This speech by Nadezhda Krupskaya indicates her understanding that the opposition led by Trotsky in the Russian Communist Party was criticising isolated negative phenomena in Soviet society and falsely generalising from them while ignoring the building up of a socialist society. The opposition had no roots in the masses. She regarded the arguments of the opposition as largely, nine-tenths, composed of ‘squabbling’. She reminded the plenum that Lenin considered that no organisation was possible without a relentless struggle against the degeneration of disputes into bickering, gossip and squabbling. As is known Krupskaya was briefly close to the, non-Trotskyist, opposition in 1925. In this speech she refers to the need for unity in the party around the Central Committee headed by Stalin.
Comrades, I think the argument about the likelihood or imminent danger of war, does not matter: as far as both equally pose a question of preparing for war. The threat of war has loomed over the Soviet Union, and at this point, of course, we need the maximum of businesslike, sober discussion and maximum cohesion, uniting both the party and the masses around the party. After the October Revolution Lenin said and wrote a lot about the fact that the construction of socialism lies in organisation; he said that the nail of building socialism was in organisation. He repeated this several times, so that from this point of view we have to step up to the issue of the war. The better we will be organised, the easier it will be to resist the class enemy, the easier it will be to win. However, those arguments, that nature of the dispute, which we have seen during the last 2 days, points to the fact that the opposition is notyet clearly aware of all of the impending dangers. At this moment to approach with the accusations with which the opposition approaches means to disturb the organisation.
The other day I came across an article that Vladimir Ilyich had written in 1913: “Two ways of disputes and struggle.” This article was written concerning our Duma faction.
“There are – says there Vladimir Ilyich – such disputes and conflict of opinions in the press, which help readers understand the policy issues more clearly – more deeply realise their value, more firmly solve them.
“There are arguments that degenerate into bickering, gossiping and squabbles... No movement, including the labour movement, is possible without debates, disputes and clash of opinions. No organisation is possible without a relentless struggle against the degeneration of disputes into bickering and squabbling. However, without organisation the working class means nothing.”
This was written at a time when the struggle took place on the floor of the Duma. Presently we are experiencing a time when we are facing the fight of a world scale, and, of course, at this moment everything that had been said by Vladimir Ilyich in 1913, is still a hundred times more important. And if we look at the charges that the opposition puts forward, we must say that 9/10th of these accusations are nothing more than a squabble.
Let us take the question of construction. Of course, we know that to build a new system, a new procedure is not easy, it is not just to wave one’s sleeve and socialism will appear immediately, it is not to take a good resolution on the construction of socialism – and it will appear from under the ground. The building of socialism requires an immense black work. And the methods that many opposition comrades use are as follows: they take one or another negative fact – needless to say there are many such facts – then they generalise it in an absolutely wrong way, then they bind together a series of such generalisations and at the same time put on blinkers not to see that building, which goes in this country.
I work in the field of education, I have to meet the masses of workers, peasants, women workers and women peasants, members of national minorities. And now I watch as people grow up, as their consciousness grows up, as their level of organisation grows up just in a few months. Let us take the re-election to the Moscow Council, which I watched very closely. If to compare this re-election with the elections that took place in the previous campaign – there is a huge difference. Comrade Trotsky mentioned here about the cribs.
I mean, how useful a crib can be sometimes. This year members of the City Council during the re-election campaign received a book in which all the figures had been collected and the main issues that needed to be discussed had been pronouncedly set. And now, thanks to this book, which is very easy, of course, to call a crib, thanks to this book I could watch how the debate during the re-election took a certain channel, how workers efficiently selected the necessary stuff to each item. I have no doubt that the re-election has given a huge amount of material that will help build a better and more correct economic and cultural work in the future. Often we do not notice what is happening around. For example, this year I had to watch the following thing: in different cities (33 cities on the whole) labour universities emerged at the grass roots. We have held a Congress of Workers’ Universities this year, and the students of these workers’ universities struck all of us. They are workers dealing with different machine-tools, they have been in the production process for many years, not less than 5 years. And it is interesting to note how the debates were going.
It was clear that each of these workers felt himself a master of production. How detailed, clear, distinct questions and issues concerning the construction of economic life they raised. Let us take the village. If we compare a modern village with an old village, we will see that, maybe, in the sense of wealth it has not gained so much, but what do we see? We see the village busy with enormous organisational work. We see a lot of organisations there – village councils, committees of mutual assistance, the Komsomol, Women’s Section, etc. We see cooperation that holds a tremendous upheaval in the economy of the village. And so, when you see how the whole village is committed to the new principles of reorganising their lives, then one recalls the words of Vladimir Ilyich – the nail of building socialism is in organisation.
I have to deal with women-workers and women-peasants a lot, I get a lot of letters and see an immense growth of consciousness that happens tirelessly.
When you come to a workers’ meeting and hear how a plain woman- worker said: “I was a defenceless woman, but now I have worked with the Workers’ Control Commission, studied at the courses of illiteracy liquidation and I feel now that I can protect myself and I can protect comrades”, – so, comrades, is it nothing? In my opinion, these simple words point to a tremendous growth of consciousness to that new organisation that is being created.
Let us turn to minorities. I recently had to speak to teachers from the Mari district, look through the literature, and the following is evident: there were downtrodden people, degenerating people, people who had no prospects at all, it was not known which end to take. Now, for several years there has been a tremendous organisational and cultural change in the Mari people. So, when you see such things, you feel that the comrades put on blinkers and do not see the terms of the turbulent life, of the new organisation which is evolving. This, I think, is the main error of the opposition.
The opposition has artificially created a special world for itself, not the world that is the case. This is because the opposition does not see the real life, it has no roots among the masses. (Voices: Right, true. Listen). The masses will not go after the opposition.
Those workers, peasants, women-workers and women-peasants, national minorities who have felt and realised this growth, who have risen to a conscious, active life under the Soviet power, under the leadership of the Communist Party – they will never go after anyone else, but “after the Communist Party, but after the Soviet power. Due to the impending danger of war, the question about the class struggle arose in front of us”, and here I want to give you another quote from Vladimir Ilyich: “Class struggle really teaches in practice that any false position of any party leads the party immediately to the place by its merits”. Now the threat of war is a test, whether the position of one or the other group is correct or false. I think that the speeches that sounded here today and yesterday indicate that the position on which the opposition rests is wrong, that it is false. (Voices: Right.)
I only briefly touch on one issue. It was said that the defence of the country is to properly discuss where to go. That is true, but you cannot anarchically discuss the issue. On the other hand it is important – at what point to discuss. Our Party is not a debating club. (Voices: Right.) There are times when it is necessary not to debate, but to act. And of course Com. Trotsky better than anyone knows what would become of the Red Army, if at the moment of assault each soldier discussed whether we go in the right direction and decided himself where to go. We need a maximum cohesion here.
In conclusion I would like to add a couple of words on a private issue. In 1925, all of us felt a certain stabilisation, and then it seemed that we had to drastically signal about the danger of some events that took place. That is why the position of the opposition seemed correct to me then, in 1925. But now, in the moment of struggle, in the time when the unity of all forces is so necessary, it seems to me that all the opposition members should leave the opposition and link up more closely around the Central Committee. (Prolonged applause).
‘Ob'edinimsia vokrug TsK partii. Rech' na ob'edinennom plenume TsK i TsKK VKP (b)’. (Emphases in the original.) State Publishing House, Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.
Translated from the Russian by Dr. Elena Lavrina.