"'Left-Wing' Communism, an Infantile Disorder."
not see the danger of the restoration of capitalism; it does not understand the
mechanism of the class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat and
therefore so readily agrees to make concessions to capitalism, demanding a
slowing down of the rate of development of our industry, demanding concessions
for the capitalist elements in town and country, demanding that the question of
collective farms and state farms be relegated to the background, demanding that
the monopoly of foreign trade be relaxed, etc., etc.
There is no doubt that the triumph of the Right deviation
in our Party would unleash the forces of capitalism, undermine the revolutionary
positions of the proletariat and increase the chances of the restoration of
capitalism in our country.
Where does the danger of the "Left" (Trotskyite) deviation
in our Party lie? In the fact that it overestimates the strength of our
enemies, the strength of capitalism; it sees only the possibility of the
restoration of capitalism, but cannot see the possibility of building socialism
by the efforts of our country; it gives way to despair and is obliged to console
itself with chatter about Thermidor tendencies in our Party.
From the words of Lenin that "as long as we live in a
small peasant country, there is a surer economic basis for capitalism in Russia
than for communism," the "Left" deviation draws the false conclusion that it is
impossible to build socialism in the U.S.S.R. at all; that we cannot get
anywhere with the peasantry; that the idea of an alliance between the working
class and the peasantry is an obsolete idea; that unless a victorious revolution
in the West comes to our aid the dictatorship of the proletariat in the U.S.S.R.
must fall or degenerate; that unless we adopt the fantastic plan of
super-industrialization, even at the cost of a split with the peasantry, the
cause of socialism in the U.S.S.R. must be regarded as doomed.
Hence the adventurism in the policy of the "Left"
deviation. Hence its "superhuman" leaps in the sphere of policy.
There is no doubt that the triumph of the "Left" deviation
in our Party would lead to the working class being separated from its peasant
base, to the vanguard of the working class being separated from the rest of the
working-class masses, and, consequently, to the defeat of the proletariat and to
facilitating conditions for the restoration of capitalism.
You see, therefore, that both these dangers, the "Left"
and the Right, both these deviations from the Leninist line, the Right and the
"Left," lead to the same result, although from different directions.
Which of these dangers is worse? In my opinion one is as
bad as the other.
The difference between these deviations from the point of
view of successfully combating them consists in the fact that the danger of the
"Left" deviation is at the present moment more obvious to the Party than the
danger of the Right deviation. The fact that an intense struggle has been waged
against the "Left" deviation for several years now has, of course, not been
without its value for the Party. It is clear that the Party has learnt a great
deal in the years of the fight against the "Left," Trotskyite deviation and
cannot now be easily deceived by "Left" phrases.
As for the Right danger, which existed before, but which
has now become more prominent because of the growth of the petty-bourgeois
elemental forces resulting from last year's grain-procurement crisis, I think it
is not quite so obvious to certain sections of our Party. That is why our task
must be -- while not in the least relaxing the fight against the "Left,"
Trotskyite danger -- to lay the emphasis on the fight against the Right
deviation and to take all measures to make the danger
of this deviation as obvious to the Party as the Trotskyite danger.
The question of the Right deviation would not, perhaps, be
as acute as it is now, were it not for the fact that it is connected with the
difficulties accompanying our development. But the whole point is that the
existence of the Right deviation complicates the difficulties accompanying our
development and hinders our efforts to overcome these difficulties. And for the
very reason that the Right danger hinders the efforts to overcome the
difficulties, the question of overcoming the Right danger has assumed
particularly great importance for us.
A few words about the nature of our difficulties. It
should be borne in mind that our difficulties should by no means be regarded as
difficulties of stagnation or decline. There are difficulties that arise at a
time of economic decline or stagnation, and in such cases efforts are made to
render the stagnation less painful, or the decline less profound. Our
difficulties have nothing in common with difficulties of that kind. The
characteristic feature of our difficulties is that they are difficulties of
expansion, difficulties of growth. When we speak about difficulties we
usually mean by what percentage industry ought to be expanded, by what
percentage the crop area ought to be enlarged, by how many poods the crop
yield ought to be increased, etc., etc. And because our difficulties are
those of expansion, and not of decline or stagnation, they should not be
anything particularly dangerous for the Party.
But difficulties are difficulties, nevertheless. And since
in order to overcome difficulties it is necessary to exert all efforts, to
display firmness and endurance, and since not everybody possesses sufficient
firmness and endurance -- perhaps as a result of fatigue and overstrain, or
because of a preference for a quiet life, free from struggle and commotion -- it
here that vacillations and waverings begin to take place, tendencies to adopt
the line of least resistance, talk about slowing down the rate of industrial
development, about making concessions to the capitalist elements, about
rejecting collective farms and state farms and, in general, everything that goes
beyond the calm and familiar conditions of the daily routine.
But unless we overcome the difficulties in our path we
shall make no progress. And in order to overcome the difficulties we must first
defeat the Right danger, we must first overcome the Right deviation, which is
hindering the fight against the difficulties and is trying to undermine our
Party's will to fight and overcome the difficulties.
I am speaking, of course, of a real fight against the
Right deviation, not a verbal, paper fight. There are people in our Party who,
to soothe their conscience, are quite wiiling to proclaim a hght against the
Right danger in the same way as priests sometimes cry, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"
But they will not undertake any practical measures at all to organize the fight
against the Right deviation on a firm basis, and to overcome this deviation in
actual fact. We call this tendency a conciliatory tendency towards the
Right, frankly opportunist, deviation. It is not difficult to understand that
the fight against this conciliatory tendency is an integral part of the general
fight against the Right deviation, against the Right danger. For it is
impossible to overcome the Right, opportunist deviation without waging a
systematic fight against the conciliatory tendency, which takes the opportunists
under its wing.
The question who are the exponents of the Right deviation
is undoubtedly of interest, although it is not of decisive importance. We came
across exponents of the Right danger in our lower Party organizations during the
grain-procurement crisis last year, when a number of Communists in the volosts
and villages opposed the Party's policy and worked towards forming a bond with
kulak elements. As you know, such people were cleared out of the Party last
spring, a matter specially referred to in the document of the Central Committee
of our Party in February this year.
But it would be wrong to say that there are no such people
left in our Party. If we go higher up, to the uyezd and gubernia Party
organizations, or if we dig deepet into the Soviet and co-operative apparatus,
we could without difficulty find exponents of the Right danger and conciliation
towards it. We know of "letters," "declarations," and other documents written by
a number of functionaries in our Party and Soviet apparatus, in which the drift
towards the Right deviation is quite distinctly expressed. You know that these
letters and documents were referred to in the verbatim report of the July plenum
of the Central Committee.
If we go higher still, and ask about the members of the
Central Committee, we shall have to admit that within the Central Committee,
too, there are certain elements, very insignificant it is true, of a
conciliatory attitude towards the Right danger. The verbatim report of the July
plenum of the Central Committee provides direct proof of this.
Well, and what about the Political Bureau? Are there any
deviations in the Political Bureau? In the Political Bureau there are neither
Right nor "Left" deviations nor conciliators towards those deviations. This must
be said quite categorically. It is time to put a stop to the tittle-tattle
spread by enemies of the Party and by the oppositionists of all kinds about
there being a Right deviation, or a conciliatory attitude towards the Right
deviation, in the Political Bureau of our Central Committee.
Were there vacillations and waverings in the Moscow
organization, or in its top leadership, the Moscow Committee? Yes, there were.
It would be absurd to assert now that there were no waverings, no vacillations
there. The candid speech made by Penkov is direct proof of this. Penkov is by no
means the least important person in the Moscow organization and in the Moscow
Committee. You heard him plainly and frankly admit that he had been wrong on a
number of important questions of our Party policy. That does not mean, of
course, that the Moscow Committee as a whole was subject to vacillation. No, it
does not mean that. A document like the appeal of the Moscow Committee to the
members of the Moscow organization in October of this year undoubtedly shows
that the Moscow Committee has succeeded in overcoming the vacillations of
certain of its members. I have no doubt that the leading core of the Moscow
Committee will be able completely to straighten out the situation.
Certain comrades are dissatisfied with the fact that the
district organizations interfered in this matter and demanded that an end be put
to the mistakes and vacillations of certain leaders of the Moscow organization.
I do not see how this dissatisfaction can be justified. What is there wrong
about district activists of the Moscow organization raising the demand that an
end be put to mistakes and vacillations? Does not our work proceed under the
slogan of self-criticism from below? Is it not a fact that self-criticism
increases the activity of the Party rank and file and of the proletarian rank
and file in general? What is there wrong or dangerous in the fact that the
district activists proved equal to the situation?
Did the Central Committee act rightly in interfering in
this matter? I think that it did. Berzin thinks that the Central Committee acted
too drastically in demanding the removal of
one of the district leaders to whom the district organization was opposed. That
is absolutely wrong. Let me remind Berzin of certain incidents in 1919 or 1920,
when some members of the Central Committee who were guilty of certain, in my
opinion, not very serious errors in respect of the Party line were, on Lenin's
suggestion, subjected to exemplary punishment, one of them being sent to
Turkestan, and the other almost paying the penalty of expulsion from the Central
Was Lenin right in acting as he did? I think he was quite
right. The situation in the Central Committee then was not what it is now. Half
the members of the Central Committee followed Trotsky, and the situation in the
Central Committee was not a stable one. The Central Committee today is acting
much more mildly. Why? Is it, perhaps, because we want to be more gentle than
Lenin? No, that is not the point. The point is that the position of the Central
Committee is more stable now than it was then, and the Central Committee can
afford to act more mildly.
Nor is Sakharov right in asserting that the intervention
of the Central Committee was belated. Sakharov is wrong because he evidently
does not know that, properly speaking, the intervention of the Central Committee
began in February of this year. Sakharov can convince himself of that if he
desires. It is true that the intervention of the Central Committee did not
immediately yield required results. But it would be strange to blame the Central
Committee for that.
1) The Right danger is a serious danger in our Party, for
it is rooted in the social and economic situation in our country.
2) The danger of the Right deviation is aggravated by the
existence of difficulties which cannot be overcome unless the Right deviation
and conciliation towards it are overcome.
3) In the Moscow organization there were vacillations and
waverings, there were elements of instability.
4) The core of the Moscow Committee, with the help of the
Central Committee and the district activists, took all measures to put an end to
5) There can be no doubt that the Moscow Committee will
succeed in overcoming the mistakes which began to take shape in the past.
6) Our task is to put a stop to the internal struggle, to
unite the Moscow organization into a single whole, and to carry through the
elections in the Party units successfully on the basis of fully developed