Bourgeois nationalists, whether of Zionist and Pan-Islamic persuasions, both accuse the USSR of the socialist era (from 1917-1953) of racism, aimed against either Jews or Arabs respectively. But, in reality Lenin and Stalin gave an even-handed and single reply, to both the Pan-Islamists and to the Zionists. This reply was to eschew a narrow bourgeois nationalism, in order to create socialism.
In Alliance 30 we attempt to put the recent history of Jewry into a Marxist-Leninist context. This means we will first examine the views of Marx, Lenin and Stalin upon the ideologies of Zionism and its precursors. Next we discuss the Jewish Autonomous Region of Birobidzhan established by the Soviets. Of necessity we examine the so called “Jewish Plot” and the “Doctor’s Plot” in the USSR. This is necessary to sensibly to discuss how it was that the USSR would come to agree at the United Nations, to a recognition of the imperialist-led partition of Palestine, and the planting of the colony of Israel.
In the companion Alliance Number 31, we will examine the views of Lenin and Stalin on Pan-Islamism. The form Pan-Islamism took in the USSR, was known as Sultan-Galiyev-ism. We then briefly examine the versions of Pan-Islamism represented by the Ba’ath Party ideology of Syria and Iraq; and finally we will assess the views of Samir Amin.
A Methodological Foreword Upon Recent Sources For Marxist-Leninists
Alliance has always tried to punctiliously show its source material with as precise references as is possible. This is not an academic peccadillo- to be disdained as “armchair Marxism.” Rather it is essential to root a Marxist-Leninist view of the world in an objective and clear manner. Only this permits any possible rebuttals that are based on facts rather than those of opinion. It has not been necessary to comment on this matter till now. However three new issues have arisen, regarding source materials that directly affect the Marxist-Leninist movement.
Firstly: Certain documents have been released in the Gorbachev era and more recently, from the Soviet archives. This is generally of benefit to Marxist-Leninists, who try to explain the real events inside the former USSR in its Marxist-Leninist days of Stalin’s life time. Previous readers of Alliance, will know that we generally try to highlight the most significant of such documents; and we draw readers’ attention to the confusion that this raises in the bourgeois academic circles. For instance, we previously discussed how the school of so called “revisionist” historians – such as Arch Getty Junior – have tried to struggle with such evidence that contradicts the standard Trotsky influenced bourgeois academic histories. But a caveat must be introduced. It is very unlikely that ALL relevant documents will surface in our lifetime. Moreover, we do not know what documents of Stalin’s and other relevant leading personalities may have been destroyed. All the written archival materials are unlikely to be made available to us anyway, since some of these will be deemed “too sensitive.” Why should the Russian state behave any differently to the British Kew Gardens Archives for instance? We therefore simply raise a caution regarding the appropriate interpretation of documents that may become available. These are likely to be only “spotty” and unlikely to give us all the facts.
Secondly: As a corollary, this leaves some to a continuing abundance of the hear-say, “he said-they said,” type of scurrilous evidence. This leads to a dilemma for the Marxist-Leninists, as to whether to even use this type of evidence at all. But to ignore it is to ignore the charges that the authors lay at Stalin. This does not help Marxists-Leninists currently since one of our current tasks – is to counter the bourgeois historiography and lies. On the other hand, in using these sources it is necessary to be highly selective. Instances are provided in Alliance 30 of two especially problematic sources.
Very little written is available on Stalin’s attitude to the Jewish Question. A new low in scurrilous writing on Stalin is provided by the virulent Arkady Vaksberg in “Stalin Against The Jews,” New York; 1994. Much of the tone and a large measure of the content of this book is scurrilous. For instance – Vaksberg alleges that Stalin did not really research and write the famous article on “The National Question.” Nonetheless we will use the Vaksberg source – albeit with caution – since little else is available on the subject.
Another such problem source is the memoirs of Pavel Sudoplatov, published in 1994. After 1939, he was the officer in charge of the NKVD (later MGB) special operations. Several attacks upon Sudoplatov’s honesty and reliability have been made. Sudoplatov claimed that he organized the assassination of Trotsky under direct orders from Stalin, and that the Soviet atomic bomb was only made possible by secrets divulged by the Danish physicist Niels Bohr.
Both claims are untrue. David Holloway has exposed the latter lie in an article in “Science,” (Holloway D; Science May 27th, 1994), and the former lie is contrary to key facts as discussed by the CL. (CL article reprinted Alliance Issue Number 7.) It is interesting that these memoirs were recorded from Sudoplatov by Jerrold L. & Leona P. Schecter. This same couple first fully published Khrushchev’s memoirs in 1970, in an association between Life magazine & Little Brown Publishers. (See Pavel & A Sudoplatov; with JL & LP Schecter: “Special Tasks”; Boston; 1995 p.xxiii) . It is also not a coincidence that one of the most anti-Communist writers, Robert Conquest, exonerates Sudoplatov of falsification in a glowing foreword.
Of course, Conquest is careful to cover himself by saying that:
“Sudoplatov is by no means immune from error”
Nonetheless Conquest ends by lauding the memoirs:
“But it will be seen that (criticisms-ed) are of little consequence compared with the solid substance we Sudoplatov offers is.. A unique document.. The most valuable of all possible sources for important matters over the whole period of High Stalinism”
We reply that the most solid evidence about the period is in Stalin’s own writings. The fragmentary additional evidence must be sensibly pieced together using in addition, Marxist-Leninist theory.
Thirdly: We have increasingly over the last few months/years used sources derived from the world wide web. We caution however that it is sometimes difficult to know who is posting these various documents on the web. We thus attempt to use these documents sparingly. Above all, if web sources are used, we attempt to fully reference the web site.
When Zionists attack Lenin and Stalin for their alleged racism against the Jewish peoples, the accusation devolves onto one issue. That issue is that Lenin and Stalin denied at the turn of the century, that the Jewish people had a national status.
After German fascists, aided by Western imperialism launched the genocide against Jews, before and during World War II, a national identity was then formed in the state of Israel. In fact the German fascists helped to weld a later national possibility for Jews in the imperialist stooge state of Israel. This later event was not one that could have been dealt with by Lenin or Stalin in their early writings. In “The National Question,” Stalin had pointed out, that nations come into being and pass away. Obviously a different situation arose after World War II, engineered by imperialism, which before turned a blind eye to the genocide of the Jews. This was part of the overall strategy of turning Germany against the USSR. But some imperialisms, especially the USA promoted the migration of Jews into former Palestine, to consolidate their position against other imperialisms. This created a further tension between the British imperialists and the USA imperialists.
It was not racism that informed the views of Lenin and Stalin. The attitude of Lenin and Stalin was to destroy separatist tendencies that would ghetto-ise and narrow the proletariat. Lenin quoted with approval the words of Ernest Renan, which quickly summarize the views that Lenin had on ghettos and racism of all sorts:
“‘When the National Assembly of 1791 decreed the emancipation of the Jews,'” writes Renan, “It was very little concerned with the question of race.. It is the business of the Nineteenth Century to abolish all ‘ghettos,’ and I cannot compliment those who seek to restore them. The Jewish race has rendered the world the greatest services. Assimilated with the various nations, harmoniously blended with the various national units, it will render no less services in the future than in the past.”
(Lenin, Quoting Ernst Renan of Paris, 1887, in : “The Position of Bund In The Party” 1903)