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Trotskyism or Leninism? - Stalin

In this period of ideological confusion, the Trotskyites are bound to come forward with scraps of pompous, high-sounding, empty, obscure and bombastic catchphrases which confuse the intelligentsia and non-class-conscious workers, in an attempt to fill the ideological vacuum and to pass off Trotskyism as Leninism. They are bound to make yet another attempt to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism. They must not be allowed to do this. Every Marxist-Leninist, every class-conscious worker, must play his or her part in frustrating this attempt and in ensuring that it fails as miserably as did all similar attempts in the past.

It is by way of a contribution to frustrating this attempt to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism that this book is presented. The author seeks no other reward than the fulfilment of this aim. The choice is straightforward: either counter-revolutionary Trotskyism or revolutionary Leninism. One or the other. Trotskyism or Leninism?

A few words about this book

Finally, a few words as to the material which constitutes this book. Parts I to IV are based on a series of lectures which I delivered in London at the invitation of the Association of Communist Workers (ACW), an anti-revisionist group which, although small in numbers, played a very important role in defending the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism against attacks from Trotskyists and revisionists alike. Originally these pages were distributed as a series of four separate pamphlets under the title Some Questions Concerning the Struggle of Counter- Revolutionary Trotskyism Against Revolutionary Leninism. The pages dealing with the Spanish Civil War (Part V) were never produced at the time. Since then, on the basis of some of the notes that I had at my disposal and further research on her part, my comrade and friend Ella Rule wrote this section and presented it as a paper to the deliberations of the Stalin Society on 24th March, 1991. The sections dealing with the question of collectivisation and class struggle under the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat were both written by way of a preface to collections of Stalin's writings on these two important questions. These too appeared as separate pamphlets, the one on collectivisation in 1975 and that on class struggle in 1973. In this last pamphlet, the section dealing with the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact has been much expanded to include substantiating evidence which was not in the original pamphlet. Now that this Pact has come in for renewed criticism, I have decided to include this material. Also, I have updated the text to take account of works which have been published since the original material was produced, or have come to my notice since that time. From the context, and the dates of the publications referred to, the reader will have little difficulty in spotting the new material.

These last two publications were necessitated by a stream of attacks on the Marxist-Leninist policies of the CPSU(B) during the leadership of Stalin (1924-53) from individuals and organisations who called themselves anti-revisionist and, therefore, by definition ought to have been opposed to revisionism as well as Trotskyism. What these people were putting forth in practice, however, was something incredibly confused and incredibly reactionary – in many cases merely a rehash of Trotsky's propositions. Their writings were characterised by a mixture of erroneous platitudinousness and ignorant arrogance. The British anti-revisionist movement of those days really did go in for a considerable amount of "sublime nonsense", to borrow Engels' expression, producing several personages who gave themselves airs about the science of Marxism-Leninism of which they really never learnt a word.

In the 1870s, in the preface to his Anti-Dühring, Engels complained bitterly about the "infantile disease" which was then afflicting a large section of the German intelligentsia, including a section of the socialist intelligentsia, where "Freedom of science is taken to mean that people write on every subject which they have not studied and put this forward as the only strictly scientific method."

This "infantile disease" was rampant among a large section of the 1970s anti-revisionist movement and its fellow travellers, causing great confusion. Again, at the invitation of the ACW, I edited the two collections of Stalin's writings on the subjects referred to above, provided each collection with a lengthy preface with the purpose of refuting the sublime nonsense and platitudes of our opponents who, possessing but little knowledge of the science of Marxism-Leninism but a goodly amount of conceit and ignorance, were dishing out, in the name of Marxism, a great deal of muddled and reactionary nonsense. Since this reactionary nonsense came from quarters at least nominally anti-revisionist, it had to be dealt with.

A long time has passed since the contents of this book were first published in the form of six separate pamphlets. Some of the persons polemicised against have either died or retired, or have simply, and wisely, retreated into the little bourgeois niches they have carved for themselves. Equally, some of the organisations have either gone into voluntary liquidation or faded into political oblivion. Yet others are no longer recognisable as they have changed their names once or more often (this being especially true of the Trotskyite organisations). None of this matters in the least. What is really important are the issues and questions which were then, and show every sign of becoming now or in the future, the subject of heated arguments and polemics. In that case all we need to do is to remove the name of the person or organisation while using the substance of the argument against those who might insist on putting out nonsense of the type which was put forward by the people I polemicised against two decades ago. Moreover those against whom I polemicised are insignificant today, or were perhaps insignificant even at that time. But similar nonsense has come from quarters far more significant, whose word carries weight, influence and authority. It is my hope that my polemics against my opponents will have the desired effect of countering equally pernicious nonsense from these high quarters.

Originally, when the contents of this book were distributed as separate pamphlets, each pamphlet was provided with an introduction, so that each could be read on its own if so desired. That form is maintained in the book now presented. This ought to make it easier for the reader to read different sections of the book in any preferred order. I have deliberately provided a rather lengthy preface in order, first, to bring the text up to date by including a brief reference to the demise of socialism in the USSR and eastern Europe, as a culmination of a long process of revisionist theory and practice in the fields of politics, political economy, class struggle and philosophy, all set in train by the triumph of Khrushchevite modem revisionism at the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU in 1956; second, to provide more evidence of the thoroughly counter-revolutionary nature of Trotskyism by reference to the response of present-day leading Trotskyite organisations and individuals to the restoration of capitalism in eastern Europe; and finally to provide to all the matters dealt with in this book a degree of coherence which, being originally issued as separate pamphlets, they perhaps did not possess.

It has been decided, also, to provide three appendices – one on what has come to be called Lenin's Testament, another on the relations between Trotsky and the imperialist press and another on the murder of Trotsky by one of his own followers. As they are self-explanatory, there is no need to say anything about them here.

With these words I conclude this preface by expressing the hope that it will make for a useful contribution, no matter how small, in the struggle against Trotskyism and revisionism, and in defence of the eternally true propositions of Marxism-Leninism. I make no pretensions to any originality whatsoever in writing this book. What I have to say in it will be common knowledge to the older generation of Marxist-Leninists. But, to our shame, knowledge of what ought to be generally-known truths is becoming less and less with the younger generation. We meet young comrades who want to join the movement and help with our work. What are we going to do with these comrades? I answer this question in the following words of Stalin's: "I think that systematic reiteration and patient explanation of the so-called 'generally known' truths is one of the best methods of educating these comrades in Marxism." (Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, FLPH Peking, p. 9).

If I have succeeded in correctly and systematically reiterating at least some of the so-called 'generally-known' truths in this book, I shall consider myself entirely satisfied with the enterprise involved.


1: Otzovists: an opportunist group formed in the RSDLP in 1908. It was led by A. Bogdanov. From behind a screen of revolutionary verbiage, the Otzovists demanded the recall of the Social-Democratic deputies from the Third Duma (Czarist parliament) and the cessation of Party activity in legal and semi-legal organisations, maintaining that because reaction was on the rampage the Party had to confine itself to illegal work.

This would have isolated the Party from the masses and turned it into a sectarian organisation incapable of mustering the forces for another revolutionary upsurge.

Lenin showed that the views of the Otzovists were inconsistent, unprincipled and hostile to Marxism. At a conference of an extended editorial board of the Bolshevik newspaper, Proletary, in June 19D9, a resolution was passed to the effect that "as a clear-cut trend in the RSDLP Bolshevism has nothing in common with Otzovism or ultimatumism" (a variety of Otzovism). A. Bogdanov, the Otzovist leader, was expelled from the Bolshevik Party.

2: Liquidators: representatives of an opportunist trend in the RSDLP during the period of reaction from 1907-1912. The Mensheviks were utterly demoralised by the defeat of the revolution of 1905-7. They wanted the disbandment of illegal Party organisations and the cessation of underground revolutionary activity. Their aim was to liquidate the revolutionary Party of the working class and set up an openly reformist party. The liquidators urged the working class to come to terms with the bourgeoisie, to reconcile itself to the reactionary regime in Russia.

The liquidators were headed by Martov, Axelrod, Dan, Martynov and other Menshevik leaders. Trotsky in fact sided with the liquidators.

At the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the RSDLP (January 1912), the liquidators were expelled from the Party.

3: AUCCTU: The All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions.

4: "Among these legends most be included also the very widespread story that Trotsky was the 'sole' or 'chief organiser' of the victories on the fronts of the civil war. I must declare, comrades, in the interest of truth, that this version Is quite out of accord with the facts. I am far from denying that Trotsky played an important role in the civil war. But I must emphatically declare that the high honour of being the organiser of our victories belongs not to individuals, but to the great collective body of advanced workers in our country, the Russian Communist Party. Perhaps it will not be out of place to quote a few examples. You know that Kolchak and Denikin were regarded as the principal enemies of the Soviet Republic. You know that our country breathed freely only after these enemies were defeated. Well, history shows that both these enemies, i.e., Kolchak and Denikin, were routed by our troops IN SPITE of Trotsky's plans.

"Judge for yourselves:

"KOLCHAK: This is in the summer of 1919. Our troops are advancing against Kolchak and are operating near Ufa. A meeting of the Central Committee Is held. Trotsky proposes that the advance be halted along the line of the River Belaya (near Ufa), leaving the Urals In the hands of Kolchak, and that part of the troops be withdrawn from the Eastern Front and transferred to the Southern Front. A heated debate takes place. The Central Committee disagrees with Trotsky, being of the opinion that the Urals, with its factories and railway network, must not be left In the hands of Kolchak, for the latter could easily recuperate there, organise a strong force and reach the Volga again, Kolchak must first be driven beyond the Ural range Into the Siberian steppes, and only after that has been done should forces be transferred to the South. The Central Committee rejects Trotsky's plan. Trotsky hands in his resignation. The Central Committee refuses to accept it. Commander-in-Chief Vatsetis, who supported Trotsky's plan, resigns. His place is taken by a new Commander-in-Chief, Kamenev. From that moment Trotsky ceases to take a direct part in the affairs of the Eastern Front.

"DENIKIN: This Is In the autumn of 1919. The offensive against Denikin is not proceeding successfully. The 'steel ring' around Mamontov (Mamontov's raid) is obviously collapsing. Denikin captures Kursk. Denikin is approaching Orel. Trotsky is summoned from the Southern Front to attend a meeting of the Central Committee. The Central Committee regards the situation as alarming and decides to send new military leaders to the Southern Front and to withdraw Trotsky. The new military leaders demand 'no Intervention' by Trotsky in the affairs of the Southern Front. Operations on the Southern Front, right up to the capture of Rostov-on-Don and Odessa by our troops, proceed without Trotsky.

"Let anybody try to refute these facts."

(Stalin, Collected Works, Vol. 6, pp. 350-352)
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