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Stalin Letters to Molotov
[23 June 1927]
Dear Viacheslav, 1
1) I had a look (very quickly) at the "transcript of the CentralControl Commission session" on the Zinoviev and Trotsky affair.
The impression given is one of utter confusion on the part of the
Central Control Commission. Zinoviev and Trotsky, not the Commission members, did the interrogating and the accusing. It's odd that some of the Commission members didn't show. Where's Sergo? Where has he gone and why is he hiding? Shame on him! I resolutely protest against the fact that the commission to charge Trotsky and Zinoviev has turned into a forum for charges against the Central Committee and the Comintern, with an emphasis on the "case" against Stalin, who is not in Moscow and on whom therefore any accusation can be pinned. Will Trotsky and Zinoviev really be handed this "transcript" to distribute! That's all we need.
2) Note the documents on Trud [Labor]. A purge should be conducted in Trud.2
23 June 1926
1. Stalin has placed the date 23 June 1926 under the text of theletter, although the events about which Stalin was writing took place in 1927. Zinoviev and Trotsky's defense was heard by the Central Control Commission, whose members were Yanson, Shkiriatov, and Ilin, on 13 and 14 June 1927 (RTsKhIDNI f. 613, op. 1, d. 48, l. 57).
On 24 June 1927, the Central Control Commission reviewed the question "On the violation of party discipline by Comrades Zinoviev and Trotsky." The Central Control Commission recommended that the joint plenum consider removing Zinoviev and Trotsky from the Central Committee. This decision was published in Pravda on 26 June 1927. Trotsky protested to the Central Control Commission about the omissions and distortions in the published transcript of his speeches at the Central Control Commission.
2. No evidence of such a purge has been discovered.
[24 June 1927]
Dear Viacheslav, 1
I just received your last letter by courier. Regarding China, I think that 3 or 4 million can now be sent out of the 10 million, and the question of the 15 million should be postponed. Another 15 million is being asked of us, apparently in order to avoid an immediate attack against Chiang Kai-shek if we don't give those 15 million.2
As for the holy trinity (R.+Or.+V.),3 I am remaining silent about them for the time being since there will still be plenty of opportunities to discuss them later. Or. is a "good fellow," but a phony politician. He was always a "simpleminded" politician. V. is probably just "not the type." As for R., he is "scheming," supposing that this is what ''real politics" is all about.
1. The upper left-hand corner of the letter contains a date insertedby Stalin: "24 June 1926." The events discussed in the letter took place in 1927.
2. The reference is to subsidies given the Wuhan government fororganizing an expedition against Chiang Kai-shek's group.
3. We can only guess who Stalin is referring to here. Judging fromthe next letter, "R., Or., and V." were in some way connected with Mikoian, who was commissar of trade at this timeU.S. Ed.
[27 June 1927]
Dear Viacheslav and Nikolai,1
1. I received your last letters (24 June) and the Politburo resolutionabout the Anglo-Russian Committee.2 Hack "them" to pieces pretty well (I mean the General Council), not by making a lot of noise, but thoroughly. They may break off [with us] in order to "demonstrate" their "independence" from Moscow and earn Chamberlain's praise. But they will lose more in breaking off now than [if they had broken off] during the coal strike period, since the real threat of war affects all workers, and very profoundly. They will try to make much of the executions, but that won't work for very long, especially if you try to provide some well-argued declaration on that score. You should throw it right back in "their" faces that they are helping their masters launch and wage a war.
2. I already wrote about Feng [YŁ-hsiang] in the coded telegram.Apparently the report about Feng corresponds to reality.3 I'm afraid that Wuhan4 will
lose its nerve and come under Nanking. 5 It's not worth arguing with Wuhan over Borodin (if Wuhan wants to remove him). But we must insist adamantly on Wuhan not submitting to Nanking while there is still an opportunity to insist. Losing Wuhan as a separate center means losing at least some center for the revolutionary movement, losing the possibility of free assembly and rallies for the workers, losing the possibility of the open existence of the Communist Party, losing the possibility of an open revolutionary pressin a word, losing the possibility of openly organizing the proletariat and the revolution. In order to obtain all this, I assure you, it is worth giving Wuhan an extra 35 millionbut only with some assurance that Wuhan will not surrender to the tender mercies of Nanking, with our money wasted for nothing.
3. I received a telegram the other day from Wang Ching-wei andgave him a fairly lengthy reply of my own. Read it and tell me your opinion in brief.
4. I have no objections regarding Lozovskii.
5. Regarding the expediency of making our relations with Chiang"official," I have my doubts. The analogy with Chang Tso-lin doesn't hold up. We recognized Chang three years ago. If the matter were to come up today, we would not officially recognize him. To recognize Chiang now (this minute) would mean striking a blow against Wuhan (Wuhan still exists) and throwing down the gauntlet to Chang Tso-lin (remember the Chinese Eastern Railway). It would be better to wait on Chiang and keep the status quo.
6. It's not surprising that R. has gone into leftism in a big way. Thatmeans that he has lost for a minute the opportunity to "scheme," "maneuver," and so on. But Mikoian is a greenhorn in politics, a talented greenhorn, but a greenhorn all the same. When he grows up, he'll improve.
27 June 1926
1. Stalin dates the letter 27 June 1926. In fact the events discussedin the letter took place in 1927. On the back of the letter, in Bukharin's hand, is: "I've read it through, Bukh."
2. On 24 June 1927, the Politburo approved the idea of a tradeunion declaration criticizing the British General Council's position because its position had led to a break with the Anglo-Russian Committee and to support for the Conservative government. The declaration included a response to the General Council's criticism of the execution of twenty White Guards in the USSR on 9 June 1927 (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 641, l. 3).
3. On 10 June 1927, at a secret meeting with the Wuhan leaders,Feng YŁ-hsiang, the commander in chief of the national government's forces, made his alliance with Wuhan conditional upon the latter's break with the Communists. On 21 June, after a meeting between Feng YŁ-hsiang and Chiang Kai-shek, their intention to act in unison was announced. In a telegram to the
Wuhan government, Feng demanded submission to Nanking and the dismissal of Borodin, political advisor to the Kuomintang Central Committee sent from Moscow in 1923. For information on Feng YŁ-hsiang, see note 4 to letter 27.
4. Wuhan is where the national government headed by Wang
Ching-wei was located. The majority of the top posts in this government were held by representatives of the left wing of the Kuomintang, and two ministries (labor and agriculture) were headed by Communists.
5. The reference is to Chiang Kai-shek's group, whose center waslocated in Nanking after the coup of 12 April 1927.
[Early July 1927]
Dear Viacheslav, 1
I'm sick and lying in bed so I'll be brief.
1. The Trade Union Council's declaration is good,2 Rykov's answer is bad.3
2. Tomskii's report is weak.4
3. I would be for giving Ishchenko and Valentinov a warning.5
4. Trotsky should go to Japan.
5. I could come for the plenum if it's necessary and if you postponeit.6
6. Bukharin's article about China turned out well.7
1. The upper right-hand corner of the letter has a notation from
Molotov: "1926=?" In fact the letter was written by Stalin in early
July 1927. The upper left-hand corner has a notation from Bukharin: "I've read it. Bukh."
2. The reference is to the Trade Union Council's resolutionconcerning the results of Tomskii's negotiations with British representatives regarding the Anglo-Russian Committee, which was approved by the Politburo on 28 June 1927 (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 642, l. 5). This resolution criticized the General Council, because its policy was leading to the collapse of the Anglo-Russian Committee and to support of the Conservative government.
3. The reference is to Rykov's reply to the telegram from [George] Lansbury and [James] Maxton, activists of the British workers' movement, who had protested the execution of twenty people by order of the secret police. Rykov claimed that the campaign against the death penalty was deliberately launched by the bourgeoisie to cover up the organization of an anti-Soviet imperialist bloc and to prepare for intervention in the USSR.
4. The reference is to Tomskii's report at the Trade Union Councilplenum on 28 June 1927.
5. Ishchenko's and Valentinov's factional activities were on theagenda of several Central Control Commission meetings in the fall of 1927.
Ishchenko was accused of violating party discipline "by distributing without consent of party bodies . . . among nonparty people his appeal to the Congress of Water Transport Workers, which contained slanderous attacks against the line of the Central Committee." It was determined that "his speech at the Trade Union Council plenum was slander against the party."
Valentinov was accused of making an anti-party speech at the
Trade Union Council plenum "defending proposals from the Trotskyist opposition." The Central Control Commission resolution stated that his speech was "an attempt to discredit before nonparty members the party's leadership of the trade union movement through juggling and distortion of the facts." By decision of the Central Control Commission, both men were expelled from the party (RTsKhIDNI f. 613, op. 1, d. 49, ll. 124, 127ob., 137, 137ob.).
6. The joint plenum of the Central Committee and Central ControlCommission opened on 29 July 1927.
7. The reference is to Bukharin's article "Tekushchii momentkitaiskoi revoliusii" (The current moment in the Chinese revolution), published in Pravda, 30 June 1927.
[8 July 1927]
Dear Viacheslav, 1
1. When I sent my big coded telegram about China, I didn't knowabout T'ang Shen-chih's machinations or about the behavior of the Wuhan government in connection with this. (I also didn't have the materials concerning the disarming of the workers' guard in Wuhan.)2 Obviously, with all these new materials you were justified in approving new directives. We used the Wuhan leadership as much as possible. Now it's time to discard them. An attempt should be made to take over the periphery of the
Kuomintang and help it oppose its current bosses. The fact that the periphery of the Kuomintang is being persecuted by military upstarts tells you that this task may be successful.3 Therefore, if there is a chance, we ought not to link withdrawal from the national government (which is necessary now) with withdrawal from the Kuomintang (which may become necessary in the near future).
2. I am not afraid of the situation in the group. Why I'll explain when I come.
3. When should I come exactly?
8 July 1926
1. Stalin dated the letter 8 July 1926, although the events mentioned in the letter occurred in 1927.
2. The reference is to the disarming of workers' detachments in Wuhan, which took place in June 1927 by order of Wang Chingwei, head of the national government in Wuhan.
3. By the word periphery, Stalin seems to mean local organizations of the KuomintangU.S. Ed.
[9 July 1927]
To Molotov and Bukharin,1
Damn the both of you: you misled me a little bit by asking my opinion on the new directives (about China) and not providing me with concrete fresh material. The draft of the new directives talks about both T'ang Shen-chih and disarming the workers (the "virtual disarming," T'ang Shen-chih "virtually became the tool of the counterrevolutionaries," and so on). But first, no concrete facts are provided there, and second, neither the press nor the coded telegrams (which I had at the time) said anything about the existence of such facts. And not only did you mislead me a little bit, but I also misled you, perhaps, with my long and quite angry reply by coded telegram.
After I received the draft of your new directives, I decided: so, the opposition has finally worn Bukharin and Molotov down with a flood of new "theses," and they have succumbed, finally, to blackmail; so, Klim [Voroshilov] will be glad now that he is freed from the payments to Wuhan, which is why he was only too happy to vote for the new directives. And so forth and so on in the same spirit. Now I see that was all wrong. Yesterday I spent the whole day reading the new materials brought by the courier. Now I am not worried that new directives have been sent but rather that they have been sent too late. I don't think that leaving the national government and the Kuomintang can ease the plight of the Communist Party and "put it on its feet." On the contrary, leaving will only make it easier to beat up the Communists, create new discord, and perhaps even prepare something like a split. But there is no other way, and, in any event, in the end we had to come to this. This period has to be gotten through, absolutely.
But that is not the main thing now. The main thing is whether or not the current Chinese Communist Party can manage to emerge with honor from this new period (the underground, arrests, beatings, executions, betrayals and provocations among their own ranks, etc.), to come out hardened, tempered, without splitting up, breaking into pieces, disintegrating, and degenerating into a sect or a number of sects. We cannot exclude this danger at all, nor can we exclude the possibility of an interval between this bourgeois revolution and a future bourgeois revolutionanalogous to the interval that we had between 1905 and 1917 (February). Moreover, I believe that such a danger is more real (I mean the danger of the disintegration of the Chinese Communist Party) than some of the seeming realities so abundant in China. Why? Because unfortunately, we don't have a real or, if you like, actual Communist Party in China. If you take away the middle-ranking Communists who make good fighting material but who are completely inexperienced in politics, then what is the current Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? Nothing but an "amalgamation" of general phrases gathered here and there, not linked to one another with any line or guiding idea. I don't want to be very demanding toward the Central Committee of the CCP. I know that one can't be too demanding toward it. But here is a simple demand: fulfill the directives of the Comintern. Has it fulfilled these directives? No. No, because it did not understand them, because it did not want to fulfill them and has hoodwinked the Comintern, or because it wasn't able to fulfill them. That is a fact. Roy blames Borodin. That's stupid. It can't be that Borodin has more weight with the CCP or its Central Committee than the Comintern does. Roy himself wrote that Borodin did not attend the CCP Congress since he was forced to go into hiding. . . . Some (some!) explain this by the fact that the bloc with the Kuomintang is to blame, which ties the CCP down and does not allow it to be independent. 2 That is also not true, for although any bloc ties down the members of the bloc one way or another, that doesn't mean that we should be against blocs in general. Take Chiang's five coastal provinces from Canton to Shanghai, where there is no bloc with the Kuomintang. How can you explain that Chiang's agents are more successful at disintegrating the "army" of the Communists, than the Communists are at disintegrating Chiang's rear guard? Is it not a fact that a whole number of trade unions are breaking off from the CCP, and Chiang continues to hold strong? What sort of CCP "independence" is that? . . . I think the reason is not in these factors, although they have their significance, but in the fact that the current Central Committee (its leadership) was forged in the period of the nationwide revolution and received its baptism by fire during this period and it turned out to be completely unadaptable to the new, agrarian phase of the revolution. The CCP Central Committee does not understand the point of the new phase of the revolution. There is not a single Marxist mind in the Central Committee capable of understanding the underpinning (the social underpinning) of the events now occurring. The CCP Central Committee was unable to use the rich period of the bloc with Kuomintang in order to conduct energetic work in openly organizing the revolution, the proletariat, the peasantry, the revolutionary military units, the revolutionizing of the army, the work of setting the soldiers against the generals. The CCP Central Committee has lived off the Kuomintang for a whole year and has had the opportunity of freely working and organizing, yet it did nothing to turn the conglomerate of elements (true, quite militant), incorrectly called a party, into a real party. . . . Of course there was work at the grass roots. We are indebted to the middle-ranking Communists for that. But characteristically, it was not the Central Committee that went to the workers and peasants but the workers and peasants who went to the Central Committee, and the closer the workers and peasants approached the Central Committee, the farther away from them went the so-called Central Committee, preferring to kill time in behind-the-scenes talks with the leaders and generals from the Kuomintang. The CCP sometimes babbles about the hegemony of the proletariat. But the most intolerable thing about this babbling is that the CCP does not have a clue (literally, not a clue) about hegemonyit kills the initiative of the working masses, undermines the "unauthorized" actions of the peasant masses, and reduces class warfare in China to a lot of big talk about the "feudal bourgeoisie'' (now it has finally been determined that, as it turns out, the author of this term is Roy). That's the reason why the Comintern's directives are not fulfilled.
That is why I'm afraid of letting such a party float freely on the "wide open sea" before it has to (it will crash before it has managed to harden itself . . . ).
That is why I now believe the question of the party is the main question of the Chinese revolution.
How can we fix the conglomerate that we incorrectly call the Chinese Communist Party? The recall of Ch'en Tu-hsiu or T'an Ping-shan will not help here, of course, although I don't object to recalling them and teaching them a thing or two. Other measures are needed. A good Marxist-Leninist literature must be created in the Chinese languagefundamental, not made up of "little leaflets"and the necessary funds must now be allocated for this, without delay (you can say to Klim that this will cost much less than maintaining one hundred of his hemorrhoidal bureaucrat/counterrevolutionaries for half a year). Furthermore, we have expended too much effort on organizing a system of advisors for the armies in China (moreover, these advisors turned out not to be on the ball politicallythat is, they were never able to warn us in time of the defection of their own "chiefs"). It's time to really busy ourselves with the organization of a system of party advisors attached to the CCP Central Committee, the Central Committee departments, regional organizations in each province, the departments of these regional organizations, the party youth organization, the peasant department of the Central Committee, the military department of the Central Committee, the central organ [party newspaper], the federation of trade unions of China. Both Borodin and Roy must be purged from China, along with all those opposition members that hinder the work there. We should regularly send to China, not people we don't need, but competent people instead. The structure has to be set up so that all these party advisors work together as a whole, directed by the chief advisor to the Central Committee (the Comintern representative). These "nannies'' are necessary at this stage because of the weakness, shapelessness and political amorphousness, and lack of qualification of the current Central Committee. The Central Committee will learn from the from the party advisors. The party advisors will compensate for the enormous shortcomings of the CCP Central Committee and its top regional officials. They will serve (for the time being) as the nails holding the existing conglomerate together as a party.
And so on in the same spirit.
As the revolution and the party grow, the need for these "nannies" will disappear. Well, that will do.
Regards to you,
P.S. Report back on receiving this letter. Report your opinion as well. If you find it necessary, you can give it to the other Politburo members to read.
1. In the upper right-hand corner, the date written by Stalin is 9
July 1926, although the events mentioned in the letter occurred in 1927. At the top of the letter there are the following notations: "I've read it. Bukharin. Read it. A. I. Rykov, A. Andreev, M. Tomskii, Voroshilov, A. Mikoian."
2. Stalin is referring to the views of the united opposition headedby Zinoviev and TrotskyU.S. Ed.
[11 July 1927]
1) I received Zinoviev's article "The Contours of the Coming War."1 Are you really going to publish this ignorant piece of trash? I am decidedly against publication.
2) I read the Politburo directives on the withdrawal from thenational government in China. I think that soon the issue of withdrawing from the Kuomintang will have to be raised.2 I'll explain why when I come. I have been told that some people are in a repentant mood regarding our policy in China. If that is true, it's too bad. When I come, I will try to prove that our policy was and remains the only correct policy. Never have I been so deeply and firmly convinced of the correctness of our policy, both in China and regarding the Anglo-Russian Committee, as I am now.
3) When should I be in Moscow?
11 July 1927
1. Zinoviev's article "Kontury griaduschchei voiny i nashi zadachi"(Contours of the coming war and our tasks) outlined the views of the united opposition on both foreign policy and domestic issues. The article was sharply criticized at a joint meeting of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission in August 1927.
2. The expulsion of the Communists from the Kuomintangoccurred at the initiative of the Kuomintang's Central Executive Committee on 26 July 1927. The Chinese Communist Party was banned, and many Communists and their supporters were persecuted.
[16 July 1927]
1) We'll talk about China when I come. You didn't understand myletter. The letter says that we can't rule out an interval [between revolutions], but that doesn't mean that a new upsurge in the next period is ruled out. In short, let's talk when I get there. You have apparently decided to distribute the documents of the opposition to the members and candidates of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission.2 But what do you have to counter these documents with? Surely not just Bukharin's last article?3 But really, it's just not good enough! To distribute documents in that way doesn't help us.
2) Your hastiness in setting up official diplomatic relations with Chiang [Kai-shek] makes a bad impression. What is thisa bow to
Chamberlain or something else of the kind? What's the big hurry?
3) I'll be in Moscow on Saturday morning the 23rd. I wanted to putit off another two days, but the weather here is starting to turn bad.
1. Stalin dates the letter 16 July 1926. In fact, the events mentionedin the letter occurred in 1927.
2. The reference is to statements from the opposition on theChinese question.
3. Bukharin's article "Na krutom perevale kitaiskoi revoliutsii" (Onthe steep pass of the Chinese revolution) was published in Pravda on 10 July 1927.