J. V. Stalin
Source: Works, Vol. 11, January, 1928 to March, 1929
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup: Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
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.
I think, comrades, that we must first rid our minds of trivialities, of personal matters, and so forth, in order to settle the question which interests us, that of the Right deviation.
Is there a Right, opportunist danger in our Party? Do there exist objective conditions favourable to the development of such a danger? How should this danger be fought? These are the questions that now confront us.
But we shall not settle this question of the Right deviation unless we purge it of all the trivialities and adventitious elements which have surrounded it and which prevent us from understanding its essence.
Zapolsky is wrong in thinking that the question of the Right deviation is an accidental one. He asserts that it is all not a matter of a Right deviation, but of petty squabbles, personal intrigues, etc. Let us assume for a moment that petty squabbles and personal intrigues do play some part here, as in all struggles. But to explain everything by petty squabbles and to fail to see the essence of the question behind the squabbles, is to depart from the correct, Marxist path.
A large, united organisation of long standing, such as the Moscow organisation undoubtedly is, could not be stirred up from top to bottom and set into motion by the efforts of a few squabblers or intriguers. No, comrades, such miracles do not happen. That is apart from the fact that the strength and power of the Moscow organisation cannot be estimated so lightly. Obviously, more profound causes have been at work here causes which have nothing to do with either petty squabbles or intrigues.
Fruntov is also wrong; for although he admits the existence of a Right danger, he does not think it worth while for serious, busy people to concern themselves with it seriously. In his opinion, the question of the Right deviation is a subject for noise-makers, not for serious people. I quite understand Fruntov: he is so absorbed in the day-to-day practical work that he has no time to think about the prospects of our development. But that does not mean that we must convert the narrow, practical empiricism of certain of our Party workers into a dogma of our work of construction. A healthy practicalism is a good thing; but if it loses sight of the prospects in the work and fails to subordinate the work to the basic line of the Party, it becomes a drawback. And yet it should not be difficult to understand that the question of the Right deviation is a question of the basic line of our Party; it is the question as to whether the prospects of development outlined by our Party at the Fifteenth Congress are correct or incorrect.
Those comrades who in discussing the problem of the Right deviation concentrate on the question of the individuals representing the Right deviation are also wrong. Show us who are the Rights and the conciliators, they say, name them, so that we can deal with them accordingly. That is not the correct way of presenting the question. Individuals, of course, play some part. Nevertheless, the question is not one of individuals, but of the conditions, of the situation, giving rise to the Right danger in the Party. Individuals can be kept out, but that does not mean that we have thereby cut the roots of the Right danger in our Party. Hence, the question of individuals does not settle the matter, although it is undoubtedly of interest.
In this connection I cannot help recalling an incident which occurred in Odessa at the end of 1919 and the beginning of 1920, when our forces, having driven Denikin's forces out of the Ukraine, were crushing the last remnants of his armies in the area of Odessa. One group of Red Army men searched high and low for the "Entente" in Odessa, convinced that if they could only capture it—the Entente—the war would be over. (General laughter.) It is conceivable that our Red Army men might have captured some representatives of the Entente in Odessa, but that, of course, would not have settled the question of the Entente, for the roots of the Entente did not lie in Odessa, although Odessa at that time was the Denikinites' last terrain, but in world capitalism.
The same can be said of certain of our comrades, who in the question of the Right deviation concentrate on the individuals representing that deviation, and forget about the conditions that give rise to it.
That is why we must first of all elucidate here the conditions that give rise to the Right, and also to the "Left" (Trotskyite), deviation from the Leninist line.
Under capitalist conditions the Right deviation in communism signifies a tendency, an inclination that has not yet taken shape, it is true, and is perhaps not yet consciously realised, but nevertheless a tendency of a section of the Communists to depart from the revolutionary line of Marxism in the direction of Social-Democracy. When certain groups of Communists deny the expediency of the slogan "Class against class" in election campaigns (France), or are opposed to the Communist Party nominating its own candidates (Britain), or are disinclined to make a sharp issue of the fight against "Left" Social-Democracy (Germany), etc., etc., it means that there are people in the Communist Parties who are striving to adapt communism to Social-Democratism.
A victory of the Right deviation in the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries would mean the ideological rout of the Communist Parties and an enormous strengthening of Social-Democratism. And what does an enormous strengthening of Social-Democratism mean? It means the strengthening and consolidation of capitalism, for Social-Democracy is the main support of capitalism in the working class.
Consequently, a victory of the Right deviation in the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries would lead to a development of the conditions necessary for the preservation of capitalism.
Under the conditions of Soviet development, when capitalism has already been overthrown, but its roots have not yet been torn out, the Right deviation in communism signifies a tendency, an inclination that has not yet taken shape, it is true, and is perhaps not yet consciously realised, but nevertheless a tendency of a section of the Communists to depart from the general line of our Party in the direction of bourgeois ideology. When certain circles of our Communists strive to drag the Party back from the decisions of the Fifteenth Congress, by denying the need for an offensive against the capitalist elements in the countryside; or demand a contraction of our industry, in the belief that its present rapid rate of development is fatal for the country; or deny the expediency of subsidies to the collective farms and state farms, in the belief that such subsidies are money thrown to the winds; or deny the expediency of fighting against bureaucracy by methods of self-criticism, in the belief that self-criticism undermines our apparatus; or demand that the monopoly of foreign trade be relaxed, etc., etc., it means that there are people in the ranks of our Party who are striving, perhaps without themselves realising it, to adapt our socialist construction to the tastes and requirements of the "Soviet" bourgeoisie.
A victory of the Right deviation in our Party would mean an enormous strengthening of the capitalist elements in our country. And what does the strengthening of the capitalist elements in our country mean? It means weakening the proletarian dictatorship and increasing the chances of the restoration of capitalism.
Consequently, a victory of the Right deviation in our Party would mean a development of the conditions necessary for the restoration of capitalism in our country.
Have we in our Soviet country any of the conditions that would make the restoration of capitalism possible? Yes, we have. That, comrades, may appear strange, but it is a fact. We have overthrown capitalism, we have established the dictatorship of the proletariat, we are developing our socialist industry at a rapid pace and are linking peasant economy with it. But we have not yet torn out the roots of capitalism. Where are these roots imbedded? They are imbedded in commodity production, in small production in the towns and, especially, the countryside.
As Lenin says, the strength of capitalism lies "in the strength of small production. For, unfortunately, small production is still very, very widespread in the world, and small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously, and on a mass scale" (see Vol. XXV, p. 173).
It is clear that, since small production bears a mass, and even a predominant character in our country, and since it engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously and on a mass scale, particularly under the conditions of NEP, we have in our country conditions which make the restoration of capitalism possible.
Have we in our Soviet country the necessary means and forces to abolish, to eliminate the possibility of the restoration of capitalism? Yes, we have. And it is this fact that proves the correctness of Lenin's thesis on the possibility of building a complete socialist society in the U.S.S.R. For this purpose it is necessary to consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat strengthen the alliance between the working class and peasantry, develop our key positions from the standpoint of industrialising the country, develop industry at a rapid rate, electrify the country, place the whole of our national economy on a new technical basis, organise the peasantry into co-operatives on a mass scale and increase the yield of its farms gradually unite the individual peasant farms into socially conducted, collective farms, develop state farms, restrict and overcome the capitalist elements in town and country, etc., etc. Here is what Lenin says on this subject:
"As long as we live in a small-peasant country, there is a surer economic basis for capitalism in Russia than for communism. This must be borne in mind. Anyone who has carefully observed life in the countryside, as compared with life in the towns, knows that we have not torn out the roots of capitalism and have not undermined the foundation, the basis of the internal enemy. The latter depends on small-scale production, and there is only one way of undermining it, namely, to place the economy of the country, including agriculture, on a new technical basis, the technical basis of modern large-scale production. And it is only electricity that is such a basis. Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country. Otherwise, the country will remain a small-peasant country, and we have got to understand that clearly. We are weaker than capitalism, not only on a world scale, but also within the country. Everybody knows this. We are conscious of it, and we shall see to it that our economic base is transformed from a small-peasant base into a large-scale industrial base. Only when the country has been electrified, only when our industry, our agriculture, our transport system have been placed upon the technical basis of modern large-scale industry shall we achieve final victory" (Vol. XXVI, pp. 46-47).
It follows, firstly, that as long as we live in a small-peasant country, as long as we have not torn out the roots of capitalism, there is a surer economic basis for capitalism than for communism. It may happen that you cut down a tree but fail to tear out the roots; your strength does not suffice for this. Hence the possibility of the restoration of capitalism in our country.
Secondly, it follows that besides the possibility of the restoration of capitalism there is also the possibility of the victory of socialism in our country, because we can destroy the possibility of the restoration of capitalism, we can tear out the roots of capitalism and achieve final victory over capitalism in our country, if we intensify the work of electrifying the country, if we place our industry, agriculture and transport on the technical basis of modern, large-scale industry. Hence the possibility of the victory of socialism in our country.
Lastly, it follows that we cannot build socialism in industry alone and leave agriculture to the mercy of spontaneous development on the assumption that the countryside will "move by itself" following the lead of the towns. The existence of socialist industry in the towns is the principal factor in the socialist transformation of the countryside. But it does not mean that that factor is quite sufficient. If the socialist towns are to take the lead of the peasant countryside all the way, it is essential, as Lenin says, "to place the economy of the country, including agriculture,* on a new technical basis, the technical basis of modern large-scale production."
Does this quotation from Lenin contradict another of his statements, to the effect that "NEP fully ensures us the possibility * of laying the foundation of a socialist economy"? No, it does not. On the contrary, the two statements fully coincide. Lenin by no means says that NEP gives us socialism ready-made. Lenin merely says that NEP ensures us the possibility of laying the foundation of a socialist economy. There is a great difference between the possibility of building socialism and the actual building of socialism. Possibility and actuality must not be confused. It is precisely for the purpose of transforming possibility into actuality that Lenin proposes the electrification of the country and the placing of industry, agriculture and transport on the technical basis of modern large-scale production as a condition for the final victory of socialism in our country.
But this condition for the building of socialism cannot be fulfilled in one or two years. It is impossible in one or two years to industrialise the country, build up a powerful industry, organise the vast masses of the peasantry into co-operatives, place agriculture on a new technical basis, unite the individual peasant farms into large collective farms, develop state farms, and restrict and overcome the capitalist elements in town and country. Years and years of intense constructive work by the proletarian dictatorship will be needed for this. And until that is accomplished—and it can not be accomplished all at once—we shall remain a small peasant country, where small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously and on a mass scale, and where the danger of the restoration of capitalism remains.
And since our proletariat does not live in a vacuum, but in the midst of the most actual and real life with all its variety of forms, the bourgeois elements arising on the basis of small production "encircle the proletariat on every side with petty bourgeois elemental forces, by means of which they permeate and corrupt the proletariat and continually cause relapses among the proletariat into petty-bourgeois spinelessness, disunity, individualism, and alternate moods of exaltation and dejection" (Lenin, Vol. XXV, p. 189), thereby introducing into the ranks of the proletariat and of its Party a certain amount of vacillation, a certain amount of wavering.
There you have the root and the basis of all sorts of vacillations and deviations from the Leninist line in the ranks of our Party.
That is why the Right and "Left" deviations in our Party cannot be regarded as a trifling matter.
Where does the danger of the Right, frankly opportunist, deviation in our Party lie? In the fact that it underestimates the strength of our enemies, the strength of capitalism: it does not see the danger of the restoration of capitalism; it does not understand the mechanism of the class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat and therefore so readily agrees to make concessions to capitalism, demanding a slowing down of the rate of development of our industry, demanding concessions for the capitalist elements in town and country, demanding that the question of collective farms and state farms be relegated to the background, demanding that the monopoly of foreign trade be relaxed, etc., etc.
There is no doubt that the triumph of the Right deviation in our Party would unleash the forces of capitalism, undermine the revolutionary positions of the proletariat and increase the chances of the restoration of capitalism in our country.
Where does the danger of the "Left" (Trotskyite) deviation in our Party lie? In the fact that it overestimates the strength of our enemies, the strength of capitalism; it sees only the possibility of the restoration of capitalism, but cannot see the possibility of building socialism by the efforts of our country; it gives way to despair and is obliged to console itself with chatter about Thermidor tendencies in our Party.
From the words of Lenin that "as long as we live in a small peasant country, there is a surer economic basis for capitalism in Russia than for communism," the "Left" deviation draws the false conclusion that it is impossible to build socialism in the U.S.S.R. at all; that we cannot get anywhere with the peasantry; that the idea of an alliance between the working class and the peasantry is an obsolete idea; that unless a victorious revolution in the West comes to our aid the dictatorship of the proletariat in the U.S.S.R. must fall or degenerate; that unless we adopt the fantastic plan of super-industrialisation, even at the cost of a split with the peasantry, the cause of socialism in the U.S.S.R. must be regarded as doomed.
Hence the adventurism in the policy of the "Left" deviation. Hence its "superhuman" leaps in the sphere of policy.
There is no doubt that the triumph of the "Left" deviation in our Party would lead to the working class being separated from its peasant base, to the vanguard of the working class being separated from the rest of the working-class masses, and, consequently, to the defeat of the proletariat and to facilitating conditions for the restoration of capitalism.
You see, therefore, that both these dangers, the "Left" and the Right, both these deviations from the Leninist line, the Right and the "Left," lead to the same result, although from different directions.
Which of these dangers is worse? In my opinion one is as bad as the other.
The difference between these deviations from the point of view of successfully combating them consists in the fact that the danger of the "Left" deviation is at the present moment more obvious to the Party than the danger of the Right deviation. The fact that an intense struggle has been waged against the "Left" deviation for several years now has, of course, not been without its value for the Party. It is clear that the Party has learned a great deal in the years of the fight against the "Left," Trotskyite deviation and cannot now be easily deceived by "Left" phrases.
As for the Right danger, which existed before, but which has now become more prominent because of the growth of the petty-bourgeois elemental forces resulting from last year's grain-procurement crisis, I think it is not quite so obvious to certain sections of our Party. That is why our task must be—while not in the least relaxing the fight against the "Left," Trotskyite danger—to lay the emphasis on the fight against the Right deviation and to take all measures to make the danger of this deviation as obvious to the Party as the Trotskyite danger.
The question of the Right deviation would not, perhaps, be as acute as it is now, were it not for the fact that it is connected with the difficulties accompanying our development. But the whole point is that the existence of the Right deviation complicates the difficulties accompanying our development and hinders our efforts to overcome these difficulties. And for the very reason that the Right danger hinders the efforts to overcome the difficulties, the question of overcoming the Right danger has assumed particularly great importance for us.
A few words about the nature of our difficulties. It should be borne in mind that our difficulties should by no means be regarded as difficulties of stagnation or decline. There are difficulties that arise at a time of economic decline or stagnation, and in such cases efforts are made to render the stagnation less painful, or the decline less profound. Our difficulties have nothing in common with difficulties of that kind. The characteristic feature of our difficulties is that they are difficulties of expansion, difficulties of growth. When we speak about difficulties we usually mean by what percentage industry ought to be expanded, by what percentage the crop area ought to be enlarged, by how many poods the crop yield ought to be increased, etc., etc. And because our difficulties are those of expansion, and not of decline or stagnation, they should not be anything particularly dangerous for the Party.
But difficulties are difficulties, nevertheless. And since in order to overcome difficulties it is necessary to exert all efforts, to display firmness and endurance, and since not everybody possesses sufficient firmness and endurance—perhaps as a result of fatigue and overstrain, or because of a preference for a quiet life, free from struggle and commotion—it is just here that vacillations and waverings begin to take place, tendencies to adopt the line of least resistance, talk about slowing down the rate of industrial development, about making concessions to the capitalist elements, about rejecting collective farms and state farms and, in general, everything that goes beyond the calm and familiar conditions of the daily routine.
But unless we overcome the difficulties in our path we shall make no progress. And in order to overcome the difficulties we must first defeat the Right danger, we must first overcome the Right deviation, which is hindering the fight against the difficulties and is trying to undermine our Party's will to fight and overcome the difficulties.
I am speaking, of course, of a real fight against the Right deviation, not a verbal, paper fight. There are people in our Party who, to soothe their conscience, are quite willing to proclaim a fight against the Right danger in the same way as priests sometimes cry, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" But they will not undertake any practical measures at all to organise the fight against the Right deviation on a firm basis, and to overcome this deviation in actual fact. We call this tendency a conciliatory tendency towards the Right, frankly opportunist, deviation. It is not difficult to understand that the fight against this conciliatory tendency is an integral part of the general fight against the Right deviation, against the Right danger. For it is impossible to overcome the Right, opportunist deviation without waging a systematic fight against the conciliatory tendency, which takes the opportunists under its wing.
The question who are the exponents of the Right deviation is undoubtedly of interest, although it is not of decisive importance. We came across exponents of the Right danger in our lower Party organisations during the grain-procurement crisis last year, when a number of Communists in the volosts and villages opposed the Party's policy and worked towards forming a bond with kulak elements. As you know, such people were cleared out of the Party last spring, a matter specially referred to in the document of the Central Committee of our Party in February this year.
But it would be wrong to say that there are no such people left in our Party. If we go higher up, to the uyezd and gubernia Party organisations, or if we dig deeper into the Soviet and co-operative apparatus, we could without difficulty find exponents of the Right danger and conciliation towards it. We know of "letters," "declarations," and other documents written by a number of functionaries in our Party and Soviet apparatus, in which the drift towards the Right deviation is quite distinctly expressed. You know that these letters and documents were referred to in the verbatim report of the July plenum of the Central Committee.
If we go higher still, and ask about the members of the Central Committee, we shall have to admit that within the Central Committee, too, there are certain elements, very insignificant it is true, of a conciliatory attitude towards the Right danger. The verbatim report of the July plenum of the Central Committee provides direct proof of this.
Well, and what about the Political Bureau? Are there any deviations in the Political Bureau? In the Political Bureau there are neither Right nor "Left" deviations nor conciliators towards those deviations. This must be said quite categorically. It is time to put a stop to the tittle-tattle spread by enemies of the Party and by the oppositionists of all kinds about there being a Right deviation, or a conciliatory attitude towards the Right deviation, in the Political Bureau of our Central Committee.
Were there vacillations and waverings in the Moscow organisation, or in its top leadership, the Moscow Committee? Yes, there were. It would be absurd to assert now that there were no waverings, no vacillations there. The candid speech made by Penkov is direct proof of this. Penkov is by no means the least important person in the Moscow organisation and in the Moscow Committee. You heard him plainly and frankly admit that he had been wrong on a number of important questions of our Party policy. That does not mean, of course, that the Moscow Committee as a whole was subject to vacillation. No, it does not mean that. A document like the appeal of the Moscow Committee to the members of the Moscow organisation in October of this year undoubtedly shows that the Moscow Committee has succeeded in overcoming the vacillations of certain of its members. I have no doubt that the leading core of the Moscow Committee will be able completely to straighten out the situation.
Certain comrades are dissatisfied with the fact that the district organisations interfered in this matter and demanded that an end be put to the mistakes and vacillations of certain leaders of the Moscow organisation. I do not see how this dissatisfaction can be justified. What is there wrong about district activists of the Moscow organisation raising the demand that an end be put to mistakes and vacillations? Does not our work proceed under the slogan of self-criticism from below? Is it not a fact that self-criticism increases the activity of the Party rank and file and of the proletarian rank and file in general? What is there wrong or dangerous in the fact that the district activists proved equal to the situation?
Did the Central Committee act rightly in interfering in this matter? I think that it did. Berzin thinks that the Central Committee acted too drastically in demanding the removal of one of the district leaders to whom the district organisation was opposed. That is absolutely wrong. Let me remind Berzin of certain incidents in 1919 or 1920, when some members of the Central Committee who were guilty of certain, in my opinion, not very serious errors in respect of the Party line were, on Lenin's suggestion, subjected to exemplary punishment, one of them being sent to Turkestan, and the other almost paying the penalty of expulsion from the Central Committee.
Was Lenin right in acting as he did? I think he was quite right. The situation in the Central Committee then was not what it is now. Half the members of the Central Committee followed Trotsky, and the situation in the Central Committee was not a stable one. The Central Committee today is acting much more mildly. Why? Is it, perhaps, because we want to be more gentle than Lenin? No, that is not the point. The point is that the position of the Central Committee is more stable now than it was then, and the Central Committee can afford to act more mildly.
Nor is Sakharov right in asserting that the intervention of the Central Committee was belated. Sakharov is wrong because he evidently does not know that, properly speaking, the intervention of the Central Committee began in February of this year. Sakharov can convince himself of that if he desires. It is true that the intervention of the Central Committee did not immediately yield required results. But it would be strange to blame the Central Committee for that.
1) the Right danger is a serious danger in our Party, for it is rooted in the social and economic situation in our country;
2) the danger of the Right deviation is aggravated by the existence of difficulties which cannot be overcome unless the Right deviation and conciliation towards it are overcome;
3) in the Moscow organisation there were vacillations and waverings, there were elements of instability;
4) the core of the Moscow Committee, with the help of the Central Committee and the district activists, took all measures to put an end to these vacillations;
5) there can be no doubt that the Moscow Committee will succeed in overcoming the mistakes which began to take shape in the past;
6) our task is to put a stop to the internal struggle, to unite the Moscow organisation into a single whole, and to carry through the elections in the Party units successfully on the basis of fully developed self-criticism. (Applause.)
Pravda, No. 247, October 23, 1928
* My italics.—J. Stalin