Letters: Are Our Views On Russia Correct?
Below is a letter from an American reader, with our reply.
San Francisco Labor College,
Editor of SOCIALIST STANDARD,
I have been requested by some of the members of the Labor College to say a few words to you in regard to the last issue of the STANDARD.
On account of the front page article on “The Class Struggle in Russia,” it became impossible for us to sell this issue at our regular meetings. The position taken in this article comes very dangerously close to the position taken by the anarchists in Russia to-day. You do not seem to grasp the difference between Democracy and Dictatorship. If the Bolsheviki did not act in a strong dictatorial manner, and had not acted in this way in the past, then the chances are about 999 out of a thousand that the capitalists would be in control of Russia to-day.
Trotsky is right in some of the criticisms that he makes. But on other things he is wrong, that is, if he is quoted correctly on democracy.
Also it has been called to my attention that, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Soviet Russia last November, the STANDARD did not have very much to say.
We value the SOCIALIST STANDARD on account of its lucid position on World Capitalism, but we would like to see it take a different attitude in regard to Soviet Russia.
Yours for Socialism,
Our critic makes a number of sweeping statements, but does not attempt to give particular instances of our alleged wrong policy, nor does he support his assertions with evidence. Our attitude on Russia is precisely the same as it was when the Bolsheviks seized power. We said then, and say now, that Socialism could not be established in that backward country, dominated as it is by an overwhelming majority of peasants and lacking a highly-developed industrial organisation. Neither the Bolsheviks nor any other dictators can revolutionise the economic basis of society by issuing decrees, nor by exiling or imprisoning all who are guilty of pointing out these obvious facts. Our critic tells us that, if the Bolsheviks had not been dictatorial, the capitalists would almost certainly be in control of Russia to-day. If by this he means to make the astounding assertion that Socialism has replaced Capitalism in Russia, we challenge him to produce one single scrap of evidence. Apart from this, it is interesting to notice that one specific charge made by Trotsky is that Russian industry has become so utterly dependent on credits granted by German and other banks and traders, that in fact Russian policy is again dictated, as it was before the war, by German and other foreign financial groups.
Our critic has apparently overlooked the explicit statement in the article referred to that we could not guarantee the accuracy of Trotsky’s estimates of conditions, and that we did not accept all his views on policy. We published the quotations for the information of our readers. Would our critics have us suppress all news and views which we find disagreeable, as is, it seems, the suicidal policy advocated by some of the communists?
If those who consider our Russian policy not in accordance with the facts and with the interests of the working class will point out wherein it is wrong, we shall be pleased to answer their objections.