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Leon Trotsky 19300500 Stalin’s “Reply to Collective Farm Comrades”

Leon Trotsky: Stalin’s “Reply to Collective Farm Comrades”

Published May 1930

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 13. Supplement (1929-1933), New York 1979, p. 39 f.]

This answer of Stalin entirely fills the front page of Pravda. A hopeless sea of lines. It is impossible to fish out a fresh thought, a serious generalization.

Why did the excesses take place? Here is the answer: “It has been forgotten that coercion, which is necessary and useful in the fight against our class enemies, is impermissible and disastrous when applied to the middle peasant, who is our ally.”

How did they thus “forget”? After all, the one idea they have dinned into the mind of the party since 1923 is that one must not forget the middle peasant. Indeed, the whole struggle against the Opposition proceeded under this banner. And how did it turn out? “We forgot the middle peasant.” It is exactly as though they had mislaid a handkerchief.

What other kinds of mistakes did they make? “In building collective farms, Lenin’s voluntary principle has been violated.”

No more, no less. Why did they violate it? This is not explained. And why did it take so long for the authorities to notice the violation? And why did the peasants not complain in time about the violation? It is impossible to understand anything.

Third question. How could these errors have arisen, and how must the party correct them?

Reply. They arose because of our rapid successes in the collective-farm movement. Success sometimes turns people’s heads.”

That is the whole explanation: quick successes, and therefore dizziness. But just where was the party? It could not have happened that one-and-a-half million members of the party felt dizzy. And generally speaking, just what kind of political condition is this? And what kind of corrective measures exist?

Then follows:

Fifth question. Which is our chief danger, the Right or the ‘Left’?

Reply. Our chief danger at the present time is the Right danger. The Right danger has been, and still is, the chief danger.”

This “sure is true,” as Tolstoy’s peasant observes. But because, don’t you see, the left danger nourishes the right, therefore, in the interests of the struggle against the main danger it is necessary to crush the left. If Stalin executed Blumkin, then it was only in the interests of the struggle against the right danger.

As regards the kulaks, it is reported that the policy of their “elimination as a class” remains in full force. But “that does not mean, of course, that we can eliminate them at one stroke. But it does mean that we shall work to surround them and to eliminate them.”

To surround and eliminate — no, to work to surround and eliminate them, and, to boot, not at one stroke — all this shows that Stalin will work furtively to eliminate the program of dispossessing the kulak, not at one stroke, of course, but in a drawn-out fashion, through unscrupulous maneuvers that will confuse the party once and for all.