THE Fifteenth Congress of the Communist Party, held in December, 1927, carried out the sentence of execution against the left opposition, and especially its three leaders -- Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev. The chief executioners were Bukharin, Stalin, Tomsky and Rykov. Their resolutions were passed unanimously and all received endless ovations from the Congress. At that time nothing seemed to foretell that at the very next Congress, which has just come to an end, three of the four triumphant victors were to appear as accused, that the condemnation of their views was to be carried out with the same unanimity, and that even more shameful was to be the eclipse of their political star.

Rykov, Tomsky and Bukharin long pretended that in the Politbureau they were in full agreement with Stalin. Like Stalin, they publicly condemned the "right trend" (of which they themselves were the real instigators) and unhesitatingly denounced their too ardent and careless supporters such as the pro tem People's Commissar of Finance, Frumkin, the People's Commissar of Agriculture, A. Smirnov, the former head of the State Bank, Sheinman, and the like. In secret, behind the closed doors of the Politbureau, they attempted to fight Stalin, but they were left in the minority and had to beat a retreat. The next stage was when they were forced to renounce their "errors." Then, as the Congress was informed by Kassif, they were put in a "political quarantine." They were told: "Lay down your arms, and put your hands on the table!" Then, after they had showed in all their behavior, to use the expression of Kassif, "the desperate attitude of men who, their backs to the wall, have no choice but to surrender," a new accusation was brought against them: that in the effort to escape the sad fate of Trotsky they were endeavoring to "remain in the party in order to be able to carry on from the inside their work against the party and the Central Committee." To give them a chance to prove the contrary, they were sent to defend Stalin's "general line of the party" at the conferences held in preparation for the Congress: Tomsky to the Caucasus, Rykov to the Urals. There they were submitted, on instigation from Moscow, to cross-examination that almost amounted to the third degree. Time after time they renounced their errors, but were told over and over again that this was not enough. At the Sixteenth Congress they were again dragged onto the platform, mercilessly criticized, forced to take a second oath of allegiance to Stalin and his clique, were laughed and jeered at. In their penance at Canossa they endured everything, they sacrificed their pride and humbly drank to the last drop the cup of humiliation.

The story goes that an unarmed man who meets an angry bear has no other method of salvation than to pretend that he is dead. It happens sometimes that the bear before he abandons the man who lies there motionless like a corpse, turns him over with his heavy paw as if to make sure there is no fraud. Stalin proved that sort of mountain bear. He had struck off so many heads from the band of Trotsky's followers that nobody in the right wing of the Communist Party now expressed any desire to feel his claws. So he kept on turning the "living corpses" over and over.

But if the leaders of the right displayed such reasonableness and pliability, how shall we explain the long and persistent baiting to which they were subjected at this last Congress? Why were they considered to deserve such revengeful cruelty? The same men who only yesterday drew their ideological wisdom from Bukharin's "A. B. C. of Communism," who were trained in Tomsky's school of trade-union discipline, and who were overwhelmed with enthusiasm while listening to the mysteries of socialist statecraft as disclosed in the reports of Rykov -- these same men today are only too eager to drag down from their pedestals the idols of yesterday, in their desire either to gain the good grace of the triumphant new lords or to experience the servile gratification of a valet jeering at his former master in distress.

One thing is clear: even after they forswore themselves and did penance, the leaders of the right for some reason continued to remain a serious danger. Indeed, as Zelensky complained to the Congress, "the country still looks upon Bukharin, Tomsky and Rykov as the leaders of the right opposition" and they are still the "center of attraction" for certain circles (described as "class-alien" in the Soviet parlance). Just as the members of the Orthodox Church forgave the Patriarch Tikhon, and now have forgiven his successor Sergius, for having (in order to save the Church) bowed their heads before the Communist rule ("For there is no power but of God"), so the supporters of the right tendency are willing to forgive the abdication of their masters, believing that it was not a sincere repentance, but "for the fear of the Jews." Men today are not too particular.

The sincerity of the disavowal put forward by the right leaders, then, is not believed either by the party or by the country; nor does the former conceal its suspicions, or the latter its hopes. This is why the Stalinites thought it necessary to inflict a public humiliation upon them. It was not an emotional outburst but a reasoned measure of intimidation and demoralization. It bears witness that the essence of the "right danger" is not in the leaders, but in the rank and file. In the old left opposition the leaders were actually at the head of the movement. The right opposition is quite different: the leaders drag far behind, they hesitate, they refuse to advance. They are pushed forward by the very course of events.

This is clear from the stories told by the back-benchers of the Sixteenth Congress, especially by the delegates from the provinces.

"We, who have to deal with local conditions," said, for instance, Milkh, a delegate of the Middle Volga region, "are constantly confronted in our work with the activities of those who support the right tendency. They try to squeeze through every hole, they miss no opportunity to attack the general line of the party. In the Ulyanov district, where I am working, we had to disband two district committees of the party and to expel the secretaries of these committees from the party. . . . We have dealt a heavy blow to the right. . . . And despite this the right tendency has again made its appearance in practice. . . ."

"It would be easy to quote an immense number of instances," said Sheboldaev, a delegate from the Lower Volga, seconding Milkh, "of pronouncements made at the district and even at the regional conferences which show that the right is again trying to raise its head. And although the former activities from above of Rykov, Tomsky and Bukharin exist no more, nevertheless the revival of the opposition is an undeniable fact. It is no longer a question of individual outbursts: already we have examples of the revival of whole groups united by an openly right program and taking the shape of openly counter-revolutionary organizations." Quite frequently, Sheboldaev maintained, "the members of the party join hands with the non-party elements" and there is even "no need of drafting a program:" they simply accept the "platform of Bukharin."

The new luminary of Stalinism, Kaganovich, spoke of the manifestations of the right tendency "in Moscow, and in Kharkov, and in Leningrad and elsewhere." In order to get rid of them one must not be afraid of the thought that "democracy within the party may suffer:" for a true follower of Lenin "there is and can be no democracy within the party of a sort which would help sectionalism and the disintegration of the party." No wonder therefore that, in accordance with the report of the same Congress, the last shake-up has removed from responsible party posts about one thousand men and women, and has thrown overboard altogether about 130,000 members!

Pozner, from Leningrad, also had much to say: that the manifestations of the right wing "present a very serious danger to our work;" that "not a single organization, including those of Leningrad, is free from them." Kossarev spoke of the attempts of the right opposition to gain the control over the Komsomol (Organization of Communist Youth) and to play it against the party. Kolotilov, from Ivanov-Voznesensk, that Russian Manchester, described how in the trade unions "the leadership has slipped away from party hands and has fallen into those of openly counter-revolutionary anti-Soviet elements." The right tendency is "the chief danger," exclaimed the hundred percent Stalinite, Ukhanov, summing up the debate.

Note the difference between the former left opposition, that directed by Trotsky, and the right opposition, nameless, deserted by its leaders. The former opposition came from above; its crown was its most powerful part; it was adorned by the brilliant party names of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rakovsky, Radek, who were followed by a second row of old-guard celebrities such as Preobrazhensky, Smilga, Ioffe, Muralov, Serebryakov, Pyatakov, Safonov, Smirnov, Sapronov, Evdokimov, Bakaev, Loshevich, etc. It proved to be a brilliant headquarters without an army; but this right opposition is an army deserted by its headquarters. The left opposition acted courageously, it built up an "organization within the organization" with its own discipline, pass-words, secret center, traveling agents, secret printing presses; that is, attempts were made from the center to wake up the periphery. And when it imagined that this had been achieved it did not hesitate to pass to the organization of meetings, of demonstrations in the streets and at the railroad termini on the occasion of the deportation of its members. This right opposition, as far as its leaders were concerned, did not go further than to make half-hearted protests in the seclusion of the Politbureau and the Central Committee, outwardly maintaining an appearance of complete harmony with Stalin and cowardly betraying its individual members who showed too much courage. Born and raised among the rank and file, all by itself, it "got up uncalled, it got out uninvited" (to use the expression of an old Russian ballad), pushing forward its reluctant "leaders" and not too downhearted by their desertion. The new right opposition proved much more organic than the old left one.

Whence came this difference? It must be sought in the difference of the social groups from which the two oppositions emerged.

The left opposition was the living remains of the revolutionary Sturm-und-Drang period, the romantic era of civil war and military communism. Among the rank and file it awakened a response to the extent that under the prosaic conditions of the New Economic Policy there still moved the dejected and unadorned shadows of the past, the heroes of "hurrah communism." These were either dreamers ignorant of the actual conditions of this earthly existence, or wild adventurers who had lost the habit of daily work. This opposition could make a lot of noise, it could burst, like dry straw, into a bright, hot, but short-lived flame. It belonged wholly and unreservedly to the irredeemable past of communism, it was the dying-away reflection of the honeymoon of communism -- the unforgettable "Red October."

Oh, no doubt, history once again would knock at its door if a war broke out between the Soviet Union and the capitalistic states which "encompass" it. Such a war, a life and death struggle, with everything at stake, would call for heroic measures, for the militarization of all the resources of the country, and military communism would rise from its grave in all its power, even more ruthless and logical than during the civil war. The left opposition itself felt this and, perhaps unconsciously, leaned towards military outbreaks. At the Fifteenth Congress of the Communist Party complaints were heard that the Trotskists were alarming the population with rumors about military dangers. It was not in vain that at the same Congress Rakovsky reiterated his regrets that the indignities suffered in Pekin, London and Paris did not receive "a rejoinder worthy of the revolution." And to the surprised question, "But what, war?" he answered: "Yes, comrades, and war. Because we are the state of the revolutionary proletariat, and not a sect of the followers of Tolstoy." But the panic-mongers remained panic-mongers, the military menace faded away, and there no longer was any reason to wave the cardboard sword, nor was anyone left for the job: the left opposition was, first, destroyed, and, second -- which is far more important -- died its natural death.

In complete contrast, the right opposition is a product of modern times. It is the creature of economic difficulties and disorganization. Rykov, Bukharin and Tomsky are merely the spokesmen -- and even that on a reduced scale -- of the discontent which surrounds the Communist Party.

What social groups does it come from? Stalin has given a simple answer to this question. The right menace is not at the top but at the bottom. Rykov, Bukharin and Tomsky are not outstanding or strong men. But "the strength of the right opportunism is not measured by them. The strength of the right tendency consists in the strength of the petty bourgeois elements, in the pressure brought upon the party by the capitalistic forces in general, and by the kulaks (well-to-do peasants) in particular." The right opposition, Ugarov echoes to Stalin, represents "the interests of the dislodged individualistic sector," that is, they are the "agents of the kulaks." And -- this is emphasized by another Stalinite, Zhdanov -- their strength is in the environment; for instance, "for each inch of land for the collective farms we must carry a merciless struggle against our class enemies."

In a way, cum grano salis, this is true. Rykov, Bukharin and Tomsky are not, of course, the agents of the kulaks and the capitalists, but they are the enemies of Stalin's method of exterminating the kulaks, capitalism, private ownership, economy based on the market, and so on, a method which is not constructive, but is destructive. And it is an imperative method: this is not permitted, that must be. It is easy to give orders from above, lamented the delegates at a coöperative conference organized by the Central Union of Coöperative Societies, nor is it very difficult to pass them along " the party line. " But it is an entirely different affair when they have to be put into operation, for instance, by the officers of the coöperative organizations who are responsible to 24,000,000 members and who must persuade them to raise the price of the shares and at the same time to enlist new members. Between the authorities and the army of shareholders they feel as though they were between hammer and anvil.

Here the members of the party and the practical workers are speaking a different language. And here lies the secret of the splitting of the party into the "right" and the "left center."

The left center, the Stalinites, are primarily party men; more, they are party machine men. They know their job. By repeated eliminations on the one hand, and by natural and artificial selection on the other, the party is being transformed into a well-disciplined, absolutely obedient, militarily trained force carrying out the directives of the pyatiletka, the Five Year Plan -- vivat pyatiletka, pereat mundus! -- and ready to compress it, if so ordered, into four years or, if so desired, into three, or two, or one. The word "impossible" is struck out from its dictionary and is replaced by "ordered" and "not ordered." The expression "objective impossibility" is also struck out and is replaced by the word "sabotage" which, by association, calls to memory "disposed of." Today even the discussions that take place before the meetings of the party congress are nothing but an additional method of selection. If Rykov, Tomsky and Bukharin keep silent, one must provoke some of their younger and more careless followers, one must force them to open their mouths and discover where their utterances will find a sympathetic echo, and then disband, dismiss, remove, expel and expel and expel.

This is why, in spite of the clamors from all sides about the right danger, not a single voice was raised at the Congress in its defense. It was unanimously convicted, sentenced to death, and crucified.

Far less satisfactory is the situation outside the party, even in the organizations which are closely related to it, such as the Soviet administration, the coöperative societies, and the trade unions. This is because party elements are not working alone there, but side by side with non-party elements. And, as we have seen, one of the accusations brought against the right was that of "joining hands with the non-party elements."

I have already written[i] about the fundamental feature of the Soviet Union framework: the peculiar dualism and parallelism existing between the party machine and the government machine. The mutual adaptation among them is so complete that literally almost every cog and link of the Soviet machine has its counterpart in the corresponding cog and link of the party machine. Why is this necessary? Because, although the party is the inner government and the Soviet administration is the "external government," although the party may be compared to the clockwork and the Soviet to the dial with its hands, nevertheless the figures on the dial continually display a tendency to make changes, to act independently from the inner mechanism: the hands and figures of the dial, after all, are not dead, but living figures and hands. Therefore, in addition to the general supervision by the party as a whole over the Soviet administration as a whole, it was deemed necessary to introduce the strict parallelism of the two systems and to establish direct connections in the peculiar form of party "cells" attached to each Soviet institution and controlled by the appropriate body within the party.

This fundamental dualism of the régime has an important part in the relations between the right wing and the Stalinites. The members of the former are much more popular with the Soviet administration than with the party. This popularity is particularly great among the commissariats dealing with economic problems. The Commissariat of Finance has always been a breeder of the ideas belonging to the right and succeeded in converting to them even the specially appointed men of the left. For many years the Commissariat of Agriculture has been a nursery of the most suspicious (from the Marx-Lenin point of view) pro-peasant attitude. The Commissariat for Foreign Affairs shuddered at the extravaganza of the Comintern. Rykov was considered the leader of Soviet business men and, with certain reservations, this was true; especially among the non-party specialists he was at home, "our Aleksei Nikolaevich," very different, indeed, from that unmanageable, ruthless, exacting outsider, Stalin, weaving his web behind closed doors.

The same attitude was felt even more strongly in the remote regions of Soviet public opinion, including the following three principal elements: Soviet savants and institutions of learning (Red professors and the student body), Soviet coöperative institutions and Soviet trade unions. It is not a mere accident that the former leaders of the right tendency were also the guiding spirit of these circles, and their spokesmen.

Bukharin was the spiritual father of the Red professors, of all the Stetskys, Maretskys, Eikhenvalds and other theorists of the newest brand who succeeded in gaining the confidence of their young audiences. When the thunders were directed against the left, against the supporters of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Sapronov, they were given a place of honor. Bukharin was "the pillar and ground of the truth;" all the newcomers to the party were trained on his "A. B. C. of Communism;" the followers of Bukharin among the academic profession increased in number like mushrooms, and multiplied among their pupils the number of neopopulists with a communist flavor. And when Bukharin was unfrocked from priest to deacon, and then again reduced to the position of a mere chanter, it became necessary to break down the Red professors and to pass them through the mill. This was no easy job.

It is still remembered what was the reaction among the Soviet coöperative organizations when in 1928 Rykov signalled for the first time the danger of the estrangement from the rural community. A congress of the representatives of the Central Union of Coöperative Societies was then being held at Moscow. The congress gave Rykov an unexampled ovation and displayed the utmost hostility towards the Stalinite, Mikoyan. One after another the Communist coöperators, who felt more daring under the protection of their party ticket than the non-party coöperators hiding behind their backs, demanded the autonomy of coöperative institutions, denounced the absurdity of administrative orders, described the spontaneous nature of the economic developments in defiance of bureaucratic control. After being turned into instruments for the state purchase of grain, they cried, they have obtained grain from the peasants by the promise of cheap manufactured goods; and now, having none of the articles most needed in the villages, they spend their time trembling for the window glass in the village coöperative stores and for the safety of their own skins. They clearly implied, almost threatened, that after them was to come the turn of those higher up.

As to Tomsky, he was an old favorite with the Soviet trade unions. It was his job to give the central party and Soviet institutions warning of any discontent among the rank and file of labor in order to prevent conflicts at the factories and works. Under him the trade union press became a kind of safety valve which was used to let out the steam of labor grievances. He was indefatigable in his struggle against those business men and Red directors who too obviously made the men employed by the factories and trusts pay for the inadequacy of "socialist accumulation." When the forcible industrialization, on the one hand, put an extra pressure upon labor and, on the other, resulted in the interruption of the smooth supply of the cities with the produce of the villages which had grown tired of giving it away for nothing, Tomsky became the spokesman of proletarian discontent with the "general line" of Stalin, just as Rykov was the spokesmen of the protest of business and coöperative circles, and Bukharin of the ideological protest, the protest of the theorists of communism and of the intellectual communist youth.

The first thunders fell upon Bukharin, who was thrown out from his chief positions, including the Politbureau and the editorial board of Pravda. He, the unusually prolific speaker, was turned into "the great silent recluse," according to a cruel jest made at the Congress. Tomsky and a whole crowd of his supporters were first forced to quit the central organization of the trade unions. His former comrades in arms who have since betrayed him, Dogadov and Melnichansky, had to suffer a similar fate because their allegiance to Stalin was not yet sufficiently proved. Tomsky was still left in the Central Committee, but he was not reëlected to the Politbureau. And Rykov alone, as pliable as wax, has still been allowed to retain his membership in both these central institutions, where he will play the part of a hostage for the whole triumvirate.

Could they have avoided this fate? Perhaps, but only by the use of one method. Instead of arguing with Stalin behind the closed doors of the higher party bodies, where Stalin was in any case sure of a majority, they should have understood at once that the weak spot of Stalin is the Soviet machine and Soviet public opinion; they might have attempted to defend -- on the basis of the Soviet constitution -- the powers of the Soviets against the tutelage of the party men from the Central Committee and the Politbureau, calling to their assistance the Soviet coöperative organizations and the Soviet trade unions whose autonomy within the Soviet system they sponsored. That is, they should have made an appeal to the forces outside the party, but closely connected with it. This is the only use they could have made of their program. The idea of having it accepted in the secluded atmosphere of purely party conferences was utterly nonsensical. But what was this program?

Only now, from a speech delivered before the Sixteenth Congress by Rudzutak, have we learned the exact contents of the collective declarations made to the Politbureau and the Presidium of the Central Control Committee by the leaders of the opposition.

The agricultural policy of the Central Committee has led to the degradation of farming and will result in the impoverishment and ruin of the whole country . . .

In the years just ahead the Soviet farms and the collective farms cannot be the source of the chief supply of grain. Individual peasant farming will continue to remain the chief source of such supply for a long time . . .

The tempo of industrialization which we have adopted is beyond our force. . . . It will lead to the destitution of the country . . .

Industrialization must not be based on the squandering of our funds to the last penny; it must be based on the improvement in the economic standards of the poor and "middle" peasants and on the increase in the productivity of labor . . .

Departing from these premises, Bukharin, as early as April of last year, spoke of the vicious circle in which Soviet economics were moving and expressed the apprehension that "the engine may stop." He found the courage to formulate the rather cynical and uncomplimentary remark (and so provoked a storm in the party circles) that the existing system is a régime of "military and feudal exploitation of the peasants." In his answer to enthusiastic dreamers of the type of Krizhanovsky, the spiritual father of the Five Year Plan, who find in the promises of future happiness a consolation for present privations, Bukharin pointedly remarked that "unfortunately, the socialist factories of today cannot be built from bricks which will be made in the future." Bukharin argued that the present economic policy "leads to a constant revival of the menace to the coöperation" -- coöperation between towns and villages, industry and agriculture, industrial labor and peasants. And therefore, he remarked, "our economics are unruly;" and "economics which are unruly may lead to a situation when the classes will be unruly too."

The declarations of the three leaders of the opposition did not spare even the sacred person of Stalin: "We are against the decision of problems of party leadership by an individual. We are against the substitution for collective control of control by an individual, however authoritative."

The divergency of view is thus clearly outlined. On the side of the Stalinites, the scope of the right tendency has been concisely and succinctly described by Mikoyan:

Instead of the socialist industrialization -- the slowing down of its tempo.

Instead of the pyatiletka (the Five Year Plan) -- the dvukhletka (the two year plan).

Instead of the building up of Soviet and collective farms -- trusting in individual peasant farming.

Instead of the struggle against the kulaks and their liquidation -- the demand for the removal of the "tax on individuals"[ii] and of restrictions on village capitalism, the "doctrine of concessions," and the demand for the increase in grain prices.

Instead of the offensive against the capitalistic elements -- the demand for a new NEP, in other words, for a retreat under the cover of the theory of "a peaceful absorption of the kulaks by the socialist state."

Instead of the new methods of coöperation with the peasants and peasant contracts with the state[iii] -- freedom of commercial exchange and the normalization of the market.

Instead of counting on the training of our own specialists among the young men -- the declaration that without the help of the old specialists communism cannot be built.

Instead of an energetic rejoinder to the class enemies -- the abandonment of the margin theory of class struggle.

All this deals with economic and political problems. The scope of the right in the field of ideology, according to Mikoyan, is as follows:

Instead of the struggle against the social-democratic elements in the Comintern -- the accusation that the party brought about the decay of the Comintern (as Bukharin put it, "the Comintern has now reduced its winter crops").

Instead of the recognition of the decline of capitalism -- Bukharin's thesis of the reconstruction of capitalism and the preaching of the social-democratic theory of "organized capitalism."

The acceptance by Bukharin of Trotsky's doctrine that socialism cannot be built in only one country.

Mikoyan, of course, has overemphasized some of the divergencies of views and his exposition is not free from exaggeration. But on the whole it is confirmed by the documents of the right opposition.

Yes, the right opposition seeks "peace with the peasants." Yes, the right opposition, following the old trail of the Social Revolutionary Party, wants to rely upon the small peasant farm and its free coöperative institutions instead of the forcible "complete collectivization" of the rural community; it would work from below instead of above. Yes, like the "Populists," it counts partly on the participation of the wealthier peasants in this process, and partly on the disarming of the kulaks (village usury and other methods of exploiting the poorer peasants) by improving the economic position of the poorer peasants through coöperative societies. Yes, the right opposition inclines to share in the heresy which sees in the coöperative movement an independent method for the promotion of socialism among the peasants. Yes, the right opposition is willing to meet to some extent the fundamental demand of the farmers: a more equitable adjustment of industrial and agricultural prices, a more equitable exchange between the products of labor in farming and manufactures. Yes, following the Social Revolutionary Party (although, perhaps, unconscious of this highly compromising similarity of two programs), the right opposition sees in the economic development and in the increase in the wealth of the rural community the establishment of a firm foundation under the forced bureaucratic industrialization of today which hangs in the air; it would provide the latter, first, with the necessary basis of foodstuffs and raw materials, and, second, with a large home market for the sale of its products. Yes, the right opposition sometimes dreams to discover in this policy the opportunity for the democratization of the government and the loosening of the régime of terror and dictatorship. Would not a lasting peace with the peasants make unnecessary the artificial measures for safeguarding the power of the minority by making possible for the first time a government by the consent of the majority?

All this will be found in the program of the right opposition. But, deprived of leadership, the right opposition seeks a way out in the dark, it discovers the various parts of its program by chance, it does not know how to arrange them into a comprehensive harmonious system. However, if its course were different, how could it remain inside the framework of the party when even now the Congress has declared its views "incompatible" with membership in the Russian Communist Party of the Bolsheviks?

Nevertheless, taken as a whole, the right tendency is an unconscious attempt on the part of urban communism to find a method of political coöperation with the small peasant farmers defending their interests. But by joining hands with the peasants it unavoidably becomes estranged from the party. Coöperation with the forces seeking the democratization of the régime means the parting of ways with the dictatorship.

And this parting of the ways is getting more and more pronounced, as is illustrated by a paragraph in the speech of so important a person as Petrovsky, President of the Executive Committee of Ukraine. It reads as follows: "The declarations of the members of the right opposition are extremely characteristic. A member of the party criticizes the general line of the party, urges the farmers to refrain from parting with their grain. This is no longer the right tendency, but a flagrant case of counter-revolution. . . . At Lugansk a member of the party asked the peasants not to give up their grain because the party had accepted a wrong policy. This oversteps all the limits. . . . Such a situation and such men in the party cannot be tolerated."

Eikh, a delegate from Siberia, depicted the next stage in the development of anti-party feeling, the more characteristic because it included the remains of the "labor opposition" of Omsk. There was a time when this opposition was wholly committed to a "purely proletarian" point of view, when no tempos of industrialization appeared to it to be sufficient, and when no sacrifices for this purpose -- especially sacrifices on the part of the peasants -- could frighten it in the least. Today it "pins all its hopes on the peasants" and even nurses the hopes of an armed uprising under purely peasant banners.

The third and last stage of the same process, a stage which openly belongs to the jurisdiction of the G.P.U. (the secret police), was disclosed by Kaganovich, a prominent supporter of Stalin. Two illegal revolutionary organizations have recently been disposed of in the Ukraine. One of them, it appears, had for its purpose "the bringing about of changes in the policy of the party and of the Soviets, so that through the method of an armed uprising a new Soviet government would be established, but with the program suggested by the right opposition." The second, the so-called People's Revolutionary Soviet Party, had a similar program. One of its members gave the following evidence:

"The policy of Stalin leads to ruin and destitution; the policy of the right and the measures suggested by Bukharin, Rykov and Uglanov are the only sound measures, conceived in the spirit of Lenin, and they alone -- that is, Bukharin, Rykov and Uglanov -- are capable of leading the country out of the impasse where Stalin has landed it. . . . The victory of the right wing would de facto mean the victory of People's Revolutionary Soviet Party because the program of the latter, as I have stated at the beginning of my evidence, was identical with the program of the right opposition in the Russian Communist Party."

Thus, by scarcely perceptible stages, as the right tendency within the Communist Party is weeded out it merges into organizations hostile to the party. It is not so much the difference in program as the difference in temperament that separates the loyal members of the opposition, who cling at any cost to membership in the party and save themselves through political mimicry, from the champions of "the new Soviet revolution" ready to accept prison or exile rather than renounce their credo.

The question now is: what will happen to the right opposition? Today it obviously is at the crossroads.

One road is the road of Rykov, Tomsky and Uglanov. To keep quiet, to avoid anything that may suggest an independent organization, and if action is to be taken at all against the "general line," to carry it on by less authoritative men and in disguise; if one is caught flagrante delicto, to deny everything, to produce attenuating circumstances, to beg forgiveness, to repent, and to promise never to do it again. The important thing is to keep alive: "a living dog is better than a dead lion." One must wait for better times. One must hope. Sooner or later the "general line" will bring such deadly results that, perhaps, even Stalin's closely drawn phalanx will give away and all eyes will turn to the former leaders of the right opposition who gave the party such well-justified warnings. And the stone which the builders rejected -- by a general tacit agreement, without a struggle -- the same is become the head of the corner.

The other road is the road followed by the members of the People's Revolutionary Soviet Party. This is perfectly natural because even the New Economic Policy was not granted to the country as a result of the diplomacy of the "reasonable elements" of the party, but to the accompaniment of the Kronstadt guns and the menacing murmur of the peasant rebellion in Tambov and almost the whole of Siberia. In the cities they catch the first breaths of the "pre-Kronstadt" feeling, and in the country that of Tambov. They are trying to get ready for the organization of "the third revolution." In their opinion it is not anti-Soviet and, perhaps, not even anti-communist: it is merely directed against Stalin. But the Germans rightly say: "Wer sagt A, muss auch B sagen" ("Who said A must also say B"). The revolutionary development has its iron logic.

The leaders of the right tendency have thus far been following the first road. But the rank and file is already entering on the second. Which of them has succeeded better in discovering the real trend of coming events? What has the future in store for the Soviet Union?

Will the future break the blind obstinacy of the party leaders and loosen the "dead grip" of Stalin? Will it send him for a month, or for two or three, or perhaps for a couple of years, to rest in the Caucasus or even in Turkestan -- the place in Alma-Alta, after the transfer of Trotsky to Prinkipo, is vacant? Or will this Soviet Pleve remain in power until his death? Will Rykov succeed him and play the part of a Soviet Svyatopolk-Mirsky? Will the system of freezing up all manifestations of public initiative continue, or will a new "spring" be graciously granted from the Kremlin before it is too late? Will the further development of the Soviet régime follow the road of communist Stolypins or of communist Wittes? In other words: revolution or evolution? Catastrophe or a peaceful transformation?[iv]

This is the chief problem of the day, and the question as to the future of the right opposition is merely one of its aspects.

Only quite recently it seemed that under the pressure of Rykov and his friends the Stalin line had begun to bend. This impression was belied by the facts. The right Bolshevik opposition appears to remain outside the general trend of historical development. And, therefore, the rank and file of this opposition are already abandoning their leaders and are no longer seeking reforms but revolutionary positions -- outside the party. History, indeed, has not yet said its last word. But the scale of the balance has decidedly turned in favor not of the smooth, evolutionary course, but of a course rich in cataclysms and perturbations.

[i] See "The Government and the Communist Party," FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Vol. 7, No. 2.

[ii] Persons recognized as "bourgeois elements of the village," in addition to the loss of a number of civil rights, are subject, together with the general land and agricultural taxes, to a special "tax on individuals" which has for its purpose to reduce their economic standards to the general level.

[iii] Contracts between the state and the peasants in accordance with which the latter undertake to deliver to the state, irrespective of the future harvest, a specified quantity of agricultural produce at fixed prices in exchange for the promise of the state to make provision for them in the plan for the distribution of manufactured goods.

[iv] Allusion is made here to the events of 1904-1905. V. K. von Pleve was a reactionary statesman of the reigns of Alexander III and Nicholas II. In 1902 he was appointed Minister of the Interior and his rule was notorious for its severity. He was murdered in 1904 by a member of the Social Revolutionary Party. He was succeeded by the much more liberal Prince Svyatopolk-Mirsky whose policy, after the chilly régime of Pleve, was often referred to as "the spring." He remained in office for less than five months. Count Witte, it will be remembered, was one of the framers of the reforms of 1905 which introduced in Russia a kind of quasi-constitutional régime and was for his time a man of liberal views. P.A. Stolypin, Prime Minister in 1906--1911, was a man of conservative views who reëstablished order in the country after the revolutionary outbursts of 1905--1906; his forcible methods were much criticized. (Translator's Note)

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  • VICTOR CHERNOV, Russian Social-Revolutionary leader and writer, Minister of Agriculture in the Kerensky Government
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