Category Archives: Myth-Busting

Winston Churchill on Conspiracies in the Soviet Union

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“In the autumn of 1936, a message from a high military source in Germany was conveyed to President Beneš [President of Czechoslovakia – E.S.] to the effect that if he wanted to take advantage of the Fuehrer’s offer, he had better be quick, because events would shortly take place in Russia rendering any help he could give to Germany insignificant.

While Beneš was pondering over this disturbing hint he became aware that communications were passing through the Soviet Embassy in Prague between important personages in Russia and the German Government. This was a part of the so-called military and Old-Guard Communist conspiracy to overthrow Stalin and introduce a new régime based on a pro-German policy. President Beneš lost no time in communicating all he could find out to Stalin. Thereafter there followed the merciless, but perhaps not needless, military and political purge in Soviet Russia, and the series of trials in January 1937, in which Vyshinsky, the Public Prosecutor, played so masterful a part.

[….]

The Russian Army was purged of its pro-German elements [...] The bias of the Soviet Government was turned in a marked manner against Germany. […] The situation was, of course, thoroughly understood by Hitler; but I am not aware that the British and French Governments were equally enlightened. To Mr. Chamberlain and the British and French General Staffs the purge of 1937 presented itself mainly as a tearing to pieces internally of the Russian Army, and a picture of the Soviet Union as riven asunder by ferocious hatreds and vengeance.”

– Winston Churchill, “The Gathering Storm: The Second World War, Volume 1,” page 258.

Alexander Werth on the Military Purges and Tukhachevsky

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“I am also pretty sure that the purge in the Red Army had a great deal to do with Stalin’s belief in an imminent war with Germany. What did Tukhachevsky stand for? People of the French Deuxieme Buereau told me long ago that Tukhachevsky was pro-German. And the Czechs told me the extraordinary story of Tukhachevsky’s visit to Prague, when towards the end of a banquet – he had got rather drunk – he blurted out that an agreement with Hitler was the only hope for both Czechoslovakia and Russia. And he then proceeded to abuse Stalin. The Czechs did not fail to report this to Kremlin, and that was the end of Tukhachevsky – and so many of his followers.”

– Alexander Werth, quoted in Harpal Brar, Perestroika: The Complete Collapse of Revisionism, page 161.

The Tukhachevsky Conspiracy

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Yuri Yemelianov

On the 70th Anniversary of the Treason Trials

On the 11th of June 1937 Moscow radio announced the arrest of the former chief of the Red Army General Headquarters Marshal M. Tukhachevsky and 7 other Soviet leading military figures. The arrested were put to trial before the military branch of the USSR Supreme Court. The radio report said that they were ‘accused of having violated their duty as soldiers, of having broken their military oath of allegiance and of having committed treason against the Soviet Union in the interests of a foreign country… It was established that the defendants… had organised an anti-State movement and had been in contact with the military circles of a foreign country pursuing an anti-Soviet policy. In favour of that country the defendants conducted military espionage. Their activity was aimed at ensuring the defeat of the Red Army in the event of the country being attacked. The ultimate aim was the restoration of big land ownership and capitalism. All accused made confessions’.

After a brief trial the USSR Supreme Court passed death penalty on all the defendants. Subsequently a substantial number of other military and Party officials were arrested and put to trial.

Now these events which happened over 70 years ago are used in post-Soviet Russia as a pretext for another noisy anti-Soviet propaganda campaign. Mass meetings and marches with Christian crosses are organised to commemorate the 70th anniversary of these events. TV and other mass media use this occasion in order to continue depicting the USSR history as the time of ‘Great Terror’ against innocent people, falsely accused of crimes which they did not commit. It is also claimed that the arrest of Tukhachevsky and other Soviet military leaders seriously handicapped the Red Army which led to severe setbacks in 1941, loss of great Soviet territories and manpower.

For the first time this interpretation of the arrest and trial of Tukhachevsky and others was made public by N. S. Khrushchev over 50 years ago. The then First Secretary of the CPSU asserted that the German Gestapo concocted papers, which compromised Tukhachevsky and others in order to weaken the Red Army on the eve of World War II. These forged papers were passed to the Soviet Government. Khrushchev claimed that Stalin was pathologically suspicious and this was the reason why he took the German fabrication at its face value and ordered the arrest of Tukhachevsky and others. According to Khrushchev further arrests and trials were caused by Stalin’s paranoia and his inborn cruelty.

Though there are some real facts behind Khrushchev’s version (e.g. the existence of papers forged by the Gestapo) his explanation is refuted by a number of comparatively recent publications made by a number of Russian historians, including the author of the present article. In such books as A. Martirosyan’s ‘The Conspiracy of Marshals’ (Moscow, Veche, 2003), S. Minakov’s ‘Stalin and the Conspiracy of Generals’ (Moscow, Yauza, 2005), ‘The Conspiracies and the Struggle for Power. From Lenin to Khrushchev’ (Moscow, Veche, 2003) by R. Balandin and S. Mironov, a reader will find detailed and ample evidence which contradicts the essence of Khrushchev’s version.

But even before the publication of these and other Russian books a number of authors in the West presented some facts which proved beyond doubt that the Tukhachevsky conspiracy was not a result of Stalin’s gullibility or a figment of his imagination but a stark reality. The appropriate facts were narrated in memoirs by a former German Intelligence chief Walter Schellenberg, in a book by a former NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) officer Alexander Orlov, who escaped from the USSR to the West in 1938, in a book ‘The Conspirators’ by an American historian Geoffrey Bailey. A brief account of how the Tukhachevsky plot was formed and developed was given in the book ‘Hitler Moves East 1941–1943’ by a former personal interpreter of Hitler, Paul Schmidt (his literary name — Paul Carell).

Summarising all these facts narrated and analysed by Russian, German and American authors one comes to a conclusion that the origin of the June 1937 events differs radically from the explanation given by Khrushchev and modern Russian political mass media. First of all, these events were connected with the struggle going on inside the Soviet Communist Party in the 1920s. One should take into account that since 1918 L. D. Trotsky was the chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Soviet Republic and its People’s Commissar for military affairs. Many of the leading figures in the Red Army were appointed by Trotsky during the Civil War. Sharing the political views of their chief they tended to overrate military methods of administration and the role of the Red Army in the world revolutionary process. Many of them continued to occupy commanding posts in the Red Army after Trotsky was ousted from his posts in 1925.

Despite their public recantations, many of them continued to share Trotsky’s views and attitudes with their typical blend of adventurism and disregard for ideological principles, especially when dealing with the enemies of the Soviet Revolution. The adventurist approach to the problems of military strategy and organisation of the Red Army was characteristic for Tukhachevsky and the group of his supporters. The differences on these issues led to latent but growing confrontation of this group with the majority of the Red Army commanders.

Like Trotsky himself many of the Trotskyists in the Red Army were prone to put their personal ambitions above the interests of the working class and the Soviet state. Some of them dreamt of Bonapartist careers.

The tendency to conclude alliances with politically and ideologically alien forces for the sake of personal struggle for power (so typical for Trotsky during his political career) revealed itself in establishing close relations between some Soviet and German officers. At that time the Versailles treaty barred Germany from having military educational establishments. According to a secret Soviet-German agreement concluded at the initiative of Trotskyist Karl Radek who was then influential in the Soviet Government, a large group of German officers set up their military schools in Soviet Russia thus by-passing the clauses of the Versailles treaty. Not only Radek, but other Soviet leaders supported this agreement since at that time the cooperation of Soviet Russia with Germany was seen as a breakthrough of the united Anti-Soviet front of capitalist states. The possible negative consequences of the agreement were not taken into account.

While the Soviet-German agreement existed Tukhachevsky and a number of other Soviet military commanders cultivated friendly relations with their German colleagues. The latter often invited the Soviet officers to Germany. Unfortunately such contacts were not limited to exchanges of opinions in the field of purely professional problems. Some of the military of both countries tended to discuss the benefits of military rule and possibilities of joint interference of the military into civilian lives of both countries. Plans for mutual assistance of the military of the two countries in case of political changes in the two countries began to evolve.

The Nazi takeover in 1933 interrupted the active military cooperation between Germany and the USSR. Though at that time the German military wholly supported Hitler, they were keen to mind their own interests and were ready to take power if the Nazi regime was to totter. (The German military plotters almost performed a coup d’etat in September 1938. Then they were afraid that Germany would lose the war in case Britain and France would take a resolute stand and defend Czechoslovakia. Only the capitulation of France and Britain at Munich made the plotters discard their plans. Another attempt to overthrow the Hitler government was undertaken by them in July 1944 at the time when the Nazi regime was already doomed.)

Their own plans of military takeover in the USSR were nourished by Tukhachevsky and his supporters. At the same time Tukhachevsky and others tried to enlist support of some ambitious Party leaders for realisation of their Bonapartist plans. According to Paul Carell, ‘since 1935 Tukhachevsky had maintained a kind of revolutionary committee in Khabarovsk… Its members included senior administrative officials and Army commanders, but also some young Party functionaries in high posts, such as the Party leader in the Northern Caucasus, Boris Sheboldayev’.

Despite the termination of the Soviet-German military agreement Tukhachevsky maintained close cooperation with the German generals. Carell wrote: ‘In the spring of 1936 Tukhachevsky went to London as the leader of the Soviet delegation attending the funeral of the King George V. Both his outward and homeward journeys led him through Berlin. He used the opportunity for talks with leading German generals. He wanted to make sure that Germany would not use any possible revolutionary unrest in the Soviet Union as a pretext for marching against the East. What mattered to him most was his idea of a German-Russian alliance after overthrow of Stalin… Tukhachevsky became increasingly convinced that the alliance between Germany and the Soviet Union was an inescapable commandment of history’.

In his book ‘The Conspirators’ Geoffrey Bailey quotes an attested remark by Tukhachevsky made at that time to the Rumanian Foreign Minister Titulescu. He said: ‘You are wrong to tie the fate of your country to countries which are old and finished, such as France and Britain. We ought to turn towards new Germany. For some at least Germany will assume the leading position on the continent of Europe’.

Meanwhile the pro-German statements made by Tukhachevsky in Western European countries during his trip to Britain became known in France and Czechoslovakia. The mutual assistance treaties of both countries with the USSR concluded in 1935 united them in a joint anti-Nazi coalition. The information that such an important figure as Tukhachevsky took a pro-German stand caused grave concern in Paris and Prague. The two governments notified the Soviet Government about Tukhachevsky’s statements.

Meanwhile at the end of 1936 and the beginning of 1937 a number of Red Army officers were arrested in the USSR. During their interrogation the NKVD got information about the existence of a wide-spread plot against the Soviet Government. It was a time when arrests of some saboteurs, connected with the Trotskyist opposition revealed the lack of vigilance and political insight on the part of many Party functionaries.

It all happened at the time when the USSR adopted a new Constitution, called Stalinist, as Stalin was its initiator. Its constitution was meant to promote the democratisation of Soviet society. Unfortunately many of the Party officials, especially on a local level were reluctant to put the principles of the new Constitution into practice. Since 1917 during almost two decades they got accustomed to methods of administration used at the time of the Civil War. Many of them grew accustomed to their unchallenged high positions and they drew support from close circles of their personal friends. In fact their political attitudes were close to those of Tukhachevsky and his supporters. At the plenary session of the Central Committee of the USSR Communist Party held in February-March 1937 many of its members demanded increased repressive measures instead of the democratisation urged by the Stalinist Constitution.

In his speech at this plenary session Stalin spoke about the urgent need to raise the ideological and political level of all Party functionaries and offered a plan for their education. At the same time he severely criticised the tendency of Party officials to surround themselves by groups of their personal supporters. He suggested electing new functionaries at every Party level while the old functionaries were being educated at specially set-up schools. Stalin warned that unless the Communist Party kept close contacts with the working class it might perish. He reminded of the fate of Antaeus from Greek mythology, who lost the battle with Hercules as soon as he failed to have a contact with the Earth, who was his mother.

But the words of Stalin were unheeded by many of the Party officials. They were afraid to lose their jobs and they started to devise plans of mass reprisals in order to get rid of potential competitors for their posts.

Meanwhile Tukhachevsky and other conspirators, using unrest among the Party functionaries, accelerated preparations for a coup d’etat. Tukhachevsky intended to ask the USSR People’s Commissar for Defence K.E. Voroshilov to convene a conference on military problems in the Kremlin. Tukhachevsky planned to come to the conference with his supporters and to surround the Kremlin with troops loyal to him. Stalin and some of his Politbureau colleagues were to be arrested and shot immediately.

After the end of the plenary session of the Central Committee the conspirators increased their preparations. Carell wrote: ‘In March 1937 the race between Stalin and Tukhachevsky was becoming increasingly dramatic… Why did the Marshal not act then? Why was he still hesitating? The answer is simple enough. The moves of General Staff officers and Army commanders, whose headquarters were often thousands of miles apart, were difficult to coordinate especially as their strict surveillance by the secret police forced them to act with the utmost caution. The coup against Stalin was fixed for the 1st of May 1937, mainly because the May Day Parades would make it possible to move substantial troop contingents to Moscow without arousing suspicion’.

At that time Trotsky in his ‘Bulletin of the Opposition’ wrote about a probable rebellion of the Soviet military against Stalin. On the 9th of April 1937 the chief of the Red Army Intelligence Board S. Uritsky informed Stalin and Voroshilov that in Berlin there were rumours about the opposition of the Soviet military to the Soviet leadership.

By that time the Gestapo got wind of the negotiations of Tukhachevsky with the German military leaders. In order to get fuller information about relations between the military leaders of the two countries Gestapo agents penetrated the archives of the Wehrmacht and stole some of the documents pertaining to the contacts of the German military with the Soviet. The Gestapo agents tried to conceal the theft of documents by setting fire to the archives. After the stolen documents were analysed the Gestapo deputy chief Heydrich came to the conclusion that there was ample evidence of the secret cooperation between the leaders of the Wehrmacht and the Red Army. The Gestapo informed Hitler about the documents.

Despite the pro-German statements of Tukhachevsky, Hitler and others in the Nazi leadership were not happy over clandestine contacts between the military leaders of Germany and the USSR. The Nazi leaders considered that the establishment of the military dictatorship in Russia might stimulate similar developments in Germany. And the military dictator of Russia Tukhachevsky might help his German colleagues during the future coup. Hitler decided to thwart the joint conspiracy of the military leaders of the two countries. He ordered the sending of the stolen documents to Moscow, but adding to them fabrications to make the materials even more shocking. German Intelligence chief Walter Schellenberg later wrote that the false additions constituted but a minor part of the whole collection, which was secretly sold to the Soviet Union. (Later in 1971 V. M. Molotov claimed that he, Stalin and other Politbureau members knew about the Tukhachevsky conspiracy before they got the German documents.)

There are different versions of the subsequent events. On the one hand there is substantial evidence that the military coup scheduled for the 1st of May was frustrated at the last minute. Some people present at the time at Red Square remembered that immediately after the beginning of the parade the rumours were spread about an imminent terrorist act against Stalin and other Politbureau members who at that time occupied the tribune on the Lenin Mausoleum. Later NKVD officer Pavel Meshik claimed that he personally arrested a terrorist on the upper floor of the building adjacent to Red Square just when he was getting ready to shoot. Meshik said that he was awarded the Order of Lenin for this arrest.

A British correspondent Fitzroy MacClean who was present at the May Day parade stated that he noticed nervousness in the conduct of the Politbureau members. Some of them hardly watched the parade. According to MacClean only Stalin preserved an unperturbed mien.

On the other hand there is evidence that the coup was postponed. Just before the 1st of May in London it was announced that on the 12th of May there would be the coronation of George VI who had become the King after the abdication of Edward VIII. The Soviet delegation was invited for the ceremony and the Soviet Government decided that Tukhachevsky would be a leader of the delegation. According to Carell, Tukhachevsky ‘postponed the coup by three weeks. That was his fatal mistake’.

On the 3rd of May documents of Tukhachevsky were sent to the British Embassy in connection with his visit to London. But on the next day the papers were called back and it was announced that the Soviet admiral V. M. Orlov would be a chief of the delegation.

On the 10th of May it was announced that Tukhachevsky was relieved from the duties of the deputy of the People’ Commissar for Defence and made the commander of the Volga military district. On the 24th of May Stalin sent a circular letter to all the members and alternate members of the Party Central Committee. They were informed about the conspiratorial activities of Tukhachevsky and others. Since Tukhachevsky was an alternate member of the Central Committee, other members and alternate members of this highest body of the Party were asked to vote for or against his expulsion from the Party and transfer of his case to the NKVD. All the members and alternate members of the Central Committee supported the suggested measures against Tukhachevsky.

The leader of the conspiracy was arrested on the 27th of May. Between 19 and 31 his major collaborators were arrested. But one of them, the deputy People’s Commissar for Defence Y. B. Gamarnik committed suicide just before his arrest.

On the 2nd of June the session of the Military Council of the People’s Commissary of Defence was convened. Though the investigation was not over yet and it was probable that some of the participants of the plot were present at the session Stalin attended it and spoke before it.

He began his speech, saying: ‘Comrades, I think that now nobody has doubts about the existence of military-political conspiracy against the Soviet power’. Stalin explained the reason why the conspiracy was not exposed earlier by euphoria of the Party and the Soviet people. He said: ‘The general situation, the growth of our ranks, the achievements of the Army and the country as a whole decreased our political vigilance, diminished sharpness of our sight’.

Stalin spoke about the dependence of Tukhachevsky and other arrested commanders on the German military and suggested that the conspirators did not have any profound ideological platform. Stalin said: ‘What was their weakness? They lacked contact with the people… They relied on the forces of the Germans… They were afraid of the people’.

Stalin suggested that some of the military officers got involved into conspiracy out of sheer opportunism. At the same time Stalin spoke about some of the plotters who were intimidated by Tukhachevsky and others and were forced to join them. Stalin proposed to forgive such people if they came and honestly told about their participation in the plot.

Refuting concern expressed by some of the speakers at the session that the arrests among the military might weaken the Red Army Stalin said: ‘We have in our army unlimited reserves of talents… One should not be afraid to move people upwards’.

Though Stalin expressed hope that the number of conspirators was not great, soon many of the military, including some of those who participated at the 2nd of June session, were arrested. Among those who were arrested many were innocent. First and foremost their arrests were caused by the atmosphere created by many local Party officials (and Khrushchev was among the most active) who, instead of searching for political and social reasons for the military conspiracy started to foment mass hysteria. They used the Tukhachevsky conspiracy as a pretext to prove that the USSR was full of foreign spies and thus to retain administrative methods typical of the Civil War. (Later Khrushchev tried to conceal his participation in this witch hunt by putting all the blame for it upon Stalin.) The toll of arrested increased also due to slanderous accusations made by careerists in the NKVD, ready to get promotion for their successes in exposing ‘enemies of the people’, or by career-minded military officers, eager to take the posts of those who were arrested.

Now the Russian mass-media assert that the arrests and executions of the Red Army commanding officers were fatal for the development of the Great Patriotic War. It is claimed that the officers’ corps of the Red Army was almost decimated. Some point out that 40 thousand of the commanding officers were subjected to various reprisals in 1937 – 1939. In fact out of 37 thousand officers who were dismissed from the Army in this period about 9 thousand were those who died due to natural causes, got severe chronic diseases or were punished for non-political crimes and misbehaviour. Out of 29 thousand officers sacked for political offences 13 thousand were later restored to the Army. Many of them (like Marshal Rokossovsky) fought heroically in the Great Patriotic War. Four thousand were executed and about 12 thousand served their terms in the labour camps. Though these are large numbers, one should be aware that the total number of the Army officers in 1941 was 680 thousand.

In place of Tukhachevsky and his supporters came a new cohort of generals and marshals who proved quite worthy in performing their military duties. The recognition of this fact came from none other than Joseph Goebbels. When Nazi Germany was practically defeated he recognised at last the merits of those whom he for many years treated as representatives of an inferior race. In his personal diary Goebbels wrote on the 16th of March, 1945: ‘The General Staff presented me a book with biographies of Soviet generals and marshals… Most of them are young; almost none of them is over 50 years. They have a rich experience of revolutionary-political activity. They are convinced Bolsheviks, very energetic people. When one looks upon their faces one can see that they are made of healthy folk staff. Most of them are sons of workers, cobblers, small holding peasants, etc. In short, I must make an unpleasant conclusion that the military leaders of the Soviet Union are of better social origin than our own… From this book it is easy to see what mistakes we made in the previous years’.

Belatedly lamenting that Nazi Germany did not get rid of its own Tukhachevskys before it was too late, Goebbels explained the strength of the Red Army in the fact that it had strong ties with the popular masses. Inadvertently the chief of Nazi propaganda recognised the truth of Stalin when the latter spoke about ‘unlimited reserves of talents’ in the ranks of the Red Army and stated that Tukhachevsky and others ‘lacked contact with the people’ and ‘were afraid of the people’.

The victory over Nazi Germany and its allies achieved mostly by the Soviet effort would not be possible if the Soviet leadership failed to get rid of its ‘Fifth Column’, similar to those which existed in many countries of the world and which allowed Hitler to establish his control over half of Europe. Unfortunately by 1991 both the Soviet Army and the Party changed their character and lost most of their staunch ties with the people. These changes facilitated the temporary triumph of capitalist restoration forces over socialism.

Source

Resolution Supporting the Revolutionary Forces in Ecuador

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[Update Jan. 15, 2011: "The Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador (PCMLE) was born in August, 1964 in rebellion against the revisionist leadership of the Communist Party of Ecuador (PCE) and its endorsement of the then Soviet-line of peaceful transition to socialism, the parliamentary road and peaceful coexistence with imperialism. Over the years the PCMLE, though still an underground organisation, has built mass organizations among students, workers, peasants and the general public and participates in elections at various levels to promote its vision of a new democratic and anti-imperialist revolution in Ecuador."]

Translated from Spanish

For years the working class, peasants, youth and indigenous peoples of Ecuador have been involved in the fight against imperialism, especially U.S. imperialism, for social progress and for their national emancipation.

It is this fight, they have always been able to count on the militant commitment of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador, of the MPD and of all the social and trade union forces that form the Popular Front.

These forces that are fighting for revolutionary change, against imperialism, for democracy, the revolution and socialism, have been at the forefront of the great popular movements that have developed in Ecuador; they have faced the harshest repression and never hesitated in supporting the policies and, at times even the governments, when these were in accord with the interests and aspirations of the peoples of Ecuador. These forces have called on the working class, the popular masses and the peoples to stand up whenever their interests have been harmed.

It is this policy that these forces have continued with a revolutionary spirit, contributing to the election to the Presidency of the Republic of R. Correa, in the drafting of the present Constitution with a progressive and anti-imperialist character. They have also always fought all the attempts of reaction, supported by imperialism, to corner political power and promote neoliberal policies, as they have always done.

The ink on the Constitution had not yet dried when President Correa and his allies began to impose a policy, by decrees and laws, contrary to its spirit and content.

This immediately developed a process of struggle and resistance, involving different sectors struck by the unpopular measures of the president and his government.

Obviously, the revolutionary forces have not only supported, but have been at the forefront of this resistance and have called on the president to change his policy, to respect his commitments and the Constitution and to meet the legitimate demands of the social sectors hardest hit by the neoliberal measures imposed in an authoritarian manner, with pressure, blackmail and arrogance by the president himself.

The rebellion of the troops of the police and the military on September 30 took place in that context of social confrontation, which is spreading and deepening among the people, the popular sectors, the teachers, youth, indigenous peoples, the trade union movement and the organized forces for the revolution, on the one hand, and the very regime that is making concessions to the oligarchy and imperialism, on the other.

Correa, resorting to provocations, to lies on a large scale, has described this rebellion as an attempted coup.

At no time was this a matter of bringing down the government; instead there was a large scale manipulation, nationally and internationally, by Correa and his allies.

One of the objectives of this maneuver is the criminalization of all social and political protest, especially when it comes from sectors of the revolutionary left.

Today the repression is focused against leaders of popular organizations, student unions, teachers and indigenous people such as Mery Zamora, William Pazmiño, David Tenesaca, Marlon Santi, Galo Mindiola and Luordes Tiban, whom Correa is trying to silence.

But Correa is mistaken if he thinks he can silence the workers’ and popular movement, the indigenous organizations, the social and political forces that have never ceased in their struggle for social progress, democracy and national sovereignty.

The ICMLPO and its parties and organizations present here:

1. Express our solidarity with the PCMLE, the MPD and all the trade union, social and political forces that are struggling for democracy, for social and national emancipation in Ecuador.

2. We strongly condemn the wave of repression unleashed by President Correa and his regime against those very forces that have always been on the side of the people, against reaction and imperialism.

3. We demand the immediate release of the imprisoned popular militants and an end to their harassment, and in particular we demand the freedom of comrade Marcelo Rivera, president of the FEUE [Federation of University Students of Ecuador], sentenced to 3 years in prison on the totally illegal charges of “terrorism”, who has been on a hunger strike in his defense and that of freedom of organization and expression. This is a blatant case of political repression under a completely false charge, and a subjection of judicial power to the control of the executive power, to the arrogance and authoritarianism of President Rafael Correa.

4. We call on the workers and the peoples of our countries, and on an international level, on organizations in defense of democratic freedoms and for solidarity with the struggles of the peoples, especially the peoples of Latin America, to expose and denounce the manipulation and maneuvers of the government of Rafael Correa, and express their solidarity with the forces fighting for social and national emancipation in Ecuador.

5. We commit ourselves to expand the solidarity with the anti-imperialist struggles of the peoples of Latin America.

6. We commit ourselves to develop an informational campaign confronting the disinformation, to clarify the true events that have occurred in Ecuador.

International Conference of Marxist Leninist Parties and Organizations

The PCMLE Regarding the Events of September 30

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For some months Ecuador has been the scene of the intensification and broadening of the social struggles that various sectors of the working people, trade unionists, indigenous people, peasants, teachers, student youths, public servants, small business people and pensioners have been developing, to oppose the policies of the government of Rafael Correa that have actually harmed the interests of the country, of the peoples and their organisations, that reinforce and support the neo-liberal, privatising and sellout policies.

The workers have carried out actions in defence of trade union rights that the government has wanted to eliminate; the indigenous peoples throughout the country have fought in defence of water as a vital human resource; the peasant and indigenous communities have been opposing the sell-out and predatory nature of the Mining Law; the teachers have been demanding better guarantees for national education, opposed to retaliatory and exclusive evaluations; the students and all the universities of the country are against a Higher Education Law that eliminates university autonomy, student participation in running the university, free admission and other gains and rights; the public servants have mobilised to defend their stability, their gains achieved after long struggles; the pensioners to improve their pensions and their treatment by Social Security; the small business people have been in the streets for a Law that guarantees their right to work, social security and other gains.

These mobilisations and protests have also denounced the position of the regime in favour of the imperialist oil, mining and telecommunications monopolies; in favour of foreign indebtedness under disadvantageous conditions; of involving the country in Plan Colombia and promoting a policy harmful to national sovereignty in signing the Convention of the Rights of the Sea (CONVEMAR).

President Correa has responded to these actions of struggle and denunciations by the social organisations, with a repressive policy that is causing fatal and wounded victims and great material damage as in the cases of the attack on the village of Dayuma, on the miners of Azuay, the murder of Shuar [one of the indigenous peoples of Ecuador – translator’s note] professor Bosco Wisuma, the violent eviction of the miners of Zamora and other actions. Leaders of worker, indigenous, peasant, student and teachers’ organisations, have been detained, indicted and persecuted; they are the objects of abominable attacks and slanders through a resounding and excessive campaign of the big media that the government controls, accusing them of being ‘mediocre,’ ‘terrorists,’ ‘corrupt’, etc.

In this framework, on September 30 in various parts of the country there took place the rebellion of police troops, the seizure of barracks, the taking to the streets, in response to the approval by the Legislative Assembly of Public Service Law and the presidential veto, which took away from the public workers a series of benefits, gains and subsidies that they had won in the course of several years.

The mutinous troops denounce these acts, they even demand change in the top levels of the institution, but they never called for a change of government or for its overthrow; rather they asked for a dialogue, the cessation of the authoritarian attitudes and that their situation be attended to. Under these conditions, that fight of the police troops is added to those of other popular sectors in defence of their aspirations, their rights and gains.

We revolutionaries, leftists and communists take it as our duty to support this and all struggles that defend the popular interests and those of the country. We consider it a fallacy to say that these actions are part of a ‘conspiracy’ against democracy, against the established government and that it is part on an attempted ‘coup d’état’ of the ‘fascists,’ of the ‘right,’ with the ‘participation of the left,’ without proving these statements in any way.

The insistent denunciation by the regime of the supposed ‘coup d’état against Ecuadorian democracy’ immediately brought out support by the U.S. government and the UN; but at the same time it also generated statements from the UNASUR [Union of South American Nations], of the governments of the region such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, and also of Colombia, Chile and Peru.

It is also necessary to point out that most of the social organisations, which have demanded their aspirations, have created lines of demarcation and denounced the real or supposed actions of conspiracy of the right, of the old ruling parties, the oligarchies and imperialism. In this way CONAIE [Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador], ECUARRUNARI [Movement of the Indigenous People of Ecuador], the trade union federations, the Popular Front and all its organisations have stated this, so that the accusations of a conspiracy fall by their own weight.

The Head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces, General Ernesto Gonzalez, himself supported the constitutional order and insisted on the request for the revision or elimination of the Public Service Law, the cause of the conflicts, when he appeared on the unlimited and obligatory broadcast on all the mass media of the country as ordered by the government. He also stated to the media the request by all the spokespersons of the rebellious police that their needs be attended to. The well-known ‘conspiracy against democracy’ that the government and its servants denounce, does not exist at all…

The events were serious and generalised, but they got out of hand, when displaying his arrogance, in an openly imprudent attitude, Correa went to face the rebels and received the rejection, even the irascible excesses, of those in the Quito Regiment; he remained isolated in the Police Hospital from where during the night he was removed by a surprising and disproportionate military operation which was spread by radio and TV to the whole country, putting at serious risk the life of the chief executive himself, causing several fatalities from this action, tens of wounded, serious damage to the facilities of that hospital.

After his spectacular exit, Correa arrived to the applause and cheers of his supporters at the Grand Plaza, to repeat his authoritarian, arrogant and intimidating poses; to accuse without proof, to distort the truth and to call for ‘public punishment’, that he ‘will not forgive or forget’ the conspirators, etc.

We revolutionaries, communists, workers and peoples know clearly that democracy is an achievement of the masses won over hundreds of years and therefore we defend it despite its limitations and exclusions. Representative democracy is an expression of the power of the ruling classes, it protects their interests; for the great majority, for the working classes, it continues to be rhetoric in whose name it excludes them and rides roughshod over them. Knowing these concepts clearly, the social struggle, the actions of the workers and peoples, even the rebellion of the police troops, did not propose or plan to break the institutional life of the country and even less is it the result of the conspiratorial desires and coup makers of the right, the old ruling parties and imperialism. The road of the workers and peoples, of the revolutionary left is clearly defined, it is the independent march in search of its definitive liberation and in the daily struggle for its social and democratic rights, aspirations and gains.

We must state, nevertheless, that the governmental sermon that a ‘coup d’état’ took place was successful and it confused a sector of public opinion within the country and abroad. In the popular arena things are clear. The events of yesterday are a new episode in the social struggle.

Beyond the vindictive and retaliatory attitudes and the sanctions that the regime applies, it leaves deep wounds in the police troops and various social sectors; the government of the ‘citizen’s revolution’ that is now singing victory should know that the struggle of the workers, the youth and peoples continues; because we continue to be in crisis, injustice is continuing, social inequalities are increasing and acts of corruption are everywhere and not sanctioned. The energy, the social struggle and the aspirations for real change continue to be a banner for ever larger sectors of our people. The popular consciousness grows!

Let us demand the elimination of presidential vetoes and the anti-popular and anti-national elements of the related laws such as the reforms of the Hydrocarbon Law, the Law of Territorial Order, of Public Services, Higher Education, the Code of Public Finances and other that harm the workers, youth and peoples. Similarly, we demand the immediate abrogation of the ‘state of emergency,’ because the government itself has stated that there is no internal commotion.

Today it is time to work more insistently for the unity of all the sectors that defend our just aspirations, social gains and rights; for those of us who are fighting for a future better. This is, without a doubt, the strength of the peoples, this is the guarantee of our victory!

Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador
Central Committee
October 1, 2010

Source

V.I. Lenin on Differences between Marxism and Anarchism

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“We are not utopians, we do not ‘dream’ of dispensing at once with all administration, with all subordination. These anarchist dreams, based upon incomprehension of the tasks of the proletarian dictatorship, are totally alien to Marxism, and, as a matter of fact, serve only to postpone the socialist revolution until people are different. No, we want the socialist revolution with people as they are now, with people who cannot dispense with subordination, control, and ‘foremen and accountants’.”

- V.I. Lenin, “The State and Revolution”

Frederick Engels on Thomas Malthus and Overpopulation

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“The struggle of capital against capital, of labour against labour, of land against land, drives production to a fever-pitch at which production turns all natural and rational relations upside-down. No capital can stand the competition of another if it is not brought to the highest pitch of activity. No piece of land can be profitably cultivated if it does not continuously increase its productivity. No worker can hold his own against his competitors if he does not devote all his energy to labour. No one at all who enters into the struggle of competition can weather it without the utmost exertion of his energy, without renouncing every truly human purpose. The consequence of this over-exertion on the one side is, inevitably, slackening on the other. When the fluctuation of competition is small, when demand and supply, consumption and production, are almost equal, a stage must be reached in the development of production where there is so much superfluous productive power that the great mass of the nation has nothing to live on, that the people starve from sheer abundance. For some considerable time England has found herself in this crazy position, in this living absurdity. When production is subject to greater fluctuations, as it is bound to be in consequence of such a situation, then the alternation of boom and crisis, overproduction and slump, sets in. The economist has never been able to find an explanation for this mad situation. In order to explain it, he invented the population theory, which is just as senseless – indeed even more senseless than the contradiction of coexisting wealth and poverty. The economist could not afford to see the truth; he could not afford to admit that this contradiction is a simple consequence of competition; for in that case his entire system would have fallen to bits.

For us the matter is easy to explain. The productive power at mankind’s disposal is immeasurable. The productivity of the soil can be increased ad infinitum by the application of capital, labour and science. According to the most able economists and statisticians (cf. Alison’s Principles of Population, Vol. I, Chs. 1 and 2), “over-populated” Great Britain can be brought within ten years to produce a corn yield sufficient for a population six times its present size. Capital increases daily; labour power grows with population; and day by day science increasingly makes the forces of nature subject to man. This immeasurable productive capacity, handled consciously and in the interest of all, would soon reduce to a minimum the labour falling to the share of mankind. Left to competition, it does the same, but within a context of antitheses. One part of the land is cultivated in the best possible manner whilst another part – in Great Britain and Ireland thirty million acres of good land – lies barren. One part of capital circulates with colossal speed; another lies dead in the chest. One part of the workers works fourteen or sixteen hours a day, whilst another part stands idle and inactive, and starves. Or the partition leaves this realm of simultaneity: today trade is good; demand is very considerable; everyone works; capital is turned over with miraculous speed; farming flourishes; the workers work themselves sick. Tomorrow stagnation sets in. The cultivation of the land is not worth the effort; entire stretches of land remain untilled; the flow of capital suddenly freezes; the workers have no employment, and the whole country labours under surplus wealth and surplus population.

The economist cannot afford to accept this exposition of the subject as correct; otherwise, as has been said, he would have to give up his whole system of competition. He would have to recognise the hollowness of his antithesis of production and consumption, of surplus population and surplus wealth. To bring fact and theory into conformity with each other – since this fact simply could not be denied – the population theory was invented.

Malthus, the originator of this doctrine, maintains that population is always pressing on the means of subsistence; that as soon as production increases, population increases in the same proportion; and that the inherent tendency of the population to multiply in excess of the available means of subsistence is the root of all misery and all vice. For, when there are too many people, they have to be disposed of in one way or another: either they must be killed by violence or they must starve. But when this has happened, there is once more a gap which other multipliers of the population immediately start to fill up once more: and so the old misery begins all over again. What is more, this is the case in all circumstances – not only in civilised, but also in primitive conditions. In New Holland [The old name for Australia. - Ed.], with a population density of one per square mile, the savages suffer just as much from over-population as England. In short, if we want to be consistent, we must admit that the earth was already over-populated when only one man existed. The implications of this line of thought are that since it is precisely the poor who are the surplus, nothing should be done for them except to make their dying of starvation as easy as possible, and to convince them that it cannot be helped and that there is no other salvation for their whole class than keeping propagation down to the absolute minimum. Or if this proves impossible, then it is after all better to establish a state institution for the painless killing of the children of the poor, such as “Marcus” has suggested, whereby each working-class family would be allowed to have two and a half children, any excess being painlessly killed. Charity is to be considered a crime, since it supports the augmentation of the surplus population. Indeed, it will be very advantageous to declare poverty a crime and to turn poor-houses into prisons, as has already happened in England as a result of the new “liberal” Poor Law. Admittedly it is true that this theory ill conforms with the Bible’s doctrine of the perfection of God and of His creation; but “it is a poor refutation to enlist the Bible against facts.”

Am I to go on any longer elaborating this vile, infamous theory, this hideous blasphemy against nature and mankind? Am I to pursue its consequences any further? Here at last we have the immorality of the economist brought to its highest pitch. What are all the wars and horrors of the monopoly system compared with this theory! And it is just this theory which is the keystone of the liberal system of free trade, whose fall entails the downfall of the entire edifice. For if here competition is proved to be the cause of misery, poverty and crime, who then will still dare to speak up for it?

In his above-mentioned work, Alison has shaken the Malthusian theory by bringing in the productive power of the land, and by opposing to the Malthusian principle the fact that each adult can produce more than he himself needs – a fact without which mankind could not multiply, indeed could not even exist; if it were not so how could those still growing up live? But Alison does not go to the root of the matter, and therefore in the end reaches the same conclusion as Malthus. True enough, he proves that Malthus’ principle is incorrect, but cannot gainsay the facts which have impelled Malthus to his principle.

If Malthus had not considered the matter so one-sidedly, he could not have failed to see that surplus population or labour-power is invariably tied up with surplus wealth, surplus capital and surplus landed property. The population is only too large where the productive power as a whole is too large. The condition of every over-populated country, particularly England, since the time when Malthus wrote, makes this abundantly clear. These were the facts which Malthus ought to have considered in their totality, and whose consideration was bound to have led to the correct conclusion. Instead, he selected one fact, gave no consideration to the others, and therefore arrived at his crazy conclusion. The second error he committed was to confuse means of subsistence with [means of] employment. That population is always pressing on the means of employment – that the number of people produced depends on the number of people who can be employed – in short, that the production of labour-power has been regulated so far by the law of competition and is therefore also exposed to periodic crises and fluctuations – this is a fact whose establishment constitutes Malthus’ merit. But the means of employment are not the means of subsistence. Only in their end-result are the means of employment increased by the increase in machin-epower and capital. The means of subsistence increase as soon as productive power increases even slightly. Here a new contradiction in economics comes to light. The economist’s “demand” is not the real demand; his “consumption” is an artificial consumption. For the economist, only that person really demands, only that person is a real consumer, who has an equivalent to offer for what he receives. But if it is a fact that every adult produces more than he himself can consume, that children are like trees which give superabundant returns on the outlays invested in them – and these certainly are facts, are they not? – then it must be assumed that each worker ought to be able to produce far more than he needs and that the community, therefore, ought to be very glad to provide him with everything he needs; one must consider a large family to be a very welcome gift for the community. But the economist, with his crude outlook, knows no other equivalent than that which is paid to him in tangible ready cash. He is so firmly set in his antitheses that the most striking facts are of as little concern to him as the most scientific principles.

We destroy the contradiction simply by transcending it. With the fusion of the interests now opposed to each other there disappears the contradiction between excess population here and excess wealth there; there disappears the miraculous fact (more miraculous than all the miracles of all the religions put together) that a nation has to starve from sheer wealth and plenty; and there disappears the crazy assertion that the earth lacks the power to feed men. This assertion is the pinnacle of Christian economics – and that our economics is essentially Christian I could have proved from every proposition, from every category, and shall in fact do so in due course. The Malthusian theory is but the economic expression of the religious dogma of the contradiction of spirit and nature and the resulting corruption of both. As regards religion, and together with religion, this contradiction was resolved long ago, and I hope that in the sphere of economics I have likewise demonstrated the utter emptiness of this contradiction. Moreover, I shall not accept as competent any defence of the Malthusian theory which does not explain to me on the basis of its own principles how a people can starve from sheer plenty and bring this into harmony with reason and fact.  

At the same time, the Malthusian theory has certainly been a necessary point of transition which has taken us an immense step further. Thanks to this theory, as to economics as a whole, our attention has been drawn to the productive power of the earth and of mankind; and after overcoming this economic despair we have been made for ever secure against the fear of overpopulation. We derive from it the most powerful economic arguments for a social transformation. For even if Malthus were completely right, this transformation would have to be undertaken straight away; for only this transformation, only the education of the masses which it provides, makes possible that moral restraint of the propagative instinct which Malthus himself presents as the most effective and easiest remedy for overpopulation. Through this theory we have come to know the deepest degradation of mankind, their dependence on the conditions of competition. It has shown us how in the last instance private property has turned man into a commodity whose production and destruction also depend solely on demand; how the system of competition has thus slaughtered, and daily continues to slaughter, millions of men. All this we have seen, and all this drives us to the abolition of this degradation of mankind through the abolition of private property, competition and the opposing interests.  

Yet, so as to deprive the universal fear of overpopulation of any possible basis, let us once more return to the relationship of productive power to population. Malthus establishes a formula on which he bases his entire system: population is said to increase in a geometrical progression – 1+2+4+8+16+32, etc.; the productive power of the land in an arithmetical progression – 1+2+3+4+5+6. The difference is obvious, is terrifying; but is it correct? Where has it been proved that the productivity of the land increases in an arithmetical progression? The extent of land is limited. All right! The labour-power to be employed on this land-surface increases with population. Even if we assume that the increase in yield due to increase in labour does not always rise in proportion to the labour, there still remains a third element which, admittedly, never means anything to the economist – science – whose progress is as unlimited and at least as rapid as that of population. What progress does the agriculture of this century owe to chemistry alone – indeed, to two men alone, Sir Humphry Davy and Justus Liebig! But science increases at least as much as population. The latter increases in proportion to the size of the previous generation, science advances in proportion to the knowledge bequeathed to it by the previous generation, and thus under the most ordinary conditions also in a geometrical progression. And what is impossible to science? But it is absurd to talk of over-population so long as “there is ‘enough waste land in the valley of the Mississippi for the whole population of Europe to be transplanted there” [A. Alison, loc. cit., p. 548. - Ed.]; so long as no more than one-third of the earth can be considered cultivated, and so long as the production of this third itself can be raised sixfold and more by the application of improvements already known.”

- Frederick Engels, “Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy”

Enver Hoxha on Andrey Vyshinsky and the Moscow Trials

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The following day Vyshinsky was to come from Moscow. The name and personality of Vyshinsky was great and well known to all of us on account of the important role he had played as state prosecutor in the Moscow trials against Trotskyites, Bukharinites, rightists and other traitors of the Soviet Union. During the war I had got hold of a French translation of the account of the Moscow trials and had had the opportunity to study the evil activity and treachery of these sworn enemies of communism. Their guilt and secret collaboration with the foreign enemies of the Soviet Union was brought out clearly and completely exposed there. Everything was convincing. And the claims of foreign enemies that the admissions had been allegedly extorted from the criminals by torture were slanders. Our struggle against local enemies, the trials which were held in our country after the war against enemies of the people, the struggle which our Party had waged against Trotskyite elements further reinforced our belief in the justness of the merciless fight which the state in the Soviet Union had undertaken against these criminals.

When they held power, the foreign and internal enemies of our peoples employed the most inhuman forms and methods. But naturally the foreign enemies will defend their friends within our countries, while our duty has been and still is to suppress the enemies of the people and to give them no possibility to operate against the constructive work of the people

This the Soviet state did through the Moscow trials. In these trials Andrey Vyshinsky, outstanding jurist and Marxist-Leninist, played an important role. He displayed skill, acumen, wisdom, courage and determination in this important task. Through his acumen and strong logic, on the basis of a profound dialectical Marxist-Leninist analysis, he uncovered all the obscure angles of problems, the intrigues and plans of the enemies who stood in the dock, as well as of the external enemies who pulled the strings of this terrible and dangerous agency. And it was precisely this unerring method of unravelling matters which astonished the external enemies and their espionage agencies about how their secret plans were discovered and compelled them to slander an propagate that everything, every statement, every admission by the accused had been extorted by means of torture, drugs, etc.

We had gathered in one of the rooms of the palace, where we were staying, waiting for Vyshinsky. At last he came. I was excited because I was meeting him for the first time. (When I went to Moscow in July 1947, Vyshinsky was not in the Soviet Union.) He was just as I had heard, a vigorous man, not very tall, with horn-rimmed glasses and bright black eyes that took in everything. He was wearing a blue suit. Vyshinsky shook hands with all of us in turn and when he came to me, apparently as I was the only one he had not met before, he guessed who I was, because he gave me his hand and asked me in Russian:

“How is your health, Comrade Enver Hoxha?”

“Harasho!” I replied.

Meanwhile Chuvakin intervened and said:

“Comrade Enver speaks French well.” Then Vyshinsky started to speak to me in French and I could speak more freely.

We began the meeting which Dej opened with a short speech. He welcomed us to Bucharest and gave the floor to Vyshinsky.

He greeted us warmly and also transmitted the greetings of Stalin and other comrades of the Political Bureau of the CC of the CPSU (b).

“The object of this meeting,” said Vyshinsky in general outline, “is to exchange our experience and reveal our joint knowledge about the betrayal of the Yugoslav Titoites, about their undermining activity against our countries, parties and socialism, and to define the method of combatting and unmasking their deviation which is dangerous for communism in general and for the Yugoslav Communist Party and socialism in Yugoslavia in particular.”

In the course of the analysis he made of the secret and open activity of Tito’s renegade group, Vyshinsky explained to us in detail the theoretical and political content of the letters of the Bolshevik Party to the CPY and the Resolution of the meeting of the Information Bureau on this important question. Our parties were acquainted with these documents which we had studied in detail and on which we had taken decisions, fully endorsing them.

[….]

“The question of Yugoslavia is an internal question of the peoples of Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav communists” continued Vyshinsky, “and we have not meddled and will not meddle in their internal affairs. We have no right to interfere, but it is our duty to ensure the political and ideological exposure of the activity of this clique which is fighting against Marxism-Leninism and serves world capitalism. Already,” continued Vyshinsky, “in the international arena and the internal plane the Titoites present themselves as open enemies of the Soviet Union and their activities in this direction will increase, not only against us, but also against all the countries of people’s democracy and the socialist camp. Their activity is identical with the activities of the Trotskyites, Bukharinites and agents of world capital whom we have unmasked in our trials.”

“The unmasking of the enemy has very great importance,” stressed Vyshinsky. “The Soviet peoples had to be convinced of the treacherous activity of the Trotskyites, the Bukharinites and the rightists, therefore we placed importance on this and managed to achieve that our enemies themselves brought out the smallest details which are frequently important because they explain major questions. The truth which proved their treachery emerged naked before our courts and our peoples. This had decisive importance. This is the important thing to achieve,” said Vyshinsky. “After this the number of years to which the enemy is sentenced has secondary importance. The people must approve this sentence, must be convinced. This is what we must do with Tito’s renegade group, too. This group is in power and will defend itself. It will also commit all sorts of provocations against our socialist states, but we must be prudent, vigilant and must not fall for their provocations!” he concluded.

- Enver Hoxha, “The Titoites”

Trotskyism Revisited

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I. Trotsky and the FBI 

Red Youth

An article appeared in The Independent on the 25/11/1993 which gave details of a friend of Leon Trotsky’s living in Mexico, Diego Rivera, who provided information to the FBI on anyone that he suspected of being GPU (Soviet intelligence) agents. His allegations were directed against anyone working in such organisations as the Mexican Communist Party (PCM) to Mexican trade unions. This in itself is interesting because, officially Rivera and Trotsky broke personal relations on May 31, 1940. Trotsky wrote in a letter to the chief of the Federal District in Mexico, ‘I have nothing in common with the political activities of Diego Rivera. We broke our personal relations fifteen months ago.’ (US National State archives; Trotsky Archive.)

But many people were mutual friends of the two, both of them worked in the same organisations such as the American Committee for the Defence of Leon Trotsky (ACDLT). Charles Curtiss was such a friend who sent Trotsky several reports of his meetings with Rivera:‘During my visit in Mexico, from July 4, 1938 to approximately July 15, 1939, I was in close association with Diego Rivera and Leon Trotsky…. I served as an intermediary between them,’ (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1939-40)

Trotsky of course knew of this, thus helping Rivera in supplying information to the FBI.

To return to the article in The independent, a Professor William Chase of the University of Pittsburgh was quoted at the end stating that he has ‘concrete information’ to prove that Trotsky was an FBI informant. Red Youth has subsequently obtained this information (the source relevant to this particular revelation is US State archives – RG 84 or from Prof. Chase himself. Any other evidence will be referred to after the quotation).

According to the Professor, the information Trotsky provided to the FBI was a means to obtain a US visa. But as the Professor points out, ‘By providing the US Consulate with information about common enemies, be they Mexican or American communists or Soviet agents, Trotsky hoped to prove his value to a government that had no desire to grant him a visa.

Trotsky’s hysterical allegations were directed against anyone who might share sympathies with the USSR under Stalin. In America the ACDLT campaigned for the asylum of Trotsky in the US. At the time of the World Congress Against War and Fascism and the Latin American Labour Congress, Trotsky asked his supporters to ‘mail as soon as possible known names of congress delegates who are GPU agents’. Prof. Chase admits himself the ridiculous nature of these allegations which leads one to think of the number of honest proletarian and democratic persons whose names who were supplied to the FBI, ‘Trotsky’s accusations that liberals and radicals who did not share his views on certain issues were Stalinists or GPU agents further diminished his support in the US.’

But there is more. With this array of high-flown allegations Trotsky accepted an invitation to appear in front of the ‘Dies Committee’. This is otherwise known as the US Congress House Un-American Activities Committee. It was linked to overtly fascist figures, conducted anti-democratic witch-hunts and played a leading role in passing many anti-labour laws. Such was the anti-fascist and proletarian stance of Trotsky (fortunately, Trotsky never appeared on this committee because he never got a visa, but as we shall see he passed on information to the US government by other means). Now we come to the central point of this Red Youth exclusive: Trotsky’s courtship of the FBI:

‘In June [1940], Robert McGregor of the [US] Consulate met with Trotsky in his home… he met again with Trotsky on 13 July… Trotsky told McGregor in detail of the allegations and evidence he had compiled… He gave to McGregor the names of Mexican publications, political and labour leaders, and government officials allegedly associated with the PCM [Mexico and the USSR were the only countries in the world to materially support the fight against Franco's Fascism in the Spanish Civil War 1936-39]. He charged that one of the Comintern’s [the Communist international's] leading agents, Carlos Contreras served on the PCM Directing Committee. He also discussed the alleged efforts of Narciso Bassols, former Mexican Ambassador to France, whom Trotsky claimed was a Soviet agent, to get him deported from Mexico.’

‘Upon receipt, the State Department transmitted McGregor’s memo to the FBI.

‘…The Information, while not new, responded to both bodies’ concerns.’

Well, there you have it. The outwardly anti-communist and anti-democratic veneer of the US was shared by Trotsky.

While the whole world was facing the onslaught of fascist forces, when the USSR with the guidance of the communist party and comrade Joseph Stalin were facing this attack single-handedly on the behalf of all progressive humanity, when the colonies of imperialism were striving for national liberation, Trotsky and his vile organisations were aiding reaction every-where and still play their significant part in this today. While Red Youth prints this new evidence, it is of no surprise to us or anyone at all acquainted with the role of Trotskyism, that Trotskyism is truly the agent of the ruling class within the ranks of the working class and is used to full advantage by our enemies to this day as much as in the past. ‘Overnight many of the older anti-Bolshevik crusaders abandoned their former pro-Czarist and openly counter-revolutionary line, and adopted the new, streamlined Trotskyite device of attacking the Russian Revolution ‘from the left’. In the following years it became an accepted thing for a Lord Rothermere or a William Randolph Hearst to accuse Josef Stalin of ‘betraying the revolution’ [one can still see this as we are taught that it was obvious that Trotsky was the natural successor to Lenin in our schools and have to read the books of another state informer and Trotskyist - George Orwell]….

‘Adolf Hitler read Trotsky’s autobiography as soon as it was published. Hitler’s biographer, Konrad Heiden, tells in ‘Der Fuehrer’ how the Nazi leader surprised a circle of his friends in 1930 by bursting into rapturous praise of Trotsky’s book’ (‘The Great Conspiracy Against Russia,’ Kahn and Sayers).

But to be fair, Trotsky should be left to speak for himself. ‘The wretched squabbling systematically provoked by Lenin, that old hand at the game, that professional exploiter of all that is backward in the Russian labour movement, seems like a senseless obsession…. The entire edifice of Leninism Is built on lies and falsification and bears within itself the poisonous elements of its own decay. ‘(Letter to Chkeidze 1913)

‘Brilliant!’ cried Hitler, waving Trotsky’s ‘My Life’ at his followers. I have learned a great deal and so can you!’ (‘Great Conspiracy’).

Lalkar, March-April 1997.

II. On the Use of Trotskyists as Japanese Spies in China

Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong, the Secretary of the Communist Party of China, states about the cooperation of the Japanese with the Trotskyists: ‘only a short while ago in one of the divisions of the Eighth Revolutionary Peoples’ Army, a man by the name of Yu Shih was exposed as a member of the Shanghai Trotskyist organisation. The Japanese had sent him there from Shanghai so that he could do espionage work in the Eighth Army and carry out sabotage work.

‘In the central districts of Hebei the Trotskyists organised a ‘Partisan-Company’ on the direct instructions of the Japanese headquarters and called it a ‘Second Section of the Eighth Army’. In March the two battalions of this company organised a mutiny but these bandits were surrounded by the Eighth Army and disarmed. In the Border Region such people are arrested by the peasant self-defence units which carry out a bitter struggle against traitors and spies.

‘Trotskyist agents are being sent to the Border Regions where they systematically apply all methods in their sabotage work against the cooperation of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. They try to destroy the morale of the soldiers of the Eighth Army, the students and the people of the Border Regions. They try to incite people against the United Front, against the Central Government, against the war of independence, against Marshal Chiang Kaishek.’

In an interview with the Soviet journalist, R. Carmen who is at present in China, Mao, who is recognized by the Japanese as the best strategist in China, declared that the attempts of the reactionary English and other politicians to convince China to renounce its plans are destined to be shattered. ‘China is not only determined to beat the Japanese but also to strengthen the National and United Front and to extend it. Only very few people want to have an understanding with the Japanese and fight against the Central Anti-Japanese Government and the United Front… If we do not destroy these people then it will be difficult to be victorious against the Japanese. But the Chinese people – and with them the Communists, the progressive elements in the Kuomintang and the other parties – are determined to carry out the struggle to a victorious conclusion.’

Translated from the German by V.P. Sharma.
Rundschau (Basel), No. 41, 3rd August, 1939, p. 1169.

Source

D.N. Pritt on the Zinoviev Moscow Trial and Bourgeois “Sympathy” to Old Bolsheviks

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“It should be realised at the outset, of course, that the critics who refuse to believe that Zinoviev or Kamenev could possibly have conspired to murder Kirov, Stalin, Voroshilov, and others, even when they say themselves that they did, are in a grave logical difficulty. For, if they thus dismiss the whole case for the prosecution as a ‘frame-up,’ it follows inescapably that Stalin and a substantial number of other high officials, including presumably the judges and the prosecutor, were themselves guilty of a foul conspiracy to procure the judicial murder of Zinoviev, Kamenev, and a fair number of other persons. Of course, the less scrupulous critics will be delighted to support that theory; they would always prefer to blacken the rulers of a Socialist country rather than people who confess to having sought to assassinate those rulers; but some of us with memories will find their sudden affection and admiration for Zinoviev and all the ‘Old Guard’ a little comic.”

- D.N. Pritt, “The Zinoviev Trial”

Grover Furr on the Objective Study of Soviet History and Challenging the Bourgeois-Trotskyist Paradigm

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“Political prejudice still predominates in the study of Soviet history. Conclusions that contradict the dominant paradigm are routinely dismissed as the result of bias or incompetence. Conclusions that cast doubt upon accusations against Stalin or whose implications tend to make him look either “good” or even less “evil” than the predominant paradigm holds him to have been, are called “Stalinist.” Any objective study of the evidence now available is bound to be called “Stalinist” simply because it reaches conclusions that are politically unacceptable to those who have a strong political bias, be it anticommunist generally or Trotskyist specifically.

[….]

No researcher today, no matter how anti-Soviet, dismisses Soviet evidence just because it is Soviet. Evidence from Soviet archives is routinely regarded as valid.

[….]

The testimony of the defendants at the three Moscow “Show” Trials is routinely dismissed as false. The defendants are said to have been threatened, or tortured, or in some other way induced to confess to absurd crimes which they could not have committed. This is all wrong.

There is no evidence worthy of the name that the defendants were threatened, or tortured, or induced to give false confessions by promises of some kind. Under Khrushchev, again under Gorbachev and, in fact, right up to this day the official stance of both Soviet and Russian regimes has been that the defendants’ confessions are false. The investigative materials, all but a small fraction of which are still classified in Russia today, have been scoured for any evidence that would discredit the Trials and prove the defendants’ confessions were false. But no such evidence has been discovered. For this reason we can be reasonably confident that no such evidence exists. 

[…]

In the case of a few of the more prominent defendants, Zinoviev and Bukharin, there is good evidence that they were not threatened or badly treated.

Most people who disregard the confessions of the defendants at the Moscow Trials have never studied the transcripts of these trials. They dismiss them because they have been told that the defendants’ confessions were fabricated. In reality, there is no evidence that this is so. As we shall see, the evidence given in those confessions is in fact corroborated by the archival material which is the main subject of this study. And in any event the confessions of the Moscow Trials defendants must be accorded the same respect as the rest of the evidence, or as any evidence. It must be identified, collected, and studied.

[….]

Given the absence of any evidence that these confessions were false, and given the logical progression from more detail in the secret documents to the least detail in public ones, any objective student would conclude that we should consider these confessions genuine unless and until evidence to the contrary should be discovered. But the practice among most scholars of this period of Soviet history is to do precisely the opposite. Any evidence that tends to support the theory that Trotsky or any of those accused of espionage, sabotage, conspiracy to overthrow the government or treasonable contacts with foreign governments did in fact so conspire, is routinely dismissed. The evidence itself is not evaluated.

There is never any reason to “dismiss” – to refuse to consider – any evidence. All evidence needs to be evaluated on its own merits and in conjunction with the rest of the evidence available, as we have done here.

[….]

We predict that regardless of the evidence neither staunch anticommunists nor Trotskyists will ever accept that Trotsky did in fact collaborate with Germany and Japan. The “Cold War” paradigm of Soviet history during Stalin’s time depends upon theconstruction of Stalin as an evil man who was killing innocent people and destroying the communist movement. If Trotsky and, by implication, the oppositionists who worked with him were guilty of what they were charged with and to which most, though of course not Trotsky, confessed, then this “Cold War” paradigm of Soviet history is dismantled.”

  - Grover Furr, “Evidence of Leon Trotsky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan” quotations taken from pages 9 – 149.

V.I. Lenin on Unity

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Three issues of the journal Borba, which declares itself to to “non-factional”, have already appeared in St. Petersburg. The journal’s main line is to advocate unity.

Unity with whom? With the liquidators.

[….]

Unity is a great thing and a great slogan. But what the workers’ cause needs is the unity of Marxists, not unity between Marxists, and opponents and distorters of Marxism.

And we must ask everyone who talks about unity: unity with whom? With the liquidators? If so, we have nothing to do with each other.

But if it is a question of genuine Marxist unity, we shall say: Ever since the Pravdist newspapers appeared we have been calling for the unity of all the forces of Marxism, for unity from below, for unity in practical activities.

No flirting with the liquidators, no diplomatic negotiations with groups of wreckers of the corporate body; concentrate all efforts on rallying the Marxist workers around the Marxist slogans, around the entire Marxist body. The class-conscious workers will regard as a crime any attempt to impose upon them the will of the liquidators; they will also regard as a crime the fragmentation of the forces of the genuine Marxists.

For the basis of unity is class discipline, recognition of the will of the majority, and concerted activities in the ranks of, and in step with, that majority. We shall never tire of calling all the workers towards this unity, this discipline, and these concerted activities.

- V.I. Lenin, “Unity”

American Party of Labor: William I. Robinson’s Global Theory of Capitalism – The Problems of Transnational Class and State

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Globalization has become a subject of the utmost interest in recent decades. With the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the rise of capitalist hegemony in its most sincere form, some have argued for an “end of history” in which international capitalism reigns supreme, lead by the the United States, the chief victor of the Cold War. Others have articulated this differently.

William I. Robinson argues that the theoretical understanding of imperialism asserted by V.I. Lenin and upheld by other 20th century Marxists is insufficient for understanding the current state of affairs in modern global capitalist society. Rather, he asserts that a new theory which takes into account a negation of the nation-state as the main vehicle for advancing the cause of capital and fulfilling the profit ends of regional capitalists. He argues that the contradictions within capitalism are being globalized; that nation-states and national capitalists are being integrated into a larger transnational class and state.

It must be noted, however, that Robinson is not the first to make such an argument. Other theorists have made similar arguments in which the old notions of imperialism are replaced with more “global” perspectives which perceive the contradictions within capitalist nation-states taking place globally. These hypotheses would later lead those theorists and their adherents to anti-Marxist, anti-scientific conclusions which would render their theories less useful for a concrete understanding of capitalism on the world stage. There are problems which arise in trying to haphazardly apply intra-national contradictions in an international way. We will examine Robinson’s theory of global capitalism and using similar attempts at assessing capitalism internationally we will argue that the concepts of a “transnational capitalist class” and transnational state are problematic.

In his book, A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World, Robinson argues that an epochal shift is occurring in capitalism in which the rise of transnational production is leading to the construction of a transnational capitalist class (TCC) and a transnational state (TNS). This theoretical understanding would, at first blush, seem eerily similar to one put forward by Karl Kautsky at the beginning of the century. Kautsky, on the eve of the First World War, argued

“From the purely economic standpoint… there is nothing further to prevent this violent explosion finally replacing imperialism by a holy alliance of the imperialists” (Kautsky, 1914).

This state of affairs is what he referred to as “Ultra Imperialism.”

Vladimir Lenin puts forward a different view in his work Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism:

“The capitalists divide the world, not out of any particular malice, but because the degree of concentration which has been reached forces them to adopt this method in order to obtain profits. And they divide it ‘in proportion to capital’, ‘in proportion to strength’, because there cannot be any other method of division under commodity production and capitalism. But strength varies with the degree of economic and political development. In order to understand what is taking place, it is necessary to know what questions are settled by the changes in strength. The question as to whether these changes are ‘purely’ economic or non-economic (e.g., military) is a secondary one, which cannot in the least affect fundamental views on the latest epoch of capitalism. To substitute the question of the form of the struggle and agreements (today peaceful, tomorrow warlike, the next day warlike again) for the question of the substance of the struggle and agreements between capitalist associations is to sink to the role of a sophist” (Lenin 1916).

Given the continuation of inter-imperialist conflicts throughout the 20th century, Kautsky’s theory has ultimately ended up in history’s dustbin. It is for this reason that Robinson took the time to briefly mention Kautsky and to separate his theory from “Ultra Imperialism” by saying

“My theory differs sharply from Kautsky’s in a number of ways that I cannot take up here except to note that competition has driven capitalist dynamics and will continue to do so” (Robinson 61).

He then goes on to describe how competition on an international scale has lead to mergers and acquisitions across state lines. Nevertheless this is insufficient, because Robinson ignores the issue of inter-imperialist warfare. Has capitalism evolved beyond wars between imperialist powers? Kautsky’s theory would seem to answer in the affirmative and, in a sense, Robinson’s does as well.

Another theoretical outlook which deserves to be examined in comparison to Robinson’s is Lin Biao’s. In his pamphlet Long live the Victory of People’s War! the Chinese politician Lin Biao wrote:

“Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called ‘the cities of the world’, then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute ‘the rural areas of the world’. Since World War II, the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously. In a sense, the contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas” (Lin Biao 1965).

Lin Biao, in an attempt to apply the Maoist concept of people’s war to the international struggle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie, pioneered a version of Mao’s “theory of three worlds” which perceives the world as being a global countryside surrounding a global city, paving the way for later adherents to his theory to apply class labels to entire nations, saying that the “first world” represents a global bourgeoisie and making such claims as “the first world proletariat is a myth.” At this juncture it is important to note that Robinson does not share Lin Biao or his modern-day followers’ understandings of a global countryside or global city, and indeed argues against the sort of assessments which fuel the line taken up by contemporary third-worldists.

We do not seek to label Robinson as a Lin-Biaoist or a Kautskyian. Rather, what we’d like to point out is the common failing of all three of these theories. What these theories demonstrate is that there are problems when one is too quick to apply phenomenon which can be empirically understood at the national level to phenomena occurring internationally.

The chief problem with Robinson’s theory of a “transnational capitalist” class is that Robinson underestimates contradictions among the bourgeoisie internationally, seeing a “bourgeois internationalism” that is not there. Uneven development among nations means that capitalists internationally frequently have different interests and not all of these interests can be met by full integration of their economic activity within the global marketplace. Any alliance, any “unity” within the capitalist camp is subject to how it benefits the profits of the individual capitalists within such an alliance. Unlike workers, who are able to reap benefits from the struggles of workers all over the world, a capitalist isn’t necessarily benefited by the success of other capitalists. As capitalists are forced to compete for what they perceive to be a limited number of material and market resources, the bonds which have formerly bound them begin to deteriorate. Within nations, compromise among capitalists is more possible and prudent. After all, they both have access to the mechanisms of state power and both have a vested interest in keeping the local proletariat in bondage. Yet internationally, inter-imperialist competition and warfare are a viable solution when unity and compromise become too much of a burden. The capitalist often has little to gain and much to lose when the capitalists of other nations are able to seize upon material and markets he desires and potentially has much to gain from their destruction.

Following with this error, Robinson’s theory of a transnational state is equally problematic, in that by concluding that

“[e]conomic globalization has its counterpart in transnational class formation and in the emergence of a TNS, which has been brought into existence to function as the collective authority for a global ruling class” (Robinson, 88)

he underestimates special functions of the state which this new transnational state has no mechanism to fulfill. These special functions include the reinforcement of a common ideology, the maintenance of a military and police apparatus for the defense of private property relations and (to varying degrees between advanced industrialized capitalist countries) some assurance of social welfare. These functions are essential to the maintenance of an economic system built upon class antagonism, for any state to exist and to perpetuate itself, nationally or transnationally, these specific functions need to be effectively managed in a centralized manner. Instead, these important functions are still carried out at the level of the nation-state. The consequence is that the nation-state is itself still an invaluable asset to those capitalists who exert control over it locally. It cannot be abandoned, nor can it necessarily be compromised by the needs of integrating the nation state into a broader transnational state apparatus if the cost of such an integration infringes on the national bourgeoisie maintaining their grips on the local proletariat.

In Robinson’s understanding of a transnational state, Robinson would seem to think of inter-imperialist conflict as a “thing of the past,” when in actuality, the distinct possibility of a clash of powers exists as Western hegemony begins to wane. Sure, Robinson allows for competition between capitalists in his theory, yet any conception of a transnational state would require that competition be limited insofar as it becomes a threat to this state apparatus. There are no guarantees in the current world situation that inter-state rivalries would manifest themselves militarily. Every attempt to build an international body that would prevent such violence has failed and will fail so long as different nation-states have interests which lie outside of a possible collective interest.

As the world situation evolves and new material realities emerge, many are lead to try and perceive what will be capitalism’s “next greatest leap.” From the time of Marx to the time of Lenin we have seen capitalism evolve into a system of imperial capitalism. Now, with the United States emerging as victor in the Cold War and with the evolution of communications technology and international commerce, theorists are tempted to call this the dawn of a “new world order.” The reality is that the rules haven’t changed since the days of rival imperialist powers. Capitalists still thirst for profit and still face differing conditions for the exploitation of the world’s laborers. To say that the world’s exploiters are coming together as a “transnational capitalist class” and are building a “transnational state” to advance the ends of their mutual exploitation is to ignore one facet of capitalism’s character which is most vital: the capitalist is in it for himself, and to defend that self-interest the capitalist is still willing to go to war with other capitalists. When nations are forced to compete for resources, when empire is forced to challenge empire, international relations can and will be placed second to the needs of the national bourgeoisie.

This reality, this inevitability of inter-imperialist struggle, has ensured that attempts at building lasting unity among capitalists abroad are but a mere pipe-dream in the long run. The facade of unity presented after the cessation of another inter-imperialist conflict will ultimately break in favor of the next one. As the leading imperialist power falls into decline in a matter quite reminiscent to the events leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union (economic crisis, ten-year-long occupations of Afghanistan, et al.) other powers will try to assert their dominance. The hope of some sort of unity among the “transnational capitalist class” in the wake of such a shift in powers is meager.

Given the essential problems in William I. Robinson’s conceptions of an emerging “transnational capitalist class” and “transnational state,” we argue that the Leninist model is still the best model for understanding the machinations of the capitalist system internationally — even in this moment where the words “globalization” and “transnational corporation” are on everyone’s lips. While Robinson deserves credit for attempting to assert a new theoretical model for understanding contemporary capitalism on the world stage, his theory is not a suitable replacement for the Leninist model.

Sources

Biao, Lin. Long Live the Victory of People’s War! Foreign Languages Press, 2003.

Kautsky, Karl. Ultra-Imperialism. 1914. Print.

Lenin, V.I. Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. 1916.

Robinson, William. A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World. John Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Grover Furr reviews Robert Thurston’s “Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934 -1941”

As always, the publication of an article does not necessarily imply an absolute endorsement of the entirety of its content.

– Espresso Stalinist.

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by Grover Furr, from Cultural Logic, Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 1998

Robert W. Thurston, Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996). $30.00.

Anti-Stalinism Hurts Workers, Builds Fascism

1. Billions of workers all over the world are exploited, murdered, tortured, oppressed by capitalism. The greatest historical events in the twentieth century — in fact, in all of human history — have been the overthrow of capitalism and establishment of societies run by and for the working class in the two great communist revolutions in Russia and China.

2. The Russian Revolution was the first of them, blazing the trail for all revolutionaries to come. Its history — its successes and failures — are the essential textbook for all workers and others who recognize the need to get rid of exploitation and build a better world run by those who toil.

3. Naturally the world’s capitalists do not want this learning process to happen! So the ruling class try to spread anti-Communist lies, the purpose of which is to demoralize potential revolutionaries and make us passive. These wrong ideas — wrong both in the sense that they are incorrect AND in that they serve the exploiters’ interests, not the interest of workers — include racism, religion, sexism, and anti- communism.

4. The main form anti-communism has taken for the past several decades has been anti-Stalinism. If workers and others can be convinced that any attempt to build a communist society — one based upon need, without exploitation, run by and for the working class — will end up “as bad as or worse than” Nazi Germany, then we will never really make the attempt. This means we will be reduced to struggling only for reforms under capitalism. This reformism is ultimately acceptable to the capitalists since it leaves them in control forever.

5. A second way the bosses use anti-Stalinism is to justify fascist repression and murder of any workers’ attempts to rebel against capitalism. After all, if “Stalinism” is “worse than Nazi Germany”, and if any attempt to build communism can lead only to “Stalinism”, then any and all repressive measures to suppress revolution are justified, including torture, mass murder, and fascism itself. This anti-communism has been the main justification for imperialist slaughter in the period since World War II, as indeed it had been for the Nazis’ aggression and atrocities.

6. Because it is the main ideological form of anti-communism, fighting anti-Stalinism is therefore a vital, life-and-death issue for the world’s workers — for all of us. This review essay will show how a new (1996) book can be useful in doing just that, and it also outlines some of the limitations of that book.

Strengths of Thurston’s Work

7. Thurston’s main points are as follows:

– The mass arrests and executions of 1936-38 in the USSR were not planned, but were panicked reactions to plots against the Soviet government.

– These events were not intended to, and did not in fact, spread “fear and terror” throughout the Soviet population, but rather were carried out against perceived enemies with the support and often the active participation of the Soviet population.

– They occurred at a time when the USSR was under enormous threat from hostile nations. (In addition, communists the world over were being imprisoned, tortured and murdered by capitalist regimes, though Thurston does not refer to these facts.)

– The numbers imprisoned and executed were far less that the inflated estimates claimed by anti-Communist sources.

– Rather than being cowed and demoralized by mass arrests and police activity, the growing Soviet industrial working class enjoyed an active voice inside the factories, encouraged by Soviet leaders to speak out about conditions in the plants and outside.

– The “acid test” of whether the workers and peasants supported Soviet socialism or were alienated from and hostile to it came with the Nazi invasion. Thurston shows that the Soviet people determinedly repulsed this massive onslaught by rushing either to join the Red Army or the factories to increase military production, while the Red Army fought with a dedication, effectiveness and morale utterly unmatched by the best Western capitalist armies.

8. Thurston’s introduction outlines what he calls the “standard version” (xiv) or “orthodox view” (xvi) of Stalin and the USSR in the ’30s, invoking the name of Robert Conquest — which he will then prove wrong. (Conquest, a former British Secret Service agent, is the foremost anti- communist liar about the Stalin years.) He also points out also how the present capitalist rulers of Russia have every motive to build anti-Stalinism.

9. This chapter also demonstrates that the Soviet legal system was evolving along recognizably capitalist lines in terms of its judicial process during the early ’30s. On the one hand, this contradicts the view of the Cold Warriors that the USSR was “totalitarian”, and this is Thurston’s main point: that the USSR was becoming more “liberal”, giving citizens protection against arbitrary police action, for example.

10. It reveals, however, how much the Bolsheviks relied on Western capitalist models, in the judicial system and elsewhere (education, culture, industry), for models of how to build a communist society. Here, the Bolsheviks’ view of communism was, as we can see now in hindsight, in many respects a “reformed” version of capitalist relationships. Learning from the Bolsheviks’ shortcomings as well as from their own experience, left forces within the Chinese Communist Party later challenged reliance on police and courts with reliance on the working class and poor peasants through political struggle, public trials, and an emphasis on self-criticism and being held accountable to the masses — a process that eventually reached its high point during the Cultural Revolution before it was finally defeated.

11. Chapter Two disposes of some ancient anti-Communist lies. Thurston shows there’s no evidence Stalin murdered either his second wife in 1932 or Politburo colleague Sergei Kirov in 1934. Both of these fairy-tales have been refuted by other scholars before Thurston but are still accepted without question as true by anti-Stalinists. Concerning the three big “Show Trials” of 1936-38, Thurston highlights the evidence that the basic charges against the defendants were in fact true. This was generally accepted even by keen Western observers at the time, like Joseph Davies, sent by President Roosevelt to check out the Soviet government (see his book Mission to Moscow), and confirmed long ago too by staunch anti-Communist scholars like Robert V. Daniels (see his Conscience of the Revolution, 1960).

12. Thurston shows that there was “wrecking” — industrial sabotage — in the economy under Yuri Pyatakov, whose confession to this effect is also shown to have been voluntary, not coerced (46). Even the charges against Nikolai Bukharin, main defendant in the 1938 trial, are shown to have been true in the main, as documents from Bolshevik archives prove (35-42). Thurston also states that some accusations against the defendants were “fabrications”, but he never gives any evidence to support this charge. In fact — though Thurston does not discuss this — it is quite likely that suspicions of “wrecking” were exaggerated by the recklessness built into the industrialization campaign, caused by the emphasis on “increasing productive forces” by sharpening wage differentials, privileges, and therefore class antagonisms: in short, by socialism, the mixture of communist and capitalist elements which communists since the days of Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program had believed was a necessary interim stage between capitalism and a classless society.

13. Finally, Chapter Two also reaffirms that the massive arrests did not take place until after the arrests and executions in June 1937 of the military commanders led by Marshal Tukhachevsky. Stalin and the Bolshevik leadership clearly believed there was a real conspiracy, and there’s much, though not conclusive, evidence that such a conspiracy indeed existed. Chapter Three demonstrates that the Soviet government reacted in panic to the disclosure of such high-placed treason. There’s no evidence at all that Stalin was out to “terrorize the country”.

14. Nikolai Ezhov, the leader of the political police (or NKVD), was the person most directly responsible for the massive arrests and executions. Usually demonized by Cold-War historians, Ezhov was a long-time Communist with an honorable record, a worker since the age of 14, before being entrusted by the Politburo with the task of directly overseeing the repression of what all believed to be a massive counter-revolutionary plot.

15. Ezhov set high quotas for executions, which the police felt had to be met. There were many examples of police arresting and executing people either to “meet quotas” or from outright corruption. Recent research by Thurston ‘s colleagues suggests that between six and seven hundred thousand persons were executed during 1937-38. (See the article by Getty, Rittersporn, and Zemskov in American Historical Review, October 1993).

16. A few comments are in order here. First, the concept of “quotas” for executions appears to come from Lenin’s practice during the Civil War, although Thurston does not say so. After the Bolsheviks revolution privileged and propertied people throughout Russia opposed the Bolsheviks and Red Army, and White (anti-Communist) forces routinely executed Communists, workers who supported them, and all Jews. Under Lenin’s urging the Bolsheviks would take hostages from among the upper classes, threatening to execute them if the Whites opposed them.

17. It should be clear that such “quotas for execution” were completely inappropriate in a situation in which the Bolsheviks held state power and could confine anyone suspected of anti-Communist activity until their cases could be investigated. Such executions, whether of the guilty or, as was inevitable, of the innocent as well, serve no mass political function, as would public trials, investigations, and a concept of justice based upon the direct participation of the working class — an issue noted by Vyshinsky himself.

18. Anti-Communist “scholars” have repeatedly produced fantastically high figures for Soviet executions and jailings during the “purges”. Thurston challenges those inflated numbers with strong archival evidence. On page 137 he explicitly states that the inflated estimates are too high. On page 11 Thurston has a chart showing there were 1,196,439 camp inmates in 1937, a slight decline from the previous year (this included criminals as well as those arrested for political crimes, but does not include prison inmates). For purposes of comparison, we should note that this is much smaller than the US prison population today! While it seems clear to us now that many of those prisoners charged with political crimes (104,826, or 12.8% of the total) were not in fact guilty, that prison population is a long way from the Cold-War anti-Communist “guesstimates” of between 7 and 15 million prisoners — and some guess much higher still, 20 or 30 million!

19. Thurston shows there were, in fact, other real anti-Soviet plots in addition to the “Tukhachevsky Affair” (mass arrests and executions of military officers), including some spies within the NKVD itself. He also provides overwhelming evidence to show that the arrests targeted elite sectors — managers, specialists, intellectuals, party officials, and not “workers or poor peasants, the favored children of the new regime” (76). Naturally communists should not support unjust accusations against anyone, regardless of their class background. What this fact shows is that socialism — the continuation of capitalist relations of production and a capitalist notion of economic development — involved the continuation of class antagonisms under somewhat different forms, class antagonisms that found expression in the mass arrests and executions.

20. Thurston puts these events squarely in the context of the aftermath of the extremely violent years of 1914-21 (the beginning of World War I to the end of the very bloody Civil War) and, more immediately, of the sharpening international situation of the late ’30s, when Nazi Germany and all the imperialist countries were unmistakably bent upon surrounding and destroying the USSR.

21. However, even at that Thurston underplays the danger facing the Communist movement. On pages 34-5, he mentions the German reoccupation of the Rhineland in March 1936, unchallenged by the French who wanted Hitler to rearm, so as to pit him against the USSR. He mentions the start of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936, but not the huge military support given to Franco, leader of the Spanish fascists, by Nazi German and fascist Italy, nor the phony “neutrality” of England, France, and the USA which cut the Spanish Republic off from international aid. He mentions fascist Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in December 1935, unchallenged by the other imperialists, but never the Japanese fascists’ seizure of Manchuria in 1931 or the Anti-Comintern Pact between Germany, Japan and Italy (1936-37), or the Japanese invasion of China (1937). Stalin would later express the Soviet view that the other imperialists were encouraging the Germans to attack and destroy the Soviet union:

“They kept on urging the Germans to go farther and farther east: ‘You just start a war against the Bolsheviks, and all will be well’” (quoted in Alexander Werth, Russia at War, p. 39).

22. Also left out is the Nazi decimation of the German Communist Party, the largest in Europe, beginning in 1934. In 1936, when the Soviet “purges” began, German Communists were being tortured and murdered by the thousands in German concentration camps, and similar treatment was being meted out to Communists and workers in dozens of other capitalist lands — as, in fact, it still is. Little wonder that the Soviets weren’t prone to treat too kindly those it considered to be German spies and agents!

23. And Thurston repeats, time and again, what his sources show him: the Soviet government favored workers and poor peasants over all others in the population, while they were being exploited, killed, etc., in every other country in the world! Thurston’s own evidence shows that the USSR was a “dictatorship of the working class”.

24. Some police agencies treated evidence as very important, though many did not. Conditions in the labor and punishment camps, the so-called “Gulag”, Thurston argues, were bearable both before and after the period 1937 to 1938, but very bad during this period, reflecting the fact that most police, and even prisoners, were convinced those arrested during this time were traitorous conspirators who deserved the worst treatment.

25. By January 1938, Thurston shows, complaints of unjustified repression were flooding the Central Committee, and the Plenum began to demand that expulsions from the Party be reviewed for unfairness. The next month Andrei Vyshinsky, formerly the head prosecutor at the “Show Trials”, complained about conditions in the labor camps and demanded punishment of camp officials who permitted bad conditions. He also insisted that those who fabricated evidence be arrested. In fact a number of trials of such fabricators did take place this year and the next, often with great publicity.

26. The need to pay greater attention to physical evidence, as opposed to confession, was re-emphasized. By the middle of 1938 the great period of panic, mass arrests, and executions was over. Police procedures were regularized; conditions in the camps improved; many of those falsely arrested were released and exonerated. Trials of NKVD men who had tortured and framed people were held, and the NKVD purged of such people.

27. Certainly the Soviet state was justified in acting to arrest preemptively, in times of crisis, anyone suspected of treason. But there was no reason for executing people on the same flimsy basis; they could certainly have been imprisoned pending a serious review of their cases. Had this been done, many or most executions would not have taken place. What is more, well-publicized trials of those who were guilty, with evidence publicly given, would have raised political consciousness, as did the Chinese Communist Party’s public trials of landlords in the period after their seizure of power, in which peasants openly accused those who had exploited and murdered them.

28. Chapter Six, “Life in the Factories”, shows that the Stakhanovite movement was, in fact, a mass movement which gave all workers the opportunity to gain recognition for improving production and technique, rather than a cynical way of “speeding-up” the workers, as it has been described by anti-Communists. Thurston argues that, in fact, Stakhanovism gave workers more power. Workers’ views and criticisms were respected; supervisors and foremen ignored them at their peril.

29. But here too we see that “socialist” relations of production were basically a reformed version of capitalist relations of production. While acknowledging the communist, collective aspects of the Stakhanov movement, we can see in retrospect how it inevitably became associated with speed-up, given the retention of a wage system. Thurston’s book neglects this aspect of the movement.

30. Thurston quotes some American workers who had also worked in the USSR as saying that conditions of work, and the atmosphere in the factories, were better for Soviet workers in the 1930s than for workers in the US (192). But he then undercuts their view — far more informed than his own — in the next sentence, where he writes that “Soviet workers were hardly better off or freer than their American counterparts”.

31. Ironically, he has already cited evidence on page 170 that at least some Soviet workers had shorter working hours than US workers. At the time, many people thought Soviet workers were, in fact, better off than were American workers. One of them was Walter Reuther, later the anti-Communist president of the United Auto Workers, who worked in a Soviet auto factory in the 1930s. In a passage not cited by Thurston, Reuther wrote home:

Here are no bosses to drive fear into the workers. No one to drive them in mad speed-ups. Here the workers are in control. Even the shop superintendent had no more right in these meetings than any other worker. I have witnessed many times already when the superintendent spoke too long. The workers in the hall decided he had already consumed enough time and the floor was given to a lathe hand to who told of his problems and offered suggestions. Imagine this at Ford or Briggs. This is what the outside world calls the “ruthless dictatorship in Russia”. I tell you … in all countries we have thus far been in we have never found such genuine proletarian democracy… (quoted from Phillip Bonosky, Brother Bill McKie: Building the Union at Ford [New York: International Publishers, 1953]).

32. Thurston says nothing about free medical care, cited in many studies of and novels about the Soviet Union in the 1930s. And much of his chapter shows how Soviet workers had a tremendous amount of input and right to criticize. Thurston also doesn’t mention that millions of US workers were unemployed in the ’30s, while the Soviets had a labor shortage. He omits the fact that US workers trying to unionize for better conditions were being violently attacked, and often killed, by the police, the military, and employer-hired goons. Conditions for the working class in Europe generally were even worse, with fascist or virtually fascist regimes, all viciously anti-working class, in most countries.

33. The final chapter deals with the response of the Soviet population to World War II. Here too Thurston concludes that the Soviet regime retained much loyalty and enthusiasm among the population. Soviet soldiers fought against the Japanese in Mongolia with high morale in 1938, where their military leadership was excellent, and against Finland and then the German Wehrmacht in 1940 and 1941, where both political and military leadership was initially poor and led to larger casualties than necessary. In the opening days of WWII, the Red Army fought well, counterattacking against far superior Axis forces, often fighting to the last man, rarely surrendering unless surrounded or demoralized by huge casualties and a hopeless situation. German officers uniformly remarked that the Soviets fought far better than any Western army (215).

34. Civilian morale was generally high in June 1941, even in Soviet-occupied Eastern Poland. The Polish fascist state had been racist towards Jews and Ukrainians in Eastern Poland, and therefore many of the Ukrainian population were supportive when the Soviets marched in, especially since the Soviets mainly repressed the enemies of the workers and peasants — landowners, Polish officers, and police — and did not collectivize the peasantry. But Ukrainian nationalists in Poland had already basically turned towards the Nazis, so many “Western” Ukrainians welcomed the Nazi invasion. German officers recognized that the Ukrainians in Soviet territory were very different, much more loyal to the USSR and often very hostile to the pro-Nazi West Ukrainians, as Thurston shows.

Shortcomings

35. The research reported in this book because it will help to combat anti-communism and lies against Stalin and the USSR generally during his time. However, Thurston’s work also suffers from serious shortcomings. First, while he combats many anti-Communist lies with good evidence, Thurston also makes many statements critical of the Bolsheviks without any evidence. There are many instances of this.

36. Even more serious are Thurston’s historiographical shortcomings. Not a Marxist of any kind, Thurston frames his analysis entirely in bourgeois historical terms. Therefore, Thurston’s book is valuable when, and only when, he bases his conclusions on primary source evidence. Even when he does, this evidence must be put into an historical materialist, scientific framework in order for important lessons to emerge clearly.

37. Like all the other works of the anti-Cold War researchers — called “revisionists” or “Young Turks” — who have helped to refute anti-Stalin and anti-Communist lies, this is a work of bourgeois history. These works of research take capitalism for granted, and so have a capitalist bias from the outset. Though they come up with important evidence, and often use it well, they do so from an academic perspective. They may refute egregious Cold-War lies, but they never reject anti-communism, the fundamental premise of capitalist scholarship.

38. Most important for our purposes, the “revisionists” do not ask the questions which Marxists, and all those convinced that capitalism must be overthrown, need answers to: namely, What can we learn, positively and negatively, from the history of the USSR? What were the Bolsheviksí successes? Why did these dedicated communists fail?

39. Although it can’t provide answers to the questions revolutionaries need to ask, Thurston’s work, like those of other more objective, though bourgeois, researchers, can help us if we use them according to historical materialism, the scientific method of Marxism or communism.

40. After all, to learn the correct lessons, both positive and negative, from the Bolsheviks’ experience, the history of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union and why it eventually turned into its opposite, we need something in addition to the Marxist method of understanding history, or dialectical and historical materialism. We also need an accurate account of what, in fact, happened, not a farrago of anti-Communist lies and horror stories.

41. It is here, in refuting anti-Communist lies, as well as in discovering what did happen in reality, that Thurston’s work, and that of other honest bourgeois historians, can be very helpful. Let me give two brief examples.

1. Capitalist Relations and Class Antagonisms within the USSR:

42. Thurston shows time and again that those most likely to have been arrested and executed during the panic of 1937-38 were officials, leaders, managers, officers, and “higher- ups” in general. This fact shows that there was a considerable divorce between “leaders” and ordinary workers and other citizens. How could this be?

43. Marx recognized that “all history is the history of class struggle”. The Bolsheviks believed that everything must be subordinated to the fight for industrialization and production. After the early ’30s they used “material incentives” to reward workers and managers, developing large wage differentials and, therefore, differences in living standards among workers and between workers and managers, Party leaders and rank-and-file members, and in every other aspect of society. Believing too that productive technique was “class-neutral”, they kept capitalist production relationships in the factories and capitalist relationships of hierarchy and inequality generally in society. Women still did all the housework as well as their jobs, putting real limits on the extent — real, also — to which sexism could be fought.

44. In short, social relationships in the USSR were “reformed” capitalist relationships more than they were truly communist egalitarian relationships. This had to give rise to new class antagonisms and create resistance to the disappearance of old ones.

45. Thurston’s research can help us see that the mass arrests and executions of 1937-38, which were “concentrated among the country’s elite” (232), reflected these class antagonisms at the same time Stalin and the Soviet leadership believed they had abolished class struggle. Without these capitalist relations the “panic” of the late ’30s and, in fact, the future evolution of the Soviet Union towards, first, state capitalism and, as now, “free-market” capitalism, would not have been possible.

2. Elitist Relations within the Party:

46. In 1938 and thereafter specific cases of police corruption, neglect of evidence, frame-ups, and other negligence were publicized and those guilty punished. Many cases of rehabilitation, both of the living and of those unjustly executed, took place. Nevertheless the Bolshevik leadership under Stalin never really underwent a thorough, public self-critical review of how any injustice could have happened, in order to get to the bottom of it.

47. There is also the question of why people like Zinoviev, Bukharin and others were in important positions of power to begin with. They had demonstrated rotten politics for years. Zinoviev had quit the party in fear rather than take part in the October Revolution. Bukharin had lied many times — Thurston documents this — and had even plotted with the Socialist Revolutionaries against Lenin during the Civil War. (The S-R’s then plotted to overthrow Lenin, and very likely tried to kill him.) They had been expelled from the Party.

48. What was the point of handing them major leadership posts? The Bolsheviks should have trained other members to do their jobs and not relied on these particular intellectuals. Perhaps the concept of a party of “professional revolutionaries”, a “cadre” party — Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin and others had worked for the Party all their lives — had not yet been entirely abandoned for the better concept of a mass party of the working class.

Conclusion: Fight Capitalist Lies

49. Thurston’s work is useful in debunking anti-Communist lies. And his work is only one of a growing body of what has been called “revisionist” research on the history of the USSR. These works use the same kind of bourgeois historical methodology, rules of evidence, logic, and documentation, commonly used in less contentious fields of history, but hardly ever in the study of the communist movement.

50. For the first time, an outline of the major events in the USSR during the Stalin years is beginning to emerge, although the anti-Communist “Cold Warriors” — often joined by enthusiasts for Leon Trotsky — are still actively spreading their lies and contesting every bit of research which contradicts their preconceived ideas, what is virtually a “Cold-War Party Line”.This is exciting, and heady, material!

51. But it is for revolutionaries and workers of today to use research like Thurston’s towards this end. Neither this work nor any others like it can provide the historical materialist framework without which human history will not reveal its truths.

Revisionists’ Research on Soviet History: A Brief Bibliographical Note(Note: It is a daunting task to keep abreast of the exciting research into the history of the Soviet Union during Stalin’s leadership. The “revisionists”, of which Thurston is a leading representative, have split the field of bourgeois Soviet history, and there is much animosity on both sides. In addition, it’s very helpful to be able to read Russian, both in order to look at original sources, and to follow the research now being published in Russia that Getty is publishing there, for example. What follows is only a brief introduction.)

1. There are a number of strands in the “new” history of the Soviet Union during the Stalin years. The work of the late E. H. Carr, and of his successors at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Russian and East European Studies, led by R. W. Davies, and represented heavily in the journal Soviet Studies (since volume 45, 1993 retitled Europe-Asia Studies); the research of Jerry Hough, Sheila Fitzpatrick, and Roberta Manning, the inspiration and, in some cases, the teachers of the younger “revisionists”; and the younger cohort themselves. I will concentrate on this third group.

2. The book under review is an excellent place to begin. But, to my mind, the first and groundbreaking work of this school is John Arch Getty, Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938 (Cambridge University Press, 1985). A much revised version of his Ph.D. dissertation at Boston College, 1979, under Roberta Manning, this work is fundamental. One has to read it to get a feel for how completely the “accepted” version (Conquest-Solzhenitsyn, et al. — what Thurston calls the “standard version” or “orthodox view”) of this period must be rejected, how completely dishonest their “scholarship”, how poor their use of evidence. After Thurston, begin with Getty, and a careful reading of his footnotes.

3. The year after Getty’s book was published, the revisionists achieved recognition as a distinct school within Soviet history with Sheila Fitzpatrick’s article “New Perspectives on Stalinism”, The Russian Review 45, 4 (October 1986), 357-373, which the editors published together with four criticisms by established Cold-War historians, and a reply by Fitzpatrick, “Afterword: Revisionism Revisited”. A year later the same journal published eleven responses to Fitzpatrick’s article, including five by the leading younger scholars (William Chase, J. Arch Getty, Hiroaki Kuromiya, Gábor Rittersporn, and Lynne Viola), two supportive articles (by Jerry Hough and Roberta Manning), and an explicit attack by Conquest.

4. Robert Conquest’s voluminous work is the target, acknowledged or not, of much of the research on this period of Soviet history. Getty leads off his book with a brief exposé of Conquest’s irresponsible methods (Origins, p. 5 and note 12, p.222). The work of Steven G. Wheatcroft on the size of Soviet forced labor camps and number of deaths has developed as a refutation of Conquest and those whose research resembles his, like Steven Rosefielde. This debate continues today, and was launched by Wheatcroft’s article “On Assessing the Size of Forced Concentration Camp Labour in the Soviet Union, 1929-1956″, Soviet Studies 33 (April, 1981), 265-95. Conquest’s typically weak reply, with argument “from authority”, is in Soviet Studies 34 (July 1982), 434-39.

5. Wheatcroft and Conquest continue to criticize each other’s studies vigorously. For Wheatcroft’s research, begin with what appears in Europe-Asia Studies. For example, in “The Scale and Nature of German and Soviet Repression and Mass Killings, 1930-1945″, EAS 48 (December 1996), 1319-1353, Wheatcroft attacks the facile, anti-Communist comparison of Stalin with Hitler. The abstract reads:

     Repression and mass killings carried out by German and Soviet leaderships during the period 1930-45 differed in several respects. It appears that the German leader Adolf Hitler put to death at least five million innocent people mainly because of his antipathy towards Jews and communists. In contrast, Soviet leader Josef Stalin ordered the murder of some one million people because he apparently believed them to be guilty of crimes against the state. He was careful about documenting these executions whereas Hitler did not bother about making any pretence at legality.

6. A few other works which base themselves on recently-published Soviet archival documents and give the lie to Conquest-type horror-stories include: Nicolas Werth, “Goulag: Les Vrais Chiffres”, L’Histoire no. 169 (Septembre, 1993), 38-51; J. Arch Getty, Gábor T. Rittersporn, and Viktor N. Zemskov, “Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-war Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence”, American Historical Review 98 (December, 1993), 1017-49; R.W. Davies, “Forced Labour Under Stalin: The Archive Revelations”, New Left Review, 214 (November-December 1995), 62-80.

7. Other works explicitly critical of Conquest include: Jeff Coplon, “In Search of a Soviet Holocaust: A 55-Year-Old Famine Feeds the Right”, Village Voice, Jan. 12, 1988 (on the web at http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/vv.html). Coplon interviewed many of the foremost historians of the USSR, including many “Cold Warriors” as well as some “revisionists”; all rejected Conquest’s phony research on the Ukrainian famine, Harvest of Sorrow (Oxford, 1986), incidentally showing how Conquest was paid by Ukrainian nationalist groups which had collaborated with the Nazis.

8. Thurston was, I think, the first and (to date) the only historian of the Soviet Union to dare to attack Conquest in an academic journal: see Thurston, “On Desk-Bound Parochialism, Commonsense Perspectives, and Lousy Evidence: A Reply to Robert Conquest”, Slavic Review 45 (Summer 1986), 238-244.

9. A six-part series exposing the Nazi origins of the Ukrainian famine myth while remaining critical of Soviet actions from a communist viewpoint, can be found at the Progressive Labor Party website at http://www.plp.org/cd_sup/ukfam1.html; read its notes for scholarly references to that time. Another PLP series, this time in four parts, of Stalin, the PBS television series, and the accompanying book Stalin: A Time for Judgment, by Jonathan Lewis and Phillip Whitehead (New York: Pantheon, 1990), begins at http://www.plp.org/cd_sup/pbsstal1.html. These articles contain yet more references to “revisionist” scholarship, and end with a brief bibliography of suggested further readings, at http://www.plp.org/books/biblio.html. An appreciative but critical review of Getty’s Ph.D. dissertation, the basis of his 1985 book, is at http://www.plp.org/pl_magazine/purges.html.

10. This should be enough for anyone interested in studying the latest critiques of the Cold-War lies about Stalin and Bolshevik history, the wars within the field of Soviet history, and the best results of bourgeois historiography, to sink their teeth into.

11. Finally: there is an important theoretical issue which I deal with briefly towards the end of my review, and which is not apparent in any of the social-historical and empirical research of the past twenty years or so. That question is: How can the method of dialectical and historical materialism be brought to bear on the “facts” as we are coming to know them, in order to draw valid conclusions from the Bolsheviks’ successes and errors, so that future communists may build upon the past without repeating its mistakes?

12. These works can help us learn something about what did happen, and help us refute anti-Communist lies. But the task of learning from the past to build towards a communist future is up to us.

Source

Enver Hoxha on the Titoite Betrayal

enver_hoxha_1974_oil-painting

“Traitors to Marxism-Leninism, agents of imperialism and intriguers like Josif Broz Tito, try in a thousand ways, by hatching up diabolic schemes like the creation of a third force, to mislead these people and the newly-set up states [in Africa and Asia], to detach them from their natural allies, to hitch them up to U.S. imperialism. We should exert all our efforts to defeat the schemes of these lackeys of imperialism.

[….]

U.S. imperialism has given and is giving billions of dollars to its loyal agents, the treacherous Tito gang.

[….]

It has been said that J. V. Stalin was mistaken in assessing the Yugoslav revisionists and in sharpening his attitude towards them. Our Party has never endorsed such a view, because time and experience has proven the contrary. Stalin made a very correct assessment of the danger of the Yugoslav revisionists, he tried to settle this affair at the proper moment and in a Marxist way. The Inform Bureau, as a collective organ, was called together at that time and, after the Titoite group was exposed, a merciless battle was waged against it. Time has proven over and over again that such a thing was necessary and correct.

The Party of Labor of Albania has always held the opinion and is convinced that Tito’s group are traitors to Marxism-Leninism, agents of imperialism, dangerous enemies of the socialist camp and of the entire international communist and workers’ movement, therefore a merciless battle should be waged against them. We, on our part, have waged and continue to wage this battle as internationalist communists and also because we have felt and continue to feel on our own backs the burden of the hostile activity of Tito’s revisionist clique against our Party and our country. But this stand of our Party has not been and is not to the liking of comrade Khrushchev and certain other comrades.

The Titoite group have long been a group of Trotskyites and renegades. For the Party of Labor of Albania, at least, they have been such since 1942, that is, since 18 years ago.

As far back as 1942, when the war of the Albanian people surged forward, the Belgrade Trotskyite group disguising themselves as friends and abusing our trust in them tried their uttermost to hinder the development of our armed struggle, to hamper the creation of powerful Albanian partisan fighting detachments, and, since it was impossible to stop them, to put them under their direct political and military control. They attempted to make everything dependent on Belgrade, and our Party and our partisan army mere appendages of the Yugoslav Communist Party and the Yugoslav National-liberation Army.

Our Party, while preserving its friendship with the Yugoslav partisans, successfully resisted these diabolical intentions. It was at that time that the Titoite group tried to found the Balkan Federation under the direction of the Belgrade Titoites, to hitch the Communist Parties to the chariot of the Yugoslav Communist Party, to place the partisan armies of the Balkan peoples under the Yugoslav Titoite staff. It was to this end that, in agreement with the British, they tried to set up the Balkan Staff and to place it, that is to say, to place our armies under the direction of the Anglo-Americans. Our Party successfully resisted these diabolic schemes. And when the banner of liberation was hoisted in Tirana, the Titoite gang in Belgrade issued orders to their agents in Albania to discredit the success of the Albanian Communist Party and to organize a “putsch” to overthrow the leadership of our Party which guided the National-liberation War and led the Albanian people to victory. The first “putsch” was organized by Tito through his secret agents within our Party. But the Albanian Communist Party frustrated this plot of Tito’s.

The Belgrade plotters did not lay down their arms and, together with their agent in our Party, the traitor Koçi Xoxe, continued the re-organization of their plot against new Albania in other forms, new forms. Their intention was to turn Albania into a seventh Republic of Yugoslavia.

At a time when our country had been devastated and laid waste and needed to be completely rebuilt, when our people were without food and shelter but with high morale, when our people and army, weapons in hand, kept vigilant guard against the plots of reaction organized by the Anglo-U.S. military missions who threatened Albania with a new invasion, when a large part of the Albanian partisan army had crossed the border and had gone to the aid of the Yugoslav brothers, fighting side by side with them and together liberating Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosova and Metohia and Macedonia, the Belgrade plotters hatched up schemes to enslave Albania.

But our Party offered heroic resistance to these secret agents who posed as communists. When the Belgrade Trotskyites realized that they had lost their case, that our Party was smashing their plots, they played their last card, namely, to invade Albania with their army, to crush all resistance, to arrest the leaders of the Party of Labor of Albania and of the Albanian State and to proclaim Albania a seventh Republic of Yugoslavia. Our Party defeated this diabolic scheme of theirs also. Joseph Stalin’s aid and intervention at these moments was decisive for our Party and for the freedom of the Albanian people. Precisely at this time the Information Bureau exposed the Tito clique. Stalin and the Soviet Union saved the Albanian people for the second time.

The Information Bureau brought about the defeat of the conspiracies of the Tito clique, not only in Albania but also in other countries of People’s Democracy. Posing as communists, the renegade and agent of imperialism, Tito, and his gang, tried to alienate the countries of People’s Democracy in the Balkans and Central Europe from the friendship and wartime alliance with the Soviet Union, to destroy the communist and workers’ parties of our countries and to turn our States into reserves of Anglo-American imperialism.

Who was there who did not know about and see in action the hostile schemes of imperialism and its loyal servitor Tito? Everybody knew, everybody learned, and all unanimously approved the correct decisions of the Information Bureau. Everyone without exception approved the Resolutions of the Information Bureau which, in our opinion, were and still are correct.

Those who did not want to see and understand these acts of this criminal gang had a second chance to do so in the Hungarian counter-revolution and in the unceasing plots against Albania. The wolf may change his coat but he remains a wolf. Tito and his gang may resort to trickery, may try to disguise themselves, but they are traitors, criminals and agents of imperialism. They are the murderers of the heroic Yugoslav internationalist communists and thus they will remain and thus they will act until they are wiped out.

The Party of Labor of Albania considers the decisions taken against Tito’s renegade group by the Information Bureau not as decisions taken by comrade Stalin personally but as decisions taken by all the parties that made up the Information Bureau.

[….]

The Party of Labor of Albania remained unshaken in its views that the Titoite group were traitors, renegades, Trotskyites, subversionists and agents of the U.S. imperialists, that the Party of Labor of Albania had not been mistaken about them.

The Party of Labor of Albania remained unshaken in its view that comrade Stalin had not erred in this matter…

[….]

Some comrades hold the erroneous idea that we maintain this attitude towards the Titoites because, they claim, we are allegedly eager to hold the banner of the fight against revisionism or because we view this problem from a narrow angle, from a purely national angle, therefore, they claim, we have embarked, if not altogether on a “chauvinist course”, at least on that of “narrow nationalism”. The Party of Labor of Albania has viewed and views the question of Yugoslav revisionism through the prism of Marxism-Leninism, it has viewed, views, and fights it as the main danger to the international communist movement, as a danger to the unity of the socialist camp.

[….]

The Yugoslavs accuse us of allegedly being chauvinists, of interfering in their internal affairs, and of demanding a rectification of the Albanian -Yugoslav borders. A number of our friends think and imply that we Albanian communists swim in such waters. We tell our friends who think thus that they are grossly mistaken. We are not chauvinists, we have neither demanded nor demand rectification of boundaries. But what we demand and will continually demand from the Titoites, and we will expose them to the end for this, is that they give up perpetrating the crime of genocide against the Albanian minority in Kosova and Metohia, that they give up the white terror against the Albanians of Kosova, that they give up driving the Albanians from their native soil and deporting them ‘en masse’ to Turkey. We demand that the rights of the Albanian minority in Yugoslavia should be recognized according to the Constitution of the People’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Is this chauvinist or Marxist?

 - Enver Hoxha, “Reject the Revisionist Thesis of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Anti-Marxist Stand of Khrushchev’s Group! Uphold Marxism-Leninism!”