Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

military front, another into the soviet institutions, and seating a third by desks covered with green office table cloth and heaps of office papers, books, estimates, and projects.

The unions have been depopulated. And only workers imbued with the strongest proletarian spirit, the real blossom of the rising revolutionary class, remained immune to the dissipating influence of authority, of petty ambition and high positions in soviet bureaucracy. They still stay spiritually welded together with the masses of the workers: that lowest stratum of society from whom they themselves came, an organic connection which could not be severed even by the highest soviet positions.

As soon as the intensity of the struggle on the fronts diminished, and the pendulum of life swung on the side of economic reconstruction, these representative, inveterate proletarians in spirit, the most luminous and staunchest of their own class, rapidly discarded their military garb, gave up their office work in the military establishments, in order to answer the silent call of their comrades, the millions of Russian workers who even in Soviet Russia drudge out their shamefully miserable existence.

Through their class instinct, these comrades standing at the head of the Workers' Opposition became conscious of the fact that there was something wrong: they understood that even though during these three years we have created the soviet institutions and reaffirmed the principles of the workers' republic, yet the working class, as a class, as a self-contained social unit with identical class aspirations, tasks, interests, and, hence, with a uniform, consistent, clear-cut policy, becomes an ever less important factor in the affairs of the Soviet republic. Ever less does it lend color to the measures promulgated by its own government; ever less does it direct the policy and influence the work and the trend of thought of the central authorities. During the first period of the revolution, who would dare to speak of the "upper" and the "lower" strata? Masses, namely, the laboring masses, and the leading party centers were all in one. All aspirations that were borne of life and struggle at that time found their most exact reflection in the most clearly defined and scientifically grounded formula of the leading party centers. There was no line drawn between the “upper" and the “lower” strata and there could be none. At present, however, this division does exist, and there is no agitation or intimidation strong enough to eradicate the mass conviction that there has grown up a quite new peculiar social layer—that of the soviet and "upper party elements.

The members of the trade unions, the existing nucleus of the Workers' Opposition, have understood this fact, or rather, sensed it by their healthy class instinct. First, they found it necessary to come into close contact with the rank and file. To enter into their class organizations, the unions, which, less than any other institution, have come under the

destroying influence of cross-current, foreign, non-proletarian elements, viz.: the peasant and bourgeois elements, which by adapting themselves to the soviet regime deform our soviet institutions and divert our policy from clearly defined class channels into the morass of "adaptation."

Thus, the Workers' Opposition consists of proletarians closely connected with machine or mine, who are a part and_parcel of the working class.

The Workers' Opposition, moreover, is wonderful in that it has no prominent leaders. It originated as any healthy, inevitable, class-founded movement would originate—from the depths of the laboring masses. It sprouted from deep roots simultaneously in all corners of Soviet Russia, when the appearance of the Workers' Opposition in the large centers was not even heard of.

“We had no idea whatever of the fact that in Moscow controversies are taking place,” said one delegate from Siberia to one of the Miners' congresses, "and yet questions similar to yours have been agitating our minds also." Behind the Workers' Opposition there stand the proletarian masses, or, to be more exact, the Workers' Opposition is the class-uniform, class-conscious and class-consistent part of our industrial proletariat—that part of it which considers it impossible to substitute the great creative power of the proletariat in the process of building communist economy by the formal label of the dictatorship of the working class.

The higher we go up the ladder of the Soviet and party hierarchy, the fewer adherents of the Opposition we find. The deeper we penetrate into the masses the more response do we find to the program of the Workers' Opposition. This is very significant, and very important. This must be taken into consideration by the directing centers of our party. If the masses go away from the "upper" elements; if there appears a break, a crack, between the directing centers and the "lower" elements, that means that there is something wrong with the "upper" elements, particularly when the masses are not silent, but think, act, move, and defend themselves and their own slogans.

The “upper" elements may divert the masses from the straight road of history which leads toward communism only when the masses are mute, obedient, and when they passively and credulously follow their leaders. So it was in 1914, at the beginning of the World War, when the workers believed their leaders and decided: “The instinctive feeling of protest against the war deceives us; it is necessary to be silent, to stifle that feeling and obey the superiors. But when the masses are in turmoil, criticise their leaders, and use their own brains; when they stubbornly vote against their beloved leaders, quite often suppressing the feeling of personal sympathy towards them; then the matter assumes a serious turn, and it is the task of the party not to conceal the controversy, not to nick-name the Opposition with unfounded and meaningless epithets, but to ponder seriously over the whole matter and find out where the root of the evil is, where the root of the controversy is, what it is that the working class, the bearer of communism and its only creator, wants.

And thus the Workers' Opposition is the advanced part of the proletariat which has not severed the ties with the laboring masses organized into unions, and which has not scattered itself in the soviet institutions.

THE ROOT OF THE CONTROVERSY Before making clear what the cause is of the ever widening break between the “Workers' Opposition" and the official point of view held by our directing centers, it is necessary to call attention to two facts: (1) '

The Workers' Opposition sprang from the depths of the industrial proletariat of Soviet Russia, and it is an outgrowth not only of the unbearable conditions of life and labor in which seven millions of the industrial workers find themselves, but is also a product of vacillation, inconsistencies, and outright deviations in our soviet policy from the clearly expressed class-consistent principles of the communist program.

(2) The Opposition did not originate in some particular center, was not a fruit of personal strife and controversy, but, on the contrary, covers the whole extent of Soviet Russia and meets with a resonant response.

At present there prevails an opinion that the whole root of the controversy arising between the Workers' Opposition and the numerous currents noticeable among the leaders consists exclusively in the difference of opinions regarding the problems that confront the trade unions. This, however, is not true. The break goes deeper. Representatives of the Opposition are not always able to clearly express and define it, but as soon as some vital question of the reconstruction of our republic is touched upon, controversies arise concerning a whole series of cardinal economic and political questions.

For the first time the two different points of view, as they are expressed by the leaders of our party and the representatives of our class-organized workers, found their reflection at the Ninth Congress of our party, when that body was discussing the question: "Collective versus personal management in the industry.” At that time there was no opposition from a well formed group, but it is very significant that collective management was favored by all the representatives of the trade unions, while opposed to it were all the leaders of our party, who are accustomed to appraise all events from the institutional angle. They require a great deal of shrewdness and skill to placate the socially heterogeneous and the sometimes politically hostile aspirations of the different social groups of the population as expressed by proletarians, petty owners,

peasantry, and bourgeoisie in the person of specialists, and pseudo-specialists of all kinds and degrees.

Why was it that none but the unions stubbornly defended the principle of collective management, even without being able to adduce scientific arguments in favor of it; and why was it that the specialists' supporters at the same time defended the "one man management"? The reason is that in this controversy, though both sides emphatically denied that there was a question of principle involved, two historically irreconcilable points of view had clashed. The "one man management” is a product of the individualist conception of the bourgeois class. The “one man management” is in principle an unrestricted, isolated, free will of one man, disconnected from the collective.

This idea finds its reflection in all spheres of human endeavor—beginning with the appointment of a sovereign for the state and ending with a sovereign director of the factory. This is the supreme wisdom of bourgeois thought. The bourgeoisie do not believe in the power of a collective body. They like only to whip the masses into an obedient flock, and drive them wherever their unrestricted will desires.

The working class and its spokesmen, on the contrary, realize that the new communist aspirations can be attained only through the collective creative efforts of the workers themselves. The more the masses are developed in the expression of their collective will and common thought the quicker and more complete will be the realization of working class aspirations, for it will create a new, homogeneous, unified, perfectly arranged communist industry. Only those who are directly bound to industry can introduce into it animating innovations.

Rejection of a principle—the principle of collective management in the control of industry—was a tactical compromise on behalf of our party, an act of adaptation; it was, moreover, an act of deviation from that class policy which we so zealously cultivated and defended during the first phase of the revolution.

Why did this happen? How did it happen that our party, matured and tempered in the struggle of the revolution, was permitted to be carried away from the direct road in order to journey along the round-about path of adaptation, formerly condemned severely and branded as “opportunism.

The answer to this question we shall give later. Meanwhile we shall turn to the question: how did the Workers' Opposition form and develop?

The Ninth Congress (Russian Communist Party) was held in the spring. During the summer the Opposition did not assert itself. Nothing was heard about it during the stormy debates that took place at the Second Congress of the Communist International, but deep at the bottom there was taking place an accumulation of experience, of critical thought. The first expression of this process, incomplete at the time, was at the party conference, in September, 1920. For a time the thought preoccupied itself largely with rejections and criticism. The Opposition had no well formulated proposals of its own. But it was obvious that the party was entering into a new phase of its life. Within its ranks a ferment was at work; signifying that the “lower" elements demand freedom of criticism, loudly proclaiming that bureaucracy strangles them, leaves no freedom for activity, or for manifestation of initiative.

The leaders of the party understood this undercurrent and through comrade Zinovieff made many verbal promises as to freedom of criticism, widening of the scope of self-activity for the masses, persecution of leaders deviating from the principles of democracy, etc. A great deal was said, and said well; but from words to deeds there is a considerable distance. The September conference, together with Zinovieff's much promising speech, has changed nothing either in the party itself or in the life of the masses. The root from which the Opposition sprouts, was not destroyed. Down at the bottom a growth of inarticulate dissatisfaction, criticism, and independence was taking place.

This inarticulate ferment was noted even by the party leaders, where it quite unexpectedly generated sharp controversies. It is significant that in the central party bodies sharp controversies arose concerning the part that must be played by the trade unions. This, however, is only natural.

At present this subject of controversy between the Opposition and the party leaders, while not being the only one, is still the cardinal point of our whole domestic policy.

Long before the Workers' Opposition had appeared with its theses, and formed that basis on which, in its opinion, the dictatorship of the proletariat must rest in the sphere of industrial reconstruction, the leaders in the party had sharply disagreed in their appraisal of the part that is to be played by the working class organizations regarding the latter's participation in the reconstruction of industries on a communist basis. The Central Committee of the party split into groups. Comrade Lenin stood in opposition to Trotzky, while Bucharin took the middle ground.

Only at the Eighth Soviet Congress and immediately after, it became obvious that within the party itself there was a united group kept together primarily by the theses of principles concerning the trade unions. This group, the Opposition, having no great theoreticians, and in spite of a most resolute resistance from the most popular leaders of the party, was growing strong and spreading all over laboring Russia. Was it so only in Petrograd and Moscow ? Not at all! Even from the Donetz basin, the Ural Mountains, Siberia, and a number of other industrial centers came reports to the Central Committee that there also the Workers' Opposition was forming and acting. It is true that not everywhere does the

« НазадПродовжити »