Bolshevik Writers: J. V. Stalin (1879-1953)

J. V. Stalin

NOTES ON
CONTEMPORARY THEMES

Pravda, No. 169
July 28, 1927

From J. V. Stalin, On the Opposition,
Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1974

pp. 726-64.

Based on J. V. Stalin, Works,
Foreign Languages Publishing House,
Moscow, 1954

Vol. 9, pp. 328-69.


Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, djr@cruzio.com (August 1997)


    PUBLISHER'S NOTE

    The articles and speeches by J. V. Stalin contained in English edition of On the Opposition follow the order of the Russian edition put out by the State Publishing House of the Soviet Union in 1928. The English translation, including the notes at the end of the book, is taken from Stalin's Works, Vols. 5-10, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953-54, with some technical changes.

        References in Roman numerals to Lenin's Works mentioned in the text are to the third Russian edition. The English references are indicated by the publisher in footnotes.


    It can scarcely be doubted that the main issue of the present day is that of the threat of a new imperialist war. It is not a matter of some vague and immaterial "danger" of a new war but of the real and actual threat of a new war in general, and of a war against the U.S.S.R. in particular.

    The redivision of the world and of spheres of influence that took place as a result of the last imperialist war has already managed to become "obsolete." Certain new countries (America, Japan) have come to the fore. Certain old countries (Britain) are receding into the background. Capitalist Germany, all but buried at Versailles, is reviving and growing and becoming steadily stronger. Bourgeois Italy, with an en vious eye on France, is creeping upwards.

    A frantic struggle is in progress for markets, for fields of capital export, for the sea and land routes to those markets, for a new redivision of the world. The contradictions between

America and Britain, between Japan and America, between Britain and France, between Italy and France, are growing.

    The contradictions within the capitalist countries are growing, every now and again breaking out in the form of open revolutionary actions of the proletariat (Britain, Austria).

    The contradictions between the imperialist world and the dependent countries are growing, now and again breaking out in the form of open conflicts and revolutionary explosions (China, Indonesia, North Africa, South America).

    But the growth of all these contradictions signifies a growth of the crisis of world capitalism, despite the fact of stabilisation, a crisis incomparably deeper than the one before the last imperialist war. The existence and progress of the U.S.S.R., the land of proletarian dictatorship, only deepens and aggravates this crisis.

    No wonder that imperialism is preparing for a new war, in which it sees the only way out of the crisis. The unparalleled growth of armaments, the general tendency of the bourgeois governments towards fascist methods of "administration," the crusade against the Communists, the frenzied campaign of slander against the U.S.S.R., the outright intervention in China -- all these are different aspects of one and the same phenomenon: the preparation for a new war for a new redivision of the world.

    The imperialists would long ago have come to blows among themselves, were it not for the Communist Parties, which are waging a determined struggle against imperialist war, were it not for the U.S.S.R., whose peaceful policy is a heavy fetter on the instigators of a new war, and were it not for their fear of weakening one another and thus facilitating a new breach of the imperialist front.

    I think that this last circumstance -- that is, the imperialists' fear of weakening one another and thus facilitating a new breach of the imperialist front -- is one of the chief factors which have so far restrained the urge for a mutual slaughter.

    Hence the "natural" endeavour of certain imperialist circles to relegate the contradictions in their own camp to the background, to gloss them over temporarily, to create a united front of the imperialists and to make war on the U.S.S.R., in order to solve the deepening crisis of capitalism even if only partially, even if only temporarily, at the expense of the U.S.S.R.

    The fact that the initiative in this matter of creating a united front of the imperialists against the U.S.S.R. has been assumed by the British bourgeoisie and its general staff, the Conservative Party, should not come as a surprise to us. British capitalism has always been, is, and will be the most malignant strangler of peoples' revolutions. Beginning with the great bourgeois revolution in France at the close of the eighteenth century and down to the revolution now taking place in China, the British bourgeoisie has always been in the front ranks of the suppressors of the movement for the emancipation of mankind. The Soviet people will never forget the violence, robbery and armed invasion to which our country was subjected some years ago thanks to the British capitalists. What, then, is there surprising in the fact that British capitalism and its Conservative Party are again undertaking to lead a war against the centre of the world proletarian revolution, the U.S.S.R.?

    But the British bourgeoisie is not fond of doing its own fighting. It has always preferred to make war through the hands of others. And it has indeed succeeded at times in finding fools willing to serve as cat's-paws for it.

    Such was the case at the time of the great bourgeois revolution in France, when the British bourgeoisie succeeded in forming an alliance of European states against revolutionary France.

    Such was the case after the October Revolution in the U.S.S.R., when the British bourgeoisie, having attacked the U.S.S.R., tried to form an "alliance of fourteen states," and when, in spite of this, they were hurled out of the U.S.S.R.

    Such is the case now in China, where the British bourgeoisie is trying to form a united front against the Chinese revolution.

    It is quite comprehensible that, in preparing for war against the U.S.S.R., the Conservative Party has for several years now been carrying out preparatory work for the formation of a "holy alliance" of large and small states against the U.S.S.R.

    Whereas earlier, until recently, the Conservatives carried out this preparatory work more or less covertly, now, however, they have passed to "direct action," striking open blows at the U.S.S.R. and trying to build their notorious "holy alliance" in sight of all.

    The British Conservative government struck its first open blow in Peking, by the raid on the Soviet Embassy. This raid had at least two aims. It was intended to discover "terrible" documentary evidence of "subversive" activity on the part of the U.S.S.R. which would create an atmosphere of general indignation and provide the basis for a united front against the U.S.S.R. It was intended also to provoke an armed conflict with the Peking government and embroil the U.S.S.R. into a war with China.

    This blow, as we know, failed.

    The second open blow was struck in London, by the raid on ARCOS and the severance of relations with the U.S.S.R. Its aim was to create a united front against the U.S.S.R., to

inaugurate a diplomatic blockade of the U.S.S.R. throughout Europe and to provoke a series of ruptures of treaty relations with the Soviet Union.

    This blow, as we know, also failed.

    The third open blow was struck in Warsaw, by the instigation of the assassination of Voikov. Voikov's assassination, organised by agents of the Conservative Party, was intended by its authors to play a role similar to that of the Sarajevo assassination by embroiling the U.S.S.R. in an armed conflict with Poland.

    This blow also seems to have failed.

    How is it to be explained that these blows have so far not produced the results which the Conservatives expected from them?

    By the conflicting interests of the various bourgeois states, many of whom are interested in maintaining economic relations with the U.S.S.R.

    By the peaceful policy of the U.S.S.R., which the Soviet Government pursues firmly and unwaveringly.

    By the reluctance of the states dependent on Britain -- whether it be the state of Chang Tso-lin or the state of Pilsudski -- to serve as dumb tools of the Conservatives to the detriment of their own interests.

    The noble lords apparently refuse to understand that every state, even the smallest, is inclined to regard itself as an entity, tries to live its own independent life, and is unwilling to hazard its existence for the sake of the bright eyes of the Conservatives. The British Conservatives have omitted to take all these circumstances into account.

    Does this mean that there will be no more blows of this kind? No, it does not. On the contrary, it only means that the blows will be renewed with fresh strength.

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    These blows must not be regarded as a matter of chance. They are naturally prompted by the entire international situation, by the position of the British bourgeoisie both in the "metropolitan country" and in the colonies, by the Conservative Party's position as the ruling party.

    The entire international situation today, all the facts regarding the "operations" of the British Government against the U.S.S.R. -- the fact that it is organising a financial blockade of the U.S.S.R., the fact that it is secretly conferring with the powers on a policy hostile to the U.S.S.R., the fact that it is subsidising the émigré "governments" of the Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, etc., with a view to instigating revolts in these countries of the U.S.S.R., the fact that it is financing bands of spies and terrorists, who blow up bridges, set fire to factories and commit acts of terrorism against U.S.S.R. ambassadors -- all this unmistakably goes to show that the British Conservative government has firmly and determinedly adopted the course of organising war against the U.S.S.R. And it must be considered by no means out of the question that, under certain circumstances, the Conservatives may succeed in getting together some military bloc or other against the U.S.S.R.

    What are our tasks?

    It is our task to sound the alarm in all the countries of Europe over the threat of a new war, to rouse the vigilance of the workers and soldiers of the capitalist countries, and to work, to work indefatigably, to prepare the masses to counter with the full strength of revolutionary struggle every attempt of the bourgeois governments to organise a new war.

    It is our task to pillory all those leaders of the labour movement who "consider" the threat of a new war to be a "figment of the imagination," who lull the workers with pacifist lies,

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who close their eyes to the fact that the bourgeoisie is preparing for a new war -- for these people want the war to catch the workers by surprise.

    The task is for the Soviet Government firmly and unwaveringly to continue its policy of peace, the policy of peaceful relations, notwithstanding the provocative acts of our enemies, notwithstanding pin-pricks to our prestige.

    Provocative elements in the enemy camp taunt us, and will continue to taunt us, with the assertion that our peaceful policy is due to our weakness, to the weakness of our army. Some of our comrades are at times enraged by this, are inclined to succumb to the provocation and to urge the adoption of "vigorous" measures. That is a sign of weak nerves, of lack of stamina. We cannot, and must not, dance to the tune of our enemies. We must go our own way, upholding the cause of peace, demonstrating our desire for peace, exposing the predatory designs of our enemies and showing them up as instigators of war.

    For only such a policy can enable us to weld the masses of the working people of the U.S.S.R. into a single fighting camp if, or rather when, the enemy forces war upon us.

    As regards our "weakness," or the "weakness" of our army, this is not the first time that our enemies have made such a mistake. Some eight years ago, too, when the British bourgeoisie resorted to intervention against the U.S.S.R. and Churchill threatened a campaign of "fourteen states," the bourgeois press shouted about the "weakness" of our army. But all the world knows that both the British interventionists and their allies were ignominiously thrown out of our country by our victorious army.

    Messieurs the instigators of a new war would do well to remember this.

    The task is to increase the defensive capacity of our country, to expand our national economy, to improve our industry -- both war and non-war -- to enhance the vigilance of the workers, peasants and Red Army men of our country, steeling them in the determination to defend the socialist motherland and putting an end to the slackness which, unfortunately, is as yet far from having been eliminated.

    The task is to strengthen our rear and cleanse it of dross, not hesitating to mete out punishment to "illustrious" terrorists and incendiaries who set fire to our mills and factories, because it is impossible to defend our country in the absence of a strong revolutionary rear.

    Recently a protest was received from the well-known leaders of the British labour movement, Lansbury, Maxton and Brockway, against the shooting of the twenty Russian princes and nobles who were guilty of terrorism and arson. I cannot regard those leaders of the British labour movement as enemies of the U.S.S.R. But they are worse than enemies.

    They are worse than enemies because, although they call themselves friends of the U.S.S.R., by their protest they nevertheless make it easier for Russian landlords and British secret agents to go on organising the assassination of representatives of the U.S.S.R.

    They are worse than enemies because by their protest they tend to bring about a state of affairs in which the workers of the U.S.S.R. are left unarmed in face of their sworn enemies.

    They are worse than enemies because they refuse to realise that the shooting of the twenty "illustrious" ones was a necessary measure of self-defence on the part of the revolution.

    It is rightly said: "God save us from such friends; our enemies we can cope with ourselves."

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    As to the shooting of the twenty "illustrious" ones, let the enemies of the U.S.S.R., both internal and external enemies, know that the proletarian dictatorship in the U.S.S.R. is alive and that its hand is firm.

    What, after all this, should be said of our luckless opposition in connection with its latest attacks on our Party in face of the threat of a new war? What should be said of the fact that it, this opposition, has found the war threat an appropriate occasion to intensify its attacks on the Party? What is there creditable in the fact that, instead of rallying around the Party in face of the threat from without, it considers it appropriate to make use of the U.S.S.R.'s difficulties for new attacks on the Party? Can it be that the opposition is against the victory of the U.S.S.R. in the coming battles with imperialism, against increasing the defensive capacity of the Soviet Union, against strengthening our rear? Or, perhaps, it is cowardice in the face of the new difficulties, desertion, a desire to evade responsibility, masked by a blast of Leftist phrases?. . .

II

CHINA

    Now that the revolution in China has entered a new phase of development, we can to some extent sum up the path already travelled and proceed to verify the line of the Comintern in China.

    There are certain tactical principles of Leninism, without due regard for which there can be neither correct leadership of the revolution, nor verification of the Comintern's line in China. These principles have been forgotten by our oppositionists long ago. But just because the opposition suffers from

forgetfulness, it has to be reminded of them again and again.

    I have in mind such tactical principles of Leninism as:

    a) the principle that the nationally peculiar and nationally specific features in each separate country must unfailingly be taken into account by the Comintern when drawing up guiding directives for the working-class movement of the country concerned;

    b) the principle that the Communist Party of each country must unfailingly avail itself of even the smallest opportunity of gaining a mass ally for the proletariat, even if a temporary, vacillating, unstable and unreliable ally;

    c) the principle that unfailing regard must be paid to the truth that propaganda and agitation alone are not enough for the political education of the vast masses, that what is required for that is the political experience of the masses themselves.

    I think that due regard for these tactical principles of Leninism is an essential condition, without which a Marxist verification of the Comintern's line in the Chinese revolution is impossible.

    Let us examine the questions of the Chinese revolution in the light of these tactical principles.

    Notwithstanding the ideological progress of our Party, there are still, unfortunately, "leaders" of a sort in it who sincerely believe that the revolution in China can be directed, so to speak, by telegraph, on the basis of the universally recognised general principles of the Comintern, disregarding the national peculiarities of China's economy, political system, culture, manners and customs, and traditions. What, in fact, distinguishes these "leaders" from real leaders is that they always have in their pockets two or three ready-made formulas, "suitable" for all countries and "obligatory" under all conditions. The necessity of taking into account the nationally

peculiar and nationally specihc features of each country does not exist for them. Nor does the necessity exist for them of co-ordinating the general principles of the Comintern with the national peculiarities of the revolutionary movement in each country, the necessity of adapting these general principles to the national peculiarities of the state in each country.

    They do not understand that the chief task of leadership now that the Communist Parties have grown and become mass parties, is to discover, to grasp, the nationally peculiar features of the movement in each country and skilfully co-ordinate them with the Comintern's general principles, in order to facilitate and make feasible the basic aims of the Communist movement.

    Hence the attempts to stereotype the leadership for all countries. Hence the attempts mechanically to implant certain general formulas, regardless of the concrete conditions of the movement in different countries. Hence the endless conflicts between the formulas and the revolutionary movement in the different countries, as the main outcome of the leadership of these pseudo-leaders.

    It is precisely to this category of pseudo-leaders that our oppositionists belong.

    The opposition has heard that a bourgeois revolution is taking place in China. It knows, furthermore, that the bourgeois revolution in Russia took place in opposition to the bourgeoisie. Hence the ready-made formula for China : down with all joint action with the bourgeoisie, long live the immediate withdrawal of the Communists from the Kuomintang (April 1926).

    But the opposition has forgotten that, unlike the Russia of 1905, China is a semi-colonial country oppressed by imperialism; that, in consequence of this, the revolution in China is not

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simply a bourgeois revolution, but a bourgeois revolution of an anti-imperialist type; that, in China, imperialism controls the principal threads of industry, trade and transport; that imperialist oppression affects not only the Chinese labouring masses, but also certain sections of the Chinese bourgeoisie; and that, in consequence, the Chinese bourgeoisie may, under certain conditions and for a certain period, support the Chinese revolution.

    And that, as we know, is in fact what occurred. If we take the Canton period of the Chinese revolution, the period when the national armies had reached the Yangtse, the period prior to the split in the Kuomintang, it has to be admitted that the Chinese bourgeoisie supported the revolution in China, that the Comintern's line that joint action with this bourgeoisie is permissible for a certain period and under certain conditions proved to be absolutely correct.

    The result is the retreat of the opposition from its old formula and its proclamation of a "new" formula, namely, joint action with the Chinese bourgeoisie is essential, the Communists must not withdraw from the Kuomintang (April 1927) .

    That was the first punishment that befell the opposition for refusing to take into account the national peculiarities of the Chinese revolution.

    The opposition has heard that the Peking government is squabbling with the representatives of the imperialist states over the question of customs autonomy for China. The opposition knows that it is primarily the Chinese capitalists that need customs autonomy. Hence the ready-made formula: the Chinese revolution is a national, anti-imperialist revolution, because its chief aim is to win customs autonomy for China.

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    But the opposition has forgotten that the strength of imperialism in China does not lie mainly in the customs restrictions in China, but in the fact that it owns mills, factories, mines, railways, steamships, banks and trading firms in that country, which suck the blood of the millions of Chinese workers and peasants.

    The opposition has forgotten that the revolutionary struggle of the Chinese people against imperialism is due first and foremost to the fact that imperialism in China is the force that supports and inspires the immediate exploiters of the Chinese people -- the feudal lords, militarists, capitalists, bureaucrats, etc. -- and that the Chinese workers and peasants cannot defeat their exploiters without at the same time waging a revolutionary struggle against imperialism.

    The opposition forgets that it is precisely this circumstance that is one of the major factors making possible the growing over of the bourgeois revolution in China into a socialist revolution.

    The opposition forgets that anyone who declares that the Chinese anti-imperialist revolution is a revolution for customs autonomy denies the possibility of the growing over of the bourgeois revolution in China into a socialist revolution, for he places the revolution under the leadership of the Chinese bourgeoisie.

    And, indeed, the facts have since shown that customs autonomy is in essence the platform of the Chinese bourgeoisie, because even such inveterate reactionaries as Chang Tso-lin and Chiang Kai-shek now declare in favour of the abolition of the unequal treaties and the establishment of customs autonomy in China.

    Hence the opposition's divided stand, its attempts to wriggle out of its own formula about customs autonomy, its surrepti-

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tious attempts to renounce this formula and to hitch on to the Comintern's stand that the growing over of the bourgeois revolution in China into a socialist revolution is possible.

    That was the second punishment that befell the opposition for refusing to make a serious study of the national peculiarities of the Chinese revolution.

    The opposition has heard that the merchant bourgeoisie has penetrated the Chinese countryside, leasing land to poor peasants. The opposition knows that the merchant is not a feudal lord. Hence the ready-made formula: feudal survivals, hence also the struggle of the peasantry against feudal survivals, are of no serious importance in the Chinese revolution, and that the chief thing in China today is not the agrarian revolution, but the question of China's state-customs dependence on the imperialist countries.

    The opposition, however, fails to see that the specific feature of China's economy is not the penetration of merchant capital into the countryside, but a combination of the domination of feudal survivals with the existence of merchant capital in the Chinese countryside, along with the preservation of medieval feudal methods of exploiting and oppressing the peasantry.

    The opposition fails to understand that the entire military-bureaucratic machine which today so inhumanly robs and oppresses the Chinese peasantry is essentially a political superstructure on this combination of the domination of feudal survivals and feudal methods of exploitation with the existence of merchant capital in the countryside.

    And, indeed, the facts have since shown that a gigantic agrarian revolution has developed in China, directed first and foremost against the Chinese feudal lords, big and small.

    The facts have shown that this revolution embraces tens of millions of peasants and is tending to spread over the whole of China.

    The facts have shown that feudal lords -- real feudal lords of flesh and blood -- not only exist in China, but wield power in a number of provinces, dictate their will to the military commanders, subordinate the Kuomintang leadership to their influence, and strike blow after blow at the Chinese revolution.

    To deny, after this, the existence of feudal survivals and a feudal system of exploitation as the main form of oppression in the Chinese countryside, to refuse to recognise that the agrarian revolution is the main factor in the Chinese revolutionary movement at the present time, would be flying in the face of obvious facts.

    Hence the opposition's retreat from its old formula regarding feudal survivals and the agrarian revolution. Hence the opposition's attempt to slink away from its old formula and tacitly to recognise the correctness of the Comintern's position.

    That is the third punishment which has befallen the opposition for its unwillingness to take into account the national peculiarities of China's economy.

    And so on'and so forth.

    Disharmony between formulas and reality -- such is the lot of the oppositionist pseudo-leaders.

    And this disharmony is a direct result of the opposition's repudiation of the well-known tactical principle of Leninism that the nationally peculiar and nationally specific features in the revolutionary movement of each separate country must unfailingly be taken into account.

    Here is how Lenin formulates this principle:

    "The whole point now is that the Communists of every country should quite consciously take into account both the main fundamental tasks of

the struggle against opportunism and 'Left' doctrinairism and the specific features which this struggle assumes and inevitably must assume in each separate country in conformity with the peculiar features of its economics, politics, culture, national composition (Ireland, etc.), its colonies, religious divisions, and so on and so forth. Everywhere it is felt that dissatisfaction with the Second International is spreading and growing, both because of its opportunism and because of its inability, or incapacity, to create a really centralised, really leading, centre capable of directing the international tactics of the revolutionary proletariat in its struggle for a world Soviet republic. We must clearly realise that such a leading centre cannot under any circumstances be built up on stereotyped, mechanically equalised and identical tactical rules of struggle.[*] As long as national and state differences exist among peoples and countries -- and these differences will continue to exist for a very long time even after the dictatorship of the proletariat has been established on a world scale -- the unity of international tactics of the communist working-class movement of all countries demands, not the elimination of variety, not the abolition of national differences (that is a foolish dream at the present moment), but such an application of the fundamental principles of communism (Soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat) as would correctly modify these principles in certain particulars, correctly adapt and apply them to national and national-state differences. Investigate, study, seek, divine, grasp that which is nationally peculiar, nationally specific in the concrete manner in which each country approaches the fulfilment of the single international task, in which it approaches the victory over opportunism and Left doctrinairism within the working class movement, the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, and the establishment of a Soviet republic and a proletarian dictatorship * -- such is the main task of the historical period through which all the advanced countries (and not only the advanced countries) are now passing" (see Vol. XXV, pp. 227-28).[1]

    The line of the Comintern is the line of unfailingly taking this tactical principle of Leninism into account.


    * My italics. -- J. St.
    [1] Lenin, "
Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder. X. Some Conclusions. (1920)

    The line of the opposition, on the contrary, is the line of repudiating this tactical principle.

    In that repudiation lies the root of the opposition's misadventures in the questions of the character and prospects of the Chinese revolution.

*       *       *

    Let us pass to the second tactical principle of Leninism.

    Out of the character and prospects of the Chinese revolution there arises the question of the allies of the proletariat in its struggle for the victory of the revolution.

    The question of the allies of the proletariat is one of the main questions of the Chinese revolution. The Chinese proletariat is confronted by powerful enemies: the big and small feudal lords, the military-bureaucratic machine of the old and the new militarists, the counter-revolutionary national bourgeoisie, and the Eastern and Western imperialists, who have seized control of the principal threads of China's economic life and who reinforce their right to exploit the Chinese people by their troops and fleets.

    To smash these powerful enemies requires, apart from everything else, a flexible and well-considered policy on the part of the proletariat, the ability to take advantage of every rift in the camp of its enemies, and the ability to find allies, even if they are vacillating and unstable allies, provided that they are mass allies, that they do not restrict the revolutionary propaganda and agitation of the party of the proletariat, and do not restrict the party's work of organising the working class and the labouring masses.

    This policy is a fundamental requirement of the second tactical principle of Leninism. Without such a policy, the victory of the proletariat is impossible.

    The opposition regards such a policy as incorrect, un-Leninist. But that only indicates that it has shed the last remnants of Leninism, that it is as far from Leninism as heaven is from earth.

    Did the Chinese proletariat have such allies in the recent past?

    Yes, it did.

    In the period of the first stage of the revolution, when it was a revolution of an all-national united front (the Canton period), the proletariat's allies were the peasantry, the urban poor, the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, and the national bourgeoisie.

    One of the specific features of the Chinese revolutionary movement is that the representatives of those classes worked jointly with the Communists within a single, bourgeois-revolutionary organisation, called the Kuomintang.

    Those allies were not, and could not be, all equally reliable. Some of them were more or less reliable allies (the peasantry, the urban poor), others were less reliable and vacillating (the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia), others again were entirely unreliable (the national bourgeoisie).

    At that time the Kuomintang was unquestionably more or less a mass organisation. The policy of the Communists within the Kuomintang consisted in isolating the representatives of the national bourgeoisie (the Rights) and utilising them in the interests of the revolution, in impelling the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia (the Lefts) leftwards, and in rallying the peasantry and the urban poor around the proletariat.

    Was Canton at that time the centre of the Chinese revolutionary movement? It certainly was. Only lunatics can deny that now.

    What were the achievements of the Communists during that period? Extension of the territory of the revolution, inasmuch as the Canton armies reached the Yangtse; the possibility of openly organising the proletariat (trade unions, strike committees); the formation of the communist organisations into a party; the creation of the first nuclei of peasant organisations (the peasant associations); communist penetration into the army.

    It follows that the Comintern's leadership during that period was quite correct.

    In the period of the second stage of the revolution, when Chiang Kai-shek and the national bourgeoisie deserted to the camp of counter-revolution, and the centre of the revolutionary movement shifted from Canton to Wuhan, the proletariat's allies were the peasantry, the urban poor, and the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia.

    How is the desertion of the national bourgeoisie to the camp of counter-revolution to be explained? By fear of the scope assumed by the revolutionary movement of the workers, in the first place, and, secondly, by the pressure exerted on the national bourgeoisie by the imperialists in Shanghai.

    Thus the revolution lost the national bourgeoisie. That was a partial loss for the revolution. But, on the other hand, it entered a higher phase of its development, the phase of agrarian revolution, by bringing the broad masses of the peasantry closer to itself. That was a gain for the revolution.

    Was the Kuomintang at that time, in the period of the second stage of the revolution, a mass organisation? It certainly was. It was unquestionably more of a mass organisation than was the Kuomintang of the Canton period.

    Was Wuhan at that time the centre of the revolutionary movement? It certainly was. Surely only the blind could deny

that now. Otherwise Wuhan's territory (Hupeh, Hunan) would not have been the base for the maximum development of the agrarian revolution, which was led by the Communist Party.

    The policy of the Communists towards the Kuomintang at that time was to impel it leftwards and to transform it into the core of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.

    Was such a transformation possible at that time? It was. At any rate, there was no reason to believe such a possibility out of the question. We plainly said at the time that to transform the Wuhan Kuomintang into the core of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry at least two conditions were required: a radical democratisation of the Kuomintang, and direct assistance by the Kuomintang to the agrarian revolution. It would have been foolish for the Communists to have refrained from attempting such a transformation.

    What were the achievements of the Communists during that period?

    The Communist Party during that period grew from a small party of 5-6 thousand members into a large mass party of 50-60 thousand members.

    The workers' trade unions grew into a huge natlonal federation with about three million members.

    The primary peasant organisations expanded into huge associations embracing several tens of millions of members. The agrarian movement of the peasantry grew to gigantic proportions and came to occupy the central place in the Chinese revolutionary movement. The Communist Party gained the possibility of openly organising the revolution. The Communist Party became the leader of the agrarian revolution. The

hegemony of the proletariat began to change from a wish into a reality.

    It is true that the Chinese Communist Party failed to exploit all the possibilities of that period. It is true that during that period the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party committed a number of grave errors. But it would be ridiculous to think that the Chinese Communist Party can become a real Bolshevik party at one stroke, so to speak, on the basis of the Comintern's directives. One has only to recall the history of our Party, which passed through a series of splits, secessions, betrayals, treacheries and so forth, to realise that real Bolshevik parties do not come into being at one stroke.

    It follows, then, that the Comintern's leadership during that period, too, was quite correct.

    Does the Chinese proletariat have allies today?

    It does.

    These allies are the peasantry and the urban poor.

    The present period is marked by the desertion of the Wuhan leadership of the Kuomintang to the camp of counter-revolution, by the desertion of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia from the revolution.

    This desertion is due, firstly, to the fear of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia in face of the spread of the agrarian revolution and to the pressure of the feudal lords on the Wuhan leadership, and, secondly, to the pressure of the imperialists in the Tientsin area, who are demanding that the Kuomintang break with the Communists as the price for permitting its passage northward.

    The opposition has doubts about the existence of feudal survivals in China. But it is now clear to all that not only do feudal survivals exist in China, but that they have proved to be even stronger than the onslaught of the revolution at the

page 747

present time. And it is because the imperialists and the feudal lords in China have for the time being proved to be stronger that the revolution has sustained a temporary defeat.

    On this occasion the revolution has lost the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia.

    That indeed is a sign that the revolution has sustained a temporary defeat.

    But, on the other hand, it has rallied the broad masses of the peasantry and urban poor more closely around the proletariat, and has thereby created the basis for the hegemony of the proletariat.

    That is a gain for the revolution.

    The opposition ascribes the temporary defeat of the revolution to the Comintern's policy. But only people who have broken with Marxism can say that. Only people who have beoken with Marxism can demand that a correct policy should always and necessarily lead to immediate victory over the enemy.

    Was the policy of the Bolsheviks in the 1905 Revolution a correct one? Yes, it was. Why, then, did the 1905 Revolution suffer defeat, despite the existence of Soviets, despite the correct policy of the Bolsheviks? Because the feudal survivals and the autocracy proved at that time to be stronger than the revolutionary movement of the workers.

    Was the policy of the Bolsheviks in July 1917 a correct one? Yes, it was. Why, then, did the Bolsheviks sustain defeat, again despite the existence of Soviets, which at that time betrayed the Bolsheviks, and despite the correct policy of the Bolsheviks? Because Russian imperialism proved at that time to be stronger than the revolutionary movement of the workers.

    A correct policy is by no means bound to lead always and without fail to direct victory over the enemy. Direct victory over the enemy is not determined by correct policy alone; it is determined first and foremost by the correlation of class forces, by a marked preponderance of strength on the side of the revolution, by disintegration in the enemy's camp, by a favourable international situation.

    Only given those conditions can a correct policy of the proletariat lead to direct victory.

    But there is one obligatory requirement which a correct policy must satisfy always and under all conditions. That requirement is that the Party's policy must enhance the fighting capacity of the proletariat, multiply its ties with the labouring masses, increase its prestige among these masses, and convert the proletariat into the hegemon of the revolution.

    Can it be affirmed that this past period has presented the maximum favourable conditions for the direct victory of the revolution in China? Clearly, it cannot.

    Can it be affirmed that communist policy in China has not enhanced the fighting capacity of the proletariat, has not multiplied its ties with the broad masses, and has not increased its prestige among these masses? Clearly, it cannot.

    Only the blind could fail to see that the Chinese proletariat has succeeded in this period in severing the broad mass of the peasantry both from the national bourgeoisie and from the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, so as to rally them around its own standard.

    The Communist Party went through a bloc with the national bourgeoisie in Canton at the first stage of the revolution in order to extend the area of the revolution, to form itself into a mass party, to secure the possibility of openly or-

page 749

ganising the proletariat, and to open up a road for itself to the peasantry.

    The Communist Party went through a bloc with the Kuomintang petty-bourgeois intelligentsia in Wuhan at the second stage of the revolution in order to multiply its forces, to extend the organisation of the proletariat, to sever the broad masses of the peasantry from the Kuomintang leadership, and to create the conditions for the hegemony of the proletariat.

    The national bourgeoisie has gone over to the camp of counter-revolution, having lost contact with the broad masses of the people.

    The Kuomintang petty-bourgeois intelligentsia in Wuhan has trailed in the wake of the national bourgeoisie, having taken fright at the agrarian revolution and having utterly discredited itself in the eyes of the peasant millions.

    On the other hand, however, the vast masses of the peasantry have rallied more closely around the proletariat, seeing in it their only reliable leader and guide.

    Is it not clear that only a correct policy could have led to such results?

    Is it not clear that only such a policy could have enhanced the fighting capacity of the proletariat?

    Who but the pseudo-leaders belonging to our opposition can deny the correctness and revolutionary character of such a policy?

    The opposition asserts that the swing of the Wuhan Kuomintang leadership to the side of the counter-revolution indicates that the policy of a bloc with the Wuhan Kuomintang at the second stage of the revolution was incorrect.

    But only people who have forgotten the history of Bolshevism and who have shed the last remnants of Leninism can say that.

    Was the Bolshevik policy of a revolutionary bloc with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries in October and after October, down to the spring of 1918, a correct one? I believe that nobody has yet ventured to deny that this bloc was correct. How did this bloc end? With a revolt of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries against the Soviet government. Can it be affirmed on these grounds that the policy of a bloc with the Socialist-Revolutionaries was incorrect? Obviously, it cannot.

    Was the policy of a revolutionary bloc with the Wuhan Kuomintang at the second stage of the Chinese revolution a correct one? I believe that nobody has yet ventured to deny that this bloc was correct during the second stage of the revolution. The opposition itself declared at that time (April 1927) that such a bloc was correct. How, then, can it be asserted now, after the Wuhan Kuomintang leadership has deserted the revolution, and because of this desertion, that the revolutionary bloc with the Wuhan Kuomintang was incorrect?

    Is it not clear that only spineless people can employ such "arguments"?

    Did anyone assert that the bloc with the Wuhan Kuomintang would be eternal and unending? Do such things as eternal and unending blocs exist at all? Is it not clear that the opposition has no understanding, no understanding whatever, of the second tactical principle of Leninism, concerning a revolutionary bloc of the proletariat with non-proletarian classes and groups?

    Here is how Lenin formulates this tactical principle:

    "The more powerful enemy can be vanquished only by exerting the utmost effort, and by making, without fail, the most thorough, careful, attentive and skilful use both of every, even the smallest, 'rift' among the enemies, every antagonism of interests among the bourgeoisie of the various countries and among the various groups or types of bourgeoisie vvithin individual countries, as well as of every, even the smallest, oppor-

tunity of gaining a mass ally, even though a temporary, vacillating, unstable, unreliable and conditional ally. He who has not understood this, has not understood even a particle of Marxism, or of scientific, modern socialism in general.[*] He who has not proved by deeds over a fairly considerable period of time, and in fairly varied political situations, his ability to apply this truth in practice has not yet learned to assist the revolutionary class in its struggle to emancipate all toiling humanity from the exploiters. And this applies equally to the period before and after the proletariat has conquered political power" (see Vol. XXV, pp. 210-11).[1]

    Is it not clear that the line of the opposition is the line of repudiating this tactical principle of Leninism?

    Is it not clear that the line of the Comintern, on the contrary, is the line of unfailingly taking this tactical principle into account?

*       *       *

    Let us pass to the third tactical principle of Leninism.

    This tactical principle concerns the question of change of slogans, the order and methods of such change. It concerns the question how to convert a slogan for the Party into a slogan for the masses, how and in what way to bring the masses to the revolutionary positions, so that they may convince themselves by their own political experience of the correctness of the Party's slogans.

    And the masses cannot be convinced by propaganda and agitation alone. What is required for that is the political experience of the masses themselves. What is required for that is that the broad masses shall come to feel, from painful experience, the inevitability, say, of overthrowing a given system,


    * My italics. -- J. St.
    [1] Lenin, "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder
. VIII. No Compromises? (1920)

the inevitability of establishing a new political and social order.

    It was a good thing that the advanced group, the Party, had already convinced itself of the inevitability of the overthrow, say, of the Milyukov-Kerensky Provisional Government in April 1917. But that was not yet enough for coming forward and advocating the overthrow of that government, for putting forward the slogan of the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the establishment of Soviet power as a slogan of the day. In order to convert the formula "All Power to the Soviets" from a perspective for the immediate future into a slogan of the day, into a slogan of immediate action, one other decisive factor was required, namely, that the masses themselves should become convinced of the correctness of this slogan, and should help the Party in one way or another to put it into effect.

    A strict distinction must be drawn between a formula as a perspective for the immediate future and a formula as a slogan of the day. It was precisely on this point that the group of Petrograd Bolsheviks headed by Bagdatyev came to grief in April 1917, when they prematurely put forward the slogan "Down with the Provisional Government, All Power to the Soviets." Lenin at the time qualified that attempt of the Bagdatyev group as dangerous adventurism and publicly denounced it.[144]

    Why?

    Because the broad masses of the working people in the rear and at the front were not yet ready to accept that slogan. Because that group confused the formula "All Power to the Soviets," as a perspective, with the slogan "All Power to the

Soviets," as a slogan of the day. Because that group was running too far ahead, exposing the Party to the threat of being completely isolated from the broad masses, from the Soviets, which at that time still believed that the Provisional Government was revolutionary.

    Should the Chinese Communists have put forward the slogan "Down with the Kuomintang Leadership in Wuhan" six months ago, say? No, they should not.

    They should not, because that would have been dangerously running too far ahead, it would have made it difficult for the Communists to gain access to the broad masses of the working people, who still believed in the Kuomintang leadership; it would have isolated the Communist Party from the broad masses of the peasantry.

    They should not, because the Wuhan Kuomintang leadership, the Wuhan Central Committee of the Kuomintang, had not yet exhausted its potentialities as a bourgeois-revolutionary government, had not yet disgraced and discredited itself in the eyes of the broad masses of the working people by its fight against the agrarian revolution, by its fight against the working class, and by its swing over to the counter-revolution.

    We always said that it would be wrong to adopt the course of discrediting and replacing the Wuhan Kuomintang leadership so long as it had not yet exhausted its potentialities as a bourgeois-revolutionary government; that it should first be allowed to do so before raising in practice the question of replacing it.

    Should the Chinese Communists now put forward the slogan "Down with the Kuomintang Leadership in Wuhan"? Yes, they certainly should.

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    Now that the Kuomintang leadership has disgraced itself by its struggle against the revolution and has taken up an attitude of hostility towards the broad masses of the workers and peasants, this slogan will meet with a powerful response among the masses of the people.

    Every worker and every peasant will now understand that the Communists acted rightly in withdrawing from the Wuhan government and the Wuhan Central Committee of the Kuomintang, and in putting forward the slogan "Down with the Kuomintang Leadership in Wuhan."

    For the masses of the peasants and workers are now faced with the choice: either the present Kuomintang leadership -- which means refusing to satisfy the vital needs of these masses, repudiating the agrarian revolution; or agrarian revolution and a radical improvement of the position of the working class -- which means that replacing the Kuomintang leadership in Wuhan becomes a slogan of the day for the masses.

    Such are the demands of the third tactical principle of Leninism, concerning the question of change of slogans, the question of the ways and means of bringing the broad masses to the new revolutionary positions, the question how, by the policy and actions of the Party and the timely replacement of one slogan by another, to help the broad masses of the working people to recognise the correctness of the Party's line on the basis of their own experience.

    Here is how Lenin formulates this tactical principle:

    "Victory cannot be won with the vanguard alone. To throw the vanguard alone into the decisive battle, before the whole class, before the broad masses have taken up a position either of direct support of the vanguard, or at least of benevolent neutrality towards it, and one in which they cannot possibly support the enemy, would be not merely folly but a crime. And in order that actually the whole class, that actually the broad masses of the working people and those oppressed by

page 755

capital may take up such a position, propaganda and agitation alone are not enough. For this the masses must have their own political experience.[*] Such is the fundamental law of all great revolutions, now confirmed with astonishing force and vividness not only in Russia but also in Germany. Not only the uncultured, often illiterate, masses of Russia, but the highly cultured, entirely literate masses of Germany had to realise through their own painful experience the absolute impotence and spinelessness, the absolute helplessness and servility to the bourgeoisie, the utter vileness, of the government of the knights of the Second International, the absolute inevitability of a dictatorship of the extreme reactionaries (Kornilov in Russia, Kapp and Co. in Germany) as the only alternative to a dictatorship of the proletariat, in order to turn resolutely towards communism. The immediate task that confronts the class-conscious vanguard of the international labour movement, i.e., the Communist Parties, groups and trends, is to be able to lead the broad masses (as yet, for the most part, slumbering, apathetic, bound by routine, inert and dormant) to their new position, or, rather, to be able to lead not only their own party, but also these masses, in their approach, their transition to the new position" (see Vol. XXV, p. 228).[1]

    The basic error of the opposition is that it does not understand the meaning and importance of this tactical principle of Leninism, that it does not recognise it and systematically violates it.

    It (Trotskyists) violated this tactical principle at the beginning of 1917, when it attempted to "skip over" the agrarian movement which had not yet been completed (see Lenin).

    It (Trotsky-Zinoviev) violated this principle when it at tempted to "skip over" the reactionary character of the trade unions, failing to recognise the expediency of Communists working in reactionary trade unions, and denying the necessity for temporary blocs with them.


    * My italics. -- J. St.
    [1] Lenin, "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder. X. Some Conclusions. (1920)

page 756

    It (Trotsky-Zinoviev-Radek) violated this principle when it attempted to "skip over" the national peculiarities of the Chinese revolutionary movement (the Kuomintang), the backwardness of the masses of the Chinese people, by demanding, in April 1926, the immediate withdrawal of the Communists from the Kuomintang, and, in April 1927, by putting forward the slogan of immediate organisation of Soviets, at a time when the Kuomintang phase of development had not yet been completed and had not yet outlived its day.

    The opposition thinks that if it has understood, has recognised, the half-heartedness, vacillation and unreliability of the Kuomintang leadership, if it has recognised the temporary and conditional character of the bloc with the Kuomintang (and that is not difficult for any competent political worker to recognise), that is quite sufficient to warrant starting "determined action" against the Kuomintang, against the Kuomintang government, quite sufficient to induce the masses, the broad masses of the workers and peasants "at once" to support "us" and "our" "determined action."

    The opposition forgets that "our" understanding all this is still very far from enough to enable the Chinese Communists to get the masses to follow them. The opposition forgets that what this also requires is that the masses themselves should recognise from their own experience the unreliable, reactionary and counter-revolutionary character of the Kuomintang leadership.

    The opposition forgets that it is not only the advanced group, not only the Party, not only individual, even if "exalted," "personalities," but first and foremost the vast masses of the people, that "make" a revolution.

page 757

    It is strange that the opposition should forget about the state of the vast masses of the people, about their level of understanding, about their readiness for determined action.

    Did we, the Party, Lenin, know in April 1917 that the Milyukov-Kerensky Provisional Government would have to be overthrown, that the existence of the Provisional Government was incompatible with the activity of the Soviets, and that the power would have to pass into the hands of the Soviets? Yes, we did.

    Why, then, did Lenin brand as adventurers the group of Petrograd Bolsheviks headed by Bagdatyev in April 1917, when that group put forward the slogan "Down with the Provisional Government, All Power to the Soviets," and attempted to overthrow the Provisional Government?

    Because the broad masses of the working people, a certain section of the workers, millions of the peasantry, the broad mass of the army and, lastly, the Soviets themselves, were not yet prepared to accept that slogan as a slogan of the day.

    Because the Provisional Government and the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik petty-bourgeois parties had not yet exhausted their potentialities, had not yet sufficiently discredited themselves in the eyes of the vast masses of the working people.

    Because Lenin knew that the understanding, the political consciousness, of the advanced group of the proletariat, the Party of the proletariat, was not enough by itself for the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the establishment of Soviet power -- that this required also that the masses themselves should become convinced of the correctness of this line through their own experience.

    Because it was necessary to go through the whole coalition orgy, through the betrayals and treacheries of the petty-

page 758

bourgeois parties in June, July and August 1917; it was necessary to go through the shameful offensive at the front in June 1917, through the "honest" coalition of the petty-bourgeois parties with the Kornilovs and Milyukovs, through the Kornilov revolt and so on, in order that the vast masses of the working people should become convinced that the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the establishment of Soviet power were unavoidable.

    Because only under those circumstances could the slogan of Soviet power be transformed from a slogan that was a perspective into a slogan of the day.

    The trouble with the opposition is that it continually commits the same error as the Bagdatyev group committed in their day, that it abandons Lenin's road and prefers to "march" along the road of Bagdatyev.

    Did we, the Party, Lenin, know that the Constituent Assembly was incompatible with the system of Soviet power when we took part in the elections to the Constituent Assembly and when we convened it in Petrograd? Yes, we did.

    Why, then, did we convene it? How could it happen that the Bolsheviks, who were enemies of bourgeois parliamentarism and who established Soviet power, not only took part in the elections but even themselves convened the Constituent Assembly? Was this not "khvostism," lagging behind events, "holding the masses in check," violating "long-range" tactics? Of course not.

    The Bolsheviks took this step in order to make it easier for the backward masses of the people to convince themselves with their own eyes that the Constituent Assembly was unsuitable, reactionary and counter-revolutionary. Only in that way was it possible to draw to our side the vast masses of the

page 759

peasantry and make it easier for us to disperse the Constituent Assembly.

    Here is what Lenin writes about it:

    "We took part in the elections to the Russian bourgeois parliament, the Constituent Assembly, in September-November 1917. Were our tactics correct or not? . . . Did not we, the Russian Bolsheviks, have more right in September-November 1917 than any Western Communists to consider that parliamentarism was politically obsolete in Russia? Of course we did, for the point is not whether bourgeois parliaments have existed for a long time or a short time, but how far the broad masses of the working people are prepared (ideologically, politically and practically) to accept the Soviet system and to disperse the bourgeois-democratic parliament (or allow it to be dispersed). That in Russia in September-November 1917, owing to a number of special conditions, the urban working class and the soldiers and peasants were exceptionally well prepared to accept the Soviet system and to disperse the most democratic of bourgeois parliaments, is an absolutely incontestable and fully established historical fact. Nevertheless, the Bolsheviks did not boycott the Constituent Assembly, but took part in the elections both before the proletariat conquered political power and after. . . .
    "The conclusion which follows from this is absolutely incontrovertible: it has been proved that participation in a bourgeois-democratic parliament even a few weeks before the victory of a Soviet republic, and even after such a victory, not only does not harm the revolutionary proletariat, but actually helps it to prove to the backward masses why such parliaments deserve to be dispersed; it helps their successful dispersal, and helps to make bourgeois parliamentarism 'politically obsolete'" (see Vol. XXV, pp. 201-02).[1]

    That is how the Bolsheviks applied the third tactical principle of Leninism in practice.

    That is how Bolshevik tactics must be applied in China, whether in relation to the agrarian revolution, or to the Kuomintang, or to the slogan of Soviets.


    [1] Lenin, "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder. VII. Should We Participate in Bourgeois Parliaments? (1920)

page 760

    The opposition is apparently inclined to think that the revolution in China has suffered a complete fiasco. That, of course, is wrong. That the revolution in China has sustained a temporary defeat, of that there can be no doubt. But what sort of defeat, and how profound it is -- that is the question now.

    It is possible that it will be approximately as prolonged a defeat as was the case in Russia in 1905, when the revolution was interrupted for a full twelve years, only to break out later, in February 1917, with fresh force, sweep away the autocracy, and clear the way for a new, Soviet revolution.

    That prospect cannot be considered excluded. It is still not a complete defeat of the revolution, just as the defeat of 1905 could not be considered a final defeat. It is not a complete defeat, since the basic tasks of the Chinese revolution at the present stage of its development -- agrarian revolution, revolutionary unihcation of China, emancipation from the im perialist yoke -- still await their accomplishment. And if this prospect should become a reality, then, of course, there can be no question of the immediate formation of Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies in China, because Soviets are formed and flourish only in circumstances of revolutionary upsurge.

    But that prospect can scarcely be considered a likely one. At all events, there are no grounds so far for considering it likely. There are none, because the counter-revolution is not yet united, and will not be soon, if indeed it is ever destined to be united.

    For the war of the old and the new militarists among themselves is flaring up with fresh force and cannot but weaken the counter-revolution, at the same time as it ruins and infuriates the peasantry.

page 761

    For there is still no group or government in China capable of undertaking something in the nature of a Stolypin reform which might serve the ruling groups as a lightning conductor.

    For the millions of the peasantry, who have already begun to lay hands on the landlords' land, cannot be so easily curbed and crushed to the ground.

    For the prestige of the proletariat in the eyes of the labouring masses in growing from day to day, and its forces are still very far from having been demolished.

    It is possible that the defeat of the Chinese revolution is analogous in degree to that suffered by the Bolsheviks in July 1917, when the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary Soviets betrayed them, when they were forced to go underground, and when, a few months later, the revolution again came out into the streets in order to sweep away the imperialist government of Russia.

    The analogy, of course, is a qualified one. I make it with all the necessary reservations, bearing in mind the difference between the situation of China in our day and that of Russia in 1917. I resort to such an analogy only in order to indicate the approximate degree of defeat of the Chinese revolution.

    I think that this prospect is the more likely one. And if it should become a reality, if in the near future -- not necessarily in a couple of months, but in six months or a year from now -- a new upsurge of the revolution should become a fact, the question of forming Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies may become a live issue, as a slogan of the day, and as a counterpoise to the bourgeois government.

    Why?

    Because, if there is a new upsurge of the revolution in its present phase of development, the formation of Soviets will be an issue that has become fully mature.

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    Recently, a few months ago, it would have been wrong for the Chinese Communists to issue the slogan of forming Soviets, for that would have been adventurism, which is characteristic of our opposition, for the Kuomintang leadership had not yet discredited itself as an enemy of the revolution.

    Now, on the contrary, the slogan of forming Soviets may become a really revolutionary slogan, if (if!) a new and powerful revolutionary upsurge takes place in the near future.

    Consequently, alongside the fight to replace the present Kuomintang leadership by a revolutionary leadership, it is necessary at once, even before the upsurge begins, to conduct the widest propaganda for the idea of Soviets among the broad masses of the working people, without running too far ahead and forming Soviets immediately, remembering that Soviets can flourish only at a time of powerful revolutionary upsurge.

    The opposition may say that it said this "first," that this is precisely what it calls "long-range" tactics.

    You are wrong, my dear sirs, absolutely wrong! That is not "long-range" tactics; it is haphazard tactics, the tactics of perpetually overshooting and undershooting the mark.

    When, in April 1926, the opposition demanded that the Communists should immediately withdraw from the Kuomintang, that was overshooting tactics, because the opposition itself was subsequently compelled to admit that the Communists ought to remain in the Kuomintang.

    When the opposition declared that the Chinese revolution was a revolution for customs autonomy, that was undershooting tactics, because the opposition itself was subsequently compelled to slink away from its own formula.

    When, in April 1927, the opposition declared that to talk of feudal survivals in China was an exaggeration, forgetting

page 763

the existence of the mass agrarian movement, that was undershooting tactics, because the opposition itself was subsequently compelled tacitly to admit its error.

    When, in April 1927, the opposition issued the slogan of immediate formation of Soviets, that was overshooting tactics, because the oppositionists themselves were compelled at the time to admit the contradictions in their own camp, one of them (Trotsky) demanding adoption of the course of overthrowing the Wuhan government, and another (Zinoviev), on the contrary, demanding the "utmost assistance" for this same Wuhan government.

    But since when have haphazard tactics, the tactics of perpetually overshooting and undershooting the mark, been called "long-range" tactics?

    As to Soviets, it should be said that, long before the opposition, the Comintern in its documents spoke of Soviets in China as a perspective. As to Soviets as a slogan of the day -- put forward by the opposition in the spring of this year as a counterblast to the revolutionary Kuomintang (the Kuomintang was then revolutionary, otherwise there was no point in Zinoviev clamouring for the "utmost assistance" for the Kuomintang) -- that was adventurism, vociferous running too far ahead, the same adventurism and the same running too far ahead that Bagdatyev was guilty of in April 1917.

    From the fact that the slogan of Soviets may become a slogan of the day in China in the near future, it does not by any means follow that it was not dangerous and harmful adventurism on the part of the opposition to put forward the slogan of Soviets in the spring of this year.

    Just as it by no means follows from the fact that Lenin recognised the slogan "All Power to the Soviets" to be necessary and timely in September 1917 (the Central Committee's decision on the uprising),[145] that it was not harmful and dangerous adventurism on the part of Bagdatyev to put forward this slogan in April 1917.

    Bagdatyev, in September 1917, might also have said that he had been the "first" to call for Soviet power, having done so in April 1917. Does this mean that Bagdatyev was right, and that Lenin was wrong in qualifying his action in April 1917 as adventurism?

    Apparently, our opposition is envious of Bagdatyev's "laurels."

    The opposition does not understand that the point is not at all to be "first" in saying a thing, running too far ahead and disorganising the cause of the revolution, but to say it at the right time, and to say it in such a way that it will be taken up by the masses and put into practice.

    Such are the facts.

    The opposition has departed from Leninist tactics, its policy is one of "ultra-Left" adventurism -- such is the conclusion.

  Pravda, No. 169,
July 28, 1927

    Signed: J. Stalin

NOTES

  [144] See V. I. Lenin, Resolution of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.) Adopted in the Morning of April 22 (May 5), 1917.    [p.752]

  [145] In his articles and letters to the Central Committee and the Bolshevik organisations written while in hiding in Septemher 1917, V. I. Lenin issued the slogan "All Power to the Soviets" as the immediate task of organisation of an armed uprising (see V. I. Lenin, Draft Resolution on the Present Political Situation, The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power, and Marxism and Insurrection ). When V. I. Lenin's letters were discussed in the Central Committee on September 15, J. V. Stalin gave an emphatic rebuff to the capitulator Kamenev, who demanded that the documents should be destroyed. J. V. Stalin proposed that the letters be circulated to the largest Party organisations for consideration. On October 10, 1917, the historic meeting of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party took place, with the participation of V. I. Lenin, J. V. Stalin, Y. M. Sverdlov, F. E. Dzerzhinsky and M. S. Uritsky, at which the resolution on an armed uprising, drafted by Lenin, was adopted (see V. I. Lenin, Selected Work, F.L.P.H., Moscow, 1952, Vol. II, Part 1, pp. 189-90).    [p.764]