Trotskyism Counter-Revolution in Disguise
The Trotskyites in the U.S.A.
BY the end of 1928 a group of Trotskyites was expelled from the
Communist Party of the U.S.A. This group, by Cannon and Shachtman, had formed a
faction within the Communist Party and had begun to carry on an anti-Party
campaign. The Party at that time was divided into two factions: the Fosterites
and the Lovestoneites—and these factions led an almost open existence. At any
rate, they were known both to the Party membership and to the Communist
international to exist. The Trotskyites, true to the tradition their chief, kept
the existence of their faction a secret. They had never undertaken to discuss
Trotskyism within the Party committees. They had never advanced any program
different from the program of the existing factions. In fact, they pretended
that they had no differences of opinion that would clash with the opinions of
one or the other faction. Nevertheless they banded together in a secret group
hatching a conspiracy against the Party as a whole.
They were a group of a dozen or two intellectuals without a mass base. Their
nominal leader, Cannon, a former lawyer, had no background of either ideological
or organizational work. He had been a member of the Central Committee in the
days when Party life was abnormal, but he never had any contact with broad
masses of workers. Shachtman, who became the “theoretician” of the Trotskyites,
had been a minor functionary in the Party. They had no roots in the working
class. Their “activities” in the U.S. consist in slandering the Soviet Union and
the Comintern, and in vilifying the Communist Party of the U.S.A. At times they
inject themselves into an economic struggle of the workers—only to help the
reactionary union bureaucrats—and the bosses.
We shall confine ourselves to a few characteristic samples.
On June 23, 1931, Stalin delivered a speech at a conference of leaders of
Soviet industry on “New Conditions, New Tasks”. In this speech Stalin enumerated
six points—six new conditions for the development of industry. The first three
points dealt with the organization of work, the organization of wages and the
improvement of the conditions of the workers, the fourth point dealt with the
task of bringing forward and developing the best elements of the working class
so that “the working class of the U.S.S.R. has its own industrial and technical
intelligentsia”. “It is not any kind of highly trained personnel, of engineers
and technicians, that we need”, Stalin said. “We need such as are capable of
understanding the policy of the working class of our country, who are capable of
absorbing that policy and are prepared to carry it out conscientiously. And what
does that imply? It implies that our country has entered on a phase of its
development where the working class must create its own technical and industrial
intelligentsia, one that is capable of protecting its interests in production as
the interests of the governing class.” Stalin then points out that the
industrial and technical intelligentsia is to be recruited not only from people
who have passed through higher schools of learning, “but also from the rank and
file workers in our industries, from the skilled workers, from the working class
cultural forces in the mines, factories, and workshops. . . . We must not
ignore and overlook these workers with initiative, but advance them boldly to
commanding positions, give them the opportunity to display their capacity for
organization and the opportunity to extend their knowledge, and create suitable
conditions for them to work in, and not spare any expense for this purpose.”
[Our emphasis—M. J. O.]
The fifth point dealt with the engineers and technicians of the old school.
Stalin said the Soviet Union must make greater use of these technical forces.
There is a new mental attitude on the part of the old bourgeois intelligentsia,
says Stalin. Many of the old intellectuals who formerly sympathized with the
wreckers have now turned toward the Soviet. “If, during the height of the
wrecking movement”, says Stalin, “we adopted smashing tactics towards the old
technical intelligentsia, now, when these intellectuals are turning towards the
Soviet Power, our policy towards them must be one of conciliation and
solicitude. It would be foolish and unwise to regard almost every expert and
engineer of the old schools as an undetected criminal and wrecker.” The sixth
point dealt with introducing more efficient business accounting and with the
necessity “to increase the accumulation of capital within industry itself”
(Joseph Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II, pp. 426-412).
The speech had the effect of a vitalizing force throughout the Soviet Union.
Here was a number of practical suggestions which actually showed the way of
improving work both in industry and agriculture. Here was a new vista opened,
only confirming Stalin’s previous statement that there were no fortresses the
Bolsheviks could not take. A thrill of joy passed through the Soviet land
because in this speech millions and millions of workers and engineers saw
encouragement for their work and the deep conviction that the momentous task of
the Five-Year Plan could be achieved.
But what did the American Trotskyites have to say about Stalin’s speech? They
saw in it—a step backward. “There is no doubt that the whole spirit of
Stalin’s ‘new policy’, the formal and official adoption of which is naturally a
foregone conclusion, marks a new step backward from the revolutionary policies
of Lenin’s time”, says The Militant for July 11, 1931. Why this is a
step backward, the Trotskyites cannot explain. Wherein it differs from the
policies of Lenin, except that it deals with new problems on a new stage of
development, is equally difficult to detect.
But lo, these Trotskyites have discovered a hook on which to hang their
calumnies. “Socialism,” says The Militant “cannot be built up by
bourgeois specialists. Not even the foundation for a socialist economy can be
laid by them. They can be of great aid, but the main task requires the
whole-hearted enthusiastic, collective initiative, self-activity and
participation of the proletarian masses.”
It would seem from the above that Stalin, the initiator of socialist
competition, is against collective initiative and self-activity of the
proletariat. The Trotskyite gentry assume that their readers did not read
This is about the size of all their attacks on the U.S.S.R. Action that was
intended to hasten socialist construction, action that marked a decisive step
forward in the completion of the Five-Year Plan is pictured as surrender to the
bourgeoisie, as a step backward.
And so it goes on to this very day.
Their attitude towards the Communist International is exemplified by their
attitude towards the Soviet Union. When the world proletariat celebrated the new
victory achieved by the dictatorship of the proletariat through the recognition
of the Soviet government by the government of the United States, the Trotskyites
joined with the Social-Democrats of all stripes and with the bourgeoisie in
picturing the recognition as a surrender on the part of the Communist
International. The terms of the agreement between Litvinov and Roosevelt, which
followed exactly the line laid down by Lenin in 1919 for similar problems at
that time, were interpreted to mean that the Soviet government agrees to the
abandonment of Communist activities in the United States. By this the
Trotskyites, first, concurred in the bourgeois contention that the Soviet
government and the Comintern are one and the same thing, secondly, they were
trying to interpret a victory of the world proletariat as a defeat.
The rôles were divided. Trotsky hypocritically assured the American
bourgeoisie through the New Republic that it had nothing to fear of
Soviet recognition, while the American Trotskyites dilated upon the “betrayal”
of Communism by the Comintern.
“The more decisively the Soviet bureaucracy has intrenched
itself in its position as to national socialism, the more the questions of
international revolution, and with them the Comintern, have been relegated to
the background. . . . The present Soviet Government seeks, with might and main,
to insure its internal security against risk connected not only with wars but
revolutions. Its international policies have been transformed from
international-revolutionary policies into those which are conservative.” (Leon
Trotsky, The New Republic, November 1, 1933.)
Said The Militant of October 21, 1933:
“The Comintern is dead for the revolution. . . . The present
Comintern is an expensive apparatus for the weakening of the proletarian
vanguard. That is all! It is not capable of doing more. . . . The Comintern, as
the central apparatus, has become a brake on the revolutionary movement.”
The Trotskyites give their support to the lie of the bourgeoisie that the
Comintern is an agency of the Soviet Government, that the Soviet Government is
directly dictating the policies of the Communist Parties in the capitalist
countries. This is one of their many ways of helping reaction.
Their fulminations against the Comintern must not be understood as an
expression of their displeasure with the slow progress of the world revolution.
The fact is that the greater the achievements of the Soviet Union and the higher
the rising wave of revolutionary movements the world over, the louder the
Trotskyites shout that the Soviet Union is in a state of collapse and the
Comintern is “dead”.
The attitude of the Trotskyites towards the Communist Part of the U.S.A. is
naturally dictated by the same sentiments. Just at the time when the Communist
Party of the U.S.A., having to make headway, just at the time when it actually
put itself at the head of large masses of unemployed, actually formulating their
demands and leading them in numerous struggles for bread, for unemployment
insurance, just at the time when it was increasingly connecting itself with mass
strikes of workers in the basic industries, forming their most militant and
class-conscious vanguard, just at the time when the Party was beginning to
function as a real Communist Party which was inspiring even sections of the
petty bourgeoisie with confidence and the ruling class with fear, the
Trotskyites found the following to say about it:
“The Communist Party of the United States has, in general, only
stagnation or regression to record. . . . The leadership imposed upon the Party
behind its back at the Seventh Convention has showed a tragic bankruptcy in all
fields. [The party leadership was duly elected at a convention of duly elected
delegates after a two-months’ discussion in the on units of the Party, in
Section and District conferences on the problems of the day, the program and
tactics of the Communist Party—M. J. O.] The crisis in the leadership of the
Communist Party has assumed a permanent character, increasing in acuteness in
district proportion to the increasing possibilities of success. [Just at the
time the leadership of the Party was gaining the confidence of the rank and file
in a manner never known in its history. For the first time there was being
established a real understanding and mutual confidence between leadership and
the bulk of the Party. This expressed itself in a new spirit of hopefulness and
enthusiasm among the Party members—a spirit which infected non-Party members—M.
J. O.]. The party members are ruled like political serfs, the regime is
increasingly mechanized; all live and free internal life, all initiative, all
inquiry and discussion of vital problems are strangled upon appearance. [This
was the time when the wave of mass strikes in which the Party participated, and
the movement of the unemployed which the Party initiated, organized and led,
necessitated the broadest discussion of the new tasks confronting the Party, the
new methods of work to be applied, and the initiative from below that had to be
stimulated. It is just at that time that new life was poured into the lower
units of the Party, and for the first time in many years there was a real,
throbbing vitality permeating many sections of the Party—M. J. O.]. The
membership is taught a reactionary contempt for theoretical considerations and
is instilled instead with a vulgar ‘practicalness’. It is told, in effect, to do
the work it is commanded to and not to do any thinking or discussing about it.
[In the last few years, especially since the unification of the Party in 1929,
the sale of literature increased tenfold. Fundamental works of Marx, Engels,
Lenin, were distributed among the Party members and the workers generally by the
hundreds of thousands. Rich libraries of pamphlets dealing with every phase of
American and international life were published. Party problems, in the first
place the necessity of theoretical study, are being discussed not only in closed
Party units, but also in open membership gatherings to which every worker is
admitted. Never has the Party led such an intense ideological life as it does at
present—M. J. O.] It is constantly taken by surprise with new ‘turns’, in which
the old policy is just as little explained away as the new policy is justified.
[If the Party were not adapting itself to new conditions, the Trotskyites would
say that it is stagnating; when it does adapt itself to changing conditions thet
call it ‘sudden turns’.—M. J. O.]” (The Militant, July 25, 1931.
“Thesis for Pre-Conference Discussion.”)
The unwary reader, upon seeing the Trotskyites denounce what they call
bueaucratism and “stagnation”, would naturally conclude that those people are
Bolsheviks who like nothing better than to advance the cause of the revolution.
Nothing of the kind. They let the cat out of the bag in the following “demand”
to the Party:
“The Party must discard its exaggerated analysis of the tempo
of development of the working class and must adjust its course to the real
relationship of forces in the class struggle and the pace of its development.
The Party must finally rid itself of the ruinous baggage of remnants of the
‘third period’ and particularly of the theory of ‘social fascism’.” (Ibid.)
Here we have it. The Party, don’t you see, overestimates the tempo of the
revolutionary development in the U.S.A. The Trotskyites do not believe there is
such a development in existence. In 1931, two years after the beginning of the
crisis, they deny the possibility of a revolutionary upsurge. They still persist
that there is no such thing as the third period. There is no radicalization, in
their opinion. Above all things they are wroth at the fact that the Communists
call the Waldmans, Solomons, Lees, Cahans, Pankens, and other reactionaries in
the leadership of the Socialist Party social-fascists. Mr. Cannon does not think
that they are social-fascists. He thinks they are good Socialists. The Party is
doing them wrong.
Before elections the Trotskyites sanctimoniously “endorse” the Communist
Party. They write in their Militant: “Vote Communist.” In the article
itself they explain that the vote is to show “how negatively have the wrong
Stalinist policies and program repelled this Leftward shift”. In other words,
they appeal to the voters to show that the Communists are wrong. How can they
show it? Naturally, by refraining from voting the Communist ticket.
They call this “strategy”. The strategy of renegades.
The practical activities of the Trotskyites are limited mainly to
interference of tiny grouplets with the undertakings of the workers under
Communist leadership, be it strikes, the movements of the unemployed,
demonstrations or hunger marches. Here is an example:
The Communist Party is organizing a national hunger march for the end of
November, 1932. The hunger march is a real united front movement. The delegates
are elected at meetings of labor unions, unemployed councils, mass meetings,
mass workers’ conferences. The overwhelming majority of the delegates are
non-Party workers. Many of them participate for the first time in mass action.
The Trotskyites, who ostensibly clamor for the united front, are here to pour
some of their venom in connection with the march. What do they have to say?
Simply this—that the leadership of the march does not advocate unemployment
insurance. “Immediate relief is to replace unemployment insurance as the main
central slogan”, so they interpret the movement. Their task is to show that the
hunger march is not to be supported. They call it “a subordinated auxiliary
Communist work”—thereby implying that as such it does not deserve actual support
(The Militant, Nov. 5, 1932).
Such are the tactics of the Trotskyites. That much is the value of their
declamation about the united front.
It cannot be said that they were a factor in the strike movement of the last
years. Only in isolated cases, by sufferance of the leaders of the A. F. of L.,
did individual Trotskyites inject themselves into a strike situation—there to
carry out the policies of the reformists. In the Paterson textile strike of
September-October, 1933, which was betrayed by the Lovestoneites, Keller and
Rubenstein, the participation of the Trotskyites expressed itself mainly in
collaboration with the union bureaucrats. The Communists were called splitters
and traitors whereas Keller and Rubenstein were painted as the real fighters.
In one instance they did succeed in assuming part of the leadership of a
strike and that was in the truck drivers’ strike in Minneapolis in the summer of
1934. Three Trotskyites, Brown, Dunne and Skoglund, were the leaders of Local
574 of the General Drivers’ Union under whose auspices the strike was conducted.
These leaders gave the strike a typical reformist turn.
The employers were trying to spread the red scare. The leaders of Local 574,
instead of explaining to the workers the meaning of such a scare, denied that
they were Communists. In a leaflet issued during the strike we read:
“Don’t allow the red scare to keep you from coming to this
meeting. If we were ‘Reds’ and ‘Communists’, why haven’t we pulled the petroleum
industry out on strike where a large part of our organization is?”
This was subsequently lauded by The Militant as “facing the issue
“In ’Frisco, the cry of Communist tore a deep hole in the
strike front. In Minneapolis, it was a complete dud. The leaders faced the issue
squarely. They did not rush into print denying their accusations. Nor did they
shout their opinions to the wide world.” (The Militant, August 25,
There was the issue of martial law in connection with that strike. Governor
Olson of Minnesota declared martial law in Minneapolis. The employers, organized
in the Citizens’ Alliance, fought the martial law because they did not want
Olson to have too much power and because they believed that the strike could be
well taken care of by local police. The Citizens’ Alliance applied in the courts
for an injunction against martial law. The governor stood firm against the
lifting of martial law. The Trotskyites upheld the governor. Brown,
president of Local 574, declared: “We are naturally pleased to see the
governor’s hand upheld in his declaration of martial law and I believe that the
decision contributes to the development of conditions likely to end this
The Trotskyites proceeded from the premise that Olson, being a
Farmer-Laborite, is really not representing the capitalists, that he is some
kind of a neutral person who can be swayed one way or another.
The continuation of martial law meant the defeat of the strike. Instead of
fighting martial law by continuing mass picketing, by broadening the strike, by
calling out other industries for the support of the truck drivers’ strike, the
Trotskyites put their hope in Olson.
There was a great sentiment for a general strike in Minneapolis. The
Communist Party advanced the idea of a united labor conference which should
decide the question of a general strike “with the object to fight for the rights
of the workers to join unions of their own choice, for the right to picket, for
freedom of speech and assemblage, the release of our brothers in the stockade
and for the lifting of all military regulations, which threaten to break the
strike”. The Communists pointed to the experience of San Francisco where a
general strike tied up nearly all economic activities for five days. They said:
What was done in San Francisco can be done in Minneapolis. The Trotskyites were
faced with such an overwhelming sentiment of the workers in favor of the general
strike that they could not reject it point blank. They did it—by referring the
question to the leaders of the A. F. of L. in Minnesota.
Says the Organizer, official strike organ, August 18, 1934:
“In view of the concerted attack on Local 574 by all the forces
of capital, is labor ready to bring its own reserves into action [i.e.,
call a general strike—M. J. O.]? That is the question. The answer rests, first,
with the leaders of organized labor in Minneapolis, and second, with the rank
and file of the individual unions with whom the power of decision rests.”
“The leaders of organized labor”—those were the reformists of the Central
Labor Union of Minneapolis who were opposed tooth and nail to the general
The general strike was killed. The truck drivers’ demands were not satisfied
although the strikers had the power to force concessions from the
* * *
What is the rôle of the Trotskyites? They cover themselves with revolutionary
phrases. They make believe they are terribly concerned over the progress of the
world revolution. In reality they hamper the revolutionary movement by their
propaganda and their tactics. This small band of disgruntled petty-bourgeois
individuals has one aim—to discredit revolutionary theory and revolutionary
The following passage from one of the Trotskyite “theses” fits the authors
perfectly. “The task of the Left Opposition”, they say, “is not the organization
of a new party out of the semi-reformist, semi-syndicalist, demoralized,
passive, burned-out elements on the fringe of the Communist movement”. The
Trotskyites unconsciously gave an excellent picture of themselves. These people
have nothing but hatred—hatred for the living revolutionary movement of the
masses, hatred for an organized Bolshevik Party that heads the revolutionary
movement, hatred for democratic centralism which guarantees a maximum of force
with a maximum initiative from below in a Bolshevik Party, hatred for the
prototype of Bolshevism—the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R., hatred for the
leaders of that Party, and hatred for the Communist International.
In the name of “Communism” they speak the same language as Hamilton Fish,
Matthew Woll, William Randolph Hearst, and Abraham Cahan.
Says The Militant for February 10, 1934:
“The fact is that if in the struggle for power the fascists
have borrowed greatly from Bolshevism, then in the last period the Soviet
bureaucracy has familiarized itself with many traits of victorious fascism,
first of all by getting rid of the control of the Party and establishing the
cult of the Leader.”
With an innocent mien the Trotskyites ask: Why is there still such a “harsh”
dictatorship in the Soviet Union? We were told, they say, that Socialism means
the abolition of classes. That being so, there must be no internal enemies left.
Why then a strong government?
“The harsh character of the dictatorship is caused by the need
of suppressing the resistance of the overthrown ruling classes and to undermine
their economic roots. But according to the official theory the basic task of the
workers’ state is in the main achieved. The Second Five-Year Plan will merely
have to complete it.”
“The Second Five-Year Plan . . . . does not foresee at all a
mitigation of government coercion, nor a decrease in the budget of the G.P.U.
The ruling bureaucracy does not prepare in the least to give up its commanding
positions, on the contrary, it supplies them with ever new and more material
guarantees.” (The Militant, February 10, 1934.)
When these lines were written did the Trotskyites of America maintain a
direct connection with the “Leningrad Center” out of which came the
assassination of Kirov, or were they only appraised of its existence? We wonder.
One thing seems clear: when these gentry complain against the “ruling
bureaucracy”, against the G.P.U., against what they call “coercion”, when they
are dissatisfied with discipline that exists, as they say, “even within the
formal framework of the Party”, when they exaggerate about the “harshness” of
the dictatorship of the proletariat, saying that it never was so even “during
the years of the civil war”,—they speak for themselves. They would like the
dictatorship of the proletariat to be lax so as to allow the Trotskyite
disrupters to do their evil work undisturbed.
When they receive a blow, when they see that Soviet justice can be merciless
against the class enemy, they put forward James P. Cannon to propose action.
“We contend [says Cannon] that the present methods of the
Stalin leadership . . . . is aiming a mortal blow at the Russian revolution
itself. The Stalin group would lead the Soviet Union, as it led the German
working class, blindfolded to catastrophe. The international working class is
the one power in the world that can prevent this catastrophe. It must do so in
its own interest, as well as in the interest of the Russian Revolution.
“The international working class must come to the aid of the
Soviet Union now against the mortal dangers which menace it from within.” (The
Militant, December 22, 1934.)
Leaving aside all the protestations of friendship for the “revolution” in the
abstract, for the “working class” generally—what does this outpouring mean? It
is an appeal to action. It prepares the minds of the workers for the support of
intervention in the Soviet Union. It makes the reader believe that anything is
better than the rule of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union.
From this to the decision o£ some inflamed follower to kill the leaders of
the revolution—is only one step.
* * *
Political groups and parties should be judged not by their words, but by
their deeds, we were told by Lenin many times. The crowning deed of the American
Trotskyites reveals them in full light. They fused with the Musteites in the
Workers Party of the U.S.
Who is Muste? We shall quote the Trotskyites themselves. In The Militant
for July 4, 1931, they speak about “the inherent reformist position of the Muste
type of ‘progressive’.” After the formation by Muste of the Conference for
Progressive Labor Action, The Militant had the following to say
editorially. First it enumerated a number of names, one of them a former
Lovestoneite “who renounced even that mild variety of Communism in order to
crawl into the C.P.L.A.”; then another one who was expelled from the Communist
Party and had since been engaged in defending the Hillman regime of blackjacking
the workers; then Muste himself, “the leader of pseudo-progressives in the labor
movement”, and then it continued:
“These are elements without a political home, the classic
exponents of centrism who seek to repeat today the farcical experiment made a
decade ago with the formation of a ‘Two and a Half International’. That the
sponsors of the new Party have their eyes turned towards the recent attempts
made by the ‘Left’ wing leaders of the British Independent Labor Party to build
a new ‘International’ cannot be doubted for an instant. It is equally sure
that the second edition of the Two and a Half International, including its
American ‘section’, will follow the first back into the camp of Social-Democracy
from which it emanated [Our emphasis—M. J. O.]. No other fate is reserved
for the petty-bourgeois politicians who attempt to eke out a brief independent
existence on the basis of the workers’ dissatisfaction with the
Social-Democracy.” (The Militant, August 8, 1931.)
Muste’s Conference for Progressive Labor Action was later transformed into
the American Workers Party. Added to it was a number of disgruntled individuals
who called themselves Communists but whose Communism consisted mainly in
fighting Marxism-Leninism ideologically. Here was Max Eastman, the author of
anti-Marxist books; here was Sidney Hook whose book on Marx is one gross
distortion of Marxism; here was V. F. Calverton who for many years published an
anti-Marxian magazine, etc.
The American Workers Party was formed by adding these individuals to the
Conference for Progressive Labor Action, The moving spirit in the new “Party”
remained the mild progressive reformist, Muste, whose role in the labor unions
consisted in co-operating with the worst labor bureaucrats and covering up their
policies with progressive phrases.
By the end of 1934 the Trotskyite group joined the American Workers Party. It
fused with the Muste group, forming; the Workers Party of the U.S. Cannon hails
this fusion. In The Militant for November 17, 1934, he expresses
confidence that the formation of this “party” will bring about Communist unity.
“The chaos and disintegration will give place to a clear line-up of parties:
Social-Democratic, Stalinist (Centrist) and the party of revolutionary Marxism.”
The party of revolutionary Marxism is the one that consists of Cannon plus
Muste, Eastman, Hook, Calverton and a number of other intellectuals who have
never been Marxists.
By their action will political groups be recognized.
The Trotskyites felt too insignificant. Like the lean cows of Pharaoh they
“ate up” the Musteites “and it could not be known that they had eaten them”.
They boast of having consolidated “revolutionary Marxism”. This is a clown’s
grimace. The new “party” is nothing but a typical two-and-a-half international
formation. That it will sooner or later sink into the lap of the Second
International is attested by the example of the Trotskyite group of France,
which has joined the French Socialist Party.
* * *
An example of Trotskyite veracity.
One of the first acts of the “Workers Party of U.S.” was to greet the
anniversary of Lenin’s death with a leaflet, Lenin’s Testament. This
piece of Trotskyite calumny, which decries “Stalinism” as “rude, disloyal and
bureaucratic”, reproduces what is purported to be an authentic document written
by Lenin in 1923 and “suppressed” by the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. The
document is supposed to state that Trotsky is more fitted to be general
secretary of the Communist Party than Stalin, who is “too rude”.
Of this “Lenin’s will” Trotsky, while still a member of the Communist Party,
had the following to say in an article entitled, Trotsky Trounces Eastman,
published in the Daily Worker (New York) August 8, 1925.
“As for the ‘will’, Lenin never left one, and the very nature
of his relations with the Party as well as the nature of the Party itself made
such a ‘will’ absolutely impossible.
“In the guise of a ‘will’ the emigre and foreign bourgeois and
Menshevik press have all along been quoting one of Lenin’s letters (completely
mutilated) which contains a number of advices on questions of organization.
“All talk about a secreted or infringed ‘will’ is so much
mischievous invention directed against the real will of Lenin, and of the
interests of the Party created by him.”
When it was in Trotsky’s interest to divorce himself from such a “disciple”
as Max Eastman (whose book, Since Lenin Died, was a stench in the
nostrils of every revolutionist) Trotsky wrote a scathing article refuting the
legend about Lenin’s will and concluding with the words: “His (Eastman’s)
booklet can only render service to the worst enemies of Communism and
revolution. It therefore objectively constitutes a weapon of counter-revolution”
(Ibid.). When it was in Trotsky’s interest to make a show of far-flung
influence, Eastman is made one of the pillars of the new “party of revolutionary
Marxism” and the “mischievous invention” is peddled as Lenin’s will. Now Trotsky
again publishes a pamphlet to show that the “testament” was true.
These counter-revolutionists have so much entangled themselves in a network
of lies and falsehoods that they cannot make a single move without perfidy.
Lenin said: “Trotsky always lives on gossip.” “Trotsky deceives the workers
in the most unscrupulous and shameless manner.”
Discussing Lenin’s “Testament” at the Plenary Session of the Central
Committee and the Central Control Commission of the Communist Party of the
Soviet Union in October, 1927, Stalin brought out the fact that the document was
not a “testament”, that it was a letter addressed by Lenin to the Thirteenth
Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, that the letter had been
read at the Thirteenth Congress, and that the Congress unanimously decided not
to publish it, among other reasons because Lenin himself did not wish or ask for
its publication. Such letters addressed by Lenin to individual Party
functionaries and Party conferences were not uncommon. The letters were read by
those to whom they were addressed—and there was no “concealment”. This question
of Lenin’s “Testament” was dealt with repeatedly at the Plenary Sessions of the
Central Committee and Central Control Commission, said Stalin at the above
session—and cries were heard from the floor: “Dozens of times”. Surely the Party
did not overlook the letter in question.
As to the contents of the letter, Stalin pointed out that the Party had
no reason to be dissatisfied with it or try to hide it, because it actually
annihilated three leaders of the opposition, whereas about Stalin it only
mentioned his “rudeness” but found no mistakes in his political line.
Stalin quotes the following passage from Lenin’s letter:
“I shall not characterize any other members of the Central
Committee with regard to their political qualities. I should like merely to
remind you that the October episode [opposition to the seizure of power—M. J.
O.] of Zinoviev and Kamenev was no mere chance occurrence, but that it can just
as little be regarded as a personal fault as Trotsky’s ‘non-Bolshevism’.” (Inprecorr,
No. 64, 1927, p. 1429.)
Stalin calls attention of the session to the fact that,
“. . . . not a single word, not a single allusion in the
‘Testament’ touches on Stalin’s mistakes. Only his rudeness is mentioned. Lack
of civility, however, is not a shortcoming in Stalin’s political attitude or
political position and cannot be so.” (Ibid.)
As to Lenin’s suggestion “that the comrades should discuss the question of
dismissing Comrade Stalin from his post and appointing for it another person
who, in all other respects, is only distinguished from Stalin by one quality,
i.e., that of being more tolerant, loyal, civil, and considerate
towards the comrades, less moody, etc.”, Stalin said:
“Yes, Comrades, I am rude towards those who are rudely and
disloyally destroying and disintegrating the Party. I have never made a secret
of it and shall not do so now. Even at the first meeting of the Plenary Session
of the Central Committee (1924) I handed in my resignation of the function of
General Secretary, asking the Plenary Session to relieve me of this duty. The
Party Congress itself dealt with this question. Every single delegation dealt
with this question, and all the delegations, including Trotsky, Kamenev and
Zinoviev [Our emphasis—M. J. O.] unanimously resolved that Stalin should
remain in his post. What could I do? Relinquish my post? It is not in my
character to do so.
“I have never abandoned a post, whatever post it was. And I
have no right to abandon it, because that would be desertion. As I have said
before: I am not a free man; when the Party binds me, I have to submit. A year
later, I once more handed in my resignation, but the Party again obliged me to
remain in my post. What else could I do?” (Ibid.)
The “fourth international” now preached by the Trotskyites is only a summing
up of the main features of the vanguard of counter-revolution.
The Trotskyites “should begin open, negotiations with the Left Socialist
organizations”, said Cannon in October, 1933, in fulfillment of the program of
his master. The Trotskyites were successful in their negotiations. In France the
Trotskyites joined the Socialist Party in order to strengthen it at the present
epoch when masses of workers are moving to the Left. It is the aim of the
Trotskyites to make the Socialist Party of France more attractive to the
workers. “If the Communists try to disorganize the Socialist Party”, writes
their organ, the Voix Communiste, No. 38, 1934, “then only our ideas
and our methods may inject a revolutionary kernel into the Socialist Party,
enabling it to resist complete crash”. The Trotskyites desire to be that pink
tint on the yellow countenance of the leadership of the Second International
which will keep the workers from joining the ranks of the revolutionary
The merging of the Trotsky group with the party of the Second International
is, in true Trotsky fashion, hailed as a progressive factor.
“We Marxists [says the Voix Communiste, No. 235,
1934,] must acknowledge that at the given moment the merging of the two parties
would be progressive not in comparison with Lenin’s slogans of 1914, not in
comparison with the Tours Congress, but in comparison with the present
situation. As such, the merging of both parties would signify the possibility of
beginning anew. This is the essence of the entire question.”
“The working class movement has been driven into an historical
impasse . . . . and this beginning of the impasse, the ‘capitulation’ is turned
into a progressive factor!” (Both quotations taken from The Communist
International, No. 21, November 5, 1934).
At the time when masses of Socialist workers are becoming dissatisfied with
the policies of the Second International and are joining the united front of
militant action with the Communists, Trotskyites are attempting to return to the
pre-1914 era, to “begin anew”. As if nothing happened in these twenty years. As
if you can turn the wheels of history backward.
Let us see now who’s who in the “fourth international”. The German Trotskyite
group, which was never strong, liquidated itself in January, 1933. Its paper,
Die Permanente Revolution, declared that the estimations of Trotsky as
regard the U.S.S.R., Germany, Spain, all proved wrong. There is hardly a
Trotskyite group now among the German emigrés, not to speak of Germany proper.
There is a tiny group in England, entirely insignificant. There is the French
group which is united in legal wedlock with the Socialist Party. There is the
American group which is united with Muste. They would like to take with them
into the fourth international the whole Socialist Party of France. They will try
to take with them into the fourth international the Workers Party of the U.S.
Can anybody doubt that it will be an international of real
“Bolshevik-Leninists”? Perhaps the fourth international will be joined by
another “Leningrad Center” which, under the slogan of Trotsky-Zinoviev, is just
now hatching new conspiracies against the Soviet leaders.
And this hodge-podge of reformist and Trotskyite degenerates, this pack of
disgruntled intellectuals aching to be mass leaders, this medley of sentiments,
wishes, opinions, programs “plans” all eaten through with hypocrisy, all
covering up reformism with high-sounding “revolutionary” and “Marxist” phrases,
all intended to convey something different from what the principal figures
actually believe—this concoction which is only besmirching the name Communist,
is advanced as that International body which is destined to win away the workers
of the world from the Communist International.
A historical analogy is not out of place here. Between 1912 dud 1914 Trotsky
had a dream of uniting all the factions of the Russian Mensheviks and some of
the “better” Bolsheviks (those whom he hoped to split away from Lenin) into one
big party of which he, Trotsky, would be the acknowledged leader. He had then
his own tiny faction, and published a paper in Vienna. He joined the bloc of
several factions of the Mensheviks known as the August Bloc. He then began to
preach to the Bolsheviks to desert Lenin (whom he considered the leader “of
the reactionary wing” of the Social-Democratic Party) and to join the child
of his brain. His argumentation at that time very much resembles that explaining
the fourth international today. He believed that he represented Marxism “as a
whole”. The Bolsheviks, in his opinion, were one-sided; the Mensheviks were also
one-sided. He, Trotsky, alone was the consummate Marxist.
He formulated his concept in the following words:
“The position which is based on a dialectical combination of
the reformist and the revolutionary tasks of the movement seems to them both [to
the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks] to be ‘conciliationism’ or ‘the golden middle
road’. Having dissected Marxism into parts, they sincerely fail to recognize it
when it appears standing between them in its shape as a whole.” (Borba,
Russian magazine published by Trotsky, No. 1, 1914.)
Here, too, we have “the reformist and the revolutionary tasks” combined as in
the fourth international. Here, too, we have an appeal to the Mensheviks and
Bolsheviks not to be one-sided but to recognize Trotsky as the true leader of
Marxism. Lenin found no words strong enough to castigate this stand.
“Men like Trotsky the wrote], with his inflated phrases about
the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party and with his slavish crawling before
the Liquidators [extreme Right Mensheviks] who have nothing in common with the
Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, are now the ‘affliction of our times’.
They want to make a career on the cheap preachment of ‘conciliation—with
anybody, with everybody. . . . In reality they are preachers of capitulating
before the Liquidators who are building a Stolypin Labor Party [Stolypin was the
Tsar’s prime minister]” (V. I., Lenin Collected Works, Russian Edition,
Vol. XV, p. 197.)
Then as now a wave of revolutionary movement was rising. The darkest times
that followed the Revolution of 1905 were drawing to an end. It was felt that
the workers had recuperated and were ready to start a new round of revolution.
The Bolsheviks advanced the fundamental demands of a republic, confiscation of
the landed estates in favor of the peasants, and the eight-hour day as the most
extreme demands of the impending bourgeois-democratic revolution. Trotsky then
as now thought that the workers were not ready to fight for the extreme demands
of the impending revolution (which today is the proletarian Socialist
revolution). He advanced the slogan of “freedom of association, assemblage and
strikes”—and no more. He conceived this as a step towards the struggle
for a republic. “In order that the struggle for a republic”, he wrote in his
Vienna paper, Pravda, November 29, 1911, “may not be a naked slogan of
a few select ones, it is necessary that you, class-conscious workers, should
teach the masses how to understand in their own practice the necessity of the
freedom of coalition and to struggle for this vital class demand”— a forerunner
of his present advice to make the masses draw conclusions “from their democratic
logic”. Lenin, in commenting upon this slogan, pointed out that “the
revolutionary phrase serves here to cover up and justify the falsity of
Liquidationism, to fill the minds of the workers with rubbish”.
Winding up his characterization of Trotsky, Lenin said:
“It is impossible to argue with Trotsky about principles, for
he has no views at all. It is possible and necessary to argue with convinced
Liquidators and Otzovists [a group of Bolsheviks demanding the recall from the
Duma of the Bolshevik deputies]. With a man who only plays at covering up the
mistakes of both of them, one does not argue: one exposes him as a diplomat of
the lowest order.” (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Russian Edition, Vol.
XV, pp. 303-304.)
Today one exposes Trotsky as a counter-revolutionary renegade who inspires
the murder of revolutionary leaders.