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John G. Wright

Soviet Union Notes

Election Call for R.S.F.S.R. Seen as Move for Extension of Purge; Shortage of Primary Goods Still Prevails

(7 May 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 19, 7 May 1938, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Stalin’s “Elections” – A Cover for Wilder Purges

The Praesidium of’ the All-Russian Central Executive Committee has set June as the date for the elections to the Supreme Council of the R.S.F.S.R. These Soviet “elections” will follow immediately upon the termination of party elections now in progress. Their task, like that of all of Stalin’s elections, is to extend the purge. The instructions issued in connection with the coming elections are very explicit. We cite a key paragraph from the decree issued by the joint plenum of the Moscow Central Committee and Moscow Regional Committee:

“The conduct and preparation of the elections to the Supreme Council of the R.S.F.S.R. must aid in the successful solution of all political and economic tasks confronting the toilers of the city of Moscow and of the Moscow region, in raising the revolutionary vigilance of all the toilers in the struggle against the rabid enemies of the people, the Trotskyite-Bukharinite agents of foreign espionage services.” (Pravda, April 22.)

The meaning of these ominous words is plain enough. More arrests. More executions. More trials – both secret and “public.” Judging from the past procedure, it can be stated with virtual certainty that the present wave of arrests will reach its crest early in June, in the days immediately preceding the elections, and that shortly after the elections the next trials will be staged.

The Party Purge

Meanwhile, the purge of the party continues its course in Krasnoyarsk, in the 15 party organizations that have reported the result of the elections, nine have elected “young Communists who are holding party posts for the first time.” In Leningrad, 370 units have thus far reported new party committees, new secretaries and organizers. In Stalino out of 578 functionaries elected “about one half” are reported as holding posts for the first time; out of 407 secretaries and organizers just elected, 134 are reported as newcomers.

The campaign around this latest party purge is identical in tone with the preparations for the coming “Soviet elections.” Pravda boasts that an enormous interest is being evinced in the party elections by “non-party workers and peasants, by millions of non-party Bolsheviks who are firmly united with the party in the joint struggle for communism.” Nor does Pravda mince words as to the actual significance of what is taking place:

“The questions occupying the center of attention are the questions of vigilance, of the struggle against the Trotskyite-Bukharinite scum, of the ideological arming of the communists ... All efforts of the party organizations must be directed toward liquidating the consequences of wrecking, rooting out the enemy remnants, and fighting to fulfill the state plans.” (Pravda, April 19.)

Appointment of new deputies indicates a purge in the following departments: Commissariat of Justice (under Vyshinsky); Commissariat of Water Transport (under Yezhov); Commissariat of Heavy Industry (under L. Kaganovich); Commissariat of Agriculture (under Eike).

Shortage of Necessities

While the Trial of 21 was in progress, and almost at the same time as Zelenski was testifying (and confessing) how he had kept the shelves of Soviet stores empty of such necessities as butter, salt, sugar, soap etc., the Stalinist authorities were conducting an investigation of the trade network. Toward the end of April, Pravda carried a carefully worded report of this investigation, a section of which we reproduce:

“In March 1938 the investigation covered 5,090 stores of the state trade network. About 10 per cent had no soap, and no makhorka (low grade tobacco); 4 per cent were suffering from lapses in the sale of matches; 5 per cent of the stores were without salt. The conditions in the stores of the consumers’ co-operatives were even worse. Out of 2,150 stores investigated in March, 11.4 per cent suffered from lapses in the trade with salt; from 3 to 7 per cent of the stores were not always able to satisfy the demand for matches, sugar, makhorka and soap.” (Pravda, April 21)

The “wreckers” had been shot but the population is still without primary necessities. Who is responsible? You know the answer. Pravda insists that this condition is obviously due to fact that the trade network has not been completely purged of “wreckers.”

Last updated: 30 July 2015