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Natalia Sedova Trotsky

Natalia Sedova Trotsky

A Letter from Natalia

(23 September 1944)

Written: 23 September 1944.
Source: SWP Internal Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 9, October 1944, pp. 24–25.
Source: Mike Pearn.
Online Version: Natalia Sedova Internet Archive, May 2020.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

September 23, 1944

Dear Friends,

From your reply I conclude that my letter was written far too generally, I shall try to concretize it.

I do not propose that we take off the slogan “defense of the USSR” but I find that it must be pushed back to the second or third rank. In the process of war and especially of victories its content has sharply altered. It is necessary to lay this bare tirelessly.

The slogan of the defense of the USSR comprised in it a two-fold aims a) the struggle with the internal enemy Stalin’s regime; and b) the struggle against foreign intervention. The final goal of the defense of the USSR is the world revolution.

“I consider that the main source of the dangers for the USSR in the present international situation is Stalin and the oligarchy headed by him. The struggle against them in the eyes of public opinion is indivisibly connected for me with the defense of the USSR.” (L.D.’s article on Stalin after the Finnish experience)

The unconditional defense of the USSR was always for us a factor of a merciless struggle against the Bonapartist bureaucracy right up to its overthrow and the reestablishment of Soviet democracy.

The military triumphs have strengthened the position of the Soviet bureaucracy (the internal enemy); reaction is growing – from this it is necessary to draw the conclusion with regard to the slogan of the defense of the USSR. You write that it is necessary to take our starting point from that which is; base ourselves on facts. Absolutely correct. But after all this means that the slogan of the military defense of the USSR withdraws to the background in the face of new events.

The Soviet land stands on the threshold of revolution or counter-revolution. To carry through the counter-revolution under the conditions of encirclement by the revolutionary ferment in Europe is as difficult as to intrench the basic conquests of the October revolution in the reactionary encirclement of the Stalinist regime. When you underscore in your letter the meaning of that which is and the facts on which one must base oneself in his judgements – you apparently have in mind the still unliquidated nationalized sector of property and planned economy. But after all it is impermissible to analyze this most important fact outside of the general present Soviet conditions which would not have failed to find their reflection also in this fact. The nationalization which was carried out in the epoch of revolution had as its goals the equality and raising of the living standards of the masses. In the conditions of advancing reaction and in the hands of the Bonapartist bureaucracy it has still been preserved, but has moved away from its initial task (as has the Red Army). The Bonapartist bureaucracy has used the greatest conquests of the revolution for its own personal interests. In addition to facts it is necessary to take into account the tendency of the development of this or that political phenomenon. Without such an accounting it is impossible to lead, or to prepare or to carry on propaganda, or to sketch out perspectives etc., etc. In the pre-October epoch the Mensheviks, basing themselves on facts, predicted the crushing of the October revolution, assigning to it a two week period of existence. The Bolsheviks basing themselves on facts conducted a confident agitation for the overturn. How is it then? The evolution of the tendencies of political events must take into account, analyze, discuss from different standpoints right up to sharp polemics, right up to differences of opinion – in this consists the living creative work of the organization, its preparation for the impending events; otherwise it is doomed to inaction.

The Soviet bureaucracy, the most reactionary in the world is pushing planned economy not in the direction of socialism but of capitalism. With the termination of the war the question of planned economy will be posed in all its sharpness. There is ripening a clash of planned economy with the Bonapartist bureaucracy which has strengthened its positions by the victories. The contradictions may become unbearable and the break with planned economy can confront the bureaucracy as a vital necessity. Socialism or the restoration of capitalism? This most important problem of the USSR must be put in the center of our attention. A mortal danger is threatening the Soviet land, and the source of this danger is the Soviet bureaucracy (the internal enemy). The war is not ended; the external enemy still exists. But at the beginning of the war we viewed it as the most dangerous one and the struggle against the bureaucratic regime ceded its place to the military struggle; at the present time matters must be put just the other way. It is necessary to explain this to the Soviet workers as well as to the workers of the whole world. We must with all the necessary clarity warn them about the threatening danger to the first workers’ state.

Military victories of the Red Army cannot assure the overthrow of the Stalinist bureaucracy; military defense does not lead to the revolutionary struggle against the Stalinist regime. The military defense of the USSR in the present world situation has become transformed into the problem of struggle against Stalinism.

A few words about Soviet literature. In your opinion it does not reflect Soviet reality – this is correct but not entirely, not wholly but only to a certain degree. And this certain degree must be taken into account. The war propaganda could not have failed to have its effect on the Soviet masses. The war, what was lived through – not only the sufferings but also the experience – has taught Soviet citizens a great deal. They are feeling more confident of themselves, more independent, more demanding and this has already found its expression in the local correspondence in Izvestia and Pravda despite the bureaucratic vise and “command.” But this is not all. In the same papers also is reflected the watchfulness and alarm of the bureaucracy in this connection and it is already issuing out calls for the restoration of order.

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