Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin on the rights of nations to self-determination


04/03/2016 by socialistfight


Welsh Assembly Member Mick Antoniw: his article in the Western Mail provoked some controversy

A reply to some Stalinist Comrades

By Gerry Downing 3 March 2016

A debate took place on a forum about a story from Wales Online on 24th February 2016 by David Williamson on the EU referendum in Wales. It told the story of Mychajlo Pavlovich Antoniw who “escaped the horrors of war-torn Ukraine and his son, Mick, (who) is now fighting to keep the UK in the EU for the good of Wales”.

Mick Antoniw, the son “of a refugee whose Ukrainian father started a new life in Britain as World War II raged has said he is certain his dad would want the UK to stay in the European Union” and “is adamant that Wales’ interests are best served by the UK staying in the EU”.

He says that “My dad’s village was on the front line three times… my father was a refugee from Ukraine after the war, a country which lost 12 million lives in that terrible war. My father’s village became part of the front line in the war three times. Had my father not been given refuge here he would almost certainly have been deported alongside most of the rest of my family to the labour camps of Siberia. The country has recently had a revolution to enable it to become part of the European project and join the many other countries that were also once part of the Stalinist dictatorship.”

This leads him to make the case that, “Being part of Europe is about economic stability and prosperity certainly but it also about the development of democracy and peace. It is a recognition in our global community no country can survive as an island and that our best hope for peace and prosperity is working together in cooperation and with common objectives.”

There followed a picture of Mick Antoniw’s grandparents, Eva and Pavlo Antoniw and, describing his father’s own life story, he told the Western Mail:

“My father was from a village called Pochapy near Zolochiv (western Ukraine near the city of Lviv – GD); he came to the UK via Scotland in 1944 and was in a displaced persons camp there… He worked as a carpenter having trained in Ukraine before the war as a cabinet maker. He died several years ago but was a supporter of the EU because he thought it would give Ukraine a chance to become a democratic country… His brother was killed [by] the Red Army when it crossed the river Oder and his other brother died in the anti-Stalin partisans in 1952; most of the rest were deported to Novosibirsk area in Siberia. The entire village was rounded up, men women and children…” [1]

Mick Antoniw clarified how his uncle died in a message to me: “My uncle was serving in the red army and got killed crossing the river Oder. The article had an error in it”.

Lenin Begins his Last Struggle

Having promised a reply I found that I would have to reassert the politics of Leninism and Trotskyism against Stalin and Stalinism and to do that I would have to begin with Lenin’s last struggle against Stalin. This involved three issues in particular on which Lenin fought with all the remaining strength he had in the period after his first stroke on 26 May 1922. As he fought for life itself his political struggle grew ever more intense as he understood things were going seriously wrong with the first workers’ state. The three issues were; 1. The defence of the principle of retaining the monopoly of foreign trade. 2. The fight against the bureaucratisation of the state to keep the revolution alive. The third issue was what is known as the Georgia controversy which spans the entire period of his illness and grew to its more bitter on 6-8 March 1923, on the eve of his third and totally debilitating stroke which took his speech. Here is the course of his illness and struggle:

Timeline of Lenin’s Last Struggle

1922       —          May 26 Lenin suffers his first stroke.

1922       —          November 20 Lenin’s last public speech.

1922       —          December 15 Lenin suffers his second stroke.

1922       —          December 22, Stalin’s telephone call to Krupskaya.

1922      —          December 24 Lenin writes his Testament.

1922       —          December 24: Politburo orders that Lenin be kept in isolation.

1922       —          December 25, Lenin adds the rider about removing Stain.

1922       —          December 30 Formal establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

1923       —          March 2 Lenin writes his last document; Better Fewer, But Better, against the rising bureaucracy.

1923       —          March 9 Lenin suffers his third stroke. No longer able to speak.

1924       —          January 21 Lenin dies from fourth stroke.


  1. Defending the monopoly of foreign trade

The first issue was the defence of the monopoly of foreign trade. In defending this he formed a close alliance with Trotsky and inflicted a signal defeat on Stalin, who was forced to withdraw his proposal to modify this monopoly. Of course this defended the whole principle of state planning and blocked the direct penetration of imperialist transnational corporations into the Soviet economy. It followed repeated warnings from Lenin about the dangers from the New Economic Policy (NEP) introduced in March 1921 at the Tenth Congress, which also banned factions following the Kronstadt revolt. This became a live issue from late 1921.

As Tony Cliff explains:

“The monopoly of foreign trade had been established on 22 April 1918. During the civil war the question of its abolition never arose (not that there was any foreign trade to speak of). With the development of the NEP, however, the monopoly of foreign trade came under pressure due to the growing influence of private trade. Towards the end of 1921 Miliutin, the Soviet delegate to the Baltic Economic Conference in Riga, promised this monopoly would be abolished. A number of other Bolshevik leaders supported Miliutin in this. Sokolnikov, Bukharin and Piatakov opposed the retention of the foreign trade monopoly (the future Right Bolsheviks – GD); Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin wanted it relaxed (the Centrists- GD). On 3 March 1922 Lenin wrote to Kamenev:

‘The foreigners are already buying our officials with bribes, and carting out what is left of Russia. They may well succeed. [We must] publish right away … a firm, cold, fierce statement that we do not intend to retreat in the economy any further, and that those who attempt to cheat us (or circumvent the monopoly etc.) will face terrorism.’ [2]

On 15 May Lenin wrote a draft decision for the politburo on the subject, stating: ‘The central committee reaffirms the monopoly of foreign trade.’ [3] He also wrote in a letter to Stalin that ‘a formal ban should be put on all talk and negotiations and commissions … concerning the relaxation of the foreign trade monopoly.’ Stalin wrote on Lenin’s letter: ‘I have no objection to a “formal ban” on measures to mitigate the foreign trade monopoly at the present stage. All the same, I think that mitigation is becoming indispensable.’ [4]

The discussion continued. On 22 May Lenin’s theses were adopted by the politburo. But later, during his absence after the stroke that paralysed him on 25 May, the opponents of the monopoly won the day. On 6 October a plenum of the central committee ratified Sokolnikov’s proposal that the monopoly should be considerably relaxed. Lenin reacted sharply, and on 16 October the central committee agreed to put the question on the agenda again at the next plenum, to be held on 25 December.

On 11 October Lenin (now invalided – GD) asked Trotsky to confer with him on this problem in particular. Two days earlier he had sent an urgent letter to all politburo members demanding the reversal of the decision. Once again Stalin appended a note to Lenin’s letter: ‘Comrade Lenin’s letter has not made me change my mind as to the correctness of the decision of the plenum of the central committee of 6 October concerning foreign trade.’ [5] The lion was mortally wounded, and the jackal raised his head.

On 12 December Lenin suggested to Trotsky that they should join forces in defence of the foreign trade monopoly: ‘Comrade Trotsky: I am sending you Krestinsky’s letter. Write me as soon as possible whether you agree: at the plenum, I am going to fight for the monopoly. What about you? Yours, Lenin.’ [6]

Three days later, in a letter to Stalin, Lenin wrote: ‘I have … come to an agreement with Trotsky on the defence of my views on the monopoly of foreign trade.’ He added: ‘… any further vacillation over this extremely important question is absolutely impermissible and will wreck all our work.’ [7]

The Lenin-Trotsky partnership on the question of the monopoly led the central committee to reverse its decision of 6 October. On 21 December, therefore, Lenin could write to Trotsky: ‘It looks as though it has been possible to take the position without a single shot, by a simple manoeuvre. I suggest that we should not stop and should continue the offensive.’” [8] [9]

In the NEP from 1921 foreign trade, banks and heavy industry would stay in state hands, the rest was privatized. So economic planning became integral to the monopoly of foreign trade. On this issue Lenin came around to Trotsky’s position on upgrading the role of the state planning body Gosplan. This was further developed by the Left Opposition leader Preobrazenski and others from 1923 on. The panic forced collectivisation of 1928-29 adopted the programme of the Left Opposition on the matter of state planning but in such an appalling unplanned and bureaucratic fashion that it caused the disastrous famine of 1931-32.

Foreign trade monopoly is one of the central features of a workers’ state and one cannot survive long without this. This is also a reproach to those who believe that those like China and Vietnam remain workers’ states despite having abandoned this monopoly by the early 1990s. The fact that it took the combined political offensive of the two central leaders of the Russian Revolution, Lenin and Trotsky, to reverse the disastrous course set by Stalin showed two things. Firstly the growing strength of Stalin within the leadership. And secondly the declining authority of both Lenin and Trotsky within the Political Bureau and the leadership itself. This was their second last victory, the basis for the founding of the USSR on 22 December 1922 was the last. From that point on Stalin, and those who allied with him, won every battle. The forward thrust of the revolution itself was waning, its revolutionary political consciousness was declining and compromise with imperialism was becoming the wisdom of the leading party figures. But certainly without the retention of the monopoly of foreign trade and the extension of state planning, both joint mutually-dependent policies of Lenin and Trotsky, the USSR could not have survived until 1991.


  1. The Fight against growing bureaucratisation

We will take this issue next although it emerged last of the three for Lenin; the Georgia controversy spans the whole period of his illness and it has been argued that it was the absence of pressing matters of state and the struggle on the foreign trade monopoly that alerted Lenin to the dangers posed by Stalin’s rise in particular and he now took on board Trotsky’s criticisms of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate (Rabkrin) led by Stalin.

Lenin became aware of the dangers of bureaucratisation from as early as 1919 and took action against it. He formed the Rabkrin and Stalin was appointed to head it. It was a disastrous choice because the free access visits this afforded the functionaries appointed by Stalin to every other official body and commission without warning or appointment gave him an ideal weapon to impose his own practices and prejudices on all state bodies. In the name of fighting the bureaucratisation of the state Stalin imposed it. Trotsky attacked the practices of Rabkrin in 1920 but Lenin did not support him. But in his isolation Lenin recognised the dangers fully and penned two documents against them. The first was How we should reorganise the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection on 23 January 1923:

“Our Central Committee has grown into a strictly centralised and highly authoritative group, but the conditions under which this group is working are not concurrent with its authority… the bureaucratic apparatus of the Soviet state is nearly identical to the czarist government, save for a slightly “touched up surface”. [10]

Lenin suggests combining the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection with the Central Control Commission, and decreasing the former’s membership to improve efficiency while increasing the latter’s membership with more peasants and workers. Lenin stresses that the powers of the increasingly powerful Politburo be governed by the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection. This was followed on 2 March 1923 by Lenin’s final political documents, Better Fewer but Better. He asserts:

Let us say frankly that the People’s Commissariat of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection does not at present enjoy the slightest authority. Everybody knows that no other institutions are worse organised than those of our Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, and that under present conditions nothing can be expected from this People’s Commissariat. [11]

These were direct attacks on Stalin, who now controlled the Political Bureau. They did not want to publish it; remember Lenin was a semi-invalid again after his second stroke on 15 December 1922. Trotsky recounts:

“How did the Political Bureau react to Lenin’s project for the reorganisation of Rabkrin? Comrade Bukharin hesitated to print Lenin’s article [Better Fewer, but Better], while Lenin, on his side, insisted upon its immediate appearance. N.K. Krupskaya told me by telephone and asked me to take steps to get it printed as soon as possible. At the meeting of the Political Bureau, called immediately upon my demand, all those present – comrades Stalin, Molotov, Kuibyshev, Rykov, Kahin, Bukharin – were not only against comrade Lenin’s plan but against the very printing of the article.

The members of the secretariat were particularly harsh and categorical in their opposition. In view of the insistent demand of comrade Lenin that the article should be shown to him in print, comrade Kuibyshev, afterwards the head of Rabkrin, proposed at the above-mentioned session of the Political Bureau that one special number of Pravda should be printed with Lenin’s article and shown to him in order to placate him, while the article itself should be concealed from the party … I was supported only by comrade Kamenev, who appeared at the meeting of the Political Bureau almost an hour late. The chief argument that induced them to print the article was that an article by Lenin could not be concealed from the party in any case.” [12]

The article was published in Pravda on 4 March, three days before Lenin’s third debilitating stroke. The Georgian controversy also agitated him in these final days of his political activity and it is to this issue we must now turn as it is the most important section from the standpoint of our original task; to expose the disastrous effects of Stalin’s policies in the formally independent Soviet Republics of Georgia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Armenia and Azerbaidzhan and to counterpose the policies of Lenin, Bolshevism and Trotsky to these.

Anastas Mikoyan, Joseph Stalin and Grigol Ordzhonikidze in Tiflis (now Tbilisi), in 1925, having been saved by Lenin’s death on 21 January 1924
  1. The Georgia controversy – the rights of nations to self-determination

Lenin’s last struggle is centrally concerned with the rights of nations to self-determination, concentrated in the Georgia controversy against Stalin in particular. The last letter that he wrote, on 6 March 1923, on the eve of his debilitating third stroke, showed his personal commitment to this question, now given priority in his mind over all others:

To P.G. Mdivani, F.Y. Makharadze and others (leaders of the Georgian opposition):

Top Secret

Copy to Comrades Trotsky and Kamenev

Dear Comrades:

I am following your case with all my heart. I am indignant over Ordzhonikidze’s rudeness and the connivance of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky. I am preparing for you notes and a speech. Respectfully yours,

Lenin [13]

Of course the central thrust of Lenin’s argument from 1913 against the Austro-Marxists, the rights of nations not only to autonomy but to separate if they wished, is here defended as he had done also against Rosa Luxemburg in 1915 [14] and he never yielded on this aspect of the matter. In a recent controversy with the International Bolshevik Tendency [15] we took issue with their use of the following quote from Lenin of 1913:

‘‘Marxism cannot be reconciled with nationalism, be it even of the ‘most just’, ‘purest’, most refined and civilised brand. In place of all forms of nationalism Marxism advances internationalism…. [16]

We would contend that Lenin developed his position on the national question from 1913 when he praised Stalin’s very Second International mechanical work on the question. [17] Certainly by 1920 and the Second Congress of the Communist International Lenin was sounding very different from this quote, which certainly does not accurately reflect his position on the question even in 1913:

“First, what is the most important, the fundamental idea of our theses? The distinction between oppressed and oppressor nations. We emphasize this distinction–in diametric contrast to the Second International and bourgeois democracy. In the epoch of imperialism, it is particularly important for the proletariat and the Communist International to establish the concrete economic facts and in the solution of all colonial and national questions, to proceed not from abstract postulates but from concrete realities.

The characteristic feature of imperialism is that the whole world, as we see, is now divided into a large number of oppressed nations and an insignificant number of oppressor nations, which command colossal wealth and powerful armed forces. The overwhelming majority of the world’s population, more than a thousand million people, and very probably 1,250 million–if we take the world’s total population at 1,750 million–or about seventy per cent of the world’s population, belong to the oppressed nations, which are either in a state of direct colonial dependence or are semi-colonies such as Persia, Turkey and China, or else, having been defeated by the armies of a big imperialist power, have become greatly dependent on that power by virtue of peace treaties. . . [18]

We should emphasise here that Lenin’s distinction is between oppressed and oppressor nations and he does not limit this to the conflicts between imperialism and colonial and semi-colonial peoples. He did not, of course, identify the USSR as an imperialist state but he understood that, nevertheless, its entire history was of exploiting and oppressing the nations in the Russian Empire and its immediate periphery and he knew this reactionary attitude was still extant and dangerous, even in the ranks of the Bolsheviks and in its leadership. So Lenin says on 31 December 1922: “Unless Great Russian chauvinism was fought to the death, the party’s support for anti-imperialist national liberation movements would be completely hypocritical: we ourselves lapse … into imperialist attitudes towards oppressed nationalities”. This is his most relevant quote for the situation in the Ukraine today; it is this quote that must inform our attitude to Vladimir Putin.

We observe this also in the leading nations of other former semi-feudal Empires where the national liberation movements from the mid-19th century to WWI were directed in part at least from the top down by semi-feudal aristocratic landlord and capitalist forces. We would cite Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Serbia and Croatia to mention a few who have no global finance capital to speak of yet tend to see themselves as superior to their neighbour, of a higher culture, intelligence etc. This is not to give credence to the totally false line that dubs advanced semi-colonial nations “sub-imperialist” (Argentina, Iraq, etc.) to avoid giving them unconditional supports in conflict and wars against imperialism and its proxies.

The Red Army in Tiflis (now Tbilisi), in 1921.

Look at how Christian Rakovsky handles the national question in line with the developments made by Lenin as recounted by Marcel Liebman:

Refusing to be content with ‘an abstract presentation of the question of nationalism in general’, he (Lenin – GD) insisted that ‘a distinction must necessarily be made between the nationalism of an oppressor nation and that of an oppressed nation, the nationalism of a big nation and that of a small nation’. And he declared that, ‘in respect of the second kind of nationalism, we, nationals of a big nation, have nearly always been guilty, in historic practice, of an infinite number of cases of violence; furthermore, we commit violence and insult an infinite number of times without noticing it.’ Lenin concluded that ‘internationalism on the part of oppressors or “great” nations, as they are called (though they are great only in their violence, only great as bullies), must consist not only in the observance of the formal equality of nations but even in an inequality of the oppressor nation, the great nation, that must make up for the inequality which obtains in actual practice.’ As regards relations with Georgia and with the national minorities as a whole, he advised: ‘it is better to overdo rather than underdo the concessions and leniency toward the national minorities? [19]

Note how different all this is from Stalin, from the Lenin of 1913, if we take that one-sidedly quote as representative of his whole position. It explains why Lenin that took such umbrage at Stalin’s Great Russian Chauvinism, as he called it, in regard to Georgia from 1922 until his death in 1924. This passage relates how Rakovsky himself developed his views on the subject; these views then became those of the Left Opposition and Trotsky’s own views:

“What was the specific problem which the national question posed for the Communist Party in the Soviet Union according to Rakovsky? In 1919, in the article already mentioned (Relations between the Republics), Rakovsky had analysed nationalism and national culture as specific to the bourgeois state order, an extension of the concept of “private ownership” to the level of the state. Therefore he saw the elimination of capitalist private property as undermining once and for all the basis of specifically “national” consciousness and culture, and he saw the federal and centralizing principle as a characteristic of the socialist order. The problem had presented itself then in terms of the “suppression” of national prejudice, national boundaries etc., and he had been very optimistic in 1919 about the pace at which those would disappear. At the Twelfth Congress that optimism had disappeared: “the more often we discuss this question the further away we are from a communist understanding and solution of the national problem”.

“There were many in the party in 1923 who believed that the national problem had already been solved. Rakovsky asked: “Tell me, comrades, how many of you can explain in what way the October revolution solved the nationalities question?” It did not resolve it, nor could it have. National culture does not cease to exist because the state is a workers’ state or because the economy is no longer privately owned. National culture is “the only way” through which the working and peasant masses will gain access to political and cultural life. “And hand in hand with national consciousness comes that feeling of equality which Lenin speaks of in his memorandum. Because of centuries of tsarist domination, the nationalities are now experiencing that feeling of equality in a much deeper and stronger way than we think.” So the problem posed before the Communist Party was not one of the suppression or “overcoming” of national consciousness. “It (the party) faces the question of how to find the bond between proletarian communist internationalism and the national development of wide layers of the peasant masse with their aspirations for a national life, for their own national culture, for their own national state.” [20]

File:Rakovsky and Stamboliyski in Genoa.jpg

Rakovsky and Stamboliyski in Genoa, May 1922

Lenin criticised the actions of Felix Dzerzhinsky, Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze, and Stalin in his 31 December 1922 article “Nationalities Issue” or about “Autonomization” in the “Georgian Affair”, accusing them of “Great Russian chauvinism”:

“It is quite natural that in such circumstances the “freedom to secede from the union” by which we justify ourselves will be a mere scrap of paper, unable to defend the non-Russians from the onslaught of that really Russian man, the Great-Russian chauvinist, in substance a rascal and a tyrant, such as the typical Russian bureaucrat is. There is no doubt that the infinitesimal percentage of Soviet and sovietised workers will drown in that tide of chauvinistic Great-Russian riffraff like a fly in milk.

“I think that a fatal role was played here by hurry and the administrative impetuousness of Stalin and also his infatuation with the renowned “social-nationalism”. Infatuation in politics generally and usually plays the worst role… I think that Stalin’s haste and his infatuation with pure administration, together with his spite against the notorious “nationalist-socialism” [Stalin criticised the minority nations for not being “internationalist” because they did want to unite with Russia], played a fatal role here. In politics spite generally plays the basest of roles…” [21]

Lenin’s struggle against Great Russian Chauvinism began as soon as the Civil War was over. Tony Cliff recounts that at the Ninth Party Congress in March 1920 Lenin showed he was already aware of the danger:

‘Scratch some communists, and you will find Great Russian chauvinists.’ (Cliff’s Endnotes) [22] At the Tenth Party Congress in March 1921, Sakharov, a delegate from Turkestan, analysed the composition of the local party and demanded a more active struggle against both Great Russian chauvinism and Moslem nationalism.[23] The Tenth Congress was first to recognise Great Russian chauvinism in the Communist apparatus by including in its resolutions a strongly worded condemnation of it. [24]

On 2 November 1920 Trotsky, in a message to Lenin and the Politburo, bluntly stated that the Soviet administration in the Ukraine had from the outset been based on people sent from Moscow and not on local elections:

“The Soviet regime in the Ukraine has maintained itself in being up to now (but feebly at that) largely by virtue of the authority of Moscow, the Great-Russian Communists and the Russian Red Army … Economically the Ukraine still is the embodiment of anarchy, sheltering under the bureaucratic centralism of Moscow.” [25]

He demanded a radical break with this method of government.

At the Eleventh Party Congress (March-April 1922) the veteran Ukrainian Bolshevik, N. Skrypnik, argued that the Communist Party apparatus had been infiltrated by adherents of Smena Vekh [26] ready to violate the party’s solemn pledge to defend Ukrainian independence. ‘The one and indivisible Russia is not our slogan’, he exclaimed – at which point a voice from the audience shouted back ominously: ‘The one and indivisible Communist Party!’ [27]

So we see already by the 11th party Congress the reference to National Bolshevism (Smena Vekh) and its dangers as identified and fought against by Lenin [28] was now dismissed in favour of bureaucratic ease of operation in that unchecked heckle from the audience. National Bolshevism was a movement that was inspired by a novel by Nikolay Vasilyevich Ustryalov (November 25, 1890 – September 14, 1937) and became popular with some White Russians. Ustryalov was increasing inspired by Stalin, seeing the USSR under him as a radish, red on the outside and white inside. He was shot in the great purges in 1937, one of the very few counter-revolutionaries to suffer such a fate; the vast majority of the victims were the leaders and participators in the Russian Revolution, the living continuity of which Stalin was eager to obliterate to demonstrate to imperialism that he was no revolutionary and presented them with no threat or danger whatsoever.

The Treaty of Moscow, signed on 7 May 1920, recognised the independence of Georgia in line with Lenin’s principles on self-determination. But on 14 February 1921 Stalin tricked Lenin into agreeing to the invasion of the country, although both he and Trotsky had opposed this up to then. Stalin reported that there was a revolutionary uprising of workers and peasants and the Red Army was obliged to give it support. In fact, the skirmishes were engineered and there was no advanced revolutionary situation. As the Encyclopedia of Marxism recounts:

In February 1921, with the outbreak of popular uprisings against the Menshevik government there, the Red Army invaded to assist. The extent and popularity of the uprising, however, had been exaggerated and it took the Red Army ten days of heavy fighting to enter Tiflis, the Georgian capital.

Trotsky, head of the Red Army, had not ordered nor even been informed of the invasion of Georgia, which was mainly instigated and carried out by Stalin (General Secretary) and Ordzhonikidze (Chief commissar of the Revolutionary War Council of the Caucasus). Trotsky had disagreed with the invasion explaining that the population would be able to carry the revolution. Lenin, agreed to the invasion, however urged extreme caution in its implementation in order to ensure that the “Russian bully” would help and not dominate, the Georgian revolution.

Lenin later wrote in one of his last letters to the Congress of Soviets, that maintaining the right to autonomy and equality for the national minorities of Russia was absolutely essential. In the Georgian Incident, he recalled, Russian chauvinism and the practices of Stalin violated the most primary base of proletarian class solidarity, by exerting the interests of a big nation over a smaller one. (See: On the Question of Nationalities or “Autonomisation”). [29]

From this point, the crisis in Georgia grew ever more serious. The question of the rights of nations to self-determination was intimately bound up with the manner of the founding of the USSR itself on 30 December 1922. When Stalin drafted the resolution for the commission set up to found the USSR he treated the government of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic (RSFSR) as the real government of all six republics and did not recognise their legally established independence.

Stalin via his representative, Ordzhonikidze, sought to establish a Caucasian Federation consisting of Georgia, Azerbaidzhan and Armenia. The Georgian Communist Party central committee opposed this and a conflict arose between them and Ordzhonikidze. The entire Georgian central committee resigned on 22 October. Ordzhonikize appointed a new Central Committee of yes men. The struggle went on. Ordzhonikidze then assaulted a supporter of Mdivani, the Georgian leader who had resigned. The incident was witnessed by Rykov, a Politburo member and Lenin’s deputy, who reported it to Lenin. Reports of further threats of violence against the old Georgian leadership reached Lenin. Stalin now ordered the exile of all the old Georgian Central Committee from Georgia.

On hearing of this Lenin was absolutely furious. By the end of December, he was able to function almost normally and he began a merciless political assault on Stalin, it is he who is the prime “rascal and a tyrant” referred to by Lenin here, already quoted:

I suppose I have been very remiss with respect to the workers of Russia for not having intervened energetically and decisively enough in the notorious question of autonomisation, which, it appears, is officially called the question of the union of Soviet Socialist Republics … It is said that a united apparatus was needed. Where did that assurance come from? Did it not come from that same Russian apparatus which … we took over from Tsarism and slightly anointed with Soviet oil? … It is quite natural that in such circumstances the ‘freedom to secede from the union’ by which we justify ourselves will be a mere scrap of paper, unable to defend the non-Russians from the onslaught of that really Russian man, the Great Russian chauvinist, in substance a rascal and a tyrant, such as the typical Russian bureaucrat is. There is no doubt that the infinitesimal percentage of Soviet and Sovietised will drown in that tide of chauvinistic Great Russian riff-raff like a fly in milk … were we careful enough to take measures to provide the non-Russians with a real safeguard against the truly Russian bully? I do not think we took such measures although we could and should have done so. I think that Stalin’s haste and his infatuation with pure administration, together with his spite against the notorious ‘nationalist-socialism’ played a fatal role here. In politics spite generally plays the basest of roles. [30]

On 31 December Lenin wrote:

Exemplary punishment must be inflicted on Comrade Ordzhonikidze. The political responsibility for all this truly Great Russian nationalist campaign must, of course, be laid on Stalin and Dzerzhinsky [the head of the Cheka]. Unless Great Russian chauvinism was fought to the death, the party’s support for anti-imperialist national liberation movements would be completely hypocritical: we ourselves lapse … into imperialist attitudes towards oppressed nationalities, thus undermining all our principled sincerity, all our principled defence of the struggle against imperialism! [31]

Grigory Ordzhonikidze, close ally of Stalin, saved by Lenin’s death

Tony Cliff explains the struggle leading up to the founding of the USSR on 30 December 1922:

Although the All-Russian Congress of Soviets had supreme authority, in periods between its sessions its powers were passed to VTsIK.), Sovnarkom and the Council of Labour and Defence (STO) were to take over the functions of the leading bodies of the six republics. Key commissariats (foreign affairs and foreign trade, military affairs, transport and communications) were to be taken over by the Russian government, while others (finance, labour and national economy) had to operate under the control of the corresponding agencies of RSFSR; only an insignificant few were to be entrusted entirely to the autonomous republics. Nearly all the national commissariats were to become mere extensions of the Moscow administration.

Point Six of the resolution proposed that the documents should be kept secret until the various VTsIKs agreed: there was to be no consultation of congresses of soviets, let alone of the masses of workers and peasants. [32]

On 15 September 1922 the central committee of the Georgian Communist Party rejected this resolution. The party secretariat – which in this case meant Stalin – then acted improperly, by sending the commission’s resolution to all members and candidate members of the party central committee without the question having been considered by the politburo. To add insult to injury on 28 August, even before his plans had been discussed by the politburo, Stalin appears to have sent a telegram to Mdivani, a leader of the Georgian opposition to Stalin, informing him that the decisions of the highest governing bodies of the RSFSR (VTsIK, Sovnarkom and STO) were henceforth binding on all the republics. [33]

When Lenin received the commission’s resolution he was furious. It violated any concept of national equality, and openly formalised the hegemony of the RSFSR over the other republics. On 26 September he wrote to Kamenev: ‘… we consider ourselves, the Ukrainian SSR and others, equal, and enter with them, on an equal basis, into a new union, a new federation, the Union of the Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia.’ He demanded the creation of an All-Union Central Executive Committee, Sovnarkom and STO, to supersede those of the RSFSR. [34]

Stalin was truculent and opposed the sick old man. He and Kamenev, probably at a meeting of the politburo, exchanged two brief notes on the subject of Lenin’s memorandum. Kamenev’s note reads: ‘Ilyich is going to war to defend independence.’ Stalin replied: ‘In my opinion we have to be firm against Lenin.’ [35]

On 27 September Stalin replied to Lenin. Among other hurtful remarks he accused Lenin of ‘national liberalism’. [36] On 6 October Lenin wrote a memorandum to the politburo, On Combating Dominant National Chauvinism: “I declare war to the death on dominant national chauvinism … It must be absolutely insisted that the Union Central Executive Committee should be presided over in turn by a Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, etc. Absolutely!” [37]

Recognising that he would be in a minority on the central committee, Stalin accepted Lenin’s amendment to the commission’s resolution. (Cliff’s footnotes) [38]

So the USSR was founded on the basis of formally recognising the rights of nations to self-determination as a result of Lenin’s struggle. This did not mean that Stalin had any intention of carrying out this policy, with which he profoundly disagreed. And he did not when his growing power and Lenin’s illness eventually freed him from Leninism and the politics of revolutionary internationalism.

By late December, most likely between the 24 December, when he wrote his Testament, and the 25t,h when he added the bit that said, “Stalin is too rude and this defect….”, it is fair to assume he had heard of the infamous telephone call from Stalin to his wife Krupskaya on 22 December. It is also likely that the grosser details of what Stalin said to her did not reach his ears until she told him on 5 March 1923, just two days before his third stroke when he threatened to break personal relations with Stalin. The following is the excerpt in the Collected Works on the incident:
Top secret


Copy to Comrades Kamenev and Zinoviev

Dear Comrade Stalin:

You have been so rude as to summon my wife to the telephone and use bad language. Although she had told   you that she was prepared to forget this, the fact nevertheless became known through her to Zinoviev and Kamenev. I have no intention of forgetting so easily what has been done against me, and it goes without saying that what has been done against my wife I consider having been done against me as well. I ask you, therefore, to think it over whether you are prepared to withdraw what you have said and to make your apologies, or whether you prefer that relations between us should be broken off.

Respectfully yours, Lenin, March 5, 1923


[1] A reference to the following fact. After Lenin, with the permission of his doctors, had, on December 21, 1922, dictated a letter to Trotsky on the foreign trade monopoly (see this volume, Document 811), J. V. Stalin, whom a C.C. Plenum decision of December 18 had made personally responsible for the observance of the medical regimen ordered for Lenin, used offensive language   against Nadezhda Krupskaya and threatened to take the case to the Control Commission for having taken down the said letter. On December 23, 1922, Krupskaya sent Kamenev a letter asking for protection from “the gross interference in my personal life, offensive language and threats”.

Nadezhda Krupskaya apparently told Lenin of this fact in early March 1923. Having learned about this Lenin dictated the document here published. Maria Ulyanova (Lenin’s sister) later wrote in a letter to the presidium of the July (1926) Joint Plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the R.C.P.(B.), at which the question had been raised by G. Y. Zinoviev, one of the leaders of the “new opposition”, that Stalin had offered his apologies. [39]

Of course we can never know exactly what was said between them but we do know that it profoundly upset Krupskaya. He was ‘rude’ to her, she revealed and much more details to Lenin’s sister and to Zinoviev and Kamenev. One detail of what Krupskaya claimed he said circulated in the top echelons of the Bolsheviks. Stalin had called her “a syphilitic whore” she said and all the leading Bolsheviks would have immediately understood that the insult was directed at Lenin himself and not at Krupskaya in the first place.

Lenin died on 21 January 1924 having suffered a fourth and fatal stroke, the third stroke took his speech some ten months previously on 9 March. Persistent rumours had it that it was not just the August 1918 bullets from Fanny Kaplan and those strokes that killed him. Lenin, it was claimed at the time and on several occasions since, suffered from syphilis since an encounter with a prostitute in Paris in the early years of the century, hence his childlessness. Whatever the truth or otherwise of the rumour its existence cannot be denied. And that was the rumour to which Stalin’s vile insult referred.

What had emboldened and/or outraged Stalin so much that it caused him to forsake his customary deference to Lenin? Some have speculated that he now felt that supreme power was in his grasp and he felt free to voice the contempt bred of inferiority he had always felt for Lenin. His instincts had caused him to defer to Lenin after April 1917 when he was caught on the wrong side of the April Theses controversy; as editor of Pravda which was supporting the Provisional Government in pursuing the war. When Kamenev, Stalin and Matvei Muranov returned from Siberian exile on 12 March they took over the editorial board – starting with 15 March. [40]

They displaced Shlyapnikov and Molotov as editors of Pravda, who had held the correct defeatist line on the war; they were opposed to the liberal Russian Provisional Government and immediately supported Lenin’s April Theses when he arrived back the following month. Under Kamenev’s and Stalin’s influence, Pravda took a conciliatory tone towards the Provisional Government—”insofar as it struggles against reaction or counter-revolution”—and called for a unification conference with the internationalist wing of the Mensheviks. On March 14, Kamenev wrote in his first editorial: “What purpose would it serve to speed things up, when things were already taking place at such a rapid pace?” [41] And on 15 March he supported the war effort: “When army faces army, it would be the most insane policy to suggest to one of those armies to lay down its arms and go home. This would not be a policy of peace, but a policy of slavery, which would be rejected with disgust by a free people”. [42]

But when Lenin and Trotsky won that argument and opened the road for the second revolution the shook the world it left Kamenev and Stalin in disgrace; Kamenev and Zinoviev went so far as to publicly oppose the October insurrection, putting the lives of the entire Bolshevik leadership in danger. This is directly referred to by Lenin is his Testament below. Stalin did not participate in this adventure but he was still in disgrace and moreover was clearly not of the calibre of the other two as a revolutionary, a ‘third rate leader’ as Trotsky later characterised him who played no significant part in the actual revolution itself. And this was in the context of the Georgia controversy, where Lenin attacked Stalin and two other Bolshevik leaders, Dzerzhinsky and Ordzhonikidze ’. Lenin’s last struggle was on the national question, hence its relevance to Ukraine. The conflict was bitter, and Lenin did not spare his opponents in his struggle, as was his custom.

Marcel Liebman describes the last few days of Lenin’s political life: Leninism under Lenin, Epilogue: The End of Lenin (pp. 417-425)

After the ‘Testament’ had been written, the Georgian affair continued its course. Lenin’s four secretaries formed themselves, at his request, into a ‘clandestine commission’ with the task of completing a dossier that was already overwhelming. On March 3rd the commission presented its conclusions. We do not know what they were. But they evidently seemed to Lenin to justify the haste with which he proceeded to open his last campaign. On March 5th and 6th he dictated three letters, one after the other, which he told his doctors were just ‘business letters’, but which were in fact of major importance. In the first of them he appealed to Trotsky to ‘undertake the defence of the Georgian case in the Party C.C.’, adding: ‘I would feel at ease if you agreed to undertake its defence.’ [43] On the same day he sent Stalin the letter (already quoted) in which he threatened to break off relations with him. [44] On March 6th he sent a ‘top secret’ note to the Georgian Communist leaders. This was the first such note, and also the last. ‘I am following your case with all my heart,’ wrote Lenin. ‘I am indignant over Ordzhonikidze’s rudeness and the connivance of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky. I am preparing for you notes and a speech.’ [45]

As Moshe Lewin remarks, these last two days March 5th and 6th, 1923 of Lenin’s active life bore ‘the character of a major struggle But Lenin’s declining health did not allow him to live much longer in such a state of emotional and nervous tension. His illness grew rapidly more serious. [46] On March 6th, Krupskaya told Kamenev that Lenin had resolved ‘to crush Stalin politically? [47] The next day, March 7th, a new attack of arteriosclerosis put an end to Lenin’s active life. His political death saved Stalin‘s career, and meant the doom of Leninism. [48]

James Robb: A communist at large

Appendix 1, Trotsky and Ukrainian independence

By James Robb, March 13, 2014 [49]

“The Ukrainian question, which many governments and many “socialists” and even “communists” have tried to forget or to relegate to the deep strongbox of history, has once again been placed on the order of the day and this time with redoubled force… The Ukrainian question is destined in the immediate future to play an enormous role in the life of Europe.”

Thus wrote Leon Trotsky, co-leader with Lenin of the Russian revolution of 1917, from his exile in Mexico in 1939.

Trotsky was very well-acquainted with the Ukrainian question. Born in the southern Ukraine village of Yanovka, the son of Jewish farmers who spoke ‘a broken mixture of Ukrainian and Russian, but mostly Ukrainian’, he grew up at a time when Ukraine was under the rule of the Russian Czarist Empire. He attended high school at a German school in the Black Sea port of Odessa (Odesa), during which time the German and other teachers were gradually being replaced with Russians under the Czarist policy of Russification.

Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Russian empire had expanded the territory under its control, bringing under its rule many non-Russian nationalities and peoples. Russification was its means of maintaining political control of this vast empire, beginning with the Polish partition of the late 18th century. Lithuanian and Polish-language schools were closed in Lithuania. Polish shops were denied licences. Discriminatory tax regimes were imposed on Catholics, in favour of the Russian Orthodox religion. Polish language was forbidden in schools in the 1880s. Lithuanians and Poles were banned from professional occupations such as doctors and teachers. In response to nationalist uprisings in those countries, large estates of land were confiscated and handed over to Russian nobles. Russian migration to the newly-acquired territories was encouraged. Similar policies were rolled out in as the Russian empire extended its domination over Finland, Bessarabia (Moldova), and the peoples of Central Asia and the Caucasus.

The defining institution of the Czarist Empire was the katorga – the system of penal labour camps in the remote Siberian hinterlands established in the 17th century, and used with especial ferocity to punish nationalist uprisings against Czarist authority. 80,000 Poles were exiled to the Siberian katorgas in 1864, following the January uprising of 1863-64.

Russification was implemented in Ukraine with increasing intensity as an Ukraininan national identity developed in the course of the nineteenth century. Ukrainian language was banned from schools as early as 1804; Ukrainian Sunday Schools were abolished altogether in 1862. The following year, the Russian minister of internal affairs declared that “the Ukrainian language never existed, doesn’t exist, and cannot exist,” (a statement that echoes down to the present day, in Putin’s 2008 ‘joke’ to the effect that ‘Ukraine is not a real country’). A secret decree forbade the use of the Ukrainian language in print. The Ukrainian poet, painter, folklorist and political figure Taras Shevchenko was exiled to the katorga camps for ten years, after writing a poem satirising the czar in 1847.

When Trotsky wrote about Ukraine in 1939, he had seen the Ukrainian nation come full circle.

With the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, Ukrainian desires for an independent nation had been re-kindled. The Bolshevik revolution of 1917, which overthrew the Czarist Empire, established as one of its founding principles the right of self-determination for all the oppressed nationalities of the Czarist Empire, up to and including the right of separation. In January 1918 Ukraine declared independence, and the independent state was recognised by the Bolshevik government in Moscow. It turned out to be the first of four short-lived Ukrainian governments, as competing class forces within the Ukrainian nation jostled for supremacy.

Large swathes of western territories of the Russian empire had been forcibly ceded to Germany under the oppressive terms of the treaties which ended Russia’s participation in the World War. Ukraine became one of the principal battlegrounds of both the revolution and the civil war launched by the European imperialist powers to overthrow the revolution, falling under the control of invading Polish, German and French troops, and those of the counter-revolutionary general Denikin, for a period of years.

Ukraine was simultaneously in the throes of a revolutionary class struggle as deep-going as the revolution in Russia: Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, Romanian and German workers and peasants battled their Ukrainian and Russian bosses and landlords. (Each class leaves behind its own version of this history!) The fight for an independent Ukraine entwined with the fight to defend the Russian revolution against its attackers, especially the forces headquartered in Poland. Kiev was not finally liberated until June 1920, and even then the Ukrainian nation was left divided. The treaty ending the Russian-Polish war in 1921 left four million Ukrainians oppressed under Polish rule.

The fate of the independent Ukrainian republic was thus closely bound with that of the Russian revolution, and collaboration and eventually fusion between Bolshevik forces and the left wing of the Ukrainian nationalists resulted. A Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic allied to Soviet Russia was established in 1919, which joined the Federation of Soviet Republics and later the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922. These were not easy times. A disastrous famine, largely the result of the economic dislocation of agriculture during the long years of imperialist war and civil war, hit both Ukraine and Russia hard in 1921-22.

However, throughout much of the 1920s Ukrainian culture experienced a major revival, under the Bolshevik policy of indigenisation – the reverse of the czarist Russification policy. A Ukrainian-language education system succeeded in reducing illiteracy in Ukraine from 46% in 1926 to 8% in 1934. Ukrainian-language newspapers, almost non-existent in 1922, grew to 373 out of 426. Representation of Ukrainians at all levels of the state apparatus greatly increased. (A more detailed account of this period can be found here.)

But by the end of the 1920s a conservative bureaucratic layer headed by Joseph Stalin had usurped power in the Soviet Union. The first political battle against the rise of this reactionary force was launched by Lenin, his final battle before his death in 1923. That fight centred on the national question. Lenin was convinced that Stalin was violating the rights of the oppressed nations of the former czarist empire, especially in independent Georgia; he proposed to Trotsky that they form a bloc to defend this principle of Bolshevik rule against Stalin, but died before the struggle could be joined.

The victory of the Stalinist counter-revolution threw the national liberation struggles in the non-Russian republics into reverse. The counter-revolution revived all the Russification policies of czarism, on a monstrous scale. Expressions of national sentiment were denounced as bourgeois nationalism; leaders in the ‘independent republics’ who insisted on their right to independence – supposedly guaranteed in the Soviet constitution – were persecuted savagely. A further famine hit Ukraine in 1932, this time the direct result of Stalin’s policy of the forced collectivisation of agriculture. The katorgas were revived, on an unprecedented scale. Entire national populations, including the Tatars of the independent Crimea, were deemed by the Stalin leadership to be counter-revolutionary and were forcibly deported en masse. Ukraine, among many other oppressed nations, found its national aspirations trampled in the mud of the new Russian ’empire.’

In an article published in the US newspaper Socialist Appeal, Trotsky reviews this history as it stood in 1939: [50]

“The Second International, expressing the interests of the labour bureaucracy and aristocracy of the imperialist states, completely ignored the Ukrainian question. Even its left wing did not pay the necessary attention to it. Suffice it to recall that Rosa Luxemburg, for all her brilliant intellect and genuinely revolutionary spirit, found it possible to declare that the Ukrainian question was the invention of a handful of intellectuals. This position left a deep imprint even upon the Polish Communist Party. The Ukrainian question was looked upon by the official leaders of the Polish section of the Comintern as an obstacle rather than a revolutionary problem. Hence the constant opportunist attempts to shy away from this question, to suppress it, to pass over it in silence, or to postpone it to an indefinite future…

“The Bolshevik party, not without difficulty and only gradually under the constant pressure of Lenin, was able to acquire a correct approach to the Ukrainian question. The right to self-determination, that is, to separation, was extended by Lenin equally to the Poles and to the Ukrainians. He did not recognize aristocratic nations. Every inclination to evade or postpone the problem of an oppressed nationality he regarded as a manifestation of Great Russian chauvinism.

“After the conquest of power, a serious struggle took place in the party over the solving of the numerous national problems inherited from old Czarist Russia. In his capacity as People’s Commissar of Nationalities, Stalin invariably represented the most centralist and bureaucratic tendency. This evinced itself especially on the question of Georgia and on the question of the Ukraine. In order to guarantee “administrative needs,” i.e., the interests of the bureaucracy, the most legitimate claims of the oppressed nationalities were declared a manifestation of petty-bourgeois nationalism. All these symptoms could be observed as early as 1922-23. Since that time they have developed monstrously and have led to outright strangulation of any kind of independent national development of the peoples of the USSR.

“In the conception of the old Bolshevik party Soviet Ukraine was destined to become a powerful axis around which the other sections of the Ukrainian people would unite. It is indisputable that in the first period of its existence Soviet Ukraine exerted a mighty attractive force, in national respects as well, and aroused to struggle the workers, peasants, and revolutionary intelligentsia of Western Ukraine enslaved by Poland. But during the years of Thermidorian reaction, the position of Soviet Ukraine and together with it the posing of the Ukrainian question as a whole changed sharply. The more profound the hopes aroused, the keener was the disillusionment. The bureaucracy strangled and plundered the people within Great Russia, too. But in the Ukraine matters were further complicated by the massacre of national hopes. Nowhere did restrictions, purges, repressions and in general all forms of bureaucratic hooliganism assume such murderous sweep as they did in the Ukraine in the struggle against the powerful, deeply-rooted longings of the Ukrainian masses for greater freedom and independence.

“To the totalitarian bureaucracy, Soviet Ukraine became an administrative division of an economic unit and a military base of the USSR. To be sure, the Stalin bureaucracy erects statues to Shevchenko but only in order more thoroughly to crush the Ukrainian people under their weight. Toward the sections of the Ukraine now outside its frontiers, the Kremlin’s attitude today is the same as it is toward all oppressed nationalities, all colonies, and semi-colonies, i.e., small change in its international combinations with imperialist governments.

“Not a trace remains of the former confidence and sympathy of the Western Ukrainian masses for the Kremlin. Since the latest murderous “purge” in the Ukraine no one in the West wants to become part of the Kremlin satrapy which continues to bear the name of Soviet Ukraine… This situation naturally shifts the leadership to the most reactionary Ukrainian cliques who express their “nationalism” by seeking to sell the Ukrainian people to one imperialism or another in return for a promise of fictitious independence. Upon this tragic confusion Hitler bases his policy in the Ukrainian question. At one time we said: but for Stalin (i.e., but for the fatal policy of the Comintern in Germany) there would have been no Hitler. To this can now be added: but for the rape of Soviet Ukraine by the Stalinist bureaucracy there would be no Hitlerite Ukrainian policy.”

(Of course genuine Trotskyists have no truck with those like the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign who very clearly fit Trotsky’s description that: “This situation naturally shifts the leadership to the most reactionary Ukrainian cliques who express their “nationalism” by seeking to sell the Ukrainian people to one imperialism or another in return for a promise of fictitious independence.” – GD)

Trotsky puts forward the slogan: for a united, free, and independent workers’ and peasants’ Soviet Ukraine.

He continues:

“Only hopeless pacifist blockheads are capable of thinking that the emancipation and unification of the Ukraine can be achieved by peaceful diplomatic means, by referendums, by decisions of the League of Nations, etc. In no way superior to them of course are those “nationalists” who propose to solve the Ukrainian question by entering the service of one imperialism against another… Insofar as the issue depends upon the military strength of the imperialist states, the victory of one grouping or another can signify only a new dismemberment and a still more brutal subjugation of the Ukrainian people. The program of independence for the Ukraine in the epoch of imperialism is directly and indissolubly bound up with the program of the proletarian revolution.”

Trotsky returned to the subject of Ukraine a few months later, to answer a sectarian socialist critic who opposed Trotsky’s demand for a free and independent Ukraine.

“The critic repeats several times my statement to the effect that the fate of an independent Ukraine is indissolubly bound up with the world proletarian revolution. From this general perspective, ABC for a Marxist, he contrives however to make a recipe of temporizing passivity and national nihilism. The triumph of the proletarian revolution on a world scale is the end-product of multiple movements, campaigns and battles, and not at all a ready-made precondition for solving all questions automatically…

“The right of national self-determination is, of course, a democratic and not a socialist principle. But genuinely democratic principles are supported and realized in our era only by the revolutionary proletariat; it is for this very reason that they interlace with socialist tasks. The resolute struggle of the Bolshevik party for the right of self-determination of oppressed nationalities in Russia facilitated in the extreme the conquest of power by the proletariat. It was as if the proletarian revolution had sucked in the democratic problems, above all, the agrarian and national problems, giving to the Russian Revolution a combined character. The proletariat was already undertaking socialist tasks but it could not immediately raise to this level the peasantry and the oppressed nations (themselves predominantly peasant) who were absorbed with solving their democratic tasks.

“…Having constructed a workers’ state on the compromise principle of a federation, the Bolshevik party wrote into the constitution the right of nations to complete separation, indicating thereby that the party did not at all consider the national question as solved once and for all…

“Do the broad masses of the Ukrainian people wish to separate from the USSR? It might at first sight appear difficult to answer this question, inasmuch as the Ukrainian people, like all other peoples of the USSR, are deprived of any opportunity to express their will. But the very genesis of the totalitarian regime and its ever more brutal intensification, especially in the Ukraine, are proof that the real will of the Ukrainian masses is irreconcilably hostile to the Soviet bureaucracy. There is no lack of evidence that one of the primary sources of this hostility is the suppression of Ukrainian independence.

“The nationalist tendencies in the Ukraine erupted violently in 1917-19. The Borotba party expressed these tendencies in the left wing. The most important indication of the success of the Leninist policy in the Ukraine was the fusion of the Ukrainian Bolshevik party with the organization of the Borotbists. In the course of the next decade, however, an actual break occurred with the Borotba group, whose leaders were subjected to persecution… Nowhere did the purges and repressions assume such a savage and mass character as they did in the Ukraine.

“Of enormous political importance is the sharp turn away from the Soviet Union of Ukrainian democratic elements outside the Soviet Union. When the Ukrainian problem became aggravated early this year, communist voices were not heard at all; but the voices of the Ukrainian clericals and National-Socialists were loud enough. This means that the proletarian vanguard has let the Ukrainian national movement slip out of its hands and that this movement has progressed far on the road of separatism…

“In their totality, these symptoms and facts incontestably testify to the growing strength of separatist tendencies among the Ukrainian masses. This is the basic fact underlying the whole problem. It shows that despite the giant step forward taken by the October Revolution in the domain of national relations, the isolated proletarian revolution in a backward country proved incapable of solving the national question, especially the Ukrainian question which is, in its very essence, international in character. The Thermidorian reaction, crowned by the Bonapartist bureaucracy, has thrown the toiling masses far back in the national sphere as well. The great masses of the Ukrainian people are dissatisfied with their national fate and wish to change it drastically. It is this fact that the revolutionary politician must, in contrast to the bureaucrat and the sectarian, take as his point of departure.”

Trotsky was assassinated by an agent of Stalin a year after he wrote this. Another year later, German imperialism launched the largest single military operation in world history, in both manpower and casualties: Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. In Ukraine, the German offensive initially won easy victories. Hitler had prepared the way politically, distributing posters of himself and the slogan, in Ukrainian language: “Hitler the Liberator.”

End of the article by James Robb

The historic national question in the more secular republics is covered in above and by comrade Robb and his extraction from Trotsky’s 1939 article. Now we must deal with WWII and what happened to Ukraine and Poland in particular in that conflict. For the Stalinists, there is no problem because the national question was solved by Stalin by simple repression, and that is how it should be solved today by Putin, as he has become a sort of a Stalin substitute for the post-1991 Stalinists. To understand the character of the “great patriotic war of the Soviet Union” fought by the USSR see the following extract from the reply by Stalin to questions submitted by the chief correspondent of the British Reuter’s agency on the formal abandonment of Stalin of the programme of world revolution:

Question: British comment on the decision to wind up the Comintern has been very favourable. What is the Soviet view of this matter and of its bearing on future international relations?

Stalin: The dissolution of the Communist International is proper and timely because it facilitates the organization of the common onslaught of all freedom-loving nations against the common enemy — Hitlerism.

The dissolution of the Communist International is proper because:

  1. a) It exposes the lie of the Hitlerites to the effect that “Moscow” allegedly intends to intervene in the life of other nations and to “bolshevize” them. An end is now being put to this lie;
  2. b) It exposes the calumny of the adversaries of Communism within the labour movement to the effect that Communist parties in various countries are allegedly acting not in the interest of their people but on orders from outside. An end is now being put to this calumny too;
  3. c) It facilitates the work of patriots in freedom-loving countries for uniting the progressive forces of their respective countries, regardless of party or religious faith, into a single camp of national liberation — for unfolding the struggle against fascism;
  4. d) It facilitates the work of patriots of all countries for uniting all freedom- loving peoples into a single international camp for the fight against the menace of the world domination by Hitlerism, thus clearing the way to the future organization of a companionship of nations based upon their equality.

I think that all these circumstances taken together will result in a further strengthening of the united front of the Allies and other united nations in their fight for victory over Hitlerite tyranny.

I feel that the dissolution of the Communist International is perfectly timely because it is exactly now when the fascist beast is exerting its last strength — that it is necessary to organize the common onslaught of the freedom-loving countries to finish off this beast and to deliver the peoples from fascist oppression.

With respect, Stalin May 28, 1943 [51]

Stalin’s bureaucracy fought WWII against the Nazis was fought as a ‘great patriotic war’ and this war was specifically against the rights of oppressed nations, it was racially anti-German, and anti-working class; all the Germans were Nazis said Stalin and no call was ever made to encourage the German working class to rise up against Hitler because their liberation was at hand. Berlin was defended by boys and girls and old people and women because they knew that the “Red Army” was coming to kill and rape them. The ‘Red Army’ either allowed the Nazis to crush workers’ uprisings or crushed them themselves to defeat attempts at socialist revolution in Eastern Europe. By far the worst example was the Warsaw uprising when the “Red Army” halted for sixty long days and its air force gave no assistance although only five minutes flying time away whilst they watched the destruction of the city and the massacre of its inhabitants without lifting a finger to assist them.

Surrender of the Warsaw Uprising resistance, 5 October 1944 – Communists and leftist combatants were immediately executed. Jewish civilians were sent to concentration camps or were mass executed by the Nazis while the Red Army looked on and offered no assistance for 60 long days. Polish Home Army was sent to POW camps.

Wikipedia reports:

Although the exact number of casualties remains unknown, it is estimated that about 16,000 members of the Polish resistance were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish civilians died, mostly from mass executions. Jews being harboured by Poles were exposed by German house-to-house clearances and mass evictions of entire neighbourhoods. German casualties totalled over 8,000 soldiers killed and missing, and 9,000 wounded. During the urban combat approximately 25% of Warsaw’s buildings were destroyed. Following the surrender of Polish forces, German troops systematically levelled another 35% of the city block by block Together with earlier damage suffered in the 1939 invasion of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, over 85% of the city was destroyed by January 1945, when the course of the events in the Eastern Front forced the Germans to abandon the city.

…The next day the Germans began to disarm the Home Army soldiers. They later sent 15,000 of them to POW camps in various parts of Germany. Between 5,000 and 6,000 resistance fighters decided to blend into the civilian population hoping to continue the fight later. The entire civilian population of Warsaw was expelled from the city and sent to a transit camp Durchgangslager in Pruszków.Out of 350,000–550,000 civilians who passed through the camp, 90,000 were sent to labour camps in the Third Reich, 60,000 were shipped to death and concentration camps (including Ravensbrück, Auschwitz, and Mauthausen, among others), while the rest were transported to various locations in the General Government and released.

The Eastern Front remained static in the Vistula sector, with the Soviets making no attempt to push forward, until the Vistula–Oder Offensive began on 12 January 1945. Almost entirely destroyed, Warsaw was liberated from the Germans on 17 January 1945 by the Red Army and the First Polish Army.[54]

This was an uprising of the Polish masses for national independence and socialism and that could not be tolerated by Stalin, who preferred to let Hitler kill them all. Following the same policy, the communist parties in the west betrayed post-War revolutionary situations in Italy and Greece and pre-revolutionary situations in France and elsewhere. Therefore to ignore the method of the Stalinists, not to counterpose the method of the real Red Army of the 1920s against the method of the armed forces of the bureaucracy, in Warsaw and Berlin in 1944-5, is to perpetuate a historical lie on the working class. Trotsky always combined revolutionary propaganda, guerrilla warfare and uprisings behind enemy lines with socialist measures in the liberated territory to win over the workers and oppressed masses. The bureaucracy could not have possibly contemplated such revolutionary methods, lest a successful revolution would ensue which would see the bureaucracy expropriated as a parasitic social cast.

Mychajlo Pavlovich Antoniw came from the region of the city of Lviv, which was an Ukrainian city occupied by Poland at the start of the war. It had previously been occupied by the Red Army in late September 1939 during the Nazi-Soviet alliance when they jointly invaded Poland and there was joint co-operation between the Soviet NKVD and the Gestapo to crush all Polish and Ukrainian resistance and jointly slaughter Trotskyists and other socialists. For Polish and Ukrainian socialists and nationalists it was very difficult to distinguish between the two in from August 1939 to July 1941. Ukrainian hopes of independence were squashed amidst the overwhelming force of the Soviets, much like in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, UPA, would continue waging a guerrilla war against the Soviets well into the 1950s. Of course this was a far-right force now, funded secretly by the CIA. But its existence was the inevitable outcome of Stalin’s policies.

Of course, despite the crimes of Stalinism outlined above, defence of the USSR and of all oppresses, colonial and semi-colonial nations was always an essential feature of Trotskyism and it remains so today. This is Trotsky’s article from September 1929 which sets out the Left Opposition position on Defence of the USSR:

Note by editor, Fourth International

The year 1929, which saw the crystallization of the Trotskyist movement on a world scale and on firm programmatic foundations, was likewise signalized by the outbreak of an internal struggle over the class character of the Soviet Union.

The event which precipitated this controversy in the Trotskyist ranks was the conflict between Moscow and Chiang Kai-shek over the disposition of the Chinese Eastern Railway. The imperialist bourgeoisie and its liberal choir-boys, of course, backed Chiang. Their hue and cry about Soviet “imperialism” found reverberations among many workers and among the still scattered ranks of the Trotskyists.

Under the pressure of bourgeois public opinion elements professing adherence to Trotskyist ideas became hesitant about defending the USSR. Since some political justification had to be provided for this act of class desertion, attempts immediately ensued to revise the Marxist appraisal of the USSR.

The bellwether of this initial attempt at neo-revisionism was Hugo Urbahns, leader of the German oppositional group “Leninbund,” who advanced in 1929 the idea that the USSR really represented a new type of state – “neither capitalist nor proletarian.”

Trotsky unhesitatingly declared war on Urbahns and his co-thinkers. In September 1929 he wrote the first in a whole series of basic documents on the crucial question of the class nature of the USSR because attempts to revise it were repeatedly made in Trotsky’s lifetime. Each time, beginning with Urbahns, Trotsky resolutely repulsed all those who simply played every possible variation on the theme originally scored by Urbahns in 1929.

Louzon, referred to in the text, was a French syndicalist, at the time one of the editors of La Revolution Proletarienne, organ of the Syndicalist League of France.

An English translation of this celebrated document, the first instalment of which appears below, was originally published in The Militant. It has been checked against the Russian original and revised by John G. Wright. – Ed. [52]

And ten years later in 1939 until his assassination by Stalin’s agent in August 1940 Trotsky never yielded on this defence, splitting with Max Shachtman and his followers, some 40% of the US SWP in 1940 on this very question. He explains

“Mistakes on the question of defence of the USSR most frequently flow from an incorrect understanding of the methods of “defence”. Defence of the USSR does not at all mean rapprochement with the Kremlin bureaucracy, the acceptance of its politics, or a conciliation with the politics of her allies. In this question, as in all others, we remain completely on the ground of the international class struggle… Only the other day Shachtman referred to himself in the press as a ‘Trotskyist’. If this be Trotskyism then I at least am no Trotskyist. With the present ideas of Shachtman, not to mention Burnham, I have nothing in common… As for their ‘organisational methods’ and political ‘morality’ I have nothing but contempt.” [53]

This is related in more detail by Socialist Fight in our In Defence of Trotskyism pamphlet IDOT 19. [54]

Bolsheviks and Women: From Liberation to Prosecution Communist University 2014, http://red-party.com/bolsheviks-and-women-from-liberation-to-prosecution/

The Republics with majority Muslim populations

Lastly, let us look at the differences between the methods of Lenin and the Bolsheviks and those of the Mensheviks and Stalin in the Soviet Republics with majority Muslim populations. The following extract from Afghanistan, Marxist Method Vs. Bureaucratic Method, By Gerry Downing 1997 tackles this question: [55]

‘The Bolsheviks viewed the extreme oppression of women as an indicator of the primitive level of the whole society, but their approach was based on materialism, not moralism. They understood that the fact that women were veiled and caged, bought and sold, was but the surface of the problem. Kalym was not some sinister plot against womankind, but the institution which was central to the organisation of production, integrally connected to land and water rights. Payment of Kalym, often by the whole clan over a long period of time, committed those involved to an elaborate system of debt, duties and loyalties which ultimately led to participation in the private armies of the local beys (landowners and wholesale merchants). All commitments were thus backed up with the threat of feuds and blood vengeance.

‘… Lenin warned against prematurely confronting respected native institutions, even when these clearly violated communist principles and Soviet law. Instead he proposed to use the Soviet state power to systematically undermine them while simultaneously demonstrating the superiority of Soviet institutions, a policy which had worked well against the powerful Russian Orthodox Church.

‘Extending this practice to Central Asia, the Soviet government waged a campaign to build the authority of the Soviet legal system and civil courts as an alternative to the traditional Muslim kadi courts and legal codes. Although the kadi courts were permitted to function, their powers were circumscribed in that they were forbidden to handle political cases or any cases in which both parties to the dispute had not agreed to use the kadi court rather than the parallel Soviet court system. As the Soviet courts became more accepted, criminal cases were eliminated from the kadis’ sphere.

Next the government invited dissatisfied parties to appeal the kadis’ decisions to a Soviet court. In this manner the Soviets earned the reputation of being partisans of the oppressed, while the kadis were exposed as defenders of the status quo. Eventually the kadis were forbidden to enforce any Muslim laws which contradicted Soviet laws. Two soviet representatives, including one member of Zhenotdel were assigned to witness all kadi proceedings and to approve their decisions. Finally when the wafks (endowment properties), which had supported the kadis, were expropriated and redistributed among the peasantry, the kadis disappeared completely.

‘This non-confrontationalist policy in no way implied capitulation to backward, repressive institutions. It was made clear that there could be no reconciliation between communism and the Koran. Although ‘Red Mullahs’ attracted by the Bolshevik programme of self-determination and land to the tillers, suggested to their followers that Islam was socialism and vice versa, the Bolsheviks insisted that Soviet and Muslim law could never be reconciled precisely on the grounds that the most basic rights of women would be sacrificed.

‘The bloody civil war that pitted the Bolshevik state against imperialist-supported counter-revolutionary forces devastated the young workers state and threatened its very survival. During this period when Bolshevik capacity to intervene in Central Asia was crippled, the crude tactics employed by their ostensibly socialist opponents fuelled anti-Soviet sentiments. In Tashkent, the railway centre of Central Asia, the governing Soviet was made up of Russian émigrés, many of them railway workers, led by Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks.

In an orgy of Russian chauvinism and self-indulgence foreshadowing to policies of Stalinism to come, they expropriated the holdings of the most respected Islamic institutions and stood the slogan ‘self- determination of the toiling masses’ on its head to justify the exclusion of native intellectuals and sympathetic Mullahs, whom they labelled ‘non- proletarian elements’. At the same time they collaborated with former white army officers. When the Tashkent soviet began arbitrarily requisitioning food from the peasants during the worst grain shortages of the civil war, Lenin intervened to stop this. But the seeds of anti-Soviet rebellion had been sown.

‘…The end of the war signalled the initiation of systematic Bolshevik work among Muslim women. In the absence of native activists, it was the most dedicated and courageous members of Zhenotdel who donned the paranja in order to meet with Muslim women and explain the new Soviet laws and programme which were to change their lives. This was an extremely dangerous assignment, as any violation of a local taboo enraged husbands, fathers and brothers to murder.

‘…Had a balanced approach of training and education complemented this liberalising agitation, these new divorcees could have become enthusiastic pioneers of agricultural collectives and proletarian reinforcements for industrialisation. But at the January 1924 Party conference, which preceded the 13th Party congress, the leadership, programme and methods of the party changed decisively.

‘In an ominous prelude to the policies of the ‘third period’ such as the forced collectivisation of agriculture, the legal offensive against traditional practices in Central Asia was stepped up until the divorce rate assumed epidemic proportions

‘…Then on 8 March 1927, in celebration of International Woman’s Day, mass meetings were held at which thousands of frenzied participants, chanting ‘down with the paranja!’ tore off their veils which were drenched in paraffin and burned. Poems were recited and plays with names such as ‘Away with the Veil’ and ‘Never again Kalym’ were performed. Zhenotdel agitators led marches of unveiled women through the streets, instigating the forced desegregation of public quarters and sanctified religious sites’

The consequences of these brutal Stalinist methods were the same in 1927, 28 and 29 as they were in Afghanistan sixty years later:

‘Women suing for divorce became the targets of murderous vigilante squads, and lynchings of party cadres annihilated the ranks of the Zhenotdel. The Party was forced to mobilise the militia, then the Komsomolsk and finally the general party membership and the Red Army to protect the women, but it refused to alter its suicidal policies. The debacle of International Woman’s Day was repeated in 1928 and 1929 with the same disastrous consequences, exacting an extremely high toll on party cadre.’

The best results against fundamentalism were achieved by women revolutionaries of the Zhenotdel using the transitional method of Bolshevism, as Dale Ross describes. The Afghan coupists (of 1978 – GD) were no revolutionaries, had no knowledge of and did not want to know about the methods of Marxist revolutionaries. They feared the consequences of utilising such tactics and were utterly opposed to them. They preferred their own bureaucratic ‘suicidal policies’, as Dale Ross says above.

Appendix 2 Lenin’s Testament:

Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest the comrades think about a way of removing Staling from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite, and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may appear to be a negligible detail. But I think that from the standpoint of safeguards against a split, and from the standpoint of what I wrote above about the relationship between Stalin and Trotsky, it is not a detail, or it is a detail which can assume decisive importance.

By the stability of the Central Committee, of which I spoke above, I mean measures against a split, as far as such measures can at all be taken. For, of course, the whiteguard in Russkaya Mys (it seems to have been S. S. Oldenburg) was right when, first, in the whiteguards’ game against Soviet Russia he banked on a split in our Party, and when, secondly, he banked on grave differences in our Party to cause that split.

Our Party relies on two classes and therefore its instability would be possible and its downfall inevitable if there were no agreement between those two classes. In that event, this or that measure, and generally all talk about the stability of our C.C., would be futile. No measures of any kind could prevent a split in such a case. But I hope that this is too remote a future and too improbable an event to talk about.

I have in mind stability as a guarantee against a split in the immediate future, and I intend to deal here with a few ideas concerning personal qualities.

I think that from this standpoint, the prime factors in the question of stability are such members of the C.C. as Stalin and Trotsky. I think relations between them make up the greater part of the danger of a split, which could be avoided, and this purpose, in my opinion, would be served, among other things, by increasing the number of C.C. members to 50 or 100.

Comrade Stalin, having become Secretary-General, has unlimited authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution. Comrade Trotsky*, on the other hand, as his struggles against the C.C. on the question of the People’s Commissariat for Communications has already proved, is distinguished not only by outstanding ability. He is personally perhaps the most capable man in the present C.C., but he has displayed excessive self-assurance and shown excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work.

These two qualities of the two outstanding leaders of the present C.C. can inadvertently lead to a split, and if our Party does not take steps to avert this, the split may come unexpectedly.

I shall not give any further appraisals of the personal qualities of other members of the C.C. I shall just recall that the October episode with Zinoviev and Kamenev was, of course, no accident, but neither can the blame for it be laid upon them personally, any more than non-Bolshevism can upon Trotsky.

Speaking of the young C.C. members, I wish to say a few words about Bukharin and Pyatakov. They are, in my opinion, the most outstanding figures (among the younger ones), and the following must be borne in mind about them: Bukharin is not only a most valuable and major theorist of the Party; he is also rightly considered the favourite of the whole Party, but his theoretical views can be classified as fully Marxist only with the great reserve, for there is something scholastic about him (he has never made a study of dialectics, and, I think, never fully appreciated it).

December 25. As for Pyatakov, he is unquestionably a man of outstanding will and outstanding ability, but shows far too much zeal for administrating and the administrative side of the work to be relied upon in a serious political matter.

Both of these remarks, of course, are made only for the present, on the assumption that both these outstanding and devoted Party workers fail to find an occasion to enhance their knowledge and amend their one-sidedness.

Lenin, 24 December 1922

*         *           *           *           *

Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest the comrades think about a way of removing Staling from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite, and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may appear to be a negligible detail. But I think that from the standpoint of safeguards against a split, and from the standpoint of what I wrote above about the relationship between Stalin and Trotsky, it is not a detail, or it is a detail which can assume decisive importance.

Lenin, 25 December 1922


[1] EU membership: It’s not just ‘about the money’ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/all-about/mick-antoniw

[2] Lenin, Works, volume 45, page 497.

[3] Lenin, Works, volume 42, page 418.

[4] Lenin, Works, volume 42, page 600.

[5] Quoted by L.A. Fotieva, Iz vospominanii o Lenine (Moscow 1964), pages 28-9.

[6] Lenin, Works, volume 45, page 601.

[7] Lenin, Works, volume 33, pages 460-1.

[8] Lenin, Works, volume 45, page 606.

[9] Tony Cliff, Trotsky: The Sword of the Revolution 1917-1923, 15. Lenin and Trotsky join forces to fight bureaucracy, https://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1990/trotsky2/15-ltbloc.html

[10] Lenin, How We Should Reorganise the Workers’’ and Peasants’ Inspection, Recommendation to the Twelfth Party Congress Lenin, Works, volume 33, (p. 481-86)

[11] Lenin, Works, volume 33, page 490.

[12] Trotsky, Stalin School of Falsification, page 72.

[13] Lenin, Works, volume 45, page 608.

[14] Whilst expressing great admiration for the “Junius pamphlet” and its attacks on the Social Democracy reformists Lenin differed only on its failure to continue to defend Poland’s right to self-determination despite the reactionary and semi-feudal character of the nationalist leadership. The principle applies even more so to Ukraine. See Lenin, The Junius Pamphlet, Works, Volume 22, pages 305-319

[15] Gerry Downing, Ireland and Palestine: the rights of oppressed nations to self-determination https://socialistfight.com/2016/01/28/ireland-and-palestine-interpenetrated-peoples-and-the-rights-of-oppressed-nations-to-self-determination/

[16] Lenin, Critical Remarks on the National Question (1913), Works, volume 20, pages 17-51.

[17] J. V. Stalin, Marxism and the National Question, https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1913/03a.htm

[18] Lenin, On the national and colonial questions (Report to the Second Congress of the Communist International, July 1920) http://www2.stetson.edu/~psteeves/classes/lenincolonial.html

[19] Marcel Liebman: Leninism under Lenin, Translated by Brian Pearse, Merlin Press 1975, Epilogue: The End of Lenin (pp 417-425), https://socialistfight.com/2016/03/04/marcel-liebman-leninism-under-lenin-epilogue-the-end-of-lenin-pp-417-425/

[20] Gus Fagan, Biographical Introduction to Christian Rakovsky, Rakovsky and the Ukraine (1919–23) https://www.marxists.org/archive/rakovsky/biog/biog3.htm

[21] Lenin, The Question of Nationalities or “Autonomisation“, Works, vol. 36, p. 605. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1922/dec/testamnt/autonomy.htm

[22] Lenin, Works, volume 29, page 194.

[23] Desiatii sezd RKP(b), pages 163-8.

[24] KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh, volume 1, page 562.

[25] Trotsky Papers, volume 2, pages 347-9.

[26] “Smena vekh” (“Change of Landmarks”), a National Bolshevik (Smenovekhovtsy) periodical. inspired by a novel by Nikolay Vasilyevich Ustryalov (November 25, 1890 – September 14, 1937) a pioneer of Russian National Bolshevism, popular with some White Russians. He was increasing inspired by Stalin, seeing the USSR under him as a radish, red on the outside and white inside. He was shot in the great purges in 1937.

[27] Odinnadtsatii sezd RKP(b), pages 72-5.

[28] Vladimir Lenin, On the Intelligentsia, Progress Publishers, 1983, pp. 297-298

[29] MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Events, Georgian Affair-1921, https://www.marxists.org/glossary/events/g/e.htm

[30] Lenin, Works, volume 36, pages 605-6.

[31] Lenin, Works, volume 36, pages 610-11.

[32] Lenin, Works, volume 42, pages 602-3.

[33] R. Pipes, The Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism, 1917-1923 (Cambridge 1964), page 271.

[34] Lenin, Works, volume 42, pages 421-3.

[35] P.N. Pospelov and others, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin: Biografiia (Moscow 1963), page 611.

[36] Trotsky, Stalin School of Falsification, pages 66-7.

[37] Lenin, Works, volume 33, page 372

[38] Tony Cliff, Trotsky: The Sword of the Revolution 1917-1923, opus cit.

[39] Lenin, Works, volume 45, pages 607-608.

[40] Leon Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, translated by Max Eastman, Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2008, p. 209

[41] See Marcel Liebman, Leninism under Lenin, London, J. Cape, 1975, ISBN 978-0-224-01072-6 p.123

[42] See E. H. Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution, London, Macmillan Publishers, 1950, vol. 1, p. 75.

[43] Ibid., V01. 45, p. 607.

[44] See p. 423.

[45] Ibid., V01. 45, pp. 607-8.

[46] Lewin, p. 98

[47] Deutscher, Prophet Unarmed, p. 90.

[48] Marcel Liebman: Leninism under Lenin, https://socialistfight.com/2016/03/04/marcel-liebman-leninism-under-lenin-epilogue-the-end-of-lenin-pp-417-425/

[49] James Robb, A Communist at Large March 13, 2014, Trotsky and Ukrainian independence https://convincingreasons.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/trotsky-and-ukrainian-independence/

[50] Trotsky, The Problem of the Ukraine, (April 1939) https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1939/04/ukraine2.htm

[51] J. V. Stalin, On the great patriotic war of the Soviet Union, http://www.marx2mao.com/Stalin/GPW46.html

[52] Trotsky, The Defense of the Soviet Union and the Opposition (September 1929), https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1929/09/fi-b.htm

[53] Trotsky, April 1940, A Petty-Bourgeois Moralists and the Proletarian Party. In Defense of Marxism, (1939/1940), https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/idom/dm/

[54] IDOT No.19, If this be Trotskyism I at least am no Trotskyist. http://www.scribd.com/doc/295302679/Third-Campism-If-this-be-Trotskyism-then-I-at-least-am-no-Trotskyist

[55] Gerry Downing 1997 Afghanistan, Marxist Method Vs. Bureaucratic Method, It quotes from the International Communist League’s Women and Revolution No 12, summer 1976 Early Bolshevik Work Among Women of the Soviet East by Dale Ross, the first and by far the best editor of that magazine when it was still relatively independent from ICL leader James Robertson, http://www.icl-fi.org/english/womendrev/oldsite/BOL-EAST.HTM. https://socialistfight.com/2014/08/15/afghanistan-marxist-method-vs-bureaucratic-method-by-gerry-downing-1997/


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