Trotsky: The Ignorance and the Evil | Mises Institute
explore the relationship between perestroika and the rewriting of Soviet market The historical (if not political) rehabilitation of Leon Trotsky in the USSR. Of course, we cannot tell how Lenin, or Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev or .. to sell this produce at their own prices, thus creating a limited type of free market. . However, the USSR had excellent relations with Weimar Germany (). What was the relationship between Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin? . centralization of War Communism to allow market forces to operate.
After a few years of misery and famine for the Russian masses — there is no record of any Bolshevik leader having died of starvation in this period — the rulers thought again, and a New Economic Policy NEP — including elements of private ownership and allowing for market transactions — was decreed. The significance of all this cannot be exaggerated. What we have with Trotsky and his comrades in the Great October Revolution is the spectacle of a few literary-philosophical intellectuals seizing power in a great country with the aim of overturning the whole economic system — but without the slightest idea of how an economic system works.
In State and Revolution, written just before he took power, Lenin wrote, The accounting and control necessary [for the operation of a national economy] have been simplified by capitalism to the utmost, till they have become the extraordinarily simple operations of watching, recording and issuing receipts, within the reach of anybody who can read and write and knows the first four rules of arithmetic.
With this piece of cretinism Trotsky doubtless agreed. And why wouldn't he? Lenin, Trotsky, and the rest had all their lives been professional revolutionaries, with no connection at all to the process of production and, except for Bukharin, little interest in the real workings of an economic system. Their concerns had been the strategy and tactics of revolution and the perpetual, monkish exegesis of the holy books of Marxism.
The nitty-gritty of how an economic system functions — how, in our world, men and women work, produce, exchange, and survive — was something from which they prudishly averted their eyes, as pertaining to the nether-regions. These "materialists" and "scientific socialists" lived in a mental world where understanding Hegel, Feuerbach, and the hideousness of Eugen Duehring's philosophical errors was infinitely more important than understanding what might be the meaning of a price.
Of the actual operations of social production and exchange they had about the same appreciation as John Henry Newman or, indeed, St. This is a common enough circumstance among intellectuals; the tragedy here is that the Bolsheviks came to rule over millions of real workers, real peasants, and real businessmen. Howe puts the matter rather too sweetly: Hadn't Marx and Engels, in their ten-point program for revolutionary government in The Communist Manifesto, demanded as point eight, "Equal liability for all to labor.
Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture"? Neither Marx nor Engels ever disavowed their claim that those in charge of "the workers' state" had the right to enslave the workers and peasants whenever the need might arise.
Leon Trotsky: On Lenin's Final Struggle Against Bureaucracy (April )
Now, having annihilated the hated market, the Bolsheviks found that the need for enslavement had, indeed, arisen. And of all the Bolshevik leaders, the most ardent and aggressive advocate of forced labor was Leon Trotsky. There are other areas in which Howe's critique of Trotsky is not penetrating enough, in which it turns out to be altogether too soft-focused and oblique.
For instance, he taxes Trotsky with certain philosophical contradictions stemming from his belief in "historical materialism. He would speak of honor, courage, and truth as if these were known constants, for somewhere in the orthodox Marxist there survived a streak of nineteenth century Russian ethicism, earnest and romantic.
In this passage, Howe seems to be saying that adherence to certain commonly accepted values is, among Marxists, a rare kind of atavism on Trotsky's part. Of course historical materialism dismisses ethical rules as nothing more than the "expression," or "reflection," or whatever, of "underlying class relationships" and, ultimately, of "the material productive forces. Even Marx and Engels, in their "Inaugural Address of the First International," wrote that the International's foreign policy would be to "vindicate the simple laws of morals and justice [sic] which ought to govern the relations of private individuals, as the laws paramount of the intercourse of nations.
The admiration of those values is a part of the common heritage of us all. To think that there is a problem here that needs explaining is to take "historical materialism" much too seriously to begin with.
Similarly with other contradictions Howe thinks he has discovered between Trotsky's Marxist philosophy and certain statements Trotsky made in commenting on real political events. Of the Bolshevik Revolution itself, Trotsky says that it would have taken place even if he had not been in Petrograd, "on condition that Lenin was present and in command. But the answer to Howe's question is that, when Trotsky commits a blunder like this, nothing happens.
Nothing happens, because "historical materialism" was pretentious nonsense from the beginning, a political strategy rather than a philosophical position.
Occasionally, in daubing in some of the light patches of sky that are intended to make up for the dark ones in Trotsky's life, Howe comes perilously close to slipping into a fantasy world. He says that in the struggle with Stalin, Trotsky was at a disadvantage, because he "fought on the terrain of the enemy, accepting the damaging assumption of a Bolshevik monopoly of power. Trotsky shared that view with Stalin. He no more believed that a supporter of capitalism had a right to propagate his ideas than a medieval inquisitor believed in a witch's right to her own personal style.
And as for the rights even of other socialists — Trotsky in had led the attack on the Kronstadt rebels, who merely demanded freedom for socialists other than the Bolsheviks. At the time, Trotsky boasted that the rebels would be shot "like partridges" — as, pursuant to his orders, they were.
Howe even stoops to trying a touch of pathos. In sketching the tactics Stalin used in the struggle with Trotsky, he speaks of "the organized harassment to which Trotskyist leaders, distinguished Old Bolsheviks, were subjected by hooligans in the employ of the party apparatus, the severe threats made against all within the party….
The best example of Howe's strange gentleness toward Trotsky I have for the last. What, when all is said and done, was Trotsky's picture of the Communist society of the future? Howe does quote from Trotsky's Literature and Revolution the famous, and ridiculous, last lines: USSRso the debate was on how fast and bv what means to proceed.
There were two opposing sides: They argued that surplus production should be exported to obtain capital for investment in industry. Preobrazhenskyliquidated in the purgeswanted to "bleed" the peasants by collectivizing the farms, and thus control production and prices. The difference between state prices for food produce paid to the collective farms and the higher prices at which they would be sold in state shops in the towns was to provide investment capital for industrialization.
Stalin supported the "Right, " so it won.
He was expelled from the Soviet Union in He continued to oppose Stalin from abroad until he was murdered by a Stalin agent in Mexico in Although the "Right" had won the industrialization debate, witnessed the so-called "scissors crisis, " in which the prices of agricultural products were much lower than industrial products. Since the peasants could not buy what they needed, they produced less food, especially grain, so there was not enough for export and even shortages in the cities.
In Decemberthe 15th Party Congress confirmed t Central Committee Resolutions to reduce the influence of kulaks rich peasants in the villages.
Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and the Left Opposition in the USSR, - Persée
The resolution also spoke of collectivization, but said it should be carried out by persuasion, not by force. However, Stalin imposed very heavy taxes on the peasants, and had them collected by force. The argument for collectivization sounded plausible: The problem was, however, that the Soviet Union was not an industrialized state, so there were very few tractors and other farm machinery.
There were also very few experienced farm managers in the Party. Finally, it was a well-known fact that peasant farmers did not want to give up their land. However, these considerations carried no weight with Stalin.
In his eyes, the private peasant farmers who tilled the land and raised the livestock, were opposing the demands of the party leadership; in fact.
Therefore, they were capable of influencing the state's economic policy, and even of becoming a political opposition. Finally, Stalin's letters to Molotov show he saw grain exports as the key to industrialization, for they were to pay for it.
He believed these exports could not be assured without collectivization, even if it had to be carried out by force 3a.
We should also bear in mind that in he had defeated all his key rivals for power, so they could not oppose his policies. In Aprilthere was some opposition in the party to the first draft plan on collectivization. This plan was intimately connected with collectivization, which was to provide much of the capital investment for industrialization. When collectiziation began, there were protests and peasant riots in the North Caucasus. When Bukharin criticized the policy, Stalin answered that a "temporary peasant tribute was needed.
Bukharin came out openly against Stalin in January He sent a statement to the Central Committee that Stalin's policies were synonymous with a military-feudal exploitation of the peasantry, the disintegration of the Comintern, and the bureaucratization of the party, which turned out to be a correct diagnosis.
Though Stalin pretended to forgive him, he never did and made up his mind to destroy him. However, since Bukharin was very popular in the party, Stalin bided his time.
In Marchtwo versions of the Five Year Plan were presented: The 16th Party Congress, packed by Stalin, approved the maximum version. There were also attacks on Bukharin by Stalin's supporters, made on his orders. But in the summer ofafter Stalin had broken all internal party opposition, collectivization went forward at breakneck speed and was implemented by force. The peasants resisted fiercely, so Stalin decided on all-out collectivization. They burned the villages and shot the people.
The peasants then killed off their livestock and burned the grain. In late Marchhe made a speech saying the party was "dizzy with success," and blamed local party members for excesses.
In this way he headed off a mass revolt, but after a few months the pace quickened again. Still, the issue was not yet settled. InStalin's use of force against peasant resistance to collectivization led to a man-made famine in some regions s of the Soviet Union.
Indeed, Ukraine was the traditional breadbasket of Russia. To break resistance in these regions, Stalin did not allow any food to be brought in, while he exported grain abroad.
Also, every bit of grain was taken from the peasants, who were left to starve. People were shot for "stealing" grain. Aside from those who starved to death, some 4 million Ukrainians were deported to labor camps in Siberia or to other forced labor, e. Historians estimate that 4- 7 million Ukrainians died as a result of Stalin's policy. Churchill, at a dinner in his "dacha" country house near Moscow, that collectivization had been imposed because agriculture had to be mechanized to avoid famine.
The peasants, said Stalin, had in a few months "spoiled all the tractors" they were given, so they had to be collectivized. He claimed there was no alternative to collectivization, but admitted it had been "a terrible struggle," involving 10 million "kulaks. In fact, most ended up in labor camps or in huge industrial projects like Magnitogorsk. The bulk of those who resisted were killed, not by their "labourers" -- for most had none -- but by the military forces of the security police.
It was only inunder Gorbachev, that the Soviet press admitted Stalin's collectivization was a very costly "mistake. We should also note that many Bolsheviks were horrified by Stalin's methods at the time. It is certain that Stalin deliberately ordered the starvation of millions of peasants, particularly Ukrainians, and that this was done with the involvement of local Ukrainian party members.
At the same time, he liquidated those Ukrainian communists who wanted a real measure of autonomy for their people. Since peasants also starved in other parts of the Soviet Union, the question is whether Stalin specifically targeted the Ukrainians for physical and cultural extermination, which is the claim made by Ukrainians and by some Western historians. Whatever the case may be, collectivization did not increase Soviet agricultural output, but reduced it catastrophically.
First of all, the losses in livestock were not made up until the early s, although without the war this might have occurred sooner. Furthermore, there were few agricultural machines to go around, so in "Motor Tractor Stations" MTS were established, each of which had to serve several collective farms.
This meant in turn, that collective farms had to compete with each other in bribing the local MTS and some always came off short. Also, there was shortage of trained farm managers; so at first, they were party workers sent down to run the farm and coerce the peasants. Finally, and most importantly, the peasants were unwilling to work hard because they were paid very little and mostly in kind.
So, inStalin had to allow them to have small private plots on which they could raise vegetables, fruit, and even some livestock. He also had to allow them to sell this produce at their own prices, thus creating a limited type of free market.
Note on the Problems of Soviet agriculture. Soviet agricultural production was inadequate for most of the Soviet period. It is true that production tripled over the years, but the urban population increased dramatically at the same time.
Urban growth also took place in most Western countries, especially in the U. We know that key Soviet problems were very low productivity and enormous waste. Peasants worked as little as possible. Also, Russian experts admitted under Gorbachev that at least one-third, and in some cases half of the collective farm produce rotted for lack of timely transport and adequate storage. Khrushchev began importing grain from the United States in It is true that according to official Soviet statistics agricultural production in the s was about four times as high as in the s.
For Gorbachev's and Yeltsin's attempts at reforming agriculture, see ch. The production targets set in the Five Year Plans of were totally unrealistic. So was the basic assumption that - apart from government profits made on the price difference between purchase price from the collective farms and the sale prices in the towns - most of the investment capital would come from increased production.
However, this simply did not happen. The standard of living in the cities was definitely higher in than it was in This was pulling the country up by its bootstraps. It meant that industrialization was achieved by exploiting the workers and peasants.
After World War II and the imposition of communism on most of Eastern Europe, a joke originating in one of these countries stated: Strict labor discipline was imposed, as were piece work wages along with constantly rising production targets. Leading workers were called "Stakhanovites" after the miner Aleksei G. On August 30,he was given the most up-to-date machinery and an excellent crew, with the result that they extracted more coal in a single shift than any crew before them -- allegedly tons of coal in one shift of 5 hours.
After that, miners, equipped only with pick axes, were told to produce the same amount of coal. Therefore, Stakhanov's name was hated by the workers. BrezhnevSecretary General gave him the order of "Hero of Socialist Labor" on August 30,and designated the date as "International Miners' Day.
During the first two Five Year Plans FYPs ofhuge hydroelectric dams were built as well as canals, mines, and factories. They were built in record time, using both free and prison labor. The latter formed an important part of all FYPs after Prisoners built the White Sea Canal, mostly by hand; they laid thousands of miles of railway track, manned the lumber industry, also the gold mines of Kolyma and the coal mines of Vorkuta.
Millions of people died of cold, malnutrition and disease in the labor camps. In the "free" areas outsise the camps, industrial accidents were frequent because safety was not a factor. Workers were encouraged and often forced to work overtime. Managers, who were party members, drove the workers relentlessly because they risked prison, or deportation, or even death for "sabotage" if production targets were not met. Indeed, inthere was a show trial of "wreckers" from the Skakhty industrial center in the Donbas region called the Skakhty Trial.
Although this marked the beginning of a wave of terror against the pre-revolutionary professional intelligentsia, it also set a precedent for trying managers who did not meet their production quotas. Food was rationed, so the unemployed could not get ration cards, or any place to live. Housing was in very short supply, so workers often lived in barracks without their families. The people who lived in existing housing had to share apartments, one family to a room, and the housing shortage was never overcome, though much was built later under Khrushchev and Brezhnev.
On top of all that, there was police terror see belows. Stalin officially justified forced collectivization and industrialization by claiming that Russia was "threatened" by the Western Powers, i. Britain and France, so it had to "catch up" with them in industrial production.
He could point to Western intervention in the civil war of as an example of active western hostility. The Western Powers were constantly depicted as scheming to invade the Soviet Union and overthrow the Soviet government. It is true that there was a general Western distrust of the Soviet Union, due largely to the subversive activities of the Comintern Communist International.
There was, in fact, not only extensive Soviet-German trade, but also close military cooperation see ch. As for France and Britain, inthey gave up all ideas of fighting the Soviets. Britain recognized the USSR in Although relations were severed due to discovery of Soviet espionage in the Argos affairthey were soon restored. The administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet government in November Furthermore, Poland and France signed non-aggression pacts with the Soviets in Hitler came to power in Germany in Marchbut though the USSR entered the League of Nations in September and signed an alliance with France in May - Stalin showed signs of willingness to sign a treaty of nonaggression with Hitler at the same time.
For Soviet foreign policy in the interwar period, see ch. This was partly due to the fact that managers had to show they had fulfilled or overfulfilled their quotas, and partly to the propaganda need to show the Soviet people and the world that the system was successful.
We can, however, accept the following figures for as more or less valid: Coal production rose from about 40 milllion. Steel production rose from about 4. Oil production rose from about These production figures are impressive. Furthermore, the development of heavy industry in the Ural mountains region would provide the backbone of Soviet war industry in At the same time, however, the forced tempo of industrialization was incredibly wasteful and inefficient.
Indeed, waste and inefficiency came to characterize both industrial and agricultural production in the Soviet Union, as well as in other so-called socialist countries. Also, the cost of collectivization and industrialization in terms of human lives was very high. It is true that the standard of living for city workers was generally higher in than before the revolution, but compared with Europe and the U.
The peasants, for their part, were subjected to a new form of serfdom, for they had to work a certain number of days for the collective farm in return for minimum quantities of food. They were not given internal passports for travel inside the USSR like other citizens,which meant they were tied to the soil. The general exception was military service, from which most soldiers never returned home. Also, gifted young men, who had proved reliable workers and had some local backing, could leave the village for careers in the party, industrial management, sports, the sciences and the arts.
The party and managerial elite, as well as officially sanctioned scientistis, artists and writers, lived extremely well. The ones at the top had large apartments, country houses, chauffeur-driven limousines, special shops, where they could buy otherwise unobtainable goods, and access to well appointed hospitals and vacation resorts The middle and lower ranks also enjoyed many perks.
But all were at risk of dismissal or worse if they displeased a powerful colleague, or Stalin. The life style of the elites was, however, discreet and never flaunted in public. Stalin himself wore a simple military tunic - until he gave himself the title of Marshal and a splendid uniform in honor of Soviet victories in He assumed the title of "Generalissimus" in The Stalin Terror, In these four years, millions of people were arrested and killed, either by execution sometimes by torture in prison, or by overwork and malnutrition in the labor camps, or execution there.
Hardly a family was left untouched, especially in the western and central USSR. Those who remember the terror, are still traumatized by it today. The most likely answer is that he saw any opposition, real or potential, as a deadly threat to himself and that this perception con-firmed his determination to hold absolute power.
At the same time, like other Bolsheviks, including Lenin, Stalin believed that terror was a legitimate political weapon, as well as the most effective means of making people obey and work hard. The difference was that while Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders opposed the use of terror against their own colleagues, Stalin had no such reservations.
It seems that the impulse for launching the great terror was criticism of Stalin's policies and methods within the party leadership in the yearsi. At that time, the most significant opposition came from Martemyan N. Ryutin was expelled from the Party and arrested in Septemberbut the OGPU Security Police Collegium acquitted him of any criminal intent and he was only given a warning.
However, inhe and a group of minor party officials - some of whom were followers of Bukharin, who had opposed collectivization - wrote "An Appeal to All Members of the All Union Communist Party Bolshevik. The authors condemned Stalin as "the evil genius of the Russian Revolution. The party leaders still opposed the death penalty for one of their own. Ryutin and his supporters were, however, expelled from the party. He received a ten year sentence and later died in prison. It is worth noting that the opponents of the death penalty for Ryutin were Sergei M.
Kostrikov,the head of the Leningrad party, as well as others, including Stalin's close supporter, the Georgian Grigorii K. Ordzonikidzethen Commissar of Heavy Industry.
On Lenin’s Final Struggle Against Bureaucracy
It was also clear at the 17th Party Congress, held in January-Februarythat many deputies wanted a relaxation of the collectivization drive and that Kirov was a very popular figure.
Stalin must have decided to get rid of his critics and potential rivals, but he needed a pretext. Stalin's pretext for the purges in the party, which developed into the mass terror, was the assassination of Kirov on December 1, Kirov was widely regarded as Stalin's heir apparent and was popular in party circles. Some Western historians suspected for a long time that Stalin had him killed.
Many years later, this view was confirmed by Anton Antonov-Ovseenko, whose father, was killed in the purges. Anton himself was trained as a historian and became a dissident, having spent many years in labor camps. From them he learned that Kirov opposed Stalin's brutal methods of collectivization, and received many more votes than Stalin for re-election to the Central Committee and thus election as Secretary General at the 17th Party Conqress of In fact, only three votes seem to have been cast against Kirov, while some were cast against Stalin.
However, Stalin's henchmen are said to have destroyed these except for three, also leaving three votes against Kirov. Finally, though Kirov refused to run against Stalin for the post of General Secretary, and told him so, Stalin apparently concluded that Kirov was a deadly threat to him. This Congress abolished the title of Secretary General, and replaced it with that of the First Secretary, but the old title was restored under Brezhnev].
Most of the evidence concerning Kirov's assassination was destroyed after being read by Khruschev's Commission of Inquiry, but some of it has been confirmed recently by a surviving member of the commission. It seems that NKVD operatives, under Stalin's orders, used Leonid Nikolaev, a party member known for his disturbed mind, to kill Kirov in his own office building in Leningrad.
Later Nikolaev, as well as all others involved, including Yagoda, were killed off in one way or another. In the meanwhile, Stalin raised a great hue and cry claiming the whole party was in danger, having been "penetrated" by spies and foreign agents.
There were mass arrests, which included not only the suspects, but also their families, supporters, friends and acquaintances. This was a method often used in some Asian countries, also in past clan wars in Stalin's native Georgia. The famous Soviet writer, Alexander I. After the opening of Russian archives in the early s, estimates have been broken down into victins of the GULAG forced labor campsand executions, of which most, over , took place in the "Great Terror" of At present, the minimum estimate is around 15 million.
The total number of those killed during collectivization, in the purges of the s and in later years, i. Although all were accused of belonging to "Trotskyite" conspiracies, and some of spying for foreign powers, almost all were also accused of sharing the "Ryutin Platform. Vyshinsky rose to prominence as the Prosecutor.
Yevdakimov and others, were accused of being part of a "Trotskiite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center," and of organizing a "terrorist plot" against Stalin and his supporters. The accused were forced to implicate Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky the last committed suicide on being implicated.
The accused had been promised their lives and safety for their families, if they "confessed," but they were shot the day after their conviction and their families were sent to the GULAG. This time the accused were headed by Grigorii L. Pyatakovwho had consistently supported Trotsky in his disputes with Lenin and Stalin, and was Grigorii K.
Ordzhonikidze's assistant in industrial planning. Ordzonikidze was officially said to have died of a heart attack ; in Februaryhowever, Khrushchev said he had committed suicide; inthe Soviet press stated he died of a gunshot wound. The other accused included the prominent expert on foreign affairs and former leading member of the Trotskiite opposition, Karl Radek realname: Serebryakova leading member of Trotsky's former group, and thirteen others.
Some were executed and some died in labor camps. Rykova leader of the "Right Opposition" against collectivization; Nikolai N. Krestinskiiwho had been the Soviet ambassador in Berlin inand Genrikh G. Yagodathe NKVD chief who had conducted the inquiry into the assassination of Kirov and organized the purges. Again, most were executed, while others died in the camps.
Trotsky, who was in the West, publicly denied the charges and often proved that the so-called "agents" could not have been in places where they were supposed to be "conspiring. Some of the Polish communists in Poland even protested. Most of the Polish communist leaders had taken refuge in the the USSR; they were duly arrested and executed, or died in the camps. Finally, the Comintern read Stalin dissolved the Polish Communist Party inon the charge that it had been inf iltrated by the Polish police.
The Polish Communist Party was "rehabilitated" by the United Polish Workers' Party inwhen the charge was declared false and blamed on "provocateurs". Likewise, other foreign communists then in the USSR were also executed while their dependents and lesser fry were sent to labor camps. In the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact August 23 -June 22Stalin even delivered some German communists to the Nazis as a token of his good will. At the time of the purge trials, many sympathizers of the Soviet Union were taken in by the "confessions of guilt" made publicly in court by the accused.
We know, however, that these "confessions" were obtained by physical or mental torture e. Some of the accused made extraordinary statements in admitting their "guilt. We found ourselves in the accursed ranks of the counter-revolution, we became traitors to Socialist Fatherland. I refute the accusation of having plotted against the life of Vladimir Illyich [Lenin], but my revolu- tionary confederates, and I at their head, en- deavored to murder Lenin's cause, which is being carried on with such tremendous success by Stalin.
In the winter of —21 widespread dissension broke out over the policies of War Communism, not only among the populace but among the party leadership as well. The point at issue in the controversy was the future role of the trade unions.
The utopian left wing wanted the unions to administer industry; Lenin and the cautious wing wanted the unions confined to supervising working conditions; Trotsky and his supporters tried to reconcile radicalism and pragmatism by visualizing administration through unions representing the central state authority. The crisis came to a head in Marchwith agitation for democracy within the party on the one hand and armed defiance represented by the naval garrison at Kronshtadt on the other.
At this point Trotsky sided with Lenin, commanding the forces that suppressed the Kronshtadt Rebellion and backing the suppression of open factional activity in the party. This degree of accord, however, did not prevent Trotsky from losing a substantial degree of political influence at the 10th Party Congress in March The struggle for the succession When Lenin was stricken with his first cerebral hemorrhage in Maythe question of eventual succession to the leadership of Russia became urgent.
Trotsky, owing to his record and his charismatic qualities, was the obvious candidate in the eyes of the party rank and file, but jealousy among his colleagues on the Politburo prompted them to combine against him.
As an alternativethe Politburo supported the informal leadership of the troika composed of Grigory ZinovyevLev Kamenevand Stalin. LC-DIG-ggbain In the winter of —23 Lenin recovered partially and turned to Trotsky for assistance in correcting the errors of the troika, particularly in foreign trade policy, the handling of the national minorities, and reform of the bureaucracy.
Stalin moved rapidly to consolidate his hold on the Central Committee at the 12th Party Congress in April By fall, alarmed by inroads of the secret police among party members and efforts to weaken his control of the war commissariat, Trotsky decided to strike out against the party leadership. In October he addressed a wide-ranging critique to the Central Committee, stressing especially the violation of democracy in the party and the failure to develop adequate economic planning.
Reforms were promised, and Trotsky responded with an open letter detailing the direction they should take. This, however, served only as the signal for a massive propaganda counterattack against Trotsky and his supporters on grounds of factionalism and opportunism. At this critical moment Trotsky fell ill of an undiagnosed fever and could take no personal part in the struggle.
Convalescing on the Black Sea coast, Trotsky was deceived about the date of the funeral, failed to return to Moscowand left the scene to Stalin. Attacks on Trotsky did not cease. When the 13th Party Congress, in Mayrepeated the denunciations of his violations of party discipline, Trotsky vainly professed his belief in the omnipotence of the party.
The following fall he took a different tack in his essay The Lessons of Octoberlinking the opposition of Zinovyev and Kamenev to the October Revolution with the failure of the Soviet-inspired German communist uprising in In January Trotsky was removed from the war commissariat.
Early infollowing the split between the Stalin-Bukharin leadership and Zinovyev-Kamenev group and the denunciation of the latter at the 14th Party Congress, Trotsky joined forces with his old adversaries Zinovyev and Kamenev to resume the political offensive.