Rakovsky on the Stalinist state

“From a proletarian state with bureaucratic deformations — as Lenin defined the political form of our State — we are passing to a bureaucratic state with proletarian communist survivals. Under our eyes has formed, and is continuing to form, a great class of governors with its own internal divisions, which grows by prudent co-option, direct or indirect (bureaucratic promotion, fictional elections). What unites this novel class is a form, also novel, of private property, that is, the possession of State power. ‘The bureaucracy possesses the State as its private property’, wrote Marx…”

That passage comes from the “Declaration of April 1930”, written from the internal exile into which all the Left Opposition leaders were sent at the start of 1928. The declaration was signed by Kossior, Muralov, and Kasparova as well as Rakovsky.

The passage above and the preceding paragraph are omitted (without comment) from the translation of that Declaration contained in the English-language volume of Rakovsky’s “Selected Writings on Opposition in the USSR 1923-30”, edited by Gus Fagan. There, the sources used are cited as the Russian-language Bulletin of the Opposition (published in exile by the Trotskyists) and Lutte de Classe (the French Trotskyist magazine at the time).

I have taken the passage above from Cahiers Léon Trotsky no.6, 1980, p.97 (see below). That journal cites its source as the version in Lutte de Classe but says it has “revised and corrected” the translation from a version of the declaration found in the Trotsky archives at Harvard University. It seems unlikely that Bulletin and Lutte de Classe omitted those paragraphs, since Leon Sedov (“N Markin”)m who managed the production of the Bulletin, drew special attention to the bit about the bureaucracy becoming a class in an article for the US Trotskyist paper The Militant of 1 December 1930 https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/sedov/1930/12/exiled.htm.

As Paul noted in our discussion, the passage above also appears (unsourced) in Boris Souvarine’s Stalin, translated in 1939 by C L R James from the French original of 1935.

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