Menu:

 

 

Annulment of the Verdicts on Bukharin, Rykov and Rakovsky

By Gerry Healy

The political revolution as a contradictory process is undoubtedly speeding up within the Soviet Union. On February 5th, the commission of the PoIitbureau of the CPSU Central Committee heard information from the chairman of the USSR Supreme Court on the result of an appeal filed by the USSR Procurator General. This was the Commission to investigate the crimes of Stalin announced by Gorbachev in his November 2nd speech 1987. It concerned N.I. Bukharin, P.P. Bulanov, M.A. Chernov, V.A. Maksimov-Dikorsky, P.P. Kryuchkov, I.N. Kayakov, L.C. Levin, A.J. Rykov, Kh.G. Rakovsky, A.P. Rosengoltz.

A plenum on February 4, 1988 reported to the Commission that it had repealed the Military Collegium's verdict of the infamous Moscow Trials held on March 2nd to March 13, 1938. Those who had presided over those trials were President, army military jurist V.V. Ulrich, President of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR; Vice-president of the court, Army Corps Military Jurist Matulevich, Divisional Military Jurist Yevlev, Secretary, Military Jurist of the first rank, A.A. Batner, State Prosecutor A.Y. Vyshinsky.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had completely rehabilitated S.A. Bessonov, V.I. Ivanov, N.N. Krestinsky, G.F. Grinko, A. Ikranov, F. Khodzhayev, O.O. Pictnev, V.F. Sharongvich, P.T. Zubarev, L.A. Zelenskiy. The press release issued by the Commission stated that 'these persons were convicted by the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court in March 1938 on charges that on assignment from the intelligence services of foreign states hostile to the USSR, they organised a conspiratorial group with the aim of overthrowing the socialist social and state system existing in the USSR, and that they engaged in acts of sabotage and wrecking, terrorist and other hostile activities.'

The statement continues that: 'It has been established that the preliminary investigations in this case were conducted with crude violations of socialist legality and with falsified facts, and admissions of guilt were obtained from the accused through unlawful methods.' These 'unlawful methods' combined long periods of imprison before trial, physical torture, and prolonged interrogations. Under these inhuman they 'confessed' in a trial characterised by Stalin and all the Stalinists in Britain and throughout the world as the 'Anti-Soviet Block of Rights and Trotskyites'.

There are many old Stalinists, living today within the two wings of British Stalinism, the 'Euros' and the so-called 'Hard-liners' who unanimously and enthusiastically accepted the verdict of these frame-up trials. Only the Trotskyist movement, of which we were proud to be members in those days, and presently in the Marxist Party, tirelessly campaigned against those monstrous perversions of justice. In Britain, the pro-Moscow Trials campaign was led by the Communist Party under Pollitt's leadership, actively supported by such fellow-travellers as D.N. Pritt, Q.C and Dudley Collard, Q.C. Everywhere the Trotskyists were met with a unanimous acceptance of the confessions by Stalinists and their fellow-travellers. Both Pritt and Collard had attended the trials in Moscow between March 2 and March 13, 1938, and returned to lead the campaign for Stalin.

Long after Khruschev's speech in the spring of 1956, in which he revealed most of Stalin's crimes, the author of this article wrote to Gollan who was then the secretary of the British Communist Party. This was on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. The second but last paragraph of the letter to Gollan sent on November 14, 1967 reads:

'You will not be allowed to get away with this contemptible support for murderers. Those of us who have fought for Marxism in Britain against Stalinism will hold you responsible for what happened in the Moscow Trials in the '30s. You supported these crimes then because you were Stalin's man, and you support them now because you are still Stalin's man. The only difference is that perhaps you are a little shame-faced about it all, so you keep quiet.' This letter in full can be read in the Moscow Trials Anthology published by New Park Publications Ltd, November 1967.

The first of the Moscow Trials, featuring the main accused Zinoviev and Kamenev, was held in August 1936. The second trial was held in January 1937 with N.M. Muralov as one of the main accused, and the Bukharin, Rykov and Rakovsky third trial was held in 1938. The murder of Tukachevsky and leading members of the Red Army General Staff took place between 1937 and 1938. This crime was organised behind the scenes by Hitler's intelligence feeding lies to Stalin that the generals were agents of the Gestapo. Their murder had the most serious repercussions for the Red Army following the Nazi invasion of the USSR in June 1941. N.M. Muralov was co-leader of the Left Opposition together with Trotsky and Rakovsky.

History now records that the political indecisiveness of Khruschev was climaxed by his brutal Stalinist suppression of the Hungarian political revolution in 1956. It was followed by the 20-year bureaucratic stagnation of the Brezhnev era.

Together they created a major barrier to the process of the political revolution presently under way within the Soviet Union. The rehabilitation of Bukharin, Rykov and Rakovsky must not be confined to the role of a rubber stamp called 'rehabilitation'. They must be historically re-habilitated in the sense that all their writings must be published within the USSR. This applies to all of the writings of Trotsky, the central political target of the Moscow Trials, in company with the writings of Zinoviev and Kamenev.

WHO WAS VYSHINSKY?

The answer to this question emerges out of the process of the political revolution itself in the Literary Gazette published in the USSR in its issue of January 27, 1988, the author, Arkady Baksberg, in an article entitled The Tsarina of Proofs refers to Vyshinsky' s historical background as follows:

'In the 1951 edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia we learn that Vyshinsky was an active participant in the revolutionary movement of 1902, and that information will not be incorrect, but there will be a lack of clarity – for anyone who does not read the biographical information located in the preceding edition of the very same encyclopaedia 22 years earlier. There is a statement about him which is to the point: he was a Menshevik deciding to come across to the Bolsheviks only when he was satisfied that they were firmly in power.

'But then, two years later, after the February Revolution [1917 – our insertion] on the crest of the revolutionary wave, he came to surface in the quality of a modest, but for all that noticeable functionary of the new administration, which replaced the Tsar's bureaucracy, and became executor of the directives of the Provisional Government. One of these he fulfilled with particular zeal – in a sinister way this action determined the whole of his life [our emphasis]; as the Chairman of the 1st Yakimansky District Authority in the territory entrusted to him of a supremely important directive of the government. And the directive was this: to find, arrest and bring to trial the German spy, Vladimir Ilich Ulanov (Lenin).'

This was the political type of reptile Stalin entrusted with the role of Prosecutor in Chief at the three Moscow Trials. As the author remarks, Vyshinsky was a 'monster and ruffian'. There is presently a member of the Academy of Sciences in the USSR who was a leading member of Stalin's CC during the trials – B.N. Ponomarev. During the trials he worked in the same department as Suslov. He spelt out the implications of Stalin's line in the trials, insisting that the chief criteria for people's political rehabilitation was 'their attitude towards the struggle against Trotskyism'. It is especially important to note that behind the scenes he is still a powerful figure in the Academy of Sciences, which despite Gorbachev, constitutes the most conservative body resisting the clearing up of the 'blank spots' of the history of the CPSU.

In particular, the entire Tory Press was gleeful over the Moscow Trials. The Observer which forty years later led the witch-hunt against the Trotskyist College of Marxist Education, quoted in a special box: 'It is futile to think the trial was staged and the charges trumped up'. They were commenting on the 1936 trial.

RESISTANCE AT THE TRIALS

During the course of their frame-up trial, Bukharin, Rykov and Rakovsky implicitly made it very clear that they were opposed to Vyshinsky's interrogation of them in the dock.

On pages 376 and 377 of the Report of the Court Proceedings, in the case of the Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites we read:

VYSHINSKY: I have a question to put to Bukharin. Was your attitude to terrorism positive or negative, to terrorism against statesmen?

BUKHARIN: I understand. The question of terrorism arose for the first time for me in a conversation with Pyatakov, and I must say that I knew that Trotsky was insisting on terrorist activities. At that time I objected. [Our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: When was that?

BUKHARIN: In the end Pyatakov and I found a common language under the formula that it would all work out in the end and that all differences would be ironed out in one way or another. And then I have reported to you, Citizen State Prosecutor ...

VYSHINSKY: You reported to the Court in my presence ...

BUKHARIN: I reported to the Court in your presence that actually the question of terrorism, strictly speaking, was already contained in the Ryutin platform.

VYSHINSKY: I understand. I want to know whether your attitude towards terrorism was a positive one?

BUKHARIN: What do you mean by that?

VYSHINSKY: That you were in favour of the assassination of leaders of our Party and the government.

BUKHARIN: You ask whether I, as a member of the Centre of Rights and Trotskyites, was in favour of ...

VYSHINSKY: Terrorist acts.

BUKHARIN: I was.

VYSHINSKY: Against whom?

BUKHARIN: Against the leaders of the Party and the government.

VYSHINSKY: You will tell us the details later. You came to favour this in 1929-30?

BUKHARIN: No I think it was roughly in 1932. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: But were you not in favour of the assassination of leaders of our Party and the government in 1918?

BUKHARIN: No, I was not. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: Were you in favour of the arrest of Lenin?

BUKHARIN: His arrest? There were two such cases – about the first of which I told Lenin himself: as to the second, I kept silent about for reasons of secrecy – regarding which if you like, I can speak in greater detail. It did take place.

On page 378, we read:

VYSHINSKY: And I ask you, did you have a plan for the arrest of Comrade Stalin in 1918? [our emphasis]

BUKHARIN: Not of Stalin, but there was a plan for the arrest of Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: All three: Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov?

BUKHARIN: Quite so.

VYSHINSKY: And so, not Comrade Stalin, but Comrade Stalin, Lenin and Sverdlov.

BUKHARIN: Exactly.

IVYSHINSKY: There was a plan of arrest?

BUKHARIN: I say there was not a plan but talks on the subject.

On page 394, Bukharin clashed with Vyshinsky over philosophy.

VYSHINSKY: You have already reached the year of 1933.

BUKHARIN: The reason I wanted to refer to this question is that it is connected with the practical preparations ...

VYSHINSKY: So speak of the practical preparations, instead of telling us why this or that did not take place. The court is interested in knowing what took place and why.

BUKHARIN: Yes, but every negation contains an affirmation, Citizen Procurator, Spinoza once said that in the sphere of determination ...

VYSHINSKY: Speak concretely: how were you preparing the seizure of power, with whose aid, by what means, and with what aims and objects in view?

BUKHARIN: Since we did not undertake a "palace coup" for reasons which you are not interested in listening to here, we proceeded to orientate ourselves on Kulak revolts …

On pages 400-401, the clash continues:

VYSHINSKY: Accused BUKHARIN, is it a fact or not that a group of your confederates in the north Caucasus was connected with White guard cossack émigré circles abroad? Is that a fact or not? Rykov says it is, Slepkov says it is.

BUKHARIN: If Rykov says it is I have no grounds for not believing him.

VYSHINSKY: Can you answer me without philosophy?

BUKHARIN: This is no philosophy.

VYSHINSKY: Without philosophical twists and turns.

BUKHARIN: I have testified that I have explanations on this question.

VYSHINSKY: Answer me "no".

BUKHARIN: I cannot say "no", and I cannot deny that it did not take place.

VYSHINSKY: So the answer is neither "yes" nor "no"?

BUKHARIN: Nothing of the kind, because facts exist regardless of whether they are in anybody's mind. This is a problem of the reality of the outer world. I am no solipsist. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: So, regardless of whether this fact entered your mind or not, you as a plotter and leader were aware of it?

BUKHARIN: I was not aware of it. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: You were not?

BUKHARIN: But I can say the following in reply to your question; since this thing was included in the general plan, I consider it likely, and Rykov speaks of it in a positive fashion, I have no grounds for denying it.

VYSHINSKY: Consequently it is a fact?

BUKHARIN: From the point of view of mathematical probability it can be said with very great probability, that it is a fact. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: So that you are unable to give a plain answer?

BUKHARIN: Not "unable", but there are some questions that cannot be answered outright, "yes" or "no", as you are perfectly aware from elementary logic. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: Allow me to ask Rykov again, was Bukharin aware of this fact?

RYKOV: I did not speak to him about it.

VYSHINSKY: Now did Bukharin know about it or not?

RYKOV: I personally think with mathematical probability that he should have known of it. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: That's clear. Accused Bukharin, were you aware that Karakhan was a participant in the conspiratorial group of Rights and Trotskyites?

BUKHARIN: I was.

VYSHINSKY: Were you aware, accused Rykov, that Karakhan was a German spy?

BUKHARIN: No I was not aware of that. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: (to Rykov): VVere you aware, accused Rykov, that Karakhan was a German spy?

RYKOV: No, I was not. [our emphasis]

On pages 412, 413 and 414 Bukharin and Rykov clash sharply with Vyshinsky.

VYSHINSKY: Do you confirm this testimony of yours?

RYKOV: I do.

VYSHINSKY: Whom did you have in view?

RYKOV: I had in view the centre of the Rights.

VYSHINSKY: Whom personally?

RYKOV: I have already said quite a lot about this. [our emphasis)

VYSHINSKY: I want you not to be ashamed and to say it here.

RYKOV: I had Bukharin in mind. The centre consisted of three persons: myself, Bukharin and Tomsky. Consequently this refers to Bukharin as well.

VYSHINSKY: Consequently, this refers to Bukharin as well?

RYKOV: Of course.

VYSHINSKY : Accused Bukharin, do you confirm this?

BUKHARIN: In general the centre possessed such a line. [our emphasis)

VYSHINSKY: The next paragraph of Rykov's reply, page 120, reads as follows:

"Chervyakov developed exceptionally intensive work in Byelorussia in his relations with the Poles. He was connected with them in his illegal activities. He drew all the practical conclusions from these instructions of ours." Do you confirm this, Rykov?

RYKOV: Of course.

VYSHINSKY: Consequently Chervyakov and the people connected with you maintained systematic connections with the Poles?

RYKOV: Yes.

VYSHINSKY: They were executing your instructions?

RYKOV: Yes.

VYSHINSKY: Isn't this an espionage connection?

RYKOV: No. [our emphasis)

VYSHINSKY: What kind of connection is it?

RYKOV: There was an espionage connection there too.

VYSHINSKY: But was there an espionage connection maintained by a part of your organisation with the Poles on your instructions?

RYKOV: Of course …

VYSHINSKY: Were you and Bukharin connected?

RYKOV: Absolutely.

VYSHINSKY: So you were spies?

RYKOV: (No reply)

VYSHINSKY: And the organisers of espionage?

RYKOV: I am in no way better than a spy. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: You organise espionage, so you were spies.

RYKOV: It may be said, yes.

VYSHINSKY: It may be said spies. I am asking, did you organise connections with the Polish intelligence services and the respective spy circles? Do you plead guilty to espionage?

RYKOV: If it is a question of organisation, then in this case, of course I plead guilty.

VYSHINSKY: Accused Bukharin, do you plead guilty to espionage?

BUKHARIN: I do not. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: After what Rykov says, after what Sharangovich says?

BUKHARIN: I do not plead guilty. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: When the organisation of the Right was set up in Byelorussia, you were at the head of it, do you admit that?

BUKHARIN: I have told you. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: I am asking you, do you admit it or not?

BUKHARIN: I took no interest in Byelorussian affairs. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: Did you take an interest in espionage affairs?

BUKHARIN: No. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: And who did take an interest?

BUKHARIN: I received no information with regard to activities of this kind. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: Accused Rykov, was Bukharin receiving any information with regard to activities of this kind?

RYKOV: I never spoke to him about it. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: What do you mean, you never spoke? And what about your conversation with Bukharin concerning the espionage connection of the Byelorussian organisation with the Party?

RYKOV: In this conversation there was no special emphasis put on its being an espionage connection. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: I am speaking of the nature of its connections, its essential connection.

RYKOV: It was inevitable, under these conditions, any kind of connection with the Poles automatically and inevitably – and everybody understands that – very rapidly develops into espionage connections.

The materiality of these attempts to ridicule the frame-up system of the Moscow Trials by Bukharin and Rykov and as we shall see, Rakovsky, must not be underestimated. It was the thin connecting thread to the defeat of the Nazi invasion in World War II. On a number of occasions, this 'thread' appeared, and was transformed into a powerful thrust for victory, especially in Volgograd and Leningrad. We have emphasised the passages in the testimony of Bukharin and Rykov in which we consider the 'thread' is clearly visible. And this happened despite the physical torture explicit in the compilation of the confessions themselves.

RAKOVSKY

In the third Moscow Trial, Rakovsky received a 20-year sentence in a concentration camp at the age of 65. Three years later he was shot on the instructions of Stalin as soon as the Nazis invaded Byelorussia. Together with Trotsky he was a co-founder of the Left Opposition in 1923. After Trotsky's expulsion from the Soviet Union Rakovsky became the most prominent leader of the Left Opposition within the USSR. Whether the dregs of the old Stalinist bureaucracy that still occupy powerful positions within the USSR (shouting louder than the rest, 'three cheers for perestroika') like it or not, the rehabilitation of Christian Rakovsky is the form of the historical 'in itself', which has as its content the rehabilitation of Trotsky and the Left Opposition. The same applies to the rehabilitation of N.M. Muralov, another founder of the Left Opposition.

Rakovsky was born on August 1, 1873 into a prosperous family in Katel, central Bulgaria. After his father died, he inherited substantial means, from which he provided on occasions generous assistance to socialists in need all over Europe. His mother at a very early stage provided him with a revolutionary orientation, whilst his uncle, as the leading poet in Bulgaria, actively campaigned for the Union of the Baltic States. In addition to being able to speak Russian and all the Baltic States languages, he could speak English, Greek and French fluently.

When World War I broke out in 1914, he was in Paris having discussions with Trotsky. A year later, both of them journeyed to Switzerland to participate with Lenin and Zinoviev in the Zimmerwald anti-imperialist war conference. This was an occasion when it only required four coaches to transport the 40 or so minority representatives from the capital to the Swiss village of Zimmerwald. Those who attended were divided into three groups. The largest was headed by Martov, and was supported by 19 members on pacifist positions who were opposed to breaking decisively from the mass social democratic parties which were in full support of the national ruling classes of their respective countries. Lenin and the Bolshevik delegation of eight were for the transformation of the imperialist war into civil war, emphasising that 'the main enemy was at home'. Trotsky and Rakovsky took up a 'centrist' position but agreed with the Bolshevik representatives that the Second International could not be reformed. Together with Lenin, they were for replacing it with the Third Communist International.

Zimmerwald ended with a principled compromise which took the form of a united front between Lenin and Zinoviev with Trotsky and Rakovsky. In the article The First Step [p.384 Vol. 21 Lenin's Collected Works] Lenin wrote: 'In practice, the manifesto, as any analysis will show, contains inconsistencies, and does not say everything that should be said … We retain full freedom, and full opportunity to criticise inconsistencies and to work for greater things.' (p.387 – ibid)

Rakovsky joined the Bolshevik Party in 1918. He was nominated by Lenin to be head of the Ukrainian Provisional Government in January 1919. He became Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian Defence Council and was a member of the Politbureau of the Ukrainian Communist Party. When Stalin became General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1922, he lost no time in placing Rakovsky on his 'hit list'. He was dismissed from these positions in the Ukraine by Stalin in 1923.

His early years in the Balkans before he joined the Bolshevik Party provided him with a long experience in dealing with problems of national oppression. Now that the nationalities problem, due to Perestroika, has become a major issue under Gorbachev, a close study of Rakovsky's writings on this problem is vital for the development of Marxism in the USSR. In his article, A new era of Soviet Development published in Kharkov in 1923, he writes:

'Indeed, the October Revolution only began to solve the national question. It did not solve it. The October revolution created conditions in which the national particularities developed in the course of human society would survive … Obviously the task of the Communist Party after the October Revolution consisted in not ignoring the issue, but searching for the best relations between nations where Soviet power had been victorious.'

Rakovsky resolutely opposed the narrow-minded nationalism which led to a turning inwards. In his work in the Ukraine he sought to resolve the national question by supporting the right to self-determination for the Ukraine as an integral part of the USSR. At the same time he strove to orientate the Ukrainian Communist movement toward the development of the Socialist Revolution in Western Europe. He saw the ultimate solution of the national question inseparable from the development of World Revolution. He was absolutely opposed to the Russification, as he called it, of the national problems when they arose within the Soviet Union as they are doing today. A world revolutionary orientation is vital if these problems are to be resolved.

After Trotsky's expulsion from the USSR, Rakovsky wrote a series of articles for the Bulletin of the Left Opposition. These included The Professional Dangers of Power, Declaration of August 1929, On Capitulation and Capitulationists, The Politics of Leadership and the Party Regime, and The Declaration of April 1930. He constantly campaigned that Trotsky should be brought back from exile.

In the early 1930s, Rakovsky and with him the Left Opposition were silenced.

Stalin's response to the August 1929 declaration of the Left Opposition was to intensify the oppression. Trotsky wrote from exile: 'The declaration of Comrade Rakovsky, supported by the basic cadres of the opposition was an application of the policy of the United Front towards the party. The centrist leadership replied to it by intensifying repressions.' (p146 Writings of Leon Trotsky – Pathfinder Press 1930) In December 1929, a member of the Left Opposition was betrayed to the GPU and shot. The Left Opposition was being physically wiped out. Rakovsky was exiled to Siberia where his health deteriorated. Neither the humiliations of Stalin nor his health could break this staunch Bolshevik-Leninist. In March 1933, it was revealed that because of an attempted escape, he was deported to the distant province of Yakutsk in Central Asia.

Again, silence surrounded Rakovsky until Izvestia of February 23, 1934 published a telegram from him addressed to the Central Committee. It said: 'Confronted with the rise of international reaction, directed in the last analysis against the revolution of October, my old disagreements with the party have lost their significance. I consider it the duty of a Bolshevik communist to submit completely and without hesitation to the general line of the party'. There is little doubt that the coming to power of Hitler in Germany in the spring of 1933 made a powerful impact on Rakovsky. However, Rakovsky did not repudiate and recant before Stalin for being a co-leader with Trotsky of the Left Opposition. Trotsky in turn concluded his statement on Rakovsky's declaration in the following paragraph:

'We have not time to weep over lost friends – be it even comrades of 30 years of struggle. Let every Bolshevik say to himself: “A sixty-year old fighter with experience and prestige left our ranks. In his place I must win three twenty-year old ones, new Rakovskys will be found who with us or after us will carry forward the work.”' [The meaning of Rakovsky's Surrenders (March 31, 1934) – Writings, Pathfinder Press 1933-34 p.273] He was allowed to return to Moscow to work until Stalin was ready.

At the second Moscow Trials in 1937, one of the defendants, Drobnis, named Rakovsky as being part of the Trotskyite Centre. In the autumn of the same year Rakovsky was arrested and for seven months endured the same physical and mental torture meted out to the other victims.

On page 310 of the record of the 1938 trial of the 'Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites' we read:

VYSHINSKY: Consequently, for nearly thirty-five years you have been bound to Trotsky by political and personal friendship.

RAKOVSKY: Yes.

On page 311 the clash with Vyshinsky.

VYSHINSKY: So you wanted to seize power with the help of the fascists?

RAKOVSKY: With the help 0f the fascists. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: If the fascists secured the seizure of power for you, in whose hands would the power be?

RAKOVSKY: History knows … [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: No, you leave history alone.

RAKOVSKY: No standard answer can be given to this question. But if you like, the result would be something like the Petliura regime in the Ukraine. [our emphasis]

VYSHINSKY: ''Something like" depends on many circumstances which you do not control. I ask you, did the Trotskyites and the "bloc of Rights and Trotskyites" whose representatives are sitting here in the dock, figure on seizing power and destroying Soviet government by their own efforts?

RAKOVSKY: No. [our emphasis]

As in Zimmerwald in 1915, and in the Soviet Union in the 1929 Statement of the Left Opposition, the International Committee of the Fourth International continues the policy of the United Front with the forces of the political revolution now unfolding within the USSR. At Zimmerwald, the right wing led by Martov (which had the majority) upheld a pacifist policy refusing to break from the traitors of the Second International. Lenin and the Bolsheviks fought for 'revolutionary defeatism'. They had agreement with the 'Centrists' Trotsky and Rakovsky that the Second International could not be reformed and that the Third Communist International must replace it.

'In practice,' if we may paraphrase Lenin, the political revolution 'as any analysis will show, contains inconsistencies, and does not say everything that should be said ... we retain full freedom, and full opportunity to criticise inconsistencies and to work for greater things.'

The rehabilitation of Bukharin, Rykov, Muralov and Rakovsky must be used to speed the rehabilitation of Trotsky. This must be a historical rehabilitation, which means that all of their writings should be published within the USSR thus creating the conditions for a section of the ICFI to be formed within the USSR.

First published in the Marxist Monthly, Vol 1 No 2 April 1988

Bookmark and Share