Trotsky's Bungling and Stalin's Skill
STALIN HAD GOOD REASON FOR delaying the public announcement of his new feud with Trotsky. He was waiting for the outcome of Trotsky's negotiations with Zinoviev and Kamenev, their widely rumored attempt to unite in an anti-Stalinist block.
Stalin was aware that he could not liquidate the Trotskyists along with the "deprived" Nepmen so long as Trotsky was still the living symbol of military victory. It would rouse millions of the former War Commissar's devoted followers, both within and without the party. The thing to do was to drag the hero off his pedestal. This difficult task would be made easy if Trotsky were to unite with these two widely discredited leaders, who in 1924 had demanded his arrest and expulsion from the party.
A Trotsky-Zinoviev-Kamenev bloc seemed absolutely unthinkable to the millions of devoted Trotskyists. But Stalin, an acute observer of men, had reason to believe that this supposedly uncompromising leader was capable of unprincipled maneuvers. He had evidence of it in Trotsky's disavowal of Max Eastman book Since Lenin Died, with its revelation that Lenin's last letter to the party had demanded the removal of Stalin as General Sec-