19/01/2019 by socialistfight
Jack Conrad at the Communist University 2012 – Is that a halo?
Comrade Jack mentions Stalin’s Short Course and complains that Stalin also spread these lies about Kamenev and Zinoviev.
“It is more than ironic then, that with the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) – short course (1939), we find Stalin – widely accepted as the main author of this notorious work of truths, half-truths and downright lies – pirating Trotsky’s account of 1917.”
He wasn’t “pirating Trotsky’s account of 1917”, he was telling the truth because it suited his purpose; he was justifying executing them both in August 1936. And Stalin did tell the truth when convenient. Stalin summarised Trotsky’s role in 1917 in Pravda, on 6 November 1918. In 1934, before he had consolidated his bloody totalitarian regime with the Great Purges which begun with his assassination of Kirov in December, this quote was still there in his book The October Revolution. However, it did not appear in Stalin’s Works of 1949, of course. He wrote:
“All the work of practical organisation of the insurrection was conducted under the immediate leadership of the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, Trotsky. It is possible to declare with certainty that the swift passing of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the bold execution of the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee the party owes principally and above all to Comrade Trotsky.”
Because Trotsky had been elected Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet on 8 October, signifying the victory of the Bolsheviks over the Mensheviks and all other opponents, the post he had held in 1905, only he had the authority to lead the practical work of the insurrection, a fact Stalin was forced to admit in 1918 but lied about in 1936. His Short Course tells an entirely different, completely distorted account of these great events:
“On October 16 an enlarged meeting of the Central Committee of the Party was held. This meeting elected a Party Centre, headed by Comrade Stalin, to direct the uprising. This Party Centre was the leading core of the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet and had practical direction of the whole uprising.”
EH Carr, in his Bolshevik Revolution, Part 1. pp 106-7, does record the formation of this centre, consisting of five leading Bolsheviks, ‘Sverdlov, Stalin, Bubnov, Uritsky, and Dzerzhinsky which was to form part of the military-revolutionary committee of the Petrograd Soviet (led by Trotsky, GD) … contemporary records make no further mention of the centre … and, like the ‘politburo’ appointed a week earlier (on 10 October, GD) never seems to have come into existence.’ So much for Stalin leading the revolution.
The short course was drafted by Vilhelms Knoriņš, Yemelyan Yaroslavsky and Pyotr Pospelov, beginning in 1935. The unfortunate Latvian Knoriņš was arrested in the Great Purges and executed on 29 July 1938. The other two, now joined by Vyacheslav Molotov, had already got the message and wrote what Stalin told them, and each new edition had changes to damn those executed in the meantime, who had been praised in the previous edition.
Curiously Comrade Jack then gives an accurate account of these events and asserts that it must be lies because Stalin said so. But it the truth and the account of hundreds including Lenin, John Reed, Tony Cliff, EH Carr, Trotsky and … Stalin. He tells us “When it comes to 1917 the Short course is a palimpsest of Lessons of October.” And don’t’ you like that the bit where he says, “the letter immediately fell into the hands (my emphasis – GD) of Novaya Zhizn (a daily paper associated with the left-wing writer, Maxim Gorky).” What had happened then? Zinoviev was walking out of a meeting; the document fell out of his pocket and a Gorky agent happened upon it? Lenin said that this was strike breaking and treason, they had handed it over in a bid to stop the insurrection. And then his extended pean in defence of Kamenev and Zinoviev, who were only a bit cautious and careless as Comrade Jack tells is, in seeking to defend the ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’, which Lenin had consigned to the dustbin of history.
But Comrade Jack is still trying to revive it. Lenin “had failed to fully grasp the actual state of play in Russia” because of exile in Switzerland apparently. All that Lenin had failed to grasp was details about tactical consideration, he had a totally opposed strategy to the rightists. The Letters on Tactics should really be called Letters on Strategy, a differentiation the Bolsheviks were later to emphasise strongly in the debates on the United Front in the first four congresses of the Comintern. Comrade Jack writes:
“But then we find, soon afterwards, Lenin and Kamenev joining together in opposing the leftist slogan of ‘Down with the provisional government’, as raised by the Petrograd committee of the RSDLP (a continuation of the crude politics of the Alexander Shliapnikov and Vyacheslav Molotov type). Circumstances were not yet ripe for the overthrow of the Provisional government in April-May 1917. Hence, together with Kamenev, Lenin insisted that the “correct slogan” was “Long live the soviet of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies”
Alexander Shliapnikov (on left) with Leonid Krasin in 1924
But clearly, Comrade Jack is using the TACTICAL mistakes of Shliapnikov and Molotov heer in calling for the immediate overthrow of the Provisional government as a cover for rejecting the importance of adopting just that STRATEGIC perspective for the Bolsheviks, which Lenin’s April Theses succeeded in doing so well.
And what are we to make of Comrade Jack’s charge of the “politically limited abilities of Alexander Shliapnikov and Vyacheslav Molotov” editors of Pravda ousted by Kamenev, Stalin, and M. K. Muranov mid-March. Pravda under Shliapnikov and Molotov was with Lenin and absolutely anti-war and for the overthrow of the Provisional government. The line was immediately changed to support for the war and the Provisional government. The same Molotov was very useful to Stalin later because he and Shliapnikov had championed Lenin’s line (as they understood it). This gave a measure of continuity to the degenerate Stalinised bureaucracy, despite Molotov’s later appalling personal and political degeneration. He died in his bed an old man because of his great flexibility. Here he is on the Hitler-Stalin pact of August 1939 on 31 October:
“In any case, under the ‘ideological’ flag there has now been started a war of even greater dimensions and fraught with even greater danger for the peoples of Europe and of the whole world. But there is absolutely no justification for a war of this kind. One may accept or reject the ideology of Hitlerism as well as any other ideological system, that is a matter of political views. But everybody should understand that an ideology cannot be destroyed by force, that it cannot be eliminated by war. It is, therefore, not only senseless but criminal to wage such a war as a war for the ‘destruction of Hitlerism’ camouflaged as a fight for ‘democracy’.”
In fact, this confusion of strategy and tactics has led Comrade Jack to a defence of the ‘treason’ of Kamenev and Zinoviev in October in a manner that questions the wisdom of the October Revolution itself. If they had such a good case before April and in October does it not follow that the leaders of the revolution, Lenin and Trotsky, were just audacious; Zinoviev and Kamenev just cautious. Often it is better to be cautious rather than audacious. The Lenin of April 1905 was seemingly correct against the April Theses Lenin of 1917; to attempt the socialist revolution in Russia was foolish. Lenin wrote in 1905 in defence of The Revolutionary-Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the Peasantry:
“By participating in the provisional government, we are told, Social-Democracy would have the power in its hands; but as the party of the proletariat, Social-Democracy cannot hold the power without attempting to put our maximum programme into effect, i.e., without attempting to bring about the socialist revolution. In such an undertaking it would, at the present time, inevitably come to grief, discredit itself, and play into the hands of the reactionaries. Hence, participation by Social-Democrats in a provisional revolutionary government is inadmissible. This argument is based on a misconception; it confounds the democratic revolution with the socialist revolution, the struggle for the republic (including our entire minimum programme) with the struggle for socialism.”
But between 1905 and 1917 came Bukharin’s 1915 Imperialism and World Economy, to which Lenin wrote the very profound foreword and his own Imperialism, the highest state of capitalism in 1916. It was now to a world-wide socialist revolution and a worldwide class consciousness of all workers that Lenin turned resolutely.
But the Russian Revolution was a big mistake apparently, Lenin should not have changed his mind and lashed up with that scoundrel Trotsky. Only a bourgeois revolution was ever possible in Russia back then and subsequent events have proved this correct. QED – Comrade Jack Conrad. Strangely my old WRP comrade Cliff Slaughter has now come to the same conclusion under the tutelage of István Mészáros. He even deliberately misquotes Trotsky to prove this. Strange bedfellows indeed!
See A political obituary to Cliff Slaughter as a Trotskyist,