chapter  7
28 Pages

Exile and Internationalism

Just ten days before Trotsky was deported to Alma Ata, Stalin set off on a tour of Siberia to identify just why it was that, despite a decent harvest, grain was not arriving at state depots. His conclusion was that kulaks were hoarding grain to try and force up the price, and his response was to resort to force, thus violating the underlying principle of the free market in grain established by Lenin at the Tenth Party Congress. Writing in summer 1927 Stalin mused on the question of timing in politics. Poring over the events of 1917, as was so often the case during the conflict with Trotsky, he asked himself: “Why, then, did Lenin brand as adventurers the group of Petrograd Bolsheviks headed by Bagdatiev in April 1917, when that group put forward the slogan ‘Down with the Provisional Government, All Power to the Soviets’. How could the slogan ‘All Power to the Soviets’ be correct in September 1917 but wrong in April 1917.” “The Opposition does not understand,” he decided, “that the point is not to be ‘first’ in saying a thing, running too far ahead and disorganising the cause of the revolution, but to say it at the right time, and to say it in such a way that it will be taken up by the masses and put into practice.”1

Having criticised as premature the Opposition’s call for an assault on the kulak and industrialisation, Stalin now resolved to implement the policy himself. His actions set in train the events that would see him emerge as Party and state dictator, pursuing the policies of industrialisation and collectivisation against which history would judge him.