Stalin on Deficiencies in Party Work

Iosif Stalin, On Deficiencies in Party Work and Measures for Liquidating Trotskyites and other Double-dealers. March 29, 1937

 

Original Source: Pravda, 29 March 1937.

Comrades!

From the reports and the discussions of them at the plenary session [of the Central Committee], it is obvious that we have here a matter involving three basic facts.

First, the wrecking and diversionist-espionage work of the agents of foreign states, among whom the Trotskyites have played a rather active role, has touched to this or to that extent all or almost all of our organizations, both economic and administrative or party.

Second, the agents of foreign states, including Trotskyites, have penetrated not only into our lower organizations but also into some of the responsible positions.

Third, some of our leading comrades, both at the center and in outlying regions, have not only been unable to see the real face of these wreckers, diversionists, spies, and murderers but have proven to be careless, indifferent, and naive about it, and not infrequently they have cooperated in promoting the agents of foreign states into this or that responsible position.

Such are the three indisputable facts which naturally follow from the reports and discussion on them.

How is one to explain that our leading comrades, who have rich experience in the struggle with all kinds of antiparty and anti-, unable to recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing, unable to unmask them?

Can we say that the wrecking and diversionist-espionage work of the agents of foreign states on the territory of the USSR is something unexpected and unprecedented for us? No, we cannot say this …

Can we say that of late we have had no warning signals or advance indications concerning the wrecking, espionage, or terrorist activities of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite agents of fascism? No, we cannot say this …

How can one explain that our party comrades, despite their rich experience in the struggle with anti-soviet elements, despite a whole series of warning signals and advance indications, have proven politically near-sighted in the face of the wrecking and espionage-diversionist work of the enemies of the people? …

The point is this, that our party comrades, having been wholly absorbed in the economic campaigns and the colossal successes on the economic construction front, simply forgot some very important facts that Bolsheviks have no right to forget …

They forgot that Soviet power has conquered only in one-sixth of the earth, that five-sixths of the earth remains in the possession of capitalist states. They forgot that the Soviet Union finds itself in the circumstances of capitalist encirclement …

Capitalist encirclement-this is not an empty phrase but a very real and disagreeable reality. Capitalist encirclement-this means that there is one country, the Soviet Union that by itself established a socialist order and this means that outside of this there are many countries, bourgeois countries, which continue to lead the capitalist order of life and which surround the Soviet Union, awaiting an opportunity to fall on it, to smash it, or in any case to undermine its power and to weaken it …

Further, while struggling with Trotskyite agents, our party comrades did not notice, they overlooked that present-day Trotskyism is not what it was, say, seven or eight years ago, that Trotskyism and Trotskyites in this period underwent a major evolution, which has radically changed the face of Trotskyism, and that in view of this the struggle with Trotskyism and the methods of the struggle with it must be changed radically. Our party comrades have not noticed that Trotskyism has ceased to be a political tendency in the working class, that from a political tendency in the working class, which it was seven or eight years ago, Trotskyism has changed into a frantic and unprincipled band of wreckers, diversionists, spies, and murderers, acting tinder the orders of the intelligence organs of foreign states …

In the trial in 1936, if you recall, Kamenev and Zinoviev definitely denied that they had any political platform. They had every chance to disclose to the court their political platform. However they did not do this, declaring that they had no platform. There can be no doubt that they both lied in denying that they had a platform. Now even the blind can see that they had a political platform. But why did they deny that they had a political platform? Because they feared to uncover their vile political character, they feared to show their real platform of restoring capitalism in the USSR, fearing that such a platform would arouse the disgust of the working class.

In the trial in 1937, Piatakov, Radek, and Sokolnikov took another course. They did not deny that the Trotskyites, and Zinovievites had a political platform. They admitted that they had a political platform, admitted it and disclosed it in their testimony. They disclosed it not to summon the working class, to summon the people, to support the Trotskyite platform but to condemn and stigmatize it as an anti-popular and anti-proletarian platform. The restoration of capitalism, the liquidation of kolkhozes and sovkhozes, the establishment of a system of exploitation, the alliance with the fascist forces of Germany and Japan to bring closer a war with the Soviet Union, the struggle for war and against the policy of peace, the territorial dismemberment of the Soviet Union with the award of the Ukraine to the Germans and the Maritime region [including Vladivostok-ed.] to the Japanese, the preparation of the military defeat of the Soviet Union in case of attack by hostile states, and, as a means of achieving these ends, the wrecking, diversion, individual terrorism against the leaders of the Soviet state, espionage on behalf of the Japanese-German forces-such was the platform of present-day Trotskyism disclosed by Piatakov, Radek, and Sokolnikov …

What do we need to do?

It is necessary to realize the following measures.

1. First of all it is necessary to turn the attention of our party comrades who are absorbed with “current questions” from the line of this or that department to the side of the major political questions of an international or domestic character.

2. It is necessary to raise the political work of our party to the required level, giving the leading position to the task of the political enlightenment and Bolshevik hardening of party, Soviet, and economic cadres.

3. It is necessary to make it clear to our party comrades that economic successes, the significance of which is indisputably very great and which we will henceforth achieve day by day and year by year-that all this does not exhaust the whole matter of our socialist construction …

4. It is necessary to remember and never to forget that capitalist encirclement is a basic fact which defines the international situation of the Soviet Union.

To remember and never forget that while there is capitalist encirclement there will be wreckers, diversionists, spies, terrorists who have been dispatched into the rear areas of the Soviet Union by the intelligence organs of foreign states …

5. It is necessary to make clear to our party comrades that the Trotskyites, who represent an active element in the diversionist-wrecker and espionage work of foreign intelligence organs, have long since ceased to be a political tendency in the working class, that they have long since ceased to serve any ideal corresponding to the interests of the working class, that they have changed into an unprincipled and unidealistic band of wreckers, diversionists, spies, murderers, who are working as hirelings of foreign intelligence organs …

6. It is necessary to make clear to our party comrades the difference between the contemporary wreckers and the wreckers of the Shakhty period, to make it clear that while the wreckers of the Shakhty period deceived our people in technical matters, making use of their technical backwardness, the contemporary wreckers, who have party membership cards, deceive our people by obtaining their confidence as members of the party, making use of the political carelessness of our people …

7. It is necessary to smash and throw out the rotten theory that, with each forward movement that we make, the class struggle will die down more and more, that in proportion to our successes the class enemy will become more and more tame. This is not only a rotten theory but also a dangerous theory, for it lulls our people, leads them into a trap, and gives the class enemy a chance to prepare for struggle with the Soviet government.

On the contrary, the more we advance, the more successes we have, then the more wrathful will become the remnants of the defeated exploiting classes, the more quickly they turn to sharper forms of struggle, the more damage they do the Soviet state, the more they seize upon the most desperate means of struggle as the last resort of the doomed …

8. It is necessary to smash and throw out another rotten theory which states that a person who does not always wreck things and who sometimes, if you please, is successful cannot be a wrecker.

This strange theory shows the naivet» of its authors. Not a single wrecker wrecks things all the time, if he does not wish to be exposed in the shortest possible time. On the contrary, contemporary wreckers must from time to time show successes in their work …

9. It is necessary to smash and throw out a third rotten theory, which states that the systematic fulfillment of economic plans must nullify wrecking and the results of wrecking …

10. It is necessary to smash and throw out a fourth rotten theory, which states that the Stakhanovite movement is supposedly a basic means for struggle against wrecking …

11. It is necessary to smash and throw out a fifth rotten theory, which states that the Trotskyite wreckers supposedly have no more reserves, that they have supposedly come to their last cadres …

12. Finally, it is necessary to smash and throw out one more rotten theory, which states that, while we Bolsheviks are many and the wreckers few, while tens of millions of people support us Bolsheviks and only individuals or tens the Trotskyite wreckers, it is perhaps unnecessary for we Bolsheviks to turn our attention to some handful of wreckers …

Such are the measures that are necessary to liquidate these deficiencies.

Source: Robert H. McNeal, ed., Lenin. Stalin. Khrushchev. Voices of Bolshevism (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1963), pp. 107-112.

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