next up previous contents index
Next: Provocations in the Up: Trotsky's rôle on Previous: Defeatism and capitulation

Trotsky and the Tukhachevsky plot


In the chapter dedicated to the Tukhachevsky  military plot, we showed that a large anti-Communist opposition truly did exist among the cadres of the Red Army. Trotsky's  attitude towards this reality is enlightening.

Here are Trotsky's  written positions about the Tukhachevsky  affair:

`I must here state what were my relations with Tukhachevsky ....  I never considered the Communist convictions of this officer of the Old Guard to be serious ....

`The generals struggled to defend the security of the Soviet Union against the interests of Stalin's personal security.'


Trotsky,  L'armée contre Staline (6 March 1938). L'appareil, pp. 197, 201.

`The army needs capable, honest men, just as the economists and scientists, independent men with open minds. Every man and woman with an independent mind comes into conflict with the bureaucracy, and the bureaucracy must decapitate the one section at the expense of the other in order to preserve themselves .... A man who is a good general, like Tukhachevsky,  needs independent aides, other generals around him, and he appreciates every man according to his intrinsic value. The bureaucracy needs docile people, byzantine people, slaves, and these two types come into conflict in every state.'


Trotsky,  On the Eve of World War II, p. 19.

`Tukhachevsky,  and along with him the cream of the military cadres, perished in the struggle against the police dictatorship hovering over Red Army officers. In its social characteristics, the military bureaucracy is naturally no better than the civil bureaucracy .... When the bureaucracy is viewed as a whole, it retains two functions: power and administration. These two functions have now reached an acute contradiction. To ensure good administration, the totalitarian power must be eliminated ....

`What does the new duality of power mean: the first step in the decomposition of the Red Army and the beginning of a new civil war in the country?

`The current generation of commissars means the control of the Bonapartist  clique over the military and civilian administration and, through it, over the people ....

`The actual commanders grew up in the Red Army, can not be dissociated from it and have an unquestioned authority acquired over many years. On the other hand, the commissars were recruited among the sons of bureaucrats, who have no revolutionary experience, no military knowledge and no ideological capital. This is the archetype of the new school careerists. They are only called upon to command because they are `vigilant', i.e. they are the army's police. The commanders show them the hatred that they deserve. The régime of dual command is transforming itself into a struggle between the political police and the army, where the central power sides with the police ....

`The development of the country, and in particular the growth of its new needs, is incompatible with the totalitarian scum; this is why we see tendencies to resist the bureaucracy in all walks of life .... In the areas of technology, economics, education, culture, defence, people with experience, with a knowledge of science and with authority automatically reject the agents of Stalinist dictatorship, who are for the most part uncultivated and cynical uncouth like Mekhlis  and  Yezhov.'


Trotsky,  Les défaitistes totalitaires (3 July 1939). La lutte, pp. 166--169.

First of all, Trotsky  had to recognize that Tukhachevsky  and those like him were never Communists: previously, Trotsky  himself had designated Tukhachevsky  as candidate for a Napoleon-like  military coup d'état. Furthermore, for the needs of his unrelenting struggle against Stalin, Trotsky  denied the existence of a bourgeois counter-revolutionary opposition at the head of the army. In fact, he supported any opposition against Stalin and the Bolshevik Party, including Tukhachevsky,  Alksnis , etc. Trotsky  led a united front policy with all the anti-Communists in the army. This clearly shows that Trotsky  could only come to power in alliance with the counter-revolutionary forces. Trotsky  claimed that those who were fighting Stalin and the leadership of the Party within the army were actually struggling for the security of the country, while the officers who were loyal to the Party were defending Stalin's dictatorship and his personal interests.

It is remarkable that Trotsky's  analysis about the struggle within the Red Army is identical to that made by Roman Kolkowicz  in his study for the U.S. Army (see page gif). First, Trotsky  opposed the Party measures to assert political control over the Red Army. In particular, Trotsky  attacked the reintroduction of political commissars, who would play an essential political rôle in the war of anti-fascist resistance and would help young soldiers maintain a clear political line despite the incredible complexity of problems created by the war. Trotsky  encouraged the elitist and exclusivist sentiments within the military against the Party, with the explicit aim of splitting the Red Army and provoking civil war. Next, Trotsky  declared himself in favor of the independence, hence the `professionalism', of officers, saying that they were capable, honest and with an open mind, to the extent that they opposed the Party! Similarly, it is clear that anti-Communist elements like Tokaev  defended their dissident bourgeois ideas in the name of independence and of an open mind!

Trotsky  claimed that there was a conflict between the `Stalinist' power and the State administration, and that he supported the latter. In fact, the opposition that he described was the opposition between the Bolshevik Party and the State bureaucracy. Like all anti-Communists throughout the world, Trotsky  slandered the Communist Party by calling it `bureaucratic'. In fact, the real danger of bureaucratization of the régime came from the parts of the administration that were in no sense Communist, that sought to get rid of the `stifling' political and ideological control of the Party, to impose themselves on the rest of society and to acquire privileges and benefits of all kinds. The political control of the Party over the military and civil administration was especially aimed at fighting these tendencies towards bureaucratic disintegration. When Trotsky  wrote that to ensure a good administration of the country, the Party had to be eliminated, he was the spokesperson for the most bureaucratic tendencies of the state apparatus.

More generally, Trotsky  defended the `professionalism' of the military, technical, scientific and cultural cadres, i.e. of all the technocrats who tried to rid themselves of Party control, who wanted to `eliminate the Party from all aspects of life', according to Trotsky's  precepts.

In the class struggle that took place within the State and Party in the thirties and forties, the front line was between the forces that defended Stalin's Leninist  line and those who encouraged technocratism, bureaucracy and militarism. It was the latter forces that would gain hegemony over the Party leadership during Khrushchev's  coup d'état.

next up previous contents index
Next: Provocations in the Up: Trotsky's rôle on Previous: Defeatism and capitulation

Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995