Letter to the Presidium of the Seventh Enlarged Plenum of the ECCI, December 14, 1926

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Author(s) Grigori Zinoviev
Leon Trotsky
Lev Kamenev
Written 14 December 1926


[Leon Trotsky, The Challenge of the Left Opposition (1926-1927), New York 1980, p. 190-194, title: “Why the Opposition Will Vote Against the Resolution on Stalin’s Report”]

Why the Opposition Will Vote Against the Resolution on Stalin’s Report

To the Presidium of the Seventh Enlarged Plenum of the ECCI:

Dear Comrades:

Before passing to a vote on the resolution on Comrade Stalin’s report, we request that you read the following statement on the reasons for our vote. We ask that this statement be published in Pravda, in International Press Correspondence, and in the stenographic record.

Explanation of Vote

In voting against the resolution on the report by Comrade Stalin, we consider it our duty to give the following reasons:

1. We once again reject, categorically, the accusation that our speeches were factional. We again state that whoever tries, directly or indirectly, to solidarize with us while at the same time denying the proletarian character of our party and our state and the socialist character of construction in the Soviet Union will be ruthlessly opposed and rejected by us.

2. All our criticisms have been directed against errors and deviations from the proletarian line, and dictated by our desire to maintain, assure, and reinforce the revolutionary proletarian policy of our party and its inseparable ties with the international revolution, in accordance with the teachings of Lenin.

3. We resolutely and categorically reject, as completely contrary to the facts, the accusation that we do not believe in socialist construction in the USSR. In reality, we unshakably believe, as in the past, that the proletariat in the USSR, under the direction of the Communist Party, will overcome all difficulties and with the aid of the international proletariat will build socialism in the USSR. In stating that we are against the theory of socialism in one country, we are only continuing to defend the ideas Lenin defended, which are the basis of all the programmatic resolutions of the Comintern up to now.

4. We resolutely and categorically reject the totally unfounded accusations of pessimism and lack of faith:

(a) When we try to draw our party’s attention to the increasing danger of the kulaks, it is not to capitulate to this danger, but to advise the party to base itself on the poor peasants and rural workers and permit them, with the help of the proletarian government, to more easily bring the middle peasant into the struggle against the kulaks. It is not true that we proposed to “pressure the peasant” in favor of industrialization. What we want is to maintain the alliance of the workers and peasants as our most cherished achievement. Without this alliance, the proletarian dictatorship in the USSR would be condemned to perish. But we say that our base of support in the village is the agricultural worker and the poor peasant; our ally in the village is the middle peasant; our class enemy in the village is the rich peasant (kulak);

(b) When we insist on and call the attention of our party to the growth of private capital, it is not to capitulate to it, but so that a complete system of vigilance measures can keep private capital in a strictly subordinate position;

(c) When we speak of the inevitable position of dependence of our socialist economy on the world capitalist economy in a period of reconstruction, it is not to capitulate to this but to insist on a more appropriate distribution of the national income in the interests of state industry, an acceleration of the rate of development by every means, a rise in the material standard of living of the working class, and its education in the spirit of a profound understanding of the inseparability of the fate of our socialist construction from that of the international proletarian revolution.

5. We reject any accusation that we doubt the class character of our state and the socialist character of the society we are building. We in the Opposition have up to now worked with other comrades and under the direction of the CC in all branches of socialist construction: in the development of state industry, in establishing a stable currency, in strengthening our economic plans, in attaining a predominance of socialist tendencies. We could name dozens of the best-known militants who are in the Opposition and at the same time have carried out, not without success, one or another state task. The same will be true in the future to the extent that the Central Committee entrusts us with work of one kind or another.

6. It is not true that we are opposed to the tactic of the united front. We are for it. But we are opposed to agreements with Thomas, Pugh, and Purcell when they despicably betray the British miners.

7. It is not true that we are opposed to work in the reformist trade unions. No, we are for the participation of Communists in the most reactionary unions, in accordance with the teachings of Lenin. Communists ought to be wherever there are organized workers.

8. It is not true that we looked indulgently on “ultra-left” views. We struggle and we will struggle against all ultra-left errors. But we demand, in regard to honest revolutionary activists, even “ultra-left” ones, that the Comintern take the attitude taught by Lenin. We demand, in accordance with the teachings of Lenin, that the Comintern expose and denounce the right-wing leaders, diplomats, and parliamentarists who skillfully disguise their right-wing actions and plans with fine-sounding phrases.

9. We remain enemies of the Social Democracy, as we were in Lenin’s time. We consider the Social Democratic leaders to be the greatest enemies of the labor movement. It is not true that the Social Democracy has changed its attitude toward us, the Opposition. No, it continues to hate us as in the past (and even more) and to attack us as only the petty bourgeoisie is capable of attacking intransigent proletarian revolutionists. The bourgeois and Social Democratic press, viewing with irreconcilable hostility the policy we defend, sometimes tries to make use of our criticisms. It has always been that way.

10. It is not true that we deny the fact of a partial stabilization of capitalism. We recognize it. We wrote of it in a series of articles on the British strike. What we deny is that this stabilization is destined to last for decades. We leave this profession of faith to Otto Bauer and Company. We retain the viewpoint of Lenin, who considered our epoch to be one of world revolution.

11. Thus it is evident that we are not guilty of the slightest “Social Democratic deviation.” We are profoundly convinced that the future will prove that such an assertion cannot withstand the least criticism.

12. It is not true that we defend “Trotskyism.” Trotsky has stated to the International that on all the fundamental questions over which he had differences with Lenin, Lenin was right — in particular on the questions of permanent revolution and the peasantry. We defend Leninism. We struggle above all against any revision of Lenin's teachings on the international revolution.

13. It is not true that we accuse the majority of our party of representing a “right-wing deviation.” We believe only that in the AUCP there are right-wing currents and groupings which now have a disproportionate influence, but which the party will be able to overcome.

14. We will carry out to the end the obligations we assumed in our statement of October 16, 1926. But we have full right to defend our principles. We stated this in this same October 16 document and no one contested this right. In the seven years of the Comintern’s existence, all differences of opinion that existed in any party, including the AUCP, have always been given a hearing in the Comintern, and any minority whatsoever had the right to defend its point of view and its principles. If the expression of a point of view before a leading body of the world Communist Party is considered to be factionalism, then what other means exist to defend ideas within the limits of the general decisions of the Comintern? We will defend the unity of the AUCP and the Comintern. We will struggle against factionalism.

15. The continual attempts of our enemies to exploit the slightest difference of opinion in the party should not be a reason to cease all self-criticism. If the conferences and congresses were supposed to be based on unanimity assured in advance, there would be no point in convening them. The regime of the Comintern, and that of each individual party, should, in full accordance with our program and our statutes, assure real possibilities for self-criticism that will not develop into factional activity or disrupt unity of action.

16. In our opinion, the proposed resolution not only gives an incorrect and tendentious characterization of the opinions which we defend and which, we are unshakably convinced, are in complete accord with the traditions of Marxism and Leninism — but it also could worsen the situation within the Comintern, further limiting the already insufficient possibilities for criticism within the party. We have no doubt, moreover, that even while adopting this erroneous decision, the Comintern will remain, as in the past, the only organization capable of correcting the errors of its different sections, and its own errors, basing itself on the experience of the revolutionary struggle of the world proletariat.

17. This profound and unshakable confidence gives us the right and duty to submit entirely to the decision that you will make and to call upon all the comrades who consider themselves in agreement with us to do likewise.

G. Zinoviev, L. Kamenev, L. Trotsky