Category Archives: Bulgaria

Georgi Dimitrov And The Fight Against Titoism In Bulgaria

dimitrov

Vulko Chervenkov

Introduction

The following portions of the report by Vulko Chervenkov on the phenomenon of Traicho Kostovism constitutes formidable evidence of the bitter struggle between Marxism and Titoism which took place in Bulgaria in the late 1940s and early 1950s. But there is also specific information on the role of Dimitrov in confronting the menace of Titoist ideology which had secured important footholds in the party and the state. Chervenkov cites two important extracts of Dimitrov’s report to the XVI plenum of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party which was held in July 1948 shortly after the correspondence of Stalin and Molotov with Tito and Kardelj and the 1948 resolution of the Information Bureau which adverted to the serious shortcomings of the Yugoslav leadership on political and economic questions. They reveal the lessons drawn by Dimitrov from the negative impact of the activities of the Yugoslav leaders on the policies of the Bulgarian communists with regard to the Fatherland Front and the state apparatus. This material substantiates further the criticism made by Dimitrov in December 1948 of the Tito group at the Fifth Congress of the Bulgarian Communist Party for its striving for hegemony in the Balkans while claiming to uphold the project of Lenin and the Comintern to construct a Balkan Federation.(1)

These materials provide further proof that the Yugoslav contention that Dimitrov gave succour to them in their battle against the CPSU(b) and the USSR is without any basis. Shortly after the death of Stalin the CPSU and the CPC re-established fraternal relations with the Yugoslav revisionists.(2) It was to be the harbinger of the rapid introduction of the Yugoslav-style nationalism and ‘market socialism’, which had been built up by Tito in Yugoslavia in a systemic manner from 1948-49, into the economic relations of society in the Soviet Union and People’s China after the 20th Congress of the CPSU and the 8th Congress of the CPC in 1956.

In the new political dispensation and as part of the policy of the removal of communists from positions of authority in the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies Vulko Chervenkov was compelled to abandon the post of party secretaryship in February 1954 which was then taken up by the rank revisionist Todor Zhivkov. The writings of Dimitrov were now re-edited to correspond to the requirements of modern revisionism. The critical remarks of Dimitrov at the XVI plenum regarding Titoism were omitted from the ‘authoritative’ collection of his writings which was published in Bulgaria.(3) Later editions of the writings of Dimitrov did not carry this speech at all.(4)

It is apparent that the bulk of the writings of Dimitrov published after 1953 which are circulating internationally and have been consulted by two generations of the communist movement can neither be considered to be representative selections of the corpus of his written work nor may they be treated as textually reliable expressions of his actual writings.

Vijay Singh

References:

1 Georgi Dimitrov, The South Slav Federation and the Macedonian Question, ‘Revolutionary Democracy’, Volume VIII No. 2, September 2002, pp. 106-112.

2 See Moni Guha, Yugoslav Revisionism and the Role of the CPSU and the CPC, Calcutta, 1978; and Mao Zedong On Diplomacy, Beijing, 1998, p.195.

3 Georgi Dimitrov, S”chineniya, Tom 14, mart 1948-yuni 1949, Sofia, 1955, pp. 162-177.

4 Georgi Dimitrov, Selected Works, 3 Volumes, Sofia Press, Sofia, 1972. The CPI publications of Dimitrov in this country followed this trend. The bulk of Dimitrov’s work available on the internet conforms to the revisionist redaction.

Nationalism and nationalistic manifestations must be rooted out wherever they are encountered, as a hostile, fascist ideology, as the greatest evil.

Nationalism reveals itself in hostility to the Soviet Union, in the disparaging of its successes, in the refusal to recognise and in the denial of the universal historic experience of the Great October Socialist Revolution as an example and model for all workers and toilers in the whole world, in the underestimation of one’s own strength and successes, in the underestimation of the strength and successes of others, in the denial of international proletarian solidarity. Nationalism is the ideology of treachery to the camp of peace, democracy and socialism, of departure from this camp and transference to the camp of imperialism, of the restoration, of Bonapartist counter-revolution.

Nationalism means the perverting of the Party into a bourgeois, counter-revolutionary party. Nationalism means the turning of Bulgaria into an imperialist colony. Nationalism is a death blow to patriotism, to true love of the native land. Without unsparing struggle to death against nationalism, there can be no communist party.

Traichokostovism is Bulgarian nationalism, the betrayal of socialism, of Bulgaria. We must smash to pieces the vile and dangerous conception of some peculiar Bulgarian path towards socialism, of the superiority of our Bulgarian path toward socialism over the Soviet path, of the possibility of the smoothing over of the class struggle in the period of transition from capitalism to socialism. We must frankly confess that we paid tribute to this conception under the influence of the Titoists in the period when we still considered them honest folk. That harmful influence was reflected in some attitudes at the time of the reorganisation of the Fatherland Front, in the work of some Ministers. On how rotten and treacherous a plank we then tried to set our feet, is now clearer than ever. We took measures in time, but in this respect we must thank comrade Stalin, the Central Committee of the CPSU(b), the resolution of the Cominform-bureau of June 1948.

Still further with all our might must we strengthen, broaden and guard as the apple of our eye Bulgarian-Soviet friendship, and train the Party in the spirit of proletarian internationalism, which in our time has its clearest and best expression in friendship with the Soviet Union – the mighty citadel of victorious socialism, of international revolution – in loyalty and devotion to the Soviet Union, the CPSU(b) and comrade Stalin. Not in word, but in deed let us still more energetically train and prepare the Party to be faithful and loyal to proletarian internationalism, to the Soviet Union, the CPSU(b), to the great and beloved teacher and guide comrade Stalin to the end and in all circumstances.

We must be true to the legacy of comrade Georgi Dimitrov.

In his speech to the XVI Plenum of the Central Committee comrade Georgi Dimitrov declared:

‘We frequently lose sight of the fact that although the Communist international does not exist, the communist parties form one single international communist front under the leadership of the mightiest, experienced in the fight against capitalism and in the construction of socialism, party of Lenin and Stalin: that all the communist parties have one single scientific theory as their guide to action – Marxism-Leninism, and that they all have one general universally recognised guide and teacher – comrade Stalin the leader of the glorious Bolshevik party and the great land of socialism.

‘The Yugoslav example sufficiently clearly shows that those who stand at the head of the collective leadership of their parties, whoever they may be, must sense the control of the Party. They must never forget that leaders of the Party can change, but the Party remains, and will remain. It is not the Party that should depend on the leaders, but the leaders on the Party and they will be true party leaders to the extent that they remain loyal to the invincible Marxist-Leninist teaching and fulfil the sound collective will of the Party.

‘If we, the leaders of the Party, remain to the end faithful pupils of Lenin and Stalin, if like Bolsheviks we instantly discover, admit and quickly correct our mistakes and weaknesses, the danger for our party of a crisis such as the Yugoslav crisis will be completely ruled out.

‘But we in fact have decided to remain faithful to death to Marxism-Leninism, to international communist solidarity, to our genial teachers – Lenin and Stalin, and also to learn from them constantly, tirelessly, always more enthusiastically and proficiently.’

At the Fifth Congress of our Party comrade Georgi Dimitrov declared:

‘Our party has before it the example of the great Bolshevik party, from whose experiences it learns, and whose Central Committee and its genial leader, comrade Stalin have more than once given us invaluable aid with their advice and directions. Our party, which takes an active part in the Information bureau of communist and workers’ parties, is proud to find itself in the great family of the whole world, headed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the genial leader of the whole of progressive mankind – Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin.’

This legacy of comrade Georgi Dimitrov we must fulfil without contradiction and to the end….

For over a year or more we have been fighting to overcome the shortcomings and weaknesses in our work. We are already having remarkable successes, particularly since the discovery of the Traichokostovist gang, after the June Plenum of the Central Committee. Yet in this respect an enormous amount of work lies ahead of us. We have finally to overcome the principal weaknesses and shortcomings in our work. For that reason and in order to bring out clearly why we did not discover Traichokostovism earlier, in my report I drew the greatest attention to our shortcomings, weaknesses and errors as they existed on the eve of the discovery and destruction of Traichokostovism.

The present plenum, drawing lessons from the fight against Traichokostovism, will arm us for the fresh struggle to overcome successfully our own shortcomings.

Second. We must beware of incorrect generalisations when we speak of the shortcomings in our work. Such incorrect generalisations would lead us to incorrect and dangerous conclusions. One or two comrades who have spoken mixed their colours too thickly, and I fear lest they should paint too black a picture, lest the whole of our work in the period up to the V Congress should appear to be almost entirely mistaken. That is incorrect. That is absolutely incorrect, comrades.

The general line of our party was and is correct. The Traichokostov blackguards prepared their conspiracy, they wished to oust comrade Georgi Dimitrov precisely because the general policy and work of our party was correct.

The letters of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) to the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party were and are of remarkably valuable assistance to the Communist parties. You know how these letters were received by the present day ‘leaders’ of Yugoslavia. But among us, the leadership of our party headed by comrade Georgi Dimitrov, it was quite the reverse. With all our might we undertook to implement the advice and recommendations contained in those letters and, in the light of sustained, just and penetrating criticism of the Titoists, to review our work, to remove admitted errors, and to beware of false steps.

What is evident from this fact? This fact bears evidence that our political line was and is correct, that thanks to it we achieved several important positive results. But that does not mean that we did not admit errors, that we were without serious weaknesses. This fact shows that our shortcomings and weakness were not organic, insuperable shortcomings. They can be overcome. In a short time we can overcome them, and we will overcome them if only we seriously wish to do so. I think that the present plenum of the Central Committee wishes to do precisely this.

That is how the matter stands. For that reason when criticising our shortcomings we must not fall into extremes. The criticism and self-criticism which we should develop and instil into the party by every means, must raise and increasingly strengthen the authority of the Central Committee and of the whole party as a Bolshevik party. I am deeply convinced that as a result of the sustained implementation of the decisions of our plenum the authority of the Central Committee and of the whole party will increase.

Third. Some comrades ask who is personally responsible for our earlier adoption of negative Yugoslav experience.

The question is very simple. At the time of the civil war in the Ukraine, as comrade Stalin has stated, the revolutionary workers and sailors who were pursuing the White bandits not far from Odessa were saying: let’s only get to Odessa, arrest the Entente and then that will be the end of all our suffering and hardship.

On the question of personal responsibility for our adoption of negative Yugoslav experience before the Cominformbureau resolution, some comrades are seeking to ‘arrest the Entente.’

The task is more complicated unfortunately. Up to the beginning of 1948 all of us in the leadership of the party were insufficiently vigilant, were uncritical and blindly trustful of the Titoists. That circumstance enabled the envoys of the present-day fascist henchmen of imperialism from Belgrade to spy upon us, to study us thoroughly, to establish nests of conspirators in our country with the aid of their fellow-spies in Traicho Kostov’s gang.

On this point comrade Georgi Dimitrov in his report to the Central Committee at the XVI Plenum declared:

‘… as the nearest neighbours of Yugoslavia, bound in closest collaboration with the Yugoslav Communists, we did not display the necessary vigilance towards these leaders, we had an uncritical attitude towards them although some of them clearly gave us cause for adopting a critical attitude. We did not follow closely the policy and activity of the Yugoslav leaders, with whom we proposed to establish a federation of South Slavs. It is precisely the absence of careful and close study of the policies pursued by the Yugoslav leaders, and our blind trust in them, which explains a certain harmful influence which their policy had upon our party also. That harmful influence is reflected especially in the reorganisation of the Fatherland Front and the State apparatus. The transfer of party cadres into the state apparatus and the Fatherland Front took place in such a manner that it produced a certain undisputed weakening of the party leadership – at the centre and in other places.’

The blame for our adoption of negative Yugoslav experience falls upon us all, upon the whole party leadership. The letters of the Central Committee of the CPSU(B) to the Central Committee of Yugoslav Communist Party saved us from grave disaster.

Fourth. Comrade Krustyu Stoychev finds that we criticise him because he carried out the decisions on the Macedonian question taken at the X Plenum of the Central Committee.

Is that why we criticise comrade Krustyu Stoychev? If that is the case, why should we criticise comrade Krustyu Stoychev alone? If that is the case we should first of all criticise ourselves.

Comrade Krustyu Stoychev is making a diversion. The decisions of the X Plenum of the Central Committee on the Macedonian question were the party line during the period up to the betrayal of the Titoists, up to the Cominformbureau resolution.

What is the point at issue, Comrade Kr. Stoychev? For what should you answer? For upholding the party line in that period? No! As if a party worker could be brought to account… for upholding the party line!

Comrade Stoychev, the point at issue is quite a different one. The point is this. Was the Central Committee of our party circumvented by the then District Committee of the party in the Pirin region when it entered into relations with the Kolishevists? Were meetings with them arranged without the knowledge of the Central Committee? Was comrade Georgi Dimitrov discredited in the Pirin region, were his portraits taken down? To whom did certain groups of Septemvriiche take the oath – to comrade Georgi Dimitrov or to Tito? At that time was there an agreement between you and the Titoists behind the back of the Central Committee of our party?

That is the point at issue. That is why we are asking: Are you in any way to blame in this matter? Did you know of such occurrences? Did you warn the Central Committee of them? Did some member of the Central Committee direct you to act behind the back of the Central Committee – who, where, when? We ask you to reply on these points and not on the other.

Comrade Krustyu Stoychev says nothing about it. In my opinion, he has taken a step backwards from his own self-criticism on this question at the XVI Plenum of the Central Committee and has made a diversion….

From: Vulko Chervenkov, ‘Fundamental Lessons of Traicho Kostov’s Group and the Struggle for its Destruction and the Shortcomings in Party Work and our Tasks’, Report to the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party, 16th January 1950, People’s Publishing House, Bombay, 1950, pp. 35-36, 46-49.

Source

 

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Putin’s Western Allies

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Why Europe’s Far Right Is on the Kremlin’s Side

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Given that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated reasons for invading Crimea was to prevent “Nazis” from coming to power in Ukraine, it is perhaps surprising that his regime is growing closer by the month to extreme right-wing parties across Europe. But, in both cases, Putin’s motives are not primarily ideological. In Ukraine, he simply wants to grab territory that he believes rightly belongs to him. In the European Union, he hopes that his backing of fringe parties will destabilize his foes and install in Brussels politicians who will be focused on dismantling the EU rather than enlarging it.

In Hungary, for example, Putin has taken the Jobbik party under his wing. The third-largest party in the country, Jobbik has supporters who dress in Nazi-type uniforms, spout anti-Semitic rhetoric, and express concern about Israeli “colonization” of Hungary. The party has capitalized on rising support for nationalist economic policies, which are seen as an antidote for unpopular austerity policies and for Hungary’s economic liberalization in recent years. Russia is bent on tapping into that sentiment. In May 2013, Kremlin-connected right-wing Russian nationalists at the prestigious Moscow State University invited Jobbik party president Gabor Vona to speak. Vona also met with Russia Duma leaders including Ivan Grachev, chairman of the State Duma Committee for Energy and Vasily Tarasyuk, deputy chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and Utilization, among others. On the Jobbik website, the visit is characterized as “a major breakthrough” which made “clear that Russian leaders consider Jobbik as a partner.” In fact, there have been persistent rumors that Jobbik’s enthusiasm is paid for with Russian rubles. The party has also repeatedly criticized Hungary’s “Euro-Atlantic connections” and the European Union. And, more recently, it called the referendum in Crimea “exemplary,” a dangerous word in a country with extensive co-ethnic populations in Romania and Slovakia. It seems that the party sees Putin’s new ethnic politics as being aligned with its own revisionist nationalism.

The Kremlin’s ties to France’s extreme-right National Front have also been growing stronger. Marine Le Pen, the party leader, visited Moscow in June 2013 at the invitation of State Duma leader Sergei Naryshkin, a close associate of Putin’s. She also met with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and discussed issues of common concern, such as Syria, EU enlargement, and gay marriage. France’s ProRussia TV, which is funded by the Kremlin, is staffed by editors with close ties to the National Front who use the station to espouse views close to National Front’s own perspective on domestic and international politics. The National Front wishes to replace the EU and NATO with a pan-European partnership of independent nations, which, incidentally, includes Russia and would be driven by a trilateral Paris-Berlin-Moscow alliance. Le Pen’s spokesman, Ludovic De Danne, recently recognized the results of the Crimea referendum and stated in an interview with Voice of Russia radio that, “historically, Crimea is part of Mother Russia.” In the same interview, he mentioned that he had visited Crimea several times in the past year. Marine Le Pen also visited Crimea in June 2013.

The list of parties goes on. Remember Golden Dawn, the Greek fascist party that won 18 seats in Greece’s parliament in 2012? Members use Nazi symbols at rallies, emphasize street fighting, and sing the Greek version of the Nazi Party anthem. The Greek government imprisoned Nikos Michaloliakos, its leader, and stripped parliamentary deputies of their political immunity before slapping them with charges of organized violence. But the party continues to take to the streets. Golden Dawn has never hidden its close connections to Russia’s extreme right, and is thought to receive funds from Russia. One Golden Dawn­­–linked website reports that Michaloliakos even received a letter in prison from Moscow State University professor and former Kremlin adviser Alexander Dugin, one of the authors of Putin’s “Eurasian” ideology. It was also Dugin who hosted Jobbik leader Vona when he visited Moscow. In his letter, Dugin expressed support for Golden Dawn’s geopolitical positions and requested to open a line of communication between Golden Dawn and his think tank in Moscow. Golden Dawn’s New York website reports that Michaloliakos “has spoken out clearly in favor of an alliance and cooperation with Russia, and away from the ‘naval forces’ of the ‘Atlantic.’”

Finally, a cable made public by WikiLeaks shows that Bulgaria’s far right Ataka party has close links to the Russian embassy. Reports that Russia funds Ataka have swirled for years, but have never been verified. But evidence of enthusiasm for Russia’s foreign policy goals is open for all to see. Radio Bulgaria reported on March 17 that Ataka’s parliamentary group “has insisted that Bulgaria should recognize the results from the referendum for Crimea’s joining to the Russian Federation.” Meanwhile, party leader Volen Siderov has called repeatedly for Bulgaria to veto EU economic sanctions for Russia.

In addition to their very vocal support for Russia’s annexation of Crimea within the EU, Jobbik, National Front, and Ataka all sent election observers to validate the Crimea referendum (as did the Austrian Freedom Party, the Belgian Vlaams Belang party, Italy’s Forza Italia and Lega Nord, and Poland’s Self-Defense, in addition to a few far-left parties, conspicuously Germany’s Die Linke). Their showing was organized by the Russia-based Eurasian Observatory For Democracy & Elections, a far-right NGO “opposed to Western ideology.” The EODE specializes in monitoring elections in “self-proclaimed republics” (Abkhazia, Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh) allied with Moscow, according to its website.

The Putin government’s cordial relations with Europe’s far right sit oddly, to say the least, with his opposition to “Nazis” in the Ukrainian government. Yet Putin’s dislike for Ukrainian “fascists” has nothing to do with ideology. It has to do with the fact that they are Ukrainian nationalists. The country’s Svoboda and Right Sector parties, which might do well in the post–Viktor Yanukovych Ukraine, stand for independence in a country that Putin does not believe should exist separate from Russia.

Similarly, Russian support of the far right in Europe has less to do with ideology than with his desire to destabilize European governments, prevent EU expansion, and help bring to power European governments that are friendly to Russia. In that sense, several European countries may only be one bad election away from disaster. In fact, some would say that Hungary has already met it. As support for Jobbik increases, the anti-democratic, center-right government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has tacked heavily to the right and recently signed a major nuclear deal with Russia. Russia plans to lend Hungary ten billion euro to construct two new reactors at its Paks nuclear plant, making Hungary even more dependent for energy on Russia. Jobbik’s Vona wants to go even further, taking Hungary out of the EU and joining Russia’s proposed Eurasian Union.

European parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for the end of May, are expected to result in a strong showing for the far right. A weak economy, which was weakened further by the European Central Bank’s austerity policies, has caused the extreme right vote to surge. Current polls show the far-right parties in France and Holland winning the largest share of seats in their national delegations. Brussels strategists worry that 20 percent of members of the new European parliament could be affiliated with parties that wish to abolish the EU, double the current number. That could cause an EU government shutdown to rival the dysfunction of Washington and deal a major blow to efforts to enlarge the Union and oppose Russian expansionism.

It is strange to think that Putin’s strategy of using right-wing extremist political parties to foment disruption and then take advantage — as he did in Crimea — could work in southern and western Europe as well. Or that some of the extreme right parties in the European parliament, who work every day to delegitimize the European Union and whose numbers are growing, may be funded by Russia. Yet these possibilities cannot be dismissed. Russia might soon be able to disrupt the EU from within.

To counter Russia, European leaders should start launching public investigations into external funding of extreme-right political parties. If extensive Russia connections are found, it would be important to publicize that fact and then impose sanctions on Russia that would make it more difficult for it to provide such support. Pro-European parties must find a way to mobilize voters who are notoriously unwilling to vote in European parliament elections. Europe will also have to rethink the austerity policies that have worsened the grievances of many Europeans and pushed them to support the anti-system, anti-European right. Although Germany has banned extreme right parties from representation, other countries have not. Germany may have therefore underestimated the extent of damage austerity policies could do to the European project and should rethink how its excessive budget cutting, monetary prudence, and export surpluses are affecting politics in the rest of Europe.

Putin’s challenge to Europe must be taken seriously. Rather than making another land grab in his back yard, he might watch patiently from the sidelines at the end of May as pro-Russia far-right parties win a dramatic election victory in European parliamentary elections. These elections could weaken the European Union and bring Russia’s friends on the far right closer to power.

Source

Communist Platform: The European People’s Democracies of the 20th Century: A Specific Form of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat

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From Unity & Struggle No. 25, Spring/Summer 2013

Italy

1. Between August 1944 and May 1945 the Red Army, in its unbeatable advance toward Berlin, freed Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Czechoslovakia and eastern Germany from Nazi rule, also aiding the liberation of Yugoslavia and Albania.

In those countries anti-fascist fronts were set up against the Nazi occupiers (for example, the Patriotic Front in Bulgaria, the Independence Front in Hungary, the National Democratic Front in Romania, the National Anti-Fascist Front in Czechoslovakia, the Anti-Fascist Front of National Liberation in Albania, and so on).

With the exception of Albania, where the Communist Party (later the Party of Labour) undertook by itself the leadership of the new people’s democratic State that arose from the war of liberation, in other countries coalition governments were formed with the participation of various political  parties, the expression of  different social classes.

In the beginning, the communists who took part in those coalition governments had the task of assuring the democratic development of those countries against the reactionary and fascist remnants, building inside the Front a bloc of left-wing forces, and preventing the right-wing forces from strengthening their traditional ties with the middle strata of the city and countryside. Profound agrarian reforms were carried out and some nationalisations were introduced; new organs of people’s power were established, such as the People’s Councils in Albania, the Committees of the Patriotic Front in Bulgaria, the Committees of the National Front in Czechoslovakia, and so on.

But from the theoretical and political point of view, for the communists this presented the problem of perspective. What was the class nature of these new systems of people’s democracy? And what “road” would they have to follow in their development towards socialism?

In this article we intend to examine – through the declarations of some leaders of the communist parties of those countries – the positions assumed by their parties in the first years of existence of the people’s democratic States, and how those positions were later modified through a process of profound Bolshevik criticism and self-criticism. (From here on the bold face is ours.)

2. “The struggle for socialism is different today from the struggle of 1917 and 1918 in tsarist Russia, at the time of the October Revolution. At that time it was essential to overthrow Russian tsarism, the dictatorship of the proletariat was essential in order to pass over to socialism. Since then, more than thirty years have elapsed, and the Soviet Union, as a socialist State, has become a great world power. […] There is no doubt that all counties, big and small, are destined to pass over to socialism, because that is historically inevitable for both big and small peoples. The crucial point of the question, and we Marxist-Leninists should know this well, is this: every nation will carry out the passage to socialism not through a road already drawn, not exactly as occurred in the Soviet Union, but proceeding along its own road, in accordance with its historic, national, social and cultural peculiarities” (G. Dimitrov, Report to the Congress of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party, February 1946).

Our people are for a parliamentary republic, which should not be a plutocratic republic. They are for a people’s republican system and not for a bourgeois republican system. What does this means? It means: 1) that Bulgaria will not be a Soviet republic, but a people’s republic in which the leading function will be performed by the great majority of the people – by the workers, peasants, artisans and intellectuals linked to the people. In this Republic there will not be any dictatorship, but the fundamental and decisive factor will be the labouring majority of the population” (G. Dimitrov, Speech of September 16, 1946).

Experience and the Marxist-Leninist teachings show that the dictatorship of the proletariat and the building of a Soviet system are not the only road leading to socialism. Under certain conditions, socialism can be achieved by other roads. The defeat of fascism and the suffering of the peoples in many countries have revealed the true face of the ruling class and have also increased the confidence of the people in themselves. In similar historical moments new roads and new possibilities appear. […] We are marching on our own road toward socialism” (K. Gottwald,Speech to the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, October 1946).

We must show what the relation is between the building of Hungarian people’s democracy and the road leading to socialism. The communist parties have learned, in this last quarter century, that there is no single road to socialism, but that the only road effectively leading to socialism is the road that takes into account the situation of each country. […] Only people’s democracy allows our country to march toward socialism through social evolution, without civil war (M. Rakosi, Speech to the 2nd Congress of the Hungarian Communist Party).

3. In this analysis and in these theoretical and political positions, the existence of indefiniteness, confusion and errors are evident, whether owing to an initial and not very mature experience of the “new roads”, or to a not clear relation between the immediate task (the consolidation of the new democratic systems emerging from the anti-Nazi and anti-fascist victory) and the long-term tasks of building socialism. There is also an excessive and one-sided emphasis on the national element, which is “isolated” and unlinked from its connections with proletarian internationalism.

These declarations correctly acknowledge and affirm that each nation will carry out the passage to socialism not “through a path already drawn”, but “according its own road, in conformity with its own historical, national, social and cultural peculiarities.

There were some important particularities in that historical situation: for example, the exclusion from power of the old ruling classes not as the result of a civil war, but on account of the armed presence of the Red Army on the territory; the survival of the parliamentary institution (an inheritance from the pre-war period) that coexisted with the new organs of people’s power. But these particularities were confused with the fundamental question of the class nature of the new power. The question of political leadership was not made clear. The leading role of the working class and its party – the communist party – in the power system of people’s democracy (a role that is decisive and irreplaceable in the dictatorship of the proletariat) is not asserted, or it is overshadowed.

In the following years those errors of analysis and perspective could be corrected self-critically, as we mentioned above. But we must not forget that, inside some of the communist parties, there were also right-opportunist tendencies, which led to the open theoretical revision of the foundations of Marxism-Leninism.

The most crude revisionist position was the one expressed in the Polish United Workers’ Party [PUWP] by the right-wing tendency represented in those years by its general secretary Wladislaw Gomulka. In his speech on November 30, 1946, to the assembly of Warsaw activists of the Polish Workers’ Party and the Polish Socialist Party [which later merged into the PUWP], Gomulka expressed his views in this way:

“The Polish Workers’ Party has based its conception of a Polish road to socialism that does not imply the necessity of violent revolutionary shocks in the evolution of Poland and eliminates the need of a dictatorship of the proletariat as the form of power in the most difficult moment of transition. On the basis of real elements, we have realized the possibility of an evolution toward socialism through a people’s democratic system, in which power is exercised by the bloc of democratic parties.”

He then explained “the three principal differences between the road of the evolution of the Soviet Union and our road”:

“The first difference is this: the social and political changes were accomplished through bloody revolutions, whereas in our country they are accomplished in a peaceful manner. The second difference consists in the fact that, whereas the Soviet Union had to pass through a period of dictatorship of the proletariat, in our country this period has not existed and can be avoided. The third difference that characterizes the roads of evolution between the two countries is that, whereas in the Soviet Union power is in the hands of the Council of Deputies, or Soviet, that unites in itself both legislative and executive functions, and that represents the form of socialist government, in our country the legislative functions and the executive ones are separate, and a parliamentary democracy is at the base of the national power.”

[…] “In Russia the dictatorship of the proletariat continues to be the form of government necessary after bringing down the counter-revolution. […] Today the dictatorship of the proletariat has changed its form and it can be said that it has died out with the disappearance of the class of exploiters and their ideology; its place has been occupied by Soviet democracy as the form of government of the country. The enemies of the Soviet Union, those who do not understand what the dictatorship of the proletariat means, continue to assert that this dictatorship still exists in Russia. This naturally does not make political sense.”

[…] “Thus we have chosen a Polish road of evolution, which we have called the line of people’s democracy. On this road and in these conditions, a dictatorship of the working class, let alone the dictatorship of one of the parties, is not necessary and is not our aim. We think that power should be exercised by the coalition of all the democratic parties. […] Polish democracy exercises power through a parliamentary system of different parties, whereas Soviet democracy realises the power of the people through the Councils. […] The Polish road to socialism is not the road that leads to the dictatorship of the working class, and the form of exercise of power by the working masses does not necessarily have to be represented by a system of Councils.”

Gomulka – who went so far as to even deny the existence of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union – synthesized the essentials characteristics of Polish people’s democracy in this way:

“The elimination of reaction from power in a peaceful manner, and the accomplishment of great social reforms by democracy without bloodshed, without revolution and without civil war.”

These anti-Leninist positions (that, one should remember, never had any legitimacy in the Party of Labour of Albania under the firm political and ideological leadership of Enver Hoxha) were later defeated in Poland in consequence of the sharp class struggle developed inside the party. But they re-emerged with Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the CPSU, giving rise to the principal trend of modern revisionism.

Just as full of errors, and particularly significant, is this definition of the countries of people’s democracy adopted in Hungary by Eugene Varga in the first years after the Second World War:

It is neither the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, nor the dictatorship of the proletariat. The old state apparatus was not destroyed, as in the Soviet Union, but it has been renewed through the continuous assimilation of the supporters of the new system. They are not capitalist States in the usual sense of the word, but they are also not socialist States. Their evolution toward socialism is based on the nationalisation of the principal means of production and on the actual character of these States. Even while the state power is maintained as it now exists, they can pass progressively to socialism by pushing forward the development of the socialist sector that already exists together with the simple-commodity sector (peasants and artisans), and the capitalist sector that is losing its dominant position.”

4. In the second half of 1947 the international situation went through profound changes, due to the passage of U.S. imperialism to an aggressive and expansionist policy (creation of military bases in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, military loans and aid to the reactionary regimes in Greece and Turkey, rearmament and support to all reactionary international forces), a policy that had its maximum expression in the “Truman Doctrine,” the “Marshall Plan” and the violent anti-communist ideological campaign unleashed by Yankee imperialism all over the world.

In his Report to the Information Conference of the representatives of nine communist parties (Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, France and Italy), held in Poland in September 1947, Andrei Zhdanov denounced the tendency of the United States of America to world domination, emphasised the formation at the international level of two camps – the imperialist anti-democratic camp and the anti-imperialist democratic camp – and criticized the tendency, present in some communist parties, to interpret the dissolution of the Communist International as if it “meant the liquidation of any ties, of any contact between the fraternal communist parties.

As the conclusion of that Conference, the “Information Bureau of Communist and Workers’ Parties” (Cominform) was set up, and inside the parties some important questions of a theoretical and political nature were re-examined, including those relating to the class content of the States of people’s democracy.

5. On December 19 1948, in his Report to the 5th Congress of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (at that time again the Communist Party of Bulgaria), G. Dimitrov stated:

“In order to proceed with determination and firmness on the road toward socialism, it is necessary to completely clarify the ideas about the character, function and perspectives of people’s democracy and the people’s democratic State. In this respect, we must define more precisely some of the positions we have held until now, and rectify other positions, starting from the experience accumulated up to now, and from the more recent data on this new complex question. Briefly, in what does the question consist?

“First. The people’s democratic State is the State of a period of transition and has the task of assuring the development of the country toward socialism. This means that, although the power of the capitalists and large landowners has been demolished and the property of these classes has become property of the people, the economic roots of capitalism have not yet been extirpated, the capitalist elements aiming to restore capitalist slavery remain and are still developing. Therefore the march toward socialism is possible only by leading an implacable class struggle against the capitalist elements in order to completely liquidate them.

Second. In the conditions created by the military defeat of the fascist aggressor States, in the conditions of the rapid worsening of the general crisis of capitalism and of the huge increase in strength of the Soviet Union, our country, like the other countries of people’s democracy, once assured of the close collaboration with the USSR and the other people’s democracies, is seeing the possibility of accomplishing the passage to socialism without creating a Soviet system, through the system of people’s democracy, provided that this system is strengthened and developed with the aid of the Soviet Union and the countries of people’s democracy.

Third. The system of people’s democracy, representing in these particular historical conditions the power of the labouring people under the guidance of the working class, can and must – as experience has already shown – successfully exercise the functions of the dictatorship of the proletariat through the liquidation of the overthrown capitalist elements and landowners, in order to crush and liquidate their attempts to restore the power of capital.”

No less important and rich in lessons is the analysis in the Report to the First Congress of the Polish United Workers’ Party (December 1948), by the new secretary of the Party, Boleslaw Bierut, who denounced the positions of Gomulka as the result of a “nationalist limitation” and a “petty-bourgeois mentality”, as “a return to social-democratic opportunist conceptions that have not been completely defeated and are continually reborn; against them our party has conducted and must ceaselessly conduct  a fight to the finish.”

In that Report, Bierut pointed out the role and character of the State of people’s democracy in this manner:

“The Polish road to socialism, despite of its particular characters, is not something essentially different, but only a variant of the general road of development toward socialism, a variant which can exist only thanks to the earlier victory of socialism in the USSR, a variant based on the experiences of socialist construction in the USSR, with regard to the specific nature of the new historical period which determines the conditions of the historical development of Poland.

“What is a State of people’s democracy according to Marxist-Leninist theory? How can one define the essence, the class content and character of people’s democracy? Some people began to think that people’s democracy was a system qualitatively and fundamentally different from a system based on the dictatorship of the proletariat. Defining the system of people’s democracy in Poland as a specific Polish road toward the new system, its particularity was often understood in the sense that it was considered a special process of development whose point of arrival was impossible to establish previously, as was said.

“Some people imagined the result as a synthesis of its own kind of capitalism and socialism, as a particular socio-political system in which the socialist and capitalist elements coexisted on two parallel tracks and on the basis of a reciprocal recognition,. Other people, believing that the system of people’s democracy was a temporary effect of the specific situation determined by the post-war conditions, strived to temporarily stabilize this situation, in the hope that would be possible to return again to the situation existing before September [alluding to the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 – Editor’s note].

[…] “People’s democracy is not a type of synthesis or stable coexistence of two social systems of different natures, but the form through which the capitalist elements are undermined and progressively liquidated, and at the same time the form that allows the development and strengthening of the bases of the future socialist economy.

“People’s democracy is the particular form of revolutionary power that emerged in the new historical conditions of our epoch, it is the expression of the new array of class forces on the international level.

[…] “The development of our march toward socialism takes place through carrying out the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism in new conditions and in a new international situation.

“The principles are as follows:

  1. “The need for the working class, at the head of the popular masses, to seize political power;
  2. “The pre-eminent position of the working class in the worker-peasant alliance and in the national democratic front;
  3. “The leadership entrusted to the revolutionary party;
  4. “The merciless class struggle, the liquidation of big capital and the large landowners, the offensive against the capitalist elements.”

6. The historical experience of the international workers and communist movement is an extraordinary heritage of victories, elaborations and events, thanks to which fundamental pages on the road leading to communism have been written. The ability to verify the political theories and positions in practice, to admit and correct errors, to arrive at new formulations and conclusions, is a distinctive feature of Marxism-Leninism.

In the last century, the revolutionary creativity of the working class and peoples has produced different forms of the dictatorship of the proletariat, from the Soviets to the systems of people’s democracy, under specific historical conditions, which we communists must transform into the treasury for the development of our revolutionary theory and practice, as powerful tools for the transformation of the world.

The emergence of the people’s democracies as new State forms of the proletarian dictatorship, socialist states in the first phase of their development, that have run through various stages and applied different measures in order to destroy the bourgeois relations of production, has a great historical and present importance.

The study of the forms in which are embodied the historical necessity and inevitability of the political rule of proletariat, in alliance with and at the head of the labouring masses for the transition to classless society is essential for today’s communists. Our task is to win over the vanguard of the proletariat and to lead the masses to the seizure of power, applying the principles of Marxism-Leninism and finding the specific forms of approach to the proletarian revolution and socialism, in accordance with the historical conditions and characteristics of each country.

The idea of people’s democracy is still alive in the consciousness of the working class and the labouring masses, and it maintains its great force.

Will the Italy of the future be a people’s democracy? What is certain is that in the new century that has begun, in which we communists are continuing our battle, new proletarian revolutions will shake the world and new States will emerge from them: but each State will be a particular form of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

 “That all nations will arrive at socialism is absolutely certain, but all will arrive with some particularities, each nation will bring something particular to this or that form of democracy, to this or that variant of the dictatorship of the proletariat” (Lenin).

Source

Alliance Marxist-Leninist: The Cominform Documents

meeting_cominform_1949_november_hungary

THE COMINFORM DOCUMENTS

INTRODUCTION (by N. Steinmayr); For Alliance and Communist League. Published on web June 13th 1999.

The Cominform documents have been published – in their original versions in both Russian and English – in The Cominform: Minutes of the Three Conferences 1947/48/49 (edited by Giuliano Procacci, in Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, Annali, 1994, Feltrinelli Editore, Milano, ISBN 88-07-99050-4).

The volume contains both the original texts (the bulk of which had never been published before) and some introductory essays and notes. This critical edition resulted from an agreement of scholarly cooperation between the Russian Centre of Conservation and Study of Records for Modern History and the Feltrinelli Foundation.

As known, nine European communist parties (from the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, France and Italy) joined the Cominform and participated at its three Conferences – respectively, in September 1947, in June 1948, and in November 1949. No other conferences were organized from 1950 until its disbanding in 1956.

The reasons of its decline may be found in the emergence of Khrushchevite revisionism and in the new changes in the international situation (namely, the Chinese revolution and the Korean war). I have selected below only a few sections from the original documents which highlight some interesting and revealing aspects, i.e., the presence of revisionist, centrist positions in the international communist movement at that time and Dimitrov’s role in Bulgarian-Yugoslav-Soviet relations.

These original sources, as well, contribute to explain – in retrospect – the origins of the revisionist degeneration that later became apparent in the international communist movement. I have numbered the various sections of the original documents I quote. The extracts are preceded by some notes that I present.

EXTRACT 1:
FROM THE REPORT BY A. A. ZHDANOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) “ON THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION” AT THE FIRST CONFERENCE (25 September 1947) .

NS:
I have selected the definition of people’s democracy. In this famous report by Zhdanov, outlining the “two camps” theory, the main task of the communists appears to be the defence of peace and democracy against US-led imperialist expansionism, rather than the advance of socialism. There is no mention of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the main feature of the socialist society. But the crucial phrase is mentioned of the “transition to socialism”. It was this very key step that the revisionist Dimitrov would neglect in his policies for Bulgaria.

EXTRACT 2:
THE REPORT BY V. CHERVENKOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) “ON THE ACTIVITY OF THE BULGARIAN WORKERS’ PARTY (COMMUNISTS)” AT THE FIRST CONFERENCE (23 September 1947)

NS:
This emphasizes the special relationship existing between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Reference is made to the meeting which took place at Lake Bled from 30 July to 1 August 1947 between a Bulgarian delegation, headed by Dimitrov, and a Yugoslav delegation, headed by Tito. At the end of the meeting, a joint declaration was signed (on 1 August) and announced, providing for a conclusion of a treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance which they intended to sign.

In a harsh telegram sent to both governments on 12 August, Stalin criticized the initiative, both because it had been taken without prior consultations with the Soviet government and because it might feed Anglo-American opposition to a treaty signed by a country, such as Bulgaria, which would have lost the status of conquered nation won only with the entry into force of the peace treaty on 15 September 1947.

In early July, in fact, both Tito and Dimitrov had informed Moscow of their intention to imminently sign this Yugoslav-Bulgarian treaty. But Stalin, in his answer to Dimitrov on 5 July, had instructed them to wait until the peace treaty came into force. The Yugoslav-Bulgarian announcement of 1 August 1947, therefore, was a deliberate violation of Stalin’s directives.

Extract 3:
FROM THE SPEECH BY T. KOSTOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE SECOND CONFERENCE (21 JUNE 1948).

NS:
I have selected quotations relating to:
a) Yugoslav-Bulgarian relations, with particular regard to the Macedonian question (it is now stated that it was Yugoslavia which had had territorial and hegemonic pretentions in the Balkans against the USSR), and:
b) mistakes and defects in the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists), apparently corrected thanks to Soviet advice.

It must be taken into account that:

(a) during that period of time, both Dimitrov and Kostov were the two most prominent leaders in the Bulgarian party (the former held the position of Central Committee chairman, the latter was first secretary). Both of them had remained in Moscow until November 1945 and Kostov had been appointed party secretary thanks to Dimitrov’s personal intervention and backing;

(b) Kostov was replaced by Dimitrov as party general secretary at the fifth party congress in December 1948 (the post of party chairman having been abolished). Soon afterwards, Dimitrov began a discussion of “mistakes” made by Kostov, accusing him of nationalism and “intellectual individualism”. Kostov was purged from the party in March 1949 while Dimitrov died of natural causes in July.
In December Kostov and others were accused of being agents of the Anglo-Americans and having committed treason in connection with the Balkan federation proposals (aimed at making Bulgaria an appendage of Yugoslavia, thus severing links with the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies). But no blame was attached to Dimitrov in connection with these proposals, while Kostov was executed immediately after the trial (he was partly rehabilitated in 1956 and completely exonerated in 1962). Kostov’s trial can eventually be regarded as an episode in the struggle for leadership within the Bulgarian party after Dimitrov’s death.

According to J.D. Bell, in The Bulgarian Communist Party from Blagoev to Zhivkov (1986):

“When the charges against him were read to the court, Kostov admitted that he had tried to keep the prices of certain Bulgarian goods from Soviet officials, but he pleaded innocent to the rest of the charges and repudiated his confession. Even after the final guilty verdict was pronounced, he remained unrepentant. ‘I never served English intelligence,’ he said, ‘never participated in the criminal plans of Tito and his clique . . . I have always held the Soviet Union in devotion and respect . . . Let the Bulgarian people know that I am innocent!’”
(Bell, op. cit., p. 106);

(c) It is a well-known fact that it was Dimitrov that had publicly and ardently expressed himself – at variance with Soviet positions – in favour of a Balkan federation until early 1948. (The Soviet-Yugoslav split began to emerge in March). In an interview on 17 January 1948, he expressed himself in favour of a large federation including Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and eventually Greece. The rebuke came from Pravda on 28 January and on 2 February, at the second Congress of the Fatherland Front, Dimitrov made self-criticism expressing Bulgarian acceptance of the Soviet line;

(d) new documents have recently been declassified in Yugoslav, Bulgarian and Soviet archives with regard to the meeting on 10 February 1948 between delegations from these three countries (Bulgaria being represented by Dimitrov, Kostov and Kolarov).

The meeting’s proceedings amounted to a harsh reproach by the Soviets for Dimitrov’s statement about a federation in Eastern Europe and for Tito’s attempts to send a Yugoslav division into Albania. Emphasized once more were both the incorrectness of these steps and the inadmissibility of any action taken without informing the USSR. The Yugoslav and Bulgarian delegations admitted their “mistakes”.

What resulted from the meeting was the signing on 11 February, as proposed by the Soviet side, of agreements in which an obligation was recognized for consultation on international questions to take place between the USSR and Yugoslavia and between the USSR and Bulgaria.

EXTRACT 4
FROM THE REPORT BY G. MALENKOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) AT THE SECOND CONFERENCE (23 JUNE 1948).

NS:
We discover that Moscow was not in favour of the Communist Party of Albania (CPA) even after the official Soviet/Cominform split with Yugoslavia. Its entry was regarded as “inexpedient” and, it was argued, it would have complicated Albania’s international position, since it hadn’t been admitted to the UN and since its independence was allegedly guaranteed, at that time (i.e., June 1948), by “an agreement between three Powers” reached six years before!

The reference is, in fact, made to the agreement between the governments of the USSR, USA and Great Britain, according to which on 17-18 December 1942 each of the threee powers had made a similar declaration concerning the repudiation of the Italian occupation of Albania and support for the re-establishment of its independence. But already in November and December 1946, the Council of Foreign Ministers in New York had agreed to consider Albania an associated power with regard to the application of the peace treaty with Italy and had also recognized Albania’s right to an indemnity of five million dollars, which was to be paid by Italy in respect to war damages.

Finally, in February 1947, the peace treaty with Italy was signed (and later ratified by Tirana on 24 October 1947): Albania was not one of its signatories but ranked among the victorious states. Accordingly, Italy was bound to respect Albanian independence and Albanian legal and administrative sovereignty was sanctioned over the island of Sazan.

But, indeed, the CPA’s admission to Cominform was rejected on the basis of rather preposterous justifications on the part of the Soviet representative at the second Cominform conference in 1948! And also, Albania hadn’t been admitted at the UNO due to Anglo-American opposition: by 1947 both Washington and London had established diplomatic links with all Eastern European states – except Albania (whose gold, looted by the Germans, continued to remain kept in the vaults of the Bank of England in London).

What about all the Soviet and Cominform calls for struggle against the new American imperialist and warmongering plans to enslave Europe? Particularly in the light of the consistent Marxist-Leninist policies which had been implemented in Albania since its liberation, there can be no doubt that the Albanian communists’ continued exclusion from Cominform – even after Yugoslavia’s withdrawal from the organization – was masterminded by hidden and powerful revisionists within the Soviet leadership.

From Hoxha’s memoirs, it becames crystal clear that Stalin was personally determined to support Albania’s political stands and its independence at that crucial time. For its part, the CPA immediately and unconditionally supported the Soviet and Cominform positions on Yugoslav revisionism. The 9th Plenum of its Central Committee convened between 27 and 30 June 1948, having on its agenda analyses of the three letters addressed to the Communist Party of Yugoslavia by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (on 27 March, 4 and 22 May 1948) and the Cominform resolution on Yugoslavia. Unanimous solidarity with and support for the stands adopted by the CPSU and the Cominform against Yugoslavia were expressed. Consequently, all the agreements and conventions which had been signed with Yugoslavia – except the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Aid of July 1946 (later abrogated by Belgrade in November 1949) – were denounced by Albania. These decisions were made public on 1 July 1948 in a communiquè of the CPA’s Central Committee.

EXTRACT 5
THE REPORT BY M. A. SUSLOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) ON “THE DEFENCE OF PEACE AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST WARMONGERS” AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (16 November 1949):

NS:
This emphasizes and further develops – along the positions expressed by Zhdanov two years earlier – the necessity of maintaining peace and independence as the main task of the communist and workers’ parties. However, two years had elapsed. What had happened to the “transition” correctly discussed by Zhadanov? Was the establishment of a socialist society now forgotten? What about the dictatorship of the proletariat as the indispensable transition stage towards communism?

All these political stands, which effectively dump class struggle for socialism in favour of class collaboration, became included in the final Cominform resolution on “The Defence of Peace and the Struggle against the Warmongers”. As for the other resolution on “Working-Class Unity and the Tasks of the Communist and Workers’ Parties”, this was unanimously approved on the basis on Togliatti’s report on the subject: similar revisionist and right-wing stuff calling for “peace, bread and democratic liberties”! The third approved resolution dealt with “The Communist Party of Yugoslavia in the Power of Murderers and Spies”.

Extract 6
THE SPEECH BY V. CHERVENKOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (17 November 1949).

NS:
Directs a sharp criticism to Kostov who now becomes the scapegoat for former Bulgarian attempts to detatch, together with Tito, the country from the anti-imperialist, democratic camp (namely, the USSR) and to prevent the consistent advancement towards socialism in Bulgaria.

As for Dimitrov’s role in preventing the transition from the first stage of the anti-fascist, democratic revolution to the second, socialist stage, see “Alliance (Marxist-Leninist), n. 12, January 1995 (“Georgii Dimitrov and the Bulgarian Communist Party”).

Kostov was to be executed in December, while Dimitrov had died in July. It was also widely known that they had both coordinated Bulgarian policies towards the USSR and Yugoslavia during the forties. According to Chervenkov, Bulgaria had been able to strengthen its socialist foundations and fight nationalistic deviations only thanks to the Soviet Communist Party and Stalin, who is referred to as the “direct teacher and leader” of the Bulgarian people. Not even a passing reference is made to Dimitrov in Chervenkov’s whole report.

EXTRACT 7:
THE SPEECH BY V. POPTOMOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (18 November 1949);

NS:
Deals with the condemnation of Yugoslav revisionism. I have only selected a few quotations referring to the Balkan federation proposals. Not even in this report is mention made to Dimitrov. In fact, the Bulgarian delegates’ speeches at the third Cominform Conference do imply Dimitrov’s serious responsabilities for right-wing errors which had occurred in the international communist movement and in Bulgaria. From these proceedings, as well, Marxist-Leninists can hardly draw the conclusion that Dimitrov had been an outstanding and consistent Communist fighter during his lifetime.

THE EXTRACTED DOCUMENTS

1. FROM THE REPORT BY A. A. ZHDANOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) “ON THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION” AT THE FIRST CONFERENCE (25 September 1947) (pp. 219, 227,229,251):

“…The new democratic power in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Albania, supported by the mass of the people, has proved capable of carrying through in a very short time progressive democratic changes…a new type of state was created – the People’s Republic, in which power belongs to the people, large-scale industry, transport and the banks belong to the state, and the leding force is a bloc of all the classes of the population who work, headed by the working class. As a consequence, the peoples of these countries have not only been delivered from the clutches of imperialism, they have laid the basis for transition to the path of socialist development…The aim of this [anti-imperialist and democratic] camp is to fight against the threat of new wars and imperilalist expansion, to consolidate democracy and to uproot what remains of fascism…All the forces of the anti-imperialist and anti-fascist camp have rallied to the task of ensuring a just and democratic peace. This is the soil on which the friendly cooperation of the USSR with the democratic countries on all questions of foreign policy has grown and strengthened. These countries, and in the first place, the countries of new democracy – Yugoslavia, Poland, Czechosiovakia, Albania – which played an important part in the war of liberation against fascism, together with Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and, to some extent, Finland, which have joined the anti-fascist front, have all become in the post-war period staunch fighters for peace and democracy, for their own freedom and independence against all attempts by the USA and Britain to reverse the trend of their development and drag them back under the imperialist yoke…The Communists must be the leading force in drawing all anti-fascist, freedom-loving elements into struggle against the new American expansionist plans for subjugating Europe…A special task falls to the Communist Parties of France, Italy, Britain and other countries. They must take up the banner of defence of the national independence and sovereignty of their countries…”

2. FROM THE REPORT BY V. CHERVENKOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) “ON THE ACTIVITY OF THE BULGARIAN WORKERS’ PARTY (COMMUNISTS)” AT THE FIRST CONFERENCE (23 September 1947) (pp. 103):

“. . . We can regard Bulgaria’s international position as having been normalised. The basic line of our foreign policy consists in safeguarding at all costs our national independence and state sovereignty, in co-operation with all freedom-loving peoples. The fundamental principle of this policy, as Comrade Dimitrov has frequently stressed, is eternal friendship with our liberator, the great Soviet Union, fraternal alliance with the new Yugoslavia, and close collaboration with all the other Slav countries and with the other democratic peoples.

The conference held at Bled and the decisions adopted there mark the beginning of a new phase in relations between the new Bulgaria and the new Yugoslavia and signify a big step forward in establishing close rapprochement between them. Decisions were taken at Bled on co-ordinated action and common defence of peace in the Balkans.

We are going to conclude treaties of friendship and mutual aid with Yugoslavia, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Poland which will still further strengthen Bulgaria’s position in the world. . . .”

3. FROM THE SPEECH BY T. KOSTOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE SECOND CONFERENCE (21 JUNE 1948) (pp. 561, 563, 565, 567, 569):

“. . . Comrade KOSTOV says that the CC of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists) received with amazement and alarm the news of the anti-Marxist and anti-Soviet stand of the leaders of the KPJ, because they realise that in the present international situation, which calls for cohesion of all democratic forces under the leadership of the Soviet Union, any split in the democratic camp plays in the hands of the imperialists and is a stab in the back for the forces of democracy. The Bulgarian communists have further ground for anxiety because they were moving towards closer relations with Yugoslavia, going so far as a federation, which was to have strengthened the position of democracy in both countries and facilitated their progress along the road to socialism.

The policy of the present leaders of the KPJ is leading to rupture of the line which had been marked out and advanced for rapprochement between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. . .

. . . Comrade Kostov turns to the question of Bulgaro-Yugoslav relations and, in particular, speaks about the Macedonian question. After the First World War, says Comrade Kostov, Royal Yugoslavia annexed part of Western Bulgaria which remains to this day within the frontiers of Yugoslavia. During the Balkan Wars part of Eastern Macedonia (the Pirin region) became part of Bulgaria. The population of Eastern Macedonia speak Bulgarian and are linked economically with Bulgaria.

The process of forming the Macedonians into a nation was intensified after the creation of the Macedonian People’s Republic within the Yugoslav Federation. Even today, however, this process cannot be reagrded as complete.

Proceeding from the principles of the teaching of Lenin and Stalin, and considering the national question to be a subordinated one, we proposed to the Yugoslav comrades to consider as fundamental the possibility of a closer rapprochement between our two countries which must result in the near future in the creation of a federal state. The national question, too, could find its solution within the framework of a federation. In that there would be no special obstacles to the solution of this question, because in a federation there would be no frontier between Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Until the federation was formed we undertook, on the advice of the Soviet comrades, to promote the national development of the Macedonian people. To this end a hundred teachers were invited from Yugoslav Macedonia, agreement on this being arrived at between Comrades Dimitrov and Tito at Bled. In spite of this, differences continue to exist.

The Yugoslav comrades, especially Djilas, Vukmanovic and Kolisevski, still consider that the Macedonian question should be settled separately from the creation of the federation. Anybody who does not agree with their view they accuse of Greater-Bulgarian chauvinism. They want simply to annex the Pirin region to Yugoslav Macedonia and thereby to weaken Bulgaria. . . .

. . . In the light of the current behaviour of the leaders of the KPJ it has become clear that they were never sincere when they discussed the question of federation, that in their federation Bulgaria would not have had equal rights, that, in reality, they were trying to bring it about that, by means of federation, Tito’s Yugoslavia would become hegemon of the Balkans against the USSR. Evidently, Comrade Kostov concludes, the question of federation must be put aside for the time being. . . .

. . . Comrade Kostov proceeds to describe the situation in the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists) and to criticise certain mistakes made by and defects in this Party. Alongside great achievements there are, says Comrade Kostov, major defects and mistakes in the Party’s work. Inner-Party democracy does not prevail at the level it should. Criticism and self criticism have not yet become the basic driving force in the Party. The CC itself does not yet work as a firmly welded collective, and command methods in relation to the Party organisations have not yet been fully outgrown. There has been no Party Congress for 20 years: since 9 September 1944 the CC has confined itself to convening enlarged plenums and conferences.

Comrade Kostov mentions the unfavourable state of affairs in respect of the Party’s social composition. There are persons in it who ought to be merely candidates for membership. Certain Party members have in the past sabotaged government decisions on grain-procurement. Some have joined the Party with venal aims and some Party organisations are being torn apart by squabbles over the allotment of jobs. Within a short space of time the Party has increased its membership twentyfold, from 25,000 to 500,000.

Taking account of the danger inherent in excessive growth of the Party, the CC has taken measures to restrict recruiting, and at the moment recruiting is suspended until the congress takes place, when a probationary period for candidates for Party membership will be laid down.

Comrade Kostov says that he considers his Party’s line to be fundamentally correct. They have achieved serious successes, smashed the forces of reaction, strengthened the Fatherland Front and proceeded to lay the foundations of a socialist economy. A correct general line does not mean, however, says Comrade Kostov, that the Party is free from mistakes and defects. The Party has these: underestimation of the class struggle, illusions about the possibility of softening this struggle in the conditions of present-day Bulgaria, failure to have a clear notion of the roads and tempos of developoment, talk of harmoniously combining the state, co-operative and private sectors in the economy, and so on. But all these mistakes have been corrected in good time, often thanks to advice from the CC of the VKP(B) and comrade Stalin personally.

All these mistakes of ours resulted in a number of cases in slowing down the pace of our struggle and our advance. In some cases, though, we ran too far ahead, as with the formulation about complete liquidation of the antagonistic classes. . . .

. . . On behalf of the Political Bureau of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists) Comrade Kostov declares his agreement with the conclusions of Comrade Zhdanov’s report on the situation in the KPJ.”

4. FROM THE REPORT BY G. MALENKOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) AT THE SECOND CONFERENCE (23 JUNE 1948) (pp. 601, 603):

“. . . We must also, says Comrade Malenkov, tell the Information Bureau that the CC of the CP of Albania has also expressed desire that their Party join the Information Bureau. We should like to state our view on this, namely, that it must be explained to the Albanian comrades that for the present it would be inexpedient for their Party to enter the Information Bureau. Our motives for this decision are these. The independence of Albania is at present guaranteed by an agreement between three Powers, Albania has not yet been admitted to the United Nations Organisation and there can be no doubt but that joining the Information Bureau in this international situation would complicate Albania’s international position, which is delicate enough even without that. It seems to us that the Albanian comrades agree with these reasons. We think that the Albanian comrades, too, should be kept informed of the activity of the Information Bureau. . . .”

5. FROM THE REPORT BY M. A. SUSLOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) ON “THE DEFENCE OF PEACE AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST WARMONGERS” AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (16 November 1949) (pp. 699, 701, 705):

“. . . The change in the relation of forces in the world arena in favour of the camp of peace and democracy evokes fresh outbursts of frenzied fury in the camp of imperialism and warmongering. . . .
. . . In this situation in which the danger of another war is intensifying, a great historical responsibility is imposed on the Communist and Workers’ Parties. They must use every means of struggle to ensure a firm and long-lasting peace, subordinating all their activity to this, the central task at the present time . . . .

. . . It is the duty of the Communist and Workers’ Parties in the capitalist countries to merge together the fight for national independence and the fight for peace, tirelessly to expose the anti-national, traitorous nature of the policy of the bourgeois governments, which have been turned into direct bailiffs for American imperialism, to unite and weld together all the democratic and patriotic forces of each country around the slogans of doing away with the shameful slavery to America and going over to an independent external and internal policy which corresponds to the national interests of the people. The Communist and Workers’ Parties must hold high the banner of protection of the national independence and sovereignty of their countries.

The Communist and Workers’ Parties must unite the broad masses for defence of democratic rights and liberties, tirelessly explaining to them that defence of peace is inseparably bound up with defence of the vital interests of the working class and all the working people, that the fight for peace is at the same time a fight against poverty, hunger and fascism.

Particularly important tasks face the Communist Parties of France, Italy, and Britain, West Germany and other countries whose peoples the American imperialists want to use as cannon-fodder for carrying out their aggressive plans. Their duty is to develop still more strongly the fight for peace, to frustrate the criminal designs of the Anglo-American warmongers.

To the Communist and Workers’ Parties of the people’s democracies and the Soviet Union falls the task, while opposing the imperialist warmongers and their accomplices, of further strengthening the camp of peace and socialism, for the defence of peace and the security of the peoples. . . .”

6. FROM THE SPEECH BY V. CHERVENKOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (17 November 1949) (pp. 749, 751, 753, 755, 757):

“. . . At the present time the question of the defence of peace and national independence is the decisive question for the working class and the Communist Parties.
Since the time of the first conference of the Information Bureau, says Comrade Chervenkov, our Party has achieved important successes on the consolidation of people’s democracy in Bulgaria. . . .

. . . the people’s democracy of Bulgaria has been substantially reinforced, both economically and politically, in the past two years. One of the most important factors in this reinforcement is the nation-wide and profound nature of Bulgarian-Soviet friendship, which is a most important driving force in our social development. . . .

. . . Our working people see Comrade Stalin as our direct teacher and leader. . . .

. . . ruthless struggle against any manifestations of nationalism within the CP is a direct duty, an absolutely necessary precondition, or more correctly, a component part of the fight for peace.

Comrade Chervenkov stresses that nationalism not only helps the warmongers, it is actually the ideology of the enemies of peace, the enemies of the Soviet Union, the warmongers themselves. Nationalists are direct agents of imperialism. . . .

. . . What we are dealing with is a plan by the imperialists to subvert the Communist Party from within, to implant nationalists espionage agents in the Party. . . .

. . . Comrade Chervenkov says that with the direct aid of the CC of the VKP(B) and of Comrade Stalin personally – for which the Bulgarian people will be forever grateful – Kostov, the former secretary of the Party’s CC was exposed.

What did Kostov turn out to be? A British spy. He confessed that he had been recruited by British intelligence so far back as 1942 and that since 1944 he had had links with the Tito clique.

On the orders of the Anglo-American intelligence agents in our country and in conjunction with the Tito-ites, Kostov formed in the Party and the state apparatus a group of persons, spies like himself, who sought by various ways and means, exploiting our weakness, trustfulness, and carelessness, to damage the Party and the state primarily in the economic sphere, and to prepare, with the Tito-ites’s help, to detach Bulgaria from the Soviet Union, restore capitalism, and bring Bulgaria into the camp of imperialism.

This separation of Bulgaria from the Soviet Union they proposed to bring about by using the slogan of a federation of the Southern Slavs and a Balkan Federation. Of course, says Comrade Chervenkov, Kostov’s federation of the Southern Slavs had nothing and has nothing in common with what we mean by an alliance of the Southern Slavs, since Kostov’s federation of the Southern Slavs was to have been directed against the USSR. The Kostovites wanted to unite Bulgaria with Yugoslavia, and counted on military help from the Tito-ites…

. . . Our successes, says Comrade Chervenkov, would have been very much greater but for the wrecking done by the Kostovites. They did damage mainly through distorting in practice the policy of the Party and the governrnent, thereby creating discontent among the people. They harmed us especially in the sphere of our econornic policy, in our relations with the peasants. . . .

. . . All the preparation for the coming elections to the organs of state power is proceeding under the sign of ruthless criticism of shortcomings and determined reorganisation of our work. Comrade Chervenkov says that the whole of the Party’s work is being subjected to thorough criticism, along with the work of the state apparatus and of the social and economic organs. The working people are being very vigorously involved in creative criticism of shortcomings and weaknesses.

Speaking of the Party’s immediate tasks, Comrade Chervenkov emphasises that it is first of all necessary to purge the Party, from top to bottom, of Kostovites and of all who maintain a conciliatory attitude to them. This task will be carried out. Although a Party purge has not been formally announced, purging of the Party’s ranks is going on, and after the Kostov trial this purge will be pursued still more vigorously.

It must be said, Comrade Chervenkov observes, that we exposed Kostov in good time. That we owe to the VKP(B) and Comrade Stalin.

The fight against the Kostovites, says Comrade Chervenkov, has welded our Party together as never before. Vigilance has been heightened, inner-Party democracy has been extended and strengthened, and the process of Bolshevik tempering of the Party is progressing. We realise that Kostov was not, of course, alone. Kostovites have hidden themselves in the Party. But they will not be able to go on hiding after the exposure of Kostov and his principal associates. . . .”

7. FROM THE SPEECH BY V. POPTOMOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (18 November 1949) (pp. 935, 937):

“. . . The Tito-ites now not only do not conceal their territorial pretentions regarding Bulgaria, they quite openly and impudently speak of their intervention to seize the Pirin district – Bulgarian Macedonia. They are negotiating with the Greek monarcho-fascists not only about strangling the national liberation movement in Greece, and not only about dividing Albania with them, but also about forming a united front against Bulgaria. . . .

. . . The task of Trajcho Kostov’s gang was, with the aid of the Tito-ites, to take all power in Bulgaria into its hands, and then to wrest it from the Soviet Union and the front of peace and democracy, and behind the screen of some sort of federation to join the country to Tito’s Yugoslavia, i.e., to make it an actual colony of American imperialism. . . .

. . . Comrade Poptomov notes that the Tito clique, which previously did all it could to prevent the realization of a South-Slav federation, is now trying to appear as a warm supporter of such a federation, trying in this way to speculate on the fraternal feelings of these two Slav peoples, trying to give the slogan of a South-Slav federation an anti-Soviet character which would help to bring about a breakaway of the South Slavs from the Soviet Union. This same speculation is being practised by the Tito-ites with the slogans about a Balkan and a Balkan-Danubian federation, in an attempt to create a bloc of the peoples of South-Eastern Europe directed against the Soviet Union. . . .”

END

Resolution of the Information Bureau Concerning the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, June 28, 1948

 

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The Information Bureau, composed of the representatives of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists), Rumanian Workers’ Party, Hungarian Workers’ Party, Polish Workers’ Party, The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Communist Party of France, Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the Communist Party of Italy, upon discussing the situation in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and announcing that the representatives of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia bad refused to attend the meeting of the Information Bureau, unanimously reached the following conclusions:

1. The Information Bureau notes that recently the leadership of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia has pursued an incorrect line on the main questions of home and foreign policy, a line which represents a departure from Marxism-Leninism. In this connection the Information Bureau approves the action of the Central Committee of the CPSU(B), which took the initiative in exposing this incorrect policy of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, particularly the incorrect policy of Comrades Tito, Kardell, Djilas and Rankovic.

2. The Information Bureau declares that the leadership of the Yugoslav Communist Party is pursuing an unfriendly policy toward the Soviet Union and the CPSU (B). An undignified policy of defaming Soviet military experts and discrediting the Soviet Union, has been carried out in Yugoslavia. A special regime was instituted for Soviet civilian experts in Yugoslavia, whereby. they were under surveillance of Yugoslav state security organs and were continually followed. . . .

The Information Bureau denounces this anti-Sovict attitude of the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, as being incompatible with Marxism-Leninism and only appropriate to nationalists.

3. In home policy, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia are departing from the positions of the working class and are breaking with the Marxist theory of classes and class struggle. They deny that there is a growth of capitalist elements in their country, and consequently, a sharpening of the class struggle in the countryside. This denial is the direct result of the opportunist tenet that the class struggle does not become sharper during the period of transition from capitalism to socialism, as Marxism-Leninism teacbes, but dies down, as was affirmed by opportunists of the Bukharin type, who propagated the theory of the peaceful growing over of capitalism into socialism.

The Yugoslav leaders are pursuing an incorrect policy in the countryside by ignoring the class differentiation in the countryside and by regarding the individual peasantry as a single entity, contrary to the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of classes and class struggle, contrary to the well-known Lenin thesis that small individual farming gives birth to capitalism and the bourgeoisie continually, daily, hourly, spontaneously and on a mass scale. . . .

Concerning the leading role of the working class, the leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party, bv affirming that the peasantry is the ‘most stable foundation of the Yugoslav state’ are departing from the Marxist-Leninist path and are taking the path of a populist, Kulak party. Lenin taught that the proletariat as the ‘only class in contemporary society which is revolutionary to the end . . . must be the leader in the struggle of the entire people for a thorough democratic transformation, in the struggle of all working people and the exploited against the oppressors and exploiters!

The Yugoslav leaders are violating this thesis of Marxism-Leninism. . . .

4. The Information Bureau considers that the leadership of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia is revising the Marxist-Leninist teachings about the Party. . .

The Information Bureau believes that this policy of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia threatens the very existence of the Communist Party, and ultimatelv carries with it the danger of the degeneration of the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia.

5. The Information Bureau considers that the bureaucratic regime created inside the Party by its leaders is disastrous for the life and development of the Yugoslav Communist Party. There is no inner Party democracy, no elections, and no criticism and self-criticism in the Party. . . .

It is a completely intolerable state of affairs when the most elementary rights of members in the Yugoslav Communist Party are suppressed, when the slightest criticism of incorrect measures in the Party is brutally repressed. . . .

The Information Bureau considers that such a disgraceful, purely Turkish, terrorist regime cannot be tolerated in the Communist Party. The interests of the very existence and development of the Yugoslav Communist Party demand that an end be put to this regime.

6. The Information Bureau considers that the criticism made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (B) and Central Committees of the other Communist Parties of the mistakes of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, and who ill this way rendered fraternal assistance to the Yugoslav Communist Party, provides the Communist Party of Yugoslavia with all the conditions necessary to speedily correct the mistakes committed.

However, instead of honestly accepting this criticism and taking the Bolshevik path of correcting these mistakes, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, suffering from boundless ambition, arrogance and conceit, met this criticism with belligerarice and hostility. . . .

7. Taking into account the situation in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, and seeking to show the leaders of the Party the way out of this situation, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (B) and the Central Committees of other fraternal parties, suggested that the matter of the Yugoslav Communist Party should be discussed at a meeting of the Information Bureau, on the same, normal party footing as that on which the activities of other Communist Parties were discussed at the first meeting of the Information Bureau.

However, the Yugoslav leaders rejected the repeated suggestions of the fraternal Communist Parties to discuss the situation in the Yugoslav Party at a meeting of the Information Bureau. . . .

8. In view of this, the Information Bureau expresses complete agreement with the estimation of the situation in the Yugoslav Communist Partv, with the criticism of the mistakes of the Central Committee of the Party, and with the political analysis of these mistakes contained in letters from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (B) to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia between March and May 1948.

The Information Bureau unanimously concludes that by their anti-Party and anti-Soviet views, incompatible with Marxism-Leninism, by their whole attitude and their refusal to attend the meeting of the Information Bureau, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia have placed themselves in opposition to the Communist Parties affiliated to the Information Bureau, have taken the path of seceding from the united socialist front against imperialism, have taken the path of betraying the cause of international solidarity of the working people, and have taken up a position of nationalism.

The Information Bureau condemns this anti-Party policy and attitude of the Central Cominittee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.

The Information Bureau considers that, in view of all this, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia has placed itself and the Yugoslav Party outside the family of the fraternal Communist Parties, outside the united Communist front and consequently outside the ranks of the Information Bureau.

[…]

The Information Bureau does not doubt that inside the Communist Party of Yugoslavia there are sufficient healthy elements, loyal to Marxism-Leninism, to the international traditions of the Yugoslav Communist Party and to the United Socialist front.

Their task is to compel their present leaders to recognize their mistakes openly and honestly and to rectify them; to break with nationalism, return to internationalism; and in every way to consolidate the united socialist front against imperialism.

Should the present leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party prove incapable of doing this, their job is to replace them and to advance a new internationalist leadership of the Party.

The Information Bureau does not doubt that the Cominunist Party of Yugoslavia will be able to fulfill this honourable task.

Source: Royal Institute of International Affairs, The Soviet-Yugoslav Dispute (London and New York, 1948), pp. 61-70., excerpts.

Bill Bland: Enver Hoxha As World Statesman

November 1945, preparing to take Tirana; from p.100

November 1945, preparing to take Tirana; from p.100

Hoxha at the Permet Congress 1944; p.64

Hoxha at the Permet Congress 1944; p.64

On Red Square podium, Novmber 1947, with J.V.Stalin & V.Molotov; p.104

On Red Square podium, Novmber 1947, with J.V.Stalin & V.Molotov; p.104

ALL IMAGES FROM “ENVER HOXHA”; Tirana

(Talk by Bill Bland to an Albanian Society meeting in 1985)

Transcribed by Comrade NS

I feel that the title of my address – “Enver Hoxha as World Statesmen” – must have caused some raised eyebrows. Whether they like their policies or not, most people would accept Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachov as world statesmen. But Enver Hoxha was the leader of a small country, the size of Wales with a population of less than three millions. Can the leader of a small country ever really be a statesman, or stateswoman, of world stature?

But it is only a few years ago that tens of thousands of people were marching through the streets of cities all over the world shouting with approval the name of Ho Chi Minh. Ho’s politics were not the same as those of Enver Hoxha, but he was the leader of a small country which inflicted on the powerful United States of America the first military defeat in its history.

Albania too has successfully resisted attempts at absorption, invasion, dismemberment and destabilisation from Greece, from Yugoslavia, from the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin, from China, from Britain and from the United States. It has constructed a planned socialist economy which is, at present, unique in the world.

How has it come about that Albania has followed, in the last forty years, such a different course of development from that of other countries of south-eastern Europe?

The cause cannot be found in any geographical or historical peculiarities of Albania. It lies in the specific character of the leadership of the political party which has been the leading force in Albanian society during these forty years. And pre-eminent in that leadership over these four decades was Enver Hoxha, who died in April at the age of 76.

Some people have expressed surprised that Hoxha’s death should have been reported with such virulent hostility by almost all our press, radio and television. But they should not be surprised.

The successful construction of a planned socialist society in Albania – a society without profit, without millionaires, without unemployment, without inflation, without taxes and with constantly rising living standards – is a threat to everything which “The Sunday Times” and the BBC hold up as “Western civilisation”.

Enver Hoxha would not have been surprised at his obituaries in the British media. When the British press praises someone who call himself a “socialist”, it is time to question the genuineness of his “socialism”. And, of course, this hostile propaganda does not have entirely the results it aims at. In the week in which these obituaries were published, the Albanian society received more applications for membership than in any month in the past twenty-five years. One miner from South Wales wrote to me:

    “Having read the newspaper reports on the death of Enver Hoxha, my experience of the press over the twelve months of the miners’ strike leads me to want to know more about Albania”.

On the other hand, some people were naturally misled by this propaganda. I received several letters which said, in effect:

    “I do not understand why, in your letter of protest to the BBC, you denied that Enver Hoxha was a ‘dictator’. Surely, the Albanian Constitution defines the Albanian state as a ‘dictatorship’”.

Indeed, it does.

But it defines the Albanian state as “the dictatorship of the working class”, not that of an individual. This simply means that the political power in Albania is in the hands of the working class, that the working class rules. Albanians do not present “the dictatorship of the working class” as the opposite of democracy. On the contrary, using the term “democracy” with its classical Greek meaning of “the rule of the common people”, they maintain that working class power is the only genuine democracy.

The Party of Labour of Albania regards Britain as a dictatorship – as a state in which political power is in reality in the hands of Big Business. But they do not imply by that term that Margaret Thatcher is a personal dictator. Nevertheless, the leader of the ruling party in Britain has somewhat more constitutional power than the leader of the ruling party in Albania: he or she is automatically Prime Minister and has the right to appoint and dismiss Ministers.

The leadership of the Party of Labour of Albania, which forms the core of the Albanian society, has always been a collective one, although Enver Hoxha was pre-eminent in that leadership. But this position of pre-eminence was the result of Hoxha’s outstanding abilities and devoted service to the working people, and the respect and love which flowed from these qualities.

Let us look more closely at the causes of Albania’s unique course of social development.

Today, the social system in Greece is very different from that in neighboring Albania. Yet in 1944 the situation in the two countries was closely similar. Both were under German occupation; both had national liberation movements led by their respective communist parties; both had right-wing spurious “nationalist” movements, supported by British gold and weapons, which fought the national liberation movements in collaboration with the Nazi forces; in both countries British troops landed, ostensibly to “help” in liberation.

It was the different reaction of the two communist parties which gave rise to the different outcome in the two countries.

The leaders of the so-called “Communist Party of Greece” signed a truce with the right-wing collaborators, placed their forces under the command of the right-wing government-in-exile and of the British Commander-in-Chief, welcomed the British troops.

The leaders of the Communist Party of Albania – today the Party of Labour – destroyed the collaborationist forces; they thanked the British troops for their “offer of help’ but insisted that they withdraw from Albanian soil. They did so.

Let us look at another facet of Albania’s unique course of development.

In 1945 the countries of Eastern Europe (except for Greece) were following the model of the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin in constructing planned socialist societies based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism.

Today only Albania continues to adhere to those principles.

Admittedly, this is not the impression one gets from the pages of “Pravda”. But like our “popular” press, this is now a newspaper which aims not at the truth, but at misleading the masses.

If one studies the specialised Soviet economic journals a very different picture emerges. The so-called “economic reforms” instituted after the death of Stalin have abandoned central economic planning; the profitability of each enterprise has become once more the motive and regulator of production.

True, these profits – as in orthodox “profit-sharing” schemes in the “West” – are shared among the whole staff of the enterprise. But they are distributed according to what is termed “responsibility in profit-making”, which means that the lion’s share goes to management. The latest statistics show that 51% of the profits go to workers (who form 96% of the personnel), while 49% go to management (who form 4% of the personnel).

The restoration of the profit motive in the Soviet Union has meant reliance on market forces, on the laws of “supply and demand”. This means, as elsewhere, that it is often more profitable to produce luxury items for the wealthy than necessities of life for the working people.

Enver Hoxha described contemporary Soviet society as essentially a capitalist society, in which the working people were exploited by a new ruling class, a new capitalist class – the enterprise directors. He noted that all the negative phenomena which are associated with capitalism have began to reappear – crises of “over-production”, inflation, redundancy, etc.

True, the Soviet economic journals do not speak of “unemployment”, only of “surplus labour”. To solve this problem a “youth employment scheme” has been established, and an official campaign that “a woman’s place is in the home”! Letters are published calling – not, of course, for “unemployment benefit”, but for “stipends” for workers who are “between jobs”.

Such development has proceeded – sometimes faster, sometimes slower – in all the formerly socialist countries of eastern Europe, except for Albania.

Whereas the Albanian constitution prohibits foreign aid and credits, the other countries are obliged not only to the Soviet Union, but to Western financial institutions. The hard currency indebtedness of Bulgaria stands at $9 billion, of Hungary at $10 billion, of Yugoslavia at $19 billion and of Poland at $26 billion (on which it cannot pay even the interest due).

Official figures show that in Poland the real wages of the workers fell between 1981 and 1984 by more than 30%.

Inflation in Poland is running at 38% a year, in Yugoslavia at 57%.

Unemployment in Yugoslavia stands at 13% of the work force (30% in the Albanian province of Kosova).

There were, of course, prominent Albanians who sought to lead Albania along this same road of, in Hoxha’s words, “capitalist degeneration”.

It was, above all, Hoxha who led the ideological struggle against the views of these individuals. These struggles are usually portrayed in our press as “personal power struggles”. There were nothing of the sort. There were in each case struggles around principle – with Hoxha standing successfully for the maintenance of independence and socialism for his country.

Whether one is a socialist or not, the question of socialism – how to attain it and how to maintain it – is a question of international importance.

Marxism-Leninism has always held that the state in capitalist countries is always – no matter what its parliamentary trappings – in reality the dictatorship of Big Business. It has always held, therefore, that this state apparatus of force will be used against any attempt to establish a socialist society, so that the working people must be prepared for revolutionary struggle. It has always held that the belief that a fundamental change in society can be attained through the ballot box alone is a dangerous illusion. This does not necessarily mean a bloody and protracted civil war – the number of people who died in the October Revolution in Russia was far less than the number killed on the roads of Manchester on a typical summer Sunday. Hoxha’s famous dictum was:

    “The more the working people are prepared for revolutionary struggle, the greater the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism”.

Most of the old communist parties, however, have rejected these fundamental tenets of Marxism-Leninism in favor of the concept of “parliamentary transition to socialism”. In Hoxha’s words, they have become “revisionists”, they have “revised” Marxism-Leninism by repudiating its fundamental core.

The leading role in the struggle against this “modern revisionism” was undoubtedly played by Enver Hoxha, who adhered all his adult life firmly to Marxist-Leninist principles. And, as I said, whether one is a socialist or not, these are questions of world importance. Hoxha’s leading role in these questions makes him, in this respect too, a world figure.

Furthermore, he was the author of a whole series of books, not only upon Albania, but on Yugoslavia, on the Soviet Union, on China, on the Middle East, and so on, which are essential reading for any serious student of world affairs.

But it is as the principal architect of Socialist Albania that Enver Hoxha’s qualities of leadership shine most clearly and obviously.

In forty years Albania has been transformed from the most backward country in Europe to an advanced industrialised state.

Where else in the world can one find no unemployment, with the right to work enshrined in the Constitution?

Where else can one find dwelling rents at 3% of income?

Where else can one find no rates, taxes or social service contributions combined with a free health service?

Where else can one find non-contributory pensions at 70% of pay, payable as young as 55 in certain occupations?

A visitor goes from Britain – with its barren industrial waste lands, with its four million unemployed, with its declining social services – to Albania to find a country which is one huge construction site, to a country whose people have well-founded confidence that each year their living standards will improve as production rises.

Some visiting newspaper reporters claim to find Albania “dull’.

They find no Soho “strip-tease” shows, no Mayfair gambling casinos, no pornographic magazines, no heroin pushers, no “pop” music. Enver Hoxha once said:

    “Our young people have no need of drugs to escape from reality”.

Perhaps these reporters find Albanian sporting events dull because one can go to a football match there and cheer for the away team without the risk of getting a knife in one’s back!

Where but in Albania one could go to the cinema for the equivalent of 15 pence?

What other country in the world with a population of less than three millions has 7 symphony orchestras and produces some 15 feature films a year?

Perhaps those who find Albania “dull” have had their cultural values corrupted!

One has only to look at pictures of Albania prior to 1939 – pictures which show its utter backwardness, its poor and illiterate working people, to understand the respect and affection which the overwhelming majority of the Albanian people held for the principal architect of their social progress – Enver Hoxha, to understand the genuine and spontaneous grief which was exhibited at his funeral.

Several monuments to Enver Hoxha are to be erected in Albania.

But the ordinary Albanian may well say – in the words of the inscription to our own Christopher Wren in St. Paul’s Cathedral –

    “If you seek a monument, look around!”

I want to conclude by reading to you the translation of a poem, written the day after Enver Hoxha’s death . . . It expresses eloquently, I feel, the feelings of most Albanians.

Note From Alliance – Regrettably the text of this poem, or its name or identity of its author, is not known to us. 

Source

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on Georgii Dimitrov

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Dimitrov, Georgii Mikhailovich 

Born June 18, 1882, in the village of Kovachevtsi, Pernik District, Bulgaria; died July 2, 1949, in Barvikha, near Moscow. Leader of the Bulgarian and international workers’ movement. Son of a craftsman.

At 12 years of age, Dimitrov went to work as an apprentice typesetter; he was elected secretary of the printers’ union in Sofia in 1901. In 1902 he joined the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party, siding with its revolutionary-Marxist wing. When the party split in 1903, this wing became an independent party, the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party (Narrow Socialists) [which in 1919 was renamed the Bulgarian Communist Party (Narrow Socialists), the BCP (NS)]. Dimitrov was elected a member of the Central Committee of the party in 1909 and remained in the leadership until his death. He was a leader of the Revolutionary Trade Union Federation from 1905 to 1923, becoming secretary in 1909, and actively participated in organizing the important activities of the Bulgarian proletariat, including the strikes of the coal miners in Pernik in 1906 and 1911, the strikes of the match factory workers in Kostenec in 1909, and the rail-waymen’s strikes of 1919-20.

During the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, Dimitrov denounced the chauvinist and expansionist policy of the Bulgarian bourgeoisie, making use of the Parliament, where he served as a deputy from 1913 to 1923, as his forum. He was repeatedly persecuted for his active antiwar work. Dimitrov participated in the First (1909) and Second (1915) Balkan Social Democratic conferences, where he struggled to consolidate the international organizational ties of the Bulgarian proletariat and opposed opportunism in the international workers’ movement. On the eve of and during World War I, Dimitrov denounced Bulgarian nationalism. As a deputy in Parliament, he voted against war credits and opposed Bulgaria’s participation in the imperialist war. He helped to popularize the slogans and cause of the Great October Socialist Revolution and fought for the defense of the Soviet republic. In 1921 he participated in the work of the Third Congress of the Comintern, where he met V. I. Lenin. In the same year he was elected a member of the executive bureau of the Profintern. Dimitrov, with V. P. Kolarov, led an antifascist armed uprising in September 1923. He emigrated from Bulgaria after the uprising was suppressed. The fascist authorities of Bulgaria sentenced Dimitrov to death in absentia. In emigration, Dimitrov was a member of the foreign bureau of the Bulgarian Communist Party (Narrow Socialists), worked on the Executive Committee of the Communist International and the executive bureau of the Profintern, and was the secretary of the Balkan Communist Federation.

Dimitrov was arrested in Berlin in 1933, after the German Reichstag fire on a fabricated charge of arson. At the Leipzig trial staged by the German fascists, which took place from September 21 to December 23, 1933, Dimitrov unmasked the Hitlerite provocateurs, held high the banner of proletarian internationalism, and dealt a crushing moral and political blow to fascism. The failure to substantiate the charge and the worldwide protest movement compelled the fascist court to acquit Dimitrov and the other accused Communists.

The Soviet Union granted citizenship to Dimitrov, and he lived in the USSR from 1934 to 1945. He was elected a deputy of the Leningrad Soviet in 1934 and was general secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International from 1935 until the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943. Dimitrov was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 1937 to 1945. During World War II, Dimitrov took the lead in founding (in 1942) the Fatherland Front of Bulgaria. The front, led by Dimitrov, played an important role in mobilizing the popular masses of Bulgaria in the struggle against the fascist invaders and in the victory of the revolution of Sept. 9, 1944. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarded Dimitrov the Order of Lenin in 1945 for his outstanding services in the struggle against fascism. On Nov. 6, 1945, Dimitrov returned to his native Bulgaria, becoming chairman of the council of ministers in November 1946 and general secretary of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party in December 1948. Holding these posts, he directed the establishment of people’s democracy in Bulgaria, dexterously applying the general principles of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete historical and national conditions of Bulgaria. The promulgation of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria on Sept. 15, 1946, the adoption of the popular-democratic constitution on Dec. 4, 1947, and the implementation of radical socialist transformations are all associated with Dimitrov’s name. In the political report of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists) to the Fifth Congress of the party in December 1948, Dimitrov formulated the general line for building the foundations of socialism in Bulgaria and provided a Marxist-Leninist analysis of people’s democracy as one of the historical forms of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Dimitrov was an ardent fighter for the strengthening of Bulgarian-Soviet friendship. He opposed revisionism and leftist dogmatism in the international workers’ movement, supported the strengthening of the anti-imperialist camp, and favored the coordination of the activities of Communist and workers’ parties on the basis of Marxism-Leninism.

Dimitrov’s coffin was interred in a specially constructed mausoleum in Sofia. The Bulgarian people honor Dimitrov’s memory, and the People’s Republic of Bulgaria has established an Order of Georgii Dimitrov. The new town of Dimitrovgrad and a number of the largest new projects bear his name. The Young Communist League of Bulgaria is also named after Dimitrov. Dimitrov Prizes have been established for achievements in science, technology, literature, and art. Dimitrov’s home in Sofia is now a museum.

WORKS

Sochineniia, vols. 1-14. Sofia, 1951-55.
Izbrannye proizvedeniia, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1957.
V bor’be za edinyi front protiv fashizma i voiny. Moscow, 1939.
Leiptsigskii protsess: Rechi, pis’ma i dokumenty. Moscow, 1961.
Protiv fashizma: Izbrani proizvedeniia. Sofia, 1969.

REFERENCES

Blagoeva, S. Georgi Dimitrov. Moscow, 1951.
Georgii Dimitrov: Kratkii biograficheskii ocherk. Sofia, 1948.
Georgii Mikhailovich Dimitrov 1882-1949: [Materialy]. [Moscow] 1949.
V pamet na velikiia naroden sin Georgi Dimitrov. Sofia, 1950.
Savova, E. Georgi Dimitrov, Letopis na zhivota i revoliutsionnata mu deinost. Sofia, 1952.
Savova, E. Georgi Dimitrov: Bibliografiia. Sofia, 1968.
Koren’kov, A. Georgii Dimitrov. Moscow, 1962.
Sokhan’, P. Plamennyi revoliutsioner: Zhizn’ i revoliutsionnaia deiatel’nost’ G. Dimitrova. Kiev, 1962.

L. B. VALEV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

On the deaths in Stalin’s USSR

joseph-stalin-1949

In the West, when Stalin’s name is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the “millions of deaths” under his “ruthless regime”. For decades, fascist and capitalist propagandists alike perpetuated this vision of Stalin as a monster, employing the best World War 2 and Cold War propagandists to slander Stalin’s role as a statesman. What is the truth behind this claims? I hope to shed some light on the matter.

As has been now resolved, the varying numbers of deaths under the Stalin administration are a product of propaganda, and have hence been wildly exaggerated. The evidence found in Russian archives, opened up by the capitalist roader Yeltsin, put the total number of death sentences from 1923 to 1953, the post-Lenin Soviet Union, between 775,866 and 786,098a. To this we must add up the 40,000 who may have been executed without trial and unofficiallyb. If we add up the numbers, what we get achieve is 800,000 executions in a period of 36 years, less than the lives claimed by the dictatorship of the CIA-backed anti-communist Suharto in Indonesia in a time span of 2 years. This is not to say the deaths are to be condoned, but it raises an important question: if less lives have been claimed by the Soviet Union under Stalin than Suharto’s Indonesia, why is Stalin demonized to that extent when Suharto is rarely even known among pro-capitalists?

We shall answer this question in a future post about cultural hegemony, let’s now continue with our examination of Soviet deaths. Because the figure of 800,000 executions includes those persons sentenced to death but had, for instance, their sentences reduceda, this too may be an overestimation. In fact, in a research by Vinton, evidence has been provided indicating that the number of executions was significantly below the number of civilian prisoners sentenced to death in the USSR, with only 7,305 executions in a sample of 11,000 prisoners authorized to be executed in 1940 (or around 60%)c. In addition, 681,692 of the 780,000 or so death sentences were issued during the Great Purge (1937-1938 period)a.

Initially, the NKVD, under Yezhov’s orders, set a cap of 186,500 imprisonments and 72,950 death penalties for a 1937 special operation to combat the threat of foreign and internal subversion. The operation was decided upon after the discovery of Bonapartist plots against the government, led by Tukhacevsky, whose links with opportunist factions within the Party caused total panic. The NKVD’s orders had to be carried out by troikas, 3-men tribunalsa. As the troikas passed sentences before the accused had even been arrested, local authorities requested increases in their own quotas, and there was an official request in 1938 for a doubling of the amount of prisoner transport that had been initially requisitioned to carry out the original campaign quotas of the tribunalsd.

However, even if there had been twice as many actual executions as originally planned, which I would doubt, the number would still be less than 150,000. Many, in fact, may have had their death sentence refused or revoked by authorities before arrest or execution could take place, especially since Stalin, Molotov and Beria later realized that excesses had been committed in the 1937-38 period (the Great Purge), had a number of convictions overturned, and had many of the responsible local leaders punishede. Soviet records indicate only about 300,000 actual arrests for anti-Soviet activities or political crimes during this 1937-1938 interval. With a ratio of 1 execution for every 3 arrests as originally specified by the NKVD, that would imply about 100,000 executions. Since some of the people sentenced to death may have already been in confinement, and since there is some evidence of a 50,000 increase in the total number of deaths in labor camps over the 1937-38 interval that was probably caused by such executions, the total number executed by the troika campaign would probably be around 150,000a. There were also 30,514 death sentences passed by military courts and 4,387 by regular courts during the 1937-38 period, but, even if all these death sentences were carried out, the total number remains under 200,000. Such a low number seems especially likely given the fact that aggregate death rates from all causes throughout the Soviet Union were actually lower in 1937-38 than in prior yearsf, possibly a result of universal health care, vaccination and an improvement in living standards.

Assuming the remaining 100,000 or so death sentences passed in the other years of Stalin’s administration (1923-1936 and 1939-53) resulted in a 60% execution rate, as per the Vinton sample, the total number executed by the Soviet Union during the period would be about 250,000. Even with the thousands executed between 1917 and 1921, it is plausible that the number of unarmed civilians killed between 1917-1953 amounted to considerably less than a quarter million given that thousands of these victims may have been Soviet soldiers, given that many may have been armed bandits and guerrillas, and given that at least 14,000 of the actual executions were of foreign prisoners of warc.

A USA former attache to the Soviet Union, George Kennan, has stated that the number executed was really only in the tens of thousandsg, and so it is very likely that the true number of people killed by the Soviet Union over its entire history (including the thousands killed in Afghanistan) is too small for the country to make it even in the top ten in mass murders (unlike the United States of America, but that’s for another day). There were no doubt many innocent victims during the 1937-38 Stalin purge, but it should also be mentioned that there is substantial evidence from the Soviet archives of Soviet citizens advocating treasonable offenses such as the violent overthrow of the Soviet government or foreign invasion of the Soviet Unioni. In addition, the Soviet Union felt itself so threatened by subversion and imminent military invasions by Japan and Germany (which occurred in full force in 1938 and 1941, respectively) that it perceived a need to undertake a nationwide campaign to eliminate potential internal enemies. Moreover, these external threats were further fueled by the fact that the Russian nobility and czarists (over a million of whom had emigrated after the communist revolution in 1917) had given financial aid to the German Nazis in the 1930s for the purpose of using them (once they had successfully taken power in Germany) to help them overthrow the Soviet governmentj. Forged documents and misinformation spread by Nazi Germany to incriminate innocent and patriotic Soviets also contributed to Soviet paranoiak. It must also be remembered that Soviet fear of foreign-sponsored subversion in the 1930s existed within the context of guerrilla warfare fought against the Soviet Union by some of the same groups of people who had fought with the foreign invaders against the Soviet Union in the 1918-22 Foreign Interventionist Civil War. While the 1937-38 purges were very repressive and tragic by almost any measure, they may have helped prevent the fascists from inciting a successful rebellion or coup in the Soviet Union. Such a threat was a very real one given that the German Nazis did succeed in using political intrigues, threats, economic pressure, and offers of territorial gains to bring other Eastern European countries into their orbit, including Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, as well as Yugoslavia for a short period of timeh, given that the Soviet Union had been subjected to a brutal 1918-22 civil war which was launched by rebels who were supported by over a million foreign invading troops from over a dozen capitalist countries, given that there was a large amount of sabotage committed by Soviet citizens in the 1930s, and given that there were a significant number of Soviet dissidents who were in favor of overthrowing the Soviet government even if it required an invasion by Germany or some other foreign poweri. In addition, many people may have worked independently to sabotage the Soviet Union in the hope that they would thereby contribute to a foreign overthrow of the Soviet Union, especially since Nazi Germany did make extensive efforts to incite uprisings, cause subversive actions, and create ethnic conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Despite the Soviet Union’s success in defeating the subsequent invasions by fascist Japan (in 1938) and Germany (1941-44), the danger posed by the Nazi spies and saboteurs in Eastern Europe is illustrated by the fact that the CIA considered them so effective that it adopted virtually the entire Nazi network into its own system of terrorism in Eastern Europe after World War IIl.

Evidence from the Soviet archives indicates that the officials responsible for the political repression of the 1930s sincerely felt the victims were guilty of some crime such as sabotage, spying, or treason, and many of the executions of the Great Purge were reported in the local Soviet press at the time. Even when there was proven to be no direct connection between the accused and the fascist foreign powers, there was often a strong belief that the suspects were foreign sympathizers who were working on their own (without formal direction) to contribute to the overthrow of the Soviet Union. It should also be noted that much of the 1937-38 repression, often called the Great Purge, was actually directed against the widespread banditry and criminal activity (such as theft, smuggling, misuse of public office for personal gain, and swindles) that was occurring in the Soviet Union at the timem. In addition to the executions, there were also many imprisoned, and hundreds of thousands of people were expelled from the Communist Party during the Great Purge for being incompetent, corrupt, and/or excessively bureaucratic, with such targeting of inept or dishonest Soviet bureaucrats being fairly popular among the average Soviet citizensi. Like the myths of millions of executions, the fairy tales that Stalin had tens of millions of people arrested and permanently thrown into prison or labor camps to die in the 1930-53 interval are untrue. In particular, the Soviet archives indicate that the number of people in Soviet prisons, gulags, and labor camps in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s averaged about 2 million, of whom 20-40% were released each yeara. This average, which includes desperate World War II years, is similar to the number imprisoned in the USA in the 1990s and is only slightly higher as a percentage of the population. It should also be noted that the annual death rate for the Soviet interned population was about 4%, which incorporates the effect of prisoner executionsa. Excluding the desperate World War II years, the death rate in the Soviet prisons, gulags, and labor camps was only 2.5%a, which is below that of the average citizen in Russia under the tsar in peacetime in 1913f. This finding is not very surprising, given that about 1/3 of the confined people were not even required to workn, and given that the maximum work week was 84 hours in even the harshest Soviet labor camps during the most desperate wartime yearso. The latter maximum (and unusual) work week actually compares favorably to the 100-hour work weeks that existed even for “free” 6-year old children during peacetime in the Gilded era and industrial revolutionp(shoutout to libertarians), although it may seem high compared to the 7-hour day worked by the typical Soviet citizen under Stalini.

In addition, it should also be mentioned that most of the arrests under Stalin were motivated by an attempt to stamp out crimes such as banditry, theft, misuse of public office for personal gain, smuggling, and swindles, with less than 10% of the arrests during Stalin’s rule being for political reasons or secret police mattersa. The Soviet archives reveal a great deal more political dissent permitted in Stalin’s Soviet Union (including a widespread amount of criticism of individual government policies and local leaders) than is normally perceived in the Westi. Given that the regular police, the political or secret police, prison guards, some national guard troops, and fire fighters (who were in the same ministry as the police) comprised scarcely 0.2% of the Soviet population under Staline, severe repression would have been impossible even if the Soviet Union had wanted to exercise it. In comparison, the USA today has many times more police as a percentage of the population (about 1%), not to mention prison guards, national guard troops, and fire fighters included in the numbers used to compute the far smaller 0.2% ratio for the Soviet Union. In any event, it is possible that the communist countries of Eastern Europe would have become politically less repressive and more democratic (especially over time), if there hadn’t been overt and covert efforts by capitalist powers to overthrow their governments, including subversion conducted in the USSR as late as the 1980s that the USA government admitted to in the 1990s. These efforts at violent subversion were initially carried out mostly by the British (before World War II) and then later more so by the USA through the CIA, which did succeed violently overthrowing a very democratic communist government in Chile in 1973. If the communists had truly been as evil and dictatorial as they are portrayed to be in the capitalist press, the peaceful revolution of 1989 in Eastern Europe (with virtually no related deaths except in Romania) could never have occurred.

Sources:

a: Getty, Ritterspom, and Zemskov, “Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-War Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence”

http://sovietinfo.tripod.com/GTY-Penal_System.pdf

b: Hellmut Andics, “Rule of Terror”

c: Louisa Vinton, “The Katyn Documents: Politics and History.”

d: Amy Knight, “Beria, Stalin’s First Lieutenant”

http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/nceeer/1993-804-08-Knight.pdf

e: Robert Thurston, “Life and Terror in Stalin s Russia”

f: Stephen Wheatcroft, “More Light on the Scale of Repression and Excess Mortality in the Soviet Union in the 1930s”

http://ebooks.cambridge.org/chapter.jsf?bid=CBO9780511626012&cid=CBO9780511626012A025

g: J. W. Smith, “Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle of the 21st Century”

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/9780765604682/Economic-Democracy-Political-Struggle-21st-076560468X/plp

h: Marshall Miller, “Bulgaria during the Second World War”

i: Sarah Davies, “Popular Opinion in Stalin’s Russia”

http://books.google.com/books/about/Popular_Opinion_in_Stalin_s_Russia.html?id=yTGgOwH_mwgC&redir_esc=y

j: Leslie Feinberg, “The Class Character of German Fascism”

<a href=”http://www.workers.org/ww/1999/fascism0304.php

k: Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky “KGB: The Inside Story”

l: Von Schnitzler, “Der Rote Kana”

m: John Arch Getty, “Origins of the Great Purges”

http://books.google.com/books/about/Origins_of_the_Great_Purges.html?id=R5zx54LB-A4C&redir_esc=y

n: Edwin Bacon, “The Gulag at War: Stalin’s Forced Labour System in the Light of the Archives”

o: R. J. Rummel, “Lethal Politics”

p: Marx and Engels, “Das Kapital”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/index.htm

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1885-c2/index.htm

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/index.htm

q: Numbers taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_Soviet_Union, which in turn cites Andreev et al, “Naselenie Sovetskogo Soiuza, 1922-1991″

Source

Left Anticommunism: the Unkindest Cut

noamChomsky

BY MICHAEL PARENTI

Despite a lifetime of “shaming” the system, NOAM CHOMSKY, America’s foremost “engagé” intellectual, remains an unrepentant left anticommunist.

In the United States, for over a hundred years, the ruling interests tirelessly propagated anticommunism among the populace, until it became more like a religious orthodoxy than a political analysis. During the Cold War, the anticommunist ideological framework could transform any data about existing communist societies into hostile evidence. If the Soviets refused to negotiate a point, they were intransigent and belligerent; if they appeared willing to make concessions, this was but a skillful ploy to put us off our guard. By opposing arms limitations, they would have demonstrated their aggressive intent; but when in fact they supported most armament treaties, it was because they were mendacious and manipulative. If the churches in the USSR were empty, this demonstrated that religion was suppressed; but if the churches were full, this meant the people were rejecting the regime’s atheistic ideology. If the workers went on strike (as happened on infrequent occasions), this was evidence of their alienation from the collectivist system; if they didn’t go on strike, this was because they were intimidated and lacked freedom. A scarcity of consumer goods demonstrated the failure of the economic system; an improvement in consumer supplies meant only that the leaders were attempting to placate a restive population and so maintain a firmer hold over them. If communists in the United States played an important role struggling for the rights of workers, the poor, African-Americans, women, and others, this was only their guileful way of gathering support among disfranchised groups and gaining power for themselves. How one gained power by fighting for the rights of powerless groups was never explained. What we are dealing with is a nonfalsifiable orthodoxy, so assiduously marketed by the ruling interests that it affected people across the entire political spectrum.

Genuflection to Orthodoxy

Many on the U.S. Left have exhibited a Soviet bashing and Red baiting that matches anything on the Right in its enmity and crudity. Listen to Noam Chomsky holding forth about “left intellectuals” who try to “rise to power on the backs of mass popular movements” and “then beat the people into submission. . . . You start off as basically a Leninist who is going to be part of the Red bureaucracy. You see later that power doesn’t lie that way, and you very quickly become an ideologist of the right. . . . We’re seeing it right now in the [former] Soviet Union. The same guys who were communist thugs two years back, are now running banks and [are] enthusiastic free marketeers and praising Americans” (Z Magazine, 10/95).

Chomsky’s imagery is heavily indebted to the same U.S. corporate political culture he so frequently criticizes on other issues. In his mind, the revolution was betrayed by a coterie of “communist thugs” who merely hunger for power rather than wanting the power to end hunger. In fact, the communists did not “very quickly” switch to the Right but struggled in the face of a momentous onslaught to keep Soviet socialism alive for more than seventy years. To be sure, in the Soviet Union’s waning days some, like Boris Yeltsin, crossed over to capitalist ranks, but others continued to resist free-market incursions at great cost to themselves, many meeting their deaths during Yeltsin’s violent repression of the Russian parliament in 1993.

Some leftists and others fall back on the old stereotype of power-hungry Reds who pursue power for power’s sake without regard for actual social goals. If true, one wonders why, in country after country, these Reds side with the poor and powerless often at great risk and sacrifice to themselves, rather than reaping the rewards that come with serving the well-placed.

For decades, many left-leaning writers and speakers in the United States have felt obliged to establish their credibility by indulging in anticommunist and anti-Soviet genuflection, seemingly unable to give a talk or write an article or book review on whatever political subject without injecting some anti-Red sideswipe. The intent was, and still is, to distance themselves from the Marxist-Leninist Left.

Adam Hochschild: Keeping his distance from the “Stalinist Left” and recommending same posture to fellow progressives.

Adam Hochschild, a liberal writer and publisher, warned those on the Left who might be lackadaisical about condemning existing communist societies that they “weaken their credibility” (Guardian, 5/23/84). In other words, to be credible opponents of the cold war, we first had to join in the Cold-War condemnations of communist societies. Ronald Radosh urged that the peace movement purge itself of communists so that it not be accused of being communist (Guardian, 3/16/83). If I understand Radosh: To save ourselves from anticommunist witchhunts, we should ourselves become witchhunters. Purging the Left of communists became a longstanding practice, having injurious effects on various progressive causes. For instance, in 1949 some twelve unions were ousted from the CIO because they had Reds in their leadership. The purge reduced CIO membership by some 1.7 million and seriously weakened its recruitment drives and political clout. In the late 1940s, to avoid being “smeared” as Reds, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), a supposedly progressive group, became one of the most vocally anticommunist organizations.

The strategy did not work. ADA and others on the Left were still attacked for being communist or soft on communism by those on the Right. Then and now, many on the Left have failed to realize that those who fight for social change on behalf of the less privileged elements of society will be Red-baited by conservative elites whether they are communists or not. For ruling interests, it makes little difference whether their wealth and power is challenged by “communist subversives” or “loyal American liberals.” All are lumped together as more or less equally abhorrent.

Even when attacking the Right, the left critics cannot pass up an opportunity to flash their anticommunist credentials. So Mark Green writes in a criticism of President Ronald Reagan that “when presented with a situation that challenges his conservative catechism, like an unyielding Marxist-Leninist, [Reagan] will change not his mind but the facts.” While professing a dedication to fighting dogmatism “both of the Right and Left,” individuals who perform such de rigueur genuflections reinforce the anticommunist dogma. Red-baiting leftists contributed their share to the climate of hostility that has given U.S. leaders such a free hand in waging hot and cold wars against communist countries and which even today makes a progressive or even liberal agenda difficult to promote.

A prototypic Red-basher who pretended to be on the Left was George Orwell. In the middle of World War II, as the Soviet Union was fighting for its life against the Nazi invaders at Stalingrad, Orwell announced that a “willingness to criticize Russia and Stalin is the test of intellectual honesty. It is the only thing that from a literary intellectual’s point of view is really dangerous” (Monthly Review, 5/83). Safely ensconced within a virulently anticommunist society, Orwell (with Orwellian doublethink) characterized the condemnation of communism as a lonely courageous act of defiance. Today, his ideological progeny are still at it, offering themselves as intrepid left critics of the Left, waging a valiant struggle against imaginary Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist hordes.
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Sorely lacking within the U.S. Left is any rational evaluation of the Soviet Union, a nation that endured a protracted civil war and a multinational foreign invasion in the very first years of its existence, and that two decades later threw back and destroyed the Nazi beast at enormous cost to itself. In the three decades after the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviets made industrial advances equal to what capitalism took a century to accomplish–while feeding and schooling their children rather than working them fourteen hours a day as capitalist industrialists did and still do in many parts of the world. And the Soviet Union, along with Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, and Cuba provided vital assistance to national liberation movements in countries around the world, including Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress in South Africa.

Left anticommunists remained studiously unimpressed by the dramatic gains won by masses of previously impoverished people under communism. Some were even scornful of such accomplishments. I recall how in Burlington Vermont, in 1971, the noted anticommunist anarchist, Murray Bookchin, derisively referred to my concern for “the poor little children who got fed under communism” (his words).

Slinging Labels

Those of us who refused to join in the Soviet bashing were branded by left anticommunists as “Soviet apologists” and “Stalinists,” even if we disliked Stalin and his autocratic system of rule and believed there were things seriously wrong with existing Soviet society. Our real sin was that unlike many on the Left we refused to uncritically swallow U.S. media propaganda about communist societies. Instead, we maintained that, aside from the well-publicized deficiencies and injustices, there were positive features about existing communist systems that were worth preserving, that improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people in meaningful and humanizing ways. This claim had a decidedly unsettling effect on left anticommunists who themselves could not utter a positive word about any communist society (except possibly Cuba) and could not lend a tolerant or even courteous ear to anyone who did.

Saturated by anticommunist orthodoxy, most U.S. leftists have practiced a left McCarthyism against people who did have something positive to say about existing communism, excluding them from participation in conferences, advisory boards, political endorsements, and left publications. Like conservatives, left anticommunists tolerated nothing less than a blanket condemnation of the Soviet Union as a Stalinist monstrosity and a Leninist moral aberration.

That many U.S. leftists have scant familiarity with Lenin’s writings and political work does not prevent them from slinging the “Leninist” label. Noam Chomsky, who is an inexhaustible fount of anticommunist caricatures, offers this comment about Leninism: “Western and also Third World intellectuals were attracted to the Bolshevik counterrevolution [sic] because Leninism is, after all, a doctrine that says that the radical intelligentsia have a right to take state power and to run their countries by force, and that is an idea which is rather appealing to intellectuals.” Here Chomsky fashions an image of power-hungry intellectuals to go along with his cartoon image of power-hungry Leninists, villains seeking not the revolutionary means to fight injustice but power for power’s sake. When it comes to Red-bashing, some of the best and brightest on the Left sound not much better than the worst on the Right.

At the time of the 1996 terror bombing in Oklahoma City, I heard a radio commentator announce: “Lenin said that the purpose of terror is to terrorize.” U.S. media commentators have repeatedly quoted Lenin in that misleading manner. In fact, his statement was disapproving of terrorism. He polemicized against isolated terrorist acts which do nothing but create terror among the populace, invite repression, and isolate the revolutionary movement from the masses. Far from being the totalitarian, tight-circled conspirator, Lenin urged the building of broad coalitions and mass organizations, encompassing people who were at different levels of political development. He advocated whatever diverse means were needed to advance the class struggle, including participation in parliamentary elections and existing trade unions. To be sure, the working class, like any mass group, needed organization and leadership to wage a successful revolutionary struggle, which was the role of a vanguard party, but that did not mean the proletarian revolution could be fought and won by putschists or terrorists.

Lenin constantly dealt with the problem of avoiding the two extremes of liberal bourgeois opportunism and ultra-left adventurism. Yet he himself is repeatedly identified as an ultra-left putschist by mainstream journalists and some on the Left. Whether Lenin’s approach to revolution is desirable or even relevant today is a question that warrants critical examination. But a useful evaluation is not likely to come from people who misrepresent his theory and practice.

Left anticommunists find any association with communist organizations to be morally unacceptable because of the “crimes of communism.” Yet many of them are themselves associated with the Democratic Party in this country, either as voters or members, seemingly unconcerned about the morally unacceptable political crimes committed by leaders of that organization. Under one or another Democratic administration, 120,000 Japanese Americans were torn from their homes and livelihoods and thrown into detention camps; atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an enormous loss of innocent life; the FBI was given authority to infiltrate political groups; the Smith Act was used to imprison leaders of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and later on leaders of the Communist Party for their political beliefs; detention camps were established to round up political dissidents in the event of a “national emergency”; during the late 1940s and 1950s, eight thousand federal workers were purged from government because of their political associations and views, with thousands more in all walks of life witchhunted out of their careers; the Neutrality Act was used to impose an embargo on the Spanish Republic that worked in favor of Franco’s fascist legions; homicidal counterinsurgency programs were initiated in various Third World countries; and the Vietnam War was pursued and escalated. And for the better part of a century, the Congressional leadership of the Democratic Party protected racial segregation and stymied all anti-lynching and fair employment bills. Yet all these crimes, bringing ruination and death to many, have not moved the liberals, the social democrats, and the “democratic socialist” anticommunists to insist repeatedly that we issue blanket condemnations of either the Democratic Party or the political system that produced it, certainly not with the intolerant fervor that has been directed against existing communism.

Pure Socialism vs. Siege Socialism

The upheavals in Eastern Europe did not constitute a defeat for socialism because socialism never existed in those countries, according to some U.S. leftists. They say that the communist states offered nothing more than bureaucratic, one-party “state capitalism” or some such thing. Whether we call the former communist countries “socialist” is a matter of definition. Suffice it to say, they constituted something different from what existed in the profit-driven capitalist world–as the capitalists themselves were not slow to recognize.

First, in communist countries there was less economic inequality than under capitalism. The perks enjoyed by party and government elites were modest by corporate CEO standards in the West [even more so when compared with today’s grotesque compensation packages to the executive and financial elites.—Eds], as were their personal incomes and life styles. Soviet leaders like Yuri Andropov and Leonid Brezhnev lived not in lavishly appointed mansions like the White House, but in relatively large apartments in a housing project near the Kremlin set aside for government leaders. They had limousines at their disposal (like most other heads of state) and access to large dachas where they entertained visiting dignitaries. But they had none of the immense personal wealth that most U.S. leaders possess.

The “lavish life” enjoyed by East Germany’s party leaders, as widely publicized in the U.S. press, included a $725 yearly allowance in hard currency, and housing in an exclusive settlement on the outskirts of Berlin that sported a sauna, an indoor pool, and a fitness center shared by all the residents. They also could shop in stores that carried Western goods such as bananas, jeans, and Japanese electronics. The U.S. press never pointed out that ordinary East Germans had access to public pools and gyms and could buy jeans and electronics (though usually not of the imported variety). Nor was the “lavish” consumption enjoyed by East German leaders contrasted to the truly opulent life style enjoyed by the Western plutocracy.

Second, in communist countries, productive forces were not organized for capital gain and private enrichment; public ownership of the means of production supplanted private ownership. Individuals could not hire other people and accumulate great personal wealth from their labor. Again, compared to Western standards, differences in earnings and savings among the populace were generally modest. The income spread between highest and lowest earners in the Soviet Union was about five to one. In the United States, the spread in yearly income between the top multibillionaires and the working poor is more like 10,000 to 1.

Third, priority was placed on human services. Though life under communism left a lot to be desired and the services themselves were rarely the best, communist countries did guarantee their citizens some minimal standard of economic survival and security, including guaranteed education, employment, housing, and medical assistance.

Fourth, communist countries did not pursue the capital penetration of other countries. Lacking a profit motive as their motor force and therefore having no need to constantly find new investment opportunities, they did not expropriate the lands, labor, markets, and natural resources of weaker nations, that is, they did not practice economic imperialism. The Soviet Union conducted trade and aid relations on terms that generally were favorable to the Eastern European nations and Mongolia, Cuba, and India.

All of the above were organizing principles for every communist system to one degree or another. None of the above apply to free market countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Thailand, South Korea, Chile, Indonesia, Zaire, Germany, or the United States.

But a real socialism, it is argued, would be controlled by the workers themselves through direct participation instead of being run by Leninists, Stalinists, Castroites, or other ill-willed, power-hungry, bureaucratic, cabals of evil men who betray revolutions. Unfortunately, this “pure socialism” view is ahistorical and nonfalsifiable; it cannot be tested against the actualities of history. It compares an ideal against an imperfect reality, and the reality comes off a poor second. It imagines what socialism would be like in a world far better than this one, where no strong state structure or security force is required, where none of the value produced by workers needs to be expropriated to rebuild society and defend it from invasion and internal sabotage.

The pure socialists’ ideological anticipations remain untainted by existing practice. They do not explain how the manifold functions of a revolutionary society would be organized, how external attack and internal sabotage would be thwarted, how bureaucracy would be avoided, scarce resources allocated, policy differences settled, priorities set, and production and distribution conducted. Instead, they offer vague statements about how the workers themselves will directly own and control the means of production and will arrive at their own solutions through creative struggle. No surprise then that the pure socialists support every revolution except the ones that succeed.

The pure socialists had a vision of a new society that would create and be created by new people, a society so transformed in its fundamentals as to leave little room for wrongful acts, corruption, and criminal abuses of state power. There would be no bureaucracy or self-interested coteries, no ruthless conflicts or hurtful decisions. When the reality proves different and more difficult, some on the Left proceed to condemn the real thing and announce that they “feel betrayed” by this or that revolution.

The pure socialists see socialism as an ideal that was tarnished by communist venality, duplicity, and power cravings. The pure socialists oppose the Soviet model but offer little evidence to demonstrate that other paths could have been taken, that other models of socialism–not created from one’s imagination but developed through actual historical experience–could have taken hold and worked better. Was an open, pluralistic, democratic socialism actually possible at this historic juncture? The historical evidence would suggest it was not. As the political philosopher Carl Shames argued:

How do [the left critics] know that the fundamental problem was the “nature” of the ruling [revolutionary] parties rather than, say, the global concentration of capital that is destroying all independent economies and putting an end to national sovereignty everywhere? And to the extent that it was, where did this “nature” come from? Was this “nature” disembodied, disconnected from the fabric of the society itself, from the social relations impacting on it? . . . Thousands of examples could be found in which the centralization of power was a necessary choice in securing and protecting socialist relations. In my observation [of existing communist societies], the positive of “socialism” and the negative of “bureaucracy, authoritarianism and tyranny” interpenetrated in virtually every sphere of life. (Carl Shames, correspondence to me, 1/15/92.)

The pure socialists regularly blame the Left itself for every defeat it suffers. Their second-guessing is endless. So we hear that revolutionary struggles fail because their leaders wait too long or act too soon, are too timid or too impulsive, too stubborn or too easily swayed. We hear that revolutionary leaders are compromising or adventuristic, bureaucratic or opportunistic, rigidly organized or insufficiently organized, undemocratic or failing to provide strong leadership. But always the leaders fail because they do not put their trust in the “direct actions” of the workers, who apparently would withstand and overcome every adversity if only given the kind of leadership available from the left critic’s own groupuscule. Unfortunately, the critics seem unable to apply their own leadership genius to producing a successful revolutionary movement in their own country.

Tony Febbo questioned this blame-the-leadership syndrome of the pure socialists:

It occurs to me that when people as smart, different, dedicated and heroic as Lenin, Mao, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Ho Chi Minh and Robert Mugabe–and the millions of heroic people who followed and fought with them–all end up more or less in the same place, then something bigger is at work than who made what decision at what meeting. Or even what size houses they went home to after the meeting. . . .

These leaders weren’t in a vacuum. They were in a whirlwind. And the suction, the force, the power that was twirling them around has spun and left this globe mangled for more than 900 years. And to blame this or that theory or this or that leader is a simple-minded substitute for the kind of analysis that Marxists [should make]. (Guardian, 11/13/91)

To be sure, the pure socialists are not entirely without specific agendas for building the revolution. After the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, an ultra-left group in that country called for direct worker ownership of the factories. The armed workers would take control of production without benefit of managers, state planners, bureaucrats, or a formal military. While undeniably appealing, this worker syndicalism denies the necessities of state power. Under such an arrangement, the Nicaraguan revolution would not have lasted two months against the U.S.-sponsored counterrevolution that savaged the country. It would have been unable to mobilize enough resources to field an army, take security measures, or build and coordinate economic programs and human services on a national scale.

Decentralization vs. Survival

For a people’s revolution to survive, it must seize state power and use it to (a) break the stranglehold exercised by the owning class over the society’s institutions and resources, and (b) withstand the reactionary counterattack that is sure to come. The internal and external dangers a revolution faces necessitate a centralized state power that is not particularly to anyone’s liking, not in Soviet Russia in 1917, nor in Sandinista Nicaragua in 1980.

Engels offers an apposite account of an uprising in Spain in 1872-73 in which anarchists seized power in municipalities across the country. At first, the situation looked promising. The king had abdicated and the bourgeois government could muster but a few thousand ill-trained troops. Yet this ragtag force prevailed because it faced a thoroughly parochialized rebellion. “Each town proclaimed itself as a sovereign canton and set up a revolutionary committee (junta),” Engels writes. “[E]ach town acted on its own, declaring that the important thing was not cooperation with other towns but separation from them, thus precluding any possibility of a combined attack [against bourgeois forces].” It was “the fragmentation and isolation of the revolutionary forces which enabled the government troops to smash one revolt after the other.”

Decentralized parochial autonomy is the graveyard of insurgency–which may be one reason why there has never been a successful anarcho-syndicalist revolution. Ideally, it would be a fine thing to have only local, self-directed, worker participation, with minimal bureaucracy, police, and military. This probably would be the development of socialism, were socialism ever allowed to develop unhindered by counterrevolutionary subversion and attack. One might recall how, in 1918-20, fourteen capitalist nations, including the United States, invaded Soviet Russia in a bloody but unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the revolutionary Bolshevik government. The years of foreign invasion and civil war did much to intensify the Bolsheviks’ siege psychology with its commitment to lockstep party unity and a repressive security apparatus. Thus, in May 1921, the same Lenin who had encouraged the practice of internal party democracy and struggled against Trotsky in order to give the trade unions a greater measure of autonomy, now called for an end to the Workers’ Opposition and other factional groups within the party. “The time has come,” he told an enthusiastically concurring Tenth Party Congress, “to put an end to opposition, to put a lid on it: we have had enough opposition.” Open disputes and conflicting tendencies within and without the party, the communists concluded, created an appearance of division and weakness that invited attack by formidable foes.

Only a month earlier, in April 1921, Lenin had called for more worker representation on the party’s Central Committee. In short, he had become not anti-worker but anti-opposition. Here was a social revolution–like every other–that was not allowed to develop its political and material life in an unhindered way.

By the late 1920s, the Soviets faced the choice of (a) moving in a still more centralized direction with a command economy and forced agrarian collectivization and full-speed industrialization under a commandist, autocratic party leadership, the road taken by Stalin, or (b) moving in a liberalized direction, allowing more political diversity, more autonomy for labor unions and other organizations, more open debate and criticism, greater autonomy among the various Soviet republics, a sector of privately owned small businesses, independent agricultural development by the peasantry, greater emphasis on consumer goods, and less effort given to the kind of capital accumulation needed to build a strong military-industrial base.

The latter course, I believe, would have produced a more comfortable, more humane and serviceable society. Siege socialism would have given way to worker-consumer socialism. The only problem is that the country would have risked being incapable of withstanding the Nazi onslaught. Instead, the Soviet Union embarked upon a rigorous, forced industrialization. This policy has often been mentioned as one of the wrongs perpetrated by Stalin upon his people. It consisted mostly of building, within a decade, an entirely new, huge industrial base east of the Urals in the middle of the barren steppes, the biggest steel complex in Europe, in anticipation of an invasion from the West. “Money was spent like water, men froze, hungered and suffered but the construction went on with a disregard for individuals and a mass heroism seldom paralleled in history.”

Stalin’s prophecy that the Soviet Union had only ten years to do what the British had done in a century proved correct. When the Nazis invaded in 1941, that same industrial base, safely ensconced thousands of miles from the front, produced the weapons of war that eventually turned the tide. The cost of this survival included 22 million Soviets who perished in the war and immeasurable devastation and suffering, the effects of which would distort Soviet society for decades afterward.

All this is not to say that everything Stalin did was of historical necessity. The exigencies of revolutionary survival did not “make inevitable” the heartless execution of hundreds of Old Bolshevik leaders, the personality cult of a supreme leader who claimed every revolutionary gain as his own achievement, the suppression of party political life through terror, the eventual silencing of debate regarding the pace of industrialization and collectivization, the ideological regulation of all intellectual and cultural life, and the mass deportations of “suspect” nationalities.

The transforming effects of counterrevolutionary attack have been felt in other countries. A Sandinista military officer I met in Vienna in 1986 noted that Nicaraguans were “not a warrior people” but they had to learn to fight because they faced a destructive, U.S.-sponsored mercenary war. She bemoaned the fact that war and embargo forced her country to postpone much of its socio-economic agenda. As with Nicaragua, so with Mozambique, Angola and numerous other countries in which U.S.-financed mercenary forces destroyed farmlands, villages, health centers, and power stations, while killing or starving hundreds of thousands–the revolutionary baby was strangled in its crib or mercilessly bled beyond recognition. This reality ought to earn at least as much recognition as the suppression of dissidents in this or that revolutionary society.

The overthrow of Eastern European and Soviet communist governments was cheered by many left intellectuals. Now democracy would have its day. The people would be free from the yoke of communism and the U.S. Left would be free from the albatross of existing communism, or as left theorist Richard Lichtman put it, “liberated from the incubus of the Soviet Union and the succubus of Communist China.”

In fact, the capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe seriously weakened the numerous Third World liberation struggles that had received aid from the Soviet Union and brought a whole new crop of right-wing governments into existence, ones that now worked hand-in-glove with U.S. global counterrevolutionaries around the globe.

In addition, the overthrow of communism gave the green light to the unbridled exploitative impulses of Western corporate interests. No longer needing to convince workers that they live better than their counterparts in Russia, no longer restrained by a competing system, the corporate class is rolling back the many gains that working people have won over the years. Now that the free market, in its meanest form, is emerging triumphant in the East, so will it prevail in the West. “Capitalism with a human face” is being replaced by “capitalism in your face.” As Richard Levins put it, “So in the new exuberant aggressiveness of world capitalism we see what communists and their allies had held at bay” (Monthly Review, 9/96).

Having never understood the role that existing communist powers played in tempering the worst impulses of Western capitalism, and having perceived communism as nothing but an unmitigated evil, the left anticommunists did not anticipate the losses that were to come. Some of them still don’t get it.

Georgi Dimitrov in Nazi Court

From Dimitrov vs. Göbbels – Minutes of Speech before the Court:

“I admit that my tone is hard and grim. The struggle of my life has always been hard and grim. My tone is frank and open. I am used to calling a spade a spade. I am no lawyer appearing before this Court in the mere way of his profession.

I am defending myself, an accused Communist.

I am defending my political honour, my honour as a revolutionary.

I am defending my Communist ideology, my ideals.

I am defending the content and significance of my whole life.

For these reasons every word which I say in this Court is a part of me, each phrase is the expression of my deep indignation against the unjust accusation, against the putting of this anti-Communist crime, the burning of the Reichstag, to the account of the Communists.”

Georgi Dimitrov Quote

 “Comrades, our Party leaders often complain that there are no people, that they are short of people for agitational and propaganda work, for the newspapers, the trade unions, for work among the youth, among women. Not enough, not enough – that is the cry. We simply haven’t got the people. To this we could reply in the old yet eternally new words of Lenin:

There are enormous numbers of people, because the working class and ever more diverse strata of society, year after year, throw up from their ranks an increasing number of discontented people who desire to protest…. At the same time we have no people, because we have… no talented organizers capable of organizing extensive and at the same time uniform and harmonious work that would give employment to all forces, even the most inconsiderable.

(V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 5, pp. 436-437)

These words of Lenin must be throughly grasped by our Parties and applied by them as a guide in their everyday work. There are plenty of people. They need only to be discovered in our own organizations, during strikes and demonstrations, in various mass organizations of the workers, in united front bodies. They must be helped to grow in the course of their work and struggle, they must be put in a situation where they can really be useful to the workers cause.

Comrades, we Communists are people of action. Ours is the problem of practical struggle against the offensive of capital, against fascism and the threat of imperialist war, the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism. It is precisely this practical task that obliges Communists to equip themselves with revolutionary theory, for theory gives those engaged in practical work the power of orientation, clarity of vision, assurance in work, belief in the triumph of our cause.

But real revolutionary theory is irreconcilably hostile to all emasculated theorizing, all barren play with abstract definitions. Our theory is not a dogma, but a guide to action; Lenin used to say. It is such a theory that our people need, and they need it as badly as they need their daily bread, as they need air or water.”

Georgi Dimitrov on Stalinism

“The social-democrat lackeys often call us “stalinists” and they think that in this way they insult the communists. But we are proud of this honorary appellation as we are proud of the appellation “leninists”. There is no greater honor for a revolutionary than being a true leninist, a true stalinist, a devoted disciple of Lenin and Stalin until the end. And there is no greater happiness for the communists than fighting under the guidance of Stalin for the triumph of the international proletariat’s just cause. Not everybody can be a stalinist. The honorary appellation “leninist-stalinist” has to be won through bolshevik struggle, persistence and unlimited devotion to the cause of the working class”

 – G. Dimitrov “Stalin and the international proletariat”, 1939.

Source 

“My Life With Enver” Nexhmije Hoxha’s Memoirs (Part 3)

(Above) Anti-fascist demonstration in Tirana where Nexhmije saw Enver for the first time. They would later meet in a Partisan safehouse.

Young Nexhmije.

Enver Hoxha in disguise during the war.

Later years: Enver and Nexhmije.

Later years: Enver and Nexhmije.

9. In Kucaka. Another Yugoslav emissary

In Kucaka, near Korca, I met-up again with Enver. It had been a long time we had seen each other and we spent some time talking. He told me about the problems that they had encountered in Vlora with the anti-party and factionist Sadik Premte, whom I had known very well in Tirana. I had met him at some of the bases where illegals were sheltered. He was a cynical man who would be a destructive influence on the work with the youth elements. I reported to Enver about the terror exercised in Tirana, the general situation and the many searches that had taken place, including his sister’s house and the room where we used to stay together.

After we spent some time together, Enver asked me:

“Can you find something to do? Or perhaps you could go outside and check around, as now we have a meeting with a comrade coming from Yugoslavia”.

I went out onto the porch where I found Fiqret Sanxhaktari who had traveled from Korca, where she had been transferred after the mistake in kidnapping the daughter of Man Kukaleshi. This was done in order to blackmail him for he was the most notorious spy in Tirana, serving the fascist invaders and their collaborators. Fiqret would sometimes deal with the typing of documents for the Central Party Committee. As we were sitting and talking, we saw a tall man coming down the stairs. He was dressed in a well-sewn military kaki suit. He was followed by a young lady, she was well built, good-looking and in the same type of kaki suit; partisan trousers and jacket. Under her arm she had a workbag. Both of them walked past without turning their heads as if we weren’t there. I asked Fiqret who they were. She told me: his name was Svetzer Vukmanovic, his nickname was Tempo, whereas the lady was his secretary, but they also say she was his wife. Her name was Milica.

When I saw Enver again, I told him about the two guests who didn’t even greet us.

He smiled and added:

“They are angry with me”.

Being somewhat surprised I asked him why they were angry. Enver explained to me who Tempo was and what he wanted to do in Albania, Greece and Bulgaria. Enver has called Tempo the wandering ambassador of Tito, who entered Albania through Montenegro, and sometimes through Macedonia. Tempo, it seemed, would put forward as his personal ideas the statements and orders received for the establishment of a General Big Inter-Balkan Headquarters in which Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece would be involved. Enver has described Vukamanovic Tempo exactly as he was – arrogant, stubborn, a wild anti-Albanian Serb chauvinist of the first class.

During the comings and goings of this “political Mafioso”, Enver had had hot debates with Tempo regarding his scornful and unfair criticism him in relation to the Party and our partisan Units. Tempo suggested that we set up proletarian partisan brigades, similar to those in Yugoslavia. According to him we had to establish the General Headquarters. Actually we had already decided about this at the First National Conference of the Party. Tempo wanted to do this because he needed to establish the General Balkans Headquarters, which would be led by Tito during the war. Whereas later….. ., Later there would be other plans, on “political integration”, party, government and the Balkan Federation, (“certainly with Tito leading”). The great Dimitrov was not satisfactory enough for the appetite of this megalomaniac, who wasn’t satisfied with the Federation of the Yugoslav Republics, which were artificially created by the superpowers, at the expense of other nations and nationalities.

The debate in Kucaka between Enver and Tempo reached a point of no return. On one of the trips Tempo undertook, he asked that Koci Xoxe go with him. Apparently they understood each other very well. On the way to Greece, Koci had reported everything in the world to Tempo and had spat out all the anger he kept inside against Enver Hoxha.

When these two were due back in Kucaka from Greece, it turned out that they hadn’t done much. In fact, Tempo immediately wanted to convene a meeting with those comrades present there. He didn’t mention why, but at that meeting I remember he brought up much criticism, especially against Enver. These facts are already known since Enver described them very well in his memoirs. It is also a well-known fact that when involved with such talks, the woman who had been introduced as Tempo’s secretary interfered.

Enver told her:

“You stay where you are, don’t behave like Geraldine. . (former Albanian Queen).”

This incident caused the secretary to burst into tears and made Tempo angry.

It is not true that Enver was “harsh with women”, as one foreign author has written; on the contrary. But, Enver was not the sort of person to tolerate scorn and unfair criticism, even from Tempo. Not even from people of higher rank, as time showed later.

From what I remember, Enver, after Kucaka, didn’t meet Vukmanovic Svetozar Tempo again during the war. After the war they met during the visit Enver paid to Belgrade in June 1946, as well as later in Moscow, when the Khruschovites fixed up some negotiations. They also met in July 1947, when Enver returned from his visit to the Soviet Union, where he had had his first meeting with Stalin and he found Tempo leading a delegation composed of military personnel.

10. The General Headquarters and Enver Hoxha approach Tirana

Below, Balli Kombetar is translated as “National Front”(not to be confused with the Anti-fascist National Liberation Front) and its members as “frontists”. The National Front, created in 1942 and led by Mithat Frash, was an Albanian reactionary organization which, during the final years of the war, opted to collaborate with the Italian and German forces in Albania, thus opposing the Anti-fascist National Liberation Front.

In Labinot, from the 4th until the 9th of September 1943, the Second National Liberation Conference was convened. The decisions that were made there, are quite famous in the history of the National Liberation War of our people. This conference approved the establishment of the General Headquarters of the National Liberation Army, the creation of large partisan units, an extension of the activities of the National Liberation Councils of the Front and, the upgrading of their role within the nuclei of the new popular government. The conference condemned the treachery of the representatives of the National Liberation Front in Mukje led by Ymer Dishnica and Mustafa Gjinishi. These two, instead of arranging for the involvement in the war of the National Front and Legaliti forces, became victims of their traps. They began to consider themselves not only as equal members concerning the future of the country (in spite of them not participating in the war), but they were also given the opportunity of taking the lead as saviours of the nation.

Abaz Kupi, who until that moment was riding two “horses”, left the front and tried to ingratiate himself with the invaders, to save his own life as he expected the British would bring back King Zog. Enver made another attempt to organize another ‘tete a tete’ with him, in Shen Gjergj, at the house of their common friend, Shtepanajt. Nothing was achieved, though. Bazi of Cane left the front, and joined the deserter nationalists from the Peza Conference. But now the Front attained a broader stage of development, not only in its base but also in the General Council. Its’ members were well-known personalities in our country; such as politicians, progressives , antifascist fighters, and high rank military, etc.

During the conference, important events took place. During a break, we heard on the radio Italy has capitulated. It is understandable what it meant for us. The second bit of news was: German forces having reached Greece had invaded through Korca and, anywhere else they were able to set foot they would instigate massacres. In Borova, a village in Kolonja, they had killed elderly people, women and children. They had also burnt down the whole village.

The capitulation of Italy meant the surrender of the Italian army in our country. This was one of Enver’s primary concerns. Disarming the Italian army meant that their arms were to be surrendered to the Albanian National Liberation Army. All frontists and non-frontists were eager to get their hands on the arms and arm depots of the Italian army. The other side of the coin was related to the protection of the defeated army, their self-protection, and turning them into an anti-fascist power, to serve our liberated country against fascism. How could it save itself from being massacred by the mad Hitlerites, who had now been left in a mess by their former ally?

The conference issued a call to the Italian armed forces, and Enver Hoxha himself signed the order concerning the protection of Italian army.

I can not leave without mentioning here that this attitude of Enver, especially for the Italian anti-fascists and communists and many other Italian progressive personalities, was remarkable for its long lived effects. Their gratitude was later to be expressed through their solidarity, petitions, publications, public manifestations. When I was arrested at the time when Berisha was infected with power fever, he kept me in an isolated prison cell for more than 5 years. He also persecuted my family harshly for a long period. This was due, only to the fact that I was the wife of Enver Hoxha. I am very thankful to those Italian friends who did what they did for me in those difficult days created by the anti-democratic regime of Berisha.

The news of Italy capitulating caused an indescribable happiness and enthusiasm for all delegates, partisans and peasants who were on duty. To those who took out and fired off their pistols, even knowing that they might draw the attention of the enemies who were located in the area.

While talking unemotionally to the comrades, Enver told them that Italy’s capitulation was truly a victory for our struggle, though it created new situations, which required caution and all of us to be well prepared, since the new enemy was even wilder. Consequently, our war against them had to be more intense. The Nazis, he said, in order to protect their positions in Greece and other countries in the Balkans from being threatened, will attack Albania too, so the path of the war for liberation is a long one. . . .

This was the major concern of Enver in those days. His concern was an even more comprehensive one, regarding the development of the situation at the war fronts in Europe. Furthermore, the opening of the second front by the Anglo-American allies was being held back. Enver thought the allies might land in Italy aiming at detaching this country as well as the Balkans from Germany and after that, it was likely that the Germans would be attacked from the direction of France as well as from other directions also. So they would be caught and wouldn’t have the chance to breathe. He thought that, with regard to the Balkans, the second front in this sector would be left with the National Liberation Forces of the respective Balkans countries. The increase and extension of the National Liberation Movement in Albania, Greece, and Yugoslavia and their successes, showed that the movements were capable of accomplishing this overload successfully.

The new perspectives and duties emerging for the future of Albania immediately after the conclusion of the Second National Liberation Conference took into account these developments.

The General Headquarters and Enver Hoxha as political commissar (and, at the time General Secretary of the Albanian Communist Party), moved towards Tirana. They stopped nearby Arbana, a village situated in a free area of Peza, where the command of the Peza partisan group was situated. It was lead by the well-known patriot and fighter Myslym Peza. This move of the headquarters to a few kilometers distant from the capital city, was related to the military and political situation that would need to be created in case of any possible landing of allies in the Balkans, especially in Albania.

As soon as he arrived in Arbana, Enver called for Gogo Nushi, who was once a member of the Central Communist Party Committee and political secretary of the party for the Tirana Region. After having been informed about the situation of our forces and the enemy forces in the capital city, Enver spoke of the possibility of the allies landing in the Balkans and Albania and asked to know how many armed fighters could be prepared in order to support a coordinated attack of partisan forces from the surrounding hills.

Soon after returning to Tirana, Gogo Nushi convened the Tirana Regional Committee in which I participated in my capacity as political secretary of the Communist Youth for Tirana. There, he presented the issues and requirements raised by comrade Enver when they had conversed. We debated for a long time, taking into account the delicacy and importance of the questions involved. I don’t remember exactly which official reply was delivered from this meeting apart from the problem regarding “guerrilla units not being sufficiently equipped and prepared to undertake such a significant action”, but the people and youth were prepared for this attack and would support the guerillas.

I was not at all optimistic about the success of this attack at that time, concerning the Liberation of Tirana and taking power. Therefore, I wrote a letter, a long one, I might say, to Enver about this. It is dated 22nd September 1943. Fortunately and surprisingly it is one of those letters saved from my correspondence with Enver during the National Liberation War. Nevertheless, I was only able to save some of Enver’s letters during the time when we were outlawed. These are approximately 13 and have a documentary value. They are so dear to me.

In the letter sent to Enver, amongst other things, I wrote:

“Guerrilla Units of the city are available but you should be aware that they are not trained and are in-experienced. And this first trial is a very dangerous one. Our units and the people certainly will help and support the entry of our army into the city, but I am not very confident about the military support they can provide. They could hinder the movements of the enemy, they can fight it, and can capture positions in the city, but without units they won’t be able to confront the enemy. First we should be reinforced with more automatic weapons, tanks, etc, since, it is unimaginable they can acquire adequate experience in two or three days. The enemy is a strong military power and the bastards (the Albanians) serving them, have shown them how to escape and hide, if they are chased or attacked in the city. But the enemy forces are equipped with motorcycles and sufficient numbers of tanks for them to occupy one of the main roads of the city, which is unreachable by any of our groups or units. I don’t know much about war strategy and I don’t know what your situation is, but Tirana cannot be taken unless the roads to Durres and Elbasan are destroyed. As for the burning of the city and the widespread terrorising of the people, I don’t see that the enemy would have enough forces and opportunities to be able to manage this. . . . Apart from the weapons that have been provided to our units, it is evident that a large part of the population has also been armed. This has become more obvious during the past two nights when there has been quite a lot of shooting. It seems that the people are testing their guns and revolvers. Tirana can be taken, but the question is, whether or not we can hold it. I am doubtful of this, and losing, control of the city will mean a great political and military loss…”

Then in the letter I wrote to him about our work with the National Liberation Councils, with the evacuated groups of people from Durres, and with the Youth etc. I also explained to him the ongoing activities of the National Front and those for the revitalization of certain elements from the ranks of the high level official intelligentsia.

Until this time they had been apart but they were now thinking that, on the ‘eve’ of the English American allies landing, it was the moment to found “social-democratic” parties etc, and to ask for their participation without even helping us in the armed struggle.

In the second part of my letter I wrote to Enver about some of my concerns related to our personal relations. With Enver away from Tirana, the two of us could only communicate through letters. But Enver had a tendency to send me very brief letters that were not at all satisfactory to me. Even when there was a chance to meet-up with each other (as was sometimes the case with particular meetings or conferences of a national character), my young heart would break as the meetings with Enver were rather limited and short. There was more time taken to say goodbye, than spend time together. When we would participate in very important meetings such as those of Peza, Labinot, Permet, Helmes etc, those were the best occasions for me. At least I could see him with my own eyes and would satisfy my longing. However, during those days the two of us were not able to be alone together very much to talk. This was due not only to the fact that he was very busy with work, but also because the war conditions and Party norms wouldn’t allow him (nor I, for that matter) to detach himself from his duties and spend some hours together as two youngsters in love would want.

So, in no way should we attract the attention of comrades or delegates, regarding the interest that Enver showed with regards to me or our relationship. Our relationship was known only to our two families and to the principal leaders of the Party.

Under these circumstances, in an unconscious way, I could feel the “difference” both in age and political maturity between Enver and myself. I mention age because, being that much younger than he, I required him to write letters to me more often; longer and more intimate ones. Due to my age, this was just a whim of mine, but in those difficult moments Enver didn’t have the chance and time to reply to these girlish wishes, as I would have liked. However, be it from love, or be it from being always distant from him, I wanted Enver to write more and more to me, so that through long and intimate letters I could feel him closer, talk to him, feel from far away through the lines of those letters, his heart beating . . .

For example; he had left a very short letter for me in Zaloshnja, near Skrapar, in May 1943 when he had left Tirana to go to Vlora. On that specific occasion, he had gone there in order to visit Kucaka near Korca. He knew I would be there to participate in the first Conference of the Albanian Communist Youth, but since I hadn’t arrived, he had only jotted down a few lines for me… . When I arrived, I was given this piece of paper and, to tell the truth, I was glowing with happiness. This happiness soon turned into anger because the letter was a very brief one. During the months of July and August, I spent some time in Skrapar where I received four other letters from Enver. These were sent to me from Labinot and Vithkuq, but they too were very short letters and even contained work directives and personal requests. In two letters he would justify himself saying he was very busy with work and would promise me that some other time he would find the time to write me longer letters.

So, sadness and boredom captured my soul, because I missed Enver and I missed his letters as well as his caresses, which were so indispensable for the heart of a young woman in love. Some time would pass before I got used to it. Certainly, despite, my soul going through pains and suffering, I found the strength, hope and faith to wait until the day, the so much expected day, of freedom, when we would be together forever. I tried to keep myself away from those gloomy moods and sadness and managed to adjust myself to new conditions, away from Enver. These months were very different from the first ones, when we had just met and fallen in love with each other in Tirana. During those days, I had many occasions and opportunities to meet Enver quite often and I would stay and talk with him for long periods, be it at his sister’s place or in any of those bases where we could find shelter, as I have previously described in these memoirs.

Our Communist Party was never against true love or against stable relationships and the establishment of healthy families. But during the Nation Liberation War, attention had to be paid to our youth. They had to be monitored, since there were already claims by our enemies in their propaganda, deceitful lies regarding the morality of the communists. On the other hand, our people were widely sensitive to the behavior of our youth within society. It was only due to the discipline exercised by the communist party in the partisan army, which encouraged even the most conservative from different regions, to send their daughters and sisters to war with complete trust in the healthy morality of the communists and the partisans. There were only two or three occasions when this discipline broke down, as in the case of comrade F.S. in Tirana and that of another comrade from Gjirokaster. The only penalty was that they were expelled from the Party. There was also another occasion where comrade Ramize Gjebrea in Vlora was tragically executed. Our partisan women became friends and sisters who would heal the wounds of partisans, would nurse the sick, knit pullovers, sew their socks etc. In such a fraternal and sociable atmosphere, round the fire for freedom, our healthy love nurtured and strengthened our love for freedom. It laid the foundations of many partisan families, created right after liberation.

I will stop at a painful occasion when our comrade, Ramize Gjebrea, was shot by the firing squad. She has been written and spoken about very frequently. Enver in a letter addressed to Nako Spiro regarding this matter among others, would say:

“In spite of that little devil not behaving well, the punishment was really harsh …. .”

This issue became notorious amongst the comrades of the Brigade, who were alarmed at the observations of the work of Ramize, and regarded in it as an offence and discredit to the army and Party. Thus, they made their hasty decision without first asking the Central Committee. According to Enver, this issue should have first been discussed with the Central Committee since he knew that Ramize used to be Nako Spiro’s fiancé, and he certainly had the right to have his say. Ramize’s attitude was harmful (but not to the extent that warranted such extreme measures) not because she loved, but because she didn’t show stability in the love and the relation she had with Nako, even though he was her free choice. With her new love she went beyond the norms of morality, which were expected during the war by the Party and by society.

“The issue of free love”, Enver wrote to Nako, “is a very delicate issue, and some comrades seem not to have understood this. Concerning the delicate issue of love, comrades of the Party and the Youth should pay strict attention, since this issue is cuts both ways. If the issue of free love is misunderstood by our comrades, then we pass easily into whore-mongering. On the other hand, it could also be transformed into a celibate lifestyle. This issue has to be clearly introduced to the Youth and the Party through conferences, because we are not a religious organization, and we should consider all our work with a progressive perspective”.

11. Frequent correspondence with Enver

The period from March until September, 1943 was overwhelmed by important political and military events within the country and also in the international arena. The first Conference of the Albanian Communist Party appointed Enver as Secretary General. This upgraded his responsibilities with regard to the strengthening and establishment of the role and activities of the Party at the level of contemporary demands, as well as for the guidance of the Front of the National Liberation Antifascist War. He had to travel to Vlora in very dangerous times, in order to destroy an anti-party fraction of led Sadik Premte. This time was a period characteristic of the establishment of large fighting groups, partisan brigades and the organization of the General Headquarters, which would guide and take the National Liberation Army towards general rebellion.

The opening of the second front by the allies was expected. Mussolini fell. At this time, organizations of those groups called nationalists, such as the National Front and others, called National Zogist Boards, etc, started to revitalize and make their moves in order to occupy a place under the rising sun of freedom. The Communist Party and the leadership of the National Liberation Front required “the fathers of the nation” to become involved in the war with concrete actions against the new invaders, the Nazi Germans. For this reason the Mukje Meeting was organized, but it was set on a wrong track because of political myopia and the tolerance shown by the communist party delegation and the National Liberation Front (headed by Ymer Dishnica and Mustafa Gjinishi).

These two legimtised political heads of organizations that had not only never fought against the invaders, but had even entered into collaboration with the invaders in both secret and open agreements with them. They wanted to show themselves as being the saviors of Albania without even firing a shot! They wanted to lead the government of a liberated Albania even though it was the blood and the war of the people’s best sons, who had taken the responsibility of freeing the country.

In these circumstances, Enver was fully mobilized. According to his letters addressed to members of the Central Committee in Tirana, Gjirokastra, Vlora, Elbasan etc, (the correspondence of this period of time has been published in the first two editions of his works, dealing with the National Liberation War ), he was very concerned about what was happening and what was to be done. Under such conditions, with an overload of work and numerous problems, Enver didn’t even have the time to eat or sleep properly, whereas I, in my romantic mood and nature, wanted him to write to me “long and special letters … .

In the letters addressed to Nako Spiro, Ymer Dishnica and Gogo Nushi in Tirana, Enver was dissatisfied with the quality of work of these comrades from the Regional Committee, the Youth and Party organizations. After the capitulation of Italy and during the euphoric atmosphere it created, certain things were tolerated, “which could cost the future and war of Albania much”, Enver stated in his letters. Young partisans and illegals would enter and exit Tirana and its outskirts, as if the city were liberated. The secret locations of the shelters for the illegals were compromised, as if (along with the capitulation of the Italians) the administration of collaborators, agents, spies and mercenaries had been disbanded. But this administration was still intact, somewhat disarranged, but awaiting its new masters, the German Nazis.

During this period, the Mukje Meeting was organized. Instead of enabling the involvement of those nationalist organizations that had remained outside the National Liberation Front in the armed war against Nazi fascists, it turned into a complete fiasco, quite contradictory to the objectives defined and formulated in the platform of the Central Committee of the Albanian Communist Party. Enver’s Papers and correspondence of those days, which were surprisingly published (as were the activities of the Central Committee and of Enver; such a thing was not done by any of the communist parties of Central-Eastern Europe), show how much caution and attention he paid to the elaboration of the Mukje Meeting’s Platform. Enver prepared the Communist Party delegation headed by Ymer Dishnica and Mustafa Gjinishi. However, when they fell head over heals into the “trap” set by the National Front who established a “Committee for National Salvation” under their leadership, and also released a pamphlet, Enver ‘hit the roof’ and shouted out “Treachery!”.

Enver was kind and considerate with comrades. This is also evident from his correspondence with them, through the friendly jokes he made with them. But when the Party line was violated and political mistakes were made, he didn’t care to know who made the mistakes but took the necessary actions.

The same happened with me, too. Being a member of the Central Committee of Youth, Political Secretary of Youth for Tirana and as such, a member of the Regional Party Committee, the criticism of Enver rolled like thunder over my head, even harder than in the conversations we had had in Labinot. The criticism continued when he came to Arbana and has been written down in the correspondence of that period. I can’t hide it, being an only daughter, brought up in a small family, a quiet one living in full harmony – I wasn’t used to being scolded. Also, I was never seriously criticized in my revolutionary life (not politically at least), apart from general remarks on every day work with our Youth, etc. But this time it seemed that I was overwhelmed by Enver’s criticisms. As I said, I wasn’t used to criticism, and my reaction to them was a great shock deep in my soul, since I took them very seriously. Being criticized made me feel that I had committed some really bad error. The criticisms addressed to me were related to the mistakes made at the Mukje Meeting and the Regional Committee of Tirana not having intervened in time in order to avoid those mistakes. They were also related to the euphoric attitude of the youth following Mussolini’s collapse and the capitulation of fascist Italy. In addition, it had to do with our sub-standard propaganda, especially against the National Front’s demagogy and with the other so-called nationalists who saw an opportunity to try to take power.

All of these criticisms were quite correct and acceptable, so I wrote a letter to Enver about them: “I am especially sorry that I can not give more to the Party”. What I couldn’t understand and what made me go through a very difficult spiritual period, was Enver criticizing me even for things I wasn’t responsible for, such as the issue of Mukje. It is true, I was an intellectual with responsibilities in Tirana, I was also member of the Party circuit for Tirana, but I had never been convened to any of the discussions to exchange ideas about this issue, between Ymer Dishica, Gogo Nushi and Nako Spiro, all three of them members of the Central Committee. Even at the Regional Committee, nothing was mentioned about this meeting, or about what was going to be discussed or developed there. Despite this, what upset me more were the instructions Enver gave to comrades in letters or meetings “an order for them to scold me anytime I would make a mistake.”

Why would Enver do this? Apparently he was worried that I might become selfish due to my youth and to the relationship we had. So, in two letters he had sent to comrades’ of the Central Committee of Party for Tirana, Ymer Dishnica and Gogo Nushi, Enver had used certain criticisms and severe expressions regarding me. This happened not a long after we had fallen in love, and I was somewhat upset. I felt offended since they seemed unfair to me. I still have a short letter, the size of a business card, with relation to this. Ymer Dishnica addresses it to Enver, saying: “What you are writing about the delegate is unfair, but apparently you want us to praise her… .”

Upset by these criticisms which I wasn’t able to swallow anymore, on September 2nd, 1943, I wrote him a long letter in which I said (among other things):

” . . The concern and the way in which you criticized me during our recent conversation in Arbana, has led me to believe that you are rather dissatisfied. Some unthinking words indicated that you are disappointed.

. . . I don’t understand why comrades are told to always scold me when I make mistakes! They should treat as they do with all the others. In my opinion, not for one moment, have I thought to be coddled just because I am your fiancé.

I have tried to take lightly and laugh at the other instances where you have harshly criticized me, but tonight, I didn’t really appreciate the instruction that you gave Gogo.

My Enver – towards the end of the letter – you should shake hands in all seriousness, and stop treating me harsher than the others, since you are closer to me than they are, apart from your Party relations …. .”

To this letter, dated September 22nd 1943, Enver answered from Arbana of Peza, on September 24th. He started his letter focusing on the second part of my letter. He wrote:

My Nexhmije,

Your letter really hurt me, and you appear to be very upset with me and my attitude towards you. I understand your psychological situation very well and I know your sensitive nature. Certainly there are moments where I do overdo my criticism towards you, but this shouldn’t make you feel upset. Don’t take my criticism that deeply as to feel tortured by my words, ‘I thought you were more clever”. Don’t think I am disappointed with you etc.

Childish!

I wouldn’t want my wife to get upset in such a way. I may have been over-critical but it should be taken as constructive rather than as something upsetting to you as you mentioned. It would be better if you were to assume less in the meaning of my words, some of which may have been somewhat inappropriate. They were not intended to upset you; on the contrary, I wouldn’t like you to continue your work in such a state. Your soul should be peaceful and joyful since I have the best of opinions about you. Of course, my criticisms will continue with regards to your work and your development, giving you a helping hand (as you say in your letter), but not scorning you. Don’t feel angry with me for often being severe with you, since, according to the saying: “the ones loving you, scold you”.

Since I do love you (I am saying I love you because you seem to not want to trust me) more than the comrades, I will scold you more”.

I close this chapter – Enver writes – saying once more that

“in the depths of your soul” there shouldn’t be any worries or desperation. My Nexhmije, I believe you do this favor to me”.

And, right there, my Enver without any ceremony, proceeds:

“Now I will start chasing you out”…. .

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry about this “thunder” in the blue sky. At the time, I cried, but later, anytime I happened to read this letter, with regards to the above unexpected “jump”, I would feel like laughing. I remember and miss a lot the jokes related to our correspondence.

He: “I have written to you more than one thousand letters….passionate ones, whereas you…”

I: “You lost all of my letters during the war, whereas I preserved yours, despite the Nazi Fascist terrors all over Tirana.”

I am going back to that part of his letter, in which he had decided to educate and temper his wife.

“The unit will attack the Germans where they least expect it and the guerrillas in the city will attack at the right moment They will therefore extensively support the operation from outside and you will be surprised…”.

…First thing, that they should know is hat they will be the guards of the city maintaining order, in order to stabilize the situation, to organize food supplies for the people and to manage communications, etc.

In your communications, you don’t have to go on using clichéd comments: “Try to explain concretely without using big words, e.g. Frontists say:

“Germans are leaving Russia of their own free will” “partisans are killing the Italians surrendering to them” etc., etc. don’t be too meticulous, just give them a thorough dressing down, since they don’t wear gloves when they fight us”.

Subsequently, Enver gave directions and instructions as to the function of the National Liberation Councils in the new situation and on the role of the youth. Naturally, he ends his letter with kisses and longing hugs.

This period of 3-4 months, this “duel” of letters seemed like summer rain, leaving no traces. To the contrary, it helped us to get to know each other better, our characteristics, nature, personalities etc.

After a few months had passed; during the harshest Nazi German reaction in Tirana, the circuit of the Party with Gogo Nushi and other comrades of the Central Committee received orders to take action in the outskirts of the city and the surrounding villages. I remained inside the city in order to keep up the connections with the Regional Committee as well as with comrade Gogo. He in turn would keep the connections with the regions and circuits of the Central Committee. However, this period didn’t last long as the other comrades of the circuit and propaganda material had returned to the town. A little later Nako Spiro made a proposal to the Central Committee of the Party the result of which was that I was assigned a new task. In one of Enver’s letters from this period he wrote, that I would be appointed to work in the function of Organizational Secretary of the Central Youth Committee. I remember him adding these words at the end:

“I firmly believe and am fully convinced that you will do a perfect job. You will also cover the sector on Women…”.

Our correspondence continued like this until December 1943. At this time it was interrupted because of the situation created by the operation of the invading Nazi forces and their mercenaries against our National Liberation Units and the liberated areas. A difficult situation was created for the General Headquarter of the Albanian National Liberation Army and even for the British Military Mission of Gen. Davies. It was a time when Tirana was undergoing one of the most difficult periods of the Nazi invasion. It culminated with the massacre in February 4th 1944, when, in the night, 84 people were taken from their houses, shot dead, and left on the roads. They were young, elderly, good nationalists, anti-fascists and communists.

The National Front also, benefited from this ferocious reaction. They attracted some elements from our Youth Organization who were frightened. At this moment the Germans offered to these young people scholarships to attend school in Germany. I had to visit some of these young people in their houses, in order to talk to them and try to convince them not to accept the Nazi’s offer. This would be tantamount to treachery towards the war that they had started.

The leading comrades of the Party didn’t interrupt their activities and contacts with the people for a moment. They continued putting themselves in danger, because the majority were guerillas and were wanted and followed by the enemy. Tirana also felt the huge weight of wild terror, but, with an insurmountable feeling of love for the country, the people successfully overcame this trial. Tirana houses remained safe bases and fond warm places for the Party comrades, for the guerillas and freedom fighters. These houses gave everything to fighting the war and eventual victory, continuing to help us hide and protect us during the times of the extreme controls exercised by the enemy and its spies. The people continued to attend our meetings even in those hazardous days of danger and terror and they never broke their connections with the people of the Party and the National Liberation Front.

In the meantime the General Headquarters of the Army was able to escape the siege of the enemy. They had managed to escape many difficulties, which I am not going to mention now as it is not appropriate. Much has been written about them. When part of the headquarters were able to reach some free areas of Korca, Enver wrote an urgent letter to Gogo Nushi, requesting information about the situation in Tirana and other regions of the country.

Gogo could have replied immediately with all the information requested by Enver and sent it through a messenger in the way which had been agreed in advance, but in this case, he showed his generosity in front of the comrades. I cannot forget the moment when this kind person, as we all knew him, with his big heart, said to the comrades:

“What if we send this information with the Delegate. This way we use one stone to kill two birds”,

he said smiling.

I hadn’t even thought of such a thing. I couldn’t hide my excitement and my heart was beating rapidly. A slight blush all over my face heated me. I betrayed myself in front of the comrades. They immediately understood Gogo’s aim and looking at me in an affectionate way, agreed. So I would have the good luck to take Enver the letter with the extensive information. I wasn’t guilty of being overwhelmed by strong emotions. It had been six months that Enver and I had been apart, and very often I was forced to keep within myself, deep in my soul, worries related to my beloved. Hundreds of questions would go round my brain: “How is he?”. “Where is he?”. “Is he alive?”. “How is he dealing with the frost and the situation in the snow covered mountains?”, There were all of these worries about Enver and his comrades in addition to others concerning the wild wolves, and the Nazis, which I had to overcome in an atmosphere of pressure and terror. This situation forced us to move around the city daily with revolvers in our bags. At night we would sleep lightly since we had to be on the lookout for the enemy and sometimes we slept fully clothed with revolvers and grenades under the pillows, prepared for any eventuality.

It was the beginning of March. Gogo and Nako prepared the letters and the information, whereas I could hardly wait to leave so as to complete this task and meet Enver. Together with the information about everything that had happened and our activities in Tirana, I would also be a pleasant surprise to Enver. I would stay with him for some time in Panariti in Korca.

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Beria Archive: Obituary of G.M. Dimitrov

From World News and Views
London
No.28, July 1949

Georgi Mikhailovitch Dimitrov was born on June 18, 1882, in the town of Radomir, of a proletarian revolutionary family. When he was only 15 years old, the young Dimitrov, working as a compositor in a printshop, joined the revolutionary movement and took an active part in the work of the oldest Bulgarian trade union of printers.

In 1902, Dimitrov joined the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party. He actively combated revisionism on the side of the revolutionary Marxist wing of Tesnyaki led by Dimitri Blagoyev.

The self-sacrificing revolutionary struggle of Dimitrov earned him the warm love of the revolutionary workers of Bulgaria, who, in 1905, elected him secretary of the Alliance of Revolutionary Trade Associations of Bulgaria. In that post he remained right up to 1923, when that alliance was disbanded by the fascists.

While leading the struggle of the Bulgarian proletariat, Dimitrov displayed courage and staunchness in the revolutionary struggles, was repeatedly arrested and persecuted. In the September armed uprising of 1923 in Bulgaria he headed the Central Revolutionary Committee, set an example of revolutionary fearlessness, unflinching staunchness and devotion to the cause of the working class. For his leadership of the armed uprising in 1923 the fascist court sentenced Dimitrov in his absence to death. In 1926, after the provocative trial, engineered by the fascists, against the leadership of the Communist Party, Dimitrov was again sentenced to death in his absence.

Compelled, in 1923, to emigrate from Bulgaria, Dimitrov led the life of a professional revolutionary. He worked actively in the Executive Committee of the Communist International.

In 1933, he was arrested in Berlin for revolutionary activity. During the Leipzig Trial, Dimitrov became the standard-bearer of the struggle against fascism and imperialist war. His heroic conduct in the court, the words of wrath which he flung in the face of the fascists, exposing their infamous provocation in connection with the Reichstag fire, unmasked the fascist provocateurs and roused new millions of workers throughout the world to the struggle against fascism.

In 1935, Dimitrov was elected General Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International. He waged a persistent struggle for the creation and consolidation of the united proletarian and popular front for the struggle against fascism, against the war which the fascist rulers of Germany, Japan and Italy were preparing. He called untiringly on the masses of the working people of all countries to rally around the Communist Parties in order to bar the way to the Fascist aggressors.

Dimitrov did great work in the ranks of the international Communist movement in forging the leading cadres of Communist Parties loyal to the great teachings of Marxism-Leninism, to the principles of proletarian internationalism, to the cause of the defense of the interests of the people’s masses in their respective countries.

During the Second World War, Georgi Dimitrov called on the Communists to head the national-liberation anti-fascist movement, and tirelessly worked at organizing all patriotic forces for the rout of the fascist invaders. He led the struggle of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists) and all Bulgarian patriots who rose in arms against the German-fascist invaders.

For his outstanding services in the struggle against fascism he was, in 1945, awarded the Order of Lenin by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R.

After the defeat of fascist Germany, Georgi Mikhailovitch Dimitrov led the building of the new People’s Democratic Republic of Bulgaria, and laid the foundation for the eternal friendship between the Bulgarian people and the peoples of the Soviet Union. Untiringly working for the consolidation of the united anti-imperialist camp and the rallying of all democratic forces, Georgi Mikhailovitch Dimitrov mercilessly exposed the betrayal of the cause of Socialism and the united anti-imperialist front by Tito’s nationalist clique.

In the person of Dimitrov, the working people of the whole world have lost an ardent fighter, who gave all his heroic life to the supreme service of the cause of the working class, the cause of Communism. The death of Dimitrov is a great loss to the whole international working class and Communist movement, to all fighters for lasting peace and a people’s democracy. By his self-sacrificing struggle in the ranks of the working-class movement, by his boundless devotion to the great teachings of Lenin and Stalin, Dimitrov earned the warm love of the working people of the whole world.

The life of Dimitrov, loyal comrade-in-arms of Lenin and Stalin, staunch revolutionary and anti-fascist champion, will serve as an inspiring example to all fighters for the cause of peace and democracy, for Communism.

Farewell, our dear friend and comrade-in-arms!

(Signed) Andreyev, Beria, Bulganin, Voroshilov, Kaganovitch, Kosygin, Malenkov, Mikoyan, Molotov, Ponomarenko, Popov, Pospelov, Stalin, Suslov, Khrushchev, Shvernik, Shkiryatov.

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