Dennis/Michael Berrell's historical falsehoods
- By Bob Gould
Michael or Dennis Berrell, or whoever he is from day to day (just so
the rest of us aren't terminally confused he should consider using
one or another name consistently) has put up a post about the Left
Opposition that is almost entirely inaccurate and false.
He repeats the Stalinist accusation of the time that the Left
Opposition wanted to prematurely abolish the NEP. That was always a
Stalinist falsification. It's not defensible to make that kind of
assertion without citing some sources. There's a fairly substantial
literature on the Soviet economic debates of the 1920s, by Marxists
and serious bourgeois academics, and some documents from those
debates are available on the web.
Richard Day, Moshe Lewin and Alec Nove and R.V. Daniels have
published books and articles of considerable length on those Soviet
economic debates. Those three scholars are, in fact, the major
authorities. On Ozleft are a couple of articles from the Slavic
Review, one about the Left Oppositionist Preobrazhensky, and the
other about the Bukharin associate Sokolnikov.
None of the authorities who've studied the literature accuse Trotsky
and the Left Opposition of campaigning for the premature abolition of
All the books and documents of the struggle underline that the
economic debate took place within the framework of accepting the NEP
but struggling to modify or improve it in various ways. The argument
between the Left and Right Oppositions was about allocating resources
within the NEP framework.
It was the gravedigger of the revolution, Stalin, who emerged from
the shadows to smash the NEP, abolish the market and introduce forced
collectivisation. Berrell seems to be so ignorant that he's not aware
that Trotsky attacked forced collectivisation and the abolition of
the NEP in The Revolution Betrayed.
He seems unaware that Rakovsky attacked the abolition of the NEP on
behalf of the Left Opposition in his three Letters to the Party in
successive years in the early 1930s, sent from the Stalinist prison
in which he was confined.
Berrell has a bee in his bonnet about justifying the capitalist
restoration in China and he tries to fit past socialist history into
that framework, but he should do us the courtesy of at least treating
the history with respect and care. It seems pretty clear that Berrell
is working his way towards developing a justification of Stalin's
There's nothing in the work of any of the serious scholars in this
field that justifies the proposition that the Left Opposition wanted
to abolish the NEP.
We're all pretty busy, and more immediate political arguments often
seem more pressing than historical questions, but people should not
be allowed to get away with perpetuating total myths about socialist
and communist history by reviving hoary and discredited Stalinist