Saturday, February 07, 2009

A revealing piece of writing by Stalin about policies that he himself supported several years later

It's possible to find both the writings of the people opposed to Stalin and those of Stalin himself on the web. In fact, it's possible to collate the two and sometimes find the direct writings that each are responding to. So it goes with Stalin's criticism of the "Left Opposition"'s platform* [On edit: this is actually not the Left Opposition Platform but the Joint Opposition Platform, a later document that was produced by an alliance of left wing Bolsheviks lead by Trotsky with centrist Bolsheviks lead by Zinoviev.] The Left Opposition was formed by left wing Bolsheviks, lead by Trotsky, and advocated a more direct transition to socialism than what was going on at the time. Stalin was in the opposition, along with Bukharin, who Stalin would later arrest and have killed. After the Left Opposition was defeated, Stalin in turn started policies and rhetoric that echoed those of the the Left Opposition. So here you have Stalin defending the NEP, the New Economic Program and opposing hostility to the peasantry, which he would implement with an iron fist himself in '29. The Left Opposition's platform is Here. Stalin responded to it in a speech entitled "The Party and the Opposition", located Here.

Knowing that he would involuntarily collectivize the peasantry of Russia and requisition amounts of produce from them leading to outright famine it's interesting to see Stalin say this:

"Not to go far for proof of this, I could refer to Pre-
obrazhensky, the opposition’s chief economist, who
regards the peasantry as a “colony” for our industry,
as an object to be exploited to the utmost.

I could also refer to a number of the opposition’s
documents in favour of raising the prices of manufac-
tured goods, which would inevitably cause our industry
to wilt, would strengthen the kulaks, ruin the middle
peasants and force the poor peasants into bondage to
the kulaks.

****

What does a policy of discord with the middle peas-
ants mean? The policy of discord with the middle peas-
ants is a policy of discord with the majority of the
peasants, for the middle peasants constitute not less
than 60 per cent of the entire peasantry. That is precise-
ly why the policy of discord with the middle peasants
leads to the majority of the peasants being driven in-
to the arms of the kulaks. And a policy of driving
the majority of the peasants into the arms of the
kulaks means strengthening the kulaks, isolating the
poor peasants, weakening Soviet rule in the country-
side and helping the kulaks to throttle the poor peas-
ants.

But the matter does not end here. To pursue a poli-
cy of discord with the majority of the peasantry means
starting civil war in the countryside, making it difficult
for our industry to be supplied with the raw materials
produced by the peasants (cotton, sugar-beet, flax,
hides, wool, etc.), disorganising the supply of agricul-
tural produce for the working class, shattering the very
foundations of our light industry, disrupting our entire
work of construction, disrupting our whole plan of in-
dustrialising the country."

Then, a few years later, there's this(from "Bukharin's Group and the Right Deviation"):

"This group, as is seen from their statement, has its own separate platform, which it counterposes to the Party's policy. It demands, firstly -- in opposition to the existing policy of the Party -- a slower rate of development of our industry, asserting that the present rate of industrial development is "fatal." It demands, secondly -- also in opposition to the policy of the Party -- curtailment of the formation of state farms and collective farms, asserting that they do not and cannot play any serious part in the development of our agriculture. It demands, thirdly -- also in opposition to the policy of the Party -- the granting of full freedom to private trade and renunciation of the regulating function of the state in the sphere of trade, asserting that the regulating function of the state renders the development of trade impossible.

In other words, Bukharin's group is a group of Right deviators and capitulators who advocate not the elimination, but the free development of the capitalist elements in town and country.

At the same time, Bukharin's group opposes the emergency measures against the kulaks and "excessive" taxation of the kulaks, and unceremoniously levels against the Party the accusation that, in applying such measures, it is in point of fact conducting a policy of "military and feudal exploitation of the peasantry." Bukharin needed this ludicrous accusation in order to take the kulaks under his protection, and in doing so he confused and lumped together the labouring peasants and the kulaks."

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