THESES

OF THE AGITPROP DEPARTMENT OF THE

ECCI ON THE FIFTEENTH CONGRESS OF THE CPSU

AND THE OPPOSITION

 

EXTRACTS

January 1928 Inprekorr, viii, 9, p. 165,

27 January 1928


 

AN HISTORICAL TURNING-POINT

 

1. It would of course be quite incorrect to say that the importance of the fifteenth congress of the CPSU was limited to its decisions about the opposition. In every respect, the moment at which the congress was held was a most important turningpoint in historical development.

The Soviet Republics have been in existence ten years. They have already entered the period of the real socialist reorganization of the economy and the culture inherited from the past. . . .

The first years of the 'stabilization process' in the capitalist world are also at an end, years which brought great dangers for the Soviet State and at the same time greater intensity in capitalist contradictions and the first signs of a new rise of the

revolutionary wave in the West....

 

THE LATEST OPPOSITION GROUP—A 'SOVIETIZED' INSTRUMENT OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL-DEMOCRACY

 

3. The characteristics of the most recent opposition are: the union of all former groups, which was not the case with earlier oppositions; such an accumulation of differences with the party that former theoretical differences became programmatic

differences; the use of such methods of struggle against the party that the opposition transgressed the limits not merely of the party but of Soviet legality. The party was confronted with a solid united front of all elements discontented with its policy. . . .

On the eve of the congress the party was confronted with an opposition political platform which left no single question on which there were not profound differences between the opposition and the party. A platform had been elaborated, a programme for a new party, a platform of such a kind that it became objectively a manifesto for uniting all the counterrevolutionary strata of the population, a 'shattering document' for all those in the world who are fighting the Soviet Union. However freely the opposition uses 'left' phrases, it cannot be denied that the 'opposition platform' has become a counter-revolutionary programme of calumny against the proletarian dictatorship.

Finally, what confronted the party was not merely the programmatic but also the organizational crystallization of a new party. The opposition was creating its own illegal apparatus, its own illegal press, and had its own party discipline. It was proceeding to organize non-party elements and public actions and demonstrations against the party and the Soviet Government . . .

thus turning itself into a 'Sovietized' instrument of international social-democracy. . . .

 

 

THE SHATTERING DEFEAT OF THE OPPOSITION—A RESULT OF THE IDEOLOGICAL CONSOLIDATION OF THE CPSU

 

4. At the congress the opposition suffered a more complete defeat than any previous opposition in our party. What are the reasons for this? Firstly, the ideological growth of the CPSU. ...

 

It is no accident that, at the climax of its battle against the party, neo-menshevism, appearing in an openly anti-party and anti- Soviet form, had only roughly 4,000 people behind it in the entire party of a million members and did not receive a single mandate at the congress. . . .

 

The congress decisions leave only two paths open to the opposition: either complete submission to the party and ideological disarmament, or becoming an openly counter-revolutionary anti-Soviet party. Which will the opposition choose?

The complete dead end which the opposition has reached has already led to its ordinary members leaving it in great numbers. A group of its leaders, with Zinoviev and Kamenev at their head, have also left it. We do not doubt that the serious,

revolutionary part of the opposition will return to the party.

On the other hand it must be clearly recognized that the Trotskyist opposition . . .

will continue the fight against the party. . . .

The chief task of the party is to make this small handful of renegades from the party and the revolution, who represent a

neo-menshevik party in process of formation, quite harmless. It may be taken for granted that the party and the proletarian dictatorship will execute this mission.

 

ALL COMINTERN SECTIONS MUST DRAW THE RELEVANT LESSONS

FROM THESE EVENTS

 

5. The history of the struggle with the opposition and its concluding episode are of the greatest political importance for the CPSU and the Comintern. All Comintern sections must draw the appropriate conclusions. The opposition 'episode' is by no

means a 'national' or 'Russian' one. The origin, the development, and the collapse of the opposition in the CPSU .. .

 

must be studied by the revolutionary proletariat of all countries, for the experience is instructive. ...

It shows the difficulties with which the working class in all countries will have to grapple after the seizure of power. . . .

 

The 'Russian' experiences with the opposition are tremendously important for all communist parties from another point of view too. The history of the Russian opposition is closely connected with the oppositions in the communist parties of various capitalist countries, and with the cases of individuals who turned away from communism when the first tremendous post-war wave of revolution had subsided.

The fact that there has been a certain standstill, of course only relative, in the revolution, had essentially the same effect on the elements inclined to petty-bourgeois vacillation in both the

CPSU and other communist parties. As a pendant, so to speak, of the opposition in the CPSU, the 'communist' opposition in West Europe crystallized....

This opposition, pitifully small in numbers and liquidationist in essence, has recently enjoyed a certain revival because of the extension of stabilization, the temporary defeat of the Chinese revolution, the greater imperialist pressure on the Soviet

Union. But the strongest impulse to this 'revival' of the West European opposition came from the sharpening of the Russian opposition's struggle against the party.

Hopes already extinguished flared up again.

The crushing defeat of the opposition at the congress, the capitulation of anumber of its members, and the final transformation of the rest into a menshevik counter-revolutionary group, the undeniable beginning of a swing to the left, a revolutionizing of the West European working class, with its corollary of a more intense struggle between social-democracy and communism, all this is bound to deal the opposition a decisive blow. The communist parties must exert their utmost efforts to accelerate this natural process of decay to which the pitiful handful of renegades in all countries are condemned. . . .

 

THE MERGING OF THE INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION WITH THE LEFT WING OF FASCISM AND OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL-DEMOCRACY

 

6. The 'communist' opposition in West European countries has recently displayed roughly the same features as the Russian opposition. Both have entered the 'decisive stage' of their struggle. All the decaying elements are coming together, in a strange international amalgam, openly bearing the Trotskyist standard. . . .

What unites these variegated elements in the Trotsky fraction? A typically menshevik platform, in which the men-shevik-liquidationist appraisal of the driving forces of the world

revolution is allied with the despicable menshevik counter-revolutionary 'criticism of the Soviet Union, the proletarian dictatorship, and the Comintern. . . .

The co-ordinated action of Vorwärts and Maslow's Volkswille in the campaign about the so-called 'banishment of the Russian oppositionists to Siberia' is in itself enough to show even the politically inexperienced worker that international capital

has two faces but only one class content. . . .

This unity of thought, of method, and of interests will become more and more pronounced. The communist parties must

expose this merging of neo-menshevism with the left wing of fascism and of international social-democracy.

 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FIFTEENTH CONGRESS FOR THE CPSU AND THE COMINTERN

 

7. The international 'communist opposition' and the entire European socialdemocracy are trying to exploit the fifteenth congress decisions on the opposition as an argument against the proletarian dictatorship, the CPSU, and the Comintern. To

answer this the communist parties must not only demonstrate the correctness of these decisions, but conduct agitation and propaganda on a broad scale to explain the great ideological and educational importance of the lessons to be drawn by all

communist parties from the fifteenth congress decisions. The substance of these lessons is:

 

(a) The proletarian dictatorship is incompatible with the existence of two or more parties, or with the existence of fractions in the party of the working class. . . .

 

(b) The greatest danger for every communist party, even for those which are in power, lies in fractional disorders. . . .

Only those who have a Trotskyist concept of the party can come to terms with or encourage a fractional struggle in the individual Comintern sections. The Comintern and its sections therefore have the duty of eradicating from their ranks, with the utmost energy, all elements of fractional struggle as an unhealthy Trotskyist legacy. . . .

 

(c) The firmness and boldness with which the CPSU, in the name of party unity, that most important pledge of victory for the revolutions, criticized its former leaders (Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev) and engaged in general self-criticism, with which it examined its own policy (into the discussion of which the entire party was drawn), and the unity which the party membership displayed, show all West European communist parties the real advantages which bolshevik inner-party democracy has over that false 'freedom of thought, speech, and fraction', that

freedom for the individual within the party, which allegedly exists in socialdemocratic parties, and from the survivals of which a few communist parties have still not liberated themselves.

 

Comintern

III. International