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Moscow, January 16-18, 1924


The plenary meeting of the CC in September 1923 and, still earlier, long before any pronouncements were made by the opposition, the Political Bureau of the CC spoke of the need to activate Party  work and strengthen working-class democracy in the Party.

On the one hand, the upsurge of industry, the discontinuance of the declassing of the proletariat, the cultural growth of the working class and the increased activity among it have created more favourable conditions for really implementing the principles of inner-Party democracy. On the other hand, although the summer economic conflicts did not in themselves acquire menacing proportions and were much smaller than in the past, they showed that here and there the link of the Party organisations with the non-Party mass of workers is not strong enough.

The Party Central Committee was aware that the transition to new lines had to be accomplished thoughtfully, cautiously and after thorough preparation. In the realization of this it started preparatory work in this field in September 1923.

Meanwhile, the old opposition groups, large and small, whose policy had been time and again condemned by the Party, found the moment suitable to launch an attack on the Party CC. Believing that the question of inner-Party democracy would give rise to accentuated attention one the part of all Party members, the opposition groups decided to exploit this slogan for factional purposes. The letter by Comrade Trotsky and, following it, the letter of 46 appeared after the publication of the decision adopted by the September plenary meeting of the CC RCP. These documents gave a totally fallacious and ultra-factional assessment of the economic situation in the country and of the inner state of the Party, forecast a grave economic crisis in the Republic and an inner crisis in the Party and accused the Party CC of incorrect leadership.

The harm of these factional pronouncements by Comrade Trotsky and the 46 was aggravated by the fact that the above-mentioned letters immediately came to the notice of broad circles of Party members, were widely circulated in the various regions, among students in Moscow and promptly throughout the USSR.

The joint plenary meetings of the CC and CCC with the participation of representatives of 10 of the largest Party organisations in October rightly condemned the actions of Comrade Trotsky and the 46 as being of a factional nature. At the same time, at their joint plenary meetings the CC and  CCC unanimously approved the initiative of the Political Bureau in the question of animating inner- Party work and promoting working-class democracy. At these plenary meetings it was decided not to take the arguments raised by Comrade Trotsky and the 46 outside the CC and not to publish the letters of Comrade Trotsky and the 46 or the reply of the Political Bureau and the resolution, condemning the opposition, adopted by the CC and the CCC by a majority of 102 to 2 with 10 abstentions.

Nonetheless, Trotsky and his 46 supporters did not abide by the decision of that authoritative Party institution and continued their systematic attacks on the Party CC, first among broad circles of the Moscow organisation and then throughout the USSR.

In line with the decisions of the joint plenary meetings, the Political Bureau began drafting   the resolution on the situation in the Party and on working-class democracy. Despite Comrade Trotsky’s factional activities, the majority in the Political Bureau found it necessary to reach agreement with him. After prolonged efforts by the majority in the Political Bureau, the resolution  of the  Political  Bureau  and  the  Presidium  of  the  CCC  on  inner-Party  development  was     adopted unanimously on December 5, 1923 and published.

When this resolution was drafted one of the most contested issues concerned factional activity. At first Comrade Trotsky raised no objection to banning factions but insisted that freedom to form groups should not be abrogated. Nonetheless, it was found possible to work out a unanimous text, which on the question of factions referred to the decision of the Tenth Congress of the RCP.

But the opposition persisted in pursuing its factional activities. While the majority of the CC and CCC, bound by their own decision to refrain from publishing the abovementioned documents, faithfully abided by that decision, the opposition went on widely distributing their factional documents. Two days after the unanimously adopted resolution of the Political Bureau and the Presidium of the CCC was published, Comrade Trotsky wrote his notorious letter under the heading “A New Policy”, which was, in fact, a factional manifesto directed against the Central Committee.

Comrade Trotsky’s article, which appeared directly after this and also his pamphlet (A New Policy), brought out on the day the All-Union Party Conference opened, still further accentuated the factional nature of his actions.

The struggle has been further aggravated by the appearance of Trotsky’s factional manifesto. In Moscow, particularly in the military Party cells and in the Party cells at institutions of higher learning, the opposition is starting a campaign on a scale unprecedented in our Party’s history against the CC, sowing distrust of the Party CC. The opposition is sending its representatives throughout Russia. The struggle is growing unprecedentedly acute. The nucleus of the opposition consists of members of the former “Democratic Centralism” group, which fought the Party line for a number of years. This nucleus has been joined by some former CC members who have not been re-elected at the Tenth Congress of the RCP on a motion moved by Comrade Lenin (Preobrazhensky, Smirnov, Serebryakov). This entire opposition bloc is headed by Comrade Trotsky, and for that reason at first enjoys some authority.

2. Ideological Substance of the Opposition

The discussion has shown that the following are the six major points on which the overwhelming majority of our Party is in disagreement with the opposition.

(1) With Comrade Trotsky at its head, the opposition has put forward a slogan calling for the break-up of the Party apparatus and sought to shift the centre of the struggle against bureaucracy in the state apparatus to the “bureaucracy” in the Party apparatus. This unfounded criticism and direct attempt to discredit the Party apparatus can objectively achieve nothing except break the Party’s influence over the state apparatus and divorce the state apparatus from the Party. A tendency to tear the organs of state away from the influence of the Party was displayed by Comrade Trotsky even before the Twelfth Congress of the RCP. In the present discussion this tendency has only assumed a different form

(2) The opposition has sought to contrapose young Party members to the veteran cadres of the Party and to its Central Committee. Instead of teaching the young members that our Party has to take as its example its main proletarian nucleus, the Communist workers in the factories, the opposition led by Comrade Trotsky has begun arguing that the student youth is the Party’s “barometer”.

(3) Comrade Trotsky has dropped veiled hints to the effect that the main cadres of our Party have degenerated, and has thereby attempted to undermine the authority of the CC, which, in the interim between congresses, is the sole representative of the entire Party. Comrade Trotsky has not only tried to counterpose himself to the rest of the Central Committee, but has levelled accusations which could not help but evoke anxiety among wide circles of the working class and a stormy  protest in the ranks of the Party as a whole.

(4) The opposition has demonstrated its bankruptcy most strongly on economic questions, having been unable to back up its accusations of the Party CC and having made no attempt to offer coherent 
suggestions on economic questions as an alternative to the Party’s policy.

Two shades are traceable in the opposition’s criticism of the Party’s economic policy. Part of the opposition indulges abundantly in “Left” phrase-mongering against the New Economic Policy generally, making statements that would have had some meaning only if these comrades had suggested renouncing the New Economic Policy and returning to war communism. The other, much more influential, part of the opposition, on the contrary, reproaches the CC with being much too uncompromising with regard to foreign capital, making insufficient concessions to the imperialist powers, and so on. 

This part of the opposition (Radek) has bluntly proposed a reconsideration of the terms outlined by the Party in connection with the Genoa Conference and large economic concessions to international imperialism with the purpose of strengthening business relations with foreign capital. The Party unhesitatingly rejects these two errors.

(5) In all its shades the opposition has betrayed totally non-Bolshevik views on the  importance of Party discipline. The pronouncements of many representatives of the opposition are a glaring violation of Party discipline and are reminiscent of the days when Comrade Lenin had to fight “intellectual anarchism” on questions of organisation and uphold the principles of proletarian discipline in the Party.

(6) The opposition has clearly violated the decision of the Tenth Congress of the RCP  banning the formation of factions in the Party. It renounces the Bolshevik view that the Party is a monolithic whole for the view that the Party is a totality of all sorts of currents and  factions. According to the “new” views of the opposition, these currents, factions and groups must enjoy equality in the Party, while the Party CC must be not so much the leader of the Party as a simple registrar and a factotum between the currents and groups. This view has nothing in common with Leninism. The factional activities of the opposition cannot but threaten the unity of the state  apparatus. Its factional actions have enlivened the hopes of all the enemies of the Party, including the West European bourgeoisie, for a split in the Russian Communist Party. These factional actions have sharply revived the question whether the RCP, as the governing Party, can tolerate the formation of factional groups within it.

Having summed up these disagreements and analysed the entire character of the actions of the opposition, the All-Union Party Conference has drawn the conclusion that the present opposition is not only an attempt to revise Bolshevism, not only a flagrant departure from Leninism but patently a petty-bourgeois deviation. There is no doubt whatever that this opposition objectively mirrors the pressure of the petty bourgeoisie on the position of the proletarian Party and its policy. Outside the Party the principles of inner-Party democracy are already beginning to be interpreted loosely: in the sense of the weakening of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the extension of the political rights of the new bourgeoisie.

In a situation in which the RCP embodies the dictatorship of the proletariat and enjoys a monopoly 
over legality in the country, it is inevitable that some of the least stable groups of Communists should succumb to non-proletarian influence. The Party as a whole must see this danger and vigilantly safeguard its proletarian line.

Our entire Party must wage a systematic and energetic struggle against this petty-bourgeois deviation.

3. Positive Results of the Discussion

The increased activity and the higher cultural level achieved by broad sections of the non- Party workers and part of the working peasants is a new factor, which, provided the Party pursues a correct policy, will vastly benefit the cause of the revolution. In order to be equal to the occasion   and have the possibility of leading these workers and the propertyless sections of the peasants, who are joining in the active building of socialism, the Party must itself, at all costs, animate and activate its inner life. In this respect, despite the petty-bourgeois deviation of the opposition, the Party has benefited greatly by the discussion.

The petty-bourgeois errors of the opposition were rectified quickly and resolutely by the  Party. As soon as the roll within the Party was called, one after another the largest proletarian organisations in the RCP sternly criticised the opposition’s petty-bourgeois vacillation and reaffirmed their support for the line pursued by the Central Committee. In this case, as formerly, during debates of principle in the Party, the first to come forward was the Petrograd organisation of the RCP, the oldest Bolshevik workers’ organisation. Scores of the largest proletarian organisations in the Union of Republics unequivocally aligned themselves with the letter of the Petrograd organisation. The resolution of the Moscow Gubernia Conference, carried by an overwhelming majority vote, expressed a similarly emphatic denunciation of the opposition. At the time the All-Union Party Conference opened, the entire Party had, by an absolute majority, unanimously condemned the petty-bourgeois deviation.

As a result of the discussion, the main nucleus of the Party is more close-knit than before. Throughout the Union of Republics, the workers’ cells unhesitatingly gave the most determined  rebuff to the errors of the opposition. The young Party members, who witnessed sharp arguments in the Party for the first time, had the possibility of seeing real Bolshevism. The Communist youth from the Komsomol, who are closest to factory life, gave their support to the Party’s main line without hesitation. The vacillation of part of the students of institutions of higher learning is a transient phenomenon. With proper explanatory work by the Party, this vacillation will be quickly eradicated.

All members of the Party displayed increased activity and a higher level of political consciousness. Important economic and Party issues, which the Party will work on in the immediate future, were raised in a new way.

The aspiration of the whole Party to ensure Party unity was sharply accentuated. The least  hint of the possibility of a split has given and gives rise to the strongest protest by the entire mass of Party members. The Party will destroy politically anybody who makes an attempt on the unity of its ranks. Greater Party unity has been secured than ever before.

4. Practical Conclusions

In view of the present state of affairs in the Party, the All-Union Party Conference considers:

(1) That the proletarian nucleus in the Party must be increased numerically and given a larger say in Party policy. Within the next year the recruitment of factory workers into membership of the Party shall be intensified in order to enrol not less than 100,000 new members. For this it is necessary to facilitate the admission of workers into the Party in every possible way. For this period admission to the Party for all non-proletarian members must be closed entirely. In the Party systematic propaganda must be conducted to the effect that the whole Party must keep in step with the main workers’ nucleus.

(2) In order to achieve the utmost strengthening of the Party’s ties with non-Party people, non-Party workers must be given adequate genuine representation in all the Soviets of Working People’s Deputies and in all other local government organs. The Party Central Committee must most strictly enforce this decision and resolutely call to order those local organisations that violate it.

(3) Party organisations must pay particular attention .to explanatory work in cells which, during the recent discussion, had vacillated in one way or another on the question of the Party line. Explanation, explanation  and  more  explanation—such  is  the  principal  task  primarily  before  theParty’s main cadre.

(4) Unremitting attention must be given to explanatory work among young people. In view of the shortage of material means the Party must prefer to have a smaller contingent of students but, on the other hand, improve the material condition of students and better the standard of the work at institutions of higher learning. Special steps have to be taken to ensure correct Party leadership of the work among young people. The Party cannot allow flattery towards young people, but neither must it permit peremptory orders or bureaucratic tutelage. The purpose can only be served by patient explanation of the principles of Leninism.

(5) One of the most important tasks is that the study of the history of the RCP, above all, of the main facts of the struggle between Bolshevism and Menshevism, of the role of the various factions and currents during that struggle, particularly of the eclectic factions which sought to “reconcile” Bolshevism with Menshevism, must be up to the mark. The Party Central Committee must take steps to secure the publication of the necessary number of textbooks on the history of the RCP and make the teaching of the history of the Party compulsory in all Party schools, institutions of higher learning, study circles and so forth.

(6) After the example of the largest proletarian organisations, it is necessary to set up circles in all our organisations to study Leninism, using the entire collection of the works of Comrade Lenin as the principal aid and ensuring proper guidance for these circles.

(7) The Party’s Central Organ (Pravda) must be strengthened with the proper cadres in order to give it the possibility of systematically explaining the principles of Bolshevism and campaigning against all deviations from it.

(8) The current discussion must now be transferred from the pages of Pravda to the  Discussion Bulletin published by Pravda.

(9) Freedom of discussion in the Party by no means implies freedom to undermine Party discipline. The Party Central Committee and all Party centres in the localities must immediately take the sternest measures to safeguard iron Bolshevik discipline wherever efforts are made to loosen it.

(10) Relentless measures up to expulsion from Party membership must be taken by the Party against 
the spread of unverified rumours and banned documents and similar methods usually employed by unprincipled groups infected by petty-bourgeois sentiments.

(11) The organisation of information about the work of the Central Committee and about inner-Party life generally must be improved. For this purpose the verbatim reports of Central Committee plenary meetings must be sent to all members and alternate members of the CC and the CCC and also to the Regional and Gubernia Party committees.* An efficiently functioning Party life department must be organised in Pravda, Izvestia and other newspapers in the centre and localities. An information department must be set up at the Party. C.C.

(12) Special attention must be given to using correct and healthy methods of Party work in the Army. Particularly stern punishment must be meted out by the Party for attempts to conduct factional “work” among the personnel of the Red Army.

(13) The Conference considers it quite expedient to reiterate full and unconditional support for the ecision of the Tenth Congress of the RCP banning factional groups. The Conference deems it necessary to suggest that the Thirteenth Congress of the RCP endorse this decision on behalf of theParty’s highest organ.

(14) The Conference suggests that the CC publishes the hitherto unpublished Paragraph 7 of the resolution on unity, adopted on Comrade Lenin’s recommendation by the Tenth Congress of the RCP, empowering a joint meeting of the CC and the CCC by a two-thirds’ majority to reduce  members to the status of candidate members or even expel from the Party any member of the CC who violates Party discipline or engages in factional activity.*

(15) The Conference cannot overlook the decision of the recent Moscow Gubernia Conferece, which informed the entire Party that a factional group undermining Party unity has been set up in Moscow.

The Conference expects the Party CC and the CCC to take prompt and most resolute steps, up to expulsion from the Party, against those who are trying to split the Party in the main political centre of the USSR.

Considering that the nation-wide discussion on the questions mooted hitherto has ended, the Conference calls on all Party organisations to go over to business-like work. Unshakable unity of the RCP, the governing Party of the proletarian dictatorship, is the fundamental requisite for the further advance of the proletarian revolution. Party unity is the proletarian vanguard’s main possession. The unity of the RCP must be safeguarded as the apple of one’s eye. The All-Union Party Conference is confident that the Party CC, round which, as the result of the discussion has shown, the entire Party has rallied again and again, will firmly safeguard this unity.

The CPSU in Resolutions etc.,
18th Russ. Ed., Vol. 2, pp. 507-15

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