Shlyapnikov and the Left Opposition

Issue section: 

I have to disagree with John Rose (October SR) when he writes that in her biography of Alexander Shlyapnikov Barbara C Allen doesn’t ask why he didn’t join forces with the Left Opposition.

Allen actually gives two reasons that have to do with Trotsky’s acceptance of the ban on factions during the 1921 Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party and the subsequent dissolution of the Workers Opposition, of which Shlyapnikov was the most prominent member.

The first is that the defeat of the Workers Opposition convinced Shlyapnikov that factional struggle was not a feasible way of challenging the course of the party leadership.

The second is that Shlyapnikov considered Trotsky and his supporters to be responsible for the defeat of the Workers Opposition and therefore thought their dissent was opportunistic given their support for the ban on factions.

Shlyapnikov’s attitude towards the Left Opposition was a strategic error, but given Trotsky’s own mistakes during the Tenth Congress and his hostility towards the Workers Opposition, it was also understandable.

Max van Lingen
Haarlem, The Netherlands