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Leon Trotsky 19300207 Reply to a Friend's Letter

Leon Trotsky: Reply to a Friend's Letter

February 7, 1930

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 2, 1930, New York 1975, p. 96 f.]

Dear Friend:

You write that it is impossible to change the present hazardous course of the Stalinist leadership by means of criticism and pressure, that it can be changed only to an ultraright course, and that, therefore, it is impossible to polemicize against the present ultraleft course "from the right." If we take this thought to its conclusion, it would mean that the whole of world communism is being changed into a gamble on complete collectivization and the liquidation of the kulaks in the space of two years. Is that conceivable? Can it be accepted? No! I do not know if we are faced with the last or next-to-last gamble of centrism, just as I do not know how many zigzags there will be, how many turns, splits, and upheavals on the road to building socialism (or, in the case of a reversal, to the collapse of the dictatorship). But never, at any stage, directly or indirectly, can we solidarize ourselves with an illusory policy flowing from a false theoretical premise The gamble on industrialization and complete collectivization flows entirely from the theory of socialism in one country. Naturally, in the event of success, they will have proved it in practice. But, unfortunately, success along this line is totally excluded. Complete collectivization means introducing all the contradictions of the countryside into the collective farms. The "liquidation" of the kulaks still outside the collective farms means camouflaging the kulaks who reappear automatically inside the collectives. Industrialization on the basis of subjective factors ("not to dare to cite objective causes") means preparing a very severe crisis. All this will be revealed long before the end of the five-year plan. How can we not tell the party the truth? "The right wing wants to join us,” you say. Temporarily, some of the right wing might join us. But that danger is absolutely nothing in comparison with the danger of compromising communism completely and definitively on a world scale.

Don't forget there is an International. Mad opportunism now spreads equally along the line, on an international scale: for us it's "complete collectivization"; for Germany they say it's to be "1923" all over again; for the whole world it's the "third period." The fate of communism is being staked on the card of bureaucratic adventurism. Even if I thought that in an isolated USSR no other policy was left but Stalinist adventurism, I would not hide this sad truth, because it is necessary to protect the heritage of Marxist thought and its future. But I think that it is impossible to measure the internal resources of the October Revolution; there is no reason to draw the conclusion that they are exhausted and that we should not try to prevent Stalin from doing what he is doing.

Nobody appointed us inspectors of historical development. We are representatives of a definite current, Bolshevism, and we remain so in the face of all changes and under all conditions. There is no other answer on my part, nor can there be.