The Struggle Against the Youth

The Struggle Against the Youth

by Leon Trotsky

[Excerpted from The Revolution Betrayed, 1936, Copied from ]

Every revolutionary party finds its chief support in the younger generation of the rising class. Political decay expresses itself in a loss of ability to attract the youth under one’s banner. The parties of bourgeois democracy, in withdrawing one after another from the scene, are compelled to turn over the young either to revolution or fascism. Bolshevism when underground was always a party of young workers. The Mensheviks relied upon the more respectable skilled upper stratum of the working class, always prided themselves on it, and looked down upon the Bolsheviks. Subsequent events harshly showed them their mistake. At the decisive moment the youth carried with them the more mature stratum and even the old folks.

The revolution gave a mighty historical impulse to the new Soviet generation. It cut them free at one blow from conservative forms of life, and exposed to them the great secret – the first secret of the dialectic – that there is nothing unchanging on this earth, and that society is made out of plastic materials. How stupid is the theory of unchanging racial types in the light of the events of our epoch ! The Soviet Union is an immense melting pot in which the characters of dozens of nationalities are being mixed. The mysticism of the “Slavic soul” is coming off like scum.

But the impulse given to the younger generation has not yet found expression in a corresponding historic enterprise. To be sure, the youth are very active in the sphere of economics. In the Soviet Union there are 7,000,000 workers under twenty-three – 3,140,000 in industry, 700,000 in the railroads, 700,000 in the building trades. In the new giant factories, about half the workers are young. There are now 1,200,000 Communist Youth in the collective farms. Hundreds of thousands of members of the Communist Youth have been mobilized during recent years for construction work, timber work, coal mining, gold production, for work in the Arctic, Sakhalin, or in Amur where the new town of Komsomolsk is in process of construction. The new generation is putting out shock brigades, champion workers, Stakhanovists, foremen, under-administrators. The youth are studying, and a considerable part of them are studying assiduously. They are as active, if not more so, in the sphere of athletics in its most daring or warlike forms, such as parachute jumping and marksmanship. The enterprising and audacious are going on all kinds of dangerous expeditions.

“The better part of our youth,” said recently the well-known polar explorer, Schmidt, “are eager to work where difficulties await them.” This is undoubtedly true. But in all spheres the post-revolutionary generation is still under guardianship. They are told from above what to do, and how to do it. Politics, as the highest form of command, remains wholly in the hands of the so-called “Old Guard”, and in all the ardent and frequently flattering speeches they address to the youth the old boys are vigilantly defending their own monopoly.

Not conceiving of the development of a socialist society without the dying away of the state that is, without the replacement of all kinds of police oppression by the self-administration of educated producers and consumers – Engels laid tile accomplishment of this task upon the younger generation, “who will grow up in new, free social conditions, and will be in a position to cast away all this rubbish of state-ism.” Lenin adds on his part: “… every kind of state-ism, the democratic-republican included.” The prospect of the construction of a socialist society stood, then, in the mind of Engels and Lenin approximately thus: The generation which conquered the power, the “Old Guard”, will begin the work of liquidating the state; the next generation will complete it.

How do things stand in reality? Forty-three per cent of the population of the Soviet Union were born after the October revolution. If you take the age of twenty-three as the boundary between the two generations, then over 50 per cent of Soviet humanity has not yet reached this boundary. A big half of the population of the country, consequently, knows nothing by personal recollection of any regime except that of the Soviets. But it is just this new generation which is forming itself, not in “free social conditions,” as Engels conceived it, but under intolerable and constantly increasing oppression from the ruling stratum composed of those same ones who – according to the official fiction – achieved the great revolution. In the factory, the collective farm, the barracks, the university, the schoolroom, even in the kindergarten, if not in the creche, the chief glory of man is declared to be: personal loyalty to the leader and unconditional obedience. Many pedagogical aphorisms and maxims of recent times might seem to have been copied from Goebbels, if he himself had not copied them in good part from the collaborators of Stalin.

The school and the social life of the student are saturated with formalism and hypocrisy. The children have learned to sit through innumerable deadly dull meetings, with their inevitable honorary presidium, their chants in honor of the dear leaders, their predigested righteous debates in which, quite in the manner of their elders, they say one thing and think another. The most innocent groups of school children who try to create oases in this desert of officiousness are met with fierce measures of repression. Through its agentry the GPU introduces the sickening corruption of treachery and tale-bearing into the so-called “socialist schools.” The more thoughtful teachers and children’s writers, in spite of the enforced optimism, cannot always conceal their horror in the presence of this spirit of repression, falsity and boredom which is killing school life. Having no experience of class struggle and revolution, the new generations could have ripened for independent participation in the social life of the country only in conditions of soviet democracy, only by consciously working over the experience of the past and the lessons of the present. Independent character like independent thought cannot develop without criticism. The Soviet youth, however, are simply denied the elementary opportunity to exchange thoughts, make mistakes and try out and correct mistakes, their own as well as others’. All questions, including their very own, are decided for them. Theirs only to carry out the decision and sing the glory of those who made it. To every word of criticism, the bureaucracy answers with a twist of the neck. All who are outstanding and unsubmissive in the ranks of the young are systematically destroyed, suppressed or physically exterminated. This explains the fact that out of the millions upon millions of Communist youth there has not emerged a single big figure.

In throwing themselves into engineering, science, literature, sport or chess playing, the youth are, so to speak, winning their spurs for future great action. In all these spheres they compete with the badly prepared older generation, and often equal and best them. But at every contact with politics they burn their fingers. They have, thus, but three possibilities open to them: participate in the bureaucracy and make a career; submit silently to oppression, retire into economic work, science or their own petty personal affairs; or, finally, go underground and Iearn to struggle and temper their character for the future. The road of the bureaucratic career is accessible only to a small minority. At the other pole a small minority enter the ranks of the Opposition. The middle group, the overwhelming mass, is in turn very heterogeneous. But in it, under the iron press, extremely significant although hidden processes arc at work which will to a great extent determine the future of the Soviet Union.

The ascetic tendencies of the epoch of the civil war gave way in the period of the NEP to a more epicurean, not to say avid, mood. The first five-year plan again became a time of involuntary asceticism – but now only for the masses and the youth. The ruling stratum had firmly dug themselves in in positions of personal prosperity. The second five-year plan is undoubtedly accompanied by a sharp reaction against asceticism. A concern for personal advancement has seized upon broad circles of the population, especially the young. The fact is, however, that in the new Soviet generation well-being and prosperity arc accessible only to that thin layer who manage to rise above the mass and one way or another accommodate themselves to the ruling stratum. The bureaucracy on its side is consciously developing and sorting out machine politicians and careerists.

Said the chief speaker at a Congress of the Communist Youth (April 1936): “Greed for profits, philistine pettiness and base egotism are not the attributes of Soviet youth.” These words sound sharply discordant with the reigning slogans of a “prosperous and handsome life,” with the methods of piecework, premiums and decorations. Socialism is not ascetic; on the contrary, it is deeply hostile to the asceticism of Christianity. It is deeply hostile, in its adherence to this world, and this only, to all religion. But socialism has its gradations of earthly values. Human personality begins for socialism not with the concern for a prosperous life, but on the contrary with the cessation of this concern. However, no generation can jump over its own head. The whole Stakhanov movement is for the present built upon “base egotism.” The very measures of success – the number of trousers and neckties earned – testifies to nothing but “philistine pettiness.” Suppose that this historic stage is unavoidable. All right. It is still necessary to see it as it is. The restoration of market relations opens an indubitable opportunity for a considerable rise of personal prosperity. The broad trend of the Soviet youth toward the engineering profession is explained, not so much by the allurements of socialist construction, as by the fact that engineers earn incomparably more than physicians or teachers. When such tendencies arise in circumstances of intellectual oppression and ideological reaction, and with a conscious unleashing from above of careerist instincts, then the propagation of what is called “socialist culture” often turns out to be education in the spirit of the most extreme antisocial egotism.

Still it would be a crude slander against the youth to portray them as controlled exclusively, or even predominantly, by personal interests. No, in the general mass they are magnanimous, responsive, enterprising. Careerism colors them only from above. In their depths arc various unformulated tendencies grounded in heroism and still only awaiting application. It is upon these moods in particular that the newest kind of Soviet patriotism is nourishing itself. It is undoubtedly very deep, sincere and dynamic. But in this patriotism, too, there is a rift which separates the young from the old.

Healthy young lungs find it intolerable to breathe in the atmosphere of hypocrisy inseparable from a Thermidor – from a reaction, that is, which is still compelled to dress in the garments of revolution. The crying discord between the socialist posters and the reality of life undermines faith in the official canons. A considerable stratum of the youth takes pride in its contempt for politics, in rudeness and debauch. In many cases, and probably a majority, this indifferentism and cynicism is but the initial form of discontent and of a hidden desire to stand up on one’s own feet. The expulsion from the Communist Youth and the party, the arrest and exile, of hundreds of thousands of young “white guards” and “opportunists”, on the one hand, and “Bolshevik-Leninists” on the other, proves that the wellsprings of conscious political opposition, both right and left, are not exhausted. On the contrary, during the last couple of years they have been bubbling with renewed strength. Finally, the more impatient, hot-blooded, unbalanced, injured in their interests and feelings, are turning their thoughts in the direction of terrorist revenge. Such, approximately, is the spectrum of the political moods of the Soviet youth.

The history of individual terror in the Soviet Union clearly marks the stages in the general evolution of the country. At the dawn of the Soviet power, in the atmosphere of the still unfinished civil war, terrorist deeds were perpetrated by white guards or Social Revolutionaries. When the former ruling classes lost hope of a restoration, terrorism also disappeared. The kulak terror, echoes of which have been observed up to very recent times, had always a local character and supplemented the guerrilla warfare against the Soviet regime. As for the latest outburst of terrorism, it does not rest either upon the old ruling classes or upon the kulak. The terrorists of the latest draft are recruited exclusively from among the young, from the ranks of the Communist Youth and the party – not infrequently from the offspring of the ruling stratum. Although completely impotent to solve the problems which it sets itself, this individual terror has nevertheless an extremely important symptomatic significance. It characterizes the sharp contradiction between the bureaucracy and the broad masses of the people, especially the young.

All taken together – economic hazards, parachute jumping, polar expeditions, demonstrative indifferentism, “romantic hooligans”, terroristic mood, and individual acts of terror – are preparing an explosion of the younger generation against the intolerable tutelage of the old. A war would undoubtedly serve as a vent for the accumulating vapors of discontent – but not for long. In a war the youth would soon acquire the necessary fighting temper and the authority which it now so sadly lacks. At the same time the reputation of the majority of “old men” would suffer irremediable damage. At best, a war would give the bureaucracy only a certain moratorium. The ensuing political conflict would be so much the more sharp.

It would be one-sided, of course, to reduce the basic political problem of the Soviet Union to the problem of the two generations. There are many open and hidden foes of the bureaucracy among the old, just as there are hundreds of thousands of perfected yes-men among the young. Nevertheless, from whatever side the attack came against the position of the ruling stratum, from left or right, the attackers would recruit their chief forces among the oppressed and discontented youth deprived of political rights. The bureaucracy admirably understands this. It is in general exquisitely sensitive to everything which threatens its dominant position. Naturally, in trying to consolidate its position in advance, it erects the chief trenches and concrete fortifications against the younger generation.

In April 1936, as we have said, there assembled in the Kremlin the tenth congress of the Communist Youth. Nobody bothered to exclaim, of course, why in violation of its constitution, the congress had not been called for an entire five years. Moreover, it soon became clear that this carefully sifted and selected congress was called at this time exclusively for the purpose of a political expropriation of the youth. According to the new constitution the Communist Youth League is now even juridically deprived of the right to participate in the social life of the country. Its sole sphere henceforth is to be education and cultural training. The General Secretary of the Communist Youth, under orders from above, declared in his speech: “We must … end the chatter about industrial and financial planning, about the lowering, of production costs, economic accounting, crop sowing, and other important state problems as though we were going to decide them.” The whole country might well repeat those last words: “as though we were going, to decide them!” That insolent rebuke: “End the chatter!” welcomed with anything but enthusiasm even by this supersubmissive congress – is the more striking when you remember that the Soviet law defines the age of political maturity as 18 years, giving all electoral rights to young men and women of that age, whereas the age limit for Communist Youth members, according to the old Constitution, was 23 years, and a good third of the members of the organization were in reality older than that. This last congress adopted two simultaneous reforms: It legalized membership in the Communist Youth for people of greater age, thus increasing the number of Communist Youth electors, and at the same time deprived the organization as a whole of the right to intrude into the sphere, not only of general politics – of that there can never be any question! – but of the current problems of economy. The abolition of the former age limit was dictated by the fact that transfer from the Communist Youth into the party, formerly an almost automatic process, has now been made extremely difficult. This annulment of the last remnant of political rights, and even of the appearance of them, was caused by a desire fully and finally to enslave the Communist Youth to the well-purged party. Both measures, obviously contradicting each other, derive nevertheless from the same source: the bureaucracy’s fear of the younger generation.

The speakers at the congress, who according to their own statements were carrying out the express instructions of Stalin – they gave these warnings in order to forestall in advance the very possibility of a debate explained the aim of the reform with astonishing frankness: “We have no need of any second party.” This argument reveals the fact that in the opinion of the ruling circles the Communist Youth League, if it is not decisively strangled, threatens to become a second party. As though on purpose to define these possible tendencies, another speaker warningly declared: “In his time, no other than Trotsky himself attempted to make a demagogic play for the youth, to inspire it with the anti-Leninist, anti-Bolshevik idea of creating a second party, etc.” The speaker’s historic allusion contains an anachronism. In reality, Trotsky “in his time” only gave warning that a further bureaucratization of the regime would inevitably lead to a break with the youth, and produce the danger of a second party. But never mind: the course of events, in confirming that warning, has converted it ipso facto into a program. The degenerating party has kept its attractive power only for careerists. Honest and thinking young men and girls cannot but be nauseated by the Byzantine slavishness, the false rhetoric, concealing privilege and caprice, the braggadocio of mediocre bureaucrats singing praises to each other – at all these marshals who because they can’t catch the stars in heaven have to stick them on their own bodies in various places. [1] Thus it is no longer a question of the “danger” as it was twelve or thirteen years ago of a second party, but of its historic necessity as the sole power capable of further advancing the cause of the October revolution. The change in the constitution of the Communist Youth League, although reinforced with fresh police threats, will not, of course, halt the political maturing of the youth, and will not prevent their hostile clash with the bureaucracy.

Which way will the youth turn in case of a great political disturbance? Under what banner will they assemble their ranks? Nobody can give a sure answer to that question now, least of all the youth themselves. Contradictory tendencies are furrowing their minds. In the last analysis, the alignment of the principal mass will be determined by historic events of world significance, by a war, by new successes of fascism, or, on the contrary, by the victory of the proletarian revolution in the West. In any case the bureaucracy will find out that these youth deprived of rights represent a historic charge with mighty explosive power.

In 1894 the Russian autocracy, through the lips of the young tzar Nicholas II, answered the Zemstvos, which were timidly dreaming of participating in political life, with the famous words: “Meaningless fancies!” In 1936 the Soviet bureaucracy answered the as yet vague claims of the younger generation with the still ruder cry: “Stop your chatter!” Those words, too, will become historic. The regime of Stalin may pay no less dear for them than the regime headed by Nicholas II.

Thermidor in the Family

Thermidor in the Family

by Leon Trotsky

[Excerpt from the book The Revolution Betrayed, 1936. Copied from ]

The October revolution honestly fulfilled its obligations in relation to woman. The young government not only gave her all political and legal rights in equality with man, but, what is more important, did all that it could, and in any case incomparably more than any other government ever did, actually to secure her access to all forms of economic and cultural work. However, the boldest revolution, like the “all-powerful” British parliament, cannot convert a woman into a man – or rather, cannot divide equally between them the burden of pregnancy, birth, nursing and the rearing of children. The revolution made a heroic effort to destroy the so-called “family hearth” – that archaic, stuffy and stagnant institution in which the woman of the toiling classes performs galley labor from childhood to death. The place of the family as a shut-in petty enterprise was to be occupied, according to the plans, by a finished system of social care and accommodation: maternity houses, creches, kindergartens, schools, social dining rooms, social laundries, first-aid stations, hospitals, sanatoria, athletic organizations, moving-picture theaters, etc. The complete absorption of the housekeeping functions of the family by institutions of the socialist society, uniting all generations in solidarity and mutual aid, was to bring to woman, and thereby to the loving couple, a real liberation from the thousand-year-old fetters. Up to now this problem of problems has not been solved. The forty million Soviet families remain in their overwhelming majority nests of medievalism, female slavery and hysteria, daily humiliation of children, feminine and childish superstition. We must permit ourselves no illusions on this account. For that very reason, the consecutive changes in the approach to the problem of the family in the Soviet Union best of all characterize the actual nature of Soviet society and the evolution of its ruling stratum.

It proved impossible to take the old family by storm – not because the will was lacking, and not because the family was so firmly rooted in men’s hearts. On the contrary, after a short period of distrust of the government and its creches, kindergartens and like institutions, the working women, and after them the more advanced peasants, appreciated the immeasurable advantages of the collective care of children as well as the socialization of the whole family economy. Unfortunately society proved too poor and little cultured. The real resources of the state did not correspond to the plans and intentions of the Communist Party. You cannot “abolish” the family; you have to replace it. The actual liberation of women is unrealizable on a basis of “generalized want.” Experience soon proved this austere truth which Marx had formulated eighty years before.

During the lean years, the workers wherever possible, and in part their families, ate in the factory and other social dining rooms, and this fact was officially regarded as a transition to a socialist form of life. There is no need of pausing again upon the peculiarities of the different periods: military communism, the NEP and the first five-year plan. The fact is that from the moment of the abolition of the food-card system in 1935, all the better placed workers began to return to the home dining table. It would be incorrect to regard this retreat as a condemnation of the socialist system, which in general was never tried out. But so much the more withering was the judgment of the workers and their wives upon the “social feeding” organized by the bureaucracy. The same conclusion must be extended to the social laundries, where they tear and steal linen more than they wash it. Back to the family hearth! But home cooking and the home washtub, which are now half shamefacedly celebrated by orators and journalists, mean the return of the workers’ wives to their pots and pans that is, to the old slavery. It is doubtful if the resolution of the Communist International on the “complete and irrevocable triumph of socialism in the Soviet Union” sounds very convincing to the women of the factory districts!

The rural family, bound up not only with home industry but with agriculture, is infinitely more stable and conservative than that of the town. Only a few, and as a general rule, anaemic agricultural communes introduced social dining rooms and creches in the first period. Collectivization, according to the first announcements, was to initiate a decisive change in the sphere of the family. Not for nothing did they expropriate the peasant’s chickens as well as his cows. There was no lack, at any rate, of announcements about the triumphal march of social dining rooms throughout the country. But when the retreat began, reality suddenly emerged from the shadow of this bragging. The peasant gets from the collective farm, as a general rule, only bread for himself and fodder for his stock. Meat, dairy products and vegetables, he gets almost entirely from the adjoining private lots. And once the most important necessities of life are acquired by the isolated efforts of the family, there can no longer be any talk of social dining rooms. Thus the midget farms, creating a new basis for the domestic hearthstone, lay a double burden upon woman.

The total number of steady accommodations in the creches amounted, in 1932, to 600,000, and of seasonal accommodations solely during work in the fields to only about 4,000,000. In 1935 the cots numbered 5,600,000, but the steady ones were still only an insignificant part of the total. Moreover, the existing creches, even in Moscow, Leningrad and other centers, are not satisfactory as a general rule to the least fastidious demands. “A creche in which the child feels worse than he does at home is not a creche but a bad orphan asylum,” complains a leading Soviet newspaper. It is no wonder if the better-placed workers’ families avoid creches. But for the fundamental mass of the toilers, the number even of these “bad orphan asylums” is insignificant. Just recently the Central Executive Committee introduced a resolution that foundlings and orphans should be placed in private hands for bringing up. Through its highest organ, the bureaucratic government thus acknowledged its bankruptcy in relation to the most important socialist function. The number of children in kindergartens rose during the five years 1930-1935 from 370,000 to 1,181,000. The lowness of the figure for 1930 is striking, but the figure for 1935 also seems only a drop in the ocean of Soviet families. A further investigation would undoubtedly show that the principal, and in any case the better part of these kindergartens, appertain to the families of the administration, the technical personnel, the Stakhanovists, etc.

The same Central Executive Committee was not long ago compelled to testify openly that the “resolution on the liquidation of homeless and uncared-for children is being weakly carried out.” What is concealed behind this dispassionate confession? Only by accident, from newspaper remarks printed in small type, do we know that in Moscow more than a thousand children are living in “extraordinarily difficult family conditions”; that in the so-called children’s homes of the capital there are about 1,500 children who have nowhere to go and are turned out into the streets; that during the two autumn months of 1935 in Moscow and Leningrad “7,500 parents were brought to court for leaving their children without supervision.” What good did it do to bring them to court? How many thousand parents have avoided going to court? How many children in “extraordinarily difficult conditions” remained unrecorded? In what do extraordinarily difficult conditions differ from simply difficult ones? Those are the questions which remain unanswered. A vast amount of the homelessness of children, obvious and open as well as disguised, is a direct result of the great social crisis in the course of which the old family continues to dissolve far faster than the new institutions are capable of replacing it.

From these same accidental newspaper remarks and from episodes in the criminal records, the reader may find out about the existence in the Soviet Union of prostitution – that is, the extreme degradation of woman in the interests of men who can pay for it. In the autumn of the past year Izvestia suddenly informed its readers, for example, of the arrest in Moscow of “as many as a thousand women who were secretly selling themselves on the streets of the proletarian capital.” Among those arrested were 177 working women, 92 clerks, 5 university students, etc. What drove them to the sidewalks? Inadequate wages, want, the necessity to “get a little something for a dress, for shoes.” We should vainly seek the approximate dimensions of this social evil. The modest bureaucracy orders the statistician to remain silent. But that enforced silence itself testifies unmistakably to the numerousness of the “class” of Soviet prostitutes. Here there can be essentially no question of “relics of the past”; prostitutes are recruited from the younger generation. No reasonable person, of course, would think of placing special blame for this sore, as old as civilization, upon the Soviet regime. But it is unforgivable in the presence of prostitution to talk about the triumph of socialism. The newspapers assert, to be sure insofar as they are permitted to touch upon this ticklish theme – that “prostitution is decreasing.” It is possible that this is really true by comparison with the years of hunger and decline (1931-1933). But the restoration of money relations which has taken place since then, abolishing all direct rationing, will inevitably lead to a new growth of prostitution as well as of homeless children. Wherever there are privileged there are pariahs !

The mass homelessness of children is undoubtedly the most unmistakable and most tragic symptom of the difficult situation of the mother. On this subject even the optimistic Pravda is sometimes compelled to make a bitter confession: “The birth of a child is for many women a serious menace to their position.” It is just for this reason that the revolutionary power gave women the right to abortion, which in conditions of want and family distress, whatever may be said upon this subject by the eunuchs and old maids of both sexes, is one of her most important civil, political and cultural rights. However, this right of women too, gloomy enough in itself, is under the existing social inequality being converted into a privilege. Bits of information trickling into the press about the practice of abortion are literally shocking. Thus through only one village hospital in one district of the Urals, there passed in 1935 “195 women mutilated by midwives” – among them 33 working women, 28 clerical workers, 65 collective farm women, 58 housewives, etc. This Ural district differs from the majority of other districts only in that information about it happened to get into the press. How many women are mutilated every day throughout the extent of the Soviet Union?

Having revealed its inability to serve women who are compelled to resort to abortion with the necessary medical aid and sanitation, the state makes a sharp change of course, and takes the road of prohibition. And just as in other situations, the bureaucracy makes a virtue of necessity. One of the members of the highest Soviet court, Soltz, a specialist on matrimonial questions, bases the forthcoming prohibition of abortion on the fact that in a socialist society where there are no unemployed, etc., etc., a woman has no right to decline “the joys of motherhood.” The philosophy of a priest endowed also with the powers of a gendarme. We just heard from the central organ of the ruling party that the birth of a child is for many women, and it would be truer to say for the overwhelming majority, “a menace to their position.” We just heard from the highest Soviet institution that “the liquidation of homeless and uncared-for children is being weakly carried out,” which undoubtedly means a new increase of homelessness. But here the highest Soviet judge informs us that in a country where “life is happy” abortion should be punished with imprisonment – just exactly as in capitalist countries where life is grievous. It is clear in advance that in the Soviet Union as in the West those who will fall into the claws of the jailer will be chiefly working women, servants, peasant wives, who find it hard to conceal their troubles. As far as concerns “our women”, who furnish the demand for fine perfumes and other pleasant things, they will, as formerly, do what they find necessary under the very nose of an indulgent justiciary. “We have need of people,” concludes Soltz, closing his eyes to the homeless. “Then have the kindness to bear them yourselves,” might be the answer to the high judge of millions of toiling women, if the bureaucracy had not sealed their lips with the seal of silence. These gentlemen have, it seems, completely forgotten that socialism was to remove the cause which impels woman to abortion, and not force her into the “joys of motherhood” with the help of a foul police interference in what is to every woman the most intimate sphere of life.

The draft of the law forbidding abortion was submitted to so-called universal popular discussion, and even through the fine sieve of the Soviet press many bitter complaints and stifled protests broke out. The discussion was cut off as suddenly as it had been announced, and on June 27th the Central Executive Committee converted the shameful draft into a thrice shameful law. Even some of the official apologists of the bureaucracy were embarrassed. Louis Fischer declared this piece of legislation something in the nature of a deplorable misunderstanding. In reality the new law against women – with an exception in favor of ladies – is the natural and logical fruit of a Thermidorian reaction.

The triumphal rehabilitation of the family, taking place simultaneously – what a providential coincidence! – with the rehabilitation of the ruble, is caused by the material and cultural bankruptcy of the state. Instead of openly saying, “We have proven still too poor and ignorant for the creation of socialist relations among men, our children and grandchildren will realize this aim”, the leaders are forcing people to glue together again the shell of the broken family, and not only that, but to consider it, under threat of extreme penalties, the sacred nucleus of triumphant socialism. It is hard to measure with the eye the scope of this retreat.

Everybody and everything is dragged into the new course: lawgiver and litterateur, court and militia, newspaper and schoolroom. When a naive and honest communist youth makes bold to write in his paper: “You would do better to occupy yourself with solving the problem how woman can get out of the clutches of the family,” he receives in answer a couple of good smacks and – is silent. The ABCs of communism are declared a “leftist excess.” The stupid and stale prejudices of uncultured philistines are resurrected in the name of a new morale. And what is happening in daily life in all the nooks and corners of this measureless country? The press reflects only in a faint degree the depth of the Thermidorian reaction in the sphere of the family.

Since the noble passion of evangelism grows with the growth of sin, the seventh commandment is acquiring great popularity in the ruling stratum. The Soviet moralists have only to change the phraseology slightly. A campaign is opened against too frequent and easy divorces. The creative thought of the lawgivers had already invented such a “socialistic” measure as the taking of money payment upon registration of divorces, and increasing it when divorces were repeated. Not for nothing we remarked above that the resurrection of the family goes hand in hand with the increase of the educative role of the ruble. A tax indubitably makes registration difficult for those for whom it is difficult to pay. For the upper circles, the payment, we may hope, will not offer any difficulty. Moreover, people possessing nice apartments, automobiles and other good things arrange their personal affairs without unnecessary publicity and consequently without registration. It is only on the bottom of society that prostitution has a heavy and humiliating character. On the heights of the Soviet society, where power is combined with comfort, prostitution takes the elegant form of small mutual services, and even assumes the aspect of the “socialist family.” We have already heard from Sosnovsky about the importance of the “automobile-harem factor” in the degeneration of the ruling stratum.

The lyric, academical and other “friends of the Soviet Union” have eyes in order to see nothing. The marriage and family laws established by the October revolution, once the object of its legitimate pride, are being made over and mutilated by vast borrowings from the law treasuries of the bourgeois countries. And as though on purpose to stamp treachery with ridicule, the same arguments which were earlier advanced in favor of unconditional freedom of divorce and abortion – “the liberation of women,” “defense of the rights of personality,” “protection of motherhood” – are repeated now in favor of their limitation and complete prohibition.

The retreat not only assumes forms of disgusting hypocrisy, but also is going infinitely farther than the iron economic necessity demands. To the objective causes producing this return to such bourgeois forms as the payment of alimony, there is added the social interest of the ruling stratum in the deepening of bourgeois law. The most compelling motive of the present cult of the family is undoubtedly the need of the bureaucracy for a stable hierarchy of relations, and for the disciplining of youth by means of 40,000,000 points of support for authority and power.

While the hope still lived of concentrating the education of the new generations in the hands of the state, the government was not only unconcerned about supporting the authority of the “elders”, and, in particular of the mother and father, but on the contrary tried its best to separate the children from the family, in order thus to protect them from the traditions of a stagnant mode of life. Only a little while ago, in the course of the first five-year plan, the schools and the Communist Youth were using children for the exposure, shaming and in general “re-educating” of their drunken fathers or religious mothers with what success is another question. At any rate, this method meant a shaking of parental authority to its very foundations. In this not unimportant sphere too, a sharp turn has now been made. Along with the seventh, the fifth commandment is also fully restored to its rights as yet, to be sure, without any references to God. But the French schools also get along without this supplement, and that does not prevent them from successfully inculcating conservatism and routine.

Concern for the authority of the older generation, by the way, has already led to a change of policy in the matter of religion. The denial of God, his assistance and his miracles, was the sharpest wedge of all those which the revolutionary power drove between children and parents. Outstripping the development of culture, serious propaganda and scientific education, the struggle with the churches, under the leadership of people of the type of Yaroslavsky, often degenerated into buffoonery and mischief. The storming of heaven, like the storming of the family, is now brought to a stop. The bureaucracy, concerned about their reputation for respectability, have ordered the young “godless” to surrender their fighting armor and sit down to their books. In relation to religion, there is gradually being established a regime of ironical neutrality. But that is only the first stage. It would not be difficult to predict the second and third, if the course of events depended only upon those in authority.

The hypocrisy of prevailing opinion develops everywhere and always as the square, or cube, of the social contradictions. Such approximately is the historic law of ideology translated into the language of mathematics. Socialism, if it is worthy of the name, means human relations without greed, friendship without envy and intrigue, love without base calculation. The official doctrine declares these ideal norms already realized – and with more insistence the louder the reality protests against such declarations. “On a basis of real equality between men and women,” says, for example, the new program of the Communist Youth, adopted in April 1986, “a new family is coming into being, the flourishing of which will be a concern of the Soviet state.” An official commentary supplements the program: “Our youth in the choice of a life-friend – wife or husband – know only one motive, one impulse: love. The bourgeois marriage of pecuniary convenience does not exist for our growing generation.” (Pravda, April 4, 1936.) So far as concerns the rank-and-file workingman and woman, this is more or less true. But “marriage for money” is comparatively little known also to the workers of capitalist countries. Things are quite different in the middle and upper strata. New social groupings automatically place their stamp upon personal relations. The vices which power and money create in sex relations are flourishing as luxuriously in the ranks of the Soviet bureaucracy as though it had set itself the goal of outdoing in this respect the Western bourgeoisie.

In complete contradiction to the just quoted assertion of Pravda, “marriage for convenience,” as the Soviet press itself in moments of accidental or unavoidable frankness confesses, is now fully resurrected. Qualifications, wages, employment, number of chevrons on the military uniform, are acquiring more and more significance, for with them are bound up questions of shoes, and fur coats, and apartments, and bathrooms, and – the ultimate dream – automobiles. The mere struggle for a room unites and divorces no small number of couples every year in Moscow. The question of relatives has acquired exceptional significance. It is useful to have as a father-in-law a military commander or an influential communist, as a mother-in-law the sister of a high dignitary. Can we wonder at this? Could it be otherwise?

One of the very dramatic chapters in the great book of the Soviets will be the tale of the disintegration and breaking up of those Soviet families where the husband as a party member, trade unionist, military commander or administrator, grew and developed and acquired new tastes in life, and the wife, crushed by the family, remained on the old level. The road of the two generations of the Soviet bureaucracy is sown thick with the tragedies of wives rejected and left behind. The same phenomenon is now to be observed in the new generation. The greatest of all crudities and cruelties are to be met perhaps in the very heights of the bureaucracy, where a very large percentage are parvenus of little culture, who consider that everything i8 permitted to them. Archives and memoirs will some day expose downright crimes in relation to wives, and to women in genera], on the part of those evangelists of family morals and the compulsory “joys of motherhood,” who are, owing to their position, immune from prosecution.

No, the Soviet woman is not yet free. Complete equality before the law has so far given infinitely more to the women of the upper strata, representatives of bureaucratic, technical, pedagogical and, in general, intellectual work, than to the working women and yet more the peasant women. So long as society is incapable of taking upon itself the material concern for the family, the mother can successfully fulfill a social function only on condition that she has in her service a white slave: nurse, servant, cook, etc. Out of the 40,000,000 families which constitute the population of the Soviet Union, 5 per cent, or maybe 10, build their “hearthstone” directly or indirectly upon the labor of domestic slaves. An accurate census of Soviet servants would have as much significance for the socialistic appraisal of the position of women in the Soviet Union as the whole Soviet law code, no matter how progressive it might be. But for this very reason the Soviet statistics hide servants under the name of “working woman” or “and others”! The situation of the mother of the family who is an esteemed communist, has a cook, a telephone for giving orders to the stores, an automobile for errands, etc., has little in common with the situation of the working woman who is compelled to run to the shops, prepare dinner herself, and carry her children on foot from the kindergarten – if, indeed, a kindergarten is available. No socialist labels can conceal this social contrast, which is no less striking than the contrast between the bourgeois lady and the proletarian woman in any country of the West.

The genuinely socialist family, from which society will remove the daily vexation of unbearable and humiliating cares, will have no need of any regimentation, and the very idea of laws about abortion and divorce will sound no better within its walls than the recollection of houses of prostitution or human sacrifices. The October legislation took a bold step in the direction of such a family. Economic and cultural backwardness has produced a cruel reaction. The Thermidorian legislation is beating a retreat to the bourgeois models, covering its retreat with false speeches about the sacredness of the “new” family. On this question, too, socialist bankruptcy covers itself with hypocritical respectability.

There are sincere observers who are, especially upon the question of children, shaken by the contrast here between high principles and ugly reality. The mere fact of the furious criminal measures that have been adopted against homeless children is enough to suggest that the socialist legislation in defense of women and children is nothing but crass hypocrisy. There are observers of an opposite kind who are deceived by the broadness and magnanimity of those ideas that have been dressed up in the form of laws and administrative institutions. When they see destitute mothers, prostitutes and homeless children, these optimists tell themselves that a further growth of material wealth will gradually fill the socialist laws with flesh and blood. It is not easy to decide which of these two modes of approach is more mistaken and more harmful. Only people stricken with historical blindness can fail to see the broadness and boldness of the social plan, the significance of the first stages of its development, and the immense possibilities opened by it. But on the other hand, it is impossible not to be indignant at the passive and essentially indifferent optimism of those who shut their eyes to the growth of social contradictions, and comfort themselves with gazing into a future, the key to which they respectfully propose to leave in the hands of the bureaucracy. As though the equality of rights of women and men were not already converted into an equality of deprivation of rights by that same bureaucracy ! And as though in some book of wisdom it were firmly promised that the Soviet bureaucracy will not introduce a new oppression in place of liberty.

How man enslaved woman, how the exploiter subjected them both, how the toilers have attempted at the price of blood to free themselves from slavery and have only exchanged one chain for another – history tells us much about all this. In essence, it tells us nothing else. But how in reality to free the child, the woman and the human being? For that we have as yet no reliable models. All past historical experience, wholly negative, demands of the toilers at least and first of all an implacable distrust of all privileged and uncontrolled guardians.

Trocki o „czcicielach faktu dokonanego”

Pierwotnie zatytułowane „Przyjaciele Związku Radzieckiego” które było dodatkiem do książki „Zdradzona rewolucja”.

Po raz pierwszy potężny rząd dostarcza bodźca za granicą nie dla szacownej prawicowej, ale dla  lewicowej i skrajnie lewicowej prasy. Sympatie mas ludowych do wielkiej rewolucji są bardzo umiejętnie skanalizowane i wrzucane do młyna radzieckiej biurokracji. „Sympatyzująca” prasa zachodnia niepostrzeżenie traci prawo do publikowania czegokolwiek, co mogłoby zaszkodzić warstwie rządzącej Związku Radzieckiego. Książki niepożądane dla Kremla są złośliwie nie wspomniane. Hałaśliwi i przeciętni apologeci publikowani są w wielu językach. W tej pracy unikaliśmy cytowania konkretnych produkcji oficjalnych „przyjaciół”, preferując surowe oryginały od stylizowanych obcych parafraz. Jednak literatura „przyjaciół”, w tym Międzynarodówki Komunistycznej, najbardziej bezczelna i wulgarna jej część, opiewająca na metry sześcienne, ma imponującą wielkość i nie odgrywa ostatniej roli w polityce. Musimy poświęcić jej kilka końcowych stron.

Obecnie głównym wkładem do skarbca myśli jest książka Webbsa, „Radziecki komunizm”. Zamiast odnosić się do tego, co zostało osiągnięte i w jakim kierunku rozwijają się osiągnięte wyniki, autorzy przedstawiają dwanaścieset stron tego, co jest rozważane, wskazane w biurach lub objaśnione w przepisach. Ich wniosek jest następujący: kiedy zrealizowane zostaną projekty, plany i ustawy, komunizm zostanie zrealizowany w Związku Radzieckim. Taka jest treść tej przygnębiającej książki, która odgrzewa raporty moskiewskich biur i artykułów rocznicowych moskiewskiej prasy.

Przyjaźń dladzieckiej biurokracji nie jest przyjaźnią dla rewolucji proletariackiej, ale przeciwnie, ubezpieczeniem od niej. Webbowie są, oczywiście, gotowi przyznać, że system komunistyczny kiedyś lub inaczej rozprzestrzeni się na resztę świata.

„Ale jak, kiedy, gdzie, z jakimi modyfikacjami i czy to przez gwałtowną rewolucję, czy przez pokojową penetrację, czy nawet przez świadome naśladownictwo, nie możemy odpowiedzieć na te pytania”.

Ta dyplomatyczna odmowa odpowiedzi – lub w rzeczywistości ta jednoznaczna odpowiedź – jest w najwyższym stopniu charakterystyczna dla „przyjaciół” i mówi rzeczywistą cenę ich przyjaźni. Gdyby wszyscy odpowiedzieli na pytanie o rewolucję przed 1917 r., kiedy odpowiedź była nieskończenie trudniejsza, nie byłoby państwa radzieckiego na świecie, a brytyjscy „przyjaciele” musieliby rozszerzyć swój fundusz przyjaznych emocji na inne przedmioty .

Webbowie mówią jak o czymś, co rozumie się samo przez się o próżności nadziei na europejską rewolucję w najbliższej przyszłości i zbierają z tego pocieszający dowód poprawności teorii socjalizmu w jednym kraju. Z autorytetem ludzi, dla których Rewolucja Październikowa była kompletną, a ponadto nieprzyjemną, niespodzianką, dają nam lekcje o konieczności budowania społeczeństwa socjalistycznego w granicach Związku Radzieckiego przy braku innych perspektyw. Trudno powstrzymać się od niegrzecznego ruchu ramion! W rzeczywistości nasz spór z Webbami nie dotyczy konieczności budowania fabryk w Związku Socjalnym i stosowania nawozów mineralnych w kołchozach, ale o tym, czy konieczne jest przygotowanie rewolucji w Wielkiej Brytanii i jak to zrobić . Na to pytanie uczeni socjologowie odpowiadają: „Nie wiemy.” Uważają, że to samo pytanie jest oczywiście sprzeczne z „nauką”.  

Lenin był namiętnie wrogi konserwatywnemu burżua, który wyobraża sobie, że jest socjalistą, a zwłaszcza brytyjskim Fabianom. Patrząc na słowniczek biograficzny dołączony do jego „Dzieł”, nie jest trudno stwierdzić, że jego stosunek do Webbów przez całe jego aktywne życie pozostał niezmienną, zaciekłą wrogością. W 1907 r. po raz pierwszy napisał o Webbach jako „tępych piewcach angielskiego filisterstwa”, którzy próbują przedstawiać czartyzm, rewolucyjną epokę angielskiego ruchu robotniczego, jako zwykłą dziecinadę ”. Bez czartyzmu nie byłoby jednak Komuny Paryskiej. Bez nich nie byłoby rewolucji październikowej. Webbowie znaleźli w Związku Radzieckim jedynie mechanizm administracyjny i biurokratyczny plan. Nie znaleźli ani czartyzmu, ani komunizmu, ani rewolucji październikowej. Rewolucja pozostaje dla nich dzisiaj, jak poprzednio, obcą i wrogą materią, jeśli nie rzeczywiście „zwykłą dziecinadą”.

W swoich polemikach z oportunistami Lenin nie kłopotał się, jak wiadomo, manierami salonu. Ale jego obelżywe epitety („lokaje burżuazji”, „zdrajcy”, „lizusowskie dusze”) wyrażały przez wiele lat starannie wyważoną ocenę Webbów i ewangelistów fabianizmu – to znaczy tradycyjnego szacunku i kultu tego co istnieje. Nie może być mowy o żadnej nagłej zmianie poglądów Webbów w ostatnich latach. Ci sami ludzie, którzy podczas wojny wspierają swoją burżuazję, a którzy później zaakceptowali tytuł Lorda Passfield z rąk króla, nie wyrzekli się niczego i wcale się nie zmienili, przylegając do komunizmu w jednym, a ponadto obcym, kraju. Sidney Webb był ministrem kolonialnym – czyli głównym strażnikiem więziennym brytyjskiego imperializmu – w tym samym okresie swego życia, kiedy zbliżał się do radzieckiej biurokracji, otrzymując materiały od swoich biur i na tej podstawie pracując nad dwutomową kompilacją.

Jeszcze w 1923 r. Webbs nie dostrzegał wielkiej różnicy między bolszewizmem a caryzmem (zob. Na przykład „The Decay of Capitalist Civilization”, 1923). Teraz jednak całkowicie zreorganizowali „demokrację” reżimu stalinowskiego. Nie trzeba tu szukać sprzeczności. Fabianie byli oburzeni, gdy rewolucyjny proletariat odebrał wolność działania „wykształconemu” towarzystwu, ale uważają to za całkiem porządek rzeczy, gdy biurokracja zabiera wolność działania proletariatowi. Czyż nie zawsze było to funkcją biurokracji robotniczej robotników? Webbowie przysięgają na przykład, że krytyka w Związku Radzieckim jest całkowicie bezpłatna. Od tych ludzi nie należy oczekiwać poczucia humoru. Odnoszą się one z całkowitą powagą do tej osławionej „samokrytyki”, która jest wprowadzana jako część oficjalnych obowiązków, a której kierunek, jak również jej ograniczenia, mogą być zawsze dokładnie przepowiedziane.

Naiwność? Ani Engels, ani Lenin nie uważali Sidneya Webba za naiwnego. Poważanie raczej. W końcu chodzi o ustanowiony reżim i gościnnych gospodarzy. Webbowie odnoszą się z dezaprobatą do marksistowskiej krytyki tego, co istnieje. Uważają się za powołanych do zachowania dziedzictwa rewolucji październikowej przed Lewicową Opozycją. Ze względu na kompletność zauważamy, że w swoim czasie rząd laburzystowski, w którym Lord Passfield (Sidney Webb) posiadał portfolio, odmówił autorowi tej pracy wizy na wjazd do Wielkiej Brytanii. Tak więc Sidney Webb, który w tamtych czasach pracował nad swoją książką o Związku Radzieckim, teoretycznie broni Związku Radzieckiego przed podważeniem, ale praktycznie broni Imperium Jego Królewskiej Mości. By oddać sprawiedliwość można powiedzieć, że w obu przypadkach pozostaje wierny sobie.

* * *

Dla wielu drobnomieszczan, którzy nie opanowali ani pióra, ani pędzla, oficjalnie zarejestrowana „przyjaźń” dla Związku Radzieckiego jest rodzajem świadectwa wyższych interesów duchowych. Członkostwo w lożach wolnomularskich lub klubach pacyfistycznych ma wiele wspólnego z członkostwem w towarzystwie „Przyjaciół Związku Radzieckiego”, ponieważ umożliwia życie dwóch żyć jednocześnie: życia codziennego w kręgu zwykłych interesów i odświętnego życia oceniającego duszę. Od czasu do czasu „przyjaciele” odwiedzają Moskwę. W pamięci zapisują traktory, żłobki, pionierów, parady, spadochroniarki – jednym słowem wszystko oprócz nowej arystokracji. Najlepsi zamykają oczy na to z uczucia wrogości wobec reakcji kapitalistycznej. Andre Gide szczerze to potwierdza:

„Głupi i nieuczciwy atak na Związek Radziecki spowodował, że teraz bronimy go z pewnym uporem”.

Ale głupota i nieuczciwość wrogów nie usprawiedliwia własnej ślepoty. Masy pracujące w każdym razie potrzebują jasnych przyjaciół.

Epidemia sympatii burżuazyjnych radykałów i socjalistycznych burżua do warstwy rządzącej Związku Radzieckiego ma przyczyny, które nie są nieistotne. W kręgu profesjonalnych polityków, niezależnie od różnic programowych, zawsze dominują osoby przyjazne dla takiego „postępu”, jaki już osiągnięto lub jaki można osiągnąć. Na świecie jest nieporównywalnie więcej reformatorów niż rewolucjonistów, więcej zwolenników lokajów niż nieprzejednanych. Dopiero w wyjątkowych okresach historycznych, kiedy masy wchodzą w ruch, rewolucjoniści wyłaniają się z izolacji, a reformatorzy stają się bardziej rybami wyciągniętymi z wody.

W środowisku obecnej radzieckiej biurokracji nie ma osoby, która przed kwietniem 1917 r., a nawet znacznie później, nie uważała idei proletariackiej dyktatury w Rosji za fantastyczną. (W owym czasie tę „fantazję” nazwano … trockizmem.) Starsze pokolenie zagranicznych „przyjaciół” przez dziesięciolecia uważało za przedstawicieli Realpolitik rosyjskich mieńszewików, którzy opowiadali się za „frontem ludowym” z liberałami i odrzucili pomysł dyktatury jako wstydliwe szaleństwo. Uznać dyktaturę, gdy jest już osiągnięta, a nawet biurokratycznie zrujnowana – to inna sprawa. Jest to kwestia dokładnie dla umysłów tych „przyjaciół”. Teraz nie tylko oddają szacunek państwu radzieckiemu, ale nawet zdefiniowali go przeciwko swoim wrogom – nie tyle, by być pewnym, przeciwko tym, którzy tęsknią za przeszłością, ale tym, którzy przygotowują przyszłość. Tam, gdzie ci „przyjaciele” aktywnie przygotowują się, jak w przypadku francuskich, belgijskich, angielskich i innych reformistów, jest im wygodnie ukryć swoją solidarność z burżuazją troską o obronę Związku Radzieckiego. Gdzie, z drugiej strony, niechętnie stają się defetystami, jak w przypadku niemieckich i austriackich socjal-patriotów z wczoraj, mają nadzieję, że sojusz Francji ze Związkiem Radzieckim może pomóc im w załatwieniu rachunków Hitlerem lub Schussniggiem. Leon Blum, który był wrogiem bolszewizmu w jego heroicznej epoce, i otworzył łamy Le Populaire w celu publicznego szczucia rewolucji październikowej, nie wydrukowałby teraz wiersza ujawniającego prawdziwe zbrodnie radzieckiej biurokracji. Tak jak biblijny Mojżesz, pragnąc ujrzeć oblicze Jehowy, miał pozwolenie, by ukłonić się jedynie tylnym częściom boskiej anatomii, tak samo honorowi reformiści, czciciele dokonanego faktu, są zdolni do poznania i uznania w rewolucji tylko jej mięsistego biurokratycznego zada.

Obecni „przywódcy” komunistyczni należą zasadniczo do tego samego typu. Po długiej serii małpich skoków i grymasów nagle odkryli ogromne zalety oportunizmu i wykorzystali je ze świeżością właściwą tej ignorancji, która zawsze ich wyróżniała. Ich niewolniczy i nie zawsze bezinteresowny ukłon w stronę górnych kręgów na Kremlu czyni ich absolutnie niezdolnymi do rewolucyjnej inicjatywy. Odpowiadają na krytyczne argumenty nie inaczej niż z warczeniem i szczekaniem; a ponadto pod batem szefa machają ogonami. Ta najbardziej nieatrakcyjna agregacja, która w godzinie niebezpieczeństwa rozproszy się na cztery wiatry, uważa nas za rażących „kontrrewolucjonistów”. Co z tego? Historia, pomimo surowego charakteru, nie może poradzić sobie bez okazyjnej farsy.

Co bardziej szczerzy i otwarci z „przyjaciół”, przynajmniej podczas gdy mówią tete-a-tete, przyznają, że na radzieckim słońcu jest plama. Zastępując dialektyczną analizę fatalistyczną, pocieszają się myślą, że „pewna” biurokratyczna degeneracja w danych warunkach była historycznie nieunikniona. Nawet jeśli! Opór wobec tej degeneracji również nie spadł z nieba. Konieczność ma dwa cele: reakcyjny i postępowy. Historia uczy, że osoby i partie, które ciągną na przeciwnych końcach konieczności, okazują się na dłuższą metę być po przeciwnych stronach barykady.

Ostatnim argumentem „przyjaciół” jest to, że reakcjoniści wykorzystają każdą krytykę reżimu radzieckiego. To jest niewątpliwe! Możemy założyć, że spróbują zdobyć coś dla siebie z obecnej książki. Kiedy było inaczej? Manifest Komunistyczny mówił pogardliwie o tym, jak feudalna reakcja próbowała wykorzystać przeciwko liberalizmowi strzały socjalistycznej krytyki. To nie przeszkodziło rewolucyjnemu socjalizmowi w podążaniu swoją drogą. To też nam nie przeszkodzi. Prasa Międzynarodówki Komunistycznej, to prawda, posuwa się nawet do stwierdzenia, że ​​nasza krytyka przygotowuje interwencję wojskową przeciwko Sowietom. To oczywiście oznacza, że ​​kapitalistyczne rządy, ucząc się z naszych prac nad degeneracją radzieckiej biurokracji, natychmiast wyślą karną ekspedycję, aby pomścić zdeptane zasady Października! Polemiści z Międzynarodówki Komunistycznej nie są uzbrojeni w rapiery, ale dyszle, lub jakiś jeszcze mniej zwinny instrument. W rzeczywistości marksistowska krytyka, która nazywa rzeczy po imieniu, może tylko zwiększyć konserwatywne uznanie dla radzieckiej dyplomacji w oczach burżuazji.

Inaczej jest z klasą robotniczą i jej szczerymi obrońcami wśród inteligencji. Tutaj nasza praca wzbudzi wątpliwości i wywoła nieufność – nie rewolucjonistów, ale uzurpatorów. Ale to jest właśnie ten cel, który sobie postawiliśmy. Siłą napędową postępu jest prawda, a nie kłamstwo.

O Termidor no Lar

O Termidor no Lar

Seção do livro de Leon Trotsky, A Revolução Traída (1936). A presente versão foi copiada de

A Revolução de Outubro cumpriu honestamente a sua palavra no que diz respeito à mulher. O novo poder não se contentou em dar à mulher os mesmos direitos jurídicos e políticos do homem, fez também – e muito mais do que isso – tudo o que podia, e de qualquer modo infinitamente mais do que qualquer outro regime, para lhe dar acesso a todos os domínios econômicos e culturais. Mas, da mesma forma que o “todo poderoso” Parlamento britânico, a mais poderosa revolução não pode fazer da mulher um ser igual ao homem; melhor explicando, partilhar entre ela e o seu companheiro os encargos da gravidez, do parto, da amamentação e da educação dos filhos. A revolução tentou heroicamente destruir o velho lar familiar estagnado, instituição arcaica, rotineira, asfixiante, no qual a mulher das classes trabalhadoras era voltada aos trabalhos forçados desde a infância até a morte. A família, considerada como uma pequena empresa fechada, devia ser substituída, no espírito dos revolucionários, por um sistema completo de serviços sociais: maternidades, creches, jardins de infância, restaurantes, lavanderias, dispensários, hospitais, sanatórios, organizações desportivas, cinemas, teatros etc. A absorção completa, por parte da sociedade socialista, das funções econômicas da mulher, ligando toda uma geração pela solidariedade e assistência mútua, devia levar a mulher e, portanto, o casal, a uma verdadeira emancipação do jugo secular. E, enquanto esta obra não tiver sido realizada, quarenta milhões de famílias soviéticas manter-se-ão vitimas dos costumes medievais, da sujeição e da histeria da mulher das humilhações quotidianas da criança, das superstições deste e daquele. Sobre isto não há ilusões. E é precisamente por isto que as sucessivas modificações do estatuto da família na URSS são as que melhor caracterizam a verdadeira natureza da sociedade soviética e a evolução das suas camadas dirigentes.

Não se conseguiu tomar de assalto a velha família. E não foi por falta de boa vontade. Nem porque ela estivesse firmemente enraizada nos espíritos. Pelo contrário, após um curto período de desconfiança para com o Estado, as suas creches, os seus jardins de infância e as suas diversas fundações operárias e depois delas as camponesas mais avançadas compreenderam as enormes vantagens da educação coletiva e da socialização da economia familiar. Infelizmente, a sociedade mostrava-se demasiado pobre e pouco civilizada. Os verdadeiros recursos do Estado não correspondiam aos planos nem às intenções o partido comunista. A família não pode ser abolida: é preciso substituí-la. A verdadeira emancipação da mulher é impossível no campo da “miséria socializada”. A experiência bem depressa confirmou esta amarga verdade formulada por Marx, oitenta anos antes.

Durante os anos de fome, os operários alimentavam-se tanto quanto possível – com as famílias, em certos casos – nos refeitórios de fábricas ou em estabelecimentos análogos e este fato foi oficialmente interpretado como sendo o advento de costumes socialistas. Não é preciso debruçarmo-nos aqui sobre as particularidades dos diversos períodos – comunismo de guerra, NEP, primeiro plano quinquenal – relativamente a este aspecto. A verdade é que, desde a supressão das senhas de racionamento em 1935, os operários mais bem pagos começaram a voltar à mesa familiar. Seria errôneo ver neste regresso ao lar uma condenação do sistema socialista, que, verdadeiramente, não tinha sido posto à prova. Este procedimento dos operários e das suas mulheres encerrava, no entanto, um julgamento implacável da “alimentação social” organizada pela burocracia. A mesma conclusão se impõe no que diz respeito às lavanderias socializadas, onde se rouba e se estraga a roupa em vez de a lavar. Regresso ao lar! Mas a cozinha e a lavagem caseiras, hoje louvadas com certo embaraço pelos oradores e jornalistas soviéticos, significam o regresso das mulheres às caçarolas e aos tanques, isto é, à antiga escravidão. É bastante duvidoso que a noção da Internacional Comunista sobre “a vitória completa e irreversível do socialismo na URSS” seja, depois disto, convincente para as donas de casa dos arredores! A família rural, ligada não só à economia doméstica, mas também à agricultura, é infinitamente mais conservadora do que a família urbana. De um modo geral, só as comunas agrícolas pouco numerosas estabeleceram, no princípio, a alimentação coletiva e as creches. A coletivização, dizia-se, devia produzir uma transformação radical da família: pois não se estava em vias de expropriar as vacas e as galinhas do camponês? De qualquer modo, não faltaram comunicados sobre a marcha triunfal da alimentação social nos campos. Mas quando começou o recuo, a realidade rompeu de imediato as brumas do blefe. O kolkhoze não dá em geral ao cultivador senão o trigo de que ele precisa e a forragem para os seus animais. A carne, os produtos lácteos e os legumes provêm, quase inteiramente da propriedade individual dos membros dos kolkhozes. A partir do momento em que os alimentos essenciais são frutos do trabalho familiar, não se pode falar em alimentação coletiva. De maneira que as pequenas parcelas, dando uma nova base ao lar, prostram a mulher sob um duplo fardo.

O número de lugares integrais nas creches era, em 1932, de 600.000 e cerca de quatro milhões no horário de trabalho nos campos. Em 1935, havia cerca de 5.600.000 camas nas creches, mas os lugares permanentes eram, como dantes, muito menos numerosos. De resto, as creches existentes, mesmo em Moscou, Leningrado e noutros grandes centros, estão longe de satisfazer as mais modestas exigências. “As creches, onde as crianças se sentem pior do que em casa, não passam de meros asilos”, diz um grande jornal soviético. Em face disto, é natural que os operários bem pagos evitem mandar para lá os seus filhos. Por outro lado, para a massa dos trabalhadores, esses “maus asilos” são ainda em muito pouco número. O executivo decidiu recentemente que as crianças abandonadas e os órfãos seriam confiados a particulares; o Estado burocrático reconhece assim, através do seu órgão mais autorizado, a sua incapacidade para desempenhar uma das mais importantes funções socialistas. O número de crianças recebidas nos jardins de infância passou, em cinco anos, de 1930 a 1935, de 370.000 para 1.181.000. Este número, em 1930, espanta pela sua insignificância. Mas, em 1935, é ainda ínfimo em face das necessidades das famílias soviéticas. Um estudo mais aprofundado permitiria ver que a maior parte e, em todo caso, a melhor parte dos jardins de infância é reservada às famílias dos funcionários, dos técnicos ,dos stakhanovistas etc.

O Executivo teve igualmente de constatar recentemente que a decisão de pôr fim à situação das crianças abandonadas e mal vigiadas é muito pouco aplicada. O que esconde esta terna linguagem? Só ocasionalmente tomamos conhecimento, por meio de pequenos artigos publicados nos jornais em caracteres minúsculos, que mais de um milhar de crianças se encontram em Moscou, “mesmo nos lares, em condições extremamente penosas”; que as casas para crianças da capital encerram 1.500 adolescentes que não sabem em que se hão de tornar e estão voltados à rua; que em dois meses de outono (1935), em Moscou e em Leningrado “7.500 pais foram processados por terem deixado os seus filhos sem vigilância”. Qual a utilidade destes processos? Quantos milhares de pais os evitaram? Quantas crianças “mesmo nos lares, em condições extremamente penosas” não foram contadas para a estatística?

Em que diferem as condições “mais penosas” das condições simplesmente penosas? Quantas perguntas sem resposta! A infância abandonada, visível ou dissimulada, constitui um flagelo que atinge proporções enormes como consequência da grande crise social em que a antiga família continua a desagregar-se, mais rapidamente do que aparecem as novas instituições que a possam substituir.

Os mesmos artigos ocasionais nos jornais, juntamente com a crônica judiciária, mostram ao leitor que a prostituição – última degradação da mulher em proveito do homem capaz de pagar – grassa na URSS. No outono passado, o lzvestiarevelou de súbito que “cerca de mil mulheres que se dedicavam nas ruas de Moscou ao comércio secreto do seu corpo” acabavam de ser detidas. Entre elas, 177 operárias, 92 empregadas, 5 estudantes etc. O que as lançava para as ruas? A insuficiência do salário, a carência, ou a necessidade “de arranjar algum suplemento para comprar sapatos ou um vestido”. Em vão tentamos conhecer, mas só conseguimos em aproximação, as proporções deste mal social. A pudica burocracia soviética impôs o silêncio à estatística. Mas este silêncio constrangido serve para provar que “a classe” das prostitutas soviéticas é numerosa. E aqui não se trata de uma sobrevivência do passado, pois que as prostitutas são recrutadas entre as jovens. Ninguém sonhará em censurar particularmente o regime soviético por esta praga tão velha como a civilização. Mas é imperdoável falar no triunfo do socialismo enquanto subsistir a prostituição. Os jornais afirmam, na medida em que lhes é permitido tocar neste delicado assunto, que a prostituição decresce; é possível que seja verdade em compensação com os anos de fome e de desorganização (1931-1933). Mas o retorno às relações fundadas sobre o dinheiro leva, inevitavelmente, a um novo aumento da prostituição e da infância abandonada. Onde há privilegiados, há também parias.

O grande número de crianças abandonadas é, indiscutivelmente, a prova mais trágica e mais incontestável da penosa situação da mãe. Até o otimista Pravda se vê forçado a amargas confissões sobre este assunto. “O nascimento de um filho é, para muitas mulheres, uma séria ameaça”. E foi precisamente por isto que o poder revolucionário concedeu à mulher o direito ao aborto, um dos seus direitos cívicos, políticos e culturais essenciais, enquanto durarem a miséria e a opressão familiar, apesar do que possam dizer os eunucos e as velhas dos dois sexos. Mas este triste direito, torna-se, pela desigualdade social, um privilégio. As informações fragmentárias fornecidas pela imprensa sobre a prática do aborto são impressionantes: “195 mulheres mutiladas pelas abortadoras”, das quais 33 operárias, 28 empregadas, 65 camponesas de kolkhozes, 58 donas de casa, passaram em 1935 por um hospital no sul do Ural. Esta região só difere das outras porque as informações que lhe dizem respeito foram publicadas. Quantas mulheres mutiladas por ano devido a abortos mal feitos em toda a URSS!

Tendo demonstrado a sua incapacidade em fornecer às mulheres que se veem obrigadas ao aborto necessária assistência médica e instalações higiênicas, o Estado muda bruscamente de rumo e opta pelo das proibições. E, como em outros casos, a burocracia faz da pobreza uma virtude. Um dos membros do Tribunal supremo soviético, Soltz, especialista em questões relacionadas ao casamento, justifica a próxima interdição do aborto dizendo que, não conhecendo a sociedade socialista o desemprego, ela, a mulher, não pode ter o direito de rejeitar as “alegrias da maternidade”. Filosofia de padre, ainda por cima dispondo por acréscimo da matraca do gendarme. Lemos há pouco no órgão central do partido que o nascimento de uma criança é, para muitas mulheres – e seria mais correto dizer para a maior parte – “uma ameaça”. Acabamos de ouvir uma alta autoridade soviética constatar que a decisão respeitante à infância abandonada é “muito pouco aplicada”, o que implica, certamente, um incremento do número de crianças abandonadas. E eis que um alto magistrado nos diz que, no país “onde é bom viver”, os abortos devem ser punidos com prisão, exatamente como nos países capitalistas onde é triste viver. Como facilmente se compreende, na URSS, como no Ocidente, serão sobretudo as operárias, as camponesas e as domésticas, as quais será difícil esconder o pecado, que cairão nas garras dos carcereiros: Quanto às “nossas mulheres”, que pedem perfumes de boa qualidade e outros artigos congêneres essas continuarão a fazer o que lhes agrada mesmo sob o nariz de uma justiça benevolente. “Temos necessidade de homens”, acrescenta Soltz, fechando os olhos às crianças abandonadas. Milhões de trabalhadoras, se a burocracia não tivesse posto nos seus lábios o selo do silêncio, poderiam responder-lhe: “Façam vocês próprios as crianças!”. Eles esqueceram visivelmente que o socialismo deveria eliminar as causas que levam a mulher ao aborto e não fazer intervir a polícia na vida íntima da mulher para lhe impor as “alegrias da maternidade”.

O projeto de lei sobre o aborto foi submetido à discussão pública. O apertado filtro da imprensa soviética teve mesmo que deixar passar numerosas queixas amargas e protestos abafados. E a discussão acabou tão bruscamente como começou. O Executivo, em 27 de junho de 1936, fez de um projeto infame uma lei três vezes infame. Numerosos advogados tributários da burocracia foram mesmo incomodados por isso. Louis Fisher escreveu que a nova lei era, em suma, um deplorável mal entendido. Na verdade, uma lei dirigida contra a mulher, mas que institui para as senhoras um regime de exceção, é um dos frutos legítimos da reação termidoriana (esta lei foi depois revogada).

A solene reabilitação da família, que tem simultaneamente lugar – coincidência providencial! – com a do rublo, resulta da insuficiência material e cultural do Estado. Em vez de se dizer: “Nós fomos muito pobres e muito incultos para estabelecer relações socialistas entre os homens, mas os nossos filhos e a posteridade o farão”, os chefes do regime colaram de novo os pedaços da família e impuseram de novo, sob a ameaça do máximo rigor, o dogma da família, fundamento sagrado do socialismo triunfante. Mede-se, com desgosto, a profundidade desta retirada!

A nova evolução arrasta tudo e todos: o literato e o legislador, o juiz e a milícia, o jornal e o ensino. Quando um jovem comunista, honesto e cândido, se permite escrever no seu jornal: “Seria melhor abordar a solução deste problema: como pode a mulher libertar-se das tenazes da família?”, ele recebe um par de dentadas e cala-se. O ABC do Comunismo (livro de apresentação popular do comunismo, escrito por Bukharin e Preobrajensky nos primeiros anos da revolução) é declarado um exagero de esquerda. Os preconceitos duros e estúpidos das classes médias incultas renascem sob o nome de moral nova. E que se passa nos confins do imenso país? A imprensa, só numa ínfima percentagem, reflete a profundidade da reação termidoriana no domínio da família.

Crescendo em intensidade a nobre paixão dos pregadores, ao mesmo tempo que crescem os vícios, torna-se muito popular o sexto mandamento entre as camadas dirigentes. Os moralistas soviéticos só precisam renovar ligeiramente a fraseologia. Inicia-se uma campanha contra os divórcios demasiado fáceis e freqüentes. A imaginação criadora do legislador anuncia já uma outra medida “socialista”, que consiste em fazer pagar o registro do divórcio e aumentar a taxa em caso de repetição. Não nos enganamos quando predissemos que a família renasce, ao mesmo tempo que se firma de novo o papel educativo do rublo. Esperamos que a taxa não seja um incômodo para os meios dirigentes. As pessoas que dispõem de bons apartamentos, de automóveis e de outros elementos de conforto arranjam facilmente os seus negócios privados sem publicidade supérflua e, portanto, sem registro. A prostituição só é humilhante e penosa nos “bas-fonds” da sociedade soviética; no vértice desta mesma sociedade, onde o poder se junta ao conforto, a prostituição reveste a forma elegante de serviços recíprocos e até mesmo o aspecto da “família socialista”. Sosnovsky já nos deu a conhecer a importância do fator “auto-harém” na degenerescência dos dirigentes.

Os amigos líricos e acadêmicos da URSS têm olhos mas não para ver. A legislação do casamento, instituída pela Revolução de Outubro, e que foi, no seu tempo, um objeto de legítimo orgulho para a Revolução, está transformada e desfigurada por largos empréstimos do tesouro legislativo dos países burgueses. E tal como se pretendesse juntar o ridículo à traição, os mesmos argumentos que outrora serviram para defender a liberdade incondicional ao aborto e ao divórcio, a emancipação da mulher, a defesa dos direitos da pessoa, a proteção da maternidade – são hoje retomados para imitar ou proibir um e outro.

O recuo reveste formas de uma repugnante hipocrisia e vai mais longe do que o exigido pela dura necessidade econômica. Às razões objetivas do regresso às normas burguesas, tais como o pagamento de uma pensão alimentar à criança, junta-se o interesse social que têm os meios dirigentes de aprofundar o direito burguês. O motivo mais imperioso do atual culto da família e, sem qualquer dúvida, a necessidade que tem a burocracia de uma estável hierarquia das relações e de uma juventude disciplinada e espalhada por quarenta milhões de lares, a servir de pontos de apoio à autoridade e ao poder.

Enquanto se pensava em confiar ao Estado a educação das gerações jovens, o poder, longe de se preocupar em manter a autoridade dos mais velhos, do pai e da mãe em particular, esforçou-se, pelo contrário, por desligar as crianças da família para as salvaguardar desses velhos hábitos. Ainda recentemente, no primeiro período quinquenal, a escola e as juventudes comunistas faziam apelos às crianças para que desmascarassem o pai bêbado ou a mãe crente, para os envergonhar e tentar “reeducá-los”. Outra coisa é saber com que resultados… Este método abalava, no entanto, as próprias bases da autoridade familiar. Uma transformação radical foi realizada neste domínio, que não é desprovida de importância. O quarto mandamento foi reposto em vigor ao mesmo tempo que o sexto sem, na verdade, invocar a autoridade divina; mas a escola francesa dispensa igualmente este atributo, o que não a impede de estabelecer a rotina e o conservadorismo.

A preocupação de preservar a autoridade dos mais velhos já provocou mesmo uma reviravolta de política no que respeita a religião. A negação do Deus e dos seus auxiliares e dos seus milagres era o mais importante elemento de divisão que o poder revolucionário fazia intervir entre pais e filhos. Mas, esquecendo-se do progresso da cultura, da propaganda séria e da educação científica, a luta contra a Igreja, dirigida por homens do tipo Yaroslavsky, degenerou frequentemente em facécias e vexames. O assalto aos céus cessou como o assalto à família. Preocupada com a sua boa reputação, a burocracia ordenou aos jovens ateus que depusessem as armas e se pusessem a ler. Isto foi só o princípio. Um regime de neutralidade irônica foi instituído pouco a pouco face à religião. Esta foi a primeira etapa. Não seria difícil prever a segunda e a terceira se o curso dos acontecimentos dependesse apenas das autoridades estabelecidas.

Os antagonismos sociais elevam, sempre e onde quer que seja, ao quadrado ou ao cubo a hipocrisia das opiniões dominantes; esta é, aproximadamente, a lei histórica do desenvolvimento das ideias, traduzida em termos matemáticos. O socialismo, se merece este nome, significa relações desinteressadas entre os homens, amizade sem inveja e sem intrigas, amor sem calculismos aviltantes. A doutrina oficial declara tanto mais autoritariamente que estas normas ideais já estão realizadas quanto mais a realidade protesta com energia contra semelhantes afirmações. Diz o novo programa das Juventudes comunistas soviéticas, adotado em abril de 1936: “Uma família nova, com cujo desabrochar se preocupa o Estado Soviético, é criada no campo da igualdade real do homem e da mulher”. E um comentário oficial acrescenta: “A nossa juventude só é movida pelo amor na escolha do companheiro ou companheira. O casamento de interesse burguês não existe para a nossa geração” (Pravda, 9 de abril de 1936). Isto é uma verdade enquanto se trata de jovens operários e operárias. Mas o casamento de interesse também se encontra pouco espalhado entre os operários dos países capitalistas. Pelo contrário, tudo se passa de outra maneira nas camadas médias e superiores da sociedade soviética. Os novos grupos sociais subordinam automaticamente o domínio das relações pessoais. Os vícios engendrados pelo poder e pelo dinheiro em torno das relações sexuais florescem na burocracia soviética como se ela tivesse por fim alcançar a burguesia do Ocidente.

Em contradição absoluta com a afirmação do Pravda acima indicada, o “casamento de interesse” ressuscitou; a imprensa soviética reconhece-o, quer por necessidade, quer por um acesso de franqueza. A profissão, o salário, o emprego, o número de galões na manga, adquiriram um significado crescente, dado que as questões do calçado, das peles, da habitação, dos banhos e – sonho supremo – do automóvel, estão intimamente ligadas. Só a luta por um quarto une e desune não poucos casais todos os anos em Moscou. A questão dos pais tomou uma importância excepcional. É bom ter por sogro um oficial ou um comunista influente e por sogra a irmã de um alto personagem. E quem se admira com isto? Poderia ser de outra maneira?

A desunião e a destruição das famílias soviéticas, nas quais o marido, membro do partido, membro ativo do sindicato, oficial ou administrador, evoluiu e adquiriu novos gostos, enquanto a mulher, oprimida pela família, se mantém no seu antigo nível, formam um capítulo dramático do livro da sociedade soviética. O caminho de duas gerações da burocracia soviética está juncado pelas tragédias das mulheres atrasadas e desprezadas. E o mesmo fato pode ser observado hoje na jovem geração. É sem dúvida nas esferas superiores da burocracia, onde constituem elevada percentagem os arrivistas pouco cultos, que consideram que tudo lhes é permitido, que sevai encontrar mais grosseria e crueldade. Os arquivos e as memórias revelarão, um dia, os verdadeiros crimes cometidos contra as antigas esposas e mulheres em geral pelos pregadores da moral familiar e das “alegrias obrigatórias” da maternidade, invioláveis aos olhos da justiça.

Não, a mulher soviética não está ainda libertada. A igualdade completa apresenta ainda sensivelmente mais vantagens para as mulheres das camadas dirigentes, que vivem do trabalho burocrático, técnico, pedagógico, intelectual, de maneira geral, do que para as operárias e, particularmente, para as camponesas. Enquanto a sociedade não estiver em condições de suportar os encargos materiais da família, a mãe não pode desempenhar com verdade uma função social, a não ser que disponha de uma escrava, de uma ama, ou boa cozinheira, ou outra coisa do gênero. Das 40 milhões de famílias que formam a população da URSS, 5% ou talvez 10% baseiam direta ou indiretamente o seu bem-estar no trabalho de escravas domésticas. Seria mais útil conhecer o número exato de criadas, para apreciar sob um ponto de vista socialista a situação da mulher, do que toda a legislação soviética por mais progressista que seja. Mas é precisamente por isso que as estatísticas escondem as criadas na rubricadas operárias ou dos “diversos”!

A condição de mãe de família, comunista respeitada, que tem uma criada, um telefone para dar as suas ordens, um carro para seus deslocamentos etc., pouca relação tem com a da operária que faz as suas compras, que cozinha, que traz os filhos do jardim de infância para casa – quando tem um jardim de infância. Nenhuma etiqueta socialista pode esconder este contraste social, não menos evidente do que a diferença, em qualquer país do Ocidente, entre a senhora burguesa e a mulher proletária.

A verdadeira família socialista, libertada pela sociedade das pesadas e humilhantes tarefas quotidianas, não terá necessidade de nenhuma regulamentação. Até mesmo a ideia das leis sobre o divórcio e o aborto não lhe parecerá melhor do que a recordação das casas de prostituição ou dos sacrifícios humanos. A legislação de Outubro tinha dado um passo firme na direção desta família. O estado atrasado do país sob os aspectos econômico e cultural provocou uma cruel reação. A legislação termidoriana recua para modelos burgueses, não sem cobrir a sua retirada com frases falsas sobre a santidade da “nova” família. A inconsistência socialista dissimula-se ainda aqui, sob uma hipócrita respeitabilidade.

Os observadores sinceros espantam-se, sobretudo no que diz respeito às crianças, com a contradição entre os princípios proclamados e a triste realidade. Um fato como o recurso a extremos rigores penais contra o abandono de crianças faz sugerir o pensamento de que a legislação socialista em favor da mulher e da criança não passa de hipocrisia. Os observadores do tipo oposto são seduzidos pela amplitude e generosidade dos intentos que tomaram forma de leis e de órgãos administrativos. No que respeita às mães, às prostitutas e às crianças abandonadas, vítimas da miséria, estes otimistas dizem que o crescimento das riquezas materiais dará pouco a pouco a carne e o sangue às leis socialistas. Não é fácil dizer qual destas duas maneiras de pensar é a mais falsa e amais nociva. Mas é preciso sofrer de cegueira histórica para não avaliar a envergadura e o arrojo das intenções sociais, a importância das primeiras fases da sua realização e as vastas possibilidades abertas. E ninguém pode deixar de se indignar com o otimismo passivo e na realidade indiferente dos que fecham os olhos ao volume das contradições sociais e se consolam por meio de perspectivas de um porvir, cujas chaves se propõem deixar, respeitosamente, à burocracia. Como se a igualdade do homem e da mulher não se tivesse tornado, para a burocracia, numa igualdade na negação de todos os direitos. É como se estivesse escrito que a burocracia é incapaz de instituir um novo jugo em vez de liberdade!

A história ensina-nos bastantes coisas sobre a dominação da mulher pelo homem, e de ambos pelo explorador. E também sobre os esforços dos trabalhadores que, procurando sacudir a canga com risco da própria vida, só conseguiram, na realidade, mudar de cadeias. A História, definitivamente, não conta outra coisa. Mas como libertar efetivamente a criança, a mulher e o homem, eis sobre o que nos faltam exemplos positivos. Qualquer experiência do passado é negativa e impõe, antes de mais, aos trabalhadores, a desconfiança para com os tutores privilegiados e incontrolados.

Trotsky on “Worshipers of the Accomplished Fact”

Trotsky on “Worshipers of the Accomplished Fact”


[Originally titled “The ‘Friends’ of the Soviet Union” which was an appendix to the 1936 Revolution Betrayed. Copied from]


The “Friends” of the Soviet Union


For the first time a powerful government provides a stimulus abroad not to the respectable right, but to the left and extreme left press. The sympathies of the popular masses for the great revolution are being very skillfully canalized and sluiced into the mill of the Soviet bureaucracy. The “sympathizing” Western press is imperceptibly losing the right to publish anything which might aggrieve the ruling stratum of the Soviet Union. Books undesirable to the Kremlin are maliciously unmentioned. Noisy and mediocre apologists are published in many languages. We have avoided quoting throughout this work the specific productions of of the official “friends”, preferring the crude originals to the stylized foreign paraphrases. However, the literature of the “friends”, including that of the Communist International, the most crass and vulgar part of it, presents in cubic metres an impressive magnitude, and plays not the last role in politics. We must devote a few concluding pages to it.


At present the chief contribution to the treasury of thought is declared to be the Webbs’ book, Soviet Communism. Instead of relating what has been achieved and in what direction the achieved is developing, the authors expound for twelve hundred pages what is contemplated, indicated in the bureaus, or expounded in the laws. Their conclusion is: When the projects, plans and laws are carried out, then communism will be realized in the Soviet Union. Such is the content of this depressing book, which rehashes the reports of Moscow bureaus and the anniversary articles of the Moscow press.


Friendship for the Soviet bureaucracy is not friendship for the proletarian revolution, but, on the contrary, insurance against it. The Webbs are, to be sure, ready to acknowledge that the communist system will sometime or other spread to to the rest of the world.


“But how, when, where, with what modifications, and whether through violent revolution, or by peaceful penetration, or even by conscious imitation, are questions we cannot answer.”


This diplomatic refusal to answer – or, in reality, this unequivocal answer – is in the highest degree characteristic of the “friends”, and tells the actual price of their friendship. If everybody had thus answered the question of revolution before 1917, when it was infinitely harder to answer, there would have been no Soviet state in the world, and the British “friends” would have had to expand their fund of friendly emotion upon other objects.


The Webbs speak as of something which goes without saying about the vanity of hoping for a European revolution in the near future, and they gather from that a comforting proof of the correctness of the theory of socialism in one country. With the authority of people for whom the October Revolution was a complete, and moreover an unpleasant, surprise, they give us lessons in the necessity of building a socialist society within the limits of the Soviet Union in the absence of other perspectives. It is difficult to refrain from an impolite movement of the shoulders! In reality, our dispute with the Webbs is not as to the necessity of building factories in the SOviet Union and employing mineral fertilizers on the collective farms, but as to whether it is necessary to prepare a revolution in Great Britain and how it shall be done. Upon that question the learned sociologues answer: “We do not know.” They consider the very question, of course, in conflict with “science.”


Lenin was passionately hostile to the conservative bourgeois who imagines himself a socialist, and, in particular, to the British Fabians. By the biographical glossary attached to his Works”, it is not difficult to find out that his attitude to the Webbs throughout his whole active life remained one of unaltered fierce hostility. In 1907 he first wrote of the Webbs as “obtuse eulogists of English philistinism”, who try to represent Chartism, the revolutionary epoch of the English labor movement, as mere childishness.” Without Chartism, however, there would have been no Paris Commune. Without both, there would have been no October revolution. The Webbs found in the Soviet Union only an administrative mechanism and a bureaucratic plan. They found neither Chartism nor Communism nor the October revolution. A revolution remains for them today, as before, an alien and hostile matter, if not indeed “mere childishness.”


In his polemics against opportunists, Lenin did not trouble himself, as is well known, with the manners of the salon. But his abusive epithets (“lackeys of the bourgeoisie”, “traitors”, “boot-lick souls”) expressed during many years a carefully weighed appraisal of the Webbs and the evangels of Fabianism – that is, of traditional respectability and worship for what exists. There can be no talk of any sudden change in the views of the Webbs during recent years. These same people who during the war support their bourgeoisie, and who accepted later at the hands of the King the title of Lord Passfield, have renounced nothing, and changed not at all, in adhering to Communism in a single, and moreover a foreign, country. Sidney Webb was Colonial Minister – that is, chief jailkeeper of British imperialism – in the very period of his life when he was drawing near to the Soviet bureaucracy, receiving material from its bureaus, and on that basis working upon this two-volume compilation.


As late as 1923, the Webbs saw no great difference between Bolshevism and Tzarism (see, for example, The Decay of Capitalist Civilization, 1923). Now, however, they have fully reorganized the “democracy” of the Stalin regime. It is needless to seek any contradiction here. The Fabians were indignant when the revolutionary proletariat withdrew freedom of activity from “educated” society, but they think it quite in the order of things when a bureaucracy withdraws freedom of activity from the proletariat. Has not this always been the function of the laborite’s workers’ bureaucracy? The Webbs swear, for example, that criticism in the Soviet Union is completely free. A sense of humor is not to be expected of these people. They refer with complete seriousness to that notorious “self-criticism” which is enacted as a part of one’s official duties, and the direction of which, as well as its limits, can always be accurately foretold.


Naïveté? Neither Engels nor Lenin considered Sidney Webb naive. Respectability rather. After all, it is a question of an established regime and of hospitable hosts. The Webbs are extremely disapproving in their attitude to a Marxian criticism of what exists. They consider themselves called to preserve the heritage of the October revolution from the Left Opposition. For the sake of completeness we observe that in its day the Labor Government in which Lord Passfield (Sidney Webb) held a portfolio refused the author of this work a visa to enter Great Britain. Thus Sidney Webb, who in those very days was working on his book upon the Soviet Union, is theoretically defending the Soviet Union from being undermined, but practically he is defending the Empire of His Majesty. In justice be it said that in both cases he remains true to himself.


* * *


For many of the petty bourgeoisie who master neither pen nor brush, an officially registered “friendship” for the Soviet Union is a kind of certificate of higher spiritual interests. Membership in Freemason lodges or pacifist clubs has much in common with membership in the society of “Friends of the Soviet Union”, for it makes it possible to live two lives at once: an everyday life in a circle of commonplace interests, and a holiday life evaluating to the soul. From time to time the “friends” visit Moscow. They note down in their memory tractors, creches, Pioneers, parades, parachute girls – in a word, everything except the new aristocracy. The best of them close their eyes to this out of a feeling of hostility toward capitalist reaction. Andre Gide frankly acknowledges this:


“The stupid and dishonest attack against the Soviet Union has brought it about that we now defend it with a certain obstinacy.”


But the stupidity and dishonesty of one’s enemies is no justification for one’s own blindness. The working masses, at any rate, have need of clearsighted friends.


The epidemic sympathy of bourgeois radicals and socialist bourgeois for the ruling stratum of the Soviet Union has causes that are not unimportant. In the circle of professional politicians, notwithstanding all differences of program, there is always a predominance of those friendly to such “progress” as is already achieved or can easily be achieved. There are incomparably more reformers in the world than revolutionists, more accommodationists than irreconciables. Only in exceptional historic periods, when the masses come into movement, do the revolutionists emerge from their isolation, and the reformers become more like fish out of water.


In the milieu of the present Soviet bureaucracy, there is not a person who did not, prior to April 1917, and even considerably later, regard the idea of a proletarian dictatorship in Russia as fantastic. (At that time this “fantasy” was called … Trotskyism.) The older generation of the foreign “friends” for decades regarded as Realpolitiker to Russian Mensheviks, who stood for a “people’s front” with the liberals and rejected the idea of dictatorship as arrant madness. To recognize a dictatorship when it is already achieved and even bureaucratically befouled – that is a different matter. That is a matter exactly to the minds of these “friends.” They now not only pay their respects to the Soviet state, but even defined it against its enemies – not so much, to be sure, against those who yearn for the past, as against those who are preparing the future. Where these “friends” are active preparing, as in the case of the French, Belgian, English and other reformists, it is convenient to them to conceal their solidarity with the bourgeoisie under a concern for the defense of the Soviet Union. Where, on the other hand, they have unwillingly become defeatists, as in the case of the German and Austrian social patriots of yesterday, they hope that the alliance of France with the Soviet Union may help them settle with Hitler or Schussnigg. Leon Blum, who was an enemy of Bolshevism in its heroic epoch, and opened the pages of Le Populaire for the express purpose of publicly baiting the October revolution, would now not print a line exposing the real crimes of the Soviet bureaucracy. Just as the Biblical Moses, thirsting to see the face of Jehovah, was permitted to make his bow only to the rearward parts of the divine anatomy, so the honorable reformists, worshipers of the accomplished fact, are capable of knowing and acknowledging in a revolution only its meaty bureaucratic posterior.


The present communist “leaders” belong in essence to the same type. After a long series of monkey jumps and grimaces, they have suddenly discovered the enormous advantages of opportunism, and have seized upon it with the freshness proper to that ignorance which has always distinguished them. Their slavish and not always disinterested kowtowing to the upper circles in the Kremlin alone renders them absolutely incapable of revolutionary initiative. They answer critical arguments no otherwise than with snarling and barking; and, moreover, under the whip of the boss they wag their tails. This most unattractive aggregation, which in the hour of danger will scatter to the four winds, considers us flagrant “counterrevolutionists.” What of it? History, in spite of its austere character, cannot get along without an occassional farce.


The more honest or open-eyed of the “friends”, at least when speaking tete-a-tete, concede that there is a spot on the Soviet sun. But substituting a fatalistic for a dialectic analysis, they console themselves with the thought that “a certain” bureaucratic degeneration in the given conditions was historically inevitable. Even so! The resistance to this degeneration also has not fallen from the sky. A necessity has two ends: the reactionary and the progressive. History teaches that persons and parties which drag at the opposite ends of a necessity turn out in the long run on opposite sides of the barricade.


The final argument of the “friends” is that reactionaries will seize upon any criticism of the Soviet regime. That is indubitable! We may assume that they will try to get something for themselves out of the present book. When was it ever otherwise? The Communist Manifesto spoke scornfully of the fact that the feudal reaction tried to use against liberalism the arrows of socialist criticism. That did not prevent revolutionary socialism from following its road. It will not prevent us either. The press of the Communist International, it is true, goes so far as to assert that our criticism is preparing military intervention against the Soviets. This obviously means that the capitalist governments, learning from our works of the degeneration of the Soviet bureaucracy, will immediately equip a punitive expedition to avenge the trampled principles of October! The polemists of the Communist International are not armed with rapiers but wagon tongues, or some still less nimble instrument. In reality a Marxist criticism, which calls things by their real names, can only increase the conservative credit of the Soviet diplomacy in the eyes of the bourgeoisie.


It is otherwise with the working class and its sincere champions among the intelligentsia. Here our work will cause doubts and evoke distrust – not of revolutionaries, but of its usurpers. But that is the very goal we have set ourselves. The motor force of progress is truth and not lies.

The Soviet Thermidor

The Soviet Thermidor


by Leon Trotsky


[Chapter 5 of “The Revolution Betrayed: What is the Soviet Union and Where is it Going?” (1936). Copied from ]



1. Why Stalin Triumphed


The historians of the Soviet Union cannot fail to conclude that the policy of the ruling bureaucracy upon great questions has been a series of contradictory zigzags. The attempt to explain or justify them “by changing circumstances” obviously won’t hold water. To guide means at least in some degree to exercise foresight. The Stalin faction have not in the slightest degree foreseen the inevitable results of the development; they have been caught napping every time. They have reacted with mere administrative reflexes. The theory of each successive turn has been created after the fact, and with small regard for what they were teaching yesterday. On the basis of the same irrefutable facts and documents, the historian will be compelled to conclude that the so-called “Left Opposition” offered an immeasurably more correct analysis of the processes taking place in the country, and far more truly foresaw their further development.


This assertion is contradicted at first glance by the simple fact that the fiction which could not see ahead was steadily victorious, while the more penetrating group suffered defeat after defeat. That kind of objection, which comes automatically to mind, is convincing, however, only for those who think rationalistically, and see in politics a logical argument or a chess match. A political struggle is in its essence a struggle of interests and forces, not of arguments. The quality of the leadership is, of course, far from a matter of indifference for the outcome of the conflict, but it is not the only factor, and in the last analysis is not decisive. Each of the struggling camps moreover demands leaders in its own image.


The February revolution raised Kerensky and Tsereteli to power, not because they were “cleverer” or “more astute” than the ruling tzarist clique, but because they represented, at least temporarily, the revolutionary masses of the people in their revolt against the old regime. Kerensky was able to drive Lenin underground and imprison other Bolshevik leaders, not because he excelled them in personal qualifications, but because the majority of the workers and soldiers in those days were still following the patriotic petty bourgeoisie. The personal “superiority” of Kerensky, if it is suitable to employ such a word in this connection, consisted in the fact that he did not see farther than the overwhelming majority. The Bolsheviks in their turn conquered the petty bourgeois democrats, not through the personal superiority of their leaders, but through a new correlation of social forces. The proletariat had succeeded at last in leading the discontented peasantry against the bourgeoisie.


The consecutive stages of the great French Revolution, during its rise and fall alike, demonstrate no less convincingly that the strength of the “leaders” and “heroes” that replaced each other consisted primarily in their correspondence to the character of those classes and strata which supported them. Only this correspondence, and not any irrelevant superiorities whatever, permitted each of them to place the impress of his personality upon a certain historic period. In the successive supremacy of Mirabeau, Brissot, Robespierre, Barras and Bonaparte, there is an obedience to objective law incomparably more effective than the special traits of the historic protagonists themselves.


It is sufficiently well known that every revolution up to this time has been followed by a reaction, or even a counterrevolution. This, to be sure, has never thrown the nation all the way back to its starting point, but it has always taken from the people the lion’s share of their conquests. The victims of the first revolutionary wave have been, as a general rule, those pioneers, initiators, and instigators who stood at the head of the masses in the period of the revolutionary offensive. In their stead people of the second line, in league with the former enemies of the revolution, have been advanced to the front. Beneath this dramatic duel of “coryphées” on the open political scene, shifts have taken place in the relations between classes, and, no less important, profound changes in the psychology of the recently revolutionary masses.


Answering the bewildered questions of many comrades as to what has become of the activity of the Bolshevik party and the working class – where is its revolutionary initiative, its spirit of self-sacrifice and plebian pride – why, in place of all this, has appeared so much vileness, cowardice, pusillanimity and careerism – Rakovsky referred to the life story of the French revolution of the 18th century, and offered the example of Babuef, who on emerging from the Abbaye prison likewise wondered what had become of the heroic people of the Parisian suburbs. A revolution of the heroic people of the Parisian suburbs. A revolution is a mighty devourer of human energy, both individual and collective. The nerves give way. Consciousness is shaken and characters are worn out. Events unfold too swiftly for the flow of fresh forces to replace the loss. Hunger, unemployment, the death of the revolutionary cadres, the removal of the masses from administration, all this led to such a physical and moral impoverishment of the Parisian suburbs that they required three decades before they were ready for a new insurrection.


The axiomatic assertions of the Soviet literature, to the effect that the laws of bourgeois revolutions are “inapplicable” to a proletarian revolution, have no scientific content whatever. The proletarian character of the October revolution was determined by the world situation and by a special correlation of internal forces. But the classes themselves were formed in the barbarous circumstances of tzarism and backward capitalism, and were anything but made to order for the demands of a socialist revolution. The exact opposite is true. It is for the very reason that a proletariat still backward in many respects achieved in the space of a few months the unprecedented leap from a semi-feudal monarchy to a socialist dictatorship, that the reaction in its ranks was inevitable. This reaction has developed in a series of consecutive waves. External conditions and events have vied with each other in nourishing it. Intervention followed intervention. The revolution got no direct help from the west. Instead of the expected prosperity of the country an ominous destitution reigned for long. Moreover, the outstanding representatives of the working class either died in the civil war, or rose a few steps higher and broke away from the masses. And thus after an unexampled tension of forces, hopes and illusions, there came a long period of weariness, decline and sheer disappointment in the results of the revolution. The ebb of the “plebian pride” made room for a flood of pusillanimity and careerism. The new commanding caste rose to its place upon this wave.


The demobilization of the Red Army of five million played no small role in the formation of the bureaucracy. The victorious commanders assumed leading posts in the local Soviets, in economy, in education, and they persistently introduced everywhere that regime which had ensured success in the civil war. Thus on all sides the masses were pushed away gradually from actual participation in the leadership of the country.


The reaction within the proletariat caused an extraordinary flush of hope and confidence in the petty bourgeois strata of town and country, aroused as they were to new life by the NEP, and growing bolder and bolder. The young bureaucracy, which had arisen at first as an agent of the proletariat, began ow to feel itself a court of arbitration between classes. Its independence increased from mouth to mouth.


The international situation was pushing with mighty forces in the same direction. The Soviet bureaucracy became more self-confident, the heavier blows dealt to the working class. Between these two facts there was not only a chronological, but a causal connection, and one which worked in two directions. The leaders of the bureaucracy promoted the proletarian defeats; the defeats promoted the rise of the bureaucracy. The crushing of the Bulgarian insurrection in 1924, the treacherous liquidation of the General Strike in England and the unworthy conduct of the Polish workers’ party at the installation of Pilsudski in 1926, the terrible massacre of the Chinese revolution in 1927, and, finally, the still more ominous recent defeats in Germany and Austria – these are the historic catastrophes which killed the faith of the Soviet masses in world revolution, and permitted the bureaucracy to rise higher and higher as the sole light of salvation.


As to the causes of the defeat of the world proletariat during the last thirteen years, the author must refer to his other works, where he has tried to expose the ruinous part played by the leadership in the Kremlin, isolated from the masses and profoundly conservative as it is, in the revolutionary movement of all countries. Here we are concerned primarily with the irrefutable and instructive fact that the continual defeats of the revolution in Europe and Asia, while weakening the international position of the Soviet Union, have vastly strengthened the Soviet bureaucracy. Two dates are especially significant in this historic series. In the second half of 1923, the attention of the Soviet workers was passionately fixed upon Germany, where the proletariat, it seemed, had stretched out its hand to power. The panicky retreat of the German Communist Party was the heaviest possible disappointment to the working masses of the Soviet Union. The Soviet bureaucracy straightway opened a campaign against the theory of “permanent revolution”, and dealt the Left Opposition its first cruel blow. During the years 1926 and 1927 the population of the Soviet Union experienced a new tide of hope. All eyes were now directed to the East where the drama of the Chinese revolution was unfolding. The Left Opposition had recovered from the previous blows and was recruiting a phalanx of new adherents. At the end of 1927 the Chinese revolution was massacred by the hangman, Chiang Kai-shek, into whose hands the Communist International had literally betrayed the Chinese workers and peasants. A cold wave of disappointment swept over the masses of the Soviet Union. After an unbridled baiting in the press and at meetings, the bureaucracy finally, in 1928, ventured upon mass arrests among the Left Opposition.


To be sure, tens of thousands of revolutionary fighters gathered around the banner of the Bolshevik-Leninists. The advanced workers were indubitably sympathetic to the Opposition, but that sympathy remained passive. The masses lacked faith that the situation could be seriously changed by a new struggle. Meantime the bureaucracy asserted:


“For the sake of an international revolution, the Opposition proposes to drag us into a revolutionary war. Enough of shake-ups! We have earned the right to rest. We will build the socialist society at home. Rely upon us, your leaders!”


This gospel of repose firmly consolidated the apparatchiki and the military and state officials and indubitably found an echo among the weary workers, and still more the peasant masses. Can it be, they asked themselves, that the Opposition is actually ready to sacrifice the interests of the Soviet Union for the idea of “permanent revolution”? In reality, the struggle had been about the life interests of the Soviet state. The false policy of the International in Germany resulted ten years later in the victory of Hitler – that is, in a threatening war danger from the West. And the no less false policy in China reinforced Japanese imperialism and brought very much nearer the danger in the East. But periods of reaction are characterized above all by a lack of courageous thinking.


The Opposition was isolated. The bureaucracy struck while the iron was hot, exploiting the bewilderment and passivity of the workers, setting their more backward strata against the advanced, and relying more and more boldly upon the kulak and the petty bourgeois ally in general. In the course of a few years, the bureaucracy thus shattered the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat.


It would be naive to imagine that Stalin, previously unknown to the masses, suddenly issued from the wings full armed with a complete strategical plan. No indeed. Before he felt out his own course, the bureaucracy felt out Stalin himself. He brought it all the necessary guarantees: the prestige of an old Bolshevik, a strong character, narrow vision, and close bonds with the political machine as the sole source of his influence. The success which fell upon him was a surprise at first to Stalin himself. It was the friendly welcome of the new ruling group, trying to free itself from the old principles and from the control of the masses, and having need of a reliable arbiter in its inner affairs. A secondary figure before the masses and in the events of the revolution, Stalin revealed himself as the indubitable leader of the Thermidorian bureaucracy, as first in its midst.


The new ruling caste soon revealed soon revealed its own ideas, feelings and, more important, its interests. The overwhelming majority of the older generation of the present bureaucracy had stood on the other side of the barricades during the October revolution. (Take, for example, the Soviet ambassadors only: Troyanovsky, Maisky, Potemkin, Suritz, Khinchuk, etc.) Or at best they had stood aside from the struggle. Those of the present bureaucrats who were in the Bolshevik camp in the October dys played in the majority of cases no considerable role. As for the young bureaucrats, they have been chosen and educated by the elders, frequently from among their own offspring. These people could not have achieved the October revolution, but they were perfectly suited to exploit it.


Personal incidents in the interval between these two historic chapters were not, of course, without influence. Thus the sickness and death of Lenin undoubtedly hastened the denouement. Had Lenin lived longer, the pressure of the bureaucratic power would have developed, at least during the first years, more slowly. But as early as 1926 Krupskaya said, of Left Oppositionists: “If Ilych were alive, he would probably already be in prison.” The fears and alarming prophecies of Lenin himself were then still fresh in her memory, and she cherished no illusions as to his personal omnipotence against opposing historic winds and currents.


The bureaucracy conquered something more than the Left Opposition. It conquered the Bolshevik party. It defeated the program of Lenin, who had seen the chief danger in the conversion of the organs of the state “from servants of society to lords over society.” It defeated all these enemies, the Opposition, the party and Lenin, not with ideas and arguments, but with its own social weight. The leaden rump of bureaucracy outweighed the head of the revolution. That is the secret of the Soviet’s Thermidor.


2. The Degeneration of the Bolshevik Party


The Bolshevik party prepared and insured the October victory. It also created the Soviet state, supplying it with a sturdy skeleton. The degeneration of the party became both cause and consequence of the bureaucratization of the state. It is necessary to show at at least briefly how this happened.


The inner regime of the Bolshevik party was characterized by the method of democratic centralism. The combination of these two concepts, democracy and centralism, is not in the least contradictory. The party took watchful care not only that its boundaries should always be strictly defined, but also that all those who entered these boundaries should enjoy the actual right to define the direction of the party policy. Freedom of criticism and intellectual struggle was an irrevocable content of the party democracy. The present doctrine that Bolshevism does not tolerate factions is a myth of epoch decline. In reality the history of Bolshevism is a history of the struggle of factions. And, indeed, how could a genuinely revolutionary organization, setting itself the task of overthrowing the world and uniting under its banner the most audacious iconoclasts, fighters and insurgents, live and develop without intellectual conflicts, without groupings and temporary factional formations? The farsightedness of the Bolshevik leadership often made it possible to soften conflicts and shorten the duration of factional struggle, but no more than that. The Central Committee relied upon this seething democratic support. From this it derived the audacity to make decisions and give orders. The obvious correctness of the leadership at all critical stages gave it that high authority which is the priceless moral capital of centralism.


The regime of the Bolshevik party, especially before it came to power, stood thus in complete contradiction to the regime of the present sections of the Communist International, with their “leaders” appointed from above, making complete changes of policy at a word of command, with their uncontrolled apparatus, haughty in its attitude to the rank and file, servile in its attitude to the Kremlin. But in the first years after the conquest of power also, even when the administrative rust was already visible on the party, every Bolshevik, not excluding Stalin, would have denounced as a malicious slanderer anyone who should have shown him on a screen the image of the party ten or fifteen years later.


The very center of Lenin’s attention and that of his colleagues was occupied by a continual concern to protect the Bolshevik ranks from the vices of those in power. However, the extraordinary closeness and at times actual merging of the party with the state apparatus had already in those first years done indubitable harm to the freedom and elasticity of the party regime. Democracy had been narrowed in proportion as difficulties increased. In the beginning, the party had wished and hoped to preserve freedom of political struggle within the framework of the Soviets. The civil war introduced stern amendments into this calculation. The opposition parties were forbidden one after the other. This measure, obviously in conflict with the spirit of Soviet democracy, the leaders of Bolshevism regarded not as a principle, but as an episodic act of self-defense.


The swift growth of the ruling party, with the novelty and immensity of its tasks, inevitably gave rise to inner disagreements. The underground oppositional currents in the country exerted a pressure through various channels upon the sole legal political organization, increasing the acuteness of the factional struggle. At the moment of completion of the civil war, this struggle took such sharp forms as to threaten to unsettle the state power. In March 1921, in the days of the Kronstadt revolt, which attracted into its ranks no small number of Bolsheviks, the 10th Congress of the party thought it necessary to resort to a prohibition of factions – that is, to transfer the political regime prevailing in the state to the inner life of the ruling party. This forbidding of factions was again regarded as an exceptional measure to be abandoned at the first serious improvement in the situation. At the same time, the Central Committee was extremely cautious in applying the new law, concerning itself most of all lest it lead to a strangling of the inner life of the party.


However, what was in its original design merely a necessary concession to a difficult situation, proved perfectly suited to the taste of the bureaucracy, which had then begun to approach the inner life of the party exclusively from the viewpoint of convenience in administration. Already in 1922, during a brief improvement in his health, Lenin, horrified at the threatening growth of bureaucratism, was preparing a struggle against the faction of Stalin, which had made itself the axis of the party machine as a first step toward capturing the machinery of state. A second stroke and then death prevented him from measuring forces with this internal reaction.


The entire effort of Stalin, with whom at that time Zinoviev and Kamenev were working hand in hand, was thenceforth directed to freeing the party machine from the control of the rank-and-file members of the party. In this struggle for “stability” of the Central Committee, Stalin proved the most consistent and reliable among his colleagues. He had no need to tear himself away from international problems; he had never been concerned with them. The petty bourgeois outlook of the new ruling stratum was his own outlook. He profoundly believed that the task of creating socialism was national and administrative in its nature. He looked upon the Communist International as a necessary evil would should be used so far as possible for the purposes of foreign policy. His own party kept a value in his eyes merely as a submissive support for the machine.


Together with the theory of socialism in one country, there was put into circulation by the bureaucracy a theory that in Bolshevism the Central Committee is everything and the party nothing. This second theory was in any case realized with more success than the first. Availing itself of the death of Lenin, the ruling group announced a “Leninist levy.” The gates of the party, always carefully guarded, were now thrown wide open. Workers, clerks, petty officials, flocked through in crowds. The political aim of this maneuver was to dissolve the revolutionary vanguard in raw human material, without experience, without independence, and yet with the old habit of submitting to the authorities. The scheme was successful. By freeing the bureaucracy from the control of the proletarian vanguard, the “Leninist levy” dealt a death blow to the party of Lenin. The machine had won the necessary independence. Democratic centralism gave place to bureaucratic centralism. In the party apparatus itself there now took place a radical reshuffling of personnel from top to bottom. The chief merit of a Bolshevik was declared to be obedience. Under the guise of a struggle with the opposition, there occurred a sweeping replacement of revolutionists with chinovniks. [1]The history of the Bolshevik party became a history of its rapid degeneration.


The political meaning of the developing struggle was darkened for many by the circumstances that the leaders of all three groupings, Left, Center and Right, belonged to one and the same staff in the Kremlin, the Politburo. To superficial minds it seemed to be a mere matter of personal rivalry, a struggle for the “heritage” of Lenin. But in the conditions of iron dictatorship social antagonisms could not show themselves at first except through the institutions of the ruling party. Many Thermidorians emerged in their day from the circle of the Jacobins. Bonaparte himself belonged to that circle in his early years, and subsequently it was from among former Jacobins that the First Consul and Emperor of France selected his most faithful servants. Times change and the Jacobins with them, not excluding the Jacobins of the twentieth century.


Of the Politburo of Lenin’s epoch there now remains only Stalin. Two of its members, Zinoviev and Kamenev, collaborators of Lenin throughout many years as émigrés, are enduring ten-year prison terms for a crime which they did not commit. Three other members, Rykov, Bukharin and Tomsky, are completely removed from the leadership, but as a reward for submission occupy secondary posts. [2]


And, finally, the author of these lines is in exile. The widow of Lenin, Krupskaya, is also under the ban, having proved unable with all her efforts to adjust herself completely to the Thermidor.


The members of the present Politburo occupied secondary posts throughout the history of the Bolshevik party. If anybody in the first years of the revolution had predicted their future elevation, they would have been the first in surprise, and there would have been no false modesty in their surprise. For this very reason, the rule is more stern at present that the Politburo is always right, and in any case that no man can be right against Stalin, who is unable to make mistakes and consequently cannot be right against himself.


Demands for party democracy were through all this time the slogans of all the oppositional groups, as insistent as they were hopeless. The above-mentioned platform of the Left Opposition demanded in 1927 that a special law be written into the Criminal Code “punishing as a serious state crime every direct or indirect persecution of a worker for criticism.” Instead of this, there was introduced into the Criminal Code an article against the Left Opposition itself.


Of party democracy there remained only recollections in the memory of the older generation. And together with it had disappeared the democracy of the soviets, the trade unions, the co-operatives, the cultural and athletic organizations. Above each and every one of them there reigns an unlimited hierarchy of party secretaries. The regime had become “totalitarian” in character several years before this word arrived from Germany.


“By means of demoralizing methods, which convert thinking communists into machines, destroying will, character and human dignity,” wrote Rakovsky in 1928, “the ruling circles have succeeded in converting themselves into an unremovable and inviolate oligarchy, which replaces the class and the party.”


Since these indignant lines were written,the degeneration of the regime has gone immeasurably farther. The GPU has become the decisive factor in the inner life of the party. If Molotov in March 1936 was able to boast to a French journalist that the ruling party no longer contains any factional struggle, it is only because disagreements are now settled by the automatic intervention of the political police. The old Bolshevik party is dead and no force will resurrect it.


* * *


Parallel with the political degeneration of the party, there occurred a moral decay of the uncontrolled apparatus. The word “sovbour” – soviet bourgeois – as applied to a privileged dignitary appeared very early in the workers’ vocabulary. With the transfer to the NEP bourgeois tendencies received a more copious field of action. At the 11th Congress of the party, in March 1922, Lenin gave warning of the danger of a degeneration of the ruling stratum. It has occurred more than once in history, he said, that the conqueror took over the culture of the conquered, when the latter stood on a higher level. The culture of the Russian bourgeoisie and the old bureaucracy was, to be sure, miserable, but alas the new ruling stratum must often take off its hat to that culture. “Four thousand seven hundred responsible communists” in Moscow administer the state machine. “Who is leading whom? I doubt very much whether you can say that the communists are in the lead …” In subsequent congresses, Lenin could not speak. But all his thoughts in the last months of his active life were of warning and arming the workers against the oppression, caprice and decay of the bureaucracy. He, however, saw only the first symptoms of the disease.


Christian Rakovsky, former president of the soviet of People’s Commissars of the Ukraine, and later Soviet Ambassador in London and Paris, sent to his friends in 1928, when already in exile, a brief inquiry into the Soviet bureaucracy, which we have quoted above several times, for it still remains the best that has been written on this subject.


“In the mind of Lenin, and in all our minds,” says Rakovsky, “the task of the party leadership was to protect both the party and the working class from the corrupting action of privilege, place and patronage on the part of those in power, from rapprochement with the relics of the old nobility and burgherdom, from the corrupting influence of the NEP, from the temptation of bourgeois morals and ideologies … We must say frankly, definitely and loudly that the party apparatus has not fulfilled this task, that it has revealed a complete incapacity for its double role of protector and educator. It has failed. It is bankrupt.”


It is true that Rakovsky himself, broken by the bureaucratic repressions, subsequently repudiated his own critical judgments. But the 70-year-old Galileo too, caught in the vise of the Holy Inquisition, found himself compelled to repudiate the system of Copernicus – which did not prevent the earth from continuing to revolve around the sun. We do not believe in the recantation of the 60-year-old Rakovsky, for he himself has more than once made a withering analysis of such recantations. As to his political criticisms, they have found in the facts of the objective development a far more reliable support than in the subjective stout-heartedness of their author.


The conquest of power changes not only the relations of the proletariat to other classes, but also its own inner structure. The wielding of power becomes the speciality of a definite social group, which is the more impatient to solve its own “social problem”, the higher its opinion of the own mission.


“In a proletarian state, where capitalist accumulation is forbidden to the members of the ruling party, the differentiation is at first functional, but afterward becomes social. I do not say it becomes a class differentiation, but a social one …”


Rakovsky further explains:


“The social situation of the communist who has at his disposition an automobile, a good apartment, regular vacations, and receives the party maximum of salary, differs from the situation of the communist who works in the coal mines, where he receives from 50 to 60 rubles a month.”


Counting over the causes of the degeneration of the Jacobins when in power – the chase after wealth, participation in government contracts, supplies, etc., Rakovsky cites a curious remark of Babeuf to the effect that the degeneration of the new ruling stratum was helped along not a little by the former young ladies of the aristocracy toward whom the Jacobins were very friendly. “What are you doing, small-hearted plebians?” cries Babeuf. “Today they are embracing you and tomorrow they will strangle you.” A census of the wives of the ruling stratum in the Soviet Union would show a similar picture. The well-known Soviet journalist, Sosnovsky, pointed out the special role played by the “automobile-harem factor” in forming the morals of the Soviet bureaucracy. It is true that Sosnovsky, too, following Rakovsky, recanted and was returned from Siberia. But that did not improve the morals of the bureaucracy. On the contrary, that very recantation is proof of a progressing demoralization.


The old articles of Sosnovsky, passed about in manuscript from hand to hand, were sprinkled with unforgettable episodes from the life of the new ruling stratum, plainly showing to what vast degree the conquerors have assimilated the morals of the conquered. Not to return, however, to past years – for Sosnovsky finally exchanged his whip for a lyre in 1934 – we will confine ourselves to wholly fresh examples from the Soviet press. And we will not select the abuses and co-called “excesses”, either, but everyday phenomena legalized by official social opinion.


The director of a Moscow factory, a prominent communist, boasts in Pravda of the cultural growth of the enterprise directed by him. “A mechanic telephones: ‘What is your order, sir, check the furnace immediately or wait?’ I answer: ‘Wait.’” [3] The mechanic addresses the director with extreme respect, using the second person plural, while the director answers him in the second person singular. And this disgraceful dialogue, impossible in any cultures capitalist country, is related by the director himself on the pages of Pravda as something entirely normal! The editor does not object because he does not notice it. The readers do not object because they are accustomed to it. We are also not surprised, for at solemn sessions in the Kremlin, the “leaders” and People’s Commissars address in the second person singular directors of factories subordinate to them, presidents of collective farms, shop foremen and working women, especially invited to receive decorations. How can they fail to remember that one of the most popular revolutionary slogans in tzarist Russia was the demand for the abolition of the use of the second person singular by bosses in addressing their subordinates!


These Kremlin dialogues of the authorities with “the people”, astonishing in their lordly ungraciousness, unmistakably testify that, in spite of the October Revolution, the nationalization of the means of production, collectivization, and “the liquidation of the kulaks as a class”, the relations among men, and that at the very heights of the Soviet pyramid, have not only not yet risen to socialism, but in many respects are still lagging behind a cultured capitalism. In recent years enormous backward steps have been taken in this very important sphere. And the source of this revival of genuine Russian barbarism is indubitably the Soviet Thermidor, which has given complete independence nd freedom from control to a bureaucracy possessing little culture, and has given to the masses the well-known gospel of obedience and silence.


We are far from intending to contrast the abstraction of dictatorship with the abstraction of democracy, and weight their merits on the scales of pure reason. Everything is relative in this world, where change alone endures. The dictatorship of the Bolshevik party proved one of the most powerful instruments of progress in history. But here too, in the words of the poet, “Reason becomes unreason, kindness a pest.” The prohibition of oppositional parties brought after it the prohibition of factions. The prohibition of factions ended in a prohibition to think otherwise than the infallible leaders. The police-manufactured monolithism of the party resulted in a bureaucratic impunity which has become the sources of all kinds of wantonness and corruption.


3. The Social Roots of Thermidor


We have defined the Soviet Thermidor as a triumph of the bureaucracy over the masses. We have tried to disclose the historic conditions of this triumph. The revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat was in part devoured by the administrative apparatus and gradually demoralized, in part annihilated in the civil war, and in part thrown out and crushed. The tired and disappointed masses were indifferent to what was happening on the summits. These conditions, however, are inadequate to explain why the bureaucracy succeeded in raising itself above society and getting its fate firmly into its own hands. Its own will to this would in any case be inadequate; the arising of a new ruling stratum must have deep social causes.


The victory of the Thermidorians over the Jacobins in the 18th century was also aided by the weariness of the masses and the demoralization of the leading cadres, but beneath these essentially incidental phenomena a deep organic process was taking place. The Jacobins rested upon the lower petty bourgeoisie lifted by the great wave. The revolution of the 18th century, however, corresponding to the course of development of the productive forces, could not but bring the great bourgeoisie to political ascendancy in the long run. The Thermidor was only one of the stages in this inevitable process. What similar social necessity found expression in the Soviet Thermidor? We have tried already in one of the preceding chapters to make a preliminary answer to the question why the gendarme triumphed. We must now prolong out analysis of the conditions of the transition from capitalism to socialism, and the role of the state in this process. Let us again compare theoretic prophecy with reality.


“It is still necessary to suppress the bourgeoisie and its resistance,” wrote Lenin in 1917, speaking of the period which should begin immediately after the conquest of power, “but the organ of suppression here is now the majority of the population, and not the minority as had heretofore always been the case…. In that sense the state is beginning to die away.”


In what does this dying away express itself? Primarily in the fact that “in place of special institutions of a privileged minority (privileged officials, commanders of a standing army), the majority itself can directly carry out” the functions of suppression. Lenin follows this with a statement axiomatic and unanswerable:


“The more universal becomes the very fulfillment of the functions of the state power, the less need is there of this power.”


The annulment of private property in the means of production removes the principal task of the historic state – defense of the proprietary privileges of the minority against the overwhelming majority.


The dying away of the state begins, then, according to Lenin, on the very day after the expropriation of the expropriators – that is, before the new regime has had time to take up its economic and cultural problems. Every success in the solution of these problems mens a further step in the liquidation of the state, its dissolution in the socialist society. The degree of this dissolution is the best index of the depth and efficacy of the socialist structure. We may lay down approximately this sociological theorem: The strength of the compulsion exercised by the masses in a workers’ state is directly proportional to the strength of the exploitive tendencies, or the danger of a restoration of capitalism, and inversely proportional to the strength of the social solidarity and the general loyalty to the new regime. Thus the bureaucracy – that is, the “privileged officials and commanders of the standing army” – represents a special kind of compulsion which the masses cannot or do not wish to exercise, and which, one way or another, is directed against the masses themselves.


If the diplomatic soviets had preserved to this day their original strength and independence, and yet were compelled to resort to repressions and compulsions on the scale of the first years, this circumstance might of itself give rise to serious anxiety. How much greater must be the alarm in view of the fact that the mass soviet have entirely disappeared from the scene, having turned over the function of compulsion to Stalin, Yagoda and company. And what forms of compulsion! First of all we must ask ourselves: What social cause stands behind its policification The importance of this question is obvious. In dependence upon the answer, we must either radically revise out traditional views of the socialist society in general, or as radically reject the official estimates of the Soviet Union.


Let us now take from the latest number of a Moscow newspaper a stereotyped characterization of the present Soviet regime, one of those which are repeated throughout the country from day to day and which school children learn by heart:


“In the Soviet Union the parasitical classes of capitalists, landlords and kulaks are completely liquidated, and thus is forever ended the exploitation of man by man. The whole national economy has become socialistic, and the growing Stakhanov movement is preparing the conditions for a transition from socialism to communism.” (Pravda, April 4, 1936)


The world press of the Communist International, it goes without saying, has no other thing to say on this subject. But if exploitation is “ended forever”, if the country is really now on the road from socialism, that is, the lowest stage of communism, to its higher stage, then there remains nothing for society to do but throw off at last the straitjacket of the state. In place of this – it is hard even to grasp this contrast with the mind! – the Soviet state has acquired a totalitarian-bureaucratic character.


The same fatal contradiction finds illustration in the fate of the party. Here the problem may be formulated approximately thus: Why, from 1917 to 1921, when the old ruling classes were still fighting with weapons in the hands, when they were actively supported by the imperialists of the whole world, when the kulaks in arms were sabotaging the army and food supplies of the country, – why was it possible to dispute openly and fearlessly in the party about the most critical questions of policy? Why now, after the cessation of intervention, after the shattering of the exploiting classes, after the indubitable successes of industrialization, after the collectivization of the overwhelming majority of the peasants, is it impossible to permit the slightest word of criticism of the unremovable leaders? Why is it that any Bolshevik who should demand a calling of the congress of the party in accordance with its constitution would be immediately expelled, any citizen who expressed out loud a doubt of the infallibility of Stalin would be tried and convicted almost as though a participant in a terrorist plot? Whence this terrible, monstrous and unbearable intensity of repression and of the police apparatus?


Theory is not a note which you can present at any moment to reality for payment. If a theory proves mistaken we must revise it or fill out its gaps. We must find out those real social forces which have given rise to the contrast between Soviet reality and the traditional Marxian conception. In any case we must not wander in the dark, repeating ritual phrases, useful for the prestige of the leaders, but which nevertheless slap the living reality in the face. We shall now see a convincing example of this.


In a speech at a session of the Central Executive Committee in January 1936, Molotov, the president of the Council of People’s Commissars, declared:


“The national economy of the country has become socialistic. (applause) In that sense [?] we have solved the problem of the liquidation of classes.” (applause)


However, there still remain from the past “elements in their nature hostile to us,” fragments of the former ruling classes. Moreover, among the collectivized farmers, state employees and sometimes also the workers, spekulantiki[“petty speculators”] are discovered, “grafters in relation to the collective and state wealth, anti-Soviets gossip, etc.” And hence results the necessity of a further reinforcement of the dictatorship. In opposition to Engels, the workers’ state must not “fall asleep”, but on the contrary become more and more vigilant.


The picture drawn by the head of the Soviet government would be reassuring in the highest degree, were it not murderously self-contradictory. Socialism completely reigns in the country: “In that sense” classes are abolished. (If they are abolished in that sense, they they are in every other.) To be sure, the social harmony is broken here and there by fragments and remnants of the past, but it is impossible to think that scattered dreamers of a restoration of capitalism, deprived of power and property, together with “petty speculators” (not even speculators!) and “gossips” are capable of overthrowing the classless society. Everything is getting along, it seems, the very best you can imagine. But what is the use then of the iron dictatorship of the bureaucracy.


Those reactionary dreamers, we must believe, will gradually die out. The “petty speculators” and “gossips” might be disposed of with a laugh by the super-democratic Soviets.


“We are not Utopians,” responded Lenin in 1917 to the bourgeois and reformist theoreticians of the bureaucratic state, and “by no means deny the possibility and inevitability of excesses on the part of individual persons, and likewise the necessity for suppressing such excesses. But … for this there is no need of a special machine, a special apparatus of repression. This will be done by the armed people themselves, with the same simplicity and ease with which any crowd of civilized people even in contemporary society separate a couple of fighters or stop an act of violence against a woman.”


Those words sound as though the author has especially foreseen the remarks of one of his successors at the head of the government. Lenin is taught in the public schools of the Soviet Union, but apparently not in the COuncil of People’s Commissars. Otherwise it would be impossible to explain Molotov’s daring to resort without reflection to the very construction against which Lenin directed his well-sharpened weapons. The flagrant contradictions between the founder and his epigones is before us! Whereas Lenin judged that even the liquidation of the exploiting classes might be accomplished without a bureaucratic apparatus, Molotov, in explaining why after the liquidation of classes the bureaucratic machine has strangled the independence of the people, finds no better pretext than a reference to the “remnants” of the liquidated classes.


To live on these “remnants” becomes, however, rather difficult since, according to the confession of authoritative representatives of the bureaucracy itself, yesterday’s class enemies are being successfully assimilated by the Soviet society. Thus Postyshev, one of the secretaries of the Central Committee of the party, said in April 1936, at a congress of the League of Communist Youth: “Many of the sabotagers … have sincerely repented and joined the ranks of the Soviet people.” In view of the successful carrying out of collectivization, “the children of kulaks are not to be held responsible for their parents.” And yet more: “The kulak himself now hardly believes in the possibility of a return to his former position of exploiter in the village.”


Not without reason did the government annul the limitations connected with social origins! But if Postyshev’s assertion, wholly agreed to by Molotov, makes any sense it is only this: Not only has the bureaucracy become a monstrous anachronism, but state compulsion in general has nothing whatever to do in the land of the Soviets. However, neither Molotov nor Postyshev agrees with that immutable inference. They prefer to hold the power even at the price of self-contradiction.


In reality, too, they cannot reject the power. Or, to translate this into objective language: The present Soviet society cannot get along without a state, nor even – within limits – without a bureaucracy. But the case of this is by no means the pitiful remnants of the past, but the mighty forces and tendencies of the present. The justification for the existence of a Soviet state as an apparatus of compulsion lies in the fact that the present transitional structure is still full of social contradictions, which in the sphere of consumption – most close nd sensitively felt by all – are extremely tense, nd forever threaten to break over into the sphere of production. The triumph of socialism cannot be called either final or irrevocable.


The basis of bureaucratic rule is the poverty of society in objects of consumption, with the resulting struggle of each against all. When there is enough goods in a store, the purchasers can come whenever they want to. When there is little goods, the purchasers are compelled to stand in line. When the lines are very long, it is necessary to appoint a policeman to keep order. Such is the starting point of the power of the Soviet bureaucracy. It “knows” who is to get something and how has to wait.


A raising of the material and cultural level ought, at first glance, to lessen the necessity of privileges, narrow the sphere of application of “bourgeois law”, and thereby undermine the standing ground of its defenders, the bureaucracy. In reality the opposite thing has happened: the growth of the productive forces has been so far accompanied by an extreme development of all forms of inequality, privilege and advantage, and therewith of bureaucratism. That too is not accidental.


In its first period, the Soviet regime was undoubtedly far more equalitarian and less bureaucratic than now. But that was an equality of general poverty. The resources of the country were so scant that there was no opportunity to separate out from the masses of the population any broad privileged strata. At the same time the “equalizing” character of wages, destroying personal interestedness, became a brake upon the development of the productive forces. Soviet economy had to lift itself from its poverty to a somewhat higher level before fat deposits of privilege became possible. The present state of production is still far from guaranteeing all necessities to everybody. But it is already adequate to give significant privileges to a minority, and convert inequality into a whip for the spurring on of the majority. That is the first reason why the growth of production has so far strengthened not the socialist, but the bourgeois features of the state.


But that is not the sole reason. Alongside the economic factor dictating capitalist methods of payment at the present stage, there operates a parallel political factor in the person of the bureaucracy itself. In its very essence it is the planter and protector of inequality. It arose in the beginning as the bourgeois organ of a workers’ state. In establishing and defending the advantages of a minority, it of course draws off the cream for its own use. Nobody who has wealth to distribute ever omits himself. Thus out of a social necessity there has developed an organ which has far outgrown its socially necessary function, and become an independent factor and therewith the source of great danger for the whole social organism.


The social meaning of the Soviet Thermidor now begins to take form before us. The poverty and cultural backwardness of the masses has again become incarnate in the malignant figure of the ruler with a great club in his hand. The deposed and abused bureaucracy, from being a servant of society, has again become its lord. On this road it has attained such a degree of social and moral alienation from the popular masses, that it cannot now permit any control over wither its activities or its income.


The bureaucracy’s seemingly mystic fear of “petty speculators, grafters, and gossips” thus finds a wholly natural explanation. Not yet able to satisfy the elementary needs of the population, the Soviet economy creates and resurrects at every step tendencies to graft and speculation. On the other side, the privileges of the new aristocracy awaken in the masses of the population a tendency to listen to anti-Soviet “gossips” – that is, to anyone who, albeit in a whisper, criticizes the greedy and capricious bosses. It is a question, therefore, not of spectres of the past, not of the remnants of what no longer exists, not, in short, of the snows of yesteryear, but of new, mighty, and continually reborn tendencies to personal accumulation. The first still very meager wave of prosperity in the country, just because of its meagerness, has not weakened, but strengthened, these centrifugal tendencies. On the other hand, there has developed simultaneously a desire of the unprivileged to slap the grasping hands of the new gentry. The social struggle again grows sharp. Such are the sources of the power of the bureaucracy. But from those same sources comes also a threat to its power.




1. Professional governmental functionaries.


2. TRANSLATOR’S NOTE – Zinoviev and Kamenev were executed in August 1936 for alleged complicity in a “terrible plot” against Stalin; Tomsky committed suicide or was shot in connection with the same case; Rykov was removed from his post in connection with the plot; Bukharin, although suspected, is still at liberty.


3. TRANSLATOR: It is impossible to convey the flavor of this dialogue in English. The second person singular is used either with intimates in token of affection, or with children, servants and animals in token of superiority.

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