Workers’ Weekly

Keen Discussion on Trotsky

Source: Workers’ Weekly, January 23, 1925
Publisher: Communist Party Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Three hundred members were present at the London Aggregate meeting held on Saturday last, when the business was to receive the report of the Party Council.

Comrade J. Baillie presented the first part of the report covering the need for a mass Party; the need for a Communist Daily; the Trade Union activities; the Y.C.L.; and Women’s organisation.

Several comrades took part in the discussion, dealing mainly with factory group organisation and work, and the Party responsibility to the Y.C.L.

The whole of the decisions of the Party Council in these respects were unanimously endorsed.

Comrade J. Murphy then reported on the Party Council decision re the situation created by Trotsky’s preface to his book, “1917.” Mentioning the general ignorance of International affairs prevailing amongst the membership in Britain, he recalled the fact that few of our Party members would have thought of dissociating Lenin from Trotsky—so closely were they allied in their work during the revolution. Yet it was true that those two comrades had been in continuous opposition for 25 years, during which they had been on different sides in very keen controversy. The problem had to be approached as a political question and not on the grounds of personality. To those who criticised the action of the Political Bureau for their haste in bringing it before the membership he would say that the mere fact that Trotsky’s action was a challenge to the International Leadership was a sufficient justification. They had heard much about bureaucracy in the Russian Party. The fact that in the period following the revolution, when they were applying the New Economic Policy, they had been faced with an intensification of proletarian activity and also a concentration of the petty bourgeosie had meant the extraordinary methods had had to be adopted to safeguard the revolution. Trotsky’s policy would have weakened the hold of the Party and destroyed the revolution. Why did we have these continued attacks on Zinoviev and the sudden love for Trotsky. Not because he was Jew, but because he was the chosen leader of the International. As for the question of bureaucracy. After the Russian C.P. had solved this matter; and after all the essential points had been conceded by the Central Committee, Trotsky still pursued the subject, would not admit he was wrong; and continued to reopen the discussion.

E.C. Resolution

Comrade Murphy thereupon moved the endorsement of the following resolution:—

“The Party Council of the Communist Party of Great Britain sees in the preface to Comrade Trotsky’s book on “1917” an attempt not only to reopen the discussion closed by the decision of the 19th Congress of the R.C.P., and the 5th Congress of the Communist International. It is also an open attack upon the present leadership of the Communist International, which, in the opinion of the C.P.G.B., will not only definitely encourage the British imperialists, the bitterest enemies of Soviet Russia, but will also encourage their lackeys of the Second International, and those other elements who stand for the liquidation of the C.I. and the C.P. in this country.

“The Party Council and Executive Committee of the C.P.G.B. records its solidarity with, and implicit faith in, the Communist Party of Russia and the Executive Committee of the Communist International. Especially is this necessary in this most critical period when the world situation demands the closest cooperation of every member of the Communist International in carrying out the accepted policy of the International.”

Comrade Reade then moved the following amendment:—

“This aggregate meeting of the London District Membership of the C.P.G.B. joins with the D P.C. in regretting the hasty vote of the Party Council in condemning Comrade Trotsky without full information: and this meeting at the same time takes the opportunity to express the London membership’s most emphatic support both of the Left Wing Minority’s fight in the Russian Party against bureaucracy, and equally of the Comintern’s struggle against all Right Wing divergencies from Leninism in the French, German, Bulgarian, and other sections of the International.”

Comrade Pountney on behalf of the D.P.C. explained that the D.P.C. did not accept any responsibility for Comrade Reade’s amendment. So far as the reference to the D.P.C. was concerned the D.P.C. had certainly felt that there had been a decision without full information; but did not want to confuse the issue by introducing that point at this meeting.

Comrade Reade then spoke on his amendment. Referring copiously to extracts from international journals he showed that in his opinion Trotsky was justified in wanting to judge revolutionary standards by the attitude of comrades during the 1917 Revolution. He pointed out that Trotsky at that time was fighting for the Revolution when others were deprecating the struggle. He also pointed out that wide publicity in Imprecor and other sources had been given to the official side, but that Trotsky’s side had been suppressed. He also referred to an alleged Diary by Lenin in which Lenin is supposed to have critised the other leaders and enhanced Trotsky’s judgment—which Diary, said Reade, had been suppressed.

This was followed by a statement from Comrade Rothstein, who said that the tale of suppression was all rot. That on the contrary, although Trotsky had made, at his own request, private arrangements for publishing his book, when the wide issues became evident special arrangements had been made to circulate cheap editions throughout the Party membership. He then characterized a letter which Reade had read as a gross forgery, culled from the Menshevik Press in Germany.

Comrade R. P. Arnot then spoke and said that Trotsky’s supporters were not to be found amongst the working class, but amongst the University students, who had become divorced from actualities. He characterized Reade’s attitude as romantic; it had no political basis, but was purely an excitement engendered by the military status of Trotsky.

Comrades Reade and Murphy then replied to the discussion, and on a vote being put the amendment received only ten votes; and as a substantive motion the resolution was carried with ten dissentients.