Alarm Signal! Danger Draws Closer in USSR

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PART I[edit source]

One would be a coward or purblind to minimize the extent of the danger – catastrophe looms over the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), the ruling party of the first proletarian state. It can be prevented only by the self-sacrificing struggle of the advanced workers.

The situation is so pregnant with danger that to confine oneself to phrases and hints would mean to participate in the activities of the ruling faction that is sapping the October Revolution. Under the Stalinist regime, the class enemies are better informed of all that takes place or is about to be undertaken, than the working class. The possible attempts on the part of counter-revolutionists to make use of our outspoken criticism do not present one one-hundredth part of that danger which is borne by the malignant misinformation spread by the bureaucracy and by the enforced silence of the proletarian vanguard.

In a broad historical sense, the situation of the Soviet Union cannot be so hopeless as is the situation of world Capitalism which finds itself up against an absolute impasse. This general historical perspective not only completely justifies the October Revolution, insofar as it requires justification, but it also dooms beforehand as utterly reactionary all programs of the petty bourgeois democracy (Mensheviks, Social-Revolutionists, etc., etc.), which inevitably reduce themselves to the restoration of “democratic” capitalism. Even in the event of the victory of the counter-revolution, the Soviet hydra will grow a new head in place of each one that is chopped off. But this does not at all mean that one may with an easy conscience, permit the Stalinist bureaucracy to bring ruin upon the present, living Soviet regime. In the given case, the historical reckoning is a reckoning in terms of decades. Ultimately, the downfall of the Soviet State would express itself only as an historical episode. But should this happen, it would be one of the most horrible episodes in universal history. Our sole task lies in preventing it. Meanwhile the danger approaches closer and closer. Sound the alarm! We must sound the alarm!

Bureaucratic Sabotage of Socialist Construction Under the Guise of Infallible Leadership[edit source]

By dint of unbelievable exertions on the part of the toilers, at the cost of innumerable privations and sacrifices there have been created grandiose technical values, there have been gained extraordinary productive victories. The October revolution has demonstrated to mankind the potentialities inherent in Socialism, by speaking in terms of steel, cement and kilowatts of electrical energy. But during this same period, the bureaucratic leadership, which is self-sufficient and irresponsible, which is incapable of foreseeing and intolerant of criticism, which has been blinded by the mirage of socialism in one country, has brought national economy to the brink of absolute chaos. Industrial conquests and technical achievements are devoured by disproportions and gaps. No one so much as bothers to consult the opinion of workers and peasants upon the most fundamental question in the life of the nation – how much should be used, and how much put away for the future. The bureaucracy takes stock at a glance and proceeds to act, rejecting the objective criteria of achievements, recognizing no laws other than the laws it willfully wills, supplanting plans with commands and balance-sheets with coercion. The task that is most complex, the task that not only was never before solved but never even undertaken – to achieve by means of planned forecasting and regulation the mutual congruity between the branches of a growing economy of an enormous country; this task which by its very nature is insolvable without the daily experience of millions, without their critical checking over their own collective experience, without their openly expressing their needs and demands – this gigantic, all-embracing, nation-wide historical task is solved within official sanctums, in the secretariat of the CEC, all depending upon how the spirit moves it, and upon what this or the other spetz buzzes. What could be more monstrous?

Even if the Politbureau consisted of seven universal geniuses, of seven Marxes, or seven Lenins, it would have still been incapable all on its own, with all its creative imagination, to command over the economy of 170 million souls. But that is precisely the gist of the matter, the Politbureau of Marxes or Lenins would have never even posed itself such a task. And on the other hand, the present Politbureau consists of second-rate bureaucrats who are drunk with the power they have wrested from the party, who have lost the ground from under their feet and who are most of all concerned with preserving their inflated personal prestige.

Is it so long since that these homunculi repeated their badly thought out formula of the alliance between workers and peasants, as the foundation of foundations? How long ago is it that they worshiped the middle peasant? How long ago did they ignore the very existence of the kulak? How many ages is it since they rejected the program of planned industrialization in the name of, presumably, preserving the “link” between the city and the village? Frightened by the consequences of their own negligence, they threw themselves into the extremes of 100 percent collectivization. Twenty-five million of isolated peasant egos, who only the day before represented the motive power of rural economy – greedy, feeble as the moujik’s nag, but prime movers nevertheless – these millions the bureaucracy attempted to supplant at a single blow by the administrative will of 200,000 Kolkhozi (collective farms) directorates which were without the necessary equipment, the necessary training, and which lacked the necessary support of the peasantry itself.

The excessive shift in the apportionment of national income – from the village to the city, from light industry to the heavy industry; the ominous disproportions within industry, light as well as heavy – has excessively lowered the efficient functioning of labor power and capital expenditures. The economic link (smytchka) between the state industry and the peasantry turned out to have been broken prior to its having been achieved. The chervonmetz in the pocket of a moujik fell into the same relation to commodities as a lottery ticket stands in relation to the prize. The new form of the link, which is so important in the perspectives of transforming the village, namely the productive link, which is realized by tractors and farming machinery, lost at once all its force of attraction in the eyes of the peasant, insofar us its actual fruits remain unrealized by him. Fifteen million peasant farms have been collectivized, and ten million private enterprises have been consciously placed under such conditions are not to permit the exposure of the superiority of barbaric small-scale economy over the purely bureaucratic collectivization. Thus by means of combined resources the bureaucracy succeeded in weakening if not in killing all stimulus for work within the peasantry. The harvest of crops, even previously extremely low, began to drop ominously. From quarter to quarter the supply of industry with raw materials and of cities with foodstuffs worsens catastrophically. The onerous conditions under which the workers live generate the turnover of labor within enterprises as well as lapses, careless work, damaging of machinery, high percentage of damaged products, and low quality in grade of production. The entire planned economy falls under the blow.

Money Inflation[edit source]

The bureaucracy has rid itself not only of political control on the part of the masses but also of the automatic control on the part of the chervonetz. All the draft figures pertaining to the economic budget, to the quality of production, to basic costs and the productivity of labor – all these have been swirled away like so much dust when the inflation completely liquidated the stable unit of value. Bureaucratic supervision tried its hand in this case as well to supplant economic reality; the gospel of “Stalin’s six conditions” was designated from then on to fulfill the function of a stable system of currency. This amounts to the same thing as feeding excerpts from a cook-book in place of proper food.

Money inflation means an ever increasing tax upon the living standards of the masses. By killing the interest of the worker in piecework wages, by fostering the indignation of the peasant against fixed prices for rural products, inflation sets a frenzied premium upon speculation and the speculator.

He lies who affirms that under socialist construction there would be nothing to fear from inflation. On the contrary, during the first steps of planned economy – and this covers a series of five year plans – inflation becomes especially dangerous, not to say ruinous. That is precisely how a plan checks itself by being compelled to make both ends meet, without inflation. To proclaim that the very existence of a plan nullifies the danger of inflation is approximately the same thing as to insist that the presence of a compass on the ship eliminates the danger of an existing leak. Money inflation becomes the source of credit inflation. The gaps within the plan are stuffed with printed paper. Real criteria give way to fictitious criteria. Planned economy is ravaged from within. For the employees of the Planning Commission there should be hung signs within all offices where the contradictory specifications of the Political Bureau are translated into statistics, each sign with the warning: “Inflation is the syphilis of Planned Economy”.

Who Will Prevail?[edit source]

The costliness of premature rudimental bureaucratic collective farms alongside of dislocation of the ties between rural economy and industry, leads to the paralysis of the peasants’ will to economic activity. In order to partially return to the moujik the economic stimulus he has lost, the Stalinist leadership has legalized within well-known limits, free markets, screening them under the Jesuitical name of kolkhoz trade. The exclusion of traders – middlemen – under the legalization of private trade, signifies a monstrous crazy-quilt of prices in a speculation which is atomized and therefore more insane. The prices on the markets at once rose ten, fifteen and twenty times over the fixed government prices.

Naturally enough, the collectivized farmer sent bread and other products into those channels outside of the state. “This constitutes the negative side of kolkhoz trade,” asserts Stalin, without, however, drawing any further conclusions. “Negative sides!” But this very fact – the fact that the collectivized moujik prefers the channels of private trade and speculation to the planned trade with the state – means nothing else but that the economic link between the state and the peasantry has still not even been attained.

Free trade, by raising to the most excessive heights the column of mercury that gauges prices, has brought out into the open the malignant condition of the economic organism. The struggle against this disease demanded a radical re-examination of economic plans and a no less radical revision of the methods of management. Frightened by the facts recorded by the rise of the mercury, the bureaucracy, however, decided to direct its activities towards the thermometer itself. Molotov proclaimed the impending “regulation” of market prices. According to the signs, the economic centers have already taken to this course. As if it is possible to reduce the temperature of a sick organism by lowering the zero point on the scale of the thermometer! The economy must be cured. One must begin with an open acknowledgment that the question Who Will Prevail?, despite the official boasting, remains not only still unsolved even in the rough, but that the very conditions for its solution have excessively worsened as a result of the incessant and uncoordinated bureaucratic coercion of the living tissues of economy.

The piling up of fixed prices, those set conventionally and the prices in the free market; the transition from planned collection of raw material stock, that is, the semblance of trade between the government and the peasantry, to grain, meat, and milk taxes; the struggle not for survival but against death itself, against the mass pillage of kolkhoz property, and against the mass concealment of pillage; the out and out military mobilization of the party for a struggle against kulak sabotage, after the “liquidation” of the kulak as a class; and simultaneously with all this: the undernourishment in the cities, the return to the card system and to the rations, and finally, the restoration of the passport system – what do all these measures mean, independently of the fact whether they are correct or no, if not the return of that cruel struggle between the capitalist and the socialist tendencies, which in 1932 revived a number of features of 1918–1919?

The bureaucracy leans harder and harder upon the administrative lever instead of pulling asunder the framework that restricts the personal interests of the peasants in conformance with the real condition of rural economy. It has been decided “to place” Communists, who will obey the orders of the ruling center, in charge of the kolkhozi which ideally represent volunteer producing cooperatives. Simultaneously with this, the CEC testifies that the village Communists are becoming soaked with the spirit of peasant opposition and must undergo a mass purification. In the meantime, no less than one and a half million of kolkhoz Communists are required in order to fill the commanding kolkhoz positions by party members. Where will they come from?

To force upon the peasant collectives, economic leadership in accordance with party tokens means to undermine not only the kolkhozi but also the authority of the party; it means to substitute a new dose of administrative coercion for the task of economic competition; it means not to go ahead of the Nep but to retrace one’s steps back away from it, to “Military Communism”, even if on a higher economic plane.

The Balance Sheet of the First Five Year Plan[edit source]

The moment at which the first five year plan was concluded coincided with the extreme sharpening of economic difficulties which did not obtain since the period of civil war. But the bureaucracy leads a double life, one for display and the other – in reality. This duality it transfer’s everywhere, among others, into the sphere of economic statistics.

With a stop-watch in his hands, Stalin insists that if the plan is fulfilled only 93.7, and not 100 percent, it is only because the threat of Japanese intervention, which could not have been forseen at the time the plan was formulated, had swallowed up 6.3 per cent. In other words, the blueprints of the CEC have been confirmed to the dot by the fulfillment of a gigantic plan which constitutes the first experiment of mankind in that sphere, which encompasses from all sides the life of a nation with a 170,000,000 souls and which moreover, was drawn five full years beforehand! If nothing else, this astonishing precision in identity between the design and the realization must arouse the acutest distrust in the entire report on the part of anyone familiar with the ABC rudiments of the question. It is sufficient to remark that, according to the casual admission of Molotov, the productivity of industry in 1932 grew only 8.5 percent against the 36 percent which was set by the yearly plan! Where has this grandiose lapse disappeared as well as the lapses of preceding years? Stalin can produce falsified figures, consciously misleading workers and peasants. The report is necessarily drawn in rubles. Within this supple implement of the report there is to be found the key to the secret of the astonishing coincidence between the initial and final figures. Thus, the tremendous over-expenditures in construction are set down as over-fulfillments of the plan, when as a matter of fact, the material results of the construction, despite the billions of over-expenditure, lag behind the plan several times ten per cent.[1]

We are least of all inclined to look! upon the fulfillment of the economic plan as a hit and miss affair and would have considered the fulfillment of the five year plan within six, seven or eight years a grandiose success, under the condition that, simultaneously, the disproportions were mitigated and the standard of living of the masses was raised. But it is precisely upon these more important criteria that we have the most unfavorable evidence.

The composers of a plan proclaimed in their own time as their task, “to lift up the country to a new and hitherto unseen, high level of material and cultural development”. Even during the first two years the mitigation of the famine in commodities was to have been attained; the next two years were to have initiated the superabundance of goods. In the fifth year, the consumption of industrial products, should have increased, according to various categories, one and a half, two, and two and a half times. The increase in meat consumption was specified at 25 percent, in dairy products – 50 percent, etc., etc. In actuality, the shortage in commodities has become unbearably acute, the supply of bread has sharply decreased, meat and dairy products have become rarities. But in return for this, there has been created the theory that socialism is not a consumers’ organization of society. The consolation bears too close a resemblance to mockery! In the midst of newly erected factories, plants, mines, electric stations, collective and Soviet farms, the workers and peasants begin to feel more and more as if they are in the midst of gigantic phantoms, indifferent to the fate of living men. An acute feeling of disillusionment has possessed the masses. The populace, as consumers, can no longer understand to what end they are straining their forces as producers.

Had Stalin openly confessed, “the results obtained did not match our expectations because we had neglected much, over-estimated a great deal, and failed to fulfill a great deal more” – then the toiling masses, of course, would not have fallen into ecstasy about the leadership; but they would have taken the confession into account; and, in all probability, would have extended the leaders an additional respite. But Stalin said the plan was marvelous, the leadership holds the heights, the design has been fulfilled to the slightest detail. In that case, what about the lamentable results? Stalin is imposing upon the masses the idea that it is not he, Stalin, who is rotten, but the very elements of the plan. The bureaucracy identifies its own blindness with socialism and, while saving the reputation of its own infallibility, vilifies socialism in the eyes of the workers and especially the peasants. It seems, as if the bureaucracy is consciously striving to force the masses to find a way out other than socialism.

PART II[edit source]

The Second Five Year Plan[edit source]

The Seventeenth party Conference, in February 1932, approved the directives of the second five year plan. Its annual coefficient of growth of industry was set at 25 percent, whereat Stalin explained that this coefficient would even be surpassed in the process of configuration and fulfillment. The Left Oppositionists cautioned against record-breaking leaps in industrialization. They were accused of counter-revolution, and placed in solitary confinement.

Eleven months later, in January 1933, Stalin proclaimed unexpectedly that the coefficient of growth during the second five year plan would be, in all probability, around 13 percent. None so much as dared to contradict him or to refer to the decision of the year before. Thus, the actual results of the first five year plan buried the fantastic project of the second five year plan, before the latter could have been supplanted by a new one. At present, there is no second five year plan at all. Nor is there any possibility of one in view of the chaotic condition of economy at the close of the first five year plan. The January plenum sketched out only hazy directives. Considerable time will yet be spent upon a formulation of the second five year plan and it will undergo more than one change.

The current year 1933 turned out to be separated factually from the second five year plan. The control figures for it have been designated apart from the general perspective. Obviously, the concocters of the plan for 1933 sought only to mitigate those disproportions, and to plug up those yawning gaps which were inherited from the first five year plan.

In their reports, Molotov and Ordjonikidze tried to mock at our proposal that 1933 be set apart as the year of “capital reconstruction of Soviet economy”. The reporters cited as a fact that during 1933 new enterprises would also be undertaken. As if we had excluded this, as if we had made a point of putting patches on old rubbers, and not of the “reconstruction” of economy as a whole. The struggle to restore the disrupted balance presupposes, necessarily, also new constructions, but under the head of correcting mistakes made in the past, and not under the chapter of piling up new mistakes.

Thus, under the blows of the crisis, which it did not foresee, and which it does not openly admit even now after it has broken out, the leadership has been forced to retreat in the sphere of industrialisation even as it had begun to retreat still earlier in the sphere of collectivization. However, it is executing its maneuvers of retreat stealthily, partially, without a plan, hiding the significance of its own actions from others as well as from itself, and preserving completely thereby, even redoubling its methods of barefaced bureaucratic commandeering. The new zigzag of Stalinist policies is an unmistakable proof of the profound dislocation of Soviet economy, but it is absolutely incapable of leading to n way out of the great wreckage.

Bonapartist Tendencies in the Party[edit source]

Against the background of enforced silence and irresponsibility, the economic crisis becomes a double, triple danger. The more bankrupt and despotic the leadership is, the more widespread becomes the resistance of beings as well as things. The ruling clique takes for granted that only activities of the class enemy are manifest in all types of disharmony opposition, resistance dissatisfaction, passivity and friction which are engendered by objective obstacle, and be case of miscalculations and privations. The bureaucracy, which up to 1928 announced the kulak danger was a canard originated by the Left Opposition, uncovers at present after “the liquidation of the kulak as a class”, the kulak danger there and everywhere, within the Soviet and collective farms, in tractor and machine stations, in plants, factories and state institutions, in party organizations, even within the Central Committee itself. The “damager” is that image up against which the bureaucracy stumbles at every moment, while staring into mirrors and failing to recognize itself. On the other hand, the dislocation of economic relations and the growth of universal discontent do provide actually a culture medium for the bacilli of bourgeois counter-revolution.

Violently driven inward, the economic disproportions – first of all, the disjointure between the city and the village but least of all the commonplace kulak “remainders” or the “survivals” of bourgeois psychology – augment the absolutely unbearable tension in the political relations of the country, impelling the bureaucracy to take to the road of further suppressions of all Soviet social activities, thus breeding the malignant embryos of the Bonapartist regime.

Repressions become the chief method of economic management. With all the earmarks of civil war, the collection of seed takes place and preparations are made for spring sowing. The struggle against slackness which is bred from starvation by apathy proceeds in the form of savage penalties. Shortage of food is met by mass expulsions from cities. The press celebrates as a socialist victory the introduction of the passport system.

The helmsman of the October revolution, the builder of the Soviet state, the Bolshevik party is crushed, bulldozed, trodden under foot, demoralized, or driven underground. The dictatorship of the apparatus that smashed the party has been supplanted by personal dictatorship. Within the apparatus those are handpicked who are trustworthy; from among the trustworthy are chosen the most trustworthy. No one, in effect, trusts any longer in the “leader” whose infallibility has brought about a series of frightful miscarriages. Everybody knows and sees that his own policies have driven Stalin into a blind alley and that he does not know today what Stalin will do tomorrow. But the more the apparatus loses its support in the masses, the more do those who are trustworthy and most trustworthy isolate themselves away from the apparatus, the more religious is the homage paid the sagacity of the “beloved leader” The personal oath of allegiance has completely superseded loyalty to the program. Only those articles and speeches are permitted which rehash the oracular maxims of the leader. The voice of the entire Soviet press has become the voice of swinish and loathsome toadyism. One cannot, without blushing from burning shame, look upon the outraged covenants of the party and the trampled down banner of the October revolution!

Defense of the U.S.S.R.[edit source]

It is self evident how important are the successes of industrialization from the viewpoint of the technical reinforcement of the Red Army and the Red Fleet. The world wide situation imperiously imposes upon the armed forces of the Soviet Union a role of exceptional importance both in the West and the East. But it is precisely within this sphere that a policy of illusions would prove most dangerous and criminal. The Red Army is not reducible to military technique alone. In war, bread and meat play no less a role than projectiles for artillery; the horse occupies no less a place than does the tractor. The living forces of the army have as a reservoir the workers and peasants. The mood of the workers determines the mood of the army. Taken on the scale of a major war, military tech nique itself is a function of the entire economy, demanding from the latter inner harmoniousness and ability to operate without a hitch.

If Stalin seeks to justify the material privations of the toilers as a sacrifice they place upon the altar of state defense, then this explanation is as false as are all the bureaucratic totals of the first five year plan. In point of fact the disjointure between rural economy and industry hits directly at the army and saps at the will power of the Soviet government in the international arena. Without the acute disorganization of Soviet economy the extraordinary insolence of Japanese imperialists as well as the free play for the activities of German Fascism would have been impossible. The Stalinist religion of pacifism, of the Geneva as well as the Amsterdam brand, is the religion of weakness. Today the chief defense of the proletarian State lies in the putrefaction of world capitalism. While that is very important, it is still an insufficient means of defense. In order to conquer the initiative in the world arena, it is necessary to rehabilitate the economic foundation of the Soviet state.

The Stalinized Comintern[edit source]

If one were to leave aside for the moment the conscious and unconscious damage done by the bureaucracy, the onerous internal condition of the Soviet Union is rooted in the economic backwardness of the country and in the international isolation of the proletarian State. But, in its turn, the present isolation is the result of the policies of the Comintern. The vainglorious overestimation of the internal successes achieved in the USSR is just as criminal as the underestimation of the tasks of the international revolution. It is absolutely essential that Soviet economy be built up, step by step, thus reinforcing the foundation of the dictatorship of the proletariat and preparing the elements of the future Socialist state – but that is not enough. Should the European bourgeoisie batter down the workers with the club of Fascism and retard the revolution for decades, no economic successes whatsoever can save the Soviet Union. The problem of capitalist encirclement poses us face to face with the strategy and tactic of the Communist International, its chain of mistakes and crimes.

Within the USSR, where the Stalinist bureaucracy has at its disposal the mighty resources of the State, its policies could still masquerade its bankruptcy for a number of years; squandering the basic capital of the revolution but not leading directly to catastrophic consequences. On the world arena, where the open struggle is compulsory against the social democracy and all other forces of bourgeois society, the policies of bureaucratic Centrism have already succeeded in exposing themselves in all countries and in all quarters of the globe, as the systematic, even if unconscious sabotage of the proletarian revolution. For the past ten years, the Stalinist leadership has contributed nothing to the struggle of the international proletarian vanguard, save mistakes, confusion, demoralization and defeat. Bulgaria, Germany (1923), Esthonia, once again Bulgaria (1924), China (the period of the bloc with Chiang Kai-Shek as well as all the subsequent policies), England (the Anglo-Russian Committee), Spain (the period of revolution) – such is the far from complete geographical inventory of the genuine deeds of damage perpetrated by the Centrist bureaucracy in the sphere of international revolution. The growing isolation of the Soviet Union cannot be compensated for by any “non-aggression pacts” whatsoever.

There has not remained a living spot upon the body of world capitalism. Reformism has drained to the dregs its fund of beggarly and slavish sagacity, and it stands before the proletariat exposed in its impotence, branded by its treachery. In the Soviet Union – as the Stalinists insist – the five year plan has been fulfilled, and socialism has been absolutely guaranteed. What other conditions are there required for the Comintern in order to overthrow the organizations of reformism that have rotted to the core, and to collect around itself the proletarian masses and lead them to the conquest of power? Concurrently, however, official Communism everywhere is losing positions and influence, is becoming isolated away from the masses, and is being forced out of the trade unions. At best, sections of the Comintern now serve as thoroughfares for the unemployed.

Its mode of action in Germany has been the tragic zenith of the international defeatism of the Stalinist faction. Were one to set as one’s conscious goal: to save from disintegration the crime-splotched social democracy; and to open the shortest road to power for Fascists – none could have devised a tactic more direct than that employed. Stalin placed General Chiang Kai-Shek into the saddle with the friendly hand of an ally; as for Hitler, he made the road to power easy by guaranteeing the division of labor between the social democratic and Communist bureaucracies; screening themselves behind different phrases, they both have led and still lead the tactic of retreat, marasm, and cowardice. The results are an open book. To serve its class enemy under the guise of waging irreconcilable struggle against it – this is the curse that hangs heavy over Centrism!

Groupings in the C.P.S.U. and the Comintern[edit source]

The course of events within the CPSU shows that the economic crisis has turned into the crisis of the revolution, and that it is forcing its way more and more decisively from below to the tops through the state and party apparatus.

The exclusive Stalinist faction that is mustered around the plebiscitary “leader”, whom it has ceased to trust, exerts its efforts desperately in order to maintain itself. The first condition requisite for this is not to permit the party’s awakening. Repressions against the opposition have now assumed a mass character such as did not obtain even in 1928 when promises were given and taken that, all opposition would be “liquidated” once and for all. Naturally the chief blows are directed against the Bolshevik-Leninists, the only faction whose authority has grown immeasurably and continues to grow.

Two most recent facts are particularly significant of the situation in the party; the arrests and deportation of the leaders, of the Left Opposition who capitulated about four years ago, and the complete and final capitulation of the leaders of the Right Opposition. A few months after the quite notorious deportations of Zinoviev and Kamenev to Siberia, Stalin arrested I.N. Smirnov, Preobrazhensky, Ufimtsev, Ter-Vagariyan and about 100 former Left Oppositionists connected with them. The significance of this fact must be plumbed to the bottom. Those concerned are old Bolsheviks; they had built the party, carried it through on their shoulders during the years it was driven underground, participated in the October Revolution and the Civil War, and created together with us the faction of Bolshevik-Leninists. When (in February 1928) under the pressure of food shortages, Stalin made a sharp turn to the side of planned industrialization, and of struggle against the kulak, an influential section of the Left Opposition, became frightened by the perspective of a split, capitulated to the bureaucracy, and extended to it trust on credit. In its own time this fact played a major political role in that it strengthened the position of the Stalinist bureaucracy and retarded for a long period the influx to the ranks of the Left Opposition. Today we have the balance sheet of the experiment made by the honest, sincere and not careerist capitulation: after deporting Zinoviev and Kamenev, Stalin arrested Smirnov, Preobrazhensky, Ufimtsev and the rest! This blow at the top had been preceded in the course of the past year by the arrests of several hundred rank and file capitulators, who anticipated their leaders in returning to the road of the Left Opposition. Within the last two years, a truly gigantic shift has occurred in the consciousness of the party, for the regroupings at the top are only belated and diluted reflections of the profound processes that occur in the masses. Here we have an extraordinarily clear illustration of the power that is latent in the correct and undeviating line of politics; isolated individuals and groups, outstanding even in regard to their revolutionary qualities, may drift at times into the camp of the enemy, under the influence of temporary conditions, but they are forced ultimately, by the march of events, to return to the old militant banner.

There is an altogether different, but in its kind no less symptomatic significance in the 100 percent capitulation of Rykov, Tomsky and Bucharin. The political cohorts of these leaders spread far into the camps of class enemies. As we had forecasted more than once, the sharpening of the crisis of the revolution could not but inevitably throw the Bolshevik and tiny head of the Right Opposition up against its hefty counter-revolutionary tail. The moment for this has arrived. Alarmed by the mood of their own followers, leaders of the Right crawled unconditionally on their knees to the official leadership. They were able to go through with this surgery all the more easily because no matter how acute the internecine fight became from moment to moment, it nevertheless remained the fight between Left and Right shadings in the camp of bureaucratic Centrism.

In this manner, the capitulation of the Right wing leaders reflects the differentiation of the Right Opposition, which remained amorphous but which indubitably was the most numerous of all groupings of the last period. Workers by tens of thousands, party men among them, dismayed by the economic adventurism of the bureaucracy, gravitated all the more naturally to the side of the Right wing leaders, the more sincerely they were inclined to interpret Stalin’s policies as the direct application of “Trotskyism”, after they had been hoodwinked by the entire preceding anti-Trotskyist demagoguery. The differentiation of the Right wing means the liberation of these proletarian elements from under the Thermidorian influences; and their drawing inevitably closer to the Left Opposition, the true features of which are only now becoming distinct, in the light of their personal experience.

The political groupings in the party are becoming clear-cut, the levels of reservoirs come into clear view. Concurrently the “Workers’ Opposition” and “Democratic Centralism” have factually disappeared from the political arena. The proletarian elements from among the intermediate groupings in the opposition of the last years are gravitating toward the Bolshevik-Leninists, the only faction that has a clear program, tested in the furnace of events; and that has not lowered its banners for an instant.

Even though not quite so clearly, an analogous process is to be observed also on the international scale. During the time when ruling Centrism, incapable even of posing the question of an International Congress, stopped giving any answers whatsoever to the most burning questions of the world revolution; during the time when the Right wing (Brandlerites) because of the centrifugal laws that govern opportunism, ceased completely to exist as an international tendency – the Bolshevik-Leninists, and they alone, proved capable of calling together an international conference, under the present and most difficult conditions, and at this conference they gave a clear answer to the most important and debatable problems of the world proletarian movement for the entire post-Leninist period.

No matter what course the development of the world proletarian revolution takes in the next few years – and this depends directly upon the outcome of the struggle against Fascism in Germany and upon the change of the course in USSR – for the Left Opposition, upon the international scale, there has opened the epoch of assured upsurge. The fiftieth anniversary of Marx’s death is honored by official celebrations in two camps, reformism and centrism. But from now on the fate of the revolutionary Marxian, i.e., genuine Bolshevik policies is inextricably tied with the fate of the Communist Left Opposition.

The Capital Reconstruction of Economy[edit source]

In their appraisal of the possibilities and tasks of Soviet economy, Bolshevik-Leninists take as their point of departure not the vapid abstraction of socialism in one country but the real historical process in its world relations and living contradictions. Only the foundations that have been laid by the October revolution can guard the country from the fate of India or China and assure, in the present transitional epoch, serious successes on the road of transforming capitalist society into socialism. The discussions concerning our supposed “denial” of the proletarian character of the October revolution are a hodgepodge of scholasticism, ignorance and lies. The whole gist of the matter lies in the fact that it is possible to pursue various policies upon the social and political bases of the Soviet Union. What still remains to be decided is – precisely which one?

In order to cure the economy which has been disordered by the epigone leadership, i.e., to mitigate the disproportions, strengthen the link between the city and the village, create a stable unit of currency, and improve the condition of the toilers, it is necessary first of all to break away from the bureaucratic muddling and lying. The general character of economic measures, which are dictated by the situation today, may be most correctly denoted by the word retreat. It is precisely because the collective farms have spread over too extensive a field at one blow that the workers’ government cannot find sufficient means to counteract the break-down of kolkhozi. The measures of repression must inevitably disclose their impotence. The only correct mode of activity lies in sacrificing quantity to gain in quality. Upon the political plane this same task may be formulated other wise, to wit, sacrifice space in order to gain time.

It is necessary to check the strength of centrifugal tendencies in the kolkhozi and to open up an economically rational outlet for these tendencies by leaning upon the peasant poor, the rural workers, the best kolkhozi, and the best collective farmers. It is necessary to preserve and develop those kolkhozi which have demonstrated their viability, or which may prove viable in the nearest future, in accordance with their available resources and the interest shown by their members.

The Stalinists, of course, will resume their din that our readiness to retreat from 60% collectivization to 40%, and maybe even to 25% (the percentage must be economically determined by actual test, and not set bureaucratically beforehand) signifies “capitulation” “the restoration of capitalism”, etc., etc. If so, why then did these bravos desist from completing their collectivization 100%, as they set out to do? Why was it decreed sacred to hold to that line at which adventurism stalled at the well-known moment, and already well in the process of retreat? One must not be alarmed by the pseudo-revolutionary bogies lisped by the bureaucracy. Retreat without battle from revolutionary conquests is equivalent to betrayal. The retreat from bureaucratic adventurism is demanded by revolutionary realism. In relation to rural economy it is necessary first of all and regardless of everything else to restore the rule: Leadership and not bulldozing!

The differentiation in the peasantry is still inevitable for a protracted period; there will be well to do kolkhozi as well as poor ones; within isolated kolkhozi there will be not only preserved but also developed considerable social distinctions, with the development of productive forces. And over and above that, there exist 10 million individual enterprises! Such a correlation must be established with the peasant mass as would eliminate the “de-classed” kulak from leading the peasantry against the Soviet state. One must come to an understanding with the moujik. Concessions must be made to the middle peasant. And the village poor must be economically strengthened by the tax, credit, and cooperative systems, by the policies of machine and tractor stations, etc., etc., without at the same time depriving either individual peasants, or the prosperous kolkhozi, or the more well to do collective farmers of the stimulus to further accumulation. The insanity of mechanically liquidating the kulak must be rejected decisively, completely and unconditionally. It is necessary to understand and to admit that the kulak exists not in the guise of “remainders” or of “psychological survivals” but as an economic and social factor. The return must be made to the policy of systematically confining the exploiting tendencies of the kulak, in a serious manner, and for a prolonged period, practically unto the victory of the proletariat in the West.

Such a system of combined activities can be applied with success only in the event that the pauperized layers of the peasantry are organized in the Union of the Village Poor, the chief support of the party in the village.

The tempos of industrialization must be subordinated to the task of restoring the dynamic equilibrium of economy as a whole. One must reject the development of mistakes in the plan merely because they were declared holy in the specifications of the day before. The programs of capital undertakings must be radically gone over, and all those which are obviously no match for the forces of the country must be immediately stopped. The inevitable loss of billions today will safeguard against the future loss of tens of billions. It can be a safeguard against the worst thing possible, against catastrophe.

Even at this moment it may be said with assurance that the industrial growth of 16% for 1933, set for the sole purpose of not breaking too sharply with the adventuristic first stages of yesterday, will turn out absolutely unfeasible. In 1932, industry grew only 8½% instead of 36% as was stipulated in the plan. The point of departure must be taken from these actual attainments in 1932, in order that still higher coefficients may be attained by gradually reinforcing the ground underfoot.

Those resources which are liberated by way of lowering the tempos must be immediately directed partly into the funds for consumption and partly into light industry. “The condition of the workers must be improved at any price.” (Rakovsky) During the construction of socialism people must live like human beings. What is broached here is the perspective of decades and not a military campaign, or “a Saturday” or an isolated case of extraordinary intensification of forces. Socialism is the labor of future generations. But it must be so assembled as to permit the living generations to carry it on its back. The stable currency system must be restored, as the only reliable regulator of planned economy at the present stage of its development. Without it, the locomotive of planned economy will inevitably fail to make the grade.

For an Honest Party Regime! For Soviet Democracy[edit source]

No new revolution is necessary to save and strengthen the dictatorship. A profound and an all-sided and fully thought out reform will completely suffice. The whole question lies in who will put it through. This question touches not persons or cliques but the party.

It is absolutely self-evident that the ruling party in the USSR is in etxreme need of a purification from agents of the class enemy, careerists, Thermidorians, and the ordinary candidates for a meal ticket. But this job is not for the hands of the bureaucratic clique. Only the revived party itself, to be more exact, only its proletarian kernel is capable of ridding itself of the foreign and inimical elements.

The strangling of the party which took place in the course of the last ten years is the reverse side of the interminable attacks upon the Left Opposition. It is impossible to revive the party without returning the Opposition into its ranks. That is the first demand which we put forward and which we call upon all Communists, young Communists, and all class conscious workers to support. We direct this slogan at the Right Opposition as well. We do not trust the selections of Stalin-Menzhinsky-Yagoda; they have as their criteria not the interests of the proletarian revolution but the interests of the clique. The purification of the party of real opportunists, to say nothing of the Thermidorians, must be carried out freely and openly, by the will of the party masses.

What is at stake is the fate of the party and of the Soviet regime. Lenin saw the democratization of the administration as the most important task of the dictatorship “Every cook must learn how to manage the government.” The process that has taken place is quite the reverse. The number of the administrators did not grow to include “every cook”, it constricted instead to a solitary chef, and thereto only a specialist in peppery courses. The political regime has become unbearable to the massed even as the name of its pack-bearer is becoming more and more hateful to them.

As far back as 1926 Stalin was told that he was clearly filing himself as a candidate for the post of undertaker to the party and the revolution. For the past six years Stalin has come very close to the fulfillment of this role. Throughout the party and outside of it there is spreading ever wider the slogan, “Down with Stalin”. The causes for the origin and the growing popularity of this “proverb” require no explanations. But nevertheless we consider this slogan incorrect. The question touches not Stalin personally, but his faction. It is true that for the last two years it has become extremely constricted in its scope. But it still includes many thousands of apparatus functionaries. Other thousands and tens of thousands, whose eyes have been opened as regards Stalin, continue to support him nevertheless, from fear of the unknown. The slogan, “Down with Stalin,” may be understood, and could inevitably be understood, as the slogan for the overthrow of the faction now in power, and even more – the overthrow of the apparatus. But we do not want to overthrow the system but to reform it by the efforts of the best proletarian elements.

It is self-evident that an end must be and will be put to the Bonapartist regime of a single leader, and of the pack compelled to revere him because that is the most shameful perversion of the idea of the revolutionary party. But the matter touches not the expulsion of individuals, but the changing of a system.

It is precisely the Stalinist clique that indefatigably circulates rumors to the effect that the Left Opposition will return to the party not otherwise than with a sword in its hand, and that it will immediately begin merciless reprisals against its factional opponents. This poisonous lie must be refuted, repudiated, and exposed. There is no feeling for revenge in politics. Bolshevik-Leninists never were motivated by it in the past, and least of all do they intend to be motivated by it in the future. We know only too well those historical reasons which have driven tens of thousands of party members into the blind alley of bureaucratic Centrism. We are motivated by considerations of revolutionary expediency, and not by revenge. We make no exceptions beforehand. We are ready to work hand in hand with every one who seeks to prevent catastrophe through the restoration of the party.

For an honest party regime! This means: for a regime that allows members of the party to say out loud what they think; that eliminates double-dealing, this inner-lining of the Stalinist monolith; that has no leaders who inherit leadership for life; that freely reelects all the leading organs during congresses of the party; that has an apparatus which serves the party, and the. party that serves the proletariat.

For Soviet democracy! This means that the party directs the system of proletarian dictatorship, but does not strangle the mass organizations of the toilers, but on the contrary leads them to the burgeoning of their initiative and independence. As one of the most important means for the disciplining of any and every apparatus and for subordinating them to the party, the secret ballot must be introduced within trade unions and the Soviets, during elections of executive organs, – this to be done gradually and regularly, widening the scope on the basis of what experience demonstrates.

The historically created groupings within the Bolshevik party must be bound to carry on their entire activities within the framework of regulations, and by means of serious discussions, free from personal persecution and calumny, prepare for the extraordinary congress of the party. This can be attained only by struggle. Bolsheviks by hundred and thousands must raise their voices in protest against the usurping clique, that tramples upon the party and leads the revolution to ruin. “We demand an honest party congress!” Let this slogan unite the Left Opposition with all party members who are worthy of the name.

This same system of activity must be extended to include the Comintern. The Third International can be saved from further degeneration and complete collapse only by the radical change of all its policies, first of all that in Germany. The political turn, here as well, is inseparable from the change in the regime. The re-admission of the Left Opposition into all sections must be the first step. The democratically prepared for congresses of national sections compose the second stage. The World Congress of the Communist International is the consummation. The platform of the Left Opposition upon the questions of the world proletarian revolution, has been expounded in numerous documents, and has been consolidated in the program theses of the international pre-Conference of Bolshevik-Leninists, in the beginning of February, of this year. It is with this platform and not with the sword of vengeance that the Left Opposition will return to the ranks of the Comintern. This platform it shall place upon the table of the next world Congress.

* * *

Two and a half years ago, the Left Opposition gave the alarm signal because of the danger from German Fascism. Conceited and blind as usual, the Stalinist bureaucracy accused us of “over-estimating” National Socialism, and even of “hysteria”. The events have brought their merciless verification.

Today – not for the first time but with tenfold force – we sound the alarm signal because of the situation in the USSR. Here the immediate danger threatens not from without but within. Bureaucratic Centrism has become the chief source of danger.

For the struggle against it we call upon all true revolutionists, all class conscious workers, all Leninists, who have remained Leninists. The task is difficult, and the struggle will cost lives. But it must be pursued to the end. The ranks must be closed, the cadres must be strengthened, and the connections must be spread wider. No repressions, no provocations, no persecutions whatsoever will paralyze our efforts, for the atmosphere of sympathy envelops more and more solidly the work of the Left Opposition in the party.

  • Bolsheviks of the Soviet Union, Bolsheviks of the World!
  • Soviet economy is in danger!
  • The dictatorship of the proletariat is in danger!
  • The International Revolution is in danger!

Upon all of you, upon all of us, there is placed the incommensurate responsibility before history.

  1. We shall consider in detail the question about the balance sheet of the first five year plan in a book on Soviet economy that is now in preparation.