Boris Souvarine

The “New Course” in the Bolshevik Party:
The Discussion as Seen from France

Source: This article originally appeared in Bulletin Communiste, Sixth Year, no. 6, 8 February 1924.
Transcription: Paul Flewers, for the Marxists Internet Archive in 2008.
Translation and Annotations: Al Richardson, the translation was checked by Harry Ratner.
HTML Markup: David Walters.
Proofred: Einde O’Callaghan. (September 2019)
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” and all credit above as your source.

WE have already published in the Bulletin some 25 articles and documents on the situation in the Russian Communist Party. It is time to disentangle from them their essential points, a work that is indispensable before coming to any conclusions. We would have already done it if the Lyons Conference and Lenin’s death [1] had not obliged us to make this task a secondary one. We will naturally continue to publish other materials alongside it.

The discussion about Russia has greatly interested the active militants of the French party. Under our heading What the Militants Are Saying, we have read several letters that show how seriously the readers of the Bulletin are following it. We also have 20 other more personal letters on the same subject to hand. And what do our correspondents say?

We can divide the opinions expressed into three groups. The greater number come out as follows: all this is very interesting, but what it amounts to is not clear: at one time you approve of the views of the majority, and at another some of the views of the Opposition: so in the end, who are you with? Then come those that can be summarised in this way: all this is very gripping, but in the last analysis, those who are taking part in the discussion seem to be essentially in agreement, and we do not see why they are arguing. Finally, three comrades say approximately: all this is of the greatest interest, but why are you not openly supporting the Opposition, since it is obvious that it is right…?

There are therefore in this correspondence two characteristic traits: a unanimity about estimating the interest value of the discussion, and a unanimity in asking for an Ariadne’s thread that would prevent us from getting lost in the labyrinth…

We are going to try and provide this thread.

*  *  *

No one should feel embarrassed at hesitating before forming an absolutely definitive opinion on such matters. He would have had to have lived in Russia and studied the origin and development of today’s differences on the spot in order to grasp the essential import of them. In the absence of this advantage, we must begin our examination with the greatest prudence, and even investigate in a contradictory way in order to pick out the essential traits.

He who has the presumption to believe that he is in a position to solve the questions that are being debated in the Russian party before having made a deep study of it would be as ridiculous as the reader of the second part of Goethe’s Faust, who pretended to do without the footnotes… [2]

It often happens that our Russian comrades join in a controversy on a given topic, but in spite of themselves are really discussing something else which does not crop up in the debate to begin with. This is easily explained. A question has to be dealt with, whether political or organisational, that requires an urgent solution: there is no intention of overturning the basis of the policy, nor of questioning the base of the structure; but every political question has an organisational corollary, and every organisational problem bears a political aspect; and, for good or ill, we are irresistibly drawn to the basis of everything, in other words the whole concept of the progress of the revolution, and even of its foundations, the economy.

This is what happened three years ago, during the discussion over the trade unions. It was indeed about the trade unions! But it was really the whole economic policy that was involved, and it was the “New Economic Policy” which at one blow resolved all the burning questions of the time, including that of the trade unions. [3]

Now today, the questions that are being debated with such passion—workers” democracy, factions within the party, the rôles of old and new members—are only secondary aspects of the main question: Soviet production.

Logic would have demanded that the party’s Central Committee should have started by adopting a resolution on economic policy, and then one on the party’s internal policy. But it is the opposite that has taken place. This proves that work does not proceed in the immense construction site that is Russia in accordance with the good order that can be followed in a cabinet. It is pointless to waste time regretting it: you do what you can. But having said this, we must here in France attempt to examine the subject with more method than could be applied to it in Russia.

In other words, we must begin at the beginning: the economy, and we must then deal with the politics, or, if you like, the party’s “internal regime” (politics and organisation being inseparable here).

*  *  *

The NEP is an economic system essentially marked by competition between Soviet production and trade and private production and trade. The state’s economic organisation has the advantage of the “commanding heights” of the revolution: the protection of political power, possession of heavy industry, and a state monopoly of transport and foreign trade. The private, capitalist, economy has the advantage of the flexibility and experience it has acquired, and of individual initiative and the classic methods of speculation.

Thanks to its grip on power, the Soviet economy could always overtake its rival, paralysed by the weight of taxation and always at the mercy of restrictive legislation. But it is not enough to be satisfied with favourable balance sheets; we must consider all the questions that go along with them, and the material conditions of the masses above all. Maintaining industrial and commercial superiority at the cost of impoverishing the workers would mean that “to live, you would have to lose any reason for living”. And one cannot indefinitely resort to artificial pressure in order to assure the superiority of state production and trade. The objective to be attained is to ensure an accumulation of Soviet capital that would overtake the accumulation of private capital. To arrive at this it is necessary to achieve profitable production.

In spite of the undeniable progress of heavy industry and the general improvement in the Soviet economy, the whole of production is still in deficit. This is in the first place on account of the generally high costs (due to organisational faults, poor accounting, the inevitable frictions and hesitations of starting off, the insufficient productivity of labour, etc) and to the very high transport costs influencing the prices of raw materials, which have set manufacturing costs too high. In the second place, too much freedom allowed to the state trusts has allowed them to increase their sale prices too much, with the aim of realising the profits that would allow them funds to operate—which has lifted the sale prices of manufacturing goods to the limit. Finally, the purchasing power of the working class and the peasantry is extremely low, and cannot assure the disposal of the goods, in view of the insignificant credit available to them.

This state of affairs schematically set out results in the state having to support its industry at great cost instead of being supported financially by it, and that the accumulation of state capital takes place very slowly, whereas that of private capital is progressing more quickly. There is nothing alarming about such a situation if it remains temporary, and if one rapidly passes over to a phase of obvious economic progress. But it must pass over precisely without too much delay to this new phase, and it is the means by which we get there that have to be addressed.

Intensifying production; reducing costs; raising the productivity of labour; lowering manufacturing and sale prices in order to put them approximately at the level of the European market; opening up credit to peasants and workers; these are the difficult tasks to be solved in order to lift the Soviet economy up to the level of the needs of the revolution, and to assure its growth and the parallel growth of the working class and of its Communist Party.

And that is not all: the accumulation of Soviet capital is only possible on condition of there being a balance of foreign trade favourable to Soviet exports. Imports mean a drain on capital, exports increase Soviet capital. The more exports grow, the greater the operating funds of the state, thus providing the advantages that come from producing intensively, stocking up with raw materials and goods, releasing credit, improving the living conditions of the workers, etc. One must therefore have this question constantly in mind: how and what should be produced in order to gain a growing share of the world market?

Such is the main economic information about Russia’s economic problem, set out objectively and obviously in far too condensed a form. (But how do we develop every point? It would need a volume.)

*  *  *

Last year, the situation set out above provoked a crisis [4] which reached its most serious level in the autumn. It was marked by a disproportion between industrial and agricultural prices, and therefore made it difficult for the peasants to obtain for their produce an equivalent value for the manufactured goods that they needed; making it difficult for the workers to buy manufactured goods as well; and making it difficult for the firms to dispose of their goods, and therefore to continue their production regularly and pay wages regularly. The discontent that followed even expressed itself in the form of strikes in the main centres.

The party reacted quickly and energetically. The trusts were forced to revise their prices, which were reduced by between 25 and 40 per cent. State intervention assured regular wages payment. But these were only temporary measures: it was necessary to think up effective means that would allow a lasting and normal improvement. It is then that the discussions began within the party.

They were publicly begun by Zinoviev’s article in Pravda on 7 November, of which we have provided an account. [5] People set about polemicising about workers” democracy in the party, then on the “faults” in the party apparatus, then on the danger of factions, then about the merits of “the old guard” and the duties of new and young Communists, and then of differences before the revolution, etc. But in the last analysis… we come back to the beginning, the basic question at issue, in other words, economic policy.

This explains why the basis of the discussion does not appear here clearly: in order to reveal it, we must lay aside all the secondary questions that cover it up. That is what we have just done. Now that we have before us the basis of the problem stripped of what was piled over it, let us begin to examine the solutions proposed.

The solutions are very few. The old Russia only developed its economy thanks to the introduction of foreign capital; the new cannot count on this help. The concessions and the joint companies envisaged by the NEP are still insignificant; they will not have any serious importance for a long time to come. Therefore, the resources for development must be found in Russia itself.

The critique of the existing state of affairs was made in a masterly manner by Trotsky at the Twelfth Congress, and the speaker pointed to the solutions to it at the same time. [6] If we leave aside the details that have been pointed out in preceding articles, we see two main points in Trotsky’s argument: concentration of industry, to be done naturally by taking account of political necessities, and the dominating rôle of a general “Plan”, without which the whole lot can neither be thought about nor controlled. We have already commented on these ideas, so we will not repeat them.

Are Trotsky’s views right or wrong? The fact is that nobody has ever opposed them, and the Twelfth Congress passed them. Its last two resolutions reaffirmed this agreement: One said “to combat successfully the main causes of the sales crisis, the party must ensure the methodical application of the measures outlined by the Twelfth Congress, measures envisaging the concentration of industry, etc”. And the other:

Concentrating industry is a necessary component of improving our industry. We have inherited from the old regime a great number of firms set up irrationally, not in accordance with the present economic system, which are a heavy charge on our budget. Frequently, they do not function at full capacity, and the expenses of keeping them going increase their production costs. But the party must not forget here, as much as in any other branch, that commercial and budgetary considerations must be subordinated to political considerations, that is, in the present conditions preserving the political power of the working class. Where closing factories would deliver a blow to the political strength of the proletariat, and disperse its basic cadres, strictly applying concentration would be an inadmissible political mistake.

It goes without saying that there can be no question of demolishing the two pillars of the dictatorship of the proletariat, Petrograd and Moscow. Everyone agrees about this point. As the Germans say, you must not saw off the branch you are sitting on… The whole point is to find in practice the fine line between rational concentration and disorganising concentration.

There was even confirmation of Trotsky’s views on the “Plan”. The first resolution said:

Hence the exceptional importance of the Supreme Council of the National Plan, the general staff of the socialist state, along with all its local sections, whose rôle as assigned to them by the resolution of the Twelfth Congress it is necessary to confirm.

And the second:

It is now a question of strengthening the State Planning Committee, by increasing its rôle in financial and credit policy, by linking its activity more closely with those of the Commissariat of Finance, the Supreme Council of the National Economy, the Commissariats of Agriculture, of Internal Trade, etc, and by strengthening their local organs, etc. The Planning Commission must study market conditions and elaborate measures allowing it to act on it. It is necessary to guarantee the rôle assigned to it by the Twelfth Congress. Nominating one of the vice-presidents of the Council of Peoples Commissars as president of the Planning Commission ensures that it will take an active part in solving all the current problems of economic life. [7]

It is therefore a question of ensuring the application of these resolutions so as to render them effective. But recognising only in theory the correctness of such and such a viewpoint will not take us much further.

Here we see a gap in the resolutions—this is a personal opinion that we are formulating—the absence of concrete measures for unifying the direction of the economy. We have already given our opinion in this way:

At the moment, the Council of Peoples Commissars, the Supreme Council of the National Economy, the State Plan, the Council of Labour and Defence, the Workers and Peasants Inspectorate, and the Commissariat of Foreign Trade, without taking account of other secondary organs, are sharing the work. It stands out a mile that none of these organs, improvised during the Civil War to deal with urgent necessities, can coexist forever, and that they must be rebuilt in a rational manner.

And in our enumeration we did not mention the Chief Concessions Committee, the party Central Committee and Political Bureau, or those commissariats directly involved in important economic questions, etc. In Trotsky’s idea, Gosplan [8] must become the economic leadership and the Council of Labour and Defence must become the organ for implementing it. Whether the one or the other is set up as the leading organ, the main thing is that a leadership should exist. Several leaderships generally mean no leadership as a whole.

Perhaps this is not the time to move to recasting the economic organs? Our comrades surely have their reasons for not considering it yet. But it seems interesting to us to point the way towards this eventuality.

The other points of the resolution on economic policy do not provide material for deep differences. The party is unanimously in support of Trotsky’s thesis on the necessity to consolidate the alliance of the proletariat and peasantry on a solid economic basis, that is, by making the prices of state industry come into line with those of the peasant market; we have explained Trotsky’s “scissors” image, one of the blades representing the rising industrial costs, and the other the falling prices of agriculture; we should try to narrow the gap of these two symbolic blades. The discussions about money will find the French reader too ill prepared to assimilate them; Preobrazhensky [9], as the previous Commissar of Finance, has his own personal opinions about this, which are not shared by what has been called “the Opposition” as a whole; the difference is not important enough for us to analyse here.

As to imports, some members of the Opposition envisage a new tactic: opening up the Russian market to some foreign products to make Russian production compete with that outside. This dangerous idea is opposed by other oppositional spokesmen, such as Shliapnikov [10], and naturally by the whole of the party; it has no chance of ever prevailing. It is clear that the Soviet economy must be defended by all means, and that it is necessary to devote Russian capital to the expansion of Russian industry, and consequently of the working class; this is a former idea of the previous “Workers Opposition” which the party has taken over as its own. And the Soviet state is always free to allow such foreign trade to take place, in the event of a dire necessity.

Nothing in the resolution involves any essentially new criterion for understanding it; it generally confirms the policy now being followed, with a few added corrections, emphases and nuances. We must step back in order to understand some points that have acquired fresh importance, and which require a deeper investigation.

*  *  *

Let us now come to what has inflamed the argument so much: the inner-party regime. We have given our opinion above, but, so it seems, submerged among the various opinions; in fact, we had simultaneously to set out the different viewpoints, and if from this to lending ourselves to one idea or another of which we were only the transmitter is only a small step… We are therefore going to quote our own texts, in order to clear up any misunderstanding.

There is not one opposition in the Russian party. There are several, and this is not a new fact; and we must not lose sight of this if we wish to understand the situation. We shall meet again our old acquaintances; the Workers Opposition (Shliapnikov, etc) which thought all the others wrong; the “Democratic Centralists” (Ossinsky, Sapronov, etc.) [11]. who agree about one thing with this one and another with that one; the “Left Communists” (Stukov [12], Preobrazhensky, Piatakov, etc.), who are sometimes confused with the former, and sometimes… with the latter; Radek, who cannot be categorised; and Trotsky, who, as always, goes it alone. [13] All this shows the stupidity of the bourgeois press, for whom “the Opposition” forms one faction that is seeking to replace the majority. The truth is that those who have ideas express them without bothering about standardising them, which proves that it cannot be a question of factions struggling for power. They are competing to find the best line for the party, and that is all.

Some of the “oppositionists” have claimed that the failure to apply the resolution of the Tenth Congress on workers” democracy [14] can be attributed to the will of the Central Committee. We have completely rejected this point of view, in these terms:

We must not forget that if the decisions of the Tenth Congress have not been subsequently applied, this is for the simple reason that the majority of the party voluntarily fell into line with the regime that came into existence under “war communism”; wishing to attribute the continuation of this regime to the desire of some to be dictators would be wretched political psychology. “Workers democracy” will not be brought about by the decision of a congress, but by the wholehearted participation of those who can in the party’s internal and external life.

In complete agreement with Zinoviev, we have already given the objective reasons for the stagnation of the party:

From 1918 to 1921, the party was literally on a war footing: every member was a soldier placed at some level in the military hierarchy; it was above all necessary to save the revolution then being militarily attacked in every quarter, running from one front to the next, and fighting all the time. This frenzied activity and military discipline had inevitably to be followed by very noticeable unwinding, a deep desire for rest, a need for physical and moral regeneration. Now this relaxation corresponds with the changeover to the NEP, a transitional phase full of unexpected phenomena, of contrasts, of contradictions, and of things deeply disturbing to the workers, who had not yet assimilated Lenin’s flexible and deep concepts. Moreover, we were hungry, we were preoccupied with looking for a piece of bread, a state of mind that is hardly conducive to great intellectual effort. And the proletariat was atomised, and scattered all over the huge country by the Civil War. Such were the main objective reasons. There were also subjective ones, fixed habits, the specialisation and formation of cadres, etc.

We have praised the political sense and foresight of the Central Committee, and agree with its excellent resolution:

Obviously the party must avoid splits by means of its political sense, its foresight, and its clear thinking. It neglects nothing to convince those who are hesitant. It does not hesitate to expel those who resist. It is a good way of doing things, provided the leadership continues to take account of every sensible criticism and every good suggestion, as it is doing at the present time.

And in another place: “We have seen that the resolution adopted by the party’s central organs is meeting the correct criticisms formulated by all the farsighted comrades, which are not the monopoly of any ‘tendency’ or any ‘current’.” And in yet another place:

The great strength of the Bolsheviks has always been to foresee the general turn of events, insofar as human understanding and Marxist analysis allow, and the development of economic needs and social forces. They knew how to anticipate the needs of the masses, ensuring their support by serving their interests. They knew how to gain time, and to hurry things along when it was possible to hurry them along. They knew how to criticise themselves before outsiders were able to do so (we are talking about real criticisms, not Philistine abuse or Menshevik bitterness), and to correct their line before outside pressure forced them to do it. Now on this occasion, they are making a change in time, with a very sure sense of the interests of the revolution and the duties of the party.

We have rejected the opinion of those who wanted all at once to re-elect the party apparatus: “The Opposition [15], since it has been formed, is demanding the immediate re-election of all the party cadres, at all levels. This time the leadership resists this exaggeration, and remarks that we should not destroy everything.” And we added: “We should not, as the Russian proverb has it, throw the baby out with the bathwater.” We judged the attitude of the first oppositional trio as a political mistake:

We used the word “maladroit” as regards the Opposition, and we note that we are applying it to comrades Preobrazhensky, Sapronov and Rafail [16], some of whose criticisms are well founded, but who have shown an obvious lack of political sense in the whole affair. The resolution of 7 December represented an enormous step forward for the party leadership, in a sense advocated for a long time by the Opposition. It ought to have greeted it with joy and worked to apply it, in order to avoid the fate of the theses of the Tenth Congress. Instead of this, it seemed upset to see its own point of view prevail in the Central Committee, and was anxious to find pretexts for going further than the resolution adopted. What a political mistake!

We could quote more, but this is enough. Alongside our support for the majority and our criticism of the minority, we have defended the latter against the accusation of forming factions: “It is obvious that there cannot be and does not exist a faction set up within the party, since the elimination of the two small groups of whom we spoke.” And again:

If it were a faction, the opposition would not have been carried on so incompetently, which can only be explained by the spontaneity and dispersal of the initiatives of one or the other person. And we say so all the more freely because we know, like and very much admire the comrades in the various “tendencies ”.

And finally:

There is no faction in the Russian party—this is clear, even from 3,000 kilometres away, for we who are in Paris (and who, it is true, know something about what is happening in Moscow). How can we talk about a faction when they list among the names of those whose opinions are more or less arbitrary classed among “the Opposition” those of Trotsky, Radek, Piatakov, Beloborodov [17], Preobrazhensky, Sapronov, Shliapnikov, Rosengoltz [18] and Rafail, whom Stalin has put in the same bag?

The most responsible critics, those who belong to the Central Committee, Trotsky, Radek and Piatakov, have otherwise voted for the resolution condemning factions:

Workers’ democracy signifies freedom of open discussion by all members of the party of the most important questions of party life, freedom of controversy about them, and also electiveness of the leading official individuals and collegia from below upwards. However, it does not at all suggest freedom of factional groupings, which are for a ruling party extremely dangerous, for they always threaten to divide or splinter the government and the state apparatus as a whole. [19]

Trotsky, in his articles reproduced here, is no less clear:

The party does not want factions, and will not tolerate them. It is monstrous to believe that it will shatter or permit anyone to shatter its apparatus. It knows that this apparatus is composed of the most valuable elements, who incarnate the greatest part of the experience of the past. But it wants to renew it and to remind it that it is its apparatus, that it is elected by it and that it must not detach itself from it.

And in another part:

Is it possible that there is no intermediate line between the regime of “calm” and that of crumbling into factions? No, there is one, and the whole task of the leadership consists, each time that it is necessary, and especially at turning points, in finding this line in a way that corresponds to the real situation of the moment. [20]

There are no factions in a Communist Party, and the Russian one is very much the Communist Party par excellence. No factions means that there should be no factions and that there are no factions, and no danger of a break-up or a rivalry for power.

*  *  *

Our attitude is therefore very simple: we defend the majority against the minority when the latter is mistaken or unreasonable, and we defend the minority against the majority when the latter is unjust. We are not for one tendency against the other, but for the whole party, such as it is. We would appreciate one or the other tendency better if they did not fire so blindly at each other in the heat of polemics.

All this is very natural. The Bolsheviks are not gods, and they have the right to disagree, like any other mortals. When they are in dispute it is inevitable that they are unfair to each other; it is inevitable that old memories of previous oppositions are awoken; it is normal that exaggerations appear. But for all that, must we French Communists forget that all these men who are at present in disagreement (and not for the first time) are the brave creators of the revolution? Do we have to support the grievances of one or the other, or ought we to try to clear them up? To ask the question is to answer it.

If it were a matter of understanding the situation in a party where an anti-Communist tendency might have appeared, our duty would be clear; we would take up a position along with the whole International against that tendency, just as we have always done. But no one will pretend that this is the case with the Russian party, which knows all too well how to rid itself of unassimilated elements. Also, can we do any better than evaluate all that belongs to the whole party, all the tendencies mixed up together?

That is what we have done. Comrade Rappoport blames us for not reproducing a particular article by Stalin. What advantage would it be for the French workers to read things like these (we are quoting the passages from it that have most stirred up the interest of the hostile press):

In the ranks of the opposition there are men like Beloborodov, whose “democracy” is still remembered by the workers in Rostov; Rosengoltz, whose “democracy” was a misery to our water-transport workers and railwaymen; Piatakov, whose “democracy” made the whole of the Donets basin not only cry out, but positively howl; Alsky [21], with the nature of whose “democracy” everybody is familiar; Byk [22], from whose “democracy” Khorezm is still groaning. Does Sapronov think that if the places of the “party pedants” are taken by the “esteemed comrades” enumerated above, democracy will triumph in the party? Permit me to have some doubts about that.

And further on:

As is evident from his letter, Trotsky includes himself among the Bolshevik old guard, thereby showing readiness to take upon himself the charges that may be hurled at the old guard if it does indeed take the path of degeneration. It must be admitted that this readiness for self-sacrifice is undoubtedly a noble trait. But I must protect Trotsky from Trotsky, because, for obvious reasons, he cannot, and should not, bear responsibility for the possible degeneration of the principal cadres of the Bolshevik old guard. Sacrifice is a good thing, of course, but do the old Bolsheviks need it? I think that they do not. [23]

These are exchanges of personal insults that are everywhere produced, but they are only understood in the Russian party (and then not always). Stalin surely did not write this for the French Communists. What good would it do to publish things that our comrades cannot understand, and which would require a volume to explain?

The duty of the French comrades is to study the Russian discussions in order to profit from them, and not to take sides in a dispute when they have so much to do at home. We are confident that the Bolshevik party will be able, yet again, to mark out and follow its own road, and that the foremost section of our International will give us welcome advice even more than before. If the future allows us a day when we, along with the whole International, will be able to render it a service like those that have so often been granted to us, we would dearly like to unite all the currents into one, because they are all are seeking the development of the revolution in a Communist and proletarian spirit, with the same aims, the same will, and the same devotion. We will be with the whole party in its efforts to overcome its temporary difficulties. But yet again, we are sure that it will overcome them, just as it was able to do in the past—by relying on itself alone.

Moreover, Lenin’s death has made us certain that the party will react unanimously with a feeling of indestructible solidarity and of absolute cohesion. If there is one idea that is common to all the Russian Communists without exception, it is very much that the founder of Bolshevism, of the Soviet republic, and of the Communist International, is irreplaceable, unless by the consolidation of all our intellects, of all our wills. The misfortune that has struck the Communist International lays down that duty for everybody. No-one must fail in it.


1. The Third Congress of the French Communist Party was held at Lyons during 20–23 January 1924. Lenin died on 21 January. (translator’s note)

2. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) was Germany’s foremost poet, novelist and playwright. His major drama, Faust, was completed in 1832. (translator’s note)

3. The New Economic Policy was ratified at the Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party in March 1921. It kept the control of heavy industry, transport and the monopoly of foreign trade in the hands of the state, but allowed free internal trade in agricultural products and allowed private ownership of light industry. The disagreements over the trade unions had begun at the end of the year before, and put Tomsky and Riazanov in opposition to the rest of the party. Cf. Al Richardson (ed.), In Defence of the Russian Revolution, London 1995, pp. 216–42. (translator’s note)

4. We pointed this out in L”HumanitÉ on our return from Moscow. (author’s note) This is a reference to the “Scissors Crisis”. (translator’s note)

5. Bulletin Communiste, no. 40. (author’s note) Zinoviev’s open attack upon the Opposition was published in Pravda, 21 December 1923. (translator’s note)

6. L.D. Trotsky, Theses on Industry, 20 April 1923, in Richardson, op. cit., pp. 195–208. (translator’s note)

7. The Twelfth Congress of the CPSU was held during 17–25 April 1923. (translator’s note)

8. Gosplan was the State Planning Commission, set up in 1921 under the presidency of Gleb Krzhizhanovsky. (translator’s note)

9. Preobrazhensky’s views at this time are to be found in The Economic Policy of the Proletariat in a Peasant Country, 1922, in E.A. Preobrazhensky, The Crisis of Soviet Industrialisation, London 1980, pp. 20–30. (translator’s note)

10. In October 1922, Sokolnikov, supported by Stalin and Bukharin, passed a resolution on the Central Committee against the state monopoly of foreign trade. The decision was overturned by an alliance of Lenin, Trotsky and Krasin. Alexander Gavrilovich Shliapnikov (1883–1937?), an old worker Bolshevik, was the Soviet government’s first Commissar for Labour. He played a prominent part in the Workers Opposition of 1921 and the Left Opposition of 1923. Cf. Alexandra Kollontai, The Workers Opposition, London 1968. (translator’s note)

11. The Democratic Centralists demanded a return to democracy in the party. Valerian Valerianovich Ossinsky (1887–1938) joined the Bolsheviks in 1907. Timofei V. Sapronov (1887–1939) later joined the United Opposition, and developed the theory that Russia was state capitalist. He was killed in prison. (translator’s note)

12. For the Left Communists, cf. above, p. 52 n12. I.N. Stukov (1887–1937) joined the Bolsheviks in 1905, and played an important part in the insurrection in Moscow during the revolution. He later supported the Democratic Centralists and Left Opposition, and played a heroic rôle until his death in prison. (translator’s note)

13. Radek expressed solidarity with the The Platform of the Forty-Six of 15 October 1923, but in a separate declaration; Trotsky did not sign it, but published The New Course separately, giving the impression that he had a different position. (translator’s note)

14. Resolution on Party Unity, Tenth Congress of the RCP(B), 8&ndash:16 March 1921, in Against Trotskyism, Moscow 1972, pp. 228–31. The Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party abolished factions in the party. Lenin, however, was at pains to point out that this was not intended to restrict political discussion. Cf. V.I. Lenin, Preliminary Draft Resolution of the Tenth Congress of the RCP on Party Unity, March 1921, Collected Works, Volume 32, Moscow 1965. (translator’s note)

15. When we wrote “opposition”, it is a question of the only opposition that had publicly appeared at that time, the trio of Preobrazhensky, Sapronov and Rafail, who were proposing an amendment to the Central Committee’s resolution. (author’s note)

16. Rafail Borisovich Farbman ( –1934), a member of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party, was a supporter of the Democratic Centralists and the Left Opposition. He was arrested and disappeared. (translator’s note)

17. Alexander Beloborodov (1891–1938) was a member of the Central Committee and a supporter of the Left Opposition. (translator’s note)

18. Arkadi Pavlovich Rosengoltz (1889–1938) was a close collaborator of Trotsky during the Russian Civil War. He was a defendant in the third Moscow Trial. (translator’s note)

19. Resolution of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission on Building the Party, Pravda, 7 December 1923. Cf. R.V. Daniels, The Conscience of the Revolution: Communist Opposition in Soviet Russia, Cambridge 1960, p. 222. (translator’s note)

20. L.D. Trotsky, Groups and Factional Formations, 22 December 1923 (part of The New Course), The Challenge of the Left Opposition, 1923–1925, New York 1975, pp. 80, 86. (translator’s note)

21. A.D. Alsky (1892–1939), an Old Bolshevik and a hero of the Civil War, was a supporter of the Left Opposition. He was deported to Siberia in 1928. (translator’s note)

22. Ivan Byk, a tannery worker who fought in the Ukraine in the Civil War, was a supporter of the Workers and Left Oppositions, and was exiled to Orenberg along with Victor Serge. (translator’s note)

23. J.V. Stalin, The Discussion, Rafail, The Articles by Preobrazhensky and Sapronov, and Trotsky’s Letter, Pravda, 15 December 1923, On the Opposition, Beijing 1975, pp. 39, 41. (translator’s note)

Last updated on 22 September 2019