New Opposition

New Opposition

 

an antiparty factional grouping that emerged within the ACP(B) in 1925. It adopted a Trotskyist platform and was led by G. E. Zinoviev and L. B. Kamenev. Active participants in the New Opposition included P. A. Zalutskii, M. M. Lashevich, and G. la. Sokol’nikov.

Like the “old,” that is, the Trotskyist opposition, the New Opposition denied that socialism could be built in the USSR under conditions of technological backwardness and in the absence of proletarian revolutions in the developed countries of Western Europe. The group reflected the vacillations among the petit bourgeois strata of the country, which were evoked by the difficulties of socialist construction and the temporary stabilization of capitalism in the world arena. Criticizing the party’s Leninist course toward transformation of the USSR into an industrial power, the New Opposition maintained that Soviet state industry was state-capitalist rather than socialist and that the New Economic Policy (NEP) constituted a continuous retreat before capitalist elements. They contended that the Soviet economy was wholly dependent on the movements of the external capitalist market and that a monopoly of foreign trade was unnecessary.

The leaders of the New Opposition argued against an increase in allocations for heavy industry and came out for the exclusive development of light industry, with large-scale importing of foreign industrial goods. They asserted that the middle peasantry could not be an ally of the working class in building socialism. Denying the possibility of the socialist transformation of agriculture, they accused the party of underestimating the danger posed by the kulaks. The oppositionists declared that the Central Committee was threatened by degeneration. The New Opposition masked the defeatist nature of its views with pseudorevolutionary appeals to raise all industrial wages immediately and to increase the proportion of party members who were actual industrial workers to 90 percent within a year.

The Central Committee took measures against the slanderous and disorganizing conduct of the New Opposition and issued severe warnings to the group’s leaders. Ignoring these warnings, the New Opposition propagandized its views, especially within the Leningrad party organization, which Zinoviev as chairman of the Leningrad Soviet was trying to transform into his power base. From December 1925, in the course of wide-ranging polemics involving the New Opposition preceding the Fourteenth Congress of the ACP(B), it became apparent that the majority of Communists condemned the ideological tenets and disruptive behavior of the New Opposition. The 22nd Leningrad regional party conference, held on Dec. 1, 1925, also came out against the oppositionists. The Fourteenth Congress, held that same month, decisively declared that all the necessary political and economic conditions for a socialist society existed in the USSR, and that even with a delay in the world revolution, the complete victory of socialism in the country was assured.

The Fourteenth Congress provided the New Opposition with an opportunity to present its views. Zinoviev delivered a portion of the main report of the Central Committee, and a number of other members of the opposition spoke out. The New Opposition strove to remove J. V. Stalin from the post of general secretary of the Central Committee, planning to gradually remove from leadership in the party other figures who took Leninist positions. The oppositionists wanted Zinoviev to become sole leader of the party. The congress rejected the claims of the leaders of the New Opposition to a special place in the party and revealed the Trotskyist-Menshevist character of the platform of the New Opposition. It called on the Central Committee to continue a resolute struggle against any attempts at a factional split. Trotsky and his followers at the congress took a position of silent support of the New Opposition. The New Opposition in turn proposed recruiting into the party leadership the representatives of all the anti-Leninist groupings previously ideologically defeated by the party.

Ignoring the criticism of their views, the leaders of the New Opposition demanded that the discussion be extended. The congress was compelled to address a special appeal to the Leningrad party organization that contained a political assessment of the attempts by the New Opposition to undermine party unity. As the congress concluded its work, the Central Committee sent a group of Communists to Leningrad to explain the decisions taken and to expose the antiparty actions of the leaders of the New Opposition. In February 1926, the Leningrad regional party conference removed the Zinoviev leadership and elected a new regional committee headed by S. M. Kirov. The leaders of the New Opposition, defeated by the party, continued their factional struggle and united with the Trotskyists in 1926 to form the Trotskyist-Zinovievist antiparty bloc.

REFERENCES

14-i s’ezd VKP(B): Stenograficheskii otchet. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
KPSS ν rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 8th ed., vol. 3. Moscow, 1970.
Bor’ba V. I. Lenina i KPSS protiv trotskizma. Moscow, 1970. (Collection of documents and materials.)
Bor’ba partii bol’shevikov protiv trotskizma ν posleoktiabr’skii period. Moscow, 1969.
Maslov, I. I. Bor’ba KPSS protiv trotskizma po voprosam stroitel’stva sotsializma ν SSSR. Moscow, 1965.
Ivanov, V. M. Iz istorii bor’by partii protiv “levogo” opportunizma. Leningrad, 1965.
Istoriia KPSS. vol. 4, book 1. Moscow, 1970.

L. I. ZHAROV

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