Lenin demanded Stalin's removal : notes of a liquidator

Jj Plant jplant at cix.compulink.co.uk
Wed Oct 2 15:50:00 MDT 1996

In-Reply-To: <199610020256.DAA07915 at easynet.co.uk>
Adolfo writes :

Everybody knows of Lenin's recommendations to "find some one EVEN
better than Stalin" for the post of General Secretary.

1. If 'everybody knows' of Lenin's testament it is because of Trotsky
and the Left Opposition bringing it to their attention.

2. Adolfo's use of quotation marks may be confusing. Here is what
Lenin dictated :

"Stalin is too rude, and this defect, although quite tolerable in our
midst and in dealings among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a
general secretary. That is why I suggest that the comrades think
about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another
man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade
Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more
tolerant, more loyal, more polite, and more considerate to the
comrades, less capricious etc. This circumstance may appear to be a
negligible detail. But I think that from the standpoint of safeguards
against a split and from the standpoint of what I wrote above (ie the
main body of the 'testament', - jjp) about the relationship between
Stalin and Trotsky it is not a detail, or it is a detail which can
assume decisive importance."

Any fair-minded reader will agree that "find some one EVEN better
than Stalin" was never part of Lenin's approach to the question.

Adolfo resumes :

"While recognising and underlining Stalin's most excellent qualities
and merits, Lenin wanted someone who was more polite and tractable
WHILE STILL HAVING STALIN'S GREAT (and, in a revolutionary leader,
much more important) QUALITIES."

Here then is what else Lenin wrote about Stalin in the testament :

"Comrade Stalin, having become general secretary, has unlimited
authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure whether he
will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient

The fair-minded reader will search the testament in vain for
reference by Lenin to "Stalin's most excellent qualities and merits".
The only crumb of comfort for the Stalinist in the testament is a
reference to "the two outstanding leaders of the present CC" - by
which he meant Stalin and Trotsky.

Adolfo asks :

"Or does Mr. Plant prefer to read Lenin's words so selectively
that he ignores the praise that he places on Stalin, while berating
him for his rudeness."

A fair question, even if phrased so as to presume its own answer. I
prefer to read the texts as they exist. I prefer too those who want
them published over those who suppress them.

In order to affect a fair evaluation of Lenin's estimation of Stalin
in the final year of his life I suggest that you propose some
selections from Lenin yourself that support your position. Simply
list the references ; don't retype large amounts of text. If you
agree to such a presentation of evidence, I will undertake to
assemble the reference to matters such as Lenin's condemnation of
Stalin's treatment of the Georgian Communists, Lenin's threat to
break off relations with Stalin over his use of offensive language to
Krupskaya, reorganising the Gosplan etc. I will also provide
references to differences in the texts of Lenin's documents as
between the translations published by the Trotskyists and the corrupt
texts published by Moscow 30 years after the event. We can agree
between us a timetable for preparing our references, and the
fair-minded readers on this list can evaluate the material proposed.
At that stage we can undertake any retyping or scanning that may be
needed. Such an arrangement would permit you also to present
additional material on the 'socialism in one country' question - such
as the speech of 20 November 1922. Of course this presentation of
material need not be conducted as a 'duel' between the two of us.
Other list subscribers would be free to contribute references to
suitable study materials. And you and I together would prepare the
final list from all the suggestions.

Adolfo continues :

"However, the PARTY did not find anyone better and decided to
retain Stalin.  That is called democratic centralism."

And when, pray, was Lenin's suggestion put to the Party for its
consideration ? Allow me to quote from "Lenin's political testament",
by the Russian historian Evgeni Plimak (Progress Pubs 1988), for a
fair-minded view on this question.

"Lenin's last works can roughly be divided into two parts.(They
essentially form an integral whole.) They are his articles intended
for the pres and published in Pravda while he was still alive, and
his letters to the Party congress. Delegates to the 13th RCP(B)
Congress, held after Lenin's death in 1924, were acquainted with the
letters. However, the letters were read within the various
delegations ; the Party's leadership did not leave time for a serious
discussion of them which, among other crucial matters, posed a
question that was of vital importance to the Party - Joseph Stalin's
transfer from the post of General Secretary (Lenin's dictation of
January 4, 1923). The 15th Party Congress held in 1927 returned to
Lenin's letters. It adopted an important decisions : to append
Lenin's "Letter to the Congress" (dictation of December 24 - 25,
1922, and January 4, 1923) to the verbatim report of the congress,
and publish in 'Lenin Miscellany' these transcriptions and other
letters Lenin wrote on internal Party matters. Hence Lenin's
transcriptions were printed in Bulletin No 30 of the 15th Congress.
The second part of the decision adopted by the 15th Congress was not
carried out during the period of Stalin's personality cult - Lenin's
letters on internal Party issues were not printed in the 'Lenin
Miscellany' or any other publication. Lenin's most important
documents were thus concealed from the Party and the people, and
subsequently the people who did discuss them were dealt with

Does that correspond to your conception of 'democratic centralism'
Adolfo ?

Adolfo concludes :

"The concept that Mr. Plant expresses in relation to this incident
reflects his misconceptions regarding the nature of a communist
party, and the relationship between the Party and the leaders within
a communist Party."

It is, unfortunately, far from clear to me what you mean by this
section. I should be grateful if you would expand on it a little.

jplant at cix.compulink.co.uk

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