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Part Two Chapter 5

The tramcar crawled laboriously up Fundukleyevskaya Street, its motors groaning with the effort. At the Opera House it stopped and a group of young people alighted. The car continued the climb.

"We'd better get a move on," Pankratov urged the others, "or we'll be late for sure."
Okunev caught up with him at the theatre entrance.
"We came here under similar circumstances three years ago, you remember, Genka? That was when Dubava came back to us with the 'Workers' Opposition'. A grand meeting!

And tonight
we've got to grapple with him again!"
They had presented their passes and been admitted into the hall before Pankratov replied:
"Yes, history is repeating itself on the very same spot."
They were hissed to silence. The evening session of the conference had already begun and they had to take the first seats they could find. A young woman was addressing the gathering from the rostrum. It was Talya.
"We're just in time. Now sit quiet and listen to what wifie has to say," Pankratov whispered,giving Okunev a dig in the ribs.
". . .It's true that we have spent much time and energy on this discussion, but I think that we have all learned a great deal from it. Today we are very glad to note that in our organisation Trotsky's followers have been defeated. They cannot complain that they were not given a hearing. On the contrary: they have had every opportunity to express their point of view. As a matter of fact they have abused the freedom we gave them and committed a number of gross violations of Party discipline."
Talya was nervous; you could tell by the way she kept tossing back a lock of hair that fell forward over her eyes as she spoke.
"Many comrades from the districts have spoken here, and they have all had something to say about the methods the Trotskyites have been using. There are quite a number of Trotskyites at this conference. The districts deliberately sent them here to give us another opportunity to hear them out at this city Party conference. It is not our fault if they are not making full use of this opportunity. Evidently their complete defeat in the districts and cells has taught them something.
They could hardly get up at this conference and repeat what they were saying only yesterday."
A harsh voice from the right-hand corner of the hall interrupted Talya at this point:
"We haven't had our say yet!"
Talya turned in the direction of the voice:
"All right, Dubava, come up here now and speak, we'll listen to you."
Dubava stared gloomily back at her and his lips twisted in anger.
"We'll talk when the time comes!" he shouted back. He thought of the crushing defeat he had sustained the day before in his own district. The memory still rankled.
A low murmur passed over the hall. Pankratov, unable to restrain himself, cried out:
"Going to try shaking up the Party again, eh?"
Dubava recognised the voice, but did not turn round. He merely dug his teeth into his lower lip and bent his head.
"Dubava himself offers a striking example of how the Trotskyites are violating Party discipline,"
Talya went on. "He has worked in the Komsomol for a long time, many of us know him, the arsenal workers in particular. He is a student of the Kharkov Communist University, yet we all know that he has been here with Shumsky for the past three weeks. What has brought them here in the middle of the university term? There isn't a single district in town where they haven't addressed meetings. True, during the past few days Shumsky has shown signs of coming to his senses. Who sent them here?

Besides them, there are a good number of other Trotskyites from various organisations. They all worked here before at one time or another and now they have come back to stir up trouble within the Party. Do their Party organisations know where they are? Of course not."
The conference was expecting the Trotskyites to come forward and admit their mistakes. Talya, hoping to persuade them to take this step, appealed to them earnestly. She addressed herself directly to them as if in comradely, informal debate:
"Three years ago in this very theatre Dubava came back to us with the former 'Workers' Opposition'. Remember? And do you remember what he said then: 'Never shall we let the Party banner fall from our hands.' But hardly three years have passed and Dubava has done just that.
Yes, I repeat, he has let the Party banner fall. 'We haven't had our say yet!' he just said. That shows that he and his fellow Trotskyites intend to go still further."
"Let Tufta tell us about the barometer," came a voice from the back rows. "He's their weather expert."
To which indignant voices responded:
"This is no time for silly jokes!"
"Are they going to stop fighting the Party or not? Let them answer that!"
"Let them tell us who wrote that anti-Party declaration!"
Indignation rose higher and higher and the chairman rang his bell long and insistently for silence.
Talya's voice was drowned out by the din, and it was some time before she was able to continue.
"The letters we receive from our comrades in the outlying localities show that they are with us in this and that is very encouraging. Permit me to read part of one letter we have received. It is from Olga Yureneva. Many of you here know her. She is in charge of the Organisational Department of an Area Committee of the Komsomol."
Talya drew a sheet of paper out of a pile before her, ran her eye over it and began:
"All practical work has been neglected. For the past four days all bureau members have been out in the districts where the Trotskyites have launched a more vicious campaign than ever. An incident occurred yesterday which aroused the indignation of the entire organisation. Failing to get a majority in a single cell in town, the opposition decided to rally their forces and put up a fight in the cell of the Regional Military Commissariat, which also includes the Communists working in the Regional Planning Commission and Educational Department. The cell has forty-two members, but all the Trotskyites banded together there. Never had we heard such anti-Party speeches as were made at that meeting. One of the Military Commissariat members got up and said outright: 'If the Party apparatus doesn't give in, we will smash it by force.' The oppositionists applauded that statement. Then Korchagin took the floor. 'How can you applaud that fascist and call yourselves Party members?' he said, but they raised such a commotion, shouting and banging their chairs, that he could not go on. The members who were disgusted by this outrageous behaviour demanded that Korchagin be given a hearing, but the uproar was repeated as soon as he tried to make himself heard. 'So this is what you call democracy!' he shouted above the din. 'I'm going to speak just the same!' At that point several of them fell on him and tried to drag him off the platform. There was wild confusion. Pavel fought back and went on speaking, but they dragged him off the stage, opened. a side door and threw him onto the stairway, his face was bleeding. After that, nearly all the members left the meeting. That incident was an eye-opener for many. ..."

Talya left the platform.

Segal, who had been in charge of the Agitation and Propaganda Department of the Gubernia Party Committee for two months now, sat in the presidium next to Tokarev and listened attentively to the speeches of the delegates. So far the conference had been addressed exclusively by young people who were still in the Komsomol.
"How they have matured these past few years!" Segal was thinking.
"The opposition is already getting it hot," he remarked to Tokarev, "and the heavy artillery has not yet been brought into action. It's the youth who are routing the Trotskyites." Just then Tufta leapt onto the platform. He was met by a loud buzz of disapproval and a brief outburst of laughter. Tufta turned to the presidium to protest against his reception, but the hall had already quieted down.
"Someone here called me a weather expert. So that is how you mock at my political views,Comrades of the majority!" he burst out in one breath.
A roar of laughter greeted his words. Tufta appealed indignantly to the chairman:
"You can laugh, but I tell you once again, the youth is a barometer. Lenin has said so time and again."
In an instant silence reigned in the hall.
"What did Lenin say?" came voices from the audience.
Tufta livened up.
"When preparations were being made for the October uprising Lenin issued instructions to muster the resolute working-class youth, arm them and send them together with the sailors to the most important sectors. Do you want me to read you that passage? I have all the quotations down on cards." Tufta dug into his portfolio.
"Never mind, we know it!"
"But what did Lenin say about unity?"
"And about Party discipline?"
"When did Lenin ever set up the youth in opposition to the old guard?"
Tufta lost the thread of his thoughts and switched over to another theme:
"Lagutina here read a letter from Yureneva. We cannot be expected to answer for certain excesses that might occur in the course of debate."
Tsvetayev, sitting next to Shumsky, hissed in fury: "Fools barge in. . . ."
"Yes," Shumsky whispered back. "That idiot will ruin us completely."
Tufta's shrill, high-pitched voice continued to grate on the ears of his hearers:
"If you have organised a majority faction, we have the right to organise a minority faction."
A commotion arose in the hall.
Angry cries rained down on Tufta from all sides:
"What's that? Again Bolsheviks and Mensheviks!"
"The Russian Communist Party isn't a parliament!"
"They're working for all sorts of factionists, from Myasnikov to Martov!"
Tufta threw up his arms as if about to plunge into a river, and returned an excited rapid-fire:
"Yes, we must have freedom to form groups. Otherwise how can we who hold different views fight for our opinions against such an organised, well-disciplined majority?"
The uproar increased. Pankratov got up and shouted:
"Let him speak. We might as well hear what he has to say. Tufta may blurt out what the others prefer to keep to themselves."
The hall quieted down. Tufta realised that he had gone too far. Perhaps he ought not to have said that now. His thoughts went off at a tangent and he wound up his speech in a rush of words:
"Of course you can expel us and shove us overboard. That sort of thing is beginning already.
You've already got me out of the Gubernia Committee of the Komsomol. But never mind, we'll soon see who was right." And with that he jumped off the stage into the hall.
Tsvetayev passed a note down to Dubava. "Mityai, you take the floor next. Of course it won't alter the situation, we are obviously getting the worst of it here. We must put Tufta right. He's a blockhead and a gas-bag."
Dubava asked for the floor and his request was granted immediately.
An expectant hush fell over the hall as he mounted the platform. It was the usual silence that precedes a speech, but to Dubava it was pregnant with hostility. The ardour with which he had addressed the cell meetings had cooled off by now. From day to day his passion had waned, and after the crushing defeat and the stern rebuff from his former comrades, it was like a fire doused with water, and now he was enveloped by the bitter smoke of wounded vanity made bitterer still by his stubborn refusal to admit himself in the wrong. He resolved to plunge straight in although he knew that he would only be alienating himself still further from the majority. His voice when he spoke was toneless, yet distinct.
"Please do not interrupt me or annoy me by heckling. I want to set forth our position in full,although I know in advance that it is no use. You have the majority."
When at last he finished speaking it was as if a bombshell had burst in the hall. A hurricane of angry shouts descended upon him, stinging him like whiplashes.
"Down with the splitters!"
"Enough mud-slinging!"
To the accompaniment of mocking laughter Dubava went back to his seat, and that laughter cut like a knife-thrust. Had they stormed and railed at him he would have been gratified, but to be jeered at like a third-rate actor whose voice had cracked on a false note was too much.
"Shumsky has the floor," announced the chairman.
Shumsky got up. "I decline to speak."
Then Pankratov's bass boomed from the back rows.
"Let me speak!"
Dubava could tell by his voice that Pankratov was seething inwardly. His deep voice always boomed thus when he was mortally insulted, and a deep uneasiness seized Dubava as he gloomily watched the tall, slightly bent figure stride swiftly over to the platform. He knew what Pankratov was going to say. He thought of the meeting he had had the day before with his old friends at Solomenka and how they had pleaded with him to break with the opposition. Tsvetayev and Shumsky had been with him. They had met at Tokarev's place. Pankratov, Okunev, Talya,Volyntsev, Zelenova, Staroverov and Artyukhin had been present. Dubava had remained deaf to this attempt to restore unity. In the middle of the discussion he had walked out with Tsvetayev,thus emphasising his unwillingness to admit his mistakes. Shumsky had remained. And now he had refused to take the floor. "Spineless intellectual! Of course they've won him over," Dubava thought with bitter resentment. He was losing all his friends in this frenzied struggle. At the university there had been a rupture in his friendship with Zharky, who had sharply censured the declaration of the "forty-six" at a meeting of the Party bureau. And later, when the clash grew sharper, he had ceased to be on speaking terms. Several times after that Zharky had come to his place to visit Anna. It was a year since Dubava and Anna had been married. They occupied separate rooms, and Dubava believed that his strained relations with Anna, who did not share his views, had been aggravated by Zharky's frequent visits. It was not jealousy on his part, he assured himself, but under the circumstances her friendship with Zharky irritated him. He had spoken to Anna about it and the result had been a scene which had by no means improved their relations. He had left for the conference without telling her where he was going.
The swift flight of his thoughts was cut short by Pankratov.
"Comrades!" the word rang out as the speaker took up a position at the very edge of the platform. "Comrades! For nine days we have listened to the speeches of the opposition, and I must say quite frankly that they spoke here not as fellow fighters, revolutionaries, our comrades in the class struggle. Their speeches were hostile, implacable, malicious and slanderous. Yes, Comrades, slanderous! They have tried to represent us Bolsheviks as supporters of a mailed-fist regime in the Party, as people who are betraying the interests of their class and the Revolution. They have attempted to brand as Party bureaucrats the best, the most tried and trusty section of our Party, the glorious old guard of Bolsheviks, men who built up the Russian Communist Party, men who suffered in tsarist prisons, men who with Comrade Lenin at their head have waged a relentless struggle against world Menshevism and Trotsky. Could anyone but an enemy make such statements? Is the Party and its functionaries not one single whole? Then what is this all about, I want to know? What would we say of men who would try to incite young Red Army men against their commanders and commissars, against army headquarters — and at a time when the unit was surrounded by the enemy? According to the Trotskyites, so long as I am a mechanic I'm 'all right', but if tomorrow I should become the secretary of a Party Committee I would be a 'bureaucrat' and a 'chairwarmer'! Isn't it a bit strange, Comrades, that among the oppositionists who are fighting against bureaucracy and for democracy there should be men like Tufta, for example, who was recently removed from his job for being a bureaucrat? Or Tsvetayev, who is well known to the Solomenka folks for his 'democracy'; or Afanasyev, who was taken off the job three times by the Gubernia Committee for his highhanded way of running things in Podolsk District? It turns out that all those whom the Party has punished have united to fight the Party. Let the old Bolsheviks tell us about Trotsky's 'Bolshevism'. It is very important for the youth to know the history of Trotsky's struggle against the Bolsheviks, about his constant shifting from one camp to another.
The struggle against the opposition has welded our ranks and it has strengthened the youth ideologically. The Bolshevik Party and the Komsomol have become steeled in the fight against petty-bourgeois trends. The hysterical panic-mongers of the opposition are predicting complete economic and political collapse. Our tomorrow will show how much these prophecies are worth.
They are demanding that we send old Bolsheviks like Tokarev, for instance, back to the bench and replace him by some weather-vane like Dubava who imagines his struggle against the Party to be a sort of heroic feat. No, Comrades, we won't agree to that. The old Bolsheviks will get replacement, but not from among those who violently attack the Party line whenever we are up against some difficulty. We shall not permit the unity of our great Party to be disrupted. Never will the old and young guard be split. Under the banner of Lenin, in unrelenting struggle against petty-bourgeois trends, we shall march to victory!"
Pankratov descended the platform amid thunderous applause.
The following day a group of ten met at Tufta's place.
"Shumsky and I are leaving today for Kharkov," Dubava said. "There is nothing more for us to do here. You must try to keep together. All we can do now is to wait and see what happens. It is obvious that the All-Russia Conference will condemn us, but it seems to me that it is too soon to expect any repressive measures to be taken against us. The majority has decided to give us another chance. To carry on the struggle openly now, especially after the conference, means getting kicked out of the Party, and that does not enter into our plans. It is hard to say what the future holds for us. I think that's all there is to be said." Dubava got up to go.
The gaunt, thin-lipped Staroverov also rose.
"I don't understand you, Mityai," he said, rolling his r's and slightly stammering. "Does that mean that the conference decision is not binding on us?"
"Formally, it is," Tsvetayev cut him short. "Otherwise you'll lose your Party card. But we'll wait and see which way the wind blows and in the meantime we'll disperse."
Tufta stirred uneasily in his chair. Shumsky, pale and downcast, with dark circles under his eyes,sat by the window biting his nails. At Tsvetayev's words he abandoned his depressing occupation and turned to the meeting.
"I'm opposed to such manoeuvres," he said in sudden anger. "I personally consider that the decision of the conference is binding on us. We have fought for our convictions, but now we must submit to the decision that has been taken."
Staroverov looked at him with approval.
"That is what I wanted to say," he lisped.
Dubava fixed Shumsky with his eyes and said with a sneer:
"Nobody's suggesting that you do anything. You still have a chance to 'repent' at the Gubernia Conference."
Shumsky leapt to his feet.
"I resent your tone, Dmitri! And to be quite frank, what you say disgusts me and forces me to reconsider my position."
Dubava waved him away.
"That's exactly what I thought you'd do. Run along and repent before it is too late." With that Dubava shook hands with Tufta and the others and left. Shumsky and Staroverov followed soon after.

Cruel cold marked the advent in history of the year one thousand nine hundred and twenty-four.

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