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From Opportunist Arguements




Strictly speaking, of course, the place for such a recommendation is not in the Rules, which should be confined to statutory definitions, but in explanatory commentaries and pamphlets (and I have already pointed out that I gave such explanations in my pamphlets long before the Rules were drawn up); but a! least such a note would not contain even a shadow of wrong ideas capable of leading to disorganization, not a shadow of the opportunist arguments* and "anarchistic conceptions" that are undoubtedly inherent in Comrade Martov's formulation.

*To this category of arguments, which inevitably crop up·when attempts are made to justify artov's formulation, belongs, in particular, Comrade Trotsky's statement (pp. 248 and 346) that "oppor- tunism is produced by more complex [or: ıs determined by deeper] causes than one or another clause in the Rules; it is brought about by the relative level of development of bourgeois democracy and the proletariat .... " The point is not that clauses in the Rules may produce opportunism, but that with their help a more or a less . trenchant weapon against opportunism can be forged. The deeper its causes, the more trenchant should this weapon be. Therefore, to justify a formulation which opens the door to opportunism on the grounds that opportunism has "deep causes" is tail-ism of the first water. When Comrade Trotsky was opposed to Comrade Lieber, he understood that the Rules constitute the "organised· distrust" of the whole towards the part, of the vanguard towards the backward contingent; but when Comrade Trotsky came to be on Comrade Lieber's side, he forgot this  and even began to justify the weakness and instability of our organisation of this distrust (distrust of opportunism) by talking about "complex causes", the "level of development of the proletariat", etc. Here is another of Comrade Trotsky's arguments: 

"it is much easier for the intellectual youth, organised in one way or another to enter themselves [my italics) on the rolls of the Party." 

Just so. That is why it is the formulation by which even unorganized elements may proclaim themselves Party members that suffers from intellectualism vagueness, and not my formulation, which obviates the right to "enter oneself" on the rolls. Comrade Trotsky said that if the Central Committee "refused to recognize" an organisation of opportunists, it would only be because of the character of certain individuals, and that since these individuals would be known, as political personalities, they would not be dangerous and could be removed by a general Party boycott. 

This is only true of cases when people have to be removed from the Party (and only half true at that, because an organised party removes members by a vote and not by a boycott). It is absolutely untrue of the far more frequent cases when removal would be absurd, and when all that is required is control. 

For purposes of control, the Central Com­mittee might, on certain conditions, deliberately admit to the Party an organisation which was not quite reliable but which was capable of working; it might do so with the object of testing it, of trying to direct it on to the right path, of correcting its partial aberrations by guidance, etc. This would not be dangerous if in general "self-entering" on the Party rolls were not allowed. it would often be useful for an open_ and responsible, controlled expression (and discussion) of mistaken views and mistaken tactics. 

"But if statutory definitions are to correspond to actual relations, Comrade Lenin's formulation must be rejected," said Comrade Trotsky, and again he spoke like an opportunist. Actual relations are not a dead thing, they live and  develop. Statutory definitions may correspond to the progressive development of those relations, but they may also (if the definitions are had ones) "correspond" to retrogression or stagnation. 

One Step Forward, Two Step Back
PP 272
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