First Published:1947 in Volume 7 of the Russian Edition of J. V. Stalin Works
Source: Works, J.V. Stalin, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954, Volume 7, pp. 237-9
Transcription/HTML Markup: Charles Farrell
Online Version: Stalin Reference Archive (marxists.org) 2000
Many apologies for this late reply. I have been on holiday for these last two months, returned to Moscow yesterday and was able to read your note only today. However, better late than never.
Engels's negative answer to the question: "Can this revolution take place in one country alone?" wholy reflects the epoch of pre-monopolist capitalism, the per-imperialist epoch, when the conditions did not yet exist for the uneven, spasmodic development of the capitalist countries, when, consequently, the premises did not yet exist for the victory of the proletarian revolution in one country (as is known, the possibility of the victory of such a revolution in one country follows from the law of uneven development of capitalist countries under imperialism). The law of uneven development of capitalist countries, and the concomitant thesis that the victory of the proletarian revolution is possible in one country, where, and could be, advanced by Lenin only in the period of imperialism. That, incidentally, explains why Leninism is Marxism of the epoch of imperialism, why it is a further development of Marxism, which arose in the pre-imperialist epoch. Genius though he was, Engles could could not see what did not yet exist in the pre-monopolist period of capitalism, the the forties of the last century, when he wrote his Principles of Communism, and which arose only later, in the monopolist period of capitalism. On the other hand, Lenin, being a Marxist of genius, could not fail to see what had already arisen after Engels's death, in the period of imperialism. The difference between Lenin and Engels is the difference between the two historical periods that separate them.
The idea that "Trotsky's theory is identical with Engels's doctrine" is quite out of the question. Engels had grounds for giving a negative reply to Question 19 (see his Principles of Communism) the the pre-monopolist period of capitalism, in the forties of the last century, when there could be no question of the law of uneven development of capitalist countries. Trotsky, on the contrary, has no grounds whatever for repeating in the twentieth century Engels's old answer, taken from an epoch that has already passed away, and applying it mechanically to the new, imperialist epoch, when the law of uneven development is a widely known fact. Engels based his answer on an analysis of the per-monopolist capitalism of his time. Trotsky, however, does not analyize, but ignores the present epoch, forgets that he is not living in the forties of the last century, but in the twentieth century, in the epoch of imperialism, and slyly adds the nose of Ivan Ivanovich of the forties of the nineteeth century to the chin of Ivan Nikiforovich of the beginning of the twentieth century, evidently in the belief that is is possible in that way to outwit history. I do not think that these two diametrically opposite methods can give grounds for saying that "Trotsky's theory is identical with Engels's doctrine."
With communist greetings,