Letter to Teplov, October 22, 1928

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An Ultraleft Caricature of Stalin

Dear Comrade Teplov:

I was very glad to receive direct news of you at last. I confess that in one of my letters I came down rather hard on you in connection with your assessment of the left course. I had received from V. D. [Kasparova] an extensive excerpt from your letter. Now the question has been made superfluous, as I see from your letter of September 28, and so there is no reason to return to it. That the Stalin zigzag introduced more than a few fissures into the unthinking mass of party members, which constitutes the basis of the centrist line and the bureaucratic regime – of that there can of course be no doubt. As for how long it will take for the hidden processes to come to the surface, it is not easy to guess.

You hope that the changes in the working class section of the party will become evident in the next four or five months. That is not excluded – on one condition: that the vacuum that will be left behind in the mass consciousness by retreating centrism will be filled up in time by the Leninist line. The activity and independence of the Opposition are the most important conditions for any political progress. That is why I responded with such alarm to the statements of some comrades, yours included, when elements of a new line within the Opposition began to be projected.

Your short, second letter of October 7 was devoted to the Democratic Centralists. They have come onto the agenda now in all the exile colonies. There is word to the same effect from Moscow, referring to Kharkov and other places. Even before receipt of your letter, with the copy of V. Smirnov's letter, I had commented in several letters on the latest discoveries of this man, who is a fine revolutionary but who has never, not on one single question, taken an independently correct position, who moreover, at the present time, seems to have set himself the conscious task of doing an ultraleft caricature of Stalin. If there are Democratic Centralist moods in our ranks, that should become evident now in an absolutely clear and distinct form. None of us will show any indulgence to such tendencies. In each individual case all we have to do is determine whether some temporary psychological excess is involved, especially as a result of the struggle against conciliationist tendencies, or whether we are dealing with true ultraleftism, with all its sins: ignoring the party and its internal processes; smug, self-satisfied sectarianism; "otzovism"; and adventurism. In the first case we have to explain in a comradely way; in the second, we have to draw a line of demarcation.

It would not be superfluous, however, to recall that precisely the most prominent representatives of conciliationist or semiconciliationist moods in relation to centrism, until the most recent period, as late as January of this year, were emphatic opponents of our making a clear demarcation between ourselves and the Democratic Centralists. They favored not only joint work with the Democratic Centralists but even total merger. And if we reflect on this well, it is not hard to understand that the 180-degree turn from fusion with Democratic Centralism to semi-conciliationism toward centrism is not at all accidental.

I'll stop with that for now. Enclosed is a letter of a general character, written in reply to several comrades on the "current" moment, so to speak [probably the letter of October 21].

I feel considerably better. The last three weeks I've been working without "interruptions." Getting ready for a big hunt. I would like to hope that autumn – my accursed enemy – would have mercy on me this time. Warm regards to all the comrades at I shim.