the questioning of the accused
Christian Georgievitch Rakovsky
by Gavriil Gavriilovitch Kusmin
on the 26th january, 1938.
Gavriil G. Kusmin. In accordance with our agreement at the Lubianka, I had appealed for a last chance for you ; your presence in this house indicates that I had succeeded in this. Let us see if you will not deceive us.
Christian G. Rakovsky. I do not wish and shall not do that.
G.But first of all : a well-meant warning. Now we are concerned with the real truth. Not the official truth, that which is to figure at the trial in the light of the confessions of the accused. . . This is something which, as you know, is fully subject to practical considerations, or considerations of State as they would say in the West. The demands of international politics will force us to hide the whole truth, the real truth . . . Whatever may be the course of the trial, but governments and peoples will only be told that which they should know. But he who must know everything, Stalin, must also know all this. Therefore, whatever may be your words here they cannot make your position worse. You must know that they will not worsen your crime but, on the contrary, they can give the desired results in your favour. You will be able to save your life, which at this moment is already lost. So now I have told you this, but now let us see : you will all admit that you are Hitlers spies and receive wages from the Gestapo and OKW .
Is that not so?
G. And you are Hitlers spies?
G.No, Rakovsky, no. Tell the real truth, but not the court proceedings one.
We are not spies of Hitler, we hate Hitler as you can hate him, as Stalin can hate him ; perhaps even more so, but this is a very complex question.
G.I shall help you. . . By chance I also know one or two things. You, the Trotzkyists, had contacts with the German Staff. Is that not so ?
G.From which period ?
I do not know the exact date, but soon after the fall of Trotzky. Of course before Hitlers coming to power.
G.Therefore let us be exact : you were neither personal spies of Hitler, nor of his regime.
Exactly. We were such already earlier.
G.And for what purpose ? With the aim of giving Germany victory and some Russian territories ?
No, in no case.
G.Therefore as ordinary spies, for money ?
For money ? Nobody received a single Mark from Germany. Hitler has not enough money to buy, for example, the Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, who has at his disposal freely a budget which is greater than the total wealth of Morgan and Vanderbilt, and who does not have to account for his use of the money.
G.Well, then for what reason?
May I speak quite freely?
G.Yes, I ask you to do so ; for that reason you have been invited.
Did not Lenin have higher aims when he received help from Germany in order to enter Russia ? And is it necessary to accept as true those libellous inventions which had been circulated to accuse him ? Was he not also called a spy of the Kaiser ? His relations with the Emperor and the German intervention in the affair of the sending to Russia of the Bolshevik destroyers are quite clear.
G.Whether it is true or not does not have any bearing on the present question.
No, permit me to finish. Is it not a fact that the activity of Lenin was in the beginning advantageous to the German troops ? Permit me. . . There was the separate peace of Brest-Litovsk, at which huge territories of the USSR were ceded to Germany. Who had declared defeatism as a weapon of the Bolsheviks in 1913 ? Lenin. I know by heart his words from his letter to Gorky : War between Austria and Russia would be a most useful thing for the revolution, but it is hardly possible that Francis-Joseph and Nicholas would present us with this opportunity. As you see, we, the so-called Trotzkyists, the inventors of the defeat in 1905, continue at the present stage the same line, the line of Lenin.
G.With a small difference, Rakovsky ; at present there is Socialism in the USSR, not the Tsar.
You believe that ?
In the existence of Socialism in the USSR ?
G.Is the Soviet Union not Socialist ?
For me only in name. It is just here that we find the true reason for the opposition. Agree with me, and by the force of pure logic you must agree, that theoretically, rationally, we have the same right to sayno, as Stalin can sayyes. And if for the triumph of Communism defeatism can be justified, then he who considers that Communism has been destroyed by the bonapartism of Stalin and that he betrayed it, has the same right as Lenin to become a defeatist.
G.I think, Rakovsky, that you are theorizing thanks to your manner of making wide use of dialectics. It is clear that if many people were present here, I would prove this ; all right, I accept your argument as the only one possible in your position, but nevertheless I think that I could prove to you that this is nothing other than a sophism. But let us postpone this for another occasion ; some day it will come. And I hope that you will give me the chance to reply. But at the present moment I shall only say this : if your defeatism and the defeat of the USSR has as its object the restoration of Socialism in the USSR, real Socialism, according to youTrotzkyism, then, insofar as we have destroyed their leaders and cadres, defeatism and the defeat of the USSR has neither an objective nor any sense. As a result of defeat now there would come the enthronement of some Führer or fascist Tsar. Is that not so ?
It is true. Without flattery on my partyour deduction is splendid.
G.Well, if, as I assume, you assert this sincerely, then we have achieved a great deal : I am a Stalinist and you a Trotzkyist ; we have achieved the impossible. We have reached the point at which our views coincide. The coincidence lies in that at the present moment the USSR must not be destroyed.
I must confess that I had not expected to face such a clever person. In fact at the present stage and for some years we cannot think of the defeat of the USSR and to provoke it, as it is known that we are at present in such a position, that we can not seize power. We, the Communists, would derive no profit from it. This is exact and coincides with your view. We can not be interested now in the collapse of the Stalinist State ; I say this and at the same time I assert that this State, apart from all that has been said, is anti-Communistic. You see that I am sincere.
G.I see that. This is the only way in which we can come to terms. I would ask you, before you continue, to explain to me that which seems to me a contradiction : if the Soviet State is anti- Communistic to you, then why should you not wish its destruction at the given moment ? Someone else might be less anti-Communistic and then there would be fewer obstacles to the restoration of your pure Communism.
No, no, this deduction is too simple. Although the Stalinist bonapartism also opposes Communism as the napoleonic one opposed the revolution, but the circumstance is clear that, nevertheless, the USSR continues to preserve its Communistic form and dogma ; this is formal and not real Communism. And thus, like the disappearance of Trotzky gave Stalin the possibility automatically to transform real Communism into the formal one, so also the disappearance of Stalin will allow us to transform his formal Communism into a real one. One hour would suffice for us. Have you understood me ?
G.Yes, of course ; you have told us the classical truth that nobody destroys that which he wants to inherit. Well, all right ; all else is sophistical agility. You rely on the assumption which can be easily disproved : the assumption of Stalins anti-Communism. Is there private property in the USSR ? Is there personal profit ? Classes ? I shall not continue to base myself on facts for what ?
I have already agreed that there exists formal Communism. All that you enumerate are merely forms.
G.Yes ? For what purpose ? From mere obstinacy ?
Of course not. This is a necessity. It is impossible to eliminate the materialistic evolution of history. The most that can be done is to hold it up. And at what a price ? At the cost of its theoretical acceptance, in order to destroy it in practice. The force which draws humanity towards Communism is so unconquerable that that same force, but distorted, opposed to itself, can only achieve a slowing down of development ; more accuratelyto slow down the progress of the permanent revolution.
G.An example ?
The most obvious with Hitler. He needed Socialism for victory over Socialism : it is this his very anti-Socialist Socialism which is National-Socialism. Stalin needs Communism in order to defeat Communism. The parallel is obvious. But, notwithstanding Hitlers anti-Socialism and Stalins anti-Communism, both, to their regret and against their will, transcendentally create Socialism and Communism. . . ; they and many others. Whether they want it or not, whether they know it or not, but they create formal Socialism and Communism, which we, the Communist-Marxists, must inevitably inherit.
G.Inheritance ? Who inherits ? Trotzkyism is completely liquidated.
Although you say so, you do not believe it. However great may be the liquidations, we Communists will survive them. The long arm of Stalin and his police cannot reach all Communists.
G.Rakovsky, I ask you, and if necessary command, to refrain from offensive hints. Do not go too far in taking advantage of your diplomatic immunity.
Do I have credentials ? Whose ambassador am I ?
G.Precisely of that unreachable Trotzkyism, if we agree to call him so.
I cannot be a diplomat of Trotzkyism, of which you hint. I have not been given that right to represent it, and I have not taken this role on myself. You have given it to me.
G.I begin to trust you. I take note in your favour that at my hint about this Trotzkyism you did not deny it. This is already a good beginning.
But how can I deny it ? After all, I myself mentioned it.
G.Insofar as we have recognized the existence of this special Trotzkyism by our mutual arrangement, I want you to give definite facts, which are necessary for the investigation of the given coincidence.
Yes, I shall be able to mention that which you consider necessary to know and I shall do it on my own initiative, but I shall not be able to assert that this is always the thinking also of Them.
G.Yes, I shall look on it like that.
We agreed that at the present moment the opposition cannot be interested in defeatism and the fall of Stalin, insofar as we do not have the physical possibility of taking his place. This is what we both agree. At present this is an incontrovertible fact. However, there is in existence a possible aggressor. There he is, that great nihilist Hitler, who is aiming with his terrible weapon of the Wehrmacht at the whole horizon. Whether we want it or not, but he will use it against the USSR ? Let us agree that for us this is the decisive unknown fact or, do you consider that the problem has been correctly stated ?
G.It has been well put. But I can say that for me there is no unknown factor. I consider the attack of Hitler on the USSR to be inevitable.
G.Very simple; because he who controls it is inclined towards attack. Hitler is only the condottiere of international Capitalism.
I agree that there is a danger, but from that to the assumption on this ground of the inevitability of his attack on the USSR there is a whole abyss.
G.The attack on the USSR is determined by the very essence of Fascism. In addition he is impelled towards it by all those Capitalist States which had allowed him to re-arm and to take all the necessary economic and strategical bases. This is quite obvious.
You forget something very important. The re-armament of Hitler and the assistance he received at the present time from the Versailles nations (take good note of this) were received by him during a special period, when we could still have become the heirs of Stalin in the case of his defeat, when the opposition still existed. . . Do you consider this fact to be a matter of chance or only a coincidence in time ?
G.I do not see any connexion between the permission of the Versailles Powers of German re-armament and the existence of the opposition. . . The trajectory of Hitlerism is in itself clear and logical. The attack on the USSR was part of his programme already a long time ago. The destruction of Communism and expansion in the East these are dogmas from the book Mein Kampf, that Talmud of National-Socialism..., but that your defeatists wanted to take advantage of this threat to the USSR that is, of course, in accordance with your train of thought.
Yes, at a first glance this appears to be natural and logical, too logical and natural for the truth.
G.To prevent this happening, so that Hitler would not attack us, we would have to entrust ourselves to an alliance with France . . ., but that would be a naivete. It would mean that we believe that Capitalism would be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of saving Communism.
If we shall continue the discussion only on the foundation of those conceptions which apply for use at mass meetings, then you are quite right. But if you are sincere in saying this then, forgive me, I am disappointed ; I had thought that the politics of the famous Stalinist police stand on a higher level.
G.The Hitlerist attack on the USSR is, in addition, a dialectical necessity ; it is the same as the inevitable struggle of the classes in the international plane. At the side of Hitler, inevitably, there will stand the whole global Capitalism.
And so, believe me, that in the light of your scholastic dialectics, I have formed a very negative opinion about the political culture of Stalinism. I listen to your words as Einstein could listen to a schoolboy talking about physics in four dimensions. I see that you are only acquainted with elementary Marxism, i.e. with the demagogic, popular one.
G.If your explanation will not be too long and involved, I should be grateful to you for some explanation of this relativity or quantum of Marxism.
Here there is no irony ; I am speaking with the best intentions. . . In this same elementary Marxism, which is taught even in your Stalinist University, you can find the statement which contradicts the whole of your thesis about the inevitability of the Hitlerist attack on the USSR. You are also taught that the cornerstone of Marxism is the assertion that, supposedly, contradictions are the incurable and fatal illness of Capitalism . . . Is that not so ?
G.Yes, of course.
But if things are in fact such that we accuse Capitalism of being imbued with continuous Capitalistic contradictions in the sphere of economics, then why should it necessarily suffer from them also in politics ? The political and economic is of no importance in itself ; this is a condition or measurement of the social essence, but contradictions arise in the social sphere, and are reflected simultaneously in the economic or political ones, or in both at the same time. It would be absurd to assume fallibility in economics and simultaneously infallibility in politics which is something essential in order that an attack on the USSR should become inevitable according to your postulate absolutely essential.
G.This means that you rely in everything on the contradictions, fatality and inevitability of the errors which must be committed by the bourgeoisie, which will hinder Hitler from attacking the USSR. I am a Marxist, Rakovsky, but here, between ourselves, in order not to provide the pretext for anger to a single activist, I say to you that with all my faith in Marx I would not believe that the USSR exists thanks to the mistakes of its enemies. . . And I think that Stalin shares the same view.
But I do think so. . . Do not look at me like that, as I am not joking and am not mad.
G.Permit me at least to doubt it, until you will have proved your assertions.
Do you now see that I had reasons for qualifying your Marxist culture as being doubtful ? Your arguments and reactions are the same as any rank and file activist.
G.And they are wrong ?
Yes, they are correct for a small administrator, for a bureaucrat and for the mass. They suit the average fighter. . . They must believe this and repeat everything as it has been written. Listen to me by way of the completely confidential. With Marxism you get the same results as with the ancient esoteric religions. Their adherents had to know only that which was the most elementary and crude, insofar as by this one provoked their faith, i.e. that which is absolutely essential, both in religion and in the work of revolution.
G.Do you not now want to open up to me the mystical Marxism, something like yet another freemasonry ?
No, no esoterics. On the contrary, I shall explain it with the maximal clarity. Marxism, before being a philosophical, economic and political system, is a conspiracy for the revolution. And as for us the revolution is the only absolute reality, it follows that philosophy, economics and politics are true only insofar as they lead to revolution. The fundamental truth (let us call it subjective) does not exist in economics, politics or even morals : in the light of scientific abstraction it is either truth or error, but for us, who are subject to revolutionary dialectic, it is only truth. And insofar as to us, who are subject to revolutionary dialectic, it is only truth, and therefore the sole truth, then it must be such for all that is revolutionary, and such it was to Marx. In accordance with this we must act. Remember the phrase of Lenin, in reply to someone who demonstrated by way of argument that, supposedly, his intention contradicted reality : I feel it to be real was his answer. Do you not think that Lenin spoke nonsense ? No, for him every reality; every truth was relative in the face of the sole and absolute one: the revolution. Marx was a genius. If his works had amounted to only the deep criticism of Capitalism, then even that would have been an unsurpassed scientific work; but in those places where his writing reaches the level of mastery, there comes the effect of an apparently ironical work. Communism he says must win because Capital will give it that victory, though its enemy. Such is the magisterial thesis of Marx....
Can there be a greater irony ? And then, in order that he should be believed, it was enough for him to depersonalize Capitalism and Communism, having transformed the human individual into a consciously thinking individual, which he did with the extraordinary talent of a juggler. Such was his sly method, in order to demonstrate to the Capitalists that they are a reality of Capitalism and that Communism can triumph as the result of inborn idiocy ; since without the presence of immortal idiocy in homo economico there could not appear in him continuous contradictions as proclaimed by Marx. To be able to achieve the transformation of homo sapiens into homo stultum is to possess magical force, capable of bringing man down to the first stage of the zoological ladder, i.e. to the level of the animal. Only if there is homo stultum in the epoch of the apogee of Capitalism could Marx formulate his axiomatic proposition : contradictions plus time equal Communism Believe me, when we who are initiated into this, contemplate the representation of Marx, for example the one which is placed above the main entrance to the Lubianka, then we cannot prevent the inner explosion of laughter by which Marx had infected us ; we see how he laughs into his beard at all humanity.
G.And you are still capable of laughing at the most revered scientist of the epoch ?
Ridicule, me ? . . . This is the highest admiration ! In order that Marx should be able to deceive so many people of science, it was essential that he should tower above them all. Well : in order to have judgements about Marx in all his greatness, we must consider the real Marx, Marx the revolutionary, Marx, judged by his manifesto. This means Marx the conspirator, as during his life the revolution was in a condition of conspiracy. It is not for nothing that the revolution is indebted for its development and its recent victories to these conspirators.
G.Therefore you deny the existence of the dialectical process of contradictions in Capitalism, which lead to the final triumph of Communism ?
You can be sure that if Marx believed that Communism will achieve victory only thanks to the contradictions in Capitalism, then he would not have once, never, mentioned the contradictions on the thousands of pages of his scientific revolutionary work. Such was the categorical imperative of the realistic nature of Marx : not the scientific, but the revolutionary one. The revolutionary and conspirator will never disclose to his opponent the secret of his triumph... He would never give the information ; he would give him disinformation which you use in counter-conspiracy. Is that not so ?
G.However, in the end we have reached the conclusion (according to you) that there are no contradictions in Capitalism, and if Marx speaks of them then it is only a revolutionary strategical method. That is so ? But the colossal and ever-growing contradictions in Capitalism are there to see. And so we get the conclusion that Marx, having lied, spoke the truth.
You are dangerous as a dialectician, when you destroy the brakes of scholastic dogmatism and give free rein to your own inventiveness. So it is, that Marx spoke the truth when he lied. He lied when he led into error, having defined the contradictions as being continuous in the history of the economics of capital and called them natural and inevitable, but at the same time he stated the truth because he knew that the contradictions would be created and would grow in an increasing progression until they reach their apogee.
G.This means that with you there is an antithesis ?
There is no antithesis here. Marx deceives for tactical reasons about the origin of the contradictions in Capitalism, but not about their obvious reality. Marx knew how they were created, how they became more acute and how things went towards general anarchy in Capitalistic production, which came before the triumph of the Communist revolution. . . He knew it would happen because he knew those who created the contradictions.
G.It is a very strange revelation and piece of news, this assertion and exposal of the circumstance that that which leads Capitalism to its suicide, by the well-chosen expression of the bourgeois economist Schmalenbach, in support of Marx, is not the essence and inborn law of Capitalism. But I am interested to know if we will reach the personal by this path ?
Have you not felt this intuitively ? Have you not noticed how in Marx words contradict deeds ? He declares the necessity and inevitability of Capitalist contradictions, proving the existence of surplus value and accumulation, i.e. he proves that which really exists. He nimbly invents the proposition that to a greater concentration of the means of production corresponds a greater mass of the proletariat, a greater force for the building of Communism, is that not so ? Now go on : at the same time as this assertion he founds the International. Yet the International is, in the work of the daily struggle of the classes, a reformist, i.e. an organization whose purpose is the limitation of the surplus value and, where possible, its elimination. For this reason, objectively, the International is a counter-revolutionary organization and anti-Communist, in accordance with Marxs theory.
G.Now we get that Marx is a counter-revolutionary and an anti-Communist.
Well, now you see how one can make use of the original Marxist culture. It is only possible to describe the International as being counter-revolutionary and anti-Communist, with logical and scientific exactness, if one does not see in the facts anything more than the directly visible result, and in the texts only the letter. One comes to such absurd conclusions, while they seem to be obvious, when one forgets that words and facts in Marxism are subject to strict rules of the higher science : the rules of conspiracy and revolution.
1 OKWOberkommando der Wehrmacht, Supreme Command of the German Army Trans.