J. V. Stalin SPEECH DELIVERED AT A PLENUM OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE AND THE CENTRAL CONTROL COMMISSION
OF THE R.C.P.(B.) January 17, I925
From J. V. Stalin, On the Opposition,
Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1974
Based on J. V. Stalin, Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Vol. 7, pp. 6-10.
The articles and speeches by J. V. Stalin contained in English edition of On the Opposition follow the order of the Russian edition put out by the State Publishing House of the Soviet Union in 1928. The English translation, including the notes at the end of the book, is taken from Stalin’s Works, Vols. 5-10, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953-54, with some technical changes.
References in Roman numerals to Lenin’s Works mentioned in the text are to the third Russian edition. The English references are indicated by the publisher in footnotes.
SPEECH DELIVERED AT A PLENUM
OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE
AND THE CENTRAL CONTROL COMMISSION
OF THE R.C.P.(B.)
January 17, I925
Comrades, on the instructions of the Secretariat of the Central Committee I have to give you certain necessary information on matters concerning the discussion and on the resolutions connected with the discussion. Unfortunately, we shall have to discuss Trotsky’s action in his absence because, as we have been informed today, he will be unable to attend the plenum owing to illness.
You know, comrades, that the discussion started with Trotsky’s action, the publication of his The Lessons of October.
The discussion was started by Trotsky. The discussion was forced on the Party.
The Party replied to Trotsky’s action by making two main charges. Firstly, that Trotsky is trying to revise Leninism; secondly, that Trotsky is trying to bring about a radical change in the Party leadership.
Trotsky has not said anything in his own defence about these charges made by the Party.
It is hard to say why he has not said anything in his own defence. The usual explanation is that he has fallen ill and has not been able to say anything in his own defence. But that is not the Party’s fault, of course. It is not the Party’s fault if Trotsky begins to get a high temperature after every attack he makes upon the Party.
Now the Central Committee has received a statement by Trotsky (statement to the Central Committee dated January 15) to the effect that he has refrained from making any pronouncement, that he has not said anything in his own defence, because he did not want to intensify the controversy and to aggravate the issue. Of course, one may or may not think that this explanation is convincing. I, personally, do not think that it is. Firstly, how long has Trotsky been aware that his attacks upon the Party aggravate relations? When, precisely, did he become aware of this truth? This is not the first attack that Trotsky has made upon the Party, and it is not the first time that he is surprised, or regrets, that his attack aggravated relations. Secondly, if he really wants to prevent relations within the Party from deteriorating, why did he publish his The Lessons of October, which was directed against the leading core of the Party, and was intended to worsen, to aggravate relations? That is why I think that Trotsky’s explanation is quite unconvincing.
A few words about Trotsky’s statement to the Central Committee of January 15, which I have just mentioned, and which has been distributed to the members of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission. The first thing that must be observed and taken note of is Trotsky’s statement that he is willing to ta.ke any post to which the Party
appoints him, that he is willing to submit to any kind of control as far as future actions on his part are concerned, and that he thinks it absolutely necessary in the interests of our work that he should be removed from the post of Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council as speedily as possible.
All this must, of course, be taken note of.
As regards the substance of the matter, two points should be noted: concerning “permanent revolution” and change of the Party leadership. Trotsky says that if at any time after October he happened on particular occasions to revert to the formula “permanent revolution,” it was only as something appertaining to the History of the Party Department, appertaining to the past, and not with a view to elucidating present political tasks. This question is important, for it concerns the fundamentals of Leninist ideology. In my opinion, this statement of Trotsky’s cannot be taken either as an explanation or as a justification. There is not even a hint in it that he admits his mistakes. It is an evasion of the question. What is the meaning of the statement that the theory of “permanent revolution” is something that appertains to the History of the Party Department? How is this to be understood? The History of the Party Department is not only the repository, but also the interpreter of Party documents. There are documents there that were valid at one time and later lost their validity. There are also documents there that were, and still are, of great importance for the Party’s guidance. And there are also documents there of a purely negative character, of a negative significance, to which the Party cannot become reconciled. In which category of documents does Trotsky include his theory of “permanent revolution”? In the good or in the bad category? Trotsky said nothing about that in his statement. He wriggled out of the
question. He avoided it. Consequently, the charge of revising Leninism still holds good.
Trotsky says further that on the questions settled by the Thirteenth Congress he has never, either in the Central Committee, or in the Council of Labour and Defence, and certainly not to the country at large, made any proposals which directly or indirectly raised the questions already settled. That is not true. What did Trotsky say before the Thirteenth Congress? That the cadres were no good, and that a radical change in the Party leadership was needed. What does he say now, in his The Lessons of October ? That the main core of the Party is no good and must be changed. Such is the conclusion to be drawn from The Lessons of October. The Lessons of October was published in substantiation of this conclusion. That was the purpose of The Lessons of October. Consequently, the charge of attempting to bring about a radical change in the Party leadership still holds good.
In view of this, Trotsky’s statement as a whole is not an explanation in the true sense of the term, but a collection of diplomatic evasions and a renewal of old controversies already settled by the Party.
That is not the kind of document the Party demanded from Trotsky.
Obviously, Trotsky does not understand, and I doubt whether he will ever understand, that the Party demands from its former and present leaders not diplomatic evasions, but an honest admission of mistakes. Trotsky, evidently, lacks the courage frankly to admit his mistakes. He does not understand that the Party’s sense of power and dignity has grown, that the Party feels that it is the master and demands that we should bow our heads to it when circumstances demand. That is what Trotsky does not understand.
How did our Party organisations react to Trotsky’s action? You know that a number of local Party organisations have passed resolutions on this subject. They have been published in Pravda. They can be divided into three categories. One category demands Trotsky’s expulsion from the Party. Another category demands Trotsky’s removal from the Revolutionary Military Council and his expulsion from the Political Bureau. The third category, which also includes the last draft resolution sent to the Central Committee today by the comrades from Moscow, Leningrad, the Urals and the Ukraine, demands Trotsky’s removal from the Revolutionary Military Council and his conditional retention in the Political Bureau.
Such are the three main groups of resolutions on Trotsky’s action.
The Central Committee and the Central Control Commission have to choose between these resolutions.
That is all I had to tell you about matters concerning the discussion.
J. Stalin, Trotskyism.
 From January 17 to 20, 1925, a plenum of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) took place. On January 17, a joint meeting of the plenums of the Central Committee and of the Central Control Commission of the R.C.P.(B.) was held. At this joint meeting, after hearing a state ment by J. V. Stalin on the resolutions passed by local organisations on Trotsky’s action, the plenums passed a resolution qualifying Trotsky’s action as a revision of Bolshevism, as an attempt to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism. On January 19, at the plenum of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.), J. V. Stalin delivered a speech on M. V. Frunze’s report on “Budget Assignments for the People’s Commissariat of Military and Naval Affairs of the U.S.S.R.” (see J. V. Stalin, Works, F.L.P.H., Moscow, 1954, Vol. 7, pp. 11-14). [p.183]