Written: Early 1935.
First Published: New Militant [New York], Vol. I No. 26, 15 June 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up: 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 recent months, the Kremlin has set about – with enviable zeal! – to revise the history of the Red Army. The aim of this revision is to demonstrate, if not in form then in content, that Trotsky fought in the camp of the White Guards against the Soviets. We are not exaggerating. Trotsky, they aver, introduced “nests of white guards” into the Red Army at the Eastern Front, who would unfailingly have ruined the cause of the revolution if Stalin had not intervened in the nick of time and cleansed the army of Trotsky’s agents. At the same time Trotsky shot communists, who fought courageously in the ranks of the Red Army, and the affair would inevitably have ended in catastrophe if once again it had not been for the salutary intervention of Stalin, who personally prefers to shoot Communists in peace time.
These exceedingly interesting and in a manner of speaking, “sensational” revelations raise several questions.
First: Why are these revelations so belated? Is it because the young soviet savants have dug up a number of unexpected discoveries from the archives or because a new generation has grown up which knows nothing of the past?
Secondly: What relation have these recent revelations with previous ones? At the close of 1923 they accused Trotsky of underestimating the peasantry and of favoring the “permanent revolution.” Now, they declare that since 1917 Trotsky was in reality an agent of the Whites in the Red Army, which was created by Stalin. Then why have they dinned into the ears of all humanity over a period of years about “under-estimation of the peasantry” and other trash of the same gender, if it concerned not a revolutionist but a counter-revolutionist?
Thirdly: Why did the Bolshevik Party for seven years (1918–1925) keep at the head of the Red Army a man who might have destroyed it and not nominate Stalin who created it? It is impossible to explain that only by the well-known modesty of Stalin, for what was involved here was the life and death of the revolution. It is also impossible to speak of the sparsity of information in the party: Stalin knew what he was doing when he cleansed the Red Army of the counter-revolutionary nests introduced in it by Trotsky and when he stopped the execution of communists, which right he reserves exclusively for himself. And since Stalin could not have acted without the authority of the Political Bureau, this also means that the Political Bureau was informed of the affair.
Certainly the Political Bureau of that time was composed in its majority of counter-revolutionists or of candidates for the counter-revolution (Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev). But Lenin? Let us grant that he was a bad judge of things and people (his “testament” allows us to come to such a conclusion). But Stalin himself? Why did he not pose before the Central Committee and before the Party the question of the insidious work of Trotsky in the Red Army at the time of civil war?
The Red Soldier who knows how to read and to reflect, in remarking the old pamphlets or magazines, must say to himself:
“For seven years Trotsky was at the head of the Red Army and the Red Fleet. They named him the leader of the armed forces of the Soviet Republic. Trotsky received the oath of the Red Soldiers. He has shown himself to be a traitor. His criminal acts caused hundreds of thousands of superfluous victims. Who has deceived us? The Political Bureau with Lenin at its head. That is to say, there sat in the Political Bureau traitors and men who shielded traitors. But perhaps they will deceive me again? They speak to me of the treachery of Trotsky only ten years after his retirement. And when will they speak to me of the treachery of Stalin and Voroshilov? Who can one believe?”
That is what the young reflective Red Soldier would say. The old soldier who knows from experience what is involved would arrive at about the following conclusion:
“When they accused Trotsky of ‘under-estimating the peasantry’ I thought it might probably be true: the question was complex and difficult to figure out. But when they tell me that Trotsky introduced nests of white guards in the Red Army then I say squarely: the present leaders are lying! And if they lie so impudently on the civil war, then truly they also lie on the matter of the ‘under-estimation’ of the peasantry.”
The result of the new campaign of sensational revelations can only be the following: ruining confidence in the leadership, in the old and the new, in all leadership.
One has then to ask oneself: why then does the Stalinist clique find it necessary at the present time – 1935 – to embark on such double-edged revelations, which at least, are 50 percent self-revelations? Trotskyism was killed in 1925, then killed again in 1927, irrevocably killed in 1928 (deportation of Trotsky to Alma Ata). The “last remains” of the “miserable debris” were once again exterminated after Trotsky’s expulsion from the country where he was conclusively “unmasked” as an agent of imperialism. It seems that it would be time to pass to the order of the day. But no, messieurs, the leaders cannot remain at peace: they find it necessary to wrack their brain: would it be possible to invent something else, stronger, more powerful, more poisoned, which will really and truly kill this Trotskyism that has already been killed at least seven times.
Last updated on: 28 July 2015