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John G. Wright

Soviet Union Notes

Stalin on His Onetime Allies – He Sheds Blood He Said Opposition Wanted – The Mystery of Postyshev

(19 March 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 12, 19 March 1938, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Stalin and Molotov on Bukharin – in 1926

In 1925, when Stalin and Molotov were in a bloc with Bukharin and Rykov, the State Publishers issued a pamphlet, first edition – 200,000. This pamphlet is entitled A Reply to the Opposition. The authors are: J.V. Stalin and V.M. Molotov. The contents are the summary speeches delivered by Stalin and Molotov at the Fourteenth Party Congress on the Political Report of the Central Committee.

In his speech, Stalin revealed a “plot” hatched allegedly in 1923, after the Twelfth Party Congress, to “destroy the Political Bureau,” and to “turn the Secretariat into a political and organizational leading organ, composed of Zinoviev, Trotsky and Stalin.”

Commenting on this, “plot,” Stalin indignantly said:

“What is the import of this platform? What does it means? It means to lead the party without Rykov, without Kalinin, without Tomsky, without Molotov, without Bukharin. Nothing came of this platform at that time not only because it was unprincipled but also because it is impossible to lead the party without the above-named comrades.” (A reply to the Opposition, Moscow 1926, p. 27)

Echoing Stalin, Molotov accused the Opposition (among them Krupskaya) of seeking to exaggerate mistakes and foist “deviations” upon “comrade Bukharin, member of the Political Bureau, editor of our central organ.” And then Molotov added the following:

“This is no longer a desire to correct mistakes but rather a desire to exaggerate mistakes, a desire to create such a situation in the party as would create distrust toward the best members of our party, one of whom, as is recognized by the entire party, is comrade Bukharin.” (Idem, page 34)

In 1926, Stalin swore that it was “impossible to lead the party without Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky.” In 1938, Stalin swears that they are “conspirators who served the interests of capitalism all their lives.” (Pravda, Feb. 28, 1938.)

Stalin and “Bukharin’s Blood”

In the self-same speech in 1926, Stalin accused the Opposition of “hounding” Bukharin, and of demanding, no more, no less, “Bukharin’s blood.”

Stalin said:

“How explain this unbridled baiting of comrade Bukharin? What do they really want of Bukharin? They are demanding comrade Bukharin’s blood. That is just what comrade Zinoviev demands, by aiming the barb of his attack in his summary against Bukharin. You demand Bukharin’s blood? We will not give you his blood, you might as well know it.” (Applause. Cries: Hear! Hear!) (Idem, p. 26)

Stalin on the “Policy of Lopping Off”

Again, in this 1926 speech, Stalin revealed yet another conspiracy – this time, to expel Trotsky from the party. The leaders in this conspiracy, if one believes Stalin, were Zinoviev and Kamenev, who, at the end of 1924, proposed to expel Trotsky from the party. Stalin, together with the majority of the Central Committee, would not agree to this proposal. Shortly thereafter, Kamenev proposed to expel Trotsky from the Political Bureau. And Stalin comments:

“... We did not agree with this proposal of the Opposition either. We obtained a majority in the Central Committee, and limited ourselves to removing comrade Trotsky from the post of People’s Commissar of War. We refused to agree with comrades Zinoviev and Kamenev because we knew that the policy of lopping off is pregnant with great dangers for the party, that the method of lopping off, the method of blood-letting – and they were demanding blood – is dangerous and contagious. Today you lop off one, tomorrow another, the next day a third – and what will then be left of our party?” (Applause) (Idem, p. 22)

In his concluding statements, Stalin once again returns to this theme. He says:

“We are against lopping off. We are against the policy of lopping off ... We are for unity and against lopping off. The policy of lopping off is revolting to us.” (p. 30)

Comments are hardly necessary.

The Postyshev Mystery

The defendants in the trial of the sixteen (Zinoviev-Kamenev et al.) in August 1936 confessed that among the victims of their plot Postyshev’s name figured prominently. His name is mentioned in the indictment as one of those marked for assassination. Vyshinsky in his summary speech repeated his name time and again. The defendants were shot, in part, for “conspiring” against Postyshev’s life. In the trial of the seventeen (Radek-Piatakov et al.) Jan. 1937, Postyshev’s name was again referred to as that of a prospective victim of the terrorists (see Verbatim Report, Eng. Edition, p. 328; p. 348; p. 358 etc.).

Meanwhile, Postyshev has not only been removed (together with Rudzutak) from the Political Bureau, but even from the minor party post to which he had been demoted. It is reported that he is under arrest. No doubt he plotted with the executed defendants and the defendants-to-be to “assassinate” himself as a fiendish ruse to cover up his complicity. Just as we are asked to believe that Yagoda arrested, exiled, tortured and killed thousands of Oppositionists for years in order the better to disguise the fact that they were his fellow-conspirators.

Last updated: 30 July 2015