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Leon Trotsky 19300800 Who Will Prevail?

Leon Trotsky: Who Will Prevail?

Published August 1930

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 2, 1930, New York 1975, p. 337-343]

The provisional character of the Sixteenth Congress is displayed more crudely than the most imaginative Oppositionist could have anticipated. What is the isolated episode of Uglanov worth? This bully, audacious when connected to the apparatus, a nonentity on his own, repented for the second time by unreservedly recognizing all the "tempos" and all the "periods." Shouldn't that have been enough? They laughed at him. Is that what you were asked? Are you a little child? Then acknowledge that Stalin is a born leader and endorse the fact.

Evidently Uglanov acknowledged it and, of course, endorsed it. Everything is now reduced to this. The five-year plan may vary; yesterday the rate was 9 percent, today it is 30 percent. The five-year plan may become a four- or three-year plan and, for collectivization, even a two-year plan. But that is not the question. Acknowledge Stalin's leadership. The congress was not convened around a program, ideas, methods, but around a person.

Stalin surrounds himself with a Central Committee, the Central Committee with district committees; and the district committees select the party. The congress is only a showplace for things that have been settled in advance. Taken as a whole, this is a preparation for Bonapartism within the framework of the party. Only a blind person or a tired official can fail to see and understand this. But to see and understand and to keep quiet is possible only for scoundrels. There are not a few of them among the capitulators.

Stalin's ten-hour report — what emptiness of bureaucratic thought!

The figures on the economic successes are not presented to instruct, but to dazzle and deceive the party. The successes are incontestable. It is not we who were skeptical. We foresaw them and fought for them when the motto of the party was "slow growth," when the Kaganoviches, in defense of the 9 percent rate of the five-year plan, called us demagogues, when the Yaroslavskys, in reply to criticism of the shameful minimal rate of the original five-year plan, threw volumes of production-control figures at the heads of the speakers, when the Molotovs jeered at the very idea of the possibility of a 20 percent growth after the end of the reconstruction period. The successes are incontestable. We foresaw them and fought for them for a long time.

In the first production-control figures of the 1925 plan, far from precise and very cautious, we could discern "the music of socialism in construction." What sarcasm this expression aroused among the philistines, the ignoramuses, the fools, the talentless geniuses of the all-powerful apparatus. Now that all the immense possibilities inherent in the October Revolution have blazed their way through the most obstinate difficulty, the narrow conservatism of the bureaucracy, the latter parades at its congress:

"We are the October Revolution! We are socialism! We are everything, for we are the state!" And then Stalin appears and explains: "The workers' state, that is me; and everyone and everything, that is also me." And because they have trampled on and destroyed the control of the masses, they need an arbitrary power, a boss, the crown of the hierarchy, the first among all — Stalin. That is why they rise and proclaim in chorus: "Yes, he is all of us." That is the music of the Sixteenth Congress.

The economic successes are considerable. But the difficulties and contradictions are greater still. About these, Stalin said nothing. Or rather, he said only enough to conceal the difficulties and minimize the contradictions.

Only the figures that describe the rate of growth were given; not one figure that describes the quality of production! It is as though one were to describe a person by giving the dimension of height without that of weight. The same was true of net costs. The whole economic system, and above all the effectiveness of its direction, is tested by the productivity of labor, and in the tributary economic forms of the market the productivity of labor is measured by production costs or net costs. To ignore this question is the same as to declare a person healthy on the basis of appearance, without listening to complaints or checking the heartbeat.

The interdependence between the city and the countryside is regulated by exchange; money is not yet a thing of the past. Stalin said nothing about the danger of inflation.

The relation between the prices of agricultural products and industrial products is one of the central problems not only of the economy, but of the whole social and political system based on the October Revolution. Are the "scissors" of agricultural and industrial prices opening or closing, the "scissors" whose one blade represents the worker and the other the peasant? Not a word about this in the report.

On the contrary, the dilemma "Who will prevail?" is now conclusively settled, according to the report, on the basis of the weakening of capitalist forces in the internal market. But this does not decide the question. The countryside has not yet said its last word. The contradictions of the countryside have not disappeared; they are being brought into the framework of the collective farms where they will soon show up. A good harvest will make them sharper. The drivelers and numskulls will surely say that we are against a good harvest. All the Rudzutaks were Mikoyaning, all the Mikoyans were Rudzutaking on this theme for many years until, in their ardor, they ran their heads against the kulaks' barns. It was then they proclaimed in Pravda that as a result of two good harvests the kulak had influenced the middle peasant and taught him to conduct a grain strike against the workers' state. The less the leadership is capable of foresight, the more the process of differentiation continues on its inevitable course. This process will encompass all the collective farms and deepen the inequalities between the collective farms and within them. And that is when the leadership, which is great on making predictions after the fact, will convince itself that the collective farms, lacking a solid material and cultural base, are subject to all the contradictions of a market economy. The majority of the bureaucratically created collective farms will become the arena of the class struggle. This means that the dilemma "Who will prevail?" will reassert itself in all its scope and on a higher plane.

But the conflict will not be limited to the field of agriculture. The internal forces of capitalism in the USSR draw their strength and significance from the forces of world capitalism. But Mikoyan, the child prodigy, will probably have to convince himself that there really is "this world market to which we are subordinate, to which we are bound, from which we cannot escape" (Lenin at the Eleventh Congress). The dilemma "Who will prevail?" is in the final analysis the question of the relations between the USSR and world capitalism. This problem has been posed but not yet solved by history. The internal successes are of great importance because they make it possible to consolidate, to progress, to hold on while it is necessary to wait. But no more than that. The internal economic struggles are vanguard battles with an enemy the bulk of whose forces are beyond the border. The dilemma "Who will prevail?” not only on the military field, not only on the political field, but also and primarily on the economic field, is posed before us on a world scale — or more precisely, encircles us.

Military intervention is a danger. Economic intervention through low-priced commodities is an incomparably greater danger. The question of economic power and political stability leads in the final analysis to the question of labor productivity. In a market economy, labor productivity is expressed by net cost and selling price. The ”scissors” between domestic prices and the prices on the world market are the most important measure of the relationship of forces between the advance of socialism and its capitalist encirclement. What has happened to the "scissors" in the last two and a half years? On this essential question there is no reply. Stalin does not give any accurate comparative coefficients, any Marxist formula, to define the dynamic interdependence between the domestic and the world economy. An engineer who runs an electric station must have a chart of the control apparatus so that he can follow all the fundamental processes of production and distribution of energy. Similarly, those who direct the economy of the Soviet state must have an up-to-date "chart" of the system of coefficients that characterize — not only the absolute growth of industry — but also the curve of net costs, the purchasing power of the Chervonets, and the domestic and foreign "scissors." If not, the leadership is compelled to react blindly to economic disruption, until the safety mechanisms explode one after the other, fire breaks out, and the consumers are lost in the chaos.

Ten hours of empty bureaucratic thought will teach the party nothing. Quite the contrary, it will only lull it with the disgraceful melody of "national socialism."

The most threatening danger today, however, is not the "scissors" between domestic and foreign prices. The most threatening danger is the "scissors" between the party bureaucracy and the working class, the complete subjection and dispersion of the party. The monstrous show of "monolithism" is crowned by a small, very small, circumstance, but a very menacing one: the monolithism of two million cannot tolerate the slightest criticism of the leadership. On the thirteenth anniversary of the dictatorship, after all the economic and cultural successes, after the question "Who will prevail?” is claimed to have been conclusively settled, the party regime should be much more free and flexible than at the time of the civil war. But the ruling party, that is, the bureaucracy, does not tolerate a single critical remark by a worker or a single timid question by a student: "Is not the Central Committee responsible for the deviations?" The entire press, raging in typical fashion, denounces a critical remark or a question as the most immediate threat to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The GPU bureaucracy is not to be outdone by the party bureaucracy, for its Yagodas and sub-Yagodas have ripened under the Stalinist sun. The Agabekovs stand guard for Stalinist monolithism up to the moment they desert to the class enemy.

One of the deported Oppositionists is hunted down for having corresponded with Trotsky, on the basis of the statute on espionage. This idea undoubtedly comes from the master himself. For his mastery consists only of such ideas. In his speech to the congress, Stalin said that the Left Opposition supplies information to the world bourgeois press. What information? The verbose speaker did not say. From the information it gets from our publications, however, the bourgeoisie can draw only one conclusion: that in spite of the Thermidorean lies of Stalin's agents, we Bolshevik-Leninists are an inseparable part of the Soviet republic, that we are its devoted soldiers, ready to defend it to the very end, and at the same time we are the left wing of the international proletarian vanguard. The world bourgeoisie and the social democracy understand this very well. That is why they enclose us in a hostile blockade, in which the Dovgalevskys, the Bessedovskys, and the Cachins collaborate with Tardieu, the Krestinskys come to an understanding with the ministers of Hindenburg, and the Sokolnikovs conspire with the Hendersons. This is the true alignment of forces on the great chessboard.

As for us, we ask: What information is needed by the world bourgeoisie after that furnished by the official Stalinist press agency, and primarily by Stalin himself? The president of the Council of People's Commissars is said to be a saboteur. Yesterday's leaders of the Comintern are branded "agents of the bourgeoisie." For the amusement of children, they exhibit yesterday's directors of the trade unions and the Moscow organization, the same ones who had been purging the organizations of "Trotskyism" through the years. On top of this, the official press published a story about the desertion of "Trotskyists" from the ranks of the Red Army to Chiang Kai-shek. Is all this a joke? The world bourgeoisie knows the history of the Red Army well enough to ask, "If this is true, what does it mean?" At the same time, proven Bolsheviks, stalwart revolutionaries, are persecuted for having corresponded with Trotsky. Aren't these facts, furnished every day and every hour by the Stalinist apparatus, which tramples underfoot and drags in the mud the whole past of the party and the revolution solely for the purpose of forging a falsified biography for the provisional boss, sufficient for the bourgeoisie?

And to add to that, the Stalinist informers appear in a second edition. Bessedovsky, Krukov, Agabekov, who ceaselessly combated Trotskyism for seven years and who yesterday — literally yesterday — directed the purging of the cells, desert to the class enemy, furnishing the police services of imperialism with all the Soviet government secrets that they were given in confidence or that they learned of. What more information does the bourgeoisie need than that furnished constantly by the Stalinists of today and the Stalinists of yesterday, who supplement each other?

After Blumkin was shot, Stalin replaced him with Agabekov. That is a fact which sums up Stalin's policy in the party. At the same time, the revolutionaries who correspond with Trotsky are persecuted by the Agabekovs on the basis of the statute that is supposed to permit Stalin to perpetrate new assassinations. Whoever does not understand the symptomatic and threatening import of this fact is a hopeless idiot. Whoever understands this and keeps quiet is a scoundrel.

Neither repression nor threats will silence us. The stake of the struggle is too important: it is the fate of the October Revolution and the party of Lenin, not only the party of the Soviet Union but the international party of Lenin, which today has fallen under the direction of the sergeant Prishibeyev using the pseudonym of Molotov. At stake is the preservation of world communism. The struggle between Leninism and Stalinism is not decided. This is where the question "Who will prevail?" takes on its full amplitude. Repression will not cause us to turn from our course. The bloodiest and most envenomed violence of Stalin will not separate us from the party and will not put us in opposition to the party, which Stalin is attempting to strangle. We will carry on our struggle with twofold, threefold, tenfold energy. Today we continue to serve the goals we served in the 1905 revolution, during the imperialist slaughter, in the 1917 revolution, during the civil war, in the first period of economic reconstruction, at the foundation of the Comintern, in the struggle for a bold tempo of socialist construction against the cowardice of the philistine epigones. Against national socialism, for the international revolution!