David North
The Heritage We Defend

M. Banda Embraces Stalinism (II)

Having worked up quite a lather over Trotsky’s alleged incapacity to understand the significance of conceptual thinking and his supposed capitulation to the spontaneity of the working class, Banda gravely intones: “This is not a small question which can be brushed aside as an episodic error in Trotsky’s otherwise brilliant theoretical repertoire. It might even be argued that the fate of the world socialist revolution depends on a philosophically irreconcilable attitude to ‘natural dialectics,’ ‘proletarian philosophy’ and ‘proletarian posing’ of problems.”

One must restrain the urge to laugh aloud upon reading these words, for Banda’s ringing appeal for philosophical irreconcilability is placed in the middle of a lengthy and bitter denunciation of Trotsky’s refusal to abandon the struggle for Marxism in the USSR and capitulate to the Stalinist bureaucracy. While accusing Trotsky of softness toward the spontaneity of the working class, Banda’s political line is now based on complete prostration before the “spontaneity” of the bureaucracy.

The crux of Banda’s indictment of Trotsky is that he refused to liquidate the Left Opposition in 1928–29. Stalin, who had until then been pursuing, in alliance with the Bukharinite right wing, a policy of accommodation to the wealthy sections of the peasantry (kulaks), suddenly swung to the left and began implementing a program of rapid industrialization based on the massive collectivization of agriculture.

Asserting that these new policies removed all legitimate reasons for the existence of the Left Opposition, Banda declares that they represented the irreversible triumph of the socialist revolution whose real leader was Joseph Stalin!

It is absolutely clear to me after a careful and detailed study of the history of the Soviet economy and state in the 1930’s that Trotsky’s attitude to the far reaching and decisive changes initiated by Stalin in industry and agriculture was ambiguous, sceptical and abstentionist. In retrospect it appears that Trotsky, who first advanced the policy of planned economy, industrialisation and collectivisation of the peasantry, was so convinced of the Right Wing trend personified by Stalin that he could never condition himself to accept a volte face [about-face] by Stalin or, worse still, the usurpation of his policy by the Centre group and a ruthless drive against Bukharin and the Right Wing.

Trying to make a case against Trotsky, Banda eulogizes Stalin, and writes rapturously about his empirical swing to the left:

There was no turning back and the intensity and scope of Stalin’s measures left no doubt in anyone’s mind about Stalin’s resolve to carry it through. But where was the prophet leader of the Left Opposition? He was stumbling and groping in an incredible maze of confusion. …

Even when the deformed dictatorship of the working class had, with unprecedented ferocity and brutality, crushed the peasantry and smashed the right wing and driven it into limbo—Trotsky refused adamantly to bow to reality.

What was this reality to which Trotsky refused to bow? In 1928, the Stalinist leadership was suddenly confronted with the catastrophic consequences of the reactionary policies it had pursued over the previous five years. The continued existence of the workers’ state was directly threatened when the kulaks began withholding grain from the cities. Under the merciless lash of immediate pressures, Stalin’s faction, based on the party and state bureaucracy, broke with the Bukharinites and lurched to the left.

Taken totally by surprise, and lacking any coherent program of their own to deal with the situation, the Stalinists grabbed hold of large portions of the Left Opposition’s program, excluding, of course, all those sections which dealt with the necessity to restore party democracy. Moreover, the brutal and administrative methods employed by the Stalinists in implementing the program contradicted the theoretical outlook which had guided the Left Opposition in its original elaboration.

Banda prefers not to speak of the period between 1923 and 1928. For the time being, at least until his next document, he raises no criticism of the policies of the Left Opposition prior to 1928. But to denounce Trotsky for having refused to capitulate to the empirical shift of the bureaucracy in 1928, disregarding the fundamental questions of international revolutionary program and strategy that were raised by the Left Opposition during the previous five years, is to break irrevocably with Marxism.

The central issue confronting Trotsky and the Left Opposition in 1928 was not whether they were for or against Stalin’s left turn. The orientation of the Left Opposition was determined, first and foremost, by international considerations, that is, by the perspective of world socialist revolution. Though expelled from the Communist Party and exiled to the far reaches of the Soviet Union, the Left Opposition gave critical support to those anti-kulak measures which had been forced upon the Stalinists by dire necessity. But Trotsky would not repudiate the Platform of the Left Opposition or accept its piecemeal adaptation to the policies of the “Center,” for to have done so would have meant capitulation to the nationalist program of “socialism in a single country,” which remained the fundamental political axis of Stalinism.

For Trotsky and the Left Opposition, only a correct international policy—one based on the strengthening of the Communist International and the extension of the socialist revolution, above all, into Western Europe—could assure the survival of the USSR and the creation of a socialist society. The necessary measures to develop Soviet industry and strengthen the internal foundations of the proletarian dictatorship in the USSR could not be a substitute for the elaboration and realization of an international revolutionary strategy.

Banda concedes that Trotsky had first issued the call for economic planning and an increased rate of industrialization. All the analyses developed by Trotsky between 1925 and 1927 faced bitter opposition from the Stalinists, who were upholding the alliance with the kulaks and rejecting proposals for more rapid industrialization as “adventurism.” Trotsky rejected as Utopian nonsense the arguments that the construction of socialism could be realized inside the USSR without the extension of the revolution. This was the very same position upon which Lenin had insisted again and again.

Banda has conveniently forgotten that the crisis confronting the USSR in 1928 was to a large extent the direct product of the disastrous policies carried out by the Stalinists inside the Communist International. He does not make any reference whatsoever to the consequences of the Stalin-Bukharin “theory” of “socialism in a single country” for the fate of the socialist revolution in Europe and Asia. Banda’s political disintegration finds its consummate expression in the fact that the international dimension of the struggle for socialism no longer exists for him. He no longer accepts—in fact, he directly rejects—that there exists any connection between the building of socialism in the USSR and the extension of the proletarian revolution.

Therefore, Banda says absolutely nothing about the defeat of the German working class in 1923 and the Stalinist-led right-centrist degeneration of the Comintern during the next four years, which produced the defeats in Britain and China. These historic setbacks were directly responsible for the deterioration of the world position of the USSR, its deepened isolation, and, therefore, for the desperate crisis of 1928.

Banda denies this self-evident fact by mystifying the historical process: “The revolution having failed to transcend national barriers, and hemmed in on all sides, swept back into the USSR with redoubled force and, on the backs of an exhausted working class and a decimated party completely disrupted the precarious equilibrium of forces established in the post-Lenin era.”

He does not say why the revolution failed “to transcend national barriers” or why it remained “hemmed in on all sides.” Instead, he transforms, in words, the consequences of the unmentioned international defeats of the proletariat, caused by the blunders and treachery of the Stalinists, into a positive historical factor, which supposedly enabled the revolution to sweep back into the USSR “with redoubled force”! Thus, according to Banda, the defeats of the international working class actually strengthened the Russian Revolution and contributed powerfully to the construction of socialism inside the USSR!

Banda spends a great deal of time rejoicing over the crisis which was produced inside the Left Opposition by Stalin’s swing to the left. He quotes liberally and uncritically from the writings of Isaac Deutscher (“The only honest and objective account. … I am obliged to rely on him”) and Max Shachtman (“one of the few writers, besides the late Deutscher … to make a detailed analysis of the hopelessly contradictory position of Trotsky…”). Both men, for different reasons, attacked Trotsky’s analysis of the significance of the change in Stalin’s line.

In the essay “The Struggle for the New Course,” Shachtman sought to prove that Trotsky’s characterization of the Soviet Union as a workers’ state, albeit degenerated, was untenable. Shachtman was already well on his way toward becoming a Cold War anticommunist and defender of US imperialism. In the second volume of his biography of Trotsky, The Prophet Unarmed, Deutscher, a lifelong opponent of the Fourth International, was propagating his well-known opinion that Stalinism was a revolutionary force, a position which he had first advanced in his 1948 biography of Stalin and which evidently played a role in influencing Pablo. Without bothering to reconcile the conflicting standpoints from which Shachtman and Deutscher argued (though, insofar as they both endow the bureaucracy with an independent historical role, there is an internal connection between the two), Banda makes use of their attack on Trotsky. Of course, he does not hesitate to add his own distinctive falsifications when necessary.

Likening Trotsky to a “blind ignoramus,” Banda claims that he refused to recognize the importance of Stalin’s left turn.

Not surprisingly Trotsky’s equivocal position created a major crisis in the Left Opposition and led to its disintegration and disorientation. …

Contrary to the traditional version peddled by Trotsky’s defenders and apologists, the Left Opposition was not destroyed by Stalin’s persecution. It was destroyed from within by its inability to formulate a correct policy and to make an objective scientific analysis of the Stalin regime. …

Trotsky’s goose was well and truly cooked.

We will soon come to what Banda attempts to palm off as “scientific analysis.” But first let us deal with the crisis in the Left Opposition. Parenthetically, let us note that Banda, who announced in his “27 Reasons” that the International Committee had been destroyed, now discovers that the Left Opposition met the same fate long before. He always judges the fate of a revolutionary organization on the basis of the judgments and actions of those who betray it. Just as he concluded that his own desertion sealed the fate of the International Committee, Banda claims that the Left Opposition was destroyed by those who capitulated to Stalin, i.e., Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek, Piatakov, Preobrazhensky, etc.

Hailing the desertion of the renegades, Banda states, “they argued, correctly, that the left turn was not episodic and, that, without abandoning the struggle for party democracy or renouncing their past insistence on the necessity for industrialisation and collectivisation they must recognize their own mistake and the need to support Stalin in a concrete practical way.”

What a horrifying falsification of history! In fact, each of the capitulators dragged themselves through the mud and renounced all that they had previously fought for. The real nature of their capitulation is unintentionally revealed in Banda’s own words. If the capitulators did not renounce their past program, if they were simply recognizing that Stalin was carrying through the line of the Left Opposition, what “mistakes” were they called upon to recognize? In fact, supporting Stalin “in a concrete practical way” meant denouncing Trotsky, renouncing the entire fight that had been waged since 1923 by the Left Opposition against the Stalin leadership, repudiating the Platform of the Left Opposition, and attacking the theory of permanent revolution. It meant the total abandonment of any struggle to restore party democracy.

Banda does not mention that all those who deserted the Left Opposition, renounced their principles and capitulated to Stalin were politically destroyed, first morally and then physically. The movement founded by Trotsky survived all of them. By the time the Left Opposition had been transformed into the Fourth International, GPU bullets had already smashed through the skulls of virtually all the capitulators.

Among those whom Banda cites as having capitulated to Stalin’s left turn is Christian Rakovsky. Once again, the deplorably low level of Banda’s grasp of facts is exposed. After Trotsky’s deportation in 1929, Rakovsky became the recognized leader of the Left Opposition in the Soviet Union. For four years he resisted the Stalinists. It was not until 1933, beneath the impact of physical exhaustion produced by wounds suffered in an unsuccessful attempt to flee the USSR, and political demoralization produced by isolation and the victory of Hitler in Germany, that Rakovsky surrendered. As Trotsky said, Stalin got Rakovsky with the aid of Hitler! But in 1928–29, Rakovsky opposed any surrender to Stalin in the most vehement terms.

In a statement written in August 1928, titled “On Capitulation and Capitulationists,” Rakovsky wrote scathingly of renegades like Radek and Preobrazhensky, who attempted to justify their betrayal of principles by claiming that Stalin was carrying out the “economic part” of the program of the Left Opposition:

In this way the question of the interpretation of the platform has created two camps: the revolutionary leninist camp, fighting for the implementation of its entire platform (just as formerly the party fought for its entire programme), and the opportunist-capitulationist camp which, having expressed its readiness to be satisfied with “industrialization” and the establishment of collective farms, has not considered the fact that without the realization of the political part of the platform, the whole of socialist construction could be sent toppling.[1]

Rakovsky then examined the outlook of the capitulators and stressed the importance of the principled stand of the Left Opposition:

The opposition, having left the party, is not free in certain of its sectors from the faults and habits that the apparatus has fostered over the years. Above all it is not free from a certain amount of philistinism. There remains particularly the bureaucratic atavism that is tenacious among those who formerly stood nearest to the leadership in the party itself or in the Soviet apparatus. It has been infected partly by party-card fetishism, as opposed to loyalty to the party; it is not free, lastly, from the pernicious psychology of the falsifiers of leninism which that same apparatus has fostered. Therefore none of the capitulationists who desert the opposition will fail to kick Trotsky with their hooves (shod with nails provided by Yaroslavsky and Radek). In other circumstances the legacy of the apparatus would easily have been eliminated. In today’s conditions of intense pressure, it breaks out on the body of the opposition in the form of a rash of capitulationism. It was inevitable that a sifting out of the people who had not thought the platform through to its conclusion should take place, of those people who dreamt of peace and comfort but naively excused themselves on the pretext of a desire to take part in “momentous struggles.” Furthermore, this sifting out may make the ranks of the opposition more healthy. In it will remain those who do not see the platform as some sort of restaurant menu from which each selects a dish according to his or her taste. The platform was, and remains, the battle flag of leninism, and only its full implementation will lead the party and this proletarian country out of the blind alley into which they have been driven by the centrist leadership.

Whoever understands that the struggle of the opposition is the “momentous struggle” upon whose results future socialist construction, the fate of Soviet power and the world revolution depend, will not leave his or her post.

One single idea is repeated as a leitmotiv in the theses of the capitulationists: the need to return to the party. A person ignorant of the history of our expulsion from the party might believe that we ourselves left it and went into exile of our own accord. To pose such a question is to transfer the responsibility for our being in exile and outside the party from the right-centrist leadership to the opposition.

We were in the party and wished to remain within it, even when the right-centrist leadership denied the very necessity of drawing up any sort of five-year plan and calmly urged the “integration of the kulak into socialism.” We wish to be in the party all the more now that a left turn is taking place within it (even if in only one part of it), and now that it is faced with accomplishing gigantic tasks. But there lies before us a question of an entirely different order: are we prepared to deviate from the leninist line in order to pander to centrist opportunism? The greatest enemy of the dictatorship of the proletariat is an unprincipled attitude towards convictions. If the party leadership—resembling the Catholic church, which exacts a return to Catholicism from dying atheists—extorts confessions of alleged errors and the renunciation of their leninist convictions from oppositionists, and in so doing loses all right to be respected, then the oppositionist who changes his or her convictions in the course of a night merits only complete contempt. This practice fosters a garrulous, shallow and sceptical attitude towards leninism; what is more, Radek has become a typical representative of such an attitude, generously strewing his philistine aphorisms to left and right on the subject of “moderation.” Shchedrin’s characters are eternal. Every epoch of socio-political decline reproduces them, changing only their historical costumes.[2] (Rakovsky’s emphasis.)

In another article, Rakovsky analyzed the significance of the party regime for the construction of socialism in the USSR, answering those who argued that the measures taken by Stalin to develop a planned economy diminished the importance of the Opposition’s demand for a return to inner-party democracy:

In 1923 the opposition foresaw that enormous damage to the dictatorship would derive from the distortion of the party regime. Events have fully justified its prognosis: the enemy has climbed in through the bureaucratic window.

Now more than ever it is necessary to say loud that the correct democratic party regime is the touchstone of a genuine left course.

There is an opinion that has spread among even steadfast revolutionaries that the “correct line” in the sphere of economics must “of itself” lead to a correct party regime. This view, which has pretensions to being dialectical, turns out to be one-sided and anti-dialectical, since it ignores the constant changes of position of cause and effect in the historical process. An incorrect line will aggravate an incorrect regime, and the incorrect regime will in its turn deform the line still further.[3]

If any mitigating excuse is to be made on behalf of those Left Oppositionists who capitulated to Stalin in 1928, it could be said that they did not know what lay ahead: the long nightmare of purges, trials, and executions which were organized by Stalin in the mid-1930s. But Banda is thoroughly informed about the monstrous crimes carried out by the bureaucracy and the tragic fate of all those who capitulated. He knows the bloody human toll, numbering in the millions, exacted by the bureaucracy as it completed its destruction of the Bolshevik Party and usurped political power from the proletariat.

And yet, condemning Trotsky’s refusal to capitulate to Stalin, Banda writes: “Rather than face up to reality honestly and with a measure of humility, Trotsky adapted more and more to the ultra-lefts who were exclusively obsessed with forms of proletarian (Soviet and party) democracy and the superstructure of the workers state and ignored or rejected the profound changes going on in its base.”

The meaning of Banda’s contemptuous attitude to the nature of the party regime is that he does not believe that Marxist consciousness is of any importance whatsoever in the building of a socialist society. He does not bother to define the political theories which, in the absence of any semblance of party democracy, guided the practices of the Stalinist bureaucracy. For all his talk about Trotsky’s “indifference” to dialectical logic, Banda worships the blind pragmatism of Stalin and the “epistemology” of his GPU murderers!

Glorifying the “unprecedented ferocity and brutality” of the “deformed dictatorship,” Banda declares that Stalin “crushed the peasantry and smashed the right wing”—as if the economic problems of the USSR, rooted in the historic legacy of backwardness, could be simply overcome through the administrative “liquidation of the kulaks as a class.” As Trotsky explained and as the whole subsequent experience of the USSR, Eastern Europe and China has confirmed, the differentiation of the peasantry is an organic process which can be halted only on the basis of the most sweeping revolution in the technique of agricultural production.

Collectivization by itself does not solve the problem. Under conditions in which the collectives must compete among each other for an inadequate supply of technologically advanced agricultural machinery, a condition which persists to this day, the collectives are themselves subordinated to the process of differentiation.

Only when the Soviet Union is able to fully partake of the resources of the world economy, a development which depends upon the revolutionary overthrow of world imperialism, will the traditional backwardness of its agricultural sector be overcome. Until then, the inevitable social differentiation, which cannot be halted by the methods of police repression, continuously recreates, if only in embryonic form, the economic basis of the regeneration of capitalist elements within the countryside, even under the cover of the collective farms.

Such complex questions are of no interest to Banda. Instead, he asserts that the policies of Stalin represent the inexorable working out of historical necessity. This is in keeping with his general class outlook. In one form or another, petty-bourgeois theoreticians attribute to the Soviet bureaucracy an independent historical role. In some cases (Shachtman, Burnham, anticommunist academicians), they see the bureaucracy as the creator of a new form of exploitative, totalitarian society. In other cases (Pablo, Deutscher), they attribute to the bureaucracy a vital and progressive role in the establishment of socialism. But whether from the “right” or the “left,” they all reject the decisive and independent role of the proletariat in the overthrow of capitalism and the building of a socialist society.

Banda takes the position of Deutscher to the most extreme conclusion. Whereas Deutscher at least formally recognized that Stalinism was the product of specific conditions bound up with the extreme economic backwardness inherited by the Bolsheviks from czarist Russia, combined with the international defeats of the proletariat, Banda places no such limits on the recognition of the historic necessity of Stalinism. He explicitly rejects Trotsky’s analysis of the specific material conditions and contradictions underlying the growth of the bureaucracy. Banda, his pen dripping malice, says:

Trotsky never even grasped the real historic significance of the rise to power of Stalin.

Trotsky saw Stalin as the bureaucratic defender of the party apparatus and the usurper of proletarian democracy, within the USSR, but what the apparatus represented in the historical development of the first workers state—Stalin’s bureaucratic repression notwithstanding—always seemed to elude Trotsky, and exasperated his enlightened followers. Trotsky saw the Stalinist bureaucracy as an accidental phenomenon which arose because of a specific conjuncture of forces internationally and nationally. It seemed incomprehensible that the Stalin faction could represent the working class. (Emphasis added.)

The real social basis of Stalin’s faction, Banda asserts, was “the developing working class emerging out of a backward peasantry.” Under these conditions, the bureaucracy, functioning as a surrogate for the immature proletariat, played a progressive historical role:

Trotsky’s inability to grasp the contradictory nature of Stalin’s regime—brutally centralizing administration and subordinating Soviet legality and democracy to the needs of primitive socialist accumulation and the—yes—progressive tasks of developing nationalized industry and collectivised agriculture, raising health and educational standards and conducting a revolution in science and technology—this failure led to a fatal scepticism about the future evolution of the USSR and a deliberate attempt to exaggerate the power of the restorationists within the USSR.

Only one conclusion can be drawn from this assessment: the destruction of Soviet democracy by the bureaucracy and the elimination of Stalin’s opponents were historically necessary measures, adopted to further the construction of socialism in the USSR. And this is, in fact, the position taken by Banda. Trotsky, he asserts, was objectively an enemy of the USSR. “The only charitable thing to be said about Trotsky’s conclusions,” Banda writes, “was that they led inescapably to counterrevolutionary implications!” His opposition to Stalin “predictably” led “to the adoption of political attitudes which were distinctly suspect if not downright reactionary.”

In other words, the Moscow Trials were not only politically justified. There are reasons to believe, based on Banda’s evaluation, that Trotsky could have been guilty of the crimes—terrorist plots against the Soviet leadership, sabotage, espionage for the imperialists, etc.—attributed to him by Stalin’s prosecutor, Vyshinsky! And all the other former members of the Left as well as Right Opposition (Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky) might well have been part of the secret “terrorist parallel center” supposedly created by Trotsky! While thus legitimizing the killings, Banda is far too delicate to speak of the mass executions of the Old Bolsheviks between 1936 and 1938. He offers instead the following description of the fate of Lenin’s collaborators and the consolidation of the bureaucracy’s totalitarian rule: “In fact the prodigious development of the USSR’s productive forces and the—albeit bureaucratic—defence of its property relations by Stalin’s group led inexorably to the withering away of the Left and Right Oppositions and an uninterrupted strengthening of the Centre.” (Emphasis added.)

Banda sums up his indictment of Trotsky as follows:

What Trotsky refused persistently to recognize in its awesome and contradictory reality was that Stalin—the proletarian Bonaparte—represented the revolution in permanence. The police-bureaucratic negation of NEP, the political atomisation of the peasantry, the industrialisation and collectivisation of the peasantry, the creation of a massive new working class and intelligentsia—all these developments were the expression of a historical law.

Here we have political bootlicking in its most disgusting form. The growth of the bureaucracy and the Bonapartist dictatorship of Stalin is rapturously depicted as the expression of historic necessity. Stalin, the pockmarked enemy of the theory of permanent revolution, is transformed, in Banda’s twisted brain, into the personification of the “revolution in permanence.” In similar manner, the man who is forever identified with the extermination of Lenin’s closest collaborators and the physical destruction of the Bolshevik Party and its cadre, is described as the “proletarian Bonaparte.” It is of no concern to Banda that the Bonapartist rule of Stalin was built up and consolidated through the liquidation of all forms of proletarian democracy. The strangling of the Bolshevik Party and the soviets was the means through which the bureaucracy usurped political power.

However, this usurpation did not signify the complete destruction of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which continued to exist in a degenerated form. Trotsky explained that Soviet Bonapartism arose on the basis of a degenerated workers’ state. But that did not make Stalin a proletarian Bonaparte, a combination of words which makes no political sense whatsoever. Stalin was the embodiment of the political will of the rapacious privileged bureaucracy. As Trotsky so brilliantly explained:

The increasingly insistent deification of Stalin is, with all its elements of caricature, a necessary element of the regime. The bureaucracy has need of an inviolable super-arbiter, a first consul if not an emperor, and it raises upon its shoulders him who best responds to its claim for lordship. …

Caesarism, or its bourgeois form, Bonapartism, enters the scene in those moments of history when the sharp struggle of two camps raises the state power, so to speak, above the nation, and guarantees it, in appearance, a complete independence of classes—in reality, only the freedom necessary for a defense of the privileged. The Stalin regime, rising above a politically atomized society, resting upon a police and officer’s corps, and allowing of no control whatever, is obviously a variation of Bonapartism—a Bonapartism of a new type not seen before in history.

Caesarism arose upon the basis of a slave society shaken by inward strife. Bonapartism is one of the political weapons of the capitalist regime in its critical period. Stalinism is a variety of the same system, but upon the basis of a workers’ state torn by the antagonism between an organized and armed soviet aristocracy and the unarmed toiling masses.[4]

Banda does not refute Trotsky’s analysis. He simply throws around words like “historical law.” But he never defines the nature of the “historical law” which supposedly sanctifies Stalin’s monstrous betrayals of the Soviet and international working class. If Banda wishes to claim that Stalin’s crimes were carried out in the interest of socialism and represent the realization of “historical law,” then he is simply legitimizing the worst slanders of the professional anticommunists against socialism.

Of course, the workings of historical law are manifested in the Stalinist regime, but not in the manner suggested by Banda. The fundamental law of Marxism is: “‘A development of the productive forces is the absolutely necessary practical premise (of Communism), because without it want is generalized, and with want the struggle for necessities begins again, and that means that all the old crap must revive.’”[5]

The Stalinist regime, in keeping with this historical law discovered by Marx, represented the recrudescence of the “old crap” present in all societies in which the necessities of life are subject to unequal distribution. The existence of inequality and the inevitable social antagonisms which accompany it requires the policeman (gendarme) and other official armed bodies of repression. They ensure the delivery to a small portion of society the lion’s share of the necessities of life, not to mention the even scarcer luxuries. In Soviet society, the regulation of inequality in the sphere of consumption, in which the bureaucratic caste enjoys a privileged existence, is the basis of the state as a special apparatus of violence and coercion. Again we quote Trotsky:

We have thus taken the first step toward understanding the fundamental contradiction between Bolshevik program and Soviet reality. If the state does not die away, but grows more and more despotic, if the plenipotentiaries of the working class become bureaucratized, and the bureaucracy rises above the new society, this is not for some secondary reasons like the psychological relics of the past, etc., but is a result of the iron necessity to give birth to and support a privileged minority so long as it is impossible to guarantee genuine equality.[6]

From this historical law, we deduce yet another, which may be cited as the epitaph of Stalinism: “It is impossible to construct socialism on the basis of an isolated national economy.”


Christian Rakovsky, Selected Writings on Opposition in the USSR 1923–30 (London: Allison & Busby, 1980), p. 152.


Ibid., pp. 152–154.


Ibid., p. 163.


Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed: What Is the Soviet Union and Where Is It Going? (London: New Park Publications, 1973), pp. 277–78.


Quoted in Ibid., p. 56.


Ibid., p. 55.