MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | History of CP Bolshevik

H I S T O R Y O F  T H E C O M M U N I S T   P A R T Y

O F  T H E

S O V I E T  U N I O N

(B O L S H E V I K S)


C H A P T E R N I N E
THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY IN THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION TO THE PEACEFUL WORK OF ECONOMIC RESTORATION (1921-1925)
1. SOVIET REPUBLIC AFTER THE DEFEAT OF THE INTERVENTION AND END OF THE CIVIL WAR. DIFFICULTIES OF THE RESTORATION PERIOD
2. PARTY DISCUSSION ON THE TRADE UNIONS. TENTH PARTY CONGRESS. DEFEAT OF THE OPPOSITION. ADOPTION OF THE NEW ECONOMIC POLICY (NEP)
3. FIRST RESULTS OF NEP. ELEVENTH PARTY CONGRESS. FORMATION OF THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS. LENIN'S ILLNESS. LENIN'S CO-OPERATIVE PLAN. TWELFTH PARTY CONGRESS
4. STRUGGLE AGAINST THE DIFFICULTIES OF ECONOMIC RESTORATION. TROTSKYITES TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LENIN'S ILLNESS TO INCREASE THEIR ACTIVITY. NEW PARTY DISCUSSION. DE FEAT OF THE TROTSKYITES. DEATH OF LENIN. THE LENIN ENROLMENT. THIRTEENTH PARTY CONGRESS
5. THE SOVIET UNION TOWARDS THE END OF THE RESTORATION PERIOD. THE QUESTION OF SOCIALIST CONSTRUCTION AND THE VICTORY OF SOCIALISM IN OUR COUNTRY. ZINOVIEV- KAMENEV "NEW OPPOSITION." FOURTEENTH PARTY CONGRESS. POLICY OF SOCIALIST INDUSTRIALIZATION OF THE
COUNTRY

4. STRUGGLE AGAINST THE DIFFICULTIES OF ECONOMIC RESTORATION. TROTSKYITES TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LENIN'S ILLNESS TO INCREASE THEIR ACTIVITY. NEW PARTY DISCUSSION. DE-FEAT OF THE TROTSKYITES. DEATH OF LENIN. THE LENIN ENROLMENT. THIRTEENTH PARTY CONGRESS

    The struggle to restore the national economy yielded substantial results in its very first year. By 1924 progress was to be observed in all fields. The crop area had increased considerably since 1921, and peasant farming was steadily improving. Socialist industry was growing and expanding. The working class had greatly increased in numbers. Wages had risen. Life had become easier and better for the workers and peasants as compared with 1920 and 1921.

    But the effects of the economic disruption still made themselves felt. Industry was still below the pre-war level, and its development was still far behind the country's demand. At the end of 1923 there were about a million unemployed; the national economy was progressing too slowly to absorb unemployment. The development of trade was being hindered by the excessive prices of manufactured goods, prices which the Nepmen, and the Nepman elements in our trading organizations, were imposing on the country. Owing to this, the Soviet ruble began to fluctuate violently and to fall in value. These factors impeded the improvement of the condition of the workers and peasants.

    In the autumn of 1923, the economic difficulties were somewhat

page 265 aggravated owing to violations of the Soviet price policy by our industrial and commercial organizations. There was a yawning gap between the prices of manufactures and the prices of farm produce. Grain prices were low, while prices of manufacturers were inordinately high. Industry was burdened with excessive overhead costs which increased the price of goods. The money which the peasants received for their grain rapidly depreciated. To make matters worse, the Trotskyite Pyatakov, who was at that time on the Supreme Council of National Economy, gave managers and directors criminal instructions to grind all the profit they could out of the sale of manufactured goods and to force up prices to the maximum, ostensibly for the purpose of developing industry. As a matter of fact, this Nepman policy could only narrow the base of industry and undermine it. It became unprofitable for the peasantry to purchase manufactured goods, and they stopped buying them. The result was a sales crisis, from which industry suffered. Difficulties arose in the payment of wages. This provoked discontent among the workers. At some factories the more backward workers stopped work.

    The Central Committee of the Party adopted measures to remove these difficulties and anomalies. Steps were taken to overcome the sales crisis. Prices of consumers' goods were reduced. It was decided to reform the currency and to adopt a firm and stable currency unit, the chervonetz. The normal payment of wages was resumed. Measures were outlined for the development of trade through state and co-operative channels and for the elimination of private traders and profiteers.

    What was now required was that everybody should join in the common effort, roll up his sleeves, and set to work with gusto. That is the way all who were loyal to the Party thought and acted. But not so the Trotskyites. They took advantage of the absence of Lenin, who was incapacitated by grave illness, to launch a new attack on the Party and its leadership. They decided that this was a favourable moment to smash the Party and overthrow its leadership. They used everything they could as a weapon against the Party: the defeat of the revolution in Germany and Bulgaria in the autumn of 1923, the economic difficulties at home, and Lenin's illness. It was at this moment of difficulty for the Soviet state, when the Party's leader was stricken by sickness, that Trotsky started his attack on the Bolshevik Party. He mustered all the anti-Leninist elements in the Party and concocted an opposition platform against the Party, its leadership, and its policy. This platform was called the Declaration of the Forty-Six Oppositionists. All the opposition groupings -- the Trotskyites, Democratic-Centralists, and the remnants of the "Left Communist" and "Workers' Opposition" groups -- united to fight the Leninist Party. In their declaration, they prophesied a grave economic crisis and the fall of the Soviet power, and demanded freedom of factions and groups as the only way out of the situation.

    This was a fight for the restoration of factionalism which the Tenth Party Congress, on Lenin's proposal, had prohibited.

    The Trotskyites did not make a single definite proposal for the improvement of agriculture or industry, for the improvement of the circulation of commodities, or for the betterment of the condition of the working people. This did not even interest them. The only thing that interested them was to take advantage of Lenin's absence in order to restore factions within the Party, to undermine its foundations and its Central Committee.

    The platform of the forty-six was followed up by the publication of a letter by Trotsky in which he vilified the Party cadres and levelled new slanderous accusations against the Party. In this letter Trotsky harped on the old Menshevik themes which the Party had heard from him many times before.

    First of all the Trotskyites attacked the Party apparatus. They knew that without a strong apparatus the Party could not live and function. The opposition tried to undermine and destroy the Party apparatus, to set the Party members against it, and the young members against the old stalwarts of the Party. In this letter Trotsky played up to the students, the young Party members who were not acquainted with the history of the Party's fight against Trotskyism. To win the support of the students, Trotsky flatteringly referred to them as the "Party's surest barometer," at the same time declaring that the Leninist old guard had degenerated. Alluding to the degeneration of the leaders of the Second International, he made the foul insinuation that the old Bolshevik guard was going the same way. By this outcry about the degeneration of the Party, Trotsky tried to hide his own degeneration and his anti-Party scheming.

    The Trotskyites circulated both oppositionist documents, viz., the platform of the forty-six and Trotsky's letter, in the districts and among the Party nuclei and put them up for discussion by the Party membership.

    They challenged the Party to a discussion.

    Thus the Trotskyites forced a general discussion on the Party, just as they did at the time of the controversy over the trade union question before the Tenth Party Congress.

    Although the Party was occupied with the far more important problems of the country's economic life, it accepted the challenge and opened the discussion.

    The whole Party was involved in the discussion. The fight took a most bitter form. It was fiercest of all in Moscow, for the Trotskyites endeavoured above all to capture the Party organization in the capital. But the discussion was of no help to the Trotskyites. It only disgraced them. They were completely routed both in Moscow and all other parts of the Soviet Union. Only a small number of nuclei in universities and offices voted for the Trotskyites.

    In January 1924 the Party held its Thirteenth Conference. The conference heard a report by Comrade Stalin, summing up the results of the discussion. The conference condemned the Trotskyite opposition, declaring that it was a petty-bourgeois deviation from Marxism. The decisions of the conference were subsequently endorsed by the Thirteenth Party Congress and the Fifth Congress of the Communist International. The international Communist proletariat supported the Bolshevik Party in its fight against Trotskyism.

    But the Trotskyites did not cease their subversive work. In the autumn of 1924, Trotsky published an article entitled, "The Lessons of October" in which he attempted to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism. It was a sheer slander on our Party and its leader, Lenin. This defamatory broadsheet was seized upon by all enemies of Communism and of the Soviet Government. The Party was outraged by this un scrupulous distortion of the heroic history of Bolshevism. Comrade Stalin denounced Trotsky's attempt to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism. He declared that "it is the duty of the Party to bury Trotskyism as an ideological trend."

    An effective contribution to the ideological defeat of Trotskyism and to the defense of Leninism was Comrade Stalin's theoretical work, Foundations of Leninism published in 1924. This book is a masterly exposition and a weighty theoretical substantiation of Leninism. It was, and is today, a trenchant weapon of Marxist-Leninist theory in the hands of Bolsheviks all over the world.

    In the battles against Trotskyism, Comrade Stalin rallied the Party around its Central Committee and mobilized it to carry on the fight for the victory of Socialism in our country. Comrade Stalin proved that Trotskyism had to be ideologically demolished if the further victorious advance to Socialism was to be ensured.

    Reviewing this period of the fight against Trotskyism, Comrade Stalin said:

    "Unless Trotskyism is defeated, it will be impossible to achieve victory under the conditions of NEP, it will be impossible to convert present-day Russia into a Socialist Russia."

    But the successes attending the Party's Leninist policy were clouded by a most grievous calamity which now befell the Party and the working class. On January 21, 1924, Lenin, our leader and teacher, the creator of the Bolshevik Party, passed away in the village of Gorki, near Moscow. Lenin's death was received by the working class of the whole world as a most cruel loss. On the day of Lenin's funeral the international proletariat proclaimed a five-minute stoppage of work. Railways, mills and factories came to a standstill. As Lenin was borne to the grave, the working people of the whole world paid homage to him in overwhelming sorrow, as to a father and teacher, their best friend and defender.

    The loss of Lenin caused the working class of the Soviet Union to rally even more solidly around the Leninist Party. In those days of mourning every class-conscious worker defined his attitude to the Communist Party, the executor of Lenin's behest. The Central Committee of the Party received thousands upon thousands of applications from workers for admission to the Party. The Central Committee responded to this movement and proclaimed a mass admission of politically advanced workers into the Party ranks. Tens of thousands of workers flocked into the Party; they were people prepared to give their lives for the cause of the Party, the cause of Lenin. In a brief space of time over two hundred and forty thousand workers joined the ranks of the Bolshevik Party. They were the foremost section of the working class, the most class-conscious and revolutionary, the most intrepid and disciplined. This was the Lenin Enrolment.

    The reaction to Lenin's death demonstrated how close are our Party's ties with the masses, and how high a place the Leninist Party holds in the hearts of the workers.

    In the days of mourning for Lenin, at the Second Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R., Comrade Stalin made a solemn vow in the name of the Party. He said:

    "We Communists are people of a special mould. We are made of a special stuff. We are those who form the army of the great proletarian strategist, the army of Comrade Lenin. There is nothing higher than the honour of belonging to this army. There is nothing higher than the title of member of the Party whose founder and leader is Comrade Lenin. . . .
    "Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to hold high and guard the purity of the great title of member of the Party. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we will fulfil your behest with honour! . . .

   "Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to guard the unity of our Party as the apple of our eye. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that this behest, too, we will fulfil with honour! . . .
    "Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to guard and strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we will spare no effort to fulfil this behest, too, with honour! . . .
    "Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to strengthen with all our might the alliance of the workers and the peasants. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that this behest, too, we will fulfil with honour! . . .
    "Comrade Lenin untiringly urged upon us the necessity of maintaining the voluntary union of the nations of our country, the necessity for fraternal co-operation between them within the framework of the Union of Republics. Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to consolidate and extend the Union of Republics. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that this behest, too, we will fulfil with honour! . . .
    "More than once did Lenin point out to us that the strengthening of the Red Army and the improvement of its condition is one of the most important tasks of our Party. . . . Let us vow then, comrades, that we will spare no effort to strengthen our Red Army and our Red Navy. . . .
    "Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to remain faithful to the principles of the Communist International. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we will not spare our lives to strengthen and extend the union of the toilers of the whole world -- the Communist International! " (Joseph Stalin, The Lenin Heritage.)

    This was the vow made by the Bolshevik Party to its leader, Lenin, whose memory will live throughout the ages.

    In May 1924 the Party held its Thirteenth Congress. It was attended by 748 voting delegates, representing a Party membership of 735,881. This marked increase in membership in comparison with the previous congress was due to the admission of some 250,000 new members under the Lenin Enrolment. There were 416 delegates with voice but no vote.

    The congress unanimously condemned the platform of the Trotskyite opposition, defining it as a petty-bourgeois deviation from Marxism, as a revision of Leninism, and endorsed the resolutions of the Thirteenth

Party Conference on "Party Affairs" and "The Results of the Discussion."

    With the purpose of strengthening the bond between town and country, the congress gave instructions for a further expansion of industry, primarily of the light industries, while placing particular stress on the necessity for a rapid development of the iron and steel industry.

    The congress endorsed the formation of the People's Commissariat of Internal Trade and set the trading bodies the task of gaining control of the market and ousting private capital from the sphere of trade.

    The congress gave instructions for the increase of cheap state credit to the peasantry so as to oust the usurer from the countryside.

    The congress called for the maximum development of the co-operative movement among the peasantry as the paramount task in the countryside.

    Lastly, the congress stressed the profound importance of the Lenin Enrolment and drew the Party's attention to the necessity of devoting greater efforts to educating the young Party members -- and above all the recruits of the Lenin Enrolment -- in the principles of Leninism.