of Stalin, Bucharin, Martynov. Lenin at the II Congress proposed a clear line in the Colonial question, for the independence of the Communist Parties and the working class movement even in embryonic form; against the National bourgeoisie, struggle for proletarian hegemony in the the National emancipation movement even when the National Revolution has only bourgeois democratic tasks to solve; constant propaganda of the Soviet idea and creation of Soviets at the earliest moment possible; finally, possibility of the non-capitalist development of backward colonial and semi-colonial countries on condition that they receive support from the U.S.S.R. and the proletariat of the advanced capitalist countries.
Otherwise, Lenin pointed out, the alliance with the national bourgeoisie would be dangerous to the revolution. This alliance could only be affected on the basis that the bourgeoisie carried on an effective struggle against imperialism and did not prevent the Communist Party from organizing the revolutionary action of the workers and peasants. Failure to exact these guarantees would lead to a repetition of the Kemalism of the Turkish national struggle which has made its peace with Imperialism. Nearly every one of these cardinal points of Lenin’s revolutionary colonial policies was violated in China. By throwing out the smoke screen that the creation of Soviets would be tantamount to the dictatorship of the proletariat, despite the fact that Lenin proposed the Soviets already as a form of the democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants in the 1905 revolution, the leadership of the Comintern misrepresented the criticism and theses of the opposition and covered up their own opportunist mistakes.
Our Chinese party was subordinated to the National bourgeoisie in the Kuomintang under cover of the old Menshevik Martynov policy of the “Block of Four Classes” (renunciation of right to criticize Kuomintang from the outside, renunciation of the right to criticize Sun Yat Senism, renunciation of an illegal fighting apparatus and of the creation of cells in the National Army.) The working class movement was subordinated to the Government of the National bourgeoisie (prohibition in certain cases of picketing and strikes, disarmament of the workers, etc.) The C.P. maintained silence at the beginning of the repression period (coup d’etat of Chiang Kai Shek etc.) The enlarged Executive of the C.I. did not subsequently straighten out the line. The slogan of Soviets was issued not when the revolutionary movement was at its height but when the bourgeoisie had already betrayed and the workers and peasants were being decimated. Stalin was making a speech still hailing Chiang Kai Shek as a revolutionary warrior only a few days prior to Chiang Kai Shek coup in a speech, which was criticized at the time by Comrade Radek, and which was of course suppressed to avoid compromising himself. The opportunist line followed in the Chinese revolution is of course by no means isolated. I have dwelt at some length on the opportunist line followed in the refusal to break with the traitorous British General Council in the Anglo-Russian Committee. The Anglo-Russian Committee was a political block between two trade union centres. The proposal of the opposition demonstratively to break with the General Council was falsely represented as being a parallel to leaving the old unions. Any Communist who reads the resolutions adopted by the Anglo-Russian conferences of Paris, July 1926, and Berlin, August 1926, and, finally of the Berlin conference at the beginning of April 1927 should convince themselves that an absolutely impermissible capitulation line was followed. At the latter meeting the Soviet representatives went on record recognizing the General Council, “as the sole representative and spokesman” of the British Trade Union movement at a time when the traitors of the General Council were suppressing the minority movement. But at the Enlarged Executive of May 1927, Comrade Bucharin sought to justify the Berlin capitulation by the theory of “exceptional circumstances,” that is, that it was in the diplomatic interests of the Soviet Union which was under threat of war danger from the provocation of the British Government.
Such an attitude has little in common with the instructions of Lenin to the Soviet delegation that went to the Hague Conference, to ruthlessly unmask the Pacifists and Reformists. By the policy pursued in the Anglo-Russian Committee the British Communist Party developed such a degree of opportunism that it was at first even opposed to the Soviet Trade Union manifesto announcing the treachery of the Left as well as the Right Labor fakers of the General Council and wanted to continue a fight for the re-establishment of the moribund Anglo-Russian Committee. The whole line followed in the Anglo-Russian Committee was, like that in the Chinese Revolution, based on maneuvers with the reformists at the top instead of regard for the unleashing of the mass movement below.
The economic analysis of the opposition on the situation within the U.S.S.R. on the danger of the growth of the Kulak, the Nep man, and the bureaucrat has been swiftly vindicated. Undoubtedly there are Thermidorean elements in the country which are striving to bring their class pressure to bear on the Party. The highest duty of a revolutionist is to warn of these dangers and to propose the necessary measures to combat them. That was always the case while Lenin was alive. The crisis last February in connection with the grain collection proved strikingly the clanger of the Kulak. The events in Smolensk, the Don Basin, the Ukraine, etc. proved the absolute necessity not only for such a campaign of self-criticism as Comrade Stalin felt the need to initiate but for effective internal Party democracy. One of the first guarantees of such real Party democracy would be the return of the exiled revolutionary oppositionists and their reinstatement with full rights to their former positions in the Party.
I have been a foundation member of the Communist Party of Canada since its organization in which I took a joint part. I have also been a member of the C.E.C. practically all the time since. Regardless of the immediate organizational consequences, I find myself compelled to make the above statement and to further register the fact that nothing on earth can separate me from the Revolutionary Communist movement. Everything that I have stated flows from my convictions that the deviations from Leninism in the C.I. can and must be corrected by a struggle within the International and its sections.
Long live the Communist International!
Long live the Proletarian Revolution!
Last updated: 14.8.2012