How does Marxism apply to the Freemasons

Your morals and ours

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Leon Trotsky


(February 1938)

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Moral exhalations

In an epoch of victorious reaction, gentlemen democrats, social democrats, anarchists and other representatives of the “left” camp begin to excrete twice their usual quantity of moral oozes, like people who sweat twice as much with fear. By rewriting the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, these moralists turn not so much to the victorious reaction as to those revolutionaries who suffer from their persecution and who “provoke the reaction” with their “excesses” and “amoral” principles “And give her moral justification. Moreover, they enact a simple but sure means of avoiding the reaction: we just have to strive to morally renew ourselves. Free samples of moral perfection are given to interested parties by all the editorial departments involved.

The class base of this false and grandiose sermon is the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia. The political basis: their impotence and confusion in the face of the approaching reaction. The psychological basis: their endeavor to overcome the feeling of their own inferiority by playing mummies with the prophet's beard.

The favorite method of the moralizing philistine is to identify the behavior of reaction with that of revolution. He only achieves success by relying on formal analogies. For him, tsarism and bolshevism are twins. He also discovers that fascism and communism are twins. He compiles an inventory of the common features of Catholicism - or more precisely of Jesuitism - and Bolshevism. Hitler and Mussolini, using exactly the same method, reveal that liberalism, democracy and Bolshevism are just different manifestations of the same evil. The view that Stalinism and Trotskyism are "essentially" one and the same now enjoys the combined support of liberals, democrats, devout Catholics, idealists, pragmatists, and anarchists. The only reason why the Stalinists are apparently unable to join this “popular front” is because they happen to be busy with the extermination of the Trotskyists.

It is characteristic of these analogies and similarities that in their application one completely ignores the material basis of the various currents, i.e. their class nature and thus their objective historical role. Instead, one takes some external and secondary phenomenon as the starting point for judging and evaluating the various currents, mostly their relationship to some abstract principle which has a special professional value for the critic in question. Freemasons, Darwinists, Marxists and anarchists are twins for the Roman Pope because they all blasphemously deny the immaculate conception. For Hitler, liberalism and Marxism are twins because they don't want to know anything about “blood and honor”. For a democrat, fascism and bolshevism are twins because they do not submit to universal suffrage. And so on. There is no doubt that the currents compiled above have some features in common. But the crux of the matter lies in the fact that the development of mankind is not exhausted either in universal suffrage, in “blood and honor”, ​​or in the dogma of the immaculate conception. The historical process primarily expresses the class struggle; moreover, different classes employ the same means at certain moments in the name of different ends. In essence it cannot be otherwise. Armies fighting one another are always more or less symmetrical; if there was nothing in common in their fighting methods, they could not inflict any blows on each other.

An ignorant peasant or shopkeeper who understands neither the origin nor the meaning of the struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie, when he discovers that he is between the two fires, will regard both warring camps with the same hatred.

And who are all these democratic moralists? Ideologists of the intermediate layers who got caught between the two fires or who are afraid of this fate. A lack of understanding of the great historical movements, a hardened conservative mentality, self-satisfied narrowness and the most primitive political cowardice characterize the prophets of this type. More than anything, the moralist wishes that history would leave him alone with his little books, little magazines, subscriptions, his common sense, and his moral exercise books. But history does not leave him alone. She puffs him now from the left and now from the right. It is clear: revolution and reaction, tsarism and Bolshevism, communism, Stalinism and Trotskyism - these are all twins. Whoever doubts this may feel the symmetrical bumps on the right and left halves of the skull of our moralists.

Marxist amorality and eternal truths

The most popular and most impressive of the charges directed against Bolshevik “amorality” is based on the so-called Jesuit maxim of Bolshevism: “The end justifies the means”. It is not far from here to the next conclusion: since Trotskyists, like all Bolsheviks (or Marxists), do not recognize the principles of morality, there is consequently no “fundamental” difference between Trotskyism and Stalinism. Which was to be proved.

An utterly vulgar and cynical American monthly conducted an inquiry into the moral philosophy of Bolshevism. As is customary, the inquiry had to serve both ethical and advertising goals. The inimitable H.G. Wells, whose great imagination is only surpassed by his Homeric complacency, did not hesitate to show solidarity with the reactionary snobs of common sense. So everything was fine. But even those participants who considered it necessary to defend Bolshevism did so in the majority of cases not without shy excuses (Eastman). The principles of Marxism are bad, of course, but there were none the less valuable people among the Bolsheviks. Indeed, such "friends" are more dangerous than enemies.

If we could make up our minds to take the gentlemen debunkers seriously, then we would have to ask them in the first place: What are your own moral principles? That is a question to which we will hardly get an answer. Let us assume for a moment that neither personal nor social ends justify the means. Then it is evidently necessary to look for criteria outside of historical society and the goals it sets itself in the course of its development. But where? If not on earth, then in heaven. The priests have long discovered infallible moral criteria in divine revelation. Little secular priests talk about eternal moral truths without mentioning their origin. However, we are justified in concluding that since these truths are eternal, they must have existed not only before the ape-half-human appeared on earth, but even before the formation of the solar system. So where did they come from? The theory of eternal morality can in no way exist without God.

Unless the moralists of the Anglo-Saxon school limit themselves to rationalist utilitarianism, the ethics of bourgeois bookkeeping, they all appear as the conscious or unconscious pupils of Count Shaftesbury, who - at the beginning of the eighteenth century! - Derived moral judgments from a special “moral sense” which, according to its presupposition, was given to man once and for all. A morality above classes inevitably leads to the recognition of a particular substance, a “moral sense” or “conscience”, to the recognition of something absolute that is nothing but the cowardly philosophical synonym for God. If we consider morality independently of the "goals", i.e. of society, it ultimately turns out to be a form of "natural theology", regardless of whether we derive it from "eternal truths" or from "human nature". Heaven remains the only fortified position for military operations against dialectical materialism.

At the end of the last century a whole school of "Marxists" (Struwe, Berdjaew, Bulgakow, etc.) arose in Russia, who wished to supplement Marxist teaching with a self-sufficient moral principle, i.e. above the classes. These people, of course, started with Kant and the categorical imperative. But how did they end? Today Struwe is former minister of Baron Wrangel and a loyal son of the church; Bulgakov is an Orthodox priest; Berdyaev interprets the Apocalypse in different languages. These changes, surprising at first glance, are by no means explained by the “Slavic soul” - Struwe has a German soul - but by the force of the social struggle in Russia. The main feature of this metamorphosis is essentially international.

Classical philosophical idealism, in so far as it tried at the time to secularize morality, i.e. to free it from its religious sanction, represented a huge step forward (Hegel). But after moral philosophy had broken away from heaven, it had to find earthly roots. It was one of the tasks of materialism to discover these roots. After Shaftesbury came Darwin, after Hegel - Marx. Whoever appeals to “eternal moral truths” today is trying to turn the wheel backwards. Philosophical idealism is only a transitional stage: from religion to materialism, or vice versa, from materialism to religion.

"The end justifies the means"

Incidentally, the Jesuit order, which was founded in the first half of the 16th century to combat Protestantism, never taught that every means, even if it was criminal from the point of view of Catholic morality, was permissible if it only reached the "end", ie lead to the triumph of Catholicism. Such an internally contradicting and psychologically absurd doctrine was maliciously ascribed to the Jesuits by their Protestant and partly Catholic opponents, who were not embarrassed in choosing the means to achieve their ends. The Jesuit theologians, who, like the theologians of other schools, dealt with the question of personal responsibility, actually taught that the means in itself can be an indifferent matter, and that the moral justification or judgment of the means given derives from the end. Shooting is a neutral matter in and of itself; Shooting a mad dog threatening a child - a virtue; Shooting with the aim of injuring or killing - a crime. The statements of the theologians of this order did not go beyond such platitudes.

As for their practical moral philosophy, the Jesuits were by no means worse than other monks or Catholic priests; on the contrary, they were superior to them; in any case, they were more persistent, bolder and more discerning. The Jesuits were a strictly centralized, aggressive, combative organization that was dangerous not only to the enemy but also to the allies. In his psychology and in the method of his actions, the Jesuit of the “heroic” period differed from the average priest, just as the warrior of the church differed from its shopkeeper. We have no reason to idealize either. But it is utterly unworthy to look at a fanatical warrior with the eyes of a dull and indolent shopkeeper. If we remain at the level of purely formal or psychological affinities, then, if one will, one can say that the Bolsheviks relate to the Democrats and Social Democrats of all shades as the Jesuits relate to the peaceful hierarchy. Compared to the revolutionary Marxists, the social democrats and centrists appear like minors or like the quack compared to the doctor: they don't think a single problem to the end, believe in the power of conjuration, cowardly avoid any difficulty and hope for a miracle . The opportunists are the peaceful shopkeepers of the socialist idea, while the Bolsheviks are its inveterate warriors. Hence the hatred and calumny of the Bolsheviks on the part of those who have their historically conditioned weaknesses in abundance, but none of their merits.

At least the juxtaposition of Bolshevism and Jesuitism remains completely one-sided and superficial and is more literary than historical in nature. If one proceeds from the character and interests of those classes on which Jesuits and Protestants rely, the former represented the reaction and the latter represented progress. The limitations of this "progress" found its direct expression in the moral doctrine of the Protestants. Thus, the city citizen Luther in no way prevented the teachings of Christ, which he had “purified”, from calling for the rebellious peasants to be put down like “mad dogs”. Dr. Martin evidently believed that "the end justifies the means" even before this principle was ascribed to the Jesuits. The Jesuits, who were competing with Protestantism, adapted themselves increasingly to the spirit of civil society, and of the three vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience, only the third remained, and that in an extremely mitigated form. From the standpoint of the Christian ideal, the morality of the Jesuits deteriorated as they ceased to be Jesuits. The warriors of the church became its bureaucrats and, like all bureaucrats, passable rascals.

Jesuitism and Utilitarianism

This brief discussion is perhaps sufficient to show how much ignorance and narrow-mindedness are required to seriously oppose the “Jesuit” principle: “The end justifies the means”, another, apparently higher morality, in which each “means” has its own moral label carries something like a product with fixed prices in a specialty store. It is noteworthy that the common sense of the Anglo-Saxon philistine managed to indignant himself about the “Jesuit” principle and at the same time to be inspired by the utilitarian moral doctrine so characteristic of British philosophy. For the criterion of Bentham and John Mills: "The greatest possible happiness for the greatest possible number" means that those means are moral which lead to general welfare as the higher end. The Anglo-Saxon utilitarianism agrees in its general philosophical formulations completely with the “Jesuit” principle: “The end justifies the means”. Thus, as we see, empiricism only exists in the world for the purpose of freeing us from the need to put things right with one another.

Herbert Spencer, whose empiricism inoculated Darwin with the idea of ​​evolution, how to inoculate against smallpox, taught that in the sphere of morality the development of "sensations" to "ideas" progresses. The sensations are guided by the criterion of immediate pleasure, while the ideas allow one to be guided by the criterion of future, lasting and higher pleasure. "Pleasure" or "happiness" is also here a moral criterion.

But the breadth and depth of the content of this criterion depends on the scale of "development". In this way Herbert Spencer also proved, through the methods of his own "evolutionary" utilitarianism, that the principle: the end justifies the means contains nothing immoral.

However, it would be naive to expect an answer to the practical question from this abstract “principle”: what can we do and what not? Moreover, of course, the principle that the end justifies the means raises the question: and what justifies the end? In practical life as in the course of history, the ends and means continually change their position. A machine under construction is only a “goal” of production insofar as it enters another factory as a “means”. In certain periods democracy is the “goal” of the class struggle only to be transformed into its means afterwards. On the other hand, if the Jesuit principle does not contain anything immoral, it is far from solving the problem of morality.

The "evolutionary" utilitarianism of Spencer also leaves us halfway without an answer, since he, following Darwin, tries to resolve concrete historical morality into the biological needs or "social instincts" characteristic of a herd animal, while the concept of morality itself only does so arises in an antagonistic milieu, that is, in a class-torn society.

Bourgeois evolutionaryism remains powerless on the threshold of historical society because it does not want to recognize the driving force in the development of historical forms, the class struggle. Morality is only one of the ideological functions in this struggle. The ruling class imposes its ends on society and accustoms it to view as immoral any means that contradict its ends. That is the most important function of the official moral doctrine. It pursues the idea of ​​"greatest possible happiness" not for the majority, but for a constantly diminishing minority. Violence alone could not hold such a regime for a week. It takes the moral cement. Mixing this cement forms the profession of the petty-bourgeois theorists and moralists. Although they shimmer in all colors of the rainbow, in the end they remain apostles of slavery and submission without exception.

"Moral rules that are binding on everyone."

Anyone who does not want to return to Moses, Christ or Mohammed and who is not satisfied with eclectic hocus-pocus must understand that morality is a product of historical development, that there is nothing immutable in it, that it serves social interests, that these interests are contradictory are that morality, more than any other ideological form, has the character of a class.

But are there no elementary moral precepts that have emerged in the development of mankind as an integral part of the existence of every collective body? Such regulations undoubtedly exist, but their scope is extremely limited and unstable. The sharper the character of the class struggle, the more ineffective the norms that are “binding on everyone.” The culmination point of the class struggle is the civil war, which blows up all moral bonds between the hostile classes.

Under "normal" conditions, a "normal" person obeys the command: "You shall not kill." But if he kills under the abnormal condition of self-defense, the judge will forgive him for his act. If he falls victim to a murderer, the court will kill the murderer. The need for the court to act as a self-defense arises from antagonistic interests. As far as the state is concerned, in peacetime it restricts itself to isolated cases of legalized murder, in order to transform the “binding” commandment: “You shall not kill” into its opposite in times of war. The “most humane” governments, which “abhor” war in peacetime, declare the extermination of the greatest possible number of people to be the highest duty of their armies during the war.

The so-called “generally recognized” moral rules have an algebraic, i.e. indefinite, character in the nature of the matter. They only express the fact that man is bound in his individual behavior by a certain number of general norms which result from his existence as a member of society. The highest generalization of these norms is the categorical imperative of Kant. But despite the fact that this imperative occupies a high place in the philosophical Olympus, it does not contain anything categorical because it contains nothing concrete. It is a shell without a core.

This emptiness in the regulations that are binding on everyone results from the fact that people feel that they belong to a class much more deeply and more directly than their belonging to "society" in all decisive questions. The “binding” rules of morality are actually class content. That means an antagonistic content. The moral norm becomes all the more categorical the less it is binding on everyone. The solidarity of workers, especially strikers or barricade fighters, is incomparably more “categorical” than human solidarity in general.

The bourgeoisie, which far surpasses the proletariat in completeness and irreconcilability of class consciousness, has a vital interest in imposing its moral philosophy on the exploited masses. It is precisely for this purpose that the concrete prescriptions of the bourgeois catechism are hidden behind moral abstractions that are subordinated to the patronage of religion, philosophy or that bastard that is called “common sense”. The appeal to abstract norms is not an altruistic philosophical mistake, but a necessary element in the mechanics of class deception. Unmasking this fraud, which has a tradition dating back thousands of years, is the primary duty of the proletarian revolutionary.

The Crisis of Democratic Morality

In order to secure the victory of their interests on big questions, the ruling classes are ready to make concessions on secondary questions, of course only as long as these concessions are compatible with the bookkeeping. In the epoch of the capitalist boom, especially in the last decades before the world war, these concessions were absolutely real, at least with regard to the upper strata of the proletariat. The industry expanded almost continuously at that time. The wealth of the civilized nations and partly also of the working masses grew. Democracy seemed secure. The workers' organizations grew. At the same time, the reformist tendencies deepened. Relations between the classes, at least outwardly, were becoming less tense. Thus, in parallel with the norms of democracy and the habits of class collaboration, certain elementary moral regulations arose in social relations. The impression of an ever free, just and humane society was created. The ascending line of progress seemed infinite to "common sense".

Instead, however, war broke out with its wake of tremors, crises, catastrophes, epidemics and bestialities. The economic life of mankind came to an impasse. The class contrasts emerged sharply and nakedly. The safety valves of democracy began to explode one by one. The elementary moral codes turned out to be even more fragile than the democratic institutions and the reformist illusions. Lying, slander, bribery, venality, coercion and murder took on unimagined proportions. To the stunned simpleton all these vices appeared to be a temporary result of the war. In reality these are phenomena of imperialist decline. The decline of capitalism determines the decline of today's society with its law and its morals.

The “synthesis” of imperialist shamefulness is fascism, the direct result of the bankruptcy of bourgeois democracy in the face of the tasks of the imperialist epoch. Rudiments of democracy only exist in the rich capitalist aristocracies: for every "democrat" in England, France, Holland and Belgium there is a certain number of colonial slaves: "60 families" rule the democracy of the United States, and so on. Moreover, fascist saplings are growing rapidly in all democracies. On the one hand, Stalinism is the product of imperialist pressure on a backward and isolated workers' state, which in its own way represents a symmetrical complement to fascism. While idealistic Philistines - the anarchists always at the top, of course - tirelessly expose the Marxist "amorality" in their press, the American trusts, according to John L. Lewis (CIO), donate no less than 80 million dollars a year for the practical Fight against revolutionary “demoralization”, ie for espionage, bribery of workers, judicial crimes and secret murders. The categorical imperative sometimes chooses detours to get to victory! For the sake of justice, let us admit that even today the most honest and at the same time most limited petty-bourgeois moralists live in the idealized memory of the past and in the hope of its return. They do not understand that morality is a function of the class struggle, that democratic morality corresponds to the epoch of liberal and progressive capitalism, that the escalation of the class struggle, which is going through its final phase, has finally and irrevocably destroyed this morality, that in its place on the one hand the morality of fascism, on the other hand the morality of the proletarian revolution occurred.

"Common sense"

Democracy and “universally accepted” morality are not the only victims of imperialism. The third suffering martyr is the "universal" common sense. This lowest form of intellect is not only absolutely necessary in all circumstances, but sufficient in certain circumstances. The basic capital of common sense consists of the elementary conclusions of general experience: one should not stick one's fingers in the fire, strike a straight line if possible, not irritate a vicious dog ... and so on and so forth. In a stable social milieu, common sense is sufficient to do business, cure the sick, write articles, lead unions, vote in parliament, marry and renew the race. But when the same common sense tries to break the boundaries set for it and enters the level of complex generalization, it turns out to be an accumulation of prejudices of a particular class and epoch. Even an ordinary capitalist crisis brings common sense to a dead end; and in the face of such catastrophes as revolution, counterrevolution, and war, common sense reveals itself to be a complete fool. In order to grasp the catastrophic disturbances of the “normal” course of things, that higher quality of the intellect is required, which until now has found its philosophical expression only in dialectical materialism.

Max Eastman, who successfully tries to equip “common sense” with an extremely attractive literary style, has made the fight against dialectic nothing less than his profession. Eastman seriously believes the coupling of the conservative banalities of common sense with good style is "the science of revolution." In supporting the reactionary snobs of common sense, he reveals to humanity with inimitable certainty that if Trotsky had been guided by common sense instead of Marxist doctrine, he would ... not have lost power. That inner dialectic that has hitherto appeared in the inevitable succession of certain stages in all revolutions does not exist for Eastman. For him, the replacement of the revolution by reaction is explained by insufficient respect for common sense. Eastman does not understand that it was precisely Stalin who historically fell victim to common sense, that is, to its inadequacy, because the power he wielded served purposes hostile to Bolshevism. On the other hand, the Marxist doctrine allowed us to part with the Thermidorian bureaucracy in good time and continue to serve the goals of international socialism.

Every science, and in this sense also the “science of revolution”, is tested by experience. Hopefully, since Eastman knows so well how to maintain revolutionary power on condition of world reaction, he also knows how to seize power. It would be very much to be hoped that he would finally reveal his secrets. Best he would do this in the form of a draft program for a revolutionary party entitled: How do we seize and keep power? We fear, however, that common sense will deter Eastman from undertaking such a dangerous venture. And in that case we have to agree with common sense.

Marxist doctrine, which Eastman unfortunately never understood, allowed us to foresee that under certain historical circumstances the Soviet thermidor with a whole host of crimes would be inevitable. The same doctrine has long foretold the decline of bourgeois democracy and its morals. The doctrinaires of “common sense”, on the other hand, were taken by surprise by fascism and Stalinism. Common sense works with unchangeable quantities in a world where only change is constant. Dialectic, on the other hand, understands all phenomena, institutions and norms in their emergence, existence and decay. The dialectical view of morality as a dependent and perishable product of the class struggle appears to common sense as "amoral". And yet there is nothing flatter, scarier, more self-satisfied and more cynical than the moral code of common sense!

The GPU moralists

The Moscow trials gave rise to a crusade against the "amorality" of Bolshevism. However, this crusade did not begin immediately. The truth is that the majority of the moralists were the Kremlin's direct or indirect friends. As such, they tried for a long time to hide their dismay, even pretending that nothing unusual had happened. And yet the Moscow trials were anything but a coincidence. Servile submissiveness, hypocrisy, the official cult of lies, bribery and other forms of corruption obviously began to flourish in Moscow as early as 1924-25. Future judicial crimes have been prepared openly before the eyes of the whole world. There was no lack of warnings. However, the "friends" preferred not to see anything. No wonder: the majority of these gentlemen were at the time in irreconcilable hostility towards the October Revolution and only reconciled with the Soviet Union as its Thermidorian degeneration progressed: the petty-bourgeois democrats of the west recognized kindred spirits in the petty-bourgeois democrats of the east.

Did these people really believe the Moscow accusations? Only the most limited. The others just wanted to be upset by uncovering the truth. Is it sensible to forego the flattering, comfortable, and often well-paid friendship with the Soviet embassies? Moreover - oh, they did not forget that! - the indiscreet truth can damage the prestige of the Soviet Union. These people covered the crimes on the basis of purposeful considerations, i.e. they applied the principle without hesitation: the end justifies the means.

The Crown Attorney Pritt, who was allowed to peek under the skirt of the Stalinist Themis at the right time and found everything in order there, took the shameless initiative. Romain Rolland, whose moral authority is highly valued by the state publishing house of the Soviet Union, hurried to let go of one of his manifestos, in which melancholy poetry is combined with senile cynicism. The French League for Human Rights, which railed in 1917 about "the amorality of Lenin and Trotsky" when they broke the military alliance with France, did not hesitate to cover up Stalin's crimes in 1936 in the interests of the Franco-Russian agreement. As is well known, a patriotic end justifies every means. The American magazines The Nation and The New Republic closed their eyes to Yagoda's actions, as their "friendship" with the Soviet Union guaranteed their own authority. Barely a year ago these gentlemen were by no means of the opinion that Stalinism and Trotskyism were one and the same. They openly declared themselves for Stalin, for his realpolitik, for his jurisdiction and for his Jagoda. They clung to this position as long as they could.

Up to the moment of the execution of Tukhachevsky, Yakir and the others, the big bourgeoisie of the democratic countries watched the execution of the revolutionaries in the Soviet Union with pleasure, albeit with a mixture of uneasiness. In this sense, corresponded The Nation and The New RepublicNot to mention Duranty, Louis Fischer and the like prostitutes of the pen, entirely in the interests of “democratic” imperialism. The execution of the generals worried the bourgeoisie and forced them to understand that the progressive disintegration of the Stalinist apparatus made the task easier for Hitler, Mussolini and the Mikado. The New York Times began carefully but persistently to correct her own Duranty. The Parisians Temps provided some columns to shed light on the situation in the Soviet Union.The petty-bourgeois moralists and sycophants have always been nothing more than the ready-made echoes of the capitalist class. Also, following the pronouncement of the verdict of the International Commission of Inquiry, chaired by John Dewey, it became clear to anyone with even the slightest mental faculty that continuing open defense of the GPU was tantamount to the risk of political and moral death. It was only at this moment that the "friends" decided to introduce the eternal moral truths to God's beautiful earth, i.e. to withdraw into the second line of the trenches.

Frightened Stalinists and half-Stalinists do not occupy the last place among the moralists. Eugene Lyons lived on amicable terms with the Thermidorian clique for years and almost felt himself to be a Bolshevik. When he withdrew from the Kremlin - for which reason we do not care - he naturally immediately floated in the clouds of idealism. Liston Hook enjoyed such confidence from the Comintern until recently that it entrusted him with conducting the English-language propaganda for Republican Spain. Of course, that did not prevent him from giving up the Marxist ABC as soon as he had given up his post. The homeless Walter Kriwitzki, after breaking with the GPU, immediately joined bourgeois democracy. Apparently this is also the metamorphosis of the very old Charles Rappoport. People of this kind - and they are numerous -, after having thrown Stalinism overboard, seek in the postulates of abstract moral doctrine a compensation for the disappointments they experienced and the humiliations inflicted on their ideals. Asks her: “Why did you swap the Comintern or GPU camp for that of the bourgeoisie?” Her answer is ready: “Trotskyism is no better than Stalinism”.

The arrangement of the political chess pieces

“Trotskyism is revolutionary romanticism; Stalinism - Realpolitik. ”There is no trace of this banal juxtaposition with which the average Philistine until yesterday justified his friendship with the Thermidor against the revolution. Trotskyism and Stalinism are no longer opposed to one another at all, but rather identified with one another. However, they are identified with one another only in form, not in nature. After retreating to the meridian of the "categorical imperative", the Democrats actually continue to defend the GPU, just in a more hidden and perfidious way. Anyone who slanders the victim is helping the executioner. Here, as usual, morality serves politics.

The democratic Philistine and the Stalinist bureaucrat are, if not twins, then brothers in spirit. In any case, they belong to the same political camp. The current system of government in France and - if we add the anarchists - in Spain is based on the cooperation of Stalinists, Social Democrats and Liberals. The British Independent Workers' Party only looks so battered because it has not escaped the embrace of the Comintern for a number of years. The French Socialist Party excluded the Trotskyists from its ranks just as it was preparing to merge with the Stalinists. If the merger has not yet come about, it is not because of fundamental differences of opinion - which ones are left? - but because the social democratic careerists feared for their posts. On his return from Spain, Norman Thomas declared that the Trotskyists were "objectively" helping Franco, and with this subjective absurdity he rendered the GPU executioners an objective service. This righteous man expelled the American “Trotskyists” from his party at the precise point in time when the GPU put down their like-minded people in the Soviet Union and in Spain. Despite their "amorality", the Stalinists have successfully penetrated the government apparatus in many democratic countries. In the unions they live on the best of terms with bureaucrats of other shades. It is true that the Stalinists take an extremely reckless attitude towards the penal code and thereby scare off their “democratic” friends in peaceful times; but under extraordinary circumstances, as the Spanish example shows, they are all the more certain to become the leaders of the petty bourgeoisie against the proletariat.

The Second and Amsterdam Internationals did not, of course, take responsibility for the judicial crimes; they left that to the Comintern. You yourself kept calm. In private they declared that from the standpoint of "morality" they were against Stalin, but from the standpoint of politics - for him. It was only when the Popular Front in France began to develop incurable cracks and the socialists were forced to think about tomorrow that Leon Blum found the appropriate formulation of his moral indignation on the bottom of his inkwell.

Otto Bauer gently condemned the Wyschinsky jurisprudence, only to be able to support Stalin's policy with the greater "impartiality". The fate of socialism, Bauer recently declared, is linked to the fate of the Soviet Union. “And the fate of the Soviet Union,” he continues, “is the fate of Stalinism as long as the internal development of the Soviet Union does not (!) Overcome the Stalinist phase of development”. This remarkable sentence reflects the whole peasant, all of Austromarxism, all of the hypocrisy and rottenness of social democracy! "As long as" the Stalinist bureaucracy is strong enough to slaughter the progressive representatives of "internal development", Bauer holds with Stalin. If the revolutionary forces overthrow Bauer in spite of Stalin, then Bauer will generously recognize the "internal development" - i.e. with a delay of at least 10 years.

Behind the old Internationals, the London office of the centrists shuffles around, which harmoniously combines the characteristics of a kindergarten, a school for mentally retarded youngsters and a home for the disabled. The bureau's secretary, Fenner Brockway, began by stating that an investigation into the Moscow trials could "harm the Soviet Union" and proposed instead an investigation ... into Trotsky's political activity by an "impartial" commission made up of five irreconcilable ones Opponents of Trotsky should exist. Brandler and Lovestone publicly showed their solidarity with Jagoda, they only withdrew from Jeschow. Jacob Walcher, on an obviously false pretext, refused to give a testimony unfavorable to Stalin before the International Commission of Inquiry headed by John Dewey. These people's rotten morals are just a product of their rotten politics.

The most pathetic role, however, is likely to be played by the anarchists. If Stalinism and Trotskyism are one and the same thing, as they claim in every sentence, why are the Spanish anarchists helping the Stalinists to get revenge on the Trotskyists and at the same time on the revolutionary anarchists? The more honest among the anarchist theorists answer: This is how we pay for the arms shipments. In other words, the end justifies the means. But what is your goal? The anarchy? Socialism? No, only the salvation of the very same bourgeois democracy that prepared the success of fascism. Low goals correspond to low means. That is the real position of the pieces on the world's political chessboard!

Stalinism - a product of the old society

Russia made the greatest leap forward in history, a leap in which the progressive forces of the country found expression. In the present reaction, the momentum of which is proportional to that of the revolution, backwardness is taking its vengeance. Stalinism embodies this reaction. The barbarism of old Russian society on a new social basis appears all the more disgusting as it is forced to hide behind a hypocrisy unprecedented in history.

The liberals and social democrats of the West, who had been forced by the Russian Revolution to doubt their rotten ideas, now gained new courage. The moral cancer of the Stalinist bureaucracy seemed to them to be a restoration of liberalism. Stereotypical sayings are brought to light: “Every dictatorship contains the germ of its own degeneration”, “only democracy guarantees the development of personality”, and so on. From a theoretical point of view, one is amazed at the juxtaposition of democracy and dictatorship, which in the given case includes a condemnation of socialism in favor of bourgeois democracy, through its degree of ignorance and unscrupulousness. The shame of Stalinism, a historical reality, is contrasted with democracy, a suprahistoric abstraction. However, democracy also has its history in which there is no lack of shamefulness. To characterize the Soviet bureaucracy, we have borrowed the terms Thermidor and Bonapartism from the history of bourgeois democracy because - may the belated liberal doctrinaires take note - democracy was by no means born in a democratic way. Only a vulgar spirit can content itself with chewing on the subject that Bonapartism was "the natural offspring" of Jacobinism, the historical punishment for violating democracy and the like. Without the Jacobin retaliation against feudalism, the emergence of bourgeois democracy would be absolutely unthinkable. The construction of a contradiction between the concrete historical stages of Jacobinism, Thermidor and Bonapartism and the idealized abstraction of "democracy" is just as flawed as the construction of a contradiction between birth pangs and the living child.

For its part, Stalinism is not an abstraction of the “dictatorship”, but the immense bureaucratic reaction against the proletarian dictatorship in a backward and isolated country. The October Revolution destroyed privileges, waged war against social inequality, replaced the bureaucracy with self-government by the workers, abolished secret diplomacy, and strived for complete transparency of all social conditions. Stalinism reintroduced the most repulsive privileges, gave inequality a provocative character, stifled the self-activity of the masses in a police absolutism, made the administration a monopoly for the Kremlin oligarchy and renewed the power fetishism in a way that absolute monarchy would would not have dreamed.

The social reaction, wherever it occurs, is compelled to hide its real goals. The sharper the transition from revolution to reaction, the more dependent the reaction on the traditions of the revolution, i.e. the greater its fear of the masses - the more it is forced to resort to lies and forgery in the fight against the representatives of the revolution. The Stalinist judicial murders are not the result of Bolshevik "amorality". Like all significant events in history, they are a product of the concrete social struggle, and indeed the most perfidious and bitter of all: the struggle of a new aristocracy against the masses that brought them to power.

It really requires a bottomless intellectual and moral dullness to identify the reactionary police morality of Stalinism with the revolutionary morality of the Bolsheviks. Lenin's party ceased to exist a long time ago - it was crushed between internal difficulties and world imperialism. In their place arose the Stalinist bureaucracy, the transmission mechanism of imperialism. On a world scale, the bureaucracy replaced class struggle with class cooperation, and internationalism with social patriotism. In order to adapt the ruling party to the tasks of reaction, the bureaucracy “renewed” its composition by executing revolutionaries and recruiting careerists.

Every reaction renews, nourishes, and strengthens those elements of the historical past which the revolution struck a blow without finally being able to overcome them. The methods of Stalinism drive all those methods of lies, brutality and meanness, which represent the mechanism of rule of every class society, including democracy, to their highest tension, to culmination and thus to absurdity. Stalinism is nothing but a collection of all the monstrosities of the historical state, its most malicious caricature and most hideous grimace. If the representatives of the old society puritanically oppose the cancerous tumor of Stalinism with a sterilized democratic abstraction, we can rightly recommend them, like all old society, to admire themselves in the distorted mirror of the Soviet thermidor. It is true that the GPU far surpasses all other forms of rule in the nakedness of its crimes. But this can be explained by the enormous extent of the events that shake Russia, which is surrounded by decaying world imperialism.

Among the liberals and radicals there are a number of people who have adopted the method of materialistic interpretation of events and who consider themselves Marxists. However, this does not prevent them from remaining civil journalists, professors or politicians. A Bolshevik who does not apply the materialistic method in the sphere of morality is of course inconceivable. But this method serves him not only for the interpretation of events, but primarily for the creation of the revolutionary party of the proletariat. Without complete independence from the bourgeoisie and its morality, this task is impossible to accomplish. However, at present bourgeois public opinion fully rules the official labor movement, from William Green in the United States to Léon Blum and Maurice Thorez in France to Garcia Oliver in Spain. In this fact the reactionary character of the present period finds its sharpest expression.

A revolutionary Marxist cannot begin a historical mission without having broken morally with bourgeois public opinion and its agencies in the proletariat. This requires moral courage of a completely different caliber than opening your mouth in meetings and shouting “Down with Hitler!”, “Down with Franco!”. It is precisely this resolute, well thought-out, indomitable break by the Bolsheviks with conservative moral philosophy that terrifies democratic phrase-theaters, salon prophets, and coffeehouse heroes. Their complaints about the "amorality" of the Bolsheviks are derived from this. That these people identify bourgeois morality with morality "in general" can perhaps best be demonstrated in the extreme left wing of the petty bourgeoisie, in the centrist parties of the so-called London Bureau. Since this organization recognizes the program of the proletarian revolution ”, our differences with it seem at first sight of secondary nature. In reality, their "recognition" is worthless because it does not oblige them to do anything. They recognize “the proletarian revolution, as the Kantians recognize the categorical imperative, that is, as a sacred principle which, however, is inapplicable in everyday life. In the sphere of practical politics they unite with the worst enemies of the revolution (reformists and Stalinists) to fight against us. All their thinking is saturated with duplicity and lies. If the centrists do not generally commit themselves to major crimes, it is only because they remain eternally on the sidewalks of politics: they are, so to speak, little pickpockets of history. That is precisely why they feel called to regenerate the labor movement with a new moral.

On the extreme left wing of this “left” brotherhood is a small and politically completely insignificant group of German emigrants who publish the paper 'Neuer Weg'. Let's go deeper and listen to these "revolutionary" accusers of Bolshevik "amorality". In an ambiguous and half-praising tone, the 'Neue Weg' explains that the Bolsheviks differ from the other parties in their renunciation of hypocrisy - they openly admit to the principle that others only apply in silence, namely, "The end justifies them Medium". But according to the conviction of the 'New Way', this “bourgeois” sentence is incompatible with a “healthy socialist movement”. "Lies and worse are not permitted weapons of war, as Lenin still assumed".The word “still” evidently means that Lenin failed to overcome his errors only because he no longer lived to see the discovery of the New Way.

In the formulation: “Lies and worse”, “worse” obviously means violence, murder and so on, since under the same conditions violence is worse than a lie, and murder - the most extreme form of violence. So we come to the conclusion that lying, violence and murder are incompatible with a "healthy socialist movement". However, what is our relationship to the revolution? The civil war is the cruellest of all wars. Under today's technological conditions, it is inconceivable not only without violence against bystanders, but even without the murder of old people and children. Do you have to remember Spain? The only possible answer from the “friends” of republican Spain is: civil war is better than fascist slavery. But this perfectly correct answer only means that the end (democracy or socialism) under certain conditions justifies such means as violence and murder. Not to speak of lies at all! A war without lies is just as unimaginable as a machine without oil. In order to protect the meeting of Cortes (February 1, 1938) from fascist bombs, the Barcelona government even deliberately lied to journalists and its own people several times. Could she have acted otherwise? Whoever accepts the goal of defeating Franco must also accept the means: civil war with its retinue of horrors and crimes. But nevertheless lies and violence are to be condemned “in themselves”? Of course: just like the class society that creates it. A society without social contradictions will of course be a society without lies and violence. But there is no other way to build a bridge to this society than by using revolutionary, i.e. violent, means. The revolution is itself a product of class society and necessarily bears its features. From the standpoint of "eternal truths", of course, the revolution is "immoral". But that only means that idealistic morality is counterrevolutionary, i.e. it is in the service of the exploiters.

“The civil war,” the perplexed philosopher might answer, “is a deplorable exception. In peacetime, however, a healthy socialist movement should be able to do without violence and lies ”. Such an answer is only a pathetic evasion. There is no insurmountable borderline between “peaceful” class struggle and revolution. Every strike contains all the elements of civil war in the bud. Each side tries to impress the opponent by exaggerating their resolve to fight and their material resources. Through their press, agents and spies, the capitalists do their utmost to intimidate and demoralize the strikers. The workers' strike guards, for their part, are forced to resort to violence where persuasion does not help. So “lies and worse” cannot be separated from the class struggle, even in its most elementary form. It remains to be added that even the concepts of truth and lie were born out of social contradictions.

The revolution and the establishment of the hostage

Stalin arrests and shoots the children of his opponents after those opponents have been executed on false charges. Those Soviet diplomats who ventured to express their doubts about the infallibility of Yagoda or Yeshow are forcing Stalin to return from abroad by taking their families hostage. The moralists of the New way consider it necessary and time to take this opportunity to recall the fact that Trotsky “also” introduced a law on hostages in 1919. But here we must quote verbatim: “The arrest of innocent relatives by Stalin is a hideous barbarism . But it remains so even when it is decreed by Trotsky (1919). “Here we have idealistic morality in all its beauty! Its criteria are as wrong as the norms of bourgeois democracy - in both cases equality is assumed where in reality there is no trace of it.

We do not want to insist here on the fact that the 1919 decree hardly resulted in a single execution of the relatives of those officers whose betrayal not only caused the loss of innumerable lives but threatened the revolution itself with direct annihilation. In the end, that is not the question. If the revolution had shown less superfluous generosity from the start, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved. Either way, I am fully responsible for the 1919 decree. It was a necessary measure in the struggle against the oppressors. The justification of the decree lies only in the historical content of the struggle, as in general the justification of the civil war, which likewise cannot be called “hideous barbarism” without justification.

We leave it to Emil Ludwig or his like to draw the portrait of Abraham Lincoln with rosy wings on his shoulders. Lincoln's importance lies in the fact that he did not shrink from the sharpest means as soon as he deemed them necessary to the attainment of the great historical goal set for the young nation by development. The question is not even which of the two warring camps suffered or caused the greatest number of casualties. History has different measures of the cruelty of the Northern Troops and the Southern Troops in the Civil War. Let contemptuous eunuchs not tell that the slave owner who keeps the slave in chains by cunning and violence, and the slave who breaks the chains by cunning or violence, are equal to morality before the court!

After the Paris Commune was drowned in blood and the reactionary rabble of the whole world drew their banners in the dung of abuse and slander, not a few Democratic Philistines conformed to the reaction and insulted the Communards for shooting 64 hostages with the Parisian archbishop at the top. Marx did not hesitate for a moment to defend this bloody act of the Commune. In an address of the General Council of the First International, in the lines of which one can feel real seething lava, Marx first reminds us that the bourgeoisie took hostages in the struggle against both the colonial peoples and against their own working masses, then he recalls the systematic one The insane reaction shoots the captured Communist fighters and continues: “... the Commune had no choice but to take refuge in the Prussian custom of taking hostages to protect the lives of these prisoners. The life of the hostages, however, was forfeited again by the persistent shooting of prisoners by the Versailles. How could they be spared any longer after the bloodbath with which Mac-Mahon's Praetorians celebrated their invasion of Paris? Should the last counterbalance to the ruthless ferocity of the bourgeois governments be the taking of hostages - a mere mockery. ”This is how Marx defended the execution of the hostages, despite the fact that not a few Fenner Brockways, Norman Thomas and other Otto Bauer sat behind his back on the General Council. But the outrage of the world proletariat against the atrocities of the Versailles was so fresh that the reactionary moral botchers preferred to remain silent and wait for more favorable times for them, which unfortunately were to come too soon. Only after the final triumph of the reaction did the petty-bourgeois moralists, together with the trade union bureaucrats and the anarchist phrase heroes, destroy the First International.

When the October Revolution was defending itself on a 8,000-kilometer front against the combined forces of imperialism, workers around the world followed the course of the struggle with such ardent sympathy that it was fraught with great risk, the "hideous barbarism" of taking hostages before theirs Denouncing the forum. The total degeneration of the Soviet Union and the victory of reaction in a number of countries had to come before the moralists emerged from their cracks ... to help Stalin. For if it is true that the reprisals to protect the privileges of the new aristocracy have the same moral value as the revolutionary measures of the liberation struggle, then Stalin is perfectly justified, if ... yes, if the proletarian revolution itself is not perfectly directed.

At the same time, gentlemen moralists who are looking for examples of immorality in the history of the Russian Revolution are forced to close their eyes to the fact that the Spanish Revolution also resorted to taking hostages, at least as long as it was a genuine mass revolution. If the prosecutors do not dare to attack the Spanish workers for their “hideous barbarism”, it is only because the soil of the Pyrenees peninsula is still too hot for them. It is incomparably more convenient to go back to 1919. That is already history: the old people have forgotten and the young have not yet learned. For the same reason, Philistines of various shades return to Kronstadt and Machno with such tenacity: here is an open vent for moral vapors!

"Kaffir morality"

One must agree with the moralists that history chooses cruel ways. But what conclusion can be drawn from this for practical work? Leo Tolstoy recommended that we despise social conventions and perfect ourselves. Mahatma Ghandi advises us to drink goat milk. The “revolutionary” moralists of the 'New Way' are unfortunately not far from similar recipes. “We have to get rid of that Kaffir morality,” they preach, “for which injustice is only what the enemy does”. Excellent advice: "We must get rid ..." Tolstoy also recommended that we should get rid of the sins of the flesh. Judging by the statistics, however, this recommendation does not seem to be crowned with success. Our centrist mannequins have managed to rise to a morality above the classes within the framework of class societies. But for almost 2000 years it has been written: "Love your enemies", "Offer the other cheek too ...". And yet even the holy Roman father has not yet "got rid of" hating his enemies. Indeed, Satan, the enemy of mankind, is mighty!

Those who measure the actions of the exploiters and the exploited with different criteria are, according to these pitiful mannequins, at the level of “Kaffir morality”. First of all, such a contemptuous reference to the Kaffirs hardly deserves the pen of a “socialist”. Is the Kaffir morale really that bad? Let us hear what the Encyclopaedia Britannica says about it: “In their political and social relationships they display a great deal of tact and great intelligence; they are remarkably brave, belligerent, and hospitable, and honest and righteous, until, through contact with the whites, they became suspicious, vindictive, and thieving, and also acquired most of the European vices. ”One inevitably concludes that the white missionaries, the preachers of the eternal morality involved in corrupting the Kaffirs.

If we told the Kaffir slave how the workers rose up on part of our planet and caught their exploiters by surprise, he would like it very much. On the other hand, he would be very sorry to discover that the oppressors succeeded in deceiving the oppressed. A Kaffir who has not been demoralized to the core by white missionaries will never apply the same abstract moral code to the oppressor and the oppressed. But it will be easy for him to understand if one explains to him that the function of these abstract rules is to prevent the oppressed from rising up against their oppressors.

What an instructive meeting: in order to slander the Bolsheviks, the missionaries of the New way slander the Kaffirs at the same time; Moreover, in both cases the slander follows the official bourgeois line: against the revolutionaries and against the colored races. No, we prefer the Kaffirs to all missionaries, both spiritual and worldly!

However, we need not overestimate the consciousness of the moralists of the New Way and similar dead-end politicians. These people's intentions aren't that bad. But despite their intentions, they serve as levers in the mechanism of the reaction. In a period like today, when the petty-bourgeois parties, clinging to the liberal bourgeoisie or its shadow (popular front politics), paralyze the proletariat and pave the way for fascism (Spain, France ...), the Bolsheviks, i.e. the revolutionary Marxists, especially hated in the eyes of bourgeois public opinion. Almost all political pressure of our time is right to left. In the end, a tiny revolutionary minority bears all the weight of the reaction on their shoulders. This minority is called the Fourth International. Voilà l'ennemi! This is the enemy!

In the mechanism of reaction, Stalinism occupies many leading positions. All groups of bourgeois society, including the anarchists, use it in the struggle against the proletarian revolution. At the same time, the petty-bourgeois democrats are trying to shift at least 50% of the odium for the crimes of their Moscow allies to the implacable revolutionary minority. Herein lies the meaning of the new fashion phrase: "Trotskyism and Stalinism are one and the same." The opponents of the Bolsheviks and the Kaffirs thus help the reaction to slander the Party of Revolution.

The “amoral” Lenin

The Russian “Social Revolutionaries” have always been the moral individuals: basically they were nothing but ethicists. However, this did not prevent them from deceiving the Russian peasants at the time of the revolution. In the Paris organ of Kerensky, that truly ethical socialist who was Stalin's forerunner in fabricating false accusations against the Bolsheviks, another old Social Revolutionary, Zentsinov, writes: “Lenin, as is well known, taught that the communists use all possible lists to achieve the ends they desire and tricks and could and sometimes have to take refuge in concealing the truth ... ". This leads to the ritual conclusion: Stalinism is the natural offspring of Leninism.

Unfortunately, the ethical prosecutor is not even able to honestly quote. Lenin said: “One must understand ... to be ready for all sorts of ruses, tricks, illegal methods, for concealment, concealment of the truth, only to penetrate into the trade unions, to stay in them and to do communist work there at all costs According to Lenin, the need for cunning and tricks arises from the fact that the reformist bureaucracy betrays the workers to capital, incites and persecutes the revolutionaries and even uses the bourgeois police against them. In such a case, “tricks” and “hiding the truth” are legitimate weapons of self-defense against the perfidious reformist bureaucracy.

Our Zenzinov's party once did illegal work against tsarism, and later - against the Bolsheviks. In both cases she resorted to lists, gimmicks, false passports and other forms of "hiding the truth". All of these means were seen not only as ethical but also heroic because they corresponded to the political aims of the petty bourgeoisie. But the situation changes immediately as soon as the proletarian revolutionaries are forced to adopt conspiratorial measures against petty-bourgeois democracy. As we can see, the key to the morale of these gentlemen is of class!

The “amoral” Lenin openly advises in the press that military cunning should be used against traitorous leaders. And the moral Zenzinov maliciously crosses the beginning and end of the quote in order to deceive the reader: the ethical accuser turns out to be, as usual, a petty swindler. It was not for nothing that Lenin loved to repeat: it is very difficult to find a conscientious opponent!

A worker who does not hide the "truth" about the plans of the strikers from the capitalist is an ordinary traitor who deserves contempt and boycott. The soldier who reveals the "truth" to the enemy is condemned as a spy. Kerensky tried to accuse the Bolsheviks of having communicated the "truth" to Ludendorff's General Staff. It seems that even the "holy truth" is not an end in itself. Above it are authoritative criteria which, as the analysis shows, have a class character.

A life-and-death struggle is unthinkable without military cunning, i.e. without lies and deceit.Aren't the German workers allowed to deceive Hitler's police? Or is the attitude of the Russian Bolsheviks "immoral" when deceiving the GPU? Every pious citizen applauds the skill of the police when they use cunning to catch a dangerous criminal. And in the struggle to overthrow imperialist criminals, should the use of cunning be forbidden?

Norman Thomas speaks about "that strange communist amorality for which only the party and its power count". In doing so, Norman Thomas throws today's Comintern, i.e. the conspiracy of the Kremlin bureaucracy against the working class, into one heap with the Bolshevik Party, which embodied the conspiracy of the advanced workers against the bourgeoisie. We have already sufficiently exposed this thoroughly dishonest juxtaposition above. Stalinism only hides behind the cult of the party; in reality he is smashing the party and kicking it in the feces. It is true, however, that to a Bolshevik, the party means everything. This surprises the salon socialist Thomas, because he rejects such a relationship between revolutionary and revolution because he himself is only a citizen with a socialist "ideal". In the eyes of Thomas and his ilk, the party is only a secondary instrument for electoral combinations and similar purposes, nothing more. His personal life, interests, ties and moral criteria are outside the party. With hostile astonishment he looks down on the Bolsheviks, for whom the party is a weapon for the revolutionary reshaping of society, including its morality. For a revolutionary Marxist there can be no contradiction between personal morality and the interests of the party, since in his consciousness the party embodies the highest tasks and goals of humanity. It would be naive to assume that Thomas had a higher view of morality than the Marxists. He has only a low conception of the party.

"Everything that arises is worth it to perish," says the dialectician Goethe. However, the downfall of the Bolshevik Party - an episode in world reaction - does not diminish its historical significance. In the period of its revolutionary rise, i.e. when it really represented the proletarian vanguard, it was the most honest party in history. Of course she deceived the class enemy wherever she could; on the other hand, she was telling the workers the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It was only thanks to this that it won the confidence of the workers more than any other party in the world.

The ruling class clerks call the party's organizers "amoral". In the eyes of the conscious workers, this reproach has the character of a compliment. It means: Lenin refused to recognize the moral rules which the slave owners established for their slaves without ever complying with them; he called on the proletariat to extend the class struggle to the sphere of morality as well. Whoever submits to the rules set by the enemy can never defeat that enemy!

Lenin's “amorality”, that is, his rejection of a morality above the classes, did not prevent him from remaining true to one and the same ideal throughout his life, devoting all his being to the cause of the oppressed, the greatest conscientiousness in the field of ideas to develop the greatest fearlessness for the act, to behave towards the "ordinary" worker, the defenseless woman, the child without the slightest trace of arrogance. Doesn't it make sense that “amorality” in the given case is only a synonym for a higher human morality?

An instructive episode

Here it is appropriate to report an episode which, despite its modest dimensions, does not illustrate the difference between its morals and ours so badly. In 1935, in a letter to my Belgian friends, I developed the view that the attempt by a young revolutionary party to form "its own" trade unions was tantamount to suicide. You have to go to the workers where they are. But then you have to keep an opportunistic apparatus alive through your contributions? “Of course,” I replied, “in order to acquire the right to fight the reformists, one has to pay them a temporary contribution”. But the reformists won't allow us to fight them? “That's right,” I replied, “the struggle requires conspiratorial measures. The reformists are the political police of the bourgeoisie within the working class. We must act without their permission and against their prohibition .. ”. During an accidental search of Comrade D.'s house, if I am not mistaken, in connection with the matter of arms deliveries to the Spanish workers, the Belgian police confiscated my letter. After a few days it was published. The press of Vanderveldes, de Mans and Spaak naturally hurled their lightning bolts against my “Machiavellianism” and “Jesuitism”. And who are these accusers? Vandervelde, President of the Second International for many years, has long been a reliable servant of Belgian capital. De Man, who in a series of difficult tomes ennobled socialism with an idealistic morality and courted religion, seized the first best opportunity to betray the workers and become an ordinary bourgeois minister. Spaak's case is even more lovely. A year and a half ago, this gentleman belonged to the left-wing socialist opposition and visited me in France to discuss the methods of fighting against Vandervelde's bureaucracy with me. I took the same views as those later contained in my letter. But a year after his visit, Spaak preferred roses to thorns. He betrayed his comrades from the opposition and became one of the most cynical ministers in Belgian capital. In the trade unions and in their own party, these gentlemen stifled every critical voice, systematically bribe and corrupt the advanced workers and just as systematically exclude the recalcitrant. They differ from the GPU only in that they have not shed blood yet - as good patriots they save the workers' blood for the coming imperialist war. It is clear: only a figment of the devil, a moral monster, a "Kaffir", a Bolshevik can advise the workers to observe the rules of conspiracy in the fight against these gentlemen!

From the standpoint of Belgian law, of course, there was nothing in my letter to be punishable. The "democratic" police had an obligation to return the letter to the addressee with an apology. It was the duty of the Socialist Party to protest the search of the house, which was dictated by concern for General Franco's interests. But the socialists did not hesitate to use the services of the incorrect police - otherwise they would have missed a happy opportunity to once again show the superiority of their morality over the amorality of the Bolsheviks. Every detail in this episode is symbolic. The Belgian Social Democrats poured out buckets of outrage on me just as their Norwegian like-minded people put my wife and me under lock and key to prevent our defense against the GPU's charges. The Norwegian government knew very well that the Moscow charges were false: so the officious Social Democratic newspaper wrote it openly in the first few days. But Moscow touched the wallets of the Norwegian shipowners and fish wholesalers - and the Social Democrats immediately got on all fours. The leader of the party, Martin Tranmael, is not only an authority on moral issues, but apparently a righteous person: he does not drink, smoke, enjoy meat and bathe in an ice-hole in winter. That did not prevent him, after he had us arrested on the orders of the GPU, from slandering me in the columns of his newspaper by a Norwegian agent of the GPU, a certain Jakob Fries - a fellow without honor or conscience. But enough.

The moral of these gentlemen consists of conventional recipes and idioms behind which they hide their interests, appetites and fears. The majority of them, out of ambition or lust for profit, are ready for all meanness, such as slander of conviction, disloyalty and betrayal. In the high sphere of personal interests, the end justifies every means. That is precisely why they acquire a special moral code, permanent and elastic like a good pair of braces. They loathe anyone who exposes their professional secrets to the masses. In "peaceful" times, they express their hatred in slander - in the tone of the alley or in "philosophical" language. In times of sharp social conflict - as is the case in Spain today - these moralists, hand in hand with the GPU, assassinate the revolutionaries. To justify themselves to themselves, they repeat: "Trotskyism and Stalinism are one and the same."

The dialectical interrelationship between end and means

A means can only be justified by the end it pursues. But the goal itself needs justification. From the Marxist point of view, which expresses the historical interests of the proletariat, the goal is justified if it leads to increasing man's power over nature and destroying man's power over man.

“So that means that everything is allowed to achieve this goal?” The Philistine will ask sarcastically - and he thereby proves that he has not understood anything. It is permissible, so we answer, what really leads to the liberation of mankind. Since this goal can only be achieved through revolution, the liberation morality of the proletariat is necessarily revolutionary in character. It is implacably opposed not only to every religious dogma, but also to all idealistic fetishes and philosophical gendarmes of the ruling class. Its rules are derived from the development laws of society, i.e. primarily from the class struggle, the highest of all laws.

“All well and good,” the moralist will stubbornly reply, “but does that mean that all means are allowed in the struggle against the capitalists: lies, fraud, betrayal, murder and so on?” Those means, and, are allowed and compulsory only those means, we answer, which unite the revolutionary proletariat, fill its hearts with irreconcilable hostility to oppression, which teach it to despise official morality and its democratic followers, fill it with the consciousness of its own historical mission, its courage and raise one's spirit of sacrifice in battle. It follows precisely from this that not all means are permitted. If we say that the end justifies the means, we conclude that the great revolutionary end rejects such base means and ways which incite one section of the proletariat against other sections, or make the workers happy without their own intervention want to, or lower the self-confidence of the masses and the belief in their organization and replace it with the cult of the leader. First and foremost, and absolutely irreconcilably, revolutionary morality rejects servility towards the bourgeoisie and arrogance towards the workers, that is, those qualities with which the petty-bourgeois pedants and moralists are thoroughly saturated.

Of course, these criteria do not provide a ready-made answer to the question of what is permitted in each individual case and what is not. There can be no such automatic replies. The problems of revolutionary morality are linked to the problems of revolutionary strategy and tactics. The correct answer to this question gives the living experience of movement in the light of theory.

The dialectical materialist knows no dualism between end and means. The goal arises naturally from the historical process. The means are organically subordinate to the goal. The immediate goal becomes the means to a distant goal. In his drama Franz von Sickingen Ferdinand Lassalle puts the following words in the mouth of one of the heroes:

“Don't show the goal, show the way.
Because the way and goal are so interwoven down here,
That one thing always changes with the other
And another way also creates another goal. "

Lassalle's verses are by no means perfect. Worse still is the fact that Lassalle himself deviated from the rule expressed above in practical politics - suffice it to recall that he himself entered into secret agreements with Bismarck! But the dialectical correlation between means and goal is quite correctly expressed in the sentences quoted above. You have to sow wheat seeds to reap wheat ears.

For example, from the standpoint of "pure morality", is individual terror allowed or prohibited? In this abstract form the question does not exist for us at all. The conservative Swiss citizens still give official praise to the terrorist Wilhelm Tell. Our sympathies are wholeheartedly on the side of the Irish, Russian, Polish and Indian nationalists in their struggle against national and political oppression. The murdered Kirov, a rude satrap, does not arouse any sympathy. Our relationship with the murderer remains neutral only because we do not know the motives that guided him. If it became known that Nikolayev had deliberately retaliated for the violations of workers' rights committed by Kirov, our sympathies would be wholly on the side of the murderer. However, it is not the question of subjective motives but that of objective expediency that is decisive for us. Does the given means really lead to the goal? As for individual terror, both theory and experience testify that this is not the case. We say to the terrorist: it is impossible to replace the masses, only in the mass movement can you find a suitable expression for your heroism. However, in the conditions of civil war, the assassination of individual oppressors ceases to be an act of individual terror. If we assume that a revolutionary blew General Franco and his staff up, this would hardly arouse moral indignation, even on the part of the democratic eunuchs. In civil war conditions, such an act would be perfectly politically expedient. So even in the most acute question - the murder of man by man - the moral absolutes prove to be unsuitable. The moral values ​​result together with the political ones from the inner necessities of the struggle.

The liberation of the workers can only be the work of the workers themselves. Therefore there is no greater crime than deceiving the masses, passing defeat for victories and friends for enemies, bribing labor leaders, fabricating legends, assembling false trials, in one word: doing what the Stalinists do. These means can only serve one end: to prolong the rule of a clique already condemned by history. But they cannot be used to liberate the masses. That is why the Fourth International wages a life and death struggle against Stalin.

The masses, of course, are by no means infallible. We are far from idealizing the masses. We have seen them under different conditions, in different epochs, and also in the most severe political upheavals. We got to know their strong and weak sides. Its strong points: determination, spirit of sacrifice, heroism, have always found their clearest expression in times of revolutionary upswing. During this period the Bolsheviks were at the forefront of the masses. Then another chapter of history began, which washed the weak sides of the oppressed to the surface: disparity, lack of culture, too limited a horizon. The masses slackened after the tension, were disappointed, lost their self-confidence - and paved the way for the new aristocracy. During this period the Bolsheviks ("Trotskyists") found themselves isolated from the masses. We have practically seen two such great historical cycles: 1897-1905, years of the flood; 1907-1913, years of ebb; 1917-1923, the period of a boom unprecedented in history, finally a new period of reaction that has not ended today. In these tremendous events the "Trotskyists" learned the rhythm of history, i.e. the dialectic of the class struggle. They also learned, and it appears, to some extent, with success, how to subordinate their subjective plans and programs to this objective rhythm. They learned not to despair of the fact that the laws of history neither depend on their personal taste nor are subordinate to their moral criteria. They learned to subordinate their personal desires to the laws of history. They learned not to be frightened by even the most powerful enemies when their power contradicts the laws of historical development.They know how to swim against the current in the deep certainty that the new historical tide will carry them to the other bank. Not all will reach this bank, many will drown. But to participate in this movement with open eyes and a tense will - only that can give a thinking being the highest moral satisfaction.


Coyoacán D.F., February 16, 1938
Leo D. Trotsky

P.S. I wrote these lines in those days when my son, unbeknownst to me, was struggling with death. I dedicate this little piece of work to his memory, which I hope would have met with his approval. Leo Sedov was a real revolutionary and despised the Pharisees. - L.T.


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Last updated on July 22, 2008