Category Archives: Albania

American Party of Labor: Insights into Socialist Albania from “Pickaxe and Rifle”

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William Ash’s Pickaxe and Rifle: the Story of the Albanian People is a comprehensive, diversified, in-depth study and explanation of the experiences and the social system of the tiny, formerly Marxist-Leninist Balkan country. Ash was invited to travel to the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania in 1969. He visited again in 1971. He was given the opportunity of visiting the country during the Albanian Party of Labor’s Sixth Party Congress and of checking the draft typescript of his work with historians and state and party leaders, and most important of all, with workers in the factories and on the collective farms.

The 270-page book is divided up into twenty-one chapters, covering just about every aspect of Albanian life, from health, education and the status of women, to the party, state, and mass organizations to the state of the country’s economic development. An entire chapter is also dedicated to expressing the leisure time of the workers and the activities and resorts that are available to them. While examining the situation and lifestyle of socialist Albania’s workers, farmers, and intelligentsia, Ash dedicates the first eight chapters to the history of tiny Albania and the historical struggles for freedom and independence that have been characteristic of the country ever since the days of the Ottoman Empire.

First and foremost, William Ash is a Marxist-Leninist, and as an advocate of scientific socialism and proletarian revolution, Ash never skips a beat in providing a fluid and correct Marxist analysis based. For one example in chapter fifteen, he exposes the Khruschevite coup and the bureaucratic stagnation of the Soviet Union:

“One of the first indications that an entirely different line was being adopted by the Soviet leadership came in May, 1955, when Khrushchev unilaterally rejected the decisions of the Information Bureau and other communist and workers’ parties in respect to Tito’s betrayal of socialism and heading a delegation to Belgrade for the purpose of rehabilitating, without consultation, the Yugoslav leader. Two days before the delegation left Moscow the Albanian Party of Labour was informed of the visit and asked to approve a statement which Khrushchev had drawn up in the name of the Information Bureau without bothering to convene it. This the Albanian Party refused to do on the grounds that there had been no change in the line of the Yugoslav leadership since it has been condemned by the 1948 resolution of communist and workers’ parties represented on the Bureau” (Ash 182).

“The conference of the four great powers, the Soviet Union, the United States, Britain and France, at Geneva in July, 1955, was acclaimed by Khrushchev as ‘a new stage in the relations between nations’ and he described the leaders of the imperialist powers as ‘reasonable people who were trying to ensure peace’ – this on the eve of the Angle-French-Israeli attack on Suez!” (183).

“Instead of challenging the policy of nuclear blackmail which the United States government had used ever since the war to keep the world safe for the operations of monopoly capitalism, Khrushchev was going to use the Soviet Union’s nuclear capacity to get in on the act. This was the case as demonstrated later on when Albania’s opposition to the Khrushchev line prompted the threat from Kozlov, a member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Party, that ‘either the Albanians will accept peaceful co-existence or an atom bomb from the imperialists will turn Albania into a head of ashes and leave no Albanian alive’” (184).

“Class struggle does not cease even after the liquidation of the exploiting classes. It simply takes different forms as the battle between the ideas, customs and habits of the old exploitative society and the ideals and aspirations of the new socialist man is fought out in every sphere of social activity” (101).

These are but a few passages that Ash provides on the topic of the split in the world communist movement. The author pulls no punches in calling out revisionism and injustice, defending the contributions of Joseph Stalin and the resolute fighting spirit of the Albanian Party of Labor. Ash wastes no time getting down to business in the examination of the socialist state structure that existed within Albania. He provides a short history of the first constitution drafted under the surveillance of the people’s democratic government. By providing a comprehensive list of sources from both inside and outside the small Balkan republic, the author describes:

“The whole document of fewer than a hundred articles takes up only 40 pages of a very small book. This conciseness and simplicity stem from the fact that, unlike most constitutions, there are no ruling class interests to be concealed in elaborate verbiage, no complicated divisions of power to the state’s interference in business and finance, no pseudo-democratic formulations designed to give people the illusion of governing themselves” (98).

“All the major democratic organizations which enable the Albanian working masses to exercise state power originated and developed in the heat of national struggle. As they came into being in answer to the national need they were tested in the fires of the liberation war involving the whole people. Out of the National Liberation General Council grew the People’s Assembly; and the National Liberation Committee appointed by the Council became the Government, Prime Minister and Cabinet, elected by the Assembly. The National Liberation Councils at village, district, and city levels developed in the People’s Councils which are the local organs of state power” (99).

“Every citizens having completed eighteen years of age, regardless of sex, economic status, social position, religious belief or any other consideration, enjoys the right to elect and be elected to any elective body in the state. Electors vote directly for their representatives whether as members of a village council, as people’s judges or as deputies of the People’s Assembly itself. Polling is done secretly by sealed ballot in special booths and is under the supervision of electoral committees appointed by the mass organizations of the Democratic Front – trade unions, youth and women’s associations and the working collectives of industrial enterprises, agricultural co-operatives, government ministries, army units and so on. These same mass organizations of workers have the right to present any of their members as candidates” (103).

Throughout the section entitled “Albania’s Socialist Society,” it becomes clear that Ash went to great lengths to study and expound on the social organization of Albania. The author describes the socialist and democratic nature of the whole society, from the mass organizations such as the Democratic Front, the trade unions, the Labor Youth Union, the Albanian Women’s Union and the Union of Artists and Writers to the organization of the Albanian Party of Labor and the structure of the state as a whole. There is vast description of all parts of Albanian life.

In the last section of the book, William Ash describes the quality of life in socialist Albania. Although a relatively poor and tiny country, the sheer amount of progress made since the book was written in 1976 is astounding to say the least. The author provides an objective analysis combined with facts and statistics to show the outside world just how powerful a nation can become once it adopts a Marxist-Leninist political and economic line. In terms of describing the educational system and the consciousness of the youth and women of socialist Albania, Pickaxe and Rifle: the Story of the Albanian People offers insight into how the youth took the reigns of their own future and denounced the feudal practices that were once widespread throughout the country. To offer an example:

“Organizations of youth and women and the trade unions were mobilized in this campaign under the slogan: ‘In order to build we must acquire knowledge and in order to acquire knowledge we must be able to study and learn.’ Tens of thousands of those previously illiterate were enrolled in night schools without giving up production work, graduating first from elementary classes, then from seven grade schools and even completing secondary and higher school courses. By 1955 illiteracy among all those under 40 had been wiped out and not long afterward it was abolished among older people too. The night schools were maintained to consolidate this achievement and to keep people, particularly in the rural areas, from slipping back again” (223).

Compare this type of system, this amount of democracy and freedom of action, this style of liberation to modern-day capitalist Albania or any Western capitalist country. The incredible amount of self-initiative in terms of building relationships and developing the mind is unheard of in any country today, where women are still subjected to the domination of the man and where the youth are constantly being subordinated to the institutionalized curriculum, whether it is productive and popular with those actually doing the learning or not.

“In his great speech to the Fifth Party Congress on November 1, 1966, he stressed the need of linking teaching and education much more closely to life and labour. Speaking not only as a Marxist-Leninist but as one who had been a teacher himself, at the Korca academy before his dismissal on political grounds, he explained the political necessity of an ‘unceasing development of education to meet the demands of socialist society;’ and pointed out that ‘Our schools, for all the improvement in teaching and education, have not yet rid themselves of bourgeois pedagogy and revisionist influences…It is indispensable to revolutionize further the educational system…It is particularly necessary to take radical measures for the improvement of ideological and political education and for educating youth through labour…There is still too much formalism and verbalism, passivity on the part of pupils and stifling the personality of the young on the part of the teachers, too much officialdom in the relations between teachers and pupils resulting in conservative and patriarchal methods of education…There can be no talk of revolutionizing our schools without revolutionizing the great army of teachers who must set the example of a communist attitude toward labour and life’” (225).

The above passage, quoting Enver Hoxha himself, sheds light on what education would look like under a socialist system: the youth and the teachers acting coming together as respectable equals to build and revolutionize a truly democratic and progressive school system. Offering constructive criticism on the subject of socialist education, Comrade Hoxha does not exhibit narrow-mindedness and pessimism on the role of the youth in building and shaping the society that will belong to them. Instead, he encourages them to open their minds and explore their creative will and natural compassion to rebel against reactionary, subordinating teaching methods. How many other heads of state would have said such things in the open?

“In the schools and in the University teachers and professors had to adopt new methods and learn to accept the criticism of students as part of their own socialist rehabilitation. A few found the extension of democratic centralism to the educational system, with students taking an active role in organizing school life, too much of a break with the old academic traditions they had hoped to see re-established. They were released to go into production work, perhaps, to return to teaching when they have learned from workers the socialist ideology of the working class. And students, too, had to learn more thoroughly that socialist education has nothing to do with getting a degree in order to become ‘a man of authority’ or to ‘secure a comfortable post with a fat salary’” (227).

“A student is judged not on the marks he gets in competition with his fellows but on the help he gives others in mastering subjects. So successful has the approach proved that in such places as the Tirana Secondary school of Culture students through mutual aid in lessons have realized a hundred percent promotion rate and earned commendation for the exemplary tidiness and protection of socialist property” (227).

“Courses in Marxism-Leninism were made a living part of the curriculum and not just a routine subject to be got through in a mechanical way. Texts and lectures on dialectical and historical materialism were related to Albania’s own revolutionary history and students and teachers learned to apply the principles of scientific socialism to their own problems and those of their society. And since practice is the essence of Marxism-Leninism, students and teachers began to participate more actively in the political and economic life of the country, leaving their books and laboratories to study the application of theory on the production and social front” (227).

A strong initiative towards learning, acquiring knowledge and conscious discipline on behalf of the students themselves, combined with the life experiences and teaching expertise of the educators must be the bedrock of socialist education.

The social status of women has always been an important topic for those studying Albania’s application of Marxism-Leninism. Before liberation, women were required to be completely subordinate to the demands and wishes of the male. The Code of Lek was the set of rules and guidelines that governed the family in feudal times. Passages such as “the husband is entitled to beat his wife and to tie her up in chains when she defies his word and orders”, and “The father is entitled to beat, tie in chains, imprison or kill his son or daughter…The wife is obliged to kneel in obeisance to her husband” indicate the shear hostility and oppression towards women. Fortunately, these enslaving principles began to be sharply criticized during the liberation war, as men and women stood shoulder-to-shoulder to free themselves of the fascist invaders. As such, Pickaxe and Rifle dedicates a chapter to the role of women in the socialist family by comparing the gains and progress of the national liberation war to the binding feudal culture beforehand.

“In 1938 there were 668 women workers in all Albania, mostly girls of 14 or 16 working a ten hour day for appallingly low wages. By 1967 over 248,000 women, which is 42% of rural and urban workers, were engaged in production work on exactly the same terms as men” (235).

“’Women workers,’ Stalin has said, ‘urban and rural workers are the greatest reserve of the working class. This reserve represents half the population. On whether this reserve of women is with or against the working class depends the destiny of the proletarian movement, the triumph or defeat of the proletarian revolution and the triumph or defeat of proletarian state power’” (235).

In addition to the major gains made towards women’s rights during the years immediately following liberation, the author also carefully documents the continuous progression and enhancement of the status of females in socialist society. Approved in June 1965 and put into action in 1966, a new family code was adopted, which reaffirmed certain rights guaranteed in the Constitution of socialist Albania. This new family code is as follows:

“• Marriage is contracted with the free will of husband and wife and rests on solid feelings of love, equality and mutual respect. Only monogamous marriages are recognized.

• Partners in marriage can choose as their surname that of husband or wife or each may keep his or her original name or add them together.

• A wife can choose her work or profession without her husband’s permission and the handling of the family income is managed by mutual agreement.

• Personal property held by either before marriage remains his or hers and anything acquired afterwards is joint property. All children regardless of sex are entitled to equal shares in the inheritance of joint personal property and the wife is the heir of first rank.

• Divorce is allowed when a marriage has lost all meaning and cohabitation has become intolerable. Causes for divorce are continuous quarrels, maltreatment, breach of conjugal faith, permanent mental illness or punishment for serious crimes. There is no distinction between husband or wife in the right to sue for divorce and the rearing of children is confided to that parent who in the court’s opinion is better qualified to bring them up.

• All parental rights belong to both parents equally and disagreements are settled by tutelage committees or by the courts.

• Single mothers enjoy all due respect and the state guarantees their economic security and protection. Children born outside marriage are equal in every way to those born within.

• Abortions are allowed after consultation with a committee of doctors. Birth control is a matter of personal choice. There is no family planning in the sense of national campaigns to limit births because Albania is an underpopulated country in which all births are welcomed” (238-239).

These progressive family guidelines, set in law, are a happy example of solving family issues the right way in the right social context. It could be claimed that law does not necessarily solve every issue and serve as the final and complete solution, but the fact that such great strides forward have been made in terms of equality of the sexes is definitely a solid indication of the Party and the state’s attitudes towards the role of women in everyday life.

Lastly, Ash focuses a section on what there is to do in Albanian workers’ leisure time. As a generally warm country with multiple beaches and resorts, the author uses the example of the Durres bathing resort to show that workers do in fact have time to relax or take a vacation. Durres stands out in this sense, however, in that it is Albania’s top beach resort and that it is only open to trade union workers, which was comprised of 99% of Albania’s workers. As confirmed not only in Pickaxe and Rifle but in Albania Defiant (1976) by Jan Myrdal and Gun Kessle and translated by Paul Britten, Durres is not open for bureaucrats or tourists. It is exclusive in the sense that the best beach in the entire country belongs to the workers and the workers alone.

Aside from bathing resorts and vacations, there are a number of activities or festivities going on in the streets after the work day is over. Cultural centers, cafes, gymnasiums, and folk centers are open for all Albanians.

“At the end of the day’s work the whole population comes out into the broad boulevards, to stroll about greeting friends, to have coffee or something to eat in one of the many open-air cafes or restaurants in this warm country – whole families to three generations taking the fragrant summer air together or young couples walking hand in hand or, perhaps, happy bands of children weaving in and out of the crowds in some extemporized game” (217-218).

“There is something strange to the visitor from the West in seeing children running about through the streets in such abandon without any surveillance. In his towns they would soon be decimated by traffic. In Albania, after the end of the working day, there are no lorries nor motor cars to be seen and the streets and avenues belong entirely to the people for their communal perambulation which gives each wide thoroughfare the appearance of a fair ground” (218).

“In the sight of so many family groups of grandparents, parents, children and even children’s children walking, talking and taking refreshment together raises the question of why family relationships are so strong and satisfactory, the answer every one gives is that there is no economic restraint whatsoever compelling families to stay together. The only bond is that of mutual love and respect” (219).

“Or the evening crowds may seek various forms of entertainment in the local palace of culture where there are recitals, concerts, pageants or plays. They may go to cinemas where a growing number of the films shown are Albanian. They may enjoy the presentation in some large auditorium of that ever popular form, Estrada, which is the Albanian equivalent of the music hall – with acts by singers, musicians and acrobats, with dramatic sketches and comic turns. And in all these amusements and cultural activities the audiences are not merely passive in their enjoyment. Not only do they participate in the sense that every performance of any kind has developed collectively under the guidance of constructive criticism which everyone feels free to give but also because a large proportion of any gathering will belong themselves to some cultural group which no factory, school, office, co-operative farm or institution of any kind is without” (219).

Constructive criticism is a large part of socialist society, constantly reviewing and keeping what is progressive in the eyes of the people and renewing or doing away with what is not. What makes it especially notable is the fact that this is carried over to cultural and artistic life.

“National holidays celebrating the founding of the People’s Republic, historical anniversaries, victories, in the liberation war or in socialist construction raise to a higher degree the festive feeling to be encountered in the streets of the major towns. The broad tree-lined avenue leading from the statue of Scanderbeg in the centre of Tirana to the University on the outskirts of the city will be filled with representatives of the Democratic Front organizations, of factories and farms, of the armed services and young pioneers, marching past the reviewing stand near the Dajti Hotel under billowing red banners, shouting revolutionary slogans and paying their respects to Party and state leaders and guests from abroad” (219).

“All around the grove are bulletin boards with pictures of the activities of the co-operatives in the area and the achievements of the rural electrification programme. Strung overhead are banners inscribed with such slogans as Rroftë Partie e Punës e Shqipërisë – Long live the Albanian Party of Labor, Shqipëri, ‘land of the eagles’, is the Albanians’ name for their country; and among the dances performed by the men in the course of the merrymaking will be the famous eagle dance. Other banners wish a long life to Enver Hoxha or set out the main themes to be taken up in a brief political meeting by a representative of the Central Committee, perhaps the veteran partisan Birro Kondi whose brother also a great partisan fighter died in an accident after the war – ‘Without unmasking revisionism one cannot defeat imperialism’ and ‘the people of Albania and China’s millions are more than a match for any enemy’” (220).

“Then the vast crowed, more than 20,000, move to the long tables under the trees which are piled high with roast chickens and slabs of lamb, homemade bread, cream cheese, boiled eggs, tomatoes and corn on the cob. Vast quantities of very good cold beer are drunk during and after the feast to the sound of the constantly repeated toast Gezuer! – Good health! There is much moving about and groups at the tables are broken up and reform as old comrades are discovered and greeted affectionately. One of the good survivals of feudal customs, along with the open-handed hospitality one encounters all over Albania, deepened and given a new fraternal significance by socialism, is the close demonstrative friendship between men. Partisans seeing each other after an interval embrace and kiss warmly. Moving about as freely and greeted as affectionately are the Party and State leaders who have come from Tirana to join in the celebrations – the Foreign Minister who is also a deputy from this region, an ambassador, several members of the Political Bureau and Enver Hoxha’s younger sister” (220).

It’s very interesting to take note of the amount of simple pleasures there are to indulge in, and one of the most common joys in Albania involves the simple enjoyment of each other’s company. The workers are disciplined and hardworking, but they are neither puritanical nor austere. The embracing of the dialectical method can have far-reaching progressive consequences when applied to social practice, whether the practice pertains to culture, economics or the political system, or if it is used in simple social interaction.

In conclusion, Pickaxe and Rifle is an excellent, comprehensive account of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania through the eyes of an eyewitness who has visited the country on more than one occasion. William Ash provides in his work a very well-put-together and very sincere study of the socialist system in Albania by covering nearly every aspect of Albanian life and the amount of freedom and organization the working class gains under proper Marxism-Leninism. Ash’s book, from examining the political and economic system of Albania to the social, artistic and cultural life, Pickaxe and Rifle is a breath of fresh air in a society plagued by lies and misinformation about communist theory and practice.

Reference

Ash, William. Pickaxe and Rifle: the Story of the Albanian People. London: H. Baker, 1974.

Source

Bruce Franklin’s Introduction to “The Essential Stalin”

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Please note the posting of this introduction to the book “The Essential Stalin” does not necessarily imply support of Franklin’s political line.

 — E.S.

I used to think of Joseph Stalin as a tyrant and butcher who jailed and killed millions, betrayed the Russian revolution, sold out liberation struggles around the world, and ended up a solitary madman, hated and feared by the people of the Soviet Union and the world. Even today I have trouble saying the name “Stalin” without feeling a bit sinister.

But, to about a billion people today, Stalin is the opposite of what we in the capitalist world have been programmed to believe. The people of China, Vietnam, Korea, and Albania consider Stalin one of the great heroes of modern history, a man who personally helped win their liberation.

This belief could be dismissed as the product of an equally effective brainwashing from the other side, except that the workers and peasants of the Soviet Union, who knew Stalin best, share this view. For almost two decades the Soviet rulers have systematically attempted to make the Soviet people accept the capitalist world’s view of Stalin, or at least to forget him. They expunged him from the history books, wiped out his memorials, and even removed his body from his tomb.

Yet, according to all accounts, the great majority of the Soviet people still revere the memory of Stalin, and bit by bit they have forced concessions. First it was granted that Stalin had been a great military leader and the main antifascist strategist of World War II. Then it was conceded that he had made important contributions to the material progress of the Soviet people. Now a recent Soviet film shows Stalin, several years before his death, as a calm, rational, wise leader.

But the rulers of the Soviet Union still try to keep the people actually from reading Stalin. When they took over, one of their first acts was to ban his writings. They stopped the publication of his collected works, of which thirteen volumes had already appeared, covering the period only through 1934. This has made it difficult throughout the world to obtain Stalin’s writings in the last two decades of his life. Recently the Hoover Institute of Stanford University, whose purpose, as stated by its founder, Herbert Hoover, is to demonstrate the evils of the doctrines of Karl Marx” completed the final volumes in Russian so that they would be available to Stanford’s team of émigré anti-Communists (In. preparing. this volume, I was able to use the Hoover collection of writings by and about Stalin only by risking jail, directly violating my banishment by court injunction from this Citadel of the Free World.)

The situation in the U.S. is not much different from that in the U.S.S.R. In fact the present volume represents the first time since 1955 that a major publishing house in either country has authorized the publication of Stalin’s works. U.S. capitalist publishers have printed only Stalin’s wartime diplomatic correspondence and occasional essays, usually much abridged, in anthologies. Meanwhile his enemies and critics are widely published. Since the early 1920s there have been basically two opposing lines claiming to represent Marxism-Leninism, one being Stalin’s and the other Trotsky’s. The works of Trotsky are readily available in many inexpensive editions. And hostile memoirs, such as those of Khrushchev and Svetlana Stalin, are actually serialized in popular magazines.

The suppression of Stalin’s writings spreads the notion that he did not write anything worth reading. Yet Stalin is clearly one of the three most important historical figures of our century, his thought and deeds still affecting our daily lives, considered by hundreds of millions today as one of the leading political theorists of any time, his very name a strongly emotional household word throughout the world. Anyone familiar with the development of Marxist-Leninist theory in the past half century knows that Stalin was not merely a man of action. Mao names him “the greatest genius of our time,” calls himself Stalin’s disciple, and argues that Stalin’ s theoretical works are still the core of world Communist revolutionary strategy.

Gaining access to Stalin’s works is not the hardest part of coming to terms with him. First we must recognize that there can be no “objective” or “neutral” appraisal of Stalin, any more than there can be of any major historical figure during the epochs of class struggle. From the point of view of some classes, George Washington was an arrogant scoundrel and traitor to his country, king, and God, a renegade who brought slaughter and chaos to a continent; Abraham Lincoln was responsible for the deaths of millions and the destruction of a civilized, cultured, harmonious society based on the biblically sanctioned relationship with the black descendants of Ham; Sitting Bull was a murderous savage who stood in the way of the progress of a superior civilization; Eldridge Cleaver, George and Jonathan Jackson, Ruchell Magee and Angela Davis are vicious murderers, while Harry Truman, Nelson Rockefeller, Mayor Daley, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon are rational and patriotic men who use force only when necessary to protect the treasured values of the Free World.

Any historical figure must be evaluated from the interests of one class or another. Take J. Edgar Hoover, for example. Anti-Communists may disagree about his performance, but they start from the assumption that the better he did his job of preserving “law and order” as defined by our present rulers the better he was. We Communists, on the other hand, certainly would not think Hoover “better” if he had been more efficient in running the secret police and protecting capitalism. And so the opposite with Stalin, whose job was not to preserve capitalism but to destroy it, not to suppress communism but to advance it. The better he did his job, the worse he is likely to seem to all those who profit from this economic system and the more he will be appreciated by the victims of that system. The Stalin question is quite different for those who share his goals and for those, who oppose them. For the revolutionary people of the world it is literally a life and-death matter to have a scientific estimate of Stalin, because he was, after all, the principal leader of the world revolution for thirty crucial years.

I myself have seen Stalin from both sides. Deeply embedded in my consciousness and feelings was that Vision of Stalin as tyrant and butcher. This was part of my over-all view of communism as a slave system, an idea that I was taught in capitalist society. Communist society was not red but a dull-gray world. It was ruled by a secret clique of powerful men. Everybody else worked for these few and kept their mouths shut. Propaganda poured from all the media. The secret police were everywhere, tapping phones, following people on the street, making midnight raids. Anyone who spoke out would lose his job, get thrown in jail, or even get shot by the police. One of the main aims of the government was international aggression, starting wars to conquer other counties. When I began to discover that this entire vision point by point described my own society a number of questions arose in my mind.

For me, as for millions of others in the United States it was the Vietnamese who forced a change in perception. How could we fail to admire the Vietnamese people and to see Ho Chi Minh as one of the great heroes of our times? What stood out not about Ho was his vast love for the people and his dedication to serving them. (In 1965, before I became a Communist, I spoke at a rally soliciting blood for the Vietnamese victims of U.S. bombing. When I naively said that Ho was a nationalist above being a Communist and a human being above being a nationalist, I was pelted with garbage and, much to my surprise, called a “dirty Commie. But we were supposed to believe that Ho was a “tyrant and butcher.” Later, it dawned on me that Fidel Castro was also supposed to be a “tyrant and butcher” although earlier we had been portrayed as a freedom fighter against the Batista dictatorship. Still later, I began to study the Chinese revolution, and found in Mao’s theory and preaches the guide for my own thinking and action. But, again, we were Supposed to see Mao as a “tyrant and butcher” and also a “madman” the more I looked into it, the more I found that these “tyrants and butchers” – Ho, Fidel, and Mao – were all depicted servants of the people, inspired by a deep and self-sacrificing love for them. At some point, I began to wonder if perhaps even Stalin was not a “tyrant and butcher.”

With this thought came intense feelings that must resemble – what someone in a tribe experiences when violating a taboo. But if we want to understand the world we live in, we must face Stalin.

Joseph Stalin personifies a major aspect of three decades of twentieth-century history. If we seek answers to any of the crucial questions about the course of our century, at some point we find Stalin standing directly in our path. Is it possible for poor and working people to make a revolution and then wield political power? Can an undeveloped, backward nation whose people are illiterate, impoverished, diseased, starving, and lacking in all the skills and tools needed to develop their productive forces possibly achieve both material and cultural well-being? Can this be done under a condition of encirclement by hostile powers, greedy for conquest, far more advanced industrially and, militantly: and fanatical in their opposition to any people s revolutionary government? What price must be paid for the success of revolutionary development? Can national unity be achieved in a vast land inhabited by many peoples of diverse races, religions, culture, language, and levels of economic development?

Is it possible to attain international unity among the exploited and oppressed peoples of many different nations whose governments depend upon intense nationalism and the constant threat of war? Then, later, can the people of any modern highly industrialized society also have a high degree of freedom, or must the state be their enemy? Can any society flourish without some form of ruling elite?

These questions are all peculiarly modern, arising in the epoch of capitalism as it reaches its highest form, modern imperialism, and becoming critical in our own time, the era of global revolution. Each of these questions leads us inevitably to Stalin. In my opinion, it is not going too far to say that Stalin is the key figure of our era.

All the achievements and all the failures, all the strengths and all the weaknesses, of the Soviet revolution and indeed of the world revolution in the period 1922-53 are summed up in Stalin. This is not to say that he is personally responsible for all that was and was not accomplished, or that nobody else could have done what he did. We are not dealing with a “great man” theory of history. In fact, quite the opposite. If we are to understand Stalin at all, and evaluate him from the point of view of either of two major opposing classes, we must see him, like all historical figures, as a being created by his times and containing the contradictions of those times. .

Every idea of Stalin’s, as he would be the first to admit, came to him from his historical existence, which also fixed limits to the ideas available to him. He could study history in order to learn from the experience of the Paris Commune but he could not look into a crystal ball to benefit from the lessons of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. And the decisions he made also had fixed and determined limits on either side, as we shall see.

To appraise Stalin, the best way to begin is to compare the condition of the Soviet Union and the rest of the world at two times: when he came into leadership and when he died. Without such a comparison, it is impossible to measure what he may have contributed or taken away from human progress. If the condition of the Soviet people was much better when he died than when he took power, he cannot have made their lives worse. The worst that can be said is that they would have progressed more without him. The same is true for the world revolution. Was it set back during the decades of his leadership, or did it advance? Once we put the questions this way, the burden of proof falls on those who deny Stalin’s positive role as a revolutionary leader.

As World War I began, the Russian Empire consisted primarily of vast undeveloped lands inhabited by many different peoples speaking a variety of languages with a very low level of literacy, productivity, technology, and health. Feudal Social relations still prevailed throughout many of these lands. Czarist secret police, officially organized bands of military terrorists, and a vast bureaucracy were deployed to keep the hungry masses of workers and peasants in line.

The war brought these problems to a crisis. Millions went to their deaths wearing rags, with empty stomachs, often waiting for those in front of them to fall so they could have a rifle and a few rounds of ammunition. When the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, the entire vast empire, including the great cities of Russia itself, was in chaos.

Before the new government could begin to govern, it was Immediately set upon by the landlords, capitalists, and generals of the old regime, with all the forces they could buy and muster, together with combined military forces of Britain, France, Japan, and Poland, and additional military contingents from the U.S. and other capitalist countries. A vicious civil war raged for three years, from Siberia through European Russia, from the White Sea to the Ukraine. At the end of the Civil War, in 1920, agricultural output was less than half that of the prewar poverty-stricken countryside. Even worse was the situation in industry.

Many mines and factories had been destroyed. Transport had been torn up. Stocks of raw materials and semi finished products had been exhausted. The output of large-scale industry was about one seventh of what it had been before the war. And the fighting against foreign military intervention had to go on for two more years. Japanese and U.S. troops still held a portion of Siberia, including the key port city of Vladivostok, which was not recaptured until 1922.

Lenin suffered his first stroke in 1922. From this point on, Stalin, who was the General Secretary of the Central Committee, began to emerge as the principal leader of the Party. Stalin’s policies were being implemented at least as early as 1924, the year of Lenin’s death, and by 1927 the various opposing factions had been defeated and expelled from the Party. It is the period of the early and mid-1920s that we must compare to 1953.

The Soviet Union of the early 1920s was a land of deprivation. Hunger was everywhere, and actual mass famines swept across much of the countryside. Industrial production was extremely low, and the technological Level of industry was so backward that there seemed little possibility of mechanizing agriculture. Serious rebellions in the armed forces were breaking out, most notably at the Kronstadt garrison in 1921.

By 1924 large-scale peasant revolts were erupting, particularly in Georgia. There was virtually no electricity outside the large cities. Agriculture was based on the peasant holdings and medium-sized farms seized by rural capitalists (the kulaks) who forced the peasants back into wage Labor and tenant fanning. Health care was almost non-existent in much of the country. The technical knowledge and skills needed to develop modern industry, agriculture, health, and education were concentrated in the hands of a few, mostly opposed to socialism while the vast majority of the population were illiterate and could hardly think about education while barely managing to subsist. The Soviet Union was isolated in a world controlled by powerful capitalist countries physically surrounding it, setting up economic blockades, and officially refusing to recognize its existence while outdoing each other in their pledges to wipe out this Red menace.

The counterrevolution was riding high throughout Europe Great Britain, and even in the U.S.A., where the Red threat was used as an excuse to smash labor unions. Fascism was emerging in several parts of the capitalist world, particularly in Japan and in Italy, where Mussolini took dictatorial power in 1924. Most of the world consisted of colonies and neo-colonies of the European powers.

When Stalin died in 1953, the Soviet Union was the second greatest industrial, scientific, and military power in the world and showed clear signs of moving to overtake the U.S. in all these areas. This was despite the devastating losses it suffered while defeating the fascist powers of Germany, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. The various peoples of the U.S.S.R. were unified. Starvation and illiteracy were unknown throughout the country. Agriculture was completely collectivized and extremely productive. Preventive health care was the finest in the world, and medical treatment of exceptionally high quality was available free to all citizens. Education at all levels was free. More books were published in the U.S.S.R. than in any other country. There was no unemployment.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, not only had the main fascist powers of 1922-45 been defeated, but the forces of revolution were on the rise everywhere. The Chinese Communist Party had just led one-fourth of the world’s population to victory over foreign imperialism and domestic feudalism and capitalism. Half of Korea was socialist, and the U.S.-British imperialist army, having rushed to intervene in the civil war under the banner of the United Nations  was on the defensive and hopelessly demoralized. In Vietnam, strong socialist power, which had already defeated Japanese Imperialism, was administering the final blows to the beaten army of the French empire. The monarchies and fascist military dictatorships of Eastern Europe had been destroyed by a combination of partisan forces, led by local Communists, and the Soviet Army; everywhere except for Greece there were now governments that supported the world revolution and at least claimed to be governments of the workers and peasants. The largest political party in both France and Italy was the Communist Party. The national liberation movement among the European colonies and neo-colonies was surging forward. Between 1946 and 1949 alone, at least nominal national independence was achieved by Burma, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Laos, Libya, Ceylon, Jordan, and the Philippines, countries comprising about one-third of the world’s population. The entire continent of Africa was stirring.

Everybody but the Trotskyites, and even some of them would have to admit that the situation for the Communist world revolution was incomparably advanced in 1953 over what it had been in the early or mid 1920s. Of course, that does not settle the Stalin question. We still have to ask whether Stalin contributed to this tremendous advance, or slowed it down or had negligible influence on it. And we must not duck the question as to whether Stalin’s theory and practice built such serious faults into revolutionary communism that its later failures, particularly in the Soviet Union, can be pinned on him.

So let us look through Stalin’s career focusing particularly on its most controversial aspects.

“Stalin” which means “steel-man,” was the code name for a Young Georgian revolutionary born as Joseph Visvarionovich Djugashvili in 1879 in the town of Gori. His class origins combine the main forces of the Russian revolution.

His father formerly a village cobbler of peasant background, became a’ worker in a shoe factory. His mother was the daughter of peasant serfs. So Stalin was no stranger to either workers or peasants, and being from Georgia, he had firsthand knowledge of how Czarist Russia oppressed the non-Russian peoples of its empire. .

While studying at the seminary for a career as a priest, he made his first contact with the Marxist underground at the age of fifteen, and at eighteen he formally joined the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, which was to evolve into the Communist Party. Shortly after joining the party in 1898, he became convinced that Lenin was the main theoretical leader of the revolution, particularly when Lenin’s newspaper Iskra began to appear in 1900. After being thrown out of his seminary, Stalin concentrated on organizing workers in the area of Tiflis, capital of Georgia, and the Georgian industrial City of Batumi. After one of his many arrests by the Czarist secret police, he began to correspond with Lenin from exile.

Escaping from Siberian exile in 1904, Stalin returned to organizing workers in the cities of Georgia, where mass strikes were beginning to assume a decidedly political and revolutionary character. Here he began to become one of the main spokesmen for Lenin’s theory, as we see in the first two selections in this volume. In December 1904 he led a huge strike of the Baku workers, which helped precipitate the abortive Russian revolution of 1905. During the revolution and after it was suppressed, Stalin was one of the main Bolshevik underground and military organizers, and was frequently arrested by the secret police. At the Prague Conference of 1912, in which the Bolsheviks completed the split with the Mensheviks and established themselves as a separate party, Stalin was elected in absentia to the Central Committee, a position he was to maintain for over four decades. Then, on the eve of World War I, he published what may properly be considered his first major contribution to Marxist-Leninist theory, Marxism and the National Question.

Prior to World War I, the various social-democratic parties of Europe were loosely united in the Second International.

All pledged themselves to international proletarian solidarity. But when the war broke out, the theory Stalin had developed in Marxism and the National Question proved to be crucial and correct. As Stalin had foreseen, every party that had compromised with bourgeois nationalism ended up leading the workers of its nation to support their “own” bourgeois rulers by going out to kill and be killed by the workers of the other nations. Lenin, Stalin, and the other Bolsheviks took a quite different position. They put forward the slogan “Turn the imperialist war into a civil war.” Alone of all the parties of the Second International, they came out for actual armed revolution.

In February 1917 the workers, peasants and soldiers of Russia, in alliance with the liberal bourgeoisie, overthrew the czarist autocracy, which had bled the country dry and brought it to ruin in a war fought to extend the empire. The liberal bourgeoisie established a new government. The next few months led to a key moment in history. Most of the parties that claimed to be revolutionary now took the position that the Russian proletariat was too weak and backward to assume political power. They advocated that the proletariat should support the new bourgeois government and enter a long period of capitalist development until someday in the future when they could begin to think about socialism. This view even penetrated the Bolsheviks. So when Stalin was released from his prison exile in March and the Central Committee brought him back to help lead the work in St. Petersburg, he found a heavy internal struggle. He took Lenin’s position, and, being placed in charge of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda, was able to put it forward vigorously to the masses. When the Central Committee finally decided, in October, to lead the workers and soldiers of St. Petersburg to seize the Winter Palace and establish a proletarian government, it was over the violent objections of many of the aristocratic intellectuals who, much to their own surprise and discomfort had found themselves in an actual revolutionary situation. Two of them, Zinoviev and Kamenev, even went so far as to inform the bourgeois newspapers that the Bolsheviks had a secret plan to seize power. After the virtually bloodless seizure by the workers and soldiers took place, a third member of the Central Committee, Rykov, joined Zinoviev and Kamenev in a secret deal made with the bourgeois parties whereby the Bolsheviks would resign from power, the press would be returned to the bourgeoisie, and Lenin would be permanently barred from holding public office. (All this is described in John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World, which was first published in 1919. I mention this because Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Rykov were three of the central figures of the purge trials of the 1930s, and it is they who have been portrayed as stanch Bolsheviks in such works as Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon.)

During the Civil War, which followed the seizure of power, Stalin began to emerge as an important military leader.

Trotsky was nominally the head of the Red Army. Behaving, as he always did, in the primacy of technique, Trotsky took as one of his main tasks winning over the high officers of the former czarist army and turning them into the general command of the revolutionary army. The result was defeat after defeat for the Red forces, either through outright betrayal by their aristocratic officers or because these officers tried to apply military theories appropriate to a conscript or mercenary army to the leadership of a people’s army made up of workers and peasants. Stalin, on the other hand, understood the military situation from the point of view of the workers and peasants, and with a knowledge of their capabilities and limitations.

In 1919 Stalin was sent as a special plenipotentiary to the key Volga city of Tsaritsyn. His mission was simply to assure the delivery of food supplies from this entire region. What he found was a disastrous military situation, with the city not only surrounded by the White Army but heavily infiltrated by counterrevolutionary forces. He saw that the food supply could not be safeguarded unless the military and political situations were dealt with. He instituted an uncompromising purge of counterrevolutionary elements within both the officer corps and the political infrastructure, took personal command of the military forces over the heads of both the local authorities and Trotsky, and then proceeded to save the city, the region, and the food supply. Trotsky, furious, demanded his recall. As for the citizens of Tsaritsyn, their opinion became known six years later, when they renamed their city Stalingrad.

After this episode, rather than being recalled, Stalin was dispatched far and wide to every major front in the Civil War. In each and every place, he was able to win the immediate respect of the revolutionary people and to lead the way to military victory, even in the most desperate circumstances.

Certain qualities emerged more and more clearly, acknowledged by both friends and enemies. These were his enormous practicality and efficiency, his worker peasant outlook, and the unswerving way he proceeded to the heart of every problem. By the end of the war, Stalin was widely recognized as a man who knew how to run things, a quality sorely lacking among most of the aristocratic intellectuals who then saw themselves as great proletarian leaders. In April 1922 he was made General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It was in this position that Stalin was quickly to become the de facto leader of the Party and the nation.

Stalin’s career up to this point is relatively uncontroversial in comparison with everything that follows. But nothing at all about Stalin is beyond controversy. Most of his biographers in the capitalist world minimize his revolutionary activities prior to 1922. At least two influential biographies, Boris Souvarine’s Stalin (1939) and Edward Ellis Smith’s The Young Stalin (1967), even argue that during most of this period Stalin was actually an agent for the czarist secret police. Trotsky’s mammoth biography Stalin (1940) not only belittles Stalin’s revolutionary activities but actually sees his life and “moral stature” predetermined by his racially defined genetic composition; after discussing whether or not Stalin had “an admixture of Mongolian blood,” Trotsky decides that in any case he was one perfect type of the national character of southern countries such as Georgia, where, “in addition to the so-called Southern type, which is characterized by a combination of lazy shiftlessness and explosive irascibility, one meets cold natures, in whom phlegm is combined with stubbornness and slyness.” The most influential biographer of all, Trotsky’s disciple Isaac Deutscher, is a bit more subtle, blaming Stalin’s crude and vicious character not on his race but on his low social class:

The revolutionaries from the upper classes (such as Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rakovsky, Radek, Lunacharsky, and Chicherin) came into the Socialist movement with inherited cultural traditions. They brought into the milieu of the revolution some of the values and qualities of their own milieu-not only knowledge, but also refinement of thought, speech, and manners. Indeed, their Socialist rebellion was itself the product of moral sensitiveness and intellectual refinement. These were precisely the qualities that life had not been kind enough to cultivate in Djugashvili [Stalin]. On the contrary, it had heaped enough physical and moral squalor in his path to blunt his sensitiveness and his taste. (Stalin, Political Biography, p. 26)

Although there are vastly different views of Stalin’s career up to this point, his activities are relatively less controversial, because they are relatively less important. Whatever Stalin’s contribution, there is still a good chance that even without him Lenin could have led the revolution and the Red forces would have won the Civil War. But, from this point on, there are at least two widely divergent, in fact wildly contradictory, versions of Stalin’s activities and their significance. Most readers of this book have heard only one side of this debate, the side of Trotsky and the capitalist world. I shall not pretend to make a “balanced presentation,” but instead give a summary of the unfamiliar other side of the argument.

Everyone, friend and foe alike, would agree that at the heart of the question of Stalin lies the theory and practice of “socialism in one country.” All of Stalin’s major ideological opponents in one way or another took issue with this theory.

Actually, the theory did not originate with Stalin but with Lenin. In 1915, in his article “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe,” Lenin argued that “the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone.” He foresaw “a more or less prolonged and stubborn struggle” internationally that could begin like this in one country: “After expropriating the capitalists and organizing their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world-the capitalist world-attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of other countries, stirring uprisings in those countries against the capitalists, and in case of need using even armed force against the exploiting classes and their states.”

Of course, at the end of World War I most Bolsheviks (and many capitalists) expected revolution to break out in many of the European capitalist countries. In fact, many of the returning soldiers did turn their guns around. A revolutionary government was established in Hungary and Slovakia.

Germany and Bulgaria for a while were covered by soviets of workers, peasants, and soldiers. But counterrevolution swept all these away.

Trotsky and his supporters continued to believe that the proletariat of Europe was ready to make socialist revolution.

They also believed that unless this happened, the proletariat would be unable to maintain power in the Soviet Union.

They belittled the role of the peasantry as an ally of the Russian proletariat and saw very little potential in the national liberation movements of the predominantly peasant countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Their so-called “Left opposition” put forward the theory, of “permanent revolution,” which pinned its hopes on an imminent uprising of the industrial proletariat of Europe. They saw the world revolution then spreading outward from these “civilized” countries to the “backward” regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Meanwhile there also developed what was later to be called the “Right opposition,” spearheaded by Bukharin, Zinoviev, and Kamenev. They were realistic enough to recognize that the revolutionary tide was definitely ebbing in Europe, but they concluded from this that the Soviet Union would have to be content to remain for a long time a basically agricultural country without pretending to be a proletarian socialist state.

Stalin was not about to give up on socialism in the Soviet Union simply because history was not turning out exactly the way theorists had wanted, with revolution winning out quickly in the most advanced capitalist countries. He saw that the Soviet revolution had indeed been able to maintain itself against very powerful enemies at home and abroad. Besides, the Soviet Union was a vast country whose rich natural resources gave it an enormous potential for industrial and social development. He stood for building socialism in this one country and turning it into an inspiration and base area for the oppressed classes and nations throughout the world. He believed that, helped by both the example and material support of a socialist Soviet Union, the tide of revolution would eventually begin rising again, and that, in turn, proletarian revolution in Europe and national liberation struggles in the rest of the world would eventually break the Soviet isolation.

There are two parts to the concept of socialism in one country. Emphasis is usually placed only on the part that says “one country.” Equally important is the idea that only socialism, and not communism, can be achieved prior to the time when the victory of the world revolution has been won. A communist society would have no classes, no money, no scarcity, and no state that is, no army, police force, prisons, and courts. There is no such society in the world, and no society claims to be Communist. A socialist society, according to Marxism-Leninism, is the transitional form on the road to communism. Classes and class struggle still exist, all the material needs of the people have not as yet been met, and there is indeed a state, a government of the working class known as the dictatorship of the proletariat (as opposed to the government of capitalist nations, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie).

Neither Lenin nor Stalin ever had any illusion that any single country, even one as vast and potentially rich as the Soviet Union, would ever be able to establish a stateless, classless society while capitalism still had power in the rest of the world. But Stalin, like Lenin, did believe that the Soviet Union could eliminate capitalism, industrialize, extend the power of the working class, and wipe out real material privation all during the period of capitalist encirclement.

To do this, Stalin held, the proletariat would have to rely on the peasantry. He rejected Trotsky’s scorn for the Russian peasants and saw them, rather than the European proletariat, as the only ally that could come to the immediate aid of the Russian workers.

When the Civil War ended, in 1921, with most of the Soviet Union in chaotic ruin, Lenin won a struggle against Trotsky within the Party to institute what was called the New Economic Policy (NEP), under which a limited amount of private enterprise based on trade was allowed to develop in both the cities and the countryside. NEP was successful in averting an immediate total catastrophe, but by 1925 it was becoming clear that this policy was also creating problems for the development of socialism. This brings us to the first great crux of the Stalin question.

We have been led to believe that in order to industrialize at any price; Stalin pursued a ruthless policy of forced collectivization, deliberately murdering several million peasants known as kulaks during the process. The truth is quite different.

When the Bolsheviks seized power, one of their first acts was to allow the poor peasants to seize the huge landed estates. The slogan was “Land to the tiller.” This, however, left most land in the form of tiny holdings, unsuited for large-scale agriculture, particularly the production of the vital grain crops. Under NEP, capitalism and a new form of landlordism began to flourish in the countryside. The class known as kulaks (literally “tight-fists”), consisting of usurers and other small capitalists including village merchants and rich peasants, were cornering the market in the available grain, grabbing more and more small holdings of land, and, through their debt holdings, forcing peasants back into tenant farming and wage labor. Somehow, the small peasant holdings had to be consolidated so that modern agriculture could begin. There were basically two ways this could take place: either through capitalist accumulation, as the kulaks were then doing, or through the development of large-scale socialist farms. If the latter, there was then a further choice: a rapid forced collectivization, or a more gradual process in which co-operative farms would emerge first, followed by collectives, and both would be on a voluntary basis, winning out by example and persuasion. What did Stalin choose?

Here, in his own words, is the policy he advocated and that was adopted at the Fifteenth Party Congress, in 1927:

What is the way out? The way out is to turn the small and scattered peasant farms into large united farms based on cultivation of the land in common, to go over to collective cultivation of the land on the basis of a new and higher technique.

The way out is to unite the small and dwarf peasant farms gradually but surely, not by pressure, but by example and persuasion, into large farms based on common, cooperative, collective cultivation of the land with the use of agricultural machines and tractors and scientific methods of intensive agriculture.

There is no other way out.

To implement this policy, the capitalist privileges allowed under NEP were revoked. This was known as the restriction of the kulaks. The kulaks, whose very existence as a class was thus menaced, struck back. They organized terrorist bands who attacked the co-operatives and collectives, burning down barns when they were filled with grain, devastating the fields, and even murdering Communist peasant leaders.

Even more serious than these raids, the kulaks held back their own large supplies of grain from the market in an effort to create hunger and chaos in the cities. The poor and middle peasants struck back. Virtual open civil war began to rage throughout the countryside. As the collective farm movement spread rapidly, pressure mounted among the poor and middle peasants to put an end to landlordism and usury in the countryside for good. In 1929 Stalin agreed that the time had come to eliminate the kulaks as a class. He led the fight to repeal the laws that allowed the renting of land and the hiring of labor, thus depriving the kulaks both of land and of hired workers. The ban on expropriation of the large private holdings was lifted, and the peasants promptly expropriated the kulak class. The expropriation of the rural capitalists in the late 1920s was just as decisive as the expropriation of the urban capitalists a decade earlier. Landlords and village usurers were eliminated as completely as private factory owners. It is undoubtedly true that in many areas there was needless violence and suffering. But this did not originate with Stalin. It was the hour of Russia’s peasant masses, who had been degraded and brutalized for centuries and who had countless blood debts to settle with their oppressors. Stalin may have unleashed their fury, but he was not the one who had caused it to build up for centuries. In fact it was Stalin who checked the excesses generated by the enthusiasm of the collective movement. In early 1930 he published in Pravda “Dizzy with Success,” reiterating that “the voluntary principle” of the collective farm movement must under no circumstances be violated and that anybody who engages in forced collectivization objectively aids the enemies of socialism. Furthermore, he argues, the correct form for the present time is the co-operative (known as the artel) , in which “the household plots (small vegetable gardens, small orchards), the dwelling houses, a part of the dairy cattle, small livestock, poultry, etc., are not socialized.”

Again, overzealous attempts to push beyond this objectively aid the enemy. The movement must be based on the needs and desires of the masses of peasants.

Stalin’s decision about the kulaks perfectly exemplifies the limits under which he operated. He could decide, as he did, to end the kulaks as a class by allowing the poor and middle peasants’ to expropriate their land. Or he could decide to let the kulaks continue withholding their grain from the starving peasants and workers, with whatever result. He might have continued bribing the kulaks. But it is highly doubtful, to say the least, that he had the option of persuading the kulaks into becoming good socialists.

There can be no question that, whatever may be said about its cost, Stalin’s policy in the countryside resulted in a vast, modern agricultural system, capable, for the first time in history, of feeding all the peoples of the Soviet lands. Gone were the famines that seemed as inevitable and were as vicious as those of China before the revolution or of India today.

Meanwhile, Stalin’s policy of massive industrialization was going full speed ahead. His great plan for a modern, highly industrialized Soviet Union has been so overwhelmingly successful that we forget that it was adopted only over the bitter opposition of most of the Party leaders, who thought it a utopian and therefore suicidal dream. Having overcome this opposition on both the right and “left,” Stalin in 1929 instituted the first five-year plan in the history of the world.

It was quickly over fulfilled. By the early 1930s the Soviet Union had clearly become both the inspiration and the main material base area for the world revolution. And it was soon will prove much more than a match for the next military onslaught from the capitalist powers, which Stalin had predicted and armed against.

This brings us to the second great crux of the Stalin question, the “left” criticism, originating with Trotsky and then widely disseminated by the theorists of what used to be called “the New Left.” This criticism holds that Stalin was just a nationalist who sold out revolution throughout the rest of the world. The debate ranges over all the key events of twentieth-century history and can be only touched on in an essay.

Stalin’s difference with Trotsky on the peasantry was not confined to the role of the peasantry within the Soviet Union.

Trotsky saw very little potential in the national liberation movements in those parts of the world that were still basically peasant societies. He argued that revolution would come first to the advanced capitalist countries of Europe and North America and would then spread to the “uncivilized” areas of the world. Stalin, on the other hand saw that the national liberation movements of Asia, Africa, and Latin America were key to the development of the world revolution because objectively they were leading the fight against imperialism.

We see this argument developed clearly as early as 1924, In “The Foundations of Leninism,” where he argues that “the struggle that the Egyptian merchants and bourgeois intellectuals are waging for the independence of Egypt is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the bourgeois origin and bourgeois title of the leaders of the Egyptian national movement, despite the fact that they are opposed to socialism; whereas the struggle that the British ‘Labor’ movement is waging to preserve Egypt’s dependent position is for the same reasons a reactionary struggle, despite the proletarian origins and the proletarian title of the members of hat government, despite the fact that they are ‘for’ socialism. To most European Marxists, this was some kind of barbarian heresy. But Ho Chi Minh expressed the view of many Communists from the colonies in that same year, 1924, when he recognized that Stalin was the leader of the only Party that stood with the national liberation struggles and when he agreed with Stalin that the viewpoint of most other so-called Marxists on the national question was nothing short of “counterrevolutionary” (Ho Chi Minh Report on the National and Colonial Questions at the Fifth Congress of the Communist International).

The difference between Stalin’s line and Trotsky’s line and the falsification of what Stalin’s line was, can be seen most clearly on the question of the Chinese revolution. The typical “left” view prevalent today is represented in David Horowitz’s The Free World Colossus (1965), which asserts “Stalin’s continued blindness to the character and potential of the Chinese Revolution.” Using as his main source a Yugoslav biography of Tito, Horowitz blandly declares: “Even after the war, when it was clear to most observers that Chiang was finished, Stalin did not think much of the prospects of Chinese Communism” (p. Ill).

Mao’s opinion of Stalin is a little different:

Rallied around him, we constantly received advice from him, constantly drew ideological strength from his works…. It is common knowledge that Comrade Stalin ardently loved the Chinese people and considered that the forces of the Chinese revolution were immeasurable.

He displayed the greatest wisdom in matters pertaining to the Chinese revolution. . . . Sacredly preserving the memory of our great teacher Stalin, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people . . . will even more perseveringly study Stalin’s teaching …. (“A Great Friendship,” 1953)

It is possible that this statement can be viewed as a formal tribute made shortly after Stalin’s death and before it was safe to criticize Stalin within the international Communist movement. But years later, after the Russian attack on Stalin and after it was unsafe not to spit on Stalin’s memory, the Chinese still consistently maintained their position. In 1961, after listening to Khrushchev’s rabid denunciations of Stalin at the Twenty-second Party Congress, Chou En-lai ostentatiously laid a wreath on Stalin’s tomb. Khrushchev and his supporters then disinterred Stalin’s body, but the Chinese responded to this in 1963 by saying that Khrushchev “can never succeed in removing the great image of Stalin from the minds of the Soviet people and of the people throughout the world.” (“On the Question of Stalin”)

In fact, as his 1927 essay on China included in this collection shows, Stalin very early outlined the basic theory of the Chinese revolution. Trotsky attacks this theory, which he sneers at as “guerrilla adventure,” because it is not based on the cities as the revolutionary centers, because it relies on class allies of the proletariat, particularly the peasantry, and because it is primarily anti-feudal and anti-imperialist rather than focused primarily against Chinese capitalism.

After 1927, when the first liberated base areas were established in the countryside, Trotsky claimed that this revolution could no longer be seen as proletarian but as a mere peasant rebellion, and soon he began to refer to its guiding theory as the Stalin-Mao line. To this day, Trotskyites around the world deride the Chinese revolution as a mere “Stalinist bureaucracy.” The Chinese themselves do acknowledge that at certain points Stalin gave some incorrect tactical advice, but they are quick to add that he always recognized and corrected these errors and was self-critical about them. They are very firm in their belief that they could not have made their revolution without his general theory, his over-all leadership of the world revolutionary movement, and the firm rear area and base of material support he provided. Thus the only really valid major criticism comes from anti-Communists, because without Stalin, at least according to the Chinese, the Communists would not have won.

Stalin’s role in the Spanish Civil War likewise comes under fire from the “left.” Again taking their cue from Trotsky and such professional anti-Communist ideologues as George Orwell, many “socialists” claim that Stalin sold out the Loyalists. A similar criticism is made about Stalin’s policies in relation to the Greek partisans in the late 1940s, which we will discuss later. According to these “left” criticisms, Stalin didn’t “care” about either of these struggles, because of his preoccupation with internal development and “Great Russian power.” The simple fact of the matter is that in both cases Stalin was the only national leader anyplace in the world to support the popular forces, and he did this in the face of stubborn opposition within his own camp and the dangers of military attack from the leading aggressive powers in the world (Germany and Italy in the late 1930s, the U.S. ten years later).

Because the U.S.S.R., following Stalin’s policies, had become a modem industrial nation by the mid-1930s, it was able to ship to the Spanish Loyalists Soviet tanks and planes that were every bit as advanced as the Nazi models. Because the U.S.S.R. was the leader of the world revolutionary forces, Communists from many nations were able to organize the International Brigades, which went to resist Mussolini’s fascist divisions and the crack Nazi forces, such as the Condor Legion, that were invading the Spanish Republic. The capitalist powers, alarmed by this international support for the Loyalists, planned joint action to stop it. In March 1937, warships of Germany, Italy, France, and Great Britain began jointly policing the Spanish coast. Acting on a British initiative, these same countries formed a bloc in late 1937 to isolate the Soviet Union by implementing a policy they called “non-intervention,” which Lloyd George, as leader of the British Opposition, labeled a clear policy of support for the fascists. Mussolini supported the British plan and called for a’ campaign “to drive Bolshevism from Europe.” Stalin’s own foreign ministry, which was still dominated by aristocrats masquerading as proletarian revolutionaries, sided with the capitalist powers. The New York Times of October 29, 1937, describes how the “unyielding” Stalin, representing “Russian stubbornness,” refused to go along: “A struggle has been going on all this week between Joseph Stalin and Foreign Commissar Maxim Litvinoff,” who wished to accept the British plan. Stalin stuck to his guns, and the Soviet Union refused to grant Franco international status as a combatant, insisting that it had every right in the world to continue aiding the duly elected government of Spain, which it did until the bitter end.

The Spanish Civil War was just one part of the world-wide imperialist aims of the Axis powers. Japan was pushing ahead in its conquest of Asia. Japanese forces overran Manchuria in 1931; only nine years after the Red Army had driven them out of Siberia, and then invaded China on a full-scale.

Ethiopia fell to Italy in 1936. A few months later, Germany and Japan signed an anti-Comintern pact, which was joined by Italy in 1937. In 1938, Germany invaded Austria. Hitler, who had come to power on a promise to rid Germany and the world of the Red menace, was now almost prepared to launch his decisive strike against the Soviet Union.

The other major capitalist powers surveyed the scene with mixed feelings. On one hand, they would have liked nothing better than to see the Communist threat ended once and for all, particularly with the dirty work being done by the fascist nations. On the other hand, they had to recognize that fascism was then the ideology of the have-not imperialists, upstarts whose global aims included a challenge to the hegemony of France, Britain, and the United States. Should they move now to check these expansionists’ aims or should they let them develop unchecked, hoping that they would move against the Soviet Union rather than Western Europe and the European colonies in Asia and Africa?

In 1938 they found the answer, a better course than either of these two alternatives. They would appease Hitler by giving him the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. This would not only dissuade the Nazis from attacking their fellow capitalists to the west, but it would also remove the last physical barriers to the east, the mountains of the Czech Sudetenland. All logic indicated to them that they had thus gently but firmly turned the Nazis eastward, and even given them a little shove in that direction. Now all they had to do was to wait, and, after the fascist powers and the Soviet Union had devastated each other, they might even be able to pick up the pieces. So they hailed the Munich agreement of September 30, 1938, as the guarantee of “Peace in our time”-for them.

Stalin had offered to defend Czechoslovakia militarily against the Nazis if anyone of the European capitalist countries would unite with the Soviet Union in this effort. The British and the French had evaded what they considered this trap, refusing to allow the Soviet Union even to participate at Munich. They now stepped back and waited, self-satisfied, to watch the Reds destroyed. It seemed they didn’t have long to wait. Within a few months, Germany seized all of Czechoslovakia, giving some pieces of the fallen republic to its allies Poland and Hungary.

By mid-March 1939 the Nazis had occupied Bohemia and Moravia, the Hungarians had seized Carpatho-Ukraine, and Germany had formally annexed Memel. At the end of that month, Madrid fell and all of Spain surrendered to the fascists. On May 7, Germany and Italy announced a formal military and political alliance. The stage was set for the destruction of the Soviet Union.

Four days later, on May 11, 1939, the first attack came.

The crack Japanese army that had invaded Manchuria struck Into the Soviet Union. The Soviet-Japanese war of 1939 is conveniently omitted from our history books, but this war, together with the Anglo-French collaboration with the Nazis and fascists in the west, form the context for another of Stalin’s great “crimes,” the Soviet-German non-aggression pact of August 1939. Stalin recognized that the main aim of the Axis was to destroy the Soviet Union, and that the other capitalist nations were conniving with this scheme. He also knew that sooner or later the main Axis attack would come on the U.S.S.R.’s western front. Meanwhile, Soviet forces were being diverted to the east, to fend off the Japanese invaders. The non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, which horrified and disillusioned Communist sympathizers, particularly intellectuals, in the capitalist nations, was actually one of the most brilliant strategic moves of Stalin’s life, and perhaps of diplomatic  history. From the Soviet point of view it accomplished five things:

(1) it brought needed time to prepare for the Nazi attack, which was thus delayed two years;


(2) it allowed the Red Army to concentrate on smashing the Japanese invasion, without having to fight on two fronts; they decisively defeated the Japanese within three months;


(3) it allowed the Soviet Union to retake the sections of White Russia and the Ukraine that had been invaded by Poland during the Russian Civil War and were presently occupied by the Polish military dictatorship; this meant that the forthcoming Nazi invasion would have to pass through a much larger area defended by the Red Army;


(4) it also allowed Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which also had been part of Russia before the Civil War, to become part of the U.S.S.R. as Soviet Republics; this meant that the forthcoming Nazi attack could not immediately outflank Leningrad;


(5) most important of all, it destroyed the Anglo-French strategy of encouraging a war between the Axis powers and the Soviet Union while they enjoyed neutrality; World War II was to begin as a war between the Axis powers and the other capitalist nations, and the Soviet Union, if forced into it, was not going to have to fight alone against the combined fascist powers. The worldwide defeat of the fascist Axis was in part a product of Stalin’s diplomatic strategy, as well as his later military strategy.

But before we get to that, we have to go back in time to the events for which Stalin has been most damned-the purge, trials. Most readers of this book have been taught that the major defendants in these trials were innocent, and that here we see most clearly Stalin’s vicious cruelty and paranoia.

This is certainly not the place to sift through all the evidence and retry the major defendants, but we must recognize that there is a directly contradictory view of the trials and that there is plenty of evidence to support that view.

It is almost undeniable that many of the best-known defendants had indeed organized clandestine groups whose aim was to overthrow the existing government. It is also a fact that Kirov, one of the leaders of that government, was murdered by a secret group on December 1, 1934. And it is almost beyond dispute that there were systematic, very widespread, and partly successful attempts, involving party officials, to sabotage the development of Soviet industry. Anyone who doubts this should read an article entitled “Red Wreckers in Russia” in the Saturday Evening Post, January 1, 1938, in which John Littlepage, an anti-Communist American engineer, describes in detail what he saw of this sabotage while he was working in the Soviet Union. In fact, Littlepage gives this judgment:

For ten years I have worked alongside some of the many recently shot, imprisoned or exiled in Russia as wreckers. Some of my friends have asked me whether or not I believe these men and women are guilty as charged. I have not hesitated a moment in replying that I believe most of them are guilty.

To those who hold the orthodox U.S. view of the purge trials, perhaps the most startling account is the book Mission to Moscow, by Joseph E. Davies, U. S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1938. Davies is a vigorous defender of capitalism and a former head of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. An experienced trial lawyer, he points out that, “I had myself prosecuted and defended men charged with crime in many cases.” He personally attended the purge trials on a regular basis. Most of his accounts and judgments are contained in official secret correspondence to the State Department; the sole purpose of these dispatches was to provide realistic an assessment as possible of what was actually going on. His summary judgment in his confidential report to the Secretary of State on March 17, 1938, is:

….. it is my opinion so far as the political defendants are concerned sufficient crimes under Soviet law, among those charged in the indictment, were established by the proof and beyond a reasonable doubt to justify the verdict of guilty of treason and the adjudication of the punishment provided by Soviet criminal statutes. The opinion of those diplomats who attended the trial most regularly was general that the case had established the fact that there was a formidable political opposition and an exceedingly serious plot, which explained to the diplomats man! of the hitherto unexplained developments of the last six months in the Soviet Union. The only difference of opinion that seemed to exist was the degree to which the plot had been implemented by different defendants and the degree to which the conspiracy had become centralized. (po 272 )

Davies himself admits to being puzzled and confused at the time because of the vast scope of the conspiracy and its concentration high into the Soviet government. It is only later, after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, in the summer of 1941, that Davies feels he understands what he actually occurred.

Thinking over these things, there came a flash in my mind of a possible new significance to some of the things that happened in Russia when I was there.

None of us in Russia in 1937 and 1938 were thinking in terms of “Fifth Column” activities. The phrase was not current. It is comparatively recent that we have found in our language phrases descriptive of Nazi technique such as “Fifth Column” and “internal aggression.”…

As I ruminated over this situation, I suddenly saw the picture as I should have seen it at the time. The story had been told in the so-called treason or purge trials of 1937 and 1938 which I had attended and listened to. In reexamining the record of these cases and also what I had written at the time from this new angle, I found that practically every device of German Fifth Columnist activity, as we now know it, was disclosed and laid bare by the confessions and testimony elicited at these trials of self-confessed “Quislings” in Russia.

It was clear that the Soviet government believed that these activities existed, was thoroughly alarmed, and had proceeded to crush them vigorously. By 1941, when the German invasion came, they had wiped out any Fifth Column which had been organized.

All of these trials, purges, and liquidations, which seemed so violent at the time and shocked the world, are now quite clearly a part of a vigorous and determined effort of the Stalin government to protect itself from not only revolution from within but from attack from without. They went to work thoroughly to clean up and clean out all treasonable elements within the country. All doubts were resolved in favor of the government. (p. 280)

In 1956, at the Twentieth Party Congress, when Khrushchev launched his famous attack on Stalin, he dredged up all the denunciations of the purge trials circulated for two decades by the Trotskyite and capitalist press. He called Stalin a “murderer,” a “criminal,” a “bandit,” a “despot,” etc.

He asserted the innocence of many who had been imprisoned, exiled, or shot during the purge trials. But in doing so, he conveniently forgot two things: what he had said at the time about those trials, and what Stalin had said. On June 6, 1937, to the Fifth Party Conference of Moscow Province, Khrushchev had declared:

Our Party will mercilessly crush the band of traitors and betrayers, and wipe out all the Trotskyist-Right dregs. . . .We shall totally annihilate the enemies-to the last man and scatter their ashes to the winds.

On June 8, 1938, at the Fourth Party Conference of Kiev province, Khrushchev avowed:

We have annihilated a considerable number of enemies, but still not all. Therefore, it is necessary to keep our eyes open. We should bear firmly in mind the words of Comrade Stalin, that as long as capitalist encirclement exists, spies and saboteurs will be smuggled into our country.

Earlier, at a mass rally in Moscow, in January 1937, Khrushchev had condemned all those who had attacked Stalin in these words: “In lifting their hand against Comrade Stalin, They lifted it against all of us, against the working class and the working people”

As for Stalin himself, on the other hand, he had publicly admitted, not in 1956, but at least as early as 1939, that innocent people had been convicted and punished in the purge:

It cannot be said that the purge was not accompanied by grave mistakes. There were unfortunately more mistakes than might have been expected.” (Report to the Eighteenth Congress.)

That is one reason why many of those tried and convicted in the last trials were high officials from the secret police, the very people guilty of forcing false confessions.

There are certainly good grounds for criticizing both the conduct and the extent of the purge. But that criticism must begin by facing the facts that an anti-Soviet conspiracy did exist within the Party, that it had some ties with the Nazis, who were indeed preparing to invade the country, and that one result of the purge was that the ‘Soviet Union was the only country in all of Europe that, when invaded by the Nazis, did not have an active Fifth Column. It must also recognize that capitalism has since been restored in the Soviet Union, on the initiative of leading members of the Party bureaucracy, and so it is hardly fantastical or merely paranoid to think that such a thing was possible. The key question about the purges is whether there was a better way to prevent either a Nazi victory or the restoration of capitalism. And the answer to that question probably lies in the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1966-67. Instead of relying on courts and police exiles and executions, the Chinese mobilized hundreds of ‘millions of people to exposé and defeat the emerging Party bureaucracy that was quietly restoring capitalism and actively collaborating with the great imperialist power to the north. But while doing this, they carefully studied Stalin, both for his achievements and for what he was unable to do. For Stalin himself had seen as early as 1928 the need to mobilize mass criticism from below to overcome the rapidly developing Soviet bureaucracy. It is also possible that the two goals the purges tuned to meet were mutually exclusive. That is, the emergency measures necessary to secure the country against foreign invasion may actually have helped the bureaucracy to consolidate its power.

In any event, when the Nazis and their allies did invade they met the most united and fierce resistance encountered by the fascist forces anyplace in the world. Everywhere the people were dedicated to socialism. Even in the Ukraine where the Nazis tried to foment old grievances and anti-Russian nationalism, they never dared meddle with the collective farms. In fact, Stalin’s military strategy in World War II like his strategy during the Russian Civil War was based firmly on the loyalty of the masses of workers, peasants, and soldiers.

Everybody, except for Khrushchev and his friends, who in 1956 tried to paint Stalin as a military incompetent and meddler, recognizes him as a great strategist. ‘

Nazi military strategy was based on the blitzkrieg (lightning war). Spearheaded by highly mobile armor, their way paved by massive air assaults, the Nazi army would break through any static line at a single point, and then spread out rapidly behind that line, cutting off its supplies and then encircling the troops at the front. On April 9, 1940, the Nazis, vastly outnumbered, opened their assault on the combined forces of Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Great Britain. By June 4, virtually the last of these fighting forces had been evacuated in panic from Dunkirk and each of the continental countries lay under a fascist power, the victim of blitzkrieg combined with internal betrayal. Having secured his entire western front, and then with air power alone having put the great maritime power Britain into a purely defensive position, Hitler could now move his crack armies and his entire air force into position to annihilate the Soviet Union.

The first step was to consolidate Axis control in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania were already fascist allies. Italy had overrun Albania. By early April 1941 Greece and Yugoslavia were occupied. Crete was seized in May. On June 22, the greatest invasion of all time was hurled at the Soviet heartland.

One hundred seventy-nine German divisions, twenty-two Romanian divisions, fourteen Finnish divisions, thirteen Hungarian divisions, ten Italian divisions, one Slovak division, and one Spanish division, a total of well over three million troops, the best armed and most experienced in the world, attacked along a 2,000-mile front, aiming their spearheads directly at Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad. Instead of holding a line, the Red Army beat an orderly retreat, giving up space for time. Behind them they left nothing but scorched earth and bands of guerrilla fighters, constantly harassing the lengthening fascist supply lines. Before the invaders reached industrial centers such as Kharkov and Smolensk, the workers of these cities disassembled their machines and carried them beyond the Ural Mountains, where production of advanced Soviet tanks, planes, and artillery was to continue throughout the war.

The main blow was aimed directly at the capital, Moscow, whose outskirts were reached by late fall. Almost all the government offices had been evacuated to the east. But Stalin remained in the capital, where he assumed personal command of the war. On December 2, 1941, the Nazis were stopped in the suburbs of Moscow. On December 6, Stalin ordered the first major counterattack to occur in World War II. The following day, Japan, which had wisely decided against renewing their invasion of the Soviet Union, attacked Pearl Harbor.

From December until May the Red Army moved forward, using a strategy devised by Stalin. Instead of confronting the elite Nazi corps head on, the Red forces would divide into smaller units and then move to cut off the fascist supply lines, thus encircling and capturing the spearheads of the blitzkrieg.

This was the ideal counterstrategy, but it depended on a high level of political loyalty, consciousness, and independence on the part of these small units. No capitalist army could implement this strategy. By the end of May 1942 Moscow was safe and the fascist forces had given ground in the Ukraine.

In the early summer, the Nazi forces, heavily reinforced, moved to seize Stalingrad and the Caucasus, thus cutting the Soviet Union in two. The greatest and perhaps the most decisive battle in history was now to take place. The siege of Stalingrad lasted from August 1942 until February 1943. As early as September, the Nazi forces, which were almost as large as the entire U.S. force at its peak in Vietnam, penetrated the city and were stopped only by house-to-house fighting.

But unknown to the Germans, because Soviet security was perfect, they were actually in a vast trap, personally designed by Stalin: A gigantic pincers movement had begun as soon as the fascist forces reached the city. In late November the two Soviet forces met and the trap snapped shut. From this trap 330,000 elite Nazi troops were never to emerge. In February 1943 the remnants, about 100,000 troops, surrendered.

The back of Nazi military power had been broken. The Red Army now moved onto a vast offensive which was not to stop before it had liberated all of Eastern and Central Europe and seized Berlin, the capital of the Nazi empire, in the spring of 1945.

It was the Soviet Union that had beaten the fascist army. The second front, which Great Britain and the U.S. had promised as early as 1942, was not to materialize until June 14, after it was clear that the Nazis had already been decisively defeated. In fact, the Anglo-American invasion was aimed more at stopping communism than defeating fascism. (This invasion took place during the same period that the British Army “liberated” Greece, which had already been liberated by the Communist-led Resistance.) For under Communist leadership, underground resistance movements, based primarily on the working class, had developed throughout Europe. Because the Communists, both from the Soviet Union and within the other European nations, were the leaders of the entire anti-fascist struggle, by the end of the war they had by far the largest parties in all the nations of Eastern and Central Europe, as well as Italy and France, where the fascists’ power had been broken more by internal resistance than by the much-heralded Allied invasion. In fact, it is likely that if the Anglo-American forces had not invaded and occupied Italy and France, within a relatively short time the Communists would have been in power in both countries.

As soon as victory in Germany was assured, in May 1945, much of the Soviet Army began to make the 5,000-mile journey to face the Japanese Army. At Potsdam, July 17 to August 2, Stalin formally agreed to begin combat operations against Japan by August 8. On August 6, the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan, in what is now widely considered the opening shot of the so-called “Cold War” against the U.S.S.R. On August 8, the Red Army engaged the main Japanese force, which was occupying Manchuria. The Soviet Army swept forward, capturing Manchuria, the southern half of Sakhalin Island, and the Kuriles, and liberating, by agreement, the northern half of Korea. Except for the Chinese Communist battles with the Japanese, these Soviet victories were probably the largest land engagements in the entire war against Japan.

The Soviet Union had also suffered tremendously while taking the brunt of the fascist onslaught. Between twenty and twenty-five million Soviet citizens gave their lives in defense of their country and socialism. The industrial heartland lay in ruins. The richest agricultural regions had been devastated.

In addition to the seizure of many cities and the destruction of much of Moscow and Stalingrad, there was the desperate condition of Leningrad, which had withstood a massive, two-year Nazi siege.

Once again, the Soviet Union was to perform economic miracles. Between 1945 and 1950 they were to rebuild not only everything destroyed in the war, but vast new industries and agricultural resources. And all this was conducted under the threat of a new attack by the capitalist powers, led by the nuclear blackmail of the U.S., which opened up a worldwide “Cold War” against communism.

Spearheaded by British and rearmed Japanese troops, the French restored their empire in Indochina. U.S. troops occupied the southern half of Korea and established military bases throughout the Pacific. Europe itself became a vast base area for the rapidly expanding U.S. empire, which, despite its very minimal role in the war (or perhaps because of it), was to gain the greatest profit from it. One European showdown against the popular forces occurred in Greece.

Here we meet another “left” criticism of Stalin, similar to that made about his role in Spain but even further removed from the facts of the matter. As in the rest of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the Communists had led and armed the heroic Greek underground and partisan fighters. In 1944 the British sent an expeditionary force commanded by General Scobie to land in Greece, ostensibly to aid in the disarming of the defeated Nazi and Italian troops. As unsuspecting as the comrades in Vietnam and Korea who were to be likewise ‘assisted’, the Greek partisans were slaughtered by their British allies who used tanks and planes in an all-out offensive, which ended in February 1945 with the establishment of a right-wing dictatorship under a restored monarchy. The British even rearmed and used the defeated Nazi “Security Battalions.” After partially recovering from this treachery, the partisan forces rebuilt then guerrilla apparatus and prepared to resist the combined forces of Greek fascism and Anglo-American imperialism. By late 1948 full-scale civil war raged, with the right-wing forces backed up by the intervention of U.S. planes, artillery, and troops. The Greek resistance had its back broken by another betrayal not at all by Stalin but by Tito, who closed the Yugoslav borders to the Soviet military supplies that were already hard put to reach the landlocked popular forces. This was one of the two main reasons why Stalin, together with the Chinese, led the successful fight to have the Yugoslav “Communist” Party officially thrown out of the international Communist movement.

Stalin understood very early the danger to the world revolution posed by Tito’s ideology, which served as a Trojan horse for U.S. Imperialism. He also saw that Tito’s revisionist ideas, including the development of a new bureaucratic ruling elite, were making serious headway inside the Soviet Union. In 1950, the miraculous postwar reconstruction was virtually complete, and the victorious Chinese revolution had decisively broken through the global anti-Communist encirclement and suppression campaign. At this point Stalin began to turn his attention to the most serious threat to the world revolution, the bureaucratic-technocratic class that had not only emerged inside the Soviet Union but had begun to pose a serious challenge to the leadership of the working class. In the last few years of his life, Joseph Stalin, whom the present rulers of the U.S.S.R. would like to paint as a mad recluse, began to open up a vigorous cultural offensive against the power of this new elite. “Marxism and Linguistics” and “Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.” are milestones in this offensive, major theoretical works aimed at the new bourgeois authorities beginning to dominate various areas of Soviet thought.

In “Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.,” published a few months before his death and intended to serve as a basis for discussion in the Nineteenth Party Congress of 1952, Stalin seeks to measure scientifically how far the Soviet Union had come in the development of socialism and how far it had to go to achieve communism. He criticizes two extreme tendencies in Soviet political economy: mechanical determinism and voluntarism. He sets this criticism within an international context where, he explains, the sharpening of contradictions among the capitalist nations is inevitable.

Stalin points out that those who think that objective laws, whether of socialist or capitalist political economy, can be abolished by will are dreamers. But he reserves his real scorn for those who make the opposite error, the technocrats who assert that socialism is merely a mechanical achievement of a certain level of technology and productivity, forgetting both the needs and the power of the people. He shows that when these technocrats cause “the disappearance of man as the aim of socialist production,” they arrive at the triumph of bourgeois ideology. These proved to be prophetic words.

In his final public speech, made to that Nineteenth Party Congress in 1952, Stalin explains a correct revolutionary line for the parties that have not yet led their revolutions. The victories of the world revolution have constricted the capitalist world, causing the decay of the imperialist powers. Therefore the bourgeoisie of the Western democracies inherit the banners of the defeated fascist powers, with whom they establish a world-wide alliance while turning to fascism at home and the would-be bourgeoisie of the neocolonial nations become merely their puppets. Communists then become the main defenders of the freedoms and progressive principles established by the bourgeoisie when they were a revolutionary class and defended by them until the era of their decay. Communists will lead the majority of people in their respective nations only when they raise and defend the very banners thrown overboard by the bourgeoisie-national independence and democratic freedoms. It is no Surprise that these final words of Stalin have been known only to the Cold War “experts” and have been expunged throughout the Soviet Union and the nations of Eastern Europe.

A few months after this speech, Stalin died. Very abruptly, the tide of revolution was temporarily reversed. Stalin’s death came in early March 1953. By that July, the new leaders of the Soviet Union forced the Korean people to accept a division of their nation and a permanent occupation of the southern half by US forces. A year later, they forced the victorious Viet Minh liberation army, which had thoroughly defeated the French despite massive U.S. aid, to withdraw from the entire southern half of that country, while the U.S. proclaimed that its faithful puppet, Ngo Dinh Diem, was now president of the fictitious nation of South Vietnam. When the Chinese resisted their global sellouts of the revolution, these new Soviet leaders first tried to destroy the Chinese economy, then tried to overthrow the government from within and when that failed, actually began aimed incursions by Russian troops under a policy of nuclear blackmail copied from the U.S. In Indonesia, the Soviet Union poured ammunition and spare parts into the right-wing military forces while they were massacring half a million Communists, workers, and peasants.

And so on, around the world. Meanwhile, internally, they restored capitalism as rapidly as they could. By the mid-1960s, unemployment had appeared in the Soviet Union for the first time since the first Five Year Plan. By the end of the 1960s, deals had been made with German, Italian, and Japanese capitalism for the exploitation of Soviet labor and vast Soviet resources.

From an anti-Communist point of view, Stalin was certainly one of the great villains of history. While he lived, the Red forces consolidated their power in one country and then led what seemed to be an irresistible world-wide revolutionary upsurge. By the time he died, near hysteria reigned in the citadels of capitalism. In Washington, frenzied witch hunts tried to ferret out the Red menace that was supposedly about to seize control of the last great bastion of capitalism. All this changed, for the time being, after Stalin’s death, when the counterrevolutionary forces were able to seize control even within the Soviet Union.

From a Communist point of view, Stalin was certainly one of the greatest of revolutionary leaders. But still we must ask why it was that the Soviet Union could fall so quickly to a new capitalist class. For Communists, it is as vital to understand Stalin’s weaknesses and errors as it is to understand his historic achievements.

Stalin’s main theoretical and practical error lay in underestimating the bourgeois forces within the superstructure of Soviet society. It is ridiculous to pose the problem the way we customarily hear it posed: that the seeds of capitalist restoration were sown under Stalin. This assumes that the Soviet garden was a Communist paradise, totally free of weeds, which then somehow dropped in from the skies. Socialism, as Stalin saw more keenly than anybody before, is merely a transitional stage on the way to communism. It begins with the conquest of political power by the working class, but that is only a bare beginning. Next comes the much more difficult task of establishing socialist economic forms, including a high level of productivity based on collective labor. Most difficult of all is the cultural revolution, in which socialist ideas and attitudes, based on collective labor and the political power of the working people, overthrow the bourgeois world view, based on competition, ambition, and the quest for personal profit and power and portraying “human nature” as corrupt, vicious, and selfish, that is, as the mirror image of bourgeois man.

Stalin succeeded brilliantly in carrying through the political and economic revolutions. That he failed in consolidating the Cultural Revolution under the existing internal and external conditions can hardly be blamed entirely on him. He certainly saw the need for it, particularly when the time seemed most ripe to make it a primary goal, in the 1950s. But it must be admitted that he underestimated the threat posed by the new intelligentsia, as we see most strikingly in the “Report to the Eighteenth Party Congress,” where he unstintingly praises them and denies that they could constitute a new social class.

This error in theory led to an error in practice in which, despite his earlier calls for organizing mass criticism from below, he tended to rely on one section of the bureaucracy to check or defeat another. He was unwilling to unleash a real mass movement like the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and, as a result, the masses were made increasingly less capable of carrying out such a gigantic task. All this is easy to say in hindsight, now that we have the advantage of having witnessed the Chinese success, which may prove to be the most important single event in human history. But who would have had the audacity to recommend such a course in the face of the Nazi threat of the late 1930s or the U.S. threat after World War II, when the Soviet Union lay in ruins? In 1967, when the Chinese Cultural Revolution was at its height and the country was apparently in chaos, many revolutionaries around the world were dismayed. Certainly, they acknowledged, China had to have a cultural revolution. But not at that moment, when the Vietnamese absolutely needed that firm rear base area and when U.S. imperialism was apparently looking for any opening to smash China. And so it must have looked to Stalin, who postponed the Soviet Cultural Revolution until it was too late.

It is true that socialism in the Soviet Union has been reversed. But Stalin must be held primarily responsible not for its failure to achieve communism but rather for its getting as far along the road as it did. It went much further than the “left” and the right Opposition, the capitalists, and almost everybody in the world thought possible. It went far enough to pass the baton to a fresher runner, the workers and peasants of China, who, studying and emulating Stalin, have already gone even further, as we are beginning to see.

Interview with Agim Xheka

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SECRETARY OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE PARTY OF THE UNITED COMMUNISTS OF ALBANIA

(This interview was requested by an independent newspaper but was not published)

Q: At a press conference a few days ago the Party of the United Communists of Albania declared that it would take part in the national elections. Does this mean alone or in alliance with the Communist Party?

A: When we said that we would take part in the elections, we were speaking for our party. We were nor referring to alliances. But we see the Communist Party in the framework of the aim of our congress, that of unity, that of creating a single communist organisation. The achievement of this aim will make us stronger and assist the people to evaluate us correctly.

Q: Do you think that this unity will be realised before the elections?

A. We are doing everything we can in this direction, but I cannot give you a precise reply at present. Inasmuch as our programmes are built on the same foundation, on the ideals of 8 November 1941, on the teachings of Marxism-Leninism and of Enver Hoxha, I can see no reason why unity should not be achieved.

I blame the delay in reaching full agreement on this question mainly on the fact that the communists have been working under conditions of illegality. But I cannot deny that disruptive activity on the part of saboteurs who have penetrated the movement are also a factor. Nevertheless, in today’s conditions, nothing can stop the drive to unity.

Albania is at present leaderless. The great powers are seeking to play with the destinies of the people, whose interests should be paramount. In this they are aided and abetted by today’s pseudo-politicians of the new bourgeoisie. Unless the communists are able to bring about this unity, the people will continue to be exploited by forces inside and outside the frontiers.

Q: Let us imagine for a moment that unity has been realised . . .

A: We communists do not dwell in the world of imagination. But we are convinced that the unity of the communists will be realised, and indeed very soon. Those who work to sabotage this unity know its strength and fear that one day they will be called to account before the people for the harm they have done to Albania and its national wealth.

Q: Are you convinced that, if this unity is achieved, the people will support you in the national elections?

A: Absolutely YES.

Q: You say YES with emphasis. On what do you base this belief?

A: I do not want to go into philosophy, but we bow to the criterion of truth which, as you know, is practice. What has practice shown in the history of mankind? Who overthrew the slave system: the slaveowners or the slaves? Or again, was the October Socialist Revolution made by the oppressors or by the oppressed? Let us come to our own history, to 1944. Who overthrew the feudal-bourgeois rulers and their backers, the occupiers of the country? It was the working people, led by the communists. But who were the communists? Were they representatives of the people or of the oppressors of the people?

The communists have been and are in uninterrupted struggle against the classes who oppress the people. Consequently, they are today in struggle against the bourgeoisie and the parties who support it. Whom should the people believe, the oppressors or the communists?

Q: Are the communists really defenders of the interests of the people?

A; Let me repeat: absolutely YES. This is an undeniable truth. And the people have learned this truth by their own bitter experience of the last ten years. And they have also learned that in the propaganda of the reactionaries, white is portayed as black and black as white.

Q: What is the principal lesson they have learned?

A: They will tell you themselves. They have learned that capitalism has its basis in the exploitation of man by man. They have learned that bourgeois politicians lie and cheat, that they are bandits and criminals.

Q: So the lesson you draw from these last ten years . . . ?

A: We communists did not need ten years to draw the lessons. The year 1991 was enough.

Q: How do you mean?

A: I will attempt to explain in a few words the mistakes that we ourselves made. This is the principal lesson.

Q: So you accept that you made mistakes? ,

A: Oh, certainly. But our mistakes were not of the kind portrayed by bourgeois propaganda. Our mistakes had nothing to do with communist ideals, with Marxist-Leninist ideology, or with the teachings of Enver Hoxha. On the contrary, our mistakes are all concerned with the failure to adhere to these teachings. The principal mistake which we and the people made was loss of vigilance, and it is a mistake for which we have paid very dearly. To concretise this, may I first ask how old you are?

Q: Twenty-five.

A. May you live to be a hundred! Let us look at a little history, because you are in the age-group which for the last ten years has received no proper education. It is necessary to be clear that we communists are not ‘ogres’, as you were taught at school, as we are portrayed by today’s authorities. We are honourable people. We are patriots. We are the first to make sacrifices and the last to make unfounded claims. We communists did not found the Communist Party in order to place it at the service of fascism We did not build power-stations to make profits for foreign companies, but to bring light to the people. We did not build fortifications to defend ourselves against imaginary enemies, but to protect the people against the fate which has befallen our Kosovar brothers. Finally, I ask you, did we communists fulfil the promises we made? Compare our promises with those made today. To repair a bridge today it takes several months to do what the communists would have done in a night. Such are the communist ‘ogres’, and the proofs are countless and indisputable.

Q: You spoke of ‘loss of vigilance’ and ‘mistakes’?

A: Yes, yes. The loss of vigilance occurred at the highest level, in the ranks of the Party of Labour (PLA) The ‘ogres’ entered the Party, or became ‘ogres’ inside it. Thus, after the death of Enver, the leadership of the party fell into the hands of cunning traitors like Ramiz Alia and Sali Berisha, who pretended to be ‘more Catholic than the Pope’. And these mistakes created the conditions which enabled internal and external reaction to realise their long-held aims of restoring capitalism.

Now the Party has cleansed itself of these traitors, and the people has learned where loss of vigilance leads. The people now know, and you will very quickly learn, who are the real communists, to be trusted.

Q: I hope that you succeed in bringing about unity, I wish you success in the elections, and I thank you.

A: Thank you.

Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey (TDKP): On the hidden inter-imperialist war and the imperialist plan for Yugoslavia

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Article originally printed in 1999

The Nato operation on Yugoslavia has in fact proved once again to be a concealed and indirect inter-imperialist war. It seems that all imperialists were united behind this operation which was claimed to be for humanitarian reasons. However, different plans set for the solution of the problem continue to show the conflicts between Russia, European Union and the US.

In this process, old conflicts between the EU and the US have emerged with new appearances. Especially after the disintegration of the USSR, Germany, planning to be more influential in Central Asia and the Caucasus and to get its share from the oil and natural gas resources, tried to control the conflict in the Balkans to open the path for its own interests. This led to a confrontation with the US which has similar objectives in mind. While the US has won the support of Britain, Germany received the occasional support of Italy, Austria and France, in accordance with the changing balance of power. While the US tried to use Nato as an instrument for achieving its plans, the EU tried to keep Nato under its control via the UN. Faced with this complicated and changing combination of allies Russia supported Yugoslavia in order to strengthen its influence in the Balkans, and to create the ground for an alliance against Nato. Based on the fact that this problem was not a regional one but a problem related to imperialist plans on the Caucasus, the Middle East and Central Asia, Russia’s aim was to stop the attack at its beginning and to spoil the US and EU plans on Yugoslavia.

Obviously, the US and Britain, its closest ally, are more concerned about the new status of Kosova vis-a-vis Yugoslavia, than the sufferings of the Kosovar people.

A divided Kosova with a lose connection with Albania is the most desired result for the US. In terms of the “post-war status-quo”, the KLA will be the most suitable base for the US, playing the role as a military and political power tied to the US. This puppet organisation, which is as racist and nationalist as Serbian aggressors, is a suitable instrument for provoking new conflicts and wars in the region.

The US is planning to create a strong base in Albania and Montenegro to control the Adriatic with Kosova in the east and Macedonia in the south.

In terms of this “ultimate goal”, the “solution” of the problem in Kosova will actually be the beginning of new problems. Because it is very likely that, after Kosova, the US will spread its expansionist policies towards Montenegro, resulting in internal problems there to break its weak link with Serbia. However, attempts in this direction will obviously encounter the resistance of Europe and especially Greece. That is why the European powers were opposing the US, and stressing the idea of restricting the Nato operation and stopping it as soon as the minimum objectives were achieved.

The aims of the Nato operation had different meanings for its members, and there was no agreement on how it should be conducted. For example, Germany and France suggested that the operation should be conducted under the auspices of the UN, and it should aim to stop the Serbian attack and to secure the return of the Kosovar people to their homeland. They wanted civilian observation groups of the UN in the region, not the Nato military forces. This policy is obviously in line with France’s old plan to diminish Nato’s role of “world gendarme”. France is trying to put Nato under the control of the UN, while the US and Britain want to give Nato a more active role. This conflict of ideas appeared once again in late April at the Washington Summit where Chirac’s definition of the UN Security Council as the authority to give official permission to Nato operations taking place outside the territories of its member states was immediately opposed by Solana, the Nato General Secretary.

Another important outcome of the Summit was that it showed that the US plans were not restricted with Kosova and Yugoslavia. In the meetings with the leaders of Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Slovenia and Romania, Clinton discussed the “restructuring of the region”, and an agreement was reached. When this new plan, agreed at least as a concept, is joined together with the status that is planned for Kosova-Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro, an effective pressure will be put on Greece in the north of the peninsula. For this reason, Greece, is trying to take measures to counter this possible pressure by trying to form alliances against the Middle East policies of the US, and signing nonaggression treaties with Syria, Armenia and Iran.

The post-war plans, on the other hand, remind us the imperialist “aid” packages, classic examples of which were the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine implemented after the Second Imperialist War. Obviously, it is one of imperialism’s oldest methods to destroy and control the war-experiencing countries with wide scale economic, political and military programmes in order to make these countries more dependent. It seems that the EU is trying to take measures in order not to let the US get the biggest share in this area. Without doubt, Yugoslavia will be included in this “aid package” as the country suffering most from the destruction of the war. However, this will be with the condition of a change of the regime in this country, which will be used as another means of pressure and which will lead to a new conflict in determining which imperialist power will be the most influential on Yugoslavia.

These two consequences, in fact, contain a lot of contradicting elements, and show that in the forthcoming period the contradictions between the US and the EU will emerge in new forms, not only in the Adriatic region but also in the Balkans and the Middle East, including Turkey and Greece. This means that the Balkans will continue to be a region of new conflicts and wars, meaning more oppression and massacres for peoples.

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Biography of Bill Bland

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Biography

Bland, William “Bill” (1916-2001)

Bill Bland was born in the North of England, into a middle class home. He spent his politically formative years in the army of New Zealand, where he was active in the Communist Party as an educator. He returned to Britain in the post-war years as an ophthalmic optician. In the 1950’s Bland witnessed the Communist Party of Great Britain embracing the “Peaceful Road to Socialism”, and Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin. Bland believed these “revisionist” stances were incorrect and anti-Marxist-Leninist.

Bland therefore became a member of several anti-revisionist formations in Britain. He soon joined forces with Mike Baker in the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain (MLOB). Shortly thereafter, the ‘Cultural Revolution’ occured in China, and prompted by a barrage of questions, Bland undertook a systematic study of Mao. He found that he could not agree with Mao’s theory of the ‘New Democratic State’; and penned within months, the first refutation of Mao from the point of view of a pro-Stalin supporter. At that time, the MLOB rapidly dwindled in size as many members retained affection of Mao. This was to be the first of Bland’s many un-popular analyses in the pro-Stalin wing of the Communist movement.

Bland spent the rest of his life trying to answer the question: “How had revisionism become ascendant?”

Bland came to the conclusion that Stalin had been in a minority position in the Politburo, surrounded by hidden revisionists too clever to openly attack Marxism-Leninism; further, they had straight-jacketed Stalin by means of erecting the “Cult of Personality,” which was then used as a weapon against him. Bland felt that Yezhov had subverted the secret services, who had been replaced at Stalin’s behest by Beria. Bland pointed for example, to the release of many thousands of wrongly imprisoned Bolsheviks. Bland then argued that by the 18th Party Congress Stalin had been excluded from the highest echelons of the party decision making apparatus, and had counter-attacked with his pamphlet “Economic Problems of the USSR.”

Stalin’s essay was a seminal attack on Nikolai Vosnosensky, who was linked to Khrushchev. Cosequently argued Bland, the later economic changes re-establishing capitalism in the USSR had been fought to a standstill by Stalin. Bland therefore argued a special significance for Stalin’s last work. As Bland saw it, once Stalin was dead, the capitalist “reforms” of Vosnosensky were enacted by Khrushchev and his successors. He formulated these views in articles that culminated in the book ‘Restoration of Capitalism in the USSR’, published in 1981.

Following his analysis of Maoism as ‘left revisionism’, Bland began to question his own long-standing support for the then pro-Chinese Party of Labour of Albania, but concluded that the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania remained socialist. Before the 20th party Congress of the CPSU, Bland had founded the Albanian Society of Britain, at the invitation of the PSRA. Despite now being officially ostracized by Albania, Bland continued his work running the Albanian Society, and organizing an enormous education on this isolated solitary socialist country. In those years, he became an acknowledged authority on all things Albanian. He published an English-Albanian dictionary and he fielded any manner of queries upon arcane features of Albanian life, history, music, foods, geography, customs and mores etc.

While China was supported by the Albanian party, some of the Maoist parties had run an explicit party front Albania Society, resisting Bland’s call for one single, united front Albania Society, regardless of ‘narrow’ party affiliation. Following Hoxha’s open attack on Mao, some of these Societies split and some died. Their remaining members were correctly advised by the foreign Liaison committee of the PSRA, to join with Bland’s organisation to form one United Front of support for the PSRA. But they launched attempts to remove Bland’s leadership, charging that an emphasis on all aspects of life – such as music etc – was “anti-Marxist-Leninist,” and “insufficiently political,” and that Bland should be removed. The membership rejected this attempt to remove Bland. The Society continued till the revisionist take-over of the PSRA by Ramiz Alia, at which point Bland resigned from the Albania Society.

It was primarily differences over Bland’s analysis of Albania as Socialist that precipitated the split in the MLOB in 1975, following which, the Communist League came into existence. The Communist League from its inception always supported the Peoples Socialist Republic of Albania as a solitary socialist state. Those that stayed with the MLOB, including Mike Baker and his supporters, rejected that position.

One specific aspect of modern revisionism, to which Bland paid close attention, was the subversion of the second stage of socialist revolution, into a static national democratic deviations. For Bland, this represented a distortion from the Marxist-Leninist theory of the nation. Into these categories, Bland placed the pseudo-‘socialist’ revolutions of China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Tanzania. He argued that all of these had ignored Lenin’s injunction not to build a ‘Chinese Wall’ between the first (national democratic) stage of revolution and the second (socialist) stage. Bland also argued that other, phenomena such as the “Black Nation” in the USA, “Black Racism” and “Scottish, Welsh and Cornish Nationalism”, in Britain, represented national deviations away from socialist revolution.

These views led him to challenge fundamental Stalinist premises: If the Soviet Union had been permeated by a class war involving the highest echelons of the Party, was the Comintern any different?

Bland puzzled over several related matters: Why had the Comintern performed so many about-turns on key questions such as the nature of the United Front? Was Stalin really ‘in control’ of the Comintern? Why had the Peoples Front governments been supported beyond any credible point by European communist parties, especially in France, in assisting a fascist take-over? And why did the ultra-left rejections of a united front of the late 1920’s swing suddenly into ultra-right distortions of a correct United Front policy? Etc.

Bland argued that the first ultra-left deviations in the Comintern, in the period from about 1924 to 1928 had allowed fascism to take power in Germany. In the same period, under the cover of this ultra-leftism, Manuilsky and Kussinen had destroyed the Indian revolution by sabotaging Stalin’s line of the Workers and Peasants parties. Bland thought that the second right deviations, from about 1930 onwards had prevented the masses of Europe taking power under Communist Party direction.

Bland now further argued that Stalin had not been in a leadership position in the Comintern since around 1924; as follows: Initially Zinoviev had exercised the leadership, and thereafter Bukharin. When both were exposed as “revisionists” they were purged from further influencing the Comintern. Both were later shot. Thereafter Dimitrov, Otto Kuusinen, and Dimitri Manuilskii exercised the Comintern leadership. Bland argued they had perverted a correct implementation of Marxism-Leninism. Dimitrov had been sprung from the German Fascist prisons thanks to a rather dubious, and surprising “leniency” of the German fascists. “Why?”, asked Bland, replying that a pact had been struck; as shown when Dimitrov went on to subvert United Front tactics into the right deviation of supporting “Popular Front” governments beyond Marxist-Leninist principles of the correct United Front tactics.

It was for these reasons, argued Bland, that the Comintern was dissolved by Stalin. Stalin then created the Cominform under a completely different leadership, led by his most trusted lieutenants such as Zhdanov. It must be remembered, said Bland, that it was the Cominform that had exposed the Western Communist parties plans for implementing right deviationist policies, and the Titoites for allying with the USA. During this latter historic confrontation Stalin overtly supported Albania and Hoxha against Tito.

Apart from his theoretical works, Bland wrote a number of plays, directed two films, and created a ballet. A life-long intense love of the arts – especially cinema and the theatre – led him to re-affirm the principles of Socialist Realist Art. He wrote widely on theatre and film, and on the history of theatre.

In Britain he led the Communist League to urge the principled unity of all Marxist-Leninist forces, hence Bland’s role in the early stages of the National Committee for A Marxist-Leninist Unity (NCMLU). Bland also formed the Stalin Soicety in the UK. But the pro-China factions within the Stalin Society that ensured Bland’s later expulsion. He was a key figure in the formation of the International Struggle Marxist-Leninist, and is cited as a major influence by Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America).

Written by Hari Kumar, 2005

Source

Book Review: “Trotskyism or Leninism?” by Harpal Brar

trotskyismorleninism

BOOK REVIEW

“TROTSKYISM OR LENINISM?” by Harpal Brar, London, 1993

INTRODUCTION

“Lenin’s methods lead to this: the party organisation first substitutes itself for the party as a whole; then the Central Committee substitutes itself for the organisation; and finally a single ‘dictator’ substitutes himself for the Central Committee……

“This evil-minded and morally repugnant suspicion of Lenin, this shallow caricature of the tragic intolerance of Jacobinism, … must be liquidated at the present time at all costs, otherwise the party is threatened by complete political, moral and theoretical decay’.

(L.D. Trotsky: ‘Nos Tâches Politiques’; Paris; 1970; p192)

“Trotsky behaves like a despicable careerist and factionalist….He pays lip service to the Party and behaves worse than any other of the factionalists”.

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Grigory Zinoviev, in: ‘collected Works’, volume 34; Moscow; 1966; p399-400)

Despite these and many similar quotations, a central feature of Trotskyite historiography is that during Lenin’s leadership of the Russian Communist Party, Trotsky’s relations with Lenin were those of ‘mutual confidence’, and that Trotsky’s conflict with the Party only began following Stalin’s accession to the Party leadership.

This issue of Compass is devoted to a review of a new book which clearly shows that the theory and practice of Trotskyism stand, and have always stood, irreconcilably opposed to the precepts of Leninism.

The author opens by correctly stating that for many years (and not without a little help from the imperialist bourgeoisie), Trotskyites have successfully promoted the fallacious view that Trotskyism and Leninism are synonymous, and that only the cunning machinations of the ‘despot’ Stalin prevented Trotsky from assuming his rightful place as a worthy successor to Lenin and the true inheritor of Leninism.

The aim of this book is to expose this re-writing of history and to lay bare the truly reactionary and counter-revolutionary essence of the petty-bourgeois ideology of Trotskyism, notwithstanding its sheep’s clothing of pseudo-Marxist and pseudo-leftist phraseology. The author is to be congratulated on comprehensively and persuasively fulfilling these aims, setting the historical record straight, and providing an invaluable text for those wishing knowledge of the true nature of Trotskyism.

He quotes Stalin’s remark that:

“….systematic reiteration and patient explanation of the so-called ‘generally-known’ truths is one of the best methods of educating…. comrades in Marxism.”

(Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR; Foreign Languages Press, Peking 1972; p.9)

Harpal Brar can be assured that he has succeeded in his desire to set out those ‘generally known’ (and many less generally known) truths about Trotskyism. This, however, is too modest an assessment of the worth of this book, which focuses on those essential features of Trotskyism bringing it into sharp contradiction with Leninism. These include the theory of permanent revolution, distrust of Leninism in matters of organisation, and its discrediting and defaming of the leaders of Bolshevism.

Separate sections deal with Lenin’s theory of revolution compared with the theory of ‘permanent revolution’; socialism in one country; the Moscow trials; the Chinese revolution; the Spanish civil war; collectivisation; and class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Helpful referenced quotations are included throughout, as is a useful bibliography.

A great deal of the text is based upon a series of pamphlets first published in the early 1970’s. Although the preface provides a good updating of the material, it is, perhaps, a pity that some of the chapters seem rooted firmly in the past, since as the author points out, many of the persons and organisations originally the target of these polemics are no longer readily identifiable. This is a very minor criticism, not least because in the face of continuous recycling of the old myths by today’s Trotskyites the author’s arguments still hold true.

The terrorist nature of Trotskyism in the Soviet Union, and its subsequent rout culminating in the Moscow Trials, is dealt with in chilling detail. The author highlights the fact that Trotskyism was only able to make something of a comeback due to the need of the Soviet revisionists to discredit the gains of socialist construction in the years before the 20th Party Congress, at the same time discrediting Stalin, the man under whose leadership these gains had been achieved.

By way of contrast, an example is given of a quote from Mao Tse-tung on the occasion of Stalin’s 60th birthday (1939):

“Stalin is the leader of the world revolution. This is of paramount importance. It is a great event that mankind is blessed with Stalin. Since we have him, things can go well. As you all know, Marx is dead and so are Engels and Lenin. Had there been no Stalin, who would there be to give directions? But having him – this is really a blessing. Now there exists in the world a Soviet Union, a Communist Party and also a Stalin. Thus the affairs of the world can go well” (p79)

There is, however, more than a hint of hyperbole in this declaration which, in its effusiveness, is redolent of the ‘praise’ lavished on Stalin by Khrushchev. It should be remembered that the ‘cult of the individual’ was built up around Stalin and against his wishes in order to disguise the fact that the Party and the Communist International were at times dominated by concealed revisionists, and, at a later date was used as a pretext for attacking Stalin under the guise of carrying out a programme of ‘democratisation’.

Is it any wonder that in September 1956, seventeen years later, in his opening address to the 8th Congress of the Communist Party of China we find Mao Tse-tung referring in glowing terms to the infamous 20th Congress of the communist Party of the soviet Union which had been held in February of that year:

‘At its 20th Congress held not long ago, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union formulated many correct policies and criticised shortcomings which were found in the Party. It can be confidently asserted that very great developments will follow this in its work”.

(Mao Tse-tung: Opening Address, in: ‘Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China”, Volume 1; Peking; 1956)

Furthermore, on the basis of discussions at enlarged meetings of the Political Bureau of the central Committee of the Communist Party of China, two widely publicised articles were published in “Renmin Ribao” (People’s Daily) which put forward the modern revisionist viewpoint on the 20th Congress:

“The 20th Congress of the Soviet Union.. .took a series of momentous decisions… on the criticisms of shortcomings within the Party…

The Congress very sharply exposed the prevalence of the cult of the individual which, for a long time in Soviet life, had given rise to many errors in work and had led to ill consequences.. The Communist Party of the soviet Union.. made appalling mistakes, and, what is more, it was Stalin himself, that widely renowned and honoured leader, who made them! …

“Stalin took more and more pleasure in the cult of the individual, and violated the Party’s system of democratic centralism and the principle of combining collective leadership with individual responsibility. As a result, he made some serious mistakes such as the following: he broadened the scope of the suppression of the counterrevolution; he lacked the necessary vigilance on the eve of the anti-fascist war; he failed to pay proper attention to the further development of agriculture and the material welfare of the peasantry; he gave certain wrong advice on the international communist movement, and, in particular, made a wrong decision on the question of Yugoslavia. on these issues, Stalin fell victim to subjectivism and one-sidedness, and divorced himself from objective reality and from the masses.”

(“On the Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the proletariat”. Peking, 1956; p3,4,9-10)

Bent, as always, on sowing confusion, the Trotskyites have consistently characterised these same revisionists (whether ‘right’ Soviet or ‘left’ Chinese), dedicated to the overthrow of Marxism-Leninism, as ‘Stalinists’. It is hardly surprising that other aspects of their political analysis fails to convince, an example being the interpretation of Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost offered by Gerry Healy of the Socialist Labour League as:

“the political revolution for restoring Bolshevik world revolutionary perspectives”!

(‘Trotskyism or Leninism?’ Harpal Brar, London 1993)

Of course the Trotskyites were not completely wrong in discerning a progressive and popular element in the mass movements which have taken place in Eastern Europe. They were incorrect to characterise these as ‘anti-Stalin’ since revisionism had already led to the dismantling of socialism and the reintroduction of capitalist economies in these countries.

In Poland, for example, following the imposition as party leader of Wladyslaw Gomulka by the Kruschevites in 1956, the communist party became dominated by revisionists. With every step taken by the revisionist leaders of the Eastern European countries to restore capitalism, the law of antagonism between workers and management, between exploiters and exploited, operated with ever increasing intensity. Continuing claims about the ‘socialist’ nature of these states were no more than demagogic propaganda to hold back the rising tide of class struggle.

As if commenting on a self-evident error, Harpal Brar states that:

“… all the Trotskyites everywhere supported the counterrevolutionary … Solidarnosc in Poland”. (p57)

However, Solidarnosc called for the formation of independent self-administering trade unions outside and in opposition to the existing trade unions in Poland, together with the right to strike, freedom of speech and the press.

Commenting on the development of Solidarnosc, the Party of Labour of Albania correctly characterised Poland as a revisionist country in which the essentials of capitalism had been restored, and described the official trade unions as

“….transmission belts, of the policy of the revisionist party”. (‘Only the revolutionary road can take the Polish working class to victory’, in; Zeri i Popullit”, September 7th, 1980)

Under these circumstances, (even though the leaders of Solidarnosc may well have been in league with the CIA), the demands of solidarnosc oh behalf of its millions of members such as the right to strike, could hardly be considered reactionary. In fact, as far as Marxist-Leninists within Poland were concerned, the struggle to raise revolutionary consciousness of the workers could surely best be carried out in organisations not dominated by the revisionist-fascist state, and once a degree of freedom of speech for the workers could be achieved.

It is also difficult to join with the author in lamenting developments in Romania:

“.. in regard to the counter revolutionary movement in Timisoara, which resulted in the overthrow and foul murder of Ceaucescu and his wife. “(p55)

for, as Enver Hoxha pointed out:

“Regardless of what the Romanian leaders claimed, the dictatorship of the proletariat was not operating in Romania and the Romanian Worker’s Party was not in a strong position. They declared that they were in power, but it was very evident that, in fact, the bourgeoisie was in power. It had industry, agriculture and trade in its hands and continued to fleece the Romanian people and to live in luxurious villas and palaces.”

(Enver Hoxha, “The Khrushchevites. Memoirs”, Tirana 1989; p156-7)

CONCLUSIONS

Trotsky’s attacks on the Soviet Union became increasingly rabid up until his death in August 1940. His assassination and an earlier assault on his house in Nay that year, have formed the basis for the final great myth of Trotskyism.

It is now known that the raid on Trotsky’s house in May was stage managed, no doubt to raise Trotsky’s status as a persecuted exile. The investigating authorities, however, were satisfied that:

“… the raid could not have been carried out without the co-operation of someone in Trotsky’s entourage”.

(Isaac Deutscher: ‘The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky: 1929-1940’; Oxford; 1989; p491)

The Mexican authorities preferred to drop proceedings against the perpetrators of the May raid on Trotsky’s house rather than risk the exposure in court of the fact that the ‘assault’ had been a spurious one organised by, or in collusion with, Trotsky. This can be explained as a consequence of Mexico’s dependence on United states imperialism, and the certainty that Trotsky, a leading disrupter of the international communist movement, was by this time an agent of US imperialism, a fact uncovered by the American historian Professor William Chase, of Pittsburgh University:

“I can tell you we have concrete information that Leon Trotsky too (as well as Diego Rivera – Ed.) was an informant of the US government”.

(‘Independent’, 25 November 1993; p24)

Despite such evidence, and that the assassin was a Spanish anarchist who had no links to the Soviet government, supporters of Trotsky insist on continuing to present him as a victim of Stalin’s spleen! If Trotskyism were not such an important asset to the imperialist bourgeoisie, this, and the many other myths concerning Trotsky should be laid firmly to rest by Harpal Brar’s excellent book.

There is much that can be learned from this volume which should be read by all interested in history and politics, and all who wish to understand the true counter-revolutionary nature of Trotskyism.

Compass is published by:

THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE

The aim of the Communist League is to establish in Britain a Marxist-Leninist Party of the working class free of all revisionist trends.

‘Trotskyism or Leninism?'(ISBN 1-875613-02-8) is available from E. J. Rule, 14 Featherstone Road, Southall, Middx 0B2 BAA; price £10.00.

Comments on Meles Zenawi’s Death

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 26JAN12 – Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia speaks during the session ‘Africa — From Transition to Transformationy’ at the Annual Meeting 2012 of the World Economic Forum at the congress centre in Davos, Switzerland, January 26, 2012.

8 May 1955 – 20 August 2012

U.S. Neocolonial Ruler Dies; Question arise about alleged communist “Marxist-Leninist” past

Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi is dead. Wiki defines him as “one of Africa’s strongmen, he was also an ally of the United States’ War on Terror.”

A little-known fact about the pro-Western neocolonial dictator is that he once claimed to be Marxist-Leninist. Although his ruling coalition is the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which is mainly made up of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, a guerrilla group fighting the Ethiopian Civil War, a group of which Meles was also a member, Meles Zenawi was also one of the founders and leaders of the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray, which was apparently pro-Albania.

Wiki says,

“He graduated from the General Wingate High school in Addis Ababa, then studied medicine at Addis Ababa University (at the time known as Haile Selassie University) for two years before interrupting his studies in 1975 to join the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Aregawi Berhe, a former member of the TPLF, notes that in their histories of the TPLF both John young and Jenny Hammond “vaguely indicate” that Meles was one of the founders of the TPLF. Aregawi insists that both he and Sibhat Nega joined the Front “months” after it was founded. While a member of the TPLF, Zenawi founded the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray. His first name at birth was “Legesse” (thus Legesse Zenawi, Ge’ez: ለገሰ ዜናዊ legesse zēnāwī). However, he eventually became better known by his nom de guerre Meles, which he later adopted in honour of university student and fellow Tigray Meles Tekle who was executed by Mengistu’s government in 1975.”

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

About the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray (MLLT), Wiki says,

“The Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray (MLLT) was a semi-clandestine Hoxhaist Communist party that held a leading role in the Tigrayan Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) in the 1980s. The majority of the TPLF leadership held dual membership in the MLLT, including the current Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi.

[….]

Posing as orthodox defenders of Marxism-Leninism and allying itself with the communist current associated with the hard-line Enver Hoxha regime in Albania, the MLLT saw its goals as spreading Marxism-Leninism throughout the world and “engaging in a bitter struggle against all brands of revisionism,” which they defined using the parlance of the Albanian ruling Communist Party of Labor, as including “Khrushchevism, Titoism, Trotskyism, Euro-Communism and Maoism.”

Zenawi fought against the Soviet-backed Derg military regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia. His group eventually overthrew him. But Ethiopia is far from socialist. Ethiopia is ruled by capitalists and big landowners, and Zenawi became a Western ally, supporting the War on Terror and helping to send U.S. troops into Somalia.

What explains this change of character from an apparent Marxist-Leninist to a Western ally and puppet?

Here’s one explanation:

“After the defeat at Shire, the Derg abandoned all of Tigray to the rebels, and the EPRDF’s expanding guerrilla alliance started the military and political manoeuvres that would end in the takeover of Addis Ababa two years later. The Soviet bloc was close to casting Mengistu adrift. No belated acts of liberalization would save him. For his part Meles Zenawi, barely known outside Tigray, began introducing himself to a wider world.

An early encounter with the western press led to an observation that has dogged him ever since. He told an interviewer at the end of 1989 that the Soviet Union and other eastern bloc countries had never been truly socialist and added, ‘The neatest any country comes to being socialist as far as we are concerned is Albania.’ As Meles set off in 1990 on his first venture to the United States, his aspiration to the mantle of Enver Hoxha and to run Ethiopia on Albanian lines did not inspire much confidence.

In Washington he met the veteran Ethiopia-watcher Paul Henze. Henze was as impressed by Meles as many foreigners have been in the years since, and he made detailed notes after two long conversations. Meles had to deal first with the Albanian connection. ‘I have never been to Albania,’ Meles told Henze. ‘We do not have any Albanian contacts. We are not trying to imitate in Tigray anything the Albanians have done.’

Meles was equally keen to reject the Marxist tag. ‘We are not a Marxist-Leninist movement,’ he said. ‘We do have Marxists in our movement. I acknowledge that. I myself was a convinced Marxist when I was a student at [Addis Ababa University] in the early 1970s, and our movement was inspired by Marxism. But we learned that Marxism was not a good formula for resistance to the Derg and our fight for the future of Ethiopia.’

As the EPRDF moved out of the countryside to take over the towns and the cities, it emerged into a post-communist world, and a rapid political make-over was needed. ‘When we entered Addis Ababa, the whole Marxist-Leninist structure was being disgraced,’ said General Tsadkan. ‘We had to rationalize in terms of the existing political order . . . capitalism had become the order of the day. If we continued with our socialist ideas, we could only continue to breed poverty.'”

(Peter Gill. Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid. New York: Oxford University Press. 2010. pp. 74-75.)

The sides of the Ethiopian Civil War were very opportunist. In the book “Talk of the Devil,” a series of interviews of former leaders by Riccardo Orizio, Mengistu admitted that he would have been either pro-U.S., pro-Chinese, or pro-Soviet; whoever gave more aid.

Video: May Day in Socialist Albania

Leader of Albanian Communist Party Hysni Milloshi Passes Away

Hysni Milloshi
1946-2012

Tirana, 25 April, NOA – In the hours of early morning, died at the age of 66 years old, the chairman of the Communist Party of Albania, Hysni Milloshi.

It reportes that Milloshi died in hospital of Sanatorium, after suffering from pulmonary fibrosis disease.

Milloshi was born in Berat, on 8 November, 1946.

In year 1991, he was the founder and first secretary of the Communist Party of Albania, following the Labour Party of Albania.

During the communist regime, Milloshi was a member of the [Party of Labor of Albania –E.S.].

Source

For Enver Hoxha There is No Death

(ADDRESS DELIVERED BY ETHEM HALILI AT THE GRAVE OF ENVER HOXHA ON THE 15th ANNIVERSARY OF HIS DEATH, 11 APRIL 2000)

Like the people as a whole, the Communists remember Comrade Enver Hoxha with deep respect and honour. It is fifteen years since the day when the heart of the greatest figure who has emerged from the Albanian nation in its entire history ceased to beat, from the day when Enver Hoxha was physically separated from the Party which he created and led for almost half a century, from the people who loved him and which he served unsparingly.

Leaders like Enver Hoxha come rarely. They are thrown up by great epochs and have as their mission the revolutionary transformation of the world. Such was Enver, whose influence was so powerful that the time in which he lived and worked may justly be called the epoch of Enver.

Enver Hoxha was a great statesman, a distinguished diplomat, an able soldier, a brilliant political analyst and organiser — qualities which made him a far-sighted, even visionary, leader.

With the deep Marxist-Leninist thought of Enver Hoxha are indissolubly linked victory in the Anti-Fascist War of National Liberation and the position of Albania on the side of the victorious United Nations. This opened the way to the period of socialist construction, to the creation of a many-sided industry and a modern agriculture which not only met the needs of the country but produced a growing surplus for export. This opened the way to the construction of a secure defence system and the development of an educational system which transformed the country from one with 90% illiteracy into one with a university and an Academy of Sciences.

Enver Hoxha was the distinguished founder and leader of the Party of Labour of Albania (PLA), which he directed with wisdom for fifty consecutive years. He was the commander of the Army of National Liberation and of our People’s Army, a tireless defender of the country’s freedom and independence. With Enver Hoxha at the head of the Party, Albania was truly an independent, sovereign country whose voice was heard in the international arena, a country which no one dared to attempt to bully and which indisputably enjoyed the respect of oppressed people and revolutionaries all over the world.

The greatness of the figure of Enver Hoxha stands out all the more when we look at what the country has suffered since his death, with the return of reaction and the restoration of capitalism. Everything the people had constructed with effort and sacrifice over fifty years under the leadership the PLA and Enver Hoxha was totally destroyed from the foundations, the country and the people faced mass unemployment, as a result of which Albanians were forced into emigration or into employment to work as the servants of others. Crime, corruption, prostitution and other evils associated with capitalist society spread. Albania lost not only its good name but also its sovereignty. For ten years a whole team of propagandists inspired and directed by the international bourgeoisie has poured out insults and demagogy with the aim of distorting the truth, denying the work of Enver Hoxha and striving to blacken his figure.

But this was in vain. The people understand very well what has happened, and long for the return of the time of Enver. The more time passes, the higher his figure towers on the horizon, the brighter the rays of his teachings shine.

By communists and by honest people Enver Hoxha has always been loved and respected. He has left to us a very precious inheritance — the theory and practice we need to guide us in the great and difficult battles which lie ahead.

His teachings call for the unity of communists into a single party, for the broadening of the links of the communists with the people, for the strengthening and tempering of that unity. Only in this way can we put ourselves in a position to fulfil these tasks successfully, to realise the historic mission to which we have dedicated ourselves.

As we commemorate today the figure of Enver Hoxha, his work and his name, we bow with deep respect and at the same time pledge ourselves to work with revolutionary dedication and without sparing ourselves, to keep alive communist ideals, to be guided at all times and at every step by the compass of the teachings of Enver, to work to realise his last wish that Albania should always march forward red, like the hearts of the communists and partisans.

Eternal glory to the immortal work and name of Enver Hoxha!

“Mao Tsetung Has Died” by Enver Hoxha

THURSDAY
SEPTEMBER 9, 1976

Today the death of Comrade Mao Tsetung was reported. His death saddens and worries us, especially in this disturbed situation. It is a great loss for China.

In my opinion, Mao Tsetung was a revolutionary, a personality of importance, not only for China but on an international level.

Mao Tsetung led the Communist Party and the great Chinese people to the major victory of the liberation of China from enslavement by occupiers and from the reactionary clique of the Kuomintang. This was an achievement of great historic importance, both for the Chinese people and for the socialist camp and the peoples who fought and are fighting for liberation.

Under the leadership of Mao, the construction of socialism began in China. (At least, this was our belief up till recently, when we are seeing that this «construction» has gone with zigzags.) In our opinion, matters have already reached the point when the question must be asked: Which will triumph in China, socialism or capitalism? Therefore the death of Comrade Mao Tsetung gives rise to great concern amongst us about the future of the Chinese people and the course China will follow after his death. Of course, we can make no pronouncements on this at present, time will make this clear to us. May we be proven wrong, but the result of this line, which the Chinese revisionists call «Mao Tsetung thought» and which has nothing in common with Marxism-Leninism, will spell nothing good for China.

Mao Tsetung, as a thinker and philosopher, as a revolutionary democrat leader of the Chinese people, is an historical personality, but history and Marxist-Leninist analysis of the situation in China will explain that while he was a philosopher with a broad culture, he was not a Marxist-Leninist. He was profoundly influenced by the old Chinese philosophy of Confucius, etc., and as the eclectic he was, he brought Marxism-Leninism into his work only in the form of mutilated principles and ideas.

It was precisely his philosophical eclecticism which made Mao what one may call a moderator for the different currents which have existed continuously in China, which he permitted, encouraged and put in allegedly dialectical «collision». However, the activity of a moderator might influence for good or for evil, but in any case such a thing could operate only so long as Mao himself was alive. Now he is dead. Will China remain red, and this red be turned into a true, fiery, revolutionary, Marxist-Leninist red?

This is what we desire and hope for with all our heart and soul, with all our communist sincerity, because this is for the good of China, the revolution, socialism and communism. We Albanian communists will remember Mao Tsetung with respect for his good aspects, for those positive ideas and his long revolutionary activity, but in regard to those political, ideological and organizational views and stands which we consider to have been mistaken and non-Marxist, we have not sat and will not sit idle without pointing them out and criticizing them. Leninism teaches us that we must always be correct and objective and not subjective or sentimental.

Regardless of our disagreement with many of his judgements, the death of Comrade Mao Tsetung saddens us also, because he always showed himself to be a friend and admirer of our socialist country and the Party of Labour of Albania and, as the communists and internationalists we are, we must not ignore this. We can say that Mao Tsetung was the main and decisive person in the Chinese leadership who assisted the People’s Republic of Albania with economic and military credits and he accorded this aid in an internationalist spirit. In the same spirit, our Party assisted China, stood beside it and defended Mao in both good and difficult times, especially against the attacks of the Khrushchevite revisionists, as well as during the Great Cultural Revolution.

Immediately we heard about his death, we decided to send a Party and Government delegation with Comrade Mehmet at the head, but in the statement which the Chinese leadership released we read that foreign delegations would not be welcome to take part in the ceremonies organized on this occasion.

Naturally, we took measures to send messages of condolence and see that wreaths were laid in Peking, to organize visits and send messages of condolence to the Chinese embassy in Tirana from the leadership of the Party, the state, the mass organizations, the educational, cultural and scientific institutions, as well as delegations from the working collectives of Tirana and a number of industrial enterprises and agricultural cooperatives of other districts.

Ho Chi Minh shown as sympathetic to the Albanian-Chinese line in Khrushchev’s Memoirs

“I remember when the conference of Communist and Workers’ Parties in Moscow was being held in [November] 1960 […] The Chinese spoke out against us. Enver Hoxha conducted himself especially rabidly as an agent of Mao.

[….]

Ho came over to me then and said: “Comrade Khrushchev, you ought to concede the point to them.”
I said: “How can we concede? Why, it’s a matter of principle!”
Ho said: “Comrade Khrushchev, China is a huge country, they have a huge Communist Party. The concession should be made to them. A split cannot be permitted. It’s necessary that the Chinese sign the document together with everyone else. This document will have great international significance.”

[….]

I felt very bitter later when the Chinese decided to make an open break with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the other fraternal parties. China has powerful influence in Vietnam. A large stratum of the population there is Chinese. Pro-Chinese people even hold key positions in the leadership of the Vietnamese Communist Party. They have carried on their work against the Soviet Union and against our policies […] The pro-Chinese elements in Vietnam had done everything they could to start a quarrel, to turn Vietnam away from the Soviet Union, and set our two parties fighting against each other.

After Beijing broke off all political and business relations with us, de facto, and did everything in its power against us, it began trying to impose its views on Vietnam. Unfortunately the Vietnamese Workers Party took the Chinese bait. This is very bitter for us […] Later on, Vietnam did everything to favor China against us, against its own interests.

[….]

Our relations [with the Vietnamese] were good, and if they grew worse later, the blame for that lies not with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In my opinion, it was the result of Mao’s influence.

[….]

If ho’s alleged testament [read at his funeral] is analyzed […] I think the document was drawn up in a pro-Chinese spirit.”

Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev: Statesman, 1953-1964, p. 501-506

Confessions of a fake Marxist

Pieter Boevé, a.k.a. Comrade "Chris Petersen"

As leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands, Pieter Boevé was fêted by the world’s communist dictators for 40 years. What they didn’t know was that he was an undercover agent. Finally unmasked, he tells all to Stephen Castle There was one catch: the leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands wasn’t really a communist at all. Stephen Castle reports

Enver Hoxha, gesturing, meets Pieter Boeve, right, in Tirana, Albania.

Once Pieter Boevé called the masses to the barricades. Today, he waggles his walking stick at his local train station in the Netherlands. As the founder of a political party for the elderly, he is calling for an escalator to be installed. There’s no stopping some people. For Mr Boevé spent much of the Cold War preaching the word of Mao and Marx in the West. He was fêted in Beijing, toasted in Moscow and met the leaders of the Communist world.

Once Pieter Boevé called the masses to the barricades. Today, he waggles his walking stick at his local train station in the Netherlands. As the founder of a political party for the elderly, he is calling for an escalator to be installed. There’s no stopping some people. For Mr Boevé spent much of the Cold War preaching the word of Mao and Marx in the West. He was fêted in Beijing, toasted in Moscow and met the leaders of the Communist world.

Yet now, Mr Boevé peruses a menu at a café in the Dutch seaside town of Zandvoort. He muses over a Chinese option – “Chicken Beijing Lunch” – and rejects it. And then he confirms a secret that fooled the Communist world for generations. He was no lover of the red flag. He was, in fact, a spy all along.

Through the years of the Cultural Revolution and Nixon’s visit to China, he made regular trips behind the bamboo curtain. The then Mr Petersen skilfully navigated his way through the ideological lurches of his Communist hosts and visited places off limits to almost everyone else in the West as the leader

of the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands (MLPN). Mr Boevé’s incredible story has made him something of a celebrity in this town of 17,000, where he is greeted in the supermarket as the “James Bond of Zandvoort”.

Over 35 years Mr Boevé met Nikita Kruschev in Moscow, Enver Hoxha in Tirana, and shook hands with Chairman Mao. But the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands he led was a sham, staffed mainly by Dutch agents.

The revelation of his extraordinary life has left left-wing activists across Europe wondering whether their comrades through the 1970s and 1980s were all they seemed to be. As a 25-year-old student and part time mathematics teacher, Mr Boevé was always an unlikely recruit to the cause of Communism. True, he was a political campaigner but his allegiance was to the Dutch liberal party, the forerunner of today’s centre-right VVD, which was instinctively capitalist in outlook.

As an increasingly confident Soviet Union sought to project its image in the West, the authorities in Moscow began preparations for a youth festival to be held in the country’s capital in 1955. Bizarrely, a request for candidates to go to Moscow for the token price of 150 guilders was sent to the Dutch liberals among other political parties. A friend in the party who worked for the Dutch secret service (BVD) approached Mr Boevé and asked if he would be willing to go to Moscow and report back to the service. Yes, said Mr Boevé, not knowing that he was embarking on a 35-year adventure of deceit and double-dealing that would give him access to some of the most senior figures of Communist Cold-War politics.

Even now, 50 years on, sipping a cola next to the fire in the Café Neuf in Zandvoort, Mr Boevé seems a little vague about why he opted for such a life. He was, he insists, never paid by the BVD though it later provided a car big enough to transport reams of Communist propaganda, and stepped in to make up his salary when he took time off between jobs to attend a lengthy indoctrination course in Beijing.

He says he retained a strong aversion to the Communist system and believes he helped, in some small way, to win the Cold War. But Mr Boevé’s main motivation may have been the intoxicating excitement of leading such an exotic double life. At one point in our conversation he turns to me and says: “Wouldn’t you have liked the chance to do something like that?” Multilingual and, by his own admission a good actor, Mr Boevé managed to blag his way into becoming the leader of the Dutch organising committee for the Moscow youth festival, vetting those who applied to go to Moscow. His BVD controllers could not believe their luck as a list of Communist sympathisers fell in their lap.

While the rest of the 700 Dutch delegation took the train to Moscow, Mr Boevé was flown there, met Mr Kruschev (“a nice man”) and made a broadcast in Dutch on Radio Moscow. In 1958, China organised its own youth festival and Mr Boevé was invited. Initial Chinese suspicious of the young Dutch liberal were overcome and he embarked on a five-day journey from Amsterdam to Beijing.

That was followed by regular visits to the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands which led to an invitation to shed his “bourgeois ideas” and join the Dutch Communist Party. As a teacher, membership of the CP was impossible, so Mr Boevé’s new political allegiance was a secret to everyone except the BVD. Then came the Sino-Soviet split which also divided Communist sympathisers. Dutch intelligence saw a chance to split the far left and prompted Mr Boevé to help set up the MLNP to follow Beijing’s line. Its propaganda may have been funded by the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands, but the organisation was controlled by seven or eight BVD agents including Mr Boevé, who adopted the pseudonym Chris Petersen.

By 1963 he was back in Beijing, this time for a formal Communist education. He was put up at the best hotel and treated as a VIP but the hospitality came with a price tag: lengthy study of the thought of Mao. “I learnt how to think in the Chinese way. It even became possible for me to make a speech in a Mao style,” he recalls. Meanwhile, Mr Boevé held down a job as director of a technical school in Schoonhoven near Rotterdam.

With financial backing from the Chinese, what became known as Operation Mongol did not even cost any money. “In fact it made a profit”, says Mr Boevé. “The Chinese always paid in dollars.” By virtue of his party position and links with the Chinese, Mr Petersen was introduced to Communists in a host of countries, travelling extensively around Europe and beyond. The Albanian embassy in Paris fixed up a visit to Tirana where Mr Boevé met Mr Hoxha (who “seemed a nice man though we know he was not” and who spoke “excellent French”).

More trips to Bejing followed with audiences with Deng Xiaoping, Chou En-lai (a “clever, educated man who spoke German and French”), and even Mao himself. Though this was only a handshake, it afforded much celebration at the BVD, which had never had any agent so close to the Chinese leader.

Back at home, Chinese diplomats in the Netherlands were told the MLPN had a membership of about 500 but the party was really made of “about 25 agents and about 15 people stupid enough to join us”, says Mr Boevé.

The Chinese were not the only ones to be fooled: one Dutch academic even donated 20 per cent of his salary to the party, money he now wants refunded by the BVD. Meanwhile, Dutch secret service agents became experts in Maoist ideology, denouncing the evils of their capitalist government. Although the Chinese knew Mr Petersen’s real name, they did not bother to monitor his movements or, if they did, failed to spot regular meetings with a BVD controller. Other clues were overlooked, including one occasion when Mr Boevé spoke publicly about how to manage the tax system in order to pay less – not usually a Maoist preoccupation.

Mr Boevé told his wife (from whom is he now separated) and two sons about his double life and seems phlegmatic about the risks. He says: “I was told, ‘if you make a mistake. If you are put in prison and you admit that you are an agent, we cannot help you. You will be on your own, and you know what that means in those countries.’ But I was never afraid, I was so sure that everything was so well organised here.”

Didn’t all the lying and deceit get him down? On the contrary, he says: “I am a little proud of what I have done. I have led a good life and I have added something to humanity.” Mr Boevé only revealed his role after being exposed in a book written by a former BVD agent, Frits Hoekstra. The revelation has placed the spotlight on his new political party for the elderly. But he still faces a struggle to make a group of three local councillors into a real political force.

But all that time in Beijing has left him prepared for the battle to come. He might just get his escalator. As Chairman Mao once put it: “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”

Source

Dutch math teacher admits fake communist party scam that fooled Mao Zedong

The Guardian
December 4, 2004
Jon Henley

A 76-year-old retired Dutch math teacher described yesterday how for more than 25 years he was feted by communist leaders around the world as the inspired head of a radical Marxist-Leninist party that never, in fact, existed.

As Chris Petersen, head of the supposedly 600-member Marxist-Leninist party of the Netherlands, Pieter Boevé travelled to Beijing more than two dozen times and met Mao Zedong. He was also welcomed with open arms in Albania by Enver Hoxha, and in the eastern bloc capitals of Europe.

“In fact we had at most a dozen members, none of whom had the faintest idea of the truth,” Boevé said on Friday from his home in the seaside resort of Zandvoort. “The whole thing was a hoax, set up by the secret services to learn all they could about what was going on in Marxist Peking.”

The Mao regime was so impressed by the revolutionary zeal of Petersen/Boevé and his MLPN that it gave him regular briefings on the chairman’s latest thinking at the Chinese mission in The Hague. Beijing even funded the non-existent party’s newspaper, De Kommunist, which was written entirely by Dutch secret service (BVD) agents.

“We took everybody in,” Boevé said proudly on Friday. “As far as I know, the MLPN was the only wholly fake radical party to have existed, and certainly the only one to have really worked. We passed inside information on every Maoist policy nuance to all the western intelligence forces. It was a wonderful adventure.”

Boevé was first recruited by the BVD in 1955 when he visited a World Student Congress in Moscow. Soon after, he was invited to China, then still the Soviet Union’s ally, for a similar communist youth junket. After the Sino-Soviet split of the early 1960s, the Chinese began courting western communists and, egged on by the BVD, Boevé played along.

“I was invited to Peking for a month-long course on the wisdom of Chairman Mao,” he said. “It was quite a baptism of fire. I hadn’t read a great deal of Marx or Lenin at that stage, let alone Mao. But I soon got very proficient. I could spout for hours.”

The foundation of the MLPN was announced by De Kommunist in 1969. Its main role was to undermine the official Dutch Communist party, the KPN, by denouncing its deviant beliefs and unreliable conduct, and to garner information on – and gain access to – the Maoist elite in Beijing.

In the latter task, it was successful beyond the BVD’s wildest dreams. “They adored us,” Boevé said. “I was invited to all the big events – Army Days, Anniversaries of the Republic, everything. There were feasts in the Great Hall of the People and long articles in the People’s Daily. And they gave us lots of money.”

Most European Maoist groups, unable to keep up with an endless string of purges and policy about-turns, had lost faith by the mid-1980s, and the MLPN gradually began winding down its activities. But as late as 1989, after the Tiananmen student uprising, Boevé was invited to Beijing to praise the regime’s crackdown.

The existence of Project Mongol, as it was dubbed by the BVD, was successfully kept secret until this September, when another former agent, Frits Hoekstra, published a book about the service’s glory days. It caused something of an uproar in the Netherlands, a country where a fair few genuine former radicals now occupy leading positions in public life.

Boevé, who was never a salaried spy and who, despite his extra-curricular activities, rose to become headteacher of a top Dutch grammar school, said he was at first unwilling to have his name revealed. “My family knew, but no one else,” he said. “As far as my friends and former colleagues were concerned, all my travel was to do with educational exchanges.”

Since the revelations about his former life as one of the west’s most productive spooks, Boevé said reactions have varied from shock and disbelief – “How can we ever trust you again?” – to mild amusement. “My fellow members of the Zandvoort town council call me 007,” he said. “I don’t mind. I’m satisfied with what I’ve done with my life. I’ve travelled the world at someone else’s expense, and I feel did my bit. And it was certainly fun.”

Source

Comrade ‘Chris Petersen’ Was Big in China and Albania; ‘Project Mongol’ Tell-All

The Wall Street Journal
December 3, 2004

In From the Cold: He Was a Communist for Dutch Intelligence

By ANDREW HIGGINS
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
December 3, 2004; Page A1

ZANDVOORT, Netherlands – As secretary-general of the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands, Chris Petersen traveled the globe during the Cold War, wowing Communist leaders with his revolutionary zeal and anti-capitalist diatribes.

“I could make speeches for hours and you would think that Mao Tse-tung himself had been my teacher,” recalls the now-retired party chief.

The Chinese Communist Party was so impressed, it regularly gave the ranting Dutchman the full red-carpet treatment in Beijing: banquets in the Great Hall of the People, an audience with Mao, envelopes stuffed with cash and tributes in the People’s Daily. Albania’s Communists were also big fans.

Now, with communism all but dead, the Dutchman has decided to come clean: Both he and his party were a sham.

He says he was never a Maoist but an opera-loving math teacher moonlighting for Dutch intelligence. His name, his politics and his party, he says, all were concocted in a plot to penetrate militant Marxist subculture.

“Nothing was real,” says the ex-Mr. Petersen, who now lives under his real name, Pieter Boevé, here in Zandvoort, a seaside resort town west of Amsterdam. The only genuine part of a revolutionary career that lasted decades, he says, was a fondness for Chinese food: The Chinese Communist Party, Mr. Boevé recalls, had excellent cooks.

The Central Intelligence Agency, which got regular updates on the mock Maoist movement, dubbed it “Operation Red Herring,” according to Dutch intelligence. (The CIA won’t comment.) The Dutch called it “Project Mongol.”

The unmasking comes at an uncomfortable time for Dutch security services, now under fire for post-Communist bungling. Having infiltrated Maoist groups with gusto, they lost track of an Islamic radical blamed for the murder last month of filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

Mr. Boevé, who appeared on television in a recent documentary about the Dutch secret service while wearing a fake beard and Groucho Marx plastic nose and glasses, says his past exploits provide tips that could help con Islamist extremists, but he doesn’t envy anyone who might try: “It’s very dangerous,” he says.

In a country where erstwhile Maoists and other radicals have become pillars of the establishment, the exposure of the phony Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands, or MLPN, has caused dismay and embarrassment. Frits Hoekstra, a former high-ranking security official, shocked former colleagues in September by publishing a book that described Project Mongol and other escapades. The interior minister ordered an investigation into whether state secrets were divulged. Former Maoists are aghast.

“I totally wasted 12 years of my life,” says Paul Wartena, an ex-MLPN member who was so dedicated to the cause he used to donate 20% of his salary to the fake party. He says he “had some doubts now and then” about the MLPN but stayed loyal because “I was very naive and Mr. Boevé was such a good actor.” Now a researcher at a university in Utrecht, Mr. Wartena wants Dutch intelligence to pay him back for all his donations.

Mr. Boevé, now 74, scoffs at his acolyte: “He was an idiot.”

Mr. Boevé says he, too, is upset that his caper leaked but that Mr. Hoekstra’s book forced him in from the cold.

Conning so many people, says Mr. Boevé, was “not the most beautiful thing,” but it was a great adventure. He visited China about 25 times, made frequent trips to Albania and duped radical leaders in the West. After each journey, he went to a safe house in Amsterdam to pass on tidbits of information.

Set up and run by spooks in 1969, his party, the MLPN, had its own newspaper, De Kommunist, written and edited by the secret service. As well as Mr. Boevé playing Chris Petersen, the secretary-general, it had a chairman (another fraud) and a Central Committee stacked with secret agents. To add authenticity, the party let Mr. Wartena and a handful of other true believers join its otherwise nonexistent ranks, telling them that they were part of a network of underground cells.

Mr. Boevé first started working as an informant for the Dutch secret service, then known as the BVD, in the late 1950s and started using a fake name. Invited to Moscow for a youth festival in 1957, he attended a reception hosted by Nikita Khrushchev and briefed Dutch intelligence.

Mr. Hoekstra, a former head of counterintelligence against Soviet-bloc countries and author of the recent book, says Mr. Boevé’s recruitment wasn’t at first seen as a big deal, but, rather, as part of routine tracking of local Communists.

Shortly after the Moscow festival, however, Mr. Boevé got an invitation to China, then still aligned with the Soviet Union. While in China, he kept hearing Chinese officials curse Moscow, which had just cut funding to Beijing. The move marked the start of the Sino-Soviet split – and of Mr. Boevé’s role as an unlikely prize agent.

Desperate for allies against Moscow, China searched out Communists in Europe and elsewhere. Mr. Boevé, encouraged by the BVD, offered his services. He visited China in the early 1960s for a six-week course on Mao Tse-tung Thought. He says he got good at mimicking Chinese propaganda. The main difficulty, he says, was keeping up with the wild zigzags of Chinese politics: his hosts kept getting purged.

Chinese diplomats in Holland invited the man they knew as Chris Petersen to their mission in The Hague and gave money to help finance a Maoist newspaper secretly edited by the BVD. The result was De Kommunist. Mr. Hoekstra, the former spy and now a business consultant, says he once wrote a screed against the Dutch government. “As a civil servant, it was very satisfying,” he says.

After a year, De Kommunist announced with fanfare in 1969 the foundation of the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands. “In order to limit as far as possible the danger of penetration by enemy elements,” it explained, “the MLPN organization shall be based largely on the cell system, obliging all members to the greatest possible secrecy.”

For the next decade, the fake party helped the Dutch secret police divide Holland’s legitimate Communist movement, keep tabs on Maoist groups and gain access to China’s elite. “Petersen” issued regular communiques – all drafted by the BVD – denouncing real Communists as sellouts and urging voters to reject them.

Mr. Hoekstra, the former intelligence officer, said the facade of Maoist fervor did sometimes wobble. On one occasion, he says, “Petersen” started talking in public about how to take advantage of tax deductions, not something a Maoist is supposed to worry about. He says there was concern the Chinese might smell a rat, but that faded. The Dutch, he says, had the Chinese embassy bugged and heard diplomats singing “Petersen’s” praises. “We could hear everything,” says Mr. Hoekstra.

By the 1980s, purges and ideological U-turns had exhausted most Maoists in Europe, and the BVD began to lose interest in the ruse. China was no longer an enemy but a big trading partner. De Kommunist shut down. The MLPN fizzled.

Mr. Boevé, though, kept going. In 1989, when troops shot dead hundreds of protesters around Tiananmen Square, he issued a statement praising the resolve of the Communist Party in restoring order. Shortly afterward, he was back in Beijing, hailing the party and its leaders.

In a small apartment crowded with an electric organ and piles of books, Mr. Boevé rustles through plastic shopping bags full of yellowing MLPN tracts and other mementos. One is a copy of a photograph of himself meeting Enver Hoxha, Albania’s Communist dictator from 1944 until his death in 1985.

Advancing age has finally slowed Mr. Boevé down. He walks with a cane and can’t climb stairs. His involvement with China is limited to visits to a local Chinese restaurant. He draws giggles by humming the “East is Red,” a Maoist anthem. “It’s a very nice tune,” he says.

His political horizons have shrunk to Zandvoort. He sits on the local council and lobbies for better housing for the elderly. He has even set up yet another party: It represents old people. It doesn’t have many members, but, says Mr. Boevé, “This time they are all real.”

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