J. V. Stalin
Source: Works, Vol. 9, December-July, 1927, pp. 321-327
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.
When I began this correspondence with you I thought I was dealing with a man who was seeking the truth. Now, after your second letter, I see that I am corresponding with a self-conceited, impudent person, who sets the “interests” of his own ego higher than the interests of truth. Do not be surprised, then, if in this brief (and last) reply I shall speak bluntly and call a spade a spade.
1. I affirmed that in the period following the February Revolution of 1917 the Party replaced the old strategic slogan of dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry and “alliance with the whole peasantry” by the new strategic slogan of dictatorship of the proletariat and poor peasantry and “alliance with the poor peasantry.”
I affirmed that the Party advanced towards and arrived at October putting this new slogan into effect, and that if it had not done so, the Party could not have welded together the necessary political army capable of overthrowing the power of the bourgeoisie and establishing the power of the proletariat.
You have emphatically challenged this assertion of mine and have tried to prove that “in the period from February to October the Party upheld its odd slogan in relation to the peasantry—alliance with the whole peasantry” (see your first letter). And you not only tried to prove this anti-Leninist and purely Kamenevist conception, but regarded it almost as an axiom.
Such was the case, and our dispute was precisely on this point.
Now, seeing into what an impasse your stubbornness and self-assurance have led you, you are compelled to acknowledge under your breath that you were in error and declare that “the Party’s strategic slogan in the April-October period was indeed that of the dictatorship of the proletariat and poor peasantry” (see your second letter).
But while acknowledging your error under your breath, you there and then endeavour out loud to reduce it to a trifling “verbal” inaccuracy, by declaring that “the verbal formulation in which I clothed my thought in my last letter when I said that the Party had discarded its old slogan of alliance with the whole peasantry was perhaps liable to lead to unclarity” (see your second letter).
It follows that our dispute was over a “verbal” formulation, and not over two conceptions differing in principle!
That, to put it mildly, is what is called effrontery.
2. I affirmed that the preparations for October proceeded in the midst of a struggle against the compromising policy and vacillations of a certain section of the peasantry in the Soviets, that these vacillations and this compromising policy were creating a supreme danger to the revolution (defeat of the Bolsheviks in July 1917), that only with the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat and poor peasantry could a successful struggle be waged against these vacillations and compromising policy, and that only thanks to this slogan were the Bolsheviks able to neutralise the vacillations and compromising policy of the middle peasant.
You emphatically contested this and persisted in your erroneous opinion that in the February-October period the Party carried on its work under the old slogan of “alliance with the whole peasantry.” And, in contesting it, you thereby deleted from the history of Bolshevism some of its finest pages, which treat of the struggle waged by the Bolsheviks to sever the middle strata of the peasantry from the petty-bourgeois parties, to isolate those parties, and to neutralise the vacillations and compromising policy of certain strata of the peasantry.
Such was the case.
Now you are compelled to acknowledge both the fact of the vacillations and compromising policy of a certain section of the peasantry in the February-October period, and the fact that the Bolsheviks did wage a struggle against those vacillations and that compromising policy. But while acknowledging all this, you try to make out that it has no bearing on the question of neutralising the middle peasants, and even contrive to reproach me with “having given no reply” on the question of neutralising the middle peasants.
One thing or the other: either you are excessively naive, or you deliberately put on a mask of naiveté for some purpose that is by no means scientific.
3. I affirmed that the Party was victorious in October because it had successfully put into effect the new strategic slogan of dictatorship of the proletariat and poor peasantry; that if it had not replaced the old slogan of alliance with the peasantry as a whole by the new slogan of alliance with the poor peasantry it could not, have secured either victory in October, or the support of the peasantry as a whole in the course of the October Revolution; that the peasantry as a whole supported the Bolsheviks only in so far as the latter were carrying the bourgeois revolution to completion, and that, since the fundamental aim of October was not a bourgeois, but a socialist revolution, this support on the part of the peasantry as a whole was of a conditional and restricted character.
You, in essence, contested this, since in your first letter you denied the fact that in the period following the February Revolution the old slogan was replaced by a new one.
Such was the case.
Now you are compelled to acknowledge in words that the old strategic slogan about the peasantry as a whole, really was replaced by the new strategic slogan about alliance with the poor peasantry.
But having acknowledged this truth, you there and then proceeded, in the Kamenev manner, to cover up your tracks by counterposing the “tactical” task of securing the support of the peasantry as a whole to the “strategic” task of securing an alliance with the poor peasantry; in the Kamenev manner you discredited the truth you had just acknowledged about the second strategic slogan and, in essence, reverted to the old Kamenev position, contriving at the same time falsely to accuse me of not recognising the alleged fact of a certain conditional support rendered to the Bolsheviks in October by the peasantry as a whole.
You evidently do not understand that tactical tasks are part of the strategic task, that the former cannot be identified with the latter, and still less can the one be counterposed to the other.
You evidently do not understand that the support which the peasantry as a whole rendered the proletarian revolution could be only very conditional and restricted, to the extent that the October Revolution was completing the bourgeois revolution, that is, to the extent that it was abolishing landlord proprietorship, landlordism and the political superstructure of landlordism—the monarchy.
You evidently do not know that in October 1917, after the seizure of power by the Soviets, the Petrograd garrison (peasants) refused to go to the front against Kerensky when he was advancing on Petrograd, declaring that they, the garrison, were “for peace and against a new war,” and apparently understanding peace to mean, not the transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war, but sticking their bayonets into the ground, that is, they understood it in the way that you and many other political philistines have understood it (see your first letter).
You evidently do not know that Petrograd was at that time saved from the onslaught of Kerensky and Krasnov by the Red Guards and the sailors.
You evidently do not know that we waged the Civil War in its first phase—in the period from October 1917 to the spring of 1918—chiefly by the efforts of the workers and sailors, and that the so-called support of the “peasantry as a whole” was at that, time expressed for the most part in the fact that they did not directly prevent us from striking at, the enemies of the proletarian revolution.
You evidently do not know that in fact we succeeded in creating the Red Army, as a mass army, only in the latter half of 1918, when the land had already been shared out by the peasants, when the kulak was already sufficiently weakened, when the Soviet power had already succeeded in holding its own, and when the possibility arose of putting into effect the slogan of “a stable alliance with the middle peasant.”. . .
Of course, it is possible to write all kinds of nonsense and fiction—paper will tolerate everything; it is possible, in the Kamenev manner, to twist and dodge and cover up one’s tracks. . . . But, after all, there is a limit.
4. Carried away by the “artistry” of your pen, and having conveniently forgotten your first letter, you assert that I have misunderstood the question of the growing over of the bourgeois revolution into the socialist revolution. That is indeed laying one’s own fault at another’s door!
What is the growing over of the bourgeois revolution into the socialist revolution? Is it conceivable in our country without replacing the old slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry by a new slogan about the dictatorship of the proletariat and poor peasantry? Obviously not.
Why was it that Lenin fought Kamenev in April 1917, advocating the replacement of the old slogan by a new one and linking this replacement with the transition from the first stage of the Russian revolution (a bourgeois-democratic revolution) to its second stage (a proletarian revolution)? Was it not in order to make possible and to facilitate the growing over of the bourgeois revolution into the socialist revolution? Obviously, it was.
Who was it that objected at that time to going over from the old slogan to the new? Obviously, it was Kamenev.
Who was it that in the spring of 1927 denied the fact that the Bolsheviks had replaced the old strategic slogan by a new strategic slogan in the period of preparation for October? Obviously, it was you, my dear Pokrovsky.
Who was it that corrected this Kamenevist error of Pokrovsky’s? Obviously, it was Comrade Stalin.
Is it not clear from this that you have not understood in the slightest, absolutely not in the slightest, the question of the growing over of the bourgeois revolution into the proletarian revolution?
Conclusion: one must possess the effrontery of an ignoramus and the self-complacency of a narrow-minded equilibrist to turn things upside-down so discourteously as you do, my dear Pokrovsky.
I think the time has come to stop corresponding with you.
June 23, 1927
Published for the first time