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John G. Wright

Stalin the Theoretician

(March 1935)


From New International, Vol.2 No.2, March 1935, pp.74-75.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


THESIS: “It is not true that the theory of the permanent revolution ... was advanced in 1905 by Rosa Luxemburg and Trotsky. As a matter of fact, this theory was advanced by Parvus and Trotsky.” – (Stalin in 1924; cf. Questions of Leninism, Russian ed., p.185)

ANTITHESIS (7 years later): It is “Parvus and Rosa Luxemburg ... who are the authors of the Utopian and semi-Menshevist schema of the permanent revolution”. – (Stalin in 1931; cf. On Some Questions in the History of Bolshevism, a Letter to the Editors of Proletarskaya Revolutsia)

SYNTHESIS (7 months later): “Comrade Aristov,

“You have become befuddled, comrade Aistov.

“There is no contradiction at all between my article, The October Revolution and the Tactic of Russian Communists (1924) and my Letters to the Editors of Proletarskaya Revolutsia (1931). These two documents stress different aspects of the same question, and you took it for a 'contradiction'. But there is no 'contradiction' here.

“In my article, The October Revolution, I speak about the fact that, in 1905, it was not Rosa Luxemburg but Parvus and Trotsky who advanced the theory of the 'permanent' revolution against Lenin. This is entirely in accord with historical facts ... As regards Rosa Luxemburg, she, you see, remained behind the scenes at that time, restraining herself from active struggle against Lenin on this subject, preferring, apparently, not to mix into the struggle as yet.

“In my polemic against Radek, in my article, The October Revolution and the Tactic of Russian Communists, I bore hard upon the question of Parvus, because Radek in speaking about 1905 and the 'permanent' revolution, deliberately kept quiet about Parvus. And he kept mum about Parvus, because Parvus, after 1905, became an odious figure, becoming a millionaire, and turning into a direct agent of the German imperialists; and Radek did not want to connect the theory of the 'permanent' revolution with the odious name of Parvus. He tried to sneak around history. So, I made a frontal attack and spoiled Radek's manoeuver by reestablishing the historical truth, and giving Parvus his due.

“That is how matters stand regarding my article, The October Revolution and the Tactic of Russian Communists.

“As regards my Letters to the Editors of Proletarskaya Revolutsia, there I dealt with the other side of the question, to wit, with the fact that Rosa Luxemburg and Parvus were the authors of the theory of the 'permanent' revolution. Again, this is also entirely in accord with historical facts. Not Trotsky, but Rosa Luxemburg and Parvus were the authors of the theory of the 'permanent' revolution. Not Rosa Luxemburg, but Parvus and Trotsky advanced the theory of the 'permanent' revolution, in 1905, and actively struggled for it against Lenin. Subsequently, Rosa Luxemburg also began to struggle actively against the Leninist schema of revolution. But that was already after 1905.

“That is all.

[signed] “J. Stalin”

The above letter is dated January 25, 1932. It was published seven months later (cf. Bolshevik, No.16, August 30, 1932).

What a synthesis! What a style! What a man!

To complete the picture, we need only add what comrade Trotsky once said:

“Stalin's falsifications are conscious in so far as they are dictated at each given moment by entirely concrete and personal interests. At the same time, they are semiconscious in so far as his congenital ignorance places no impediment whatever in front of his theoretical propensities.”

John G. WRIGHT


Last updated: 19.6.2005