The origin of the degeneration thread?

Chris Burford 100423.2040 at
Sat Sep 21 02:32:17 MDT 1996

I am interested in Vladimir and John clarifying the meaning
to Trotskyists of "degeneration" of bolsheviks. This appears to be
central to the split between Stalin and Trotsky, which became
publically antagonistic in December 1923.

As late as 2nd Dec 1923, a speech by Stalin published on 6th Dec
in Pravda refers to Trotsky is comradely terms. An article by Stalin
published by Pravda on 15th December is the opening of the
conflict: "The Discussion, Rafail, the Articles by Preobrazhensky and
Sapronov, and Trotsky's Letter." Stalin comes to Trotsky last.

He denounces a letter issued by Trotsky "the other day" to the Party
conferences "which cannot be interpreted otherwise than as an attempt
to weaken the will of the Party membership for unity in supporting the
Central Committee and its position." Stalin accuses Trotsky of thereby
failing to support a resolution of the Central Committee
and the Central Control Commission on internal Party Democracy published
on December 7th, which was adopted unanimously, including with
Trotsky's vote.

Stalin quotes a passage from Trotsky's letter and criticises it
severely in a way likely to enhance the opposition of the party
cadre to Trotsky. This line of demarcation would fit with
the subsequent history, with Trotsky losing Party votes on increasingly
serious charges.

The passage from Trotsky's letter quoted by Stalin starts:

"The degeneration of the 'old guard' has been observed in history
more than once.  ...

Does anyone have the date and the full text of the letter by
Trotsky? Could it be typed into this mailing list, and be available
for archival reference, or at least a large part of it?

Chris Burford


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