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Did Stalin know of the intrigues that the revisionists around him were
The main report presented by
to the Nineteenth Congress in October
1952, along with Stalin's book Economic Problems of Socialism,
published on the same occasion, showed that Stalin was convinced that
a new struggle against opportunism and a new purge of the Party had
report had Stalin's brand. It defended the revolutionary
ideas that would be dismantled four years later by
It virulently criticized a number of negative tendencies in
the economy and in the life of the Party, tendencies that would be
imposed in 1956 by
First, recalling the 1937--1938 Purge,
`In the light of the war and its results, we perceive in all its
magnitude the importance of that implacable struggle which over a
period of many years our Party waged against every brand of enemy of
capitulators and traitors who tried to deflect the Party from the
right path and to split its ranks ....
By demolishing the
the Party in good time destroyed all possibility of the appearance of
a ``fifth column'' in the U.S.S.R., and prepared the country
politically for active defence. It will be easily understood that if
this had not been done in time, we should, during the war, have found
ourselves under fire from the front and the rear, and might have lost
, pp. 108--109.
Four years later,
would deny that the
had degenerated to the point of defending a
social-democratic and bourgeois platform, as he would deny that some
among them had made contacts with hostile foreign forces.
then invented the theory according to which socialism had definitely
triumphed in 1936 and there was no longer a social basis for
treason, nor for capitalist restoration! Here are the main
`(T)he Soviet state was strengthened, ... the exploiting classes
were already liquidated and socialist relations were rooted solidly in
all phases of national economy'.
Special Report, op. cit.
, p. S17.
`(S)ocialism in our country was fundamentally constructed, ... the
exploiting classes were generally liquidated, ... the Soviet
social structure had radically changed, ... the social basis for
political movements and groups hostile to the party had violently
, p. S15.
concluded that the Purge was an arbitrary act that was in
no way justified, thereby rehabilitating the political positions of
the opportunists and the enemies of socialism.
In his Report to the XIXth Congress,
underscored four major
weaknesses of the Party. It was precisely those weaknesses that
would use four years later to achieve his revisionist coup.
underscored that many bureaucratized cadres refused criticism
and control from their base, and were formalist and uncaring:
`Not in all Party organizations, and nowhere by any means in
full measure, have self-criticism, and especially criticism from below
become the principal method of disclosing and overcoming our errors
and shortcomings, our weaknesses and maladies ....
`There are cases when people are persecuted and victimized for
criticism. We still meet with responsible workers who never tire of
professing their fidelity to the Party, but who actually cannot
tolerate criticism from below, stifle it, and revenge themselves on
those who criticize them. We know of plenty of cases where a
bureaucratic attitude towards criticism and self-criticism has
... killed ... initiative ... and infected some of the
organizations with the anti-Party habits of bureaucrats, sworn enemies
of the Party.
`(W)herever ... control by the masses over the activities of
organizations and institutions is weakened, there ... bureaucracy
and degeneration, and even the corruption of individual sections of
the Party apparatus, invariably appear ....
`(A)chievement has bred in the ranks of the Party a tendency to
self-satisfaction, to make a pretence of all being well, a spirit of
smug complacency, a desire on the part of people to rest on their
laurels and to live on the capital of their past services ....
Leaders ... not infrequently
turn meetings, gatherings of active members, plenary meetings and
conferences into vainglorious displays, into occasions of
self-laudation, with the result that errors and shortcomings in work,
maladies and weaknesses are not brought to light and subjected to
criticism .... A spirit of negligenge has penetrated our Party
, pp. 113--116.
This was a recurrent theme in Stalin's work of the thirties: appeals
to the base so that it criticizes and controls the bureaucrats who are
looking for the quiet life, who repress the active members, are
uncaring and behave as enemies of Communism. This text leaves one to
wonder about the torrent of criticisms that Stalin wanted once again
to raise against the revisionists.
Four years later, when
denounced the `insecurity, fear and
despair' that supposedly reigned under Stalin, he promised to the
bureaucratic and opportunistic elements that he could now doze in
tranquility. They would no longer be `persecuted' by the `leftist'
criticisms from the base. Self-satisfaction and the tranquil life
would be the principal characteristics of the revisionist bureaucracy
that definitely took power under
denounced the Communists who ignored Party
discipline and behaved as owners:
`A formal attitude to decisions of Party and government, and passivity
in carrying them out, is a vice that must be eradicated with the
utmost ruthlessness. The Party does not need inert and indifferent
executives who prize their own comfort higher than the interests of
the work; it needs men who will fight indefatigably and
`There are quite a number of executives who forget that the
enterprises to their charge are state enterprises, and try to turn
them into their own private domain, where ... they ... can do
anything they fancy .... there are quite a number of executives
who believe that Party decisions and Soviet laws are not written for
`Anyone who attempts to conceal the truth from the Party and to
deceive the Party cannot be allowed to remain in its ranks.'
, pp. 119--121.
denounced in this passage would soon find
to be their representative.
spokesperson for the bureaucrats when he criticized the
`excessive replacement of cadres'.
`Central Committee Report', The
Documentary Record of the 20th Communist Party Congress and its
Aftermath (New York: Frederick A. Praeger), p. 58.
text allows us to better understand what was really going
diatribes against Stalin. Stalin had, he said,
`abandoned the method of ideological struggle'; using the expression
`enemy of the people', Stalin systematically had recourse to `mass
repressions and terror'.
`Secret Report', op. cit.
, pp. S14--S15.
These phrases were designed to ensure the position of those who had
been attacked in
text, those who made State enterprises into
their own personal fiefdoms, those who hid the truth from the Party so
that they could steal and redirect without punishment, those who
blathered on with
phrases without the slightest
intention of adhering to them. With
all those who aspired
to become real bourgeois no longer had to fear the `mass repressions and
terror' of the socialist power.
attacked those cadres who formed clans not subject to
any control and that enriched themselves illegally:
`(S)ome officials themselves engage in filching collective-farm
property .... these men convert to their own use common land,
compel collective-farm boards and chairmen to supply them with grain,
meat, milk and other produce at low prices, and even gratis'.
, p. 76.
`(S)ome of our executives do not base their selection of personnel on
political and business qualifications, but on considerations of
kinship, friendship and hometown ties .... Owing to such
distortions of the Party line in the matter of selection and promotion
of personnel, we get in some organizations close coteries who
constitute themselves into a mutual insurance society and set their
group interests higher than the interests of Party and state. It is
not surprising that such a state of affairs usually results in
degeneration and corruption.'
, p. 124.
`An unscrupulous and irresponsible attitude towards the carrying out of
the directives of leading bodies is the most dangerous and vicious
manifestation of bureaucracy.'
, p. 122.
`(T)he primary purpose of verification of fulfilment is to disclose
shortcomings, to expose infringement of law, to help honest executives
with advice, to punish the incorrigible'.
, pp. 125--126.
cadres would no longer be chosen for having the best
political qualities. On the contrary, those would be `purged' for
being `Stalinist'. Bourgeois circles would form around
circles completely estranged from
revolutionary, popular action, exactly as
would no longer be there to `punish the unrepentant', but the
unrepentant would now punish the real Communists.
criticized the cadres that neglected their
ideological work, allowing bourgeois tendencies to emerge once again
and become the dominant ideologies:
`Many Party organizations underrate the importance of
ideological work, with the result that it falls short of the Party's
requirements, and in many organizations is in a state of
`(I)f the influence of socialist ideology is weakened the effect is
to strengthen the influence of the bourgeois ideology ....
`(W)e still have vestiges of the bourgeois ideology, relics of the
private-property mentality and morality. These relics ... are very
tenacious and may strengthen their hold, and a determined struggle
must be waged against them. Nor are we guaranteed against the
infiltration of alien views, ideas and sentiments from outside, from
the capitalist countries, or from inside, from the relics of groups
hostile to the Soviet state ....'
, pp. 126--127.
`Whoever ... relies upon formulas learned by rote, and has no
feeling for the new, is incapable of understanding home and foreign
, p. 128.
`Some of our Party organizations tend to devote all their attention to
economic affairs and to forget ideological matters .... Whenever
attention to ideological questions is relaxed, a favourable soil is
created for the revival of views and ideas hostile to us.
If there are sectors of ideological work which for any reason fall out
of the purview of Party organizations, if there are sectors in which
Party leadership and influence have slackened, alien elements, the
groups smashed by the Party, will try to get
hold of these sectors'.
, p. 127.
of its content, transforming it into a
series of slogans with no revolutionary spirit. The resulting vacuum
drew in all the old social-democratic and bourgeois ideologies, that
would be taken up by the youth. Furthermore,
or simply eliminate the essential notions of
anti-imperialist struggle, socialist revolution, dictatorship of the
proletariat, continuing the class struggle, basic concepts of a
Party, etc. When he spoke of
proposed the opposite to
`It must be admitted that for many years our Party cadres were
insufficiently indoctrinated in the ... practical problems of
`Central Committee Report', op. cit.
, p. 57.
By rehabilitating opportunists and enemies who had been purged,
allowed the resurrection of social-democratic, bourgeois
and Tsarist ideological currents.
During the plenum that followed the Nineteenth Congress, Stalin was even
harsher in his criticisms of
almost openly clashed with
All the leaders understood
perfectly well that Stalin insisted upon a radical change of course.
clearly understood the message and, like the others,
made himself very scarce:
`Stalin evidently had plans to finish off the old members of the Political
Bureau. He often stated that the Political Bureau members should be
replaced by new ones.
`His proposal, after the 19th Congress, concerning the election of
25 persons to the Central Committee Presidium, was aimed at the removal
of the old Political Bureau members and the bringing in of less
experienced persons ....
`We can assume that this was also a design for the future annihilation of
the old Political Bureau members and, in this way, a cover for all
shameful acts of Stalin.'
`Secret Report', op. cit.
, p. S63.
At the time, Stalin was a old man, tired and sick. He acted with
caution. Having made the conclusion that the members of the Politburo
were no longer trustworthy, he introduced more revolutionary minded
youth to the presidium, in order to temper and test them. The
revisionists and plotters like
that they would soon lose their positions.
Still according to
Stalin is to have said to the members
of the Politburo, after the Doctor's Plot in the end of 1952:
`You are blind like young kittens; what will happen without me?
The country will perish because you do not know how
to recognize enemies.'
, p. S49.
put forward that statement as proof of Stalin's folly and
paranoia. But history has shown that the comment was correct.
Next: Khrushchev's coup d'état
Up: Stalin against opportunism
Previous: Beria's and Khrushchev's
Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995