“Shortly after the Leon Trotsky Archive at Harvard’s Houghton Library was opened in January 1980, Trotskyist historian Pierre Broué discovered letters between Leon Sedov and his father Trotsky that proved the existence of a bloc between Trotskyites and other opposition groups within the USSR. Sometime in the middle of 1932 Sedov informed his father as follows:
“[The bloc] is organized. In it have entered the Zinovievites, the Sten-Lominadze group and the Trotskyites (former ‘[capitulators]’). The group of Safar. Tarkhkan has not formally entered yet – they stand on too extreme a position; they will enter in a very short time. – The declaration of Z. and K. concerning their enormous mistake in ’27 was made during negotiations with our people concerning the bloc, immediately before the exile of Z and K.” 
About the same time American historian Arch Getty was discovering that Trotsky had secretly sent letters to at least Radek, Sokol’nikov, Preobrazhenskii, Kollontai, and Litvinov. The first three had been Trotskyites before publicly recanting their views. Getty did not find the letters – only the certified mail receipts for them. Getty realized this meant that the Trotsky Archive has been ‘purged.’ These letters had been removed. Other materials had undoubtedly been purged as well. 
The only reason to “purge” the archives would have been to remove materials that would have seemed incriminating – that would have negatively impacted Trotsky’s reputation.As an examination of the question of the letter to Radek shows, the letters that we know were removed proved, at the very least, that Trotsky lied during the 1930s by claiming he never maintained contact with oppositionists inside the USSR when, in reality, he was doing so, and by claiming that he would never agree to a secret bloc between his supporters and other oppositionist groups in act he had done precisely that.
Evidently Broué found the implications of this fact very disturbing. He never mentioned Getty’s discoveries of Trotsky’s letters to his supporters and others inside the USSR or the purging of the Trotsky archive, even though Broué cites the same Getty publications (an article and a book) in a very positive manner. 
Therefore it has been well established by scholars by the mid-1980s that a Trotskyite-Zinovievite bloc did in fact exist and that it was formed in 1932 and that Zinoviev and Kamenev were personally involved. Sedov also foresaw the entry into the group of Safarov, who in any case had a group of his own.
In an interview with the Dutch social-democratic newspaper Het Volk during the second half of January 1937, at the time of the Second Moscow Trial, Sedov stated, in a slip of the tongue, that “the Trotskyists” had been in contact with the defendents at the First Moscow Trial of August 1936.  Sedov specifically named Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov. Concerning Radek and Piatakov Sedov went on to say that “[t]he Trotskyists have had much less contact with them than with the others. To be exact: no contact at all.” That is, Sedov tried to withdraw his “slip” about Radek and Piatakov.
But Sedov did not even try and retract the information that preceded it: that “the Trotskyists” had indeed been in contact with “the other”: Smirnov, Zinoviev, and Kamenev. This interview, “slip of the tongue” included, was published in a provincial edition of Het Volk on January 28, 1937. It was noticed by the Communist press, which called attention to Sedov’s “slip of the tongue.” (Arbeideren, Oslo, February 5, 1937; Abejderbladet, Copenhagen, February 12, 1937.) Thanks to Getty we now know that the Communist press was correct. Sedov’s remark really was a “slip of the tongue.” We know that Sedov was lying because Getty had found evidence of Trotsky’s letter to Radek. Trotsky has indeed been in touch with Radek. Sedov’s first remark, about “much less contact,” was accurate.
Therefore we have good, non-Soviet evidence, confirmed by the Trotsky Archive, of the following:
The Harvard Trotsky archive yielded to Broué and Getty unmistakable evidence that the “bloc” did exist; that Trotsky was in contact with the bloc’s members and his own supporters inside the USSR, and that Trotsky lied consistently about all these matters both in the Bulletin of the Opposition and to the Dewey Commission. No scholar today denies this. Kirilina, Lenoe, and Egge simply ignore the whole matter.
The NKVD of the 1930s termed the complexly-interlocking set of oppositional conspiracies the “klubok,” or “tangle.” If any of these conspiracies were acknowledged to have existed, it would be hard to deny the existence of the rest, since all the defendants implicated others in a chant that, directly or indirectly, connected them all. Admitting that the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites did in fact exist would present the danger of a “slippery slope” to any historian who wanted to deny the validity of the other conspiracies. For once it is conceded that the first alleged underground opposition conspiracy really did exist, and therefore that both the Khrushchev and Gorbachev official reports, rehabilitations, and official historians were lying, it logically follows that other conspiracies, which these same sources also denied, might have existed too.
– Grover Furr, “The Murder of Sergei Kirov: History, Scholarship and the Anti-Stalin Paradigm,” pages 131-133, 136.
 Harvard, Trotsky Archive 4782 p. 1; see Broué in Cahiers Leon Trotsky 1980 p. 36; Broué, “Party Opposition to Stalin…” p. 100.
 Other materials were certainly removed – “purged” – with traces of their removal remaining. For example, excerpts from a discussion between Trotsky and Sedov concerning the slogan “remove Stalin” (‘ubrat Stalina’) remain in the archive, but the full letters from which the excerpts were made are not there.
 We will examine this whole question in detail in a forthcoming work.
 “Het process te Moskou. Wie niet wil bekennen al doodgeschoten?” Het Volk 28 Jan. 1937 pp. 1 and 5. My sincere thanks to Sven-Eric Holmstrom for tracking down this article and generously providing me with a copy.
Excerpt from Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979-1982 by M. Hassan Kakar
For more than a week beginning 15 March 1979, the people of the city of Herat and its environs, joined by the military division stationed there, rose in rebellion. About twenty-five thousand of them were killed before the Khalqi government was able to suppress their uprising, principally with the assistance of the Soviet warplanes that bombed the city from bases across the border in the Soviet Union. Of the many antigovernment uprisings this was the biggest, and the government felt a danger to its survival. To avert the danger, Premier Nur Mohammad Taraki first held a telephone conversation with A.N. Kosygin, the Soviet premier, and then flew in secret to Moscow to persuade his comrades there to suppress the uprising with their own military men from the Central Asian republics disguised as Afghans.
The telephone conversation between Taraki and Kosygin, which occurred on 18 March 1979 and is transcribed here, shows how desperate Premier Taraki had become. He was desperate because he believed that “the power of the people is the power of God.” Now the full weight of this power had been turned against his government. The text also throws light on the sociopolitical situation of the country, a situation that is in contrast with what the government was depicting in its propaganda. The text is here reproduced in full with the permission of the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, which published this and other documents related to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in vol. 17, no. 2 (winter 1994). The conversation was carried on through the Soviet interpreter in Kabul, an assistant to the chief military adviser, General-Lieutenant Gorelov, and written down by someone named Batsanov.
Kosygin Tell comrade Taraki that I want to give him warm regards from Leonid Ilyich [Brezhnev] and from members of the Political Bureau.
Taraki Thank you very much.
Kosygin How is comrade Taraki; he does not get too tired, does he?
Taraki I do not get tired. Today we have had a meeting of the Revolutionary Council.
Kosygin That’s good, I am very glad. Ask comrade Taraki whether he can describe the situation in Afghanistan.
Taraki The situation is not good, it is getting worse. During the last month and a half from the Iran side four thousand servicemen in civil[ian] clothes penetrated into the city of Herat and into military units. At present all the 17th infantry division is in their hands, including the artillery regiment and anti-aircraft battalion which is firing at our planes. Fighting continues in the city.
Kosygin How many people are there in the division?
Taraki About five thousand men. All ammunition and store houses and depots are in their hands. Foods and ammunition are carried by planes from Kandahar to our comrades who are fighting there against them.
Kosygin How many of your people have remained there?
Taraki Five hundred men. They are on the Herat airfield and the division commander is with them. As a reinforcement, we sent there by planes from Kabul an operation group. This group is on the Herat airfield since early morning.
Kosygin And what about the officers of the division? Have they become traitors or [are] some of them…together with [the] division commander on the airfield[?]
Taraki A small part of the officers have remained faithful, the rest of them are with the enemy.
Kosygin Are some of the workers, citizens and office workers in Herat on your side? Or anyone else?
Taraki We do not have active support of the population. Almost all of the population is under the Shi’ite slogans.“Do not believe the atheists, follow us”—their propaganda is based on this slogan.
Kosygin How large is [the] Herat population?
Taraki 200 or 250 thousand people. Their behavior depends upon the situation. They go to where they are led. At present they are on the side of the enemy.
Kosygin Are there many workers there?
Taraki Very few; only one or two thousand people.
Kosygin What do you think is the situation in Herat?
Taraki We think that either this evening or tomorrow morning Herat will fall and be in hands of the enemy.
Kosygin And what are further perspectives?
Taraki We are sure that the enemy will form new units and will continue the offensive.
Kosygin Do you have armed forces to defeat them?
Taraki If only we had them…
Kosygin What are your suggestions concerning this situation?
Taraki We ask you to render practical and technical assistance with men and armament.
Kosygin This is a very complicated problem.
Taraki Otherwise the rebels will go to Kandahar and then to Kabul. They will bring half of Iran into Afghanistan under the flag of [the] Herat division. Afghans who have run away to Pakistan will come back. Iran and Pakistan have a common plan against us. Therefore if you inflict a blow on Herat now the revolution may be saved.
Kosygin The whole world will learn about this immediately. The rebels have radio sets and they will inform the world right away.
Taraki I ask you to help us.
Kosygin We must take counsel about this.
Taraki While you will be taking counsel Herat will fall and both the Soviet Union and Afghanistan will have still greater difficulties.
Kosygin Maybe you may tell me now what assessments you can offer concerning Pakistan and then Iran? Do you have connections with progressive-minded people in Iran? Can you tell them that at present your chief enemy is the United States[?] Iranians are very embittered against the United States and probably this can be used for propaganda purposes.
Taraki Today we have broadcast a statement to the Iranian government pointing out that Iran interferes in our home affairs in the Herat region.
Kosygin And what about Pakistan? Don’t you consider it necessary to make a statement to it?
Taraki Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow we shall make the same [kind] of statement to Pakistan.
Kosygin Can you rely upon your army? Is it trustworthy? Maybe you can assemble your troops to deliver a blow on Herat?
Taraki We believe our army is trustworthy. But it is impossible to withdraw troops from other cities in order to send them to Herat because this will weaken our positions in the cities.
Kosygin But if we give you quickly additional planes and arms will you be able to raise new units?
Taraki This will take much time and meanwhile Herat will fall.
Kosygin Do you believe that if Herat falls Pakistan will act the same way as Iran does?
Taraki The possibility of this is very great. The spirit of Pakistani people will stiffen after that. Americans lend them adequate support. After Herat falls Pakistanis will also send soldiers in civil[ian] clothes who will begin to capture towns and the Iranians will interfere actively. Success in Herat is the key to all other problems connected with the struggle.
Kosygin What political actions or statements would you like us to make? Have you got any consideration [suggestions] in this respect?
Taraki It is necessary to combine propagandistic and practical assistance. I suggest that you mark your tanks and planes with Afghan signs[,] then nobody will know anything. Your troops could move from Kushka and from Kabul.
Kosygin To reach Kabul will also take time.
Taraki Kushka is very near to Herat. As for Kabul troops can be brought there by planes. If you bring troops to Kabul and they will move from there to Herat we think that nobody will know the truth. People will think that they are government troops.
Kosygin I don’t want to distress you but such a fact is impossible to conceal. It will become known to the whole world in two hours. Everybody will shout that the Soviet Union has started intervention in Afghanistan. Tell me, comrade Taraki, if we bring arms and tanks to Kabul by planes will you you be able to provide tank-men?
Taraki Very few of them.
Kosygin But how many?
Taraki I don’t have exact data about this.
Kosygin If we send you tanks, necessary ammunition and mortars by planes immediately will you find specialists who could use them?
Taraki I can’t answer this question. Soviet advisers can answer it.
Kosygin As I understand you have no well-trained military personnel at all or very few of them.
Hundreds of Afghan officers have been trained in the Soviet Union. Where are they?
Taraki Most of them are Muslim reactionaries or they are also called Muslim Brothers. We can’t rely on them, we are not sure of them.
Kosygin How many people live in Kabul now?
Taraki About one million men.
Kosygin Can you recruit fifty thousand soldiers if we send you arms by planes immediately? How many soldiers can you recruit?
Taraki We can recruit some men, first of all young men, but it will take much time to train them.
Kosygin Can you recruit students?
Taraki It is possible to recruit students and pupils of the 11th or 12th grades of the Lyceums.
Kosygin Can’t you recruit workers?
Taraki There are very few workers in Afghanistan.
Kosygin And what about the poorest peasants?
Taraki We can recruit only students of the Lyceums, pupils of the eldest forms and a small number of workers. But to train them will take much time. When it is necessary we are ready to do anything.
Kosygin We have taken a decision to send you urgently military equipment, to take upon ourselves the repair of planes and helicopters free of charge. We have also decided to send you 100,000 [sic] tons of grain and to raise the cost of gas from 21 US dollars per thousand cubic meters up to 37.82 US dollars.
Taraki That is good, but let us talk about Herat.
Kosygin All right. Can you now form several divisions in Kabul of progressive people upon whom you may rely? Can you do that in other places too? We would give you necessary arms.
Taraki We have no officers. Iran sends service men in civil[ian] clothes to Afghanistan. Pakistan also sends soldiers and officers in Afghan clothes. Why can’t the Soviet Union send Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmen in civil[ian] clothes? Nobody will recognize who they are.
Kosygin What else can you say concerning Herat?
Taraki We want Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Turkmen to be sent to us because they can drive tanks and besides all these peoples live in Afghanistan too. Let them wear Afghan clothes, Afghan badges and then nobody will recognize them as foreigners. We think this is very easily done. Judging by the example of Iran and Pakistan we see that it is easy to do.
Kosygin But you oversimplify the problem, while this is a complex political, international problem. Yet despite all this we shall have consultations and then give you our answer. I think that you should try to form new units. You can’t rely only upon people who come from elsewhere. [The] Iranian revolution is an example: the people threw out all Americans and all other peoples too who tried to show themselves as defenders of Iran.
Let us make an agreement: we shall take counsel and then give you our answer. And you on your side counsel your military men and our advisers. Certainly there are forces in Afghanistan who will support you at the risk of their lives and will fight for you. These forces are to be given arms immediately.
Taraki Send us fighting infantry machines [armored personnel-carriers] by planes.
Kosygin And do you have men who can drive them?
Taraki We have 30 or 35 men who can drive them.
Kosygin Are they reliable? Will they not go over to the enemy together with the machines? Our drivers do not know the language.
Taraki But you send machines and drivers who know our language—Tajiks, Uzbeks.
Kosygin I expected you to give such an answer. We are comrades and are fighting [a] common fight, therefore we must not feel shy before each other. Everything is to be subordinated to the fight. We shall call you and tell you our opinion.
Taraki Please give our regards and best wishes to comrade Brezhnev and to members of the Political Bureau.
Kosygin Thanks. Remember me to all your comrades. I wish you firmness in solving problems, assurances and well-being. Good bye.
1) Bland on the refusal of the early British anti-revisionists to allow people who were on the point of breaking away from the CPGB to do so, and belong to the anti-revisionist movement:
“WB: They wouldn’t allow it. They were sectarian in a way in that it had to be all or nothing and so they only lasted for a brief period. McCreary died, he was ill, and his money was always important, his father was quite wealthy, and it was his money that had supported the organisation, its paper and the whole thing fell to pieces after McCreary died. The next thing that came up was Mike Baker’s organisation, the MLOB. Baker was the next one to approach me and my position was the same, and he made the point that he agreed with me that it shouldn’t be necessary at the moment for everybody to withdraw from the CPGB. If they were able to do any work within it of any sort, fair enough since there were still people there who were confused and honest, therefore potential recruits, so he agreed with me and we formed the MLOB on that basis. At this time, we hadn’t analysed Mao Tse Tung thought at all when the MLOB was formed, and it was taken for granted by everybody that Mao Tse Tung was the leading Marxist-Leninist in the world.”
MEMORANDUM To Cmdes VS & JM (India) From the Newly Formed Communist League – Following the Expulsion of Mike Baker & the split in the then Marxist-Leninist Organisation Britain.
Date Sent: circa Autumn months 1976 (First published by Alliance & Communist League in 2002 on web)
2) On the various sectarian views that prevented the work of the Albania Society in the UK:
“WB: That’s right. We founded this society which gradually prospered over the years and grew to several hundred members, published a journal, ‘Albanian Life’ regularly, and I think did some useful work in that way. Then as soon as the MLOB changed its line, all the Maoists in the Society who had previously been active and supportive began to demand that Bland go on the grounds that my organisation, to which I belonged, had published a report which was anti-Mao Tse Tung and therefore anti-Albanian, and therefore I shouldn’t any longer be allowed to be secretary of the Albanian Society. Instead they organised a faction within the society to get rid of Bland, and at the next AGM they organised a miniature cultural revolution in the society. The chairman at that time was a Maoist called Berger, she wrote articles on wine, her husband was a leading member of the friendship society with China. They organised this sort of cultural revolution at the AGM whereby a lot of people who had never been members of the society before appeared and demanded the right to vote, and Berger as chairman ruled that they had the right to vote because we were a democratic society and therefore anyone who walked in off the street to vote should be allowed to vote. This was the masses speaking you see. Unfortunately they hadn’t got quite enough people to outvote the other members, and our members didn’t agree with this particular line that it was reasonable grounds for sacking me, and so they lost the vote and I got re-elected as secretary and the Maoists walked out. They then formed another New Albanian Society which rapidly split into four or five other groups all of which rapidly disappeared, except the one that was financed by the Chinese, namely the one around Reg Birch. They called themselves the New Albania Society and functioned for several years with full support from China.
JP: Did they have any official standing as far as the Albanians were concerned?
WB: The Albanians recognised them immediately as the Marxist-Leninist Party in Britain. There were two organisations – there was the Communist Party of Britain run by Reg Birch, and there was the broader New Albania Society, both of these were officially supported by the Albanian Party of Labour. At that time they broke of relations completely with us. We had a meeting and decided what we should do: Albania is a socialist country, we accept that, we don’t agree with their line on this particular point, but none the less we stand for solidarity and support for the Albanian Party of Labour and the Albanian regime, therefore we would continue to support Albania, whatever their attitude to us might be. We carried on exactly as we had done, sending our literature to them regularly over the next six or seven years, until 1978, the Albanian Party changed its line and came out attacking Mao Tse Tung as being revisionist, his line as being revisionist.
Immediately Birch broke off relations with Albania, dissolved the New Albania Society without even consulting its membership. There were just notices in the post saying ‘as from today the society is dissolved’, full stop. At that time the one person who still had contacts with the Albanians was the expert on folk music, the president of our society Bert Lloyd. Bert Loyd made regular trips to Albania to record folk music, not as president of the Albania Society but in a personal capacity. We asked him if he would point out to the Albanians on his next visit that it was rather ridiculous to have no Albania friendship society because there was no one except for ourselves, with whom they would not speak. And so we said diplomatically that he might raise this with them and point out that it didn’t seem sensible to us that the situation should continue in the new circumstances. So he did raise it with them, and I was invited to Paris first of all to speak to the ambassador there, who seemed very suspicious of the whole situation. I couldn’t see any reason why, the whole thing seemed perfectly straight forwards, never the less he was suspicious, and he said he would make our points to Tirana and write to me in due course. Eventually the reply came back ‘yes, we would like a delegation from the Society to go to Albania’. There was no mention of what had happened over the previous ten years, no self criticism at all, but never the less they resumed good friendly relations with the society which was the main thing. The question of self-criticism was a matter for the Albanians and not for us really. We agreed in principle all the way through. And so that was the situation through to the counter-revolution.
Mind you, I am convinced now that there was a very strong revisionist faction in the leading positions of the party long before Hoxha’s death, and the whole thing came to a head only after that period, but it was a continuation of policies followed previously. For example, when we sent a delegation just after Hoxha’s death I think it was, I went with Steve Day, we were the two delegates elected to go, and they asked us what we would like to see and do, and so we gave them a short list of things we would like to do. One of them was to take a film of the area around the Corfu Channel to make a film about the Corfu channel incident, and also some research that I wanted to do from the Albanian library. Now we were a little taken aback by the fact that first of all they were unable to find an interpreter for us, they had no one there who could speak English, we were not allowed to take any photographs of the Corfu channel, and everything we asked to do including my visit to the Albanian National Library was for some reason not possible. They sent us round the country, it was enjoyable but it was purely a holiday, there was nothing we were able to do of any political value whatsoever. The whole 10 out of the 13 days we were there we were just driving around the country in a private car. I pointed this out to Steve and said ‘these people are bloody revisionists!’ you know, I’d met the same people before in the CPGB and they behaved in exactly the same way as people in the CPGB had behaved. I’m convinced now that these were symptoms of degeneration that had already set in, that revisionism had already won many of the leading positions within the party, but it was not coming out openly.”
IN MEMORIAM: William B. Bland 1916-2001 Interview Performed by JP with Bill Bland, 10th July 1994, Great Northern Hotel, Euston
3) How do progressives and “Marxist-Leninists” – of other than pro-Hoxha stripes – change their views? By weight of evidence, says Bland.
“WB: You see, first of all there is a great reluctance many people tend to be conformists, you like to be able to agree with your contemporaries, your associates, therefore I think that is a barrier to objective research, to objective findings, because then if your individual view is unpopular you become unpopular and therefore you tend to say what other people want you to say. I do think that this is something that has to be avoided. For example, the CL’s line on Dimitrov is unpopular because it is something new. It is not something that is anti-Marxist-Leninist, it is something which is either true or untrue depending on the facts. Now if your facts draw you to a particular conclusion I think it is essential for an organisation or party to come out with a correct point of view, under no circumstances should they say ‘well we can’t say that, its unpopular, therefore we will say nothing about it’; I think it is absolutely unpardonable for an M-L organisation. If one is correct, then sooner or later the passage of time will confirm the correctness, but if you are incorrect then it wont, and of course you must immediately rectify your incorrect fine. But not to put a line forward that you think is correct merely to be popular, I think is contrary to all the principles of Marxism. I think we’ve never done that.
I remember when we put forward our first research report on China, at that time most people who regarded themselves as M-Ls were running around waving the little red book, and they felt that this was something like running into a Catholic church and overturning the altar, they felt exactly the same way, and they responded in exactly the same way, yet gradually, over the years, more and more M-Ls have come out accepting the views we put forward in 1960. I think that under no circumstances should we ever…. of course we have to be sure that we are right, we go over and over the facts again, but once we are convinced that there is no other explanation, for example accepting that Dimitrov was a leading revisionist, then we should say so. I think not to say so merely to be popular is unpardonable. All new views are unpopular at first, it is merely a reflection of their newness. People tend to be conservative, they don’t like changing their point of view if they can avoid it, they have to be forced to do so by the weight of evidence, by the weight of incontrovertible facts, and this is the way I think the CL ought to work, small as it is. It is the only way that any organisation large or small should work.
4) Some examples of broad Front work that Bill Bland led the CL into with non-Hoxhaites:
(i) The MLRB:
JP: What about the Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau, that has a similar role in investigating important topics?
WB: The weakness there is that so far we have not felt able to investigate controversial topics. The New Communist Party was holding a meeting on Yugoslavia, and they had got together all the people who are supportive of the view of the Yugoslav government to present their case. Now our case is not popular among people among people who regard themselves as M-L. Never the less I feel we should put it forward, not in a destructive way, to call people traitors and fools but merely to present the facts as we see them, and invite them to seek another explanation for these facts. People are very reluctant to discuss things on the basis of facts. People like Harpal Brar, a very high political level, a loyal supporter of Stalin, there is no doubt he is very sincere in his support of Stalin and Marxism-Leninism, never the less, if you say ‘right, lets discuss Mao’ he will not discuss Mao, he will merely say ‘I don’t want to discuss it, I don’t agree with you, that’s all there is to say’. If you don’t agree, why not? Maybe you are right, tell me why you don’t want to agree? Somehow, he doesn’t want to do that.
So what it is here, in my opinion is this: rather than basing one’s views on fact, he’s basing his view on preconceived prejudices which Brar is unwilling to change or challenge. It’s like the attitude of the Catholic church in the middle ages, you didn’t discuss whether God existed or not, you just had to accept it because even discussing it was equivalent to treason, to heresy, and it seems to me that these people do have that view. They are unwilling to discuss it. Take a member of the NCP again, they cancelled a meeting which they forgot to tell me about and there was only a chap there who was editor of the paper. He wanted to discuss Mao Tse Tung thought, and I said read this stuff I’ll leave it with you, it may be wrong and if so, if you point out where we are wrong, we’ll correct it. ‘Yes I’ll do that’, you see, and that was a year ago. I left the stuff with him and asked him to fix a date for a further discussion, but no, he won’t do that. This means that he is only prepared to blindly follow the line of his party, and this isn’t going to do his party any good. If the line is wrong, then his party is not being served by his support for it. If the fine is incorrect then his job as a party member is to bring his objections forward and have them discussed at the highest level, and this they are unwilling to do, whether its Brar or the NCP.”
4) Some examples of broad Front work that Bill Bland led the CL into with non-Hoxhaites:
(ii) The Stalin Society
“WB: Well today we are in a situation where everyone who calls themself an M-L is in favour of building a new Marxist Leninist party. The Majids say that; Ivor Kenna says that, they all say it, but when you come down to it, it is necessary to draw a dividing line between the most blatant revisionist trend, which is Maoism, and Marxism-Leninism. You cannot build a party which contains both revisionists and Marxist-Leninists, it will fall to pieces at the first blow. Therefore our line in the Stalin society to try and utilise this for the purpose of support of Stalin, as we are all agreed, but also for discussing in a friendly way, the points on which we differ, so that on the basis of fact the members can be aware of the two opposed points of view and make their own decisions, and this seems to me to be to be an absolutely inevitable consequence of building a party which is taken seriously. And the same thing applies to a society that has a Marxist-Leninist paper, that we find out what we can agree on and that is the integral policy of the paper. Other questions on which we disagree we leave open for the time being and publish articles on both points of view, not in a hostile way but in a friendly way based on facts, and in that way, all those who call themselves M-Ls we say here, presented objectively, are the particular points of view why one policy is wrong, and the other answer is right, is Marxist-Leninist. I think that this is an essential way forward in building a party in the present circumstances.”
4) Some examples of broad Front work that Bill Bland led the CL into with non-Hoxhaites:
JP: The international journal which is being suggested I think we have already discussed and we felt that this could play a useful role and should be open to Maoists to contribute to, and put down their views, and essentially, should be forced to express themselves in writing so that everyone could see where they do stand.
WB: The fact that they have expelled all the M-Ls, with the exception of yourself, from the Stalin Society is a sign not of their strength but of their weakness. If Adolpho is really sincere in saying that it is a good thing that we be allowed to put forward this rubbish so that it can be exposed, then he would be in favour of us continuing to put our view forward, but in fact he voted for our expulsion. And this to my mind exposes his hypocrisy. We are anxious to put forward our point of view, we don’t pretend that we’re infallible, we may be wrong, if so we regret it and we will criticise ourselves. But in order that we should be shown to be wrong we have to hear the other point of view, and this is what they are unwilling to do, to participate in any sort of objective discussion of facts.
(5) Events in the Stalin Society that Led up to Bland’s Expulsion From the Stalin Society
“Brief Introduction: The Stalin Society was formed on the initiative of Bill Bland, when he circulated a note suggesting that this would be a timely step; coming upon the open embrace of capital by Gorbachev. With this, the revisionist “official” soviet parties were manifestly crumbling. His intent was an open broad front organisation – open to all who call themselves Marxist-Leninists. Given the later development of the hijacking of the society for sectarian ends, he and the CL were forced to write this critique. It is noteworthy that subsequently, in order to further enable themselves to ‘safely’ and ‘constitutionally’ expel Bill Bland for his insistence on an open and non-sectarian conduct and debate within the society, the hijackers led by the husband and wife team of the Majids – cancelled all overseas subscriptions.
It should not be thought that the contents of this exposure of the manoeuvres of the Stalin Society are of purely historic interest. The critique contained here-in, centres on two aspects that the world-wide Marxist-Leninist movement is still coming to grips with.
One is the content of Maoism;
The second is the nature and development of the revisionist blocs inside the USSR and the Comintern.
It is for these reasons that at this stage Alliance feels it – once more a timely – exposure. Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America); June 2002.”
“COMPASS” COMMUNIST LEAGUE
January 1995, No. 116
“MORE ON THE FIFTH COLUMN IN THE STALIN SOCIETY” Compass 116 (Communist League)
(6) Upon the Various Types of Maoism – Some we can ‘work with’ – Others we cannot!
“FUNDAMENTALIST AND MODERNIST MAOISM
Most systems of religious belief are based on writings regarded as ‘sacred’, and most of these were written long ago. But as man’s knowledge of the universe increases, it is discovered that these ancient writings appear to conflict with fact. In this situation, some people realise that their religious belief was mere superstition and become atheists. Of those who retain their religious belief, some insist that the writings, being sacred, are infallibly true, so that their appearance of falsity must be a mere illusion: we call such people fundamentalists; others admit that the writings cannot be accepted as literal truth, but can be accepted as allegorical truth: we call such people modernists.
Maoism has its fundamentalists and its modernists. As history made Maoism untenable except to those whose prejudices overrode their reason, genuine materialists came to realise that Maoism was merely a brand of revisionism. Among other Maoists, Fundamentalist and Modernist trends appeared.”
“COMPASS” COMMUNIST LEAGUE January 1995, No. 116 TABLE CONTENTS:” MORE ON THE FIFTH COLUMN IN THE STALIN SOCIETY” Compass 116 (Communist League)
(7) What does broad Front Work Mean? It means that DESPITE differences on other question – agreed to ends and principles of the BROAD FRONT – are the only basis for assessing WHO can JOIN the broad front:
“THE TACTICS OF BROAD FRONT WORK
A broad front is an organisation of people who agree to campaign on the objective of the broad front, in spite of differences they may have on other questions. The Stalin Society is a broad front organisation of people who agree that Stalin was a great Marxist-Leninist and who agree to campaign in defence of Stalin in spite of differences they may have on other questions. Members of a broad front who genuinely support its aims naturally work to expand its membership and influence as widely as possible. On the other hand, fifth columnists within the broad front, who wish to sabotage its aims, generally act under the cloak of pseudo-leftism, striving to erect sectarian barriers within the front on questions other than those embodied in the aims of the broad front. Over two years ago, Kamal Majid, husband of the present Secretary of the Stalin Society, Cathie Majid — speaking at a conference in the name of the Stalin Society — said:
“The Stalin Society is open to everyone. But of course we don’t expect you to come in without criticising yourselves. . . . Trotskyists, Khrushchevites or Brezhnevites . . . have to criticise themselves first. They have to criticise their past, and then we will accept them as . . . members of the Stalin Society”.
(Kamal Majid: Statement in Name of Stalin Society at International Marxist Convention, May 1992).
This declaration, like so many of the Majids’ utterances, is devoid of any truth. At no time has it been the policy of the Stalin Society that people who wish to join the Society must undertake a criticism of their past before they can be accepted as members.
What is the effect of Majid’s false statement?
Most people who now support Stalin, or who will come to support him in the future, have in the past accepted some of the bourgeois, Trotskyist or revisionist slanders about Stalin. Neither the Stalin Society, nor the Marxist-Leninist movement, can be built only from people who have never for a moment been misled by such slanders. To claim, even though falsely, that such people must pass a ‘purification’ test in a manner acceptable to the Majidist fifth column, is to seek to place barriers between the Stalin Society and tens of thousands of honest potential members.
Yet at meeting after meeting of the Stalin Society the Chairman, the Maoist Wilf Dixon, has permitted Kamal Majid to attack the New Communist Party as ‘traitors’.
In May of this year, the General Secretary of the New Communist Party. Eric Trevett, wrote in the party’s paper:
“I accepted the critique of Stalin in the 20th Congress resolution. Now I no longer think endorsement of that resolution justifiable.”
(Eric Trevett: Stastement in ‘New Worker’, 27 May 1994).
The New Communist Party is one of the largest of organisations calling itself Marxist-Leninist, and all who genuinely support the aims of the Stalin Society cannot but welcome this statement. But at the next meeting of the Stalin Society, Kamal Majid declared that this statement made it necessary to attack the New Communist Party harder than ever!
It is clear that the Majidist attacks on the New Communist Party at meetings of the Stalin Society have no relation whatever to the aims of the Society.
The Majids are no young inexperienced novices to the revolutionary movement, and it is clear that in attacking the New Communist Party, they are indulging in conscious sabotage of the Society. The Majidists’ campaign of disruption is, naturally, fully supported by the Maoist speakers invited by the Committee to give talks at the September and November meetings of the Stalin Society.
Adolfo Olaechea said:
“There are some who, 38 years after the 20th Congress, realise that they ‘can no longer continue upholding it’. That is good but hardly sufficient. . . . Such people ought to sit in the dock while the proletariat faces them with all their failures. They must liquidate all their conduct, all their line.”
(Adolfo Olaechea: op. cit.; p. 28).
In their Open Letter on ‘The Stalin Society Dispute’, Ted Talbot and Harry Powell dismiss the case against the Majidist disruptors as, for the most part:
(Ted Talbot & Harry Powell: ‘The Stalin Society Dispute’; p. 1).
and based on:
“. . . personal animosities.”
(Ted Talbot & Harry Powell: ‘The Stalin Society Dispute’; p. 1).
They accuse our member Bill Bland of:
” . . . an amazingly opportunist statement.”
(Ted Talbot & Harry Powell: ‘The Stalin Society Dispute’; p. 2).’
when he says:
“The point is not whether these statements (the attacks on the New Communist Party — Ed.) are true or false.”
(Bill Bland: ‘The Situation in the Stalin Society’ (January 1994);l p. 3).
Although Talbot and Powell cease their quotation at this point, Bill Bland goes on to say :
“The point is that, even if true, in the context of the Stalin Society, . . . these statements are divisive and disruptive. They weaken and hinder the development of the Stalin Society.”
(Bill Bland: ibid.; p. 3).
Tony Clark, in an undated Open Letter to members of the Stalin Society declares that this policy seeks:
” . . . to place certain organisations and their leaders above criticism.”
(Tony Clark: Open Letter to Members of the Stalin Society; p. 1).
and that the policy:
“is rooted in opportunism.”
(Tony Clark: Open Letter to Members of the Stalin Society; p. 2).
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth than that we wish to place any organisation or individual ‘above criticism’.
We merely maintain that it is wrong and disruptive to permit attacks on members, or potential members, at meetings of the Stalin Society on questions unrelated to the aims of the Society.
It needs no advanced level of Marxism-Leninism to understand that the same statement may be tactically correct in one set of circumstances, but wrong and counter-productive in another set of circumstances.
For example, no one was a more consistent opponent of the treachery of social-democracy than Lenin. At the beginning of 1922, the Communist International, led by Lenin, was striving to organise a conference of the three Internationals:
“. . . for the sake of achieving possible practical unity of direct action on the part of the masses”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: Letter to N. I. Bukharin and G. Y. Zinoviev (February 1922),in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 42; Moscow; 1969; p. 394).
The fifth columnist Grigory Zinoviev, who later confessed to treason against the Soviet state and was executed, wrote a draft resolution on the proposed conference which called social-democratic leaders of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals ‘accomplices of the world bourgeoisie’. While this characterisation was undoubtedly true, Lenin objected to it in the resolution concerned on tactical grounds:
“My chief amendment is aimed at deleting the passage which calls the leaders of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals ‘accomplices of the world bourgeoisie’. You might as well call a man a jackass. It is absolutely unreasonable to risk wrecking an affair of tremendous practical importance for the sake of giving oneself the extra pleasure of scolding scoundrels.”
(Vladimir I. Lenin: Letter to Members of the Politbureau of the CC, RCB (b) (23 February 1922), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 42; Moscow; 1969;p. 400-01).
Again, Marxist-Leninists accept that, as a general principle, it is correct to expose the reactionary role of religion. But an aspiring Marxist-Leninist who intrudes into a Catholic Church during mass shouting: ‘Down with the Pope!’ is not acting in accordance with correct Marxist-Leninist tactics.
In Lenin’s words, during a strike:
” . . . atheist propaganda in such circumstances may be both unnecessary and harmful — not from the philistine fear of scaring away the backward sections. . . . but out of consideration for the real progress of the class struggle, which in the conditions of modern capitalist society will convert Christian workers to Social-Democracy (i.e., Communism — Ed.) and to atheism a hundred times better than bald atheist propaganda. To preach atheism at such a moment and in such circumstances would only be playing into the hands of the priest and the priests, who desire nothing better than that the division of the workers according to their participation in the strike movement should be replaced by their division according to their belief in God.”
(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion’ (May 1909), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 15; Moscow; 1963; p. 40).”
by Vijay Singh
Marxism recognises the primary role of the industrial working class in the democratic and socialist revolutions and in the transition to communist society. In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels indicated that of ‘all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of modern industry: the proletariat is its special and essential product.’ V.I. Lenin in A Great Beginning expressed the Marxist position that only the urban workers and the industrial workers were able to lead the whole mass of the working and exploited people to overthrow capitalism and create the new socialist system. Socialism required the abolition of classes which necessitated the abolition of all private ownership of the means of production, the abolition of the distinction between town and country as well as the distinction between manual workers and brain workers. Lenin explicitly rejected the proposition that all the ‘working people’ were equally capable of performing these historical tasks. He considered that the assumption that all ‘working people’ were able to carry out the tasks of the socialist revolution was an empty phrase or the illusion of a pre-Marxist socialist. The ability to abolish classes grew only out of the material conditions of large scale capitalist production and was possessed by the workers alone. Marxism excludes from the definition of the working class the urban and rural petty-bourgeoisie, the office staff, the mental workers as well as the toiling masses. The attempts of Russian neo-Brezhnevism to broaden and extend the definition of the working class must be rejected just as historically the attempts of the Narodniks to include the petty-bourgeoisie in this category were fought by the Bolshevists. Confusion on this question carries grave implications for the character and composition of the Communist Party, for the very existence of the dictatorship of the proletariat, for the abolition of classes and the commodity system under socialism and for the transition to Communism.
The logic of Marxism did not permit the ‘working people’ as opposed to the proletariat to direct the construction of a socialist society. In The Agrarian Question in Russia Towards The Close of The Nineteenth Century, Lenin unequivocally considered that Socialism ‘means the abolition of commodity economy’ and that so long as exchange remains ‘it is ridiculous to talk of socialism’. The dictatorship of the proletariat must remain until such time as classes disappeared, Lenin argued in his article Economics and Politics In The Era of the Dictatorship of The Proletariat. The abolition of classes under socialism entailed the end of the difference between factory worker and peasant so that all became workers. It follows from this that the proletarian party cannot be a ‘party of the whole people’ or the dictatorship of the proletariat a ‘state of the whole people’. These positions were defended in the Stalin period. In the period after collectivisation in his Speech on the Draft Constitution Stalin held that the Soviet Union had already in the main succeeded in building the foundation of a socialist society; he nevertheless in these years argued, as in his Report to the 17th Congress of the CPSU(b), that the project of building a classless socialist society remained a task for the future.
The perspective of completing the building of a classless socialist society and the gradual transition from socialism to communism was the dominating leitmotif at the 18th Congress of the CPSU(b) held in March 1939. This emerges clearly from the speeches of the Soviet leadership at the Congress. In his opening remarks to the Congress Molotov asserted that Socialism had basically been constructed in the Soviet Union and that the forthcoming period was one of the transition to Communism. Stalin in his Report to the Congress, while noting that the USSR had outstripped the principal capitalist countries with regard to the rate of industrial development and the technique of production, indicated it had yet to economically outstrip the principal capitalist states in terms of industrial consumption per head of the population, which was the pre-condition of that abundance of goods which was necessary for the transition from the first to the second phase of Communism. He anticipated that the continued existence of the Soviet state was necessary during the period that Soviet Communism was being established. Until such time as capitalist encirclement was not superceded by socialist encirclement and the danger of foreign military attack did not recede, the military, penal and intelligence organs were necessary for the survival of the USSR. The Soviet state was not to wither away in the near future, it would, however, undergo changes in conformity with domestic and international requirements. Engels’ proposition that the state would wither away in Communism, Stalin opined, assumed that the victory of communism had taken place in the major countries which was not the case in the contemporary world situation.
In his Report on the Third Five Year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the USSR Molotov linked the new plan specifically to the task of the completion of a classless socialist society and the gradual transition from socialism to communism. Collectivisation, during the course of the Second Five Year Plan, had economically destroyed the kulaks which had been the last exploiting class existing in Soviet society. It had thus ended the private ownership of the means of production and formed the cooperative form of property relations through the establishment of the collective farms which now co-existed with the state property which had been created in the October revolution. The first phase of Communism had already been built in the USSR. The Third Five Year Plan was to be considered as a major step towards the formation of full communism. Molotov then examined the social classes which existed in the Soviet Union. Social differences persisted between the working class, the collective farm peasantry (as well as with the newly formed stratum of socialist intellectuals) corresponding to the nature of the differences in property relations between the state enterprises and the collective farms. In the transition to communist society the working class would play the leading role and the collective farm peasantry would exert an active role. Noting the distinctions between the advanced and backward strata of these classes Molotov argued that, while the majority of the populace placed the general interests of society and the state over private interests in the course of building the new society, there were sections which tried to snatch advantages from the state, just as sections of the peasantry were more worried about the welfare of their own collective farms and their own individual interests. It was the Stakhanovite movement in the factories which had established technical norms and raised labour productivity in the Second Five Year Plan period which guaranteed further successes for the Soviet Union.
In his speech to the 18th Congress the Chairman of the State Planning Commission, N.A. Voznesensky, fleshed out some basic five tasks which were required for the programme of communist construction to be brought into effect: first, the productive forces needed to be developed to that extent that the USSR economically surpassed the foremost capitalist states; second, labour productivity had to be raised to a level which would allow the Soviet Union to produce an abundance of products which would lay the basis for distribution founded upon need; third, the survivals of the contradiction between town and country had to be wiped away; fourth, the cultural and technical level of the working class had to be raised to the level of the workers who were engaged in engineering and technical work with the objective of eliminating the differences between mental and physical labour; and finally, the Socialist state had to develop new forms while building communism in the conditions of capitalist encirclement. It is significant that Voznesensky, while presenting an outline of the changes required in the society and state in the transition period to communism did not broach the question of the necessary radical reconstruction of productive relations in agriculture. In the 17th Congress of the CPSU(b) of 1934 Stalin had touched upon the necessity of effecting the transition of the collective farms based upon group property to the communes founded upon social property and the most developed technique which would lay the ground for the production of an abundance of products in society. In a pregnant remark Voznesensky suggested that the task of completing the construction of socialist society, the transition to communism and catching up and overtaking the leading capitalist countries would extend beyond the period of the Third Five Year Plan; whereas two decades had been needed for the Soviet Union to establish socialism an historically shorter span of time would be necessary for the transition to communism.
Molotov struck a note of sobriety in his concluding remarks at the Congress. While the perspective had been established of overtaking the leading countries of capitalism it was important to be aware of the shortcomings of the USSR in the economic field. Whereas the position of the working masses had improved in Soviet Russia and would further so do during the course of the Third Five Year Plan, and while the country surpassed the West in terms of production technique, it was important to recall that it lagged behind in terms of the industrial output per head of the population.
The perspectives outlined at the 18th Congress had wide-ranging ramifications. They implied that a re-writing of the programme of the party was imperative. The existing programme which was still operative formally had been adopted by the 8th party Congress in March, 1919 just a year and a half after the revolution. A new programme would of necessity have to take into account the path traversed under War Communism, the New Economic Policy, collectivisation and industrialisation in addition to the anticipated path to be followed on the way to ‘complete socialism’ and ‘full communism’. The 1919 programme had correctly called for the conversion of the means of production into the social property of the working class of the Soviet Republic. In the realm of agriculture it had enjoined the establishment of Communes for conducting large-scale socialised agriculture. The demand for the abolition of classes clearly pointed to the end of the peasantry as a class. A new programme would have to squarely face the delicate question of the conversion of the group property of the collective farms into the full social property of the whole of society. The 18th Congress constituted a 27 man Commission which was charged with the responsibility of drafting the changes in the projected Third Programme of the party. The members included Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Zhdanov, Beria, Voznesensky, Vyshinsky, Kalinin, Malenkov, Manuilsky, Khrushchev, Mikoyan and Pospelov.
The transition to Communist construction implied also the long-range reorientation of Soviet planning to the goal of the laying of the material and technical basis for the new society. After consultations with members of the Academy of Social Sciences of the USSR and with members of Gosplan, Voznesensky held an extended sitting of the State Planning Commission in July 1939 which took up the question of the elaboration of the development of the Soviet economy, particularly of the expansion of the energy base of the economy. Gosplan resolved to elaborate its perspectives in terms of construction of the Angarsk hydro-electrical complex, the raising of the level of the Caspian Sea and linking the Volga with the northern rivers. These developments immediately bring to mind Lenin’s understanding that electrification would open the door to Communist society. Communism was, he said, Soviet power plus electrification of the entire country. In the context of GOELRO he had spoken of the necessity of elaborating a perspective plan for Soviet Russia which would extend over a period of 10-15 years. With the goal of strengthening the pool of scientific talent available to Gosplan for the construction of the long-term economic plan a number of Academicians, including members from the USSR Academy of Sciences were involved in the activities of the Council of Scientific-Technical Experts under Gosplan for preparing the conspectus plan. Within a year and half Gosplan prepared a perspective of the long-term plan which raised questions which went beyond the limits of the Third Five Year Plan. Arising from this Voznesensky drafted a note for Stalin and Molotov which was read at a Gosplan meeting in September 1940. The central questions for a long run economic plan designed to build a classless socialist society and communism at the level of building the productive forces were the building of the ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgical industries; the complete reconstruction of railway transport; the construction of the Kuibyshev, Solikamsk and Angarsk hydro-electrical complexes; the realisation of the Baikal-Amur mainline railway; the creation of oil and metallurgical bases in the northern part of the USSR and the development of the individual regions of the country. In his note Voznesensky requested permission for Gosplan to elaborate a general economic plan for a 15 year period to be presented to the Central Committee of the Party by the end of 1941.
Tightly integrated into the projected long term perspective plan was a new approach to regional planning involving the better utilising of productive forces by basing the new industrial complexes close to the sources of energy and raw materials, thereby economising in labour in the course of the various stages of manufacture and preparation of the final product. Voznesensky secured the creation of an Institute of Commissioners of Gosplan in all of the economic regions of the country which had the responsibility of verifying the fulfilment of the state plan and securing the development of the industrial complexes of the economic regions. The Gosplan Commissioners were charged to pay special attention to the fulfilment of the Third Five Year Plan with respect to the creation of industrial fuel bases in each economic region, securing electricity sources in each region, eliminating irrational transport hauls, mobilising local food supplies in each region and bringing economic resources to light in the economy. Special departments were created in the Gosplan apparatus to deal with the development of the economy in the different regions of the country.
On February 7th, 1941 Gosplan received a reply to its proposal to be granted permission to elaborate a 15 year economic plan which had been sent by Voznesensky to Stalin and Molotov some five months earlier. The Central Committee of the CPSU(b) and Sovnarkom now formally sanctioned the preparation of a perspective plan by Gosplan to surpass the per capita production of the capitalist countries in pig iron, steel, oil, electricity, machinery and other means of production and articles of necessity. This necessitated the independent development of science and technology in the USSR so that the natural wealth of the country could be utilised by the most developed methods to advance the organisation of production. It required, moreover, the pre-determination of the development of the basic branches of the national economy, the economic regions and the tempo and scale of production. The general plan had to determine the changes in social and political relations, the social tasks, the methods of raising the level of the workers and collective farm workers to that of workers in the technical and engineering sectors (this would have facilitated the process of the abolition of classes and the obliteration of the distinctions between the industrial working class the intelligentsia and the collective farm peasantry which followed from Lenin’s injunctions in Economic and Politics in The Era of the Dictatorship of The Proletariat).
Work on the perspective plan was allocated over two stages between January and March 1941, and April to June of the same year. As instructed the Gosplan apparatus prepared the prototype of the general plan for the period 1943-1957 in 2 volumes. This project represented the first major attempt to tackle the problems arising from the perspective of developing the Socialist economy and its growing over to a Communist economy over a period of 15 years. On the 20th anniversary of Lenin’s decree which led to the creation of the State Planning Commission Pravda on the 22nd February, 1941 began a series of articles which widely publicised the new 15 year plan.
The Nazi invasion put paid to the projects for providing the economic basis for the transition to Communism. Yet amazingly the close of hostilities witnessed a resumption of pre-war plans and projects. The Report on the Five-Year Plan for 1946-1950 and the Law on the Five-Year Planpresented by Voznesensky to the Supreme Soviet in March 1946 marked the resumption of the path of development adumbrated at the 18th Congress of the CPSU(b) for the building of the classless socialist society and the gradual transition to communism. The plan was considered a continuation of the pre-war steps designed to catch up with and surpass the main capitalist countries economically as regards the volume of industrial production per bead of the population. Stalin in September, 1946 reiterated the possibility of the construction of Communism in One Country in the USSR. A year later at the foundation of the Cominform in 1947 at Shklyarska Poremba, Malenkov added that the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) was working on the preparation of a new programme for the party as the existing one was out of date and had to be substituted by a new one.
Running parallel to these developments was the renewed attempt to formulate a long range economic plan to lay the economic and social basis for communism. In mid-1947 Voznesensky posed this question before the Central Committee. He argued that such a plan was imperative for a number of reasons. First, it was directly connected to the preparations for the new programme of the CPSU(b) as well as for the carrying out of the concrete plans which would be drawn up on the basis of the programme; second, as the tasks of expanding the productive forces and the construction of the new and large construction works (railway lines, hydro-electrical stations, metallurgical factories) did not fit into the constraints of the current 5 year plan. While reiterating the pre-war objectives of the general plan as being to overtake the advanced capitalist countries in terms of the per capita industrial production, Voznesensky now proposed a 20 year plan for the construction of Communist society in the USSR. Stalin was requested to support a draft resolution of the Central Committee of the party and the Council of Ministers giving Gosplan the responsibility to produce a 20 year general plan for submission by 15th January, 1948. This authorisation was granted on the 6th August, 1947.
The scale of activity for the drafting of the general economic plan may be judged from the fact that 80 sub-commissions were established under the Chairman of Gosplan to elaborate different aspects of the plan having the participation of economic directors, ministerial experts and academic specialists. In the autumn of 1947 Gosplan re-examined the structure of the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences and modified its working by re-orientating it towards the problems facing the Soviet economy. In 1948 Gosplan, the Academy of Sciences, local party and Soviet organs held conferences to study the productive strength of the economic regions of the country; especial attention was paid to the regions of the North-West, the Central Black Earth regions, the Kuzbass, Kazakhstan, eastern Siberia and the Far East. On the basis of these preparations the framework of the perspective plan was formulated for the different branches of the national economy and the different economic regions of the Soviet Union. A draft report on the general plan for the period 1951-1970 was prepared with necessary balance calculations and other materials for presentation to the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) and the Soviet government. The Special Commission directed by Voznesensky examined the preliminary theses on the general plan in September, 1948.
Despite these energetic beginnings the 20 year General Plan was not to be completed though the theme of the transition to Communism remained a central question for the CPSU(b). The reason for this would appear to be the involvement of Voznesensky as Chairman of Gosplan in attempts to utilise commodity-money relations in the Soviet economy at an inordinate level to the extent that the very survival of the socialist economy was endangered which led to his being removed from responsible positions. Nevertheless the views of Voznesensky on the transition to communism which have come down to us through the efforts of his biographer, V.V. Kolotov have a certain interest. The elaboration of the 20 year plan was inextricably linked in the thinking of Voznesensky with laying the basis of communist society. He considered it his task to work out the laws for the establishment of communism and how the productive forces and productive relations would be connected. In his last discussions with Gosplan workers he argued that each social formation had economic laws, some which operated over different social formations, and some which were operative specifically to a particular social formation. Each social formation had its basic economic law. It was important to uncover the economic laws of Communist construction, that is the paths by which the productive relations of socialism were transformed into the relations of production of Communist society. It was necessary to elucidate the possible contradictions between the forces of production and the relations of production under the Communist mode of production, and the manner in which these might be resolved. These were the very questions which were taken up for discussion by Stalin in his comments on the November 1951 economic discussion.
While the general plan for Communist construction did not see the light of day, a number of projects designed to expand the productive forces of the Soviet Union, which had originated in the pre-war work of Gosplan, and which pertained to electrification, mechanisation, automation, and the chemification of industry did get underway. Electrification of all branches of the national economy was envisaged by the development of electro-chemistry, electro-metallurgy in ferrous and non-ferrous metals, as well as in aluminium, magnesium and their alloys. The electrification of railway transport was considered desirable for economy on fuel and rolling stock. In agriculture electricity was to be extensively used in the mechanisation of livestock farming, threshing and irrigation. In accordance with this general understanding the directives of the 19th congress of the CPSU provided for an increase of electricity by some 80% for the period 1951-55. Electrification of the economy was a central feature of the literature of the period. The grandiose construction works for communist construction included the construction of the Kuibyshev and Stalingrad hydro-electrical stations which were designed to generate about 20,000 million Kwh of electricity annually which was more than half of the total power generated in the USSR before the second world war.
The question of the changes necessary in the relations of production for the impending transition to Communism were chalked out in Stalin’s last major work. After arguing that a continuous expansion of social production was necessary in which a relatively higher rate of expansion of the production of the means of production was necessary so that reproduction on an extended scale could take place, Stalin argued that productive relations also required to be adapted to the growth of the productive forces. Already factors such as the group property of the collective-farms and commodity circulation were beginning to hamper the powerful development of the productive forces as they created obstacles to the full extension of government planning to the whole of the national economy, particularly in the field of agriculture. To eliminate contradictions it was necessary to gradually convert collective farm property into public property and to gradually introduce products-exchange in place of commodity circulation.
Needless to say the programme for developing the productive forces and restructuring the relations of production in line with the transition to communism was demolished after the death of Stalin. Under Khrushchev the question of a relatively higher rate of expansion of the means of production was not considered decisive. The perspective of the replacing of commodity circulation by the exchange of products was terminated. The new programme for ‘communist construction’ explicitly called for the utmost development of commodity-money relations: Group property, the collective farms and commodity circulation were to be preserved and not eliminated. The CPSU(b) now distanced itself from the Leninist understanding that under socialism classes needed to the abolished and that the distinctions between the factory worker and the peasant, between town and country and between mental and physical workers had to be eliminated.
The history of the CPSU(b) confirms that clarity on the question of the class approach and the necessity of defending the Marxist-Leninist approach to the definition of the proletariat is an imperative if a true Communist Party is to be constructed in the former Soviet Union. Only on this basis is it possible for the dictatorship of the proletariat to be constructed which is the decisive pre-condition for the abolition of classes, commodity production and exchange under socialism on the path to the construction of communist society.
Paper presented to the International Scientific-Practical Conference with the Theme ‘Class Analysis in The Modern Communist Movement’ organised by the International Centre for the Formation of the Modern Communist Doctrine in Moscow on the 8-10th November, 1996.
by Espresso Stalinist
Grover Furr is an American professor and author. He has taught at Montclair State University in New Jersey for over four decades, and has written essays, articles and books on Soviet history in both Russian and English. Though his body of work covers a wide variety of topics, his most famous writings study the period of Soviet history under Joseph Stalin, particularly regarding controversies around the Moscow Trials, the Katyn “massacre,” the events in Poland in 1939, the murder of Sergei Kirov, the Ukrainian famine and Khrushchev’s “secret speech.” Furr’s research on the history of communism, Soviet history and the historical falsifications told against socialism is some of the most remarkable, ground-breaking and enlightening in the world. He uses a very precise and admirable document-based approach to research that is exceedingly valuable and hard to find elsewhere.
This approach, unsurprisingly, has won him more than a fair share of enemies and critics, not only on the right but the left as well. Those on the left who attack Grover Furr are the most peculiar of his critics. Professor Furr is someone that sets about examining historical allegations used to attack socialism, and in his published books and articles finds and publishes objective documentary and archival proof that it is not true, or at least deceptive. In other words, he spends a great deal of time and effort countering bourgeois propaganda about Marxism-Leninism. What has been their response? To attack him. One would think someone who speaks Russian, has translated Russian documents and has access to the archives would be of interest to those looking to learn about the history of socialism. One would further think, that a sincere person who considers themselves a socialist or a Marxist would thank Grover Furr for finding proof that a large portion of what we are told about Stalin and the U.S.S.R. are lies.
We live in an age where most Marxist or progressive academics who dare to challenge the status quo are fired, sidelined, driven out of academia or simply deemed irrelevant. Only a fool would pretend that academic repression isn’t a reality. Yet, when it comes to the brave, bold and challenging works Furr has published, critics universally dismiss them without reviewing the evidence he presents. In discussions, I have never heard them say, “No Professor Furr, I disagree with your thesis statement, and wish to make a counter-thesis. Here are my facts, arguments and sources backing it up.” Instead, what I hear over and over is his work dismissed as “absurd,” “insane,” or Furr himself labeled as a “crackpot” or “Stalinist.” There is almost always an attempt to link his methods of research to anti-Semites and fascists, or even outright call him a “Holocaust denier,” implicitly comparing Soviet history with Nazi Germany.
Why do his critics almost universally behave in this manner? The answer is simply: because they can’t refute anything he says.
For all Furr’s research has contributed to our understanding of Soviet history and to refuting the lies told about life in socialist countries, his critics and opponents have not offered any meaningful refutation of his works or even engaged with the evidence contained therein. When pressed to sum up his theses, the evidence he presents to support them, and then to offer counter-evidence and refutations of their own, silence fills the space. Very few, if any of his critics are capable of defining what specific points of his works they disagree with or can prove false. Often they assert things that are already addressed in the article in question. The opponents of Furr’s research, whatever their ideological differences may be, all share one common thread that over time is rendered impossible to miss. For all their ranting and raving, not a single one directly challenges him on the sources or attempts to refute his argument. There is a concrete reason for this – opposition to Furr’s research comes from knee-jerk anti-communism.
The pseudo-left’s endless venom towards Furr’s work is entirely (no, not partially, or even mostly, but from what I have seen, entirely) devoid of counter-criticism, counter-evidence, contrasting research or engagement in any way, shape or form with Furr’s work. At the present time, there are no scholarly refutations of Grover Furr’s work. Hostile reviews, on the other hand, are plentiful. Nor is there any lack of critics who chant “give us more evidence,” demanding a larger amount of evidence to their satisfaction – which of course, is a level of evidence that will never exist, no matter how much of it there is. Another consistent pattern with his critics is that they assume that an author must be able to prove the meaning of their research to the satisfaction of a hostile or skeptical critic in order to be considered valid. If the author fails to accomplish this task, it proves that he or she doesn’t understand what it means, and furthermore their failure to do so is definitive proof that the entirety of the research is consequently meaningless.
The debate on Grover Furr is always about form – the person, his writing style, his alleged motives, his allege dishonesty or lack of qualifications, and never about content – the evidence presented, what it shows, and whether it’s true or not. The infantile pseudo-left responds to science with provocation, facts with hostility, reason with insults, ideological questions with personal attacks, and the deep questions posed by Furr’s work with shallow criticisms. This is not to say that anyone who has criticisms of Furr’s work is automatically opposed to socialism. Far from it – criticism is an essential part of being a Marxist-Leninist. But by and large the criticisms of Grover Furr are not made from a principled standpoint.
“No one takes Grover Furr seriously” is the refrain. Yet, John Arch Getty, Robert Thurston, Lars Lih and many others have praised Furr’s work while disagreeing with his politics. One does not have to completely share Furr’s worldview to find a great deal of value in his essays, articles and books. In fact, any serious researcher, Marxist or not, can learn a great deal from the evidence he gathers to back up his viewpoints, evidence that is almost never studiously read or studied by those who violently denounce it. If the idea that Furr is not a serious academic is a legitimate position to take, then there should be criticisms of his scholarship. Perhaps not surprisingly, I haven’t heard a single argument as to why Grover Furr is an unacceptable source of information other than his opinions aren’t popular. If his arguments themselves cannot be addressed, then his critics have no right to reject the citing of his work.
Much is made of Furr’s “academic credentials,” or alleged lack thereof, to write about the subjects he chooses. He is an English professor they say, and therefore cannot be considered an authority on history. These noble knights dedicated to the defense of “credible” capitalist academia you see, must speak out against Furr. Yet, these same people have no problem with the works of Noam Chomsky, a linguist who writes an endless parade of books on a wide variety of subjects outside of his field, such as criticizing U.S. foreign policy, economy, science, immigration and the Cold War. Anyone who is familiar with Chomsky’s work knows his views are fairly traditional anarchism combined with Enlightenment-era classical liberalism. They are not friendly to socialism, and certainly no threat to anyone in the ruling class. Speaking out against imperialism in of itself is not a particularly radical act, especially when you’re not criticizing it from a Marxist perspective. Many far-rightists and libertarians speak out against U.S. foreign policy as well. Why the double standard? What is the difference between Furr and Chomsky? Quite simple, really. Chomsky is the poster boy of left anti-communism, of a “safe” and defanged leftism deprived of anything not acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Meanwhile, Furr’s research attempts to refute popular anti-communist propaganda instead of accepting it. The pseudo-left would rather back the petty-bourgeois cause than the proletarian one, because they are “radicals” stuck in that method of thinking.
It is is absolutely inarguable that the modern view of the history of socialism has been shaped by those who despise it, and yet phony leftists have no trouble upholding the most vile smears against Soviet, Eastern European and Chinese history. In an atmosphere where the highly dubious works of Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes are upheld as a dogma and treated as material to be seriously engaged with or even refuted, Furr’s work is singled out by both reactionaries and the pseudo-left for outright dismissal and slander.
When denial is not enough, general charges are invented, such as the allegation his presentations of history are “conspiracy theories.” This has also been used to describe the works of other Marxist-Leninist scholars, such as William Bland. I stress again that until there are refutations, one cannot accept these charges. After all, with all the history of capitalist plots we’ve learned, can one seriously accept this level of argumentation? Are the facts true, or not? Blanket cries of “Stalinist” directed against Furr mean nothing. If critics have counter-evidence, then let them step forward and present it. This should not be an unreasonable demand for a Marxist – or for anyone, really.
When Furr speaks of opposition conspiracies within the Soviet Union, or of holes and outright falsifications in the official story of Katyn, these are treated with the utmost skepticism. The idea that the defendants of the Moscow Trials may have actually been involved in terrorist conspiracies to overthrow the Soviet government and assassinate officials is seen as nonsense. Yet, when we are presented with stories of a heinous conspiracy involving J.V. Stalin and a substantial number of other high officials to themselves assassinate Zinoviev, Bukharin and a number of others through judicial means, then this “conspiracy theory” is adopted as the default correct position. It follows that it is easier to go along with the dominant narrative – that is, that of the bourgeoisie – regarding the history of socialism than it is to objectively challenge these ideas.
With the fake left, the formula could not be more simple: U.S. Cold War propaganda is upheld, pro-communist scholarly research is not. Every charge against the socialist countries is true; every defense of socialism is akin to Holocaust denial. Those who would agree, at least in words, that the history of the Soviet Union is falsified by capitalist scholars and reactionaries, and that socialist leaders are routinely subjected to outright slander are declared “insane,” their research or conclusions “absurd,” and derided as “crackpots” or “Stalinists.” The critics do not review the evidence or engage with the thesis; they merely dismiss it. They do not present counter-evidence; they merely assert it. Furr’s fake “left” opponents claim that Furr is “not credible scholarship” only because they don’t agree with it. Furr is only a “crackpot” because they don’t like what he has to say. In their view, scholarly research that counters the bourgeois propaganda narrative of history should be cast aside, silenced, devalued, delegitimized, hidden from the public view and ultimately, destroyed.
It seems to me the “left” needs to look in a mirror and stare itself straight in the eye, and ask: what have we come to, if we cannot refute these works? What exactly does it say, when the entire pseudo-left cannot refute someone who is supposedly “a crackpot with no academic credentials?” What does it say, when they cannot even define the actual content of his work when asked, yet they have already declared it false on the whole? What does it say, when they have no evidence to counter Furr’s claims, but rely on attacking Grover Furr the person?
Any allegations that his works are “below criticism” are disingenuous. If they are worthy of such hostility, then they are worthy of honest criticism. If only all of us checked their facts and cited their sources for all to see like Furr does, rather than rest on our own preconceived notions and prejudices, perhaps the American left wouldn’t be in such a precarious position these days.
The pseudo-left’s hatred has nothing to do with honesty. This is because of anti-communism, not political disagreement, not ideological difference, not a problem with Furr’s research or his conclusions, not an issue with his methods, or legitimate criticism of his evidence. It is a liberal and reactionary view that anything anti-Soviet and anti-Stalin must be true, while anything that challenges that view must be attacked, smeared, demonized, ridiculed and silenced. When evidence is not engaged with or dismissed, and the person themselves is slandered, it is not principled disagreement, it is not ideological difference – it is hate and prejudice.
The question stands: why does the pseudo left hate Grover Furr? The answer becomes plain: they hate Grover Furr precisely because his works challenge the hegemony of the Trotsky-Khrushchev-Gorbachev-Cold War anti-communist anti-Stalin paradigm, the dominant paradigm of the bourgeoisie. In other words, they hate Grover Furr because he is a good communist in an age filled with fake ones. They hate Grover Furr because he is an honest researcher in an age filled to the brim with propaganda. They hate Grover Furr because he has evidence for the conclusions he draws and presents it openly, rather than relying on emotionalism. They hate Grover Furr because he challenges the bourgeois anti-communist understanding of Soviet history. These days pseudo-leftists are not just dishonest or liberal; they are avowed anti-communists.
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.
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.
A Paper Originally Scheduled To Be Read By Bill Bland At The Conference Of ‘International Struggle: Marxist-Leninist’ In October 1999; Paris.
Brief Foreword: This talk was never delivered as Comrade Bland at the very last moment could not attend. The talk is offered however as a useful distillation of several decades of thought and concrete, factual and hard Marxist-Leninist research. The talk itself, originated in one that Comrade Bland gave to the young Communist League in 1975 at a summer school. It was widely distributed and has influenced the Marxist-Leninist movement profoundly. However, its implicatiosn ahve yet to be fully absorbed by certain sections of the movement. That original talk, and a later one given to the Stalin Society of the UK in 1991, are both also presented on this web page elsewhere; and are completely referenced. This web-page, being a summary in the form of a talk is not referenced.
Today almost everyone who calls himself a Marxist-Leninist accepts that, in its final years, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was dominated by revisionists — that is, by people who claimed to be Marxist-Leninists but who had in reality distorted Marxism-Leninism to serve the interests of an embryonic capitalist class.
On one question, however, there is still disagreement, namely, when did the domination of the CPSU by revisionists begin?
These days, most people date it from the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, when Khrushchev threw off his false Marxist-Leninist mask.
However, there are good grounds for believing that for many years prior to Stalin’s death in 1953, a majority of the Soviet leadership were either concealed or latent revisionists.
All this makes sense if — and I believe only if — we accept the fact that for some years before his death, Stalin and his fellow Marxist-Leninists were in a minority in the leadership of the Soviet Union.
The fact of the existence of a revisionist majority in the leadership of the CPSU was effectively concealed by the ‘cult of personality’ that was built up around Stalin.
Stalin himself criticised and ridiculed this ‘cult’ on numerous occasions. Yet it continued.
It follows that Stalin was either an utter hypocrite, or he was unable to put a stop to this ‘cult’.
The initiator of the ‘cult of personality’ around Stalin was, in fact, Karl Radek, who pleaded guilty to treason at his public trial in 1937.
A typical example of the ‘cult’ is the following quotation from 1936:
“Miserable pygmies! They lifted their hands against the greatest of all living men, our wise leader Comrade Stalin. We assure you, Comrade Stalin, that we will increase our Stalinist vigilance still more and close our ranks around the Stalinist Central Committee and the great Stalin.”
The author of these words was one Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced the ‘cult’ as an indication of Stalin’s ‘vanity’ and ‘personal power’.
It was Khrushchev too who introduced the term ‘vozhd’ for Stalin — a term meaning ‘leader’ and equivalent to the Nazi term ‘Fuehrer’.
Why should the revisionists have built up this ‘cult of personality’ around Stalin?
It was, I suggest, because it disguised the fact that not Stalin and the Marxist-Leninists, but they — concealed opponents of socialism — who held a majority in the leadership. It enabled them to take actions — such as the arrest of many innocent persons between 1934 and 1938 (when they controlled the security forces) and subsequently blame these ‘breaches of socialist legality’ upon Stalin.
Stalin himself is on record as telling the German author Lion Feuchtwanger in 1936 that the ‘cult of his personality’ was being built up by his political opponents (I quote:)
“ . . . with the aim of discrediting him at a later date.”
Clearly, Stalin’s ‘pathological suspicion’ of some of his colleagues, of which Khrushchev complained so bitterly in his secret speech to the 20th Congress, was not pathological at all!
On one allegation both Stalin and the revisionists are agreed — that in Stalin’s time miscarriages of justice occurred in which innocent people were judically murdered.
The revisionists, of course, maintain that Stalin was responsible for these miscarriages of justice.
But there is a contradiction here.
Krushchev himself said in his 1956 secret speech (and I quote):
“The question is complicated here by the fact that all this was done because Stalin was convinced that this was necessary for the defence of the interest of the working class against the plotting of ememies. He saw this from the position of the interests of the working class, of the interest of the victory of socialism.”
But only a person who was completely insane could possibly imagine that the arrest of innocent people could serve socialism. And all the evidence shows that Stalin retained his full mental faculties right to his death.
However, the contradiction resolves itself if these judicial murders were carried out, not at the behest of Stalin and the Marxist-Leninists, but at the behest of the revisionist opponents of socialism.
At his public trial in 1938, the former People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs, Genrikh Yagoda, pleaded guilty to having arranged the murder of his predecessor, Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, in order to secure his own promotion to a post which gave him control over the Soviet security services. He then, according to his own admission, used this position to protect the terrorists responsible for the murder of prominent Marxist-Leninists close to Stalin — including the Leningrad Party Secretary, Sergei Kirov, and the famous writer Maksim Gorky.
And in order that the security services should not appear idle, Yagoda arranged for the arrest of many people who were not conspirators, but had merely been indiscreet.
After Yagoda’s arrest, the conspirators were successful in getting him succeeded by another conspirator, Nikolai Yezhov, who continued and intensified this process.
It was because of the suspicions of Stalin and the Marxist-Leninists that the security services were acting incorrectly — were protecting the guilty and punishing the innocent — that they began to use Stalin’s personal secretariat, headed by Aleksandr Poskrebyshev, as their private detective agency.
And it was on the basis of the evidence uncovered by this Secretariat and submitted directly to the Party — that the concealed revisionists, to maintain their cover, were compelled to endorse the arrest of genuine conspirators, including Yagoda and Yezhov.
And it was on Stalin’s personal initiative that in 1938, his friend, the Marxist-Leninist Lavrenty Beria, was brought to Moscow from the Caucasus to take harge of the security services.
Under Beria, political prisoners arrested under Yagoda and Yezhov had their cases reviewed and, as Western press correspondents reported at the time, many thousands of people unjustly sentenced were released and rehabilitated.
Marxist-Lenininists in Britain, in particular, should have no difficulty in accepting the picture of a Marxist-Leninist minority in the CPSU.
How many members of the Communist Party of Great Britain came out in opposition to the revisionist ‘British Road to Socialism’, which preached the absurd ‘parliamentary road to socialism’ when it was adopted in 1951? I know of only four.
The question arises, of course:
if revisionists had a majority in the leadership of the CPSU from the 1930s, why did they not take any steps to dismantle socialism until 1956, after Stalin’s death?
The short answer is that they tried and failed.
In the early 1940s, the economists Eugen Varga and Nikolai Voznsensky both published books openly espousing revisionist programmes, and both were quickly slapped down by the Marxist-Leninists.
Of course, it is important not to exaggerate the extent of these miscarriages of justice.
In the 1960s, anti-Soviet propaganda originally published in Nazi Germany, was republished by a former British secret service agent named Robert Conquest under the more respectable cloak of Harvard University. In his 1969 book ‘The Great Terror’ Conquest puts the number of ‘Stalin’s victims’ (in inverted commas) at ‘between 5 and 6 million’.
But by the 1980s, Conquest was alleging that there had been in 1939 a total of 25 to 30 million prisoners in the Soviet Union, that in 1950 there had been 12 million political prisoners.
But when, under Gorbachev, the archives of the Central Committee of the CPSU were opened up to researchers, it was found that the number of political prisoners in 1939 had been 454,000, not the millions claimed by Conquest.
If we add those in prison for non-political offences, we get a figure of 2.5 million, that is, 2.4% of the adult population.
In contrast, there were in the United States in 1996, according to official figures, 5.5 million people in prison, or 2.8% of the adult population.
That is, the number of prisoners in the USA today is 3 million more than the maximum number ever held in the Soviet Union.
In January 1953, less than two months before Stalin’s death, nine doctors working in the Kremlin were arrested on charges of having murdered certain Soviet leaders — including Andrei Zhdanov in 1948 — by administering to them deliberately incorrect medical treatment.
The charges arose out of an investigation into allegations by a woman doctor, Lydia Timashuk, The accused doctors were charged with conspiracy to murder in conjunction with the American Zionist organisation ‘JOINT’.
Western press correspondents in Moscow insisted that some of the most prominent Soviet leaders were under investigation in connection with the case.
But before the case could be brought to trial, Stalin conveniently died.
The Albanian Marxist-Leninist Enver Hoxha, a tireless oppponent of revisionism and not a man given to indulging in unfounded gossip — insists that Soviet revisionist leaders admitted — nay, rather boasted — to him that they had murdered him. And we know that Stalin’s son was himself arrested and imprisoned for having declared that his father had been killed as part of a plot.
Be that as it may, the arrested doctors were immediately released and officially ‘rehabilitated’.
Then Lavrenti Beria — a scourge of the revisionists second only to Stalin — was arrested in a military coup, tried in secret, and executed.
The way was open for the revisionist conspirators to throw off their masks, expel the remaining Marxist-Leninists from leading positions in the Party, and take the first steps towards the restoration of a capitalist society.
This, then, is the picture of Stalin that emerges from an objective examination of the facts.
It is the picture of a great Marxist-Leninist who fought all his life for the cause of socialism and the working class.
It is the picture of a great Marxist-Leninist who, although surrounded by revisionist traitors, succeeded during his lifetime in preventing this revisionist majority from significantly betraying the working class he loved and restoring the capitalist system he hated.
We in all countries who have taken on the task of rebuilding the international communist movement must see the defence of Stalin as a part of the defence of Marxism-Leninism.
There can be no greater compliment for anyone who aspires to be a Marxist-Leninist than to be called a Stalinist.
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.
1. INTRODUCTION. 4
1. THE WAR ITSELF – MUTINY OF THE GENERALS 5
2. WHAT LIES BEHIND THIS WAR ? THE OIL BACKGROUND 8
3.VIEW OF STALIN VERSUS KHRUSHCHEV AND VOSNOSENSKY UPON INDUSTRY 9
4. DIVISIONS INSIDE THE USSR CAPITALIST CLASS SINCE STALIN 15
5. THE ERA OF GORBACHEV AND YELTSIN 21
6. THE CRASH OF THE ROUBLE 22
The nation of CHECHNEYA, under the former socialist state of the USSR, enjoyed full national rights up to and including the right of secession. This lasted until the German invasion of Soviet USSR in 1941, when part of the Chechen-Ingush people allied themselves with the German fascists. For that reason, a correct policy of transportation of the rebels away from the Front, was undertaken (See forthcoming reprint of address to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland; Alliance 14). Following the war, full national rights were restored and Chechnya-Ingush was once more part of the Soviet Socialist Federation of Republics.
The democratic government of Chechnya-Ingush stated its wishes for autonomy in 1991. Since then, they have endured attacks by troops of the Russian Federation. Recently, this “hidden war” became a full scale vicious assault, led by Boris Yeltsin‘s Russian Government, against the Chechen Government. Yet the Chechen Government and its peoples led by General Dzokar Dudayev, have waged a determined and resolute battle of self-defence. The Chechen bravery is only matched by the relentless bombardments of the Russian invading army. In the midst of a brutal war, once more, the utter bankruptcy of Yeltsin’s regime is exposed.
BUT THE CONDUCT OF THIS WAR, SHOWS THAT THERE IS AN OPEN CONFLICT WITHIN THE RULING CLASS OF RUSSIAN CAPITALISTS. WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR THIS DIFFERENCE?
Even during Stalin’s lifetime, hidden revisionists advocated a shift away from emphasis on heavy industry. Stalin successfully defeated these hidden revisionists led by Khrushchev. But after his death, the division between advocates of Heavy industry on one side; and advocates of Light industry on the other, took on the character of a battle between two sections of the capitalist class. There remains now a fundamental division of interests in the Russian capitalist class, between capitalists based in heavy industry, and capitalists based in light industry. The detailed evidence for this is presented below.
This article tries to answer the following questions:
“Yeltsin must have had some reasons to launch this war. What were these?”
“What explains the divisions between the army and Yeltsin?”
“What is the nature of the open conflict between Yeltsin and his capitalist opponents?”
“What is the meaning of this for the working class of Russia and the other nations?” and,
“What is the attitude of Marxist-Leninist to Chechenya?
Marxist-Leninists recognise that the Army is part of the “armed might” of the state itself. If so we must explain the :
“Near-mutiny in the upper ranks of the army.. at least half a dozen senior generals and probably many more have refused to fight in Chechnya or give their support to the campaign there.. those who have signalled open dissent are high-profile, sometimes politically active and popular men in their early middle years.”
Financial Times, London UK. Dec 31/1 Jan, 1995. p.7.
In this mutiny, Major General Ivan Babichev, refused to fire on the people of Grozny.
THE CURRENT MUTINY OF THE ARMY GENERALS, AGAINST THE WAR IS DUE TO THREE FACTORS:
i) A Proletarian refusal to fire upon the people.
Some generals probably are genuinely moved by the plight of the people; and refuse to fire as an international proletarian duty.
ii) A Military and strategic refusal to engage.
Some generals realise that the war cannot be won in this manner. High echelons of Army elsewhere, like senior Commanders in the British army see Major General Ivan Babichev’s behaviour as follows:
“I think he knew they were going about the operation entirely the wrong way and he didn’t have the means to complete the task, “One said.. “Tanks and armoured vehicles are almost useless in fighting in built up areas, said a British general who helped devise NATO tactics for the defence of Berlin during the Cold War.”
Daily Telegraph, London, UK, reprinted Globe and Mail, Toronto, 3.1.95. p.A9.
BUT THERE IS A THIRD REASON WHY THE ARMY IS IN MUTINY:
iii) An Inter-Capitalist battle aimed at Yeltsin.
The army and its advocates, benefit largely from the advocates of heavy industry. Part of the army’s refusal is, explained by the lining up of the army with the scions of heavy industry based capitalists in Russia.
THE OBJECTIVE OF THE MUTINY WAS TO HUMILIATE YELTSIN AND LEAD HIS GOVERNMENT INTO A SERIOUS CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE IN ITS CONTINUATION.
THE TACTICS OF THE ARMY GENERALS IN RELATION TO THIS WAR WERE :
First to lure Yeltsin into a seeming “short lived war”. Obviously Yeltsin was led to believe that a military venture would be a short lived and “un-costly” war in terms of Russian dead and political consequences.
Second; to then refuse his directions when the war was palpably failing.
Third; to refuse to disengage when he ordered to do so. After foreign pressure was brought to bear following the brutal air bombing, Yeltsin was compelled to order the troops to stop bombing. Yet this order has been repeatedly ignored:
“Mr. Yeltsin demanded to know why the bombing of Grozny was not stopped when he ordered it at end last week. He has now ordered two bombing halts, and.. the artillery assault on the city has never been heavier. Looking directly at Mr. Grachev, he said : “I want to hear absolutely precise information from the Defense Minister (Mr. Grachev).”
New York Times, 7.1.95; p.1-4.
Reasons offered for ignoring Yeltsin’s orders have been clearly insubordinate, but have mainly hinged on military imperatives :
“Col Gen.Pavel S.Grachev, commander of Russia’s airborne troops – said :”Once we’ve launched the operation we must finish it. There is no way back.”
New York Times, New York, 7.1.95. p.4.
“Yevgeny Podkolzin, commander of Russia’s airborne troops in Chechnya, said the President’s order would cause serious problems for Russian soldiers inside Grozny.. If “Bombings stop, men from each window and basement and from behind each corner will fire at our soldiers..” He warned that it could take the military until the end of January to capture Grozny. Instead of storming the city, the military should have simply surrounded it and blockaded it, he said. But he added: “Once we have launched this operation, we must finish it. There is no way back”.
Globe and Mail, Toronto, 7.1.95. p. A11.
The results for Mr. Yeltsin to date are depressingly clear, he is “between rock and a hard place”:
“Mr Yeltsin finds himself caught between two clear dangers: the political and moral cost of pressing on militarily in Chechnya, and the political and strategic cost of giving up.. it seems he has decided that the costs of giving up are worse for himself and the country than pressing ahead.”
New York Times, 7.1.95.; p.4.
IN FACT THE OVERALL OBJECTIVES OF THE ARMY GENERALS’ MUTINY APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFULLY ACHIEVED:
“The economic and personal costs of the war continued to mount. Russian newspapers and agencies have estimated Russian casualties in the fighting to date at anywhere between 256 to more than 1000. Another victim is the Russian currency, which has fallen 2.7% over the last two days to a rate of 3,661 roubles to the dollar. The Russian central bank, which estimates has spent at least $200 million over the past 2 days to prevent a larger fall, raised its key re-financing rate to a nine month high of 200 %, up from 180%. “The Russian economy has started to feel the consequences of the Chechen crisis,” Mr. Alexander Livshits, the president’s chief economic adviser said.. warning of inflationary pressures.”
Financial Times, London, 7.1.95. p.26.
“The economy is suffering.. the expense threatens to blow a hole in a budget designed to be tough.. it is a critical time. The budget depends on a phased series of loans from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The stabilisation of the currency- the main aims of the loan- depends in its turn on making the budget even tougher than that approved by the state duma, parliaments’ lower house this month. Moreover the government will have to stick to its budgeted targets. Last year it squandered opportunities for economic reform by printing money when the going got rough..Mr. Yeltsin humbled his Government after “Black Tuesday” in October, when the rouble lost a quarter of its value against the hard currencies. This re-established his pre-eminence, but no international financial institution or government will now find it a stabilisation programme credible unless they also believe he is committed to it. At present however, he is committed only to wining in Chechnya.”
Financial Times, London, 1.1.95, p.7
Mr. Yegor Gaidar, until recently a staunch ally of Yeltsin’s, warned of a military coup:
“There is a great danger of a military coup.” Russian democracy has never been shakier since the break up of the Soviet Union. Mr. Gaidar who broke with the President over the Chechnya policy, called events there “a massive military crime.” He urged Mr. Yeltsin to get rid of those “who pushed him into this adventure,”, including Defense Minister Pavel S. Grachev; Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai D. Yegoroav and Oleg Lobov, the secretary of the National Security Council.”
New York Times, 4.1.95. pA1-A6.
It is precisely because the foreign imperialists see their man, Yeltsin, under such intense difficulties; that they give him advice. This advice consists on the whole to stop the battle in Chechnya to search for a negotiated settlement. These efforts are led by France and Germany, and would use “experts” from the Organisations for Security and Cooperation In Europe (OSCE) (New York Times 4.1.95, p.A1). The USA also concedes Yeltsin’s mistakes, but continues to fully support Yeltsin as “their man”, also urging Yeltsin to use the OSCE (NY Times, 7.1.95. p.A4). In fact, the international imperialists have not criticised Yeltsin’s basic stand of denial of national rights to Chechnya. Thus President Clinton:
“Reiterated his Administration’s support for Russia’s unity and territorial integrity and its opposition to any attempt to change the international border by force.”
New York Times, 7.1.95. p.A4.
Data from recent trade negotiations over oil indicate something is more at stake in Chechnya than simple autonomy. Azerbaijan, itself a victim of recent aggression launched by Russian imperialist forces, tried to exert national rights. The suppression of these rights was directly linked to the oil reserves. Prospects of oil prompted fervent bargaining by Russian capitalists with foreign imperialism. But the deal cut, antagonised a section of the Russian capitalist class, enough to spur them on to struggle with foreign imperialism:
“A leaked letter sent by Andrei Kozyrev, Russia’s Foreign Minister to Viktor Chernomyrdin, his prime minister, reveals that Russia plans to prevent Western oil companies from going ahead with a $8Bn (PS 5bn) agreement to exploit offshore field in the Caspian The agreement advertised as “the deal of the century”, was signed by Azerbaijan and a consortium of Western oil companies led by British petroleum.. Mr. Kozyrev stresses the importance of Russia retaining its share of the Caspian reserves.. and proposes that Russia will impose economic sanctions on Azerbaijan if it does not back down.. Russia is unlikely to retreat because the way it deals with Azerbaijan sets a precedent for Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the two other republics with long Caspian coast lines and growing oil industries.”
The Independent; London UK; 3.11.94. p.14
This agreement would link the British owned British Petroleum, owning 30% of shares; with the US Oil companies of Pennzoil and Amoco which together holding 40% of shares; and Azerbaijan’s Socar Company holding 20%, and Russian owned Lukoil owning 10%. The Carnegie Endowment For International Peace commented :
“If the Russians throw a monkey wrench in the oil deal there will be a strong reaction here in Washington because so much money is involved.” A diplomat said : “It shows Russia will not allow any of the ex-Soviet states to move towards full economic independence.”
Independent, Ibid, 3.11.94. p.14.
The War in Chechneya shows that this interpretation is correct.
BUT WHO IS MR. CHERNOMYRIDIN, THE PRIME MINISTER,
AND WHY DOES THE ABOVE CONCERN CHECHNYA?
“The oil and gas lobby is very powerful with Mr. Viktor Chernomyridin, former head of Gazprom, as prime minister. Ensuring that oil and gas from Central Asia is transported to Europe via Russian pipelines and ports is an obsession. the main oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the oil export harbour of Novorossiisk passes through Chechnya.. at stake is.. control over the main rail, road and gas rich Caspian sea and the central Asian republics.”
Financial Times, London, UK, 7-8.1.95. p.2.
Thus, Chechnya is critical as a conduit for the oil reservs of the Caspian coastal areas. Naturally Chernomyridin has financial interests stemming from his previous job, to protect. But, to fully understand the complexity of the stands taken by Chernomyridin, Kozyrev and the other new Russian ruling capitalists, we have to understand their class positions.
i) Under Socialism : View of Stalin Versus Khrushchev and Vosnosensky Upon Industry
There is a basic difference between two types of industry.
The split is between Heavy (Marx’s Department A) and Light (Marx’s Department B). This, split, is an important consideration for the development of a country’s industrial, and economic independence. As Stalin said:
“We must maintain the present rate of development of industry; we must at the first opportunity speed it up in order to pour goods into the rural areas and obtain more grain from them, to supply agriculture, and primarily the collective farms and state farms, with machines, so as to industrialise agriculture and to increase the proportion of its output for the market. Should we perhaps, for the sake of greater “caution”, retard the development of heavy industry so as to make light industry, which produces chiefly for the peasant market, the basis of our industry? Not under any circumstances! That would be.. suicidal; it would mean abandoning the slogan of industrialising our country, it would mean transforming our country into an appendage of the world capitalist system of economy.”
Stalin J.V.S. 28 May, 1928. “Speech to the Institute of Red Professors, On the Grain Front”, ‘Works’, Volume 11, Moscow 1954, p.98.
Stalin was arguing here, mainly against Nikolai Bukharin, who had argued that the economic measures proposed by Stalin were:
“A disastrous going over to the Trotskyist positions.” An industrialisation based on the “impoverishment of the country, the degradation of agriculture, and the squandering of reserves.”
Stephen F.Cohen, “Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution A Political Biography 1888-1938″, Oxford, 1980, p.306.
Nonetheless, a successful industrialisation was achieved leading to the establishment of socialism in 1936. But hidden revisionism later resurrected the Bukharin line, in its new life under Khrushchev. Khrushchev and allies wished to reintroduce profit as a regulator of production. Moreover they wished to place more emphasis on increasing the availability of consumer goods. This of necessity, would lead to a dominance of consumer based industry – or light industry, over heavy industry. The countryside became one focus of this sharp conflict, and took the form that:
“Some members of the Politburo.. urged that the traditional course be modified in the direction of increased reliance on economic levers.. and relaxation of central controls over kolkhozes.. this was current among leaders.. like.. Voznosensky.. and Khrushchev.. and opposed by Malenkov and Beria.”
Sidney Ploss Conflict and Decision Making in Soviet Russia. A case study of agricultural policy 1953-1963. Princeton, 1965. p.28.
The general line of Khrushchev in the countryside was completely in keeping with Vosnosensky‘s own stated views. Thus Vosnosensky had allied with a wing of economists and party officials who wished to relax the planning priority for Department A goods:
“Vosnosensky, Mikoyan, Kosygin and Rodionov came in 1945 explicitly together as a managerial grouping which favoured establishing a place in the eacetie economy of the Soviet Union of light as well as heavy industries.. Vosnosensky’s Five Year Plan speech of March 1946 assigned priority on the immediate level to reconstruction tasks, civilian housing and consumer goods.. After 1945 this group and particularly Rodionov was involved in political intrigues.. Rodionov was a Russian nationalist.”
William O McCagg, Junior:”Stalin Embattled: 1943-1948″, Detroit; 1978; p.134-135.
The Vosnosenky clique, effected their programme in their own power base of Leningrad:
“After 1945.. in the Russian republic a number of administrative reforms to increase consumer production.. ministries for technical culture, cinematographic, luxury goods, delicatessen products light industry and the like was established.”
McCagg bid, p. 135, 163.
In 1947, Vosnosenky published a major work, entitled “The War Economy of the USSR In the Period of the Patriotic War.” This work took significant departures from Marxism-Leninism. Amongst others, it favoured relaxing the priority of Department A goods:
“It is proposed to increase the portion of the social product earmarked for consumption.”
Nikolai Vosnosensky “War Economy of the USSR in the Period of the Patriotic War”; Moscow; 194; p.147.
Khrushchev, now allied with Vosnosensky, argued that the self-interest of the peasants be boosted by a “link” system of small unit production which would aid incentive related payment.
These policies all aimed to “enrich” the peasant and reinforce individual small scale capitalist tendencies in the countryside.
“They adopted measures to reward diligent work in both the private and socialised sectors. The policies of one-cow-per-house-hold, commercial trade, and the small work unit in grain farming were all directed at this end. The leaders most closely associated with these incentive policies were Khrushchev and Voznosensky.”
Ploss Ibid. p.39-40.
“N.A.Voznosensky.. promoted greater material encouragement.. defense of the collective farmers rights to conduct private activities and enhanced autonomy and payment for on the spot technicians.” Ploss. p.29.
Powerful agrarian party officials supported Khrushchev.
At the February 1947 CPSU(B) CC Plenum, Vosnosensky was raised to full membership in the Politburo. Khruschevites dominated the 1947 CC Plenum :
“Within the CPSU(B) CC Plenum in February 1947, Andreyev promoted the same views.. and with Dronin (a key Khruschevite supporter from the Ukraine).. authorized incentive driven “link” in grain farming. Still another concession to peasant self-interest which resulted from the Plenum was broader allowance for consumer cooperatives to act as commission agents in disposing of kolkhoz surpluses in urban markets. The cooperative shops paid higher than official state purchase prices for foodstuffs bought under decentralized procurement and offered urban consumers an alternative to the free kolkhoz market in supplementing their purchases. In the early part of 1947, 19,000 commission shops opened.”
Initially, as Stalin was in a minority on the Politburo, his counter-attack was tangential; but effective, in that no changes at the kolkhozes could be made without the direct participation of practical specialists at the kolkhozes:
“Stalin came forward at the February 1947 CC Plenum with one of his rare overt interventions of the day. Andreyev revealed.. that Stalin recommended that agricultural experts not working in farms and MTS, but in administrative posts remote from the barnyards should receive a quarter less pay than those in operational jobs. This would have logically complemented a recent directive prohibiting anyone from rescinding or altering agro-technical measures formed by kolkhozes.. without the knowledge of the specialists involved or permission of the district representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture.
p.33 Ibid. Ploss.
Stalin also effected the removal of Khrushchev from the party First Secretaryship of the Ukraine, subordinating him to Kaganovich. But Khrushchev remained premier of Ukraine.
BY 1949, THE PLANS OF THE LENINGRAD CLIQUE OF VOSNOSENSKY TO RESURRECT CAPITALISM WAS EVEN MORE CLEAR. ACCORDING TO KHRUSHCHEV HIMSELF, STALIN HAD SAID ABOUT VOSNOSENKY’S 5 YEAR PLAN:
“You are seeking to restore capitalism in Russia.”
Khrushchev, cited by Wolfgang Leonard:”The Kremlin Since Stalin”, London; 1962; p.177.
Accordingly under Stalin’s directives Vosnosensky was dismissed as Chairman of the USSR State Planning Committees on 5 March 1949. The trial of Vosnosensky and the other members of the “Leningrad Affair” took place on 29-30 September 1990; and Vosnosensky was sentenced to death. (See “The Leningrad Affair”, extracted from W.B.Bland; ” Restoration of capitalism in the USSR.” Wembley, London 1979; ISBN; re-printed Alliance Number 9).
Meanwhile, Khrushchev soon launched a campaign aimed at creating “agro-towns” to “improve the lot” of the peasant, at a Moscow Regional Soviet meeting in March 1950 he unveiled a grand plan:
“He tabled proposals to consolidate the many medium and small sized kolkhozes into large scale units and provide them with elementary urban amenities like electric lighting and plumbing.. the Kolkhozes were also entitled, he held, to build their own subsidiary enterprises.. he envisioned model plans for administration, public and recreational buildings.”
Ploss, Ibid, p.46-7.
“Khrushchev.. championed the village improvement program in speeches.. abridged in Pravda on March 4 1951.”
Sidney Ploss. Ibid, p.49.
THESE POLICIES OF THE KHRUSCHEVITES WOULD INCREASE THE DEMAND FOR CONSUMER LIGHT INDUSTRY. STALIN WAS OPPOSED TO THESE MANOUEVRES:
“Stalin decisively intervened in the matter of rural reconstruction on March 5 1951. At his behest, the editors of Pravda informed readers that, through an oversight.. word had been omitted that Khrushchev’s article of the previous day was offered only for purposes of discussion and did not express.. official opinion.. Malenkov at the 19th Party Congress, rebuked “some of our leading workers” (Khrushchev) who.. had forgotten the principal production tasks facing the collective farms”.. Malenkov claimed also that building materials produced in kolkhozes were more expensive .. than those of state industry.”
Ploss, Ibid, p.49-50.
AS PART OF STALIN’S COUNTER-ATTACK ON REVISIONISM, HE PUBLISHED “ECONOMIC PROBLEMS OF SOCIALISM IN THE USSR”, IN 1952.
IN THIS WORK STALIN ATTACKED IDEAS THAT :
“Stalin made permanent the priority status of heavy engineering over that of light and food industries.. In the course of his monologue, Stalin revealed that one of his critics outside the Kremlin had appealed to the Politburo at large to start creating badly needed material incentives for the peasantry. The statistician Yaroshenko affirmed at a plenary session of the economic conference in November 1951, and in a letter sent on March 20th, 1952, to members of the Politburo, that Marx’s theory for the normalcy for preferential development of heavy industry was applicable only to capitalist economies and was inappropriate under socialism.”
Cited Ploss, Ibid, p.53-54.
Later, Khrushchev following Stalin’s death, effected the very changes he had earlier argued for unsuccessfully against Stalin. Khrushchev, first dismantled the Machine and Tractor Stations in the countryside (MTS), then actively promoted the proponents of light industry over and above that of heavy industry. During his lifetime, Stalin fought against each of these retrogressive steps introduced by Khrushchev.
Ill informed commentators see the struggle between the Marxist-Leninists, led by Stalin (pro-Heavy Industrial) and the revisionists led by Khrushchev (pro-Light Industry), as hinged on how hard to “squeeze” the peasant. It is alleged that Stalin wished to squeeze the peasant, and that his resistance to “consumerism” or light industry was based on this. In fact, Marxist-Leninist resistance at that time to further expenditure on light industry was based on the overwhelming necessity to increase the heavy industrial base in order to improve the well being of the people. Stalin makes this clear in “Economic problems of socialism”:
“Insuring the maximum satisfaction of the continual growing material and cultural needs of society – that is the goal of socialist production : a continuing growth and development of socialist industry on the basis of an even higher technology that is the means for its attainment.” J.V.Stalin Cited F.A.Durgin Jr. “The relationship of Stalin’s death to the economic change of the post-Stalin era”
In R.C.Stuart. The Soviet rural economy. New Jersey, 1984. p. 78.
Durgin writing in 1984, comments how modern this concept is:
“This postulate…is one that the current generation for US economists has come to recognise…in the new ‘supply side’ economics.”
During points out the higher expenditures on consumer goods under Stalin, rather than Brezhnev:
“One of the most salient and overlooked features of the post-Stalin era has been the ever decreasing share of GNP going to consumption and the ever increasing share going to investment.. consumption’s share fell from 62.4% of the total in 1950 under Stalin to some 56.5% in 1974 under Brezhnev. Investments’ share during the same period doubled, rising from 14.8% of the total to 28.4%. The “imbalance”.. of the Stalin years seems not to have improved, but rather in a certain sense have worsened.”
Durgin concludes :
“All of the Stalin Five Year Plans called for significant increases in consumption. While consumption’s share of the national income during the First Five year Plan was to fall from 77.4 to 66.4 %, in absolute terms it was to increase by some 75%. The Second Plan called for a 133 % increase in the output of consumer goods and a two fold increase in the urban workers consumption of food and manufactured products.. The priority that Stalin gave to consumption in the post war period..was also high.”
Durgin, Ibid. p.121-2.
But Stalin’s priority was to increase consumption as the heavy industrial base could be expanded.
ii) DIVISIONS INSIDE THE USSR CAPITALIST CLASS SINCE STALIN; TO BREZHNEV
After the death of Stalin, the revisionists, succeeded in the resurrection of capitalism. But, the new Russian capitalist class, was divided between a section of capitalist linked to Heavy Industry and that section linked to Light Industry. This was first reported to Marxist-Leninists, by “The Communist League” UK; in Compass. This section is drawn from that. The basic division, between heavy based industrial capitalists and light based industrial capitalists has persisted, down to the current time.
The conflict between the then embryonic, state capitalists involved in heavy industry and those involved in the consumer goods industries came into the open within a few months of Stalin’s death. On August 8th, 1953 the new Prime Minister Georgi Malenkov cast off his socialist cloak, to show his erst-while hidden revisonism. He told the Supreme Soviet :
“On the basis of the success achieved in the development of heavy industry, all the conditions exist for a sharp rise in the production of consumer goods. However, while the output of means of production as a whole has risen in the last 28 years by almost 55 times, the production of consumer goods during the same period had only increased 212 times, which cannot be considered satisfactory. Hitherto we have had no possibility of developing light industry and the food industry at the same rate as heavy industry. We must, therefore , in the interests of ensuring a more rapid increase in the standard of life of the people, promote the development of the light industry by every means.”
G. Malenkov :Speech to the Supreme Soviet, August 8th, 1953, Cited in :Kessings Contemporary Archives”, Volume 9; p.13,096.
It took the state capitalists involved in heavy industry eighteen months to secure the official reversal of this policy and the removal of its leading proponent, Malenkov. In his letter of resignation of February 8th; 1955, Malenkov humbly recanted:
“On the initiative and under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, a general programme has been worked out.. The programme is based on the only correct principle– the further development of heavy industry to the maximum. The further fulfilment of this programme alone can create the necessary conditions for a real advance in the output of all the consumer goods needed.”
G. Malenkov: Letter of Resignation to Supreme Soviet, February 8th., 1955; Cited in “Keesings Contemporary Archives”, Volume 10; p.14,033.
Malenkov’s successor as Prime Minister was Marshall Nikolai Bulganin, who as a representative of the armed forces, might be expected to give full support to the principle of higher priority for heavy industry in the name of “defence.” In his first speech as Prime Minister, in fact, Bulganin emphasised:
“Heavy industry is the basis of the defensive capacity of our country and of our military forces.. Heavy industry provides for the development of all branches of our national economy, and is the source of the constant growth of the well being of the people.”
N. Bulganin: Speech February 9th., 1955, Cited Keesings Ibid, p.14,033.
In May 1957 First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev presented to the Supreme Soviet his scheme to “decentralise” the state’s control of the economy. 25 industrial Ministries were to be abolished and replaced by 92 Regional Economic Councils.
In June 1957 the representatives of Russian heavy industry on the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU allied themselves with the surviving Marxist-Leninists, headed by Vyacheslav Molotov, to reject this scheme. Khrushchev appealed to the Central Committee itself and succeeded in winning a majority of this body to condemn his opponents as an “anti-Party group” and to secure their removal. In November 1957, Khrushchev felt his position strong enough to be able to say that industrial development:
“Had reached a such a level that without detriment to the interests of consolidating the defence of the country, without detriment to the development of heavy industry ad machine building, we can develop light industry at a considerably higher speed.”
N.S.Khrushchev :Speech at 40th Anniversary of October Revolution, in : “Pravda”, November 7th, 1957.
In March 1958, Bulganin was removed as Prime Minister, and in November denounced for having been a member of the “anti-Party group.” His successor was Nikita Khrushchev himself, who retained the post of First Secretary of the Party.
At the May meeting of the Central Committee, Khrushchev put forward the view that the “decisive” branch of “heavy industry” was the chemical industry, and proposed that the expansion of the chemical industry, with “aid” from the older capitalistic countries, should be a prime element in the Seven Year Plan– painting a glowing picture of the consumer goods applications of this expansion.
At the 21st Congress of the CPSU in January/February 1959, Khrushchev’s basic theme was that eh Soviet Union was now in process of passing from “socialism” to “communism,” a process which could be complete when:
“We shall have a provided a complete abundance of everything to satisfy the requirements of all the people.”
And he elaborated further the doctrine put forward at the 20th Congress, that war was “no longer inevitable,” and that the danger of war was “receding.” His report thus laid a theoretical basis for according greater scope to the development of the consumer goods industries.
On January 17th, 1961 Khrushchev declared :
“Today our country has such a powerful industry, such a powerful defence force that it can, without jeopardising the development of industry and the strengthening of its defence, devote more funds to the development of agriculture and increase the production of consumer goods,”
and he deplored the fact that :
“An appetite had developed in some of our comrades for giving more metal to the country.”
(N.S. Khrushchev: Speech Jan.17th., 1916, In Soviet Embassy (London) Press Dept Release).
At the 22nd Congress of the CPSU in October 1961 Khrushchev referred to the Seven Year Plan target of 68-91 million tons of steel a year to say:
“Some people proposed increasing steel output to 100 million tons a year. But we restrained them, saying that all branches of economy had to be developed evenly.”
(N.S.Khrushchev:Report to the CC to the 22nd Congress of the CPSU; London; 1961; p.40.)
And in his report to the congress on the following day on the new party programme, Khrushchev said:
“The 20 year national economic development plan- the general perspective- provides for the rates of growth in the output of means of production and of consumer goods to come considerably closer together.”
N.S.Khrushchev : Report on the Programme of the CPSU; London; 1961; p.24.
As a result of this lead, the congress adopted a resolution which said :
“The revenues accumulated as a result of the over-fulfilment of industrial production plans should be channelled mainly towards agriculture, light industry and the food industry.”
Khrushchev Report on the Programme of the CPSU; London; 1961; p.24.
On September 9th., 1962 “Pravda,” the organ of the CC of the CPSU, published an article by the Kharkov economist, Professor Yevsey Liberman, advocating a discussion on the question of reorientering the Soviet economy on the basis of the profit motive. On Khrushchev’s initiative, a Plenum of he Central Committee on November 19th-23rd 1962 took an important step to weaken the Party’s control over the economy.
The party organs up to, but not including, the level of Republic Central Committees were divided into two separate branches: one concerned with industry, the other with agriculture. At a press conference in October 1963 (reported in “Pravda” on October 27th) Khrushchev declared that the time was now ripe for diverting immense funds from heavy industry to chemicals, agriculture and the consumer goods industries. At the end of February 1964 “Pravda” published an article by A.Arzumanyan, Director of the Institute Of World Economics and International Relations, attacking the “dogmatists” who defended priority for heavy industry and recommending equal growth rates for heavy and consumer goods industries, with future priority to the latter.
In July 1964 an official press campaign began to popularise Liberman’s theories. The Bulletin of the Soviet Embassy in London summed this up as follows:
“In recent years.. the consumer goods industries have been greatly enlarged, It has become clear that the planning of the production of consumer goods must be brought closer to market demands. It has also become clear that economic incentives must be provided in order to induce industry to produce what the consumers want and adapt themselves quickly to changes in fashion, and also so as to ensure that the whole factory from the director to the worker is interested in meeting the demands of the consumer.”
Soviet Embassy, London Bulletin, Cited in “Keesings’ Contemporary Archives”, Volume 15; p. 21,036.
The base of support which Khrushchev had built up among the intelligentsia and petty bourgeois enabled him to survive against growing opposition for more than 10 years. But on October 15th, 1964, Khrushchev was forced to resign both as First Secretary of the CC of the Party and as Prime Minster. One of the changes levelled against him later was that of:
“Neglecting the priorities of heavy industry by over-emphasising light and consumer goods industries.”
“Keesings Contemporary Archives,” Volume 14; p. 20,390.
Khrushchev was succeeded as First Secretary by Leonid Brezhnev, and as Prime Minister by Aleksei Kosygin. This was to some extent a balanced coalition, as Kosygin was inclined towards consumer industires. This is shown by his sponsorship of economic measures advocated by Professor Abel Aganbegyan. (Later these measures would be more energetically enacted by Gorbachev. See below). Therefore the new leadership of the party and the state went some way to placating the demands of the state capitalists involved in the consumer good industries (e.g. By the adoption of Liberman’s theories, providing for increased independence of enterprises and the gearing of production to the market through the profit motive). However Brezhnev’s influence prevailed, and the regime demonstrated its’ basic interest in serving the state capitalists involved in heavy industry by greatly strengthening party and state control of the allocation of material resources, investment funds, etc.
The new line was summarised by General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev in his report to the 23rd Congress of the CPSU in March/April 1966 :
“Strengthening the centralised planned direction of the national economy is now combined with the further development of the initiative and independence of the enterprises.”
L.Brezhnev: Report to the 23 rd Congress of the CPSU, cited in “Keesings Contemporary Archives”, Volume 15, p. 21, 466.
On November 16th, 1964 the Central Committee of the CPSU abolished the division of the party introduced in 1962, with the aim of strengthening the party’s control over the economy. On the other hand, in January 13th 1965, it was announced that 400 consumer goods factories would go over to the system of production abased on market demand.
On April 1st, 1965 textile, lather and some other factories were transferred to the new system, under which they would gear their production to the basis of orders from retailers. These factories were permitted to retain a considerably larger amount of their gross profit than previously, this to be used partly for self-investment and partly for renumeration of management and workers over ad above basic salaries and wages.
In August-September 1965, the new leadership began punitive action against intellectuals representing objectively the interests of the state-capitalists involved in the consumer goods industries. In these months 30 Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested, Andrie Sinyavsky and Yuli Danile were arrested, as was Aleksandr Yessenin-Volpin and Vladmir Bukovsky.
Meanwhile on September 28th, 1965, the CC of the CPSU resolved to abolish the Regional Economic Councils of Khrushchev, established in May 1957; and to re-establish the industrial Ministries which had been abolished. The same resolution resolved to extend the “economic reform” introduced experimentally earlier in the year to the economy as a whole.
The Supreme Soviet gave legislative effect to this resolution on October 1st-2nd 1965. On December 10th, 1968, Nikolai Baibokov (Chairman of the State Planning Committee) told the Supreme Soviet that enterprises working under the new “profit motive” system now produced 75% of total industrial production and 80% of profit.
At the 23rd Congress of the CPSU (March 26th-April 8th 1966) Ivan Kazanets (Minister of the Iron and Steel Industry) complained that the Khrushchev regime had lowered the planned rate of increase in iron and steel output as a result of “the wrong and subjectivist counterposing of the chemical industry against the iron and steel industry.”
However the main reports presented at the congress revealed that the state capitalists involved in the consumer goods industries had fought successfully for an increased allocation of material resources, investment funds, etc, to their field.
In his report on the new 5 Year Plan from 1966-70, Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin said:
“Funds will be re-distributed in favour of the production of consumer goods, while continuing to give priority to the development of the output of means of production. Their output will rise by 49-52% and that of consumer goods by 43-46%, compared with 58% and 36% respectively during 1961-65.”
A. Kosygin: Report on the 5 Year Plan, 23rd Congress CPSU, Cited in “Keesings Contemporary Archives”, Vol 15; p.21,468.
Backed by propaganda from the dissident intellectuals, the political representatives of the state capitalists involved in the consumer goods industries continued to press their case. In the economic plan for 1968 it was still maintained that:
“The emphasis will continue to be on the development of heavy industry”,
“Keesings Contemporary archives”, Vol 16; p. 22,508.
But in that year, 1968, the planned growth on the output of consumer goods for the first time exceeded (at 8.6%) that of the panned growth of the output of heavy industry (at 7.9%).
This picture was repeated in the economic plan for 1969, which provided for a planned growth rate of consumer goods of 7.5% against 7.2% for heavy industry, and in the economic plan for 1969 where the figures were 6.8% and 6.1% respectively.
At the 24th Congress of the CPSU (March 30th – April 9th 1971), General Secretary L. Brezhnev said:
“The CC considers that the accumulated productive potential permits of a somewhat higher rate of growth for Department 2 (ie the consumer goods industries).. This does not invalidate our general policy based on the accelerated development of the output o the means of production.”
Brezhnev L: Report to the 24th Congress of the CPSU, in: “Keesings Contemporary Archives”, Vol 18; p. 24,656.
And the Five Year Plan for 1971-75 adopted by the congress provided for the first time in any Five Year Plan for a higher rate of the output of consumer goods industries (at 44-48%) than that of heavy industry (at 41-45%). But as the intellectuals were repressed, and as the movements for “freedom ” in the Baltic states were repressed, the leadership of the party and state felt able to reverse this dominance of consumer industry. By 1975, the representatives of the state capitalists involved in heavy industry had again won temporarily. On December 2nd, 1975 Nikolai Baibakov reported to the Supreme Soviet that it was planned to increase the output of heavy industry in 1976 by 4.9% (against 8.3% achieved in 1975) and that of the consumer goods industries by 2.7% (against 7.2% achieved in 1975).
iii) INDUSTRY IN THE ERA OF GORBACHEV AND YELTSIN
Following the death of Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov came to power in 1982. Andropov had been the director of the state security forces the KGB, since 1967. Using this base, Andropov launched a so called “anti-corruption” drive, especially targeted at the Brezhnev faction. This allowed the pro-Consumer goods industries faction to regain control of the state. Andropov had built up the careers of younger pro-Consumer advocates, such as Mikhail Gorbachev; Eduard Shevardnadze; Nikolai Ryzhkov; and Yegor Ligachev. All these individuals would follow the same “liberal” programme aimed at aiding the consumer based industries. In a short space of time, Andropov made changes aimed at:
“The independence of assciation and enterprises of collecvtive farms and state farms to be increased.”
Cited: “Gorbachev: Chistian Schmidt-Hauer: “The Path to Power”; Topsfield, MA; 1986; p.84.
But Andropov was ill, and died after 8 months, on February 9th, 1984. His successor Konstantin Chernenko, was himself severely ill. His accession was a temporary reprieve for the heavy based faction, in whose favour Chernenkov’s report of November 15th 1984, “Accelerate The Intensification of the Economy,” was given (Schmidt-Hauer; Ibid; p.109). However his death on March 10 1985, left the path open for the vigorous proponents of light consumer industry. By 11 March 1985, Gorbachev had taken the post of General Secretary of the CPSU.
Gorbachev now took up the programme outlined by Professor Abel Aganbegyan, whose Institute of Economics was in Novosibirsk. His programme, first outlined in 1965, and promoted by Kosygin, identified as the major problem in the USSR economy:
“The staggering share of resource that the economy committed to defence, with something like a third of the entire workforce involved in the defence sector, and ‘the extreme centralism and lack of democracy in economic matters.”
Cited in “The Waking Giant: The Soviet Union Under Gorbachev,” Martin Walker, London, 1986; p.38.
This then was a programme targeted against the heavy industrial base, and was pro-light industry. However the programme also aimed to openly acknowledge and allow “profit.” These changes were similar to those proposed by Liberman i.e. further decentralisation and self contained “planning,” and local profit sharing under the guise of “incentives.” This was embided under the principle of “autonomous financial accounting” or Khozraschet.
Kosygin’s attempts to fully implement Aganbegyan’s changes met with resistance, because they entailed an increased unemployment. But since both wings of the capitalist class (heavy and light based industrialists) stood to gain, they collaborated to push some of Aganbegyan’s programme through :
“In 1970…the Khozraschet experiment…decreed that not only each factory, but the industry itself had to become self-financing…By 1980, four of the biggest industrial ministries had been transferred to the self-financing system: tractors and farm machinery, heavy and transport engineering, energy engineering, and electrotechnical. The principles of self-financing and management autonomy had also been adopted for…the creation of territorial-production complexes (TPCs), the new industrial complexes… in Siberia.”
Walker Ibid, p.43.
But enforcing the Russian workers towards capitalist norms was not easy, and the capitalist class wished for a speedier transformation. Professor Popov of Moscow now advocated in Pravda on 27 December 1980:
“Wage cuts to increase incentives and a system of planned unemployment with a minimum wage of 80 rubles a month for the redundant.”
Walker Ibid, p.45.
To facilitate this, one of Aganbegyan’s pupils, Dr. Tatiana Zaslavsaya offered an updated programme in 1983 targeting “bureaucracy” who were “preventing further dissolution of central planning.” This programme was accepted by Gorbachev. In February 1986, he reported to the 27th Congress of the CPSU:
“Prices must be made flexible. Price levels must be linked not only to the costs of production, but also with the degree to which they meet the needs of society and consumer demand..it is high time to put an end to the practice of ministries and departments exercising petty tutelage over industrial enterprises.. enterprises should be given the right to sell to one another, independently what they produce over and above the plan.. enterprises and associations are wholly responsible for operating without a loss, while the state does not bear any responsibility for their debts.. Increase of the social wealth as well as losses should affect the income level of each member of the collective.”
Walker Ibid, p.51-52.
But as well as these general steps to increae market forces, a narrower sectional interest became also clear. An underlying aim apart from completely raising the lid on private market forces and profit was to enhance consumer industry:
“Gorbachev’s requirements (are).. set out in the “Prinicpal Directiosn fo the Economic nad Soical Development of the USSR Fro the Year 1986 to 1990 and For the Period up to 2000”.. “More consumer goods and better serives are vital.. says the new Chairman of the State Planning Commision (Gosplan) Nikolai Talyzin.. over the past 5 years the supply of consumer goods had grown at an averae of below 4%.. the “Complex Programme For the Development of the Production of Consumer Goods and the Service Sectors for the Year 1986-2000”, .. meant.. production of Consumer goods is to increase by as much as 30 % during the first 5 Year Plan period (1986-90) “mainly tough intensification of production on the basis of improved organisation and full use of existing capacity..the programme aims at “perfecting the production and consumption of light industry goods, cultural and domestic articles, reacting in good time to changes in public demand”… The long term plan .. prescribes that the contribution made by heavy and defence industries to supplying the public with high-quality industrial goods as well as modern electrical household goods must be “substantially increased.”
Maria Huber : The Prospects for Economic Reform”, in C.Schmidt-Hauer, Ibid; p.171-179.
Furthermore, as part of Gorbachev’s strategy, links with foreign capital were actively encouraged:
“At the beginning of 1985, Oleg T.Bogomolov, Director of the Institute For the Economics of the Socialist World System, in lecture in Vienna announced that eh Soviet Union would make it possible for joint-venture companies to be set up with capitalist enterprises.. an important step for decentralisation.. trade relations with the industrialised capitalist countries are to be likewise intensified.. the joint resolution of the Central Committee and of the Council of Ministers of July 1985.. foresaw the promotion of exports at enterprise level.”
Maria Huber; Ibid; p.174.
But the division of interests and between the two basic groups of capitalists, is now much more acute. It has also taken a new form. The most current form it has taken, is that of a division between those who wish to be an appendage to the foreign imperialists, and those who wish to be totally independent of the foreign imperialists. As Mikhail Leontiev:
“One of Russia’s most respected liberal commentators…and the Segodnya newspaper owned by one of Russia largest private businesses notes…in an editorial on November 24th, 1994 said : “‘The first stage of Russia’s transformation – Westernization – is over. It has ended in defeat and disappointment.'”
Cited “The Economist” London UK, Week of Dec 5th, 1994. Reprinted Globe and Mail, Toronto, 5.12.94.
Clearly, the anti-Western capitalists are not dead inside Russia. Although more than $500 million US of foreign capital are flowing into Russia every month, there has been some opposition to this virtually unrestricted entry :
“Anatoly Chubais…as the first deputy prime minister responsible for coordinating economic policy…has been leading the effort to attract foreign investment…Moscovsky Komsomolets has published a stinging series of attacks on Mr. Chubais, who used to be responsible for Russia’s program of mass privatization, Komsomolets argues that this sell-out is just a sell out to the West. GAZ a car makers with 1000,000 workers was worth a mere $27 million when it was auctioned earlier this year. That, the newspaper points out sourly, is only $2 million more than the Vancouver Canucks agreed to pay Pavel Bure a Russian ice-hockey star, for a 6 year contract.”
“Economist,” from Globe and Mail Ibid, 5.12.94.
As the Economist notes:
“Mr. Yeltsin is nevertheless the only Russian peasant who could take a stand against a strong anti-western sentiment. He may look and act lie a Russian peasant, but so far at least, his instinct have been solidly pro-Western.”
“Economist” from Globe and Mail Ibid 5.12.94.
That Boris Yeltsin has been the “Man of the West,” inside the Kremlin is not new news. Of course recent events surrounding the “Crash” of the rouble also aroused major conflicts within the capitalist class, which also reflected the underlying differences. As the ICRSU report makes clear, the rouble was deliberately “crashed.”
“The rouble’s 3 week slide began when the Bank set out trading on 22 September with dwindling reserves.. By the bottom on the Tuesday 11.10.94, the rouble had shrunk to 60% of its value.. the bank had spent a quarter of a billion US$ in 3 days…”
Globe and Mail, Business News, Toronto, 14.10.94. p.B1-2.
Alliance reprinted the analysis of The International Committee for the Restoration of the Soviet Union, based in Moscow, (ICRSU) on the “Crash” of the rouble, on October 11th, 1994. (See full reprint in Alliance 9). The ICRSU gives as a reason for the crash an impending General Strike, and a need for the Government to obtain additional funds to cover a cash shortfall:
“The ‘crash of the rouble’…on October 11th and its subsequent recuperation on October 12-13th…did not result from a loss of control by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation over the market of hard currency. On the contrary the crash of the rate of the rouble to the dollar by almost 900 points in one day (27% of the previous rate), and its recuperation on Wednesday and Thursday so that the rate came down lower than that of Monday, was planned and provoked by the leadership of the Central Bank with the permission of Victor Chernomyrdin, the Prime Minister. This was a result of a financial operation organized jointly by both the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finances TO COVER A FINANCIAL GAP… WHAT IS THE MAIN REASON FOR THIS FINANCIAL OPERATION? WHY HAS THE BUDGET GAP TO BE COVERED NOW? (Emphasis-Editor). The answer is clear. These cash based on speculation has been transferred to the Ministry of Finances to pay wages. Why now? Because a general strike is to take place on October 27th. That is the sole reason. The government is not in a position to manage a general strike in a generalized state of wage non-payments.”
I.C.R.S.U. October 19-10-94.
But it is possible that an additional reason for the engineered crash is the conflict between the wings of the capitalist class. We suggest that the manipulation of the rouble, in part, reflects the differences between pro-Western capitalists (led by Yeltsin) and anti-Western capitalists (led by Yegor Gaidar, and Victor Chernomyrdin, the Prime Minister). As the ICRSU point out it was Chernomyrdin who set in train the rouble crash. How was the manipulation managed?
“In the two weeks prior to the crash, the Central Bank provoked constant devaluation of the rouble by suddenly changing its policy of intervention in hard currency stock exchange sessions. Normally the Central Bank policy of intervention is based on selling relatively small amounts of American dollars on a regular basis so that the dynamics of the rate of the rouble to the dollar does not correspond to its real devaluation in the market. The result of that policy is that the rate was kept over 2000 when the real rate should be (the rate that would be reached if the Central Bank would not make dollar interventions in the market) according to reliable estimations around 5000-6000.”
I.C.R.S.U. October 19-10-94.
Who gains the most benefit from this policy?
“A ‘cheap’ dollar has led to a drastic reduction of Russian goods exports for the past two years. Import of western goods has far overtaken export. Russian goods can not compete even in the internal market (shops do not sell Russian goods). A low rate guarantees foreign trade companies a high rate of profit in commercial operations. The Central Bank policy is dictated by foreign interests. A low rate is one of the factors for the state of collapse in industry and agriculture, a huge budget deficit (that reached already in June-August 15% of the GNP!!), complete lack of state investment, non-payment of wages in the state sector (non-payment of wages has been very extensive from August).”
I.C.R.S.U. October 19-10-94.
“The Central Bank changed its policy of selling dollars to hold the rate by a massive sell of roubles. That provoked a raise of the rate from 2200-2300 to 3100 (for a period of 10-15 days). The Government argued that the raise of the rate is good for the economy and recognized that the Central Bank’s policy towards the rouble for the past two years has been highly harmful for the Russian economy.”
I.C.R.S.U. October 19-10-94.
But then a reversal occurred. We suggest that this policy, that favoured a foreign imperialist penetration of the Russian market, led to resentment and a reversal under pressure, of the policy:
“In a surprising move on Tuesday 11th, the Central Bank under the supervision of its President, Guerashenko, accomplished a massive rouble intervention that brought up the rate to almost 4000 roubles to a dollar. Those banks that were purchasing dollars were obliged to buy them from the same Central Bank and four major private commercial banks that were aware of the operation, at a rate that was 1000 roubles more expensive in the hope that the rate would rise even further. In one day the Central Bank “earned” 3 trillion roubles. 2 trillions were used to buy dollars at a high rate of 4000 from the Ministry of Finances (previously bought at a substantially lower rate) to cover a budget gap. The Central Bank got back the dollars which had been sold to the Commercial banks. The Ministry of Finances got in one day a huge amount of roubles to cover (almost 1000 roubles for every dollar sold) a budget gap. The Hard currency market was in shock so that in the next two days the Central Bank managed to bring down the rate with a relatively small intervention of dollars. A number of Commercial Banks that were not aware of the operation lost several trillions of roubles that are now transferred to the Ministry of Finances.”
I.C.R.S.U. October 19-10-94.
It is for the reasons outlined that Yeltsin said:
“the collapse of the roble was a ‘threat to national security’, setting up a committee of Inquiry the next day, with Sergei Stepashin Director of Federal Counter-Intelligence as a co-chair.”
Keesings Contemporary Archives, October, 1994, p. 40,250.
The Economy Minister Alexander Shokin was more explicit and said that the rouble’s collapse was a plot:
“To destabilise the government of Prime Minister Viktor Chenrnomyridin. “There are forces out there who do not want to see the government in full control,” Reuter’s quoted him as saying..”
Globe and Mail, Toronto, p.A1, A12. 13.10.94.
Vyascheslev Kostikov, President Yeltsin’s top spokesperson, suggested:
“The crisis was concocted by commercial banks that support political opponents of the regime. the strategy was to remove the President and curb market reforms.”
Globe and Mail, Business News, Toronto, p.B1-2, 14.10.94.
The congress of the revisionist “Communist” Party of India and the “Communist” Party of India (Marxist) were held in Hyderabad, Central India, from the 23rd of March to 2nd of April. The delegate of “K”KE was Nikos Seretakis, member of the department of International Relations of the CC. Of course, we are not surprised by the participation of “K”KE in congresses of other parties which, while – like “K”KE itself – shamelessly present themselves “communist” they bear no relation whatever to Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism and they are guided by Khrushchevian revisionism or other versions of bourgeois ideology and they have defected to the reaction camp. This is true for both “C”PI and “C”PI (M). However, what is indicative of the complete ideological degeneration and bankruptcy of “K”KE, is the fact that it participates in congresses of parties such as C”PI and “C”PI (M) which are not only on the right of the, already anti-communist ideology of Khrushchevian revisionism, but they are on the fore front of promoting and propagandizing neo-liberal policies.
The “C”PI (M) is the leading party in the so-called “Left Front”, the government coalition which includes other smaller opportunist and pseudo-left parties besides “C”PI (M) and which is in power in the state of Western Bengal since 1977. The policies of the “Left Front” not only have nothing to do with socialism whatever but they are identical with the reactionary, neo-liberal policies of any bourgeois government. The land redistribution promised by the “C”PI (M) simply never took place. At the turn of the 21st century, only 15% of the total arable land has been distributed. Even so, 13% of all those farmers who received once a plot, by 2001, ended up landless again while at the same time the feudal production relations remain virtually untouched. Following the instructions from the WMF, the government of the “Left Front” has proceeded to the establishment of the infamous Special Economic Zones (SOZ) by expropriating, in favor of local or foreign monopolies, the land upon which the survival of thousands of poor peasants depends. The local textile and engineering industry, stranded in a long-term crisis, are handed unconditionally to the foreign and multinational capital. One of the oldest leaders of “C”PI (M) didn’t mince his words: “We want the local and the foreign capital. After all we are working in the capitalist system, socialism, for the time being, is not feasible.” After 30 years of “C”PI (M) government, the working conditions in W. Bengal are characterized by miserable salaries, labor intensification and flexible forms of employment. The workers’ insurance funds are embezzled without any pretext. Every time the workers embark on a struggle, they confront state violence and terror that is always in the service of the industrialists. Nevertheless we read in “Rizospastis” that: “the Congress approved of the tactical political line of the party for the next three years and confirmed the party’s fighting position against the government’s neo-liberal policies” (“R”. 6/4/2008). In addition, the statement made by the general secretary of “C”PI (M), Prakash Karat in his concluding speech at the party’s Congress is utterly provocative: “the party is standing by the side of the working class and the oppressed strata” (“R”. 6/4/2008).
The fascist deviation of the “Left Front” government takes the form of blatant violation of the most fundamental human and political rights. The arrest and the abuse of all those who fight for political, social and national rights has become a frequent event. There have been many incidents of sexual abuse and humiliation of women by policemen “in the line of duty”. Apparently, the police have been authorized by “C”PI (M) to make uncontrolled use of violence against any “suspect” or “trouble-making” element. The murder of nine people in North Bengal and one young activist in the South – in both cases after their arrest – is indicative. In 2003, police officers killed two tea workers. However, the massacre in Nandigram on the 14th of March 2007 was the limit.
At the end of 2006, the government decided the building of a petrochemical complex in Nandigram following an investment by the Indonesian Selim group in the local SOZ. As a result many families faced the threat to lose their land and expelled out of their homes. Having seen the government’s determination to move on with the project, the people of Nadigram revolted. On the 3rd of January they blocked the access to the area erecting barricades, digging trenches and destroying bridges. This situation lasted until the 14th the day when the police forces launched their attack opening fire against the crowd and beating indiscriminately whoever was on their way. Many cadres and armed thugs of “C”PI (M), disguised in police uniforms, took also part in the operation. The final toll was 14 dead and tens of seriously injured by bullets all of them from the side of the peasants.
In the “C”PI (M) congress the “need for an all-sided strengthening of the party as essential prerequisite for the setting of a course in people’s interests” was stressed (“R”. 6/4/2008). How much more “strengthening” “C”PI (M) hopes to achieve when it is already participating in state governments in Bengal and Kerala? And when it is obvious that by “course in people’s interests”, it means the most unpopular and brutal neoliberal policy. The events in Nandigram shocked the public opinion in India and the rest of the world showing what the “Left Front” government and C”PI (M) really are: a fascist gang of murderers in the service of the Indian and foreign capital. Let anybody judge the relations between “K”KE and the criminal scum of C”PI (M).
Published in Greek in newspaper “Anasintaxi” issue 273, 1-5 May 2008
1. Several dozen glorious general strikes and constant struggles of the masses in Greece against the austerity policies of ND and PASOK that plunged Greece into poverty and unemployment expressed the anger of the people and demanded a change in Greek society. How do you see and interpret the victory of SYRIZA in the elections?
By voting for SYRIZA, the majority of the Greek people rejected and condemned the cruel economic measures that were imposed, the neoliberal economic policy, in general, and the great-bourgeois parties of ND and PASOK that implemented these measures with the utmost servility. The victory of SYRIZA is also explained by the people’s resentment towards the fascist re-modeling of social life promoted by the government of the fascist scoundrel Samaras.
2. Tsipras and some political forces characterize SYRIZA as “radical left” that is going to somehow liberate the people of Greece from the economic misery. What is the class nature of SYRIZA and what program has the government of Tsipras promised the people to implement?
The revolutionary KKE, which never adopted the Khrushchevite revisionism, was eliminated by the brutal intervention of the soviet Khrushchevite revisionists in 1955-1956 and replaced by the Greek Khrushchevite revisionist party (“K”KE), a bourgeois party of a social-democratic type.
In 1968, “K”KE was split into two parties: the euro-communist part known as “K”KE (interior) and the Khrushchevite-Brezhnevite part known as “K”KE. SYRIZA originates from the first part and, consequently, is a social-democratic and reformist party guided by a right-opportunist general line and characterized by petty bourgeois class features.
In the sphere of social questions, SYRIZA is an anti-fascist party suffering from inconsistencies and contradictions as it is evident from the fact that it formed an alliance with the great-bourgeois nationalist party of ANEL.
3. Greece is a member of European Union, a member of NATO, and has implemented the neoliberal policies of the Western imperialist powers. Has Tsipras the will and determination to eliminate political, economical, and military dependency on the Western imperialist powers and to cut the hands of EU-ECB-IMF from the lives of Greek people?
Tsipras and the leading group of SYRIZA is neither willing nor determined to eliminate Greece’s political, economical and military dependence on imperialism. The only thing that he seems determined to do is to reduce the pressure coming from European Union and the European Central Bank regarding the implantation of extreme austerity programs. SYRIZA has made the strategic choice to support Greece’s membership in the European Union and the Eurozone.
4. Certainly, the victory of the people of Greece against the austerity measures of ND-PASOK governments is good news. How is the dialectical development of the situation after the elections? Will the conditions created by the Tsipras victory strengthen the class struggles of the Greek working masses?
During the first three weeks following the elections, the SYRIZA government has taken a series of actions in order to implement its program that has won the support of wide popular strata, an attitude that is unfortunately accompanied by certain illusions. We think that, up to a certain extent, SYRIZA’s victory creates favorable conditions for the strengthening of class struggles. Whether this possibility becomes a reality depends, of course, on many factors, the most important of which is the organization of the majority of the working masses in independent and united trade unions and the influence exerted on these, and the society in general, by the consistent left-wing, anti-imperialist and revolutionary communists.
5. The so-called Communist Party of Greece (KKE) participated in the European elections. Despite all its phrase-mongering demand about Greece leaving the Eurozone, how different are the politics of this reformist party from those of SYRIZA?
It is important to clarify that, despite its verbal attacks against EU and the Eurozone, “K”KE does not put forward (not even for the sake of demagogy) the question of Greece’s exit neither from the EU nor the Eurozone. This is also evident in the party’s program that was approved by its last congress. “K”KE considers Greece an imperialist(!) country and favors the view that “the term “national dependence” is not applicable in contemporary conditions” (1/2/2005). Furthermore, in relation to Euro, the leadership of “K”KE has stated: “A solution outside the euro and return to the drachma in the present circumstances would be catastrophic” (30/5/2011). Therefore, in essence, the policy of this reformist party is not different than that of SYRIZA.
6. The crises in Greece demand a vast mobilization of the popular sectors of the society and the development of a revolutionary alternative to capitalism. Could you tell us about the tactics adopted by KKE (1918-55) in the present situation in order to strengthen the struggles of the working class and to deepen the revolutionary demands of the protesters on the streets?
In order to contribute to the growth of the working class struggles and the rise of the revolutionary movement, the Movement for Reorganization of KKE (1918-1955) is striving, under very unfavorable conditions, to achieve the following:
A) The reorganization, re-birth of KKE (1918-1955) and the ideological-political-organizational unity of the Greek communists on basis of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism.
B) The formation of united, massive and truly independent trade unions whose aim will be the resistance to the extreme neo-liberal policy of austerity and the further development of the workers’ and people’s struggles combined with the struggle against fascism-Nazism.
C) The cooperation between the consistent left-wing, anti-imperialist and anti-fascist forces that will aim at the formation of a massive popular front that will fight against the dependence on imperialism, in general, and the exit of Greece from the EU, the Eurozone and NATO.
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A paper read by Bill Bland to the Stalin Society in May 1991.
Bland was the founder of the Stalin Society (UK), but was expelled some years later for daring to challenge assumptions (“truths”) about Mao and the Comintern, and only finally re-instated as a member just before his death.
He detested all attempts at refusal to deal honestly with facts.
He put this to good example here, in this speech on the Cult of Personality surrounding Stalin.
Members of the Stalin Society objected to its novel interpretations of how and who had erected this cult.
This talk took many iterations in Bill’s life, but started as a talk to the Youth of the Communist League in 1976. It remains relevant today.
On 14 February 1956 Nikita Khrushchev, (Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet revisionist politician (1894-1971); First Secretary of Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1953-64); Premier (1958-64) then First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, publicly, but obliquely, attacked Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Party:
“It is of paramount importance to re-establish and to strengthen in every way the Leninist principle of collective leadership. . . .The Central Committee . . . vigorously condemns the cult of the individual as being alien to the spirit of Marxism-Leninism.”
(N. S. Khrushchev: Report to the Central Committee, 20th Congress of the CPSU, February 1056; London; 1956; p. 80-81).
In his “secret speech” to the same Congress on 25 February (leaked to the US State Department but not published within the Soviet Union) attacked Stalin more directly, asserting that
“… the cult of the individual acquired such monstrous size chiefly because Stalin himself, using all conceivable methods, supported the glorification of his own person.”
(Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): ‘The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism’; New York; 1956; p. 69).
Yet many witnesses testify to Stalin’s simplicity and modesty.
The French writer Henri Barbusse (1873-1935) describes the simplicity of Stalin’s life-style:
“One goes up to the first floor, where white curtains hang over three of the windows. These three windows are Stalin’s home. In the tiny hall a long military cloak hangs on a peg beneath a cap. In addition to this hall there are three bedrooms and a dining-room. The bedrooms are as simply furnished as those of a respectable, second-class hotel. . . The eldest son, Jasheka, sleeps at night in the dining room, on a divan which is converted into a bed; the younger sleeps in a tiny recess, a sort of alcove opening out of it. Each month he earns the five hundred roubles which constitute the meagre maximum salary of the officials of the Communist Party (amounting to between £20 and £25 in English money). . . . This frank and brilliant man is a simple man. He does not employ thirty-two secretaries, like Mr. Lloyd George; he has only one. . .
Stalin systematically gives credit for all progress made to Lenin, whereas the credit has been in very large measure his own.”
(H. Barbusse: ‘Stalin: A New World seen through One Man’; London; 1935; p. vii, viii, 291, 294).
True, Stalin had the use of a dacha, or country cottage, but here too his life was equally simple, as his daughter Svetlana relates:
“It was the same with the dacha at Kuntsevo. . . .
My father lived on the ground floor. He lived in one room and made it do for everything. He slept on the sofa, made up at night as a bed.”
(S. Alliluyeva: ‘Letters to a Friend’; London; 1967; p. 28).
The Albanian leader Enver Hoxha (Albanian Marxist-Leninist politician (1908-85); leader of the Communist Party of Albania (later the Party of Labour of Albania)(1941- 85); Prime Minister (1944-54); Minister of Foreign Affairs (1946-54) describes Stalin as “modest” and “considerate”:
“Stalin was no tyrant, no despot. He was a man of principle; he was just, modest and very kindly and considerate towards people, the cadres and his colleagues.”
(E. Hoxha: ‘With Stalin: Memoirs’; Tirana; 1979; p. 14-15).
The British Fabians Sidney and Beatrice Webb (Sidney Webb, British economist (1859-1947); Beatrice Webb, British economist and sociologist (1858-1943), in their monumental work “Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation,” emphatically reject the notion that Stalin exercised dictatorial power:
“Sometimes it is asserted that the whole state is governed by the will of a single person, Josef Stalin . . First let it be noted that, unlike Mussolini, Hitler and other modern dictators, Stalin is not invested by law with any authority over his fellow-citizens. He has not even the extensive power . . . . .which the American Constitution entrusts for four years to every successive president. . . . .Stalin is not, and never has been, . . . . the President of the USSR. . . . .He is not even a People’s Commissar, or member of the Cabinet.
He is . . . the General Secretary of the Party.
We do not think that the Party is governed by the will of a single person, or that Stalin is the sort of person to claim or desire such a position. He has himself very explicitly denied any such personal dictatorship in terms which certainly accord with our own impression of the facts.
The Communist Party in the USSR has adopted for its own organisation the pattern which we have described. . . . . . In this pattern individual dictatorship has no place. Personal decisions are distrusted, and elaborately guarded against. In order to avoid the mistakes due to bias, anger, jealousy, vanity and other distempers . . . . it is desirable that the individual will should always be controlled by the necessity of gaining the assent of colleagues of equal grade, who have candidly discussed the matter and who have to make themselves jointly responsible for the decision. . . . .Stalin . . . . has . . . . frequently pointed out that he does no more than carry out the decisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. . . The plain truth is that, surveying the administration of the USSR during the past decade under the alleged dictatorship of Stalin, principal decisions have manifested neither the promptitude nor the timeliness, nor yet the fearless obstinacy that have often been claimed as the merits of a dictatorship. On the contrary, the action of the Party has frequently been taken after consideration-so prolonged, and as the outcome of discussion sometimes so heated and embittered, as to bear upon their formulation the marks of hesitancy and lack of assurance. . . .These policies have borne . . . . the stigmata of committee control.”
(S. & B. Webb: ‘Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation’; London; p.. 4231, 432, 433, 435).
Perhaps Barbusse, Hoxha and the Webbs may be considered biased witnesses. Yet observers who are highly critical of Stalin agree with the testimony of the former.
The American diplomat Joseph Davies (Joseph Davies, American lawyer and diplomat (1876-1958); Chairman (1915-16) and Vice-Chairman (1916-18) of Federal Trade Commission; Ambassador to Moscow (1936-38), to Belgium (1938-39) remarks on Stalin’s simple, kindly manner:
“I was startled to see the door . . . open and Mr. Stalin come into the room alone.. . . . His demeanour is kindly, his manner almost depreciatingly simple. . . .He greeted me cordially with a smile and with great simplicity, but also with a real dignity. . . .His brown eye is exceedingly kindly and gentle. A child would like to sit in his lap and a dog would sidle up to him.”
(J. E. Davies: ‘Mission to Moscow’; London; 1940; p. 222, 230).
Isaac Don Levine (Isaac Don Levine, Russian-born American newspaper correspondent (1892-1981) writes in his hostile biography of Stalin:
“Stalin does not seek honours. He loathes pomp. He is averse to public displays. He could have all the nominal regalia in the chest of a great state. But he prefers the background”
(I. D. Levine: ‘Stalin: A Biography’; London; 1931; p. 248-49).
Another hostile critic, Louis Fischer (Louis Fischer, American writer (1896-1970), testifies to Stalin’s “capacity to listen”:
“Stalin . . . inspires the Party with his will-power and calm. Individuals in contact with him admire his capacity to listen and his skill in improving on the suggestions and drafts of highly intelligent subordinates.”
(L. Fischer: Article in: ‘The Nation’, Volume 137 (9 August 1933); p. 154).
Eugene Lyons (Eugene Lyons, Russian-born American writer (1898-1985), in his biography entitled “Stalin: Czar of All the Russias,” describes Stalin’s simple way of life:
“Stalin lives in a modest apartment of three rooms. . . . In his everyday life his tastes remained simple almost to the point of crudeness. .. Even those who hated him with a desperate hate and blamed him for sadistic cruelties never accused him of excesses in his private life.
Those who measure ‘success’ by millions of dollars, yachts and mistresses find it hard to understand power relished in austerity. . .
There was nothing remotely ogre-like in his looks or conduct, nothing theatrical in his manner. A pleasant, earnest, ageing man — evidently willing to be friendly to the first foreigner whom, he had admitted to his presence in years. ‘He’s a thoroughly likeable person’, I remember thinking as we sat there, and thinking it in astonishment.”
(E. Lyons: ‘Stalin: Czar of All the Russias’; Philadelphia; 1940; p. 196, 200).
Lyons asked Stalin. “Are you a dictator?”:
“Stalin smiled, implying that the question was on the preposterous side.
‘No’, he said slowly, ‘I am no dictator. Those who use the word do not understand the Soviet system of government and the methods of the Soviet system of government and the methods of the Communist Party. No one man or group of men can dictate. Decisions are made by the Party and acted upon by its organs, the Central Committee and the Politburo.”‘
(E. Lyons: ibid.; p. 203).
The Finnish revisionist Arvo Tuominen (Arvo Tuominen, Finnish revisionist politician (1894-1981) — strongly hostile to Stalin — comments in his book “The Bells of the Kremlin” on Stalin’s personal self -effacement:
“In his speeches and writings Stalin always withdrew into the background, speaking only of communism, the Soviet power and the Party, and stressing that he was really a representative of the idea and the organisation, nothing more.. . . . I never noticed any signs of vainglory in Stalin.”
(A. Tuominen: ‘The Bells of the Kremlin’; Hanover (New Hampshire, USA); 1983; p. 155, 163).
and expresses surprise at the contrast between the real Stalin and the propaganda picture spread of him:
“During my many years in Moscow I never stopped marvelling at the contrast between the man and the colossal likenesses that had been made of him. That medium-sized, slightly pock-marked Causasian with a moustache was as far removed as could be from that stereotype of a dictator. But at the same time the propaganda was proclaiming his superhuman abilities.”
(A. Tuominen: ibid.,; p. 155).
The Soviet marshal Georgy Zhukov (Georgy Zhukov, Soviet military officer (1896-1974); Chief of Staff (1941); Marshal (1943); Minister of Defence (1955-57) speaks of Stalin’s “lack of affectation”:
“Free of affectation and mannerisms, he (Stalin — Ed.) won the heart of everyone he talked with.”
(G. K. Zhukov: ‘The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov’; London; 1971; p. 283).
Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva (Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin’s daughter (1926- ) is gullible enough to accept almost every slander circulated about her father, but even she dismisses the charge that he himself engineered the ‘cult’ of his personality. She describes a train trip with Stalin from the Crimea to Moscow in 1948:
“As we pulled in at the various stations we’d go for a stroll along the platform. My father walked as far as the engine, giving greetings to the railway workers as he went. You couldn’t see a single passenger. It was a special train and no one was allowed on the platform. Who ever thought such a thing up? . . . . Who had contrived all these stratagems? Not he. It was the system of which he himself was a prisoner and in which he suffered from loneliness, emptiness and lack of human companionship. . . Nowadays when I read or hear somewhere that my father used to consider himself practically a god, it amazes me that people who knew him well can even say such a thing.. . . He never thought of himself as a god.”
(S. Alleluyeva: ‘Letters to a Friend’; London; 1968; p. 202-03, 213).
She describes the grief of the servants at the dacha when Stalin died:
“These men and women who were servants of my father loved him. In little things he wasn’t hard to please. On the contrary, he was courteous, unassuming and direct with those who waited on him. . .Men, women, everyone, started crying all over again. . . .
No one was making a show of loyalty or grief. All of them had known one another for years. . . . . .
No one in this room looked on him as a god or a superman, a genius or a demon. They loved and respected him for the most ordinary human qualities, those qualities of which servants are the best judges of all.”
(S. Alliluyeva: ibid,; p. 20, 22).
Furthermore, the facts show that on numerous occasions denounced and ridiculed the “cult of the individual” as contrary to Marxism-Leninism. For example,
“I must say in all conscience, comrades, that I do not deserve a good half of the flattering things that have been said here about me. I am, it appears, a hero of the October Revolution, the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet, the leader of the Communist International, a legendary warrior-knight and all the rest of it. This is absurd, comrades, and quite unnecessary exaggeration. It is the sort of thing that is usually said at the graveside of a departed revolutionary. But I have no intention of dying yet. . . . .
I really was, and still am, one of the pupils of the advanced workers of the Tiflis railway workshops.”
(J. V. Stalin: `Works’, Volume 8; Moscow; 1954; p. 182)
“And what is Stalin? Stalin is only a minor figure.”
(J. V. Stalin: `Works’. Volume 10; Moscow; Moscow; 1954; p. 177).
“Your congratulations and greetings I place to the credit of the great Party of the working class which bore me and reared me in its own image and likeness. And just because I place them to the credit of our glorious Leninist Party, I make bold to tender you my Bolshevik thanks.”
(J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 146).
“There are some who think that the article ‘Dizzy with Success’ was the result of Stalin’s personal initiative. That, of course, is nonsense. It is not in order that personal initiative is a matter like this be taken by anyone, whoever he might be, that we have a Central Committee.”
(J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, ibid.; p. 218).
“You speak of your devotion’ to me.. . . . I would advise you to discard the ‘principle’ of devotion to persons. It is not the Bolshevik way. Be devoted to the working class, its Party, its state. That is a fine and useful thing. But do not confuse it with devotion to persons, this vain and useless bauble of weak-minded intellectuals.”
(J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, Volume 13; Moscow; 1955; p. 20).
“As for myself, I am just a pupil of Lenin’s, and the aim of my life is to be a worthy pupil of his. . . .
Marxism does not deny at all the role played by outstanding individuals or that history is made by people. But great people are worth anything at all only to the extent that they are able correctly to understand these conditions, to understand how to change them. If they fail to understand these conditions and want to alter them according to the promptings of their imagination, they will find themselves in the situation of Don Quixote. . . . .
Individual persons cannot decide. Decisions of individuals are ,always, or nearly always, one-sided decisions. . . . . In every collective body, there are people whose opinion must be reckoned with. . . . . From the experience of three revolutions we know that out of every 100 decisions taken by individual persons without being tested and corrected collectively, approximately 90 are one-sided. . . . . Never under any circumstances would our workers now tolerate power in the hands of one person. With us personages of the greatest authority are reduced to nonentities, become mere ciphers, as soon as the masses of the workers lose confidence in them.”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 107-08, 109, 113).
“I have received your letter ceding me your second Order as a reward for my work. I thank you very much for your warm words and comradely present. I know what you are depriving yourself of in my favour and appreciate your sentiments.
Nevertheless, I cannot accept your second Order. I cannot and must not accept it, not only because it can only belong to you, as you alone have earned it, but also because I have been amply rewarded as it is by the attention and respect of comrades and, consequently, have no right to rob you. Orders were instituted not for those who are well known as it is, but mainly for heroic people who are little known and who need to be made known to all. Besides, I must tell you that I already have two Orders. That is more than one needs, I assure you.”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 241).
Robins: I consider it a great honour to have an opportunity of paying you a visit.
Stalin: There is nothing particular in that. You are exaggerating.
Robins: What is most interesting to me is that throughout Russia I have found the names Lenin-Stalin, Lenin-Stalin, Lenin-Stalin, linked together.
Stalin: That, too, is an exaggeration. How can I be compared to Lenin?”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 267)
“I am absolutely against the publication of ‘Stories of the Childhood of Stalin’.
The book abounds with a mass of inexactitudes of fact, of alterations, of exaggerations and off unmerited praise. . But . . . . the important thing resides it the fact that the book has a tendency to engrave on the minds of Soviet children (and people in general) the personality cult of leaders, of infallible heroes. This is dangerous and detrimental. The theory of ‘heroes’ and the ‘crowd’ is not a Bolshevik, but a Social-Revolutionary (Anarchist) theory. I suggest we burn this book.”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 327).
Thus, the “cult of the individual” as built up around Stalin was contrary to Marxism-Leninism and its practice was contrary to the expressed wishes of Stalin”.
This raises an important question.
When I expressed at a previous meeting of the Stalin Society the view that the Marxist-Leninists were in a minority in the Soviet leadership from the late 1920s, there were loud murmurs of dissent from some members.
But we have seen that, although Stalin expressed strong opposition to the “cult of personality,” the “cult of personality” continued.
It therefore follows irrefutably that
1) either Stalin was unable to stop it,
2) or he did not want to stop it and so was a petty-minded, lying, non-Marxist-Leninist, hypocrite.
The Initiators of the “Cult”
But if the “cult of personality” around Stalin was not built up by Stalin, but against his wishes, by whom was it built up?
The facts show that the most fervent exponents of the ‘cult of personality’ around Stalin were revisionists and concealed revisionists like Karl Radek (Soviet revisionist politician (1885-1939); pleaded guilty at his public trial to terrorism and treason (1937); murdered in prison by fellow-prisoner (1939), Nikita Khrushchev and Anastas Mikoyan (Soviet revisionist politician (1895-1978); Politburo member (1935-78); People’s Commissar for Trade (1926-31), for Supply (1931-34), for Food Industry (1934-38), for Foreign Trade (1938-49) Deputy Premier (1946-64); President (1964-65).
Roy Medvedev (Soviet revisionist historian (1925- ) points out that:
“The first issue of ‘Pravda;’ for 1934 carried a huge two-page article by Radek, heaping orgiastic praise on Stalin. The former Trotskyite, who had led the opposition to Stalin for many years, now called him ‘Lenin’s best pupil, the model of the Leninist Party, bone of its bone, blood of its blood’. . . . He ‘is as far-sighted as Lenin’, and so on and on. This seems to have been the first large article in the press specifically devoted to the adulation of Stalin, and it was quickly reissued as a pamphlet in 225,000 copies, an enormous figure for the time.”
(R. A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1972; p. 148).
At his public trial in January 1937 Radek admitted to terrorism and treason:
“Vyshinsky: What did Mrachovsky (Soviet Trotskyist politician (1883-1936); pleaded guilty to terrorism and treason at his public trial in August 1936 and was sentenced to death) reply?
Radek: He replied quite definitely that the struggle had entered the terrorist phase. . . In April 1933 Mrachovsky asked me whether I would mention any Trotskyite in Leningrad who would undertake the organisation of a terrorist group there.
Vyshinsky: Against whom?
Radek: Against Kirov (Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1886-1934); Secretary of CPSU in Azerbaijan (1921-36), in Leningrad (1926-34); Member of Politburo (1930-34); assassinated by terrorist (1934) of course.
Vyshinsky: In 1934-35 your position was that of organised, systematic perpetration of terrorist acts?
Radek: Yes. We would inevitably have to bring the social structure of the USSR into line with the victorious fascist countries . . . a pseudonym for the restoration of capitalism. It was clear to us that this meant fascism. . . serving foreign finance capital. It was planned to surrender the Ukraine to Germany and . . the Maritime province and the Amur region to Japan.”
(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre; Moscow; 1937; p. 88, 90, 103, 115).
It was Khrushchev who introduced the term “vozhd” (“leader,” corresponding to the German word “Fuhrer”). At the Moscow Party Conference in January 1932, Khrushchev finished his speech by saying:
“The Moscow Bolsheviks, rallied around the Leninist Central Committee as never before, and around the ‘vozhd’ of our Party, Comrade Stalin, are cheerfully and confidently marching toward new victories in the battles for socialism, for world proletarian revolution.”
(‘Rabochaya Moskva’, 26 January 1932, cited in: L. Pistrak: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961; p. 159).
At the 17th Party Conference in January 1934 it was Khrushchev, and Khrushchev alone, who called Stalin “vozhd of genius.” (XVII s’ezd Vsesoiuznoi Kommunisticheskoi Partii (B.); p, 145, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid.; p. 160).
In August 1936, during the treason trial of Lev Kamenev (Soviet ; sentenced to death and executed (1936) and Grigory Zinoviev (Soviet Trotskyist politician (1883-1936); President of Communist International (1919-26); admitted to treason at his public trial (1936); sentenced to death and executed (1936), Khrushchev, in his capacity as Moscow Party Secretary, said:
“Miserable pygmies! They lifted their hands against the greatest of all men. . . . our wise ‘vozhd’, Comrade Stalin! Thou, Comrade Stalin, hast raised the great banner of Marxism-Leninism high over the entire world and carried it forward. We assure thee, Comrade Stalin, that the Moscow Bolshevik organisation — the faithful supporter of the Stalinist Central Committee — will increase Stalinist vigilance still more, will extirpate the Trotskyite-Zinovievite remnants, and close the ranks of the Party and non-Party Bolsheviks even more around the Stalinist Central Committee and the great Stalin.”
(‘Pravda’, 23 August 1936, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,; p. 162).
At the Eighth All-Union Congress of Soviets in November 1936 it was again Khrushchev who proposed that the new Soviet Constitution, which was before the Congress for approval, should be called the “Stalinist Constitution” because “it was written from beginning to end by Comrade Stalin himself.” (‘Pravda’, 30 November 1936, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid.; p. 161).
It has to be noted that Vyacheslav Molotov (Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1890-1986); Member of Politburo (1926-53); Prime Minister (1930-41); Deputy Prime Minister (1941-57); Minister of Foreign Affairs (1939-49, 1953-56); Ambassador to Mongolia (1957-60), then Prime Minister, and Andrey Zhdanov (Andrey Zhdanov. Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1948); Member of Politburo (1935-48), then Party Secretary in Leningrad) did not mention any special role by Stalin in the drafting of the Constitution.
In the same speech Khrushchev coined the term “Stalinism”:
“Our Constitution is the Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism that has conquered one sixth of the globe.” (Ibid.).
Khrushchev’s speech in Moscow to an audience of 200,000 at the time of the treason trial of Grigori Pyatakov (Grigory Pyatakov, Soviet Trotskyist politician (1890-1937); Assistant People’s Commissar for Heavy Industry (1931-37); admitted to treason at his public trial (1937); sentenced to death and executed (1937) and Karl Radek in January 1937 was in a similar vein:
“By lifting their hands against Comrade Stalin they lifted them against all the best that humanity possesses. For Stalin is hope; he is expectation; he is the beacon that guides all progressive mankind. Stalin is our banner! Stalin is our will! Stalin is our victory!”
(‘Pravda’, 31 January 1937), cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,; p., 162).
Stalin was described by Khrushchev in March 1939 as:
“. . . . our great genius, our beloved Stalin”,
(‘Visti VTsVK’, 3 March 1939, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,; p. 164)
at the 18th Congress of the Party in March 1939 as:
“…the greatest genius of humanity, teacher and ‘vozhd’, who leads us towards Communism, our very own Stalin.”
(XVIII s’ezd Vsesoiueznoi Kommunisticheskoi Partii (B). in: p. 174; cited in L. Pistrak: ibid,; p. 164).
and in May 1945 as
“. . . . great Marshal of the Victory.”
(‘Pravda Ukrainy’, 13 May 1945, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid.; p. 164).
On the occasion of the celebration of Stalin’s fiftieth birthday in December 1929, Anastas Mikoyan accompanied his congratulations with the demand
“that we, meeting the rightful demand of the masses, begin finally to work on his biography and make it available to the Party and to all working people in our country.”
(‘Izvestia’, 21 December 1929, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,;164).
Ten years later, on the occasion of Stalin’s sixtieth birthday in December 1939, Mikoyan was still urging the creation of a “. . . scientific biography” (‘Pravda’, 21 December 1939, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,.; p. 158) of Stalin.
The biography was eventually published in 1947, compiled by “G. F. Alexandrov, M. R. Galaktionov, V. S. Kruzhkov, M. B. Mitin, V. D. Mochalov and P. N. Pospelov” (‘Joseph Stalin: A Short Biography’; Moscow; 1947).
However, in his “secret speech” to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, basing himself on the “cult of the individual” which he and his colleagues had built up around Stalin, Khrushchev attributed the authorship of the book to Stalin himself:
“One of the most characteristic examples of Stalin’s self -glorification and of his lack of even elementary modesty is the edition of his ‘Short Biography’. This book is an example of the most dissolute flattery.”
(Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 69).
Motives for Building up the “Cult of the Individual”
Of course, many Soviet citizens admired Stalin and expressed this admiration. But clearly, the “cult of the individual” around Stalin was built up mainly by the concealed revisionists, against Stalin’s wishes, in order:
Firstly, to disguise the fact that the Party and the Communist International were dominated by concealed revisionists and to present the fiction that these were dominated personally by Stalin; thus blame for breaches of socialist legality and for deviations from Marxist-Leninist principles on their part could later be laid on Stalin;
Secondly, to provide a pretext for attacking Stalin at a later date (under the guise of carrying out a programme of “democratisation,” which was in fact a programme of dismantling socialism.
That Stalin himself was not unaware of the fact that concealed revisionists were the main force behind the “cult of persona lily” was reported by the Finnish revisionist Tuominen in 1935, who describes how, when he was informed that busts of him had been given prominent places in the Moscow’s leading art gallery, the Tretyakov, Stalin exclaimed:
“That’s downright sabotage!” (A. Touminen: op. cit.; p. 164).
The German writer Lion Feuchtwanger (Lion Feuchtwanger, German writer (1884-1958) in 1936 confirms that Stalin suspected that the “cult of personality” was being fostered by “wreckers” with the aim of discrediting him:
“It is manifestly irksome to Stalin to be worshipped as he is, and from time to time he makes fun of it. … Of all the men I know who have power, Stalin is the most unpretentious. I spoke frankly to him about the vulgar and excessive cult made of him, and he replied with equal candour. . . He thinks it is possible even that ‘wreckers’ may be behind it in an attempt to discredit him.”
(L. Feuchtwanger: ‘Moscow 1937’; London; 1937; p., 93, 94-95).
To conclude, the attack made by the revisionists on the ‘cult of personality’ in the Soviet Union was an attack not only upon Stalin personally as a leading Marxist-Leninist, a leading, defender of socialism, but as the first stage in an attack upon Marxism-Leninism and the socialist system in the Soviet Union.
Perhaps the best comment on it is the sarcastic toast which the Finnish revisionist Tuominen records as having been proposed by Stalin at a New Year Party in 1935:
“Comrades! I want to propose a toast to our patriarch, life and sun, liberator of nations, architect of socialism (he rattled off all the appelations applied to him in those days), Josef Vissarionovich Stalin, and I hope this is the first and last speech made to that genius this evening.”
(A. Tuominen: op. cit.; p. 162).
An extended annotated version of a report presented to the Stalin Society in London in October 1991, by Bill Bland, for the Communist League (UK)
There have been many requests recently to Alliance for a web-edition of this document.
Comrade Bland often neglected his own writings, even forgetting that he may have researched any topic. Although this article was not printed as an official document of the Communist League (CL), it was a critical part of the corpus of work that Bland performed as the leader of the CL. Against many others, Bland defended the role of Lavrenty Beria, as a Marxist-Leninist. This was and remains, an unpopular stand even amongst those who call themselves Marxist-Leninists.
Bland’s especial expertise was to be able to see behind copious cloaks of words, as spun by revisionists and capitalist agents. This talent of his, is shown with mastery in this analysis. Data coming out from the Archives of the USSR, appears at last to be corroborating Comrade’s Bland’s views. We propose to shortly publish materials that show this.
by Bill Bland 1991.
Part 1: The ‘Doctor’s Case’
The Initial Preparations for the Revisionist Coup (1943-46);
The First Stage of the ‘Doctors’ Case’ (1948-51)
The Dismissal and Arrest of Abakumov (1951)
The Georgian Feint (1951-52)
The Marxist-Leninists’ Counter-blow in Georgia
The Indictment in the ‘Doctors’ Case’ (1953)
The Destruction of the Defence System around Stalin
Part 2: The Death of Stalin (1953)
The Aborted Coup (1953)
The Exculpation of the Doctors (1953)
The Reversal of the Georgian Feint (1953)
The Dismissal of Leonid Melnikov (1953)
The Military Coup in Moscow (1953)
The Military Coup in Georgia (1953-54)
The ‘Mingrelian Affair’ (1953)
The ‘Trial’ of Beria (1953)
The Re-emergence of Melnikov (1953-57)
The Trial of Abakumov (1954)
The ‘Trial’ of Ryumin (1954)
The ‘Rehabilitation’ of Anna Louise Strong (1955)
The ‘Rehabilitation’ of Tito (1955)
The Rapava-Rukhadze Trial (1955)
The Trial of Bagirov (1956)
“Stalin . . . issued orders to arrest a group of eminent medical specialists. . . .
When we examined this ‘case’ after Stalin’s death, we found it to be fabricated from beginning to end.”
(N. S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech to 20th Congress, CPSU, in: Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): ‘The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A Selection of Documents’; New York; 1956; p. 64).
The Initial Preparations for the Revisionist Coup (1943-46)
The seizure of power by the Soviet revisionists required certain preliminary measures — the first of these being the weakening of the securitv organs of the socialist state and their later transfer into the hands of the revisionist conspirators.
In April 1943 the organ which had been responsible for state security, the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD), which had been headed by the Marxist-Leninist Lavrenti Beria*, was weakened by being split into three parts:
1) the People’s Commisariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD), still headed by Beria, but no longer concerned with state security:
“The NKVD, under the leadership of Beria, was thereby relieved of the heavy problems of State security and became more and more an ‘economic’ organisation.”
(B. Levytsky: ‘The Uses of Terror: The Soviet Secret Service: 1917-1970’; London; 1971; p. 160).
2) the People’s Commissariat of State Security (NKGB), headed by the Marxist-Leninist Vsevolod Merkulov*;
3) the Counter-Espionage Department of the People’s Commissariat for Defence (SMERSH), headed by the Marxist-Leninist Viktor Abakumov*.
In 1946, after the conclusion of the Second World War,
1) SMERSH was abolished;
2) the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) was renamed the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and its Marxist-Leninist head Merkulov, who:
” . . . was one of Beria’s closest and most trusted collaborators”
(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 141).
was replaced by the concealed revisionist Sergey Kruglov*; and
3) the People’s Commissariat of State Security (NKGB) was renamed the Ministry of State Security (MGB); for the next six years, however, it continued to be headed by the Marxist-Leninist Abakumov.
The First Stage of the “Doctors’ Case” (1948-51)
In 1948 the plans of the conspirators were interrupted by ‘the case of the Kremlin doctors’. In this year,
” . . . Lvdia Timashuk a rank-and-file doctor at the Kremlin Hospital . . . . discovered intentional distortions in medical conclusions made by major medical experts who served as consultants in the hospital. She exposed their criminal designs and thus opened the eyes of security bodies to the existence of the infamous conspiracy.”
(Y. Rapoport: ‘The Doctors’ Plot: Stalin’s Last Crime’: London; 1991; p. 77).
Dr. Timashuk wrote to
” . . . Stalin a letter in which she declared that doctors were applying supposedly improper methods of medical treatment.”
(N. S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech; op. cit.; p. 63).
As to the date,
“. . . Timashuk’s first report was made while Zhdanov was still alive.”
(P. Deriabin: ‘Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars’; n.p. (USA); 1984; p. 311).
and Zhdanov * died in August 1948.
Although Khrushchev later alleged, in his secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, that:
“. . . this ignominious case was set up by Stalin”,
(N. S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech; op. cit.; p. 65).
Ian Grey assures us that, at the outset,
“Stalin had strong doubts about Timashuk’s allegations.”
(I.Grey: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979; p. 461).
and Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva* confirms:
“My father’s housekeeper told me not long ago that my father was extremely distressed at the turn events took. . . . She was waiting on table, as usual, when my father remarked that he did not believe the doctors were ‘dishonest’ and that the only evidence against them, after all, were the ‘reports’ of Dr. Timashuk.”
(S. Allilyeva: Twenty Letters to a Friend”; London; 1967; p. 215).
Nevertheless, Stalin passed these allegations to the state security organs, forces, then in the charge of the Marxist-Leninist Minister of State Security Abakumov. As a result,
“. . . Abakumov started an investigation that he directed personally.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 311).
and the investigation of Timashuk’s allegations soon convinced Stalin of their correctness:
“One day Stalin called us to the Kremlin and read us a letter from a woman doctor named Timashuk. She claimed that Zhdanov died because the doctors on the case purportedly administered improper treatment to him, treatment intended to lead to his death.”
(N. S. Khrushchev: ‘Khrushchev Remembers’; London; 1971; p. 283).
The first arrests resulting from this investigation began as early as December 1950, with the arrest of the diagnostician Yakov Etinger, who had headed a clinic at the First Gradskaya Hospital in Moscow. Etinger’s name later (1953) appeared among the accused in the ‘doctors’ case’:
“Yakov Etinger had been arrested in 1950.”
(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 24).
“The terrorist group includes . . . Professor Y. G. Etinger, a therapeutist.”
(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 4, No. 51 (31 January 1953); p. 3).
The Dismissal and Arrest of Abakumov (1951)
By 1951, therefore, the revisionist conspirators had good reason to feel extremely uneasy about their future. Rumours circulated:
“. . that several members of Stalin’s entourage were threatened by the coming purge.”
(G. Bortoli: ‘The Death of Stalin’; London; 1973; p. 151).
Clearly, urgent action was essential to safeguard both the conspiracy and the conspirators.
In late 1951, therefore, the revisionist conspirators brought about the dismissal of the Marxist-Leninist Abakumov as Minister of State Security and his replacement by the concealed revisionist Semyon Ignatiev*:
“Beria’s adversaries in the Party (the opponents of Marxism-Leninism — Ed.) . . . achieved a notable victory in late 1951 with the replacement of V. S. Abakumov, an associate of Beria, by S. P. Ignatiev, a Party official, as head of the MVD.”
(S. Wolin & R. Slusser: ‘The Soviet Secret Police’; London; 1957; p. 20).
Boris Levytsky records that:
“Abakumov, Beria’s intimate friend (= a Marxist-Leninist — Ed.) was removed from his post and replaced by S. D. Ignatiev.”
(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 204).
and sees this move as the:
“. . . first step towards a complete re-staffing of the secret police, towards the removal of Beria and his friends (of the Marxist-Leninists — Ed.). . . . For the assumption that Ignatiev was a man of straw there is. . . plenty of evidence. . . . Ignatiev’s appointment was favoured by the circumstance that he had never had anything to do with Beria and had no experience of the secret police.”
(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 204, 295).
Shortly afterwards, Abakumov and several dozen of his assistants were arrested on charges of ‘lack of vigilance in connection with the ‘Leningrad Affair’ of 1949-50 (already analysed):
“In . . . 1951 . . . Abakumov was arrested. . . . He was taken to the Lubyanka and put in solitary confinement. Seven of his deputies and several dozen state security officers were arrested along with him. . .The charges brought against Abakumov at that time were that he had not recognised the enemy of the people during his handling of the ‘Leningrad Affair’. . . .In September 1951 none other than Khrushchev . . . echoed Stalin’s charge that Abakumov and his officers had failed to recognise the enemy of the people in the northern city’s Party apparatus.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 316-17).
The trumped-up character of the charges against Abakumov and his assistants is obvious from the fact that in December 1954 Abakumov was executed by the same revisionist conspirators on charges which included those of having ‘fabricated the “Leningrad Affair”‘:
“Abakumov falsified the so-called ‘Leningrad Case’, in which a number of Party and Soviet officials were arrested without grounds, having been falsely accused of most serious state crimes.”
(‘Pravda’, 24 December 1954, in: R. Conquest: ‘Power and Policy in the USSR’; London; 1961; (hereafter listed as ‘R. Conquest (1961’); p. 449).
The Georgian Feint (1951-52)
But, as we shall see, the removal and arrest of Abakumov did not put a stop to the danger to the conspirators resulting from investigation into the ‘doctors’ case . They therefore sought to save themselves by making a feint attack on certain Marxist-Leninists.
In military terminology, a ‘feint’ is
“. . a movement made with the object of deceiving the enemy as to a general’s real plans.” (‘Shorter Oxford English Dictionary’; Oxford; 1972; p. 737).
The revisionist conspirators selected Transcaucasia for their feint attack not only because it was a long way from the real objective of their attack, Moscow, but also because it was the birthplace of both Stalin and Beria and was regarded as a Marxist-Leninist stronghold. Charles Fairbanks, junior* speaks of Beria’s:
“. . . territorial fiefdom in the Transcaucasus.”
(C. H. Fairbanks, jr.: ‘National Cadres as a Force in the Soviet System: The Evidence of Beria’s Career: 1949-53’, in: J. R. Azrael (Ed.): ‘Soviet Nationality Policies and Practices’; New York; 1978; p. 155).
and Levytsky notes that at
“. . . the 14th Congress of the Georgian Communist Party in January 1949 . . . two separate greeting messages were sent: one to Stalin and one to Beria.”
(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 208).
The attack on the Georgian Marxist-Leninists could only be seen by Marxist-Leninists elsewhere as a groundless provocative attack on them by concealed enemies. The aim of the feint was, when the time was ripe — that is, when Stalin and his personal secretariat had been rendered powerless to intervene –
1) to admit that the Ministry of State Security had been in the hands of concealed enemies and had committed grave miscarriages of justice (e.g., in Georgia) of which they demanded the correction;
2) to exculpate and release the guilty doctor-conspirators together with the innocent Marxist-Leninists under the general cloak of ‘correcting miscarriages of justice’.
The feint began in January 1951 when, as Robert Conquest* points out, Vilian Zodelava was removed as leader of the Georgian Young Communist League. (R. Conquest (1961); p. 140).
On 24 May 1951:
” . . the ‘Voice of America’ announced it would start broadcasting Saturday in the Georgian language.”
(‘New York Times’, 25 May 1951; p. 21).
In November 1951 the wholesale removal of leading Marxist-Leninists in Georgia began, the offenders being charged with ’embezzlement, car thefts and similar crimes’. The news was leaked to Western diplomats in February 1952:
“A major wave of embezzlements, automobile thefts and similar crimes in Soviet Georgia has resulted in a wholesale purge of top Communist Party and government officials in that area, diplomatic sources report. . . .The removals began last November. The two most important officials purged were Mikhail Baramiya and Rostom Shaduri, secretaries of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party.”
(‘New York Times’, 6 February 1952; p. 12).
David Lang* confirms this:
“Prominent Georgian Communists were accused of embezzling state funds, stealing automobiles and plundering state property.”
(D. M. Lang: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962; p. 261).
as does John Ducoli*:
“The purported reasons for the initial purge were embezzlements of state funds, automobile thefts, the plundering of state property, etc.”
(J. Ducoli: ‘The Georgian Purges (1951-53)’, in: ‘Caucasian Review’, Volume 6 (1958); p. 55).
Within a few days, in November 1951, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia was announcing that the accusations against some former Georgian leaders had been widened to include ‘the protection of criminal officials’:
“‘Recently it has become known that the Second Secretary of the CC of the CP (b) of Georgia, M. I. Baramiya, the Minister of Justice, A. N. Rapava, and the Prosecutor of the Republic, B. Ya. Shoniya, have been extending protection to certain officials who have committed crimes and have been shielding them in every possible way’. . . .All those named were dismissed from their posts.”
(R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 139).
Later, after the ousting of Beria from the leadership in July 1953, the dismissed officials were described as ‘supporters of Beria’. As the then First Secretary of the Georgian Central Committee, Akaki Mgeladze, reported to the Georgian Party Congress in September 1952:
“‘In 1951 several hundred of Beria’s supporters in Georgia were purged.”‘
(C. H. Fairbanks, junior: op. cit.; p. 161).
All leading Marxist-Leninists in Georgia were removed and replaced by conscious revisionists.
Then, in April 1952, a Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia dismissed Kandida Charkviani as First Secretary, Rostom Shaduri and Mikhail Baramiya as Second Secretaries, Valerian Bakradze as Deputy Premier, Avksenty Rapava as Minister of Justice, and a number of other prominent Georgian leaders.
The Plenum elected a new First Secretary — the concealed revisionist Akak Mgeladze:
“Kandida Charkviani . . . has been relieved, and a new leader, Akaki Mgeladze, former secretary of the important Abkhaz regional party committee, has been installed in his place.”
(‘Pravda’, 6 June 1952, in: ‘New York Times’, 8 June 1952; p. 27).
Mgeladze carried forward on a large scale the process of removing Marxist-Leninists from responsible positions in the Georgian Party:
“Mgeladze set to work to purge the Party and the governmental apparatus from top to bottom. In six months he replaced half the members of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party who had been returned in the election of 1949, and brought about a complete upheaval in the administrative hierarchy of the Republic. . . . Several high officials removed by Mgeladze, notably Valerian Bakradze, Deputy Chairman of the Georgian Council of Ministers (Deputy Premier — Ed.) were personal nominees of Beria.”
(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 261).
“After a mere six months of leadership, Mgeladze purged approximately 55% of the 111 members and candidate members of the Central Committee which had been elected in 1949.”
(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 55).
Beria came from Moscow to attend April 1952 Plenum:
“Beria was present at the plenum in April that formally confirmed the succession. Charkviani’s followers were replaced by men from Abkhazeti, where Mgeladze had been Party chief.”
(R. G. Suny: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’; London; 1989; p. 288).
“In April 1952, Beria, now Vice-President of the Soviet Council of Ministers (USSR Deputy Premier — Ed.) came from Moscow to attend a meeting of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party.”
(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 261).
The presence of Beria enabled the concealed revisionists to ‘let it become known’, that is, to spread the completely false story, that the changes in leading personnel which they had brought about in Georgia had been brought about ‘on Stalin’s instructions’:
“At that time (spring 1952 — Ed.) it became known that Mr. Beria himself had gone to Georgia to clean up a situation compounded of widespread graft and other types of corruption. Later it became known that Premier Stalin himself had had to intervene to order the purge in the Georgian Communist Party.”
(‘New York Times’, 3 January 1953; p. 3).
In fact, the Georgian leaders who were removed were Marxist-Leninists who were supported by Beria and Stalin, and had been elected on their recommendation:
“Several high officials removed by Mgeladze, notably Valerian Bakradze, Deputy Chairman of the Georgian Council of Ministers (Deputy Premier — Ed.) were personal nominees of Beria.”
(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 261).
“Mr. Beria had to preside at the removal of the men he had installed at the head of the Georgian Party and to permit these charges of corruption to be announced as true.”
(‘New York Times’, 17 April 1953; p. 10).
However, the story that the leadership changes had been brought about at the wishes of Beria and Stalin was useful in quashing opposition to the changes. Mgeladze told the Georgian Party Congress in September 1952:
“These plenary sessions (of November 1951 and April 1952 — Ed.) adopted resolutions based on the decision of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party and upon Comrade Stalin’s personal instructions.”
(A. Mgeladze: Report to Congress of Georgian Communist Party, September 1952, in: R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 143).
The reasons given as to why Beria and Stalin should have wanted these changes were naturally somewhat nebulous. Mgeladze told the Georgian Young Communist League in May 1952:
“‘Comrade Stalin found deficiencies in the leadership of the Communist Party and Young Communist League of Georgia, which threatened to have serious consequences, and showed ways to correct mistakes.”‘
(A. Mgeladze: Report to Georgian Young Communist League, May 1952, in: R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 141-42).
This vague allegation was later made more concrete. Later in 1952, someone discovered some critical remarks of Stalin about the danger of nationalism in Georgia.
The dismissed Marxist-Leninists were now accused of criminal nationalism and were said to have been arrested, linked with those critical remarks made by Stalin about the dangers of nationalism:
“In the Georgian purges of 1951-52, his (Beria’s — Ed.) appointees were charged with lenience towards Georgian nationalism.”
(C. H. Fairbanks, Junior: op. cit., p. 154).
Mgeladze told the Georgian Party Congress on September 1952:
“‘The former leadership forgot about the fact that international reactionaries are trying to find in our Republic nationalist elements with hostile attitude in order with their help to carry on diversionist espionage work.”‘
(‘New York Times’, 23 September 1952; p. 3).
A number of the dismissed Marxist-Leninist leaders were charged with criminal manifestations of Georgian nationalism
“Mgeladze and his Minister of State Security, Rukhadze, charged some proteges of Beria with nationalism. They were M. I. Baramiya . . . .Rapava Shoniya. They were arrested and imprisoned.”
(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 56).
“All those named (Baramiya, Rapava and Shoniya — Ed.) were arrested later.”
(R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 139).
“Charkviani, secretary of the Georgian Central Committee from 1939 to 1952, Rapava, then Minister of Internal Affairs for the Georgian Republic, and others were removed from their posts and arrested, after being accused of nationalism at the Georgian Party conference of April 1952. The blow was struck by Rukhadze, then Minister of State Security in Georgia.”
(Boris Nicolaevsky: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite’; New York; 1965; p. 182).
The Marxist-Leninists’ Counter-blow in Georgia
Meanwhile, the Marxist-Leninists, realising that the security of the socialist state had suffered a severe setback in Georgia, had the affair investigated through Stalin’s ‘special secretariat’, which as we have seen, functioned as a special security force under the control of the Marxist-Leninists. The special secretrariat uncovered sufficient evidence to establish that the Georgian Minister of State Security, Nikolay Rukhadze, had behaved improperly in the case of the Georgian Marxist-Leninists. As a result, in July 1952 the revisionists were compelled to dismiss Rukhadze, although they were able to resist his arrest and any reversal of his actions in ‘the Georgian feint’ until the following April:
“In July 1952, Rukhadze who, as Minister of State Security, was responsible for the Baramiya purge, was removed. . . . Rukhadze’s removal may have been a partial victory for Beria.”
(R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 142).
The Indictment in the “Doctors’ Case” (1953)
Despite the removal and arrest of Abakumov, the intervention of Stalin’s personal secretariat ensured that investigation into the ‘doctors’ case’ continued. Isaac Deutscher’ confirms that:
“. . . Ignatiev, the Minister of State Security, was a reluctant executant of orders.”
(I.Deutscher: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; Harmondsworth; 1968.; p. 605).
Ignatiev, therefore, remained aloof from the investigation into the ‘doctors’ case’, leaving the conduct of this to his Deputy, the Marxist-Leninist Ryumin:
“Ryumin personally supervised the investigation (into the ‘Doctors’ Case’ ‘Ed.).”‘
(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 10-0).
Ryumin had formerly headed the State Security Section of Stalin’s personal secretariat:
“Ryumin, before being appointed to the post of Deputy Miinister of State Security . . . headed the state security section in Stalin’s personal secretariat.”
(B.Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 155).
As a result of the findings in this investigation,
“. . . in the summer of 1952 many . . . doctors who had, worked in the Kremlin Hospital for many years and treated many statesmen were summarily fired. Among them; were Miron Vovsi and Vladirmir Vinogradov. The former head of the Kremlin Hospital, Aleksey Busalov, Mikhail Yegorov . . . and Sophia Karpai were arrested.”
(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 72).
On 13 January 1953 ‘Pravda’ carried the report of the arrest of
” . . a terrorist group of doctors who had made it their aim to cut short the lives of active public figures of the Soviet Union through sabotage medical treatment. . . .
The participants in this terrorist group, taking advantage of their position as doctors and abusing the trust of patients, by deliberate evil intent . . . made incorrect diagnoses . . . and then doomed them by wrong treatment.”
(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953; p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 4, No. 31 (31 January 1953); p. 3).
Nine doctors were named as ‘among the participants in this terrorist group, namely:
“Professor M. S. Vovsi, therapeutist;
Professor V.I. Vinogradov, therapeutist;
Professor M.B. Kogan, therapeutist;
Professor B.B. Kogan, therapeutist;
Professor P. I. Yegorov, therapeutist;
Professor A.I.Feldman, otolaryngologist;
Professor Ya.G.Etinger, therapeutist;
Professor Grinshtein, neuropathologist;
G.I. Maiorov, therapeutist.”
(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, in: ibid.; p. 3).
Of the accused persons, Vladimir Vinogradov* was
“. . . Stalin’s personal physician”,
(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 216).
Mikhail and Boris Kogan were brothers, while Miron Vovsi was a relative of the Jewish actor ‘Solomon Mikhoels’, whose real surname was Vovsi.
The doctors were charged with having murdered in this way Andrey Zhadnov and Alelsandr Scherbakov*, and with attempting to murder Marshals Aleksandr Vasilevsky*, Leonid Covorov*, and Ivan Konev, together with General Sergey Shtemenko* and Admiral Cordey Iavchenko*.
It was alleged that
“. . most of the participants in the terrorist group (M. S. Vovsi, B. B. Kogan, A. I. Feldman, A. M. Grinshtein, Ya. H. Yetinger and others) were connected with -the international Jewish bourgeois nationalist organisation ‘JOINT’, established by American intelligence for the purpose of providing material aid to Jews in other countries. In acxtual fact this organisation, under direction of American intelligebce, conducts extensive espionage, terrorist and other subversive work in many countries, including the Soviet Union. . . . The arrested Vovsi told investigators that he had received orders ‘to wipe out the leading cadres of the USSR’ — received them from the USA through the ‘JOINT’ organisation, via a Moscow doctor, Shimeliovich, and the well known Jewish bourgeois nationalist Mikhoels.
Other participants in the terrorist group (V. N. Vinogradov, M. B, Kogan, P. I. Yegorov) proved to be old agents of British intelligece.”
(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 4, No. 51 (3 January 1953); p. 3).
The full name of ‘JOINT’ was the ‘American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’, founded in the United States in November 1914 by the fusion of three committees, ostensibly as an international charity for the assistance of Jews throughout the world.
The announcement concluded:
“The investigation will soon be concluded.”
(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, in: ibid.; p. 3).
An editorial in ”Pravda’ on the same day reminded people that in the 1930s a group of doctors involved in a concealed revisionist conspiracy had admitted at their public trial to murdering a number of leading Soviet Marxist-Leninists by administering deliberately incorrect medical treatment to them:
“The agencies of state security did not discover the doctors’ wrecking, terrorist organisation in time. Yet these agencies should have been particularly vigilant, since history already records instances of foul murderers and traitors to the Motherland conducting their machinations in the guise of doctors, such as the ‘doctors’ Levin and Pletnev, who killed t he great Russian writer A. M. Gorky and the outstanding Soviet statesmen V. V. Kuibyshev and V. R. Menzhinsky by deliberate wrong treatment on orders from enemies of the Soviet Union.”
(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 4).
The original statement had stated that:
“the criminal doctors confessed.”
(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, in: ibid.; p. 3).
and, in his secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, Khrushchev declared:
“Shortly after the doctors were arrested we members of the Political Bureau received protocols with the doctors’ confessions of guilt.”
(N. S. Khrushchev:1956; “Secret Speech to 20th Congress”; of the CPSU; p. 64).
And after their release by the revisionist conspirators following Stalin’s death in March 1953, the doctors admitted that their confessions had been genuine:
“When we were all released, Vovsi and Vinogradov themselves told me that they had admitted all the crimes imparted to them. . . .
The most tragic aspect of these confessions was that the person admitted not only crimes he himself had supposedly committed, but also the existence of a criminal organisation and collective criminal actions. . . . The accused was led to cooperate with the investigation in exposing the crimes of others. This happened to Vovsi and Vinogradov, and perhaps to other people as well.
Sophia Karpai, formerly a doctor at the Kremlin Hospital, told me in the summer of 1953 about her confrontation with Vovsi, Vinogradov and Vasilenko in prison. To her face they asserted that she had executed their criminal orders to administer harmful treatments to her patients. . . .So the people who had broken down became witnesses for the prosecution.”
(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 137).
Furthermore, the released doctors testified that their confessions had not been brought about as a result of the application of:
“. . torture, of which rumours were rife in the memorable purge years of 1937-1939 . . . Vinogradov told me that he had resolved from the beginning not to wait till they started torturing him, but to admit all the charges, which included one of espionage for France and Great Britain.”
(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 138).
The determination of the Soviet Marxist-Leninists to proceed with the ‘doctors’ case’ made it an urgent matter of life and death for the revisionist conspirators to halt the proceedings in the case by destroying Stalin’s personal secretariat as a necessary preliminary to destroying Stalin himself.
The Destruction of the Defence System around Stalin
We have noted the role of Stalin’s personal secretariat — also known as the ‘Special Sector’ of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party — in bringing about the treason trials of the 1930s. But this body also played an important role in defending from terrorist attack the Marxist-Leninist nucleus, headed by Stalin, at the heart of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
The special sector had been headed since 1928 by the Marxist-Leninist Aleksandr Poskrebyshev*:
“As head of the ‘Special Sector’ of the Central Committee for many years, he (Poskrebyshev — Ed.) was Stalin’s closest confidant up till 1952.”
(R. Conquest: ‘The Great Terror’; Harmondsworth; 1971; (hereafter listed as ‘R. Conquest (1971)’); p. 37).
while Lieutenant-General Nikolay Vlasik*
“. . . for more than twenty-five years had been Stalin’s chief of personal security; he knew much and was trusted by the boss.”
(D. Volkogonov: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991; p. 333).
Dmitri Volkogonov* asserts that Pokrebyshev
“. . . . . to the end of his days remained his master’s devoted servant. . . He was a man with the memory of a computer. You could get an exact reply to any question. He was a walking encyclopaedia. . . .Stalin . . . trusted . . . Vlasik and Poskrebyshev.”
(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 203-04, 318).
and Levtysky confirms that:
“. . . those who knew the conditions at the summit of the Party after 1945 describe Poskrebyshev as an organising genius with a phenomenal memory.”
(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 177).
Conquest asserts that Poskrebyshev was:
” . . . the man most closely and directly associated with Stalin (later described in Khrushchev’s secret speech as Stalin’s ‘shieldbearer’).”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 156).
Volkogonov says of Vlasik:
“For more than twenty-five years, Vlasik had been Stalin’s chief of personal security; he knew much was trusted by the boss.”
(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 318, 333).
and Robert McNeal* says that
“. . . Vlasik and Poskrebyshev effectively guarded the approaches to Stalin’s office, one as controller of security, the other of appointments.”
(R. H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 301).
It was clear, therefore, that a successful terrorist attack on Stalin required the prior elimination of the faithful Poskrebyshev and Vlasik.
Walter Laqueur* states:
“During the last year of Stalin’s life, Poskrebyshev fell from grace.”
(W. Laqueur: ‘Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations’; London; 1990; p. 176).
and Nikita Khrushchev tells how this ‘fall from grace’ was brought about. He describes how, during the winter of 1952-53, he came under suspicion of leaking secret documents, and how he succeeded in deflecting the blame from himself in such a way that it fell upon Poskrebyshev:
“Stalin . . . complained that secret documents were leaking out through our secretariats. . . . Stalin was coming straight for me: ‘It’s you. Khrushchev! The leak is through your secretrariat!’ . . .
I . . . succeeded in deflecting the blow from myself, but Stalin didn’t let the matter rest. . . . After I’d convinced Stalin that the leak wasn’t through my secretariat, he came to the conclusion that the leak must have been through Poskrebyshev. . . . Poskrebyshev had worked for Stalin for many years. . . .
Stalin removed Poskrebyshev from his post and promoted someone else.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 272, 273, 274, 275).
Niels Rosenfeldt confirms that
” . . . Poskrebyshev was removed from his old post at the latest during the winter of 1952-53. . .Stalin ‘s bodyguard, Vlasik, disappeared around that time (the winter of 1952-53 — Ed.).”
(F. E. Rosenfeldt: ‘Knowledge and Power: The Role of Stalin’s Chancellery in the Soviet System of Government’; Copenhagen; 1978; p. 196).
as does Adam Ulam*:
“Poskrebyshev and Vlasik . . . found themselves in disgrace.”
(B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989; p. 617).
Volkogonov states that
“. . Poskrebyshev and Vlasik were compromised . . . . shortly before Stalin’s death and were therefore distanced from him.”
(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 513).
and McNeal confirms that
“. . . both these men (Poskrebyshev and Vlasik — Ed.) were thrown out in 1952.”
(R. H. McNeal: ov. cit.: v. 301).
Deriabin agrees that the charges of disloyalty levelled at Poskrebyshev and Vlasik were completely false:
“The claim about that pair of long time faithful servants was a bald and most complete lie. But . . . Stalin fired them both.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 320).
The revisionist conspirators placed Poskrebyshev under house arrest:
“Poskrebyshev was placed under house arrest in his dacha outside Moscow, with . . . guards posted about it.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).
“Poskrebyshev . . . disappeared. He was simply not mentioned again, apart from a brief sneer in Khrushchev’s secret speech.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 208).
while Vlasik was expelled from the Party and sent to Sverdlovsk ts deputy commandant of a labour camp:
“Vlasik . . . was not only fired, he was also expelled from the Party and sent to Sverdlovsk. . . . . as deputy commandant of a . . . labour camp.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).
Vlasik came to Moscow and:
” . . . went to the Kremlin in an attempt to see Stalin. . . He was picked up near the Kremlin gates and put into the Lubyanka. Two weeks later he died there of an ‘illness.”‘
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).
Volkogonov confirms that Vlasik
” . . . was arrested on 16 December 1952″,
(D. Volkogonov”: op. cit.; p. 570).
and records that, during Vlasik’s interrogation, pressure was exerted on him:
“. . . to make him incriminate Poskrebyshev. He refused.”
(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 570).
Ulam confirms that
“. . . Vlasik, chief of his (Stalin’s — Ed.) personal security since the Civil War, had been imprisoned. His confidential secretary, Poskrebyshev, was chased away.”
(B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 737).
and Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva*, tells the same story:
“Shortly before my father died even some of his intimates were disgraced: the perenniel Vlasik was sent to prison in the winter of 1952 and my father’s personal secretary Poskrebyshev, who had been with him for twenty years, was removed.”
(S. Alliluyeva: ‘Twenty Letters to a Friend’; London; 1967; p. 216).
However, the attack on the defence system around Stalin was not confined to the elimination of Poskrebyshev and Vlasik. During 1952 the concealed revisionists set up:
“. . . . a commission to investigate. . . the entire state security apparatus.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 317).
” . . . proceeded . . . to cut Stalin’s bodyguards to the bone. . . .
About seven thousand men were dropped from the original Okhrana force of some seventeen thousand. . , .When the slashing was finished, Stalin’s personal bodyguards, Okhrana No. 1, had been cut to half strength.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 317, 318, 319).
This left Stalin
” . . . guarded by . . . only a small group of officers. . . . a group that had little security experience, especially as bodyguards, and one that was headed by a mere major.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 319).
Rosenfeldt adds that about this time the special guard service, whose task was to ensure Stalin’s personal safety, after ‘a thorough purging and a big reduction in personnel’, together with the Kremlin Command and the Kremlin Medical Administration, were all made subordinate to the revisionist controlled Ministry of State Security:
“The special guard service, whose job it was to ensure Stalin’s personal safety, was made subordinate to the Ministry of State Security (MGB) in 1952 after a thorough purging and a big reduction in personnel. At the same time and in the same way the Kremlin Command and the Kremlin Medical Administration were put under MGB control.”
(N. E. Rosenfeldt: op. cit .; p. 196).
Then, on 17 February 1953, two weeks before Stalin himself died, the sudden death was reported of the Major-General Petr Kosynkin, Deputy Commandant of the Kremlin Guards, in charge of the operational arrangements for guarding Stalin:
“On 15 February 1953, shortly before Stalin’s death, the commander of the Kremlin guard, Major-General Pyotr Kosynkin, who was responsible for Stalin’s personal safety, died.”
(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 212).
“The Deputy Commandant of the Kremlin, Major-General Kosynkin, in charge of the operational arrangements for guarding Stalin, died of a heart attack two weeks before Stalin. Or so the announcement said.”
(P. Deriabin & F. Gibney: ‘The Secret World’; New York; 1959; p. 169).
“The Vice-Chief of the Kremlin Command, Major-General Petr Kosynkin, passed away prematurely’ on 15th February 1953.”
(N. E. Rosenfeldt: op. cit.; p. 196).
“On February 17 1953 . . . Major General Petr Kosynkin, the deputy Commander of the Kremlin Guard, suddenly died of a heart attack. That sudden seizure was rather unusual, to say the least. A fanatical admirer of Stalin, Kosynkin had been in the prime of life and health. . . . The extremely careful physical examinations regularly undergone by all such appointees as Kosynkin automatically presuppose that the guard leader was in top condition and certainly not suffering from any heart trouble. . .
On February 17, 1953 there came a report, generally unnoticed at the time, that the Deputy Kremlin Commandant, General Kosynkin, the only remaining guard that Stalin could trust, had suddenly died of a ‘heart attack.”‘
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 239, 325).
Finally, on 21 February 1953
“. . . . a most significant change was made in the Army High Command. General Sergey Shtemenko was replaced by Marshal Vasily Sokolovsky as Chief of Staff of the Soviet armed forces. . . . And concurrently with Shtemenko’s replacement, the Okhrana bodyguards were removed from the general staff.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit,.; p. 325).
“The Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff, Sergey Shtemenko, was removed from his post about the same time (mid-February 1953 — Ed).”
(N. E. Rosenfeldt: op. cit.; p. 196).
Deriabin sums up this ‘process of stripping Stalin of all his personal security’ as ‘a studied and very ably handled business’:
“That completed the process of stripping Stalin of all personal security, except for the comparative window-dressing of the minor Okhrana officers in his office and household. This had been a studied and very ably handled business: the framing of Abakumov, the dismissal of Vlasik, the discrediting of Poskrebyshev, the emasculation of the Okhrana and its enforced subservience to the (revisionist-controlled — Ed.) MGB, Kosynkin’s ‘heart attack’, the replacement of Shtemenko and the removal of the general staff from the last vestiges of Okhrana control. And certainly not to be forgotten at this juncture was the MGB control of the Kremlin medical office.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 325-26).
and one which placed the conspirators finally in the drivers’s seat:
“With state security and the armed forces under their command, the connivers were finally in the driver’s seat.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 326).
On 3 March 1953 a joint statement of the Central Committee of the CPSU and of the USSR Council of Ministers announced
“…a great misfortune which has befallen our Party and our people.”
(Communique, 3 March 1953, in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 4 March 1953; p. 1, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 5, No. 6 (21 March 1953); p. 4).
It reported that:
“. . . during the night of March 1-2 Comrade Stalin, while in his Moscow apartment, had a haemorrhage of the brain, which affected vital parts of his brain. Comrade Stalin lost consciousness.
Paralysis of the right arm and leg developed. Loss of speech occurred. Serious disturbances developed in the functioning of the heart and breathing.
The best medical personnel have been called in to treat Comrade Stalin. . . .
‘Treatment of Comrade Stalin is under the constant supervision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet government.”
(Government Statement, 3 March 1953, in: ‘Pravda ‘ and ‘Izvestia’, 4 March 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 4).
In the early hours of the following morning, 4 March, a medical bulletin was issued which stated:
“At 2 a.m. 4 March, J. V. Stalin’s conditions remains serious. Considerable disturbances of breathing is observed; frequency of breathing is 36 per minute and the rhythm of breathing is irregular, with periodic prolonged pauses.
It is observed that pulse beats are up to 120 a minute and there is complete arrhythmia. Maximum blood pressure is 220, minimum 120.
Temperature is 38.2 (Centigrade — Ed.). In connection with the disturbed breathing and blood circulation, inadequacy of organs is observed. The degree of disturbance of the function of the brain has increased somewhat.
At the present time a series of therapeutic measures are being applied to restore the vitally important functions of the organism.”
(Medical Bulletin, 4 March 1953, in: ibid.; p. 4).
A second bulletin was issued on the morning of 5 March:
“During the past twenty-four hours the state of health of Josef Vissarionovich Stalin remained grave. Arteriosclerosis, which developed during the night of March 1-2 on the basis of hypotonia and cerebral haemorrhage in his left brain hemisphere, has resulted, apart from the right-side paralysis of limbs and loss of consciousness, in impaired stem section of the brain, accompanied by disturbances of the vital functions of breathing and blood circulation.
During the night of March 3-4, disturbed breathing and blood circulation continued. The greatest changes were observed An the breathing functions.
Instances of periods of so-called Cheyne-Stokes breathing became more frequent. In connection with this, the condition of the blood circulation deteriorated and the degree of lack of oxygen increased.
Systematic introduction of oxygen and of medicines which regulate breathing and the action of the heart vessels gradually somewhat improved the condition and on the morning of March 4 the degree of lack of breathing was somewhat reduced.
Further, during the day of March 4, grave breathing disturbances recommenced. The rate of breathing was 36 per minute. Blood pressure continued to remain high (210 maximum, 110 minimum), with pulse 108-116 per minute, irregular, fluttering and arrhythmic.
The heart is not unduly enlarged. During the past twenty-four hours, fundamental changes in the condition of the lungs and organs of the peritoneal cavity were established. Albumen and red blood corpuscles were found in the normal ratio.
When blood was tested, increase in the number of white corpuscles to the extent of up to 17,000 was observed. Temperature during the morning and afternoon rose to 38.6.
Medical measures taken during March 4 consisted of introducing oxygen, camphor compounds, caffeine and glucose. For the second time, leeches were used to draw blood.
In connection with the raised temperature and high leucocytosis, penicillin therapy, which has been carried out for prophylactic purposes since the beginning of the illness, was intensified.
Towards the end of March 4 the state of health of Josef V. Stalin continues grave.
The patient is in a state of deep unconsciousnness.
Nervous regulation of breathing, as well as cardiac action, continues to be greatly impaired.”
(Medical Bulletin, 2 a.m., 5 March 1953. in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 5 March 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 4).
A third medical bulletin was issued in the morning of 5 March 1953 and published in the press on 6 March. It reported the worsening of Stalin’s condition:
“During the night and the first half of March 5, J. V. Stalin’s condition became worse. Acute disturbances in the cardio-vascular system have been added to the impairment of vital functions of the brain. For three hours this morning there was serious respiratory deficiency, which yielded with difficulty to the proper therapeutics.
At eight this morning there developed signs of an acute cardiovascular deficiency, a collapse. The blood pressure dropped, the pulse quickened. There was an increase in pallor. Emergency treatment eliminated these developments.
An electrocardiogram taken at 11 a.m. revealed acute disturbances in the blood circulation in the coronary arteries of the heart with lesions in the back wall of the heart. (The electrocardiogram taken March 2 had not established such changes). At 11.30 a.m. there was a second serious collapse, which was eliminated with difficulty by the proper medical treatment. Later in the day, the cardiovascular disturbances subsided to some extent. but the patient’s general condition remained extremely grave.
At 4 p.m. the blood pressure ranged from a maximum of 160 to a minimum of 100. The pulse was 120 per minute and arrhythmic. The rate of respiration: 36 per minute. Temperature: 37.6. The leucocyte count: 21,000. Treatment at present is aimed primarily at combatting the disturbances in respiration and blood circulation, specifically coronary circulation.”
(Medical Bulletin, 4 p.m., 5 March 1953. in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 6 March; p. 1; in: ibid.; p. 5).
Finally, on 6 March came the medical report carrying the announcement of Stalin’s death:
“On the afternoon of March 5 the condition of the patent deteriorated especially rapidly; respiration became shallow and much faster, the pulse reached 140-150 beats per minute and pulse pressure dropped.
At 2150 hours , with cardiac failure and growing insufficiency of breathing, J. V. Stalin died.”
(Medical Bulletin, 6 March 1953, in ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 6 March 1953. p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 5).
The medical report was published together with a joint tribute from the Central Committee, the government and the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet:
“The heart of Lenin’s comrade-in-arms and the inspired continuer of Lenin’s cause, the wise leader and teacher of the Communist Party and the Soviet people — Josef Vissarionovich STALIN — has stopped beating.
STALIN’s name is boundlessly dear to our Party, to the Soviet people, to the working people of the world. . . . Continuing Lenin’s immortal cause, Comrade STALIN led the Soviet people to the world-historic triumph of socialism in our land. Comrade STALIN led our country to victory over fascism in the second world war, which wrought a radical change in the entire international situation. Comrade STALIN armed the Party and the entire people with a great and clear programme of building communism in the USSR.
The death of Comrade STALIN, who devoted all his life to the great cause of communism, constitutes a great loss to the Party and to the working people of the Soviet land and of the whole world.”
(Joint Statement of CC of CPSU, USSR Council of Ministers and the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 6 March 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 5).
On 7 March 1953 the report of the autopsy on Stalin’s body was published. It was stated that it
” . . . entirely confirmed the diagnosis established by the professors of medicine who treated J. V. Stalin.”
(Pathological and Anatomical Examination of the Body of Josef Stalin, in: ‘Pravda’, 7 March 1953. in: G. Bortoli: ‘The Death of Stalin’; London; 1975; p. 209).
“. . . established the irreversible character of J. V. Stalin’s illness since the appearance of the cerebral haemorrhage.”
(Pathological and Anatomical Examination of the Body of Josef Stalin, in: ibid.; p. 209).
The full report stated:
“As the result of a pathological and anatomical examination, an important centre of haemorrhage was discovered in the region of the subcortical centres of the left hemisphere of the brain. This haemorrhage destroyed important areas of the brain and provoked irreversible disturbances of the respiration and circulation. Besides the cerebral haemorrhage, observation was made of a considerable hypertonic disturbance of the left ventricle of the heart, important haemorrhages of the cardiac muscle, and in the mucous of the stomach and intestine, and arteriosclerotic modifications of particularly important vessels in the brain’s arteries. This process was the result of high blood pressure. The results of the pathological and anatomical examination have entirely confirmed the diagnosis establised by the professors of medicine who treated J. V. Stalin.
The facts of the pathologico-anatomical examination have established the irreversible character of J. V. Stalin’s illness since the appearance of the cerebral haemorrhage. That is why the energetic measures of the treatment could not produce positive results, nor prevent the fatal outcome.”
(Ibid.; p. 209).
There are a number of circumstances connected with the death of Stalin which make it, in forensic terms, “a suspicious death”:
Firstly, Stalin appeared to be in excellent health immediately prior to the beginning of March:
“And what of Stalin himself? In the pink of,condition. In the best of spirits. That was the word of three foreigners who saw him in February – Bravo, the Argentine Amassador; Menon, the Indian, and Dr. Kitchlu, an Indian active in the peace movement.”
(H. Salisbury: ‘Stalin’s Russia and After’; London; 1952; p. 157).
Secondly, on the night of 1-2 March there was a long delay in obtaining medical help for Stalin:
“Khrushchev does not mention specific times, but his narrative makes it incredible that the doctors arrived much before 5 a.m. on 2 March. This is many hours, perhaps twelve, after the seizure. . . .
It is not true that he was under medical care soon after the seizure.”
(R. H. McNeal: op. cit ; p. 304).
“There is a mystery about what had happened to Stalin, His guards had become alarmed when he had not asked for his evening snack at 11 p.m. . . . The security men picked him up and put him on a sofa, but doctors were not summoned until the morning.
Stalin lay helpess and untreated for the better part of a day, making recuperative treatment much harder. . . .
Why did the Party leaders prolong the delay? Some historians see evidence of premeditated murder. Abdurakhman Avtorhanov sees the cause in Stalin’s visible preparation of a purge to rival those of the thirties.”
(J. Lewis & P. Whitehead: ‘Stalin: A Time for Judgement’; London; 1990; p. 179).
“Only on the next morning . . . did the first physicians arrive.”
(W. Laqueuer: op. cit.; p. 151).
“Physicians were finally brought in to the comatose leader after a twelve- or fourteen hour interval.”
(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 513).
Thirdly, there was a deliberate lie in the announcement of his death, which was stated to have taken place “in his Moscow apartment,” whereas it actually occurred in his dacha at Kuntsevo, Adam Ulam asserts that a:
” . . . conspiratorial air coloured the circumstances of Stalin’s death. The belated communique announcing his stroke was emphatic that it had occurred in his quarters in the Kremlin. Yet it was to his country villa . . . that his daughter Svetlana was summoned on March 2 to be by his deathbed. . . . He was stricken away from Moscow. . . .
The official communique’ lied about the place where Stalin had suffered the fatal stroke and died. . . .
There was an obvious reason behind the falsehood; his successors feared that a true statement about where he was at the time of the seizure would lead to rumours . . . that the stroke had occurred while he was being kidnapped or incarcerated by the oligarchs. Crowds might surge on the Kremlin, demanding an accounting of what had been done to their father and protector.”
(A. B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 4, 700, 739).
Fourthly, as we have seen, the revisionist conspirators had an ample and urgent motive — that of self-preservation — for eliminating Stalin:
“For many leading Soviet statesmen and officials, Stalin’s demise . . . came in the nick of time. Whether or not it was due to natural causes is another matter.”
(D. M. Lang: op. cit,; p. 262).
“What a strange quirk of fate, I thought, that Stalin should lie dying just a few weeks after the Kremlin’s own doctors had been accused of plotting precisely such a death. A very strange and curious quirk of fate.
But was it just a quirk? . . . Was it possible that these powerful and able Soviet leaders, together with their colleagues in the Army, had stood idly by and taken no steps to halt the creeping terror that was certain to destroy almost all of them. . . .While murder cannot be proved, there was no question that motive for murder existed. . . . For . . . if Stalin were dying a natural death. it was the luckiest thing that had ever happened to the men who stood closest to him.”
(H. Salisbury: op. cit.; p. 160-61).
Fifthly, it is necessary to take into account the circumstantial evidence of the series of measures undertaken by the conspirators in the months prior to Stalin’s death to destroy the system of defences that had surrounded him.
It is not surprising, therefore, within weeks of Stalin’s death, rumours should circulate that he had been murdered:
“There were rumours, above all in Georgia, that Stalin had been poisoned.”
(W. Laqueur: op. cit.; p, 151).
Robert Conquest speaks of the:
” . . . possibilities that he was killed.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 172).
As Stalin’s former bodyguard Vlasik was leaving Moscow after his dismissal, Stalin’s son Vasily* is reported to have cried out:
“‘They are going to kill him! They are going to kill him!’. By ‘they’ he meant . . . other members of the Political Bureau, and by ‘him’ he meant his father.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).
“Stalin’s son Vasily kept coming in and shouting ‘They’ve killed my father, the bastards!”‘
(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 774).
Although Vasily was an alcoholic, when he continued to make these accusations publicly, he was arrested in April 1953 in order, as his sister Svetlana puts it, “to isolate him”:
“After my father’s death, he (Vasily — Ed.) . . . was arrested. This happened because he had threatened the government, he talked that ‘my father was killed by his rivals’ and all things like that, and always many people around him — so they decided to isolate him. He stayed in jail till 1961 . . . and soon he died.”
(S. Alliluyeva: ‘Only One Year’; London: 1969 (hereafter listed as ‘S. Alliluyeva (1969); p. 202).
“He (Vasily Ed.) was convinced that our father had been ‘poisoned’ or ‘killed’.
Throughout the period before the funeral . . . he accused the government, the doctors and everybody in sight of using the wrong treatment on my father.. . .
He was arrested on April 18th, 1953. . . .A military collegium sentenced him to eight years in jail. He died on March 19th, 1962.”
(S. Alliluyeva (1967): p. 222-23, 224, 228).
Georges Bortoli* comments:
“Vasily Stalin had said aloud what the others were thinking to themselves. In less than a month, all sorts of rumours would begin to circulate in Moscow, and people would begin speaking of a crime. . . . .Some people said that several members of Stalin’s entourage were threatened by the coming purge. Had they taken steps to forestall it?”
(G. Bortoli: op. cit.; p. 151).
Robert Conquest and other commentators have drawn attention also to the sudden illness and death of the Czechoslovak leader, the Marxist-Leninist Klement Gottwald*, shortly after visiting Moscow to attend Stalin’s funeral, and have suggested that this death too had been induced. Gottwald was succeeded as President of Czechoslovakia by the concealed revisionist Antonin Zapotocky*:
“Many commentators have noted that immediately after Stalin’s death, Gottwald . . . also fell ill while attending Stalin’s funeral in Moscow, and died a few days later; and they have cast doubt on the naturalness of Gottwald’s illness.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 174).
The Albanian leader, the Marxist-Leninist Enver Hoxha* makes the same point:
“Immediately after the death of Stalin, Gottwald died. This was a sudden, surprising death! It had never crossed the mind of those who knew Gottwald that this strong, agile, healthy man would die of a flu or a chill allegedly caught on the day of Stalin’s funeral.”
(E. Hoxha: ‘The Khrushchevites’; Tirana; 1984 (hereafter listed as ‘E. Hoxha (1984)’); p. 153-54).
Hoxha also draws attention to the suspicious death of the Polish leader, the Marxist-Leninist Boleslaw Beirut* on 12 March 1957
” . . . in Moscow where he was attending the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 10; p. 14,767).
and was succeeded by the concealed revisionist Edward Ochab:
“Later came the equally unexpected death of Comrade Beirut. Edward Ochab replaced Beirut in the point of First Secretary of the Party. Thus Khrushchev’s old desire was realised.”
(E. Hoxha (1984): p. 153-65).
It was Ochab who arranged for the release of the imprisoned revisionist Wladyslaw Gomulka in April and his promotion to the post of First Secretary in October.
Hoxha, in fact, explicitly accuses the revisionist conspirators of the murder of Stalin:
“This cosmopolitan huckster (Anastas Mikoyan — Ed.) . . . as history showed, plotted with Nikita Khrushchev against Stalin, whom they had decided to murder. He admitted this with his own mouth in February 1960.”
(E. Hoxha (1984): p. 63-64).
“All this villainy emerged soon after the death, or to be more precise after the murder, of Stalin. I say after the murder of Stalin, because Mikoyan himself told me . . . that they, together with Khrushchev and their associates, had decided . . . to make an attempt on Stalin’s life.”
(E. Hoxha: ‘With Stalin: Memoirs’; Tirana; 1979; p. 31).
The Aborted Coup (1953)
As we have noted, in the years immediately prior to Stalin’s death, the security forces were under the control of concealed revisionists, not of Marxist-Leninists:
“Prior to Stalin’s death the Ministries of State Security and of Interior were not under Beria’s control.”
(R. Conquest, (1961): p. 200).
Clearly, it was a matter of great concern to the revisionist conspirators that, in any readjustment of responsibilities following Stalin’s death, control of the security forces should not pass again under Marxist-Leninist control.
Khrushchev records a discussion with fellow-revisionist Nikolay Bulganin* by Stalin’s death-bed on the danger to their plans if the Marxist-Leninist Lavrenty Beria were to become again Minister in control of the. security services:
“‘Stalin’s not going to pull through. . . . You know what posts Beria will take for himself?’
‘He will try and make himself Minister of State Security. No matter what happens, we can’t let him do this. If he becomes Minister of State Security it will be the beginning of the end for us’.
Bulganin said he agreed with me”,
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 319).
As we have seen, Stalin died 9. 50 p.m. on 5 March. The revisionists immediately used their control of the security forces to prepare for a coup. The American journalist Harrison Salisbury was an eye-witness of how, shortly before 6 a.m. the next morning:
” . . . smooth and quiet convoys of trucks were slipping into the city. Sitting cross-legged on wooden benches in the green-painted trucks were detachments of blue-and-red-capped MVD troops — twenty-two to a truck — the special troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. . . . The fleeting thought entered my mind that, perhaps, a coup d’etat might be in the making.
By nine o’clock . . . the Internal Affairs troops were everywhere in the centre of the city. . . . In upper Gorky Street columns of tanks made their appearance. . . . All the troops and all the trucks and all the tanks belonged to the special detachments of the MVD. Not a single detachment of regular Army forces was to be seen.
Later I discovered that the MVD had, in fact, isolated almost the whole city of Moscow. . .
By ten or eleven o’clock of the morning of March 6, 1953 no one could enter or leave the heart of Moscow except by leave of the MVD. .
MVD forces had taken over the city. . . .
Could any other troops enter the city? Not unless they had the permission of the MVD or were prepared to fight their way through, street by street, barricade by barricade.”
(H. Salisbury: op. cit.; p. 163-64, 166, 171, 173).
Robert Conquest paints a very similar picture:
“The streets of Moscow were solid with MVD troops when Stalin’s death was announced.” (R. Conquest (1961): p. 200).
as does Peter Deriabin:
“Even before Stalin’s body was cold, . . . MGB troops . . . not only set up controls and halted traffic, including pedestrians, on every principal capital thoroughfare, but had also ringed the Kremlin.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 328).
But the Marxist-Leninists succeeded, for the moment, in foiling the planned coup by mobilising sufficient support to call for the following day, 7 March, a joint emergency meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Council of Ministers and the USSR Supreme Soviet. In these circumstances the revisionist conspirators lost their nerve and judged it expedient to postpone their planned coup and refrain from opposing the election of Beria as the Minister in charge of state security, an appointment which obviously had majority support among the leadership:
“Beria immediately proposed Malenkov for Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Premier — Ed.). On the spot, Malenkov proposed that Beria be appointed first deputy. He also proposed the merger of the Ministries of State Security and Internal Affairs into a single Ministry of Internal Affairs, with Beria as Minister. . . . I was silent. . . . Bulganin was silent too. I could see what the attitude of the others was. If Bulganin and I objected . . ., we would have been accused of starting a fight in the Party before the corpse was cold.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1961): p. 324).
The Exculpation of the Doctors (1953)
After the death of Stalin, the most urgent and immediate task which faced the revisionist conspirators was to exculpate the doctors — not, of course, because they were innocent but, on the contrary, because they were guilty and because further investigation into the case could well lead to the exposure of the highly-placed ring-leaders of the conspiracy.
As we have said, in order to confuse the Marxist-Leninists and the Soviet public as to the real motives behind a move to exculpate the doctors, this move was taken as part of a blanket action to “correct miscarriages of justice.” In other words, the “doctors’ case” was linked to the 1951-52 Georgian feint, which they themselves had engineered, and this latter genuine miscarriage of justice was now temporarily corrected at the same time as the doctors were exculpated. As further camouflage, the revisionist conspirators temporarily supported moves demanded by, and strengthening the position of, the Marxist-Leninists — notably, the dismissal of the Russian chauvinist Leonid Melnikov* as First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party.
The decision to exculpate the doctors was taken in March 1953, only days after Stalin’s death, since the name of one of the accused doctors (Boris Preobrazhensky) reappeared in the issue of the journal ‘Vestnik Oto-Rino-Laringology’ which was published on 31 March. (R. Conquest (1961): p. 206).
On 3 April 1953, the Soviet press carried a sensational communique issued in the name of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs which announced the exculpation and release from custody of the arrested doctors:
“The USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs has carried out a thorough investigation of all preliminary investigation data and other material in the case of the group of doctors accused of sabotage, espionage and terrorist acts against active leaders of the Soviet state.
The verification has established that the accused in this case . . .
were arrested by the former Ministry of State Security incorrectly and
without any lawful basis. . . .
The . . . accused in this case have been completely exonerated of the accusations against them….. . and have been freed from imprisonment.”
(Communique of USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 3 April 1953; p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 5 , No. 10 (18 April 1953); p. 3).
The communique went on to explain away the confessions of the accused doctors by implying that they had been procured by means of torture:
“The testimony of the arrested, allegedly confirming the accusations against them, was obtained by the officials of the investigatory department of the former Ministry of State Security through the use of impermissible means of investigation which are strictly forbidden under Soviet law. . . .
The persons accused of incorrect conduct of the investigation have been arrested and held criminally responsible.”
(Communique of USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, in: ibid.; p. 3).
On the same day, the press reported that
” . . . the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet has resolved to annul the decree of January 20, 1953, awarding Dr. Lydia Timashuk the Order of Lenin. The award has been declared invalid in connection with fresh evidence that has since come to light.”
(Decision of Presidium of USSR Supreme Soviet, in: Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 188).
Dr. Timashuk was not, however, prosecuted for attempting to pervert the course of justice, and
” . . . shortly after the April events, she resumed work at the Kremlin Hospital. . . . She reappeared in her office, apparently unperturbed.”
(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 191-92).
The Reversal of the Georgian Feint (1953)
As we have seen, in the government reorganisation of 7 March which followed the death of Stalin, the Marxist-Leninists temporarily regained control of the state security forces:
“On the morrow of the death (of Stalin — Ed.) . . ., Beria reclaimed control of the organs of state security, which had gradually been wrested from his hand during Stalin’s last years.”
(A. B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 540).
As part of the strategy of attempting to deceive the Marxist-Leninists and the Soviet public as to the real aims of the revisionist conspirators, the Marxist-Leninists were permitted to bring about the removal of the revisionists from the leading positions they had acquired in Georgia in the feint of 1951-52, that is, temporarily to reverse the feint.
“In April 1953, Beria carried out a counter-purge in Georgia.”
(H. Fairbanks, junior: op. cit.; p. 163).
On 14 April 1953 the Georgian Central Committee dismissed Akaki Mgeladze as First Secretary, and Mgeladze admitted that the charges of ‘nationalist deviation’ which he had levelled against the former Marxist-Leninist leaders had been fabricated:
“Beria now moved with speed. . . . A plenary session of the Georgian Communist Party was held on 14 April 1953, which dismissed the Party Secretariat headed by A. L. Mgeladze and established a new one under an official named Mirtskhulava. Beria’s old protege Valerian Bakradze, whom Mgeladze had dismissed from government office, now became Prime Minister of the Georgian Republic. Several prominent supporters of Beria whom Mgeladze and his faction had imprisoned, were released and given portfolios in the Bakradze administration. The ousted First Secretary, Mgeladze, made an abject confession, declaring that charges of nationalist deviation which he had levelled against high-ranking Georgian Bolsheviks were based on false evidence. . . . N. Rukhadze, Georgian Minister of State Security, who had aided and abetted Mgeladze, was imprisoned.”
(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 263).
On 15 April:
” . . . the Chief Minister of the Georgian Soviet Republic (M. Valerian Bakradze) announced . . . that the Georgian Minister of State Security (M. Rukhadze) and two former secretaries-general of the Georgian Communist Party (MM. Mgeladze and Charkviani) had been dismissed from their posts, arrested and would be ‘severely punished’ for fabricating ‘trumped up’ charges against former leading members of the Georgian Government and Communist Party. . . . At the same time he announced that three former Ministers who had been dismissed at Rukhadze’s instigation would be immediately restored to their former posts; that the Ministries of Internal Security and State Security would be welded into a single Ministry; and that this Ministry would be headed by M. Vladimir Dekanozov. . . .
M. Bakradze, who was addressing a meeting of the Georgian Supreme Soviet, said that . . . a number of innocent persons had fallen victim to baseless charges of ‘bourgeois nationalism.”‘
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,029).
On 16 April “Zarya Vostoka” reported a speech by Bakradze in which he said:
“‘It has now been fully established by the organs concerned that . . . the enemy of the people and Party, former Minister of State Security N. M. Rukhadze, had cooked up an entirely false and provocative affair concerning a non-existent nationalism whose victims were eminent workers of our republic. . . . Rukhadze and his accomplices have been arrested and will be severely punished.”‘
(‘Zarya Vostoka’, 16 April 1953, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 145).
On 21 April Vilian Zodelava, released from prison, was made First Deputy Prime Minister and elected to the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Georgian Party:
“Mr. Zodelava was one of three leading Georgian Party members who had been jailed on false charges declared to have been concocted by Mr. Rukhadze. . .
Released from jail, he has been made First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers (First Deputy Premier –Ed.) and has been elected to the Bureau of the Georgian Communist Party’s Central Committee.”
(‘New York Times’, 22 April 1953; p. 14).
On this date, “Zarya Vostoka” reported that:
“…a plenary session of the Central Committee in Georgia was announced . . . as having established that ‘the former secretary of the Central Committee, Mgeladze, took an active part in the arrest of completely innocent workers in the creation of a provocational case concerning non-existent nationalism fabricated by the enemy of the Party and the people, Rukhadze. . . . Mgeladze admitted that he was one of the instigators of ‘a stupid and provocational story’ about the existence in Georgia of a nationalist group.”
(‘Zarya Vostoka’, 21 April 1953, cited in: R. Conquest (1961); p. 145).
By 13 May the plot of revisionist conspirators to link the coup carried out by Nikolay Rukhadze in Georgia in 1951-52 with the false charges against Mikhail Ryumin in connection with the ‘doctors’ case’ had been consolidated, On that day, the newspaper “Zarya Vostoka”
” . . . declared that the Georgian case had been fabricated by Rukhadze and Ryumin. The latter, a former chief of the Investigatory Division of the former Ministry of State Security, was charged in an announcement of the new Ministry of Internal Affairs. . . .
The Georgian case . . . was in the statement of ‘Zarya Vostoka’ an Vanalogous case’ (to that of the doctors – Ed.) and was falsely fabricated by Ruhhadze.”
(‘New York Times’, 14 May 1953; p. 14).
The Dismissal of Leonid Melnikov (1953)
As the third facet of their plot to deceive the Marxist-Leninists and the Soviet public as to their real aims, the concealed revisionists supported the dismissal (announced on 13 June 1953) of the revisionist First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, Leonid Melnikov, who had been the target of severe criticism by the Marxist-Leninists and the Ukrainian people for his notorious Russification policies in the Ukraine:
“In June 1953, after Stalin’s death, the Russification policy in the Western Ukrainian provinces underwent a reversal. On June 13, the Kremlin disclosed that Leonid G. Melnikov, at the time First Secretary of the Ukrainian Party, had been ousted from that position for ‘having permitted distortions in the Leninist-Stalinist national policy’. The charges against Melnikov were . . . an indictment of Khrushchev who, in the course of his twelve-year rule in the Ukraine, had vigorously put this policy into practice. Melnikov had worked under Khrushchev in 1939-40 and from 1944 to 1949 and carried out the . . . Russification policy as efficiently as his boss.”
(L. Pistrak: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961; p. 185).
“L. G. Melnikov was relieved of his post as First Secretary of the (Ukrainian — Ed.) Central Committee as responsible for the Russification policy in the Ukraine.”
(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 216-17).
The Military Coup in Moscow (1953)
But by the end of June 1953, it had become clear that the efforts to convince the Marxist-Leninists that the exculpation of the doctors had been justified had only been temporarily successful. Headed by Beria, the security forces, under Marxist-Leninist control since the readjustment of portfolios after Stalin’s death, were continuing to inestigate the “doctors’ case.”
Clearly, if the revisionist conspirators were to feel safe, Beria and his Marxist-Leninist colleagues in the security forces had to be eliminated as a matter of urgency.
On 10 July 1953, a few days after Beria had been arrested, a leading article in ‘Pravda’ revealed the real reason for that arrest — a reason not disclosed in the report of his “trial” — namely, that he had “deliberately impeded” and “tried to distort” instructions of the Central Committee and the Soviet government designed to clear up “certain illegal and abritary actions” — an obvious reference to the “doctors’ case”:
“Having been charged with carrying out ‘the Instructions of the Party Central Committee and the Soviet Government with a view . . . to clearing up certain illegal and arbitrary actions, Beria deliberately impeded the implementation of these instructions and, in a number of cases, tried to distort them.”
(‘Pravda’, 10 July 1953, in: B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 147).
Over several days at the end of June 1953, the revisionist conspirators approached other leading members of the Politburo with the baseless story that Beria was an agent of foreign imperialist powers and was plotting a coup against the Party leadership. Khrushchev has described how he based his allegation on unsubstantiated charges made at a Plenum of the Central Committee in February 1937 by the revisionist Grigory Kaminsky* that Beria had been an agent of the counter-revolutionary Mussavat Party —
“a nationalist party of the bourgeoisie and landlords in Azerbaijan, formed in 1912. . . . supported by the Turkish and later by the British interventionists.”
(Note to: J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p.417).
“In 1937, at a Central Committee Plenum, former People’s Commissar of Health Protection, Kaminsky, said that Beria worked for the Mussavat intelligence service.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 65).
“I could easily believe that he (Beria – Ed.) had been an agent of the Mussavatists, as Kaminsky had said, but Kaminsky’s charges had never been verified. . . . We had only our intuition to go on.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 333).
But he alleges that he enrolled Georgy Malenkov* and Vyacheslav Molotov* into a plot to “detain Beria for investigation”:
“I took Malenkov aside and said: . . . ‘Surely you must see that Beria’s position has an anti-Party character. We must not accept what he is doing. . . ‘Malenkov finally agreed. I was surprised and delighted. . . .Comrade Malenkov and I then agreed that I should talk to Comrade Molotov. . . . I told Molotov what sort of person Beria was and what kind of danger threatened the Party if we didn’t thwart his scheming against the Party leadership. I had earlier told him how Beria had already set his plan in motion for aggravating nationalist tensions in the Republics. . . .I said: . . . ‘You think, maybe, that we should detain him for investigation? I said ‘detain’ rather than ‘arrest’ because there were still no criminal charges against Beria. . . . Molotov and I agreed and parted.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 330, 331, 332, 333).
He later describes how he succeeded in winning over Lazar Kaganovich*:
“I said that Malenkov, Bulganin, Saburov and I were of one mind and that without him we had a majority. Kaganovich declared right away: I’m with you too.”‘
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 334).
But because the security forces were under the control of the Marxist-Leninists, these could not be relied upon to carry out the task of eliminating Beria and his colleagues. The conspirators therefore decided that the coup had to be carried out by the army:
“The Presidium bodyguard was obedient to him (Beria –Ed.). Therefore we decided to enlist the help of the military.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 335-36).
“The army took part in Beria’s arrest.”
(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 58).
Khrushchev describes how the conspirators entrusted the execution of the military coup to a group of revisionist officers which included Kirill Moskalenko* and Georgy Zhukov*:
“First, we entrusted the detention of Beria to Comrade Moskalenko, the air defence commander, and five generals. This was my idea. Then, on the eve of the session, Malenkov widened our circle to include Marshal Zhukov and some others. That meant eleven marshals and generals in all. In those days all military personnel were required to check their weapons when coming into the Kremlin, so Comrade Bulganin was instructed to see that the generals were allowed to bring their guns with them. We arranged for Moskalenko’s group to wait for a summons in a separate room while the session was taking place. When Malenkov gave a signal, they were to come into the room where we were meeting and take Beria into custody.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 335-36).
The coup was fixed to take place during a joint meeting of the Presidium of the Party Central Committee and of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers on 24 June 1953. At this meeting Khrushchev reminded those present — including the gullible Marxist-Leninists – of the charges made by Kaminsky in 1937:
“I recalled the Central Committee Plenum of February 1937 at which Comrade Grisha Kaminsky had accused Beria of having worked for the Mussavatist counter-intelligence service, and therefore for the English intelligence service, when he was Secretary of the Baku Party organisation.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 339).
Finally, Khrushchev himself moved that Beria should be dismissed from all his posts:
“After the final speech, the session was left hanging. There was a long pause. I saw we were in trouble, so I asked Comrade Malenkov for the floor in order to propose a motion. As we had arranged in advance, I proposed that the Central Committee Presidium should release Beria from his duties. . . . Malenkov was still in a state of panic. As I recall, he didn’t even put my motion to a vote. He pressed a secret button which gave the signal to the generals who were waiting in the next room. Zhukov was the first to appear. Then Moskalenko and the others came in. Malenkov said in a faint voice to Comrade Zhukov: ‘As Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, I request that you take Beria into custody pending investigation of charges made against him’.
‘Hands up!’, Zhukov commanded Beria.
Moskalenko and the others unbuckled their holsters in case Beria tried anything. . . . We checked later and found that he had no gun. . . .
Beria was immediately put under armed guard in the Council of Ministers building next to Malenkov’s office confinement.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 337-38).
Strobe Talbott*, the editor of Khrushchev’s memoirs, points out that:
“Khrushchev’s implicit claim to have been the leading spirit in the plot against Beria is no doubt broadly true.”
(S. Talbott: Note to: N. S. Khrushchev (1071): p. 321).
The dismissal of Beria from his state posts was confirmed by the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet on 26 June. Beria was replaced as Minister of Internal Affairs, by the concealed revisionist Sergey Kruglov, who had held the post prior to the government reorganisation following Stalin’s death. (‘Pravda’, 17 December 1953, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 440).
Before the dismissal was made public, the revisionist conspirators took every precaution to prevent any opposition from those astute enough to see what it portended:
“On the night of June 26 1953, Red Army tanks of the Kantemirovskaya Division rolled into Moscow and took up much the same positions as . . . in March. And the tanks were supported by infantry from the Byelorussian military district.”
(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 332).
On 10 July 1953, it was officially announced
“…that Mr. Lavrenty Beria, First Vice-Chairman and Minister of Internal Affairs, had been expelled from the Communist Party and removed from his Ministerial posts as an ‘enemy of the people.”‘
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,029).
Three years later, in his secret speech of February 1956, Khrushchev was to tell the 20th Congress of the CPSU that:
” . . . Stalin originated the concept ‘enemy of the people’. . . . This term made possible the usage of the most cruel repression, violating all norms of revolutionary legality.”
(N. S. Khruschchev (1956): p. 12).
In the first few weeks of July several other prominent Marxist-Leninists connected with the state security service, were arrested, or as Lang expresses it:
“Beria fell, dragging down with him many high officials . . . whose familiarity with secrets of state made their survival dangerous to the victors.”
(A.M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 264).
Those arrested with Beria included Vladimir Dekanozov*, Vsevolod Merkulov, Bogdan Kobulov, Sergey Goglidze, Pavel Meshik and Lev Vlodzirmirsky all of whom were Marxist-Leninists having close connection with the state security forces.
To sum up, the revisionist conspirators were able to
“. . . to unite the leaders in a conspiracy in which, with the help of the army, . . . they succeeded in getting rid of him (Beria — Ed.) once and for all.”
(R. Carre’re d’Encausse: ‘Stalin: Order through Terror’; Harlow; 1981; p. 193).
The Military Coup in Georgia (1953-54)
On 14 July 1953, shortly after Beria’s “arrest” on 26 June, the revisionist conspirators moved to carry out a military coup in Georgia in order to reverse the changes made in April 1953 and restore the situation which existed there prior to this date – the situation of revisionist domination brought about by the feint of 1951-52. The leaders of the coup, which was carried out at a joint meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia and of the Tiflis City Committee, were two military officers — General Aleksei Antonov* and Major-General Pavel Efimov:
“A. I. Antonov, General of the Army, Commander of the Transcaucasus Military District and, reputedly, a friend of Zhukov’s . . . . acted soon after the news of Beria’s arrest was announced from Moscow. He attended a joint plenary session of the Georgian Central and Tiflis Party Committees with a fellow-officer, Major-General P. I. Efimov. The latter . . . was then elected to the Central Committee Bureau. Other army officers then took over important posts in the government and Party apparatus.”
(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 58).
In the new political situation, Valerian Bakradze and some other Georgian leaders attempted to save their position by jumping on the revisionist bandwagon. “Zarya Vostoka” of 15 July 1953 reports a speech by Bakradze at the meeting already referred to, in which
“. . . he now, of course, condemns Beria.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 146).
As the “New York Times” commented:
“When Mr. Beria was purged last July, it appeared that Messrs. Bakradze and Mirtakhulava had attempted to jump from the Beria . . . . wagon.
Both of them assailed Mr. Beria at meetings held in the Georgian capital and also at the meeting of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in Moscow last August.”
(‘New York Times’, 23 September 1953; p. 16).
On 15 July, Tiflis Radio referred to Mgeladze, Rapava, Rukhadze and Shoniya as
” . . . accomplices of Beria.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 146).
“M. Bakradze . . . coupled Beria’s name with those of Rukhadze, Mgeladze and Charkviani as ‘traitors to the Party.”‘
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,030).
At the Georgian Central Committee meeting on 14 July, the Marxist-Leninist Vladimir Dekanozov was dismissed as Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs and expelled from the Party:
“First the police, or former police, adherents of Beria were removed at high speed.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 146).
“On July 15 . . ., after the announcement of Beria’s arrest, a broadcast from Tiflis announced that M. Dekanozov had been dismissed from the Georgian Government and the Communist Party for collaboration with ‘the traitor Beria.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,029-30).
“The main action taken (at the CC meeting — Ed.) was the expulsion of Dekanozov . . . from the Party.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p.146)
“arrested immediately after.”
(R.Conquest 1961;. p. 151)
Reporting these events, the “New York Times” forecast that:
“. . . thousands of Georgian Communists face the prospect of being purged as Beria followers.”
(‘New York Times’, 16 July 1953; p. 8).
Aleksei Inauri, another revisionist army officer, was appointed Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs in succession to Dekanozov:
“A. I. Inauri has been named Minister of Internal Affairs for Georgia to succeed Vladimir Dekanozov. . . .Mr. Inauri is a newcomer to high office in Georgia.”
(‘New York Times’, 3 August 1953; p. 6).
The attempt of Bakradze and others to save their positions by transferring their allegiance to the revisionists failed. On 20 September 1953 a Plenum of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party, presided over by Secretary of the USSR Central Committee Nikolay Shatalin from Moscow, removed Bakradze as Georgian Premier and Mirtskhulava as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party:
“Premier Valerian M. Bakradze, who had headed the government since last April, was dismissed in disgrace and G. D. Dzhavakhishvili . . . was named in his place.”
(‘New York Times’, 23 September 1953; p. 1).
and a new First Secretary was elected in the shape of another army officer -Vasily Mzhavanadze*:
“The post of First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party was filled in September 1953 by the election of a new man — Mr. Vasily P. Mzhavanadze, a former Lieutenant-General in the Red Army.”
(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 264).
Ducoli points out the importance of the military in the new Georgian leadership:
“Three representatives of the army were found in the Bureau (of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party — Ed.): First Secretary Mzhavanadze, MVD head Inauri, and Commander of the Transcaucausian Military District Antonov.”
(J. Ducoli: op. cit,; p. 59).
On 25 September 1953 (five days after the dismissal of Bakradze):
“. . . it was announced that three more Georgian Ministers had been dismissed – M. Baramiya (Minister of Agriculture and Procurement), M. Chaureli (Minister of Culture), and M. Tsukulidze (Minister of Education). . . . (M. Baramiya had been dismissed in April 1952 from the post of Second Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, having been accused of ‘bourgeois nationalism’ and ‘ideological deviation’, but had been reinstated in the Government a year later with Beria’s support).”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9: p. 13,468).
In the following month (October 1953) a new Georgian Prime Minister was elected — the revisionist engineer and geologist Givi Djavakhishvili*:
“On 29 October 1953, a forty-one-year-old engineer and geologist, Mr. Givi D. Djavakhishvili, was elected Prime Minister of the Georgian Republic.”
(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 264).
and on 17 January 1954 a broadcast from Tiflis
“. . announced that M. Vilian Zodelava had been dismissed from the post of First Deputy Premier of the Georgian Soviet Republic.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,468).
Conquest notes that:
” . . . none of the Beria nominees (of the Marxist-Leninists — Ed.) has reappeared in office.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 147).
The ‘Mingrelian Affair’ (1953)
In Soviet revisionist mythology, the Georgian events of April 1953 have become known as the “Mingrelian Affair.” Mingrelia is that part of Georgia which borders upon the Black Sea, and the name has been apparently coined because the leading individuals involved in it came from Mingrelia:
“It seems plain that the ‘Mingrelian’ conspiracy refers not to this rather small area, but to a group of Mingrelians powerful in Georgia as a whole. . . . Baramiya, Rapava, Shoniya and Zodelava . . . were all Mingrelians, as was Beria himself.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 140).
In describing the “Mingrelian Affair” of April 1953 to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956 as an instance of miscarriage of justice, Nikita Khrushchev confuses it, no doubt deliberately, with the feint attack of 1953, which was engineered by Khrushchev and his fellow revisionist conspirators and was exposed and corrected by the Marxist-Leninists in April 1953. He states that the (1951-52) affair related to false charges of ‘nationalism’ levelled against Georgian Party leaders, but repeats the false allegation made at the time that these charges were initiated by Stalin:
“Instructive . . . is the case of the Mingrelian nationalist organisations which supposedly existed in Georgia. As is known, resolutions by the Central Committee Communist Party of the Soviet Union were made concerning this case in November 1951 and in March 1952.
Stalin had personally dictated them. They made serious accusations against many loyal Communists. On the basis of falsified documents it was proven that there existed in Georgia a supposedly nationalistic organisation, whose objective was the liquidation of the Soviet power in that Republic with the help of imperialist powers.
In this connection a number of responsible Party and Soviet workers were arrested in Georgia. As was later proven, this was a slander directed against the Georgian Party Organisation.
We know that there have been at times manifestations of local bourgeois nationalism in Georgia, as in several other republics. . . .
As it developed, there was no nationalistic organisation in Georgia.
Thousands of innocent people fell victim of wilfulness and lawlessness.
All of this happened under the ‘genial’ leadership of Stalin, ‘the great son of the Georgian nation’, as Georgians liked to refer to Stalin.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1961): p. 60, 61-62).
The “Trial” of Beria (1953)
The “trial” of Lavrenti Beria and six of his fellow-Marxist-Leninists who had been associated with the security forces took place in the USSR Supreme Court on 18-23 December 1953. Those tried with Beria were:
Vladimir Dekanozov, recently Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs;
Sergey Goglidze, former Georgian People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs, and recently an official of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs;
Bogdan Kobulov, former Georgian Deputy Commissar of Internal Affairs;
Vsevolod Merkulov, former USSR Minister of State Security, recently USSR Minister of State Control;
Pavel Meshik, formerly an official of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, recently Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs; and
Lev Vlodzimirsky, former Head of the Section of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs for Investigating Specially Important Cases.
The Presiding Judge at the “trial” was Marshal Ivan Konev, on whose appointment the “New York Times” commented:
“Marshal Ivan Konev’s role as chairman of the tribunal . . . appears to be the clearest indication to date of the greatly enhanced political power now apparently wielded by the highest Soviet military leaders.”
(‘New York Times’, 24 December 1953; p. 1).
and noted a year later:
“Three of the four top judges who tried and sentenced Beria were army men.”
(‘New York Times’, 25 December 1954; p. 3).
Furthermore, a new State Prosecutor was specially appointed by the revisionist conspirators — the Ukrainian revisionist jurist Roman Rudenko*:
“We had no confidence in . . . the State Prosecutor . . .so we sacked him and replaced him with Comrade Rudenko.”
(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p 339).
It was alleged that Beria:
“. . . in 1919 . . . committed treason by accepting the position of Secret Agent in the Intelligence Service of the counter-revolutionary Mussavat Government in Azerbaijan, which operated under the control of British Intelligence organs.”
(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ‘Pravda’, 24 December 1953, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 445).
All the defendants were charged that they
” . . . using their official positions in the organs of the NKVD/MGB/MVD, committed a number of the most serious crimes for the purpose of exterminating honourable cadres.”
(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ibid,; p. 446).
“. . betraying the Motherland and operating in the interests of foreign capital . . . in order to seize power . . . . restore capitalism and the domination of the bourgeoisie”,
(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ibid.; p. 444-45).
and with waging
“a criminal struggle of intrigue against . . . Sergo Ordzhonikidze.”
(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ibid.; p. 442).
The Ordzhonikidze case was discussed in an earlier section.
All the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death by shooting, the sentence being carried out on 23 December 1953.
It was stated that all the accused had
“. . . pleaded guilty”,
(Report of Trial of Beria, in: ibid.; p. 446).
but we have only the conspirators word for this, since
“the trial was closed to the public.”
(‘New York Times’, 24 December 1953; p. 1).
Nicolaevsky, indeed, insists that
“. . . Beria was tried behind closed doors without any confessions.”‘
(Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 120).
and the Albanian leader, the Marxist-Leninist Enver Hoxha, affirms that a Soviet military adviser to Albania informed the Albanians that he had been a witness at Beria’s “trial” and that Beria, far from “confessing” had defended himself very strongly in court and refuted all the charges:
“When a general, who I believe was called Sergatskov, came to Tirana as Soviet military adviser, he also told us something about the trial of Beria. He told us that he had been called as a witness to declare in court that Beria had allegedly behaved arrogantly towards him. On this occasion Sergatskov told our comrades in confidence: ‘Beria defended himself very strongly in court, accepted none of the asccusations and refuted them all.”
(E.Hoxha (1984): p, 31).
Many Western commentators accept that the charges against Beria and his co-defendants were a mere pretext for their judicial murder. Even Stalin’s daughter Svetlana, who disliked Beria and was inclined to believe any story detrimental to him, testifies that:
“Beria’s ‘trial’ was staged . . . without any evidence.”
(S. Alliluyeva (1969): p. 375).
On the allegations that Beria was a “foreign agent,” Nicolaevsky points out that:
” – – not the slightest shred of evidence has even been offered.”
(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; P. 145).
While Lang ridicules the charges that Beria and his Leninists were guilty of “attempting to restore capitalism”:
“These persons and others put to to death with them were accused of conspiring with Beria to liquidate the Soviet workers’ and peasants regime with the aim of restoring capitalism and the power of the bourgeoisie. These charges can hardly be taken seriously.”
(D.M.Lang: op.cit.,; p.264).
The Re-emergence of Melnikov (1953-57)
After the “arrest” of Beria in July 1953, the concealed revisionists felt it safe to “rehabilitate” their colleague Leonid Melnikov:
“Melnikov subsequently re-emerged and rose again. A few weeks after Beria’s fall, Melnikov was appointed Soviet Ambassador to Romania; in April 1955 . . . he was recalled to Moscow and appointed Minister of Construction of Coal Industry Enterprises, and in June 1957 was identified as Chairman of the State Planning Commission and First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers (First Deputy Premier — Ed.) of the Kazakh SSR. Thus Khrushchev moved a notorious Russifier of the Ukraine to a Muslim Republic to replace a prominent local leader.”
(L. Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 185).
The Trial of Abakumov (1954)
On 14-17 December 1954, the Marxist-Leninist former Minister of State Security, Viktor Abakumov, was tried in Leningrad before the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court, presided over by Lieutenant-Colonel E. L. Zeidin. Along with Abakumov, as co-defendants, appeared:
A.G. Leonov, former director of the MGB Investigating Division for Especially Important Cases;
V. I. Komarov and M. T. Likhachev, former Deputy Chairmen of the Investigating Division for Especially Important Cases;
I. A. Chernov and I. M. Broverman, former members of the USSR Ministry of State Security.
The defendants were charged with:
” . . . committing the same crimes as Beria.”
(‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 24 December 1954, p. 2, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 6, No. 49 (19 January 1955); p. 12).
while Abakumov was in particular charged with having:
“. . . fabricated the so-called ‘Leningrad case’, in which many Party and Soviet officials were arrested without grounds and falsely accused of very grave state crimes.”
(‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, in: ibid.; p. 12).
All the accused were found guilty. Chernov was sentenced to 15 years in a labour camp, Broverman to 25 years in a labour camp, while Abakumov, Leonov, Komarov and Likachev were sentenced to death by shooting.
The “Trial” of Ryumin (1954)
As has been said, the Minister of State Security officially responsible for the investigation of the ‘Doctors’ Case’ was Semyon Ignatiev, while Mikhail Ryumin was merely his deputy.
But Ignatiev was a member of the revisionist conspiracy, and so took part in the investigation only reluctantly, while Ryumin was a Marxist-Leninist. In consequence, their fate at the hands of the conspirators was very different.
Ryumin was arrested on 5 April 1953, two days after the doctors had been exculpated. (‘Pravda’, 6 April 1953; p. 1).
As Georges Bortoli comments:
“It was convenient to make him rather than the former Minister Ignatiev shoulder the heaviest responsibility for the affair. Ignatiev was loyal to Khrushchev and Khrushchev defended him tooth and nail.”
(G. Bortoli: op. cit.; p. 186-87).
Nevertheless, it was not until July 1954 — fifteen months after his arrest — that Ryumin came to trial:
“The fact that Ryumin was not tried until fifteen months after his arrest shows that he must have had his defenders. They must have been very influential defenders at that. . . .
A real struggle over the Ryumin case was fought at the June (1954 Ed.) Plenum , and it was there that his execution was decided upon.”
(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 154-55, 156).
Ryumin’s trial lasted six days – from 2 to 7 July 1953:
“On July 2-7 1954, the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR examined at a court session the case of M. D. Ryumin.”
(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954, in: R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 447).
and the report of the proceedings made it clear that he was charged with “fabricating” the “Doctors’ Case”:
“Ryumin, during the period of his work in the post of Senior Investigator and than as Head of the Section for Investigating Specially Important Cases of the former Ministry of State Security, . . . engaged . . . on the path of forging investigative materials, on the basis of which Provocative cases were engineered and unjustified arrests were carried out of a number of Soviet citizens, including prominent medical workers.”
(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954. in: ibid.; p. 447).
Somewhat oddly, however, this was defined as
“. . . a crime envisaged by Article 58-7 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR.”
(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954, in: ibid.; p. 447).
But Article 58, Para. 7, of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR relates to economic sabotage!
“Article 58, Para. 7, is . . . irrelevant to Ryumin’s activity in connection with the arrest of the doctors. . . . It cannot possibly be applied to Ryumin’s role in the doctors’ plot.”
(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 149).
Nicolaevsky points out in explanation that falsification of evidence is punishable under the Criminal Code by only up to five years deprivation of liberty, while “economic sabotage” carries the death penalty. (B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 149).
” . . . sentenced Ryumin to the supreme penalty — death by shooting. The sentence has been carried out.”
(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 448).
Adam Ulam sums up this course of events as follows:
“After a secret trial in July 1954, Ryumin was shot.”
(A. B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 736).
The fate of Ignatiev, the Minister, was very different. He was merely criticised for
” . . . political blindness and negligence.”
(‘Pravda’, 6 April 1953, in: Y. Rapoport: op. cit. .; p. 189-90).
and, as Conquest expresses it,
“. . . was only demoted”,
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 208).
On 7 April (two days after Ryumin’s arrest) it was announced that Ignatiev had been
“. . . . . released from the duties of a Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU.”
(‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 7 April 1953; p. 12, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 5, No. 11 (25 April 1953); p. 4).
This treatment was because, as a participant in the revisionist conspiracy,
“Ignatiev . . . came under Khushchev’s protection.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 181).
Thus, Ignatiev’s ‘disgrace’ was very temporary. A few months later, in February 1954, Ignatiev
” . . . was appointed First Party Secretary in the Bashkir ASSR.”
(S. Wolin & R. M. Slusser: op. cit.; p. 56).
“Khrushchev . . . took Ignatiev under his wing and gave him an important post in the Party apparatus, albeit in the provinces.”
(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 128).
“Ignatiev was appointed First Secretary of the Bashkir Autonomous Republic. Thus, under the Khrushchev regime, another Muslim republic came under the rule of a Great-Russian whose career had not exactly mirrored sympathy for other nationalities and races.”
(L. Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 187).
The “Rehabilitation” of Anna Louise Strong (1955)
On 14 February 1949
” . . . ‘the notorious intelligence agent, the American journalist Anna Louisa Strong . . . was arrested. . . .Mrs. Strong is accused of espionage and subversive activity directed against the Soviet Union. It is reported that she would be deported in a few days.”
(‘New York Times’, 15 February 1949; p. 1).
When, in 1955, the Soviet revisionists decided to seek a rapprochement with the United States, Beria and Abakumov were used as scapegoats for Strong’s 1949 deportation, the evidence for which they were said to have “fabricated”:
On 4 March 1955
“. . . Anna Louise Strong . . . was formally absolved of the charges that she had spied on the Soviet Union. . .Lavrenti P. Beria . . . and Viktor S. Abakumov . . . were blamed for the false arrest of Miss Strong.”
(‘New York Times’, 5 March 1955; p. 1).
The ‘Rehabilitation’ of Tito (1955)
Similarly, when the Soviet revisionists decided to annul the denunciation of Yugoslav revisionism made in 1948-49 by the Marxist-Leninist Communist Information Bureau, Khrushchev visited Belgrade for this purpose in May 1955:
“He not only apologised for past ‘aggravations’, he attributed them to the ‘fabrication’ of Lavrenty Beria and Viktor Abakumov.”
(‘New York Times’, 27 May 1955; p. 1).
The Rapava-Rukhadze Trial (1955)
In September 1955 the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court, sitting in Tiflis and presided over by Lieutenant-General Chertkev, tried Avksenty Rapava (formerly Georgian People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs), Nikolay Rukhadze (formerly Minister of State Security), and six other defendants formerly connected with the Georgian security forces. They were charged with
” . . . high treason, terroristic acts and participation in counter-revolutionary organisations.”
(Radio Tiflis, 22 November 1955, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 450).
Rukhadze, of course, had become a victim of the manoeuvres to reverse the Georgian feint of 1951-52 associated with the exculpation of the terrorist doctors, and was sacrificed to those manoevres.
Accused of being “accomplices of Beria,” among the crimes with which the defendants were charged was that of taking an active part
“. . . in the struggle of intrigue which Beria had over a number of years been carrying on against Sergo Ordzhonikidze, the prominent statesman.”
(Radio Tiflis, 22 November 1955, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 450).
and of committing
“. . . terroristic acts of violence against Mamia Orakhelashvili, former Secretary of the Transcaucasian Party Regional Committee, and his wife, Mariam Orakhelashvili, former People’s Commissar of Education of the Georgian SSR.”
(Radio Tiflis, 22 November 1955, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 450).
“The Rapava-Rukhadze trial in September 1955 again mentioned Ordzhonikidze, and also rehabilitated a number of Georgians headed by Orakhelashvili, who had been shot in the Yenukidze-Karakhan case of December 16, 1937.”
(R. Conquest (1961): p. 274).
The cases of Ordzhonikidze, the Orakhelashvilis, Yenukidze and Karakhan have been discussed in an earlier section.
One of the accused was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment, one to twenty-five years’ imprisonment, and the rest — including Rapava and Rukhadze — to death by shooting.
The Trial of Bagirov (1956)
In July 1953, after the ‘arrest’ of Beria, Mir Bagirov*, the Marxist-Leninist Secretary of the Central Committee of the Commnunist Party of Azerbaijan, was removed from his post and, shortly afterwards, arrested.
On 12-26 April 1956 Bagirov and five alleged “accomplices” were tried by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court, sitting in Baku and presided over by Lieutenant-General A. A. Cheptsov for:
“high treason, the commission of acts of terrorism, and participation in a counter-revolutionary organisation.”
(‘Bakinsky Rabochy’, 27 May 1956, p. 2, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 8, No. 21 (4 July 1956), p. 12).
Among other charges, it was alleged that
“. . . Bagirov and the other defendants were active in the intrigues that Beria and his accomplices conducted against Sergo Ordzhonikidze.”
(‘Bakinsky Rabochy’, 27 May 1956; p. 2, in: ibid.; p. 12).
The Ordzhonikidze case has been discussed in an earlier section.
The accused were all found guilty. Two of the defendants were sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment, while three (including Bagirov) were sentenced to death by shooting.
The Bagirov “trial” was the last in the series of judicial murders of Marxist-Leninist leaders of the security forces.
*ABAKUMOV, Viktor S., Soviet Marxist-Leninist security official and politician (1894-1954); head of counter-espionage organisation SMERSH (1942-45); Minister of State Security (1946-52); executed by revisionists (1954).
*ALLILUYEVA, Svetlana S., Stalin’s daughter. (1926- )
*ANTONOV, Aleksey I., Soviet revisionist military officer (1895-l962); Commander, Transcaucasia Military District (1949-54); 1st. Deputy Chief of Staff, and Chief of Staff, Warsaw Pact (1955-62).
*BAGIROV, Mir D, A., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1956); 1st Secretary, Azerbaijan (1933-53); executed by revisionists (1956).
*BERIA, Lavrenty P., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1899-1953); USSR Commissar of Internal Affairs (1938-45); USSR Premier (1941-45); Deputy Chairman, USSR Defence Committee (1941-44); marshal (1945); USSR Minister of Internal Affairs and lst Deputy Premier (April-July 1953); executed by revisionists (1953).
*BIERUT, Boleslaw, Polish Marxist-Leninist politician (1892-1956); President (1947-52); General Secretary, Polish Workers’ Party (1948-54); Premier (1952-54); 1st Secretary, Polish United Workers’ Party (1954-56).
*BORTOLI, Georges, Moroccan-born French journalist and TV producer (1923-).
*BULGANIN, Nikolay A., Soviet revisionist politician (1895-1975); USSR Deputy Premier (1938-41); Minister of Armed Forces (1947); USSR Deputy Premier and Minister of Defence (1953-55); USSR Premier (1955-58).
*CONQUEST, Robert, British-born poet and political analyst specialising in the USSR (1917- ); senior research fellow, Hoover Institute (1977- ).
*DEKANOZOV, Vladimir G., Soviet Marxist-Leninist diplomat and politician (1898-1953); USSR Deputy Commissar of Internal Affairs (1939-41); Ambassador to Germany (1940-41); Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs (1953); executed by revisionists (l953).
*DERIABIN, Peter S., Russian-born American writer (1921- ); former officer in Soviet security forces; defected (1954).
*DEUTSCHER, Isaac, Polish-born British journalist and political analyst (190767).
*DZHAVAKHISHVILI, Givi D., Soviet revisionist geologist and politician (1912); Deputy Premier, Georgia (1953); Premier, Georgia (1953).
*DUCOLI, John, American teacher specialising in Transcaucasia (1922-
*FAIRBANKS, Charles H., junior, American political analyst (1944- ); associate professor of political science, Yale University (1979-81); member, Policy Planning Committee, US Dept. of State (1981- 82); research professor, Johns Hopkins University (1982-85); foreign policy adviser, Reagan Committee for Presidency (1980), Bush Committee for Presidency (1988).
*GOMULKA, Wladyslaw, Polish revisionist politician (1905-82); General Secretary, Polish Workers’ Party (1943-48); imprisoned for nationalism (1943-56); 1st Secretary, Polish United Workers’ Party (1966-70).
*GOTTWALD. Klement, Czechoslovak Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1953); Premier (1946-48); President (1948-53).
*GOVOROV, Leonid A., Soviet revisionist military officer (1897-1955); Marshal (1944); Commander of National Air Defence Forces and USSR Deputy Minister of Armed Forces (1948-54); Commander-in-Chief of Air Defence Forces and USSR Deputy Minister of Defence (1954-55).
*GREY, Ian, New Zealand-born lawyer and historian (1918
*HOXHA, Enver, Albanian Marxist-Leninist leader (1908-85); General/First Secretary, CC, Communist Party of Albania/Party of Labour of Albania (1941-85);Premier and Foreign Minister (1944-54).
*IGNATIEV, Semyon D., Soviet revisionist politician (1908- ); USSR Minister of State Security (1951-53); Secretary, CC (March-April 1953); First Secretary, Bashkiria (1954- ).
*KAGANOVICH, Lazar M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1893-1991); member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); USSR Minister of Building Materials Industry (l946-47); Ist Secretary, Ukraine (1947-53); USSR Deputy Premier (1953-55); USSR Minister of Building Materials Industry (1956-57).
*KAMINSKY, Grigory N., Soviet revisionist politician (1805-1938).
*KONEV, Ivan S, Soviet revisionist military officer -(1897-1973); marshal (1944); C-in-C, Ground Forces, and USSR Deputy Minister of Armed Forces (1946-50); Chief Inspector of Army (1950-51); Commander, Carpathian Military District and Commander-in-Chief, Ground Forces (1951-55); C-in-C, Warsaw Pact Forces and USSR Ist Deputy Minister of Defence (1956-60); Inspector-General at USSR Ministry of Defence (1960-73).
*KRUGLOV, Sergey, Soviet revisionist security official and politician (190777); USSR Minister of Internal Affairs (1946-March 1953, July 1953-56).
*LANG, David M., British historian (1924- ); Professor of Caucasian Studies, University of London (1964-84).
*LAQUEUR, Walter, German-born American journalist, historian and political analyst (1930- ); Director, Institute of Contemporary History (1964- )
Professor of Government, Georgetown University (1977- ); Chairman, International Research Council, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (1973- ).
*LEVCHENKO, Gordey, Soviet revisionist naval officer (1897-1981); admiral (1944); deputy Commissar of Navy and Commander of Baltic Fleet (1944-60); retired (1960).
*LEVTYSKY, Boris, Austrian-born political analyst (1915- ).
*MALENKOV, Georgi M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1902-88); Member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); USSR Premier (1953-55); 1st Secretary, CPSU (1953); USSR Minister of Power Stations (1955-57).
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An analysis of the theories of Regis Debray as propounded in “Revolution in the Revolution?”, and their relevance to the revolutionary struggle in Latin America.
By Cmde MS on behalf of MLOB.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN Red Vanguard Volume 1, 1968
THE THEORY OF THE GUERRILLA ELITE
Table of Contents
BOURGEOIS OUTLOOK AND SPONTANEITY
CLASS ANALYSIS IN SOUTH AMERICA: THE “THIRD” WAY
THE ROLE OF THE INDIVIDUAL – THE MAXIMUM LEADER -FIDELISM
THE “FOCO” AS SUBSTITUTE FOR THE PROLETARIAN PARTY
PEOPLE’S WAR WITHOUT THE PEOPLE
“LEFT” AND RIGHT IN LATIN AMERICA
ASSESSMENT OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION
Regis Debray, a “private student of revolutionary theory and practice,” has written a book which purports to offer a “third way” to revolution. It is a “third way” which all Marxist-Leninists have hitherto failed to perceive, a “scientific truth” awaiting its release at the hands of this roving French philosophy student fresh from the cloisters of the “Ecole Normale Superieure.”
In their introduction to this book, Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, the American sponsors of Debray, claim that the revolution in Latin America:
“will not and cannot follow one or another of the patterns, traced out by the two great revolutionary upheavals of the first half of the twentieth century. The Latin American revolution is taking a third way, the first stages of which already been revealed in the Cuban experience.”
(“Revolution in the Revolution?” Penguin Books, 1968)
On the basis of this claim for a “third way,” these American liberals with a touch of rouge on their cheeks rush to proclaim the ultimate outcome of this breach in the wall of proletarian hegemony, the anti-Marxist-Leninist content of the loquacious petty-bourgeoisie of our time: that “still other revolutionary patterns may be possible” – ranging from the Yugoslav to the Chinese variants of the new syndicalism.
Debray’s book seeks to lay the basis for such radical revisions by spurning Marxist-Leninist theory in every one of its essential tenets: replacing proletarian hegemony and discipline by petty-bourgeois hegemony and anarchical relations, replacing class by individuals, proletarian parties by “focos” of undisciplined petty bourgeois insurectionists, historical materialism by naïve mechanical materialism, scientific analysis by sweeping presumptiousness.
Like countless other renegade products which attack Marxism-Leninism, this book has been received favourably by the bourgeoisie. In that it offers a way to “make revolution” from scratch, learning by the simple empirical process of trial and error and rejecting the Marxist-Leninist scientific method of the universality of contradiction and the unity of theory and practice, it serves them well. For if the “third way” of Debray were to remain unchallenged and be applied in practice, it would result in the most tragic setbacks and useless losses to the revolutionary cause in Latin America.
Indeed, the Bolivian adventure which cost Debray his liberty and Guevara his life was merely the latest in a long series of defeats and annihilations for which the addicts of spontaneity who exist in the national liberation fronts of many Latin American countries are responsible. It is for this reason that it is essential to deal with Debray’s claims in some detail. On the first page we read:
“One began by identifying the guerrilla struggle (in Cuba – Ed.) with insurrection because the archetype – 1917 – had taken this form, and because Lenin and later Stalin had developed several theoretical formulas (sic) based on it – formulas which have nothing to do with the present situation and which are periodically debated in vain, such as those which refer to conditions for the outbreak of an insurrection, meaning an immediate assault on the central power.”
NOTE: Because Debray’s “theories” have been endorsed by the Cuban leadership and because he uses the term “we” throughout his text, references to Debary and the Cuban leadership are interchangeable, except where otherwise specified.
No doubt we are supposed to be eternally grateful for Mr. Debray’s clarification of Lenin on the “formulas” for an insurrection, i.e, “an immediate assault on the central power.” This statement is to set the tone for disclaiming Leninism by alluding to Lenin as someone who, from 1900 to 1917, contributed nothing to the struggle in Russia but the cry “insurrection” without any of the detailed handiwork which Debray claims as his own discovery.
Unfortunately, of course, Mr Debray has not understood Lenin, or Marxism, on this elementary point. The involved and rich experience, of the tactics and strategy of “making revolution” the Marxist-Leninist way are a closed book to Debray (as a student of bourgeois philosophy still in his early twenties, this is not surprising) who assumes throughout that such wild and unqualified statements, can serve as the starting point for his even wilder flights of innovation around them.
Lenin and Stalin remain (despite the distortions of petty-bourgeois innovators such as Debray who wish not to see that which deflates the balloon of their pretentiousness) the most notable of those few proletarian leaders who have successfully led the working people through to the seizure of state power and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is distinct from that seizure of power by the national bourgeoisie in alliance with the peasantry, usurping the leading role of the proletariat, which masquerades as “the dictatorship of the proletariat” in some corners of the globe – and to the building of socialism. Given this historically unique position, we can assume that the definitions and experiences of Lenin and Stalin, hold important lessons for us in establishing further theoretical and practical bases of proletarian dictatorship without which there can be no socialism – in our respective countries.
In every fundamental essential, Debray betrays not only his divergence from these principles, but his total ignorance of them.
When he deals in detail with the specific conditions in the countries of the Latin American continent, he refers to the divisions existing between the revisionists and trotskyites in the liberation fronts of these countries. These divisions, which have been responsible for many defeats – notably the failure of the Cuban general strike in 1958 – Debray seeks to solve, by going over to the purely military front and brushing ideological and political questions aside. He ignores the fact that leadership involves the clarification of a line in theory and the consolidation of the forces around that theory in action. Lenin subjected anti-Marxist-Leninist theory and practice to a ruthless critique on every front, this struggle bearing fruit in the undisputed leading role of the Bolsheviks at the crucial turning points in the Russian revolution. Debray seeks to cancel out the role of theory and to advocate some kind of idealised and subjectivised “action” as the unfailing panacea guaranteeing victory. He quotes petty detail after petty detail, generalises them to the level of the universal in order to justify his “revolutionary” theories revising a whole arsenal of genuine revolutionary theory painstakingly accumulated throughout a century or so of arduous struggle by valiant proletarian fighters the world over.
Not once does he justify his claims against Marxist-Leninist theory – we are presented merely with surface details and Debray’s own brand of arrogant ignorance of the harsh facts of the struggle against imperialism. Thus, in justification of the “spontaneous inevitable progress of history”:
“The reverses suffered by the Latin American revolutionary movement are truly minor if one measures them in terms of the short period of time which is the prologue to the great struggles of tomorrow, if we take into account the fact that the few years which have passed correspond to that period of ‘takeoff’ and re-adjustment through which all revolutions must go in their early stages. Indeed, what seems surprising is that guerrilla movements have been able to survive so many false starts and so many errors, some inevitable and others not. According to Fidel, that is the astonishing thing, and it proves the extent to which the movement is impelled by history. In fact, we must speak not, so much of defeat as of a certain explicable stagnation and lack of rapid development, the consequences of, among other things the inevitable blunders and errors at this stage of exploration, of revolutionary conceptions and methods which are new, (our emphasis – Ed.) in spite of their deceptive kinship with other international experiences. . . .Of all these false starts, the Latin American is the most, “innocuous.”
This “innocuous” record has involved the annihilation of “half a hundred revolutionary organisations” on the Latin American continent, since the Fidelista upsurge!
On an even more alarming scale, on page 2 the cry of the petty bourgeois intellectual reveals itself in full swing in its justification of spontaneity, taken to the lengths of advocating the pleasures and benefits of a blissful ignorance of theory. In this assertion, Debray is typical of the worst philistine intellectual who steeps himself in book learning but condescends to the “masses” in their ignorance – in such a way he seeks to preserve the prestige of learning which can only stand up when contrasted with the “low level” of the masses. Anathema to Debray are the forces of the organised proletariat with their developed theory:
“One may well consider it a stroke of good luck that Fidel had not read the military writings of Mao Tse-tung before disembarking on the coast of Oriente; he could thus invent, on the spot and out of his own experience, principles of a military doctrine in conformity with the terrain. … all the theoretical works on people’s war do as much harm as good. (This includes General Giap, Lenin! –Ed). They have been called the grammar books of the war. But a foreign language is learned faster in a country where it must be spoken than at home studying a language manual.”
And, when dealing with the dangers of “imitation from past experiences”:
“All the more reason to remain aware of the inversion of which we are victims when we read theoretical works.”
So, we have here the claim that theoretical knowledge is a hindrance and that spontaneous “trial and error” is the only guide to revolutionary action. Likewise, political struggles through programmes, fronts, alliances – the essential and inevitable shifts and deployments of forces in the complex struggle to win the working people for revolution are not necessary. Those who claim they are,
“… believe that revolutionary awareness and organisation must and can in every case precede revolutionary action.”
This is carried to the lengths of noting (we presume with favour – otherwise why point it out?):
“A significant detail: during two years of warfare, Fidel did not hold a single political rally in his zone of operations.”
Thus we are dealing with a defence of spontaneity, (a spontaneity which yet Debray makes a show of criticising in others) where spontaneity takes as its fundamental precept:
“.. the armed struggle of the masses against imperialism is capable of creating by itself, in the long run, a vanguard capable of leading the peoples to socialism.”
In order to justify his anti-Marxist-Leninist theories, Debray has to claim a “unique” class situation in Latin America:
“… the irony of history has willed, by virtue of the social situation of many Latin American countries, the assignment of precisely this vanguard role to students and revolutionary intellectuals, who have had to unleash, or rather to initiate, the highest forms of class struggle.”
No doubt his studies at the Ecole did not include a syllabus on Marxism-Leninism. Debray, is about to proceed upon the unfolding of his “new” theories of revolution, applicable only to Latin America:
Firstly, that the leading instigating role of the intellectuals and students is unique. From this assumption he intends to demonstrate, that a new concept of the vanguard, a “foco” (a small band of guerrillas with allegiance to one “leader”) follows logically, and from this that the normal political channels should be ignored and give place to armed struggle as an end in itself.
However, his claim for uniqueness of situation in Latin America is a red herring raised in order to conceal his anti-proletarian, thoroughly bourgeois thinking. For in Russia the revolutionary students and intellectuals also initiated the struggle against imperialism and capitalism: it was they who formulated the theory of the vanguard party and the strategy of the world’s first proletarian revolution. And it is here that we come to the crux of the difference between those petty-bourgeois forces which, when declassed and pushed into the ranks of the working class, overcome their bourgeois thinking and thoroughly embrace the proletarian world view and its revolutionary struggle; and those who fail to identify themselves with the aims and aspirations of the majority class. These latter merely use their new class position to air their own minority grievances against capitalism, objectively striving to climb back to their former class position, sowing confusion and propagating theories in the process which act against the tide of revolutionary struggle.
There are of course, vast differences between the aims of those intellectuals who led the way in Russia and the aims of those in Latin America who advance Debray to be their spokesman. The intellectuals in Russia worked for the hegemony of the proletariat in the socialist revolution and, as its necessary preliminary, in the bourgeois democratic revolution.
Debray and those he represents, are that section of the petty bourgeoisie which stand for the hegemony of bourgeois ideology and the petty bourgeois forces, not for a socialist revolution and not even for the final victory and, consolidation of the national democratic revolution. For in the epoch of imperialism, this can only be led by the proletariat in alliance with the poor and middle peasantry if it is to be consolidated and is to prepare the around for the transition to the socialist revolution. The petty bourgeois and bourgeois view is for the holding of the revolutionary process at the stage of the national democratic revolution, in order that the groundwork for capitalism may be sown and the path towards the re-incorporation of the nation into the imperialist sphere once again be laid. They seek to prevent that national democratic revolution from being turned into the stream which feeds the proletarian revolution by crying “against dictatorship,” “against bureaucracy,” thus serving the interests of the national bourgeoisie.
And so, Debray’s claims that his “third way” is the new form of worker-peasant revolutionary alliance:
“What gives the guerrilla movement the right to claim this political responsibility as its own and for itself alone? The answer is: that class alliance which it alone can achieve, the alliance that will take and administer power, the alliance whose interests are those of socialism – the alliance between workers and peasants. The guerrilla army is a confirmation in action of this alliance; it is the personification of it alone can guarantee that the people’s power will not be perverted after victory.”
“… This progressive petty bourgeoisie must… commit suicide as a class in order to be restored to life as revolutionary workers, totally identified with the deepest aspirations of their people.”
Yet despite these claims, we find that the real picture is very different.
In order to make his thesis workable Debray has to provide the vanguard leadership without which this class alliance cannot be consolidated. He performs this conjuring trick by taking the current “left” revisionist emphasis on the countryside in opposition to the cities, to its most illogical conclusion to date: all who live in cities are bourgeois, all who live in the mountains are proletarian, and hegemony in the struggle belongs to the petty bourgeois rural guerrillas who become the vanguard “proletariat” of Debray’s imagination.
This is one of his more remarkable “additions” to Marxist-Leninist theory:
“….As we know, the mountain proletarianises the bourgeois and peasant elements, and the city can bourgeoisify the proletarians, The tactical conflicts that are bound to arise, the differences in the evaluation and line, conceal a class conflict, in which the interests of the proletariat are not, paradoxically enough, on the side which one would expect. It was possible to resolve these conflicts rapidly in Cuba, and the advance towards socialism was undertaken as quickly as it was after taking power because Fidel, from the first day, demanded, won, and defended hegemony for the rural guerrillas” (our emphasis – Ed; p.75).
He quotes approvingly Guevara’s muddled thesis in the same vein:
“These differences (ie, between the plain (the town) and the sierra (the countryside) – Ed.) go deeper than tactical divergences. The Rebel Army is already ideologically proletarian and, thinks like a dispossessed class; the city remains petty bourgeois, contains future traitors among its leaders, and is very influenced by the milieu in which it develops.”
(Guevara , quoted by Debray on p.77).
In this strange system of Marxism, the city, wherein labour and toil, the wage slaves of capitalism, has thus been conveniently disposed of to make way for leadership by that more revolutionary the petty bourgeoisie!
In further imaginative vein, the “back to nature” aspirations of the dilettante petty-bourgeois fleeing from the terrors of the era of machinofacture and proletarian organisation are eulogised:
“Such are the mental reactions of a bourgeois, and any man, even a comrade, who spends his life in a city is unwittingly bourgeois in comparison with a guerrillero…. Not to have any means of subsistence except what you yourself can produce, with your own hands (? – We read elsewhere in his treatise that equipment and supplies were pilfered in raids on villages – MS-Ed) starting from nature in the raw. … The city dweller lives as a consumer. As, long as he has some cash in his pocket, it suffices for his daily needs.”
“Nothing like getting out to realise to what extent these lukewarm incubators (the cities – Ed.) make one infantile and bourgeois. In the first stages of life in the mountains, in the seclusion of the so-called virgin forest life is simply a daily battle in its smallest detail: especially is it a battle within the guerrillero himself to overcome his old habits, to erase the marks left on his body by the incubator – his weakness.”
Really, Mr Debray – speak for yourself! No doubt it is a delightful element of “free choice” for the coddled petty bourgeois to remove himself temporarily to the more ascetic hardship of the mountains! But even capitalist economists have had to acknowledge that the daily lot of the proletarian is one which requires him to sell his birthright, his freedom, his expectancy of life precisely in order to obtain that little “cash in his pocket” without which he would be too dead to have any “daily needs!”
Also, in magical vein, we are told that:
“Under these conditions (guerrilla experience Ed) class egoism does not long endure.. Petty bourgeois psychology melts like under a summer sun ..”
Would that this were so!
From a reference he makes to Castro on the subject of the inherent qualities of “the people” we can draw only the conclusion that the term refers to the peasantry alone (p.112). And of course this is as it must be, for despite the loud claims, these theories bear absolutely no relation to the proletariat whatsoever.
The fig-leaf cover required to normalise this petty bourgeois leadership and masquerade it under the false cloak of a “worker-peasant alliance” leading to socialism was the verbal trick of claiming that a handful of petty bourgeois guerrillas, through their relationship to their “means of production” in the rural environment – the “dispossessed class” – were the proletariat leading the peasantry.
This makes the formula complete. But no amount of verbal juggling can make these theories any other than what they really are –
Namely, the laying of the foundations of the dictatorship of the national bourgeoisie in Latin America with all the jargon that goes with it:
A typical petty bourgeois phenomenon is the spurning of class analysis and political theory. The bourgeoisie has its class theory, just as the proletariat has. But the petty bourgeoisie has no independent ideology because it is a transitional class, a virtual hybrid ideologically – part bourgeois and part proletarian in its advocacy of ideology according to the fortunes of which major class appears likely to benefit it most. That is the reason for the sweeping idealist phrases which are utterly classless. It therefore vacillates opportunistically, avoiding the statement of a political position because it does not know at any one stage in the movement of class struggle which side it will need to be on.
Thus the claims of the Debrayists are not new. Always and everywhere they have been part of the arsenal of the petty bourgeoisie in attempting to further their social and class aims – and they are theories which are inimical to the hopes and aspirations of the only truly revolutionary class, the proletariat; theories which at root and beneath the libertarian cover are nothing but a vicious attack on the proletariat and its class mission.
If the character of the theories we have outlined are correct, it will follow that, in place of proletarian discipline and democratic centralism, petty bourgeois individuality will be enthroned. And this is so. We read:
“The city, Fidel says, ‘is a cemetery of revolutionaries and resources’… A leader cannot go down to the city to attend a political meeting: he has the politicos come up to discuss and make decisions in a safe place up above: otherwise he sends an emissary. Which presupposes, in the first place, recognition of his role as responsible leader, the willingness to give him the resources with which to exercise his leadership – if not, he takes them himself. It implies, above all, the adoption of an open and explicit strategy.”
“This reconstitution (of the “party” Ed.) requires the temporary suspension of ‘internal’ party democracy and the temporary abolition of the principles of democratic centralism which guarantee it.”
Furthermore, the conventional party only brings with it “the plethora of commissions, secretariats, congresses, plenary sessions, meetings etc”. These are the cause of “the vice of excessive deliberation” which “hampers executive, centralised and vertical methods, combined with the large measure of tactical independence of subordinate groups which is demanded in the conduct of military operations (p.101).
In other words, discipline and organisation, which are the main manifestations of proletarian organisation, ‘hamper’ the freedoms of the petty bourgeois leaders, who wish to answer to no strata or section of the population – and indeed, by their very hybrid class position, do not directly represent any. To these military adventurists, the primacy of political struggle which is supplemented by military struggle, is the source of all evils. It brings with it the necessity for disciplined leadership, political discussion of strategy, the difficult work of actually involving the working people in struggle. All these tasks are anathema to the Debrayists and their foolhardy bands of “trial and error” revolutionaries.
But we have only proceeded a little way in our analysis.
We have now to deal with the real reason why Debray has thought it necessary to throw all previous historical experience overboard, to decry and reject any lessons from the revolutions of Russia, China and Vietnam, the theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin; to throw the leading role of the proletarian party overboard. It is because:
“In Cuba, military (operational) and political leadership have been combined in one man: Fidel Castro.”
It is because of:
“the line of action of which Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, is the incarnation.”
Throughout the text is peppered with glowing references to “Fidel says,” rather like the childrens’ nursery rhyme. Thus, speaking again of “the leader” and his qualities:
“In brief, no detail is too small for a politico-military chief: everything rests on details – on a single detail – and he himself must supervise them all.”
What a staggering piece of nonsense! In contradistinction to even the Blanquists, who claimed that a small elite could liberate the people, we have the ridiculous adolescent hero-worship that one man – one “maximum-leader,” the “incarnation,” is our hope for socialism. Mr. Debray claims with pride that this leader, combining all qualities,” is the startling innovation that has been introduced” into the theory of Marxism-Leninism. We must indeed confess ourselves startled at such a turn of events – when the personal feelings of a twenty-year old whose transference to maturity had been stunted inside the portals of a bourgeois temple of philosophy – are put forward as the basis for a world-view involving the fate of millions!
But it would appear that in the sierras under the sway of “Fidelism,” in place of the proletarian party and its healthy collective discipline, that body representing the best qualities of a class, such inverted and ingrown petty bourgeois acts of hero worship are commonplace. For Guevara himself, on the basis of his experiences with Fidel, stated that “the aim is for all qualities to be united if possible, in one person.” This maximum leader,” as the world knows, has not been slow to bask in the limelight of glory and rise to the heights of demagogy which this mystical cult has presented to him.
Thus we are dealing with an idealisation of the petty bourgeoisie, an idealisation which can only finish up in extremely deep water.
And it does, for such baseless hero-worship and unquestioned allegiance to one “leader” is the very essence of bourgeois class thinking, when confronted with the problem of misleading and subjugating vast social forces for its own ends. It represents a crisis in the leadership of a historically obsolescent class when the normal, logical, although unequal, system of maintaining its power is threatened from below. This initial demagogy of the “maximum leader” often appears too ridiculous to take seriously. But beneath it, lies the sabre of a force which is responsible to no constitution, to no labour laws, no checks by the working people, no power other than to itself. All too often it has finally resulted in bloodbaths not only involving the working class but any other strata which have got in the way of a totally destructive and anarchic force.
The seeds of such theories of an independent armed force, are present in the thinking of the Debrayist petty bourgeoisie:
“It has been proved that for the training of revolutionary cadres the people’s war is more decisive than political activity without guerrilla experience. Leaders of vision in Latin America today are young, lacking in long political experience prior to joining up with the guerrillas. It is ridiculous to continue to oppose ‘political cadres’ to ‘military cadres’, ‘political leadership’ to ‘military leadership’. Pure ‘politicians’ who want to remain pure – cannot lead the armed struggle of the people; pure ‘military men’ can do so, and by the experience acquired in leading a guerrilla group, they become ‘politicians’ as well. The experience of Cuba and, more recently, of Venezuela, Guatemala, and other countries demonstrate that people – even petty bourgeois or peasants – are more quickly and more completely moulded by experience of guerrilla warfare than by an equal amount of time spent in a training school for cadres – a consequence, as far as men are concerned, of the essentially and totally political character of guerrilla warfare.”
This dominant military force will be naturally, young – since the old are, well – they are “alas… old” and worn out:
“In Latin America, wherever armed struggle is the order of the day, there is a close tie between biology and ideology. However absurd or shocking this relationship may seem, it is none the less a decisive one. An elderly man, accustomed to city living, (do workers retire at the age of 40? – MS-Ed) moulded by other circumstances and goals, will not easily adjust himself to the mountain nor – though this is less so – to underground activities. In addition to the moral factor – conviction – physical fitness is the most basic of all skills needed for waging guerrilla war; the two factors go hand in hand. A perfect Marxist education is not, at the outset, an imperative condition. That an elderly man should be proven militant – and possess a revolutionary training – is not, alas, sufficient for coping with guerrilla existence, especially in the early stages. Physical aptitude is the prerequisite for all other aptitudes (?? – MS-Ed); a minor point of limited theoretical appeal, but the armed struggle appears to have a rationale of which theory knows nothing”.
Thus it is brawn, not the creative brain; political ignorance, not understanding; youth and fitness, not experience which constitutes Debray’s “master race” of revolution.
Such is the demagogy which wears the mask of “Marxism.” It is this monstrous deformation which results from the failure to build a vanguard party based firmly on the alliance between the working class and peasantry in the conditions of a national democratic struggle. For with this party denigrated, with the proletarian role usurped and the peasantry dragged in as fodder to back up and strengthen the inherently vacillating national bourgeoisie, the net result can only be, once foreign imperialist domination is overthrown, the imposition of the dictatorship of this national bourgeoisie fully confirmed in its class role – a national bourgeoisie forced to adopt the fascist-type “maximum leader” principle in order to maintain its hold over the vast masses of the people and obtain its surplus value from an underdeveloped economic system by screwing up the rate of exploitation – free from the bugbear of any organised opposition and defence by the working people of their own interests.
This is precisely the same demagogy which we see today stretching from China to Indonesia and Cuba: with the party of the proletariat destroyed, the national bourgeoisie walks into its repressive role, and the proletariat is denigrated viciously as “a bourgeois force” in order to cover up the real bourgeois nature of these leaders. There is an exact parallel with the Chinese national bourgeoisie and its assumed “leftism”: the “‘cultural revolution,” which aims to destroy the proletarian vanguard party.
We have already had a pretty rounded introduction to the theories of Debray.
It comes as no surprise therefore, that for Debray the Marxist-Leninist theory of the vanguard party of the proletariat, must give place to yet another unique contribution to “Marxism-Leninism”; that is, the theory of the immaculate conception, or the spontaneous begetting, of the vanguard nucleus.
“The vanguard party can exist in the form of the guerrilla foco itself. The guerrilla force is this party in embryo. This is the staggering novelty introduced by the Cuban Revolution.”
“The people’s army will be the nucleus of the party, not vice-versa. The guerrilla force is the political vanguard in nuce, and from its development a real party can arise …. That is why at the present juncture, the principal stress must be laid on the development of guerrilla warfare and not on the strengthening of existing parties or the creation of new parties.”
“Eventually the future People’s Army will beget the party of which it is to be, theoretically the instrument: essentially the party is the army.”
Just as a vanguard party is not necessary in the struggle, one can also dispense with political education of the mass of the-working people:
“(the system of political commissars)… does not appear to correspond to Latin American reality. … The people’s army is its own political authority. The guerrilleros play both roles indivisibly. Its commanders are political instructors for the fighters, its political instructors are its’ commanders.”
For in place of the scientific truths of Marxism-Leninism, we are offered a set of maxims mouthed parrot-like by “revolutionaries” whose proudest claim is their rejection of the historical experience of the revolutionary peoples in struggle and their philistine ability to “invent,” on the spot, ‘the great truths, which are hereinafter valid for all time:
“In many countries of America the guerrilla force has frequently been called the ‘armed fist’ of a liberation front, in order to indicate its dependence on a patriotic front or on a party. This expression, copied from models elaborated elsewhere – principally in Asia – is at bottom, contrary to the maxim of Camilo Cienfuegos: ‘The rebel army is the people in uniform’.”
What duplicity. A handful of petty bourgeois adventurers, who are a law unto themselves, constituting a “foco” which preserves its independence from the people because the mass of the people “contain many potential betrayers of the revolution,” are put up as the true representatives of the workers’ and peasants’ best interests, as the substitute for a party of the working masses. Such are the lengths to which these arrogant petty bourgeois will go in their task of attacking the fundamental and only guide to action of the masses, in whatsoever corner of the globe: the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism.
And, of course, Debray, in addition to his ignorance of Marxism or Leninism, is completely at sea on the facts of the Cuban revolution and its outcome, as we shall see in more detail later. Suffice it here to say that he is under the totally erroneous impression that the “theories” he claims to have unearthed, were actually borne out in practice:
“Around this nucleus, and only because it already had its own politico-military leadership, other political forces have been able to assemble and unite, forming what is today the Communist party of Cuba, of which both the base and the head continue to be made up of comrades from the guerrilla army. The Latin American revolution and its vanguard, the Cuban Revolution, have thus made a decisive contribution to international revolutionary experience and to Marxism-Leninism.”
Obviously no one has told him that so weak, so undisciplined and so politically inept was this guerrilla force when faced with the directly political tasks of managing a “state of the working people” that its first action was to call in the aid of the revisionist Popular Socialist Party, a party which had played a completely traitorous role in the struggle against Batista, to help them man the heights of political power.
Debray devotes a good percentage of his book to attacks on those revisionists (such as of the Popular Socialist Party) – attacks which are justified to a certain extent – but what cannot be justified is his attempt to make of the sell-out which the Cuban revolution was to become a model of “Marxism-Leninism”, every unprincipled turn of which must be copied throughout the Latin American continent.
When the Cuban leadership granted Mr. Debray full facilities to study the Cuban revolution and its history that is, employed him to embroider a myth and bury the facts they chose wisely. They chose a representative of that privileged section of the petty bourgeoisie which devotes all its time and energies to the renegade task of attempting to destroy the only theory and practice which can liberate all the oppressed social classes by a revolution which will end for ever the unequal privilege whereby those who create wealth and culture are robbed by those who make of it a reactionary metaphysical mystique.
We begin, as usual, with a claim of uniqueness for the Latin American situation.
The discovery of this “new” path has led to many errors, but these are inevitable “at this stage of exploration, of revolutionary conceptions and methods which are new in spite of their deceptive kinship with other international experiences” (p.23). The aim of the armed foco is to build up “through guerrilla warfare carried out in suitably chosen rural zones a more mobile strategic force, nucleus of a people’s army and future socialist state” (p.25).
Of course this armed spontaneity diverges radically from all other successful experiences to date – and, naturally, has met with innumerable failures. Therefore, we have to have a scapegoat. Upon this scapegoat are blamed residual “imported” errors, that explain the “inevitable” errors on the “new” path. He makes this scapegoat, the dangerous “imported political conceptions” of Vietnam and elsewhere, with such out-of-context claims as the “subjection of the guerrilla force to the party” (p.25) contentions, which are not applicable to the “historical and social conditions peculiar to Latin America.” (p.56)
He notes that:
“… in Vietnam, the Communist Party was the organisational nucleus from which and around which the people’s army developed.”
“Differences between Vietnam and Latin America lead to the following contrast: whereas in Vietnam the military pyramid of the liberation forces is built from the base up, in Latin America on the other hand, it tends to be built from the apex down; the permanent forces first (the foco), then the semi-regular forces in the vicinity of the foco, and lastly or after victory (Cuba) the militia.”
Of course, such a radical turning on its head is not clarified in any way. It is simply taken for granted.
Another “irrelevant” theory to Debray, employed as it has been in all the successful national liberation struggles of our time, is that the guerrilla forces should aim to be so integrally a part of the people that they remain unnoticed “like a fish in water”;
“The occupation and control of rural areas by reaction or directly by imperialism, their vigilance today greatly increase should rid a given group of armed propagandists of all hope remaining unnoticed like a fish in water’.”
And another “unique” point:
“Let us not forget, that the class enemy carries out selective assassination on a large scale in Latin America – kill the leaders and leave the rest alive.”
Really, Mr Debray, one would think from such a statement that imperialist oppression itself is completely unique to Latin America. Yes this elitist militarist theory is nonsense.
It has been put forward in order to cover up the essential heresy which lies beneath the claims to a “people’s army”; by inventing a uniqueness which prevents the application of the theory of people war, as it is understood by all genuine representatives of the working people, it is hoped to cover up the fact that this was the work of a handful of insurgents who bear no relationship whatsoever to the real aspirations and political requirements of the forces in struggle against imperialism.
In a vulgarisation of the role of the guerrilla we read:
“It must have the support of the masses or disappear; before enlisting them directly, it must convince them that there are valid reasons for its existence so that the ‘rebellion’ will truly be – by the manner of its recruitment and the origins, its fighters a ‘war of the people.”‘
“….. the only conceivable line for a guerrilla group to adopt is the mass line; it can live only with their support, in daily contact with them.”
But behind this thin “mass line” lies the real reason why Debray has found it necessary to reject the experience of people’s war in Vietnam, Laos, etc. It is a reason which completely removes the class basis and pins his theory down as a justification of the individualism, instability and shallowness of the petty bourgeoisie. For Debray rejects the concept of a fixed base of support, i.e. a mass-base amongst the people, for individualistic nomadism, without any social base.
“the guerrilla base is, according to an expression of Fidel, the territory within which the guerrilla happens to be moving; it goes where he goes. In the initial stage the base of support is in the guerrilla fighter’s knapsack.”
“During the first stage (of the guerrilla war Ed.), clearly the hardest to surmount and the most exposed to all sorts of accidents, the initial group experiences at the outset a period of absolute nomadism.”
A fine “people’s war,” one of the main aims of its elitist liberating mission being to achieve independence from the people (as opposed to the Marxist-Leninist thesis of the necessity to build the revolutionary independence of the working people from their exploiters):
“The revolutionary guerrilla force is clandestine. It is born and develops secretly. The fighters themselves use pseudonyms. At the beginning they keep out of sight, and when they allow themselves to be seen it is at a time and place chosen by their chief (sic). The guerrilla force is independent of the civilian population in action as well as in military organisation; consequently it need not assume the direct defence of the peasant population.”
With a further display of arrogant elitism and incredible lack of faith in the forces they claim to represent, we read:
“Constant vigiliance, constant mistrust, constant mobility – the three golden rules. All three are concerned with security. Various considerations of common sense necessitate wariness towards the civilian population and the maintenance of a certain aloofness. By their very situation (? MS-Ed) civilians are exposed to repression and the constant presence and pressure of the enemy, who will attempt to buy them, corrupt them, or to extort from them by violence what cannot be bought… . ‘We hid our intentions from the peasants’, Che relates, and if once of them passed near the scene of an ambush, we held him until the operation was completed. This vigilance does not necessarily imply mistrust: a peasant may easily commit an indiscretion and even more easily, be subjected to torture.”
Thus the claim that these theories are a more highly developed form of “people’s war” begins to look slightly ludicrous – when the guerilla foco is fighting not only the imperialist enemy but completely isolated from and antagonistic to the mass of the working people, and peasants, the only possible base in a people’s war against imperialism.
In this scheme of things the working people and peasantry serve merely as fodder for the adventurist, personally gratifying, military gambles of the unstable, dissatisfied petty bourgeoisie. We begin to see why the solidarity of the Vietnamese people in their genuine people’s war is anathema to the Debrayists, and why they constantly warn of the dangers of “imitating the Vietnamese experience.”
So Debray has disposed of the class base of a genuine revolutionary movement, of its wholehearted dedication to and identification with the exploited and oppressed classes;
Debray has disposed completely of the alliance of the two major oppressed classes, proletariat and peasantry, which when welded together into an invincible alliance, constitute the only force which can resolutely oppose and defeat imperialism by classing the proletarian forces of the cities as “bourgeoisie”;
Debray has cancelled out the role of political struggle by scorning the tasks of building a revolutionary movement around a programme, forging alliances, educating the people for struggle, organising, agitating propagating in the course of building this powerful force of the working masses, and revealed his thoroughly bourgeois content by ignoring the vital and indispensable role of the general staff of a revolution, its vanguard party;
And at the tail end of this rejection of all that constitutes a genuine revolutionary force, his guerrilla focos resemble nothing more than bandit groups, cut off from the oppressed people to such an extent, that at a certain stage of their reckless ill-conceived adventures they are forced to break the cardinal principle of genuine people’s war – never to steal the property of the workers and peasants by advocating raids – on villages for supplies:
“It is less risky and safer for a guerrilla group to make raids on neighbouring villages from its own base in order to obtain foodstuffs and field equipment.”
It is now quite clear why so many Fidelista focos have floundered and been wiped out. For by elevating guerrilla struggle (or their completely militarist inversion of it) to an end in itself, as opposed to a stage in the struggle which it really is, and by advocating that a handful of “dedicated determined men,” maintaining their aloofness from the vast mass of the working people, ignoring political questions” with the same blindness as mediaeval mystics, can overthrow the considerable might of imperialism, they cut the very ground from under their feet and lead those who follow them to almost certain defeat and massacre.
Debray claims that the great misconceptions which exist concerning the Cuban revolution are the reasons for so many failures in recent years on the Latin American continent. He claims his book is the vehicle which distils the true essence of that revolution and lays down its theory for the edification of all like-minded insurgents. It has been pointed out that the essence he has distilled, besides its dangerous implications, bears very little resemblance to the actual course of the Cuban revolution add the lessons which are to be learned from it.
We must therefore now look at that Cuban experience and distil from it our own essence – one which has been processed according to the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism.
What is the fundamental malaise which is responsible for such anti-Marxist-Leninist rubbish as the Debray theories being purveyed with some seriousness in Latin America? It lies, surely, in the classic division between right and “left” which has – we now borrow Mr. Debray’s phrase – revealed itself in a very obvious form due to certain more heightened conditions in Latin America.
Debray takes as his point of departure the right revisionist betrayal over many decades in Latin America, and seeks to counter-pose his leftist theories as the way forward.
But whereas the right deviation seeks to tie the class forces of the proletariat and its allies to bourgeois ideology and practice in such a way as to transform the party into an instrument of foreign imperialism, the comprador bourgeoisie and the feudal reactionary classes;
Its leftist counterpart, the “left” revisionist deviation, also reflects, the influence of bourgeois ideology and practice within the class forces of the proletariat, but in this case adapted to the class needs of the national bourgeoisie.
The national bourgeoisie has an objective interest, at least for a time, in the victory of the national democratic revolution, but wishes to achieve that victory under its class leadership and not under that of the proletariat and its allies.
It therefore needs to make use of revolutionary phraseology, the best form of which is provided by the petty bourgeois left distortions of Marxism of which Debray’s teachings are typical.
These deviations are able to take an extreme and clear form within the contradictory framework of political institutions in Latin America. The apparently organic and established character of the state frameworks in most Latin American countries has resulted from the early formal independence won against Spanish colonial rule which resulted in an earlier development of semi-colonial forms of domination by USA imperialism. This has seduced the majority of the revisionist parties in those countries into believing that the doctrine of “peaceful transition” could be applied there without the disguise of leftist phraseology and lip service to guerrilla and other violent forms of struggle. As a consequence, right revisionist policies in Latin America have met with the most abject failure of any in the world, driving those parties, in a number of instances – the best known being that of Batista’s Cuba – to degenerate into direct, tools of foreign imperialism and indigenous comprador reaction.
This history of open right-revisionist betrayal and errors is the main factor determining the current swing to the “left” in a diametrically opposed direction. This history counterposes “peaceful legal advance without violence” and the militarist spontaneity of “military struggle without politics.”
It represents a classic manifestation of the spontaneous division between “left” and right. We say spontaneous, because these extremes occur in the vacuum-left, when genuine scientific analysis and the revolutionary leadership which results from it are lacking. A right deviation delivers the working people and peasantry helpless to the massacre of imperialist guns and without any means of defence. Whilst leftism provokes isolated violence and brings down the full force of imperialist violence on an inadequately steeled and prepared nucleus, divorced from the mass of the people but involving these forces in the bloodshed which accompanies their defeat.
These complementary deviations have wreaked havoc within the national liberation fronts of the Latin American continent and make more essential the return to a class analysis as the basis for a scientific theory of revolution.
Certain countries of the Latin American continent have been viewed by right revisionism as possessing sufficient formal trappings of democracy to justify a full programme based on electoral advance to socialism by peaceful means, such as Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica and Brazil.The remaining long-standing open dictatorships have necessitated right revisionist programmes of a more militant type, albeit singularly lacking in any guide to action to overthrow the repressive regimes, but relying on the hope that “democratic rights” would be established under restrained “mass pressure.” It is therefore to the statements of the Communist Parties of the former category that we should turn for the clearest expression of “parliamentarism” on the Latin American continent.
A reference to the Costa Rican Communist Party’s “competition” some years ago makes the right revisionist position very clear.
Here instead of the vanguard party thriving in a situation of heightened class struggle, we are presented with the novelty of a “vanguard party” which finds itself losing ground; when objective class struggle is seen as a nuisance factor which has interfered with the prime task of the ingrown little organism’s race to achieve a per capita paper representation in some imaginary “democratic institution” – whilst all comprehension of the realities of class remains blissfully outside its scope.
It does not require a very detailed knowledge of the situation Costa Rica to understand that the way to salvation of the Costa Rican working People does not lie through such “struggle” as advocated by the “Costa Rican People’s Vanguard”:
“A competition in the sphere of organisation, education, propaganda and finances has been conducted by the Party in five of the seven Provinces of Costa Rica. … Judging by the results it looked as if the target advanced by the Ninth Congress (doubling the membership) would be realised without much difficulty. However, unforeseen circumstances arose which hampered the work of building Party.
The first was the Caribbean Crisis last October and the wave of repressions that came in its wake. Our newspaper was banned and the activity of the Party was restricted in one way or another . . . .
Owing to the repressions in the Pacifico Sur party membership has shown no increase. However, despite these negative factors and the intensified repressions in connection with the talks between the presidents of the Central American countries and President Kennedy in March 1963, the competition conducted by the five provinces was, on the whole, satisfactory.. . . . .
It is clear to us that when international tension increases and the war danger grows, repressions are intensified and democratic liberties curtailed, and the growth of the Party slows down….Hence we are waging a constant struggle for peace, against the restriction of democratic freedoms.
This, of course, does not lead us to the opportunistic conclusion that we can fight and win only in conditions of legality and extensive utilisation of democratic rights. However, the fact remains that in the present conditions the most favourable climate for Party growth is international detente, since this makes it easier to defend the democratic gains of the working people.”
(Oscar Vargas: World Marxist Review: Oct 196,3; p.61-2).
The trite rejection of opportunism offered by Vargas does not invalidate the charge which any honest militant must make against such a grossly renegade strategy as is offered by the Costa Rican “vanguard.” For of course, such a logic is clear. Imperialism, class struggle, brings the threat of repression which hampers the work of building an electoral party in conditions of class peace. Therefore a status quo of peace between labour and capital is vital if this work of conservation, the buffer preventing class confrontation can go on.
The theme was repeated in Chile, the same reformist dreams of “The British Road to Socialism” being applied to a situation where striking workers were murdered, where any substantiation to the claim to a “democratic facade” had been ripped away a decade ago by the brutal dictatorship of Gonzalez Videla which outlawed the Communist Party and subjected it to persecutions all too familiar under the heel of open reaction, and where any democratic facade exists merely as a perfected weapon for ensuring the continuation of bourgeois dictatorship by drawing to its assistance in this conspiracy the renegade “leaders” of the working people.
Thus the Chilean Communist Party leadership hotly denied any revolutionary intentions ascribed to it:
“What is needed … is to secure a turn to the left in national policy. . . .
Through the medium of parliament, municipal councils and public meetings, the Party constantly advances and supports all projects and measures designed to benefit the people. Reactionaries in the ranks of the Christian Democrats accuse the Communists of seeking bring down the government in order to take its place. But the resolute stand taken by the Communists has demonstrated the baselessness of this and has shown that the Communists are prompted by neither opportunist nor narrow tactical considerations.”
(World Marxist Review: November 1965; p.47)
The whimpering denial of opportunism appears like a Judas mark in the programmes of these guilty men who commit every anti-proletarian crime it is possible to imagine given that they propose and preach class peace in a continent whose peoples subsist in indescribable conditions of brutalising poverty and misery. Yet with every increase in reactionary terror, the subservience of these handmaidens of the bourgeoisie increases in proportion. Each decisive parliamentary defeat, such as occurred in Chile in 1964, is followed by an ever more eager act of grovelling to an ever more contemptuous, corrupt, and confident bourgeoisie.
The Brazilian Communist Party, the leading mouthpiece of right revisionism in Latin America had a carefully mapped out plan for “utilising democratic rights and liberties.” In 1964 it was striving by means of a system of “structural reforms” to win power by:
“. . . establishing a national and democratic government and laying the groundwork for far-reaching changes that would ensure complete political and economic liberation and pave the way for socialism,”
“the basic task of the vanguard forces in the struggle for structural reforms now is to build up the national and democratic movements. It is along these lines that we envisage the possibility of a peaceful revolution.”
(World Marxist Review: Jan 1964; p.22)
However, these hopes were not to be realised. The coup which overthrew Goulart in 1964 and installed the rule of the generals smashed the “democratic” illusions of these men of peace, and the naive veneer given to the theoretical estimation of the Party’s errors, attempts to draw attention from the fact that the leaders of the Brazilian Party, especially Prestes, are well versed enough in political manoeuvring not to suffer the lack of experience they claim. Thus, analysing the errors of the Communist Party:
“We ourselves had not been prepared politically and ideologically and had not prepared the masses to repulse the violence of reaction. As a result of a not altogether correct formulation of the Fifth Congress which took as its guidelines the thesis of the 20th Congress of the CPSU, we inaccurately assessed the possibilities of the ‘peaceful path’, seeing revolution as an idyllic process, free of clashes and conflicts.
Due to this incorrect assessment the leadership failed to see the danger signals. Instead of calling on the masses to fight the danger of a rightist coup, it continued to demand the holding of plebiscite.”
(C Prestes: World Marxist Review; June 1968; p-17).
“Although we sensed a certain tension (! Ed) we failed to act accordingly”.
(World Marxist Review, February 1965; p.28)
Despite the “self-criticism” of the above – conducted purely in the realm of the senses though it is – the conclusion of the right revisionists is a remarkable piece of un-dialectical nonsense. For the failure to prepare for violent struggle, to see through the bluff, of parliamentary ‘legality’, were mistakes of a “leftist” character!
“The Sixth Congress rejected the view that the main mistakes made by the Party were the consequence of a right deviation and noted that they were, on the contrary, mistakes of a leftist, putschist and petty bourgeois character.”
(C Prestes: World Marxist Review; June 1968; p.17)
This massacre of the truth is necessary because, despite their “self-criticism,” despite the objective failure of their line, despite the setbacks to which their opportunism has led, they still intend to pursue their “peaceful” cause. The coup which installed a “semi-fascist political regime” will be destroyed through:
“Active opposition and vigorous mass actions (which) will reduce the regime’s socio-political basis and could lead to its defeat by non-violent means. Democratic action can compel the reactionary and defeatist minority to retreat and restore democratic rights.”
Of course, “it may turn out too, that the Party and the people will be compelled to resort to other, more elementary and particular forms of armed struggle.” But we can rest assured that the right revisionist leadership of the Brazilian Communist Party will do everything in its power to be true to the spirit and the letter of the passive “may” and place it far behind in its list of priorities.
Such is the face of right revisionism in Latin America.
It has been against this background of betrayal that the working people and peasant masses have been compelled to resort to spontaneous armed struggle – struggle which was, and largely remains, outside the framework of control of the revisionist parties of the right. In those countries where such armed struggle has already taken root and the masses of the working people are beginning to be drawn into the struggle against semi-colonial dictatorship and foreign imperialist oppression, the further result of this has been that those, communist parties subservient to Soviet right revisionism have been forced to pay lip service to armed struggle and modify their more blatant parliamentary transition formulas in a bid to regain the influence within the armed liberation fronts which previously they were threatened with losing completely.
In its wider context, this pragmatic and opportunist response to the spontaneous growth of armed struggle reflects the shift in policy on the part of the Soviet revisionist leadership which has taken place since Khrushchev’s overthrow – a shift away from “all-round cooperation with US imperialism” to one of striving for the establishment of independent spheres of influence in areas hitherto comprising sectors of the US sphere. Within the overall task of developing this policy, a certain independent sphere of operations in relation to the national liberation movements of the underdeveloped colonial and semi-colonial sectors of the world has been allotted to the so-called “centrist” bloc of revisionist communist parties and “socialist” states, of which Cuba is one, and has given rise to the need for lip-service to armed national liberation struggle to be admitted to the platforms of some, though by no means all, of the Latin American communist parties under the influence of Soviet revisionism.
An example of this is offered by the criticism of the 20th Congress formulations on peaceful transition and peaceful coexistence made by the Brazilian right revisionist leader, Prestes. The alternative to the long discredited right revisionist formulations put forward is the flexibly leftist slogan of “armed struggle as a tactic, democratic constitutional advance as a strategy”. With its perceptible overtones of Kautsky and Bernstein, this formulation neatly solves the dilemma of how to maintain the long-cherished peaceful transitional shibboleths of right revisionism, now becoming so tarnished, simply by reversing Marxist-Leninist theoretical principles and relegating to armed struggle a subordinate tactical role serving the main strategy of seeking to secure minor palliatives to the increasingly oppressive life of the working people through reforms and the ballot box.
The outcome of these opportunist policy manoeuvres has been that, utilising the dominant hold which they exercise over the apostle of “violent struggle” in Latin America, Fidel Castro and the Soviet revisionist leadership has been able to control the transition to support for “centrist” revisionist policies on the part of certain Latin American Communist Parties without loosening in any way their traditional control over the leaderships of those parties – and even in some cases to increase it through the prestige added by the accession of Castroite “centrist” revisionism to the overall force available to Soviet policy needs.
As for “left” revisionism and Trotskyism, these take many forms in Latin America. The case of Guevara and Debray, who take an “ultra-leftist” position themselves, while condemning the trotskyites as revisionists, has already been analysed. The lessons of their position, i.e. of an armed struggle divorced from any political and class organisation of the working people, have been borne home most clearly following the collapse of Guevara’s mission in Bolivia. So much so, that Arguedas, a firm sympathiser of the guerrillas, wrote as his epitaph to Guevara:
“… he failed because he did not have the support of the peasants and because the Bolivian people did not know the action programme of the guerillas.”
A lesson so elementary that it should hardly have required the sacrifice of so many aspiring national liberation fighters to make it known. And indeed, the lessons of this, collapse of “ultra-leftist” method and morale accompanying Guevara’s experiment were not lost on those forces which represent the national bourgeoisie with more perception than Guevara. They can have acted as yet one more forceful argument for Castro strengthening his “centrist”‘ position.
Trotskyism in Latin America – as represented particularly in Guatemala and Peru is “left” opportunism which claims a “theory” of socialist revolution. This “theory” completely denies the national democratic stage of the revolution in a colonial-type country and insists that “socialist revolution”‘ is at any given moment on the order of the day.
Its effect is to isolate the genuine revolutionary forces from class allies who stand objectively for the national democratic revolution, and without whose added weight imperialism cannot be defeated and the national democratic tasks achieved. In practice, however, they resort to all manner of semi-anarchist, syndicalist and outright irridentist ideologies in order to win bases amongst the peasantry and urban poor, purveying such illusions as the direct growth of the village peasant-commune into socialism, the romanticism of the primitive subsistence economy and so on.
In strategy and tactics, their aim is to sow the usual kind of confusion associated with their name, advocating peaceful legal advance in the manner of the right revisionists whenever and wherever an actual revolutionary situation is close at hand, and pressing for ultra-revolutionary forms of struggle whenever and wherever the revolutionary tide is temporarily on the ebb turn. Thus they contribute directly to rendering the more militant vanguard forces an easy and isolated target for imperialist guns. Within these overall perspectives of betrayal, however, the “socialist revolution” for which they aim is, as with the right revisionist communist parties, in essence a peaceful one.
Thus all of these trends, “left” or right, spell defeat and betrayal for the revolutionary aspirations of the working people of Latin America and the decimation of their actual or potential organisations, of struggle.
At the helm of all this confusion and betrayal, seeking to unite the political manifestations of bourgeois and petty bourgeois thinking within the forces of the developing national democratic and socialist revolutions of Latin America under the one “super revolutionary” centre, has stood the Cuban revisionist leadership. They have encouraged every kind of anti-proletarian and anti-Marxist-Leninist theory and practice, inspiring the most infantile forms of petty bourgeois leftism, and nationalist euphoria; and finally, they have resolved the failure of both “left” and right revisionism into the doctrine of a “centrist” revisionism, a position which has emerged as a specific heritage of the Cuban-revolution.
It is to an analysis of the Cuban development itself, therefore, that we must now turn.
The Cuban Revolution represented a phenomenon with two contradictory sides.
One was the fundamentally positive fact that US imperialist domination over Latin America had been breached for the first time, and a nation free of US imperialist oppression and ranged in struggle against it now stood as a symbol of anti-imperialist liberation struggle for the peoples of the continent.
The second and negative side was that, from its inception, the Cuban Revolution was carried through not under the leadership of the working class in alliance with the poor peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie but under that of forces representing the national bourgeoisie. This epoch is characterised by the onset of a world pre-revolutionary situation and the beginning of the disintegration of the imperialist world system. Therefore, this class basis can only serve its fundamental class interest and achieve, the construction of a form of capitalist society in the newly emerged nations, in as much as it succeeds in manoeuvring with the offer of its neo-colonial and comprador services between the various competing imperialist groups. This is a strategy which leads sooner or later to the incorporation of the newly-independent nation, willy-nilly, into the sphere of influence of another imperialist group, most likely one which is hostile to the imperialist power from which independence had originally been won.
The economic in-viability of Cuba – a fundamental feature inherited from the one-sided development imposed by US imperialist domination in the past – together with its geographically isolated position and economically unbalanced character, placed Cuba in a precarious position which rendered its newly-won independence highly vulnerable.
Debray seeks in his book to paint a glowing and utopian picture of the Castro leadership which completely ignores the historical facts and sets out to enshrine every trite phrase and thought of this leadership as valid “scientific truths.” It remains a quite obvious fact however, that Castro and those who fought with him to overthrow Batista were not Marxist-Leninists. Castro claims that the “Marxism-Leninism” of the Cuban leadership was learned during the course of the struggle. The absence of scientific revolutionary principle guiding a clear strategic perspective – fundamental necessities in any revolutionary process, whether national democratic or socialist in character, in which the working class fulfils the leading role and which is guided by a genuine Marxist-Leninist vanguard party – and the opportunist manoeuvring to which that absence inevitably leads.
These are all explained away by Debray, with the claim that the revolutionary process was undergoing a justifiable period of “trial and error” – not, be it understood, trial and error in the application of Marxist-Leninist science to the revolution but quite abstractly in the search for a “Cuban form of Marxism.”
Castro and the inceptive forces of the guerrilla movement which he led were urban petty bourgeois revolutionists acting objectively as the leading representatives of the Cuban national bourgeoisie. The rebellion based on the Sierra Maestra drew to the ranks of the rebel army recruits from the peasantry, the mass base of the petty bourgeoisie and, in the absence of a leading role fulfilled by the working class, formed the social arsenal of the national bourgeoisie.
The movement claimed to be a liberal alternative to the tyranny of Batista, the stench of whose corruption was believed by Castro to be a constant source of embarrassment to the United States – the diaries of Guevara in his Bolivian campaign imply that, in begging aid from US monopoly interests under the threat that US holdings would be confiscated in the event of victory in Bolivia if support for the insurgents were not forthcoming. In this he was merely repeating methods prominent in the early stage of the Cuban revolution itself. The “left” revisionists of the Castro/Guevara stamp, attempt to explain these away as “tactical” covers for their real “Marxist” aims.
Throughout the course of the struggle Castro increasingly won the support of the urban petty bourgeoisie and middle classes – the involvement of the working class taking place considerably later. The tone of the Castro leadership on the role of the working class, was that the working class should be thankful for its liberation at the hands of the petty bourgeois intelligentsia and peasantry. However, support for the rebels against the tyranny of Batista was sufficiently overwhelming in its scope to cause the United States, refrain from any serious attempt to maintain Batista in power by overt force, and to give only that amount of aid to Batista which would preserve US face with lesser tyrants of the Batista stamp throughout Latin America. Although a covert attempt using Cuban exiles to restore a US colonial-type puppet regime was launched later, with the abortive Bay of Pigs landing. These were the factors which assisted the seizure of power by the Castro leadership in 1959.
The victory of 1959 brought Castro his first lessons in the attempt to carry through reforms of a national and democratic character in the epoch of imperialism.
Whilst at the comparatively early stage of establishing his bases in the Sierras, Castro had approached the lawyer, Urrutia, with an offer that he should form a government when victory was won – an offer which was accepted and implemented in 1959. Urrutia was a representative of the nascent Cuban national bourgeoisie, but nevertheless one of the first acts of his government was to approach US imperialism with assurances that his government intended to continue the semi-colonial status of Cuba, and to maintain the traditional agrarian structure of the economy and economic dependence on the US. It was only the rejection of these assurances by the US and the latter’s refusal to recognise the Castro regime which compelled the subsequent alignment with the Soviet Union.
As for Castro himself, it was a typical and in view of the later developments, an ironic expression of the spirit of the expediently opportunist freebooter that he was ready and willing to place his services at the disposal of the highest bidder, that he did not conceive of taking any initiative in the political and state affairs, of the new government.
All the evidence shows that Castro did not wish to govern on behalf of any defined class. He saw his role as that of a latter-day Garibaldi effecting a purely military liberation on behalf of abstract “liberty, equality and fraternity” and then handing over power to a vague and undefined “liberal intelligentsia”, i.e., to elements of the national bourgeoisie which, at that stage, had no conception of the revolution winning for them full national independence from US imperialism, and who merely wished to extend somewhat the scope of their economic holdings and the degree of their participation in and control over the state and administration.
According to the terms of the Urrutia government’s approach to the US, agrarian landlordism, the security of US holdings in both agriculture and such service industries as existed and the corresponding structure of feudal and comprador relations, were to remain essentially untouched and only subjected to a degree of mild reform. Only the short-sighted rejection by the US of these proposals for the reform of the semi-colonial structure of Cuba as it had existed under the corrupt and brutal reign of Batista finally compelled Castro and his followers both to take up themselves the reigns of state and to implement measures designed to secure independence from the US – an independence the only available economic foundation for which was, ultimately alignment with the Soviet neo-imperialist bloc.
Amongst the first measures enacted was the land reform – a step which was essential if the base of peasant support was to be maintained. The confiscation of large holdings, particularly those owned by foreign capital, brought down the wrath of US imperialism.
For Castro the second dilemma and the second lesson had begun.
Despite numerous manoeuvres to outwit the Imperialists and to prevent their hostility and inevitable embargos on trade, the US in traditionally short-sighted fashion, declared its hostility and began to threaten Cuba with economic reprisals. Castro, countering this blackmail as best he could, entered into trade agreements with the Soviet Union, intending to walk the tightrope of a balance between the two blocs which would ensure Cuba’s economic future without drastic political shifts.
However, the breach was forced by US imperialism with the cutting of the quota for the import of Cuban sugar, forcing Castro to look elsewhere for cheaper supplies consequent upon the loss of US dollars. There followed a train of reprisals and counter-reprisals culminating in the Soviet offer to buy Cuban sugar (at an unspecified price) and to meet the Cuban demand for oil. The refusal of the US to refine Soviet oil, was met by Castro’s nationalisation of the key US interests in Cuba as a final and irrevocable reprisal. The course of Castro’s future was now set – a future which had originally never been intended or planned; but which had developed piecemeal out of the course of events. By 1963, according to Castro, the trade balance with the Soviet Union had risen to over one hundred million dollars.
This nationalisation, as we are now informed by the Cuban “Marxist- Leninists”, represented the “socialist revolution.”
However, in reality it represented an inevitable move which Castro, representing the national bourgeoisie, was forced to make given that he was fighting for his economic life and needed to trade with whomsoever would offer these services. But dependence on trade with the Union and being totally at the mercy of the defence protection, of the “nuclear umbrella” brought with it the expected penalty. Castro, the man who had hitherto publicly denounced Marxism-Leninism and denied any affinity with “communists” now began to air his brains in public and to take the first carefully rehearsed steps towards embracing Marxism-Leninism as avidly as he was later to embrace Khruchshev.
The previous emphasis on the role of the intellectuals as the leading force in the revolution, and as the “liberators of the working class” was now dressed up in a more conventional “Marxist-Leninist” disguise to accord with the announcement of the “socialist revolution” albeit a multifarious class definition typical of national bourgeois “socialism”:
“the labouring masses, the farmers, the student masses, the masses of the poor, the underprivileged mass of our nation, significant portions of the middle class, sections of the petty bourgeoisie, intellectual workers, made Marxism-Leninism their own, made the struggle for the Socialist Revolution their own.”
(F Castro: “Castro Denounces Sectarianism”, March 1962, p.13)
One of the penalties for the alignment with the Soviet Union was the loss of middle class support – a section which had supported Castro whole-heartedly during the struggle for power. These now filed in large numbers to Miami, plotting counterrevolution, and thereby weakening considerably the already overstrained technical and administrative cadre force and heightening social tensions. It was, at this point that the other long arm of revisionism, that from within Cuba itself, came into its own.
The history of the Cuban Communist Party offers an appalling record: of opportunism and class betrayal.
Based mainly on the urban working-class and aimed at building a mass social-democratic party, engaged in negotiations for economic improvements to the exclusion of almost all other forms of struggle and bound up with unprincipled agreements and alliances with whatsoever dictator happened to be in power, it was only to be expected that it could play no role in the struggle to overthrow Batista. Denouncing Castro as a mere adventurer, in the early days of the guerrilla struggle, and effectively assisting the sabotage of all attempts by the guerrillas to mobilise urban strikes,it only changed its tactics in the later stages, when the victory of Castro was already clearly inevitable. At this stage, certain leading revisionists were sent to join the guerrillas, with the aim of establishing the first bridgehead within the revolutionary forces in preparation for the later penetration of the right-revisionist party into the anti-imperialist front and the newly-founded national democratic state.
In the period immediately following the seizure of power, the clear anti-communist content of the half-hearted national democratic revolution which was “spontaneously developing,” effectively blocked the entrance of careerist-minded revisionist party members into positions of influence in the state. But this situation changed radically when apathy began to strike the middle class and comprador-orientated bourgeoisie after the confiscation of their property and the establishment of the open alliance with the Soviet Union, and especially after significant numbers of these strata had begun to desert to the Florida mainland. In the chaos of Castro’s “spontaneously developing” revolution the tried and tested organisation men of the revisionist party were drafted in large numbers in an effort to stem the growing confusion and pull together the basis of a workable economic and political system – matters which Castro had formerly considered could be left to merge spontaneously with the passage of time.
Thus arose the third of Castro’s dilemmas.
He had given up the political initiative almost completely. The revisionists, “always intent on mere political questions,” as Debray spurningly pointed, out, had after all played one better than the child of spontaneity, Castro. The price Castro had to pay for a viable political and, administrative apparatus was the achievement by the right-revisionists of an increasingly dominant role in party and state, despite their history of betrayal during the struggles leading to the overthrow of Batista.
Through a combination of external pressure from the Soviet Union, including economic blackmail, and internal penetration by the agents of Soviet revisionism, the indigenous revisionist leaders, Castro and his old guard of insurrectionists were gradually out-manoeuvred and sewn up in a web of inexorable dependence and commitment. No doubt, this was to the horror of the existentialist coterie of sun-seekers of the Sartre ilk who had seen in the Cuban development, the embodiment of their ideas about a liberal spontaneous revolution giving birth to an anarchistic utopia around which they could spin the subject matter for countless bestsellers.
The merciless straitjacket of unequal colonial-type economic relations, together with the necessity for a heavy defence programme in the face of the increasingly aggressive posture of US imperialism in the period prior to the 1962 crisis, represented further pressures inexorably pushing Cuba into dependence on the Soviet Union. The ominous features of the limited crop economy, had once again begun to dominate economic development.
The political counterpart of this situation of dependence, expressed the reciprocal need of the Soviet revisionist world centre to “explain” the obvious contradiction of a successful armed revolution taking place in an epoch the main feature of which was allegedly “the peaceful co-existence of states with differing social systems.” This was reflected in the corresponding determination of the Cuban right-revisionist party leadership to build and maintain the myth of Cuba as an example of “peaceful transition” in line with the precepts of the Khrushchevite international programme as laid down by the infamous 20th Congress Report:
“It was precisely in conditions of peaceful coexistence between states with different social systems that the socialist revolution triumphed in Cuba.”
(Letter of CC of CPSU to CC of CCP, March 30th, 1963. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1965. p. 507).
From the crisis of 1962, the starting duplicity of Castro in adopting his new subservient position was revealed.
Castro, who was later to announce demagogically:
“We will never make ideological concessions, and we will maintain an unyielding Marxist-Leninist position.”
(F. Castro: “This is our Line Havana 1963; p.79)
Then begins Castro’s remarkable history –
of bear hugs with the chief spokesmen of modern revisionism followed by denunciations of those same spokesmen;
of his statements supporting “peaceful struggle” followed by statements supporting armed struggle;
and his steadily increasing subservient role assisting the propaganda line of the Soviet revisionists in the Great Debate, with the deceptively “principled”, contention that “Division in the face of the enemy was never a revolutionary or intelligent strategy”;
all culminating in the carefully timed attacks on the Chinese government over alleged “cut-backs” in the promised rice quota.
This latter ‘news’ on the rice quotas, was leaked on the eve of the Three Continents Conference in Havana in order to cause the maximum damage to the prestige of the Chinese party and state throughout the national liberation movements. It was intended to act as an ameliorative gesture, to off-set the criticisms of those aspects of Soviet policy which reflected the residual influence of Khrushchevite doctrine, now inimical to Castro’s new role. It was intended to demonstrate to the Soviet neo-capitalist class in unequivocal terms just where the support and sympathy of the Cuban national bourgeoisie and its “centrist” revisionist representatives lay in regard to the growing struggle between the Soviet and Chinese leadership.
Castro, however, in his attempts to reconcile service to the interests of his indigenous class, the Cuban national bourgeoisie, with the fulfillment of a comprador role on behalf of Soviet neo-imperialism, has often proved a difficult and demanding pawn.
Castro has sought to retain as an essential ingredient of his “centrist” revisionist position, the right to criticism of Soviet policies wherever these tended to conflict with the long-term aims of the Cuban national bourgeoisie.
The Guevara adventure in Bolivia thus represented an attempt to raise the bargaining counter of the Cuban national bourgeoisie with Soviet right revisionism, and its failure merely confirming the inadequacy of “leftist” methods of struggle and the superiority of the “centrist” revisionist disguise. In almost all cases, the crux of these Castroite and Gueverist criticisms has been those aspects of Soviet policy reflecting the continuation of a Khrushchevite stance towards US imperialism or its comprador puppets in Latin America. However the necessity which the Castro leadership feels for the military and economic protection which the Soviet Union alone can provide against US threats of aggression compels them to lend their support to every fundamental policy statement and action of the Soviet leadership, and to place Cuba at its disposal as the base of operations for right revisionism on the Latin American continent.
It was under Castro’s auspices that the OLAS and Tricontinental Conferences were able to serve the policy aims of Soviet neo-imperialism, which envisage not only the building of “anti-imperialist” and, where necessary, armed national liberation movements under “centrist” revisionist leadership, but also the incorporation of existing national bourgeois or even comprador-bourgeois states and governments into its sphere of influence. This has already been effected, for example, with a certain measure of success in Peru. Thereby effecting the reciprocal utilisation of both rightist and “centrist” revisionist policy methods. In this way, the former implements the classical techniques of international diplomacy and “power politics” through the direct agency of the Soviet Union on behalf of its neo-imperialist aims;whilst the latter seeks to mobilise the working people and their movements of struggle in the same neo-imperialist cause by presenting the necessary “left” demagogic appeal.
Thus it is that, under the overall condition of a former semi-colony newly emerged from imperialist domination, with an urban and rural proletariat, labouring peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie amongst which revolutionary feeling is at a high level, any national capitalist class attempting to build a viable system of state capitalism can only hold out for itself any prospect of success provided that it can utilise to some degree the ideological strength and power for conviction and mobilisation of proletarian ideology and organisation of Marxism-Leninism.
This type of social development may be characterised in general terms as the demagogic abuse of the international working class and communist movement, of its world view, Marxism-Leninism, and of its organised strength and influence in order to bend them to the service of the enemies of the working class and socialism, amongst which the national capitalist classes of colonial-type countries emerging from imperialist domination must ultimately be placed, whatever class alliances may appertain in the period of the national democratic revolution.
In this light, the case of Cuba illustrates with convincing clarity an example of the harnessing of the potential or actual forces of the socialist revolution, the exploited and oppressed proletariat, poor peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie, to the task of establishing not the socialist system under the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat, but a system of centralised state capitalism of a bureaucratic and comprador type under the dictatorship, albeit concealed by demagogic “left” phraseology, of the national bourgeoisie, and under the conditions of intensified class struggle and heightened inter-imperialist competition typical of the contemporary advanced stage the disintegration of the imperialist world system.
The collaboration between “centrist” and right revisionism which forms the predominant basis of policy amongst a majority of Communist Parties of Latin America, with the “Communist Party” of Cuba acting as a comprador-type overseer on behalf of the Soviet Union, reflects the unsuitability of a purer “left” revisionism as an ideological mask enabling the national bourgeoisie to gain control of the national democratic revolutions and to determine their development and the class composition of their forces in their own class interest, in at least the majority of states concerned and under the objective conditions as they have shaped themselves up till the present time.
Left revisionism tends to find the appropriate objective conditions for its application and a fertile subjective ground for its dissemination and growth primarily in national and political terrains in which not only the objective conditions for the onset of the national democratic revolution are present – this in itself is also a feature of the situation in many American states – but also where a militant and politically conscious working class and a more or less powerful Marxist-Leninist vanguard are, or at the least have been in the past, to some degree in control of the revolutionary process of at least participants in it.
In view of the progressive undermining and final liquidation of the world communist movement through modern revisionism since approximately 1943-45, the presence of such features in a national democratic revolutionary movement in a colonial or semi-colonial country since World War Two, in spite of a majority of the leadership having long since fallen into the hands of “left” revisionists, must be attributed to the persisting influence of the Communist International and the continuing presence in the leadership of the leading cadres trained by it during the period prior to World War Two.
These features are, of course, typical of the development of the Chinese revolution and of the Communist Party of China. They are almost totally absent from the histories of the national liberation and working class movements of the Latin American states and their communist parties.
Where, however, such a Marxist-Leninist leadership, or at least a Marxist-Leninist contingent within a “left” revisionist led party and movement, is present, its defeat and dismemberment is clearly an absolutely prime necessity if the national bourgeoisie is to succeed in its aim of wresting the leadership out of the hands of the Marxist-Leninists and of consolidating it in the sole hands of their revisionist representatives.
The fact that, in Cuba itself, no Marxist-Leninist party, or even a Marxist-Leninist contingent within the leadership of the party, was present requiring ideological penetration, dismemberment and capture, in order to transform that party as a whole into a tool of national bourgeois aims and aspirations, rendered it easier for the petty bourgeois representatives of the national bourgeoisie to control the direction.
It rendered it possible for the petty bourgeois representatives of the national bourgeoisie to win victory in the national democratic revolution by purely military means, without’ the fusion of political and military forms of struggle and without a political party and an organisational centre for the mobilization of the masses, through the sole agency of a small elitist guerrilla force of predominantly petty bourgeois composition, is also symptomatic of the objective conditions and subjective characteristics of the movements of the oppressed in at least the smaller and weaker states of the Latin American continental mainland.
In spite of the many features specific and peculiar to it, the Cuban revolution, however, was not an isolated, once for all time phenomenon. Still less does it represent an example of “specific national roads to socialism” beloved of Khrushchevian revisionist “theory.” It took place and won victory, on the contrary, precisely within the general context of:
“a world pre-revolutionary situation. As in all pre-revolutionary situations, the primary aim of the class struggles, including national liberation struggles, now beginning to unfold on a world-wide front between the world proletarian forces and the imperialist bourgeoisie is a struggle to determine which of these two fundamentally opposed world class forces shall win the allegiance of the intermediate exploited and oppressed classes and strata, of which the most significant are the peasant masses of the colonial periphery of imperialism and the petty bourgeois and professional middle strata in the developed imperialist countries which are undergoing a process of intensified proletarianisation, and so to achieve on behalf of its class interest the decisive strategic advantage in the coming final stages of the world proletarian socialist revolution.”
(Programmatic Manifesto of the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain; p.22)
The upsurge of national liberation struggles and national democratic revolutions in the colonial and semi-colonial lands, including those of Latin America, forms one of the most prominent features in the process of disintegration of the world imperialist system at the present stage in the development of the general crisis of capitalism.
It is they which are contributing directly to the process of disintegration of the established imperialist power groups and to the break-up of the existing inter-imperialist balance of power, and which are effectively assisting in the formation of new imperialist-type power groups and a new inter-imperialist balance of power centred around the entry of the new neo-imperialist or state capitalist nations – primarily the Soviet Union, but including, at a lower stage of capitalist development, China and India, the total population resources of which alone amount to some 1,400 millions – into the already saturated capitalist world market.
As far as the future development of the world proletarian socialist revolution is concerned, the crucial issue confronting the national liberation movements at the present time is, however, the issue of which class shall lead the revolution, the national bourgeoisie or the working class.
On the outcome of this issue depends the solution to the question, of absolutely fundamental significance, as to:
“Whether or not the working people of the developing nations at present fighting for their liberation from imperialist colonial enslavement, for national independence and democratic rights and liberties, will succeed in bypassing the perspective of a more or less protracted period of capitalist development and will succeed in establishing new socialist states under the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat?”
Such a victory for the world proletarian socialist revolution would so weaken the already intolerably unstable and crisis-ridden world capitalist system as to render its continued operation virtually impossible.
Alternatively, on the other hand, the victory of the national democratic revolution in the colonial-type lands would merely lead to the establishment of new independent capitalist states which will thus provide a sorely needed extension to the total area and resources of the world capitalist system and so give it a new lease of life. This latter has already taken place in a whole number of formerly colonial or semi-colonial lands since the end of world war two, including People’s China, India, Egypt and, of course, Cuba.
The entire evidence provided by the experience of the new features in the development of the world proletarian socialist revolution since World War Two indicates strongly that
Only when the working class movements in the developed countries join with the working peoples of the colonial-type lands to form a common world-wide anti-imperialist front,
Only when powerful and influential Marxist-Leninist parties, capable of securing leadership over the entire revolutionary process in both types of countries have been built and are able to wield that decisive ideological and political initiative and influence which can ensure the leading role being fulfilled by the working class in both strategic world sectors, and so laying the basis for the uninterrupted transition of the national democratic to the socialist revolution in the colonial-type lands and for the victory of the latter in both; and, finally,
Only when the world Marxist-Leninist leadership of the world proletarian socialist revolution has developed to a point where a mighty Marxist-Leninist international is forged capable of uniting, integrating and directing the revolutionary struggles in both world sectors against the common imperialist class enemy, of elaborating a world strategic and tactical programme of general offensive on all fronts and in all sectors based on advanced scientific theory –
Then, and only then, will it be possible for the working people of any one sector, in the developed or the under-developed lands, to advance to the victory of the socialist revolution and so to bring the epoch of capitalism to its close and to commence anew, and on an infinitely higher level than previously, the epoch of world-wide socialist construction.
For the present; therefore, and until such time as the revolutionary proletariat in both the developed and the colonial-type lands, realise the primary and indispensable tasks of revolutionary leadership and organisation, particularly as regards the building of the Marxist-Leninist vanguard, the predominant influence in the national democratic movements in the underdeveloped colonial world sector is likely to remain in the hands of the national bourgeoisie and its petty bourgeois revisionist representatives.
But each and every such instance of a national arena of capitalist development being opened up, under the conditions of a congested and saturated capitalist world market, merely serves, in the longer or perhaps the shorter run, to add new components of mounting contradiction to the already unstable situation in the world capitalist system. The monopoly capitalists of the developed imperialist countries, faced with the shrinking of the relative size and resources of the colonial sector relative to the developed sector, are attempting to obtain a significant intensification of the rate of exploitation in both the colonial areas that remain and, in an effort to offset the inevitable decline in super-profits, in the developed countries themselves.
Only provided that Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties are built in both the developed and the colonially subjugated sectors of the world will this intensification of exploitation and oppression result in a qualitative raising of the level of class militancy and capacity for struggle of the working masses, to their revolutionisation.
In other circumstances, including those at present appertaining in which the leading influence is fulfilled by social democratic and right revisionist representatives of monopoly capital in the developed countries and by a combination of right, “centrist” and “left” revisionist representatives of the national or the comprador bourgeoisie in the colonial-type countries, the outcome of the world reactionary offensive now in preparation could equally well be a series of bloody defeats for the working people and their organisations of struggle and the descent of the blackest night of fascist repression that the world has yet seen.
The law of uneven development will undergo and is undergoing an equally profound and far reaching intensification of its mode of operation, thus accelerating the process of break-up of the existing imperialist and capitalist power groups and the formation of new ones anxious to secure a re-division of the total area and resources of maximum exploitation available to the capitalist world system, which are continually shrinking relative to the rapidly increasing rate at which capital tends to be amassed, and which are indispensable for securing that maximum rate of profit so essential if the inherent tendency under state monopoly capitalism for the rate of profit to fall is to be offset. These fundamental contradictions in their turn prepare the conditions for the outbreak of yet another imperialist world war more devastating both in its scope and its revolutionary effect than any previously known, and so also preparing for the transformation of that war, in area after area, country after country, into, socialist revolutions.
These are the profound and climactic contradictions which are even now accumulating under the surface of the world capitalist system, and it is against this background that the teachings of Guevara and Debray relative to the struggle in Latin America must be critically evaluated.
Marxism-Leninism teaches, and all experience of the world’s working class, and oppressed peoples in struggle confirms that only through the unity of the working class of all lands, forged through the exercise of leadership and an overall guiding function on the part of powerful Marxist-Leninist parties, and through the unity of all non-proletarian classes and, strata behind that Marxist-Leninist proletarian vanguard in a mighty world anti-imperialist united front, can victory in the national-democratic revolution in the colonial-type lands be secured in such a way as to ensure that that victory leads:
Not to the development and consolidation, on however temporary or unstable a basis, of new, independent neo-capitalist states (which will merely substitute exploitation by the established imperialist oppressor nations for exploitation by the indigenous national bourgeoisie and so assist in increasing, again on however temporary or unstable a basis, the total arena and resources of the world capitalist system and to lengthen by a span of a few years or decades its bloodthirsty, profit hungry life);
But that that victory will lead instead to the weakening and restricting of its arena, resources and span of life, to the choking of the arteries feeding it with the super profits which are its very life blood, to the formation of a mighty and growing chain of national democratic and socialist revolutions encircling it with a steel ring of proletarian power which steadily suffocates and finally annihilates it.
In the developed countries, it is bureaucratic social democracy, reformism, revisionism of the right and trotskyism which constitute the chief weapons of the monopoly capitalist class in frustrating and diverting the potential or actual revolutionary energies of the working class and working people.
In the colonial-type lands, it is “left” and, where appropriate, “centrist” revisionism, likewise assisted by trotskyite disruption, which fulfill this function. Within this international apparatus of counter-revolutionary disruption, a certain clearly definable division of labour can be discerned.
It is the function of social democracy and reformism in the developed countries, and of liberal-anarchist ideas of spontaneous revolution in the colonial type areas of maximum exploitation, to act respectively as the instruments for undermining the unity of the class forces themselves, of the mass base, potential or actual, of the developing class struggle and/or revolutionary movements.
On the other hand, it is the function of revisionist teaching – in developed countries mainly of the right, and in colonial-type lands mainly of either “left” or “centrist” varieties – to weaken the struggle waged by the most advanced and class conscious proletarian elements to forge powerful, steeled and united Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties without which the socialist revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat remain mere empty dreams, vistas of mechanical scheming or the subjective projection of idle wishes.
In the relationship between mass base and vanguard, it is the vanguard which must first be establish even if only in embryo, if the whole revolutionary process in a given country is to develop into the structure of proletarian power capable of incepting and carrying through the socialist revolution directly in the case of the developed countries, through the intermediate stage of the national democratic revolution in the case of the colonial-type lands.
In both these types of revolution, a clear kinship exists between the older variants of bourgeois ideology typical of a capitalist class in the period of its youth, represented by liberal spontaneity and anarchistic insurrectionism of the Garibaldist or Blanquist type, and the more sophisticated right, “left” and “centrist”‘ variants of revisionism which form typical anti-proletarian ideological weapons of an aspiring capitalist class in an underdeveloped country which is struggling for ascendancy and independence within a world environment and under the conditions of an epoch in which capitalism is lying mortally sick upon its deathbed.
Both deny the revolutionary historical mission of the proletariat;
Both deny the need for the violent, forcible overthrow of the rule of the capitalist class – “left” revisionism advocating the use of armed force solely against the comprador, imperialist-orientated section of the capitalist class in a colonial-type country;
Both deny the need for the independent revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat armed with scientific Marxist-Leninist theory.
The petty bourgeois insurrectionist theories of Guevara and Debray form the logical inheritance and continuation of the classical ideas of spontaneous revolt first developed by the European bourgeoisie in the 19th century. The characterisation of the bourgeois ideological basis and antecedents of “left” revisionism contained in the Report of the CC of the MLOB, “Proletarian Internationalism: The Key to Victory in Anti-Imperialist Struggle and Socialist Revolution”, is as applicable to the unsuccessful, misapplied and naive variant of “left” revisionism concocted Guevara and Debray out of the historically superceded lees of liberal anarchist theories of spontaneous “uprisings of the freedom loving people” as ever it was to the more astute variant of “left” revisionism devised by Mao Tse-tung:
“When we consider the development of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Europe, we find that the petty bourgeoisie , played a generally analogous role to the one it later came to play in the colonial national democratic revolutions of the epoch of imperialism. . .the prime need (of the capitalist class – Ed.) was to hold in check the independent revolutionary class aspirations of the proletariat, and to harness its energies to the task of the bourgeois democratic revolution whilst simultaneously preventing them from leading to the fulfillment of the revolutionary aim of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. In all the developing capitalist nations of Europe to which the bourgeois democratic revolution spread in 1848-9, therefore, the leading role was played by bourgeois or petty bourgeois leaders..
‘Leftist’ phraseology and the rabble-rousing slogans of anarchism are always and everywhere the essential disguise of rightism, of policies designed to assist and strengthen the class position and forces of the capitalist class in the face of the growing or potential offensive of the proletariat. . . . Just as the counterpart in practice of the utopian theories of Proudhon were the state sweatshops for the unemployed workers of Paris established by Louis Blanc, similarly Mao Tse-tung’s leftist battle-cries directed at the emerging and developing, but as yet immature, proletarian classes and their potential petty bourgeois allies in the colonial lands have their essential counterpart in the so-called- “Three-way Revolutionary Committees”, in which the long-discredited.utopia of the “union of capital and labour”, is dragged from the oblivion to which Marx condemned it…”
(Proletarian Internationalism: Report of the CC of the MLOB in “Red Front”, March/April 1968; p.vii)
With the defeat of this peculiarly Latin American revisionist hybrid, the same demagogic mantle of revisionist deception has fallen upon the shoulders of the “centrist” revisionists headed by the Castro clique, acting as a semi-independent “left”-wing of the Soviet neo-imperialism. If this new and perhaps even more, insidious ideological and political weapon of the national bourgeoisies of the Latin American states is to be exposed and defeated and the hegemony of the working class and of scientific Marxist-Leninist theory in the Latin American revolutionary movement secured, a persistent-and wide-ranging struggle must be waged by the Marxist-Leninists of all lands against it.
There are no short cuts to the socialist revolution. The struggle to develop and change man’s social practice, and the thought processes which consciously guide that practice, is a protracted and arduous one. In the course of this struggle, the development of conscious revolutionary thought and practice on the part of the most advanced and consistently revolutionary class produced by history, the proletariat, is characterised at all stages by the close interaction of theory and practice, culminating in the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism and of its fundamental theoretical guide to action, dialectical-materialism, and their embodiment in the vanguard class party of the new type.
This final embodiment of the science of socialist revolution and of socialist revolution as a science, when theory and practice become so united as to be indivisibly fused together, is precisely what the “social scientists” of the bourgeoisie are most concerned to frustrate and disrupt by whatever means they find to hand inherited from the theories and practice of pre-scientific utopian or reformist schools – and amongst these modern “mystical schoolmen” of piecemeal reform or spontaneous revolt must be included not only such representatives of the right as Khruschev, Togliatti or Gollan, but also such leftist figures as Debray, Guevara and Castro.
The struggle to build the vanguard Leninist party of the proletariat involves such tasks as the inner-movement struggle within the revisionist and reformist parties and organisations, work amongst all sectors of the working population to win them for a common front of struggle, actions at the most basic level to build militant, class-orientated organisations where previously none existed, the achievement of a correct balance between legal and illegal, armed and political, forms of struggle, and so on. At every level, the process is an extremely complex and many-sided one. It is a test which only those who genuinely uphold, the cause of the working class and working people are prepared to stand.
That is why Guevara, Debray and others present such a disillusioned picture to the world once they enter from the realm of their subjective fantasies into the world of class reality. In their “theory” the peasantry existed as an idealised force which could do no wrong; the grim reality of the Bolivian adventure revealed besides Debray’s dilettantism, the fundamental scorn for the peasantry into which Guevara’s earlier idealism was transformed as a consequence of his inability to change that reality. The diaries, with their self-pitying descriptions of ignorant and suspicious peasants threatening to betray the self-styled advance guard of the revolution constitute an elitist petty bourgeois testament which marks a disgaceful end for those who had claimed to aspire so high. And it is perhaps from this last fact that the final lesson of the Guevara-Debray affair can be most clearly drawn: that the subjective desires of any aspiring revolutionary are less than nothing in value to the revolutionary cause and will be cast aside as such if they are not based on Marxist-Leninist scientific theory.
By Cmde M.S. For the MLOB;
“Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”
-- V.I. Lenin
"No force, no torture, no intrigue can eradicate Marxism-Leninism from the minds and hearts of men."
-- Enver Hoxha
"If you do not condemn colonialism, if you do not side with the colonial people, what kind of revolution are you waging?"
-- Ho Chi Minh
“Every departure from class struggle has fatal results for the destiny of socialism.”
-- Enver Hoxha
"A nation which enslaves another forges its own chains."
-- Karl Marx
"Private property must, therefore, be abolished and in its place must come the common utilization of all instruments of production and the distribution of all products according to common agreement - in a word, what is called the communal ownership of goods."
-- Friedrich Engels
"The entire party and country should hurl into the fire and break the neck of anyone who dared trample underfoot the sacred edict of the party on the defense of women's rights."
-- Enver Hoxha, 1967
"Today, in fact, ‘Stalinism’ has become a meaningless term of abuse employed to denote political views with which one disagrees."
-- Bill Bland
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
-- Desmond Tutu
“The class struggle does not disappear under the dictatorship of the proletariat; it merely assumes different forms... The class of exploiters, the landowners and capitalists, has not disappeared and cannot disappear all at once under the dictatorship of the proletariat. The exploiters have been smashed, but not destroyed. They still have an international base in the form of international capital, of which they are a branch. They still retain certain means of production in part, they still have money, they still have vast social connections."
-- V.I. Lenin, 1919
"We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance almost constantly under their fire. We have combined, by a freely adopted decision, for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not of retreating into the neighbouring marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation. And now some among us begin to cry out: Let us go into the marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: What backward people you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road! Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us and don’t besmirch the grand word freedom, for we too are ‘free’ to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turning towards the marsh!"
-- Lenin, “What is to be Done?”
"I have not brought you liberty, I found it here, among you."
-- George Kastrioti "Skanderbeg"
"[The children's] life will be better than ours; much of what was our life, they will not experience. Their lives will be less cruel. [...] Our generation has succeeded in doing a job of astounding historical importance. The cruelty of our life, forced upon us by conditions, will be understood and justified. It will all be understood, all of it!"
-- V.I. Lenin
"There is one, and only one, kind of real internationalism, and that is—working whole-heartedly for the development of the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary struggle in one’s own country, and supporting (by propaganda, sympathy, and material aid) this struggle, this, and only this, line, in every country without exception."
-- V.I. Lenin, 1917
"When the enemy attacks you, it means you are on the right road."
-- Enver Hoxha
"You'll hang me now, but I am not alone. There are two hundred million of us. You can't hang us all."
-- Zoya Anatolyevna Kosmodemyanskaya
"The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was neither a revolution, nor great, nor cultural, and, in particular, not in the least proletarian."
-- Enver Hoxha
"Marxism is not only the theory of socialism, it is an integral world outlook, a philosophical system, from which Marx’s proletarian socialism logically follows. This philosophical system is called dialectical materialism.”
-- J. V. Stalin, “Anarchism or Socialism?”
"You speak of Sinified socialism. There is nothing of the sort in nature. There is no Russian, English, French, German, Italian socialism, as much as there is no Chinese socialism. There is only one Marxist-Leninist socialism."
-- J.V. Stalin, 1949
“Nixon is to go to Peking! We are not in agreement. Therefore I think we should write to the Chinese a letter saying that we are opposed to this decision. Nixon is an aggressor, a murderer of peoples, an enemy of socialism — especially of Albania, which the USA has never recognised as a people’s democratic state and against which it has hatched a thousand plots. The invitation to Nixon will benefit imperialism and world reaction, and will gravely harm the new Marxist-Leninist Parties which have looked upon China and Mao Tse-tung as the pillar of the revolution and as defenders of Marxism-Leninism."
-- Enver Hoxha
"It is only the working class at the head of the masses, it is only the working class headed by its real Marxist-Leninist party, it is only the working class through armed revolution, through violence, that can and must bury the traitorous revisionists."
-- Enver Hoxha
“There were two ‘Reigns of Terror,’ if we would but remember and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the guillotine, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.”
— Mark Twain, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"
There is no Israel. There is only Palestine and occupied Palestine.