Report on Five Years of the Russian Revolution and Perspectives for the World Revolution

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Author(s) Leon Trotsky
Written 14 November 1922

Collection(s): Inprecor

Following the congress, Trotsky published an edited version of this report, two-thirds longer than the version in the congress proceedings. The edited text is available in Trotsky, The First Five Years of the Communist International (New York: Pathfinder Press 1972), vol. 2, pp. 185–216.

Comrades, sisters and brothers: The great and central political goal of every revolutionary party is to conquer political power. In the Second International, this goal was, to use philosophical language, a regulative idea, that is, a rather flimsy thing that has little relationship to practice. Only in the last few years have we begun to learn on an international scale to make the conquest of political power a practical goal. And the degree to which this goal is no mere philosophical notion but a practical matter is shown by the fact that we in Russia have a definite date, 7 November 1917, on which the Communist Party, at the head of the working class, conquered political power in the state.

To tell the story of how power was won would take hours and hours, and that is certainly not my intention. But this story shows that we are dealing here not with events taking place automatically, by objective logic, but with entirely practical political efforts and measures.

In the moment of conquest of political power, our political tactics were heightened to revolutionary strategy in the most concrete sense of the word. On 7 November, this revolutionary strategy, which represented, as it were, the power of all our party’s previous politics, enabled it to conquer state power. That did not mean – as this became fully clear only later – that the civil war was at an end. On the contrary, only after the conquest of political power did our civil war begin on a broad scale. That fact is not merely of historical interest, for it is also a source of many important lessons for the West European and international parties.

Why did it happen that our civil war began in full force only after 7 November, and that we subsequently had to wage civil war in the north, south, east, and west for almost five years without interruption? That was a result of the fact that we conquered power with such ease. It has often been said that we took our possessing classes unawares. In a certain sense that is quite right. Politically, the country had just emerged at last from tsarist barbarism. The peasantry had almost no political experience and the petty bourgeoisie had only a bit. The middle bourgeoisie had gained more experience through the dumas [representative assemblies]; the aristocracy was organised to some extent through the zemstvos [local councils]. Thus the great reserves of counter-revolution – the rich peasants, at certain moments also the middle peasants, the middle bourgeoisie, the intellectuals, and the petty bourgeoisie as a whole – these reserves were so to speak almost intact, hardly even touched. Only when the bourgeoisie began to understand what it had lost by losing political power did it begin to strive with all its force. And here, of course, it was obliged to turn first of all to the aristocracy, the noble officers, and so on, in order to set the potential counter-revolutionary reserves in motion. Thus the protracted civil war was history’s revenge for the ease with which power fell into our hands.

However, all’s well that ends well! In the course of these five years, we did maintain power. The workers’ movement of the entire world can now conclude with some certainty that things will be much harder for your Communist parties before the conquest of power and much easier afterwards. In Germany, everything that can be mobilised against the working class will be thrown into action, not to mention Italy, where we have already today the accomplished counter-revolution, even before we have seen even a temporarily successful revolution. Thanks to the fiasco of the 1920 revolution, in which only a revolutionary party was missing, Mussolini and his fascists have now been able to seize power, and the bourgeoisie has handed over this power to it. Mussolini represents the organisation and consolidation of all the forces opposed to the revolution, plus of many forces that remain to be won to the revolution. But I will not go further into this topic, which will be dealt with in another presentation.

In France, Britain, and elsewhere, we see that the bourgeoisie, warned by the Russian example and armed with the entire historical experience of the democratic capitalist countries, organises and mobilises everything that can be set in motion. Clearly, all these forces already bar the way to the proletariat. In order to take power, the proletariat must take revolutionary measures to neutralise, paralyse, combat, and defeat all these forces. However, once it has taken hold of power, the counter-revolution will have almost no new reserves at its disposal. After the conquest of power in Western Europe and the rest of the world, the proletariat will have much more elbow room for its creative work than we had in Russia.

Our civil war in Russia was not only a military process – of course with due respect to the esteemed pacifists, it was military, but more than just military – fundamentally it was a political process. It was a struggle for the political reserves, above all the peasantry. Through its ruthless policies in the civil war, the proletariat demonstrated to the peasantry that it had to choose between the aristocracy and the proletariat. Thanks to this consistent and ruthless revolutionary strategy, the proletariat won the match.

After vacillating for a long time between the bourgeoisie, the democracy, and the proletariat,[1] the peasantry ultimately decided for the proletariat – at the decisive moment, when there was really no third way. This support was expressed not with democratic ballots, but with weapons.

The democratic parties always aided and abetted feudal counter-revolution. I believe it will not be much different in Western Europe, including with regard to the socialist parties. You know, comrades, that a few days ago our Red Army occupied Vladivostok. That closes the long chain of all the fronts of the civil war. In this connection, Milyukov, the well-known leader of the liberal party, writes a few lines in his Paris paper on 7 September that I would like to call classic. ‘This sad history’ – it was always a sad history (Laughter) – ‘began with the announcement of the general unanimity of anti-Bolshevik forces. Merkulov (the head of the counter-revolutionary forces in the East) acknowledged that the non-socialists (that is, the rightist forces) owed their victory in large measure to the democratic forces. But Milyukov says that Merkulov used the support of democratic forces only as a tool to oust the Bolsheviks from power: ‘At that point power was seized by forces that actually viewed the democrats as Bolsheviks in disguise’.[2]

This passage could seem banal, since we're already quite familiar with this kind of thing. But you must keep in mind that this story keeps getting repeated. That is what happened with Denikin, then Yudenich, then with the British and French occupation, then with Petlyura in the Ukraine. On all our borders the same course of events was repeated with wearisome monotony: the peasantry was driven by Social Democracy to reaction, which betrayed and mistreated them. Then came the moment of remorse, and the Bolsheviks’ victory followed. And then the same story would begin again in some other spot in the arena of civil war. And although this mechanism is quite simple and universally understood, we can nonetheless say today that in periods when civil war reaches a fierce crisis, socialist forces in every country go through this same sequence.

We have committed many errors. Comrade Lenin spoke to that yesterday. Nonetheless, I believe that on the whole in the civil war we acted well, that is, consistently and ruthlessly. And I think a book on our revolutionary policies during these years, dealing with the civil war from the point of view of the international proletariat, would be rather instructive.

After the conquest of political power, the task is not merely to defend it with the methods of civil war, but to construct the state and – what is more challenging – the ‘new economy’. I can leave aside many of the remarks I wanted to make because we have heard the truly splendid report of Comrade Zetkin yesterday evening and today. I will limit myself to the most essential supplementary comments.

After political power has been secured – the initial precondition – construction of the socialist economy depends on a number of factors: the level of development of productive forces, the general cultural level of the working class, and the national and international political situation.

I have cited these three factors in order of importance. But the Soviet government as a subjective force in history encountered these factors in reverse order: first the political situation, then the cultural level of the proletariat, and only then, in third place, the level of development of the productive forces. That is quite clear. We had to carry out our economic activity in the framework and at a tempo dictated above all by the civil war. Economic effectiveness did not always run on a parallel course with political necessity. If one is to have any understanding at all of the history of our so-called zigzag course, the key point to grasp is that what was politically necessary and unavoidable did not always run parallel to what was economically expedient.

We learned in the primary school of Marxism that it is not possible to get from capitalist to socialist society in a single leap. None of us interpreted Engels’s famous ‘leap from the kingdom of necessity into the kingdom of freedom’ in this mechanical sense.[3] None of us believed that society can be transformed overnight. Engels was referring to an entire epoch that represents a genuine ‘leap’ from a historical point of view.

It is true that we did proceed to some degree through leaps with nationalisation and with the attempt at socialisation. As has already been said, we had to do this under the pressure of civil war, because, as said, the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie had not had the occasion, before we won political power, to become convinced that we, the working class, represented an irrevocable historical power under whose yoke they had to bow. They had not had any opportunity before 7 November to learn this important lesson. We had to teach them that, after the conquest of power. How did this find expression? Because immediately after the conquest of power, every factory, every branch of a bank, every consulting room of a lawyer or doctor (that is, of course, those who had a private practice, namely the richer ones) was converted into a stronghold of counter-revolution.

In order to permit the owners of small and middle-sized factories to keep their factories for a period of time after the conquest of political power, it was necessary to reach an agreement with them and to demand that they submit to the laws of the new government. That was absolutely excluded. None of these people wanted to take us seriously. That was the bad news: none of them took us seriously. We faced the rather difficult task of teaching them that they needed to take us seriously, and there was no way to do that other than to confiscate the foundation of their power and take it into the hands of the state. How else could it be done? Some of them were driving the workers from the factories, shutting down their enterprises, converting their homes into refuges for counter-revolutionaries, and so on.

It is quite natural that in this case the requirements of civil war come before considerations of economic expediency. So the bourgeoisie was not expropriated gradually, in systematic fashion, at a pace corresponding to our capacity to organise and make good use of their property. Rather it was done in a way that would enable us to strike down the enemy that then threatened to kill us immediately. That is a very important point. Obviously to the degree and to the extent that West European parties have an easier time of it after the conquest of power, they will be able to undertake expropriation in a manner that is much more systematic and cautious. Expropriation will take place to the extent that the expropriated property can be utilised economically and organisationally. But of course political and military considerations will always have priority over economic rationality. Now let us return to our topic.

After we had expropriated far more than we were capable of utilising, after all the institutions of capitalist society had been destroyed as so many hostile fortresses, we faced the necessity of somehow organising this large and rather chaotic inheritance. The civil war still raged, and organisation of the economy was subject to the demands of the military-economic requirements of civil war. That is how war communism was born. It meant first of all the need to provide bread for the state and the army by the application of all available means, above all that of armed force. In addition, it meant that what was needed for the army and civil war had somehow to be pressed and pulled out of this disorganised industrial base, sabotaged as it was by the bourgeoisie and its technical lackeys. The entire apparatus that had led this industry then lay in ruins. We had no alternative but to try to replace this apparatus with the centralised machinery of the state. It was actually nothing more than a replacement apparatus created for the needs of war.

You will ask if we had any hopes of going over from this stage, without major retreats, by a more or less direct route to communism. We must admit that we did actually hope at that time for a more rapid pace of revolutionary development in Western Europe. Very true! And even now we can say with full certainty that if the proletariat in Germany, France, and Europe as a whole had taken power in 1919, the entire course of events in Russia would have taken an entirely different form.

In 1883 Marx wrote to a theoretician of the Russian populists, the Narodniks, that if the proletariat achieved power in Europe before the complete disappearance from history of the Russian obshchina, the Russian peasant commune, and common village ownership of land, this peasant commune in Russia could become the starting point for communist development.[4] And he was quite correct. We are all the more justified in assuming that if the proletariat of Europe had won power in 1919 it would have taken in tow our backward country, with its ersatz organisations and ersatz economic apparatus, and given us technical and organisational help. In this way we would have been able to advance gradually and without major retreats, making many corrections to our primitive war communism and yet continuing to progress, to pass through the evolution to communism.

That was our hope. And it was no crime, because of course no one could say in advance whether this evolution would take place at a quick pace or a slower one. In 1919 even the Two-and-a-Half International recognised the dictatorship of the proletariat. It was really not so utopian, viewed not only from the standpoint of the direction of evolution but also in terms of tempo.

Let us forget for the moment that we took leaps forward and then backward. Let us give an international congress like this one an accounting of what took place, in broad strokes. In March 1917, tsarism was overthrown. In October 1917 the proletariat took power. It began to defend its power and simultaneously to organise its state and economy. In the course of the next five years it converted the land, the most important industrial enterprises, all the railways, and the most significant water transport companies to state property. It left in the hands of the bourgeoisie, as lessees, only quite insignificant undertakings, of which I will have more to say. The workers’ state controls trade and has decisive weight in the markets. The state receives from peasants, who are tilling state-owned land, a tax in kind. This it utilises in order to develop industry, through state expenditure, for the state’s purposes. Anyone will say that yes, for a rather backward country, the progress toward socialism is very significant. However there’s a catch here: this progress was not achieved through a general evolution proceeding in a consistent direction, but rather through leaps and zigzags. And here our enemies say that this represents the beginning of capitulation. And that is the crucial point.

Why did we have to begin a retreat? This question needs careful examination. The most important task in organising the economy is to allocate productive resources and labour power among the different branches of the national economy, above all agriculture and industry. To allocate and organise these forces in socialist fashion requires methods that the victorious proletariat – even in the most developed countries – will need years and perhaps decades to develop. Our substitutes were adequate only for the purposes of the war economy. Why? It’s obvious.

Consider the entire situation. Under capitalism, productive forces are allocated according to the laws of the free market, competition, supply and demand. During periods of crisis and prosperity a certain equilibrium is established for a moment and then again destroyed. So it was until 1914. Then came the war. In economic terms it signified a huge deformation and disorganisation of the economy. Then came the two revolutions, which also terribly damaged the economy in terms of the extent of its productive apparatus. We stood on the edge of chaos, amid the dying echoes of capitalist ‘harmony’. We always called it anarchy, and yet it did represent a certain ‘harmony’, in the sense that it produced a certain socially necessary relationship among the different branches of production. And so we had before us these vestiges, distorted by the deformations induced by war and sabotage by technical personnel, while we simultaneously faced the question of feeding the army and finding a loaf of bread for the workers.

Our methods of primitive centralism were adequate to these last two needs. But it is utterly excluded to suddenly draw up a priori statistics, simply crossing out capitalist organisational methods and then bringing socialism into being on the basis of a general calculation of the needs, labour resources, and material factors of the economy. That is excluded.

After first, of course, winning political power, we take over the capitalists’ methods and material apparatus of production, the organisation of the economy, the allocation of production and productive forces. On the basis of experience, we make more and more corrections, which are induced by two considerations: firstly, the available material possibilities, and, secondly, the changes in needs resulting from the revolution. Through these correctives we move closer and closer to conditions in which we can lead the economy through a genuinely centralised economic plan – one based on all the preceding experience and accumulated wealth and sufficiently flexible to develop the necessary capacity to adjust to local and even individual needs.

Between capitalist anarchy and such conditions, however, lies the use of capitalist means to develop a socialist economy still only coming into being. And that is our situation. I am not fond of using the term ‘state capitalism’. Lenin himself has said that this term should be used only with certain qualifications and reservations, for there is certainly a huge difference between what we often term ‘state capitalism’ and the genuine article. The reformists always said that socialism would come through a process of progressive nationalisation. In France the programme of Jaurès was ‘the progressive socialisation of the democratic republic’. We always countered that in the best of cases such a process would lead to state capitalism, for as long as the bourgeoisie rules, state capitalism, as its collective instrument, would still serve to oppress and exploit the working class.

Now we have a different situation in Russia – one in which the workers’ state has taken control of industry and is leading it through the methods of the capitalist market and capitalist calculation. We once had a period in Russian history during the time of serfdom – I believe there are parallels in the history of other countries and peoples – when the Russian bourgeoisie had factories, then called manorial factories, which utilised peasants who were serfs. Thus was modern production developed in the form of old legal relationships. But this took place under the rule of tsarism and the aristocracy. Now we are going through a great historical experiment dictated by the historical necessity that a new class must build a new economy, utilising old methods that cannot be replaced because no new ones are available. New methods can only evolve out of the old ones.

We began this turn to a new policy with the peasantry. Lenin identified and explained the political causes of this turn. But this is only one part of the overall task of allocating productive resources and forces of labour in the framework of a national economy. It was the situation of the peasantry that was most challenging, because of their economic fragmentation and cultural backwardness. So we decided to initiate the New Economic Policy (NEP) precisely in this broad terrain.

Let me give you an example to show that the NEP is not only a concession to the peasantry but also a necessary step in the socialist development of production. It concerns the railroads. Railroads, railway transport, and the railway network form the one undertaking that was already largely nationalised under capitalism and where the technology itself had dictated a certain degree of standardisation and centralisation. We took over half of it from the state and the other, smaller half from the private companies. We now possess the entire railway network. Truly socialist management, of course, has to view this as an entirety – not from the point of view of property in this or another railway line, but from that of transport needs of the country as a whole. For there are locomotives of various types, built at various times by various companies in various factories. Various railway shops simultaneously refit and repair different kinds of locomotives. The task is to categorise the locomotives by model, to allocate the railways to different railway shops. Standardisation, that is technically unifying the locomotives and their replacement parts, must be promoted and carried through ruthlessly. For capitalist society wastes an enormous amount of labour power through the diversity and kaleidoscopic nature of its material productive apparatus. It is thus necessary to begin with the standardisation of transport, of the railway system, because this is where it can most readily be done.

Standardisation, it has rightly been said, is the socialism in technology. It is just as important to standardise the economy as to electrify it. Technology without standardisation will not achieve great triumphs. We set about this but immediately ran into great obstacles. The fact that a railway line belongs to a given company brings with it the settlement of its accounts with the economy as a whole through the market. Its balance sheet was always front and centre. This fact was economically essential, although in terms of technology, as we have seen, it was very harmful. Economically it was under the given conditions unavoidable, because whether a railway line should be maintained or abandoned depends entirely on the degree to which it is economically essential. Whether something should be transported by a given line – that can be regulated through either the laws of the market or the general statistical socialist accounting system of society. And we do not have these latter methods. Such sophisticated methods of socialist accounting have yet to be developed. The old methods were lost through war and revolution. They were thrust aside, while new methods were not yet available. Yes, it was possible to carry through the standardisation, the technical-socialist reconstruction of the railway network, but in the process, contact was lost between the individual railway lines and the society as a whole. The allocation of railway wagons and labour power can be temporarily determined through capitalist calculation. By enforcing payment for every trip, every shipment of goods, and by drawing up balance sheets, we gain the ability to assess each separate railway line and the transportation system as whole and, at a later time, direct it all in centralised fashion. This requires a step backwards, allowing individual railway lines, or groups of lines, to exist as more or less independent entities. That shows that the abstract technological goals and requirements, however justified they may be, and formal socialist goals cannot in themselves get us around certain economic stages in the evolution from capitalism to socialism.

All this applies even more to industrial enterprises. For example, we have machine factories in the Urals, the south, and Bryansk province, among which we must allocate coal, raw materials, and other supplies on the basis of entries in account books of the central apparatus in Moscow. In the process, we completely lost a feel for reality. We did not know whether a factory was working well or badly, whether it was utilising coal properly or not. We had a rather dubious central statistical office and no economic, commercial calculation for each enterprise as such – the enterprise that must function somewhat as a unit of the socialist organism and demonstrate its usefulness to the workers’ state, rather functioning on its own responsibility. This is made possible through the New Economic Policy, which is simply the more gradual construction of a socialist economy through the workers’ state, with the aid of the methods of calculation, accounting, and evaluation of the usefulness of an enterprise created during the development of capitalism. This is the path by which we arrived at the recreation of the market.

But the market needs a universal equivalent. And our equivalent is in a sorry condition. Comrade Lenin has already spoken extensively of the need to achieve the stability of the rouble, and that our efforts in this direction have not gone entirely without success. Our industry is now constantly complaining about the lack of working capital, and in these complaints we often hear notes of capitalist fetishism, even without capitalism. And truly we do not have capitalism, for when we sometimes call our conditions ‘state capitalism’, that is only, as I have said, in a very conventional sense, and I prefer to avoid the term. But old-time fetishism is still with us, lodged in the brains of many comrades. In an instant, we called this devil into being.

There are complaints that our commissariat of finance is not providing enough money. ‘If we only had a couple more miserable roubles, we could have produced so much more. In exchange for these wretched roubles, you would right away have received textiles, shoes, or other necessities’. So we are suffering from a crisis of working capital. What does that mean? Since we are now carrying out the allocation of productive forces using capitalist methods, all our difficulties of course take on an appearance to which we are very accustomed from capitalist society. For example, metalworking enterprises lack sufficient working capital. What does that tell us? It means above all that we are very poor and must begin to revive industry, employing our technical and financial resources where it is most urgent. But it is most urgent where consumption takes place – among the workers, peasants, and Red soldiers. Obviously, financial resources must migrate there initially. Only when the finished-goods industry has developed will there be a possibility for heavy industry to evolve in a healthy manner. The finished-goods industry now works for the market, that is, in an arena of competition between various state and private enterprises. Only in this way will we become accustomed to working well. Neither moral education and sermons nor a centralised economy will achieve this entirely. Rather, it’s necessary that each plant manager be subject to control not only by the state, from above, but also from below, by consumers, who determine whether his products are purchased and paid for – that is, whether they are good. That provides the best control over the conduct of the enterprise and its management. To the degree that the finished goods industry makes it possible for us to gather real riches from the land and generate a profit, we will also obtain a foundation for heavy industry.

Thus the financial crisis of industry is explained by the development of the economy as a whole. Obviously our financial commissariat cannot respond to every enterprise that claims to need working capital for its work by printing more money. What would that mean? First, of course, that the market would spend all this superfluous paper money in a fashion that would cause a catastrophic fall in the value of the rouble, so that the purchasing power of all the money in circulation would be less than that of the present quantity of roubles. And secondly, this would mean that we would make the printing of money a disorganising factor in the economy. Because when we utilise capitalist methods, we must correct them only very carefully and not intervene like barbarians, spewing out paper money and bringing the entire economy into complete chaos.

Certainly it is fully justified to say that the NEP presents a great danger, for if you offer the devil your finger, you will have to give him your hand, your arm, and ultimately your entire body. Markets, competition, free trade in grain – where is this all headed? First of all, to the increased importance of circulating capital and to its increasing accumulation. Once this circulating capital exists, it will push its way into productive activity, into industry. It receives industrial enterprises from the state through leases. That leads to accumulation no longer merely in commerce but in industry as well. Speculators, go-betweens, and lessees are genuine capitalists, becoming more numerous in the workers’ state. In this way true capitalism will become stronger and stronger, seizing control of a constantly increasing portion of the national economy, abolishing a socialism still only in evolution and ultimately taking state power as well. For we know just as well as Otto Bauer that the economy is the foundation and politics is the superstructure. Capitalist forces always have the accursed tendency to grow, through the accumulation of capital. And by giving free rein to these forces, we are in permanent danger of being overrun by capitalism. Yet Bauer calls this the only possible way for us to save ourselves, in order not to fall to pieces entirely.

From an abstract, theoretical point of view, it was entirely possible that Kolchak and Denikin could have taken Moscow. We were engaged in struggle – a military struggle. When we were asked whether there was not truly a danger that Kolchak might come to Moscow, or earlier that the Hohenzollern regiments might reach Moscow, we answered that of course this possibility exists, which could become reality through a defeat of our troops. But our goal is not defeat but victory.

And what is the situation today? We are now locked in a similar struggle. Peasant agriculture is its focus. The civil war was actually a contest for the soul of the peasant. The Red Army on one side and the aristocrats and bourgeois on the other wrestled to draw the peasants to their side. Similarly, the workers’ state and capitalism are struggling, not for the peasants’ soul but for their market. It’s always necessary in battle to evaluate accurately the means available to our side and to the enemy. What are our means? Our strongest instrument is state power, an excellent instrument for economic struggle. That is shown by the entire history of the bourgeoisie and is confirmed by our short history. We have additional means: possession of the most important productive forces, including national transportation, and of the land, giving us the possibility of collecting the tax in kind. And also we have the army and all the rest. Those are our assets.

If the now developing capitalism, that is, the so-called state capitalism, evolves further, it will become not a true capitalism but a true socialism. The more that the so-called state capitalism prospers, the more it will approach socialism. That is no danger for us. The danger is found rather in the development of genuine private capitalism, enjoying free rein. This true capitalism is competing with our state economy and state industry. And now I'd like to ask what instruments it has available. It does not have state power and does not enjoy much sympathy from the state. On the contrary, the state exerts itself to keep capitalism bridled. This is essential in order that the young fellow not get too puffed up and that its trees do not grow up to the sky. The workers’ state still holds the shears to prune back excess growth.

First of all, there are taxes. In addition, the state has charge of the leased enterprises. I must comment on this, because it’s often referred to as a capitulation. Let’s leave aside transportation (with 956,952 workers all told), since it is fully in the hands of the state, and consider only the industrial enterprises organised as [state] trusts. In the present very unfortunate state of our economy, these concerns now employ one million workers. By contrast, the factories we have leased out employ eighty thousand workers. But what is decisive is not only the numbers but the level of technology. And here you will get the picture from the fact that the average number of workers in the leased enterprises is eighteen, while in the state enterprises it is 250.

So the most important and technically best equipped enterprises are fully owned and operated by the state. I said there were a million workers in the state enterprises and 80,000 in the leased ones. But even these 80,000 workers are not all in private concerns, because half of these enterprises are not run by private capitalists but by cooperatives or by individual commissariats, who lease the concern from the state and run it on their own account. So the number of workers in purely private capitalist enterprises is not more than 40,000-45,000 workers, as against a million workers in state enterprises. This whole story is very recent. From here to the point where this private capital really overtakes state capital, there is ample time to calculate everything and if necessary to make changes. Even if the revolution in the West does not occur in the next few years, our private capital will be able to develop for an extended period without coming anywhere near the level of state capital.

In the sphere of commerce, private capital plays a bigger role. Statistical estimates are difficult here. Our experts, who are not always what they pretend to be – not from any lack of good will, but for objective reasons – say that private commercial capital now makes up about 30 per cent of the commercial capital now in circulation, with the other 70 per cent provided by state institutions and by cooperatives that are subsidised and in fact led by the state.

The two processes run along side by side and at the same time are in opposition. Despite everything, they provide each other with mutual support. Private capital organises itself around our state trusts, competes with them, and yet is nourished by them. On the other hand, our state enterprises would no longer be able to function if they had to do without the deliveries of certain smaller private undertakings. Our state enterprises are now going through a period of primitive socialist accumulation. If we do not receive any credits [from abroad], we will have to develop our economy in an isolated national state, although not exactly as List proposed,[5] accumulating not in a capitalist but in a socialist sense. On the other hand, once again a process of primitive capitalist accumulation is taking place. Reality will show us which of these two processes takes place more quickly. The workers’ state has greater advantages; it holds the trumps. Of course these could be lost. But analysing the situation before us, we see that all the advantages are on our side except one. And that is that the behind the back of private capital, now passing for a second time through the epoch of primitive accumulation, stands world capitalism. We are still encircled by capitalism. We therefore can and should pose the question whether our incipient socialism, which is still functioning with capitalist methods, will not be bought up by the real capitalism.

Now, there are always two parties to a purchase: the one that buys and the one that sells. Power is in the hands of the workers’ state. A monopoly exists in the most important industries and in foreign trade. This monopoly is therefore for us a matter of principle. It is our defence against a capitalism that wants to buy out our incipient socialism!

As for concessions, Comrade Lenin has already told you: Big discussions, small concessions! (Laughter) It has often been stressed that world capitalism is undergoing a severe crisis and that it needs Soviet Russia. Britain needs the Russian market; Germany needs grain; and so on. Viewed abstractly, that seems quite correct, if we examine the world in pacifist fashion, from the standpoint of good common sense, which is always pacifist. (Laughter) It would therefore seem that British capital would set its course for Russia, striving with might and main to occupy Russia economically, while Germany would limp along behind it. But that is not happening. Why? Because we find ourselves in a very difficult time of disrupted economic equilibrium, and capitalism is not in a position to draw up and carry out great economic plans. Russia certainly represents an enormous potential for Britain, but not tomorrow. In Britain, the army of the unemployed is still one million strong. The Russian market cannot eliminate that army overnight. Perhaps this could be achieved in the course of three, five, or ten years, but then the calculations must also be spread over a ten-year period. And that is impossible. Everything is so uncertain in this shattered world!

That is why all the economic policies of the capitalist governments reckon only in terms of from today until tomorrow. That flows necessarily from the entire world situation. And since they know that Russia does not offer them immediate salvation, they postpone again and again starting up the announced concessions, credits, and so on and so forth. There are no grounds whatsoever to fear that we could be overwhelmed and crushed by these concessions. As you see, our party’s official newspaper [Pravda] is now running a series of lengthy articles devoted to a very large concession – to Urquhart.[6] In them we are soberly calculating – and I concede that we are perhaps making many arithmetical errors – whether this concession is beneficial or harmful to us. What does that mean? It means that the accounting is being done by the workers’ state, which is weighing whether it will grant this concession or not.

In a word, the danger that real capitalism, whose development is inevitable if we grant it a free market, will outgrow the workers state is far smaller than the possibility of the conquest of power by the European working class. That dictates that we follow a policy of sticking it out until the working class of Europe and the rest of the world has taken state power.

That is roughly the answer to be given to the compounded wisdom of the late Two-and-a-Half International – well, at least languishing in its deathbed. On our fourth anniversary, Otto Bauer devoted a pamphlet to our economy,[7] in which he said neatly and logically all the things that our enemies in the socialist camp are in the habit of saying. First, he says that the New Economic Policy is of course a surrender, but a positive one. For the final outcome of the Russian revolution, you see, could only be a bourgeois-democratic republic, and he predicted that already in 1917. Yet I recall that in 1919 the prophecies of these people – Otto Bauer and the Two-and-a-Half International – had a different ring. At that time they conceded that we were at the outset of an epoch of social revolution. No one will believe that at a moment when world capitalism as a whole is headed for destruction, it will be in full flower in revolutionary Russia, which is under workers rule.

And so in 1917, when Otto Bauer still maintained his virginal belief in the rock-hard durability of capitalism, he wrote that the Russian revolution must end with a bourgeois state. A socialist opportunist is always impressionistic in politics. In 1919, overwhelmed and overtaken by the tide of revolution, he recognised this as the beginning of an epoch of social revolution. Now he says, thanks be to God that the tide of revolution did not rise that high, and he hurries back to his prophesy of 1917, for he always has two prophecies in his pocket that he can choose from, to suit the occasion. (Laughter) Further on, he tells us:

What we are witnessing in Russia is a capitalist economy rising up again, dominated by a new bourgeoisie, which rests on millions of peasant operations and to which state legislation and administration have no choice but to adapt themselves.

So even a year ago he was proclaiming that our economy and state were dominated by a new bourgeoisie. As for the leasing out of enterprises, of which I have spoken – that is, the forty thousand workers employed by small and poor enterprises against the million workers in the best enterprises of the state, once again this is of course a ‘surrender by the Soviet government to industrial capitalism’. And in order to establish a framework for all this, he informs us as follows: ‘After long hesitation, the Soviet government has now finally (!!) decided to recognise the foreign debts of tsarism’.

Since many comrades will naturally be hazy about the exact details of our history, I must remind you that in a radio transmission of 4 February 1919, we proposed the following to all the capitalist governments:

  1. The recognition of the debts of earlier Russian governments.
  1. The offering of our raw materials in pledge to guarantee the payment of loans and interest.
  1. Provision of concessions at their convenience.
  1. Territorial concessions in the form of military occupation of certain districts by the armed forces of the Entente.[8]

All this we proposed to the capitalist world by radio on 4 February 1919, and in April of that year we repeated this offer even more fully and precisely to the unofficial American representative – what was that guy called? (Laughter) Yes, Bullitt. Now, comrades, if you compare these proposals with the ones that our representatives in Genoa and The Hague put forward, or rather refused,[9] you can see that far from broadening our concessions along this road, we moved in the opposite direction, toward a firmer defence of our claims.

Of course this evolution leads to ‘democracy’ – that’s obvious: Bauer and Martov came to agreement on that long ago. Bauer lectures us that the transformation of the economic foundation must lead to a transformation of the entire political superstructure. It is quite true that changes in the economic foundation bring with them changes in the superstructure. But first of all the economic basis does not change simply on instructions from Otto Bauer, and also not on instructions from Mr. Urquhart, who carries much more weight in this matter. Moreover, to the extent that the economic basis is in fact changing, this is happening at such a pace and to such an extent that we are far removed from losing political control because of this process. The bourgeoisie has granted many reforms to the workers, making many concessions to the working class. We must not forget that. From the start, many of these experiments were rather risky, for example, universal suffrage. Marx called the legislated shortening of the working day in Britain a victory of a new principle. What principle? That of the working class. But from the limited victories of this future principle to the conquest of political power by the British working class lies an entire extended historical period.

We do not require any such lengthy moratorium. We must and can confidently say that if concessions to capitalist methods on the one hand and the capitalist world on the other continue to develop, accumulate, deepen, compound, and multiply, eventually we could come to a point where the foundations would have suffered such changes that the superstructure of the workers’ state would necessarily collapse. But that is simply the dialectical character of this situation. For the superstructure, once created, itself becomes a factor influencing the foundation, which for its part gains a firm footing in the superstructure. And secondly, we are not talking here about eternity, but about a defined historical period, until the appearance on stage of the great Western reserves, destined to become the vanguard. However, if we measure the historical events not quantitatively but qualitatively – and you know as dialecticians that at a certain point quantity is transformed into quality – if we liberate historical development from the factor of time – rather as in Einstein’s relativistic interpretation – if we consider history as timeless and speculate on into eternity, then it goes without saying that the New Economic Policy will have a fatal impact on us. Because if it lasts forever, socialism will never achieve its triumph.

That is about the limit of Otto Bauer’s wisdom. However, he winds up by saying that we have to speed up the transformation of the superstructure. He says, ‘The reconstruction of a capitalist economy cannot take place under the dictatorship of a Communist party. The new economic course requires a new course in politics’.

So this man who has achieved such wonders in Austria (Laughter) tells us: Take note, capitalism cannot possibly flourish under the dictatorship of your party. Just so. And that is precisely why we maintain the dictatorship of our party! (Loud laughter, applause)

There is one more important question that I have not dealt with, comrades. I am referring to productivity, the output of labour.

Socialism is one economic system; capitalism is another. The advantages of socialism cannot be proven by lectures; they must be demonstrated by an increased output of labour. For just as the capitalist economy’s superiority over feudalism was based on having made human labour more productive, socialism has the same advantage over capitalism. At present we are very poor, and that is the decisive factor. If we look at matters from this side, our enemies can advance very powerful arguments. Agricultural and industrial production have both fallen substantially in comparison to the prewar period. The harvest last year was about three-quarters of what it was on average before the war, and industrial production was about one-quarter of the prewar level.

At first glance this seems to represent a great danger. We are based in industry, while agriculture provides a foundation for the accumulation of private capital. Now we must not forget here that the peasant sets aside the greater part of his production for his own consumption. If the harvest this year reaches three-quarters of its prewar level, he is in a position to supply the market with at best 100 million poods [1.7 million tonnes], after paying 314 million poods to the state as the tax in kind. Only the portion of agricultural production that appears on the market is of significance for private capital or for state commercial capital. And this quantity is rather small, and is hardly likely to grow more rapidly than industrial development.

All in all, we have not proven in life that socialism is a more advantageous economic method than capitalism, because we are poorer than the country was before the war and before the revolution. That is a fact. It is explained by another fact, namely, that the revolution as a method of economic transformation is a very expensive undertaking. All revolutions in world history have shown this. Let us take the Great French revolution. In Genoa, the French expert Colrat, now minister of justice, told Comrade Chicherin: ‘You have no right at all to take part in economic matters given your country’s present economic condition compared to ours’. Well, conditions in France today developed on a capitalist basis out of the Great French Revolution, and France as it exists today, with its wealth, its civilisation, and its corruption, would be inconceivable without that revolution. And the same Colrat of course speaks on July 14 about the Great French Revolution as the mother of modern democracy.[10] With regard to his speech, I checked a couple of historical works such as the one by the French historian Taine and the history of socialism by Jaurès and came up with the following facts.[11] First, after the ninth day of Thermidor,[12] that is, after the beginning of the counter-revolutionary period, the impoverishment of France takes hold. Ten years after the beginning of the revolution, that is, under the first consul Bonaparte, Paris received only 300 to 500 sacks of flour daily, compared to its requirement of a minimum of 1,500 sacks. Thus Paris, then a city of five hundred thousand inhabitants, was receiving only one-eighth to one-quarter of its most essential foodstuff.

Here is another example. In the same period, between nine and ten years after the French revolution, the population had declined in 37 of 58 departments through the impact of hunger, epidemics, and so on. Ten years, if you please! We are only at the beginning of the sixth year. The picture that we now present is not enviable but it is far more favourable, according to statistical data, than that of France after ten years of its bourgeois democratic revolution. Surely it is clear that history pursues its goal of raising the power of human labour through temporary devastations. That is history’s discordant style, for which we are not responsible. In the last few days I saw a speech that I would recommend especially to the French comrades. It is the speech of the French chemist Berthelot, son of the more celebrated Pierre Berthelot, who had the following to say as a delegate to the Academy of Science. I translate from Temps:

In all epochs of history, in the fields of science, politics, and social phenomena alike, it has always been the splendid and terrible privilege of armed conflicts to hasten the birth of new epochs.

Of course he is referring mainly to wars, and he is right, because wars, especially those defending a new historical principle, have always exerted immense propulsive force. But he is speaking of armed conflicts in general. Revolutionary conflicts involving devastation signify also the birth of new epochs. This enables one to ascertain that the expenses and costs of revolution are not faux frais, not unnecessary expenses. And we ask our friends to allow us another period of five years – and they will surely grant us this – in order to be able in the tenth year of the revolution to demonstrate the power of socialism compared to capitalism not merely by speculation but by material reality.

However, if the capitalist world lasts another several decades, well, that would be a sentence of death for socialist Russia. In this regard, however, we have no reason to modify or doubt the opinions, positions, and theses formulated at our Third Congress. The British minister of foreign affairs, Lord Curzon, characterised the world situation excellently in a speech on 9 November, the anniversary of the birth of the German republic. I do not know if comrades have read it. I will therefore read a couple of sentences of this speech. Here is what he said:

All the powers have emerged from the war weakened and broken. We carry a heavy load of taxation, which weighs down on industry. We have a large number of jobless in every field of work. As for France’s situation, the country is burdened by enormous debt and is not in a position to receive reparations. Germany is politically very frail, and its economic life is crippled by a terrible currency crisis. Russia still stands outside the family of European peoples. It is still under the banner of communism –

He doesn’t entirely agree with Otto Bauer (Laughter)

and carries out communist propaganda in every corner of the world.

Which isn’t even true! (Laughter)

Italy has gone a series of internal disruptions and governmental crises –

Not ‘gone through’ at all; only ‘going through’ (Laughter)

The Near East is in conditions of complete crisis. This situation is dreadful.

Even the Russian Communists could not come up with better propaganda on the world situation. ‘This situation is dreadful’, we are informed on the fifth anniversary of the Soviet republic by the most renowned representative of Europe’s strongest empire. And he is correct. But this dreadful situation must be changed.

An Italian journalist once asked me how we assess the world situation at present. I gave the following rather banal answer: ‘Capitalism is no longer capable of ruling’. – Lord Curzon has just fully confirmed that. – ‘The working class is not yet capable of taking power. That is the distinctive feature of our time’. And three or four days ago a Berlin friend sent me a clipping from one of the recent issues of Freiheit where we read: ‘Kautsky’s victory over Trotsky’. (Laughter) It says there that Rote Fahne doesn’t have the courage to attack my capitulation to Kautsky – although Rote Fahne always had the courage to attack me, even when I was sometimes correct. But that relates to the Third Congress, not the Fourth.[13] (Applause and laughter) I had said, ‘Capitalism is incapable, but the working class is not yet capable; that is the distinctive feature of our time’. And to that responds Freiheit, of blessed memory,[14] ‘What Trotsky puts forward here as his point of view was Kautsky’s opinion long ago.’ Aha, plagiarism! Well, you must understand giving interviews is not an agreeable profession and never takes place voluntarily. It’s always done on order of our friend Chicherin. There are still some matters here that remain centralised. The assignment of interviews is handled by the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs. (Laughter) When you have to subject yourself to an interview, you only trot out the most banal commonplaces. (Loud laughter) As for my observation that capitalism is already incapable but socialism is not yet capable of wielding power, I did not consider it to be my invention. Now I discover that its Kautsky is its spiritual father.

I have made every honest effort to understand in what way I was capitulating. The fact that the proletariat is not yet capable of wielding power is a result of the still very strong traditions and influences of Kautskyism. (Laughter) That is exactly the reason why it is unable to take power, and that is the thought that I expressed to the Italian journalist, without naming Kautsky, because everyone knows what was meant.

Capitalism is undergoing a historical crisis. The working class is today not yet capable of ending this crisis by seizing political power.

At the Third World Congress, we made every effort – and that should be mentioned here – to draw a very clear distinction, both in our speeches and our theses, between the historical crisis of capitalism and a conjunctural crisis.[15] You also recall the discussions that took place around this point, partly in the commission and partly in plenary session. We now have a pressing practical interest in confirming specifically this aspect of the theses. At that time, many comrades, beginning with the premise of a historical crisis, considered that it would automatically grow more acute, and that its economic pressure would make the proletariat more revolutionary, radicalising its methods of attack and driving it to an uprising. We emphasised then that the historical crisis of capitalism necessarily includes conjunctural cycles expressed in a wave-like motion. We held that the acute conjunctural crisis that began in 1920 would necessarily be followed in the capitalist world by a certain improvement – that is, first a worsening, but followed later by an improvement, large or small. Many comrades said then that this view represented an inclination to opportunism with the intention of finding a way to postpone the revolution.

Imagine where we would be today if we had adopted this mechanical theory of a continually worsening crisis. We would then face the fact that in the most important capitalist countries the crisis has given way to improvement or to stagnation, which is in itself an improvement compared to the crisis. In the strongest country, the United States, we now have prosperity. How long this will last and whether it has deep roots is quite another question. Conditions in Europe are a given, along with a decay on a world scale. These are plain facts, which determine the broad historical crisis. But the conjunctural upturn is also a fact. Suppose we had gone along with the comrades who then demanded that we recognise the principle that the crisis would always, and under all circumstances, be a more revolutionary factor than prosperity. Suppose we had accepted that there was no reason to acknowledge in our theses that an improvement in the economic situation was possible. In that case, we would now have to revise our entire conception of the revolutionary character of our epoch and subject it to a new theoretical examination.

This would surely have been a major blunder! No, we were quite right, and today we are well equipped to face our opponents of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals. We did not call this epoch revolutionary because a severe conjunctural crisis in 1920 followed on the deceptive prosperity of 1919. Rather our view was based on our assessment of the entire world situation and its interrelationships. I think this lesson will be useful to many comrades, which gives us a strong reason to confirm our Third Congress theses.

But our theses and speeches also proclaimed the opening of a new stage. Some comrades criticised us for projecting too far into the future, for looking too far ahead. But here too I believe that our theses were correct. I recall what Comrade Lenin said in one of his speeches to the Third Congress, or perhaps it was in a congress commission, ‘Comrades, of course we are strongly in favour of speeding up the pace of revolution, but if revolution does not come in a year, and even not in two years, we will still hold out in Russia and wait. We are absolutely not pressing you to act prematurely.’ Many comrades were amazed, thinking: Two years! Many comrades viewed that as something dreadful. Now fifteen months have gone by. We are closer to the revolution, but not yet all that close. Russia can now say with more justification and security that if the world revolution takes another year or two, it will find Soviet Russia even stronger than it is today.

This perspective grows out of the fact that in 1919 we did not overthrow the bourgeoisie on an international level. That situation gave rise to our struggle to win the broad masses of the proletariat and to the development of our organisation and our methods. We were forced to inscribe the partial demands of the working class on our banner, and to lead the working class on this level as well. But what is the difference between us and the old Social Democracy, if we too advance partial demands? It consists in our evaluation of the character of this epoch. That is the key factor.

Before the war, the bourgeoisie, as a ruling class, was able to make concessions. We can view the nineteenth century as a whole as an epoch in which the bourgeoisie made concessions to the working class and to specific layers of the working class. These concessions were always reckoned in the framework of the bourgeoisie’s balance sheet, so as not to undermine its power and its rule. The new epoch – we can now say this with certainty – began not after the war but already in 1913–14. The crisis of 1913 was not conjunctural in character, following a period of prosperity, but the beginning of a new epoch of capitalism, whose framework had now become too narrow for the productive forces. The bourgeoisie was no longer in a position to make further concessions. The war made this situation more acute. That by no means gives us the right to conceive of our task as automatic or predetermined. For even in the new revolutionary epoch it is very possible for one side or other to stumble into a bog, and immediate demands can be conceived of as just such a path into the bog.

At the Third Congress the overwhelming majority of delegates called to order those forces in the International who were creating a danger that the excessively hasty advance of the vanguard would shatter against the passivity or immaturity of the broad masses of the working class and against the persistent strength of the capitalist state. That was then the greatest danger, and the Third Congress issued a warning aimed at drawing attention to this danger. To the degree that this represented a retreat, it proceeded in parallel with the economic retreat in Russia. Certain comrades could well get the impression that the International’s whole course was now directed against the left danger.

Of course that is quite wrong. What was then commonly called the ‘left danger’ is, of course, the danger of errors that any of us can make. The right danger, on the other hand, is and remains the bogging down of the Communist Parties under the pressure of bourgeois society as a whole. This danger flows from the inherent characteristics of a preparatory period. In 1919, as powerful waves of discontent washed over every country, and politics as a whole reflected this revolutionary movement, the bourgeoisie itself was politically disoriented. Today, in relatively quieter times, we have to advance immediate demands in our struggle for the workers’ soul. This creates a situation where the capitalist world once again enjoys greater possibilities of inserting its agents into the ranks of our world revolutionary party. We therefore have not only the right to refer to the revolutionary character of the epoch, but also the duty to speed up the course of this epoch. We do this by carefully cleansing the International so that, when the great battle comes, it will be fully armed and fit for combat.

The difficulties that the West European parties must overcome are incomparably greater than those that we faced in the revolution. For example, pacifist and reformist illusions have by no means vanished. In France it is inevitable that pacifism and reformism will emerge in full flower, if the revolution begins at an early date as a result of some unpredictable combination of events. After the illusions of war and the intoxication of victory, the petty-bourgeois illusions of pacifism and reformism will take hold in France in the form of a bloc of left-wing forces for power. In this epoch, a strong wave of such illusions can grip the working class as well. Our French party has the highest interest in eliminating from its ranks those who could serve as transmitters of such pacifist and reformist illusions.

The same holds true for Britain. I do not know what the result of the present elections will be. But if the Conservatives and National Liberals take the helm once more, their splendour will not long endure. It is inevitable that the Conservative orientation in Britain will be replaced by one that is pacifist and democratic. Now imagine this picture: In France ‘le Bloc des Gauches’ [Left Bloc], that is, a democratic-pacifist government; in Britain a Labour government in alliance with the independent Liberals! What will then happen in Germany? The lungs of the German Social Democrats will breath fresh air. We will get a new edition of Wilsonism, on a broader basis. We cannot say that we are fully secured against a new and, in its way, impressive time in which the working class is dulled down and benumbed by pacifist and reformist tendencies. But the epoch is revolutionary, its contradictions are irresolvable, and the tensions within capitalism itself are unusually acute. So such a period could only be the final flaring of a candle that is burning out. We are assuming that no revolution breaks out before such a period, which is by no means certain. The experience of such a pacifist high tide could of course lead to a profound psychological crisis. After it ebbs away, the French and British working class will feel the need to look about to find the party that did not deceive them. There must be a party that does not deceive the world working class in such a period of likely – indeed inevitable – pacifist lies, a party of truth, of the rough, brutal truth. This can only be the Communist Party.

We are therefore more obliged than ever before to check through our ranks and constantly keep watch on them. A French comrade – it was Comrade Frossard – once said, ‘Le parti c'est la grande amitié’ – the party is a great friendship. That phrase has been often repeated. It is quite a pretty turn of phrase and I am prepared to accept it, to a limited degree. But let us bear firmly in mind that the party undergoes a profound process of selection in order to grow into such a strong friendship. This selection must, however, be careful and, when necessary, ruthless. In other words, the party must first pass through a great selection, before it becomes a great friendship! (Loud, long applause)

  1. The term ‘democracy’ here refers to radical or socialist parties supporting the Russian Provisional Government, above all the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries.
  2. Poslednye novosti (Paris), 7 September 1922.
  3. From Engels’s Anti-Dühring; see Marx and Engels Collected Works, vol. 25, p. 270.
  4. For Marx’s letter to Vera Zasulich, written in 1881 (not 1883), see Marx and Engels Collcted Works, vol. 46, pp. 71 – 2.
  5. The German theorist Friedrich List (1789–1846) elaborated an analysis of economics on a national basis that he called the National System.
  6. Leslie Urquhart was chairman of a British corporation that had owned large mining works in the Urals under the tsar. In 1921, Urquhart and Soviet authorities drafted an agreement (‘concession’) for Urquhart to operate his former properties under Soviet authority. In October 1922, however, the Soviet government rejected the agreement, on Lenin’s insistence. In explanation, Lenin cited Britain’s exclusion of Soviet Russia from negotiations on Turkish independence. Lenin Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 388.
  7. Bauer’s pamphlet, Der ‘neue Kurs’ in Sowjetrussland (The New Course in Soviet Russia), was published in 1921.
  8. For a discussion of the Soviet offer of 4 February 1919 and references to the various forms in which it was published, see Carr 1966, 3, pp. 118–20.
  9. William Bullitt, a junior U.S. diplomat, was sent by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George on a confidential mission to Moscow to ascertain Soviet peace terms. He met with Lenin and obtained written Soviet proposals, which received no response from the Allied powers.
    The Genoa conference (10 April–19 May 1922) was convened to discuss economic reconstruction in Eastern Europe, and especially measures to improve relations with Soviet Russia. The inclusion of Russia among the thirty-four invited governments was a significant gain for the Soviet republic. However, negotiations broke down over French and British insistence that Russia fully pay the debts incurred under tsarism before 1914 and fully restore nationalised foreign-owned property.
    An attempt was made to overcome the Genoa deadlock at the Hague conference (26 June–20 July 1922), with equally negative results.
  10. The storming of the Paris fortress of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 symbolises the destruction of the feudal order by the French Revolution.
  11. Hippolyte Taine wrote three volumes on the French revolution as part of his five-volume historical work, Les origines de la France contemporaine; an English translation has been published under the title The French Revolution (see Taine 1962). Jean Jaurès wrote four volumes on the French revolution as part of the series, Histoire socialiste, 1789–1900; it has been published separately as Histoire socialiste de la Révolution française. See Jaurès 1968–73.
  12. The counter-revolutionary coup that overturned the Jacobin leadership of Maximilien Robespierre took place on 27 July 1794, the ninth day of Thermidor in the French revolutionary calendar. The coup marked the turning of the tide against the French Revolution.
  13. During mid-1921, the time of the Third Congress, Trotsky voiced criticisms of the KPD’s policy during the March Action, which the majority KPD leadership then still supported.
  14. On 30 September 1922, the USPD’s main newspaper, Die Freiheit, ceased publication, merging into the SPD’s Vorwärts.
  15. For Trotsky’s report and theses at the Third Congress on the world economy, see The First Five Years of the Communist International, vol. 1, pp. 174–226.