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Leon Trotsky 19301200 Notes of a Journalist

Leon Trotsky: Notes of a Journalist

Published December 1930

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 3, 1930-1931, New York 1973, p. 109-113]

Knights of Anti-Trotskyism

Pravda accuses Ryutin — Ryutin! — of Trotskyism, and the party must listen and suffer this. This is what we have come to! Let us recall the past briefly. The initiators of the struggle against Trotskyism were Zinoviev and Kamenev. After a time they themselves came over to the banner of Trotskyism; the fact that they later deserted this banner does not alter this. The principal or, rather, only theoretician of anti-Trotskyism was Bukharin, who fostered the whole campaign. He — Bukharin, the author of the Comintern program! — turned out to be "a bourgeois liberal" and "an agent of the saboteurs inside the party." His repeated repentance does not change this. The Moscow organization was entrusted to Uglanov, especially to carry on the struggle against Trotskyism. His services along this line were more than once given official recognition. But as soon as he had crushed Trotskyism in Moscow, he himself was exposed as an echo of the kulak-Nepman. At the head of the Moscow Central Control Commission which was expelling Trotskyists was the not unknown Moroz. As soon as he completed his work of expulsions, it was decided at the joint session of the Moscow committee and the control commission under Stalin's direction that Moroz, who had been the personification of the "conscience of the party" on the Moscow scale, in fact had no conscience at all (literally!). At the head of the Krasnopresnensk district, the main proletarian district in Moscow, stood Ryutin, the pillar and hope of Uglanov, the main theoretician of anti-Trotskyism in the Moscow organization. Now he has been labeled a former Menshevik, a renegade, a saboteur, and is expelled from the party. Nevertheless, between his allegiance to Menshevism in 1917 and his wrecking activities in 1930, he succeeded in performing the chief work of the Moscow organization in its struggle against Trotskyism.

We could continue this sketch indefinitely, beyond the confines of the USSR. In all the sections of the Comintern the majority of those who directed the struggle against Trotskyism proved to be right-wingers, counterrevolutionaries, and renegades.

Did not their renegacy consist precisely in the fact that they conducted a struggle for the extermination of the only Marxist, the only Leninist faction of contemporary communism?

Heckert Teaches Liebknecht

Fritz Heckert writes on the defeat of the German revolution of 1918-19 in an anniversary article of Pravda: "It was a great mistake that the Spartacus League considered itself merely a propagandist group in the ranks of the Social Democratic Party." Further on he accuses Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, and Leo Jogiches of "not having understood the role of the revolutionary party."

There is a grain of truth in this remark, although expressed pedantically and torn out of its historical context. But we are not concerned with this now.

If it can be considered a mistake that Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht maintained the Spartacists as a revolutionary faction inside the Social Democratic Party for too long a time and by doing so impeded the victory of the German revolution, then what can be said about the gentlemen who forcibly compelled the young Communist Party of China to enter a purely bourgeois party, to abide by its discipline, and even to forsake its duty of counterposing Marxism to Sun Yat-senism?

But it was precisely this crime that was committed during 1923-28 by the Comintern leadership. And it was Fritz Heckert who unfailingly defended this criminal policy of the right-centrist bloc against the Left Opposition. Shouldn't Heckert be a bit more careful in his comments on Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg?

Stalinist Recruitment

The newspapers publish in almost every issue: "We nonparty workers, in reply to the duplicity of the opportunists, declare our adherence to the party.”

This is always followed by a list of workers with a note attached to each name: twenty years of industrial experience, twenty-five, twenty-nine, and even thirty-three. Thus these are workers who are forty or fifty years old. All of them were mature at the time of the October Revolution and the civil war. This did not prevent them from remaining outside the party. Only the duplicity of the two chairmen of the Council of People's Commissars, Rykov and Syrtsov, induced them to join the party.

What kind of workers are these who succeeded in retaining their jobs in a factory, often in the same factory, for a period of fifteen to twenty years prior to the revolution? These are the most meek, the most submissive, often simply servile elements, participants in religious processions, those who bring birthday presents to the boss. In the first years of the revolution they did not even dare to think of joining the party. But once it is ordered by the bosses, the authorities, they cannot refuse. These are the elements inside the working class to whom centrism more and more looks for support, while at the same time it silences the most advanced workers.

The Greatest Crime

Pravda has now formulated a new type of crime: "the Trotskyists' methods of discrediting the best pupil of Lenin and the recognized leader of the party, Comrade Stalin." Unfortunately, the most serious beginning of this Trotskyist method was made in Lenin's testament, where the "best pupil" is accused of rudeness, disloyalty, and the tendency toward the abuse of power, and where the party is urged to remove him from his post.

"Everybody Remembers”

The paper Za Industrializatsiia [For Industrialization], which incidentally is edited in a very careless manner, writes: "Everybody remembers the idea, advanced at one time by the wreckers of the southern metal industry, that the Dnieprostroi power station should be constructed only when there would be consumers for the power. In other words, only after the factories have demanded power should the construction of the station begin. This was directed against the Dnieprostroi" (November 3).

"Everybody remembers"! But some also remember that all these arguments were the basic ones of the Politburo in 1926-27. Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Kalinin, Rykov — all were against the Dnieprostroi project, with the exception of the Ukrainians, who were for Dnieprostroi for their own reasons. Stalin maintained that construction of the Dnieprostroi station should be compared to a peasant's purchase of a phonograph instead of a cow. Voroshilov clamored that it would be ridiculous to construct a power station for factories that did not yet exist.

All this is preserved in the stenographic minutes of the Central Committee meetings.

The Opposition’s Yesterday

In a lengthy article (November 21) Pravda criticizes the errors of A. P. Smirnov, the former commissar of agriculture, and his successor Teodorovich, and reveals their adherence to the Kondratievs. The article is basically a paraphrasing of the written declarations which the Opposition presented to the Central Committee in 1926-27, and which were indignantly rejected by Stalin, Molotov, and the others. And so poor Pravda repeats the Opposition's yesterday.

The Mystery of Repentance

Sovetskaya Sibir [Soviet Siberia] informs us that in Kalachinsk "the chief activity and concern of the communists of late has been the recognition of errors and self-flagellation, which is carried out with particular pleasure and levity."

Only in Kalachinsk?

They now repent as easily as they blow their nose. The well-known Bogushevsky, who for a number of months was generally associated with the extreme right (actually he was not a right-winger; he simply did not get the signal in time and continued to play the old record), is now not only the editor of Za Industrializatsiia but is also conducting a furious campaign against the right-wingers. What was required of him for this high post? Nothing in particular: to cut his hair, take a bath, and repent. And the fellow is again as good as new — until the moment of a new zigzag.

After these lines had been written, the Moscow papers brought the latest news: Bogushevsky has been called on the carpet for labeling Bukharin's repentance a fraud. Again, he did not get the signal in time and overreached himself. It can't be helped; it's the risk of the trade.

Bald-Headed Communist Youth

Why do you keep silent, Nikolai Ivanovich?

A few lines to you and Rykov we are ready to devote.

This is a fragment of verse by Bezymensky, the accuser of those who cannot defend themselves. He calls Nussinov, who was expelled from the party, "a most villainous abomination."1 There's a bold and quick-witted poet for you! Further on he speaks of "the villainous carrion of all oppositions" even though the eminent Bezymensky himself once belonged to one of the oppositions. And all this is in the style of bald-headed communist youth.

1 This is a play on the Russian name Nussinov. Gnusny means abomination. — Translator