1924:Stalin on Trotsky's internationalist concept of "permanent revolution"
1930:Trotsky defends idea of "permanent revolution" from Stalin attack


1924:Joseph Stalin =
From "The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists"
in Leninism by Joseph Stalin

The Internal and External Setting for the October Revolution

Three circumstances of an external nature determined the comparative ease with which the proletarian revolution in Russia succeeded in breaking the chains of imperialism and thus overthrowing the rule of the bourgeoisie.

First: The circumstance that the October Revolution began in a period of desperate struggle between the two principal imperialist groups, the Anglo-French and the Austro-German [ID]; at a time when, engaged in mortal struggle between themselves, these two groups had neither the time nor the means to devote serious attention to the struggle against the October Revolution. This circumstance was of tremendous importance for the October Revolution, for it enabled it to take advantage of the fierce conflict within the imperialist world to strengthen and organize its own forces.

Second: The circumstance that the October Revolution began during the imperialist war, at a time when the laboring masses, exhausted by the war and thirsting for peace, were, by the very logic of events, led to the proletarian revolution as the only way out of the war. This circumstance was of extreme importance for the October Revolution, for it put into its hands the mighty weapon of peace, furnished the opportunity of connecting the Soviet revolution with the ending of the hated war, and thus created mass sympathy for it both in the West, among the workers, and in the East, among the oppressed peoples [ID].

Third: The existence of a powerful working-class movement in Europe and the fact that a revolutionary crisis was maturing in the West and in the East, brought on by the protracted imperialist war. This circumstance was of inestimable importance for the revolution in Russia, for it secured the revolution faithful allies outside Russia in its struggle against world imperialism [EG].

But in addition to circumstances of an external nature, there were also a number of favorable internal conditions which facilitated the victory of the October Revolution.

The following conditions must be regarded as the principal ones:

First: The October Revolution enjoyed the most active support of the overwhelming majority of the working class in Russia.

Second: It enjoyed the undoubted support of the poor peasants and of the majority of the soldiers, who were thirsting for peace and land.

Third: It had at its head, as its guiding force, a party so tried and tested as the Bolshevik Party, strong not only by reason of its experience and years of discipline, but also by reasons of its vast connections with the laboring masses.

Fourth: The October Revolution was confronted by enemies who were comparatively easy to overcome, such as the rather weak Russian bourgeoisie, a landlord class which was utterly demoralized by peasant "revolts," and the compromising parties (the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries), which had become utterly bankrupt during the war.

Fifth: It had at its disposal the vast expanses of the young state, in which it was able to maneuver freely, retreat when circumstances so required, enjoy a respite, gather strength, etc.

Sixth: In its struggle against counter-revolution, the October Revolution could count upon sufficient resources of food, fuel and raw materials within the country.

The combination of these external and internal circumstances created that peculiar situation which determined the comparative ease with which the October Revolution won its victory.

This does not mean, of course, that there were no unfavorable features in the external and internal setting of the October Revolution. Think of such an unfavorable feature as, for example, the isolation, to some extent, of the October Revolution, the absence near it, or bordering on it, of a Soviet country on which it could rely for support. Undoubtedly, the future revolution, for example, in Germany, will be in a much more favorable situation in this respect, for it has in close proximity so powerful a Soviet country as our Soviet Union. I might also mention so unfavorable a feature of the October Revolution as the absence of a proletarian majority within the country.

But these unfavorable features only emphasize the tremendous importance of the peculiar external and internal conditions of the October Revolution of which I have spoken above. . . .

two peculiar features of the October revolution —
or the October revolution and trotsky's theory of permanent revolution

There are two peculiar features of the October Revolution which must be understood first of all if we are to comprehend the inner meaning and the historical significance of that revolution.

What are these peculiar features?

First, the fact that the dictatorship of the proletariat was born in our country as a power which came into existence on the basis of an alliance between the proletariat and the laboring masses of the peasantry, the latter being led by the proletariat. Second, the fact that the dictatorship of the proletariat became established in our country as a result of the victory of socialism in one country — a country with capitalism still little developed—while capitalism was preserved in other countries more highly developed in the capitalist sense. This does not mean, of course, that the October Revolution has no other peculiar features. But it is these two peculiar features that are important for us at the present moment, not only because they distinctly express the essence of the October Revolution, but also because they fully reveal the opportunist nature of the theory of "permanent revolution."

Let us briefly examine these peculiar features.

The problem of the laboring masses of the petty bourgeoisie, both urban and rural, the problem of winning these masses to the side of the proletariat, is of exceptional importance for the proletarian revolution. Whom will the laboring people of town and country support in the struggle for power, the bourgeoisie or the proletariat; whose reserve will they become, the reserve of the bourgeoisie or the reserve of the proletariat—on this depend the fate of the revolution and the stability of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The revolutions in France in 1848 and 1871 came to grief chiefly because the peasant reserves proved to be on the side of the bourgeoisie. The October Revolution was victorious because it was able to deprive the bourgeoisie of its peasant reserves, because it was able to win these reserves to the side of the proletariat, and because in this revolution the proletariat proved to be the only guiding force for the vast masses of the laboring people of town and country.

He who has not understood this will never comprehend the character of the October Revolution, or the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat, or the peculiar characteristics of the internal policy of our proletarian power.

The dictatorship of the proletariat is not simply a governing upper stratum "skillfully" "selected" by the careful hand of an "experienced strategist," and "judiciously relying" on the support of one section or another of the population. The dictatorship of the proletariat is a class alliance between the proletariat and the laboring masses of the peasantry for the purpose of overthrowing capital, for achieving the final victory of socialism, on the condition that the guiding force of this alliance is the proletariat.

Thus, it is not a question of "slightly" underestimating or "slightly" overestimating the revolutionary potentialities of the peasant movement, as certain diplomatic advocates of "permanent revolution" are now fond of expressing it. It is a question of the nature of the new proletarian state which arose as a result of the October Revolution. It is a question of the character of the proletarian power, of the foundations of the dictatorship of the proletariat itself.

The dictatorship of the proletariat [says Lenin] is a special form of class alliance between the proletariat, the vanguard of the toilers, and the numerous non-proletarian strata of toilers (the petty bourgeoisie, the small proprietors, the peasantry, the intelligentsia, etc.), or the majority of these; it is an alliance against capital, an alliance aiming at the complete overthrow of capital, at the complete suppression of the resistance of the bourgeoisie and of any attempt on their part at restoration, an alliance aiming at the final establishment and consolidation of socialism. (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Russian ed., Vol. XXIV, p. 311.)

And further on:

If we translate the Latin, scientific, historical-philosophical term "dictatorship of the proletariat" into more simple language, it means just the following: Only a definite class, namely, that of the urban workers and industrial workers in general, is able to lead the whole mass of the toilers and exploited in the struggle for the overthrow of the yoke of capital, in the process of this overthrow, in the struggle to maintain and consolidate the victory, in the work of creating the new, socialist social system, in the whole struggle for the complete abolition of classes. (V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. DC, p. 432.)

Such is the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat given by Lenin.

One of the peculiar features of the October Revolution is the fact that this revolution represents the classic application of Lenin's theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Some believe that this theory is a purely "Russian" theory, applicable only to Russian conditions. That is wrong. It is absolutely wrong. In speaking of the laboring masses of the non-proletarian classes which are led by the proletariat, Lenin has in mind not only the Russian peasants, but also the laboring elements of the border regions of the Soviet Union, which until recently were colonies of Russia. Lenin constantly reiterated that without an alliance with these masses of other nationalities the proletariat of Russia could not achieve victory. In his articles on the national problem and in his speeches at the congresses of the Communist International, Lenin repeatedly said that the victory of the world revolution was impossible without a revolutionary alliance, a revolutionary bloc, between the proletariat of the advanced countries and the oppressed peoples of the enslaved colonies. But what are colonies if not the oppressed laboring masses, and, primarily, the laboring masses of the peasantry? Who does not know that the question of emancipating the colonies is essentially a question of emancipating the laboring masses of the non-proletarian classes from the oppression and exploitation of finance capital?

But from this it follows that Lenin's theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat is not a purely "Russian" theory, but a theory which applies to all countries. Bolshevism is not only a Russian phenomenon. "Bolshevism," says Lenin, is "a model of tactics for all." (V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VII, p. 183.)

Such are the characteristics of the first peculiar feature of the October Revolution.

How do matters stand with regard to Trotsky's theory of "permanent revolution" in the light of this peculiar feature of the October Revolution? . . .

Let us take Trotsky's "Preface" to his book The Year 1905, written in 1922. Here is what Trotsky says in this "Preface" concerning "permanent revolution":

It was precisely during the interval between January 9 [ID] and the general strike of October 1905 [ID] that the views on the character of the revolutionary development of Russia which came to be known as the theory of "permanent revolution" crystallized in the author's mind. This abstruse term represented the idea that the Russian revolution, whose immediate objectives were bourgeois in nature, would not, however, stop when these objectives had been achieved. The revolution would not be able to solve its immediate bourgeois problems except by placing the proletariat in power. And the latter, upon assuming power, would not be able to confine itself to the bourgeois limits of the revolution. On the contrary, precisely in order to ensure its victory, the proletarian vanguard would be forced in the very early stages of its rule to make deep inroads not only into feudal property but into bourgeois property as well. In this it would come into hostile collision not only with all the bourgeois groupings which supported the proletariat during the first stages of its revolutionary struggle, but also with the broad masses of the peasants who had been instrumental in bringing it into power. The contradictions in the position of a workers' government in a backward country with an overwhelming majority of peasants can be solved only on an international scale, in the arena of world proletarian revolution. (My italics.—J.S.)

This is what Trotsky says about his "permanent revolution." One need only compare this quotation with the above quotations from Lenin's works on the dictatorship of the proletariat to perceive the great chasm that lies between Lenin's theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat and Trotsky's theory of "permanent revolution."

Lenin speaks of the alliance between the proletariat and the laboring strata of the peasantry as the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Trotsky sees a "hostile collision" between "the proletarian vanguard" and "the broad masses of the peasants."

Lenin speaks of the leadership of the toiling and exploited masses by the proletariat. Trotsky sees "contradictions in the position of a workers' government in a backward country with an overwhelming majority of peasants."

According to Lenin, the revolution draws its strength primarily from among the workers and peasants of Russia itself. According to Trotsky, the necessary strength can be found only "in the arena of the world proletarian revolution."

But what if the world revolution is fated to arrive with some delay? Is there any ray of hope for our revolution? Trotsky sees no ray of hope, for "the contradictions in the position of a workers' government . . . can be solved only ... in the arena of the world proletarian revolution." According to this plan, there is but one prospect left for our revolution: to vegetate in its own contradictions and rot away while waiting for the world revolution. . . .

"Permanent revolution" is not a mere underestimation of the revolutionary potentialities of the peasant movement. "Permanent revolution" is an underestimation of the peasant movement which leads to the repudiation of Lenin's theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. . . .

This is how matters stand with regard to the first peculiar feature of the October Revolution.

What are the characteristics of the second peculiar feature of the October Revolution?

In his study of imperialism [ID], especially in the period of the war, Lenin arrived at the law of the uneven, spasmodic economic and political development of the capitalist countries. According to this law, the development of enterprises, trusts, branches of industry and individual countries proceeds not evenly—not according to an established order of rotation, not in such a way that one trust, one branch of industry or one country is always in advance of the others, while other trusts or countries keep regularly one behind the other—but spasmodically, with interruptions in the development of some countries and leaps ahead in the development of others. Under these circumstances the "quite legitimate" striving of the countries that have slowed down to hold their old positions and the equally "legitimate" striving of the countries that have leapt ahead to seize new positions lead to a situation in which armed clashes among the imperialist countries are inevitable. Such was the case, for example, with Germany, which half a century ago was a backward country in comparison with France and England. The same must be said of Japan as compared with Russia. It is well known, however, that by the beginning of the twentieth century Germany and Japan had leapt so far ahead that Germany had succeeded in overtaking France and had begun to press England hard on the world market, while Japan was pressing Russia. As is well known, it was from these contradictions that the recent imperialist war arose.

This law proceeds from the following:

1. "Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial strangulation of the overwhelming majority of the population of the world by a handful of 'advanced' countries" (V. I. Lenin, Preface to French edition of Imperialism, Selected Works, Vol. V, p. 9);

2. "This 'booty' is shared between two or three powerful world marauders armed to the teeth (America, Great Britain, Japan), who involve the whole world in their war over the sharing of their booty" (Ibid.);

3. In consequence of the growth of contradictions within the world system of financial oppression and of the inevitability of armed clashes, the world front of imperialism becomes easily vulnerable to revolution, and a breach in this front in individual countries becomes probable;

4. This breach is most likely to occur at those points, and in those countries, where the chain of the imperialist front is weakest, that is to say, where imperialism is least protected and where it is easiest for a revolution to expand;

5. In view of this, the victory of socialism in one country, even if this country is less developed in the capitalist sense, while capitalism is preserved in other countries, even if these countries are more highly developed in the capitalist sense — is quite possible and probable.

Such, in a nutshell, are the foundations of Lenin's theory of the proletarian revolution.

What is the second peculiar feature of the October Revolution?

The second peculiar feature of the October Revolution lies in the fact that this revolution represents a model of the practical application of Lenin's theory of the proletarian revolution.

He who has not understood this peculiar feature of the October Revolution will never understand either the international nature of this revolution, or its colossal international might, or its peculiar foreign policy.

Uneven economic and political development [says Lenin] is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country, taken singly. The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists and organized its own socialist production, would stand up against the rest of the world, the capitalist world, attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of other countries, raising revolts in those countries against the capitalists, and in the event of necessity coming out even with armed force against the exploiting classes and their states. [For] the free union of nations in socialism is impossible without a more or less prolonged and stubborn struggle by the socialist republics against the backward states. (V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. V, p. 141.)

The opportunists of all countries assert that the proletarian revolution can begin — if it is to begin anywhere at all, according to their theory — only in industrially developed countries, and that the more highly developed these countries are industrially the more chances are there for the victory of socialism. Moreover, according to them, the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country, and in a country little developed in the capitalist sense at that, is excluded as something absolutely improbable. As far back as the period of the war, Lenin, taking as his basis the law of the uneven development of the imperialist states, opposed to the opportunists his theory of the proletarian revolution of the victory of socialism in one country, even if that country is less developed in the capitalist sense.

It is well known that the October Revolution has fully confirmed the correctness of Lenin's theory of the proletarian revolution.

How do matters stand with Trotsky's "permanent revolution" in the light of Lenin's theory of the proletarian revolution? . . .

Let us examine another pamphlet written by Trotsky, his Program of Peace, which appeared before the October Revolution of 1917 and has now (1924) been reprinted in his book The Year 1917. In this pamphlet Trotsky criticizes Lenin's theory of the proletarian revolution and the victory of socialism in one country and opposes to it the slogan of a United States of Europe. He asserts that the victory of socialism in one country is impossible, that the victory of socialism is possible only as a victory in several of the principal states of Europe (England, Russia, Germany), which should combine into a United States of Europe; otherwise it is not possible at all. He says quite plainly that "a victorious revolution in Russia or in England is inconceivable without a revolution in Germany, and vice versa."

The only more or less concrete historical argument [says Trotsky] advanced against the slogan of a United States of Europe was formulated in the Swiss Sotsial-Demokrat [at that time the central organ of the Bolsheviks—J.S.] in the following sentence: "Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism." From this the Sotsial-Demokrat drew the conclusion that the victory of socialism is possible in one country, and that, therefore, there is no point in making the creation of a United States of Europe a condition for the dictatorship of the proletariat in each separate country. That capitalist development in different countries is uneven is an absolutely incontrovertible argument. But this unevenness is itself extremely uneven. The capitalist level of England, Austria, Germany or France is not identical. But in comparison with Africa and Asia all these countries represent capitalist "Europe", which has grown ripe for the social revolution. That no single country should "wait" for others in its own struggle is an elementary idea which it is useful and necessary to repeat in order to prevent the substitution of the idea of expectant international inaction for the idea of simultaneous international action. Without waiting for the others, we begin and continue our struggle on our national soil, confident that our initiative will give an impetus to the struggle in other countries; but if that does not happen, it will be hopeless, in the light of historical experience and in the light of theoretical reasoning, to think that a revolutionary Russia, for example, could hold its own in the face of a conservative Europe, or that a socialist Germany could remain isolated in a capitalist world.

As you see, we have before us the same theory of the simultaneous victory of socialism in the principal countries of Europe which, as a rule, excludes Lenin's theory of revolution about the victory of socialism in one country.

[From this point down to the paragraph beginning "After all this", SAC editor has reformatted the passages and added boldface in order to capture the rhetorical style of Joseph Stalin, a style that some attribute to his education in an Orthodox Christian Seminary. The rhetorical rhythm of the paragragh is signaled in the original by multiple spacing between sentences, but here it is indicated by single-space carriage returns. Notice the asking and answering of one's own questions, a familiar rhetorical style of those --  trained in a doctrinaire theological environment or not -- who wield great power and desire to answer to no one but themselves =]

It goes without saying that for the complete victory of socialism, for complete security against the restoration of the old order, the united efforts of the proletarians of several countries are necessary.
It goes without saying that, without the support given to our revolution by the proletariat of Europe, the proletariat of Russia could not have held its own against the general onslaught, just as without the support [that] the revolution in Russia gave to the revolutionary movement in the West the latter could not have developed at the pace at which it has begun to develop since the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship in Russia.
It goes without saying that we need support.
But what does support of our revolution by the West-European proletariat imply?
Is not the sympathy of European workers for our revolution, their readiness to thwart the imperialists' plans of intervention—is not all this support?
Is this not real assistance?
Of course it is. If it had not been for this support, if it had not been for this assistance, not only from the European workers but also from the colonial and dependent countries, the proletarian dictatorship in Russia would have been in a tight corner.
Has this sympathy and this assistance, coupled with the might of our Red Army and the readiness of the workers and peasants of Russia to defend their socialist fatherland to the last — has all this been sufficient to beat off the attacks of the imperialists and to win us the necessary conditions for the serious work of construction?
Yes, it has been sufficient.
Is this sympathy growing stronger, or is it ebbing away?
Undoubtedly, it is growing stronger.
Hence, have we favorable conditions, not only to push on with the organization of socialist economy, but also, in our turn, to give support to the West-European workers and to the oppressed peoples of the East?
Yes, we have. This is eloquently proved by the seven years' history of the proletarian dictatorship in Russia.
Can it be denied that a mighty wave of labor enthusiasm has already risen in our country?
No, it cannot be denied.

After all this, what does Trotsky's assertion that a revolutionary Russia could not hold its own against a conservative Europe signify?

It can signify only this: first, that Trotsky does not appreciate the inherent strength of our revolution; secondly, that Trotsky does not understand the inestimable importance of the moral support which is given to our revolution by the workers of the west and the peasants of the east; thirdly, that Trotsky does not perceive the internal cancer which is eating at the heart of imperialism today. . . .

But perhaps this pamphlet too has become out of date and has ceased for some reason or other to correspond to Trotsky's present views? Let us take his later works, written after the victory of the proletarian revolution in one country, in Russia. Let us take, for example, Trotsky's "Postscript" to the new edition of his pamphlet A Program of Peace, which was written in 1922. Here is what he says in this "Postscript":

The assertion, repeated several times in A Program of Peace, that a proletarian revolution cannot be carried through to a victorious conclusion within the boundaries of one country may appear to some readers to have been refuted by the almost five years' experience of our Soviet republic. But such a conclusion would be groundless. The fact that the workers' state has maintained itself against the whole world in one country, and in a backward country at that, bears witness to the colossal might of the proletariat, which in other countries, more advanced, more civilized, will be capable of performing real miracles. But, although we have held our ground in the political and military sense as a state, we have not yet undertaken or even approached the task of creating a socialist society. . . . As long as the bourgeoisie remains in power in the other European countries, we will be compelled, in our struggle against economic isolation, to strive for agreement with the capitalist world; at the same time it may be said with certainty that these agreements may at best help us to mitigate some of our economic ills, to take one or another step forward, but that a genuine advance of socialist economy in Russia will become possible only after the victory [My italics.—J.S.] of the proletariat in the most important countries of Europe.

Thus speaks Trotsky, plainly sinning against reality and stubbornly trying to save his "permanent revolution" from final shipwreck.

It appears, then, that, twist and turn as you like, we have not only "not undertaken" the task of creating a socialist society but we have "not even approached" it. It appears that some people have been hoping for "agreements with the capitalist world," but it also appears that nothing will come of these agreements, for, twist and turn as you like, a "genuine advance of socialist economy" will not be possible until the proletariat has been victorious in the "most important countries of Europe."

Well, then, since there is still no victory in the West, the only "choice" that remains for the revolution in Russia is: either to rot away or to degenerate into a bourgeois state.

It is no accident that Trotsky has been talking for two years now about the "degeneration" of our party.

It is no accident that last year Trotsky predicted the "doom" of our country. . . .

How can this "permanent" hopelessness be reconciled . . . with the following words of Lenin's:

As a matter of fact, the power of state over all large-scale means of production, the power of state in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants, the assured leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat, etc.—is not this all that is necessary in order to build a complete socialist society from the co-operatives, from the co-operatives alone, which we formerly treated as huckstering and which from a certain aspect we have the right to treat as such now, under N.E.P.? Is this not all that is necessary for the purpose of building a complete socialist society? This is not yet the building of socialist society, but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for this building. (V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. K, p. 403.)

It is plain that these two views cannot be reconciled. Trotsky's "permanent revolution" is the negation of Lenin's theory of the proletarian revolution; and, conversely, Lenin's theory of the proletarian revolution is the negation of the theory of "permanent revolution."

Lack of faith in the strength and capabilities of our revolution, lack of faith in the strength and capabilities of the Russian proletariat — that is what lies at the root of the theory of "permanent revolution." . . .

Of late our press has begun to teem with rotten diplomats who try to palm off the theory of "permanent revolution" as something compatible with Leninism. . . .

Honeyed speeches and rotten diplomacy cannot hide the yawning chasm which lies between the theory of "permanent revolution" and Leninism. . . .


1930:Leon Trotsky =
Selected and arranged from the Preface to the American Edition of
The Permanent Revolution by Leon Trotsky,
translated by Max Shachtman,
published by Pioneer Publishers

As this book goes to press in the English language, the whole thinking part of the international working class, and in a sense, the whole of "civilized" humanity, listens with particularly keen interest to the reverberations of the economic turn taking place on the major part of the former czarist empire. The greatest attention in this connection is aroused by the problem of collectivizing the peasant holdings. And no wonder: in this sphere the break with the past assumes a particularly clear-cut character. But a correct evaluation of collectivization is unthinkable without a general conception of the socialist revolution. And here on an even higher plane, we are again convinced that everything in the field of Marxian theory is bound up with practical activity. The most remote, and it would seem, "abstract" disagreements, if they are thought out to the end, will sooner or later be expressed in practice, and the latter allows not a single theoretical mistake to be made with impunity. . . .

There are two distinct, and in the final analysis, directly opposed theoretical conceptions of socialism. Out of these flow basically different strategy and tactics.

Two principle variants are possible: (a) the course described [as] the economic entrenchment of the proletarian dictatorship in one country until further victories of the international proletarian revolution (the viewpoint of the Left Opposition); (b) the course towards the construction of an isolated national socialist society and that "in the shortest historical time" (the present official viewpoint). . . .

Let us recall . . . that the theory of socialism in one country was first formulated by Stalin in the fall of 1924, in complete contradiction not only to all the traditions of Marxism and the school of Lenin, but even to what Stalin wrote in the spring of the same year. . . .

Marxism proceeds from world economy, not as a sum of national parts, but as a mighty, independent reality, which is created by the international division of labor and the world market, and, in the present epoch, predominates over the national markets. The productive forces of capitalist society have long ago grown beyond the national frontier. The imperialist war was an expression of this fact. In the productive-technical respect, socialist society must represent a higher stage compared to capitalism. To aim at the construction of a nationally isolated socialist society means, in spite of all temporary successes, to pull the productive forces backward even as compared to capitalism. To attempt, regardless of the geographic, cultural and historical conditions of the country's development, which constitutes a part of the world whole, to realize a fenced-in proportionality of all the branches of economy within national limits, means to pursue a reactionary Utopia. If the heralds and supporters of this theory nevertheless participate in the international revolutionary struggle (with what success is a different question) it is because as hopeless eclectics, they mechanically combine abstract internationalism with reactionary Utopian national socialism. The consummate expression of this eclecticism is the program of the Comintern adopted by the Sixth Congress.

To expose completely one of the main theoretical mistakes, lying at the base of the national socialist conception, we can do nothing better than to quote the recently published speech of Stalin, devoted to the internal questions of American Communism. [This speech was delivered on May 6, 1929, and first published at the beginning of 1930, and under such circumstances that it acquires a "programmatic" significance] "It would be wrong," says Stalin against one of the American factions,

not to take into consideration the specific peculiarities of American capitalism. The Communist party must consider them in its work. But it would be still more wrong to base the activity of the Communist party on these specific features, for the foundation of the activity of every Communist party, the American included, on which it must base itself, are the general features of capitalism, which are essentially the same for all countries, but not the specific features of one country. It is precisely on this that the internationalism of the Communist parties rests. The specific features are merely supplementary to the general features." (Bolshevik, No. 1, 1930, page 8. Our emphasis.)

These lines leave nothing to be desired in the way of clarity. Under the guise of an economic motivation for internationalism, Stalin in reality presents a motivation for national socialism. It is false that world economy is simply a sum of similar national parts. It is false that the specific features are "merely supplementary to the general features," like warts on the face. In reality, the national peculiarities are a unique combination of the basic features of the world process. This originality can be of decisive significance for revolutionary strategy for a number of years. It is sufficient to recall the fact that the proletariat of a backward country has come to power many years before the proletariat of the advanced countries. This historic lesson alone shows that in spite of Stalin, it is absolutely wrong to base the activity of the Communist parties on some "general features," that is, on an abstract type of national capitalism. It is radically wrong to contend that this is what the "internationalism of the Communist parties rests upon." In reality, it rests on the inconsistency of a national state, which has long ago outlived itself and acts as a brake on the development of the productive forces. National capitalism cannot be conceived of, let alone reconstructed, except as a part of world economy.

The economic peculiarities of different countries are in no way of a subordinate character: It is enough to compare England and India, the United States and Brazil. But the specific features of national economy, no matter how great, enter as component parts, and in increasing measure into the higher reality, which is called world economy, and on which alone, in the final analysis, the internationalism of the Communist parties rests.

Stalin's characterization of the national peculiarities as a simple "supplement" to the general type, is in crying and yet not accidental contradiction to Stalin's understanding (that is, his lack of understanding) of the law of the uneven development of capitalism. This law, as is known, is proclaimed by Stalin as the most fundamental, most important and universal. With the help of the law of uneven development, which he has converted into an abstraction, Stalin attempts to solve all the riddles of existence. But it is astounding: He does not notice that national peculiarity is the most general product of unevenness of historical development, its final result, so to say. It is only necessary to understand this unevenness correctly, to consider it to its full extent, and also to extend it to the pre-capitalist past. A faster or slower development of productive forces; the expanded, or on the contrary, the contracted character of whole historical epochs—for example, of the middle ages, the guild system, enlightened absolutism, parliamentarism; the uneven development of the different branches of economy, different classes, different social institutions, different fields of culture — all these lie at the base of these national "peculiarities." . . . The October revolution is the grandest manifestation of the unevenness of the historic process. . . .

Stalin resorted to the law of uneven development not in order to foresee in time the seizure of power by the proletariat of a backward country, but in order, after the fact, in 1924, to foist upon the already victorious proletariat the task of constructing a national socialist society. But it is precisely here that the law of uneven development has nothing to do with the matter, for it does not replace nor does it abolish the laws of world economy; on the contrary, it is subordinated to them.

By making a fetish of the law of uneven development, Stalin proclaims it a sufficient basis for national socialism, not as a type, common to all countries, but exceptional, Messianic, purely Russian. To construct an independent socialist society is possible, according to Stalin, only in Russia. By this alone he raises the national peculiarities of Russia not only above the "general features" of every capitalist nation, but also above world economy as a whole. This is just where the fatal flaw begins in the whole Stalin conception. The peculiarity of the U.S.S.R. is so immense that it makes possible the construction of its own socialism within its limits, regardless of what happens with the rest of humanity.

As for other countries to which the Messianic seal has not been affixed, their peculiarities are only "supplementary" to the general features, only a wart on the face. "It would be wrong," Stalin teaches, "to base the activities of the Communist parties on these specific features." This moral holds good for the American Communist Party, the British, South African and Serbian, but . . . not for the Russian, whose activity is based not on the "general features" but precisely on the "peculiarities." From this flows the thoroughly discordant strategy of the Comintern: while the U.S.S.R. "liquidates the classes" and builds national socialism, the proletariat of all the other countries, completely independent of actual national conditions, is obligated to uniform action according to the calendar. . . . Messianic nationalism is complemented by bureaucratically abstract internationalism. This discordance runs through the whole program of the Comintern, and deprives it of any principled significance.

If we take England and India as the opposite poles of capitalist types, we must state that the internationalism of the British and Indian proletariat does not at all rest on the similarity of conditions, tasks, and methods, but on their inseparable interdependence. The successes of the liberation movement in India presuppose a revolutionary movement in England, and the other way around. Neither in India, nor in England is it possible to construct an independent socialist society. Both of them will have to enter as parts into a higher entity. In this and only in this rests the unshakable foundation of Marxian internationalism.

Only recently, on March 8, 1930, Pravda expounded Stalin's unhappy theory anew, in the sense that "socialism, as a social-economic formation," that is, as a definite form of productive relations, can be absolutely realized "on the national scale of the U.S.S.R." "The complete victory of socialism in the sense of a guarantee against the intervention of capitalist encirclement," is quite another matter—such a complete victory of socialism "actually demands the triumph of the proletarian revolution in several advanced countries." What abysmal decline of theoretical thought was required for such sorry scholasticism to be expounded in a learned guise on the pages of the central organ of Lenin's party!

If we should assume for a minute the possibility of realizing socialism as a finished social system in the isolated framework of the U.S.S.R., then what would be the "complete victory"—what intervention could even be talked of then? The socialist order of society presupposes high levels of technique, culture and solidarity of the population. Since the U.S.S.R., at the moment of complete construction of socialism, will have, it must be assumed, a population of from 200,000,000 to 250,000,000, then we ask: What intervention could be talked of then? What capitalist country, or coalition of countries would dare think of intervention under these circumstances? The only conceivable intervention could be on the part of the U.S.S.R. But would it be needed? Hardly. The example of a backward country, which in the course of several "five year plans" constructed a mighty socialist society with its own forces would mean a death blow to world capitalism, and would reduce to a minimum, if not to zero, the costs of the world proletarian revolution. This is why the whole Stalinist conception actually leads to the liquidation of the Communist International.

The passing of power from the hands of czarism and the bourgeoisie into the hands of the proletariat, abolishes neither the processes, nor the laws of world economy. It is true that for a certain time after the October revolution, the economic ties between the Soviet Union and the world market were weakened. But it would be a monstrous mistake to generalize a phenomenon which was merely a short stage in the dialectical process. The international division of labor and the supranational character of modern productive forces, not only retain, but will increase twofold and tenfold their significance for the Soviet Union, depending upon the degree of its economic ascent.

Every backward country that has become a part of capitalism has gone through various stages of decreasing or increasing dependence upon the other capitalist countries, but in general the tendency of capitalist development leads towards a colossal growth of world ties, which is expressed in the growth of foreign trade, including, of course, capital export as well. . . .

In the process of its development, and consequently in the struggle with its internal contradictions, every national capitalism turns in ever increasing measure to the reserves of the "external market," that is, of world economy. The uncontrollable expansion growing out of the permanent internal crisis of capitalism, constitutes its progressive force until it becomes fatal.

The October revolution inherited from old Russia, besides the internal contradictions of capitalism, no less profound contradictions between capitalism as a whole and the pre-capitalist forms of production. These contradictions had and still have, a material character, that is, they are contained in the material relations between the city and country in definite proportions or disproportions of various branches of industry and national economy in general, etc. Some of the roots of these contradictions He directly in the geographic and demographic conditions of the country, that is, they are nurtured by the surplus or the shortage of one or the other natural resource, and the historically created distribution of the masses of the people, etc. The strength of Soviet economy lies in the nationalization of the means of production and in their planned direction. The weakness of Soviet economy, on the other hand, besides the backwardness inherited from the past, lies in its present post-revolutionary isolation, that is, in its inability to gain access to the resources of world economy, not only on a socialist but even on a capitalist basis, that is, in the form of normal international credits, and "financing" in general, which plays such a decisive role for backward countries. However, the contradictions of its capitalist and pre-capitalist past not only do not disappear of themselves, but on the contrary, rise out of the twilight of the years of decline and destruction, revive and are accentuated simultaneously with the growth of Soviet economy, and in order to be overcome or even mitigated, demand at every step contact with the resources of the world market.

To understand what is happening now in the vast territory which the October revolution awakened to new life, we must always clearly picture to ourselves that to the old contradictions recently revived by the economic successes, there has been added a new and enormous contradiction between the concentrated character of Soviet industry, which opens up the possibility of an unprecedented tempo of development, and the isolation of Soviet economy, which excludes the possibility of a normal utilization of the reserves of world economy. The new contradiction, bearing down upon the old ones, leads to the fact that alongside of the exceptional successes, painful difficulties arise. The latter find their most immediate and strongest expression, felt daily by every worker and peasant, in the fact that the conditions of the toiling masses do not keep step with the general rise of economy, but even grow worse at present as a result of the food difficulties. The sharp crises of Soviet economy are a reminder that the productive forces created by capitalism are not adapted to a national framework and can be socialistically coordinated and harmonized only on an international scale. In other words, the crises of Soviet economy are not merely the maladies of growth, a sort of infantile sickness, but something immeasurably more significant—precisely that severe check of the world market, the very one "to which," in Lenin's words, "we are subordinated, with which we are bound up, and from which we cannot escape" (at the Eleventh Congress of the party, March 27, 1922). . . .

The seizure of power by the international proletariat cannot be a single, simultaneous act. The political superstructure—and a revolution is part of "superstructure"— has its own dialectic, which peremptorily interrupts the process of world economy, but does not abolish its deep-seated laws. The October revolution is "legitimate" as the first stage in the world revolution, which inevitably extends over decades. The interval between the first and the second stage has turned out to be considerably longer than we had expected. Nevertheless, it remains an interval, without being converted into an epoch of the self-sufficient construction of a national socialist society. . . .

A realistic program of an isolated workers' state cannot set itself the aim of achieving "independence" from world economy, much less of constructing a national socialist society in the "shortest time." The task is not to accomplish the abstract maximum, but the most favorable tempo under the circumstances, that is, those that flow from internal and world economic conditions, strengthen the positions of the proletariat, prepare the national elements of the future international socialist society, and at the same time, and above all, systematically improve the living level of the proletariat, strengthening its union with the non-exploiting masses of the village. This perspective remains in force for the whole preparatory period, that is, until the victorious- revolution in the advanced countries liberates the Soviet Union out of its present isolated position. . . .

The considerations brought out above are sufficient, let us hope, to reveal the whole significance of the struggle of principles that was carried on in recent years, and is carried on now in the form of contrasting two theories: socialism in one country and the permanent revolution. [...]