• J. V. Stalin

    THE PARTY
    AND THE OPPOSITION

    Speech Delivered at the Sixteenth Moscow  Gubernia Party Conference,November 23, 1927

    Pravda, No. 269,November 24, 1927 From J. V. Stalin, Works Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954, Vol. 10, pp. 257-74.


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


    I

    BRIEF RESULTS OF THE DISCUSSION

        The following statistical results are available: up to the present, something over 572,000 comrades have declared for the Party, for its Central Committee; for the opposition -- something over 3,000.

        The opposition is usually fond of flaunting figures, percentages, claiming that it has the support of 99 per cent, and so forth. Everybody sees now that over 99 per cent have declared against the opposition and for the Central Committee of the Party.

        Who is to "blame" for that? The opposition itself! Every now and again the opposition has tried to push us into a discussion. For two years a]ready, hardly

    a day passed without it making a new demand for a discussion. We resisted that pressure; we members of the Central Committee resisted that pressure, knowing that our Party is not a debating society, as Lenin quite rightly said, knowing that our Party is the militant party of the proletariat, surrounded by enemies, engaged in building socialism, faced with an enormous number of practical tasks of creative activity and, therefore, unable to concentrate all its attention ever so often on the disagreements within the Party.

        But time moved on towards a discussion, and a month, more than a month, before the Fifteenth Congress, the Party, in conformity with the Party Rules, said: Very well, you want a discussion, you want a fight -- let's have it, then! And here is the result: over 99 per cent for the Party, for its Central Committee; less than one per cent for the opposition.

        The opposition's bluff has been called 100 per cent, so to speak.

        It may be said that this result is not decisive. It may be said that besides the Party there is also the working class and the masses of the labouring peasantry. It may be said that here, in this sphere, the results have not yet been summed up. That is not true, comrades! The results have been summed up in this sphere too.

        What were the November Seventh demonstrations in all the cities and villages throughout our vast country? Were they not all a tremendous demonstration of the working class, of the labouring sections of the peasantry, of the Red Army and the Red Navy, for our Party, for the government, and against the opposition, against Trotskyism?

        Is not the ignominy that the opposition called down upon its own head on the Tenth Anniversary of Qctober, is not the unanimity with which the millions of working people greeted the Party and the government on that day, proof that not only the Party, but also the working class, not only the working class, but also the labouring sections of the peasantry, not only the labouring sections of the peasantry, but also the entire Army and the entire Navy, stand like a rock for the Party, for the government and against the opposition, against the disorganisers? (Prolonged applause.)

        What more results do you need?

        There you have, comrades, a brief summing up of the struggle between the Party and the opposition, between the Bolsheviks and the opposition, the struggle that developed within the Party and later, through the opposition's own fault, went beyond the borders of the Party.

        How is this ignominious defeat of the opposition to be explained? It is a fact that no other opposition in the history of our Party since the Bolsheviks took power has ever suffered such an ignominious defeat.

        We know about the opposition of the Trotskyists in the period of the Brest Peace. At that time it had the support of about a quarter of the Party.

        We know about the opposition of the Trotskyists in 1921, during the trade-union discussion. At that time it had the support of about one-eighth of the Party.

        We know about the so-called "New Opposition," the Zinoviev-Kamenev opposition, at the Fourteenth

    Congress. It then had the support of the entire Leningrad delegation.

        But now? Now the opposition is more isolated than ever before. It is doubtful now whether it will have even one delegate at the Fifteenth Congress. (Prolonged applause.)

        The failure of the opposition is due to its being completely divorced from the Party, from the working class, from the revolution. The opposition has turned out to be a handful of intellectuals divorced from life, divorced from the revolution. Therein lies the root of the opposition's ignominious failure.

        Let us, by way of a test, take two or three of the questions which separate the opposition from the Party.

    establishment of a "stable alliance" with the middle peasants, while relying on the poor peasants.

        But what is the opposition's view on this question? It not only attaches no value to the alliance between the working class and the peasantry, it not only fails to appreciate the immense importance of such an alliance for the development of our revolution, but it goes "further" and proposes a policy that would inevitably lead to the break-up of the alliance between the working class and the peasantry, to the rupture of the bond between the working class and the peasantry.

        Not to go far for proof of this, I could refer to Preobrazhensky, the opposition's chief economist, who regards the peasantry as a "colony" for our industry, as an object to be exploited to the utmost.

        I could also refer to a number of the opposition's documents in favour of raising the prices of manufactured goods, which would inevitably cause our industry to wilt, would strengthen the kulaks, ruin the middle peasants and force the poor peasants into bondage to the kulaks.

        All these and similar opposition documents are part and parcel of the opposition's policy calculated to cause a rupture with the peasantry, a rupture with the masses of the middle peasantry.

        Is anything said plainly and openly about this in the opposition's "platform" or in its counter-theses? No. In the opposition's "platform" and counter-theses all this is carefully hidden and veiled. On the contrary, in the opposition's "platform" and counter-theses you can find scores of compliments addressed to the middle peasants and to the poor peasants. They also contain thrusts at the Party's alleged kulak deviation. But they say nothing, absolutely nothing, plainly and openly about the opposition's fatal line, which leads and is bound to lead to a rupture between the working class and the peasantry.

        But what the leaders of the opposition are hiding so carefully from the workers and peasants I shall now try to bring into the light of day and lay on the table in order to teach the opposition not to deceive the Party in future. I have in mind the speech recently delivered by Ivan Nikitich Smirnov at the Rogozhsko-Simonovsky District Party Conference. Smirnov, one of the leaders of the opposition, proved to be one of the few honest men among them who had the courage to tell the truth about the opposition's line. Do you want to know what the opposition's real "platform" is on the question of the relations between the proletariat and the peasantry? Read Smirnov's speech and study it, for it is one of those rare opposition documents which tell the whole trulh about the stand actually taken by our oppositionists.

        Here is what Smirnov said in his speech:

        "We say that our state budget must be revised in such a way that the greater part of this five thousand million budget should flow into industry, for it would be better for us to put up with discord with the middle peasants than to invite certain doom."

        That is the fundamental thing of all that the leaders of the opposition have been concealing in their "platform" and counter-theses, and what Smirnov, also a leader of the opposition, conscientiously dragged into the light of day.

        Hence, not a stable alliance with the middle peasants, but discord with the middle peasants -- that, it appears, is the means of "saving" the revolution.

        Lenin said that "the supreme principle of the dictatorship is the maintenance of the alliance of the proletariat and the peasantry in order that the proletariat may retain its leading role and state power."[65]

        But the opposition disagrees with that and asserts that the important thing for the dictatorship of the proletariat is not an alliance with the peasantry, with the main mass of the peasantry, but discord with it.

        Lenin said, and not only said but constantly reiterated, from the Eighth Party Congress onwards, that it will be impossible to build socialism successfully in our country unless we have "a stable alliance with the middle peasants."[66]

        But the opposition disagrees with that and asserts that the policy of a stable alliance with the middle peasants can be replaced by a policy of discord with them.

        Lenin said that in building socialism we must move forward together with the main mass of the peasantry.

        But the opposition disagrees with that and asserts that we must move forward not together with the peasantry, but in discord with them.

        That is the principal disagreement between the Party and the opposition on the cardinal question of the relations between the working class and the peasantry.

        In its "platform" the opposition tried to hide its true countenance by addressing compliments to the peasantry and making hypocritical thrusts at the Party's

    alleged kulak deviation. But Smirnov introduced a radical amendment to the opposition's "platform" by tearing the mask from the leaders of the opposition and telling the Party the truth about the opposition, the truth about the opposition's actual platform.

        What follows from this? It follows from this that the opposition's "platform" and counter-theses are mere scraps of paper, calculated to deceive the Party and the working class.

        What does a policy of discord with the middle peasants mean? The policy of discord with the middle peasants is a policy of discord with the majority of the peasants, for the middle peasants constitute not less than 60 per cent of the entire peasantry. That is precisely why the policy of discord with the middle peasants leads to the majority of the peasants being driven in to the arms of the kulaks. And a policy of driving the majority of the peasants into the arms of the kulaks means strengthening the kulaks, isolating the poor peasants, weakening Soviet rule in the countryside and helping the kulaks to throttle the poor peasants.

        But the matter does not end here. To pursue a policy of discord with the majority of the peasantry means starting civil war in the countryside, making it difficult for our industry to be supplied with the raw materials produced by the peasants (cotton, sugar-beet, flaxt hides, wool, etc.), disorganising the supply of agricultural produce for the working class, shattering the very foundations of our light industry, disrupting our entire work of construction, disrupting our whole plan of industrialising the country.

        That is the turn the matter takes, comrades, if we bear in mind not the bare statements the opposition makes in its "platform" and counter-theses, but the opposition's actual policy as authoritatively explained to us by Smirnov.

        I am far from accusing the opposition of deliberately striving for all these misfortunes. It is not, however, a matter of what the opposition desires and is striving for, but of the results that must inevitably follow from the opposition's policy of discord with the middle peasantry.

        The same thing is happening to the opposition here as happened with the bear in Krylov's fable "The Hermit and the Bear." (Laughter.) It goes without saying that the bear's intention in smashing the head of his friend the hermit with a lump of rock was to deliver him from the importunate fly. The bear was prompted by the friendliest motives. Nevertheless, the bear's friendly motives led to an action that was far from friendly, and for which the hermit paid with his life. Of course, the opposition wishes the revolution nothing but good. But to achieve this it proposes such means as would result in the utter defeat of the revolution, in the utter defeat of the working class and the peasantry, in the disruption of all our work of construction.

        The opposition's "platform" is a platform for the rupture of the alliance between the working class and the peasantry, a platform for the disruption of all our work of construction, a platform for the disruption of the work of industrialisation.

     

    III

    THE PARTY AND THE DICTATORSHIP
    OF THE PROLETARIAT

        The question of the Party.

        Lenin says that the unity and iron discipline of the Party are the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The opposition in actual fact holds the opposite view. It thinks that for the proletarian dictatorship we need not the unity and iron discipline of the Party, but the destruction of the Party's unity and discipline, the splitting of the Party and the formation of a second party. True, the opposition talks and writes, writes and talks, and not so much talks as howls about Party unity. But the opposition's talk about Party unity is hypocritical chatter calculated to deceive the Party. (Applause.)

        For, while talking and shouting about unity, the opposition is building a new, anti-Leninist party. And it is not only engaged in building it, it has already built it, as is shown by authentic documents, such as the speeches of Kuzovnikov, Zof and Reno, former oppositionists.

        We are now in possession of exhaustive documentary evidence that for over a year already the opposition has had its own anti-Leninist party, with its Central Committee, regional bureaux, gubernia bureaux, and so forth. What can the opposition oppose to these facts except hypocritical chatter about unity?

        The opposition is shouting that the Central Committee of the Party will not succeed in pushing it into the position of a second party. Strange! Has the Central Committee ever tried to push the opposition into such a position? Is it not a fact that the Central Committee has all along been restraining the opposition from slipping into the line of organising a second party?

        The entire history of our disagreements during the past two years is a history of the efforts of the Central Committee of our Party to restrain the opposition from taking steps towards a split and to keep the opposition people within the Party.

        Take the case of the opposition's well-known "declaration " of October 16, 1926. Was that not an attempt of the Central Committee to keep the opposition within the ranks of the Party?

        Take the opposition's second "declaration" of August 8, 1927. What does that show if not that the Central Committee of the Party has been anxious all along to keep the opposition within the ranks of a single party?

        But what happened? The opposition made declarations about unity, made promises to maintain unity, gave assurances that it would abandon factionalism; but actually it continued to build a second party.

        What does all that show? It shows that we cannot take the opposition at its word; that the opposition must be tested not by its "platforms" and counter-theses, but by its deeds.

        Lenin said: learn to test groups, trends and parties not by their promises and "platforms," but by their deeds. We regard it as our duty to follow in Lenin's footsteps and to test the opposition not by the papers and "platforms" it concocts, but by its deeds.

        When the opposition writes "platforms" and counter-theses and raises a howl about Party unity, it is deceiving the Party, it is hypocrisy, mere words. But when the opposition builds a new party, sets up its own central committee, organises regional bureaux, and so forth, thereby disrupting the unity and proletarian discipline of our Party, those are the opposition's deeds, its nefarious deeds.

        That does not mean, of course, that the opposition has already succeeded in creating anything like a real party. No. It has not succeeded in that, and it never will. It will not succeed, because the working class is against the opposition. In trying to create a new party, a second party, the opposition is in reality engaged in a childish game, playing at being a party, a central committee, regional bureaux, and so forth. Routed and disgraced, they find consolation in amusing themselves by playing at being a party, a central committee, regional bureaux, and so forth. (Laughter. Applause.)

        But, comrades, there are games and games. When the opposition plays at being a party it can only arouse laughter, because, for the Party, that playing is nothing more than an amusing fancy.

        We have, however, not only the Party to consider. We still have classes, we still have anti-Soviet elements in our country. And those anti-Soviet elements are watching the opposition's game, learning from it how to fight the Party, how to fight the Soviet regime, how to fight our revolution. For those elements, the opposition's game of being a party, the opposition's thrusts at the Party, the opposition's anti-Soviet sorties, serve as a sort of school, a sort of preparatory school for

    learning how to fight the Soviet regime, how to unleash the forces of counter-revolution.

        It is not surprising that all sorts of anti-Soviet elements flock around the opposition. Herein lies the danger of the opposition's game of being a party. And precisely because a grave danger lurks here, the Party can not look on indifferently at the opposition's anti-Soviet exercises; precisely for this reason it must put a stop to them altogether.

        As for the working class, it cannot fail to see how dangerous is the anti-Party game the opposition is playing. For the opposition, the Party is a chess-board. In fighting the Party, it makes various chess moves. One day it submits a declaration promising to end factionalism. Next day it repudiates its own declaration. A day later it submits a new declaration, only to repudiate its own declaration again a few days after. These are chess moves for the opposition. They are players and nothing more.

        But that is not the way the working class looks upon its Party. For the working class the Party is not a chess-board, but the instrument of its emancipation. For the working class the Party is not a chess-board, but a vital means of overcoming its enemies, of organising new victories, of achieving the final victory of socialism. Hence the working class can only despise those who turn its Party, its holy of holies, into a chess-board for the dishonest games of the oppositionist players. For the working class cannot but know that the opposition's efforts to disrupt our Party's iron discipline, its efforts to split our Party, are, in essence, efforts to disrupt the dictatorship of the proletariat in our country.

        The opposition's "platform" is a platform for wrecking our Party, a platform for disarming the working class, a platform for unleashing the anti-Soviet forces, a platform for disrupting the dictatorship of the proletariat .


    IV

    THE PROSPECTS OF OUR REVOLUTION

        Let us pass to the third question, the question of the prospects of our revolution.

        The characteristic feature of the whole line of the opposition is disbelief in the strength of our revolution, disbelief in the proletariat's strength and capacity to lead the peasantry, disbelief in the strength and capacity of the working class to build socialism.

        I have already quoted the passage from Smirnov's speech about the inevitable "doom" of our revolution if we do not establish discord with the middle peasantry. This is not the first time that we have heard the songs of the opposition about the "doom" of the revolution. This is not the first time that in the opposition's declarations we have encountered continual whining and consternation in face of difficulties, predictions of the twilight and collapse of our revolution. From the time that the opposition's factional policy began to suffer defeat after defeat the opposition has not ceased shouting about the "doom" of our revolution, making out the doom of its own group to be the "doom" of the revolution. The opposition has only to find itself in the minority, to get a drubbing from the Party, for it to rush into the street and start shouting about the "doom" of the revo- lution and to utilise all possible difficulties against the Party.

        As early as in the period of the Brest Peace, in 1918, when the revolution was experiencing certain difficulties, Trotsky, after being defeated by the Party at the Seventh Congress, began to shout about the "doom" of our revolution. But the revolution did not perish, and Trotsky's prophecies remained empty prophecies.

        In 1921, in the period of the trade-union discussion, when we were faced with new difficulties arising from the abolition of the surplus appropriation system, and Trotsky suffered another defeat, at the Tenth Party Congress, he again began to shout about the "doom" of the revolution. I well remember Trotsky asserting at a meeting of the Political Bureau, in Lenin's presence, that the Soviet regime had "sung its swan-song," that its days and hours were numbered. (Laughter.) But the revolution did not perish, the difficulties were overcome, and the hysterical fuss about the "doom" of the revolution remained mere fuss.

        I don't know whether the days and hours were numbered at that time or not; but if they were, all I can say is, they were numbered incorrectly. (Applause, laughter.)

        In 1923, in a period of new difficulties, this time arising out of NEP, in the period of the market crisis, Trotsky again began a swan-song about the "doom" of the revolution, making out the defeat of his own group at the Thirteenth Conference of our Party to be the defeat of the revolution. The revolution, however, ignored this swan-song and overcame the difficulties facing it at that time.

        In 1925-26, in a period of new difficulties arising from the progress of our industry, Trotsky, this time in chorus with Kamenev and Zinoviev, again began a swan-song about the "doom" of the revolution, making out the defeat of his own group at the Fourteenth Congress and after the Fourteenth Congress to be the defeat of the revolution. The revolution, however, had no intention of dying, the self-styled prophets were pushed into the background and the difficulties were overcome, as always, as in the past, for Bolsheviks look upon difficulties not as something to wail and whine over, but as something to overcome. (Loud applause.)

        Now, at the end of 1927, owing to the new difficulties in the period of the reconstruction of our whole economy on a new technical basis, they have again begun a swan-song about the "doom" of the revolution, trying, in this way, to cover up the actual doom of their own group. But, comrades, you all see that the revolution is alive and thriving, while it is others who are perishing.

        And so they sang and sang their swan-song until at last they found themselves in a hopeless position. (Laughter.)

        The opposition's "platform" is a platform for the "doom" of our revolution.

    V

    WHAT NEXT?

        Such is the opposition 's actual platform on the three principal questions on which we disagree: the question of the working class and the peasantry, the question of the Party and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally, the question of the prospects of our revolution.

        You see that this queer platform testifies to the opposition's complete divorce from the Party, from the working class, from our revolution. It is the platform of intellectuals who have broken with Leninism and are divorced from life.

        Is it surprising, after all this, that the Party and the working class have completely turned away from the opposition?

        That is why the opposition suffered ignominious defeat in its struggle against the Party during the last discussion.

        What next? -- we are asked.

        The opposition complains that the other day it submitted a declaration on unity, signed by thirty-one Trotskyists, but has not yet received a satisfactory answer. But indeed what answer can be given to the hypocritical declaration of the thirty-one Trotskyists when the opposition's false declarations are refuted again and again by its splitting activities? The history of our Party records a similar declaration made, I think in 1907, by thirty-one Mensheviks. (Voices from the audience : "That's right!") Lenin at the time called that declaration "the hypocrisy of the thirty-one Mensheviks."[67] (Laughter.) I think that the hypocrisy of the thirty-one Trotskyists is quite analogous to the hypocrisy of the thirty-one Mensheviks. (Voices from the audience : "Quite true! ") The opposition has twice deceived the Party. Now it wants to deceive the Party a third time. No, comrades, we have had enough of deception, enough of games. (Applause.)

    page 274

        What next?

        The limit has been reached, comrades, for the opposition has exceeded all bounds of what is permissible in the Party. It cannot go on swinging from side to side in two parties at once, in the old, Leninist Party, the one and only Party, and in the new, Trotskyist party. It must choose between these two parties.

        Either the opposition itself does away with this second, Trotskyist party, abandoning its anti-Leninist views and frankly condemning its own mistakes before the whole Party;

        or the opposition fails to do that‹in which case we ourselves will do away with the Trotskyist party altogether. (Applause.)

        One thing or the other.

        Either the oppositionists take this necessary step, or they do not do so, and in that case they will be sent flying out of the Party. (Stormy and prolonged applause. An ovation from the entire hall. The "Internationale" is sung.)

      Pravda, No. 269,
     November 24, 1927

    NOTES

      [63] The Sixteenth Moscow Gubernia Conference of the C.P.S.U.(B.) was held November 20-28, 1927. The conference heard reports of the Central Committee' and Central Control Commission of the C.P.S.U.(B.), discussed the prospects of the work of economic construction in the Moscow Gubernia in connection with the general plan for the development of the national economy of the U.S.S.R., reports of the Moscow Committee and Moscow Control Commission of the C.P.S.U.(B.), a report on work in

    the countryside, and other questions. J. V. Stalin delivered a speech on November 23, at the morning session of the conference. In its resolution on the report of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.), the conference approved the Central Committee's political and organisational activities and also its decisions on the Trotskyist opposition. The conference elected J. V. Stalin as a delegate to the Fifteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.).    [p.257]

      [64] V. I. Lenin, "Outline of the Pamphlet The Tax in Kind" (see Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 32, pp. 302-03).    [p.260]

      [65] V. I. Lenin, Report on the Tactics of the R.C.P.(B.), delivered at the Third Congress of the Communist International, July 5, 1921 (see Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 32, p. 466).    [p.263]

      [66] V. I. Lenin, Opening Speech at the Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.), March 18, 1919 (see Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 29, p. 125).    [p.263]

      [67] V. I. Lenin, "The Elections in St. Petersburg and the Hypocrisy of the Thirty-One Mensheviks" (see Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 12, pp. 17-27).    [p.273]

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