How the comintern was stalinised

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We were addressed by the woman comrade who ran the Lenin School. She announced in a loud and accusing manner:

We have just discovered that a faction has been formed of Zinoviev and Bukharin. We don't know how far it has gone but it is permeating the ranks of the party. We are determined that it is going to be wiped out.

I have received instructions that all students at the school have to be examined to see if they have any germs of this faction in them. It is what we call a party chistca a party cleansing which has been ordered throughout the Soviet Union.

This consisted of a presidium being placed in charge while students were put into a witness box then asked factual questions about their activity in the Communist Party. It was then left to members of the respective party to challenge or refute the statements of the "accused".

For the New Zealander and myself there was no one else from our respective countries. The opportunism of the British and American students astounded me. You wouldn't credit how they could go at each other as they did. The Russians just laughed at all of this as they saw who were the most subservient. They were however more interested in the students from Poland Lithuania Finland and other countries bordering the Soviet Union. They were often in the stand for hours on end.

We were eventually told that there were gaps in the stories of the students from some of these countries and they were liquidated in some way or another.

Later it was learned that Zinoviev and Bukharin had "confessed" their mistakes and all could breathe freely again.

This "party cleansing" gave me an idea of what the Left Oppositionists and supporters of Trotsky must have gone through for they were "dealt with" far more brutally.

By the time I reached the Lenin School Trotsky had already been expelled from the Communist Party and exiled from the Soviet Union. No one at the school — students or tutors — would dare mention Trotsky. I was the only one who had the audacity to do that. In one of the books in the Lenin School library there still remained a praiseworthy passage on Trotsky. I made a reference from this passage to a tutor. He said that he would have a look into it but I never heard any more of it.

As far as all the students were concerned they were anti-Trotskyists otherwise they would never have been sent there. I was perhaps the only exception and that was because they had never asked me.

I had always had the keenest regard for Trotsky. The anti-Trotsky campaign had reached Australia not long before I left for the Soviet Union and I had not taken it too seriously.

During the course at the Lenin School — which was to have lasted three years but was cut short to less than two years — we did not study and of Trotsky's works. The falsification of the history of the Russian Revolution had already taken place. Trotsky who along with Lenin had been the central organiser and leader of the revolution was not mentioned throughout our course.

We were being trained as party leaders to be sent back to our respective countries. And so I returned to Australia to become a central leader of the Communist Party of Australia only to find myself in conflict with the Comintern representative and the Stalinist leadership he had nurtured.

They didn't realise that in sending me to the Lenin School I had taken my assignment seriously and had systematically educated myself in the theories of Marxism. This understanding of Marxism was to lead me through the fight with the Stalinists in the CPA and take me into the newly formed Trotskyist movement.

From Direct Action November 30 1978

Notes on Ted Tripp

Ted Tripp was born in 1900 in London and died in Melbourne in 1992.

In a 1978 interview with Dave Deutschmann published in Direct Action the newspaper of the Australian Socialist Workers Party Tripp describes joining the Communist Party of Australia as a young British immigrant working as a fitter and turner in the railway workshops in Townsville north Queensland.

"Walking down the main street of Townsville " he said "I saw to my amazement an old man holding high the Workers Weekly.

"After walking past him a few times I summoned enough courage to speak to him. That was Harry Wilkes. He as a commercial traveller around various districts in north Queensland and took with him a suitcase of communist literature. I went to his room and became enraptured with his literature."

Tripp was recruited to the CPA by Herbert Moxon at that time the Brisbane organiser of the CPA and later to become CPA general secretary. Tripp and Moxon worked closely together for the next three years.

Tripp organised the first CPA group in Townsville and represented the branch at the 1927 CPA conference.

During a state-wide rail strike in 1926 Tripp played a key organising role which included producing a daily strike newspaper which was distributed throughout the state. It was one of the first such daily strike newspapers in Australia.

One of the debates at the 1927 CPA conference was over what became known as the Queensland Resolution — whether the CPA should stand candidates against the Labor Party.

The conference decided the CPA should run its own candidates in the next Queensland elections.

As one of the three CPA candidates in the elections Tripp received a large vote which led the electoral officer to ask whether he wanted a recount. Tripp told the electoral officer that the result was already a victory for the CPA and a recount was not necessary. Peter Beilhartz in notes from a 1976 interview with Tripp says Tripp won about 1500 votes to the ALP candidate's 4000.

This was at a time when CPA support was strong among the working-class of north Queensland's ports railways and meatworks.

Two months later Tripp became the first Australian selected to attend the Lenin School.

On returning to Australia Tripp immediately came into conflict with Harry Wicks the Comintern representative from the CPUSA who used the party name Herbert Moore.

Wicks said he thought Tripp had mixed in bad company in Moscow and he would have to check with the Soviet authorities about him.

Tripp began a national speaking tour describing what he had seen in the Soviet Union and became a leading propagandist and educator for the CPA taking classes for CPA and Young Communist League members in the major cities addressing meetings and speaking in support of CPA candidates.

Meanwhile Wicks was moving to exclude Tripp from the CPA leadership and even tried to have him suspended from membership but the charge was withdrawn when Tripp confronted Wicks at a political bureau meeting.

Wicks had already excluded former CPA general secretary Jack Kavanagh and was about to expel Bert Moxon the then general secretary.

Tripp survived the 1931 CPA congress at which he became the first central leader to criticise Comintern policy in Germany although he had not at that time read Trotsky's writings on Germany which didn't begin to reach Australia until a few weeks later.

In 1932 Tripp was assigned to the Friends of the Soviet Union and became its national secretary. Under his leadership the FOSU grew to about 7500 members and had a widely circulated magazine Soviets Today. He continued travelling the country addressing meetings on the Soviet Union and socialism.

Tripp was removed from his position in the FOSU in 1933 and expelled from the CPA in 1934. Before his expulsion he had been in contact with the Trotskyist organisation formed two years earlier.

After joining the Trotskyists in the Workers Party Tripp became one of its leaders mainly involved in education and propaganda and around 1937-38 publisher of the Workers Party newspaper The Militant.

He became a regular Trotskyist speaker at Sydney's Domain and spent much time trying to win over members of the CPA.

A few years later he left the Workers Party and subsequently began to publish another Trotskyist magazine Proletarian Review based among Trotskyists at Sydney University.

During World War II he moved to Melbourne became inactive in the Trotskyist movement but was a militant shop steward in the Federated Ironworkers Association.

From 1945 Tripp was associated with the Victorian Labor College and was its secretary from about 1958 to 1978. The Labor College was founded in 1917 by Guido Baracchi a founder of the CPA and later an editor of the Comintern's English-language Inprecor. For a time Baracchi was sympathetic to the Trotskyist movement.

In 1978 at the age of 78 Ted Tripp joined the Socialist Workers Party.

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