J. V. Stalin
Source: Works, Vol. 8, January-November, 1926, pp. 245-310
First Published: Pravda, Nos. 256 and 257, November 5 and 6, 1926
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.
Comrades, the first question that has to be dealt with in the report concerns the formation of the opposition bloc, the stages of its development, and, lastly, its collapse, which has already begun. This theme, in my opinion, is essential as an introduction to the substance of the theses on the opposition bloc.
Already at the Fourteenth Party Congress Zinoviev gave the signal for rallying all the opposition trends and for uniting them into a single force. You, comrades, who are delegates at this conference probably remember that speech of Zinoviev’s. There cannot be any doubt that such a call was bound to meet with a response among the Trotskyists, who from the very first held the opinion that groups should be more or less unrestricted, and that they should more or less unite for the purpose of carrying on a fight against the basic line of the Party, with which Trotsky had long been dissatisfied.
That was the preparatory work, so to speak, for the formation of the bloc.
1. The First Stage
The opposition took the first serious step towards forming a bloc at the time of the April plenum of the Central Committee,2 in connection with Rykov’s theses on the economic situation. Full understanding between the “New Opposition” and the Trotskyists had not yet been reached at that time, but that in the main the bloc was already formed—of that there could be no doubt. Comrades who have read the verbatim report of the April plenum will know that that is quite true. In the main, the two groups had already managed to come to an understanding, but there were reservations, owing to which they were obliged to submit two parallel series of amendments to Rykov’s theses, instead of common amendments of the whole opposition. One series of amendments came from the “New Opposition,” headed by Kamenev, and the other series from the Trotskyist group. But that in the main they were hitting at the same mark, and that the plenum was already saying that they were reviving the August Bloc in a new form, is an undoubted fact.
What were the reservations made at that time? Here is what Trotsky said then:
“I consider the defect of Comrade Kamenev’s amendments is that they, as it were, treat differentiation in the countryside to a certain extent independently of industrialisation. Yet the significance and social importance of peasant differentiation and its tempo are determined by the progress and tempo of industrialisation in relation to the countryside as a whole.”
A reservation of no little importance.
In reply to this, Kamenev in his turn made a reservation in regard to the Trotskyists:
“I am not able,” he said, “to associate myself with that part of them (i.e., Trotsky’s amendments to Rykov’s draft resolution) which assesses the past economic policy of the Party, which I supported one hundred per cent.”
The “New Opposition” was not pleased at Trotsky criticising the economic policy which Kamenev had directed during the preceding period. And Trotsky, for his part, was not pleased at the “New Opposition” separating the question of peasant differentiation from the question of industrialisation.
2. The Second Stage
The second stage was the July plenum of the Central Committee.3 At that plenum we already had a formally established bloc, a bloc without reservations. Trotsky’s reservations had been withdrawn and shelved; so had Kamenev’s. Now they already had a joint “declaration,” which is well known to you all, comrades, as an anti-Party document. Such were the characteristic features of the second stage in the development of the opposition bloc.
The bloc was constructed and given shape in that period not only on the basis of a mutual withdrawal of amendments, but also on the basis of a mutual “amnesty.” We had at that time Zinoviev’s interesting statement to the effect that the opposition, its main core in 1923—in other words, the Trotskyists—was right regarding the degeneration of the Party, that is, the main plank of the practical platform of Trotskyism, which follows from its fundamental line. On the other hand, we had the no less interesting statement of Trotsky’s to the effect that his Lessons of October—which had been levelled specifically against Kamenev and Zinoviev as the Party’s “Right wing” that was now repeating the October errors—had been a mistake, that the beginning of the Right deviation in the Party and of the degeneration had to be ascribed not to Kamenev and Zinoviev, but to, let us say, Stalin.
Here is what Zinoviev said in July of this year:
“We say that there can now be no doubt whatever that, as the evolution of the directing line of the faction (i.e., the majority of the Central Committee) has shown, the main core of the 1923 opposition correctly warned against the danger of a shift from the proletarian line, and against the ominous growth of the apparatus regime.”
In other words, Zinoviev’s recent assertions, and the resolution of the Thirteenth Congress4, stating that Trotsky was revising Leninism, and that Trotskyism was a petty-bourgeois deviation, were all a mistake, a misunderstanding, and that the danger lay not in Trotskyism, but in the Central Committee.
That is a most unprincipled “amnesty” of Trotskyism.
On the other hand, Trotsky declared in July:
“There is no doubt that in the Lessons of October I associated the opportunist shifts in policy with the names of Zinoviev and Kamenev. As experience of the ideological struggle in the Central Committee testifies, that was a gross mistake. This mistake is to be explained by the fact that I had had no opportunity of following the ideological struggle among the seven and of ascertaining in time that the opportunist shifts proceeded from the group headed by Comrade Stalin, in opposition to Comrades Zinoviev and Kamenev.”
This means that Trotsky was publicly repudiating his much-talked-of Lessons of October, thereby issuing an “amnesty” to Zinoviev and Kamenev in return for the “amnesty” he had received from them.
A direct and unconcealed unprincipled deal!
Hence, a withdrawal of the April reservations and a mutual “amnesty” at the expense of the principles of the Party—these were the factors which determined the full shaping of the bloc, as an anti-Party bloc.
3. The Third Stage
The third stage in the development of the bloc was the opposition’s open attacks on the Party at the end of September and in the beginning of October of this year in Moscow and Leningrad, the period when the leaders of the bloc, having had their holidays in the South and gained fresh vigour, returned to the centre and launched a direct attack on the Party. Before passing from underground forms to open forms of struggle against the Party, they, it appears, declared here in the Political Bureau (I myself was away from Moscow at the time): “We’ll show you. We are going to address workers’ meetings; let the workers decide who’s right. We’ll show you!” And they began to make the rounds of the Party units. But, as you know, the outcome of this move was deplorable for the opposition. You know that they suffered defeat. You know from the press that both in Leningrad and Moscow, both in the industrial and in the non-industrial areas of the Soviet Union, the opposition bloc met with a determined rebuff from the mass of the Party members. How many votes it received and how many were cast for the Central Committee, I shall not repeat here; you know that from the press. One thing is clear: that the expectations of the opposition bloc were not fulfilled. From that moment the opposition made a turn in favour of peace in the Party. The opposition’s defeat, evidently, did not fail to have its effect. That was on October 4, when the opposition submitted to the Central Committee its statement about peace, and when for the first time, after the abuse and assaults, we heard words from the opposition resembling the words of Party people—it was time to stop “inner-Party strife” and to organise “joint work.”
Thus the opposition was compelled by its defeat to face the question that the Central Committee had repeatedly called upon it to face—the question of peace in the Party.
Naturally, the Central Committee, true to the directives of the Fourteenth Congress on the need for unity, readily agreed to the opposition’s proposal, although it knew that the proposal was not altogether sincere.
4. The Fourth Stage
The fourth stage was the period when the opposition leaders drew up their “statement” of October 16 of this year. It is usually described as a capitulation. I shall not describe it in sharp terms, but it is clear that the statement is evidence not of any victories of the opposition bloc, but of its defeat. I shall not recount the history of our negotiations, comrades. A verbatim record of the negotiations was made, and you can learn all about them from it. I should like to dwell on one incident alone. The opposition bloc wanted to declare in the first paragraph of its “statement” that it still adhered to its views, and not simply that, but that it adhered to its old opinions “in their entirety.” We tried to persuade the opposition bloc not to insist on this. Why? For two reasons.
Firstly, for the reason that if the opposition, having renounced factionalism and with it the theory and practice of freedom of factions, had dissociated itself from Ossovsky, the “Workers’ Opposition,” and the Maslow-Urbahns group, that meant that it had renounced not only factional methods of struggle, but also some of its political opinions. Could the opposition bloc say after this that it still adhered to its erroneous views, to its ideological opinions, “in their entirety”? Of course not.
Secondly, we told the opposition that it was not in its own interest to shout that they, the oppositionists, adhered to their old opinions, and “in their entirety” at that, since the workers would have every justification for saying: “So the oppositionists want to go on scrapping! That means they haven’t been whacked enough yet and will have to be given some more.” (Laughter, cries: “Quite right!”) However, they did not agree with us and only accepted the proposal to delete the words “in their entirety,” retaining the phrase about adhering to their old opinions. Well, they have made their bed and will have to lie in it. (Voices: “Quite right!”)
5. Lenin and the Question of Blocs in the Party
Zinoviev said recently that the Central Committee’s condemnation of their bloc was unwarranted, since supposedly Ilyich had approved in general of blocs in the Party. I must say, comrades, that Zinoviev’s statement is totally at variance with Lenin’s position. Lenin never approved of blocs in the Party indiscriminately. Lenin was in favour only of revolutionary blocs, based on principle, against the Mensheviks, Liquidators and Otzovists. Lenin always fought against unprincipled and anti-Party blocs in the Party. Does not everyone know that for three years Lenin fought against Trotsky’s August Bloc, as being an anti-Party and unprincipled bloc, until complete victory over it was achieved. Ilyich was never in favour of blocs indiscriminately. He was in favour only of such blocs in the Party as were based on principle, in the first place, and, in the second place, had the purpose of strengthening the Party against the Liquidators, against the Mensheviks, against vacillating elements. The history of our Party knows of one such bloc, the bloc of the Leninists and the Plekhanovists (this was in 1910-12) against the bloc of the Liquidators when the anti-Party August Bloc was formed, which included Potresov and other Liquidators, Alexinsky and other Otzovists, and which was headed by Trotsky. There was one bloc, an anti-Party bloc, the unprincipled and adventurist August Bloc; and there was another bloc, the bloc of the Leninists with the Plekhanovists, that is, the revolutionary Mensheviks (at that time Plekhanov was a revolutionary Menshevik). That is the kind of bloc that Lenin recognised. And we all recognise such blocs.
If a bloc within the Party enhances the fighting capacity of the Party and helps it to advance, we are for such a bloc. But your bloc, worthy oppositionists—can it be said that this bloc of yours enhances the fighting capacity of our Party? Can it be said that this bloc of yours is based on principle? What principles unite you with the Medvedyev group, let us say? What principles unite you with, let us say, the Souvarine group in France or the Maslow group in Germany? What principles unite you, the “New Opposition,” who only recently regarded Trotskyism as a variety of Menshevism, with the Trotskyists, who only recently regarded the leaders of the “New Opposition” as opportunists?
And then, can it be said that your bloc works in the interest and for the good of the Party, and not against the Party? Can it be said that it has enhanced the fighting capacity and revolutionary spirit of our Party even one iota? Why, all the world now knows that during the six or eight months your bloc has existed you have been trying to drag the Party back, back to “revolutionary” phrasemongering and unprincipledness, that you have been trying to disintegrate the Party and reduce it to a state of paralysis, to split it.
No, comrades, there is nothing in common between the opposition bloc and the bloc which Lenin concluded with the Plekhanovists in 1910 against the opportunists’ August Bloc. On the contrary, the present opposition bloc is in the main reminiscent of Trotsky’s August Bloc both by its unprincipledness and by its opportunist basis.
Thus, in forming such a bloc, the oppositionists have departed from the basic line which Lenin strove to pursue. Lenin always told us that the most correct policy is a policy based on principle. The opposition, on the contrary, when it banded itself together in one group, decided that the most correct policy is an unprincipled policy.
For that reason the opposition bloc cannot exist for long; it is inevitably bound to disintegrate and fall to pieces.
Such are the stages of development of the opposition bloc.
6. The Process of Decomposition of the Opposition Bloc
What is the state of the opposition bloc today? It may be described as a state of gradual disintegration, as a state of the gradual falling away of its component elements, as a state of decomposition. That is the only way the present state of the opposition bloc can be described. And that was only to be expected, because an unprincipled bloc, an opportunist bloc, cannot exist for long within the ranks of our Party. We already know that the Maslow-Urbahns group is falling away from the opposition bloc. Yesterday we heard that Medvedyev and Shlyapnikov have recanted their errors and are leaving the bloc. We know, further, that there is also a rift within the bloc, that is, between the “new” opposition and the “old,” and it should make itself felt at this conference.
It turns out, therefore, that they formed a bloc, and formed it with great pomp, but the result has been the opposite of what they expected from it. Arithmetically, of course, they should have obtained an increase, for adding forces together should yield an increase; but the oppositionists forgot that, besides arithmetic, there is also algebra, and that in algebra adding forces together does not always result in an increase (laughter), because the result depends not only on adding forces together, but on the signs that stand in front of the items. (Prolonged applause.) It turns out that they are good at arithmetic but bad at algebra, with the result that by adding their forces together, far from having increased their army, they have reduced it to a minimum, to a state of collapse.
Wherein lay the strength of the Zinoviev group? In the fact that it waged a determined fight against the fundamentals of Trotskyism. But as soon as the Zinoviev group gave up its fight against Trotskyism, it, so to speak, emasculated itself, rendered itself powerless.
Wherein lay the strength of the Trotsky group?
In the fact that it waged a determined fight against the errors of Zinoviev and Kamenev in October 1917 and against the repetition of those errors today. But as soon as the Trotsky group gave up its fight against the Zinoviev-Kamenev deviation, it emasculated itself, rendered itself powerless.
The result is the adding together of emasculated forces. (Laughter, prolonged applause.)
Obviously, nothing was to be got from this but discomfiture. Obviously, the more honest elements of Zinoviev’s group were bound after this to part ways with Zinoviev, just as the better elements among the Trotskyists were bound to desert Trotsky.
7. What is the Opposition Bloc Counting on?
What are the prospects of the opposition? What are they counting on? I think that they are counting on a deterioration of the situation in the country and in the Party. Just now they are winding up their factional activity, because the times are “hard” for them. But if they do not renounce their fundamental views, if they have decided to adhere to their old opinions, it means that they will temporise, wait for “better times,” when they have accumulated strength and are again in a position to come out against the Party. Of that there can be no doubt whatever.
Recently, one of the oppositionists who had come over to the side of the Party, a worker named Andreyev, gave us some interesting information about the opposition’s plans which it is necessary, in my opinion, to mention at this conference. Here is what Comrade Yaroslavsky told us in his report at the October plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission:
“Andreyev, who had been active in the Opposition for a fairly long time, in the end arrived at the conviction that he could not work with it any longer. What chiefly decided him was two things he had heard the opposition say: the first was that it had found itself up against a ‘reactionary’ mood of the working class, and the second was that the economic situation had proved not so bad as it had thought.”
I think that Andreyev, formerly an oppositionist and now pro-Party, has disclosed what the opposition believes at heart but does not venture to say aloud. It evidently senses that the economic situation is now better than it anticipated, and that the mood of the workers is not as bad as it would have liked it to be. Hence their policy of temporarily winding up their “work.” It is clear that if later on the economic situation becomes somewhat more tense—as the oppositionists are convinced it will—and the mood of the workers deteriorates as a result—as they are also convinced it will—they will lose no time in resuming their “work,” in resuming their old ideological opinions, which they have not abandoned, and in launching an open fight against the Party.
Such, comrades, are the prospects of the opposition bloc, which is disintegrating, but which has not yet disintegrated completely, and perhaps will not do so soon unless there is a determined and ruthless fight by the Party.
But since they are preparing for a struggle, and are only waiting for “better times” to resume their open fight against the Party, the Party must not be caught napping. Hence the tasks of the Party are: to wage a determined ideological struggle against the erroneous views of the opposition, to which it still adheres; to expose the opportunist nature of these ideas no matter what “revolutionary” phraseology is used to disguise them; and to work in such a way that the opposition is compelled to renounce its errors for fear of being routed utterly and completely.
I pass to the second question, comrades, that of the principal error of the opposition bloc on the basic question of the character and prospects of our revolution.
The basic question on which the Party and the opposition bloc are divided is that of the possibility of the victory of socialism in our country, or, what is the same thing, that of the character and prospects of our revolution.
That is not a new question: it was more or less thoroughly discussed, by the way, at the conference of April 1925, the Fourteenth Conference. Now, in a new situation, it has sprung up again and we shall have to consider it closely. And since at the recent joint meeting of the plenums of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission, Trotsky and Kamenev levelled the charge that the theses on the opposition bloc set forth their views incorrectly, I am compelled in my report to adduce a number of documents and quotations confirming the basic propositions of the theses on the opposition bloc. I apologise in advance, comrades, but I am compelled to do this.
We are faced with three questions:
1) Is the victory of socialism possible in our country, bearing in mind that it is so far the only country of the dictatorship of the proletariat, that the proletarian revolution has not yet been victorious in other countries, and that the tempo of the world revolution has slowed down?
2) If this victory is possible, can it be called a complete victory, a final victory?
3) If such a victory cannot be called final, then what conditions are necessary in order that it may become final?
Such are the three questions which are combined in the general question of the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country, that is to say, in our country.
1. Preliminary Remarks
How did the Marxists answer this question formerly, in the forties, say, or in the fifties and sixties of the last century, in the period in general when monopoly capitalism did not yet exist, when the law of uneven development of capitalism had not yet been discovered and could not have been discovered, and when, consequently, the question of the victory of socialism in individual countries was not yet presented from the angle from which it was presented subsequently? At that time all of us, Marxists, beginning with Marx and Engels, were of the opinion that the victory of socialism in one country taken separately was impossible, that for socialism to be victorious, a simultaneous revolution was necessary in a number of countries, at least in a number of the most developed, civilised countries. And at the time that was correct. In illustration of this view, I should like to quote a characteristic passage from Engels’s outline “The Principles of Communism,” where the question is put in the sharpest possible form. This outline subsequently served as the basis for the Communist Manifesto. It was written in 1847. Here is what Engels says in this outline, which was published only a few years ago:
“Can this revolution (i.e., the proletarian revolution—J. St.) take place in one country alone?
“Answer: No. Large-scale industry has, by the very fact that it has created a world market, bound all the nations of the earth, and notably the civilised nations, so closely together, that each depends on what is happening in the others. Further, in all the civilised countries it has evened up social development to such an extent that in all of them the bourgeoisie and the proletariat have become the two decisive classes of society, and the struggle between them the major struggle of our times. Therefore, the communist revolution will not be simply a national revolution, but will take place simultaneously in all the civilised countries, that is, at least in England, America, France and Germany. In each of these countries it will develop faster or more slowly depending on which has the more developed industry, the bigger accumulation of wealth, or the greater productive forces. It will therefore be slowest and hardest to accomplish in Germany, and fastest and easiest in England. It will also have a big influence on the other countries of the world, and will completely change and greatly accelerate their previous course of development. It is a universal revolution, and therefore will have a universal terrain”* (F. Engels, “The Principles of Communism.” See Kommunistichesky Manifest, State Publishing House, 1923, p. 317).
That was written in the forties of the last century, when monopoly capitalism did not yet exist. It is characteristic that there is not even a mention here of Russia; Russia is left out altogether. And that is quite understandable, since at that time Russia with its revolutionary proletariat, Russia as a revolutionary force, did not yet exist and could not have existed.
Was what is said here, in this quotation, correct in the conditions of pre-monopoly capitalism, in the period when Engels wrote it? Yes, it was correct.
Is this opinion correct now, in the new conditions, the conditions of monopoly capitalism and proletarian revolution? No, it is no longer correct.
In the old period, the period of pre-monopoly capitalism, the pre-imperialist period, when the globe had not yet been divided up among financial groups, when the forcible redivision of an already divided world was not yet a matter of life or death for capitalism, when unevenness of economic development was not, and could not be, as sharply marked as it became later, when the contradictions of capitalism had not yet reached that degree of development at which they convert flourishing capitalism into moribund capitalism thus opening up the possibility of the victory of socialism in individual countries—in that old period the formula of Engels was undeniably correct. In the new period, the period of the development of imperialism, when the unevenness of development of the capitalist countries has become the decisive factor in imperialist development, when inevitable conflicts and wars among the imperialists weaken the imperialist front and make it possible for it to be breached in individual countries, when the law of uneven development discovered by Lenin has become the starting point for the theory of the victory of socialism in individual countries—in these conditions the old formula of Engels becomes incorrect and must inevitably be replaced by another formula, one that affirms the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country.
Lenin’s greatness as the continuer of the work of Marx and Engels consists precisely in the fact that he was never a slave to the letter of Marxism. In his investigations he followed the precept repeatedly uttered by Marx that Marxism is not a dogma, but a guide to action. Lenin knew this and, drawing a strict distinction between the letter and the essence of Marxism, he never regarded Marxism as a dogma but endeavoured to apply Marxism, as a fundamental method, in the new circumstances of capitalist development. Lenin’s greatness consists precisely in the fact that he openly and honestly, without any hesitation, raised the question of the necessity for a new formula about the possibility of the victory of the proletarian revolution in individual countries, undeterred by the fact that the opportunists of all countries would cling to the old formula and try to use the names of Marx and Engels as a screen for their opportunist activity.
On the other hand, it would be strange to expect of Marx and Engels, geniuses though they were, that they, fifty or sixty years prior to developed monopoly capitalism, should have been able to foresee accurately all the potentialities of the class struggle of the proletariat which have shown themselves in the period of monopoly, imperialist capitalism.
And this was not the first instance where Lenin, basing himself on the method of Marx, continued the work of Marx and Engels without clinging to the letter of Marxism. I have in mind another and similar instance—namely; the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat. We know that on this question Marx expressed the opinion, that the dictatorship of the proletariat—as the smashing of the old state apparatus, and the creation of a new one, of a new, proletarian state—is an essential stage in the advance towards socialism in the continental countries making an exception in the case of England and America, since in those countries, Marx said, militarism and bureaucracy were weakly developed, or not developed at all, and, consequently, some other, “peaceful” path of transition to socialism was possible. That was quite correct in the seventies. (Ryazanov: “It was not correct even then.”) I think that in the seventies, when militarism was not so developed in England and America as it became subsequently, that proposition was absolutely correct. You may convince yourselves of that from the chapter in Comrade Lenin’s pamphlet The Tax in Kind 5 where he says that in the seventies in England it was not excluded that socialism might develop by way of an agreement between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie of that country, where the proletariat constituted the majority and where the bourgeoisie was accustomed to making compromises, where militarism was weak, and where bureaucracy was weak. But while that proposition was correct in the seventies of the last century, it became incorrect after the nineteenth century, in the period of imperialism, when England became no less bureaucratic and no less, if not more, militaristic than any of the countries of the continent. Comrade Lenin therefore says in his pamphlet The State and Revolution that Marx’s reservation as regards the continent is now invalid,6 since new conditions have arisen which render superfluous, the exception made in the case of England.
Lenin’s greatness consists precisely in the fact that he did notallow himself to be help prisoner by the letter of Marxism, that he was able to grasp the essence of Marxism and use it as a starting point for developing further the teachings of Marx and Engels.
That, comrades, is how the question of the victory of the socialist revolution in individual countries stood in the pre-imperialist, pre-monopoly period of capitalism.
2. Leninism or Trotskyism?
Lenin was the first Marxist who made a really Marxist analysis of imperialism, as a new and last phase of capitalism, who presented the question of the possibility of the victory of socialism in individual capitalist countries in a new way and answered it in the affirmative. I have in mind Lenin’s pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. I have in mind also his article “The United States of Europe Slogan,” which appeared in 1915. I have in mind the controversy between Trotsky and Lenin over the slogan of a United States of Europe, or of the whole world, in which Lenin first advanced the thesis that the victory of socialism in one country is possible.
Here is what Lenin wrote in that article:
“As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of a United States of the World would hardly be a correct one, firstly, because it merges with socialism; secondly, because it may give rise to a wrong interpretation in the sense of the impossibility of the victory of socialism in a single country and about the relation of such a country to the rest. Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country taken separately. The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists and organised socialist production, would stand up against the rest of the world, the capitalist world, attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of other countries, raising revolts in those countries against the capitalists, and in the event of necessity coming out even with armed force against the exploiting classes and their states.” . . . For “the free union of nations in socialism is impossible without a more or less prolonged and stubborn struggle of the socialist republics against the backward states” (see Vol. XVIII, pp. 232-33).
That is what Lenin wrote in 1915.
What is this law of uneven development of capitalism whose operation under the conditions of imperialism leads to the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country?
Speaking of this law, Lenin held that the old, pre-monopoly capitalism has already passed into imperialism; that world economy is developing in the conditions of a frenzied struggle between the leading imperialist groups for territory, markets, raw materials, etc.; that the division of the world into spheres of influence of imperialist groups is already completed; that the development of the capitalist countries does not proceed evenly, not in such a way that one country follows after another or advances parallel with it, but spasmodically, through some countries which had previously outstripped the others being pushed back and new countries advancing to the forefront; that this manner of development of the capitalist countries inevitably engenders conflicts and wars between the capitalist powers for a fresh redivision of an already divided world; that these conflicts and wars lead to the weakening of imperialism; that owing to this the world imperialist front becomes easily liable to be breached in individual countries; and that, because of this, the victory of socialism in individual countries becomes possible.
We know that quite recently Britain was ahead of all the other imperialist states. We also know that Germany then began to overtake Britain, and demanded a “place in the sun” at the expense of other countries and, in the first place, at the expense of Britain. We know that it was precisely as a result of this circumstance that the imperialist war (1914-18) arose. Now, after the imperialist war, America has spurted far ahead and outdistanced both Britain and the other European powers. It can scarcely be doubted that this contains the seeds of new great conflicts and wars.
The fact that in consequence of the imperialist war the imperialist front was breached in Russia is evidence that, in the present-day conditions of capitalist development, the chain of the imperialist front will not necessarily break in the country where industry is most developed, but where the chain is weakest, where the proletariat has an important ally—such as the peasantry, for instance—in the fight against imperialist rule, as was the case in Russia.
It is quite possible that in the future the chain of the imperialist front will break in one of the countries—India, say—where the proletariat has an important ally in the shape of a powerful revolutionary liberation movement.
In affirming the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country, Lenin, as we know, was in controversy with Trotsky, in the first place, and also with the Social-Democrats.
How did Trotsky react to Lenin’s article and to his thesis that the victory of socialism is possible in one country?
Here is what Trotsky wrote then (in 1915) in reply to Lenin’s article:
“The only more or less concrete historical argument,” says Trotsky, “advanced against the slogan of a United States of Europe was formulated in the Swiss Sotsial-Demokrat (at that time the central organ of the Bolsheviks, where Lenin’s above-mentioned article was printed—J. St.) in the following sentence. ‘Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism.’ From this the Sotsial-Demokrat draws the conclusion that the victory of socialism is possible in one country, and that therefore there is no reason to make the dictatorship of the proletariat in each separate country contingent upon the establishment of a United States of Europe. That capitalist development in different countries is uneven is an absolutely incontrovertible argument. But this unevenness is itself extremely uneven. The capitalist level of Britain, Austria, Germany or France is not identical. But in comparison with Africa and Asia all these countries represent capitalist ‘Europe,’ which has grown ripe for the social revolution. That no country in its struggle must ‘wait’ for others, is an elementary thought which it is useful and necessarv to reiterate in order that the idea of concurrent international action may not be replaced by the idea of temporising international inaction. Without waiting for the others, we begin and continue the struggle nationally, in the full confidence that our initiative will give art impetus to the struggle in other countries; but if this should not occur, it would be hopeless to think—as historical experience and theoretical considerations testify—that, for example, a revolutionary Russia could holdout in the face of a conservative Europe, or that a socialist Germany could exist in isolation in a capitalist world” * (see Trotsky’s Works, Vol. III, Part 1, pp. 89-90).
That is what Trotsky wrote in 1915 in the Paris newspaper Nashe Slovo,7 the article being subsequently reprinted in Russia in a collection of Trotsky’s articles entitled Peace Programme, first published in August 1917.
You see that in these two passages, Lenin’s and Trotsky’s, two entirely different theses stand contrasted. Whereas Lenin considers that the victory of socialism in one country is possible, that the proletariat when it has seized power can not only retain it, but can even go further, having expropriated the capitalists and organised a socialist economy, so as to render effective support to the proletarians of capitalist countries, Trotsky, on the contrary, considers that if a victorious revolution in one country does not very soon call forth a victorious revolution in other countries, the proletariat of the victorious country will not be able even to retain power (let alone organise a socialist economy); for, Trotsky says, it is hopeless to think that a revolutionary government in Russia can hold out in the face of a conservative Europe.
These are two entirely different points of view, two entirely different lines. With Lenin, a proletariat which has taken power represents a most active force displaying the highest initiative, which organises a socialist economy and goes further and supports the proletarians of other countries. With Trotsky, on the contrary, a proletariat which has taken power becomes a semi-passive force which requires immediate assistance in the shape of an immediate victory of socialism in other countries, and which feels itself, as it were, in a temporary encampment and in peril of immediately losing power. But if the victory of the revolution in other countries should not ensue immediately—what then? Then, chuck up the job. (A voice from the audience: “And run to cover.”) Yes, and run to cover. That is perfectly correct. (Laughter.)
It may be said that this divergence between Lenin and Trotsky is a thing of the past, that later, in the course of the work, it might have been reduced to a minimum and even wiped out altogether. Yes, it might have been reduced to a minimum and even wiped out. But, unfortunately, neither of these things happened. On the contrary, this divergence remained in full force right down to Comrade Lenin’s death. It exists even now, as you can see for yourselves. I affirm that, on the contrary, this divergence between Lenin and Trotsky, and the controversy it gave rise to, continued all the time; articles on the subject by Lenin and Trotsky appeared one after another, and the concealed controversy continued, it is true without mention of names.
Here are some facts on this score.
In 1921, when we introduced NEP, Lenin again raised the question of the possibility of the victory of socialism, this time in the more concrete form of the possibility of laying a socialist foundation for our economy along the lines of NEP. You will recall that when NEP was introduced in 1921, Lenin was accused by a section of our Party, especially by the “Workers’ Opposition,” that, by introducing NEP, he was swerving from the path of socialism. It was evidently in reply to this that Lenin repeatedly declared in his speeches and articles of that time that we were introducing NEP not as a departure from our course, but as a continuation of it under the new conditions, with a view to laying “a socialist foundation for our economy,” “together with the peasantry,” and “under the leadership of the working class” (see Lenin’s The Tax in Kind and other articles on the subject of NEP).
As though in reply to this, Trotsky, in January 1922, published a “Preface” to his book The Year 1905, where he declared that in our country building socialism together with the peasantry was unfeasible, because the life of our country would be a series of hostile collisions between the working class and the peasantry until the proletariat was victorious in the West.
Here is what Trotsky said in his “Preface”:
“Having assumed power, the proletariat would come into hostile collision* not only with all the bourgeois groupings which supported the proletariat during the first stages of its revolutionary struggle, but also with the broad masses of the peasantry with whose assistance it came into power. The contradictions in the position of a workers’ government in a backward country with an overwhelmingly peasant population can be solved only on an international scale, in the arena of the world proletarian revolution” (Trotsky, in the “Preface,” written in 1922, to his book The Year 1905).
Here, too, as you see, two different theses stand contrasted. Whereas Lenin grants the possibility of laying a socialist foundation for our economy together with the peasantry and under the leadership of the working class, Trotsky, on the contrary, holds that it is impossible for the proletariat to lead the peasantry and for them to work together in laying a socialist foundation, since the political life of the country will be a series of hostile collisions between the workers’ government and the peasant majority, and that these collisions can only be solved in the arena of the world revolution.
Further, we have Lenin’s speech at the plenary meeting of the Moscow Soviet a year later, in 1922, where he again reverts to the question of building socialism in our country. He says:
“Socialism is no longer a matter of the distant future, or an abstract picture, or an icon. We still retain our old bad opinion of icons. We have dragged socialism into everyday life, and here we must find our way. This is the task of our day, the task of our epoch. Permit me to conclude by expressing the conviction that, difficult as this task may be, new as it may be compared with our previous task, and no matter how many difficulties it may entail, we shall all—not in one day, but in the course of several years—all of us together fulfil it whatever happens so that NEP Russia will become socialist Russia” (see Vol. XXVII, p. 366).
As though in answer to this, or perhaps in explanation of what he had said in the passage from him quoted above, Trotsky published in 1922 a “Postscript” to his pamphlet Peace Programme, where he says:
“The assertion reiterated several times in the Peace Programme that a proletarian revolution cannot culminate victoriously within national bounds may perhaps seem to some readers to have been refuted by the nearly five years’ experience of our Soviet Republic. But such a conclusion would be unwarranted. The fact that the workers’ state has held out against the whole world in one country, and a backward country at that, testifies to the colossal might of the proletariat, which in other, more advanced, more civilised countries will be truly capable of performing miracles. But while we have held our ground as a state politically and militarily, we have not, arrived, or even begun to arrive, at the creation of a socialist society. . . . As long as the bourgeoisie remains in power in the other European countries we shall be compelled, in our struggle against economic isolation, to strive for agreement with the capitalist world; at the same time it may be said with certainty that these agreements may at best help us to mitigate some of our economic ills, to take one or another step forward, but real progress of a socialist economy in Russia will become possible only after the victory* of the proletariat in the major European countries” (see Trotsky’s Works, Vol. III, Part 1, pp. 92-93).
Here, too, as you see, two antithetical theses, Lenin’s and Trotsky’s, stand contrasted. Whereas Lenin considers that we have already dragged socialism into everyday life and that, in spite of the difficulties, we are fully in a position to turn NLP Russia into socialist Russia, Trotsky, on the contrary, believes that not only are we unable to turn present Russia into socialist Russia, but that we cannot even achieve real progress of socialist economy until the proletariat is victorious in other countries.
Lastly, we have Comrade Lenin’s notes in the shape of the articles “On Co-operation” and “Our Revolution” (directed against Sukhanov) which he wrote before his death, and which have been left to us as his political testament. These notes are remarkable for the fact that in them Lenin again raises the question of the possibility of the victory of socialism in our country, and gives us formulations which leave no room for any doubt whatever. Here is what he says in his notes “Our Revolution”:
“. . . Infinitely hackneyed is the argument that they (the heroes of the Second International—J. St.) learned by rote during the development of West-European Social-Democracy, namely, that we are not yet ripe for socialism, that, as certain ‘learned’ gentlemen among them express it, the objective economic prerequisites for socialism do not exist in our country. And to none of them does it occur to ask himself: But what about a people that found itself in a revolutionary situation such as that created during the first imperialist war? Might it not, under the influence of the hopelessness of its situation, fling itself into a struggle that offered it some chance, at least., of securing conditions, not quite ordinary, for the further development of its civilisation. . . .
“If a definite level of culture is required for the building of socialism (although nobody can say just what that definite ‘level of culture’ is), why cannot we begin by first achieving the prerequisites for the definite level of culture in a revolutionary way, and then, on the basis of the workers’ and peasants’ government and the Soviet system, proceed to overtake the other nations? . . .
“You say that civilisation is necessary for the creation of socialism. Very good. But why could we not first, create such prerequisites of civilisation in our country as the expulsion of the landlords and the Russian capitalists, and then start moving towards socialism? In what books have you read that such variations of the customary, historical. procedure are impermissible or impossible?” (see Lenin, Vol. XXVII, pp. 399-401).
And here is what Lenin says in the articles “On Co-operation”:
“As a matter of fact, state power over all large-scale means of production, state power in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants, the assured leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat, etc.—is not this all that is necessary for building a complete socialist society from the co-operatives, from the cooperatives alone, which we formerly looked down. upon as huckstering and which from a certain aspect we have the right to look down upon as such now, under NEP. Is this not all that is necessary for building a complete socialist society? This is not yet the building of socialist society, but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for this building”* (see Lenin, Vol. XXVII, p. 392).
And so, we have in this way two lines on the basic question of the possibility of victoriously building socialism in our country, of the possibility of the victory of the socialist elements in our economy over the capitalist elements—for, comrades, the possibility of the victory of socialism in our country means nothing more nor less than the possibility of the victory of the socialist elements in our economy over the capitalist elements—we have the line of Lenin and Leninism, in the first place, and the line of Trotsky and Trotskyism, in the second place. Leninism answers this question in the affirmative. Trotskyism, on the contrary, denies the possibility of the victory of socialism in our country through the internal forces of our revolution. While the first line is the line of our Party, the second line is an approximation to the views of Social-Democracy.
That is why it is said in the draft theses on the opposition bloc that Trotskyism is a Social-Democratic deviation in our Party.
But from this it follows incontestably that our revolution is a socialist revolution, that it represents not, only a signal, an impulse, a starting point for the world revolution, but also a base, a necessary and sufficient base, for the building of a complete socialist society in our country.
And so, we can and must defeat the capitalist elements in our economy, we can and must build a socialist society in our country. But can that victory be termed complete, final? No, it cannot. We can defeat our capitalists, we are in a position to build and complete the building of socialism, but that does not mean that we are in a position by doing so to guarantee the land of the dictatorship of the proletariat against dangers from outside, against the danger of intervention, and, consequently, of restoration, re-establisbment of the old order. We are not living on an island. We are living within a capitalist encirclement. The fact that we are building socialism, and thereby revolutionising the workers of the capitalist countries, cannot but evoke the hatred and enmity of the whole capitalist world. To think that the capitalist world can look on indifferently at our successes on the economic front, successes which are revolutionising the working class of the whole world, is to harbour an illusion. Therefore, so long as we remain within a capitalist encirclement, so long as the proletariat is not victorious in a number of countries at least, we cannot regard our victory as final; consequently, no matter what successes we may achieve in our constructive work, we cannot consider the land of the dictatorship of the proletariat guaranteed against dangers from outside. Therefore, to achieve final victory we must ensure that the present capitalist encirclement is replaced by a socialist encirclement, that the proletariat is victorious at least in several other countries. Only then can our victory be regarded as final.
That is why we regard the victory of socialism in our country not as an end in itself, not as something self-sufficient, but as an aid, a means, a path towards the victory of the proletarian revolution in other countries.
Here is what Comrade Lenin wrote on this score:
“We are living,” Lenin says, “not merely in a state, but in a system of states, and the existence of the Soviet Republic side by side with imperialist states for a long time is unthinkable. One or the other must triumph in the end. And before that end comes, a series of frightful collisions between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois states will be inevitable. That means that if the ruling class, the proletariat, wants to, and will hold sway, it must prove this by its military organisation also” (see Vol. XXIV, p. 122).
It follows from this that the danger of armed intervention exists, and will continue to exist for a long time to come.
Whether the capitalists are just now in a position to undertake serious intervention against the Soviet Republic is another question. That remains to be seen. Here much depends on the behaviour of the workers of the capitalist countries, on their sympathy for the land of the proletarian dictatorship, on how far they are devoted to the cause of socialism. That at the present time the workers of the capitalist countries cannot support our revolution with a revolution against their own capitalists is so far a fact. But that the capitalists are not in a position to rouse “their” workers for a war against our republic is also a fact. And to make war on the land of the dictatorship of the proletariat without the workers is something which capitalism cannot do nowadays without incurring mortal risk. That is evident from the numerous workers’ delegations which come to our country to verify our work in building socialism. It is evident from the profound sympathy which the working class of the whole world cherishes for the Soviet Republic. It is on this sympathy that the international position of our republic now rests. Without it we should be having now a number of fresh attempts at intervention, our constructive work would be interrupted, and we should not he having a period of “respite.”
But if the capitalist world is not in a position to undertake armed intervention against our country just now, that does not mean that it will never be in a position to do so. At any rate, the capitalists are not asleep; they are doing their utmost to weaken the international position of our republic and to prepare the way for intervention. Therefore, neither attempts at intervention, nor the consequent possibility of the restoration of the old order in our country, can be regarded as excluded.
Hence Lenin is right in saying:
“As long as our Soviet Republic remains an isolated borderland of the entire capitalist world, just so long will it be quite ludicrously fantastic and utopian to hope . . . for the disappearance of all danger. Of course, as long as such fundamental opposites remain, dangers will remain too, and we cannot. escape them” (see Vol. XXVI, p. 29).
That is why Lenin says:
“Final victory can be achieved only on a world scale, and only by the joint efforts of the workers of all countries” (see Vol. XXVI, p. 9).
And so, what is the victory of socialism in our country?
It means achieving the dictatorship of the proletariat and completely building socialism, thus overcoming the capitalist, elements in our economy through the internal forces of our revolution.
And what is the final victory of socialism in our country?
It means the creation of a full guarantee against intervention and attempts at restoration, by means of a victorious socialist revolution in several countries at least.
While the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country means the possibility of resolving internal contradictions, which can be completely overcome by one country (meaning by that, of course, our country), the possibility of the final victory of socialism implies the possibility of resolving the external contradictions between the country of socialism and the capitalist countries, contradictions which can be overcome only as the result of a proletarian revolution in several countries.
Anyone who confuses these two categories of contradictions is either a hopeless muddle-head or an incorrigible opportunist.
Such is the basic line of our Party.
3. The Resolution of the Fourteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B.)
This line of our Party was first officially formulated in the resolution of the Fourteenth Conference on the international situation, the stabilisation of capitalism, and the building of socialism in one country. I consider that resolution one of the most important documents in the history of our Party, not only because it represents a grand demonstration in support of the Leninist line on the question of building socialism in our country, but, also because it is at the same time a direct condemnation of Trotskyism. I think that it would not be superfluous to mention the most important points of this resolution, which, strangely enough, was adopted on the report of Zinoviev. (Commotion in the hall.)
Here is what the resolution says about the victory of socialism in one country:
“Generally, the victory of socialism in one country (not the sense of final victory) is unquestionably possible.”* 8
On the question of the final victory of socialism, the resolution says:
“. . . The existence of two directly opposite social systems gives rise to the constant menace of capitalist blockade, of other forms of economic pressure, of armed intervention, of restoration. Consequently, the only guarantee of the final victory of socialism,, i.e., the guarantee against restoration, is a victorious socialist revolution in a number of countries.” 9
And here is what the resolution says about building a complete socialist society, and about Trotskyism:
“It by no means follows from this that it is impossible to build a complete socialist society in a backward country like Russia without the ‘state aid’ (Trotsky) of countries more developed technically and economically. An integral part of Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution is the assertion that ‘real progress of a socialist economy in Russia will become possible only after the victory of the proletariat in the major European countries’ (Trotsky, 1922)—an assertion which in the present period condemns the proletariat of the U.S.S.R. to fatalistic passivity. In opposition to such ‘theories,’ Comrade Lenin wrote: ‘Infinitely hackneyed is the argument, that they learned by rote during the development of West-European Social Democracy, namely, that we are not yet ripe for socialism, that, as certain “learned” gentlemen among them express it, the objective economic prerequisites for socialism do not exist in our country’” (Notes on Sukhanov). (Resolution of the Fourteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) on “The Tasks of the Comintern and the R.C.P.(B.) in Connection with the Enlarged Plenum of the E.C.C.I.”10)
I think that these basic points of the Fourteenth Conference resolution need no explanation. It could not have been put more clearly and definitely. Particularly deserving of attention is the passage in the resolution which places Trotskyism on a par with Sukhanovism. And what is Sukhanovism? We know from Lenin’s articles against Sukhanov that Sukhanovism is a variety of Social-Democracy, of Menshevism. This needs to be especially stressed in order that it may be understood why Zinoviev, who defended this resolution at the Fourteenth Conference, later departed from it and adhered to the standpoint of Trotsky, with whom he has now formed a bloc.
Further, in connection with the international situation the resolution notes two deviations from the basic line of the Party which might be a source of danger to the latter.
Here is what the resolution says about these dangers:
“In connection with the existing situation in the international arena, two dangers may threaten our Party in the present period: 1) a deviation towards passivity, arising from too broad an interpretation of the stabilisation of capitalism to be observed here and there, and from the slowing down of the tempo of the international revolution—the absence of a sufficient impulse to energetic and systematic work in building a socialist society in the U.S.S.R. despite the slowing down of the tempo of the international revolution, and 2) a deviation towards national narrow-mindedness, forgetfulness of the duties of international proletarian revolutionaries, an unconscious disregard for the intimate dependence of the fate of the U.S.S.R. on the international proletarian revolution, which is developing, although slowly, a failure to understand that not only does the international movement need the existence, consolidation and strengthening of the first proletarian state in the world, but also that the dictatorship of the proletariat in the U.S.S.R. needs the aid of the international proletariat.” (Resolution of the Fourteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) on “The Tasks of the Comintern and the R.C.P.(B.) in Connection with the Enlarged Plenum of the E.C.C.I”)
It is clear from this quotation that in speaking of the first deviation the Fourteenth Conference had in mind the deviation towards disbelief in the victory of socialist construction in our country, a deviation prevalent among the Trotskyists. Speaking of the second deviation, the conference had in mind the deviation towards forgetfulness of the international prospects of our revolution which to a certain extent prevails among some of our officials in the field of foreign policy, who sometimes tend to go over to the standpoint of establishing “spheres of influence” in dependent countries.
By stigmatising both these deviations, the Party as a whole and its Central Committee declared war on the dangers arising from them.
Such are the facts.
How could it happen that Zinoviev, who put the case for the Fourteenth Conference resolution in a special report, subsequently departed from the line of this resolution, which is at the same time the line of Leninism? How could it happen that, on departing from Leninism, he hurled at the Party the ludicrous charge of national narrow-mindedness, using it as a screen to cover up his departure from Leninisim?—a trick which I shall endeavour to explain to you now, comrades.
4. The Passing Over of the “New Opposition” to Trotskyism
The divergence between the present leaders of the “New Opposition,” Kamenev and Zinoviev, and the Central Committee of our Party over the question of building socialism in our country first assumed open form on the eve of the Fourteenth Conference. I am referring to one of the meetings of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee on the eve of the conference, where Kamenev and Zinoviev attempted to advocate a peculiar point of view on this question, one that has nothing in common with the line of the Party and in all fundamentals coincides with the position of Sukhanov.
Here is what the Moscow Committee of the R.C.P. (B.) wrote in this connection in reply to the statement of the former Leningrad top leadership in December 1925, that is, seven months later:
“Recently, in the Political Bureau, Kamenev and Zinoviev advocated the point of view that we cannot cope with the internal difficulties due to our technical and economic backwardness unless an international revolution comes to our rescue. We, however, with the majority of the members of the Central Committee, think that we can build socialism, are building it, and will completely build it, notwithstanding our technical backwardness and in spite of it. We think that the work of building will proceed far more slowly, of course, than in the conditions of a world victory; nevertheless, we are making progress and will continue to do so. We also believe that the view held by Kamenev and Zinoviev expresses disbelief in the internal forces of our working class and of the peasant masses who follow its lead. We believe that it is a departure from the Leninist position” (see “Reply”).
I must observe, comrades, that Kamenev and Zinoviev did not even attempt to refute the Moscow Committee’s statement, which was printed in Pravda during the early sittings of the Fourteenth Congress, thereby tacitly admitting that the charges the Moscow Committee levelled against them correspond to the facts.
At the Fourteenth Conference itself, Kamenev and Zinoviev formally acknowledged the correctness of the Party’s line as regards building socialism in our country. They were evidently compelled to do so because their standpoint had found no sympathy among the members of the Central Committee. More than that, as I have already said, Zinoviev even put the case for the Fourteenth Conference resolution—which, as you have had the opportunity to convince yourselves, expresses the line of our Party—in a special report at the Fourteenth Conference. But subsequent events showed that Zinoviev and Kamenev had supported the Party line at the Fourteenth Conference only formally, outwardly, while actually continuing to adhere to their own opinion. In this respect, the appearance in September 1925 of Zinoviev’s book Leninism constituted an “event” which drew a dividing line between the Zinoviev who put the case for the Party line at the Fourteenth Conference and the Zinoviev who has departed from the Party line, from Leninism, for the ideological position of Trotskyism. Here is what Zinoviev writes in his book:
“By the final victory of socialism is meant, at least: 1) the abolition of classes, and therefore 2) the abolition of the dictatorship of one class, in this case the dictatorship of the proletariat.”. . . “In order to get a clearer idea of how the question stands here, in the U.S.S.R., in the year 1925,” says Zinoviev further, “we must distinguish between two things: 1) the assured possibility of engaging in building socialism—such a possibility, it stands to reason, is quite conceivable within the limits of one country; and 2) the final construction and consolidation of socialism, i.e., the achievement of a socialist system, of a socialist society” (see Zinoviev’s Leninism, pp. 291 and 293).
Here, as you see, everything is muddled up and turned upside down. According to Zinoviev, what is meant by victory—that is, the victory of socialism in one country—is having the possibility of building socialism, but not the possibility of completely building it. To engage in building, but with the certainty that we shall not be able to complete what we are building. That, it appears, is what Zinoviev means by the victory of socialism in one country. (Laughter.) As to the question of completely building a socialist society, he confuses it with the question of final victory, thus demonstrating his complete lack of understanding of the whole question of the victory of socialism in our country. To engage in building a socialist economy, knowing that it cannot be completely built—that is the depth to which Zinoviev has sunk.
It need hardly be said that this attitude is totally at variance with the fundamental line of Leninism on the question of building socialism. It need hardly be said that such an attitude, which tends to weaken the proletariat’s will to build socialism in our country, and therefore to retard the outbreak of the revolution in other countries, turns upside down the very principles of internationalism. It is an attitude which directly approaches, and extends a hand to, the ideological position of Trotskyism.
The same must be said of Zinoviev’s statements at the Fourteenth Congress in December 1925. Here is what he said there, criticising Yakovlev:
“Take a look, for instance, at what Comrade Yakovlev went so far as to say at the last Kursk Gubernia Party Conference. He asks: ‘Is it possible for us, surrounded as we are on all sides by capitalist enemies, to completely build socialism in one country under such conditions?’ And he answers: ‘On the basis of all that has been said we have the right to say not only that we are building socialism, but that in spite of the fact that for the time being we are alone, that for the time being we are the only Soviet country, the only Soviet state in the world, we shall completely build socialism’ (Kurskaya Pravda, No. 279, December 8, 1925). “Is this the Leninist method of presenting the question,” Zinoviev asks, “does not this smack of national narrow-mindedness?”* (Zinoviev, Reply to the discussion at the Fourteenth Party Congress.)
It follows that, because Yakovlev in the main upheld the line of the Party and of Leninism, he has earned the charge of national narrow-mindedness. It follows that to uphold the Party line, as formulated in the Fourteenth Conference resolution, is to be guilty of national narrow-mindedness. People would say of that: what a depth to sink to! Therein lies the whole trick that Zinoviev is playing, which consists in levelling the ludicrous charge of national narrow-mindedness at the Leninists in an endeavour to cover up his own departure from Leninism.
The theses on the opposition bloc are therefore telling the exact truth when they assert that the “New Opposition” has passed over to Trotskyism on the basic question of the possibility of the victory of socialism in our country, or on—what is the same thing—the question of the character and prospects of our revolution.
It should be observed here that, formally, Kamenev holds a somewhat special position on this question. It, is a fact that both at the Fourteenth Party Conference and at the Fourteenth Party Congress, Kamenev, unlike Zinoviev, publicly proclaimed his solidarity with the Party line on the question of building socialism in our country. Nevertheless, the Fourteenth Party Congress did not take Kamenev’s statement seriously, did not take his word for it, and in its resolution on the Central Committee’s report it included him in. the group of people who had departed from Leninism. Why? Because Kamenev refused, saw no need, to back his statement of solidarity with the Party line with action. And what does backing his statement with action mean? It means breaking with those who are waging a fight against the Party line. The Party knows plenty of cases where people who declared in words their solidarity with the Party at the same time continued to maintain political friendship with elements who were waging a fight against the Party. Lenin used to say in cases like this that such “supporters” of the Party line are worse than opponents. We know, for example, that in the period of the imperialist war Trotsky repeatedly professed his solidarity with, and loyalty to, the principles of internationalism. But Lenin called him at that time an “abettor of the social-chauvinists.” Why? Because, while professing internationalism, Trotsky at the same time refused to break with Kautsky and Martov, Potresov and Chkheidze. And Lenin, of course, was right. Do you want your statement to be taken seriously?—then back it with action, and give up political friendship with people who are waging a fight against the Party line.
That is why I think that Kamenev’s statements about his solidarity with the Party line on the question of building socialism cannot be taken seriously, seeing that he declines to back his word with action and continues to remain in a bloc with the Trotskyists.
5. Trotsky’s Evasion. Smilga. Radek
All this, it may be said, is good and correct, but are there no grounds or documents showing that the leaders of the opposition bloc would not be unwilling to turn away from the Social-Democratic deviation and return to Leninism? Take, for example, Trotsky’s book Towards Socialism or Capitalism? Is not this book a sign that Trotsky is not unwilling to renounce his errors of principle? Some even think that Trotsky in this book really has renounced, or is trying to renounce, his errors of principle. I, sinner that I am, suffer from a certain scepticism on this point (laughter), and I must say that, unfortunately, such assumptions are absolutely unwarranted by the facts.
Here, for instance, is the most salient passage in Trotsky’s Towards Socialism or Capitalism?
“The State Planning Commission (Gosplan) has published a tabulated summary of the ‘control’ figures for the national economy of the U.S.S.R. in the year 1925/26. All this sounds very dry and, so to speak, bureaucratic. But in these dry statistical columns and the almost equally dry and terse explanations to them, we hear the splendid historical music of growing socialism” (L. Trotsky, Towards Socialism or Capitalism?, Planovoye Khozyaistvo Publishing House, 1925, p. 1).
What is this “splendid historical music of growing socialism”? What is the meaning of this “splendid” phrase, if it has any meaning at all? Does it give an answer, or even a hint of an answer, to the question whether the victory of socialism is possible in our country? One might have spoken of the historical music of growing socialism both in 1917, when we overthrew the bourgeoisie, and in 1920, when we ejected the interventionists from our country. For it really was the splendid historical music of growing socialism when we overthrew the bourgeoisie in 1917 and drove out the interventionists and thereby furnished the whole world with splendid evidence of the strength and might of growing socialism in our country. But has it, can it have, any bearing at all on the question of the possibility of victoriously building socialism in our country? We can, Trotsky says, move towards socialism. But can we arrive at socialism?—that is the question. To move towards socialism knowing that you cannot arrive there—is that not folly? No, comrades, Trotsky’s “splendid” phrase about the music and the rest of it is not an answer to the question, but a lawyer’s subterfuge and a “musical” evasion of the question. (Voices from the audience: “Quite right!”)
I think that this splendid and musical evasion of Trotsky’s may be put on a par with the evasion he resorted to in his pamphlet The New Course, when defining Leninism. Please listen to this:
“Leninism, as a system of revolutionary action, presumes a revolutionary instinct trained by reflection and experience which, in the social sphere, is equivalent to muscular sensation in physical labour” (L. Trotsky, The New Course, Krasnaya Nov Publishing House, 1924, p. 47).
Leninism as “muscular sensation in physical labour.” New and original and very profound, is it not? Can you make head or tail of it? (Laughter.) All that is very colourful and musical, and, if you like, even splendid. Only one “trifle” is lacking: a simple and understandable definition of Leninism.
It was just such instances of Trotsky’s special fondness for musical phrases that Lenin had in mind when he wrote, for example, the following bitter but truthful words about him:
“All that glitters is not gold. There is much glitter and sound in Trotsky’s phrases, but they are meaningless” (see Vol. XVII, p. 383).
So much for Trotsky’s Towards Socialism or Capitalism?, which was published in 1925.
As to more recent times, 1926, for instance, we have a document signed by Trotsky of September 1926 which leaves no doubt whatever that he continues to adhere to his view, which has been repudiated by the Party. I have in mind Trotsky’s letter to the oppositionists.
Here is what this document says:
“The Leningrad opposition promptly raised the alarm the slurring over of differentiation in the countryside, at the increase of the kulaks and the growth of their influence not only on the elemental economic processes, but also on the policy of the Soviet Government; at the fact that in the ranks of our own Party there has arisen, under Bukharin’s patronage, a school of theory which clearly reflects the pressure of the elemental forces of the petty bourgeoisie in our economy; the Leningrad opposition vigorously opposed the theory of socialism in one country, as being a theoretical justification of national narrow-mindedness. . . .”* (From the appendices to the verbatim report of the sittings of the Political Bureau of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.), October 8 and 11, 1926, on the question of the inner-Party situation.)
Here, in this document signed by Trotsky, everything is admitted: the fact that the leaders of the “New Opposition” have deserted Leninism for Trotskyism, and the fact that Trotsky continues to adhere fully and unreservedly to his old position, which is a Social-Democratic deviation in our Party.
Well, and what about the other leaders of the opposition bloc—Smilga or Radek, for example? These people, I think, are also leaders of the opposition bloc. Smilga and Radek—don’t they rank as leaders? How do they appraise the position of the Party, the position of Leninism, on the question of building socialism in our country? Here is what Smilga, for instance, said in September 1926 in the Communist Academy:
“I affirm,” he said, “that he (Bukharin—J. St.) is completely under the sway of the rehabilitation ideology, that he takes it as proven that the economic backwardness of our country cannot be an obstacle to completely building a socialist system in Russia. . . . I consider that, inasmuch as we are engaged in socialist construction, we are certainly building socialism. But, the question arises: does the rehabilitation period furnish any basis for testing and revising the cardinal tenet of Marxism and Leninism, which is that socialism cannot be completely built in one, technically backward country?”* (Smilga’s speech in the Communist Academy on the control figures, September 26, 1926).
That, as you see, is also a “position” which fully coincides with Mr. Sukhanov’s on the basic question of the character and prospects of our revolution. Is it not true that Smilga’s position fully corresponds with Trotsky’s, which I have called, and rightly called, the position of a Social-Democratic deviation? (Voices: “Quite right!”)
Can the opposition bloc be held answerable for such pronouncements of Smilga’s? It can, and must. Has the opposition bloc ever attempted to repudiate Smilga? No, it has not. On the contrary, it has given him every encouragement in his pronouncements in the Communist Academy.
Then there is the other leader, Radek, who, along with Smilga, delivered a speech in the Communist Academy and reduced us to “dust and ashes.” (Laughter.) We have a document which shows that Radek scoffed and jeered at the theory that socialism can be built in our country, called it a theory of building socialism “in one uyezd,” or even “in one street.” And when comrades in the audience interjected that this theory is “Lenin’s idea,” Radek retorted:
“You haven’t read Lenin very carefully. If Vladimir Ilyich were alive today he would say that it is a Shchedrin idea. In Shchedrin’s The Pompadours there is a unique pompadour who had the idea of building liberalism in one uyezd” (Radek’s speech in the Communist Academy).
Can Radek’s vulgar liberalistic scoffing at the idea of building socialism in one country be regarded as anything but a complete rupture with Leninism? Is the opposition bloc answerable for this vulgar sally of Radek’s? It certainly is. Why, then, does it not repudiate it? Because the opposition bloc has no intention of abandoning its position of departure from Leninism.
6. The Decisive Importance of the Question of the Prospects of our Constructive Work
It may be asked: why all these disputes over the character and prospects of our revolution? Why these disputes over what will or may happen in the future? Would it not be better to cast all these disputes aside and get down to practical work?
I consider, comrades, that such a formulation of the question is fundamentally wrong.
We cannot move forward without knowing where we are to move to, without knowing the aim of our movement. We cannot build without prospects, without the certainty that having begun to build a socialist economy we can complete it. Without clear prospects, without clear aims, the Party cannot direct the work of construction. We cannot live according to Bernstein’s prescription: “The movement is everything, the aim is nothing.” On the contrary, as revolutionaries, we must subordinate our forward movement, our practical work, to the basic class aim of the proletariat’s constructive work. If not, we shall certainly and inevitably land in the quagmire of opportunism.
Further, if the prospects of our constructive work are not clear, if there is no certainty that the building of socialism can be completed, the working masses cannot consciously participate in this constructive work, and cannot consciously lead the peasantry. If there is no certainty that the building of socialism can be completed, there can be no will to build socialism. Who wants to build knowing that he cannot complete what he is building? Hence, the absence of socialist prospects for our constructive work certainly and inevitably leads to the proletariat’s will to build being weakened.
Further, if the proletariat’s will to build socialism is weakened, that is bound to have the effect of strengthening the capitalist elements in our economy. For what does building socialism mean, if not overcoming the capitalist elements in our economy? Pessimistic and defeatist sentiments in the working class are bound to fire the capitalist elements’ hopes of restoring the old order. Whoever fails to appreciate the decisive importance of the socialist prospects of our constructive work assists the capitalist elements in our economy, fosters a spirit of capitulation.
Lastly, if the proletariat’s will to victory over the capitalist elements in our economy is weakened, thus hindering our socialist constructive work, that is bound to delay the outbreak of the international revolution in all countries. It should not be forgotten that the world proletariat is watching our work of economic construction and our achievements on this front with the hope that we shall emerge victorious from this struggle, that we shall succeed in completely building socialism. The innumerable workers’ delegations that come to our country from the West and probe every corner of our constructive work indicate that our struggle on the front of constructive work is of tremendous international significance from the paint of view of revolutionising the proletarians of all countries. Whoever attempts to do away with the socialist prospects of our constructive work is attempting to extinguish in the international proletariat the hope that we shall be victorious, and whoever extinguishes that hope is violating the elementary demands of proletarian internationalism. Lenin was a thousand times right when he said:
“At the present time we are exercising our main influence on the international revolution by our economic policy. All eyes are turned on the Soviet Russian Republic, the eyes of all toilers in all countries of the world without exception and without exaggeration. . . . That is the field to which the struggle has been transferred on a world-wide scale. If we solve this problem, we shall have won on an international scale surely and finally. That is why questions of economic construction assume absolutely exceptional significance for us. On this front we must win victory by slow, gradual—it cannot be fast—but steady progress upward and forward”* (see Vol. XXVI, pp. 410-11).
That is why I think that our disputes over the possibility of the victory of socialism in our country are of cardinal importance, because in these disputes we are hammering out and deciding the answer to the question of the prospects of our work, of its class aims, of its basic line in the period immediately ahead.
That is why I think that the question of the socialist prospects of our constructive work is of prime importance for us.
7. The Political Prospects of the Opposition Bloc
The political prospects of the opposition bloc spring from its basic error regarding the character and prospects of our revolution.
Since the international revolution is delayed, and the opposition has no faith in the internal forces of our revolution, it has two alternative prospects before it:
Either the degeneration of the Party and the state apparatus, the actual retirement of the “finest elements” of communism (i.e., the opposition) from the government and the formation from these elements of a new, “purely proletarian” party standing in opposition to the official, not “purely” proletarian Party (Ossovsky’s prospect);
Or attempts to pass off its own impatience as reality, denial of the partial stabilisation of capitalism, and “super-human,” “heroic” leaps and incursions both into the sphere of domestic policy (super-industrialisation), and into the sphere of foreign policy (“ultra-Left” phrases and gestures).
I think that of all the oppositionists, Ossovsky is the boldest and most courageous. If the opposition bloc was courageous and consistent, it ought to take the line of Ossovsky. But since it lacks both consistency and courage, it tends to take the path of the second prospect, the path of “super-human” leaps and “heroic” incursions into the objective course of events.
Hence the denial of the partial stabilisation of capitalism, the call to keep aloof from or even to withdraw from the trade unions in the West, the demand that the Anglo-Russian Committee should be wrecked, the demand that our country should be industrialised in a mere six months, and so on.
Hence the adventurist policy of the opposition bloc.
Of particular importance in this connection is the opposition bloc’s theory (it is also the theory of Trotskyism) of skipping over the peasantry here, in our country, in the matter of industrialising our country, and of skipping over the reactionary character of the trade unions there, in the West, especially in connection with the strike in Britain.
The opposition bloc thinks that a party has only to work out a correct line, and it will become a mass party immediately and instantaneously, will be able immediately and instantaneously to lead the masses into decisive battles. The opposition bloc fails to understand that such an attitude towards leading the masses has nothing in common with the views of Leninism.
Were Lenin’s April Theses on the Soviet revolution, issued in the spring of 1917, correct?11 Yes, they were. Why, then, did Lenin not call at that time for the immediate overthrow of the Kerensky Government? Why did he combat the “ultra-Left” groups in our Party that put forward the slogan of immediate overthrow of the Provisional Government? Because Lenin knew that for carrying out a revolution it is not enough to have a correct Party line. Because Lenin knew that for carrying out a revolution a further circumstance is required, namely, that the masses, the broad mass of the workers, shall have been convinced through their own experience that the Party’s line is correct. And this, in its turn, requires time, and. indefatigable work by the Party among the masses, indefatigable work to convince them that the Party’s line is correct. For this very reason, at the same time as he issued his revolutionary April Theses, Lenin issued the slogan for “patient” propaganda among the masses to convince them of the correctness of those theses. Eight months were spent on that patient work. But they were revolutionary months, which are equal at least to years of ordinary, “constitutional” times. We won the October Revolution because we were able to distinguish between a correct Party line and recognition of the correctness of the line by the masses. That the oppositionist heroes of “super-human” leaps cannot and will not understand.
Was the position of the British Communist Party during the strike in Britain a correct one? Yes, in the main it was. Why, then, did not the Party succeed at once in securing the following of the vast masses of the British working class? Because it did not succeed, and could not have succeeded, in convincing the masses in so short a time of the correctness of its line. Because between the time when a party works out a correct line and the time when it succeeds in winning the following of the vast masses, there lies a more or less prolonged interval, during which the party has to work indefatigably to convince the masses of the correctness of its policy. That interval cannot be skipped over. It is foolish to think that it can be skipped over. It can only be outlived and overcome by means of patient work for the political education of the masses.
These elementary truths of the Leninist leadership of the masses the opposition bloc does not understand, and that is one of the sources of its political errors.
Here is one of numerous specimens of Trotsky’s policy of “super-human” leaps and desperate gestures:
“Should the Russian proletariat find itself in power,” Trotsky once said, “if only as the result of a temporary conjuncture of circumstances in our bourgeois revolution, it will encounter the organised hostility of world reaction and a readiness for organised support on the part of the world proletariat. Left to its own resources, the working class of Russia will inevitably be crushed by counter-revolution the moment the peasantry turns its back on it. It will have no alternative but to link the fate of its political rule, and, hence, the fate of the whole Russian revolution, with the fate of the socialist revolution in Europe. That colossal state-political power given it by a temporary conjuncture of circumstances in the Russian bourgeois revolution it will cast into the scales of the class struggle of the entire capitalist world. With state power in its hands, with counter-revolution behind it and European reaction in front of it, it will issue to its confreres the world over the old battle-cry, which this time will be a call for the last attack: ‘Workers of all countries, unite!’”* (Trotsky, Results and Prospects, p. 80.)
How do you like that? The proletariat, it appears, must take power in Russia; but having taken power, it is bound to fall foul of the peasantry, and having fallen foul of the peasantry, it will have to hurl itself into a desperate clash with the world bourgeoisie, having “counter-revolution behind it” and “European reaction” in front of it.
That in this “scheme” of Trotsky’s there is plenty of the “musical,” the “super-human” and the “desperately splendid,” we can well agree. But that there is nothing Marxist or revolutionary about it, that what we have here is just empty playing at revolution and sheer political adventurism—of that there can be no doubt either.
Yet it is undeniable that this “scheme” of Trotsky’s is a direct expression of the present political prospects of the opposition bloc, the outcome and fruit of Trotsky’s theory of “skipping over” forms of the movement which have not yet outlived their day.
The political and organisational errors of the opposition bloc are a direct sequel to its main error in the basic question of the character and prospects of our revolution.
When I speak of the political and organisational errors of the opposition, I have in mind such questions as that of the hegemony of the proletariat in the work of economic construction, the question of industrialisation, the question of the Party apparatus and the “regime” in the Party, etc.
The Party holds that, in its policy in general, and in its economic policy in particular, it is impossible to divorce industry from agriculture, that the development of these two basic branches of economy must be along the line of combining, uniting them in a socialist economy. Hence our method, the socialist method of industrialising the country through the steady improvement of the living standards of the labouring masses, including the main mass of the peasantry, as being the principal base for the development of industrialisation. I speak of the socialist method of industrialisation, in contrast to the capitalist method of industrialisation, which is effected through the impoverishment of the vast masses of the labouring sections of the population.
What is the principal demerit of the capitalist method of industrialisation? It is that it leads to the interests of industrialisation being set at variance with the interests of the labouring masses, to an aggravation of the internal contradictions in the country, to the impoverishment of the vast masses of the workers and peasants, and to the utilisation of profits not for the improvement of the living and cultural standards of the broad masses of the people at home, but for export of capital and extension of the base of capitalist exploitation both at home and abroad.
What is the principal merit of the socialist method of industrialisation? It is that it leads to unity between the interests of industrialisation and the interests of the main mass of the labouring sections of the population, that it leads not to the impoverishment of the vast masses, but to an improvement of their living standards, not to an aggravation of the internal contradictions, but to the latter being evened out and overcome, and that it steadily enlarges the home market and increases its absorbing capacity, thus creating a solid domestic base for the development of industrialisation.
Hence, the main mass of the peasantry is directly interested in the socialist way of industrialisation. Hence the possibility and necessity of achieving the hegemony of the proletariat in relation to the peasantry in the work of socialist construction in general, and of industrialising the country in particular.
Hence the idea of a bond between socialist industry and peasant economy, primarily through the mass organisation of the peasantry in co-operatives, and the idea of the leading role of industry in relation to agriculture.
Hence our taxation policy and the policy of lowering prices of manufactured goods, etc., which take into account the need to maintain economic co-operation between the proletariat and the peasantry, the need to strengthen the alliance between the workers and the peasants.
The opposition bloc, on the contrary, starts out by counterposing industry to agriculture, and tends to take the path of divorcing industry from agriculture. It fails to realise and refuses to recognise that industry cannot be advanced if the interests of agriculture are ignored or violated. It fails to understand that while industry is the leading element in the national economy, agriculture in its turn is the base on which our industry can develop.
Hence its view of peasant economy as a “colony,” as something which has to be “exploited” by the proletarian state (Preobrazhensky).
Hence its fear of a good harvest (Trotsky), as a factor supposedly capable of disorganising our economy.
Hence the peculiar policy of the opposition bloc, a policy which tends towards sharpening the internal contradictions between industry and agriculture, and towards capitalist methods of industrialising the country.
Would you like to hear Preobrazhensky, for instance, who is one of the leaders of the opposition bloc? Here is what he says in one of his articles:
“The more a country that is passing to a socialist organisation of production is economically backward, petty-bourgeois, and of a peasant character . . . the more it has to rely for socialist accumulation on the exploitation of pre-socialist forms of economy. . . . On the other hand, the more a country where the socialist revolution has triumphed is economically and industrially developed . . . and the more the proletariat of that, country finds it necessary to minimise unequivalent exchange of its products for the products of the colonies, i.e., to minimise exploitation of the latter, the more will it rely for socialist accumulation on the productive basis of the socialist forms, i.e., on the surplus product of its own industry and its own agriculture" (E. Preobrazhensky’s article, “The Fundamental Law of Socialist Accumulation” in Vestnik Komakademii, 1924, No. 8).
It scarcely needs proof that Preobrazhensky tends towards regarding the interests of our industry and the interests of the peasant economy of our country as being in irreconcilable contradiction, and hence towards capitalist methods of industrialisation.
I consider that, in likening peasant economy to a “colony” and trying to make the relations between the proletariat and the peasantry take the form of relations of exploitation, Preobrazhensky, without himself realising it, is undermining or trying to undermine, all possibility of socialist industrialisation.
I affirm that this policy is totally at variance with the policy of the Party, which bases industrialisation on economic co-operation between the proletariat and the peasantry.
The same thing, or very much the same thing, must be said of Trotsky, who is afraid of a “good harvest” and apparently thinks that it would be a danger to the economic development of our country. Here, for instance, is what he said at the April plenum:
“In these conditions (Trotsky is referring to the conditions of the present disproportion—J. St.), a good harvest, i.e., a potential increase of agricultural commodity surpluses, may become a factor which, far from accelerating the rate of economic development towards socialism, would disorganise the economy by worsening mutual relations between town and country, and, within the town itself, between the consumer and the state. Practically speaking, a good harvest—with manufactured goods in short supply-may lead to increased distillation of grain into illicit liquor and longer queues in the towns. Politically, it would mean a struggle of the peasant against the foreign trade monopoly, i.e., against socialist industry.”* (Verbatim report of the sittings of the April plenum of the Central Committee, Trotsky’s amendments to Rykov’s draft resolution, p. 164.)
One has only to contrast this more than strange statement of Trotsky’s with Comrade Lenin’s statement, during the period when the goods famine was at its worst, that a good harvest would be the “salvation of the state,” sup class="anote">12 to realise how wholly incorrect Trotsky’s statement is.
Trotsky, apparently, does not accept the thesis that in our country industrialisation can develop only through the gradual improvement of the living standards of the labouring masses in the countryside.
Trotsky, apparently, holds that industrialisation in our country must take place through some kind of, so to speak, “bad harvest.”
Hence the practical proposals of the opposition bloc—that wholesale prices should be raised, that the peasantry should be more heavily taxed, etc.—proposals which, instead of strengthening economic co-operation between the proletariat and the peasantry, would disrupt it; which, instead of preparing the conditions for the hegemony of the proletariat in economic constructive work, would undermine them; which, instead of furthering the bond between industry and peasant economy, would create estrangement between them.
A few words on differentiation of the peasantry. Everyone knows the outcry and panic raised by the opposition about a growth of differentiation. Everyone knows that no one raised a greater panic over the growth of small private capital in the countryside than the opposition. But what is really happening? What is happening is this:
In the first place, the facts show that in our country differentiation among the peasantry is proceeding in very peculiar forms—not through the “melting away” of the middle peasant, but, on the contrary, through an increase in his numbers, while the extreme poles are considerably diminishing. Moreover, such factors as the nationalisation of the land, the mass organisation of the peasantry in co-operatives, our taxation policy, etc., cannot but set definite limits and bounds to the differentiation itself.
In the second place—and this is the chief thing—the growth of small private capital in the countryside is counter-balanced, and more than counter-balanced, by so decisive a factor as the development of our industry, which strengthens the position of the proletariat and of the socialist forms of economy, and which constitutes the principal antidote to private capital in every shape and form.
All these circumstances have apparently escaped the notice of the “New Opposition,” and it continues from force of habit to cry out and raise panic over private capital in the countryside.
It will not be superfluous, perhaps, to remind the opposition of Lenin’s words on this subject. Here is what Comrade Lenin says about it:
“Every improvement in the position of large-scale production, the possibility of starting a few big factories, strengthens the position of the proletariat to such an extent that there are no grounds whatever for fearing the elemental forces of the petty bourgeoisie, even if its numbers grow. It is not the growth of the petty bourgeoisie and of small capital that is to be feared What is to be feared is the too long continuance of the state of extreme hunger, want and shortage of produce, which is resulting in completely sapping the strength of the proletariat and making it impossible for it to withstand the elemental forces of petty-bourgeois vacillation and despair. That is more terrible. If the quantity of produce increases, no development of the petty bourgeoisie will be much of a disadvantage, inasmuch as it, promotes the development of large-scale industry . . . ” (see Vol. XXVI, p. 256).
Will the oppositionists ever realise that their panic over differentiation and private capital in the countryside is the reverse side of their disbelief in the possibility of the victorious building of socialism in our country?
A few words about the opposition’s fight against the Party apparatus and the “regime” in the Party.
What does the opposition’s fight against the Party apparatus—which is the directing core of our Party—actually amount to? It scarcely needs proof that in the final analysis it amounts to an attempt to disorganise the Party leadership and to disarm the Party in its fight for improving the state apparatus; for ridding the latter of bureaucracy and for its leadership of the state apparatus.
What does the opposition’s fight against the “regime” in the Party lead to? It leads to undermining that iron discipline in the Party without which the dictatorship of the proletariat is unthinkable, and, in the final analysis, to shaking the foundations of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The Party is therefore right when it affirms that the opposition’s political and organisational errors are a reflection of the pressure exerted by the non-proletarian elements on our Party and on the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Such, comrades, are the political and organisational errors of the opposition bloc.
At the recent plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission,13 Trotsky declared that if the conference adopted the theses on the opposition bloc the inevitable outcome would be the expulsion of the opposition leaders from the Party. I must declare, comrades, that this statement of Trotsky’s is devoid of all foundation, that it is false. I must declare that the adoption of the theses on the opposition bloc can have only one purpose: the waging of a determined struggle against the opposition’s errors of principle with a view to eliminating them completely.
Everyone knows that the Tenth Congress of our Party adopted a resolution on the anarcho-syndicalist deviation.14 And what is the anarcho-syndicalist deviation? No one will say that the anarcho-syndicalist deviation is “better” than the Social-Democratic deviation. But from the fact that a resolution on the anarcho-syndicalist deviation was adopted, nobody has yet drawn the conclusion that the members of the “Workers’ Opposition” must necessarily be expelled from the Party.
Trotsky cannot but know that the Thirteenth Congress of our Party proclaimed Trotskyism a “downright petty-bourgeois deviation.” But nobody has so far held that the adoption of that resolution must necessarily lead to the expulsion of the leaders of the Trotskyist opposition from the Party.
Here is the relevant passage from the Thirteenth Congress resolution:
“In the present ‘opposition’ we have not only an attempt to revise Bolshevism, not only a direct departure from Leninism, but also a downright petty-bourgeois deviation.* There can be no doubt whatever that this ‘opposition’ objectively reflects the pressure exerted by the petty bourgeoisie on the position of the proletarian Party and on its policy.” (From the resolution of the Thirteenth Congress.)
Let Trotsky tell us in what way a petty-bourgeois deviation is better than a Social-Democratic deviation. Is it so hard to grasp that a Social-Democratic deviation is a variety of petty-bourgeois deviation? Is it so hard to grasp that when we speak of a Social-Democratic deviation, we are only putting more precisely what was said in our Thirteenth Congress resolution? We by no means declare that the leaders of the opposition bloc are Social-Democrats. We only say that a Social-Democratic deviation is to be observed in the opposition bloc, and we give it notice that it is still not too late to abandon this deviation, and we call on it to do so.
And here is what the resolution of the C.C. and C.C.C. of January 1925 says about Trotskyism15:
“In point of fact, present-day Trotskyism is a falsification of communism in the nature of an approximation to the ‘European’ types of pseudo-Marxism, that is, in the final analysis, in the nature of ‘European’ Social-Democracy.” (From the resolution of the plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C., January 17, 1925.)
I must say that both these resolutions were in the main drafted by Zinoviev. Yet neither the Party as a whole, nor even Zinoviev in particular, drew the conclusion that the leaders of the Trotskyist opposition must be expelled from the Party.
Perhaps it will not be superfluous to mention what Kamenev said about Trotskyism, which he bracketed with Menshevism? Listen to this:
“Trotskyism has always been the most plausible and most carefully camouflaged form of Menshevism, one most adapted to deceiving precisely the revolutionary-minded section of the workers.” (L. Kamenev’s article, “The Party and Trotskyism,” in the symposium For Leninism, p. 51.)
All these facts are as well known to Trotsky as to any of its. Yet nobody has suggested expelling Trotsky and his followers on the basis of the resolutions, say, of the Thirteenth Congress.
That is why I think that Trotsky’s statement at the plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C. was insincere and false.
When the October plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C. basically approved the theses on the opposition bloc, what it had in mind was not repressive measures but the necessity of waging an ideological struggle against the opposition’s errors of principle, which the opposition has not renounced to this day, and in defence of which it intends, as it tells us in its “statement” of October 16, to go on fighting within the framework of the Party Rules. In acting in this way, the plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C. took as its starting point that a struggle against the opposition’s errors of principle is the only way of eliminating these errors, and that their elimination is the only path towards real unity in the Party. By routing the opposition bloc and compelling it to renounce factionalism, the Party secured that necessary minimum without which unity in the Party is impossible. That, of course, is quite a lot. But it, is not enough. In order to secure full unity, it is necessary to go one step further and get the opposition bloc to renounce its errors of principle, and thus protect the Party and Leninism from assaults and attempts at revision.
That is the first conclusion.
By repudiating the fundamental position of the opposition bloc and rebuffing its attempts to start a new discussion, the mass of the Party members said: “This is not the moment for talk; the time has come to get down squarely to the work of socialist construction.” Hence the conclusion: less talk, more creative and positive work, forward to socialist construction!
That is the second conclusion.
And a third conclusion is that in the course of the inner-Party struggle and of repelling the opposition’s assaults on the Party, the Party has become more firmly united than ever, on the basis of the socialist prospects of our constructive work.
That is the third conclusion.
A party united on the basis of the socialist prospects of our constructive work is the very lever we need at the present time in order to advance the building of socialism in our country.
This lever we have fashioned in the course of the struggle against the opposition bloc.
The struggle has united our Party around its Central Committee on the basis of the socialist prospects of our constructive work. The conference must seal this unity by unanimously adopting, as I hope it will, the theses submitted to it by the Central Committee.
I have no doubt that the conference will perform this task with credit. (Stormy and prolonged applause. All the delegates rise. An ovation.)
1. The Fifteenth Conference of the C.P.S.U.(B.), held October 2-November 3, 1926, discussed the following questions: the international situation; the economic position of the country and the tasks of the Party; the results of the work and the current tasks of the trade unions; the opposition and the inner-Party situation. The conference approved the policy of the Central Committee and unanimously adopted the theses of J. V. Stalin’s report on “The Opposition Bloc in the C.P.S.U.(B.),” which characterised the Trotsky-Zinoviev opposition bloc as a Social-Democratic deviation in the ranks of the Bolshevik Party and as an auxiliary detachment of the Second International in the international labour movement. The conference gave shape to and completed the arming of the Party with the idea of the victory of socialist construction in the U.S.S.R. and called for a determined struggle for the unity of the Party and the exposure of the Trotsky-Zinoviev bloc.
2. This refers to the joint plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.), held April 6-9, 1926.
3. This refers to the joint plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.), held July 14-23, 1926.
4. This refers to the resolution on “Results of the Discussion and the Petty-Bourgeois Deviation in the Party,” adopted by the Thirteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) and endorsed by the Thirteenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) as a resolution of the congress (see Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1953, pp. 778-86).
* My italics.—J. St.
5. The chapter of Lenin’s The Tax in Kind is entitled “The Contemporary Economy of Russia” (see V. I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 32, pp. 308-19).
6. See V. I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 25, p. 387
* My italics.—J. St.
7. Nashe Slovo (Our Word)—a Menshevik-Trotskyist newspaper published in Paris from January 1915 to September 1916.
* My italics.—J. St.
* My italics.—J. St.
* My italics.—J. St.
* My italics.—J. St.
8. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part II, 1953, p. 48.
9. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part II, 1953, p. 49.
10. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part II, 1953, p. 49.
* My italics.—J. St.
* My italics.—J. St.
* My italics.—J. St.
* My italics.—J. St.
11. See V. I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 24, pp. 1-7.
* My italics.—J. St.
* My italics.—J. St.
12. See V. I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 32, p. 204.
13. The reference is to the joint plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.), held October 23 and 26, 1926. The plenum discussed filling the vacancy in the C.C. caused by the death of F. E. Dzerzhinsky, questions to be submitted for discussion at the Fifteenth All-Union Party Conference, a communication of the C.C. Political Bureau and the C.C.C. in connection with the Political Bureau’s resolution of October 4 on the factional activity of the Trotsky-Zinoviev opposition bloc since the July joint plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.), and J. V. Stalin’s theses on “The Opposition Bloc in the C.P.S.U.(B.).” On October 26, J. V. Stalin delivered a speech at the plenum in support of the theses.
14. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1953, pp. 530-33.
* My italics.—J. St.
15. This refers to the resolution adopted at a joint sitting of the plenums of the C.C. and C.C.C., R.C.P.(B.) on January 17, 1925, following a communication made by J. V. Stalin on resolutions of local Party organisations in connection with Trotsky’s action (see Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1953, pp. 913-21, and J. V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 7, pp. 6-10).