J. V. Stalin
Source: Works, Vol. 8, January-November, 1926, pp. 220-224
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). 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.
If we set aside minor issues, we can come straight to the crux of the matter.
What is the dispute about? It is about the results of the inner-Party struggle, in which the opposition has suffered defeat. It is not we, the Central Committee, but the opposition that started the struggle. The C.C. tried several times to dissuade the opposition from a discussion. At the April plenum and at the July plenum, the C.C. tried to dissuade it from starting an all-Union discussion, because such a discussion would sharpen the struggle, involve the danger of a split and cause our Party and government bodies to relax their constructive work for a couple of months at least.
In short, we have to sum up the results of the struggle started by the opposition, and to draw the appropriate conclusions.
It is beyond doubt that the opposition has suffered a severe defeat. It is also clear that in the ranks of the Party resentment against the opposition is growing. The question now is, can we allow the opposition leaders to remain members of the Central Committee, or not? That is now the chief question. It is hard to agree that people who support Shlyapnikov and Medvedyev should be in our Central Committee. It is hard to agree that people who support the struggle of Ruth Fischer, Urbahns and such people against the Comintern and against our Party should remain in the Central Committee.
Do we want the opposition leaders to remain in the Central Committee? I think we do. But if they are to remain, they must dissolve their faction, admit their errors and dissociate themselves from the brazen opportunists inside and outside our Party. The opposition must consent to these conditions if it desires peace in the Party.
What are our conditions?
The first point is that it must publicly declare that it will unreservedly obey the decisions of our Party bodies. Apparently, this point meets with no particular objection on the part of the opposition. In the old days it used to be customary among us Bolsheviks that if one section of the Party found itself in the minority, it not only obeyed the decisions of the majority and not only carried them out, but even made public speeches in defence of the Party’s decisions. We are not demanding this of you just now, we are not demanding that you make speeches in support of a position which you do not agree with in principle. We are not demanding it, because we want to make things easier for you in your difficult position.
The second point is that the opposition must openly admit that its factional activity was erroneous and harmful to the Party. For is that not true? Why are the oppositionists renouncing factional activity, if it is not harmful? They offer to dissolve their faction, they renounce factional activity, they promise to order their supporters and followers, the members of their factions, to lay down their arms. Why? Obviously, because they tacitly admit that factional activity is erroneous and impermissible. Then why not say so openly? That is why we demand that the opposition openly admit that the factional activity it carried on during the recent period was impermissible and erroneous.
The third point is that it must dissociate itself from the Ossovskys, Medvedyevs and their like. This demand, in my opinion, is absolutely essential. Personally, I cannot now imagine members of the Central Committee carrying on a bloc with Ossovsky, against whose expulsion the opposition voted, or with Medvedyev, or Shlyapnikov. We want the opposition to dissociate itself from them. This will only facilitate the cause of peace in our Party.
The fourth point is that it must dissociate itself from Korsch, Maslow, Ruth Fischer, Urbahns, Weber and the rest. Why? Firstly, because these people are carrying on hooligan agitation against the Comintern and the C.P.S.U.(B.), and against our Soviet state. Secondly, because the leaders of this so-called “ultra-Left,” but actually opportunist, faction—Maslow and Ruth Fischer—have been expelled from the Party and the Comintern. Thirdly, because they all cling to the opposition in the C.P.S.U.(B.) and proclaim their solidarity with it. The sooner the opposition dissociates itself from such riff-raff, the better it will be both for the opposition and for the Comintern.
The last point is that it must not support the factional fight against the Comintern line which is being waged by various opportunist groups within the sections of the Comintern.
Such are the conditions of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.). Now about the conditions put forward by the opposition.
The opposition demands that the C.C. should carry out four points.
First point. “Propaganda in support of the resolutions of the Fourteenth Congress and subsequent decisions of the Party should be conducted in positive form, without those who think differently being accused of Menshevism, etc.” How is this point to be understood? If the opposition is suggesting that the Central Committee shall damp down its propaganda against the opposition in such a way that it refrains from making clear—at the forthcoming Fifteenth Conference of the C.P.S.U.(B.) for instance—its line, based on principle, directed against the errors of the opposition, then that is something we cannot agree to. But if it is a matter of the tone of the criticism, that, of course, can be more or less softened. As regards criticism of the opposition’s errors of principle, that must certainly continue in full force, because the opposition refuses to repudiate its errors of principle.
The second point is about the right to uphold their views in their Party units. This demand is unnecessary, because that always was a right of Party members, and remains so. One may and should uphold one’s views in the Party unit, but it must be done in such a way as not to convert business-like criticism into an all-Union discussion.
The third point is that the cases of those expelled from the Party should be reviewed. The Central Committee has no desire to expel people from the Party. Expulsion is resorted to when there is no alternative. Take Smirnov, who was expelled—he was cautioned several times, and only then was he expelled. If he were to say that he recognises his errors, if he were to conduct himself loyally, the decision of the Central Control Commission might be commuted. But far from acting loyally, far from acknowledging his errors, he has flung mud at the Party in his statement. Obviously, Smirnov’s case cannot be reconsidered when he behaves in this way.
In general, the Party cannot review the decisions taken in regard to persons who have been expelled but who do not acknowledge their errors.
The fourth point is that “before the congress the opposition must be given the opportunity to lay its views before the Party.” The opposition has this right as a matter of course. The opposition cannot fail to know that the Rules make it incumbent on the Central Committee to issue a discussion sheet before a Party congress. This demand of the opposition, therefore, cannot be called a demand, since the Central Committee does not deny the necessity of issuing a discussion sheet before the Party congress.