The origin of the degeneration thread?

Jj Plant jplant at
Sat Sep 21 14:33:00 MDT 1996

In-Reply-To: <960921083217_100423.2040_JHU65-1 at CompuServe.COM>
Chris, many thanks for reminding me about the Stalin article. I had completely
forgotten about it. Yet more material I have to read again.

Stalin's quote seems to be from Trotsky's book "The New Course", which is in
print in the collection "The Challenge of the Left Opposition" - hereinafter
CLO -  Vol 1 Pathfinder Press (pp 125-126). The book appeared first as a series
of articles in Pravda during December 1923. The Pathfinder translation differs
a little from the version in the Stalin Vol 5 1975 edition, (is that the one
you used Chris ?). I will  retype the relevant section for the list later, to
permit comparisons to be made, but I do not have the time to retype the whole
book. I think there may be some sections of it available on the net. I'll
investigate and let the list know.

>As late as 2nd Dec 1923, a speech by Stalin published on 6th Dec in Pravda
refers to Trotsky is comradely terms.

I agree with you that the tone of Stalin's article is very interesting. I think
that it probably masks the heightened political tensions within the leadership
of the party at this time. The usual Trotskyist account of this period dates
the beginning of the public existence of the Left Opposition from October 23,
with Trotsky's 'First letter to the CC'. The occasion for this was
Dzerzhinsky's report seeking additional powers for the GPU to enable it to act
against party members and groups who were acting in support of the strikes and
demonstrations. Trotsky's two letters of this period were not published in
Russia and we still do not have the complete texts. What we have is extracts
and summaries published by the Mensheviks in Berlin. A few days earlier than
Trotsky's first letter the 'Platform of the 46' had appeared, expressing many
concerns and criticisms on party democracy and functioning, as well as on
economic matters. Notes in the CLO indicate that the Politbureau reacted
harshly to Trotsky's letters with condemnation of him for campaigning against
the CC and risking splitting the party, but not addressing his criticisms or
those of the 46. I have not seen this Politbureau statement, and should be
interested to know if anybody has access to it. Stalin's letter is clearly much
more carefully written than the Politbureau's condemnation, and could almost be
taken as 'comradely' if read out of context. But in his conclusions Stalin is
very clear about accusing Trotsky of being in a bloc with oppositional
elements, the same as those against whom new GPU powers were being developed.

> 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.

This is the 'New Course Resolution' of 5/12/23. The text is appended to CLO Vol
1. Stalin's article appeared on 15/12/23. I wonder what was the date of the
publication in Pravda of the Trotsky article which Stalin is attacking. I think
the information can be found in Sinclair's Trotsky bibliography. I will try to
track it down. The 'New Course Resolution' can be interpreted as making some
limited concessions to Trotsky and the 46 on the issue of party democracy.

PS Nothing was written here to mark the 70th anniversary of the death of
Dzerzhinsky, which fell in July this year. I had intended to post a (very
rough) translation of Trotsky's obituary statement and of one of Dzerzhinsky's
poems. It got overtaken by events. I will find some occasion to complete the
work and make it available.

jplant at

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