Category Archives: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.)

A Few Comments on ‘Critical Notes on Political Economy’ by Che Guevara


Rafael Martinez

On the 40th Anniversary of the Assassination of Che Guevara by US Imperialism

Here we present a brief review of the book ‘Apuntes criticos a la Economia Politica’ (Critical Notes on Political Economy), consisting of various materials written by Ernesto Che Guevara, published by Ocean Press, Melbourne, Australia 2006 (in Spanish). This was published in conjunction with the ‘Centro de Estudios Che Guevara’ in Cuba, where the original documents are located. This book presents a collection of materials, most of which were unpublished and, therefore, represent a very important reference point for further scrutiny of Guevara’s economic thought.

It is convenient to warn the reader about our point of view with regard to the completeness of the materials selected by the editors. It is our firm belief that the published materials offer an incomplete reference point to Guevara’s overall view of political economy and that, if taken in isolation, these texts can help obliterate the essence of his economic thought and his contribution to the early stages of the economic reforms in Cuba. We hold the opinion that this publication does not contain all the available unpublished materials/notes on economic and philosophic topics that Guevara left us before taking off to Bolivia. Last, but not least, we call on the reader to see Guevara’s bare and sketchy language in the concrete historical context and circumstances in which Guevara was forced to scribble his thoughts. We find that a number of statements, especially those written by Guevara as comments to his readings, are not necessarily as clear as one would have hoped, leaving room for misinterpretation and misrepresentation of Guevara’s true intentions.

The book offers the following unpublished materials, which constitute, according to the editors, all the written materials left by Guevara with regard to his unfinished work for the publication of a manual of political economy. This manual of political economy would have been a response to the Soviet textbook of political economy with which he had already polemicised in public discussions:

  • Tentative plan
  • Prologue: the need of this book
  • Biographical sketch of Marx and Engels
  • 10 questions on the teachings of a famous book (referring to the Soviet textbook of Political Economy, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Spanish edition 1963)

These are followed by a lengthy appendix, some materials of which were also unpublished. The appendix starts with a selection of critical notes (unpublished) on economic-philosophic Marxist works, which we believe is a rather incomplete set of notes, given the fact that Guevara presented himself as a rather methodical and critical person who, as we see in the book, loved to scribble his thoughts as he read. We are eager to see the rest of Guevara’s annotations, particularly those related to Lenin’s works on the New Economic Policy, Stalin’s work, ‘Economic Problems…’ and Mao’s ‘On the Correct Handling of Contradiction’ among others. We believe that these materials would be crucial to reconstruct a more cohesive picture of the later stage of Guevara’s economic thought.

In our view, in these unpublished works Guevara does not contradict any of the principles of his economic thoughts formulated earlier in his published articles that have been available to the public for over 40 years. While consistent with the most relevant tenets of ‘Guevarism’ in political economy, this text is a most valuable document that reveals some remaining obscure aspects of Guevara’s economic thought and evolution. This document is particularly revealing and assists us in gaining further insight into the heart of Guevarism and its distinct idiosyncrasy. It most definitely assists us in further refuting the theses of neo-Trotskyism with regard to Guevara’s economic thinking and philosophy, which try to reconcile his criticism of the post-Stalin Soviet economic model with their anti-Stalinism. On the other hand, this new document further corroborates and sheds additional light on the negative aspects of Guevara’s economic thought. As a matter of fact, as will be seen below, these documents help us gain additional insight on Guevara’s interpretation of the dialectical method and how this leads him to commit serious mistakes of principle. In conclusion, this new set of documents sheds very important light on crucial aspects of Guevara’s writings and it will be instrumental in building a more comprehensive picture of the revolutionary’s economic thought, both in its glory and its misery, in its apogee and its defeat. This document is a mandatory source for those who wish to comprehend the intricacies of Guevara’s thought and its implications on questions of political economy of the transitional society in the conditions of Latin America.

In the foreword written as an introduction to the political economy textbook he planned to write he synthesises his point of view with regard to the progress made in the political economy of the transitional society. The essential points put forward in the foreword are consistent with the spirit behind his critical notes, indicating that he had already arrived at the basic tenets of this economic thinking. This paragraph bears witness to Guevara’s overall viewpoint on the state of Marxism-Leninism:

‘The immense amount of writings that he [Lenin – our note] would leave after his death constituted an indispensable complement to the works of the founders [Marx and Engels – our note]. Then the source became weaker and only some isolated works of Stalin and some writings from Mao Tse Tung managed to stand out as a witness to the immense creative power of Marxism. In his last years Stalin sensed the results of this backwardness in theory and ordered the publication of a manual accessible to the masses that would deal with issues of political economy up to our days’ (in ‘The need for this book’, p. 30).

Guevara worked on the manual of political economy in the period 1965-1966 during his stays in Tanzania and Prague, after stepping down from office in Cuba. These materials bear excellent testimony to one of the most complex periods of the thinker in which he finally rejected the model of economic development pursued by the socialist camp at the time and had reached the stage at which he formulated his own interpretation of the theoretical sources of that economic practice. Guevara had reached a point at which he felt ready to formulate a list of theoretical and practical problems that he believed had not been addressed by Marxists at the time, as he had the firm belief that the state of theoretical development was not appropriate to the objective conditions imposed by the revolutionary process. To understand his state of mind it is most relevant to emphasise Guevara’s disillusionment with the economic reforms in Eastern Europe (and the Soviet Union for that matter), which he criticised most of all:

‘The solution that people want to give in Poland is the free development of the law of value, i.e. the return to capitalism. This solution had already been applied in the Polish countryside, where agriculture was de-collectivised; this year, due to drought and other natural adversities, Polish agriculture is in worse shape than before, has had more serious problems, in other words, the place where the economic calculus leads to … is solving the problems using the same system, by enhancing the material stimulus, the dedication of people to their material interest, leading, in a way, to the resurrection of categories that are strictly capitalist. This is something that has been happening for a while, which Poland is now trying and I think it is also being tried in other socialist countries’ (in ‘Annexes’, pp. 321-322).

In addition, Guevara was of the opinion that the reforms in Eastern Europe were of similar quality to those implemented in Yugoslavia, which Guevara refers to as aberrations due to mistakes of principles:

‘Poland is going along the Yugoslav path, of course; collectivisation is reverted, private property inland is reinstated, a new system of exchange is established and contacts are maintained with the United States. In Czechoslovakia and Germany the Yugoslav system is under study in order to apply it’ (in ‘Annexes’, pp. 404-405).

On the other hand, we are inclined to believe that Guevara would have disagreed with the assertion that there was capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies in the sense implied by Marxist-Leninists. On pages 380-381 of the present volume he seems to agree with Sweezy’s rebuttal of the Chinese thesis about the capitalist character of Yugoslavia, indicating that he would rather agree with the statement that ‘Yugoslavia is moving towards capitalism’.

By openly objecting to the essence of the economic reform in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Guevara alienates himself from the mainstream economic thought at the time. In doing so he becomes critical not only of the present but also of the past and as it becomes clearer to us now, he arrived at the belief that at the source of these economic deviations stands Lenin’s attitude towards the economics of the transitional society and the first steps of the construction of socialism:

‘In the course of our practical and theoretical investigation we have a clear suspect, with name and surnames: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’ (in the ‘Prologue’, p. 31).

Guevara is most likely a victim of the ideological confusion of the time in Cuba, which, in conjunction with the lack of materials in Spanish translation, may have created the pre-conditions for arriving at some dreadful conclusions. One of the most shocking pieces revealed by this document is Guevara’s rebuttal of some of Lenin’s theses on the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union. In particular, Guevara does not understand Lenin’s call for the New Economic Policy and its role in the prospective of socialist transformations in a predominantly petty-bourgeois country. To blame Lenin for the restoration, or to be more exact according to Guevara’s reasoning, for the process of restoration of capitalism at the time in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe is a reflection, among other things, of Guevara’s failure to grasp Lenin’s dialectical approach to the solution of contradictions in the transitional society:

‘It is a real fact that all the juridical superstructure of the current Soviet society comes from the New Economic Policy; in this the old capitalist relations are preserved, the old categories of capitalism, i.e., commodities exist, to a certain extent, profit and the interest that the banks appropriate exist and, of course, there exists the direct material interest of the workers’ (ibid., in ‘Some thoughts about the socialist transition’, p. 11).

To blame the New Economic Policy for the right-wing character of the economic reforms of the post-Stalin period shows how little Guevara understood of the essence of the transformation of the economic categories inherited from capitalism that occurred in the Soviet Union during the periods of transition to socialism and communism. This major mistake in Guevara’s economic thought is due to a number of circumstances. We believe that his idealist mistakes are to blame for this blunder. We should also take into account the fact that he was not acquainted with the Soviet materials on political economy and philosophy of the Stalin period. We emphasise this fact also because he was certainly not the only one affected by this shortcoming. As a matter of fact it affects many of those who take Stalin’s Economic Problems in isolation from the economic practice of socialist construction that this crucial work is a generalisation of. Without access to this documentation it is extremely hard to make a case in favour of the qualitative change of the character of the economic categories in the practice of the Soviet Union in the Stalin period. Unfortunately, so far the wealth of economic and philosophical materials published in major Soviet journals of the revolutionary period still remains in Russian only. At the time when the economic discussions under Guevara’s leadership had reached their apogee, a number of various ideological trends were tolerated and even published in the official Cuban press. Needless to say, these trends had institutionalised the fact that their analysis of the economic history of the Soviet Union was based on pseudo-bourgeois if not utterly bourgeois sources and that for them questions of dialectics and the Marxist method are as much abstract notions as they are alien to a bourgeois thinker. With this we do not mean to exonerate or excuse Guevara’s fundamental mistakes; however, we believe that this circumstance, together with preconceptions and ideological prejudices that became overwhelming and ubiquitous in ideological discussions at the time in Cuba, may have played a role in the formation of Guevara’s views on political economy.

What seemed at the time to be a relative obvious statement to many in Cuba, including Guevara himself, that the existence of commodity-money relations in the Soviet Union was inherited from the period of the New Economic Policy, is no more than a reflection of sheer ignorance of the complexity of the economic reality of the transitional society.

Guevara went further when he stated that the New Economic Policy was a requirement particular to the social and economic reality of post-revolutionary Russia and that Cuba, or any other country facing the tasks of revolutionary transformations, does not necessarily need to implement these policies. This statement is in principle correct. However, we think that Guevara may have wanted to make the issue of the disappearance of commodity-money relations a question of socialist education, rather than a question of the maturity of the relations of production and the development of the productive forces. We have certain evidence that Guevara does not necessarily agree with the fundamental principle of the objective character of the economic laws of the transitional society. Guevara’s seemingly correct statement against the absolutisation of the New Economic Policy as an intermediate and necessary step to the transition to socialism, as advocated by modern revisionism, seems to be considered by him from idealist positions. Here lies the core of Guevara’s deviation from the principles of Marxist-Leninist political economy. This does not necessarily deny the value of his fight against the tenets of modern revisionism, but it places severe restrictions on the value of his economic thinking.

It is extremely interesting to note that Guevara is aware of the evolution of the Soviet manual after the death of Stalin. He recognised that the manual changed both in its structure and its orientation as the Soviet economic structure evolved.

‘This manual has been translated into many languages and several editions have been published, undergoing pronounced changes in its structure and orientation as changes took place in the Soviet Union’ (in ‘The need for this book’, p. 30).

Unfortunately, we lack further detail on this reasoning, which would be crucial in evaluating Guevara’s understanding of the history of the political economy of the Soviet Union. We believe we have a fair idea of Guevara’s point of view with regard to the change of orientation (at least along general lines, i.e. Stalin’s line for the suppression of commodity-money relations as opposed to their expansion under the revisionist economic model). But we are not particularly clear about what particular aspects of the economic policies in the 1950s he would refer to as a change in orientation, since the economic reforms of September 1953 onwards affected many aspects of the Soviet economic structure. As discussed above, we believe that Guevara does not necessarily understand the qualitative changes of the economic relations in Stalin’s period and the economic discussions that led to the first draft of the political economy textbook.

Nevertheless, to acknowledge an evolution in Soviet economic thinking at the time is very important in analysing the intricacies of Guevara’s own evolution and for the significance of his economic thought. It certainly reinforces the progressive aspect of his economic thinking with respect to what was widely accepted as a dogma by Trotskyite and neo-Trotskyite ideologists. Guevara does not subscribe to the dogma advocated by those who attacked and still attack the Soviet Union from ‘left’-wing revisionist positions, that allegedly Khrushchevism-Brezhnevism represents a continuation of what is usually referred to as Stalinism. According to this reasoning a rift is established between Leninism and ‘Stalinism’ and the latter is understood as a deviation or even its antithesis, and was perpetuated after Stalin’s death. They do not recognise a qualitative change in the economic policies in the 1960s compared to the political economy embodied in the policies of Stalin’s period. On the contrary, they view the economic evils of Soviet modern revisionism as a result of ‘Stalinist’ thinking. Nothing can be more absurd from the point of view of Marxism-Leninism, and Guevara is not afraid to polemicise with those who imply a rift between Lenin and Stalin, whether explicitly or implicitly, by rebutting the Soviet revisionists’ claims of Stalin’s mistakes:

‘In the alleged mistakes of Stalin lies the difference between a revolutionary attitude and a revisionist one. He sees the danger enclosed in market relations and tries to break with it, while the new leadership is curved by the pressure of the superstructure and promotes the action of market relations by theorising that the use of these economic mechanisms may lead to communism’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 214).

It is well known that Guevara had an overall supportive attitude towards Stalin’s Economic Problems. However, the present text bears witness to the fact that he disagrees with some of the points raised by Stalin in this work. We will not elaborate more on this point since we would not be adding much of substance to what has already been said about the idiosyncrasy of Guevara’s economic thought. Nevertheless, it would probably be helpful to give a quote in which Guevara clearly states his position with regard to Trotsky and Trotskyism:

‘I think that the fundamental stuff that Trotsky was based upon was erroneous and that his ulterior behaviour was wrong and his last years were even dark. The Trotskyites have not contributed anything whatsoever to the revolutionary movement; where they did most was in Peru, but they finally failed there because their methods are bad’ (in ‘Annexes’, p. 402).

We do not want to mislead the reader into believing that ‘Guevarism’ is a form of vindication of ‘Stalinism’. While appreciating the revolutionary character of Stalin’s contribution to political economy and demonising the tenets of modern revisionism, he also appears quite critical of Stalin’s deeds. Guevara concludes the above paragraph by bluntly making a terrible accusation:

‘Few voices oppose him publicly, showing this way the huge historical crime of Stalin: to have despised communist education and to have established a stiff cult of personality’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 214). 

Here Guevara manifests a lack of erudition and originality in perpetuating one of the most common criticisms of Stalin’s legacy. To talk about Stalin’s alleged contempt for communist education reflects a profound lack of knowledge of the history of the Soviet Union. It is factually incorrect and most likely reflects again the lack of translated materials and a general ignorance of everyday life in the Soviet Union. In essence Guevara echoes a rather superficial interpretation of the history of the Soviet Union, which is essentially divorced from the point of view and methodology of historical materialism. Revisionist ideologists, just like bourgeois historians, try to explain the essence of historical periods based on the personality of leaders and ascribe whatever prominent aspect of social life to them. Unfortunately, Guevara mechanically propagates subjective thinking into his economic analysis and discredits his image unnecessarily. It is unlikely that Guevara made a conscious effort to seriously evaluate the essence of such statements and to make a more objective analysis of Stalin’s period. Here, Guevara propagates anti-Marxist reasoning to substantiate one of the central tenets of his economic theory: the inclusion of consciousness into economic relations and therefore to consider consciousness as part of the object of political economy.

This aspect of Guevara’s economic thinking is well known and is repeated in these new materials on numerous occasions. In a letter to Fidel Castro, Guevara explicitly states something that we already expected as a result of the analysis of his published works. We were aware of strong similarities between Guevara’s striving for communist education and the Maoist interpretation of the role of consciousness in the relations of production:

‘Communism is a phenomenon of consciousness, one does not reach it by jumping into the vacuum, by a change in the quality of production, or by the simple clash between the productive forces and the relations of production. Communism is a phenomenon of consciousness and the consciousness of man has to be developed…’ (in ‘Some thoughts about the socialist transition’, p. 11).

It is worth noting that Guevara’s denunciation of Stalin’s alleged contempt for education is quite similar to Mao’s argument in his critique of Stalin’s Economic Problems:

‘Stalin’s book from first to last says nothing about the superstructure. It is not concerned with people; it considers things, not people. Does the kind of supply system for consumer goods help spur economic development or not? He should have touched on this at the least. Is it better to have commodity production or is it better not to? Everyone has to study this. Stalin’s point of view in his last letter [Reply to comrades A. V. Sanina and V. G. Venzher – editor’s note] is almost altogether wrong. The basic error is mistrust of the peasants’ (Mao Tse Tung, A Critique of Soviet Economics, Monthly Review Press, New York and London, 1977, p. 135).

This strongly suggests that this aspect of Guevara’s economic thinking is not original, as some experts of his work insistently argue. It is evident that this aspect of his thinking is the result of the influence of various ideological trends that circulated in Cuba at the time. It is clear to us that Guevara made a serious effort in the course of his investigation to disentangle complex questions of political economy. In doing so the spectrum of literature he was exposed to could not have been as broad as one would have hoped. Unfortunately, Guevara is driven by the prejudice propagated by many different revisionist trends outside the Soviet Union, and within it after Stalin’s death, that allegedly the economic thought at the time was characterised by dogmatism (on the other hand, we are unclear as to what exactly Guevara meant by dogmatism). While being progressive in the main, Guevara uncritically takes for granted what the Bettelheims and Sweezys propagated in Cuba without proof (speaking of dogmatic thinking…).

‘After a long lethargy, characterised by the most outright apologetic, the XXth Congress of the CPSU made a leap, but not forward; constrained by the dead end that the hybrid system led to and pressed by the superstructure, the Soviet leadership took steps backwards that were complemented by the new organisation of industry. The lethargy is followed by repression; both have the same dogmatic character’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 213).

Guevara on Collectivisation

This topic is probably the one in which this document gives us the most additional insight into Guevara’s economic thought. Guevara’s views on collectivisation are not really covered in the published materials available to us. One could only guess that for the sake of internal consistency Guevara would have advocated for a progressive stand with regard to the role of the state and the main relations of production in the countryside and his attitude with regard to modern revisionism on this question. It is fascinating to see confirmed this initial view that Guevara opposed the selling of the machine tractor stations to the collective farms. This policy had become default at the time of the Cuban revolution and was one of the most important aspects of the agrarian program of the revisionists around the world and was very much supported and even imposed by the Soviet revisionists.

It seems probable that Guevara was unaware of the fact that the Chinese leadership also advocated these policies at the time. According to various biographers of Guevara, at some point the contradiction between his economic policies and those instigated by the Soviet revisionists became so acute that the latter started to accuse Guevara of deviationism (Trotskyism, in particular) and that he in turn allegedly rebutted those accusations by arguing that if anything, he was closer to the Chinese with regard to the controversy. We do not want to debate the accuracy of the eyewitness’ accounts on which these authors based their assumptions about Guevara’s Maoism. What is clear to us, however, is that Guevara fundamentally deviates from mainstream Maoism on this question, probably without really knowing it.

Guevara raises one point correctly. It is a well-known fact that the relative weight of strictly private agricultural production of peasants was dropping with respect to the overall output of the collective farms, as reported by the Soviets at that time. This was due to the natural evolution created by the growing disparity of labour productivity between mechanised and manual labour and the fact that capital investment in general favoured the former for obvious reasons. Guevara is right in pointing to the fact that, at some point in the development of the collective system of production, the contradiction between the people’s property and the kolkhoz is not determined by the fraction of the means of production made up of private property of individual peasants.

‘Private property is being eliminated within the kolkhoz and, moreover the relative weight of collective property becomes overwhelming, but even if it was 100% the main issue still remains, the contradiction between the people’s property and the collective property’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 185).

Here Guevara addresses the general problem of the contradiction between collective property and socialised property as a problem per se, which always remains as long as collective property has not merged into the property of the whole people. If put into historical perspective, Guevara’s attitude represents a great step forward with respect to the character of the agrarian reforms fostered by modern revisionism. Here Guevara is aware of a basic element in the Marxist-Leninist approach to the resolution of contradictions between the city and the countryside, contradictions that modern revisionism tried to obliterate and reduce to a question of the different level of development of the forces of production and productivity. Guevara correctly disagrees with such a postulate, thus reinforcing the overall progressive character of his economic thought. This is further strengthened by Guevara’s open rebuttal of one of the biggest attacks on socialism by the Soviet revisionists, namely, the selling of the machine tractor stations from the state to the collective farms in the late 1950s. After a section of the revisionist manual of political economy devoted to substantiating the selling of the machine tractor stations, Guevara writes:

‘This is a concrete example of the contradictions that become antagonistic between the social property and the individual collectivity. The MTS [Machine Tractor Stations – editor’s note] may have had bureaucratic deviations, but the superstructure imposed its solution: more autonomy, more wealth of their own’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 187).

Nevertheless, one must always be careful with Guevara’s formulations. In fact, even though Guevara’s attitude to the revisionist plans for agriculture is overall progressive, one can never be cautious enough when dealing with this writings. Below we find a paragraph that may indicate that Guevara probably made his criticism for the wrong reasons:

‘Before, the need for commodity forms was explained by the existence of different forms of property. In practice the kolkhoz property acts as antagonist to the directly social property and therefore, the double character of labour is similar to that in capitalism. The double character of labour would disappear if this antagonism ceased to exist’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 159).

The first sentence is not controversial. Guevara simple states that under Stalin the persistence of commodity categories in socialism was understood as a result of the presence of two forms of property under socialism: socialised or state property and collective property or the kolkhoz. Unfortunately, Guevara addresses the relationship between the collective property and socialised property as antagonistic. We cannot agree with this as a general statement. In the conditions of the restoration of capitalism the relationship between the state (no more socialised) and collective property is antagonistic and it definitely becomes similar to that in the countries of classical capitalism. However, as long as the state property is socialised, i.e., loosely speaking, the means of production is in the hands of the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat (regardless of the level of the development of the productive forces and the effective level of socialisation of the process of production), the relationship between the former and the kolkhoz system is not antagonistic. This type of statement is equivalent to saying that the relationship between the working class and the peasantry is a relationship of antagonism, which is definitely not true in the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Therefore, the double character of labour in the socialist system or in the transitional society is not driven by a relationship of antagonism.

Here one could argue that Guevara was implying that capitalist relations had been restored in the Soviet Union. He probably would have agreed to some extent with that statement. As a matter of fact, in the text of ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’ he bluntly objects to the concept of the state of the whole people, a concept that was officially supported in the Soviet Union at the time, which clearly implies that he believed the dictatorship of the proletariat had been disbanded for good. Given the extent of Guevara’s criticism of the reforms in Eastern Europe and the fact that he openly talked about these as a regression with respect to earlier practices, one might be inclined to believe that perhaps Guevara was implying that capitalist relations had been restored to some extent in the countries of the former People’s Democracies and the Soviet Union. This might be the case, however, and very unfortunately, Guevara made the statement above in a general sense, as opposed to the case of the revisionist system alone. We are able to disentangle this by means of a short paragraph in the ‘Annexes’ written following a famous quote from Lenin’s On Cooperation that we insert here for the reader’s benefit:

‘By adopting NEP we made a concession to the peasant as a trader, to the principle of private trade; it is precisely for this reason (contrary to what some people think) that the co-operative movement is of such immense importance. All we actually need under NEP is to organise the population of Russia in co-operative societies on a sufficiently large scale, for we have now found that degree of combination of private interest, of private commercial interest, with state supervision and control of this interest, that degree of its subordination to the common interests which was formerly the stumbling-block for very many socialists. Indeed, the power of the state over all large-scale means of production, political power in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants, the assured proletarian leadership of the peasantry, etc. – is this not all that is necessary to build a complete socialist society out of co-operatives, out of co-operatives alone, which we formerly ridiculed as huckstering and which from a certain aspect we have the right to treat as such now, under NEP? Is this not all that is necessary to build a complete socialist society? It is still not the building of socialist society, but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for it.” (V.I. Lenin, On Cooperation Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966, Vol. 33, pp. 467-468.)

To which Guevara, to our despair, bluntly objects:

‘I think this is a wrong conception. The fundamental mistake is to think that the collective character is above its private character, something that practice has ruled out. The cooperative is the result of an economic need; there is a class force behind it and its consolidation and to acknowledge it is to strengthen the class that Lenin so feared’ (in ‘Annexes’, p. 241).

Unfortunately, this reasoning is far from Marxist and reflects once again Guevara’s shallow understanding of dialectical materialism, without which a consistently Marxist treatment of political economy is simply not possible. Guevara is basically telling us, consciously or unconsciously, that the political union between the working class and the peasantry is not viable, even under the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat, by asserting that the collective sector acts as a private producer with respect to the socialised system. And if one reads his words literally one would have to conclude that Guevara does not see the progressive character of cooperation, however complex or simple, in the process of construction of the socialist economy. We are not even sure if Guevara thought carefully enough about the implications of such a statement.

Guevara on Mao

The present document sheds some light on the question of Guevara’s attitude towards Mao in a very revealing but brief passage, which touches upon a very important question in dialectical materialism. In particular, and possibly unconsciously, Guevara deals with one of the most distinct characteristics of Mao’s understanding of the interrelation of opposites in dialectical materialism. A more detailed analysis of this question has revealed a lot about the true essence of Mao’s understanding of the role of contradiction and equilibrium. Due to the lack of material the conclusions drawn here with regard to Guevara’s attitude towards Mao in general, and with respect to this aspect in particular, need to be taken with a grain of salt.

The revisionist conception of the role of commodity-money relations is ultimately related to questions of dialectical materialism, such as the role of contradiction and equilibrium. It is no coincidence to see both aspects linked one way or the other in the analysis of the political economy of modern revisionism. Conversely, we would expect that Guevara would have a well-defined attitude toward the question of contradiction and equilibrium in dialectics for consistency sake, due to the progressive character of Guevara’s conception of the political economy of the transitional society. As a matter of fact the analysis of Guevara’s economic thought indicates a well-defined system of thought, not always correct, but at least self-consistent. One excellent example of self-consistency is Guevara’s negative attitude toward selling the machine tractor stations to the collective farms, as discussed in the previous section.

Before moving to the citation per se, it is relevant to emphasise our lack of understanding of Guevara’s attitude towards the Chinese CP at the time of the controversy with the Soviets. The present document confirms accounts by various biographers of Guevara’s positive attitude towards Mao. And rightly so, as already mentioned above:

‘…Then the source became weaker and only … some writings from Mao Tse Tung managed to stand out as a witness to the immense creative power of Marxism’ (in ‘The need for this book’, p. 30).

As pointed out in the section on Guevara’s stand toward collectivisation, he fundamentally departs from the mainstream stand on this question advocated by the Chinese at the time. It is clear that he opposed the selling of the main means of production to the communes and, if he had a chance, he would have probably rejected the policies of self-reliance that Chinese agrarian policies were based upon. We have no evidence at this point whether Guevara had a chance to analyse the Chinese policies in the countryside and whether he had the opportunity to develop a debate with Chinese officials on this matter. We do have accounts of intense discussion with Soviet and Eastern European economists, especially Czechoslovaks, but we do not seem to have accounts of similar contacts with the Chinese. We are also aware of Guevara’s criticism directed at the Polish leadership. We believe that Guevara would have favoured the Chinese in the Sino-Soviet controversy given his critical attitude toward the Soviets in general and the new economic reforms in particular, which he calls revisionist. But it is not clear to what extent Guevara would have supported the economic policies of the Chinese leadership during the post-Stalin period. We simply lack any evidence. In this respect, it is also relevant to bear in mind that the ideological confusion reigning in the international communist movement at the time (the true nature of modern revisionism was not yet fully understood) had a strong impact on Guevara’s reasoning. The analysis of Guevara’s economic thought shows that he was also a victim of this ideological confusion.

The citation under study in this section belongs to a comment of Guevara allegedly written next to a number of paragraphs of Mao’s On Contradiction. This complicated section of the document needs to be understood within a historical context and, of course, within the context of the pamphlet in its entirety, as Mao’s paragraph quoted by the editors is not even necessarily relevant to Guevara’s footnote. The implications of Guevara’s citation go far beyond the particular topic discussed in the paragraphs of On Contradiction that the editors of the book have chosen to publish, for understandable reasons, as will be discussed below. Guevara writes:

‘… For the Chinese the fundamental contradiction lies between imperialism and the oppressed world, because the latter are the basis for the existence of imperialism. Imperialism can exist without socialism but not without the exploitation of the peoples where the main struggle is for the people’s liberation. On the other hand, there can be no equilibrium between antagonistic opposites [our emphasis]; the socialist countries are antagonistic opposites of the imperialist countries; although they represent a solution of an earlier contradiction (exploited and exploiters) on a national scale, they do not solve the contradiction on an international scale’ (in ‘Annexes’, p. 243).

Guevara’s citation is open to all sorts of speculation. Needless to say, our analysis is for obvious reasons not necessarily unbiased. There are two relevant aspects that we deem necessary to comment on here. Firstly, Guevara points out the position of the Chinese with regard to what they believe are the main contradiction in the class struggle. Guevara voices one of the points that Mao insisted on in his work On Contradiction, that of the existence of a principal aspects of the contradiction, which determines the character of the contradiction and its most important manifestations:

‘Of the two contradictory aspects, one must be the principal and the other the secondary. The principal aspect is the one that plays the leading role on the contradiction. The quality of the thing is mainly determined by the principal aspect of the contradiction that has taken the dominant position’ (Mao Tse-Tung, On Contradiction, International Publishers, New York, 1953, p. 36).

While Mao’s analysis of the role of imperialism in China in On Contradiction is overall correct, the exaggeration of the contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations, between rich and poor, eventually assisted the Chinese leadership in supporting and further developing the anti-Marxist theory of the three worlds (which by the way was not an invention of the Chinese leadership). To argue that the main contradiction is the antagonistic contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations, in the historical conditions of China at the time when the pamphlet was written, is correct. However, to exaggerate the dominant role of this contradiction by idealising and absolutising that relationship unavoidably leads revisionism to disregard the antagonistic class relations between the national bourgeoisie and the oppressed people, to disregard the internal contradictions, as secondary and therefore not relevant, following Mao’s stiff attitude toward secondary contradictions. This idealisation leads to the schematic representation of the division of the world into three types of countries, regardless of social formation, which is anti-Marxist in its core. By idealising the relationship between imperialism and the oppressed nations, between rich and poor nations, such relationships are ripped off their class character and turned into classless concepts, as classless as the mechanical division of the world of exploited and exploiters into the three worlds.

It is not clear to us what Guevara is actually implying by his remark. We do not even know if this conclusion is biased by discussions with Chinese comrades at the time or if it is just an overall comment on the pamphlet, written for his own benefit. Most likely Guevara agrees with the statement. Nevertheless and secondly, what is of particular relevant in our analysis is Guevara’s statement that ‘there can be no equilibrium between antagonistic oppositess, which we find truly remarkable, for the lack of a better word.

In order to appreciate the relevance of Guevara’s statement it is necessary to recall the specifics of Mao’s understanding of the role of contradiction and the dynamics that determine the interaction between the opposites in that contradiction. In contrast to the classical Marxist-Leninist understanding of the concept of qualitative and quantitative change, Mao introduces two forms of movement in On Contradiction:

‘The movement of all things assumes two forms: the form of relative rest and the form of conspicuous change. Both forms of movement are caused by the mutual struggle of the two contradictory factors contained in a thing itself. When the movement of a thing assumes the first form, it undergoes only a quantitative but not a qualitative change, and consequently appears in a state of seeming rest… Such unity, solidarity, amalgamation, harmony, balance, stalemate, deadlock, rest, stability, equilibrium, coagulation, attraction, as we see in daily life, are all the appearance of things in the state of quantitative change’ (On Contradiction, p. 48).

According to Mao, there exist two types of motions, through which qualitative and quantitative changes manifest themselves. Qualitative changes take place through more or less violent motions and quantitative changes take place through relatively slow motions. From the point of view of a purely mechanical approach with regard to, for example, the transition of matter from one state into another and vice-versa, this reasoning would not necessarily provoke strong objections. However, Mao’s reasoning does have serious implications generally speaking, and in particular turns the Marxist-Leninist understanding of the dynamics of the opposites of contradictions into a theory of mechanical equilibrium between them, which is broken when antagonistic contradictions are resolved through qualitative changes or upheavals. According to this reasoning, the accumulation of quantitative changes is viewed from the point of view of harmony among the opposites of the contradiction. Harmony is broken when qualitative changes occur; harmony, however, is the form through which the interrelation of the opposites of the contradiction manifests itself between periods of upheavals. This mechanical interpretation of the understanding of the interrelation between quantitative and qualitative changes is not an innovation of Mao. As a matter of fact, this type of thinking had been extensively developed and applied to the theory of class struggle and political economy by Bogdanov and Bukharin in the Soviet Union.

To understand Bogdanovism and how his theory of equilibrium was adapted by Bukharin to questions of the political economy of the transitional society is crucial to comprehend the theories of market socialism advocated by modern revisionism. Bogdanov was one of the objects of criticism by Lenin in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism and Stalin fought all this life against remnants of Bukharinism in political economy. In essence, the basic philosophical and theoretical tenets of modern revisionism are inspired by Bogdanov’s postulates formulated in his work Universal Science of Organisation – Tektology (1913-1922). Tektology has been highly praised by bourgeois scholars as a precursor of a whole trend of bourgeois ‘natural philosophy of organisation in complex systems’. As Bogdanov put it, ‘the aim of Tektology is the systematisation of organised complexes’ through the identification of universal organisational principles: ‘all things are organisational, all complexes could only be understood through their organisational character’. The starting point of Bogdanov’s Tektology was that nature has a general, organised character, with one set of laws of organisation for all objects. Two aspects of Bogdanov’s contributions were central in the development of the first theories of right-wing revisionist political economy in the 1920s: first, Bogdanov’s metaphysical concept of the law of organisation of a complex system (i.e. the economy of the transitional society) through the identification of universal organisational principles; secondly, the need for equilibrium of the complex system and the environment. Bogdanov believed he had developed a more complex conception of equilibrium, different from the purely mechanical conception, which considered that any complex system should correspond to its environment and adapt to it. But in practice Bogdanov’s postulates were implemented by a trend of Soviet economists in the 1920s, including Bukharin as the leading member of the future right-wing opposition to the plans for massive collectivisation and the gradual liquidation of commodity-money relations in the Soviet economy. In the 1920s the concept of ‘law of labour expenses’ circulated among wide circles of Soviet economists. This concept was exposed at the time as no more and no less than the law of value, dressed up in the form of the Bogdanovite law of organisation of a complex system. The law of labour expenses, according to Bukharin, would be a general law (applicable to all historical epochs and modes of production) that establishes the proportions of labour. In the modes of production based on commodity-money relations, the law of value would be the manifestation of this general law. Under socialism, according to Bukharin, the law of labour expenses would act ‘naked’ without using the form of the law of value. In the end, the regulator of labour exchange under socialism would be the principle of exchange of equal labour (values in the commodity economy). In essence, Bukharin propagated the use of the law of value as the regulator of the proportions of labour in the socialist economy, which is a mercantilist approach to the questions of political economy of the transitional society. The observation of the ‘law of labour expenses’ provides proportionality and, therefore, the necessary equilibrium of the complex system. Bukharin’s energetic opposition to the policies of collectivisation and massive industrialisation was based on the belief that the economic disproportions created by the systematic violation of the ‘law of labour expenses’ (i.e. the law of value) would disturb this abstract concept of economic equilibrium. The theories of market socialism that emerged after the Great Patriotic War and became the official theoretical foundation of the new regime after Stalin’s death is just a sophisticated version of Bogdanov/Bukharin’s ‘law of labour expenses’.

It is not within the scope of the present article to deal with this question in detail. This topic will be covered in more depth in the near future. Nevertheless what is relevant to the present discussion is to point out that Mao’s On Contradiction opens the way to conceiving the concept of harmony of opposites. These features of Mao’s philosophical thinking blossom further and adopt openly revisionist manifestations in a later work, On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People in 1957, in which the harmony of the proletariat and the national bourgeoisie is considered feasible. It is very possible that Guevara was also acquainted with this later work of Mao, as it had become one of Mao’s most publicised works, especially at the time when Maoism was emerging as an ideological trend independent of mainstream revisionist ideology. The fact that Guevara explicitly denies the possibility of harmony of opposites strongly indicates that he was acquainted with this work.

By this we do not want to imply that Guevara had reached a point in his theoretical investigations at which he was in a position to systematically expose the tenets of what’s known today as the theory of Maoism. On the contrary, Guevara agrees with Mao on the role of ideology in the political economy of socialism. Their conceptions of the object of political economy in the transitional society do not differ significantly in their essence. It is in this aspect where Guevara’s economic theory stumbles into serious problems. This central shortcoming of Guevara’s economic thought prevents him from fully and consistently grasping the theory of political economy developed by Lenin and Stalin.

Within the context of the quotation under scrutiny, Guevara is obviously protesting against the theory of peaceful coexistence between what he refers to as socialist countries and imperialism. While internal antagonistic contradictions were in the main resolved by the socialist revolutions, the class contradictions between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie continue mainly under the form of the antagonistic relationship between socialism and imperialism. As a matter of fact, internal contradictions are intimately connected to the antagonistic relations with the imperialist world.

The citation presented above is followed by a hopelessly wrong and rather absurd sentence, to say the very least:

‘Finally, the law of uneven development is a law of nature, not of the dominant social system; therefore, the socialist countries also develop unevenly, which transforms itself through commerce into unequal exchange, or in other words, into the exploitation of some socialist countries by others.’

This sentence is not necessarily relevant to the above discussion. However, we bring this quotation up to make more evident the fact that our investigation on the heart of Guevara’s thought is far from understood and is plagued with pitfalls and inconsistencies. This statement is a blemish on the reputation of Guevara’s thought. To state that the uneven development of socialist countries is a necessary economic law is consistent with stating that the development of socialism spontaneously engenders exploitation of man by man, and therefore, the construction of communism is a hopeless illusion and lacks scientific substantiation both philosophically and from the point of view of political economy. Let us hope for the best, that Guevara was just being sarcastic. Unfortunately, whether this was the case or whether he was trying to make a point will probably remain a mystery to us.


Helen Yaffe – Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara: A Rebel against Soviet Political Economy


Helen Yaffe is author of Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution 

In January 1962 Guevara told colleagues in Cuba’s Ministry of Industries (MININD): ‘In no way am I saying that financial autonomy of the enterprise with moral incentives, as it is established in the socialist countries, is a formula which will impede progress to socialism’.[1] He was referring to the economic management system applied in the Soviet bloc, known in Cuba as the Auto-Financing System (AFS). By 1966, in his critique of the Soviet Manual of Political Economy, he concluded that the USSR: ‘is returning to capitalism.'[2] This paper will demonstrate that Guevara’s analysis developed in the period between these two statements as a result of three lines of enquiry: the study of Marx’s analysis of the capitalist system, engagement in socialist political economy debates and recourse to the technological advances of capitalist corporations.[3] At the same time Guevara was engaged in the practical experience of developing the Budgetary Finance System (BFS); an alternative apparatus for economic management in MININD.

Guevara was head of the Department of Industrialisation and President of the National Bank in 1960 when all financial institutions and 84% of industry in Cuba were nationalised. His BFS emerged as a practical solution to problems thrown up by the transition from private to state ownership of industrial production. Cuba had an unbalanced, trade dependent economy dominated by foreign interests, principally from the United States. The production units which passed under the Department’s jurisdiction ranged from artisan workshops to sophisticated energy plants. Many faced bankruptcy while others were highly profitable. Guevara’s solution was twofold: first, to group entities of similar lines of production into centralised administrative bodies called Consolidated Enterprises. This allowed the Department to control the allocation of scarce administrative and technical personnel following the exodus of 65-75% of managers, technicians and engineers after 1959; and second, to centralise the finances of all production units into one bank account for the payment of salaries, to control investment and sustain production in essential industries which lacked financial resources. With the establishment of MININD in February 1961, the BFS evolved into a comprehensive apparatus which embedded these organisational structures in a Marxist theoretical framework, to foster Cuba’s industrialisation, increase productivity and institutionalise collective management.

Advanced technology

Guevara set up the BFS with compañeros who understood the internal accounting practices, administrative centralisation and productive concentration of US corporations and their subsidiaries in Cuba. Guevara examined the documentation from these companies as they fell into state hands. He was impressed with their management structures, the use of centralised bank accounts and budgets, determinate levels of responsibility and decision-making, and departments for organisation and inspection.[4] He told colleagues that the BFS had an accounting system similar to the pre-1959 monopolies operating in Cuba, with their efficient control systems: ‘it’s not important who invented the system. The accounting system that they apply in the Soviet Union was also invented under capitalism.'[5]  

Guevara first travelled to the USSR in 1960. His deputy Orlando Borrego recalled that they visited an electronics factory which did accounts by abacus. Having studied the US-owned Cuban Electricity Company, Shell, Texaco and other corporations which used the latest IBM accounting machines, Guevara was struck by the backwardness of Soviet techniques. He believed that advances achieved by humanity should be adopted without fear of ideological contamination.

With the imposition of the US blockade, Cuba was forced to buy factories from the socialist countries, especially the USSR. This assistance was essential, but the relative backwardness of the equipment clashed with Guevara’s desire for advanced technology transfers. He did not criticise the Soviets for this backwardness per se. Rather, he complained about the contradiction between the high level of research and development in military technology and low investment applied to civilian production. He objected to their ideological resistance to appropriating advances made in the capitalist world. This was a costly mistake in terms of development and international competitiveness.[6] For example: ‘For a long time cybernetics was considered a reactionary science or pseudo-science… [but] it is a branch of science that exists and should be used’.[7] He added that in the US the application of cybernetics in industry had resulted in automation – an important productive development.

Basing a management system for socialist transition on capitalist technology was consistent with Marx’s stages theory of history, which predicted that communism would emerge from the fully developed capitalist mode of production. Marx showed how the tendency to concentration of capital, that is, to monopoly, was inherent in the system. Therefore, the monopoly form of capitalism was more advanced than ‘perfect competition’. The Soviet system originated from predominantly underdeveloped, pre-monopoly capitalism. A socialist economic management system emerging from monopoly capitalism could be more advanced, efficient and productive. The origin of the BFS was the multinational corporations of pre-1959 Cuba and it was therefore more progressive than the AFS which was adapted from pre-monopoly Russian capitalism.

Marx’s analysis of the law of value

While Guevara argued for the adoption of advanced technology he opposed the use of capitalist mechanisms to determine production and consumption. He challenged the Soviet’s reliance on capitalist categories to organise the socialist economy, particularly the operation of the law of value. The dispute about the law of value in transition economies is central to the question about the feasibility of constructing socialism in a country without a fully developed capitalist mode of production. It is integral to problems of accumulation, production, distribution and social relations. Communism implies a highly productive society in which conditions exist for distribution of the social product based on need, not surplus-generating labour time. However, the countries which have experimented with socialism have been underdeveloped, lacking the productive base for the material abundance implied by communism. The Soviet solution was to rely on the operation of the law of value to hasten the development of the productive forces, applying the profit motive, interest, credit, individual material incentives and elements of competition to promote efficiency and innovations. Guevara argued that these were not the only levers for fostering development. The BFS was the expression of his search for an apparatus to increase productive capacity and labour productivity without relying on capitalist mechanisms which undermine the formation of new consciousness and social relations integral to communism.

Between 1963 and 1965 these questions were examined in Cuba during the Great Debate on socialist transition. To the extent that commodity production and exchange through a market mechanism continued to exist after the Revolution in Cuba, it was clear to all participants in the Great Debate that the law of value continued to operate. The social product continued to be distributed on the basis of work done. However, the disagreements were about the conditions explaining the law’s survival, its sphere of operation, the extent to which it regulated production, how it related to the ‘plan’ and whether the law of value should be utilised or undermined, and if so, how. This discussion was linked to practical questions such as how enterprises should be organised, how workers should be paid and whether goods should be exchanged between state enterprises as commodities.

Guevara agreed that the law of value remained under socialism but argued that measures taken by the Revolution to undermine the capitalist market meant that the law could not serve as the dynamic catalyst to productivity and efficiency in the same way as it did under capitalism.[8] Socialisation of the means of production and distribution had ‘blunted’ the tools of capitalism.[9] Marx described a commodity as a good which changes ownership, from the producer to the consumer. Consistent with this definition, Guevara insisted that products transferred between state-owned enterprises did not constitute commodities because when they were transferred from one state factory to another there was no change in ownership. The state itself should be considered as one big enterprise.[10] For Guevara commodity-exchange relations between factories threatened transition, via ‘market socialism’, to capitalism. He stressed central planning and state regulation as substitutes to such mechanisms.

The Soviet’s argued that commodity production, the law of value, and money would disappear only when communism was achieved, but that to reach that stage it was necessary to use and develop the law of value as well as monetary and mercantile relationships. Guevara disagreed:

‘Why develop? We understand that the capitalist categories are retained for a time and that the length of this period cannot be predetermined, but the characteristics of the period of transition are those of a society that is throwing off its old bonds in order to move quickly into the new stage. The tendency should be, in our opinion, to eliminate as fast as possible the old categories, including the market, money, and, therefore, material interest – or, better, to eliminate the conditions for their existence.'[11]

For Guevara the task was not to use the law of value nor even hold it in check, but to define its sphere of operation and make inroads to undermine it – to work towards its abolition, not limitation. He developed many policies within the BFS to attempt just that.[12] In February 1964, Guevara concluded: ‘We deny the possibility of consciously using the law of value, basing our argument on the absence of a free market that automatically expresses the contradiction between producers and consumers… The law of value and planning are two terms linked by a contradiction and its resolution.'[13] For Guevara, centralised planning was the fundamental characteristic of socialist society. He conceded only: ‘the possibility of using elements of this law [of value] for comparative purposes (cost, “profit” expressed in monetary terms)’.[14]

The protagonists in Cuba were well-informed about the broader debate on incentives and financial autonomy contemporaneously underway in the eastern European socialist countries – a response to the problems of economic stagnation, low productivity and efficiency, particularly in comparison with economic growth in the developed capitalist world.  In July 1964 Guevara told colleagues that he had been reading analyses from the socialist bloc, including the resolutions of the 14th Congress of the Polish Communist Party: ‘The solution that they are proposing for these problems in Poland is the complete freedom of the law of value; that is to say, a return to capitalism.'[15] Commenting on the push to ‘liberalise’ the socialist economies Guevara said: ‘The theory is failing because they have forgotten Marx’.[16] Instead of Capital, the Soviet Manual of Political Economy had been turned into a bible.

Marx characterised the psychological or philosophical manifestation of capitalist social-relations as alienation and antagonism; the result of the commodification of labour and the operation of the law of value. For Guevara, the challenge was to replace the individuals’ alienation from the productive process, and the antagonism generated by class relations, with integration and solidarity, developing a collective attitude to production and the concept of work as a social duty. Capitalist competition created the drive to increase productivity through technological innovations and increasing exploitation. Alienation and antagonism increase with productivity. Under socialism, the development of the productive forces could be less accelerated, but it should be accompanied by a growth of consciousness. For Guevara, efforts to change consciousness must be incorporated into socialist transition at the earliest stage.

Critique on the Soviet Manual of Political Economy

In April 1965, Guevara left Cuba to lead a Cuban military mission in the Congo. The guerrillas were defeated and Guevara stayed in Tanzania and the Czech Republic between 1965 and 1966 where he began work on a comprehensive analysis of the political economy of socialist transition. In preparation for this work, Guevara took notes on the Soviet Manual, applying his theoretical arguments expounded in the Great Debate to that text. The notes were not written for publication, nor brought together as text. They were comments responding to specific paragraphs of the Manual; notes to himself, including indications of areas for further study.[17]  

Guevara criticised the Manual’s mechanistic adaptation of classical Marxist conceptions of class relations between the bourgeoisie and the working class, without considering the effects of imperialism which created a privileged working class in the advanced capitalist countries as well as beneficiary sectors in the exploited nations. He denounced as opportunism the Manual’s attempts to air-brush the inherent violence of class struggle integral to the transition from capitalism to socialism.

Turning to the period of transition, Guevara argued that the USSR’s Kolkhoz collective farm system was not a characteristic of socialism and that cooperatives were not a socialist form of ownership – they generated a capitalistic superstructure which clashed with state ownership and socialist social relations imposing their own logic over society. Guevara systematically refuted the so-called laws of socialism cited by the Manual, particularly the law of constant rising worker productivity – which he called an outrage: ‘It is the tendency that has driven capitalism for centuries.'[18]  He condemned as ‘dangerous’ the Soviet’s policy of peaceful co-existence and economic emulation with the advanced capitalist countries and pointed to serious disagreements between the socialist countries, blaming them on unequal exchange and the imposition of capitalist categories in trade relations.[19]

While declaring his daring, respect, admiration and revolutionary motives, Guevara announced that Lenin was the ultimate culprit because the New Economic Policy (NEP) which he had been forced to introduce in 1921 imposed a capitalist superstructure on the USSR. The NEP was not installed against small commodity production, Guevara stated, but at the demand of it. Small commodity production holds the seeds of capitalist development. He was certain that Lenin would have reversed the NEP had he lived longer. However, Lenin’s followers: ‘did not see the danger and it remained as the great Trojan horse of socialism, direct material interest as an economic lever.'[20] This capitalist superstructure became entrenched, influencing the relations of production and creating a hybrid system of socialism with capitalist elements that inevitably provoked conflicts and contradictions which were increasingly resolved in favour of the superstructure – capitalism was returning to the Soviet bloc.[21]

Guevara’s notes offer a profound criticism of Soviet political economy. He himself warned that some would misinterpret his proposed work as rabid anti-communism disguised as theoretical argument, but asserted that the inability of bourgeois economics to criticise itself, pointed out by Marx at the beginning of Capital, was seen in contemporary Marxism. He dedicated his work to Cuban students who go through the painful process of learning ‘eternal truths’ in eastern European manuals. He concluded that: Humanity faces many shocks before final liberation, but we cannot arrive there without a radical change in the strategy of the first most important socialist powers.[22]


This paper has summarised the analysis which led Guevara to forewarn the collapse of socialism in the socialist bloc. He made an important contribution to both the theory and practice of constructing socialism. He hoped to persuade socialist countries to gradually replace capitalist mechanisms during transition and offered alternative policies to serve this function. His warnings were not heeded and, for the reasons which Guevara predicted, among others, capitalism returned to all those countries. In Cuba, his analysis was revisited in the mid-1980s in the period known as Rectification which pulled the island away from the Soviet model before it collapsed, arguably contributing to the survival of Cuban socialism.


[1] Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, ‘Reunion Bimestrales’, 20 January 1962, in El Che en la Revolución Cubana: Ministerio de Industrias, tomo VI. La Habana: Ministerio de Azúcar, 1966, 147.

[2] Guevara, Apuntes Críticos a la Economía Política. La Habana: Ciencias Sociales, 2006, 27 & cited by Orlando Borrego in El Camino del Fuego, la Habana: Imagen Contemporánea, 382.

[3] This paper assumes knowledge of the laws governing the operation of the capitalist system expounded by Marx in Capital.

[4] Miguel Figueras, interview, 27 January 2006, Enrique Oltuski, interview, 15 February 2006 & Alfredo Menéndez, interview, 17 February 2005.

[5] Guevara, Bimestrales, 21 December 1963, 420.

[6] Guevara, Bimestrales, 14 July 1962, 289.

[7] Guevara, Bimestrales, 28 September 1962, 318-9.

[8] Guevara, ‘On the Concept of Value’ in Bertram Silverman (ed) Man and Socialism in Cuba: The Great Debate, New York: Atheneum, 234.

[9] Guevara, ‘Socialism and Man in Cuba’ in Silverman (ed) Socialism, 342.  

[10] Guevara, ‘On the Budgetary Finance System’, in Socialism, 143.

[11] Guevara, Budgetary, 42. Guevara’s italics.

[12] My book, Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution, details these policies.

[13] Guevara, Budgetary, 143.

[14] Guevara, ‘The Meaning of Socialist Planning’ in Socialism, 109.

[15] Guevara, Bimestrales, 11 July 1964, 505.

[16] Guevara, Bimestrales, December 1964, 566-9.

[17] First published in Havana, February 2006 as Apuntes, cited above.

[18] Guevara, Apuntes, 52.

[19] Guevara, Apuntes, 91-2, 185-6, 192-3.

[20] Guevara, Apuntes, 112.

[21] Guevara, Apuntes, 27.

[22] Guevara, Apuntes, 25-28 & Borrego, Camino, 381-383.


Che Guevara and the Political Economy of Socialism

Ernesto Che Guevara visiting the tractor factory in Brno, Czechoslovakia, October 27, 1960.

Rafael Martinez

Che Guevara is widely known to the world as the romantic-idealist revolutionary. The economic thought of Che Guevara has not really been widely publicised as the Argentinean born revolutionary is commonly known for his works on the guerrilla warfare, whose underlying idealist and voluntarist approaches to the struggle of the oppressed masses against capitalism and imperialism have been exposed and rejected altogether by the Marxist-Leninists. It is most appropriate, however, to pay special attention to Guevara’s economic works, as his contribution to the economic transformation of Cuba during the early stages of the revolutionary process was central and was highly criticised by the ideologists of modern revisionism, both within and outside the country.

Che participated in making up the agrarian reform law in 1959. In October 1959 he was appointed director of the Department of Industrialisation, which was created by INRA (Instituto Nacional de la Reforma Agraria or National Institute of the Agrarian Reform). At that time most of the industry was still in the hands of private owners. Guevara undertook the task of studying the economy of the island and establishing the guidelines of building up Cuban industry. According to Orlando Borrego, author of ‘Che el camino del fuego’ (Imagen Contemporanea, Havana 2001), the department started off without a single industry under its jurisdiction nor a ‘budget of its own to finance supplies, investments and other expenses’ to manage the few companies that passed to its jurisdiction later in the year. In November 1959 Guevara was appointed head of the National Bank, although he never stopped overseeing the work of the department of industrialisation to where he returned within the next year.

It is not till October 1960, when the Cuban Government decrees the immediate nationalisation of commercial and industrial enterprises including the sugar cane industry, that the Department of Industrialisation becomes a full-fledged body for the organisation of industrial production on a massive scale. His leadership in the Department of Industrialisation led Guevara to become the Cuban minister of industry in February 1961, which had the task to organise state industry following massive nationalisation.

At this point Guevara faces the challenging task to organise most of the country’s industrial production on the basis of an ill-defined (from the point of view of socialist construction) revolutionary process. Despite the success of the anti-imperialist struggle undertaken by the Cuban Revolution, its leadership lacked knowledge of the political economy of Marxism-Leninism. Che Guevara, without any doubt, is the member of the Cuban leadership who takes most seriously the study of political economy, which he did in parallel to all the administrative and organisational tasks that he was assigned by the Cuban Revolution. The study of Marxist political economy and the economic discussions that were triggered during the process of organisation of the Cuban industry become the central topic in Guevara’s life during the first half of the ‘60s. This period of exploration and creativity comes for the most part to an end when, in 1965 Che renounces his responsibilities as the Minister of Industry, following a heated economic debate, referred to by many as the ‘Great Debate’, which reached its climax in 1963-1964.

Strong divergences between the pro-Soviet economic line and Guevara’s plan of industrialisation brought to an end the participation of the Argentinean revolutionary in the internal affairs of the Cuban revolution. Guevara embarks on a ‘quixotic’ military campaign to aid and create revolutionary processes in Africa and Latin America, which concludes with his assassination in Bolivia, in 1967.

Castro remembers Che in a well-known speech given in 1987, in the midst of the so-called process of rectification, by denouncing a number of gross deformations in the economic life of the island and corruption of moral standards. Castro calls upon the population with an appeal of the highest moral standards embodied by the life of the great revolutionary, and admits to the negative consequences of departing from Che’s economic thought:

‘Che was radically opposed to using and developing capitalist economic laws and categories in building socialism. He advocated something that I have often insisted on: Building socialism and communism is not just a matter of producing and distributing wealth but is also a matter of education and consciousness’ (Fidel Castro in ‘Che Guevara, Economics and politics in the transition to socialism’, Pathfinder, New York, 2003, p. 39).

In the midst of open appeals to revive what many in Cuba call the ‘Che’s dream’ a lot of confusion is fostered about the interpretation and originality of Guevara’s economic thought. Twenty years after his assassination, Cuban scholars Fernando Martinez Heredia, and specially, Carlos Tablada, revived the discussions concerning Guevara’s contribution to the practice of socialist construction in Cuba and to the economic theory of the transitional epoch in general. Unfortunately, most scholars in Cuba consider Guevara’s economic thought in isolation from the theory of political economy of socialism developed before the revisionist political economy became widely accepted in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe in the 1960s.

Outside the country, efforts have been made to reconcile Guevara’s economic thought with Trotskyism and neo-Trotskyite tendencies. Neo-Trotskyite elements around the world, not without encouragement from within Cuba, try to portray Guevara’s economic thought as a reaction to the economic line imposed by the bureaucratic castes in the Soviet Union, by completely ignoring, more correctly suppressing, Guevara’s open support to Stalin in questions of the construction of socialism. It is silenced that Guevara quoted Stalin on multiple occasions in his economic works published in Cuba and the fact that the core of his economic theory, the budgetary finance system, bears strong similarities to the economic ‘model’ of development, which had become ‘standard’ in the former People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe during the post-war period up until Stalin’s death. Trotskyism, neo-Trotskyism and many in Cuba exacerbate Guevara’s idealist mistakes present in both his political and economic thoughts and turn Che into some sort of humanist socialist, who de facto suppressed the weight of the objective character of the economic laws of socialism in favour of a leading role of socialist education and consciousness (which, unfortunately, is true to a considerable degree).

Discussions about the controversial role of Che Guevara in the Cuban revolution during the early stages of the construction of the new economy have been revived in recent years. More and more unpublished documents are slowly coming to light. One of the most significant efforts developed in this direction is led by the Centro de Estudios Che Guevara, based in Havana and located in the house where Guevara and his family used to reside during the first half of the sixties. This association possesses direct access to Guevara’s personal library, which contains numerous volumes in which he used to make annotations. Ambitious plans have been revealed to publish nine volumes with materials covering numerous aspects of the political life of Che Guevara, which hopefully will throw important light on the evolution of Guevara’s thought as a Marxist.

One of the most enlightening documents published in recent years corresponds to a letter sent by Che, while based in Tanzania, to Armando Hart Dávalos on the need to publish in Cuba works on philosophy. The authenticity of this letter does not seem to be controversial as it was published in a Cuban journal and made available to the public. In this letter Guevara outlines a basic plan for the publication of texts in philosophy, subdivided into 8 groups:

In Cuba there is nothing published, if one excludes the Soviet bricks, which bring the inconvenience that they do not let you think; the party did it for you and you should digest it.

It would be necessary to publish the complete works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin [underlined by Che in the original] and other great Marxists.

Here would come to the great revisionists (if you want you can add here Khrushchev), well analyzed, more profoundly than any others and also your friend Trotsky, who existed and apparently wrote something (Che Guevara, Letter to Armando Hart Dávalos published in Contracorriente, Havana, September 1997, No. 9).

In the present article we will try to briefly cover the main elements of Guevara’s economic thought by means of establishing analogies with the Marxist-Leninist economic theory of the transitional society. Further, we will discuss the absurd allegations of Trotskyism that the Soviet revisionist leadership inflicted on Guevara. We will conclude with a brief exposition of what are, in our opinion the two major mistakes committed by Guevara in his economic works: idealism and mechanicism.

Budgetary System versus Financial Self-Management

At the centre of Guevara’s economic thought stands the budgetary system, which Che implemented in the enterprises organised by the ministry of industry between 1961 and 1964. The budgetary system is formulated by Guevara as a reaction against what had been established in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe under the system of economic accounting (usually referred by us as market-like economic accounting, in order to distinguish it from the more generic concept of economic accounting), which the followers of post-Stalin Soviet revisionism posed as a model of development in Cuba. It is within the context of the revision of the Marxist-Leninist principles of the political economy of socialism by the Soviet revisionist leadership that the study of Guevara’s budgetary system needs to be analysed and appreciated.

Despite strong elements of mechanicism and schematism inherent to Guevara’s presentation for a case in favour of the centralisation of industrial production and the establishment of forms of management and interrelations between individual producing subjects and the state, the budgetary system embodies the means, however primitive, which served the purpose for the application and success of the centralised planned principle of the economic development in a backward country. This is the rationale behind Guevara’s formulations, which represents in the main the basic prerequisite for a more or less rapid industrialisation of the island, which he considered to be the highest priority within the process of socialist construction.

Many in Cuba portray Guevara’s budgetary system elaborated for the specific conditions of Cuba, which in a sense Che ‘invents’ a particular model that suits his more or less utopian view of the transition to the socialist society. Thus Guevara’s thinking is studied in isolation from the historical epoch, which corresponds to the epoch of the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies. At most, Guevara’s economic thinking is viewed as an alternative to the ‘neo-Stalinist’ command-administrative system undertaken by the Soviet leadership. This view was revitalised in Cuba towards the end of the 1980s when the Soviet economy and the whole so-called ‘socialist’ system showed clear signs of decomposition. It is enlightening, however, to see that some leading economists in the island do admit that Guevara’s economic thought did not come out of the blue:

‘In retrospective, the budgetary system is a contribution of great value. We would not say – and you know it well – that Che invented the budgetary system. It already came from the socialist countries; in the Soviet Union for a period of time the budgetary system ruled many aspects of the economy’. (Carlos Rafael Rodriguez in ‘Che Guevara, Cuba and the Road to Socialism’, New York, 1991, pp. 39-30. Translated from Spanish.)

Needless to say Rodriguez refers to the socialist economic model developed under Stalin. Rodriguez, however, wrongly attributes to Guevara the view that in the transition to higher forms of socialism, or full socialism, the budgetary system could be applied to the entire economy; the entire economy could allegedly function as one big enterprise, with one social fund to meet the needs of production and distribution. Much to the contrary, Guevara formulates the budgetary system as a means to meet the immediate needs posed by the organisation of the State industry and, as will be seen in the next section, admits to the existence of commodity-money relations between the state and other production objects, hence he admits the existence of forms of production other than state owned.

The budgetary system is conceived by Che as an opposite of the model established in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe after Stalin’s death. Guevara exposes the basic differences between the budgetary system and the market-type of economic accounting or so-called financial self-management, as early as in 1961, i.e. the very early stages of the socialisation of industry in the country. Guevara’s thinking in favour of the centralisation of the State industry predates the ‘Great Economic debate’, and it is clear to us that Che had conceived the budgetary system long before he sees himself engulfed in a heated discussion with the numerous supporters of financial self-management in the island. We have every reason to believe that he was in some more or less systematic way acquainted with the history of the Soviet economy and the general elements of the socialist economy during Stalin’s times.

Guevara rejects from the very beginning the concept of free enterprise within the socialist sector, which is embodied by the ability of the individual economic subject to act as a more or less independent producer, since

‘…in the socialist countries, the enterprise possesses a bank credit, acquires money, produces with the money that it receives, sells its production, and then grants to the State part of the profit and part of this profit is preserved for internal needs. The difference is that our company does not sell, but delivers products and workers are awarded through the State’ (Che Guevara, Conference ‘Economy and Plan’ of the People’s University, 1961. Translated from Spanish.)

In Guevara’s system the enterprise does not sell, as the commodity-money becomes effective both in form and content only when the product is alienated by an independent producer or the individual consumer. Guevara understands the retribution of the worker in the socialist enterprise as an operation, in which in essence the socialist toiler establishes an employer-employee relationship with the socialist state, bypassing the enterprise. We believe he considers this relationship from the point of view of the essence of the labour relationship, as in reality this relationship has unavoidably to take the form of employment via the individual enterprise.

As opposed to the revisionist system of financial self-management, labour circulates among the individual enterprises of the state sector and between the enterprises and the State via the form of allocation or assignments according to contracts stipulated by the socialist plan:

‘To elaborate a budget through which the enterprise will be assigned necessary funds by the state to make effective contracts…; and also to transfer to public accounts the revenue from sales.’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Collective Discussion: Unique Decision and Responsibility’, p. 3. Translated from Spanish.)

In Guevara’s system the enterprise functions as an aggregate of a larger enterprise, which does not possess financial resources with which to make its own decisions in terms of production and reproduction. Since the socialist enterprise:

‘The company does not have resources of its own; therefore its income is transferred to the national budget’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 46. Translated from Spanish.)

Guevara is adamantly opposed to any form of exchange among socialist enterprises in the socialist sector other than allocation of resources. The circulation of labour within the socialised sector is viewed by Guevara as an aggregation of labour in a complex productive chain. In this system the enterprises are not able to establish labour exchange independently from the plan, since the entire productive activity of the enterprise is dictated by it. The state, in the form of the State Bank is the beginning and the end of labour flow concerning the productive activity of the socialist enterprise: it acquires the necessary financial means to acquire the means of production and it deposits the revenue in the Central Bank. These resources are then utilised by the socialist planning system to provide for extended reproduction of the individual productive unit, for capital investment or non-productive social needs. In this sense the enterprise does not extract profit per se; it transfers a positive balance between the production cost and the income and it is the socialist state which makes the final decision according to the plan as to the fate of this positive balance.

The concept of socialist planning in Guevara’s system is closely linked to the concept of profitability of the whole productive system. The effectiveness of the socialist economy is not the results of the mechanical summation of individual enterprises. A positive balance in the arithmetic sum of individual profits is possible in the capitalist system during times of expansion, although it becomes negative in times of recession. Regardless of the fact that the socialist productive system does not know recession or crises, the socialist productive system displays the greatest rates of growth not just because the arithmetic aggregation of individual profitability amounts to a positive balance. The advantage of the socialist mode of production over capitalism lies in the planned character of the economy, that the socialist state is in a position to decide at the scale of the whole productive system, not the coordination of individual producers but the regulation of labour flow among socialist enterprises. While it is of paramount importance that the productive unit be most profitable by means of maximum reduction of production costs, the efficiency of the economy needs to be assessed as a whole.

‘Since this system is based on the central control of the economy, the relative efficiency of an enterprise would become just an index; what really matters is the total profitability of the entire productive system’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 48. Translated from Spanish.)

This concept, which is a more complex concept with respect to the profitability of the individual enterprise, had been stated explicitly by Stalin in Economic Problems. In arguing against the right-wing deviationists, the only way to understand that certain sectors of the economy may function without profit or even producing losses over a certain period of time is to introduce a more complex concept of profitability of the whole socialist economy:

‘If profitableness is considered not from the standpoint of individual plants or industries, and not over a period of one year, but from the standpoint of the entire national economy and over a period of, say, ten or fifteen years,… then the temporary and unstable profitableness of some plants and industries is beneath all comparisons with that higher form of stable and permanent profitableness which we get from the operation of the law of balanced development of the national economy and from economic planning…’ (J.V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR,Foreign Language Publishing House, Moscow 1952, pp. 28-29.)

Many have been led to believe that the establishment of socialised planning in certain areas of the State-owned sector during the transitional economy is a dangerous utopia. The transition to NEP is commonly used as a historical example, which allegedly illustrates that socialised forms of organisation do not correspond to the economic conditions given in a backward, agricultural country. Much to the contrary, not only the implementation of market-like economic accounting in the State industry is a relatively short-lived phenomenon in the economic history of the Soviet Union, it was soon realised that the NEP-style approach could lead to catastrophic consequences if the market-like economic accounting were to be imposed on all the areas of the State sector. Since the first stages of the transition from the economy of War Communism to the liberalisation of the Soviet economy, the Soviet leadership expressed worries that Lenin’s plans for the industrialisation of the country would be jeopardised if market relations were to be made effective in all the State-owned sectors. Already in 1923, the XII Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) expressed ample concerns:

‘On the other hand, heavy industry, which has barely entered in contact with the market and which depends completely on State contracts, needs for its reconstruction large and well-calculated financial resources from the State. This also applies to a great degree to railway and sea transport.’ (Decisions of the Soviet Government on Economic Questions, Moscow 1957, Volume 1, p. 380. Translated from Russian.)

Despite what right-wing revisionism led many to believe, the Soviet government since the early stages of the NEP established a line of demarcation within the sectors I and II of the economy. While light industry displayed significant growth during the early stages of the liberalisation of the economy, mostly due to the revival of market relations, heavy industry showed little or no signs of flourishing under the conditions of market-style economic accounting. If the market-type economic accounting were to be imposed on heavy industry, if the Soviet plan, regardless of the level of development of the forces of production and the correlation of forces within the various sectors of the economy and the weight of non-socialist forms of production, were to deny heavy industry large long-term financial assistance for a sustained process of re-production, this sector would be forced into recession. The plans for the speedy industrialisation of a vast and backward (both technically and culturally) country would be doomed and with it collectivisation and socialist construction.

‘The interrelations between light and heavy industries cannot be resolved by means of the market, as this would threaten to liquidate heavy industry in the next few years; heavy industry could recover, but this time as a result of the anarchic development of the market and on the basis of private property. (Ibid. p. 382. Translated from Russian.)

The socialist law of development, according to which the industry of means of production should develop faster than light industry and agriculture, necessarily leads a more or less significant fraction of the forces of production owned by the socialist state to operate according to laws of labour distribution and organisation different from those inherited from the capitalist form of production. While market relations to a considerable degree were temporarily allowed by the NEP to regulate production and labour distribution among more or less disseminated and independent economic units in the State industry, the Soviet State was forced since the beginning to define the concretisation of this law of socialist production, in a sense breaking with NEP itself. The establishment of socialist planning on the basis of the socialised mode of production in certain sectors of the economy holds absolute character. This principle holds regardless of the level of development of the forces of production in the economy of the country in transition to socialism as a whole. The level of socialisation of the State sector does strongly depend upon the concrete-historical conditions of the country in transition. However, the State is bound since the very beginning to establish a socialist planned principle to operate in a direct, socialised way (not by means of the market) on certain sectors of the economy, primarily on the sector I. This is the basic principle of the transitional economy that Guevara tried his best to uphold by advocating the budgetary system, as a system opposed to the system of market-type economic accounting proposed by the followers of Soviet revisionism in the island.

As will be touched upon in more detail, Guevara’s economic thought, the budgetary system that he advocated is completely opposed to Trotsky’s concealed right-wing economic theories. Trotsky opposed since the early stages of NEP, all the way till the end of his political career the establishment of a genuine planned principle in certain sectors of the State sector, by advocating the absolute and universal character of NEP:

But the New Economic Policy does not flow solely from the interrelations between the city and the village. This policy is a necessary stage in the growth of state-owned industry. Between capitalism, under which the means of production are owned by private individuals and all economic relations are regulated by the market –I say, between capitalism and complete socialism, with its socially planned economy, there are a number of transitional stages; and the NEP is essentially one of these stages.

Let us analyze this question, taking the railways as a case in point. It is precisely railway transportation that provides a field which is prepared in the maximum degree for socialist economy… The railway lines, not only those privately owned, but also the state-owned lines, settled their accounts with all the other economic enterprises through the medium of the market. Under the particular system this was economically unavoidable and necessary because the equipment and development of a particular line depends upon how far it justifies itself economically. Whether a particular railway is beneficial to the economy can be ascertained only through the medium of the market.’ (L.D. Trotsky, ‘The First Five Years of the Communist International’, Volume 2, New Park Publications, London, 1953, pp. 233-4.)

Guevara’s budgetary system is the means for the industrialisation of Cuba. One of the fundamental principles of the socialist economy is based on the development of industrial production, mainly heavy industry, as the basis and engine of the development of the socialist economy. Imperialist domination is based upon the concentration of industry and technology in the hands of imperialist corporations. Exploited countries are deprived of the means and necessary knowledge to secure the development of labour productivity, a key element to sustained development of the forces of production.

In order to overcome economic backwardness and the relations of dependence on the imperialist countries, i.e. the ultimate goal of a genuine process of national-liberation, it is imperative to turn around the character of economic relations with the outside world. This implies a deep re-structuring of the economies, which for long years have been geared towards fitting the economic needs of the imperialist countries, and to turn these countries into self-sufficient and prosperous socialist industrial ones. Genuine independence, true anti-imperialism is no more than rhetorical statements without massive policies of socialist industrialisation, which is the material basis for long-term and sustained independence.

Over a hundred years of national liberation movements have taught us that the socialisation of the means of production, as opposed to half-measures disguised by pseudo-socialist phraseology, is the only way towards national independence. Here lies the essence of the internationalist policies of the Soviet State during the post-war period.

The economies of dependent countries, such as Cuba back in the 1950s, are based upon the extraction and the early stages of manufacturing of raw materials. The main source of revenue of Batista’s Cuba was the export of sugar, whose price in the international market was out of the control of the country and, as repeatedly pointed out by the leaders of the Cuban revolution, undershot the actual value.

The only possible way that economically and culturally backward countries can attain economic and sustained political independence, lies in the development of heavy industry, which is the only possible way to lay the foundations for sustained economic growth. This fundamental point of the socialist construction lies at the centre of attention of Guevara’s economic thought and to it he devoted most of his practical and theoretical efforts while remaining in office.

Commodity-Money Relations and the Law of Value

In this section we will briefly cover Guevara’s understanding of the role of commodity-money relations and the law of value in the socialist industry. At this point we lack written materials to throw light on his attitude towards the agrarian reform performed during the early stages of the Cuban revolution. His understanding of the collectivisation of the large mass of petty producers is also unknown to us, although we hope that in the near future archival materials may be made available to the public in Cuba.

As illustrated in the previous section, at the centre of Guevara’s economic thought stands the model of budgetary system. This system is intimately related to Guevara’s understanding of the role of plan, which, as discussed, fundamentally differs from that envisioned by right-wing revisionism in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe. Much to the contrary, it bears close resemblance to the conception of economic planning, which prevailed in the Soviet Union before Stalin’s death and stands in line with the economic policies that had become ‘standard’ in the former People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe in the period of 1948-1953.

Guevara’s attitude to the role of market categories and relations are consistent with his understanding of plan and are very close to Stalin’s formulations in Economic Problems. Guevara explicitly denies the need for commodity exchange between socialist enterprises and categorically denies the commodity character of the means of production. He supports the correct view that commodity exchange involves change of ownership. Commodity exchange between state enterprises is viewed by the Argentinean as a contradiction per se, since in the budgetary system the socialist enterprise is an organic element of a bigger enterprise, the State. Within this system the labour among enterprises does not adopt the form of commodity exchange. Means of production, financial resources are not owned by the socialist enterprise, as the latter lacks its own account and revenue is automatically deposited in a socialised account. In this system, the means of production are allocated to a given production unit according to the needs and future perspective of economic development and dictated by a centralised plan.

Guevara does not deny the existence of commodity production and the coexistence of different modes of production. He supports Stalin’s views that commodity relations are not inherent to the socialist sector but that their existence is due to the presence of different forms of property within the Cuban economy. As opposed to the Soviet Economy in Stalin’s time, the Cuban countryside had not undergone the process of collectivisation of the petty producer. In the concrete-historical situation of Cuba, the incipient socialist industrial sector had to coexist with a large mass of independent producers. However, this concrete-historical circumstance does not prevent the socialist sector, however small and poorly organized, to operate under a different regulator of production than that operating in the countryside. Guevara writes:

‘We believe that the partial existence of the law of value is due to the remnants of the market economy, which also manifests itself in the type of exchange between the State and the private consumer’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘On the Budgetary System’, p. 95. Translated from Spanish).

This statement is very close to Stalin’s well-known statement given in Economic Problems:

‘But the collective farms are unwilling to alienate their products except in the form of commodities, in exchange for which they desire to receive the commodities they need… Because of this, commodity production and trade are as much a necessity with us today as they were thirty years ago…’(J.V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1952, p. 19-20.)

In addition, as pointed out by Guevara, there remains the need for commodity-money bonds between the State and the private producer, as the worker in socialism still receives a significant fraction of the social fund for the satisfaction of individual needs in money terms. The exchange between the state and the individual producer is performed under the form of a commodity exchange, as

‘…this transfer occurs when the product leaves the state sector and it becomes property of an individual consumer’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 46. Translated from Spanish.)

With the socialisation of all the means of production and the liquidation of individual and collective forms of production, there would be no need for commodity-money exchange in socialism. As a matter of fact, the realisation of the socialist principle of distribution does not necessarily imply the existence of commodity-money relations, as a category of production. These views were ‘exposed’ and refuted by Soviet economists, who after a series of discussions re-wrote chapters in the Manual of Political Economy regarding the political economy of socialism.

Naturally, these views were also not shared by many economists in Cuba, as manifested in a more or less full-fledged controversial discussion during 1963-1964. For instance, Alberto Mora (Minister of Foreign Trade during that time) in 1963 openly attacked Guevara’s views, by comparing them with Stalin’s, which were published in Economic Problems. He rejected Guevara’s theses on the grounds that the most serious ‘scientific’ discussions held in the Soviet Union during the second half of the 1950s and early sixties indicated that Stalin’s views were wrong, that the law of value operates in socialism as a regulator of production, as the products in the socialist economy remain and will remain commodities all the way till communism:

‘When some comrades deny that the law of value operates in the relations among enterprises within the State sector, they argue that the entire State sector is under single ownership, that the enterprises are the property of the society. This, of course, is true. But as an economic criterion it is inaccurate. State property is not yet fully developed social property that will be achieved only under communism.’ (A. Mora, in ‘On the operation of the law of value in the Cuban Economy’, published in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 227).

The well-known Trotskyite economist, Ernest Mandel, who was very active during what he called the ‘Great Debate’ in Cuba, enters into a long-standing controversy with Charles Bettelheim, a French right-wing revisionist scholar. The latter also became active during the economic debate, this time as a fervent supporter of the ‘socialist-market’ conception advocated by the pro-Soviet economists in the island. Despite Mandel’s views that means of production in the socialist economy do not circulate as commodities, he is very keen on exposing Stalin’s views advocated by Guevara with regard to the causes of the law of value in the socialist sector. In the section of the ‘Historical conditions leading to the extinction of mercantile categories’ of a well-publicised article in Cuba, he states:

‘Although we have criticized several of comrade Bettelheim’s positions, we agree with him completely in rejecting Stalin’s theory that the basic reason for the mercantile categories in the Soviet economy is the existence of two forms of socialist property: ownership by the people (that is, the State) and ownership by more limited social groups (essentially the Kolkhozy)’. (E. Mandel, in ‘On the operation of the law of value in the Cuban Economy’, published in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 70.)

Mandel has an opinion of his own and does not need to refer to the Soviet pseudo-science to ‘expose’ Guevara’s ‘primitivism’. The author advocates that only the abundance of consumer goods, which are closely linked to the development of forces of production, will create the objective conditions for the abolition of commodity-money relations in the sphere of private consumption. Moreover, he seems to be proud that

‘The new program of the CPSU, approved by the XXII congress, incorporated this idea as set forth in our Traite d’Economie Marxiste’ (E. Mandel, in ‘On the operation of the law of value in the Cuban Economy’, published in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 71).

Guevara advocated the correct view that the law of value does not operate within the socialist sector as a regulator of production. He is able to grasp, unlike his detractors, a crucial element in the political economy of socialism:

‘We insist on the analysis of the cost, since part of our conception refers to the fact that it is not strictly necessary that cost of production and price coincide in the socialist sector’. (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 47. Translated from Spanish.)

Guevara understood that the price setting in the socialist sector, as a quantifier of the flow of labour circulating among different subjects of the state industry, does not necessarily have to coincide with the cost of production. If the labour exchange between different sectors of the socialist economy were to be governed by the exchange according to equal value, less profitable or even not profitable enterprises would not be able to survive and the process of extended reproduction of the socialist economy would be brought to its knees. If the law of value is forced to operate as a regulator of the proportions of labour exchanged between enterprises in the socialist sector it would not be possible to overcome the disproportions between sectors of the economy, which are inherited from capitalism, let alone colonialism and neo-colonialism. This consequently leads to a more complex concept of profitability of the socialist economy, which was touched upon in the previous section, which Stalin formulated in Economic Problems and which Guevara embraces wholeheartedly.

It is true that the abstract formulation that prices in the socialist sector do not necessarily correspond to the cost of production contains within itself a strong potential and it represents a serious step forward in the evolution of the understanding of political economy of socialism. This statement represents a tremendous step forward with respect to the theories of right-wing revisionism, which does not conceive labour exchange outside the boundaries of commodity-money relations. However, this statement does solve right away the most intricate problem of the political economy of socialism, which is to concretise what are the actual proportions of labour that correspond to the historical-concrete situation and the development of the forces of production and forms of management of a given country. This is a titanic task that needs to be resolved by the revolutionaries of a given country, which Guevara genuinely and with the best of his abilities tried to solve for the concrete conditions of Cuba.

Guevara is an advocate of the strictest economic accounting, for the same reasons that Stalin criticised many Soviet managers and plan making for neglecting the operation of the law of value as a strong instrument for economic accounting in socialism. Indeed, accounting in value terms proves a powerful tool to evaluate the effectiveness of the socialist enterprise, and this is most appreciated by Guevara:

‘The cost would yield an index of the management of the enterprise; it is irrelevant that these prices are higher or lower than the prices in the socialist sector, or even, in some isolated cases, than those prices used to sell the product to the people; what matters is the sustained analysis of the management of the enterprise…, which is determined by its success or failure to reduce costs’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 49. Translated from Spanish.)

At the end of the day, one of the fundamental goals of the enterprise in socialism as well as in communism

‘…reduces to a common denominator…: the increase of labour productivity as the fundamental basis for the construction of socialism and indispensable premise for communism.’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 51. Translated from Spanish.)

In Guevara’s budgetary finance system, money within the socialist enterprise is used primarily as means of calculation, as a strong algebraic tool for determining the effectiveness of the enterprise, the correctness of the use of the resources granted by the State to the enterprise, a means to determine if the enterprise is doing enough to reduce costs, etc… In his very important article, ‘About the Budgetary System’ he exposes one of the most prominent differences between his conception and the role given to money by the pro-Soviet economists in Cuba within the so called ‘Economic Accounting’ system:

‘Another difference is the way money is used; in our system money operates as arithmetic money, as a reflection, in prices, of the management of the enterprise, which the central organs will analyze in order to control the functioning of the latter.’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘About the Budgetary System’, p. 80 Translated from Spanish.)

Guevara’s views are consistent with the well-known exposure of Notkin’s ‘marketist’ views by Stalin:

Why, in that case, do we speak of the value of means of production, their cost of production, their price, etc.?

Firstly, this is needed for purposes of calculation and settlement, for determining that the enterprises are paying or running at a loss, for checking and controlling the enterprises. …’ (J.V. Stalin, op. cit, p. 58-59.)

As the economic discussion in Cuba progresses and the contradictions between Guevara’s line and the pro-Soviet economists (including Charles Bettelheim) on the one hand, and the Trotskyite elements in Cuba (Cuban nationals as well as foreigners) on the other, Che has unavoidably to clash with the economic conception advocated by the Soviet revisionists. Towards the end of this discussion, in 1964 Guevara expresses himself in a more and more explicit and eloquent way regarding the differences between his model and the ‘market-socialist’ type of development advocated by the revisionists. The exposition of the differences, which at first, in 1961 Guevara had put in rather mild, almost academic terms, turns controversial and bitter in 1964, leaving no doubt that the contradictions had become irreconcilable and that the Cuban leadership would have to take a stand sooner rather than later. Whether the Soviet revisionist leadership demanded Guevara’s removal from his posts in the economy of the island, as a pre-requisite to sustained economic aid, or whether his detractors in Cuba played a leading role in the events that followed the economic discussions, remains a matter of speculation. Regardless, it is clear to us that Guevara engages in an important theoretical debate till the very end and was never curbed by the overwhelming wave of criticism triggered by his writings, which he faced almost alone. In addition, we can only imagine how upsetting to pro-Soviet and Trotskyite elements in the island it would be to accept that the leading economist, a holder of a key command position in the Cuban economy, dares, not once, not twice, but at least three times that we are aware of, to cite and defend Stalin’s works as an authoritative reference against his opponents.

Che openly and in print criticises the revisionist manual of political economy published in the Soviet Union in the early sixties, with regards to the insistence of the Soviet revisionists on developing commodity-money relations in socialism, let alone the transition to socialism. After a series of gradual changes operated in the economic literature of the 1950s followed by crucial economic discussions held towards the end of that decade, the Soviet economists published a new manual of political economy under the editorship of a leading economist, Ostrovitianov. In this important document all the products in socialism are proclaimed to be commodities, including the means of production (with the utterly inconsistent exemption of labour force), and the law of value, which is used in a conscious way by the socialist plan, operates as the regulator of proportions of labour among enterprises, whether state owned or cooperatives.

As opposed to Stalin’s plans for the gradual shrinkage of the sphere of operation of the commodity-money relations and categories, the Soviet revisionists envisioned a plan to further enhance the role of these in the economy and to provide the enterprises with more independence. The operation of the law of value will disappear only when the highest stage of communism is accomplished in a more or less distant future. Guevara rebels against the new theses advocated by the Soviet revisionist economists by rejecting altogether the plans for developing commodity-money relations in socialism, which are treated by us as a departure from the political economy of socialism developed by Lenin and Stalin:

‘Why develop? We understand that the capitalist categories are retained for a time and that the length of this period cannot be predetermined, but the characteristics of the period of transition are those of a society that is throwing off its old bonds in order to move quickly into the new stage.

The tendency should be, in our opinion, to eliminate as fast as possible the old categories, including the market, and, therefore, material interest – or better, to eliminate the conditions of their existence’ (Che Guevara, in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 142).

It is unfortunate, however, that Che’s reasoning is plagued with idealist assertions, according to which commodity-money relations allegedly embody within themselves the ideological burden of the capitalist society. As will be touched upon the next section, Guevara equates to a great extent commodity-money relations and categories with the concept of material incentive, which he understands as a mechanism aimed at motivating and enhancing labour productivity by the same means as used in capitalism. Material incentive and consciousness appear in Guevara’s thought as two poles of one of the main (if not the most relevant) contradiction in the process of socialist construction.

Guevara should not be accused of a left-wing attitude with regard to the role of commodity-money relations in socialism. Nowhere in Che’s writings can one find appeals to implement the policies of war communism in the Cuban economy. Much to the contrary, he is aware of the need to retain commodity-money relations for an undetermined period, as a result of the presence of a large mass of individual producers. Despite glaring idealist elements in Guevara’s thought we need to give him credit for identifying correctly the sphere of application of commodity-money relations and the fundamental reasons leading to the inevitability of the latter in the socialist transition in general and in the Cuban revolutionary process, in particular. In summarising the increasing contradictions between the line of thought and the economic reforms accomplished under his office, and the push for market relations advocated by the ‘marketists’ in Cuba Guevara states:

‘We deny the possibility of consciously using the law of value, in the conditions that a free market does not exist, which expresses directly the contradiction between producers and consumers; we deny the existence of the commodity category in the relation among state enterprises and we regard them as part of one big enterprise, the State (although in practice it does not happen yet in our country).’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘On the Budgetary System’, p. 96. Translated from Spanish.)

When Guevara admits to the fact that the state sector in Cuba does not function as a ‘one big enterprise’ he is most likely referring to the coexistence of the Ministry of Industry, the INRA and the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the latter two lead by Carlos Rafael Rodriguez and Alberto Mora, respectively, both rabid ‘market-socialists’. The latter had expressed their disagreement with Guevara’s plans for industrialisation of the island based on the argumentation that Cuba was not prepared for forms of economic relations consistent with developed stages of socialisation of the labour process. Rodriguez states as late as in 1988:

‘The budgetary system is closer to the future society… this system requires conditions that we will not be able to achieve in a long time’ (Carlos Rafael Rodriguez in Che Guevara, Cuba y el camino al socialismo, New International, New York, 2000, p. 42. Translated from Spanish.)

By arguing that Cuba was never (not even after 30 years of revolution) ready for higher forms of exchange between state enterprises, Rodriguez openly polemicises in 1988, as he used to do 25 years before, with Che’s assertion that products exchanged between state enterprises do not adopt the form of commodities.

Guevara to the very end sticks to his conception that the commodity-money relations are not inherent to the socialist economy, and especially to the socialised sector, which he tried so hard to build up since the very early stages of the Cuban revolution. Market relations come about as a result of the presence of important remnants of private producers and they are bound to disappear with them (both in form and content). Even though, Guevara refrains (to the best of our rather sketchy and fragmental knowledge of the evolution of Guevara’s thinking) from referring openly to his opinion with regards to the plans of collectivising the private producer, we believe that he would have advocated for a ‘Soviet-style’ type of bond between the socialised sector and the collective farms. As an advocate of retaining the main means of production outside the operation of commodity-money relations (i.e. means of production are not treated as commodities in content, regardless of the need to use value categories to assess the amount of labour involved in them), it seems natural that Guevara would have envisioned a concept pretty much like the machine tractor stations, as a main factor for the increase of labour productivity. We believe this statement is substantiated since the rational core of Guevara’s economic thought, despite strong elements of idealism and mechanicism, remains very close to the economic forms adopted in the Soviet Union under Stalin, which had become standard and were successfully applied with whatever modifications in the countries of People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe between the end of the 1940s and Stalin’s death. We have every reason to believe that Guevara was to a certain extent acquainted with Stalin’s Economic Problems and the basic differences of principle between the so-called Stalin model and the model of ‘market-socialism’ advocated by Rodriguez, Mora et al. in Cuba.

In probably his last article ‘Man and Socialism in Cuba’ a letter addressed to Carlos Quijano, editor-publisher of the Uruguayan weekly Marcha, written in early 1965, Guevara reiterates his position once more, leaving us no doubt that he stood for his principles till the very end.

‘Pursuing the chimera of achieving socialism with the aid of blunted weapons left to us by capitalism (the commodity as the economic cell, profitability, and individual material interests as levers, etc.) it is possible to come to a blind alley’ (Che Guevara, in Man and Socialism in Cuba,Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 342).

Unfortunately, Guevara does not give up certain elements of idealism that make his economic thought so distinct as well as vulnerable and inconsistent. This side of Guevara’s economic thought has been publicised the most both in Cuba by his detractors and outside Cuba by Trotskyism and neo-Trotskyism. The clear connection between a significant number of Guevara’s statements on political economy and the so-called ‘Stalinist’ model of socialist construction is very much silenced. Che’s writing are twisted by picturing his economic thought as a continuation of his idealist and voluntarist stand in questions regarding the interrelation between the masses, the party and the guerrilla warfare, for which he is most commonly known.

On Guevara’s Alleged Trotskyism

Guevara soon entered into conflict with the Soviet revisionist leadership. As we have seen above, Che acknowledges differences of principle, as early as 1961, between the economic model established in what he used to call socialist countries, and the plans for industrialisation he was advocating. Guevara’s economic reforms were bound to clash with the character of the agrarian reform and the plans suggested by the Soviet Union that Cuba was to remain primarily a sugar cane producer for longer than anticipated by Che. As the character of the Cuban revolution consolidated and the Cuban leadership accommodated to the economic relations between the island and the Soviet Union, it was necessary that Cuban economists align with the new political economy created by the revisionists.

Guevara’s plans soon met glaring resistance within Cuba. Due to the worsening of Guevara’s relations with the Soviet leadership, many in Cuba felt a great deal of embarrassment. According to several of Guevara’s biographers, the Soviets accused Che’s economic views of Trotskyism. It was just a matter of time before Che is to leave his post of Minister of Industry and that his plans for industrialisation of the island are to be revised in favour development based on the sugar cane industry.

Trotsky is usually portrayed as a ‘radical left-wing’, as an advocate of extreme measures with regard to resolution of contradictions both in politics and economics. Trotsky’s alleged push for the militarisation of the economy has led many to believe that Trotskyite economic theories are opposed to the politics of the New Economic Policy (NEP) with regard not only to the relations between the individual producer and the state sector but also with regard to the liberalisation of the state sector. In this section we will try to substantiate the fact, that Trotsky’s economic theory cannot be classified as left-wing; much to the contrary, it does not deviate significantly from the right-wing revisionism in questions of socialist construction and the role of commodity-money relations during that period.

The myth about Trotsky’s alleged leftist stand in resolving contradictions in the transitional period, conceals the true essence of Trotskyism in economic questions. Guevara’s economic thought has nothing to with Trotsky’s attitude to commodity-money relations and categories in the transitional period; their views are completely opposed to each other. Such allegations with regards to Guevara’s economic thought are unfounded and preposterous, to say the very least. As covered above, Guevara’s economic thought does suffer from serious elements of mechanicism, which does not make him a Trotskyite, as such mistakes were common to many economists in the Soviet Union during the Stalin period.

It is very interesting to observe how the Russian bourgeoisie is willing to appreciate in Trotsky the ‘virtues’ of a ‘market-socialist’, which many in the left movement do not seem to be able to grasp. To commemorate the 125th anniversary of Trotsky’s birth, a leading economic journal, Voprosi ekonomiki (‘Questions of Economy’) published an article under the title ‘Economic views of L.D. Trotsky’. In this article the authors attribute Trotsky’s heavy-handedness during the revolution and the civil war to the historical circumstances of that time, that in fact Trotsky had become one of the first to push for the liquidation of the policies of war communism and the liberalisation of the economy by allowing several forms of property to coexist for an indefinite period of time. The authors draw the bourgeois reader’s attention to Trotsky’s true and poorly publicised merit as being one of the first to advocate a mixed economic model for the transition to socialism:

‘The transition to NEP significantly changed Trotsky’s economic views. In a number of his works during that time he agitates in favour of the development of market relations, material stimulation, the understanding of the plan, as rigorous management in the sense of foreseeing and synchronising various sectors of social production. During the period of NEP Trotsky formulated a number of very important, even original ideas, namely: about the incompatibility of the methods of war communism in the conditions of NEP, about the need for each enterprise to have its own accounting balance, about the objective limitations to transferring resources from the agrarian sector to industry…’ (M. Voeikov and S. Dzarasov, ‘Economic Views of L.D. Trotsky’ in Voprosi Ekonomiki No. 11, 2004, p. 152).

Trotskyite economic doctrine seriously overlaps with Bogdanovism/Bukharinism in the understanding of the essence of the plan. Trotsky, in his renowned work ‘The Soviet Economy in Danger’, written in late 1932, starts off by equating one of the economic laws of the socialist economy and the transition to socialism, the planning principle with preconceived harmony of economic proportions:

‘However, light-minded assertions to the effect that the USSR has already entered into socialism are criminal. The achievements are great. But there still remains a very long and arduous road to actual victory over economic anarchy, to the surmounting of disproportions, to the guarantee of the harmonious character of economic life.’ (The Soviet Economy in Danger, in ’Writings of Leon Trotsky 1932’, Pathfinder Press, New York, 1973, p. 260. Our emphasis.)

The famous and infamous principle of equilibrium and harmony of the proportions of labour in the socialist economy is advocated by Trotsky in a rather unambiguous way. Within the eclectic framework of Trotskyism, centralisation of the economic policy alters the abstract principle of harmony of the economic processes. Trotsky, in his attempt to oppose the transition of the Soviet economy towards higher forms of economic organisation, comes around as a full-fledged right-wing revisionist, adding no more substance to the right wing opposition led by Bukharin/Rykov.

‘It is impossible to create a priori a complete system of economic harmony. The planning hypothesis could not but include old disproportions and the inevitability of the development of new ones. Centralized management implies not only great advantages but also the danger of centralizing mistakes, that is, of elevating them to an excessively high degree. Only continuous regulation of the plan in the process of its fulfillment, its reconstruction in part and as a whole, can guarantee its economic effectiveness’ (loc. cit.).

Trotsky’s ‘continuous regulation’ is the back door to substantiating his rebuff of the party’s line to shrink the operation of the commodity-money relations in the economy, which leads to the liquidation of capitalist exploitation in the country and the consolidation of the socialist economic laws. Once opponents, Bukharin and Trotsky converged into Bogdanovism as the construction of socialism progressed in the Soviet Union.

When Trotsky appeals to the impossibility ‘to create a priori a complete system of economic harmony’ it is implied that the central economic organs, are not in a position to undertake the tasks of centralised economic management, regardless of the development of the forces of production and the socialisation of the means of production. Deformations of the socialist economy inevitably take place as centralised decision-making overpowers workers’ democracy and a caste of administrators takes over as a ‘communist bureaucracy’. Once more, the objective character of the economic laws in general and the economic laws of socialism in particular, is overruled and loses its raison d’etre in the economic thinking of right-wing revisionism. Instead, Trotsky, as a poorly concealed right-wing revisionist, appeals on and on to the need for establishing harmony between the different branches of the socialist economy, which lies at the basis of his political economy.

Trotsky’s Bogdanovism is not a phenomenon of the 1930s; much to the contrary, it is inherent to his economic thinking from the very early stages of economic reforms in Soviet Russia. In summarising the developments in Soviet Russia since the victory of the October revolution, Trotsky states that the period of war communism had to end in order to restore equilibrium in labour exchange between the peasantry and the working class and between branches of the state sector, as:

‘Every economy can exist and grow only provided certain proportionality exists between its various sectors. Different branches of industry enter into specific quantitative and qualitative relations with one another. There must be a certain proportion between those branches which produce consumer goods and those which produce the means of production. Proper proportions must likewise be preserved within each of these branches. In other words, the material means and living labor power of a nation and of all mankind must be apportioned in accordance with a certain correlation of agriculture and industry and of the various branches of industry so as to enable mankind to exist and progress.’ (L.D. Trotsky, ‘The First Five Years of the Communist International’, Volume 2, New Park Publications, London, 1953, pp. 228.)

The postulate about proportionality of portions of labour among branches of the economy was conceived as a general, non-historic law that would apply to all economic systems. Marx’s considerations about the need for the establishment of certain proportions in which labour is exchanged in every economic system, and revised in a mechanical fashion by Bogdanov/Bukharin had a simple consequence in practice: the application of the law of value as a regulator of production was to be perpetuated in the socialist economy under the abstract consideration about the need for proportionality. This abstract concept is shared by Bukharin and Trotsky:

‘The problem of the proportionality of the elements of production and the branches of the economy constitutes the very heart of socialist economy’. (The Soviet Economy in Danger, p. 265.)

The ultimate goal of right-wing revisionism in questions concerning the transition to socialism is to provide every possible ideological means to perpetuate the economic relations of capitalism and to undermine the process of socialisation of the relations of production. In doing so, right-wing revisionism creates eclectic forms, Trojan horses in political economy. The postulate about the need of proportionality proved a euphemistic attack against the party line to curtail the operation of the law of value in the socialist sector and capitalist exploitation in the Soviet economy. By appealing to an abstract concept of proportionality without, leaving its concretisation as a loose end in the economic thinking, naturally leads to the perpetuation of relations of production existing hitherto. Abstract formulations in general, and in political economy in particular, without a concretisation within the concrete-historical framework inevitably render hollow abstractions, double-edged swords in the hands of revisionism.

Certainly, Trotsky casts out his disguise of a left-wing revisionist by bluntly stating:

‘The innumerable living participants in the economy, state and private, collective and individual, must serve notice of their needs and of their relative strength not only through the statistical determinations of plan commissions but by the direct pressure of supply and demand. The plan is checked and, to a considerable degree, realized through the market.’ (The Soviet Economy in Danger, p. 275. Our emphasis.)

Here, Trotsky makes an open appeal to the implementation of market relations as the ‘judge’ of the correctness or effectiveness of the economic policies developed by the plan makers. In other words, in the transitional economy the market is the beginning and the end of the economic system, the medium in which the struggle between the planned and market principles evolves into higher forms of development. It is within the market and according to the rules of the market that the superiority of the socialisation of the means of production is supposed to be put to the test. At some point in time the capitalist and petty bourgeois forms of productions will collapse under the inevitable overwhelming economic pressure of the socialised sector, at the time when it is able to develop higher forms of labour productivity. Trotsky, as a vulgar right-wing economist, therefore stands against what had been usually referred to by them as extra-economic measures to suppress the market principle in the economy, advocating instead a gradualist approach to the resolution of the contradictions between the socialist and other economic forms.

Trotsky’s economic thought is plagued with metaphysics; the metaphysical division of the economic system of the transitional society into the planned system and the market system holds a prominent place in the economic works of Trotskyism. This anti-dialectical approach to the economic processes had been already exposed in the mid 1920s in the Soviet Union by the majority of the party, including Bukharin/Rykov. But despite these differences, the left-wing and right-wing opposition agreed on the main proposition: let the market be the regulator of the labour exchange not only between industry and the countryside, but within the economic subjects of the socialist sector.

The idealist, metaphysical and non-historic postulate of proportionality of the elements of production is at the basis of the right-wing theories of Trotsky/Bukharin and gives them a certain semblance of self-consistency. The market represents the realm where the law of value, which is the concretisation of the postulate of proportionality, regulates the flow of labour among economic subjects, whether socialised or not. Needless to say, Trotsky is not the first to concretise the postulate of proportionality, which he had recently embraced, nor he was the first to establish such a line of thought. The appeal to preserve the commodity-money relations in the form that existed during NEP clearly predates Trotsky’s assertions about the need for proportionality. While we have to give credit to Bogdanov/Bukharin for their pioneering work in the descending line of modern revisionism, Trotsky does not deserve such an honour, as his contribution does not go beyond popularising the vulgar political economy of right-wing revisionism.

Apart from the metaphysical as well as mechanical idiosyncrasy of Trotskyite thought, which does not deserve to be the main topic of the present discussion, it is useful to bring out quotations like the following:

‘In this connection three systems must be subjected to a brief analysis: (1) special state departments, that is, the hierarchical system of plan commissions, in the center and locally; (2) trade, as a system of market regulation; (3) Soviet democracy, as a system for the living regulation by the masses of the structure of the economy.(The Soviet Economy in Danger, p. 273. Our emphasis.)

Far from sticking to left-wing orthodoxy, Trotsky sounds more like a Yugoslav Titoite, more like a pro-Western market liberal than anything else.

Trotsky takes a right-wing stand with regard to the role of NEP in the transition to socialism. Despite earlier attacks on the party to strengthen and develop further the economic and political link between the working class and the peasantry, Trotsky turns into a fervent advocate of the early forms of the transition to socialism adopted by the party. Moreover, he accuses the latter of liquidating the union between the working class and the peasantry. As a vulgar ‘market-socialist’, Trotsky considers the NEP as an inevitable step due to the significant weight of petty private production in the countryside, regardless of the concrete-historical conditions of revolutionary Russia:

‘The need to introduce the NEP, to restore market relationships, was determined first of all by the existence of 25 million independent peasant proprietors. This does not mean, however, that collectivization even in its first stage leads to the liquidation of the market.’ (The Soviet Economy in Danger, p. 275.)

The need for a transition to market relations between industry and the peasantry holds absolute character. According to Trotsky, due to the backwardness of the Russian peasantry and the level of mechanisation of labour in the countryside, the only possible form of peasant production with other producers is inevitably commodity-money relations. Trotsky’s mechanical and metaphysical thinking does not conceive of the socialist state and the individual peasant engaging in other forms of exchange, as well. Trotsky views the process of collectivisation as a forced administrative measure to unnaturally suppress the commodity-money bond between the city and the countryside. It is only through the evolution of the market, that certain conditions are created that the peasant feels it is more profitable to produce as a member of a larger production unit rather than remaining an individual producer. Hence it is believed that collectivisation should be performed by the forces of the market, that the market will suppress itself in a natural way.

Trotsky’s inevitability of market relations as the dominating bond between production agents during the transition to socialism does not reduce only to the interrelations between industry and the peasantry, much to the contrary:

‘This policy [NEP, our note] is a necessary stage in the growth of state-owned industry. Between capitalism, under which the means of production are owned by private individuals and all economic relations are regulated by the market – I say, between capitalism and complete socialism, with its socially planned economy, there are a number of transitional stages; and the NEP is essentially one of these stages’ (L.D. Trotsky, ‘The First Five Years of the Communist International’, Volume 2, New Park Publications, London, 1953, pp. 233).

NEP involved far more than the realisation of peasant production in a free market and the establishment of economic ties between the countryside and industry based on supply-demand. Never mind the cohabitation of the socialist sector with state capitalism and petty capitalist exploitation in both the countryside and the city; NEP introduced broad pro-market reforms within the socialist sector based on commercial accounting. It is true, however, that the expansion of commodity-money relations was seriously curtailed in the socialist sector in the second half of the twenties, which Trotsky viewed as a bureaucratic-administrative attack on the principles upon which Lenin allegedly conceived the path to socialist construction. It is here, where Guevara rebels against right-wing revisionism by advocating the right of the socialist state to determine the character of the relations of production and to regulate the proportions of labour exchange between branches of the state sector according to the global needs of the socialist state rather than the profitability of individual enterprises.

Much against Guevara’s views, Trotsky during the very early stages of NEP, during the transition from ‘war communism’ advocated the de-centralisation of the state sector:

‘The policy of a centralized bureaucratic management of industry excluded the possibility of a genuine centralized management, of fully utilizing technical equipment along with the available labor force.’ (L.D. Trotsky, ‘The First Five Years of the Communist International’, Volume 2, New Park Publications, London, 1953, pp. 230.)

As a result of the efforts to de-centralise state industry in 1921, especially light industry, as advocated by Trotsky, negative effects were felt soon, such as:

‘…violation of plan discipline, separatism; some state officials tried to replace the state plan organisation – VSNKh – by some ‘social organization of industry’’ (P.I. Lyashchenko, History of the People’s Economy of the USSR, Moscow 1956, Volume III, p. 153. Translated from Russian.)

Guevara supported the correct view that economic calculation does not necessarily imply market relations as factors determining production in the state sector, that economic accounting is not necessarily tied to commodity-money relations, as advocated by the supporters of the Soviet-style model in Cuba. Trotsky takes sides with Soviet revisionism:

After the administrative suppression of the NEP, the celebrated ‘six conditions of Stalin’ – economic accounting, piecework wages, etc. – became transformed into an empty collection of words. Economic accounting is unthinkable without market relations.” (The Soviet Economy in Danger,p. 276. Our emphasis.)

The history of the political economy of socialism has exposed the intimate link between the postulate of proportionality in the exchange of labour among different branches of the economy and the mechanical transportation of market relations to socialism. Metaphysics and mechanicism, common to the economic thought of right-wing revisionism, are closely interrelated with vulgar and superficial understanding of economic categories, which impels the ideologists of right-wing revisionism to equate exchange to commodity exchange and economic equilibrium to the operation of the law of value. The vulgar economic thought advocated by Trotsky and the right-wing opposition does not conceive another form of economic exchange other than commodity-money relations. It is not conceivable that the socialist state could establish a different content in the economic ties among objects of the socialist economy, which may violate the rigid principle of profitability of the individual enterprise. The ability of the planning bodies to establish labour exchange among socialist enterprises, which violates that principle, is viewed as a deformation, as a disproportion. Right-wing revisionism is unable to grasp and appreciate the great power in the hands of socialist planning to establish certain proportions of labour exchange that fit the needs and growth perspectives of the socialist economy, regardless of the overall level of socialisation of economy. In this sense, right-wing economists conceive the plan as a corollary of subjective (aprioristic, according to Trotsky) measures to organise, rationalise the labour exchange among profit-making individual enterprises. Guevara wholeheartedly rejects such a vulgar view of the plan, by advocating the right of the socialist planning to establish a different character of economic relations among the state enterprises, which does not necessarily follow the principle of profitability of the individual enterprise as the leading criterion for economic effectiveness.

Guevara openly exposed the view advocated by Trotsky and the ideologists of modern revisionism that economic accounting ‘is unthinkable’ without commodity money relations. Much to the contrary, Che advocated strict accounting, based on centralised responsibility and accountability of the management of the socialist enterprise, as a key element of the budgetary finance system, which lies at the centre of this economic thought. In his economic system economic accounting in the socialist sector is dissociated from the essence carried by commodity-money relations. Even though Guevara does not seem to grasp the dialectical evolution of market categories in socialism, his thought contains the basic elements to arrive at this understanding. Guevara’s accepts the correct view that the price, despite being a category inherited from the market economy, may be used within the socialist sector for calculation purposes. Hence, he does not reject the use of the form of market categories, which brings him closer to the Marxist-Leninist understanding developed by Lenin-Stalin. On the other hand, it is not clear to us that Guevara understood the evolution of the principle of economic accounting, which was introduced in 1921, through the NEP all the way to the massive collectivisation and the consolidation of the economic basis of socialism in the 1930s, all the way to the publication of Stalin’s Economic Problems. An analysis of the category of economic accounting shows that a deep change in the content had taken place which, despite the fact that the term was in use in the 1930-50s, reflected a different type of management to which Guevara’s budgetary system bears strong resemblance.

According to Tablada and Borrego, Che Guevara paid special attention to the analysis of the causes which led to the abolition of the war economy and the establishment of NEP. This issue is covered on multiple occasions in their books and has been the topic of a great deal of speculation, including allegations that Guevara accused Lenin of going too far in the development of market relations during the early stages of the NEP. Regardless of speculations, Che makes a strong case out of Lenin’s statements, in which NEP is considered as a retreat in the practice of the revolutionary process like the peace of Brest-Litovsk. It is evident, despite the wealth of confusion fostered by Guevara’s bourgeois, Trotskyite and neo-Trotskyite biographers, that Guevara does not consider NEP as an inevitable step in the transition to socialism, as a general and universal statement, but rather, a product of the historical-concrete conditions of revolutionary Russia. After quoting Marx, Lenin and Stalin (this article was written in 1964, when anti-Stalinism was already solidly established in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe, with the exception of Albania), Guevara concludes:

‘As we see, the retreat that Lenin mentioned was due to the economic and political situation of the Soviet Union. These policies may be characterised as a practice, which is closely linked to the historical situation of the country, and, therefore, they do not hold universal character.’ (Che Guevara, ‘Che y la Economia’, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, Habana, Cuba 1993, p. 74. Translated from Spanish.)

The argumentation in favour of NEP-type of economic reforms as an unavoidable step in the transition process between capitalism and socialism is a fundamental element of the economic theory of right-wing revisionism, including Trotskyism, which Guevara rejected altogether. A historical example, which refutes NEP as a compulsory stage for new revolutionary states, is served by the first steps adopted by the People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe between 1948 and 1953. The governments of the People’s Democracies set an economic course based on the priority of heavy industry over other sectors of the economy. The policies of what bourgeois ideologists called the Stalinist economic model resulted in a spectacular growth of the socialist industry, a conditio sine qua non for a massive process of socialisation of means of production both in the city and the countryside. Even a vicious anti-communist publicist, such as F. Fejto, a Hungarian-born journalist based for a long time in France, admits:

‘Between 1949 and 1953, the industrial production of the six Comecon countries rose by 114 per cent, and in certain countries, like Hungary, where the ambitious planners knew no limits the results had been even more spectacular. Heavy industrial production increased fivefold; the engineering industry was seven times more productive in 1953 than in 1938. (F. Fejto, A History of the People’s Democracies, Penguin Books, 1977, p. 362.)

Further, Fejto elaborates on the very interesting case of the transition to socialism in Hungary, especially the events that followed the abrupt change of ‘gears’ imposed by the Soviet leadership weeks after the death of Stalin. In 1949 Hungary’s party, led by Matyas Rakosi, one of the most fervent supporters of Stalin’s policies, launched a campaign of collectivisation, which, although far from finalised, was well underway towards 1953. With Stalin’s death a swift change in the character of the Soviet leadership took place. The new Soviet leadership, at first initiated most likely by Beria, imposed on the leaders of the fraternal parties in Eastern Europe a line of forcible de-Stalinisation. The revisionist leadership ordered Eastern European leaders to slow down the tempo of industrialisation and to basically liquidate the process of ‘forcible’ collectivisation. In a number of countries, peasants were allowed to desert the collective farms (‘de-collectivisation’) if they wished to; private exploitation of land together with the restoration of the artisan class and private business. It was argued that the ‘Stalinist’ economic reforms had gone too far, that allegedly broad masses of the peasantry and the working class in those countries were frustrated at seeing that the unquestionable economic growth did not result in meaningful enhancement of the standards of living of the population, including that of the working class. There is no question that the ideological and organisational chaos induced by the policies of forcible ‘de-Stalinisation’ encouraged anti-communist elements within the middle classes, petty bourgeoisie and workers aristocracy to demonstrate compulsively, while entire party organisations proved hopeless, in disarray.

The Hungarian leader, Matyas Rakosi, did his best to stand up against Soviet revisionism and its supporters in the country; he succeeded in remaining in office till July 1956, when he was basically forced into exile by the Soviet leadership. Following orders from the Soviet revisionist leadership, in July 1953 Rakosi was forced to give up the post of Prime Minister, which passed to Imre Nagy, who even in the words of Fejto:

‘…revived Bukharinist ideas that had gone underground in Stalin’s lifetime’ (F. Fejto, A History of the People’s Democracies, Penguin Books, 1977, p. 363).

Certainly, Nagy was a fervent advocate of NEP-style treatment of the economic contradictions between the socialist sector, the peasantry and other petty producers. Soon after he gains office in July 1953, he launches a set of ‘liberalising’ measures, which became known as the ‘New Course’. In his last work, written in 1955, he states:

‘In a socialist society, when determining the tempo of economic development and the ratio between the various economic branches, the proportion between production and consumption and between consumption and stockpiling must be in harmony with the requirements of the basic economic law of socialism, guaranteeing a gradual advance of society’ (I. Nagy, ‘On Communism’, Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, New York, 1957, p. 98).

Nagy advocated ad nauseam the need for harmonic balance between the resources spent on sector A and sector B of the economy. The well-known concept of certain harmonic proportions invented by Bogdanov/Bukharin and plagiarised by Trotsky comes out again and again, as the back door to the development of commodity-money relations both in the socialist and non-socialist sectors, as a regulator of production. It is interesting, that unlike Bukharin/Trotsky, he uses Stalin’s citations of the mid twenties to substantiate the need to have NEP-style relations in the transitional economic system. In fact, by ‘basic economic law of socialism’ Nagy implies the well-known formulation given by Stalin in Economic Problems. This, however, does not prevent Nagy from remaining a vulgar right-wing economist, which Guevara’s economic thought has nothing to do with.

According to Nagy, the only bond that the socialist sector and the private producer can have in the early stages of the transition from capitalism to socialism is the market. It is only through the market that the process of socialisation of production can prove its advantages over capitalist forms of management and production. Nagy is explicit:

‘‘The NEP policy must be carried out unconditionally, as it means the establishment of increasingly closer relations in the exchange of goods between the city and the village, between the socialist industry and the system of small holdings producing for the market, facilitating the switch to a socialist system of agricultural farms on a large scale.’ (I. Nagy, op. cit., p. 82. Our emphasis.)

Nagy on and on bitterly complains about the staggering disproportions and ‘distortions’ inflicted on the Hungarian economy by Rakosi’s ‘clique’, referring to the fast development of heavy industry with respect to light industry, and especially the countryside. Nagy’s attack on Rakosi’s ‘clique’ becomes even more acute when touching upon the treatment of individual peasants and the collectivisation. He initially refers to Rakosi’s ‘clique’ as adventurous, later on as open left-wing ‘fanatics’ and deviationists. Finally, while quoting Lenin and Stalin’s works in the 1920s, taking their writings out of context, Nagy establishes a parallel between Rakosi’s struggle to uphold the principles of Marxism-Leninism, regardless of whatever mistakes in its implementation, and the Trotskyite left-wing opposition in the Soviet Union in the 1920s by appealing to:

‘The resolutions of the Bolshevik Party in the Fifteenth Congress, which were forged in the battle against the extreme ‘left-wing’ Trotskyist opposition…’ (I. Nagy, op. cit., p. 82.)

It is not the first time that right-wing opportunism portrays the struggle for the basic principle of centralisation of means of production in the construction of socialism as a left-wing, Trotskyite deviation. These allegations of Trotskyism that were thrown at Guevara are to be understood in the historical context, which corresponds to the time when right-wing revisionism, led by the revisionist leadership of in the Soviet Union, disbanded the ‘Stalinist’ plans for the socialisation of the means of production in industry and the countryside. Modern revisionism turned the state sector in the People’s Democracies into an aggregation of independently producing enterprises, which engage in labour exchange with other enterprises and the state via commodity-money relations; in the countryside the process of collectivisation was halted and reversed, and in some countries farm cooperatives were turned into independently producing enterprises, following the model imposed by the revisionists in the Soviet Union. It is in this context, that Guevara’s fight against followers of the Soviet economic model in Cuba, despite his mechanical and idealist mistakes, renders a substantiated critique against right-wing revisionist theories for the construction of socialism.

Guevara’s plans for the industrialisation of the Caribbean island need to be understood within the historical-concrete situation corresponding to the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and the People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe. Despite elements of idealism and mechanicism, Guevara’s model of budgetary finance system and his refusal to implement commodity-money relations and the law of value as the regulator of proportions among state enterprises bears strong resemblances with the economic system existent in the Soviet Union during the 1930-50s. Hence, it was natural that Guevara’s plans for industrialisation faced fierce resistance by Soviet revisionism and its followers in the island. It is evident to us, that allegations of Trotskyism or left-wing deviationism thrown by right-wing revisionists are utterly unfounded. Nevertheless, more investigation is needed to throw light on Guevara’s ideological evolution in the 1950s and early 1960s and on how he came to propose the budgetary finance system, as the fundamental pillar for the industrialisation in Cuba.

Idealism and Mechanicism in Che’s Economic Thought

Despite the progressive character of Guevara’s economic thought, and its invaluable positive impact on the economic discussion held in Cuba during the first half of the 1960s, which represents a courageous and more or less consistent and substantiated struggle against modern revisionism, Che’s thinking needs to be considered critically. Notwithstanding the substantiated struggle against the right-wing theories of socialist construction, which makes Guevara’s works most relevant materials for the study of questions related to socialist transformation, he is plagued with serious mistakes. Guevara’s eclecticism is inherent to his thought in general, and cannot be neglected when evaluating Guevara’s role in the Cuban revolution and the theory of socialist transformation.

Guevara’s mistakes in political economy can be classified into two groups: idealism and mechanicism. Idealist mistakes were committed by Guevara when evaluating the role of consciousness in political economy. When we refer to mechanicism in Guevara’s economic thought we mainly imply his failure to grasp the dialectical evolution of economic categories involved in commodity-money relations during the transitional epoch. Needless to say, Guevara’s mistakes have been extensively used by the bourgeoisie and the representatives of revisionist tendencies, such as Trotskyism and neo-Trotskyism to mystify the revolutionary and rip his contribution to the political science and political economy from its Marxist logical core and divorce it from a number of Marxist-Leninist principles, which Guevara tried to uphold in a more or less consistent manner.

Guevara’s mistakes in political economy have been used inside and outside the island to consider Guevara’s contribution to the economic transformations in the early stages of the Cuban revolution in isolation from the principles of socialist transformation adopted by the People’s Democracies during the post-war period, so demonised by modern revisionism. Guevara’s thought is portrayed by many as a specific phenomenon of the Cuban revolution, thus completely ignoring its strong links with the so called ‘Stalinist’ economic theories and modus operandi during the transitional period. Although we do not wish to portray Guevara’s economic thought as a faithful concretisation of the principles of Marxism-Leninism in the conditions of revolutionary Cuba in the 1960s, we feel it would be a serious mistake not to evaluate Guevara’s thought within the concrete-historical epoch corresponding to systematic violation of the principles of Marxism-Leninism, which led to the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and the liquidation of socialist construction in Eastern Europe. While evaluating critically Guevara’s economic thought and identifying areas of inconsistency, we feel compelled to appreciate and value the positive and progressive that Che upheld under very difficult conditions of struggle against imperialism and revisionism.

Idealism is present throughout Guevara’s works all the way till his last published work, ‘Man and Socialism in Cuba’. It leads Guevara to proclaim consciousness and education as primary with respect to the study of relations of production in the transitional economy, including the construction of communism. Impressed by the early philosophical works of young Marx, Guevara states:

‘The word conscious is emphasized because Marx considered it basic in stating the problem. He thought about man’s liberation and saw communism as the solution to the contradictions that brought alienation – but as a conscious act. That is to say, communism cannot be seen merely as the result of class contradictions in a highly developed society, contradiction that would be resolved during a transitional stage before reaching the crest. Man is a conscious actor in history. Without this consciousness, which embraces its awareness as a social being, there can be no communism.’ (Che Guevara, in ‘On the budgetary finance system’, published in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 124. Our emphasis.)

The role of consciousness and education is ubiquitously stressed by Guevara in his economic works as the leading factor in the transition to higher forms of economic organisation. In Guevara’s system political economy ceases to be an independent discipline, the objective character of the economic laws of the transitional society is secondary to the cultural formation of the new man. The economic laws of socialism, like those of capitalism, exist and evolve with the development of the forces of production and the historical conditions at times independently from the level of consciousness of the masses. In fact, in certain historical situations, the masses as a whole remain unaware of the economic essence of both revolution and counter-revolution.

The role of consciousness and education undoubtedly play a fundamental role in the construction of the new society. However, political economy remains an independent discipline and the study of the objective laws that govern it remains a titanic effort. Only scientific analysis and synthesis of the relations of production can make possible the sustained economic development necessary for the construction of the socialist and communist societies. As opposed to capitalism, during the course of the transition to socialism, objective and subjective conditions are given for the masses to participate consciously in the construction and scientific analysis and synthesis of the socialist construction. It is clear that the more conscious and active participation of the working class in the socialist construction, the more solid are the foundations of the socialist formation. It is clear too, that the more conscious the working class is about the essence of the economic transformation, the more robust is the economic development and the less influential are the forces of counter-revolution.

Economic development under socialism and the development of consciousness and socialist culture – two phenomena which go hand in hand. Generalisation on the basis of the history of the Soviet Union indicates that consciousness and socialist culture require a material basis, without which further economic development and further development of consciousness. However, according to Guevara consciousness and socialist education are supposed to be the primary engines of economic development in socialism:

‘The hopes in our system [budgetary finance system – our note] point to the future, towards a more rapid development of consciousness, and through consciousness, to the development of the productive forces’. (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Socialist plan: its meaning’, p. 147. Translated from Spanish.)

In Guevara’s system, socialist economic development is not really the engine of consciousness, but the other way around, consciousness is the source of socialist economic development. Guevara’s idealism turns voluntarist. In this respect, Che’s idealism may be compared to Mao’s idealist views in political economy, despite the fact that Guevara displays a significantly more progressive stand with respect to commodity-money relations than the latter. Mao, in his critique of Stalin’s Economic Problems, bitterly complains about the fact that the latter does not include the study of the superstructure in the analysis of the socialist economy:

Stalin’s book from first to last says nothing about the superstructure. It is not concerned with people; it considers things not people…

They speak only of the production relations, not the superstructure nor politics, nor the role of the people. Communism cannot be reached unless there is a communist movement’. (Mao Tsetung, A Critique of Soviet Economics, Monthly Review Press, New York and London, 1977, pp. 135-136.)

Guevara supports the wrong idealistic view that commodity-money relations per se and in general are a manifestation of the alienation of the human being in the process of production. Guevara interprets mechanistically and metaphysically the role and place of economic forms inherited from capitalism in the socialist economy:

‘The alienated human individual is bound to society as a whole by an invisible umbilical cord: the law of value. It acts upon all facets of his life, shaping his road and his destiny. (Che Guevara in ‘Man and Socialism in Cuba’, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 340.)

One of the major and profound mistakes displayed by Guevara’s economic thought, a mistake common to many others who have genuinely claimed allegiance to Marxism-Leninism, is his failing to grasp Lenin’s and Stalin’s teachings with regards to the dying off of economic categories inherited from capitalism. These teachings may be succinctly expressed in Stalin’s well-known assertion in Economic Problems. In his answer to A. Notkin, Stalin stresses:

‘The fact of the matter is that in our socialist conditions economic development proceeds not by way of upheavals, but by way of gradual changes, the old not simply being abolished out of hand, but changing its nature in adaptation to the new, and retaining only its form; while the new does not simply destroy the old, but infiltrates into it, changes its nature and its functions, without smashing its form, but utilizing it for the development of the new. This, in our economic circulation, is true not only of commodities, but also of money, as well as of banks, which, while they lose their old functions and acquire new ones, preserve their old form, which is utilized by the socialist system.’ (J.V. Stalin ‘Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR’, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1952, p. 59.)

Guevara commits the colossal mistake, which has been more or less successfully exploited by neo-Trotskyism and other bourgeois ideologies, of mechanically and metaphysically extrapolating the character of the economic categories implemented during the NEP to later stages of the socialist construction in the Soviet Union. Guevara, de facto blames the adoption of such economic forms as economic accounting, profit, credit, etc. implemented in the 1920s for the right-wing deviationist economic theories that he was fighting in the 1960s, without appreciating the profound changes that operated in the content of those categories during the 1930-50s:

In the Soviet Union, the first country to build socialism, and those who followed its example, determined to develop a planning process that could measure broad economic results by financial means. Relations among enterprises were left in a state of more or less free play. This is the origin of what is now called economic calculus (a poor translation of the Russian term, that might better be expressed as auto-financing, or, more precisely, financial self-management).

Roughly speaking, then, financial self-management is based on establishing broad financial control over the enterprise activities, banks being the principal agencies of control. Suitably designed and regimented material incentives are used to promote independent initiative toward maximum utilization of productive capacity, which translates into greater benefits for the individual worker or the factory collective. Under this system, loans granted to socialist enterprises are repaid with interests in order to accelerate product turnover’. (Che Guevara, in ‘On Production Costs and the Budgetary System’, published in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 114.)

It is clear that, the transition to socialism in the Soviet Union, which followed the implementation of market-type economic relations in most of the economy, had to carry within itself certain economic forms, which are inevitably inherited from capitalism. However, Guevara apparently fails to grasp the fact that the concept of economic accounting evolved dramatically over the years, as the character of the economic relations evolved. The concept of economic accounting never disappeared from the Soviet economic literature; however, its content evolved in time in order to accommodate the planned principle of the economy on the basis of socialised property and the liquidation of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois forms of production. The economic accounting of the more or less disseminated production subjects confined to the Soviet artels in the 1920s bears little resemblance with the economic accounting of highly concentrated Soviet industry in the 1930-50s. The character of the labour exchange among the different production subjects during the 1930-50s bear close resemblance to that of the budgetary finance system advocated by Guevara in the 1960s.

It is not clear to us, to what extent Guevara is able to appreciate the qualitative changes that operated in the interpretation of the content of economic categories over the history of the political economy of the Soviet Union. It is unclear whether Guevara sees the preservation in the Soviet Union of economic forms such us, economic accounting, profit, credit, banks, etc… as a sign of economic backwardness, or rather as a sign of the concrete historical conditions under which the transition to socialism took place in the Soviet Union. For instance, Guevara advocated the liquidation of the concept of credit in socialism, even though the form of credit was never liquidated in the Soviet Union:

‘In our system [the budgetary system – our note.] the Bank supplies a certain amount of resources to the enterprises according to the budget; here the interest rate is not present’. (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, pp. 45-46. Translated from Spanish.)

The same applies to the economic category of profit, which was never liquidated in the Soviet Union but was categorically denied by Guevara within the context of the budgetary finance system in Cuba. Guevara seems to understand mechanically the economic relation of the State with socialised production subjects:

‘…because the State Enterprise in the conditions of Cuba, is just a centre for production. It has a budget, a budget for production; it should meet the goals of production and deliver its product to the Ministry of Domestic Commerce, or to other state industries. Thus, the enterprise does not have profit, does not have money; all the profit, all the difference between what was sold and the cost belongs to the Cuban state. The enterprise is reduced to production.’ (Che Guevara, Conference ‘Economy and Plan’ of the People’s University, 1961. Translated from Spanish.)

As a matter of fact, the history of the political economy of the Soviet Union has demonstrated that the principle of socialist planning on the basis of socialised forms of production does not contradict the implementation of such economic forms as profit, as long as the latter do not express the relationship between independent producers, but on the contrary is used as one of the indexes of economic effectiveness, etc… To state that profit is not the leading economic criterion in socialist industry is generally speaking correct. However to interpret the sole presence of the concept of profit, regardless of its relative weight in the definition of economic effectiveness, as a sign of economic backwardness is strictly speaking incorrect.

In his article ‘Bank, Credit and Socialism’ Guevara brilliantly exposes the vulgar and fetishist economic views of those in Cuba who did not understand the need to re-define the role of banks in a socialist economy and that the economic functions of the banks in capitalism cannot be mechanically transported to socialism. His conclusions are generally speaking correct, correct in the sense of abstract formulations. So are his conclusions with regard to commodity-money relations and the role of the law of value in the transitional economy. However, they are correct in the abstract and may turn dangerous if applied mechanically to concrete-historical conditions.

Unfortunately, the evaluation of Guevara’s economic thought is confusing and inconclusive since the budgetary finance system is conceived as a result of the struggle with right-wing economic theories, which absolutise the role of commodity-money relations. The budgetary finance system is without a doubt a reaction against right-wing economic theories and needs to be appreciated as such. Further investigations, possibly on the basis of archival materials, will hopefully throw valuable light on the role of mechanicism and metaphysics in Guevara’s economic thought.


J.J. Lawrence: Che Guevara


I have been asked to write an article on Che, which I am pleased to do. Before I write this article, I must insist that if you have not read anything on Che (apart from this article) you must read a biography on him. Che was the first time I had read on something involving communism, which had a huge influence on me. There are a great deal of articles on Che. I do not want to just write another short summary of his life. I have tried in this article to show key points which had significant impact on him, and why he became the man he was.

‘Because of the circumstances in which I travelled, first as a student and later as a doctor, I came into close contact with poverty, hunger, and disease; with the inability to treat a child because of lack of money; with the stupefaction provoked by continual hunger and punishment, to the point that a father can accept the loss of a son as an unimportant accident… and I began to realize that there were things which were almost as important to me as becoming a famous scientist or making a significant contribution to medical science; I wanted to help those people.’ (Che Guevara, 1960, speaking on revolutionary medicine).

Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was a communist revolutionary, a social philosopher, a medical doctor and became an international figurehead for the communist cause. His dream was to change Latin America into a socialist utopia and end US imperialism there as well as helping the rest of the developing world free themselves of oppression. When I first read about Che, I was blown away, his life, his ideals, a tear came to my eye when I read about his final hour and his murder in Bolivia. From the moment he agreed to join Castro’s revolution, he dedicated his life to the communist cause , his determination was unbelievable. In my opinion there was a number of key points on how Che became the man he was and why he is such an icon to so many today.


The first “key point” in my view was his asthma. I know some people would not see this as hugely significant but to me it was. From such a young age it affected him terribly, he did not start school until the age of seven because of it. But his mother gave him a good basic grounding in education. The asthma was something to him that would not hold him back, it gave him so much resolve. It was the fact that he had asthma that gave him this determination to succeed and throughout his battles in Cuba, the Congo and Bolivia it affected him terribly. Surely it was physically demanding enough to be a guerrilla fighter and on top of that he had to cope with asthma, he became a severe and a ruthless disciplinarian to his troops who complained and showed physical weakness. He concluded that if he could manage with severe asthma that they should find it much less demanding than him. Overall it installed huge determination in him, his will to take part in physical activity, it would not stop him from being part of the team. One of his decisions to study medicine was his determination to find a cure for his side effects of his drugs he used for asthma. He eventually qualified as a doctor. He knew his asthma was a weakness, but it installed in him, a self determination that would last for the rest of his life.


His travels of Latin America, without doubt, had a profound impact on Che. He visited numerous countries throughout his travels, as the quote from Che says ‘Because of the circumstances in which I travelled, first as a student and later as a doctor’, he witnessed at first hand the social injustice, US imperialism, the devastating poverty of the downtrodden classes and the ethnic minorities. Just to think what may have become of Che, if he did not travel around Latin America? He visited nearly all of the Latin American countries. He saw what kind of life that some people had to endure, while people suffered in poverty, starving and treated like filth, somewhere down the road a US owned business rakes in the PROFITS while subjecting the workers to wage slavery. Che, in his travels, for example, came into contact with an old woman, who was asthmatic, with a heart condition. This woman couldn’t pay her way.

‘It is then, at the end, that we see the profound tragedy which circumscribes the life of the proletariat the world over. In these dying eyes there is a humble appeal for forgiveness and also, often, a desperate plea for solace which is lost in the void’

As each encounter with social injustice, poverty, US imperialism and disease, occurred, Che began to realize that the whole of Latin America was in desperate need of change. The whole system was corrupt. Che had throughout his travels, already read a great deal on Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin etc., then when he witnessed the devastating effect of capitalism and privately owned businesses (usually US) in Latin America, he knew his beliefs were right. To destroy the current system and once and for all bring social justice, an end to capitalism. To finish that quote with which Che showed his anger at the system:

‘How long this present order, based on absurd idea of caste, will last I can’t say, but it’s time governments spent less time publicizing their own virtues and more money – much more money – funding socially useful projects.’

He found himself in Guatemala, under a new government of Jacobo Arbenz, which nationalized land owned by United Fruit, plus various US multinationals who severely exploited the workers, while they accumulated the profits. Obviously the US were not going to allow their interest to be affected, just because Jacobo Arbenz wanted to give his people a better standard of living. It became clear that the CIA were planning to overthrow the new government, then install a puppet. Eventually the coup won, Che was outraged that the government failed to arm the people. He once again had witnessed US intervention. Che gained valuable experience from his Guatemalan experience, that there must be unity, and to arm the people, he also realized that Uncle Sam would have to be kept in the dark until the revolution was secure. He also met the woman that would become his wife, Hilda Gadea Acosta, she would introduce him to some members of the JULY 26 MOVEMENT. He arrived in Mexico knowing that he was prepared to join any type of revolution that was fighting to overthrow a dictator. This is where Che Guevara met a man who would change his life and the course of history.


In Mexico, he had heard a lot about the leader of the July 26 movement, now he would meet him. FIDEL CASTRO, this is without doubt, without question, Fidel Castro had the biggest impact on the life of Che Guevara. All of Che’s experiences, his childhood and his travels, he realized that social change was needed. Seeing the US imperialism around Latin America, the devastating poverty of the downtrodden classes, he realized that a revolution was the only way. He needed to find a cause? He needed to find a strong leader?

It had reached the climax for Che, he had found his leader for a revolution, in Che’s own words after meeting Fidel:

‘an extraordinary man. He confronted and solved the most impossible problems. He had an unshakeable faith that once he left exile in Mexico and arrived in Cuba he would fight, and would win that fighting. I shared his optimism. It was imperative to do something, to struggle, to achieve. It was imperative to stop crying and fight!’

For Che, to say something like that, so soon after meeting him, shows what impact Castro had on Che. He talked with Fidel in their first encounter on every conceivable subject, they were like long lost soul brothers.

In the various “key points” I have shown, I feel these were the fundamental factors in the making of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. These various incidents in Che’s life had a huge impact on him, from him suffering asthma, his travels of Latin America and meeting Fidel Castro. They all helped create a man whose life was dedicated to people who suffered at the hands of injustice.


Throughout Cuban revolution, Che was to become a severe and ruthless disciplinarian. He once shot a man for falling asleep on guard duty and ordered executions of deserters etc. Some people have argued that he was too harsh and too severe. But in my opinion he was justified, he became so dedicated to the revolution that nothing on earth could jeopardize it. During the Cuban revolution, Che showed his bravery, his tactical skill, his determination and all this was noted by Castro who eventually promoted Che to commander. He showed that anything he applied himself to he could do, Che Guevara was quite simply, a rare bird. He was without question the best guerrilla fighter in the Cuban revolution, he showed, at times, a complete disregard for his own personal safety. Even when Castro had told him not to take part in some of the battles. He was always determined to lead by example. During the revolution he would meet the woman who would become his second wife, Aleida March. What was an important factor to me about Che Guevara, was educating the new rebels, he set up an education program during the revolution. He was determined to introduce them to Marxism Leninism, Castro didn’t want the communist element to be heard, of course if the Americans got wind of it the revolution might have been doomed. Castro, I believe was always going down the communist road, he just needed to keep it quiet from uncle Sam.

When the rebels had won, and marched into the cities of Havana etc. Che set about leading by example, he was determined to show the people that everyone must make sacrifices in the ‘new Cuba’. Like in all revolutions, traitors and former henchmen of General Batista were still in the air. Some highly publicized trials were held. Over 500 men were convicted for crimes against the people, Che was in charge of the trials and had the last say on the fate of the men. Some people were outraged, friends who knew Che before he joined the revolution were shocked. In my view it was absolutely justified, some of the men executed were guilty of horrendous crimes. Others were a threat to the revolution and deserved to die. It shows an interesting aspect in Che’s character, a man who always wanted to help the people and to bring social justice to the world, but he showed no mercy to the enemies and handed out death sentences to them unemotionally. What is so profound of Che was his dedication, just as he was as a fighter in the revolution. He was determined to see the ‘new Cuba’ have economical stability and make sure it survived. Che was entrusted with the crucial job of forging relations to bankroll the revolution by visiting the rest of the socialist states, such as the Soviet Union, China and various other countries. When he returned to Cuba, he had the great news of securing financial and political support of the two communist super-powers China and the Soviet Union. He worked immensely hard for the revolution, be it going round the world forging alliances with various nations or going to do volunteer labour work on a construction site in Cuba. Seldom do you see a politician doing that at present in England or anywhere. At times he worked 36 hours straight meeting various people to help the revolution. To me these examples of self sacrifice had a huge impact on me, to see a man work so hard, so honestly and all he wanted in return was not a big pay packet but for the rest of Cuba to follow suit. During the Cuban missile crisis, when without consulting Castro the Soviet leader Khrushchev had already done a deal with President Kennedy. Castro was furious, but kept a smile for Khrushchev. Che was furious, he never trusted nor did he ever like the Soviet leader.

It was Che who first denounced the new Soviet imperialism for not giving unconditional support to third world liberation movements etc. It was a part of Che’s character, he would always voice his opinion, whether it be attacking his nemesis, or criticizing the Soviet Union for its faults. History has proven Che correct about the former Soviet Union, with revisionists such as Khrushchev and the eventual collapse of it. Che saw this happening.


Che Guevara had served as a vital cog in the Cuban revolution he felt it was time to leave for another adventure. He decided it was to be the Congo, to assist the rebels there. I believe, and I may be wrong about this, but Che knew he would not grow old peacefully, his heart lay on the battlefield. He left a letter for his children, to be opened if he was killed:

Dear Hildita, Aleidita, Camilo, Celia and Ernesto,

If you read this letter one day, it will mean that I

am no longer alive. You will hardly remember me,

and the smallest among you will have entirely

forgotten me.


Your father was a man who acted as he thought

best and who has been absolutely faithful to his



Grow up into good revolutionaries. Study hard to

master technique, which gives you mastery over

nature. Remember that it is the Revolution which

is important and that each of us, taken in

isolation, is worth nothing.


Above all be sensitive, in the deepest areas of

yourselves, to any injustice committed against

whoever it may be anywhere in the world.


Yours always, my children. I hope to see

you again.


A big strong kiss from


His Congo and Bolivian missions were both disastrous, Bolivia proving fatal. But Che Guevara is an important historical figure, he is a prime example of what can be achieved, by only having huge determination and a dream. He was a dedicated Marxist-Leninist, the amount of effort, blood, sweat and tears he put in to further the cause of his idols was profound. When we look at politicians today who consistently misrepresent the people, it is sickening. Che dedicated his life to help the people, to demonstrate why communism was the only way forward. He was the second most powerful man in Cuba, he was loved by the people, a hero of the revolution. He was married with five children and could have grown old peacefully in Cuba, he gave everything up in Cuba to further the communist cause. He had an epic dream to bring the whole of Latin America into a socialist utopia, through armed revolution. When you realize how dedicated a human being must be to give up everything in Cuba, to help bring socialism to the whole of Latin America is astonishing. I believe the importance of Che Guevara is huge for the communist cause, he shows how communists should dedicate themselves to their beliefs. The NCMLU (Communist Party Alliance) follows the political principles of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, which is correct. But we should take from Che the honesty, dedication and self sacrifice to help the working class. With so much anti-communist feeling around the world, who accuse us of being ‘evil’, we can show them what a communist is and what we stand for. Tell them to read on Che, who only ever wanted to help the downtrodden classes of the world. For me, Che will always hold a special place in my heart, reading about him was the first time I had come into contact with communism.

Reading on him sparked off something inside me to help the communist cause. Upon reading on Che, it has led me to Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. In my opinion we will never see another human being of his kind.

We must all strive to be like Che, to show self sacrifice, dedication to the cause, to fight against injustice, racism and imperialism, to help bring about social equality and change the world. To quote Marx, ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways; the point is to change it’.

I will finish with a part of a speech from Fidel Castro, speaking to the Cuban people after the death of his comrade.


‘a man of profound ideals, a man in

whose mind stirred the dream of






Alliance Marxist-Leninist: Who is Saddam Hussein? Portrait of a Fascist Made by Imperialism


We make it plain that we condemn the imperialist moves against the peoples of Iraq. Does that mean we are for Saddam Hussein?

How do we characterize Hussein?
Bluntly – he is a blood-thirsty dictator and he has suppressed not only the Kurdish peoples, but his own peoples. He has in particular suppressed the Communist and progressives.

For years as a member of the Ba’th Party, he was an instrument of the revisionist USSR’s power in Iraq, and then, he became an instrument of the US imperialists. It was the US imperialists who fed his thirst for blood. This exposes the hypocrisy of the USA’s leaders – when they piously call to depose him for the “good of the Iraqi peoples.”

Irrespective of our detestation of Hussein, at this stage to support in any way USA imperialist goals – is to play into the hands of further sabotaging the needs of the Iraqi peoples. It is the Iraqi peoples who must change their leader. It is the interference of the Western imperialist that has allowed Hussein to first come to power, and then to remain in power. But at this stage, to agree for calls for his desposition by USA and UK war-mongers – would inflict even more damage, death and destruction on the Iraqi peoples. To understand Hussein’s relationship to imperialism a little, enables one to understand the depth of Bush’s hypocrisy.

We carry therefore a short history of modern Iraq, highlighting Hussein’s role.

(i) The Modern State of Iraq

When the Ottoman Empire disintegrated, the Middle East was left in a vacuum. Into this stepped British imperialism, who disputed with France the oil of Mosul. The British won and simply created vassal states. These included in 1920, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. A kingdom was created under the rule of Faisal ibn Hussain. An arbitrary border between Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia was drawn by Sir Percy Cox, the British High Commissioner in Baghdad.

Iraq was administered by Britain under mandate from the League of Nations until 1932. Then it became an independent state under a new constitutional monarch, King Faisal I. Faisal, as a comprador agent of British rule, ensured British monopoly of the Iraqi Petroleum Corporation (IPC).

Until the Second World War seven successive coups left Iraq divided and unable to develop a national bourgeois revolt. The British played off the Shia Muslim masses against the minority Sunni Muslim rulers, and the Kurds against both Shias and Sunnis. The comprador agents ensured that between 1-3% of the population owned 55 % of all farmland. British monopoly of trade was complete.

King Ghazi – the son and successor of Faisal – colluded with General Bakr Sidqi of the Iraqi army to defy Britain. Even though shortly after Sidqi was assassinated, Ghazi held his course. This made him popular with the masses. He broadcast using a new radio station, messages of defiance to the British rule throughout the Middle East. The British arranged his assassination in a “car accident,” in 1939.

A pro-British agent Nur-Said came to power as a Prime Minister, while a regent took over the monarchy. By 1941 army colonels supported the Rashid Ali Keilani rebellion, which was pro-Nazi Germany. They allied with the Mufti of Palestine, a Nazi agent. The British therefore occupied the country in May 1941. British colonial rule extended till 1946. In 1947 the Portsmouth Anglo-Iraqi Treaty tried to ensure a neo-colonial presence in Iraq, with two Royal Air force (RAF) bases at Habaniyua and Sin Al Thibban.

This was hugely unpopular and led to uprisings – the al-Wathbah (The Leap). Under the leadership of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), uprisings forced the withdrawal of the puppet regime of Salih Jabr and the rejection of the Portsmouth Treaty. But the air force bases remained, and by 1955 the Iraqi state was part of the USA led plots to dominate the Middle East via the Baghdad Pact. The Government was led by Nuri al-Said, a comprador for the British at first, and then for the USA.

(ii) Arab Nationalism and the Ba’th party

Saddam Hussein was initially much influenced by the Rashid rebellion and the fate of Ghazi. He quickly joined the Ba’th Party.

The ideas of a so-called “Arab Socialism” were gaining favour. The Ba’th (‘Renaissance’ of the Arabs) party was founded in Iraq in 1954. Michel Aflaq and Zaki Arsouzi, in 1943, had first formed the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party, in Syria. But the Ba’th Party intended to cover all Arab countries. Its’ programme called for land reform and nationalisation of major parts of the economy, and a constitutional democracy. They represented the “middle ground,” the educated petit bourgeoisie, who wanted progressive modern change. The party’s central slogan was ‘Freedom, unity, socialism.'” What did “socialism” mean for the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party? It was a very vague and imprecise ideology, implying “national moral improvement.”

Nasserism was a specific form of Pan-Arabism, led by the Egyptian President Gamel Abdul Nasser. Starting in Egypt, Nasser called for liberation from imperialism the Middle East, using not Ba’th – but Wahda. Wahda (Arabic for “union”) was to renew Arabic “culture.” His Iraqi supporters, called for a Union with Egypt.

As a strategy of the national bourgeoisie in the Middle East, both the Ba’th and the Wahda ideologies aimed to contain the mass movement, emphasising the “Arab peoples,” and denying any class content.

When in 1958, an insurrection against the comprador regime of Nuri al-Said was successful, these two Arab movements seized the opportunity. The new Revolutionary Council of army officers was led by Prime Minster Qasim. He was in alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP). Imperialist troop maneuvers were foiled by the popularity of the Qasim government. This was a national bourgeois revolt.

But, the Iraqi national bourgeois was weak. A pro-Wahda (ie. pro-unity with Egypt) revolt was launched, but failed. Already the Syrian state had ‘united’ with the Egypt state under Nasser’s leadership. Saddam Hussein was one of a group that tried to assassinate Qasim, but failed. Despite its weakness, the national bourgeoisie was partly successful. Although during this period the ICP was severely hunted and persecuted, the ICP ensured a major agrarian land reform from 1958 to 1963. Moreover the Iraq petroleum Company was subject to Law 80 in 1961 – which limited the company’s rights to only 0.5% of the concession, and secured oil rights of 99.5% for the Iraqi state.

(iii) Ba’th Fascist Rule – From USSR Comprador State to USA Comprador State

But by 1963 Qasim had isolated himself. The Ba’thists created a coup and in a bloodbath massacred the revolutionary forces of the democratic revolution. Communists in particular were massacred. It is clear that the CIA was heavily involved, and numerous sources attest to this.

Almost immediately Law 80 was “side-stepped.” It could not simply be repealed as the Iraqi people were so much in favor of it. But the IPC simply stepped up oil production enormously to recoup their own profits. Another immediate step was to suppress the northern region of the Kurdistan nation. A war of genocidal proportions was launched.

The Arab Union of the United Arab Republic (dominated by Egypt) was declared. However this lasted only a few months for Iraq, and the Union died. Even Syria left the UAR.

Continuing its purge of all left and communist forces, the Ba’th eventually destroyed all opposition. Now it fell to internecine fighting. The leadership tore itself apart in a search for individual power. By 1963 a revolt of the army dismissed the Ba’th party from power. Between 1963-1968 a regime headed by ‘Abd al-Salam ‘ Arif tried to recreate a partnership with Egypt. But this was only temporary. Throughout this period all democratic reforms including those of the Land reform were turned back. Eventually this led to proletarian and peasant revolts.

The Ba’thists gained control of the student movement – led by Saddam Hussein – and helped to bring about the return to power of the Ba’th Party in 1968. At this stage, it was led by Nadhium Kazzar. It was a brutal regime and once more attacked communists and any who continued to call for democratic reforms. Again brutal wars against Kurdistan were led – in 1970 by President al-Bakr.

At this juncture the Ba’th Party became the comprador vehicle for the revisionist USSR. The stimulus had been the refusal of the IPC to undertake drilling and oil exploitation for the Ba’th government in the State controlled territories of Law 80. This led to a dubious alliance with the remnants of the Iraqi CP – termed the National Action Charter. It did not prevent further persecution of communists.

By 1975 the Ba’th party was getting a huge oil revenue – $8000 million – or 6 times the 1972 level. A new very rich bourgeois came into existence. They formed the social strata represented by the Ba’th.

By 1977 Saddam Hussein was the head of the government. He intensified the dictatorial nature of the regime. The “Knight” as he was called – purged all rivals. After the fall of the Shah of Iran – the local puppet of the USA – in February 1979 the USA had to seek a new pliable regime. Hussein simply switched over from the USSR to the USA, who used Hussein’s Iraq. During this period they fostered the long running Iraq-Iran war.

The US not only tolerated – but encouraged Husseins’ barbarous polices. They also fed him all the arms he asked for.

(v) Hussein Falls Into the Trap Set by April Glasbie, US Ambassador

As stated earlier, the borders of the area were arbitrarily set. That between Kuwait and Iraq had long been contentious. But the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq was a careful trap for Iraq. Why had the USA decided to spring this trap? Because the Israeli state was its lynch pin in the Middle East, and was facing considerable attention due to its violently racist and genocidal attacks on the Palestinians. The USA led coalition war against Iraq – “Desert Storm” served its purpose to divert the attention away from the Israelis.

It is clear that Iraq was ‘set up’ – Iraq was “assured” before its invasion of Kuwait that the United States imperialists had no interest in the dispute between Iraq and Kuwait: Four days before President Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait, the US Ambassador in Baghdad, April Glaspie, assured him that ‘we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait.’

She added that the US Secretary of State, James Baker, “has directed our official spokesman to emphasize the instruction,” first given in the 1960s, “that the issue is not associated with America.” The Guardian has the official minutes of the meeting. . . . US officials do not question their authenticity. The transcript shows that Ms Glaspie expressed considerable sympathy for President Saddam’s quest for higher oil prices, the immediate cause of his confrontation with Kuwait.
“I admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country,” she said, “I know you need funds. We understand that, and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country.” (Guardian, 12 September 1990; p. 7).

Further, on 31 July, two days before the invasion of Kuwait, US Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly, facing the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “Stressed repeatedly in testimony before the Committee that the US had no defense treaty with Kuwait and no obligation to come to its aid if attacked by Iraq.” (Guardian, 20, September 1990; p. 8).


Saddam Hussein has been from early on a creature of the USA imperialists. He is a bitter opponent of communists, and of the Iraqi peoples.

But, once again – to assist USA imperialism to depose him now and in the way the intend – is to condemn the Iraqi people to short term destruction, and a longer term dependence upon USA imperialism.

Suggested references:

CARDI: Committee Against Repression and for Democratic rights in Iraq: Saddam’s Iraq _ Revolution of Reaction; London 1989.
Efraim Karsh & Inari Rautsi Saddam Hussein. A Political Biography; New York 1991.


Reactionary anti-communist bourgeois theories that conceal the restoration of capitalism in Soviet Union (1953-1990) Part B


Reactionary anti-communist bourgeois theories that conceal the restoration of capitalism in Soviet Union (1953-1990) Part B

B. The reactionary anticommunist bourgeois theory of “developed socialism” of the Khrushchevit social-democracy

After the violent overthrow of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the victory-triumph of the Khrushchevian revisionist counter-revolution in the Soviet Union in 1952, while pursuing the scheduled and systematic policy of gradual restoration of capitalism facilitated by the implementation of capitalist economic reforms, the leading anti-communist group of Khrushchev-Brezhnev of, what is by now, the bourgeois social-democratic Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), sought to formulate a suitable theory to conceal this reactionary process from socialism-communism to capitalism.

In their attempt to formulate a new and suitable “theory” concealing this reactionary process and the emerging society of restored capitalism euphemistically called “developed socialism” (!), the Khrushchevian-Brezhnevite revisionists came up with the well-known theory of “advanced socialism”

Both the theory of “developed socialism” promoted by the Khrushchevian traitors and the theory of“convergence” promoted by the western bourgeois reaction are anti-communist reactionary bourgeois theories because during the period of their dominance (1955-1990) were directed against the communist perspective of the Proletariat, obscured the Proletariat’s communist prospect presenting the restored capitalism of the Soviet Union as “the communist” future while, at the same time, they were in total breach with the objective historic progress of society toward socialism-communism. The class character and content of the two theories was based on the defence of capitalism: the theory of “convergence” defended was traditional capitalism of the Western countries, while the theory of “developed socialism” defended the restored capitalism of the Soviet Union and the other revisionist countries (Details can be found at “Anasintaxi”, no. 373, August 2012, p. 3).

Since the treacherous, renegade Khrushchev-Brezhnev group “managed”, in the 20th Congress of CPSPU in 1956, to present arbitrarily and provocatively the capitalist-fascist Yugoslavia of Tito as “socialist”(!) – a view imposed on the international communist movement (N.S. Khrushchev: “Report in 20th Party Congress, 1956:“Yugoslavia has not small successes in the socialist construction”, a clear proof that the Khrushchevian clicque had decided to follow Tito’s counter-revolutionary, capitalist path – and promoted a kind of “socialism”(!) that would result “peacefully” without the need of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, this group officially confessed and publicly admitted, during the 22nd of Congress of CPSU (1961), that there was neither Dictatorship of the Proletariat nor revolutionary communist party in the Soviet Union of that period and that these had been replaced by the “state of all people” and “party of all people” and mentioned, for the first time, the “transition period from capitalism to socialism” to which the Dictatorship of the Proletariat “corresponded”. At the same time, they formulated the theory of “developed socialism” without using yet the terms that became well known later: “developed socialism” and “advanced socialist society”.

The theory of “developed socialism” promoted by the Khrushchevian renegades constitutes, as it will be shown below, a complete revision and a blatant, crude rejection of revolutionary Marxism.

As a theory, the so-called “developed socialism” has nothing in common with the revolutionary theory of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin, it amounts to its negation and it is an anti-communist bourgeois theory. The so much advertised, but non-existent “advanced socialist society” was nothing more than the restored capitalism of the Khrushchevian-Brezhnevite period as shown in previous articles. According to the anti-communist Brezhnev, this type of society had already been in November of 1967, that is to say, when capitalism had been fully restored (on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution, he had declared that “In the USSR a developed socialist society has been built).

The theory of “developed socialism” dominated later the new bourgeois constitution (i.e. the constitution of the restored capitalism) of the Brezhnevite period while the euphemistically called “advanced socialist society” found its full expression in this – a constitution which, for the first time, officially legalized and confirmed not only the state-capitalist (articles 10-11) and collective-capitalist ownership (article 12) but also the individual capitalist ownership (articles 13-17) in the Soviet Union’s society of that time. It also legalized the capitalist competition between the autonomous enterprises, the “socialist commodity producers”, and the capitalist profit (article 16). In this constitution, the content of the “advanced socialist society”, that is, of the Soviet Union’s restored capitalism is generally described.

The elements-views from which the theory of “developed socialism” was made are the following: “the party of all people”, “the state of all people”, “transition period from capitalism to socialism”, “three phases of the communist society”, “socialism: a new autonomous mode of production”. Concerning the theory of “advanced socialism” and the euphemistically called “advanced socialist society” there is a vast literature of many articles and books. However, we will make a limited use of them and cite only those extracts that highlight the counter-revolutionary essence of this bourgeois reactionary theory.

1. “Party of all people” or revolutionary communist party?

In the 22nd Congress of CPSU (1961) it is mentioned: “our Marxist-Leninist Party that was born as a party of the working class, has become the party of all people”, an anti-Marxist view which later passed to the new Brezhnevite bourgeois constitution (1977) where it was formulated as: “CPSU exists for the people and to serve the people”. (Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution, 1977)

Some quick comments on the anti-Marxist view “party of all people”:

1. The adoption of this view meant the abandonment of the Marxist theory not only about the revolutionary, new type of party but also about all political parties considered as separate organisations that defend the different interests of particular classes.

2. The Khrushchevian social democrats promoted the well known bourgeois view according to which parties stand above classes and they are, therefore, defenders of the interests of “most” or “all classes”.

3. As known, according to revolutionary Marxism there are no organisations and parties that belong to “all people”, that is parties of all classes. Since, the Khrushchevian revisionists themselves admitted that there was not any more a revolutionary communist party in the Soviet Union of that period, because, according to them, the Marxist-Leninist party had been replaced with the party of “all people”, then the new CPSU, that is the so-called party of “all people” could not be nothing else but a bourgeois, social-democratic party. Consequently, the revolutionary, until the beginning of the 1950’s, CPSU changed its class character: from a Marxist-Leninist party of the working class, it became a bourgeois party: a defender of the class interests of the emerging soviet bourgeoisie.

The character of a party, according to Marxism, is determined first of all by the its ideology and, among others by its programme. The new CPSU, that is, the so-called “party of all people”, was not guided any more by the ideology of the revolutionary Marxism, that is, Leninism-Stalinism, but by the counter-revolutionary ideology of Khrushchevian revisionism (which is a version of bourgeois ideology).

The new CPSU of Khrushchev-Brezhnev as well as the Khrushchevian parties of all countries in the following decades were (and still are) bourgeois, social-democratic parties because: a) they were not guided revolutionary Marxism, b) they had reformist programmes that cannot lead to the overthrow of capitalism, c) they adopted a anti-Marxist view of socialism-communism since they advertised the restored capitalism of the Khrushchev-Brezhnev-Gorbachev period as “socialism”(!), in other words they claimed that there was allegedly “socialism” in the Soviet Union during 1953-1991.

4. Neither socialism can exist nor the construction of socialism can continue without a revolutionary communist party of a new type, that is, of Leninist-Stalinist type. Therefore, after 1953, it was inevitable that the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union finally stopped and the new CPSU, that is, the “party of all people”, was at the forefront of the capitalism economic reforms that completely eliminated socialism and resulted in the full restoration of capitalism by the mid 1960’s.

5. Socialism-communism cannot to constructed without a marxist-leninst-stalinist party, precisely because this party “has always as a primary task the class, political organisation of the proletariat as an autonomous political party and sets the next goal to be the struggle for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat” (MARX-ENGELS: Bd.18, pp.267-268, Berlin 1969) and also it is the party that : first, is the organiser and the leader of the giant work of socialist-communist construction and second, without this party the Dictatorship of the Proletariat possible cannot exist. That’s why Stalin is very right to point out that “the dictatorship of the proletariat is exercised through the Party, that without a united and cohesive party the Dictatorship of the Proletariat cannot exist”, that “the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is possible only through the party that is its guiding force” and that “the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is complete only if it is led by one party, the Communist Party, which does not and cannot share power with other parties” (Stalin, Collected Works vol. 10)

2. “State of all people” or Dictatorship of the Proletariat

In relation to the state of the Soviet Union of that period, it is mentioned in the 22nd Congress that the state of the working class had been transformed to the “all people’s state”: “The state of all people is the new state in the development of the socialist state, the most important landmark in the path of development of the socialist state to a communist self-governing society” (22nd Congress of CPSU, p. 205, Athens 1961) and that “the dictatorship of the proletariat was not any more necessary …” (ibid, p. 208) for the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union. Later, this anti-Marxist view passed to the new Constitution (1977) – from which the term Dictatorship of the Proletariat had been deleted (justifiably so since it had been already been overthrown in 1953) – and which confirms that the Soviet Union was not any more the state of Dictatorship of the Proletariat as it was in the era of Lenin-Stalin but the “state of all people” (“Constitution 1977”, p. 42: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a socialist state of the whole people).

The anti-marxist view of the Khrushchevian about the “state of all people” is raising some important questions worth of special consideration:

First, by denying the necessity of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat during an important phase of development of socialism-communism, the soviet revisionists-social democrats and in such an important and central question the reformist Khrushchevian parties abandoned Marxism and it known that nobody can be regarded as Marxist without the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat as Lenin noted: Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is what constitutes the most profound distinction between the Marxist and the ordinary petty (as well as big) bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism should be tested” (Lenin, “State and revolution”)

Second, it is important to note the open confession and the official admission made by the Khrushchevians that there was no Dictatorship of the Proletariat in the Soviet Union of that period and, it was exactly for this reason why there was no socialism any more. Moreover, the construction of socialism had stopped in 1953 after the death-murder of Joseph Stalin. The continuation of socialist construction in a country without the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is totally impossible and inconceivable. Also, the maintenance of socialism is unimaginable without the Dictatorship of the Proletariat since, for Marx, the concepts of socialism and Dictatorship of the Proletariat are inseparable. As early as 1850, Marx noted that socialism: the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations” (MARX-ENGELS: vol.7, p. 89-90, Berlin 1969).

Third, the Khrushchevian concept of the “state of all people” not only meant a rejection of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat but it constituted a complete revision of the Marxist theory on the state of Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and the state in general, and this is why Lenin emphasized that “the essence of Marx’s theory of the state has been mastered only by those who realize that the dictatorship of a single class is necessary not only for every class society in general, not only for the proletariat which has overthrown the bourgeoisie, but also for the entire historical period which separates capitalism from “classless society”, from communism” (Lenin, State and Revolution.”)

Fourth, the Khrushchevian concept of the “state of all people” bears no relation to Marxism. It is alien to Marxism because according to the Marxist theory there is no state standing above classes, that is to say, “state of all classes” of a society; this is a bourgeois view. On the contrary, the state has always a class character: either it is the state of the bourgeoisie or it is the state of the proletariat. In the period of transition from capitalism to socialism-communism, there can be either the dictatorship of the proletariat or the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. This is why the famous English Marxist George Thomson, in 1971, very rightly emphasized that the “state of all people” declared by the treacherous Khrushchevian clique was in reality “a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”, or to be more exact, a dictatorship of the new soviet bourgeoisie.

Fifth, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, according to the teaching of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin, is established right after the victory of the armed Proletarian Revolution and the complete annihilation of the state machinery, is preserved and strengthened and it is absolutely necessary for the whole transitional period from capitalism to socialism. The state of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is never transformed to the “state of all people” (it is also known that Max and Engels rejected with irony the so-called “free state” in the Critique of the Gotha Program. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat exists until it withers away in the higher stage of communist, in the communist classless society: For the state to wither away completely, complete communism is necessary” and that The state will be able to wither away completely when society adopts the rule: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. (Lenin, “State and Revolution”)


The need for clarity on the nature of the capitalist economic structure of Russia

September 6, 2014
By Emiliano Cervi and Salvatore Vicario

The fight against imperialism is a sham and humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism,” Lenin

We already know: the world is in constant flux, the United States is an empire in decline (and of course, for this reason it is more dangerous) and it is faced with more and more influence on the international scene from other countries that tend to undermine those who now hold a dominant position. This is definitely a good thing, from a certain point of view: the more economic and political clashes between these powers, which Lenin called the “most profound contradictions of imperialism,” [1] the more space for those the system tries to overcome making tactical use of any opportunity that the national and international political scenarios in flux can offer.

Communists must be pragmatic and flexible in applying tactics from time to time, just as Marxist-Leninist theory is not a theological dogma but a tool that gives us the ability to understand and analyze the world around us. However, in the bleak scenario that the small circle of communists nowadays provides, it is not uncommon to argue with those who, by carrying this to extreme pragmatism, eventually abandon not only the revolutionary theory to arrive at opportunism, but distort the facts. And this is perhaps even more dangerous.

The USSR, Russia and Putin’s new course

One of the most disturbing (and bizarre, let me say) distortions consists in comparing what the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was with Russia today. The “rehabilitation” of a glorious past, which also includes the revival of the symbols and rituals of real socialism and its open antagonism with the United States has incredibly confused many comrades. It is not uncommon to read comments such as: “Long live Comrade Putin!” or “Putin is rebuilding the USSR!,” “I knew it (the Soviet Union, ed.) would come back.”

Undeniably Russia has concluded the first post-Soviet period of the massive sell-off of the economic, political and cultural wealth of the people to the large speculators, profiteers and gangsters intertwined with the USA and the West in general. These are no longer alcoholic traitors leading the country but a “statesman,” competent and prepared (note his past training in the KGB). These combined factors have helped to create this image, this distortion of reality. Without wishing to dwell on the history of the USSR, we must ask ourselves first, what makes a state a socialist country. It is a fact that the Communist Party must lead the country (as the political vanguard of the proletariat), but this is not essential to determine the nature of the system: instead we focus on the economic structure, which can allow us to dispel all doubt.

Either the means of production are in the hands of the workers, and therefore they have been socialized, or one cannot and should not speak of socialism. One should also pay attention to the difference between the concept of socialization of the means of production and that of nationalization: the latter indeed includes the expropriation of the means of production in order to hand it over to a state entity, but without this affecting the ownership of the property by the bourgeoisie, if we are talking about a capitalist country. For example, in the 1960s many strategic enterprises in Italy were state-owned (energy, steel, etc.), but did this mean that Italy was a socialist country? Who owned the wealth of the country? Was it the workers or the exclusive elite group of entrepreneurs who controlled, and still control, the reins of the economy and national politics?

So the first factor to emphasize, for a communist, is the change of the economic structure in Eastern Europe, primarily in Russia. This was a reversion to capitalist relations of production, as a result of the counter-revolution, where the ownership of the means of production is in private hands and where the production and distribution of wealth is not designed to meet the needs of the people, but to increase the profits of the capitalists, that is, those who hold the means of production in their hands. While the wealth of the USSR was for the benefit of the Soviet peoples, bringing industrialization, services, healthcare, transportation, education, security and peace, today the wealth of the former republics goes to fatten the wallets of the satrap in office, the speculators, banks and the large companies. They are linked with the monopolies (think of Gazprom, Rosneft, Lukoil, Rusal, etc.), banks (Sberbank, VTB-Bank, Alfa Bank, Raffeinse Bank, the private pension fund Blagosostoyanie etc.) and political institutions that actually creates a higher stage, as we shall see in more detail.

We use numbers and statistics to support the argument: in the graph below we can see the evolution of the export of capital for capitalist Russia. In the early 90’s and substantially until the first years of the new decade, the share of Russian capital exported to the rest of the world was essentially irrelevant, both from a statistical and an economic point of view. As mentioned earlier, these were the years in which the wealth of the former Soviet Union was sold off and when the resurgent capital of the country was used to re-appropriate what the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the building of socialism afterwards had conquered. There was in essence a flight of capital (approximately $15-20 billion per year) to Western banks by the “neo-capitalists.” From this point onwards, however, Russian capitalism opened a new phase, one in which banking and industrial capital began to merge and where the export of capital begins to play a major role: this is the trend that, by consolidating year by year (the global economic crisis only slowed this process between 2007 and 2008) is making Russia a completely imperialist country.

<> Russia, Foreign Direct Investment
Source: Our graph based on figures from the World Bank

Source: Our graph based on figures from the World Bank

Beginning in 2000, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of the Russian monopolies has grown tremendously, reaching $406.2 billion in 2012 (it was $44.2 billion in 2001). [2]

Russia and the characteristics of imperialism

According to Forbes’ list, today there are 110 billionaires in Russia, whose private property is about $320 billion, putting Russia in third place (after the USA and China) in this ranking. The so-called Gini coefficient of the statistical analysis of inequality is equal to 41.7 in Russia.

In analyzing point by point the characteristics of imperialism (we will focus on the first three) expounded by Lenin, we can verify that the concentration of production in Russia was already well developed in the USSR; therefore, the formation of capitalist monopolies did not need many decades, but its concentration was inherited from the socialist economy by imposing private ownership on the means of production.

In Forbes’ list of the largest monopolies in the world there are 28 Russians, including Gazprom, Lukoil, Rosneft and Sberbank. The Russian economy is highly concentrated; in many sectors the level is higher than in the USA and in Germany. For example, in 2006 the proportion that the 10 largest monopolies in Russia contributed to the GDP was 28.9%, while in the USA it was 14.1%. Most sectors of the economy, energy, mechanical engineering, transportation and food production are highly monopolized. We can conclude that in Russia we are dealing with monopoly capitalism, highly concentrated, with a strong state presence.

As for the fusion between bank capital and industrial capital, this took place over time. Sberbank is one of the largest banks in the world, but VTB-Bank, Alfa Bank and the Bank Raffeinse also play a crucial role in the Russian economy: the large banking monopolies are closely linked to or belong to the industrial monopolies themselves. This is the case with Gazprom Bank, Uralsib, Promsvjas Bank. Recently, the Russian Communist Workers Party (RKRP-RPK) released a survey on this issue on its website, highlighting some 20 cases, [3] which we describe below.

Graphic on the property of the Russian oligarchs

Graphic on the property of the Russian oligarchs

The industrial group Gazprom owns Gazprombank and the private pension fund “Gazfond.” This largest Russian industrial monopoly group also owns the insurance group “Sogas” and runs the “Leader,” investment companies and pension funds. The well-known oligarch Vekselberg ownsRenova Holding (based in the Bahamas), which owns the Russian group “Renova,” an international private business company consisting of wealth management companies and investment funds that own shares in metal mines, oil companies, construction machinery, mining, energy, telecommunications, nanotechnology and in the financial sector in Russia and abroad. The Renova Group has strong investments and presence in major Russian and international companies, including world-renowned companies such as UC Rusal, Integrated Energy Systems, Oerlikon, Sulzer and SCHMOLZ + BICKENBACH. Moreover, Renova, has integrated direct investment funds and management companies operating in the energy sector (IES, Avelar Energy), in real estate development, in investment – “Columbus Nova,” telecommunications – “Akado Group,” the chemical industry – “Orgsyntes Group” and precious metals – “Zoloto Kamchatki.” The Renova Group invests in Russia, Switzerland, Italy, South Africa, Ukraine, Latvia, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, etc. The group also owns Metkombank, one of the largest banks in Russia, which aims to become one of the top 50 banks attractive to investors. This large banking group owns the “Non-Ferrous Metals Plant Kamensk-Ural,” a construction company – the “Kortros,” and participates in other major Russian companies.

At the same time, the oligarch Vekselberg owns a part of “UC Rusal,” the largest aluminum producer in the world, and is co-owner of “Norilsk Nickel,” a Russian nickel and palladium mining and smelting company. The oligarchs Alisher Usmanov, Vladimir Skoch and Farhad Moshiri own “Metalloinvest,” one of the largest mining and metallurgical groups in Russia, specializing in steel production, which owns the “Lebedinsky Michajlovskij” ore enrichment plants, the “Oskol Steel Works,” “Ural Steel” and other industries. At the same time until last year they owned the“Round Bank” (formerly Ferrobank), which was sold to their “friend” Leon Semenenko, who owns Hessen Holdings Ltd and Nenburg Finance Ltd, based in Cyprus, which each own 50% of SibConsultGroup LLC, currently the sole owner of Round Bank. In 2012, Usmanov, one of the richest men in the world, formed USM Holdings which includes numerous investments in telecommunications companies such as “Garsdale,” which controls about 50% of “MegaFon,” the second largest mobile phone operator in Russia, which in turn owns 100% of the “Scartel/Yota” company, a 4G provider, 50% of “Euroset,” the largest retailer of mobile phones in Russia. All these companies have interests and men in the Round Bank.

The oligarch Prokhorov owns a multitude of companies; to name just some of them, “Onexim Holdings Ltd” (based in Cyprus), which owns the group “OptoGaN,” producer of high-luminosity LEDs. This group, with headquarters in St. Petersburg and active in Finland and Germany, which is owned by various private investment funds (including particularly those of Prokhorov) and state funds. Prokhorov also owns one of the leading real estate companies in Russia, the “Opin” and “Quadra Power Generation,” leader of the Russian electricity sector. At the same time Prokhorov owns the “Renaissance Credit” bank and the largest investment company, “Renaissance Capital.” He also owns part of “Rusal.” Vladimir Yevtushenko, one of the richest men in Russia, owns a controlling part (64.2%) of the shares of “AFK System,” which owns “MTS-Bank” (which directly controls “RTI Group” the largest Russian industrial holding company that develops and manufactures high technology and microelectronic technology products), 89% of “Bashneft” (one of the major Russian oil companies) and 92% of the electricity distribution networks“Bashkiria.”

In addition to media and retail chains. Oleg Deripaska owns the investment company “Basic Element,” with shares in the energy, industrial, aviation, agro-business, textile, network and financial services sectors. He owns one of the major insurance (joint-stock) companies, “Ingosstrakh,” the big bank “Soyuz,” the private pension fund “Socium,” which serves the largest production facilities of “Basic Element,” one of the largest leasing companies in Russia, Element Leasing. He also owns the GAZ Group, leader in the Russian market for commercial vehicles, which produces buses, cars, electric trains, components, etc.

The “vodka king” Roustam owns the “Russian Standard Bank,” one of the largest Russian banks, the insurance company “Russian Standard Insurance” and “Russian Standard Vodka,” the most important company producing vodka. Agalarov owns the Crocus Group, a leading Russian real estate company, with dozens of construction and logistics companies, and the Crocus Bank. Russian Railways, one of the three largest transport companies (freight and passenger) in the world, owns the private pension fund “Blagosostoyanie,” which is wholly owned by Absolut Bank and a good part of the KIT Finance Bank. Dimitry Pumpyanskiy, through the Group “Ekaterinburg,” owns 98% of the “SKB-Bank,” and 71.1% of “TMK Steel.”

Anatoly Sedykh owns 80% of “United Metallurgical Company” (one of the largest Russian manufacturers of pipes, railway wheels and other steel products for energy, transportation and industrial companies) and 60% of the capital of “Metallinvest Bank.” Mikail Shishhanov owns 98.6% of “Bin Bank” as well as 95% of the construction company “INTEC.” Alekperov and Leonid Fedun have shares in Lukoil and in the IFH Capital group that owns the Bank Petrokomerts. Alekperov also has a stake in the finance company “Uralsib” and in the bank with the same name. The “Vneshtorg Bank,” which is state-owned, owns a construction company, “VTB-Development.” “Sberbank,” state-owned, owns the auto assembly plant “Derveis” in Cherkessk, the construction companies “Krasnaya Polyana” and “Rublyovo-Arkhangelsk” and others. “Rosneft”(part of “Rosneftegaz”) owns the “Russian Regional Development Bank.” The MDM Bank (that began as a foundation and now is one of the largest private banks in Russia) owns the “Siberian Coal Energy Company” (the largest coal producer in Russia and one of the leading exporters). They are shareholders of MDM Bank, large international financial institutions such as the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as well as one of the largest investment companies in Russia, Troika Capital Partners.

The Guta Group is one of the largest industrial and investment corporation and owns the United Confectioners Holding Company, leader in the confectionery market, owning most of the brands in this sector (about 1,700). The company is vertically integrated and performs the complete cycle of operations, from agriculture to the sale of the processed products. The Group owns Guta Insurance and Guta Bank (one of the top 20 Russian banks). It also owns hotels and even hospitals and private clinics. The holding company “Don Invest” includes the Commercial Bank Doninvest, and owns companies in the sectors of engineering and production of food, buses and cars. The Joint Stock Compan, Federal Research & Production Center ALTAI, owns the “National Industrial Land Bank” and a wide range of industries.

Most of the oligarchs have seats in the Duma, direct links with the state functionaries and with the political parties of the Russian bourgeoisie. We can therefore conclude by affirming the existence of a financial oligarchy in Russia, which is reflected in oligarchic political power, not homogeneous in the sense that there are certainly contrasts with oligarchic sectors linked to the “West” which advocate greater liberalization and privatization (already widely foreseen), which over the years have tried to also promote a “color revolution” in Russia.

Graphic on Russian banks

We have already mentioned the export of capital, pointing out the distinct change over the year 2000. The steady growth of the national economy and the relative strengthening of the main national enterprises have contributed to the rapid increase in the volume of investment, making Russia one of the leading international investors (without a doubt among the first ever in the “emerging” countries). With the acquisition of companies in other countries, Russian companies have access to new sources of resources, technology and markets, increasing their international competitiveness. It is an expansion that reinforces Russia’s geopolitical influence and strengthens its position in the global economy.

According to UNCTAD data, in the first half of the decade of 2000, foreign direct investment increased 3 or 4 times compared to the previous decade, exceeding $10 billion a year, in 2011 increasing 3 times compared to the previous period, where participation in capital and reinvested earningsrose to over $67.2 billion. In the last 3 years, Russian companies have been able to double the size of their foreign assets, as well as increase the size of their revenues more than two and a half times from their own assets.

Russian companies employ more than 150,000 workers abroad, more than twice as many as in 2000. As a result, the accelerated global expansion of major Russian companies has led them to assume the intrinsic characteristics of global multinationals.

The leading position in foreign assets is occupied by the oil, gas and steel companies: Lukoil, Gazprom, Severstal and Rusal, with a total value (referred to as the 4) of more than $50 billion in foreign assets. However the data, in relation to the global economy place Russia below the other powers. In 2012, Russian companies invested more than $139 billion in the acquisition of foreign companies (including the acquisition by Rosneft of BP for $56 billion), ending up with about 427 major operations; many of these operations have absorbed companies engaged in the same activity, so the Russian companies tend to focus their expansion at their core business and not on the diversification of their activity.

Although this trend has been changing since 2012, according to the data of 2012, the volume of direct investment by Russian companies abroad represented 17% of the total value of their domestic investment, and about 20 companies control 40% of all foreign assets.

The export of capital by Russian banks is carried out either in the form of direct investments or of acquisition of foreign services, or by investing in foreign financial instruments, including securities, deposits in foreign banks or loans to legal entities. During the 1990s and the early 2000s, the volume of exports of funds by Russian credit institutions was relatively small, amounting to no more than $3.4 billion a year (but one must not forget that already at that time there was the acquisition by Alfa Bank of the Trade Bank of Amsterdam). Since 2005, the export of capital by the banking sector has accelerated sharply. In 2011, it reached $32 billion, an increase of more than nine times over 2000 (data from the Bank of Russia). With the increase in the financial capacity of the major Russian banks, which have increasingly invested in the expansion of their own international presence through the acquisition of existing foreign companies and the creation of foreign subsidiaries, so that in the first months of 2013, most of the major Russian banks owned their own subsidiary banks abroad. In particular, over the past four years VTB-Bank has established branches in Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Georgia, investing more than $400 million, and also consolidating its participation in Western European banks, and opening branches in India, China, Vietnam and Angola. VTB is now able to provide a high level of financial support to Russian companies in over 15 countries of the CIS [Confederation of Independent States], Western Europe, Asia and Africa, , aiming by 2020 to be the first and only global financial institution in banking services of the post-Soviet era

Furthermore, a special feature of the banking sector. which the World Bank has expressly “recommended” as a remedy (advice that was promptly implemented), is to present a high break down of institutes due to barriers to entrance in very low sectors. Also in its report on Russia the World Bank noted this difference with the other BRICS countries, but emphasizes in each case, made the necessary interventions, that the large Russian banks (including the state-owned ones) play a dominant role and have no problems supporting requests for large amounts of capital.

Therefore we can conclude that the economic structure of the USSR and that of Russia are totally opposite and not comparable. It is not a matter of being for or against Russia, or for or against Putin, but of scientifically analyzing the real nature of each country, without the mystification or idealism typical of the opportunists who seek to separate imperialism from its economic base. Starting from this, even the current conflict on Ukrainian territory has to be seen from the viewpoint of a dispute between capitalist giants (such as for example Chevron and Gazprom) and in more general terms of a dispute between the great imperialist powers competing in the division of territories and markets, looking for a better position in the imperialist pyramid, with the bloody intervention on Ukrainian territory by the United States and the EU (whose warmongering escalation has even led to the downing of an airplane with more than 300 dead), which have instigated, financed and organized a sector of the Ukrainian oligarchy that has established a fascist warmongering junta, to put themselves under the influence of the Atlantic bloc and market by preventing Ukraine from joining the Customs Union led by Russia, as was instead desired by another sector of the bourgeoisie. [4]

It is this contention over markets, resources, labor power, routes and territories that is linked to the needs of the institutions of transnational capitalist associations, the various Free Trade Agreements, military accords, etc. whose nature is always determined by the relations of production and the interests of the monopolies, not (exclusively) of geographic position. At the same time, this does not mean that “every imperialism” has the same characteristics, but they do have the same origin in the development of monopoly capitalism and the need to go beyond national confines.

Another enemy or an opportunity?

At this point we can judge that the real nature of this country is well-established, it is by now completely imperialist (though not at the top of the pyramid), where industrial capital has merged with bank capital, and where the big monopolies play a fundamental role. Obviously, however, this country, besides being totally opposed to a socialist system and far from representing any “model” to adopt, is opening up interesting scenarios at the international level: the confrontation with the United States, up to now the most powerful and hegemonic imperialism at the global level, the advance of other “emerging” great powers such as China, Brazil, China, India and South Africa (the so-called BRICS countries) is creating huge rifts in the economic and political balance.

We can therefore say that Russia, as well as China, are the main “enemies” of Yankee unipolarity, which was manifested in particular after 1989 with the barbarity of the wars in former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. To what is this situation related? First, this is due to the uneven development of capitalism, and the crisis which, since 2008 in its most acute phase, has affected the major imperialist centers (USA, EU and Japan), while the countries now grouped in BRICS have experienced a rapid development (although this varied among them) to the point that today they have founded a new international Bank, an alternative to the IMF and World Bank, overturning Bretton Woods [5] after 70 years

These events can be considered positive in the sense that they weaken US domination and open spaces and diplomatic confrontations that can be very useful. For example, the Russian and Chinese opposition to the UN “peace” intervention in Syria, prevented the repetition of the Libyan scene of a few years earlier. This allowed the Syrian government to effectively cope with the hordes of Islamic mercenaries, supplied by the USA and other imperialist powers (such as France), which are now bloodying Iraq. (For further reading, see:

This is an indication of the change in the balance of power at the international level, but does it indicate a change in the level of opposition between the “imperialist camp” and the “anti-imperialist and socialist” camp, as in the years of the existence of the socialist camp? But why was Syria defended while Gaddafi’s Libya was shamefully abandoned? Have the supporters, if one can define them as such, of Putin already forgotten the heroic resistance of the Libyan people, “abandoned” by everyone?

The division of Libya’s economic resources, oil in the first place, among the great powers (without exception) has in fact condemned the experience of the Libyan Jamahiriya: US, European, Russian and Asian monopolies have flung themselves like vultures on the ruins of a country and a people martyred by NATO with the consent of the UN. A socialist country, based on the principle of proletarian internationalism, would never have allowed such a massacre: indeed it was the very existence of the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc that allowed the emancipation and liberation took place in Asia, Africa and Central and South America, accelerating the process of decolonization, establishing an “international law,” based on a balance of power favorable to the people.

Another very recent example is what is taking place in the Middle East: “I support Israel’s fight in an attempt to defend its citizens. I have also heard of the shocking murder of the three young people. This is an act that cannot be permitted, and I ask you to convey my condolences to the families,” Putin said during a long meeting held in Moscow with a delegation of rabbis, led by the Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and composed of the former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar, and the rabbis of the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE). [6]

Without going into too much detail on the Palestinian issue (for further reading, see: it is evident that, perceiving the various diplomatic tightropes, these are some incredible claims (for an “anti-imperialist”): “I support Israel’s fight” to “defend its citizens.” While the masses of people around the world took to the streets (and are still doing so) to support the right to self-determination and freedom of the Palestinian people against the shameful and terrible acts of war of the Israeli armed forces, the Russian president not only declares support for Israel but adds that this is necessary to defend its citizens. It is clear to everyone how bombing a ghetto (which they did in the Gaza Strip), killing hundreds of women and children, is an act of defense, isn’t it? We are still asking, why “comrade” Putin?

There are economic interests at stake (among the many actions taken one can also count the agreement signed by the Russian president with large financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and BlackRock? [7] in support of the national companies, the exchange of favors, the different situations of equilibrium to be maintained or changed, and every government legitimately plays the game. That, once again, however, is not that of the popular masses, of the workers and of course of the communists. An example is the struggle for the exploitation of gas and oil fields off the coast of Israel (such as Leviathan, Dalit and Tamar), with Russia’s Gazprom intending to set its sights on these supplies to the Asian markets to prevent them from being exploited by the European monopolies, which would put at risk the monopoly of Russian supplies to Europe. These are the real interests at stake.

The crux of the issue to be resolved is the following: in what way and to what extent can the “New Architecture” (proposed by BRICS) of the world order be beneficial to the people?

One myth to be dispelled is the question of “independence.” We Marxists cannot assess the role played in recent years by BRICS in the international division of labor, with many multinationals that have been established in some of these countries, and the relations of interdependence and dependence developed by these countries with the others, on the basis of which we can state that one cannot speak of “two worlds” but of old and new (monopoly) capitalist powers that converge at the top of the pyramid of the international imperialist system. To repeat what was mentioned before, the uneven development of capitalism, the internal dynamic of capitalism is leading today to a slowdown in these economies, which are suffering from the contradictions and effects of the general crisis. The birth of Brics Bank can only be seen within the inter-imperialist dynamics of the trade in raw materials (the fall in prices of raw materials), the erosion of the heavy investment of the imperialist centers in these countries and their development, which requires “disengaging” from the danger of the financial control of the USA (IMF and WB), developing new economic and political strategies to offset the losses on the European markets and strengthen the interdependence between them, developing their respective markets and carving out more space in the global framework.

The growth of the BRICS has indeed slowed down compared to previous years; China, which in the period 2006-2012 had maintained an average GDP growth of 10.4% is today at 7.4%, the same applies to India, which went from 7.8% to 4.6%. Russia went from 4.3% to 1.4%, while Brazil went from 2.7% to 2.3%. It is in the observation of these dynamics that some comrades often fall into error, that is, they consider today all existing relations as a domination of the “colonial” type by a few imperialist powers (mainly the United States and Germany), defending in this way the supposed common interests between the “bourgeoisie” (which is in fact monopolistic and internationalized) and the “proletariat” of these countries, marginalizing the class struggle, ignoring the analysis of the economic structure of each country (monopoly capitalism) and the objective necessity of extending it to the global market, of connecting it to the processes of globalization of capitalism, of the expansion of international trade and the attraction of investment capital.

The UNCTAD data [8] for the years from 2000 to 2012 show that the inflows of FDI (a very important criterion for determining the internationalization of production) towards the BRICS has more than tripled, reaching $263 billion dollars in 2012, increasing during the period of crisis and in 2012 coming to represent 20% of world flows compared to 6% in 2000. At the same time the BRICS countries have also become important investors, with their Foreign Direct Investment, going from $7 billion in 2000 to $126 billion in 2012, accounting for 9% of world flows. Only ten years ago, their share was 1.1%. China is the largest investor among the BRICS countries (the third overall), with a total of almost $425 billion of FDI in the whole world. Almost half (46%) of the FDI inflows in 2012 towards the BRICS went to China, followed by Brazil (25%), Russia (17%) and India (10%), while the largest share of investments by the BRICS went to the developed economies, particularly the European Union (34%), driven by market research, mergers and acquisitions. Another important share is towards Africa (where China is the largest investor) with a share of FDI that has gone from 14% (in 2010) to 25%, with a particular increase in manufacturing.

The expansion of Russian multinationals in Africa is fairly recent but growing rapidly. RusAl, the largest aluminum producer in the world, is present in Angola, Guinea, Nigeria and South Africa, as well as banks such as Vneshtorgbank, which opened in Angola, Namibia and Ivory Coast, while Renaissance Capital holds 25% of the shares of Ecobank, one of the largest Nigerian banks. The investment among the BRICS was relatively limited until 2012, although it has grown rapidly rising from 0.1 in 2003 to 2.5 in 2011 and this will be the characterization of the next few years (with the Brics Bank).

In 2013, the FDI by the multinationals from countries classified as on the road of development reached $454 billion, a record. Along with the economies classified as in transition, they represent 39% of global FDI outflows, compared to only 12% at the beginning of the 2000 decade. Increasingly, the multinationals of the countries on the road of development are acquiring foreign subsidiaries of multinationals from the developed countries.


Russia has taken a big leap forward, both in terms of its own outflows as well as in inflows of FDI, which rose from 9th place to 3rd (behind the USA and China) for a value of $94 billion.


The share of FDI inflows towards the BRICS in 2013 represents 21% for a total value of $304 billion, 10% more than in 2007. The most important fact is that trade among the BRICS countries today already represents 17% of world trade, amounting to $6,140 billion dollars.


Latin America and the Caribbean have been the region where foreign direct investment has grown most in 2010 (15-25%), in a crisis, at the expense of the industrialized countries, which recorded a regression (- 1%) in the same period. These capitals have been transformed into new plants, offices, productive units, etc. In this way, the region has seen an increase in production of 13%, while at the same period the developed economies have recorded an increase of 8%.

Investments in South America were mainly in natural resources (43% of FDI inflows into the region have gone into the area that produces 31% of world production of bio-fuels, 48% of soy, 47% of copper and 31% of meat), while in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean into the manufacturing industry (54% in the case of Mexico, mostly to the aerospace, food processing, automotive, medical equipment, electrical, electronics and energy sectors, in that order), in both cases, in order to supply the international market. This flow has strengthened the role assigned to these countries in the international division of the market, strengthening the interdependence of these economies, both compared to the economies where the capital is transferred as well as compared to the economies in which the products of these investments are realized, are consumed. The capital is intertwined, and has been redirected from the major centers of production to the peripheral countries, in search of maximum profit.

Let us look at the example of Brazil (the largest recipient of foreign investment and the country with the second largest foreign investment in South America). Immediately evident to the eyes (but often forgotten), the occupation of Haiti by Brazil together with the USA, as well as the sale of arms to Colombia, which contributes to the repression by the regime against the FARC-EP and the popular masses, the peasants and workers. Staying on this issue, in recent years the importance of industrial monopolies of arms has grown significantly in Brazil, as has happened in Israel, one of the countries from which there originated a considerable part of the resources invested, with large capital flows and supplies of resources and arms from Israel to Brazil, for business which during the past 12 years amounted to 1 billion reals. [9]  To continue our analysis of the relations with Israel, one can look at the free trade agreements and the consequent flow between the Zionist state and Mercosur (the same type of analysis could be made of the relations between the latter and the EU).

To better understand the relation between international and national capital in the monopoly stage, in reference to Brazil, we continue with the description by Edmilson Costa:

If we look from the point of view of ownership, we can also see that of these 100 largest economic groups, 58% are of mostly domestic capital, while 42% are controlled by foreign capital. But if we look, for example, at industry, which is the most dynamic sector of the economy, one that creates new wealth, we see that the participation of foreign capital is higher than that of national capital […] the vast majority of the national capital groups are associated, at a certain point of their economic activity, with foreign capital, as long as it is functional, because it opens up areas for action in the international market and to become a major player in international financial flows. These data also clearly show not only the degree of concentration of the Brazilian economy, but above all the level of the relations between national and foreign capital, that is, the organic link between the Brazilian economy and the central economies. In almost all the dynamic sectors of the economy, such as the automobile industry, information technology, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, metallurgy, among others, international capital hegemonises the production process. Similarly, even in the traditional sectors, where national capital has always been in the majority, such as finance, commerce and agribusiness, foreign capital is advancing dramatically in recent years. Monopoly capital is generally concentrated in the large cities, organizing in its logic all the other more vulnerable sectors of capital and interconnecting the Brazilian economy in a subordinate manner to the leading centers and to the financial flows of international capital. The same thing happened in the countryside […] Consequently, this situation puts an end to the old illusions of a possible alliance between the proletariat and sectors of the Brazilian bourgeoisie, as some forces of the left imagine, because this national bourgeoisie is not national and its interests are organically linked to the interests of large international capital.” [10]

Such examples should make it clear that what is developing is a struggle within the global capitalist market for the conquest of shares and positions of the same, on the basis of monopoly interests in search of better conditions for the increase in value of their capital, with strong relations of interdependence (which also achieved temporary international agreements) and at the same time with (ever greater) antagonism at certain levels [11] with the major imperialist powers that exploit alliances with other capitalist countries in one or another region through economic, diplomatic and military means to increase their influence and reduce the support for their adversary.

There is no doubt that the characteristics of the BRICS are different from the imperialist centers (in particular the USA and the EU), but this is only derived from the current level of development of the former. And this often leads to errors. In this later period comes the news of the strengthening of relations between Germany, Russia and China, another clear indication of the change in the international relations of power among the global capitalist powers.

With the Tran Eurasia Express the huge Chinese market will be connected to Europe, passing through Russia; at the same time, these three powers are linked by strong relationships in the supply of gas going from Russia to Germany and in 2018 to China. The maneuvers of the German bourgeoisie show the attempts to become a world (and not just regional) power, unlocking itself (up to a certain point) from the Western bloc to navigate in the global market with more and more interlinking with China and Russia.

The flag of multipolarity cannot be a communist flag, since this is an illusion in relation to the interests of the people, the proletariat and peace, “because there are two worlds in contention, but the continuation of capitalism in its imperialist phase in all these cases […] The new architecture is the prolongation of imperialism through a new division of markets, labor power and raw materials. The change from one imperialist center to another, from one exploiter to another, is not an alternative. […] One cannot deny the communist movement or any country in which it is possible to break the imperialist chain at its weakest link (this is properly the role of the active participation of the class forces in the struggle of the popular militias in the nascent People’s Republics of Novorossija that we support), the implementation of tactics in this sense, but sooner or later antagonisms will be clear”. [12] As mentioned at the beginning, Leninism teaches us a sense of reality to make use of every contradiction produced by the imperialist system, but keeping well in mind the strategic vision in which every step must end up with the strengthening of the independent class perspective, which requires the distinction between the interests of the opposing classes in each and every event that takes place.

To try to unravel the tangle, let us learn from Lenin and from his approach to “multipolarity” and the First World War (it is not unnecessary to note that there has never been such a multipolar world as that which led to the First World War). In “Under a False Flag” [13] (written in 1915, during the First World War), the great Russian revolutionary responded forcefully to the arguments of A. Potresov according to whom (on the basis of Marx) it was necessary to determine the success of which side opened up broader vistas for possibilities desirable from their point of view. It is true, replied Lenin; Marx explicitly poses the question of “the success of which side is more desirable.” But it is misleading, he said, to reiterate that statement a half century later, in which Marx was referring to the confrontation between progressives in the bourgeois movements and feudal, monarchical and absolutist forces.

Therefore, says Lenin, “Marx’s method consists, first of all, in taking due account of the objective content of a historical process at a given moment, in definite and concrete conditions; this in order to realise, in the first place, the movement of which class is the mainspring of the progress possible in those concrete conditions. In 1859, it was not imperialism that comprised the objective content of the historical process in continental Europe, but national-bourgeois movements for liberation. The mainspring was the movement of the bourgeoisie against the feudal and absolutist forces.” […]

Let us suppose that two countries are at war in the epoch of bourgeois, national-liberation movements. Which country should we wish success to from the standpoint of present-day democracy? Obviously, to that country whose success will give a greater impetus to the bourgeoisie’s liberation movement, make its development more speedy, and undermine feudalism the more decisively. Let us further suppose that the determining feature of the objective historical situation has changed, and that the place of capital striving for national liberation has been taken by international, reactionary and imperialist finance capital. The former country, let us say, possesses three-fourths of Africa, whereas the latter possesses one-fourth. A repartition of Africa is the objective content of their war. To which side should we wish success? It would be absurd to state the problem in its previous form, since we do not possess the old criteria of appraisal: there is neither a bourgeois liberation movement running into decades, nor a long process of the decay of feudalism. It is not the business of present-day democracy either to help the former country to assert its ‘right’ to three-fourths of Africa, or to help the latter country (even if it is developing economically more rapidly than the former) to take over those three-fourths.

“Present-day democracy will remain true to itself only if it joins neither one nor the other imperialist bourgeoisie, only if it says that the two sides are equally bad, and if it wishes the defeat of the imperialist bourgeoisie in every country. Any other decision will, in reality, be national-liberal and have nothing in common with genuine internationalism.” […]

We are undoubtedly living at the juncture of two epochs, and the historic events that are unfolding before our eyes can be understood only if we analyse, in the first place, the objective conditions of the transition from one epoch to the other. Here we have important historical epochs; in each of them there are and will always be individual and partial movements, now forward now backward; there are and will always be various deviations from the average type and mean tempo of the movement. We cannot know how rapidly and how successfully the various historical movements in a given epoch will develop, but we can and do know which class stands at the hub of one epoch or another, determining its main content, the main direction of its development, the main characteristics of the historical situation in that epoch, etc. Only on that basis, i.e., by taking into account, in the first place, the fundamental distinctive features of the various ‘epochs’ (and not single episodes in the history of individual countries), can we correctly evolve our tactics; only a knowledge of the basic features of a given epoch can serve as the foundation for an understanding of the specific features of one country or another.”

The proponents of today’s theses on “multipolarity,” namely the progressive role of the monopoly bourgeoisie that is antagonistic to “strong Western imperialism,” reiterate the same opportunist theses which Lenin fought against as they are placed on the positions “of another class, and moreover of an old and outmoded class […].” Therefore it is not a coincidence that the proponents of this thesis are those who speak of “intermediate steps” between capitalism and socialism, who postpone the revolutionary tasks of the working class to an indefinite future, advocating inter-class alliances with a presumed (in fact non-existent) “national bourgeoisie,” that they should form an alliance with one imperialist camp instead of another. A political camp that hides or tries to insinuate itself into the international workers’ and communist movement, sowing confusion, tailism and demobilization, including the Party of the European Left (known for its support, for example, of the European Union and in fact also of NATO) or the proponents of interstate (bourgeois) alliances of southern Europe to end up with the open (so-called) red-brown infiltrating groups [Nazi-Bolsheviks] and a supposed Italic national-bourgeois struggle linked to the “new Eurasian power.” To always say with Lenin, they “have betrayed the standpoint of the class which they are trying hard to represent, are following in the wake of the bourgeoisie.

At 100 years since the First World War, it is once again the struggle between revolutionaries and opportunists concerning the international situation. The recent declaration of the World Federation of Democratic Youth says:

The First World War “was the terrifying revelation of the results of the monopoly stage of capitalism. The millions of deaths and huge disasters involving countries from all continents, will forever be a reminder of the results of the imperialist conflicts and aggression; it will always be a reminder of the fact that the imperialist alliances serve the interests of the bourgeoisie of each country, but not the interests of the people […]

“Today we can see how history repeats itself, with new imperialist alliances, regroupments and continuous increases in military actions. Changes in frontiers and alliances that take place, usually violently, are creating sparks which may lead to wider conflicts and international wars […]

“As part of the international anti-imperialist movement, as progressive young men and women, we honor the victims of the great imperialist war. Our struggle for peace and friendship among the peoples, our struggle to overthrow imperialism is what brings the hope of a better future for humanity, for a necessary progress. As the Great October Revolution was born from the ruins of the First World War, we are committed to defeat imperialism to bring peace between the peoples.” [14]

To really understand all these events we have no other way than to study imperialism and Lenin, who often enlightens us wisely. It is precisely because the world is constantly changing that we need clarity in the process of internationalization of the productive forces, of the competitive struggle and resulting wars between capitalist countries for the redivision of the world on the basis of the uneven development of the capitalist countries and the relation of interdependence between them (the world imperialist system). This means to be politically, ideologically and organizationally consistent in performing the tasks that history imposes on the communists. And these tasks cannot be other than those of fighting the “imperialism at home” (which means, overthrow of the bourgeois power in Italy, withdrawal from the EU and NATO) by all means (rejecting rancid imperialist pacifism), the active solidarity of the proletariat and real international cooperation (for example, with the People’s Republics of Novorossija), the formation of the international unity of the communists, the class independence in the struggle against “any inter-state capitalist alliance” in the realization that the future of the people will be in their own hands only with the overthrow of the bourgeois power in each country, the socialization of the means of production, production and distribution not for profit but for the satisfaction of the needs of the people. The “communist’” organizations and their companions who support the Islamic and terrorist rabble in Syria, the Nazi-fascists in Ukraine in the name of “democracy,” the liberator “comrade Putin” have only two alternatives. Either use Marxism-Leninism as a “toolbox” or finally and honestly declare, which side are you on.


1) “Imperialism and the Split in Socialism”, Lenin, 1916, Collected Works, vol. 23, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964, pp. 105-120, available at:


3) Article in Russian by the Russian Communist Workers Party, (a member of the Initiative of the Communist and Workers Parties of Europe), which describes the link between bank and industrial capital:

4) The intervention in Ukraine by the USA, the EU and NATO is part of a single theater of war that is being developed from Ukraine to the south-east of the Mediterranean to the Middle East and Africa, affecting many countries: Palestine, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Mali, Central African Republic, Sudan, Chad, Ivory Coast, etc. Not to forget the coups (in Honduras and Paraguay), and attempted coups (in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador) in the region of South America. The war in Eastern Europe has the aim of expanding NATO towards the east (as shown by the recent accords at the summit in Wales) with the establishment of bases and fixed detachments ready for action, at Russia’s doorstep.

5) The 70 Years of Bretton Woods, the World Bank and the IMF, by Eric Toussaint. Available in Italian at:


7) “Investors to back Russian groups prior to IPOs.” Article in the Financial Times, June 21, 2012. Available at:,Authorised=false.html?

8) The FDI data can be found at various sources, while reporting this time slight differences, confirming the same trends. The UNCTAD data can be found on the website:

9) Article in Portuguese on the web-site of the Brazilian Communist Party on the Brazilian war industry and its relations with Israel: The Brazilian war industry and Israel. Available at:

10) The social explosion knocks at the door of the World Cup, by Edmilson Costa (Brazilian Communist Party). Also note the data on the monopoly concentration in the Brazilian economy. Available in Italian at:

11) An example of this is the recent war of sanctions between the USA, EU and Russia, for further reading: The War of Sanctions and the Imperialist Spiral by Alexander Mustillo. Available in Italian at:

12) Multipolarity: Two Worlds, or Inter-Imperialist Dispute? By Pavel Blanco Cabrera, First Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party of Mexico. Available in Spanish at:

13) Under a False Flag, Lenin, 1915, Collected Works, vol. 21, Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964, p. 135-157, available at:

14) Declaration of the WFDY for the 100 years since the First World War. Available in Italian at:


Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism: Conclusion & References

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”


1) The Marxist-Leninists have always stood against both anti-Semitism and Zionism.
To be anti-Zionist is not equivalent to being an anti-Semite or anti-Jewish.
It is the Zionists – both in the past and in their current manifestations as the supporters of Israel in its present imperialist puppet state from – that confuse progressives by insisting that they are the same.

2) Revisionists used the tactic of confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism
The distortion of anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism formed part of the revisionist underground campaign to subvert the USSR from socialism.
It reached a peak under the so called “Doctor’s Plot.”

That more will be learnt about all of the episodes discussed in this report, is certain. Until further data becomes clear to Marxists-Leninists however, the role of Stalin in supporting the establishment of a partitioned Palestine for a Zionist Israel – is extremely unlikely.

This was a policy foisted upon the USSR by the revisionists led by Gromyko, Ponomorev and Manuilsky.



Alliance Marxist-Leninist (Available from address cited page 3 of this report or contact via <>;
Compass (Available from: <>
Science cited re Sudoplatov’s allegations;
Several Soviet journals have been cited; but were not read by Alliance; & so these are also cited by the authors used by Alliance to compile the information in this report;

World Wide Web Sites Used In This Report:

1) For several citations on the positions of Jews in Europe especially pre-revolutionary Russia: See “Beyond The Pale”; found at the site:
<> ;
2) For citations from Lenni Brenner’s book: See: Web site of International Secretariat of the War & Holocaust Tales Ancient Amateurs’ Association; (WHOTAAAN) in 1996; E-Mail: <>; the book itself is referenced also below;
3) For some citations on cold war and world war II policy of West to USSR; see “A Decade of American Foreign Policy : Basic Documents, 1941-49”; Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC: 1950. Found on the WWW: World War II Page WW II Conferences Page; Avalon Home Page: William C. Fray & Lisa A. Spar.
4) For some citations upon the USSR efforts for a bomb; Cold War International History Project; Web Site: “Research Notes: the Russian Nuclear Declassification Project: Setting Up the A-bomb Effort, 1946”; by G. A. Goncharov, N. I. Komov, A. S. Stepanov;
5) For various documents from the USSR archives; here we cite: From A Document On The Web: The Jewish Anti-fascist Committee Jewish in the USSR 21 June 1946: To Comrade M. A. Suslov, Director Section for Foreign Policy Central >Committee of the Communist Party; Site is at: <>
6) For the quotations from Marx on The Jewish Question – analysed in detail in the Appendix; See: <>


Axell, Albert: “Stalin’s War Through the Eyes of His Commanders”; New York; 1997;
Arch Getty J & Roberta T. Manning Eds: “Stalinist Terror, New Perspectives.” Cambridge, 1993.
Bland W.B.: “The Doctors Case & The Death Of Stalin”; Stalin Society; London nd ca 1992;
Bland W.B.; “Restoration of Capitalism In the USSR”; London; 1981; also at home pages of Alliance.
Bland W.B. for ML Research Bureau; Report No.2; London; nd circa 1992;
Brenner, Lenni: Zionism in the Age of Dictators; 1983, Kent;
Chaney, Preston: “Zhukov”; 1976; Norman Oklahoma=
Dallin D.J. “Soviet Foreign Policy After Stalin”; Philadelphia 1961
Degras J (Ed); “The Communist International 1919-1943; Documents” Vol 1; London; 1971;
Deriabin Peter: “Watchdogs of Terror: Russian bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars”; USA; 1984;
Etinger Iakov; “The Doctors’ Plot: Stalin’s Solution to the Jewish Question”; in Editor: Yaacov Ro’i: “Jews & Jewish Life in Russia & the Soviet Union”; London; 1995;
Elon Amos; “Rothschild”; London;
Gromyko A. “Memoirs”; New York; 1989;
Gromyko A.A. & Ponomorev B.N. Edited: “Soviet Foreign Policy; 1945-1980”; Volume II; Moscow; 1980;
Grey I: “Stalin: Man of History”; London; 1979;
Holloway, David: “Stalin and the Bomb”; New Haven, 1994;
Knight, Amy: “Beria-Stalin’s First Lieutenant”; Princeton New Jersey 1993;
Khruschev N.S.: Secret Speech to 20th party Congress; CPSU, In: “The anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A Selection of Documents”; New York; 1956;
Laquer Walter; “A History of Zionism”; New York; 1976;
Levytsky B: “The Uses Of Terror: The Soviet State Security: 1917-1970”; London; 1971;
Leon Abraham; “The Jewish Question-A Marxist Interpretation”; New York; 1970;
Lenin V.I;: “The Position of Bund In The Party”; 1903; Works; vol 7; Moscow 1986;
Lenin “Critical Remarks National Question” In “Lenin On USA”; p. 87; or From Vols 20; Works;
Lenin; “Right Of Nations to Self Determination”; Sel Wks; Vol 1; Moscow; 1977; or Works vol 20;
Lenin V.I: “Does the Jewish proletariat need an independent political party”; Iskra 1903; Works; Mos; 1985; Vol 6
Marx; Letter to Ruge A; March 13th 1843;
Marx., “British Rule in India”: the collection: “Marx & Engels On Britain.” Moscow; 1971;
Marx: “On the Jewish Question” – >Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher=- Vol 3 Marx and Engels Collected Works;
Marx; “The Holy Family”; The Jewish Question. Volume 4; CW; Moscow; 1975;
Marx K; “Capital” Volume 1; Chapter 1; Section 4;
Padover Saul K.; “Introduction” In Volume 5, “On Religion”; The Karl Marx Library; New York; 1974
Pinkus Benjamin: “The Jews of the Soviet Union”; Cambridge; 1988;
Ro’i, Yaacov (ed) “Jews & Jewish Life in Russia & The Soviet Union”; London 1995;
Rapoport Y: “‘The Doctor’s Plot’, Stalin’s Last Crime”: London; 1991;
Resis Albert: “Stalin, the Politburo & the Onset of the Cold War. 1945-1946”, no.701, CB Papers; Pittsburgh 1988;
Reale Eugenio: “The Founding of the Cominform,” In M. M.Drachkovitch and Branko Lazitch (Eds): “The Comintern: Historical Highlights: Essays Recollection &Documents”; Stanford (USA); 1966;
Redlich, Shimon: “Propaganda and Nationalism in Wartime Russia-The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR, 1941-1948”; 1982; USA;
Sudoplatov Pavel &; with JL &LP Schecter: “Special Tasks”; Boston; 1995;
Stalin J.: “Works” Moscow; 1956; Vol 2; “Marxism and the National Question”;
Strizhov Iurii: “The Soviet Position on the Establishment of the State of Israel”; London; 1995;
Tawney R.H. “Religion & The Rise of Capitalism”; London; 1975;
Teller, Judd T: “The Kremlin, The Jews and the Middle East”; p.106.New York; 1957;
Vaksberg Arkady; “Stalin Against the Jews”; New York; 1994;
Wilson E.M.: “Decision On Palestine – How the US Came to Recognise Israel”; Stanford; 1979;
Weinberg Robert; “Stalin’s Forgotten Zion – Birobidzhan & the Making of A Soviet Jewish Homeland, An Illustrated History 1928-1996.” Berkeley 1998;
Wolin S & Slusser R: “The Soviet Secret Police”; London; 1957;
Zubok, Vladislav & Pleshakov, Constantine “Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War – From Stalin to Khrushchev”; Cambridge Mass; 1996.


The Doctor’s Plot


This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”

Over this entire period another phenomena was taking place, the distortion of a legitimate anti-cosmopolitanism campaign into an illegitimate anti-Semitic campaign. An increasing number of articles in the press accused persons of “Cosmopolitanism,” but:

“More and more the attacks take an anti-Jewish character, as most of the attacked bear distinctly Jewish names, often given in brackets next to their Russified names. From November 1948 onward, the Soviet authorities start a deliberate campaign to liquidate what is left of Jewish culture. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee is dissolved, its members arrested. Jewish literature is removed from bookshops and libraries, and the last two Jewish schools are closed. Jewish theatres, choirs and drama groups, amateur as well as professional, are dissolved. Hundreds of Jewish authors, artists, actors and journalists are arrested. During the same period, Jews are systematically dismissed from leading positions in many sectors of society, from the administration, the army, the press, the universities and the legal system. Twenty-five of the leading Jewish writers arrested in 1948 are secretly executed in Lubianka prison in August 1952. The anti-Jewish campaign culminates in the arrest, announced on January 13, 1953, of a group of ‘Saboteurs-Doctors’ accused of being paid agents of Jewish-Zionists organizations and of planning to poison Soviet leaders. Fears spread in the Jewish community that these arrests and the show trial that is bound to follow serve as a pretext for the deportation of Jews to Siberia. But on March 5, 1953, Stalin unexpectedly dies. The ‘Doctor”s Plot’ was exposed as a fraud, the accused are released, and deportation plans, already discussed in the Politburo, are dropped.”

Web site Beyond The Pale; Op Cit:

The class struggle in the USSR was culminating in a frenzied atmosphere, where one strand that was being used by the revisionists was a mounting awareness of an anti-Semitic campaign. This melded the closing of the JAFC into the new plot – the so called “Doctor’s Plot”:

“On 12 August 1952, a group of former JAFC members, convicted by the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court, were put before a firing squad. Many other people of Jewish nationality – 110 in all -were arrested in connection with the JAG case on charges of ‘espionage’ and “anti-Soviet Jewish nationalist activity.” At the time of the trial of the JAG members, preparation of the Doctors’ Plot reached its final stage.”

Iakov Etinger; “The Doctors’ Plot,” Ibid; p. 104.

The Doctor’s Plot was according to the Khruschevite revisionists, entirely the fabrication of Stalin, and they claim credit as the ones who exonerated the Doctors named:

“Stalin… issued orders to arrest a group of eminent Soviet medical specialists.. When we examined this “case” after Stalin’s death, we found it to be fabricated from beginning to end.”

N.S.Khruschev: Secret Speech to 20th party Congress; CPSU, In: “The anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A Selection of Documents”; New York; 1956; p.64.

However it is known that Stalin was dubious about the whole notion of the “Doctors’ Plot.”

When he was first informed his reaction was characteristically blunt.
When Stalin first heard about the alleged “Doctors’s Plot” he dismissed it.
It should also be noted that Stalin’s death was certainly not caused by inappropriate medical attention – but in sharp contrast – by the very deliberate lack or withholding of medical attention. (See Bland’s chronology of events in “Death Of Stalin”; Ibid.)

In 1948, an allegation was made by a Dr Lydia Timashuk, described as a “rank-and-file” doctor, against medical experts. She alleged there had been:

“intentional distortions in medical conclusions made by major medical experts who served as consultants in the hospital. She exposed their criminal designs and thus opened the eyes of security bodies to the existence of the infamous conspiracy.”

Rapoport Y: “Doctors’s Plot: Stalin’s Last Crime”: London; 1991; p.77.

Although Khrushchev alleged that Stalin was behind “this ignominious case,” (Khrushchev secret speech op cit; p. 65) other commentators tell us that:

“Stalin had strong doubts about Timashuk’s allegations.”

Grey I: “Stalin: Man of History”; London; 1979; p.461.

And Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva wrote:

“My father’s housekeeper told me not long ago that my father was extremely distressed at the turn events took… She was waiting on table as usual, when my father remarked that he did not believe the doctors were ‘dishonest’ and that the only evidence against them, after all were the ‘reports’ of Dr. Timashuk.”

Alliyeuva S; ibid; p.215.

Again it is only Khrushchev or Sudoplatov, who can confirm that Stalin supposedly “changed his mind” after a full investigation. (Khrushchev N: “Khrushchev Remembers”; London; 1971; p.283).

Victor Abakumov, was placed in charge of the investigation of Dr Timashuk’s allegations. It was in 1950 that the first arrest took place, with that of Dr Yakov Ettinger at the First Ggradeskaya Hospital of Moscow. (Rappoport Op Cit; p. 24).

However in 1951, Victor Abakumov was then himself arrested, on the charge of “lack of vigilance in connection with the “Leningrad Affair”:

“In.. 1951.. Abakumov was arrested.. He was taken to the Lyubanka and put in solitary confinement. Several of his deputies and several dozen state security officers were arrested along with him… The charges brought against Abakumov at that time were that he had not recognised the enemy of the people during his handling of the ‘Leningrad Affair’.. In September 1951 none other than Khrushchev .. Echoed Stalin’s charge that Abakumov and his officers had failed to recognise the enemy of the people in the northern city’s Party apparatus.”

P.Deriabin: “Watchdogs of Terror:Russian bodyguards from Tsars to Commissars”; USA; 1984; p.316-317.

How did the whole matter get started, and who were the players behind it?

As stated above, the accusations were a matter of four years old. They had been put aside as an un-proven allegation. It is speculative, but they might be seen as having been sent by a potentially disgruntled employee.

The allegations were put aside until, the accusation became expedient to serve as a further means of sabotage. In other words to disrupt the faithful Marxist-Leninist ring around Stalin; and to inflame the population with a divisive anti-Semitism.

Dr Lydia Timashuk had been the original complainer, and she received the Order of Lenin for her work, in 1953:

“On 21 January 1953, the newspapers published the Decree of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium awarding Doctor L. F Timashuk the Order of Lenin ‘for assistance rendered to the government in exposing the murderous doctors.'”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; Ibid; p. 115-7

But the letter “warning of the “Doctor’s Plot” itself had been submitted in 1948.
Timashuk had written to Vlasik, of the MGB Security and a key pro-Stalin figure.
Neither Vlasik, Stalin nor those of the MGB responsible for Zhdanov took action.

The letter warned that during the conduct of medical tests on Zhdanov, there had been a deliberate mis-diagnosis. Dr Timashuk was the head of the Electrocardiography laboratory at the Kremlin Hospital. Not only did she allege that Professors Egorov and Vasilenko (of the Kremlin’s Special Medical Department) insist that Dr Timashuk alter a diagnosis of “coronary thrombosis” to “sclerosis and hypertension,” but that they also falsified a diagnosis on a form previously reported by a “physician in charge” – Dr Maiorov:

“It is now known from recently discovered classified KGB and CPSU Central Committee documents that on 29 August 1948, Timashuk, head of the electrocardiography laboratory at the Kremlin Hospital, sent a confidential letter to General N. S. VIasik, chief of MGB security. It was a political denunciation asserting that on 28 August 1948, the head of the Kremlin’s special medical department, Professor P. I. Egorov, summoned her to take an ECG of Politburo Member A. A. Zhdanov. On that same day she and Professor Egorov, Academician Vinogradov and Professor V. Kh. Vasilenko flew from Moscow to Valdai where Zhdanov was at the time. She took his electrocardiogram and diagnosed coronary thrombosis. She immediately told the professors who had come with her about it. But, she went on, Professor Egorov and the physician in charge, Dr. Maiorov, said that the diagnosis was incorrect, that this was not a case of coronary thrombosis but of functional disorders caused by sclerosis and hypertension. They proposed that she, ‘alter’ the diagnosis and write ‘caution’ without mentioning coronary thrombosis as Dr. Karpai had done on the previous electrocardiograms. Further on Timashuk said in her letter to VIasik that on 29 August 1948 Zhdanov had had another acute heart attack and she was summoned from Moscow for the second time. However, on orders from Vinogradov and Egorov the electrocardiogram was not taken on 29 August but postponed until the following day. ‘It was again proposed in a categorical fashion that I alter the diagnosis, and that myocardial infarction should not be mentioned. I notified Comrade A. M. Belov about it.’ Belov was an MGB official responsible for Zhdanov’s safety .. Timashuk pointed out that the consultants and the doctor in charge of the case “clearly underestimated Zhdanov’s grave condition, for they allowed him to get up and take a walk in the park.’ In her opinion ‘in future that could lead to fatal consequences.'”

We will leave aside the vexed issue of inter-physician agreements at the best of times! Those unfortunate enough to end up in the hands of physicians will know how they frequently disagree! However, to stay with the facts –
the letter was, by the 30th August, with Abakumov – who responded to Stalin in a memorandum:

“On the desk of the State Security Minister V. S. Abakumov.
On that same day he sent a top-secret memorandum to Stalin: To Comrade Stalin, 1. V., I am sending you a statement by Dr. L. F.Timashuk, head of the electrocardiography laboratory, about the condition of Comrade Zhdanov. As is evident from Dr. Timashuk’s statement, she insists that Comrade Zhdanov had a myocardial infarction in the area of the anterior wall of the left ventricle and of the intra ventricular septum. Head of the Kremlin medical department Egorov and Academician Vinogradov suggested that she alter the diagnosis omitting any mention of myocardial infarction.
Enclosed: Statement by Comrade Timashuk and the ECG of Comrade Zhdanov.”

Iakov Etinger, “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 115-7

Since no action was still taken, despite the subsequent death of Zhdanov, Timashuk continued to send more letters – apparently it is true they were at least in some cases, addressed to a known revisionist Kuznetsov. Conceivably it is true then that a revisionist would have delayed the “truth” (if there were any – in Timashuk’s allegations from emerging.
But it was not till 1952, when the case was re-opened. It was re-opened – it is alleged by Professor Iakov Etinger (Younger) – by Stalin himself:

“Zhdanov died on 30 August 1948. After his death Timashuk sent several letters to the Central Committee, setting forth her opinion about Zhdanov’s diagnosis and treatment. At that point the case was shelved. But Stalin returned to it in the summer of 1952, when preparations for the Doctors’ Plot were in full swing.”

Iakov Etinger, “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 115-7

But the re-opening of the case by Stalin would mean that he would have in the interim changed his mind. We have no direct evidence for this.
We have only the assertions from various interested parties like Professor Etinger, and Khruschev, that Stalin now “wanted to launch a case against the Jews.” Other than this incantation, we have not yet heard any concrete evidence that indicates Stalin had changed his mind.

The re-opening of the case has been described by Timashuk herself, in a letter found in the Central Committee Archives.

In her letter she describes being received by Malenkov and being informed of her “service” having been rewarded with the Order of Lenin. But she herself records that she had not believed that the doctors were saboteurs. The inference is that she believed they had been simply “mistaken.” She also describes the revoking of the Order and assurances that she was still considered competent:

“A letter Timashuk sent to the Presidium of the 23rd Congress of the CPSU in 1966 has recently been discovered in the Central Committee archives. It said:
“In the summer of 1952 I was suddenly summoned to investigator Novikov in the MGB investigation department on matters of highest importance and after some time to investigator Eliseev in connection with the case of the late A. A. Zhdanov. I again confirmed everything I had written to A. A. Kuznetsov, in the Central Committee. Six months later, on 20 January 1953, A. N. Postrebyshev (Head of the Central Committee’s Special Sector, Stalin’s personal secretariat) summoned me by phone and I was invited to the Kremlin. There G. M. Malenkov told me that a Council of Ministers meeting and Comrade Stalin personally had just thanked me for my personal courage displayed (that is, four and a half years ago) when I adhered to my professional opinion in the dispute with a prominent professor, and officially commended me and decorated me with the Order of Lenin. I was dumbfounded, for I could not believe that the doctors treating Zhdanov would turn out to be saboteurs. .. On the following day, 21 January 1953, the Order of Lenin was awarded to me and on 4 April 1953, The day the doctors were rehabilitated] the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium repealed the decision on my decoration as erroneous. When I returned the Order of Lenin to the Supreme Soviet, A. F. Gorkin and N.M. Pegov (prominent party and Soviet functionaries) were present. They assured me that the government considered me an honest Soviet doctor and the repeal of the decree on my decoration would not affect my professional prestige or position. I continued working in the Kremlin Hospital as head of the functional diagnosis department. Three years later, in 1956, N. S. Khrushchev sent a secret letter dealing with Stalin’s personality cult to the CPSU Central Committee and mentioned my name there in connection with the Doctor Plots.”

Iakov Etinger, “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 115-7

The work of the previously quoted Iakov Etinger becomes of significant interest, not the least because he was the son of the first imprisoned doctor.

Dr Etinger the elder, was the first implicated doctor in the “Plot,” and he was accused of the murders of Alexsandr Shcherbakov and Andrei Zhdanov.

Dr Etinger was a competent physician who had often been consulted by and on behalf of leading party and Comintern officials. His degrees and competency were never questioned. What was questioned was his motives, and whether he used his knowledge to deliberately mis-treat and kill prominent patients:

“On 13 January 1953, all leading Soviet newspapers carried the notorious TASS communique entitled ‘The Arrest of a Group of Saboteur Doctors’ which accused a number of Jewish doctors of plotting to murder leading Soviet figures using harmful methods of medical treatment. These doctors had allegedly caused the death of Central Committee Secretaries Aleksandr Shcherbakov and Andrei Zhdanov. The provocation was part of a far-reaching plan to link the JAG case with the doctors ‘crimes.’ This was alluded to in the following phrase from the TASS statement:

‘Vovsi (one of the accused physicians) told the investigation that he had gotten orders to kill leading cadres in the USSR from the US-based Joint (the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) via a Moscow doctor, one Shimeliovich, and the prominent Jewish bourgeois-nationalist Mikhoels.”‘

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 115-7

Etinger the Younger’s interpretation of events was that there was a link between the “Anti-Zionist Plot,” and the current plot – designed to provoke suspicions of the Jews:

“The investigation committee wanted Shimeliovich, who had been a member of the JAG Presidium and had already been shot, and Professor Vovsi, Mikhoels’s cousin, to play the role of the connecting link between the JAG and the arrested Jewish doctors In other words, the upcoming trial was meant to ‘demonstrate’ that the JAG were the ideologues of a ramified and deeply entrenched ‘Jewish plot’ that was to be carried out by Jewish ‘doctor killers.'”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 104-105.

In fact it was Riumin who had provoked further investigations into the case.

It was this same Riumin who was anxious to implicate Abakumov as having been “negligent” in his prior investigations.
Riumin also claimed that Abakumov was trying to obstruct the renewed investigation of Riumin.
Riumin’s actions included personal letters to Stalin.

From a point in June of 1951, Abakumov was first expelled from the party, and then in July he was arrested. These details have been written about by a writer in the former USSR named Kirill Stoliarov:

“Kirill Stoliarov summed up the results of his painstaking and profound study of the materials in the case of State Security Minister Abakumov in his book ‘Golgofa’ (Calvary). He writes there:
‘Riumin investigated the Ia. G. Etinger case. He claimed that Abakumov, first, did not permit him to interrogate Etinger as a participant in the heinous murder of A. Shcherbakov.. and, secondly, ordered Etinger… transferred from the inner prison (of the Lubianka) to the Lefortovo Prison, where he suddenly died and thus priceless information on an extensive terrorist plot was buried. This calls for some explanation. In June 1951 (Abakumov) was expelled from the party, relieved from his post on 4 July and arrested on 12 July. A large group of high-ranking State Security Ministry officials were also arrested. All of them were detained on the strength of the information submitted to the party Central Committee.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 104-105.

Thus Riumin wrote to Stalin that Abakumov was “glossing over” the Etinger affair:

“M. D. Riumin informed the Central Committee that his superiors were ‘glossing over’ the terrorist plans of Etinger and ‘enemy agents’ spearheaded against Politburo members and Stalin personally; they deliberately neglected to record Etinger’s interrogations which made it possible adroitly to conceal from Stalin, mistakes ‘in the struggle against the schemes of international imperialism.'”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 104-105.

Etinger attributes the subsequent arrest of Abakumov to the actions of Stalin. It is unknown however whether this was so, or whether there was little choice in this circumstance but to bide time and order a full enquiry.
In any case Riumin did obtain his goals: both the arrest of Abakumov and the control over the Etinger case:

“Sending such a letter to Stalin was doubtless a risky undertaking. The chances that it would reach him were very slim.
‘But the miracle did occur,’ Stoliarov writes, ‘and in defiance of common sense and chance. .. Stalin got the signal and after carefully thinking the matter over ordered that Abakumov be arrested.’ The Abakumov case was investigated by K. Mokichev, First Deputy Prosecutor-General. Stoliarov notes that Mokichev began the interrogations ‘with facts’ cited by Riumin, namely, that the terrorist aims of the Jewish nationalist Etinger were being ‘glossed over.'”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 107-8.

Abakumov’s testimony showed that he did in fact conduct an investigation and had come to the conclusion that the whole matter was NOT a question of physician sabotage.

In Abakumov’s words “In the course of the interrogation it had become clear to me that all of this had nothing to do with terrorism, absolutely nothing:

“Stoliarov goes on to say: This is what Abakumov testified about Etinger:

Question: Why did you delay Etinger’s arrest and subsequently forbid interrogating him about terrorism, telling Riumin that Etinger would get him ‘bogged down?’

Answer: The leadership of the Second Directorate reported to me that Etinger was hostile. I told them to prepare a memorandum for the Central Committee. The memorandum cited facts proving that Etinger was a dirty swine. (Abakumov was referring to the anti-Stalin views Professor Etinger expressed when speaking to his son, which constituted a counter-revolutionary crime punishable under Art. 58-10 of the RSFSR Criminal Code. Father and son were having a private conversation, which was tape-recorded – K. Stoliarov).

That was in the first half of 1950, I do not remember in which month. However, at that juncture we had no orders to arrest him. After the order from the higher authorities came, I had him brought to me because I knew that he was an active Jewish nationalist and vehemently anti-Soviet.

“You better tell the whole truth, without beating about the bush,” I said to Etinger.

In reply to my questions he promptly answered that there were no grounds for his arrest and the truth was that Jews were being suppressed in this country. When I pressed further, he said he was an honest man, he was treating high-ranking people and mentioned my deputy, Selivanovskii, and then Shcherbakov. At this moment I said he would have to describe what exactly he had done to cause his death. He began speaking in great detail about Shcherhakov’s serious condition and said he had been doomed. In the course of the interrogation it had become clear to me that all of this had nothing to do with terrorism, absolutely nothing. Later it was reported to me that nothing new or interesting had been gotten out of Etinger.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 108-109.

Etinger then summarises that Abakumov had concluded that Etinger was not a “criminal” but was merely a Jewish nationalist:

“According to declassified documents of the CPSU Central Committee and the KGB, after another regular interrogation of Etinger in December 1950, Abakumov ‘came to the conclusion’ that there were no facts pointing to ‘criminal medical treatment.’ On 28-29 January 1951, Abakumov issued instructions ‘to discontinue working with Etinger,’ that is, to stop trying to make him confess to ‘criminal treatment’ and only stick to the charges of anti-Soviet activity and Jewish nationalism.”

The excerpts from the interrogation corroborate the view that Abakumov did not try to deny – that even physical beating – had failed to produce any evidence that the physician Etinger had been a criminal. But let us return to the verbatim records of Abakumov’s interrogation.

Question: Are you aware that Etinger was transferred to the Lefortovo prison and that conditions there were new to him?

Answer: This is not correct. The inner [Lubianka] and Lefortovo prisons do not differ from one another.

Question: Did you issue orders that Etinger be kept in special conditions, jeopardizing his health?

Answer: What do you mean by special?

Question: Harder than for the other inmates. Etinger was placed in a damp and cold cell.

Answer: There is nothing extraordinary about that because he was the enemy. We are allowed to beat the inmates – I and my first deputy Ogol’tsov were repeatedly reminded at the RGPtb) Central Committee that whenever necessary our chektsty should not be afraid to use physical force against spies and other people who had committed crimes against the state. An inmate is an inmate, and prison is prison. There are no such things as warm and cold cells there. There was talk about a stone floor, but as far as I know all cells have stone floors. I told the investigating officer that we must get the truth from the inmate and I may have said that I did not want him to get us bogged down.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 109.

It is known that Abakumov wrote to Stalin, protesting his loyalty and that it was at that point, that Stalin had asked to see the records of testimonies for himself:

“From the ‘Matrosskaia tishina’ Prison, Abakumov wrote a letter to Stalin, trying to prove that he was innocent and infinitely loyal to him. The letter said:

‘Riumin’s statement about my alleged hint to Etinger that he should refuse to testify regarding terrorism (the reference is to charges of causing Shcherbakov”s death) is all wrong. There was nothing of the kind and could never be. Had we had any concrete facts to act upon we would have skinned him alive in order not to miss a case like that.’

Abakumov’s letter reached Stalin and he kept it. Three weeks later, the following note came to the USSR Prosecutor”s Office:

‘Comrade Mokichev, at 3 a.m. there was a phone call from Malenkov. He has gotten instructions to send the records of Abakumov’s interrogation to Comrade Stalin tomorrow. The note was dated 19 August 1951, 3:10 a.m. and signed by S. Ignat’ev, the new Minister of State Security.'”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 109-110.

But it was precisely this step that needed to be somehow either blocked – or check-mated – by the revisionists.
Otherwise, Stalin would have been in a position to both free Abakumov, un-ravel the Doctor’s Plot as a fraud, and in the process further reveal the hidden revisionist plots.

The check-mate came in the form of a highly convenient “confession,” but one that was “made” to another trusted revisionist.
The latter was necessary, so that there could be no more possible re-appraisals, until the revisionist coup was carried through.
It was ensured that there would be no opportunity to attempt any further cross-examination of Etinger – for Etinger was now conveniently dead.

At this juncture the short term aim of the revisionists was to be put in charge of the investigation of Abakumov; and to roll out the “Doctors Case.”

The “confession” of Etinger was achieved at this very juncture. This also automatically implicated Stalin”s own personal physician Vinogradov – since the two must have been working in tandem, if one was a criminal:

“At that time Riumin was doing his best to be put in charge of investigating the Abakumov case. According to Stoliarov, Riumin succeeded in getting what he wanted when Col. M. Likhachev, former deputy head of the USSR State Security Ministry investigating high priority cases, arrested shortly after Abakumov, obediently confirmed that before his death Professor Etinger had confessed to causing Shcherhakov’s death. It was a stroke of unbelievably good luck opening vast prospects to Riumin:

the late Etinger had been just a consultant, while Professor Vinogradov, Stalin’s personal physician of long standing, had been treating Shcherbakov.

Etinger could not have worked to kill Shcherbakov without Vinogradov’s consent. Hence, it had been a joint operation.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 109-110.

Riumin succeeded in taking over the investigation of Abakumov:

“On 22 February 1952 State Security bodies were put in charge of the investigation of the case of Abakumov and his subordinates and the suspects were transferred from the ‘Matrosskaia tishina’ Prison to Lefortovo. As noted above, by that time Professor Etinger was already dead.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 110.

The question then as to whether Abamumov, was a genuine Marxist-Leninist or not, seems to be answered in the affirmative.
It seems quite clear that the revisionists needed him out of the way.

In that light we believe that he had taken the correct Marxist-Leninist route.
We will come to Beria’s view of him later.

But it is interesting, that the very same revisionist who was so virulently against Abakumov – Riumin – had been especially hostile to the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee:

“In 1951, Riumin had written a report on the hostile intentions of S. A. Lozovskii, I.S. Fefer, L. S. Shtern, B. A. Shimeliovich – 14 people in all. The report said that ‘the evidence has established that during their visit to America in 1943, former JAFC leaders Mikhoels and Fefer were given an assignment by Jewish reactionaries to get the Crimea settled by Jews and have an independent republic established there to be used by the Americans as a bridgehead against the USSR at an opportune moment.’ In late 1951 Colonel Riumin was appointed Deputy Minister of State Security and was made responsible for the ministry’s investigation.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 109-110.

Etinger’s son, notes that the timing of the “Doctors’ Plot,” was coincident with various similar events throughout the countries developing towards socialism in Eastern Europe:

“The main participants in the Doctors’ Plot were arrested in November 1952. Simultaneously the anti-Semitic drive in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe was being stepped up. The trial of the ‘anti-government conspirators’ took place in Czechoslovakia in late November 1952. The crusade against ‘Jewish bourgeois nationalism’ was gaining momentum and an unprecedented anti-Jewish purge was being prepared throughout the socialist camp with the main developments unfolding in Moscow. In December; subsequent to the CPSU Central Committee Presidium decree of 4 December 1952 ‘On the Situation in the Ministry of State Security and on Subversive Activities in Medical Treatment,’ the Central Committee issued instructions to party organizations concerning organs of the MGB. N. A. Bulganin, then a member of the Presidium, told me that the instructions contained a passage about ‘established facts regarding subversive activities in medicine’ and the comments to the instructions stressed the ‘key role’ of Jewish professors “closely linked with international Zionism and American intelligence.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 113.

The announcement of the Plot was associated with an attempt to light up an anti-Semitic campaign, by linking it with the use of terms such as “fifth column,” and by publishing lists of names that were apparently of Jewish origin:

“The preparatory phase in the Doctor’s Plot was completed by late 1952. On 13 January 1953, the TASS statement announced the arrest of ‘saboteur doctors.’ On the same day Pravda carried a front-page editorial under the heading ‘Despicable Spies and Murderers Disguised as Professors of Medicine’… the article said:
‘US tycoons and their British ‘junior partners’ know that it is impossible to impose their domination on other nations by peaceful means. Their frenzied preparations for a new world war include planting spies in the Soviet rear and the People’s Democracies in an attempt to succeed where the Hitlerites failed: to create their subversive ‘fifth column’ in the USSR. In other words, a clear hint was being made, that the ‘Jewish bourgeois nationalists’ were this ‘fifth column.’ Unbridled anti-Semitic propaganda was unleashed in the country. The press was rife with Jewish names.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 114.

At about this time a letter was devised that was to be signed by prominent Soviet Jews.

This would call for the deportation of Jews to resettle them in outlying areas.
A “theoretical foundation” was given by the Philosopher Dmitrii Chesnokov of the Party presidium from the 19th Party Congress. This stated that:

“The Jews had proved to be ‘unreceptive to socialism.’ He wrote a book which was .. (widely) circulated.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 118-119.

This letter called for punishment against the accused doctors, and to resettle many Jews. It provoked unrest amongst the intelligentsia. It was promoted by another known revisionist – Mark Borisovich Mitin who had supported the anti-scientific campaign of Trofim Lysenko. (See “Lysenko, Views of Nature, Society”; 1990; available, from Alliance p.285).

Nonetheless despite the evident pressure, some notable figures refused to sign:

A. N. Iakovlev, former Central Committee Secretary, who at one time,” headed the Politburo commission for rehabilitation and was well acquainted with many major political “cases” of the postwar years, said that the letter was devised and put into circulation by Chesnokov. Iakovlev recalls that another “philosopher,” Mark Mitin, and “historian”, Isak Mints, collected the required signatures of Jewish scientists and cultural figures. We know that several people to whom the trio turned refused to sign – Ilya Erenburg, People”s Artist of the USSR, Mark Reizen, Hero of the Soviet Union, Colonel-General Ia. G. Kreizer, and composer I. 0. Dunaevskii. Among those who did sign was M. I. Blanter, the author of the famous song “Katiusha”. The full list of those who signed this document is unknown.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 118-119.

The timing of these events is highly significant. As all this de-stabilisation of the USSR state was taking place, Stalin was both ill and most probably – dying. In some way, all commentators are agreed, the “Doctors’ Plot” was a key hinge around which took place, all the events of the last few days and weeks of Stalin’s life were. We here will only cite Etinger:

“On 5 March, if we are to believe the official version of events, Stalin died. It later came to light that in the last days of the dictator”s life, the CPSU leadership was in session around the clock. On that same day, a joint session of the Central Committee Plenum, the Council of Ministers and the Supreme Soviet Presidium was held. The session adopted a resolution on the reorganization of the country’s party and state leadership. A major decision adopted there was the merger of the Ministry of State Security (MGB) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) into a single Ministry of the Interior headed by Beria, who was also appointed first deputy chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 118-119.

It is at this point that again we have to re-discuss whether or not Beria was a Marxist-Leninist? For Etinger states that he began an ‘extremely ingenious game’ and started calling ‘Stalin a tyrant’:

“Having taken over the state security bodies, Beria began an extremely ingenious political game. He began calling Stalin a tyrant and suggested that Central Committee members get acquainted with numerous facts showing his cruelty, abuse of power and political terrorism. The country’s new leadership was extremely worried by the fact that Beria had attained full control of the state security organs and could make use of their archives to suit his own purposes – primarily to expose the entire group of Stalin’s successors as accomplices and perpetrators of the massive repressions in the 1930’s. Therefore, the elimination of Beria was a matter of vital importance for the new Kremlin leaders. With his penchant for adventurism, Beria was increasingly becoming the main contender in the struggle for power.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 119.

However, it emerges that Etinger is using his own personal interviews and friendships with both Bulganin and Khrushchev to substantiate his viewpoint.
This is clearly inadequate!

As stated above, Beria now moved to discredit and stop the fear-mongering and de-stabilisation associated with the alleged “Doctors’ Plot.”
Even so Etinger asserts that Kaganovich attacked Beria”s “sensationalising” of the “Doctor’s Plot” and taking all credit for freeing the doctors:

“Beria used the Doctors’ Plot as his trump card in this struggle for power and demanded that the doctors be immediately released. It is worth recalling Kaganovich’s statement at the July 1953 Central Committee plenum in which he went out of his way to deny that the Doctors’ Plot had any anti-Semitic overtones. He also stressed that Beria used the Doctors’ Plot in order to consolidate his position in the country and to curry favour with world public opinion as the man who denounced the provocation and had the framed victims released. Kaganovich stated: Let us, for example, take the Doctors’ Plot, which some elements have erroneously linked with Jewry as a whole. The party was right in releasing the doctors, but Beria sensationalised it out of all proportion, resorted to his usual method of patting himself on the back and alleging that it was he who had done it and not the Central Committee, that it was he who had set things right and not the government.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 120.

But undoubtedly it was Beria and his investigations into the events that had led to the pressure for the release of the physicians.

This came after Beria had forced some rather startling revelations into the hands of the Presidium of the Party. We have already discussed this, the murder of Mikhoels and Abakumov’s allegations:

“On 2 April 1953 Beria sent a letter to the party presidium addressed to Malenkov stating:
‘An examination of the materials in the Mikhoels case has revealed that in February 1948, in Minsk, former USSR MGB Deputy Minister Ogol’tsov and former Belorussian MGB Minister Tsanava illegally…. liquidated Mikhoels on orders from USSR MGB Minister Abakumov… In this connection Abakumov .. Gave the evidence… ‘:

‘As far as I can remember in 1948 the head of the Soviet Government I.V.Stalin gave me an urgent assignment – to promptly organise the liquidation of Mikhoels by MGB personnel..'”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 121.

Again we must discuss Abakumov’s testimony. Until further evidence comes to light, we argue that Abakumov was an honest Marxist-Leninist misled into “believing” that an order had come from Stalin. This is the most likely interpretation of the turn of events.

As discussed above, the role of Suslov and Ponomoraev make the murder of Mikhoels a suspiciously pro-Revisionist event.

What was Beria’s attitude to Abakumov?

Again – some might argue here that Beria was not a Marxist-Leninist. But in the light of the other events of his life, we argue that far more evidence is needed to discredit Beria’s Marxist-Leninist credentials. It seems that Beria either could not attempt a “rescue” of Abakumov from jail, or he might have believed that Abakumov was a revisionist or revisionist misled force.

The revisionists who had benefited from Stalin’s death, were anxious about Beria.

Given the revelations, and Beria’s potential for completely un-ravelling the entire revisionist conspiracy, for the moment his insistence upon releasing the doctors was heeded.

It was Beria who ended the episode of the “Doctor’s Plot”

Despite Professor Etinger’s annoyance, it is hardly surprising that in this context, Beria ensured that it was his name – and not that of Khrushchev’s – that would be associated with the ending of the plot and the restoration of order:

“Beria insisted on the immediate release of the arrested physicians. Finally, on 3 April 1953 at 12 noon, the CPSU Presidium adopted a decision to set free 37 doctors and the members of their families being held for investigation in the Lubianka and Lefortovo prisons. The decision was to be published in the central press and broadcast over the radio on 4 April. At this juncture Beria made a brilliant political move. During the night he called the Pravda editorial offices and demanded that the title of the communique on setting the doctors free be altered. The heading now read ‘Communique of the USSR MVD’ instead of ‘Decree of the CPSU Central Committee Presidium.’ Naturally, people reading this communique on the physicians’ rehabilitation got the impression that Beria’s rise to power in the MVD led to his investigation of the Doctors’ Plot and the release of the innocent victims. Beria was scoring points in the struggle for power not only within the country but also abroad, for world public opinion was greatly concerned about the outburst of anti-Semitism in the USSR.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 122.

The immediate consequences of this were that the revisionists Riumin and Ignate’ev were arrested:

“Two days after the publication of the MVD communique, a Pravda article revealed that the doctors’ investigation had been headed by Riumin, who was ‘now under arrest.’ More than 15 months later, from 2-7 July 1954, the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court heard the case of Riumin, who was accused of crimes specified in Articles 5-7 of the RSFSR Criminal Code. It is noteworthy that in the announcement of the USSR Supreme Court there was no mention whatsoever that the Doctors’ Plot had any Jewish aspect.”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; p. 119-122.

The revisionists later managed to effect the release of their most important ally Ignat”ev.

They did not exert themselves for Riumin.

Both Riumin and Abakumov were shot.

Of course these temporary set-backs showed the dangers to the revisionists of leaving Beria at the top.
He was swiftly toppled by a plot in which Malenkov and Molotov and Zhukov were persuaded to participate.

These final events – sealing the revisionist victory and successful take over of the socialist state of the USSR – have been best dealt with by Bland in the already referenced booklet: “The Doctors’ Case & The Death Of Stalin”; and the Book “Restoration of Capitalism In The Soviet Union.”


The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and the Anti-Jewish Plot

Solomon Mikhoels, chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, at the grave of Sholem Aleichem in New York in 1943.

Solomon Mikhoels, chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, at the grave of Sholem Aleichem in New York in 1943.

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”

The Effects of The War Upon the Jews of the Soviet Union

As the Nazis entered the USSR in their war of aggression, they organised killing squads against the Jews of the former Pale of Settlement, within the USSR:

“The former ‘Pale of Settlement’ – fell under German occupation. In the territories annexed by the Soviet Union after September 1939 – the Baltic, eastern Poland, Bessarabia and the Bukovina – live 1,910,000 Jews; in the Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Crimea and other areas of the RSFSR overrun by the German forces are 2,160,000 Jews. Of these, 1.5 million manage to flee before the German troops arrive. More than 2.5 million are trapped, 90 percent of which live concentrated in less than 50 towns. In the months before the attack, the Nazi leadership has designed a method for these particular circumstances: the mobile killing units.. “Einsatzgruppen,”..of SS men, German police and local helpers… Outside cities with large Jewish populations, mass killings of unprecedented scope and speed take place – in Babi Yar outside Kiev, in Ponar outside Vilna, in the VII.Fort outside Kaunas. In the first five months of operation, the “Einsatzgruppen” shoot 100,000 Jews per month… about 2 million Jews are still alive after the first sweep in November 1941.. Jews are forced into “ghettos” and the population Aselected” for immediate killing, deportation or for forced labor. From 1942 onward, these ghettos are Aliquidated” and the remaining population shot. By the end of 1943, another 900,000 Jews are killed.”

WWW Site: “Beyond the Pale”; Op Cit; at:

During the war anti-Semitic chauvinism continued to be expressed against the Jews despite high involvement of the Soviet Jews in the resistance:

“The Jews of the Soviet Union took an active part in the fight against Nazi Germany. About half a million served in the Red Army, and many volunteered for service at the front. Jewish soldiers ran an extra risk: when taken prisoner, they were bound to be shot immediately. An estimated 200,000 Soviet Jews died on the battlefield. During the war, the old anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews as cowardly soldiers was resurrected. Rumours circulated that Jews are “draft dodgers..”

The Soviet state took action to organise the Jewish partisans and fighters, and to publicise their actions in the West. This took the concrete from within the Soviet Union of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAFC). Its’ organisation was approved of, and supported by both Stalin and Beria.

“The Soviet authorities in April 1942 allow the establishment of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Its aim is to organize political and material support for the Soviet struggle against Nazi Germany from the Jewish communities in the West.”

(See Web site at “Beyond the Pale”; Op Cit p.61:

“One should bear in mind that attempts to organise an international Jewish committee in the Soviet Union during the first months of the War were sponsored by Beria, head of the Soviet Security Police. Individuals connected with the security apparatus also preformed a significant role within the Soviet Antifascist Committee which emerged in Spring 1942.”

Redlich Shimon:”Propaganda and Nationalism in Wartime Russia-The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR, 1941-1948″; 1982; USA; p.11.

There is some dispute as to the origin of the idea of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee.

Two members of the “Bund,” from Poland, were imprisoned by the Soviets after the annexation of Eastern Poland under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in 1939. These two men were Henrych Erlich and Wiktor Alter.

They proposed to set up an international Jewish Committee in the USSR. Upon the arrest of the two, international pressure mounted to release them. This included Polish socialists such as Wanda Wasilwska and the American Federation of Labor, and the British government. As a letter written from the Foreign Office explained, this would strengthen the hand of the “moderate Poles” led by General Sikorski:

“A letter from the British Foreign Office to the British Embassy in Moscow listed Erlich and Alter among eight outstanding Polish specialists whose release was sought by the British ‘to strengthen General Sikorski’s hand with his people,’ ie to bolster the moderate Poles.”

Redlich Shimon: “Propaganda and Nationalism in Wartime Russia-The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR, 1941-1948”; 1982; USA; p.14.

But when Beria became involved in their case, the previously announced death sentences were lifted and they were released. They were then allowed to assist in the formation of the Committee. As Redlich points out, the Soviet Government was actively thinking about such steps, and a parallel Slav Committee, had already been created “within a few weeks after Hitler’s attack”. (Redlich Ibid; p. 11.)

Claims that Alter and Erlych were primarily responsible for a similar idea in respect of the Jews, are impossible to verify. It is however, certainly the case that both were then later executed.

Who would gain from their executions?

Although both of them were Bundists, and thus anti-Bolshevik, both were working towards the ridding of Poland from Nazi rule and the establishment of a democratic and social-democratic state in Poland. Their contacts with the Polish ambassador in Moscow, Professor Stanlsilaw Kot had assured their allegiance to:

“The New Plan.. Which will shape the fate of the future Europe in the spirit of political freedom social justice and national equality… Kot subsequently reported to his superiors in London that the “Bund delegates told me that the Soviet Government (NKVD) asked their assistance in spreading propaganda especially in America. They promised their help on condition that they would conduct the propaganda themselves, not as figure heads, and that it would be under the control of the (Polish) ambassador.”

Redlich Ibid; p. 24,

Despite evidence that is acknowledged, that they had established links with visiting social democrats such as Water Citrine of the British Trades Union Congress and members of the Soviet – British Trade Union Committee, it appears that Alter and Erlych were genuinely interested in the liberation of Poland.

They therefore objectively assisted the Soviet struggle.

It is clear then, that their murder did not objectively help the USSR.
Yet they were suddenly re-arrested on December 4th 1941.

Even Shimon Redlich, the anti-Marxist-Leninist historian of the JAFC, finds the arrests inexplicable, from the point of view of both Stalin and the desperate struggle of the USSR state against Hitlerism.

In the absence of further data, Alliance is forced to interpret this as another attempted sabotage (See above for other documented war time sabotage).

However the decision had been taken, somehow the fact of their executions; had subsequently to be explained to the world. Vyshinsky accused them of: “working on behalf of Germany.” Redlich Ibid; p. 30. This seemed to many to be a rather un-convincing allegation. There was considerable negative international response to their re-arrest. Workers circles in the USA especially, were split by the news of these two executions. However, the executions were indeed confirmed by Litvinov in early 1943, who stated that both of them had argued for a Peace with Germany. (Redlich Ibid; p. 33).

Further documentary data on this matter is still awaited.

However by the time the arrests of the Bund-ists, had occurred, a Jewish Anti-fascist Committee had been established.

Information provided in an internal party document, “Pursuant to the inquiry of Comrade Shumeiko” upon the JAFC, confirms that the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee in the USSR (JAFC) was formed soon after a rally organised in Moscow of the representatives of Athe Jewish people” Vaksberg A, Ibid, p. 107. It occurred after the:

“First antifascist radio broadcast political rally of representatives of the Jewish people, which was held in Moscow in August 1941. The Committee consists of 70 members … and its executive committee has 19 members.”

From Library of Congress site WWW: “The Jewish Antifascist Committee Jewish in the USSR”; Find at:

In a memo of 21 June 1946: “To Comrade M.A.Suslov”; the members were itemised. The leading elements were in the main, long standing party members:

“1. Secretary of the Committee, whose duties (following the death of Comrade Shakhno Epshtein) are carried out by the writer I. Fefer, member of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) [VKP(b)] since 1919.
2. Deputy Secretary of the Committee, Comrade S.M. Shpige’glias, VKP(b) member since 1919 and formerly a party worker.”

Memorandum of JAFC ; 21 June 1946; To “Comrade M. A. SUSLOV, Director Section For Foreign Policy of the Central Committee Of the Communist Party”; At Library of Congress site on web:

But, as a leading representative of the politburo, Solomon Lozovsky was the political representative. He was then Deputy Commissar of Political Affairs, and deputy chief of Sovinformburo. It was he who officially announced the formation of the committee, talking to foreign correspondents in Kuibyshev in April 1942:

“All the anti-fascist committees arose in connection with Hitler’s treacherous attack on the USSR.. The Jews have created an anti-fascist committee to help the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the USA.”

Redlich Op Cit; p. 40.

The JAFC published a paper- “Eynikayt“, from the summer of 1942, until late 1948. The key members of the JAFC included, Solomon Mikhoels (the Jewish actor, and Director of the Moscow Jewish State Art Theatre), Shakhne Epstein, the executive secretary, and Itzik Feffer was a poet as well as a Red Army Colonel; Ilya Ehrenburg the noted writer; David Bergelson the writer; Perets Markish the Soviet-Yiddish poet.

Of all these, undoubtedly the most popular figure in the JAFC was Solomon Mikhoels, famous for his stage roles and this Theatre. It is said that Stalin had nick-named him as “The Wise Solomon”, (Teller, Judd L: “The Kremlin, The Jews & The Middle East”; New York; 1957; p.41.”) though this is specifically repudiated by other sources. Rapport; Ibid).

After the victory of Stalingrad, in 1943, a tension erupted over a dual potential role for the JAFC:

Firstly, to defend Jewish refugees and provide assistance and rehabilitation to Jewish expatriates; and
Secondly to “activate” foreign Jewry for the defence of the USSR. (Redlich Ibid; p. 43-44).

The latter view predominated, and Mikhoels and Feffer were sent on a speaking tour of the West. They succeeded in convincing Jewish people in the West to support and donate to the Russian anti-war efforts:

“The Jewish Anti-fascist Committee in the USSR has sent during its entire existence one delegation, composed of Comrades Mikhoels and Fefer, to the United States, England, Canada, and Mexico. This delegations’s trip report has been published in the book: “The Jewish People against Fascism.”
Memorandum to Comrade Suslov; Ibid; AT:

The leading lights of the Western Jewish intelligentsia met them such as those of the American Committee of Jewish Writers & Scientists, with Albert Einstein, Sholom Asch, Lion Feuchtwangler, Howard Fast, Lilian Hellmann and others. The trip succeeded in raising funds for at Aleast one thousand aeroplanes and five hundred tanks and uniforms and food etc. Vaksberg Ibid; p.118

There is little doubt that Mikhoels and Feffer made a significant impact upon world Jewry, and garnered respect and enthusiasm for the USSR.

“In 1943 Solomon Mikhoels and the writer Itzik Feffer embark on a seven-month official tour to the USA, Mexico, Canada and Great Britain. They are received everywhere with great enthusiasm: for a long time, no official contact with one of the largest Jewish communities of the world had been possible. Especially in the United States, where many Jews have not forgotten their ties with Russia, the tour is a great success, and many millions of dollars are raised for the Russian war effort. The JAFC becomes the focal point of a national awakening for Soviet Jewry at a time when its very survival is in danger. Many Jews turn to the JAFC with requests for help, among them survivors from the Nazi camps who find their houses occupied upon their return.” WWW Site Beyond the pale:

One important achievement of the JAFC was that several prominent Jews from all over the world came to the USSR as guests of the committee:

“Over two years, representatives of a series of foreign Jewish antifascist organizations have visited the Committee: Deputy Chairman of the Jewish Antifascist Committee of Bulgaria, Mr. Zhak Vradzhali; one of the leaders of the Union of Jews of Czechoslovakia, Mr. Rozenberg; representatives of Jewish organizations of France, Poland, et al. Recently Mr. Ben Zion Goldberg (Waife), the son-in-law of Sholem Aleichem, visited the Soviet Union. He is a prominent public figure in the United States, a member of the executive committee of the Soviet-American Friendship Society (headed by Lamont), chairman of the Committee of Jewish Scientists, Writers, and Artists of the United States (Albert Einstein is president of the Committee), vice-president of Ambidjan, the All-American Society for Aid to Birobidzhan (president of Ambidzhan– Steffenson). Mr. Goldberg is also a major American journalist.. Mr. Goldberg was received in Moscow by M. I. Kalinin and S. A. Lozovskii.. Met Soviet writers .. representatives of the Soviet Jewish community (at the Jewish Antifascist Committee in the USSR headquarters), with leaders of the State Jewish Theatre, with the chief rabbi of the Moscow Jewish congregation, Shliffer, and with leaders of the Red Cross, among others… During his stay in the Soviet Union, Mr. Goldberg dispatched via the Soviet Information Bureau 33 articles to the American, Canadian, English, Palestinian, Polish, and Yiddish press. The articles were extremely friendly toward the Soviet Union. Before his departure, Mr. Goldberg began to write a book in English entitled England, the Opponent of Peace, and a book in Yiddish entitled Jewish Culture in the Soviet Union.”

Memorandum to Comrade Suslov; Ibid; AT:

Further requests were being received by the USSR from prominent Jews in “several countries”:

“Such requests were received from: N. Goldman, the chairman of the executive committee of the World Jewish Congress; Dr. Stephen Wise, chairman of the American Jewish Congress; Louis Levine, chairman of the Jewish Union for Soviet Aid under Russian War Relief; Mr. Raiskii, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Presse Nouvelle in Paris; et al.”

Memorandum to Comrade Suslov; Ibid; AT:

At this stage, the Jewish AFC proposed a detailed plan to make the Crimea the site of a Homeland for oppressed Jewish people from all over the world, including all the refugees from the war.

This was proposed by the JAFC in a letter to Stalin dated February 15, 1944.

It seems that only part of this letter has been made public to date. That fragment reads:

“The creation of a Jewish Soviet Republic will once and forever, in a Bolshevik manner, within the spirit of Leninist -Stalinists national policy, settle the problem of the state legal position of the Jewish people and further development of their multi century culture. This is a problem that no one has been capable of settling in the course of many centuries. It can be solved only in our great socialist country.”

Cited From Literatunaya Gazeta July 7th; 1933.; By Sudoplatov Ibid; p. 286.

As mentioned above, Stalin had approved the formation of the committee. Even the virulently anti-Stalin figure Vaksberg notes that Stalin had written to the JAFC the following note:

“Please convey to the working Jews of the Soviet Union who collected an additional 33,294,823 rubles for the construction of air force squadron Stalin’s Friendship of the Peoples and tank column Soviet Birobidzhan my fraternal greetings and the gratitude of the Red Army J.Stalin”.

Vaksberg A; AStalin Against the Jews”; New York; 1994; p. 116.

Why therefore, as various Zionists state, should Stalin have turned against the JAFC? They allege “anti-Semitism.”

Was Stalin himself known to hold anti-Semitic views?

The major allegations made on a personal level about this charge are frankly ludicrous. Thus for instance, reliance upon Khrushchev and moreover upon an unclear source reveals this:

“The first symptoms of Stalin’s anti-Semitic policy are rooted in his personality and may be traced to the pre-revolutionary period. Many people who knew him well, such as Khrushchev, suggested that his Judaeophobia was pathological. Stalin’s struggle against Trotsky and his numerous Jewish supporters fuelled the anti-Semitic trends in the Kremlin dictator’s policy. ‘Anti-Semitism and anti-Trotskyism reared their heads simultaneously’, Trotsky wrote.”

Iakov Etinger, “The Doctors’ Plot: Stalin’s Solution to the Jewish Question”; in Editor: Yaacov Ro’i:”Jews & Jewish Life in Russia & the Soviet Union”; Ibid; p.103.

It is remarkable that Trotsky then, himself a Jew never commented that this was the reason for his “persecutions” in a more visible and public forum. Nor indeed do Trotsky’s followers including Isaac Deutscher his primary biographer use this charge. What else does Professor I. Etinger have for us?

“Stalin’s secretary, Boris Bazhanov, recollects that Stalin made crude anti-Semitic outbursts even when Lenin was still alive. In 1907 Stalin wrote a letter in which he referred to the Mensheviks as a ‘Jewish faction’ and to the Bolsheviks as a ‘truly Russian’ one.’ It would do no harm to us Bolsheviks if we staged a pogrom inside the party’, he suggested.”

Etinger, “The Doctors’ Plot,” Ibid; p. 104; citing V.Solov’ev, E. Klepikov, op cit p.216.

Other comments from Vaksberg, indicate the same source for other various anecdotes. But interestingly, the most virulent anti-Stalin Vaksberg records other facts that show Stalin was not anti-Semitic. So Vaksberg, although interspersed with sly digs and innuendoes throughout, must note that Stalin was vociferous against anti-semitism:

“The composer Dmitri Rogal-Levitsky… was in 1944 commissioned to orchestrate the new state anthem.. His notebooks .. Record the conversation (of a banquet)…

“Stalin asked how many conductors there were at the Bolshoi Theatre. They told him seven of whom three were Jews…

‘Do you have Nikolai Golovanov there?’ Stalin asked…
‘We were planning to entrust two or three productions to him’ began Tsazoksky… ‘And?’ Interrupted Stalin.
‘He refused.’
‘Good thing!’ Stalin said, striking a match.
‘I don’t like him… He’s an anti-Semite. Yes a real anti-Semite. A crude anti-Semite. He should not be allowed into the Bolshoi Theatre.. It’s like letting a goat into the cabbage patch,’ he said laughing.

Then the conversation turned. But a while later without any obvious connection, Stalin returned to the first theme:

‘But that Golovanov is an anti-Semite.’
‘I’ve not dealt with him in that sense.’
‘Don’t worry you will, if you let him into the Bolshoi Theatre… Golovanov is a real anti-Semite, a dangerous, principled anti-Semite.. You cannot let Golovanov into the Bolshoi Theatre. That anti-Semite will turn everything upside down.'”

Vaksberg A; “Stalin Against the Jews”; New York; 1994; p. 29-30.

Yet ultimately, Vasberg dismisses this all, as an elaborate facade behind which Stalin’s own “anti-Semitism” could be hidden. Vaksberg refers to Stalin’s daughter having “destroyed” Svetlana Alliluyeva’s first marriage because it had been to a Jew – Grigory Morozov (Moroz). Such personal testimony is liable to selective “filtering.” But even Svetlana’s own words are somewhat self-contradictory. She states that Stalin did not stand in her way regarding her marriage, but he refused to allow her husband to visit him. Perhaps the real reason that Stalin disliked him, was not that he was a Jew, but lies in what he told her:

“He’s too calculating, that young man of yours.. Just think it’s terrible at the front. People are getting shot. And look at him. He’s sitting it out at home.”

Alliluyeva, Svetlana, “Twenty Letters to a Friend”; New York; 1967; p.187.

It is true that Svetlana says later on, that Stalin told her that the “Zionists had thrown the first husband” into her way. (Alliluyeva, Svetlana, “Twenty Letters to a Friend”; Ibid; p.196). However the marriage appears to have failed of its’ own accord, Svetlana is quite clear on this.

The net definite “evidence” to prove the racism of Stalin must be in doubt by an open mind.

The real “proof” for the accusers, who convict Stalin of “anti-Semitism”- appears to lie in the matter of the so called “Zionists’ Plot” and the “Doctor’s Plot.”

Was Beria Personally an anti-Semite?

The same general problem is faced by Zionists, who although they accuse Beria of being an anti-Semite, confront and cannot explain data that in reality shows the opposite:

“There is also the mystery of Beria’s comportment towards Jews in Georgia. The New York Times correspondent Salisbury discovered in Tiflis Georgia in 1951, a Jewish ethnological Museum which featured painting depicting Jewish religious rites reconstructions of early Georgian synagogues, and a record of Jewish Soviet heroes in World War II. That the museum should have survived the liquidation of Jewish culture everywhere else in the USSR was curious; the information that Beria had inspired it was even more curious”. He had also sponsored in the 1920’s an occupational rehabilitation programme for Georgian Jewry. This programme included Jewish trade schools and farms.”

Teller Ibid; p. 91-92.

“There is also reason to believe that (Beria) was helpful to Jews in Georgia. The American journalist Harrison Salisbury who visited Georgia after the war, discovered that Beria as Georgian party leader, had instigated the establishment of a program for rehabilitating Georgian Jews. The program included a Jewish charitable society and a Jewish ethnological museum in Tbilisi. It might be added that Beria’s sisters’ husband was a Jew and that Beria had several Jews in his retinue: Mil’stein, Raikhmna, Mamulov, Sumbatov-Topuridze and N.I.Eitington to name a few. Although many Jews lost their jobs in the late 1940’s as a result of the anti-Semitic campaign, these men survived.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.147

Furthermore, it must be noted firstly that it was Beria, who after Stalin’s death – first repudiated the “Doctor’s Plot”, as being a sham:

“Beria’s position as chief of the security services and the police place him in an invidious position as the likeliest candidate for indictment and castigation for all persecutions that has taken place .. Stalin’s successors have fingered him as the author of the so-called Doctor’s Plot… Yet after Stalin’s death it was Beria who exposed the indictment which in itself, disputes his executioners’ contention that he was its author. The Minister of State Security the real boss of the secret police at the time that this evidence was manufactured, was Semyon D.Ignatiev, Beria’s political enemy. Although publicly pilloried for his central role in concocting the indictment, Ignatiev was restored to favour at the Kremlin immediately after Beri had been purged. The post-Beria Kremlin significantly had maintained that there was not anti-Semitic intent behind the doctor’s indictment.. Which in turn invites speculation that the charge might not have been dismissed had not Beria exposed them in his life time.”

Teller Ibid; p. 90-91.

“Not only did Beria denounce the Doctor’s Plot was a hoax after Stalin’s death, he also took it upon himself to attempt a revival of Jewish culture immediately after Stalin died.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.148.

Following this Pravda ran an editorial that stated:

“Every Soviet worker kolkhoz members and intellectual is under the protection of Soviet law. The citizens of the great Soviet state may be certain that all the rights guaranteed them by the Soviet Constitution are sacred and will be guarded by the Soviet Government…. Careful investigation had ascertained the fact that members of Riumin’s clique (responsible for the doctors libel -ed) had slandered the People’s Artist Mikhoels who was an upright communal worker.”

Teller Ibid; p. 125-126.

To Summarise:
Data does not support that the Marxist-Leninists Stalin and Beria were personally anti-Semitic. What of the revisionist politicans?

Khrushchev’s Attitude to the Jews

Khrushchev by several accounts, was well known to be an anti-Semite. Amy Knight puts it as follows:

“Khrushchev… first secretary in the Ukraine, favoured the dissolution of the Union of Jewish Writers Kiev, and the closure of Jewish literary journal.”

Knight M; Ibid; p.148.

That Stalin ensured that Khrushchev was in effect repudiated upon the issue of anti-Semitic pogromists was clear, when Malenkov was sent to the Ukraine to correct the “blindness” of Khrushchev to anti-Semitic abuses:

“Khrushchev’s case is different. Even before his name was generally known outside the USSR, he had acquired notoriety in the Jewish press… for an episode in Kiev when the war ended. He was then boss of the Ukraine. Jewish wartime refugees, braving the local populations; anti-Jewish animus and the Kremlin’s bruited displeasure, trickled back to their devastated homes in the Ukraine. One day in a scuffle over an anti-Semitic remark, two Red Army officers one Jewish and the other Ukrainian, fired their guns at each other. The Ukrainian died, and the result was a pogrom in Kiev. The Ukrainian was buried with military honours and Khrushchev marched in the funeral procession. The pogromists went unpunished until Malenkov arrived to restore order.”

Teller Ibid; p. 92.

This view is substantiated more recently by Knight’s biography of Beria:

“In May 1944 Mikhoels wrote a letter to Molotov complaining about discrimination against Jews in liberated Ukraine. On receiving a copy of the letter, Beria issued instructions to Ukrainian Party Chief Khrushchev to “take the necessary measures to improve the living and working conditions of Jews in the newly liberated areas.”

Knight M; Ibid; p.147

Mikhoels would pay a price for his request for intervention, addressed to the Marxist-Leninist Molotov. But who was it that wrote his bill?

The Murder of Solomon Mikhoels

As discussed above, Stalin had supported the JAFC and sent it congratulatory telegrams.

It seems though, that the general attitude inside the USSR to the JAFC changed after the war.

One of the signs of this change was that the previous plan to publish a book – the so called “Black Book” – cataloguing the Nazi genocide of the Jews, and the Jewish partisan struggles, was only brought to fruition in the USA but not in Russia:

“The contacts with American-Jewish organizations result in the plan to publish a Black Book simultaneously in the USA and the Soviet Union, documenting the anti-Jewish crimes of the Nazis and the Jewish part in the fighting and resistance. In 1944, the writer Ilya Ehrenburg sends a collection of letters, diaries, photos and witness accounts to the USA to be used in the book. The Black Book is published in New York in 1946. But no Russian edition appears. The typefaces are finally broken up in the printing press in 1948, a year in which the situation of Soviet Jews has once more deteriorated sharply.”

See WWW site: “Beyond the Pale”; page 61 at:

But the death of Mikhoels – allegedly in a murder committed at the direct order of Stalin, is the event that is usually cited as the beginning of the alleged anti-Semitic campaigns of the Soviet USSR.

It is alleged by many, including Sudoplatov, that Stalin feared the potential power that Mikhoels would have, and had him assassinated in January 1948:

“Mikhoels .. had been at the heart of the discussions to establish a Jewish Crimean republic. Stalin feared that Mikhoels would unleash forces that could not be controlled and would lead to unpredictable political consequences. Stalin feared a truly independent Jewish homeland. Mikhoels had the stature of a leader with world recognition, and Stalin could not risk his developing his own power base. Mikhoels was murdered in January 1948, under the direct order of Stalin.”

Pavel & A Sudoplatov; with JL &LP Schecter:”Special Tasks”; Boston; 1995; p. 296.

But as noted in the foreword, Sudoplatov’s memoirs have been seriously discredited.

It is true that other sources also refer to the death of Mikhoels and all assume that Stalin “ordered the murder of Mikhoels.”

In fact, the mysterious death of Solomon Mikhoels in Minsk on January 13, 1948, served to rob the USSR of a valuable and respected figure. For all these other sources, this contradiction, is not apparently a difficult issue – since they all pre-judge Stalin as variously, mad, irrational, capricious.. etc.

However this line of reasoning is countered by the facts previously adduced.
(See Previous issues of Alliance on Personality Cult :(1) The Cult of
Personality (Talk at The Stalin Society (UK) May 1991) AT: Stalin – Myths and Reality: Talk intended for the Third ISML Conference Paris October 1999:

The most detailed source, of the actual last days of Mikhoels life, is found in Arkady Vaksberg. (ibid pp159-170). As Amy Knight points out, the assumption is usually made that Beria performed the killing:

“Many had assumed that Beria as responsible for the murder, since he oversaw the police apparatus.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.147.

However it seems that Beria related the facts of the case, in a letter to Malenkov, after the death of Stalin.

According to this letter, Beria questioned Abakumov in prison, where Abakumov had remained following Stalin’s death. Beria learnt that the key players were Ogol’tsev and Tsanava. Knight insists that Stalin “ordered” the killing:

“Stalin had ordered Abakumov to have Mikhoels killed, a task carried out by Deputy Minister of State Security S.I.Ogol’tsev and Belorussian MGB chief Tsanava. Mikhoels and his companion were lured into a car and taken to Tsanava’s dacha outside Minsk, where they were murdered. Their bodies were then dumped on the side of the road. When Beria learned of Tsanava’s complicity, he ordered his arrest along with that of Ogol’tsev.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.147.

In fact Knight reminds us that Beria had:

“Supported the idea in 1942 of creating the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee in order to harness the war efforts of Soviet Jews at home and abroad and had maintained direct contacts with JAFC leaders after that. Indeed he seems to be have been sympathetic to their cause.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.147.

But, she fails to remind us that Stalin had also supported Mikhoels and the JAFC.

So was ultimately responsible for the murder of Mikhoels?

It seems that the revisionist S.D.Ignat’ev (or Ignatiev) was heavily involved:

“It may not be a coincidence that in addition to First Secretary Gusarov… who was in the Belorussian CC Secretariat at the time of the Mikhoels murder: S.D.Ignatiev, who was to replace Abakumov as USSR MBG chief in mid-1951. Ignatiev later helped to fabricate the case against the doctors.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.148.

Who was pushing for action on the “anti-Zionist plot?”

Vaksberg claims that Abakumov was supported by Malenkov and Mikhail Suslov. We would argue that of these, Suslov was an out and out revisionist and at best, Malenkov was a vacillator.

On October 12, 1946 Abakumov (after having taken over from Vsevolod Merkulov, the Ministry of State Security) wrote a memorandum entitled: “On Nationalistic Manifestations of Some Workers of the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee”, accusing them of:

“Forgetting the class approach which has been replaced by an approach on national lines,” and of “establishing foreign contacts on the same national principles”. Also in foreign editions about the life of the Soviet Jews, it “exaggerated their contribution to the achievements of the Soviet Union in science, technology, and culture.” And finally a special section of the memo.. Noted that the committee “has taken on the function of the chief representative of the affairs of the Jewish population and intermediary between that populations and the Party-Soviet organs. The summary conclusion to the memo was that the Afurther activity of this committee is politically harmful and intolerable”.. The Minister was supported by one of the new members of the hierarchy.. Mikhail Suslov. In his appeal to Stalin on November 26th 1946, he also called for liquidation of the committee.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.195

It was finally on March 1948 that Abakumov forwarded a report to the Central Committee arguing that JAFC leaders and Mikhoels had:

“conducted anti-Soviet nationalist activities.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.148.

This report went to the Central Committee and was copied to Stalin, Molotov, Zhdanov, and Kuznetsov.

By 20 November 1948, the Politburo adopted the resolution approving a decision of the Council Of Ministers to disband the JAFC.

This resolution was adopted after the sudden death of Zhdanov in August 1948, and thereafter the correct anti-cosmopolitanism campaign, was crudely transformed into the incorrect anti-Semitic campaign.
(For Bland’s article on the anti-cosmopolitanism article see:

Abakumov continued to send memos to Stalin over this issue, calling the JAFC a “hot-bed of Zionism” in a memo of the March 1, 1948. (Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.196. )

It was after September 3rd, 1948 that action was finally taken against the JAFC. On that date, it is alleged by Vaksberg and other bourgeois commentators that the “mass rallies” greeting Golda Myerson (later to be known as Golda Meir) in her post as the first Israeli ambassador, “frightened” Stalin.

Yet as Vaksberg himself states, in the spring of 1945 Stalin had allowed open and massive Jewish rallies to commemorate the Jewish dead of the war:

“On the recommendation of the World Council of Rabbis meeting in Jerusalem, Stalin permitted Moscow Jews to organise a memorial service for the six million Jewish victims of the Nazis…. Major governmental figures marshals, and generals and celebrated artists attended – over 20,000 people.. Raising over half a million rubles for the postwar restoration of the country. The solemn Kadish was repeated in 1946. In 1947 it was banned.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.185.

By March 26th 1948, Abakumov had sent a memo to Stalin, Molotov and CC Secretaries Zhdanov and Kuznetsov entitled “On the Espionage and Nationalistic Activity of the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee”, stating that Mikhoels was:

“Known long before the war as an active nationalist, he was a kind of banner for nationalistic Jewish circles.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.197-198.

On November 20th 1948, item no.81 on the agenda of the Politburo of the CC stated:

“On the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee: Confirm the following resolution of the Bureau of the Council of Ministers of the SSR: “The Bureau of the Council of ministers of the USSR instructs the MGB USSR to disband the JAFC immediately, because as the facts show, this Committee is the center of anti-Soviet propaganda and regularly provides anti-Soviet information to organs of foreign intelligence. In conjunction with this, the publishing organs of the Committee are to be shut down and the Committee’s files confiscated. For the time being no one is to be arrested.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.198-199.

Thus far at any rate, the “facts” are not quite so obvious as made out by the Zionists who attack Stalin as anti-Semitic. There is a clear implication from Vaksberg, that a compromise decision had been made, with the final statement just cited, regarding an explicit counter-manding of further arrests.

Nonetheless, David Goldstein had already been arrested in September, and on December 24th Fefer was arrested. Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.200-201. Lozovsky was arrested on January 16th. Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.202.

A little complicating, but true, is that Salmon Lozovsky was also a hidden revisionist (partially discussed previously by Alliance – See Alliance issue Number 15); who had subverted correct trade union tactics in the Comintern and the trade union international Profintern (led by Lozovsky).

However, Alliance argues, until further evidence can be adduced, that the net effect of these arrests, was once more to alienate the Marxist-Leninist wing of the Bolsheviks Party from a section of the working class.

Moreover it served to strengthen the hand of international support for Israel, and to serve as an instrument of propaganda against the USSR.

It was the Writers Union under Alexander Fadeyev who pushed for a resolution that called for closing associations of Jewish writers and closing Yiddish almanacs. That the hand of the revisionists was heavy in making these decisions is made clear by Shimon Redlich in his history of the JAFC. He points out that another key revisionist involved was Boris Ponomorarev:

“Sources suggest that Boris N. Ponomorarev was personally active in the liquidation of the Committee. Ponomorarev, an ex-functionary of the Comintern, and Deputy Director of the prestigious Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute after the War, was appointed Deputy Director of the Sovinformuro in late 1948 or early 19489. When Lozovskii was arrested in late 1948 to early 1949, Ponomorarev became Head of the Bureau for a short while.”

Redlich Shimon: “Propaganda and Nationalism in Wartime Russia-The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR, 1941-1948”; 1982; USA; p.167-8.

As Redlich points out, various hypotheses linking the affair with an alleged Malenkov-Zhdanov hostility; or to an attempt to discredit Beria; simply do not make any sense.

He is left only to explain it as Stalin’s fear of the international contacts that Soviet Jewry had built with overseas Jews. He himself acknowledges Stalin’s previous support of these contacts:

“Although encouraged and supported by Stalin at the time, these contacts were regarded in retrospect as dangerous and treacherous.”

Redlich S; Ibid; p.169.

Another potential “reason” leading Stalin to take this step, is cited by Redlich as the following:

“It is well known to Soviet official circles and to Stalin himself that the Committee had attempted to perform functions and took upon itself responsibilities far beyond the initial purpose of its establishment. Mikhoels and other top personalities of the JAFC approached various Soviet authorities both on matters concerning individual Jews and on Jewish cultural and national issues…. The JAFC was apparently regarded by Stalin as a structure which organised and expressed Jewish national interests and since he viewed such interests as a security risk to the regime, and to himself it seemed to him a matter of prime importance to wipe out this potentially dangerous organisation.”

Redlich S; Ibid; p.169-70.

Alliance finds that the evidence to date, suggests that Mikhoels was murdered, and was not the victim of an accident.

This is dealt with directly below, in a citation from Beria.

As to who was responsible, there continues to be disagreement.

Only one piece of evidence links Stalin to this directly.
That is evidence provided by the cross examination of Abakumov while he was imprisoned.

This was referred to above, from the biography of Beria by Knight (see page above). The full cited is the following, and is drawn from a document upon Abakumov, available in Russian only. Significant sections are cited from the English text of a piece by Iakov Ettinger, based on reports in Russian cited by Stoliarov:

“Col.-Gen. V. S. Abakumov, Minister of State Security from 1945-1…Russian researcher Kirill Stoliarov summed up the results of his painstaking and profound study of the materials in the case of State Security Minister Abakumov in his book “Golgofa” (Calvary).”

Iakov Etinger:”The Doctors’ Plot: Stalin’s Solution to the Jewish Question”; in Editor: Yaacov Ro’i: “Jews & Jewish Life in Russia & the Soviet Union”; citing Storilaov; Ibid.

After Stalin’s death, Beria investigated the Mikhoels events further. It emerged again from Abakumov’s testimony, still being in jail, that Abakumov had asserted not only that Mikhoels had been killed, but that Stalin had ordered him to perform this murder:

“Meanwhile Beria made another move. On 2 April 1953 he sent a letter to the party Presidium addressed to Malenkov stating:

“An examination of the materials in the Mikhoels case has revealed that in February 1948, in Minsk, former USSR MGB Deputy Minister Ogol’tsov and former Belorussian MGB Minister Tsanava carried out an illegal operation to liquidate Mikhoels on orders from USSR MGB Minister Abakumov.. In this connection Abakumov has been interrogated at the MVD and explanations have been received from Ogol’tsov and Tsanava. Abakumov gave the following evidence…
“As far as I can remember, in 1948, the head of the Soviet government I. V. Stalin gave me an urgent assignment – to promptly organize the liquidation of Mikhoels by MGB personnel and charge specially selected people with the task. Then it came to our knowledge that Mikhoels and his friend, whose name I do not remember, had gone to Minsk. When this was reported to Stalin he immediately ordered us to carry out the liquidation in Minsk…After Mikhoels was liquidated Stalin highly praised the operation and ordered that the people who had performed it be decorated, which was carried out.”

Etinger I: Ibid; p. 120-121; Citing :’Argumenty i Fakty 2′; 1992.

Beria’s letter then outlines that the murder of Mikhoels was disguised by crudely staging a motor vehicle accident:

“The letter goes on to describe in detail how Mikhoels was “liquidated”. There were several options for eliminating Mikhoels: a) a car accident, b) running him over with a lorry in a deserted street. Since neither gave a 100 per cent guarantee the following course was decided upon: to invite Mikhoels, through one of our agents, to visit an acquaintance of his late at night, provide a car from the hotel he was staying in, allegedly to drive him there, take him to Tsanava’s dacha and liquidate him. Then the body was to be put in an out-of-the-way deserted street and run over by a lorry. And that is how it was done. To keep the matter secret, agent Golubov, who accompanied Mikhoels on this fatal visit, was also done away with (they were run over by a lorry near the dacha). At the end of the letter Beria declared:

The MVD deems it necessary:
a) to arrest and initiate proceedings against former USSR Deputy MGB Minister S. I. Ogol’’tsov and former State Security Minister of Belorussia L. F. Tsanava,
b) to repeal the Supreme Soviet decree conferring honours on the participants in the murder of Mikhoels and Golubov.”

Etinger I: Ibid; p. 120-121; Citing: ‘Argumenty i Fakty 2’; 1992.

In Conclusion: Alliance argues the following:

1. If it is agreed that Beria was a Marxist-Leninist, his letter indicates the primary responsibility for the attacks on the JAFC are laid on the door of low level operatives S. I. Ogol’tsov and L. F. Tsanava.

2. Backing up these individuals but at a higher level were the revisionists Malenkov and Suslov and Ponomoranev. Of these the first, was possibly a “vacillator” but the other two were definitely revisionists.

3. There remains the matter of Stalin. We argue that Stalin had nothing to gain by the murder of Mikhoels, that his “ego” definitely did not require this as bourgeois sources claim; and that it was not in his interests. However Abakumov’s testimony “fingers” Stalin. What then? Barring a “mistake” upon Stalin’s part, we suggest the following two possibilities:

i) Abakumov’s testimony cannot be simply discounted. We argue, that his testimony on the so called “Doctor’s Plots” shows him to be a basically honest individual (see below);
We further argue that if this is the case, then on the earlier issue of the JAFC, he was mis-led on the matter of Stalin’s orders;
Beria’s ‘testimony’ was ‘extracted’ by Khrushchev who of course went on to kill Beria.


ii) Another possibility exists: That Beria for some reason lied about Abakumov’s testimony. If so two possible reasons for this can be adduced:
Either Beria was NOT a Marxist-Leninist;
OR Beria decided that as a Marxist-Leninist – what was critical was that as far as possible the security apparatus be purged of revisionists in order to fight on for Marxism-Leninism. He may have reasoned that Stalin was dead and Abakumov was virtually dead anyway.

We believe the data thus far shows that Beria was a consistent Marxist-Leninist.
We believe therefore that the most likely conclusion is that Abakhumov was tricked by the revisionists into effecting Mikhoels murder.

It is very remarkable that the newer generation of revisionist leaders of the USSR – those who actually dissolved the state- held a Politburo Commission and declared the direct responsibility to lie with Malenkov.

It is pretty inconceivable that these individuals who hated Stalin, would not publicise evidence linking Stalin with this issue if it in truth existed:

“A Politburo Commission created by Mikhail Gorbachev and chaired by Alexander Yakovlev came to the conclusion on late 1988 that the “direct responsibility for the illegal repression of people arrested in the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee case was borne by G.M.Malenkov, who was directly involved in the investigation and trial.” Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.202-3.

The Case of Polinya

The wife of Molotov – Polina Zhemchuzhina – was Jewish. She had held high ranking posts for the Bolsheviks such as People’s Commissar of the Fish Industry, head of the State Perfume Trust, as well as being on the Bolshevik Central Committee. It is alleged that she incurred Stalin’s’ wrath as she had been the last person to see Nadezdha Allilueva alive before she committed suicide. This according to Vaksberg was the reason for her removal from the Central Committee for “failure in work.” Previously she had received a reprimand for neglect and, for allowing in 1939, some German spies to penetrate her area. According to Golda Meir’s testimony, Polinya “wished the Zionists in Palestine well” saying:

“If things go well for you, then things will be good for the Jews the whole world over.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.188.

This conversation was monitored and the Central Committee was informed. According to Vaksberg, Stalin reportedly told Molotov:

“It is time for you to divorce your wife.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.189.

It is important to recognise that as so often, the primary source for this conversational tit-bit of information is the revisionist Khrushchev.

In late 1948 the Molotovs were divorced, and in February 1949 Zhemchuzhina was arrested.

Prior to this, some bizzare personal charges including one of an extraordinary adultery involving a juniro employee, and espionage were laid at a meeting of the Politburo.

However even Vaksberg, is in agreement that various documents were indeed missing, from the Ministry of Light Industry textile branch, then being run by Zhemchuzhina.

Nonetheless the various charges against Zhemchuzhina also included:

“Being present at the memorial service at the synagogue on March 14th, 1945; enjoying the nationalistic play Freileks produced by the Jewish bourgeois nationalists Mikhoels at the Jewish Theatre; and of attending the funeral of Mikhoels.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.192.

It is likely that some of these latter minor charges are true. Whether that made her an enemy of the state is debateable in the view of Alliance currently. But it is notable that Zhemchuzhina never repudiated Stalin, even after years in prison (Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.192).

It seems most likely that both she and Molotov were aware that there were inner-party battles going on that explained the turn of events.
In fact although Stalin is blamed for these events, it is most unclear why Molotov should have been targeted. For not only did his wife suffer imprisonment, but observers agree that he himself was demoted in rank although he remained within the Politburo. (Knight M; Ibid; p.147).

Alliance argues then, that the general aim of the revisionists to take over leading positions of state power was assisted by the direct and in-direct attack upon Molotov – as far as we know a reliable Marxist-Leninist, while Stalin was alive.


The Changing Leadership of the Secret Service


This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”


It is accepted by most if not all Marxist-Leninists, that at various times, revisionists within the USSR Bolshevik party took control of the secret services.

Since that is the case, determining whether particular campaigns undertaken by the secret services – were really in the interests of the Marxist-Leninists, or the interests of the revisionists – needs to take into account several specific facts of the campaign as well as the personality of the chiefs of the secret service at the particular time in question.

In assessing the evidence regarding the alleged Zionist Plot, it is therefore necessary to understand those who made the allegations and effected the arrests.

The Case of Ezhov And the Appointment of Beria To The Secret Services

Stalin’s attempts at creating a trusted and close network of Marxist-Leninists around him in foreign policy (See Part Two of this article), matched a similar strategy in the secret service. In previous Alliance issues, we have discussed how, Stalin attempted to either root out, or at worst, to contain the counter-revolutionary terror, that was striking at the best of the Bolsheviks, as intended and organised by the hidden revisionists.

Firstly Yagoda was removed from heading the secret service after his Trotskyite affiliations became clear. His substitute was Nikolai Ivanovich Ezhov, who became the head of the Secret Police the NKVD. But again it appears that this office had been infiltrated by hidden revisionists.

For example, Arch Getty has shown how Stalin obstructed Ezhov in his “mass” arrests and expulsions from the party. For example, this exchange shows the antagonism between the two:

Ezhov: Comrades as a result of the verification of party documents we expelled more than 200,000 members of the party.
Stalin: [Interrupts] Very many.
Ezhov: Yes very many. I will speak about this..
Stalin: [Interrupts] If we explained 30,000..(inaudible remark) and 600 former Trotskyites and Zinoviev-ists it would be a bigger victory.
Ezhov: More than 200,000 members were expelled. Part of this number.. were arrested.”

Cited from Stenographic Records. Cited In AStalinist Terror, New Perspectives.”Ed. J.Arch Getty & Roberta T. Manning. Cambridge University Press, 1993. p.51).

Zhdanov (a close comrade-in-arms of Stalin) tried to place further brakes upon Ezhov, as shown when:

“In a highly publicized attack Zhdanov accused the Saratov kraikom (party leadership-Ed) of “dictatorship” and “repression”.. At the Feb 1937 Central Committee Plenum, Zhdanov gave the keynote speech on democratizing party organisations, ending bureaucratic repression of “little people,” and replacing the co-option of party leaders with grass roots elections. Indeed under pressure of this line, contested secret ballot party elections were held in 1937.”

Cited from Stenographic Records. Cited In AStalinist Terror, New Perspectives.”Ed. J.Arch Getty & Roberta T. Manning. Cambridge University Press, 1993. p.51).

In the case of Avel Enukidze, then Secretary of the Central Executive Committee of Soviets, Ezhov had wanted to expel him. But Stalin and Molotov defended Enukidze.

After further pressure from Ezhov, he was expelled.

But then Molotov and Stalin moved for him to be re-admitted. Though the plenum agreed with Stalin and Molotov, this re-admission never happened – having been arrested, he was shot in 1937. The record shows a clear pattern here – where Stalin was set versus Ezhov. (Arch Getty & Manning; Ibid; p.54).

Even in the case of the arch-Right revisionist Bukharin, (a leading ex-Bolshevik whose prominence and past service made him especially controversial – yet especially important to deal with. Precisely just in case he did become the focus of further organised opposition) – even his execution was controversial. Stalin wanted him expelled, and not even put on trial, let alone executed.

The opposition to Stalin on this matter were: Ezhov, Budennyi, Manuilskii, Shvernik, Kosarev and Iakir (who voted to shoot Bukharin without trial); and Litvinov, Postyshev, Shiriatov, and Petrovskii (Who voted to send Bukharin to an open trial).

The Plenum voted for Stalin’s line by a majority. But the documents of agreement were altered (in Mikoian’s handwriting) and Stalin’s advice was simply ignored. (Arch Getty & Manning; Ibid; p.58).

Even a very hostile Sudoplatov, records that Stalin’s attitude was surprisingly the opposite of the conventional portrait painted of a vindictive dictatorial individual. According to Sudoplatov, Stalin preferred private rebukes rather than prosecution, for example when dealing with instances of “corruption“:

“I learnt from Malenkov’s deputy- Anna Tsukanova.. That the Central Committee did not always prosecute corruption reported by the Party Control Commission and security organs. Stalin & Malenkov preferred to reproach an errant high-ranking official rather than to prosecute him, but if the man landed in the wrong power group, then the incriminating evidence was used to demote or purge him.”

Sudoplatov; Ibid; p. 319

It can only be reasonably concluded, that Stalin was trying hard to limit the damage being done by a revisionist taking cover behind a Left-ist and zealot position.

In this situation, Lavrentii Beria was put in this sensitive and critical job. Stalin himself put Beria into this job, after Ezhov had tried to prepare a case against Beria. Beria appealed to Stalin, who appointed Beria initially as Ezhov’s Aassistant”. Beria became first deputy chairman of the USSR NKVD at the end of August 1938, having been relieved of his prior position as first secretary of the Georgian party organisation. (Amy Knight: “Beria-Stalin’s First Lieutenant”; Princeton New Jersey 1993; p. 87-88). On 17 November 1938, Sovnarkom and the Central Committee adopted a report issued by Beria’s investigation entitled: “On Arrests – Supervision By the Procuracy And the Conduct of Investigations”, which passed a resolution. This was a:

“Strongly worded, lengthy resolution.. (it) Completely renounced the purges. Directed at party, Procuracy and NKVD officials in the republic it was highly critical of the “gross violations of legal norms” that had been committed during arrests and investigations in particular the reliance on confessions extracted from the accused and the failure to keep records. Furthermore the resolutions stated,
‘The NKVD has gone so far in distorting the norms of the judicial process that very recently questions have arisen about giving it so called limits on the process of mass arrests”. According to the resolution, Aenemies of the people” who had penetrated the NKVD and the Procuracy were falsifying documents and arresting innocent people”. The resolution forbade these organs from continuing their policy of mass arrests and exile. Henceforth arrests were to be made only with the consent of the court or the Procurator; the noxious NKVD troikas which decided cases of the spot were to be abolished.'”

Amy Knight: “Beria-Stalin’s First Lieutenant”; Princeton New Jersey 1993; p. 89.

Immediately after, in the words of Amy Knight, his biographer, Beria “cleansed” the NKVD. As far as he could, he tried to only place trusted Bolsheviks in the key positions. As he had personal knowledge from Georgia of who was reliable or not, many of the appointees were from Georgia. This has been labelled as a “Georgian mafia” controlled by Beria. But since the objective was to place trusted comrades in key positions, and Beria knew these people best – this derogatory term is un-justified. As Knight puts it, Beria:

“Set about “cleansing” the NKVD of undesirable elements, in other words he initiated a full-scale purge of the Ezhovites, executing or imprisoning hundreds of officials…. By early 1939 Beria had succeeded in arresting most of the top and middle level hierarchy of Ezhov’s apparatus, replacing these men with members of his Georgian group. It is possible to identify at least 12 Beria men…. appointed to key NKVD posts… Vsevold Merkulov.., Vladimir Dekanozov,… Bogdan Kobulov… Solomon Mil’shtein… Iuvelian Sumbatov-Topuridze.. Sardeon Nadaraia.”

Amy Knight: “Beria-Stalin’s First Lieutenant”; Princeton New Jersey 1993; p. 90-91

It is accepted by even hostile and anti-Marxist-Leninist writers, that following Beria’s changes, thousands of prisoners in the camps were released:

“There was a general feeling that the NKVD would eschew the excesses of the Ezhov period and people began to talk about a ‘Beria thaw’.”

Amy Knight: “Beria-Stalin’s First Lieutenant”; Princeton New Jersey 1993; p. 92

Many bourgeois reports and Khruschevite revisionists have labelled Beria as a man who was both a political evil and a sexual debauchee given to raping young girls. But these are dubious, as Knight herself acknowledges:

“It should be noted that the stories have been disputed by some who knew Beria. One former NKVD employee expressed strong doubts that Beria was raping young girls, noting that he was known in police circles as a man with exceptional self-control who worked extremely hard.”

Amy Knight: “Beria-Stalin’s First Lieutenant”; Princeton New Jersey 1993; p. 97.

As an enemy of both bourgeois and Khruschevite revisionists, Beria is bound to attract negative and libellous comments. But Marxist-Leninists are aware that Beria effectively cleared the NKVD of revisionist practices and revisionist personnel. His later treatment at the hands of the revisionists led by Khrushchev, who were now in power, after the death of Stalin – lends credence to the view that Beria was a Marxist-Leninist. That case has been well summarised by W.B. Bland in an article published by the Stalin Society of London UK.” (Bland: “The Doctors Case & The Death Of Stalin”; Stalin Society; London nd ca 1992. NB: soon to be placed on the web site of Alliance).

The Post-War Reshuffle That Removed Beria From Sole Control of the Secret Services – The Atomic Threat

Beria had proven himself capable of running the necessarily vigilant, but controlled secret service that a socialist state must have, faced by an imperialist combination.

However after the war, a new danger arose – the atomic bomb monopoly by the USA. It was essential to have in charge of the Russian Atomic Bomb project, someone who was an utterly reliable Bolshevik. Stalin ensured that Lavrentii Beria was given this mandate. This very serious and onerous task could not be done well with divided attention.

The future safety of the USSR critically depended upon its success. Therefore, Beria was duly relieved of his post as the sole Commissar of Internal Affairs which he had held from 1938 to December 1945. He ceased to be solely in charge of security and intelligence in the USSR and overseas – excepting for all security problems directly connected with his job as manager of the Special State Committee on Problem Number One – the creation of the atomic bomb. (Sudoplatov P, Ibid; p.315)

The secret services had already been divided into three arms in April 1943.

Probably this was likely to be because the work load was already too great to enable only one agency to entirely cover the work. Thus the former People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) was split into three arms:

1) The NKVD – still under Beria but who was now no longer responsible for state security but only for economic security:

“The NKVD under the leadership of Beria, was thereby relieved of the heavy problems of state security and became more and more an “economic’ organisation.”

B.Levytsky: “The Uses Of Terror: The Soviet State Security: 1917-1970”; London; 1971; p.160.

2) The Peoples Commissariat of State Security (NKGB) headed by Vsevolod Merkulov. He was known to be a close ally of Beria’s:

“He was one of Beria’s closest and trusted collaborators.”

B.Levytsky: “The Uses Of Terror: The Soviet State Security: 1917-1970”; London; 1971; p.141.

3) The Counter-Espionage Department of the People’s Commissariat for Defence (SMERSH) headed by Victor Abakumov.

After the war in 1946, SMERSH was abolished, and the NKVD was re-named the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and was headed by Sergey Kruglov who was later openly revisionist. The NKGB was renamed the Ministry of State Security (MGB) and remained under Abakumov.

Today most Marxist-Leninists are in agreement on the class affiliations of Beria, Kruglov, and Merkulov.

It is true that some Indian Marxist-Leninists (of Revolutionary Democracy) have recently raised questions about Beria, but these have not been to date, substantiated in print. We therefore will not deal with these purely verbal allegations.

But there still remains some significant queries about whether Abakumov was a Marxist-Leninist, or whether he was a revisionist.

We are forced to consider this matter for the correct interpretation of several later events – including the matter of Stalin’s death. Also, at least in part, the correct interpretation of the alleged Zionist Plot – hinges on this matter. We msut examine the question:

Was Victor Abakumov A Marxist-Leninist?

The Case for Abakumov Being a Marxist-Leninist:

Essentially as far as Alliance can discern, the case on behalf of Abakumov rests on two matters as follows:

i) An Alleged Friendship with Beria:

As the British Marxist-Leninist W.B. Bland views it, Beria and Abakumov were associated as close comrades. By this reasoning, Abakumov must have been a Marxist-Leninist. Bland cites the following views of historians of the Soviet secret services- Levytsky and Wolin & Slusser:

“Beria’s adversaries in the Party (i.e. the opponents of M-L-ism-Ed).. Achieved a notable victory in late 1951, with the replacement of V.S.Abakumov, an associate of Beria’s by S.P.Ignatiev a Party official, as head of the MVD”

S.Wolin & R.Slusser :”The Soviet Secret Police”; London; 1957; p.20.

“Abakumov, Beria’s intimate friend was removed from his post and replaced by S.D.Ignatiev.”

Levytsky op cit p.204

In corroboration of Bland’s point of view, it is also alleged by Sudoplatov that Abakumov was an ally of Beria (Sudoplatov; Ibid; p.324). However this view is contested by Amy Knight- who is undoubtedly the most extensive biographer of Beria (albeit a bourgeois historian), available in the English language. Knight claims that:

“Beria’s loyal deputy Merkulov was replaced by Victor Abakumov as head of the MGB late in the summer of 1946. This change was not instigated by Beria who was distressed to lose Merkulov.”

Knight Ibid; p.141.

Knight maintains that Stalin placed Abakumov in charge of the MGB. This is very possible as the pressures on Beria had to be relieved somehow. But it is most unlikely that it was done for the purpose, as Knight maintains, that Stalin wanted to:

“Limit Beria’s pervasive influence on the security organs.”

(Knight Ibid; p.141).

The pressures dictating that Beria should be freed for the work on the nuclear bomb, meant that several loop-holes had opened, for the revisionists to squeeze themselves back into the security apparatus with a view to renewing disruption. As the changes took place, several opportunities arose:

“The following months witnessed numerous changes in both the MVD and MGB as several new deputies arrived, apparently under the auspices of Abakumov and Kruglov. These changes may also have been influenced by the arrival of a new CC secretary A.A.Kuznetsov, who took over party supervision of the police. With the exception of Stepan Mamulov, a longtime Beria crony who became a deputy minister in the MVD, none of the new men were part of Beria’s “Georgian Mafia”, although most had been in the security or internal affairs organs for a long time.”

(Knight Ibid; p.141).

ii) Khrushchev ordered the execution of Abakumov

Abakumov was arrested while Stalin was still alive.

It is thus highly plausible that the arrest itself, coming under Stalin’s life time, might have been a part of the revisionist strategy or the Marxist-Leninist strategy.

However, there is no doubt that Abakumov was tried, after Stalin’s death, in Leningrad before the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court presided over by Lieutenant-Colonel E.L. Zeidin. He was charged with “committing the same crimes as Beria”, and also with having:

“Fabricated the so-called Leningrad Case’, in which many Party and Soviet officials were arrested without grounds and falsely accused of very grave state crimes”.

In Bland: “The Doctors Case & The Death Of Stalin”; Stalin Society; London nd ca 1992; p.66.

Thus Abakumov was then sentenced to death by shooting, by the revisionists. This pro-Abakumov evidence seems to Alliance fragmentary at best.

If Stalin was still alive while Abakumov was imprisoned, it suggests that Stalin did not try to obtain his release. One suspects that were Beria to be imprisoned, Stalin would have moved heaven and earth to get him out.

What evidence is there against Abakumov?

The Case Against Abakumov

i) Abakumov’s other Allegiances

In 1947, Abakumov revealed the responsibility of Malenkov for some defects in aviation production that were apparently concealed from the state. (Sudoplatov; Ibid; p.315).

Malenkov was given a party reprimand, demotion & a temporary exile to Kazakhstan and removed from the CC secretariat. However Malenkov’s duties were then taken by Aleksei A. Kuznetsov. Sudoplatov claims that: “Kuznetsov & Abakumov soon became friends.”

But if this is truly so, this must shed some doubt and suspicion upon Abakumov’s identity as a Marxist-Leninist, since Kuznetsov was well known to be a close ally of the revisionists Vosnosenky and Khrushchev. As Bland has pointed out in the Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau Report no 2 (reprinted as Alliance Number 17) the Politburo of the CC of the CPSU(B):

“adopted a resolution “On the Anti-Party Actions of the Comrades Aleksey A. Kuznetsov, Mikhail I Rodionov and Pyotr S Popkov.”

Bland ML Research Bureau; Report No.2; London; nd circa 1992; p. 25

Also, as W.B.Bland had previously made clear in the now classic “Restoration of Capitalism in the USSR,” Kuznetsov was an ally of the arch-revisionists Vosnosenky and Khrushchev:

“Party leaders confide that … Vosnosensky and Kuznetsov … (were) in 1949… trying to establish a separate Communist organisation in the Russian Soviet Republic .. With headquarters in Leningrad instead of Moscow.”

C.L. Sulzberger:”The Big Thaw”; New York; 1956;

Also See Bland In “Restoration”; Wembley 1988; reprinted Alliance Number 14; p.342.

Also find Appendix 3 “The Leningrad Plot” at:

But Stalin is said to have fought for Malenkov’s reinstatement from Sudoplatov’s testimony:

“Stalin however allowed Malenkov to return to Moscow after two months & appointed him deputy prime minster. Beria in this period strongly supported Malenkov.” (Ibid).

Malenkov was a later vacillator and not a firm Marxist-Leninist. But Stalin had clearly recognised the anti-Marxist-Leninist behaviurs of Kuznetsov.

(ii) The General Zhukov Affair

Abakumov was apparently behind various attempts to destroy the career of General Zhukov, and his efforts resulted in the dismissal of Zhukov from the Bolshevik party CC. Using evidence from the imprisoned General Nivikov, Zhukov was charged with conspiracy. In these charges, Novikov had described Zhukov as being of a man of:

“Exceptional ambition” and… A man “namoured with himself”, who loved glory and honour. He was officious and would not tolerate opposition.”

Chaney, Preston: “Zhukov”; 1976; Norman Oklahoma; p. 371.

But as Zhukov’s biographer makes clear, Stalin only reluctantly agreed to an enforced and temporary retreat for Zhukov, pending full investigation saying:

“Nonetheless Comrade Zhukov, you will have to leave Moscow for a while.”

Chaney Ibid; p. 373.

Zhukov was sent to Odessa to run the Military District from June 13th to December 1947.

He was reprimanded in June 1947 for the only single objective negative fact that had emerged on him. What was this? Zhukov had in peacetime awarded an actress with a medal. He was therefore reprimanded then for:

“Improperly rewarding artists in his district. The right to reward reverted in peacetime to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.”

Chaney Ibid; p. 374.

In December 1947 Zhukov was summoned to the Central committee Plenum where he heard his charges read out. Upon hearing that no new facts were stated he refused to argue, and when he saw that the ensuing vote had expelled him from the Central Committee, he simply marched out. All other allegations, against Zhukov remained un-proven. But as Chaney says, Stalin remained unconvinced of Zhukov’s “error”:

“Despite their relentless effort to have Zhukov arrested, Beria and Abakumov failed to convince Stalin of the Marshall’s guilt. As Khrushchev told Zhukov later, Stalin said to Beria:
“I don’t believe anyone that Zhukov would agree to this. I know him well. He is a straightforward person; he is sharp and can say unpleasant things to anyone bluntly, but he will never be against the Central Committee.”
Another version was that Stalin said:
“No, I won’t arrest Zhukov. I know him well. For four years of war, I knew him better that my own self.”

Chaney Ibid; p. 375.

Thus it was Stalin who resisted the attacks on Zhukov, in which to a large extent Abakumov was involved. Naturally, others were also involved in the complex battles, and the inter-relationships become important, to attempt to systematically work out.

From 1947 General Rukhadze was placed in the Ministership of state security of Georgia, having been in the war years, the head of SMERSH in the Caucasus. According to Sudoplatov his anti-Beria inclinations were well known. (Sudoplatov; Ibid; p.321.)

He was assisted by Ryumin, who later becomes a key figure in the subsequent anti-Marxist-Leninist plots, that became known to the world at large as the “Anti-Zionist Plot” and the “Doctors’ Plot.”

We will return to Abakumov below, when we examine his testimony on the murder of Mikhoels and the Doctor’s Plot (See below).

But at least some evidence cited to this point in this report, continues to identify Abakumov as an honest Marxist-Leninist.

Given the obvious truth that the revisionists were responsible for his death, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that as Bland has it, Abakumov was an honest Marxist-Leninist.


“Legalizing” the Formation of the State of Israel by the United Nations Partition & the USSR Recognition – 1947


This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”

At the early stages of the Comintern, the views of Lenin were still unchallenged by the later revisionist opposition, who would finally succeed in hi-jacking the Comintern, only by 1928.

Even when Stalin took over the leadership of the CPSU(B), until 1925 his views were not easily ignored. Matters within the Comintern, were however dominated by the succeeding revisionist factions – first of Zinoviev, and then those of Bukharin, and then by that of Dimitrov-Kuussinen-Manuilsky.

At the early stages then, policies were in general correctly Marxist-Leninist. For instance, article (11f), was passed at the Second Congress of Comintern (still attended by Lenin), that condemned the attempts of foreign imperialism to establish the divisive “Jewish” state of Israel; in Arab Palestine.

“(11 f) It is essential constantly to expose and to explain to the widest masses of the working people everywhere, and particularly in the backward countries, the deception practiced by the imperialist Powers with the help of the privileged classes in the oppressed countries in creating ostensibly politically independent States which are in reality completely dependent on them economically, financially, and militarily. A glaring example of the deception practiced on the working classes of an oppressed nation by the combined efforts of Entente imperialism and the bourgeoisie of that same nations is offered by the Zionists’ venture (And by Zionism as a whole, which under the pretense of creating a Jewish state in Palestine in fact surrenders the Arab working people of Palestine, where the Jewish workers form only a small minority to exploitation by England). In present international circumstances there is no salvation for dependent and weak nations except as an alliance of Soviet republics.”

Theses 2nd Comintern Congress: AThe National & Colonial Question A; Ed J.Degras; Vol 1; p.144.

It must be asked then, why Andrey A. Gromyko, the UN representative of the USSR, and the Soviet ambassador to the USA, voted at the United Nations, to recognise the formation of the state of Israel in 1947? While the European Communist Parties were being ideologically re-educated by the Cominform, in the weakened state of the USSR it turned out that Andrei Gromyko was appointed to the United Nations. Gromyko’s later overt revisionism was clear. But at that time, he was not revealed as a revisionist.

The Palestine Communist Party had been agitating very publicly that there should be no division of the territory of Palestine between Jewish immigrants and the local indigenous Palestinians Arab population. However at the very first session of the UN in San Francisco, Gromyko voted for the division of Palestine and the establishment of the state of Israel. This policy went against the long history of Marxist-Leninists, who had argued that Jews should be assimilated in the country they lived, and should join the class struggle there.

The result was a temporary victory for the revisionist faction inside the leading echelons of the CPSU(B), led by Khrushchev.

As Walter Laquer, one of the most well known historians of the Zionist movement puts it, Gromyko was very much in the vanguard of the push for an independent Israel. Even propelling the hesitant President Truman and the USA into his wake:

“President Truman and his advisers were firmly resolved not to give any lead to the United Nations but to wait for the emergence of a consensus. Much to the surprise of the Zionists the Soviet attitude was much more positive. This first became evident when the Jewish Agency asked to be permitted (as a matter of simple justice’) to appear at the UN on behalf of the Jewish people since the Arabs were already represented there. They had the immediate support of the Soviet delegation, and on May 15 Gromyko spoke not without sympathy about the aspirations towards Palestine of a considerable part of the Jewish people, of the calamities and sufferings they had undergone throughout the last war, (which defy description’) and the grave conditions in which the masses of the Jewish population found themselves after the war. He mentioned partition as one of several possible solutions. This unexpected support continued throughout 1947 and led later that year to the Soviet decision to vote for partition. Traditionally the Soviet attitude to Zionism had been extremely hostile, and since Moscow reverted to is earlier position not long after the state of Israel came into being once can only conclude that the short-lived rapprochement came exactly at the right moment for the Zionists. Without it they would not have stood a chance… On 15 may 1947 the General Assembly approved the establishment of a committee of eleven to investigate the Palestine question to make proposals for a settlement…The UNSCOP committee (United Nations Special Committee on Palestine) majority came out in favour of partition.. And were published on 31 August 1947. Both the majority and the minority reports were drafted by the same man – Dr Ralphe Bunche…. a hesitating President Truman gave his assent to the partition scheme on 9 October 1947… The vote was taken on 29 November and the motion carried by 33 to 13…. The state of Israel came into being at a meeting of the National Council at 4 pm on Friday 14 May 1948.. The first country to recognise the new state was the USA.. Within the next few days the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala Uruguay and other countries followed.”

Laquer W; AA History of Zionism”; New York; 1976; p. 578; 582; 586.

It is clear that Gromyko was also fighting a propaganda war for an independent state of Israel based in Palestine, inside the USSR. Clearly even members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (see below) such as Solomon (or Shlomo) Mikhoels were influenced by this, as related by Teller:

“In a small and select group the conversation turned to Gromyko’s speech on the Palestine question. Actor-director Shlomo Mikhoels alluded to a passage in one of the Yiddish classics by Mendel Mocher Sefarim in which a Jew ask a Russian peasant to point him the way to the Land of Israel. “Gromyko”, said Mikhoels in exaltation, “is that good Gentile who shows us the way to the Land of Israel.”

Teller, Judd T: “The Kremlin, The Jews and the Middle East”; p.106; New York; 1957;

What seems to have happened is apparent from recent detailed memorandums that reveal that the USSR first did take a principled Marxist-Leninist line which was then subverted.

In order to be clear, we show this process below, citing both the primary and the secondary source.

The tremendous refugee problem after the war, obviously consisted of a huge Jewish population. The USSR government was already aware of proposals that this should be remedied by the formation of a state inside Germany:

“20 February 1945, the Third European Division of the USSR People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (NKID) sent a memorandum (from the Jewish Committee – dated 11.11.1944 – ed) to Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs V. G. Dekanozov. It informed him that the Soviet Embassy in Italy had forwarded two letters to the NKJD, one addressed to I. V. Stalin, the other to V. M. Molotov, from the Rome-based Jewish Committee of the International Union of Emigrants and Refugees. Enclosed with the letters was a proposal for creating an independent Jewish state on German territory and a map of Germany where the prospective state was delineated.”

Strizhov I;:” The Soviet Position on the Establishment of the State of Israel”; Op Cit; p.303

As will be discussed later, proposals were also made by the progressive Soviet Jews for the resolution of the problem in the Crimean republic of the USSR. However by now, the Zionists had already made Palestine their goal.

Initially the objective reality of a larger settler population – whether illegally arrived or not – inside Palestine was to be confronted by the remaining Marxist-Leninists within the CPSU(B), by the correct insistence that the mandate of Britain over Palestine should be lifted; and possibly replaced by a Mandate responsible to the entire UN.

It was rightly pointed out, by the CPSU(B) Marxist-Leninists, that the British had “failed” to peacefully resolve the situation.

This was articulated on 27 July 1945 in a memo signed by M.M.Litvinov in his post as, Chairman of the “Committee on Preparing Peace Treaties and the Postwar Order.” Although Litvinov was at best a vacillating Marxist-Leninist, and at worst a concious enemy of the USSR state [as several sources can attest to] – nonetheless the key memo itself had been set up by the diplomats within the USSR People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (NKID), who:

“Sent a memorandum entitled ‘The Palestine Question'” to Stalin, Molotov and the Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Its conclusion read:

1. No matter how hard the British may try to prove that their present policy in Palestine conforms to the Balfour Declaration, it is obvious that they have failed to live up to the mandate entrusted to them. This was admitted in the.. statements by high-ranking British statesmen. This is sufficient justification for taking the Palestine mandate away from the British.

2.The Palestine question cannot be duly settled without impinging upon the wishes and rights of Jews or Arabs, or perhaps both. The British government is in equal measure subject to the influence of the Arab states and world Jewry. Hence its difficulties in choosing the correct means to settle the Palestine problem.

3. The US government is subject to the same influences. While British Palestine policy is necessarily affected mainly by orientation towards Arab interests, the American government is subject in the first place to the influence of the powerful US Jewry. It should be recalled that at the latest presidential elections both the Democratic and the Republican parties felt compelled to issue declarations on their attitude to Palestine, demanding unrestricted immigration of Jews and unrestricted rights for Jews to their own land. At the same time, the US government would hardly choose to quarrel with the Arabs, in view of the fact that the oil pipeline from Saudi Arabia in which they have a stake will run through hundreds of kilometres of Arab territory. That would put the US government in as difficult a position regarding Palestine as the British government.

4. The USSR, free from either Arab or Jewish influence, would be in a better position to tackle the Palestine issue. This at least entitles it to request a temporary trusteeship over Palestine until a more radical solution is found.

5. The British attach to Palestine, which guards the approaches to the Suez Canal and has an outlet for Iraqi oil on its territory, too much importance for us to expect them to consent even to a temporary transfer of Palestine to the hands of another state, particularly, the USSR.

6. In the event that the Soviet request is rejected the following solution suggests itself: transfer of Palestine to the collective trusteeship of three states – the USSR, USA and Britain. These three powers will be able to take the requisite decisions collectively, paying less tribute to the opinion of the Arab or the Jewish population than either the American or British government acting on its own would feel obliged to do.

7.The provisions of collective trusteeship shall be bound neither by the Balfour Declaration nor by any promises Britain has earlier given as the mandatary power, so that the new collective administration could tackle the Palestine problem in all fairness, in accordance with the interests of the entire population and the new imperatives of political realities and general security.”

Strizhov I;:” The Soviet Position on the Establishment of the State of Israel”; Op Cit; p.304-305; Citing 5.Arkhiv vneshnei politiki MID SSSR (AVP),fond (f.) . 07,opis’ (op.) 12a, papka (pk.) 42, delo (d.) 6, pp. 36-8

This generally correct line, given the new circumstances, continued to hold until May 1946.

By then the British and the USA imperialists had continued the general policy of divide and rule. They had established the Anglo-American Committee, which had alienated both Jews and Arabs:

“In December 1945 an Anglo-American Committee was set up to investigate the situation in Palestine. It was entrusted with a wide range of tasks connected with the Palestine problem as a whole. The Committee’s report was made public in April 1946 and was met with an outburst of violent recriminations throughout the Arab states and with bitter disappointment on the part of the Jews.”

Strizhov I;:” The Soviet Position on the Establishment of the State of Israel”; Op Cit; p.305

The previous line of the USSR was brought up to date, in order to acknowledge that the Anglo-American Committee had attempted to continue the British imperialist mandate “jointly.”

In the circumstances, the correct Marxist-Leninist line was taken – to use the UN to “reveal the aspirations” of the imperialists to “prevent the interference of other countries” in settling the issue.

It was correctly stated (and consistent with previous Marxist-Leninist views) that anti-racism and anti-Semitism was a reflection of larger forces and could not be dealt with simply by creating a state – that anyway could not “house” every one subject to racism.

Moreover it correctly noted that in the current situation unless the issue was brought up, the British and USA would succeed in enforcing their will – “our silence on the Palestine issue.”

The correct approach however was to allow the Arabs to raise the question at the UN. This was put in an up-dated memo to Dekanozov, Molotov’s Deputy:

“A memorandum entitled ‘The Palestine Question’, based on the results of the Litvinov Committee, was compiled by the Middle East Department of the USSR Foreign Ministry and on 15 May 1946 was sent to Dekanozov. It read: ‘Attempts by Britain and the US jointly to continue the British mandate outside the framework of the UN reveal their aspiration to prevent the interference of other countries in the settlement of the Palestine question until Palestine is fully under the control of the US and Britain. Our silence on the Palestine issue might be interpreted by the US, Britain, Arabs and Jews as the Soviet Union’s partial approval of the proposals put forth by the committee. Bearing this in mind and in view of the fact that official and unofficial representatives of both Arab states and Jewish organizations are running to the Soviet Union in order to have the Palestine problem settled it would be expedient to set forth the Soviet point of view on the Palestine problem in two or three articles to be published in the press. Later our diplomatic representatives may refer to these articles in private conversations if they are approached by Arab or Jewish representatives in connection with the Palestine question.”

Strizhov I;; Op Cit; p.305 citing: AVP, f. 06, op. 08, pk. 42, d. 694, pp. 2-4

After this preamble, the most likely Marxist-Leninist position advisable, was crystallised as being to reject the Anglo-American Committee’s position as “incompetent” and to insist upon abrogation of the British mandate in Palestine:

“Presumably, our position on the Palestine question should be as follows:

1.The Anglo-American committee set up to study the Palestine question without the participation of the UN was not competent to discuss. ..and tackle the Palestine problem without the participation of the parties directly concerned.

2.The Jewish question in Europe cannot be solved through Jewish immigration to Palestine, inasmuch as only complete eradication of racism and the democratization of European countries can create normal conditions for the existence of the Jewish masses.

3.The British mandate in Palestine should be abrogated since it is impeding a radical solution of the Palestine question and jeopardizing security in the Middle East. All foreign troops should be withdrawn from Palestine.

4. Palestine should be placed under the trusteeship of the UN which within a certain period of time will lay the groundwork for a sovereign and democratic Palestine. We must not submit the Palestine question for consideration by the UN. It should be raised by the Arab UN members themselves. We should only voice our opinion and uphold it. It would be expedient to postpone the publication of articles on the Palestine question until the session of the Council of Foreign Ministers has completed its deliberations.”

Strizhov I; Op Cit; p.305 citing: AVP, f. 06, op. 08, pk. 42, d. 694, pp. 2-4

The best elements of the Jewish immigrants into the Palestine lands, were the left wing Poalei-Tsion (led by L. Levite and M. Erem) and the Hashomer-Hatsair Workers Party (led by Y.Barzilai), had participated in the Palestine-USSR Friendship League. They were already in contact with the Soviet Ambassador to Poland V.Z. Lebedev.

As he wrote to Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister A.Ia Vyshinskii, the Hasomer-Hatsair were in agreement with the principle of a federation of an Arab-Jewish state with two national chambers. This differed from the Poalei-Tsion. (Strizhov I; Op Cit; p.306).

The US Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles now showed the USA policy response, which was to accept the challenge of ensuring an imperialist led take-over of the United Nations.

Accordingly the British were persuaded to agree publicly to their failure:

“In mid-February 1947 the British government officially admitted that since it was unable to find a solution to the Palestine problem, it was going to ask the United Nations to recommend one.”

Strizhov Op Cit; p.307; citing Sumner Welles, We Need Not Fail (Boston:1948), p.41.

Even as late as 5 March 1947, the Middle East Department of The USSR Foreign Ministry were pursuing a correct Marxist-Leninist line.

They sent Vyshinskii a memo entitled “The Palestine Problem” (October 1946-February 1947), which based itself upon the previously cited points 2 and 3 of the May memo.

But more public stands were shortly to be needed by the Soviet hidden revisionist representatives to the UN. By 6 March the UN Soviet delegate Boris Shtein had noted that although until then, the UN had “refrained from formulating its stand on the Palestine question,” the fact that the discussion was now tabled would force a public stand by the USSR.

This was an ideal opportunity for the Soviets take the principled Marxist-Leninist line: to demand the withdrawal of British troops, the full independence for Palestine, and a full democratic statute.

But since Arab-Jewish “contradictions” would still exist, the resolution could only be exercised via a United Nations “collective trusteeship” – specifically thereby rejecting a British “trusteeship” only.

At least this would ensure the possibility of real Soviet brakes upon the Zionist settlers and their wars against the Arabs for land.

This line was indeed put, or outlined, in the following internal memo to Vyshinsky:

“Up until now the USSR has refrained from formulating its stand on the Palestine question. However, the upcoming discussion of the issue by the UN impels us to formulate our position. First of all, the USSR must come out resolutely for the abrogation of Britain’s Palestine mandate. Britain has not coped with its responsibilities as the mandatary power. Throughout the duration of the mandate… Britain has not succeeded in establishing order in the country and preventing almost un-intermittent bloodshed. Substituting British trusteeship for the mandate is also out of the question. The change of signboard will not change anything. What could be considered is collective trusteeship over Palestine by the UN as an organization or by several nations (in effect, permanent Security Council members). However, this possibility is excluded by the fact that the population of the country, both Arabs and Jews, are mature enough for independence. Neither Arabs nor Jews would agree to any trusteeship whatsoever and want complete independence. The Soviet Union cannot but support the demand for full independence for Palestine.. The withdrawal of British troops from the country should be the first and obligatory precondition for the independence of Palestine. Still, granting independence to Palestine would not take the edge off Arab-Jewish contradictions in the country. The Soviet Union cannot see any way of settling them other than by democratic means. Thus, alongside independence, Palestine should obtain a democratic statute ensuring full and genuine equality (civil, political and national) for the population of Palestine as a whole. The statute is to be worked out by the UN Organization, which is subsequently to become a guarantor of its implementation. The fact that Britain has relegated the Palestine question to the United Nations for discussion, enables the USSR for the first time not only to voice its views on the issue but also to take an active part in Palestine’s fate.”

Strizhov I; Op Cit; Citing p.308; AVP, f. 07, op. 12, pk. 42, d. 6, pp. 140-1.

In Gromyko’s speech of 17 May 1947, made to the UN, he correctly pointed out, in accordance with the general USSR line, that:

“The mandate administration established in Palestine in 1922 has not proved itself.”

Strizhov I; OP Cit; p.308.

He even went on to note, that no single West European state had protected the “elementary rights” of the Jewish people, and that “vast numbers” were homeless and without subsistence. Again this was consistent with the line evolved previously.

But then he radically departed from the previously agreed line – of setting up a democratic Palestine with “full and genuine equality for all the population of Palestine as a whole.”

Instead Gromyko proposed a Partition of Palestine, seemingly as a fall-back position, if a democratic Palestine was not agreeable.

In reality this unacceptable and revisionist line was designed to open the door on an imperialist settlement of the Palestine question:

“Gromyko pointed out that neither past history’ nor the conditions now obtaining in Palestine’ justified a one-sided settlement of the Palestine question’ that ignored the legitimate rights’ of both the Arab and Jewish populations. The Soviet delegation had come to the conclusion that the legitimate interests of both the Jewish and the Arab peoples of Palestine could be safeguarded only if an integral Arab Jewish democratic state’ were established. If this variant proved unattainable’ due to the deterioration of Arab-Jewish relations, then it would be necessary to consider the second variant, which had gained currency in Palestine: the partition of Palestine into two independent sovereign states – one Jewish and one Arab.”

Strizhov I;:Op Cit; p.309; 1zvestiia, 16 May 1947.

It is not surprising, that some Zionist observers were surprised by this line from someone claiming to be the representative of the USSR, as the line was quite in “contradiction to the explicitly anti-Zionist attitude”:

“Gromyko’s speech, an Israeli diplomat commented many years later, ‘was in complete contradiction to the explicitly anti-Zionist attitude which both communist ideologists and practical politicians had expressed repeatedly and consistently over several decades.. therefore came as a great surprise.”

Strizhov I;:Op Cit; p.309; Avigdor Dagan, Moscow and Jerusalem” (London, 1970), pp. 19-20.

On the 15 May 1947, UNSCOP (United Nations Special Committee On Palestine) was established and it reported to the General Assembly on 13 October 1947. Speaking in support of partition, the Soviet representative Tsarapkin:

“Pointed out that the Jews’ desire to create their own state was understandable, and it would be unjust to deny the Jewish people the right to realize these aspirations. The creation of a Jewish State has become a ripe and urgent issue’.Having supported in principle the recommendations submitted by a majority in the special committee’ for the partition of Palestine, he declared: If this session of the General Assembly decides to establish a Jewish and an Arab state, it would be a big stride forward in the settlement of the Palestine question as a whole.”

Strizhov I;:” ASoviet Position”; Op Cit; p. 309-310; Pravda, 16th October 1947.

The final proposals were put to the General Assembly after having been agreed to by the ad hoc committee including the Soviet Ukrainian and Belorussian delegates:

“On 25 November 1947 the ad hoc committee adopted the proposal for the partition of Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. The Soviet, Ukrainian and Belorussian delegates all voted for the proposal. The Partition Plan was considered and put to the vote at the General Assembly plenary sessions held between 26-29 November 1947. The session’s proceedings were marked by heated debate.”

Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p. 310.

When on 26 November 1947, Gromyko addressed the plenary session, he defended Partition on the grounds that it met the demands of the Jewish people, and he insisted that the Soviet delegation had been insistent and quite un-ambiguous upon this matter:

“The resolution of the question of Palestine on the basis of its partition into two independent states will have great historic significance inasmuch as it meets the legitimate demands of the Jewish people…In the opinion of the Soviet delegation, the plan for the settlement in Palestine submitted by the committee and stipulating that the Security Council is to be entrusted with its practical implementation, fully coincides with the interests of maintaining and strengthening international peace and the promotion of inter-state cooperation. Therefore the Soviet delegation supports the recommendation for the partition of Palestine. Unlike some other delegations, the Soviet delegation has from the very outset taken a clear-cut and unambiguous stand upon this question and is consistently upholding it. It will not engage in manoeuvring or manipulations with votes as is regrettably the case at the Assembly, in particular in connection with the debates on the Palestine issue.”

Strizhov I; Ibid; p. 310; vnethnaiapohuha Soretskogo Sniuza (Moscow, 1948), pp. 244-2, 244-5.

On 29 November 1947 the General Assembly adopted Resolution 181(11) on the partition of Palestine into two states. This decision, endorsed the establishment of the State of Israel.

Resolution 181(11) established in January 1948, a special UN commission to “supervise” preparations for the creation of the Arab and the Jewish states.

While this objectively supported the long term imperialist plans for the Middle East, a certain myopia on the part of the imperialists prevented their seeing immediately that they should be pleased.

Initially therefore, it encountered opposition from the British who obstructed its’ work. On the floor of the UN, the US supported the British and argued that it was not possible to perform the task of partition peacefully. But the USA in turn was heatedly opposed by Gromyko who insisted that there should be no such problem:

“The work of the commission generated acrimonious debate and differences in the UN Security Council which was to ensure the implementation of the resolution. At the Security Council meeting on 19 March 1948 the United States representative Warren Austin submitted a proposal for convening the 2nd Special Session of the General Assembly ‘to establish UN trustee-ship over Palestine’, claiming that ‘it is allegedly impossible to carry out the Palestine partition program.. .by peaceful means’. In reply, Soviet representative Gromyko declared that the US stand had nothing in common with the General Assembly resolution and that the Soviet Union could not agree with that position.”

Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p.310; Pravda, 21 March 1948.

Because of the impasse, it was sponsored that the UN establish a trusteeship plan. This had been the original Soviet intention as shown by the above memos put to the Foreign Ministry.

Now however, Gromyko expressly argued against these plans, and in effect, Gromyko ensured that partition would occur with very likely, a quick Israeli take-over of the whole of Palestine:

“On 30 March 1948 when two US resolutions providing for an immediate truce between the Arabs and the Jews and the convocation of a special General Assembly session to reconsider the earlier decision on partition were submitted to the Security Council, Gromyko criticized the US trusteeship plan, characterizing the partition of Palestine as a just solution and insisting that US allegations about the impossibility of effecting the partition by peaceful means were groundless. He said the Palestine Commission should continue its work in order to carry out the partition ‘so long as the General Assembly decisions remained in force’. “

Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p.310-311; Pravda, 1 April 1948.

Now that in effect the damage had been done, the Soviet delegation promptly abstained from the decision to convene a special General Assembly. But at the General Assembly hearing on 20 April 1948, Gromyko again severely attacked the USA and Britain for refusing to accept partition:

“They are out to torpedo the partition decision and impose on the United Nations their decision on Palestine’s future, prompted by the self-seeking interests of the US ruling circles..have put forward new.. proposals to establish trusteeship over Palestine.”

Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p. 311; Izvestiia, 23 April 1948.

The rejection of the previously “acceptable” UN trusteeship line, was now masked in high flown language as expressed by Tsarapkin:

“On 3 May 1948 Tsarapkin, addressing the 1st Committee, rejected the US attempts to impose a trusteeship regime on the peoples of Palestine’. He said: The high level of cultural, social, political and economic development of the Jewish people is indisputable. Such a people should not be put under trusteeship. Such a people has every right to a sovereign state of its own. Any attempts to impose trusteeship on such a people will only discredit the main idea and essence of trusteeship. And are the Palestinian Arabs less deserving of independent existence in their own state than Arabs living outside Palestine? Certainly not. Both the Jewish and the Arab people in Palestine have undoubtedly reached such a stage of political, economic and social development that placing them under trusteeship of any kind is out of the question.”

Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p. 311; Izvestiia, 6 May 1948.

What was therefore the USA and British motives in now delaying?

It is true that the certain perceptive USA diplomats probably correctly and honestly, viewed the Partition as “un-workable.” Loy Henderson’s memorandum of September 22 was entitled “Certain Considerations Against Advocacy by the USA of the Majority Plan” and argued against Partition as follows:

“In summary, Henderson’s main points were that support of the majority plan would undermine US relations withe the Arab and Moslem worlds; that the USA would be expected to make a major contribution to the implementation of the Plan; that any plan for partitioning Palestine was unworkable; that adoption of the plan would not dispose of the Palestine problem; and finally that the proposals in the plan Awere not based on any principle of an international character…. but in definite contravention of… the Charter of the UN as well as the principles on which American Concepts of government are based.”

Wilson E.M. “Decision On Palestine-How the US Came to Recognise Israel”; Stanford;1979; p.117

But the real reason of the higher politicians of the USA, was to enable the maximum possible land grabbing by the Zionists.

While the filibustering at the UN was going on, the Jewish settlers were feverishly grabbing land and terrorising the Palestinians. This reality was referred to, but in a veiled manner by Gromyko who in effect – again simply justified the on-going practical “partition” as a “reality”:

“At the 1st Committee Session on 4 May 1948, Gromyko called on the General Assembly to admit that partition was in fact being implemented. This, he said, was clear from a statement made by a representative of the UN Secretariat, from reports of the Jewish Agency and publications in the US and elsewhere. ‘While the General Assembly is engaged in discussions, the Jewish state will become a reality despite the efforts of some UN members to create all kinds of obstacles’, he asserted.”

Finally the discussions were ended by the practical establishment of the state of Israel.

It was claimed by Pravda that the USA had “suffered a fiasco”:

“On 14 May 1948 the Special Session of the UN General Assembly ended, for on that day the establishment of the State of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv. Pravda commented: ADevelopments at the Special Session of the General Assembly showed that the US, on whose initiative it had been convened, suffered a fiasco. The initial plans of the US were frustrated. The US delegation did not even dare to put its proposal for establishing a trusteeship regime over the whole of Palestine to the vote. The General Assembly also rejected the British proposal for a provisional regime for Palestine. This proposal, amounting to trusteeship but presented in a disguised form, was criticized by the delegation of the USSR and some other countries. In the course of the debate on the Palestine issue, the USSR pursued a consistent policy, upholding the decision on the partition of Palestine and exposing all scheming with respect to Palestine.”

After the fait accompli, when “On 16 May 1948 Moshe Shertok (later Sharett), Foreign Minister of the Provisional Government of Israel, sent a cable to Molotov”, asking for official recognition it was granted:

“In a telegram to Shertok of 17 May 1948 Molotov replied:
‘This is to inform you that the Government of the USSR has decided to extend official recognition to the State of Israel and its Provisional Government. The Soviet Government believes that the creation by the Jewish people of its sovereign state will serve the cause of strengthening peace and security in Palestine and the Middle East and expresses confidence that friendly relations between the USSR and the State of Israel will develop successfully.”

Strizhov I;:” ‘Soviet Position”; Ibid; p. 313; Pravda, 18 May 1948.

Soon after, within a month later, on 26 June 1948, the appointments were announced of P.I. Ershov, as “USSR Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in the State of Israel”; and of Mrs. Golda Meyerson “Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the State of Israel in the USSR”. (Strizhov I;:” ASoviet Position”; Ibid; p. 313). On 7 September 1948 Golda Meyerson, was received by Molotov in Moscow:

“After presenting her credentials, she said that her government had instructed her to take the first opportunity to express to Molotov the gratitude of the people and Government of the State of Israel for the help rendered by the Soviet Union in the United Nations….. The Soviet Government, Molotov replied, regarded this as its duty, all the more so in that it was fully in keeping with Soviet USSR policy vis-a-vis other peoples’… Molotov pointed out that the State of Israel was off to a good start and that there was a basis for the creation of a viable state.”

Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p.314; AVP, f. 06, op. 10, pk. 46, d. 623, p.1.

As only one of the outstanding issues (leaving aside the whole matter of the Arab peoples’ response to this “legalised theft” of their lands) was that of continued Jewish immigration, and from where this would come? Would there be immigration from the USSR?

It was asserted by the diplomatic heads of the USSR that this would be from the “capitalist countries” if at all, and not from the Soviet countries. This was the previous Marxist-Leninist line of the Soviet Foreign Ministry until it was subverted by Gromyko:

“On 15 September 1948, while on a protocol visit to I. N. Bakulirt, head of the Middle East Department of the USSR Foreign Ministry, Meyerson declared:
‘The State of Israel will become viable when its population increases several-fold”.
Bakulin, like Deputy Foreign Ministers V. A. Zorin and F. T. Guseev to whom Meyerson also paid her respects on 15 and 17 September, respectively, made it clear that this immigration would have to come solely from the capitalist countries and that Israel could not even cope with all the repressed and persecuted Jews from these countries.”

Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p.314;AVP, f 06, op. 10, pk. 46, d. 624, p.1.

There are as far as we know, no documents that show an approval of Gromyko’s step in the partition of Palestine – a step that allowed the formation of a singular state of Israel – by Stalin or the other minority Marxist-Leninists of the Central Committee.

This apparent volte-face by the USSR leaders of the international communist movement, totally alienated the Palestinian communists who were left very weakened. It has certainly assisted the alienation of the best of the Arab militants from the Marxist-Leninist movement. In Gromyko’s own English version of his memoirs, there is no discussion of this episode. (Gromyko “Memoirs”; New York; 1989. )

Nor is there any discussion of this episode in the official “History of Soviet Foreign Policy” edited by Gromyko himself, with another revisionist B.N. Ponomarev. (Gromyko A.A. & Ponomorev B.N. Ed:”Soviet Foreign Policy; 1945-1980″; Vol II; Moscow; 1980). Nonetheless, Gromyko does point out that a key member of the Soviet delegation to the UN was another arch-revisionist – Dmitri Manuilsky:

“At San Francisco and later at the first four sessions of the General Assembly and a number of other international meetings up to 19563 the Soviet Ukrainian delegation was invariably headed by Dmitri Zakharyevich Manuilsky, for whom I had the deepest regard.”

Gromyko “Memoirs” Ibid; p. 128.

The argument is today raised that: “Stalin sabotaged the Palestinian struggle”.
Various explanations to supposedly “explain Stalin’s support of the formation of Israel” are offered by non Marxist-Leninist sources.

We examine these below.

Standard Non Marxist-Leninist Explanations For “Stalin’s Support of Israel”;

1. “Stalin wanted to alienate the Arab Nations from the British”

Sudoplatov, amongst others, suggests it was deliberate ploy to undermine British rule:

“Clearly the intention was to strengthen the Soviet stand in the Middle East and to undermine the British influence among Arab states who objected to the Jewish state, by showing their inability to stop the Jews.”

Sudoplatov; op cit; p.292-293.

It is also alleged by Sudoplatov that Stalin said to Vetrov, who was Molotovs’ assistant & later an Ambassador to Denmark:

“Let’s agree to the establishment of Israel. This will be a pain in the ass for the Arab states & will make them turn their backs on the British. In the long run it will totally undermine British influence in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Iraq”.

Albert Axell, “Stalin’s War Throughout the Eyes of His Commanders”; New York; 1997; p.296.

This tortuous explanation, in an alleged quotation from Stalin (rather like the older school of historians who state that in 1066 on a certain date and hour, William had a vision after eating grapes and said that he dreamed of his dynasty etc…) is buttressed by a “conversation with a confidential source”, who yet… remains nameless.

2. “Stalin wanted to justify pre-emptively an attack upon Soviet Jewry”:

He “wanted to neutralize the rumors about his changed course on the nationality policy… He felt that he had a psychological and political alibi for future events (arrests exiles, propaganda campaigns).” Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.184

We reject these “explanations” as self-evidently superficial, and again rather strained. But then what does explain these events?


We argue instead, that the only logical answer is two-fold:

(1) Firstly, the USSR, was not under Stalin’s full un-impeded control. Even following the victory of the Great People’s Anti-Fascist War, revisionist influence within the CPSU and in the leading echelons of the so called People’s Democracies undermined Marxist-Leninist policies; Stalin and the Marxist-Leninists, were in a minority in the Central Committee of the CPSU(B).

(2) Secondly, that post Second World War, Stalin and the USSR were in a position of a temporary objective weakness with respect to the foreign imperialism of the USA. Although epitomised by the “Atomic Gap”, closing that gap still left the USSR in an objectively weaker position than the USA.

PREMISE 1: Stalin And Marxists-Leninists Were In A Minority

Many lines of evidence make clear that revisionists had gone underground in order to continue subverting the Soviet Union, and outnumbered the honest Marxist-Leninists. Even astute observers of the USSR like President Harry S. Truman of the USA, who was a deadly foe of Communism, observed that:

“Stalin was a prisoner of the Politburo’.”

Resis A: ’Stalin, the Politburo & Onset of the Cold War. 1945-1946″, no.701, Carl Beck papers, Pittsburgh 1988; p.9. Citing D.Yergin: the Shattered Peace.”; Boston; 1977.; pp 101-104.

Previous issues of Alliance have discussed the general analysis underpinning this premise. In order to erect a facade behind which the revisionists could operate, a cult of Stalin was built. As time goes by, more evidence supporting this view emerges. We cite a participant in the Second World War:

“Konoplyanko, ex-KGB officer:
“I would put the blame for Stalin’s cult not so much on Stalin himself, but mostly on his environment – the cult was launched from the top not from the bottom.. His toadies and bootlickers competed in currying favour with him by praising him to the skies.”

A.Axell Ibid; p.179-180

It is true that the victory of the USSR in the Second World War gave the Marxist-Leninists strength. This victory was gained, in spite of the enormous sabotage performed from within the party and the army, both penetrated by traitors to the Soviet Union. This is confirmed by interviews with several of Stalin’s generals. For instance with General Shavrov:

“Author: General what puzzles me is why would Stalin undercut himself, I mean weaken the army with the pre-war purges? (Von Rauch says that of 6,000 of Stalin’s highest ranking officers who were arrested on charge of treason, 1500 were executed.”

Shavrov: “The T-34 tank was delivered to the army in 1939.. The weak points (were identified).. In two months time after the tanks was sent back to the factory, the whole research team on the T-34 was arrested.. Who gave the order? We don’t think it was Stalin. Nobody knows for certain who was responsible. Was it treason? Of course Hitler was interested in this.. I know another case.. The Lake Khasan Battle against the Japanese army in 1938. When the Japanese struck were about 200 miles away… That night and for a few more days, our regimental commanders, divisional commandeers, and senior commanders were arrested. At the very moment of the Japanese attack!.. Who did it? This question is still un-answered.”

A.Axell Ibid; p.20.

General Sergeyev has a similar view of the degree of sabotage:

“In 1990, General Igor Sergeyev, who was Deputy Commander-in-chief of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces disclosed that 35,000 commanders’ were expelled from the Party and arrested in 1937-8. Between 1932 and 1939, the army’s numerical strength actually decreased. He said that experienced soldiers were replaced with hastily trained men’”.

A.Axell Ibid; p. 34

Similar is the testimony of the Czech President Eduard Benes:

“The Czech President Eduard Benes in his post war memoirs said that he learned in 1937 of the existence of the anti-Stalin clique in the Red Army which had close contacts with the Nazi officers.. Czech officials are said to have been shocked to learn that their country’s’s military secrets hitherto known only to the Russians through their mutual aid alliance, were also know to the German high Command. The secrets they claimed were given to Berlin by Marshall Mikhail Tukhachevsky. Some corroboration came from G.E.R. Gedye, the Prague correspondent of the New York Times, who cabled on 18 June that Atwo of the highest officials in Prague” say that the they have ‘definite knowledge that secret connection between the German General Staff and certain high Russian generals have existed since Rapallo.”

A.Axell Ibid; p.35

Stalin’s general response to this sabotage, within the Marxist-Leninist movement, both internally and externally of the USSR, was to weld together a small group of solidly Marxist-Leninist elements around him; to continue to pursue a correct line both outside and within the USSR.

Externally, the approach led to the creation of the Cominform, to pursue the task of ensuring Marxist-Leninist leadership in the Peoples’ Democracies. This occurred after a certain consolidation had taken place.

Internally within the USSR, this policy led to among other things, the creation of a Foreign Policy bureau to deal with the post Second World War manipulations of imperialism. Stalin took the Politburo function of foreign relations into his own hands, and he placed key tasks in the safekeeping of a few chosen comrades, a “sextet” of proven Marxist-Leninists upon whom Stalin could place trust:

“In the conduct of his postwar foreign policies Stalin had no use for the ordinary type of foreign ministry.. he reserved all important decisions to himself.. For a number of years the Politburo was practically eliminated; to Akeep some members away from participation in the decision,” a Asextet” was appointed to deal with international as well as a number of other issues. Among the members of the small committee, in addition to Stalin were Vyacheslev Molotov, Lavrenti Beria, Georgi Malenkov, and until his death in 1948, Andrei Zhdanov.”

Dallin D.J. “Soviet Foreign Policy After Stalin”; Philadelphia 1961; p.3.

Stalin attempted to place strategically important branches of the foreign department directly under his own control:

“No less important than the sextets’ and septets’ was the large Foreign Department of the CC of the CPSU, the existence of which was not publicly acknowledged.. It was divided into sections by countries. The ties between these sections and the corresponding offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were often very close. While the official Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not always headed by a member of the supreme Politburo-Presidium (For example neither Maxim Litvinov or Andrei Vyshinsky was a member of the Politburo), the foreign department of the CC was the organ of the “general” or “first” secretary.. This left the ultimate power.. In the hand of the party’s leader.”

Dallin D.J. “Soviet Foreign Policy After Stalin”; Philadelphia 1961; p.3.

Even then the revisionists were too numerous to be kept entirely out of influential positions. For example, Nikolai Voznosensky – who was a revisionist already under suspicion but only later unmasked by Stalin, was added to the small “sextet” group. It is extremely doubtful that this was “on Stalin’s suggestion” as suggested by Dallin. As detailed elsewhere, Stalin had already realised the nature of Voznosensky’s revisionism. (See For instance Issues Number 12 and 14 of Alliance.)

But in fact it was only later, in 1949 in fact to effect Voznosensky’s arrest and execution. But wherever possible, Stalin ensured that the more steadfast and resolute Marxist-Leninists took the leading and responsible roles. Zhdanov was in the highest and most trusted category:

“In the early 1940’s the Foreign department of the CC was headed by Georgi Malenkov. Malenkov was succeeded by Andrei Zhdanov, whose role was enhanced when the leadership of the dissolved Comintern was incorporated into one of the departments of the CC.”… In 1944-45 under Zhdanov’s direction the Foreign Section of the CC carried out the remarkable operation of dispatching to the respective countries the leaders of the future governments of the satellites selected among emigres in the Soviet Union. The foreign Ministry acquired growing importance in the postwar era as the channel for relations with the communist parties of the satellites.”

Resis; Ibid; p. 4.

Again attempting to ensure Marxist-Leninist control, Stalin removed Ivan Maisky and Maxim Litvinov from diplomatic functions in London and Washington. But since all posts could not possibly be filled without recourse to skills that the revisionists undoubtedly still retained, they were given a post in heading two commissions – respectively the commission for state reparations and the commission for postwar peace treaties. (Vladislav Zubok & Pleshakov, Constantine “Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War-From Stalin to Khrushchev”; Cambridge Mass; 1996; p.28).

The two key ambassador posts in the USA and England were filled initially by Molotov. Litvinov in particular was suspected of secret contacts with the Western ruling classes. This was confirmed when he met with the CBS correspondent Richard C. Hottelet, and warned him to alert the West that “they had to beware of Soviet ambitions for territory,” saying:

“The outmoded concept of security in terms of territory – the more you’ve got the safer you are”.. No Western concessions would satisfy the Soviet leadership.”

Zubok & Pleshakov, Ibid p.37-38.

“If the West acceded to Soviet demands.. It would lead to the West being faced, after a more or less short time, with the next series of demands.”

D.Holloway; Op Cit; p.167

It was fully intended by Litvinov, that President Truman would be informed of this conversation, and “in secret” he was so informed. However Soviet Security was also aware of what had transpired. Within a month Litvinov was relieved of his position. One year later Litvinov told Alexander Werth a Western journalist in Moscow:

“That Russia could have cashed in on the goodwill that it had accumulated during the war, but that Stalin & Molotov did not believe that goodwill provided a lasting basis for policy; they had therefore grabbed all they could while the going was good.”

D.Holloway; Op Cit; p.167

In Summary, even though the Bolshevik party, was penetrated by revisionists, Stalin tried to ensure a personal control of the Ministry of Foreign affairs. However, given the paucity of Marxist-Leninists in the leading echelons of the CPSU, revisionists like Gromyko and Manuilsky, and Vosnoskensky were able to slip into key positions like that at the UN.

PREMISE 2: The Objectively Weak Post-war Soviet Union

How can it be legitimately argued that the Soviet state was objectively weak – even if only temporarily – over 1945-1948? After all the Soviet Union had just in effect, been the decisive factor in liberating the world from German and Japanese fascism. The heroic self-sacrifice of the USSR and its peoples in the war had gained many admirers in the working classes of the world. However, the Soviet people had been through an enormously costly war, moreover one on its own land, and a new frightening technology of the atomic bomb had been used.

(i) Human and Material Losses of the USSR in the Second World War

Neither the USA nor even the British had suffered the degree of destruction of either the industry, or the human resources that the USSR had. Professor John Erikson estimated in 1994, that the German invasion had led to 49 million solider and civilian deaths in Russia, far more than the previous conservative estimate of 20-25 million. In addition there was a drastic decline in Russian’ birth rate. (Cited by Axell A, Ibid; p. 177). The material damage was huge also :

“In July 1944 the Emergency State Commission headed by Niklai Svernik put a preliminary figure of damage at 375 billion rubles, not including damages to a large portion of Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Baltic countries, and the Finnish Karelia. The Maisky Commission (Ivan Maisky was head of the Reparations Commission of the Soviet Union-ed) assessed the overall damage Amust be no less than 700-800 billion rubles… surpassing the national wealth of Germany or England..”

Zubok & Pleshakov; Ibid; p.31.

Stalin pointed out to US Senator Claude Pepper on September 15th 1945, that (Cited Resis p. 3 Ibid. From:FRUS 1945, Vol V 881-893; dated Sep 15th 1945):

“Our people are tired, they couldn’t be induced to make war on anybody anymore.”

It is apparent that a certain degree of war weariness was bound to affect decision making. This affected the manner in which re-building the Soviet Union was approached.

(ii) The Post-Hiroshima Reality

As early as March 1942, the highest echelons of Soviet government were aware of the activities in the West towards the bomb. The secret British Maud Report of July 1941 had concluded that:

“It will be possible to make an effective uranium bomb which, containing some 25 il of active material, would be equivalent as regards destructive effect to 1,800 tons of T.N.T.; and would also release a large quantity of radioactive substances which would make places near to where the bomb exploded dangerous to human life for a long period.”

D.Holloway:”Stalin and the Bomb”; New Haven, 1994; p.79

Details of this were obtained by Anatolii Gorskii (codename Vadim) the NKVD London resident, and John Cairncross and Klaus Fuchs and transmitted to Beria. (D.Holloway:”Stalin and the Bomb”; New Haven, 1994; p82). Beria sent a memorandum to Stalin and the State Defence Committee urging evaluation of this information. (D.Holloway:”Stalin and the Bomb”; New Haven, 1994; p.84). Although a USSR nuclear programme was undertaken soon, the reality was that the decision itself was taken during the siege of Stalingrad. Consequently initial progress was understandably slow.

The scientific advances made under the Manhattan Project in the USA were also well known to the USSR. As the war proceeded, the imminent defeat of the Germans raised the question of joint Allied intervention against Japan. At Yalta, the meeting took place between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, at which plans for the post war period were drawn up. In the section entitled “Agreement Regarding Japan”, it was made clear that after Germany’s surrender (“in two or three months time”), the USSR would enter into war against Japan on condition that the USSR regained its rights in the border zones with Japan, and was granted the Kurile Islands. In full these conditions were that:

“1. The status quo in Outer Mongolia (the Mongolian People’s Republic) shall be preserved.
2. The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz:
a) The southern part of Sakhalin as well as the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union;
(b) The commercial port of Dairen shall be internationalized, the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union in this port being safeguarded, and the lease of Port Arthur as a naval base of the U.S.S.R. restored;
(c) The Chinese-Eastern Railroad and the South Manchurian Railroad, which provide an outlet to Dairen, shall be jointly operated by the establishment of a joint Soviet-Chinese company, it being understood that the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union shall be safeguarded and that China shall retain sovereignty in Manchuria;
3. The Kurile Islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.”

(February 11, 1945. “A Decade of American Foreign Policy : Basic Documents, 1941-49; Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC: 1950. WWW: World War II Page WW II Conferences Page; Avalon Home Page: William C. Fray & Lisa A. Spar.).

It was explicitly noted that reference to Outer Mongolia would require the “concurrence of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek.” But this was to be pursued by the USA President Roosevelt, and these claims of the USSR were to Abe unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been defeated.” But then, by the next meeting of the Allied leaders, at the Potsdam Conference of July 1945, the USA had successfully exploded a test device at Alamogordo on July 16th. In the interim Roosevelt had died.

Marshall Zhukov relates how Stalin and Molotov discussed the seemingly “casual” probing statement of the new USA President- Harry Truman, to Stalin that the USA had a “new weapon of unusual destructive force”:

“They’re raising the price,” said Molotov.
Stalin gave a laugh, “Let them. We’ll have to.. speed up our work.”

Holloway D; Ibid; p. 117.

Obviously both Stalin and Molotov understood the implications of Truman’s remark.

The USA exploded the first nuclear devices used in warfare – at Hiroshima on August 6th 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9th 1945. At this stage, the USSR programme was still incomplete.

So the USA possession of the atomic bomb was a potent threat, as both the American and the Soviet state leaders understood. As Yuli Khariton, a scientist who became one of the Soviet creators of the bomb said (Zubok & Pleshakov; Ibid; p.43):

“The Soviet Government interpreted Hiroshima as atomic blackmail against USSR, as a threat to unleash a new even more terrible and devastating war.”

This assessment accords with that of the British Ambassador to the USSR, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr who wrote to then Foreign Secretary Eden:

“The victory over Germany had made the Soviet leaders confident that national security was at last within their reach.
“Then plumb came the Atomic bomb.. At a blow the balance which had seemed set and steady was rudely shaken. Russia was baulked by the West when everything seemed to be within her grasp. The three hundred divisions were shorn of much of their value.”

Cited in D.Holloway:”Stalin and the Bomb”; New Haven, 1994; p.154.

This atomic possession, grounded a new threatening approach of the USA. This was manifested when Truman demanded the “right” of safe entry to any world port they “needed for security”. This threat, was specified in Truman’s Navy Day Address when he announced the so called 12 Principles of operating for the USA state:

“On Navy Day October 27 1945, President Harry S.Truman set forth his views … Although the US was demobilizing rapidly.. It would still retain the largest Navy. in the world, and one of the largest air forces. It would retain the atomic bomb .. The US needed this vast peacetime force not for territorial aggrandizement, because: Outside the right to establish necessary bases for our own protection, we look for nothing which belongs to any other power.’ A large military force was also needed to uphold the peace & the twelve fundamentals of US foreign policy.. Emphatically he said: “We shall refuse to recognise any government imposed upon any nation by the force of any foreign power.”

Resis Ibid, p. 4.

The Hiroshima bombing called into question the diplomatic gains won first at Yalta and Potsdam by the USSR. The Japanese had been on the verge of surrendering, and had posed by the time of Hiroshima no significant military threat. Moreover the entry of the Soviets into the Far Eastern theater of war, had been previously agreed at Yalta, between the Allies.

But if the USSR entered the theater, the USA was worried that concessions would have to be made to it. Hiroshima was therefore both a pre-emptive strike against the USSR presence in the Japanese-Pacific arena, and a threat for the future post-war realpolitik’.

Nonetheless the Soviets entered the Far Eastern war there as they had promised, and as they had been asked to by the USA previously. From August 9th at 00.10 am the Red Army attacked the Japanese in Manchuria. Thus the USA had not fully achieved their goal of preventing the USSR entry into the Far eastern war.
(See Holloway; Ibid p. 128.).

As Resis comments, the Navy Day speech of Truman (see above) was an assertive speech that

“Plainly coupled implicit threat with explicit friendliness”.
(Resis Ibid, p. 5).

For the Soviet Government, Molotov replied 10 days later in a speech to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. He stated that the imperialists were “exploiting the atomic bomb in international affairs”, and predicted the USSR would have atomic energy also.(Resis Ibid, p. 6).

He pointed out the continuing attempt to isolate the USSR in a renewed anti-Soviet bloc. Kaganovich warned in a speech in Tashkent, that:

“Our country still finds itself in capitalistic encirclement.”

Cited Resis Ibid, From Pravda, p. 10, Feb 8, 1946.

Molotov warned of the need to return to the task of “overtaking and surpassing the economically most developed countries of Europe and the USA,” in per-capita industrial production in the near future. This required a strategic decision regarding heavy or light industry. There was a division in the ranks of even the Marxist-Leninists on this question. Malenkov and Voroshilov explicitly pumped for heavy industry. Voroshilov in a speech in 1946, arguing that anyone who called for a priority to light industry was a latter-day “servitor of fascism”. (Resis Ibid, p. 11). Yet Zhdanov, only the previous day on Feb 6th had called for light industry priority. He said:

“Because the people who over the course of many years of war bore sacrifices and privations, legitimately demanded that material and every-day living conditions should speedily improve. All this is no trifle. The task of improving every-day living conditions and material well-being of the masses, improving the production of consumers’ goods, is a cause which must be defended, fought for, and invested with the same Bolshevist enthusiasm with which we moved in solving war tasks. The people will only thank us for this.”

Resis Ibid, p. 11

Clearly this difference of viewpoint, reflected a genuine debate about the merits of the case, in which legitimate differences were being though over.

Later Stalin pointed out in a key speech in February 9th 1946, preceding the elections to the USSR Supreme Soviet, that although there had been an alliance of “freedom loving states”, including the USSR, UK, USA, the process of uneven capitalist developments had continued unabated. Inevitably there would be another war, although this would be some time off – some 15-20 years. This could allow “special attention” to be “focused to expand the production of consumer goods.” (Resis Ibid, p. 16, Pravda February 10th, 1946).

Stalin also predicted that the next world war would be a war started between the imperialists in order to re-divide the world.

That the rulers of the USA were indeed in a bellicose and belligerent mood, is shown by the manner in which Stalin’s speech was interpreted. The USA Charge d’affaires, George Kennan in Moscow was requested to analyze Stalin’s speech. Kennan wrote the infamous “long telegram”, in which he insisted that the USSR was preparing to go to war for expansion. But this interpretation did not fit with either the speech of Stalin, or the message being sent out consistently by the Soviets, as noted by later independent historians such as Albert Resis.

Other interpreters of Moscow included the British Charge d’affaires in Moscow, Frank Roberts. He cabled to both London and Washington, that Moscow really did want peace at this juncture. (Resis Ibid, p. 19. ). And Stalin’s actions fully corroborated this.

Resis points out the “conciliatory deeds” of Stalin made in order to convey peaceful intent:

“In September 1945, despite Soviet claims on Bear Island and Spitzbergen, Moscow had announced the withdrawal of the Soviet Command from Norway without any quid pro quo and before the Western Allies withdrew their troops. This action was followed on April 6th 1946, when Moscow announced the withdrawal of the Soviet Command from the Danish Island of Bornholm, leaving no Soviet troops in Scandinavia. On the same day Moscow stated that it would complete evacuation of Soviet troops from China by the end of April. Moscow also announced (or was compelled to announce) that it would complete evacuation of all troops from Iran within one-month and a half. On May 22, 1946, Moscow announced that Soviet troops had been completely withdrawn from Manchuria, and on May 24 that the evacuation of Soviet troops from Iran had been completed. At the Paris Peace Conference the Soviet Union abandoned its request for a trusteeship over Tripolitania in favour of its passing to Italian trusteeship under United nations control.”

Resis A; Ibid; p. 25.

The Breaking of the Atomic Monopoly

However all signals from the USSR assuring the imperialists of the USSR peaceful intentions were in vain. The USSR was again being isolated. Therefore, on August 20th, ten days after the bombing of Nagasaki, the State Defence Committee correctly decreed that a special committee would:

“direct all work on the utilization of the intra-atomic energy of uranium.”
Holloway D; Ibid; p. 129.

As previously noted, the Special Committee on the Atomic Bomb was headed by Lavrenti Beria. It was set up by a special decree with extraordinary powers, and reported directly to Stalin himself. This special body was only dissolved by the Khrushchev revisionist controlled Politburo meeting after Stalin’s death, in fact the same one that arrested Beria. Yet it was this same Special Committee, that had succeeded in developing the bomb for the USSR and closing the USA military superiority:

“Focusing all the country’s forces on the solution of this complex problem called above all for the establishment of a new state management body endowed with appropriate power. Such a body, which was entrusted with practically unlimited authority, was the Special Committee, headed by L. P. Beria (a member of State Defense Committee and Vice Chairman of the USSR Council of People’s Commissars) and was founded by the USSR State Defense Committee’s Resolution No. GOKO-9887 of 20 August 1945. The Committee was founded under the State Defense Committee, but after the State Defense Committee was abolished in September 1945, the Special Committee functioned as a body of USSR Council of People’s Commissars (and after March 1946 as a body of the USSR Council of Ministers). In reality, the Special Committee was an independent state control body directly subordinate to Soviet leader J.V.Stalin. It functioned for almost eight years until it was abolished in accordance with a CC CPSU Presidium Resolution of 26 June 1953 at the same tumultuous meeting at which Beria was arrested. Thus, the Special Committee’s activities covered a most important, formative period of the Soviet atomic project, that is, the establishment and growth of the USSR atomic-energy industry, the development and testing of the first Soviet atomic bomb (in 1949) and early improved atomic bomb designs, and the development and virtual completion of the first Soviet hydrogen bomb (RDS-6), which was first tested in August 1953.”

Cold War International History Project; WWW: “Research Notes: the Russian Nuclear Project..the A-bomb Effort, 1946” by G. A. Goncharov, N. I. Komov, A. S. Stepanov

But again it was not possible to exclude fully the evident and known revisionists, such as Nikolia Vosnosensky, still the head of Gosplan, let alone political waverers like Malenkov. (Holloway D; Ibid; p. 134). Gosplan had apparently already expressed disapproval of the Plan, at an earlier stage of the Soviet plans. (Holloway, reference 78 note to p.86) . The industrial managers on the committee were Vannikov, Zaveniagin and Pervukhin. Two scientists on the committee were Khurchatov and Peter Kaptisa. In addition the NKVD representative was General V.A.Mekhnev. Beria reported to Stalin weekly on the progress. The mandate of the Committee of necessity had to be broad, and encompassed special dispensations for all matters related to the production of uranium:

“Considering and resolving all the most basic issues which arose in the course of the early Soviet atomic project, the Special Committee was empowered to supervise all work on the use of atomic energy of uranium:- the development of scientific research in this sphere;- the broad use of geological surveys and the establishment of a resource base for the USSR to obtain uranium…;- the organization of industry to process uranium and to produce special equipment and materials connected with the use of atomic energy; and the construction of atomic energy facilities, and the development and production of an atomic bomb”

Cold War International History Project Op Cit; Goncharov et al; Web site

The USSR atomic bomb followed the design of the USA bombs, and they were termed the RDS systems. By August 1949, RDS-1 was successfully exploded:

“RDS-1 meant the analog of the first U.S. plutonium-239 implosion type atomic bomb tested on 16 July 1945 in New Mexico (and of the U.S. atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki on 9 August 1945). This bomb was successfully tested in the USSR on 29 August 1949. RDS-2 signified the analog of the uranium-235 gun type bomb exploded over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. This bomb passed a design verification in the USSR, but was not tested. Later the abbreviation RDS-2 was used to denote the improved plutonium-239 implosion type atomic bomb tested in 1951. During the period through 1954 the USSR verified and tested three more types of improved atomic bombs: RDS-3, RDS-4, and RDS-5.”

The speed of the USSR catch-up of the technological gap, surprised the USA imperialists. The speed was no doubt, owed in part to successful Soviet espionage. However, even authors hostile to Marxism-Leninism recognise the achievements of Soviet science, and industry which had to overcome the appalling devastation of Nazi invasion:

“The short duration and arrangement of the parallel works became possible thanks to… intelligence materials about the designs of the U.S. atomic bombs Fat Man and Little Boy, prototypes of RDS-1 and RDS-2, Soviet atomic bombs, which the leaders of the USSR atomic project decided in 1946 should be copied as closely as possible from the American designs. It should be emphasized that the availability of the intelligence materials could not substitute for independent experimental, theoretical, and design verification of the Soviet atomic bombs which were being prepared for testing. Owing to the extraordinary responsibility of the leaders of and participants in the Soviet atomic project, RDS-1 was tested only after thorough confirmation of the available information and a full cycle of experimental, theoretical, and design studies whose level corresponded to the maximum capabilities of that time.”

Since on December 25th 1946 the first Soviet nuclear reactor started a controlled chain reaction, the imminent likelihood of a tangible USSR atomic weapon had become clear. This began to tilt the balance of power back into the hands of the USSR.

It was at this juncture that the Szalarsa Poremba, First Cominform meeting was held in September 1947.

This exposed the French and Italian parties for revisionist tendencies, and laid the planks for exposing Titoite revisionism (See Alliance 18). Previous leaders of the ECCI such as Dimitrov, were deliberately excluded by Stalin. There is only one rational explanation – that Stalin had become convinced of their inability and sabotage, during the life of the previous Third International:

“As early as June 1946, Stalin had spoken with Dimitrov and Tito about the need of establishing an Information Bureau.. Rather than simply reviving the Comintern, on which Stalin heaped a torrent of insults and abuse which caused Dimitrov to become alternately pale and flushed with repressed anger”

Eugenio Reale :”Founding of the Cominform”, In M. M.Drachkovitch & Branko Lazitch (Eds): “The Comintern..”; Stanford (USA); 1966; p. 257-60.

The Continuing USSR Weakness Following the Acquisition of the Bomb

As we saw, the temporary military and political weakness of the USSR in being able to counter the atomic intimidation of the USA, had partially ended with the successful completion in August 1949, of the USSR atomic bomb. But even then the sharpest imperialist observers of the USSR noted military weaknesses. On just the atomic front the USA had already stockpiled over a hundred atomic bombs by the time the USSR was successful in building and exploding one. In fact, the Western imperialists remained confident that the German Nazi invasion had left the USSR significantly weakened. As the USA ambassador to the USSR, Admiral Alan G. Kirk, commented at a meeting of U.S. ambassadors at Rome, March 22-24, 1950:

“There were certain weaknesses in the Soviet Union which should be considered. The two basic shortages in terms of raw materials were those of rubber and petroleum. It was generally believed that there were no more large unexploited oil reserves available to the Russians. The other important weakness was that of the transportation system which in all respects, rail, highway, and water, was not highly developed in a modern sense.”

FRUS 1950-, Volume III, p. 823.

This was certainly not an isolated view, despite the public shrill fear-mongering of the USSR, that the Western Imperialists actively fanned. Colonel Robert B. Landry, Air Aide to President Truman in 1948, reported the weakness of the Russian mobilisation capability when directed at the West:

“I was told at the G-2 [intelligence] briefing that the Russians have dismantled hundreds of miles of railroads in Germany and sent the rails and ties back to Russia. There remains, at present time, so I was told, only a single track railroad running Eastward out of the Berlin area and upon which the Russians must largely depend for their logistical support. This same railroad line changes from a standard gauge, going Eastward, to a Russian wide gauge in Poland, which further complicates the problem of moving supplies and equipment forward.”

Cited Frank Kofsky: “The War Scare of 1948”, London; 1993, 1995. pp. 293-94.

As a recent commentator has pointed out, the highest levels of the US officialdom knew very clearly how affected the USSR had been by the war:

“In a memorandum to Secretary of State Dean Acheson dated April 5, 1950, Willard L. Thorp, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, offered his view of the Soviet Union’s economic condition vis-a-vis the United States’s. Thorp wrote this memorandum in response to a draft of NSC-68, the “State-Defense Staff Study,” which high-level State Department officials like Thorp received on March 30, 1950. They were instructed to provide written comments on it prior to the delivery of the final version of NSC-68 to President Truman set for April 7, 1950. Thorp’s comments concerned the overall economic conditions of the two countries and the amount each country devoted to military spending in relation to its total expenditures.

Disagreeing with the draft’s thesis that Athe USSR is steadily reducing the discrepancy between its overall economic strength and that of the United States,” Thorp stated:

“I do not feel that this position is demonstrated, but rather the reverse.. that the gap is actually widening in our favour.”

He pointed out that the United States’s economy increased twofold over the Soviet Union’s economy in 1949. Steel production in the U.S. outpaced steel production in the Soviet Union by two million tons, and stockpiling of goods and production of oil far exceeded Soviet amounts. Furthermore,

“if one compares the total economic capacity [of the two countries],” Thorp writes, “the gap is so tremendous that a slight and slow narrowing [on the part of the Soviets] would have little meaning.” As for Soviet military investment, Thorp opines: “I suspect a larger portion of Soviet investment went into housing.”

FRUS: 1950, Volume I, pp. 218-20. Cited In an Internet exchange dated October 1997, Upon a Controversy between Lloyd Gardner & John Gaddis; See MA Thesis of Curt Cardwell.

That Stalin tried hard to remain at peace with the Western imperialists was even accepted by A High Priest of The Cold War Warrior Western Academics, John Lewis Gaddis:

“What is often forgotten about Stalin is that he wanted, in his way, to remain ‘friends’ with the Americans and the British: his objective was to ensure the security of his regime and the state he governed, not to bring about the long-awaited international proletarian revolution; he hoped to do this by means short of war, and preferably with Western cooperation.”

John Lewis Gaddis: “Intelligence, Espionage and Cold War Origins”, DH, Spring 1989, 209.

Other academic Cold War historians, already cited above, have agreed with Gaddis’ view, such as V. Mastny; and Zubok and Pleshakov.

It is now necessary to detail the changing roles and leadership of the Soviet Security apparatus, in order to then correctly interpret the events of the so called Zionist Plot and the Doctors Plot. This forms the next section of this article.


The Underlying Objective for the Zionist Calls for “Anti-Assimilation” was an aid to Nazi Germany

Mildenstein medal, with a Swastika on one side and a Star of David on the other  Photograph courtesy of Arnon Goldfinger (c) 2014

Mildenstein medal, with a Swastika on one side and a Star of David on the other.
Photograph courtesy of Arnon Goldfinger (c) 2014

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”

The desire to be free of oppressions from pogroms is naturally understandable. But could that desire lead to an alliance with forces of fascism that would promote the worst pogrom known to us to date? It is most “politically incorrect” to say that it did.

However Lenni Brenner clearly illustrated this indeed occurred. He has described this well in the book: “Zionism in the Age of Dictators.”

The natural consequence of a Zionist ‘separatist’ mentality was described by Mussolini as only being correctly understood by one of the founders of Israel – a fellow “fascist” – Vladimir Yabotinsky:

“The highest.. accolade was from Mussolini who, in 1935, told David Prato, later to become chief rabbi of Rome, that: For Zionism to succeed you need to have a Jewish state, with a Jewish flag and a Jewish language. The person who really understands that is your fascist, Jabotinsky.”

Bar-Zohar, “Ben-Gurion-The Armed Prophet”, p. 46. Cited by Brenner, Lenni in Chapter 10:”Zionist- revisionism and Italian Fascism; in: “Zionism in the Age of Dictators”; 1983, Kent; ISBN (GB) 0-7099- 0628-5; p.117;

Web site of International Secretariat of the War & Holocaust Tales Ancient Amateurs’ Association; (WHOTAAAN) in 1996;

As shown by Brenner, the Zionists across Europe were in fact, at best ambivalent to fascist regimes, and informed many of the key Zionist colonists of Palestine including the notorious Stern Gang. Brenner’s contentions inflame Zionists. But the objective reality was that Zionist Jews turned their views and thoughts towards, what was for them a “Zion”, but which was in reality the Arabic Palestine. Zionists had agreed that their current place of residence was only a temporary historical stopping over.

We will now follow Brenner, and cite Brenner at great length, to illustrate the objective logic of “Zionist separatism” versus “Assimilation” during the Second World War, up to 1945.

In the First Phase the Zionist forces obstructed the anti-Nazi United Front;
Secondly and later on, they denied that the extermination of the Jews was occurring.
Thirdly, in yet another phase, the highest echelons of the Zionists indicated that they were prepared to “sacrifice” a substantial part of European Jewry, as the Allies post-war would now accept the need for a seperate “Jewish Homeland”.
Fourthly: Zionist sympathies were not primarily given to the only potential forces – communism and socialism – that could stop fascism. This especially applied to German Jews:

“German Jewry was deeply loyal to the Weimar Republic which had put an end to the discriminations of the Wilhelmine era. Germany’s Jews, (0.9 per cent of the population) were generally prosperous: 60 per cent were businessmen or professionals; the rest artisans clerks, students, with only insubstantial numbers of industrial workers. Most were for liberal capitalism with 64 per cent voting for the Deutsche Demokratische Partei (DDP). About 28 per cent voted for the moderate Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD). Only 4 per cent voted for the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD), and the rest were scattered Rightists.”

Lenni Brenner:” Zionism in the Age of Dictators”; Chapter 3; “German Zionism & The collapse of the Weimar Republic”; p. 27; or web; Ibid 1996;

When Hitler appeared to be gaining ground in Germany, Jewish organisations led by their youth, did belatedly try to counter the worst fascist atrocities:

“Religious Jewry turned to its traditional defence organisation, the Centralverein, the Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith; now, for the first time, the department store owners, who had become a prime target for the attentions of the Nazi brown-shirts, began to contribute to the CV’s efforts…younger members of the CV pushed aside the old leadership and were able to get the CV .. to subsidise the SDP’s anti-Nazi propaganda. After the DDP’s betrayal, the SDP picked up approximately 60 per cent of the Jewish vote. Only 8 per cent went Communist.”

Brenner Chapter 3; op Cit; p.27
Web Citation.

Elsewhere it has been pointed out by the Marxist-Leninists of the Communist League, that the effective resistance to the Nazis was sabotaged by the criminal sectarianism foisted upon the KPD by the revisionists of the KPD and the revisionist leaders of the Communist International led by Dimitrov. (Compass Issue 1996.)

Brenner correctly points out that if both the SDP & the KPD did not organise effectively against fascism – neither did the German Zionists:

“If the SDP and the KPD must bear their full measure of guilt for Hitler’s triumph, so too must the Zionistische Vereinigung fur Deutschland (the Zionist Federation of Germany-ZVfD). Although conventional wisdom has always assumed that the Zionists, with their dire view of anti-Semitism, warned the Jews of the Nazi menace, this is in fact not true….. a diligent search of the pages of the Jeudische Rundschau, the weekly organ of the ZVfD, will not reveal.. prophecies (foretelling Hitler’s accession to power-Ed). When a Jew was killed several hundred Jewish stores looted in a November 1923 hunger riot in Berlin, Kurt Blumenfeld, the Secretary (later President) of the ZVfD, consciously played down the incident:

‘There would be a very cheap and effective kind of reaction, and we … decisively reject it. One could incite deep anxiety among German Jewry. One could use the excitement to enlist the vacillating. One could represent Palestine and Zionism as a refuge for the homeless. We do not wish to do that. We do not wish to carry off by demagoguery those who have stood apart from Jewish life out of indifference. But we wish to make clear to them through [our] sincere conviction where the basic error of Jewish galuth [exile] existence lies. We wish to awaken their national self(awareness. We wish … through patient and earnest educational; work [to] prepare them to participate in the upbuilding of Palestine.”

From Brenner Ibid; Chapter 3; p. 29; also citing Stephen Poppel, Zionism in Germany’ 1897-1933, p.119.

Brenner cites Stephen Poppel, author of “Zionism in Germany 1897-1933”, to the effect that until 1931 “Far from warning and defending the Jews, prominent Zionists opposed anti-Nazi activity.” The logic of the Zionists in Germany was to agree with the Nazis that Jew and Gentile could not in fact co-exist:

“It had been the German Zionists who had most fully elaborated the ideology of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) before 1914 and in the 1920s they developed the argument to its logical conclusion: Judaism in the Diaspora was hopeless. There was no possible defence against anti-Semitism and there was no purpose in trying to develop Jewish cultural and community institutions in Germany. The ZVfD turned away from the society in which they lived. There were only two Zionist tasks: instilling nationalist consciousness in as many Jews as would listen and training youths for occupations useful in the economic development of Palestine. Anything else was useless and palliative.”

Brenner Chapter 3; op Cit; p. 30; Or at Web Citation.

The rigorous extent to which this type of logic was taken is instructive when assessing the claims of present day Zionists proclaiming the Anecessity” of the state of Israel in its current form. Thus In 1925 the “total abstentionist” Jacob Klatzkin, a co-editor of the “Encyclopedia Judaica” stated:

“If we do not admit the rightfulness of antisemitism, we deny the rightfulness of our own nationalism. If our people is deserving and willing to live its own national life, then it is an alien body thrust into the nations among whom it lives, an alien body that insists on its own distinctive identity, reducing the domain of their life. It is right, therefore, that they should fight against us for their national integrity. Instead of establishing societies for defence against the anti-Semites, who want to reduce our rights, we should establish societies for defence against our friends who desire to defend our rights.”

Jacob Agus, The Meaning of Jewish History, vol. II, p. 425; cited Brenner; p. 30.

After the June 1930 elections in Saxony, where Nazis obtained 14.4 per cent of the vote:

“The Berlin Jewish community put pressure on the ZVfD to join a Reichstag Election Committee in conjunction with the CV and other assimilationists. But the ZVfD’s adherence was strictly nominal; the assimilationists complained that the Zionists put barely any time or money into it, and it dissolved immediately after the election… Siegfried Moses, later Blumenfeld’s successor as head of the federation, demonstrated the Zionists, indifference to the construction of a strenuous defence:

“We have always believed the defence against anti-Semitism to be a task which concerns all Jews and have clearly stated the methods of which we approve and those which we consider irrelevant or ineffective. But it is true that the defence against anti-Semitism is not our main task, it does not concern us to the same extent and is not of the same importance for us as is the work for Palestine and, in a somewhat different sense, the work of the Jewish communities.”

“Reactions Jewish Press to Nazi Challenge”, Leo Baeck Inst. Yr Bk, V (1960), p. 312; In Brenner; ibid; p. 31.

It is not the case that all Jews were so blind to the dangers. Obviously the position of the Zionists was directly contrary to that section of the Jewish population that had accepted and welcomed assimilation:

“The ZVfD leaders could never effectively unite with the assimilationists on defence work. They were total abstentionists politically, and they were volkists they did not believe in the CV’s fundamental premise that the Jews were Germans. Their concern was that the Jews should emphasise their Jewishness. They reasoned that if Jews started to consider themselves a separate national minority, and stopped interfering in ‘Aryan’ affairs, it would be possible to get the anti-Semites to tolerate them on a basis of a dignified’ coexistence. The assimilationists would have none of this; to them the Zionist position was just an echo of the Nazi line. There is no doubt that the assimilationists were correct.”

Brenner Chapter 3; op Cit Web Citation.

But in the face of the KPD sectarianism the best of the Jewish assimilationists had no effective United Front to go to. Moreover, to their own youth, the Zionist leadership preached fervent anti-communism, describing it in 1932 as “red assimilation” (See Donald Niewyk, The Jews in Weimar Germany, p. 30).

Sections of the Jewish bourgeoisie, such as Georg Kareski, a banker, disagreed with the Zionists. In 1919 he founded the “Juedische Volkspartei”. But in 1930, he unsuccessfully stood for the Reichstag on a Catholic Centre platform. He then set up the “Organisation of Jewish Centre Party Voters”. Even the left wing of the Jewish population was dominated by the idea of a Zion:

“On the Zionist left the German branch of the Poale Zion backed the incompetent leadership of the SDP. Before 1914 the SDP refused to associate with Zionism, which it saw as separating the Jews from other workers, and only those elements on the far right of the SDP that supported German imperialism in Africa patronised the Labour Zionists, whom they saw as fellow socialist colonisers. The Socialist International only established friendly relations with Poale Zion during and after the First World War, when the left-wing anti-colonialist forces joined the Communist International. The Labour Zionists joined the SDP with one central purpose: to gain support for Zionism.”

Brenner Chapter 3; p. 33; op Cit; Or at:
Web Citation.

Even after Hitler’s accession to power, the Jewish leaders did not organise effectively. The Zionists position has been explained. However the assimilationists also were tragically short sighted. They wished to not create waves to draw attention to them. This is perhaps understandable. However the attitude of actively identifying with the Nazi concept of “Volk” was also adopted by sections of Zionism:

Gustav Krojanker, editor at the Judischer Verlag, the oldest Zionist publishing house in Europe, also saw the two movements’ common roots in volkist irrationalism, and drew the conclusion that Zionists should look positively at the nationalist aspects of Nazism. A benign approach toward their fellow volkists, he naively reasoned, would perhaps bring forth an equivalent benevolence toward Zionism on the part of the Nazis.”

Brenner Ibid; p. 35-36; citing Herbert Strauss, Jewish Reactions to the Rise of Anti-Semitism in Germany, p. 13.

As far as Krojanker and many other Zionists were concerned, democracy’s day was over. Harry Sacher, a Briton, one of the leaders of the WZO in the period, explained Krojanker’s theories in a review of Krojanker’s book, “Zum Problem Ausutschen Nationalismus”:

“For Zionists, Liberalism is the enemy; it is also the enemy for Nazism; ergo, Zionism should have much sympathy and understanding for Nazism, of which anti-Semitism is probably a fleeting accident.”

Harry Sacher, review of Gustav Krojanker, Zum Problem des Neuen Deutschen Nationalismus, Jewish Review (London, September 1932), p. 104; Cited By Brenner Ibid; p. 36.

Thus international Jewry was not only confused about the nature of fascism, but often its leaders took mis-guided steps to dissuade even any moderately active anti-Nazi organisation, such as goods boycotts:

“Certainly those Jewish groups like the JWV, the Anti-Nazi League and the AJC were ineffectual, but there were those in the Jewish community in America and Britain who specifically opposed the very notion of a boycott. The American Jewish Committee, the B’rnai B’rith (Sons of the Covenant) fraternal order and the Board of Deputies of British Jews refused to back the boycott. They feared that if the Jewish workers, and others as well, took it into their heads to fight Hitler, perhaps they would stay in motion and come after their own rich closer to home. These worthies confined themselves to charity efforts for German Jewry and its refugees and prayed that Hitlerism would not spread. The Agudas Yisrael (Union of Israel), the political arm of the most extreme wing of traditional Orthodoxy, opposed the boycott on religious grounds as well as their social conservativism. They claimed that ever since the ancient Jewish kingdom was destroyed by the Romans, the Talmud had forbidden Jews to revolt against Gentile authority in the Diaspora; they interpreted the boycott as rebellion and therefore forbidden. However, of all of the active Jewish opponents of the boycott idea, the most important was the World Zionist Organisation (WZO). It not only bought German wares; it sold them, and even sought out new customers for Hitler and his industrialist backers. The WZO saw Hitler’s victory in much the same way as its German affiliate, the ZVfD: not primarily as a defeat for all Jewry, but as positive proof of the bankruptcy of assimilationism and liberalism. Their own hour was at hand. Zionists began to sound like tent-revivalists: Hitler was history’s flail to drive the stiff-necked Jews back to their own kind and their own land.”

Lenni Brenner: “Zionism in the Age of Dictators”; Chapter 6″The Jewish Anti-Nazi Boycott and the Zionist-Nazi Trade agreement”; Op Cit p. 58;
or at: Web site for index, as before:

It is true that some were far more aware, such as the American rabbi, Abraham Jacobson, who:

“Protested against this insane idea, which was still quite widespread even as late as 1936: “How many times have we heard the impious wish uttered in despair over the apathy of American Jews to Zionism, that a Hitler descend upon them? Then they would realize the need for Palestine!”

Lenni Brenner: “Zionism in the Age of Dictators”; Chapter 6″The Jewish Anti-Nazi Boycott and the Zionist-Nazi Trade agreement”; p. 60; Op Cit; or at: Web site.

However most of the leaders were drawn to the prospect of using Nazism as a vehicle for the creation of a Zionist homeland – kicking out the resident Palestinians.

This desire, was the vehicle by which the WZO itself destroyed even the weak boycott of Nazi German goods. They supported and then took over the 1933 independent proposal of a Sam Cohen:

“The owner of Ha Note’a Ltd, a Tel Aviv citrus export firm. Even under Chancellor Bruning the German government had put a flight tax on capital leaving the country and Cohen had proposed that Zionist emigres be allowed to avoid the tax by purchasing goods in Germany which would later be turned back into cash after sale in Palestine. Bruning had no interest in the idea, but in 1933 Cohen, on his own, presented the plan again. The Nazis were already worried about the effect even the spontaneous and lamentably organised boycott was having on their balance of trade, and Heinrich Wolff, the German Consul in Jerusalem, quickly grasped just how useful Cohen’s proposition could be. He wrote to his ministry:

“In this way it might be possible to wage a successful campaign against the Jewish boycott of Germany. It might be possible to make a breach in the wall.’

The Jews, he argued, would be put in a quandary. Further boycott would be seen as imposing problems on emigrants seeking to find new homes for themselves in Palestine or elsewhere. Because of his location, Wolff was one of the first Germans to perceive the growing importance of Palestine in the Jewish equation, and in June he wrote again to Berlin:

‘Whereas in April and May the Yishuv was waiting boycott instructions from the United States, it now seems that the situation has been transformed. It is Palestine which now gives the instructions… It is important to break the boycott first and foremost in Palestine, and the effect will inevitably be felt on the main front, in the United States.’

Brenner Chapter 6; p. 61; Op Cit;
or at Web Site.

Accordingly contracts were soon signed that were then taken over by the WZO. Moreover the WZO now used this lever to transfer monies out of Germany ear-marked for buying land in then Palestine:

“In early May 1933 the Nazis signed an agreement with Cohen for one million Reichmarks ($400,000) of Jewish wealth to be shipped to Palestine in the form of farm machinery. At this point the WZO intervened. The Depression had badly affected donations and in March 1933 they had desperately cabled to their followers in America pleading that if funds were not forthcoming immediately’ they were heading for imminent financial collapse. Now Menachem Ussischkin, head of the Jewish National Fund, got Cohen to arrange for the release of frozen JNF monies in Germany via Ha Note’a. The bait for the Nazis was that the cash was needed to buy land for the Jews whom Hitler would be pushing out. Cohen also assured Heinrich Wolff that he would operate: Behind the scenes, at a forthcoming Jewish conference in London to weaken or defeat any boycott resolution’. Dr Fritz Reichert, the Gestapo’s agent in Palestine, later wrote to his headquarters reminding them of the affair:

‘The London Boycott Conference was torpedoed from Tel Aviv because the head of the Transfer in Palestine, in close contact with the consulate in Jerusalem, sent cables to London. Our main function here is to prevent, from Palestine, the unification of world Jewry on a basis hostile to Germany… It is advisable to damage the political and economic strength of Jewry by sowing dissension in its ranks.'”

Brenner Chapter 6; p.62; Op Cit;
or at Web Site.

But the WZO had even grander aims than Sam Cohen. They saw an opportunity to draw enough money and immigrants into Palestine to drown by weight of numbers the indigenous and inconvenient Palestinian Arabs. The calculations involved the tacit approval of the British. This was a plan woven by a self-proclaimed “Socialist-Zionist,” named Chaim Arlosoroff. Brenner describes the secret calculation as “cold”:

“Sam Cohen was soon superseded.. by Labour Zionist, Chaim Arlosoroff, the Political Secretary of the Jewish Agency, the WZO’s Palestine centre. ..In 1932 he had concluded that they had failed to attract enough immigrants to overcome the Arabs’ numbers and they were not drawing enough Jewish capital. Hitler in power would mean war within ten years… Now.. he had the way for Zionism to solve its difficulties: with Britain’s agreement, they could get both the immigrants and the capital needed through extending Cohen’s project. In an article in the Rundschau .. he coldly explained that this could only be done in complete co-operation with Berlin:

‘Naturally, Germany cannot expose herself to the risk of upsetting her currency and exchange balance in order to meet the Jews, but a way out can be found to adjust these different interests… It would be worth while, leaving all sentimentalities out of the question, to reach such an agreement with Germany.
The self-styled “Socialist-Zionist” then proposed the ultimate alliance, a deal between the Zionists, the Nazis, the Fascists and the British Empire, to organise the evacuation of Jewry from Germany:

‘It could also be possible to establish a company, with the participation of the German State and other European, primarily British and Italian interests, which would slowly liquidate the particular properties by issuing letters of credit… [and creating… a guarantee fund.”

Brenner Chapter 6; p. 62-63; Op Cit;
or at Web Site;

Harry Hopkins related the events of a meeting on 27 March 1943 between President Roosevelt, Anthony Eden and others on the question of saving Bulgarian and other Jews. Eden said:

“We should move very cautiously about offering to take all Jews out of a country like Bulgaria. If we do that, then the Jews of the world will be wanting us to make similar offers in Poland and Germany. Hitler might take us up on any such offer and there simply are not enough ships and means of transportation in the world to handle them.”

Lenni Brenner: Chapter 24:”The Wartime Failure to Rescue”; p. 228; Ibid; or at

Brenner points out that according to Churchill, the Arabs were no better than a backward people who eat nothing but camel dung’. (Lenni Brenner: Chapter 24:”The Wartime Failure to Rescue”; p. 228; or at web: )

As far as the British were concerned they could control the Arabs better than they might be able to control the Zionists. They temporarily therefore favoured the Arabs. Most sections of the Zionists therefore saw merit in “currying favour” with the British. They tried to consider the benefits of the war to Jewry:

“Their first thought was how to turn the war to their advantage in Palestine. Yoav Gelber of the Yad Vashem Institute (Israel’s Holocaust Institute-ed) gives a good account of this view among the Labour Zionists in September 1939:

‘The majority of the leaders tended to Palestine and its problems as the touchstone of their attitude towards the war. They were inclined to leave the front-line fighting as such, if unconnected to Palestine, to the Jews of the Diaspora.'”

Lenni Brenner: Chapter 24:”The Wartime Failure to Rescue”; p.229; ?Ibid; or at web:

In fact there was very little attention to the plight of the European Jews from the Jewish Agency Executive. Zionist leaders in the USA were also not only unhelpful, but argued not to assist even with food packages as this relieved pressure on the Nazis:

“Furthermore, the American Zionist leadership campaigned against those Jews who were trying to aid the stricken. Aryeh Tartakower, who was in charge of aid work for the World Jewish Congress in America in 1940, has told some of the story:..:

‘We received a call from the American Government, from the State Department and they brought to our attention that sending parcels to the Jews in Poland was not in the interests of the Allies… The first one to tell us to stop immediately was Dr Stephen Wise… He said: ‘We must stop for the good of England.”

Lenni Brenner: Chapter 24:”The Wartime Failure to Rescue”; p. 229; Ibid;

The Zionist-Nazi Pact And Trade

In 1933, a Zionist-Nazi Pact was announced.
This is a little known -yet extraordinary event. It’s lack of reporting must be compared to the constant malignment of the USSR for the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

That USSR-German pact was essential for the survival of the USSR against imperialist machinations’ and the USSR had tried repetitively before hand, to get a united front against German fascism. The Western imperialists had refused and had sabotaged even their own weak-kneed commitments to protecting the sovereignity of several countries, that German Nazism blithely ignored with no repercussions to itself. In fact the clear and obvious strategy of the Western imperialists was to drive Germany against the USSR by so-called “appeasement.” (See articles by Communist League & Alliance elsewhere).

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact “spiked the guns of the imperialists”, buying vital time to move the industry East of the Urals and continue fevered preperation for inevitable war.

But, the Zionist-Nazi Pact was quite different – it was simply another instance of how far Zionists were prepared to go to create a Zionist homeland in Palestine.
The Pact allowed the Zionists to ship 3 million Reichmarks worth of Jewish wealth, in the form of German export goods, to Palestine.

The Zionist leaders of the WZO tried to prevent any serious discussion of this manouevre of theirs:

“The Zionist-Nazi pact was announced by the Nazis in time for the 18th Zionist Congress in August in Prague. Hitler’s shadow completely dominated the Prague Congress. The WZO’s leaders knew that the Nazis were interested in a deal and they determined to avoid offending Germany by limiting discussion of the situation there to the barest minimum. The regime as such was not condemned… No plan was proposed to put pressure on the world body, nor was any specific action called for.”

L.Brenner; WWW; Ibid; Chapter 6: “The Jewish Anti-Nazi Boycott”; p.63; ibid;
or via web: See index page at:

This news, of the “Zionist-Nazi Pact,” effectively discouraged adoption of an anti-Nazi Boycott. To further facilitate and absolutely ensure this rejection further, the case for the Boycott was actually presented by the fascist Zionist Vladamir Jabotinsky, whose brown shirted troops, had thoroughly alienated the Congress:

“The Zionist-Nazi pact became public the day before a boycott resolution was to be debated, and it may be speculated that the Nazis did this so as to discourage endorsement of the boycott. The leader of the right-wing .. Vladimir Jabotinsky, presented the boycott case.. Jabotinsky’s support for the boycott, and his opposition to the pact, was dismissed as the raging of a terrorist opponent of the democratically elected moderate leadership. His resolution was defeated by a vote of 240 to 48.”

L.Brenner; WWW; Ibid; Chapter 6: “The Jewish Anti-Nazi Boycott”; ibid; p.63; or at

However when the Nazis publicised the pact, the floor of the Congress was furious. The leaders of the WZO lied about their role:

“When the Nazis announced that they had signed an agreement with the Zionists allowing German Jews to ship three million Reichmarks’ worth of Jewish wealth to Palestine in the form of German export goods.. pandemonium broke loose. The leadership.. tried to protect themselves by outright lying; the Labour leader, Berl Locker, brazenly proclaimed: the executive of the World Zionist Organisation had nothing to do with the negotiations which led to an agreement with the German government’. No one believed this crude fabrication.”

L.Brenner; WWW; Ibid; Chapter 6: “The Jewish Anti-Nazi Boycott”; p. 64;
or at

The Zionist leaders pretended the blame lay solely with a bank. But since it was their bank, this shallow pretence was clearly seen through:

“The Political Committee”.. leaders did not dare take official responsibility for the Ha’avara’ or Transfer Agreement, and pretended that it only bound Germany and the formal signatory, the Anglo-Palestine Bank. But, since the bank was their own bank, they only succeeded in making themselves look ridiculous.. The debate over the Zionist-Nazi pact continued angrily until 1935.”

L.Brenner; WWW; Ibid; Chapter 6: p. 64; “The Jewish Anti-Nazi Boycott”;

The financial trading associated with the Zionist-Nazi Pact was considerable, and laid at least some of the basis for the colonisation of the Arab owned Palestine. It did operate under Nazi rules, and it did have a top limit of cash transfer. This meant that the richest fractions of the Jews transferred monies (somehow) elsewhere. But the proportion sent purely for a Zionist Palestine was critical at that time:

The Ha’avara rapidly grew to become a substantial banking and trading house with 137 specialists in its Jerusalem office .. in essence the agreement was always the same: German Jews could put money into a bank inside Germany, which was then used to buy exports which were sold outside Germany, usually but not exclusively in Palestine. When the emigres finally arrived in Palestine, they would receive payment for the goods that they had previously purchased after they had finally been sold. …its attraction to German Jews remained the same: it was the least painful way of shipping Jewish wealth out of Germany. However, the Nazis determined the rules, and they naturally got worse with time; by 1938 the average user was losing at least 30 per cent and even 50 per cent of his money. Nevertheless, this was still three times, and eventually five times, better than the losses endured by Jews whose money went to any other destination. The top limit through the Ha’avara scheme was 50,000 marks ($20,000 or ) per emigrant, which made the Ha’avara unattractive to the richest Jews. Therefore only $40,419,000 went to Palestine via Ha’avara, whereas $650 million went to the United States, $60 million to the United Kingdom and other substantial sums elsewhere. Yet if, in terms of German Jewry’s wealth, Ha’avara was by no means decisive, it was crucial to Zionism. Some 60 per cent of all capital invested in Palestine between August 1933 and September 1939 was channelled through the agreement with the Nazis.”

L.Brenner; WWW; Ibid; Chapter 6: ” The Jewish Anti-Nazi Boycott”; p. 65; or at:

The rank and file of the Jewish workers in many countries abhorred and organised against the Pact:

“The great majority of Jews opposed the Ha’avara. It had no defenders outside the WZO, and trading with the Nazis was not popular with many inside its own ranks. Protests started pouring in while the Prague Congress was still in session. The pact was extremely unpopular in Poland, where the Jews feared that if there was no resistance to the anti-Semitism next door, their own Jew-haters would start demanding that the Polish government imitate the Germans. In America and Britain, each with a more or less democratic tradition, many Zionists, including some of the leading names in the movement, opposed it (like-ed) the prominent Cleveland rabbi, Abba Hille Silver.”

L.Brenner; Ibid; Chapter 6: “The Jewish Anti-Nazi Boycott”; ibid; p. 66;
or at:

But the unconcern of the leaders of the WZO with the anti-Nazi attitudes of many Jews continued even up to the 1935 Lucerne Congress. The leaders’ attitudes remained that Nazism assisted the formation of Israel:

“But by far the best example of the leadership’s unwillingness to resist the Nazis was Weizmann’s statement:

“The only dignified and really effective reply to all that is being inflicted upon the Jews of Germany is the edifice erected by our great and beautiful work in the Land of Israel… Something is being created that will transform the woe we all suffer into songs and legends for our grand-children.”….

(This cynicism was roundly condemned by Jews in Britain and in the USA -Editor Alliance] …

“Press criticism was immediate. London’s ‘World Jewry’, then the best Zionist magazine in the English language, excoriated their own World Congress:

‘Dr Weizmann went as far as to state that the only dignified reply the Jews could give was a renewed effort for the upbuilding of Palestine. How terrifying the proclamation of the Congress President must have sounded in the ears of Herren Hitler, Streicher and Goebbels!”

In America the opposition to the Ha’avara was particularly intense in the garment industry trade unions, with their hundreds of thousands of Jewish workers. Most of the Jewish labour leaders had always looked upon Zionism with contempt. Many of them were from Russia and knew about the fateful Herzl-Plevhe meeting and how their old enemy Zubatov had backed the Poale Zionists against the Bund. As far as they were concerned the Ha’avara was just Zionism up to its old tricks, and in December 1935 Baruch Charney Vladeck, the Chairman of the Jewish Labor Committee, and himself an ex-Bundist from Poland, debated Berl Locker, the organisational head of the Palestinian Poale Zion, before an overflow crowd in New York. Locker was compelled to take a defensive position, insisting that the agreement was purely in the interest of the German Jews.”

Brenner Ibid Chapter 6; p. 71; 72; 73.
or at

But some wanted further manifestations of the ‘apartheid” mentality of Herzl:

“If the majority of Jews did oppose the Ha’avara as treason, there was one at least who was willing to go on record as complaining that Weizmann and his friends were not going far enough. Gustav Krojanker.. one of the leaders of the Hitachdut Olei Germania (the German Immigrants Association in Palestine) in 1936 the association published.. “The Transfer: A Vital Question of the Zionist Movement”. To him Zionism was stark calculation, nothing more, and he was more than willing to draw the logical conclusions already inherent in the Zionist-Nazi pact. He claimed to see Nazism and the opportunities it opened up for Zionism in the authentic Herzlian manner: … he perceived two political factors –an organisation of the Jewish people on the one side, and the countries concerned on the other. They were to be partners in a pact.”

Brenner Ibid Chapter 6; p. 74;

The WZO extended the agreements that busted the boycott to other countries and goods:

“In March 1936, Siegfried Moses’s negotiations had finally created the International Trade and Investment Agency (INTRIA) bank in London to organise sales of German products directly in Britain itself. The Nazis had to content themselves with the satisfaction of the further demoralisation of the boycott forces, as fear of Jewish and general British hostility to boycott–scabbing made it impossible for INTRIA to go so far as to allow British currency to come directly into German hands. Instead, the goods were bought in Germany for marks and their value was credited to Jewish capitalists needing the Pounds sterling 1,000 entry fee required of over-quota immigrants into Palestine. Zionist-Nazi trade relations continued to develop in other spheres as well. In 1937 200,000 crates of the ‘Golden Oranges’ were shipped to Germany, and 1/2 million more to the Low Countries under the swastika flag.[(50)] Even after Kristallnacht –11 November 1938.. the manager of Ha’avara Ltd, Werner Felchenfeld, continued to offer reduced rates to would-be users of Nazi boats.”

Brenner Ibid Chapter 6; p. 75

The consequences of this episode were to assist the Nazis. As Eduard Benes said to a later “remorseful” Nahum Goldmann at:

“At a dramatic meeting he had with the Czech Foreign Minister, Eduard Benes, in 1935… had warned:

‘Don’t you understand’, he shouted, ‘that by reacting with nothing but half-hearted gestures, by failing to arouse world public opinion and take vigorous action against the Germans, the Jews are endangering their future and their human rights all over the world?”

Brenner Ibid Chapter 6;

Molotov Warns Jews of the Killing Squads But the Zionists Do Not

Amongst the fervid anti-Stalin accusations of Arkady Vaksberg, is the charge that the USSR was silent about the fate of the Jews behind the German lines.
In reality Vaksberg has to assert this, given the shocking attempts of Western leaders and leading Western Jewish individuals to silence the real news.
Brenner asks when it was that:

“The Western Jewish establishment and the Allies discover that Hitler was systematically killing Jews? Reports of slaughter in the Ukraine started reaching the Western press in October 1941.”

It should be remembered that the USSR was then fighting for its’ very life. Yet the Molotov Announcement explicitly analysed the work of the Einsatzgruppen (the Nazi killing squads, especially instructed to kill Jews) in January 1942:

“The Soviets issued a detailed report, the Molotov Announcement’ which analysed the workings of the Einsatzgruppen. The memorandum was dismissed by the WZO in Palestine as Bolshevik propaganda.”

Lenni Brenner: Chapter 24: p. 230; “The Wartime Failure to Rescue”; citing Gelber, Zionist Policy and the Fate of European Jewry’‘ p. 190; at:

It is instructive to follow in historical time, what happens next, and the various delays introduced at the highest levels of the self-appointed leaders of the international Jewish population.

It emerges that it was not until November (ie let us be clear: Our simple calculation is From January to November is 8 months exclusive of the whole months of January & February – How many died in those months?) – that an alarm was publicly given to the Jewish populations of those area by organisations such as the World Jewish Congress (WJC). These facts are verified as Brenner makes clear in his text, by independent Jewish sources:

“In February 1942 Bertrand Jacobson, the representative of the Joint Distribution Committee in Hungary, held a press conference on his return to the USA and relayed information from Hungarian officers about the massacre of 250,000 Jews in the Ukraine. In May 1942 the Bund sent a radio message to London that 700,000 Jews had already been exterminated in Poland, and on 2 July the BBC broadcast the essence of the report in Europe. The Polish government in-exile used the Bund alarm in its own English-language press propaganda. Yet on 7 July 1942, Yitzhak Gruenbaum, then leading the Jewish Agency’s Vaad Hazalah (Rescue Committee), refused to believe similar accounts of massacres in Lithuania, because the numbers of the estimated dead were larger than the pre-war Jewish population in the country. On 15 August Richard Lichtheim in Switzerland sent a report to Jerusalem, which was based on German sources, about the scope and methods of extermination. He received a reply, dated 28 September:

‘Frankly I am not inclined to accept everything in it literally… Just as one has to learn by experience to accept incredible tales as indisputable facts, so one has to learn by experience to distinguish between reality –however harsh it may be– and imagination which has become distorted by justifiable fear.”

Gruenbaum and his Rescue Committee acknowledged that terrible things were going on, but he kept minimising them as ‘only’ pogroms. On 8 August Gerhart Riegner of the Geneva office of the WJC obtained detailed accounts of the gassing programme from reliable German sources, and he forwarded these to the WJC’s London and New York offices via British and American diplomats. The WJC in London received the material, but Washington withheld the message from Rabbi Wise. On 28 August the British section of the WJC sent Wise another copy, and he called the State Department and discovered that they had kept back the information. They then asked him not to release the news to the public pending verification; he agreed and said nothing until 24 November –88 days later– when the State Department finally confirmed the report. Only then did Wise make a public announcement of a Nazi plan to exterminate all the Jews in their grasp. On 2 December he wrote a letter to Dear Boss’, Franklin Roosevelt, asking for an emergency meeting and informing him that:

‘I have had cables and underground advices for some months, telling of these things. I succeed, together with the heads of other Jewish organisations, in keeping them out of the press.”

Lenni Brenner: Chapter 24:”The Wartime Failure to Rescue”; p.230-231. or at

The same delays were engineered by the Jewish Agency in Palestine that declared publicly that the Nazis were exterminating Jews, ONLY in November. Yet as Brenner shows, as early as April leaders of the Agency had known this to be the case:

“On 17 April 1942, even before the Bund broadcast, Moshe Shertok wrote General Claude Auchinleck, the commander of the Eighth Arm in North Africa. He was concerned with what might happen to Palestine’s Jews, if the Afrika Korps broke through Egypt:

‘The destruction of the Jewish race is fundamental tenet of the Nazi doctrine. The authoritative reports recently published show that that policy is being carried out with a ruthlessness which defies description… An even swifter destruction, it must be feared would overtake the Jews of Palestine”.

Lenni Brenner: Chapter 24; p. 232 :”The Wartime Failure to Rescue”;

Even after this the Jewish state in former Palestine remained the objective for these Zionists, and both the numbers killed and the effects of the Nazi killings were toned down:

“Dov Joseph, the acting director of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, cautioned them against: APublishing data exaggerating the number of Jewish victims, for if we announce that millions of Jews have been slaughtered by the Nazis, we will justifiably be asked where the millions of Jews are, for whom we claim that we shall need to provide a home in Eretz Israel after the war ends.”

Yoav Gelber tells us of the immediate effect of Dov Josephs’ intervention:

‘Vociferous protests were therefore toned down and instead, ways of responding more ‘constructively, were sought.”

Lenni Brenner: p.232; Chapter 24:”The Wartime Failure to Rescue”;

What sort of logic would impel these types of behaviour?

These were not “wicked”people, and they knew very well, what leaving the Jews of Europe to Hitler meant. The abiding logic appears to have been that the higher goal – that of Zion in Palestine – meant hard present sacrifices.

Indeed one Zionist leader put explicit words on the lines of “buying with blood” the right to Zionists Palestine, in reply to pleas sent to him by a Jewish volunteer agent for Aguda, in Slovakia. The story is told by the youth who later became famous for demanding of the Allies that they bomb Auschwitz; and who was later to be known as Rabbi Michael Dov-Ber Weissmandel.

In 1942 he twice contacted the Nazi agent for Eichmann – Dieter Wisliceny, asking him:

“How much money would be needed for all the European Jews to be saved?.. in early 1943 word came… For $2 million they could have all the Jews in Western Europe and the Balkans. Weissmandel sent a courier to Switzerland to try to get the money from the Jewish charities. Saly Mayer, a Zionist industrialist and the Joint Distribution Committee representative in Zurich, refused…. The courier who brought Mayer’s reply had another.. from Nathan Schwalb, the HeChalutz (The Pioneer Centre, in charge of training youth for the kibbutz movement in Palestine- ed) representative in Switzerland. Weissmandel described the document:

‘There was another letter in the envelope (saying).. ‘We are writing to the group that they must constantly have before them that in the end the Allies will win. After their victory they will divide the world again between the nations… now, at the war’s end, we must do everything so that Eretz Yisroel will become the state of Israel, and important steps have already been taken in this direction…. all the Allied nations are spilling much of their blood, and if we do not sacrifice any blood, by what right shall we merit coming before the bargaining table when the nations and lands at the war’s end? Therefore it is silly, even impudent, on our part to ask these nations who are spilling their blood to permit their money into enemy countries in order to protect our blood –for only with blood shall we get the land. But in respect to you, my friends, atem taylu (escape to refuge-ed), and for this purpose I am sending you money”.

Lenni Brenner: p.236-237; Chapter 24:”The Wartime Failure to Rescue”;

All this inaction on the part of empowered and rich Western Jewry had its’ reaction on both the left and the fascist right.

On the left, sections of both the Trotskyite wing, and the Marxist-Leninists – raised their voices and tried to propagate information on the Jewish extermination.

On the Jewish fascist right – the Irgun launched rallies in the West aiming to raise the public awareness of the need for action in the European theatre and also they promoted armed struggle inside Palestine against the British.

As regards the British – in this they were objectively with the aims of the Zionists and would ultimately they would win them over. They were known to be positively orientated towards fascism.

Brenner’s verdict is impossible to correct:

“Zionism had come full turn: instead of Zionism being the hope of the Jews, their blood was to be the political salvation of Zionism.”

Lenni Brenner: p. 238; Chapter 24:”The Wartime Failure to Rescue”;

Establishing the Physical Presence of the Jews in Palestine

Brenner notes the increasing numbers of Jewish immigrants into Palestine were of necessity, “illegal” immigrants since the British had theoretically placed embargoes on the number of Jews entering Palestine, in order to placate the Arab Palestinian inhabitants. Nonetheless the numbers of “illegals” were high:

“It is not known exactly how many illegal immigrants were smuggled into Palestine before and during the Second World War. Yehuda Bauer estimates that approximately 15,000 illegal immigrants entered in the years 1936-9.. He breaks down this number to 5,300 brought in by Revisionist ships, 5,000 by the Labour Zionists and 5,200 by private vessels…The British listed 20,180 as having arrived prior to the end of the war. William Perl, the prime organiser of the Revisionist effort, doubles that figure to more than 40,000.. Yehuda Slutzky gives 52,000 as having reached Palestine during the war, but this number includes both legals and illegals.”

Brenner Ibid; Chapter 23; p.220; :”Illegal Immigration”; On WWW;

Brenner points out that the Zionists claim credit for “saving European Jewry from Hitler,” by aiding them to Palestine.

But he also points out that firstly they were bringing in specific, young “warriors” for a forthcoming war with the British and with the Arab possessors of the land:

“At the time neither the revisionists nor the WZO saw themselves as rescuing Jews per se; they were bringing in specially selected settlers to Palestine. The Revisionists returned to illegal immigration during the Arab revolt. The immigrants were mostly Betarim brought in as reinforcements for the Irgun, which was engaged in a terrorist campaign against the Arabs… All had been given weapon-training earlier at their camp at the Revisionist estate at Kottingbrunn.. for.. the final battle against the British occupiers.”

Brenner Ibid; Chapter 23; p. 220:”Illegal Immigration”; On WWW; op cit.

As Brenner says the claims of an “unselfish rescue of all Jews irrespective of belief,” was “simply untrue”:

“The 1947 statement of Otto Seidmann, the former leader of the Viennese Betar, who wrote that:

“We had to save the lives of Jews – be they Communists or capitalists, members of Hashomer Hatzair or General Zionists’,

was simply untrue. Betarim were always preferred over any other Zionists, right Zionists over left Zionists, and any kind of Zionist over a non-Zionist.”

Ibid; p. 222; or at:

When the WZO also again began to sponsor illegal immigration, they held to the same selection criteria for young future warriors. It is true they were more circumspect than the Ultra-Zionists, but this was as they banked on future British cooperation:

“The revisionists were more daring in organising the illegal immigration, because they did not care what London thought. They had come to understand that they would have to fight Britain, if they were ever to realise their Zionist state; the WZO, however, still expected to get a Jewish state with the approval of the British at another Versailles Conference after the Second World War. They argued that Britain would only reward them if they accommodated to her plans during the war, and London most definitely did not want more refugees in Palestine.”

Brenner Ibid; p. 223; Chapter 23:”Illegal Immigration”; On WWW;

During this period, the British intention to divide and rule in the Middle East – between the Arab land owners and the minority Zionist settlers is graphically shown by Brenner, who cites the first military Governor of Jerusalam, Sir Ronald Storrs, from his memoirs as saying:

“The Zionist’s enterprise was one that blessed him that gave as well as him that took, by forming for England ‘a little loyal Jewish Ulster”in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism”.(Ronald Storrs, Orientations, p. 405; cited Brenner). This was the spirit of the Peel Commission’s proposal in July 1937 that Palestine be divided into three parts. All of it would stay under British overlordship; Britain would directly retain a strip from Jerusalem to Jaffa, and would hold Haifa for ten years, after which it would be seconded to a Zionist statelet of two pieces with a combined area the size of the English county of Norfolk. The tiny Zionist entity would contain an enormous Arab minority, some of whom the Commission contemplated moving to the Arab state which would get the rest of the country.”

Brenner Ibid; p. 95 Chapter 8; or at:

The goals of the Zionists had been achieved by the end of the Second World War, even though they had not wanted them to be attained in such horrific circumstances. Nonetheless, some real and new objective circumstances had been created by the end of the war. As cited by Strizhov, former US Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles said:

“When the Second World War broke out, the chances for the establishment of a Jewish Commonwealth in the Holy Land seemed indeed to have vanished. Yet, the forces that the war had brought into being had a determining effect in arousing world public opinion to the imperative need of finding a solution for the Palestinian problem.”

Iurii Strizhov:” The Soviet Position on the Establishment of the State of Israel”; In “Jews & Jewish Life in Russia & The Soviet Union”; Editor: Yaacov Ro’i; London; 1995; p.303.

From the first days of the war, David Ben-Gurion, one of the Zionist leaders had noted:

“The question that absorbed us was Palestine’s future after the war. I was certain that we had to exert ourselves to set up a Jewish State.”

Iurii Strizhov:” The Soviet Position on the Establishment of the State of Israel”; In AJews & Jewish Life in Russia & The Soviet Union”; Editor: Yaacov Ro’i; London; 1995; p.303.

The new objective circumstances can be summarised as:
1. A substantial Jewish immigrant population in Palestine had taken place- many of them had been trained in warfare.
2. A world spotlight had been trained on the inhumanity of anti-Semitism.
3. A new re-division of the world’s territories was taking place following the war.

It is in this context that the relevance of the proposals put forward by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee – for an international Jewish Refuge – a socialist homeland – in the Crimea become of relevance.

This was the only possible, other “solution”, (to the establishment of a Zionist state of Israel) for the displaced remnants of European Jewry.

BUT: For the imperialists and for the Zionists, this would unacceptably strengthen the state of the USSR.

It would require the joint efforts of the hidden revisionists within the Soviet Union and the combined imperialist forces within the newly formed United Nations to both:

a) destroy any plans for the Socialist Jewish Autonomous Republic in the Crimea, and;
b) to establish a pro-imperialist semi-fascist state of Israel, in hitherto Arab Palestine.


The Formation of the Soviet Jewish Homeland – Birobidzhan


This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”

Russian Jewry prior to the revolution had been intensely persecuted. The Russian census of 1897 had enumerated 5,215,800 Jews – of whom nearly 2 million emigrated between the years 1881 and 1914. (Zvi Gitelman: p. 1; Introduction to Robert Weinberg: “Stalin’s Forgotten Zion-Birobidzhan & the Making of A Soviet Jewish Homeland, An Illustrated History 1928-1996.” Berkeley 1998 ).

The majority that stayed were left in the “Pale of Settlement.” The majority were peasants and earned their living from agriculture. But since they were banned from owning any land, they were condemned always to be at the poorest status of peasantry. By the beginning of the First World War, about 50,000 Jews (3% of the total Jewish population of the Russian Empire) were tilling agricultural land. Most Jews were engaged in commerce, manufacturing and services – mainly in a petit bourgeois capacity. (Weinberg Ibid, p. 18.)

Subject to the worst racism and pogroms, the Jewish leaders were split as to how to deal with this. One section argued they should readily embrace the limited reforms offered by some of the Tsars – and assimilate completely. At the extreme were those advocating conversion to Christianity. Another “moderate” section however wanted to modernise the Jewish traditions and including a dropping of the Yiddish language for Hebrew. These were known as the maskilim (enlighteners) and their movement as the Haskalah (enlightenment).

Others in reacting to the pogroms of Tsar Alexander III (1881-94) and Nicholas II (1894-1917) argued for a completely separate Jewish state. This tradition, led by such as the physician Leon Pinsker, became known as shivat zion (Return To Zion). In the midst of this was the Jewish Bund whose positions have been already discussed above.

After the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, the situation of the Jewish people was considered as part of the overall question of the minorities within the Soviet Union. Within a year the Bolsheviks had organised Jewish Sections within the Communist party (Evreiskie seketsii or Evsektsii or Yevsektsii). A commissariat for Jewish Affairs was set up known as Evkom. It was placed within the Commissariat of Nationalities, headed by Stalin. The language question was resolved in favour of Yiddish this being the language of the Jewish masses and not Hebrew.

There is no doubt that the correct Soviet policy of restricting the medium of the religious Hebrew language and encouraging Yiddish was at least in part responsible for the rapid assimilation of the USSR Jews:

“The Yevsektsii also campaign against the Hebrew language. In their eyes, Hebrew is the reactionary language of the Jewish bourgeoisie, whatever its content, and has to be eliminated in favour of Yiddish, the language of the Jewish proletariat. Hebrew schools and printing are closed. At the end of the 1920’s, Hebrew becomes the only language which is officially outlawed in the Soviet Union. Jewish religious education is now impossible. The only permitted expressions of Soviet-Jewish life are secular Yiddish education, literature, press and theatre… The newly established Yiddish schools are very popular at first. But as only few secondary school and no university courses are in Yiddish, their numbers decline. At the end of the 1930’s, they have completely disappeared. With the almost complete elimination of organized Jewish religious and communal life, the Yevsektsii have become redundant and are dissolved in 1930.”

WWW site “Beyond the Pale”; A History of Soviet Jews;

The same source makes the point that many of the Yevsektsii were later persecuted as “nationalists”:

“During the Stalinist purges of the late 1930’s, most of its members are accused of having had “nationalist tendencies”, and are deported or killed.”

“Beyond The Pale”; Ibid.

But the point has been repeatedly proven in the pages of Alliance, that the purges of the 1930’s were not under the control of Stalin, but the hidden revisionists such as Yezhov. They were aimed at the alienation and or physical elimination of the best Bolsheviks from the party. A policy of Korenizatsiia (“Implanting Bolshevism in the non-Russian masses”) was launched. Stalin’s view at the Commissariat of Nationalities was to stimulate cultural diversity, if it was “National in form and socialist in content”. (Cited Weinberg p.15)

As Gitelman puts it, the promotion of the Yiddish culture was – and remains – a unique experiment:

“This would be done by having party and government institutions operate in their language and educating their children with a Bolshevik content but a national form, as Stalin put it. For Jews this meant the creation of networks of Yiddish schools, newspapers, journals, and theatres. Two academic institutions operating in Yiddish were set up in Kiev and Minsk. Courts, trade unions and even party cells were encouraged to operate in Yiddish. This was the only time in history that a state invested heavily in Yiddish institutions and the promotion of Yiddish culture.”

Gitelman Ibid; p. 6-7.

According to Gitelman, largely speaking, the Jews rejected this effort to build a Jewish state. But this view is countered by Weinberg – who has become the most visible historian of the Birobidzhan:

“The notion of a Jewish homeland appealed to many Soviet Jews, and the Birobidzhan project was intended to undercut the Zionist focus on Palestine.”

Weinberg Ibid, p.13.

Weinberg’s book corroborates the view that a general interest was definitely present. In any case, if Gitelman’s view is accepted, Gitelman explains the lack of interest as being due to the power of the assimilation offered by the new Soviet state. For Gitelman, the main reason was an embrace of Russian language and the opportunities given by the revolution:

“Traditional Jews saw it as an attempt to replace authentic grassroots Judaism with an ersatz product imposed Afrom above”.. Those uninterested n traditional forms of Jewishness saw no reason to remain loyal to Yiddish culture when the broader horizons of Russian culture beckoned to them. Jews rushed to take advantage of the educational and vocational opportunities the revolution had given to them. Clearly Russian was much more useful than Yiddish.”

Gitelman Ibid; p. 6-7.

This confirmed the views of Lenin and Stalin – that once the Jews were allowed to play a part in society in free democratic manner – links to the past would be eroded. Gitelman draws an explicit parallel to the dying of Yiddish as a language in America.. where English was the key to assimilation. Gitelman’s states that on this basis:

“The idea of a territory in which Yiddish would be the dominant language as Birobidzhan, had limited appeal to Soviet Jews in the 1920’s.”

Gitelman, Ibid, p.7.

But as Weinberg argues, nonetheless there were still many Soviet Jews who retained the belief in a separate entity. In May 1934 that the Jewish Autonomous region was set up. It was located as Map 2 shows, in remote and poorly populated area of the Soviet Far East. In this setting it would not displace indigenous peoples. Of course this was in contrast to the creation of the future Israel which displaced the Palestinians in a brutal manner. To this end the plan was evolved to settle 100,000 Jews in agricultural colonies.

In Hard Copy form only:
MAP 2: From page 15 Weinberg Ibid.

By the early 1920’s the number of poor Jewish unemployed in the USSR was high. Around Belarus, in the city of Gomel it was about 70%. (Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 16).

In addition, many of the petit bourgeoisie of the Jewish population had to be brought into the socialist economy. Since the petit bourgeois nature of their work had in the majority of Jews, been continually eroded by the socialist policies of collectivisation in both manufacturing and agriculture, a question arose of the “productivization” of Jewish life. Weinberg comments:

“Given the devastated condition of Soviet industry in the 1920’s government officials focused on agricultural resettlement as a strategy. Despite the long-term objectives of presiding over an industrialised society, the Kremlin in the 1920’s could not pursue a concerted policy of industrialisation that could absorb significant numbers of economically marginal Jews. The publication of two issues of the journal Evreiskii krest’ianin (The Jewish Peasant) in 1925 and 1926 underscores this official interest in Jewish land settlement.”

Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 19.

In the 1920’s therefore two organisations were set up, OZET (Society for the Settlement of Jewish Toilers on the Land) and KOMZET (Committee for the Settlement of Jewish Toilers on the Land). OZET was controlled by KOMZET members, who examined conditions for settlement in Ukraine, Belarus, and the Crimea. After 1928, attention focused on the formation of a Jewish Autonomous Region (J.A.R).

Jews from the Shetls (Shetls were the villages or ghettoes where large numbers of Jews were concentrated) were moved to the area. By 1930, some 47,000 Jewish families were working in agriculture in the Soviet Union.
The 1928 decision to make the Biro-Bidzhanskii district a JAR – took in a region the size of Belgium. It had been annexed in 1858 by Russia. The Biro and the Bidzhan were tributaries of the river Amur. The population consisted then of “several hundred” indigenous Siberians and some settlers – Russians, Cossacks, Koreans and Ukrainians over the late 19th-early 20th century. There was some early resistance from 1924, until the decision was finally taken in 1928, to have the Biro-Bidzhanskii district as the site of the JAR. This resistance, from some activists in KOMZET, argued that it was too far from the current pockets of Jewish populations. Many Jews argued that Birobidzhan was preferable to Palestine, since it was within an area they already had roots – an argument put by I.Sudarskii in 1930 in the book “Birobdizhan And Palestine”. (Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 22).

Moreover the Ukraine Belarus and Crimea were becoming crowded and the Far East resources had not been sufficiently tapped. This meant that the Soviet Government made conditions attractive for Jews to move there:

“Many in the Kremlin were interested in creating a Jewish national territory within the borders of the Soviet Union… Soviet policy in the 1920’s aimed at normalizing the status of non-territorial minorities by establishing official enclaves.”

Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 21-22.

Official USSR sanction for the project was given by President Mikhail Kalinin:

“It is completely natural that the Jewish population.. Strives to find its place in the Soviet Union.. The Jewish people faces the great task of preserving its own nationality, and to this end a page part of the Jewish population must be transformed into an economically stable, agriculturally compact group, which should number at least hundreds of thousands. Only under such conditions can the Jewish masses hope for the further existence of their nationality.”

Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 22

In March 1928 a decree was published reserving the district for the settlement of Jews who would work the land:

“The decree banned agricultural settlement by non-Jews and states that if Jewish settlement were successful, “a Jewish national administrative – territorial entity” might be set up. This idea was realised in 1934, when the district was designated as the Jewish Autonomous Region, (JAR) with Birobidzhan as its capital city.”

Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 23.

Strong incentives were provided to move impoverished Jews to the JAR. Even those who had been declared as Anon-labourers” were allowed to have electoral rights in the JAR if they engaged in productive work. (Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 24). But no doubt, conditions were hard, and were not helped by a serious flood in 1928 and 1932, and Soviet reporters criticised the lack of preparations for the settlers. So there was a yearly drop-out rate of about 50% in the first few years. By 1931, the territory was however decreed to become an autonomous administrative entity, and accordingly a broadening of the original agricultural focus allowed more scope for settlers to stay if they were not farmers. By 1939, only 23% (4,404 of 17,695) lived in the countryside of the JAR. (Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 32.)

But the JAR grew as more Jews came . By World War II it’s capital Birobidzhan, had a population numbered at 30,000, and the JAR was an important source of cement, tin, bricks, paper products, and clothing. (Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 39).

A number of non-Jews went also despite the original intention. In fact gentiles outnumbered Jews. By 1939 Jews were 18,000 of the 109,000 residents of the JAR. Seman Dimanshtein, a leading Jewish activist proclaimed:

“We do not set ourselves the goal of establishing quickly a Jewish majority in the JAR; we are confident that this will come about as a natural consequence of migration.. Our first task is the expansion of and strengthening of socialist construction in the JAR. Therefore we shall welcome assistance from abroad and non-Jewish cadres as the most important and vital form of help.”

Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 43.

It is not surprising that foreign Jewish support was sought, including foreign emigration. Over one thousand foreign Jews moved to the JAR by the mid-1930’s. From 1935, each foreign Jew who wanted to move to the JAR, had to pay KOMZET two hundred dollars. The wholly bourgeois American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) (Later often known simply as the Joint) and the Jewish Colonization Committee were:

“Enthusiastic about the idea of Soviet Jews working the land. In 1928 there were nearly 220,000 Jewish farmers. By the mid 1930’s the JDC had depended $13.8 million on other agricultural work and an additional $10.3 million on other assistance.”

Gitelman Ibid; p. 8.

Gitelman cites one of the American leaders of the JDC, James Rosenberg saying approvingly in an international report:

“Anti-Semitism in Russia is a crime. The ghetto dwellers of Russia have been transformed into hardy workers on farms and in factories. For us in the United States, there is no Jewish problem in Russia”.

Gitelman Ibid; p. 8.

By 1930 the drive towards creating a socialist state, had both unified many of the former minorities into a common struggle, and had created a higher purpose. “Accordingly the Evsektii were abolished in 1930.” (Gitelman Ibid; p. 8). But still the JAR continued to attract world wide Jewish attention. Although certainly, simultaneously many Zionists bitterly attacked it. However many cites throughout the world organised committees of support that continued to donate both monies and equipment and people. Prominent Jews the world over defended the JAR. Lion Feuchtwangler, the prominent Jewish writer, wrote:

“The Jewish Republic of Birobidzhan is a reality”.

Weinberg Ibid; p. 53.

In the context of the Soviet state, hidden revisionists aiming to disrupt socialism sought ways of alienating the world wide Jewish support. The secret security apparatus was controlled by hidden revisionists such as Ezhov. At this juncture correct tactics to the minorites was subverted. Thus at this juncture, an anti-Jewish attack did take place. For example the leading Jewish official Iosif Liberberg – the former head of the Institute of Jewish Proletarian Culture in Kiev – was arrested and charged with:

“Attempting to establish the JAR as the center of Jewish culture in the Soviet Union.”

Weinberg Ibid; p. 67

But, since this was precisely what had been intended for the JAR, such charges themselves can be seen as provocative and anti-Soviet.

Further anti-Soviet acts ensued:

Following the charges, both OZET and KOMZET were disbanded; and Semen Dimanshei was executed. (Weinberg Ibid; p. 68).

By 1941, virtually all the Yiddish schools in the JAR were closed barring only two. But the institutional and legal foundations of the region were un-changed.

Nonetheless by 1939, the Jews accounted for only 16 % of the population(17,695 of about 109,000 inhabitants. Weinberg Ibid; p. 69.

After the war, while there was a temporary set-back for the hidden revisionists, there was a resurgence of Jewish immigration in the JAR. In 1948 Mikhail Kalinin continued his public support for the JAR:

“He stated in 1948 that he considered the region a “Jewish national state” that will Aregenerate Soviet Jews through creative toil.”

Cited Weinberg Ibid, p. 72.

Thus, following the war there was a revived Government sponsored support. Again only Jewish immigration was allowed into the JAR. In 1946 a synagogue was approved by the Council for the Affairs of Religious Cults. In early 1946 the:

“Council of Ministers announced a plan to stimulate the development of the region……. focused on the building of industrial enterprise and the construction of new houses….. the government also offered free transportation a and loans and other incentives to those settlers who chose to till the land.”

Cited Weinberg Ibid, p. 72.

Again the international community of Jews rallied to the JAR. Between 1945 and 1948 some 6 million rubles worth of food and supplies were sent to the JAR from the USA alone. Albert Einstein was one of the prominent supporters.

The conventional wisdom is that:

“In 1948, Stalin launched a murderous campaign to destroy all Jewish intellectual and cultural activity throughout the Soviet Union. His ruthless attacks on “rootless cosmopolitanism” and Abourgeois nationalists” culminated in early 1953 with the infamous “Doctor’s Plot”. .. A rumour circulated that the JAR barracks to house the deported Jews were reportedly built, but Stalin’s death in 1953 prevented the implementation of this sinister plan.”

Cited Weinberg Ibid, p. 82.

As even Gitelman points out the ultimate failure of Birobidzhan left the reactionary alternative of a so-called “Homeland”, of Israel-Palestine , as was then being heavily promoted by the Zionists – with no competition from a socialist alternative:

“Even if the Project (Birobidzhan) was not designed to fail, the fate of Soviet Jewry raise serious questions about the viability of secular Jewishness outside a Jewish state….. The attempt to create a Jewish Autonomous Region in the Soviet Far East remains largely forgotten.. And Birobidzhan’s chief competitors, the Zionists have emerged triumphant.”

Gitelman Ibid, p. 9.

In Summary

 – It is no accident that a veneer of “socialism” was adopted in the fledgling state of Israel.
 – Not only did it serve to better harness the energies of immigrant Jews into the new state.
 – But it served to confuse those Jews who had been previously drawn to the example of the JAR of Birobidzhan.
 – The JAR itself was conciously sabotaged as a potential homeland for Jewish workers.


The Bund and Early Zionism

A Bundist demonstration in 1917

A Bundist demonstration in 1917

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”

The term Zionism, actually dates from the late 1890’s and was supposedly coined by Nathan Birnbaum. But many authorities accept that it was only made into a popular term by Theodore Herzl.

“The term Zionism was first used publicly by Nathan Birnbaum at a discussion meting in Vienna…23 January 1892. The history of political Zionism begins with the publication of Theodore Herzl’s Judenstaat four years later at the first Zionist Congress… Before the word Zionism became generally accepted, the term Palestinofilvsto (Hibat Zion) was widely used in Russia.”

Preface; Walter Lacquer; A History of Zionism; New York; 1976; p. xiii

Theodore Herzl was a first a lawyer, and then a journalist and playwright. He believed that the idea of the Jewish state was a historical necessity, that was essential in order to overcome anti-Semitism. He considered both the Argentine and Palestine as potential places where the Jews of the world could find a haven from persecution. Herzl always maintained that he had not made a new discovery, but that he had simply resurrected an old solution- that of a Jewish State:

“Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State: An Attempt at a Modern Solution of the Jewish Question) was written in 1896…(In it – Ed) Herzl disclaimed having made any sensational new discovery. On the contrary…’The idea which I have developed in this pamphlet is an ancient one. It is the restoration of the Jewish state…I have discovered neither the Jewish situation as it has crystallized in history, nor the means to remedy it.'”

Walter Lacquer; A History of Zionism; New York; 1976; p. 86

So convinced was Herzl that a separate state existence was the only solution for the Jews, that he came to a secret agreement with Plevhe – the notorious Tsarist Home minister who had sponsored pogroms in Russia (See above) to encourage Jews to leave Russia for Palestine. This was simply the first of many later “accomodations” of Zionists with rabid anti-Semites.

The First Zionist Congress was held in Basle, Switzerland on 29 August 1897. (Walter Lacquer; A History of Zionism; New York; 1976; p. 103).

Most Marxists agree that the growth of Zionism, reflected the intense anti-Semitism persecution that the Jewish people, workers especially, suffered. A Trotskyite Jew, the Belgian Abraham Leon, wrote a useful study of the Jewish Question. According to Leon, Zionism was a response to the worst racism, expressed in the anti-Jewish pogroms:

“Zionism was born in the light of the incendiary fire of the Russian pogroms of 1882 and in the tumult of the Dreyfus Affair…In Russia the association of the ‘Lovers of Zion’ were founded. Leo Pinsker wrote ‘Auto-emancipation’ in which he called for a return to Palestine as the sole possible solution of the Jewish question…In Paris Baron Rothschild, who like all the Jewish magnates viewed with very little favour the mass arrival of Jewish immigrants in the Western countries, became interested in Jewish colonization in the Palestine… A short while later.. Theodore Herzl saw anti-Semitic demonstrations at Paris provoked by the Dreyfus Affair.”

Abraham Leon, The Jewish Question-A Marxist Interpretation; New York; 1970; pp.244-245.

In Russia there were several Jewish ideological movements. The first Zionist movements were led by David Gordon and Perz Smolenskin. But these were superseded by various socialist currents within the Zionist stream. One sprung out of the Lovers of Zion movement mentioned above by Leon, and was called Workers of Zion (Poalei-Zion) which formed in 1906 from groups in Minsk and in Southern Russia. They were led by Ber Borochov, who:

“Affirmed that Jewish immigration would flow to Israel by a process of natural attraction. The Zionist revolution would be carried out by the Jewish proletariat through class struggle.”

Benjamin Pinkus: The Jews of the Soviet Union; Cambridge; 1988; p.41

But these various currents, were in general eclipsed by the Bund (Or the General Workers’ Union of Lithuania, Poland and Russia). This was the most important Jewish workers socialist party and was established in 1897. It stood for the autonomous organisation of Jewish workers. It was a section of the general Russian Social-Democrats until it formulated its policy for a so called cultural autonomy. This took place at Bialystok in May 1901. This step led to its membership being torn in two, but it nonetheless between the years 1903-1905, had some 30,000 members. But by 1916 it had declined, only to jump up in numbers by the time of December 1917. (Benjamin Pinkus: The Jews of the Soviet Union; Cambridge; 1988; p.43).

It took a social-chauvinist stand during World War I and during the Civil War supported the counter-revolutionary forces. It finally dissolved itself in 1921.

Stalin explained why the Bund was more or less, obliged to take up the position of the cultural autonomy in the way it did. By its Sixth Congress (1905), the national programme on the grounds of national autonomy was enshrined. Stalin argued that it was made inevitable by two factors.

The first was the organizational refusal to join with the larger international tide of Russian Social Democracy (ie Marxism-Bolshevism) as it grew:

“The first circumstance is the existence of the Bund as an organisation of Jewish and only Jewish Social Democratic workers. Even before 1897 the Social-Democratic groups active among the Jewish workers set themselves the aim of creating a ‘special Jewish workers’ organisations’. They founded such an organisation in 1897, by uniting to form the Bund. That was at a time when the Russian Social Democracy as an integral body virtually did not yet exist. The Bund steadily grew and spread, and stood out more vividly against the bleak days of Russian social democracy.. Then came the 1900’s. A mass labour movement came into being. Polish Social Democracy grew and drew the Jewish workers into the mass struggle. Russian social democracy grew and attracted the Bund workers. Lacking a territorial basis, the national framework of the Bund became too restrictive. The Bund was faced with the problem of either merging with the general international tide, or of upholding its independent existence as an extra-territorial organisation. The Bund chose the latter course. Thus grew up the ‘theory’ that the Bund is ‘the sole representative of the Jewish proletariat’. But to justify this strange ‘theory’ in any simple way became impossible… The Bund seized on >Cultural -national autonomy.”

Stalin; “Marxism & The National Question”: Ibid; p.346-347

The second factor was the peculiar and isolated position of the Jews:

“The second circumstance is the peculiar position of the Jews as separate national minorities within compact majorities of other nationalities in integral regions. We have already said that this position is undermining the existence of the Jews as a nation and puts them on the road to assimilation. But this is an objective process. Subjectively in the minds of the Jews, it provokes a reaction and gives rise to the demand for a guarantee of the rights of a national minority, for a guarantee against assimilation.. The Bund could not avoid being in favor of a ‘guarantee’.. it could not but accept national autonomy. For if the Bund could seize upon any autonomy at all, it could only be national autonomy, ie. Cultural national autonomy for the Jews since the Jews have no definite integral territory.”

Ibid; p.347.

Stalin asked pointedly:

“Can institutions guarantee a nation ‘complete freedom of cultural development?’ Can a Diet for cultural affairs guarantee a nation against nationalist persecution? The Bund believes it can. But history proves the contrary.”

Ibid; p.349

Stalin’s central point is that the absence of democracy ensures no guarantees for “freedom of cultural development.” Stalin goes on to cite the cases of Russian Poland and Finland. He then pointed out that the Bund’s splitting tendencies of the workers movements were exposed, by its further actions. These included the clauses whereby the Bund placed emphasis on the Jewish language above all others:

“But it becomes still more harmful when it is thrust upon a ‘nation’ whose existence and future are open to doubt. In such cases the advocates of national autonomy are obliged to protect and preserve all the peculiar features of the ‘nation’, the bad as well as the good, just for the sake of ‘saving the nation’ from assimilation, just for the sake of ‘preserving’ it. That the Bund should take this dangerous path was inevitable. And it did take it. We are referring to the resolutions of recent conferences of the Bund on the question of the ‘Sabbath,’ ‘Yiddish’, etc. Social democracy strives to secure for all nations the right to use their own language. But that does not satisfy the Bund; it demands that ‘the rights of the Jewish language’ be championed with ‘exceptional persistence’ and the Bund itself in the elections to the 4th Duma declared that it would give ‘preference to those of them (ie electors) who undertake to defend the rights of Jewish language.’ Not the general right of all nations to use their own language, but the particular right of the Jewish language, Yiddish!…But in what way then does the Bund differ from the bourgeois nationalists?”

Ibid; p.352-353

Stalin now exposed the Bund’s passage into a chauvinist position, one that was anti-internationalist and anti-proletarian:

“It is not surprising that the effect of this state of affairs upon the workers is to weaken their sense of solidarity and to demoralize them; and the latter process is also penetrating the Bund. We are referring to the increasing collisions between Jewish and Polish workers in connection with unemployment. Here is the kind of speech that was made on this subject at the 9th Conference of the Bund: ‘We regard the Polish workers, who are ousting us, as pogromists, as scabs, we do not support their strikes, we break them.'”

Ibid; p.358-359.

Lenin made clear in several subsequent articles that he agreed with Stalin. For example, in “Does the Jewish Proletariat Need an ‘Independent political party?'”, in 1903, Lenin expresses caustic surprise as to a recent violation by the Bund. Despite polemics with the Bund, where the Bund asserted its= wish to remain part of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP), the Bund was now proclaiming itself as an independent political party:

“The Jewish proletariat had formed itself into an independent political party, the Bund. We did not know this before. This is something new. Hitherto the Bund has been a constituent part of the RSDLP…It is true that at the 4th Congress of Bund, the Bund decided to change its name…On the other hand when Iskra polemicised with the decision of the Bund’s 4th Congress, the Bund itself stated very definitely that it only wanted to secure the acceptance of its wishes and decisions by the RSDLP; in other words it flatly and categorically acknowledged that until the RSDLP adopted new Rules and settled new forms of attitude towards the Bund, the latter would remain a section of the RSDLP…But now… this is something new.”

Lenin, V.I: “Does the Jewish proletariat need an independent political party?”; Iskra 1903; In Collected Works; Moscow; 1985; Vol 6; p. 328-329.

Lenin goes on to describe how the Bund has attacked the Jewish Ekaterinoslav Committee – which had adopted an internationalist position already. The Bund’s attack was on the question of where does anti-Semitism arise from? The Ekaterinoslav committee had argued that the roots of anti-Semitism were international, and that it found “adherents among the bourgeois and not among the working class sections of the population” (Lenin Ibid; p. 331).

But the Bund had chastised the Ekaterinoslav committee for this, arguing that anti-Semitism has “struck roots in the mass of the workers.” Lenin denied the Bund’s view linking anti-Semitism with the bourgeois interests:

“The link that undoubtedly exists between anti-Semitism and the interests of the bourgeois, and not of the working class sections of the population. If they had given it a little more thought they might have realised that the social character of anti-Semitism today is not changed by the fact that dozens or even hundreds of unorganised workers, nine-tenths of whom are still quite ignorant, take part in a pogrom…We must not weaken the force of our offensive by breaking up into numerous independent political parties.”

Lenin Ibid; p. 331-332.

He elsewhere repeated again that the way forward was assimilation, and not separation:

“Can we possibly attribute to chance the fact that it is the reactionary forces all over Europe and especially Russia who oppose the assimilation of the Jew and try to perpetuate their isolation? That is precisely what the Jewish problem amounts to: assimilation or isolation? — and the idea of a Jewish ‘nationality’ is definitely reactionary not only when expounded by its consistent advocates (the Zionists), but likewise on the lips of those who try to combine it with the ideas of Social Democracy (The Bundists). The idea of a Jewish nationality runs counter to the interests of the Jewish proletariat, for it fosters among them directly or indirectly, the spirit of the ‘ghetto.'”

Lenin: “Position of the Bund in the Party”; Collected Works; Vol 7; Moscow; 1986 p.101

Should Workers Always Support A National Status?

We argued earlier, that Stalin’s central position regarding Jewish claims of nationhood, was that democratic rights and freedom from oppressions were the key demands that needed to be won – and not “nationhood.” The position, of Lenin and Stalin, was always that nations – if a national status did in fact exist (by definitions provided by Stalin) – should have the full right to self-determination.

“The right of self-determination means that a nation may arrange its life in the way it wishes. It has the right to arrange its life on the basis of autonomy. It has the right to enter into federal relations with other nations. It has the right to complete secession. Nations are sovereign, and all nations have equal rights.”

Stalin; Ibid; p.321.

But even if there is a nation, NOT all claims to nationhood are strategically defensible from the workers perspective. For example the Marxist-Leninist will not necessarily support all claims to nationhood if they obstruct the working peoples. For instance, the resurrection of the influence of the beys and mullahs, in Transcaucasia, would not have been in the best interests of the toiling strata. The best answer for the workers and toilers, depends upon the precise historical situation. It must be carefully found by looking at the precise facts:

“A nation has the right to arrange its life on autonomous lines. It even the has the right to secede. But this does not mean that it should do so under all circumstances, that autonomy or separation, will everywhere and always be advantageous for a nation; ie. For its majority, ie for the toiling strata. The Transcacausian Tartars as a nation may assemble, let us say, in their Diet and succumbed to the influence of their beys and mullahs, decide to restore the old order of things and to secede from the state. According to the meaning of the clause on self-determination they are fully entitled to do so. But will this be in the interest of the toiling strata of the Tartar nation? Can Marxists look on indifferently when the beys and mullahs assume the leadership of the masses in the solution of the national question?…Should not Marxists come forward with a definite plan for the solution of the question, a plan which would be most advantageous for the Tartar masses?…But what solution would be most compatible with the interests of the toiling masses? Autonomy, federation or separation? All these are problems the solution of which will depend on the concrete historical conditions in which the given nation finds itself…Conditions like everything else change, and a decision which is correct at one particular time may prove to be entirely unsuitable at another.”

Stalin; Ibid; p.324

Stalin was clear upon the rights of minorities and the national question. For example, where there is one geographical region with different minorities, or proto-nations, living side by side. This is a special type of national problem. Such situations are still frequent. In Stalin’s day, in Europe, this situation existed in Transcaucasia. As a precondition to solve the problems of these areas, Stalin insisted that:

“The complete democratisation of the country is the basis and condition for the solution of the national question.”

Stalin; Ibid; p.373.

But, Stalin recognised that there was a possibility that independence and secession was necessary for some parts. He then considered the possibility that for some parts regional autonomy was preferable. This was so he argued, for “The Jews in Poland, the Letts in Lithuania, the Russians in the Caucasus, the Poles in the Ukraine and so on…”

This was for two reasons;
Firstly, because it disposed of a fiction bereft of territory; and,
Secondly, it did not divide people by nation:

“The only correct solution is regional autonomy, autonomy for such crystallised units as Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine, the Caucasus etc. The advantage of regional autonomy consists first of all in the fact that it does not deal with a fiction bereft of territory, but with a definite population inhabiting a definite territory. Next it does not divide people according to nations, it does not strengthen national barriers; on the contrary it breaks down these barriers and unites the population in such a manner as to open the way for division of a different kind, division according to classes…Of course, not one of these regions constitutes a compact homogeneous nation, for each is interspersed with national minorities. Such are the Jews in Poland, the Letts in Lithuania, the Russians in the Caucasus, the Poles in the Ukraine, and so on. It may be feared therefore that the minorities will be oppressed by the national majorities. But there will be grounds for fear only if the old order continues to prevail in the country. Give the country complete democracy and all grounds for fear will vanish.”

Stalin; Ibid; p.376.

Again – the key issue for Stalin, was that definite, visible, meaningful and clear democratic rights (for instance to use its own language etc). should be granted. So strongly did he feel about this, that he repeats it. He argues that without it an “artificial union” means nothing; and that with it the perceived need for “national union” disappear. He identifies what is it that “agitates” a national minority as discrimination of language, liberty of conscience – religious liberty, self regulated schooling etc:

“What the minorities want is not an artificial union but real rights in the localities they inhabit. What can such a union give them without complete democratisation? On the other hand, what need is there for a national union when there is complete democratisation? What is that particularly agitates a national minority? A minority is discontented not because there is not national union but because it does not enjoy the right to use its native language. Permit it to use its native language and the discontent will pass of itself. A minority is discontented not because there is no artificial union but because it does not possess it own schools. Give it its own schools and all grounds for discontent will disappear. A minority is discontented not because there is not national union, but because it does not enjoy liberty of conscience (religious liberty), liberty of movement, etc. Give it those liberties and it will cease to be discontented. Thus equal rights of nation in all forms (language, schools, etc) is an essential element in the solution of the national question.. Complete democratisation of the country is required.”

Stalin; Ibid; p.375-377

Stalin’s view, regarding the formation of multi-national states, was the basis for Lenin’s viewpoint that echoed Kautsky (See Lenin above). This was that the formation of multi-national states, is a “special method” of the formation of states, and one which takes place in territories where certain conditions hold, that are more common in the East.

These conditions are:
1) Where more than one pre-nation (or nascent nationality) exists;
2) Where capitalism has not yet been eliminated; and
3) Where capitalism is feebly developed but is more developed in one of the pre-nations concerned than in the other (or others):

“Whereas in the West (of Europe-ed) nations developed into states, in the East multi-national states were formed…This special mode of formation of states could take place only where feudalism has not yet been eliminated, where capitalism was feebly developed, where the nationalities which had been forced into the background had not not been able to consolidate themselves economically into integral nations.”

Stalin Ibid; p.314.

Again, even in this context of the multi-national state, Stalin used the example of Transcaucasia. Stalin favoured Democratisation and Regional Autonomy – equating with national status – within a larger federation.

In summary the views of Lenin and Stalin on Zionism were:

1. The Jews did not form a nation;
2. The Jewish workers were the most oppressed section of the Jewish peoples, all of whom were discriminated against and maltreated;
3. The solution to their woes was assimilation; and ultimately socialism;
4. But their legitimate feelings of oppression should be directly addressed by immediate granting of full democratic rights, including language rights etc;
5. The Bund and other Zionist organisation which tried to pull workers away from affiliations with the internationalist workers movement, were objectively fomenting a counter-revolutionary division.