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July 13, 1927

In connection with the resolution passed by the Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee of the All-Union Metalworkers’ Trade Union on June 27 of this year on Comrade Lepse’s report on the current situation, in which the Plenary Meeting condemned, in particular, the disorganising activities of the opposition, you sent us your letter on July 1 of this year addressed solely to the CC of the All-Union Metalworkers’ Trade Union, in which you declared that you could not pass the resolution of our Plenary Meeting over in silence “if only out of respect for the Metalworkers’ Trade Union”. We thank you for your respect, but here it is not a matter of the Metalworkers’ Trade Union, which you respect, but of something else: you have simply used another pretext to write yet another anti-Party document for wide legal and illegal circulation. This is borne out by the fact that you have mailed this letter to the central committees of all the other trade unions, which you evidently respect just as much.

1. You reproach us for having “transferred questions of the inner-Party struggle to a plenary meeting of the CC of the trade union, which is a non-Party institution”, and in a paternally didactic tone you lecture us on Party discipline, declaring that there had been no precedents of this kind in our trade unions.

To say nothing of the circumstance that the CC plenary meeting, which adopted this resolution, was attended solely by members of the trade union CC, all of whom are Party members, we can, in point of fact, say with indignation only the following:

those who organised the opposition demonstration at the Yaroslavl Railway Station and harangued chance passers by against the Party;

those who used the rostrum at the House of Trade Unions at the large non-Party meeting marking the Pravda anniversary on May 9 of this year for gross, slanderous attacks on the Central Committee of the Communist Party and its central organ;

those who support foreign renegades of communism—Ruth Fischer, Maslow, Urbahns, fill their counter-revolutionary newspaper with anti-Party documents of the opposition and turn it into a medium of their malicious agitation and propaganda abroad;

those who have deceived the Party, even after the declaration of October 16, 1926 renouncing the factional struggle, continue this struggle against the Party and its Central Committee by underground anti-Party methods, circulate their anti-Party literature at the factories among non-Party workers, have not the least moral right to accuse us of violating Party discipline and traditions and preceptorially lecture us on good Party conduct. It is not for those who grossly violate all the Leninist traditions and behests, who disgracefully harass the Party and shatter its ranks to speak of the unprecedented nature of our action.

We repeat, we are deeply shocked by the glaring hypocrisy of this reproach and statement by persons, who, while having rendered the Party and the revolution services in the past, have profoundly discredited themselves by their reprehensible and unparalleled disorganising activities in our Party.

With an air of injured innocence you write: “By your appeal to non-Party people against the opposition you intimate that you want to force us to explain not only to Party members but also to non-Party people that our position has nothing in common with the slanderous assertions in your resolution”, and with virtuous indignation you promise at the end of your letter “in the name of elementary revolutionary duty to our Party and the workers’ state” to take all the measures in your power to refute our assertions “before the Party and the non-Party masses”.

This statement is a piece of smug hypocrisy and duplicity from beginning to end.

As though you have to be “forced” to appeal to the non-Party masses! You have long ago started your “explanatory” anti-Party campaign not only before the non-Party workers but also before the philistines, before renegades of communism, who use your “explanations” from the rostrum of the German Reichstag to the sheer delight of the bourgeoisie.

If anyone has been forced to embark on an unprecedented action, it is we Communists working in the trade unions who have been forced by you to do so, because your disorganising conduct has long ago given rise to bewilderment and protesting inquiries not only from rank-and-file Party members but also from all class-conscious rank-and-file non-Party workers, members of our trade union, who, like us, have the interests of the Party at heart, work together with the Party, trust it and are alarmed by the attacks on it.

You have forced us, a trade union that, incidentally, has never been neutral on questions of Party politics, to state, as we should and must do, our opinion and the opinion of the organised metalworkers on the opposition in the Communist Party.

Metalworkers, builders of the Party, the Soviet power and the socialist economy, are not at all indifferent to the destiny of this Party. That is why we are in duty bound to reply to the legitimate alarm of the class-conscious members of our trade union.

2. You are not pleased with the appraisal given of the opposition by the Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee of the All-Union Metalworkers’ Trade Union, which denounced it for continuing the pernicious propagation of its defeatist ideology. You have taken on the air of amazement as though you have learned of this assessment of your ideology for the first time. You are making a theoretical incursion into the history of the Party, fabricating an analogy between our statement and the Bolshevik slogan adopted during the imperialist war. . .

In the “Statement of 83”, which you write about and which you circulate illegally, you have not found a single bright spot, a single correct measure in either the foreign or domestic policy of the Central Committee of our Communist Party.

This “Statement of 83” can only beget despondency and pessimism. It gives rise to lack of faith in one’s own strength and gives the impression of total defeat and bankruptcy. It seems that in the history of our Party there has never been a more pessimistic and defeatist document than this statement signed by 83 people, who come from the ranks of our own Party. In it everything is painted
in sombre, dark colours.

But do you really imagine that the entire cheerless ideology of this document can give class- conscious workers and peasants any hope for the possibility of a more radical improvement of their condition in the event the leadership of the Party is in the hands of the opposition? No, the very nature of the cheap demagogy thickly garnishing this document speaks against such a possibility, because every worker and toiling peasant can see through the falsity of your promises.

The working masses are perfectly well aware of and see all the difficulties in our development, in the same way as do their trade unions, to whom these difficulties are better known than to many of those who signed the statement. They are working side by side with the entire Party to surmount these difficulties. And they know quite well that the Party is doing everything to ensure the victorious development of the proletarian revolution and improve the condition of the workers and the peasant masses. All the more so that the masses of workers and their trade unions well remember other times, they well remember and know the “democracy” and “love of workers” of Trotsky, the author of the notorious slogan of shaking up the trade unions, to put the least faith in these promises. It seems to us that the peasants, too, with all their respect for Trotsky, will have not a grain of trust in Trotsky, who contraposes himself to our Party, as a solicitor for peasant affairs.

3. Why have you taken offence and put on the air of make-believe bewilderment when we called things by their names, when we called your ideology defeatist? Is it really news to you?

Or have you forgotten how your “ideological trend in the CPSU(B)” was defined by the Fifteenth All-Union Conference of the CPSU(B) in October 1926, which declared that the “opposition bloc expresses . . . pessimistic and defeatist sentiments among a section of our Party” and that to surmount the difficulties facing the Party and the country “pessimism and defeatist ideology” in the Party “have to be overcome”, not cultivated (Resolution of the Fifteenth Conference “On the Opposition Bloc”). This assessment was fully endorsed by the Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Comintern Executive. Why were you not horrified then and why did you not draw similar analogies? 

That, you will recall, is the very decision of the Party and the Comintern that was unanimously approved by the Plenary Meeting of the CC of the Metalworkers’ Trade Union.

4. You needed the analogy with the historic Bolshevik slogan in order to use an imaginary, “monstrous” accusation, which you yourselves have invented, that you are “mortal enemies of the Soviet state” as a means of intimidating the imagination of the non-Party masses, to whom you are appealing, of diverting their attention from the real meaning and significance of our assertions and of again “explaining” your defeatist ideas and moods to them. This is borne out by the very nature of the document.

Why, for instance, did you have to list in your letter all the responsible representatives of the opposition and give all their past and present titles and posts? Was not your purpose to confuse and frighten people by showing them that “strong forces” are on the side of the opposition?

Your listing of the opposition diplomatists, your listing of the names of a number of veteran Party members who signed the “Statement of 83” had no other aim than to sow among Party members and the non-Party masses defeatism, distrust, uncertainty, fear, and doubt in the possibility of coping with the difficulties.

The doubt you want to sow is: “Will we cope without—such-and-such—prominent members of the Party, and will we be able to direct the foreign and domestic policy of the Soviet state without the opposition?”. From this angle the document is outrageous and strikingly emphasises that we were correct in our statements about the continuation of your pernicious propagation of defeatist ideology.

Is it necessary to say that the entire body of veteran Party members (with rare exceptions), that the entire basic cadre of old Bolsheviks, including Bolshevik workers, are the solid foundation ofour Party and, together with its CC, emphatically denounce the opposition?

Moreover, it is also known that the broad masses of workers are in solidarity with the veteran cadres of the Party in this attitude towards the opposition. Therefore, with all our respect for some of the comrades mentioned by you, we can only reply with a caution from the many thousands of metalworkers and the rest of the working class, which every day moves forward new contingents of active builders of the Soviet state, the Party, the trade unions and the economy: “Do not go to extremes, do not play with fire and do not intimidate the working class! Do not abuse your former services and your past as ‘leaders’. Do not forget that the creative strength (which you are vainly trying to bury) of the working class is inexhaustible, that during the ten years of the proletarian dictatorship it has produced a huge replacement of rank-and-file and responsible builders of the Party, the Soviet state and the socialist economy.”

5. Most curious and ludicrous of all is that you, who are now carrying on disastrous factional activities, are concealing yourselves from us behind a mask of loyalty. You are “protecting” the Party CC from us! You accuse us of factional activities! As though it were not you who slandered and lied against the Party CC at all the crossroads with unprecedented insolence, but the members of the Central Committee of the Metalworkers’ Trade Union, all of whom are devoted to the proletariat and its Party, who have done this at our plenary meeting!

As though it is not you, but the Metalworkers’ CC, who are recklessly circulating lies and demagogic statements (in the hope they leave their mark) to further the factional struggle.

As though it is not you who are compromising the Party and yourselves in the eyes of the worker masses, poisoning their minds with the venom of your ideology, but we, members of the Metalworkers’ CC, who have done so in our resolution!

Who are you trying to trap with this cheap gimmick?

After reading this letter every rank-and-file Communist and every honest class-conscious worker will ask: If you found errors in the pronouncements of Communists at the Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee of the Metalworkers’ Union why did you, instead of taking the matter directly to the Central Committee of our Party and insisting on making them answer to the Party, write an open letter to the Metalworkers’ CC and the central committees of other trade unions, sending it by the ordinary and not secret mail and thereby making it known to the entire apparatus of these institutions? Who will now believe in your loyalty to the Party?

You are trying to get new supporters among the metalworkers. But we repeat what has been unanimously said by the Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Metalworkers’ CC: “Among the advanced trade union contingent of metalworkers not only will you fail to find any support but you will receive a vigorous proletarian rebuff.”

In reply to your threat to take all the steps in your power to refute our statements before the Party and non-Party masses, we declare that we shall use all the prestige enjoyed by the Central Committee of the Metalworkers’ Trade Union among the workers united by it to expose your defeatist ideology if it begins to penetrate our membership, and we shall organise the entire force of proletarian resistance to avert the consequences of your disorganising policy, which is threatening the Party, the working class and the Soviet state.

Presidium, Central Committee of the All-Union
Metalworkers’ Trade Union

Sovetskiye arkhivy, 1967,
No. 3, pp. 28-31
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