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New International, January 1948


A. Rudzienski

Rudzienski Replies to Oak


From The New International, Vol. XIV No. 1, January 1948, pp. 18–20.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


[Our contributor Rudzienski here replies to the letter by Liston Oak which appeared in the September issue. The original article by Rudzienaki was printed in the August issue. – Ed.]


Liston Oak feels offended by the term “innocent” which I used in connection with his comparison between the present situation in Poland and Russia under Kerensky. May I say that the adjective “innocent” was used casually in the text without the intention of offending anyone. The article originally bore the title The Errors of Liston Oak which the editor of The New International later changed to read A Social Democratic “Innocent” Abroad. I did not use the term “innocent” in any derogatory sense, since I prefer “innocent” people to rogues and sharpsters.

My article was dedicated to explaining Liston Oak’s errors and not to censuring him. With Oak’s statement that “my casual comparison between the Poland of 1945–47 and the Russia of Kerensky and Lenin was not a brilliant one,” the question was almost completely cleared up because this was the fundamental difference between us.

However, angered by the unfortunate adjective “innocent” (which the editor overemphasized, contrary to my intentions), Liston Oak draws the noose tight and, like a bourgeois and not a socialist, says, “Rudzienski’s distortion of my meaning is a typical piece of Bolshevik polemical hypocrisy.”

Why the need to fire this Big Bertha, since Oak himself confesses his comparison was not exactly a happy one? I wished only to explain to the readers that the present Warsaw government bears no similarity to Kerensky’s regime, because the latter was created during a revolution and was a democratic government; the Stalinist government was imported on the bayonets of an invasion, is anti-democratic, anti-socialist and counter-revolutionary. Had Liston Oak accepted just this, the discussion would have been cleared up.

I agree with the clarification that “there was in Poland neither a bourgeois nor proletarian revolution,” but “that a democratic socialist revolution had been suppressed, drowned in blood by the Red Army and the NKVD and the Polish Communist Quislings.” I desire only to add that by the “democratic socialist revolution” I understand the socialist revolution, the only revolution possible now. There is no doubt that the socialist revolution will be the most democratic of all revolutions; the definition of the revolution as “socialist” distinguishes it from the bourgeois revolution and emphasizes its different class content in accordance with Marxist theory.

But like a vulgar bourgeois and not a socialist, the ill-tempered Liston Oak confuses all that was previously clarified, with one small phrase which follows the previous quotation: “as it was in Russia by the Bolsheviks, under Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin.”

For my part it is not a question of adjectives or of finding stains on the radiant sun of Liston Oak’s socialist theory, but of explaining the different content of the bourgeois and proletarian revolution. It is hardly a question of a contradiction between the adjectives “socialist” and “democratic.” The revolution of our times is destined to realize a combination of different tasks in the course of the same historic process.

Liston Oak admits his error in comparing the Warsaw government with the Kerensky government; even more, he states that there was no social revolution in Poland. And then, contrary to all the logic of scientific discussion, he lowers the level of discussion by insinuating that I am guilty of “Bolshevik hypocrisy.” Going even further he puts Lenin and Trotsky on the same level with Stalin and the ... Communist Quislings of Warsaw.

Since the level of the discussion has thus been lowered, we must explain elementary truths. All the revolutions in history have been followed by periods of reaction. Isolated from the international proletariat, the Russian Revolution was destroyed by Stalin, who is not the continuator of Lenin and Trotsky’s work but its most abject and infamous grave-digger. Socialism is a maximum and superior stage of social democracy. The totalitarian autocracy of Stalin is a phenomenon of the counter-revolution and not a continuation of the social revolution which was led by Lenin and Trotsky.

The only salvation from totalitarian barbarism, which in its most elemental form is a product of decomposing capitalism or the defeated revolution, is the socialist revolution, the only revolution possible in our times. This revolution will not abolish democracy but realize it completely for the first time in history, abolishing the system of capitalist monopoly and the totalitarian monopoly of the Stalinist bureaucracy.

If Liston Oak wishes to save our civilization or formal bourgeois democracy, he will have to unite with us whether he does or does not hate Lenin and Trotsky, or else pass into the ranks of the bourgeois-Stalinist counter-revolution. The attempt to evade a theoretical position with insults or fits of ill temper will not save him from having to choose between these alternatives.

A. Rudzienski

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