MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | MAVRAKIS

ON TROTSKYISM

Problems of theory and history

THE QUESTION OF STALIN

Relatively insecure in their dissertations on 'bureaucracy', Trotskyists are very confident in their denunciation of Stalin. It is more than a war-horse for them; it is a 'raison d'Ítre'. So much so that they need to accuse even the Khrushchevites who betrayed the thought of Lenin's successor and stained his memory of 'Stalinism'. Forced to indulge in perilous feats of pseudo-theoretical tightrope-walking in the matter of the 'Bonapartist caste', they can rely largely on bourgeois specialists when it comes to anti-Stalinist invective. To listen to them, Stalin is (as the English say) the 'skeleton in the Maoists' cupboard': a ball and chain which they drag along, trying to hide it in the folds of their theoretician's toga or in the pocket of their worker's jacket. They dare not discuss him. The Trotskyists may rest easy: the Maoists will discuss him. They are the only ones who can tackle this problem from a proletarian point of view. Above-all, they are the only ones who can rely on the thought of Mao Tse-tung and the lessons of the cultural revolution, while the Trotskyists remain - in the best of cases - the prisoners of an ideological horizon which they share with Stalin. Even when they claim to criticise him they do not leave the terrain of his problematic, whereas Chinese revolutionary practice has enabled us to go beyond it on more than one point.

    Stalin was the leader of the international communist movement for some thirty years. During this period it won great victories and suffered some defeats but on the whole it emerged from it considerably strengthened. Hence Stalin himself was the target of heinous attacks on the part of the class enemy, including Trotskyists. After his death, the Khrushchevite revisionists were only able to rid themselves of the embarrassing 'dogma' of Marxism-Leninism (i.e. its revolutionary principles) by mounting a libellous campaign against him in which his name was almost entirely erased from the history books and his works were banned. We see in this one more presumption in his favour. To be attacked by the enemy is not a bad but a good thing. Does this mean that Stalin did not make mistakes prejudicial to the construction of socialism and the progress of the world revolution? Some think that adherence to Maoism implies the defence of everything that Stalin may have said or done and thus provides weapons to the Trotskyists and Khrushchevites. Even when they reluctantly admit that he did make some mistakes, they are more then discreet as to their nature and, as it were, never talk about them. Such is not the point of view of the Chinese communists, who seem to us to be better teachers where Maoism is concerned.

    They have stated unambiguously, 'It is necessary to criticise the errors Stalin actually committed . . . from a correct stand and with correct methods.' 'While defending Stalin, we do not defend his mistakes.' What they do not accept is solely the 'complete negation' of Stalin 'en bloc' which ultimately treated him as an enemy. They rebel against the gross insults which Khrushchev heaped on Lenin's comrade-in-arms and successor, describing him as a 'murderer', 'criminal', 'bandit', 'adventurer', 'Ivan the Terrible type of despot', 'the greatest dictator in Russian history', 'imbecile', 'idiot', etc.(115) They showed that by thus slandering Stalin, Khrushchev was at the same stroke slandering the CPSU, the people of the Soviet Union, and the international communist movement. Moreover, how could one speak of a dictatorship of the proletariat when an 'Ivan the Terrible type of despot' is ruling? Besides, it is clear that since Khrushchev had participated in the leadership of the party and the state in Stalin's time and had been the particularly zealous satellite and instrument of 'the tyrant', he should have begun by giving a thorough self-criticism explaining among other things, his base flunkeyism towards his leader, which seems especially hypocritical in the light of his 'later about-face'.(116) Not only did he never make a self-criticism but he impudently took the credit for some of Stalin's achievements (the atomic bomb and missiles, for example). As we shall see, Stalin was not afraid to acknowledge sometimes that he had been mistaken.(117)

The Communist Party of China has consistently held that Stalin did commit errors which had their ideological as well as social and historical roots . . . Some were errors of principle and some were errors made in the course of practical work; some could have been avoided and some were scarcely avoidable at a time when the dictatorship of the proletariat had no precedent to go by.

'In handling relations with fraternal parties and countries, he made some mistakes. He also gave some bad counsel in the international communist movement'. (118) In the chapters on China and Greece, we shall give some examples of this. Let us merely recall that, according to the Chinese, the influence of Stalin's mistakes was felt in China, 'in the late 1920s, the 1930s and the early and middle 1940s'.(119) A long time, practically as long as the Chinese revolution. They add:(120)

But since some of the wrong ideas put forward by Stalin were accepted and applied by certain Chinese comrades, we Chinese should bear the responsibility. In its struggle against 'left' and right opportunism, therefore, our party criticised only its own erring comrades and never put the blame on Stalin. We merely asked (them) . . . that they should correct their mistakes. If they failed to do so, we waited until they were gradually awakened by their own practical experience . . . we held that these were contradictions among the people.(121)

In their own texts devoted to the question of Stalin, the Chinese have pointed out that he was a revolutionary, not a counter-revolutionary; that he was a friend, not an enemy. It is a principled answer which decides the essentials of the problem but which cannot take the place of a thorough historical investigation. Only the development of the Soviet people's revolutionary struggles will create the conditions for such an investigation, without which one cannot obtain the elements necessary for a final answer.(122) This is why the Chinese declare:(123)

The question of Stalin is one of world-wide importance . . . It is likely that no final verdict can be reached on this question in the present century . . . But there is virtual agreement among the majority of the international working class and of revolutionary people, who disapprove of the complete negation of Stalin and more and more cherish his memory. This is also true of the Soviet Union.

This is a fact which some find astonishing and which should make them think. Even Western observers have been struck by the applause which spontaneously erupts in the USSR when, having escaped the censor's scissors, Stalin's silhouette appears for a fraction of a second in the showing of old newsreels. (124) In the conditions prevailing at present in the USSR these must be regarded as real political demonstrations which reflect a feeling very widely held in the Soviet Union, as one may be convinced by talking to men and women among the people. Their point of view differs greatly from that prevailing among the bureaucrats, technocrats and the other privileged members of the intelligentsia, who prefer to mix with foreign journalists. In Georgia, the population demonstrated violently against the denunciation of Stalin at the 20th Congress. As the police made common cause with them, non-Georgian troops had to be called in for the bloody suppression of the disturbances. An additional sign that the denunciation of Stalin is unpopular is the fact that Khrushchev did not publish his secret speech to the 20th Congress, even though he surreptitiously communicated it to his friends across the Atlantic.

    The advance of revolutionary struggles in the entire world is accompanied by a renewal of interest in Stalin's writings. Claude Roy reports that a militant in 'the Black Panthers' replied to one of his questions by reading to him passages from Stalin's 'Foundations of Leninism' and Mao's 'Little Red Book'.(125)

    As we shall see even better later on, the Chinese criticise everything to be criticised in Stalin and emphasise that revolutionaries disapprove not of the criticism but of the complete repudiation of this leader of the international communist movement Their argument hinges on this idea: Stalin was not an enemy but a great Marxist-Leninist revolutionary who certainly made mistakes but who remained on the side of the people with respect to the fundamental options, the defence of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the elimination of the kulaks and Nepmen, the construction of a powerful socialist economy, support for the world revolution, the defence of Marxism-Leninism. This is why 'A comparison of the two shows that his merits outweighed his faults'.(126)

    The question of Stalin is not whether one must condemn or rehabilitate Stalin 'en bloc', the question over which writers in the USSR who are more polemicists than historians confront one another.(
127) It is a question of summing up the historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the USSR and appraising the role of its principal leader on this basis, by proceeding analytically, taking care not to reject everything under the pretext that certain mistakes were serious.

    Mao Tse-tung has given us an example of this analytical method which refuses to 'draw simple conclusions which are absolutely affirmative or absolutely negative':(
128)

The question concerning the lien [line] of the central leadership during the period from the Fourth Plenary Session to the Tsunyi meeting, for example, should be analysed from two aspects. It should be pointed out on the one hand that the political tactics and the cadres policy which the central leading body adopted during that period were wrong in their main aspects, but on the other hand that on such fundamental issues as opposing Chiang Kai-shek and carrying on the Agrarian Revolution and the struggle of the Red Army there was no dispute between ourselves and the comrades who committed the errors.

It is clear that long before writing 'On the correct handling of contradictions among the people', Mao did not confuse these with 'contradictions between us and the enemy'. On the contrary, in this point as in all others, the Trotskyist and Khrushchevite critique of Stalin remains a prisoner of the ideological framework which engendered the latter's mistakes.

    The Trotskyists reject the Chinese appraisal of Stalin. According to them, one must talk about his 'crimes', not his 'mistakes': the Soviet state which he led was therefore an enemy of the proletariat. But Marxists only know class enemies. Now, the bureaucracy is not a class for the Trotskyists. This embroils them in inextricable contradictions. They become extremely embarrassed when they are forced to acknowledge both the successes of the construction of socialism and the active solidarity which linked the USSR to the world's revolutionary movements in Stalin's time, all of which are, as if by chance, 'Stalinist'. To be sure, as we have said, mistakes were made but the Trotskyists refuse to concede that decisions which had disastrous consequences could have occurred for some other reason than evil intent.

     Such prejudice leads to absurd conclusions. The General Staff of the Red Army (headed by Tukhachevsky) - three marshall, twenty-seven generals, twenty thousand officers - were executed or deported for conspiring with the Hitlerites. We know today that Stalin acted wholly in good faith. German counter-intelligence had organised a plot to which President Benes was an unconscious accessory. It was he who sent Stalin a dossier compiled by his secret service which came to the conclusion that the Soviet military were traitors. The Nazis were at the bottom of this 'information' but the Czechoslovaks believed it to be authentic. Leon Blum disclosed that he had been informed of the relations between Tukhachevsky and Hitler's agents as early as the end of 1936.(129) It seems likely that the French statesman had drawn on the same sources as Stalin and like him had put faith in them.

    One cannot see what interest Stalin and the bureaucracy could have in liquidating, on the eve of the war, the commander of the Red Army, or in leaving the latter totally unprepared at the moment of Hitler's aggression.(130) Such examples cannot possibly be explained from the particular interests of the bureaucracy or Stalin's will to power. It must be admitted that these were mistakes, and mistakes acknowledged to a certain extent, besides, by Stalin himself. At a reception celebrating victory on 24 May 1945, he stated:(131)

Our government made not a few errors, we experienced at moments a desperate situation in 1941-2, when our army was retreating . . . A different people could have said to the government: 'You have failed to justify our expectations. . .'. The Russian people, however, did not take this path . . . Thanks to it, to the Russian people, for this confidence.

Some do not understand that it is possible to acknowledge the seriousness of Stalin's mistakes and argue at the same time that they are secondary in relation to his merits. To see this more clearly, let us consider Lenin's attitude to Bebel and Rosa Luxemburg. The latter had violently attacked Lenin over the question of democratic centralism, siding with the Mensheviks against him. After the October revolution she had made incorrect criticisms of the Bolsheviks' policy of granting the oppressed nations of the ex-Tsarist empire the right to self-determination and distributing land to the peasants. She had, moreover, made some quite serious theoretical errors in her work 'The Accumulation of Capital'. As for Bebel, he had sometimes revealed a fairly repugnant opportunism. There are echoes of this in the Marx-Engels correspondence on the Gotha and Erfurt Programmes. However, Lenin regarded both Luxemburg and Bebel as 'great communists'. When, after their death, the revisionists tried to exhalt themselves by belittling them, Lenin upbraided them in these terms: 'Sometimes eagles may fly lower than hens, but hens can never rise to the height of eagles'.(132) In fact, when the proletariat in Berlin rebelled in January 1919 and the revisionists led the counter-revolutionary repression, Rosa Luxemburg immediately sided with the workers. Taken prisoner like Karl Liebknecht, she was assassinated along with him by the 'soldatesca' on the orders of the Social Democratic Minister Noske. To say that Rosa Luxemburg's merits outweighed her mistakes is to argue that she was on the right side of the barricades in the decisive battles. We must not argue any differently where Stalin is concerned.

 
In the USSR the denunciation of Stalin was 'the critique of the personality cult'. This was only a euphemism to conceal and to bury away the real problems. It was not the excessive exaltation of a personality which damaged the USSR and the international communist movement. It has never been a bad thing to call for the study of Marx and Lenin, to argue that they were giants of theory; on the contrary, the opposite is true. It is necessary, in the first place, to condemn the mistakes made in the construction of socialism, in the resolution of the contradictions in Soviet society and in the relations with fraternal parties and countries. The Khrushchevites were content to criticise violations of socialist legality and the principle of collegial leadership.

    Even revisionists like Togliatti recognised the limits and the equivocal character of Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin. He pointed out:(133)

As long as we confine ourselves, in substance, to denouncing the personal faults of Stalin as the cause of everything we remain within the realm of the 'personality cult'. First, all that was good was attributed to the superhuman qualities of one man: now all that is evil is attributed to his equally exceptional and even astonishing faults . . . The true problems are evaded . . . (the ones which concern the causes which led the USSR) to the point of degeneration.

While avoiding falling into the reverse cult of personality which Togliatti denounced, we must guard against the opposite mistake which might be called economistic or sociologistic - which consists of seeking the ultimate explanation of Stalin's mistakes, as the Trotskyists do, in the economic underdevelopment of the USSR at its birth and in the destruction and partial dispersal of its working class as a result of the civil war. China was even less developed than Russia and its working class less numerous. Nor are the particular interests of the bureaucratic caste enough to explain the phenomenon. Stalin did struggle in his own way against the bureaucrats, and the representatives of the bourgeoisie in the privileged Soviet stratum were only able to usurp all power after his death. The core of Stalin's mistakes is situated neither at the legal-political level (the Khrushchevite or Togliattist explanation) or at the level of the economic base (the Trotskyist explanation), but at the ideological-theoretical level. After the conquest of political power and the socialisation of the means of production, this level becomes the strategic domain in which everything is decided. It goes without saying that the historical and social conditions in which Stalin had to act played a role determinant enough to make certain of his mistakes inevitable, while others were not, in the sense that a leader like Lenin would not have fallen into them. As for showing how these effects in the superstructure were determined in the last analysis by the economic base, this can only be the work of future studies for which the Trotskyist schematisations are no substitute.(134)

    Nevertheless, it is possible to give some indications on this problem. Lenin had deliberately concentrated the Bolshevik forces in the towns to organise the working class. The latter provided the bulk of the troops who made the seizure of power possible. Recruitment in the countryside after the victory was only able to attract the more educated and ambitious well-off peasants. The rural implantation of communist cells remained, moreover, very scattered. So much so that at the time of collectivisation it was necessary to depend on groups of workers parachuted into the villages. The party being, for historical reasons, more or less cut off from the majority of the population (poor and middle peasants), its leaders were unable correctly to apply democratic centralism, the mass line, among the people and within the party (one is impossible without the other). The situation in this respect was made much worse at the time of collectivisation, which was largely forced. There can be no correct leadership without the mass line. It will be remembered that according to Lenin the downfall of the Bolshevik Party was inevitable if the alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry was broken (cf. Chapter 2 above, n. 26). The subsequent evolution of the CPSU has shown that Lenin's fears were only too well founded.

    The Chinese have clearly established the immediate causes of Stalin's mistakes. They say:(
135)

In struggles inside as well as outside the party, on certain occasions and on certain questions he confused two types of contradictions which are different in nature, contradictions between ourselves and the enemy and contradictions among the people, and also confused the different methods needed in handling them. In the work led by Stalin of suppressing the counter-revolution, many counter-revolutionaries deserving punishment were duly punished, but at the same time there were innocent people who were wrongly convicted; and in 1937 and 1938 there occurred the error of enlarging the scope of the suppression of counter-revolutionaries.

Given that Stalin did, in fact, make numerous and serious mistakes, it would be truly paradoxical if there were not some genuine revolutionary militants among those who were sent to the camps or to their deaths. Could these militants be prevented from expressing their disagreements? Certainly not, for servile submission is not the mark of a revolutionary. It is incontestable, moreover, that no one was able to develop a systematic criticism of Stalin's mistakes without bringing repression down upon himself.

    It even happened that people who were far from being enemies and who in addition were never opposed to Stalin were oppressed all the same. There is an example of this in the 'Peking Review' of 24 September 1963 in which Anna Louise Strong recounts her troubles in the USSR in 1948 when she asked for authorisation to go to China, at the invitation of Chairman Mao Tse-tung: 'Five months I kept asking for my Soviet exit visa. Then, just as Chinese friends arrived who might secure my journey, the Russians arrested me as a "spy" and sent me out through Poland. Five days in jail I wondered what I had stepped on. I never knew'.(136)

    After summing up the historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat on the basis of the thought of Mao Tse-tung, the Chinese communists have cast light on the other source of the mistakes of Stalin, whose failure lay(137)
in not recognising, on the level of theory, that classes and class struggle exist in society throughout the historical period of the dictatorship of the proletariat and that the question of who will win in the revolution has yet to be finally settled; in other words, if all this is not handled properly, there is the possibility of a come-back by the bourgeoisie.

Indeed, in his report on the Draft Constitution of the USSR presented to the 8th Congress of Soviets on 25 November 1936, Stalin declared that 'all the exploiting classes have . . . been eliminated' and the economic and political contradictions between the working class, peasant class and intellectuals, 'are declining and becoming obliterated'.(138) That is why 'The Draft of the New Constitution of the USSR proceeds from the fact that there are no longer any antagonistic classes in society; that society consists of two mutually friendly classes, the workers and peasants'.(139)

    In his report to the 18th Congress of the CP(B) on 10 March 1939, Stalin was just as categorical:(
140)

The feature that distinguishes Soviet society today . . . is that it no longer contains antagonistic, hostile classes . . . liberated from the yoke of exploitation, (it) knows no such contradictions, is free of class conflicts, and presents a picture of friendly collaboration between workers, peasants and intellectuals.

In 1952, Stalin seemed to have renounced his conviction that Soviet society exhibited the image of a stable and perfect harmony. In 'Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR', he wrote:(141)

Of course, our present relations of production are in a period when they fully conform to the growth of the productive forces . . . But . . . there certainly are, and will be, contradictions, seeing that the development of the relations of production lags and will lag, behind the development of the productive forces.

If these problems were ignored, as they were by Yarashenko, 'our relations of production might become a serious break on the further development of the productive forces'.

    Unfortunately, such considerations, correct but abstract, and belated besides, were not enough to dislodge individuals like Khrushchev who had already usurped power in certain sectors. The relations of production which Stalin spoke of here do not necessarily have a class character, since in the primitive commune as well as in the future communist society, 'in order to produce, men enter into definite connections and relations with one another'.(142) Thus it is clear from the context that the contradictions to which Stalin was alluding do not have a class character.

    The fact that Stalin was unaware of the contradictions which can arise among the people and denied the persistence of the class struggle under socialism did not prevent these two types of contradiction from existing. Thus he was confronted by a reality which he could not think scientifically. Nevertheless, he had to tackle the difficulty in one way or another. The solution which he came up with necessarily derived from the presuppositions he had adopted. As the contradictions were not contradictions between the people and its class enemies any more than they were non-antagonistic contradictions among the people, they could not be inside Soviet society and had to result from the capitalist encirclement.

    In a speech at the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU on 3 March 1937, Stalin stated what seemed to him to be obvious, namely that 'the bourgeois states would send to the rear of the Soviet Union twice and three times as many wreckers, spies, diversionists and murderers than to the rear of any bourgeois state'.(143)

    He explained (
144) that 'the Zinovievites and Trotskyites . . . have turned into a spying and diversive-terrorist agency of the German secret-police':(145)

Restoration of capitalism, the liquidation of the collective and State farms . . . the territorial dismemberment of the Soviet Union, handing the Ukraine to the Germans and the Maritime Province to the Japanese . . . wrecking, diversion, individual terror against the leader of the Soviet power, espionage in favour of Japano-German fascist forces - such was the political platform of contemporary Trotskyism . . . It is clear the Trotskyists could not but conceal such a platform from the people, from the working class. And they concealed it not only from the Trotskyist rank and file as well, and not only from the Trotskyist rank and file, but even from the upper Trotskyist leadership.

Since practically nobody was 'in the know' it remains to be explained on whom Trotsky could have counted to carry out such a programme. But let us press on, for one paradox more or less does not matter. Further on, Stalin characterised Trotskyists in general as 'an unprincipled band of wreckers devoid of ideas, diversionists, spies, murderers hired by foreign intelligence service organs'.(146)
    If these criminals were neither Trotskyist leaders nor members nor even fellow-travellers, in what sense can it be said that they were Trotskyists? The text which we quote leaves us in this quandary.
    Stalin acknowledged that the 'Trotskyist saboteurs' were few in number in relation to the Bolsheviks and the masses who supported them. But, he said, 'to build the Dneprostroi requires tens of thousands of workers, but to blow it up requires perhaps a few score people, no more'. Conclusion: 'We must see to it that there shall be none of these Trotskyist wreckers in our ranks'.(147)
    As he had emphasised at the beginning of his speech, moreover, that 'the wrecking and diversionist-espionage activity of agents of foreign states, among whom a pretty active role was played by the Trotskyists, has affected in one degree or another nearly all our organisations - economic, administrative and party',(148) his listeners must have taken his speech as an injunction to discover the saboteur or saboteurs, murderers, etc., concealed in their organisation.(149) There was no question, of course, of letting a single one escape with the benefit of the doubt, for it would be too dangerous. Neither was there any question of judging people by their actions. This would be the height of naïvité: 'The real wrecker will show success in his work from time to time',(150) and 'the wreckers usually time their major wrecking work not for the period of peacetime but for the period on the eve of war or of wartime itself'.(151) In other words, if you showed any success in your work this proved that you were a particularly cunning wrecker and all the more

 
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dangerous; best to stop you immediately before you had the time to commit your 'main act of wrecking'.
    As the enemy was a common criminal, it was the police who took charge of him and used highly persuasive methods to make him reveal the names of those who had recruited him and those whom he had himself recruited. Through this mathematically simple process, the number of arrests increased exponentially. It was no secret from anyone what 'enlarging the scope of the suppression' meant. Even in Stalin's time, the official Soviet sources contained fairly clear information on the forced labour camps. The English version of 'The forced labour code' was available in London from 1936. In 1949, the official Soviet publications noted 120,000 detainees freed after the completion of the canal from Moscow to the Volga.(152) The coalmines at Vorkhuta, Karaganda and Tugurska mainly employed this type of labour force. The administrative arbitrariness which presided over its 'recruitment' emerges clearly from the Russian legislative texts themselves. These texts authorised the deportation of Soviet citizens under investigation, without judgment or time limit.(153)

In 1939, Stalin proclaimed in his report to the 18th Congress:(154) It cannot be said that the purge was not accompanied by grave mistakes. There were undoubtedly more mistakes than might have been expected. Undoubtedly, we shall have no further need of resorting to the method of mass purges.

It is undoubtedly to Stalin's credit that he made a self-criticism in this way, but as well as revealing a tendency to understatement here, he was referring to the purge in the party of 1933-6 and not to the widespread arrests of 1936-8. On this last point, Stalin acknowledged certain mistakes implicitly and by what he did. Yezhov, who had led the purge of 1936-8, was arrested and Beria, his successor, freed many people who had been unjustly imprisoned.
    Thus, under Stalin, the different contradictions analysed rigorously by Mao Tse-tung were reduced to a single one: the one between the Soviet people and the spies, wreckers and murderers sent by the capitalist countries. There was also a single method to resolve it: police repression. The rank and file of the party and the broad masses intervened in this struggle only to approve the measures taken.(155)
    Nevertheless, in one of his speeches, Stalin did come close to a clear appreciation of the contradictions which faced him:(
156)

It cannot be said that the policy of the party may not have come up against contradictions. Not only the backward people who always avoid what is new but also many prominent members of our party have systematically pulled the party backwards and striven in every possible way to put it on the 'normal' capitalist road of development. All these machinations of the Trotskyists and right elements directed against the party, and all their 'activity' to wreck the measures of our government have had only one aim: to nullify the policy of the party and to put a stop to the work of collectivisation and industrialisation.

Stalin acknowledged here that he had to struggle against political opponents and not only against common criminals, but he did not draw any theoretical or practical conclusions from this.
    It is true, nonetheless, that 'enlarging the scope of the

 
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suppression' caused a great waste of human resources which makes the French title of one of Stalin's speeches sound rather strange: 'L'Homme, le capital le plus précieux' (Man, the most precious capital). In the Soviet camps, nothing was done to re-educate the internees ideologically. Their function was purely repressive. The common law was used to bully political prisoners, and the most unyielding of them were often executed. In consideration of which, Stalin could proclaim to the 18th Congress, 'the remnants of the exploiting classes have been completely eliminated'.(157)
    As a result the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat was only conserved to ensure the defence of the country against the imperialists:(
158)

We have abolished the exploiting classes; there are no longer any hostile classes in the country; there is nobody to suppress . . . the role and significance of . . . our military, punitive and intelligence organs . . . are no longer essential within the country but for the defence of the socialist land from foreign attack.

Consequently we can say that Stalin prepared the way for Khrushchev's theory of the State of the whole people.
    This is why the latter was forced to accuse Stalin of exactly the opposite mistake. In his secret report to the 20th Congress, Khrushchev stated: 'Stalin's report at the February-March Central Committee Plenum in 1937 . . . contained an attempt at theoretical justification of the mass terror policy under the pretext that as we march forward to socialism, class war must allegedly sharpen'.(159)
    In his anti-Chinese book, 'Le Problem chinois', Garaudy invokes once again this legend invented by Khrushchev as a historical truth. He has the effrontery to claim that one of Lin Piao's slogans 'adopts (sic) as its ideological basis the so-called "Stalin Law" according to which the class struggle worsens after the seizure of power and the advent of socialism in proportion to the gains made'. Garaudy quotes Stalin as saying, 'The growth of the power of the Soviet State will intensify the resistance of the last remnants of the dying classes' (in 'Results of the First Five-Year Plan, January 1933), and he denounces 'this false principle which has done so much damage in the party and the state of the Soviet Union'.(160)
    Here he makes two mistakes (if we are generous and do not call them 'lies'):

    1. The Chinese have never invoked the 'Stalin Law' of which Garaudy speaks as an ideological basis.
    2. Stalin did not only say or seem to say that the class struggle worsens after the 'advent of socialism in proportion to the gains made'. He also said the opposite.

The sentence quoted by Garaudy concerns the situation immediately after the expropriation of the kulaks and refers to the last (and all the more violent) convulsions of this dying class. A few years later, the latter had already died, according to Stalin, along with the other exploiting classes.
    The report to which Khrushchev alludes is entitled (in French) 'Pour une formation bolchevik', and we have just quoted from it profusely to show that Stalin thought the opposite of what the 'theoretician' of the 20th Congress makes him say. It is true that in it we find the following passage:(161)

 
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The greater our progress, the greater our successes, the more embittered the remnants of the smashed exploiting classes will become, the more quickly they will resort to sharper forms of struggle, the more they will do damage to the Soviet state, the more they will clutch at the most desperate means of struggle as the last resort of the doomed. We must bear in mind that the remnants of the routed classes in the USSR are not alone. They have direct support from our enemies beyond the borders of the USSR.

Must we conclude that Stalin was contradicting himself? I do not think so. This passage is perfectly consistent with all the others I have quoted provided that it is put back carefully into the context of the report which gives it its true meaning.
    According to Stalin, the former ruling classes had been liquidated 'as classes', since the economic basis of the exploitation of man by man had been abolished. The individuals who were its agents continued to exist, nevertheless, as 'remnants'. They were supported from without (capitalist encirclement). At the same time, they did not have an autonomous role but constituted one of the 'reserves' of Trotskyist wreckers, murderers and spies (the other reserve being recruited abroad). At the beginning of 1937, Stalin launched an appeal for the elimination of these criminal elements and one year later (as we have just seen) he felt in a position to announce their 'final liquidation'.
    Thus one of the principal sources of what we may agree to call Stalin's mistakes was not, as Khrushchev and Garaudy say, a belief in the worsening of the class struggle in proportion to the strengthening of the socialist state, but exactly the opposite: a misrecognition of the class struggle and the concrete forms which it assumes under socialism. This is why Stalin did not see enemies who had to be defeated ideologically and politically by the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses but only spies, murderers and wreckers to be dealt with by the police and the courts. In these conditions he could not prevent true communists being branded as fake saboteurs while false Bolsheviks who were true careerists of the Khrushchev type had access to key posts in the state.(162)
    It is now clear why Khrushchev, his acolytes and his successors have been forced to attribute to Stalin erroneous positions which were exactly the opposite to those which he actually held. They could not acknowledge the class struggle under socialism, the possibility that capitalism might be restored if the masses are not mobilised to make the revolution and defend the dictatorship of the proletariat or restore it in all the sectors where power has been usurped by leaders taking the capitalist road. Could they hold out for a single day if a broad democracy was established, if the 240 million people were transformed into 240 million critics? There is nothing the revisionist magnates dread so much as the cultural revolution. The aim of condemning Stalin's methods is to ensure a minimum of security and stability for the leading stratum. At the same time, the latter have to propagate an ideology of the withering away of the class struggle in order to camouflage the dismantling of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the restoration of capitalism that they have achieved. In order to lay a solid basis for its dictatorship, the new bourgeoisie, like the old, needs to

 
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claim that its state represents the general interest. In the name of the latter those who revolt can be struck down. The masses are completely disarmed ideologically; Marxism-Leninism loses all practical revolutionary significance and in this way the perpetuity of the system is ensured. Such is the function of that theoretical chimera: 'the state of the whole people'.
    The French revisionists should explain to us how it is that the Soviet state of the whole people was able to invade Czechoslovakia. Did not Marx say that a people which oppresses another cannot be free?

 
When one considers Stalin's mistakes as a whole, one begins to wonder: how were such things possible, even under the dictatorship of the proletariat? The reply to this question conditions the one I shall give to the problem of the degeneration of this power into Khrushchevite despotism, into the dictatorship of a new bourgeoisie.
    The Chinese communists have also been very clear on this point. Khrushchevite revisionism, which undertook the restoration of capitalism in the USSR, did not emerge fully armed from the 20th Congress. The terrain had been prepared for it under Stalin:

After the establishment of socialist relations of production, the Soviet Union failed to carry out a proletarian cultural revolution in earnest. Bourgeois ideology ran rife, corrupting the minds of the people and almost imperceptibly undermining the socialist relations of production. After the death of Stalin, there was a more blatant counter-revolutionary moulding of public opinion by the Khrushchev revisionist group.

The 20th Congress and the elimination of the so-called 'anti-party group' in June 1957 were decisive stages in this process. 'And (Khrushchev's) group soon afterwards staged its "palace" coup to subvert the dictatorship of the proletariat and usurped party, military and government power.'(163)
    The cultural revolution which unfolds in the superstructural domain was unthinkable in Stalin's time, among other things because for him it was without an object. In 'Concerning Marxism and [in] Linguistics', he laid it down as a principle of historical materialism that the superstructure disappears with the economic base that engendered it.(164) But he believed that 'in the main we have already achieved the first phase of communism, socialism' in the USSR even before 1936, as he declared in his report on the Draft Constitution.(165)
    Since we are granting that Stalin made a number of serious mistakes which helped to prepare the way for Khrushchevite revisionism, must we acknowledge courage and lucidity in those who condemned him publicly in his lifetime? I do not think so at all, for the following reason.
    The proletariat needed a revolutionary scientific analysis, not a moralistic denunciation quite within the powers of the bourgeoisie. But Trotsky shared the theoretical premises from which Stalin's mistakes sprang. Both reduced the construction of socialism to the development of the material productive forces; both denied the possibility of a bourgeoisie without private ownership of the means of production; neither recognised the distinction between

 
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antagonistic and non-antagonistic contradictions among the people and between the people and its enemies. Taking up the same terrain, posing the same false problems, they differed only in their solutions. For one, the enemy was the 'Bonapartist bureaucracy'; for the other, 'the agents dispatched by encircling capitalism'.
    In 'The Revolution Betrayed', Trotsky invoked a number of accurate facts relating to the trials, the camps, etc., but the 'facts' do not speak for themselves: otherwise, what need would there be for a science? Anti-communists pronounced the same 'truths' as Trotsky and for them they were a justification for anti-communism. Ernest Mandel has argued against us in a debate that the difference lay in the fact that the bourgeois publicists never criticised inequality. How naïve! To take only one example, Arthur Koestler waxes indignant in 'The Yogi and the Commissar' about the enormous disparities in income in the USSR. The ideological spokesmen of reaction have always considered it quite fair to attack revolutionaries for not carrying out their principles in practice. Isaac Deutscher himself conceded that 'The Revolution Betrayed' has been a mine of arguments for the '"Sovietologists" and propagandists of the cold war'.(166) No more than the latter can the Trotskyists presume on their precocious lucidity vis-à-vis Stalin because they lacked the first (and indissociable) conditions of a well-founded critique: revolutionary practice and scientific theory. The same goes for the other categories of opponents.
    Horrified by the violent police repression of all critical opinion even when it arose from contradictions among the people, numerous unstable intellectuals and disillusioned cadres denounced 'Stalinism', but in doing so they lapsed into a pre-Marxist position, adopting an ethical and humanist point of view.(167) They called for a freedom above classes; hence, in fact, the freedom for the bourgeoisie to oppress the workers ideologically and politically. Like Trotsky, Merleau-Ponty jeered at the 'intellectuals in retreat' and the 'league of abandoned hopes' but he himself demanded of them that they try to 'map out in spite of everything a path leading to a humanism for all men'.(168) In fact, only the proletariat can, by liberating itself, liberate all humanity. It is not by abandoning the outlook of the revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat that one will be able to 'map out a path leading to a humanism for all men'. The interest of 'all men' remains a hypocritical camouflage for bourgeois interests as long as classes continue and society has not effected its transition to the higher stage of communism.
    If these intellectuals were traitors, it is by no means for having criticised some policy or leader but for turning up on the other side of the barricade, against the people. Not all of them have become aware of this change in their class position and most did not wish it. However, it was inevitable not only because there is no third road but also for another reason that is rarely suspected: even the best among them, those who had participated in the revolutionary struggle in responsible positions, were only party officials; their links with the masses were mediated by the party apparatus. Once removed from this apparatus, they were cut off from the masses because in fact they had never been linked to them. It was possible not to follow Stalin slavishly in his mistakes without

 
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degenerating into a class enemy provided that one remained linked to the masses and learned with them to serve the people and further their fundamental interest, the liberating revolution. Mao Tse-tung and his comrades, who did not always agree with the leadership of their party or with Stalin, did just this. While applying themselves to correcting both the latter's mistakes in practice, they were careful not to make trenchant judgments of them or to make any public condemnation, considering that this could only provoke splits and help the enemy without being of any use to the people.

 
Nevertheless, it is true that under Stalin the position of intellectuals, even those who strived to assimilate historical materialism, was not exactly an easy one. On the one hand, they more or less confusedly recognised (through their effects) the mistakes of Stalin which we have just discussed. On the other hand, they were more especially sensitive to certain deviations on the level of proletarian policy with respect to science and culture which Stalin, great Marxist-Leninist though he was, had not been able to avoid.(169) I am thinking particularly of the inept criticisms made of relativity theory, cybernetics and classical genetics after 1945. In these cases there was confusion between the scientific theories, not questionable as such, and the philosophical interpretations which were supposedly deduced from them by reactionary scientists or philosophers eager to pass off their idealist rubbish under a guaranteed scientific wrapping. Stalin and Zhdanov fell into the trap that Lenin had revealed in 'Materialism and Empirio-Criticism'. Lysenko, who had the benefit of their support although his ideas were, to say the least, debatable, was able to reduce his critics to silence at the extraordinary session of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences in August 1948 by proclaiming that the Central Committee had 'examined and approved' his report (!). After Stalin's death, Khrushchev came to his aid (particularly in April 1957) and revived the marks of official support which he desperately needed after the costly failure of the attempts to sow winter corn in Siberia in accordance with his ideas.
    Michurin and his disciple Lysenko claimed to be developing Darwin's theory, but in fact their doctrine was an avatar of Lamarckianism. They gave undue prominence to teleological explanations and denied the struggle for existence within the same (particularly vegetable) species. They argued, above all, for the heredity of characteristics acquired through environmental influence, rejecting the distinction between germen and soma. This teaching was not dialectical-materialist and advances in the science were made by a different route. Our steadily growing knowledge of chromosomes and genes, the great discoveries of molecular biology, more especially that of DNA, enable us today to glimpse the concrete possibility of modifying the hereditary patrimony of the species according to our needs. Nature is only governed by obeying it.
    Yet in 1962, Garaudy praised Lysenko for having put forward 'the fruitful idea of transporting transformism onto the experimental level'.(
170) In fact, the same relation existed between Lysenko's 'works' and future discoveries in experimental transformism as between the transmutation of elements which the alchemists claimed

 
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to perform and those which take place in an atomic pile or particle accelerator.
    As a result of the controversy about Michurinism, communist scientists like Haldane (in England) and Prenant (in France) were estranged from the party and later degenerated more or less.
    In China, on the other hand, the Central Committee has never been seen to use its authority to settle a debate between scientists about questions within their sphere of competence and Mao Tse-tung has criticised those of his comrades who 'interfere in certain matters in scientific and cultural work where interference is unwarranted'.(171)
    Intervening in the 1947 debate, Zhdanov had correctly emphasised the necessity for a class point of view and the party spirit in philosophy. It may be that, unfortunately, in doing so, he did not sufficiently warn against an immediately political (and therefore simplistic and non-dialectical) reading of contributions to the sciences and arts without consideration of the appropriate scientific or aesthetic criteria. It was at this time that the erroneous idea of distinguishing between a 'bourgeois science' and a 'proletarian science' gained ground - as if it was not obvious that the natural sciences taken in themselves can indiscriminately serve either of the classes, both of which have the same interest in knowing the laws of nature in order to dominate it. In 1950, Stalin put an end to these mistaken ideas by stating vis-à-vis the object of linguistics a truth which can be generalised ('a fortiori') to the objects of the other sciences:(172)

As a means of intercourse between the people of a society, language serves all classes of that society equally, and in this respect plays what may be called an indifference to classes. But . . . the classes are far from being indifferent to language. He also recalled that 'no science can develop and flourish without a battle of opinions, without freedom of criticism', because 'this rule (has been) ignored and flouted in the most unceremonious fashion'.(173)

The Trotskyists and revisionists have enleagued to accuse the Chinese communists of being 'Stalinists', not in the sense in which this is actually true but in order to attribute to them the aim of 'imposing on other parties the order of things, ideology, morals, forms and methods of leadership which were dominant during the period of the personality cult'.(174) But the most radical refutation of these methods is to be found in the practice of the Chinese Communist Party and in Mao's writings, more especially in that entitled 'On the correct handling of contradictions among the people'. There Mao states that the party 'must necessarily let the people take part in political activities', that that is how they can educate themselves, that differences must be resolved 'through criticism or struggle' and that it is permissible to criticise even Marxism.(175) It is clear that on all these points Mao takes an opposite view to the ideas and especially to the practice in force under Stalin. Is not the principle: 'Cure the sickness to save the patient' the opposite to that of curing the sickness by killing the patient which was tacitly applied in Stalin's time as a result of confusion between methods which may be necessary in the struggle against enemies with those which are appropriate for disagreements

 
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with comrades or class brothers? When Mao writes, 'Communists must always go into the whys and wherefores of anything, use their own heads and carefully think over whether or not it corresponds to reality and is really well-founded; on no account should they follow blindly and encourage slavishness',(176) he is stating a principle which seems quite new to those who have long been activists in parties trained by Stalin. Just think: to exercise one's critical faculties with regard to the decisions of the party's leading bodies!
    In short, Stalin had not ensured the collective participation of the people in political activity. The ease with which the Khrushchevites usurped power has no other explanation.
    Mao Tse-tung has always fought attempts to introduce into China Soviet ideas about the army or the party in its internal functioning and its relations with the masses.
    The Soviet Red Army knew discipline but not democracy. Exorbitant material privileges were introduced into it to the advantage of the officers and especially the generals. Glittering decorations, gold-laced uniforms, rolling drums and other masquerades contributed to the glorification of the higher ranks, setting them above the simple soldiers. The memory of the strategists of Tsarist feudalism, the Suvarovs and the Kutuzovs were exalted. The factors considered primordial were military, material and technical competence, not proletarian political consciousness. The military hardly ever participated in productive labour; in these conditions, the Red Army was too much like a bourgeois army to correspond to its concept.
    For ten years, under Soviet influence, the Chinese People's Liberation Army conformed to this model, but since 1960 it has reverted to the Yenan tradition in order to be a true People's Army. For this it was necessary to turn against the ideas which had prevailed beforehand.
    Stalin tended to believe that, in the elaboration of the political line, one had to start from the leaders so as to return to the leaders. Mao's emphasis is quite different: one must start from the masses so as to return to the masses. This means in particular that the party is under the control of the masses and not the opposite.
    To strengthen vigilance in the face of the secret machinations of the enemy, Stalin had instituted 'ideological relations' and a whole system of surveillance which, in practice, far from unmasking the careerists, afforded them new possibilities for getting rid of 'intruders' by means of gossip and informing. It was presumably by means of this sort that individuals like Khrushchev succeeded in climbing into the higher echelons of the party. When Liu Shao-chi and his deputy An Tse-wen introduced these Moscow methods into China in the 1940s, Mao opposed them.
    With the great proletarian cultural revolution, the novelty of Mao's teaching stood out with the maximum of force and clarity and transformed itself into a hurricane which swept away the old ideas, the old customs, the old fetishes. This unprecedented revolution radiates its liberating ideology throughout the world. It has profoundly changed our image of socialism, which used to bear the imprint of the Russian experience with all its negative aspects uncriticised, and in a sense hitherto uncriticisable.