The New Course

Trotsky wrote a series of articles for Pravda during December 1923, which were published as a pamphlet entitled “The New Course”. This document marked a new stage in the development of the Opposition.

In “The New Course”, Trotsky warns of the dangers of degeneration of the “Old Guard”: “Does bureaucratism bear within it a danger of degeneration, or doesn’t it? He would be blind who denied this. In its prolonged development, bureaucratisation threatens to detach the leaders from the masses, to bring them to concentrate their attention solely upon questions of administration, of appointments and transfers, of narrowing their horizon, of weakening their revolutionary spirit, that is, of provoking a more or less opportunistic degeneration of the Old Guard, or at the very least of a considerable part of it. Such processes develop slowly and almost imperceptibly, but reveal themselves abruptly.” He went on to warn: “But if the old course should seek to maintain itself at all costs by tightening the reins, by increasingly artificial selection, by intimidation, in a word, by procedures indicating a distrust of the Party, the actual danger of degeneration of a considerable part of the cadres would inevitably increase.”

He took up the false argument levelled against him of “underestimating the peasantry” by explaining he was the first to propose a New Economic Policy, which gave concessions to the peasants, but was rejected by the Central Committee. The only way the working class could satisfy the needs of the peasants for cheap manufactured products was to lay the foundation in the form of large-scale industry. This could only work with the introduction of a long-term plan over five year periods. Again, this was vehemently opposed by Stalin and the triumvirate, who rejected it with ridicule, abuse and misrepresentation. Later, Stalin borrowed wholesale from this “utopian” idea when he introduced the first Five Year Plans.

(From the article Origins of Trotskyism)

Copyleft: Marxists Internet Archive version: HTML reworked and further edited (spelling), November 2019