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During the twenties and thirties, Stalin and other Bolshevik leaders led
many struggles against opportunist tendencies within the Party. The
ideas coming from
played a central rôle. These ideological and
political struggles were led correctly, according to
firmly and patiently.
The Bolshevik Party led a decisive ideological and political struggle
during the period 1922--1937, over the question of the
possibility of building socialism in one country, the Soviet Union. Using
pretended that socialist construction was
impossible in the Soviet Union, given the absence of a victorious revolution
in a large industrialized country. This defeatist and capitulationist
thesis was the one held since 1918 by the Mensheviks, who had concluded that
it was impossible to build socialism in a backward peasant country. Many
texts by Bolshevik leaders, essentially by Stalin and
this struggle was correctly led.
in his struggle against
the Party. Together, they formed the United Opposition. The latter denounced
the rise of the kulak class, criticized `bureaucratism'
and organized clandestine factions within the Party. When
the right to form `opposition parties',
voted in the
Politburo against his exclusion.
of building socialism in one country', a theory that he had violently fought
against only two years previous, and spoke of the danger of the
degeneration of the Party.
Edward Hallett Carr.
Foundations of a Planned Economy, 1926--1929,
Volume 2 (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1971), pp. 7, 10--12, 20.
invented in 1927 the `Soviet thermidor', analogous with the French
counter-revolution where the right-wing Jacobins executed the left-wing
explained that at the beginning of World War I, when the German
army was 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Paris,
weak government of
to organize an effective defence without
was insinuating that in the case of imperialist
attack, he would implement a
, pp. 28--29.
Through these acts and his writings, the opposition was thoroughly discredited
and, during a vote, received only 6000 votes as against 725,000.
, p. 42.
On December 27, 1927, the Central Committee declared that the opposition had
allied itself with anti-Soviet forces and that those who held its positions
would be expelled from the Party. All the
, p. 49.
However, in June 1928, several
recanted and were
re-integrated, as were their leaders
, p. 60.
A large number of
were also re-integrated, including
, p. 67.
however, maintained his irreconcilable opposition to the Party and
was expelled from the Soviet Union.
The next great ideological struggle was led against
deviation during the collectivization.
put forward a
social-democratic line, based on the idea of class re-conciliation.
In fact, he was protecting the development of the kulaks in the countryside
and represented their interests. He insisted on a slowing down of the
industrialization of the country.
was torn asunder by the bitterness
of the class struggle in the countryside, whose `horrors' he described and
During this struggle, former `Left Opposition' members made unprincipled
in order to overthrow Stalin and the
leadership. On July 11, 1928, during the violent debates
that took place before the collectivization,
held a clandestine
He stated that he was ready to
`give up Stalin for
and hoped for `a bloc to
, p. 65.
In September 1928,
asking them to rejoin
the Party and to wait `till the crisis matures'.
, p. 73, n. 3.
After the success of the collectivization of 1932--1933,
defeatist theories were completely discredited.
By that time,
had started up once again their struggle
against the Party line, in particular by supporting the counter-revolutionary
program put forward by
in 1931--1932 (see page ).
They were expelled a second time from the Party and exiled in Siberia.
From 1933 on, the leadership thought that the hardest battles for
industrialization and collectivization were behind them. In May 1933, Stalin
signed a decision to liberate 50 per cent of the people sent to
work camps during the collectivization. In November 1934, the kolkhoz
management system took its definite form, the kolkhozians having the right
to cultivate for themselves a private plot and to raise livestock.
, p. 94.
The social and economic atmosphere relaxed throughout the country.
The general direction of the Party had proven correct.
and a number of
recognized that they had erred.
The Party leadership thought that the striking victories in building socialism
would encourage these former opposition leaders to criticize their wrong
ideas and to accept
ones. It hoped that all the leading cadres would
principles of criticism and self-criticism, the materialist
and dialectical method that allows each Communist to improve their political
education and to assess their understanding, in order to reinforce the
political unity of the Party. For that reason, almost all the leaders
of the three opportunist movements, the
as well as
who in fact had remained in an important position, were invited to the
17th Congress, where they made speeches.
That Congress was the congress of victory and unity.
In his report to the Seventeenth Congress, presented on January 26,
1934, Stalin enumerated the impressive achievements in
industrialization, collectivization and cultural development. After
having noted the political victory over the
group and over
the bourgeois nationalists, he stated:
group of the Right deviators has been smashed and
scattered. Its organizers have long ago renounced their views and are
now trying in every way to expiate the sins they committed against the
Stalin, Report to the Seventeenth Party Congress on the Work
of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.).
Selected Works, p. 404.
During the congress, all the old opponents acknowledged the tremendous
successes achieved since 1930. In his concluding speech, Stalin stated:
`(I)t has been revealed that there is extraordinary ideological,
political and organizational solidarity in the ranks of the Party.'
Stalin, Instead of a Reply to the Discussion,
Works, vol. 13, p. 404.
Stalin was convinced that the former deviationists would in the future
work loyally to build socialism.
`We have smashed the enemies of the Party .... But remnants of
their ideology still live in the minds of individual members of the
Party, and not infrequently they find expression.'
And he underscored the persistence of `the survivals of capitalism in
economic life' and `Still less ... in the minds of people'. `That
is why we cannot say that the fight is ended and that there is no
longer any need for the policy of the socialist offensive.'
Stalin, Report, op. cit.
, pp. 405--406.
A detailed study of the ideological and political struggle that took place in
the Bolshevik leadership from 1922 to 1934 refutes many well-ingrained lies
and prejudices. It is patently false that Stalin did not allow other leaders
to express themselves freely and that he ruled like a `tyrant' over the Party.
Debates and struggles took place openly and over an extended period of time.
Fundamentally different ideas confronted each other violently, and socialism's
very future was at stake. Both in theory and in practice, the leadership
around Stalin showed that it followed a
line and the different
opportunist factions expressed the interests of the old and new bourgeoisies.
Stalin was not only careful and patient in the struggle, he even allowed
opponents who claimed that they had understood their errors to return to the
leadership. Stalin really believed in the honesty of the self-criticisms
presented by his former opponents.
Next: The trials and
Up: The Great Purge
Previous: Alexander Zinoviev
Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995