Written: Spring 1933.
Source: The Militant, Vol. VI No. 31, 17 June 1933, p. 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2015. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.
In the past year a new bit of gossip emanating from Moscow was put into circulation Lenin declared Trotsky to be a “Judas.” When? Where? Why? At first, the European Stalinists were a little disturbed about telling this filthy rot to the face of the advanced workers. But when the defeat of the German proletariat entered another crime, the most terrible of all, into the inventory of the exploits of the Staliinst bureaucracy, they had to take recourse in very stiff measures. They now began to circulate the gossip about a “Judas” with increasing frequency.
What is it based upon? Two years before the war, in one of the moments of the accentuation of the emigrant struggle, Lenin angrily called Trotsky a “yudushka” in a note which he wrote. Whoever is even slightly acquainted with Russian literature knows that “Yudushka” (Golovlev) is a literary type, the hero of the Russian satirist Saltykov-Shtshedrin. In the emigrant struggle of those days one could find in almost every polemical article “digs” borrowed from Saltykov. In the case before us, it was not even an article, but a note written in a moment of anger. At all events, Yudushka Golovlev has no relation at all to the Judas of the Evangels.
In connection with the unavoidable exaggerations in the polemical letters of Lenin, Stalin taking up the defense of the attitudes of Zinoviev-Kamenev in October 1917, wrote in 1924:
“Lenin sometimes deliberately runs ahead in his letters, pushes into the foreground such possible mistakes as may be made, and criticizes them in advance with the aim of warning the party and insuring it against mistakes, or else he sometimes puffs up trifles and makes ‘an elephant out of a gnat’ towards the same pedagogical aim ... To draw from such letters of Lenin (and there are not a few of such letters by him) a conclusion about ‘tragic’ differences of opinion, and to make a big to-do about it, means not to understand Lenin’s letters, not to know Lenin.” (Trotskyism or Leninism? – 1924)
These deductions of Stalin, which stand up very badly as a justification for the conduct of Zinoviev-Kamenev in October 1917 – it was not a question of a “trifle”’ at that time, nor a “gnat” – can nevertheless be completely applied to that third-rate episode which produced Lenin’s note from exile on Yudushka Golovlev.
That Lenin had violent encounters with Trotsky in the years of emigration, is known to everyone. But all that was a number of years before the October revolution, the civil war, the upbuilding of the Soviet state and the founding of the Communist International. The true relations between Lenin and Trotsky are, it would appear, set down in later and more authoritative documents than that of a note resulting from a conflict in the emigration. What do the professional calumniators want to say when they throw the comparison with “Judas” into the debate: that Lenin did not trust Trotsky politically? Or that he did not trust him morally? Out of hundreds of utterances of Lenin, we cite two or three.
On November 1, 1917, Lenin said at a session of the Petrograd party committee:
“I cannot even speak seriously about it. Trotsky has long said that the unification (with the Mensheviks) is impossible. Trotsky has grasped this and since then there has not been a better Bolshevik.”
In the days of the civil war, when Trotsky by himself had to make decisions of extraordinary scope, Lenin, on his own initiative, handed him a blank sheet of paper with the following inscription at the bottom:
“Comrades! I know the rigorous character of the orders of comrade Trotsky, but I am so convinced, convinced to such an absolute degree of the correctness, the expediency and the necessity of the order issued by comrade Trotsky in the interest of the cause, that I completely support the order – V. Ulianov-Lenin”
If the first of the two declarations cited above gives a clear enough political evaluation, the second one reveals the degree of moral confidence. It is hardly necessary to quote the dozens of citations from the articles and speeches of Lenin where he expresses his attitude toward Trotsky, or to reproduce here once more the correspondence of Lenin-Trotsky on the national question or on the question of the foreign trade monopoly. We will confine ourselves only to recalling that letter which N.K. Krupskaia, Lenin’s companion for so many years, addressed to Trotsky a few days after Lenin’s death:
“Dear Lev Davidovitch: I am writing to tell you how Vladmir Illitch, about a month before his death, stopped, in reading through your book, at the passage where you gave a characterization of Marx and Lenin, and he asked me to read the passage to him, how attentively he listened and then how he himself read it over again. And there is another thing I want to tell you: the feelings which Lenin conceived for you when you came to us in London from Siberia, had not change to his dying day. I wish you, Lev Davidovitch, strength and health, and I embrace you warmly. – N. Krupskaia”
The overzealous agents of Stalin would have acted more prudently had they not raised the question of moral confidence. Already ill, Lenin urged Trotsky not to come to an agreement with Stalin: “Stalin will make a rotten compromise and then he will deceive.” In his Testament, Lenin urged the removal of Stalin from his post as general secretary, giving as his motivation the disloyalty of Stalin. Finally, the last document dictated by Lenin the day before his second attack, was his letter to Stalin in which he broke off “all personal and comradely relations” with him.
Will this perhaps suffice, Messrs. Calumniators?
Last updated on: 3 September 2015