Introduction to I.V. Stalin, "Liquidating Trotskyists."

Copyright © 1998 by Hugo S. Cunningham

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Ob"yasnenie latinskoj azbuki vospolzuemoj zdes'
Explanation of Russian transcription used here

I.V. Stalin

"On Defects in Party Work and Measures for the Liquidation of Trotskyists and Other Double-dealers"

A report and concluding remarks at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, 3-5 March 1937.

Editor's Introduction

Note on citations: They are given for both a Russian version (at this site), and for an English edition
J. V. Stalin, "Mastering Bolshevism," Workers Library publishers, New York City, 1937. The English edition was scanned by David J. Romagnolo for his on-line Stalin library.
Since the English edition is not my file, I cannot embed "NAME" labels for exact hypertext cross-references within chapters. The English text is marked with page numbers, however: even numbers on the left margin, odd numbers on the right margin; those should get you close enough. They are put before, rather than after, the page they refer to.
The style of the English translation is a bit choppy in places. The original Russian text is clear and simple.

This speech may be the Great Leader and Teacher's only extensive public comment on the need and objectives for the Great Purge of 1936-1938. How you evaluate it depends heavily on what you already believe about the Great Purge.

Authorized version
Counterrevolutionary version
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Authorized Version:

Counter-revolutionary version:

For English-speaking comrades, the official translation of this speech was given the curiously bland and uninformative title, "Mastering Bolshevism." This title apparently refers to the need for more political education of Party members, as discussed in Chapter 5 [English version, pp. 36-38; Russian version] , and in the final section 7 of the "Concluding Speech" [English version, pp. 58-63; Russian version]

Table of Contents

Chapter # Russian chapter title English chapter title page number in English edition
Chapter summary (in English)
(Introductory) (Vvedenie) (beginning) 5
1 Politicheskaya Bespechnost' Political Carelessness 6
Despite warnings from the Central Committee, subordinate Party organizations have not been sufficiently vigilant to the danger of spies and saboteurs.
2 Kapitalisticheskoe Okruzhenie Capitalist Encirclement 11
Bourgeois states constantly send spies and saboteurs against each other. Obviously their conduct would be even worse toward the world's only Socialist state.
3 Sovremennyj Trockizm Present-Day Trotskyism 14
Ten years ago, Trotskyism was a legitimate political movement among the working class, even though a mistaken one. Today, however, Trotskyite agents have no ideology, certainly none that they disclose to the workers. They are no more than a secretive gang of spies and killers, at the service of fascist intelligence agencies.

The advantage of Trotskyite saboteurs today is different from the advantage of foreign bourgeois-specialist saboteurs (eg in the Shakhty case) ten years ago. Everyone recognized ten years ago the need to distrust foreign class enemies, even though we had to rely on them for skills we did not yet have. In contrast, Trotskyites today do not have indispensable skills. They do hold membership in the Party, however, and thus find it easy to slip by the vigilance of ordinary comrades.

4 Tenevye Storony Xozyajstvennyx Uspexov The Seamy Side of Economic Success 21
Unfortunate side-effects of our recent economic successes are empty boastfulness and, even worse, complacency.
5 Nashi Zadachi Our Tasks 25
The Party must do far more to make ordinary comrades aware of the Trotskyist danger, and to refute common arguments for complacency.

For example, just because our economy seems to prosper is no reason to relax political vigilance. Trotskyite agents are not fools. They will seemingly make themselves useful in time of peace, so as to infiltrate key positions where they can betray us in time of war. [English version p. 30; Russian version]

We need new educational programs to develop additional cadres to meet this heightened political challenge. [English version, pp. 36-38; Russian version]

(end) Zaklyuchitel'noe Slovo Concluding Speech 40
(1) [p. 40] Increased responsibility for political education in no way reduces responsibility for economic development.
(2) [p. 42] Only prosecute real Trotskyite enemies. Don't harass decent people for temporary lapses in the distant past.
(3) Avoid cronyism in selecting Party workers. [p. 44]
(4) Party officials should be monitored not only by their bosses, but also by their subordinates. [p. 46]
(5) The Party must be willing to admit mistakes, so that we can learn from them. [p. 48]
(6) [p. 53] Party leaders must always stay close to the masses and simple people, who offer valuable new insights. For example, despite the resistance of local Party bosses, rank-and-file Comrade Nikolayenko successfully exposed rampant cronyism and Trotskyite wrecking in Kiev.
(7) [p. 58] Heartlessly bureaucratic Party bosses have been expelling good workers for minor infractions. Trotskyites, otherwise a tiny minority, can recruit victims of such injustices. In particular, if a good worker is not sufficiently informed about some aspect of the Party program, he should be educated, not expelled for "passivity."

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