The Time of NEP
TROTSKY TRIED TO SUCCEED LENIN AND FAILED BADLY
Immediately after Lenin’s death, Trotsky made his open bid for power. At the Party Congress in May 1924 Trotsky demanded that he, and not Stalin, be recognized as Lenin’s successor. Against the advice of his own allies, he forced the question to a vote. The 748 Bolshevik delegates at the Congress voted unanimously to maintain Stalin as general secretary, and in condemnation of Trotsky’s struggle for personal power. So obvious was the popular repudiation of Trotsky that even Bucharin, Zinoviev, and Kamenev were compelled to side publicly with the majority and vote against him. Trotsky furiously assailed them for “betraying” him. But a few months later Trotsky and Zinoviev again joined forces and formed a “New Opposition.”
An actual secret Trotskyite army was in process of formation on Soviet soil.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 199
Trotsky was in the Politburo, but in fact everyone had united around Stalin, including the right-wing–Bukharin and Rykov. We called ourselves “the majority” against Trotsky. He surely sensed, of course, this collusion against him. He had his supporters and we had ours. But he did not have many in the Politburo or in the Central Committee, only two or three. There was Shliapnikov from the Workers Opposition and Krestinsky from the Democratic Centralists.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 143
…The official history of the Communist Party suggests that Trotsky was emboldened by Lenin’s illness to make a deliberate bid for power as Lenin’s successor. This may be an exaggeration, although Trotsky must have known that Lenin was doomed, but it is significant that he mobilized a powerful group of critics to sign a document called the “Declaration of the Forty-six.” The declaration was a blow to the Central Committee, but Trotsky was rash enough to pursue his advantage by a letter which not only carried the attack further but established himself as leader of what was described by the Central Committee as an Opposition bloc. The word “opposition” or “factionalism” produced a reaction. The Central Committee retorted fiercely that Trotsky was not a Bolshevik at heart and never had been, that he and his “Forty-six” were voicing Menshevik heresies as they had done before, and that most of them had already been castigated by Lenin for subversive or mistaken ideas.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 105
ZINOVIEV AND LENIN PROPOSE STALIN FOR GENERAL SEC.
He [Zinoviev] accordingly proposed Stalin for the post of General Secretary of the Central Committee of the party. Lenin agreed, and Stalin was appointed.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 91
Indeed, it had been Zinoviev who, after the Civil War, had proposed Stalin as General Secretary of the party.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 144
On Lenin’s motion, the Plenum of the Central Committee, on April 3, 1922, elected Stalin, Lenin’s faithful disciple and associate, General Secretary of the Central Committee, a post at which he has remained ever since.
Alexandrov, G. F. Joseph Stalin; a Short Biography. Moscow: FLPH, 1947, p. 74
But Lenin, after all, at the 10th Congress had prohibited factionalism.
And we voted with that note on Stalin in brackets. He became general secretary…. Lenin…made Stalin general secretary. Lenin was, of course, making preparations, for he sensed his ill health. Did he perhaps see in Stalin his successor? I think one can allow for that.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 105
CHUEV: At the office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, I was told that Lenin did not nominate Stalin to the post of general secretary. Rather, Kamenev did, and Lenin approved it….
MOLOTOV: Well, well. I know for sure that Lenin nominated him.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 166
In this connection it is interesting to note that the Congress ratified Lenin’s appointment a few weeks earlier of Stalin as General Secretary of the Party. This was a key position of authority and influence, and it is most significant that Lenin awarded it to Stalin, leader of the “underground” laborers in Russia’s vineyards during the pre-war period of repression, rather than to the more spectacular Trotsky or any of the Marxian purists among the “Western” exiles.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 70
When in 1923 I learned that Lenin could not long survive and began to wonder about his successor, I remembered a conversation in my office in Moscow two years before. A Russian friend had said to me, “Stalin has been appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party.”
“What does that mean?” I replied.
“It means,” said the Russian impressively, “that he now becomes next to Lenin, because Lenin has given into his hands the manipulation of the Communist Party, which is the most important thing in Russia.”
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 165
On April 3, 1922, the plenum elected Stalin general secretary….
A Biographical Chronicle of Lenin’s life and work, published in recent years, gives the following account of April 3, 1922, based on materials from Party archives.
“…The plenum makes the decision to establish the position of general secretary with two Central Committee secretaries. Stalin is assigned to be general secretary; Molotov and Kuibyshev are the secretaries.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 67-68
[Footnote]: Trotsky and Medvedev attempt to absolve Lenin of responsibility for Stalin’s appointment as General Secretary, but there is persuasive evidence that Lenin had entrusted Stalin with party affairs during Lenin’s leave of absence and that he proposed him as General Secretary.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 344
STALIN DID NOT PACK PARTY WITH HIS SUPPORTERS
It has often been stated, especially by Stalin’s opponents, that he busied himself at this time giving posts to his supporters throughout the party organization. This, of course, was not so. Stalin had spent most of the early years of the revolution at the fronts, and as yet had never come forward as a leader in any ideological current within Bolshevism: where could he have found all these personal supporters?….
Certainly no such army of supporters of Stalin had existed. On the other hand, he was the creator of the bureaucratic machinery of the party, and on the whole the members of the bureaucracy were loyal to its creator and controller. Only on the whole, for the later conflicts showed that very many of the party officials whose names he had put forward were opponents of his.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 95-96
…As General Secretary of the Party Central Committee, he [Stalin] held a strategically dominating position in matters of organization; and his opponents, especially the Trotskyists, charge that he used to the fullest extent the opportunities which this post afforded of packing the provincial and city Party committees with his own partisans. The Stalinites retort that these are slanderous accusations, put into circulation by disgruntled people who failed to capture control of the Party for their own ends. They point to the unanimous votes registered at Party Conferences and Congresses as proof that Stalin’s policies command the approbation of the solid masses of the Party members.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 91
ZINOVIEV BACKED UP STALIN FOR GEN. SEC.
The most powerful man in the party was then Zinoviev, and he was in favor of Stalin; it was he who had proposed him for the party secretaryship. So Stalin remained secretary.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 109
Perhaps they signified their real thoughts when they unanimously confirmed the election to the important post of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, of Joseph Stalin, friend and close confidant of the absent president.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 59
When, at the April 1922 Plenum of the Central Committee, Kamenev proposed acceptance of Zinoviev’s idea of making Stalin general secretary of the Central Committee, Lenin–although he knew Stalin all too well–had no objection.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 27
MEMBERS VOTED FOR STALIN BECAUSE THEY WANT HIM, NOT OUT OF FEAR
RUDZUTAK: Comrades, can one utter a greater slander against the members of the Central Committee, against the Old Bolsheviks, the majority of whom served years at hard labor? These, the finest people of the party, did not fear many years in prison and in exile, and now these revolutionaries, who devoted themselves to the victory of the revolution, these old revolutionary warriors, according to Smirnov, are afraid to vote against Comrade Stalin. Can be that they vote for Stalin from a fear for authority while, behind his back, they prepare–if anything comes up–to change the leadership? You are slandering the members of the party, you’re slandering the members of the Central Committee, and you are also slandering Comrade Stalin. We, as members of the Central Committee, vote for Stalin because he is ours….”
RUDZUTAK: “You won’t find a single instance where Stalin was not in the front rank during periods of the most active, most fierce battle for socialism and against the class enemy. You won’t find a single instance where Comrade Stalin has hesitated or retreated. That is why we are with him. Yes, he vigorously chops off that which is rotten, he chops off that which is slated for destruction. If he didn’t do this, he would not be a Leninist. He would not be a Communist fighter. In this lies his chief and finest and fundamental merit and quality as a leader-fighter who leads our party.”
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 93
PREOBRAZHENSKY WANTS STALIN DISMISSED AS GEN. SEC. BECAUSE HE HAS TOO MANY JOBS
Preobrazhensky was later among the opposition, a Trotskyist. He proposed that Stalin be dismissed from the position of general secretary on the grounds that he held too many offices. At the time Lenin strongly defended Stalin….”
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 113
At the Eighth Congress Stalin was re-elected to the Central Committee. Although the Central Committee was not very large then, a decision was made to establish a smaller direct body within it–a Political Bureau (Politburo), which would decide important political issues on a day-to-day basis. The first Politburo consisted of Lenin, Kamenev, Krestinsky, Stalin, and Trotsky. The candidate members were Bukharin, Kalinin, and Zinoviev. An Organizational Bureau (Orgburo) was also established for the first time to direct the ongoing organizational work of the party. It consisted of five members: Beloborodov, Krestinsky, Serebryakov, Stalin, and Stasova. A few days later a decree of the Central Executive Committee appointed Stalin peoples commissar of state control.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 59
At the 11th Party Congress Preobrazhensky proposed that Stalin’s powers be somewhat curtailed. He said in his speech:
“Take Comrade Stalin, for example, a member of the Politburo who is, at the same time, peoples commissar of two commissariats. Is it conceivable that a person could be responsible for the work of two commissariats, and in addition work in the Politburo, the Orgburo, and a dozen Central Committee subcommissions?”
Lenin answered Preobrazhensky as follows:
“Preobrazhensky comes along and airily says that Stalin is involved in two different commissariats. Who among us has not sinned in this way? Which of us has not taken on several responsibilities at once? And how could we do otherwise? What can we do now to maintain the existing situation in the Commissariat of Nationalities, in order to sort out all the Turkestan, Caucasian, and other questions? After all, these are political questions! And these questions have to be answered. They are questions such as European states have occupied themselves with for hundreds of years, and only an insignificant portion of such problems have been solved in the democratic republics. We are working to resolve them and we need a man to whom representatives of any of our different nations can go and discuss their difficulties in full detail. Where are we to find such a person? I think that even Preobrazhensky would be unable to name another candidate besides Comrade Stalin.
The same thing applies to the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection. This is a vast business; but to be able to handle investigations we must have someone in charge who has authority. Otherwise we’ll get bogged down in petty intrigues.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 66
At the end of March 1919 Yelena Stasova was elected as chief secretary for the Central Committee. She encountered difficulties, and in November of the same year a Central Committee plenum elected Krestinsky to be second secretary of the Central Committee. In April 1920 a Secretariat consisting of three people–Krestinsky, Preobrazhensky, and Serebryakov–was elected. The leading figure in the Secretariat became Krestinsky, who also belonged to the Orgburo & Politburo. However, during the “trade union discussion,” all the Central Committee secretaries supported Trotsky’s or Bukharin’s platform and none of them were re-elected at the Central Committee plenum following the Tenth Party Congress. Instead Molotov, Yaroslavski, and Mikhailov were elected to the Secretariat. They were all members of the Orgburo as well.
Lenin, however, was displeased with the work of these party centers, accusing them of inadmissible red tape, delay, and bureaucratism. It was assumed, therefore, that the election of Stalin, whose organizational abilities and abrupt manner were well known in party circles, would bring order into the working bodies of the Central Committee.
The situation changed as Lenin’s illness grew worse, removing him more and more often from the administration of the country and direction of the party. Stalin was not only general secretary; he belonged to the Orgburo, the Politburo, and the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee, as well as heading two commissariats. Stalin had become a key figure in the party apparatus.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 69
On May 8, 18-23, 1919 he [Stalin] attended the 8th Congress of the party was elected to the two new bodies–the Politburo (henceforth the central organ of power) and the Orgburo, which at this time was supposed to be a subcommittee of the Central Committee concerned with party organization. When it was suggested (at the 11th Party Congress in 1922) that no one could carry out all Stalin’s party responsibilities and at the same time administer two People’s Commissariats, Lenin replied that no one could name another suitable candidate for the high political responsibilities of the Nationalities Commissariat ‘other than Comrade Stalin’ and, ‘the same applied to the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate. A gigantic job…you have to have at the head of it a man with authority.’ This shows how Lenin now judged Stalin, and the extent to which the latter’s reputation had grown, regardless of particular errors and insubordinations.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 91
When at the Eleventh Party Congress Preobrazhensky listed all of Stalin’s duties and questioned whether it was possible for one man to handle this vast amount of work on the Politburo, the Orgburo, two commissariats, and a dozen subcommittees of the Central Committee, Lenin immediately spoke up in Stalin’s defense, calling him irreplaceable as commissar of nationalities and adding: “The same thing applies to the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate. This is a vast business; but to be able to handle investigations we must have at the head of it a man who enjoys high prestige.”…
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 162
At the 11th Congress in 1922 one prominent Bolshevik, Preobrazhensky, would note with astonishment the vast authority which Lenin had concentrated in Koba’s hands. “Take Stalin, for instance…. Is it conceivable that one man can take responsibility for the work of two commissariats, while simultaneously working in the Politburo, the Orgbureau, and a dozen commissions?” But Lenin would not surrender his favorite: “We need a man whom any representative of any national group can approach, a man to whom he can speak in detail. Where can we find such a man? I don’t think Comrade Preobrazhensky could name
any candidate other than Comrade Stalin….
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 163
The conventional image of Stalin’s ascent to supreme power does not convince. He did not really spend most of his time in offices in the Civil War period and consolidate his position as the pre-eminent bureaucrat of the Soviet state. Certainly he held membership in the Party Central Committee; he was also People’s Commissar for Nationalities’ Affairs. In neither role were his responsibilities restricted to mere administration. As the complications of public affairs increased, he was given further high postings. He chaired the commission drafting the RSFSR Constitution. He became the leading political commissar on a succession of military fronts in 1918-19. He was regularly involved in decisions on relations with Britain, Germany, Turkey, and other powers; and he dealt with plans for the establishment of new Soviet republics in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. He conducted the inquiry into the Red Army’s collapse at Perm. When the Party Central Committee set up its own inner subcommittees in 1919, he was chosen for both the Political Bureau (Politburo) and the Organizational Bureau (or Orgburo). He was asked to head the Workers’ and Peasants’ inspectorate at its creation in February 1920.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 173
LENIN WAS CLOSE TO STALIN AND MADE HIM HIGHER THAN BUKHARIN
Lenin’s relations with Stalin were close, but they were mainly businesslike. He elevated Stalin far higher than Bukharin! And he didn’t simply elevate him but made him his mainstay in the Central Committee. He trusted him.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 116
To this day I recall the first party congress in Petrograd in April, after the February Revolution, when Rykov expressed his rightist sentiments. Kamenev, too, showed this true colors. Zinoviev was still considered to be close to Lenin. Before the elections of members to the Central Committee, Lenin spoke for Stalin’s candidacy. He said Stalin had to be in the Central Committee without fail. He spoke up for Stalin in particular, saying he was such a fine party member, such a commanding figure, and you could assign him any task. He was the most trustworthy in adhering to the party line. That’s the sort of speech it was.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 137
STALIN MOST QUALIFIED SUCCESSOR TO LENIN
Stalin had reasons for thinking himself Lenin’s most loyal disciple and natural heir, in spite of that “testament.” He had been a Bolshevik 20 years, a member of Lenin’s central committees for 10 years, and had served directly under Lenin for six stormy years of revolution. He could easily consider that last conflict as a misunderstanding due to Lenin’s illness, which could have been cleared up if Lenin had recovered. All the other leaders had had worse clashes. Trotsky had opposed Lenin for years and only joined him at the moment of revolution. Zinoviev and Kamenev had been traitors in the very hour of the uprising, opposing it and giving its details in an opposition newspaper. Lenin had forgiven them all. Compared with their sins against Lenin, Stalin’s may well have seemed to him trivial.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 18
Stalin, whose personality is without any Napoleonic trait, was nevertheless the man who closed the revolutionary epoch and directed the rebuilding of the country. His enemies accuse him of having betrayed the revolution, which is definitely unjust.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 49
…Stalin achieved colossal results [at the 14th Party Congress]. If not for him, the cadres would not have pulled together. The Bolshevik cadres would not simply obey orders at the wave of a wand. They had to be convinced. The same applied to the old Bolsheviks. Habitually they deferred to no authority or command. They regarded themselves as the equal of an ideological leader…. In 1924 discussion against Trotsky was proceeding full tilt.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 135
Stalin used to say that if Lenin were alive today, surely he would speak differently–there is no doubt about that. He would surely think up something that has not yet occurred to us. But the fact that Stalin was his successor was very fortunate. Very fortunate indeed.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 155
After Lenin, Stalin was the strongest politician. Lenin considered him the most reliable, the one whom you could count upon.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 156
You can’t compare me with him [Stalin]. After Lenin, no one person, not me, or Kalinin, or Dzerzhinsky, or anyone else could manage to do even a tenth of what Stalin accomplished. That’s a fact. I criticize Stalin on certain questions of a quite significant theoretical character, but as a political leader he fulfilled a role which no one else could undertake.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 181
Stalin! The more they assail him, the higher he rises. A struggle is going on. They fail to see the greatness in Stalin. After Lenin there was no more persevering, more talented, greater man than Stalin! After the death of Lenin, no one understood the situation better than Stalin…. Stalin fulfilled his role, an exceptionally important, very difficult role.
Let us assume he made mistakes. But name someone who made fewer mistakes. Of all the people involved in historic events, who held the most correct position? Given all the shortcomings of the leadership of that time, he alone coped with the task then confronting the country….
Despite Stalin’s mistakes, I see in him a great, an indispensable man! In his time there was no equal!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 183
However, if we wish to determine what Stalin really meant in the history of Communism, then he must for the present be regarded as being, next to Lenin, the most grandiose figure. He did not substantially develop the ideas of Communism, but he championed them and brought them to realization in a society and a state. He did not construct an ideal society…but he transformed backward Russia into an industrial power….
Viewed from the standpoint of success and political adroitness, Stalin is hardly surpassed by any statesman of his time.
Djilas, Milovan. Conversations with Stalin. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962, p. 190
Stalin–“rude,”–sometimes bureaucratic and limited as a Marxist theorist–had a realistic plan for the construction of socialism, and he approached the task with determination, courage, and skill. For all his faults he was the best of the Party leaders available. And this was the opinion of the majority of the Party. Stalin’s report and reply to the discussion at the Thirteenth Congress in 1924 show that he had the Party’s confidence.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 52
Certainly before 1921 he showed no pretension to the leadership, and was content to serve. He was proud, sensitive, but not personally ambitious. After removal of Lenin he, like many others, must have wondered about the future of the party. Of the most prominent members Trotsky, towards whom he felt strong antipathy, would endanger unity and the others were not remotely of his caliber. Thus it would seem that during 1922 or 1923 Stalin began to consider seriously that in the interests of the party and communist Russia he would have to take over the leadership, and once having reached this decision he pursued his goal quietly and implacably.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 194
He [Stalin] cast himself in the role of leader because none of the other party leaders was remotely capable of assuming it, and because he had developed a burning sense of his mission to lead Russia.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 222
At every stage of his career he had grown in stature, showing the confidence and ability to meet greater challenges. He possessed a natural authority, an inner strength and courage. He was not overwhelmed by the responsibilities that now lay upon him as sole ruler over a nation of 200 million people, and at a time when its survival was threatened. He did not play safe, evading dangers which might lead to destruction; on the contrary, although cautious by nature, he pursued his objectives with an implacable single-mindedness, undeterred by risk….
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 235
My father said that an attentive reading of Lenin’s “Political Testament” shows that he saw nobody but Stalin as fit to succeed him.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 136
Stalin did not rise to supreme power exclusively by means of the levers of bureaucratic manipulation. Certainly he had an advantage inasmuch as he could replace local party secretaries with persons of his choosing. It is also true that the regime in the party allowed him to control debates in the Central Committee and at Party Congresses. But such assets would have been useless to him if he had not been able to convince the Central Committee and the Party Congress that he was a suitable politician for them to follow. Not only as an administrator but also as a leader,in thought and action,he seemed to fit these requirements better than anyone else.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 246
STALIN WORKED HIS WAY TO THE TOP BY EARNING IT
CHUEV: And how did Stalin rise so high?
MOLOTOV: Thank God. It was the whole story of his life, the Revolution, the Civil War…. Of course, he deserved it….
How did he work his way up? Look, he wrote a very good book on the national question…. He edited the first issue of Pravda.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 165
Stalin will be rehabilitated, needless to say.
Stalin had an astounding capacity for work…. I know this for a fact.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 179
Stalin’s usual routine is to work hard for about a week or longer, then go to the dacha for two or three days to rest. He has few relaxations, but he likes opera and ballet, and attends the Bolshoi Theatre often; sometimes a movie catches his fancy, and he saw Chapayev, a film of the civil wars, four times. He reads a great deal, and plays chess occasionally. He smokes incessantly, and always a pipe; the gossip in Moscow is that he likes Edgeworth tobacco, but is a little hesitant to smoke publicly this non-Soviet product. At dinner he keeps his pipe lit next to his plate, puffs between courses….
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 532
STALIN WAS THE BEST MAN TO REPLACE LENIN
CHUEV: They say that Stalin replaced the Central Committee with a bureaucratic apparatus, and that after Lenin’s death he won power with the help of this apparatus.
MOLOTOV: But who could have led better?
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 166
Whoever will read this book, will think that I am a die-hard Stalinist. I do not absolve Stalin of everything, but I know his character and I also know the circumstances and the bunch of opportunists that were surrounding him in the Politburo. History now has shown us the conditions under which Stalin had to work, think, and lead our country then, during the hectic events, enemies internally and externally doing everything possible to steer the country away from the socialist path…. Could Stalin have known everything that was going on inside the country?
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 107
LENIN CHOSE STALIN TO LEAD THE BATTLE AGAINST FACTIONS
…Under Lenin there were so many disagreements, so many opposition groups of every conceivable stripe. Lenin regarded this as very dangerous and demanded resolute struggle against it. But he could not take the lead in the struggle against the opposition or against disagreements. Someone had to remain untainted by all repression. So Stalin took the lead, assuming the burden of responsibility in surmounting the vast majority of these difficulties. In my opinion he generally coped with this responsibility correctly. All of us supported him in this. I was one of his chief supporters. I have no regrets over it.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 259
STALIN WAS NOT GRASPING FOR POWER BUT WAS GIVEN IT BY LENIN
Although it a usually assumed that Stalin was covertly grasping at positions of power and influence, the fact is that he was promoted mainly on the initiative of Lenin. Once appointed to his various offices he was prompt to exercise the authority necessary to carry out the work.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 162
It was at Lenin’s suggestion that Stalin was named commissar of nationalities and commissar of state control, and later commissar of the Workers’ and Peasants Inspection (or Rabkrin, to use the Soviet acronym).
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 63
Stalin, in truth, did not look to be a formidable competitor for power. He had no gift of speech as Trotsky had. He was not an imposing figure. He wore an old khaki tunic with a button missing. He never went to the cleaners. His black hair was uncouth; his thick mustache dropped. He did not have his own automobile as Trotsky had. He was still smart at raiding banks and confiscating money for the Party, but money did not find its way into his pocket. He never showed off in any way. His face was a mask; it looked stupid and narrow-minded but benevolent.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 42
After the conquest of power, Stalin began to feel more sure of himself, remaining, however, a figure of the second rank. I soon noticed that Lenin was “advancing” Stalin, valuing in him his firmness, grit, stubbornness, and to a certain extent his slyness, as attributes necessary in the struggle.
Trotsky , Leon , Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 243
LENIN PROPOSED THAT STALIN BE TRANSFERRED FROM GEN. SEC. NOT REMOVED
Lenin proposed in his letter that Stalin be removed from his post as general secretary but did not question the possibility and necessity of keeping Stalin in the leadership. That is why the word “transfer” was used, rather than “remove”. Lenin did not propose any specific person to replace Stalin as general secretary.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 82
TROTSKY REFUSES TO TAKE A LEADING ROLE WHILE LENIN IS INCAPACITATED
The 12th Party Congress was to be held at the end of April 1923. Lenin was recovering with difficulty from the effects of his third stroke, and it was obvious that he would not be able to take part in the work of the congress. The question arose as to who would give the report in the name of the Central Committee. The most authoritative figure in the Central Committee was still Trotsky. Therefore, it was completely natural that at a meeting of the Politburo Stalin proposed that Trotsky prepare the report. Stalin was supported by Kalinin, Rykov, and even Kamenev. But Trotsky again declined, falling into confused rationalizations to the effect that “the party will be ill at ease if any one of us should attempt, as it were personally, to take the place of the sick Lenin.” Trotsky proposed instead that the Congress proceed without a main political report. This was an absurd proposal, and was, of course, voted down. At one of the next meetings of the Politburo a decision was made– to assign Zinoviev, who had just returned from vacation, to prepare the political report….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 113
If Trotsky was so sure that he was Lenin’s desired successor; if Trotsky saw that Lenin was not simply ill but paralyzed and unable to speak and write; if Trotsky also saw that Zinoviev and Stalin aspired to Lenin’s place in the party and considered this dangerous to the party; then it is quite impossible to consider his conduct in March and April 1923 correct for a political person.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 115
In the struggle within the Politburo in the spring of 1923 (a struggle imperceptible to the outside observer) Trotsky displayed complete passivity and in so doing condemned himself to defeat.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 116
And when the last crisis came, when Lenin fell sick and was compelled to withdrawal from the Government, he turned again to Trotsky and asked him to take his place as President of the Soviet of People’s Commissars and of the Council of Labor and Defense. And, moreover, when Trotsky declined, Lenin did not turn to any other strong man; he passed over the heads of those who might conceivably imagine themselves to be rivals of Trotsky, and divided the position among three men who are obviously not leaders [Rykov, Tzuryupov, and Kamenev].
Eastman, Max. Since Lenin Died. Westport, Connecticutt: Hyperion Press. 1973, p. 16
The next Party Congress,the 12th,was scheduled for April 1923. The Politburo aimed to show that the regime could function effectively in Lenin’s absence. Trotsky was offered the honor of delivering the political report on behalf of the Central Committee, but refused.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 212
[Nevertheless Zinoviev was foolhardy enough to insist on taking Lenin’s place at the Twelfth Congress and assumed the role of Lenin’s successor by delivering the Political Report at its opening session. During the preparations for the Congress, with Lenin ill and unable to attend,] the most ticklish question was who should deliver this keynote address, which since the founding of the Party had always been Lenin’s prerogative. When the subject was broached in the Politburo, Stalin was the first to say, “The Political Report will of course be made by Comrade Trotsky.”
I did not want that, since it seemed to me equivalent to announcing my candidacy for the role of Lenin’s successor at a time when Lenin was fighting a grave illness. I replied approximately as follows: “This is an interim. Let us hope that Lenin will soon get well. In the meantime the report should be made, in keeping with his office, by the General Secretary….
I continued to insist on Stalin making the report.
“Under no circumstances,” he replied with demonstrative modesty. “The Party will not understand it. The report must be made by the most popular member of the Central Committee.
Trotsky , Leon , Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 366
STALIN EFFECTIVELY ROSE IN THE PARTY
In six years (from 1923 to 1929) Stalin outmaneuvered a series of opponents; first, in alliance with all the rest of his colleagues, he opposed and demoted Trotsky. Then, in alliance with the Bukharin-Rykov ‘Right’ he defeated the Zinoviev-Kamenev ‘Left’ bloc, and then a new alliance between these and the Trotskyites. And finally he and his own following attacked their heretofore allies, the ‘Rightists’.
Bukharin was later to criticize Stalin as a master of ‘dosing’–of getting his way in gradual doses. That this was supposed to be a damaging point is a measure of Bukharin’s (and others’) comparative incompetence.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 131
TROTSKY REFUSES TO TAKE LEADING POSITIONS OFFERED BY LENIN AND STALIN
On Sept. 11, 1922, Lenin addressed to Stalin a note for the Politburo in which he suggested that in view of Rykov’s imminent departure for a vacation and Tsiurupa’s inability to handle the whole load by himself, two new deputy chairman be appointed, one to help oversee the Council of People’s Commissars, the other, the Council of Labor and Defense: both were to work under close supervision of the Politburo and himself. For the posts he suggested Trotsky and Kamenev. A great deal has been made by Trotsky’s friends and enemies alike of this bid: some of the former went so far as to claim that Lenin chose him as his successor. (Max Eastman, for example, wrote not long afterward that Lenin had asked Trotsky to “become the head of the Soviet government, and thus of the revolutionary movement of the world.”) The reality was more prosaic. According to Lenin’s sister, the offer was made for “diplomatic reasons,” that is, to smooth Trotsky’s ruffled feathers; in fact, it was because it was so insignificant that Trotsky would have none of it. When the Politburo voted on Lenin’s motion, Stalin and Rykov wrote down “Yes,” Kamenev and Tomsky abstained, Kalinin stated “No objections,” while Trotsky wrote “Categorically refuse.” Trotsky explained to Stalin why he could not accept the offer. He had previously criticized the institution of zamy on grounds of substance. Now he raised additional objections on grounds of procedure: the offer had not been discussed either at the Politburo or at the Plenum, and, in any event, he was about to leave on a four-week vacation. But his true reason very likely was the demeaning nature of the proposal: he was to be one of four deputies–one of them not even a Politburo member–without clearly defined responsibilities: a meaningless “deputy as such.” Acceptance would have humiliated him; refusal, however, handed his enemies deadly ammunition. For it was quite unprecedented for a high Soviet official “categorically” to refuse an assignment.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 466
As reward for Trotsky’s collaboration, Stalin in January 1923 once again offered him the post of a zam in charge of either the VSNKh or the Gosplan. Trotsky again refused.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 470
On his [Trotsky] new platform he acquired some support, especially from the so-called “Group of Forty-Six,” members who shared his views and sent a letter to this effect to the Central Committee. The directing organs of the party, however, had a ready answer: the letter constituted a “platform” that could lead to the creation of an illegal faction. In a lengthy rebuttal, it took Trotsky to task [by stating],
“Two or three years ago, when Comrade Trotsky began his “economic” pronouncements against the majority of the Central Committee, Lenin himself explained to him dozens of times that economic questions belong to a category that precludes quick successes, that requires years and years of patient and persistent work to achieve serious results…. To secure correct leadership of the country’s economic life from a single center and to introduce into it the maximum of planning, the Central Committee in the summer of 1923 reorganized the Council of Labor and Defense, introducing into it personally a number of the leading economic workers of the republic. In that number, the Central Committee elected also Comrade Trotsky. But Comrade Trotsky did not consider making an appearance at meetings of the Council of Labor and Defense, just as for many years he had failed to attend meetings of the Sovnarkom and rejected the proposal of Comrade Lenin to be one of the deputies of the Sovnarkom Chairman…. At the basis of Comrade Trotsky’s discontent, of his whole irritation, of all his assaults over the years against the Central Committee, of his decision to rock the party, lies the circumstance that Comrade Trotsky wants the Central Committee to have him and Comrade Kolegaev take charge of our economic life. Comrade Lenin had long fought against such an appointment, and we believe he was entirely correct…. Comrade Trotsky is a member of the Sovnarkom and of the reorganized Council of Labor and Defense. He has been offered by Comrade Lenin the post of deputy of Sovnarkom chairman. Had he wanted, in all these positions Comrade Trotsky could have demonstrated to the entire party in fact, indeed, that he can be entrusted with that de facto unlimited authority in the field of economic and military affairs for which he strives. But Comrade Trotsky preferred a different method of action, one which, in our opinion, is incompatible with the duties of a party member. He has attended not a single meeting of the Sovnarkom either under Comrade Lenin or after Comrade Lenin’s retirement from work. He has attended not a single meeting of the Council of Labor and Defense, whether old or reorganized. He has not moved once either in the Sovnarkom, or in the Council of Labor and Defense, or in the Gosplan any proposals concerning economic, financial, budgetary, and so forth, questions. He has categorically refused to be Comrade Lenin’s deputy: this he apparently considers below his dignity. He acts according to the formula “All or Nothing.” In fact, Comrade Trotsky has assumed toward the party the attitude that it either must grant him dictatorial powers in the economic and military spheres, or else he will, in effect, refuse to work in the economic realm, reserving himself only the right to engage in systematic disorganization of the Central Committee in its difficult day-to-day work.”
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 484
After the seizure of power, I tried to stay out of the government, and offered to undertake the direction of the press.
…One thing coincided with the other, and this only added to my desire to retire behind the scenes for a while. Lenin would not hear of it, however. He insisted that I take over the commissariat of the interior, saying that the most important task at the moment was to fight off a counter-revolution. I objected, and brought up, among other arguments, the question of nationality. Was it worthwhile to put into our enemies hands such an additional weapon as my Jewish origin?
Lenin almost lost his temper. “We are having a great international revolution. Of what importance are such trifles?”
If, in 1917 and later, I occasionally pointed to my Jewish origin as an argument against some appointment, it was simply because of political considerations.
… I, likewise with reluctance, consented. And thus, at the instigation of Sverdlov, I came to head the Soviet diplomacy for a quarter of a year.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 340-341
When I was declining the commissariat of home affairs on the second day after the revolution, I brought up, among other things, the question of race [Jewish].
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 360
Stalin suggested that Trotsky should present the main report at the 12th Congress but Trotsky sensibly refused, rightly believing that this would be taken as an assumption of Lenin’s mantle.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 106
There was, however, no intrigue to get the post [General Secretary of the CPSU]. Trotsky did not want it.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 78
Later all on, judging from some accidental and quite erroneous indications, he [Lenin] concluded I was being too dilatory in the matter of an armed uprising, and this suspicion was reflected in several of his letters during October…. The next day, at the meeting of the Central Committee of the party, he proposed that I be elected chairman of the Soviet of People’s Commissaries. I sprang to my feet, protesting–the proposal seemed to me so unexpected and inappropriate. “Why not?” Lenin insisted. “You were at the head of the Petrograd Soviet that seized the power.” I moved to reject his proposal, without debating it. The motion was carried.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 339
I felt the mechanics of power as an inescapable burden, rather than as a spiritual satisfaction.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 582
[In the reply of the Politburo to Trotsky’s letter of October 1923 to the Central Committee is the following:]
“Trotsky is a member of the Soviet of People’s Commissars, a member of the Soviet of Labor and Defense; Lenin offered him the post of vice-president of the Soviet of People’s Commissars. In all these positions Trotsky might, if he wished to, demonstrate in action, working before the eyes of the whole party, that the party might trust him with those practically unlimited powers in the sphere of industry and military affairs towards which he strives. But Trotsky preferred another method of action…. He never attended a meeting of the Soviet of People’s Commissars, neither under Lenin, nor after his withdrawal. He never attended a meeting of the Soviet of Labor and Defense, neither before nor after its reorganization….
Trotsky categorically declined the position of substitute for Lenin. That evidently he considers beneath his dignity. He conducts himself according to the formula, ‘All or nothing.’”
Eastman, Max. Since Lenin Died. Westport, Connecticutt: Hyperion Press. 1973, p. 144-145
Stalin was perfectly well aware that relations between Lenin and Trotsky had recently become increasingly close. He had not been much concerned about this during 1922, for the two leaders, while never in conflict on points of principle [That is false–Ed], had perpetually engaged in skirmishes on current questions. This did not prevent Lenin from suggesting to Trotsky that he should become his deputy, but Trotsky had refused, and on this occasion Stalin had succeeded, not without a certain malicious satisfaction, in getting the Politburo to censure Trotsky for failure of duty.
Lewin, Moshe. Lenin’s Last Struggle. New York: Pantheon Books. C1968, p. 71
When Trotsky heard that, despite the considerable administrative load he was already bearing, the Politburo wanted to put him in charge of the state treasury under the Finance Commissariat, he refused, sending a written explanation. Lenin reacted with a note to the Politburo: “Trotsky’s letter is unclear. If he is refusing, a decision of the Politburo is required. I am for not accepting his resignation.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 257
Throughout the summer of 1922 the disagreements in the Politburo over domestic issues dragged on inconclusively. The dissension between Lenin and Trotsky persisted. On 11 September from his retreat in Gorky, outside Moscow, Lenin made contact with Stalin and asked him to place before the Politburo once again and with the utmost urgency a motion proposing Trotsky’s appointment as deputy Premier. Stalin communicated the motion by telephone to those members and alternate members of the Politburo who were present in Moscow. He himself and Rykov voted for the appointment; Kalinin declared that he had no objections, while Tomsky and Kamenev abstained. No one voted against. Trotsky once again refused the post. Since Lenin had insisted that the appointment was urgent because Rykov was about to take leave, Trotsky replied that he, too, was on the point of taking his holiday and that his hands were, anyhow, full of work for the forthcoming congress of the International. These were irrelevant excuses, because Lenin had not intended the appointment to be only a stopgap for the holiday season. Without waiting for the Politburo’s decision, Trotsky left Moscow. On 14 September the Politburo met and Stalin put before it a resolution which was highly damaging to Trotsky; it censured him in effect for dereliction of duty. The circumstances of the case indicate that Lenin must have prompted Stalin to frame this resolution or that Stalin at least had his consent for it.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 65
Now as before the economic administration bungled and muddled. Nothing had been done to make Gosplan the guiding center of the economy. The Politburo set up a number of committees to investigate symptoms of the crisis instead of going to its root. Trotsky himself had been invited to serve on a committee which was to inquire into prices; but he refused to do so. He had no wish, he declared, to participate in an activity designed to dodge issues and to postpone decisions.
…Other collisions developed when the triumvirs proposed changes in the Military Revolutionary Council over which Trotsky presided. Zinoviev was bent on introducing into that Council either Stalin himself or at least Voroshilov and Lashevich…. Trotsky, hurt and indignant, declared that he was resigning in protest from every office he held, the Commissariat of War, the Military Revolutionary Council, the Politburo, and the Central Committee. He asked to be sent abroad “as a soldier of the revolution” to help the German Communist party to prepare its revolution.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 111
In the summer of 1922, when he [Trotsky] refused to accept the office of Vice-Premiere under Lenin and, incurring the Politburo’s censure, went on leave, he devoted the better part of his holiday to literary criticism.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 164
Still defeated the Left Opposition, not just because his policies proved to be more attractive for the broad masses of the population or for a considerable section of the Party cadres, but to a very large extent because of the plain fact that in the first, decisive stages of the struggle for power, Trotsky simply opted out.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 46
Searching for an ally, Lenin turned to Trotsky. Twice in the course of 1922 he had urged Trotsky to accept the post of a deputy chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, and twice Trotsky had refused, failing to see the opportunity Lenin was offering him to establish his political position as first among his deputies.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 119
Trotsky was already War Minister, and Lenin and the Central Committee had tried several times to make him also a deputy chairman of the Council of Commissars. Trotsky always refused out of pride since there were already several deputy chairmen.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 226
The reply of the Political Bureau, led by Stalin, Kamenev, and Zinoviev, was that Trotsky could have had, as a member of the government, and in the capacity of vice-premier which Lenin had offered him, every opportunity “if you wished to, to demonstrate in action that the party might trust him with those practically unlimited powers in the sphere of industry and military affairs toward which he strives. But Trotsky preferred another method of action…. He never attended a meeting of the council of people’s commissars, either under Lenin or after his withdrawal. He never attended a meeting of the council of labor and defense, either before or after its reorganization….
The Politburo said, “Trotsky categorically declined the position of substitute for Lenin. That evidently he considers beneath his dignity. He conducts himself according to the formula: ‘All or nothing.’”
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 229
[At the 13th Conference of the Party in January 1924 Stalin stated] Let me recall two facts so that you may be able to judge for yourselves. First, the incident which occurred at the September plenum of the Central Committee when, in reply to the remark by Central Committee member Komarov that Central Committee members cannot refuse to carry out Central Committee decisions, Trotsky jumped up and left the meeting. You will recall that the Central Committee plenum sent a “delegation” to Trotsky with the request that he return to the meeting. You will recall that Trotsky refused to comply with this request of the plenum, thereby demonstrating that he had not the slightest respect for this Central Committee.
There is also the other fact, that Trotsky definitely refuses to work in the central Soviet bodies, in the Council of Labor and Defense and the Council of People’s Commissars, despite the twice-adopted Central Committee decision that he at last take up his duties in the Soviet bodies. You know that Trotsky has not as much as moved a finger to carry out this Central Committee decision.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 6, p. 39
The same day that Lenin sent Stalin the demand for an apology, 5 March 1923, he also sent Trotsky a note asking him to take over the ‘Georgian affair’, providing him with the dictations of 30-1 December on the problem of minority nationalism. Trotsky declined this commission, thus missing a fine opportunity to deal Stalin a serious blow. His excuse was illness, and it is true that he intermittently ran a debilitating fever during most of the 1920s. But he was not too ill to report to the Congress of April 1923 on a different topic, and he at least could have read the dictations to the Congress, thus presenting himself as a close ally of Lenin. One explanation of Trotsky’s self-defeating decision might be the excessive self-confidence that Lenin had noted in his dictation. Trotsky perhaps could not conceive that he would have to exert himself to be recognized as the principal successor to Lenin. Another explanation might be that Trotsky was not interested in belaboring Russian chauvinism and defending minority nationalism….
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 78
Trotsky’s rejection of Lenin’s request [to take over the Georgian affair] was at least as serious an example of disloyalty to the founder as Stalin’s insults to Krupskaia, but the latest decline in Lenin’s health closed that issue.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 78
[Footnote]: In his response to Lenin’s repeated offer [of being a deputy chairman of sovnarkom] Trotsky said that he would accept the job if the Central Committee ordered him to, but that this would be ‘profoundly irrational’ and contrary to his administrative ‘plans and intentions’. This brusqueness was far from the impression of friendly relations that he described in his book My Life. This memoir was even more inaccurate in stating that Lenin had not previously offered him the position.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 345
LENIN CHOSE STALIN AS GEN. SEC.
At this stage his power was already formidable. Still more was to accrue to him from his appointment, on April 3, 1922, to the post of General Secretary of the Central Committee. The 11th Congress of the party had just elected a new and enlarged Central Committee and again modified the statutes. The leading bodies of the party were now top-heavy; and a new office, that of the General Secretary, was created, which was to co-ordinate the work of their many growing and overlapping branches. It was on that occasion, Trotsky alleges, that Lenin aired, in the inner circle of his associates, his misgivings about Stalin’s candidature: ‘This cook can only serve peppery dishes.’ But his doubts were, at any rate, not grave; and he himself in the end sponsored the candidature of the ‘cook’. Molotov and Kuibyshev were appointed Stalin’s assistants, the former having already been one of the secretaries of the party.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 232
Stalin did not make himself general secretary. Lenin did. Lenin had been his mentor, protector, and constant model.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 162
In regard to Stalin three facts can hardly be controverted. First, in January, 1912, at the Prague Conference of the Communist Party, Lenin proposed the election of Stalin to the Central Committee of the Party and placed him at the head of the “Russian Bureau” in charge of all Communist activities on Russian soil. Second, when the Politburo was first formed by Lenin in May, 1917, Stalin was chosen by Lenin to be a member and has been reelected to it at every Party Congress since. Third, when Lenin felt death’s hand upon his shoulder early in 1922, he named Stalin General Secretary of the Communist Party, which he knew and all the Communists knew was the key position in the Party, as Stalin later proved by using it to make himself Lenin’s successor.
Duranty, Walter. Stalin & Co. New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1949, p. 66
A ‘party school’ had been held by Lenin in 1911 at Longjumeau outside Paris, and Dzhughashvili was one of the individuals he had wanted to have with him. ‘People like him’, he [Lenin] said to the Georgian Menshevik Uratadze, ‘are exactly what I need.’
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 82
Lenin and his entourage therefore decided to reinforce the Secretariat in two ways–by establishing the office of General Secretary, with the other two members acting as his assistants rather than equal colleagues, and by selecting for the position of General Secretary the man most capable of strong-arm work, Joseph Stalin.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 351
STALIN & TROTSKY EACH TRY TO GET THE OTHER TO GIVE THE KEY SPEECH WHEN LENIN LEFT
At the session of the Politburo which discussed new arrangements for the Congress [the 12th Party Congress], the first Congress in the whole history of the party that was not to be guided by Lenin, Stalin proposed that, in place of Lenin, Trotsky should address the Congress on behalf of the Central Committee, as its chief rapporteur…. Trotsky refused to act in Lenin’s customary role, lest people should think that he was advancing his claim to the leadership even before Lenin was dead. His apprehension was certainly genuine. But then he went on to propose that Stalin, as General Secretary, should ex officio act in place of Lenin. The latter, too, was cautious enough to refuse. In the end Zinoviev accepted the risky honor.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 253
It was the early weeks of 1923, and the 12th Congress was drawing near. There remained little hope that Lenin could take part in it. The question of who was to make the principal political report arose. At the meeting of the Politburo, Stalin said, “Trotsky, of course.” He was instantly supported by Kalinin, Rykov, and, obviously against his will, by Kamenev. I objected.
Stalin knew that a storm was menacing him from Lenin’s direction, and tried in every way to ingratiate himself with me. He kept repeating that the political report should be made by the most influential and popular member of the Central Committee after Lenin: i.e., Trotsky, and that the party expected it and would not understand anything else.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 489
The 12th Party Congress was from 17 to 23 April 1923. A major problem arose: Who would present the congress with the Central Committee’s political report, the most important political document of the year? This task had always been Lenin’s. Whoever did it would be considered by the Party to be Lenin’s successor.
At the Politburo meeting Stalin proposed that Trotsky present the report….
With astonishing naivete, Trotsky refused. He didn’t want the Party to think he was usurping the place of a sick Lenin. In his turn, he proposed that Stalin give the report as general secretary of the Central Committee. I can just imagine Zinoviev’s emotions at that moment. But Stalin also refused. He understood perfectly well that the Party would not understand and wouldn’t accept him, for nobody then considered him as one of the top Party bosses. In the end, with Kamenev’s help, Zinoviev was tasked with presenting the report. He was president of the Comintern, and if anyone should temporarily replace the ill Lenin, it was he. Zinoviev gave the political report to the congress in April.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 30
SOLKOLNIKOV WAS THE ONLY 1926 SPEAKER TO URGE REMOVAL OF STALIN AS GEN. SEC.
I often went to visit Sokolnikov, who had been a lawyer…. After the 13th Party Congress in May 1924, he was named candidate member of the Politburo. At the 1926 congress he took the side of Zinoviev and Kamenev and was the only platform speaker to urge removal of Stalin from the general secretaryship. That cost him his job as peoples’ commissar and his place on the Politburo.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 86
STALIN REFUSES TO ACCEPT TROTSKY’S RESIGNATION AS WAR COMMISSAR
The triumvirs could not let him go…. Zinoviev replied that he himself, the President of the Communist International, would go to Germany “as a soldier of the revolution” instead of Trotsky. Then Stalin intervened, and with a display of bonhomie and common sense said that the Politburo could not possibly dispense with the services of either of its two most eminent and well-beloved members. Nor could it except Trotsky’s resignation from the Commissariat of War and the Central Committee, which would create a scandal of the first magnitude. As for himself, he, Stalin, would be content to remain excluded from the Military Revolutionary Committee if this could restore harmony. The Politburo accepted Stalin’s “solution”; and Trotsky, feeling the grotesqueness of the situation, left the hall in the middle of the meeting “banging the door behind him.”
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 112
TROTSKY WAS FAR TOO UNPOPULAR WITH THE PEASANTS TO TAKE OVER AFTER LENIN
In his preface to the German edition of Serge’s memoirs, Erich Wollenberg [a German revolutionary Communist who moved to the Soviet Union in the early 1920s after the final defeat of insurrection in Germany] rather persuasively disputes Serge’s version of the facts.
“… Within the Party itself there was unquestionably a majority supporting the troika: i.e. the ruling triumvirate composed of Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Stalin. They were regarded in precisely that order of importance, with Stalin in last place.
If there had been some way of changing the Soviet Constitution and carrying out an election, who among Lenin’s followers would have received the most votes? Although the result would be impossible to predict, we can be sure about one thing: in view of the hostility of the peasantry and of the middle-class which in the early 1920s had come to regard Trotsky as an opponent of NEP, an overwhelming majority of those voting in the election would have been against Trotsky.
It is necessary to stress this point unequivocally, since to this day Trotskyists of all kinds, and even experts on Soviet affairs in the Federal Republic and other countries, express the view in conversation, in print, and on television that Trotsky actually had a “real chance” after Lenin’s death.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 53
STALIN WORKED VERY HARD IN THE EARLY YEARS TO BUILD THE PARTY
During the years of reaction he [Stalin] was not one of the tens of thousands who deserted the Party, but one of the very few hundreds who, despite everything, remained loyal to it.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 113
Toward the end of February 1917, Stalin, who had returned from abroad, made his home with the same deputies: “He played the leading role in the life of our [Duma] faction and of the newspaper Pravda,” relates Samoilov, “and he attended not only all the conferences, which we arranged in our apartment, but not infrequently, with great risk to himself, visited also the sessions of the Social-Democratic faction, where, upholding our position in arguments against the Mensheviks and on various other questions, he rendered us great service.”
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 159
EFFORTS TO PROVE STALIN WAS NOT LEGALLY THE GENERAL SECRETARY ARE BASELESS
One particular point concerning the reconstituted party regime has remained an enigma. Announcements of postcongress plenums in 1922 and after said not only that Stalin was elected a Central Committee secretary, but also that the new Central Committee confirmed him as general secretary. This time there was no reference to such confirmation. From the omission a veteran observer of Soviet politics has inferred that the new Central Committee deprived Stalin of the position of general secretary and all the associated “additional rights” that set him apart from the other Central Committee secretaries. A large interpretation of the history of the Soviet regime in the ensuing years flowed from the hypothesized grave setback of Stalin’s fortunes.
The inference, however, was unfounded. First, general secretary was a special title accorded Stalin as the senior Central Committee secretary, not, technically speaking, an office. The office was that of secretary, as indicated by the fact that both before and after 1934 Stalin signed party decrees “Secretary of the Central Committee.” Secondly, Soviet official sources testify that Stalin did not cease to be general secretary in February 1934 even though the announcement concerning the postcongress plenum made no mention of his having been confirmed as such. Thirdly, the symbolic evidence cited above and the signs of Stalin’s heavy influence in the reshaping of the party regime contradict the notion that his power was reduced by the new Central Committee whose very composition testified to this power.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 263
TROTSKY TRIES TO MILITARIZE THE TRADE UNIONS
When Stalin requisitioned the grain of the south to feed the hungry population of the north, he had regard neither for the open market of capitalism nor for the principle of the future exchange of goods in communist society. He was doing what any State power would have had to do if it intended to survive, whether that State were a slave, feudal, capitalist, or socialist. The economics of War Communism were the economics of survival, and that they took on extreme forms of centralization of authority, applied measures of confiscation right and left, requisitioned without regard for the economic niceties of the market, is incidental.
At this period Stalin and Trotsky again found themselves in opposite camps. Flushed with enthusiasm for the growing discipline of the Red Army, Trotsky initiated the transformation of its regiments into military Labor Battalions. Again showing his characteristic lack of confidence in the workers, he proposed to militarize labor in industry and make the Trade Unions into governmental institutions which would effect the necessary discipline. He opposed the election of trade union officials and favored their appointment by the Government….
Lenin and Stalin together fought Trotsky’s proposal. They insisted that the Trade Unions be voluntary and democratic, elect their officials, adopt methods of comradely persuasion and eschew the dictatorial practices of the military-minded.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 140
This instance [causing a huge eventual loss by refusing to sign the Brest-Litovsk Treaty] is enough to show the Trotsky had no comprehension of political realities. This was made clear again on later occasions. To quote only one instance, after the end of the Civil War Trotsky hit upon the idea of assisting the needed economic reconstruction by not demobilizing the Red Army but converting it into a labor force. He wanted to organize forced labor under military discipline on an altogether unprecedented scale. And this in a country already full of revolutionary anarchy! In his articles he declared that it was a bourgeois prejudice that regarded forced labor as economically inferior to free labor. If Trotsky’s idea had been carried out, in all probability the Bolshevik regime would have been brought down….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 125
Stalin’s position on this question of labor armies is of importance in a study of his character because it destroys the popular conception of him as a ruthless Dictator and demonstrates that, provided such a course is not detrimental to the well-being of the Soviet state, he is always prepared to deal with a problem from a humanitarian standpoint.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 53
In 1920 a controversy on the trade union question arose in the party. It arose because Trotsky and his followers had proposed that the policy of the period of War Communism be continued in every sphere of economic and Party work, and that the “screw be put on tighter.”
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 115
PARTY OUTLAWS FACTIONS AND DEMOTES TROTSKYISTS
At the Tenth Bolshevik Party Congress, in March 1921, the Central Committee headed by Lenin passed a resolution outlawing all “factions” in the party as a menace to the unity of the revolutionary leadership. From now on all party leaders would have to submit to the majority decisions and the majority rule, on penalty of expulsion from the party. The Central Committee specifically warned “Comrade Trotsky” against his “factional activities,” and stated that “enemies of the state,” taking advantage of the confusion caused by his disruptive activities were penetrating the party and calling themselves “Trotskyites.” A number of important Trotskyites and other Left Oppositionists were demoted. Trotsky’s chief military aide, Muralov, was removed as Commander of the strategic Moscow Military Garrison and replaced by the old Bolshevik, Voroshilov.
The following year, in March 1922, Joseph Stalin was elected general secretary of party….
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 196
There was also sharp divergence amongst the delegates to the Tenth Party Congress about the powers and functions of labor unions in the Soviet State. Feelings ran so high and differences of opinions were so violent on both these important questions (the NEP and labor unions) that Lenin was led to make an impassioned plea for Party Unity, which he described as the cardinal and all-essential factor for this and every subsequent Congress to remember and reserve.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 70
The Tenth Congress further authorized the Central Committee, as supreme permanent organism of the Party, to apply appropriate penalties to all Communists–including members of the Committee itself–guilty of violating party discipline, and especially of creating intra-party factions.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 70
This incident so alarmed Lenin that he caused the 10th Congress of the CPSU to pass a special resolution against the formation of separate blocks, groups, and factions within the Party. Lenin was of the view that party members were entitled to differ with each other and to resolve their differences by discussion. But once a decision had been arrived at after a thorough discussion, and criticism had been exhausted, unity of will and action of the Party members were necessary, for without this unity a proletarian Party and proletarian discipline were inconceivable. This Trotsky could never understand. Whenever he found himself in a minority he rushed ahead to form a faction within the Party–thus jeopardizing the Party and the Soviet Republic.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 103
When Trotsky asks about the rights of factions, it is not the right of Communist Party members to express their opinion within the Party that he is concerned with. That is not and never has been challenged. What Trotsky means by factions is not minority opinion on one or another issue within the Party, but the right of a group to establish its own leadership, its own connections, its own press within the Party–in short, its right to establish a party within the Party with a view to splitting the Party. That will never be tolerated.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 187
A Party conference, the first organized by him [Stalin], was held in January 1924. It was unsparing in its condemnation of Trotsky and the opposition, and it decided that the secret resolution [Lenin’s resolution] “on expulsion from the Party for factional activity” should be made public for the first time.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 212
LENIN SHUT DOWN FACTIONALISM AND HAD MAJOR PURGE
The controversies engendered by the adoption of the NEP caused Congress X (March, 1921) to order the dissolution of all factional groups and the expulsion from membership, on the order of the Central Committee, of all deemed guilty of reviving factionalism, infringing the rules of discipline, or violating Congress decisions. During 1921 some 170,000 members, about 25% of the total, were expelled in a mass purge which continued throughout 1922. So drastic was this cleansing that Congress XII (April, 1923) was attended by only 408 delegates representing 386,000 members, as compared with 694 and 732,000 in March, 1921. The Congress rejected proposals by Krassin and Radek for large scale concessions to foreign capital, by Bukharin and Sokolnikov for abandoning the State monopoly of foreign trade, and by Trotsky for reversing Lenin’s policy of conciliating the peasantry. In the autumn of 1923 Trotsky issued a “Declaration of the 46 Oppositionists,” criticizing the NEP, predicting a grave economic crisis and demanding full freedom for dissenting groups and factions. Immediately after Congress XI (March, 1922) the Plenum of the Central Committee, on Lenin’s motion, had chosen Stalin as General Secretary of the Committee.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 198
The 1921 Purge was so severe that the party membership was reduced from 732,000 (at the time of the Tenth Congress in March, 1921) to 532,000 at the Eleventh Congress in March, 1922.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 71
In March 1921 there was a serious mutiny of sailors of the Kronstadt naval base near Petrograd, previously noted for their ardent radicalism. This was not the doing of the Bolshevik dissenters, but at the party congress of March 1921 Lenin used it as an example of what dissent could lead to thanks to the machinations of the Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries, and imperialists. The Congress passed a resolution forbidding intra-party factions, with a secret article that permitted the Central Committee to discipline, even to expel from the party (that is, remove from political life), any factionalists, including Central Committee members. Those who wish to portray Lenin as a pluralist at heart have observed that this was an exceptional measure during a crisis at the end of a devastating civil war and that it was not intended to be a permanent feature of Bolshevism. But Lenin never suggested in the two years following this resolution that he thought it might be rescinded, even though the crisis had passed.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 83
LENIN OPPOSED WORKERS’ OPPOSITION AND ANARCHO-SYNDICALISTS
The main fight, however, was not between Lenin and Trotsky. Both made common cause against the Workers’ Opposition and the group of Democratic Centralists, for it was from that side that the authority of party and Government was most directly threatened. The seriousness of the threat was matched by the unusual bitterness of Lenin’s attacks on the ‘Anarcho-Syndicalists’, as he labeled his opponents, describing even their views, let alone their deeds, as ‘a direct political danger to the very existence of the proletarian dictatorship’. This was the motive for the ban on oppositional groups inside the party. What seemed so dangerous to Lenin in the Workers’ Opposition was not so much its specific views on the trade unions, as the underlying desire to assign to the party a more modest role than it had come to play. Lenin made a half-hearted attempt to soften the rigor of the ban: members of party were to be enabled to air differences of opinion in a special Discussion Bulletin; and some of the chief spokesmen of the Opposition were re-elected to the Central Committee. But he himself undid the effect of his liberal gestures when he persuaded the Congress to state that ‘the propaganda of [Anarcho-Syndicalist] ideas is incompatible with membership of the Russian Communist Party’. The congress empowered the Central Committee to expel from the party leaders elected by the Congress, thereby cracking a whip over the spokesmen of the Workers’ Opposition who had just been re-elected. The three able, educated, and independent secretaries of the party, Krestinsky, Serebryakov, and Preobrazhensky, who showed a leaning or a leniency towards the Opposition, were removed from office and replaced by ‘reliable’ people like Molotov and Yaroslavski. The new secretaries were Stalin’s close associates. Trotsky voted for the ban, without suspecting that one day the ban would become a death-trap for his own opposition.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 223
TROTSKY OPPOSED DIRECT WORKERS CONTROL OF FACTORIES
Contrary to a myth of vulgar Trotskyism, he [Trotsky] did not advocate any “direct workers’ control over industry,” that is management by factory committees or works’ councils. This form of management had failed in Russia shortly after the revolution, and Trotsky had ever since been a most determined advocate of one-man management and central control, arguing that management by factory committees would become possible only if and when the mass of producers became well-educated and imbued with a strong sense of social responsibility. He had also been absolutely opposed to the “anarcho-syndicalist” schemes of the Workers’ Opposition for the transfer of industrial management to trade unions or “producers associations.” He did not significantly alter these views when he found himself in Opposition and exile.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 101
WHAT IS NEP
This strategy governing the in NEP consisted of maintaining the “dictatorship of the proletariat” by the state retaining its hold on key positions such as the banks, Railway’s, telegraphs, Postal Services, large industrial enterprises, and foreign trade, and re-establishing private ownership in small-scale industry, with free market conditions for the exchange of commodities, industrial and agricultural. The peasants were released from requisitioning raids, and were free to sell any surplus production over an above the tax in kind which they had to deliver to the state.
The NEP therefore consisted of a mixture of socialist and capitalist economy. It has been described as “the return to capitalism” and as “state capitalism.” Neither description is wholly true.
But while the surging movement of Revolution indeed swept across Europe, nowhere, except for a short period in Hungary, had it reached its November 7.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 143
Stalin regarded the NEP as a “breathing space” in which the Revolution retreated to “prepared positions” in order to regroup the Bolshevik divisions before storming new heights.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 156
Lenin called for national unity to meet the “incredible difficulties” of reorganizing economic and social life. He announced the New Economic Policy abolishing the rigid so-called “War Communism” and restoring a measure of private trade and capitalism in Russia and opening the way for the beginning of reconstruction. “We take one step backward,” said Lenin, “in order at a later date to take two steps forward!”
When Lenin announced the “temporary retreat” of the New Economic Policy, Trotsky exclaimed: “the cuckoo has cuckooed the end of the Soviet government!”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 194
The rest of the New Economic Policy–restoration of money wages with different rates according to capacity and performance; extra pay for overtime, and, in some branches, the re-appearance of the piece work system; revival of payments for rent, railroad, and street car travel, and the replacement of the food requisitions by a graduated tax in kind–consisted of little more than normal measures of peace time reconstruction.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 8
October 22, 1921–“The real meaning of the New Economic Policy is that we have met a great defeat in our plans and that we’re now making a strategic retreat,” said Lenin in one of the frankest admissions of the failure of his policies ever made by leader of a great nation.
“We were wrong, and so we have begun to retreat. Before we are utterly smashed, let us retrace our steps and begin to build on a new foundation.”
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 82
Lenin thus admits that his change of economic front is due to recognition of the fact that communism is at present inadequate to supply the peasants on the one hand with manufactured goods and the urban workers on the other with food.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 83
To Lenin the New Economic Policy was a delicate adjustment between the forces of communism and individualism, adopted, perhaps like the Brest-Litovsk peace three years before, unwillingly, but as “the breathing space” he knew was necessary for existence.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 152
In regard to the peasants, socialism allows them to profit by their own individual effort as long as the preparation and sale of their products do not involve the hired labor, or, as Russians call it, the exploitation, of others.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 227
Lenin, ever clear-sighted, scorned to escape from an error by cloaking it with another greater one and bluntly told the Central Committee: “We have made the mistake of thinking we could pass straight to Socialism [Read Communism] without transition.” Looking round him, Stalin also insisted that the situation was so serious that no amount of surface adjustment could make any difference, something entirely new must be evolved, and soon.
The situation which forced the Bolsheviks to the NEP is easier to understand in its present perspective than it was to those earnest defenders of theory who so hotly opposed it in 1921.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 57
Though it was forced temporarily to descend to the elementary capitalism of the early 19th-century, Bolshevism survived and gained a much needed respite during which a start could be made to rehabilitate the shattered economic structure of Russia.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 56
The very visible and noisy revival of private trade which characterized the first years of the new economic policy and which caused some hasty and superficial observers to announce that Russia was returning to capitalism has proved hollow and illusory. Freedom of private trade still exists theoretically in Russia; but this freedom is of rather an academic character when the private trader can obtain neither an adequate supply of goods, which are practically all manufactured in state factories, nor store buildings, which are leased first of all to co-operatives, nor transportation facilities.
It is pretty obvious from these facts and figures that, far from returning to private capitalism, the Soviet Government is steadily and rapidly socializing the field where private capital apparently had gained something of a foothold after the introduction of the New Economic Policy.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 140-141
In a series of speeches he said we must either follow this course or perish…. We either pass to the NEP or perish. That is how he put the question.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 125
And so it went. Courageously and wonderfully! Or take the NEP, for example. After all, it was the Mensheviks who demanded freedom of trade, to allow opportunities to sell, and so forth. So in 1921 Lenin took this Menshevik program and started implementing it, but under control of the workers’ state. It was a measure forced on us by circumstances, but a necessary one.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 150
Further. The Mensheviks were continually talking about the kinds of trading relations we ought to have. Lenin criticized them: “You are counter-revolutionaries, scum, enemies of the working class.” But then he introduced the NEP in 1921. This time he had “stolen” from the Mensheviks.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 151
Had we not concluded the Brest peace at that point, the Soviet government would have collapsed…. But as regards NEP, according to Lenin, it was our strategic retreat from socialism…. the NEP saved us from ruin…. At the 11th Congress Lenin summed up the results of the new policy and said that if we had not abandoned our earlier policies and had not restored public confidence, Soviet power would not have survived. That was essentially his analysis of the NEP one year after it was launched.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 247
…State enterprises were placed upon a commercial footing. Salaries were graded according to qualifications and the kind of work done. And, as the State found that it had more enterprises on its hands than it could manage itself (since it had seized them all), it hired a certain number of them out to private individuals.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 122
Private capital began to make its appearance and developed in the home trade. It represented 30 percent of the whole amount in circulation in the home trade. Foreign trade, which remained a State monopoly, represented, in comparison with pre-war figures, 1/4 as regards imports and one-twentieth as regards exports.
American technicians, engineers, and administrators Lenin particularly held in high esteem. He wanted 5000 of them, he wanted them at once, and was ready to pay them the highest salaries. He was constantly assailed for having a peculiar leaning toward America. Indeed, his enemies cynically referred to him as “the agent of the Wall Street bankers,” and in the heat of debate the extreme Left hurled this charge in his face.
As a matter of fact, American capitalism was to him not less evil than the capitalism of any other country. But America was so far away. It did not offer a direct threat to the life of Soviet Russia. And it did offer the goods and experts that Soviet Russia needed. “Why is it not then to the mutual interest of the two countries to make a special agreement?” asked Lenin.
But is it possible for a communistic state to deal with a capitalistic state? Can the two forms live side-by-side? These questions were put to Lenin by Naudeau.
“Why not?” said Lenin. “We want technicians, scientists and the various products of industry, and it is clear that we by ourselves are incapable of developing the immense resources of this country. Under the circumstances, though it may be unpleasant for us, we must admit that our principles, which hold in Russia, must, beyond our frontiers, give place to political agreements. We very sincerely propose to pay interest on our foreign loans, and in default of cash we will pay them in grain, oil, and all sorts of all materials in which we are rich.
“We have decided to grant concessions of forests and mines to citizens of the Entente powers, always on the condition that the essential principles of the Russian Soviets are to be respected. Furthermore, we will even consent–not cheerfully, it is true, but with resignation–to the cession of some territory of the old Empire of Russia to certain Entente powers. We know that the English, Japanese, and American capitalists very much desire such concessions.
“We have granted to an international association the construction of the Veliky Severny Put, The Great Northern Line. Have you heard of it? It is about 3000 versts of railroad, starting at Soroka, near the Gulf of Onega, and running by way of Kotlas across the Ural mountains to the Obi River. Immense virgin forests with 8 million hectares of land and all kinds of unexplored mines will fall within the domain of the constructing company.
“This state property is ceded for a certain time, probably 80 years, and with the right of redemption. We exact nothing drastic of the association. We ask only the observance of the laws passed by the Soviet, like the eight-hour day and the control of the workers organizations. It is true that this is far from Communism. It does not at all correspond to our ideal, and we must say that this question has raised some very lively controversies in Soviet journals. But we have decided to accept that which the epoch of transition renders necessary.”
Williams, Albert R. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 48
The system of War Communism was scrapped and replaced by the so-called New Economic Policy. The NEP, as that policy came to be known, established a mixed economy. Large-scale industry and transport remained state-owned. Private enterprise was allowed in small and medium-sized industry and in trade. Foreign concerns were invited to restart business in Russia, even in large-scale industry. The requisitioning of food in the country-side was stopped; it was replaced by ordinary agricultural taxation, first in kind and then in money. Later on, the ruble was stabilized. The prime purpose of these sweeping reforms was to re-equip industry almost from scratch, to renew the exchange of manufactures for food and raw materials, in a word, to re-establish a functioning economy with the help of private capital. The state reserved for itself, apart from the ownership of large-scale industry, the over-all economic control.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 221
Of all the ironies and contradictions of this time (1921-28) the most striking was as follows. Under the Tsars, the peasants of Great Russia had lived for centuries under communal land tenure. At last, following the example of Western Europe, they had awakened to its many deficiencies–such as the division of the village holdings into innumerable separate strips–and following the lead given by the legislation of Stolypin they had been dividing up the holding into compact individual farms. Now they were doing this again in place after place of themselves, and all that they asked of the government was to confirm what they had done: the Communist Government was asked for a title deed. And in 1922 the Communist Government, in shaping its new land law, did indeed base it in the main on individual farming!
… More than this, as the peasants were listened to in this period, they had an actual opportunity of putting forward their own program, and it was in every way the reverse of Communism: a free market, no tax on thrift, restoration of the ballot, abolition of the practice of sending down from the Communist Party a list of the persons to be elected, and lastly the equalization of the individual peasant’s vote with that of the town worker: at present, in the government of the State, it only counted for 1/5.
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 132
First Lenin introduced the “New Economic Policy” which legalized money again and allowed shops to open, invited foreign capital, made possible commercial concessions to foreign companies. Making war on Capitalism they invited the co-operation of capitalists.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 68
The New Economic Policy was a complete reversal of the course of the dictatorship…. The government retained its hold upon the basic resources and industries, the transport system, and monopoly of foreign trade. The socialist agricultural sector was restricted to the cooperative system and the moribund state and collective farms.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 363
NEP HAD TO GO
The nepmen, as they were called, showed amazing ingenuity in evading government control and taxation alike.
By 1925, however, NEP had served its purpose.
It had become apparent to the Bolshevik leaders that if they really intended to form a socialist state, something must be done to check capital accumulation by Nepmen, no less than the steady growth of a prosperous peasant class, the kulaks, or labor-employing farmers.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 9
Both sides [the two sides in the Party] were agreed that the kulaks required extermination as a class, and only quarreled about the right method and right moment.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 10
By the autumn of 1929 the real issue was clearly defined — collectivization must fail or the kulak must go — no middle measures were conceivable.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 11
CHUEV: Lenin had proposed the continuation of the NEP for a longer period of time. Did he not say that the NEP was to be pursued seriously and for a long time?
MOLOTOV: No. Lenin planned the NEP as a temporary retreat. Only one year later, in 1922 in a speech he said it was time to end the NEP. He said we have been retreating for a whole year. On the party’s behalf we can now say, “That’s enough…” The period of the NEP had ended, or was coming to an end.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 130
I have already mentioned that the exceptional measures against the kulaks in 1928 meant the de facto end of NEP in the countryside….
But by this time Stalin had no intention of continuing NEP….the Party had rejected the proposal of the Left Opposition (in 1926-1927) that private businessmen be taxed an additional 200 million rubles. The Party had argued with good reason that such tax measures would amount to the expropriation of private capital and signify the abandonment of NEP. In the early 30s, however, Stalin himself began a policy of increased taxation of private businessmen, forcing them in fact to close down their businesses. It is true that Stalin did not call for the arrest and deportation of former Nepman and their families. Instead, an unannounced decision was made to confiscate a goodly part of their wealth.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 289
The NEP was producing tiresome results. The various State enterprises were being frequently hindered, spoiled, and cleverly exploited by private commercial concerns. As a general rule, the products of socialized industry were not reaching the consumer direct, but were falling into the hands of middle-men who passed them on at prices sometimes a hundred percent higher than those they paid. A large amount of commercial capital was becoming available as a result of speculation, and of undercutting of nationalized industries by private initiative, which was freer and cleverer than the State-controlled concerns, and less troubled by questions of public welfare. The importance of money in social life grew, and its effects were demoralizing. Gambling-houses and brothels made their appearance in the cities. Communists, dependent on very mediocre salaries, often found themselves at a disadvantage compared to the specialists, the tradesmen, and the “Capitalists” who were appearing as a new element in the common-weal. The unemployed were as badly off in Russia as they were in Berlin; the workers, unable to pay the comparatively high rents now demanded for the fine flats they had occupied during the Revolution, were, little by little, drifting back to the slums, and many a dwelling that had been handsome and clean a few years previously, was now poverty-stricken and dilapidated.
Barmine, Alexandre. Memoirs of a Soviet Diplomat. London: L. Dickson limited,1938, p. 218
It was this that brought this long period (1921-28) to an end. One can imagine the effect of all this compromise on such ardent doctrinaires. What a position for a government– to hold the power on condition that you let the greater part of the population do the opposite to what you wished! Meanwhile the compromise was having an enervating influence on the governing Party itself. Over and over again, there were purges to get rid of the lukewarm, and yet the rot gained ground: it was particularly felt where it was most dangerous, in the Komsomol. One is bound to feel the most respect for those who stood firmest for consistency. The Party itself, and therefore the Government, was soon split endwise. There were several groups; but the main distinction was between a right wing which said, give the country what it evidently wants and a left wing which said, practice what you preach.
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 133
Later when he was thinking over his disagreements with Stalin, Bukharin would recall an “economic” discussion they had back in 1925. In the course of the discussion Stalin had said that if they gambled on NEP for long it would beget capitalism.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 231
BOLSHEVIKS KNOW PEASANTS ARE MORE BOURGEOIS THAN SOCIALIST
As the Bolsheviks well know, the peasants are individualists, not socialists; or, to put it differently, potential bourgeois rather than class-conscious proletariat.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 95
Lenin, who knew well how utterly the individualistic land-grabbing of the peasants and the un-disciplined desire of the soldiers differed from the Bolshevik aim of Marxist collectivism….
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 270
…But as soon as the October Revolution triumphed Lenin proclaimed the decree on land–the peasants mandate on land was to be implemented! Yes, the socialist revolutionary land program was to be implemented: take the land, immediately! He had utilized the peasants and explained: we’re not in agreement in a number of respects, but as the peasants have drawn up the policy, let them become convinced by experience in implementing it that not everything is right with it, and they will begin to see things our way. But we must begin implementation of the decree; begin smashing the landlords to confiscate their land. In this struggle the peasants will find the right path.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 150
There is a certain article of mine, “Lenin in the years of the Revolution.” I published it…after Lenin’s death. In it I showed that Lenin had “stolen” the program of the Socialist-Revolutionaries….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 151
We are told that our peasantry, by its very position, is not socialistic, and, therefore, is incapable of socialist development. It is true, of course, that the peasantry, by its very position, is not socialistic. But this does not prove that the peasant farms cannot develop along socialist lines, if it can be shown that the country follows the town, and that socialist industry is predominant in the town. The peasants, by their position, were not socialistic at the time of the October Revolution and they did not by any means want the establishment of socialism in our country. Their main striving then was for the overthrow of the power of the landlords and the cessation of the war, the establishment of peace. Nevertheless, they followed the lead of the socialist proletariat. Why did they do this? Because there was no other way of ending the imperialist war, no other way of bringing peace to Russia than by overthrowing the bourgeoisie, and by establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat…. And so the peasants, at that time, in spite of their being non-socialistic, followed the lead of the socialist proletariat.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 166
Here was a country…where the working-class with its revolutionary traditions was a tiny island in the midst of a sea of illiterate peasantry.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 11
… Russia is suited to large-scale farming and the mass production of wheat.
The chief difficulty, if it could be overcome, solved both an economic and a political problem. That difficulty was the petty ownership of land. Nominally, the peasants were, for the most part, in possession of the land. They believed they were the owners of it. The peasants, in addition to their many religious and pagan superstitions, have also an economic one: it is that God made the land for the peasant. Their avidity for ownership in land is inborn. When the first revolution took place it interested them chiefly as an opportunity to snatch all the land they could from the sequestered landowners. When the Whites marched North, all they asked for their support was legal title to the new lands [which the Whites refused–Ed.]. The Reds when they won the Civil War could not expropriate the peasants though private ownership of land was a contravention of their dogma. They were forced to accept the status quo and wait their opportunity for the socialization of property in agricultural land.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 112
The chief agrarian problem for the Bolsheviks can be briefly stated. In 1917 they were carried to power on the crest of the agrarian revolution. In this revolution the peasants seized the land and divided it up among themselves, thereby achieving their sole objective. This seizure and division of the land was the starting point for a new system of social differentiation. Feudalism had been definitely destroyed. But it had been destroyed by a revolution which laid the foundation for a capitalist class system. While the agrarian revolution had thus been the condition for the victory of the Bolsheviks its result represented a permanent menace to their very existence and all their aims. For them it was a question of life or death to overcome the “natural” capitalist tendencies of the peasantry. They did this by something like a “permanent revolution” in the countryside.
In addition, the Bolsheviks had to impose on the peasants special sacrifices in connection with the industrialization of the USSR. The peasants had to make a double sacrifice: they had not only to sacrifice immediate consumption in order to make possible the mechanization of agriculture, but they had also to give up their products with little or nothing in return in order to supply food to the town workers during the period of the building up of the capital goods industries. As a result, the Bolsheviks had constantly to coerce the peasants into growing and delivering up large quantities of grain, cattle, etc. at prices which they naturally regarded as inadequate.
Socialist Clarity Group. The U. S. S. R., Its Significance for the West. London: V. Gollancz, 1942, p. 34
WHEN CAPITALISM IS ALLOWED STATE RETAINS CONTROL
Lenin says, “where we have admitted capitalism we remain its master. There are mixed companies, half state and half foreign or native capitalists, but the state retains control of them and after using them to acquire commercial knowledge can dissolve them when it will. Thus there is no danger in this close association with the capitalist enemy.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 99
There has been considerable debate over whether the USSR today can correctly be called a socialist state, and its critics have pointed to such apparently unsocialist factors as high salaries and other privileges for a section of the professional class, the use of the profit motive to increase production, the use of economic incentives such as bonuses, and the large area of private farming still in existence. These factors must, however, be seen within an overall framework of state ownership of the means of production, distribution, communication, and finance, the dominance of collective and state farms, the existence of a mass-democratic system, which–bourgeois critics to the contrary–is much more extensive than capitalist “democracy” and ensures a primary working-class control over the economy…. The answer to those who deny the USSR socialist status is that they do not recognize socialism when they see it.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 135
How is business to be done with Russia? Just as the Government either owns or controls everything else in Russia, so also it regulates all trade. The Government has a monopoly on its foreign trade. You can’t sell directly to or buy from Mr. John Petrov or Mr. Peter Ivanov of Russia, but you must of necessity deal with the Government. They hand out this right or privilege and it is called a concession. There are two kinds, either a trading concession or a manufacturing concession. By the first you are granted the right to deal in certain goods, like the buying and selling of wheat or textiles. By the second you are granted the right to come into the country and operate a plant to produce certain things, like a mine to get out the coal in a certain region or a plant to make tractors.
We met with the Chief Concessions Committee in Moscow, which has the granting of these concessions. So I had an opportunity to find out how one would proceed. That there may be no mistake, I quote from my notes taken at this meeting. My question: “What procedure does a foreign firm follow to secure a concession or trading privilege? Answer by Comrade Kasandroff, First Assistant of said Committee: The concessionaire points out where and what he wants to receive and the scope of the undertaking. Then the Government decides: Does the country need that thing? If it is devised to serve the internal trade, may there not be an overproduction? If it is concerning raw material for export, they determine the minimum amount that should be produced for export. They take into consideration everything that is necessary to have the planned concession fit into the Gos Plan. And if everything looks advisable you get the concession.
Dykstra, Gerald. A Belated Rebuttal on Russia. Allegan, Mich.: The Allegan Press, 1928, p. 135
Once having secured the grant, the details are set out in a contract. The provisions vary with each individual case, but there are certain provisions that go in all trade agreements. They gave us copies of the usual form of concession contract and a few of the things therein stated I want to mention, to give you an idea as to how the whole thing operates. “Section 6–For the concession grant the Concessionaire pays to the Government a royalty fixed in the agreement. Section 8–The Government guarantees to the Concessionaire that all properties included in the concession enterprise will not be subject to confiscation or requisition; likewise, the concession agreement may not be changed or canceled by the Government alone. The Government guarantees to the Concessionaire the right to freely take out of the country net profits. Section 9–After the expiration of the term of the agreement, the buildings, structures, and equipment of the concession enterprise passes to the Government.”
Dykstra, Gerald. A Belated Rebuttal on Russia. Allegan, Mich.: The Allegan Press, 1928, p. 139
And so they grant concessions to German and American firms to come into Russia and set up industries for them. By the concession program we go in and set up, for example, a typewriting plant. We pay them a royalty for the privilege and it is so arranged that after a period of years we turn over to the government our plant. Because they don’t want private ownership of the agencies of production to exist any longer than is necessary to get the thing established, after that the Government is to take it over. In the meantime, we have been selling our machines to the internal trade, and in accordance with the concessions contract are privileged to leave the country with our profits. And you remember also that the concession contract guarantees you against confiscation of your property during the time of operation.
Dykstra, Gerald. A Belated Rebuttal on Russia. Allegan, Mich.: The Allegan Press, 1928, p. 144
Now, you say, this is rather a wild scheme. Perhaps you think no one would take up with such a rainbow proposition. Well, they have and they aren’t sorry either. Already there are in the United States four such trading organizations, the largest, the Amtorg Trading Corp. It exports to Russia agricultural implements, machinery of all kinds, hardware and tractors. It imports fur, veneer wood, caviar, skins, and flax.
Then there is the Harriman concession to run for 20 years, covering rich magnesium fields in the Georgian Soviet Republic. Under the contract Harriman & Co. gets the exclusive right for a term of 20 years to explore and exploit certain deposits of magnesium and export the same.
One of the most interesting concessions is the pencil concession of Hammer’s. This man knew how to make pencils‚ and he went to Russia and built a plant. He uses their raw products and turns out pencils cheaper than they could because he has the system. This he is to do for the next ten years, paying them a royalty and planning to give them his plant when the time expires.
Dykstra, Gerald. A Belated Rebuttal on Russia. Allegan, Mich.: The Allegan Press, 1928, p. 147
SOVIET PEOPLE MUCH BETTER OFF BY 1923
September 7, 1923–The essential fact is that everyone is so infinitely better off than during the “black years” of 1920 and 1921 that present conditions seen paradise by comparison.
This fact naturally influences the political situation. Taking five great sections of the Russian people — the peasants, industrial workers, state officials and employees, artists and professional men, and business people, large and small–there’s none not feeling that Russia has emerged from night into day.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 106
STALIN UNDERSTANDS NEED TO LEAVE WAR COMMUNISM
Stalin shows all of Lenin’s frankness in admitting party weaknesses. The communists must get away from the system of militant communism (that of the 1918–1921period), he tells them, and make the party more democratic by increasing the knowledge and activities of the inferior groups. Communists must not be content to let bureaucracy do their work for them, but must investigate things themselves and try to help the government machine. The workers’ groups must keep up their connection with the peasants and vice versa; all must collaborate toward the common end.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 114
TROTSKY OPPOSED THE NEP
Trotsky, one may assume, never believed that the communist lion could lie down peacefully in Russia with the capitalist lamb. Lenin’s opportunism decided that they must, and while he lived they did.
From the summer of 1924 to December 1925, Trotsky conducted a vigorous campaign for the suppression of the “kulak,” that is, the capitalist influence in the villages–to correspond with a campaign begun before Lenin’s death,in the winter of 1923, against “Nepman” elements in the towns.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 152
BUKHARIN WELCOMED NEP FROM THE START
Both Rykov and Bukharin had enthusiastically welcomed Lenin’s policy of 1922 in favor of the peasants. It may be suspected that Bukharin would have been glad to see Russia slowly develop in this way into a bourgeois democracy. At the time of the New Economic Policy he had not only welcomed that policy in a series of articles, but written again and again of the ‘strong and capable farmer’ as the destined guarantor of Russia’s economic progress. In one of his articles which later was brought up against him, he had advised the farmers, in those very words, to ‘Enrich yourselves!’
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 180
The social struggle to come was reflected inside the Party. Bukharin, at the time Stalin’s main ally in the leadership, stressed the importance of advancing socialism using market relations. In 1925, he called on peasants to `enrich themselves’, and admitted that `we shall move forward at a snail’s pace’. Stalin, in a June 2, 1925 letter to him, wrote: `the slogan enrich yourself is not ours, it is wrong …. Our slogan is socialist accumulation’.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 55 [p. 49 on the NET]
There was disagreement on which way to go. Bukharin and Rykov, based on their practical experiences, believed Lenin’s NEP should be pursued. In April 1925, at a meeting of Moscow militants, Bukharin made his famous declaration according to which “collectivization is not the high road leading to socialism.” He said that the economy of the peasants should be developed, even proposing that the peasants should be told to enrich themselves.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 119
There was therefore a peculiar realism and consistency in Bukharin’s conclusion that the party must allow the wealthy farmer to grow wealthier. The purpose of NEP, he argued, was to use private enterprise in Russia’s reconstruction; but private enterprise could not be expected to play its part unless it obtained its rewards. The overriding interest of socialism lay in increasing national wealth; and that interest would not be harmed if groups and individuals grew wealthier together with the nation–on the contrary, by filling their own coffers they would enrich society as a whole. This was the reasoning which induced Bukharin to address to the peasants his famous appeal: “Enrich yourselves!”
What Bukharin overlooked was that the wealthy peasant sought to enrich himself at the expense of other classes: he paid low wages to the laborers, squeezed the poor farmers, bought up the land, and tried to charge them and the urban workers higher prices for food. He dodged taxation and sought to pass its burden on to the poor. He strove to accumulate capital at the expense of the state and thereby slowed down accumulation within the socialist sector of the economy.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 233
But Bukharin’s slogan [Enrich Yourselves] was obviously a revelation of his deep-seated right-wing deviation, and he was not alone. A whole school around him was trying to substitute state capitalism for socialism, to perpetuate the NEP and worse.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 250
Lenin had branded Bukharin as a champion of the profiteers, Nepmen, and kulaks.
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 262
MOST RUSSIAN PEASANTS BY NATURE OPPOSE PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF LAND
Owing to this historical development it has always been the deepest conviction of the Russian peasant that private ownership of land is a sin. ‘The earth belongs to the dear God, and to take possession of it is a grave sin.’
…There were individual peasants who wanted to become independent. But in not a few cases they were murdered by their fellow-villagers; for the peasants regarded private ownership as a betrayal of their primeval community, based purely on custom, the mir.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 192
The hatred felt for the kulak was the factor in the rural community not only linking the middle layers of the village, but also the poorest layers and the day-laborers, the immediate victims of the kulak. The latter farmed the land of the poorest and took the day-laborers into his service. The anti-kulak feelings of the latter element weighed heavily in the issue of the struggle between kulaks and bureaucracy, especially in those regions where community life was little developed and where kulak capitalism had made great strides and as a result the resistance to the bureaucratic collectivization was particularly bitter (the Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus and Siberia).
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 101
NEP MEN ONLY WANT QUICK PROFITS
In the midst of this economic chaos, Stalin was quick to point out that the backbone of a strong industrial state was still lacking. Heavy industry, which had suffered most during the years of upheaval, was still in a parlous condition. Since it would be necessary to expend large sums over a period of years before profits began to be made, the Nepmen made no effort to improve the situation but concentrated on a system of “quick returns.”
Cole, David. . Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 75
Nepmen made fortunes while manufacturing little.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 256
UNDERGROUND FINANCED BY NEP MEN
Underground organizations, liberally supplied with funds by their wealthy Nepmen sympathizers, endeavored to spread confusion by acts of sabotage and machine wrecking.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 78
STALIN ONLY OPPOSED NEPMEN AS A CLASS, NOT INDIVIDUALLY
In justice to Stalin it must be recognized that his appeal was directed against the kulaks, not as individuals but as “a class whose interests were inimical to those of the proletariat.” To break the political and economic power of the “agrarian capitalist” was all that was required. That a movement of much greater magnitude developed was not his fault.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 82
PEOPLE’S CONDITIONS IMPROVED GREATLY SINCE THE REVOLUTION
From Sobinka and Shachti and from the factories which I have visited in such cities as Moscow, Leningrad, Kharkov, and Nizhni Novgorod I gained two outstanding impressions: that the Russian workers, as a general rule, live under harder and more primitive conditions than those which prevail in America and Western Europe, and that there has been a distinct improvement in their lot, materially and morally, since the Revolution. This improvement finds expression in three fields: wages, hours, and conditions of labor.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 168
STRIKES DO OCCUR ESPECIALLY AGAINST PRIVATE EMPLOYERS
Such strikes as to take place are not organized, concerted movements, but flare-ups of indignation over some local grievance, usually involving a small number of workers and quickly settled through the mediation of the trade union. These observations apply to strikes in the state factories. The trade unions have no scruples about calling strikes against private employers, and such strikes usually turn out in favor of the workers.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 176
The right to strike exists in law, but it is considerably limited in practice by provisions for arbitration–binding on the employer only…. Strikes in private industry are, of course, more frequent and easier than in State industry.
…Criticism of the management of the union, of industry, and of government policies affecting unions is free and vigorous, though in times past it has sometimes met with expulsion or attentions from the GPU.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 167
STALIN SYMPATHIZED WITH THE PEASANTS AFTER LENIN’S DEATH
Besides this central issue there were a host of others scarcely less important. Stalin had long been concerned regarding the attitude of the peasants. He reported, “Our agents in the villages were killed and their houses set on fire by the peasants…in some places, especially in the border regions we had to fight the activities of organized bands; and we had to suppress a real peasant uprising in Georgia.” Stalin therefore urged, in 1925, an easier peasant policy, declaring that it was absolutely necessary to win the sympathies of the middle class of peasants.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 26
It is no less clear that it will be possible to solve the cardinal questions of the revolution only in alliance with the peasantry against the Tsarist power and the liberal bourgeoisie.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 35
MANY TURNED IN THEIR PARTY CARDS WHEN LENIN SET UP NEP
Many followed Lenin until the New Economic Policy, but when we made this transition a lot of people were displeased and could no longer be relied on. They used to say, “Communism is due tomorrow, but we have switched to capitalism and private enterprises!” They were disillusioned and were giving back their party cards; they turned to drink…. but Lenin was always an optimist.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 122
WHEN NEP FORMED LENIN’S 3 SECRETARIES WERE ALL TROTS WHO WERE LATER EXPELLED
…It was the beginning of the NEP. Lenin’s secretariat was formed–three secretaries, and all three were Trotskyists! Devil take it, all three–Krestinsky, Serebryakov, and Preobrazhensky. They formed a tight ring around Lenin. All of them were kicked out at the 11th congress.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 148
NEP COULD NOT BE AVOIDED
They had to do without everything and to realize that the Soviet State had to construct its economic system with its own resources.
And for that they had also in the immediate present, when War Communism was out of date, to consider a new transitory economic position, at the same time that the political and social struggle in the West, and in the rest of the world, was to take the equally transitory form of immediate war aims on a partial united front.
It was in these conditions that the Soviet state judged that it would be able to do quietly what it had not been willing to do at any price two years previously, and passed from the methods of War Communism to those of the market; and the New Economic Policy was created (the NEP).
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 121
The next year, 1922, was a good one for Russian peasants: the crops were abundant and the taxes reasonable.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 388
RELATIVE POWER OF PRIVATE OWNERS AND THE STATE UNDER NEP
In the struggle which was brewing, “the proletarian power had on its side the most highly developed productive forces of the country. In short, it appeared in the market as a landowner, as a purchaser and as a vendor with much more power than its competitors, because it had the additional advantage of possessing political power” (and particularly fiscal power, which assured it of a financial weapon and allowed it to make certain supplementary profits on private enterprise). “The middle classes had on their side past experience and relations with foreign capital.” (Report at the Fourth Congress, 1922.)
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 123
In 1936 Stalin stated, Our industry presented an unenviable picture at that time (1924), particularly heavy industry. True, it was being gradually restored, but it had not yet raised its output to anywhere near the pre-war level. It was based on the old, backward and poorly equipped technique. Of course, it was developing in the direction of socialism. The proportion of the socialist sector of our industry at that time represented about 80 per cent of the whole, but the capitalist sector still controlled no less than 20 percent of industry.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 211
THOSE OPPOSING NEP ARE THE OPPORTUNISTS
In 1921, those who deserved to be called opportunists, in the bad sense of the word, were, among the socialist ranks, not those who approved of the NEP, but those who opposed it. Because the latter would have sacrificed the future to the present, whereas the correct meaning of the word opportunism should be to sacrifice the present to the future. The opportunism of Lenin and of Stalin–and of all great strategists–is a step backward in order to take two steps forward. For stupid or frightened people, and also for wavering Socialists who, unconsciously are not, are seeking some sort of loophole, it is two paces back in order to take one pace forward.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 127
LENIN COMPROMISED IN AREAS OTHER THAN THE NEP
The fact remains that the same man [Lenin] who, from 1903 to 1912, had done everything with the forceful obstinacy, which “went beyond” so many of his companions, to divide the Revolutionary Party in two, even though it was being hunted and its ranks decimated by Tsarism–and who acted thus precisely because the party needed its whole strength–has admitted, when this Party was victorious, that he compromised on a great number of points with middle-class methods. If you think that this is contradictory, you are mistaken–for the man in command of the situation was just as right in one case as in the other.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 128
ECONOMIC ADVANCEMENTS IN THE 20’S
Nineteen twenty-seven is an important date because it marks a definite stage in development. It was at this date that the USSR reached the level of pre-war Tsarist economy. The figures of 1927 are in nearly every case higher than those of 1913, in only a few rare instances falling below them.
In general agricultural production the pre-war level was passed by one billion rubles, or about 8%. In industry it was passed by 200 million rubles, representing an increase of 12 percent.
The railways, the length of whose permanent ways, in 1913, on the territory now administered by the USSR, was about 36,500 miles, had increased to about 48,200 miles. For the whole of the former territory of Russia the mean increase in the workers wages was 16.9% over pre-war figures. (Figures arrived at by taking purchasing-power into account)
Educational development had reached sensational proportions. Let us quote a few salient facts. In 1925 there were, in the primary Soviet schools, 2,250,000 more pupils than there had been in the Russian schools in 1913, and there were double as many as there had been in the technical schools. Twice as much money was being spent per head on education, and there were ten times as many scientific institutions.
The national revenue was 22,500,000,000 rubles. As for mechanical energy, the USSR ranked immediately after the United States of America, Canada, England, Germany, and France.
As regards socialization proper. In industrial production, 77 percent of the activity was collectivist, 14 percent private enterprise, and the remainder co-operative. In agricultural production, socialist 2.7%, private 93.3%. In commerce, socialist 81.9%, private 18.1%.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 155
Preparations for the 14th Party Congress (as distinct from the 14th Conference) took place against a background of the first successes in economic and cultural construction. In 1925, gross output of agricultural production was 112 percent of pre-war levels. This was remarkable. The NEP was beginning to bear fruit. Industrial production, which for five years had lain in total ruin, reached three-quarters of its pre-war level. The first new plants had made their appearance, most notably the power stations. And all this when the best foreign economists had predicted that pre-war levels would not be achieved for 15 to 20 years.
Substantial results had also been accomplished in the battle against illiteracy. A network of schools have been established, notably in the national republics. Major steps have been taken to create a system of higher education and a series of important measures were adopted to speed up cultural and educational work. The All-Russian Academy of Sciences was transformed into its All-Union equivalent. By this time works of world repute had been produced by the historians Pokrovsky and Vernadsky, the geneticist Vavilov, the agrobiologist Vilyams, the chemist Zelinsky, the geologists Fersman and Gubkin, the physicist Ioffe, and many other pioneers of Soviet science.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 111
Stalin gives the following remarkable figures of the growth of industry [in his Political Report to the 16th Party Congress]:
“In 1926-27, we had in the whole of industry, both large and small scale, reckoning also flour milling, a gross output of 8641 million pre-war rubles, i.e., 102.5 percent of the pre-war level. The following year we had 122 percent. In 1928-29 we had 142.5 percent and in the current year (1930) (estimated) not less than 180 percent of the pre-war level.”
During the same period the freight carried on the railroads increased by 66 percent. Railway construction increased considerably, likewise bridge construction. The whole commercial turnover doubled. Foreign trade, exports and imports, which in 1927-28 was only 47.9% of the pre-war total, increased to about 80%. The average yearly increase in the national income during the first three years of the Five-year Plan amounted to 15 percent.
These are all figures quoted by Stalin himself and there is no reason to think them materially inaccurate. Foreign observers of the immense activity might have been tempted to estimate the actual success in more rosy terms. Stalin is a stickler for facts, and window-dressing is not a feature of his political life.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 132
STALIN SAYS RESTORATION OF CAPITALISM IS POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF SMALL PRODUCTION
Do the conditions exist in our Soviet country that make the restoration of capitalism possible? Yes, they do exist. That may appear strange, but it is a fact. We have overthrown capitalism, we have established the dictatorship of the proletariat, we are intensely developing our socialist industry and are closely linking it up with peasant economy; but we have not yet torn out the roots of capitalism.
Where are these roots implanted? They are implanted in the system of commodity production, in small production in the towns, and particularly in the villages. As Lenin said, the strength of capitalism lies “in the strength of small production, for unfortunately, small production still survives in a very, very large degree, and small production gives birth to capitalism and to the bourgeoisie, constantly, daily, hourly, spontaneously and on a mass scale.” Hence, since small production is a mass phenomenon, and even a predominant feature of our country, and since it gives birth to capitalism and to a bourgeoisie constantly and on a mass scale, particularly under the conditions of NEP, it is obvious that the conditions do exist which make the restoration of capitalism possible.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 145
OPPOSITION EXAGGERATED THE POWER OF THE CAPITALISTS UNDER NEP
The opposition accused the majority of a “kulak deviation” and called for more pressure to be applied to the capitalist elements in city and country, in contradiction to the basic principles of NEP. With obviously demagogic ends in mind, the opposition greatly exaggerated the development of private capital in the USSR. Volsky, a former Menshevik and functionary of the Supreme Economic Council, who later emigrated from the Soviet Union, tells in his memoirs about the “opposition’s anti-NEP way of thinking.” This was expressed “with particular force in its constant outcries about the domination of private merchant capital. The opposition gave fantastic, inordinately exaggerated figures on the strength and accumulation of this type of private capital. It pointed to the fact that the overwhelming majority (70-80%) of all commercial operations were private but left unmentioned the fact that most of these businesses were tiny, operated by single merchant or tradesman, who did not own a store but hawked merchandise from a table or stand or simply carried it around with him. If these peddlers had not existed, there would have been nothing. A total absence of trade would have prevailed, especially in the rural areas. The opposition kept insisting on the need to subordinate the economy to direction by a plan, “to gather all enterprises into a single system, subjecting them to a single powerful planning center.” [No source given] What this meant concretely they did not explain. The peasant and peasant agriculture were outside the range of vision of the opposition. In contrast, it spoke a great deal about the “dictatorship of industry” and called for rapid and powerful industrialization, although the country did not have the wherewithal to do that…. All of Lenin’s exhortations in his last articles, in particular his warnings against “rushing ahead too rashly and quickly,” his appeals for “better fewer, but better”… were completely disregarded by the opposition.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 130
In the heat of polemics the opposition leaders greatly exaggerated the shortcomings that really existed, thus causing party cadres to protest. Something that existed as a tendency or trend was portrayed as an already completed process.
Also untrue was the opposition’s assertion that the private sector was accumulating at a faster rate than the public sector. In general, the opposition, for obviously demagogic reasons, exaggerated the extent and danger of capitalist development in the Soviet Union….
It is true that the Soviet state was obtaining increased quantities of raw materials and exportable products from the rural areas, but that was beneficial not only to the well-to-do sections in the countryside but to the society as a whole.
Another untrue Opposition claim was that representatives of the bourgeois and non-Communist intelligentsia, who had been drawn into the work of Soviet economic management as specialists, controlled industry and finance to a greater degree than the Bolshevik Party.
…Needless to say, no such process was underway in 1926. The upper strata of Nepman bourgeoisie were not growing together with the top echelons of the party and government. The danger of a transfer of power to the bourgeoisie or kulaks was insignificant.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 164-166
LENIN SUPPORTS CAPITALIST INVESTMENT AND CONCESSIONS
Trade negotiations between the two countries [ Russia and Germany] got underway in early 1921, following Lenin’s invitation to foreign firms to invest in Russia. In May, German industrial executives presented Krasin with a proposal calling for large-scale investments to help rebuild the Soviet economy in exchange for control over some of its key sectors.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 424
Lenin believed that the reconstruction of the Soviet economy required massive engagement of Western capital and know-how, and these he could obtain most readily from Germany.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 426
This aid was given in spite of the Soviet government’s policy, which put all sorts of obstacles in the way of the capitalist firms and ended the concessions as soon as Soviet specialists had assimilated Western technology. The capitalist firms were always in a weak position; they had never before encountered a partner as powerful as a government, and they were thirsty for profits. Along with the Comintern and pro-Communist organizations, these firms played the role of organizers of public opinion in favor of the Soviet Union. When Standard Oil decided to build an oil refinery in Batum, a top public relations expert was sent to persuade public opinion that a socialist country was a state like any other. Without knowing a word of Russian, this representative of Rockefeller’s knew everything after several days: The Russians (he always talked about the Russians, not the Soviets) are OK! That’s why the United States ought to recognize the Soviet Union and extend credit to it.
… He [Armand Hammer] brought with him a freightcar full of drugs and medicines as a gift to the Soviet government. He met with Lenin, who was drawn to the enterprising young American. Lenin advised him to assume management of Alapaevsky Asbestos Mines on a concessionary basis, and he personally organized the immediate formation of this concession, which ordinarily would have taken months. Hammer did not limit himself to the first million he earned from the asbestos concession…. He took out a concession on the production of pencils and pens. In 1926 his factory produced 100 million pencils and made enormous profits, which he used to buy Russian works of art. Unlike all the other concessionaires, Hammer was able to convert his revenues to dollars. His example was infectious. He served as an intermediary in the conclusion of an agreement between the Soviet government and Henry Ford, an ardent enemy of the Communists. The American Consolidated Company (50% of the capital was Hammer’s; the other 50% was the Soviet government’s) conducted the affairs of “three dozen American firms” trading with the Soviet Union. The phenomenal successes of Armand Hammer, who made millions in the Soviet Union, could not fail to entice other capitalists.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 214
And the regime was currently paying a lot in hard currency to entice foreign capitalists, managers, and engineers to come to Russia and work on industrial projects–some of them undoubtedly to replace Russian managers and engineers….
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 337
THREE KINDS OF PEASANTS
[Footnote]: The peasantry was divided into these three groups by the following rule of thumb method: ‘Strong’ farmers who hired labor were classed as kulaks. Those who had their small holdings but also hired themselves as laborers were regarded as poor peasants (byedniaks). The middle peasant (serednyak) was the self-supporting smallholder, who neither employed laborers nor hired his labor to others.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 301
The cleavages in the peasantry were less marked but no less real. The muzhiks had benefited from the agrarian upheavals and from NEP in unequal degrees. The middle layer of the peasantry was strengthened. There were many more small-holders now, more seredniaks, who lived on the yield of their land, without having to work on the land of wealthier farmers and without employing labor on their own farms. Of every 10 presents three or four belonged to this category. One or perhaps two were kulaks employing hired labor, enlarging their farms, and trading with the town. Five out of the 10 were poor peasants, bednyaks, who had carved out for themselves a few acres from the landlords’ estates but only rarely possessed a horse or farm tools. They hired the horse and the tools from the kulak, from whom they also bought seed or food and borrowed money. To pay the debt, the bednyak worked on the kulak’s field or let out to him part of his own tiny plot.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 225
LENIN KNOWS HE NEEDS PEASANT SUPPORT BUT HE CAN ALSO TAKE BACK THE LAND
Lenin was calm because he alone knew that without the support of the peasantry he could not retain power, and that as long as he had power, he could easily take back what he had given and what he had promised.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 44
Straight off, the government confirmed the wholesale confiscation of squires’ land by the peasants and authorized their village committees to divide up the estates. The peasants’ settlement was of their own making; they had never supported state ownership and a general redistribution: their traditional view, which had a good foundation in history, was that the squires, originally put over them as officials, should be driven out and that each estate should revert to the neighboring village community. This they had proceeded to carry out, sometimes setting fire to the manor to remove any inducement to the squire to return. This was the “Black Partition” of which they had always dreamed. Having taken the land, the peasants squatted on it, and this was sure to complicate any later government plan of universal distribution.
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 109
The peasants form 85 percent of the Russian population and they had become the owners of the land. That was the greatest achievement of the Revolution. Through the increase in the population and for other reasons, agricultural produce increased from 10 to 25 millions within 10 years. But the export of grain, which was the leading feature of Russian international commerce before the war, now dwindled to relatively small proportions because the peasant decided to use the grain for himself and his family. He was now feeding much better than under the old regime, when the export was artificially increased by keeping the peasant on small rations. In the year 1927 it was necessary actually to import grain into Russia.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 365
PEASANTS ARE THE BULK OF THE POPULATION
The main object of this all-out offensive [the industrialization during the First 5 Yr. Plan]–and its main victim–was the peasantry, that is, the overwhelming majority of the population.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 232
Socialist revolution made its first, immense conquests not in the advanced West but in the backward East, in countries, where not the industrial workers but the peasants predominated. Its immediate task was not to establish socialism but to initiate “primitive socialist accumulation.”
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 514
TROTSKY DENIES DISCOUNTING THE PEASANTRY’ KEY ROLE
Later, in 1923, a stupid legend was invented to the effect that I “underestimated” the peasantry. As a matter of fact, from 1918 to 1921, I had to deal with the problems of rural life more closely and directly than anyone else, because the army was being raised chiefly from among the peasants, and carried on its work in constant touch with peasant life.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 436
BAZHANOV SAYS MARX ERRED IN DOWNPLAYING THE PEASANT ROLE IN REVOLUTION
Marx had absolutely not foreseen social revolution in Russia, where 85 percent of the population consisted of peasants and small landowners, and labor constituted just over 1%. (The official history of the Soviet Communist Party, volume four, page 8, 1970, gave the 1921 Russian population as 134,200,000, of which industrial workers were only 1,400,000.)
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 84
POPULATION OF THE SU INCREASED GREATLY BETWEEN 1918 AND 1922
[In 1940 we can say] the Soviets have survived 22 terrible years. Despite civil wars, despite two major famines, the population has increased by 23 million people since 1918, and is increasing now at the rate of almost 3 million per year. In a generation, in other words, the Soviet Union, in its present borders, will contain 200 million people.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 562
LENIN ATTACKED STALIN ON THE GEORGIAN NATIONALITIES ISSUE BUT STALIN WAS RIGHT
Another reason for Lenin’s dissatisfaction with Stalin was Stalin’s handling of a nationalist movement in his native Georgia led by an old Party member, Mdivani. Stalin felt that Mdivani’s group had bourgeois nationalist tendencies. He handled them, as one of them complained, “with the heavy club of the Center’s authority.” Lenin argued that in matters involving the national question one should always tread carefully, avoiding the “Russian frame of mind,” and: “In this case it is better to overdo rather than underdo the concessions and leniency towards the national minorities.” He sent a note to Mdivani and others: “I am following your case with all my heart. I am indignant over Ordjonikidze’s rudeness and the connivance of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky. I am preparing for you notes and a speech.” He asked Trotsky to intervene and take matters out of Stalin’s hands: “It is my earnest request that you should undertake the defense of the Georgian case in the Party [Central Committee]. This case is now under ‘persecution’ by Stalin and Dzerzhinsky, and I cannot rely on their impartiality.”
In December 1926, under attack by Trotsky, Stalin admitted that Lenin had “rebuked me for conducting too severe an organizational policy towards the Georgian semi-nationalists, semi-Communists of the type of Mdivani.” But he [Stalin] stuck to his original position:
“Subsequent events showed that the “deviationists” were a degenerating faction of the most arrant opportunism. Let Trotsky prove that this is not so. Lenin was not aware of these facts, and could not be aware of them, because he was ill in bed and had no opportunity to follow events.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 50
Looking back on events at the time and their subsequent history it appears that Stalin was right and Lenin wrong on these matters, including that of the Mdivani group. They were apparently a bourgeois nationalist faction in the Communist Party of Georgia; in 1928 Mdivani was expelled. Furthermore, even if Lenin had been right, his actions cannot be condoned. If he was in disagreement with Stalin, he should have taken the matter up officially with the Central Committee or Politburo and not attempted to undermine the position of the Party Secretary. He seems to have become convinced that Stalin’s method of work would harm the Party; but he was also disturbed by Trotsky’s “excessive self-assurance” and “non-Bolshevism,” both of which he noted in his testament.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 52
In February 1923, too, Lenin went still more deeply into the Georgian affair. The Politburo had meanwhile, without his knowledge, again condemned the Georgian Communists and acquitted Ordjonikidze and Stalin. Lenin’s secretary Fotieva let Lenin know of this debate and he asked for the papers. Stalin said he could not have them without the Politburo’s permission and this would be taxing Lenin with ‘day-to-day details’. Lenin was angry and insisted on having them. Stalin therefore asked without success to be relieved of the supervision of the invalid.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 102
TROTSKY REFUSES TO HELP LENIN CRITICIZE STALIN ON THE GEORGIAN QUESTION
I have discussed above the extremely harsh statements and letters in which Lenin condemned Stalin’s position on the national question in general and, more specifically, in regard to Georgia. Lenin wanted to raise these questions at the 12th Party Congress, but, fearing that he would not be able to take part in the congress, asked Trotsky in writing to take on this task. Lenin sent his request to Trotsky through Fotieva, one of his secretaries in Gorky.
Trotsky admits, and most historians agree with him, that had he fulfilled Lenin’s request and spoken at the congress on the national question, making public all of Lenin’s documents and letters, including those which Lenin had planned to give him through Fotieva, then any discussion on this question would have ended in Stalin’s political defeat, and Stalin’s election as general secretary would have become very difficult. Nevertheless, Trotsky refused to fulfill Lenin’s request, leaving the Georgian delegation without any support. Lenin’s last written document concerned solidarity with this delegation.
Trotsky called Lenin’s secretariat and refused to fulfill Lenin’s request, pleading illness.
Trotsky voluntarily let pass an important and, as later became evident, the most realistic chance to weaken Stalin’s position and that of the triumph over it as a whole. Of course, Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Stalin were satisfied.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 113-114
When on 5 March 1923 Lenin asked him [Trotsky] to “take on the defense of the Georgian affair at the Central Committee,” since he could not rely on the impartiality of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky, Trotsky refused on the grounds of ill health. Perhaps he wanted to avoid worsening his relations with Stalin, or already regarded Lenin’s wishes as whims. In either case, he would not carry out the last wish of his leader.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 256
STALIN INTERVENED TO PREVENT LENIN FROM GIVING GEORGIA TO THE TURKS
[Footnote on page 307]: “Take little Georgia,” said my father. “In 1919 Lenin agreed to let Kemal Ataturk have Turkestan, with Georgia as a bonus. Just think! The Caucasians had fought for thousands of years to win their independence and now, with a stroke of the pen, history was to be altered. Heaven be praised, Stalin intervened to dissuade Lenin and that was a good deed.”
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 14
TIKHON IS INNOCENT
April 9, 1923–the trial of the patriarch Tikhon. Regarding the first charge, it is true that he authorized the Archbishop of Tobolsk to administer the last sacrament to the czar; that is all.
Regarding the second, he did, with the approval of the Soviet authorities, send a delegate to Karlovitz, but with no instructions to vote for the anti-Soviet resolutions. Indeed, he publicly disavowed them on learning that he had done so.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 64
On the other hand, some of his [Tikhon] proclamations, especially in the early years of the revolution, were more or less directly critical of the Bolshevik regime,….
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 65
TIKHON IS SUBVERSIVE
The All Russian Church Council defrocked patriarch Tikhon today.
The resolution reads: “inasmuch as the Soviet government is the only one in the whole world fighting capitalism, which is one of the seven deadly sins, therefore its struggle is a sacred struggle. The council condemns the counter revolutionary acts of Tikhon and his adherents, lifts the band of ex-communication he laid on the Soviet government, and brands him as a traitor to the church and to Russia.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 67
TIKHON AND CHURCH ACCEPTED SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
After the issue in 1922 of the famous manifesto of the Patriarch Tikhon there was a diminution of the struggle. In that manifesto the first post-revolution Patriarch recognized the regime, was reconciled with it, and ordered the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church to include the Government in their prayers, as they had included the Tsar and the royal family in the past. Needless to say, the clergy of all confessions were disfranchised. The law separating Church and State, and the exclusion of the Church from public life, remained in force; but on the whole the Church was left in peace from 1922 to 1928.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 168