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In Communist Parties around the world, the ideological struggle around the Stalin question presents many common characteristics

In all capitalist countries, the economic, political and ideological pressure exerted by the bourgeoisie on Communists is incredibly strong. It is a permanent source of degeneration, of treason, of slow descent into the other camp. But every treacherous act requires ideological justification in the eyes of the one who is committing it. In general, a revolutionary who engages on the downward slope of opportunism `discovers the truth about Stalinism'. He or she takes, as is, the bourgeois and anti-Communist version of the history of the revolutionary movement under Stalin. In fact, the renegades make no discovery, they simply copy the bourgeoisie's lies. Why have so many renegades `discovered the truth about Stalin' (to improve the Communist movement, of course), but none among them has `discovered the truth about Churchill'?  A discovery which would be much more important for `improving' the anti-imperialist struggle! Having a record of half a century of crimes in the service of the British Empire (Boer War in South Africa, terror in India, inter-imperialist First World War followed by military intervention against the new Soviet republic, war against Iraq, terror in Kenya, declaration of the Cold War, aggression against antifascist Greece, etc.), Churchill  is probably the only bourgeois politician of this century to have equalled Hitler. 

Every political and historical work is marked by the class position of its author. From the twenties to 1953, the majority of Western publications about the Soviet Union served the bourgeoisie's and the petit-bourgeoisie's attacks against Soviet socialism. Writings by Communist Party members and of Left intellectuals trying to defend the Soviet experience constituted a weak counter-current in defending the truth about the Soviet experience. But, from 1953--1956, Khrushchev  and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union would take up, bit by bit, all the bourgeois historiography about the Stalin period.

Since then, revolutionaries in the Western world have been subject to a terrible and unending ideological onslaught about the crucial periods in the rise of the Communist movement, particularly the Stalin era. If Lenin  led the October Revolution and drew the main lines for building socialism, it was Stalin who actually put those lines into action for thirty years. The bourgeoisie's hatred is of course concentrated on the titanic task achieved under Stalin. A Communist who does not adopt a firm class position with respect to the misleading, one-sided, incomplete or false information that the bourgeoisie spreads around will be lost forever. For no other subject in recent history does the bourgeoisie denigrate its adversaries so fiercely. Every Communist must adopt a attitude of systematic mistrust towards all `information' furnished by the bourgeoisie (and the Khrushchevites)  about the Stalin period. And he or she must do everything possible to discover the rare alternative sources of information that defend Stalin's revolutionary endeavor.

But opportunists in different parties dare not directly confront the anti-Stalin ideological offensive directly, despite its clear anti-Communist goal. The opportunists bend backwards under pressure, saying `yes to a criticism of Stalin', but pretending to criticize Stalin `from the Left'.

Today, we can sum up seventy years of `criticisms from the Left' formulated by the revolutionary experience of the Bolshevik Party under Stalin. There are hundreds of works available, written by social-democrats and Trotskyists,  by Bukharinists  and `independent' Left intellectuals. Their points of view have been taken up and developed by Khrushchevites  and Titoists.  We can better understand today the real class meaning of these works. Did any of these criticisms lead to revolutionary practices more important than the work under Stalin? Theories are, of course, judged by the social practice they engender. The revolutionary practice of the world Communist movement under Stalin shook the whole world and gave a new direction to the history of humanity. During the years 1985--1990, in particular, we have been able to see that all the so-called `Left critics' of Stalin have jumped onto the anti-Communist bandwagon, just countless cheerleaders. Social-democrats, Trotskyists,  anarchists, Bukharinists,  Titoists,  ecologists, all found themselves in the movement for `liberty, democracy and human rights', which liquidated what remained of socialism in Eastern Europe and in the USSR. All these `Left criticisms' of Stalin had as final consequence the restoration of savage capitalism, the reinstatement of a merciless dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the destruction of all social gains, cultural and political rights for the working masses and, in many cases, to the emergence of fascism and of reactionary civil wars.

When Khrushchev  initiated the anti-Stalin campaigns in 1956, those Communists who resisted revisionism and defended Stalin were affected in a peculiar manner.

In 1956, the Chinese Communist Party had the revolutionary courage to defend Stalin's work. Its document, `Once more on the experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat', considerably helped Marxist-Leninists   all over the world. Based on their own experience, the Chinese Communists criticized certain aspects of Stalin's work. This is perfectly normal and necessary in a discussion among Communists.

However, with the benefit of time, it seems that their criticisms were formulated too generally. This negatively influenced many Communists who lent credibility to all sorts of opportunistic criticisms.

For example, the Chinese comrades claimed that Stalin did not always clearly distinguish the two kinds of contradiction, those among the people, which can be overcome through education and struggle, and those between the people and the enemy, which require appropriate means of struggle. From this general criticism, some concluded that Stalin did not properly treat the contradictions with Bukharin, and ended up embracing Bukharin's social-democratic political line.

The Chinese Communists also stated that Stalin interfered in the affairs of other parties and denied them their independence. From this general criticism, some concluded that Stalin was wrong in condemning Tito's  politics, ultimately accepting Titoism  as a `specifically Yugoslav form of Marxism-Leninism'.   The recent events in Yugoslavia allow one to better understand how Tito,  since his break with the Bolshevik Party, followed a bourgeois-nationalist line and ultimately fell into the U.S. fold.

The ideological reticence and errors enumerated above about the Stalin question, occurred in almost all Marxist-Leninist   parties.

A general conclusion can be drawn. In our judgment of all the episodes during the period 1923--1953, we must struggle to understand completely the political line held by the Bolshevik Party and by Stalin. We cannot accept any criticism of Stalin's work without verifying all primary data pertaining to the question under debate and without considering all versions of facts and events, in particular the version given by the Bolshevik leadership.


next up previous contents index
Next: The young Stalin Up: Introduction: The importance Previous: Stalin's work takes

Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995