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Leon Trotsky 19300917 Another Letter to Hungarian Comrades

Leon Trotsky: Another Letter to Hungarian Comrades

September 17, 1930

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 2, 1930, New York 1975, p. 382-285]

Dear Comrades,

I received your letter of August 30 including your comments on my circular letter. The reason for my late reply is that your letter was sent to Bratislava to be translated into German. If you can write from Budapest in German, that would speed up our correspondence. But if that would entail difficulties for you, write in Hungarian and I will continue to send your letters to be translated.

I am very glad to learn, both from what two French comrades had to say and from your letters, that an organization of young worker communists exists in Hungary that upholds the point of view of the Left Opposition. I will be quite happy to keep in touch with you in the future.

As far as I can judge from your description, there are various tendencies in the ranks of the Hungarian Opposition, which are inevitably bound to go off in different directions; and the sooner this happens, the better.

In Hungary there is not thus far, apparently, an independent organization of the Right Opposition (like the Brandlerites in Germany, the Lovestone group in America, the Neurath group in Czechoslovakia, etc.). The right-wing elements, it seems, still cover themselves with the overall banner of the Opposition. This is a danger.

On the other hand, there are in the ranks of the Opposition more than a few ultralefts and just plain muddleheads, who combine right-wing views with ultraleft ones, those like Korsch or Urbahns in Germany, the Prague group around Artur Pollack, etc.

To draw a line between ourselves and such elements is absolutely necessary. This can be done only on the basis of principled issues both on the Hungarian level and internationally. It will be absolutely necessary for you to acquaint yourselves more closely with the discussion that has gone on among us Bolshevik-Leninists, on the one hand, and among the rights and ultralefts, on the other. Hungarian comrades in emigration will presumably translate the most important documents of this discussion for you, or at least excerpts from the documents, so that you can be fully abreast of these matters and can take an active part in all the work of the International Opposition.

The need to draw lines of principle does not at all mean, of course, that one must expel every worker who goes astray on one question or another or who hesitates or vacillates. On the contrary, we should argue for our views in the most comradely and patient way, giving the members of the organization or sympathizers a chance to think over each question on their own and to arrive at the correct conclusions independently, even if that means hesitation and vacillation. This is especially true for an organization made up of young people. It is necessary to break with those elements who already have a fully formed view of the world which is opposed to ours and who only try to take advantage of the membership of the Opposition to spread views hostile to Marxism and Leninism.

You write that the official Hungarian party is a tiny sect, but you add at the same time that your organization is a still tinier sect. It seems to me that you wrongly apply the term sect to yourselves. A weak organization is not yet a sect. If it follows correct methods, it will sooner or later win influence within the working class. Sect is a term I would use only for an organization of the kind that is forever doomed, by virtue of its mistaken methodology, to remain on the sidelines of life and of the working-class struggle

You are absolutely right when you say that you must independently take up the work that the official party cannot or will not carry out. It would be senseless to ask permission of the Stalinist bureaucracy, which expels and persecutes the Bolshevik-Leninists. It goes without saying that now and in the future you will have to struggle independently to win the masses over to the banner of communism. But it does not follow from this at all that a second party and a fourth international are needed. Even if the official party in Hungary were much weaker than our organization, that would still not decide the question, for, as you have written quite correctly, this question has to be decided on an international scale. Of course in every single country the Opposition's methods of action will be decided by national conditions and above all by the relation of forces between the Opposition and the official party in the given country.

I am sending you herewith a copy of my letter dated today and addressed to the conference of the German Opposition, for the letter deals precisely with the question of the attitude of the Opposition toward the official party in a country where millions of workers follow the party.

Some Hungarian Oppositionists argue, according to what you have said, that an immediate transition from feudalism to socialism is inconceivable and that therefore the Soviet republic can never lead to socialism but only to capitalism. This way of posing the question is wrong through and through. In Russia on the eve of the revolution it was not feudal but capitalist relations that played the dominant role; otherwise where would the proletariat have come from which proved to be so capable of taking and holding state power?

Equally incorrect is the argument that NEP would inevitably lead to capitalism. This question cannot, in general, be decided a priori: everything depends on the relation of forces. The proletariat of the most advanced countries, when it takes power, will probably permit market relations to continue for a rather long transitional period, gradually giving them an ever more regulated form and in this way finally eliminating the forms of commodity exchange in the economy.

In order for state capitalism in the true sense of the term to become established in Russia, power would have to pass into the hands of the bourgeoisie. Without a civil war that is inconceivable. Can such a civil war occur? It is entirely possible. The policies of the Stalinist bureaucracy have greatly weakened the proletariat's position, reduced its revolutionary spirit, and at the same time, through a whole series of mistaken and even senseless actions, driven the petty bourgeoisie into a terrible state of embitterment. In the event of a civil war, which side would prove victorious? This can never be stated beforehand. But we would have to do everything possible to assure that victory fell to the proletarian side. There can be no doubt that if the bourgeoisie — the domestic variety aided by its foreign counterpart — tried to regain for itself all that was taken away in October 1917, the proletariat, repressed as it is by the Stalinist apparatus, would awaken with mighty revolutionary energy. In a struggle of this kind to defend the gains of October, the Stalinist apparatus would be likely to lose its predominance as well. To make it easier for the Soviet proletariat to resolve its problems is the duty of the International Left Opposition and, first of all, of the Russian Opposition.

Only one thing is sure: the Soviet Union will not build a socialist society without the victory of the proletariat in the West, in the advanced countries. But since the existence of the Soviet Union makes that victory easier, the struggle for the revival and strengthening of the proletarian dictatorship in the Soviet Union is one of the most important tasks of the Communist Opposition.

I firmly shake your hand, and send you warmest communist greetings, and wish you success.


L. Trotsky