An interview with the Communist Party’s leading Trotskyist.
On August 19 the delegation of American labor men and economic experts who recently visited the Soviet Union, interviewed Leon Trotzky, who answered a number of questions submitted to him by members of the delegation. A detailed account of the interview appeared in the Moscow Pravda of August 24 which accompanied Trotzky’s answers with some remarks of its own. Trotsky’s answers and the comments of the Pravda follow in part:
Q. Would it be correct to say that the Soviet state is a democracy, or should it be said that this is a dictatorship of one class or of a part of that class–the Communist Party?
A. It depends on what is understood by democracy. I agree that, from the point of view of the existing American democracy, the Soviet Union may be denied the right to call itself a democracy. But I reserve for myself the right to deny, from our point of view; that the United States constitutes a democracy …. The United States is ruled by the dictatorship of the most concentrated capital under the camouflage of the external forms of political democracy. … The Soviet system represents the dictatorship of the working class which has no interest in misleading anybody as to the character of its didtatorship. … Another essential difference … is in the fact that, while the feudal lords and capitalists strive to perpetuate their rule, the Communist Party looks upon the dictatorship of the proletariat only as upon a temporary passing phase. The object of the revolutionary dictatorship is to create a society wherein there will be no need of state authority since it will be based on the solidarity of the producers liberated from exploitation and with all class barriers removed.
Q. Why is there no freedom of the press and of speech?
A. In order to answer this question we again have to agree as to what is understood by freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. Everybody has the freedom to fly. But in order to exercise this freedom one must have an airplane. The worker in any democratic country may have the right to their own press, their meetings, etc. But for the press you must have printing plants and paper, and for meetings you must have halls and leisure time, and these things belong not to the workers but to the bourgeoisie. … For the workers of America freedom of the press means the freedom to buy for two cents one of those newspapers which are created by bourgeois journalists in the interests of the capitalists. … There is no such freedom in our country. … We have put these material instruments of the “freedom of the press” to serve the interests of educating the working classes and the people generally.
Q. Is it not a fact that, under the Soviet regime, there may be a possibility of the people being dissatisfied and not having any means for the expression of its dissatisfaction?
A. Of course, the possibility or the existence of dissatisfaction cannot be denied. As long as there is scarcity, as long as there are class differences–and all these things exist in our country–it is inevitable that there should be dissatisfaction, and this dissatisfaction is a force moving forward. Can it find expression? We maintain that, notwithstanding the shortcomings of the Soviet regime as it is at present, this system–through the agency of our Party –offers incomparably greater possibilities for the more complete and direct expression of the interests and feelings of the toiling masses than the thoroughly artificial and deceptive system of bouregois democracy. … The Soviet state system, as opposed to bourgeois democracy, offers the working masses incomparably greater possibilities of exerting their direct influence on the course of the national and social life.