Category Archives: Alliance (Marxist-Leninist)

Stalin’s Writings: Notes Regarding the Use of the Word “Sectarianism”

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Alliance Notation January 2003

So far, I have been able to trace only two clear uses of the term ‘sectarianism’ in the work of J.V.Stalin. Although to my mind, his practice was non-sectarian, his writings do not dwell on this very much. The points that I think Stalin makes on this matter, are as follows:

1) The need for “flexibility”

In text one, he is in discussion with party officials on how to combat illusions regarding nationalism, that in 1923, many still had in the state of the USSR. When Stalin talks of the manner of work required, he talks of a need for ‘flexibility’. Only by being ‘flexible’, can the cadre rally around themselves the “majority of the working people.”

Stalin Text 1

“But no less, if not more, sinful are the “Lefts” in the border regions. If the communist organisations in the border regions cannot grow strong and develop into genuinely Marxist cadres unless they overcome nationalism, these cadres themselves will be able to become mass organisations, to rally the majority of the working people around themselves, only if they learn to be flexible enough to draw into our state institutions all the national elements that are at all loyal, by making concessions to them, and if they learn to manoeuvre between a resolute fight against nationalism in the Party and an equally resolute fight to draw into Soviet work all the more or less loyal elements among the local people, the intelligentsia, and so on. The “Lefts” in the border regions are more or less free from the sceptical attitude towards the Party, from the tendency to yield to the influence of nationalism. But the sins of the “Lefts” lie in the fact that they are incapable of flexibility in relation to the bourgeois-democratic and the simply loyal elements of the population, they are unable and unwilling to manoeuvre in order to attract these elements, they distort the Party’s line of winning over the majority of the toiling population of the country. But this flexibility and ability to manoeuvre between the fight against nationalism and the drawing of all the elements that are at all loyal into our state institutions must be created and developed at all costs. It can be created and developed only if we take into account the entire complexity and the specific nature of the situation encountered in our regions and republics; if we do not simply engage in transplanting the models that are being created in the central industrial districts, which cannot be transplanted mechanically to the border regions; if we do not brush aside the nationalist-minded elements of the population, the nationalist-minded petty bourgeois; and if we learn to draw these elements into the general work of state administration. The sin of the “Lefts” is that they are infected with sectarianism and fail to understand the paramount importance of the Party’s complex tasks in the national republics and regions.”

J. V. Stalin June 9-12, 1923. “Fourth Conference of the Central Committee of the R.C.P. With Responsible Workers of the National Republics and Regions. Verbatim Report Moscow, 1923 J. V. Stalin, Works Moscow, 1953 Vol. 5, pp. 297-348.

(2) But “flexibility” is not the same as having no principles. And the communists must find the dialectical balance between “strict adherence to principle” – and “sectarianism”

Yet it is not the case that ‘flexibility’ is ‘opportunism’ or an un-principled loss of “adherence to principle”. There is a dialectical balance that must be found – between “strict adherence to principle” – and “sectarianism.” This is taken from his discussion with the CPG member, Herzog, in 1925:

“In its work the Party must be able to combine the strictest adherence to principle (not to be confused with sectarianism!) with the maximum of ties and contacts with the masses (not to be confused with khvostism!); without this, the Party will be unable not only to teach the masses but also to learn from them, it will be unable not only to lead the masses and raise them to its own level but also to heed their voice and anticipate their urgent needs.”

J. V. Stalin: “The Prospects of the Communist Party of Germany and the Question of Bolshevisation”. Interview with Herzog, Member of the C.P.G. February 3, 1925; in Works; Moscow, 1954, Vol. 7, pp. 34-41; or at: The Prospects of the C.P.G. and Bolshevisation

Bill Bland on Sectarianism

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1) Bland on the refusal of the early British anti-revisionists to allow people who were on the point of breaking away from the CPGB to do so, and belong to the anti-revisionist movement:

“WB: They wouldn’t allow it. They were sectarian in a way in that it had to be all or nothing and so they only lasted for a brief period. McCreary died, he was ill, and his money was always important, his father was quite wealthy, and it was his money that had supported the organisation, its paper and the whole thing fell to pieces after McCreary died. The next thing that came up was Mike Baker’s organisation, the MLOB. Baker was the next one to approach me and my position was the same, and he made the point that he agreed with me that it shouldn’t be necessary at the moment for everybody to withdraw from the CPGB. If they were able to do any work within it of any sort, fair enough since there were still people there who were confused and honest, therefore potential recruits, so he agreed with me and we formed the MLOB on that basis. At this time, we hadn’t analysed Mao Tse Tung thought at all when the MLOB was formed, and it was taken for granted by everybody that Mao Tse Tung was the leading Marxist-Leninist in the world.”

MEMORANDUM To Cmdes VS & JM (India) From the Newly Formed Communist League – Following the Expulsion of Mike Baker & the split in the then Marxist-Leninist Organisation Britain.

Date Sent: circa Autumn months 1976 (First published by Alliance & Communist League in 2002 on web)

2) On the various sectarian views that prevented the work of the Albania Society in the UK:

“WB: That’s right. We founded this society which gradually prospered over the years and grew to several hundred members, published a journal, ‘Albanian Life’ regularly, and I think did some useful work in that way. Then as soon as the MLOB changed its line, all the Maoists in the Society who had previously been active and supportive began to demand that Bland go on the grounds that my organisation, to which I belonged, had published a report which was anti-Mao Tse Tung and therefore anti-Albanian, and therefore I shouldn’t any longer be allowed to be secretary of the Albanian Society. Instead they organised a faction within the society to get rid of Bland, and at the next AGM they organised a miniature cultural revolution in the society. The chairman at that time was a Maoist called Berger, she wrote articles on wine, her husband was a leading member of the friendship society with China. They organised this sort of cultural revolution at the AGM whereby a lot of people who had never been members of the society before appeared and demanded the right to vote, and Berger as chairman ruled that they had the right to vote because we were a democratic society and therefore anyone who walked in off the street to vote should be allowed to vote. This was the masses speaking you see. Unfortunately they hadn’t got quite enough people to outvote the other members, and our members didn’t agree with this particular line that it was reasonable grounds for sacking me, and so they lost the vote and I got re-elected as secretary and the Maoists walked out. They then formed another New Albanian Society which rapidly split into four or five other groups all of which rapidly disappeared, except the one that was financed by the Chinese, namely the one around Reg Birch. They called themselves the New Albania Society and functioned for several years with full support from China.

JP: Did they have any official standing as far as the Albanians were concerned?

WB: The Albanians recognised them immediately as the Marxist-Leninist Party in Britain. There were two organisations – there was the Communist Party of Britain run by Reg Birch, and there was the broader New Albania Society, both of these were officially supported by the Albanian Party of Labour. At that time they broke of relations completely with us. We had a meeting and decided what we should do: Albania is a socialist country, we accept that, we don’t agree with their line on this particular point, but none the less we stand for solidarity and support for the Albanian Party of Labour and the Albanian regime, therefore we would continue to support Albania, whatever their attitude to us might be. We carried on exactly as we had done, sending our literature to them regularly over the next six or seven years, until 1978, the Albanian Party changed its line and came out attacking Mao Tse Tung as being revisionist, his line as being revisionist.

Immediately Birch broke off relations with Albania, dissolved the New Albania Society without even consulting its membership. There were just notices in the post saying ‘as from today the society is dissolved’, full stop. At that time the one person who still had contacts with the Albanians was the expert on folk music, the president of our society Bert Lloyd. Bert Loyd made regular trips to Albania to record folk music, not as president of the Albania Society but in a personal capacity. We asked him if he would point out to the Albanians on his next visit that it was rather ridiculous to have no Albania friendship society because there was no one except for ourselves, with whom they would not speak. And so we said diplomatically that he might raise this with them and point out that it didn’t seem sensible to us that the situation should continue in the new circumstances. So he did raise it with them, and I was invited to Paris first of all to speak to the ambassador there, who seemed very suspicious of the whole situation. I couldn’t see any reason why, the whole thing seemed perfectly straight forwards, never the less he was suspicious, and he said he would make our points to Tirana and write to me in due course. Eventually the reply came back ‘yes, we would like a delegation from the Society to go to Albania’. There was no mention of what had happened over the previous ten years, no self criticism at all, but never the less they resumed good friendly relations with the society which was the main thing. The question of self-criticism was a matter for the Albanians and not for us really. We agreed in principle all the way through. And so that was the situation through to the counter-revolution.

Mind you, I am convinced now that there was a very strong revisionist faction in the leading positions of the party long before Hoxha’s death, and the whole thing came to a head only after that period, but it was a continuation of policies followed previously. For example, when we sent a delegation just after Hoxha’s death I think it was, I went with Steve Day, we were the two delegates elected to go, and they asked us what we would like to see and do, and so we gave them a short list of things we would like to do. One of them was to take a film of the area around the Corfu Channel to make a film about the Corfu channel incident, and also some research that I wanted to do from the Albanian library. Now we were a little taken aback by the fact that first of all they were unable to find an interpreter for us, they had no one there who could speak English, we were not allowed to take any photographs of the Corfu channel, and everything we asked to do including my visit to the Albanian National Library was for some reason not possible. They sent us round the country, it was enjoyable but it was purely a holiday, there was nothing we were able to do of any political value whatsoever. The whole 10 out of the 13 days we were there we were just driving around the country in a private car. I pointed this out to Steve and said ‘these people are bloody revisionists!’ you know, I’d met the same people before in the CPGB and they behaved in exactly the same way as people in the CPGB had behaved. I’m convinced now that these were symptoms of degeneration that had already set in, that revisionism had already won many of the leading positions within the party, but it was not coming out openly.”

IN MEMORIAM: William B. Bland 1916-2001 Interview Performed by JP with Bill Bland, 10th July 1994, Great Northern Hotel, Euston

3) How do progressives and “Marxist-Leninists” – of other than pro-Hoxha stripes – change their views? By weight of evidence, says Bland.

“WB: You see, first of all there is a great reluctance many people tend to be conformists, you like to be able to agree with your contemporaries, your associates, therefore I think that is a barrier to objective research, to objective findings, because then if your individual view is unpopular you become unpopular and therefore you tend to say what other people want you to say. I do think that this is something that has to be avoided. For example, the CL’s line on Dimitrov is unpopular because it is something new. It is not something that is anti-Marxist-Leninist, it is something which is either true or untrue depending on the facts. Now if your facts draw you to a particular conclusion I think it is essential for an organisation or party to come out with a correct point of view, under no circumstances should they say ‘well we can’t say that, its unpopular, therefore we will say nothing about it’; I think it is absolutely unpardonable for an M-L organisation. If one is correct, then sooner or later the passage of time will confirm the correctness, but if you are incorrect then it wont, and of course you must immediately rectify your incorrect fine. But not to put a line forward that you think is correct merely to be popular, I think is contrary to all the principles of Marxism. I think we’ve never done that.

I remember when we put forward our first research report on China, at that time most people who regarded themselves as M-Ls were running around waving the little red book, and they felt that this was something like running into a Catholic church and overturning the altar, they felt exactly the same way, and they responded in exactly the same way, yet gradually, over the years, more and more M-Ls have come out accepting the views we put forward in 1960. I think that under no circumstances should we ever…. of course we have to be sure that we are right, we go over and over the facts again, but once we are convinced that there is no other explanation, for example accepting that Dimitrov was a leading revisionist, then we should say so. I think not to say so merely to be popular is unpardonable. All new views are unpopular at first, it is merely a reflection of their newness. People tend to be conservative, they don’t like changing their point of view if they can avoid it, they have to be forced to do so by the weight of evidence, by the weight of incontrovertible facts, and this is the way I think the CL ought to work, small as it is. It is the only way that any organisation large or small should work.

4) Some examples of broad Front work that Bill Bland led the CL into with non-Hoxhaites:

(i) The MLRB:

JP: What about the Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau, that has a similar role in investigating important topics?

WB: The weakness there is that so far we have not felt able to investigate controversial topics. The New Communist Party was holding a meeting on Yugoslavia, and they had got together all the people who are supportive of the view of the Yugoslav government to present their case. Now our case is not popular among people among people who regard themselves as M-L. Never the less I feel we should put it forward, not in a destructive way, to call people traitors and fools but merely to present the facts as we see them, and invite them to seek another explanation for these facts. People are very reluctant to discuss things on the basis of facts. People like Harpal Brar, a very high political level, a loyal supporter of Stalin, there is no doubt he is very sincere in his support of Stalin and Marxism-Leninism, never the less, if you say ‘right, lets discuss Mao’ he will not discuss Mao, he will merely say ‘I don’t want to discuss it, I don’t agree with you, that’s all there is to say’. If you don’t agree, why not? Maybe you are right, tell me why you don’t want to agree? Somehow, he doesn’t want to do that.

So what it is here, in my opinion is this: rather than basing one’s views on fact, he’s basing his view on preconceived prejudices which Brar is unwilling to change or challenge. It’s like the attitude of the Catholic church in the middle ages, you didn’t discuss whether God existed or not, you just had to accept it because even discussing it was equivalent to treason, to heresy, and it seems to me that these people do have that view. They are unwilling to discuss it. Take a member of the NCP again, they cancelled a meeting which they forgot to tell me about and there was only a chap there who was editor of the paper. He wanted to discuss Mao Tse Tung thought, and I said read this stuff I’ll leave it with you, it may be wrong and if so, if you point out where we are wrong, we’ll correct it. ‘Yes I’ll do that’, you see, and that was a year ago. I left the stuff with him and asked him to fix a date for a further discussion, but no, he won’t do that. This means that he is only prepared to blindly follow the line of his party, and this isn’t going to do his party any good. If the line is wrong, then his party is not being served by his support for it. If the fine is incorrect then his job as a party member is to bring his objections forward and have them discussed at the highest level, and this they are unwilling to do, whether its Brar or the NCP.”

4) Some examples of broad Front work that Bill Bland led the CL into with non-Hoxhaites:

(ii) The Stalin Society

“WB: Well today we are in a situation where everyone who calls themself an M-L is in favour of building a new Marxist Leninist party. The Majids say that; Ivor Kenna says that, they all say it, but when you come down to it, it is necessary to draw a dividing line between the most blatant revisionist trend, which is Maoism, and Marxism-Leninism. You cannot build a party which contains both revisionists and Marxist-Leninists, it will fall to pieces at the first blow. Therefore our line in the Stalin society to try and utilise this for the purpose of support of Stalin, as we are all agreed, but also for discussing in a friendly way, the points on which we differ, so that on the basis of fact the members can be aware of the two opposed points of view and make their own decisions, and this seems to me to be to be an absolutely inevitable consequence of building a party which is taken seriously. And the same thing applies to a society that has a Marxist-Leninist paper, that we find out what we can agree on and that is the integral policy of the paper. Other questions on which we disagree we leave open for the time being and publish articles on both points of view, not in a hostile way but in a friendly way based on facts, and in that way, all those who call themselves M-Ls we say here, presented objectively, are the particular points of view why one policy is wrong, and the other answer is right, is Marxist-Leninist. I think that this is an essential way forward in building a party in the present circumstances.”

4) Some examples of broad Front work that Bill Bland led the CL into with non-Hoxhaites:

(iii) ISML:

JP: The international journal which is being suggested I think we have already discussed and we felt that this could play a useful role and should be open to Maoists to contribute to, and put down their views, and essentially, should be forced to express themselves in writing so that everyone could see where they do stand.

WB: The fact that they have expelled all the M-Ls, with the exception of yourself, from the Stalin Society is a sign not of their strength but of their weakness. If Adolpho is really sincere in saying that it is a good thing that we be allowed to put forward this rubbish so that it can be exposed, then he would be in favour of us continuing to put our view forward, but in fact he voted for our expulsion. And this to my mind exposes his hypocrisy. We are anxious to put forward our point of view, we don’t pretend that we’re infallible, we may be wrong, if so we regret it and we will criticise ourselves. But in order that we should be shown to be wrong we have to hear the other point of view, and this is what they are unwilling to do, to participate in any sort of objective discussion of facts.

(5) Events in the Stalin Society that Led up to Bland’s Expulsion From the Stalin Society

“Brief Introduction: The Stalin Society was formed on the initiative of Bill Bland, when he circulated a note suggesting that this would be a timely step; coming upon the open embrace of capital by Gorbachev. With this, the revisionist “official” soviet parties were manifestly crumbling. His intent was an open broad front organisation – open to all who call themselves Marxist-Leninists. Given the later development of the hijacking of the society for sectarian ends, he and the CL were forced to write this critique. It is noteworthy that subsequently, in order to further enable themselves to ‘safely’ and ‘constitutionally’ expel Bill Bland for his insistence on an open and non-sectarian conduct and debate within the society, the hijackers led by the husband and wife team of the Majids – cancelled all overseas subscriptions.

It should not be thought that the contents of this exposure of the manoeuvres of the Stalin Society are of purely historic interest. The critique contained here-in, centres on two aspects that the world-wide Marxist-Leninist movement is still coming to grips with.

One is the content of Maoism;

The second is the nature and development of the revisionist blocs inside the USSR and the Comintern.

It is for these reasons that at this stage Alliance feels it – once more a timely – exposure. Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America); June 2002.”

“COMPASS” COMMUNIST LEAGUE
January 1995, No. 116

“MORE ON THE FIFTH COLUMN IN THE STALIN SOCIETY” Compass 116 (Communist League)

(6) Upon the Various Types of Maoism – Some we can ‘work with’ – Others we cannot!

“FUNDAMENTALIST AND MODERNIST MAOISM

Most systems of religious belief are based on writings regarded as ‘sacred’, and most of these were written long ago. But as man’s knowledge of the universe increases, it is discovered that these ancient writings appear to conflict with fact. In this situation, some people realise that their religious belief was mere superstition and become atheists. Of those who retain their religious belief, some insist that the writings, being sacred, are infallibly true, so that their appearance of falsity must be a mere illusion: we call such people fundamentalists; others admit that the writings cannot be accepted as literal truth, but can be accepted as allegorical truth: we call such people modernists.

Maoism has its fundamentalists and its modernists. As history made Maoism untenable except to those whose prejudices overrode their reason, genuine materialists came to realise that Maoism was merely a brand of revisionism. Among other Maoists, Fundamentalist and Modernist trends appeared.”

“COMPASS” COMMUNIST LEAGUE January 1995, No. 116 TABLE CONTENTS:” MORE ON THE FIFTH COLUMN IN THE STALIN SOCIETY” Compass 116 (Communist League)

(7) What does broad Front Work Mean? It means that DESPITE differences on other question – agreed to ends and principles of the BROAD FRONT – are the only basis for assessing WHO can JOIN the broad front:

“THE TACTICS OF BROAD FRONT WORK

A broad front is an organisation of people who agree to campaign on the objective of the broad front, in spite of differences they may have on other questions. The Stalin Society is a broad front organisation of people who agree that Stalin was a great Marxist-Leninist and who agree to campaign in defence of Stalin in spite of differences they may have on other questions. Members of a broad front who genuinely support its aims naturally work to expand its membership and influence as widely as possible. On the other hand, fifth columnists within the broad front, who wish to sabotage its aims, generally act under the cloak of pseudo-leftism, striving to erect sectarian barriers within the front on questions other than those embodied in the aims of the broad front. Over two years ago, Kamal Majid, husband of the present Secretary of the Stalin Society, Cathie Majid — speaking at a conference in the name of the Stalin Society — said:

“The Stalin Society is open to everyone. But of course we don’t expect you to come in without criticising yourselves. . . . Trotskyists, Khrushchevites or Brezhnevites . . . have to criticise themselves first. They have to criticise their past, and then we will accept them as . . . members of the Stalin Society”.

(Kamal Majid: Statement in Name of Stalin Society at International Marxist Convention, May 1992).

This declaration, like so many of the Majids’ utterances, is devoid of any truth. At no time has it been the policy of the Stalin Society that people who wish to join the Society must undertake a criticism of their past before they can be accepted as members.

What is the effect of Majid’s false statement?

Most people who now support Stalin, or who will come to support him in the future, have in the past accepted some of the bourgeois, Trotskyist or revisionist slanders about Stalin. Neither the Stalin Society, nor the Marxist-Leninist movement, can be built only from people who have never for a moment been misled by such slanders. To claim, even though falsely, that such people must pass a ‘purification’ test in a manner acceptable to the Majidist fifth column, is to seek to place barriers between the Stalin Society and tens of thousands of honest potential members.

Yet at meeting after meeting of the Stalin Society the Chairman, the Maoist Wilf Dixon, has permitted Kamal Majid to attack the New Communist Party as ‘traitors’.

In May of this year, the General Secretary of the New Communist Party. Eric Trevett, wrote in the party’s paper:

“I accepted the critique of Stalin in the 20th Congress resolution. Now I no longer think endorsement of that resolution justifiable.”

(Eric Trevett: Stastement in ‘New Worker’, 27 May 1994).

The New Communist Party is one of the largest of organisations calling itself Marxist-Leninist, and all who genuinely support the aims of the Stalin Society cannot but welcome this statement. But at the next meeting of the Stalin Society, Kamal Majid declared that this statement made it necessary to attack the New Communist Party harder than ever!

It is clear that the Majidist attacks on the New Communist Party at meetings of the Stalin Society have no relation whatever to the aims of the Society.

The Majids are no young inexperienced novices to the revolutionary movement, and it is clear that in attacking the New Communist Party, they are indulging in conscious sabotage of the Society. The Majidists’ campaign of disruption is, naturally, fully supported by the Maoist speakers invited by the Committee to give talks at the September and November meetings of the Stalin Society.

Adolfo Olaechea said:

“There are some who, 38 years after the 20th Congress, realise that they ‘can no longer continue upholding it’. That is good but hardly sufficient. . . . Such people ought to sit in the dock while the proletariat faces them with all their failures. They must liquidate all their conduct, all their line.”

(Adolfo Olaechea: op. cit.; p. 28).

In their Open Letter on ‘The Stalin Society Dispute’, Ted Talbot and Harry Powell dismiss the case against the Majidist disruptors as, for the most part:

“trivial”;

(Ted Talbot & Harry Powell: ‘The Stalin Society Dispute’; p. 1).

and based on:

“. . . personal animosities.”

(Ted Talbot & Harry Powell: ‘The Stalin Society Dispute’; p. 1).

They accuse our member Bill Bland of:

” . . . an amazingly opportunist statement.”

(Ted Talbot & Harry Powell: ‘The Stalin Society Dispute’; p. 2).’

when he says:

“The point is not whether these statements (the attacks on the New Communist Party — Ed.) are true or false.”

(Bill Bland: ‘The Situation in the Stalin Society’ (January 1994);l p. 3).

Although Talbot and Powell cease their quotation at this point, Bill Bland goes on to say :

“The point is that, even if true, in the context of the Stalin Society, . . . these statements are divisive and disruptive. They weaken and hinder the development of the Stalin Society.”

(Bill Bland: ibid.; p. 3).

Tony Clark, in an undated Open Letter to members of the Stalin Society declares that this policy seeks:

” . . . to place certain organisations and their leaders above criticism.”

(Tony Clark: Open Letter to Members of the Stalin Society; p. 1).

and that the policy:

“is rooted in opportunism.”

(Tony Clark: Open Letter to Members of the Stalin Society; p. 2).

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth than that we wish to place any organisation or individual ‘above criticism’.

We merely maintain that it is wrong and disruptive to permit attacks on members, or potential members, at meetings of the Stalin Society on questions unrelated to the aims of the Society.

It needs no advanced level of Marxism-Leninism to understand that the same statement may be tactically correct in one set of circumstances, but wrong and counter-productive in another set of circumstances.

For example, no one was a more consistent opponent of the treachery of social-democracy than Lenin. At the beginning of 1922, the Communist International, led by Lenin, was striving to organise a conference of the three Internationals:

“. . . for the sake of achieving possible practical unity of direct action on the part of the masses”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: Letter to N. I. Bukharin and G. Y. Zinoviev (February 1922),in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 42; Moscow; 1969; p. 394).

The fifth columnist Grigory Zinoviev, who later confessed to treason against the Soviet state and was executed, wrote a draft resolution on the proposed conference which called social-democratic leaders of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals ‘accomplices of the world bourgeoisie’. While this characterisation was undoubtedly true, Lenin objected to it in the resolution concerned on tactical grounds:

“My chief amendment is aimed at deleting the passage which calls the leaders of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals ‘accomplices of the world bourgeoisie’. You might as well call a man a jackass. It is absolutely unreasonable to risk wrecking an affair of tremendous practical importance for the sake of giving oneself the extra pleasure of scolding scoundrels.”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: Letter to Members of the Politbureau of the CC, RCB (b) (23 February 1922), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 42; Moscow; 1969;p. 400-01).

Again, Marxist-Leninists accept that, as a general principle, it is correct to expose the reactionary role of religion. But an aspiring Marxist-Leninist who intrudes into a Catholic Church during mass shouting: ‘Down with the Pope!’ is not acting in accordance with correct Marxist-Leninist tactics.

In Lenin’s words, during a strike:

” . . . atheist propaganda in such circumstances may be both unnecessary and harmful — not from the philistine fear of scaring away the backward sections. . . . but out of consideration for the real progress of the class struggle, which in the conditions of modern capitalist society will convert Christian workers to Social-Democracy (i.e., Communism — Ed.) and to atheism a hundred times better than bald atheist propaganda. To preach atheism at such a moment and in such circumstances would only be playing into the hands of the priest and the priests, who desire nothing better than that the division of the workers according to their participation in the strike movement should be replaced by their division according to their belief in God.”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion’ (May 1909), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 15; Moscow; 1963; p. 40).”

The Greek Debt Crisis: A Misnomer for the European Imperialist Crisis

Anti-austerity demonstration before the Greek Parliament, July 3, 2015

Anti-austerity demonstration before the Greek Parliament, July 3, 2015

August 2015
Hari Kumar

1. An Introduction to Greece
2. The Truman Doctrine – Greece becomes dependent upon the USA after the Second World War
3. The Greek Junta – Greece by now fully a client state of the USA
4. Capitalist Class of Greece Moves to “Democracy” and Europe
5. The USA Makes Its Move to Become the World Imperialist Leader – The Character of the European Union – from pro-USA states to anti-USA coalition
6. The Greek Economic Crisis 2009-2015
7. The Marxist View of “National Debt” under capitalism
8. The Debt Crisis leads to increasing struggle of the growing Greek working class and gives rise to The United Front of Syriza – the political parties of the left
9. What was the elected programme of Syriza?
10. Elections of 2015 and Negotiations with the Troika
11. Conclusion
APPENDIX: Select Chronology 1975 to 2015

Synopsis:
After the Second World War, Greece was a client state in the Mediterranean of the USA. The revisionist collapse of the Yugoslav communists in the neighbouring state of Yugoslavia was key in this development. Tito’s degeneration into revisionism deprived the minority of the Marxist-Leninist forces in the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) of crucial support. We describe this in a subsequent more detailed article.

This article is restricted to the post Second World War development of Greece, up to the present-day debt crisis. It argues that the entire post-war history of Greece was effectively that of a neo-colonial state serving initially the interests of USA imperialism and British imperialism. The Greek people did not have a non-revisionist proletarian leadership that could develop an independent democratic path. The Junta and the imperialist machinations in Cyprus of the island further retarded the people of Greece. Both Greece and Cyprus – endured military oligarchic dictatorships sponsored by the USA.

The later history of Greece became inextricably entwined with the slow but sure evolution of the European imperialist bloc. This bloc took multiple only slowly coalesced, and eventually it later became the European Community. However during its coming into being, it took several class forms. The post-Marshall Plan in Europe had ushered in a dominant USA which fostered the first steps towards a federal Europe. In its hopes to control the European content as a market, the USA was at first successful. During this period the elements of a united Europe adopted a pro-USA comprador position.

This is also characterised the initial European Economic Union (EEC). But the Euronationlists finally, and haltingly, moved to release Europe to some extent, from the USA embrace. Following the fall of the former Comecon countries, Germany was able to move into a new market itself. This began a new phase. Now the rising German imperialists used their industrial superiority and new market share to re-vitalise their hegemonic ambitions.

Such events were milestones on the road to today’s debacle in Greece. They were the pre-history of the chronic indebtedness of the Greek state.

After the Junta “democratised” itself, Greece swopped the USA master for that of the EU. The EU progressed to be firmly dominated by the unified single unitary state of Germany, where German capitalists became the dominant faction. German capital exported both capital and industrial exports, including… to Greece. Over-riding the total market share of Greece accruing to Germany, are the huge debts of Italy and France to Germany – both at risk of potential default. This underlies the harshness of the German ruling class towards the Greek capitalist representatives in Greece today. Finally, current differences between the International Monetary Fund leader Christine Lagard (representing the USA interests) and the German leaders Angela Merkel and Schauble, show the continuing inter-imperial contradictions. This has engulfed Greece today.

1. An Introduction to Greece

Greece is set in the Eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by the Aegean Sea:

“Greece has more than 2,000 islands, of which about 170 are inhabited; some of the easternmost Aegean islands lie just a few miles off the Turkish coast. The country’s capital is Athens, which expanded rapidly in the second half of the 20th century. Attikí (ancient Greek: Attica), the area around the capital, is now home to about one-third of the country’s entire population.

(http://www.britannica.com/place/Greece)”

In the modern era industrialisation has been slow, leaving Greece dependent upon agriculture, fishing and tourism. The only segment of industry that could be considered substantial is shipbuilding and related industries:

“The manufacturing sector in Greece is weak. …. In the 1960s and ’70s Greek shipowners took advantage of an investment regime that benefited from foreign capital by investing in such sectors as oil refining and shipbuilding. Shipping continues to be a key industrial sector—the merchant fleet being one of the largest in the world—(but) are extremely vulnerable to downturns in international economic activity, as they are principally engaged in carrying cargoes between developing countries.”

(http://www.britannica.com/place/Greece/Demographic-trends#toc26455)

As far as agriculture is concerned, produce is hampered by small peasant holdings, resulting from an early restriction on large land holdings:

“large landowners appeared relatively late (with the annexation of Thessaly in 1881) and only lasted till the agrarian reforms of 1917, which abolished big landed property in Greece irreversibly.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. ‘Capitalism and Dictatorship in Post-war Greece”; New Left Review; I/96, March-April 1976).

In addition dry conditions and poor soil make agriculture at times tenuous.
In recent years the European Community has helped with various grant subsidies. Overfishing has hampered that other resource:

“Greece’s agricultural potential is hampered by poor soil, inadequate levels of “precipitation, a landholding system that has served to increase the number of unproductive smallholdings, and population migration from the countryside to cities and towns. Less than one-third of the land area is cultivable, with the remainder consisting of pasture, scrub, and forest. Only in the plains of Thessalía, Makedonía, and Thráki is cultivation possible on a reasonably large scale. There corn (maize), wheat, barley, sugar beets, peaches, tomatoes, cotton (of which Greece is the only EU producer), and tobacco are grown. Other crops grown in considerable quantities are olives (for olive oil), grapes, melons, potatoes, and oranges, all of which are exported to other EU countries. … Although inefficient, Greek agriculture has benefited substantially from EU subsidies… In general, however, the importance of the agricultural sector to the economy is diminishing…
Greece’s extensive coastline and numerous islands have always supported intensive fishing activity. However, overfishing and the failure to conserve fish stocks properly, a problem throughout the Mediterranean, have reduced the contribution of fishing to the economy.
Greece has few natural resources. Its only substantial mineral deposits are of nonferrous metals, notably bauxite.”

(http://www.britannica.com/place/Greece/Demographic-trends#toc26455) (http://www.britannica.com/place/Greece/Agriculture-forestry-and-fishing)

The early development of modern-day Greek capitalism was that of a merchant capital that weaved itself into the matrix of the Ottoman Empire. Both these traders and arising shipping magnates, were based outside of Greece. Being non-resident they could not transfer easily all their capital resources for later industrialisation needed to keep pace with the rest of the European economies:

“The development of the Greek bourgeoisie must be traced back to the sixteenth century when Greece was under Ottoman rule…. Greek merchants… accumulated vast fortunes and control (over) Balkan trade and most of the Ottoman empire’s commercial transactions with the industrialising West. …..
With the decline of the Ottoman empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Greek bourgeoisie….contributed to the development of Balkan nationalism. It thus played a crucial role in the Greek war of independence against the Turks (1821). For while the Greek peasantry constituted the main revolutionary force in the war, the bourgeoisie and the intellectuals managed to direct this force towards nationalist goals. ….
The first Greek constitutions, for instance, were inspired by the French experience; and although Capo d’Istria and later King Otto tried to implement an absolutist model of government, their efforts were ultimately frustrated.
Of course, it is true that in the nineteenth century the autochthonous merchant class was rather weak. But its counterpart living abroad, the Greek diaspora merchants and ship-owners, with their formidable financial power, greatly influenced the shaping of most institutions in nineteenth-century Greece itself… .. these (Greek) merchant communities.. were flourishing both in colonial centres (Alexandria, Cairo, Khartoum, etc.), in the major capitals of ninteenth- century Europe and in Constantinople and Asia Minor.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. ‘Capitalism and Dictatorship in Post-war Greece”; New Left Review; I/96, March-April 1976).

This large overseas Greek bourgeoisie was already prone to comprador positions. Although it helped transfer some capital to Greece itself, this was largely in the mercantile and finance sectors:

“Although relatively small by international standards, the Greek diaspora bourgeoisie, by exploiting inter-imperialist rivalries and playing the role of intermediary between metropolitan and colonial centres, managed to master formidable financial resources, some of which were channelled into mainland Greece. However, given its cosmopolitan and mercantile character, as well as the weakness of the indigenous bourgeoisie, these resources contributed to the development of a top-heavy state and a parasitic tertiary sector, geared to support a mercantile and finance capital, rather than to the development of industry and agriculture.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. ‘Capitalism and Dictatorship in Post-war Greece”; New Left Review; I/96, March-April 1976).

By the end of the Second World War, the population of Greece can be characterised in the following break-down:

  • A very small working class, of whom the most militant were in the tobacco industry; also some in shipping (often overseas for long periods) and fishing;
  • A substantial number of small to medium petit-bourgeoisie in the urban areas (artisans, small businesses) and an even larger number of small peasants in the rural areas
  • A small but dominant comprador bourgeoisie with significant financial overseas capital – based in the shipping industry and in bank capital – with many connections to foreign traders
  • A much smaller but ambitious section of industrial capital anxious to develop their ‘home’ base of Greek production.

The first two sections of society in particular, had suffered enormous losses and hardships under the Italian-German fascist occupation; and then in the ravages of the Civil War. A good summary of the position of the Greek people following the Second World War can be taken from Enver Hoxha:

“When our people are rebuilding their country which was devastated during the war, when our country is working with all its might to strengthen the people’s democracy and advance on its peaceful and progressive course, Greek monarcho-fascism is employing a thousand and one of the basest methods to inflict harm on our people. You know what a terrible tragedy is occurring in Greece. The unfortunate but heroic Greek people are fighting against monarcho- fascists and the foreign intervention. The progressive and democratic world is profoundly indignant when it sees the great tragedy of that people who deserve to live free and sovereign, but who, unfortunately, are being mercilessly oppressed and killed by collaborators of Italo-German fascism who are now under the direct orders of Anglo-American reaction.”

(Hoxha, Enver; “We Sympathize With the Efforts of the Greek People for Freedom and Democracy.” Speech 3 October 1947; In: “Two Friendly Peoples
Excerpts from the political diary and other documents on Albanian—Greek relations
1941 — 1984”. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin Institute Toronto, 1985; pp. 47-48. http://www.enverhoxha.ru/Archive_of_books/English/enver_hoxha_two_friendly_peoples_eng.pdf

2. The Truman Doctrine – Greece becomes dependent upon the USA after the Second World War

The USA implemented an overall strategy known as ‘The Truman Doctrine’ – to counter the ideological threat of the USSR after the victories led by the Marxist-Leninists had inspired the world proletariat. In the Aegean the Truman Doctrine aimed to:

“Prevent Greece and Turkey from passing under Soviet Control.”

(Woodhouse C.M. “Modern Greece, A Short History”; London 3rd Edition
1984; p. 258).

Both the USA Marshall Plan and the creation of NATO, were tactical instruments of the Truman Doctrine. They were used in Greece to build and develop a modern capitalist state structure. But before they were deployed, first the potential proletarian victory of the Greek Civil War had to be stopped.

While the British General Scopus and his forces had defeated the combined forces of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and their military wing (ELAS), significant distrust remained in the population against British imperialism. So, after the battle of Athens (Dec 3rd 1949) was won by the British, a democratic façade was placed onto the imperialist proceedings. By this stage all leftist opposition had been essentially neutralized and no longer posed any threat to the Greek capitalist class.

When the British imperial chief Winston Churchill understood the degree of Greek popular distrust – he reversed his prior opposition to a plebiscite. The plebiscite following the defeat of left forces enabled the return. The ensuing Plebiscite supported the return of King George II to Greece. (Woodhouse C.M. “Modern Greece” Ibid; p. 254).

The Americans also dropped their previous support of the King, and become “ostentatiously neutral” (Woodhouse C.M Ibid; p. 254) – they tacitly supported the British crushing of the communist forces. Archibishop Damaskinos was appointed a Regent in the King’s stead and General Plasitiras (head of EDS) was appointed Prime Minister and head of government in lieu of George Papandreuou. Papandreuou had previously “approved” the British suppression of the mutiny of 1944 (Woodhouse C.M Ibid; p. 252).

Both the American covert support, and the British repudiation of the King’s intent – enabled the predominantly capitulationist ELAS some pretext to accede to British overlordship. Accordingly ELAS now agreed to the infamous Varizka Agreement of February 1945. Only Aris Veloukhiotis and the Political Committee of National Liberation (PEEA) had resisted Varizka – and these forces were simply hunted down and eliminated.

A succession of shaky governments was capped by the first post-war General Election of March 1946. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) abstained and the Populist party of Constantine Taldaris, formed a government. This election:

“Marked a watershed in Greece’s foreign relations. For the first time the Government of the USA was directly involved in Greek affairs alongside Britain, though occupation in the Allied Mission for observing the Greek elections. It was a first step towards the Truman Doctrine”. (Woodhouse C.M Ibid; p. 257).

The defeat of left and communist forces at Athens had decimated left resistance.
Behind both the King and the Parliament lay the Army, and the most right-wing section of the army – the group known as IDEA (Sacred Bond of Greek Officers):

“After 1949, the ruling class was no longer threatened. … their enemies had been effectively destroyed for a generation.…..
After its victory, the Right imposed a quasi-parliamentary régime on the country: a régime with ‘open’ franchise, but systematic class exclusions. The Communist Party was outlawed and an intricate set of legal and illegal mechanisms of repression institutionalized to exclude left-wing forces from political activity. The job of guaranteeing this régime fell to the agency which created it: the army. The state was nominally headed by the monarchy and political power was supposedly vested in parliament. In reality, however, the army, and more specifically a powerful group of anti-communist officers within it, played the key role in maintaining the whole structurally repressive apparatus… in particular IDEA (Sacred Bond of Greek Officers), which was to play a key role in post-war politics.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. ‘Capitalism and Dictatorship in Post-war Greece”; New Left Review; I/96, March-April 1976).

The Tsildardis government gave way to the more right wing Demetrios Maiximos with General Zervas (Formerly of EEDS) as Minister of Public Order. Brutal repressions of left forces continued despite both international protests and the presence of a United Nations observership. We will examine the Civil war and the Varzika Agreement in detail in a subsequent article.

By October 1948, martial law was imposed. Under this direct attack by the right-wing forces, and the simultaneous Yugoslav revisionist turn and exposure by the Marxist-Leninist Cominform of 1948:

“The rebel leaders admitted defeat by proclaiming a ‘temporary cessation of hostilities’… a caretaker government.. lifting of martial law, .. withdrawal of the British service missions and the renewal of friendly relations with Yugoslavia.”

(Woodhouse C.M Ibid p. 260)

The Greek government joined NATO in 1951, as well as the Council of Europe; and the Security Council of the UN.

Although throughout this period numerous governments based on varying participation of right-wing forces were only able to hold power for brief periods. The National Progressive Union of the Center (EPEK) – led by General Plastiras and Emmanuel Tsouderous held power until displaced by the virulently anti-communist General Papagos leading the Greek Rally:

“The days of Plastiras’ government were clearly numbered when not only the Greek public but also the US authorities became impatient … Under pressure from the US Embassy the government resigned in 1952… (leading) to electoral overwhelming victory for the Greek Rally.”

(Woodhouse C.M Ibid pp.261-263).

Army vicious actions purged all state structures – which was key to the state through the immediate post-War period:

“Military reaction established firm control over the whole of Greek territory and consolidated a system of ‘repressive parliamentarism’ or ‘guided democracy’. This was controlled by a triarchy of throne, army and bourgeois parliament. Within this power bloc it was the army, the victor of the civil war, which played the dominant role.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976)

Industrial Policy of the Greek Capitalists in this Period

For the next 11 years, both the Army (Marshall Papagos) representatives, or parliamentary figures (George Papandreou before the coup and later Constantine Karamanlis) wanted to consolidate the neo-colonial status to the USA. This started with an economy based on agriculture, tourism and a small manufacturing base.

“the country was far from self-sufficient. .. the chief market for tobacco was revived (West Germany).. expenditure of tourists which came to take second place only to agricultural products as a source of foreign exchange. The development of manufacturing industry and mining with indigenous capital, in place of foreign concessions, (was) a healthy trend. But the lack of home produced source of energy was a severe handicap. It remained true that Greece was still dependent upon foreign aid and there was no end to this condition in sight.”

(Woodhouse C.M Ibid p. 267)

Five special features of the Greek state’s path to modernisation, can be seen:

1. The political and organisational strength of the working class and peasantry was weak, having been decimated during the second world war and after by the brutality of the state. The KKE was almost devoid of leadership, with key leaders in exile.
2. The small native capitalist class was out-numbered by the many Greek capitalist who were based overseas (shipping) – and did not have the necessary local capital to invest. Hence the small resident Greek capitalists used the State machinery to develop. This state machinery swelled the size of the bureaucracy who became a large state dependent stratum. They aspired to ‘middle-class’ status but were objectively privileged sections of a growing working class.
3. The state still needed the heavy investment of the overseas imperialists. They first aligned themselves to the USA, and then by the 1970s to Europe.
4. These strategies effectively left Greece a dependent state with the beginnings of large overseas debt.
5. An immiseration – poverty and desperation – of the working peoples, led to increasing emigrations to both the USA, Canada and Europe

After the devastation of the Second World War there had been an impressive return to Greek per-war levels of production:

“The Second World War and the civil war had devastating effects on the Greek economy. For instance, at the end of the Second World War, 9,000 villages and 23 per cent of all buildings had been destroyed. It was partially a sign of the vitality of Greek capitalism that by the middle fifties, pre-war levels of output had been reached again and the economy was growing at a fast rate (the average rate of growth in the fifties was 6 per cent).”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. ‘Capitalism and Dictatorship in Post-war Greece”; New Left Review; I/96, March-April 1976).

However, despite this growth, manufacturing industry remained undeveloped. Nor did the rise of the shipping industry enable Greek capitalists to retain revenues within Greece to more easily enable a home manufacturing base to be built up:

“the Greek economy of the fifties did not manage to overcome a major feature of its underdevelopment: its weak manufacturing sector. Greek capital, whether in its mercantile, industrial or finance form, was unable to orient itself towards the manufacturing sector—especially in those key branches (chemicals, metallurgy) which, through their multiplying effects and their great transformative powers, can contribute most to a rapid growth of the industrial sector”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

“shipping… assumed colossal proportions in the post-war period. …..Greek seamen helped the economy by reducing unemployment and by providing valuable foreign currency through their remittances home. On the other hand, since shipping capital lies outside the effective control of the Greek state (it can always move elsewhere if the state bothers it with heavy taxes or other restrictions), it becomes increasingly an avenue of escape for Greek merchant capital. In this way, if migration robs Greece of its most valuable human resources, shipping plays a similar role with respect to the country’s financial resources..”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

“Greece’s age-old specialization within the inter- national economy had gradually given rise to a spectacular concentration of capital among a handful of shipping magnates, mainly based in London or New York, whose aggregate holdings are widely reckoned to exceed the GNP of Greece.”

(Petras, James. “The Contradictions of Greek Socialism“: New Left Review; I/163, May-June 1987)

In conclusion, Greece did not break out of the strait-jacket of a dependent economy. Despite large state structure support, Greek capitalists did not establish an effective manufacturing base:

“from a ‘under-developed’ economy: i.e. a fast-growing, highly parasitic tertiary sector, a weak and more or less stagnant manufacturing sector with a low labour absorption capacity, and a large but inefficient agricultural sector……Whereas in 1938 manufacturing output amounted to 85·6 per cent of all industrial output, it declined to 79·7 per cent in 1948–9 and to 73 per cent during the 1959–60 period.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

“Thus in the late fifties more than half the labour force was still employed in agriculture, whereas the contribution of the industrial sector to the GNP was only around 25 per cent.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

Correspondingly foreign investors ensured that favourable legislation was passed in 1953, and by the 1960s a large scale influx of foreign capital flowed in. This was concentrated in the heaviest key sectors, and by the mid 60’s the industrial development had qualitatively changed with heavy industry capital making goods predominating:

TABLE 1 Flow of Foreign Capital into Greece (Dollars)

1960 11,683,700
1961 13,509,809
1962 16,764,758
1963 50,026,290
1964 59,716,887
1965 111,596,368
1966 157,606,242
1967 32,265,000
1969 64,000,000
1970 70,000,000

By the end of 1973, foreign capital invested in Greece had risen to a total of approximately $725 million…. not very impressive if one takes into account that in a single year (1969) $2,504 million went to the gross formation of fixed capital in the Greek economy.

Nevertheless, as foreign capital was mainly directed to-wards the key manufacturing sectors, its impact on the economy was much greater than its relatively small size would suggest. In fact, especially during and after the years 1962–3, when the metallurgical, chemical and metal construction industries experienced a great boost due to foreign investments, one can speak of a qualitative break in the growth of Greek industry. Not only did the industrial sector start expanding at a much faster rate, but there was an important shift in investment from light consumer goods to capital goods and durables.

Whereas in the period 1948–50 light industry represented 77·5 per cent of total manufacturing output, its share went down to 60·9 per cent in 1963–70.31 This important shift is clearly reflected in the changing structure of the Greek export trade.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

Correspondingly, there was shift away from agriculture in the economy. And by the 1970s the economy had become qualitatively industrialised:

“In 1960 agricultural products constituted 80 per cent of the country’s exports, but this figure went down to 54 per cent in 1966 and to 42 per cent in 1971, as Greece was more able to export industrial goods. … Despite the dramatic decrease of the agricultural population during the fifties and sixties, the agrarian structure does not show any signs of basic change: there is no marked tendency towards land concentration or the emergence of large-scale capitalist enterprises in agriculture.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

There was a major qualitative change by the 60s, towards industrial development. But it did not eliminate ‘under-development’:

“Thus the sixties saw a qualitative advance in the industrialization of modern Greece. There can be little doubt that the ability of the Greek economy to reap the benefits from concentrated foreign investment in manufacturing was due to its own pre-existing capitalist development. This was not able to generate a significant industrial sector autonomously, but it could adapt itself to, and consolidate one with exceptional rapidity. Yet this type of capitalist development not only failed to eliminate some fundamental aspects of Greek under-development, but on the contrary accentuated them, creating disruptions and dislocations which are directly relevant to an understanding of developments in the political superstructure.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

There ensued an enormous state monopoly centralized economy in the industrial sector:

“The intrusion of foreign capital, in close collaboration with Greek capital and the Greek state, reinforced the already impressive degree of capital concentration in the economy. A first rough intimation of this is conveyed by the enormous size (in terms of assets) of such giants as ESSO-Pappas or Pechiney, or the fact that out of the 200 largest companies in terms of fixed capital, seventeen were fully foreign-owned and in another thirty-nine foreign capital had a degree of participation varying from 10 to 90 per cent. As the share of foreign capital in the GNP steadily increased (from 2·15 per cent in 1962 to 8·15 per cent in 1972), the monopolistic tendencies of the Greek economy were markedly accentuated. If in the fifties monopoly or oligopoly were due mainly to indiscriminate and nepotistic state protectionism, in the sixties they were due rather to the capital intensive nature of the new industries and the small size of the Greek market.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

But the working class was still small. This is reflected in the predominance of small artisanal or petit-bourgeois production:

“This impressive concentration of industrial capital did not eliminate the plethora of small industrial units, which for the most part have a family-oriented, artisanal character. Indeed, one of the most striking characteristics of Greek industry is the persistence, especially in the more traditional sectors of the economy (footwear, clothing, leather, wood products), of small, low-productivity units side by side with large firms that exercise a quasi-monopolistic control of the market. The extent to which small firms persisted in the Greek manufacturing sector can be seen by the fact that whereas in 1930 93·2 per cent of manufacturing establishments were employing fewer than five persons, by 1958 this percentage had only gone down to 84·9 per cent. In 1958 the percentage of firms employing more than twenty persons was 2·1 per cent.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

The working class and peasantry of Greece became progressively more squeezed:

“Gross per capita in- come, approximately $500 at the beginning of the sixties, had reached the $1,000 level by the end of the decade.38 But the few rough calculations which have been made in the absence of complete data leave us in no doubt as to the inequities which disfigure this spectacular gain. For instance, according to a relatively recent estimate, 40
per cent of the lowest income groups receive 9·5 per cent of the national income (after deduction of taxes and social security benefits), whereas the 17 per cent in the top income brackets receive 58 per cent. From 1954 to 1966, when the national income approximately doubled, profits tripled (banking profits between 1966 and 1971 quadrupled).
Obviously, as the relative share of big capital increases, the relative share of all other income decreases. Those engaged in agriculture are, as usual, the worst off. Thus in 1951 agricultural income amounted to 83·3 per cent of the average national income; the proportion dropped to 60·3 per cent in 1962 and 51·1 per cent in 1971… in 1950 independent cultivators and their working family-members constituted 92·39 per cent of the agricultural labour force.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

In summary, there was an unusual dual character to the industrial landscape in Greece. It was one of a state sponsored heavy industry tied into foreign capital, while the petit-bourgeois remained very active:

“the capitalist mode of production, dominant in the Greek social formation, is linked to the mode of simple commodity production (agriculture, artisanal industry) in such a way as to keep growing continuously at the expense of the latter—neither destroying it completely, nor helping it to develop. And it is precisely here that the most crucial difference lies between the western European and the Greek models of industrialization. The former involved either the destruction of simple commodity production in agriculture and industry, or its articulated incorporation into the capitalist mode of production through a specialization which established a positive complementarity with big industry. As a result, the effects of technical progress, which originated in the dynamic sectors, spread fairly quickly to the rest of the economy, with beneficial consequences for income distribution, the expansion of internal markets and so on. In the Greek social formation, by contrast, capital intensive industrial production has taken an ‘enclave’ form. Despite its rapid growth in the sixties, it has not succeeded in expanding or even transferring its dynamism and high productivity to the backward sectors of the economy. Thus simple commodity production looms large within the Greek economy. It gives a lot (directly and indirectly) to the capitalist mode of production, but takes very little in return—just enough to reproduce itself. As a consequence, inequalities in Greece are much greater than those found in the West. For in addition to the usual inequalities between labour and capital in the sectors where the capitalist mode is dominant, Greece has inequalities resulting from the persistence of vast productivity differentials between ‘modern’ and ‘backward’ sectors of the economy.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

As the Greek countryside was becoming depopulated, many peasants emigrated. This deprived the Right wing forces in the countryside of support. The on-going immiseration-depression of the living standards of the working people led to a resurgence of left support. After some electoral gains of the left, the RIght wing army faction decided to set aside the triarchy of Army, parliamentary forces and Monarchy – and to become the sole power base.

How Cyprus Became the Focus of Imperialism and Heated Up Greek Battles

During this time, the relations between the Greek and Turkish pro-USA client states became strained with the Cyprus crisis. The Cyprus struggle had initially started as a war of liberation against the Ottoman Empire and Turkish oppression. It now pitched a small weak Cypriot national bourgeoisie against both the pro-Greek compradors and the pro-Turk compradors.

“The movement for liberation began under Turkish rule among the Greek Cypriots, who suffered particular oppression, and its main demand was for “Hellenic unity”, for “enosis” (that is, union with Greece). The movement continued to develop under British rule, and with the development of a weak Cypriot national bourgeoisie this class came to lead the liberation struggle. The effective leader of the movement was the Ethnarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Mihail Mouskos — Archbishop Makarios — and embraced two organization
1) the National Organisation for Cypriot Struggle (EOKA), a right-wing body sponsored by the Greek government and led for many years by Greek General Georgios Grivas; and by

2) the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus (AKEL) a body representing more directly the interests of the Cypriot national bourgeoisie, and presenting a left-wing image to appeal to the workers, peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie; it was led by Ezekias Papaioannou.”

(Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain (MLOB) “THE CARVE-UP OF CYPRUS” “Class Against Class”; No.7, 1974. (http://ml-review.ca/aml/MLOB/CYPRUS_Fin.htm)

The fortunes of the Cyprus liberation movement were inextricably tied to the turn of events in Greece. Here the US imperialists held dominant sway:

“By 1966 Greece had become a semi-colony of US imperialism, and this position of dependence was reinforced by the military coup of 1967 which established a military dictatorship in Greece subservient to US imperialism. From now on the demand of the Cypriot national bourgeoisie (represented by the Makarios government) for national independence had the overwhelming 
support of the mass of the Greek Cypriots, while enosis became the demand only of the pro-imperialist Greek Cypriot comprador bourgeoisie.“

(MLOB, “The carve-up of Cyprus” Ibid)

What was the character of the ‘Independent’ state of Cyrus? In reality it was a neo-colony of Britain:

“In December 1959, prior to the granting of “independence”, elections were held for a Provisional President of Cyprus, Makarios stood on a platform of acceptance, with reservations, of the British imperialists’ plan and was elected by a large majority.
Despite the fact that Makarios represented the interests of the Cypriot national bourgeoisie, the British imperialists felt it safe to hand over “power” to a government headed by him by reason of the antagonisms artificially built up between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island, believing that these antagonisms and other “safeguards” could be effective in preventing the Makarios government from taking any steps to end the neo-colonial status of the island.
The “independent” Republic of Cyprus which came into being on August l6th, 1960 was, in reality a neo-colony of British imperialism.”

(MLOB “The carve-up of Cyprus” Ibid)

While Archbishop Makarios was a representative of the Cypriot national bourgeois, he was unwilling to launch a struggle that unleashed the power of the working class and peasantry. Thus he was left to resort to intrigue and maneuvers aimed at “seeking advantage of the contradictions between various powers” (MLOB). However this was ineffective as the USA blocked shipped arms from the USSR.

3. The Greek Junta – Greece by now fully a client state of the USA

As noted, the 1967 Greek military dictatorship was established by a coup backed by the USA. It was precipitated by the increasing working class struggles against the poor economic situation of the neo-colonial state of Greece, whereby:

“US civil aid came to an end in 1962; Greece was admitted as an Associate to the European Economic Community; and partial settlement was reached of Greece’s long-standing indebtedness to creditors in the USA and to private creditors in Britain. In each case the result was to add to the strain on the balance of payments..…. nearly one third of the budget was still devoted to defence… The stringency of the economic state of the country led to a number of ugly demonstrations. Strikes became increasingly frequent..”

Woodhouse C.M Ibid p. 282-283.

The then King, Constantine II was the Commander-in-chief of the army.
That the right wing forces were loosing support became clear from the 1958 electoral gains by left wing party EDA. The right wing section of the army – IDEA – launched the “Pericles” Plan:

“devised for the purpose of neutralizing the communists in case of war, this was used instead by the Right to achieve victory in the 1961 elections.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

This move by the extreme right-wing of the army, prompted George Papandreou
to start “Anendotos” — a “fight against the repressive policies of the Right.” His party was the “Center Union.”

“In the 1964 elections, Papandreou’s Centre Union successfully challenged the electoral dominance of reaction. In the elections of the following year, it further consolidated its position by gaining an unprecedented 53 per cent majority. Meanwhile, a strong left wing emerged within the Centre Union, under the leadership of Papandreou’s son Andreas.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

Although George Papandreou tried to move against IDEA. He also tried to improve some aspects of working peoples lives. Together this prompted the Army and the Monarchy to plot against Center Union by slandering his son Andreas, as a traitor who shared state secrets. An interim coalition government of centrists was formed but fell quickly. Panagiotis Kanellopoulos formed a ‘Service Government’, prior to an election. However, the Army remained determined to sweep away any opposition:

“In 1967, the Greek military seized power in a coup d’état, overthrew the centre right government of Panagiotis Kanellopoulos. It established the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 which became known as the Régime of the Colonels.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Greece

The Colonels did not change the economic direction of Greece, they made it simpler – they suppressed both workers, peasants and small petit-bourgeoisie – in support of the capitalists:

“The colonels, by following the logic of the economic model they had inherited, gave their unlimited support to big capital, foreign and indigenous. They made sure through repression that the ensuing growing inequalities would be accepted unconditionally, without protests or strikes to frighten capital away. After a short period of hesitation… private investment rose again and foreign capital continued its penetration of the Greek economy. The rate of growth soon surpassed pre-dictatorial levels and sustained an impressive acceleration. This achievement was a clear indication of the ‘fit’ between rapid capital accumulation and the dictatorship. Moreover… despite growing inequalities, the standard of living grew steadily during the period of the dictatorship. The colonels brought to fruition a process of dependent industrialization that had started before them. They did not initiate it, they merely pursued it with vigour and consistency.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

Although Mouzelis is sceptical that the USA supported the coup, it most likely they did. Much later on, USA President Clinton – admitted that the USA had backed the Junta:

“When US President Clinton visited Greece in 1999, he obliquely offered what sounded like an apology when talking about a “painful” aspect of their recent history.
“When the junta took over in 1967 here, the United States allowed its interests in prosecuting the Cold War to prevail over its interests — I should say, its obligation — to support democracy, which was, after all, the cause for which we fought the Cold War.” Clinton said in his conciliatory remark,
“It’s important that we acknowledge that.”

Remarks By President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Simitis of Greece to the Government of Greece, Business and Community leaders. Inter-Continental Hotel Athens, Greece – November 20, 1999.
Anti-Revisionism in Greece ‘The Rule of the Colonels’
– the military Junta 1967-1974 https://www.marxists.org/history//erol/greece/junta-note.pdf

But there was never any serious threat to the Parliamentary section of the Triarchy. The working class had simply been resisting the economic pressures.

They had not been organised into a meaningful communist resistance.

The Junta soon became led by George Papadopoulos, who instituted a reign of terror against leftists and communists. The King tried in 1967 to establish himself as a sole dictator, but was rebuffed and fled to exile.

As Prime Minister, Papadopoulos continued a brutal dictatorship overseen by the dreaded Military Service Police (ESA) of Ioannides. The crude overthrow of any democratic norms even led the Council of Europe to demand Greece’s resignation. But:

“The Western Alliance as a whole continued to tolerate the dictatorship, on the grounds that Greece formed an essential part of NATO….. The US went still further.. American policy became one of active support. American and Soviet strategists were engaged in a duel in the eastern Mediterranean. It became even more intense after the ‘Six-Day War’ of June 1967 between Israel and the Arab states… In September 1972, an agreement was signed by which the US Sixth Fleet would enjoy home-port facilities at Piraeus.”

(Woodhouse C.M Ibid pp.298-99)

Repressions continued and provoked even a Mutiny in the Navy in 1973. In an infamous incident, the students at Athens Polytechnic were brutally assaulted in November 1973. Using tanks to suppress a sit-in, more than 20 students died. This allowed Brigadier Ioannidis to seize power for himself, behind a puppet General Grivkas (Woodhouse Ibid p. 305). Formal martial law was again installed.

Ioannidis now also moved to oust Archbishop Makarios from Cyprus in a coup d’etat. Moreover this was coordinated with the imperialists in order to ensure the partition of Cyprus into a ‘Greek” area and a “Turkish” area. Events unfolded as follows:

“The pretext for action was a note from Makarios to Greek President Phaedon Gizikis on July 2nd., demanding the recall of the Greek officers of the National Guard on the grounds that they had been collaborating with EOKA-B (the terrorist Organisation formed by Grivas following his return to Cyprus in 1979 and continuing in existence after Grivas’s death in January 1974) in attempts to assassinate him and overthrow the government. The note set the deadline of July 20th. for compliance with the demand.

So, on July 16th, on the orders of their Greek officers, units of the (Greek Cypriot)–National Guard, in full collaboration with EOKA-B and with the Greek troops stationed on the island, staged a military coup and established a military dictatorship over the part of the island outside the enclaves under the control of the Turkish Cypriot comprador bourgeoisie’s “Transitional Administration”. A new puppet “President” was installed, one Nicos Sampson, a curfew imposed and thousands of supporters of the Makarios government arrested.

The Greek government recognised its puppet regime almost immediately. while the Turkish government threatened that unless the situation in Cyprus were reversed it would order its troops to invade Cyprus under the Treaty of Guarantee.

For four days the US imperialists and their allies in London, not only took no action, they deliberately obstructed the calling of the Security Council of the United Nations which could have taken some action. As Lord Caradon put it bluntly in a letter to the press:

“Due to the deliberate delay of the United States and the United Kingdom, it was not until after the invasion (i.e. of Cyprus by Turkish troops — Ed.) that the Security Council passed any resolution at all.”

(Lord Caradon: Letter to “The Guardian” 11 July 31st, 1974; p. 12).

Meanwhile, Makarios had managed to escape from Cyprus. He was received by the British government with formal, but non-committal, protocol, but the United States government talked with him only in his ecclesiastical capacity”:

“The President (i.e., Makarios — Ed.) had been given the chilly US reception of — in Dr. Kissinger’s terms — ‘a loser’, without hope of a comeback”.
(“The Observer”, July 28th.9 1974; p. 9).

On July 20th., therefore, some thousands of Turkish troops invaded northern Cyprus according to plan, occupying the principal area inhabited by Turkish Cypriots from the port of Kyrenia to the outskirts of the capital, Nicosia.

Later the same day, the US and British imperialists brought the Security Council into action, and it passed a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire on Cyprus. And Greece and Turkey — despite being, according to the world press “on the verge of war” – dutifully obeyed.”

(MLOB; Ibid).

As Woodhouse rightly comments:

“The US was legitimately suspected of having backed Ioannidis”

(Woodhouse Ibid p.305)

4. Capitalist Class of Greece Moves to “democracy” and Europe

The work of the overt and now discredited dictatorship of the generals was done, they had suppressed any internal left opposition. The stage was set for the partition of Cyprus. Now under an international odium, the Colonels “took off their uniforms” – again under pressure again from the USA imperialists. As the MLOB put it:

“The Colonels Take Off Their Uniforms

On July 23rd 1967. The military junta that had exercised a military dictatorship suddenly stepped into the background over the people of Greece since 1967, and announced that they had invited civilian politician Konstantinos Karamanlis to form a civilian Cabinet.

Karamanlis is mainly remembered for his role as Prime Minister in arranging the murder (and its subsequent cover-up) of rival politician Gregori Lambrakis (portrayed in the film “Z“). While in exile in Paris, he was in June 1965 voted into Karamanlis’ party ‘New Democracy’. He was committed for trial by an investigating committee of the Greek Parliament for “bribery, dereliction of duty and maladministration”.

Due to an unfortunate error, the “democratic revolution” in Athens was announced by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger the day before it actually happened. Even the capitalist press was compelled to treat the “revolution” with some cynicism:

“Dr. Kissinger and his emissary Mr. Joseph Sisco have played a key role in promoting governmental change in Gioecell.”

(“The Guardian”, July 24th., 1974; p. 2).

And in fact, little fundamental in Athens seemed to be changed. True, a considerable number of political prisoners were released (a necessary step in order to obtain enough politicians to form a government). But Brigadier-General Dimtrios Ioannides remained in office as head of the hated military police, martial law continued and in his Message to the Nation Karamanlis was careful not to mention the word “democratisation.”

(Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain (MLOB) “THE CARVE-UP OF CYPRUS” “Class Against Class”; No.7, 1974. (http://ml-review.ca/aml/MLOB/CYPRUS_Fin.htm)

Nonetheless Karamanlis did restore the Constitution of 1952 (making it again a monarchy) and released all political prisoners and “legalised the CP for the first time since 1947”. (Woodhouse; Ibid; p. 305). In actual fact he had no real choice as the prior alliance that had formed the Triarchy (Army, right-wing parliamentarians, and Monarchy) had been totally discredited.

“When Constantinos Karamanlis, the grand old man of the Greek Right, stepped into the breech and formed the first post-junta government in 1974, it was immediately apparent that there could be no simple reversion to the old model of repressive parliamentarism… (But) his freshly formed New Democracy party retained and expanded the electoral support that had previously gone to the parties of the Right. But the political discrediting of both the army and the throne—which had, in any case, regarded with suspicion Karamanlis’s sixties project of modernizing the monarchy—left him with little choice but to seek the consolidation of right-wing hegemony through a populist inflection of internal and external policy… Within months of coming to power, the National Unity Government headed by Karamanlis had withdrawn from NATO’s military command structures, legalized the Communist Party for the first time since the civil war, organized relatively free general elections, and called a referendum that produced a 69 per cent majority in favour of the republic. Subsequent trials of junta leaders—in some cases leading to sentences of life imprisonment—underlined the subordination of the officer caste in ‘normal’ political activity…”

(Petras, James. “The Contradictions of Greek Socialism“: New Left Review; I/163, May-June 1987)

By November 1974, elections had elected Karamanlis’ ‘New Democracy’ party. A further plebiscite confirmed a popular rejection of the monarchy. Karamanlis tellingly revealed his government’s objective nature:

“Karamanlis once remarked that he was himself the Americans’ only friend in Greece, and he dared not admit it.”

(Woodhouse Ibid p. 308).

Where was the economic development of Greece by now?
The hopes of the Greek capitalists had in fact not been fulfilled:

“In Greece… the early seventies already witnessed a rise in the specific weight of food, clothing and construction industries, and in the latter half of the decade manufacturing as a whole was contributing less than fifteen per cent of the annual increase in GDP, while fully three-quarters of GNP growth came from the inflated services sector. Manufacturing exports, given the small size of the internal market, had originally been conceived as one of the principal keys to success, and at first a number of important openings were found in this area. However, the recessionary tides of the seventies, together with the intense competition of low-wage economies precisely in textiles and other such goods, led to a loss of Greece’s market share everywhere except in the Middle East. By 1980, when PASOK was preparing to take over the reins of government, it was possible to talk of an actual tendency of deindustrialization, as the import/export ratio of manufacturing goods had risen to 3.2:1 from 2.5:1 in 1974.”

(Petras, James. “The Contradictions of Greek Socialism“: New Left Review; I/163, May-June 1987)

While Karamanlis was not anti-American, he was moving Greece towards Europe. Relations with Europe, in order to join the European Economic Community (EEC), became the focus. Karamanlis had spent 15 years as an exile in France, and the French government had sent him back to Greece on a government plane.

On 1 January 1981, Greece joined the EEC becoming its tenth member.
But Karamanlis was struggling to withstand the growing resistance as inflation drove a left shift. The by now openly revisionist Communist party of Greece (KKE) had begun to capture a portion of the electorate:

“At the left end of the spectrum, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) rapidly consolidated a strong position in industry and a ten-per-cent bloc of the electorate”;

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

A new façade to divert the masses was urgently needed. The prior ‘centrist’ party of George Papandreou had been the ‘Centre Union’. After the Junta dissolved itself, this won 20% in the first elections, and supported Karamanlis in government. Consequently it soon disintegrated. George’s son, Andreas Papandreou had been trained as an economist in the USA. He had been instrumental in the pre-Junta parliamentary government, in attempting to curb the most right-wing elements of the Army (IDEA). He had fled into exile after the coup, and from there organised a resistance grouping – Pan-Hellenic Liberation Movement (PAK).

After the Karamanlis return to parliamentary rule, Papandreou organised the
Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). Within 7 years it had won the in the Greek elections of 1981. It was an explicitly social-democratic formation proposing:

“full-scale nationalization and ‘an end to the exploitation of man by man’. …. And an all-round modernization of Greece’s productive system that would bring to the fore hi-tech industries employing local and expatriate skilled labour and producing for internal consumption and export. In foreign policy, Papandreou retained his reputation as an intransigent opponent of NATO and of any Greek involvement in the EEC .. All these themes came together in skillful and insistent propaganda centred on the need for comprehensive change or allaghi.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

By October, Andreas Papandreou was elected into power for the PASOK party.
It is true that early progressive moves were made during its government including early secularisation and improvements in the role of women:

“The more general secularization of Greek society, and the introduction of divorce by consent, civil marriage and equal rights for children born out of wedlock.. the Greek parliament has abolished various repressive laws from the fifties as well as some of the extreme powers given to the police, and although the military has largely remained a world apart, subject to no fundamental restructuring or parliamentary scrutiny, it has been deprived of the means of direct intervention that used to be provided by its own radio station. .. the EAM/ELAS Resistance was officially rehabilitated.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

However PASOK retreated quickly upon attempts to tax urban real estate, and did not try seriously to ever move on this front again. Industry remained at a comparatively low level against other countries of Europe. PASOK did not base itself on the working class, and thus never proposed any resolve to deal with either the Greek capitalists, or the petit-bourgeois small business. Corruption was a real problem and Petras proposes the term ‘kleptocrats’ to describe a stratum of especially corrupt business:

“Most of the ‘industrialists’ continued to accumulate wealth by borrowing huge amounts of capital from the state banks, investing a fraction and diverting the rest to overseas bank accounts. The debt/ capital-investment ratio remained one of the highest in the world because industry was directed not by the usual kind of entrepreneur but by a highly distinctive stratum of kleptocrats. Agriculture too suffered from underinvestment, irrational and costly marketing systems, with a multiplicity of small farms divorced from organized credits or from productive systems capable of providing cheap inputs or processing outputs.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

The preponderance of petit-bourgeois ownership of small businesses had bred its brand of tax evasion and corruption:

“In Greece, …the pervasiveness of petty-bourgeois ideology and the ability of the non-productive classes to evade taxes and acquire multiple sources of income. Until Greek society recognizes the working class as its most valuable asset in the drive for industrialization, it will be doomed to stagnation and crisis.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

PASOK would not move against the capitalist class. Instead it resorted to short term loans to head off worker and petit bourgeois discontent. PASOK rule led to inflation and the start of the debt. At the same time debt increased. Meanwhile
The financial sectors were bolstered whilst manufacturing was neglected:

“PASOK’s early spending spree… increase(d) the consumption of nearly all sections of the population without creating any new industrial capacity to meet that demand. The government raised wage income, partially offsetting the inflationary erosion in Karamanlis’s final two years; private capital responded by slowing investment to the merest trickle. Exports stagnated, while imports mushroomed and invisible earnings (the mainstay of the external sector) began a sharp decline. To secure the populist compromise the regime had turned to foreign loans, fiscal deficits and EEC subsidies; ….

Public sector borrowing soared from 12–1 per cent of GDP in 1983 to 17–1 per cent in 1985, without having any effect on domestic output; and particularly in the run-up to the June 1985 elections it was increasingly used to finance current expenditures, which rose from 39 per cent of GDP in 1984 to 41 percent in 1985. As one study has noted:

‘The fastest-growing category was employment in services, almost exclusively led by continuing substantial increases at around 3 per cent per annum in employment in the public sector and in banks . . . In the three years to 1985 employment in manufacturing declined by around 2–1 per cent.’ Table Two (below) sets out the still sharper fall in output during
the first PASOK term.

Table 2: Greek Industry, 1981–1984: 1970 =100

                                         1981 1982 1983 1984
Consumer goods 195     191      188      192
Capital goods        180     163      167      172
Source: OECD Report on Greece, 1985/86.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

Agriculture also saw falling production:

“Agricultural growth for its first term was as follows:
_1.6, 1981; _2.4, 1982; _6.8, 1983; _6.4, 1984; _0.5, 1985.
The reason for these meagre results was that only a small part of the funds were actually used in agriculture. The remainder were employed to ‘finance consumption, to be redeposited with banks at much higher rates, and to be used for the acquisition of real estate in urban areas.’”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

In fact, while the now infamous external Debt of Greece, became a ballooning problem under PASOK. Petras cites figures from the OECD:

“PASOK has also increased Greece’s role as a subordinate debtor nation beyond the worst period of the old Right… (See Table 3 Below.) The foreign debt stands at 45 per cent of GDP and payments account for close to a quarter of export earnings. Given the phasing- out of EEC balance of payments assistance, commercial borrowing will soon have to increase more than twofold, on terms dictated by the foreign banks: namely, the closure of unprofitable public enterprises; greater freedom for employers to hire and fire workers; tough anti- strike legislation, relaxation of price controls, an expansion of public– private ventures, and an open door to foreign investment.

Table 3:

Greece’s External Debt (in billions of $)
                       1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986
Total Debt         7.9      9.5      10.6   12.3    14.8    17.0”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)”

In fact – all this is very similar to today, and the same demands for ‘austerity’ were raised then by the European banks.

This social-democratic party, now more openly objectively played the role of a pro-European comprador:

“Papandreou .. freely engaged in anti-American rhetoric… contending that the American imperialism was the most serious threat to humanity, Papandreou unnecessarily antagonised Washington.”

(Kofas JV; “Under the Eagle’s Claw – Exceptionalism in Postwar US-Greek Relations”; Westport 2003; p.184)

Meanwhile Papandreou was moving Greece firmly into dependency to the EEC:

“Dependency results from the growing EEC domination of the Greek economy. While the EEC has increased the transfer of loans and grants to Greece, this has been more than offset by the takeover of internal markets and the displacement of Greek manufacturers and farmers. To quote again from the OECD report: ‘Whereas Greek manufacturing output has remained broadly stagnant in the three years to 1985, import volume of manufactures may have risen by roughly one fourth in the same period.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)”

Neither PASOK nor the party New Democracy (Led by Kostas Karamanlis, the nephew of the former President) – differed substantially in their political orientation towards Europe. Both were realigning from the USA to Europe:

“Greece evolved from a client-patron relationship with the US to being an EU member, subordinating its national sovereignty to the community….
With increased competition of the regional economic blocs.. after the Cold War Greece drifted further from the US, because Europe was drifting as it strengthened and expanded its own sphere economically financially, politically, and militarily…”

(Kofas JV; “Under the Eagle’s Claw – Exceptionalism in Postwar US-Greek Relations”; Westport 2003; p.248)

Greece’s leaders also did not appreciate the USA more overtly favouring Turkey as its vassal state of choice in the Aegean and Mediterranean. But in fact, Papandreou was posturing – and perhaps to the populist base that PASOK had bult, that he was ant-USA. After all, Papanadreous signaled to the USA that were better terms given to Greece, that this re-orientation could be re-visited. Correspondingly during the 1984-1985 year, the total US military aid to Greece actually went up (Kofas, p.200 Ibid). Moreover he renewed Greece’s allegiance to NATO, and enabled the US fleet continued facilities.

This hesitation of Greece’s capitalist leader to completely cut the USA off as their pay-master, reflects that of the European powers themselves (see below). The determination of the EEC to sharply diverge, reject its subordinate status and openly challenge the USA, was still to come.

By 1985, PASOK reversed all its earlier progressive steps for workers wages and trade unions. It increased unemployment to doubled its rate (it was now above 10%). It enabled employers to revert to arbitrary practices of hiring and firing, and empowered them to break strikes.

Greece’s path was set by the refusal to tackle the core problem: Refusing an independent path and adopting a pro-European comprador path – just as before it had been a pro-USA comprador path. What did this mean? Essentially it mean chronic indebtedness with no possible release. Warnings that were later to be echoed in 2014 – began to sound:

“Interest payments on the external debt have been undergoing a geometric progression (up from $466 million in 1980 to $1.1 billion in 1984), while exports have fallen from $4.7 billion in 1981 to $4.4 billion in 1984. … Capital flight has increased significantly in the 1980s, as it has done in other indebted rentier states. ….. a positive $15 million balance of payments in 1980 became a negative $312 million in 1984. For these reasons—together with the overwhelming predominance of speculative over entrepreneurial capital—it is clear that the financing of further growth is virtually excluded. Far from inducing the inflow of new resources for development, Greece’s ‘opening to the outside’ or ‘liberalization of the economy’ will facilitate the outflow of resources, thereby deepening underdevelopment. Nor will the device of lowering wages make Greek capital competitive, so long as industrial capital acts principally as a financial intermediary and fails to innovate and invent.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

The details of individual governmental changes up to the 2010 financial crisis in Greece, are beyond the scope of this article. In fact, they do not substantially alter the analysis. The trajectory of Greece was now set. While the political leaders were acting in the interests of the dependent capitalists (in essence all of Greek capital) – the compact with foreign imperialism would ensure the Greece crisis became a financial chain-reaction.

We must briefly examine the politics of the European coalition at this point.

The Appendix carries a detailed chronology describing the history of Greece from 1981 up to 2010.

5. The USA Moves to Become the World Imperialist Leader – The Character of the European Union – from pro-USA states to anti-USA coalition

Moving to a meaningful trans-national coalition of European capitalist states – took several steps and forms. The coalition morphed from a post-war Europe wish to re-build, through to the European Economic Community (EEC) and then to the European Union (EU):

“The Community’s initial aim was to bring about economic integration, including a common market and customs union, among its six founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. It gained a common set of institutions along with the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) as one of the European Communities under the 1965 Merger Treaty (Treaty of Brussels). In 1993, a complete single market was achieved allowing for the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people within the EEC…

Upon the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, the EEC was renamed the European Community to reflect that it covered a wider range than economic policy. This was also when the three European Communities, including the EC, were collectively made to constitute the first of the three pillars of the European Union, which the treaty also founded. The EC existed in this form until it was abolished by the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon, which incorporated the EC’s institutions into the EU’s wider framework and provided that the EU would “replace and succeed the European Community.”

(Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Economic_Community)

Through these steps, the class alliances of the countries of the European alliance changed in its essential character.

Immediately post-Second World War, the European countries, were formed into a pro-USA formation. However over time they became anxious to attain autonomy from the USA. This fight-back reached a climax after the USA launched its financial attack in launching the Dollar Hegemony in the Plaza Agreement of Richard Nixon in August 1971. This act finally precipitated the formation of the Eurozone. This section traces the course of the changing class character of Europe in the post-Second World War decades.

At the end of the Second World War, the USA planned to rebuild European capitalism through the USA Marshall Plan for its own ends. This was facilitated by the fact that the Second World War had physically devastated Europe, and that many countries were in debt to the USA. Britain, for example was now completely beholden to its major competitor – the USA:

“When sales of foreign investments and of gold and dollars are added in, the net change on capital account between the outbreak of war and the end of 1945 amounted to no less than Pounds Sterling 4,700 million. The United Kingdom ended the war with the largest debt in history.”

(A.Cairncross. Years of Recovery, British Economic Policy. 1945-51. London, 1985. p.7). 

American imperialists recognised that Europe needed to be re-built as a bulwark against further socialist upheavals. Especially as the USSR successful battles, had become an inspiration across the world. The USA imperialists – as personified by James Warburg (part owner of the House of Morgan, a controller of USA international finance and industrial and utility trusts) – remarked:

“Germany was the hub of the weak German economy ‘the largest single compact mass of skilled labour on the Continent’, it should be transformed from ‘the present poor-house and plague-center’.. ‘into a powerhouse for a rapid reconstruction of Europe, without letting the powerhouse acquire too broad a permanent franchise and – above all – without letting the powerhouse ever again become an arsenal’…. ‘The Westward thrusting of communism will not be stopped by an physical frontier. It can be only stopped only a planned, US-Aided reconstruction so liberal and even revolutionary as to meet the challenge on its own grounds, and to strike the meaning from the accusation of American “dollar diplomacy.”

(Van Der Pijl, K. ‘The making of an Atlantic ruling class”; pp. 42-43,146; London 2012).

As time would show, once Europe had been rebuilt as a bulwark, the USA could not restrain European capitalists wanting their own dominance.

In postwar Europe – the Marshall Plan was one of the three trade and economic tactical instruments by which the USA imperialists wished to take advantage of the post-Second World War crippling of the European powers. The other two were the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the creation of the General Agreement of Trades and Tariffs (GATT). The military instrument to back these up was of course the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Marshall Plan was conceived as an anti-communist and anti-nationalist weapon and a means to erode European independence:

“The establishment of American hegemony in the North Atlantic area was directed simultaneously against the spread of planned economy and social revolution beyond the Soviet-controlled area in Europe and against the national, self-contained reconstruction programs pursued by most West European states in the immediate post-war period. These programs in which local Communists parties participated, were judged unsuited for maintaining capitalist rule in the long run. ‘Europe would have been Communistic if it had not been for the Marshall Plan, Marshall Aid administrator Paul Hoffman claimed in February 1950.”

(Van Der Pijl, K. Ibid; p.148-9)

Van Pijil summarises that:

“Through the Marshall offensive, the Pax American was imposed on the economic ruins of the defunct Pax Britannica in Europe.”

(van Pijl Ibid p. 167) .

But the formation of the IMF was another key strand of the USA design.

“Bretton Woods.. Shorthand for the system, designed by the US and Britain, that governed international monetary and economic relations in the decades following the Second World War. … (It was) the launch of the post-war phase of super-dominance of the US and the dollar. .. All member countries pledged themselves to play by an internationally agreed set of rules…these rules were quite strict, and enforced by a new world economic policeman, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Countries had to declare a ‘par value’ – an exchange rate – of their currency in terms of the American dollar and/or gold, and change it only in consultation with the IMF. Various forms of currency manipulation were named … to prevent a return to the competitive devaluations and currency chaos of the 1930s. While countries could keep some controls on movements of capital, they basically undertook gradually to dismantle the wartime systems of exchange and trade controls and to move towards the free convertibility of their currencies… they also pledged themselves to adhere to the rules of the multilateral trades and payments scheme”;

(Dean, Marjorie & Pringle, Robert “The Central Banks”; London 1994 p.75).

In return for this agreement, the USA agreed to take over the position as “lender of last resort” – whereby it would honour those creditors who wished to remove gold in exchange for dollar. It would:

“Submit to discipline by its agreement to convert into gold any dollar balances presented to it by overseas central banks at the fixed price of $35 an ounce. The US was the only country to accept such a gold convertibility obligation and the only one in a position to do so, having ended the war owning about two-fifths of the world’s stock of monetary gold”;

Dean and Pringle; Ibid p. 76.

This in effect took over the dominant position of lender of last resort that the British government had previously held from 1924 to September 1931 (Dean and Pringle Ibid p. 63). The US was anxious to see this agreement effected as it would enable the USA to control international monetary policy:

“In these countries (Ed -ie. those agreeing to join the IMF) national central banks of countries other than the US had little influence on policy decisions. Domestic and economic policy came to be dominated by one objective – the maintenance of the fixed exchange rate against the dollar – and exchange rate policy, was of course entirely a matter for government…. For the most part, a government would respond to an impending payments deficit by tightening fiscal policy (Ed-i.e. dropping the printing of money) or putting up interest rates; and a country with a surplus would ease fiscal policy or lower interest rates. Of the major countries only France resorted regularly to devaluation as way of maintaining its export competitiveness and growth.”

(Dean and Pringle; Ibid p. 76).

This meant that the USA did not need to try to maintain its currency value. All countries had to acquire the dollar; there was no need for the dollar to be defended at any particular rate of exchange. By 1949 the US had acquired 72 % of the world’s gold. The Bretton Woods Proposal had been resisted by Lord Maynard Keynes of Britain, but to no avail. This Agreement eased the post war period for the USA, because all other Central Banks had to have a dollar reserve:

“Making the dollar a reserve currency meant that central bankers round the world had to have dollars. They had to buy dollars in the marketplace which pushed up the price of the dollar up, threatening the parity of the currency with the dollar. Thus they could only buy when the dollar was weak… This suited the US and the US Federal Reserve which could follow a very lax monetary policy to make sure that there were always dollars to go around. It worked wonders for post-war US domestic policy, helping promote the wartime dream of full employment.”

(Bose, Mihir “The Crash” London, 1988. p.135).

The USA was in an unusual position of dominance. It had funded the war for the Western capitalist allies, detonated the Atom bomb thereby showing its military dominance, and had a home base that was unaffected to a large extent by the war. It proceeded to further dictate terms, to ensure its vote in the IMF on decisions, was a veto:

“In order to finance European and other foreign purchases from America, that is to ensure adequate financial resources to sustain US exports, (“world trade”) the US Government had taken the lead in 1944 at Bretton Woods to establish the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Loans were provided by the U.S. Government and US credit markets via the World Bank to European governments, which used them mainly to pay for goods supplied by American exporters. The source of the original loan funds provided by the IMF came from foreign currency and gold subscriptions by the participating nations. America’s subscription amounted to almost $3 billion and entitled it to nearly 30% of the voting power. The member nations agreed that an 80% majority vote would be required for most rulings, thus conceding unique veto power to the US… Europe was fully aware that it was ceding to America the option of determining its own currency values and tariffs. The US was the only nation with sufficient foreign exchange to finance a program of overseas investments, long term financing and foreign aid…”

(Hudson, Michael. Global Fracture, the new international Economic Order. New York, 1977. p.11-12).

Such a ceding of power to the USA was self-evident as any debts to the USA were only made payable in dollars or gold. The Bretton Woods Agreement had after all made the dollar “as good as gold.” The USA actively hoarded gold. Until 1958 and the Korean war the gold stocks of the USA remained exceedingly high, in correspondence with the USA stipulations on repayment). The USA also ensured that the major European powers joined the Gold Pool. This served:

“To ensure that the gold parity of the dollar would be supported by the central banks, the European ones mainly, who would thus have to sell central bank’s stocks of gold as the occasion demanded. The price of gold was kept artificially low at a time when the price of goods was rising. The dollar thus stayed as good as gold and the US was freed from the threat of having to support the gold parity of the dollar by itself, or of seeing gold overtake the dollar as an international reserve instrument which remained a theoretical possibility in the framework of the Bretton Woods Agreement. The US spared no efforts in its campaign to impose and maintain the Gold Standard.”

(Fiit,Yann, Faire, Alexandre, and Vigier, Jean-Pierre; (“The World Economic Crisis, US imperialism at Bay”; London, 1980; p.76.;p.83).

Britain was being firmly eclipsed by the USA as the foremost imperialist. The pivotal point forcing even the most stubborn British imperialists to recognise this, came in the Suez disaster of 1956 (these events were described in “The Gulf war – the USA Imperialists Bid To Recapture World Supremacy” at
http://ml-review.ca/aml/allianceissues/alliance2-gulfwar.htm)

Meanwhile the other European capitalists searched for ways to move into more independence. This was a slow process. The USA continued to exert major obstruction to real independence for some time. Within each of the major European states, some elements were more inclined towards the USA (i.e. compradors – the so-called pro-‘Atlantic’ bourgeoisie), some were more interested in maintaining an independent sovereignty (the so-called ’Euro-nationalists’). These tensions played out over decades, spanning three “waves” of USA offensives:

“Three successive strategies of Atlantic unity .. corresponded to the different offensives periods of American capitalism. The first was Roosevelt’s concept of Atlantic universalism, which derived its specific Atlantic dimension from the American focus of World War Two and the key position of the British Empire in the world America wanted to expand into. The second version of Atlantic unity was the Atlantic Union idea, which surfaced at the time of the Marshall Plan and combined a status quo approach to control of the periphery with a high-pitched Cold War unity against the Soviet Union. The third Atlantic strategy was the Atlantic partnership scheme promulgated by President Kennedy in an attempt to restore unity of purpose to an Atlantic world in which the establishment of a restrictive EEC demonstrated the degree to which Western European capital had emancipated itself from American tutelage and was intent on carving out a sphere-of-interest of its own.”

(Van Der Pijl, K; Ibid; p.xxxiv; London 2012).

The so-called Atlanticists (the comprador bourgeoisie for the USA – a term usually reserved for countries of colonial or semi-colonial status) were largely representatives of finance capital. These were interested in the freedom of shipping capital reserves freely across international boundaries. They are also termed “liberal internationalists” by van der Pijil.

In contrast the “Euro-nationalists” represented industrial capital – and were interested in ensuring reinvestment in and redeveloping a European heavy industrial base. They supported single ‘sovereign’ or independent, state funding of heavy industry and can be termed state monopolists .

As an internal intra-European battle between these two segments of capital occurred, the USA imperialists initially favoured steps to a pan-European supra-national state. Of course this single supra-national state, has still not been achieved. However between 1945-1998 – there were periods where the European Euronationalist capitalist powers waxed and waned, as USA imperialism counter attacked.

Regardless of whose interests it served, the overall tendency was towards a move for unity of the smaller European countries. Only later was directed against the USA hegemony. The class character of the European coalescing would shift form a pro-USA vassal coalition to an anti-USA coalition. Ultimately this would end up being dominated by the German bourgeoisie.

Through this period, the fading British imperialists continued to rely and favour USA imperialism. In fact it was actually Ernest Bevin, British Foreign Secretary who first proposed the NATO alliance:

“The actual initiative to found a North Atlantic military alliance was taken by Ernest Bevin in 1948 following a series of defence treaties between Western European states… Bevin .. in early 1948, urged … formal Atlantic cohesion of a political nature.. to USA Ambassador Lew Douglas.. the treaty establishing the NATO was concluded in April 1949”

(Van Pijl Ibid p. 157).

Early on French imperialism, as represented by General De Gaulle, wished to utilise USA strength to stand against the USA. The early events were summarised as below:

“The war encouraged a proliferation of new schemes for European regional organisation. De Gaulle for instance repeatedly voiced the idea that European unity might be a bulwark against both the Soviet Union and the United States, and comparable arguments were heard in various segments of the German, Italian, and Dutch bourgeoisie Resistances….

Churchill’s proposal for a Council of Europe provides probably the best example of the (Atlanticist) concept of European unity… coupled to Britain’s desire to maintain its special link with the Commonwealth and the United States.. “

(Van Der Pijl, K. Ibid; p26; London 2012).

In contrast:

“The Euronational concept combined a number of state-monopolisitic attributes like a strong emphasis on a “European” economic policy with a distinct rejection of Atlantic unity” ;

(Van Der Pijl, K. Ibid; p26; London 2012).

The first USA steps to infiltrate Europe were actually before the Second World War. In most accounts, Jean Monnet the post-war Finance Minster of France figures prominently:

“Jean Monnet… was perhaps one of the foremost in the European postwar leaders to see the necessity of a coalition of European countries…. As early as 1921 Monnet had advised Eduard Benes: To address the problem of the weakness of Central European economic by establishing a “federation because of the region formed a “natural economic unit.”

(James Laxer. “Inventing Europe”; Toronto, 1991.p. 27).

Later in the Second World War: 


“Writing on behalf of the French Committee of National Liberation, Monnet for the first time advocated the formation of a federation of European states to be established following the conflict..”

(Laxer, Ibid, p. 27).

But Jean Monnet was in reality, a pro-USA comprador. He had spent many years working in banking in the USA and had married a scion of the US ruling classes. Ultimately he saw not a rivalry between the USA and pan-Europe, but a partnership, which later USA President Kennedy was also to espouse (van Pijl p. 29):

“The most important representative of the Atlantic Partnership, or Euramerican concept in France was Jean Monnet. 1962 was Monnet’s year of triumph, in which he thought the partnership of equals between the US and the EEC, by which the Soviet union could be effectively checked, was actually materializing. In Monnet’s view this would entail European military autonomy as well. ‘Equal partnership must also apply to the responsibilities of common defense, it requires amongst other things, the organisation of a European atomic force including Britain and in partnership with the US.”

(Van der Pijl: Ibid; P. 225).

Monnet’s relationship with the USA ruling class representatives of capital was close at even a personal level:

“There is no doubt.. Monnet’s initiatives .. owed much to American encouragement. His decisive advantage was the closeness of his association with the USA political elite.. the Dulles brothers, Acheson, Harriman, McCloy, Ball and Brice and others.. he was to become widely distrusted in his own country because of it..”

(Anderson, Perry. “The New Old World”; London 2009 p.15)

“Monnet’s strength as an architect of integration (i.e. of Europe – ed) did not lie in any particular leverage with European cabinets… but in his direct line to Washington.”

(Anderson, Perry. Ibid; p. 17)

By May 1949, the first concrete post-war steps for uniting Europe into a pro-Atlantic (i.e. pro-USA) bloc led to the Statute of the Council of Europe.

On 9 May 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed to integrate the coal and steel industries of Europe. The Schumann Proposal for the European Iron and Steel Community, was designed to form a competitive market in iron and steel, using substantial public sector capital. Britain refused to join at that stage. By 1958, trade in the ECSC in steel had increased by 157% and steel output by 65% (Laxer, p. 38).

In “Alliance Marxist-Leninist” of October 1992, the Schumann Plan was portrayed as an anti-American move; and Jean Monnet as a Euronationalist. Alliance was incorrect in this analysis. (Alliance Marxist-Leninist ALLIANCE (MARXIST-LENINIST (Number 3, October 1992) “Crisis In Capital And Their Solution – Free Trade And Protectionism In Developed Countries” http://ml-review.ca/aml/AllianceIssues/ALLIANCE3ECONOMICS.html

The reality was far more complex. In fact the USA had argued that the Schumann Plan was of use since:

“Secretary of State Acheson in 1951 estimated that the Schumann Plan was useful.. since it would “pull Germany, certainly Western Germany into economic relationship with Europe. It will tie it in and lay a foundation which will ally fears the Germany might come loose and go off on an independent or pro-Russian policy.”

(van Pijl Ibid p. 157) .

The USA imperialists with their European stooges – and even with the Euro-nationalists – at this stage all continued to agree that Europe needed to unite. The vision of many planners of USA strategy, was akin to that of Paul Hoffman – leading member of the Committee headed by Averell Harriman secretary of Commerce – speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1950:

“We know that there is no possibility of Europe becoming the kind of an economy that will make it a great force of strength in the Atlantic community unless we break down the barriers between those 17 political subdivisions with which we are working… so that you have a single market, or something close to it, in which you will have large-scale manufacturing because you have a large market in which to sell it.”

(Van Pijl Ibid p. 197)

Britain and France after Suez, had to accept that in the immediate future, their only role on the world stage would be as a junior partner to USA imperialism. They threw their lot in with the Americans. The USA used their influence with the British to disrupt attempts at a defence force independent of the US.

But as the USA became ever more hegemonic in Europe, De Gaulle and others turned to resist USA incursion. This was forseen by J.V.Stalin:

“Britain and France .. are imperialist countries.. Can it be assumed that they will endlessly tolerate the present situation in which.. Americans are penetrating into the economies of Britain and France and trying to convert them into adjuncts of the USA economy?

…Would it not be truer to say that capitalist Britain and France will be 
compelled in the end to break from the embrace of the USA and enter into conflict with it in order to secure an independent position and of course high profits?”

(J.V. Stalin, “Economic problems of the Socialism in the USSR”; Moscow, 1952. p. 38).

The loosening of the dependency chains on European nations formed by the credit of the USA Marshall Plan would take several interim steps.

By 1957, the Treaty of Rome was signed which established the European Economic Community (EEC). Consistent with its overall European strategy, the formation of the EEC was supported by the USA. In fact:

Eisenhower (said) .. that the Treaty of Rome would be one of the finest days in the history of the free world, perhaps even more so than winning the war”;

(Anderson; Ibid; p. 18).

There was now a dramatic opening of the European market for financial penetration – to take over European industries, as well as their markets:

“The shift from commercial to financial penetration (ie of Europe – by the USA -ed) was confirmed by the formation of the EEC. The Common Market dramatically changed American prospects for expansion in this respect.“

(Van der Pijil; Ibid, p.193)

In reply to De Gaulle, the USA attempted to weaken the development of the future European Union, by using its stooge the weak British imperialists. Thereupon French General De Gaulle later on vetoed the entry of Great Britain into the EEC for precisely this reason.

By the time of Nixon and Kissinger, the situation had shifted. Now the USA perceived the threat in the now built up European Community:

“(they) started to perceive the potential for a rival great power in Western Europe”;

(Anderson Ibid p. 21).

How had things changed so dramatically? The balance of power between the Euronationalists and the pro-US Atlanticists had changed after the rise of the dollar hegemony. To recap, the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 to stay on a gold convertibility was simply put aside by the USA. By the 1960s, under USA President Johnson, inflation was created by printing more dollars. This enabled the USA to fund the Vietnam War and its limited social reforms of the so-called ‘Great Society” (Dean & Pringle Ibid p.80; Palmer Ibid p.61). This had dire consequences:

“The net result in the succeeding decades was a scale of Federal domestic budget deficit and increasingly, balance of payments deficit without precedent in US history. At first the deficits and consequential outflow of dollars into the world economy had been regarded as benign.. The deficits initially helped to finance the mutual economic recovery of Americans’ allied (and client) economies. But as the outflow of dollars turned into a might flood, American control over banks grew by leaps and bounds, Between 1970 and 1975 the assets of overseas branches of US banks grew from $47 billion to $166 billion. The over-valued US dollar came to be seen as the means by which European industry was being acquired cheaply by US interests… fears were expressed that Western Europe was being turned into a fiefdom of US multinationals.. By the late 1960s the gap between the US dollar’s internal purchasing power and its international value had widened alarmingly. The Europeans were faced with the choice of either accepting these depreciating dollars (and thus, in effect, of subsidizing the American economy and worldwide military and political commitments) or exploiting America’s Bretton Woods commitment to swap dollars for gold at the fixed prices.”

(Palmer Ibid p. 62).

De Gaulle remarked early on, that this was a USA attack using dollarization of the world economy, and warned that:

“The Americans only used the atom device twice on Asia. … but they use the dollar on Europe every day”

(Cited Palmer, John: “Europe without America? The crisis in Atlantic Relations”; Oxford; 1988; p.62)

Essentially the USA was pursuing a policy of financial export to drive acquisition of European industrial and financial companies. Simultaneously it unwittingly began the financialization driving world inflation – from ‘hot money’. European nationalist leaders of many countries objected. As well as De Gaulle, French President Giscard d’Estaing objected:

“It is rather remarkable that the war in Vietnam, a localized conflict of a very special nature involving a great power and a small power could have such a far reaching effects on world economic equilibrium.. Any other country that was faced with a balance-of-payment deficit of this magnitude would have been obliged to take steps to restore balance whereas the US was not obliged to do so; the method of financing its deficit exempted it from having to restore equilibrium and it was therefore a system which caused considerable inequality in the interplay of monetary power…”

(Hudson, Michael, Global Fracture, the new international Economic Order. New York, 1977; p.31).

In another more serious threat to USA hegemony, the German state had become more pro-independent. Earlier leaders (Konrad Ardenauer Chancellor [1949-1962] and Ludwig Erhard [Chancellor 1963-1965]) of post-war West Germany had been resolutely pro-USA. The attitude of later German leaders can be gauged from a remark made by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (Chancellor 1974-1982) when he decried:

“The misuse of the dollar as an instrument of US foreign policy.”

(Cited Palmer John: “Europe without America? The crisis in Atlantic Relations”; Oxford; 1988; p. 10)

This reaction against the USA had its counterpart in Britain in the Westland Helicopter crisis, where Defence Minister Michael Hesletine revolted against Mrs Thatcher. He was soon despatched by the stalwart pro-USA Mrs Thatcher. This was pointed out by the Communist League at the time.

The salient point is that the USA fiscal policies prompted the Euronationalists to move towards the European Monetary System (EMS) and before that the Snake. This then became the European Monetary Union (EMU):

“European Community alarm at the misuse of the dollar’s privileged position in the world currency system encouraged the EEC states to distance themselves in monetary policy from the US in the late 1970’s. President Valery Giscard D’Estaing of France led – despite British opposition – to the creation of … the EMS.. the breakup of the dollar-dominated monetary system also marked the end of the earlier Atlantic consensus enshrined in the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944”;

(Palmer J ibid p. 11).

In Alliance Marxist-Leninist Number 3, 1992, we traced the rise of the European Union and the emerging hegemonic role of the unified single German State – after the disintegration of the Comecon states including former East Germany.

We concluded Alliance 3 by characterising the then inter-imperial rivalries as follows:

The current crisis of capital forces formation of blocs.

The current epoch is one of a disintegration of the power of the USA imperialists and an increase in power of the German and thereby European imperialists and the Japanese imperialists. Each of these competitors strive to create a super trading bloc; within whose borders free trade (or ‘ freer trade’) occurs. Outside of the bloc, protectionism is the policy.

These policies result from the major crisis of over-production that the world is experiencing. The final rupture of the Comecon capitalist block offers the only untapped market; and so the Blocs are trying to extend themselves into the ex-Comecon markets.

In the case of the USA Free Trade Bloc being set up between Mexico, the USA and Canada; the Block is clearly under the domination of the USA. Here there is no effective balance between opposing international imperialism. The differences between the European imperialists do allow for a certain balance; this is not achievable between the USA and Canada; and less so between USA and Mexico.

….. The European Economic Community is more delicately balanced between the competing imperialists. Of the nations within the fold, only Britain (now a junior partner) has significant allegiance to the USA. The others are far more committed to the EEC; even risking domination by Germany.

In the Far East, it is likely that a massive trading bloc between Japan and China is going to make it impossible for many of the Pacific basin nations not to enter an alliance dominated by the Japanese imperialists.

These maneuvers are the first salvoes of the next World War.”

(Alliance 3: Ibid: http://ml-review.ca/aml/AllianceIssues/ALLIANCE3ECONOMICS.html)

We believe that these assessments – overall – remain correct. They are also, consistent with Stalin’s famous prediction that under capitalism competitive wars for markets were inevitable, and that sooner or later – Europe would chafe under USA domination:

“Inevitability of Wars between Capitalist Countries”; Some comrades think that owing to the development of new international conditions since the Second World War, wars between capitalist countries have ceased to be inevitable. These comrades are mistaken. Outwardly everything would seem to be going well; the USA has put Western Europe, Japan, and other capitalist countries on rations; Germany (Western), Britain, France, Italy & Japan have fallen into the clutches of the USA and are meekly obeying its commands. But it would be mistaken to think that things can continue to “go well” for ” all eternity”, that these countries will tolerate the domination and oppression of the United States endlessly, that they will not endeavor to tear loose from American bondage and take the part of independent development.”

(Stalin; ‘Economic Problems of the USSR”: Peking; p.33).

Now in 2015, as we update the picture in 2015, the basic rhythm of inter-imperialist struggle has not changed dramatically but become even more intense. The final crumbling of the ex-Comecon countries postponed the ‘final reckoning’ of the European and USA rivalries. And yet rivalries have sharpened with the entry of China into the leading echelons of imperialist rivalry. In this period:

i) Germany has benefited the most and now become the leading (if not yet quite hegemonic) partner of the imperialist coalition of the EU.

ii) The EU has expanded enormously to now include the so-called Southern fringe (including Greece, Portugal, Spain, with continuing discussion with Turkey); and the ex-Comecon countries.

iii) There has been a renewed attempt of the Russian bourgeoisie led by Putin to recreate its own imperial zone.

iv) China has dramatically enhanced its imperial might and come to near logger-heads with the neighboring Pacific Oceanic states – in particular those nations most tied to the USA (Japan, Philippines).

v) The most advanced of the former under-developed colonised world (Brazil, India) have been organized by the renewed Chinese imperialists into conglomerates that pose increasing challenges to both the USA and EU hegemony. Namely BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and the newly created International Bank.

The still unresolved contradiction at the heart of the European Community

Of course the EU has a major problem: Even now, it is not a unitary state with unitary fiscal policies. Although the leaders of the EU wish to concentrate power against the USA, they are unwilling to cede complete national autonomy to a Supra-European force – (namely the European Union based at Brussels). However while EU leaders can attempt to combine the monetary resources, unless there is a complete political unity – there are centrifugal forces they cannot control. For this would require to be overcome, a single unitary Bank.

This is far from a new realisation. The insoluble contradiction was pointed out by astute economists long ago such as Lord Nicholas Kaldor (1908-1986). Kaldor was a Keynesian, who polemicized against both Milton Friedman and Mrs. Thatcher’s worship of monetarism. He cited Keynes to say:

“Keynes (a pamphlet far ahead of the times and ahead of much of his own future writing on the subject), in which he branded monetary policy as ‘simply a campaign against the standard of life of the working classes’, operating through the ‘deliberate intensification of unemployment . . . by using the weapon of economic necessity against individuals and against particular industries — a policy which the country would never permit if it knew what was being done’.

(J. M. Keynes, The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill (London, 1925), reprinted in the Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes Vol. IX (London, 1972), pp. 207-30; Cited Foreword Second edition; Kaldor, N: The Scourge of Monetarism”; Oxford 1986. https://www.questia.com/read/13674203/the-scourge-of-monetarism

In 1971, Kaldor pointed out that in the proposed Eurozone, there would be a tendency for some countries “to acquire increasing (and unwanted surpluses) in their trade with other members, whilst others face increasing deficits”. This could only be overcome he foresaw, by fuller political union:

“The events of the last few years … have demonstrated that the Community is not viable with its present degree of economic integration. The system presupposes full currency convertibility and fixed exchange rates among the members, whilst leaving monetary and fiscal policy to the discretion of the individual member countries. Under this system, as events have shown, some countries will tend to acquire increasing (and unwanted surpluses) in their trade with other members, whist others face increasing deficits. This has two unwelcome effects. It transmits inflationary pressures emanating from some members to other members; and it causes the surplus countries to provide automatic finance on an increasing scale to the deficit countries.

Since exchange-rate adjustments or “floating rates” between members are held to be incompatible with the basic aim of economic integration (and are incompatible also with the present system of common agricultural prices fixed in international units) the governments of the Six, at their Summit meeting in The Hague in December 1969, agreed in principle to the creation of a full economic and monetary union, and appointed a high-level committee (the so-called “Werner Committee”) to work out a concrete programme of action..”

(Nicholas Kaldor On European Political Union Cited by Ramanan, 6 November 2012; in The Case For Concerted Action Post-Keynesian Ideas For A Crisis That Conventional Remedies Cannot Resolve; at http://www.concertedaction.com/2012/11/06/nicholas-kaldor-on-european-political-union/)

Those planning a momentary union explicitly recognised that in the ultimate “third phase” the “individual central beings (being) would be abolished altogether, or reduced to the state of the old colonial “Currency Boards”:

“The realisation of economic and monetary union, as recommended in the Werner Report, involves three kinds of measures, each introduced in stages: monetary union, tax harmonisation, and central community control over national budgets.  It envisages a three-stage programme, with each stage lasting about three years, so that the whole plan is designed to be brought into operation by 1978-80.

In the monetary field in the first stage the interest and credit policy of each central bank is increasingly brought under common Community surveillance and permitted margins of variations between exchange rates are reduced or eliminated. In the second stage exchange rates are made immutable and “autonomous parity adjustments” are totally excluded. In the third stage the individual central banks are abolished altogether, or reduced to the status of the old colonial “Currency Boards” without any credit creating power.”

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

Other political issues would also pose problems including the harmonisation of tax differences and differing budget polices requiring “fiscal standardisation” between countries:

“In the field of tax harmonisation it is envisaged that each country’s system should be increasingly aligned to that of other countries, and that there should be “fiscal standardisation” to permit the complete abolition of fiscal frontiers, which means not only identical forms but also identical rates of taxation, particularly in regard to the value added tax and excise duties.

In the field of budgetary control the Werner Report says “the essential elements of the whole of the public budgets, and in particular variations in their volume, the size of balances and the methods of financing or utilizing them, will be decided at the Community level.”

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

However, ominously for the proponents of a single currency – responsibilities to have individual country Budgets and tax polices set centrally – were not envisaged as necessary. This was according to Kaldor, “the basic contradiction”:

“What is not envisaged is that the main responsibility for public expenditure and taxation should be transferred from the national Governments to the Community. Each member will continue to be responsible for raising the revenue for its own expenditure (apart from the special taxes which are paid to finance the Community’s own budget but which will remain a relatively small proportion of total public expenditure and mainly serve the purposes of the Agriculture Fund and other development aid).

And herein lies the basic contradiction of the whole plan.”

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

Kaldor argued this had to have harsh implications for inequity in the well-being of the peoples of different countries. It was clear that unless “harmonisation” of country provision of benefits paid through by taxation – was ensured, there would be rising inequity:

“For the Community also envisages that the scale of provision of public services (such as the social services) should be “harmonised” – i.e., that each country should provide such benefits on the same scale as the others and be responsible for financing them by taxation raised from its own citizens. This clearly cannot be done with equal rates of taxation unless all Community members are equally prosperous and increase their prosperity at the same rate as the other members. Otherwise the taxation of the less prosperous and/or the slower-growing countries is bound to be higher (or rise faster) than that of the more prosperous (or faster-growing) areas.”

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

In turn, this rising inequity in the poorer countries would likely need to be countered by spiraling taxes, in order to maintain a “fiscal balance” with the remained of “the Community.” But this would then become the source of “vicious circle” as these higher taxes would lead to a further compromise of the less “competitive” countries. Worsening of the inter-country inequity would need for distributing relief funds from the center:

“The Community will control each member country’s fiscal balance – i.e., it will ensure that each country will raise enough in taxation to prevent it from getting into imbalance with other members on account of its fiscal deficit. To ensure this the taxes in the slow growing areas are bound to be increased faster; this in itself will generate a vicious circle, since with rising taxation they become less competitive and fall behind even more, thereby necessitating higher social expenditures (on unemployment benefits, etc.) and more restrictive fiscal policies. A system on these lines would create rapidly growing inequalities between the different countries, and is bound to break down in a relatively short time. …

This is only another way of saying that the objective of a full monetary and economic union is unattainable without a political union; and the latter pre-supposes fiscal integration, and not just fiscal harmonisation. It requires the creation of a Community Government and Parliament which takes over the responsibility for at least the major part of the expenditure now provided by national governments and finances it by taxes raised at uniform rates throughout the Community. With an integrated system of this kind, the prosperous areas automatically subside the poorer areas; and the areas whose exports are declining obtain automatic relief by paying in less, and receiving more, from the central Exchequer. The cumulative tendencies to progress and decline are thus held in check by a “built-in” fiscal stabiliser which makes the “surplus” areas provide automatic fiscal aid to the “deficit” areas.

(Kaldor, Nicholas “On European Political Union Ibid)

Kaldor concluded that the Community’s present plan was like the house which “divided against itself cannot stand” and that “it was “dangerous error: to have a “full economic and monetary union” preceding a political union”:

“The Community’s present plan on the other hand is like the house which “divided against itself cannot stand.” Monetary union and Community control over budgets will prevent a member country from pursuing full employment policies on its own – from taking steps to offset any sharp decline in the level of its production and employment, but without the benefit of a strong Community government which would shield its inhabitants from its worst consequences.

Some day the nations of Europe may be ready to merge their national identities and create a new European Union – the United States of Europe. If and when they do, a European Government will take over all the functions which the Federal government now provides in the U.S., or in Canada or Australia. This will involve the creation of a “full economic and monetary union”. But it is a dangerous error to believe that monetary and economic union can precede a political union or that it will act (in the words of the Werner report) “as a leaven for the evolvement of a political union which in the long run it will in any case be unable to do without”. For if the creation of a monetary union and Community control over national budgets generates pressures which lead to a breakdown of the whole system it will prevent the development of a political union, not promote it.”

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

We believe that the current crisis in Greece, fully confirms these warning. However Kaldor being a representative of the ruling capitalist class in Britain, could hardly envisage a political solution of benefit to the goals of achieving a socialist Europe. It is in this backdrop, that the Greek Crisis plays out.

6. The Greek Economic Crisis 2009-2015 – How did it get to this stage?

Throughout the turn towards Europe, the ruling class of Greece faced the hostility of the Greek working class and the rural small peasants. Nonetheless the ruling class allied itself firmly to the European imperialist bloc of the European Union (Previously the EEC). To recap: the Greek state opened the doors to foreign debt. From the viewpoint of a small capitalist class, who were not about to enter a left policy – there was no alternative. In doing so they also built a bureaucratic state machine, packed with protégés of the states. In addition the overwhelming strength of petit-bourgeois production – combined to allow a nepotistic and corrupt state. In this period, the Greek capitalist economy did not do very well.

In reality profits for the leading elite of the Greek capitalist class were immense. While the international financial capitalists are a giant leech on the back of the people, the main enemy of working people, remains the Greek capitalist class.

A common complaint from European bankers is that the Greek people are lazy and inherently corrupt. This propaganda has found resonance in otherwise progressive and people – who are themselves hard-pressed by capital. It is therefore important to refute the slander on “the lazy Greek people” – and attach the charge of laziness and parasitism to where it belongs – to the ruling capitalist class of Greece. The propaganda often cites the “lax tax laws” and the ‘pampered pension clauses’. Let us examine these aspects first.

i) Tax and Pensions in Greece

The capitalist class structured the tax system to its advantage, and also enabled the petit-bourgeois:

“Greek taxation is a mess (there are six different bands and the wealthiest band of shipping is often referred to as a “tax-free zone”) and over 133 separate pension funds.” Buchanan, Rose T; “Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess”; The Independent 4 July 2015; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/greece-debt-crisis-explainer-a-history-of-how-the-country-landed-itself-in-such-a-mess-10365798.html

“Data from one of Greece’s ten largest banks, (allowed) economists Nikolaos Artavanis, Adair Morse and Margarita Tsoutsoura..to (estimate lost tax revenue)…. The economists’ conservatively estimate that in 2009 some €28 billion in income went unreported. Taxed at 40%, that equates to €11.2 billion — nearly a third of Greece’s budget deficit.
Why hasn’t Greece done more to stop tax evasion? The economists were also able to identify the top tax-evading occupations — doctors and engineers ranked highest — and found they were heavily represented in Parliament”.

“Greeks Hide Tens of Billions From Tax Man”; Wall St Journal 9 July 2012.

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2012/07/09/greeks-hide-tens-of-billions-from-tax-man/?mod=WSJBlog&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wsj%2Feconomics%2Ffeed+%28WSJ.com%3A+Real+Time+Economics+Blog%29

The scandal of refusal to take action on the “Lagarde List”, makes the responsibility of the Greek ruling class for the “tax imbroglio” even more clear:

“The Greek government has not completed an investigation of a list of 1,991 persons purported to hold accounts with Swiss bank HSBC that it received in 2010 from former French finance minister Christine Lagarde. Initially, officials claimed at various times to have lost or misplaced the information. On 29 October 2012 the government changed its position saying it would not use stolen information to prosecute suspected offenders. Instead, Greek authorities arrested Kostas Vaxevanis, journalist and editor of the weekly magazine Hot Doc, who published the “Lagarde list.”

The list includes an advisor to former Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras, as well as a former minister and a member of Samaras’ New Democracy political party. The list also contains the names of officials in the finance ministry.
Mr. Vaxevanis said he thought the government had not acted on the list because it included friends of ministers, businessmen and powerful publishers.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_evasion_and_corruption_in_Greece)

ii) Pensions

First if examined by unadjusted numbers it does appear that the Greek pension system is the most expensive in the OECD countries. We follow the Wall Street Journal analysis of February 2015 (Dalton, Matthew: “Greece’s Pension System Isn’t That Generous After All”; February 27 2015; http://blogs.wsj.com/brussels/2015/02/27/greeces-pension-system-isnt-that-generous-after-all/):

Graphs 1-3 on Pensions In Greece
“First, how much does Greece spend as percentage of GDP on pensions? The data from Eurostat looks like this as of 2012, with Greece expenditure easily highest in the eurozone as a percentage of GDP:

Greece2

However – the Wall Street Journal goes on to break this down, first as a percent of GDP and then by the proportion of pensioners over the age of 65 years:

“But part of that is due to the collapse in GDP suffered by Greece during the crisis… look at pension expenditure as a percentage of potential GDP, the level of economic output were eurozone economies running at full capacity:

Greece3

“Greece is still near the top, though it’s not so far from the eurozone average. Moreover, Greece’s high spending is largely the result of bad demographics: 20% of Greeks are over age 65, one of the highest percentages in the eurozone. What if instead you attempt to adjust for that by looking at pension spending per person over 65 (graph below). Adjusting for the fact that Greece has a lot of older people, its pension spending is below the eurozone average.”

Greece4

And finally a large proportion of the population are pensioners over 65 and many households depend on the pension:

“First, demographics. About 20.5% of Greeks are over 65 – behind only Italy and Germany in the EU when it comes to an ageing population. And with the country’s youth unemployment rate still above 50%, its young people are not going to be able to pay for their grandparents pensions any time soon.

Second, Greek society has a dependency on pensioners. One in two households rely on pensions to make ends meet and the country has an old-age dependancy ratio above 30%, which means that for every 100 people of working age in Greece there are 30 people aged 65 or over.

Third, Greek pensions aren’t so generous. About 45% of pensioners receive pensions below what is considered the poverty limit of €665 per month.
Looking at the actual expenditure on beneficiaries, Greece’s figures don’t stand out as exceptional and are instead on par with the EU average.”

(Nardelli, Alberto: “ Unsustainable futures? The Greek pensions dilemma explained“; Guardian, 15 June 2015; at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/15/unsustainable-futures-greece-pensions-dilemma-explained-financial-crisis-default-eurozone)

There is no doubt a large financial burden form the pension schemes – but they provide at an individual level a very modest income:

“What makes the country’s pension system unsustainable is not the specific size of each individual pension, but the overall cost of a grossly inefficient and badly funded system (yes, mainly due to of decades of endemic tax evasion that means as much tax revenue slips through Athens’ fingers as it collects). According to analysis by Macropolis, the average pension in Greece is roughly €700 per month, while the supplementary one is €169.
The same analysis also shows that nearly 90% (€2.07bn) of the total monthly expenditure (€2.35bn) on pensions in March went towards the main pension.
It also reveals that only 0.6% of supplementary pensions were above €500 a month.
For 60% of pensioners the total gross monthly intake is below €800. In addition, many retirees in Greece have already seen their pensions cut. Some by a third, others by nearly 50%.

(Nardelli,; Guardian, 15 June 2015; Ibid)

Moreover, although cutting them might shave off some debt – not only is this unable to repair the basic financial problem of a dependent economy:

“In 2012, pension funds, which were obliged under a law introduced in 1950 by the then king of Greece, Paul I, to keep a minimum of 77% of their assets in government bonds, took an €8.3bn hit following the restructuring of sovereign debt.
Nearly a third of what pension funds have lost since then is due to a fall in contributions on the back of surging unemployment. The unemployment rate is still painfully high (26.6%, while in 2009 it was 9.5%), and nearly eight out of 10 of the country’s jobless have been out of work for 12 months or more.
Any saving brought about by simply purging early retirees’ benefits, cutting supplementary pensions horizontally across the board, or revenue raised by squeezing a drastically depleted pool of taxpayers, would in the short-term allow Greece to unlock the €7bn tranche of bailout funds it needs to carry on servicing its debt (and not default).
However, it would do little to solve the underlying challenges in the longer term.”

(Nardelli,; Guardian, 15 June 2015; Ibid)

Debt and printing money drive Greek Inflation

As discussed in prior sections, the ruling class used inflationary funding to enable it to fool and quieten the working classes. The scale of this is shown below.

“Greece has had a tricky time with its finances. In the 1990s it consistently ran significant budget deficits while using the Drachma. As a result of this economic mismanagement it joined the Euro in 2001, rather than 1999 like many other EU nations.” (Buchanan, Rose T; “Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess”; The Independent 4 July 2015; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/greece-debt-crisis-explainer-a-history-of-how-the-country-landed-itself-in-such-a-mess-10365798.html)

The following Graph 4, from the ‘Michael Roberts Blog,” tracks the inflation to the deflation tipping point, after the debt crisis became evident:

Greece5

(Roberts M; ‘Greece Cannot Escape”; 2nd Nov 2014: https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/greece-cannot-escape/)

However, once it was in the Eurozone, Greece’s government could no longer so easily use inflationary economics to easily boost living standards, as it was bound by the Eurozone and the single currency.

The alternative of devaluing its currency to boost its exports was also not possible. This left only loans. Since it was now the era of financial ‘hot money’ and rampant money-speculation had become standard, this was easy at first, and the inflation graph shows that even the loan-injection money fueled a degree of inflation. But the spigot was soon to be turned off with the Wall Street crash:

“Shortly after joining the single currency, Greece enjoyed a period of growth (2001-2007). However, economist and analysts have retrospectively labeled this boom as “unsustainable,” pointing out that Greece (very broadly speaking) profited off the cheap loans available from the EU. This house of cards came tumbling down with the financial crash of 2008. Like many other countries in the EU Greece was seriously affected, but it was unable to climb out of the hole as it had in the past by printing more currency (thus boosting the economy) as the Euro was controlled by the European Central Bank (ECB). Unemployment spiraled to 28 per cent.”

(Buchanan, Rose T; “Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess”; The Independent 4 July 2015; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/greece-debt-crisis-explainer-a-history-of-how-the-country-landed-itself-in-such-a-mess-10365798.html)

Greece’s relationship to the EU was as a dependent colony to the leading capitalist countries of the EU. These were of course Germany and also France.
International agencies progressively lent Greek governments large amounts of money. Consequently, Greece progressively developed an external debt of gigantic proportions as seen below in the brown/dark red line (Graph 5):

Greece6

What is the nature of these debt burdens that the Greek government faces?
The German locomotive pushing the EU economy – needed markets. The “under-developed” Southern perimeter of the EU was one of the natural “new” markets:

“Economist Paul Krugman wrote in February 2012:

“What we’re basically looking at…is a balance of payments problem, in which capital flooded south after the creation of the euro, leading to overvaluation in southern Europe.”

He continued in June 2015:

“In truth, this has never been a fiscal crisis at its root; it has always been a balance of payments crisis that manifests itself in part in budget problems, which have then been pushed onto the center of the stage by ideology.”

The translation of trade deficits to budget deficits works through sectoral balances. Greece ran current account (trade) deficits averaging 9.1% GDP from 2000–2011. By definition, a trade deficit requires capital inflow (mainly borrowing) to fund; this is referred to as a capital surplus or foreign financial surplus. This can drive higher levels of government budget deficits, if the private sector maintains relatively even amounts of savings and investment, as the three financial sectors (foreign, government, and private) by definition must balance to zero.
While Greece was running a large foreign financial surplus, it funded this by running a large budget deficit. As the inflow of money stopped during the crisis, reducing the foreign financial surplus, Greece was forced to reduce its budget deficit substantially. Countries facing such a sudden reversal in capital flows typically devalue their currencies to resume the inflow of capital; however, Greece cannot do this, and has suffered significant income (GDP) reduction, another form of devaluation.”

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_government-debt_crisis#/media/File:HellenicOeconomy(inCurrentEuros).png)

Lord Kaldor’s warnings about this developing were discussed above.

Who owns this debt?

Graph 6: Current account imbalances in the European Union (1997–2014)

The graph below (from Wikipedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Current_account_imbalances_EN_(3D).svg)
shows that one of the major owners is Germany. In more detail, the ‘Economist Online” of October 2011 described the major ownership of the Greek debt. The main institutions owning the Greek debt are the IMF, the European Central Bank (ECB) and various European governments:

“Greece has total debts of €346.4bn. About a third of this debt is in public hands (34.8% is attributable to the IMF, ECB and European governments), roughly another third is in Greek hands (28.8%, essentially for banks) with the remainder (36.4%) held by non-Greek private investors.
(http://economistonline.muogao.com/2011/10/who-owns-greek-debt.html)

Greece7

And the New York Times Business news cites similar data:

“Almost two-thirds of Greece’s debt, about 200 billion euros, is owed to the eurozone bailout fund or other eurozone countries. Greece does not have to make any payments on that debt until 2023”. (Editor: Graph 7: below graphically displays the ownership of the debt.)

Greece8

Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/international/greece-debt-crisis-euro.html?_r=0

During this period, Greece’s finances were monitored by external agencies, largely those who had loaned monies to Greece. These were the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Community (EU) and the European Central Bank (ECB). These formed the so-called Troika. The Troika was to become hated by the Greek peoples as they plunged Greece into major social chaos and forced the living standards of the Greek people down.

As the New York Times comments, in many ways the “crisis” can be considered as a manufactured one as only a portion of debt is coming due in the short term:

“The International Monetary Fund has proposed extending the grace period until mid-century. So while Greece’s total debt is big—as much as double the country’s annual economic output—it might not matter much if the government did not need to make payments for decades to come. By the time the money came due, the Greek economy could have grown enough that the sum no longer seemed daunting.
In the short term, though, Greece has a problem making payments due on loans from the International Monetary Fund and on bonds held by the European Central Bank. Those obligations amount to more than 24 billion euros through the middle of 2018, and it is unlikely that either institution would agree to long delays in repayment.”
Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/international/greece-debt-crisis-euro.html?_r=0

Two additional problems have conspired to make the “original sin” of debt – of even more enormous consequence.
Firstly, quite early on during this crisis, it was clear to the Troika lenders that the Greek government was in trouble in repaying any significant fraction of this debt. However this was ignored. In fact the IMF – despite its own rules and despite the worries about “default” – continued to fuel the fire of debt by giving more loans.

Then secondly, to worsen matters, the Greek government falsified data about the extent of its debt, and was helped by the greed of USA banking capital.

As early as 2004, in its negotiations with the EU, the ruling class of Greece falsified the degree of its debt. Goldman Sachs – the giant stockbroker and trader bank of Wall Street, aided the Greek government in doing this:

“In 2001, Greece was looking for ways to disguise its mounting financial troubles. The Maastricht Treaty required all Eurozone member states to show improvement in their public finances, but Greece was heading in the wrong direction. Then Goldman Sachs came to the rescue, arranging a secret loan of 2.8 billion euros for Greece, disguised as an off-the-books “cross-currency swap”—a complicated transaction in which Greece’s foreign-currency debt was converted into a domestic-currency obligation using a fictitious market exchange rate.

As a result, about 2 percent of Greece’s debt magically disappeared from its national accounts. Christoforos Sardelis, then head of Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency, later described the deal to Bloomberg Business as “a very sexy story between two sinners.” For its services, Goldman received a whopping 600 million euros ($793 million), according to Spyros Papanicolaou, who took over from Sardelis in 2005. That came to about 12 percent of Goldman’s revenue from its giant trading and principal-investments unit in 2001—which posted record sales that year. The unit was run by Blankfein.

Then the deal turned sour. After the 9/11 attacks, bond yields plunged, resulting in a big loss for Greece because of the formula Goldman had used to compute the country’s debt repayments under the swap. By 2005, Greece owed almost double what it had put into the deal, pushing its off-the-books debt from 2.8 billion euros to 5.1 billion. In 2005, the deal was restructured and that 5.1 billion euros in debt locked in. Perhaps not incidentally, Mario Draghi, now head of the European Central Bank and a major player in the current Greek drama, was then managing director of Goldman’s international division.”

(Robert B. Reich ‘How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis”; The Nation16th July 2015; http://www.thenation.com/article/goldmans-greek-gambit/)

Such was the pervasive greed, that of course such ‘creative’ financing’ was standard, as explained by Robert Reich:

“Greece wasn’t the only sinner. Until 2008, European Union accounting rules allowed member nations to manage their debt with so-called off-market rates in swaps, pushed by Goldman and other Wall Street banks. In the late 1990s, J.P.Morgan enabled Italy to hide its debt by swapping currency at a favorable exchange rate, thereby committing Italy to future payments that didn’t appear on its national accounts as future liabilities. But Greece was in the worst shape, and Goldman was the biggest enabler. Undoubtedly, Greece suffers from years of corruption and tax avoidance by its wealthy. But Goldman wasn’t an innocent bystander: It padded its profits by leveraging Greece to the hilt—along with much of the rest of the global economy. Other Wall Street banks did the same. When the bubble burst, all that leveraging pulled the world economy to its knees.”

(Robert B. Reich ‘How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis”; The Nation16th July 2015; http://www.thenation.com/article/goldmans-greek-gambit/)

Of course such greed driven lying enabled the Greek Government to gain more loans. This was of itself a problem since the country was developing intractable recession.

The Crisis heats up and the infamous Troika Memorandum

By 2009, significant fears that Greece would default on its loans prompted alarm. The Troika made moves to yet another loan – this time of $110 billion – but only if there were significant “austerity measures.” Of course this was intended to be an “austerity” for the working classes and not for the ruling classes:

“From late 2009, fears of a sovereign debt crisis developed among investors concerning Greece’s ability to meet its debt obligations due to strong increase in government debt levels. This led to a crisis of confidence, indicated by a widening of bond yield spreads and risk insurance on credit default swaps compared to other countries, most importantly Germany. Downgrading of Greek government debt to junk bonds created alarm in financial markets.

“On 2 May 2010, the Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund agreed on a €110 billion loan for Greece, conditional on the implementation of harsh austerity measures. In October 2011, Eurozone leaders also agreed on a proposal to write off 50% of Greek debt owed to private creditors, increasing the EFSF to about €1 trillion and requiring European banks to achieve 9% capitalization to reduce the risk of contagion to other countries. These austerity measures have proved extremely unpopular with the Greek public, precipitating demonstrations and civil unrest.”

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_government-debt_crisis#/media/File:HellenicOeconomy(inCurrentEuros).png)

It was the collapse of the international financial and banking industries from the USA sub-prime crisis which rapidly became an international financial crisis, that mushroomed the Greek situation into a crisis. Greece had no choice but to reveal a truer picture of its deficit financing to the world’s creditors to seek more credit:

“Greece became the epicenter of Europe’s debt crisis after Wall Street imploded in 2008. With global financial markets still reeling, Greece announced in October 2009 that it had been understating its deficit figures for years, raising alarms about the soundness of Greek finances. Suddenly, Greece was shut out from borrowing in the financial markets. By the spring of 2010, it was veering toward bankruptcy, which threatened to set off a new financial crisis.”

“Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/international/greece-debt-crisis-euro.html?_r=0

Up to around 2011, the loan monies in Greece continued to drive an inflation.
But then a sharp deflation began, as the Troika turned the screw on Greece. The Troika insisted on marked cuts in the living standards of the Greek people the working lass and peasantry. Not the standard of the ruling class of course who has moved its savings out of reach of the Greek state or the Troika. The Troika’s conditions are noted here:

“The so-called troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission — issued the first of two international bailouts for Greece, which would eventually total more than 240 billion euros, or about $264 billion at today’s exchange rates. The bailouts came with conditions. Lenders imposed harsh austerity terms, requiring deep budget cuts and steep tax increases. They also required Greece to overhaul its economy by streamlining the government, ending tax evasion and making Greece an easier place to do business.”

“Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/international/greece-debt-crisis-euro.html?_r=0

Of course the Greek capitalists complied, and drove down and depressed the wage rates of the Greek people:

“It’s true that the crushing of the living standards and wage earnings of Greek households is making Greek industry more ‘competitive’ – labour costs per unit of (falling) production have dropped 30% since 2010 (See Graph 8 below).

Greece9

((Roberts M; ‘Greece Cannot Escape”; 2nd Nov 2014: https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/greece-cannot-escape/)

Again – the burden of ‘austerity’ – was laid only on the working class of Greece:

“When Greece did cut some of its spending, the EU and ECB asked for a reduction in wages rather than a cut in spending. So – for example – while the military budget remains intact, soldiers have seen their wages fall by 40 per cent. Their experience is replicated across other public sector fields – notably in nurses and doctors”. Buchanan, Rose T; “Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess”; The Independent 4 July 2015; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/greece-debt-crisis-explainer-a-history-of-how-the-country-landed-itself-in-such-a-mess-10365798.html

An external – German – research agency found that indeed, it was the poor that had suffered disproportionate cuts as compared to the rich:

“The poorest households in the debt-ridden country lost nearly 86% of their income, while the richest lost only 17-20%.  The tax burden on the poor increased by 337% while the burden on upper-income classes increased by only 9% This is the result of a study that has analyzed 260.000 tax and income data from the years 2008 – 2012.
– The nominal gross income of Greek households decreased by almost a quarter in only four years.
– The wages cuts caused nearly half of the decline.
– The net income fell further by almost 9 percent, because the tax burden was significantly increased
–  While all social classes suffered income losses due to cuts, tax increases and the economic crisis, particularly strongly affected were households of low- and middle-income. This was due to sharp increase in unemployment and tax increases, that were partially regressive.
– The total number of employees in the private sector suffered significantly greater loss of income, and they were more likely to be unemployed than those employed in the public sector.
-From 2009 to 2013 wages and salaries in the private sector declined in several stages at around 19 percent. Among other things, because the minimum wage was lowered and collective bargaining structures were weakened. Employees in the public sector lost around a quarter of their income.

Unemployment & Early Retirement
Unemployment surged from 7.3% in the Q2 2008 to 26.6% in the Q2 2014. among youth aged 15-24, unemployment had an average of 44%.
Early retirement in the Private Sector increased by 14%.
Early retirement in the Public Sector* increased by 48%
The researchers see here a clear link to the austerity policy, that’s is the Greek government managed to fulfill the Troika requirements for smaller public sector. However, this trend caused a burden to the social security funds.
* Much to KTG’s knowledge public servants with 25 years in the public administration rushed to early retirement in 2010 out of fear of further cuts in their wages and consequently to their pension rights.

Taxes
Taxes were greatly increased, but they had a regressive effect.
Since beginning of the austerity, direct taxes increased by nearly 53%, while indirect taxes increased by 22 percent.
The taxation policy has indeed contributed significantly to the consolidation of the public budget, but by doing so the social imbalance was magnified.

Little has been done against tax avoidance and tax evasion, however, the tax base was actually extended “downwards” with the effect that households with low-income and assets were strongly burdened.
Particularly poorer households paid disproportionately more in taxes and the tax burden to lower-income rose by 337%. In comparison, the tax burden to upper-income households rose by only 9%.
In absolute euro amounts, the annual tax burden of many poorer households increased “only” by a few hundred euros. However, with regards to the rapidly declining of incomes and rampant unemployment, this social class was over-burdened with taxes.

The Poor suffered more
On average, the annual income of Greek households before taxes fell from €23,100 euros in 2008 to just below €17,900 euros in 2012. This represents a loss of nearly 23 percent.
The losses were significantly different to each income class with the poorest households to have suffered the biggest losses.
Almost one in three Greek household had to make it through 2012 with an annual income below €7,000”.
(Research of the “German Institute for Macroeconomic Research (IMK) affiliated with the Hans Böckler Foundation”; given blog ‘Keep Talking Greece’; by 20 March 2015; at http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2015/03/20/shocking-austerity-greeces-poor-lost-86-of-income-but-rich-only-17-20/

Both the Greek ruling class and the Troika saw that this squeeze on the poor and working class, was creating such a social upheaval, as to be potentially pre-revolutionary. Yet they were caught, since the alternatives were dismal for the international capitalist. Even the IMF’s own rules were flouted. In 2010 the situation was as follows in Michael Roberts telling:

“The irony is that while austerity in Greece continues to be applied mercilessly, the IMF recently issued a report that concluded that the Troika’s approach was mistaken in imposing severe fiscal retrenchment back in May 2010 when Greece could no longer finance its spending through borrowing in bond markets (http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2013/cr13156.pdf).

Back then, the Troika had three options. First, it could have provided a massive fiscal transfer to the Greek government to tide it over without demanding massive cuts in public spending that eventually led to a fall in Greek real GDP of nearly 20%, unemployment of over 25% and government debt to GDP of 170%, with economic depression likely to continue out to the end of the decade.  Or it could have allowed the Greek government to ‘default’ on its debts to the banks, pension funds and hedge funds and negotiate an ‘orderly haircut’ on those debts.  But the Troika did neither and opted instead for a third way.  It insisted that in return for bailout funds the Greek government meet its obligations in full to all its creditors by switching all its available revenues to paying its debts at the expense of jobs, health, education and other public services.

The Troika insisted on this because it reckoned 1) that austerity would be shortlived and economic growth would quickly return and 2) if the banks and others took a huge hit on their balance sheets from a Greek default it would put European banks in danger of going bust (Greek banks first).  There could be ‘contagion’ if other distressed Eurozone governments also opted not to pay their debts, using Greece as the precedent.  Of course, economic growth has not returned and despite huge efforts on the part of Greek governments to meet fiscal targets through unprecedented austerity, government debt has increased rather than fallen and the economy has nosedived.

Eventually, the Troika had to agree that the private sector took a ‘haircut’ after all, massaged as it was with cash sweeteners and new bonds with high yields.  Now the IMF in its report admits that austerity was too severe and debt ‘restructuring’ should have happened from the beginning.  The IMF, now in its semi-Keynesian mode, tries to put the blame for the failure to do this on the EU leaders and the ECB, which has not made the latter too happy, especially as the current IMF chief, Lagarde was strongly in favour of the austerity plan when she was French finance minister in 2010.

“If Greeks had defaulted back in 2010, that could have led to other defaults and Europe’s banks were in no state to absorb such losses.  As a recent study shows http://www.voxeu.org/article/ez-banking-union-sovereign-virus), German banks were heavily overleveraged back in 2010 and they are not much better even now.  There was no way the German government was going to put German banks in jeopardy and allow the ‘profligate’ Greeks to get a huge handout of German taxpayers money to boot.  No, the Greeks had to pay their debts, just as the Germans had to pay their reparations to the French after 1918, even if it meant Germany was plunged into permanent depression.  Ironically, the Germans did not and have not paid promised billions in reparations to the Greeks after 1945 – something the Greeks are pursuing in negotiations!”

(Michael Roberts Blog: “Greece, the IMF and debt default; 16th June 2013;“https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/greece-the-imf-and-debt-default/)

As noted before, this fueling of the debt by new loans, was against even the principles of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and senior strategists in the IMF warned that the polices of the IMF in regards to Greece were seriously in error, from the year 2010.

As stated above, one underlying reason on insisting that the Greek Government paid its debt fully, was simply the usurer’s wish to ensure that debts owed by Greece to both France and Germany would be honoured. German and French banks had become vulnerable by over-leveraging themselves. (i.e they had loaned so much money that their actual capital holdings were unable to support them if there was a “run” on their deposits). The Eurozone banks had become very vulnerable:

“The Table below shows the degree of ‘domestic leverage’ of the systemically important banks in major Eurozone countries .. in most countries the domestic banking system would not survive a Greek-style ‘haircut’ on public debt. (In March 2012, holders of Greek bonds had to accept a nominal haircut of over 50%, and on a mark-to-market basis the haircut was over 80%. It is apparent that no bank that has a sovereign exposure worth over 100% of its capital would survive such a loss).

Table 4: Domestic sovereign debt leverage (sovereign exposure/capital)

Greece Table

Source: CEPS database. (From Roberts 16 June 2013; “Greece, the IMF and debt default ibid) Michael Roberts Blog: “Greece, the IMF and debt default; 16th June 2013; https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/greece-the-imf-and-debt-default/)

Amazingly, the IMF policy remained unchanged – new loans were issued to Greece – at least up till May 2015:

“Greece’s onerous obligations to the IMF, the European Central Bank and European governments can be traced back to April 2010, when they made a fateful mistake. Instead of allowing Greece to default on its insurmountable debts to private creditors, they chose to lend it the money to pay in full.
At the time, many called for immediately restructuring privately held debt, thus imposing losses on the banks and investors who had lent money to Greece. Among them were several members of the IMF’s board and Karl Otto Pohl, a former president of the Bundesbank and a key architect of the euro. The IMF and European authorities responded that restructuring would cause global financial mayhem. As Pohl candidly noted, that was merely a cover for bailing out German and French banks, which had been among the largest enablers of Greek profligacy.

Ultimately, the authorities’ approach merely replaced one problem with another: IMF and official European loans were used to repay private creditors. Thus, despite a belated restructuring in 2012, Greece’s obligations remain unbearable — only now they are owed almost entirely to official creditors.

Five years after the crisis started, government debt has jumped from 130 percent of gross domestic product to almost 180 percent. Meanwhile, a deep economic slump and deflation have severely impaired the government’s ability to repay.
Almost everyone now agrees that pushing Greece to pay its private creditors was a bad idea. The required fiscal austerity was simply too great, causing the economy to collapse. The IMF acknowledged the error in a 2013 report on Greece. In a recent staff paper, the fund said that when a crisis threatens to spread, it should seek a collective global solution rather than forcing the distressed economy to bear the entire burden. The IMF’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, has warned that more austerity will crush growth.

Oddly, the IMF’s proposed way forward for Greece remains unchanged: Borrow more money (this time from the European authorities) to repay one group of creditors (the IMF) and stay focused on austerity. The fund’s latest projections assume that the government’s budget surplus (other than interest payments) will reach 4.5 percent of GDP, a level of belt-tightening that few governments have ever sustained for any significant period of time.

Following Germany’s lead, IMF officials have placed their faith in so-called structural reforms — changes in labor and other markets that are supposed to improve the Greek economy’s longer-term growth potential. They should know better. The fund’s latest World Economic Outlook throws cold water on the notion that such reforms will address the Greek debt problem in a reliable and timely manner. The most valuable measures encourage research and development and help spur high-technology sectors. All this is to the good, but such gains are irrelevant for the next five years. The priority must be to prevent Greece from sinking deeper into a debt-deflation spiral. Unfortunately, some reforms will actually accelerate the spiral by weakening demand.

On April 9, Greece repaid 450 million euros ($480 million) to the IMF, and must pay another 2 billion in May and June. The IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, has made clear that delays in repayments will not be tolerated.

“I would, certainly for myself, not support it,” she told Bloomberg Television.”

Ashoka Mody; Bloomberg 81 April 21 2015; The IMF’s Big Greek Mistake; http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-21/imf-needs-to-correct-its-big-greek-bailout-mistake

Recall – Lagarde was once the Minister of Finance for France:

Graph number 5 (see above) displays that it is not only Greece in
hock” to Germany, but there are several leading Eurozone states in debt to Germany. In especial note the deficits of France and of Italy.

This is the second reason – at least for German imperialism – on insisting that the Greek Government paid its debt fully.
If the Greeks are allowed to default, what happens to the other loans that are outstanding? It has long been recognised that Germany has been running a huge trade surplus, and it has been under pressure to alleviate this for some time:

“For years, Germany has been running a large current account surplus, meaning that it sells a lot more than it buys. The gap has only grown since the start of the crisis, reaching a new record of 215.3 billion euros ($244 billion) in 2014. Such insufficient German demand weakens world growth, which is why the U.S. Treasury and the International Monetary Fund have long prodded the country to buy more. Even the European Commission has concluded that Germany’s current-account imbalance is “excessive.”

(Ashoka Mody, Bloomberg188 July 17, 2015, ‘Germany, Not Greece, Should Exit the Euro’)

Any lifting of the restrictions upon Greece will lead to repercussions as to what happens to the debts of these other leading countries. It is no doubt, for this reason, that both Italy and France have been trying to ease pressures from Germany, arguing that there must be a debt restructuring.

This fits with the later 2015 U-Turn of Cristine Lagarde and the IMF (Discussed in section 9 below) – who are now at the last moment – urging the German government to reduce the obligations of the Greek government of Tsipras. We believe also, that this U-Turn supports the USA wish to attack the German government’s current rising economic strength.

Moreover, the USA government itself – suffers from an astronomical debt.

7. The Marxist View of ‘National Debt’ under capitalism

What do Marxists and other informed economists make of the notion of a national Debt? Falling into debt of a country – or large institutions – has been a historical feature of the growth of capital. Karl Marx pointed this out in ‘Capital’, saying that the “only part of the so-called national wealth that actually enters the possession of modern people is their national debt.” In full:

“The system of public credit, i.e., of national debts, whose origin we discover in Genoa and Venice as early as the Middle Ages, took possession of Europe generally during the manufacturing period. The colonial system with its maritime trade and commercial wars served as a forcing-house for it. … National debts, i.e., the alienation of the state – whether despotic, constitutional or republican – marked with its stamp the capitalistic era. The only part of the so-called national wealth that actually enters into the collective possessions of modern peoples is their national debt. Hence, as a necessary consequence, the modern doctrine that a nation becomes the richer the more deeply it is in debt. Public credit becomes the credo of capital. And with the rise of national debt-making, want of faith in the national debt takes the place of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which may not be forgiven.

The public debt becomes one of the most powerful levers of primitive accumulation. As with the stroke of an enchanter’s wand, it endows barren money with the power of breeding and thus turns it into capital, without the necessity of its exposing itself to the troubles and risks inseparable from its employment in industry or even in usury. The state creditors actually give nothing away, for the sum lent is transformed into public bonds, easily negotiable, which go on functioning in their hands just as so much hard cash would. But further, apart from the class of lazy annuitants thus created, and from the improvised wealth of the financiers, middlemen between the government and the nation – as also apart from the tax-farmers, merchants, private manufacturers, to whom a good part of every national loan renders the service of a capital fallen from heaven – the national debt has given rise to joint-stock companies, to dealings in negotiable effects of all kinds, and to agiotage, in a word to stock-exchange gambling and the modern bankocracy.

At their birth the great banks, decorated with national titles, were only associations of private speculators, who placed themselves by the side of governments, and, thanks to the privileges they received, were in a position to advance money to the State. Hence the accumulation of the national debt has no more infallible measure than the successive rise in the stock of these banks, whose full development dates from the founding of the Bank of England in 1694. The Bank of England began with lending its money to the Government at 8%; at the same time it was empowered by Parliament to coin money out of the same capital, by lending it again to the public in the form of banknotes. It was allowed to use these notes for discounting bills, making advances on commodities, and for buying the precious metals. It was not long ere this credit-money, made by the bank itself, became. The coin in which the Bank of England made its loans to the State, and paid, on account of the State, the interest on the public debt. It was not enough that the bank gave with one hand and took back more with the other; it remained, even whilst receiving, the eternal creditor of the nation down to the last shilling advanced. Gradually it became inevitably the receptacle of the metallic hoard of the country, and the centre of gravity of all commercial credit. What effect was produced on their contemporaries by the sudden uprising of this brood of bankocrats, financiers, rentiers, brokers, stock-jobbers, &c., is proved by the writings of that time, e.g., by Bolingbroke’s”

(Marx, Karl: Capital Volume One Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist; at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch31.htm)

Not only is “National Debt” crucial for the capitalist, but it was coincident with the ‘credit system’, and this in turn was associated with an international trade of capital (i.e. money) and systems of “modern taxation”:

“With the national debt arose an international credit system, which often conceals one of the sources of primitive accumulation in this or that people. Thus the villainies of the Venetian thieving system formed one of the secret bases of the capital-wealth of Holland to whom Venice in her decadence lent large sums of money. So also was it with Holland and England. By the beginning of the 18th century the Dutch manufactures were far outstripped. Holland had ceased to be the nation preponderant in commerce and industry. One of its main lines of business, therefore, from 1701-1776, is the lending out of enormous amounts of capital, especially to its great rival England. The same thing is going on today between England and the United States. A great deal of capital, which appears today in the United States without any certificate of birth, was yesterday, in England, the capitalised blood of children.”

(Marx, Karl: Capital Volume One Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist; at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch31.htm)

Moreover, Marx points out that governments want loans for “extraordinary expenses”. This is because they do not want to tax the people too heavily lest it anger them. But eventually these loans will need an increase in taxes to pay the loan off. Then a vicious circle begins, where even more loans are needed to off-set the higher taxation burden:

“As the national debt finds its support in the public revenue, which must cover the yearly payments for interest, &c., the modern system of taxation was the necessary complement of the system of national loans. The loans enable the government to meet extraordinary expenses, without the tax-payers feeling it immediately, but they necessitate, as a consequence, increased taxes. On the other hand, the raising of taxation caused by the accumulation of debts contracted one after another, compels the government always to have recourse to new loans for new extraordinary expenses. Modern fiscality, whose pivot is formed by taxes on the most necessary means of subsistence (thereby increasing their price), thus contains within itself the germ of automatic progression. Overtaxation is not an incident, but rather a principle. In Holland, therefore, where this system was first inaugurated, the great patriot, DeWitt, has in his “Maxims” extolled it as the best system for making the wage labourer submissive, frugal, industrious, and overburdened with labour. The destructive influence that it exercises on the condition of the wage labourer concerns us less however, here, than the forcible expropriation, resulting from it, of peasants, artisans, and in a word, all elements of the lower middle class. On this there are not two opinions, even among the bourgeois economists. Its expropriating efficacy is still further heightened by the system of protection, which forms one of its integral parts.

(Marx, Karl: Capital Volume One Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist; at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch31.htm)

What were these “extraordinary expenditures” the state wished to fund? Even bourgeois economists recognise that wars were one key such expenditures:

“The Bank of England was created… explicitly,, to finance wars, in its case the Nine Years War with France which started in 1688……The Bank of France .. having been started with that name in 1800 specifically to satisfy Napoleon’s wartime financial needs”. (Dean and Pringle Ibid; ‘Central banks”; pp38; p. 42).

Modern bourgeois economists have of course long supported the principle of national debts. Maynard Keynes recognised the utility of deficit financing for the capitalist control of the state, as he stated:

“’Loan expenditure.. may .. enrich the community on balance”; ref 31: (Cited Van Der Pijl, K. ‘The making of an Atlantic ruling class”; p.17; London 2012).

While we cannot dwell further on the subject in this article, the amount of the USA current debt is astonishingly large. So there is nothing reprehensible about the Greek Debt per se. What is at issue is an international lack of confidence that the Greek state would be able to pay it back. There is no underlying manufacturing or trading base to support the debt, and will not be. Unless – a complete break with the past – is offered. However thus far, a meaningful solution has never been on offer by the Greek or international merchants of capital, to the Greek working people.

8. The Debt Crisis leads to an increasing struggle of the growing Greek working class and gives rise to the United Front of Syriza – the political parties of the left

By the time of the current era in 2000-2015, the Greek social and class structure had changed dramatically. Despite the absence of a major manufacturing sector, unemployment was rising, and the urban-rural divide was widening – even before the austerity moves of the Troika:

“Greece is still low on competitiveness and this undermines self-sustaining growth, with low employment rates, low R&D, high levels of poverty, especially in rural and remote areas. The Greek economy grew by 0.7 per cent in the 1980s, compared with 2.4 per cent in other EU states. Demographically, the number of over 65-year-olds, set to increase by 30 per cent between 2010 and 2050, with fewer people in employment, will create a massive dependency on social security and health care. Greece has the largest agricultural population in the EU, with a low capacity to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). The collapse of the Soviet Union and opening of markets in the Balkans means that many investors have relocated their activities in neighbouring countries.

Since 2004 there has been a drop in most manufacturing output (textiles, leather goods, paper, office equipment, furniture), steadily constant production of food, beverages, oil, with the only growth in tobacco, chemicals and plastic goods. Therefore, long-term stagnation in manufacturing has led the state to adopt ‘rescue’ interventions or public loans. Shipping and tourism contributes 17 per cent to gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 18 per cent of the working population. The uneven rural/urban divide is particularly acute as some areas, notably the islands and the farming communities, benefited more from Euro-funds for tourism or agridevelopment than others. Athens, in particular has had massive infrastructure developed.”

(Liddle, Joyce. “Regeneration and Economic Development in Greece:
De-industrialisation and Uneven Development “p.340; Local Government Studies; Vol. 35, No. 3, 335–354, June 2009)

Nonetheless, the weight of the working class had risen between 1991 and 2011, as had a class polarisation:

“Based on the Greek Statistic Service data for the fourth trimester of 2011 in comparison to those of 1991 consists in
1. an increase of the bourgeois class (3.4% from 1.4%) and of the rich rural strata (0.6% from 0.3%),
2. a huge decline of the traditional petit-bourgeois class (15.2% from 13.2%), and of the middle rural strata (2.2% from 3%),
3. a small increase of the new petit-bourgeois class (15.2% from 13.2%), due to the increasing demand of their abilities for the achievement of capital profitability, in parallel to an effort of their submission to the most direct capital exploitation and domination,
4. An important increase of the working class (62.2% from 47.5%), and
an important decrease of the poor rural strata (6% from 47.5%).
*In any case, what is clear is the tendency of intensification of class polarisation, which leads to the adoption of a social structure akin to that of other European countries (small number of farmers and of the traditional petit-bourgeois class, stable presence of the new petit-bourgeois class as the executive organizer of the productive process, broader bourgeoisie and heterogeneous uneven but
numerous working class”.

(Eirini Gaitanou. An examination of class structure in Greece, its tendencies of transformation amid the crisis, and its impacts on the organisational forms and structures of the social movement. At: http://www.academia.edu/9400998/An_examination_of_class_structure_in_Greece_its_tendencies_of_transformation_amid_the_crisis_and_its_impacts_on_the_organisational_forms_and_structures_of_the_social_movement).

Under these enormous burdens, the now sizeable working classes of Greece mounted serious struggles to resist “austerity.” The ruling classes struggled to implement their commitments to the EU and the IMF. Consequently a series of short lived coalition governments took power.

“Following the May 2012 legislative election where the New Democracy party became the largest party in the Hellenic Parliament, Samaras, leader of ND, was asked by Greek President Karolos Papoulias to try to form a government. However, after a day of hard negotiations with the other parties in Parliament, Samaras officially announced he was giving up the mandate to form a government. The task passed to Alexis Tsipras, leader of the SYRIZA (the second largest party) who was also unable to form a government. After PASOK also failed to negotiate a successful agreement to form a government, emergency talks with the President ended with a new election being called while Panagiotis Pikrammenos was appointed as Prime Minister in a caretaker government.
Voters once again took to the polls in the widely-watched June 2012 election. New Democracy came out on top in a stronger position with 129 seats, compared to 108 in the May election. On 20 June 2012, Samaras successfully formed a coalition with PASOK (now lead by former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos) and DIMAR. The new government would have a majority of 58, with SYRIZA, Independent Greeks (ANEL), Golden Dawn (XA) and the Communist Party (KKE) comprising the opposition. PASOK and DIMAR chose to take a limited role in Samaras’ Cabinet, being represented by party officials and independent technocrats instead of MPs.”

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonis_Samaras)

We discuss these parties below. The coalition government led by Samaras, proved to be another short lived and contentious government, as it toed the line of Troika conditions. As such it was unable to disguise its nature from the increasingly militant and impoverished working class of Greece.

By the time of the January 2015 elections, the situation had become even more parlous for Greece’s working people:

“Greece saw official unemployment rising up to 27% – and youth unemployment up to 50% – suffered a cumulative contraction of almost 25%, saw a massive reduction in wages and pensions, and witnessed the passage of massive legislation oriented towards privatizations, labor market liberalization, and neoliberal university reform.”

(Panagiotis Sotiris; https://viewpointmag.com/2015/01/28/a-strategy-of-ruptures-ten-theses-on-the-greek-future/)

A more credible “left” bulwark against the masses was necessary for the Greek ruling class. This coincided with a reformation of the Greek left. At this point we must discuss Syriza in more detail.

As seen, PASOK had fallen into rank opportunism and open betrayal of the working class. After ensuing scandals of corruption implicated the leader, Andreas Papandreou, its appeal to the workers and poor of Greece was falling fast:

“The socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and his key associates were under accusation of scandal, which involved party funding from illicit sources and revealed the extensive clientelistic linkages between business interests and politics which had been built up under PASOK’s eight-year rule.”

(Tsakatika, Myrto and Eleftheriou, Costas: “The Radical Left’s Turn towards Civil Society in Greece: One Strategy, Two Paths”; South European Society and Politics, 2013; p.3; http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13608746.2012.757455)

The space on the left had opened up again. Who was there to fill it?
We reprise the main outlines of events, focusing on analyses by Syriza, the revisionist KKE, and the pro-Hoxha Anasintaxi.

After the destruction of many of its cadre after the Battle of Athens in 1949, the KKE slowly reformed, after having adopted some mistaken sectarian paths during the Second World War. The KKE went through several splits, summarized below:

“There have been a series of splits throughout the party’s history, the earliest one being the Trotskyist Organisation of Internationalist Communists of Greece.
In 1956, after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR….
a faction created the Group of Marxist-Leninists of Greece (OMLE), which split from party in 1964, becoming the Organisation of Marxists-Leninists of Greece. In 1968, amidst the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, a relatively big group split from KKE, forming KKE Interior, a Greek Nationalist Communist Party claiming to be directed from within Greece rather than from the Soviet Union.
In 1988 KKE and Greek Left (the former KKE Interior), along with other left parties and organisations, formed the Coalition of the Left and Progress.
Also in 1988, the vast majority of members and officials from Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), the KKE’s youth wing, split to form the New Left Current (NAR), drawing mainly youth in major cities, especially in Thessaloniki.
In the early 2000s, a small group of major party officials such as Mitsos Kostopoulos left the party and formed the Movement for the United in Action Left (KEDA), which in the 2007 legislative election participated in the Coalition of the Radical Left, which was to win the 2015 national elections with a plurality.”

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Greece) and also see Tsakatika, Myrto and Eleftheriou, Costas: “The Radical Left’s Turn towards Civil Society in Greece: One Strategy, Two Paths”; South European Society and Politics, 2013; p.3; http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13608746.2012.757455)

The Marxist Leninist party supporting Hoxha in Greece is ‘Αναρτήθηκε από’ or ‘Anasintaxi Organization’ (reorganization). They are also known as “The Movement for the Reorganization of the Communist Party of Greece 1918–55” – or KKE 1918-55. They characterize the KKE disintegration post-war as follows:

“The old revolutionary KKE, under the leadership of the then General Sceretary Nikos Zachariadis, was the only communist party from a capitalist not to have accepted Krushchevian revisionism. For this reason, it was eliminated by the brutal intervention of the soviet Krushchevian revisionists in 1955-1956 and replaced by the Greek Krushchevian revisionist party (“K”KE), a bourgeois, party of social-democratic type. More than 90% of the party members led by Nikos Zachariadis opposed and fiercely resisted Krushchevian revisionism and many tens of cadres were sent to exile in Siberia including Nikos Zachariadis himself who has murdered by the social-fascist clique of Brezhnev (CPSU) – Florakis (“K”KE) in August of 1973, in Sorgut, Siberia after of 17 years of exile. In 1968, “K”KE was split into two parties: the euro-communist part known as “K”KE (interior) and the Krushchevian-Brezhnevite part known as “K”KE. SYRIZA originates from the first part and, consequently, is a social-democratic and reformist party guided by a right opportunist general line and characterized by petty bourgeois class features”

Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization ‘Some questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015; at http://anasintaxi-en.blogspot.ca/2015/02/some-questions-and-answers-about.html)

The revisionist KKE’s attitude to the European Union is characterised as follows:

“It is important to clarify that, despite its verbal attacks against EU and the Eurozone, “K”KE does not put forward (not even for the sake of demagogy) the question of Greece’s immediate exit neither from the EU nor the Eurozone. In relation to Euro, the leadership of “K”KE has stated: “A solution outside the euro and return to the drachma in the present circumstances would be catastrophic” (30/5/2011), i.e. a position that is similar to the one expressed by the president of the Union of Greek Industrialists (20/3/2012)…: “Europe or chaos” This is also evident in the party’s program that was approved by its last congress). Since some time now, “K”KE has expressed the view that “the term “national dependence” is not applicable in contemporary conditions” (1/2/2005). After the 19th Congress, it has openly adopted Trotskyite positions that mention “imperialist Greece”, “imperialist Second World War” etc and are evident in the “Program” approved in the last party Congress: “the capitalism in Greece is in the imperialist stage of development” (“K”KE Program, p. 12, Athens 2013). Concerning the character of the Second World War it is claimed that: “the problem was not only with KKE but the overall strategy of the international communist movement before and during the Second World War. In 1941, another negative point was added when the correct assessment of the war as imperialist – with respect to both sides of capitalist states – was replaced by the position that it was only anti-fascist” (“Rizospastis,” 21/12/2104)”

Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi OrganizationSome questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015; at http://anasintaxi-en.blogspot.ca/2015/02/some-questions-and-answers-about.html)

As PASOK had been fully exposed, a general disillusion enabled the formation of Synaspismo (Coalition of the Left and Progress) in 1991:

“Synaspismos emerged initially as an electoral coalition at the late 1980s, with the pro-Soviet Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Greek Left, one of the successors of the eurocommunist KKE Interior, as its largest constituents. The Party of Democratic Socialism, a splinter from the Union of the Democratic Centre which occupied a similar position to PASOK, was the largest non-Communist member party.”

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synaspismos).

The many parties of the left are displayed in the diagram below, which helps to show the umbrella nature of the Syriza United front. Beneath the figure itself (at the site “Lenin’s Tomb”) is a potted history of these factions. (Seymour, R. ‘Map of the Greek Radical Left’ February 9, 2015; http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/02/map-of-greek-radical-left.html). However the figure does not explain include the currents of the Marxist-Leninist left. The OMLE was a pro-Maoist party. We further discuss at points, the positions of Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization, the pro-Hoxha Marxist-Leninists. Here we continue to trace the currents of Syriza.

The revisionist KKE joined Synaspismo, which contested three national elections (June 1989, November 1989, 1990). For a period they joined in Government alliances with mainstream centre-right New Democracy, ND under the premiership of Tzannis Tzannetakis. This collaboration was not viewed kindly by the increasingly politicised Greek working class and petit-bourgeois:

“The government’s official purpose was to send the former prime minister to trial and impose a clean-up of the corrupt clientelistic politics of the time… (But) leftist voters did not appreciate the decision of the left parties’ leaderships to engage in government cooperation with the centre-right; moreover, the stated aim of the Tzannetakis government was not achieved: after a long judicial process there was ultimately very little ‘cleaning up’.. the KKE pulled out of the coalition and lost 40 per cent of its cadres after a major party split in the party’s 13th Congress (February 1991). The former coalition was re-established as a unified party… In the first part of the 1990s, the Greek left as a whole was thus delegitimised in the eyes of its traditional electorate, bruised by participation in government with the centre-right and experienced internal strife and extensive demobilisation of party members, while the collapse of the Soviet Union (USSR) added an identity crisis to its woes”. (Tsakatika, and Eleftheriou, Ibid; 2013).

Greece10

The United Front of Synapsimos – or Syn as it is known – tried to appeal to a broad front, and one that explicitly crossed class lines:

“SYN.. in 2001… established a political and electoral alliance with a host of smaller parties, groups and networks of the extra-parliamentary left in the context of the Synaspismo Pizospastikh Aristra (Coalition of the Radical Left [SYRIZA])… SYN was and remained (until 2012) the largest party in the SYRIZA coalition, representing at least 80 per cent of its cadres, activists and voters. SYRIZA was one of the core choices of the party’s new leadership after 2000.. ”
(Tsakatika, and Eleftheriou, Ibid; 2013).

“SYN.. defined itself as a pluralist left party of democratic socialism, neither orthodox communist nor social democratic, supporting a mixed economy and placing a fresh emphasis on ‘new issues’, particularly feminism, democratic rights and the environment. SYN’s original core consisted of cadres whose political origins lay in the party of the Ellhnikh Aristra ́ (Greek Left [EAR]) founded in 1987 (in turn established after the KKE-es leadership’s decision to dissolve the party and contribute to the foundation of a non-communist left party) and a large group of dissidents who broke ranks with the KKE in 1991. It also incorporated a number of individuals and small groups coming from left social democracy, ecologism and the extra-parliamentary left, as well as independents.

The party’s founding document appealed to ‘the men and women of work and culture, the young and the excluded’. This was explicitly not a class appeal, since SYN effectively presented itself as a catch-all party throughout the 1990s, one that aimed to be present in ‘every nook and cranny of Greek society’. There was also an explicit trans-class appeal to groups affected by gender inequality and environmental degradation. In practice, most of its vote share, membership and cadres have mainly been from among the ranks of highly educated employees in the public sector, professionals and small employers. However, as a result of changes in internal factional dynamics, with the radical, protest-oriented

moderate (and sympathetic to government cooperation with PASOK) Anan vtikh ryga (Renewal Wing) in the party leadership after 2000, SYN shifted to a broadly defined class appeal aimed at targeting, primarily, younger cohorts and, secondarily, precariously employed workers in the services sector, social categories that were politically under-represented”
(Tsakatika, and Eleftheriou, Ibid; 2013).

The later creation of Syriza, was also a United Front. The word commonly means “coalition of the radical left”; or originally “coming from the roots” (Wikipedia):

“The Coalition of the Radical Left (Greek: Synaspismós Rizospastikís Aristerás), mostly known by its acronym, Syriza which signifies a Greek adjective meaning “from the roots”, is a left-wing political party in Greece, originally founded in 2004 as a coalition of left-wing and radical left parties. It is the largest party in the Hellenic Parliament…
The coalition originally comprised a broad array of groups (thirteen in total) and independent politicians, including social democrats, democratic socialists, left-wing patriots, feminists and green leftist groups, as well as Maoist, Trotskyist, Eurocommunist but also Eurosceptic components. Additionally, despite its secular ideology, many members are Christians who, like their atheistic fellow members, are opposed to the privileges of the state-sponsored Orthodox Church of Greece. From 2013 the coalition became a unitary party, although it retained its name with the addition of “United Social Front.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syriza

Syriza between 2004-8 was led by Alekos Alavanos. They created a vigorous youth movement in the driving force of the Ellhniko ́ Koinvniko ́ Foroym (Greek Social Forum [EKF]) which later organised the 4th European Social Forum (ESF) that took place in Athens in 2006. The Syriza United Front did undergo some splinters:

“In March 2009, some 10 small groups and parties formed another coalition, Antarsya (literally, the Anti-Capitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow). Composed primarily of university student activists in various communist organizations of orthodox Marxist, Trotskyist and Maoist backgrounds, as well of members of the relatively new rank-and-file unions outside the established bureaucracies of the official union structure of the country, it proved effective for activism in a broad range of mobilizations, but it never managed to achieve anything more than 1.8 per cent in the regional or general elections.

(Spourdalakis, Michalis; “Left strategy in the Greek cauldron: explaining syriza’s success. Socialist Register 2013; p. 105)

By 2010, Alex Tspiras was leading the Syriza party, after a section (The Renewal Wing’) split to form DIMAR (‘Renewal Wing’):

“The exit of the ‘Renewal Wing’ faction from SYN (which evolved into DIMAR) in the summer of 2010 curtailed political disagreement and factional infighting within SYN and resulted in the effective dominance of Alexis Tsipras’s leadership in both SYN and SYRIZA.”
(Tsakatika, and Eleftheriou, Ibid; 2013).

“The “social democratic” wing of Synaspismos definitely lost control of the party in 2006 when Alekos Alavanos was elected its president. This right wing, led by Fotis Kouvelis, almost exclusively originating in the Eurocommunist right group coming from EAR, ultimately left Synaspismos and set up another party called Democratic Left (Dimar): a formation that claims to be a sort of halfway house between Pasok and the radical left.”

(Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen: Greece: Phase One https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/01/phase-one/)

But the revisionist KKE left Syn early on, and adopted a sectarian approach. Later on the KKE did not join the Greek Social Forum (EKF). Much of the KKE’s broad front work was instead performed through a Trade Union organisation – “Panrgatiko Agvnistiko Mtvpo (All Workers’ Militant Front, PAME) formed in the late 1990s. Insisting on this tactic, the KKE lost ground amongst much of the youth. For example those joining the ‘Indignants’ movement – who rejected all parties.

“Also indicative of the qualitative new dimension of the Greek people’s resistance were the now famous mobilizations of the ‘aganaktismeni’, i.e. the ‘frustrated or indignant in the squares’. These movements, which appeared in almost every major city nationwide, used new means of political mobilization (including the internet) and developed a political language which was clearly hostile to the previously existing patronizing practices of the party system. In fact this hostility was frequently displayed by spontaneous verbal and even physical attacks on politicians of the governmental parties, which at times extended to representatives of the established trade unions and the KKE.”

(Spourdalakis, Michalis;“Left strategy in the Greek cauldron: explaining syriza’s success. Socialist Register 2013; p. 108)

Stathis Kouvelakis, is a member of the central committee of Syriza and a leading member of its Left Platform. Kouvelakis pointed to the post-1968 divisions of the Greek left as “two poles.” Supposedly bridged by Syriza: the first bridge to factions of the KKE:

“Since 1968, the radical Left had been divided into two poles. The first was the Greek Communist Party (KKE), which (after splits)… (had) a rightist wing (that) constituted the Greek Left (EAR) and joined Synaspismos from the outset, and the leftist one reforming as the AKOA. The KKE that remained after these two splits was peculiarly traditionalist… It managed to win a relatively significant activist base among working-class and popular layers, as well as among the youth, particularly in the universities.” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen: Greece: Phase One https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/01/phase-one/)

Kouvelakis describes Synaspsimos, as a second ‘pole’, seeding the later Syriza:

“The other pole, Synaspismos, opened out in 2004 with the creation of Syriza, which itself came from the joining together of the two previous splits from the KKE. Synaspismos has changed considerably over time. At the beginning of the 1990s, it was the kind of party that could vote for the Maastricht Treaty, and it was mainly of a moderate left coloration.” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

Actually the Marxist-Leninist pro-Hoxha party – (Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization) – is more emphatic. It places Syriza as directly deriving from the revisionist KKE, and as having taken over the KKE “social-democratic and reformist” character. Although Syriza is “socially” anti-fascist, it has “contradictions” – that impede it:

“In 1968, “K”KE was split into two parties: the euro-communist part known as “K”KE (interior) and the Krushchevian-Brezhnevite part known as “K”KE. Syriza originates from the first part and, consequently, is a social-democratic and reformist party guided by a right opportunist general line and characterized by petty bourgeois class features.

Syriza has pledged to implement a kind of neo-Keynesian economic program with the aim, at best, of relieving the burden of the consequences coming from the economic crisis of over-production and extreme neo-liberal economic policy without, however, touching the capitalist system and the imperialist dependence of Greece. Nevertheless, the implementation of this program has met negative reactions from the representatives of the imperialist organizations Commission – ECB – IMF that continue to interfere in the internal affairs of the country provocatively and without any pretext. This attitude amounts to the annulment of the recent (editor: January 2105) elections in our country.

In the sphere of social questions, Syriza is an anti-fascist party suffering from inconsistencies and contradictions as it is evident from the fact that it formed an alliance with the bourgeois nationalist party of ANEL and the nomination of Prokopis Pavlopoulos for President of the Republic, a right-wing politician from Nea Demokratia who was responsible, as Minister of Public Order in the Karamanlis government, for the bloody police violence unleashed on the country’s school youth after the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos in December of 2008.”

(Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi OrganizationSome questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015. At http://anasintaxi-en.blogspot.ca/2015/02/some-questions-and-answers-about.html)

Syriza was always an electoral alliance:

“Syriza was set up by several different organizations in 2004, as an electoral alliance. Its biggest component was Alexis Tsipras’s party Synaspismos — initially the Coalition of the Left and Progress, and eventually renamed the Coalition of the Left and of the Movements …. It emerged from a series of splits in the Communist movement. Some (smaller parties also – Editor) came out of the old Greek far left. In particular, the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE), one of the country’s main Maoist groups. This organization had three members of parliament (MPs) elected in May 2012. That’s also true of the Internationalist Workers’ Left (DEA), which is from a Trotskyist tradition, as well as other groups mostly of a Communist background. For example, the Renewing Communist Ecological Left (AKOA), which came out of the old Communist Party (Interior).” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

The United Front of Syriza, had almost electoral immediate success:

“It managed to get into parliament, overcoming the 3 percent minimum threshold.” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

Syriza went on to replace PASOK as increasingly, Syriza candidates won in the ballot boxes. By this stage a number of other new parties had emerged, including a fascist party – Golden Dawn:

“After three years of political instability, the system collapsed in the dual elections of May and June 2012. New Democracy’s strength was halved and PASOK’s vote share diminished by 75 per cent. Three new political actors emerged, each winning around seven per cent of the vote, namely the party of the Dhmokratikh Aristra (Democratic Left, DIMAR), a recent split from SYN, Anya rthtoi Ellhn(Independent Greeks), a recent split from ND, and the extreme-right Xrysh Aygh (Golden Dawn). (Tsakatika, and Eleftheriou, Ibid; 2013).

A short lived coalition government in 2012 was formed by ND, PASOK and DIMAR in June 2012

What does Syriza represent? According to its own leaders it is an “anti-capitalist coalition” – as “class-struggle parties – but both emphasising “electoral alliances”:

“Syriza is an anti-capitalist coalition that addresses the question of power by emphasizing the dialectic of electoral alliances and success at the ballot box with struggle and mobilizations from below. That is, Syriza and Synaspismos see themselves as class-struggle parties, as formations that represent specific class interests.” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

In another description, it is a “hybrid party”:

“That is, it is a political front, and even within Syriza there is a practical approach allowing the coexistence of different political cultures. I would say that Syriza is a hybrid party, a synthesis party, with one foot in the tradition of the Greek Communist movement and its other foot in the novel forms of radicalism that have emerged in this new period.” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

In 2012 there were about 16,000 members in Synaspismos, and the Maoist KOE had about 1-1500 members. But in the ensuring period of a year, Syriza grew rapidly further – to 35,000–36,000. By May 2012, it became the second party in Greece with 16.7 percent of the vote, beating Pasok. It relied largely on a trade union base, and pulled its voters away from the KKE. There were 3 reasons why strategists feel they did so well in the 2012 elections:

“First, The violence of the social and economic crisis in Greece and the way it developed from 2010 onward, with the austere-ian purge .. inflicted under the infamous memorandums of understanding (the agreements the Greek government signed with the troika in order to secure the country’s ability to pay off its debts). The second factor resides in the fact that Greece — and now also Spain — are the only countries where this social and economic crisis has transformed into a political crisis. .. The third factor is popular mobilization.… The real breakthrough came when Tsipras focused his discourse on the theme of constituting an “anti-austerity government of the Left” now, which he presented as an alliance proposal reaching out to the KKE, the far left, the parliamentary left, and the small dissident elements of Pasok. “ (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

Within the United Front of Syriza itself, there are two main wings (See Diagram above): The Left Platform and the majority. The Left Platform is also a United Front – of the “Left Current” mainly influenced by the KKE and a Trotskyist component:

“The Left Platform has two components, the Left Current, which is a kind of traditional communist current — essentially constituted by trade unionists and controlling most of the trade union sector of Syriza. These people in their vast majority come from the KKE, so they are those who broke with the KKE in the last split of the party in 1991. And then there is the Trotskyist component (DEA and KOKKOINO, recently fused).” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

In turn, this Left wing has formed a sub-group – the “Platform of the 53”:

“The left of the majority has coalesced around the “Platform of the Fifty-Three,” signed by fifty-three members of the central committee and some MPs in June 2014, immediately after the European elections. They strongly criticized Tsipras’s attempts to attract establishment politicians, and for leading a campaign that didn’t give a big enough role to social mobilizations and movements”. (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

From quite early on, Tsipras had been criticised from his Left – on charges along the lines of opportunism. What Programme did Syriza put forth?

9. What was the elected programme of Syriza?

The Thessalonika Conference is accepted as being the progaramme of the United Front of Syriza. (Syriza – The Thessalonika Programme” at http://www.syriza.gr/article/id/59907/SYRIZA—THE-THESSALONIKI-PROGRAMME.html#.VQSgEChOTdl

In broadest terms the Programme calls for cessation of “the Nazi Occupation forced loan from the Bank of Greece” – and lifting of the Greek Public Debt: A slogan “No sacrifice of the Euro” was often heard:

  • “Write-off the greater part of public debt’s nominal value so that it becomes sustainable in the context of a «European Debt Conference». It happened for Germany in 1953. It can also happen for the South of Europe and Greece.
  • Include a «growth clause» in the repayment of the remaining part so that it is growth-financed and not budget-financed.
  • Include a significant grace period («moratorium») in debt servicing to save funds for growth.
  • Exclude public investment from the restrictions of the Stability and Growth Pact.
  • A «European New Deal» of public investment financed by the European Investment Bank.
  • Quantitative easing by the European Central Bank with direct purchases of sovereign bonds.
  • Finally, we declare once again that the issue of the Nazi Occupation forced loan from the Bank of Greece is open for us. Our partners know it. It will become the country’s official position from our first days in power.
    On the basis of this plan, we will fight and secure a socially viable solution to Greece’s debt problem so that our country is able to pay off the remaining debt from the creation of new wealth and not from primary surpluses, which deprive society of income.
    With that plan, we will lead with security the country to recovery and productive reconstruction by:
  • Immediately increasing public investment by at least €4 billion.
  • Gradually reversing all the Memorandum injustices.
  • Gradually restoring salaries and pensions so as to increase consumption and demand.
  • Providing small and medium-sized enterprises with incentives for employment, and subsidizing the energy cost of industry in exchange for an employment and environmental clause.
  • Investing in knowledge, research, and new technology in order to have young scientists, who have been massively emigrating over the last years, back home.
  • Rebuilding the welfare state, restoring the rule of law and creating a meritocratic state.
    We are ready to negotiate and we are working towards building the broadest possible alliances in Europe.”

In this document it further says that “within our first days in power,” after “negotiations end” with the Troika (And on its Memorandum)– they will begin enacting the following “National Reconstruction Plan” What does this embody? There are Four Pillars to this, which we recap briefly.

The 1st Pillar is “Confronting the humanitarian crisis at an estimated Total estimated cost of €1,882 billion

“Our program…. amounts to a comprehensive grid of emergency interventions, so as to raise a shield of protection for the most vulnerable social strata. Free electricity (Total cost: €59,4 million).

  • Programme of meal subsidies to 300.000 families without income. Total cost: €756 million.
  • Programme of housing guarantee. The target is the provision of initially 30.000 apartments (30, 50, and 70 m²), by subsidizing rent at €3 per m². Total cost: €54 million.
  • Restitution of the Christmas bonus, as 13th pension, to 1.262.920 pensioners with a pension up to €700. Total cost: €543,06 million.
  • Free medical and pharmaceutical care for the uninsured unemployed. Total cost: €350 million.
  • Special public transport card for the long-term unemployed and those who are under the poverty line. Total cost: €120 million.
  • Repeal of the leveling of the special consumption tax on heating and automotive diesel. Bringing the starting price of heating fuel for households back to €0,90 per lt, instead of the current €1,20 per lt. Benefit is expected.”

The 2nd Pillar is “Restarting the economy and promoting tax justice” Total estimated cost: €6,5 billion; Total estimated benefit: €3,0 billion

“This second pillar is centered on measures to restart the economy. Priority is given to alleviating tax suppression on the real economy, relieving citizens of financial burdens, injecting liquidity and enhancing demand.

Excessive taxation on the middle class as well as on those who do not tax-evade has entrapped a great part of citizens in a situation which directly threatens their employment status, their private property, no matter how small, and even their physical existence, as proved by the unprecedented number in suicides.

  • Settlement of financial obligations to the state and social security funds in 84 installments. Estimated benefit: €3 billion

The revenue which we expect to collect on an annual basis (between 5% and 15% of the total owed) will be facilitated by the following measures:

  • The immediate cease of prosecution as well as of confiscation of bank accounts, primary residence, salaries, etc, and the issuance of tax clearance certificate to all those included in the settlement process.
  • A twelve-month suspension of prosecution and enforcement measures against debtors with an established zero income, included in the settlement process.
  • Repeal of the anti-constitutional treatment of outstanding financial obligations to the state as offence in the act (in flagrante delicto).
  • Abolition of the mandatory 50% down payment of the outstanding debt as a prerequisite to seek a court hearing. The down payment will be decided by a judge. It will be around 10%-20%, according to the financial circumstances of the debtor.
  • Immediate abolition of the current unified property tax (ENFIA). Introduction of a tax on large property. Immediate downward adjustment of property zone rates per m². Estimated cost: €2 billion.

That tax will be progressive with a high tax-free threshold. With the exception of luxurious homes, it will not apply on primary residence. In addition, it will not concern small and medium property.

  • Restitution of the €12000 annual income tax threshold. Increase in the number of tax brackets to ensure progressive taxation. Estimated cost: €1.5 billion.
  • Personal debt relief by restructuring non-performing loans («red loans») by individuals and enterprises.

This new relief legislation will include: the case-by-case partial write-off of debt incurred by people who now are under the poverty line, as well as the general principle of readjusting outstanding debt so that its total servicing to banks, the state, and the social security funds does not exceed ⅓ of a debtor’s income.

  • Establishment of a public development bank as well as of special-purpose banks: Starting capital at €1 billion.
  • Restoration of the minimum wage to €751. Zero cost.

The 3rd Pillar is “Regaining employment” Estimated cost: €3 billion

A net increase in jobs by 300,000 in all sectors of the economy – private, public, social – is expected to be the effect of our two-year plan to regain employment. …Restitution of the institutional framework to protect employment rights that was demolished by the Memoranda governments…. Restitution of the so-called «after-effect» of collective agreements; of the collective agreements themselves as well as of arbitration….. Abolition of all regulations allowing for massive and unjustifiable layoffs as well as for renting employees.

Zero cost: Employment programme for 300000 new jobs. Estimated first-year cost: €3 billion

The 4th Pillar is: “Transforming the political system to deepen democracy”

Total estimated cost: €0

From the first year of SYRIZA government, we set in motion the process for the institutional and democratic reconstruction of the state. We empower the institutions of representative democracy and we introduce new institutions of direct democracy.

Regional organization of the state. Enhancement of transparency, of the economic autonomy and the effective operation of municipalities and regions. We empower the institutions of direct democracy and introduce new ones.

Empowerment of citizens’ democratic participation. Introduction of new institutions, such as people’s legislative initiative, people’s veto and people’s initiative to call a referendum.

Empowerment of the Parliament, curtailment of parliamentary immunity, and repeal of the peculiar legal regime of MPs’ non-prosecution.

Regulation of the radio/television landscape by observing all legal preconditions and adhering to strict financial, tax, and social-security criteria. Re-establishment of ERT (Public Radio and Television) on a zero basis.”

(Thessalalonkia Programme; Ibid)

This is viewed by significant leaders of the Syriza as a “transitional programme,” as explained in an interview with Efklidis Tsakalotos, a member of Parliament with SYRIZA and responsible for the economic policy of Syriza. (An Interview With Syriza’s Efklidis Tsakalotos Syriza’s Moment; by E. AHMET TONAK” JANUARY 23-25, 2015; http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/23/syrizas-moment/) :

“Syriza’s programme is a transitional one. It wants to start the process of not only reversing the policies of austerity but also dismantling some of the central pillars of the neo-liberal order. As with all transitional programmes the goal is to open up fissures for more radical polices. Whether we in Europe can achieve this depends on the extent that social movements are inspired to make use of the opportunities that arise to broaden the agenda in favour of a more participatory, institutionally-diverse, and socially just economy. Left-wing governments can do only so much. Social transformations, especially in the modern era, need the active engagement of millions. Parties and governments of the Left must see their role as catalysts of these wider developments. What is certain is that we are living in interesting times!”

(Interview with Tsakalotos Ibid).

In truth, the programme that was put forward by Syriza entirely stays within the confines of the EU. Instead of breaking that mould, it attempts to lay a negotiating position to lessen the burdens that are being demanded of the Greek peoples. It is correct that Syriza has never claimed to be a Leninist type party. Nonetheless, this perspective put above, is the antithesis of Leninism. As explained by Lenin in ‘State and Revolution” “trasnational forms” are needed. Both Marx and Lenin certainly agreed that a “special stage” – or a stage of transition from capitalism to communism was needed:

“The first fact that has been established most accurately by the whole theory of development, by science as a whole–a fact that was ignored by the utopians, and is ignored by the present-day opportunists, who are afraid of the socialist revolution–is that, historically, there must undoubtedly be a special stage, or a special phase, of transition from capitalism to communism.” https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/ch05.htm

However, crucially, this transition needed to be a revolutionary transition:

“Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”

Previously the question was put as follows: to achieve its emancipation, the proletariat must overthrow the bourgeoisie, win political power and establish its revolutionary dictatorship.

Now the question is put somewhat differently: the transition from capitalist society–which is developing towards communism–to communist society is impossible without a “political transition period”, and the state in this period can only be the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. What, then, is the relation of this dictatorship to democracy? We have seen that the Communist Manifesto simply places side by side the two concepts: “to raise the proletariat to the position of the ruling class” and “to win the battle of democracy”. On the basis of all that has been said above, it is possible to determine more precisely how democracy changes in the transition from capitalism to communism. In capitalist society, providing it develops under the most favourable conditions, we have a more or less complete democracy in the democratic republic. But this democracy is always hemmed in by the narrow limits set by capitalist exploitation, and consequently always remains, in effect, a democracy for the minority, only for the propertied classes, only for the rich. Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners. Owing to the conditions of capitalist exploitation, the modern wage slaves are so crushed by want and poverty that “they cannot be bothered with democracy,” “cannot be bothered with politics”; in the ordinary, peaceful course of events, the majority of the population is debarred from participation in public and political life.”

Lenin State & Revolution: Experience of the Paris Commune of 1871. Marx’s Analysis (https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/ch03.htm)

Lenin points out that there is a “hemming in by narrow limits” of democracy. How much “narrower” is it when not only the single state “hems it in” – but the imperialists of the EU also “hem it in?” The next period, following the January elections of 2015, would answer this question.

10. Elections of 2015 and Negotiations with the Troika

The short-lived governments could not maintain credibility, as they were always accomodating to the new Troika demands. The mass movement shifted to the left, as shown by the huge demonstrations in the central Square. The elections of January 25 2015, sealed the rise to power of Syriza:

“After the Hellenic Parliament failed to elect a new President of State by 29 December 2014, the parliament was dissolved and a snap 2015 legislative election was scheduled for 25 January 2015. Syriza had a lead in opinion polls, but its anti-austerity position worried investors and eurozone supporters. The party’s chief economic advisor, John Milios, has downplayed fears that Greece under a Syriza government would exit the eurozone, while shadow development minister George Stathakis disclosed the party’s intention to crack down on Greek oligarchs if it wins the election. In the election, Syriza defeated the incumbent New Democracy and went on to become the largest party in the Hellenic Parliament, receiving 36.3% of the vote and 149 out of 300 seats.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syriza

“January 25th marks a historic turning point in recent Greek history. After five years of devastating austerity, a social crisis without precedent in Europe, and a series of struggles that at some points, especially in 2010-2012, took an almost insurrectionary form, there has been a major political break. The parties that were responsible for putting Greek society under the disciplinary supervision of the so-called Troika (EU-ECB-IMF) suffered a humiliating defeat. PASOK, which in 2009 won almost 44% of the vote, now received only 4.68%; and the splinter party of Giorgos Papandreou, the PASOK Prime Minister who initiated the austerity programs, got 2.46%. New Democracy came in at 27.81%, almost 9% below SYRIZA. The electoral rise of the fascists of Golden Dawn has been halted, although they still maintain a worrying 6% of the vote. Another pro-austerity party, the RIVER, representing the neoliberal agenda (although nominally coming from the center-left) took only 6.05%, despite intensive media hype.”

(Panagiotis Sotiris; https://viewpointmag.com/2015/01/28/a-strategy-of-ruptures-ten-theses-on-the-greek-future/)

Rapidly, by 26 January 2015, Tsipras and Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos agreed on a coalition government between Syriza and ANEL. Tsipras would be the Prime Minister of Greece, with the academic economist Yanis Varoufakis as his Minister of Finance.

Yet, in a graphic display of its intended response to the rebuke that the Troika and especially the German imperialists had received, the official line was hard:

“German government official Hans-Peter Friedrich however said: “The Greeks have the right to vote for whom they want. We have the right to no longer finance Greek debt.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syriza

The Greek pro-Hoxha Marxist-Leninist view is that the Greek people took a stand against both the Troika and the Greek capitalists:

“By voting for SYRIZA, the majority of the Greek people rejected and condemned the cruel economic measures that were imposed, the neoliberal economic policy, in general, and the great-bourgeois parties of ND and PASOK that implemented these measures with the outmost servility. The victory of SYRIZA is also explained by the people’s resentment towards the fascist re-modeling of social life promoted by the government of the fascist scoundrel Samaras”. (January 24, 2015; “BOYCOTT the elections–The elections do not solve the problem of imperialist DEPENDANCE (economic-political-military, NATO bases etc.), nor repel-cancel ongoing EU politics against the people http://anasintaxi-en.blogspot.ca/2015/01/boycott-electionsthe-elections-do-not_24.html)

However Anasintaxi also had called for abstention from the elections of 2015, arguing that:

“In contrary ALL the bourgeois parties are in favor of Greece’s STAY in imperialist European Union, and in EURO-EMU and propagate consciously, serve the interests of the EU imperialists with misleading MYTH-fantasies about “equal participation” (!) of the country in the “pit of lions” of the powerful European monopolies. At the same time they propagate that Greece leaving the Euro-EMU-EU will be a “major disaster” (!).

ALL the reformist social democratic parties (“K” KE-SYRIZA, etc.) and the extra-parliamentary organizations follow the same strategic choice of the EU monopolies and the local capital.

It is not only SYRIZA which supports the country STAY (in) EURO-EMU-EU, but also the “K” KE: “A solution outside the euro and return to the drachma in the present circumstances would be catastrophic” (A. Papariga, “Rizospastis” 31/5/2011, p.6) Moreover: the leaders of the “K” KE definitively renounced the anti-imperialist struggle for the overthrow of dependence”

(January 24, 2015; “BOYCOTT the elections–The elections do not solve the problem of imperialist DEPENDANCE (economic-political-military, NATO bases etc.), nor repel-cancel ongoing EU politics against the people http://anasintaxi-en.blogspot.ca/2015/01/boycott-electionsthe-elections-do-not_24.html)

After the election, Anasintaxi warned that Syriza had entered into coalition with right-wing ANEL. However early on, the government had taken some progressive steps:

“During the first three weeks following the elections, the SYRIZA government has taken a series of actions in order to implement its program that has won the support of wide popular strata, an attitude that is unfortunately accompanied by certain illusions. At the same time, the government’s actions have met a very negative reception from Commission – ECB – IMF whose pressure and constant interference in the country’s internal affairs is condemned by the Greek people. We think that, up to a certain extent, SYRIZA’s victory creates favorable conditions for the strengthening of class struggles. Whether this possibility becomes a reality depends, of course on many factors the most important of which is the organization of the majority of the working masses in independent and united trade unions and the influence exerted on these and, the society in general, by the consistent left-wing, anti-imperialist and revolutionary communists.”

(Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization ‘Some questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015. At http://anasintaxi-en.blogspot.ca/2015/02/some-questions-and-answers-about.html)

At this early point, both Tsipras and Varoufakis were apparently determined to negotiate hard, with the threat to leave the EU if the Troika did not back down:

“Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has spelled out the negotiating strategy of the Syriza government with crystal clarity.
“Exit from the euro does not even enter into our plans, quite simply because the euro is fragile. It is like a house of cards. If you pull away the Greek card, they all come down,” he said.
“Do we really want Europe to break apart? Anybody who is tempted to think it possible to amputate Greece strategically from Europe should be careful. It is very dangerous. Who would be hit after us? Portugal? What would happen to Italy when it discovers that it is impossible to stay within the austerity straight-jacket?”
“There are Italian officials – I won’t say from which institution – who have approached me to say they support us, but they can’t say the truth because Italy is at risk of bankruptcy and they fear the consequence from Germany. A cloud of fear has been hanging over Europe over recent years. We are becoming worse than the Soviet Union,” he told the Italian TV station RAI.
This earned a stiff rebuke from the Italian finance minister, Pier Carlo Padoan. “These comments are out of place. Italy’s debt is solid and sustainable,” he said.
Yet the point remains. Deflationary conditions are causing interest costs to rise faster than nominal GDP in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, automatically pushing public debt ratios ever higher.
Berkeley economist Barry Eichengreen warns that Grexit would be “Lehman squared”, setting off a calamitous chain reaction with worldwide consequences. Syriza’s gamble is that the EU authorities know this, whatever officials may claim in public.
Premier Alexis Tsipras is pushing this to the wire. Rightly or wrongly, he calculates that Greece holds the trump card – the detonation of mutual assured destruction, to borrow from Cold War parlance – and that all the threats from EMU power centres are mere bluster.
His cool nerve has caught Brussels, Frankfurt, Berlin, and the markets off guard. They assumed that this 40-year neophyte would back away from exorbitant demands in his landmark policy speech to the Greek parliament on Sunday night. Instead they heard a declaration of war.
He vowed to implement every measure in Syriza’s pre-electoral Thessaloniki Programme “in their entirety” with no ifs and buts. This even includes a legal demand for €11bn of war reparations from Germany, a full 71 years after the last Wehrmacht soldier left Greek soil.
There is no possible extension of Greece’s bail-out programme with the EU-IMF Troika, for that would be an “extension of mistakes and disaster”, a perpetuation of the debt-deflation trap. “The People have abolished the Memorandum. We will not negotiate our sovereignty,” he said.
Macropolis said every item was in there: a pension rise for the poorest; no further rises in the retirement age; an increase in the minimum wage to €751 a month by 2016; a return to collective bargaining; an end to privatisation of utilities; cancellation of a new property tax (ENFIA); a rise in tax-free thresholds from €5,000 to €12,000; and a rehiring of 10,000 public workers fired “illegally.”

(Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. “Greece’s leaders stun Europe with escalating defiance”. ‘The Telegraph’; 09 Feb 2015; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11400778/Greeces-leaders-stun-Europe-with-escalating-defiance.html)

However in a foretaste of the future intransigence of the German imperialists, led by Wolfang Schauble the German Finance Minister – Greece’s first counter-offer was rejected out of hand:

“Schauble continues to insist that Greece sticks to the bailout conditions agreed with previous governments under which financial support will be given only in exchange for substantial structural reforms.
The finance ministry’s position risks deepening splits within Europe over how to deal with Greece as an end of February deadline nears at which the previous bailout agreement with its creditors and the European Central Bank runs out, leaving Greece facing bankruptcy.
In contrast to Berlin, the EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker welcomed the Greek application, saying in his opinion it could pave the way for a “sensible compromise in the interest of financial stability in the Eurozone as a whole”.
But experts said Greece was merely playing for time, and that its application had indeed contained no new commitments. “The Greeks have simply tried to pass the buck back to the middle,” Matthias Kullas from the Centre for European Politics in Freiburg told The Guardian.
He stressed the German reaction was not a rejection over reaching a compromise with Greece, but did mean that expectations of an agreement on Friday when finance ministers from the eurogroup meet again, were now “slim”.
“If an agreement is reached, it will be at the last minute,” he said. “It’s in the interest of both sides to stick to their guns. The earlier one of them diverts from his course, the weaker his position becomes and the more elbow room he leaves for the other.”

(Kate Connolly. “Germany rejects Greek bailout plan – as it happened”. The Guardian 19 February 2015; http://www.theguardian.com/business/blog/live/2015/feb/19/greece-to-seek-bailout-extension-after-33bn-lifeline)

A furious cycle of media reports and counter reports paralleled a back and forth between the European Union and the Greek negotiating team of Tsipras and Varoufakis. In essence no counter-offer by the Greek team was deemed acceptable. It is true that the initial efforts of the Greek team to counter the demands were insubstantial. However even when substantial retreats had been offered, they were humiliatingly rejected. While the European team was overall untied, strains emerged. It was apparent that the Germans were the most stout in the rejections. However both the French and the Italians were wavering. Nonetheless even the IMF initially firmly supported the German position:

“Last week Greece received a four-month extension of its $277 billion bailout program. The parliaments of Finland, Estonia and, most importantly, Germany, as well as Greece’s other EU partners, approved the bailout program that was agreed to Feb. 20, provided that Greece submit a list of planned reforms. Greece submitted six pages of reforms last Monday, but not all of Greece’s creditors think they are sufficient.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), wrote a letter to Dutch Finance Minster Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also president of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, expressing her concern that Greece’s proposed reforms were not specific enough, nor did they contain sufficient assurances on their design and implementation. The letter is the most recent, and public, indication of the IMF’s hesitancy toward Greece and its bailout program.

(Maria Savel. “IMF Stands Firm, Forcing Greece and Syriza to Accept Hard Concessions” Politics Review, March 3, 2015, http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/15210/imf-stands-firm-forcing-greece-and-syriza-to-accept-hard-concessions)

By March, Tsipras was still assuming the EU would not want to have a member leave:

“SPIEGEL: Many experts now fear a “Graccident” — Greece’s accidental exit from the euro. If the ECB doesn’t agree to your T-Bills, that’s exactly what might happen.
Tspiras: I cannot imagine that. People won’t risk Europe’s disintegration over a T-Bill of almost €1.6 billion. There is a saying for this in Greece: A wet man does not fear the rain.”

(Der Spiegel Interview Conducted By Manfred Ertel, Katrin Kuntz and Mathieu von Rohr: Greek Prime Minister Tsipras: ‘We Don’t Want to Go on Borrowing Forever’; March 7 2015; at http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/spiegel-interview-with-greek-prime-minister-tsipras-a-1022156.html)

As time went on, the Greek banks were forced to put restrictions on withdrawals. The EU allowed some further liquidity in Greece by allowing Greece to print more T-Bills, but purely for internal use. This was violated by Greece. More and more comments were heard that Greece might have to exit the EU – a so called Grexit or Greccident:

“The current money-go-round is unsustainable. Euro-region taxpayers fund their governments, which in turn bankroll the European Central Bank. Cash from the ECB’s Emergency Liquidity Scheme flows to the Greek banks; they buy treasury bills from their government, which uses the proceeds to … repay its International Monetary Fund debts! …
There’s blame on both sides for the current impasse. Euro-area leaders should be giving Greece breathing space to get its economic act together. But the Greek leadership has been cavalier in its treatment of its creditors. It’s been amateurish in expecting that a vague promise to collect more taxes would win over Germany and its allies. And it’s been unrealistic in expecting the ECB to plug a funding gap in the absence of a political agreement for getting back to solvency. ……Greece’s three-year bond yield is back above 20 percent, double what it was just before Alexis Tsipras was elected prime minister on an anti-austerity platform in January. At that level, there’s no way Greece can end its reliance on its bailout partners anytime soon.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was scathing yesterday about Greece’s efforts to balance its election promises with its bailout obligations, and about its standing with international investors:
“None of my colleagues, or anyone in the international institutions, can tell me how this is supposed to work. Greece was able to sell those treasury bills only in Greece, with no foreign investor ready to invest. That means that all of the confidence was destroyed again.”
Every day’s delay in cutting a deal pushes Greece a little closer to leaving the common currency. That would be a shame, since it’s an outcome no one — apart from Schaeuble — seems to desire. The mutability of euro membership could also unleash contagion and a domino effect. But it looks increasingly inevitable.”

(Mark Gilbert; “Greece’s Euro Exit Seems Inevitable”: 17 March 2015; http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-03-17/greece-s-euro-exit-seems-inevitable)

By April 2015, reports circulated that secret plans were being drawn up to revive the Drachma and go into default (Evans-Pritchard A, 2 April 2015; Telegraph at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11513341/Greece-draws-up-drachma-plans-prepares-to-miss-IMF-payment.html).

On May 4th the BBC reported that Greek banks were not allowing pensioners to withdraw more than a small amount, and that public sector workers were nto being paid regularly (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32580919). However on May 6th however Greece paid back $200 million to the IMF and avoided insolvency. At that time the European Central Bank (ECB) granted further liquidity to Greece. (Phillip Inman and Helena Smith; 6 May, The Guardian; at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/06/greek-debt-default-avoided-after-200m-payment-to-imf)

By June the situation was still not resolved, and Greece’s peoples were in an even more precarious position. By this time, Syriza had retreated substantially more. Michael Roberts summarises to June:

“The IMF representative in the negotiations, Poul Thomsen, has “pushed the austerity agenda with a curious passion that shocks even officials in the European Commission, pussy cats by comparison” (here are the latest demands of the Troika Greece – Policy Commitments Demanded By EU etc Jun 2015). The IMF is demanding further sweeping measures of austerity at a time when the Greek government debt burden stands at 180% of GDP, when the Greeks have already applied the biggest swing in budget deficit to surplus by any government since the 1930s and when further austerity would only drive the Greek capitalist economy even deeper into its depression. As the Daily Telegraph summed it up: “six years of depression, a deflationary spiral, a 26pc fall GDP, 60pc youth unemployment, mass exodus of the young and the brightest, chronic hysteresis that will blight Greece’s prospects for a decade to come.”

The Syriza government has already made many and significant retreats from its election promises and wishes.  Many ‘red lines’ have been crossed already. It has dropped the demand for the cancellation of all or part of the government debt; it has agreed to carry through most of the privatisations imposed under the agreement reached with the previous conservative New Democracy government; it has agreed to increased taxation in various areas; it is willing to introduce ‘labour reforms’ and it has postponed the implementation of a higher minimum wage and the re-employment of thousands of sacked staff.

But the IMF and Eurogroup wanted even more. The Troika has agreed that the original targets for a budget surplus (before interest payments on debt) could be reduced from 3-4% of GDP a year up to 2020 to 1% this year, rising to 2% next etc. But this is no real concession because government tax revenues have collapsed during the negotiation period. At the end of 2014, the New Democracy government said that it would end the bailout package and take no more money because it could repay its debt obligations from then on as the government was running a primary surplus sufficient to do so. But that surplus has now disappeared as rich Greeks continue to hide their money and avoid tax payments and small businesses and employees hold back on paying in the uncertainty of what is going to happen. The general government primary cash surplus has narrowed by more than 59 percent to 651 million euros in the 4-month period of 2015 from 1.6 billion in the corresponding period last year
The Syriza government has only been able to pay its government employees their wages and meet state pension outgoings by stopping all payments of bills to suppliers in the health service, schools and other public services. The result is that the government has managed to scrape together just enough funds to meet IMF and ECB repayments in the last few months, while hospitals have no medicines and equipment and schools have no books and materials; and doctors and teachers leave the country.

Even Ashoka Mody, former chief of the IMF’s bail-out in Ireland, has criticised the attitude of his successor in the Greek negotiations: “Everything that we have learned over the last five years is that it is stunningly bad economics to enforce austerity on a country when it is in a deflationary cycle. Trauma patients have to heal their wounds before they can train for the 10K.”

The final red lines have been reached. What the Syriza leaders finally balked at was the demand by the IMF and the Eurogroup that the government raise VAT on electricity by 10 percentage points, directly hitting the fuel payments of the poorest; and also that the poorest state pensioners should have their pensions cuts so that the social security system could balance its books. Further down the road, the Troika wants major cuts in the pensions system by raising the retirement ages and increasing contributions. The Syriza leaders were even prepared to agree to some VAT rises and pension ‘reforms’, but the two specific demands of the Troika appear to have been just too much.”

(Roberts, Michael Blog; June 15, 2015;: “Ten minutes past midnight”; https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/ten-minutes-past-midnight/)

Increasingly leading economists including Nobel Laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, Amartya Sen and others – warned about a new “Versailles moment”, and insisted that German stubbornness was actually bad for Europe as a whole, and that a “hair-cut” to the debt was necessary – i.e. a dramatic waiver-cut of the debt (Simon Wren-Lewis. “Why Amartya Sen Is Right About What Is Being Done To Greece”; 12 June 2015; in ‘Social Europe’ at http://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/06/why-amartya-sen-is-right-about-what-is-being-done-to-greece/). President Obama of the USA had already agreed that:

“”You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression.”
“At some point, there has to be a growth strategy in order for them to pay off their debts to eliminate some of their deficits,” (Aurelia End; Obama joins ally list on Greek austerity relief http://news.yahoo.com/obama-joins-ally-list-greek-austerity-relief-033040983.html )

As the Left inside Syriza resisted Tsipras’s slippery slope of acceptance of new demands, they increasingly pointed to the example of Iceland who had defaulted on international debts in a similar situation. They got substantial agreement from even the ANSEL coalition party members also. (Ambrose Pritchard-Evans. “Syriza Left demands ‘Icelandic’ default as Greek defiance stiffens”.14 June ‘Daily Telegraph’; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/11673989/Syriza-Left-demands-Icelandic-default-as-Greek-defiance-stiffens.html ).

In a twist to the pre-July series of negotiations, as even more demands were made of the package being offered by Tsipras and Varoufakis, Tsipras called a snap referendum, saying he needed to have a further mandate form the Greek people, in order to agree to the latest demands and obtain the new tranche of bail-out funds. Bizarrely however, he then wrote to the Imperialists saying he would accept – only to find that the imperialists had withdrawn their offer. Tsipras had to go on to the snap Referendum:

“Tsipras infuriated eurozone finance ministers by calling a snap referendum on proposals to agree a deal to release the €7.2bn in bailout funds it needed to meet an IMF repayment. His argument was that the concessions still being demanded by creditors, including VAT rises and rapid reform of the unaffordable pension system, and the lack of any serious prospect of debt relief, meant he could not sign up without a fresh public mandate – and, indeed, he and Varoufakis immediately urged their countrymen to vote “No”.

Yet it emerged that while publicly lambasting the troika, the very same Tsipras had dispatched a two-page letter to Brussels that caved into many of the demands he had angrily rejected a few days earlier – and continued to insist on putting to the public vote. It was too late: his exasperated creditors, and Germany in particular, in the person of Berlin’s implacable finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, decided enough was enough and the offer was no longer on the table. Amid the storm of political recriminations, the European Central Bank capped financial support to the Greek banking sector, forcing the government to impose capital controls, to stem the relentless slow-motion bank run that has been leaching the life out of the country’s financial system for months. And last Tuesday, as it warned it would, Athens defaulted on its payment to the IMF. To all intents and purposes, the country is bust.

So Greek voters now face trudging to the polls today, either to vote Yes to a set of proposals that are no longer on the table – presumably ushering in a new, more emollient government that would get straight back to the negotiating table – or to send a defiant no to further austerity. Tsipras and Varoufakis insist that “No” would not mean plunging out of the eurozone, let alone the EU. Instead, they say they would re-enter talks as if brandishing a petition. Yet last time they were handed a stock of political capital by the Greek public, in January’s general election, they quickly squandered it. Both Tsipras and Varoufakis have forged their political reputations by rejecting consensus and overturning the received wisdom. But international diplomacy means understanding that everyone at the table, whatever your grievances against them, has their own mandate and their own domestic audience to placate.

Instead of opening up ways for the troika to save face, Tsipras and Varoufakis have used every means available – from provocative tweets to spiky speeches in Syntagma Square – to heighten the divisions between Greece and its eurozone partners, accusing them of trying to blackmail and humiliate the Greek people into submission.”

(Observer Editorial. “The Observer view on Greece’s referendum “5 July 2015; http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/05/greece-let-down-by-partners-and-leaders).

In the midst of this circus, before the Referendum – the USA and the IMF (in the person of Christine Lagarde) exerted further pressure on the Germans to bend. Already calls had been made by many economists, that Germany had been granted a waiver on the demands at the end of the First Word war (the Versailles treaty). These had been firmly ignored by the German imperialists. Now the IMF threw a spanner into the erst-while United Front of the imperialists:

“The International Monetary Fund has electrified the referendum debate in Greece after it conceded that the crisis-ridden country needs up to €60bn (£42bn) of extra funds over the next three years and large-scale debt relief to create “a breathing space” and stabilise the economy.
With days to go before Sunday’s knife-edge referendum that the country’s creditors have cast as a vote on whether it wants to keep the euro, the IMF revealed a deep split with Europe as it warned that Greece’s debts were “unsustainable”.
Fund officials said they would not be prepared to put a proposal for a third Greek bailout to the Washington-based organisation’s board unless it included both a commitment to economic reform and debt relief.
According to the IMF, Greece should have a 20-year grace period before making any debt repayments and final payments should not take place until 2055. It would need €10bn to get through the next few months and a further €50bn after that.
The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras welcomed the IMF’s intervention saying in a TV interview that what the IMF said was never put to him during negotiations.”

(Philipp Inman, Larry Elliot, Alberto Nardelli; IMF says Greece needs extra €60bn in funds and debt relief”; The Guardian 2 July 2015; at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/02/imf-greece-needs-extra-50bn-euro).

The Referendum was held on 5th July 2015. The result was a defiant “NO!” to the European imperialists:

“The final result in the referendum, published by the interior ministry, was 61.3% “No”, against 38.7% who voted “Yes.”
Greece’s governing Syriza party had campaigned for a “No”, saying the bailout terms were humiliating.
Their opponents warned that this could see Greece ejected from the eurozone, and a summit of eurozone heads of state has now been called for Tuesday.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said late on Sunday that Greeks had voted for a “Europe of solidarity and democracy”.
“As of tomorrow, Greece will go back to the negotiating table and our primary priority is to reinstate the financial stability of the country,” he said in a televised address.
“This time, the debt will be on the negotiating table,” he added, saying that an International Monetary Fund assessment published this week “confirms Greek views that restructuring the debt is necessary.”

(Mark Lowen; “Greece debt crisis: Greek voters reject bailout offer”; 6th July; BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33403665).

Strangely – Tsipras appeared not too happy. It became clear that he had been expecting a ‘Yes’ vote, which would enable him to cave in to the EU demands. He had relied on the often remarked on “wish of the Greek peoples to see themselves as European” and thus not to risk leaving the EU. But the Greek people had seen the callous manipulations of the EU leaders.

On the same day the results were announced, Yanis Varoufakis resigned – saying that this would help the negotiations going forward, but that this resignation had been essentially, at the request of Tsipras.

Proponents of the logical outcome of the “No” Vote – such as Yanis Varoufakis – were simply told to drop alternative plans. Varoufakis had been drawing up “Plan B” – whereby if the Troika did not retreat to any key extent – Greece would resurrect the pre-Euro currency of the Drachma.

Astonishingly, given this pledge by the Greek people to stand fast, in the final run of negotiations with the EU, Tsipras – then completely capitulated to Eurozone, primarily German imperialists. Unsurprisingly, in the renewed negotiations – the European leaders and most sections of banking capital – had simply turned their backs on the Greek populations views and demanded even harsher terms:

“The Greek government capitulated on Thursday to demands from its creditors for severe austerity measures in return for a modest debt write-off, raising hopes that a rescue deal could be signed at an emergency meeting of EU leaders on Sunday….Athens has put forward a 13-page document detailing reforms and public spending cuts worth €13bn with the aim of securing a third bailout from creditors that would raise €53.5bn and allow it to stay inside the currency union.
A cabinet meeting signed off the reform package after ministers agreed that the dire state of the economy and the debilitating closure of the country’s banks meant it had no option but to agree to almost all the creditors terms.”

(Phillip Inman, Graeme Wearden and Helena Smith: ”; 9 July 2015 Greece debt crisis: Athens accepts harsh austerity as bailout deal nears “Greek cabinet backs a 13-page package of reforms and spending cuts worth €13bn to secure third bailout and modest debt writeoff http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/09/greece-debt-crisis-athens-accepts-harsh-austerity-as-bailout-deal-nears)

As even the Guardian concluded: “Generally, Tsipras appears to have finally capitulated in the face of threats that Greece would be ejected from the eurozone:

“Greece and the rest of the eurozone have finally reached an agreement that could lead to a third bailout and keep the country in the eurozone.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras conceded to a further swathe of austerity measures and economic reforms after more than 16 hours of negotiations in Brussels. He has agreed to immediately pass laws to further reform the tax and pension system, liberalise the labour market, and open up closed professions. Sunday trading laws will be relaxed, and even milk producers and bakers will be deregulated.
The Financial Times has dubbed it:
‘The most intrusive economic supervision programme ever mounted in the EU’.
Greece was forced to accept these measures after Germany piled intense pressure, as a price for a new deal. EU officials told us that Tsipras was subjected to “mental waterboarding” in closed-door meetings with Angela Merkel, Donald Tusk and Francois Hollande.
The plan must now be approved by the Athens parliament by Wednesday, and then voted through various national parliaments. If agreement is reached, talks can then begin towards a a new three-year bailout worth up to €86bn (£61bn), accompanied by further monitoring by Greece’s creditors.
The deal appears to end Greece’s five-month battle with its creditors, which has gripped the eurozone, dominated the political agenda and alarmed the markets.
Emerging from the summit, Tsipras admitted it had been tough – but insisted he had won concessions on debt relief (sometime in the future) as well as the medium-term funding plan.
He also managed to persuade the eurozone that a new investment fund, that will manage and sell off €50bn Greek assets, would be based in Athens not Luxembourg.
But generally, Tsipras appears to have finally capitulated in the face of threats that Greece would be ejected from the eurozone.”

(Graeme Wearden and Helen Davidson. “Greek debt crisis: deal reached after marathon all-night summit – as it happened”. The Guardian 13 July 2015;
http://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2015/jul/12/greek-debt-crisis-eu-leaders-meeting-cancelled-no-deal-live)

Yanis Varoufakis summed the story up to that point as a “coup”:

“The recent Euro Summit is indeed nothing short of the culmination of a coup. In 1967 it was the tanks that foreign powers used to end Greek democracy. In my interview with Philip Adams, on ABC Radio National’s LNL, I claimed that in 2015 another coup was staged by foreign powers using, instead of tanks, Greece’s banks. Perhaps the main economic difference is that, whereas in 1967 Greece’s public property was not targeted, in 2015 the powers behind the coup demanded the handing over of all remaining public assets, so that they would be put into the servicing of our un-payble, unsustainable debt.”

(Varoufakis, Y. “On the Euro Summit’s Statement on Greece: First thoughts”; 14 July 2015. http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2015/07/14/on-the-euro-summits-statement-on-greece-first-thoughts/)

While the Referendum gave a clear signal that the Greek people had rejected the spirit of compromise being forced by the Western Banks – the questions had been framed deliberately imprecisely. It did not ask the Greek people to consider the option of leaving the Eurozone as such. This allowed the Tsipras government to posture it did “not have a mandate” to reject the harsh terms of the Troika and move Greece to leave the Eurozone.

Inevitably this will lead to a rupture of the Syriza United Front:

“…. Syriza, which is in coalition with the rightwing populist Independent party, is expected to meet huge opposition from within its own ranks and from trade unions and youth groups that viewed the referendum as a vote against any austerity.

Panagiotis Lafazanis, the energy minister and influential hard-leftist, who on Wednesday welcomed a deal for a new €2bn gas pipeline from Russia, has ruled out a new tough austerity package. Lafazanis represents around 70 Syriza MPs who have previously taken a hard line against further austerity measures and could yet wreck any top-level agreement.”

(Phillip Inman, Graeme Wearden and Helena Smith: Guardian Ibid; 9 July 2015)

The concession made by Greece in accepting the further round of “austerity” measures is huge:

“The new proposals include sweeping reforms to VAT to raise 1% of GDP and moving more items to the 23% top rate of tax, including restaurants – a key battleground before. Greece has also dropped its opposition to abolishing the lower VAT rate on its islands, starting with the most popular tourist attractions. Athens also appears to have made significant concessions on pensions, agreeing to phase out solidarity payments for the poorest pensioners by December 2019, a year earlier than planned. It would also raise the retirement age to 67 by 2022. And it has agreed to raise corporation tax to 28%, as the IMF wanted, not 29%, as previously targeted.
Greece is also proposing to cut military spending by €100m in 2015 and by €200m in 2016, and implement changes to reform and improve tax collection and fight tax evasion. It will also press on with privatisation of state assets including regional airports and ports. Some government MPs had vowed to reverse this.
In return, Greece appears to be seeking a three-year loan deal worth €53.5bn…….
Several EU leaders said the troika of creditors – the European commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank – must also make concessions to secure Greece’s future inside the eurozone.
Donald Tusk, who chairs the EU summits, said European officials would make an effort to address Greece’s key request for a debt write-off. …
On Thursday, the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble said the possibility of some kind of debt relief would be discussed over coming days, although he cautioned it may not provide much help.
“The room for manoeuvre through debt reprofiling or restructuring is very small,” he said.
Greece has long argued its debt is too high to be paid back and that the country requires some form of debt relief. The IMF agrees, but key European states such as Germany have resisted the idea…..
German ECB governing council member Jens Weidmann argued Greek banks should not get more emergency credit from the central bank unless a bailout deal is struck.
 He said it was up to eurozone governments and Greek leaders themselves to rescue Greece.
The central bank “has no mandate to safeguard the solvency of banks and governments,” he said in a speech.
The ECB capped emergency credit to Greek banks amid doubt over whether the country will win further rescue loans from other countries. The banks closed and limited cash withdrawals because they had no other way to replace deposits.
Weidmann said he welcomed the fact that central bank credit “is no longer being used to finance capital flight caused by the Greek government.”
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/09/greece-debt-crisis-athens-accepts-harsh-austerity-as-bailout-deal-nears

11. CONCLUSION

At the time of writing the final scenes in the disintegrating Syriza “United Front’ parliament have yet to be played out.

However the shrewdest elements of the non-Marxist-Leninist left recognize that the time is long due, for Greece to exit the European Union to regain its own measure of independence. Many on the left agree that this will be hard.

The leading proponent of this has been Costas Lapavitas – a MP in the Greek Parliament but not a member of Syriza – and radical economist. His view has been put in several books and articles for example these cited here: ([1], Lapvitas, C. Interview with Sebastien Budgen: ‘Greece: Phase Two”; in Jacobin. At https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/03/lapavitsas-varoufakis-grexit-syriza/ [2] Costas Lapavitsas: The Syriza strategy has come to an end’. Interview with Press Project and Der Spiegel; http://www.thepressproject.gr/details_en.php?aid=74530. [3[ The crisis of the Eurozone”, July 10, 2010 ; Greek Left Review. At https://greekleftreview.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/the-crisis-of-the-eurozone/)

Although this view has certainly been challenged (Bach, Paula. “Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas.” Left Voice News Project, at: http://leftvoice.org/Exit-the-Euro-Polemic-with-Greek-Economist-Costas-Lapavitsas).

Marxist-Leninists argue that leaving the imperialist bloc of the EU – would be the correct policy for the working class, peasantry and poor sections of Greece.

When asked on how the Anasintaxi Organization sees the future events, they replied:

“Both reformist parties (“K”KE and SYRIZA) have accepted the Greek capital’s present strategic choice to maintain the country in the EU and the Eurozone… In order to contribute to the growth of the working class struggles and the rise of the revolutionary movement, the Movement for Reorganization of KKE (1918-1955) is striving, under very unfavorable conditions, to achieve the following:

A) Together with the reorganization, the re-birth of KKE (1918-1955) and the ideological-political-organizational unity of the Greek communists on basis of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism and the dissemination of the Marxist conception of socialism-communism;
it actively supports and participates in the struggle of the working class and all the toilers against the reduction of salaries and pensions, against the deterioration of their position in general and supports all demands that aim to defend their (economic, trade-union, social and political) class interests in opposition to the foreign and Greek capital and in particular, the EU monopolies which impose directly the current austerity measures.

B) The formation of united, massive and truly independent trade unions whose aim will be the resistance to the extreme neo-liberal policy of austerity and the further development of the workers’ and people’s struggles combined with the struggle against nationalism-racism-fascism-Nazism (all very dangerous enemies of the working class and the people) as well as “anti-Germanism” and “anti-Hellenism” (the two sides of the bourgeois nationalism) incited, during this period, by the nationalist circles of the two countries. At the same time, these new trade unions will put forward the demand for the exit of the country from the imperialist EU not only because of the increasing dependence and the deterioration of the Greece-EU relations at the expense of our country but also because of the fact that the economic policy and the hard, anti-popular measures are directly imposed by Brussels.

C) The cooperation between the consistent left-wing, anti-imperialist and anti-fascist forces that will aim at the formation of a massive, anti-fascist, popular, front that will fight against the dependence on imperialism, in general, and the exit of Greece from the EU, the Eurozone and NATO.”

(Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization ‘Some questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015. At http://anasintaxi-en.blogspot.ca/2015/02/some-questions-and-answers-about.html

APPENDIX: Select Chronology 1975 to 2015:
Amended from BBC version at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17373216

1975 – New constitution declares Greece a parliamentary republic with some executive powers vested in a president.
1980 – Conservative Constantine Karamanlis elected president.
1981 – Greece joins EU. Andreas Papandreou’s Socialist Party (Pasok) wins elections.
1985 – President Karamanlis resigns in protest at government plans to reduce powers of president. Christos Sartzetakis becomes head of state.
1990 – Centre-right New Democracy party forms government under party leader Constantine Mitsotakis
1993 – Election returns Papandreou to power for PASOK.
2004 March – Conservative New Democracy party led by Costas Karamanlis wins general election, ending over a decade of Pasok government.
2005 April – Parliament ratifies EU constitution.
2005 December – Amid protest strikes by transport workers, parliament approves changes to labour laws, including an end to jobs for life in the public sector. The plans sparked industrial action in June.
2006 March – Public sector workers strike over pay and in protest at government plans to scrap job security laws and intensify privatisation.
2007 September – Minister Karamanlis wins a narrow majority in the poll. He says he now has a mandate for more reforms but also pledges to make national unity a priority.
2008 March – Parliament narrowly passes government’s controversial pension reform bill in face of general public sector strike and mass protests.
2008 December – Students and young people take to city streets in nationwide protests and riots over the police killing of a 15-year-old boy in Athens. Major public-sector strikes coincide to increase pressure on the government over its economic policies.

Economic meltdown
2002 January – Euro replaces drachma.
2004 December – European Commission issues formal warning after Greece found to have falsified budget deficit data in run-up to joining eurozone.
2009 October – Opposition Pasok socialist party wins snap election called by PM Karamanlis. George Papandreou takes over as new prime minister.

Debt crisis
2009 December – Greece’s credit rating is downgraded by one of world’s three leading rating agencies amid fears the government could default on its ballooning debt. PM Papandreou announces programme of tough public spending cuts.
2010 January- March – Government announces two more rounds of tough austerity measures, and faces mass protests and strikes.
2010 April/May – Fears of a possible default on Greece’s debts prompt eurozone countries to approve a $145bn (110bn euros; £91bn) rescue package for the country, in return for a round of even more stringent austerity measures. Trade unions call a general strike.
2011 June – 24-hour general strike. Tens of thousands of protesters march on parliament to oppose government efforts to pass new austerity laws.

Crisis deepens
2011 July – European Union leaders agree a major bailout for Greece over its debt crisis by channelling 109bn euros through the European Financial Stability Facility.
All three main credit ratings agencies cut Greece’s rating to a level associated with a substantial risk of default.
2011 October – Eurozone leaders agree a 50% debt write-off for Greece in return for further austerity measures. PM George Papandreou casts the deal into doubt by announcing a referendum on the rescue package.
2011 November – Faced with a storm of criticism over his referendum plan, Mr Papandreou withdraws it and then announces his resignation.
Lucas Papademos, a former head of the Bank of Greece, becomes interim prime minister of a New Democracy/Pasok coalition with the task of getting the country back on track in time for elections scheduled provisionally for the spring of 2012.

New bailout plan
2012 February – Against a background of violent protests on the streets of Athens, the Greek parliament approves a new package of tough austerity measures agreed with the EU as the price of a 130bn euro bailout.
2012 March – Greece reaches a “debt swap” deal with its private-sector lenders, enabling it to halve its massive debt load.
2012 May – Early parliamentary elections see support for coalition parties New Democracy and Pasok slump, with a increase in support for anti-austerity parties of the far left and right. The three top-ranking parties fail to form a working coalition and President Papoulias calls fresh elections for 17 June. The far-right Golden Dawn party based its 2012 election campaign on hostility towards immigrants
2012 June – Further parliamentary elections boost New Democracy, albeit leaving it without a majority. Leader Antonis Samaras assembles a coalition with third-placed Pasok and smaller groups to pursue the austerity programme.

Anti-austerity protests
2012 September – Trade unions stage 24-hour general strike against government austerity measures. Police fire tear gas to disperse anarchist rally outside parliament.
2012 October – Parliament passes a 13.5bn-euro austerity plan aimed at securing the next round of EU and IMF bailout loans; the package – the fourth in three years – includes tax rises and pension cuts.
2013 January – Unemployment rises to 26.8% – the highest rate in the EU.
2013 April – Youth unemployment climbs to almost 60%.
Public broadcaster closed
2013 June – The government announces without warning that it is suspending the state broadcaster ERT in a bid to save money. The decision gives rise to mass protests and a 24-hour strike.
2013 August – New state broadcaster EDT is launched.
2013 September – Government launches crackdown on far-right Golden Dawn party. Party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and five other Golden Dawn MPs are arrested on charges including assault, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation.
2013 December – Parliament passes 2014 budget, which is predicated on a return to growth after six years of recession. Prime Minister Samaras hails this as the first decisive step towards exiting the bailout.
2014 February – Greek unemployment reaches a record high of 28%.
2014 March – Parliament narrowly approves a big reform package that will open more retail sectors to competition, part of a deal between Greece and its international lenders.
2014 April – Eurozone finance ministers say they’ll release more than 8bn euros of further bailout funds to Greece.
Greece raises nearly four billion dollars from world financial markets in its first sale of long-term government bonds for four years, in a move seen as an important step in the country’s economic recovery.

Left in power
2014 May – Anti-austerity, radical leftist Syriza coalition wins European election with 26.6% of the vote.
2014 December – Parliament’s failure to elect a new president sparks a political crisis and prompts early elections.
2015 January – Alexis Tsipras of Syriza becomes prime minister after winning parliamentary elections, and forms a coalition with the nationalist Independent Greeks party.
2015 February – The government negotiates a four-month extension to Greece’s bailout in return for dropping key anti-austerity measures and undertaking a eurozone-approved reform programme.
2015 June – European Central Bank ends emergency funding. Greece closes banks, imposes capital controls and schedules referendum on European Union bailout terms for 5 July.Government reinstates former state broadcaster ERT as promised in Syriza manifesto.
2015 July – Greece becomes first developed country to miss a payment to the International Monetary Fund, having already delayed it

Alliance (Marxist-Leninist): Ultra-Leftism in Linguistics and the Communist Academy

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The usual picture of J.V. Stalin built up by the bourgeois is usually in the absence of facts. The paradigm built up is internally inconsistent. With respect to science, Stalin both destroyed true biological science by a rigid “Marxist” dogmatism; and he simultaneously destroyed linguistics, the latter because he could not bear to be challenged. However, Stalin’s polemics in linguistics was really an attack upon mechanical application of “Marxist” doctrine. On this there can be no doubt, as this attack is printed widely, and the bourgeoisie have to acknowledge Stalin’s written words. So, to bourgeois academics – How can these statements be both simultaneously true?

Another mutually contradictory view, is that V.I.Lenin and Stalin threw out: “old, established mores of pre-socialist society”; ie. they were philosophical and cultural barbarians towards previous bourgeois advances. Though supposedly, at the same time Stalin actively retarded developments, as he was enslaved by his “monkish” training as a boy.

Actually, ample data tells us that both Lenin and Stain thought, like Marx and Engels, that it was important to extract the best of bourgeois culture (in art and science) and build upon it to develop socialism :

“The old utopian socialists imagined that socialism could be built by men of a new type, that first they would train good, pure and splendidly educated people and these would build socialism. We always laughed at this .. it was playing with puppets, it was socialism as an amusement for your ladies, but not serious politics. We want to build socialism with the aid of those men and women who grew up under capitalism were depraved and corrupted by capitalism, but were steeled for the struggle.. We have bourgeois experts and nothing else. We have no other bricks with which to build.. The masses.. took power.. that is only half the task, but it is the greater half.. The working people are united in such a way as to crush capitalism by the weight of their mass unity. The masses did it. But it is not enough to crush capitalism. We must take the entire culture that capitalism left behind, and build socialism with it. We must take all its science, technology and art. Without these we shall be unable to build communist society. But this science technology and art are in the hands of and in the heads of the experts.. We will convince the bourgeois specialist that they have no alternative, that there will be return to the old society, and that they can do their work only in conjunction with the Communists who are working at their side.. whose object is to ensure that the fruits of bourgeois science and technology, the fruits of thousands of years of civilisation shall be enjoyed not by a handful of persons for the propose of distinguishing themselves and amassing wealth, but by literally all the working people.”

V.Lenin ” From The Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government.” In “On the Intelligentsia”, Moscow, 1983, p.184-196. Collected Works 29: p 68-76.

As usual bourgeois scholars miss the boat by not caring to see the raging class struggle going on in the USSR. Instead all bad things are ascribed to Stalin’s “madness,” or “cruelties.” What is the truth about the views of Stalin upon how science should develop? Some aspects of Lenin and Stalin’s attitude to science are examined in this article.

The conventional wisdom is that Stalin imposed a dogmatic “Communist structured proletarian science.” But in fact Stalin stopped the building of a “Pure Communist” rival to the “Bourgeois” Academy of Sciences:

“Founded in June 1918, the Socialist (later Communist Academy) of Science ultimately developed a small section in the Natural Sciences, and more than one commentator saw it as a rival to the “bourgeois” Academy of Sciences It was never able to compete successfully with the older academy in the natural sciences. In the social sciences it enjoyed a period of flowering in the 20’s, and produced some of the best Marxist scholarship of Soviet history. In a sense, it succeeded too well in this area, since Stalin did not like independent minded marxists offering views on social issues, that might challenge his own. Stalin abolished the Communist Academy in 1936 at the beginning of his mass purges.”

Loren R Graham: “Science In Russia and The Soviet Union”, Cambridge, Mass. 1993, p. 86.

The main academic historian of Soviet science, Loren Graham, alleges that this was because Stalin:

“Did not like independent minded Marxists offering views on social issues that might challenge his own.”

p.86, Ibid, Graham.

But the Communist Academy had developed an anti-Marxist line that was openly (and not by subterfuge as suggested by so much bourgeois literature) fought by Stalin. The direct evidence for this is the attack that Stalin launched upon the Linguistic School, that centred upon the Theories of Marr. Stalin’s attitude to this and the timing of his critique of Marr, are a valuable source of evidence on his reasoning upon science. We examine this in detail below.

The Communist Academy of the Social Science was founded in 1918. E.A.Preobrazhenskii, was a key advocate of The Communist Academy and proclaimed:

“Marxism in Russia is the official ideology of the victorious proletariat; the Socialist Academy is the highest scientific institute of Marxist thought.. It recognises only the branches of socialist science which are anchored in Marxism… the theory of historical materialism is more important for the social sciences than the laws of Kepler and Newton are for physics.”

Cited, Alexander Vucinich, “Empire of Knowledge. The Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1917-1970).” Berkeley, California, 1984. p.81.

The Communist Academy was charged to form views of science and society consistent with Marxism-Leninism. But in reality the Communist Academy became little more than a:

“Library and a debating club, meeting infrequently and suffering from ambivalent goals and internal fragmentation.”

Vucinich, p.81-2.

But, in 1923, it became rather more energized, under the increasing class battles taking place with the various anti-Marxist-Leninist Left Opposition factions. It undertook to:

“Criticise the leading scientists who either displayed philosophical aloofness or opposed Marxist thought. The distinguished members of the Academy of Sciences served as particularly attractive targets for denunciatory attacks.”

Vucinich, Ibid, p.83.

This new approach was consistently an Ultra-Leftist one. This was to take the form of attacks on scientists, not for their science but for their politics. This line was explicitly advocated by L.Trotsky, and a group around N.Bukharin and Preobrazhenskii. It was a line that neither Lenin nor Stalin had adopted, and in fact attacked.

The most prestigious members of the Academy of Sciences at this stage were definitely anti-Marxist, and included V.I.Vernadskii and I.P.Pavlov. Both had expressed their anti-Marxism. The Communist Academy attacked them, and the Academy of Sciences as an institution itself:

“V.I.Vernadskii was accused of flirting with Bergsonian Vitalism and of challenging the notion of the material unity of the universe, firmly built into Marxist ontology.. The famed neurophysiologist I.P.Pavlov was the target of numerous innuendoes depicting him as the mastermind of recurring efforts to make the study of conditioned reflexes the only basis of scientific sociology and social psychology.. M.N.Pokrovskii, President of the Communist Academy made no effort to disguise his view of the Academy of Sciences as a sanctuary of bourgeois thought and an institutional antitheses to Marxist plans for organised research.”

Vucinich, Ibid, p.83

Most bourgeois tendencies allege that an Ultra-Left line towards science (i.e. anti-science line based purely on some alleged “Communist expediency”) was adopted by Stalin. But, the leading intellectual force of the Communist Academy, (as well as Preobrazenskii) was NOT Stalin, but in fact, Leon Trotsky:

“The Communist academy provided a forum for a group of Marxist theorists led by Leon Trotsky, who contended that the excessive worship of Pavlov’s theories worked against the burgeoning efforts to effect a fruitful synthesis of Marxism and Freudianism. Pavlov’s publicly expressed aversion to the use of revolutionary methods as a tool of resolving socials conflict was directed against the political strategy of the Bolshevik party. N.I.Bukharin, a member of the Communist Academy wrote a lengthy article refuting Pavlov’s claims that the October Revolution was a historical anomaly.”

p. 83, Vucinich, Ibid.

Despite this, the Bolshevik Government, (in both the Lenin and Stalin years) protected and aided both Vernadskii and Pavlov in their research. Pavlov in particular was greatly aided in his researches by both Lenin and Stalin after him. Lenin promulgated through the Council of People’s Commissars, a Decree ensuring that Pavlov would receive adequate state support for his work:

“Of tremendous importance to the working people of the world.”

(V.I.Lenin “Concerning The Conditions Ensuring the research Work of Academician I.P.Pavlov and His Associates.” In “On the Intelligentsia.” Ibid, p. 269. From CW Vol 32.p.69).

It is true that Pavlov’s research saw the legitimacy of environmental and organismal interaction, and this was congenial to Marxism-Leninism. But it does not alter the fact that a gifted researcher, though a self proclaimed and openly anti-Marxist, was given full rein to pursue science.

But even the members of the Communist Academy had great difficulty in agreeing how to view modern science from a Marxist perspective. There were two camps. The “Mechanists” led by L.I.Aksel’rod and A.K.Timiriazev and the self styled “Dialecticians”, led by A.M. Deborin. The battle between these two wings drew Stalin’s attention, and that of Vernadskii. The latter was an old “relic” of a scientist, actively still studying. He saw the two orientations from his view of science. He:

“Concluded that the philosophical stance of the (so called) mechanists was more realistic and more in tune with the spirit of twentieth century science. The mechanist orientation he said, was more satisfactory because it was further removed from Hegelian idealism and was closer to 18th Century materialism, which was based on the achievements and the logic of science and did not try to impose its authority on science.”

P. 151, Vucinich.

But Vernadskii was attacked on the grounds that his philosophy contradicted dialectical materialism. This attack was led by Deborin. As Vucinich says:

“That Vernadskii survived the attacks led by Deborin was proof of the willingness of the authorities to tolerate selected established scholars, in the natural sciences, despite demonstrative refusals to make dialectical materialism part of their thinking.”

Vucinich, Ibid, p.152.

Deborin and his backer, Bukharin made other assertions. These included an attack upon Lenin, that alleged that Lenin was a man of action and not one of theory. Stalin identified the views of the Deborin group as an expression of “Menshevizing Idealism.” If that is so, there is a greater significance in Deborin’s attacks on Vernadskii. Not for the first time, it became obvious that simply using the terms Dialectical Materialism in an analysis did not make it dialectical, nor yet materialist! Obviously, Stalin cannot have supported attacks launched upon Vernadskii.

The CC of the CPSU(B), at that time still under the control of Marxist-Leninists, openly counter-attacked against Deborin in the theoretical journal : “Under the Banner of Marxism”:

“The organ defended the “general party line” and fought the two categories of philosophical deviationism:
‘the mechanical revision of Marxism, as the main danger at the present time, and the idealistic distortions of Marxism by the Deborin group.’
Deborin quickly admitted his errors.. particularly his ‘unsupportable’ assertion that while Plekhanov was primarily a theorist, Lenin was first of all ‘ a practical person, a revolutionary, and a leader.'”

Vucinich, Ibid, p. 151.

Deborin and his ally N.I.Bukharin then tried to make amends for their false characterisation of Lenin as being a man of action, and not a theorist. For instance at the 10th anniversary of Lenin’s death in 1923, both gave major eulogies of Lenin stressing his theoretical acumen. For Bukharin, this was the first time he had publicly credited Lenin for his theoretical contributions.

Despite this, the Communist Academy, continued to develop an Ultra-leftist line on several issues. M.B.Mitin later became a key proponent of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, the main protagonist in the Biology Debates of a crude Reductionist Marxism. But at this earlier stage, Mitin became a leading “interpreter” of the relevance of dialectics to natural science. The thrust he used was to emphasise Lenin’s view in “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism,” that “too much mathematics” was equivalent to “formalism.” (Vucinich, Ibid, p. 154).

Here a new tactic was used. Later it became a more conscious strategy – one of hiding behind a Personalty Cult. Here the Cult was that of Lenin, later this would be of Stalin. This tactic would be to enshrine a view, and take it completely out of context to justify its application to unwarranted situations. For clearly Lenin, the author of “Empirio-criticism”; had not had any fundamental objections to mathematicians!

BUT, IF IT IS TRUE THAT THE COMMUNIST ACADEMY WAS AN ULTRA-LEFTIST ORGANISATION, AIMED ULTIMATELY AT DISCREDITING MARXISM-LENINISM, WHAT PROOF IS THERE OF THIS ASSERTION? WHAT WAS STALIN’S ATTITUDE TO THE COMMUNIST ACADEMY?

Luckily, we do have a very good “Test Case.” Firstly in 1938 the Communist Academy was closed, this of itself suggests a lack of support from the Politburo. But the real “test case” actually developed as an Ultra-Leftist line, emanating from within the Communist Academy. This specific Test Case, is the school of linguistics, built up within the Communist academy. Stalin critiqued it in “Marxism and Problems of Linguistics.” Stalin’s text is very far from a doctrinaire and shrill attack on a “Classless” science. In fact the pamphlet is a sharp attack on the mindless, mechanical and formal introduction of Class issues into a scientific debate on the origins of languages.

This trend had been started by N.Ia.Marr (also translated as N.Y.Marr), who was a member of the Academy of Science from 1912-1934 when he died. In 1930 he became a party member and in 1931 became a member of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and achieved the Lenin medal for achievement in science.

“Because of certain rudimentary similarities between his views and Marxist theory, Communist scholars were quickly accustomed to treating his theory as Marxist linguistics. Marxists were attracted to his Japhetic theory, which sought a common base for Caucasian and Semitic languages, and for all languages of the world – the ideas of common origins and evolutionary unilinearity having been firmly built into Marr’s thought and into Stalin’s internationalism of the 1930’s.”

Vucinich, Ibid, p.185.

This development was fostered and directly supported by the Communist Academy. Its President, Pokrovskii ensured that N.Ia Marr was made a member of the Communist Academy and became head of the subsection “of materialistic linguistics.” Pokrovskii’s commitment was emphatic:

“As stated correctly by a Leningrad comrade, Marr’s theory must recognise Marxism as its general philosophical and sociological base and Marxism must recognise the Japhetic theory as its special linguistic division.”

Cited, Vucinich A, Ibid. p.186.

WHAT WAS MARR’S THEORY, AND WHAT DID STALIN THINK OF IT? IN EXAMINING MARR, WE HERE TEST TWO OVERALL ASSUMPTIONS.

FIRSTLY How “rigid” was Stalin on his application of principles of dialectical materialism to a general scientific problem?
SECONDLY, how “rigid” was Stalin in conceding that in science there has to be back and forth, debate, full intellectual cut and thrust?

The discourse “Concerning Problems in Linguistics,” was written in the form of questions from “younger comrades’, and Stalin’s responses. Stalin had been approached by students to enter the debate.

As regards the behaviour of debate and academic back and forth by scientists in science, Stalin was quite clear. It must be remembered that this work was originally published in Pravda in 1950. This timing is significant, for it came after T.D.Lysenko effectively and exclusively ruled the roost in genetics. In other words, Stalin’s words in linguistics, are pertinent to understanding how he may, or may not have supported Lysenko:

“Question: Did Pravda act rightly in starting an open discussion on problems of linguistics?

Answer: Yes it did. It has been brought out in the first place that in linguistic bodies, both in the center and in the republics a regime has prevailed which is alien to science and men of science. The slightest criticism of the state of affairs in Soviet Linguistics, even the most timid attempt to criticize the so-called “new doctrine” in linguistics, was persecuted and suppressed by the leading linguistic circles. Valuable workers and researchers in linguistics were dismissed from their posts or demoted for being critical of N.Y.Marr’s heritage or expressing the slightest disapproval of his teachings. Linguistic scholars were appointed to leading posts not on their merits, but because of their unqualified acceptance of N.Y.Marr’s theories.”

“It is generally recognised that no science can develop and flourish without a battle of opinions, without freedom of criticism, But this generally recognised rule was ignored and flouted in the most unceremonious fashion. There arose a closed group of infallible leaders, who having secured themselves against any possible criticism became a law unto themselves and did whatever they pleased.”

Stalin, J.V. “Concerning Marxism in Linguistics”, Contained in Stalin, J.V. “Marxism and Problems of Linguistics,” Foreign languages Press, Peking, 1972, p.29-30.

In the same section, Stalin states that besides exposing the fact that there was an extremely unhealthy climate in linguistics (‘a Regime’), there was a second reason why it was good to ventilate these issues openly. This was in order to clarify the controversial areas, from the scientific point of view:

“The usefulness of the discussion does not end here. It not only smashed the old regime in linguistics but also brought out the incredible confusion of ideas on cardinal question of linguistics which prevails among the leading circle in this branch of science. Until the discussion began, the “disciples” of N.Y.Marr kept silence and glossed over the unsatisfactory state of affairs in linguistics. But when the discussion started silence became impossible and they were compelled to express their opinion in the press. And what did we find? It turned out that in N.Y.Marr’s teachings there are a number of defects, errors, ill-defined problems and sketchy propositions. Why, one asks, have N.Y.Marr’s “disciples” begun to talk about this only now, after the discussion opened ? Why did they not see to it before? Why did they not speak about it in due time openly and honestly, as befits scientists?”

J.V.Stalin, Ibid, p.31.

In the same section Stalin points out that, Marr’s status was such, that any mundane words of Marr’s were considered valuable holy writ. So much so, that when even the author Marr himself discredits one of his own textbooks, his followers insisted on its use! It is very obvious how this enshrining of a view can take a knife to that independence of thought crucial for aspiring Marxist-Leninists. Stalin saw the potential for mischief (Sabotage):

“If I were not convinced of the integrity of Comrade Meschaninov and the other linguistic leaders I would say that such conduct is tantamount to sabotage.”

Stalin, p.30, Ibid.

But what leads to this rather unhappy and unscientific state of affairs?

“How could this have happened? It happened because the Arakcheyv regime established in linguistics, cultivates irresponsibility and encourages such arbitrary actions.”

Stalin, Ibid, p. 30.

Arakcheyv was a:

“Reactionary politician Count Arakcheyev, responsible for an unrestrained, dictatorial police state warlord despotism and brutal rule enforced in Russia in the first quarter of the 19th century.”

Editors notes to J.V.S. Edition (Peking) cited above, p.55.

BUT THEN HOW ARE WE TO CHARACTERISE MARR, ACCORDING TO STALIN?

“Save us from N.Y.Marr’s “Marxism”! N.Y.marr did indeed want to be, and endeavoured to become, a Marxist, but he failed to become one. He was nothing but a simplifier and vulgarizer of Marxism, similar to the “proletcultist’ or the ‘Rappists.'”

Stalin, Ibid, p. 31.

Who were the ‘proletcult’ (also spelt Proletkul’t) or the ‘Rappists’?

They were organisations that represented the views of the visual artists and writers respectively, who were trying to define their role in the revolution. Their big debate was whether any of the “Old cultures” (ie Rembrandt or Tolstoy or medieval church icons etc) had any relevance to socialist life in the Soviet Union. The tendency towards Ultra-Leftism , exemplified with the attitudes of poet and artist, Vladamir Mayakovsky (“Out with the Old”) was dominant.

Both Bukharin, and A.Lunarcharsky were in contradiction with that of Lenin, upon the Proletkul’t, and the issues of whether a new separate proletarian culture could be evolved without recourse to the structure of previous “bourgeois culture.” Thus Lenin had to soothe Buhkarin, and tried to win him to a compromise when Bukharin refused to attend the Congress of the Communist Group at the First All Russian Congress of Proletkul’t, October 5-12 1920.

[Editor : Please see a fuller “Note On RAPP and The Proletkul’t”, Below (p.19)].

The general relationship of The Communist Academy to Proletkul’t, lay in their common Ultra-Left wing approach to the intelligentsia; and their applications of a mechanical simplistic reductionist “Marxism,” and not a dialectical understanding. In this Marr was characteristic.

Wherein did Marr’s Ultra-Left errors lie?

“N.Y.Marr introduced into linguistics another and also incorrect and non-Marxist formula regarding the “class character”of language,and got himself into a muddle and put linguistics into a muddle. Soviet linguistics cannot be advanced on the basis of an incorrect formula which is contrary to the whole course of the history of peoples and languages.”

Stalin, Ibid, p. 31.

Moreover Marr’s style was repugnant:

“Marr introduced into linguistics an immodest boastful, arrogant, tone alien to Marxism and tending toward a bald and off-hand negation of everything done in linguistics prior to Marr.
Marr shrilly abused the comparative historical method as “idealistic”. Yet it must be said that, despite its serious shortcomings the comparative-historical method is nevertheless better than Marr’s really idealistic four-element analysis, because the former gives a stimulus to work, and the latter only gives a stimulus to loll in one’s arm-chair and tell fortunes in the tea-cup of the celebrated four elements…
To listen to Marr, and especially to his disciples, one might think that there was no such thing as the science of language, that the science of language appeared with the “new doctrine” of Marr. Marx and Engels were much more modest: they held that their dialectical materialism was a product of the development of the sciences, including philosophy, in earlier periods.”

Stalin, Ibid, p. 31-2.

Stalin did not reject all that Marr said:

“Of course the works of Marr do not consist solely of errors. Marr made very gross mistakes when he introduced into linguistics elements of Marxism in a distorted form, when he tried to create an independent theory of language, But Marr had certain good and ably written works, in which he, forgetting his theoretical claims, conscientiously and one must say, skilfully investigates individual languages, In these works one can find not a little that is valuable and instructive. Clearly these valuable and instructive things should be taken from Marr and utilized.”

Stalin, “Concerning Certain Problems of Linguistics, Reply to Comrade E.Krasheninnikova,” Contained in “Marxism and Problems of Linguistics,” Peking, Ibid, p.39

We have examined how Stalin viewed Marr, and what he at least said about the scientific method-the “clash of opinions.” There is not a little here that reminds one forcibly about the tone of the Biology debates undertaken by Lysenko.

To illustrate that Stalin was not a crude “Reducer to Class Reality,” we have to discuss his actual concrete objections to the Japhetic School of Marr.

BY UNDERSTANDING THIS, WE SEE THAT STALIN DID NOT ADVOCATE A CRUDE “MARXIST LEVELLING”:

Firstly Marr, argued that language was a “superstructure on the base.” This was a mechanical translation of the Marxist view that all the phenomena of a class society reflect the underlying economic structures:

“Question :Is it true that Language is a superstructure of the base?

Answer : No, it is not true. The base is the economic structure of society as the given stage of its development. The superstructure us the political, legal, religious, artistic, philosophical views of society and the political legal and other institutions corresponding to them.

Every base has its own corresponding superstructure, the base of the feudal system has its superstructure its political legal or other views, and the corresponding institutions; the capitalist base has its own superstructure, so has the socialist base.

In this respect language radically differs from the superstructure. Take for example, Russian society and the Russian language. In the course of the past 30 years the old capitalist base has been eliminated in Russia and a new socialist base has been built. Correspondingly the superstructure on the capitalist base has been eliminated and a new superstructure created corresponding to the socialist base.. But in spit of this the Russian language has remained basically what it was before the October Revolution.. Language is not a product of one base or another, old or new within the given society, but of the whole course of history of the society and of the history of the bases for many centuries.. Language was created for by some by one class, but by the entire society, by the hundred of generations.”

Stalin, Ibid, p. 3-6.

Secondly Marr argued that there were class languages, and now there was a “proletarian” languages pitched against a “bourgeois” language:

“Question: Is it true that language always was and is class language, that there is no such thing as language which is the single and common language of a society, a non-class language common to the whole people?

Answer: “The first mistake is that…our comrade are confusing language with superstructure…since the superstructure has a class character, language too must be a class language, and not a language common to the whole people.

The Second mistake of these comrades is that they conceive the opposition of interests of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and the fierce class struggle between them as meaning the disintegration of society, as a break of all ties between the hostile classes. They believe that since society has disintegrated and there is no longer a single society, but only classes, a single language of society, a national language, is unnecessary. If society has disintegrated and there is no longer a language common to the whole people, a national language, what remains? There remain classes and ‘class languages.’ Naturally every ‘class language’ will have its own ‘class’ grammar- a ‘proletarian’ grammar or a ‘bourgeois’ grammar.

True such grammars do not exist anywhere. But that does not worry these comrades: they believe that such grammars will appear in due course.

At one time there were ‘Marxists’ in our country who asserted that the railways left to us after the October Revolution were bourgeois railways, that it would be unseemly for us Marxists to use them, that they should be torn up and new ‘proletarian’ railways built. For this they were nicknamed ‘troglodytes.'”

Stalin, Ibid, p.16-7

Finally on Marr’s mechanical insistence that there were “stages” in language development, Stalin was equally blunt:

“It is said that the theory that languages develops by stages is a Marxist theory, since it recognises the necessity of sudden explosions as a condition for the transition for a language from an old reality to a new. This is of course untrue for it is difficult to find anything resembling Marxism in this theory.. Marxism does not recognise sudden explosions in the development of languages, the sudden end of an existing language, and the sudden erection of a new language. Lafargue was wrong when he spoke of a sudden “linguistic revolution” which took place between 1789 and 1794 in France (See Lafargue’s pamphlet The French Language Before and After the Revolution). There was not a linguistic revolution, let alone a sudden one, in France at that time.. Marxism holds that transition for a language from an old quality to a new does not take place by way of an explosion, of the destruction for an existing language and the certain of a new one, but by the gradual accumulation of the elements of the new quality and hence by the gradual dying away of the elements of the old quality.”

“It should be said in general for the benefit of comrades who have an infatuation for explosions that the law of transitions from an old quality to a new by means of an explosion is inapplicable not only to the history of the development of languages; it is not always applicable to other social phenomena of a base or superstructural character. It applies of necessity to a society divided into hostile classes. But it does not necessarily apply to a society which has no hostile classes.”

Stalin, Ibid, p. 27.

Finally why did Stalin feel that he could so sharply pin down the weaknesses of Marr? It was not the case for biology. But the debates in biology; and their terms paralleled well the Linguistics Debate, upon which Stalin came out with a written piece, that exposed the shallowness of the hitherto “Linguistics Debate.” Furthermore, these polemics, upon Linguistics, are not after all, like the common image painted by the bourgeois. You know the sort of thing, “subtle, quietly intelligent, devious – quiet in public, stab you dead in the dark sort of thing.”

Even the line the polemics describe, is counter to the view that the bourgeois paint. Instead of the crude Marxist Levelling that bourgeoisie accuse him of, Stalin upholds a much more visionary view. After all, what could be more plain to a “Marxist” than that everything in society is a product of class warfare? The same bourgeois and Trotskyites, who castigate Stalin’s understanding of philosophy as “Class Reductionist” cannot explain his refusal to jump onto Marr’s bandwagon. This would appear to be a “perfect bandwagon,” from the standpoint of the usual Paradigm set up by the bourgeois academics.

Obviously, Stalin was enabled to put into print an attack upon Ultra-Leftism in the science of Linguistics because some students had the good sense to approach him for direction. But it cannot be irrelevant that one of his first theoretical books had been : “Marxism and the National Question.” Indeed it had been this book written in 1913, that had first attracted Lenin’s attention to Stalin. One could be forgiven for guessing that this work, allowed Stalin the critical scientific insight into the technicalities that allowed him to open an attack.

In biology, he may not have had the critical insights. But he could see the debate as an important debate, that was proceeding. The complexity of this debate was staggering; both “sides” had good points. The same issues (environment versus heredity) continue to plague honest and principled scientists now. Stalin probably realised this. Not being an “expert,” Stalin commissioned assessments, from specialists in the biological field such as Sukachev. Ultimately Lysenkoism as a crude unthinking “application” of dialectics to biology was reductionist and destructive.

The linguistics debate makes clear Stalin’s opposition to an anti-scientific approach to technical questions; and Stalin’s insistence that only “applications of dialectics” will explain the facts. As opposed to this was the reductionist view that “dialectics came first and then come the facts.” As Stalin says in the linguistics debate, there is a relationship between that latter incorrect view, and sabotage.

NOTE : AN ADDENDUM ON PROLETKUL’T (See P. above)

Both Proletkul’t, and RAPP were Ultra-Leftist organisations for the visual arts, and writing respectively. Both provoked Lenin’s disapproval on aesthetics, and their ultra-leftist insistence of “out with the old.” For example Lenin explicitly did not support abstractionism in art and expressly countered movements like the Futurists (supported by Proletkul’t). These movements, always popular amongst the “avant garde” Art For Art Sake-ists in the West, were highly abstractionist in their art, and their view of what “the masses needed.” All this, ultimately led to an open disagreement between the Minister for Culture A.Lunarcharsky and Lenin.

The latter viewed the Futurists and the like tendencies as being generally positive. At the First Proletkul’t Congress in 1920, Lunarcharsky attempted to downplay the role of the State apparatuses like the Education commissariat, in ensuring that the Ultra-Left tendencies of Proletkul’t did not go unrestricted.

In an open rebuke, Lenin proposed a Draft Resolution. Points One and Two, emphasised the leading role of the workers and peasants in creating socialism; and therefore the leading role of the vanguard Communist Party in pubic education. The Third point pointed out that history had vindicated the Marxist world outlook.

The 4th and 5th points emphasised that all culture had to be absorbed, and that the State Apparatuses had to be the final arbiters of public education :

“4. Marxism has won its historic significance as the ideology of the revolutionary proletariat because, far from rejecting the most valuable achievements of the bourgeois epoch, it has, on the contrary assimilated and refashioned everything of value in the more than 2,000 years of the development of the human thought and culture. Only further work in this basis and in this direction, inspired by the practical experience of the proletarian dictatorship as the final stage in the struggle against every form of exploitation can be recognised as the development of a genuine proletarian culture.”

“5. Adhering unswervingly to this stand of principle, the All Russia Congress of Proletkul’t rejects in the most resolute manner, as theoretically unsound and practically harmful, all attempts to invent one’s own particular brand of culture, to remain isolated is self-contained organisations, to draw a line dividing the field of work of the Peoples’ Commissariat of Education and the Proletkul’t, or to set up a Proletkul’t “autonomy” within establishments, under the People’s Commissariat of Education and so forth. On the contrary the Congress enjoins all Proletkul’t organisations to fully consider themselves in duty bound to act as auxiliary bodies o the network of establishments under the People’s Commissariat of Education, and to accomplish their tasks under the general guidance of the Soviet Authorities (Specifically the People’s Commissariat of Education) and of the Russian Communist Party, as part of the tasks of the proletarian dictatorship.”

V.Lenin CW: Vol 31, Moscow, 1966-86. p.316-7.

Buhkarin had refused to speak at the Congress, following Lenin’s draft resolution, as above. Bukharin’s grounds for refusal were that he would be in disagreement with Lenin on various issues, especially Point 4 of Lenin’s draft Resolution “On Proletarian Culture ” (See above). However, Lenin tried to assuage Bukharin’s refusal with the following note:

“Why now dwell on the differences between us (perhaps possible ones), it suffices to state (and prove) on behalf of the Central Committee as a whole:
1. Proletarian culture = communism.
2. Is carried out by the RCP (ie the party-ed).
3. The proletar.class = RCP=Soviet power.
We are all agreed on this, aren’t we?”

V.Lenin Oct. 11th, 1920. In CW. Moscow, 1944 Vol 44. p.445.

The Draft Resolution of Lenin was adopted by the Congress of Proletkul’t.

Source

Alliance Marxist-Leninist: Chechnya, Oil and the Divided Russian Capitalist Class

chechnya

INDEX

1. INTRODUCTION. 4

1. THE WAR ITSELF – MUTINY OF THE GENERALS 5

2. WHAT LIES BEHIND THIS WAR ? THE OIL BACKGROUND 8

3.VIEW OF STALIN VERSUS KHRUSHCHEV AND VOSNOSENSKY UPON INDUSTRY 9

4. DIVISIONS INSIDE THE USSR CAPITALIST CLASS SINCE STALIN 15

5. THE ERA OF GORBACHEV AND YELTSIN 21

6. THE CRASH OF THE ROUBLE 22

 1. INTRODUCTION

The nation of CHECHNEYA, under the former socialist state of the USSR, enjoyed full national rights up to and including the right of secession. This lasted until the German invasion of Soviet USSR in 1941, when part of the Chechen-Ingush people allied themselves with the German fascists. For that reason, a correct policy of transportation of the rebels away from the Front, was undertaken (See forthcoming reprint of address to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland; Alliance 14). Following the war, full national rights were restored and Chechnya-Ingush was once more part of the Soviet Socialist Federation of Republics.

The democratic government of Chechnya-Ingush stated its wishes for autonomy in 1991. Since then, they have endured attacks by troops of the Russian Federation. Recently, this “hidden war” became a full scale vicious assault, led by Boris Yeltsin‘s Russian Government, against the Chechen Government. Yet the Chechen Government and its peoples led by General Dzokar Dudayev, have waged a determined and resolute battle of self-defence. The Chechen bravery is only matched by the relentless bombardments of the Russian invading army. In the midst of a brutal war, once more, the utter bankruptcy of Yeltsin’s regime is exposed.

BUT THE CONDUCT OF THIS WAR, SHOWS THAT THERE IS AN OPEN CONFLICT WITHIN THE RULING CLASS OF RUSSIAN CAPITALISTS. WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR THIS DIFFERENCE?

Even during Stalin’s lifetime, hidden revisionists advocated a shift away from emphasis on heavy industry. Stalin successfully defeated these hidden revisionists led by Khrushchev. But after his death, the division between advocates of Heavy industry on one side; and advocates of Light industry on the other, took on the character of a battle between two sections of the capitalist class. There remains now a fundamental division of interests in the Russian capitalist class, between capitalists based in heavy industry, and capitalists based in light industry. The detailed evidence for this is presented below.

This article tries to answer the following questions:

“Yeltsin must have had some reasons to launch this war. What were these?”

“What explains the divisions between the army and Yeltsin?”

“What is the nature of the open conflict between Yeltsin and his capitalist opponents?”

“What is the meaning of this for the working class of Russia and the other nations?” and,

“What is the attitude of Marxist-Leninist to Chechenya?

1. THE WAR ITSELF – MUTINY OF THE GENERALS

Marxist-Leninists recognise that the Army is part of the “armed might” of the state itself. If so we must explain the :

“Near-mutiny in the upper ranks of the army.. at least half a dozen senior generals and probably many more have refused to fight in Chechnya or give their support to the campaign there.. those who have signalled open dissent are high-profile, sometimes politically active and popular men in their early middle years.”

Financial Times, London UK. Dec 31/1 Jan, 1995. p.7.

In this mutiny, Major General Ivan Babichev, refused to fire on the people of Grozny.

THE CURRENT MUTINY OF THE ARMY GENERALS, AGAINST THE WAR IS DUE TO THREE FACTORS:

i) A Proletarian refusal to fire upon the people.

Some generals probably are genuinely moved by the plight of the people; and refuse to fire as an international proletarian duty.

ii) A Military and strategic refusal to engage.

Some generals realise that the war cannot be won in this manner. High echelons of Army elsewhere, like senior Commanders in the British army see Major General Ivan Babichev’s behaviour as follows:

“I think he knew they were going about the operation entirely the wrong way and he didn’t have the means to complete the task, “One said.. “Tanks and armoured vehicles are almost useless in fighting in built up areas, said a British general who helped devise NATO tactics for the defence of Berlin during the Cold War.”

Daily Telegraph, London, UK, reprinted Globe and Mail, Toronto, 3.1.95. p.A9.

BUT THERE IS A THIRD REASON WHY THE ARMY IS IN MUTINY:

iii) An Inter-Capitalist battle aimed at Yeltsin.

The army and its advocates, benefit largely from the advocates of heavy industry. Part of the army’s refusal is, explained by the lining up of the army with the scions of heavy industry based capitalists in Russia.

THE OBJECTIVE OF THE MUTINY WAS TO HUMILIATE YELTSIN AND LEAD HIS GOVERNMENT INTO A SERIOUS CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE IN ITS CONTINUATION.

THE TACTICS OF THE ARMY GENERALS IN RELATION TO THIS WAR WERE :

First to lure Yeltsin into a seeming “short lived war”. Obviously Yeltsin was led to believe that a military venture would be a short lived and “un-costly” war in terms of Russian dead and political consequences.

Second; to then refuse his directions when the war was palpably failing.

Third; to refuse to disengage when he ordered to do so. After foreign pressure was brought to bear following the brutal air bombing, Yeltsin was compelled to order the troops to stop bombing. Yet this order has been repeatedly ignored:

“Mr. Yeltsin demanded to know why the bombing of Grozny was not stopped when he ordered it at end last week. He has now ordered two bombing halts, and.. the artillery assault on the city has never been heavier. Looking directly at Mr. Grachev, he said : “I want to hear absolutely precise information from the Defense Minister (Mr. Grachev).”

New York Times, 7.1.95; p.1-4.

Reasons offered for ignoring Yeltsin’s orders have been clearly insubordinate, but have mainly hinged on military imperatives :

Col Gen.Pavel S.Grachev, commander of Russia’s airborne troops – said :”Once we’ve launched the operation we must finish it. There is no way back.”

New York Times, New York, 7.1.95. p.4.

Yevgeny Podkolzin, commander of Russia’s airborne troops in Chechnya, said the President’s order would cause serious problems for Russian soldiers inside Grozny.. If “Bombings stop, men from each window and basement and from behind each corner will fire at our soldiers..” He warned that it could take the military until the end of January to capture Grozny. Instead of storming the city, the military should have simply surrounded it and blockaded it, he said. But he added: “Once we have launched this operation, we must finish it. There is no way back”.

Globe and Mail, Toronto, 7.1.95. p. A11.

The results for Mr. Yeltsin to date are depressingly clear, he is “between rock and a hard place”:

“Mr Yeltsin finds himself caught between two clear dangers: the political and moral cost of pressing on militarily in Chechnya, and the political and strategic cost of giving up.. it seems he has decided that the costs of giving up are worse for himself and the country than pressing ahead.”

New York Times, 7.1.95.; p.4.

IN FACT THE OVERALL OBJECTIVES OF THE ARMY GENERALS’ MUTINY APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFULLY ACHIEVED:

“The economic and personal costs of the war continued to mount. Russian newspapers and agencies have estimated Russian casualties in the fighting to date at anywhere between 256 to more than 1000. Another victim is the Russian currency, which has fallen 2.7% over the last two days to a rate of 3,661 roubles to the dollar. The Russian central bank, which estimates has spent at least $200 million over the past 2 days to prevent a larger fall, raised its key re-financing rate to a nine month high of 200 %, up from 180%. “The Russian economy has started to feel the consequences of the Chechen crisis,” Mr. Alexander Livshits, the president’s chief economic adviser said.. warning of inflationary pressures.”

Financial Times, London, 7.1.95. p.26.

“The economy is suffering.. the expense threatens to blow a hole in a budget designed to be tough.. it is a critical time. The budget depends on a phased series of loans from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The stabilisation of the currency- the main aims of the loan- depends in its turn on making the budget even tougher than that approved by the state duma, parliaments’ lower house this month. Moreover the government will have to stick to its budgeted targets. Last year it squandered opportunities for economic reform by printing money when the going got rough..Mr. Yeltsin humbled his Government after “Black Tuesday” in October, when the rouble lost a quarter of its value against the hard currencies. This re-established his pre-eminence, but no international financial institution or government will now find it a stabilisation programme credible unless they also believe he is committed to it. At present however, he is committed only to wining in Chechnya.”

Financial Times, London, 1.1.95, p.7

Mr. Yegor Gaidar, until recently a staunch ally of Yeltsin’s, warned of a military coup:

“There is a great danger of a military coup.” Russian democracy has never been shakier since the break up of the Soviet Union. Mr. Gaidar who broke with the President over the Chechnya policy, called events there “a massive military crime.” He urged Mr. Yeltsin to get rid of those “who pushed him into this adventure,”, including Defense Minister Pavel S. Grachev; Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai D. Yegoroav and Oleg Lobov, the secretary of the National Security Council.”

New York Times, 4.1.95. pA1-A6.

It is precisely because the foreign imperialists see their man, Yeltsin, under such intense difficulties; that they give him advice. This advice consists on the whole to stop the battle in Chechnya to search for a negotiated settlement. These efforts are led by France and Germany, and would use “experts” from the Organisations for Security and Cooperation In Europe (OSCE) (New York Times 4.1.95, p.A1). The USA also concedes Yeltsin’s mistakes, but continues to fully support Yeltsin as “their man”, also urging Yeltsin to use the OSCE (NY Times, 7.1.95. p.A4). In fact, the international imperialists have not criticised Yeltsin’s basic stand of denial of national rights to Chechnya. Thus President Clinton:

“Reiterated his Administration’s support for Russia’s unity and territorial integrity and its opposition to any attempt to change the international border by force.”

New York Times, 7.1.95. p.A4.

2. WHAT LIES BEHIND THIS WAR ? THE OIL BACKGROUND

Data from recent trade negotiations over oil indicate something is more at stake in Chechnya than simple autonomy. Azerbaijan, itself a victim of recent aggression launched by Russian imperialist forces, tried to exert national rights. The suppression of these rights was directly linked to the oil reserves. Prospects of oil prompted fervent bargaining by Russian capitalists with foreign imperialism. But the deal cut, antagonised a section of the Russian capitalist class, enough to spur them on to struggle with foreign imperialism:

“A leaked letter sent by Andrei Kozyrev, Russia’s Foreign Minister to Viktor Chernomyrdin, his prime minister, reveals that Russia plans to prevent Western oil companies from going ahead with a $8Bn (PS 5bn) agreement to exploit offshore field in the Caspian The agreement advertised as “the deal of the century”, was signed by Azerbaijan and a consortium of Western oil companies led by British petroleum.. Mr. Kozyrev stresses the importance of Russia retaining its share of the Caspian reserves.. and proposes that Russia will impose economic sanctions on Azerbaijan if it does not back down.. Russia is unlikely to retreat because the way it deals with Azerbaijan sets a precedent for Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the two other republics with long Caspian coast lines and growing oil industries.”

The Independent; London UK; 3.11.94. p.14

This agreement would link the British owned British Petroleum, owning 30% of shares; with the US Oil companies of Pennzoil and Amoco which together holding 40% of shares; and Azerbaijan’s Socar Company holding 20%, and Russian owned Lukoil owning 10%. The Carnegie Endowment For International Peace commented :

“If the Russians throw a monkey wrench in the oil deal there will be a strong reaction here in Washington because so much money is involved.” A diplomat said : “It shows Russia will not allow any of the ex-Soviet states to move towards full economic independence.”

Independent, Ibid, 3.11.94. p.14.

The War in Chechneya shows that this interpretation is correct.

BUT WHO IS MR. CHERNOMYRIDIN, THE PRIME MINISTER,

AND WHY DOES THE ABOVE CONCERN CHECHNYA?

“The oil and gas lobby is very powerful with Mr. Viktor Chernomyridin, former head of Gazprom, as prime minister. Ensuring that oil and gas from Central Asia is transported to Europe via Russian pipelines and ports is an obsession. the main oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the oil export harbour of Novorossiisk passes through Chechnya.. at stake is.. control over the main rail, road and gas rich Caspian sea and the central Asian republics.”

Financial Times, London, UK, 7-8.1.95. p.2.

Thus, Chechnya is critical as a conduit for the oil reservs of the Caspian coastal areas. Naturally Chernomyridin has financial interests stemming from his previous job, to protect. But, to fully understand the complexity of the stands taken by Chernomyridin, Kozyrev and the other new Russian ruling capitalists, we have to understand their class positions.

3. WHAT LIES BEHIND THIS WAR ? THE BATTLES BETWEEN HEAVY AND LIGHT INDUSTRY ADVOCATES

i) Under Socialism : View of Stalin Versus Khrushchev and Vosnosensky Upon Industry

There is a basic difference between two types of industry.

The split is between Heavy (Marx’s Department A) and Light (Marx’s Department B). This, split, is an important consideration for the development of a country’s industrial, and economic independence. As Stalin said:

“We must maintain the present rate of development of industry; we must at the first opportunity speed it up in order to pour goods into the rural areas and obtain more grain from them, to supply agriculture, and primarily the collective farms and state farms, with machines, so as to industrialise agriculture and to increase the proportion of its output for the market. Should we perhaps, for the sake of greater “caution”, retard the development of heavy industry so as to make light industry, which produces chiefly for the peasant market, the basis of our industry? Not under any circumstances! That would be.. suicidal; it would mean abandoning the slogan of industrialising our country, it would mean transforming our country into an appendage of the world capitalist system of economy.”

Stalin J.V.S. 28 May, 1928. “Speech to the Institute of Red Professors, On the Grain Front”, ‘Works’, Volume 11, Moscow 1954, p.98.

Stalin was arguing here, mainly against Nikolai Bukharin, who had argued that the economic measures proposed by Stalin were:

“A disastrous going over to the Trotskyist positions.” An industrialisation based on the “impoverishment of the country, the degradation of agriculture, and the squandering of reserves.”

Stephen F.Cohen, “Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution A Political Biography 1888-1938″, Oxford, 1980, p.306.

Nonetheless, a successful industrialisation was achieved leading to the establishment of socialism in 1936. But hidden revisionism later resurrected the Bukharin line, in its new life under Khrushchev. Khrushchev and allies wished to reintroduce profit as a regulator of production. Moreover they wished to place more emphasis on increasing the availability of consumer goods. This of necessity, would lead to a dominance of consumer based industry – or light industry, over heavy industry. The countryside became one focus of this sharp conflict, and took the form that:

“Some members of the Politburo.. urged that the traditional course be modified in the direction of increased reliance on economic levers.. and relaxation of central controls over kolkhozes.. this was current among leaders.. like.. Voznosensky.. and Khrushchev.. and opposed by Malenkov and Beria.”

Sidney Ploss Conflict and Decision Making in Soviet Russia. A case study of agricultural policy 1953-1963. Princeton, 1965. p.28.

The general line of Khrushchev in the countryside was completely in keeping with Vosnosensky‘s own stated views. Thus Vosnosensky had allied with a wing of economists and party officials who wished to relax the planning priority for Department A goods:

Vosnosensky, Mikoyan, Kosygin and Rodionov came in 1945 explicitly together as a managerial grouping which favoured establishing a place in the eacetie economy of the Soviet Union of light as well as heavy industries.. Vosnosensky’s Five Year Plan speech of March 1946 assigned priority on the immediate level to reconstruction tasks, civilian housing and consumer goods.. After 1945 this group and particularly Rodionov was involved in political intrigues.. Rodionov was a Russian nationalist.”

William O McCagg, Junior:”Stalin Embattled: 1943-1948″, Detroit; 1978; p.134-135.

The Vosnosenky clique, effected their programme in their own power base of Leningrad:

“After 1945.. in the Russian republic a number of administrative reforms to increase consumer production.. ministries for technical culture, cinematographic, luxury goods, delicatessen products light industry and the like was established.”

McCagg bid, p. 135, 163.

In 1947, Vosnosenky published a major work, entitled “The War Economy of the USSR In the Period of the Patriotic War.” This work took significant departures from Marxism-Leninism. Amongst others, it favoured relaxing the priority of Department A goods:

“It is proposed to increase the portion of the social product earmarked for consumption.”

Nikolai Vosnosensky “War Economy of the USSR in the Period of the Patriotic War”; Moscow; 194; p.147.

Khrushchev, now allied with Vosnosensky, argued that the self-interest of the peasants be boosted by a “link” system of small unit production which would aid incentive related payment.

These policies all aimed to “enrich” the peasant and reinforce individual small scale capitalist tendencies in the countryside.

“They adopted measures to reward diligent work in both the private and socialised sectors. The policies of one-cow-per-house-hold, commercial trade, and the small work unit in grain farming were all directed at this end. The leaders most closely associated with these incentive policies were Khrushchev and Voznosensky.”

Ploss Ibid. p.39-40.

“N.A.Voznosensky.. promoted greater material encouragement.. defense of the collective farmers rights to conduct private activities and enhanced autonomy and payment for on the spot technicians.” Ploss. p.29.

Powerful agrarian party officials supported Khrushchev.

At the February 1947 CPSU(B) CC Plenum, Vosnosensky was raised to full membership in the Politburo. Khruschevites dominated the 1947 CC Plenum :

“Within the CPSU(B) CC Plenum in February 1947, Andreyev promoted the same views.. and with Dronin (a key Khruschevite supporter from the Ukraine).. authorized incentive driven “link” in grain farming. Still another concession to peasant self-interest which resulted from the Plenum was broader allowance for consumer cooperatives to act as commission agents in disposing of kolkhoz surpluses in urban markets. The cooperative shops paid higher than official state purchase prices for foodstuffs bought under decentralized procurement and offered urban consumers an alternative to the free kolkhoz market in supplementing their purchases. In the early part of 1947, 19,000 commission shops opened.”

Ploss p.32-33.

Initially, as Stalin was in a minority on the Politburo, his counter-attack was tangential; but effective, in that no changes at the kolkhozes could be made without the direct participation of practical specialists at the kolkhozes:

“Stalin came forward at the February 1947 CC Plenum with one of his rare overt interventions of the day. Andreyev revealed.. that Stalin recommended that agricultural experts not working in farms and MTS, but in administrative posts remote from the barnyards should receive a quarter less pay than those in operational jobs. This would have logically complemented a recent directive prohibiting anyone from rescinding or altering agro-technical measures formed by kolkhozes.. without the knowledge of the specialists involved or permission of the district representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture.

p.33 Ibid. Ploss.

Stalin also effected the removal of Khrushchev from the party First Secretaryship of the Ukraine, subordinating him to Kaganovich. But Khrushchev remained premier of Ukraine.

BY 1949, THE PLANS OF THE LENINGRAD CLIQUE OF VOSNOSENSKY TO RESURRECT CAPITALISM WAS EVEN MORE CLEAR. ACCORDING TO KHRUSHCHEV HIMSELF, STALIN HAD SAID ABOUT VOSNOSENKY’S 5 YEAR PLAN:

“You are seeking to restore capitalism in Russia.”

Khrushchev, cited by Wolfgang Leonard:”The Kremlin Since Stalin”, London; 1962; p.177.

Accordingly under Stalin’s directives Vosnosensky was dismissed as Chairman of the USSR State Planning Committees on 5 March 1949. The trial of Vosnosensky and the other members of the “Leningrad Affair” took place on 29-30 September 1990; and Vosnosensky was sentenced to death. (See “The Leningrad Affair”, extracted from W.B.Bland; ” Restoration of capitalism in the USSR.” Wembley, London 1979; ISBN; re-printed Alliance Number 9).

Meanwhile, Khrushchev soon launched a campaign aimed at creating “agro-towns” to “improve the lot” of the peasant, at a Moscow Regional Soviet meeting in March 1950 he unveiled a grand plan:

“He tabled proposals to consolidate the many medium and small sized kolkhozes into large scale units and provide them with elementary urban amenities like electric lighting and plumbing.. the Kolkhozes were also entitled, he held, to build their own subsidiary enterprises.. he envisioned model plans for administration, public and recreational buildings.”

Ploss, Ibid, p.46-7.

“Khrushchev.. championed the village improvement program in speeches.. abridged in Pravda on March 4 1951.”

Sidney Ploss. Ibid, p.49.

THESE POLICIES OF THE KHRUSCHEVITES WOULD INCREASE THE DEMAND FOR CONSUMER LIGHT INDUSTRY. STALIN WAS OPPOSED TO THESE MANOUEVRES:

“Stalin decisively intervened in the matter of rural reconstruction on March 5 1951. At his behest, the editors of Pravda informed readers that, through an oversight.. word had been omitted that Khrushchev’s article of the previous day was offered only for purposes of discussion and did not express.. official opinion.. Malenkov at the 19th Party Congress, rebuked “some of our leading workers” (Khrushchev) who.. had forgotten the principal production tasks facing the collective farms”.. Malenkov claimed also that building materials produced in kolkhozes were more expensive .. than those of state industry.”

Ploss, Ibid, p.49-50.

AS PART OF STALIN’S COUNTER-ATTACK ON REVISIONISM, HE PUBLISHED “ECONOMIC PROBLEMS OF SOCIALISM IN THE USSR”, IN 1952.

IN THIS WORK STALIN ATTACKED IDEAS THAT :

  • PROFIT SHOULD BE THE REGULATOR OF PRODUCTION;
  • THE LAW OF VALUE SHOULD BE THE REGULATOR OF PRODUCTION;
  • LAWS OF POLITICAL ECONOMY NO LONGER APPLY UNDER SOCIALISM.
  • STALIN ALSO ATTACKED THE NOTION THAT HEAVY INDUSTRY WAS NOT THE BASIS OF SOCIALIST CONSTRUCTION:

“Stalin made permanent the priority status of heavy engineering over that of light and food industries.. In the course of his monologue, Stalin revealed that one of his critics outside the Kremlin had appealed to the Politburo at large to start creating badly needed material incentives for the peasantry. The statistician Yaroshenko affirmed at a plenary session of the economic conference in November 1951, and in a letter sent on March 20th, 1952, to members of the Politburo, that Marx’s theory for the normalcy for preferential development of heavy industry was applicable only to capitalist economies and was inappropriate under socialism.”

Cited Ploss, Ibid, p.53-54.

Later, Khrushchev following Stalin’s death, effected the very changes he had earlier argued for unsuccessfully against Stalin. Khrushchev, first dismantled the Machine and Tractor Stations in the countryside (MTS), then actively promoted the proponents of light industry over and above that of heavy industry. During his lifetime, Stalin fought against each of these retrogressive steps introduced by Khrushchev.

Ill informed commentators see the struggle between the Marxist-Leninists, led by Stalin (pro-Heavy Industrial) and the revisionists led by Khrushchev (pro-Light Industry), as hinged on how hard to “squeeze” the peasant. It is alleged that Stalin wished to squeeze the peasant, and that his resistance to “consumerism” or light industry was based on this. In fact, Marxist-Leninist resistance at that time to further expenditure on light industry was based on the overwhelming necessity to increase the heavy industrial base in order to improve the well being of the people. Stalin makes this clear in “Economic problems of socialism”:

“Insuring the maximum satisfaction of the continual growing material and cultural needs of society – that is the goal of socialist production : a continuing growth and development of socialist industry on the basis of an even higher technology that is the means for its attainment.” J.V.Stalin Cited F.A.Durgin Jr. “The relationship of Stalin’s death to the economic change of the post-Stalin era”

In R.C.Stuart. The Soviet rural economy. New Jersey, 1984. p. 78.

Durgin writing in 1984, comments how modern this concept is:

“This postulate…is one that the current generation for US economists has come to recognise…in the new ‘supply side’ economics.”

p. 121.

During points out the higher expenditures on consumer goods under Stalin, rather than Brezhnev:

“One of the most salient and overlooked features of the post-Stalin era has been the ever decreasing share of GNP going to consumption and the ever increasing share going to investment.. consumption’s share fell from 62.4% of the total in 1950 under Stalin to some 56.5% in 1974 under Brezhnev. Investments’ share during the same period doubled, rising from 14.8% of the total to 28.4%. The “imbalance”.. of the Stalin years seems not to have improved, but rather in a certain sense have worsened.”

p. 119.

Durgin concludes :

“All of the Stalin Five Year Plans called for significant increases in consumption. While consumption’s share of the national income during the First Five year Plan was to fall from 77.4 to 66.4 %, in absolute terms it was to increase by some 75%. The Second Plan called for a 133 % increase in the output of consumer goods and a two fold increase in the urban workers consumption of food and manufactured products.. The priority that Stalin gave to consumption in the post war period..was also high.”

Durgin, Ibid. p.121-2.

But Stalin’s priority was to increase consumption as the heavy industrial base could be expanded.

ii) DIVISIONS INSIDE THE USSR CAPITALIST CLASS SINCE STALIN; TO BREZHNEV

After the death of Stalin, the revisionists, succeeded in the resurrection of capitalism. But, the new Russian capitalist class, was divided between a section of capitalist linked to Heavy Industry and that section linked to Light Industry. This was first reported to Marxist-Leninists, by “The Communist League” UK; in Compass. This section is drawn from that. The basic division, between heavy based industrial capitalists and light based industrial capitalists has persisted, down to the current time.

The conflict between the then embryonic, state capitalists involved in heavy industry and those involved in the consumer goods industries came into the open within a few months of Stalin’s death. On August 8th, 1953 the new Prime Minister Georgi Malenkov cast off his socialist cloak, to show his erst-while hidden revisonism. He told the Supreme Soviet :

“On the basis of the success achieved in the development of heavy industry, all the conditions exist for a sharp rise in the production of consumer goods. However, while the output of means of production as a whole has risen in the last 28 years by almost 55 times, the production of consumer goods during the same period had only increased 212 times, which cannot be considered satisfactory. Hitherto we have had no possibility of developing light industry and the food industry at the same rate as heavy industry. We must, therefore , in the interests of ensuring a more rapid increase in the standard of life of the people, promote the development of the light industry by every means.”

G. Malenkov :Speech to the Supreme Soviet, August 8th, 1953, Cited in :Kessings Contemporary Archives”, Volume 9; p.13,096.

It took the state capitalists involved in heavy industry eighteen months to secure the official reversal of this policy and the removal of its leading proponent, Malenkov. In his letter of resignation of February 8th; 1955, Malenkov humbly recanted:

“On the initiative and under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, a general programme has been worked out.. The programme is based on the only correct principle– the further development of heavy industry to the maximum. The further fulfilment of this programme alone can create the necessary conditions for a real advance in the output of all the consumer goods needed.”

G. Malenkov: Letter of Resignation to Supreme Soviet, February 8th., 1955; Cited in “Keesings Contemporary Archives”, Volume 10; p.14,033.

Malenkov’s successor as Prime Minister was Marshall Nikolai Bulganin, who as a representative of the armed forces, might be expected to give full support to the principle of higher priority for heavy industry in the name of “defence.” In his first speech as Prime Minister, in fact, Bulganin emphasised:

“Heavy industry is the basis of the defensive capacity of our country and of our military forces.. Heavy industry provides for the development of all branches of our national economy, and is the source of the constant growth of the well being of the people.”

N. Bulganin: Speech February 9th., 1955, Cited Keesings Ibid, p.14,033.

In May 1957 First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev presented to the Supreme Soviet his scheme to “decentralise” the state’s control of the economy. 25 industrial Ministries were to be abolished and replaced by 92 Regional Economic Councils.

In June 1957 the representatives of Russian heavy industry on the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU allied themselves with the surviving Marxist-Leninists, headed by Vyacheslav Molotov, to reject this scheme. Khrushchev appealed to the Central Committee itself and succeeded in winning a majority of this body to condemn his opponents as an “anti-Party group” and to secure their removal. In November 1957, Khrushchev felt his position strong enough to be able to say that industrial development:

“Had reached a such a level that without detriment to the interests of consolidating the defence of the country, without detriment to the development of heavy industry ad machine building, we can develop light industry at a considerably higher speed.”

N.S.Khrushchev :Speech at 40th Anniversary of October Revolution, in : “Pravda”, November 7th, 1957.

In March 1958, Bulganin was removed as Prime Minister, and in November denounced for having been a member of the “anti-Party group.” His successor was Nikita Khrushchev himself, who retained the post of First Secretary of the Party.

At the May meeting of the Central Committee, Khrushchev put forward the view that the “decisive” branch of “heavy industry” was the chemical industry, and proposed that the expansion of the chemical industry, with “aid” from the older capitalistic countries, should be a prime element in the Seven Year Plan– painting a glowing picture of the consumer goods applications of this expansion.

At the 21st Congress of the CPSU in January/February 1959, Khrushchev’s basic theme was that eh Soviet Union was now in process of passing from “socialism” to “communism,” a process which could be complete when:

“We shall have a provided a complete abundance of everything to satisfy the requirements of all the people.”

And he elaborated further the doctrine put forward at the 20th Congress, that war was “no longer inevitable,” and that the danger of war was “receding.” His report thus laid a theoretical basis for according greater scope to the development of the consumer goods industries.

On January 17th, 1961 Khrushchev declared :

“Today our country has such a powerful industry, such a powerful defence force that it can, without jeopardising the development of industry and the strengthening of its defence, devote more funds to the development of agriculture and increase the production of consumer goods,”

and he deplored the fact that :

“An appetite had developed in some of our comrades for giving more metal to the country.”

(N.S. Khrushchev: Speech Jan.17th., 1916, In Soviet Embassy (London) Press Dept Release).

At the 22nd Congress of the CPSU in October 1961 Khrushchev referred to the Seven Year Plan target of 68-91 million tons of steel a year to say:

“Some people proposed increasing steel output to 100 million tons a year. But we restrained them, saying that all branches of economy had to be developed evenly.”

(N.S.Khrushchev:Report to the CC to the 22nd Congress of the CPSU; London; 1961; p.40.)

And in his report to the congress on the following day on the new party programme, Khrushchev said:

“The 20 year national economic development plan- the general perspective- provides for the rates of growth in the output of means of production and of consumer goods to come considerably closer together.”

N.S.Khrushchev : Report on the Programme of the CPSU; London; 1961; p.24.

As a result of this lead, the congress adopted a resolution which said :

“The revenues accumulated as a result of the over-fulfilment of industrial production plans should be channelled mainly towards agriculture, light industry and the food industry.”

Khrushchev Report on the Programme of the CPSU; London; 1961; p.24.

On September 9th., 1962 “Pravda,” the organ of the CC of the CPSU, published an article by the Kharkov economist, Professor Yevsey Liberman, advocating a discussion on the question of reorientering the Soviet economy on the basis of the profit motive. On Khrushchev’s initiative, a Plenum of he Central Committee on November 19th-23rd 1962 took an important step to weaken the Party’s control over the economy.

The party organs up to, but not including, the level of Republic Central Committees were divided into two separate branches: one concerned with industry, the other with agriculture. At a press conference in October 1963 (reported in “Pravda” on October 27th) Khrushchev declared that the time was now ripe for diverting immense funds from heavy industry to chemicals, agriculture and the consumer goods industries. At the end of February 1964 “Pravda” published an article by A.Arzumanyan, Director of the Institute Of World Economics and International Relations, attacking the “dogmatists” who defended priority for heavy industry and recommending equal growth rates for heavy and consumer goods industries, with future priority to the latter.

In July 1964 an official press campaign began to popularise Liberman’s theories. The Bulletin of the Soviet Embassy in London summed this up as follows:

“In recent years.. the consumer goods industries have been greatly enlarged, It has become clear that the planning of the production of consumer goods must be brought closer to market demands. It has also become clear that economic incentives must be provided in order to induce industry to produce what the consumers want and adapt themselves quickly to changes in fashion, and also so as to ensure that the whole factory from the director to the worker is interested in meeting the demands of the consumer.”

Soviet Embassy, London Bulletin, Cited in “Keesings’ Contemporary Archives”, Volume 15; p. 21,036.

The base of support which Khrushchev had built up among the intelligentsia and petty bourgeois enabled him to survive against growing opposition for more than 10 years. But on October 15th, 1964, Khrushchev was forced to resign both as First Secretary of the CC of the Party and as Prime Minster. One of the changes levelled against him later was that of:

“Neglecting the priorities of heavy industry by over-emphasising light and consumer goods industries.”

“Keesings Contemporary Archives,” Volume 14; p. 20,390.

Khrushchev was succeeded as First Secretary by Leonid Brezhnev, and as Prime Minister by Aleksei Kosygin. This was to some extent a balanced coalition, as Kosygin was inclined towards consumer industires. This is shown by his sponsorship of economic measures advocated by Professor Abel Aganbegyan. (Later these measures would be more energetically enacted by Gorbachev. See below). Therefore the new leadership of the party and the state went some way to placating the demands of the state capitalists involved in the consumer good industries (e.g. By the adoption of Liberman’s theories, providing for increased independence of enterprises and the gearing of production to the market through the profit motive). However Brezhnev’s influence prevailed, and the regime demonstrated its’ basic interest in serving the state capitalists involved in heavy industry by greatly strengthening party and state control of the allocation of material resources, investment funds, etc.

The new line was summarised by General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev in his report to the 23rd Congress of the CPSU in March/April 1966 :

“Strengthening the centralised planned direction of the national economy is now combined with the further development of the initiative and independence of the enterprises.”

L.Brezhnev: Report to the 23 rd Congress of the CPSU, cited in “Keesings Contemporary Archives”, Volume 15, p. 21, 466.

On November 16th, 1964 the Central Committee of the CPSU abolished the division of the party introduced in 1962, with the aim of strengthening the party’s control over the economy. On the other hand, in January 13th 1965, it was announced that 400 consumer goods factories would go over to the system of production abased on market demand.

On April 1st, 1965 textile, lather and some other factories were transferred to the new system, under which they would gear their production to the basis of orders from retailers. These factories were permitted to retain a considerably larger amount of their gross profit than previously, this to be used partly for self-investment and partly for renumeration of management and workers over ad above basic salaries and wages.

In August-September 1965, the new leadership began punitive action against intellectuals representing objectively the interests of the state-capitalists involved in the consumer goods industries. In these months 30 Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested, Andrie Sinyavsky and Yuli Danile were arrested, as was Aleksandr Yessenin-Volpin and Vladmir Bukovsky.

Meanwhile on September 28th, 1965, the CC of the CPSU resolved to abolish the Regional Economic Councils of Khrushchev, established in May 1957; and to re-establish the industrial Ministries which had been abolished. The same resolution resolved to extend the “economic reform” introduced experimentally earlier in the year to the economy as a whole.

The Supreme Soviet gave legislative effect to this resolution on October 1st-2nd 1965. On December 10th, 1968, Nikolai Baibokov (Chairman of the State Planning Committee) told the Supreme Soviet that enterprises working under the new “profit motive” system now produced 75% of total industrial production and 80% of profit.

At the 23rd Congress of the CPSU (March 26th-April 8th 1966) Ivan Kazanets (Minister of the Iron and Steel Industry) complained that the Khrushchev regime had lowered the planned rate of increase in iron and steel output as a result of “the wrong and subjectivist counterposing of the chemical industry against the iron and steel industry.”

However the main reports presented at the congress revealed that the state capitalists involved in the consumer goods industries had fought successfully for an increased allocation of material resources, investment funds, etc, to their field.

In his report on the new 5 Year Plan from 1966-70, Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin said:

“Funds will be re-distributed in favour of the production of consumer goods, while continuing to give priority to the development of the output of means of production. Their output will rise by 49-52% and that of consumer goods by 43-46%, compared with 58% and 36% respectively during 1961-65.”

A. Kosygin: Report on the 5 Year Plan, 23rd Congress CPSU, Cited in “Keesings Contemporary Archives”, Vol 15; p.21,468.

Backed by propaganda from the dissident intellectuals, the political representatives of the state capitalists involved in the consumer goods industries continued to press their case. In the economic plan for 1968 it was still maintained that:

“The emphasis will continue to be on the development of heavy industry”,

“Keesings Contemporary archives”, Vol 16; p. 22,508.

But in that year, 1968, the planned growth on the output of consumer goods for the first time exceeded (at 8.6%) that of the panned growth of the output of heavy industry (at 7.9%).

This picture was repeated in the economic plan for 1969, which provided for a planned growth rate of consumer goods of 7.5% against 7.2% for heavy industry, and in the economic plan for 1969 where the figures were 6.8% and 6.1% respectively.

At the 24th Congress of the CPSU (March 30th – April 9th 1971), General Secretary L. Brezhnev said:

“The CC considers that the accumulated productive potential permits of a somewhat higher rate of growth for Department 2 (ie the consumer goods industries).. This does not invalidate our general policy based on the accelerated development of the output o the means of production.”

Brezhnev L: Report to the 24th Congress of the CPSU, in: “Keesings Contemporary Archives”, Vol 18; p. 24,656.

And the Five Year Plan for 1971-75 adopted by the congress provided for the first time in any Five Year Plan for a higher rate of the output of consumer goods industries (at 44-48%) than that of heavy industry (at 41-45%). But as the intellectuals were repressed, and as the movements for “freedom ” in the Baltic states were repressed, the leadership of the party and state felt able to reverse this dominance of consumer industry. By 1975, the representatives of the state capitalists involved in heavy industry had again won temporarily. On December 2nd, 1975 Nikolai Baibakov reported to the Supreme Soviet that it was planned to increase the output of heavy industry in 1976 by 4.9% (against 8.3% achieved in 1975) and that of the consumer goods industries by 2.7% (against 7.2% achieved in 1975).

iii) INDUSTRY IN THE ERA OF GORBACHEV AND YELTSIN

Following the death of Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov came to power in 1982. Andropov had been the director of the state security forces the KGB, since 1967. Using this base, Andropov launched a so called “anti-corruption” drive, especially targeted at the Brezhnev faction. This allowed the pro-Consumer goods industries faction to regain control of the state. Andropov had built up the careers of younger pro-Consumer advocates, such as Mikhail Gorbachev; Eduard Shevardnadze; Nikolai Ryzhkov; and Yegor Ligachev. All these individuals would follow the same “liberal” programme aimed at aiding the consumer based industries. In a short space of time, Andropov made changes aimed at:

“The independence of assciation and enterprises of collecvtive farms and state farms to be increased.”

Cited: “Gorbachev: Chistian Schmidt-Hauer: “The Path to Power”; Topsfield, MA; 1986; p.84.

But Andropov was ill, and died after 8 months, on February 9th, 1984. His successor Konstantin Chernenko, was himself severely ill. His accession was a temporary reprieve for the heavy based faction, in whose favour Chernenkov’s report of November 15th 1984, “Accelerate The Intensification of the Economy,” was given (Schmidt-Hauer; Ibid; p.109). However his death on March 10 1985, left the path open for the vigorous proponents of light consumer industry. By 11 March 1985, Gorbachev had taken the post of General Secretary of the CPSU.

Gorbachev now took up the programme outlined by Professor Abel Aganbegyan, whose Institute of Economics was in Novosibirsk. His programme, first outlined in 1965, and promoted by Kosygin, identified as the major problem in the USSR economy:

“The staggering share of resource that the economy committed to defence, with something like a third of the entire workforce involved in the defence sector, and ‘the extreme centralism and lack of democracy in economic matters.”

Cited in “The Waking Giant: The Soviet Union Under Gorbachev,” Martin Walker, London, 1986; p.38.

This then was a programme targeted against the heavy industrial base, and was pro-light industry. However the programme also aimed to openly acknowledge and allow “profit.” These changes were similar to those proposed by Liberman i.e. further decentralisation and self contained “planning,” and local profit sharing under the guise of “incentives.” This was embided under the principle of “autonomous financial accounting” or Khozraschet.

Kosygin’s attempts to fully implement Aganbegyan’s changes met with resistance, because they entailed an increased unemployment. But since both wings of the capitalist class (heavy and light based industrialists) stood to gain, they collaborated to push some of Aganbegyan’s programme through :

“In 1970…the Khozraschet experiment…decreed that not only each factory, but the industry itself had to become self-financing…By 1980, four of the biggest industrial ministries had been transferred to the self-financing system: tractors and farm machinery, heavy and transport engineering, energy engineering, and electrotechnical. The principles of self-financing and management autonomy had also been adopted for…the creation of territorial-production complexes (TPCs), the new industrial complexes… in Siberia.”

Walker Ibid, p.43.

But enforcing the Russian workers towards capitalist norms was not easy, and the capitalist class wished for a speedier transformation. Professor Popov of Moscow now advocated in Pravda on 27 December 1980:

“Wage cuts to increase incentives and a system of planned unemployment with a minimum wage of 80 rubles a month for the redundant.”

Walker Ibid, p.45.

To facilitate this, one of Aganbegyan’s pupils, Dr. Tatiana Zaslavsaya offered an updated programme in 1983 targeting “bureaucracy” who were “preventing further dissolution of central planning.” This programme was accepted by Gorbachev. In February 1986, he reported to the 27th Congress of the CPSU:

“Prices must be made flexible. Price levels must be linked not only to the costs of production, but also with the degree to which they meet the needs of society and consumer demand..it is high time to put an end to the practice of ministries and departments exercising petty tutelage over industrial enterprises.. enterprises should be given the right to sell to one another, independently what they produce over and above the plan.. enterprises and associations are wholly responsible for operating without a loss, while the state does not bear any responsibility for their debts.. Increase of the social wealth as well as losses should affect the income level of each member of the collective.”

Walker Ibid, p.51-52.

But as well as these general steps to increae market forces, a narrower sectional interest became also clear. An underlying aim apart from completely raising the lid on private market forces and profit was to enhance consumer industry:

“Gorbachev’s requirements (are).. set out in the “Prinicpal Directiosn fo the Economic nad Soical Development of the USSR Fro the Year 1986 to 1990 and For the Period up to 2000”.. “More consumer goods and better serives are vital.. says the new Chairman of the State Planning Commision (Gosplan) Nikolai Talyzin.. over the past 5 years the supply of consumer goods had grown at an averae of below 4%.. the “Complex Programme For the Development of the Production of Consumer Goods and the Service Sectors for the Year 1986-2000”, .. meant.. production of Consumer goods is to increase by as much as 30 % during the first 5 Year Plan period (1986-90) “mainly tough intensification of production on the basis of improved organisation and full use of existing capacity..the programme aims at “perfecting the production and consumption of light industry goods, cultural and domestic articles, reacting in good time to changes in public demand”… The long term plan .. prescribes that the contribution made by heavy and defence industries to supplying the public with high-quality industrial goods as well as modern electrical household goods must be “substantially increased.”

Maria Huber : The Prospects for Economic Reform”, in C.Schmidt-Hauer, Ibid; p.171-179.

Furthermore, as part of Gorbachev’s strategy, links with foreign capital were actively encouraged:

“At the beginning of 1985, Oleg T.Bogomolov, Director of the Institute For the Economics of the Socialist World System, in lecture in Vienna announced that eh Soviet Union would make it possible for joint-venture companies to be set up with capitalist enterprises.. an important step for decentralisation.. trade relations with the industrialised capitalist countries are to be likewise intensified.. the joint resolution of the Central Committee and of the Council of Ministers of July 1985.. foresaw the promotion of exports at enterprise level.”

Maria Huber; Ibid; p.174.

But the division of interests and between the two basic groups of capitalists, is now much more acute. It has also taken a new form. The most current form it has taken, is that of a division between those who wish to be an appendage to the foreign imperialists, and those who wish to be totally independent of the foreign imperialists. As Mikhail Leontiev:

“One of Russia’s most respected liberal commentators…and the Segodnya newspaper owned by one of Russia largest private businesses notes…in an editorial on November 24th, 1994 said : “‘The first stage of Russia’s transformation – Westernization – is over. It has ended in defeat and disappointment.'”

Cited “The Economist” London UK, Week of Dec 5th, 1994. Reprinted Globe and Mail, Toronto, 5.12.94.

Clearly, the anti-Western capitalists are not dead inside Russia. Although more than $500 million US of foreign capital are flowing into Russia every month, there has been some opposition to this virtually unrestricted entry :

Anatoly Chubais…as the first deputy prime minister responsible for coordinating economic policy…has been leading the effort to attract foreign investment…Moscovsky Komsomolets has published a stinging series of attacks on Mr. Chubais, who used to be responsible for Russia’s program of mass privatization, Komsomolets argues that this sell-out is just a sell out to the West. GAZ a car makers with 1000,000 workers was worth a mere $27 million when it was auctioned earlier this year. That, the newspaper points out sourly, is only $2 million more than the Vancouver Canucks agreed to pay Pavel Bure a Russian ice-hockey star, for a 6 year contract.”

“Economist,” from Globe and Mail Ibid, 5.12.94.

As the Economist notes:

“Mr. Yeltsin is nevertheless the only Russian peasant who could take a stand against a strong anti-western sentiment. He may look and act lie a Russian peasant, but so far at least, his instinct have been solidly pro-Western.”

“Economist” from Globe and Mail Ibid 5.12.94.

That Boris Yeltsin has been the “Man of the West,” inside the Kremlin is not new news. Of course recent events surrounding the “Crash” of the rouble also aroused major conflicts within the capitalist class, which also reflected the underlying differences. As the ICRSU report makes clear, the rouble was deliberately “crashed.”

6. THE CRASH OF THE ROUBLE

“The rouble’s 3 week slide began when the Bank set out trading on 22 September with dwindling reserves.. By the bottom on the Tuesday 11.10.94, the rouble had shrunk to 60% of its value.. the bank had spent a quarter of a billion US$ in 3 days…”

Globe and Mail, Business News, Toronto, 14.10.94. p.B1-2.

Alliance reprinted the analysis of The International Committee for the Restoration of the Soviet Union, based in Moscow, (ICRSU) on the “Crash” of the rouble, on October 11th, 1994. (See full reprint in Alliance 9). The ICRSU gives as a reason for the crash an impending General Strike, and a need for the Government to obtain additional funds to cover a cash shortfall:

“The ‘crash of the rouble’…on October 11th and its subsequent recuperation on October 12-13th…did not result from a loss of control by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation over the market of hard currency. On the contrary the crash of the rate of the rouble to the dollar by almost 900 points in one day (27% of the previous rate), and its recuperation on Wednesday and Thursday so that the rate came down lower than that of Monday, was planned and provoked by the leadership of the Central Bank with the permission of Victor Chernomyrdin, the Prime Minister. This was a result of a financial operation organized jointly by both the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finances TO COVER A FINANCIAL GAP… WHAT IS THE MAIN REASON FOR THIS FINANCIAL OPERATION? WHY HAS THE BUDGET GAP TO BE COVERED NOW? (Emphasis-Editor). The answer is clear. These cash based on speculation has been transferred to the Ministry of Finances to pay wages. Why now? Because a general strike is to take place on October 27th. That is the sole reason. The government is not in a position to manage a general strike in a generalized state of wage non-payments.”

I.C.R.S.U. October 19-10-94.

But it is possible that an additional reason for the engineered crash is the conflict between the wings of the capitalist class. We suggest that the manipulation of the rouble, in part, reflects the differences between pro-Western capitalists (led by Yeltsin) and anti-Western capitalists (led by Yegor Gaidar, and Victor Chernomyrdin, the Prime Minister). As the ICRSU point out it was Chernomyrdin who set in train the rouble crash. How was the manipulation managed?

“In the two weeks prior to the crash, the Central Bank provoked constant devaluation of the rouble by suddenly changing its policy of intervention in hard currency stock exchange sessions. Normally the Central Bank policy of intervention is based on selling relatively small amounts of American dollars on a regular basis so that the dynamics of the rate of the rouble to the dollar does not correspond to its real devaluation in the market. The result of that policy is that the rate was kept over 2000 when the real rate should be (the rate that would be reached if the Central Bank would not make dollar interventions in the market) according to reliable estimations around 5000-6000.”

I.C.R.S.U. October 19-10-94.

Who gains the most benefit from this policy?

“A ‘cheap’ dollar has led to a drastic reduction of Russian goods exports for the past two years. Import of western goods has far overtaken export. Russian goods can not compete even in the internal market (shops do not sell Russian goods). A low rate guarantees foreign trade companies a high rate of profit in commercial operations. The Central Bank policy is dictated by foreign interests. A low rate is one of the factors for the state of collapse in industry and agriculture, a huge budget deficit (that reached already in June-August 15% of the GNP!!), complete lack of state investment, non-payment of wages in the state sector (non-payment of wages has been very extensive from August).”

I.C.R.S.U. October 19-10-94.

“The Central Bank changed its policy of selling dollars to hold the rate by a massive sell of roubles. That provoked a raise of the rate from 2200-2300 to 3100 (for a period of 10-15 days). The Government argued that the raise of the rate is good for the economy and recognized that the Central Bank’s policy towards the rouble for the past two years has been highly harmful for the Russian economy.”

I.C.R.S.U. October 19-10-94.

But then a reversal occurred. We suggest that this policy, that favoured a foreign imperialist penetration of the Russian market, led to resentment and a reversal under pressure, of the policy:

“In a surprising move on Tuesday 11th, the Central Bank under the supervision of its President, Guerashenko, accomplished a massive rouble intervention that brought up the rate to almost 4000 roubles to a dollar. Those banks that were purchasing dollars were obliged to buy them from the same Central Bank and four major private commercial banks that were aware of the operation, at a rate that was 1000 roubles more expensive in the hope that the rate would rise even further. In one day the Central Bank “earned” 3 trillion roubles. 2 trillions were used to buy dollars at a high rate of 4000 from the Ministry of Finances (previously bought at a substantially lower rate) to cover a budget gap. The Central Bank got back the dollars which had been sold to the Commercial banks. The Ministry of Finances got in one day a huge amount of roubles to cover (almost 1000 roubles for every dollar sold) a budget gap. The Hard currency market was in shock so that in the next two days the Central Bank managed to bring down the rate with a relatively small intervention of dollars. A number of Commercial Banks that were not aware of the operation lost several trillions of roubles that are now transferred to the Ministry of Finances.”

I.C.R.S.U. October 19-10-94.

It is for the reasons outlined that Yeltsin said:

“the collapse of the roble was a ‘threat to national security’, setting up a committee of Inquiry the next day, with Sergei Stepashin Director of Federal Counter-Intelligence as a co-chair.”

Keesings Contemporary Archives, October, 1994, p. 40,250.

The Economy Minister Alexander Shokin was more explicit and said that the rouble’s collapse was a plot:

“To destabilise the government of Prime Minister Viktor Chenrnomyridin. “There are forces out there who do not want to see the government in full control,” Reuter’s quoted him as saying..”

Globe and Mail, Toronto, p.A1, A12. 13.10.94.

Vyascheslev Kostikov, President Yeltsin’s top spokesperson, suggested:

“The crisis was concocted by commercial banks that support political opponents of the regime. the strategy was to remove the President and curb market reforms.”

Globe and Mail, Business News, Toronto, p.B1-2, 14.10.94.

Source

Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: The Aleksandr Smirnov Case (1928-38)

Lenin’s Tomb, 1927. (Left to Right) Rykov, Bukharin, Kalinin, Uglanov, Stalin, Tomsky. (Back Row) Murphy and son, Gordon.

Lenin’s Tomb, 1927. (Left to Right) Rykov, Bukharin, Kalinin, Uglanov, Stalin, Tomsky.
(Back Row) Murphy and son, Gordon.

The Formation of the Smirnov Group (1928-29)

In February 1928, Aleksandr Smirnov*, who had been People’s Commissar of agriculture in the Russian Republic, was promoted to the position of Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU:

“In February (1928 – Ed.), the Rightist Commissar of Agriculture of the Russian Republic, Aleksandr Smirnoy, was . . . appointed to the Party Secretariat.”

(Stephen F. Cohen: ‘Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography: 1888-1938’; London; 1974; p. 279).

and shortly afterwards Smirnoy took the initiative in forming an opposition group. At his public trial in March 1938, the defendant Izaak Zelensky*, a former agent of the tsarist secret service, admitted:

“I joined the Right organisation at the end of 1928 or at the beginning of 1929, . . . I was recruited by A. P. Smirnov.”

(Izaak A. Zelensky: Testimony at 1938 Treason Trial, in: Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ (hereafter listed as ‘Report (1938)’) ; Moscow; 1938; p. 325).

The A. P. Smirnov group:

“was Bukharinist in economic outlook.”

(Stephen F. Cohen: op. cit.; p. 348)

but separate from the Bukharinist leadership:

“The top Rightists . . . refused to have anything to do with Smirnov’s plans.”

(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1968; p. 31).

Their programme included the dissolution of most collective farms, the idependence of the trade unions from Party leadership and the removal of Stalin from the post of General Secretary of the CPSU:

“Their (the A. P. Smnirnov group’s – Ed.) programme seems to have covered . . . the dissolution of most of the kolkhozes, . . . the independence of the trade unions. Above all, they had discussed the removal of Stalin.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 30).

The defendant Izaak Zelensky admitted at the 1938 treason trial that the programme of the A. P. Smirnov group also included wrecking and terrorism:

“At the end of 1931 or the beginning of 1932, Smirnov . . . told me of the new tactics which had been outlined by the centre of the Rights, and which consisted in the following: the use of double-dealing, a conspirative form of organisation, the adoption of tactics of wrecking, diversion, destruction, training insurrectionary cadres, the adoption of terrorism.”

(Ivararokion;, Zelensky: Testimony at 1938 Treason Trial, in: Report (1938); op. cit.; p. 327).

From the outset, the A. P. Smirnov group was underground and illegal:

“Smirnov’s group . . . decided to go underground and formed an independent group known as ‘Bolshevik Workers . .. His first efforts were devoted to the creation of illegal cells in the more important working-class centres and the drawing together of all oppositional elements within the Party.”

(Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; Munich; 1959; p. 193).

“A. P. Smirnov’s group . . . had to a large extent gone underground, with a view to organising for a struggle.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 30).

Among prominent members of the A. P. Smirnov group were Nikolay Uglanov* (discussed in the paper on the Ryutin Affair) and Lev Karakhan* – later exposed as a German agent, as was admitted by defendants in the 1938 treason trial:

“RYKOV: Karakhan reported that the German fascists were, of course, very well disposed towards the prospect of the Right coming into power and would welcome it very much.”

(Report (1938): op. cit.; p. 179).

“VYSHINSKY: Accused Bukharin, were you aware that Karakhan was a participant in the conspiratorial group of Rights and Trotskyites?

BUKHARIN: I was.

VYSHINSKY: Were you aware that Karakhan was a German spy?

BUHARIN: No, I was not aware of that.

VYSHINSKY (TO RYKOV): Were you aware, accused Rykov, that Karakhan was a German spy?

RYKOV: No, I was not.

VYSHINSKY: Were you not aware that Karakhan was engaged in negotiations with certain German circles? .

RYKOV: Yes, yes.

VYSHINSKY: Treasonable negotiations?

RYKOV: Treasonable. .

VYSHINSKY (TO BUKHARIN): Were you aware that Karakhan was engaged in negotiations with the German fascists?

BUKHARIN: I was. .

VYSHINSKY: Did you endorse these negotiations?

BUKHARIN: . . . I did not disavow them; consequently I endorsed them.. . . .

VYSHINSKY: And so, accused Bukharin, you bear responsibility for these negotiations with the Germans?

BUKHARIN: Undoubtedly.”

(Report (1938): op. cit.; p, 401-02, 407, 408).

The importance of the A. P. Smirnoy affair lay, firstly, in the fact that it embraced senior officials who had never before been associated with any opposition:

“The views of A. P. Smirnov and his followers mark an important crux. For we find veteran senior officials who had never been associated with any opposition.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

and, secondly, in the fact that it:

“was supported by important trade union officials.”

(Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: op. cit.; p. 192.

The CCICCC Resolution on the A. P. Smirnov Affair (1933)

In January 1933, the A.P. Smirnov group was condemned at a joint plenary meeting of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of the Party. Bukharin dissociated himself from the group:

“At the plenum, Bukharin . . . made a speech typical of the extravagant and insincere tone which was now conventional in ex-oppositionist statements, demanding ‘the severe punishment of A. P. Smirnov’s grouping.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

A resolution of the Plenum charged the group with forming an underground opposition group:

“Smirnov and others in fact carried on anti-Party activity and opposed the Party policy. They established a factional underground group.”

(Resolution of Joint Plenary Session of Central Committee and Central Control Commission, CPSU (January 1933), in: Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: op. cit.; p. 194).

“At the January 1933 plenum , . . . the last of the new cycle of plots was exposed. . . . A. P. Smirnov . . . was charged . . . with forming an anti-Party group.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

“The group of . . . A. P. Smirnov . . . was discussed at the meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission in January 1933. A resolution was adopted condemning the creation of an underground factional group, allegedly dedicated to the disruption of industrialisation and collectivisation and the restoration of capitalism.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; New York; 1971; p.155).

“In January 1933, still another underground opposition cell was unearthed, this one organised by the former Commissar of Agriculture, A. P. Smirnov, . . . They were accused of organising ‘bourgeois degenerates’ to attempt, like the Ryutin group, ‘the restoration of capitalism and in particular of the kulaks.”‘

(Robert V. Daniels: ‘The Conscience of the Revolution’; Cambridge (USA); 1960; p. 380).

Nevertheless, the members of the group:

“were treated leniently.”

(Ian Grey: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979; p. 256).

The Plenum removed Smirnov from the Central Committee:

“The joint plenary session of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission therefore resolves to expel Smirnov from the Party Central Committee with a warning that if he fails to gain the confidence of the Party in his work, he will be expelled from the Party.”

(Resolution of Joint Plenary Session of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission (January 1933). in: Aburakhman Avtorkanov: op. cit.; p. 195).

“Smirnov was removed from the Central Committee, with a warning that expulsion from the Party would follow if his future work did not merit trust.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; New York; 1971; p.155).

“A. P. Smirnov and others. . . . were merely reprimanded by the Central Committee, not expelled from the Party. Smirnov, the only one who had been on the Central Committee, was removed from it and threatened with expulsion from the Party if he did not mend his ways.”

(Robert H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 146).

“A. P. Smirnov (was expelled — Ed.) from the Central Committee.'”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

The Expulsion and Trial of A. P. Smirnov (1934-35) In December 1934

Nonetheless Smirnov was expelled from the Party in 1934:

“Smirnov was expelled from the Party in December 1934 . . . for double-dealing and continuing his struggle against the Party.”

Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

Early in 1935 Smirnov was arrested, tried for and found guilty of anti-Soviet activity and sentenced to imprisonment. He died in imprisonment in 1938.

The Trials of Uglanov and Karakhan (1936-37)

In 1936,

“. . Uglanov and others were given jail sentences.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

while Karakhan was tried in 1937 for treason, found guilty and executed:

“On 16 December (1937– Ed.) . . . Karakhan . . . and others had been tried before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court as spies, bourgeois nationalists and terrorists, had confessed and had been executed.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 272).

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex,

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

KARAKHAN, Lev N., Soviet revisionist lawyer and diplomat (1889-1937); RSFSR People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs (1918-20, 1922); USSR Ambassador to china (1923-26); USSR Deputy People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs (l93~ 34); USSR Ambassador to Italy (1934-37); arrested, tried for and found guilty of espionage and treason, sentenced to death and executed (1937).

SMIRNOV, Aleksandr P., Soviet revisionist politician (1877-1938); RSFSR People’s Comissar of Agriculture1 and simultaneously Secretary-General, Peasants’ International (1923-28); RSFSR, Deputy Premier (1928-30); Secretary, Central Committee, CPSU (1928-30); expelled from Party (1934); arrested, tried for and found guilty of anti-Soviet activity and sentenced to imprisonment (1935); died in imprisonment (1938).

UGLANOV, Nikolay A., Soviet revisionist politician (1886-1940); secretary, Petrograd Party Committee (1921-22); secretary, Nizhny Novgorod Party Committee (1922-24); secretary, Moscow Party Committee (1924-28); USSR People’s Commmissar of Labour (1928-30); expelled from Party (1932); reinstated in Party (1934); re-expelled from Party, arrested, tried for and found guilty of anti-Soviet activity, and sentenced to imprisonment (1936); died in imprisonment (1938).

ZELENSKY, Izaak A., Soviet revisionist politician (1890-1938); Secretary, Moscow Party Committee (1920-21, 1924-31); Secretary, Central Asian Party Bureau (1924-31); Chairman, Central Union of Consumer Co-operatives (1931-37); arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

AVTORKHANOV, Abdurakhman: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; Munich; 1959.
COHEN, Stephen F.: ‘Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political
Biography: 1888-1938′; London; 1974.
CONQUEST, Robert: ‘The Great Terror; Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London;
1968.
DANIELS, Robert V.: ‘The Conscience of the Revolution’; Cambridge (USA); 1960.
GREY, Ian: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979.
McNEAL, Robert H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988.
MEDVEDEV, Roy A.: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1972.
ISCHULZ, Heinrich E., URBAN, Paul K. & LEBED, Andrew I. (Eds.): ‘Who was Who in the USSR: ‘Biographic Dictionary’; Methuen (USA); 1972.
Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938.

Source

Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: The Yenukidze Case (1935-37)

Avel Yenukidze

Avel Yenukidze

Introduction

Avel Yenukidze* was Secretary of the Presidium of the Soviet Central Executive, Committee i.e., head of the Soviet civil service, from 1918 to 1935. This post put him

“…in charge of the administration and personnel of the Kremlin.”

(Adam B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: ‘The Man and his Era’; London; 1989; p. 396).

The Revision of Yenukidze’s Biography (1935)

Yenukidze had published in 1930 a historical study entitled “Our Illegal Printing Shops in the Caucasus.”

On 16 January 1935, in an article in ‘Pravda’,

“. . . Yenukidze himself revised his biography in the ‘Great Soviet Encyclopedia’ to the effect that it was not he, Yenukidze, who played a role in the foundation of the (Baku Party — Ed.) organisation but a group of other Georgian revolutionaries, including Stalin.”

(Lazar Pistrak: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961; p. 140-41).

Yenukidze’s article:

” . . amounted to a confession of grave errors in his own treatment of th; history of the revolutionary movement in Transcaucasia. . . . He had written a short work in 1930 on illegal Bolshevik printing presses in Transcaucasia and had provided himself with highly favourable entries in some reference books.”

(Robert H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 111).

In July 1935 Lavrenti Beria* delivered in Tiflis a series of lectures entitled “On the History of the Bolshevik Organisation in Transcaucasia” which were published in book form. Beria claimed that Yenukidze had:

” . . deliberately and with hostile intent falsified the history of the Bolshevik organisations of Transcaucasia in his authorised biography and in his pamphlet ‘Our Illegal Printing Shops in the Caucasus’, cynically and brazenly distorted well-known historical facts, crediting himself with alleged services in the establishment of the first illegal printing shop in Baku. . . .
As we know, in view of the imminent danger that these falsifications and distortions of his would be exposed, A. Yenukidze was obliged to admit these ‘mistakes’ in the columns of ‘Pravda’ on January 16 1935.”

(Lavrenti P. Beria: ‘On the History of the Bolshevik Organisations in Transcaucasia’; London; 1935; p. 35, 36).

Beria’s book:

” . . . contained an open political denunciation of two prominent Bolsheviks, Yenukidze and Orakhelashvili*. . . . Orakhelashvili tried to protest by writing to Stalin and enclosing the draft of a rebuttal for publication in ‘Pravda.'”

(Dmitri Volkogonov: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991; p. 213).

Stalin replied advising Yenukidze to accept that his book contained errors, and merely complain that Beria’s criticism was ‘too harsh’:

“A letter to ‘Pravda’ ought to be printed, but I don’t think the text of your letter is satisfactory. In your place I would take out all its ‘polemical beauty’, all the ‘excursions’ into history, plus the ‘decisive protest’, and I would say simply and briefly that such and such mistakes were made, but that Comrade Beria’s criticism of these mistakes is, let’s say, too harsh and is not justified by the nature of the mistakes. Or something in this vein.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Mamia Orakhelashvili (July 1935), in: Dmitri Volkogonov: ibid.; p. 213, citing: Central Party Archives at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, f. 558, op. 1, d. 3179).

The Alleged Conspiracy in the Kremlin (1935)

However:

” . . . the charges against Yenukidze by Beria and others for his alleged historical mistake played a minor part, if any at all, in Yenukidze’s downfall.”

(Boris Nikolaevsky: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965; p. 220).

Early in 1935 it was announced that there had been discovered in the Kremlin

” . . . an alleged conspiracy against Stalin, a conspiracy involving a number of Kremlin guards.”

(Adam B. Ulam: p. 396).

The Dismissal and Expulsion of Yenukidze (1935)

On 3 March 1935:

“Yenukidze was relieved from his post in Moscow.”

(Lazar Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 141).

At this time he was:

“blamed, evidently, only for negligence rather than complicity”,

(Adam B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 396-97).

since his change of position was stated to be due to:

“. . . his promotion to the post of Chairman of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.”

(Lazar Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 141).

The charge against Yenukidze:

” . . . was that he had, in his general supervisory capacity as Secretary of the Central Executive Committee, allowed former aristocrats to take jobs in the Kremlin.”

(Robert Conquest: ‘Stalin: Breaker of Nations’ (hereafter listed as ‘Robert Conquest (1993)’; London; 1993; p. 195).

But Yenukidze’s:

“. . . promotion’ never materialised.”

(Lazar Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 141)

and on 7 June 1935,

“. . . at the plenary session of the Party Central Committee Yenukidze . . . was expelled from the Party.”

(Lazar Pistrak: ibid.; p. 141)

after being denounced for:

“. . . political and personal dissoluteness’. Over the following weeks, the papers printed violent attacks on him. . . . He was accused of taking ‘enemies’ under his wing — ‘former princes, ministers, courtiers, Trotskyites, etc.; . . . a counter-revolutionary nest’, and in general of rotten liberalism.'”

(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1969; p. 88-89), citing ‘Pravda’, 16, 19 June 1935).

On 13 June 1935, ‘Pravda’ reported Khrushchev as telling the Moscow Party aktiv:

“The shot which struck Comrade Kirov showed that our enemies stop at nothing. . . . All the necessary deductions should have been drawn from this signal. Yenukidze, however, having lost all the qualities of a Bolshevik, preferred to be a ‘kind uncle’ to the enemies of our Party. . The Party showed great trust in Yenukidze, giving him responsible work to do, . . . but he did not justify that trust. He betrayed the cause of the revolution. He degenerated politically and morally.”

(Nikta S. Khrushchev: Speech to Moscow Party Aktiv (June 1935), in: ‘The Dethronement of Stalin’; Manchester; 1956; p. 11).

On 24 June 1935, Beria publicly denounced Yenukidze:

“Yenukidze turned out to be a traitor to our country and is enduring a well-deserved punishment.”

(Lavrenti Beria: Speech reported in ‘Zaria vostoka'(Eastern Dawn), 24 June 1935, in: Amy Knight: ‘Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant’; Princeton (USA): 1993; p. 57).

The Arrest of Yenukidze (1936)

Yenukidze was arrested in:

“late 1936.”

(Amy Knight: op. cit.; p. 68).

The Trial and Execution of Yenukidze (1937)

On 29 December 1937, ‘Pravda’ reported that eight people, including Orakhelashvili and Yenukidze:

” . . . were all sentenced to death in camera for high treason, espionage, subversion and terrorist conspiracy.”

(Gabor T. Rittersporn: ‘Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications: Social Tensions and Political Conflicts in the USSR: 1933-1953’; Reading; 1991; p. 197).

And

” . . shot.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1972; p. 197).

It was charged that Orakhelashvili:

” . . . wishing to restore capitalism in Georgia, had committed diversionary acts ‘linked to an imperialist state.'”

(‘Pravda’, 20 December 1936, cited in: Robert Conquest: ‘Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics: 1936-39; Basingstoke; 1985; p. 52).

The 1938 Treason Trial (1938)

In March 1938, the Yenukidze case was referred to several times in the testimony given at the 1938 treason trial.

For example, defendant Aleksey Rykov testified:

“RYKOV: The next period (after the liquidation of the kulaks – Ed.) is characterised by the creation of an exclusively conspiratorial type of organisation and the employment of the sharpest methods of struggle against the Party and the government. This particularly includes one of the attempts that was made to prepare for a ‘palace coup.’

VYSHINSKY: To when does this refer?

RYKOV: This plan aimed to arrest the members of the government in connnection with a violent coup carried out by the conspiratorial organisation. . . . As far as I remember, this idea arose among the Rights in 1933-34. . . . The mainstay of this counter-revolutionary plan was Yenukidze, who had become an active member of the Right organisation in 1933….
For the purpose of carrying out the ‘palace coup’ a centre was formed including the Trotskyites and Zinovievites: Kamenev, Pyatakov, Yenukidze, and also myself, Bukharin and Tomsky.”

(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ (March 1938) (hereafter listed as ‘Trial (1938)’; Moscow; 1938; p. 176-77, 178).

Defendant Nikolay Bukharin* testified:

“BUKHARIN: The inception of the idea of the coup d’etat among us Right conspirators relates approximately to the years 1929-30. . . . It was an idea of a circumscribed coup d’etat, or a ‘palace coup’. . . . Yenukidze, who was personally connected with Tomsky and was frequently in his company, had charge of the Kremlin guard. . . .
Why do I say ‘palace coup’? This means by forces organisationally concentrated in the Kremlin. . .
The forces of the conspiracy were: the forces of Yenukidze plus Yagoda, the organisations in the Kremlin and in the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs; Yenukidze also succeeded around that time in enlisting, as far as I can remember, the former commandant of the Kremlin, Peterson, who, apropos, was in his time the commandant of Trotsky’s train. . . .
An organisation of a criminal counter-revolutionary conspiracy was created, which included the forces of Yenukidze, of Yagoda, the organisation in the Kremlin, in the People’s Comissariat of Internal Affairs, the military organisation and the forces of the Moscow garrison under the leadership of the conspirators of the military group.”

(Trial (1938): ibid.; p. 394-95, 419, 424-25).

The defendant Pavel Bulanov testified:

“One of the principal roles in the coup, according to him, (Yagoda -Ed.) was to have been played by Yenukidze, and the second . . . fell on his, Yagoda’s shoulders. They had spheres of influence: Yenukidze’s was the Kremlin, and Yagoda’s was the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. . . .
Yagoda was very much infatuated with Hitler.
They considered that the armed coup must absolutely be timed to coincide with war. . . . . Yagoda had the closest connections with the leaders of the Rights. He was also connected with the Trotskyites. . . . More than once . . . he gave . . . direct or indirect orders not to proceed with cases against Trotskyites but, on the contrary, to terminate a number of cases against Trotskyites, as well as Rights and Zinovievites.

VYSHINSKY: That is, he shielded them.

BULANOV: I would say that he not only shielded them, but directly assisted their activities.”

(Trial (1938): ibid.; p. 553, 554, 555).

‘Rehabilitation’ by the Revisionists

In May 1962, Yenukidze was ‘rehabilitated’ by the revisionist authorities.
The alleged ‘miscarriage of justice’ in the Yenukidze case was attributed to Lavrenti Beria, on which even Boris Nikolaevsky felt compelled to comment:

“Why does ‘Pravda’ publish absurdities about . . . Beria as the chief culprit in Yenukidze’s liquidation? Why this myth about the supposed omnipotence of Beria who, in 1935, was far away in his Party post in Tiflis?”

(Boris Nikolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 224).

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

BERIA, Lavrenti P., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1899-1953); director, GPU/OGPU, Transcaucasia (1921-31); lst Secretary,. CP Georgia (1931-38); USSR People’s Commissar/Minister of Internal Affairs (1938-46); member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); Marshal (1945); member, Politburo, CPSU (1946-53); USSR Deputy Premier and Minister of Internal Affairs (1953); relieved of all posts and expelled from Party by revisionists (1953); tried by revisionists on false charges of treason and executed (1953).

ORAKHELASHVILI, Ivan (‘Mamia’), Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1937); First Secretary, Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee (1926-29); Premier, Transcaucasia, and 1st Secretary, Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee (1931-32); Deputy Director, Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute (193237); expelled from Party, arrested and transferred to Tiflis (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason and sabotage, sentenced to death and executed (1937).

YENUKIDZE, Avel S., Soviet revisionist engineer and civil servant (1877-1937); head, military department, All-Russian Central Executive Committee (191718); Secretary, All-Russian/USSR Central Executive Committee (1918-35); expelled from Party (1935); arrested (1936); tried for and found guilty of treason and espionage, sentenced to death and executed (1937).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Beria, ‘Lavrenti P.: ‘On the History of Bolshevik Organisations in Transcaucasia’; London; 1951.
Conquest, Robert: ‘Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics: 1936-39; Basingstoke; 1985.
Conquest, Robert: ‘Stalin: ‘Breaker of Nations’; London; 1995.
Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1969.
Knight, Amy: ‘Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant’; Princeton (USA); 1993.
Medvedev, Roy A.: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism: London; 1972.
McNeal, Robert H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988.
Nikolaevsky, Boris: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965.
Pistrak, Lazar: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961.
Rittersporn, Gdbor T.: ‘Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications: Social Tensions and Political Conflicts in the USSR: 1933-1953’; Reading; 1991.
Ulam, Adam B.: ‘Stalin: The Man and his Era’; London; 1989.
Volkogonov, Dmitri: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991.
______ ‘The Dethronement of Stalin’; Manchester; 1956.
______ Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938.

Source

Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: The Industrial Party Affair

The Industrial Party Trial.

The Industrial Party Trial.

The Formation of the ‘Industrial Party’ (1925-28)

At his trial in November 1930, Professor Leonid Ramzin* admitted that he had been the:

“. . ideological leader”;

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ‘Wreckers on Trial’; London; 1931; p. 39).

of a counter-revolutionary organisation called the “Industrial Party” (Prompartiya). He testified that the old engineering circles, from which the party had been formed, constituted:

“. . an aloof caste.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 6).

which was hostile to socialism:

“In their political views the old engineering circles . . . (were) completely alien to the ideology of the Communist Party. The old engineers were completely and firmly convinced of the necessity for a capitalist structure as the only base on which the productive forces of the country could develop successfully and steadily.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 7).

These anti-socialist engineers formed in 1925 an organisation called the “Engineering Centre,” the forerunner of the “Industrial Party,” as an instrument for organising sabotage and counter-revolution:

“During the first half of 1928, . . . the name ‘Industrial Party’ was adopted.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: ‘Le Proces des Industriels de Moscow’ (The Trial of the Moscow Industrialists); Paris; 1931; p. 65).

The Growth and Financing of,the Industrial Party (1928-30)

By mid-1929 the Industrial Party had some 2,000 members.
(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 6).

The main source of finance for the Industrial Party was the “Russian Trade and Industrial Committee” (Torgprom), established in Paris in 1920-21. Torgrom was:

“An organisation abroad of former Russian industrialists. Its aim is, first, to defend the interests of the former Russian industrialists abroad; and, secondly, to secure the return of their former enterprises in the USSR, or at least to recover compensation for them.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 15).

“The regular financing of the Industrial Party from abroad began at the end of 1928. . . . From November 1928 to March 1930 about 1,600,000 roubles were received from abroad.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 17).

The Industrial Party:

“. . had its own men at key points”,

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 34).

in order to weaken the economy and arouse the dissatisfaction of the working people, the members of the Industrial Party:

“. . adopted the method of planned sabotage.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 13).

The Plans for Foreign Intervention (1928-30)

However, the Industrial Party realised that sabotage alone would not be sufficient to bring about successful counter-revolution, and so it relied primarily on foreign intervention:

“The ideal of intervention became defined clearly and sharply as the one means for the real achievement of a counter-revolutionary upheaval and the overthrow of the Soviet Government.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 13).

Thus, the Industrial Party secretly allied itself with:

“Official circles in France and, during the first period, England.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 18).

and also engaged in:

‘reconnaissance’,

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 37).

that is, in espionage.

The financing of the intervention was to be carried out mainly from French War Ministry funds, by the oil companies and, to a small extent by Torgprom:

“In regard to the financing of intervention, . . . most of the money was to come through the estimates of the French War Ministry, and then from oil circles. A small portion of these funds was to come from the Torgprom.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 27).

It was planned that the intervention force would be:

“. . a small but strong army of 600,000 to 800,000.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 24).

composed of forces from Poland, Romania and the Baltic States. together with White Russian troops under Generals Pyotr Wrangel* and Pyotr Krasnov*:

“In the forefront were the military forces of Poland and Romania, and then came those of the Baltic States, the Wrangel Army and a small corps of Krasnov’s Cossacks.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 27).

France:

“. . expected to furnish training and general leadership of the military side of intervention.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 27).

while Britain:

“Was supposed to lend assistance through its fleet in the Black Sea and in the Gulf of Finland.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 28).

The plan of the campaign was to bring about a simultaneous attack on Moscow and Leningrad:

”The military plan provided for a simultaneous attack on Moscow and Leningrad. While the southern army was to move through the Western districts of the Ukraine, with its flank on the right bank Dnieper, and so on towards Moscow, the northern army, with the support of the naval and air fleet, was to move against Leningrad.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 29).

It was planned that the intervention forces would be under the overall command of the White Russian General Aleksandr Lukomsky*:

“The leader of the military intervention was to be General Lukomsky.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 21).

and that they would have to establish a military dictatorship:

“Everyone was agreed that a military dictatorship would be necessary at first.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 11).

As the price of their support of intervention, the participating states had put in demands for territorial concessions:

“Poland and Romania for the western territory of the Ukraine, the Deterding* group, and subsequently France for sweeping concessions in the Caucasus and . . . for the separation of the Ukraine and Georgia.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 30).

In his testimony, Ramzin described a meeting with representatives of Torgprom during a visit to Paris in October 1928. There he was told of meetings between leaders of Torgprom and French Prime Minister Raymond Poincare* and Foreign Minister Aristide Briand*. He was informed that Poincare :

“Expressed complete sympathy with the idea of organising intervention against the USSR, and stated that this question had already been turned over to the French General Staff to be worked out.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 21).

Continuing his evidence, Ramzin gave an account of meetings he had had in London with representatives of the British engineering firm of ‘Vickers’ and with the British intelligence agent Thomas Lawrence* (‘Lawrence of Arabia’).

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 20, 26, 36).

The Trial (1930)

On 25 November 1930, the trial began in Moscow of the leaders of the Industrial Party, eight scientists, headed by Leonid Rainzin, former Director of the Thermo-Technical Institute and Professor at the Moscow Technical High School, They were charged with espionage and treason.

The trial was held in public, except for one brief session. The Presiding Judge was Andrey Vyshinsky* and the prosecution was headed by the Public Prosecutor of the RSFSR, Nikolay Kryenko*.

All the defendants pleaded guilty to the charges.

Ramzin testified:

“I unreservedly admit my guilt. . . . I can only succeed in mitigating my guilt by frank and truthful testimony and by sincerely admitting my crimes and mistakes.”

(Leonid Ramzin, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 5-6).

The trial ended on 7 December 1930, when all defendants were found guilty. Five of the defendants, including Ramzin, were sentenced to death, the other three to ten years’ imprisonment. (Andrew Rothstein (Ed.) ibid.; p. 209-10).

On 8 December the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union commuted the death sentences to ten years’ imprisonment, and reduced the terms of imprisonment imposed on the other defendants to eight years.
(Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 212).

In prison, Ramzin was provided with facilities to proceed with his scientific work on boiler design:

“After the trial, he (Ramzin — Ed.) was set to work in prison on boiler construction. Ramzin’s re-employment in penal servitude was not an isolated case.”

(Robert C. Tucker: ‘Stalin in Power: The Revolution from above: 1928-1941’; New York; 1990; p. 100).

International Reactions (1930)

On 24 November 1930, Torgprom issued a statement denying any connection with the accused persons. However, its declaration of innocence was

“somewhat weakened”;

(‘New York Times’, 7 December 1930: Section III, p. 3).

by the assertion in the statement that it would:

“. . continue untiringly its struggle against the Soviet Government. . . . and will continue to prepare for the future emancipation of the Fatherland.”

(Torgprom: Statement of 24 November 1930, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 112).

On 27 November:

“Both former Premier Poincare and Foreign Minister Briand…issued official contradictions of statements made by the Russian Professor Ramzin during his trial in Moscow.”

(‘New York Times’, 27 November 1930; p. 22).

On 28 November the ‘Times’ reported that one of the persons with whom Ramzin had claimed to have had discussions in Paris in 1928, Ryabushinsky, had in fact died some years earlier in France, where he had been:

“. . buried on June 19, 1924.”

(‘Times’, 28 November 1930; p. 16).

However, on 30 November it was revealed in court in Moscow that the Riabushinsky who had died in 1924 was Pavel Riabushinsky, while the Riabushinsky referred to in Ramzin’s testimony was his brother Vladimir, an anti-Soviet newspaper article by whom (dated July 1930) was submitted to the Court in evidence. (Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 107-09).

In general, the British and French press dismissed both the charges and the trial as:

“farcical”;

(‘Times’, 14 November 1930; p. 14).

“BRITISH CALL TRIAL BY REDS A FRAME-UP.”
(‘New York Times’, 29 November 1930; p. 9).

although some left-wing journalists were more honest:

“There was no honest observer, even an enemy of the Soviet Union, who would not reject the suggestion of a ‘staged’ trial as a foolish piece of malice. . . . They (the defendants — Ed.) were guilty and they knew it.”

(Walter H. Holmes: ‘The Wreckers exposed in the Trial ‘of the Counter-Revolutionary Industrial Party’; London; 1931; P. 31 7).

and the more reputable American newspapers – no Americans were involved in the case! – paid tribute to the skill of the prosecutor:

“Mr. Krylenko led them subtly from one admission to another.”

(‘New York Times’, 29 November 1930; p. 9).

and accepted the case against the defendants as proved:

“With the abandonment of NEP (New Economic Policy — Ed.) they took to treason to save their ideals and themselves.”

(‘New York Times’, 29 November 1930; p. 9).

“The testimony is impressive by the sheer weight and mass of detail, and there seems little doubt that the conspiracy, as far as its intent and activities and its connections with the powerful emigre Industrial Union in Paris is concerned, was high-placed, widespread and dangerous.

It is more than probable . . that the conspirators gave valuable information to foreign military espionage services about the Red Army, chemical and munitions factories, and the Soviet air force.”

(‘New York Times’, 30 November 1930; Section III; p. 3).

“To this correspondent, it sounded real.”

(‘New York Times’, 3 December 1930; p. 17).

“That documents once existed might be gathered from the haste of the emigree press, when the indictment was published, to suggest that the charges would be supported by a mass of ‘forged documents’. That none were produced – because, as N. V. Krylenko, the prosecutor, said: ‘The accused were very cautious and destroyed them in time’ – seems to contradict the emigre assertion that the confessions were extracted by torture, since it would be far easier to force a man to accept a faked paper than to make him continue for ten days to swear his own life away by detailed admissions. .

Professor L. K. Ramzin’s speech . . . was full proof of the baselessness of the assertion that he spoke under pressure. . . .

No man could speak words like these under pressure of the ‘third degree’ alone, and they rang so true that eyes were wet among the spectators.”

(‘New York Times’, 7 December 1930; p. 20).

The view that the prosecution had proved its case:

“…is not confined to Communists alone, but is believed almost integrally by the vast majority of the Russian people. .The foreign colony here (in Moscow – Ed..) is generally inclined to think that the prosecution succeeded in building up a pretty convincing foundation. . .

(‘New York Times’, 7 December 1930: Section III; p. 3).

Aftermath

Two years later, in 1932, Ramzin was amnestied:

“. . restored to office and to favour, and even awarded an Order.”

(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror’; Harmondsworth; 1971; p. 225).

“A governmental decree amnestied Ramzin and eight other fellow convicts in the Industrial Party trial for their successful work on boiler design while in prison. Along with the decree was printed a letter of thanks for clemency, in which Ramzin and three others took note of the ‘solicitude for man that the NKVD had shown during their .. . . . imprisonment by providing all the conditions for continued scientific work.”

(Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 322).

“Subsequently, Professor Ramzin completed a number of valuable technical projects. . Ramzin received the State Prize of the USSR in 1943. He was also awarded the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour.”

(‘Great Soviet Encyclopedia’, Volume 21; New York; 1978; p. 134, 486).

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex,

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

BRIAND, Aristide, French lawyer and politician (1862-1932); expelled from Socialist Party (1906); Minister of Education (1906-09); Premier 11 times between 1909 and 1931, most notably 1909-11, 1913, 1915-17 and 1921-22); Minister of Foreign Affairs in 14 successive governments between 1915 and 1931, most notably 1915-17, 1921-22 and 1925-31.

DETERDING, Henri W. A., Dutch oil magnate (1866-1939); Managing Director, Dutch Petroleum Co. (1902-07); Managing Director Royal Dutch Shell group (1907-36); retired (1937); died in Switzerland (1938).

KRASNOV, Pyotr N., Russian military officer (1869-1947); appointed by Kerensky to command troops in Petrograd sent to fight Bolsheviks (1917); to Germany (1919); organised Russian prisoners-of-war into army to fight Soviet forces (1941-45); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1947).

KRYLENKO, Nikolay V., Soviet revisionist lawyer (1885-1938); RSFSR State Prosecutor (1918-31); RSFSR People’s Commissar of Justice (1931-36); USSR People’s Commissar of Justice (1936-38); arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason (1936); died in imprisonment (1938).

LAWRENCE, Thomas E., British soldier and intelligence officer (1883-1935); intelligence officer in North Africa (1914-16); adviser on Arab affairs to Colonial Office (1921-22); in Royal Air Force (1922-35); killed in motor-cycle accident (1935).

LUKOMSKY, Aleksandr S., Russian military officer (1868-1939); arrested by Provisional Government (1917); escaped from prison and fled with Kornilov (1917); Chief of Staff, White Volunteer Army (1918-19); to Constantinople as representative of Wrangel on Allied Council (1920); died in Paris (1939).

POINCARE, Raymond N. L., French politician (1860-1934); Minister of Education (1893, 1895); Minister of Finance (1894, 1906); Senator (1903); Premier (1911-13, 1922-24, 1926-29); President (1913-20).

RAMZIN, Leonid K., Soviet revisionist engineer (1887-1948); Professor, Moscow Higher Technical School (1920-21); Director, All-Union Heat Engineering Institute (1921-30); arrested, tried for and found guilty of espionage and treason (1930); imprisoned (1930-32); amnestied (1932); Professor, Moscow Power Engineering Institute (1944-48).

VYSHINSKY, Andrei I., Soviet Marxist-Leninist lawyer, diplomat and politician (1993-1954); Professor of Criminal Law, Moscow State Ijniversity (1923-25); Rector, Moscow State University (1925-28); RSFSR Public Prosecutor and People’s Commissaar of Justice (1939-33); USSR Public Prosecutor (1935-39); USSR Deputy Foreign Minister (1940-49, 1953); USSR Permanent Representative at UN (1945-49, 1953-54); Deputy Premier (1953); died in New York (1954).

WRANGEL, Pyotr N., Baron, Russian military officer (1878-1928); appointed commander, ~.Thite Russian armed forces (1917); commander-in-chief (1920); evacuated to Constantinople (1929); in exile in Western Europe (1920-28); died in Brussels (1928).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chamberlin, William H.: ‘Russia’s Iron Age’; London; 1935.
Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror; Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; Harmondsworth; 1871.
Fischer, Louis: ‘Machines and Men in Russia’; New York; 1932.
Holmes, Walter H.: ‘The Wreckers exposed in the Trial of the Counter-Revolutionary Industrial Party’; London; 1930.
Krylenko, Nikolay: ‘The Results of the “Industrial Party” Trial’; Moscow; 1931.
Rothstein, Andrew (Ed.): ‘Wreckers on Trial’; London; 1931.
Scheffer, Paul: ‘Seven Years in Soviet Russia’; London; 1931.
Tucker, Robert C.: ‘Stalin in Power: The Revolution from above: 1928-1941’; New York; 1990.
— : ‘Le proces des industriels de Moscou’ (The Trial of the Moscow Industrialists); Paris; 1931.
‘Great Soviet Encyclopedia’, Volume 21; New York; 1978.

‘New York Times
‘Times’.

Source

Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: the Syrtsov/Lominadze Affair

Sergey Syrtsov

Sergey Syrtsov

Vissarion Lominadze

Vissarion Lominadze

The Formation of the Faction (1930)

In 1930 a new opposition faction emerged in the Party, led by Sergey Syrtsov*, then Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars (i.e., Prime Minister) of the Russian Federation, Vissarion (‘Beso’) Lominadze*, then 1st. Secretary of the Regional Party Committee in Transcaucasia. Another member of the faction was Ian Sten*. Syrtsov:

“headed the opposition bloc.”

(Heinrich E. Schwarz, Paul K. Urban & Andrew I. Lebed (Eds.): ‘Who was Who in the USSR’; Metuchen (USA); 1972; p. 531).

The faction took organised form after the 16th Party Congress, which was held in June/July 1930.:

“Three small groups are known to have conspired after the 16th Congress to bring about changes in policy. The first group comprised a number of fairly young members. . . . S. I. Syrtsov, the leader of the group, was Prime Minister of the RSFSP.”

(Ian Grey: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979; p. 255).

“The bloc relied on the support of many secretaries and other local Comrades. A considerable portion of the younger members of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission . . . showed open sympathy for the demands made by the bloc. . . The former oppositionists were represented in the bloc by Sten, a former member of the Central Control Commission.”

(Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; London; 1959;p. 19).

The Political Line of the Faction (1930)

The political line of the Syrtsov-Lominadze faction was one of right opposition to the policy of the Party:

“Syrtsov and Lominadze . . . found common ground in opposition to Stalin’s policies.”

(Robert H. Davies: ‘The Syrtsov-Lominadze Affair’, in: ‘Soviet Studies Volume 33, No. 1 (January 1981); p. 29).

It was essentially a rightist line, demanding that the Party adopt a ‘more moderate’ policy:

“Lominadze . . . . began circulating memoranda and lobbying for a more moderate policy.”

(Ronald C. Suny: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’; London; 1989; p. 251).

“In the late summer or fall of 1930, Lominadze had the Transcaucasian Regional Committee issue a declaration excoriating ‘the lordly feudal attitude towards the interests of the workers and peasants.”

(Ronald G. Suny: ibid.; p. 243).

Firstly, the faction denounced the Party’s economic policy as “adventurist,” demanding a slowdown in industrialization and a halt to collectivisation. For example, in the autumn of 1930:

“Syrtsov and Lominadze . . . circulated a memoir criticising the regime for economic adventurism.”

(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror’; London; 1973 p. 51).

They declared that since:

“the pace of industrialisation was not supportable by existing physical resources, the number of capital projects must be reduced.”

“Syrtsov wanted a halt to collectivisation.”

(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 45).

It was at this time that Syrtsov:

“Made a speech calling for reduced rates of industrial investment.”

(Robert H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 145).

Secondly, the faction denounced “excessive” centralised economic planning as ‘undemocratic’, and demanded that it be replaced, at least partially, by reliance on market forces. For example:

“In the late summer or fall of 1930, Lominadze had the Transcaucasian Regional Committee issue a declaration excoriating: ‘the lordly feudal attitude towards the needs and interests of the workers and peasants’.”

(Ronald C. Suny: op. cit.; p. 251).

This resolution:

“Closely accorded with the tenor of Syrtsov’s speech.'”

(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 41).

at the 16th Party Congress, and reflected:

“The common outlook of Syrtsov and Lominadze.”

(Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 42).

In place of centralised direction of production, the Syrtsov-Lominadze faction demanded that:

“The excessive centralisation and lack of initiative of the system must be curbed. .
Market incentives must be partly resuscitated.”

(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 45. 46).

Thirdly, the faction denounced as untrue the Party’s line that the USSR had entered the period of the construction of socialism.

In the Political Report to the 16th Congress in June 1930, Stalin said:

“We have achieved decisive successes in the struggle for the victory of socialist construction.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Political Report of the Central Committee to the 16th Congress of the CPSTU (b) (June 1930), in: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 385).

However, later the same year Lominadze was insisting that:

“it is hardly possible to say that we have entered the period of socialism.”

(Vissarion V. Lominadze: in: ‘Problemy ekonomiki’ (Problems of Economics), Nos. 11-12, 1930, p. 4-5. cited in: Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 35).

and Lominadze’s resolution referred to in the last paragraph:

“. . . took on Stalin directly when it challenged his declaration that the USSR had entered the period of socialist reconstruction”,

(Ronald C. Suny: op. cit.; p. 251-52).

Fourthly, from 1932 the faction called for the removal of Stalin as Party leader:

“In 1932 . . . memoranda on the need to depose him (Stalin — Ed.) from the post of General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party began to circulate in the highest quarters. Instrumental in the campaign to Oust Stalin were the leading Georgian . . . . Beso Lominadze . . . and Syrtsov, Premier of the Russian Federative SSR.”

(David M. Lang: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962; p. 252).

“Memoranda about the need to depose him (Stalin — Ed.) circulated in his immediate entourage. They were signed by Syrtsov and Lominadze.”

(Isaac Deutscher: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; London; 1967; p. 333).

The aim of the Syrtsov-Lominadze group was to bring about unity between the left and right oppositions:

“His (Syrtsov’s — Ed.) idea was to bridge the gulf between the left and right opopositions with a group to be known by the incongruous title of ‘Right-“Leftist”‘ bloc’.”

(Ian Grey: op. cit.; p. 255).

However, despite their similar policies, the most influential leaders of the right-wing opposition refused to associate themselves with the Syrtsov-Lominadze faction:

“Syrtsov , , tried to organise resistance (to the Party’s policy –Ed.), while the Right leaders were counselling patience.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit. p. 206).

“The right-wing leaders did not associate themselves with Syrtsov and Lominadze; and Bukharin, in his declaration to the Central Committee dated 14 November, explicitly condemned the ‘Syrtsov-Lominadze group.”

(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 45).

Nevertheless:

“Zinoviev and his colleagues . . . and the Trotskyites . . formed a united bloc at the end of 1932. They had been joined also by the Lominadze group.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 155).

The Demotions (1930)

“In 1930 Lominadze visited Syrtsov in Moscow, and for several hours they had a conversation about Party and state affairs. Stalin learned about the conversation.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1971; p. 142).

According to Trotsky’s “Bulletin of the Opposition”:

“When a search was carried out of Syrtsov’s quarters, minutes of meetings were found which made it possible to uncover the bloc.”

(‘Byelletin Oppozitsy’; (Bulletin of the Opposition), Nos. 17-18 (November/December 1930); p. 39).

“Stalin moved against these opponents (the Syrtsov/Lominadze group –Ed.) in October-December 1930.”

(Robert H. McNeal: op. cit.; p. 145).

On 3 November 1930, Syrtsov was dismissed as Russian Premier, and:

“Demoted to director of a factory producing gramophone records.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: op. cit.; p. 142).

while:

“Lominadze was transferred from the Transcaucasian Regional Committee to work in the Commissariat of Trade, and then was sent to Magnitogorsk as secretary of the city’s Party committee.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ibid.; p. 142).

On 1 December 1930 a joint resolution of the Political Bureau and Central Control Commission of the Party removed both Syrtsov and Lominadze from the Central Committee of the Party:

“In November-December 1930, the members of this group — Syrtsov, Lominadze, Shatskin, . . . — were publicly branded as ‘rightists and followers of Rykov* and Tomsky*’ and excluded from the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party.”

(Babette L. Gross: ‘The German Communists’ United-Front and Popular-Front Ventures’, in: Milorad M. Drachkovich & Branko Lazitch (Eds.): ‘The Comintern: Historical Highlights: Essays, Recollections, Documents’; Stanford (USA); 1966; p. 390-91).

“Syrtsov and . . . Lominadze were stripped of their official posts and thrown off the Central Committee”

(Adam B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989; p. 341-42).

The resolution charged Syrtsov with having:

“organised an underground anti-Party group”;

(‘Pravda’, 2 December 1930, in: Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 43).

and Lominadze with having:

“headed for a considerable period a factional anti-Party group.”

(‘Pravda’, 2 December 1930, in: Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 43).

According to a “Letter from Moscow” in Trotsky’s ‘Bulletin of the Opposition’:

“Syrtsov, when accused of forming a bloc, bluntly told the Central Committee that Stalin was ‘a thick-headed man who is leading the country to ruin’.”

(‘Byulletin Oppozitsy’ (Bulletin of the Opposition), No. 19, March 1931; p. 18).

Lominadze’s Self-Criticism (1934)

At the 17th Party Congress in January/February 1934, Lominadze was one of many former Opposition leaders who made insincere self-critical statements:

“The line they took was one of complete Stalinist orthodoxy, replete with compliments to the General Secretary and abuse of his enemies.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 63-64).

in which he:

“admitted that he had been wrong to dispute Stalin’s claim that the USSR had entered the period of socialism. The bloc . . . had overestimated difficulties.”

(Vissarion Lominadze: Speech at 17th Congress of CPSU, in: Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 44).

and admitted engaging in factional activity directed against the Party leadership:

“We concealed our views from the Party, struggled by stealth and entered the path of deception of the Party. . Like every opposition, the Right-‘Leftist’ bloc came out against the leadership of our Party, against the leader of the Party, Comrade Stalin.”

(Vissarion Lominadze: Speech at 17th Congress of CPSU, in: Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 44).

The Arrest of Syrtsov (1935)

In 1935, Syrtsov was arrested, charged with and found guilty of treason, and sentenced to a long term of imprisonment.

The Suicide of Lominadze (1935)

By this time, the authorities had come to realise that Lominadze’s self-criticism had not been sincere, and he was summoned to the district capital, Cheliabinsk. Realising that his treasonable activity had been discovered, he committed suicide:

“Beso Lominadze, who had been allowed to redeem himself and had been appointed secretary of the important Magnitogorsk Party committee, suddenly fell from grace. When he was abruptly summoned to Chelyabinsk by the authorities, he shot himself.”

(Ronald C. Suny: op. cit.; p. 271).

Medvedev confirms this:

“Lominadze was summoned to Cheliabinsk. He shot himself in an automobile on the way.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: op. cit.; p. 167).

The Kamenev/Zinoviev Trial (1936)

At his trial, along with Lev Kamenev* and Grigory Zinoviev*, in August 1936, the terrorist Vagarshak Ter-Vaganyan* testified:

“In the autumn of 1931, my very close connection and friendship with Lominadze began. I met Lominadze frequently, and on these occasions we talked about a bloc.
At that period, the Trotskyites began negotiations for union with the Zinovievites and the ‘Leftists’ (i.e., the Syrtsov/Lominadze group -Ed.). . . . The terroristic stand was perfectly clear.”

(‘Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Centre;’ Moscow; 1936; p. 110).

And the defendant Sergey Mrachovsky* named Lominadze as one of the members:

“of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite terrorist centre.”

(‘Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Centre;’ Moscow; 1936; p. 440).

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU,
Ilford, Essex.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

KAMENEV, Lev B., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Chairman, Moscow Soviet (1919-25); RSFSR Premier (1919); member, Political Bureau (1919-25); RSFSR Deputy Premier (1923); Ambassador to Italy (1926-27); joined ‘United Opposition’ (1926); expelled from Party (1927), readmitted (1928), re-expelled (1932), readmitted (1933), re-expelled (1934); tried for and found guilty of moral complicity in murder of Sergey Kirov and imprisoned (1934); tried for and found guilty of treason and executed (1936).

LOMINADZE, Vissarion (‘Beso’) V., Soviet revisionist politician (1891-1935); secretary, CP of Georgia (1922-24); secretary, Communist Youth International (1925-26); 1st Secretary, Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee (1930); head, Scientific Research Section, USSR People’s Commissariat of Supplies (1931-32); secretary, Magnitogorsk City Party

MRACHOVSKY, Sergey V., Soviet revisionist politician (1888-1930); expelled from Party for factionalism (1927); reinstated in Party and again expelled (1936); arrested, tried, found guilty of treason and executed (1936).

RYKOV, Aleksey I., Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1938); RSFSR People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs (1917); Chairman, Supreme Council of the National Economy (1918-21); RSFSR Deputy Premier (1918-21); member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1922-1930); USSR Premier (1924-30); USSR People’s Commissar of Posts and Telegraphs (1931-36); expelled from Party (1937);
arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason and executed (1938).

SHATSKIN, Lazar A., Soviet revisioist politician (1902-37); 1st Secretary, All-Russian Young Communist League (1918-22); removed from Central Control Commission, CPSU for siding with the Leftist-Rightist bloc (1931); expelled from Party (1935); arrested, tried, found guilty of
treason and imprisoned (1936); died in imprisonment (1937).

STEN, Ian, Soviet revisionist politician (1899-1937); Director, Marx-Engels Institute (1929-32); expelled from Party (1932); arrested (1936); tried for and found guilty of treason and executed (1937).

SYRTSOV, Sergey I., Soviet revisionist politician (1893-1937); editor, ‘Kommunisticheskaia revoliutsya’ (Communist Revolution); Secretary, Siberian Regional Party Committee (1926-29); Premier, RSFSR (1929-30); removed from Central Committee for factionalism (1930); director, Nogin Chemical Plant (1931-36); arrested, tried, found guilty of treason and imprisoned (1936); died in prison (1937).

TER-VAGANYAN Vagarshak A., Soviet revisionist politician (1893-1936); arrested, tried, found guilty of terrorism and executed (1936).

TOMSKY, Mikhail P., Soviet revisionist trade union leader and politician (1880-1936); member, Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1922-29); Chairman, All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions (1921-28); Director, Joint State Publishing House (1928-36); committed suicide to avoid trial for
treason (1936).

ZINOVIEV, Grigory E., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Chairman,
Petrograd Soviet (1917); member, Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1921-26); Chairman, Comintern (1919-26); removed from all posts (1926); expelled from Party; arrested, tried for and found guilty of moral complicity in murder of Sergey Kirov and imprisoned (1935); tried for and found guilty of treason, and executed (1936).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Avtorkhanov, Abdurakhman: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; London; 1959.

Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror’; London; 1973.

Davies, Robert W.: “The Syrtsov-Lominadze Affair’, in: ‘Soviet Studies’, Volume 33, No. 1 (January 1981).

Deutscher, Isaac: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; London; 1967. Drachkovich, Milorad M. & Lazitch, Branko (Eds.): ‘The Comintern: Historical

Highlights: Essays, Recollections, Documents’; Stanford (USA); 1966. Grey, Ian: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979.

Kuromiya, Hiroaki: ‘Stalin’s Industrial Revolution: Politics and Workers’; Cambridge; 1990.

Lang, David N.: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962.

McNeal, Robert H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988,

Medvedey, Roy A.: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalin;’; London; 1971.

Schwarz, Heinrich E., Urban, Paul K. & Lebed, Andrew I. (Eds.): ‘Who was Who in the USSR’; Metuchen (USA); 1972.

Stalin, Josef V.: Political Report of the Central Committee to the 16th Congress of the CPSU(b), in: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955.

Suny, Ronald C.: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’; London; 1989.

Ulam, Adam B.: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989.

‘Buylletin Oppositzy’ (Bulletin of the Opposition), Nos. 17-18 (November/December 1930).
No. 19, March 1931.

‘Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Centre’; Moscow; 1936.

Source

Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: the Ryutin Case (1930-37)

Martemyan Ryutin

Martemyan Ryutin

The Ryutin Platform (1930)

In August 1930 Opposition circles circulated a:

“200 page treatise that reflected the Right’s anti-Stalin position and became known in Party circles as the ‘Ryutin Platform'”

(Robert C. Tucker: ‘Stalin in Power: The Revolution from above: 1928- 1941’; London; 1990; p. 211).

The document bore the name of Martemyan Ryutin*, who was at the time:

“Secretary of the Krasnaya Presnya district Party committee in Moscow, a member of the editorial board of ‘Krasnaya Zvezda’ (Red Star) and a candidate member of the Central Committee”,

(Dmitry Volkogonov: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991; p. 205).

However, both Bukharin and Rykov, when testifying as defendants in the 1938 Moscow treason trial later admitted, that this was a device to conceal its real authorship by the leadership of the Opposition:

“RYKOV: The platform was called after Ryutin, because it was published by supporters of the Rights, the Ryutin group, from Uglanov’s* Moscow organisation. During the investigation instituted in connection with this platform, this group took the whole responsibility upon itself. This had been decided beforehand, so that we should not be called to account for the platform. We managed to do this thanks to the fact that Yagoda* was at the head of the OGPU”.

(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938; (hereafter listed as ‘Report: 1938’); p. 163).

“BUKHARIN: It was called the ‘Ryutin Platform’ for reasons of secrecy. …….in order to conceal the Right centre and its top leadership…… ……The Ryutin platform, . . . the platform of the Right counterrevolutionary organisation, was perhaps already a common platform of the other groups, including the Kamenev*, Zinoviev* and Trotskyite groupings.”

(Report (1938): op. cit.; p. 388, 389).

The Ryutin Platform declared:

“The Right wing has proved correct in the economic field and Trotsky in his criticism of the system in the Party.”

(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Platform, in: Anton Ciliga: ‘The Russian Enigma’; London; 1940; p. 279).

It:

“Urged the immediate readmission (to the Party — Ed.) of all those expelled, including Trotsky”.

(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Platform, in: Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: A Re-assessment’; London; 1990 (hereafter listed as ‘Robert Conquest (1990)’; p. 24).

and it described Stalin as:

“The evil genius of the Revolution who, motivated by a personal desire for power and revenge, brought the Revolution to the verge of ruin.”

(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Platform. in: Boris I. Nikolaevsky: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965; p. 11).

In December 1930:

“The Presidium of the Central Control Commission of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) . . expelled Ryutin from the Party for ‘double-dealing’ and ‘discrediting the Party leadership”‘.

(Arkady Vaksberg: ‘The Prosecutor and the Prey: Vyshinsky and the 1930s Moscow Show Trials’;’ London; 1990; p. 56).

The First Arrest of Ryutin (1930-31)

In January 1931:

“Ryutin . . . was arrested”,

(Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).

and charged with:

“Organising a counter-revolutionary group and anti-Soviet agitation.”

(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 57).

but:

“By a resolution of the OGPU board of 17 January 1931, Ryutin was acquitted ‘on account of insufficient proof of the charge brought against him.”

(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 56-57).

and was:

“even readmitted to the Party with a warning”.

(Robert Conquest: ‘Stalin: Breaker of Nations’; London; 1991 (hereafter listed as ‘Robert Conquest (1991)’; p. 161).

The Ryutin Manifesto (1932)

In June 1932:

“Ryutin and a group of minor officials wrote an ‘Appeal to All Members of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)’ in the name of an All-Union Conference of the Union of Marxist-Leninists’.”

(Robert Conquest: (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).

This 14-page document, was known as:

“Ryutin’s Manifesto.”

(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 332).

In it, Ryutin alleged that:

“lawlessness, arbitrary rule and violence, constant threats are hanging over the head of every worker and peasant. . . . Science literature, art, have been reduced to the status of lowly maidservants and props of Stalin’s leadership. The struggle against opportunism has been debased, caricatured and used as a weapon of slander and terror against independent-minded Party members. The rights of the Party laid down by the Statutes have been usurped by a tiny bunch of unprincipled intriguers.”

(Martemyan Ryutin, in: Arkady Vaksberg: p. 56).

It declared that:

“It is disgraceful and ignominious for proletarian revolutionaries to tolerate Stalin’s yoke, arbitrary rule and the mockery of the Party and the working masses any longer. .
Stalin and his clique are destroying the cause of Communism, and an end must be put to Stalin’s leadership as soon as possible.”

(Martemyan Ryutin, in: Arkady Vaksberg: p. 58).

Thus, the Ryutin Manifesto was:

“Essentially a proclamation calling for the overthrow of Stalin and his clique.”

(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 332).

It declared that:

“Stalin and his clique will not and cannot voluntarily give up their positions, so they must be removed by force . . . as soon as possible.”

(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Manifesto, in: Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).

Not unnaturally:

“Stalin interpreted the Appeal as a call for his assassination”;

(Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).

and defendants in the 1938 Moscow treason trial admitted that the Ryutin Manifesto marked the transition on the part of the Opposition to the tactics of violent counter-revolution and terrorism. According to Aleksey Rykov*, the Ryutin Manifesto

“recognised . . . methods of violence in changing the leadership of the Party and of the country – terrorism and uprisings”,

(Aleksey Rykov: Testimony at 1938 Moscow Treason Trial, in: ‘Report’ (1938); op. cit.; p. 163).

while Nikolay Bukharin* testified that the Ryutin Manifesto:

“registered the transition to the tactics of overthrowing the Soviet power by force.”

(Nikolay Bukharin: ibid.; p. 390).

and that its the essential points:

“were a palace coup’, terrorism”;

(Nikolay Bukharin: ibid.; p. 390).

The Second Arrest of Ryutin (1932)

At a joint meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the CPSU in September/October 1932. the Ryutin group (including Uglanov):

“was expelled from the Party”;

(Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 211).

“As degenerates who have become enemies of Communism and the Soviet regime, as traitors to the Party and the working class who, under the flag of a spurious Marxism-Leninism’, have attempted to create a bourgeois-kulak organisation for the restoration of capitalism, and particularly kulakism, in the USSR’.”

(Resolution of Joint Meeting of CC and CCC of CPSU, (September/October 1932), in: Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 26).

The members of the Ryutin group were then arrested and charged with:

“trying to form a ‘counter-revolutionary bourgeois-kulak organisation’, whose purpose was to restore capitalism in the USSR.”

(Mikhail Heller & Aleksandr Nekrich: ‘Utopia in Power: The History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present’; London; 1986; p. 246).

All the defendants in the Ryutin case were found guilty and:

” . . were . . . given prison terms.”

(Adam B, Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989; p. 349).

Ryutin himself:

“. . got off with a ten-year term.”

(Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 212).

“Ryutin got ten years.”

(Dmitri Volkogonov: op. cit.;p. 206).

Ryutin’s Third Trial (1937)

In January 1937, in the light of new evidence, Ryutin — still serving his sentence — was retried before the Military Tribunal of the USSR Supreme Soviet, this time on the more serious charge of treason. (Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 333).

Ryutin refused to plead or to speak in his defence:

“According to the records of the proceedings:

‘The accused declared that he did not wish to reply to the question of whether he pleaded guilty and in general refused to give any evidence on the charges brought against him. The accused was given the final word in which he said nothing”.

(Arkady Vaksberg: ibid.; p. 333).

He was found guilty, and this time sentenced to death and executed. (Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 212).

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ciliga. Anton: ‘The Russian Enigma’; London; 1940.

Conquest, Robert: ‘Stalin: Breaker of Nations’; London; 1991.

Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror: A Re-assessment’; London; 1990.

Heller, Mikhail & Nekrich, Aleksandr: ‘Utopia in Power: The History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present; London; 1986.

Nikolaevsky, Boris I.: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965.

Tucker, Robert C.: ‘Stalin in Power: The Revolution from above: 1928-1941’; New York; 1990.

Ulam, Adam B.: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989.

Vaksberg, Arkady: ‘The Prosecutor and the Prey: Vyshinsky and the 1930s Moscow Show Trials’; London; 1990.

Volkogonov, Dinitri: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991.

“Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre; Moscow; 1937,

Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites; Moscow; 1938.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

BUKHARIN, Nikolay I., Soviet revisionist journalist and politician (188~ 1938); editor, ‘Pravda’ (191~29); editor, ‘Bolshevik’ (1924-29); member, Political Bureau1 CPSU (1924-29); President, Communist International (1926-29); expelled from Party (1929); readmitted to Party (1934); editor, ‘Izvestia’ (1934-37); arrested (1937); tried for, and found guilty of, treason, and executed (1938).

KAMENEV, Lev B., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Chairman, Moscow Soviet, and simultaneously member. Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1919-25); USSR Ambassador to Italy (192~27); expelled from Party (1927); readmitted to Party (1928); re-expelled from Party (1932); arrested (1935); tried for and found guilty of ‘moral complicity’ in murder of Sergey Kirov and sentenced to imprisonment (1935); tried for and found guilty of actual complicity in murder of Sergey Kirov, and treason, sentenced to death and executed (1936).

RYKOV, Aleksey I, Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1938); Chairman, Supreme Council of National Economy (1918-27); member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1922-30); USSR Premier (1924-29); USSR People’s Commissar of Posts and Telegraphs (1931-36); expelled from Party and arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

RYUTIN, Martemyan, Soviet revisionist economist (1898-1937); District Party Secretary, Irkutsk (1920-26); District Party Secretary, Krasnaya Presnya, Moscow and editor, ‘Krasnaya Zvezda’ (192~30); expelled from Party (1930); acquitted of counter-revolutionary activity and re-admitted to Party (1931); and imprisoned (1931); published ‘Ryutin Manifesto’ for Opposition (1932); re-expelled from Party (1932); arrested, tried for and found guilty of counter-revolutionary activity, sentenced to imprisonment (1932); re-tried for, and found guilty of, treason, sentenced to death and executed (1937).

UGLANOV, Nikolay A., Soviet revisionist politician (1886-1940); secretary, Nizhny Noygorod Party Committee (1922-24); secretary, Moscow Party Committee (1924-28); USSR People’s Commissar of Labour (1928-30); expelled from Party for involvement in Ryutin Case (1932); re-admitted to Party (1934); re-expelled from Party, tried for and found guilty of counter-revolutionary activity, and sentenced to imprisonment (1936); died in imprisonment (1940).

YACODA, Genrikh C., Soviet revisionist politician (1891-1936); USSR People’s Comissar of Internal Affairs (1934-36); arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

ZINOVIEV, Grigory E., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); President, Comunist International (1919-26); member, Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1921-26); expelled from Party (1927); re-admitted to Party (1928); re-expelled (1932); re-admitted (1933); re-expelled (1934); arrested (1935); tried for and found guilty of ‘moral complicity’ in murder of Sergey Kirov, and imprisoned (1935); tried for and found guilty of actual complicity in murder of Kirov, and treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

Source

Bill Bland: The “Cult of the Individual” (1934-52)

greathelmsman

A paper read by Bill Bland to the Stalin Society in May 1991.

Introduction

Bland was the founder of the Stalin Society (UK), but was expelled some years later for daring to challenge assumptions (“truths”) about Mao and the Comintern, and only finally re-instated as a member just before his death.

He detested all attempts at refusal to deal honestly with facts.

He put this to good example here, in this speech on the Cult of Personality surrounding Stalin.

Members of the Stalin Society objected to its novel interpretations of how and who had erected this cult.

This talk took many iterations in Bill’s life, but started as a talk to the Youth of the Communist League in 1976. It remains relevant today.

The “Cult of the Individual” (1934-52)

On 14 February 1956 Nikita Khrushchev, (Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet revisionist politician (1894-1971); First Secretary of Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1953-64); Premier (1958-64) then First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, publicly, but obliquely, attacked Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Party:

“It is of paramount importance to re-establish and to strengthen in every way the Leninist principle of collective leadership. . . .The Central Committee . . . vigorously condemns the cult of the individual as being alien to the spirit of Marxism-Leninism.”

(N. S. Khrushchev: Report to the Central Committee, 20th Congress of the CPSU, February 1056; London; 1956; p. 80-81).

In his “secret speech” to the same Congress on 25 February (leaked to the US State Department but not published within the Soviet Union) attacked Stalin more directly, asserting that

“… the cult of the individual acquired such monstrous size chiefly because Stalin himself, using all conceivable methods, supported the glorification of his own person.”

(Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): ‘The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism’; New York; 1956; p. 69).

Yet many witnesses testify to Stalin’s simplicity and modesty.

The French writer Henri Barbusse (1873-1935) describes the simplicity of Stalin’s life-style:

“One goes up to the first floor, where white curtains hang over three of the windows. These three windows are Stalin’s home. In the tiny hall a long military cloak hangs on a peg beneath a cap. In addition to this hall there are three bedrooms and a dining-room. The bedrooms are as simply furnished as those of a respectable, second-class hotel. . . The eldest son, Jasheka, sleeps at night in the dining room, on a divan which is converted into a bed; the younger sleeps in a tiny recess, a sort of alcove opening out of it. Each month he earns the five hundred roubles which constitute the meagre maximum salary of the officials of the Communist Party (amounting to between £20 and £25 in English money). . . . This frank and brilliant man is a simple man. He does not employ thirty-two secretaries, like Mr. Lloyd George; he has only one. . .

Stalin systematically gives credit for all progress made to Lenin, whereas the credit has been in very large measure his own.”

(H. Barbusse: ‘Stalin: A New World seen through One Man’; London; 1935; p. vii, viii, 291, 294).

True, Stalin had the use of a dacha, or country cottage, but here too his life was equally simple, as his daughter Svetlana relates:

“It was the same with the dacha at Kuntsevo. . . .

My father lived on the ground floor. He lived in one room and made it do for everything. He slept on the sofa, made up at night as a bed.”

(S. Alliluyeva: ‘Letters to a Friend’; London; 1967; p. 28).

The Albanian leader Enver Hoxha (Albanian Marxist-Leninist politician (1908-85); leader of the Communist Party of Albania (later the Party of Labour of Albania)(1941- 85); Prime Minister (1944-54); Minister of Foreign Affairs (1946-54) describes Stalin as “modest” and “considerate”:

“Stalin was no tyrant, no despot. He was a man of principle; he was just, modest and very kindly and considerate towards people, the cadres and his colleagues.”

(E. Hoxha: ‘With Stalin: Memoirs’; Tirana; 1979; p. 14-15).

The British Fabians Sidney and Beatrice Webb (Sidney Webb, British economist (1859-1947); Beatrice Webb, British economist and sociologist (1858-1943), in their monumental work “Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation,” emphatically reject the notion that Stalin exercised dictatorial power:

“Sometimes it is asserted that the whole state is governed by the will of a single person, Josef Stalin . . First let it be noted that, unlike Mussolini, Hitler and other modern dictators, Stalin is not invested by law with any authority over his fellow-citizens. He has not even the extensive power . . . . .which the American Constitution entrusts for four years to every successive president. . . . .Stalin is not, and never has been, . . . . the President of the USSR. . . . .He is not even a People’s Commissar, or member of the Cabinet.

He is . . . the General Secretary of the Party.

We do not think that the Party is governed by the will of a single person, or that Stalin is the sort of person to claim or desire such a position. He has himself very explicitly denied any such personal dictatorship in terms which certainly accord with our own impression of the facts.

The Communist Party in the USSR has adopted for its own organisation the pattern which we have described. . . . . . In this pattern individual dictatorship has no place. Personal decisions are distrusted, and elaborately guarded against. In order to avoid the mistakes due to bias, anger, jealousy, vanity and other distempers . . . . it is desirable that the individual will should always be controlled by the necessity of gaining the assent of colleagues of equal grade, who have candidly discussed the matter and who have to make themselves jointly responsible for the decision. . . . .Stalin . . . . has . . . . frequently pointed out that he does no more than carry out the decisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. . . The plain truth is that, surveying the administration of the USSR during the past decade under the alleged dictatorship of Stalin, principal decisions have manifested neither the promptitude nor the timeliness, nor yet the fearless obstinacy that have often been claimed as the merits of a dictatorship. On the contrary, the action of the Party has frequently been taken after consideration-so prolonged, and as the outcome of discussion sometimes so heated and embittered, as to bear upon their formulation the marks of hesitancy and lack of assurance. . . .These policies have borne . . . . the stigmata of committee control.”

(S. & B. Webb: ‘Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation’; London; p.. 4231, 432, 433, 435).

Perhaps Barbusse, Hoxha and the Webbs may be considered biased witnesses. Yet observers who are highly critical of Stalin agree with the testimony of the former.

The American diplomat Joseph Davies (Joseph Davies, American lawyer and diplomat (1876-1958); Chairman (1915-16) and Vice-Chairman (1916-18) of Federal Trade Commission; Ambassador to Moscow (1936-38), to Belgium (1938-39) remarks on Stalin’s simple, kindly manner:

“I was startled to see the door . . . open and Mr. Stalin come into the room alone.. . . . His demeanour is kindly, his manner almost depreciatingly simple. . . .He greeted me cordially with a smile and with great simplicity, but also with a real dignity. . . .His brown eye is exceedingly kindly and gentle. A child would like to sit in his lap and a dog would sidle up to him.”

(J. E. Davies: ‘Mission to Moscow’; London; 1940; p. 222, 230).

Isaac Don Levine (Isaac Don Levine, Russian-born American newspaper correspondent (1892-1981) writes in his hostile biography of Stalin:

“Stalin does not seek honours. He loathes pomp. He is averse to public displays. He could have all the nominal regalia in the chest of a great state. But he prefers the background”

(I. D. Levine: ‘Stalin: A Biography’; London; 1931; p. 248-49).

Another hostile critic, Louis Fischer (Louis Fischer, American writer (1896-1970), testifies to Stalin’s “capacity to listen”:

“Stalin . . . inspires the Party with his will-power and calm. Individuals in contact with him admire his capacity to listen and his skill in improving on the suggestions and drafts of highly intelligent subordinates.”

(L. Fischer: Article in: ‘The Nation’, Volume 137 (9 August 1933); p. 154).

Eugene Lyons (Eugene Lyons, Russian-born American writer (1898-1985), in his biography entitled “Stalin: Czar of All the Russias,” describes Stalin’s simple way of life:

“Stalin lives in a modest apartment of three rooms. . . . In his everyday life his tastes remained simple almost to the point of crudeness. .. Even those who hated him with a desperate hate and blamed him for sadistic cruelties never accused him of excesses in his private life.

Those who measure ‘success’ by millions of dollars, yachts and mistresses find it hard to understand power relished in austerity. . .

There was nothing remotely ogre-like in his looks or conduct, nothing theatrical in his manner. A pleasant, earnest, ageing man — evidently willing to be friendly to the first foreigner whom, he had admitted to his presence in years. ‘He’s a thoroughly likeable person’, I remember thinking as we sat there, and thinking it in astonishment.”

(E. Lyons: ‘Stalin: Czar of All the Russias’; Philadelphia; 1940; p. 196, 200).

Lyons asked Stalin. “Are you a dictator?”:

“Stalin smiled, implying that the question was on the preposterous side.

‘No’, he said slowly, ‘I am no dictator. Those who use the word do not understand the Soviet system of government and the methods of the Soviet system of government and the methods of the Communist Party. No one man or group of men can dictate. Decisions are made by the Party and acted upon by its organs, the Central Committee and the Politburo.”‘

(E. Lyons: ibid.; p. 203).

The Finnish revisionist Arvo Tuominen (Arvo Tuominen, Finnish revisionist politician (1894-1981) — strongly hostile to Stalin — comments in his book “The Bells of the Kremlin” on Stalin’s personal self -effacement:

“In his speeches and writings Stalin always withdrew into the background, speaking only of communism, the Soviet power and the Party, and stressing that he was really a representative of the idea and the organisation, nothing more.. . . . I never noticed any signs of vainglory in Stalin.”

(A. Tuominen: ‘The Bells of the Kremlin’; Hanover (New Hampshire, USA); 1983; p. 155, 163).

and expresses surprise at the contrast between the real Stalin and the propaganda picture spread of him:

“During my many years in Moscow I never stopped marvelling at the contrast between the man and the colossal likenesses that had been made of him. That medium-sized, slightly pock-marked Causasian with a moustache was as far removed as could be from that stereotype of a dictator. But at the same time the propaganda was proclaiming his superhuman abilities.”

(A. Tuominen: ibid.,; p. 155).

The Soviet marshal Georgy Zhukov (Georgy Zhukov, Soviet military officer (1896-1974); Chief of Staff (1941); Marshal (1943); Minister of Defence (1955-57) speaks of Stalin’s “lack of affectation”:

“Free of affectation and mannerisms, he (Stalin — Ed.) won the heart of everyone he talked with.”

(G. K. Zhukov: ‘The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov’; London; 1971; p. 283).

Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva (Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin’s daughter (1926- ) is gullible enough to accept almost every slander circulated about her father, but even she dismisses the charge that he himself engineered the ‘cult’ of his personality. She describes a train trip with Stalin from the Crimea to Moscow in 1948:

“As we pulled in at the various stations we’d go for a stroll along the platform. My father walked as far as the engine, giving greetings to the railway workers as he went. You couldn’t see a single passenger. It was a special train and no one was allowed on the platform. Who ever thought such a thing up? . . . . Who had contrived all these stratagems? Not he. It was the system of which he himself was a prisoner and in which he suffered from loneliness, emptiness and lack of human companionship. . . Nowadays when I read or hear somewhere that my father used to consider himself practically a god, it amazes me that people who knew him well can even say such a thing.. . . He never thought of himself as a god.”

(S. Alleluyeva: ‘Letters to a Friend’; London; 1968; p. 202-03, 213).

She describes the grief of the servants at the dacha when Stalin died:

“These men and women who were servants of my father loved him. In little things he wasn’t hard to please. On the contrary, he was courteous, unassuming and direct with those who waited on him. . .Men, women, everyone, started crying all over again. . . .

No one was making a show of loyalty or grief. All of them had known one another for years. . . . . .

No one in this room looked on him as a god or a superman, a genius or a demon. They loved and respected him for the most ordinary human qualities, those qualities of which servants are the best judges of all.”

(S. Alliluyeva: ibid,; p. 20, 22).

Furthermore, the facts show that on numerous occasions denounced and ridiculed the “cult of the individual” as contrary to Marxism-Leninism. For example,

June 1926
“I must say in all conscience, comrades, that I do not deserve a good half of the flattering things that have been said here about me. I am, it appears, a hero of the October Revolution, the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet, the leader of the Communist International, a legendary warrior-knight and all the rest of it. This is absurd, comrades, and quite unnecessary exaggeration. It is the sort of thing that is usually said at the graveside of a departed revolutionary. But I have no intention of dying yet. . . . .
I really was, and still am, one of the pupils of the advanced workers of the Tiflis railway workshops.”
(J. V. Stalin: `Works’, Volume 8; Moscow; 1954; p. 182)

October 1927
“And what is Stalin? Stalin is only a minor figure.”
(J. V. Stalin: `Works’. Volume 10; Moscow; Moscow; 1954; p. 177).

December 1929
“Your congratulations and greetings I place to the credit of the great Party of the working class which bore me and reared me in its own image and likeness. And just because I place them to the credit of our glorious Leninist Party, I make bold to tender you my Bolshevik thanks.”
(J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 146).

April 1930
“There are some who think that the article ‘Dizzy with Success’ was the result of Stalin’s personal initiative. That, of course, is nonsense. It is not in order that personal initiative is a matter like this be taken by anyone, whoever he might be, that we have a Central Committee.”
(J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, ibid.; p. 218).

August 1930
“You speak of your devotion’ to me.. . . . I would advise you to discard the ‘principle’ of devotion to persons. It is not the Bolshevik way. Be devoted to the working class, its Party, its state. That is a fine and useful thing. But do not confuse it with devotion to persons, this vain and useless bauble of weak-minded intellectuals.”
(J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, Volume 13; Moscow; 1955; p. 20).

December 1931
“As for myself, I am just a pupil of Lenin’s, and the aim of my life is to be a worthy pupil of his. . . .

Marxism does not deny at all the role played by outstanding individuals or that history is made by people. But great people are worth anything at all only to the extent that they are able correctly to understand these conditions, to understand how to change them. If they fail to understand these conditions and want to alter them according to the promptings of their imagination, they will find themselves in the situation of Don Quixote. . . . .

Individual persons cannot decide. Decisions of individuals are ,always, or nearly always, one-sided decisions. . . . . In every collective body, there are people whose opinion must be reckoned with. . . . . From the experience of three revolutions we know that out of every 100 decisions taken by individual persons without being tested and corrected collectively, approximately 90 are one-sided. . . . . Never under any circumstances would our workers now tolerate power in the hands of one person. With us personages of the greatest authority are reduced to nonentities, become mere ciphers, as soon as the masses of the workers lose confidence in them.”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 107-08, 109, 113).

February 1933
“I have received your letter ceding me your second Order as a reward for my work. I thank you very much for your warm words and comradely present. I know what you are depriving yourself of in my favour and appreciate your sentiments.

Nevertheless, I cannot accept your second Order. I cannot and must not accept it, not only because it can only belong to you, as you alone have earned it, but also because I have been amply rewarded as it is by the attention and respect of comrades and, consequently, have no right to rob you. Orders were instituted not for those who are well known as it is, but mainly for heroic people who are little known and who need to be made known to all. Besides, I must tell you that I already have two Orders. That is more than one needs, I assure you.”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 241).

May 1933
Robins: I consider it a great honour to have an opportunity of paying you a visit.
Stalin: There is nothing particular in that. You are exaggerating.
Robins: What is most interesting to me is that throughout Russia I have found the names Lenin-Stalin, Lenin-Stalin, Lenin-Stalin, linked together.
Stalin: That, too, is an exaggeration. How can I be compared to Lenin?”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 267)

February 1938
“I am absolutely against the publication of ‘Stories of the Childhood of Stalin’.

The book abounds with a mass of inexactitudes of fact, of alterations, of exaggerations and off unmerited praise. . But . . . . the important thing resides it the fact that the book has a tendency to engrave on the minds of Soviet children (and people in general) the personality cult of leaders, of infallible heroes. This is dangerous and detrimental. The theory of ‘heroes’ and the ‘crowd’ is not a Bolshevik, but a Social-Revolutionary (Anarchist) theory. I suggest we burn this book.”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 327).

Thus, the “cult of the individual” as built up around Stalin was contrary to Marxism-Leninism and its practice was contrary to the expressed wishes of Stalin”.

This raises an important question.

When I expressed at a previous meeting of the Stalin Society the view that the Marxist-Leninists were in a minority in the Soviet leadership from the late 1920s, there were loud murmurs of dissent from some members.

But we have seen that, although Stalin expressed strong opposition to the “cult of personality,” the “cult of personality” continued.

It therefore follows irrefutably that

1) either Stalin was unable to stop it,
2) or he did not want to stop it and so was a petty-minded, lying, non-Marxist-Leninist, hypocrite.

The Initiators of the “Cult”

But if the “cult of personality” around Stalin was not built up by Stalin, but against his wishes, by whom was it built up?

The facts show that the most fervent exponents of the ‘cult of personality’ around Stalin were revisionists and concealed revisionists like Karl Radek (Soviet revisionist politician (1885-1939); pleaded guilty at his public trial to terrorism and treason (1937); murdered in prison by fellow-prisoner (1939), Nikita Khrushchev and Anastas Mikoyan (Soviet revisionist politician (1895-1978); Politburo member (1935-78); People’s Commissar for Trade (1926-31), for Supply (1931-34), for Food Industry (1934-38), for Foreign Trade (1938-49) Deputy Premier (1946-64); President (1964-65).

Roy Medvedev (Soviet revisionist historian (1925- ) points out that:

“The first issue of ‘Pravda;’ for 1934 carried a huge two-page article by Radek, heaping orgiastic praise on Stalin. The former Trotskyite, who had led the opposition to Stalin for many years, now called him ‘Lenin’s best pupil, the model of the Leninist Party, bone of its bone, blood of its blood’. . . . He ‘is as far-sighted as Lenin’, and so on and on. This seems to have been the first large article in the press specifically devoted to the adulation of Stalin, and it was quickly reissued as a pamphlet in 225,000 copies, an enormous figure for the time.”

(R. A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1972; p. 148).

At his public trial in January 1937 Radek admitted to terrorism and treason:

“Vyshinsky: What did Mrachovsky (Soviet Trotskyist politician (1883-1936); pleaded guilty to terrorism and treason at his public trial in August 1936 and was sentenced to death) reply?

Radek: He replied quite definitely that the struggle had entered the terrorist phase. . . In April 1933 Mrachovsky asked me whether I would mention any Trotskyite in Leningrad who would undertake the organisation of a terrorist group there.

Vyshinsky: Against whom?

Radek: Against Kirov (Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1886-1934); Secretary of CPSU in Azerbaijan (1921-36), in Leningrad (1926-34); Member of Politburo (1930-34); assassinated by terrorist (1934) of course.

Vyshinsky: In 1934-35 your position was that of organised, systematic perpetration of terrorist acts?

Radek: Yes. We would inevitably have to bring the social structure of the USSR into line with the victorious fascist countries . . . a pseudonym for the restoration of capitalism. It was clear to us that this meant fascism. . . serving foreign finance capital. It was planned to surrender the Ukraine to Germany and . . the Maritime province and the Amur region to Japan.”

(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre; Moscow; 1937; p. 88, 90, 103, 115).

It was Khrushchev who introduced the term “vozhd” (“leader,” corresponding to the German word “Fuhrer”). At the Moscow Party Conference in January 1932, Khrushchev finished his speech by saying:

“The Moscow Bolsheviks, rallied around the Leninist Central Committee as never before, and around the ‘vozhd’ of our Party, Comrade Stalin, are cheerfully and confidently marching toward new victories in the battles for socialism, for world proletarian revolution.”

(‘Rabochaya Moskva’, 26 January 1932, cited in: L. Pistrak: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961; p. 159).

At the 17th Party Conference in January 1934 it was Khrushchev, and Khrushchev alone, who called Stalin “vozhd of genius.” (XVII s’ezd Vsesoiuznoi Kommunisticheskoi Partii (B.); p, 145, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid.; p. 160).

In August 1936, during the treason trial of Lev Kamenev (Soviet ; sentenced to death and executed (1936) and Grigory Zinoviev (Soviet Trotskyist politician (1883-1936); President of Communist International (1919-26); admitted to treason at his public trial (1936); sentenced to death and executed (1936), Khrushchev, in his capacity as Moscow Party Secretary, said:

“Miserable pygmies! They lifted their hands against the greatest of all men. . . . our wise ‘vozhd’, Comrade Stalin! Thou, Comrade Stalin, hast raised the great banner of Marxism-Leninism high over the entire world and carried it forward. We assure thee, Comrade Stalin, that the Moscow Bolshevik organisation — the faithful supporter of the Stalinist Central Committee — will increase Stalinist vigilance still more, will extirpate the Trotskyite-Zinovievite remnants, and close the ranks of the Party and non-Party Bolsheviks even more around the Stalinist Central Committee and the great Stalin.”

(‘Pravda’, 23 August 1936, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,; p. 162).

At the Eighth All-Union Congress of Soviets in November 1936 it was again Khrushchev who proposed that the new Soviet Constitution, which was before the Congress for approval, should be called the “Stalinist Constitution” because “it was written from beginning to end by Comrade Stalin himself.” (‘Pravda’, 30 November 1936, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid.; p. 161).

It has to be noted that Vyacheslav Molotov (Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1890-1986); Member of Politburo (1926-53); Prime Minister (1930-41); Deputy Prime Minister (1941-57); Minister of Foreign Affairs (1939-49, 1953-56); Ambassador to Mongolia (1957-60), then Prime Minister, and Andrey Zhdanov (Andrey Zhdanov. Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1948); Member of Politburo (1935-48), then Party Secretary in Leningrad) did not mention any special role by Stalin in the drafting of the Constitution.

In the same speech Khrushchev coined the term “Stalinism”:

“Our Constitution is the Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism that has conquered one sixth of the globe.” (Ibid.).

Khrushchev’s speech in Moscow to an audience of 200,000 at the time of the treason trial of Grigori Pyatakov (Grigory Pyatakov, Soviet Trotskyist politician (1890-1937); Assistant People’s Commissar for Heavy Industry (1931-37); admitted to treason at his public trial (1937); sentenced to death and executed (1937) and Karl Radek in January 1937 was in a similar vein:

“By lifting their hands against Comrade Stalin they lifted them against all the best that humanity possesses. For Stalin is hope; he is expectation; he is the beacon that guides all progressive mankind. Stalin is our banner! Stalin is our will! Stalin is our victory!”

(‘Pravda’, 31 January 1937), cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,; p., 162).

Stalin was described by Khrushchev in March 1939 as:

“. . . . our great genius, our beloved Stalin”,

(‘Visti VTsVK’, 3 March 1939, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,; p. 164)

at the 18th Congress of the Party in March 1939 as:

“…the greatest genius of humanity, teacher and ‘vozhd’, who leads us towards Communism, our very own Stalin.”

(XVIII s’ezd Vsesoiueznoi Kommunisticheskoi Partii (B). in: p. 174; cited in L. Pistrak: ibid,; p. 164).

and in May 1945 as

“. . . . great Marshal of the Victory.”

(‘Pravda Ukrainy’, 13 May 1945, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid.; p. 164).

On the occasion of the celebration of Stalin’s fiftieth birthday in December 1929, Anastas Mikoyan accompanied his congratulations with the demand

“that we, meeting the rightful demand of the masses, begin finally to work on his biography and make it available to the Party and to all working people in our country.”

(‘Izvestia’, 21 December 1929, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,;164).

Ten years later, on the occasion of Stalin’s sixtieth birthday in December 1939, Mikoyan was still urging the creation of a “. . . scientific biography” (‘Pravda’, 21 December 1939, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,.; p. 158) of Stalin.

The biography was eventually published in 1947, compiled by “G. F. Alexandrov, M. R. Galaktionov, V. S. Kruzhkov, M. B. Mitin, V. D. Mochalov and P. N. Pospelov” (‘Joseph Stalin: A Short Biography’; Moscow; 1947).

However, in his “secret speech” to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, basing himself on the “cult of the individual” which he and his colleagues had built up around Stalin, Khrushchev attributed the authorship of the book to Stalin himself:

“One of the most characteristic examples of Stalin’s self -glorification and of his lack of even elementary modesty is the edition of his ‘Short Biography’. This book is an example of the most dissolute flattery.”

(Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 69).

Motives for Building up the “Cult of the Individual”

Of course, many Soviet citizens admired Stalin and expressed this admiration. But clearly, the “cult of the individual” around Stalin was built up mainly by the concealed revisionists, against Stalin’s wishes, in order:

Firstly, to disguise the fact that the Party and the Communist International were dominated by concealed revisionists and to present the fiction that these were dominated personally by Stalin; thus blame for breaches of socialist legality and for deviations from Marxist-Leninist principles on their part could later be laid on Stalin;

Secondly, to provide a pretext for attacking Stalin at a later date (under the guise of carrying out a programme of “democratisation,” which was in fact a programme of dismantling socialism.

That Stalin himself was not unaware of the fact that concealed revisionists were the main force behind the “cult of persona lily” was reported by the Finnish revisionist Tuominen in 1935, who describes how, when he was informed that busts of him had been given prominent places in the Moscow’s leading art gallery, the Tretyakov, Stalin exclaimed:

“That’s downright sabotage!” (A. Touminen: op. cit.; p. 164).

The German writer Lion Feuchtwanger (Lion Feuchtwanger, German writer (1884-1958) in 1936 confirms that Stalin suspected that the “cult of personality” was being fostered by “wreckers” with the aim of discrediting him:

“It is manifestly irksome to Stalin to be worshipped as he is, and from time to time he makes fun of it. … Of all the men I know who have power, Stalin is the most unpretentious. I spoke frankly to him about the vulgar and excessive cult made of him, and he replied with equal candour. . . He thinks it is possible even that ‘wreckers’ may be behind it in an attempt to discredit him.”

(L. Feuchtwanger: ‘Moscow 1937’; London; 1937; p., 93, 94-95).

To conclude, the attack made by the revisionists on the ‘cult of personality’ in the Soviet Union was an attack not only upon Stalin personally as a leading Marxist-Leninist, a leading, defender of socialism, but as the first stage in an attack upon Marxism-Leninism and the socialist system in the Soviet Union.

Perhaps the best comment on it is the sarcastic toast which the Finnish revisionist Tuominen records as having been proposed by Stalin at a New Year Party in 1935:

“Comrades! I want to propose a toast to our patriarch, life and sun, liberator of nations, architect of socialism (he rattled off all the appelations applied to him in those days), Josef Vissarionovich Stalin, and I hope this is the first and last speech made to that genius this evening.”

(A. Tuominen: op. cit.; p. 162).

Source

“Theses on Art” from the League of Socialist Artists

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Introduction from Alliance for web presentation (Alliance 2000).

The “Theses on Art,” were put forward in 1972, by the “League of Socialist Artists”; and the “Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain (MLOB).”

The latter was the progenitor of the Communist League (CL).

This article was first re-printed by Alliance in hard copy with poems of Nazim Hikmet, as illustrated by the Socialist artist Maureen Scott, in issue number 8.

We have still not found a better and more concise and clear expression of Socialist aesthetics and thus offer this in web form.

It is preceded by short introductions to the First and the Second Editons.
After the “Theses,” is a short “Manifesto Of Socialist Arts.”

This, will form the first part of an on-going series on socialist aesthetics.

INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EDITION

Of all spheres of Marxist-Leninist science, none has been so neglected, both by its classic founders and subsequent practitioners, as that of aesthetics. So far as the written heritage of Marx, Engels and Lenin is concerned, they were all to one degree or another compelled by the intensity of the struggle to concentrate their attention almost exclusively on problems more directly and closely relevant to the class struggle of the proletariat. In the case of J. V. Stalin an admittedly altogether larger contribution was made, but this again was restricted to certain fundamental theoretical questions largely concerned with the relationship between base and superstructure. (‘Marxism and Linguistics’)

The two names most closely associated with the development of Marxist aesthetics are, without doubt, Andrei Zhdanov and Georg Lukacs (Cf. Speech at the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers: A. Zhdanov; and Lukacs’ many works of theory and criticism, of which ‘The Historical Novel’ is perhaps the most important). As regards problems relating more generally to questions of reflective and effective content, it was Zhdanov who took the vitally important initiative, at a crucial moment in the history of the –Soviet Union and the CPSU(B), to combat various manifestations of schematic (mechanical or idealist distortions in the realisation of effective content) and formalism (abdication from the need to develop content through concentration on questions of form, not to illuminate and express an effective content, but for their own sake).

On the other hand, the work of Lukacs – so much lengthier, more complete and systematised than Zhdanov’s speeches – manifests certain tendencies towards over-estimating the value of classical critical realism in the literature of the bourgeoisie, and to evaluate these on an equal level with socialist realism to the detriment of the latter. Furthermore, since the collapse of the international communist movement to modern revisionism subsequent upon the death of J.V. Stalin, Lukacs has been at pains to repudiate his earlier correct, not to say pioneering, work and is now performing yeoman service on behalf of the right-revisionist centre in Moscow. This he is doing by denying in general any validity whatever of aesthetics as a science – thereby negating both his own earlier work and the objective growth and subjective need by the class conscious revolutionary proletariat wherever it may arise, of an art and Literature fully capable of expressing the world view and historical destiny of the proletariat as the prime mover of the socialist revolution.

The experience of past revolutionary movements of the proletariat – in particular in such developed monopoly capitalist countries as Germany, France, Britain and Italy before the rise of modern revisionism – reveals that, whereas revolutionary art may have been considered at that time as very much a secondary matter – as almost a luxury, in fact – today it has become a prime necessity to the building of any revolutionary proletarian mass movement in those countries. The tremendously intensified and wide-spread scale on which fetishistic, sensuously degraded and formalist art is being deployed for the purpose of achieving the more-or-less universal corruption of standards of judgment, sensitivity of emotional response and, ultimately, stultification of intellectual insight and capacity amongst ever more numerous sections of the working people, renders the task of neutralising this poison through the creation of an alternative organised network of centres of collective, proletarian cultural and artistic work of, by and for the class conscious revolutionary proletariat one of the fundamental prerequisites for the growth of the revolutionary mass movement, the mass base of the socialist revolution, to the necessary level of overwhelming superiority of forces which is indispensable if the vastly powerful and predatory state apparatus of monopoly capital is to be smashed and destroyed and the state of the democratic dictatorship of the working class is to achieve final victory. This work of revolutionary creativity and creation will form a vitally important part of the process of growth and the steady consolidation day by day of the structure and cohesive organisation of the revolutionary Red Front.

This great and growing regenerative cultural front, the inspirer and mobiliser of the working masses, the agency for their liberation from the soporific anodyne of culture-reaction, would enable workers and working people at all levels of class consciousness and militancy, each level through its appropriate forms, to contribute to the growth of the new proletarian-socialist culture which, like the socialist revolution itself, must and can only be born and grow strong out of that cleansing and purifying crucible of experience which is the bitter, steely hard, pitilessly uncompromising and all-demanding revolutionary class struggle which will surely arise and develop throughout the coming corporate-fascist era of capitalism, the eleventh hour of capitalism’s doom.

It is for all these reasons, of course, that the concealed representatives of monopoly capital posing within the ranks of the proletariat as “progressive artists,” at the head of which stand those hardened enemies of the working class and socialism, the modern revisionists and trotskyites, have obstructed the development of socialist aesthetics. In two recently published journals in particular – “Artery,” the journal of the revisionist Communist Party’s artists group, and “7 Days,” the latest essay in pop-kitsch produced by the businessmen of the “New Left” – have these reactionary tasks been taken up. Thus, in the October 1971 edition of “Artery,” we read, in an article by the revisionist “theoretician” Mike Steadman:

“Again, whilst the notion of Realism may be a very powerful tool in literary criticism, or in criticism of the visual arts, we are often guilty of quite grandiosely exterpolating and extending this analysis from one sort of art form, where it may be applicable, to other forms where it is not. Correspondingly, I believe that our all too frequent insistence that art is good art which most furthers the class struggle is another and related criterion which collapses before the same objection. My feeling is, that we have failed to develop a Marxist theory of art despite the fact of brilliant work by individual theoreticians in particular fields.” (‘Artery’, page 5).

By propagating this kind of liberal eclecticism, the treacherous revisionists attempt at one and the same time to “destroy” the unity of Marxist-Leninist theory and to give themselves the airs of “learned fools,” as Lenin once called this type of class traitor.

A little further we read:

‘The battle, the class struggle in art, is between the way in which industrial society alienates the human being and what we believe is to be the way in which we should struggle against this. That is, in raising as a political goal, raising in our daily lives, the need to expand, continuously, the art of a free creative labour.”(ibid; p 6).

So, in the place of the struggle to mobilise and build up the revolutionary consciousness of the proletariat stage by stage in preparation for the socialist revolution, we are presented with the misty goal of a mythical struggle –so fine-sounding in words, but devoid of any real class significance – to realise “free creative labour” even whilst capitalist production relations and the dictatorship of the capitalist class through its oppressive state apparatus still exist. The work of the co-partners of, revisionism in this counter-revolutionary task, the trotskyites, complements the encouragement of bourgeois dictatorship in the arts by advocating the “progressive” character of the distorted drug-orientated “underground culture” fanned by ‘capitalism and attacking the genuine struggle for a’ revolutionary culture.

In the coming final stage of growth of the proletarian-socialist revolution which lies ahead, both in the developed countries and on a world scale, the revolutionary proletariat will need its Gorkys, its Ostrovskys, its Anna Seghers. It is as a concise, simple and yet fully comprehensive theoretical guide to action in commencing upon the long and difficult tasks revealed in this guide that the Provisional Committee of the Union of Socialist Artists has prepared and published this outline of socialist principles of aesthetic science. Long and fruitfully may it serve all fighters for a revolutionary art underlying and illuminating the hard road to the victory of the proletarian-socialist revolution!

Provisional Committee,
LEAGUE OF SOCIALIST ARTISTS;
March 1972.

The LEAGUE OF SOCIALIST ARTISTS pledges themselves:

a) To work for socialism – a society based on the political power of the working people in which production is planned in their interests.

b) To work towards the development of a revolutionary art and to place that art at the service of the working people, in broad affiliation with the Red Front Movement and under the overall leadership of the Marxist–Leninist Organisation of Britain, in such a way that it functions as an inspiration and a weapon to them in the class struggle and in the emerging revolutionary movement to establish and maintain a socialist society.

Printed and published by the League of Socialist Artists.

INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION

The appearance of a second and revised edition of the “Theses on Art” requires no lengthy comment. The fact that a first printing of 1,000 copies should have been exhausted in the relatively short space of 12 months alone provides a sufficient indication that the Theses are beginning to find their proper application as a theoretical guide to action for a small but growing number of worker-artists with a developing revolutionary-socialist consciousness and understanding, and who are anxious to place their talents at the service of the historic cause of the working class.

In this connection, it is perhaps not accidental that the publication of the Theses some eighteen months ago should have marked the beginning of a period in which the League of Socialist Artists has undergone a small but significant growth in the scope and quality of its tasks and activities. Typical of these have been the formation of the League of Socialist Artists Film Unit and the initiation of work to produce a series of propaganda films, and also the development of the poster workshop.

Apart from the exhaustion of available stocks and the correction of a few textual errors, the publication of a 2nd Edition has to a large degree been motivated by the need to re-formulate and extend the section on Beauty, in order to bring this hitherto highly esoteric – but in fact fundamentally important question more fully into line with the latest advances made in the infant science of dialectical-materialist revolutionary aesthetics. In particular, the all important psychological component in the formation of subjective responses to and appreciation of beauty – hitherto completely ignored by Marxist-Leninists – is now given its first clear, even if necessarily brief and sketchy outline. The important task of subjecting this germinal thesis to a complete theoretical elaboration in the light of the dialectical-materialist scientific method is one which must and will be taken up and developed further by students of scientific revolutionary aesthetics at the earliest moment consistent with the maintenance of essential priorities in the discharge of work and tasks.

Finally, the appearance of this 2nd Edition will, do doubt, give occasion for still louder and more frenetic accusations of “dogmatism,” “schematism,” “intellectual arrogance” and other allegedly anti-popular sins. That the Theses should have attracted their fair share of such attacks on the part of Trotskyite, Maoist and other disruptors and demagogues of petty-bourgeois class orientation was, of course, only to be expected, and of these there have been not a few, including one from an American Maoist (the subject of a forthcoming pamphlet) – the only one, incidentally, which summoned sufficient critical acumen and courage as to be expressed in written form – which condemns the Theses on the grounds that they attempt to “decide in words all questions of revolutionary aesthetics,” and that this allegedly “leaves the people out.” As Marxist-Leninists, as revolutionary proletarian-socialist artists we naturally treasure such attacks and savour them keenly – not, of course, because we ascribe the slightest objective validity to the ideas they propound, but because they provide us with a clear and reliable guide, by inverse example, that the League Of Socialist Artist cadres are working along fundamentally correct lines and in accordance with theoretical principles which are scientifically true.

However this may be, the experience of the period since the publication of the 1st Edition fully confirms the view that the “Theses” are proving their worth to those who comprehend the role of scientific Marxist-Leninist theory in the task of solving the vastly intricate and many-sided problems associated with the further growth and widespread dissemination of art-works and their corresponding art-forms capable of expressing, in all their conflict-ridden richness and complexity, the life and struggles of the working class in general and the proletarian-socialist revolutionary movement in particular. If we of the League of Socialist Artists have at least made a beginning in working out these essential theoretical principles of scientific revolutionary aesthetics, principles which can then assist tens, later hundreds and ultimately thousands of worker-artists with a proletarian-socialist consciousness and allegiance to master the media in which they work and to fashion them into works of socialist realism, in all art-forms, sufficiently truthful and insighted in content and powerful and sensitive in form as to arouse the respect and deepen the under-standing of at least, under present conditions, the most advanced class-conscious workers, we shall feel justified in the belief that our work has made a small but valuable contribution to the long and difficult task of mobilising and building the philosophically and politically conscious proletarian revolutionary movement and its scientific socialist-Leninist vanguard party.

Provisional Committee, LEAGUE OF SOCIALIST ARTISTS,
September 1973

THESES ON ART

ART

Art is a form of production in which the producer (the artist) endeavours to create, through its product (the work of art), certain thoughts and feelings in the minds of consumers (those who see, hear, read etc. his work of art).

In the words of J.V. Stalin:

“The artist is the engineer of the human soul.”

Clearly, it cannot be a matter of indifference to Socialists what kind of thoughts and feelings works of art create – whether they tend, objectively, to help forward the working class in its historical task of destroying the capitalist state in a socialist revolution, of establishing its own political power and of proceeding to construct a Socialist society; or whether they tend, objectively, to hold back the working class from these fundamental tasks.

SUBJECT

The subject of a work of art is simply what it is about – sunflowers, the Marriage of Figaro, Paradise Lost, the Spartacist uprising in Berlin, the construction of the Dnieper dam.

CONTENT

The content of a work of art is the character imparted to its subject. by the artist, a character which reflects the artist’s intellectual and emotional – in short, psychological – attitude towards his subject.

The content of a work of art comprises two inter-related components:
1) the reflective content, and
2) the effective content.

The reflective content of a work of art is the reflection in this work of art of the artist’s world outlook – itself the subjective expression of his whole life experience. This world outlook is essentially that of the social class to which the artist belongs or with which he identifies his interests. The reflective content of a work of art may be described in terms of the social class which holds the particular world outlook reflected in this content, or in terms of the social system in which this class is the ruling class. Thus, we may speak of the capitalist or bourgeois reflective content of a work of art (where this reflects the world outlook of the capitalist class or bourgeoisie), and of the working class, proletarian or socialist reflective content of a work of art (where this reflects the world outlook of the working class or proletariat, which is the ruling class in a socialist society).

The effective content of a work of art consists of the particular thoughts and feelings, which the artist endeavours to create in the minds of consumers through the work of art concerned. The effective content of a work of art is described in terms of the social effects which these thoughts and feelings tend, objectively, to produce: as progressive (where these thoughts and feelings tend, objectively to further the development of society) or as reactionary (where these thoughts and feelings tend, objectively, to hold back or turn back the development of society).

In the period when the bourgeoisie was playing an objectively revolutionary role in leading the mass of the people to break the fetters of feudalism, art with a bourgeois reflective content had a progressive effective content. Today, when the role of the bourgeoisie is to hold back the overthrow of the objectively obsolete capitalist social system, art with a bourgeois reflective content has a reactionary effective content. The inter-relation between the reflective and effective components of the content of a work of art is thus a variable one, dependent on the stage of the development of the society in which the work of art is produced.

The more conscious an artist is of the class basis of the reflective content of his art and of the social effects of its effective content, the closer will the two components of the content of his art be integrated, and the more will the reflective content reinforce the effective content – the more powerful will be the thoughts and feelings created by his art.

Before the development of the scientific materialist conception of history, the basis of which was laid by Karl Marx, an artist could at the most be only partly conscious of the class basis of the reflective content of his art and of the social effects of its effective content.

Today it is possible for an artist who has mastered the scientific materialist conception of history, who has embraced wholeheartedly and from within the innermost core of his psychological make-up the cause of the working class and of Socialism, to be fully conscious of the class basis of the effective content, so that the two components of the content of his art reinforces the progressive effective content to make it a powerful ideological weapon in the service of the working class and of Socialism.

FORM

The form of a work of art is the manner in which an artist constructs his work of art in order to express its content. On the form of a work of art depends its capacity to communicate its content to consumers.

The form of a work of art is described in terms of the degree to which it truthfully reflects its subject, that is, in terms of the degree of its realism. The further the form of a work of art departs from realism, the nearer it approaches to abstraction, in which the form of a work of art reflects its subject in no discernible way. An abstract painting is composed of shapes and colours, which reflect reality in no discernible way, an abstract poem is composed of sounds without discernible meaning, and so on.

AESTHETICS

Questions of quality, of “goodness” and “badness,” in art belong to what is called aesthetics.

To many people aesthetics is a subjective matter, a question of personal taste. To such people a work of art is “good” to one person if he likes it, while the same work of art may be “bad’ to another person if he dislikes it.

To scientific Socialists a work of art is good if its effective content is progressive and its form is such that this effective content is readily communicable to consumers, that is, if its form is realist.

In the period when the bourgeoisie was playing an objectively revolutionary role in leading the mass of the people to break the fetters of feudalism, art with a bourgeois reflective content had a progressive effective content and, to the extent that it was also realist in form, it was aesthetically good.

Today, when the role of the bourgeoisie is to hold back the overthrow of the objectively obsolete capitalist social system, art with a bourgeois reflective content has a reactionary effective content and, irrespective of its form, it was aesthetically bad.

Today, aesthetically good art can only be proletarian socialist in reflective content (and so progressive in effective content) and realist in form – can only, in other words, take the form of socialist realism.

BEAUTY

Beauty is that combination of qualities in a work of art, which affects the fundamental psychological and personality attributes of a consumer in positive manner. A work of art, which so affects those attributes, is beautiful to that particular consumer- whilst one which fails to so affect them is either not beautiful to him – i.e. is one to which his psychology and personality are either not able to respond or else-which he finds consciously ugly.

The same work of art may affect the psyche of one consumer in a positive way and the psyche of another consumer in a negative way – that is, it may be beautiful to one consumer and ugly to another. The beauty (or non-beauty, or ugliness) of a work of art is not, therefore, an objective attribute of a work of art; it is a subjective attribute which has meaning only in relation to a particular consumer, or to a particular category of consumers.

Aesthetics is sometimes defined as “the critical appreciation of beauty.” Scientific socialists reject this definition, since the beauty of a work of art is subjective, relative to a particular consumer or to a particular category of consumers, while the aesthetic quality of a work of art is, as has been said, objective, inherent in the work of art itself.

Whether a particular work of art is beautiful (or non-beautiful, or ugly) to a particular consumer depends, therefore, on more than mere sensory perception; it depends on the dialectical interaction and ultimate synthesis in one affective moment of response of all three of the above fundamental psychological attributes of personality:

sensory perception, intellectual judgment and emotional responsiveness.

This response is, in turn, dependent upon a complex of psychological characteristics built up during the consumer’s life experience, which may be called the consumer’s canons of beauty. The closer the content and form of a work of art correspond to the consumer’s canons of beauty, the more beautiful it is to him. As the consumer’s life experience continues, as the external world and his relations with it change, so do his canons of beauty change and develop in and through the psychological processes described above.

Within a particular society at a particular time, there are generally accepted canons of beauty just as there are generally accepted canons of morality, and these are socially determined. These generally accepted canons of beauty are those which best serve the interests of that society at that period – in the case of a class-divided society, those which best serve the interests of the ruling class at that period. As society changes, or as the interests of the ruling class within a particular society change, so do the generally accepted canons of beauty change.

Within a capitalist society in decay, such as that which exists in Britain at the present time, an aesthetically good socialist realist work of art affects, generally speaking, the psychological responsiveness of members of the capitalist class in a negative way; it appears ugly to them. Furthermore, it is in sharp contradiction with the generally accepted canons of beauty imposed on decaying capitalist society by the ruling capitalist class, and so is ugly to all consumers who accept these generally accepted canons of beauty. Here, therefore, there is a contradiction between aesthetic quality and beauty. On the other hand, the same work of art will affect in a positive way the psychological attributes of a consumer who is thoroughly socialist, who has thrown off the generally accepted bourgeois canons of beauty in favour of canons of beauty which serve the interests of the working class; to him it will be beautiful. Here, therefore, there is no contradiction between aesthetic quality and beauty.

In a capitalist society the canons of beauty of the ruling capitalist class are, by and large, accepted by the petty bourgeois intelligentsia – who are, in fact, the main proponents of these canons of beauty within society. But with the increasing decay of capitalist society at the stage of advanced imperialism and the consequent rise to dominance of formalist art, the canons of beauty of the ruling monopoly capitalist class cease to be “generally accepted,” in that they come to be rejected by the working class. The contradiction between aesthetic quality and the canons of beauty of the ruling class is now so great that it cannot be bridged, so far the working class is concerned, even by the use of all the ideological and propaganda resources at the disposal of the ruling class – which naturally, seeks to meet the situation by instilling in the minds of the workers the conception that beauty in art (and even art itself in all but its crudest, merely soporific, narcotic forms) is inappropriate for workers. This leads to the workers becoming largely sealed off from serious art and to the stunting of their sense of beauty, i.e., of the capacity to have their personality attributes in any way affected by serious works of art.

Thus, the awakening of the sense of beauty in the working class is an important part of the work of Socialist artists. It is in itself a potentially revolutionary act, an important aspect of the overall task of generating the revolutionary energies of the working class.

REALISM AND NATURALISM

Realism, the true reflection of reality in a work of art, does not mean mere photographic representation.

Scientific Socialists understand that, beneath the surface of something which appears static, the forces of change and development are at work, so that the thing itself is changing and developing, even though we cannot see this process on the surface.

True realism, therefore, penetrates beneath the surface of things to reveal the process of their change. Only scientific Socialism, the world outlook known as dialectical materialism, provides the key to penetrating beneath the surface of things; only a Socialist artist who has made Marxism-Leninism, dialectical materialism, his world outlook, can, therefore, be a complete realist in the form of his art.

Suppose a writer wishes to reflect in a novel the contemporary reality in Britain. On the surface one sees a working class which is far from revolutionary, a youth which has been corrupted on a wider scale than any previous generation, a country in which Marxist-Leninists can almost be counted on the fingers.

But this is a superficial and false picture. Scientific socialists, by their analysis of British contemporary capitalist society, understand that forces are at work which are in process of transforming the working class into an invincible revolutionary force, led by a strong vanguard party.

True realism in art, therefore, means the portrayal not so much of what lies on the surface of things (this is naturalism, not realism), but of what lies beneath the surface. It also involves the selection from all the infinite entities that make up reality of those which are significant in portraying the changing, developing essence of this reality.

Realism differs also from naturalism in that it permits deviation from naturalistic representation where this assists in the fuller expression of the aspect of reality concerned. In satire, in the cartoon, features are exaggerated not to falsify reality, but to heighten it.

If an artist paints the grass in a meadow red merely as a “gimmick,” this falsifies reality. But if he paints the grass in the exercise yard of the Attica State Prison red, to symbolise the massacre which took place there in 1971, this may well serve to heighten the realism of the painting.

Realism differs from naturalism also in that it concentrates the social essence of individuals into the type. As Maxim Gorky expresses it in “Literature and Life”:

“When a writer describes some shopkeeper, official or worker of his acquaintance, he is merely producing some more or less successful likeness of an individual; but such a likeness will remain a mere photograph, without any socially educative significance, and will contribute almost nothing either in breadth or in depth to our knowledge of life and of our fellow men. But if the writer is able to extract from twenty or fifty or a hundred shopkeepers, officials or workers the characteristic traits, habits, tastes, gestures, beliefs, mannerisms typical of them as a class and if he can bring these traits to life in a single shopkeeper, official or worker, he will have created a type and his work will be a work of art.”

BOURGEOIS CRITICAL REALISM

The unscientific, metaphysical world outlook of the bourgeois artist – a world outlook which underlies all bourgeois art, whether its effective content be progressive or reactionary – draws the content of his work towards one or other of the apparently opposite poles of mystical idealism, or arid mechanical materialism. It effectively prevents him from achieving that all-round, universalised, penetrating, developmental understanding of his subject which constitutes the hallmark of proletarian-socialist realism.

Since the inherent, objective laws of development of society are a closed book to the bourgeois artist, metaphysics must for him take the place of scientific method. Thus, even when the objective situation of the capitalist class to which the artist belongs is a progressive one, impelling him towards a progressive effective content in his work, this content is necessarily limited in its scope, in its insight, in its treatment of character and society’s processes. He may be capable of revealing the social evils, which are inherent in capitalist society even in its progressive stage of development, but he can discern neither the basic laws of motion of capitalist society nor the true role of the working class as the social force destined by history to resolve the contradictions of capitalist society by abolishing it and replacing it by a socialist society.

This type of progressive bourgeois art is termed by revolutionary Socialists bourgeois critical realism, because it can reveal in a critical way, through a superficial depiction of character and events, much of what is wrong with capitalist society, but can neither probe beneath the surface to reveal the basic causes of those evils nor point the way forward to their solution in a socialist society.

As far as form is concerned, therefore, bourgeois critical realism tends towards naturalism rather than realism (as in the work of such artists as Charles Dickens, Emile Zola and Gustav Flaubert). In the most developed work of bourgeois critical realism, however, (such as those of Ludwig van Beethoven, Thomas Mann, Georg Buchner, Vincent van Gogh and Gustav Mahler) a close approximation to true realism in form is realised.

Socialist realism bases itself upon and further develops the finest achievements of bourgeois critical realism, overcoming in the course of this development the limitations of content and form of the latter in order to achieve a truthful, penetrating, developmental and powerfully moving treatment of reality.

DISTORTED REALISM

Art which directly serves the interests of the capitalist class in the period of the decay of its social usefulness is at first glance realist in form, in that its images are recognisable reflections of real life in comparison with the abstractions, which make up the greater part of modern painting with a bourgeois content. This must be so in order that its reactionary effective content the thoughts or feelings which serve the interests of the capitalist class may be communicated to consumers. But because, in the period of the decay and disintegration of capitalist society, a truly realistic representation of the world cannot serve the interests of the capitalist class, its images are necessarily distortions of reality.

In a play with a bourgeois content about a strike, the workers may be physically recognisable as workers in that they wear overalls, live in council flats, etc. But they are distorted, in general, into sheep-like figures, easily led by some militant leader, who because of some psychopathological aggressive complex or because he is in the service of a foreign power, “pulls them out” on a futile strike which harms their interests.

FORMALISM

But for every hack artist who – is prepared to sell his integrity to the capitalist class for money, there are a dozen honest artists. These artists see the corruption, exploitation and immorality, which are all pervading features of capitalism in decay. Unless, therefore, they are revolutionary Socialists who can portray this reality truthfully with a Socialist content, they find the real world too unpleasant to reflect truthfully in their work. They therefore repudiate content more or less completely, take their stand on the slogan “Art for art’s sake” (which rejects the conception of social content in art) and base their art purely on form: on abstract or semi-abstract images. It is this repudiation of content and concentration on form that revolutionary Socialists call “formalism.”

NATIONAL FORM AND COSMOPOLITANISM

All art is necessarily the product of a particular community, and the reality of this community is national in substance; it is the reality of a particular nation, the characteristics of which are determined by the language, geography, economic life, psychological make-up and culture of that nation.

Art which is truly realistic in form, therefore, is also national in form. Furthermore, it is built upon and further develops that part of the cultural heritage of the nation which is progressive in its effective content.

Art which repudiates the national in its form in the direction of cosmopolitanism also deviates, therefore, from realism.

RELATION BETWEEN CONTENT AND FORM

In the relation between content and form in art, it is content which – at least in the broad developmental sense – determines the form in and through which this content is realised.

As, within a particular society, the existing mode of production becomes moribund, and the objective and subjective conditions mature for the birth of a new, higher mode of production (in our epoch, Socialism), new, political, ideological and other social factors impinge upon the life experience of the artist. To the extent that he absorbs the world outlook of the rising class whose interests are bound up with the, coming new mode of production (in our epoch, the world outlook of the working class), his art takes on a new reflective content and a new progressive effective content. This ultimately leads him to discard, or at least to modify positively, the existing, dominant art forms and to develop new ones more suited to act as expressions of this new content.

When Ludwig van Beethoven began to compose, he was content to use the classical sonata form he inherited from Mozart and Haydn, But at a certain stage in the maturing of the bourgeois reflective content and the progressive effective content of his music, he became aware that the complexity, power and objective realism of his sound-world was suffering through the attempt to pour new wine into old bottles. He therefore found it necessary to create a new symphonic form, that of the choral symphony, in which the scope, emotional impact and intelligibility of this content was greatly enhanced in complexity and degree of integration, partly through the inclusion of the choral poem, partly through the much greater fluidity and expressive flexibility of the thematic structure and the melodic line itself.

A similar process is to be, observed in the development of the modern novel, in particular in the transition from limited, naturalistically stunted critical realism of the revolutionary bourgeoisie ( e.g., Emile Zola, Thomas Mann) to the socially penetrating insight achieved in the socialist realist literature of the revolutionary working class (e.g., Maxim Gorki).

In the relation between content and form, it is, therefore, content which plays the primary role, while form arises out of and serves content as its vehicle of expression. It is the function of technique to serve content and form equally.

It must be understood, however, that the content of a work of art does not determine its form in any direct, mechanical way, but dialectically – that is to say, by creating the general conditions in and through which a change of form becomes necessary, or in which the adoption of one form as against another becomes preferable. Were this not so, the task of a Marxist-Leninist Party or of such organisations as Socialist Artists in the sphere of art could be confined to political education; an artist who acquired the political outlook of revolutionary Socialism and the desire to make the content of his art Socialist would be unable to create works of art in any but a realist form. In fact, an artist may be a revolutionary Socialist, a Marxist-Leninist, in every sphere but that of aesthetics, determined that every one of his artistic creations shall be imbued with a Socialist content – yet he may produce art which is non-realist in form.

While the content of a work of art is determined by the social outlook of the artist, its form is determined by his aesthetic outlook and his mastery of technique at the moment of its creation. It is, therefore, the task of the Marxist-Leninist Party and of such organisations as Socialist Artists to educate artists not only in the principles of revolutionary Socialism (so that their art may be imbued with Socialist content) but also in Marxist-Leninist aesthetics and in technique, so that this content may be expressed in appropriate realist form.

Content is not primary and form secondary because the former is more important than the latter. A work of art which is Socialist in content but non-realist in form lacks the capacity to communicate its socialist content to consumers; it is of no more value to the working class – and so is of no higher aesthetic quality – than a work of art which is bourgeois in content. Form and content are of equal importance for the Socialist artist. But the primacy of content over form must be recognised if the artist is to achieve the fullest realisation of form in the service of content, and of technique in the service of both.

REVISIONISM AND ART

Revisionism is a perversion of Marxism-Leninism to serve the interests of the capitalist class.

The modern revisionists, for the most part, reject the Marxist-Leninist concepts of progressive and reactionary effective content in art. They hold that aesthetic questions – i.e. questions of quality in art – must be confined to questions of craftsmanship.

On the basis that art which directly serves the interests of the capitalist class is realist in form (as discussed above), they hold that “revolutionary art” must break with the “reactionary” heritage of realist -art and embrace cosmopolitanism.

To the modern revisionists, the changed role of art in a socialist society means no more than the wider availability of art to the working people.

But, clearly, the interests of the working class and of socialism are not served by the wider availability, to the working people of art which serve’s the interests of the capitalist class – the class enemy of the working-class.

In fact, art which serves the interests of the capitalist class is widely available to the working people, within a capitalist society. A worker has little difficulty in obtaining access to the strip cartoons in the “Daily Mirror”; he can watch “Coronation Street” on TV; he can listen to “pop” music almost throughout his spare time; he can visit a “working man’s club”; and watch strip-tease shows every week-end.

The whole educational and propaganda apparatus of the ruling class in capitalist society is directed towards inculcating the idea: that these forms of “art” are appropriate for working people, while ballet and painting are for upper class homosexuals.

But the “art” which the ruling capitalist class directs to the working class is designed not only to make profits for its sponsors, but also to “divert” the working class, to drug them into acceptance of their role as an exploited class.

In the former socialist societies of Eastern Europe, the modern revisionists took the first steps towards the restoration of capitalism in the sphere of art. In the name of “artistic freedom,” they supported the introduction of art with a bourgeois content, declaring that the Marxist-Leninists had no business to seek to “interfere” in artistic questions. The introduction of art with a decadent bourgeois content served as preliminary ideological preparation for the introduction of bourgeois ideas in the sphere of economics and politics.

THE BATTLE OF IDEAS IN ART

The battle of ideas in art – between ideas which serve the interests of the working-class and those which serve the interests of the capitalist class, between the ideas of Marxist-Leninist aesthetics and those of revisionist aesthetics – reflects the class struggle in society between the working class and the capitalist class.

It is the task of Socialist artists to take their stand in this battle firmly on the side of the working class, to develop art which is Socialist in content and realist in form, – to make of their art a weapon in the struggle of the working class to destroy the capitalist state and construct a Socialist society.

“END OF THESES”

FROM THE MANIFESTO OF THE LEAGUE OF SOCIALIST ARTISTS

The epoch in which, as workers and artists, we live and pursue our creative work is one which bears as its fundamental feature the decay of the capitalist system based on exploitation and oppression and the maturing of the objective conditions making possible its final destruction at the hands of the revolutionary working people.

The supreme task of historical creation confronting all workers, of which we artists to an increasing degree are becoming a social part, is, to develop the science of the proletarian socialist revolution, Marxism-Leninism, in theory and in practice;

To organise to carry through that revolution to the end; thereby to destroy the capitalist system, root and branch, in country after country and in every quarter of the globe. . .

The securing of the maximum satisfaction of the constantly rising material and cultural requirements of the whole of society through the continuous expansion and perfection of socialist production on the basis of higher techniques.

It is within this revolutionary historical context that the confines of class dominated society, with its anti-human inheritance of exploitation, poverty and war, will be overcome and the objective social conditions created for the expansion of the boundaries of man’s knowledge and mastery of the natural universe around him.

Within these overall historic tasks of the proletarian-socialist revolution a role of unprecedented importance devolves upon the arts, and hence upon creative artists. For it is precisely through art that science, the knowledge–understanding and experience of the laws of motion of the universe, including particularly of human society, is distilled into generalised, concentrated form, is transmuted into those at one and the same time concrete and typical, images which are capable of arousing the most profound and stirring emotions -of the human soul, even whilst it is developing conscious intellectual awareness of the objective phenomena which those images symbolise and typify.

Thus artists, whether of the visual or the dramatic arts, are no less than “engineers of the human soul” (J.V. Stalin);

and a correspondingly vital significance attaches to their work in furtherance of that highest single creative task of the modern epoch: the carrying through to victory of the world proletarian – socialist revolution.

Taking the above principles as our fundamental guide, we Socialist Artists hold that art is a definite form of social consciousness. Proletarian socialist art is a reflection in artistic form of the class struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie, which lies at the heart of all social reality. The method of artistic creation of proletarian-socialist art is therefore proletarian-socialist realism. There can be no art without a fundamental philosophy, a basic world view.

And since all philosophy, all world views, are class philosophy, the world view of a class, there can likewise be no art which is not class art. The philosophical foundation of proletarian-socialist realism is dialectical materialism which provides all forms-of artistic sensibility with the objective scientific tool for cognising truthfully the real world.

Proletarian-socialist realism rests upon the firm foundation of human culture as a whole which has developed historically within class society. It recognises that the working class must utilise the finest and highest products of all previous culture in order to create there from the general basis for the development of its own infinitely more sensible, more dramatically intense and varied art and culture. It recognises that the highest achievement of all past art is critical realism. Proletarian socialist realism begins where this critical realism ends, distils from it all that was revealing of social reality, overcomes its weaknesses and one sided-nesses and thereby elevates art to a new and higher stage.

Proletarian-socialist realism is an active, affirmative realism. It upholds the principle of “being as deed.” Such an affirmative view of human practice is indissolubly fused together with a critical attitude towards the art of the past and a revolutionary-romantic consciousness of contemporary social and class reality in the light of the socialist future. In this sense proletarian-socialist realism anticipates creatively the future.

Proletarian-socialist realism possesses as one of the prime features of its aesthetic the creation of generally valid social characters and figures who express in their innermost being the laws of motion of history and society as a whole. Proletarian-socialist realism requires the delineation of typical characters living and moving in atypical environment and under typical conditions. It requires a historically and socially concrete typicalisation of dramaturgical elements in works of art, but this typicalisation must be combined with, the utmost individuality and qualitative distinctness of characters and figures, and must avoid all tendencies towards stereotyped caricatures.

Proletarian-socialist realism maintains that, for a genuinely progressive, revolutionary art serving the proletarian-socialist revolution, content is primary and plays the definitive role within any one work of art, whilst form, which itself is of vital significance to the artistically and aesthetically affective properties of the work, is secondary and reflects and serves that content. Thus we stand for the unity of form and content based on the primacy of content.

Being aware of the unbridgeable abyss in the cultural superstructure of decaying capitalism, we Socialist Artists declare our aims and work to stand completely apart from and in irreconcilable-opposition to the formalism and commodity fetishism of capitalist art- which serves at one and the same time – to mystify the movement and conflict of social classes, to preach and inculcate the helplessness of man before the “unknowable” universe and the “atomic chaos” of the “existentialist” society, as also to provide the effete, luxury loving ruling class with those soporific, sensationalised and alienated titbits which might, for an hour or a day, provide an anodyne to bring forgetfulness of the moment of doom for their class which the approaching proletarian socialist revolution is bringing ever nearer. In opposition to this we declare our aim to be the pursuit, the active construction and direction of an art which, in all its richness, its myriad fronts and facets; reflects and serves the struggle of the working people for socialism and communism; and which develops for this purpose aesthetic forms of expression which are at one and the same time organically free in relation to their content and yet ordered by the single function of serving to reflect that content; complex and many-sided as the realist stuff itself which they express – -yet unified by a single fundamental principle: to express truthfully the real world of class conflict and revolutionary mobilisation which lies beneath the surface of that average spontaneous activity which is all the vulgar empiricist or idealist mystifier can perceive, and who for that reason is at the mercy of every reactionary wind that blows from out of the vortex of disintegrating capitalism.

In place of the pop art, mobile junk, psychedelic and other fringe lunancy of decaying capitalist art we will erect an art which expresses the dignity of working people, into which life is breathed from out of their very struggles; whether for bread, for peace or for socialism; an art which leads to the growth of a working class culture and which, in the widest and most fundamental sense creates a visual and dramatic image of the socialist future, an assertive art of the revolutionary class in society, the producers of all material and cultural values. Fundamental to our aims, therefore, is that of fulfilling a vanguard role in teaching, educating, organising and raising the cultural values of this only revolutionary class, in a developed capitalist society, the proletariat.

Because we are workers alongside the mass of working people as a whole; because we increasingly sell our labour power firstly in order to live but increasingly also in order to create; and because we can expect no philanthropy from capital, for our art reflects the struggle of workers against
capital and is thus persecuted and outlawed – along with all other revolutionary activity, we Socialist Artists must possess our own collective organisation under the direction of the vanguard Marxist-Leninist party, the overall instrument of the future proletarian-socialist revolution, a revolutionary, democratic union of artists with the clear and simple aim:

“Our art must serve revolutionary politics. We place our art unreservedly at the service of the working class.”

Provisional Committee, The League of Socialist Artists;
August 1973.

Source

Bill Bland: The “Doctor’s Case” and the Death of Stalin

CPSU(B) PoLitburo at Funeral

CPSU(B) Politburo at Funeral

Mourners in Red Square

Mourners in Red Square

Beria, Stalin and Svetlana on a Black Sea Holiday

Beria, Stalin and Svetlana on a Black Sea Holiday

An extended annotated version of a report presented to the Stalin Society in London in October 1991, by Bill Bland, for the Communist League (UK)

INTRODUCTION By Alliance Marxist-Leninist

There have been many requests recently to Alliance for a web-edition of this document.

Comrade Bland often neglected his own writings, even forgetting that he may have researched any topic. Although this article was not printed as an official document of the Communist League (CL), it was a critical part of the corpus of work that Bland performed as the leader of the CL. Against many others, Bland defended the role of Lavrenty Beria, as a Marxist-Leninist. This was and remains, an unpopular stand even amongst those who call themselves Marxist-Leninists.

Bland’s especial expertise was to be able to see behind copious cloaks of words, as spun by revisionists and capitalist agents. This talent of his, is shown with mastery in this analysis. Data coming out from the Archives of the USSR, appears at last to be corroborating Comrade’s Bland’s views. We propose to shortly publish materials that show this.

THE “DOCTORS’ CASE” AND THE DEATH OF STALIN

by Bill Bland 1991.

Table of Contents

Part 1: The ‘Doctor’s Case’

The Initial Preparations for the Revisionist Coup (1943-46);
The First Stage of the ‘Doctors’ Case’ (1948-51)
The Dismissal and Arrest of Abakumov (1951)
The Georgian Feint (1951-52)
The Marxist-Leninists’ Counter-blow in Georgia
The Indictment in the ‘Doctors’ Case’ (1953)
The Destruction of the Defence System around Stalin

Part 2: The Death of Stalin (1953)

The Aborted Coup (1953)
The Exculpation of the Doctors (1953)
The Reversal of the Georgian Feint (1953)
The Dismissal of Leonid Melnikov (1953)
The Military Coup in Moscow (1953)
The Military Coup in Georgia (1953-54)
The ‘Mingrelian Affair’ (1953)
The ‘Trial’ of Beria (1953)
The Re-emergence of Melnikov (1953-57)
The Trial of Abakumov (1954)
The ‘Trial’ of Ryumin (1954)
The ‘Rehabilitation’ of Anna Louise Strong (1955)
The ‘Rehabilitation’ of Tito (1955)
The Rapava-Rukhadze Trial (1955)
The Trial of Bagirov (1956)

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Part 1: The “Doctor’s Case”

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

(N. S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech to 20th Congress, CPSU, in: Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): ‘The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A Selection of Documents’; New York; 1956; p. 64).

The Initial Preparations for the Revisionist Coup (1943-46)

The seizure of power by the Soviet revisionists required certain preliminary measures — the first of these being the weakening of the securitv organs of the socialist state and their later transfer into the hands of the revisionist conspirators.

In April 1943 the organ which had been responsible for state security, the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD), which had been headed by the Marxist-Leninist Lavrenti Beria*, was weakened by being split into three parts:

1) the People’s Commisariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD), still headed by Beria, but no longer concerned with state 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 Secret Service: 1917-1970’; London; 1971; p. 160).

2) the People’s Commissariat of State Security (NKGB), headed by the Marxist-Leninist Vsevolod Merkulov*;

3) the Counter-Espionage Department of the People’s Commissariat for Defence (SMERSH), headed by the Marxist-Leninist Viktor Abakumov*.

In 1946, after the conclusion of the Second World War,

1) SMERSH was abolished;

2) the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) was renamed the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and its Marxist-Leninist head Merkulov, who:

” . . . was one of Beria’s closest and most trusted collaborators”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 141).

was replaced by the concealed revisionist Sergey Kruglov*; and

3) the People’s Commissariat of State Security (NKGB) was renamed the Ministry of State Security (MGB); for the next six years, however, it continued to be headed by the Marxist-Leninist Abakumov.

The First Stage of the “Doctors’ Case” (1948-51)

In 1948 the plans of the conspirators were interrupted by ‘the case of the Kremlin doctors’. In this year,

” . . . Lvdia Timashuk a rank-and-file doctor at the Kremlin Hospital . . . . discovered 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.”

(Y. Rapoport: ‘The Doctors’ Plot: Stalin’s Last Crime’: London; 1991; p. 77).

Dr. Timashuk wrote to

” . . . Stalin a letter in which she declared that doctors were applying supposedly improper methods of medical treatment.”

(N. S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech; op. cit.; p. 63).

As to the date,

“. . . Timashuk’s first report was made while Zhdanov was still alive.”

(P. Deriabin: ‘Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars’; n.p. (USA); 1984; p. 311).

and Zhdanov * died in August 1948.

Although Khrushchev later alleged, in his secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, that:

“. . . this ignominious case was set up by Stalin”,

(N. S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech; op. cit.; p. 65).

Ian Grey assures us that, at the outset,

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

(I.Grey: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979; p. 461).

and Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva* confirms:

“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.”

(S. Allilyeva: Twenty Letters to a Friend”; London; 1967; p. 215).

Nevertheless, Stalin passed these allegations to the state security organs, forces, then in the charge of the Marxist-Leninist Minister of State Security Abakumov. As a result,

“. . . Abakumov started an investigation that he directed personally.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 311).

and the investigation of Timashuk’s allegations soon convinced Stalin of their correctness:

“One day Stalin called us to the Kremlin and read us a letter from a woman doctor named Timashuk. She claimed that Zhdanov died because the doctors on the case purportedly administered improper treatment to him, treatment intended to lead to his death.”

(N. S. Khrushchev: ‘Khrushchev Remembers’; London; 1971; p. 283).

The first arrests resulting from this investigation began as early as December 1950, with the arrest of the diagnostician Yakov Etinger, who had headed a clinic at the First Gradskaya Hospital in Moscow. Etinger’s name later (1953) appeared among the accused in the ‘doctors’ case’:

“Yakov Etinger had been arrested in 1950.”

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 24).

“The terrorist group includes . . . Professor Y. G. Etinger, a therapeutist.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 4, No. 51 (31 January 1953); p. 3).

The Dismissal and Arrest of Abakumov (1951)

By 1951, therefore, the revisionist conspirators had good reason to feel extremely uneasy about their future. Rumours circulated:

“. . that several members of Stalin’s entourage were threatened by the coming purge.”

(G. Bortoli: ‘The Death of Stalin’; London; 1973; p. 151).

Clearly, urgent action was essential to safeguard both the conspiracy and the conspirators.

In late 1951, therefore, the revisionist conspirators brought about the dismissal of the Marxist-Leninist Abakumov as Minister of State Security and his replacement by the concealed revisionist Semyon Ignatiev*:

“Beria’s adversaries in the Party (the opponents of Marxism-Leninism — Ed.) . . . achieved a notable victory in late 1951 with the replacement of V. S. Abakumov, an associate of Beria, by S. P. Ignatiev, a Party official, as head of the MVD.”

(S. Wolin & R. Slusser: ‘The Soviet Secret Police’; London; 1957; p. 20).

Boris Levytsky records that:

“Abakumov, Beria’s intimate friend (= a Marxist-Leninist — Ed.) was removed from his post and replaced by S. D. Ignatiev.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 204).

and sees this move as the:

“. . . first step towards a complete re-staffing of the secret police, towards the removal of Beria and his friends (of the Marxist-Leninists — Ed.). . . . For the assumption that Ignatiev was a man of straw there is. . . plenty of evidence. . . . Ignatiev’s appointment was favoured by the circumstance that he had never had anything to do with Beria and had no experience of the secret police.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 204, 295).

Shortly afterwards, Abakumov and several dozen of his assistants were arrested on charges of ‘lack of vigilance in connection with the ‘Leningrad Affair’ of 1949-50 (already analysed):

“In . . . 1951 . . . Abakumov was arrested. . . . He was taken to the Lubyanka and put in solitary confinement. Seven 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: op. cit.; p. 316-17).

The trumped-up character of the charges against Abakumov and his assistants is obvious from the fact that in December 1954 Abakumov was executed by the same revisionist conspirators on charges which included those of having ‘fabricated the “Leningrad Affair”‘:

“Abakumov falsified the so-called ‘Leningrad Case’, in which a number of Party and Soviet officials were arrested without grounds, having been falsely accused of most serious state crimes.”

(‘Pravda’, 24 December 1954, in: R. Conquest: ‘Power and Policy in the USSR’; London; 1961; (hereafter listed as ‘R. Conquest (1961’); p. 449).

The Georgian Feint (1951-52)

But, as we shall see, the removal and arrest of Abakumov did not put a stop to the danger to the conspirators resulting from investigation into the ‘doctors’ case . They therefore sought to save themselves by making a feint attack on certain Marxist-Leninists.

In military terminology, a ‘feint’ is

“. . a movement made with the object of deceiving the enemy as to a general’s real plans.” (‘Shorter Oxford English Dictionary’; Oxford; 1972; p. 737).

The revisionist conspirators selected Transcaucasia for their feint attack not only because it was a long way from the real objective of their attack, Moscow, but also because it was the birthplace of both Stalin and Beria and was regarded as a Marxist-Leninist stronghold. Charles Fairbanks, junior* speaks of Beria’s:

“. . . territorial fiefdom in the Transcaucasus.”

(C. H. Fairbanks, jr.: ‘National Cadres as a Force in the Soviet System: The Evidence of Beria’s Career: 1949-53’, in: J. R. Azrael (Ed.): ‘Soviet Nationality Policies and Practices’; New York; 1978; p. 155).

and Levytsky notes that at

“. . . the 14th Congress of the Georgian Communist Party in January 1949 . . . two separate greeting messages were sent: one to Stalin and one to Beria.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 208).

The attack on the Georgian Marxist-Leninists could only be seen by Marxist-Leninists elsewhere as a groundless provocative attack on them by concealed enemies. The aim of the feint was, when the time was ripe — that is, when Stalin and his personal secretariat had been rendered powerless to intervene –

1) to admit that the Ministry of State Security had been in the hands of concealed enemies and had committed grave miscarriages of justice (e.g., in Georgia) of which they demanded the correction;

2) to exculpate and release the guilty doctor-conspirators together with the innocent Marxist-Leninists under the general cloak of ‘correcting miscarriages of justice’.

The feint began in January 1951 when, as Robert Conquest* points out, Vilian Zodelava was removed as leader of the Georgian Young Communist League. (R. Conquest (1961); p. 140).

On 24 May 1951:

” . . the ‘Voice of America’ announced it would start broadcasting Saturday in the Georgian language.”

(‘New York Times’, 25 May 1951; p. 21).

In November 1951 the wholesale removal of leading Marxist-Leninists in Georgia began, the offenders being charged with ’embezzlement, car thefts and similar crimes’. The news was leaked to Western diplomats in February 1952:

“A major wave of embezzlements, automobile thefts and similar crimes in Soviet Georgia has resulted in a wholesale purge of top Communist Party and government officials in that area, diplomatic sources report. . . .The removals began last November. The two most important officials purged were Mikhail Baramiya and Rostom Shaduri, secretaries of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party.”

(‘New York Times’, 6 February 1952; p. 12).

David Lang* confirms this:

“Prominent Georgian Communists were accused of embezzling state funds, stealing automobiles and plundering state property.”

(D. M. Lang: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962; p. 261).

as does John Ducoli*:

“The purported reasons for the initial purge were embezzlements of state funds, automobile thefts, the plundering of state property, etc.”

(J. Ducoli: ‘The Georgian Purges (1951-53)’, in: ‘Caucasian Review’, Volume 6 (1958); p. 55).

Within a few days, in November 1951, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia was announcing that the accusations against some former Georgian leaders had been widened to include ‘the protection of criminal officials’:

“‘Recently it has become known that the Second Secretary of the CC of the CP (b) of Georgia, M. I. Baramiya, the Minister of Justice, A. N. Rapava, and the Prosecutor of the Republic, B. Ya. Shoniya, have been extending protection to certain officials who have committed crimes and have been shielding them in every possible way’. . . .All those named were dismissed from their posts.”

(R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 139).

Later, after the ousting of Beria from the leadership in July 1953, the dismissed officials were described as ‘supporters of Beria’. As the then First Secretary of the Georgian Central Committee, Akaki Mgeladze, reported to the Georgian Party Congress in September 1952:

“‘In 1951 several hundred of Beria’s supporters in Georgia were purged.”‘

(C. H. Fairbanks, junior: op. cit.; p. 161).

All leading Marxist-Leninists in Georgia were removed and replaced by conscious revisionists.

Then, in April 1952, a Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia dismissed Kandida Charkviani as First Secretary, Rostom Shaduri and Mikhail Baramiya as Second Secretaries, Valerian Bakradze as Deputy Premier, Avksenty Rapava as Minister of Justice, and a number of other prominent Georgian leaders.

The Plenum elected a new First Secretary — the concealed revisionist Akak Mgeladze:

“Kandida Charkviani . . . has been relieved, and a new leader, Akaki Mgeladze, former secretary of the important Abkhaz regional party committee, has been installed in his place.”

(‘Pravda’, 6 June 1952, in: ‘New York Times’, 8 June 1952; p. 27).

Mgeladze carried forward on a large scale the process of removing Marxist-Leninists from responsible positions in the Georgian Party:

“Mgeladze set to work to purge the Party and the governmental apparatus from top to bottom. In six months he replaced half the members of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party who had been returned in the election of 1949, and brought about a complete upheaval in the administrative hierarchy of the Republic. . . . Several high officials removed by Mgeladze, notably Valerian Bakradze, Deputy Chairman of the Georgian Council of Ministers (Deputy Premier — Ed.) were personal nominees of Beria.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 261).

“After a mere six months of leadership, Mgeladze purged approximately 55% of the 111 members and candidate members of the Central Committee which had been elected in 1949.”

(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 55).

Beria came from Moscow to attend April 1952 Plenum:

“Beria was present at the plenum in April that formally confirmed the succession. Charkviani’s followers were replaced by men from Abkhazeti, where Mgeladze had been Party chief.”

(R. G. Suny: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’; London; 1989; p. 288).

“In April 1952, Beria, now Vice-President of the Soviet Council of Ministers (USSR Deputy Premier — Ed.) came from Moscow to attend a meeting of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 261).

The presence of Beria enabled the concealed revisionists to ‘let it become known’, that is, to spread the completely false story, that the changes in leading personnel which they had brought about in Georgia had been brought about ‘on Stalin’s instructions’:

“At that time (spring 1952 — Ed.) it became known that Mr. Beria himself had gone to Georgia to clean up a situation compounded of widespread graft and other types of corruption. Later it became known that Premier Stalin himself had had to intervene to order the purge in the Georgian Communist Party.”

(‘New York Times’, 3 January 1953; p. 3).

In fact, the Georgian leaders who were removed were Marxist-Leninists who were supported by Beria and Stalin, and had been elected on their recommendation:

“Several high officials removed by Mgeladze, notably Valerian Bakradze, Deputy Chairman of the Georgian Council of Ministers (Deputy Premier — Ed.) were personal nominees of Beria.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 261).

“Mr. Beria had to preside at the removal of the men he had installed at the head of the Georgian Party and to permit these charges of corruption to be announced as true.”

(‘New York Times’, 17 April 1953; p. 10).

However, the story that the leadership changes had been brought about at the wishes of Beria and Stalin was useful in quashing opposition to the changes. Mgeladze told the Georgian Party Congress in September 1952:

“These plenary sessions (of November 1951 and April 1952 — Ed.) adopted resolutions based on the decision of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party and upon Comrade Stalin’s personal instructions.”

(A. Mgeladze: Report to Congress of Georgian Communist Party, September 1952, in: R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 143).

The reasons given as to why Beria and Stalin should have wanted these changes were naturally somewhat nebulous. Mgeladze told the Georgian Young Communist League in May 1952:

“‘Comrade Stalin found deficiencies in the leadership of the Communist Party and Young Communist League of Georgia, which threatened to have serious consequences, and showed ways to correct mistakes.”‘

(A. Mgeladze: Report to Georgian Young Communist League, May 1952, in: R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 141-42).

This vague allegation was later made more concrete. Later in 1952, someone discovered some critical remarks of Stalin about the danger of nationalism in Georgia.

The dismissed Marxist-Leninists were now accused of criminal nationalism and were said to have been arrested, linked with those critical remarks made by Stalin about the dangers of nationalism:

“In the Georgian purges of 1951-52, his (Beria’s — Ed.) appointees were charged with lenience towards Georgian nationalism.”

(C. H. Fairbanks, Junior: op. cit., p. 154).

Mgeladze told the Georgian Party Congress on September 1952:

“‘The former leadership forgot about the fact that international reactionaries are trying to find in our Republic nationalist elements with hostile attitude in order with their help to carry on diversionist espionage work.”‘

(‘New York Times’, 23 September 1952; p. 3).

A number of the dismissed Marxist-Leninist leaders were charged with criminal manifestations of Georgian nationalism

“Mgeladze and his Minister of State Security, Rukhadze, charged some proteges of Beria with nationalism. They were M. I. Baramiya . . . .Rapava Shoniya. They were arrested and imprisoned.”

(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 56).

“All those named (Baramiya, Rapava and Shoniya — Ed.) were arrested later.”

(R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 139).

“Charkviani, secretary of the Georgian Central Committee from 1939 to 1952, Rapava, then Minister of Internal Affairs for the Georgian Republic, and others were removed from their posts and arrested, after being accused of nationalism at the Georgian Party conference of April 1952. The blow was struck by Rukhadze, then Minister of State Security in Georgia.”

(Boris Nicolaevsky: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite’; New York; 1965; p. 182).

The Marxist-Leninists’ Counter-blow in Georgia

Meanwhile, the Marxist-Leninists, realising that the security of the socialist state had suffered a severe setback in Georgia, had the affair investigated through Stalin’s ‘special secretariat’, which as we have seen, functioned as a special security force under the control of the Marxist-Leninists. The special secretrariat uncovered sufficient evidence to establish that the Georgian Minister of State Security, Nikolay Rukhadze, had behaved improperly in the case of the Georgian Marxist-Leninists. As a result, in July 1952 the revisionists were compelled to dismiss Rukhadze, although they were able to resist his arrest and any reversal of his actions in ‘the Georgian feint’ until the following April:

“In July 1952, Rukhadze who, as Minister of State Security, was responsible for the Baramiya purge, was removed. . . . Rukhadze’s removal may have been a partial victory for Beria.”

(R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 142).

The Indictment in the “Doctors’ Case” (1953)

Despite the removal and arrest of Abakumov, the intervention of Stalin’s personal secretariat ensured that investigation into the ‘doctors’ case’ continued. Isaac Deutscher’ confirms that:

“. . . Ignatiev, the Minister of State Security, was a reluctant executant of orders.”

(I.Deutscher: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; Harmondsworth; 1968.; p. 605).

Ignatiev, therefore, remained aloof from the investigation into the ‘doctors’ case’, leaving the conduct of this to his Deputy, the Marxist-Leninist Ryumin:

“Ryumin personally supervised the investigation (into the ‘Doctors’ Case’ ‘Ed.).”‘

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 10-0).

Ryumin had formerly headed the State Security Section of Stalin’s personal secretariat:

“Ryumin, before being appointed to the post of Deputy Miinister of State Security . . . headed the state security section in Stalin’s personal secretariat.”

(B.Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 155).

As a result of the findings in this investigation,

“. . . in the summer of 1952 many . . . doctors who had, worked in the Kremlin Hospital for many years and treated many statesmen were summarily fired. Among them; were Miron Vovsi and Vladirmir Vinogradov. The former head of the Kremlin Hospital, Aleksey Busalov, Mikhail Yegorov . . . and Sophia Karpai were arrested.”

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 72).

On 13 January 1953 ‘Pravda’ carried the report of the arrest of

” . . a terrorist group of doctors who had made it their aim to cut short the lives of active public figures of the Soviet Union through sabotage medical treatment. . . .
The participants in this terrorist group, taking advantage of their position as doctors and abusing the trust of patients, by deliberate evil intent . . . made incorrect diagnoses . . . and then doomed them by wrong treatment.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953; p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 4, No. 31 (31 January 1953); p. 3).

Nine doctors were named as ‘among the participants in this terrorist group, namely:

“Professor M. S. Vovsi, therapeutist;
Professor V.I. Vinogradov, therapeutist;
Professor M.B. Kogan, therapeutist;
Professor B.B. Kogan, therapeutist;
Professor P. I. Yegorov, therapeutist;
Professor A.I.Feldman, otolaryngologist;
Professor Ya.G.Etinger, therapeutist;
Professor Grinshtein, neuropathologist;
G.I. Maiorov, therapeutist.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, in: ibid.; p. 3).

Of the accused persons, Vladimir Vinogradov* was

“. . . Stalin’s personal physician”,

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 216).

Mikhail and Boris Kogan were brothers, while Miron Vovsi was a relative of the Jewish actor ‘Solomon Mikhoels’, whose real surname was Vovsi.

The doctors were charged with having murdered in this way Andrey Zhadnov and Alelsandr Scherbakov*, and with attempting to murder Marshals Aleksandr Vasilevsky*, Leonid Covorov*, and Ivan Konev, together with General Sergey Shtemenko* and Admiral Cordey Iavchenko*.

It was alleged that

“. . most of the participants in the terrorist group (M. S. Vovsi, B. B. Kogan, A. I. Feldman, A. M. Grinshtein, Ya. H. Yetinger and others) were connected with -the international Jewish bourgeois nationalist organisation ‘JOINT’, established by American intelligence for the purpose of providing material aid to Jews in other countries. In acxtual fact this organisation, under direction of American intelligebce, conducts extensive espionage, terrorist and other subversive work in many countries, including the Soviet Union. . . . The arrested Vovsi told investigators that he had received orders ‘to wipe out the leading cadres of the USSR’ — received them from the USA through the ‘JOINT’ organisation, via a Moscow doctor, Shimeliovich, and the well known Jewish bourgeois nationalist Mikhoels.

Other participants in the terrorist group (V. N. Vinogradov, M. B, Kogan, P. I. Yegorov) proved to be old agents of British intelligece.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 4, No. 51 (3 January 1953); p. 3).

The full name of ‘JOINT’ was the ‘American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’, founded in the United States in November 1914 by the fusion of three committees, ostensibly as an international charity for the assistance of Jews throughout the world.

The announcement concluded:

“The investigation will soon be concluded.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, in: ibid.; p. 3).

An editorial in ”Pravda’ on the same day reminded people that in the 1930s a group of doctors involved in a concealed revisionist conspiracy had admitted at their public trial to murdering a number of leading Soviet Marxist-Leninists by administering deliberately incorrect medical treatment to them:

“The agencies of state security did not discover the doctors’ wrecking, terrorist organisation in time. Yet these agencies should have been particularly vigilant, since history already records instances of foul murderers and traitors to the Motherland conducting their machinations in the guise of doctors, such as the ‘doctors’ Levin and Pletnev, who killed t he great Russian writer A. M. Gorky and the outstanding Soviet statesmen V. V. Kuibyshev and V. R. Menzhinsky by deliberate wrong treatment on orders from enemies of the Soviet Union.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 4).

The original statement had stated that:

“the criminal doctors confessed.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, in: ibid.; p. 3).

and, in his secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, Khrushchev declared:

“Shortly after the doctors were arrested we members of the Political Bureau received protocols with the doctors’ confessions of guilt.”

(N. S. Khrushchev:1956; “Secret Speech to 20th Congress”; of the CPSU; p. 64).

And after their release by the revisionist conspirators following Stalin’s death in March 1953, the doctors admitted that their confessions had been genuine:

“When we were all released, Vovsi and Vinogradov themselves told me that they had admitted all the crimes imparted to them. . . .

The most tragic aspect of these confessions was that the person admitted not only crimes he himself had supposedly committed, but also the existence of a criminal organisation and collective criminal actions. . . . The accused was led to cooperate with the investigation in exposing the crimes of others. This happened to Vovsi and Vinogradov, and perhaps to other people as well.

Sophia Karpai, formerly a doctor at the Kremlin Hospital, told me in the summer of 1953 about her confrontation with Vovsi, Vinogradov and Vasilenko in prison. To her face they asserted that she had executed their criminal orders to administer harmful treatments to her patients. . . .So the people who had broken down became witnesses for the prosecution.”

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 137).

Furthermore, the released doctors testified that their confessions had not been brought about as a result of the application of:

“. . torture, of which rumours were rife in the memorable purge years of 1937-1939 . . . Vinogradov told me that he had resolved from the beginning not to wait till they started torturing him, but to admit all the charges, which included one of espionage for France and Great Britain.”

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 138).

The determination of the Soviet Marxist-Leninists to proceed with the ‘doctors’ case’ made it an urgent matter of life and death for the revisionist conspirators to halt the proceedings in the case by destroying Stalin’s personal secretariat as a necessary preliminary to destroying Stalin himself.

The Destruction of the Defence System around Stalin

We have noted the role of Stalin’s personal secretariat — also known as the ‘Special Sector’ of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party — in bringing about the treason trials of the 1930s. But this body also played an important role in defending from terrorist attack the Marxist-Leninist nucleus, headed by Stalin, at the heart of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The special sector had been headed since 1928 by the Marxist-Leninist Aleksandr Poskrebyshev*:

“As head of the ‘Special Sector’ of the Central Committee for many years, he (Poskrebyshev — Ed.) was Stalin’s closest confidant up till 1952.”

(R. Conquest: ‘The Great Terror’; Harmondsworth; 1971; (hereafter listed as ‘R. Conquest (1971)’); p. 37).

while Lieutenant-General Nikolay Vlasik*

“. . . for more than twenty-five years had been Stalin’s chief of personal security; he knew much and was trusted by the boss.”

(D. Volkogonov: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991; p. 333).

Dmitri Volkogonov* asserts that Pokrebyshev

“. . . . . to the end of his days remained his master’s devoted servant. . . He was a man with the memory of a computer. You could get an exact reply to any question. He was a walking encyclopaedia. . . .Stalin . . . trusted . . . Vlasik and Poskrebyshev.”

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 203-04, 318).

and Levtysky confirms that:

“. . . those who knew the conditions at the summit of the Party after 1945 describe Poskrebyshev as an organising genius with a phenomenal memory.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 177).

Conquest asserts that Poskrebyshev was:

” . . . the man most closely and directly associated with Stalin (later described in Khrushchev’s secret speech as Stalin’s ‘shieldbearer’).”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 156).

Volkogonov says of Vlasik:

“For more than twenty-five years, Vlasik had been Stalin’s chief of personal security; he knew much was trusted by the boss.”

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 318, 333).

and Robert McNeal* says that

“. . . Vlasik and Poskrebyshev effectively guarded the approaches to Stalin’s office, one as controller of security, the other of appointments.”

(R. H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 301).

It was clear, therefore, that a successful terrorist attack on Stalin required the prior elimination of the faithful Poskrebyshev and Vlasik.

Walter Laqueur* states:

“During the last year of Stalin’s life, Poskrebyshev fell from grace.”

(W. Laqueur: ‘Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations’; London; 1990; p. 176).

and Nikita Khrushchev tells how this ‘fall from grace’ was brought about. He describes how, during the winter of 1952-53, he came under suspicion of leaking secret documents, and how he succeeded in deflecting the blame from himself in such a way that it fell upon Poskrebyshev:

“Stalin . . . complained that secret documents were leaking out through our secretariats. . . . Stalin was coming straight for me: ‘It’s you. Khrushchev! The leak is through your secretrariat!’ . . .
I . . . succeeded in deflecting the blow from myself, but Stalin didn’t let the matter rest. . . . After I’d convinced Stalin that the leak wasn’t through my secretariat, he came to the conclusion that the leak must have been through Poskrebyshev. . . . Poskrebyshev had worked for Stalin for many years. . . .
Stalin removed Poskrebyshev from his post and promoted someone else.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 272, 273, 274, 275).

Niels Rosenfeldt confirms that

” . . . Poskrebyshev was removed from his old post at the latest during the winter of 1952-53. . .Stalin ‘s bodyguard, Vlasik, disappeared around that time (the winter of 1952-53 — Ed.).”

(F. E. Rosenfeldt: ‘Knowledge and Power: The Role of Stalin’s Chancellery in the Soviet System of Government’; Copenhagen; 1978; p. 196).

as does Adam Ulam*:

“Poskrebyshev and Vlasik . . . found themselves in disgrace.”

(B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989; p. 617).

Volkogonov states that

“. . Poskrebyshev and Vlasik were compromised . . . . shortly before Stalin’s death and were therefore distanced from him.”

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 513).

and McNeal confirms that

“. . . both these men (Poskrebyshev and Vlasik — Ed.) were thrown out in 1952.”

(R. H. McNeal: ov. cit.: v. 301).

Deriabin agrees that the charges of disloyalty levelled at Poskrebyshev and Vlasik were completely false:

“The claim about that pair of long time faithful servants was a bald and most complete lie. But . . . Stalin fired them both.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 320).

The revisionist conspirators placed Poskrebyshev under house arrest:

“Poskrebyshev was placed under house arrest in his dacha outside Moscow, with . . . guards posted about it.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).

“Poskrebyshev . . . disappeared. He was simply not mentioned again, apart from a brief sneer in Khrushchev’s secret speech.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 208).

while Vlasik was expelled from the Party and sent to Sverdlovsk ts deputy commandant of a labour camp:

“Vlasik . . . was not only fired, he was also expelled from the Party and sent to Sverdlovsk. . . . . as deputy commandant of a . . . labour camp.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).

Vlasik came to Moscow and:

” . . . went to the Kremlin in an attempt to see Stalin. . . He was picked up near the Kremlin gates and put into the Lubyanka. Two weeks later he died there of an ‘illness.”‘

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).

Volkogonov confirms that Vlasik

” . . . was arrested on 16 December 1952″,

(D. Volkogonov”: op. cit.; p. 570).

and records that, during Vlasik’s interrogation, pressure was exerted on him:

“. . . to make him incriminate Poskrebyshev. He refused.”

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 570).

Ulam confirms that

“. . . Vlasik, chief of his (Stalin’s — Ed.) personal security since the Civil War, had been imprisoned. His confidential secretary, Poskrebyshev, was chased away.”

(B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 737).

and Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva*, tells the same story:

“Shortly before my father died even some of his intimates were disgraced: the perenniel Vlasik was sent to prison in the winter of 1952 and my father’s personal secretary Poskrebyshev, who had been with him for twenty years, was removed.”

(S. Alliluyeva: ‘Twenty Letters to a Friend’; London; 1967; p. 216).

However, the attack on the defence system around Stalin was not confined to the elimination of Poskrebyshev and Vlasik. During 1952 the concealed revisionists set up:

“. . . . a commission to investigate. . . the entire state security apparatus.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 317).

This commission:

” . . . proceeded . . . to cut Stalin’s bodyguards to the bone. . . .
About seven thousand men were dropped from the original Okhrana force of some seventeen thousand. . , .When the slashing was finished, Stalin’s personal bodyguards, Okhrana No. 1, had been cut to half strength.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 317, 318, 319).

This left Stalin

” . . . guarded by . . . only a small group of officers. . . . a group that had little security experience, especially as bodyguards, and one that was headed by a mere major.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 319).

Rosenfeldt adds that about this time the special guard service, whose task was to ensure Stalin’s personal safety, after ‘a thorough purging and a big reduction in personnel’, together with the Kremlin Command and the Kremlin Medical Administration, were all made subordinate to the revisionist controlled Ministry of State Security:

“The special guard service, whose job it was to ensure Stalin’s personal safety, was made subordinate to the Ministry of State Security (MGB) in 1952 after a thorough purging and a big reduction in personnel. At the same time and in the same way the Kremlin Command and the Kremlin Medical Administration were put under MGB control.”

(N. E. Rosenfeldt: op. cit .; p. 196).

Then, on 17 February 1953, two weeks before Stalin himself died, the sudden death was reported of the Major-General Petr Kosynkin, Deputy Commandant of the Kremlin Guards, in charge of the operational arrangements for guarding Stalin:

“On 15 February 1953, shortly before Stalin’s death, the commander of the Kremlin guard, Major-General Pyotr Kosynkin, who was responsible for Stalin’s personal safety, died.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 212).

“The Deputy Commandant of the Kremlin, Major-General Kosynkin, in charge of the operational arrangements for guarding Stalin, died of a heart attack two weeks before Stalin. Or so the announcement said.”

(P. Deriabin & F. Gibney: ‘The Secret World’; New York; 1959; p. 169).

“The Vice-Chief of the Kremlin Command, Major-General Petr Kosynkin, passed away prematurely’ on 15th February 1953.”

(N. E. Rosenfeldt: op. cit.; p. 196).

“On February 17 1953 . . . Major General Petr Kosynkin, the deputy Commander of the Kremlin Guard, suddenly died of a heart attack. That sudden seizure was rather unusual, to say the least. A fanatical admirer of Stalin, Kosynkin had been in the prime of life and health. . . . The extremely careful physical examinations regularly undergone by all such appointees as Kosynkin automatically presuppose that the guard leader was in top condition and certainly not suffering from any heart trouble. . .
On February 17, 1953 there came a report, generally unnoticed at the time, that the Deputy Kremlin Commandant, General Kosynkin, the only remaining guard that Stalin could trust, had suddenly died of a ‘heart attack.”‘

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 239, 325).

Finally, on 21 February 1953

“. . . . a most significant change was made in the Army High Command. General Sergey Shtemenko was replaced by Marshal Vasily Sokolovsky as Chief of Staff of the Soviet armed forces. . . . And concurrently with Shtemenko’s replacement, the Okhrana bodyguards were removed from the general staff.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit,.; p. 325).

“The Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff, Sergey Shtemenko, was removed from his post about the same time (mid-February 1953 — Ed).”

(N. E. Rosenfeldt: op. cit.; p. 196).

Deriabin sums up this ‘process of stripping Stalin of all his personal security’ as ‘a studied and very ably handled business’:

“That completed the process of stripping Stalin of all personal security, except for the comparative window-dressing of the minor Okhrana officers in his office and household. This had been a studied and very ably handled business: the framing of Abakumov, the dismissal of Vlasik, the discrediting of Poskrebyshev, the emasculation of the Okhrana and its enforced subservience to the (revisionist-controlled — Ed.) MGB, Kosynkin’s ‘heart attack’, the replacement of Shtemenko and the removal of the general staff from the last vestiges of Okhrana control. And certainly not to be forgotten at this juncture was the MGB control of the Kremlin medical office.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 325-26).

and one which placed the conspirators finally in the drivers’s seat:

“With state security and the armed forces under their command, the connivers were finally in the driver’s seat.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 326).

Part 2: The Death of Stalin (1953)

On 3 March 1953 a joint statement of the Central Committee of the CPSU and of the USSR Council of Ministers announced

“…a great misfortune which has befallen our Party and our people.”

(Communique, 3 March 1953, in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 4 March 1953; p. 1, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 5, No. 6 (21 March 1953); p. 4).

It reported that:

“. . . during the night of March 1-2 Comrade Stalin, while in his Moscow apartment, had a haemorrhage of the brain, which affected vital parts of his brain. Comrade Stalin lost consciousness.

Paralysis of the right arm and leg developed. Loss of speech occurred. Serious disturbances developed in the functioning of the heart and breathing.

The best medical personnel have been called in to treat Comrade Stalin. . . .

‘Treatment of Comrade Stalin is under the constant supervision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet government.”

(Government Statement, 3 March 1953, in: ‘Pravda ‘ and ‘Izvestia’, 4 March 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 4).

In the early hours of the following morning, 4 March, a medical bulletin was issued which stated:

“At 2 a.m. 4 March, J. V. Stalin’s conditions remains serious. Considerable disturbances of breathing is observed; frequency of breathing is 36 per minute and the rhythm of breathing is irregular, with periodic prolonged pauses.

It is observed that pulse beats are up to 120 a minute and there is complete arrhythmia. Maximum blood pressure is 220, minimum 120.

Temperature is 38.2 (Centigrade — Ed.). In connection with the disturbed breathing and blood circulation, inadequacy of organs is observed. The degree of disturbance of the function of the brain has increased somewhat.

At the present time a series of therapeutic measures are being applied to restore the vitally important functions of the organism.”

(Medical Bulletin, 4 March 1953, in: ibid.; p. 4).

A second bulletin was issued on the morning of 5 March:

“During the past twenty-four hours the state of health of Josef Vissarionovich Stalin remained grave. Arteriosclerosis, which developed during the night of March 1-2 on the basis of hypotonia and cerebral haemorrhage in his left brain hemisphere, has resulted, apart from the right-side paralysis of limbs and loss of consciousness, in impaired stem section of the brain, accompanied by disturbances of the vital functions of breathing and blood circulation.
During the night of March 3-4, disturbed breathing and blood circulation continued. The greatest changes were observed An the breathing functions.
Instances of periods of so-called Cheyne-Stokes breathing became more frequent. In connection with this, the condition of the blood circulation deteriorated and the degree of lack of oxygen increased.

Systematic introduction of oxygen and of medicines which regulate breathing and the action of the heart vessels gradually somewhat improved the condition and on the morning of March 4 the degree of lack of breathing was somewhat reduced.

Further, during the day of March 4, grave breathing disturbances recommenced. The rate of breathing was 36 per minute. Blood pressure continued to remain high (210 maximum, 110 minimum), with pulse 108-116 per minute, irregular, fluttering and arrhythmic.

The heart is not unduly enlarged. During the past twenty-four hours, fundamental changes in the condition of the lungs and organs of the peritoneal cavity were established. Albumen and red blood corpuscles were found in the normal ratio.

When blood was tested, increase in the number of white corpuscles to the extent of up to 17,000 was observed. Temperature during the morning and afternoon rose to 38.6.

Medical measures taken during March 4 consisted of introducing oxygen, camphor compounds, caffeine and glucose. For the second time, leeches were used to draw blood.

In connection with the raised temperature and high leucocytosis, penicillin therapy, which has been carried out for prophylactic purposes since the beginning of the illness, was intensified.

Towards the end of March 4 the state of health of Josef V. Stalin continues grave.

The patient is in a state of deep unconsciousnness.
Nervous regulation of breathing, as well as cardiac action, continues to be greatly impaired.”

(Medical Bulletin, 2 a.m., 5 March 1953. in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 5 March 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 4).

A third medical bulletin was issued in the morning of 5 March 1953 and published in the press on 6 March. It reported the worsening of Stalin’s condition:

“During the night and the first half of March 5, J. V. Stalin’s condition became worse. Acute disturbances in the cardio-vascular system have been added to the impairment of vital functions of the brain. For three hours this morning there was serious respiratory deficiency, which yielded with difficulty to the proper therapeutics.

At eight this morning there developed signs of an acute cardiovascular deficiency, a collapse. The blood pressure dropped, the pulse quickened. There was an increase in pallor. Emergency treatment eliminated these developments.

An electrocardiogram taken at 11 a.m. revealed acute disturbances in the blood circulation in the coronary arteries of the heart with lesions in the back wall of the heart. (The electrocardiogram taken March 2 had not established such changes). At 11.30 a.m. there was a second serious collapse, which was eliminated with difficulty by the proper medical treatment. Later in the day, the cardiovascular disturbances subsided to some extent. but the patient’s general condition remained extremely grave.

At 4 p.m. the blood pressure ranged from a maximum of 160 to a minimum of 100. The pulse was 120 per minute and arrhythmic. The rate of respiration: 36 per minute. Temperature: 37.6. The leucocyte count: 21,000. Treatment at present is aimed primarily at combatting the disturbances in respiration and blood circulation, specifically coronary circulation.”

(Medical Bulletin, 4 p.m., 5 March 1953. in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 6 March; p. 1; in: ibid.; p. 5).

Finally, on 6 March came the medical report carrying the announcement of Stalin’s death:

“On the afternoon of March 5 the condition of the patent deteriorated especially rapidly; respiration became shallow and much faster, the pulse reached 140-150 beats per minute and pulse pressure dropped.

At 2150 hours , with cardiac failure and growing insufficiency of breathing, J. V. Stalin died.”

(Medical Bulletin, 6 March 1953, in ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 6 March 1953. p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 5).

The medical report was published together with a joint tribute from the Central Committee, the government and the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet:

“The heart of Lenin’s comrade-in-arms and the inspired continuer of Lenin’s cause, the wise leader and teacher of the Communist Party and the Soviet people — Josef Vissarionovich STALIN — has stopped beating.

STALIN’s name is boundlessly dear to our Party, to the Soviet people, to the working people of the world. . . . Continuing Lenin’s immortal cause, Comrade STALIN led the Soviet people to the world-historic triumph of socialism in our land. Comrade STALIN led our country to victory over fascism in the second world war, which wrought a radical change in the entire international situation. Comrade STALIN armed the Party and the entire people with a great and clear programme of building communism in the USSR.

The death of Comrade STALIN, who devoted all his life to the great cause of communism, constitutes a great loss to the Party and to the working people of the Soviet land and of the whole world.”

(Joint Statement of CC of CPSU, USSR Council of Ministers and the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 6 March 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 5).

On 7 March 1953 the report of the autopsy on Stalin’s body was published. It was stated that it

” . . . entirely confirmed the diagnosis established by the professors of medicine who treated J. V. Stalin.”

(Pathological and Anatomical Examination of the Body of Josef Stalin, in: ‘Pravda’, 7 March 1953. in: G. Bortoli: ‘The Death of Stalin’; London; 1975; p. 209).

and

“. . . established the irreversible character of J. V. Stalin’s illness since the appearance of the cerebral haemorrhage.”

(Pathological and Anatomical Examination of the Body of Josef Stalin, in: ibid.; p. 209).

The full report stated:

“As the result of a pathological and anatomical examination, an important centre of haemorrhage was discovered in the region of the subcortical centres of the left hemisphere of the brain. This haemorrhage destroyed important areas of the brain and provoked irreversible disturbances of the respiration and circulation. Besides the cerebral haemorrhage, observation was made of a considerable hypertonic disturbance of the left ventricle of the heart, important haemorrhages of the cardiac muscle, and in the mucous of the stomach and intestine, and arteriosclerotic modifications of particularly important vessels in the brain’s arteries. This process was the result of high blood pressure. The results of the pathological and anatomical examination have entirely confirmed the diagnosis establised by the professors of medicine who treated J. V. Stalin.

The facts of the pathologico-anatomical examination have established the irreversible character of J. V. Stalin’s illness since the appearance of the cerebral haemorrhage. That is why the energetic measures of the treatment could not produce positive results, nor prevent the fatal outcome.”

(Ibid.; p. 209).

There are a number of circumstances connected with the death of Stalin which make it, in forensic terms, “a suspicious death”:

Firstly, Stalin appeared to be in excellent health immediately prior to the beginning of March:

“And what of Stalin himself? In the pink of,condition. In the best of spirits. That was the word of three foreigners who saw him in February – Bravo, the Argentine Amassador; Menon, the Indian, and Dr. Kitchlu, an Indian active in the peace movement.”

(H. Salisbury: ‘Stalin’s Russia and After’; London; 1952; p. 157).

Secondly, on the night of 1-2 March there was a long delay in obtaining medical help for Stalin:

“Khrushchev does not mention specific times, but his narrative makes it incredible that the doctors arrived much before 5 a.m. on 2 March. This is many hours, perhaps twelve, after the seizure. . . .
It is not true that he was under medical care soon after the seizure.”

(R. H. McNeal: op. cit ; p. 304).

“There is a mystery about what had happened to Stalin, His guards had become alarmed when he had not asked for his evening snack at 11 p.m. . . . The security men picked him up and put him on a sofa, but doctors were not summoned until the morning.
Stalin lay helpess and untreated for the better part of a day, making recuperative treatment much harder. . . .
Why did the Party leaders prolong the delay? Some historians see evidence of premeditated murder. Abdurakhman Avtorhanov sees the cause in Stalin’s visible preparation of a purge to rival those of the thirties.”

(J. Lewis & P. Whitehead: ‘Stalin: A Time for Judgement’; London; 1990; p. 179).

“Only on the next morning . . . did the first physicians arrive.”

(W. Laqueuer: op. cit.; p. 151).

“Physicians were finally brought in to the comatose leader after a twelve- or fourteen hour interval.”

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 513).

Thirdly, there was a deliberate lie in the announcement of his death, which was stated to have taken place “in his Moscow apartment,” whereas it actually occurred in his dacha at Kuntsevo, Adam Ulam asserts that a:

” . . . conspiratorial air coloured the circumstances of Stalin’s death. The belated communique announcing his stroke was emphatic that it had occurred in his quarters in the Kremlin. Yet it was to his country villa . . . that his daughter Svetlana was summoned on March 2 to be by his deathbed. . . . He was stricken away from Moscow. . . .

The official communique’ lied about the place where Stalin had suffered the fatal stroke and died. . . .
There was an obvious reason behind the falsehood; his successors feared that a true statement about where he was at the time of the seizure would lead to rumours . . . that the stroke had occurred while he was being kidnapped or incarcerated by the oligarchs. Crowds might surge on the Kremlin, demanding an accounting of what had been done to their father and protector.”

(A. B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 4, 700, 739).

Fourthly, as we have seen, the revisionist conspirators had an ample and urgent motive — that of self-preservation — for eliminating Stalin:

“For many leading Soviet statesmen and officials, Stalin’s demise . . . came in the nick of time. Whether or not it was due to natural causes is another matter.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit,; p. 262).

“What a strange quirk of fate, I thought, that Stalin should lie dying just a few weeks after the Kremlin’s own doctors had been accused of plotting precisely such a death. A very strange and curious quirk of fate.

But was it just a quirk? . . . Was it possible that these powerful and able Soviet leaders, together with their colleagues in the Army, had stood idly by and taken no steps to halt the creeping terror that was certain to destroy almost all of them. . . .While murder cannot be proved, there was no question that motive for murder existed. . . . For . . . if Stalin were dying a natural death. it was the luckiest thing that had ever happened to the men who stood closest to him.”

(H. Salisbury: op. cit.; p. 160-61).

Fifthly, it is necessary to take into account the circumstantial evidence of the series of measures undertaken by the conspirators in the months prior to Stalin’s death to destroy the system of defences that had surrounded him.

It is not surprising, therefore, within weeks of Stalin’s death, rumours should circulate that he had been murdered:

“There were rumours, above all in Georgia, that Stalin had been poisoned.”

(W. Laqueur: op. cit.; p, 151).

Robert Conquest speaks of the:

” . . . possibilities that he was killed.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 172).

As Stalin’s former bodyguard Vlasik was leaving Moscow after his dismissal, Stalin’s son Vasily* is reported to have cried out:

“‘They are going to kill him! They are going to kill him!’. By ‘they’ he meant . . . other members of the Political Bureau, and by ‘him’ he meant his father.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).

“Stalin’s son Vasily kept coming in and shouting ‘They’ve killed my father, the bastards!”‘

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 774).

Although Vasily was an alcoholic, when he continued to make these accusations publicly, he was arrested in April 1953 in order, as his sister Svetlana puts it, “to isolate him”:

“After my father’s death, he (Vasily — Ed.) . . . was arrested. This happened because he had threatened the government, he talked that ‘my father was killed by his rivals’ and all things like that, and always many people around him — so they decided to isolate him. He stayed in jail till 1961 . . . and soon he died.”

(S. Alliluyeva: ‘Only One Year’; London: 1969 (hereafter listed as ‘S. Alliluyeva (1969); p. 202).

“He (Vasily Ed.) was convinced that our father had been ‘poisoned’ or ‘killed’.
Throughout the period before the funeral . . . he accused the government, the doctors and everybody in sight of using the wrong treatment on my father.. . .
He was arrested on April 18th, 1953. . . .A military collegium sentenced him to eight years in jail. He died on March 19th, 1962.”

(S. Alliluyeva (1967): p. 222-23, 224, 228).

Georges Bortoli* comments:

“Vasily Stalin had said aloud what the others were thinking to themselves. In less than a month, all sorts of rumours would begin to circulate in Moscow, and people would begin speaking of a crime. . . . .Some people said that several members of Stalin’s entourage were threatened by the coming purge. Had they taken steps to forestall it?”

(G. Bortoli: op. cit.; p. 151).

Robert Conquest and other commentators have drawn attention also to the sudden illness and death of the Czechoslovak leader, the Marxist-Leninist Klement Gottwald*, shortly after visiting Moscow to attend Stalin’s funeral, and have suggested that this death too had been induced. Gottwald was succeeded as President of Czechoslovakia by the concealed revisionist Antonin Zapotocky*:

“Many commentators have noted that immediately after Stalin’s death, Gottwald . . . also fell ill while attending Stalin’s funeral in Moscow, and died a few days later; and they have cast doubt on the naturalness of Gottwald’s illness.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 174).

The Albanian leader, the Marxist-Leninist Enver Hoxha* makes the same point:

“Immediately after the death of Stalin, Gottwald died. This was a sudden, surprising death! It had never crossed the mind of those who knew Gottwald that this strong, agile, healthy man would die of a flu or a chill allegedly caught on the day of Stalin’s funeral.”

(E. Hoxha: ‘The Khrushchevites’; Tirana; 1984 (hereafter listed as ‘E. Hoxha (1984)’); p. 153-54).

Hoxha also draws attention to the suspicious death of the Polish leader, the Marxist-Leninist Boleslaw Beirut* on 12 March 1957

” . . . in Moscow where he was attending the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 10; p. 14,767).

and was succeeded by the concealed revisionist Edward Ochab:

“Later came the equally unexpected death of Comrade Beirut. Edward Ochab replaced Beirut in the point of First Secretary of the Party. Thus Khrushchev’s old desire was realised.”

(E. Hoxha (1984): p. 153-65).

It was Ochab who arranged for the release of the imprisoned revisionist Wladyslaw Gomulka in April and his promotion to the post of First Secretary in October.

Hoxha, in fact, explicitly accuses the revisionist conspirators of the murder of Stalin:

“This cosmopolitan huckster (Anastas Mikoyan — Ed.) . . . as history showed, plotted with Nikita Khrushchev against Stalin, whom they had decided to murder. He admitted this with his own mouth in February 1960.”

(E. Hoxha (1984): p. 63-64).

“All this villainy emerged soon after the death, or to be more precise after the murder, of Stalin. I say after the murder of Stalin, because Mikoyan himself told me . . . that they, together with Khrushchev and their associates, had decided . . . to make an attempt on Stalin’s life.”

(E. Hoxha: ‘With Stalin: Memoirs’; Tirana; 1979; p. 31).

The Aborted Coup (1953)

As we have noted, in the years immediately prior to Stalin’s death, the security forces were under the control of concealed revisionists, not of Marxist-Leninists:

“Prior to Stalin’s death the Ministries of State Security and of Interior were not under Beria’s control.”

(R. Conquest, (1961): p. 200).

Clearly, it was a matter of great concern to the revisionist conspirators that, in any readjustment of responsibilities following Stalin’s death, control of the security forces should not pass again under Marxist-Leninist control.

Khrushchev records a discussion with fellow-revisionist Nikolay Bulganin* by Stalin’s death-bed on the danger to their plans if the Marxist-Leninist Lavrenty Beria were to become again Minister in control of the. security services:

“‘Stalin’s not going to pull through. . . . You know what posts Beria will take for himself?’
‘Which one?’
‘He will try and make himself Minister of State Security. No matter what happens, we can’t let him do this. If he becomes Minister of State Security it will be the beginning of the end for us’.
Bulganin said he agreed with me”,

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 319).

As we have seen, Stalin died 9. 50 p.m. on 5 March. The revisionists immediately used their control of the security forces to prepare for a coup. The American journalist Harrison Salisbury was an eye-witness of how, shortly before 6 a.m. the next morning:

” . . . smooth and quiet convoys of trucks were slipping into the city. Sitting cross-legged on wooden benches in the green-painted trucks were detachments of blue-and-red-capped MVD troops — twenty-two to a truck — the special troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. . . . The fleeting thought entered my mind that, perhaps, a coup d’etat might be in the making.
By nine o’clock . . . the Internal Affairs troops were everywhere in the centre of the city. . . . In upper Gorky Street columns of tanks made their appearance. . . . All the troops and all the trucks and all the tanks belonged to the special detachments of the MVD. Not a single detachment of regular Army forces was to be seen.
Later I discovered that the MVD had, in fact, isolated almost the whole city of Moscow. . .
By ten or eleven o’clock of the morning of March 6, 1953 no one could enter or leave the heart of Moscow except by leave of the MVD. .
MVD forces had taken over the city. . . .
Could any other troops enter the city? Not unless they had the permission of the MVD or were prepared to fight their way through, street by street, barricade by barricade.”

(H. Salisbury: op. cit.; p. 163-64, 166, 171, 173).

Robert Conquest paints a very similar picture:

“The streets of Moscow were solid with MVD troops when Stalin’s death was announced.” (R. Conquest (1961): p. 200).

as does Peter Deriabin:

“Even before Stalin’s body was cold, . . . MGB troops . . . not only set up controls and halted traffic, including pedestrians, on every principal capital thoroughfare, but had also ringed the Kremlin.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 328).

But the Marxist-Leninists succeeded, for the moment, in foiling the planned coup by mobilising sufficient support to call for the following day, 7 March, a joint emergency meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Council of Ministers and the USSR Supreme Soviet. In these circumstances the revisionist conspirators lost their nerve and judged it expedient to postpone their planned coup and refrain from opposing the election of Beria as the Minister in charge of state security, an appointment which obviously had majority support among the leadership:

“Beria immediately proposed Malenkov for Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Premier — Ed.). On the spot, Malenkov proposed that Beria be appointed first deputy. He also proposed the merger of the Ministries of State Security and Internal Affairs into a single Ministry of Internal Affairs, with Beria as Minister. . . . I was silent. . . . Bulganin was silent too. I could see what the attitude of the others was. If Bulganin and I objected . . ., we would have been accused of starting a fight in the Party before the corpse was cold.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1961): p. 324).

The Exculpation of the Doctors (1953)

After the death of Stalin, the most urgent and immediate task which faced the revisionist conspirators was to exculpate the doctors — not, of course, because they were innocent but, on the contrary, because they were guilty and because further investigation into the case could well lead to the exposure of the highly-placed ring-leaders of the conspiracy.

As we have said, in order to confuse the Marxist-Leninists and the Soviet public as to the real motives behind a move to exculpate the doctors, this move was taken as part of a blanket action to “correct miscarriages of justice.” In other words, the “doctors’ case” was linked to the 1951-52 Georgian feint, which they themselves had engineered, and this latter genuine miscarriage of justice was now temporarily corrected at the same time as the doctors were exculpated. As further camouflage, the revisionist conspirators temporarily supported moves demanded by, and strengthening the position of, the Marxist-Leninists — notably, the dismissal of the Russian chauvinist Leonid Melnikov* as First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party.

The decision to exculpate the doctors was taken in March 1953, only days after Stalin’s death, since the name of one of the accused doctors (Boris Preobrazhensky) reappeared in the issue of the journal ‘Vestnik Oto-Rino-Laringology’ which was published on 31 March. (R. Conquest (1961): p. 206).

On 3 April 1953, the Soviet press carried a sensational communique issued in the name of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs which announced the exculpation and release from custody of the arrested doctors:

“The USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs has carried out a thorough investigation of all preliminary investigation data and other material in the case of the group of doctors accused of sabotage, espionage and terrorist acts against active leaders of the Soviet state.
The verification has established that the accused in this case . . .
were arrested by the former Ministry of State Security incorrectly and
without any lawful basis. . . .
The . . . accused in this case have been completely exonerated of the accusations against them….. . and have been freed from imprisonment.”

(Communique of USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 3 April 1953; p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 5 , No. 10 (18 April 1953); p. 3).

The communique went on to explain away the confessions of the accused doctors by implying that they had been procured by means of torture:

“The testimony of the arrested, allegedly confirming the accusations against them, was obtained by the officials of the investigatory department of the former Ministry of State Security through the use of impermissible means of investigation which are strictly forbidden under Soviet law. . . .
The persons accused of incorrect conduct of the investigation have been arrested and held criminally responsible.”

(Communique of USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, in: ibid.; p. 3).

On the same day, the press reported that

” . . . the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet has resolved to annul the decree of January 20, 1953, awarding Dr. Lydia Timashuk the Order of Lenin. The award has been declared invalid in connection with fresh evidence that has since come to light.”

(Decision of Presidium of USSR Supreme Soviet, in: Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 188).

Dr. Timashuk was not, however, prosecuted for attempting to pervert the course of justice, and

” . . . shortly after the April events, she resumed work at the Kremlin Hospital. . . . She reappeared in her office, apparently unperturbed.”

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 191-92).

The Reversal of the Georgian Feint (1953)

As we have seen, in the government reorganisation of 7 March which followed the death of Stalin, the Marxist-Leninists temporarily regained control of the state security forces:

“On the morrow of the death (of Stalin — Ed.) . . ., Beria reclaimed control of the organs of state security, which had gradually been wrested from his hand during Stalin’s last years.”

(A. B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 540).

As part of the strategy of attempting to deceive the Marxist-Leninists and the Soviet public as to the real aims of the revisionist conspirators, the Marxist-Leninists were permitted to bring about the removal of the revisionists from the leading positions they had acquired in Georgia in the feint of 1951-52, that is, temporarily to reverse the feint.

“In April 1953, Beria carried out a counter-purge in Georgia.”

(H. Fairbanks, junior: op. cit.; p. 163).

On 14 April 1953 the Georgian Central Committee dismissed Akaki Mgeladze as First Secretary, and Mgeladze admitted that the charges of ‘nationalist deviation’ which he had levelled against the former Marxist-Leninist leaders had been fabricated:

“Beria now moved with speed. . . . A plenary session of the Georgian Communist Party was held on 14 April 1953, which dismissed the Party Secretariat headed by A. L. Mgeladze and established a new one under an official named Mirtskhulava. Beria’s old protege Valerian Bakradze, whom Mgeladze had dismissed from government office, now became Prime Minister of the Georgian Republic. Several prominent supporters of Beria whom Mgeladze and his faction had imprisoned, were released and given portfolios in the Bakradze administration. The ousted First Secretary, Mgeladze, made an abject confession, declaring that charges of nationalist deviation which he had levelled against high-ranking Georgian Bolsheviks were based on false evidence. . . . N. Rukhadze, Georgian Minister of State Security, who had aided and abetted Mgeladze, was imprisoned.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 263).

On 15 April:

” . . . the Chief Minister of the Georgian Soviet Republic (M. Valerian Bakradze) announced . . . that the Georgian Minister of State Security (M. Rukhadze) and two former secretaries-general of the Georgian Communist Party (MM. Mgeladze and Charkviani) had been dismissed from their posts, arrested and would be ‘severely punished’ for fabricating ‘trumped up’ charges against former leading members of the Georgian Government and Communist Party. . . . At the same time he announced that three former Ministers who had been dismissed at Rukhadze’s instigation would be immediately restored to their former posts; that the Ministries of Internal Security and State Security would be welded into a single Ministry; and that this Ministry would be headed by M. Vladimir Dekanozov. . . .
M. Bakradze, who was addressing a meeting of the Georgian Supreme Soviet, said that . . . a number of innocent persons had fallen victim to baseless charges of ‘bourgeois nationalism.”‘

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,029).

On 16 April “Zarya Vostoka” reported a speech by Bakradze in which he said:

“‘It has now been fully established by the organs concerned that . . . the enemy of the people and Party, former Minister of State Security N. M. Rukhadze, had cooked up an entirely false and provocative affair concerning a non-existent nationalism whose victims were eminent workers of our republic. . . . Rukhadze and his accomplices have been arrested and will be severely punished.”‘

(‘Zarya Vostoka’, 16 April 1953, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 145).

On 21 April Vilian Zodelava, released from prison, was made First Deputy Prime Minister and elected to the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Georgian Party:

“Mr. Zodelava was one of three leading Georgian Party members who had been jailed on false charges declared to have been concocted by Mr. Rukhadze. . . 
Released from jail, he has been made First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers (First Deputy Premier –Ed.) and has been elected to the Bureau of the Georgian Communist Party’s Central Committee.”

(‘New York Times’, 22 April 1953; p. 14).

On this date, “Zarya Vostoka” reported that:

“…a plenary session of the Central Committee in Georgia was announced . . . as having established that ‘the former secretary of the Central Committee, Mgeladze, took an active part in the arrest of completely innocent workers in the creation of a provocational case concerning non-existent nationalism fabricated by the enemy of the Party and the people, Rukhadze. . . . Mgeladze admitted that he was one of the instigators of ‘a stupid and provocational story’ about the existence in Georgia of a nationalist group.”

(‘Zarya Vostoka’, 21 April 1953, cited in: R. Conquest (1961); p. 145).

By 13 May the plot of revisionist conspirators to link the coup carried out by Nikolay Rukhadze in Georgia in 1951-52 with the false charges against Mikhail Ryumin in connection with the ‘doctors’ case’ had been consolidated, On that day, the newspaper “Zarya Vostoka”

” . . . declared that the Georgian case had been fabricated by Rukhadze and Ryumin. The latter, a former chief of the Investigatory Division of the former Ministry of State Security, was charged in an announcement of the new Ministry of Internal Affairs. . . .

The Georgian case . . . was in the statement of ‘Zarya Vostoka’ an Vanalogous case’ (to that of the doctors – Ed.) and was falsely fabricated by Ruhhadze.”

(‘New York Times’, 14 May 1953; p. 14).

The Dismissal of Leonid Melnikov (1953)

As the third facet of their plot to deceive the Marxist-Leninists and the Soviet public as to their real aims, the concealed revisionists supported the dismissal (announced on 13 June 1953) of the revisionist First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, Leonid Melnikov, who had been the target of severe criticism by the Marxist-Leninists and the Ukrainian people for his notorious Russification policies in the Ukraine:

“In June 1953, after Stalin’s death, the Russification policy in the Western Ukrainian provinces underwent a reversal. On June 13, the Kremlin disclosed that Leonid G. Melnikov, at the time First Secretary of the Ukrainian Party, had been ousted from that position for ‘having permitted distortions in the Leninist-Stalinist national policy’. The charges against Melnikov were . . . an indictment of Khrushchev who, in the course of his twelve-year rule in the Ukraine, had vigorously put this policy into practice. Melnikov had worked under Khrushchev in 1939-40 and from 1944 to 1949 and carried out the . . . Russification policy as efficiently as his boss.”

(L. Pistrak: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961; p. 185).

“L. G. Melnikov was relieved of his post as First Secretary of the (Ukrainian — Ed.) Central Committee as responsible for the Russification policy in the Ukraine.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 216-17).

The Military Coup in Moscow (1953)

But by the end of June 1953, it had become clear that the efforts to convince the Marxist-Leninists that the exculpation of the doctors had been justified had only been temporarily successful. Headed by Beria, the security forces, under Marxist-Leninist control since the readjustment of portfolios after Stalin’s death, were continuing to inestigate the “doctors’ case.”

Clearly, if the revisionist conspirators were to feel safe, Beria and his Marxist-Leninist colleagues in the security forces had to be eliminated as a matter of urgency.

On 10 July 1953, a few days after Beria had been arrested, a leading article in ‘Pravda’ revealed the real reason for that arrest — a reason not disclosed in the report of his “trial” — namely, that he had “deliberately impeded” and “tried to distort” instructions of the Central Committee and the Soviet government designed to clear up “certain illegal and abritary actions” — an obvious reference to the “doctors’ case”:

“Having been charged with carrying out ‘the Instructions of the Party Central Committee and the Soviet Government with a view . . . to clearing up certain illegal and arbitrary actions, Beria deliberately impeded the implementation of these instructions and, in a number of cases, tried to distort them.”

(‘Pravda’, 10 July 1953, in: B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 147).

Over several days at the end of June 1953, the revisionist conspirators approached other leading members of the Politburo with the baseless story that Beria was an agent of foreign imperialist powers and was plotting a coup against the Party leadership. Khrushchev has described how he based his allegation on unsubstantiated charges made at a Plenum of the Central Committee in February 1937 by the revisionist Grigory Kaminsky* that Beria had been an agent of the counter-revolutionary Mussavat Party —

“a nationalist party of the bourgeoisie and landlords in Azerbaijan, formed in 1912. . . . supported by the Turkish and later by the British interventionists.”

(Note to: J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p.417).

“In 1937, at a Central Committee Plenum, former People’s Commissar of Health Protection, Kaminsky, said that Beria worked for the Mussavat intelligence service.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 65).

Khruschev admits:

“I could easily believe that he (Beria – Ed.) had been an agent of the Mussavatists, as Kaminsky had said, but Kaminsky’s charges had never been verified. . . . We had only our intuition to go on.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 333).

But he alleges that he enrolled Georgy Malenkov* and Vyacheslav Molotov* into a plot to “detain Beria for investigation”:

“I took Malenkov aside and said: . . . ‘Surely you must see that Beria’s position has an anti-Party character. We must not accept what he is doing. . . ‘Malenkov finally agreed. I was surprised and delighted. . . .Comrade Malenkov and I then agreed that I should talk to Comrade Molotov. . . . I told Molotov what sort of person Beria was and what kind of danger threatened the Party if we didn’t thwart his scheming against the Party leadership. I had earlier told him how Beria had already set his plan in motion for aggravating nationalist tensions in the Republics. . . .I said: . . . ‘You think, maybe, that we should detain him for investigation? I said ‘detain’ rather than ‘arrest’ because there were still no criminal charges against Beria. . . . Molotov and I agreed and parted.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 330, 331, 332, 333).

He later describes how he succeeded in winning over Lazar Kaganovich*:

“I said that Malenkov, Bulganin, Saburov and I were of one mind and that without him we had a majority. Kaganovich declared right away: I’m with you too.”‘

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 334).

But because the security forces were under the control of the Marxist-Leninists, these could not be relied upon to carry out the task of eliminating Beria and his colleagues. The conspirators therefore decided that the coup had to be carried out by the army:

“The Presidium bodyguard was obedient to him (Beria –Ed.). Therefore we decided to enlist the help of the military.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 335-36).

“The army took part in Beria’s arrest.”

(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 58).

Khrushchev describes how the conspirators entrusted the execution of the military coup to a group of revisionist officers which included Kirill Moskalenko* and Georgy Zhukov*:

“First, we entrusted the detention of Beria to Comrade Moskalenko, the air defence commander, and five generals. This was my idea. Then, on the eve of the session, Malenkov widened our circle to include Marshal Zhukov and some others. That meant eleven marshals and generals in all. In those days all military personnel were required to check their weapons when coming into the Kremlin, so Comrade Bulganin was instructed to see that the generals were allowed to bring their guns with them. We arranged for Moskalenko’s group to wait for a summons in a separate room while the session was taking place. When Malenkov gave a signal, they were to come into the room where we were meeting and take Beria into custody.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 335-36).

The coup was fixed to take place during a joint meeting of the Presidium of the Party Central Committee and of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers on 24 June 1953. At this meeting Khrushchev reminded those present — including the gullible Marxist-Leninists – of the charges made by Kaminsky in 1937:

“I recalled the Central Committee Plenum of February 1937 at which Comrade Grisha Kaminsky had accused Beria of having worked for the Mussavatist counter-intelligence service, and therefore for the English intelligence service, when he was Secretary of the Baku Party organisation.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 339).

Finally, Khrushchev himself moved that Beria should be dismissed from all his posts:

“After the final speech, the session was left hanging. There was a long pause. I saw we were in trouble, so I asked Comrade Malenkov for the floor in order to propose a motion. As we had arranged in advance, I proposed that the Central Committee Presidium should release Beria from his duties. . . . Malenkov was still in a state of panic. As I recall, he didn’t even put my motion to a vote. He pressed a secret button which gave the signal to the generals who were waiting in the next room. Zhukov was the first to appear. Then Moskalenko and the others came in. Malenkov said in a faint voice to Comrade Zhukov: ‘As Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, I request that you take Beria into custody pending investigation of charges made against him’.
‘Hands up!’, Zhukov commanded Beria.
Moskalenko and the others unbuckled their holsters in case Beria tried anything. . . . We checked later and found that he had no gun. . . .
Beria was immediately put under armed guard in the Council of Ministers building next to Malenkov’s office confinement.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 337-38).

Strobe Talbott*, the editor of Khrushchev’s memoirs, points out that:

“Khrushchev’s implicit claim to have been the leading spirit in the plot against Beria is no doubt broadly true.”

(S. Talbott: Note to: N. S. Khrushchev (1071): p. 321).

The dismissal of Beria from his state posts was confirmed by the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet on 26 June. Beria was replaced as Minister of Internal Affairs, by the concealed revisionist Sergey Kruglov, who had held the post prior to the government reorganisation following Stalin’s death. (‘Pravda’, 17 December 1953, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 440).

Before the dismissal was made public, the revisionist conspirators took every precaution to prevent any opposition from those astute enough to see what it portended:

“On the night of June 26 1953, Red Army tanks of the Kantemirovskaya Division rolled into Moscow and took up much the same positions as . . . in March. And the tanks were supported by infantry from the Byelorussian military district.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 332).

On 10 July 1953, it was officially announced

“…that Mr. Lavrenty Beria, First Vice-Chairman and Minister of Internal Affairs, had been expelled from the Communist Party and removed from his Ministerial posts as an ‘enemy of the people.”‘

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,029).

Three years later, in his secret speech of February 1956, Khrushchev was to tell the 20th Congress of the CPSU that:

” . . . Stalin originated the concept ‘enemy of the people’. . . . This term made possible the usage of the most cruel repression, violating all norms of revolutionary legality.”

(N. S. Khruschchev (1956): p. 12).

In the first few weeks of July several other prominent Marxist-Leninists connected with the state security service, were arrested, or as Lang expresses it:

“Beria fell, dragging down with him many high officials . . . whose familiarity with secrets of state made their survival dangerous to the victors.”

(A.M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 264).

Those arrested with Beria included Vladimir Dekanozov*, Vsevolod Merkulov, Bogdan Kobulov, Sergey Goglidze, Pavel Meshik and Lev Vlodzirmirsky all of whom were Marxist-Leninists having close connection with the state security forces.

To sum up, the revisionist conspirators were able to

“. . . to unite the leaders in a conspiracy in which, with the help of the army, . . . they succeeded in getting rid of him (Beria — Ed.) once and for all.”

(R. Carre’re d’Encausse: ‘Stalin: Order through Terror’; Harlow; 1981; p. 193).

The Military Coup in Georgia (1953-54)

On 14 July 1953, shortly after Beria’s “arrest” on 26 June, the revisionist conspirators moved to carry out a military coup in Georgia in order to reverse the changes made in April 1953 and restore the situation which existed there prior to this date – the situation of revisionist domination brought about by the feint of 1951-52. The leaders of the coup, which was carried out at a joint meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia and of the Tiflis City Committee, were two military officers — General Aleksei Antonov* and Major-General Pavel Efimov:

“A. I. Antonov, General of the Army, Commander of the Transcaucasus Military District and, reputedly, a friend of Zhukov’s . . . . acted soon after the news of Beria’s arrest was announced from Moscow. He attended a joint plenary session of the Georgian Central and Tiflis Party Committees with a fellow-officer, Major-General P. I. Efimov. The latter . . . was then elected to the Central Committee Bureau. Other army officers then took over important posts in the government and Party apparatus.”

(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 58).

In the new political situation, Valerian Bakradze and some other Georgian leaders attempted to save their position by jumping on the revisionist bandwagon. “Zarya Vostoka” of 15 July 1953 reports a speech by Bakradze at the meeting already referred to, in which

“. . . he now, of course, condemns Beria.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 146).

As the “New York Times” commented:

“When Mr. Beria was purged last July, it appeared that Messrs. Bakradze and Mirtakhulava had attempted to jump from the Beria . . . . wagon.
Both of them assailed Mr. Beria at meetings held in the Georgian capital and also at the meeting of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in Moscow last August.”

(‘New York Times’, 23 September 1953; p. 16).

On 15 July, Tiflis Radio referred to Mgeladze, Rapava, Rukhadze and Shoniya as

” . . . accomplices of Beria.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 146).

“M. Bakradze . . . coupled Beria’s name with those of Rukhadze, Mgeladze and Charkviani as ‘traitors to the Party.”‘

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,030).

At the Georgian Central Committee meeting on 14 July, the Marxist-Leninist Vladimir Dekanozov was dismissed as Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs and expelled from the Party:

“First the police, or former police, adherents of Beria were removed at high speed.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 146).

“On July 15 . . ., after the announcement of Beria’s arrest, a broadcast from Tiflis announced that M. Dekanozov had been dismissed from the Georgian Government and the Communist Party for collaboration with ‘the traitor Beria.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,029-30).

“The main action taken (at the CC meeting — Ed.) was the expulsion of Dekanozov . . . from the Party.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p.146)

Dekanozov was:

“arrested immediately after.”

(R.Conquest 1961;. p. 151)

Reporting these events, the “New York Times” forecast that:

“. . . thousands of Georgian Communists face the prospect of being purged as Beria followers.”

(‘New York Times’, 16 July 1953; p. 8).

Aleksei Inauri, another revisionist army officer, was appointed Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs in succession to Dekanozov:

“A. I. Inauri has been named Minister of Internal Affairs for Georgia to succeed Vladimir Dekanozov. . . .Mr. Inauri is a newcomer to high office in Georgia.”

(‘New York Times’, 3 August 1953; p. 6).

The attempt of Bakradze and others to save their positions by transferring their allegiance to the revisionists failed. On 20 September 1953 a Plenum of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party, presided over by Secretary of the USSR Central Committee Nikolay Shatalin from Moscow, removed Bakradze as Georgian Premier and Mirtskhulava as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party:

“Premier Valerian M. Bakradze, who had headed the government since last April, was dismissed in disgrace and G. D. Dzhavakhishvili . . . was named in his place.”

(‘New York Times’, 23 September 1953; p. 1).

and a new First Secretary was elected in the shape of another army officer -Vasily Mzhavanadze*:

“The post of First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party was filled in September 1953 by the election of a new man — Mr. Vasily P. Mzhavanadze, a former Lieutenant-General in the Red Army.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 264).

Ducoli points out the importance of the military in the new Georgian leadership:

“Three representatives of the army were found in the Bureau (of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party — Ed.): First Secretary Mzhavanadze, MVD head Inauri, and Commander of the Transcaucausian Military District Antonov.”

(J. Ducoli: op. cit,; p. 59).

On 25 September 1953 (five days after the dismissal of Bakradze):

“. . . it was announced that three more Georgian Ministers had been dismissed – M. Baramiya (Minister of Agriculture and Procurement), M. Chaureli (Minister of Culture), and M. Tsukulidze (Minister of Education). . . . (M. Baramiya had been dismissed in April 1952 from the post of Second Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, having been accused of ‘bourgeois nationalism’ and ‘ideological deviation’, but had been reinstated in the Government a year later with Beria’s support).”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9: p. 13,468).

In the following month (October 1953) a new Georgian Prime Minister was elected — the revisionist engineer and geologist Givi Djavakhishvili*:

“On 29 October 1953, a forty-one-year-old engineer and geologist, Mr. Givi D. Djavakhishvili, was elected Prime Minister of the Georgian Republic.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 264).

and on 17 January 1954 a broadcast from Tiflis

“. . announced that M. Vilian Zodelava had been dismissed from the post of First Deputy Premier of the Georgian Soviet Republic.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,468).

Conquest notes that:

” . . . none of the Beria nominees (of the Marxist-Leninists — Ed.) has reappeared in office.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 147).

The ‘Mingrelian Affair’ (1953)

In Soviet revisionist mythology, the Georgian events of April 1953 have become known as the “Mingrelian Affair.” Mingrelia is that part of Georgia which borders upon the Black Sea, and the name has been apparently coined because the leading individuals involved in it came from Mingrelia:

“It seems plain that the ‘Mingrelian’ conspiracy refers not to this rather small area, but to a group of Mingrelians powerful in Georgia as a whole. . . . Baramiya, Rapava, Shoniya and Zodelava . . . were all Mingrelians, as was Beria himself.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 140).

In describing the “Mingrelian Affair” of April 1953 to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956 as an instance of miscarriage of justice, Nikita Khrushchev confuses it, no doubt deliberately, with the feint attack of 1953, which was engineered by Khrushchev and his fellow revisionist conspirators and was exposed and corrected by the Marxist-Leninists in April 1953. He states that the (1951-52) affair related to false charges of ‘nationalism’ levelled against Georgian Party leaders, but repeats the false allegation made at the time that these charges were initiated by Stalin:

“Instructive . . . is the case of the Mingrelian nationalist organisations which supposedly existed in Georgia. As is known, resolutions by the Central Committee Communist Party of the Soviet Union were made concerning this case in November 1951 and in March 1952.
Stalin had personally dictated them. They made serious accusations against many loyal Communists. On the basis of falsified documents it was proven that there existed in Georgia a supposedly nationalistic organisation, whose objective was the liquidation of the Soviet power in that Republic with the help of imperialist powers.
In this connection a number of responsible Party and Soviet workers were arrested in Georgia. As was later proven, this was a slander directed against the Georgian Party Organisation.
We know that there have been at times manifestations of local bourgeois nationalism in Georgia, as in several other republics. . . .
As it developed, there was no nationalistic organisation in Georgia.
Thousands of innocent people fell victim of wilfulness and lawlessness.
All of this happened under the ‘genial’ leadership of Stalin, ‘the great son of the Georgian nation’, as Georgians liked to refer to Stalin.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1961): p. 60, 61-62).

The “Trial” of Beria (1953)

The “trial” of Lavrenti Beria and six of his fellow-Marxist-Leninists who had been associated with the security forces took place in the USSR Supreme Court on 18-23 December 1953. Those tried with Beria were:

Vladimir Dekanozov, recently Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs;
Sergey Goglidze, former Georgian People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs, and recently an official of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs;
Bogdan Kobulov, former Georgian Deputy Commissar of Internal Affairs;
Vsevolod Merkulov, former USSR Minister of State Security, recently USSR Minister of State Control;
Pavel Meshik, formerly an official of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, recently Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs; and
Lev Vlodzimirsky, former Head of the Section of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs for Investigating Specially Important Cases.

The Presiding Judge at the “trial” was Marshal Ivan Konev, on whose appointment the “New York Times” commented:

“Marshal Ivan Konev’s role as chairman of the tribunal . . . appears to be the clearest indication to date of the greatly enhanced political power now apparently wielded by the highest Soviet military leaders.”

(‘New York Times’, 24 December 1953; p. 1).

and noted a year later:

“Three of the four top judges who tried and sentenced Beria were army men.”

(‘New York Times’, 25 December 1954; p. 3).

Furthermore, a new State Prosecutor was specially appointed by the revisionist conspirators — the Ukrainian revisionist jurist Roman Rudenko*:

“We had no confidence in . . . the State Prosecutor . . .so we sacked him and replaced him with Comrade Rudenko.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p 339).

It was alleged that Beria:

“. . . in 1919 . . . committed treason by accepting the position of Secret Agent in the Intelligence Service of the counter-revolutionary Mussavat Government in Azerbaijan, which operated under the control of British Intelligence organs.”

(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ‘Pravda’, 24 December 1953, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 445).

All the defendants were charged that they

” . . . using their official positions in the organs of the NKVD/MGB/MVD, committed a number of the most serious crimes for the purpose of exterminating honourable cadres.”

(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ibid,; p. 446).

And with

“. . betraying the Motherland and operating in the interests of foreign capital . . . in order to seize power . . . . restore capitalism and the domination of the bourgeoisie”,

(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ibid.; p. 444-45).

and with waging

“a criminal struggle of intrigue against . . . Sergo Ordzhonikidze.”

(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ibid.; p. 442).

The Ordzhonikidze case was discussed in an earlier section.

All the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death by shooting, the sentence being carried out on 23 December 1953.

It was stated that all the accused had

“. . . pleaded guilty”,

(Report of Trial of Beria, in: ibid.; p. 446).

but we have only the conspirators word for this, since

“the trial was closed to the public.”

(‘New York Times’, 24 December 1953; p. 1).

Nicolaevsky, indeed, insists that

“. . . Beria was tried behind closed doors without any confessions.”‘

(Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 120).

and the Albanian leader, the Marxist-Leninist Enver Hoxha, affirms that a Soviet military adviser to Albania informed the Albanians that he had been a witness at Beria’s “trial” and that Beria, far from “confessing” had defended himself very strongly in court and refuted all the charges:

“When a general, who I believe was called Sergatskov, came to Tirana as Soviet military adviser, he also told us something about the trial of Beria. He told us that he had been called as a witness to declare in court that Beria had allegedly behaved arrogantly towards him. On this occasion Sergatskov told our comrades in confidence: ‘Beria defended himself very strongly in court, accepted none of the asccusations and refuted them all.”

(E.Hoxha (1984): p, 31).

Many Western commentators accept that the charges against Beria and his co-defendants were a mere pretext for their judicial murder. Even Stalin’s daughter Svetlana, who disliked Beria and was inclined to believe any story detrimental to him, testifies that:

“Beria’s ‘trial’ was staged . . . without any evidence.”

(S. Alliluyeva (1969): p. 375).

On the allegations that Beria was a “foreign agent,” Nicolaevsky points out that:

” – – not the slightest shred of evidence has even been offered.”

(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; P. 145).

While Lang ridicules the charges that Beria and his Leninists were guilty of “attempting to restore capitalism”:

“These persons and others put to to death with them were accused of conspiring with Beria to liquidate the Soviet workers’ and peasants regime with the aim of restoring capitalism and the power of the bourgeoisie. These charges can hardly be taken seriously.”

(D.M.Lang: op.cit.,; p.264).

The Re-emergence of Melnikov (1953-57)

After the “arrest” of Beria in July 1953, the concealed revisionists felt it safe to “rehabilitate” their colleague Leonid Melnikov:

“Melnikov subsequently re-emerged and rose again. A few weeks after Beria’s fall, Melnikov was appointed Soviet Ambassador to Romania; in April 1955 . . . he was recalled to Moscow and appointed Minister of Construction of Coal Industry Enterprises, and in June 1957 was identified as Chairman of the State Planning Commission and First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers (First Deputy Premier — Ed.) of the Kazakh SSR. Thus Khrushchev moved a notorious Russifier of the Ukraine to a Muslim Republic to replace a prominent local leader.”

(L. Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 185).

The Trial of Abakumov (1954)

On 14-17 December 1954, the Marxist-Leninist former Minister of State Security, Viktor Abakumov, was tried in Leningrad before the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court, presided over by Lieutenant-Colonel E. L. Zeidin. Along with Abakumov, as co-defendants, appeared:

A.G. Leonov, former director of the MGB Investigating Division for Especially Important Cases;
V. I. Komarov and M. T. Likhachev, former Deputy Chairmen of the Investigating Division for Especially Important Cases;
I. A. Chernov and I. M. Broverman, former members of the USSR Ministry of State Security.

The defendants were charged with:

” . . . committing the same crimes as Beria.”

(‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 24 December 1954, p. 2, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 6, No. 49 (19 January 1955); p. 12).

while Abakumov was in particular charged 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.”

(‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, in: ibid.; p. 12).

All the accused were found guilty. Chernov was sentenced to 15 years in a labour camp, Broverman to 25 years in a labour camp, while Abakumov, Leonov, Komarov and Likachev were sentenced to death by shooting.

The “Trial” of Ryumin (1954)

As has been said, the Minister of State Security officially responsible for the investigation of the ‘Doctors’ Case’ was Semyon Ignatiev, while Mikhail Ryumin was merely his deputy.

But Ignatiev was a member of the revisionist conspiracy, and so took part in the investigation only reluctantly, while Ryumin was a Marxist-Leninist. In consequence, their fate at the hands of the conspirators was very different.

Ryumin was arrested on 5 April 1953, two days after the doctors had been exculpated. (‘Pravda’, 6 April 1953; p. 1).

As Georges Bortoli comments:

“It was convenient to make him rather than the former Minister Ignatiev shoulder the heaviest responsibility for the affair. Ignatiev was loyal to Khrushchev and Khrushchev defended him tooth and nail.”

(G. Bortoli: op. cit.; p. 186-87).

Nevertheless, it was not until July 1954 — fifteen months after his arrest — that Ryumin came to trial:

“The fact that Ryumin was not tried until fifteen months after his arrest shows that he must have had his defenders. They must have been very influential defenders at that. . . .
A real struggle over the Ryumin case was fought at the June (1954 Ed.) Plenum , and it was there that his execution was decided upon.”

(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 154-55, 156).

Ryumin’s trial lasted six days – from 2 to 7 July 1953:

“On July 2-7 1954, the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR examined at a court session the case of M. D. Ryumin.”

(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954, in: R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 447).

and the report of the proceedings made it clear that he was charged with “fabricating” the “Doctors’ Case”:

“Ryumin, during the period of his work in the post of Senior Investigator and than as Head of the Section for Investigating Specially Important Cases of the former Ministry of State Security, . . . engaged . . . on the path of forging investigative materials, on the basis of which Provocative cases were engineered and unjustified arrests were carried out of a number of Soviet citizens, including prominent medical workers.”

(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954. in: ibid.; p. 447).

Somewhat oddly, however, this was defined as

“. . . a crime envisaged by Article 58-7 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR.”

(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954, in: ibid.; p. 447).

But Article 58, Para. 7, of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR relates to economic sabotage!

“Article 58, Para. 7, is . . . irrelevant to Ryumin’s activity in connection with the arrest of the doctors. . . . It cannot possibly be applied to Ryumin’s role in the doctors’ plot.”

(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 149).

Nicolaevsky points out in explanation that falsification of evidence is punishable under the Criminal Code by only up to five years deprivation of liberty, while “economic sabotage” carries the death penalty. (B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 149).

The court:

” . . . sentenced Ryumin to the supreme penalty — death by shooting. The sentence has been carried out.”

(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 448).

Adam Ulam sums up this course of events as follows:

“After a secret trial in July 1954, Ryumin was shot.”

(A. B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 736).

The fate of Ignatiev, the Minister, was very different. He was merely criticised for

” . . . political blindness and negligence.”

(‘Pravda’, 6 April 1953, in: Y. Rapoport: op. cit. .; p. 189-90).

and, as Conquest expresses it,

“. . . was only demoted”,

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 208).

On 7 April (two days after Ryumin’s arrest) it was announced that Ignatiev had been

“. . . . . released from the duties of a Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU.”

(‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 7 April 1953; p. 12, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 5, No. 11 (25 April 1953); p. 4).

This treatment was because, as a participant in the revisionist conspiracy,

“Ignatiev . . . came under Khushchev’s protection.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 181).

Thus, Ignatiev’s ‘disgrace’ was very temporary. A few months later, in February 1954, Ignatiev

” . . . was appointed First Party Secretary in the Bashkir ASSR.”

(S. Wolin & R. M. Slusser: op. cit.; p. 56).

“Khrushchev . . . took Ignatiev under his wing and gave him an important post in the Party apparatus, albeit in the provinces.”

(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 128).

“Ignatiev was appointed First Secretary of the Bashkir Autonomous Republic. Thus, under the Khrushchev regime, another Muslim republic came under the rule of a Great-Russian whose career had not exactly mirrored sympathy for other nationalities and races.”

(L. Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 187).

The “Rehabilitation” of Anna Louise Strong (1955)

On 14 February 1949

” . . . ‘the notorious intelligence agent, the American journalist Anna Louisa Strong . . . was arrested. . . .Mrs. Strong is accused of espionage and subversive activity directed against the Soviet Union. It is reported that she would be deported in a few days.”

(‘New York Times’, 15 February 1949; p. 1).

When, in 1955, the Soviet revisionists decided to seek a rapprochement with the United States, Beria and Abakumov were used as scapegoats for Strong’s 1949 deportation, the evidence for which they were said to have “fabricated”:

On 4 March 1955

“. . . Anna Louise Strong . . . was formally absolved of the charges that she had spied on the Soviet Union. . .Lavrenti P. Beria . . . and Viktor S. Abakumov . . . were blamed for the false arrest of Miss Strong.”

(‘New York Times’, 5 March 1955; p. 1).

The ‘Rehabilitation’ of Tito (1955)

Similarly, when the Soviet revisionists decided to annul the denunciation of Yugoslav revisionism made in 1948-49 by the Marxist-Leninist Communist Information Bureau, Khrushchev visited Belgrade for this purpose in May 1955:

“He not only apologised for past ‘aggravations’, he attributed them to the ‘fabrication’ of Lavrenty Beria and Viktor Abakumov.”

(‘New York Times’, 27 May 1955; p. 1).

The Rapava-Rukhadze Trial (1955)

In September 1955 the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court, sitting in Tiflis and presided over by Lieutenant-General Chertkev, tried Avksenty Rapava (formerly Georgian People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs), Nikolay Rukhadze (formerly Minister of State Security), and six other defendants formerly connected with the Georgian security forces. They were charged with

” . . . high treason, terroristic acts and participation in counter-revolutionary organisations.”

(Radio Tiflis, 22 November 1955, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 450).

Rukhadze, of course, had become a victim of the manoeuvres to reverse the Georgian feint of 1951-52 associated with the exculpation of the terrorist doctors, and was sacrificed to those manoevres.

Accused of being “accomplices of Beria,” among the crimes with which the defendants were charged was that of taking an active part

“. . . in the struggle of intrigue which Beria had over a number of years been carrying on against Sergo Ordzhonikidze, the prominent statesman.”

(Radio Tiflis, 22 November 1955, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 450).

and of committing

“. . . terroristic acts of violence against Mamia Orakhelashvili, former Secretary of the Transcaucasian Party Regional Committee, and his wife, Mariam Orakhelashvili, former People’s Commissar of Education of the Georgian SSR.”

(Radio Tiflis, 22 November 1955, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 450).

Conquest notes:

“The Rapava-Rukhadze trial in September 1955 again mentioned Ordzhonikidze, and also rehabilitated a number of Georgians headed by Orakhelashvili, who had been shot in the Yenukidze-Karakhan case of December 16, 1937.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 274).

The cases of Ordzhonikidze, the Orakhelashvilis, Yenukidze and Karakhan have been discussed in an earlier section.

One of the accused was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment, one to twenty-five years’ imprisonment, and the rest — including Rapava and Rukhadze — to death by shooting.

The Trial of Bagirov (1956)

In July 1953, after the ‘arrest’ of Beria, Mir Bagirov*, the Marxist-Leninist Secretary of the Central Committee of the Commnunist Party of Azerbaijan, was removed from his post and, shortly afterwards, arrested.

On 12-26 April 1956 Bagirov and five alleged “accomplices” were tried by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court, sitting in Baku and presided over by Lieutenant-General A. A. Cheptsov for:

“high treason, the commission of acts of terrorism, and participation in a counter-revolutionary organisation.”

(‘Bakinsky Rabochy’, 27 May 1956, p. 2, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 8, No. 21 (4 July 1956), p. 12).

Among other charges, it was alleged that

“. . . Bagirov and the other defendants were active in the intrigues that Beria and his accomplices conducted against Sergo Ordzhonikidze.”

(‘Bakinsky Rabochy’, 27 May 1956; p. 2, in: ibid.; p. 12).

The Ordzhonikidze case has been discussed in an earlier section.

The accused were all found guilty. Two of the defendants were sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment, while three (including Bagirov) were sentenced to death by shooting.

The Bagirov “trial” was the last in the series of judicial murders of Marxist-Leninist leaders of the security forces.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

*ABAKUMOV, Viktor S., Soviet Marxist-Leninist security official and politician (1894-1954); head of counter-espionage organisation SMERSH (1942-45); Minister of State Security (1946-52); executed by revisionists (1954).

*ALLILUYEVA, Svetlana S., Stalin’s daughter. (1926- )

*ANTONOV, Aleksey I., Soviet revisionist military officer (1895-l962); Commander, Transcaucasia Military District (1949-54); 1st. Deputy Chief of Staff, and Chief of Staff, Warsaw Pact (1955-62).

*BAGIROV, Mir D, A., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1956); 1st Secretary, Azerbaijan (1933-53); executed by revisionists (1956).

*BERIA, Lavrenty P., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1899-1953); USSR Commissar of Internal Affairs (1938-45); USSR Premier (1941-45); Deputy Chairman, USSR Defence Committee (1941-44); marshal (1945); USSR Minister of Internal Affairs and lst Deputy Premier (April-July 1953); executed by revisionists (1953).

*BIERUT, Boleslaw, Polish Marxist-Leninist politician (1892-1956); President (1947-52); General Secretary, Polish Workers’ Party (1948-54); Premier (1952-54); 1st Secretary, Polish United Workers’ Party (1954-56).

*BORTOLI, Georges, Moroccan-born French journalist and TV producer (1923-).

*BULGANIN, Nikolay A., Soviet revisionist politician (1895-1975); USSR Deputy Premier (1938-41); Minister of Armed Forces (1947); USSR Deputy Premier and Minister of Defence (1953-55); USSR Premier (1955-58).

*CONQUEST, Robert, British-born poet and political analyst specialising in the USSR (1917- ); senior research fellow, Hoover Institute (1977- ).

*DEKANOZOV, Vladimir G., Soviet Marxist-Leninist diplomat and politician (1898-1953); USSR Deputy Commissar of Internal Affairs (1939-41); Ambassador to Germany (1940-41); Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs (1953); executed by revisionists (l953).

*DERIABIN, Peter S., Russian-born American writer (1921- ); former officer in Soviet security forces; defected (1954).

*DEUTSCHER, Isaac, Polish-born British journalist and political analyst (190767).

*DZHAVAKHISHVILI, Givi D., Soviet revisionist geologist and politician (1912); Deputy Premier, Georgia (1953); Premier, Georgia (1953).

*DUCOLI, John, American teacher specialising in Transcaucasia (1922-

*FAIRBANKS, Charles H., junior, American political analyst (1944- ); associate professor of political science, Yale University (1979-81); member, Policy Planning Committee, US Dept. of State (1981- 82); research professor, Johns Hopkins University (1982-85); foreign policy adviser, Reagan Committee for Presidency (1980), Bush Committee for Presidency (1988).

*GOMULKA, Wladyslaw, Polish revisionist politician (1905-82); General Secretary, Polish Workers’ Party (1943-48); imprisoned for nationalism (1943-56); 1st Secretary, Polish United Workers’ Party (1966-70).

*GOTTWALD. Klement, Czechoslovak Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1953); Premier (1946-48); President (1948-53).

*GOVOROV, Leonid A., Soviet revisionist military officer (1897-1955); Marshal (1944); Commander of National Air Defence Forces and USSR Deputy Minister of Armed Forces (1948-54); Commander-in-Chief of Air Defence Forces and USSR Deputy Minister of Defence (1954-55).

*GREY, Ian, New Zealand-born lawyer and historian (1918

*HOXHA, Enver, Albanian Marxist-Leninist leader (1908-85); General/First Secretary, CC, Communist Party of Albania/Party of Labour of Albania (1941-85);Premier and Foreign Minister (1944-54).

*IGNATIEV, Semyon D., Soviet revisionist politician (1908- ); USSR Minister of State Security (1951-53); Secretary, CC (March-April 1953); First Secretary, Bashkiria (1954- ).

*KAGANOVICH, Lazar M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1893-1991); member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); USSR Minister of Building Materials Industry (l946-47); Ist Secretary, Ukraine (1947-53); USSR Deputy Premier (1953-55); USSR Minister of Building Materials Industry (1956-57).

*KAMINSKY, Grigory N., Soviet revisionist politician (1805-1938).

*KONEV, Ivan S, Soviet revisionist military officer -(1897-1973); marshal (1944); C-in-C, Ground Forces, and USSR Deputy Minister of Armed Forces (1946-50); Chief Inspector of Army (1950-51); Commander, Carpathian Military District and Commander-in-Chief, Ground Forces (1951-55); C-in-C, Warsaw Pact Forces and USSR Ist Deputy Minister of Defence (1956-60); Inspector-General at USSR Ministry of Defence (1960-73).

*KRUGLOV, Sergey, Soviet revisionist security official and politician (190777); USSR Minister of Internal Affairs (1946-March 1953, July 1953-56).

*LANG, David M., British historian (1924- ); Professor of Caucasian Studies, University of London (1964-84).

*LAQUEUR, Walter, German-born American journalist, historian and political analyst (1930- ); Director, Institute of Contemporary History (1964- )

Professor of Government, Georgetown University (1977- ); Chairman, International Research Council, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (1973- ).

*LEVCHENKO, Gordey, Soviet revisionist naval officer (1897-1981); admiral (1944); deputy Commissar of Navy and Commander of Baltic Fleet (1944-60); retired (1960).

*LEVTYSKY, Boris, Austrian-born political analyst (1915- ).

*MALENKOV, Georgi M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1902-88); Member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); USSR Premier (1953-55); 1st Secretary, CPSU (1953); USSR Minister of Power Stations (1955-57).

*McNEAL, Robert H., American historian (1930- ); Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto (1964-69); Professor of History, University of Massachusetts (1969-).

*MELNIKOV, Leonid G., Soviet revisionist politician (1906- ); 1st Secretary, Ukraine (1949-53);

*MIKHOELS, Solomon (real name: VOVSI), Soviet revisionist actor and director (1890-1948); director of Moscow State Jewish Theatre (1929-48); Chairman, Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (1942-48); accused posthumously of espionage and terrorism (1953).

*MOLOTOV, Vyacheslav M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1890-1986); USSR Premier (1930-41); USSR Commissar of Foreign Affairs (1939-46); USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs (1946-49, 1953-56); Member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); USSR Minister of State Control (1956-57); Ambassador to Mongolia (1957-60).

*MOSKALENKO, Kirill A., Soviet revisionist military officer (1900-85); commander, Moscow Anti-Aircraft Defence (1945-53); commander, Moscow Military District (1953-60); Marshal (1955); commander-in-chief, USSR Strategic Missile Forces and Deputy Minister’of Defence (1960-62); chief inspector, USSR Ministry of Defence (1962-66); USSR Deputy Minister of Defence (1966-83).

*MZHAVANADZE, Vasily P., Soviet revisionist military officer and politician (1902- ); Lieutenant-General (1944); Ist Secretary, Georgia (1953-72).

*NICOLAEVSKY, Boris I., Russian , born American political analyst (1887-1966).

*ORAKHELASHVILI, Ivan (Mamiya), Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1937).

*ORAKHELASHVILI, Maria P., Soviet revisionist politician (1887-1937).

*POSKREBYSHEV. Aleksandr N.. Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1891-1965):

Head, Special Secretariat. Central Committee. CPSU (1928-52).

*RUDENKO. Roman A.. Soviet revisionist jurist (1907-81): Chief Soviet

Prosecutor*. Nurember2 (1945-46): USSR Procurator-General (1953-81).

*SALISBURY. Harrison E., American Journalist (1908- ‘New York Times’

Moscow correspondent (1949-54).

*SCHERBAKOV. Aleksandr S.. Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician and military.

officer (1901-45): Secretary. CC (1938-44): Chief of Main Political Directorate. head of Soviet Information Bureau. Deputv Commissar of Defence (1942-45).

*SHTEMENKO. Sereev M.. Soviet revisionist military officer (1907- ): Chief of

General Staff and Deputy Minister of Armed Forces (1948-52): Chief of Staff and 1st Deputv C-in-C of Ground Forces (1962-64): USSR Deputy Chief of Staff (1964-68): general (1968): Chief of Staff. Warsaw Pact Forces (1968-90).

*STALIN. Vasilv J.. Stalin’s son (1921-62).

*STRONG. Anna L.. American journalist (1885-1970).

*TALBOTT. Strobe, American journalist (1946- ).

*ULAM. Adam B.. Polish-born American political analyst (1922- ): Professor

Government,. Harvard University (1959-79): Professor of History and Political Science. Harvard University (1979Director. Russian Research Centre. Harvard (1973-76. 1980- ).

*VASILEVSKY. Aleksandr M.. Soviet revisionist military officer (1895-1977):

Chief of General Staff. lst Deputy Minister of Defence (1946-49): USSR Minister of Armed Forces (1949-53): USSR Deputy Minister of Defence (1953-57).

*VINOGRADOV. Vladimir N.. Soviet revisionist medical specialist (1882-1964).

*VOLKOGONOV. Dmitry. Soviet revisionist historian’ (1928- ): on staff of Main

Political Directorate. Red Armv (1970-85): Director. Institute of Militarv Historv (1985- ).

*ZAPOTOCKY. Antonin, Polish revisionist politician (1884-1957): Deputy Premier

(1945-48): Premier (1948-53): President (1953-57).

*ZHDANOV. Andrev A.. Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1948): CPSU

Secretarv (1934-48): CPSU Secretary. Leningrad (1934-48): murdered by revisionists (1948).

*ZHUKOV. Georei K.. Soviet revisionist military officer (1896-1974): Marshal

(1943): commander-in-chief. Soviet occupation forces in Germany (194546): USSR Minister of Defence (1955-57): Member. Presidium of CC. CPSU (1957).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alliluyeva, S. (1967): ‘Twenty Letters to a Friend’; London; lq67.

Alliluyeva, S. (1969): ‘Only One Year’; London; 1969.

Bortoli, G.: ‘The Death of Stalin’; London; 1973.

Carre’re d’Encausse, H.: ‘Stalin: Order through Terror;’; London; 1981.

Conquest, R. (1961): ‘Power and Policy in the USSR: The Study of Soviet Dvnastics’; London; 1961.

Conquest, R. (1971): ‘The Great Terror’; Harmondworth; 1971.

Deriabin, P.: ‘Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars’; n.p. (USA); 1984.

Deriabin, P. & Gibney, F.: ‘The Secret World’; New York; 1959.

Deutscher, I.: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; Harmondsworth; 1968.

Ducoli, J.: ‘The Georgian Purges (1951-53)’, in: ‘Caucasian Review’, Volume 6 (1958).

Fairbanks, C. H., junior: ‘National Cadres as a Force in the Soviet System: The Evidence of Beria’s Career: 1949-53’, in: Azrael, J. R. (Ed.): ‘Soviet Nationality Policies and Practices’; New York; 1978.

Grey, I.: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979.

Hoxha, E. (1984): ‘The Khrushchevites’; Tirana; 1984.

Hoxha, E. (1979): ‘With Stalin: Memoirs’; Tirana; 1979.

Khrushchev, N. S. (1956): Secret Speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU, in: Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): ‘The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A Selection of Documents’; New York; 1956.

Khrushchev, N. S. (1971): ‘Khrushchev Remembers’, Volume 1; London; 1971.

Lang, D. M.: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962.

Laqueur, W.: ‘Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations’; London; 19qO.

Levytsky, B.: ‘The Uses of Terror: The Soviet Secret Service: 1917-1970’; London; 1971.

Lewis, J. & Whitehead, P.: ‘Stalin: A Time for Judgement’; London; 1990.

McNeal, R. H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988.

Nicolaevsky, B.: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite’; New York; 1965.

Pistrak, L.: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’;London; 1961.

Rapoport, Y.: ‘The Doctors’ Plot: Stalin’s Last Crime’; London; 1901.

Rosenfeldt, N. E.: ‘Knowledge and Power: The Role of Stalin’s Chancellery in the Soviet System of Government’; Copenhagen; 1978.

Salisbury, H. E.: ‘Stalin’s Russia and After’; London; 1955.

Suny, R. G.: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’, London; 1989.

Ulam. A.B.: ‘Stalin : The Man and His Era’; London; 1989.

Volkogonov, D.: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1091. Wolin, S. & Slusser, R.: ‘The Soviet Secret Police’; London; 1957.

: ‘Bakinsky Rabochy’.

: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’.

: ‘Izvestia’ (News).

: ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’.

: ‘New York Times’, New York.

: ‘Pravda’ (Truth).

: ‘Shorter Oxford English Dictionary’; Oxford; 1977.

: ‘Zarya Vostoka’.

Source

Vietnamese Revolutionary Art

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #53, “Aesthetics and Revolution – Essays and Talks.

Introduction

Western Artists and revolutionaries, are familiar with the socialist realist traditions of the USSR, Albania and of China. They also have a deep affection and respect for revolutionary painting from the Spanish Civil War, and from the South American continent especially from Mexico and Cuba. Curiously, art arising from the heroic struggles of the Vietnamese peoples, is much less well known. This is a shame, since the long war of national liberation, resulted in a plethora of great art.

Ho Chi Minh’s shrewd and insightful leadership of the Vietnamese national bourgeois liberation struggle, built a successful United Front. This was dependent upon the recognition that “many currents” would help move Vietnam into independence. A striking example of this viewpoint, is Ho Chi Minh’s view of Confucius, Jesus and Marx as “close friends”:

“The teachings of Confucius have a strong point, i.e., self-improvement of personal virtue. Jesus’ Bible has a strong point, i.e., noble altruism. Marxism has a strong point, i.e. a dialectical working method. Ton Dat Tien’s teaching has a strong point, i.e.Fe; their policies are suited to the conditions in our country, Did Confucius, Jesus, Marx, and Ton Dat Tien share common points? Yes. They all pursued a way to bring happiness to human beings and benefit to society. If they were all alive today, and if they were grouped together, I believe that they would live together in harmony like close friends. I try to become their pupil.“

Ho Chi Minh 1949. Plaque in Ho Chi Minh Museum, July 2004.

With this “broad church” philosophy, Ho Chi Minh succeeded in welding such a powerful anti-imperialist front. Unsurprisingly even the art in the clearly revolutionary phases of this broad front, also reflects a broad range of styles, and even at times of contents. Perhaps this is not surprising, since the Indochinese dominant French imperialism had already stimulated interest in the French art movements.

This article outlines and illustrates some developments in visual arts over the modern era. We apologise that it cannot be anything more than a very brief introduction.

A short background to the traditional arts, showing their legacy to the modern era, may be helpful.

Ancient Vietnamese Art

Naturally, the art history of the Vietnamese peoples is commensurate with their ancient story. The traditional arts in Vietnam faced the ravages of wars and little other than architectural edifices, and some sculptures and pottery, now exists. This shows the mark of a tension between external influences – Chinese and Indian – and more ‘native’ royalty sponsored arts. Largely it was the Cham dynasty that was heavily influenced by Indian art, and remaining sculptures show remarkable similarity.

Another major cultural import was Buddhism, via India directly, but also via South China. Buddhism has left a long lasting artistic and intellectual legacy in the many temples and pagodas that still survive in virtually every village. All these external influences were absorbed, such that by the 10th –11th centuries, the dominant artistic expressions relied upon Chinese Han traditions.

This absorption can be vividly seen in architecture, both in construction styles, and in intellectual legacy. This is vividly exemplified by the Temple of Literature founded in the 11th century. As the official tour plaque says of this shrine to Confucius, his four disciples and the ten learned ones:

“The Temple of Literature was the biggest centre in the country in feudal times, contributing to the training of thousands of scholars for the nation. It was worthy of being called the First University.”

Plaque, Temple of Literature, Hanoi July 2004.

It should not surprise that this plaque lauds Confucius (551-479 BC — Wade-Giles K’ung-fu-tzu or Pinyin Kongfuzi). Although Confucius is regarded as a reactionary in the current era, his contribution to welding a state in China is not challenged. And above all Ho Chi Minh was a dedicated nationalist, whose first mandate was to recognise important steps in the development of Vietnam into a modern, strong, independent and united nation, bridging the so-called three kys (parts of Vietnam).

The existing legacy that we are aware of from Vietnamese arts rests primarily upon porcelains and ceramics, sculpture, architecture, and folk-art traditions. Of these a large mystical non-realist tradition was dominant, incorporating dragons and mythical beings. But they did nonetheless develop realist themes amidst the myths. So even the depictions of the Buddha show a real human shape and a real human expression [Plate 1]. This version of the Bhudda shows him starving but peaceful in meditation.

Notable in these statues is the covering of the wood, with several layers of lacquer [See below].

Plate 1: Statue of Sakyamuni on A Snow Mountain 1794; Height 137 cm

SakyamuniFrom:
Editor: Cao Trong Thiem, “Bao Tang My Thuat Viet Nam”;
Vietnam Fine Arts Museum; nd; p.43

Given the ordinary peasants’ tendency to reduce all pretensions to an earthy reality, folk art usually took an explicitly realist form. The folk art illustrated life’s vagaries with a number of human motifs, as can be seen in the wood-cut traditions of Dong Ho village in Ha Bac Province [Plate 32]. This tradition was to re-surface with the development of poster art in the national revolutionary period.

Plate 2: Catching Coconuts (paper wood-cut print);
Cao Truong Theim; Ibid; p.51

Catchign Coconuts

Many of these techniques as developed over ancient times, left reservoirs of skills that were to find a new use in an entirely different set of traditions emanating from Western art and from the traditions of Socialist Realism. The ancient arts will not be further discussed here.

We will now focus, on the visual arts over the modern era.

Beginnings of Western Type Painting in Vietnam

Under French colonial domination at the turn of hte 19th – 20th centuries, Indochinese intellectuals were drawn to French and Western art movement. This was fueled by the setting up of hte Indochinese Art Academy by a Frenchman – Victor Tardieu – in 1925.

This fostered new technical skills and vocabulary, shortly to be put to profound uses by thw revolutionary artists in the era 1935-1970.

As the Vietnam Fine Arts Academy says:

“Tardieu rendered great service by laying the foundations for Vietnamese modern Fine Arts.“

Editor: Cao Trong Thiem, “Bao Tang My Thuat Viet Nam”; Vietnam Fine Arts Museum; nd; p.25.

Certainly such a strong Western external art influence was also present in the USSR before the socialist revolution.

It was perhaps somewhat less evident in the Chinese national revolution, or in Albanian art. In China, such influences were transmitted in Shanghai, to artists such as Xu Beihong (1895-1953) who went to the Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux Arts in Paris [See Clarke David; Modern Chinese Art’; Hong Kong; 2000; p.18]. And of course Chinese developments in modern art and socialist realism, were spurred on by Lu Xun and his espousal of the wood-cut.

But Western art influence was much more immediately influential in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, the earliest tangible expression of this Western influence realism was by artists such as Le Huy Mien [1873-1943; ‘Making comments on literary work”; 1898] [See Plate 3], and Trang Tran Phenh (‘Phagm Ngu Lao’, 1923).

The former depicts scholars debating merits of literary works, a theme not dissimilar from that of the traditional Chinese inspired Vietnamese artists. But the literature being debated now was slowly becoming more likely to do with modern liberation themes, than of poems on the moon.

Plate 3: Le Huy Mien:
‘Making Comments on a Literary Work’;
Cao Trong Thiem Ibid; p, 56

HuyMien

While these pioneers utilised the Western medium of oil paints, they restricted their content to local themes, expressed in the highest form of a bourgeois critical realism. By the 1930’s however, the content as well as style, of many painters had become almost identical to the most conventional of the French Impressionist schools such as Renoir. “Little Thuy” (1943) by Tran Van Can (1910-1994) for instance [p.75] [See plate 4], or “Japanese Young Girl” 1942, by Luong Xuan Nhi (1914-) [Plate 5] are clearly overtly influenced by Impressionism.

And this type of content largely came to predominate.

Plate 4: Tran Can Can
‘Little Thuy’;
Cao Trong Thiem Ibid; p. 74

Tran Van Can

Plate 5: Luong Xuan Nhi:
‘Japanese Young Girl’;
Cao Trong Thiem Ibid; p. 77

Luong Xuan Nhi

Residuals of ancient arts were now more found in the mediums used, rather than the contents or subject matter. But if the artists persisted in using the older materials, this had an effect on the subject choice. So artists attracted to old art forms such as painting on silks, rendered beautiful images of life such as Nguyen Phan Chanh’s [1892-1984] “Going to the Rice Fields” (1937) [See plate 6].

Plate 6: Nguyen Phan Chanh:
‘Going to the Rice Fields’;
Cao Trong Thiem Ibid; p. 58

RiceFields

With the later revolutionary influences, Nguyen Phan Chanh, persisted in this art form, making such vivid depictions of real life as “Team of Rattan Weavers” (1960) [See plate 7] and “A Good Harvest Meal” (1960) [p. 59].

Plate 7: Nguyen Phan Chanh:
‘Going to the Rice Fields’;
Cao Trong Thiem Ibid; p. 58

RattanWeavers

This tradition lasted long into the revolutionary period as the dates show. It also was linked to another tradition, that of wood-cuts which spawned in the revolutionary era, the revolutionary propagandist prints.

Perhaps a specialty of Vietnamese traditional arts was however lacquer painting.
As noted above, statuary and sculpture was often coated in a several layers of lacquer. This is a resin extracted from cuts on the bark of a common Vietnamese tree called ca y son (La: Rhus succedanea), which has is collected in total darkness lest it becomes itself dark (Catherine Noppe & Jean Francois Hubert ‘Art of Vietnam’; New York; 2003). When applied by the artist, it gives a special luster to the painted material – usually a wood – that acts as a vivid light. This light can be burnished with various pigments, into several different colours according to the pigment used, but the most common are golds, reds and greens. Each layer needs sanding down, before a new layer can be added, meaning considerable labour. The quality of lacquer derives from the number of coats, the manner in which the patterns can shine out and the expertise of sanding of the surface, which allows under layers to appear as a bas- relief.
An early exponent of the fusion of traditional form with more modern content was Nguyen Gia Tria (1908-1993).

His screen “In the Garden”, consists of 8 panels that show on one side a profusion of stylised banana and palm leaves. The obverse, consistent with the genre of French painting influences discussed, has a series of pretty, languid women redolent of Impressionist male fantasies. It is undoubtedly striking, but remains a purely decorative piece. Perhaps his ‘Clumps of bamboo in the countryside (1939) shows him at both his technical and content best, showing the florid jungle surrounding peasant on a boat passage [Plate 8].

Plate 8: Nguyen Gia Tria:
‘Clumps of Bamboo in the Countryside’;
Cao Trong Thiem Ibid; p. 86

Nguyen Gia Tri

That Nguyen Gia Tria wished to be linked to a more nationalist stream is evident since he professed that he:

“wished to drop his art studies as he felt all his teachers should be Viertnamese. Tardiese persuaded him to stay”;
Noppe & Hubert Ibid; p. 208.

Artistic Currents during the anti-imperialist struggles

It was onto this background, that the experiences of the anti-colonial liberation struggle led a new generation of artists into uncharted areas. Influenced by a stream of aesthetic thought from bourgeois liberalism through to socialist realism, they were largely solidly realist. Many of the artists of the Fine Arts Academy decamped, and taught at “Jungle Schools”:

“The first wave of national opposition against the French rule between 1946 and 1954 attracted a good number of Hanoi Fine Arts graduates who went and taught at the “Jungle School” in Viet Bac. . A natural consequence of the shutdown in the wake of the Japanese crackdown on March 31 1954. Out in the jungle you could still sense the war, but you also felt the power of nature and the cultural wealth of ethnic minorities.”
Noppe & Hubert Ibid; p.212-3

Impressively stirring content was drawn from the Indochinese liberation struggles, and often was grafted onto traditional forms, primarily of lacquer.
The results are far from simple propagandist art.

Marxist-Leninist aesthetics point out that realist content material, is the most effective art to stir the masses.

Too little attention has been paid to the differences between good realist art, and simple propaganda. Marxist-Leninists have long held that the best art both moves people, but is not ‘tendentious’, in the words of Engels. Alliance has empasised the distinction between “propagandist art”, “state sponsored art”, and the best of socialist art (Memorial to Bill Bland – see Table of Contents Alliance 53).

Much of the best of the art stemming from the Vietnamese national liberation struggle is by any standard, a high art.

Clearly tensions of style remained, and a degree of abstractionism was not uncommon, with some abstract paintings throughout the revolutionary era.
But there is little doubt that the predominant weight of paintings over the period from 1945 to the 1980’s, was realist in content.

Naturally the turns of the long war led to their own effects on the artist