Platform of the Joint Opposition
The on-line publication of this important document was originally accomplished in 1998 for the Trotsky Internet Archive (TIA). TIA was ordered to remove this version, which was originally published by Pathfinder Press, by attorneys representing Pathfinder Press. Pathfinder Press was once a Trotskyist publishing company but has for many years operated within the norms of a commercial publishing house that jealously guards its copyrights, even to the detriment of the distribution of the documents it seeks to control. This occurred in the fall of 2000. Fortunately, the TIA was able to obtain another translation of The Platform of the Joint Opposition made in 1973 from Index Books, a socialist publisher in Britain that was only too happy to allow the TIA to distribute this document – for free over the Internet. Index Books acquired the stock and copyrights of New Park Publications, which for decades had been Britains biggest publishers of Leon Trotsky until it folded in 1984-85.
– David Walters, Director, Trotsky Internet Archive
This version was transcribed in the winter of 2000-2001 by David Walters.
THIS document was the end product of a process of analysis and struggle in a constantly changing and living movement – the Bolshevik Party. It sums up a period which spans roughly four years, commencing some time before the death of Lenin in 1923 and concluding with attempts to publish this programme in 1927.
Before these four years the first World War had wreaked its destruction on the Russian economy. Subsequent revolutions, the ravages of civil war, of wars of intervention, famine and epidemics and above all, the successful, if only temporary, isolation of the Soviet Union through the failure of the Revolution in Europe, all this set in motion reactionary, conservative, pressures within Soviet society which found their expression within the Bolshevik Party.
This was essentially a complex and relatively long-drawn-out process, the mechanics of which were not apparent at that time to any but the most far-sighted participants in the struggles within the Bolshevik Party.
Through all the vicissitudes of the struggle against the emerging bureaucracy, from the time of Lenin’s direction of that fight from his deathbed; the incoherent disquiet expressed by various oppositions; the first Trotskyist opposition persecuted by the Zinoviev-Stalin troika and the period of the Joint Opposition, the struggle of Trotsky and his comrades was characterized by an absolutely loyal, principled and disciplined conduct in its rejections with the party. At the heart of this attitude lay their absolutely unshakeable confidence in the international Revolution. Until that reprieve for the Russian Revolution, this opposition stood its ground and fought tooth and nail to defend each and every conquest of October and especially the Leninist traditions and practices of the Bolshevik Party.
The stage of the struggle which this Platform represents marks a watershed in the theory and practice of Trotskyism. It marked the culmination of one stage in the struggle to preserve and defend Bolshevism. In the background were the successive setbacks to the world revolution – the fascist coup in Italy, the defeat of the 1923 German revolution, the defeat of the 1926 General Strike in Britain, the coup of Pilsudski in Poland and finally, the crushing defeat of the Chinese Revolution in 1927.
Within the Soviet Union, in the countryside, after the implementation of the New Economic Policy, capitalism was allowed a hardly restricted development. Industry was developed only haphazardly. A weary working class had in many cases barely resumed regular employment. It was, in other words, a period conducive to the rise of moods of conservatism – of anything for a bit of peace and quiet, of routinism and accommodation to habits and ways of life alien to the restless, thrusting spirit of Bolshevism. The party which consisted of 50,000 workers, as against 300,000 functionaries (ex-workers, intellectuals, etc.) was further diluted by the influx of 240,000 raw recruits via the so-called “Lenin levy”.
These changes influenced others within the party in the field of programme. Slowly, imperceptibly at first, but gathering momentum with each set-back to the international revolution, policies were adapted, modified and transformed, “to conform to reality”. Stalin was the most consistent representative of this trend. Fighting for every toe-hold, each hand-breadth of time, the Left Opposition, led by Trotsky, strove to utilize every vestige of support from both its own and the international working class to further its historic interests.
The present document was in fact the work of the Joint (Bolshevik-Leninist) Opposition which drew together the supporters of Trotsky and Zinoviev against Stalin and Bukharin, the latter representing the right wing of the Party. It was submitted to the Central Committee in early September, 1927. It was signed by thirteen members of the Central Committee, including Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smilga, Evdokimov, Rakovsky, Piatakov, Bakaev. Zinoviev had first launched the campaign against “Trotskyism” following the publication of Trotsky’s Lessons of October in 1924. But he had come increasingly into conflict with the Stalin faction, particularly over economic policy.
This Platform was drawn up at a time of crisis for the bureaucracy. This bureaucracy consisted at that time of two basic tendencies – the Bukharinist right and the Stalinist centre of the Party, the latter perhaps less prominent in the public eye but with control of the entire apparatus. Neither was sure of its future. The opposition was united. It was able, after thorough and detailed discussion, to reach agreement on this Platform.
In the country, the richer peasants were beginning to assert their dominance by withholding grain stocks and rigging the price of bread, the urban working class paying the price. Registered unemployment stood at 1,000,000. Abroad, the aftermath of the British General Strike, the Polish events and the defeat of the Chinese Revolution, confirmed all the prognostications and warnings of Trotsky. The danger of a juncture of revolutionary forces in this crisis threatened Stalin as never before. He had to act and act swiftly.
Up to this point Stalin had (with the loyal collaboration of the opposition) contained the struggle within the party. He had successfully ousted the opposition from most of the key positions in the party. The summer of 1926 saw the intensive united action of both tendencies of the Opposition, i.e. of both Zinovievist and Trotskyist. Stalin countered with expulsions, disciplining, shutting down meetings and the use of violence, driving the opposition underground.
At the joint plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of July 1926, a formal declaration of the joint Opposition was made. It called for: the restoration of inner-party democracy, championing the cause of the working class against the kulaks, Nepmen and bureaucrats. This meant an increase of wages for industrial workers (wages were lower than pre-war). or other. wise productivity would stagnate or fall; freedom to negotiate wage claims through free trade unions; reform of taxation – relieve the poor and the small peasants, tax the middle peasants and soak the kulaks and Nepmen; long-term voluntary collectivization with state credits and mechinization, etc.: compulsory grain loans and a 50 percent tax on profits of the kulaks in order to subsidize industry (this revenue alone would more than cover losses by tax relief and increased wage costs) – accelerate industrialization (already output exceeded plans) by implementing the decisions of the 14th Congress of December 1925, and institute a real 5-year plan. It further declared that the Stalin-Bukharin international politics of pessimism was beginning to permeate domestic policy to the point of introducing “Socialism in One Country” and an adaptation to the status quo outside, i.e., opportunistic alliances (e.g. British).
It was rejected in toto and Zinoviev was thrown off the Politbureau. Then Stalin stole a little of the Opposition’s thunder, pledging wage rises for poorer workers and, utilizing his monopoly of the press, distorted Trotsky’s views and launched a campaign to boost the “theory” of Socialism in one country and further intimidate the Opposition.
The Zinovievists were shaken and an ultra-left secessionist mood developed amongst some of the Trotskyists. To save the situation a truce was arranged with Stalin, a truce which he violated a few weeks later. This drew from Trotsky the celebrated observation: “The First Secretary poses his candidature to the post of grave-digger of the Revolution”. Trotsky was expelled from the politbureau and Zinoviev was ejected from the Comintern.
Once again the weaker elements were shaken. Another attempt at truce was rent asunder at the 15th Party Conference (October 1926) which turned out to be a witch-hunter’s jamboree. Some of the ultra-lefts surrendered, and even Lenin’s widow capitulated to Stalin. All the expulsions were confirmed and the Congress was followed by a further spate of victimizations and provocations.
In the meantime events in China were rising in a crescendo of revolutionary explosions. Deprived of access to party documents concerning the real state of the Chinese Communist Party, the Opposition had barely time to take stock of the situation and even expressed disagreements on the policy for the CCP. In April 1926 Trotsky supported the pleas of the CCP for its independence from the Kuomintang but was turned down on every occasion. Within a year the revolution had gone full cycle. Chiang Kai-shek was massacring the communists.
Even at this moment Trotsky had to contend with Zinoviev’s conservatism while striving to salvage something out of the Chinese debacle. Public knowledge of these events and the discussion on them was effectively smothered.
Then the Anglo-Soviet Trade Union Committee broke up without so much as a yes please or no thank you from the British side and Stalin’s British policy was stripped stark naked. Cornered, he countered with a war-danger hysteria and threatened the Opposition. It countered by requesting discussion at a closed session of the CC. Rebuffed and denounced, Trotsky raised it on the Executive Committee of the Communist International. Stalin began to disperse the leaders of the Opposition to remote provinces. or abroad on missions, and hounded the rank and file. But Trotsky used the “war scare” to demand the restoration of Leninist norms in the party.
The next Party Congress was perilously near, and Stalin could not afford the debate. Building up the war scare now to one of insinuating that Trotsky had an alliance with Chamberlain, he prepared the conditions for fresh charges against Trotsky, that is, for appealing to the ECCI (a constitutional right of all members of the CI), and being present at a farewell demonstration to Opposition leader Smilga. A major diversion from the issue of China and his foreign policy.
In July, Trotsky defended himself before the Party Control Commission and tore the indictment to shreds. The verdict was held up. At length, in August they could only pass a motion of censure on him, and Stalin was in worse shape than before. Trotsky and Zinoviev once more affirmed their loyalty to party and state and their unconditional defense of the Soviet Union.
It was soon after this event that the joint Platform was first published. Desperately, Stalin lashed out, penalizing here, banishing there and postponing the Party Congress. Trotsky protested at these actions, demanding the return of his banished supporters and free pre-Congress discussion, including the publication of the Platform by the Party, as had been customary in the past.
These demands were rejected and the circulation of the Platform proscribed as being “against the party”. As a demonstration, and in order to “spread the blow” that was anticipated, supporters of the Platform were called upon to sign the document. There now descended on the heads of the Opposition another barrage of slanders, fabrication, lies and distortions. Discussion was stifled. The Opposition was forced to print the document themselves. The first attempt was discovered by an agent of the GPU planted in its ranks. The duplicator and copies were seized. The agent was promptly dressed up as a Wrangel officer, working hand-in-glove with the Trotskyists. But the Opposition so destroyed the frame-up that even Stalin had to admit the plant!
A second attempt was made – this time in print, and it is from one of these copies, smuggled out by French communists, that this edition derives. Soon after, however, the GPU discovered this press, seized a large number of the pamphlets and imprisoned its printers. Immediately Preobrazhensky, Serebriakov and Mrachovsky volunteered responsibility for this work. They were promptly expelled from the party and later imprisoned.
On September 27, Trotsky, after a scathing statement in his defence, was expelled from the ECCI.
Stalin feared the possible consequences of the policies of the Platform, and utilizing the gag imposed on the Opposition and his monopoly of the press and state apparatus, stole a march (and indeed one better) on the Opposition. Without consulting the State Planning Commission, the trade unions or even his own Central Committee, he decreed with a fanfare of trumpets – a seven-hour day! A five-day week! Same wages as before! Hurrah for the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution!
Part of the 10th anniversary celebration was the convening of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets in Leningrad on October 15. At this meeting Trotsky denounced Stalin’s decree as a demagogic trick and totally unattainable in terms of what was possible in the Soviet Union of the day. Better give the workers something less but real! Sensitive to what he had to say in relation to the conditions of the working class, and fearful of the consequences. Stalin seized on this phrase and sent his whipper-snappers scurrying to the factory gates crying “Trotsky doesn’t want to give you anything”!
Despite their efforts, on the same day, by a coincidence, the special 7-hour day celebration demonstration turned into one in favour of Trotsky and Zinoviev.
A week later Stalin was insisting on expulsions again. The hysteria at this session of the Joint Plenum of the CC and Control Commission reached incredible depths – books, inkpots and even a glass were hurled at Trotsky as he defended himself. But underlying these symptoms was the graver malady of the final disintegration of men who had trained themselves to be Bolsheviks all their political lives. Their efforts increased in vehemence and violence as the Congress drew nearer.
Came November 7, the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution, and the Joint Opposition made a desperate intervention. Their banners cried their cause: “Strike against the kulak, the Nepman and the bureaucrat!” “Down with opportunism!” “Carry out Lenin’s testament!” “Beware of a split in the party!” “Preserve Bolshevik Unity!” But Stalin was prepared. Fearful of the possible consequences of this agitation, at this time of crisis, he literally smashed the demonstration, its personnel, their banners and even their homes. A service revolver was discharged at Trotsky. The protest had been made. But once again the Zinovievite wing was preparing to beat a retreat and was soon speaking of the “courage to surrender”.
On November 14 the CC and CCC at its extraordinary plenum decided to expel Trotsky and Zinoviev from the Party for counter-revolutionary demonstrations and virtual insurrection; Kamenev, Rakovsky, Smilga, Evdokimov from the CC; and Bakaev, Muralov and others from the CCC. This was, of course, accompanied by a purge of hundreds of others from the Party. Two days later, Adolphe Joffe shot himself as a protest at his maltreatment by the Stalin regime.
The 15th Party Congress convened on December 2, and remained in session until the 19th. A joint statement was presented to it by 121 oppositionists, which declared that they stood by their views; recognized a split as the greatest menace to Lenin’s course; that they insisted on forms of inner party democracy being strengthened and that they were prepared to disband themselves if their expelled and imprisoned members were reinstated. The opposition did not have one full delegate at this conference. Its views were branded by unanimous decision as incompatible with membership. It was a rout.
Before the Congress was over, the Zinovievists deserted. Capitulations (2,500) and expulsions (1,500) followed wholesale. Zinoviev and Kamenev surrendered and were put on six months’ probation! Antonov Ovseenko and Piatakov followed suit. But the Trotskyists while still supporting the single party system, refused to submit to the decisions of this Congress within the Party.
Stalin went to work immediately, exiling Oppositionists to the most inhospitable corners of the “socialist sixth” of the world! Three to four thousand arrests were made and just in time. For all the signs of trouble began to manifest themselves – grain shortages and price increases of bread and other foodstuffs. In fact, only six days before Trotsky’s banishment to Alma Ata the first measures against the kulaks were discussed. By February, the Party Press declared: “The kulak has raised his head”, the peasants are withholding their surplus grain.
By April, the CC confessed to a grave crisis and instituted compulsory loans on the kulaks, requisitioning of grain and fixing of bread prices. All that the Opposition prophesied, all that the Platform warned against, was being confirmed. Cautiously, and steering clear of the least sectarianism towards the Stalinist wing and the slightest opportunism towards the Bukharinists, the Opposition delineated a course of critical support for the Stalin group and against the restorationist trend, but insisting on a return to internal democracy in the Party. This attitude characterized the struggle in the next period. But in this phase of the struggle the Opposition suffered the disadvantage of being scattered in remote places of exile, able to correspond with each other and with its leader Trotsky only with great difficulty and delay.
Valuable time had been gained, in that the previous struggle had at least served to heighten the awareness of the crisis in the country and suggested the measures with which to combat it. Indeed had the Zinovievite wing stood firm a different state of affairs might have prevailed. But here again experience underlined the necessity for intransigent loyalty to principles.
The Stalinists, now falling out with the right Bukharinists, were on the horns of dilemma – losing their erstwhile friends and fearful at the prospect of having a bloc with Trotsky. So they spread dissension and discord in the ranks of the Opposition, seducing the weaker and hammering the irreconcilables.
The siren cries of the new shifts in Stalin’s policies began to achieve precisely that, dividing and then deepening the rift among the exiles into “conciliators” and “irreconcilables”, Preobrazhensky, the theoretician par excellence of primitive accumulation was attracted by the new policies, but like others, failed to observe the thorough-going persecution, intolerance and falsification of party history which accompanied these measures. His proposal for a rapprochement with Stalin was rejected by the opposition. Then Radek caught the fever, beginning, to find fault with the theory of the Permanent Revolution, which he had hitherto endorsed. During the summer of 1928, Trotsky made preparations for the 6th Congress of the Communist International and drew up a detailed and devastating critique of the new Draft Programme of the CI.
The 6th Congress of the CI and its new left turn tended to further reinforce these trends while simultaneously generating a mood of lack of confidence and scepticism among the foreign representatives in the International. In the meantime the Bukharinists made a temporary come-back on the CC, curbing the measures against the kulaks, who now withheld their stocks to such an extent as to halt grain exports and force the bread prices up by 20 per cent, endangering even army supplies. These developments in turn strengthened the left in the opposition – the Sosnovsky, Dinglestedt, Eltsin wing. On the other hand, Rakovsky, Trotsky’s chief comrade-in-arms, began to succumb to what he described as the deadly apathy of the proletariat and the “laws of history”.
On the CC feverish manoeuvring went on. Bukharin made semi-hysterical advances to the Opposition, while Stalin sent out feelers and misleading rumours of a possible pact with Trotsky. Trotsky used this opportunity to make his position clearer: no horse-trading in principles, discussion only on the basis of proletarian democracy. He disowned Stalin’s methods of force and violence in implementing his policies, rather, tax the wealthy, support the poor and give the middle peasant a square deal. No capitulation to Stalinism, only critical support. As regards relations with the Bukharinists, an agreement was only possible on the single point of enforcing strict and proper rules of conduct for a really democratic Party Congress.
Towards the end of 1928, Smilga, Serebriakov and Smirnov drifted over to Radek-Preobrazhensky. Radek resumed his attack on the Permanent Revolution. In October, all Trotsky’s communications with his comrades were cut except for those with defectors. And for good reason too. The October Revolution celebrations revealed why. The slogans in the Press read: “The danger is on the right!”; “Strike against the kulak!”; “Curb the Nepman!”; “Speed up industrialization!”. The previous year’s November-day slogans of the Opposition were confirmed to the day, with the all-important exception of the question of party democracy.
The aggravation of the crisis only served to strengthen Stalin’s attitude to the Opposition – entice the waverers, crush the irreconcilables. In the party there were heart-searchings. Perhaps Trotsky was right? The Opposition experienced an accession of strength, followed by a fresh wave of arrests. But for each of these there were many more silent doubters still in the party. Trotskyism threaten to outflank Stalin. Its leader had to be removed. The Politbureau “debated” his deportation and despite Bukharin’s desperate pleas and Tomsky and Rykov’s opposition, Stalin won.
On January 22, 1929, Trotsky and his family were moved from Alma Ata and later deported to Turkey. He resided on the island of Prinkipo while negotiating a visa to enter any one country in the world. None, not even Britain, under a so-called Labour government. would have him. Finally, in 1933, he was granted asylum in France, which was later commuted to residence under surveillance. From France he emigrated to Norway in 1935 and thence to Mexico where he lived up to the day of his assassination in August l940.
During his last days in the Soviet Union, Trotsky began work on the concept of the Thermidor in relation to the October Revolution and its subsequent evolution, in an attempt to analyse contradictions and complexities and to prognosticate its further development. This work was to bear fruit in the idea of the Fourth International, an idea which represented a definitive break with all previous struggles to re-orient and democratise the Communist Parties of the Soviet Union and the Comintern – an idea which inspired the construction of a new International of parties which continues the traditions of the Opposition.
What was the subsequent fate of the Trotskyist (Left) Opposition in the Soviet Union? The answer to this is to some extent bound up in the evolution of Stalin’s policies at home. With the outbreak of the crisis Stalin resorted simpleton-wise to the proposals of the Platform. The five-year plan was arbitrarily revised and stepped up. In the country, the Stalinists moved from grain requisition to “voluntary” collectivization and finally in 1929-1930 to forced collectivization – all without any co-ordination with a development in agricultural technique – blindly, empirically, violently.
Disaster in food crops, livestock and commercial-industrial crops, impoverishment and mass deportations of refractory peasantry, and famine to the point of cannibalism resulted. The effects of this collapse on the urban worker were harrowing. Working on famine rations, he was exhorted to superhuman efforts to achieve the crazy targets of the revised 5-year plans – shock brigades, socialist emulation, inflation, petty pilfering and speculation, demoralized him.
Breakdowns through exhaustion and bureaucratic mismanagement were blamed on sabotage. Innocent workers, agronomic experts, scientists were shot out of hand. Vagrancy and absenteeism were suppressed by introduction of internal passports which chained the producers to their benches or their ploughshares. The purges reached out into the ministries and academies. Every failure found its scapegoats. Even whole nationalities were found wanting in loyalty. This was the happy hunting ground of the Khrushchev generation who founded their careers on the bones of the Skrypniks and other Communists.
This period of chaotic, tumultuous change, of profound Wretchedness was succeeded by a year of respite, before the plunge into the great darkness of the terror that followed the Kirov assassination, a period which extended from December 1, 1934, practically up to the outbreak of World War II. This period culminated at its blackest in what is known as the Yezhovschina.
It was against this background that the rest of the story of the Left Opposition was played out. Victor Serge estimates that there were perhaps three to four thousand Oppositionist survivors by the end of 1929. 1,000 fresh arrests were made in October 1929 and more than another 1,000 in 1930. That left no more to arrest. In 1932 they were joined by hundreds more former oppositionists. They in turn were joined by many times more suspect Stalinists. Many exiles from all over the world who had sought shelter in the USSR were also in camps.
Rakovsky was broken in 1934. Sosnovsky followed suit. Trotsky’s secretaries remained incarcerated. Trotsky’s first wife and her grandchildren disappeared into that wilderness and have not been heard of since. Thousands of others suffered a like fate, torn from dear ones, comrades and friends.
Bukharinist protegés were jailed in 1932. In 1935, after the Kirov assassination a flood of old Bolsheviks, ex-oppositionists and their followers filled the camps and prisons. Later these were joined by the military specialists and refugee Spaniards. GPU camp commandants were issued with sealed orders to be broken only on the outbreak of hostilities, which they dutifully did. “Dangerous politicals” were mown down en masse thus saving them the long, drawn-out deprivations of the war years when the survivors literally froze to death. The “coup-de-grace” was delivered with a sledge hammer on the head of the already dead victim – a method of saving ammunition in those lean years!
Such was the fate of the vast majority of our own political forebears. A few lucky ones only may have survived. But those camps were the schools of the “Back to Lenin movement”, of a new Soviet generation. Deep within the suffering, toilworn minds of the Soviet working class there flickers that deadly memory, indestructible, irrepressible, a memory that will leap into flame, given a leadership and given the conditions for its development. The Trotskyists outside the Soviet Union must make those conditions by breaking the imperialist encirclement and bringing succour from metropolitan Europe to the Soviet proletariat. They will achieve this by building the Fourth International on a firm foundation of principles.
We feel confident that the re-publication of this document at a time when the Stalinist movement is in its deepest-ever crisis is bound to make a profound impression upon dissident Communists and young Marxists alike. We say this because none of the issues raised by the growing opposition within the Soviet Union can be answered adequately until the complete history of Stalinism, its betrayals, crimes and stupidities has been explained in a rational and scientific manner. This document is a vital part in this now-urgent task.
Despite some formally correct criticisms which the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party raised against Moscow in the late 1950s and early 1960s, they have failed utterly to face up to the question: How and why did Stalinism arise and how can the Soviet Union be regenerated? Because of this refusal to face up to their own past. today sees the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party entering into the most open and counterrevolutionary alliances with the imperialists, above all with the discredited and crisis-torn Nixon administration.
Understandably, the present leaders of the Soviet Communist Party, like their predecessor Khrushchev, have absolutely no explanation for the events described and analysed in this document. They continue to evade any answers with the subterfuge of the “evil genius” and the “cult of the individual” a thesis which explains nothing except their own political bankruptcy.
It is clear however that such “explanations” are increasingly unsatisfactory for a new generation of Soviet workers, students and intellectuals. The growing opposition within the USSR and its great courage in the face of vicious political, intellectual and physical persecution by the bureaucracy testifies not merely to the insoluble crisis of Stalinism, but to the ability of the working class, within the Soviet Union and internationally, to defeat Stalinism. What this growing opposition requires if it is to carry through this task successfully is not merely support from the international working class; more than anything it needs arming theoretically and politically. It is in the lessons of the fight of Trotsky and the Left Opposition and later of the Fourth International alone that today’s opposition can find its weapons, and overcome many of its undoubted weaknesses.
The Programme published here was first produced in the midst of a series of important and decisive defeats for the international working class. Today, the situation is transformed. The deepest-ever capitalist crisis is bringing the working class of the entire world – in the big capitalist countries as much as in the colonial and semi-colonial countries – into revolutionary struggles.
The period since 1927 has also brought vast changes within the Soviet Union. The productive forces, based upon the planned economy established by the October revolution, have bounded forward, in spite of the losses suffered through bureaucratic mismanagement. The Soviet working class has been profoundly affected by these changes. Numerically and culturally it dwarfs its predecessor of the 1920s. All the ingredients for a massive revolutionary explosion against the bureaucracy are being assembled.
Chapter 1. Introductory[edit source]
IN HIS speech at the last party congress he attended, Lenin said:
Here we have lived a year, with the state in our hands, and under the New Economic Policy has it operated our way? No. We don’t like to acknowledge this, but it hasn’t. And how has it operated? The machine isn’t going where we guide it, but where some illegal, or lawless, or God-knows-whence-derived speculators or private capitalistic businessmen, or both together, are guiding it. A machine doesn’t always travel just exactly the way, and it often travels just exactly not the way, that the man imagines who sits at the wheel.
In those words was given the criterion by which we ought to judge the fundamental problems of our politics. In what direction is the machine travelling? The State? The power? Is it travelling in the direction that we, Communists, expressing the interests and will of the workers and the enormous mass of the peasants, desire? Or not in that direction? Or “not exactly” in that direction?
In these years since the death of Lenin, we have more than once tried to bring the attention of the central organs of our party, and afterward the party as a whole, to the fact that, thanks to incorrect leadership, the danger indicated by Lenin has greatly increased. The machine is not going in the direction demanded by the interests of the workers and peasants. On the eve of the new congress we consider it our duty, notwithstanding all the persecution we are suffering, to call the party’s attention with redoubled energy to this fact. For we are sure that the situation can be corrected, and corrected by the party itself.
When Lenin said that the machine often goes where it is directed by forces hostile to us, he called our attention to two facts of supreme importance. First, that there exist in our society these forces hostile to our cause – the kulak, the Nepman, the bureaucrat – availing themselves of our backwardness and our political mistakes, and relying upon the support of international capitalism. Second, the fact that these forces are so strong that they can push our governmental and economic machine in the wrong direction, and ultimately even attempt – at first in a concealed manner – to seize the wheel of the machine.
Lenin’s words laid upon us all the following obligations:
- To watch vigilantly the growth of these hostile forces – kulak, Nepman, and bureaucrat;
- To remember that in proportion to the general revival of the country, these forces will strive to unite, introduce their own amendments’ into our plans, exercise an increasing pressure upon our policy, and satisfy their interests through our apparatus;
- To take all possible measures to weaken the growth, unity, and pressure of these hostile forces, preventing them from creating that actual, although invisible, dual-power system toward which they aspire;
- To tell candidly the whole truth about these processes to all the toiling masses. In this now consists the fundamental problem as to a “Thermidorian” danger and the struggle against it.
Since Lenin uttered his warning, many things have improved with us, but many also have grown worse. The influence of the state apparatus is growing, but with it also the bureaucratic distortion of the workers’ state. The absolute and relative growth of capitalism in the country and its absolute growth in the cities are beginning to produce a political self-consciousness in the bourgeois elements of our country. These elements are trying to demoralize – not always unsuccessfully – that part of the Communists with whom they come in contact at work and in social intercourse. The slogan given by Stalin at the Fourteenth Party Congress, “Fire to the left!” could not but promote this union of the right elements in the party with the bourgeois Ustrialov elements in the country.
The question, “Who will beat whom?” will be decided in a continuous struggle of classes on all sectors of the economic, political, and cultural fronts – a struggle for a socialist or a capitalist course of development, for a distribution of the national income corresponding to one or the other of these two courses, for a solid political power of the proletariat or a division of this power with the new bourgeoisie. In a country with an overwhelming majority of small and very small peasants, and small proprietors in general, the most important processes of this struggle will frequently go on in a fragmentary and underground manner, only to burst “unexpectedly” to the surface all at once.
The capitalist element finds its primary expression in a class differentiation in the country, and in a multiplication of private traders in the city. The upper levels in the country and the bourgeois elements in the city are interweaving themselves more and more closely with the various links of our state-economic apparatus. And this apparatus not infrequently helps the new bourgeoisie to wrap up in a statistical fog its successful effort to increase its share in the national income.
The trade apparatus – state, co-operative, and private – devours an enormous share of our national income, more than one-tenth of the gross production. Furthermore, private capital, in its capacity as commercial middleman, has handled in recent years considerably more than a fifth of all trade – in absolute figures, more than five milliards a year. Up to now, the general consumer has received more than 50 per cent of the products he needs from the hands of the private capitalists. For the private capitalist this is the fundamental source of profit and accumulation. The disparity (scissors’) between agricultural and industrial prices, between wholesale and retail prices, the rupture between prices in the different branches of agriculture in the different regions and seasons, and finally the difference between domestic and world prices (contraband), are a constant source of private gain.
Private capital is collecting usurious interest on loans and is making money on government bonds.
The role of the private capitalist in industry is also very considerable. Even though it has decreased relatively in the recent period, still it has grown absolutely. Registered private capitalistic industry shows a gross production of 400 millions a year. Small, home, and handicraft industries show more than 1,800 millions. Altogether, the production of the non-state industries constitutes more than a fifth of the whole production of goods, and about 40 per cent of the commodities in the general market. The overwhelming bulk of this industry is bound up one way or another with private capital. The various open or concealed forms of exploitation of the mass of handicraft workers by commercial and home-enterprise capital are an extremely important and, moreover, a growing source of accumulation for the new bourgeoisie.
Taxes, wages, prices, and credit are the chief instruments of distribution of the national income, strengthening certain classes and weakening others.
The agricultural tax in the country is imposed, as a general rule, in an inverse progression: heavily upon the poor, more lightly upon the economically strong and upon the kulaks. According to approximate calculations, 34 per cent of the poor peasant proprietors of the Soviet Union (even omitting provinces with a highly developed class differentiation, such as the Ukraine, Northern Caucasus, and Siberia) receive 18 per cent of the net income. Exactly the same total income, 18 per cent, is received by the highest group, constituting only 7.5 per cent of the proprietors. Yet both these groups pay approximately the same amount, 20 per cenf each of the total tax. It is evident from this that on each individual poor farm the tax lays a much heavier burden than on the kulak, or the “well-to-do’ proprietor in general. Contrary to the fears of the leaders of the Fourteenth Congress, our tax-policy by no means strips’ the kulak. It does not hinder him in the least from concentrating in his hands a continually greater accumulation in money and kind.
The role of the indirect taxes in our budget is growing alarmingly at the expense of the direct. By that alone the tax-burden automatically shifts from the wealthier to the poorer levels. The taxation of the workers in 1925-1926 was twice as high as in the preceding year, while the taxation of the rest of the urban population diminished by 6 per cent. The liquor tax falls, with more and more unbearable heaviness, precisely upon the industrial regions. The growth of income per person for 1926 as compared with 1925 – according to certain approximate calculations – constituted, for the peasants, 19 per cent; for the workers, 26 per cent; for the merchants and the industrialists, 46 per cent. If you divide the “peasants’ into three fundamental groups, it will appear beyond a doubt that the income of the kulak increased incomparably more than that of the worker. The income of the merchants and industrialists, calculated on the basis of the tax data, is undoubtedly represented as less than it is. However, even these somewhat coloured figures clearly testify to a growth of class differences.
The “scissors”, representing the disparity of agricultural and industrial prices, have drawn still farther apart during the last year and a half. The peasant received for his produce not more than one and a quarter times the pre-war price, and he paid for industrial products not less than two and one-fifth times as much as before the war. This over-payment by the peasants, and again predominantly by the lower level of the peasants, constituting in the past year a sum of about a milliard rubles, not only increases the conflict between agriculture and industry, but greatly sharpens the differentiation in the country.
On the disparity between wholesale and retail prices, the state industry loses, and also the consumer, which means that there is a third party who gains. It is the private capitalist who gains, and consequently capitalism.
Real wages in 1927 stand, at the best, at the same level as in the autumn of 1925. Yet it is indubitable that during the two years intervening the country has grown richer, the total national income has increased, the kulak levels in the country have increased their reserves with enormous rapidity, and the accumulations of the private capitalist, the merchant, the speculator have grown by leaps and bounds. It is clear that the share of the working class in the total income of the country has fallen, while the share of other classes has grown. This fact is of supreme importance in appraising our whole situation.
Only a person who believes at the bottom of his heart that our working class and our party are not able to cope with the difficulties and dangers can affirm that a frank indication of these contradictions in our development, and of the growth of these hostile forces, is panic or pessimism. We do not accept this view. It is necessary to see the dangers clearly. We point them out accurately, precisely in order to struggle with them more effectively and to overcome them.
A certain growth of the hostile forces, the kulak, the Nepman, and the bureaucrat, is unavoidable under the New Economic Policy. You cannot destroy these forces by mere administrative order or by simple economic pressure. In introducing the NEP and carrying it through, we ourselves created a certain place for capitalistic relations in our country, and for a considerable time to come we still have to recognize them as inevitable. Lenin merely reminded us of a naked truth which the workers have to know, when he said:
While we continue to be a small peasant country, there is a more solid basis for capitalism in Russia than for communism. That we must remember ... We have not torn out capitalism by the roots, and we have not undermined the foundation and basis of the internal enemy.
The supremely important social fact here indicated by Lenin cannot, as we said, be simply destroyed, but we can overcome it by way of a correct, planned and systematic working-class policy, relying upon the peasant poor and an alliance with the middle peasant. This policy basically consists in an all.round strengthening of all the social positions of the proletariat, in the swiftest possible elevation of the commanding centres of socialism, in closest possible connexion with the preparation and development of the world proletarian revolution.
A correct Leninist policy also includes manoeuvring. In struggling against the forces of capitalism, Lenin often employed a method of partial concession in order to outflank the enemy, temporary retreat in order afterwards to move forward more successfully. Manoeuvring is also necessary now. But in dodging and manoeuvring against an enemy that could not be overthrown by direct attack, Lenin invariably remained upon the line of the proletarian revolution. Under him the party always knew the causes of each manoeuvre, its meaning, its limits, the line beyond which it ought not to go, and the position at which the proletarian advance should begin again. In those days, under Lenin, a retreat was called a retreat – a concession, a concession. Thanks to that, the manoeuvring proletarian army always preserved its unity, its fighting spirit, its clear consciousness of the goal.
In the recent period there has been a decisive departure on the part of leaders from these Leninist ways. The Stalin group is leading the party blindfold. Concealing the forces of the enemy, creating everywhere and in everything an official appearance of success, this group gives the proletariat no prospect – or, what is worse, a wrong prospect. It moves in zigzags, accommodating itself to and ingratiating itself with hostile elements. It weakens and confuses the forces of the proletarian army. It promotes the growth of passivity, distrust of the leadership and lack of confidence in the forces of the revolution. It disguises, with references to Leninist manoeuvring, an unprincipled jumping from one side to the other, always unexpected by the party, incomprehensible to it, weakening its strength. The only result is that the enemy, having gained time, moves forward. The “classical’ examples of this kind of manoeuvre on the part of Stalin, Bukharin and Rykov, are their Chinese policy and their policy with the Anglo-Russian Committee, on the international field, and within the country, their policy towards the kulak. On all these questions, the party and the working class found out the truth, or a part of the truth, only after the heavy consequences of a policy that was false to the bottom had crashed over their heads.
At the end of these two years in which the Stalin group has really determined the policies of the central institutions of our party, we may consider it fully proven that this group has been powerless to prevent:
- An immoderate growth of those forces which desire to turn the development of our country into capitalistic channels;
- a weakening of the position of the working class and the poorest peasants against the growing strength of the kulak, the Nepman, and the bureaucrat;
- a weakening of the general position of the workers’ state in the struggle with world capitalism, a worsening of the international position of the Soviet Union.
The direct guilt of the Stalin group is that instead of telling the party, the working class, and the peasants the whole truth about the situation, it has concealed the facts, minimised the growth of the hostile forces, and shut the mouths of those who demanded the truth and laid it bare.
The concentration of fire to the left, at a time when the whole situation indicates danger on the right, the crudely mechanical suppression of every criticism expressing the legitimate alarm of the proletariat for the fate of the proletarian revolution, the outright connivance in every deviation to the right, the sapping of the influence of the proletarian and old-Bolshevik nucleus of the party – all these things are weakening and disarming the working class at a moment which demands above all activity of the proletariat, vigilance and unity of the party, faithfulness to its real inheritance of Leninism.
The party leaders distort Lenin, improve upon him, explain him, supplement him, according as it is necessary to conceal each successive mistake that they make. Since Lenin’s death a whole series of new theories has been invented, whose meaning is solely this: that they give theoretical justification to the departure of the Stalin group from the course of the international proletarian revolution. The Mensheviks, the Smienaviekhovtsy and finally the capitalistic press see and welcome in the policies and new theories of Stalin-Bukharin-Martynov a movement “forward from Lenin” (Ustrialov), “statesmanlike wisdom”, “realism”, a renunciation of the “utopias” of revolutionary Bolshevism. In the cutting off from party leadership of a number of Bolsheviks – Lenin’s comrades in arms – they see and openly welcome a practical step towards changing the fundamental course of the party.
Meanwhile the elemental processes of the NEP, not restrained and directed by a firm class policy, are preparing further dangers of the same kind.
Twenty-five million small farms constitute the fundamental source of the capitalist tendencies in Russia. The kulak stratum, gradually emerging from this mass, is realizing the process of primitive accumulation of capital, digging a deep mine under the socialist position. The further destiny of this process depends ultimately upon the relation between the growth of the State economy and the private. The falling behind of our industry vastly increases the tempo of class-differentiation among the peasants and the political dangers arising from it.
In the history of other countries the kulaks have more than once restored the power to landlords, Tsars, priests and capitalists. It has been so in all previous European revolutions, where, in consequence of the weakness of the workers, the kulaks have succeeded in reverting from a republic to monarchy, from the rulership of the toiling masses to the omnipotence of the exploiters, the rich, the parasites.
You can reconcile the kulak with the landlord, the Tsar, and the priest easily enough, even though they’ve had a quarrel, but with the working class, never.
Whoever fails to understand this, whoever believes in “the kulak’s growing into socialism’, is good for just one thing – to run the revolution aground.
There exist in this country two mutually exclusive fundamental positions. One, the position of the proletariat building socialism, the other, the position of the bourgeoisie aspiring to switch our development on to capitalist lines.
The camp of the bourgeoisie and those layers of the petty bourgeoisie who trail after it are placing all their hopes upon the private initiative and the personal interest of the commodity producer. This camp is staking its play on the “economically strong’ peasant, aiming to make the co-operatives, industry and our foreign trade serve this peasant’s interest. This camp believes that socialist industry ought not to count upon the state budget, that its development ought not to be rapid enough to injure the interest of accumulation by the farmer capitalist. The struggle for an increased productivity of labour means to the daily consolidating petty bourgeois putting pressure on the muscles and nerves of the workers. The struggle for lower prices means to him a cutting down of the accumulation of the socialist industries in the interest of commercial capital. The struggle with bureaucratism means to him the dissipation of industry, the weakening of the planning centres. It means the pushing into the background of the heavy industries – that is, again, an adjustment in favour of the economically strong peasant, with the near prospect of an abandonment of the monopoly of foreign trade. This is the course of the Ustrialovs. The name of this course is capitalism on the instalment plan. It is a strong tendency in our country, and exercises an influence upon certain circles of our party.
The proletarian course was described by Lenin in the follow-words:
We can consider the victory of socialism over capitalism, and its permanence, guaranteed, only when the proletarian state power, having conclusively suppressed the resistance of the exploiters and assured itself of their complete subjection and its own complete stability and authority, reorganizes the whole of industry on the basis of large-scale collective production and the latest technique (based on electrification of the entire economy). Only this will make possible such a far-reaching technical and social assistance rendered by the cities to the backward and undifferentiated country as will create the material basis for an immense increase of the productiveness of agricultural and rural labour, impelling the small peasants, by the strength of example and their own interest, to pass over to large-scale, collective, mechanized agriculture.
The whole policy of our party ought to be built up upon this principle – budget, taxes, industry, agriculture, domestic and foreign trade, everything. That is the fundamental stand of the Opposition. That’s the road to socialism.
Between those two positions – every day drawing nearer to the first – the Stalinists are tracing a line consisting of short zigzags to the left and deep ones to the right. The Leninist course is a socialist development of the productive forces in course is a development of the productive forces on a capitalist continual struggle with the capitalist element. The Ustrialov course is a development of the productive forces on a capitalist basis by way of a gradual eating away of the conquests of October. The Stalin course leads, in objective reality, to a delaying of the development of the productive forces, to a lowering of the relative weight of the socialist element, and thus prepares for the final victory of the Ustrialov course. The Stalin course is the more dangerous and ruinous, in that it conceals a real deviation under the mask of familiar words and phrases. The completion of our restoration process has brought forward the whole fundamental question of our economic development and thus has undermined the position of Stalin, which is completely inadequate to meet great problems – whether the revolution in China or the reconstruction of basic capital in the Soviet Union.
Notwithstanding the tension of the situation, heightened in the extreme by the crude mistakes of the present leadership, matters can be put right. But it is necessary to change the line of the party leadership, and change it sharply, in the direction indicated by Lenin.
Chapter 2. The Situation of the Working Class and the Trade Unions[edit source]
THE October Revolution, for the first time in history, transformed the proletariat into the ruling class of an immense state. Our nationalization of the means of production was a decisive step toward the socialist reconstruction of that whole social system which is founded upon the exploitation of man by man. Our introduction of the eight hour day was the first step towards a complete and all-sided change in the material and cultural conditions of existence of the working-class. In spite of the poverty of the country, our labour laws established for the workers – even the most backward who were deprived in the past of any group defence – legal guarantees such as the richest capitalist state never gave, and never will give. The trade unions, raised to the status of the most important social weapons in the hands of the ruling class, were given the opportunity, on the one hand, to organize masses completely inaccessible in other circumstances, and on the other, directly to influence the whole political course of the workers’ state.
The problem of the party is to guarantee the further development of these supreme historical conquests – that is the filling of them with a genuinely socialist content. Our success upon this road will be determined by objective conditions, domestic and international, and also by the correctness of our line and the practical skill of our leadership.
The decisive factor in appraising the movement of our country forward along the road of socialist reconstruction, must be the growth of our productive forces and the dominance of the socialist elements over the capitalist – together with an improvement of all the conditions of existence of the working class. This improvement ought to be evident in the material sphere (number of workers employed in industry, level of real wages, character of the workers’ budget, housing conditions, medical aid, etc.), in the political sphere (party, trade unions, soviets, communist youth organizations), and finally in the cultural sphere (schools, books, newspapers, theatres). The striving to push the vital interests of the worker into the background and, under the contemptuous epithet of “workshop narrowness, to contrast them with the general historic interest of the working class, is theoretically wrong and politically dangerous.
The appropriation of surplus value by a workers’ state is not, of course, exploitation. But in the first place, we have a workers’ state with bureaucratic distortions. The swollen and privileged administrative apparatus devours a very considerable part of our surplus value. In the second place, the growing bourgeoisie, by means of trade and gambling on the abnormal disparity of prices, appropriates a part of the surplus value created by our state industry.
In general during this period of restoration, the numbers of the workers and the conditions of their existence have risen, not only absolutely but also relatively – that is, in comparison with the growth of other classes. However, in the recent period there has occurred a sharp change. The numerical growth of the working class and the improvement of its situation has almost stopped, while the growth of its enemies continues, and continues at an accelerated pace. This inevitably leads, not only to a worsening of the condition of the workers at factory level, but to a lowering of the relative weight of the proletariat in Soviet society.
The Mensheviks, agents of the bourgeoisie among the workers, point maliciously to the material wretchedness of our workers. They are trying to rouse the proletariat against the Soviet state, to induce our workers to accept the bourgeois Menshevik slogan, “Back to capitalism”. The self-satisfied official who sees “Menshevism” in the Opposition’s insistence upon improving the material condition of the workers is performing the best possible service to Menshevism. He is driving the workers under its yellow banner.
In order to conquer difficulties, it is necessary to know them. It is necessary justly and honestly to test our success and failure by the actual condition of the toiling masses.
The Condition of the Workers[edit source]
Our period of restoration gave a sufficiently rapid increase of wages up to the autumn of 1925. But the considerable decrease of real wages which began in 1926 was overcome only at the beginning of 1927. Monthly wages in the first two quarters of the fiscal year 1926-1927 amounted on the average in large-scale industry,in Moscow rubles, to 30 rubles 67 kopeks, and 30 rubles 33 kopeks – as against 29 rubles 68 kopeks in the autumn of 1925. In the third quarter – according to preliminary calculations – the wages amounted to 31 rubles 62 kopeks. Thus real wages for the present year have stood still, approximately at the level of the autumn of 1925.
Of course the wages and the general material level of particular categories of workers, and particular regions – above all, Moscow and Leningrad – are undoubtedly higher than this average level. But on the other hand, the material level of other very broad working-class strata is considerably below these average figures.
Moreover, all the data testify that the growth of wages is lagging behind the growth of the productivity of labour. The intensity of labour increases – the bad conditions of labour remain the same.
The raising of wages is being more and more conditioned upon a demand for an increased intensity of labour. This new tendency, inconsistent with a socialist course of development. was reinforced by the Central Committee in its famous resolution on rationalization. The Fourth Congress of the Soviets adopted this same resolution. Such a policy would mean that the increase of social wealth due to a developing technique (increased productivity of labour) does not in itself lead to an increase of wages.
The small numerical growth of the workers means a lowering of the number of working members in each family. In real rubles, the expense-budget of the worker’s family has decreased since 1924-1925. The increase in the cost of living-quarters has compelled the worker to rent out a part of his space. The unemployed, directly or indirectly, burden the budget of the worker. The swiftly growing consumption of alcoholic liquors burdens his budget. In the sum total we have an obvious lowering of his standard of life. The rationalization of production now being introduced will inevitably lower still more the condition of the working class, unless it is accompanied by an expansion of industry and transport sufficient to take in the discharged workers. In practice, “rationalization” often comes down to “throwing out” some workers and lowering the material conditions of others. This inevitably fills the mass of the workers with a distrust of rationalization itself,
When the conditions of labour are lowered, it is always the weakest group who suffer the most: unskilled workers, seasonal workers, women, and adolescents.
In 1926 there was an obvious lowering of the wages of women as compared with those of men, in almost all branches of industry. Among the unskilled in three different branches of industry, the earnings of women in March 1926 were 51.8 per cent, 61.7 per cent, and 83 per cent, of the earnings of men. Necessary measures have not been taken for improving the conditions of women’s work in such branches as the peat industry, loading and unloading, etc. The average earnings of adolescents, in comparison with the earnings of all the workers, are steadily declining. In 1923 they were 47.1 per cent, in 1924 45 per cent, in 1925 43.4 per cent, in 1926 40.5 per cent, in 1927 39.5 per cent.
In March 1925 49.5 per cent of the adolescents received less than 20 rubles. The abolition of the regulation providing for the employment of a certain number of adolescents to every given number of workers in an industrial establishment has been a heavy blow to the working youth and to the worker’s family. The number of unemployed adolescents is greatly increasing.
Farm Labour[edit source]
Of the approximately three and a half million wage-workers in the country, one million 600 thousand are farmhands, men and women. Only 20 per cent of these farmhands are organized in unions. The registration of wage-contracts, often so bad as to mean practical slavery, is barely beginning. The wages of farmhands are customarily below the legal minimum – and this often even on the State farms. Real wages on the average are not over 63 per cent of the pre-war level. The working day is rarely less than ten hours. In the majority of cases it is, as a matter of fact, unlimited. Wages are irregularly paid, and paid after intolerable delays. This miserable situation of the hired labourer is not only a result of the difficulties of socialist construction in a backward, peasant country. It is also, and indubitably, a result of the false course which in practice – in the reality of life – gives predominant attention to the upper levels and not the lower levels of the village. We must have an all-sided, systematic defence of the hired labourer, not only against the kulak, but also against the so-called economically strong middle peasant.
The Housing Question[edit source]
The normal dwelling-space for the workers is, as a rule, considerably smaller than the average space for the whole urban population. The workers of the great industrial cities are in this respect the least favoured part of the population. The distribution of dwelling-space according to social groups, in a series of investigated cities, was as follows:
Per industrial worker, 5.6 square metres; per clerical worker. 6.9; per handicraftsman, 7.6; per professional, 10.9; and for the non-working element, 7.1. The workers occupy the last place. Moreover, the dimension of the workers’ living-space is narrowing from year to year; that of the non-proletarian elements is widening. The general situation in the matter of dwelling-house construction threatens the further development of industry. In spite of this fact, the five-year plan of the Commission on State Planning offers a prospect in dwelling-house construction according to which the housing situation at the end of five years will be worse than it is now. This, according to the admission of the Commission itself. From 11.3 square arshins at the end of 1926, the average norm will be lowered by the end of 1931, according to the five-year plan, to 10.6.
The slow growth of industrialization nowhere reveals itself so morbidly as in the unemployment which has attacked the fundamental ranks of the industrial proletariat. The official number of registered unemployed in April 1927 was l,478,000. The actual number of unemployed is about two million. The number of unemployed is growing incomparably faster than the total number of employed workers. The number of industrial workers is growing incomparably faster than the total number of employed workers. The number of industrial workers unemployed is growing rapidly. According to the five-year plan of the State Planning Commission, our industries will absorb during the whole five years a little more than 400,000 steadily employed workers. This means, with the continual influx of workers from the country, that the number of unemployed by the end of 1931 will have grown to no less than three million men and women. The consequence of that state of affairs will be a growth of the number of homeless children, beggars and prostitutes. The small unemployment insurance paid to those out of work is causing justifiable resentment. The average benefit is 11.9 rubles – that is, about 5 pre-war rubles. The trade union benefits average 6.5 to 7 rubles. And these benefits are paid, approximately, to only 20 per cent of the unemployed members of the union.
The Code of Labour Laws has undergone so many interpretations that these exceed by many times the number of articles in the Code. And they actually annul many of its.pro. Visions. Especially have the legal defences of temporary and seasonal workers been broken down.
The recent collective agreement campaign was characterized by an almost universal worsening of legal guarantees, and a downward pressure on standards and wage-scales. Giving the economic management the right to compulsory arbitration has reduced to nothing the collective agreement itself, changing it from a two-sided act of agreement to an administrative order.
The contributions by industry toward workmen’s compensation are wholly inadequate. In 1925-1926, according to the data of the People’s Commissariat of Labour, there were in large-scale enterprises 97.6 accidents resulting in disability, for every thousand workers. Every tenth worker is injured every year.
Recent years have been characterized by a sharp increase in labour disputes, most of them being settled by compulsory rather than by conciliatory measures.
The regime in the factories has deteriorated. The administrative organs are striving more and more to establish their unlimited authority. The hiring and discharge of workers is actually in the hands of the administration alone. Pre-revolutionary relations between foremen and workmen are frequently found.
The production conferences are gradually being reduced to nothing. The majority of the practical proposals adopted by the workers are never carried out. Among many of the workers a distaste for these production conferences is nourished by the fact that the improvements whjch they do succeed in introducing often result in a reduction in the number of workers. As a result the production conferences are scantily attended.
In the cultural sphere, it is necessary to emphasize the problem of the schools. It is becoming harder and harder for the worker to give his children even an elementary education, to say nothing of vocational training. In almost all the working. class districts there is a continually increasing shortage of schools. The fees demanded of parents for school supplies are practically destroying the freedom of education. The shortage of schools and the inadequate provision of kindergartens are driving a considerable number of the workers’ children into the streets.
The Trade Unions and the Workers[edit source]
That “conflict of interests on the question of conditions of labour in the factory” noted in a resolution of the Eleventh Congress of the party has grown very considerably of late years. Nevertheless, the entire recent party policy in relation to the trade union movement, and the practices of the trade union leaders, have had such an effect on the unions that, as the Fourteenth Congress confessed:
the trade unions often could not handle their work, showing one-sidedness, at times pushing into the background their principal and most important task – to defend the economic interests of the masses organized by them and to raise in every possible way their material and spiritual level.
The situation after the Fourteenth Congress did not become better, but worse. The bureaucratization of the trade unions took a further forward step.
In the staff of the elective executive organs of ten industrial unions, the percentage of workers from the bench and non-party militant workers is extremely small (12 to 13 per cent). The immense majority of the delegates to the trade union conferences are people entirely dissociated from industry. Never before have the trade unions and the working mass stood so far from the management of socialist industry as now. The self-activity of the mass of workers organized in the trade unions is being replaced by agreements between the secretary of the party group, the factory director, and the chairman of the factory committee (the “Triangle”). The attitude of the workers to the factory and shop committees is one of distrust. Attendance at the general meetings is low.
The dissatisfaction of the worker, finding no outlet in the trade union, is driven inwards. “We mustn’t be too active – if you want a bite of bread, don’t talk so much.” Such sayings are very common. In these circumstances, attempts on the part of the workers to better their situation by action outside the trade union organization inevitably become more frequent. This alone imperatively dictates a radical change in the present trade union regime.
The Most Important Practical Proposals[edit source]
A. In the Sphere of Material Conditions
(1) Strike at the root every inclination to lengthen the eight-hour day. Permit Overtime only when absolutely unavoidable. Allow no abuses in the employment of occasional workers, no treating of full-time workers as “seasonal”. Annul every lengthening of the work-day in unhealthy trades where it has been introduced in violation of earlier rules.
(2) The most immediate task is the raising of wages at least to correspond to the achieved increase in the productivity of labour. The future course should be a systematic elevation of real wages to correspond to every growth in the productivity of labour. It Fs necessary to achieve an increasing equalization in the wages of different groups of workers, by way of a systematic raising of the lower-paid groups; in no case by a lowering of the higher-paid.
(3) We must stop all bureaucratic abuse of rationalization measures. Rationalization ought to be closely bound up with a consistent development of industry, with a planned distribution of labour power, and with a struggle against waste of the productive forces of the working class – particularly dissipation of the cadre of skilled workers.
(4) To relieve the evil effects of unemployment:
- Unemployment benefits must be adjusted in accordance with the average wage in a given locality.
- In view of the duration of unemployment, the benefit period must be extended from one year to one and a half.
- No further reduction in the contributions from industry for social insurance must be tolerated, and a real fight must be waged against the actual non-payment of them.
- The spending of insurance funds upon measures of general public health and sanitation must be stopped.
- We must energetically combat the disposition to make “economies on the insured”.
- We must annul all regulations that under various pretences deprive really unemployed workers of their right to benefits and to registration at the employment bureauu.
- The course must be towards an increase of the benefits of the unemployed, beginning with the industrial workers.
We must have broadly conceived and carefully worked-out plans for long-term public works upon which the unemployed can be used with the greatest advantage to the economic and cultural growth of the country.
(5) A systematic improvement of housing conditions for the workers. Firm carrying out of a class policy in all housing questions. No betterment of the housing conditions of non-proletarian elements at the expense of the workers. No eviction of discharged workers and workers on short time.
Energetic measures must be taken for the healthier development of the housing co-operatives. They must be made accessible to the lower-paid workers. The upper stratum of clerical workers must not be permitted to grab the apartments intended for industrial workers.
The housing plan of the State Planning Commission must be rejected as flatly opposed to a socialist policy. Business enterprises must be obliged to increase their housing expenditures and their budget allotments and credits for this purpose sufficiently so that the next five years will see a definite improvement in workmen’s homes.
(6) Collective agreements should be made after real and not fictitious discussion at workers’ meetings. The coming party congress would annul the decision of the Fourteenth Congress. giving factory managements the right to compulsory arbitration. The Labour Code must be looked upon as the minimum and not the maximum of what labour has a right to demand. Collective agreements must Contain guarantees against cutting down the number of workers and clerks throughout the duration of the agreements (permissible exceptions to be expressly provided for). Standards of production must be calculated on the basis of the average, not the exceptional worker and for the whole duration of the wage contract. In any case, all changes in the collective agreements which lower the conditions of the workers in comparison with previous agreements should be declared impermissible.
(7) The Bureau of Wages and Standards must be brought under more effective control by the workers and the trade unions, and the constant changing of wages and standards of work must be stopped.
(8) Appropriations for safety appliances and better factory conditions must be increased. Greater penalties must be imposed for failure to carry Out regulations for the protection of labour.
(9) All interpretations of the Labour Code must be reexamined and those which resulted in a lowering of the conditions of labour annulled.
(10) For the women workers, “equal pay for equal work”. Raising of the skill of female labour.
(11) Unpaid apprentice work shall be forbidden. Likewise the attempt to reduce the wages of adolescents. Measures must be taken to improve the conditions of their work.
(12) The regime of economy must in no case be carried out at the expense of the standard of living of the worker. We must restore to the workers the “trifles” which have been taken away from them (day nurseries, tram tickets, longer holidays, etc.)
(13) The trade unions must pay increased attention to the problems of seasonal workers.
(14) Medical aid for the worker in the factory must be increased (dispensaries, first aid departments, hospitals, etc.)
(15) In working-class districts the number of schools for workers’ children must be increased.
(16) A series of state measures must be adopted to strengthen the workers’ co-operatives.
B. In the Trade Unions
(1) The work of the trade unions should be judged primarily by the degree in which it defends the economic and cultural interests of the workers, within the existing economic limitations.
(2) The party organizations, in deciding about measures touching the economic and cultural interests of the working mass, must take into serious consideration the findings of the Communist fractions in the trade unions.
(3) Real elections, publicity, accountability and responsibility to the membership at all levels must be the foundation of the trade union work.
(4) All the administrative organs in industry should be formed in real and not fictitious agreement with the corresponding trade union organs.
(5) At every trade union congress (including the All-Union congress) and in all the elective organs of the trade unions (including the All-Russian Council of Trade Unions), there must be a majority of workers directly engaged in industry. The percentage of non-party workers in these organs must be raised to at least one-third.
At regular intervals, a certain number of the officials of the trade union apparatus must be returned to industrial work.
More utilization of voluntary work in trade union activities, a broader application of the principle of voluntary work, nThre encouragement to the workers in the factories to engage in it.
(6) The removal of elected Communist members of trade union bodies because of inner-party disagreements shall not be permitted.
(7) The absolute independence of the shop committees and local trade union committees from the organs of management must be guaranteed. The employment and discharge of workers and the transfer of workers from one kind of work to another, for periods exceeding two weeks – all this must be carried out only after the factory committee has been informed. The factory committee, in struggling against abuses in this sphere, shall employ its right of appeal from the decisions of the management to the corresponding trade union and to the grievance commissions.
(8) Definite rights must be guaranteed to workers’ press correspondents, and those who persecute the correspondents for making exposures must be strictly punished.
An article should be introduced into the Criminal Code punishing as a serious crime against the state every direct or indirect, overt or concealed persecution of a worker for criticizing, for making independent proposals, and for voting.
(9) The functions of the control commissions of the production councils must be extended to include supervising the execution of their decisions and investigating their success in protecting the workers’ interests.
(10) On the question of strikes in the state industries the decision of the Eleventh Party Congress, proposed by Lenin, remains in force.
As regards strikes in the concession industries, the latter shall be regarded as private industries.
(11) A re-examination of the whole system of labour statistics, which in its present form gives a false and obviously coloured view of the economic and cultural situation of the working class, and thus greatly hinders any work in defence of its economic and cultural interests.
The hard situation of the working class on the Tenth Anniversary of the October Revolution, is of course explained in the last analysis by the poverty of the country, the results of intervention and blockade, the unceasing struggle of the capitalist environment against the first proletarian state. That situation cannot be changed at a single blow. But it can and must be changed by a correct policy. The task of Bolsheviks is not to boast and draw complacent pictures of their achievements – which of course are very real – but to raise firmly and clearly the question of what remains to be done, of what must be done, and what can be done with a correct policy.
Chapter 3. The Agrarian Question and Socialist Construction[edit source]
Small production gives birth to capitalism and the bourgeoisie constantly, daily, hourly, elementally, and on a vast scale.
EITHER the proletarian state, relying upon the high development and electrification of industry, will be able to overcome the technical backwardness of millions of small and very small farms organizing them on the basis of large units and collectivism, or capitalism, recruiting its strength in the country, will undermine the foundations of socialism in the towns.
From the point of view of Leninism, the peasantry – that is, the fundamental peasant mass which does not exploit labour – is that ally upon correct relations with whom depends the security of the proletarian dictatorship, and so the fate of the socialist revolution. For the stage we are living through, Lenin most accurately formulated our task with regard to the peasants in the following words:
To succeed in achieving an alliance with the middle peasants – without for one minute renouncing the struggle against the kulak. and always firmly relying only on the poor peasant.
The revision of Lenin on the peasant question being carried through by the Stalin-Bukharin group may be summed up in the following eight principal points:
- Abandonment of the fundamental principle of Marxism, that only a powerful socialized industry can help the peasants transform agriculture along collectivist lines.
- Underestimation of hired labour and the peasant poor as the social basis of the proletarian dictatorship in the country districts.
- Basing our hopes in agriculture upon the so-called “economically strong” peasant, i.e., in reality on the kulak.
- Ignoring or directly denying the petty-bourgeois character of peasant property and peasant economy – a departure from the Marxian position towards the theories of the Socialist Revolutionaries.
- Underestimation of the capitalist elements in the present development of the countryside, and hushing up of the class differentiations that are taking place among the peasants.
- The creation of soothing theories to the effect that “the kulak and kulak organizations will have no chance anyway, because the general framework of evolution in our country is predetermined by the structure of the proletarian dictatorship.”
- Belief in the “grafting into our system of kulak cooperative nuclei”. “The problem may be expressed thus, that it is necessary to set free the economic possibilities of the well-oft peasant, the economic possibilities of the kulak.”
- The attempt to counterpoise Lenin’s “co-operative plan” to his plan of electrification. According to Lenin himself, only these two plans in combination can guarantee the transition to socialism.
Relying on these revisionist tendencies of the official course, the representatives of the new bourgeoisie having got into association with certain links of our state apparatus, are openly aspiring to switch our whole policy in the countryside on to the capitalist path. At the same time, the kulaks and their ideological defenders hide all their ambitions under a pretence of worrying about the development the productive forces, about increasing the volume of commodity production “in general”, etc. As a matter of fact, a kulak development on the productive forces, a kulak increase of commodity production, represses and checks the development of the productive forces of the entire remaining mass of the peasant farms.
In spite of the comparatively swift reconstruction process in agriculture, the commodity production of peasant economy is very low. In 1925-1926, the total volume of goods sent to the market was only 64 per cent of the pre-war level, the volume exported only 24 per cent of the export in 1913. The cause of this, aside from the increasing total consumption in the village itself, lies in the disparity between agricultural and industrial prices and in the rapid accumulation of foodstuffs by the kulaks. Even the five-year plan is compelled to recognize that “the lack of industrial products in general places a definite limit to the equivalent exchange of goods between town and country, lowering the possible volume of agricultural products brought to the market”. Thus the lagging of industry retards the growth of agriculture and in particular the growth of agricultural commodity production. It undermines the alliance of town and country and leads to a swift class differentiation among the peasants.
The views of the Opposition on disputed questions of peasant policy have been confirmed wholly and absolutely. The partial corrections introduced into our general line, under pressure of sharp criticism from the Opposition, have not checked the continuing deviation of the official policy to the side of the “economically strong peasant”. To prove this, it is sufficient to recall that the Fourteenth Congress of the Soviets, in the resolution on Kalinin’s, report, had not one single word to say about class differentiation in the countryside or the growth of the kulak.
There can be but one result of such a policy: we shall lose the poor peasants and fail to win the middle ones.
Class Differentiation Among The Peasants[edit source]
In recent years the rural districts have gone far in the direction of capitalist differentiation.
The groups which sowed little or no land have diminished during the last four years to 30 to 45 per cent. The group which sowed from six to ten dessiatines (17 to 28 acres) increased at the same time 100 to 120 per cent. The group sowing ten dessiatines and more increased 150 to 350 per cent. The diminishing percentage of groups which sowed little or no land is due very largely to their ruin and dissolution. Thus, in Siberia, during one year, 15.8 per cent of those sowing no land, and 3.8 per cent of those sowing less than two dessiatines, disappeared. In the Northern Caucasus, 14.1 per cent of those sowing no land disappeared, and 3.8 per cent of those sowing less than two dessiatines.
The advancement of horseless and toolless farm properties into the lower stratum of the middle peasantry is going on extremely slowly. At the present date there remain in the entire Union 30 to 40 per cent of horseless and toolless properties, and the bulk of these fall into the group of the peasants who sow very little land.
The distribution of the essential means of production in the Northern Caucasus is as follows: To 50 per cent of the weakest proprietors, belong 15 per cent of the means of production. To the middle group, constituting 35 per cent of the proprietors, belong 35 per cent of the essential means of production. And to the highest group, constituting 15 per cent of the proprietors, belong 50 per cent of the means of production. The same picture of the distribution of the means of production is to be observed in other regions (Siberia, the Ukraine, etc.).
This record of inequality in the distribution of land sown and of means of production is confirmed by an unequal distribution of the reserves of grain among the different groups of peasant proprietors. On April 1, 1926, 58 per cent of all the surplus grain in the country was in the hands of 6 per cent of the peasant proprietors.
The renting of land assumes larger and larger proportions every year. The renting proprietors are, in the majority of cases, the peasants who sow a lot of land and who own means of production. In the immense majority of cases, the fact that the land is rented is concealed in order to avoid payment of tax. The peasants who sow little land, lacking tools and animals, work the land for the most part with hired tools and hired animals. The conditions both of renting land and of hiring tools and animals amount almost to slavery. Side by side with extortion in kind, money usury is growing.
The continuous splitting up of peasant properties does not weaken but strengthens the process of class differentiation. The machines and credits, instead of serving as levers for the socialization of agriculture, generally fall into the hands of the kulaks and the well-off and thus help in the exploitation of the farm hands, the poor peasants, and the weaker middle peasants.
Besides this concentration of land and means of production in the hands of the highest groups, the latter are employing hired labour to a steadily increasing degree.
On the other hand, the lower and, in part, the middle group of peasant proprietors are losing, either by way of complete ruin and dissolution, or by way of the pushing out of individual members of the family, a continually increasing number of farm-hands. These surplus hands fall into servitude to the kulak or to the “strong ”middle peasant, or go away to the towns, where, in considerable numbers, they find no employment whatever.
In spite of these processes, which have gone very far, and which lead to a reduction in the relative economic weight of the middle peasant, the middle peasant continues to be numerically the largest agricultural group. To bring this middle peasant over to the side of a socialist policy in agriculture is one of the chief problems of the proletarian dictatorship. Basing our hope on the so-called “strong peasant ”means, in reality, basing it on the further disintegration of this middle layer.
Only a proper attention to the hired hand, only a course based on the poor peasant and his alliance with the middle peasant, only a decisive struggle against the kulak, only a course towards class co-operatives and a class credit system in the country, will make it possible to draw the middle peasant into the work for socialist reconstruction of agriculture.
Practical Proposals[edit source]
In the class struggle now going on in the country, the party must stand, not only in words but in deeds, at the head of the farm-hands, the poor peasants, and the basic mass of the middle peasants, and organize them against the exploiting aspirations of the kulak.
To strengthen and reinforce the class position of the agricultural proletariat-which is part of the working class – that series of measures is necessary which we indicated in the section on the condition of the industrial workers.
Agricultural credit must cease to be for the most part a privilege of the well-off circles of the village. We must put an end to the present situation, which permits the savings of the poor, insignificant enough already, to be spent, not for their intended purpose, in the service of the well-off and middle groups.
The growth of land-renting must be offset by a more rapid development of collective farming. It is necessary systematically and from year to year to subsidize largely the efforts of the poor peasants to organize in collectives.
At the same time, we must give more systematic help to poor peasants not included in the collectives, by freeing them entirely from taxation, by a corresponding land policy, by credits for agricultural implements, and by bringing them into the agricultural co-operatives. Instead of the slogan, “Create non-party peasant-active cadres by revivifying the soviets” (Stalin-Molotov), a slogan deprived of all class content and which will in reality strengthen the dominant role of the upper levels in the villages, we must adopt the following slogan: Create non-party cadres composed of hired hands, poor peasants, and middle peasants who are close to them.
We must have a real, planned, universal, and durable organization of the poor, centred upon vital political and economic problems of life, such as elections, tax campaigns, influence upon the distribution of credit, machines, etc., land division and land utilization, the creation of co-operatives, realization of the cooperative funds allotted to the village poor.
The party ought to promote by all means the economic advancement of the middle peasant – by a wise policy of prices for grain, by the organization of credits and co-operatives accessible to him, by the systematic and gradual introduction of that most numerous peasant group to the benefits of large-scale, mechanical-collective agriculture.
The task of the party in relation to the growing kulak stratum ought to consist in the all-sided limitation of their efforts at exploitation. We must permit no departures from that article in our constitution depriving the exploiting class of electoral rights in the soviets. The following measures are necessary: A steeply progressive tax system; legislative measures for the defence of hired labour and the regulation of the wages of agricultural workers; a correct class policy in the matter of land division and utilization; the same thing in the matter of supplying the country with tractors and other implements of production.
The growing system of land rental in the country, the existing method of land-utilization, according to which land com. munities – standing outside of all Soviet leadership and control and falling more and more under the influence of the kulak – dispose of the land, the resolution adopted by the Fourteenth Congress of the Soviets for “indemnification” at the time of land redistribution – all this is undermining the foundations of the nationalization of the land.
One of the most essential measures for re-enforcing the nationalization of the land is the subordination of these land communities to the local organs of the state and the establishment of firm control by the local soviets, purified of kulak elements, over the regulations of all questions of the division and utilization of the land. The purpose of this control should be a maximum defence of the interests of the poor and the weak small peasants against domination by the kulaks. It is necessary in particular that the kulak, as a renter of land, should be wholly and absolutely, and not only in words but in fact, subject to supervision and control by the organs of the Soviet power in the countryside.
The party ought to oppose a shattering resistance to all tendencies directed towards annulling or undermining the nationalization of the land – one of the foundation pillars qf the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The existing system of a single agricultural tax ought to be changed in the direction of freeing altogether from taxation 40 to 50 per cent of the poorest and poorer peasant families, without making up for it by any additional tax upon the bulk of the middle peasants. The dates of tax collection should be accommodated to the interests of the lower groups of taxpayers.
A much larger sum ought to be appropriated for the creation of state and collective farms. Maximum privileges must be accorded to the newly organized collective farms and other forms of collectivism. People deprived of electoral rights must not be allowed to be members of the collective farms. The whole work of the co-operatives ought to be permeated with a sense of the task of transforming a small-scale production into large-scale collective production. A firm class policy must be pursued in the sphere of machine supply and a special struggle waged against the fake machine societies.
The work of land distribution must be carried on wholly at the expense of the state, and the first thing to be taken care of must be the collective farms and the poor peasant farms, with a maximum protection of their interests.
The prices of grain and other agricultural products ought to guarantee to the poor and the basic mass of the middle peasants the possibility, at the very least, of maintaining their farms at the present level and gradually improving them. Measures should be taken to abolish the parity between autumn and spring grain prices. For this disparity counts heavily against the rural poor and gives all the advantage to the upper levels.
It is necessary not only to increase considerably the appropriation to the poor peasants ”fund, but also radically to change the whole direction of agricultural credit towards assuring to the poor and the weak middle peasant cheap and long-term credits, and towards abolishing the existing system of guarantees and references.
The task of socialist construction in the country is to reform agriculture on the basis of large-scale, mechanized, collective agriculture. For the bulk of the peasants the simplest road to this end is co-operation, as Lenin described it in his work On Co-operation. This is the enormous advantage which the proletarian dictatorship and the Soviet system as a whole gives to the peasant. Only a process of growing industrialization of agriculture can create the broad basis for this socialist cooperation (or collectivism). Without a technical revolution in the very means of production – that is to say, without agricultural machinery, without the rotation of crops, without artificial fertilizers, etc – no successful and broad work in the direction of a real collectivization of agriculture is possible.
Co-operative producing and selling will be a road to socialism only in the event that:
- this process takes place under the immediate economic and political influence of the socialist elements, especially of large-scale industry and the trade unions; and
- this process of making the trade functions of agriculture co-operative gradually leads to the collectivization of agriculture itself.
The class character of the agricultural co-operatives will be determined not only by the numerical weight of the different groups of the co-operating peasantry, but more particularly by their relative economic weight. The task of the party is to see that agricultural co-operation constitutes a real union of the poor and middle groups of the peasants, and is a weapon in the struggle of those elements against the growing economic power of the kulak. We must systematically and persistently bring the agricultural proletariat into the task of building the cooperatives.
A successful co-operative structure is conceivable only upon condition of a maximum activity by the co-operating population. A true union of the co-operatives with large-scale industry and the proletarian state assumes a normal regime in the co-operative organizations, excluding bureaucratic methods of regulation.
In view of the obvious departure of the party leadership from the fundamental Bolshevik course in the countryside, their tendency to rely upon the well-off peasant and the kulak; in view of the covering up of this policy by anti-proletarian speeches about “poor man’,sillusions”, “sponging”, and do-nothingism, and about the alleged small value of the poor peasant in the defence of the Soviet Union-in view of these things, it is more than ever necessary to remember the words of our party programme. While unequivocally asserting the decisive importance for us of alliance with the middle peasant, our programme clearly and succinctly states:
In all its work in the country, the Russian Communist Party relies as before upon the proletarian and semi-proletarian forces. It organizes them above all into independent forces, creating party cells in the villages, organizations of the poor, a special type of trade union for the proletarian and semi-proletarian rural elements, etc.; associating them by every possible means with the urban proletariat; and tearing them away from the influence of the rural bourgeoisie and the small-propertied interests.
Chapter 4. State Industry and the Building of Socialism[edit source]
The Tempo of the Development of Industry[edit source]
The only material basis for socialism can be large-scale machine industry, capable of reorganizing agriculture.
THE basic condition for a socialist development in the present preliminary stage and in the given historical situation – capitalist encirclement and a delay in the world revolution – is a rate of industrialization sufficiently rapid to guarantee, in the near future, a solution of at least the following problems:
(1) The material positions of the proletariat within the country must be strengthened both absolutely and relatively (growth in the number of employed workers, reduction of the number unemployed, improvement in the material level of the working class and, especially, raising of housing space per head to meet sanitary standards).
(2) The output of industry, transport and the power stations must grow at least at an equal pace with the growing demands and resources of the country as a whole.
(3) Agriculture must find it possible to pass over, by degrees, to a higher technical basis, and guarantee to industry an expanding supply of raw material.
(4) In the matter of developing the productive forces, in the matter of technique, and in the matter of improving the material conditions of the working class and the toiling masses, the Soviet Union must not fall further behind the capitalist countries, but in the near future must overtake them.
(5) Industrialization must be sufficient to guarantee the defence of the country and in particular an adequate growth of the war industries.
(6) The socialist state and co-operative elements must increase systematically, crowding out some and subordinating and transforming others of the pre-socialist economic elements (capitalist and pre-capitalist).
In spite of our considerable successes in the sphere of industry, electrification, and transport, industrialization is far from having attained that development which is necessary and possible. The present tempo of industrialization and the tempo indicated for the coming years are obviously inadequate.
There is not, and of course cannot be, a policy which would permit us to solve all our difficulties at a stroke, or leap over a prolonged period of systematic promotion of our economy and culture. But our very backwardness in economy and means, a rational and timely mobilization of all our reserves, a correct utilization of the country. The chronic lagging of industry, and also of transport, electrification and building, behind the demands and needs of the population, of public economy and the social system as, a whole, holds as in a vice the entire economic turnover of the country. It narrows the realization of the marketable part of agricultural production and its export. It confines imports within extremely narrow limits, drives prices and costs of production upward, causes the instability of the chervonetz, and retards the development of the productive forces. It delays all improvement of the material condition of the proletariat and the peasant masses, produces an alarming growth of unemployment and a deterioration of housing conditions. It undermines the link between industry and agriculture and weakens the capacity of the country for self-defence.
The inadequate tempo of industrial development leads in turn to a retardation of the growth of agriculture. At the same time, no industrialization is possible without a decisive increase of the productive forces of agriculture and its production for the market.
The necessary acceleration of industrialization is impossible without a systematic and determined lowering of the costs of production and of wholesale and retail prices of industrial goods, and their approximation to world prices. In that lies real progress, both in the sense of advancing our production to a higher technical basis and in the sense of better satisfying the demands of the toiling masses.
It is time to put an end to the meaningless and indecent hullabaloo to the effect that the Opposition wants to raise prices. The party is absolutely unanimous in the desire to lower prices. But the desire alone is not enough. Policies should be judged not by intention, but by result. The results of the present struggle to lower prices have more than once comlelled even important members of the leadership to raise the question:
“Aren’t we losing by this policy some large sums of money?” “Where did the milliard go?” Bukharin was inquiring in January of this year. “What becomes of the difference between wholesale and retail prices?" asked Rudzutak, speaking after him on the same theme. With the chronic lack of goods, the sweeping and clumsy bureaucratic lowering of wholesale prices, since it does not in the majority of cases reach down to the worker and the peasant, entails a loss to state industry of hundreds of millions of roubles. The resulting disparity between wholesale and retail prices, especially in the hands of the private trader, is so monstrous that it fully admits – were a correct policy followed – to the possibility of retaining a part of this trade profit in the hands of state industry. The irrefutable conclusion from the whole economic experience of the last few years is the need for a most rapid overcoming of disproportions, an increase of the mass of industrial commodities, an acceleration of the rate of development of industry. That is the main road to a real lowering of wholesale and retail prices and above all to a lowering of the cost of production, which has revealed during the last year an upward rather than a downward tendency.
The question of a five-year plan of development of the national economy, on the agenda of the coming Fifteenth Party Congress ought properly to occupy the centre of the party’s attention. The five-year plan is not yet officially adopted and will hardly be adopted in its present form. Nevertheless, it shows the fundamental outlook of the present economic leadership in its most systematized and finished aspect.
Capital investments in industry will hardly grow at all from year to year, according to this plan (1,142 million next year, 1,205 million in 1931). And in proportion to the total sum invested in the national economy, they will fall from 36.4 per cent to 27.8 per cent. The net investments in industry from the state budget according to this programme, will fall during the same years approximately from 200 million to 90 million. The annual increase in production is fixed at from 4 to 9 per cent each year over the year preceding – the rate of growth in capitalist countries during periods of rapid progress. The gigantic advantages involved in the nationalization of the land, the means of production and the banks, and centralized in management – that is, the advantage deriving from the socialist revolution – find almost no expression in the five-year plan.
The individual consumption of industrial goods, beggarly at the present time, is to grow during the five years only 12 per cent in all. The consumption of cotton fabrics in 1931, which is to be 97 per cent of the pre-war amount, will be one-fifth of that in the United States in 1923. The consumption of coal will be one-seventh of that in Germany in 1926, one-seventeenth of that in the United States in 1923. The consumption of pig iron will be something over one quarter of that in Germany, one-eleventh of that in the United States. The production of electric energy will be one-third of that in Germany, one-seventh of that in the United States. The consumption of paper at the end of the five years will be 83 per cent of the pre-war amount. All this, 15 years after October! To bring forward on the anniversary of the October Revolution such a parsimonious, thoroughly pessimistic plan really means that you are working against socialism. The lowering of retail prices by 17 per cent, as projected by the five-year plan, even if it is realized, will hardly have any effect upon the relation between our prices and world prices, which are two-and-a-half to three times as low as ours.
But even with this insignificant price-reduction (and that, too, as yet only a project), the five-year plan foresees a shortage of industrial goods in relation to the effective demand of the country to the extent of 400 million roubles a year. If one assumes that the present monstrous wholesale prices are to be lowered by 22 per cent in the course of five years – a more than modest reduction – that alone would result in a shortage of goods amounting to a whole milliard. The disproportion is thus preserved inviolate, a perpetual source of increase if retail prices. The five-year plan promises the peasants by 1931 approximately the pre-war amount of industrial goods at prices one-and-a-half times as high. To the worker in large-scale industry it promises an increase of 33 per cent in the nominal wage by the end of the five years, disregarding the ill-founded hope of a fall in prices. The disproportion between supply and demand is to be overcome, according to the scheme of the State Planning Commission, by raising the rent paid by the workers to 200 or 250 per cent of the present amount, approximately by 400 million roubles a year. Seeing that there is an excess of purchasing power in the well-to-do sections of the population, the officials of the Planning Commission are going to correct that situation by cutting down the real wages of the workers. It is hard to believe that such a method of restoring the equilibrium of the market is proposed by the responsible organs of a workers’ state. All this false prospect forcibly impels the consumer to seek a way out along the ruinous course of abolishing the monopoly of foreign trade.
The construction of 6,000 to 7,000 versts of new railways, indicated in the five-year plan – as against 14,000 constructed, for example, during the five years from 1895-1900 – means a dangerous shortage, not only from the point of view of socialist industrialization, but from that of the most elementary economic demands of the principal regions.
With deviations to this side or that, such is the real attitude of the state organs actually guiding the development of our economy. That is how the political line of our present leadership really looks.
The Soviet Union And International Capitalist Economy[edit source]
In the long struggle between two irreconcilably hostile social systems – capitalism and socialism – the outcome will be determined, in the last analysis by the relative productivity of labour under each system. And this, under market conditions, will be measured by the relation between our domestic prices and world prices. It was this fundamental fact that Lenin had in mind when in one of his last speeches he warned the party of the coming “‘test’ to be applied by the Russian market and the international market, to which we are subordinated, with which we are bound up, and from which we cannot break loose”. For that reason the idea of Bukharin that we can go along at any pace, even a “snail’s pace”, towards socialism, is mere petty-bourgeois trifling.
We cannot hide from the capitalist environment under cover of a nationally exclusive economy. Just because of its exclusiveness, such an economy would be compelled to advance at an extremely slow pace, and in consequence would meet, not a weakened, but a strengthened pressure, not only from the capitalist armies and fleets (“intervention”), but above all from cheap capitalist commodities.
The monopoly of foreign trade is a vitally necessary weapon for socialist construction, when the capitalist countries possess a higher technique. But the socialist economy now under construction can be defended by this monopoly only if it continually approaches the world economy in respect of technique, cost of production, quality and price of its products. The goal of the economic leadership ought to be, not a shut-in, self-sufficient economy, at the price of an inevitable lowering of its level and rate of advance, but just the opposite – an all-sided increase of our relative weight in world economy, to be achieved by increasing our tempo to the utmost.
For this it is necessary:
- To understand the gigantic significance of our export trade, now so dangerously lagging behind the development of our economy as a whole. (The participation of the Soviet Union in the world volume of commercial transactions has diminished from 4.2 per cent in 1913 to 0.97 per cent in 1926.)
- To change especially our policy toward the kulak, which makes it possible for him to undermine our socialist export by the usurious hoarding of produce.
- To develop our bonds with world economy from the angle of an all-sided speeding up of industrialization and strengthening of the socialist element, in contrast to the capitalist element, in our own economy; not to fritter away our limited accumulations in the near future, but gradually and with a deliberate plan to pass over to new forms of production which will assure us, in the first instance, a mass output of the most necessary and most available machines; skilfully and prudently to supplement and stimulate our own industry by systematically utilizing the achievements of world capitalist technique.
Resting our hope upon an isolated development of socialism and upon a rate of economic development independent of world economy distorts the whole outlook. It puts our planning leadership off the track, and offers no guiding threads for a correct regulation of our relations with world economy. We have no way of deciding what to manufacture ourselves and what to bring in from outside. A definite renunciation of the theory of an isolated socialist economy will mean, in the course of a few years, an incomparably more rational use of our resources, a swifter industrialization, a more planful and powerful growth of our own machine construction. It will mean a swifter increase in the number of employed workers and a real lowering of prices – in a word, a genuine strengthening of the Soviet Union in the capitalist environment.
Will not the growth of our bonds with world capitalism involve a danger in case of blockade and war? The answer to this question follows from everything that has been said above.
Preparations for war demand, of course, the creation of a reserve of the foreign raw materials necessary to us and a timely establishment of the new industries vitally necessary – as, for, instance, the production of aluminium, etc. But the most important thing in case of a prolonged and serious war is to have industry developed to the highest degree and capable both of mass production and of rapid switching from one kind of production to another. The recent past has shown how such a highly industrial country as Germany, bound up by a thousand threads with the world market, could display a gigantic vitality and power of resistance when war and blockade cut her off at one blow from the entire world.
If with the incomparable advantages of our social structure we can, during this “peaceful” period, utilize the world market in order to speed up our industrial development, we shall meet any blockade or intervention infinitely better prepared and better armed.
No domestic policy can of itself deliver us from the economic, political, and military danger of the capitalist encirclement. The domestic task is, by strengthening ourselves with a proper class policy, by proper relations of the working class with the peasantry to move forward as far as possible on the road of socialist construction. The internal resources of the Soviet Union are enormous and make this entirely possible. In using at the same time the world capitalist market for this same purpose, we bind up our fundamental historic calculations with the further development of the world proletarian revolution. Its victory in certain leading countries will break the ring of capitalist encirclement and deliver us from our heavy military burden. It will enormously strengthen us in the sphere of technique, accelerate our entire development in town and country, in factory and school. It will give us the possibility of really building socialism – that is, a class-free society, based upon the most advanced technique and upon the real equality of all its members in labour and enjoyment of the products of labour.
Where To Find The Means[edit source]
To the question of where to find the means for a bolder and more revolutionary solution of the problem of real industrialization, and a swifter elevation of the culture of the masses – the two problems upon whose solution depends the fate of the socialist dictatorship – the Opposition answers as follows:
The fundamental source is the redistribution of the national income by means of a correct use of budget, credit, and prices.
A supplementary source is a correct utilization of our connetions with world economy.
(1) According to the five-year plan, the budget, both state and local, will increase in five years from 6 to 8.9 billion roubles, and will amount in 1931 to 16 per cent of the national income. This will be a smaller share of the national income than the prewar Tsarist budget, which was 18 per cent. The budget of a workers’ state not only may but should occupy a larger place in the national income than a bourgeois budget. This assumes, of course, that it will be really socialistic, and along with increasing expenditures for popular education will allot incomparably larger sums to the industrialization of the country. The net appropriation from the budget to the needs of industrialization can and should reach 500 to 1,000 million a year in the course of the coming five years.
(2) The tax system is not keeping up with the growth of accumulation among the upper layers of the peasants and the new bourgeoisie in general. It is necessary:
- to tax all kinds of excess profits from private enterprises to the extent of not less than 150 to 200 million rubles, instead of five million as at present;
- in order to strengthen our export, to assure a collection from the well-off kulak levels, constituting approximately 10 per cent of the peasant establishment, of not less than 150 million poods of grain. This should be collected in the form of a loan from those stores of grain which reached in 1926-1927 the amount of 800 to 900 million poods, and were concentrated, for the most part, in the hands of these upper levels of the peasantry.
(3) It is necessary to put into effect a decisive policy of systematic and determined lowering of wholesale and retail prices and narrowing of the disparity between them. And this must be done in such a way that the lowering of prices affects above all objects of mass consumption among the workers and peasants. (It must be done without the adulteration of quality, low enough already, which is being practised now.) This lowering of prices should not deprive state industry of its necessary accumulations and should be carried out chiefly by way of an increase of the mass of goods, a lowering of the cost of production, a lessening of overhead charges and a cutting down of the bureaucratic apparatus. A more elastic price-lowering policy, more adapted to the conditions of the market, and more individualized – that is, taking into greater consideration the market position of each kind of goods – would retain in the hands of state industry enormous sums which now nourish private capital and commercial parasitism in general.
(4) The regime of economy, which was supposed, according to last year’s manifesto by Stalin and Rykov, to yield 300 to 400 million roubles a year, has given as a matter of fact completely insignificant results. A regime of economy is a question of class policy and can be realized only under direct pressure from the masses. The workers must dare to exercise this pressure. It is entirely possible to lower non-productive expenditure by 400 million roubles a year.
(5) A skilful use of such weapons as the monopoly of foreign trade, foreign credit, concessions, contracts providing for technical aid etc., can provide supplementary income. It will also and above all greatly increase the expediency of our own expenditure, fertilizing it with modern technique and accelerating the whole course of our development, and thus strengthening our real socialist independence of the capitalist environment.
(6) The question of choosing personnel – from top to bottom – and of the proper relations among them is, to some extent, a financial question. The worse the personnel, the more funds are needed. The bureaucratic regime counteracts good selection of personnel and correct relations.
(7) The “wisdom after the event” of our present economic leadership means in practice the loss of many tens of millions. That is the price we pay for lack of foresight, disharmony, niggardliness and lagging.
(8) Tax receipts alone cannot cover the continually growing demands of our national economy. Credit must become a more and more important lever in the distribution of the national income, along the lines of socialist construction, which assumes, above all, a stable currency and a healthy circulation of money.
(9) A firmer class policy in our economy, narrowing the limits of speculation and usury, would make it easier for the governmental and credit institutions to mobilize private savings. It would make possible an incomparably broader financing of industry by way of long-term credits.
(10) The government sale of vodka was originally introduced as an experiment, and with the idea that the bulk of the income from it should go towards industrialization, primarily for restoration of the metal industry. In reality industrialization has only lost through the state sale of vodka. It is necessary to acknowledge that the experiment has proved completely unsuccessful. Under the Soviet regime the state sale of vokda is at a disadvantage, not only from the standpoint of private economy – as under Tsarism – but also and chiefly from the standpoint of state economy. The increase of absenteeism, careless workmanship, waste, accidents, fires, fights, injuries, etc. – these things mount up to losses of hundreds of millions of roubles a year. State industry loses from vodka no less than the budget receives from vodka, and many times more than industry itself receives from the budget. The abolition of the state sale of vodka at the nearest possible date (two to three years) will automatically raise the material and spiritual resources of industrialization.
Such is the answer to the question where to find the means. It is not true that the slow pace of industrialization is directly due to the absence of resources. The means are scanty, but they exist. What is wanted is the right policy.
The five-year plan of the State Planning Commission should be categorically rejected and condemned as basically incompatible with the task of “transforming the Russia of the NEP into socialist Russia”. We must carry out in deeds a redistribution of the tax-burden among the classes – loading more heavily the kulak and the Nepman, relieving the workers and the poor.
We must reduce the relative importance of the indirect taxes. We must abolish in the near future the state sale of vodka.
We must put in order the finances of the railway transport service.
We must put in order the finances of industry.
We must restore to health neglected forestry, which can and must become the source of an immense income.
We must guarantee the unconditional stability of the currency unit. The stabilization of the Chervonetz demands a lowering of prices on the one hand, and a balanced budget on the other. The issuing of paper currency to cover a budget deficit must not be permitted.
We must have a strictly rationalized budget, without deficits, harsh, intolerant of everything superfluous or accidental.
In the budget of 1927-1928 we must considerably increase the appropriation for defence (primarily for the war industries), for industry in general, for electrification, for transport, for house-building, for measures leading to the collectivization of agriculture.
We must resist with determination all attempts to tamper with the monopoly of foreign trade.
We must steer a firm course towards industrialization, electrification and rationalization, based upon increasing the technical power of the economy and improving the material conditions of the masses.
Chapter 5. The Soviets[edit source]
THE bureaucratic apparatus of every bourgeois state, no matter what its form, elevates itself above the population, solidifying its rule by cultivating a mutual loyalty among the ruling class and systematically propagating among the masses fear of and subservience to the rulers. The October Revolution, replacing the old state machine by the workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ soviets, dealt the heaviest blow in history to the old idol of the bureaucratic state.
Our party programme says upon this question:
Waging the most bitter struggle against bureaucratism, the Russian Communist Party applies for the complete conquering of this evil the following measures: (1) The obligatory drawing of every member of a Soviet into some definite work in the administration of the state. (2) A continual rotation of these tasks so that every member is gradually familiarized with all branches of the administration. (3) The gradual attraction of the entire labouring population, to the last man, into the work of State administration. A full and all-sided carrying out of these measures – which are a further step along the road taken by the Paris Commune – means a simplification of the functions of administration, and together with a rise in the cultural level of the workers will lead to the abolition of the State power.
The question of Soviet bureaucratism is not only a question of red tape and swollen staffs. At bottom it is a question of the class role played by the bureaucracy, of its social ties and sympathies, of its power and privileged position, its relations to the Nepman and the unskilled worker, to the intellectual and the illiterate, to the wife of a Soviet grandee and the most ignorant peasant woman, etc., etc. Whose hand does the official grasp? That is the fundamental question which is daily being tested in life’s experience by millions of working people.
On the eve of the October Revolution, Lenin, referring to Marx’s analysis of the Paris Commune, strongly emphasized the idea that:
Under socialism officials will cease to be bureaucrats, to be “chinovniks”. They will cease in so far as we introduce not only the elective principle, but also the recall, the principle of payment on the average wage-level of the worker, and also the replacement of parliamentary institutions by working institutions – that is, by institutions which both pass laws and carry them into effect.
In what direction has the apparatus of the Soviet State been developing of late years? In the direction of simplification and lowering of costs? Of proletarianization? Drawing near to the toilers of the city and the village? Diminishing the gulf between the rulers and the ruled? How do things stand as to the introduction of greater equality in the conditions of life, in rights and obligations? Are we making progress in this sphere? It is quite obvious that you cannot give an affirmative answer to any single one of these questions.
It goes without saying, of course, that actual and full equality can be achieved only with the abolition of classes. In the epoch of the NEP, the task of equalization is hindered and delayed but it is not annulled. For us the NEP is not a road to capitalism but a road to socialism. Therefore the gradual drawing of the whole toiling population, to the last man, into the work of State administration, the systematic struggle for greater equality, remains under the NEP one of the most important tasks of the party. That struggle can be successful only on the basis of a growing industrialization of the country and an increase in the leading role of the proletariat in all branches of material and cultural construction. This struggle for greater equality does not exclude in the transition period, higher payment of skilled workers, increased remuneration for experts, of better payment of teachers than in bourgeois countries, etc.
It is necessary to be clearly aware that the army of officials has been growing in number these last years. It is consolidating itself, raising itself above the general population, and interweaving itself with the wealthier elements of town and country. The “instructions” of 1925, which gave electoral rights to numerous exploiting elements, were only one very clear expression of the fact that the bureaucratic apparatus, to its very top, has become responsive to the importunities of the wealthy, accumulating elements of the community. The annulment of these instructions which were, as a matter of fact, in violation of the Soviet constitution was a result of criticism from the Opposition. But the first election under the new instructions had already revealed, in a number of localities, the striving encouraged from above to reduce as much as possible the circle of those well-off groups who are disfranchized. The centre of the question, however, is no longer, there. With the continual relative growth of the new bourgeoisie and the kulaks, and their drawing together with the bureaucracy, with the incorrect policy of our leadership in general, the kulak and the Nepman, even when deprived of electoral rights, remain able to influence the composition and the policy of at least the lower Soviet organs, although remaining behind the scenes.
The penetration of the Soviets by the lower kulak and “semi-kulak” elements and the town bourgeoisie, which began in 1925 and was partially stopped by the attacks of the Opposition, is a very deep political process, to ignore or conceal which would threaten the proletarian dictatorship with very dire consequences.
The town Soviets, the fundamental instrument for introducing the workers and the working people in general, to the last man, into the task of State administration, have been losing in these recent years all real significance. This is the expression of an indubitable change in the relation of class forces to the disadvantage of the proletariat. Resisting these phenomena by means of a mere administrative “revival” of the Soviets is unthinkable. They can be resisted only by a firm class policy, a decisive rebuff to the new exploiters, an increased activity and weight of the proletariat in all the institutions and organs of the Soviet State without exception.
The “theory” of Molotov to the effect that we cannot demand a drawing closer together of the workers with the State and the State with the workers, because our State is already, in and of itself, a workers’ State, is the most malignant imaginable formula of bureaucratism. It sanctions in advance every conceivable bureaucratic perversion. Any criticism of this anti-Leninist “theory” of Molotov – a “theory” which enjoys the open or silent sympathy of broad circles of the Soviet officialdom is characterized, under the present leadership, as a Social-Democratic deviation. But a harsh condemnation of this, and of all similar “theories”, is an indispensable condition for any real struggle against bureaucratic perversions. Such a struggle does not mean merely transforming a certain number of workers into officials. It means a drawing near to the workers and the poorer peasants of the whole State apparatus in all of its daily work.
The present official struggle against bureaucratism, not basing itself on the class activity of the workers, but trying to replace this with the efforts of the apparatus itself, is giving and can give no essential results. In many cases it even promotes and reinforces the existing bureaucratism.
In the inner life of the Soviets there is also to be observed of late years a series of entirely reactionary processes. The Soviets have continually less and less to do with the settling of fundamental political, economic, and cultural questions. They are becoming mere appendages to the executive committees and presidiums. The work of administration is becoming wholly concentrated in the hands of the latter. The discussion of problems at the plenary sessions of the Soviets is a mere show discussion. At the same time the period between elections to the Soviet organs is being lengthened, and the latters’ independence of control by the mass of workers is increasing. All this greatly strengthens the influence of the officials upon the decision of all questions.
The administration of important branches of municipal affairs often lies in the hands of one or two Communists, who select their own experts and their own staff, and often become completely dependent upon them. There is no proper training of the members of the Soviet. They are not drawn into the work from the bottom to the top. Hence continual complaints about the lack of skilled workers in the Soviet machinery. Hence a still further shifting of power to officialdom.
The elected leaders in important spheres of Soviet administration are removed at the first conflict with the chairman of the Soviet. They are removed still more quickly in cases of conflict with the secretary of the regional committee of the party. In consequence of this the elective principle is being reduced to nothing, and responsibility to the electors is losing all meaning.
It is necessary:
- To adopt a firm policy of struggle with officialism – to wage this struggle as Lenin would, on the basis of a real fight to check the exploiting tendencies of the new bourgeoisie and the kulaks, by way of a consistent development of workers’ democracy in the party, the trade unions, and the Soviets.
- To apply the slogan of bringing the worker, the farm-hand, the poor peasant and the middle peasant – against the kulak – into close contact with the State, and unconditionally subordinating the State apparatus to the essential interests of the toiling masses.
- As the basis for reviving the Soviets, to heighten the class activity of the workers, farm-hands, and poor and middle peasants.
- To convert the town Soviets into real organs of proletarian power and instruments for drawing the broad mass of the working people into the task of administering socialist construction – to realize, not in words but in deeds, the control of the town Soviets over the work of the regional executive Committees and the organs subject to these committees.
- To put a complete stop to the removal of elected Soviet officials, except in case of real and absolute necessity, in which cases the causes should be made clear to the electors.
- We must bring it about that the most backward unskilled worker and the most ignorant peasant woman are convinced by experience that in any state institution whatever they will find attention, counsel, and all possible support.
Chapter 6. The National Question[edit source]
THE SLOWING up of the general tempo of socialist development; the growth of the new bourgeoisie in town and country; the strengthening of the bourgeois intelligentsia; the increase of bureaucratism in the state organs; the bad regime in the party; and bound up with all this the growth of Great-Power jingoism and the spirit of nationalism in general – all this finds its most morbid expression in the national regions and republics. The difficulties are redoubled by the existence in some of the republics of pre-capitalist culture-survivals.
Under the New Economic Policy, the role of private capital Increases with special rapidity in the industrially-backward areas remote from the centre. Here the economic organs often rely entirely upon the private capitalist. They fix prices without considering the real situation of the poor and middle-peasant mass. They lower artificially the wages of farm-hands. They extend immoderately the system of private and bureaucratic mediation between industry and the peasants who supply raw material. They guide the co-operatives in the direction of greater service to the richer elements in the villages. They neglect the interests of the especially backward group, the cattle-breeders and those partly engaged in cattle breeding. The vital task of carry out a plan of industrial construction in the national areas, especially a plan for industrialization of the working up of agricultural raw materials – is kept completely in the background.
Bureaucratism. sustained by the spirit of Great-Power jingoism, has succeeded in transforming Soviet centralization into a source of quarrels as to the allotment of official positions among the nationalities (the Transcaucasian Federation). It has spoiled the relations between the centre and the outlying areas. It has reduced to nothing, as a matter of actual fact, the signilicance of the Society of Nationalities. It has carried bureaucratic guardianship over the autonomous republics to the point of depriving the latter of the right to settle land disputes between the local and the Russian population. To the present day this Great-Power jingoism, especially as it expresses itself through the State machinery, remains the chief enemy to the drawing together and unity of the workers of different nationalities.
A real support to the rural poor, a drawing together of the bulk of the middle peasantry with the poor and the farm-hands, an organization of the latter into an independent class force – all this is of special importance in the national regions and republics. Without a real organization of the farm labourers, without the creation of co-operatives and organizations of the poor, we run the risk of leaving our backward eastern countryside in its traditional condition of slavery, and our party groups in these regions deprived entirely of genuine ties with the working people.
The task of Communists in the more backward or just-awakening nationalities should be to direct the process of national awakening along Soviet socialist channels. We should draw the working masses into the economic and cultural work of construction, particularly by promoting the development of the local language and schools, and the “nationalization” of the Soviet machinery.
In regions where there is friction with other nationalities or national minorities, nationalism accompanying the growth of the bourgeois elements often becomes sharply aggressive. In these circumstances “nationalization” of the local apparatus takes place at the expense of the national minorities. Boundary questions become a source of national rancour. The atmosphere of the party, Soviet, and trade union work is poisoned with nationalism.
Ukrainization, Turkification, etc., can proceed properly only by overcoming bureaucratic and Great-Power habits in the institutions and organs of the Union. It can proceed properly only if the leading role of the proletariat is preserved in the national republics, only if we support ourselves on the lower strata in the countryside and carry on a continual and irreconcilable struggle with the kulak and jingo elements.
These questions are especially important in such industrial centres as the Donbas or Baku, whose proletarian population is largely of a different nationality from that of the surrounding countryside. In these cases correct cultural and political relation between town and country demand:
- an especially attentive and genuinely fraternal attitude on the part of the town toward the material and spiritual requirements of the countryside where the nationality is different;
- a determined resistance to every bourgeois attempt to drive a wedge between the town and the country – whether by cultivating a bureaucratic arrogance toward the rural districts, or a reactionary kulak envy of the town.
Our bureaucratic regime hands over the actual enactment of its superficial show of ‘nationalization’ into the hands of officials, specialists, and petty-bourgeois teachers, who are connected by countless social ties with the upper strata of the city and the country. They accomodate their policies to the interests of these upper strata. This repels the local poor from the party and the Soviet power and throws them into the arms of the commercial bourgeoisie, the usurers, the reactionary priests, and feudal-patriarchal elements. At the same time our bureaucratic regime pushes into the background the genuinely Communist elements of the nationality, denouncing them often as “deviators”, persecuting them in every possible manner. This happened, for example, to an important group of Georgian old Bolsheviks, who incurred the displeasure of the Stalin group, and were hotly defended by Lenin in the latter period of his life.
That elevation of the working masses of the national republic and territories made possible by the October Revolution is the reason why these masses aspire to direct and independent participation in practical constructive work. Our bureaucratic regime is attempting to paralyse this aspiration by frightening the masses with the cry of local nationalism.
The Twelfth Congress of our party recognized the necessity of a struggle against “the relics of Great-Power jingoism”, against “the economic and cultural inequality of the nationalities within the Soviet Union”, against “the relics of nationalism in a whole series of peoples who have endured the heavy joke of national oppression”. The fourth conference (1923) with responsible leaders of the national republics and regions declared that “one of the basic tasks of the party is the nurture and development of Communist organizations among the proletarian and semi-proletarian elements of the local population in the national republics and regions”. The conference unanimously declared that Communists who go from the centre to the backward republics and regions ought to play the role “not of pedagogues and nurses, but of helpers”. During recent years the whole thing has developed in exactly the opposite direction. The heads of the national party apparatus, appointed by the Secretariat of the Central Committee, take upon themselves the actual decision of all party and Soviet questions. They crowd out the active workers of the nationalities as a kind of second-rate Communists whom one brings into the work merely to fulfil a formal “representative function” (Crimea, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tartaria, the mountain area of Northern Caucasus, etc.). An artificial division from above of all local party workers into “right” and “left” is carried out as a system in order that the secretaries appointed by the centre may arbitrarily command both groups.
In the sphere of our national policy, just as in other spheres, it is necessary to return to the Leninist position:
(1) To carry out an incomparably more systematic, more consistent, more vigorous, effort to overcome national divisions among the workers of different nationality – especially by an attitude of consideration to the newly-arrived ‘national’ workers, increasing their skill and bettering their living and cultural conditions; to firmly remember that the real lever for bringing the backward national countryside into the Soviet work of construction is the creation and development of proletarian cadres in the local population.
(2) To reconsider the five-year economic plan with a view to increasing the tempo of industrialization in the backward periphery, and to work out a 15-year plan which shall take into consideration the interests of the national republics and regions; to adapt our State purchasing policy to the development of special crops among the poor and middle peasants (cotton in Central Asia, tobacco in the Crimea, Abkhazia, etc.). The cooperative credit policy and also the policy of land improvement (in Central Asia, Transcaucasia, etc.) ought to be carried out strictly on class lines, in keeping with the fundamental tasks of socialist construction; to give greater attention to the development of cattle raising co-operatives, to carry out industrialization of the working up of agricultural raw materials in a manner adapted to local conditions. To revise our transmigration policy in strict accordance with the interests of a correct policy on the national question.
(3) To carry out conscientiously the policy of nationalization of the Soviet, and also the party, trade union and co-operative machinery, with genuine consideration of class and international relations; to wage a real struggle against ‘colonizing’ deviations in the activities of the state, co-operative, and other organs; to reduce bureaucratic mediation between the centre and the periphery; to study the experience of the Transcaucasian Federation from the standpoint of its promoting or failing to promote the industrial and cultural development of the nationalities concerned.
(4) Systematically to remove every obstacle to the fullest possible union and co-operation of the working people of different nationalities in the Soviet Union, on the basis of Socialist construction and international revolution; to wage a determined struggle against the mechanical imposition upon the workers and peasants of other nationalities of the predominant national language. In this matter the labouring masses should have full freedom of choice. The real rights of every national minority within the boundaries of every national republic and region must be guaranteed. In all this work special attention must be given to those exceptional conditions arising between formerly oppressed nationalities and nationalities ‘who were formerly their oppressors.
(5)A consistent carrying out of inner-party democracy in all the normal republics and regions; an absolute repudiation of the attitude of command toward non-Russians, of appointment and transfer from above; a repudiation of the policy of arbitrary division of the non-Russian Communists into ‘rights’ and ‘lefts’; a most attentive promotion and training of local proletarian, semi-proletarian, agricultural proletarian and (anti-kulak) peasant active workers.
(6) A repudiation of the Ustryalov tendency, and of all kinds of Great-Power tendencies – especially in the central commissariats and in the state machine in general. An educational struggle against local nationalism upon the basis of a clear and consistent class policy on the national question.
(7) Transformation of the Soviet of Nationalities into a really functioning organ bound up with the life of the national republics and regions, and really capable of defending their interests.
(8) Adequate attention to the national problem in the work of the trade unions and to the task of forming national proletarian cadres. Business in these unions to be transacted in the local tongue, and the interests of all nationalities and national minorities protected.
(9) No franchise under any circumstances for exploiting elements.
(10) The fifth conference on nationality questions to be called on a basis of real representation of the rank and file.
> (11) Publication in the press of Lenin’s letter on the national question, which contains a criticism of Stalin’s line on this question.
Chapter 7. The Party[edit source]
NO party in the history of the world ever won such a gigantic victory as our party, which has stood now for ten years at the head of a proletariat and realized its dictatorship. The Russian Communist party is the fundamental instrument of the proletarian revolution. The Russian Communist party is the leading party of the Comintern. No other party ever bore such an international historic responsibility as ours. But exactly for this reason, and because of the power it wields, our party ought fearlessly to criticize its own mistakes. It ought to uncover its own darker sides and clearly visualize the danger of an actual degeneration, in order to take timely measures to prevent it. It was always so in the time of Lenin, who was forever warning us against the danger of our degeneration into a ‘party of swelled-heads’. In giving the following picture of the present condition of our party, with all its darker sides, we, the Opposition, express the firm hope that with a true Leninist policy the party will conquer its weaknesses and rise to the height of its historical task.
(1) The social composition of our party has continually deteriorated during recent years. On January 1, 1927, we had in the party, in round numbers:
|Workers actually occupied in industry and transport||430,000|
|Peasants (more than half of them now government officials)||303,000|
|Officials (more than half of whom were formely workers)||462,000|
Thus, on January 1, our party had only one-third workers from the shops (in fact, only 31 per cent), and two-thirds peasants, officials, former workers, and “miscellaneous”.
In the last year and a half our party has lost about 100,000 workers from the shops. “Mechanical lapses” from the party for 1926 amounted to 25,000 rank-and-file Communists, among whom 76.5 per cent were factory workers. The recent so-called “sifting” process which accompanied the new registration of party members, resulted, according to the official data (which indubitably minimize the facts), in the removal from the party of about 80,000 members, the immense majority of them industrial workers. ‘In relative figures the registration embraced 93.5 per cent of the party membership at the beginning of the present year. Thus, by the simple process of a new registration, there were “sifted out” 6.5 per cent of the whole party membership (amounting to about 80,000 members). Among those “sifted out”, about 50 per cent were skilled, and more than a third semi-skilled, workers. The attempt of the apparatus of the Central Committee to minimize these already sufficiently minimized data is obviously unsuccessful. To counterbalance our “Lenin enrolment” we have a Stalinist “sifting”.
On the other hand, 100,000 peasants have been admitted to the party since the Fourteenth Congress, the majority of them middle peasants. The percentage of farm labourers is wholly insignificant.
(2) The social composition of the directing organs of the party has deteriorated still more. In the Uyezd (county) committees, 29.5 per cent are peasants (in origin); 24.4 per cent are clerical workers, etc.; 81.6 per cent of the members of these committees are state officials. The number of workers from the shops in the leading bodies of the party’s next to nothing. In the regional committees, it is 13.2 per cent; in the Uyezd committees, from 9.8 per cent to 16.1 per cent.
In the party itself about one-third of the members are workers in industry, and in those organs of the party which take decisions only one-tenth are workers in industry. This constitutes a grave danger to the party. The trade unions have travelled the same road. This shows what an enormous slice of the power the “administrators”, coming from petty-bourgeois circles, have taken away from us – and also the “labour bureaucrats”. This is the surest road to the “de-proletarization” of the party.
(3) The role of the “ex-ers” (Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks) in the party apparatus and the leading posts in general has increased. At the time of the Fourteenth Congress, 38 per cent of those occupying responsible and directing positions in our Press were persons who had come to us from other parties. At present the situation is still worse. The actual direction of the Bolshevik Press of the party is either in the hands of the revisionist school of the “young” (Slepkov, Stetsky, Maretsky and others) or of former Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. About a quarter of the higher cadres of the active element in the party is composed of former Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks.
(4) Bureaucratism is growing in all spheres. but its growth is especially ruinous in the party. Today’s “leading” party bureaucrat looks at things in the following manner:
We have members of the party who still inadequately understand the party itself, just what it is. They think that the party starts from the local branch – the local branch is the first brick, then comes the district committee, and so on, higher and higher, until you arrive at the Central Committee. That is not right (!!!). Our party must be looked at from the top down. And this view must be adhered to in all practical relationships and in the entire work of the party.
The definitions of inner-party democracy given us by more responsible comrades, such as Uglanov, Molotov, Kaganovich, etc., come essentially to the same thing.
This “new” conception is dangerous in the extreme. If we really acknowledged that our party “must be looked at from the top down”, that would mean that the Leninist party, the party of the mass of the workers, no longer exists.
(5) The last few years have seen a systematic abolition of inner-party democracy – in violation of the whole tradition of the Bolshevik party, in violation of the direct decisions of a series of party congresses. The genuine election of officials is in actual practice dying out. The organizational principles of Bolshevism are being perverted at every step. The party constitution is being systematically changed, to increase the volume of rights at the top, and diminish the rights of the branches at the bottom. The mandates of the Uyezd, district and regional committees have been extended by the Central Committee to a year, to two years, and more.
The leadership of the regional committees, the regional executive committees, the regional trade union councils, etc., are, in actual fact, irremovable (for periods from three to five years and longer). The right of each member of the party, of each group of party members, to “appeal its radical differences to the court of the whole party” is in actual fact annulled. Congresses and conferences are called without a preliminary free discussion (such as was always held under Lenin) of all questions by the whole party. The demand for such a discussion is treated as a violation of party discipline. The saying of Lenin is completely forgotten that “the Bolshevik ‘staff’ must rely in practice on the honest and conscious will of the army, which follows its staff, but at the same time directs its staff”.
Within the party there is taking place – as a natural accompaniment of the general course–an extremely significant process of pushing out the old party men, who lived through the underground period, or at least through the civil war, and are independent and capable of defending their views. They are being replaced by new elements, distinguished chiefly by their unquestioning obedience. This obedience, cultivated from above under the name of revolutionary discipline, has really nothing whatever to do with revolutionary discipline. Not infrequently new Communists, selected from the number of those workers who were always distinguished by their subservience to the old pre-revolutionary authorities, are now advanced into dominant positions in the working-class branches and in the administration. They curry favour by demonstrating their sharply hostile attitude to the old worker members, the leaders of the working class in the hardest moments of its revolution.
The same phenomenon appears in a far uglier form in the state machine, where one often meets the perfected figure of the party’ Soviet official. On solemn occasions he swears by October; he distinguishes himself by a complete indifference to his task; he lives with all his roots in a bourgeois milieu, abuses the leadership in private life, and in party meetings “gives it” to the Opposition.
The real rights of one member of the party at the top (above all of the Secretary) are many times greater than the real rights of a hundred members at the bottom. This growing replacement of the party by its own apparatus is promoted by a “theory” of Stalin’s which denies the Leninist principle, inviolable for every Bolshevik, that the dictatorship of the proletariat is and can be realized only through the dictatorship of the party.
The dying out of inner-party democracy leads to a dying out of workers’ democracy in general – in the trade unions, and in all other non-party mass organizations.
Inner-party disagreements are distorted. A vicious polemic is carried on for months and years at a time against the views of Bolsheviks who are denounced as “the Opposition”, while these Bolsheviks are not permitted to expound their real views in the pages of the party Press. Yesterday’s Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries, Cadets, Bundists, Zionists, attack and denounce in the pages of Pravda documents which have been introduced into the Central Committee by its members. They tear out and distort separate phrases from these documents. But the documents themselves are never printed. Party groups are compelled to vote “denunciations” of documents totally unknown to them.
The party is compelled to judge our disagreements on the basis of official “interpretations” and cribs, often illiterate as well as false, and nauseating to everybody. The saying of Lenin, “Whoever believes things on a mere say-so is a hopeless idiot,” has been replaced by a new formula: “Who does not believe the official say-so is an Oppositionist.” Factory workers who incline toward the Opposition are compelled to pay for their opinions with unemployment. The rank-and-file member of the party cannot speak his opinion aloud. Old party workers are deprived of the right to express themselves either in the Press or at meetings.
Bolsheviks defending the ideas of Lenin are slanderously accused of desiring to create “two parties”. This accusation was deliberately invented in order to array against the Opposition the workers, who naturally defend with passion the unity of their party. Every word of criticism against the crude Menshevik mistakes of Stalin (on the problems of the Chinese revolution, the Anglo-Russian Committee, etc.) is described as a “struggle against the party”. This, although Stalin never asked the party first, either about the policy in China or about any other important problem. This accusation that the Opposition desires to create “two parties” is repeated every day by those whose own purpose is to crowd out of the party the Bolshevik-Leninist members, so that they may have a free hand in carrying on their opportunist policy.
(6) Almost the entire educational work of the party and the entire work of elementary political training is now reduced to a course in Opposition baiting. The method of persuasion is not only almost totally displaced by the method of compulsion, but it is also supplemented by the method of deceiving the party. Party education being reduced to mere official propaganda, the general tendency is to evade it. Attendance at meetings, party schools and study-groups, dedicated as they are to Opposition baiting, has fallen off immoderately. The party is employing passive resistance against the present wrong course of its apparatus.
(7) Not only have careerism, bureaucratism and inequality grown in the party in recent years, but muddy Streams from alien and class-hostile sources are flowing into it – for example, anti-Semitism. The mere self-preservation of the party demands a merciless struggle against such defilement.
(8) In spite of these facts, the fire of repression is directed exclusively to the left. It has become entirely customary to expel Oppositionists for speaking at the meetings of their branches, for making sharp exclamations, for attempting to read the Testament of Lenin. In their level of political understanding and, what is more important, in their devotion to the cause of the party, the expelled frequently stand higher than those who expel them. Finding themselves outside the party – for the crime of “distrust” and “pessimism” in regard to Chiang Kai-shek, Purcell, or their own bureaucrats – these comrades continue to live the life of the party. They serve it far more truly than many of the careerists and Philistines who continue in its membership.
(9) The present hail of repressions and threats, visibly increasing with the approach of the Fifteenth Congress, is designed to frighten the party still more. It testifies to the fact that the united faction of Stalin and Rykov, in order to cover up its political mistakes, must have recourse to extreme measures. It places the party at every congress and conference before a fait accompli.
(10) The political line of the Central Committee (which was laid down at the Fourteenth Congress upon the principle of solidarity with Stalin) is erroneous. Although wavering, the present nucleus of the Central Committee moves continually to the right. The abolition of inner-party democracy is an inevitable result of the fact that the political line is radically wrong. In so far as it reflects the pressure of petty-bourgeois elements, the influence of the non-proletarian layers which envelop our party, it must inevitably be carried through by force from above.
In the theoretical sphere the so-called “younger school” has a monopoly. This is a school of revisionists, who are ready at any moment to carry out the literary orders of the apparatus. The best elements of the Bolshevik youth, permeated with the real traditions of the Bolshevik party, are not only crowded out but actually persecuted.
In the organizational sphere the actual subjection of the Politburo to the Secretariat, and the Secretariat to the General Secretary, has long ago become an accomplished fact. The worst fear expressed by Lenin in his testament – the fear that Stalin would not be sufficiently loyal, would not employ in a party manner the “unlimited power” which he had “concentrated in his hands” – has been justified.
At the present time there are three fundamental tendencies in the Central Committee and in the leading organs of the party and state in general.
The first tendency is a frank and open drift to the right. This tendency, in turn, is composed of two groups. One of them, in its opportunism and pliability, expresses to a considerable degree the “economically powerful” middle peasant. It steers its course by him and is inspired by his ideals. This is the group of Comrades Rykov, A.P. Smirnov, Kalinin, G. Petrovsky, Chubar, Kaminsky, and others. Around them and in their immediate vicinity are working the “non-party” – the Kondratievs, Sadyrins, Chayanovs and other political “business agents” of the wealthy peasantry, more or less openly preaching the doctrines of Ustryalov. In every region, and often in every Uyezd, are to be found the little Kondratievs and Sadyrins enjoying their bit of real power and influence. The other group in this first general tendency is composed of trade union leaders who represent the better-paid class of workers and clerks. This group is particularly characterized by a desire for closer association with the Amsterdam International. Its leaders are Comrades Tomsky, Melnichansky, Dogadov, and others. Between these two groups there is a certain amount of friction, but they are at one in the desire to swerve the course of the party and the Soviet state to the right, in both international and domestic policies. They are both distinguished by their contempt for the theories of Leninism and their inclination to renounce the tactics of the world revolution.
The second tendency is the “centrism” of the official apparatus. The leaders of this tendency are Comrades Stalin, Molotov, Uglanov, Kaganovich, Mikoyan, Kirov. It is, de facto, the present Politburo. Bukharin, wavering between one side and the other, “generalizes” the policies of this group. In itself this centrist-official group least of all expresses the attitude of any broad mass, but it is trying – not without success – to insert itself into the place of the party. The caste of “administrators” – in the party, the trade unions, the industrial organs, the co-operatives, the state apparatus – now numbers tens of thousands of people. Among these there is no small number of “worker” bureaucrats – former workers, that is, who have lost all connection with the toiling mass.
It is needless to add that in the organs of administration and leadership, so enormously important to the fate of the revolution, there are to be found many thousands of stoical revolutionists, workers who have not broken their bonds with the mass, but are giving themselves heart and soul to the workers’ cause. It is they who are doing the real work of Communism in these institutions.
This does not alter the fact that the degeneration of our political course and our party regime is giving birth to an enormous caste of genuine bureaucrats.
The actual power of this caste is enormous. It is just this group of “administrators” who insist upon “tranquillity”, upon “attending to business” – and above all “no discussion”. It is just this group who complacently announce (and even sometimes sincerely believe) that we have already “almost reached socialism”, that “nine-tenths of the programme” of the socialist revolution is already fulfilled. It is this group who “look from the top down” upon the whole party, and still more from the top down upon the unskilled workers, the unemployed, the hired farm-hands. This group sees the principal enemy on the left – that is, among the revolutionary Leninists. This group gives the slogan, “Fire to the left”.
For the time being these two tendencies, the right and the “centre”, are united by their common hostility to the Opposition. To cut off the Opposition would inevitably accelerate the conflict between them.
The third tendency is the so-called Opposition. It is the Leninist wing of the party. The pitiful attempts to pretend that it is an Opposition from the right (a “Social-Democratic deviation”, etc.) arise from the desire of the ruling group to hide their own opportunism. The Opposition is for the unity of the party. Stalin propagates his own programme – to “cut off” the Opposition – under the false flag of a pretence that the Opposition wants to create a “second” party. The Opposition answer with its slogan: “Unity of the Leninist Russian Communist Party at all costs”. The platform of the Opposition is set forth in the present document. The working-class sections of the party and all genuine Leninist Bolsheviks will be for it.
Personal desertions from the Opposition are unavoidable in the hard circumstances under which it is compelled to struggle for the cause of Lenin. Separate personal regroupings among the leaders of all these three tendencies will occur, but they will not alter the fundamental facts of the matter.
(11) All the above facts taken together constitute a party crisis. The inner-party disagreements have deepened continually since the death of Lenin, involving a continually increasing circle of more and more fundamental problems.
The fundamental mood of the party mass is a desire for unity. The present regime prevents the party from understanding the direction from which a danger threatens its unity. The machinations of Stalin are all designed to place the party membership, upon every sharp or important question that arises, before the dilemma: either renounce your own opinion or fall under the accusation of desiring a split.
Our task is to preserve the unity of the party at all costs to resist decisively the policy of splits, amputations, expulsions, etc. – but at the same time to guarantee to the party its right to a free discussion and decision, within the framework of this unity, of all disputed questions.
In exposing the mistakes and abnormalities of the present situation in the party, the Opposition is deeply convinced that the fundamental mass of the working-class section of the party will prove able in spite of everything to bring the party back to the Leninist road. To help in that process is the essential task of the Opposition.
Practical Proposals[edit source]
It is necessary:
(1) To prepare for the Fifteenth Congress upon a basis of real inner-party democracy, as we did in Lenin’s time. “Every member of the party,” wrote Lenin, “should begin to study dispassionately and with the utmost honesty; first, the essence of disagreements, and secondly, the course of development of the conflict in the party ... It is necessary to study both the one thing and the other, unconditionally demanding that absolutely accurate documents should be printed and should be available for checking from all points of view.” The Central Committee should make it possible for every member of the party to study both the essence of the present inner-party disagreements, and the course of development of the present struggle. It should do this by publishing, in the press and in special collections and pamphlets, all the documents which it has up to this time hidden from the party.
Every comrade and every group of comrades ought to have an opportunity to defend their point of view before the party in the press, at meetings, etc. The draft theses (the platform) of the Central Committee, of local organizations, of individual members of the party and groups of members, ought to be published in Pravda (or in supplements to Pravda) and also in the the local party papers, at least two months before the Fifteenth Congress.
The debate ought to be carried on in a businesslike and strictly comradely manner, without personalities and exaggerations. The chief slogan for the whole preparation of the Fifteenth Congress ought to be unity – not a pretended, but a genuine Leninist unity of the Russian Communist party and the whole Communist International.
(2) It is necessary to adopt immediately a series of measures for the improvement of the social composition of the party and of its leading organs. To that end we must reaffirm the decision of the Thirteenth Congress, that “the vast majority of the party members in the near future ought to consist of workers directly employed in industry.” In the next two or three years we ought to receive into the party, as a general rule, only and exclusively working men and women from the factories and hired men and women working on the farms. From other social groups we should accept members only upon a basis of strict personal selection: Red soldiers and sailors only if they are of working-class, or rural proletarian, or poor peasant origin; poor and economically weak peasants, only after they have been tested in social-political work for a minimum of two years. The admission of members who come to us from other parties must be stopped.
We must carry out the decision of the Thirteenth Congress in practice annulled by the Fourteenth Congress (against the will of the Opposition) – to the effect that in the district committees, the regional committees, etc., there should be not less than 50 per cent of workers from the factories. In the industrial centres we must have a firm majority of workers from the factories (not less than three-fourths of the total). In the Uyezd committees, a similar majority of workers, hired men, and poor peasants.
(3) To confirm and carry out in real life the resolution on inner-party democracy adopted by the Tenth Party Congress, reaffirmed by the Central Committee and the Central Control Committee, December 5, 1923, and by the Twelfth and Thirteenth Congresses of the party.
We must confirm in the name of the whole party that– contrary to the new anti-Leninist definitions of inner-party democracy devised and circulated by Uglanov, Molotov, Kaganovich, Zhivov, and others:
Workers’ Democracy means freedom of open discussion by all party members of the important questions of party life, free discussion upon them, and also election of the responsible leading personnel and of the collegiums from bottom to top.
We must take punitive measures against every one who violates in practice this fundamental right of every member of the party.
As a rule, the point of view of the party minority upon any question of principle ought to be brought to the attention of all the members through the party papers, etc. Exceptions should be permitted only when the matters under discussion are secret. It goes without saying that after the adoption of a decision it is to be carried out with iron Bolshevik discipline. The network of party discussion clubs should be broadened and a real criticism of the mistakes of the party leadership made possible in the party organs (by discussion leaflets, printed symposia, etc.).
All those changes for the worse that have been introduced into the party constitution since the Fourteenth Congress (paragraphs 25, 33, 37, 42, 50, etc.) must be annulled.
(4) We must adopt a firm course toward proletarization of the party apparatus as a whole. Workers from the factories, advanced Communist workers who are popular with the party and non-party mass, should constitute a decisive majority of the whole party apparatus. The apparatus should by no means consist entirely of paid personnel, and it should be regularly renewed from the workers. The budget of the local organizations (not omitting the regional organizations) should consist mainly of membership dues. The local organizations should render an account of their income and expenses regularly, and in actual fact, to the mass membership of the party. The present swollen budget of the party ought to be cut down vigorously, as also the size of the paid apparatus. A considerable part of the party work ought to be carried on gratis by members of the party giving time outside their industrial or other work. One measure toward refreshing the party apparatus should be the systematic sending down of a part of the comrades from the apparatus into industry and other rank-and-file work. We must struggle against the tendency of secretaries to make themselves irremovable. We must establish definite terms for the occupation of secretarial and other responsible posts. We must struggle ruthlessly against the actual corruption and decay of the uppermost groups, against patronage, “group solidarity”, etc. (examples: Syzran, Kherson, Irkutsk. Chita, etc.).
(5) As early as the Tenth Congress, under the leadership of Lenin, there was adopted a series of resolutions emphasizing the necessity of greater equality within the party and within the toiling masses. As early as the Twelfth Congress the party noticed the danger, under the NEP, of a degeneration of that part of the party workers whose activities bring them into contact with the bourgeoisie. It is necessary to:
Work out completely adequate practical measures to eliminate inequality (in conditions of life, wages, etc.) between the specialists and responsible workers, on the one hand, and the toiling masses on the other, in so far as this inequality destroys democracy and is a source of corruption of the party and lowering of the authority of Communists.
In view of the fact that inequality has grown at an extraordinarily swift pace in recent years, we must bring up this question again and solve it as revolutionists.
(6) It is necessary to reorganize party education along the line of study of the works of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, driving out of circulation the false interpretations of Marxism and Leninism now being manufactured on a large scale.
(7) It is necessary to restore immediately to party membership the expelled Oppositionists.
(8) It is necessary to reconstruct the Central Control Committee in the real spirit of Lenin’s advice. Members of the Central Control Committee must be:
- closely associated with the masses.
- independent of the apparatus.
- possessed of authority in the party.
Only thus can real confidence be restored to the Central Control Committee and its authority be raised to the necessary height.
(9) In selecting the membership of the Central Committee and the Central Control Committee and their organs, we must be guided by the advice of Lenin, as given in his letters of December 25 and 26, 1922 and January 4,1923 (the Testament). These letters ought to be published for the information of all members of the Central Committee.
Among the members of the Central Committee the greater part should be workers standing lower in the social scale than that stratum who have advanced during the last five years into Soviet official positions.
So Lenin wrote in his letter of December 26, 1922:
And they should be associated more closely with the rank-and-file workers and peasants, while not, however, belonging either directly or indirectly, to the class of exploiters ... Workers becoming members of the Central Committee ought not, in my opinion, to be predominantly those who have had a long period of employment as Soviet officials ... because these workers have already acquired certain traditions and certain prejudices which are just the ones we want to struggle against. Those letters were written by Lenin in the period when he gave the party his last and most carefully weighed advice upon the fundamental questions of the revolution.
The Fifteenth Congress of our party ought to select its Central Committee from the exact point of view of the above-quoted advice of Lenin.
Chapter 8. The League of Communist Youth[edit source]
THE wrong political line and the organizational repression have been carried over with full force, and often indeed with increased force, into the League of Communist Youth. The international education of the young workers is being more and more pushed into the background. All critical thinking is being suppressed and persecuted. For positions of leadership in the Communist youth organization, the party apparatus demands first of all “obedience”, and readiness to bait the Opposition. The proletarian part of the lower organizations, the fundamentally healthy part, is deprived of all life by this regime. Here, even more than in the party, the mistaken policy pursued at the top opens the road for petty. bourgeois influences.
Of late years the League of Communist Youth has grown rapidly in membership, but at the cost of a deterioration in its social composition. From the time of the Thirteenth Congress of the party, the proletarian nucleus within this organization has fallen from 40.1 per cent to 34.4 per cent, and the organization of young workers employed in industry from 49.8 per cent to 47 per cent. The political activity of the young workers is also diminishing.
In these circumstances it was an exceedingly crude mistake, capable only of widening the separation between the League and the mass of working-class youth, to adopt that series of recent decisions which worsened still further, and in violation of the resolutions of the Fourteenth Congress, the situation of the young worker (cutting down the regulations protecting apprentices, the special wage-scale for apprentices, restriction of the number of apprentices in industrial schools – and here also belongs the attempt to introduce unpaid apprenticeship).
The League of Communist Youth in the country is more and more losing its proletarian and poor peasant support. Its cultural and economic work in the country has for its main object the development of individual farms. The relative weight of the poor is systematically falling everywhere – in the general composition of the rural branches, in the active membership, in the nucleus composed of party members. Along with the continual diminishing of the influx of young town workers, the League is filling up in the countryside with middle and well-off peasant youth.
As in the town, so also in the country the tendency of the petty-bourgeois elements to get hold of the leadership of the League is growing. The group of clerical workers and “miscellaneous” is playing a more and more considerable role, especially in the rural organizations.
Thirty-six per cent of all our new party members come from the ranks of the League of Communist Youth. However, within the party nucleus of the League from one-fourth to one-third are non-proletarian. In the party nuclei of the rural youth organizations, the middle peasants are rapidly gaining at the expense of the farm-hands and the poor peasants. (20 per cent were middle peasants in 1925, 32.5 per cent in 1927.) Thus the League of Communist Youth is being transformed into one of the sources for the dilution of the party with petty-bourgeois elements. In order to prevent the further weakening of the dominant role of the proletarian nucleus and its relegation to the background by newcomers from the intelligentsia, clerical workers, and well-off strata in the countryside, inevitably entailing a petty-bourgeois degeneration of the League, the following measures are necessary:
(1) To put an immediate stop to the gradual annulment of our revolutionary conquests in the sphere of the labour and education of the young proletarian – to revoke all those recent measures which worsen the conditions of his work. That is one of the principal premises for the struggle against morbid tendencies in the League of Communist Youth (drunkenness, hooliganism, etc.).
(2) In proportion to the growth of the general well-being of the working class, to elevate, systematically and resolutely, the material and cultural level of the young workers by means of higher wages, broadening of the network of industrial schools and trade courses, etc.
(3) To carry out the decision of previous party and Communist Youth congresses, as to the enrolment in the League of 100 per cent of the young town workers and rural proletarians in the course of the next few years.
(4) To intensify the work of attracting into the League the poor peasant youth.
(5) To attract into the League the economically weak middle peasants, and of the rest of the middle peasants only who have been tested in social work, and especially in the work of struggling against the kulak.
(6) To increase the League’s defence of the interests of the poor, directing its work towards the creation of a new rural society, not along the path of individual enrichment, but along the path of co-operation and the collectivization of agriculture.
(7) To improve the social composition of the party nucleus, permitting recruitment during the next two years only from workers, farm-hands, and poor peasants.
(8) To make the leadership of the organs of the Communist youth proletarian, systematically and resolutely advancing the farm-hands and the poor into positions of leadership. To ordain that in the great proletarian centres, the regional committees and district committees of the League, and the bureaus of these committees, should consist in an overwhelming majority of workers in the factories, and that the latter should be really drawn into the task of leadership.
(9) To wage a serious struggle against bureaucratism in the League. To cut down decisively the paid officialdom, reducing it to the absolutely necessary minimum. To accomplish at least a half, and in industrial centres three-quarters, of the work of the League through the unpaid efforts of its members, to attract more and more of the rank-and-file members of the League into this work.
(10) The cultural and educational work of the League should be closely bound up with an active daily participation in the general political life of the party, the soviets, the trade unions and the co-operatives.
(11) Put an end to the rubber-stamp regime, the deadening regime of orders from above, the lying and ignorant regime of cribs and “institutions” for Opposition-baiting. Introduce in its place the serious study of Marxism and Leninism, upon the basis of live discussion, comradely exchange of opinions, and a real, not a sham, acquisition of knowledge.
(12) Introduce, in deeds and not words, a democratic regime. Do away with persecution and expulsion of those who hold independent opinions about party questions and League questions. Adhere strictly to the periods provided in the constitution for calling district, Uyezd, regional, etc., conferences and congresses.
Chapter 9. Our International Situation and the War Danger[edit source]
The Situation Of The Soviet Union In The World Arena[edit source]
A WAR of the imperialists against the Soviet Union is not only probable, but inevitable.
To postpone this danger, to gain as much time as possible for strengthening the Soviet Union and consolidating the international revolutionary proletariat, should be one of our chief practical concerns. Only a victorious proletarian revolution in the dominant countries can finally remove this danger.
The danger of a world war is increasing for the following reasons:
- These years of Struggle Of the part of capitalism to strengthen itself, and the partial success obtained in that struggle, have made the question of markets a burning question for all the leading countries.
- The imperialist bourgeoisie, convinced of the indubitable growth of the economic power of the Soviet Union, sees also that the proletarian dictatorship, protected by the monopoly of foreign trade, will never give the capitalists a ‘free” market in Russia.
- The imperialist bourgeoisie is speculating on domestic difficulties in the Soviet Union.
- The defeat of the revolution in China, following the defeat of the English General Strike, has filled the imperialists with the hope that they may succeed in crushing the Soviet Union.
The rupture of diplomatic relations between Britain and the Soviet Union was prepared long ago, but the defeat of the Chinese revolution hastened it. In this sense it was a reward for the Central Committee’s refusal to adopt a real Bolshevik policy in China. It would be a great mistake to imagine that this matter reduces itself to a mere change in the form of trade between Britain and us. (“We will trade as we trade with America.”) It is perfectly clear now that imperial Britain has a broader plan of action. She is preparing a war against the Soviet Union, having a “moral mandate” from the bourgeoisie of several other countries, and intending by one means or another to drag into the war against us Poland, Rumania, and the Baltic states, and perhaps also Yugoslavia, Italy, and Hungary.
Poland, it appears, would prefer to have a longer period of preparation for war against us. But it is not impossible that Britain will compel her to fight sooner than she likes.
In France, the British pressure for a united front against the Soviet Union is finding support from an influential part of the bourgeoisie. They are becoming more and more irreconcilable in their demands, and, of course, at a favourable moment they will not hesitate to make a diplomatic rupture.
The more Germany’s diplomacy wriggles in recent times, the clearer it becomes that its general “orientation” is towards the West. The German bourgeoisie is already openly saying that, in a war against the Soviet Union, Germany would perhaps at the beginning remain “neutral” (in the manner of America in 1914). This, with a view to gain as much as possible from the war, and afterward openly sell its neutrality to the Western imperialists at a good price. Nothing could be worse for the fundamental interests of the Soviet Union than to conceal from itself this passing over of the German bourgeoisie to a Western “orientation”. An unexpected blow from the German bourgeoisie might well have a decisive significance for us. Only a perfectly open “statement of things as they are”, only an awakening of the vigilance of the workers of the Soviet Union and the workers of Germany, can insure us against this blow, or at least make it difficult for the German bourgeoisie to deliver it.
The Japanese bourgeoisie is manœuvring no less skilfully than the Germans in relation to the Soviet Union. It is very cleverly covering up its tracks, and pretending to be “friendly”. It has even checked, for a time, the seizure of the Chinese Eastern railroad by Chang Tso-lin. But it is secretly holding the reins in China and may soon throw off the mask in relation to us.
In the Near East (Turkey and Persia), we have not, to say the least, achieved a situation which would guarantee a firm neutrality in case the imperialists attack us. It would be wiser to assume that in such a case the governments of these states would incline, under pressure, to do the bidding of the imperialists against the Soviet Union.
In the case of an attack on us, America, having preserved her wholly irreconcilable attitude to the Soviet Union, would play the role of the imperialist “rear”. The significance of this role would be the greater because she is just the one to guarantee the financing of a war against the Soviet Union.
To sum up: Whereas the years, 1923-1925 were years of recognition of the Soviet Union by a series of bourgeois states, the period beginning now will be a period of rupture. The recognitions of the preceding period did not necessarily mean that peace was assured, that the breathing space would last. The ruptures of the present period do not necessarily mean that war is unavoidable in the near future. But that we have entered into a new time of extreme tension in the international situation, containing the possibility of attacks against the Soviet Union, is indubitable.
The contradictions within the capitalist world are very great. To realize, throughout a long period, a united front against us will be extremely difficult for the world bourgeoisie. But a partial union of several bourgeois states against us, for a certain period of time, is entirely possible.
All this taken together ought to impel our party:
- To recognize that the international situation is dangerous.
- To bring again into the foreground before the broad masses of the population the problems of international politics.
- To carry on a most intense and all-sided preparation of the Soviet Union for defence in case of war.
The bourgeois parties, including official Social Democracy, will try in every way to deceive their people as to the real character of the war which imperialism is preparing against the Soviet Union. Our task is to explain now to the broadest masses of the peoples of the whole world that this will be a war of imperialists and slave-owners against the first proletarian state and dictatorship – a war of capitalism against socialism. In this war the imperialist bourgeoisie will be fighting essentially to preserve the whole system of capitalist wage slavery. The Soviet Union will be fighting for the interests of the international proletariat, the colonial and semi-colonial and enslaved countries. for the international revolution and socialism.
Our whole work ought already to be carried on under these slogans:
- Down with the war of the imperialists against the state of the proletarian dictatorship.
- Transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war in all states attacking the Soviet Union.
- Defeat of all the bourgeois states making war on the Soviet Union. Every honest proletarian of the capitalist countries ought actively to work for the defeat of “his” government.
- Coming over to the side of the Red Army of every foreign soldier who does not want to help the slave-owners of his country. The Soviet Union is the fatherland of all workers.
- The slogan, “Defence of the Fatherland”, will be a false disguise of the interests of imperialism in all bourgeois countries, except the colonial and semi-colonial countries who are carrying on a national revolutionary war against the imperialists. In the Soviet Union the slogan, “Defence of the Fatherland”, will be a true one, because we are defending the socialist fatherland and the base of the world labour movement.
- We are “Defenders of the Fatherland” since October 25, 1917. Our patriotic war will be a war “for the Soviet republic, as one of the advanced units of the international army of socialism”. “Our “patriotic” war is not a step towards a bourgeois state, but a step to an international socialist revolution” (Lenin). Our defence of the fatherland is the defence of the proletarian dictatorship. Our war will be waged by the workers and farm-hands with the support of the poor peasants, and with the alliance of the middle peasants against “our own” kulaks, new bourgeoisie, bureaucrats, specialists of the Ustryalov school, and White émigrés. Our war will be a really just war. Whoever is not a defender of the Soviet Union is unquestionably a traitor to the international proletariat.
The Defeat of the Chinese Revolution and Its Causes[edit source]
The defeat of the Chinese revolution has changed the real relation of forces to the advantage of imperialism; of course, only temporarily. New revolutionary conflicts, a new revolution in China, are inevitable. That is guaranteed by the whole situation.
The opportunist leaders are trying, after the event, to explain their own failure by the so-called “objective relation of forces”. They forget that only yesterday they were predicting a speedy socialist revolution in China upon the basis of this same relation of forces.
The deciding cause of the unfortunate outcome of the Chinese revolution at the present stage was the fundamentally mistaken policy of the leadership of the Russian Communist Patty and the whole International. The net result was that at the decisive period there existed in China, in actual fact, no real Bolshevik party. To lay the blame now upon the Chinese Communists alone is superficial and contemptible.
We had in China a classic experiment in the application of the Menshevik tactic in the bourgeois-democratic revolution. That is why the Chinese proletariat not only did not attain to its victorious “1905” (Lenin), but has played, so far, essentially the same role that the European proletariat played in the revolutions of 1848. The peculiarity of the Chinese revolution in the present international situation is not that there exists in China a so-called “revolutionary” liberal bourgeoisie – upon which Stalin-Martynov-Bukharin rested the hopes of their entire policy. Its peculiarities are as follows:
(1) The Chinese peasantry, more oppressed than the Russian under Tsarism, groaning under the yoke not only of their own but also of foreign oppressors, could rise, and did rise, more powerfully than the Russian peasantry in the revolution of 1905.
(2) The slogan of “Soviets” proposed by Lenin for China as early as 1920 had every possible justification in the conditions existing in 1926-1927. Soviets in China would have offered forms of consolidation for the peasant power, under the leadership of the proletariat. They would have been real organs of the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. And that means organs of real resistance to the bourgeois Kuomintang, and to the Chinese Cavaignacs emerging from it.
The doctrine of Lenin, that a bourgeois-democratic revolution can be carried through only by a union of the working class and the peasants (under the leadership of the former) against the bourgeoisie, is not only applicable to China, and to similar colonial and semi-colonial countries, but in fact indicates the sole road to victory in those countries.
(3) It follows from all this that a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasants, had it crystallized in the form of Soviets in China, in the present period of imperialist wars and proletarian revolutions, modified as it is by the existence of the Soviet Union, would have had every possible chance of a comparatively swift transformation into a socialist revolution.
Apart from this policy there remained only the Menshevik road of alliances with the liberal bourgeoisie, which leads unavoidably to the defeat of the working class. That is what had actually happened in 1927 in China.
All the decisions made during Lenin’s life by the Second and Fourth Congresses of the Communist International – the decision on Soviets in the Orient, on the full independence of workers’ Communist parties in countries having a national-revolutionary movement, and on the union of the working class with the peasants against “their” bourgeoisie and the foreign imperialists – all these decisions were completely forgotten.
The resolution of the seventh enlarged plenum of the executive committee of the Communist International (November l926), not only did not give a true Leninist evaluation of the already powerfully developing events in China, but it wholly and absolutely went over to the Menshevik course advocated by Martynov. In the resolution, incredible as it may seem, not one word was said about the first counter-revolutionary coup d’etat of Chiang Kai-shek in March 1926. Not one word about the shootings of workers and peasants and other repressive measures carried out by the Canton government in a whole series of provinces during the summer and autumn of 1926. Not one word about the measures of compulsory arbitration directed against the working class. Not one word about the putting down of working-class strikes by the Canton government, about the protection given by the Canton government to the yellow “company unions” of the employers. Not one word about the efforts put forth by the Canton government to strangle the peasants movement, spit upon it, prevent its spread and development. In the resolution of the seventh plenum, there is no demand for the arming of the workers, no summons to struggle against the counter-revolutionary General Staff. The troops of Chiang Kaishek are described in this resolution as a revolutionary army. No call is given for the creation of a daily Communist Press, and it is not even stated clearly and definitely that we must have a genuinely independent Chinese Communist party. To complete it all, the seventh plenum urged the Communists to enter the national government, a step which under the existing circumstances could only bring the greatest conceivable disaster.
The resolution of the International says: “The apparatus of the national revolutionary government (that is, the government of Chiang Kai-shek) offers a very real road to solidarity with the peasants.” In the same place it says (this was in November 1926) that “even certain strata of the big bourgeoisie (!) may still for a certain time march hand in hand with the revolution”.
The resolution of the seventh plenum passed over in silence the fact that the Central Committee of the Chinese party, after March 1926, gave an undertaking not to criticize Sun Yat-senism, renounced its elementary rights as an independent workers’ party, adopted a Cadet agrarian programme, and finally permitted the secretary of its Central Committee, Comrade Chen Du-hsiu in an open letter dated July 4, 1926, to recognize Sun Yat-sen-ism as the “common faith” of the workers and the bourgeoisie in the national movement.
At approximately the same time the most responsible Russian comrades were giving advice to the effect that the development of a civil war in the country might weaken the fighting capacity of the Kuomintang. In other words, they officially forbade the development of an agrarian revolution.
On April 5, 1927, when the situation, it might seem, was already sufficiently clear. Comrade Stalin, at a meeting of the Moscow party organization in the Hall of Columns, announced that Chiang Kai-shek was a warrior against imperialism, that Chiang Kai-shek submitted to the discipline of the Kuomintang and was therefore our trusted ally. In the middle of May 1927, when the situation had become still more clear, Comrade Stalin announced that the Kuomintang in Wuhan was a “revolutionary Kuomintang”, a “revolutionary centre purged of right elements”.
The eighth enlarged plenum of the executive committee of the Communist International (May 1927) could not find the strength to correct these Menshevik mistakes.
The Opposition introduced at this eighth plenum the following statement:
The plenum would act correctly if it crossed out Bukharin’s resolution altogether and replaced it with a resolution consisting of the following brief lines: The peasants and workers should not trust the leaders of the left Kuomintang, but should create their own Soviets in union with the soldiers. The soviets should arm the wo~kers and the vanguard of the peasants. The Communist party should maintain complete independence, should establish a daily Press, and should direct the setting-up of soviets. The land should be taken away from the landlords at once. The reactionary bureaucracy should be overthrown immediately. Traitor generals, and counter. revolutionists in general, should be dealt with on the spot. The general course should be towards the establishment of a democratic dictatorship through the Sovicts of workers’ and peasants’ deputies.
The attempt of the Opposition to warn the party that the Kuomintang in Wuhan was not by any means a revolutionary Kuomintang, was denounced by Stalin and Bukharin as “a struggle against the party”, an “attack upon the Chinese revolution”, etc.
Dispatches stating the facts as to the real course of the revolution and the counter-revolution in China were concealed and falsified. Things went so far that the central organ of our Party announced the disarmament of the workers by the Chinese generals, under the headline “Fraternization of the Soldiers with the Workers”. In mockery of Lenin’s teaching. Stalin asserted that the slogan of “Soviets” in China would mean the demand for an immediate formation of the proletarian dictatorship. As a matter of fact Lenin, as long ago as in the revolution of 1905, advanced the slogan of Soviets as organs of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasants. The slogan of Soviets for China, proposed at the proper time by the Opposition, was met by Stalin and Bukharin with an accusation of “aiding and abetting the counter-revolution”, etc. When the centres of the revolt of the workers and peasants were smashed by “our generals, the “revolutionary” generals, Stalin and Bukharin, in order to cover up their own bankruptcy, suddenly advanced the slogan of “Soviets” for China – and then forgot it again the next morning.
At first the Chinese Communist party was declared to be “a model section of the International”, and the slightest criticism of it from the Opposition – at a time when its mistakes might still have been corrected – was suppressed and denounced as a “spiteful attack” upon the Chinese party. Afterward, when the dismal failure of Martynov-Stalin-Bukharin became perfectly clear, they attempted to throw all the blame upon the young Chinese Communist party.
At first they staked everything upon Chiang Kai-shek, then upon Tang Sheng-chi, then upon Feng Yu-hsiang, then the “tried and true” Wang Ching-wei. One after the other every one of these hangmen of the workers and peasants was hailed as a “warrior against imperialism” and “our” ally.
This Menshevik policy is now being completed by the frank and open castration of the revolutionary teaching of Lenin. Stalin-Bukharin and the “younger school” are now occupied with “proving” that the teachings of Lenin on the national revolutionary movement amount in effect to a gospel of “union with the bourgeoisie”.
In 1920, at the Second Congress of the Communist International, Lenin said:
There has occurred a certain drawing together of the bourgeois classes of the imperialist and colonial countries, such that very often, and indeed in the majority of cases, the bourgeoisie of the oppressed country, although it supports the national movement, at the same time fights in union with the imperialist bourgeoisie against all revolutionary movements and revolutionary classes.
How Lenin would denounce these people who dare refer to him today for justification of their Menshevik policy of union with Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei. Lenin himself spoke of this very thing in March 1917:
“Our revolution is bourgeois and therefore the workers should support the bourgeoisie,” say the good-for-nothing politicians from the camp of the liquidators. “Our revolution is bourgeois,” say we Marxists. “therefore the workers ought to open the eyes of the whole people to the deceit of the bourgeois politicians and teach the people not to believe the words of these politicians, but to rely on their own strength, on their own organization, on their own unity, on their own arms and ammunition.”
There could be no greater crime against the international proletariat than this attempt to represent Lenin as the apostle of “alliance with the bourgeoisie”. You will rarely find in the history of revolutionary struggle a case where Marxist predictions were confirmed so swiftly and so accurately as were the views of the Opposition on the problems of the Chinese revolution in 1926-1927.
A study of the course of events in the Chinese revolution and the causes of its defeat is the urgent and immediate task of Communists throughout the world.
These questions will tomorrow become questions of life and death for the working-class movement, not only in China but in India and other Eastern countries – and thus, for the entire international proletariat. In the debates on these questions which touch the very foundations of the Marxian world-view, will be formed the genuine Bolshevik cadres of the coming revolution.
The Partial Stabilization of Capitalism and the Tactics of the Communist International[edit source]
One of the fundamental tenets of Bolshevism is that the epoch beginning with World War I and our revolution is the epoch of the socialist revolution. The Communist International was founded as a “party of world revolution”. A recognition of this fact was recorded in the “twenty-one points”. And it was primarily along this line that the Communists split with the Social Democrats, “Independents” and Mensheviks of all sorts and kinds.
A recognition of the fact that the war and October opened an epoch of world revolution does not mean, of course, that at every given moment we have on hand an immediately revolutionary situation. In certain periods, in individual countries, and in individual branches of production, “dying capitalism” (Lenin) is capable of a partial re-establishment of its economy and even a further development of its productive forces. The epoch of world revolution will have its periods of rise and fall. So much the greater will be the importance of the preparedness of the working class and its party, the degree of influence exercised by counter-revolutionary Social Democracy, the correct leadership of the Comintern. But this ebb and flow of the revolution will not change the fundamental Leninist evaluation of the present historical epoch taken as a whole. Only this evaluation can form the basis of the revolutionary strategy of the Communist International.
Nevertheless, as a result of a series of defeats of the international revolutionary movement and the pessimistic moods growing out of them, the Stalin group, unnoticeably even to itself, has arrived at a completely “new” and essentially Social-Democratic appraisal of the present epoch. The whole “theory” of socialism in one country derives fundamentally from the assumption that the “stabilization” of capitalism will endure for a series of decades. This whole “theory” is essentially a product of the degenerate mood of the apostles of “stabilization”. It is no accident that the “theory” of socialism in one country has been welcomed by the Socialist-Revolutionaries, both right and left. Chernov himself has written on this theme about the “Communist populism” of Stalin and Bukharin. The organ of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries wrote: “Stalin and Bukharin affirm, exactly like Narodniks, that socialism can win in one country”. The Socialist-Revolutionaries support this theory because they see in it a renunciation of the tactics of world revolution.
In the resolution of the Fourteenth Party Congress, adopted on the report of Stalin, the following obviously incorrect statement is made: “In the sphere of international relations we have a reinforcement and lengthening of the ‘breathing spell’, which is transforming itself into a whole period.” At the seventh enlarged plenum of the executive committee of the Communist International (December 7, 1926), Stalin in his report based the whole policy of the International upon the same radically incorrect evaluation of the world situation. This evaluation has already proved quite obviously incorrect.
The resolution of the joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Committee (July-August 1927) speaks without the slightest qualification of the technical, economic, and political stabilization of capitalism. This brings the Stalinist evaluation of the world situation very much nearer to that of the leaders of the Second International (Otto Bauer, Hilferding, Kautsky, and others).
Since the Fourteenth Congress something over a year and a half has passed. During that time, taking only the most important events, we have had the general strike in Britain, the gigantic events of the Chinese revolution, the workers’ uprising in Vienna. These events, irresistibly springing from the very conditions of the present “stabilization”, show us how much disruptive material has been accumulated by capitalism, how unstable its “stabilization” is. These events run straight against the “theory” of socialism in one country.
The reverse side of the “stabilization” of capitalism is the unemployed population of 20 million, the colossal idleness of the productive apparatus, the insane growth of military preparations, the extreme shakiness of international economic relations. Nothing so surely reveals the vanity of the hope for a long peaceful period as the present new danger of war that hangs over Europe. It is the petty bourgeois who dreams about stabilization for “decades”, blinded as he is by the victory of capitalism over the workers, blinded by the technical, economic, and political successes of capitalism. But the real facts are developing in the direction of a war which will explode every “stabilization”. And moreover the working class and the oppressed colonial masses of the East are attempting time and time again to overthrow violently this “stabilization”. Now in Britain, now in China, now in Vienna. A General Strike in Britain – and only 5,000 members in the British Communist Party! A workers’ insurrection in Vienna, with enough victims for a whole revolution – and only 6,000 members in the Austrian Communist party! A military uprising of the worker and peasant masses in China – and the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party turns out to be a mere appendix to the bourgeois leadership of the Kuomintang! These are the crying contradictions of the present world situation. These are the facts which support and prolong the “stabilization” of capitalism. Our greatest problem is to help the Communist parties raise themselves to the height of the gigantic demand which the present epoch makes upon them. But this assumes, in the first place, a correct understanding of the character of the world situation on the part of the Communist International itself.
Our international Communist party (the Communist International) ought to give itself the task of consolidating the whole international working class for the struggle to prevent war, to defend the Soviet Union, to transform an imperialist war into a war for socialism. To this end the Communist worker ought above all to win over the revolutionary-minded worker who is non-Communist, non-party, Social-Democrat, syndicalist, anarchist, trade unionist, and also that honest worker who is still a member of a purely bourgeois organization. “By the united workers’ front must be understood the unity of all the workers who desire to struggle against capitalism, and that includes the workers still following the anarcho-syndicalists, etc. In the Latin countries, the number of these workers is still considerable.” This was the resolution of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, in Lenin’s time. It retains its full force and applicability today. The present activities of the leaders of the Second International and the Amsterdam Trade Union International, make it perfectly clear that their conduct in a future war will exceed, in scoundrelism and unscrupulous betrayal, the role they played in 1914-1918. Paul-Boncour (France) has introduced a law betraying the workers in advance into the hands of a bourgeois dictator in war time. The General Council of the Trades Union Congress (Britain) is defending the murderers of Volkov and giving its benediction to the shipping of troops to China. Kautsky (Germany) is advocating an armed insurrection against the Soviet power in Russia, and the Central Committee of German Social Democracy is organizing the “grenade campaign”. The Social-Democratic ministers of Finland and Latvia, and the leaders of the Polish Socialist Party, are perpetually ready to support a war against the Soviet Union. The leaders of the American official trade union organization are talking the language of the most venomous reactionaries, fighting openly against recognition of the Soviet Union. The Balkan “socialists” are supporting the hangmen of “their workers and will always be ready to support any campaign against the “foreign” Soviet Union. The Austrian Social-Democratic leaders are “for the Soviet Union” in words, but people who have helped their own fascists drown in blood the workers’ insurrection of Vienna will obviously, at the decisive moment, be on the side of the capitalists. The Russian Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries are not advocating intervention against the Soviet Union, only because there are not yet any strong powers ready to intervene. The leaders of so-called “Left Social-Democracy”, keeping concealed the counter-revolutionary essence of their opinions, are the chief danger, because they more than anybody else prevent the workers who are following the Social-Democratic banner from decisively breaking with these agents of the bourgeoisie in the workers’ movement. Former members of the Communist International (such as Katz, Schwartz, Korsch, Rosenberg) are playing the same traitorous role, having broken with Communism by the road of ultra-leftism.
Flirting with these Social-Democratic leaders (absolutely anti-revolutionary in all their shades, from the open rights to the pretended “lefts”) will become more and more dangerous as war draws near. The tactic of the united front should under no conditions be interpreted as a bloc with the traitors of the General Council of the TUC, or as a rapprochement with Amsterdam. Such a policy weakens and confuses the working class, increases the prestige of the indubitable traitors, and prevents the maximum consolidation of our own forces. The wrong course, summed up in the phrase of Stalin, “Fire to the left”, has brought it about in the last year or two that the predominating role of leadership in the most important sections of the International has passed, against the will of the Communist workers, into the hands of the right wing. (This has happened in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy and Britain.)
The policy of these dominating Right groups, directed towards cutting off the whole left wing of the Communist International, is weakening the power of the International and preparing ominous dangers.
In particular the cutting off of the Urbahns group in Germany was dictated by this policy of getting rid of the whole left wing of the International. Unduly emphasizing certain sharply polemical phrases used by the Left partisans of Urbahns and Maslov, in response to those who slandered and baited them without conscience as “renegades”, “counter-revolutionarists”, “agents of Chamberlain”, etc., the Stalin group is obstinately pushing the German Left along the road of a second party. The Stalin group is trying its best to bring it about that a split in the ranks of the German Communists shall become a completed fact.
In reality, upon all fundamental questions of the international working-class movement, the Urbahns group is defending, and at the decisive minute it will indubitably continue to defend to the last ditch, the Soviet Union. It embraces hundreds of thousands of old rank-and-file worker Bolsheviks, bound up with the broad masses of the proletariat. It has the sympathy of many thousands of working-class Communists who have remained in the German Communist party.
Re-admittance into the International of all these expelled comrades, who acknowledge the authority of the congress of the International – and first among them the Urbahns group – is the first step towards correcting the moves made by Stalin towards a split in the International. In his Left-Wing Communism, Lenin, exposing the mistakes of the real “ultra-leftists”, wrote that the chief enemy of Bolshevism within the workers’ movement is and remains opportunism. “This enemy remains the chief one also on the international scale.” At the Second Congress of the International, Lenin added to this the statement that “in comparison with this task, it will be an easy task to correct ‛mistakes“ of the left tendency in Communism”. When he spoke of the “left”, Lenin had in mind the ultra-leftists; whereas Stalin, when he speaks of the struggle against ultra-leftism, has in view the revolutionary Leninists.
A decisive struggle with the right opportunist movement as the chief enemy, and a correction of the mistakes of the “left” tendency – that was the slogan of Lenin. We, the Oppositionists, propose the same slogan.
The power of “socialist” opportunism is in the last analysis the power of capitalism. During the first years after the war crisis (1918-1921) when capitalism was swiftly sliding into the abyss, official Social Democracy was weakening and falling with it. These years of partial stabilization of capitalism bring with them a temporary strengthening of Social Democracy. The defeat of the Italian workers in 1920-1921, of the German proletariat in 1921-1923, the defeat of the great strike in Britain in 1926, and the defeat of the Chinese proletariat in 1927, whatever may have been their causes, have themselves become the cause of a temporary depression of the revolutionary wave in the upper levels of the proletariat. They have for a certain period strengthened Social Democracy at the expense of the Communist party. And within the Communist party they are giving a temporary dominance to the right wing at the expense of the left. The role of the labour aristocracy, the labour bureaucracy and its petty-bourgeois associates, becomes at such a period especially great and especially reactionary.
To a certain extent these processes must inevitably affect the Communist party of the Soviet Union. The administrative “centre” has opened its “fire” exclusively upon the left and by purely mechanical methods has created a new inter-relation of forces, still more to the disadvantage of the left, Leninist wing. A situation has been created in which as a fact the party never votes, but only the apparatus.
Such are the general causes of the weakening of the influence of the Leninist wing upon the policies of the Communist International, the Russian Communist party, and the Soviet state. In consequence of it, the right semi-Social-Democratic elements, who long after October were still in the ranks of the enemy, and were at last admitted into the Communist International somewhat as though on probation (Martynov, Smeral, Rafes, D. Petrovsky, Pepper, and others) are more and more frequently and more and more loudly speaking in the name of the International. And to them must be added the names of downright adventurers like Heinz Neumann and others of the same kind. In the masses, however, the elements of a new movement to the left, a new revolutionary revival, are already gathering together. The Opposition is engaged in preparing for that new day, both theoretically and politically.
The Principal Conclusion[edit source]
(1) In the dominant circles of the majority, under the influence of our break with Britain and other difficulties, both foreign and domestic, such “plans” are being prepared as the following:
- To recognize the debts.
- To annul more or less the monopoly of foreign trade.
- To withdraw from China – that is, withdraw “for a time” our support of the Chinese revolution and of the national-revolutionary movement in general.
- To execute within the country a right “manœuvre – that is, expand the NEP a little.
At this price it is hoped to ward off the danger of war, improve the international situation of the Soviet Union, and get rid of (or at least reduce) the international difficulties. The whole “plan” is based upon the one assumption that capitalism is assured for decades.
In reality this would not be a “manœuvre”, but in the present situation a full capitulation on the part of the Soviet power: through the “political NEP”, the “neo-NEP”, back to capitalism. The imperialists would accept all our concessions and proceed so much the more swiftly to the new attack and even to war. The kulaks, the Nepmen and the bureaucrats, taking cognizance of our concessions, would the more insistently organize all the anti-Soviet forces against our party. Such a “tactic” upon our part would result in the closest possible union of our new “bourgeoisie” with the foreign bourgeoisie. The economic development of the Soviet Union would fall under the complete control of international capital – a penny of loan for a ruble of slavery. And the working class and the bulk of the peasants would begin to lose their faith in the might of the Soviet state, their faith that the Soviet state knows where it is leading the people.
We are bound to try to “buy ourselves off” from war, if that is possible. But just for that reason we must be strong and united, unwaveringly defend the tactics of the world revolution, and reinforce the International. Only thus have we a serious chance of gaining a really long postponement of war without paying a price that would undermine the foundations of our power, and at the same time, in case war proves inevitable, of gaining the support of the international proletariat and winning.
Lenin made certain economic concessions to the imperialists in order to buy us off from war or to attract international capital upon acceptable terms. But neither in these circumstances nor in the hardest moments of the revolution did Lenin ever admit the idea of abolishing the monopoly of foreign trade, of offering political rights to the kulak, of weakening our support to the world revolution in general.
We must, first of all, wholly and without reserve affirm and reinforce our support to the international revolution. We must offer a firm resistance to all “stabilization” tendencies, to all this pseudo-statesmanship which expresses itself in the remarks that we had no business “busting-in in China”, that we had better “get out of China as quick as we can”, that if we will behave ourselves “reasonably” they will “leave us alone”, etc. The “theory” of socialism in one country is now playing a directly disintegrating role and clearly hindering the consolidation of the international forces of the proletariat around the Soviet Union. It is lulling the workers of other countries, dulling their sense of the real dangers.
(2) Another task of equal importance is to consolidate the ranks of our party, to put an end to the open speculation of the imperialist bourgeoisie and the leaders of Social Democracy on a split, or an amputation, or “cutting-off”, etc. All this has the most direct connection with the question of war, for at present the “probing” of the imperialists is being carried out chiefly along this moral-political line. All the organs of the international bourgeoisie and the Social Democrats are now showing a quite unusual interest in our inner-party disputes. They are openly encouraging and spurring on the present majority of the Central Committee to exclude the Opposition from the leading organs of the party, and if possible from the party, and if possible, indeed, to put them out of the way altogether. Beginning with the richest bourgeois newspaper, the New York Times, and ending with the most successfully wriggling paper of the Second International, the Vienna Arbeiter Zeitung (Otto Bauer), all the organs of the bourgeoisie and the Social Democrats are saluting the “government of Stalin” for its struggle against the Opposition. They are urging this government to prove still further its “statesmanlike intelligence” by decisively cutting off these Oppositional “propagandists of international revolution”. Other things being equal, a war will come so much the later in proportion as these hopes of the enemy for a “cutting off” of the Opposition, etc., remain unrealized. Moreover, we can buy ourselves off from a war, if that is possible – and conquer in the war, if we have to fight – only if we preserve complete unity; if we disappoint the hopes of the imperialists for a split or an amputation. Such a thing would benefit only the capitalists.
(3) It is necessary to straighten our class line in the international workers’ movement, stop the struggle against the left wing in the International, restore to the International those excluded members who accept the decisions of the congresses; and once and for all put an end to the policy of a “hearty accord” with the traitorous leaders of the British General Council. A break with the General Council will have the same significance
in the present situation as in 1914 the break with the International Socialist Bureau of the Second International. Lenin demanded in an ultimatum that the break be made by every revolutionist. To remain in union with such a General Council means now as then to help the counter-revolutionary leaders of the Second International.
(4) We must decisively correct our line in the national-revolutionary movement – first of all in China, but also in a series of other countries. We must liquidate the policy of Martynov-Stalin-Bukharin and return to the course outlined by Lenin in the resolutions of the Second and Fourth Congresses of the Communist International. Otherwise, instead of being an accelerator we shall become a brake upon the national-revolutionary movement and inevitably lose the sympathy of the workers and peasants of the East. The Chinese Communist party must dissolve all organizational and political dependence upon the Kuomintang. The Communist International must expel the Kuomintang from its ranks.
(5) We must consistently, systematically, and stubbornly wage the struggle for peace. We must postpone war, “buy ourselves off from the war threat”. Everything possible and permissible must be done to this end (see point 1). At the same time we must get ready for war immediately, not folding our arms for one instant. And our first duty is to put an end to all speculation as to whether there exists any close danger of war.
(6) We must firmly correct our class line within the country. If war is inevitable, only a strictly Bolshevik policy can win: the worker and farm-hand, with the support of the poor peasant, in alliance with the middle peasant, against the kulak, the Nepman, the bureaucrat.
(7) An all-sided preparation of our entire economy, budget, etc., for the event of war. Capitalism is entering into a new period of disturbances.
A war with the Soviet Union, like a war with China, will mean a series of catastrophes to international capitalism. The war of 1914-1918 was a gigantic “accelerator” (Lenin) of the socialist revolution. New wars, and especially a war against the Soviet Union, in which with a correct policy on our side we should win the sympathy of the labouring masses of the whole earth, can become a still greater “accelerator” of the downfall of world capitalism. Socialist revolutions will develop
Chapter 10. The Red Army and the Red Fleet[edit source]
THE international situation is bringing more and more to the front the question of the defence of the Soviet Union. The party, the working class, and the peasantry ought to give renewed and greater attention to the Red Army and the Red Fleet.
All the facts of our economy, politics, and culture, are connected with the problem of defence. The army is a pattern of the whole social structure. It reflects, in the sharpest possible manner, not only the strong, but the weak sides of the existing regime. Experience teaches that in this sphere least of all is it safe to rely upon appearances. Here especially it is better to err upon the side of triple tests and self-criticism, than on the side of easy-going trust and confidence.
The question of the mutual relation of classes in the country, and the true policy of the party in this sphere, has a decisive significance for the inner solidarity of the army and for the mutual relations between the commanding staff and the body of the soldiers. The question of industrialization has decisive significance for the technical resources of our defence. All the measures advocated in the present platform–in the sphere of international politics and the international workers’ movement, industry, agriculture, the Soviet system, the national question, the party, and the League of Communist Youth–all these questions are of first-class importance in strengthening the Red Army and the Red Fleet.
Chapter 11. Real and Pretended Disagreements[edit source]
NOTHING testifies so surely to the erroneous political course of the Stalin group as their unceasing determination to quarrel not with our real opinions, but with imaginary opinions which we do not and never did hold.
When the Bolsheviks were disputing with the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries, and other petty-bourgeois tendencies, the Bolsheviks expounded before the workers the actual system of opinions advanced by their opponents. But when the Mensheviks or Socialist-Revolutionaries disputed with the Bolsheviks, instead of refuting their real opinions they would attribute to the Bolsheviks things which they had never said. The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries could not expound the views of the Bolsheviks before the workers with any approach to justice, because in that case the workers would have supported the Bolsheviks. The whole mechanism of the class struggle reduced these petty-bourgeois groups to the necessity of opposing the Bolsheviks by calling them “conspirators”, “allies of the counter-revolution”, and later “agents of Wilhelm”. In the same way now, the petty-bourgeois deviation within our own party cannot struggle against our Leninist views otherwise than by attributing to us things which we never thought or said. The Stalin group knows perfectly well that if we could defend our true opinions with any approach to freedom, an immense majority of the members of our party would support us.
The most elementary conditions for an honest inner-party debate are not observed. On the question of the Chinese revolution, a question of world importance, the Central Committee has not printed up to the present time one word of what the Opposition says. After shutting the lid down tight on the party, and cutting off the Opposition from the party press, the Stalin group carries on against us an uninterrupted argument, attributing to us from day to day a continually increasing series of stupidities and crimes. The party member becomes every day less inclined to believe these accusations.
(1) When we state that the present stabilization, of capitalism is not a stabilization for decades, and that our epoch remains an epoch of imperialist wars and social revolutions (Lenin), the Stalin group attributes to us a denial of all elements of stabilization in capitalism.
(2) When we say, in the words of Lenin that for the construction of a socialist society in our country, a victory of the proletarian revolution is necessary in one or more of the advanced capitalist countries, that the final victory of socialism in one country, and above all a backward country, is impossible, as Marx, Engels, and Lenin have all proved, the Stalin group makes the wholly false assertion that we “do not believe” in socialism and in socialist construction in the Soviet Union.
(3) When, following Lenin, we point out the growing bureaucratic distortions of our proletarian state, the Stalin group attributes to us the opinion that our Soviet state is not proletarian at all. When we announce before the entire Communist International that “anyone who, attempting either directly or indirectly to support us, shall at the same time deny 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” – the Stalin group conceals our announcement and continues its slander against us.
(4) When we point out that Thermidorian elements with a sufficiently serious social basis are growing in the country; when we demand that the party leadership offers a more systematic, firm, and planful resistance to these phenomena and their influence upon certain links in our party, the Stalin group attributes to us the announcement that the party is Thermidorian, and that the proletarian revolution has degenerated. When we announce to the entire International: “It is not true that we accuse the majority of our party of a right deviation; we merely think that there are right tendencies and right groups in the Russian Communist party which now have a disproportionate influence, but which the party will overcome” – the Stalin group conceals our announcement and continues to slander us.
(5) When we point to the enormous growth of the kulak, when we, following Lenin, continue to assert that “the kulak cannot peacefully grow into socialism”, that he is the most dangerous enemy of the proletarian revolution – the Stalin group accuses us of wishing to “rob the peasants”.
(6) When we draw the attention of our party to the fact of the strengthening position of private capital, of the immoderate growth of its accumulation and its influence in the country, the Stalin group accuses us of attacking the NEP and demanding a restoration of War Communism.
(7) When we point to the incorrectness of the party policy as to the material condition of the workers, the inadequacy of the measures against unemployment and the housing shortage; and especially when we point out that the share of non-proletarian elements in the national income is growing immoderately – they say that we are guilty of a “guild-socialist” deviation, and of “demagogy”.
(8) When we point to the systematic lagging of industry behind the demands of the national economy, with all its inevitable consequences – disproportion, goods famine, rupture of the link between town and country – they call us “superindustrializers”.
(9) When we point to the incorrect price policy, which is not reducing the high cost of living but making possible frenzied profiteering by the private capitalist, the Stalin group accuses us of advocating a policy of raising prices. When a year ago we announced to the entire International: “The Opposition never in any of its utterances demanded or proposed a raising of prices, but saw the chief mistake of our economic policy exactly in the fact that it does not lead with sufficient energy to a reduction of the goods famine with which the high retail prices are inevitably bound up” – our announcement was concealed and the slander continued.
(10) When we speak against the “hearty accord” with the traitors to the General Strike, the counter-revolutionists of the British General Council, who are openly playing the role of Chamberlain’s agents, we are accused of being opposed to the work of Communists within the trade unions and against the tactic of a united front.
(11) When we oppose the entry of the trade unions of the Soviet Union into the Amsterdam Trade Union International, or any kind of flirting with the leaders of the Second International, we are accused of a “social-democratic deviation”.
(12) When we oppose a policy based on the Chinese generals, when we oppose the subjection of the Chinese working class to the bourgeois Kuomintang, when we oppose the Menshevik tactics of Martynov, we are accused of being against “the agrarian revolution in China”, of being “in cahoots with Chiang Kai-shek”.
(13) When, on the basis of our evaluation of the world situation, we come to the conclusion that war is approaching, and warn the party of this in good time, the Stalinists bring forward against us the dishonest accusation that we “desire war”.
(14) When, true to the teaching of Lenin, we point out that the approach of war demands only the more insistently a firm, definite and clear-cut class policy, the Stalinists shamelessly assert that we do not want to defend the Soviet Union, that we are “conditional defenders”, semi-defeatists, etc.
(15) When we point out the indubitable fact that the entire world Press of the capitalists and Social Democrats is supporting Stalin’s struggle against the Opposition in the Russian Communist party, praising Stalin for his repression of the left wing, and summoning him to cut off the Opposition and expel it from the Central Committee and from the party, Pravda and the entire party and Soviet press day after day deceitfully pretend that the bourgeoisie and the social democracy are “for the Opposition”.
(16) When we oppose the passing of leadership in the Communist International into the hands of the right wing, and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of worker Bolsheviks, the Stalin group accuse us of attempting to split the Communist International.
(17) When, under the existing perverted party regime, Oppositionists who are devoted party members attempt to inform the membership of their real opinions, they are thrown out of the Russian Communist party. They are accused of “factionalism”. Proceedings are got up over alleged attempts to split the party. The most important party questions, instead of being discussed, are covered up with rubbish.
(18) But the favourite accusation of late years is the accusation that we believe in “Trotskyism”. We announced to the whole Communist International: “It is not true that we are defending Trotskyism. Trotsky has stated to the International that in all those questions of principle upon which he disputed with Lenin, Lenin was right – and particularly upon the question of permanent revolution and the peasantry.” That announcement, made to the whole Communist International, the Stalin group refuses to print. It continues to accuse us of “Trotskyism”. The above-quoted announcement relates, of course, only to those disagreements with Lenin which existed in fact and not to those “differences” unscrupulously invented by Stalin and Bukharin. The relation which they pretend to discover between our differences in the remote past and the practical disagreements which arose in the course of the October Revolution is imaginary.
We note as unfair fighting the attempt of the Stalin group to distract attention from the views of the Opposition, as expounded in the present platform, by references to earlier disagreements between the groups existing in 1923 and 1925. These disagreements have now been resolved on the basis of Leninism. The mistakes and exaggerations committed by both groups of Bolsheviks in the dispute of 1923-1924, as a result of a series of obscurities in the state of affairs in the party and in the country, are now corrected, and offer no obstacle to a hearty co-operation in the struggle against opportunism and for Leninism.
By tearing quotations from their context, by a crude and dishonest misuse of partially-selected old polemical statements of Lenin’s, and by hiding from the party other far more recent statements, by a direct falsification of party history and facts of yesterday, and still more important, by distorting and directly altering all the questions at present in dispute, the group of Stalin and Bukharin, departing farther and farther from the principles of Lenin, are trying to deceive the party into believing that this is a struggle between Leninism and Trotskyism. The struggle is, in actual fact, between Leninism and the opportunism of Stalin. In exactly the same way the revisionists, under pretence of a struggle against “Blanquism”, waged their battle against Marxism. Our whole-hearted joint struggle against the Stalin course has been possible only because we are all completely united in the desire and determination to defend the real Leninist proletarian course.
The present platform is the best answer to the accusation of “Trotskyism”. Every one who reads it through will know that it is based from the first to the last line on the teachings of Lenin. It is saturated with the genuine spirit of Bolshevism.
Let the party find out our real opinions. Let the party get acquainted with the genuine documents of our disagreements – and especially our disagreement upon that question of international historic importance, the Chinese revolution. Lenin taught us, in case of a disagreement, to believe nothing on anybody’s say-so, but to demand documents, listen to both of the contending sides, reject pretences, and find out conscientiously what the argument is about. We, the Opposition, repeat this advice of Lenin’s.
We must, once and for all, put an end to the very possibility of what happened at the Fourteenth Congress, when the disagreements were suddenly landed in the lap of the party two or three days before the congress. We must create the conditions for an honest dispute and an honest decision on the real subject of the disagreement, as this was always done during Lenin’s time.
Chapter 12. Against Opportunism – For the Unity of the Party[edit source]
WE have frankly set forth our opinion of the serious mistakes committed by the majority of the Central Committee in all the fundamental spheres of foreign and domestic policy. We have shown how these mistakes of the Central Committee have weakened our party, which is the fundamental instrument of the revolution. We have shown that, in spite of it all, our party can correct its policy from within. But in order to correct the policy, it is necessary clearly and candidly to define the character of the mistakes committed by the party leadership.
The mistakes made have been opportunist mistakes. Opportunism in its developed form – according to the classic definition of Lenin – is a bloc formed by the upper strata of the working class with the bourgeoisie and directed against the majority of the working class. In the conditions now existing in the Soviet Union, opportunism in its completed form would be an aspira. tion of the upper strata of the working class towards compromise with the developing new bourgeoisie (kulaks and Nepmen) and with world capitalism, at the expense of the interests of the broad mass of the workers and the peasant poor.
When we note the presence of such tendencies in certain circles of our party – in some places just appearing and in others fully developed – it is absurd to accuse us, upon that ground, of slandering the party. It is exactly to the party that we are appealing against these tendencies which threaten it. It is equally absurd to pretend that we are accusing this or that section of the party or the Central Committee of disloyalty to the revolution, of betraying the interests of the proletariat. A false political line can be dictated by the most sincere concern for the interests of the working class. Even the most extreme representatives of the right wing are convinced that the compromises with bourgeois elements into which they are prepared to enter are necessary in the interests of the workers and peasants, that they are merely another of those manœuvres which Lenin considered entirely permissible. Even that right group which represents an open tendency to abandon the proletarian revolution does not consciously desire a Thermidor. And this is still more true of the “centre”, which is carrying out a typical policy of illusion, self-consolation, and self-deception.
Stalin and his closest adherents are convinced that, with their powerful apparatus, they can outwit, instead of conquering in a struggle, all the forces of the bourgeoisie. Stalin and the Stalinists undoubtedly believed in all sincerity that they were “playing” for a limited period of time with the Chinese generals, and that they would throw them away like a squeezed lemon after having used them in the interests of the revolution. Stalin and the Stalinists undoubtedly believed in all sincerity that they would “play” with the Purcells and not vice versa. Stalin and the Stalinists believe in all sincerity that they can “freely” make concessions to “their own” bourgeoisie, and afterward with equal freedom take these concessions back.
In their bureaucratic self-conceit, the Stalinists “facilitate” their manoeuvres by cutting off the party, in the essence of the matter, from all participation in political decisions and thus avoiding its resistance. The Stalin officialdom decides and acts and then lets the party “digest” its decisions. But this process weakens, if it does not paralyse, those very forces which might be deployed in a good political manoeuvre, both necessary and timely – or which might weaken and remove the bad consequences of manoeuvres by the leaders which were obviously bad. Thus there is a cumulative result of the opportunist tendencies of the right wing of the Central Committee and the manoeuvres of its centrist group, a result which in its sum total means: a weakening of the international position of the USSR, a weakening of the position of the proletariat in relation to other classes within the Union, a relative deterioration of its material conditions of life, a weakening of its bond with the peasant poor, threatening its alliance with the middle peasants, a weakening of its role in the state machine, a slowing down of the tempo of industrialization, It is these consequences of the policy of the majority, of the majority of the Central Committee, and not its intentions, that the Opposition had in view when it raised the question of the danger of a Thermidor – that is, a departure from the rails of the proletarian revolution on to petty-bourgeois rails. The enormous difference in the history and character of our party in comparison with the parties of the Second International is clear to everybody. The Russian Communist party has been tempered in the fires of three revolutions. It has seized and held power against a world of enemies. It has organized the Third International. Its fate is the fate of the first victorious proletarian revolution. The revolution determines the tempo of its inner life. All intellectual processes within the party, taking place under high-class pressure, have a tendency to ripen and develop swiftly. Just for this reason it is necessary for us to have in our party a timely and decisive struggle against every tendency to depart from the Leninist line.
The opportunist tendencies in the Russian Communist party have, in the present circumstances, deep objective roots:
- The international bourgeois encirclement and the temporary partial stabilization of capitalism give rise to “stabilizational” moods.
- The New Economic Policy, undoubtedly necessary as a road toward socialism, having partially resurrected capitalism, revives also the forces hostile to socialism.
- The petty-bourgeois tide in a country with an enormous majority of peasants cannot fail to overflow not only into the Soviets, but also into the party.
- The fact that the party has a monopoly in the political field, a thing absolutely necessary to the revolution, creates a further series of special dangers. The Eleventh Congress of the party, in Lenin’s time, pointed out directly and candidly that there existed already in our party whole groups of people (from the well-off peasants, the upper clerical strata and the intelligentsia) who would have been in the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties, it those parties were not illegal.
- The state machine operated by the party pours into the party in its turn much that is bourgeois and petty-bourgeois, infecting it with opportunism.
- Through the specialists and the upper categories of the clerical workers and intelligentsia, necessary as they are to our constructive work, there flows into our apparatus – state, economic, and party – a continual stream of non-proletarian influences.
That is why the Leninist Oppositional wing of the party sounds the alarm so insistently as to the obvious and daily increasing threatening deviations of the Stalin group. It is criminal light-mindedness to assert that the great past of the party, and its old cadres of Bolsheviks, constitute a guarantee in all circumstances and for all time against the danger of opportunistic degeneration. Such an idea has nothing whatever in common with Marxism.
It is not such ideas that Lenin taught. At the Eleventh Congress of the party Lenin said: “History knows degenerations of all kinds. To rely upon the conviction, loyalty, and other excellent spiritual qualities of individuals – that is not being serious in politics.”
The workers who constituted the immense majority of the socialist parties of the West before the imperialist war were undoubtedly opposed to an opportunist deviation. But they did not overcome in time the opportunistic mistakes of their leaders, which were not at first very great. They underestimated the significance of these mistakes. They did not understand that the first serious historical disturbance after that prolonged period of peaceful development which had given birth to so powerful a workers’ bureaucracy and aristocracy, would compel not only the opportunists but the centrists also to capitulate to the bourgeoisie, leaving the masses at that critical moment disarmed. If you can reproach the revolutionary Marxists, who were the left wing in the Second International before the war, with anything, it is not that they exaggerated the danger of opportunism when they called it a national-liberal labour policy, but that they relied too much upon the working-class composition of the socialist parties of those days. They relied upon the revolutionary instincts of the proletariat and upon the sharpening of class contradictions. They underestimated the real danger and mobilized the revolutionary rank and file against it with insufficient energy. We are not going to repeat that mistake. We are going to correct, in good time, the course of the party leadership. By that very fact we answer the charge that we desire to split our party and form a new one. The dictatorship of the proletariat imperiously demands a single and united proletarian party as the leader of the working masses and the poor peasantry. Such unity, unweakened by factional strife, is unconditionally necessary to the proletariat in the fulfilment of its historic mission. This can be realized only upon the basis of the teachings of Marx and Lenin, undiluted with personal interpretations and undistorted by revisionism.
In contending for a definite tempo of industrialization as the premise of our socialist construction, in contending against the growth of the kulak and his aspiration toward supremacy in the countryside, in contending for a timely improvement of the living conditions of the workers, for democracy within the party, the trade unions, and the Soviets – the Opposition contends not for ideas which might bring about a separation of the working class from its party, but on the contrary for a reinforcement of the foundations of a real unity in the All-Union Communist party. Without correcting the opportunist mistakes, you can have nothing but a show of unity, which will weaken the party before the attack of the growing bourgeoisie, and in the case of war compel it to reform its ranks on the march and under the fire of the enemy. When they find out our real views and proposals, the proletarian nucleus of the party – of this we are sure – will accept them and fight for them, not as “factional” slogans, but as the very banner of party unity.
Our party has not yet clearly recognized, and for that reason has not corrected, the mistakes of its leadership. The extraordinarily swift growth of our industry during the restoration period has been one of the fundamental causes of that opportunistic illusion which the majority of the Central Committee has systematically encouraged in the party and the working class. The first rapid betterment in the conditions of the workers, by comparison with their conditions during the civil war, gave birth in broad circles of the workers to the hope of a swift and painless overcoming of the contradictions of the NEP. This prevented the party from seeing in due season the danger of an opportunist deviation.
The growth of the Leninist Opposition in the party has impelled the worst elements of the bureaucracy to resort to methods heretofore unheard of in the practice of Bolshevism. Being no longer able to prevent by decree the discussion of political questions in the party branches, a part of the bureaucracy is now resorting – just before the Fifteenth Congress – to the creation of gangs whose job is to break up all discussions of party problems by means of shouting, whistling, putting out of lights, etc.
This attempt to introduce into our party methods of direct physical violence will arouse the indignation of all honest proletarian elements and will inevitably turn against its own organizers. No machination by the worst part of the party apparatus will succeed in separating the party mass from the Opposition. Behind the Opposition stand the Leninist traditions of our party, the experience of the whole international workers’ movement, the contemporary state of international politics and of our economic work of construction as seen by the international proletariat. Class contradictions, inevitably growing sharper after the restoration period, will more and more confirm our views of the way out of the present crisis. They will more and more consolidate the vanguard of the proletariat in the struggle for Leninism.
The growing danger of war is already impelling the worker member to think more deeply about the fundamental problems of the revolution. His thoughts will inevitably force him to enter actively into the work of correcting opportunist mistakes.
The working-class section of our party has been largely crowded out of the party leadership in late years. It has been subjected to the devastating influence of a long campaign of slander, whose goal has been to prove that left is right and right is left. This working-class section of the party will come to itself. It will find out what is really happening. It will take the fate of the party into its own hands. To help the vanguard of the workers in this process is the task of the Opposition. It is the task of this platform.
The most important, the most actual, question, and the one which troubles all the members of our party, is the question of party unity. And in truth it is upon this question that the further fate of the proletarian revolution depends. Innumerable class enemies of the proletariat are listening intently to our inner-party disputes and with unconcealed delight and impatience are awaiting a split in our ranks. A split in our party, a formation of two parties, would mean enormous danger to the revolution.
We, the Opposition, unqualifiedly condemn every attempt whatsoever to create a second party. The slogan of two parties is the slogan of the Stalin group in its effort to crowd out of the All-Union Communist party the Leninist Opposition. Our task is not to create a new party, but to correct the course of the All-Union Communist party. The proletarian revolution in the Soviet Union can win through to the end only with a united Bolshevik party. We are struggling within the Communist party for our views, and we decisively condemn the slogan, “Two parties”, as the slogan of adventurers. The slogan. “Two parties”, expresses on the one hand the desire of certain elements in the party apparatus for a split, and on the other, a mood of despair and a failure to comprehend that the task of Leninists is to win the victory of Lenin’s ideas within the party, notwithstanding all difficulties. Nobody who sincerely defends the line of Lenin can entertain the idea of “two parties” or play with the suggestion of a split. Only those who desire to replace Lenin’s course with some other can advocate a split or a movement along the two-party road.
We will struggle with all our force against the formation of two parties, for the dictatorship of the proletariat demands as its very core a single proletarian party. It demands a single party. It demands a proletarian party – that is, a party whose policy is determined by the interests of the proletariat and carried out by a proletarian nucleus. Correction of the line of our party, betterment of its social composition – this is not the two-party road, but the strengthening and guaranteeing of its unity as a revolutionary party of the proletariat.
On the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution, we express our profound conviction that the working class did not make countless sacrifices and overthrow capitalism in order to prove unequal now to the task of correcting the mistakes of its leadership, carrying the proletarian revolution forward with a firm hand, and defending the Soviet Union, which is the centre of the world revolution.
Against opportunism! Against a split! For the unity of the Leninist party!
- See The New Course.
- See The Draft Program of the Communist International. A Criticism of Fundamentals.
- See also The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International.
- Viestnik Finansol 1927, No.2, p.52.
- 11th Congress of the RCP(B), Volume XVII, p.428.
- Comrade Workers, Let’s Join in the Final and Decisive Battle, publications of the Lenin Institute, pp.1-2.
- Resolution of the Second Congress of the Communist International.
- Pravda, March 25, 1927.
- Review of the Economic Situation of the Youth in 1924-1925 and in 1925-1926.
- Central Bureau of Labour Statistics.
- An arshin is about 28 inches – Tr.
- Trud, August 27, 1927.
- Trud, August 4, 1927.
- Pravda, July 23, 1927.
- See material of the Moscow Committee, Reports of the General Workers’ Conferences, Informational Review, p.30, etc.
- Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism, 1920, Vol.XVII, p.118.
- Valuable Admissions of Pitrim Sorokin, Vol.XV, p.564.
- Bukharin: The Way to Socialism and the Worker-Peasant Union, p.49.
- Bukharin, idem, p.49.
- Pravda, April 24, 1925.
- Due to the growth of population and the splitting up of properties.Thirty-eight per cent of the peasant estates in the grain-producing areas buy additional grain.
- Statistical Review, 1727, No.4, p.15.
- Lenin, 3rd Congress of the Comintern, Volume XVIII, Chapter I, p.316.
- Politburo Minutes, March 3, 1927, pp.20-21.
- A verst equals 3,500 feet.
- Lenin, 11th Congress pof the RCP(B), Volume XVIII, Part II, p.33.
- A pood equals 36 lb. avoirdupois.
- A bureaucrat, high official in the Civil Service.
- Pravda, December 13, 1925.
- Lenin, To S.G Said-Galiev, July 20, 1921.
- Lenin, Speech at Meeting in Honour of Lenin’s 50th Birthday, Vol.XVII, p.112.
- Izvestia of the Central Committee, Nos.24, 25.
- See the Review of the Statistical Department of the Central Committee, June 10, 1927.
- See the chapter on the position of the workers and the trade unions.
- Report of the Fourteenth Congress, p.83.
- Speech of the Second Secretary of the Northern Caucasus Regional Committee of the Russian Communist Party in Molot, May 27, 1927
- See Pravda, June 4, 1926.
- Vol.IV, p.318.
- Lenin’s letter of December 25, 1922, and January 4, 1923.
- Lenin, Vol.XVIII, p.29.
- Thirteenth Congress.
- Resolution of the Tenth Party Conference, p.18.
- Better Less but Better, How to Reorganize the Worker’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate, On Co-operation
- Pravda, July 14,1927.
- Pravda, July 3, 1927.
- Vol.XVII, p.275.
- First Letter from Afar, Vol.XIV, Part I, p.11.
- Znamya Borby, Nos. 17 and 18, 1926.
- Report of the Fourteenth Congress, p.957.
- Verbatim report, p.12.
- Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism, Vol.XVII, p.124.
- Vol.XVII, p.267.
- See the Declaration by Zinoviev, Kamenev and Trotsky, December 15, 1926, at the seventh enlarged plenum of the Communist International, paragraph 1.
- Idem, paragraph 14.
- Idem, paragraph 5.
- See above-quoted declaration of Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Trotsky, December 15, 1926.
- 11th Congress of the RCP(B), Vol.XVIII, Part II, p.42.