Declaration of the Thirteen. For the July 1926 Plenum of the CC and CCC of the AUCP(B)
To All CC and CCC Members: A Declaration
The plainly threatening phenomena which have become more and more discernible in the recent period in the life of the party require careful and conscientious evaluation. Despite the attempts inspired from the top to isolate a certain section of the party from the mass of the workers and to force it astray from the correct party path, we believe unalterably in the preservation of party unity. It is precisely for this reason that we wish to present, with the fullest possible directness, clarity, and even sharpness, our view of the basic causes of the harmful phenomena threatening the party, without leaving anything unsaid and without blurring over or softening anything.
1. Bureaucratism as the Source of Factionalism
The immediate cause of the increasingly severe crises in the party is bureaucratism, which has grown appallingly in the period since Lenin’s death and continues to grow.
The Central Committee of the ruling party disposes not only of ideological and organizational means for influencing the party, i.e., not only party means, but also governmental and economic means. Lenin always took into account the danger that the concentration of administrative power in the hands of the party apparatus could lead to bureaucratic pressures on the party. It was precisely for this reason that Vladimir Ilyich conceived the idea of organizing a Control Commission, which, while not having administrative power in its hands, would have all the power necessary to combat bureaucratism, to uphold the right of party members to freely express their opinions and vote according to their consciences, without any fear of punitive consequences.
An especially important task of the Control Commission at the present moment, said the resolution of the January 1924 party conference, is to struggle against bureaucratic distortions in the party apparatus and in party practice and to call to account those responsible party personnel who have prevented the principle of workers’ democracy from being put into practice in the life of the party organizations (pressure against the free expression of opinions at party meetings, limits not provided for by the party rules on the principle of election from below, etc.).
However, in fact — and this must be said first of all — the Central Control Commission itself has become a purely administrative organ, which assists other bureaucratic agencies in applying pressure, carrying out the most punitive aspects of the work for them, persecuting all independent thinking in the party, every voice of criticism, every outspoken expression of concern for the fate of the party, and any critical comments about particular leaders of the party.
“By workers’ democracy within the party,” says the resolution of the Tenth Party Congress, “is meant the kind of organizational form which, along with the implementation of Communist Party policies, assures every member of the party, up to and including the most backward ones, an active role in the life of the party, in discussing all problems that come before it, in resolving these problems, and likewise an active role in building the party. The forms of workers’ democracy rule out any systematic practices of appointment from above and are best expressed in the broadly based election of all institutions from the bottom up, accountability, control, etc.”
Only a party regime totally imbued with these principles can in practice protect the party against factionalism, which is incompatible with the vital interests of the dictatorship of the proletariat, To separate the struggle against factionalism from the question of the party regime is to avoid the essence of the matter, to nourish bureaucratic distortions, and consequently to promote factionalism itself.
The resolution of December 5, 1923, which was adopted unanimously, points directly to the fact that bureaucratism, in suppressing freedom of opinion and stifling criticism, inevitably drives honest party members down the road of secretiveness and factionalism. The correctness of this assertion is fully confirmed by the events of the recent past, especially by the “affair” of Lashevich, Belenky, and others. It would be criminal blindness to depict this affair as the result of the ill will of a particular person or a distinct group. In fact we have before us an obvious and unquestionable consequence of the prevailing trend, in which all discussion is from the top down and the ranks below merely listen, thinking for themselves only in isolated cases and on the sly.
Those who are dissatisfied, have doubts, or are in disagreement are afraid to raise their voices at party meetings. The party masses hear only the speeches of the party authorities, all reading from the same schematic study outline. Ties are weakened and confidence in the leadership declines. At party meetings officiousness reigns and, along with it, the inevitable apathy associated with it. Often by the time issues come to a vote there is only an insignificant minority still present: the others are quick to leave so as not to be forced to vote for decisions that have been dictated in advance. Resolutions are universally adopted “unanimously,” never any other way. All this is reflected in the internal life of party organizations. Party members are afraid to openly express their most cherished thoughts, hopes, and needs. These are the real reasons behind the “affair” of Lashevich and others.
2. The Cause of the Growth of Bureaucratism
It is quite clear that it is more and more difficult for the leadership to carry out its policies by methods of party democracy, the less the vanguard of the working class perceives these policies as its own. The divergence in direction between economic policies and the thoughts and feelings of the proletarian vanguard inevitably strengthens the need for high-pressure methods and imparts an administrative-bureaucratic character to all politics. All other explanations for the growth of bureaucratism are of a secondary nature and do not grapple with the heart of the problem. The lag of industry behind the economic development of the country as a whole means the lowering of the specific weight of the proletariat in society, despite its numerical growth. The lag in the exertion of influence on agriculture by industry and the rapid growth of the kulaks diminishes the social weight of the poor peasants and agricultural workers and lowers their confidence in the government and in themselves. The lag in the rise of wages behind the higher living standards of the non-proletarian elements in the cities and the upper strata in the villages inevitably means a reduction in the workers’ political and cultural consciousness of themselves as the ruling class. This in particular is the reason for the markedly less active participation by the workers and village poor in elections for the soviets, which constitutes a warning to our party of the most serious kind.
3. Wage Problems
During the last few months the label of “demagogy” has been attached to the idea that we should by all ways and means assure the stability of real wages at a time of economic difficulties and that at the first improvement in the situation we should undertake to raise them higher. However, that approach to the problem is the most elementary and obligatory one for a workers’ state. The proletarian masses, or their decisive central core, are mature enough to understand what is possible and what unattainable. But when they hear day in and day out that we are growing economically, that our industry is booming, that all assertions as to an inadequate rate of industrial growth are false, that the development of socialism is assured in advance, that all criticism of our economic leadership is based on pessimism, lack of confidence, etc.; and when, on the other hand, they are lectured to at the same time and told that the demand to maintain real wages at the existing level and the perspective of raising the level of real wages in the future — that those are demagogy — then workers cannot understand how the official optimism in regard to general perspectives ties in with the pessimism in regard to wages. Such speeches inevitably strike the masses as false, undermine their confidence in the official sources, and give rise to undercurrents of unrest Out of distrust toward the official meetings, reports, and votes, even completely disciplined party members feel an urge to find out — by going around and outside the party apparatus — what is really on the minds of the rank-and-file workers. This holds a danger of the most serious kind. And we have to strike not at the symptoms of the illness but at its root causes, in particular at the bureaucratic attitude toward the question of wages.
The rejection of the motion at the April plenum for the maintenance of the existing level of real wages, an absolutely valid and necessary proposal, was a glaring and obvious error leading to an actual reduction in the wage level. The imposition of an agricultural tax on a certain portion of total wages made matters even worse.
The impact of these developments on the everyday existence and mood of the workers was intensified even more by the incorrect way of introducing the “regime of economy.” The struggle for a more correct, more conscientious, more thrifty way of dealing with state resources, which is absolutely necessary in and of itself, has led — as a result of an incorrect approach; above all, as a result of not looking at the problem with the eye of the worker and of the peasant — to mechanical pressure tactics from the top down; in the last analysis, to pressure on the workers, and on the least protected and most poorly paid layers and groups at that. This threefold error — in wages, the agricultural tax, and the “regime of economy” — must be corrected decisively and without any procrastination. We must begin right now to lay the groundwork for a certain increase in wages in the fall, beginning with those categories that are the farthest behind in this respect. This is entirely possible given the present dimensions of our economy and budget, in spite of the difficulties that still exist and that are to come. In fact, precisely in order to overcome these difficulties, we must increase the active material interest of the mass of workers in heightening the productive power of state industry. Any other policy would be the most colossal short-sightedness, not only political but economic as well. One cannot help but regard it as a colossal error, therefore, for the present July plenum to refuse to take under consideration the general question of the conditions of the workers, as well as its refusal to give clear directives on the exceptionally important question of the construction of workers’ housing.
4. The Question of Industrialization
The year just past has shown with full clarity that state industry is lagging behind the economic development of the country as a whole. The new harvest again catches us short of reserves of industrial goods. But progress toward socialism can be assured only if the rate of industrial development, instead of lagging behind the overall movement of the economy, draws the rest of the economy along after it, systematically bringing the country closer to the technological level of the advanced capitalist countries. Everything should be subordinated to this goal, which is equally vital for both the proletariat and the peasantry. Only on the condition of a satisfactorily powerful development of industry can both higher wages for the workers and cheaper goods for the village be assured. It would be senseless to base any calculations for the future to any great degree on foreign concessions, to which we cannot assign even an important overall role in our economy, let alone a leading one, without undermining the socialist character of our industry. Our task, then, is to make use of a correct policy of taxes, prices, credit, etc., to try to achieve such a distribution of accumulation in both town and country that the disproportion between industry and agriculture would be overcome as rapidly as possible. If the upper layers in the village were able to hold back last year’s harvest until this spring, thereby cutting into both exports and imports, increasing unemployment, and causing retail prices to rise, that means that the economic and tax policies that gave the kulaks the chance to pursue such a course against the workers’ and peasants’ interests were in error. Under these conditions, correct tax policies, along with correct price policies, are an essential part of socialist management of the economy. Several hundred million rubles accumulated and concentrated in the hands of the upper strata of the villages even now go to promote the debt bondage of the rural poor to the loan sharks and usurers. The merchants, middlemen, and speculators have already piled up many hundreds of millions of rubles, which have long since been parlayed into billions. It is necessary to apply the tax screws more energetically in order to extract a significant portion of these resources to nourish industry, to strengthen the system of agricultural credit, and to provide the lowest strata in the villages with support in the form of machinery and equipment on advantageous terms. The question of the smychka between agriculture and industry under present circumstances is above all a question of industrialization. But all the while the party sees with alarm that the Fourteenth Congress resolution on industrialization is in fact being set aside more and more the same way all the resolutions on party democracy have been reduced to nothing. In this crucial question, on which the life and death of the October Revolution depend, the party does not wish to live by the official study outlines, which are often dictated not by the interests of the cause but by those of factional struggle. The party wishes to know about things, to think them over, to test them out, and to decide upon them itself. The present regime prevents it from doing that. It is precisely from this situation that the secret circulation of party documents, the Lashevich “affair,” and other problems arise.
5. Policy in the Countryside
In questions of agricultural policy, the danger of a shift toward the upper strata in the village has become more and more plainly delineated. Influential voices l are already heard openly advocating the transfer of the actual leadership of agricultural cooperatives into the hands of the “strong” middle peasant; they argue also that the kulaks’ contribution can remain veiled in total secrecy; and that careless or inefficient debtors, i.e., poor peasants, should be made to sell the implements they need the most; and so on. The alliance with the middle peasant is more and more transformed into an orientation toward the “well-to-do” middle peasant, who more often than not proves to be a junior edition of the kulak. One of the primary tasks of the socialist state is, through the formation of cooperatives, to bring the poor peasants out of their dead-end situation. The inadequate resources of the socialist state itself deny it the possibility of carrying out any dramatic changes immediately. But this does not give people the right to shut their eyes to the real state of affairs, to fill the poor peasants’ ears with lectures about overcoming their dependent psychology, and at the same time to be excessively indulgent toward the kulak. This kind of approach, which is met with more and more often in our party, threatens to dig a deep chasm between us and our main base of support in the village — the poor. But it is only through an unbreakable link between the proletariat and the village poor that a properly established alliance in general between them and the middle peasantry will be possible, i.e., an alliance in which the leadership belongs to the working class. Meanwhile, the fact is that the decisions of last October’s plenum on organizing the village poor have to this day found no application in the work of our local organizations. And the fact is that even at the upper levels of administration there is a noticeable desire to push back as much as possible the Communist or poor peasant layer of cadres in the agricultural cooperatives or to replace them with “strong” middle peasants. And the fact is that under the pretext of an alliance of the poor with the middle peasants we everywhere observe the political subordination of the poor to the middle peasants and through them to the kulaks.
6. Bureaucratic Deformations in the Workers’ State
The number of workers in state industry in our country has not yet reached two million; if those in transportation are added, the figure is less than three million. Government personnel, professional people, those working in the cooperative network, and all other office workers by no means constitute a smaller figure. This statistical comparison, by itself, testifies to the colossal political and economic role of the bureaucracy. It is quite obvious that the state apparatus in its social composition and standard of living is bourgeois or petty bourgeois to a great extent, and is drawn away from the proletariat and poor peasantry toward, on the one hand, the comfortably fixed intellectual and, on the other, the merchant, the renter of land, the kulak, and the new bourgeois.
How many times Lenin referred to the bureaucratic deformations in the state apparatus and to the need for the trade unions, on frequent occasions, to defend the workers from the Soviet state. But it is precisely in this area that the party bureaucrat is infected with delusions and self-deception of the most dangerous kind. This was most vividly expressed in Molotov’s speech at the fourteenth Moscow province party conference (Pravda, December 13, 1925). “Our state,” he said, “is a workers’ state. … But we are being offered a formula according to which it would be more correct to say that the working class must be drawn still closer to our state. … What is this? We are supposed to set ourselves the task of drawing the workers closer to our state. But this state of ours — whose is it, if not the workers’? Is it not a state of the proletariat? How are they to be drawn closer to the state, i.e., how are the workers themselves to be drawn closer to the working class, which is in power and is controlling the state?”
These astonishing words deny the very task of a struggle by the proletarian vanguard for the genuine ideological and political subordination to itself of the state apparatus. What a colossal distance separates this point of view from that of Lenin, who in one of his last articles wrote that our state apparatus “has only been slightly touched up on the surface, but in all other respects it is a most typical relic of our old state machine”. It is natural that any real serious, and not sham, struggle against bureaucratism is now perceived as nothing but interference, querulousness, and factionalism.
7. Bureaucratic Deformations in the Party Apparatus
In 1920, the party conference, under Lenin’s leadership, felt obliged to declare it inadmissible for party bodies or individual comrades, in mobilizing party members, to be guided by any considerations other than those of the business at hand. "Any acts of repression whatsoever against comrades because they are dissidents on one question or another are inadmissible by decision of the party.” The practical functioning of the party today contradicts that resolution at every turn. Genuine discipline is shaken and weakened and is replaced by subordination to influential figures in the apparatus. Cadres upon whom the party could rely in the most difficult times are being driven from the ranks in ever greater numbers; they are being reassigned, exiled, persecuted, and replaced everywhere by incidental figures who have never been tested but who make up for it by displaying the quality of unquestioning obedience. These severe bureaucratic defects in the party regime are what have made defendants out of Comrades Lashevich and Belenky, whom the party has known for more than two decades as devoted and disciplined members. The indictment against them is an indictment of the bureaucratic deformations in the party apparatus. The importance of a tightly knit centralized apparatus in the Bolshevik Party needs no explanation. Without that solid backbone of the party the proletarian revolution would have been impossible. The party apparatus for the most part consists of devoted and self-sacrificing party members, people who have no motives other than to fight for the interests of the working class. Under a properly functioning regime and with the appropriate disposition of party forces these same party workers would successfully help to realize party democracy.
8. Bureaucratism and the Everyday Life of Rank-and-File Workers
Bureaucratism strikes heavily at the worker in all spheres — in the party, economy, domestic life, and culture. The social composition of the party has unquestionably improved over the last few years, but at the same time it has become quite clear that increasing the number of workers in the party, even the number directly from the bench, does not by itself secure the party from bureaucratic deformations and other dangers. In fact, the relative weight of the rank-and-file party member under the present regime is extremely low, often virtually nil.
The most unfortunate result of the bureaucratic regime is the way it affects the life of working class and peasant youth. Under NEP conditions, the youth, having no experience of the class struggle of former times, can rise to the level of Bolshevism only through the independent exercise of its capacity to think, be critical, and test things out in practice. We were warned many times by Vladimir Ilyich about the need to be especially careful and attentive in dealing with ideological processes among the youth. But bureaucratism does the opposite: it clamps the development of the youth in a vise, drives their doubts and questions back within them, cuts off criticism, and sows lack of confidence and discouragement on one side and careerism on the other.
In the upper circles of the Communist League of Youth careerism has developed to an extraordinary extent in the past period, pushing up many a new bureaucrat from the ranks of the young and the green. For this reason there is more and more a tendency for the proletarians, poor peasants, or agricultural workers to be pushed out of the Communist League of Youth leadership by intellectuals and philistines, who adapt themselves more easily to the demands of hierarchical leadership but who stand at a greater distance from the workers and the lower strata of the peasant masses. In order to guarantee the appropriate proletarian line in the Communist League of Youth, no less than in the party, the wheel must be turned toward democratization, i.e., the creation of conditions in which the youth can work, think, criticize, make decisions, and rise to revolutionary maturity under the watchful guidance of the party.
The bureaucratic regime penetrates like rust into the life of every factory and workshop. If party members are in fact denied the right to criticize their district committee, province committee, or the Central Committee, in the factories they are denied the chance to voice criticisms of their immediate superiors. Party people are intimidated. An administrator who is able to assure himself the support of the secretary of a higher party organization, because he is a “loyal man,” thereby insures himself against criticism from below and often even from responsibility for mismanagement or outright petty tyranny.
In a socialist economy under construction a basic condition for the economical expenditure of national resources is vigilant control by the masses, above all by the workers in the factories and shops. As long as they cannot openly criticize and oppose irregularities and abuses, exposing those responsible by name, without fear of being called Oppositionists, “discontented elements,” or troublemakers, or of being expelled from the party cell or even from the factory — as long as they cannot do that, the struggle for a “regime of economy” or for higher productivity will inevitably travel down the bureaucratic path, i.e., more often than not will strike at the vital interests of the workers. This is precisely what we see happening now. Inefficiency and sloppiness in setting pay rates and work norms, which make life hard for the workers, are nine times out of ten the direct result of bureaucratic indifference to the most elementary interests of the workers and of production itself. These can also be considered the source of non-punctual payment of wages, i.e., the relegation to the background of what should be the foremost concern.
The question of so-called excesses by those at the top is totally bound up with the suppression of criticism. Many memoranda have been written against excesses. Quite a few “cases” have been brought by the control commissions. But the masses show an attitude of mistrust toward this kind of officeholders’ struggle against excesses. Here too there is only one way out: the masses must not be afraid to say what they think. Where are all these urgent questions discussed? Not at the official party meetings, but off to the side, out of the way, on the sly, and always with caution. It was from these intolerable conditions that the affair of Comrade Lashevich et al. arose. The basic solution to this case must necessarily be to change the conditions.
9. The Struggle for Peace
The development of the world revolutionary movement based on the fraternal solidarity of all working people is the main way of guaranteeing the inviolability of the Soviet Union and the opportunity for peaceful socialist construction. It would, however, be a disastrous error to directly or indirectly build up hopes among the working masses that the Social Democrats or Amsterdamites, especially the British General Council, with such leaders as Thomas and Purcell, are willing or able to conduct a struggle against imperialism, military intervention, etc.
The British compromiser leaders, who so vilely betrayed their own workers during the General Strike and who are now completing their work of treachery in relation to the coalminers’ strike, will betray the British proletariat even more outrageously — and with them the Soviet Union and the cause of peace — the moment a war threatens. In his remarkable instructions to our delegation at The Hague, Lenin explained that only a merciless exposure of the opportunists in the eyes of the masses can prevent the bourgeoisie from catching the workers off guard when it once again tries to provoke a war. “The most important thing would be to refute the opinion that the delegates at the Conference are opponents of war,” wrote Lenin about the Amsterdam “pacifists" at The Hague, “that they understand how war may and will come upon them at the most unexpected moment, that they to any extent understand what method should be adopted to combat war, that they are to any extent in a position to adopt reasonable and effective measures to combat war”.
Lenin called the attention of the party especially to the fact that on “the question of combating war," even the speeches of many Communists contain “monstrously incorrect and monstrously thoughtless statements on this subject. I think,” he wrote, “these declarations, particularly if they have been made since the [First World] war, must be subjected to determined and ruthless criticism, and the name of each person who made them should be mentioned. Opinion concerning these speakers may be expressed in the mildest terms, particularly if circumstances require it, but not a single case of this kind should be passed over in silence, for thoughtlessness on this question is an evil that outweighs all others and cannot be treated lightly”
These words of Lenin’s must be revived in our party’s consciousness and in that of the entire world proletariat. It must be stated for all to hear that the Thomases, MacDonalds, and Purcells are as little able to prevent an imperialist attack as the Tseretelis, Dans, and Kerenskys were able to stop the imperialist slaughter.
A most powerful factor for defending the Soviet Union, and thus for preserving peace as well, is the inseparable connection between the Red Army, which is growing ever stronger, and the toiling masses of our country and of the whole world. All economic, political, and cultural measures that increase the role of the working class in the state, and strengthen its ties with the agricultural workers and poor peasants, by the same token strengthen the Red Army, make the land of soviets more secure against attack, and strengthen the cause of peace.
10. The Comintern
The rectification of the class line of the party means the rectification of its international line. All dubious theoretical innovations must be thrown out if they portray matters as though the victory of socialist construction in our country were not inseparably connected with the progress and outcome of the struggle for power by the European and world proletariat. The colonial peoples are fighting for independence. We are all fighting on the same front. Each unit at each sector of the front must do the maximum within its power without waiting for the initiatives of the others. Socialism will be victorious in our country in inseparable connection with the revolutions of the European and world proletariat and with the struggle of the East against the imperialist yoke. The question of the Comintern and the direction of its policies is indissolubly linked with its internal regime, and in turn with the regime in our party, which has been and remains the leading party of the Comintern. Any shift in our party is unavoidably transmitted to the parties of the International. It is more incumbent on us than ever, then, to have a genuinely Bolshevik testing of our line from the international angle. The Fourteenth Congress recognized the need for more independent participation by the foreign parties in the leadership work of the Comintern. However, this resolution, like so many others, remains only on paper. And not by chance. Sharply disputed questions in the Comintern can only be solved in a normal political and organizational way if a normal regime exists in our own party. Settling disputed questions in a mechanical way threatens more and more to weaken the inner solidarity of the Communist parties and their close ties with one another. In the Comintern arena, we need a decisive turn toward the path laid out by Lenin and proven correct under his leadership.
11. On Factionalism
During the two years before the Fourteenth Congress there existed a factional “Septemvirate” consisting of the six members of the Politburo and the chairman of the Central Control Commission (CCC), Comrade Kuibyshev. This factional clique at the top decided in advance, without the knowledge of the party, every question on the agenda of the Politburo and Central Committee, and unilaterally decided a number of questions that were never brought before the Politburo at all. It made party assignments in a factional manner, and its members were bound by internal faction discipline. Taking part in the work of the Septemvirate, along with Kuibyshev, were those very leaders of the CCC, such as Yaroslavsky, Yanson, etc., who are conducting a ruthless struggle against “factions” and “groupings.” A similar factional grouping at the top has no doubt existed since the Fourteenth Congress as well. In Moscow, Leningrad, Kharkov, and other major centers, secret meetings are held, organized by only part of the top brass of the party apparatus, even though they have control of the entire official apparatus. These secret meetings of a select list of people are purely factional in character. Secret documents are read at them, and anyone not belonging to the faction who simply passes on such documents is expelled from the party. The claim that a “majority” cannot be a faction is obviously absurd. Discussion and adoption of resolutions is supposed to occur within the framework of the normal party bodies and not by having all matters decided in advance by a ruling faction behind the backs of the proper institutions. The ruling faction has its own minority, which places faction discipline above that of the party.
The purpose of all this factional machinery is to deny the party the chance to use the normal means, provided by the party rules, to make changes in the personnel and policies of the party apparatus. With every passing day this factional organization threatens the unity of the party more and more.
The deep-going dissatisfaction with the party regime established after Lenin’s death, and the still greater dissatisfaction over the shifts in policy, inevitably produce oppositional outbursts and give rise to heated disputes. But the leading group, instead of learning from the new and ever more striking facts that appear, and instead of rectifying its political line, systematically deepens the errors of bureaucratism. Now, as the evolution of the present ruling faction has shown, there can no longer be any doubt that the basic core of the 1923 Opposition correctly warned about the dangers of a shift away from the proletarian line and about the growing threat of the apparatus regime. Nevertheless, dozens and hundreds of leaders of the 1923 Opposition, including many old worker-Bolsheviks, steeled in the struggle, alien to careerism and obsequiousness, in spite of all the restraint and discipline they have shown, continue to this day to be kept away from party work. The repressive measures taken toward the basic cadre of the Leningrad Opposition after the Fourteenth Congress could not help but arouse the greatest alarm among the best layer of workers belonging to our party, who are accustomed to regard the Leningrad worker-Communists as the most experienced proletarian vanguard. At a time when the need to repel the growing kulak danger had already matured completely, the leading group took action against the vanguard of the Leningrad workers, who were guilty only of warning against that danger. Hundreds of the best workers were expelled from Leningrad. Thousands of worker-Communists, who constituted the best and most active elements of the Leningrad organization, have in one way or another been removed from party work. The political correctness of these Leningrad workers in the main is now quite clear to every honest party member.
The wound opened in the Leningrad organization can be healed only through a radical change in the inner-party regime. If, however, things continue the way they are now going, there can be no doubt that ever new pressure campaigns, purges, and exilings will be needed not only in Moscow and Leningrad but in other political regions and centers as well, such as the Donbas, Baku, the Urals. They too will be decimated by repressions.
The deviation from Lenin expresses itself in nothing so glaringly as in the desire to get away from a Bolshevik assessment of the dangers in the present course of the party by using the catchword Menshevism. It is precisely the ideologically most ossified section of the “leaders” that excels in this approach. Menshevism, certain of the inevitable capitalist degeneration of the Soviet Union, bases all its calculations on a break between the working class and the Soviet state, just as the Social Revolutionaries (SRs) count on the “strong” peasant breaking with the Soviet state. In actuality Menshevism, as an agency of the bourgeoisie, could hope to emerge from insignificance for a while only if the fissure between the working class and the Soviet state should begin to grow. To keep this from happening it is necessary first of all to see this fissure the moment it appears and not to close one’s eyes to it, as the bureaucrats do, denying the very need to work at the problem of drawing the Soviet state closer to the working class and the village poor. Prettifying reality; official optimism on general questions of the economy and pessimism on the question of wages; the wish not to see the kulak and at the same time the favoring of the kulak; insufficient attention to the poor peasantry; the especially crude pressure tactics in the working class centers; and the refusal to grasp the lesson of the recent Soviet elections — all this signifies a real and immediate, not just verbal, paving of the way for Menshevik and SR influences.
It is a crude self-deception to think that by mechanically taking reprisals against the so-called Opposition it will be possible subsequently to expand the framework of party democracy. On the basis of its entire experience the party cannot place any more faith in this consoling legend. New cracks and fissures are in the making as a result of the techniques of mechanical repression, new dismissals of people from their posts, new expulsions from the party, and new pressure tactics applied to the party as a whole. This system will inevitably narrow down the ruling clique at the top, lessen the authority of the leadership, and thereby force it to replace ideological authority with doubled and tripled application of pressure. The party must stop this destructive process at all costs. Lenin's example has shown that providing firm leadership for the party does not mean strangling it.
12. For Unity
There cannot be the slightest doubt that the party is fully capable of coping with all its difficulties. It would be the most arrant nonsense to think that the party could not find a way out on the road of unity. Moreover, it is only on the path of unity that a way out can be found. But for this an attentive and honest Bolshevik attitude toward questions that come up is necessary. We are against “perennial” discussion; we are against “the fever for discussions.” Such discussions, imposed on the party from above, cost it far too dearly. For the most part, they deafen the party and do very little to enlighten or improve it.
We hereby propose to the CC plenum — let us, through our joint efforts, restore a regime in the party that will permit all disputed questions to be solved in full accordance with all party traditions and the feelings and thoughts of the proletarian vanguard.
Only on this basis is party democracy possible.
Only on the basis of party democracy is healthy collective leadership possible. There is no other way. In the struggle and the work along this only correct path, our unconditional support is guaranteed to the CC entirely and in full.
The question of the so-called Lashevich affair, placed on the agenda of the present plenum by decision of the Politburo on June 24, was suddenly transformed, at the very last minute, by the decree of the CCC presidium on July 20, into the “affair” of Comrade Zinoviev. We consider it necessary first of all to state that in the draft resolution of the CCC presidium there is not one fact, not one report, not one suspicion voiced that was not already known six weeks ago, when the CCC presidium handed down its decision on the “affair” of Lashevich and others. In that document the name of Comrade Zinoviev was not mentioned. However in the latest draft resolution it is stated quite categorically that “all the threads” lead to Comrade Zinoviev as the president of the Comintern. This question, as is quite obvious to everyone, was decided not by the CCC presidium but by the factional group whose leader is Comrade Stalin.
We have before us a new stage in the implementation of a plan that was projected a long time ago and has been consistently carried out. As early as the immediate aftermath of the Fourteenth Congress, persistent discussions went on rather widely in relatively well-informed circles of party cadres — the inspiration for which came from the CC Secretariat — on the need to reorganize the Politburo by ousting a number of comrades who had taken part in the work of leadership under Lenin and replacing them with new elements who would constitute a reliable base of support for the leading role of Comrade Stalin. This plan met with support from the close-knit group immediately around Comrade Stalin, but encountered resistance from other elements who by no means belonged to an “Opposition.” It is this that undoubtedly explains the decision of the leading group to carry out the plan bit by bit, making use of every appropriate opportunity for this purpose at each stage of the game. The enlargement of the Politburo, with the simultaneous transfer of Comrade Kamenev to candidate membership, was the first stage in this premeditated plan to radically reorganize the party leadership. The aim of leaving Comrades Zinoviev and Trotsky on the enlarged Politburo, and keeping Kamenev as a candidate member, was to give the party the impression that the old basic core was being preserved, and thus to soothe any feelings of alarm as to the competence and qualifications of the central leadership. As early as a month and a half or two months after the congress, together with the continuation of the struggle against the “new Opposition,” a new chapter in the struggle against Comrade Trotsky was opened up simultaneously in various localities, above all in Moscow and Kharkov, as though at one signal. At the time the leaders of the Moscow organization said openly at a number of meetings of activists that the next blow should be struck against Comrade Trotsky. Certain members of the Politburo and CC, who by no means belonged to the “Opposition,” expressed disapproval of the Moscow organization leaders, it being no secret to anyone that behind the backs of the Moscow leaders stood the CC Secretariat. At this time the question of the forthcoming removal of Comrade Trotsky from the Politburo was discussed rather widely in party circles, not only in Moscow but in a number of other places as well.
The case brought against Comrade Lashevich did not introduce anything essentially new into the basic plan for reorganizing the party leadership, but it prompted the Stalin group to make a few changes in the way the plan was carried out. Until quite recently the plan had been to strike the first blow at Comrade Trotsky, and to postpone the question of Zinoviev until the next stage, in order to gradually get the party used to its new leadership, presenting it at each new stage of partial change with an accomplished fact; however, the “affair” of Lashevich, Belenky, and others, because of their close ties with Comrade Zinoviev, prompted the leading group to switch the order and aim the next blow at Comrade Zinoviev. The fact that they did not come to this change of plans without wavering and resistance is apparent from the fact that, as we have said already, the initial CCC decision on the Lashevich “affair” did not raise the question of Comrade Zinoviev at all, although all the elements of the “case” recited in the new draft resolution of the CCC presidium were present from the moment proceedings were first brought against Comrade Lashevich. The proposal put forward at the very last moment — to remove Comrade Zinoviev from the Politburo — was dictated by the central Stalin group as a step along the way to replacing the old Leninist party leadership with a new — Stalinist — leadership.
As before, the plan is implemented bit by bit Comrade Trotsky remains for the time being on the Politburo, in order, first of all, to make it possible for the party to think that Comrade Zinoviev was really removed in connection with the Lashevich affair and, secondly, not to arouse excessive alarm in the party by taking too abrupt measures. There can be no doubt, however, that the question of Comrade Trotsky, and of Comrade Kamenev, has been settled in advance in the minds of the Stalin nucleus, in the sense that they are to be removed from the leadership, and that the fulfillment of this part of the plan remains only a matter of organizational technique and suitable pretexts, real or invented. What is involved is a radical change in the party leadership. The political meaning of this change is evaluated in full in our basic declaration, which was written before the “affair” of Comrade Lashevich was transformed into that of Comrade Zinoviev.
At this point it remains only to add that the plainly discernible shift away from the Leninist line would have had an incomparably more energetic opportunist development if the reorganization of the leadership, projected by the Stalin group, had been carried out in practice. Together with Lenin, who clearly and precisely formulated his thinking in the document known as his Testament, we are most profoundly convinced, on the basis of the experience of the past few years, that the organizational policies of Stalin and his group threaten the party with the further grinding down of its basic cadres and with further shifts away from the class line. The issue at hand is the leadership of the party, the fate of the party. In view of what has been said above, we categorically reject the factional and profoundly harmful proposal of the CCC presidium.