Category Archives: Vladimir Lenin

Engels in the Struggle for Revolutionary Marxism

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D.Z. Manuilsky

Speech on the Fortieth Anniversary of the death of Friedrich Engels, delivered at the Seventh Congress of the Communist International, August 5, 1935

The Seventh World Congress of the Communist International was held in Moscow from July 25 to August 20, 1935.

Contents

I. Engels and His Role in the Creation of Scientific Socialism

II. Engels as Leader of the Proletariat and Master of Proletarian Tactics

III. We Continue the Work of Engels

Engels and His Role in the Creation of Scientific Socialism

Forty years ago occurred the death of Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx’s closest comrade-in-arms, one of the greatest revolutionary thinkers in human history, organizer and leader of the international proletarian party. The names of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels will forever remain in the memories of the peoples as the names of two great geniuses, of the creators of scientific socialism and the founders of the international Communist movement.

The revolutionary activities of Engels are inseparably bound up with the life and activities of Marx.

Forty years ago Lenin wrote:

“Ancient legends tell of various touching examples of friendship. The European proletariat may say that its science was created by two scholars and fighters whose relations surpass all the most touching tales of the ancients concerning human friendship.”*

* Lenin, Marx, Engels, Marxism, p. 40. International Publishers, New York.

The fortieth anniversary of the death of Engels which we are commemorating today coincides with the change that has occurred in the world labor movement, with the turn – caused by the influence of the victory of socialism in the U.S.S.R. and the very profound crisis of capitalism – which the broad masses of the Social-Democratic and non-party workers have taken towards Communism, and with the accelerated collapse of the Second International.

The victory of the proletariat in the U.S.S.R. and the growth of the Communist movement all over the world are the direct result of the fact that the Bolshevik Party, the international Party of Lenin and Stalin, has remained loyal to the end to the teachings of Marx and Engels.

The collapse of the Second International, the defeat and bankruptcy of its parties, are the historically inevitable consequences of their desertion from the doctrines of Marx and Engels, of their vulgarization and distortion of Marxism. Millions of toilers – gripped in the vise of the crisis, hanging on the gallows, incarcerated in fascist jails and lying in the trenches of the imperialist wars that are flaring up – are now paying dearly for this desertion.

The opportunists of all colors, of the Second International – Bernstein, Cunow, Kautsky, Vendervelde and others like them – accused Engels of all mortal sins and opposed Marx and Engels in their effort to “refute” both, their real object being to extract the revolutionary spirit from Marxism. It was not an accident, it was inevitable, and absolutely in keeping with the laws of development, that the revisionists in the Second International, who first fought precisely against Engels on all the fundamental questions of theory and practice, passed to the position of cooperation with the bourgeoisie and gradually slipped into the mire of reaction.

From the very outset of his revolutionary activities Engels, together with Marx, waged a fight to lay the foundations of and to develop scientific socialism in the sphere of economics and the social sciences, in the sphere of philosophy and natural sciences; he waged a struggle to permeate the minds of the proletarian masses with revolutionary Marxism as widely as possible.

In the struggle against the German “true socialists”, those sentimental “high priests of human justice and right”, those pompous prophets of “class peace” and “peace among the peoples” in capitalist society, those pseudo-pacifists and supine humanitarians, Engels imbued the proletarian masses with ruthless hatred for the class enemy, called for the complete rupture with him and his ideological lackeys, the priests, the lawyers and the parliamentarians.

Engels fought furiously against the Lassalleans, the “royal Prussian socialists” who licked the jackboots of Bismarck, and their “state superstition”, their idealistic prejudices and loud talk about “general human rights”, and their “iron law of wages” which denied the necessity of independent economic struggle and independent industrial organization of the working class. Upholding and popularizing Marx’s political economy and emphasizing the inseparable connection that exists between the economic and political struggle of the proletariat, Engels exposed the reformist nature of Lassalleanism, its adaptation to the Junker-bourgeois state, its betrayal of the proletarian revolution.

In opposition to Proudhonism and Bakuninism, these two petty-bourgeois reactionary, utopian, anarchist trends in the labor movement, which for the mass revolutionary struggle substituted sonorous phrases about “mutual aid by means of peaceful cooperation”, “the equality of classes”, “the destruction of all states”, Engels urged the necessity of a political party of the proletariat, of a political struggle for the dictatorship of the working class.

In the struggle against all pseudo-Socialist and pseudo-revolutionary theories, Engels, on the basis of Marx’s analysis of the economic relationships of bourgeois society, proved the inevitability of the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the world historical role of the proletariat as the grave-digger of capitalism and the creator of the new socialist system. Together with Marx, Engels proved that the class struggle must lead to the dictatorship of the proletariat as the state of the transition period from capitalism to communism, that without the leadership of its own independent political party the proletariat cannot achieve victory in this struggle.

Engels combined a genuinely scientific analysis that penetrated the very “core” of historical phenomena, of economic and political processes, with the burning passion of a leader and teacher of the proletariat who called upon the masses of the workers to enter the revolutionary struggle. Scientific socialism illuminates the whole past, present and future of human society, it shows the proletariat what the exploited and enslaved classes were before it, what it is itself, and what it must become. Hence, Engels taught the workers: act in accordance with this revolutionary theory, fight for the proletarian dictatorship, and your emancipation will mean the emancipation of all humanity, the end of all exploitation, oppression and violence!

This idea of the unity of revolutionary theory and revolutionary action runs like a red thread through all Engels’ scientific works, through all his polemical articles and his party directives.

In the sphere of political economy Engels formulated the inevitable law of all exploiting societies, that:

“All progress in production is simultaneously regression in the position of the oppressed class, i.e., of the overwhelming majority. All good for some is simultaneously evil for others; every new emancipation of one class means the new enslavement of other classes.” *

* Engels, Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Chapter IX.

This inherent contradiction of exploiting society finds most striking expression under capitalism. The living vehicle of this contradiction is the proletariat, the class that is bereft of all means of production, and is, therefore, the most revolutionary class among all the exploited classes that history has ever known. Engels said:

“By more and more transforming the great majority of the population into proletarians, the capitalist mode of production brings into being the force which, under penalty of its own destruction, is compelled to carry out this revolution.”*

* Engels, Herr Eugen Duehring’s Revolution in Science (Anti-Duehring), p. 314. International Publishers, New York.

In one of his earliest works Engels depicts the conditions of the working class under capitalism in a manner that is amazing for its stern veracity. Over ninety years have passed since that work was written. Read this description to any worker in any capitalist country; he will see himself and the fate to which capitalism dooms him as if reflected in a mirror.

“When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another, such injury that death results, we call the deed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call this deed murder. But when society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live – forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence – knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder, murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no man sees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one. …” *

* Engels, Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844, Chap. V.

Under capitalism, tools, machines and the land confront the worker as an alien and hostile force. The supreme manifestation of this antagonism is the periodical crises which shake the exploiting system to its foundations and reveal to the ruling classes their inability to govern with the aid of the forces which they themselves called into being, forces which rage like blind elements over the whole of mankind, devastate flourishing countries, towns and villages and doom millions of people to degeneration.

Engels showed that the development of the proletariat, whose conditions of life impel it towards the social revolution, and the development of the productive forces, which have outgrown the framework of capitalist society, must inevitably burst this framework, must lead to the social revolution.

In this connection Marx and Engels advanced the “immediate ultimate aim” of overthrowing the power of the bourgeoisie and of establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the core of Marxism.

In the struggle for revolutionary Marxism, Engels with the utmost clarity worked out the problem of the interaction between economics and politics throughout the history of social development; and on this basis he worked out the problem of the nature of the state of the exploiting classes. In a brilliant sketch he also depicted the general contours of socialist construction.

Engels’ profound analysis embracing the whole of so-called “civilization”, i.e., of the history of the exploiting classes and their states, leads to the conclusion that the disappearance of classes and of the state is as necessary historically as have been their rise and development up till now. Engels wrote:

“We are now rapidly approaching the stage of development of production in which the existence of classes has not only ceased to be necessary, but has actually become a hindrance to production.” *

* Engels, Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Chapter IX.

We know what a furious howl, what frenzy and rage this proposition of Marxism that classes and the state must inevitably disappear called forth and still calls forth among all the paid advocates of the bourgeois system and bourgeois property, and how idiotically all the Bernsteins and Kautskys, who regard the slightly varnished and slightly reformed bourgeois state as the highest achievement of human progress, have failed to understand it.

In his struggle against the Social-Democratic opportunists and against the anarchists, Engels put in the forefront the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat and, in particular, the question of the radical difference between the exploiters’ state and the proletarian state. The revolutionary Marxian doctrine of the state and revolution and, in particular, Engels’ remarkable sketches on the question of proletarian democracy as opposed to bourgeois democracy, have been brilliantly developed in the works of Lenin and Stalin.

What irrefutable confirmation of the correctness of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of the state as the organ of the exploiting classes for the purpose of keeping the exploited classes in subjection is obtained precisely at the present time, in the midst of the advance of reaction and fascism in the capitalist countries! How shamefully the lying tales of the Social-Democratic philistines about the state “expressing the common interests of the people”, conciliating the interests of antagonistic classes, and standing above those classes, have been scattered to the winds! And what confirmation is obtained today, particularly in fascist countries, of what Engels said about the state being the armed forces: the police, the army, the prisons and the courts. The fascist landknechts of finance capital, the Gestapo, Hitler’s and Goering’s defense corps, the fascist dungeons, the concentration camps and the scaffold – all these reveal the very nature of the exploiters’ state, which has thrown off the tinsel of bourgeois democracy, which is trampling upon the last remnants of the democratic rights and liberties won by the toilers by long years of sanguinary struggle. And in the face of these inexorable facts, what will those say today who, debasing and distorting Marxism, repudiated the path of the proletarian revolution, and, in conjunction with Noske and Severing, defended the bourgeois state against the attacks of the revolutionary masses?

Opposing the dictatorship of the proletariat to the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, Marx and Engels fought all their lives for the creation of a party that could lead the masses to the seizure of power and the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship. After the Paris Commune all Engels’ utterances on the question of the immediate and urgent tasks of the proletariat in the socialist revolution were directed towards one point, viz., to utilize the experience of the Paris Commune, which was to lie at the basis of the program of the new mass parties of the proletariat. Not long before his death, on the twentieth anniversary of the Paris Commune, Engels wrote:

“Of late the Social-Democratic philistine has once more been filled with wholesome terror at the words dictatorship of the proletariat. Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the dictatorship of the proletariat.” *

* Engels’ “Introduction” to The Civil War in France, p. 19. International Publisher!, New York.

The Bolshevik Party alone, as far back as 1903, included the demand for the dictatorship of the proletariat in its program. After quoting what Marx and Engels had said on the experience of the Paris Commune, Lenin, in 1917, wrote:

“In revising the program of our Party the advice of Engels and Marx absolutely must be taken into consideration in order to come nearer to the truth, to re-establish Marxism, to purge it of distortions, to direct more correctly the struggle of the working class for its liberation.” *

* Lenin: State and Revolution, p. 55. International Publishers, New York.

The Bolsheviks alone, led by Lenin and Stalin, supplementing the rich experience of the Paris Commune with the experience of two Russian revolutions, put forward the creation of a state of the “Commune type” as the immediate aim of the proletarian revolution, and succeeded in leading vast masses of the proletariat and of the poorest peasants towards breaking up the bourgeois state and establishing the proletarian dictatorship in the form of Soviets.

Engels said that the class struggle of the proletariat would assume its widest dimensions when the proletariat captured power and, by means of its dictatorship, set to work radically to remold all productive relationships.

Today, on one-sixth of the globe, in irreconcilable revolutionary struggle, in the great laboratory of socialist labor and thought, under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, creative Marxism has been day after day assuming its world historical dimensions. The victorious proletariat is making the epoch in which Engels said:

“The proletariat seizes the public power, and by means of this transforms the socialized means of production, slipping from the hands of the bourgeoisie, into public property. By this act, the proletariat frees the means of production from the character of capital they have thus far borne, and gives their socialized character complete freedom to work itself out. Socialized production upon a predetermined plan becomes henceforth possible.”*

* Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, pp. 74-75. International Publishers, New York.

The Bolsheviks have done that. They have expropriated the capitalists and landlords, removed the shackles of capital from material productive forces and from the greatest creative force in history, the proletariat, and in place of capitalist anarchy established the socialist plan.

Engels wrote:

“The appropriation by society of the means of production will put an end not only to the artificial restraints on production which exist today, but also to the positive waste and destruction of productive forces and products which is now the inevitable accompaniment of production and reaches its zenith in crises. Further, it sets free for society as a whole a mass of means of production and products by putting an end to the senseless luxury and extravagance of the present ruling class and its political representatives.”*

* Engels, Herr Eugen Duehring’s Revolution in Science (Anti-Duehring), p. 317. International Publishers, New York.

The Bolsheviks have done that. As a result of the socialist reconstruction of national economy, crises and unemployment have been abolished forever in the land of the victorious proletariat; the exploiting, parasitic classes have been liquidated and there is no place for the senseless waste of products. The socialist system has undivided sway in the country.

Engels spoke of a system of organization of production under which no one will be able to throw on the shoulders of others his share in productive labor and in which, on the other hand, productive labor, instead of being a means to the subjection of men, will become a means to their emancipation.*

* Ibid., pp. 328-29.

The Bolsheviks have done that. Instead of a curse, as it was under capitalism, labor in the land of socialism has become a matter of honor, glory and heroism; in the great school of socialist competition new forms of collective labor are arising.

The Bolsheviks are putting into practice the brilliant sketches of Marx and Engels on the necessity of abolishing the antithesis between town and country, on the planned distribution of the productive forces, of creating the prerequisites for the all-sided, mental and physical development of men and women. But the Party and non-Party Bolsheviks are putting these amazingly prophetic sketches into practice concretely, enriching them with the creative ideas of the most brilliant minds of modern times, of Lenin and Stalin – and they are filling them with the living experience of the revolutionary experience of the masses.

Engels said that those whose mission it will be to raze exploiting society to the ground and to erect classless, socialist society will possess exceptional power of theoretical foresight and iron will.

It was our Party, the Party of the Bolsheviks led by Lenin and Stalin, that Engels with his penetrating eye saw through the veil of the ensuing decades! He spoke of those millions who have built socialism in the land of the proletarian dictatorship. It signifies the entry in the historical arena of those who will achieve the great goal outlined by Marx and Engels all over the globe.

II

 

Engels as Leader of the Proletariat and Master of Proletarian Tactics

Engels was not only the great theoretician of the proletariat. Like Marx, he was primarily a revolutionary. As was the case with Marx, Engels’ real element was first of all the struggle – the persistent, consistent and passionate struggle for Communism.

The first half of the ‘forties. Young Engels spreads his wings. He abandons the Christian-Prussian philistine environment and beats a path for himself towards proletarian socialism. He meets Marx, with whom he concludes a fighting alliance – the great bond of union between the two geniuses of proletarian Communism. Together they organize and lead the Communist League; together they draw up the famous Manifesto of the Communist Party, the first program document of international Communism.

The revolution of 1848. Engels is one of the editors of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in which, in conjunction with Marx, he supports the extreme Left wing of Democracy, ruthlessly exposing its vacillations, and championing the special interests of the proletariat in the bourgeois revolution.

The ‘sixties. The first international proletarian party – the First International – takes shape, and in its work Engels, in conjunction with Marx, takes a most active part. In the First International the doctrine of Marx and Engels secures decisive victory over all its opponents.

The Paris Commune ushers in a new epoch in the history of mankind. New tasks arise; the transition to the creation in separate countries of mass proletarian parties, on the development of which Engels exercises decisive influence.

As far back as 1846, Engels, then only twenty-six years of age, formulated the tasks of the Communists with astonishing distinctness:

“(1) To achieve the interests of the proletariat in opposition to those of the bourgeoisie; (2) To do this through the abolition of private property and its replacement by community of goods; (3) To recognize no means of carrying out these objects other than a democratic revolution by force.” *

* The Correspondence of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, p. 2. International Publishers, New York.

Many years later Engels said:

“We want the destruction of classes. What are the means of securing this? The political domination of the proletariat…. But the highest act of politics is revolution. Those who recognize this must strive towards such means and political actions as will prepare the revolution, such as educate the workers for revolution, and without which the workers will always be tricked by the Favres* and Pyats** the day after the battle. The policy which should be followed is a workers’ policy. A party must be formed not as an appendage to some bourgeois parties, but as an independent party with its own aim, its own policy.” ***

* Jules Favre, French bourgeois republican lawyer, became a minister after September 4, 1870; Thiers’ right hand in suppressing the Paris Commune.
** Felix Pyat, French petty-bourgeois radical.
*** From Engels’ speech at the London Conference of the First International. See The Communist International, No. 21, Nov., 1934, p. 812.

And it was to these aims that Engels devoted his half century of struggle.

Engels’ distinguishing traits as a politician of the working class were distinctly formulated by Lenin as follows:

“… A most profound understanding of the fundamental revolutionary aims of the proletariat, and an unusually flexible definition of a given problem of tactics, from the point of view of these revolutionary aims, and without the slightest concession to opportunism and revolutionary phraseology.” *

* Lenin, Marx, Engels, Marxism, pp. 44-45. International Publishers, New York.

I now want to deal in detail with Engels as the master of proletarian tactics. Our Parties, the leaders of our Sections, can learn something from the brilliant examples of the art of tactics given by the great proletarian captain.

Of the rich treasury of tactical propositions which Engels worked out and applied in the course of his practical activities I will deal with only a few which directly concern the central task, of the Seventh Congress, viz., the task of preparing and organizing the working class and all the toilers for the decisive battles. There were not a few people in Engels’ time, and there are not a few today, who conceive of the proletarian revolution not dialectically, but mechanically. They argue that the class conscious, consistent, “pure” revolutionaries were in one camp, while the other camp was one reactionary mass: that there can be no changes in the relations of class forces, for all classes have once and for all adopted their prescribed positions in the revolutionary scheme; there are no vacillating intermediate strata, for all have been entered beforehand in the category of reaction; there is no vanguard and reserves, for all represent one revolutionary mass; there are no masses who are only just approaching revolution, for all have been, beforehand, included in the camp of the revolutionary vanguard; there are no stages in the development of the revolutionary struggle, for in some enigmatic way, the masses have been transferred to the supreme class “of the last and decisive battle”; the revolutionary party need not carry on everyday work to enlighten and prepare the masses for the struggle, for the masses are only waiting for the signal to rush into battle under the leadership of the arch-revolutionary leaders; organizational preparation for the purpose of accelerating the growth of the movement is superfluous, they say, because the spontaneity of the movement itself is working in our favor. This is the type of people Engels had in mind when he ridiculed the following scheme of development of the revolution:

“All the official parties united in one lump here, all the Socialists in one column there – great decisive battle. Victory all along the line at one blow. In real life things do not happen so simply. In real life… the revolution begins the other way round, by the great majority of the people and also of the official parties massing themselves together against the government, which is thereby isolated, and overthrowing it; and it is only after those of the official parties whose existence is still possible have mutually and successfully accomplished one another’s destruction that the great division takes place and with it the prospect of our rule. If… we wanted to start straight off with the final act of the revolution, we should be in a miserably bad way.” *

* The Correspondence of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, p. 401. International Publishers, New York.

This brilliant proposition of Engels on the progress and development of the revolution was still more strikingly and fully developed by Lenin more than thirty years later. He wrote:

“To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without the revolutionary outbursts of a section of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without the movement of non-class-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against the oppression of the landlords, the church, the monarchy, the foreign nations, etc. – to imagine that means repudiating social revolution. Only those who imagine that in one place an army will line up and say, ‘We are for socialism’, and in another place another army will say, ‘We are for imperialism’, and that this will be the social revolution…

“Whoever expects a ‘pure’ social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip service to revolution without understanding what revolution is.” *

* Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. V, p. 303. International Publishers, New York.

Further on he says:

“The socialist revolution in Europe cannot be anything else than an outburst of mass struggle on the part of all and sundry of the oppressed and discontented elements. Sections of the petty bourgeoisie and of the backward workers will inevitably participate in it – without such participation, mass struggle is impossible, without it no revolution is possible – and just as inevitably will they bring into the movement their prejudices, their reactionary fantasies, their weaknesses and errors. But objectively they will attack capital, and the class-conscious vanguard of the revolution, the advanced proletariat, expressing this objective truth of a heterogeneous and discordant, motley and outwardly incohesive, mass struggle, will be able to unite and direct it, to capture power, to seize the banks, to expropriate the trusts (hated by all, though for different reasons) and introduce other dictatorial measures which in their totality will amount to the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the victory of socialism, which, however, will by no means immediately ‘purge’ itself of petty bourgeois slag.” *

* Ibid., p. 304.

These remarkably profound words of Engels and Lenin contain the fundamental elements of the reply to the question of how we today can successfully fight against the offensive of capital, of fascism and the menace of war. They indicate the necessity of the proletarian party having a correct policy towards the masses of its own class and towards its allies and they indicate the task of creating a broad people’s front of struggle, the need for and the ability to take advantage of international antagonisms for the purpose of strengthening the position of the proletariat. All our experience have more than once confirmed the fact that the party which starts out with vulgarized and naive conceptions of revolution is incapable of playing the part of organizer and leader of the revolution. There is nothing more dangerous for a live and fighting party than a readymade, invented and lifeless formula, for it conceals all the living and motley variety of the conditions and forms of struggle.

It is wrong to think that the revolution will develop along a straight line like the flight of an arrow, that no hitches or interruptions, and retreats for the purpose of leaping further forward will occur in the maturing revolutionary process. It is wrong to think that the tactics of the revolutionary party should be based not on the relation of class forces that exist, but on relations as we would like them to be. It is wrong to think that in the process of preparing for revolution as well as in the process of its development it is sufficient for the proletarian party to rely entirely upon the forces of the vanguard and that there is no need to rely on the majority of the working class. It is wrong to think that by ignoring other class forces and by refraining from trying to win over the vacillating classes to the side of the revolution, at least temporarily, the proletarian party can create the clear situation of “class against class”. It is wrong to think that it is possible to prepare for the revolution and to bring it about without taking advantage of the antagonisms within the camp of the enemy, without temporary, partial compromises with other classes and groups which are becoming revolutionary, and their political organizations.

In 1889, in a letter to the Danish Socialist Trier, Engels recommends that other parties be utilized in the interests of the working class, that,

“…Other parties and measures should be temporarily supported which are either of direct advantage to the proletariat, or which represent a step forward in the direction of economic development or of political liberty….”

“But,” Engels adds, “I am in favor of this only if the advantage accruing directly for us, or for the historical development of the country along the path of economic and political revolution, is unquestionable and is worth-while striving after. Another obligatory condition is that the proletarian class character of the Party shall not thereby be brought into question. That for me is the absolute limit.” * (My italics – D.Z.M.)

* Bolshevik, No. 21, 1932, p. 84.

Strengthening the class character of the party, raising the class consciousness of the proletariat, raising its fighting capacity, strengthening its positions, weakening the position of the class enemy – such are the criteria which Engels regarded as essential in deciding the question of whether this or that compromise was permissible.

These tactics are profoundly hostile to the policy of class cooperation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie pursued by international Social-Democracy, for that policy robbed the party of its class character, it strengthened the position of the bourgeoisie and weakened and demoralized the proletariat. These revolutionary tactics have nothing in common with the policy of the “lesser evil”, with voting for Hindenburg, with forming a bloc with Bruening; for, in pursuing the policy of the “lesser evil”, Social-Democracy surrendered to the bourgeoisie one proletarian position after the other, it paved the way for fascism, and prepared for the defeat of the proletariat.

Thirty years later, Lenin enlarged on this idea of Engels on the basis of the experience of the three Russian revolutions, and taught the young Communist Parties flexible and mobile tactics that would enable them to overcome their “Left-wing” sickness and to take up the struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie in a really Bolshevik manner. He wrote:

“To carry on a war for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie, which is a hundred times more difficult, prolonged and complicated than the most stubborn of ordinary wars between states, and to refuse beforehand to maneuver, to utilize the conflict of interests (even though temporary) among one’s enemies, to refuse to temporize and compromise with possible (even though transient, unstable, vacillating and conditional) allies – is not this ridiculous in the extreme?… It is possible to conquer this most powerful enemy only by exerting our efforts to the utmost and by necessarily, thoroughly, carefully, attentively and skilfully taking advantage of every ‘fissure’, however small, in the ranks of our enemies, of every antagonism of interests among the bourgeoisie of the various countries, among the various groups or types of bourgeoisie in the various countries; by taking advantage of every opportunity, however small, of gaining an ally among the masses, even though this ally be temporary, vacillating, unstable, unreliable and conditional. Those who do not understand this do not understand even a grain of Marxism and of scientific modern socialism in general.” *

* Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism, an Infantile Disorder, p 52. International Publishers, New York.

Comrades, if you ponder over these words of Engels and Lenin as applied to our epoch, to the policy which our Congress is now indicating for the ensuing period, you will understand that these tactics, tested by the experience of the whole of the world labor movement during many decades, now create for the Communist International, for all its Sections, great opportunities for emerging out of the agitational-propaganda period of our development and for becoming mighty factors in the whole of contemporary political life in the various countries and throughout the world. But it is precisely because we are now entering the broad road of great mass policy, because we are preparing to count, not in hundreds of thousands, but in millions, because we are beginning to bring under our influence those strata which only yesterday were in the ranks of Social-Democracy, or else were outside of politics altogether, because of this, the Sections of the Comintern must be particularly alert to possible Right and opportunist distortions of our mass policy, distortions which will retard the growth of our influence among the masses and the growth of the fighting capacity of the proletariat, and thereby retard the maturing of the conditions for the proletarian revolution. And here we must once again turn to our teacher Engels and recall the struggle he waged against opportunism, the ruthless, untameable struggle to which he devoted half a century of his life as a political fighter.

Engels saw right through the petty bourgeois who in scores of different disguises tried to entrench himself in the labor movement, weakening it and disorganizing it. With unerring aim and inimitable sarcasm, Marx and Engels tore the mask from the face of this philistine; they exposed the philistine grimaces beneath the mask of free and easy geniality. This philistine has the right to commit any despicable act because he considers himself to be “honestly” despicable. Engels wrote:

“Even stupidity becomes a virtue because it is the irrefutable evidence of firmness of conviction. Every hidden motive is supported by the conviction of intrinsic honesty, and the more determinedly he plots some kind of deception or petty meanness, the more simple and frank does he appear to be.”

This philistine is a

“…drainpipe in which all the contradictions of philosophy, democracy and every description of phrasemongering are mixed up in a monstrous manner.” *

* Marx and Engels Archive, Book V, p. 329.

While upholding revolutionary Marxism, Engels fiercely attacked German reformists, the French Possibilists, the British Fabians and the Ultra-Lefts. At the same time, with exceptional firmness and patience, he criticized and corrected the opportunist mistakes of the leaders of the proletarian parties such as Wilhelm Liebknecht and Bebel, Lafargue and Guesde.

This tireless struggle against opportunism, and particularly against conciliation with opportunism, caused some of the leaders whom he attacked to dub Engels “the rudest man in Europe”. All of us should learn from Engels how to be passionately “rude” in the interests of the party, in the interests of the revolution.

No one was so eager to unite the vanguard of the working class in the ranks of a united workers’ party as Engels was. He wanted to do that as much as we want to do it today. But he knew and saw that unity not based on principles would weaken the working class. Of what use would a mass party be for the proletariat if it served as a lasso, dragging it into cooperation with the bourgeoisie? In 1882 he welcomed the split in the workers’ party in France from Mallone and Bruse who had abandoned the class struggle, had sacrificed the proletarian class character of the movement and had made a rupture inevitable.

“All the better,” he said. “Unity is an excellent thing as long as it is possible, but there are things that are more important than unity.”

I think it is necessary to recall these words of Engels precisely at the present time when here at this Congress we are holding aloft the banner of the political unity of the international working class.

Through the medium of Comrade Dimitroff’s report, the Congress has very strongly emphasized its will to fight for a united workers’ party in every country, for a united workers’ world party. But such a party can be created only on the basis of unity of principles and not on the basis of a putridbloc between petty-bourgeois and proletarian elements after the model of the Second International. We would remind the thousands, tens and hundreds of thousands of Social-Democratic workers who regard themselves as followers and disciples of Marx and Engels that we and they would be committing a crime against our class if we re-created that fictitious “unity” which led to the catastrophe of August 4, 1914, to the bloc between a section of the working class and the bourgeoisie, and which, in the last analysis, facilitated the victory of fascism. The working class does not need unity of this kind! We want the unity for which our teacher Friedrich Engels fought all his life; we shall exert every effort to achieve this unity, and we shall achieve it.

But this unity can be achieved only by a party which by its increasing activities wins the confidence of the masses, by a party which overcomes schematism and vulgarization in its approach to the mass movement. It is for such a party that Engels fought. He ruthlessly scourged passivity and inactivity as among the most pernicious forms of opportunism. In his correspondence with the workers’ leaders he tirelessly repeated: the Party must act under all circumstances. It must participate in the whole of the political life of the country and take advantage of every event in home and foreign politics for active intervention; it must be with the masses everywhere and always, at the opportune moment it must issue real fighting slogans that shall emanate from the masses themselves, and it must issue new ones as the movement grows. This is the main tactical rule for the proletarian party upon which Engels insisted.

The party which exists in the close and narrow circle of its immediate supporters, which stands outside of the things with which the people are concerned, which cannot clutch at the things that are exciting the masses at the given moment, which is unable to generalize the complaints and desires of the people in distinct, intelligible slogans, such a party cannot take the lead of mass movements.

Engels was particularly sharp in his attacks upon those who failed to be on the spot at decisive moments of the mass struggle. In this connection Engels quite openly said that the party which misses such a decisivemoment, which fails to intervene, will be dead and buried for some time.

Often, in practice, passivity and inactivity, masked by “Left” phrases, is concealed by playing at conspiracies, playing at exclusive underground organizations and degenerates into Carbonarism, which is alien to the spirit of the workers’ party. On the other hand, parliamentary cretinism, adaptation to bourgeoislegality at all costs, denying the significance of illegal forms of organization, and fear of violence also paralyze the fighting capacity of the working class.

Engels fought against the manifestations of both forms of passivity. He taught the proletarian parties to take every possible advantage of bourgeois legality for the purpose of gathering the forces of the working class, of preparing them for the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat and thereby transforming bourgeois legality into a weapon of the struggle against the bourgeoisie. He exposed the Bakunin-Blanquist conspiracy tactics, which the international police utilized against the workers’ organizations, and urged the need for particular vigilance in regard to spies and provocateurs who penetrated the workers’ organizations. At the same time he spared no blows against those Social-Democrats who, toadying to the government, declared that the workers’ party was not a party of revolutionary violence.

“To attack violence,” he wrote in indignation, “as something which is impermissible in itself, when we know that, in the final analysis, we shall achieve nothing without violence …” *

* Marx and Engels Archive, Vol. I (VI), p. 78.

Engels insisted that proletarian revolutionaries must be able to utilize all forms of struggle against the class enemy. Under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin the Bolshevik Party applied these tenets of Engels in the course of twenty-five years of enormous experience in combining legal with illegal forms of work which, as is known, lay at the basis of the organizational decisions of the Second Congress of the Communist International.

Have our Sections made the utmost use of these tenets? No, they have not. Many comrades are convinced that under the fascist terror there is no room for “legal” footholds, for open manifestations of the labor movement, for developing a broad mass struggle. But fascism is compelled to create a mass basis, to create its mass organizations, to resort to social demagogy. Hence, it is the duty of the Communists to penetrate the mass fascist organizations, to turn the fascist social demagogy against the fascist dictatorship and thus to undermine the mass basis of fascism. It will be impossible to force our way to the masses under these conditions unless we carry on daily and systematic work in the fascist mass organizations and unless we combine legal with illegal methods of work.

At the same time it is wrong to think that we do not need illegal organizations in those countries where the labor movement is legal. Victimization by employers in all countries compels us to establish secret nuclei in the factories illegally. The growth of the menace of fascism compels the “legal” Communist Parties to adopt measures in preparation for the possible transition to an illegal position in order to avoid repeating the mistake committed by the Italian and German Communist Parties. We must remember that the united front movement spontaneously “legalizes” the most hunted and persecuted Communist Parties, that the mass struggle brings the most deeply underground organizations to the surface.

One of the varieties of the schematism and vulgarization against which Engels fought is the mechanical application of fundamental, tactical propositions without taking into consideration the specific conditions prevailing in each separate country.

We are the world party of the proletariat, the party built on the basis of genuine political and organizational unity, a party which sums up and generalizes the whole experience of the world labor movement, a party which pursues genuinely international tactics based on the unity of interests of the international proletariat. But these international tactics do not preclude variations created by the specific features of development of individual countries. The internationalization of the experience of the world labor movement does not mean making stereotypes equally applicable to the labor movement in all countries. Those who think that it is sufficient to have a few ready-made formulae in one’s pocket to apply to the whole world labor movement, do not internationalize the labor movement, but freeze it and hinder its development.

Engels was a classic example of the genuine international leader who knew to perfection the secret of properly combining the international character of our Communist movement with the ability to take into account its specific national features. He was closely connected with the German labor movement; he was excellently informed of all the details of the French labor movement; from 1844 onwards he took a most active part in the struggles of the British proletariat; he made a deep study of the American labor movement (he himself traveled across the ocean); he was exceptionally well informed about the conditions and progress of the proletarian struggle in Italy and in the Pyrenees; he was greatly interested in the revolutionary movement in Russia, the West Slav and the South Slav countries.

It is precisely this profound knowledge of the conditions in separate countries that enabled Engels properly to lead the workers’ parties in these countries, and to be a genuine leader and organizer of the proletarian International.

“The emancipation of the Italian peasant,” he wrote to Bovio, “will not take place in the form in which the emancipation of the English factory workers will be brought about; but the more both utilize the forms corresponding to their respective conditions, the more will things correspond to the substance of the matter.”

Such are Engels’ main tactical tenets in the light of our great epoch, in the light of the tasks that confront our Congress.

Engels taught us, in defining our tactics, to approach the vital revolutionary processes in the lives of the peoples not with cut-and-dried schemes, not with ready-made scales, but on the basis of a profound study of the disposition of class forces in every single country at every given moment. He taught us to take into consideration the position of each separate class, of each of its groups, to study the sum total of all class antagonisms and methods by which the proletariat may take advantage of them, and unfailingly to bear in mind the international situation as a whole.

Engels taught us to be a fighting, active party, both when the tide of the labor movement is in flood and when it is temporarily at ebb, and to be able to find that special question which deeply concerns the masses and enables the Party to extend and strengthen its contacts with the working class and all other toilers. He taught us to join a movement not only after it has started, but to prepare it, to organize it and, by winning the confidence of the masses, to lead it. He urged us to respond to every event that excites the masses, to develop great movements into decisive battles and thereby transform the Party into a force that will gain prestige among all the toilers and increase their confidence in their own strength.

Engels taught us not to become conceited at the moment of victory and not to lose heart at the moment of temporary defeat. He taught us not to be afraid to start from the beginning if we are defeated, but to start with the firm conviction that we must achieve victory at the second attempt.

Engels taught us to pursue a mass policy that corresponds to the vital interests of the broadest masses of the toilers, that helps to rally the masses of the peasants and the toilers in the towns around the proletariat. In the present situation this means, first of all, the establishment of a people’s front against fascism in capitalist countries, and a front of the peoples against war in the international arena.

Engels taught us to make a sober estimate of the situation, not to rush ahead before the masses have been drawn into the movement, but at the same time not to drag at the tail of these masses; not to adapt our tactics to the most backward sections of them; to be able by means of determined and rapid action to sweep these masses forward, consolidate every success of the movement and take that success as the starting point for fresh successes.

Engels taught us to fight for every inch of ground won by the working class, to take advantage of every antagonism in the camp of the enemy, never to sacrifice the class character of the Party and the aim of strengthening the proletariat, to be in all the organizations in which the masses of the workers are to be found, and to utilize illegal and legal forms of struggle, which, in the present conditions, means strengthening the illegal organizations by extending their legal influence among the masses and extending this influence by strengthening the illegal organizations.

We are living and fighting in an incomparably more complicated situation than that which existed in Engels’ time. But Engels’ rich tactical legacy still retains its significance in this new situation. The Communists will utilize this legacy for a long time to come yet, and they will apply the tenets of Engels in a Bolshevik manner.

Does this mean that these tenets are sufficient for the purpose of determining our tactics? Of course not. Owing to historical conditions, Engels, like Marx, was unable, and did not create a complete science of the strategy and tactics of the revolutionary proletariat. But at the basis of this science created by the genius of Lenin and Stalin lie the remarkable ideas of strategy and tactics which the great founders of Communism had developed and applied to the utmost extent they were able to.

III

We Continue the Work of Engels

We communists are the continuers of Engels’ work.

The great and invincible strength of the revolutionary doctrines he and Marx created lies in that it lives and develops together with the fighting proletariat, that it is becoming enriched with its new experiences and sharpened in the struggle against its enemies.

The leaders of the Second International proved incapable of developing Marxism further. They did not accept it as the doctrine of Marx and Engels, as a guide to the revolutionary action of the proletariat, as the doctrine of the necessity of preparing the masses for the violent overthrow of the rule of the bourgeoisie, for the abolition of classes in general. Some of the leaders of the Second International revised Marxism, “supplemented” it with the assertion that the development of capitalism is not accompanied by the intensification of class antagonisms, but, on the contrary, by their diminution. Others, while admitting the correctness of the fundamental propositions of Marxism in words, transformed these propositions into a dogma which justified conciliation with the realities of capitalism, justified support of reformist practices. These people called themselves Marxists; but they mutilated Marxism, vulgarized and extracted from it its revolutionary substance. In this way the theory and practice of the Second International more and more reproduced all the vulgar, petty-bourgeois wisdom against which Engels fought all his life. The leaders and ideologists of the Second International are not the continuers of the work of Engels, but of the work of his enemies.

Engels departed from us in the middle of the ‘nineties. This was exactly the time when Lenin – whose name has become a guiding star for the whole of the international proletariat – started his revolutionary work.

Marx and Engels lived, worked and fought in the pre-monopolist epoch of capitalism, when, in the main, the development of bourgeois society was proceeding in an ascending line, in the epoch of national wars and the consummation of the bourgeois revolutions in Western Europe, in the epoch when England still possessed world commercial and industrial supremacy and when the German proletariat was still the vanguard of the world proletariat, in the epoch when the labor movement was only just taking shape as an independent political movement and when proletarian parties were only just being formed. That epoch provided Marx and Engels with all the necessary elements with which to arm the proletariat with the mighty weapon of revolutionary theory.

But Marx and Engels never claimed to forecast the exact route of the proletarian revolution, they never prescribed precise tactical rules for it, or claimed to have answers for problems that were insoluble in the conditions of their epoch.

Engels, who had devoted brilliant pages to the development of socialism from utopia to a science, more than once poured ridicule on those who, departing from the soil of science, tried to say wise things about the “architectonics of future society”. More than once he wrote that he calmly left this to the “people of future society who at all events will not be more stupid than we are”.

Concerning Marx’s critique of capitalism Engels wrote that “the results of this critique also contain the embryo of so-called solutions, insofar as the latter are at all possible at the present time”. This, of course, also applies entirely to Engels’ own works. And these brilliant ideas, sketches, embryo, which the pedants and philistines of the Second International overlooked in their blindness, were further developed and transformed into a harmonious doctrine by the great Bolsheviks Lenin and Stalin.

Lenin did not regard Marxism is a dogma, but as a guide to revolutionary action. As far back as the end of the last century, in connection with the fight around the question of the Party program, Lenin wrote:

“We do not in the least regard Marxist theory as something complete and inviolable, on the contrary, we are convinced that it only laid the corner-stone of the science which the Socialists must advance further in all directions if they do not want to lag behind life.”

The gigantic growth of capitalist monopolies was already foretold in Capital. In Engels’ last works (for example in the sketch of his work on the Stock Exchange), attempts are already made to characterize a number of new phenomena in the economics of capitalism. But Engels died before he was able to bring out the specific features of the imperialist stage of capitalism that was already being ushered in in the ‘nineties.

Monopoly, decaying capitalism; the unprecedented intensification of all capitalist contradictions; the general crisis of capitalism, the starting point of which was the World War in 1914-18, and the victory of the October Revolution, which ushered in a new epoch in the history of mankind; socialist construction and the victory of socialism in the U.S.S.R. – these are the new factors which Engels was not and could not have been aware of, these are the new factors which the Marxist had to generalize theoretically and thereby arm the revolutionary proletariat for its future struggle.

In his interview with the American workers’ delegation, Stalin, in a few pages, gave a condensed characterization of the contribution which Lenin made to the treasury of Marxism. These few condensed pages ought to be read and re-read, they are equivalent to many volumes. In them Stalin gives a resume of the content of the Leninist stage in the development of Marxism: the analysis of imperialism as the last phase of capitalism; the further development of the core of Marxism, i.e., the doctrine of the proletarian dictatorship; the development of the question of the forms and methods of socialist construction in the period of the proletarian dictatorship; the creation of a harmonious system of the hegemony of the proletariat; the development of the national-colonial question as the question of the reserves of the proletarian revolution; the creation of the doctrine of the Party.

To Lenin belongs the merit of having defined the position of the Communists in imperialist wars, a position which he recorded in the slogan – transform the imperialist war into civil war. And this must be all the more emphasized for the reason that attempts have been made to make it appear that the founder of this slogan was Engels. This is not true, comrades, Engels rendered too many services to the world labor movement to make it necessary to ascribe to him what he never said. Engels did not live in the epoch of imperialism; he had to lay down the positions of international socialism principally in regard to national wars. Had the Bolsheviks approached the works of Engels of the ‘nineties in a dogmatic manner they would not have been able to develop the Marxian position on the question of imperialist wars in the way Lenin did. Lenin, and Lenin alone, gave what was the new in principle and the only correct line on the question of the character of imperialist war, aswell as on the question of the position the proletariat should adopt towards it. And it is precisely because we honor the memory of our great teacher Engels that we are opposed to his being transformed into an icon, that we are opposed to hushing up or glossing over, historical truth.

Lenin’s work, which raised Marxism to a new stage, is being continued in all directions by Stalin. In the works, speeches and all the activities of Stalin and of the international Bolshevik Party which he leads, the Marxist-Leninist theory of which Engels was one of the founders, lives, grows and is enriched.

Stalin developed Marxism in one of the fundamental questions of our epoch, in the question of building socialism in a single country. The Bolsheviks did not clutch atEngels’ old formulae which were suitable for a different stage, left behind long ago. Under the leadership of Stalin they utterly routed the Trotskyists and Zinovievists who tried to utilize these formulae against the proletarian revolution. Lenin showed that with uneven, spasmodic, capitalist development under the conditions of imperialism, the victory of socialism was possible in a single country. Stalin developed and upheld this theory and put it into practice.

At the Fifteenth Conference of the C.P.S.U. Stalin said:

“What Engels in the ‘forties of the last century, under the conditions of pre-monopolist capitalism, regarded as impracticable and impossible in a single country, became practicable and possible in our country under the conditions of imperialism. Of course, had Engels been alive today he would not have clung to the old formula. On the contrary, he would have greeted our revolution wholeheartedly and would have said: ‘To hell with the old formula, long live the victorious revolution in the U.S.S.R.'”

Neither in the Critique of the Gotha Program, nor in the works of Engels, nor in Lenin’s State and Revolution were the concrete problems of the first phase of Communism raised which Stalin raised and solved with the greatest boldness and profundity.

We began to build socialism in a poverty-stricken and ruined country which had inherited from the bourgeoisie a low technical economic level, in a country surrounded by capitalist states. Moreover, we began to build socialism for the first time in the history of mankind.

And Stalin, developing further the doctrine of Marx, Engels and Lenin, creatively put it into living practice; for the first time he concretely drew up a single and profoundly-thought-out plan for the socialist offensive in our country; he worked out the problem of socialist industrialization as a condition of victory for socialism in the U.S.S.R.; he worked out the problem of collective farming as the road to the socialist reformation of the peasantry under proletarian leadership; he worked out the problem of the stages and methods of abolishing the capitalist elements (from the policy of restricting these elements to the policy of liquidating the kulaks as a class); he worked out the problem of the organization of labor under the conditions of socialist construction and in the struggle against petty-bourgeois equalitarianism; he worked out the problem of the conditions for and ways of abolishing the survivals of capitalism in the minds of men and of building a new, socialist culture. Stalin showed that building socialism meant, first of all, strengthening the proletarian dictatorship; and that strengthening the proletarian dictatorship, and successes in socialist construction, cause proletarian democracy to come out in full bloom. And the Bolsheviks, led by Stalin, transformed all these theoretical propositions of Stalin into flesh and blood.

Such works and speeches of Stalin as his reports at Party Congresses, as his speech at the Conference of Marxian Agrarians, as his famous Six Conditions, as his new collective farm rules, as the changes in the Soviet Constitution he has proposed, as well as his speech on the new people who have mastered technique – in short, every pronouncement Stalin makes is not only a landmark on the road of socialist construction in the U.S.S.R., it is also a landmark in the enrichment and deepening of Marxist-Leninist theory. These works are the material from which the advanced workers of all countries have been and are acquiring their knowledge.

Stalin gives an example of the policy of the proletarian state which is building classless socialist society under the conditions of capitalist encirclement. Stalin works out the principles of the policy of the world proletarian party – the Communist International – amidst the conditions of the general crisis of capitalism and the struggle between two systems, i.e., capitalism and socialism. Basing himself on the experience of the Chinese Revolution, Stalin worked out the problem of the concrete paths by which the national revolutionary movements grow into the Soviet revolution.Stalin raised the doctrine of Marx, Engels, Lenin concerning the transition period from capitalism to socialism to a new stage.

Lenin and Stalin did not confine themselves to certain sketches of Marx and Engels on problems of strategy and tactics. In his Foundations of Leninism, the handbook of proletarian revolutionaries all over the world, Stalin wrote that only:

“…In the period of direct action by the proletariat, in the period of the proletarian revolution, when the question of the overthrow of the bourgeoisie became a question of immediate practice, when the question of the reserves of the proletariat (strategy), became one of the most burning questions, when all forms of struggle and of organization, parliamentary end extra-parliamentary (tactics), assumed definite shape – only in this period could a complete strategy and detailed tactics for the struggle of the proletariat be elaborated.” *

* Stalin, Leninism, Vol. I, p. 73, International Publishers, New York.

The merit of Lenin and Stalin lies in that they did not confine themselves to restoring certain tactical propositions of Marx and Engels, but developed them further and created the strategy and tactics of Leninism – the complete science of the leadership of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat.


Forty years have passed since the death of Friedrich Engels. What an enormously long path the world labor movement, the whole of mankind, has traversed during these years. In place of the old tsarist despotism we have the great country that is building socialism. The old Chinese Wall is collapsing; the four hundred million population of China has been set in motion. The banner of the Soviet revolution is flying over six provinces of China inhabited by a hundred million people. Influenced by the successes of socialism in the U.S.S.R., a powerful movement towards socialism is going on among the toilers all over the capitalist world. The bourgeoisie of the capitalist countries are devastating whole countries and cities, are re-opening the medieval dungeons for the enslaved peoples, are sowing a storm of hatred and anger among all the oppressed. The First International of Marx and Engels no longer exists and the Second International is crumbling like a piece of rotten fabric. But the men of labor are more and more closely rallying around the Third, Communist, International, the International of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin, the International of victorious socialism in the U.S.S.R., the International of the world proletarian revolution.

“I think,” wrote Engels in 1874, “that the next International – after Marx’s writings have had some years of influence – will be directly Communist and will openly proclaim our principles.”* (My italics – D.Z.M.)

* The Correspondence of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, p. 330, International Publishers, New York.

This Communist International is represented in this hall. It embraces over three score of countries, it has millions of adherents who are under the influence of the Communist Parties among all nations and races in all parts of the globe. The doctrine of Marx and Engels rules unchallenged over one-sixth of the globe, backed by a powerful state, by a socialist economy with wealth amounting to billions; it is backed by a country with a hundred and seventy million population. In all countries this doctrine is breaking the chains of the slaves in order that it may embrace the whole world.

Armed with this doctrine, the Communists, in spite of terror, torture and persecution, are organizing and rallying the proletarians, the toilers, the colonial slaves for the struggle, and are leading them to victory. The Communist International has become mankind’s guiding star and anchor of salvation from poverty, fascism and war.

Long live the Communist International, the great invincible Party of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin!

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on the Mongolian People’s Republic

Flag2

Mongolian People’s Republic

(Bugd Nairamdakh Mongol Ard Uls).

The Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR) is a state in Central Asia bounded by the USSR and the People’s Republic of China. Area, 1,565,000 sq km. Population, 1,377,900 (early 1974). The capital is Ulan Bator. Administratively, the country is divided into aimaks; Ulan Bator and Darkhan form separate administrative units (see Table 1).

Table1

The MPR is a socialist state and a people’s republic. The present constitution, adopted on July 6, 1960, proclaims that all power in the republic belongs to the working people. Socialist ownership of the means of production and the socialist economic system constitute the economic basis of the social system.

The highest organ of state power and the sole legislative body is the Great People’s Khural, popularly elected by secret ballot for a four-year term on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage. One deputy is elected for every 4,000 inhabitants. The Great People’s Khural ratifies and amends the constitution, establishes the basic principles of domestic and foreign policy, and approves national economic plans, the state budget, and reports on the implementation of the plans. Between sessions of the Great People’s Khural, the highest state body is the Presidium, elected by the Khural and headed by a chairman, deputy chairmen, and a secretary. The highest executive and administrative body is the government of the MPR, the Council of Ministers, which is designated by the Great People’s Khural.

The local governing bodies in the aimaks, cities, and urban districts are khurals of deputies popularly elected for three-year terms. The khurals elect executive bodies from among the deputies. All those citizens who have attained the age of 18 may vote.

The judicial system of the MPR includes the Supreme Court, aimak and city courts, and special courts for criminal cases involving the military. There are also aimak circuit courts and district courts. The Supreme Court and the special courts are elected by the Great People’s Khural for a four-year term, and the other courts are elected by the corresponding khurals. People’s assessors participate in the consideration of cases. Supervision over the observance of legality is exercised by the procurator of the MPR, who is appointed for a four-year term by the Great People’s Khural, and by aimak, city, district, and military procurators appointed by the procurator of the MPR.

Terrain. The MPR is situated in steppe, semi desert, and desert regions of the temperate zone in northeastern Central Asia. A large part of the country lies at elevations of 1,000 to 2,000 m, with mountains predominating in the west and northwest and high plains in the east. The most important ranges are the Mongolian Altai, reaching 4,362 m on Mount Munkh-Khairkhan Ula and stretching for 1,000 km; the Gobi Altai; and the Khangai. The Khentei Upland occupies the central part of the country. The mountains have gentle, smooth slopes and crests, and their bases are often covered by thick talus mantles. Sharp peaks occur only in the highest ranges. The Gobi, one of the world’s largest deserts,extends into the country from the south and southeast. Several isolated volcanic massifs tower above the desert in the southeast, forming the Dariganga volcanic region. In the north and the northwest there are several vast, relatively deep intermontane basins and valleys, the largest of which are the Great Lakes Depression, the Valley of Lakes, and the depression occupied by the valleys of the Orkhon and Selenga rivers. The eastern part of the country consists of plains descending toward the northeast. In the southern and southeastern parts of the Gobi and the Great Lakes Depression, areas covered by sand total about 30,000 sq km.

Geological structure and minerals Mongolia belongs to the Central Asian system, part of the Ural-Mongolian Geosynclinal Belt. The system is divided into two distinct regions, a northern Caledonian and a southern Hercynian. There aretwo types of Paleozoic geosynclinal structures: those in which basic volcanism has played the leading role and those with sialic volcanism. Orogenic Molasse formations are associated with superimposed structures. Granitoids are extensively developed. Tectonics are of the foldblock type, with plutonic fractures, frequently accompanied by ultrabasites; the linear structures of the south are isolated. During the Paleozoic the geosynclines migrated and underwent rejuvenation from north to south.

Mesozoic and Cenozoic formations, filling the downwarps and grabens, are represented by volcanic and sedimentary rocks in the east and amagmatic strata in the west. Remains of dinosaurs have been found in the continental rocks of the Mesozoic.

Important minerals include deposits of coal in the Upper Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks of superimposed depressions and grabens (Tabun-Tologoi, Sharyn-Gol, Nalaikha). There are deposits of iron ore in Lower Paleozoic siliceous and siliceous-volcanic formations (Tamryn-Gol, Baiangol). The largest of the explored deposits of tungsten are at Buren-Tsogt and Ikh Khairkhan. Tungsten, copper, and molybdenum ores (Erdenituin-Obo) and deposits of fluorite (Berkh) are associated with the Mesozoic metallogenic age. Phosphorite deposits associated with carbonate deposits of the Upper Riphean and Vend have been discovered around Lake Khubsugul. The country also has deposits of gold, tin, zinc, piezoelectric quartz, asbestos, gypsum, granite, and other minerals.

Climate. The climate is dry, markedly continental, and temperate, and there are great seasonal and daily fluctuations in temperature. Winters are cold and sunny, with little snowfall. January temperatures average35°C (minimum,50°C) in the north and10°C in the south. Summers are warm and short. The average July temperature ranges from 18° to 26°C, reaching a maximum of 40°C. The north receives 200–300 mm of precipitation annually and the extreme south (especially the southwest), less than 100 mm. The mountains receive as much as 500 mm of precipitation annually, with the maximum occurring in summer. There are glaciers in the Mongolian Altai, and sporadic permafrost occurs in the northern part of the country.

Rivers and lakes. The largest river, the Selenga (flowing for about 600 km in the MPR), drains into the Arctic Ocean, and the large Kerulen and Onon rivers drain into the Pacific. The largest rivers of the interior are the Dzabkhan and the Kobdo. The annual runoff totals about 30 cu km. The rivers are fed chiefly by rain and snow; floods occur in spring and summer. Many large lakes are found in the tectonic depressions in the west. The largest saline lakes are Ubsu-Nur, covering 3,350 sq km, and Khirgis-Nur, and the principal freshwater lakes are Khubsugul, with an area of 2,620 sq km and a maximum depth of 238 m, and Khara-Us-Nur. There is year-round navigation on Lake Khubsugul and in the lower reaches of the Orkhon and Selenga rivers.

Soils and flora. Chestnut soils cover more than 60 percent of the country’s area, and brown soils with considerable salinization are also widespread, chiefly in the Gobi Desert. Chernozems are found in the mountains, and meadow soils occur along river valleys and in lake basins. More than 2,000 plant species have been identified. The plains of the north and northeast support grass and forb steppes of feather grass, Leymus chinensis, Koeleria, wheatgrass, Stipasplendens, and wormwood, with an admixture of caragana in places. Vegetation in the semideserts and deserts of the south and southeast includes feather grass, Stipa splendens, and saltworts. Tracts of saxaul are found in these mideserts. The most northerly desert region on earth is in the Great Lakes Depression. Forest steppe landscapes are characteristic of the mountain regions, the northern and northwestern slopes support forests of larch, cedar, pine,spruce, and birch. On the Khentei Upland and in the mountains adjoining Lake Khubsugul there are tracts of coniferous taiga. Forests occupy about 10 percent of the country’s territory. Groves of poplars, willows, and bird cherries grow along river valleys.

Fauna. There are more than 100 species of mammals in the MPR. The most common animals are rodents, including marmots, gerbils, jerboas, hamsters, and field mice. Tolai hares and pikas are found everywhere, and muskrats have been acclimatized. Sables, squirrels, flying squirrels, and Siberian chipmunks inhabit the forests. Ungulates include the wild ass and several antelopes—the Persian gazelle, Mongolian gazelle, and saiga. The forests harbor roe deer and maral, and elk and musk deer are found in the Khentei Upland. Wolves and foxes are numerous. Commercially valuable animals include the Mongolian gazelle, boar, lynx, squirrel, sable, and marmot. Such animals as the wild camel, Przhevalsky’s horse in the Gobi Desert, and the Gobi bear are almost unknown outside Mongolia. Taiga flora and fauna are protected in the Bogdo-Ula (Choibalsan-Ula) Preserve in the Khentei Upland, near Ulan Bator.

Natural regions. The Mongolian Altai has predominantly mountain steppe landscapes. The Great Lakes Depression consists of a series of plains occupied by semideserts and deserts, a melkosopochnik (region of low hills), and numerous lakes. The Khentei-Khangai region has mountain steppe and forest steppe landscapes. The East Mongolian region consists chiefly of steppe plains combined with stretches of melkosopochnik and volcanic uplands. The Gobiregion is dominated by semidesert and desert plains (with some depressions and a melkosopochnik ), covered in places with pebbles and rock debris.

REFERENCES

Amantov, V. A., et al. “Osnovnye cherty tektoniki Mongolii.” In Orogenicheskie poiasa. Moscow, 1968.
Mongol’skaia Narodnaia Respublika. Moscow, 1971.
Geologiia Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1973.
Murzaev, E. M. Mongol’skaia Narodnaia Respublika, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1952.
Bespalov, N. D. Pochvy Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1951.
Iunatov, A. A. Osnovnye cherty rastitel’nogo pokrova Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Bannikov, A. G. Mlekopitaiushchie Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1954.
Kuznetsov, N. T. Vody Tsentral’noi Azii. Moscow, 1968.
Gungaadash, B. Mongoliia segodnia. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from Mongolian.)

E. M. MURZAEV (physical geography) and N. G. MARKOVA (geological structure and minerals)

Khalkha Mongols, numbering 901,200 persons (1969 census), constitute 75.3 percent of the population. Other Mongolian-speaking groups—Derbets (34,700), Baits (25,500), Zakhchins (15,000), Olets (6,900), and Torguts (7,100)—have joined with the Khalkhas to form a socialist nation. Khalkhas and the related Dariganga (20,600) live primarily in the central and eastern regions of the country, and the Derbets, Baits, Zakhchins, Olets, and Torguts inhabit the western regions. In the north live Mongolian-speaking Buriats (29,800), and the northwest is inhabited by Turkic-speaking Kazakhs (62,800; almost all live in the Kazakh national Baian-Ulegei Aimak), Tuvinians (15,700), and a small number of Khotons. Russians (22,100) are concentrated in the cities and in several rural settlements in the Selenga, Central, Khubsugul, and Bulgan aimaks. The official language is Mongolian. Believers among the population are Lamaist Buddhists. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

The country has a high natural population growth rate, averaging 2.8 percent a year between 1963 and 1971. About 60 percent of the population is under 30 years of age. The work force numbered 507,000 persons in 1970, of whom 58.7 percent were employed in agriculture, as compared with 70.1 percent in 1960. There were 93,700 industrial workers in 1969, as compared with 14,800 in 1940. The social composition of the population has changed radically during the years of people’s rule. Between 1956 and 1969 the proportion of industrial and office workers and their families increased from 25.9 percent to 56.4 percent of the total population, and the proportion of members of agricultural associations and handicrafts cooperatives increased from 11.1 percent to 43.5 percent. Population density is very low, averaging less than one person per sq km; the population is particularly sparse in the Gobi. In 1972 about 54 percent of the population lived in rural areas and about 46 percent in cities. Between 1956 and 1971 the urban population grew from 183,000 to 604,000; urban dwellers account for about half the population in Selenga, Eastern, and East Gobi aimaks (52 percent, 49 percent, and 51.5 percent, respectively). The largest city is Ulan Bator (303,000 in 1973, including Nalaikha), and cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants are Darkhan, Choibalsan, Kobdo, Tsetserleg, and Muren.

The primitive communal system and the first states (to the 13th century A.D.). The earliest traces of human habitation in Mongolia date from the end of the Lower Paleolithic, about 200,000 to 100,000 years ago (sites in the southern Gobi regions). Upper Paleolithic sites in the central, Gobi, and eastern regions (40,000 to 12,000 years ago) indicate that a matriarchal clan system had evolved. In Neolithic times, from about the fifth to the third millennium B.C., the chief occupations were hunting and fishing. Agriculture probably arose in eastern and southern Mongolia in the late Neolithic and early Aeneolithic. Copper and bronze articles were produced between the second and the middle of the first millennium B.C., as exemplified by the Karasuk culture and the culture of “grave slabs” and “reindeer stones” (stelae depicting running reindeer).

At the end of the Bronze Age and beginning of the Iron Age (first millennium B.C.), the Mongol tribes took up nomadic livestock raising, and the patriarchal clan system developed. Private property appeared in the fourth and third centuries B.C. as livestock became the property of individual families, and barter was introduced. Tribes united to form confederations, whose social structure exhibited “democratic” features (the rise of chiefs and a military elite), attesting to the disintegration of the primitive communal system and the beginning of feudal society. The first tribal confederation in Mongolia was that of the proto-Mongol Hsiungnu (third century B.C. to the first century A.D.), whose material culture has become well known through excavations conducted in the 1920’s by Soviet archaeologists under the leadership of P. K. Kozlov and excavations by Mongolian archaeologists in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the first century A.D., the Hsiungnu confederation disintegrated and was succeeded by the Sienpi (Hsienpi) confederation. The process of feudalization continued between the fourth and tenth centuries in the Juan-Juan, Turkic, Uighur, and Kirghiz khanates.

The period of the Khitan state, also known as the Liao empire, which flourished from the tenth to the 12th centuries, constituted the final stage in the transition to feudalism. The Khitan state encompassed part of present day China as well as Mongolia. The collapse of the Liao empire in 1125 led to the formation of early feudal principalities and khanates in Mongolia. The basic means of production, the nomad grazing land (nutuk ), became the exclusive property of the feudal elite (noions), and the bulk of direct producers was gradually transformed into the feudally dependent arat class of nomadic herders. The creation of a strong centralized state capable of establishing and enforcing feudal relations by means of a powerful coercive apparatus became historically inevitable. Such a state was created at the beginning of the 13th century through the amalgamation of numerous Mongol tribes, khanates, and principalities under the noion Temiijin, who succeeded in subjugating rival noions.

Mongolia in the feudal period (13th to early 20th centuries). In 1206, Temiijin was proclaimed great khan, or Genghis Khan, at the great kurultai (assembly) of Mongol noions. His domestic policy was aimed at centralizing the state administration in the interest of the feudal lords and consolidating the autocratic rule of the khan. He sought to make land and pasture the property of the state, personified by the great khan. Land grants, called khubi, were bestowed on the noions in return for military service. These grants were similar to the Near Eastern iqta. Free movement by the direct producers was prohibited, which in effect bound them to the land. Genghis Khan created a unified army (comprising virtually the entire male population) under a centralized command and a personal aristocratic guard of many thousands, both based on harsh military discipline. The slightest insubordination or display of cowardice was punished by death.With the consolidation of feudalism, the formation of a single Mongol nation was completed.

Created in the interest of the noion class, which sought to enrich itself through feudal exploitation and the outright plunder of other countries, the military-feudal state embarked on a path of expansion and conquest. The wars of conquestof Genghis Khan, begun around 1210, were continued by his successors. Northern China, the Tangut state, Middle Asia, Transcaucasia, and Iran were conquered by the mid-13th century, and the Mongol-Tatar yoke was established inRus’. A vast state was formed, known as the Mongol feudal empire. The conquest of China was completed in the 1270’s by Kublai Khan, who founded the Yuan dynasty.

The wars of conquest of Genghis Khan and his successors, which brought great misery to the subjugated peoples and enriched the Mongol feudal lords, had a negative influence on the development of Mongolia itself and causeddecline in its productive forces. Lacking a unified economic base and torn by internal contradictions, the Mongol empire began to disintegrate. In 1368 the Mongol feudal lords were driven out of China, and the battle of Kulikovo in 1380 initiated the overthrow of the Mongol-Tatar yoke in Rus’. In the second half of the 14th century the Mongol state in Iran and Transcaucasia fell, and the conquerors met a similar fate in Middle Asia. The empire of the Mongol feudal lords disappeared in the last quarter of the 14th century.

In the ensuing period of feudal fragmentation the basic socioeconomic and political unit of society was the feudal domain— a khanate or principality (otok) belonging to a descendant of Genghis Khan as his hereditary property (umchi)State ownership of land and the system of conditional grants (khubi), which had existed during the empire, gave way to private feudal landed property and unconditional land grants (umchi). The unified early feudal Mongol state was replaced by a multitude of independent khanates and principalities requiring markets to barter livestock and animal products for the agricultural and handicrafts commodities of settled peoples. At this time China alone could provide this market, but it had little interest in such trade. Mongolia reached the point of economic crisis. The Mongol rulers attempted to impose barter on the Chinese authorities by force. The western Mongol (Oirat) feudal lords, separated from China by vast distances and by the eastern Mongol principalities, were at the greatest disadvantage. A protracted struggle over the trade routes to China developed between the feudal lords of eastern and western Mongolia.

Twice during the 15th century attempts were made to overcome feudal fragmentation and reestablish a unified Mongol state, first by the Oirat ruler Esen Khan (ruled 1440–55) and later by the Mongol Daian Khan (ruled c. 1479 to c. 1543).However, the states they created broke up immediately after their deaths, since the social and economic preconditions for unity were lacking. After the death of Daian Khan, Mongolia was divided into Southern and Northern Mongolia,separated by the Gobi Desert. Shortly thereafter, Northern Mongolia was subdivided into Western (Oirat) and Eastern (Khalkha) Mongolia with the boundary running along the Altai Mountains. This territorial division reflected the formation of distinct Mongolian-speaking feudal groups and nations that began in the 15th century. Subsequently these different groups followed separate lines of historical development. In the 16th century there were more than 200 khanates and principalities in the three parts of Mongolia.

In the last quarter of the 16th century the khans and princes of Southern Mongolia and later those of Khalkha were converted to Lamaist Buddhism. The princes of Western Mongolia were converted in the early 17th century, and shortlythereafter Lamaism became the state religion. Within a short time the church grew into a powerful feudal landowner.

The late 16th and early 17th centuries saw the expansion of the Manchu feudal lords, who in 1616 created a state headed by Nurhachi on the territory of present day northeastern China. Taking advantage of the fragmentation of Mongolia,the Manchu in 1634 destroyed the Chahar Khanate, the largest in Southern Mongolia, and in 1636 the noions of Southern Mongolia accepted the suzerainty of the Manchu ruler Abahai (ruled 1626–43). Southern Mongolia came to be called Inner Mongolia, in contrast to Khalkha Mongolia (present day MPR), which the Manchu called Outer Mongolia.

An Oirat feudal state arose in Western Mongolia in the 1630’s. In 1640 an assembly of Mongol khans and princes met in Dzungaria (Western Mongolia) with the aim of settling domestic feuds and unifying their forces to repel Manchu aggression. This unity proved to be short-lived. Especially acute was the conflict between the Oirat Khanate and the Khalkha noions, cleverly encouraged by the Manchu. In 1688 the Khalkha feudal lords, routed by the Oirat khan Galdan (ruled 1671–97), declared themselves subjects of the Ch’ing dynasty (1644–1911), founded by the Manchu after their conquest of China. The Manchu promised the Khalka protection against the Oirats. The Khalkha’s subjugation to the Manchu was confirmed in 1691 at the Dolonnor assembly of noions of Inner and Outer Mongolia. The Oirat Khanate, relying on the friendly neutrality of Russia, defended its independence in a stubborn struggle and remained the only independent Mongol state. From 1755 to 1758 a broad anti-Manchu liberation movement headed by the Oirat prince Amursana and the Khalkha noion Chingunzhab (Chingunjav) developed in Khalkha and Dzungaria. But the movement was suppressed because of its lack of organization and the vacillations of the noion class. In 1758 the Manchu destroyed the Oirat state, slaughtering more than half a million inhabitants. All of Mongolia came under the rule of Ch’ing China, and the Mongols found themselves under dual oppression, owing obligations not only to the noions and the church but also to the Manchu conquerors. To perpetuate its domination, the Ch’ing dynasty sought to isolate Mongolia from the outside world, primarily from Russia. Direct trade between Mongols and Russian merchants was banned by decrees issued in 1719 and 1722, and it was not resumed until the early 1860’s.

In the mid-19th century capitalist Europe “discovered” China. Mongolia was “discovered” at the same time and like China was rapidly drawn into the world market. Usurious Chinese capitalists poured into Mongolia. Unequal trade exhausted the already weak Mongolian economy. The large-scale livestock raising of the noions could not develop normally under these conditions, and income fell.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries feudal Mongolia became the object of imperialist struggle in the Far East. The main rivals were Japan and tsarist Russia, although Great Britain, the USA, and Germany were also interested. The Ch’ing dynasty began extensive colonization of Mongolia, eliminating the vestiges of the Mongol princes’ autonomy and placing the administration of the country in the hands of its own bureaucracy, supported by Manchu-Chinese garrisons. This policy provoked the resistance not only of the arats but also of the noions, whose position as a ruling class was thus undermined. The overthrow of Manchu domination and independence became nationwide goals. The Russian Revolution of 1905–07 and the growth of the revolutionary movement in China contributed to the revolutionary situation in Mongolia. Anti-Manchu uprisings became larger and more frequent. In the southwestern part of the Kobdo District of Outer Mongolia a movement led by the arat Aiushi assumed broad dimensions, but in general the struggle was directed by the noions.

In the summer of 1911 a secret assembly of high feudal lords convened in Urga (present day Ulan Bator) decided to send a secret mission to St. Petersburg to negotiate for Russian aid in creating an independent Mongolian state. But theRussian government advised Mongolia to seek autonomy within China, promising the noions Russian aid in return for privileges in the country. The overthrow of the Ch’ing dynasty and the formation of an independent Mongolian monarchy headed by the bogdo-gegen (the head of the church) were proclaimed in Urga in 1911. On Dec. 16, 1911, the bogdo-gegen formally assumed the khan’s throne. For more than three years the government established by the bogdo-gegen unsuccessfully sought recognition of Mongolian sovereignty by the Great Powers. In the end it was obliged to accept autonomy within China, which was confirmed by the Kiakhta Treaty of 1915.

Mongolia since 1917. THE VICTORY OF THE REVOLUTION OF 1921 AND THE ACHIEVEMENT OF GENERAL DEMOCRATIC GOALS. The victory of the October Revolution in Russia and the formation of the Soviet state in 1917 opened the way for the revolutionary renewal of Mongolia. The reactionary noion class, however, was hostile to the victory of the socialist revolution in Russia. The government of the bogdo-gegen closed the border with the RSFSR, refused to receive Soviet diplomats, maintained ties with representatives of the former tsarist regime, and in the spring of 1918 permitted Chinese militarist forces to enter the country. It concealed from the people the August 1919 appeal of the Soviet government to the people and government of Outer Mongolia in which the Soviet government renounced all unequal treaties between tsarist Russia and Mongolia, recognized Mongolia’s right to independence, and proposed establishment of diplomatic relations. In November 1919 the Mongolian government renounced autonomy, turning the country into a refuge for Russian White Guards and a base for anti-Soviet intervention, and in 1920–21 it supported the Japanese protege Baron R.F. Ungern von Sternberg, who occupied the country and established a military dictatorship.

Only a successful anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution could save the country from outright colonial enslavement. Preparations for such a revolution were begun. Progressive representatives of the arat class and progressive elements among other strata of the population, led by D. Sukhe-Bator and Kh. Choibalsan, established two underground revolutionary groups in Urga in the fall of 1919. In 1920 the two groups united to form a single revolutionary organization called the Mongolian People’s Party. Seeking to establish a direct link with Soviet Russia, the Mongolian revolutionaries sent representatives to Irkutsk and Moscow in the summer of 1920. Working under the terrorist regime of the Chinese and later the Ungern invaders, the members of the Mongolian revolutionary organization disseminated propaganda and organized the masses, laying the foundation for a people’s revolutionary army in preparation for a nationwide armed uprising.

The First Congress of the party, held in Kiakhta in March 1921, formally established the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP), called the Mongolian People’s Party prior to 1925. In accordance with the resolutions of the congress, the Provisional People’s Government was formed on March 13, and the staff of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army was confirmed; Sukhe-Bator was appointed commander in chief. On March 18 revolutionary troops liberated the city of Maimachen (present day Altan-Bulak) from the occupation forces. In June 1921, Red Army units entered Mongolia at the request of the Provisional People’s Government to assist in the struggle against Ungern’s bands. On July 6 the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army and Soviet troops liberated Urga. On July 10, 1921, the Central Committee of the party adopted a resolution to transfer central authority to a permanent people’s government.The revolution triumphed. Power was entrusted to people’s khurals, which became the political foundation of the Mongolian state. A dictatorship of the toiling arat class, led by the party and drawing on the support and aid of the working class of Soviet Russia and the international communist movement, was established by legislation.

All state affairs were conducted by the people’s government, although from 1921 to 1924 Mongolia formally remained a limited monarchy headed by the bogdo-gegen. This situation resulted from the strong influence of the church on the masses and the need to unite all patriotic forces in the anti-imperialist struggle. The people’s government carried out a number of anti-imperialist and anti-feudal reforms. Debts to foreign merchants and usurers, primarily Chinese, were canceled, land was nationalized, serfdom and feudal titles and privileges were abolished, and local self-government was democratized. In the course of the revolution social lines were more clearly defined, and the class struggle intensified, as was reflected in the counterrevolutionary conspiracies of Bodo (1922) and Danzan (1924), which were crushed by the people’s government.

Mongolia’s ties with Soviet Russia were strengthened and expanded. Of paramount importance was a Mongolian delegation’s meeting with V. I. Lenin in November 1921. Lenin’s views on the possibility of noncapitalist development in Mongolia determined the political course of the party and the people’s government. The party joined the Comintern as a sympathizer. On Nov. 5, 1921, a Soviet-Mongolian friendship agreement was signed in Moscow.

The Third Congress of the party, held in August 1924, established as the general party line the noncapitalist development of the country. The socioeconomic measures between 1921 and 1924 under the leadership of the party strengthened the people’s state and created the preconditions for the establishment of a republican system in Mongolia. The first Great People’s Khural, held in November 1924, proclaimed Mongolia a people’s republic and ratified the first constitution of the Mongolian People’s Republic.

The people’s government did all it could to stimulate the growth of productive forces, relying on the aid of the Soviet state. In December 1921 the Mongolian Central People’s Cooperative (Montsenkoop) was formed; in June 1924 the Mongolian Commercial and Industrial Bank was established; and in December 1925 monetary reforms were carried out and a national currency, the tugrik, was issued. Through the efforts of the state and the cooperatives the first industrial enterprises were built, and modern transportation and communications systems were established.

The country’s noncapitalist development toward socialism was opposed by right-wing deviationists from 1926 to 1928. The rout of the rightists at the Seventh Congress of the MPRP, held from October to December 1928, was a major victory for the Leninist basic line of the party. In the early 1930’s foreign capital was expelled from the country’s economy, and a state monopoly over foreign trade was established. The taxation policy, the strengthening of Montsenkoop, and the aid of Soviet trade organizations ensured the fulfillment of these objectives.

For a long time former feudal lords held strong positions in the economy, owning more than one-third of all livestock in 1924. In 1929 the expropriation of large feudal holdings began, and the livestock and property of former feudal lords became the property of poor peasants and the people’s state. The elimination of the feudal lords as a class took place amid a fierce struggle. The forces of reaction employed various forms of resistance, ranging from small-scale sabotage to armed uprisings in 1932. The reactionaries took advantage of the errors of the ultra-left leadership in the party and the state between 1929 and 1932. Ignoring the real situation, the ultra-leftists proclaimed the transition of the revolution to the socialist stage and began to implement a policy that caused serious economic and political difficulties. The third Extraordinary Plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the MPRP (June 1932) condemned the distortions that had been permitted and attempted to restore the party’s general line. The Ninth Congress of the MPRP, held in September and October 1934, approved the decisions of the Extraordinary Plenum.

Emancipation from colonial dependence and the abolition of feudal relations gave impetus to the development of the productive forces. The country’s livestock increased by 36 percent between 1929 and 1940. State and cooperative industry arose, chiefly coal mining, the production of electric energy, and the processing of agricultural raw materials. Automotive, railroad, and air transport developed. Between 1934 and 1939 the retail trade increased 2.5 times and exports 2.3 times; imports doubled. The main sources of revenue were the state and cooperative sectors: taxes and imposts collected from the population accounted for only 16.7 percent of revenues in 1940.

Against the background of a complicated international situation resulting from Japan’s aggressive policy, a Soviet-Mongolian gentlemen’s agreement on mutual aid in the event of an attack on one of the parties was concluded in November 1934. The oral agreement was confirmed by the Soviet-Mongolian Protocol on Mutual Assistance signed in March 1936. The Japanese troops that invaded Mongolia near the Khalkhin-Gol River in May 1939 were vigorously resisted by the Mongolian Army and the Soviet troops that came to its aid. In August 1939 the Japanese were completely routed.

By 1940 the country’s social structure had been fundamentally changed through revolutionary reforms. The class of feudal lords had disappeared, and the arats had become a class of free small producers. A national working class was emerging (numbering about 15,000 workers in 1940), and a working-class intelligentsia was developing. Small-scale and socialist enterprises were the basic economic unit. The socialist sector encompassed state and cooperative industry, mechanized transport, the financial system, and state and cooperative commerce. There were centers of socialist production in agriculture as well, the goskhozes, but small-scale production predominated. Capitalist elements also persisted in agriculture—large livestock-raising farms based on the hiring and exploitation of labor. In commerce these elements were represented by private merchants. In general, however, capitalist enterprises played an insignificant role in the national economy. The people’s government pursued a policy of limiting and displacing these elements. During the general democratic stage of development a cultural revolution took place with the aim of overcoming feudal vestiges in the people’s consciousness and establishing a revolutionary world view and progressive culture.

The achievements of the general democratic stage were summed up at the Tenth Congress of the MPRP held in March and April 1940 and at the Eighth Great People’s Khural in June 1940. The congress adopted a new party program,and the Eighth Great People’s Khural promulgated a new constitution reflecting the profound socio-economic changes that had occurred in the republic.

CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIALISM. Having fulfilled the general democratic tasks of the revolution by 1940, the country entered a new, socialist stage. The main tasks now became the acceleration of the rate of growth of productive forces, the voluntary formation of production cooperatives out of individual arat farms throughout the country, the creation of a single socialist system for the national economy, and the further development of the cultural revolution.

The transition to the socialist stage took place during World War II. From the first day of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, the Mongolian people, the MPRP, and the government of Mongolia took a consistently internationalist position of supporting the just cause of the peoples of the USSR and giving them much moral and material aid. This position was set forth in the Declaration of the Joint Session of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the MPRP,the Presidium of the Lesser Khural, and the Council of Ministers of the MPR on June 22, 1941. Thousands of tons of food, warm clothing, the savings of Mongolian working people, and thousands of head of cattle were contributed to the Red Army. During the war, 32,000 horses were sent by the Mongolian people as a gift to the USSR. The workers of Mongolia sent several trainloads of gifts to the fronts of the Patriotic War. The Revolutionary Mongolia Tank Column and the Mongolian Arat Air Squadron, which fought in battles against fascist German troops, were built with money collected by the working people of Mongolia. The economic policy of the MPRP and the people’s government was oriented toward the fullest utilization of local resources and the satisfaction of the country’s needs through domestically produced products. The MPR participated directly in the rout of the Japanese aggressors, declaring war on Japan on Aug. 10,1945. Its 80,000-man army fought a heroic campaign across the Gobi Desert to the Gulf of Liaotung, making its contribution to the common cause of victory.

In 1944 the government of Mongolia abolished the restrictions on the electoral rights of former feudal lords and persons who had previously exploited the labor of others, granting them the right to elect representatives to organs of people’s power and to be eligible for election. In 1949 elections by stages were replaced by direct elections and open voting by secret ballot. The country’s international position was strengthened. Its sovereignty was confirmed at the Yalta Conference in 1945. Fraternal relations with the USSR were strengthened. The Treaty on Friendship and Mutual Assistance Between the USSR and the MPR and the Agreement on Economic and Cultural Cooperation were signed in February 1946. In 1948, Mongolia began to establish diplomatic relations with the other socialist states, and economic and cultural cooperation with these countries expanded.

The postwar period was marked by great achievements in socialist construction. In 1947 the Eleventh Congress of the MPRP adopted a resolution calling for long-term planning of the national economy and culture and ratified the directives for the first five-year plan (1948–52). The session of the Great People’s Khural held in July 1954 elected Zh. Sambu (died 1972) chairman of the Presidium of the Great People’s Khural and formed a government headed by lu.Tsedenbal.

In the following years the national economy developed according to the second five-year plan (1953–57) and the three-year plan (1958–60). The development of industry brought about the growth of the working class. In 1960 the number of industrial and office workers was 5.9 times greater than in 1940. At the country’s socialist stage of development the working class became the leading force in the construction of a new society.

Beginning in 1955 agricultural production cooperatives were organized on a large scale. By the spring of 1959, virtually all the country’s arat farms had joined agricultural associations. The plenum of the Central Committee of the MPRP held in December 1959 announced that with the completion of the organization of the arat class into production cooperatives, socialist productive relations had triumphed in all spheres of the national economy. This meant that the country had made the transition to the socialist social system and that the party’s general line of noncapitalist development toward socialism had been successful. The historic victories of the Mongolian people were reflected in the new constitution ratified in July 1960 at the first session of the fourth convocation of the Great People’s Khural.

The Fourteenth Congress of the MPRP, held in July 1961, confirmed that the country had entered the period in which the construction of socialism was being completed. The fullest development of the material and technical base of socialism was now the main goal. The congress approved the directives of the third five-year plan (1961–65). The new program of the MPRP, adopted by the Fifteenth Congress in 1966, reflected the successes that had been achieved and defined the tasks for transforming the country into an industrial-agrarian state. The directives of the fourth five-year plan (1966–70) for the development of the national economy and culture were approved. The successful fulfillment of the plan raised the level of Mongolia’s economy and culture to a still higher level.

The Sixteenth Congress of the MPRP, held in June 1971, summed up the achievements of the 50-year struggle of the working people to overcome the country’s backwardness and their efforts to ensure the victory of the socialist path of development. The congress approved the directives for the fifth five-year plan for the development of the national economy and culture (1971–75), which were successfully, carried out. Over these five years the gross national product increased by 44.5 percent, the national income by 38 percent, and the volume of industrial production by 55.2 percent. The Seventeenth Congress of the MPRP, held in June 1976, adopted the Guidelines for the Development of Mongolia’s National Economy for 1976–1980. The new five-year plan’s chief goal is to ensure a further growth of social production, to raise its efficiency, and to improve the quality of work in all sectors of the economy and culture,thereby achieving a steady improvement in the people’s living standard and cultural life.

Mongolia’s foreign policy aims at securing peaceful conditions for the construction of socialism and strengthening the unity and cohesion of the world socialist system. The republic supports the national liberation struggle of peoples and the revolutionary struggle of the working class of the capitalist countries, and it promotes the preservation and strengthening of peace and the security of nations. Observing the principles of equality, mutual respect, and nonintervention in domestic affairs, Mongolia is pursuing a policy of establishing and developing relations with nonsocialist states regardless of their social system. The republic supports the USSR’s proposals for general and complete disarmament (1959 and 1962). It signed the Moscow Treaty of 1963 banning the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, outer space, and under water, the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (1968), and the treaty on the ocean floor(1970). It supports the Arab countries’ struggle against Israeli aggression, the struggle of the peoples of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, the proposals of the Korean Democratic People’s Republic for the peaceful unification of Korea, the anti-imperialist struggle of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, collective security in Asia, and the struggle of progressive forces for peace and security in Europe. Mongolia has been a member of the UN since 1961 andmember of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance since 1962. By 1975 it had established diplomatic relations with 75 countries and trade relations with more than 20. It belongs to 62 international organizations, 19 of which are governmental, and since 1969 it has been a member of the Disarmament Committee. Soviet-Mongolian relations are governed by the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, signed in January 1966. Mongolia has also signed treaties on friendship and cooperation with a number of other socialist countries.

SOURCES

Bichurin, N. Ia. Zapiski o Mongolii, vols. 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1828.
Bichurin, N. Ia. Sobranie svedenii o narodakh, obitavshikh v Srednei Azii v drevnie vremena, vols. 1–3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950–53.
Rashid-ad-Din. Sbornik letopisei, vol. 1 (books l-2)-vol. 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946–60.
Drevnemongol’skie goroda. Moscow, 1965.
Kozin, S. A. Sokrovennoe skazanie: Mongol’skaia khronika 1240 g., vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
Puteshestviia v vostochnye strany Plano Karpini i Rubruka. Moscow, 1957.
Pokotilov, D. Istoriia vostochnykh mongolov v period dinastii Min, 1368–1634: Po kitaiskim istochnikam. St. Petersburg, 1893.
Pozdneev, A. M. Mongol’skaia letopis’ “Erdeniin erikhe”: Podlinnyi tekst s perevodom i poiasneniiami, zakliuchaiushchimi v sebe materialy dlia istorii Khalkhi s 1636 g. po 1736 g. St. Petersburg, 1883.
“Shara Tudzhi”mongol’skaia letopis’ XVII v. Translated by N. P. Shastina. Moscow-Leningrad, 1957.
Altan-Tobchi: Mongol’skaia letopis’ XVIII v. Translated by P. B. Baldanzhapov. Ulan-Ude, 1970.
Khalkha Dzhirum: Pamiatnik mongol’skogo feodal’nogo prava XVIII v.Translation and commentaries by S. D. Dylykov. Moscow, 1965.
Russko-mongol’skie otnosheniia 1607–1636: Sbornik dokumentov. Moscow, 1959.
Sovetsko-mongol’skie otnosheniia 1921–1966: Sbornik dokumentov. Moscow, 1966.

REFERENCES

Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed. vol. 3, pp. 150–57; vol. 8, pp. 567–68; vol. 12, pp. 509, 724; vol. 29, p. 154.
Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. vol. 22, p. 189; vol. 26, p. 318; vol. 44, pp. 232–33.
Tataro-mongoly v Azii i Evrope: Sbornik st. Moscow, 1970.
Istoriia Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1967.
Bartol’d, V. V. Turkestan v epokhu mongol’skogo nashestviia, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1898–1900.
Vladimirtsov, B. la. Obshchestvennyi stroi mongolov. Leningrad, 1934.
Maiskii, I. M. Mongoliia nakanune revoliutsii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1959.
Zlatkin, I. la. Mongol’skaia Narodnaia Respublika—strana novoi demokratii. Moscow, 1950.
Zlatkin, I. la. Ocherki novoi i noveishei istorii Mongolii. Moscow, 1957.
Zlatkin, I. la. Istoriia Dzhungarskogo Khanstva. Moscow, 1964.
Mongol’skaia Narodnaia Respublika. Moscow, 1971.
50 let narodnoi revoliutsii v Mongolii. Moscow, 1971.
50 let Narodnoi Mongolii: Polveka bor’by i truda (collection of articles). Moscow-Ulan Bator, 1971.
Narody-brat’ia: Sovetsko-mongol’skaia druzhba. Vospominaniia i stat’i. Moscow, 1965.
Gol’man, M. I. Problemy noveishei istorii MNR v burzhuaznoi istoriografii SShA. Moscow, 1970.
Novgorodova, E. A. Tsentral’naia Aziia i karasukskaia problema. Moscow, 1970.
Ocherki istorii Mongol’skoi narodno-revoliutsionnoi partii. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Choibalsan, Kh. Izbr. stat’i i rechi (1921–1951), vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Tsedenbal, lu. Izbr. stat’i i rechi, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Shirendyb, B. Mongoliia na rubezhe XIX-XX vekov. Ulan Bator, 1964.
Shirendyb, B. Narodnaia revoliutsiia v Mongolii i obrazovanie Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki, 1921–1924. Moscow, 1956.
Shirendyb, B. Minuia kapitalizm. Ulan Bator, 1967.
Shirendyb, B. Istoriia Mongol’skoi narodnoi revoliutsii 1921. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Tudev, B. Formirovanie i razvitie rabochego klassa Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Bugd Nairamdakh Mongol Ard Ulsyn tuukh, vols. 1–3. Ulan Bator, 1966–70.
Natsagdorzh, Sh. Khalkhyn tuukh. Ulan Bator, 1963.

E. A. NOVGORODOVA (to the third century B.C.), G. S. GOROKHOVA (from the third century B.C. to the 13th century A.D.), and I. IA. ZLATKIN (from the 13th century)

The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP; Mongol Ardyn Khuv’sgalt Nam) was organized at the First Congress, held Mar. 1–3, 1921. Until 1925 it was called the Mongolian People’s Party. In January 1976 it numbered more than 67,000 members and candidate members. The country’s trade unions were organized and amalgamated at the first congress of trade unions in 1927. In 1976 they had a membership of about 300,000, and since 1949 they have belonged to the World Federation of Trade Unions. The Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League, established in 1921 and numbering more than 140,000 members in 1976, belongs to the World Federation of Democratic Youth. Other organizations include the Committee of Mongolian Women, established in 1933; the Federation of Mongolian Organizations of Peace and Friendship, established in 1959; the Society for Mongolian-Soviet Friendship, established in 1947;the Mongolian Peace Committee, established in 1949; and the Mongolian Committee of Solidarity With the Countries of Asia and Africa, established in 1957.

A. A. POZDNIAKOV

As a result of the People’s Revolution of 1921, Mongolia embarked on the path of socialist development, bypassing the capitalist stage. Under the people’s government Mongolia was transformed from a backward agrarian-feudal country  with nomadic livestock raising into a rapidly developing socialist agrarian-industrial state. Extensive cooperation with the USSR and, in the postwar period, with other socialist countries as well played an important role in building the material and technical base of socialism and in developing industry, agriculture, transportation, communications, and other branches of the national economy. Mongolia maintains both bilateral and multilateral economic ties with the socialist countries in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). Within the international socialist division of labor, the republic specializes in producing food and light industry products—primarily processed raw materials of livestock raising. Mongolia supplies the world market with leather, wool, leather and wool articles, meat products, and casein.

Agriculture accounted for 19.6 percent of the national income in 1973, industry for 24.1 percent, construction for 12.6 percent, transportation and communications for 7.2 percent, and trade for 34.4 percent. The fifth five-year plan (1971–75) was inaugurated in 1971.

Agriculture. As a result of fundamental socioeconomic reforms, socialist productive relations dominate agriculture. There are two kinds of socialist property—cooperative (agricultural associations, called SKhO) and state (goskhozes). Along with traditional livestock raising, crop farming has become an important branch of agriculture. In 1972 livestock raising accounted for 83.4 percent of the gross agricultural product and crop cultivation for 16.6 percent. The ratio of livestock to inhabitants is one of the highest in the world. About 24.6 percent of the cultivated area, 95 percent of the pastures, and 75 percent of the livestock belong to the cooperative sector, comprising 272 SKhO’s at the end of 1972. Some 22.2 percent of the livestock is the personal property of SKhO members. The SKhO’s are the main suppliers of livestock products. The state sector, consisting of 35 goskhozes, owns 75.4 percent of the cultivated area, 3 percent of the pastures, and 4 percent of the livestock. It accounts for four-fifths of the total output of cereals and for a substantial quantity of potatoes, vegetables, and fodder crops. The goskhozes also raise pedigree livestock. The main farming operations on the goskhozes are largely mechanized. At the end of 1972 there were 6,300 tractors, as compared with 1,700 in 1960. Various measures are being taken to raise the level of agriculture, particularly animal husbandry,including the construction of livestock buildings and watering facilities, the irrigation of pastures, and the development of a mixed-feed industry.

LIVESTOCK RAISING. Sheep raising, the leading branch of animal husbandry, is well developed throughout the country, but especially in the western and central regions. Cattle are raised primarily in the northeastern and northern regions.Goats are raised in the west, camels chiefly in the south and southeast, and yaks and khainaks in mountainous areas. Horses are bred throughout the country. Hog and poultry farms are being established on the outskirts of towns. Fur farming is also important. (See Tables 2 and 3 for the number of livestock and the products of livestock raising.)

Table2

CROP CULTIVATION. Between 1955 and 1972 the sown area increased from 62,900 hectares (ha) to 475,000 ha through the opening of virgin land. Cereals and legumes occupy 88.4 percent

Table3

of the sown area; fodder crops, 10.7 percent; potatoes, 0.6 percent; and vegetables, 0.3 percent. (See Table 4 for the yield of principal crops.)

Table4Industry. Owing to Mongolia’s particular historical and socioeconomic development, the country’s socialist industrialization began with the creation of branches of the light and food industries. Between the 1940’s and 1960’s, along with such traditional branches as the production of textiles, clothing, and leather footwear, branches of the heavy industry also developed, including the mining, electrical energy, woodworking, building-materials, and metalworking industries.(See Table 5 for the branch structure of industry.)

Table5

Most industrial enterprises are small or medium in size. Between 1941 and 1950 the annual growth rate of the gross industrial product averaged 6.9 percent; from 1951 to 1960, 10.8 percent; and between 1961 and 1970, 9.7 percent.Overall, the gross industrial product increased 13.8 times between 1940 and 1970. In 1972 industry contributed more than one-third of the country’s social product. Almost the entire industrial output, 96.8 percent in 1972, was produced by the state sector. In 1973 producer goods accounted for 49.7 percent of the gross industrial output and consumer goods for 50.3 percent.

MINING AND ELECTRIC POWER. The main branch of mining is the extraction of coal, chiefly lignite. Most of the coal is mined at the Sharyn-Gol open pit mine near Darkhan, producing more than 1 million tons annually; the Nalaikha mine, with an annual capacity of 600,000 tons; and the Adunchulun open-pit mine near Choibalsan, with an annual capacity of 200,000 tons. There are a number of smaller strip mines in the Under-Khan region and elsewhere. Electric energy is produced by steam power plants, of which the largest is at Darkhan. In 1967 a unified power system was built in the Central Region with the aid of the USSR.

Tungsten and fluorspar (fluorite) are also extracted. In 1973 construction began on an ore-concentration combine for processing the output of the copper-molybdenum mine at Erdenetiin-Obo, Bulgan Aimak.

MANUFACTURING. The light and food industries account for about half the gross industrial output and employ about half the country’s industrial workers. Among the largest enterprises is the industrial combine at Ulan Bator with eight factories, including a wool-washing plant, tanneries processing large hides and kidskin, and factories producing leather articles, felt, worsted cloth, and footwear. Other large enterprises include meat-packing plants at Ulan Bator and Choibalsan, flour milling combines at Ulan Bator and Sukhe-Bator, and the Ulan Bator mechanized bakery. The woodworking combines at Ulan Bator and Sukhe-Bator and other forestry enterprises use local lumber, cut chiefly in the north (754,000 cu m in 1972). Important enterprises of the building materials industry include the prefabricated housing combine at Ulan Bator and the cement and brick plants at Darkhan. Other products include furs, sheepskin coats, carpets, pharmaceuticals, and glass and porcelain articles. There is a printing industry. The country’s three major industrial areas are the Ulan Bator, Darkhan-Selenga (center, Darkhan) and Eastern regions (center, Choibalsan). (See Table 6 forthe output of the principal industrial products.)

Table6

Transportation. Railroad transport accounted for about three-fourths of the total freight turnover in 1972. The railroad system is 1,400 km long. The main railroad is the Trans-Mongolian, which crosses the country from north to south. About one-fourth of the total freight is transported by motor vehicle. Most roads are unpaved. There is navigation on Lake Khubsugul and on the Selenga and Orkhon rivers. The Civilian Air Transportation Board was established in 1956. Ulan Bator has an international airport.

Foreign trade. Economic and scientific-technical cooperation and trade with the socialist countries (members of COMECON, which Mongolia joined in 1962) are an important factor in the development of the national economy. With the aid of the socialist countries a number of major enterprises have been constructed, including electric power plants at Ulan Bator and Darkhan (USSR), Ulegei (Czechoslovakia), and Kharkhorin (Poland); the shaft and open-pit mines atSharyn-Gol, Nalaikha, and Adun-Chulun (USSR); the Ulan Bator motor vehicle repair plant (USSR); woodworking and prefabricated housing combines at Ulan Bator and a building materials combine at Darkhan (USSR), and a cement plant at Darkhan (Czechoslovakia). Other enterprises built with the assistance of the COMECON countries include a silica brick plant (Poland), a carpet factory (German Democratic Republic), leather enterprises (Czechoslovakia), a sheepskin coat factory (Bulgaria), a garment factory (Hungary), meat-packing plants (USSR, German Democratic Republic, and Bulgaria), and wool-washing factories (USSR). The COMECON countries are also helping Mongolia in exploring and developing mineral deposits.

A foreign trade monopoly was instituted in 1930. In 1972 the socialist countries, chiefly members of COMECON, accounted for about 99 percent of Mongolia’s foreign trade; the USSR’s share amounted to 85 percent. The first trade agreement with the USSR was signed in 1923; Soviet-Mongolian agreements on economic cooperation and trade agreements for 1971–75 were concluded in 1970. Trade with the COMECON countries is regulated by five-year agreements.

The main exports are livestock, meat and meat products, wool, hides and leather goods, and minerals. The main imports are machines and equipment, petroleum products, ferrous metals, chemical products, foodstuffs, and consumer goods. The monetary unit is the tugrik. According to the exchange rate of the State Bank of the USSR in April 1974, 100 tugriks equaled 22 rubles 50 kopeks.

I. KH. OVDIENKO

Growth of prosperity. The living standard and cultural level of the population have been rising steadily. Between 1940 and 1972 the national income increased 5.9 times, and in 1972 about 70 percent of the national income was allocated for goods and services. Production of consumer goods increased seven fold between 1950 and 1971. The standard of living of the working people is rising owing to higher wages for industrial and office workers (increasing by 27 percent during the fourth five-year plan from 1966 to 1970), the higher income of members of agricultural associations (by 240 million tugriks), and the rapid growth of the social consumption fund (by 19.9 percent). The average monthly wages of industrial and office workers increased 1.2 times between 1960 and 1972. The wage rates of workers in a number of branches of material production have risen.

In 1971 wages of up to 300 tugriks a month were declared exempt from income tax, and tax rates for monthly wages of more than 300 tugriks were reduced by approximately 20 percent. The salaries of certain categories of low-paid workers in agricultural associations were raised by an average of more than 15 percent.

The proportion of the social consumption fund allocated for the payment of pensions, allowances, and benefits and for free services has increased substantially. Industrial and office workers and the members of agricultural associations receive old age pensions. Between 1966 and 1970, old age pensions increased by an average of 20 percent, with the amounts ranging from 150 to 600 tugriks. Men 60 years of age and women 55 years of age (for jobs injurious to health,55 and 50 years, respectively) who have worked more than 20 years (or more than 15 years in unhealthy jobs) are eligible for pensions. In 1971 the allowance for mothers with many children was increased.

Much attention is devoted to the protection of labor. Paid vacations, disability pensions, and leaves for temporary disability have been instituted. The eight-hour workday and the six-day week are standard.

Measures have been taken to improve the working and living conditions of the rural population. The funds from which members of agricultural associations are paid for their labor have been increasing, and the members’ income from cooperative farming is growing. The prices paid by the state for the main products of livestock raising have increased, and incentive increments on products exceeding the plan for state procurements have been established.

Between 1960 and 1972 the per capita retail commodity turnover increased by 38 percent, with the per capita turnover of foodstuffs increasing by 67 percent. Up to 40 percent of the state budget is spent for social and cultural purposes excluding capital construction. In 1972 the per capita expenditure for social and cultural services was 37 times that of 1940. Free education is provided in general schools, vocational schools, technicums, and higher educational institutions in both cities and rural areas. Kindergartens, nurseries, boarding schools, hospitals, maternity homes, and other medical institutions are maintained by the state. The housing supply is continuously increasing; about 150,000 sq m of housing were constructed in 1971–72. Various measures are being taken to improve the living conditions of rural workers.

D. BATSUKH

REFERENCES

Ocherki ekonomiki Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1969.
Ovdienko, I. Kh. Sovremennaia Mongoliia. Moscow, 1964.
Gungaadash, B. Mongoliia segodnia: Priroda, liudi, khoziaistvo. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Roshchin, S. K. Sel’skoe khoziaistvo MNR na sotsialisticheskom puti. Moscow, 1971.
50 let MNR: Statistich. sb. Ulan Bator, 1971.
Statisticheskii ezhegodnik stranchlenov Soveta ekonomicheskoi vzaimopomoshchi 1973. Moscow, 1973.

Mongolia’s armed forces, the Mongolian People’s Army (MPA), consist of ground troops, antiaircraft units, and border troops. The minister of defense exercises direction over the army, which is maintained by universal conscription. The period of active military service is three years, and the draft age is 19 years. Armaments include missiles of various types, modern tanks, artillery, jet aircraft, and engineering, radar, and other military equipment. The first regular units were organized in early 1921. Between May and August 1939 the MPA, along with Red Army troops, took part in the rout of the Japanese forces that attacked the republic near the Khalkhin-Gol River. In August 1945 the MPA and Soviet Armed Forces defeated the Kwantung Army of imperialist Japan. March 18 is observed as the anniversary of the MPA’s formation. On Mar. 18, 1921, Mongolian troops won their first major victory, liberating the city of Maimachen, present day Altan-Bulak, from the invaders.

The hardships of nomadic life in pre-revolutionary Mongolia and the prevalence of infectious and venereal diseases resulted in high morbidity and mortality rates (including infant mortality) compared to other Oriental countries.

In 1972 the birth rate was 39.3 per thousand inhabitants, and the overall mortality rate, 10.8 per thousand inhabitants (the corresponding figures in 1921 were 25 and 30). The infant mortality rate was 73.4 per thousand live births in 1970,compared to 500 in 1921. The average life span doubled between 1919 and 1969, rising to 64.5 years (62.5 years for men and 66.33 for women).

The incidence of infectious diseases decreased sharply under the people’s government. Smallpox, plague, typhus, and recurrent fever have been completely eradicated, and malignant anthrax, rabies, spinal meningitis, and trachoma have been reduced to isolated cases. Between 1965 and 1970 alone the incidence of diphtheria declined 7.2 times; brucellosis, 4 times; typhoid, 1.9 times; and dysentery, 1.7 times. The incidence of poliomyelitis in 1969 was 26 times less than that in 1963. Among parasitic diseases helminthiases predominate.

Mongolia has a state public health system providing free medical care for the entire population. In 1973 there were more than 350 hospitals with some 12,000 beds, or 9.6 beds per thousand inhabitants (in 1925 there was only one hospital with 15 beds). The country also had 164 polyclinics in 1971. The population of goskhozes, agricultural associations, and relatively inaccessible regions is served by 97 medical stations staffed by doctors and 846 stations run by medical assistants (1970). Maternity hospitals, obstetrical stations, maternity and children’s consultation clinics, child nutrition facilities, nurseries, and kindergartens have been established under the people’s government. Pregnant workingwomen are given a paid leave of 45 days both before and after delivery. Under the law mothers receive payments upon the birth of twins, and there are other benefits for mothers with many children. In 1970, 92 percent of pregnant women and 94 percent of children under the age of one were being regularly examined at dispensaries.

In 1972 there were about 2,500 doctors (one for every 520 persons), compared with two doctors in 1925 (one for every 325,900 persons); 93 dentists; 700 pharmacists; and about 8,000 intermediate medical personnel. Medical specialists are trained by the Mongolian State Medical Institute, founded in 1942 as the medical faculty of the Mongolian State University and functioning since 1961 as an independent institute. It has departments of medicine, pediatrics, hygiene, stomatology, and pharmacy, a division of dentistry, and advanced training courses for physicians. Intermediate medical personnel are trained at three medical technicums (in Ulan Bator and in the East Gobi and Gobi-Altai aimaks) and six schools (in Ulan Bator and Darkhan and in the Arakhangai, Kobdo, and Eastern aimaks). The country has many mineral springs, called arshans, at which health resorts for working people have been built. The largest resorts are Zhanchivlin, Gurvannur, Otgon Tenger, and Khudzhirt. In 1970 public health expenditures totaled about 106 million tugriks.

V. V. SHUVAEV

Veterinary services. Under the people’s government, Mongolia’s veterinary service, aided by Soviet specialists, has been highly successful in controlling epizootic diseases among livestock. Plague and peripneumonia of cattle,infectious pleuropneumonia of goats, and sheep pox have been wiped out. In 1966–68 specialists from COMECON assisted Mongolian veterinarians in carrying out a diagnostic examination of all livestock to determine the incidence of the most dangerous anthropozoonoses—glanders, brucellosis, and tuberculosis. A comprehensive program for eradicating these diseases was worked out. Other common diseases include scabies of sheep and camels, necrobacillosis, swine plague, and such helminthiases as coenurosis, echinococcosis, and cysticercosis.

The state veterinary service is under the Ministry of Agriculture. Veterinary preparations are produced at pharmaceutical plants in Songino and Kobdo. Research is conducted at the Research Institute of Livestock Raising, the Agricultural Institute, and the Central Veterinary Hygiene Laboratory of the Republic. Veterinarians are trained at the Agricultural Institute of Ulan Bator, and veterinary assistants are trained at four technicums. In 1970 there were 900 veterinarians.

S. I. KARTUSHIN

In prerevolutionary Mongolia, less than 1 percent of the population was literate. The only schools in the country were the datsans attached to Buddhist monasteries, which taught primarily Tibetan, Buddhist philosophy, and astrology. After the victory of the People’s Revolution of 1921, the popular government began to organize a state system of public education. The Decree on the Organization of Elementary Schools was adopted in August 1921, and the Regulations for Elementary Schools were ratified the same year. In 1927 the Regulations for Secondary Schools were approved, banning private schools and providing for the creation of genuinely national state schools in which Mongolian would be the language of instruction. In 1921–22, 12 elementary schools and a seven-year school (in Ulan Bator) were established, with an enrollment of 400 children.

The organizational principles of public education were set forth in the party’s second program, adopted by the Fourth Congress of the MPRP in 1925. General secular schools were to be established for all children, regardless of sex or nationality. Instruction was to be free, compulsory, and coeducational for all children up to 18 years of age, and corporal punishment was abolished. One of the goals of education was to inspire devotion to the party and the nation. During the first years of the people’s government, the development of public education was complicated by a shortage of money for the organization of mass education, a lack of teachers, and a lack of experience in organizing schools. The first teacher-training courses were inaugurated in 1922. In the late 1920’s, the training of teachers in Soviet schools began. Standard curricula were introduced in 1933. The Lamaist clergy stubbornly resisted the introduction of secular education, and until the late 1930’s, monastic schools existed alongside state schools. In 1933, monastic schools had an enrollment of 18,000 students.

From the first years of the people’s government adult education courses were given at all schools and in all military units, industrial enterprises, and farm organizations. In 1941 a new alphabet was introduced, based on Cyrillic.nationwide movement arose whose slogan was “Each literate person, teach at least three illiterates.” By the end of the first five-year plan (1952), illiteracy had been virtually eradicated among adults.

In 1955 the Central Committee of the MPRP and the Council of Ministers of the MPR adopted the resolution On Universal Compulsory Elementary Education of School-age Children, and in 1958 they adopted the resolution On the Introduction of Universal Compulsory Seven-year Education in the Cities and Aimak Centers. Adult education was further advanced through an extensive network of seasonal and general evening schools and schools for people working in shifts. The new party program adopted at the MPRP’s Fifteenth Congress in 1966 called for the immediate establishment of universal lower secondary education for all school age children. The program also envisaged a subsequent transition to universal upper secondary education. In 1972–73 a new secondary school curriculum was introduced, providing for three years of instruction in elementary schools, eight years in lower secondary schools, and ten years in upper secondary schools. In the 1973–74 school year there were 549 schools of all types, with an enrollment of 274,300.

A system of vocational training was organized in 1964 to train skilled workers. In 1972 there were 20 vocational schools with 8,700 students. Between 1965 and 1970 more than 20,000 workers were trained in 70 specializations.

In 1924 the first special secondary schools were established, whose teachers were Soviet educators and specialists. In 1970 there were 11,100 persons studying in 19 technicums, including several medical, veterinary and agricultural schools and schools of finance and economics, trade, polytechnical education, and railroad transport.

Public higher education was initiated in 1940 with the opening of the Pedagogical Institute in Ulan Bator. In 1942 the Mongolian State University was established with the aid of the USSR. Initially the university had three departments—medicine, veterinary science, and pedagogy. By 1972 the university had departments of physics and mathematics, chemistry and biology, social sciences (training specialists in philosophy, history, and law), economics, and philology.With the aid of UNESCO the Polytechnic Institute was created in 1969 under the auspices of the university. Several of the university’s departments have grown into independent institutes of pedagogy (1951), agriculture (1958), and medicine (1961). In the 1972–73 academic year, 8,900 students were studying in higher educational institutions. By 1970 more than 15,000 Mongolian specialists had been trained in higher and special secondary institutions of the USSR; more than 4,000 Mongolian students were receiving training in the USSR in 1973.

Ulan Bator is the site of the State Public Library (founded in 1921, 1 million volumes), the country’s largest library, the State Central Museum, the V. I. Lenin Museum, the Central Museum of the Revolution, the Museum of Religion, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of the Reconstruction of Ulan Bator, and the D. Natsagdorzh Museum.

REFERENCE

Baldaev, R. L. Narodnoe obrazovanie v Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respub-like. Moscow, 1971.

L. M. GATAULLINA

Natural and technical sciences. In feudal Mongolia scientific knowledge was acquired primarily in astronomy, medicine, and agriculture. Under the people’s government, there have been notable scientific advances. Contacts with Soviet scientists were established in 1921, and in 1929 an agreement on cooperation was signed by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the Committee of Sciences of the MPR. During the 1930’s and 1940’s research in the natural sciences was oriented toward the needs of the national economy. Joint expeditions of Mongolian and Soviet scientists were organized to study the country’s flora and fauna, geography, and geology, and Soviet scientists helped train national scientific workers.

The 1950’s and 1960’s saw the development of branches of science dealing with agriculture. Zoological and botanical research by Mongolian scientists was aimed at increasing livestock productivity and improving breeds, treating and preventing animal diseases, efficiently using feed resources, and improving farming methods. An outstanding achievement was the development of a new breed of Orkhon sheep under the direction of T. Aiurzan, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR. This breed has a semi-fine fleece and is raised for meat and wool. Karakul sheep are being acclimatized in the Gobi regions. A new breed of goats is being developed for fleece by crossing local goats with Don goats from the USSR. Academician Ts. Toivgo’s studies of cattle have played a significant role in improving animal husbandry. Problems of camel breeding are also being studied. Productive strains of cereals, vegetables,and fruit adapted to the country’s severe climatic conditions have been developed by Kh. Zunduizhantsan, M. Ul’zii, and E. Shagdar, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR. Mongolian biologists are engaged in the study, classification, and systematization of Mongolia’s flora and fauna. Important works include the Index to the Plants of Central Mongolia, Aromatic Plants of the MPR, and Game Animals of the MPR and Their Protection.

During the 1960’s theoretical and practical research in chemistry and agricultural chemistry expanded. The Institute of Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR has studied the distribution of trace elements in the soil, compiled cartograms showing the occurrence of these elements in a number of regions, and made recommendations for using trace element fertilizers in farming, and for adding vitamins to certain foodstuffs. Considerable geochemical and biochemical research has been undertaken. A notable contribution is the monograph Biochemistry of Food Plants of Mongolia.

Working closely with specialists from the COMECON countries, Mongolian geologists have discovered many deposits of various minerals and compiled geological and tectonic maps of the MPR. Mongolian geographers are studying permafrost and defining the country’s natural and economic zones. Works have been published on the physical geography of Mongolia (Sh. Tsegmid) and on economic geography (B. Gungadash). Hydrometeorological research is being conducted by a special scientific research institute and more than 60 meteorological, aerological, and hydrological stations, constituting the MPR’s hydrometeorological service.

Since 1956, Mongolian physicists have been working at the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research in Dubna. The Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, established in 1961, studies seismicity, magnetism, and the spread of radioactive fallout. Astronomical research includes observation of the sun’s corona and prominences, and artificial earth satellites are tracked. The Institute of Mathematics, founded in 1968, has a computer center and studies problems of theoretical and applied mathematics.

Among notable achievements in medicine are the development of scientific principles of combatting epidemic diseases and advances in the treatment of rheumatism and other diseases. Folk medicine and the properties of local medicinal plants are being studied, and preparations made from wild plants are used extensively in medical treatment.

I. I. POTEMKINA

Social sciences. PHILOSOPHY. After the formation of the Mongol state in 1206, shamanism, the hitherto unchallenged religion of the Mongol tribes, began to give way to Buddhism. The philosophical treatises of Buddhist monks began to reach Mongolia, and the first such Mongolian work, Loda Chzhaltsan’s Explanation of the Knowable, was written in the 13th century. By the 16th and 17th centuries, Lamaist Buddhism had become the official religion in the Mongol state. The work of the most important Mongolian philosophers—who wrote commentaries to Buddhist philosophical treatises—dates from this period. Robzhamba Sodnom Vanzhal was the author of a textbook on logic and dialectics called the Sun’s Ray. Agvan Dandar Lkharamba (of Alashan) offered his own interpretation of the problem of “alien animation” posed by the Indian logician Dharmakirti. Agvan Baldan analyzed various Indian philosophical schools and currents in his three-volume history of Indian philosophy, written in 1846 as a commentary to the History of Indian Philosophy by Gunchen Chzham’ian Shadp Dorchzhe, the great Tibetan scholar and philosopher of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In the first half of the 18th century Chzhan-chzha Khu-tug-tu compiled a Tibetan-Mongolian dictionary of philosophical terms known as the Dictionary for Sages. Zhanzha Rol’bi Dorzhi wrote a two-volume work on the history of Indian philosophy, and one of Sakhar Lubsan Sul’tim’s main works was a commentary to the Theory of Thought by the Indian philosopher Asanga.

Under the influence of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, Marxist-Leninist ideas began to spread in Mongolia, becoming the ideological foundation of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. In their studies Mongolian philosophers and sociologists offer theoretical generalizations based on the experience of socialist construction in the MPR. Philosophers are trained by the department of Marxism-Leninism and philosophy of the D. Sukhe-Bator Higher Party School in Ulan Bator.

P. I. KHADALOV

HISTORY. The earliest example of Mongolian feudal historiography is the anonymous chronicle Mongolyn nuuts tobcho (Secret History), written at the earliest in 1240. The historical writings of the 14th to 16th centuries have not survived, but the events of this period were reflected in works dating from the 17th to 19th centuries, notably the anonymous Alton tobchi (The Golden Button), Sagan Setsen’s Erdeniin tobchi (The Jeweled Button), Rashipuntsug’s Bolor erikhe (The Crystal Beads), and Galdan’s Erdeniin erikhe (The Jeweled Beads). Biographies of Lamaist leaders and Mongolian translations of Tibetan and Chinese historical literature also appeared at this time. From the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when Lamaism became the dominant ideology, Mongolian feudal historiography developed under clerical influence. A critical, anti-Manchu tendency appeared in Mongolian historiography in the middle of the 19th century in the writings of Inzhinash. An 11-volume history of Mongolia, essentially continuing the tradition of feudal historiography, was written but not published under the feudal-theocratic monarchy from 1911 to 1919. There was a considerable body of historical literature in Tibetan by such scholars as Sh. Damdin.

Marxist-Leninist methodology became firmly established in Mongolian historiography after the victory of the people’s revolution in 1921. In the 1920’s and 1930’s the classics of Marxism-Leninism were translated into Mongolian; historical material was collected and historians were trained. Primary attention was devoted to the publication of sources and to archaeology, and the first secondary-school history textbooks were written. The works of the older generation of historians which appeared at this time—those of Kh. Maksarzhab, L. Dendeb, A. Amor, G. Navannamzhil—provided an objective account of Mongolian history, particularly for the period from 1911 to 1919. However, their work suffered from insufficient analysis and generalization. A notable exception was the collective work on the history of the Mongolian people’s revolution written in 1934 by Kh. Choibalsan, G. Demid, and D. Losol.

Several monographs and collective works on history were published in the 1940’s and 1950’s, including the one-volume History of the MPR, a joint work of Mongolian and Soviet scholars. This work, published in 1954, treats the history of the country from earliest times to the 1950’s. A second edition, in Russian, was published in Moscow in 1967. Marxist-Leninist methodology triumphed after a sharp struggle against the vestiges of feudalism and the influence of bourgeois and petit bourgeois ideology in historical research. During the 1960’s and 1970’s historical science entered a new stage. It assumed a greater role in the communist upbringing of the working people, drawing scientific generalizations from experience and revealing the laws of the history of the Mongolian people. The number of highly qualified historians, some trained in the USSR, increased; the scope of historical problems expanded; and the scientific and theoretical level of historical works rose.

Outstanding historical works of the late 1960’s include the basic three-volume History of the MPR (1966–70) and a synthesis of party history entitled Studies in the History of the MPRP (1967; Russian translation, 1971). Other importantstudies were B. Shirendyb’s works on Mongolia’s socioeconomic development at the turn of the century and on the people’s revolution and the formation of the MPR; Sh. Natsagdorzh’s works on the history of the arat movement and the history of Khalkha; B. Tudev’s work on the history of the Mongolian working class; and N. Ishzhamts’ work on the Mongolian people’s liberation struggle in the 18th century. Among the questions treated were the history of the Khitans, predecessors of the Mongols; the origin of the Mongol tribes; the role of Chinese merchants and moneylenders in Mongolia; the country’s foreign relations in the 19th and 20th centuries; and the history of Lamaism. Eminent historians include Kh. Perlee, D. Gongor, M. Sanzhadorzh, Sh. Sandag, and S. Purevzhav. Ts. Damdinsuren’s monograph on the historical roots of the epic about Geser Khan was published in 1957. The works of Mongol authors who wrote in Tibetan and of Mongolian feudal historgiography were studied by Sh. Bira. A wealth of archaeological material on the Paleolithic and Neolithic, the Bronze Age, and the early tribes and states on the territory of the MPR was gathered in the course of expeditions, particularly the Soviet-Mongolian historical-cultural expedition of 1969–71. This material was the basis for works on the ancient Turkic peoples (N. Ser-Odzhav), the history of shamanism (Ch. Dalai), and the life and economy of the Darkhats (Ch. Badamkhatan). Sources and documents on the country’s history, the revolution, and the building of socialism are being published.

The main centers for the study of history are the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, established in 1961; the Institute of Party History under the Central Committee of the MPRP, founded in 1955; and the department of history of the Mongolian State University, organized in 1942. Works by Mongolian historians are published in Tuukhiin tsuvral, the yearbook of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences, issued since 1961, and the journals BNMAU-yn Shinzhlekh ukhaany akademiin medee, issued since 1961, and Namyn am’dral, published since 1923.

M. I. GOL’MAN

ECONOMICS. The economic thought of feudal Mongolia was reflected in annals, laws, and contemporary works on economics, which proclaimed the immutable economic prerogatives of the khans, noions, and other feudal lords and contained much information on the economy and life of the Mongols. Economic works discussing herding and giving advice on managing everyday affairs appeared in the 18th century. The most important of these works was To-Van’s Admonitions (1853). At the beginning of the 20th century, progressive leaders called for overcoming economic backwardness and argued the necessity of developing industry and agriculture.

The anti-imperialist, anti-feudal revolution of 1921 laid the foundation for the development of Marxist economic thought. Between the 1920’s and 1940’s Mongolian economists directed their efforts primarily toward working out concrete economic programs, economic legislation, and problems of long-range socioeconomic development. In 1934 a collective work was published by Kh. Choibalsan, D. Losol, and D. Demid, analyzing Mongolian economic conditions prior to the revolution and the popular government’s first economic measures in the postrevolutionary period. From the late 1950’s scientific economic studies were promoted by directives of party congresses and decisions of plenums of the Central Committee of the MPRP on economic questions. Between the 1950’s and the early 1970’s Mongolian economists studied the country’s economic history (B. Shirendyb, Sh. Natsagdorzh), socialist construction (N. Zhagvaral, U.Kambar, B. Gungaadash, P. Nergui), agricultural economics (D. Dugar, S. Zhadamba, D. Moebuu), the economics of industry, construction, and transport (D. Zagasbaldan, D. Maidar, Ch. Sereeter, Ts. Gurbadam), the formation and development of the Mongolian working class (B. Tudev), domestic and foreign trade (P. Luvsandorzh, M. Pelzhee), and finance (O. Tsend, B. Dolgorma).

The main centers of economic science are the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences and Gosplan (State Planning Committee) of the MPR, the Higher Party School under the Central Committee of the MPRP, and the Mongolian State University. The economics journal Ediin zasgiin asuudal, the organ of the Central Committee of the MPRP, has been published since 1959. Economic material is also published in the journals Namyn am‘dral (since 1923), BNMA U-yn Shinzhlekh ukhaany akademiin medee (since 1961), and Shinzhlekh ukhaany am’dral (since 1935).

S. K. ROSHCHIN

JURISPRUDENCE. Mongolian legal scholars study problems relating to the organization and activity of the people’s khurals (S. Zhalan-aazhav, E. Avilmed) and other questions concerning the development of the socialist state. A leading authority on legal history is Sodovsuren. Textbooks on civil law and procedure have been published in Russian. Labor law has been extensively studied in connection with the preparation and adoption of the labor code in 1973, and problems of the law of agricultural associations are being examined. In criminal law and procedure Zh. Avkhia has written on crimes against the individual and R. Gunsen on crimes against socialist property. G. Sovd has publishedcourse on criminal law, and a textbook on criminal procedure has been written by Zh. Avkhia, B. Davaasambuu, and Ts. Buzhinlkham in collaboration with Soviet scholars.

Research in jurisprudence is conducted by the Division of Philosophy and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, the Institute of Philosophy, Sociology, and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, the Institute for the Study of the Causes and Prevention of Crime under the Procuracy of the MPR, and the law department of the Mongolian State University. The legal journals are Ardyn tor and Sotsialist khuul’es.

Scientific institutions. A system of scientific institutions was organized after the victory of the people’s revolution in 1921. The Scientific Committee was established in 1921 and renamed the Committee of Sciences of the MPR in 1929.At first the committee studied historical and philological problems, but from the late 1920’s it became increasingly active in scientific and economic research. In the 1930’s sectors for the study of national economic questions were organized within the committee, including offices of farming, livestock raising, and geology. In 1961 the committee was reorganized to form the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, the country’s main center for research in the social and natural sciences. In addition to the Academy of Sciences, more than 30 research institutions under various ministries and government departments conduct scientific work, including institutes of livestock raising and veterinary medicine,plant breeding and farming, and fodder and pastures (all under the Ministry of Agriculture), as well as institutes of pedagogy, medicine, and construction. Scientific work is coordinated by the State Committee on Science and Technology and by the Academy of Sciences of the MPR.

REFERENCES

Shirendev, B. “Mongol ornoo tal burees n’ tanin sudlakhyg khicheezh baina.” Shinzhlekh ukhaan am’dral, 1971, no. 6.
“Ard tymniig uilchlegch Shinzhlekh ukhaan 50 zhild.” Zaluuchuudyn unen, February 17, 1971.

In 1972 there were 12 central and 18 local newspapers and a number of magazines whose total circulation exceeded 1 million copies. The leading newspapers and magazines are published in Ulan Bator. The daily Unen (Truth), published since 1925 and with a circulation of 113,000 in 1975, is the organ of the Central Committee of the MPRP and the Council of Ministers of the MPR. The monthly magazine Namyn am’dral (Party Life), published since 1923 and withcirculation of 25,000 (1975), is the organ of the Central Committee of the MPRP. The newspaper Khudulmur (Labor), founded in 1930 and published three times weekly, is the organ of the Central Council of Trade Unions of the MPR (circulation in 1975, 60,000). Zaluchudyn unen (Young People’s Truth), a newspaper founded in 1924 and published three times weekly (circulation in 1975, 60,000), is the organ of the Central Committee of the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League. The newspaper Novosti Mongolii (News of Mongolia) has been issued twice weekly since 1947. Its Russian-language edition had a circulation of 10,000 in 1975, and its Chinese edition, 1,000. Mongol uls (Mongolia),monthly illustrated magazine devoted to social and political affairs, literature, and the arts, has appeared since 1956 (circulation of Mongolian-language edition, 12,000 in 1975; Russian edition, 19,000; English edition, 1,000). The quarterly Mongolyn emegteichud (Mongolian Women), founded in 1925, had a circulation of 30,000 in 1975.

In 1957 a government telegraph agency, the Mongolian Telegraph Agency (MONTsAME), was established. The agency supplies the Mongolian press, radio, and television with information on foreign affairs and publishes a newspaper and information bulletins in English and French. Radio broadcasting, begun in 1934, is controlled by the State Committee for Information, Radio, and Television of the Council of Ministers of the MPR. There are two radio centers, one at Ulan Bator and the other at Ulegei. The radio center at Ulan Bator broadcasts in Mongolian on two programs (21 hours daily). Broadcasts in Russian, Chinese, English, French, and Kazakh are transmitted regularly (30 hours a week).

A television center went into operation in Ulan Bator in 1967. Since 1969 telecasts to Ulan Bator have been relayed by the Orbit space telecommunications station. Three television programs—a national program and two Orbit programs—are broadcast six days a week.

A. A. POZDNIAKOV

Mongolian folklore has a wealth of genres, including songs, epic songs, heroic legends, tales, iorols (good wishes), magtaals (eulogistic songs), surgaals (precepts), legends, riddles, proverbs, and sayings. Strong folkloric traditions account for the vitality of Mongolian epic literature, famous for the legend of Geser Khan and the folk epic Dzhangar (also found among the Kalmyks) about the flourishing land of Bumba and its hero and defender, Dzhangar. Epigraphsfrom the 12th and 13th centuries and the inscriptions on the cliffs of Khalkha Tsokto-taidzhi (1580–1637) attest to the great influence of folk songs and to the epic quality of Mongolian poetry. The work known as the Golden Horde Birch-bark Manuscript (early 14th century; Hermitage, Leningrad) provides examples of dialogue folk songs. The first known Mongolian written work, the Secret History (not earlier than 1240), by an anonymous author or group of authors, is both a historical and a literary work. The literature of the 13th and 14th centuries has survived only in fragmentary form in later works, chiefly 17th-century chronicles. These chronicles contain the famous Legend of Argasun-khuurch, Conversation of the Orphan Boy With the Nine Knights of Genghis Khan, and Legend of the Rout of the Three Hundred Taidzhiuts. Among later works incorporated in the chronicles are the 15th-century Lament of Togontemur and Legendof the Wise Mandukhai, The Khan’s Wife and the 16th-century Tale of Ubashi-khun-taizh. Three 17th-century chronicles are outstanding for their literary qualities: the anonymous Yellow Story, Lubsan Dandzan’s Golden Legend, and Sagan Setsen’s Jeweled Button.

A notable feature of original 19th-century Mongolian literature is the diversity of its genres. Inzhinash (1837–92) wrote the historical trilogy The Blue Chronicle and the novel of everyday life The One-story Pavilion. Khuul’ch Sandag wasmaster of folk satire in verse. Outstanding poets included D. Ravzhaa (1803–56), Gulransa (1820–51), Ishdanzanvanzhil (1854–1907), Luvsandondov (1854–1909), Khishigbat (1849–1916), and Gamal (1871–1916). Genden Meeren (1820–82) wrote the allegorical tale Dog, Cat, and Mouse. These works are marked by democratic anti-feudal tendencies.

Literature in translation flourished from the time of the Yuan empire, which lasted from the 1270’s to 1368. Among the translated works were Santideva’s narrative poem Kalila and Dimna, an Iranian version of the Pancatantra; One Hundred Thousand Songs by the Tibetan hermit poet Milaraiba, and the collection of aphorisms Subashita. The 108-volume Kanjur, containing not only scholarly treatises but also works on linguistics, versification, and rhetoric, and the 225-volume Tanjur, a commentary to the Kanjur, were translated for several centuries and printed in the 18th century. The afterwords to some translations name the translator. Choidzhi-odser, for example, wrote the verse afterword and commentary to his translation of the Bodhicaryavatara (14th century). Many tales and stories of Indian origin circulated widely, such as the Tales of the Vampire, the Pancatantra stories, and the legend of King Vikramaditya. Chinesenovels were transmitted orally. Especially popular were Shih Nai-an’s Water Margin, Lo Kuan-chung’s Three Kingdoms, Wu Ch’eng-en’s Monkey, and Ts’ao Hsiieh-ch’in’s Dream in the Red Chamber, and the short stories of P’u Sungling.

After the People’s Revolution of 1921 the young literature of Mongolia, drawing upon folklore, absorbed the best traditions of the literary heritage and expanded its ties with progressive world literature, primarily with classical Russian and Soviet literature. New genres developed, among which drama held a special place. A group of revolutionary writers banded together in 1929, forming the Mongolian Association of Revolutionary Writers in 1930. The new literature was inaugurated with the revolutionary songs Shive Kiakhta and Red Banner and with amateur plays on topical subjects (Sando amban’ 1922). Outstanding plays were written by D. Natsagdorzh (1906–37), one of the founders of contemporary Mongolian literature, and the talented writers S. Buiannemekh (1902–37), M. ladamsuren (1902–37), Sh. Aiusha (1904–37), and D. Namdag (born 1911). The first Mongolian novellas were published in the 1920’s, notably Lake Tolbo by Ulaan-otorch (pseudonym of Ts. Dambadorzh, 1900–34) and The Rejected Maiden by Ts. Damdinsuren (born 1908). Most of Natsagdorzh’s best works were written in the 1930’s—poetry, stories, lyrical miniatures, several plays, including the first national musical drama, Three Sorrowing Hills, and the first chapters of the story The Unthreaded Pearl. Damdinsuren wrote verses and the narrative poem My Gray-haired Mother (1934), expressing love for his mother and devotion to his homeland. Although they were profoundly national writers who continued folk traditions, Natsagdorzh and Damdinsuren were influenced by progressive foreign literature. Their works represent the first successes of socialist realism in Mongolian literature.

Many new poets and prose writers emerged in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The rout of Japanese forces near the Khalkhin-Gol River in 1939, the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union (1941–45), and the MPR’s participation in the defeat ofthe Kwantung Army in the autumn of 1945 were portrayed in many works, and Mongolian-Soviet friendship became a dominant theme. Solidarity with the Soviet people was a central motif in the works of S. Dashdendev (born 1912), D. Tsevegmed (born 1915), Ch. Lkhamsuren (born 1917), P. Khorloo (born 1917), and D. Tarva (born 1923). National drama developed, and Mongolia’s past was evoked in the plays of Namdag, Ts. Tsedenzhav (born 1913), and B. Baast(born 1921). Folk plays were written by Ch. Oidov (1917–63) and plays on contemporary themes by D. Sengee (1916–59), E. Oiuun (born 1918), Ch. Lodoidamba (1917–70), and L. Vangan (1920–68). Sengee is also known for his many fine verses, songs, and narrative poems and his story “Aiuush” (1947) about a hero of the MPR.

A significant achievement of the 1950’s and 1960’s was the development of the novel, supplanting poetry, as the dominant genre. B. Rinchen (born 1905) and Lodoidamba wrote the first Mongolian novels. Mongolian society of the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries is portrayed in Rinchen’s novel Dawn on the Steppe (books 1–3, 1951–55). Lodoidamba’s novel In the Altai (1949) depicts a geological expedition and the molding of the new man. Lodoidamba’s most popular novel, Transparent Tamir (books 1–2, 1962–67), is a vast, multilevel work portraying the people’s revolution of 1921 and the lives of the toilers of Mongolia. Other novels dealing with the revolution are Troubled Years by Namdag, Grief and Happiness by Ts. Ulambaiar (born 1911), and Red Sun by Dashdendev. Outstanding novelists today are Zh. Purev (born 1921), L. Tudev (born 1935), and S. Dashdoorov (born 1935). The central theme in Tudev’s novels is socialist Mongolia and the passionate desire to create a new life (Mountain Stream, 1960; Migration, 1964).

The novella and short-story genres continue to develop. In Baast’s collections of short stories contemporary problems are intertwined with themes from the history of the revolution. The stories of M. Gaadamba (born 1924) deal with moral questions. The women writers Oiuun and S. Udval (born 1921) portray the lives of Mongolian women. Udval is best known for her short-story collection We Will Meet You (1965). The novellas of D. Miatmar (born 1933)— We and the Earth(1965), The Miller (1966), and The Miller’s Daughter (1966)—are imbued with humanitarian ideas. Ethical and moral problems are explored in Damdinsuren’s short-story collection Strange Wedding (1966). S. Erdene (born 1929) is a master of the psychological, lyrical short story. His best works are the short-story collection Dust From Under the Hooves (1964) and the novellas Year of the Blue Mouse (1970) and Grass Beneath the Snow (1971). The stories and novellas of the 1960’s and early 1970’s are devoted to actual conflicts and goals and portray heroes united by socialist ideas.

Among outstanding contemporary poets are Ts. Gaitav (born 1929), the author of the narrative poems Lenin Is With Us (1963), Karl Marx (1964), Sukhe-Bator (1967), and Friedrich Engels (1973); B. lavuukhulan (born 1929), a master oflyric and civic poetry; and Ch. Chimid (born 1927), a poet, prose writer, and playwright. Other noteworthy poets include D. Purevdorzh (born 1933), Sh. Surenzhav (born 1938), P. Purevsuren (born 1939), Sh. Dulma (born 1934), and M. Tsedendorzh (born 1932).

In the 1970’s many foreign works were translated into Mongolian. The works of contemporary writers, while preserving national traits, attest to the influence of progressive world literature.

The Union of Writers of the MPR regulates literary life; five congresses of Mongolian writers have been held. The Union of Writers publishes the journal Tsog (since 1944), the newspaper Utga zokhiol urlag (since 1955), and the literary miscellany Collection of Inspired Words (since 1929). The writings of young people are published in the yearbook Snowdrop.

REFERENCES

Vladimirtsov, B. “Mongol’skaia literatura.” In the collection Literatura Vostoka, issue 2. Petrograd, 1920.
Mongolo-oiratskii geroicheskii epos. Petrograd-Moscow, 1923.
Gerasimovich, L. K. Literatura Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki 1921–1964 godov. [Leningrad] 1965.
Mikhailov, G. I. Literaturnoe nasledstvo mongolov. Moscow, 1969.
Mikhailov, G., and K. latskovskaia. Mongol’skaia literatura. Moscow, 1969.
Shastina, N. P. “Obraz Chingiskhana v srednevekovoi literature mongolov.” In the collection Tataro-mongoly v Azii i Evrope. Moscow, 1970.
Shastina, N. P. “Povest’ o spore mal’chika-siroty s deviat’iu vitiaziami Chingisa.” In the collection Strany i narody Vostoka, issue 11. Moscow, 1971.
Kara, D. Knigi mongol’skikh kochevnikov. Moscow, 1972.
Voprosy literatury, 1973, no. 12. (Issue devoted to the literature of the MPR.)
Luhsan, Danzan. Altai tobchi (The Golden Tale). Introduction, commentary, and appendixes by N. P. Shastina. Moscow, 1973. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Molodye poety Mongolii (collection). Introductory article by K. latskovskaia. Moscow, 1973. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Pesni aratov. Iz mongol’skoi narodnoi poezii. Compiled by G. Mikhailov and translated by N. Grebnev. Moscow, 1973.

K. N. IATSKOVSKAIA

The earliest works of art found in Mongolia, dating from the early Bronze Age, include depictions of animals engraved or painted on rock and copper and bronze knives decorated with pictures of animals, at first lifelike and later stylized. From the beginning of the Iron Age stylized figures of animals (such as running deer), in the Scythian animal style appear on bronze articles and “deer stones” (grave pillars or slabs). Imported and locally made utensils, fabrics, felt rugs,and decorated harnesses dating from the late first century B.C. and early first century A.D. have been found in the burial mounds of the Hun aristocracy in Noin-Ula. On metal articles, fanciful figures of wild animals in a refined animal style are frequently accompanied by insets of stones or colored paste. Hun cities had a square layout and were enclosed by earthen ramparts. They included artisan quarters, the palaces of rulers, and dwellings.

During the ascendancy of the Turkic khanate in the sixth to eighth centuries, handicrafts developed. Harnesses and weapons were covered with designs in which floral elements predominated. Memorial sculpture, represented by malestone figures at graves and stelae on tortoise-shaped bases, became widespread. Realistic depictions, such as the head of the statue of Kiul’-Tegin, existed alongside stylized representations, chiefly of animals, exemplified by the engravings on the grave slab of Kiul’-Tegin. Remains from the time of the Uighur khanate (745–840) include the ruins of the capital, Ordu-Balyk, later called Khara-Balgas, which had a regular layout, defensive structures, houses, and temples. Also dating from this period are reliefs on stone stelae and ceramics with stamped patterns.

Under the Khitan, from the tenth to 12th centuries, many cities were built. The cities generally had a square layout and were surrounded by moats and earthen ramparts. They were dissected by one or more streets lined with administrative buildings, temples, and homes; yurts and tents stood in the areas that were not built up. Excavations of the city of Bars-Khot I (tenth to 12th centuries) have uncovered the remains of a Buddhist temple and pagodas,reflecting both local traditions and Chinese influence, altars, and clay figures of divinities and animals. The ruins of the palace of Khan Ugedei and the heathen temples uncovered at Karakorum date from the time of the formation of the Mongolian feudal state and the rise of the Mongolian feudal empire in the late 12th and first half of the 13th centuries.

Between the 16th and the early 20th centuries the felt yurt with a wooden frame was the main type of dwelling in the Mongolian khanates and principalities. With the spread of Lamaism from the late 16th century many monasteries and temples were erected. Religious buildings made of wood appeared—frame structures with plank roofs that resembled yurts. Brick religious structures based on Chinese models and stone buildings of the Tibetan type were also erected. Oustanding examples of such architecture may be found in the monasteries of Erdenidzu and Amur-Baiaskhulantukhite. “Mixed” temples, combining Mongolian and Chinese, Tibetan and Chinese, or Tibetan and Mongolian features, have been preserved in the monasteries of Da-Khure and Gandan in Ulan Bator. Distinctive memorial structures, called suburgans, were developed, exemplified in the Bodisuburgan in Erdenidzu.

Painting of the 16th through early 20th centuries is represented by Buddhist compositions executed in gouache pigments on canvas and by wall paintings on dry plaster with engraved outlines. The influence of Tibetan, Chinese, and Nepalese painting is reflected in the strictly canonical composition, delicate drawing, and vivid colors of Mongolian art. The basic materials used in temple sculpture were clay, wood, and papier-mache, although the largest statues of deities and lamas were cast in bronze, brightly painted, and gilded. An important sculptor of the second half of the 17th century was Dzanabazar. In the late 19th century secular painting developed, including portraits, pictures of Mongolian everyday life and landscapes, and satirical works (Sharav).

In applied art, utensils and clothing were adorned with animal, floral (since the 13th century), and geometric designs. Embroidery and applique work on clothing and leather footwear was distinguished by a combination of contrasting colors. By the mid-17th century embossed and engraved bronze and silver articles of high quality were produced. Other important crafts were woodcarving (animal figurines and ornamental boxes) and the production of papier-mache masks of deities.

With the formation of the Mongolian People’s Republic in 1924, the country embarked on civil and industrial construction, the reconstruction of old cities (Ulan Bator), and the building of new cities and settlements with regular layouts (Darkhan, Nalaikha, and Sain-Shand) with the aid of the USSR. The centers of aimaks and somons (districts), such as Choibalsan and Tsetserleg, were built on the sites of monasteries. Public buildings of the 1920’s and 1930’s show the influence of Soviet constructivism. During the 1940’s and early 1950’s the facades of public buildings, for example, the university in Ulan Bator (1943–46), were decorated with porticoes, colonnades, and indigenous designs. Since the mid-1950’s buildings adapted to local climatic conditions have taken on clarity of spatial composition, notably the Shilen Baishin Exposition Pavilion built in Ulan Bator in 1964. Industrial methods of construction have been use dextensively in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

In the 1920’s, the painter Sharav and later his student Manibadar transformed Mongolian art, creating works on contemporary subjects and often employing chiaroscuro and linear perspective. Since the early 1950’s the range of subjects treated by such artists as ladamsuren, Sengetsokhio, and Damdinsuren has broadened, and national painting techniques have been successfully combined with European styles. The first oil paintings were executed by Choidog, Tsevegzhav, Gava, Tsultem, and Amgalan. Graphic art (S. Natsagdorzh, Sosoi) and sculpture (Choimbol, Zhamba) have flourished since the mid-1950’s. In applied art the production of porcelain and various kinds of ceramics and bonecarving are developing alongside traditional crafts.

REFERENCES

Zhivopis’ Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki (album). Moscow, 1960.
Shchepetil’nikov, N. M. Arkhitektura Mongolii. Moscow, 1960. (Bibliography.)
Sovremennoe iskusstvo Mongolii (catalog). Moscow, 1968.
Maidar, D. Arkhitektura i gradostroitel’stvo Mongolii. Moscow, 1972.

L. A. EVTIUKHOVA (ancient art), N. M. SHCHEPETIL’NIKOV (architecture of the 13th to 20th centuries), and O. N. GLUKHAREVA (fine and applied art of the 13th to 20th centuries)

The ancient traditions of Mongolian musical culture were passed on by the khurs (khur players), uligers (bards), duus (soloists), and khogzhims (instrumentalists). Mongolian folk music, based on the pentatonic scale, consists of songs,epics, and instrumental music. Folk songs are single-voiced, and there are two kinds: the slow “long” songs, called urt-duu, which have a large range and rich ornamentation, and the “short” songs, called bogino-duu, which are simpler in rhythm and composition. Songs are sung to the accompaniment of folk instruments, the most important of which are the limbe (a kind of flute), the morin khur and khuchir (bowed stringed instruments), the shanza (played with a plectrum),and the eochina (cymbals).

The first Mongolian revolutionary song, “Shive Kiakhta” (The Capture of Kiakhta Fortress), was written in 1921. It was followed by “Red Banner,” “Song of the Airplane,” and other songs by outstanding composers and bards; notably Ishdulam’s “Lenin Our Teacher” and “The Song of Lenin and Sukhe-Bator,” U. Luvsan-khurchi’s “Marx and Lenin,” and M. Dugarzhav’s “Song of Sukhe-Bator.” Professional music originated and developed under the people’s government.The first musical dramas arose out of the dialogue songs of the bards. In 1942 the State Musical-Dramatic Theater was founded in Ulan Bator for staging musical dramas. The first symphony orchestra, formed in 1945, became the State Symphony Orchestra in 1950. In the 1940’s and 1950’s young composers, singers, conductors, and chorus masters received their musical education in the USSR and other socialist countries.

In 1963 a group of performers from the State Musical-Dramatic Theater formed the State Opera and Ballet Theater, which during the 1960’s and 1970’s staged many European classical and contemporary operas and ballets, as well as works by the Mongolian composers S. Gonchiksumla, B. Damdinsuren, L. Murdorzh, D. Luvsansharav, and E. Choidog. The theater’s conductor is Zh. Chulun and its ballet master is B. Zham’iandagva. The People’s Song and Dance Ensemble of the MPR, founded in 1950, has performed many times in the USSR and in European, Asian, and African countries. The State Symphony Orchestra performs classical and contemporary symphonic works and encourages new works by Mongolian composers. The Union of Composers was founded in 1964, and the State Philharmonic Society was organized in 1972. A school of music and choreography has been established in Ulan Bator.

REFERENCES

Smirnov, B. F. Muzykal’naia kul’tura Mongolii. Moscow, 1963.
Smirnov, B. F. Mongol’skaia narodnaia muzyka. Moscow, 1971.
Kondrat’ev, S. A. Muzyka mongol’skogo eposa i pesen. Moscow, 1970.

S. N. RIAUZOV

Theatrical art in Mongolia dates from ancient times. The Mongols’ dances, particularly the bieleg dance, and rituals associated with marriage, birth, and harvest festivals contained elements of dramatization. Later these elements were incorporated into the tsam, a religious play that arose in the 17th century with the spread of Buddhism in Central Asia, and into the secular court theater. Princes maintained court theaters, where talented enserfed arats were taught to sing, dance, and play musical instruments. Court plays were presented annually, and puppet performances were given in the streets during New Year celebrations. The first public play, The Moon Cuckoo, was presented in the 1830’s.

After the triumph of the people’s revolution and the proclamation of the people’s republic in 1924, amateur theater groups flourished. Musical-dramatic groups that later developed into professional theaters were organized in Ulan Bator in the 1920’s. Plays were staged in the tradition of folk presentations. A drama studio was founded in Ulan Bator in 1930 and reorganized as the Central Mongolian State Theater in 1931; in 1942 it was renamed the State Musical-Dramatic Theater. The theater’s repertoire includes plays by Mongolian playwrights (D. Natsagdorzh, S. Buiannemekh, Sh. Aiuush, M. ladamsuren, D. Namdag, Ch. Oidov, and Ch. Chimid), Soviet plays and Russian and European classics. The Mongolian theater has assimilated the experience of the Soviet theatrical school. In 1963 the State Musical-Dramatic Theater was divided into the State Opera and Ballet Theater and the D. Natsagdorzh State Drama Theater. The Central Children’s Theater opened in Ulan Bator in 1950, and the Puppet Theater was founded in 1948. There are musical-dramatic theaters in various aimak centers, including Ulegei, Kobdo, Ulangom, and Choibalsan.

REFERENCE

Uvarova, G. Sovremennyi mongol’skii teatr, 1921–1945. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.

Circus. Indian fakirs performed at the courts of the country’s spiritual rulers from the 16th century. Itinerant Chinese circuses displayed their art in the cities, at first in the streets and later in special open areas. During folk holidays competitions were held in horsemanship, wrestling, and archery. A professional Mongolian circus was established after the proclamation of people’s power in Outer Mongolia. A sports group was organized in Ulan Bator in 1934, several members of which studied circus arts in the USSR from 1936 to 1939 (Radnabazar, Gombo, and Natsag). Upon returning to the MPR, they became the organizers and leading artists of the first professional Mongolian circus. A building for circus performances opened in 1941. Other Mongolian circus artists noted for their many-faceted talent are Danzan and Damdinsuren, Maiia Norovtseren, Sandag, Tsrendulam Minzhin, Erdenetsetseg, Kh. Tsendaiush, and Ts.Tserendorzh. Directors include Zh. Damdisuren, Niamdash, Ichinnorov, and Natsag, who offers not only individual numbers but also extended presentations based on a single theme and children’s plays. The Mongolian circus has been greatly assisted by Soviet circus artists and the State School of Circus and Vaudeville Art. The new building of the Mongolian State Circus was opened in Ulan Bator in 1971. Mongolian performers participated in the Druzhba (Friendship)Program, together with circus artists from Bulgaria, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Poland, Rumania, the USSR, and Czechoslovakia.

A. IA. SHNEER

The Mongolkino film studio, established in Ulan Bator in 1935, initially released documentaries, producing its first feature film in 1937. The development of a national cinematic art and the training of film artists were greatly aided by the work of Soviet cinematographers in Mongolia and by the participation of Mongolian actors and cameramen in producing such Soviet films as Son of Mongolia (1935, director I. Z. Trauberg), His Name Is Sukhe-Bator (1942, directors A. G.Zarkhi and I. E. Kheifits), and Steppe Heroes (1945, director lu. V. Tarich).

An important Mongolian film is Two Herdsmen (1955), directed by Ts. Zandra. The outstanding films What Hinders Us (1956), If Only I Had a Horse! (1959), The Call of the Heart (1966), and Transparent Tamir (1970, based on the novel by G. Lodoidamba) were directed by R. Dorzhpalam, the last of these in collaboration with Ch. Dolgosuren. Outcome (1968), directed by A. I. Bobrovskii and Zh. Buntar, was produced jointly with the USSR. Envoy of the People (1959), Flood (1966), and Harsh Morning (1969) were directed by D. Zhigzhid, and In the Den (1973) was directed by B. Sumkhuu. Three feature films and about 30 documentaries were released in 1973.

The leading film actors are G. Gombosuren, D. Ichinkhorlo, Ts. Dashnamzhil, L. Lkhasuren, D. Gombozhav, Ts. Tsevegmid, Z. Tsendekhu, and T. Tsevenzhav. Other noteworthy figures are M. Bolod, Ts. Navan, and B. Damdorzh, who make documentaries; the scriptwriter L. Vangan; and the composer D. Luvsansharav.

Communist Platform – Gramsci: a Bolshevik

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One of the greatest inaccuracies spread by the opportunist politicians and the bourgeois intellectuals about Antonio Gramsci is the alleged distance, or even opposition, between his positions and those supported by Lenin and Stalin, and consequently his closeness to the ideas of Trotsky.

The origins of this legend are remote and well orchestrated, beginning with the fascist “Il Messaggero”, which, on May 12, 1937, announcing Gramsci’s death, spoke in an ignorant and cowardly fashion of “his fidelity to Trotsky”.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Gramsci’s “Trotskyism” was the daily bread of revisionist swindlers, which in this way constructed the unworthy and undeserved myth of the alienation or even aversion between the “good” Gramsci and the “evil” Stalin.

In reality, by examining the texts exactly the opposite emerges, namely a coincidence with the Bolshevik positions and a clear criticism of the positions of Trotsky and other opponents of Stalin. So let us now let Gramsci speak.

In his activity of leader and secretary of the Communist Party of Italy

In 1924 Gramsci, in his address to the “Conference of Como”, for the first time sketched a parallel between Bordiga and Trotsky (who also had differences between them), criticizing both:

“Trotsky’s attitude, initially, can be compared to comrade Bordiga’s at present. Trotsky, although taking part ‘in a disciplined manner’ in the work of the party, had through his attitude of passive opposition – similar to Bordiga’s -created a state of unease throughout the Party, which could not fail to get a whiff of this situation. […] This shows that an opposition – even kept within the limits of a formal discipline – on the part of exceptional personalities in the workers’ movement, can not merely hamper the development of the revolutionary situation, but can put in danger the very conquests of the revolution.”

(“The Building of the Communist Party.” English translation from Antonio Gramsci, Selections from Political Writings, 1921-1926, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1990, pp. 252-3).

In the following year Gramsci, pursuing his struggle for the bolshevization of the Party, asserted that Trotsky’s positions about “American super-capitalism” were dangerous and had to be rejected because,

“postponing the revolution indefinitely would shift the whole tactics of the Communist International […] They would also shift the tactics of the Russian State, since if one postpones the European revolution for an entire historical phase – if in other words, the Russian working class will not for a long time be able to count on the support of the proletariat of other countries – it is evidence that the Russian revolution must be modified.”

(Gramsci, Report to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Italy, February 6, 1925. Ibid., p. 284.)

Gramsci was always aware of the importance of the struggle against the deviations from Leninism and against factionalism. Therefore, in the same report he stated:

“The resolution should also say that Trotsky’s conceptions, and above all his attitude, represent a danger inasmuch as the lack of party unity, in a country in which there is only one party, splits the State. This produces a counter-revolutionary movement; […] Finally, lessons should be drawn from the Trotsky question for our party. Before the last disciplinary measures, Trotsky was in the same position as Bordiga is at present in our party: he played a purely figurative role in the Central Committee. His position created a tendentially factional situation, just as Bordiga’s attitude maintains an objectively factional situation in our party. […] Bordiga’s attitude, like that of Trotsky, has disastrous repercussions.”

(Ibid., p. 284.)

Again in 1925, on the occasion of the Fifth Plenum of the enlarged Executive Committee of the Communist International, the Italian delegation, led by Gramsci, sided in favor of Stalin’s positions concerning the criticism of Trotsky without reservations.

For Gramsci, the decision to build socialism in the USSR under the conditions of capitalist encirclement was perfectly consistent with the needs of a period characterized by the relative stabilization of capitalism and the ebbing of the revolutionary wave.

Therefore his intransigent criticism of Trotsky, of his strategy of “permanent revolution”, which he considered incorrect, simplistic and insufficient, and his firm commitment to the strategy and politics of the Bolshevik leadership which, as we shall see, he would confirm in his Prison Notebooks.

Gramsci was always concerned for the cohesion of the Russian party, which was needed by the proletariat at both a national and international level.

In those years, in which the divergent positions between the Soviet party headed by Stalin and the Zinovievist and Trotskyist bloc were become programmatic, Gramsci several times warned about the risks of a split which the international bourgeoisie could take advantage of in order to overthrow proletarian power in Russia.

With regard to the struggle engaged in by the CC of RCP (b) against the opposition bloc of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev, Gramsci wrote:

“In fact, one question is of the greatest importance in the measures jointly adopted by the Central Committee and the Control Commission of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R.: the defense of the organizational unity of the Party itself. It is evident that, on this ground, no concession or compromise is possible, whoever promotes the work of the disintegration of the Party, whatever the nature and degree of their past merits, whatever the position that they hold at the head of the communist organization. […] So we think that the whole International must gather closely around the Central Committee of the Communist Party of USSR in order to approve of its energy, rigor and resolution in striking implacably at whoever threatens the unity of the Party.”

(Measures of the C.C. of C.P. of the U.S.S.R. in Defence of the Unity of the Party and against the Work of the Faction, in L’Unita, July 27, 1926).

The same concern for the organizational and ideological unity of the Soviet party, and its national and international implications (particularly the struggle that was taking place in Italy for the development of the Party) inspired the famous letter

“To the Central Committee of Soviet Communist Party” written in October of 1926 (published in Antonio Gramsci, Selections…, op. cit. pp. 426-432).

In this letter Gramsci intervened, in the name of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Italy, in the harsh political battle that was developing in the USSR between the Bolshevik leading group and the Trotskyist- Zinovievist opposition, declaring “basically correct the political line of the majority of the Central Committee of the CPSU”. (ibid., p. 430), headed by Stalin.

Although Gramsci was only partially informed about the Russian situation, his siding with the Leninist majority was vigorous and unequivocal. His accusation against the opposition bloc was very harsh and motivated by a main reason, explained by Gramsci in very clear terms:

“We repeat that we are struck by the fact that the attitude of the opposition [Zinoviev, Kamenev and Trotsky] concerns the entire political line of the Central Committee, and touches the very heart of the Leninist doctrine and the political action of our Soviet party. It is the principle and practice of the proletariat s hegemony that are brought into question; the fundamental relations of alliance between workers and peasants that are disturbed and placed in danger: i.e. the pillars of the workers‘ State and the revolution.” (ibid., p. 431).

Being a fierce supporter of Leninist principles, Gramsci in the same letter harshly criticized

“the root of the errors of the Joint Opposition, and the origin of the latent dangers contained in its activities. In the ideology and practice of the Joint Opposition are born again, to the full, the whole tradition of social- democracy and syndicalism which has hitherto prevented the Western proletariat from organizing itself as a leading class.” (ibid., p. 432).

It is a stance that Gramsci further reinforced in the following letter “Gramsci to Togliatti” (October 26, 1926) (ibid., pp. 437-440), in which, thinking about the slowness of the Bolshevization process inside the Western parties, he wrote:

“The Russian discussion and the ideology of the opposition contribute all the more to this halting and slowing down, in that the opposition represents in Russia all the old prejudices of class corporatism and syndicalism which weigh upon the tradition of the Western proletariat, and delay its ideological and political development.” (Ibid., p. 439.)

And he concluded by pointing out:

“Our letter was a whole indictment of the opposition, not made in demagogic terms, but precisely for that reason more effective and more serious.” (ibid., p. 440).

Therefore an interpretation of these letters that aims to strengthen the idea of a “Trotskyist Gramsci” or a vacillating Gramsci is completely without foundation. It is very clear on which side Gramsci stood in the struggle that developed within the Russian party: on the side of the Bolshevik majority of the Party members.

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In the Prison Notebooks

As is well-known, the revisionists assert that in his Prison Notebooks Gramsci does not write about Stalin, except indirectly, and that when he mentions Stalin’s USSR, he does it in a critical way (see, for instance, the thesis of G. Vacca in L ‘URSS staliniana nell ‘analisi dei Quaderni del carcere [Stalin’s USSR in the analysis of the Prison Notebooks] in Gorbacev e la sinistra europea [Gorbachev and the European Left], Rome 1989, p. 75).

These are unscrupulous lies and deceptions, because the passages in Prison Notebooks that deal with Soviet socialism are all in favor of Lenin and Stalin and against Trotsky.

There are four questions that Gramsci examines in his Notebooks in order to defend Bolshevism and criticize Trotsky: 1) The theory of the permanent revolution; 2) The stages of the revolution, and the consequent strategy and tactics; 3) The industrialization in the USSR; 4) The relation between internationalism and national policy.

Let us now examine the corresponding notes in the Prison Notebooks, on the basis of the edition prepared by the International Gramsci Society (IGS) (the text corresponds to the critical edition edited by V. Gerratana and published by Einaudi in 1975).

In square brackets we insert the necessary explanations of the pseudonyms (for instance, in the Notebooks Lenin is called Ilyich, Stalin is named Vissarionovich, Trotsky is sometimes called Bronstein, sometimes Leon Davidovich) and rewordings used by Gramsci in order to elude the fascist censorship.

1. Gramsci already wrote about Trotsky in Notebook 1, §44, at the end of an important note entitled “Political class leadership before and after assuming government power”. Inspired by the historic events of the Italian Unification, he referred to the enormous and unprecedented challenges that the Soviet government had to face. In this note Gramsci dealt directly with the Trotskyist slogan of the “permanent revolution”:

“As regards the ‘Jacobin‘ slogan which Marx directed at the Germany of 1848-49 [the idea of uninterrupted revolution], its complex fortunes should be examined. Revived, systematized, elaborated, intellectualized by the Parvus-Bronstein [Helphand-Trotsky] group, it proved inert and ineffective in 1905 and afterward: it was an abstract thing that belonged to the scientific laboratory. The tendency which opposed it [Bolshevism] in this intellectualized form, however, without using it ‘intentionally’, in fact employed it in its historical, concrete, living form adapted to the time and place as something that sprang from all the pores of the society which had to be transformed, as the alliance of two classes [working class and peasants] with the hegemony of the urban class [the working class]”.

(Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, Columbia University Press, 1992-, Vol. 1, p. 151.)

According to Gramsci, modern “Jacobinism” expressed itself above all in a policy of alliance with the peasantry, under the hegemony of the working class. So Gramsci evaluated the correct Bolshevik policy conducted by Stalin against the Trotskyist thesis of the “permanent revolution”. This thesis underestimated the importance of the poor peasants as a revolutionary force, and expressed complete distrust in the ability of the proletariat to lead all the exploited and oppressed people in the revolution, until it arrived at the impossibility of building socialism in one single country.

The note ends with a very harsh accusation against Trotsky, who is compared with the reactionary bourgeois Crispi:

“In the one case [Trotsky], a Jacobin temperament without the adequate political content, typified by Crispi; in the second case [Bolshevism], a Jacobin temperament and content in keeping with the new historical relations, rather than adhering to an intellectualistic label.” (Ibid., p. 151.)]

It is interesting to observe that Gramsci took up this same note almost completely in Notebook 19, written in 1934-35, that is, after the definitive break with Trotskyism.

Gramsci returned to the question of the “permanent revolution” in Notebook 7, §16, in a famous note titled “War of position and war of maneuver, or frontal war”:

“One should determine whether Bronstein’s [Trotsky] famous theory about the permanence of movement is not a political reflection of the theory of the war of maneuver (remember the observation by the Cossack general Krasnov); whether it is not, in the final analysis, a reflection of the general-economic-cultural-social conditions of a country in which the structures of national life are embryonic and unsettled and cannot become ‘trench or fortress. ‘In that case one might say that Bronstein, while appearing to be ‘Western,‘ was in fact a cosmopolitan, that is, superficially national and superficially Western or European. Ilyich [Lenin], on the other hand, was profoundly national and profoundly European. In his memoirs, Bronstein recalls somebody saying that his theory had proved true… fifteen years later; he responded to the epigram with another epigram. In reality his theory, as such, was good neither fifteen years earlier nor fifteen years later.” (Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 168.)

After having opposed Lenin to Trotsky, Gramsci added:

“Bronstein’s theory can be compared to that of certain French syndicalists on the general strike and to Rosa’s [Luxemburg] theory in the little book translated by Alessandri. Rosa’s book and theory, moreover, influenced the French syndicalists.” (Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 169.)

2. In his reflections, Gramsci linked the question of the “permanent revolution” to the question of the transition from the “war of maneuver” to the “war of position”. In particular, after the defeat of the revolution in Germany in 1923, and the transition of the worker movement to defensive positions, Gramsci was convinced that the problem of the development of the revolutionary process in Europe had to be redrawn up, understanding the reasons of the temporary ebb and establishing revolutionary tasks appropriate for the new phase.

The observation contained in Notebook 6, §138 is dedicated to this fundamental strategic and tactical question:

“Past and present. Transition from the war of maneuver (and frontal assault) to the war of position – in the political field as well. In my view, this is the most important post-war problem of political theory; it is also the most difficult problem to solve correctly. This is related to the issues raised by Bronstein [Trotsky], who, in one way or another, can be considered the political theorist of frontal assault, at a time when it could only lead to defeat.” (Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 109.)

Facing the complex problem of the alternative, or rather of the combination, between “assault tactics” and “siege tactics”, which had been discussed in the Communist International, Gramsci started from a consideration of extraordinary importance, systematically ignored by the revisionists and reformists: “All this indicates that we have entered into the highest phase in the political-historical situation, since in politics the ‘war of position ‘, once won, is definitively decisive.”

On the basis of this consideration, that Gramsci realized by analyzing the profound crisis of the ability of the bourgeoisie to lead and govern, as well as the greater resistance of the State apparatus in the West and the existence of large intermediate social groups, he added in Notebook 7, §16:

“In my view, Ilyich [Lenin] understood the need for a shift from the war of maneuver that had been applied victoriously in the East in 1917, to a war of position, which was the only viable possibility in the West […] This, I believe, is the meaning of the term ‘united front’ [.] Ilyich, however, never had time to develop his formula. One should also bear in mind that Ilyich could only have developed his formula on a theoretical level, whereas the fundamental task was a national one; in other words, it required a reconnaissance of the terrain and an identification of the elements of trench and fortress represented by the components of civil society, etc.” (Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 168-169.)

We are here in the heart of the research program that Gramsci developed in the Notebooks. But there was another key aspect of the strategic and tactical methods determined by the historically created relations of forces: that of the Soviet Union. Regarding this question, Gramsci wrote (Notebook 6, §138):

“The war of position calls on enormous masses of people to make huge sacrifices; that is why an unprecedented concentration of hegemony is required and hence a more ‘interventionist’ kind of government that will engage more openly in the offensive against the opponents and ensure, once and for all, the ‘impossibility’ of internal disintegration by putting in place controls of all kinds – political, administrative, etc., reinforcement of the hegemonic positions of the dominant group, etc.” (Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 109.)

It is an open support of Stalin’s line, for the reinforcement of the proletarian dictatorship, a political line that “requires exceptional qualities of patience and inventiveness”, but was the only successful one in that concrete historic situation. A political line diametrically opposed to that of Trotsky.

3. As we have seen, a fundamental aspect of the “war of position” was the defense of Soviet power and the building of socialism. In this last case too, acute problems did arise. The criticism expressed by Gramsci at the beginning of a famous note (Notebook 4, §52) is extremely interesting:

“Americanism and Fordism. The tendency exhibited by Leon Davidovich [Trotsky] was related to this problem. Its essential content was based on the ‘will’ to give supremacy to industry and industrial methods, to accelerate the growth of discipline and orderliness in production through coercive means, to adapt customs to the necessities of work. It would have ended up, necessarily, in a form of Bonapartism; hence it was necessary to break it up inexorably.” (Ibid, Vol. 2, p. 215.)

Gramsci here takes into account one of the crucial questions of the harsh debate that involved the RCP(b) and the Communist International in the 1920s: the question of the forms and rhythms of industrialization and the NEP.

According to Gramsci, Trotsky is the highest representative of a harmful tendency, a kind of “Americanism”, based on coercion, command and the military systems.

That is, the forced and accelerated introduction of forms of production, modes of life and culture tied to the needs of private capital (in fact Gramsci recalled “‘Leon Davidovich’s interest in Americanism. His interest, his articles, his studies on “byt” [life, mode of living] and on literature”. (Ibid, Vol. 2, p. 215.)

In the same note Gramsci affirmed that “the principle of coercion in the sphere of work was correct […] but the form it assumed was wrong.” (Ibid, Vol. 2, p. 215.)

Therefore it was a position incompatible with Leninism, a position which contradicted the “temporary retreat” of the NEP and would lead to the breakup of the alliance with the peasantry and to the ruin of Soviet power. So it was a tendency that had to be smashed, as it would have led to the restoration of capitalism.

Gramsci never evinced doubts on this matter. In fact, on two other occasions he explained and approved of the elimination of Trotsky: in Notebook 14 §76, marking the elimination of Trotsky like “‘an episode of the liquidation “also” of the “black” parliamentarism which existed after the abolition of the “legal” parliament” (Selections from the prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, International Publisher, New York, 1971, p. 256); and in Notebook 22 (that can be dated to 1934), when, referring to Trotsky’s tendency, he repeated “the inexorable necessity of crushing it”. (Ibid., p. 301).

4. Last but not least, let us look at the note in Notebook 14, §68, in which Gramsci, taking as his starting point the speech of Stalin at Sverdlov University in Moscow (June 9, 1925 – see note at the end of the article), directly contrasting Stalin (Vissarionovich) and Trotsky (Davidovich).

Gramsci writes, deeply examining the question of the relation between internationalism and national policy:

“A work (in the form of questions and answers) by Joseph Vissarionovitch [Stalin] dating from September 1927: it deals with certain key problems of the science and art of politics. The problem which seems to me to need further elaboration is the following: how, according to the philosophy of praxis [Marxism] (as it manifests itself politically) – whether as formulated by its founder [Marx] or particularly as restated by its most recent theoretician [Lenin] – the international situation should be considered in its national aspect. In reality, the internal relations of any nation are the result of a combination which is ‘original’ and (in a certain sense) unique: these relations must be understood and conceived in their originality and uniqueness if one wishes to dominate them and direct them. To be sure, the line of development is towards internationalism, but the point of departure is ‘national‘ – and it is from this point of departure that one must begin. Yet the perspective is international and cannot be otherwise. Consequently, it is necessary to study accurately the combination of national forces which the international class [the proletariat] will have to lead and develop, in accordance with the international perspectives and directives [i.e. those of the Comintern]. [.] It is on this point, in my opinion, that the fundamental disagreement between Leo Davidovich [Trotsky] and Vissarionovitch [Stalin] as interpreter of the majority movement [Bolshevism] really hinges. The accusations of nationalism are inept if they refer to the nucleus of the question. If one studies the majoritarians’ struggle from 1902 up to 1917, one can see that its originality consisted in purging internationalism of every vague and purely ideological (in a pejorative sense) element, to give it a realistic political content.” (Ibid., p. 240-241.)

It is clear as day that Gramsci, tracing the “fundamental disagreement” between Trotsky/Davidovich and Stalin/ Vissarionovitch, shared Stalin’s position, the interpretation of Bolshevism that, in Gramsci’s opinion, correctly put forward and resolved the problem of the combination of national forces that the international class must lead and develop in the perspective of world communism.

One of the best Bolsheviks

In the light of the texts, an interpretation of Gramsci’s thought in a Trotskyist sense is groundless. On the contrary, from Gramsci’s work, including the reflections contained in the Prison Notebooks, there emerges a ruthless criticism of Trotsky.

In all the passages where Gramsci writes about Trotsky the content is always one of a harsh polemic. At the same time, Gramsci positively appraised the positions of Lenin and Stalin; he approved the whole of the Bolshevik policy, including those features that the bourgeoisie and revisionists include in the misleading concept of “totalitarianism”.

There is no text or speech, neither in freedom nor in prison, in which Gramsci expressed a negative opinion much less denigrated the leadership of the Bolshevik Party and comrade Stalin.

The manipulators of modern revisionism, the magicians of “socialism of the 21st century” and all the bourgeois and reactionary intellectuals are completely refuted.

Antonio Gramsci was a great revolutionary leader of the proletariat, a giant of communist thought and action, who always fought against anti-Leninist deviations, who always defended the dictatorship of the proletariat, the system of working-class democracy embodied in the Councils (Soviet), against the false bourgeois democracy and its social-democratic variants (such as today’s “participatory democracy”). He always insisted on the necessity of a revolutionary transformation of the whole of society through the smashing of the bourgeois State, and always remained faithful to Marxism-Leninism and to proletarian socialism, until the last day of his life.

As the Communist International wrote on the occasion of his death, caused by long years of fascist imprisonment and cruelty: “‘Closely linked to the masses, capable of learning in the school of the masses, able to understand all aspects of social life, an unyielding revolutionary, faithful to his last breath to the Communist International and to his own Party, Gramsci leaves to us the memory of one of the best representatives of the generation of Bolsheviks who grew up in the ranks of the Communist International in the spirit of the doctrine of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, in the spirit of Bolshevism.” (Communist International, July, 1937, 435-436.)

To rescue Antonio Gramsci, the great communist leader, from the claws of the bourgeoisie, the revisionists and opportunists is an important task for the revolutionary proletariat.

June 2014
Communist Platform (Italy)

Note: Stalin’s speech, titled Questions and Answers (Works, Vol. 7), was translated into Italian and published in serial form by “L’Unita” in 1926. Gramsci, quoting by memory in jail, by mistake confused the date of that speech with the date (September 1927) of Stalin’s Interview with the First American Labor Delegation, that was also in the form of questions and answers (Works, Vol. 10), of which Gramsci had read an account in a magazine while he was in jail.

The change of dates was not noticed by the editor of the critical edition of Prison Notebooks, Valentino Gerratana, who perpetuated the mistake with a misleading commentary.

Instead it is clear that Gramsci was referring to the Questions and Answers of 1925 (see particularly Stalin’s reply to questions II and IX).

Source

“Theses on Art” from the League of Socialist Artists

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Introduction from Alliance for web presentation (Alliance 2000).

The “Theses on Art,” were put forward in 1972, by the “League of Socialist Artists”; and the “Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain (MLOB).”

The latter was the progenitor of the Communist League (CL).

This article was first re-printed by Alliance in hard copy with poems of Nazim Hikmet, as illustrated by the Socialist artist Maureen Scott, in issue number 8.

We have still not found a better and more concise and clear expression of Socialist aesthetics and thus offer this in web form.

It is preceded by short introductions to the First and the Second Editons.
After the “Theses,” is a short “Manifesto Of Socialist Arts.”

This, will form the first part of an on-going series on socialist aesthetics.

INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EDITION

Of all spheres of Marxist-Leninist science, none has been so neglected, both by its classic founders and subsequent practitioners, as that of aesthetics. So far as the written heritage of Marx, Engels and Lenin is concerned, they were all to one degree or another compelled by the intensity of the struggle to concentrate their attention almost exclusively on problems more directly and closely relevant to the class struggle of the proletariat. In the case of J. V. Stalin an admittedly altogether larger contribution was made, but this again was restricted to certain fundamental theoretical questions largely concerned with the relationship between base and superstructure. (‘Marxism and Linguistics’)

The two names most closely associated with the development of Marxist aesthetics are, without doubt, Andrei Zhdanov and Georg Lukacs (Cf. Speech at the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers: A. Zhdanov; and Lukacs’ many works of theory and criticism, of which ‘The Historical Novel’ is perhaps the most important). As regards problems relating more generally to questions of reflective and effective content, it was Zhdanov who took the vitally important initiative, at a crucial moment in the history of the –Soviet Union and the CPSU(B), to combat various manifestations of schematic (mechanical or idealist distortions in the realisation of effective content) and formalism (abdication from the need to develop content through concentration on questions of form, not to illuminate and express an effective content, but for their own sake).

On the other hand, the work of Lukacs – so much lengthier, more complete and systematised than Zhdanov’s speeches – manifests certain tendencies towards over-estimating the value of classical critical realism in the literature of the bourgeoisie, and to evaluate these on an equal level with socialist realism to the detriment of the latter. Furthermore, since the collapse of the international communist movement to modern revisionism subsequent upon the death of J.V. Stalin, Lukacs has been at pains to repudiate his earlier correct, not to say pioneering, work and is now performing yeoman service on behalf of the right-revisionist centre in Moscow. This he is doing by denying in general any validity whatever of aesthetics as a science – thereby negating both his own earlier work and the objective growth and subjective need by the class conscious revolutionary proletariat wherever it may arise, of an art and Literature fully capable of expressing the world view and historical destiny of the proletariat as the prime mover of the socialist revolution.

The experience of past revolutionary movements of the proletariat – in particular in such developed monopoly capitalist countries as Germany, France, Britain and Italy before the rise of modern revisionism – reveals that, whereas revolutionary art may have been considered at that time as very much a secondary matter – as almost a luxury, in fact – today it has become a prime necessity to the building of any revolutionary proletarian mass movement in those countries. The tremendously intensified and wide-spread scale on which fetishistic, sensuously degraded and formalist art is being deployed for the purpose of achieving the more-or-less universal corruption of standards of judgment, sensitivity of emotional response and, ultimately, stultification of intellectual insight and capacity amongst ever more numerous sections of the working people, renders the task of neutralising this poison through the creation of an alternative organised network of centres of collective, proletarian cultural and artistic work of, by and for the class conscious revolutionary proletariat one of the fundamental prerequisites for the growth of the revolutionary mass movement, the mass base of the socialist revolution, to the necessary level of overwhelming superiority of forces which is indispensable if the vastly powerful and predatory state apparatus of monopoly capital is to be smashed and destroyed and the state of the democratic dictatorship of the working class is to achieve final victory. This work of revolutionary creativity and creation will form a vitally important part of the process of growth and the steady consolidation day by day of the structure and cohesive organisation of the revolutionary Red Front.

This great and growing regenerative cultural front, the inspirer and mobiliser of the working masses, the agency for their liberation from the soporific anodyne of culture-reaction, would enable workers and working people at all levels of class consciousness and militancy, each level through its appropriate forms, to contribute to the growth of the new proletarian-socialist culture which, like the socialist revolution itself, must and can only be born and grow strong out of that cleansing and purifying crucible of experience which is the bitter, steely hard, pitilessly uncompromising and all-demanding revolutionary class struggle which will surely arise and develop throughout the coming corporate-fascist era of capitalism, the eleventh hour of capitalism’s doom.

It is for all these reasons, of course, that the concealed representatives of monopoly capital posing within the ranks of the proletariat as “progressive artists,” at the head of which stand those hardened enemies of the working class and socialism, the modern revisionists and trotskyites, have obstructed the development of socialist aesthetics. In two recently published journals in particular – “Artery,” the journal of the revisionist Communist Party’s artists group, and “7 Days,” the latest essay in pop-kitsch produced by the businessmen of the “New Left” – have these reactionary tasks been taken up. Thus, in the October 1971 edition of “Artery,” we read, in an article by the revisionist “theoretician” Mike Steadman:

“Again, whilst the notion of Realism may be a very powerful tool in literary criticism, or in criticism of the visual arts, we are often guilty of quite grandiosely exterpolating and extending this analysis from one sort of art form, where it may be applicable, to other forms where it is not. Correspondingly, I believe that our all too frequent insistence that art is good art which most furthers the class struggle is another and related criterion which collapses before the same objection. My feeling is, that we have failed to develop a Marxist theory of art despite the fact of brilliant work by individual theoreticians in particular fields.” (‘Artery’, page 5).

By propagating this kind of liberal eclecticism, the treacherous revisionists attempt at one and the same time to “destroy” the unity of Marxist-Leninist theory and to give themselves the airs of “learned fools,” as Lenin once called this type of class traitor.

A little further we read:

‘The battle, the class struggle in art, is between the way in which industrial society alienates the human being and what we believe is to be the way in which we should struggle against this. That is, in raising as a political goal, raising in our daily lives, the need to expand, continuously, the art of a free creative labour.”(ibid; p 6).

So, in the place of the struggle to mobilise and build up the revolutionary consciousness of the proletariat stage by stage in preparation for the socialist revolution, we are presented with the misty goal of a mythical struggle –so fine-sounding in words, but devoid of any real class significance – to realise “free creative labour” even whilst capitalist production relations and the dictatorship of the capitalist class through its oppressive state apparatus still exist. The work of the co-partners of, revisionism in this counter-revolutionary task, the trotskyites, complements the encouragement of bourgeois dictatorship in the arts by advocating the “progressive” character of the distorted drug-orientated “underground culture” fanned by ‘capitalism and attacking the genuine struggle for a’ revolutionary culture.

In the coming final stage of growth of the proletarian-socialist revolution which lies ahead, both in the developed countries and on a world scale, the revolutionary proletariat will need its Gorkys, its Ostrovskys, its Anna Seghers. It is as a concise, simple and yet fully comprehensive theoretical guide to action in commencing upon the long and difficult tasks revealed in this guide that the Provisional Committee of the Union of Socialist Artists has prepared and published this outline of socialist principles of aesthetic science. Long and fruitfully may it serve all fighters for a revolutionary art underlying and illuminating the hard road to the victory of the proletarian-socialist revolution!

Provisional Committee,
LEAGUE OF SOCIALIST ARTISTS;
March 1972.

The LEAGUE OF SOCIALIST ARTISTS pledges themselves:

a) To work for socialism – a society based on the political power of the working people in which production is planned in their interests.

b) To work towards the development of a revolutionary art and to place that art at the service of the working people, in broad affiliation with the Red Front Movement and under the overall leadership of the Marxist–Leninist Organisation of Britain, in such a way that it functions as an inspiration and a weapon to them in the class struggle and in the emerging revolutionary movement to establish and maintain a socialist society.

Printed and published by the League of Socialist Artists.

INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION

The appearance of a second and revised edition of the “Theses on Art” requires no lengthy comment. The fact that a first printing of 1,000 copies should have been exhausted in the relatively short space of 12 months alone provides a sufficient indication that the Theses are beginning to find their proper application as a theoretical guide to action for a small but growing number of worker-artists with a developing revolutionary-socialist consciousness and understanding, and who are anxious to place their talents at the service of the historic cause of the working class.

In this connection, it is perhaps not accidental that the publication of the Theses some eighteen months ago should have marked the beginning of a period in which the League of Socialist Artists has undergone a small but significant growth in the scope and quality of its tasks and activities. Typical of these have been the formation of the League of Socialist Artists Film Unit and the initiation of work to produce a series of propaganda films, and also the development of the poster workshop.

Apart from the exhaustion of available stocks and the correction of a few textual errors, the publication of a 2nd Edition has to a large degree been motivated by the need to re-formulate and extend the section on Beauty, in order to bring this hitherto highly esoteric – but in fact fundamentally important question more fully into line with the latest advances made in the infant science of dialectical-materialist revolutionary aesthetics. In particular, the all important psychological component in the formation of subjective responses to and appreciation of beauty – hitherto completely ignored by Marxist-Leninists – is now given its first clear, even if necessarily brief and sketchy outline. The important task of subjecting this germinal thesis to a complete theoretical elaboration in the light of the dialectical-materialist scientific method is one which must and will be taken up and developed further by students of scientific revolutionary aesthetics at the earliest moment consistent with the maintenance of essential priorities in the discharge of work and tasks.

Finally, the appearance of this 2nd Edition will, do doubt, give occasion for still louder and more frenetic accusations of “dogmatism,” “schematism,” “intellectual arrogance” and other allegedly anti-popular sins. That the Theses should have attracted their fair share of such attacks on the part of Trotskyite, Maoist and other disruptors and demagogues of petty-bourgeois class orientation was, of course, only to be expected, and of these there have been not a few, including one from an American Maoist (the subject of a forthcoming pamphlet) – the only one, incidentally, which summoned sufficient critical acumen and courage as to be expressed in written form – which condemns the Theses on the grounds that they attempt to “decide in words all questions of revolutionary aesthetics,” and that this allegedly “leaves the people out.” As Marxist-Leninists, as revolutionary proletarian-socialist artists we naturally treasure such attacks and savour them keenly – not, of course, because we ascribe the slightest objective validity to the ideas they propound, but because they provide us with a clear and reliable guide, by inverse example, that the League Of Socialist Artist cadres are working along fundamentally correct lines and in accordance with theoretical principles which are scientifically true.

However this may be, the experience of the period since the publication of the 1st Edition fully confirms the view that the “Theses” are proving their worth to those who comprehend the role of scientific Marxist-Leninist theory in the task of solving the vastly intricate and many-sided problems associated with the further growth and widespread dissemination of art-works and their corresponding art-forms capable of expressing, in all their conflict-ridden richness and complexity, the life and struggles of the working class in general and the proletarian-socialist revolutionary movement in particular. If we of the League of Socialist Artists have at least made a beginning in working out these essential theoretical principles of scientific revolutionary aesthetics, principles which can then assist tens, later hundreds and ultimately thousands of worker-artists with a proletarian-socialist consciousness and allegiance to master the media in which they work and to fashion them into works of socialist realism, in all art-forms, sufficiently truthful and insighted in content and powerful and sensitive in form as to arouse the respect and deepen the under-standing of at least, under present conditions, the most advanced class-conscious workers, we shall feel justified in the belief that our work has made a small but valuable contribution to the long and difficult task of mobilising and building the philosophically and politically conscious proletarian revolutionary movement and its scientific socialist-Leninist vanguard party.

Provisional Committee, LEAGUE OF SOCIALIST ARTISTS,
September 1973

THESES ON ART

ART

Art is a form of production in which the producer (the artist) endeavours to create, through its product (the work of art), certain thoughts and feelings in the minds of consumers (those who see, hear, read etc. his work of art).

In the words of J.V. Stalin:

“The artist is the engineer of the human soul.”

Clearly, it cannot be a matter of indifference to Socialists what kind of thoughts and feelings works of art create – whether they tend, objectively, to help forward the working class in its historical task of destroying the capitalist state in a socialist revolution, of establishing its own political power and of proceeding to construct a Socialist society; or whether they tend, objectively, to hold back the working class from these fundamental tasks.

SUBJECT

The subject of a work of art is simply what it is about – sunflowers, the Marriage of Figaro, Paradise Lost, the Spartacist uprising in Berlin, the construction of the Dnieper dam.

CONTENT

The content of a work of art is the character imparted to its subject. by the artist, a character which reflects the artist’s intellectual and emotional – in short, psychological – attitude towards his subject.

The content of a work of art comprises two inter-related components:
1) the reflective content, and
2) the effective content.

The reflective content of a work of art is the reflection in this work of art of the artist’s world outlook – itself the subjective expression of his whole life experience. This world outlook is essentially that of the social class to which the artist belongs or with which he identifies his interests. The reflective content of a work of art may be described in terms of the social class which holds the particular world outlook reflected in this content, or in terms of the social system in which this class is the ruling class. Thus, we may speak of the capitalist or bourgeois reflective content of a work of art (where this reflects the world outlook of the capitalist class or bourgeoisie), and of the working class, proletarian or socialist reflective content of a work of art (where this reflects the world outlook of the working class or proletariat, which is the ruling class in a socialist society).

The effective content of a work of art consists of the particular thoughts and feelings, which the artist endeavours to create in the minds of consumers through the work of art concerned. The effective content of a work of art is described in terms of the social effects which these thoughts and feelings tend, objectively, to produce: as progressive (where these thoughts and feelings tend, objectively to further the development of society) or as reactionary (where these thoughts and feelings tend, objectively, to hold back or turn back the development of society).

In the period when the bourgeoisie was playing an objectively revolutionary role in leading the mass of the people to break the fetters of feudalism, art with a bourgeois reflective content had a progressive effective content. Today, when the role of the bourgeoisie is to hold back the overthrow of the objectively obsolete capitalist social system, art with a bourgeois reflective content has a reactionary effective content. The inter-relation between the reflective and effective components of the content of a work of art is thus a variable one, dependent on the stage of the development of the society in which the work of art is produced.

The more conscious an artist is of the class basis of the reflective content of his art and of the social effects of its effective content, the closer will the two components of the content of his art be integrated, and the more will the reflective content reinforce the effective content – the more powerful will be the thoughts and feelings created by his art.

Before the development of the scientific materialist conception of history, the basis of which was laid by Karl Marx, an artist could at the most be only partly conscious of the class basis of the reflective content of his art and of the social effects of its effective content.

Today it is possible for an artist who has mastered the scientific materialist conception of history, who has embraced wholeheartedly and from within the innermost core of his psychological make-up the cause of the working class and of Socialism, to be fully conscious of the class basis of the effective content, so that the two components of the content of his art reinforces the progressive effective content to make it a powerful ideological weapon in the service of the working class and of Socialism.

FORM

The form of a work of art is the manner in which an artist constructs his work of art in order to express its content. On the form of a work of art depends its capacity to communicate its content to consumers.

The form of a work of art is described in terms of the degree to which it truthfully reflects its subject, that is, in terms of the degree of its realism. The further the form of a work of art departs from realism, the nearer it approaches to abstraction, in which the form of a work of art reflects its subject in no discernible way. An abstract painting is composed of shapes and colours, which reflect reality in no discernible way, an abstract poem is composed of sounds without discernible meaning, and so on.

AESTHETICS

Questions of quality, of “goodness” and “badness,” in art belong to what is called aesthetics.

To many people aesthetics is a subjective matter, a question of personal taste. To such people a work of art is “good” to one person if he likes it, while the same work of art may be “bad’ to another person if he dislikes it.

To scientific Socialists a work of art is good if its effective content is progressive and its form is such that this effective content is readily communicable to consumers, that is, if its form is realist.

In the period when the bourgeoisie was playing an objectively revolutionary role in leading the mass of the people to break the fetters of feudalism, art with a bourgeois reflective content had a progressive effective content and, to the extent that it was also realist in form, it was aesthetically good.

Today, when the role of the bourgeoisie is to hold back the overthrow of the objectively obsolete capitalist social system, art with a bourgeois reflective content has a reactionary effective content and, irrespective of its form, it was aesthetically bad.

Today, aesthetically good art can only be proletarian socialist in reflective content (and so progressive in effective content) and realist in form – can only, in other words, take the form of socialist realism.

BEAUTY

Beauty is that combination of qualities in a work of art, which affects the fundamental psychological and personality attributes of a consumer in positive manner. A work of art, which so affects those attributes, is beautiful to that particular consumer- whilst one which fails to so affect them is either not beautiful to him – i.e. is one to which his psychology and personality are either not able to respond or else-which he finds consciously ugly.

The same work of art may affect the psyche of one consumer in a positive way and the psyche of another consumer in a negative way – that is, it may be beautiful to one consumer and ugly to another. The beauty (or non-beauty, or ugliness) of a work of art is not, therefore, an objective attribute of a work of art; it is a subjective attribute which has meaning only in relation to a particular consumer, or to a particular category of consumers.

Aesthetics is sometimes defined as “the critical appreciation of beauty.” Scientific socialists reject this definition, since the beauty of a work of art is subjective, relative to a particular consumer or to a particular category of consumers, while the aesthetic quality of a work of art is, as has been said, objective, inherent in the work of art itself.

Whether a particular work of art is beautiful (or non-beautiful, or ugly) to a particular consumer depends, therefore, on more than mere sensory perception; it depends on the dialectical interaction and ultimate synthesis in one affective moment of response of all three of the above fundamental psychological attributes of personality:

sensory perception, intellectual judgment and emotional responsiveness.

This response is, in turn, dependent upon a complex of psychological characteristics built up during the consumer’s life experience, which may be called the consumer’s canons of beauty. The closer the content and form of a work of art correspond to the consumer’s canons of beauty, the more beautiful it is to him. As the consumer’s life experience continues, as the external world and his relations with it change, so do his canons of beauty change and develop in and through the psychological processes described above.

Within a particular society at a particular time, there are generally accepted canons of beauty just as there are generally accepted canons of morality, and these are socially determined. These generally accepted canons of beauty are those which best serve the interests of that society at that period – in the case of a class-divided society, those which best serve the interests of the ruling class at that period. As society changes, or as the interests of the ruling class within a particular society change, so do the generally accepted canons of beauty change.

Within a capitalist society in decay, such as that which exists in Britain at the present time, an aesthetically good socialist realist work of art affects, generally speaking, the psychological responsiveness of members of the capitalist class in a negative way; it appears ugly to them. Furthermore, it is in sharp contradiction with the generally accepted canons of beauty imposed on decaying capitalist society by the ruling capitalist class, and so is ugly to all consumers who accept these generally accepted canons of beauty. Here, therefore, there is a contradiction between aesthetic quality and beauty. On the other hand, the same work of art will affect in a positive way the psychological attributes of a consumer who is thoroughly socialist, who has thrown off the generally accepted bourgeois canons of beauty in favour of canons of beauty which serve the interests of the working class; to him it will be beautiful. Here, therefore, there is no contradiction between aesthetic quality and beauty.

In a capitalist society the canons of beauty of the ruling capitalist class are, by and large, accepted by the petty bourgeois intelligentsia – who are, in fact, the main proponents of these canons of beauty within society. But with the increasing decay of capitalist society at the stage of advanced imperialism and the consequent rise to dominance of formalist art, the canons of beauty of the ruling monopoly capitalist class cease to be “generally accepted,” in that they come to be rejected by the working class. The contradiction between aesthetic quality and the canons of beauty of the ruling class is now so great that it cannot be bridged, so far the working class is concerned, even by the use of all the ideological and propaganda resources at the disposal of the ruling class – which naturally, seeks to meet the situation by instilling in the minds of the workers the conception that beauty in art (and even art itself in all but its crudest, merely soporific, narcotic forms) is inappropriate for workers. This leads to the workers becoming largely sealed off from serious art and to the stunting of their sense of beauty, i.e., of the capacity to have their personality attributes in any way affected by serious works of art.

Thus, the awakening of the sense of beauty in the working class is an important part of the work of Socialist artists. It is in itself a potentially revolutionary act, an important aspect of the overall task of generating the revolutionary energies of the working class.

REALISM AND NATURALISM

Realism, the true reflection of reality in a work of art, does not mean mere photographic representation.

Scientific Socialists understand that, beneath the surface of something which appears static, the forces of change and development are at work, so that the thing itself is changing and developing, even though we cannot see this process on the surface.

True realism, therefore, penetrates beneath the surface of things to reveal the process of their change. Only scientific Socialism, the world outlook known as dialectical materialism, provides the key to penetrating beneath the surface of things; only a Socialist artist who has made Marxism-Leninism, dialectical materialism, his world outlook, can, therefore, be a complete realist in the form of his art.

Suppose a writer wishes to reflect in a novel the contemporary reality in Britain. On the surface one sees a working class which is far from revolutionary, a youth which has been corrupted on a wider scale than any previous generation, a country in which Marxist-Leninists can almost be counted on the fingers.

But this is a superficial and false picture. Scientific socialists, by their analysis of British contemporary capitalist society, understand that forces are at work which are in process of transforming the working class into an invincible revolutionary force, led by a strong vanguard party.

True realism in art, therefore, means the portrayal not so much of what lies on the surface of things (this is naturalism, not realism), but of what lies beneath the surface. It also involves the selection from all the infinite entities that make up reality of those which are significant in portraying the changing, developing essence of this reality.

Realism differs also from naturalism in that it permits deviation from naturalistic representation where this assists in the fuller expression of the aspect of reality concerned. In satire, in the cartoon, features are exaggerated not to falsify reality, but to heighten it.

If an artist paints the grass in a meadow red merely as a “gimmick,” this falsifies reality. But if he paints the grass in the exercise yard of the Attica State Prison red, to symbolise the massacre which took place there in 1971, this may well serve to heighten the realism of the painting.

Realism differs from naturalism also in that it concentrates the social essence of individuals into the type. As Maxim Gorky expresses it in “Literature and Life”:

“When a writer describes some shopkeeper, official or worker of his acquaintance, he is merely producing some more or less successful likeness of an individual; but such a likeness will remain a mere photograph, without any socially educative significance, and will contribute almost nothing either in breadth or in depth to our knowledge of life and of our fellow men. But if the writer is able to extract from twenty or fifty or a hundred shopkeepers, officials or workers the characteristic traits, habits, tastes, gestures, beliefs, mannerisms typical of them as a class and if he can bring these traits to life in a single shopkeeper, official or worker, he will have created a type and his work will be a work of art.”

BOURGEOIS CRITICAL REALISM

The unscientific, metaphysical world outlook of the bourgeois artist – a world outlook which underlies all bourgeois art, whether its effective content be progressive or reactionary – draws the content of his work towards one or other of the apparently opposite poles of mystical idealism, or arid mechanical materialism. It effectively prevents him from achieving that all-round, universalised, penetrating, developmental understanding of his subject which constitutes the hallmark of proletarian-socialist realism.

Since the inherent, objective laws of development of society are a closed book to the bourgeois artist, metaphysics must for him take the place of scientific method. Thus, even when the objective situation of the capitalist class to which the artist belongs is a progressive one, impelling him towards a progressive effective content in his work, this content is necessarily limited in its scope, in its insight, in its treatment of character and society’s processes. He may be capable of revealing the social evils, which are inherent in capitalist society even in its progressive stage of development, but he can discern neither the basic laws of motion of capitalist society nor the true role of the working class as the social force destined by history to resolve the contradictions of capitalist society by abolishing it and replacing it by a socialist society.

This type of progressive bourgeois art is termed by revolutionary Socialists bourgeois critical realism, because it can reveal in a critical way, through a superficial depiction of character and events, much of what is wrong with capitalist society, but can neither probe beneath the surface to reveal the basic causes of those evils nor point the way forward to their solution in a socialist society.

As far as form is concerned, therefore, bourgeois critical realism tends towards naturalism rather than realism (as in the work of such artists as Charles Dickens, Emile Zola and Gustav Flaubert). In the most developed work of bourgeois critical realism, however, (such as those of Ludwig van Beethoven, Thomas Mann, Georg Buchner, Vincent van Gogh and Gustav Mahler) a close approximation to true realism in form is realised.

Socialist realism bases itself upon and further develops the finest achievements of bourgeois critical realism, overcoming in the course of this development the limitations of content and form of the latter in order to achieve a truthful, penetrating, developmental and powerfully moving treatment of reality.

DISTORTED REALISM

Art which directly serves the interests of the capitalist class in the period of the decay of its social usefulness is at first glance realist in form, in that its images are recognisable reflections of real life in comparison with the abstractions, which make up the greater part of modern painting with a bourgeois content. This must be so in order that its reactionary effective content the thoughts or feelings which serve the interests of the capitalist class may be communicated to consumers. But because, in the period of the decay and disintegration of capitalist society, a truly realistic representation of the world cannot serve the interests of the capitalist class, its images are necessarily distortions of reality.

In a play with a bourgeois content about a strike, the workers may be physically recognisable as workers in that they wear overalls, live in council flats, etc. But they are distorted, in general, into sheep-like figures, easily led by some militant leader, who because of some psychopathological aggressive complex or because he is in the service of a foreign power, “pulls them out” on a futile strike which harms their interests.

FORMALISM

But for every hack artist who – is prepared to sell his integrity to the capitalist class for money, there are a dozen honest artists. These artists see the corruption, exploitation and immorality, which are all pervading features of capitalism in decay. Unless, therefore, they are revolutionary Socialists who can portray this reality truthfully with a Socialist content, they find the real world too unpleasant to reflect truthfully in their work. They therefore repudiate content more or less completely, take their stand on the slogan “Art for art’s sake” (which rejects the conception of social content in art) and base their art purely on form: on abstract or semi-abstract images. It is this repudiation of content and concentration on form that revolutionary Socialists call “formalism.”

NATIONAL FORM AND COSMOPOLITANISM

All art is necessarily the product of a particular community, and the reality of this community is national in substance; it is the reality of a particular nation, the characteristics of which are determined by the language, geography, economic life, psychological make-up and culture of that nation.

Art which is truly realistic in form, therefore, is also national in form. Furthermore, it is built upon and further develops that part of the cultural heritage of the nation which is progressive in its effective content.

Art which repudiates the national in its form in the direction of cosmopolitanism also deviates, therefore, from realism.

RELATION BETWEEN CONTENT AND FORM

In the relation between content and form in art, it is content which – at least in the broad developmental sense – determines the form in and through which this content is realised.

As, within a particular society, the existing mode of production becomes moribund, and the objective and subjective conditions mature for the birth of a new, higher mode of production (in our epoch, Socialism), new, political, ideological and other social factors impinge upon the life experience of the artist. To the extent that he absorbs the world outlook of the rising class whose interests are bound up with the, coming new mode of production (in our epoch, the world outlook of the working class), his art takes on a new reflective content and a new progressive effective content. This ultimately leads him to discard, or at least to modify positively, the existing, dominant art forms and to develop new ones more suited to act as expressions of this new content.

When Ludwig van Beethoven began to compose, he was content to use the classical sonata form he inherited from Mozart and Haydn, But at a certain stage in the maturing of the bourgeois reflective content and the progressive effective content of his music, he became aware that the complexity, power and objective realism of his sound-world was suffering through the attempt to pour new wine into old bottles. He therefore found it necessary to create a new symphonic form, that of the choral symphony, in which the scope, emotional impact and intelligibility of this content was greatly enhanced in complexity and degree of integration, partly through the inclusion of the choral poem, partly through the much greater fluidity and expressive flexibility of the thematic structure and the melodic line itself.

A similar process is to be, observed in the development of the modern novel, in particular in the transition from limited, naturalistically stunted critical realism of the revolutionary bourgeoisie ( e.g., Emile Zola, Thomas Mann) to the socially penetrating insight achieved in the socialist realist literature of the revolutionary working class (e.g., Maxim Gorki).

In the relation between content and form, it is, therefore, content which plays the primary role, while form arises out of and serves content as its vehicle of expression. It is the function of technique to serve content and form equally.

It must be understood, however, that the content of a work of art does not determine its form in any direct, mechanical way, but dialectically – that is to say, by creating the general conditions in and through which a change of form becomes necessary, or in which the adoption of one form as against another becomes preferable. Were this not so, the task of a Marxist-Leninist Party or of such organisations as Socialist Artists in the sphere of art could be confined to political education; an artist who acquired the political outlook of revolutionary Socialism and the desire to make the content of his art Socialist would be unable to create works of art in any but a realist form. In fact, an artist may be a revolutionary Socialist, a Marxist-Leninist, in every sphere but that of aesthetics, determined that every one of his artistic creations shall be imbued with a Socialist content – yet he may produce art which is non-realist in form.

While the content of a work of art is determined by the social outlook of the artist, its form is determined by his aesthetic outlook and his mastery of technique at the moment of its creation. It is, therefore, the task of the Marxist-Leninist Party and of such organisations as Socialist Artists to educate artists not only in the principles of revolutionary Socialism (so that their art may be imbued with Socialist content) but also in Marxist-Leninist aesthetics and in technique, so that this content may be expressed in appropriate realist form.

Content is not primary and form secondary because the former is more important than the latter. A work of art which is Socialist in content but non-realist in form lacks the capacity to communicate its socialist content to consumers; it is of no more value to the working class – and so is of no higher aesthetic quality – than a work of art which is bourgeois in content. Form and content are of equal importance for the Socialist artist. But the primacy of content over form must be recognised if the artist is to achieve the fullest realisation of form in the service of content, and of technique in the service of both.

REVISIONISM AND ART

Revisionism is a perversion of Marxism-Leninism to serve the interests of the capitalist class.

The modern revisionists, for the most part, reject the Marxist-Leninist concepts of progressive and reactionary effective content in art. They hold that aesthetic questions – i.e. questions of quality in art – must be confined to questions of craftsmanship.

On the basis that art which directly serves the interests of the capitalist class is realist in form (as discussed above), they hold that “revolutionary art” must break with the “reactionary” heritage of realist -art and embrace cosmopolitanism.

To the modern revisionists, the changed role of art in a socialist society means no more than the wider availability of art to the working people.

But, clearly, the interests of the working class and of socialism are not served by the wider availability, to the working people of art which serve’s the interests of the capitalist class – the class enemy of the working-class.

In fact, art which serves the interests of the capitalist class is widely available to the working people, within a capitalist society. A worker has little difficulty in obtaining access to the strip cartoons in the “Daily Mirror”; he can watch “Coronation Street” on TV; he can listen to “pop” music almost throughout his spare time; he can visit a “working man’s club”; and watch strip-tease shows every week-end.

The whole educational and propaganda apparatus of the ruling class in capitalist society is directed towards inculcating the idea: that these forms of “art” are appropriate for working people, while ballet and painting are for upper class homosexuals.

But the “art” which the ruling capitalist class directs to the working class is designed not only to make profits for its sponsors, but also to “divert” the working class, to drug them into acceptance of their role as an exploited class.

In the former socialist societies of Eastern Europe, the modern revisionists took the first steps towards the restoration of capitalism in the sphere of art. In the name of “artistic freedom,” they supported the introduction of art with a bourgeois content, declaring that the Marxist-Leninists had no business to seek to “interfere” in artistic questions. The introduction of art with a decadent bourgeois content served as preliminary ideological preparation for the introduction of bourgeois ideas in the sphere of economics and politics.

THE BATTLE OF IDEAS IN ART

The battle of ideas in art – between ideas which serve the interests of the working-class and those which serve the interests of the capitalist class, between the ideas of Marxist-Leninist aesthetics and those of revisionist aesthetics – reflects the class struggle in society between the working class and the capitalist class.

It is the task of Socialist artists to take their stand in this battle firmly on the side of the working class, to develop art which is Socialist in content and realist in form, – to make of their art a weapon in the struggle of the working class to destroy the capitalist state and construct a Socialist society.

“END OF THESES”

FROM THE MANIFESTO OF THE LEAGUE OF SOCIALIST ARTISTS

The epoch in which, as workers and artists, we live and pursue our creative work is one which bears as its fundamental feature the decay of the capitalist system based on exploitation and oppression and the maturing of the objective conditions making possible its final destruction at the hands of the revolutionary working people.

The supreme task of historical creation confronting all workers, of which we artists to an increasing degree are becoming a social part, is, to develop the science of the proletarian socialist revolution, Marxism-Leninism, in theory and in practice;

To organise to carry through that revolution to the end; thereby to destroy the capitalist system, root and branch, in country after country and in every quarter of the globe. . .

The securing of the maximum satisfaction of the constantly rising material and cultural requirements of the whole of society through the continuous expansion and perfection of socialist production on the basis of higher techniques.

It is within this revolutionary historical context that the confines of class dominated society, with its anti-human inheritance of exploitation, poverty and war, will be overcome and the objective social conditions created for the expansion of the boundaries of man’s knowledge and mastery of the natural universe around him.

Within these overall historic tasks of the proletarian-socialist revolution a role of unprecedented importance devolves upon the arts, and hence upon creative artists. For it is precisely through art that science, the knowledge–understanding and experience of the laws of motion of the universe, including particularly of human society, is distilled into generalised, concentrated form, is transmuted into those at one and the same time concrete and typical, images which are capable of arousing the most profound and stirring emotions -of the human soul, even whilst it is developing conscious intellectual awareness of the objective phenomena which those images symbolise and typify.

Thus artists, whether of the visual or the dramatic arts, are no less than “engineers of the human soul” (J.V. Stalin);

and a correspondingly vital significance attaches to their work in furtherance of that highest single creative task of the modern epoch: the carrying through to victory of the world proletarian – socialist revolution.

Taking the above principles as our fundamental guide, we Socialist Artists hold that art is a definite form of social consciousness. Proletarian socialist art is a reflection in artistic form of the class struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie, which lies at the heart of all social reality. The method of artistic creation of proletarian-socialist art is therefore proletarian-socialist realism. There can be no art without a fundamental philosophy, a basic world view.

And since all philosophy, all world views, are class philosophy, the world view of a class, there can likewise be no art which is not class art. The philosophical foundation of proletarian-socialist realism is dialectical materialism which provides all forms-of artistic sensibility with the objective scientific tool for cognising truthfully the real world.

Proletarian-socialist realism rests upon the firm foundation of human culture as a whole which has developed historically within class society. It recognises that the working class must utilise the finest and highest products of all previous culture in order to create there from the general basis for the development of its own infinitely more sensible, more dramatically intense and varied art and culture. It recognises that the highest achievement of all past art is critical realism. Proletarian socialist realism begins where this critical realism ends, distils from it all that was revealing of social reality, overcomes its weaknesses and one sided-nesses and thereby elevates art to a new and higher stage.

Proletarian-socialist realism is an active, affirmative realism. It upholds the principle of “being as deed.” Such an affirmative view of human practice is indissolubly fused together with a critical attitude towards the art of the past and a revolutionary-romantic consciousness of contemporary social and class reality in the light of the socialist future. In this sense proletarian-socialist realism anticipates creatively the future.

Proletarian-socialist realism possesses as one of the prime features of its aesthetic the creation of generally valid social characters and figures who express in their innermost being the laws of motion of history and society as a whole. Proletarian-socialist realism requires the delineation of typical characters living and moving in atypical environment and under typical conditions. It requires a historically and socially concrete typicalisation of dramaturgical elements in works of art, but this typicalisation must be combined with, the utmost individuality and qualitative distinctness of characters and figures, and must avoid all tendencies towards stereotyped caricatures.

Proletarian-socialist realism maintains that, for a genuinely progressive, revolutionary art serving the proletarian-socialist revolution, content is primary and plays the definitive role within any one work of art, whilst form, which itself is of vital significance to the artistically and aesthetically affective properties of the work, is secondary and reflects and serves that content. Thus we stand for the unity of form and content based on the primacy of content.

Being aware of the unbridgeable abyss in the cultural superstructure of decaying capitalism, we Socialist Artists declare our aims and work to stand completely apart from and in irreconcilable-opposition to the formalism and commodity fetishism of capitalist art- which serves at one and the same time – to mystify the movement and conflict of social classes, to preach and inculcate the helplessness of man before the “unknowable” universe and the “atomic chaos” of the “existentialist” society, as also to provide the effete, luxury loving ruling class with those soporific, sensationalised and alienated titbits which might, for an hour or a day, provide an anodyne to bring forgetfulness of the moment of doom for their class which the approaching proletarian socialist revolution is bringing ever nearer. In opposition to this we declare our aim to be the pursuit, the active construction and direction of an art which, in all its richness, its myriad fronts and facets; reflects and serves the struggle of the working people for socialism and communism; and which develops for this purpose aesthetic forms of expression which are at one and the same time organically free in relation to their content and yet ordered by the single function of serving to reflect that content; complex and many-sided as the realist stuff itself which they express – -yet unified by a single fundamental principle: to express truthfully the real world of class conflict and revolutionary mobilisation which lies beneath the surface of that average spontaneous activity which is all the vulgar empiricist or idealist mystifier can perceive, and who for that reason is at the mercy of every reactionary wind that blows from out of the vortex of disintegrating capitalism.

In place of the pop art, mobile junk, psychedelic and other fringe lunancy of decaying capitalist art we will erect an art which expresses the dignity of working people, into which life is breathed from out of their very struggles; whether for bread, for peace or for socialism; an art which leads to the growth of a working class culture and which, in the widest and most fundamental sense creates a visual and dramatic image of the socialist future, an assertive art of the revolutionary class in society, the producers of all material and cultural values. Fundamental to our aims, therefore, is that of fulfilling a vanguard role in teaching, educating, organising and raising the cultural values of this only revolutionary class, in a developed capitalist society, the proletariat.

Because we are workers alongside the mass of working people as a whole; because we increasingly sell our labour power firstly in order to live but increasingly also in order to create; and because we can expect no philanthropy from capital, for our art reflects the struggle of workers against
capital and is thus persecuted and outlawed – along with all other revolutionary activity, we Socialist Artists must possess our own collective organisation under the direction of the vanguard Marxist-Leninist party, the overall instrument of the future proletarian-socialist revolution, a revolutionary, democratic union of artists with the clear and simple aim:

“Our art must serve revolutionary politics. We place our art unreservedly at the service of the working class.”

Provisional Committee, The League of Socialist Artists;
August 1973.

Source

Bill Bland: Stalin & the Arts – On Marxist-Leninist Aesthetics

Vera Mukhina: Monument to Collectivisation

Vera Mukhina: Monument to Collectivisation

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #53, “Aesthetics and Revolution – Essays and Talks.”

Preface

This talk was given by Bill Bland to the ‘Stalin Society’ in 1993. He later expanded this talk in some detail, into the manuscript here.

It gives a history of Socialist Realism in the society of its birth – the Soviet Union.
It also depicts leftist-revisionist strands in art policy in the USSR.

In part Alliance has discussed these revisionist elements before (See Alliance 7 on Ultra-leftism in the Communist Academy & Proletkult: at: http://ml-review.ca/aml/AllianceIssues/ALLIANCE7COMMUNISTACADEMY.html).

But Bill’s analysis goes much further than this, and he comprehensively covers many of the usual controversies as thrown out by liberal aesthetes, who charge Stalin with having “killed the arts and artists.”

As a talk, slide and tape cues are given. This version does not include the musical clips, but does include some slide clips as used by Bland in his talk. Missing segments are indicated. As far as possible, pictures of slides are credited with the web-source from where they were derived.

Editors Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America)
August 2004

INTRODUCTION — ART AND SOCIETY

ART is a form of production in which the producer (the artist strives by his product (the work of art) to create certain thoughts or feelings in the minds of its consumers.

A product which is exclusively artistic and has no other significant function is termed fine art. A product which is primarily functional may be secondarily a work of art if its producer has been concerned not merely with its function but also with creating certain thoughts of feelings in the minds of its users. Such art is termed applied art.

The content of a work of art is its subject.

The form of a work of art is the manner or style in which the artist has presented the content of his work of art.

Realism is a trend in art which seeks to represent its subject faithfully and truthfully.

An artist is a member of society, so that the art of a particular time and place cannot but be influenced by the social environment existing in that time and place.

When and where a particular a social system is in harmony with the needs of the mass of the people, the prevailing thought tends to be rational, favourable to science and optimistic, while the prevailing art tends to be realistic.

When and where a particular social system has outlived its usefulness to the majority of the people, the prevailing thought tends to be irrational, unfavourable to science and pessimistic while the prevailing art tends to be unrealistic, tends to degenerate into a greater or lesser degree of abstraction.

SLIDE 1: MARGARITONE OF AREZZO: ALTAR-PIECE.

Margaritone

Thus, in Europe in the late Middle Ages, when the long-established social system of feudalism was in decline, the prevailing art was typically Byzantine in style — like this altar-piece by Margaritone of Arezzo* in the National Gallery, painted in the late 13th century. Painting from real life had by this time come to be regarded as heretical, and artists tended to confine themselves to making copies of works of art previously approved by the Church. Thus, Byzantine art tended to be flat and lifeless.

Then, in the 14th century, above all in Italy, the embryonic capitalist class began to exert its influence, giving rise to that flowering of science, art and culture we call the Renaissance.

SLIDE 2: CARAVAGGIO : “THE SUPPER AT EMMAUS”

emmaus

The difference between this picture by Caravaggio* and the previous one by Margaritone is not just a matter of improved technique, the use of light and shade, the mastery of perspective. The main difference is that it is no longer based on previous works of art; it is painted from life and it glows with realism.

SLIDE 3: GIOVANNI BELLINI: “THE DOGE LEONARDO LOREDANO”

Leonardo-Loredan-Gentile-Bellini-Oil-Painting-AB00494

This sumptuous portrait of the Doge of Venice, by Giovanni Bellini*, conveys with realism all the pomp and prosperity of the wealthy state of Venice.

Most sitters of the Renaissance and the rising embryonic capitalist class felt self-confident, and did not demand that painters prettified them. Thus, Oliver Cromwell* ordered the painter Peter Lely* to paint him “warts and all.”

SLIDE 4: ATTRIBUTED TO QUENTIN MASSYS: PORTRAIT OF AN OLD WOMAN

massys

And this sitter no doubt gave the same instructions to her painter.

SLIDE 5: PIETER DE HOOCH: “INTERIOR OF A DUTCH HOUSE”

Hooch

In the 17th century we find Dutch painters like Pieter De Hoochpainting realistically the interiors of bourgeois houses like this, in which he expresses his joy in painting sunlight. The figure standing before the fireplace was an afterthought added to improve the design of the grouping, and that is why the black-and-white tiles of the floor can be seen through the woman’s skirt.

But when a social system ceases to serve the interests of the majority of the people — for example, in France in the years immediately preceding the French Revolution of 1792 sensitive artists, other than conscious revolutionaries, find reality too unpleasant and sordid to portray realistically, so that they tend to reject realism in favour of falsity.

SLIDE 6: JEAN-HONORE FRAGONARD: “THE SWING”

Fragonard

Jean Fragonard* was court painter at Versailles in the years just prior to the French Revolution. This painting, “The Swing,” is typical of the artificiality of his work. The decadent court is concealed in a completely false world of eternal youth and perpetual pleasure, of endless summer filled with laughter and the scent of flowers.

In the twentieth century, capitalism reached the stage of imperialism, where it became ever more clearly contrary to the interests of the mass of the people.

In such a period, revolutionary artists make use of realism to further the revolutionary cause. But the honest, sensitive artist who is not a revolutionary, who sees no way out of existing social problems, finds reality too painful to portray, and consequently moves away from realism.

Even in the 19th century, artists like William Turner* began to sense the poverty and exploitation which lay behind the surface of Victorian prosperity, and to move away from realism.

SLIDE 7: J. M. WILLIAM TURNER: “RAIN, STEAM AND SPEED”

turner

In this late picture by Turner of a train crossing a viaduct, the train is not the realistic assembly of gleaming pistons which would have brought joy to the heart of George Stephenson*. The train is no more than an impression, lost in the wild rush of colour of the elements and the steam from the engine.

Today capitalism has been in increasing decay for almost a century.

Britain, once the workshop of the world, has been turned into an industrial museum; some four million people are out of work and school-leavers face the prospect of spending all their lives on social security; in the heart of London, thousands of people are forced to sleep in the open air winter and summer . . .

So, with the coming of imperialism, which is capitalism in its final stage, capitalism in decay, reality became uglier still, and honest, sensitive artists who are not socialists reject even the impression of reality.

Among the many non-realistic artistic trends which arose in the 20th century is Cubism, associated particularly with the name of Picasso.

SLIDE 8: PABLO PICASSO: “PORTRAIT OF M. KAHNWEILER”

Picasso

In later Cubism the image is first cut up into geometrical forms, then these are shifted around. In this portrait by Picasso, all we can recognise are fragmentary aspects of the sitter’s waistcoat and face drowned in chaos.

SLIDE 9: SALVADOR DALI: “SUBURBS OF THE PARANOIC-CRITICAL TOWN”

Dali

Another 20th century non-realistic artistic trend was Surrealism, allegedly based on the unconscious mind, the dreams of which are declared to be more real than objective reality. The Spanish-born painter Salvador Dali* deserted Cubism for Surrealism. His paintings — like this one, entitled “Suburbs of the Paranoic-Critical Town” — are naturalistic in appearance, but with objects in the weirdest juxtaposition — a temple, an armchair, a horse’s skull and a girl with a bunch of grapes.

Of course, this movement from realism is not confined to the visual arts.

In the theatre, for instance, it has produced a whole trend known as “the Theatre of the Absurd.” Here “absurd” is used in the sense of “incongruous,” “illogical,” “contrary to reason.” It is often humorous, but its humour comes not from satire on real life, but from incongruity. It is the humour of “Monty Python.” It portrays life and the world as senseless and meaningless:

“The Theatre of the Absurd is . . . part of the ‘anti-literary’ movement of our time, which has found its expression in abstract painting.”

(Martin J. Esslin: ‘The Theatre of the Absurd’; Harmondsworth; 1977; p. 26).

A milestone in the development of “the Theatre of the Absurd” was the play “Waiting for Godot,” written in French by the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett*, and first published in Paris in 1952.

The play is set in a country lane where two tramps are waiting for a mysterious person called Godot. As they wait, they converse in the manner of cross-talk comedians on the variety stage. Eventually a boy arrives and tells them that Godot is not coming that day. In the second act, they continue to talk as they wait for Godot, and again the boy comes to tell them that Godot won’t be coming.

As one eminent critic has put it: “Waiting for Godot” is a play in which nothing happens — twice!

Here are the last few lines of the play:

RECORDING 1: EXTRACT: “WAITING FOR GODOV.”

“Vladimir: We’ll hang ourselves tomorrow….. Unless Godot comes. Estragon: And if he comes?
Vladimir: We’ll be saved.
Estragon: Well? Shall we go?
Vladimir: Pull on your trousers.
Estragon: What?
Vladimir: Pull on your trousers.
Estragon: You want me to pull off my trousers?
Vladimir: Pull ON your trousers.
Estragon: True.
Vladimir: Well? Shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let’s go”.
(Samuel Beckett: ‘En attendant Godot, piece en deux actes’; London; 1966; p. 88).

They do not move, and the curtain falls.

The American playwright William Saroyan*, who greatly admires the play, says:

“The play is about nothing. All is nothing. All comes to nothing.”

(William Saroyan: ‘A Few Words about Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”‘: Record Sleeve).

In the field of music, the retreat from realism has taken the form of atonality. If you listen to this scale –

KEYBOARD DEMONSTRATION: INCOMPLETE DIATONIC SCALE.

— something is clearly missing. We are left hanging in the air, unsatisfied, waiting for ‘the other shoe’ to drop. Tonality is a system of relations between tones having a tonic or central pitch as its most important element. In atonal music, all sense of key or resting place is lost. There are no longer “consonances” and “dissonances,” but only varying degrees of dissonance.

Here is a piece of modern atonal music — “Duo for Two Violins in the Sixth-Tone System,” by the Czech composer Alois Haba*.

RECORDING 2: EXTRACT: ALOIS HABA: ‘DUO FOR 1140 VIOLINS IN THE SIXTH-TONE SYSTEM’

Atonal composers say that in rejecting tonality, they are liberating music from restrictions. Yet Bach, Beethoven and Mozart did not feel restricted by tonality.

The fact is that, unlike the music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, who did not feel themselves restricted by tonality, this kind of music fails to move listeners. It does not do so — it is unloved — because it has rejected melody, it has rejected realism.

What limits modern composers is not tonality, but paucity of ideas.

In some respects, the music of composers like Haba has its counterpart in the junk music of “pop.”

Here is an extract of a group called “The Swirlies” playing a piece called “Blondatonaudiobaton” — whatever that may mean.

RECORDING 3: EXTRACT: THE SWIRLIES: “BLONDATONAUDIOBATON”

It is not accidental that pop concerts have become associated with drugs — for the music itself (if one can call it that) has many of the characteristics of a drug.

Capitalism in decay survives by means of the old Roman policy of “Divide and Rule” — by dividing black from white, office worker from manual worker, Protestant from Catholic, and — as in the case of “pop music” — young from old. Indeed,, in a society where there is hopeless mass unemployment the ideal young person is one who is too stoned to do anything more than stagger down to the chemist’s and collect his methodone.

As George Melly*, puts it, pop is:

“. . . based on the corruption of standards deliberately engineered by skilful vested interests for their own gain. . . .Pop is in many ways an ersatz culture feeding off its own publicity….It draws no conclusions. It makes no comments. It proposes no solutions.”

(George Melly: ‘Revolt into Style: The Pop Arts in Britain’; Harmondsworth; 1972; p. 6, 7).

AESTHETICS IN THE SOVIET UNION (1917-1932)

Aesthetics is the science of quality in art.

Marx, Engels and Lenin did not develop a thoroughgoing theory of aesthetics, and even their passing comments on the subject were not systematically investigated until the 1930s.

After the Russian Socialist Revolution of November 1917, in the absence of any authoritative guidelines, all kinds of artistic trends flowered, including many from the West.

“Proletarian Culture” (1920-24)

There was general agreement in Soviet Russia that culture in a socialist state, a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat, should be “proletarian culture.” But there was no agreement as to what ‘proletarian culture’ should consist of.

One influential view was that put forward by Aleksandr Bogdanov*, who became the leader of the “Proletarian Cultural and Educational Associations,” (Proletkult), formed in September 1917.

The leaders of Proletkult held that “proletarian culture” must be a new, specially created culture:

“Its (Proletkult’s — Ed.) members actually denied the cultural legacy of the past… isolated themselves from life and aimed at setting up a special ‘proletarian culture.'”

(Note to: Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 31; Moscow; 1974; p. 567).

They also demanded that there should be no leadership of Proletkult by the Party:

“Proletkult continued to insist on independence, thus setting itself in opposition to the proletarian state.”

(Note to: Vladimir I. Lenin; ‘Collected Works’, Volume 31; ibid.; p. 567)

Lenin was strongly opposed to Bogdanov’s conception of “proletarian culture,” insisting that it should be a natural development of all that was best in previous world culture:

“Marxism . . . has . . . assimilated and refashioned everything of value in the more than two thousand years of the development of human thought and culture. Only further work on this basis and in this direction . . . can be recognised as the development of a genuine proletarian culture.”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘On Proletarian Culture’ (October 1920), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 31; ibid.; p. 317).

“Only a precise knowledge and transformation of the culture created by the entire development of mankind will enable us to create a proletarian culture. The latter . . . is not an invention of those who call themselves experts in proletarian culture. That is all nonsense. Proletarian culture must be the logical development of the store of knowledge mankind has accumulated under the yoke of capitalist, landowner and bureaucratic society.”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Tasks of the Youth Leagues’ (October 1920), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 31; ibid.; p. 287).

Lenin further demanded that:

“. . . all Proletkult organisations . . . accomplish their tasks under the general guidance of the Soviet authorities (specifically of the People’s Commissariat of Education) and of the Russian Communist Party.”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘On Proletarian Culture’ (October 1920), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 31; ibid.; p. 317).

The Proletkult organisations declined in the 1920s:

” . . . ceasing to exist in 1932.”

(Note to: Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 31; ibid.; p.567).

The Period of Party Neutrality in Aesthetics (1925-1932)

In May 1925 Stalin put forward a view which expressed the basis of an objective Marxist-Leninist aesthetic — that proletarian culture should be socialist in content and national in form:

“Proletarian culture . . . is socialist in content . . . national in form.”

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the East’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 7; Moscow; 1954; p. 140).

However, the leadership of the Party rejected the conception of aesthetics put forward by Stalin, and in June 1925 adopted:

“…a rambling, repetitious, verbose and pompous document.”

(Edward J. Brown: ‘The Proletarian Episode in Russian Literature: 1928-1932’; New York; 1935)(hereafter listed as ‘Edward J. Brown (1935)’); p. 43).

This resolution was entitled “On the Policy of the Party in the Field of Literature,” and declared the Party’s neutrality between aesthetic trends:

“The Party can in no way bind itself in adherence to any one direction in the sphere of artistic form. . . . All attempts to bind the Party to one direction at the present phase of cultural development of the country must be firmly rejected.
Therefore the Party must pronounce in favour of free competition between the various groupings and streams in this sphere. . . .Similarly unacceptable would be the passing of a decree or party decision awarding a legal monopoly in matters of literature and publishing to some group or literary organisation, . . . for this would mean the destruction of proletarian literature.”

(Resolution of CC, RCP, ‘On the Party’s Policy in the Field of Literature’ (July 1925), in: C. Vaughan James: ‘Soviet Socialist Realism’; London; 1973; p;. 118, 119).

Edward J. Brown* comments:

“As a result of that liberal policy, the years from 1921 to 1932 saw the growth of a literature in Russia which is thoroughly congenial to the tastes of Western intellectuals.”

(Edward J. Brown: ‘Russian Literature since the Revolution’; London; 1963 (hereafter listed as ‘Edward J. Brown (1963)’; p. 23).

The adoption of this “liberal” attitude towards aesthetics was due to the fact that the Party leadership at this time was dominated by revisionists, by concealed opponents of socialism. The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party elected after the 13th Congress of the Party in June 1924 consisted of (in alphabetical order):

Nikolay I. Bukharin*,
Lev B. Kamenev*;
Aleksey I. Rykov*;
Josef V. Stalin;
Mikhail P. Tomsky*;
Lev D. Trotsky*;
Grigory E. Zinoviev*.

(Leonard Schapiro: ‘The Communist Party of the Soviet Union’; London; 1960; p. 607).

The revisionist control over literature in the next period was exercised through the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers (RAPP), founded in 1920, which published the journal “On Literary Guard” from 1926 to 1932. RAPP was headed by the concealed Trotskyist Leopold Averbakh*, who exercised a virtual dictatorship over literature:

“Averbakh exercised a virtual dictatorship over early Soviet Russian literature.”

(Robert H. Stacy: ‘Russian Literary Criticism: A Short History’; New York; 1974; p. 196).

“Averbakh’s first book, published in 1923, had appeared with a preface by Trotsky.”

(Edward J. Brown (1963): op. cit.; p. 217).

“In 1937 Averbakh was unmasked as an agent of Trotsky, one whose errors formed a pattern of subversion in Soviet literature.”‘

(Norah Levin: ‘The Jews in the Soviet Union since 1917: Paradoxes of Survival’, Volume 2; London; 1990; p. 863).

Averbakh was the brother-in-law of Genrikh Yagoda*, at this time Deputy Commissar for Internal Affairs, who later, in 1938, admitted in open court to treason:

“The main figure, Averbakh, had come under the protection of his relative by marriage, Yagoda. . . . Soon after Yagoda’s arrest, he (Averbakh — Ed.) was attacked as a Trotskyite.”

(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; Harmondsworth; 1971; p. 446).

“The RAPP leaders . . . were, shortly after the Moscow Trial of 1937, accused of having been themselves Trotskyists.”

(Edward J. Brown (1935): op. cit.; p. 223).

In the absence of any Party guidance on aesthetics, the Trotskyites in the leadership of RAPP caused great harm to Soviet literature during the period of their domination, partly by their sectarianism:

“Averbakh was sectarian and oppressively dogmatic in his treatment of literary questions.”

(Victor Terras: p. 29; ‘Handbook of Russian Literature’; New Haven (USA); 1985;)

For example, during the period of the First Five-Year Plan (1929-34) the leaders of RAPP decreed in 1930 that only literature which directly boosted the Plan should be published:

“‘Literature should help the Five-Year Plan’ was the slogan. . . .The depiction of the Five-Year Plan is the one and only problem of Soviet literature, proclaimed the organ of RAPP in 1930. . . .For about three years, the Five-Year Plan became the only subject of Soviet literature.”

(Gleb Struve: ‘Soviet Russian Literature’; London; 1935; p. 86, 229).

As might have been expected:

” . . . the result was a drying-up of the creative sources of Russian literature and a narrowing-down of its themes.”

(Gleb Struve: ibid.; p. 229).

Even more serious, the leaders of RAPP used their positions to persecute writers who attempted to follow a socialist line in their art — this extending even to such famous and outstanding artists as Maksim Gorky*, Mikhail Sholokhov* and Vladimir Mayakovsky*.

The Case of Maksim Gorky

The persecution of Maksim Gorky by the Soviet revisionists, particularly Grigory Zinoviev, became so serious that in 1921 Gorky was forced to leave Soviet Russia and move to Italy:

“His (Gorky’s –Ed.) relations with Zinoviev, the local dictator at Petrograd, became so strained that he left Russia in the autumn of 1921.”

(Jeanne Vronskaya & Vladimir Chuguev: ‘The Biographical Dictionary of the Former Soviet Union: Prominent People in All Fields from 1917 to the Present’; London; 1992; p. 157).

“Partly on account of his disagreements with the leading Bolsheviks (Zinoviev and Kamenev — Ed.). Gorky went abroad again in 1921.”

(Anthony K. Thorlby (Ed.): ‘Penguin Companion to Literature’, Volume 2; Harmondsworth; 1969; p. 325).

“Gorky did make a dire enemy of one of the new masters: Zinioviev.”

(Dan Levin: ‘Stormy Petrel: The Life and Work of Maksim Gorky’ London; 1967; p. 198).

in whose feud with Gorky:

“Zinoviev was supported by Kamenev. . . . It was the weakening of Gorky’s position in Soviet Russia, a growing sense of disillusionment and helplessness, that finally made him leave in 1921, not his health.”

(Dan Levin: ibid.; p. 210).

In 1928 the attacks on Gorky were taken up by the still concealed revisionists in the leadership of RAPP, headed by Averbakh. For example, in February 1928 Gorky was being depicted in the RAPP journal as:

“a man without class consciousness.”

(‘On Literary Guard’, February 1928; p. 94).

Averbakh’s attacks on Gorky in ‘On Literary Guard’ were echoed in the journal “The Present,” published by the Siberian writers’ association, which had been founded by Semyon Rodov* (formerly of the RAPP triumvirate). This journal described Gorky as:

“…a crafty, disguised enemy.”

(‘The Present’, Nos. 8 & 9, 1929, in: C. Vaughan James: op. cit.; p. 74).

“In tirades of mounting fury, Gorky was called a class enemy and said to be a protector of anti-Soviet elements.”

(C. Vaughan James: ibid.; p 74).

But by this time the exposure of the Opposition had reached the point where these attacks could be countered:

“At this point the Party stepped in with a resolution ‘On the Statement of Part of the Siberian Writers and Literary Organisations against Maksim Gorky.”‘

(C. Vaughan James: ibid.; p. 74).

and administered:

“a firm reprimand to the Communist fraction of the Siberian Proletkult.”

(C. Vaughan James: ibid.; p. 74).

During Gorky’s enforced absence abroad, Stalin continued to support him, writing to him, for example, in Italy in January 1930:

“I am told you need a physician from Russia, Is that so? Whom do you want? Let us know and we shall send him.”

(J. V. Stalin: Letter to Maksim Gorky, January 1930, in: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 183).

But by 1931 the revisionists seemed to have been finally defeated, and Gorky felt it safe to return to the Soviet Union. He returned to Moscow in 1931 after the fall of his arch-enemy, Zinoviev. (Jeanne Vronskaya and Vladimir Chuguev: op. cit.; p. 157).

Since:

“. . the defeat of the Communist Opposition . . . must have seemed . . to Gorky the harbinger of unity. Zinoviev . . . had been Gorky’s arch-tormentor.”

(Dan Levin: op. cit.; p. 264).

But concealed revisionists continued to plot against Gorky. By utilising the services of medical members of the conspiracy, Genrikh Yagoda — who was Commissar for Internal Affairs from 1934 to 1936 — had arranged the murder of Gorky’s son, Maksim Peshkov, in 1934 and that of Gorky himself in 1936:

YAGODA: Yenukidze “. . . told me that the centre had decided to undertake a number of terrorist acts against members of the Political Bureau and, in addition, against Maksim Gorky personally. . . . Yenukidze explained to me that the ‘bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ . . . regarded Gorky as a dangerous figure. Gorky was a staunch supporter of Stalin’s leadership, and in case the conspiracy was put into effect, he would undoubtedly raise his voice against us, the conspirators. . . .

VYSHINSKY: Do you admit being guilty of the murder of Alexey Maksimovich Gorky?

YAGODA: I do.”

(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938; p. 574, 577).

The physician Dmitry Pletnev told the Court:

“PLETNEV: No extraneous poisonous substances were introduced, but he (Gorky — Ed.) was subjected to a regime which was harmful. All the medicines were permissible, but in the individual case of Gorky they were harmful. . . .

VYSHINSKY: Formulate briefly the particulars of the plan which you drew up together with Levin (co-defendant physician Lev Levin — Ed.) for the killing of Aleksey Maksimovich Gorky.

PLETNEV: To tire out the organism and thus lower its power of resistance.

VYSHINSKY: For what purpose?

PLETNEV: To bring about Gorky’s death.”

(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; ibid.; p. 591, 593).

The Case of Mikhail Sholokhov

One of the finest Soviet novels is “The Quiet Don,” written in 1928-40 by the Cossack writer Mikhail Sholokhov who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for the work in 1965. An English translation of the novel was published in two parts, entitled respectively “Quiet Flows the Don” and “The Don Flows Home to the Sea.”

“The Quiet Don” is, above all:

“. . . a harsh denunciation of the policy pursued by the Trotskyites.”

(Geir Kjetsaa et al: ‘The Authorship of “The Quiet Don”‘; Oslo; 1984; p. 17).

among the Cossacks.

Almost immediately after the publication of the first volume of the novel in the journal “October” in 1929, rumours began to circulate that “The Quiet Don” was a plagiarism, that it had been written not by Sholokhov, but by someone else — the favourite candidate being another Cossack writer, Fedor Kryukov*:

“Rumours of plagiarism started to circulate as far back as 1928, simultaneously with the appearance of the first volume in the literary journal ‘October.”‘

(Geir Kjetsaa et al: op. cit.; p. 15).

These rumours were, understandably, spread by

“. . . supporters of Trotsky. . . .Even if Trotsky at that time had left the Soviet Union, some of his earlier adherents were still in power. One of them was S. I. Syrtsov* (1893-1938), . . ., an eager supporter of Trotsky’s brutal policy towards the Cossacks.”

(Geir Kjetsaa et al: op. cit.; p. 17).

As a result of these rumours,

“at the beginning of 1929, the editorial board (of ‘October’ — Ed.), decided to discontinue the publication of the novel.”

(Geir Kjetsaa et al: op. cit.; p. 16).

Sholokhov protested to the Party newspaper “Pravda,” which organised a special commission, headed by the writer Aleksandr Serafimovich*, to investigate the allegations. To this body, Sholokhov submitted his manuscripts and notes.

“At the end of March 1929, ‘Pravda’ published a letter in which the charges against Sholokhov were refuted as ‘malicious slander’ spread by enemies of the proletarian dictatorship.”

(‘Pravda’, 29 March 1929; p. 4).

In January 1930 Sholokhov had a meeting with Stalin, on which he (Sholokhov) commented:

“The conversation was very profitable to me and encouraged me to put into practice new creative ideas.”

(Herman Ermolaev: ‘Mikhail Sholokhov and his Art’; Princeton (USA); 1982 (herafter listed as ‘Herman Ermolkav (1982); p. 29).

By 1934, as we have seen [Editor: See prior writings via the Index pages of Alliance], the Soviet state security organs had come under the control of concealed revisionists, and in 1938:

“the NKVD began a large-scale operation against Sholokhov.”

(Herman Ermolaev (1982): ibid.; p. 41).

Sholokhov was accused of:

“preparing an uprising of the . . . Cossacks against the Soviet regime.”

(Herman Ermolaev (1982): op. cit.; p. 41).

In October 1938, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPSU carried out an investigation, in which Stalin played a leading role, into the charges against Sholokhov. These were found to be groundless. Sholokhov said in 1969 that:

” . . . Stalin looked closely into everything, and all the accusations against me were smashed to smithereens.”

(Herman Ermolaev (1982): op. cit.; p;., 42).

In the 1960s the charges of plagiarism against Sholokhov were renewed by the historian Roy Medvedev*, who admitted that:

“. . . it is a fact that Fedor Kryukov’s son was among the Cossacks who emigrated to the west and he never made any claims against Sholokhov. No such claims were made anywhere in emigre Cossack literature.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Problems in the Literary Biography of Mikhail Sholokhov’; Cambridge; 1966 (hereafter listed as ‘Roy A. Medvedev (1966)’; p. 204).

Nevertheless, Medevedev concluded:

“While we must refrain as yet from any definitive solutions and conclusions, the mass of new data seems to us to speak in favour of the now familiar theory of the double authorship of ‘The Quiet Don.'”

(Roy A. Medvedev (1966): op. cit.; p.

The main reason presented for this conclusion was the view that:

“. . . Sholokhov was too young to have produced such a mature piece of work.”

(Roy A. Medvedev (1966): op. cit.; p. 202).

In 1974 the charges of plagiarism against Sholokhov were revived in an anonymous pamphlet published in Paris, with a foreword by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn*. The pamphlet, in Russian, was entitled ‘The Current of ‘The Quiet Don’: Riddles of the Novel.” Reviving the old, discredited slanders of the 1920s, it claimed that:

“the bulk of ‘The Quiet Don’ had been written not by Mikhail Sholokhov, but by… Fedor Kryukov.”

(Geir Kjetsaa et al: op. cit.; p. 7).

A more recent study, published in 1982 by the American expert Herman Ermolaev*, based on computer textual analysis of the work of Sholokhov and Kryukov, concludes that:

“no evidence has so far been presented to show that Sholokhov utilised someone else’s imaginative work for writing ‘The Quiet Don’. Until there is convincing evidence to the contrary, Sholokhov ought to be treated as the sole author of ‘The Quiet Don.”‘

(Herman Ermolaev (1982): op. cit.; p. 300).

Similar computer textual analysis also compelled Geir Kjetsaa et al. to conclude in 1984 that:

“the use of mathematical statistics permits us to exclude the possibility of Kryukov having written the novel, whereas Sholokhov cannot be excluded as the author.”

(Geir Kjetsaa et al: op. cit. p. 152).

The Case of Vladimir Mayakovsky

The poet Vladimir Mayakovsky is regarded as:

“the real troubadour of the Revolution.”

(Herbert Marshall (Ed.): ‘Mayakovsky’; London; 1965 (henceforth listed as ‘Herbert Marshall (Ed.) (1965)’); p. 18).

He wrote poems on topical matters, in ordinary everyday language, and travelled from town to town and village to village, reciting them.

In April 1930 Mayakovsky committed suicide by shooting himself, leaving a note. The story was widely spread that he had:

“committed suicide because of a romantic and unfortunate love affair.”

(Gleb Struve: op. cit.; p. 167).

Indeed, the official report of the investigation into his death his death (issued less than 24 hours after his death) was at pains to deny that death was connected with his social or literary activity:

“The preliminary data of the investigation show that the suicide was due to causes of a purely personal character, having nothing to do with the social or literary activity of the poet.”

(‘Pravda’, 15 April 1930, in: Herbert Marshall (Ed.) (1965): op. cit.; p. 28-29).

But, as Shakespeare expressed it:

“Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.”

(William Shakespeare: ‘As You like it’, Act 4, Scene 1, in: ‘The Complete Works’, Feltham; 1979; p. 226).

In fact, it was in October 1929 that Mayakovsky was informed that the girl he thought himself in love with — Tatiana Yalovleva*, the daughter of a White Russian emigrant living in Paris — had married someone else:

“In October Lilya Brik* received a letter from her sister Elsa (Elsa Triolet* — Ed.)…’Tatyana has got married.”‘

(A. D. P. Briggs: ‘Vladimir Mayakovsky: A Tragedy’; Oxford; 1979; p. 114).

His suicide occurred only in April of-the following year — six months later — so that one must agree with Helen Muchnic when she declares:

“It is absurd to think, as some have done, that he ‘died for love’ in the sentimentally romantic sense.”

(Helen Muchnic: ‘From Gorky to Pasternak: Six Writers in Soviet Russia’; New York; 1961; p. 263).

It is clear that some event or events must have occurred in the spring of 1930 which were more immediate causes of his suicide.

In fact. in February 1930, with the aim of bringing himself closer to his audience, Mayakovsky had joined the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers (RAPP):

“Mayakovsky joined RAPP in order to get closer to his workers’ auditorium.”

(Viktor B. Shklovsky: ‘0 Mayakovskom’ (On Mayakovsky); Moscow; 1940; p. 215).

But, as we have seen, RAPP had fallen under the control of a gang of concealed revisionists, headed by Leopold Averbakh, who exerted a reactionary dictatorship over the arts. Thus, in joining RAPP:

“Mayakovsky . . . fell into a dead sea.”

(Viktor B. Shklovsky: ibid.; p. 215).

Averbakh and his bureaucratic cronies made it clear that Mayakovsky was a far from welcome recruit to RAPP. They insisted that he required ‘re-education in proletarian ideology’, making him feel isolated and depressed:

“There is no doubt that he felt his own increasing isolation and sensed the cloud of disapproval that in fact hung over him….The bureaucrats in control of RAPP…did not very much want him in their organisation.

Mayakovsky was not warmly welcomed in RAPP and…in this mass organisation he felt isolated and alone….From February until April 1930 the secretariat of RAPP constantly hauled Mayakovsky over the coals in a trivial and didactic fashion….From the moment of his entry until his suicide, the ‘secretariat’ of that organisation occupied itself with ‘re-educating’ him in the spirit of proletarian ideology, and literature, a truly depressing experience. Some people recalled that on the eve of his suicide…he was in a state of defenceless misery as a result of his sessions with the talentless dogmatists and petty literary tyrants whose organisation he had joined.”

(Edward J. Brown: ‘Mayakovsky: A Poet in the Revolution’; Princeton (USA): 1973 (hereafter listed as ‘Edward J. Brown; (1973)’); p. 362-63, 366, 367).

“The whole set of vindictive attacks on Mayakovsky, of all people, on the ground of insufficient closeness to and concern for the masses – arguments that read so absurdly at this distance of time, but which then momentarily hounded and isolated him — bear the smell precisely of those methods. Mayakovsky was indirectly the victim of the same hands that later directly slew the great Soviet writer of the generation that preceded him, Gorky.”

(Herbert Marshall (Ed.): ‘Mayakovsky and his Poetry’; London; 1945 (hereafter listed as ‘Herbert Marshall (Ed,): 1945’); p. 6).

When “An Exhibition of the Life and Work of Mayakovsky” took place in Moscow in February and in Leningrad in March, it:

“was boycotted by official and unofficial bodies, poets and critics; more and more bitter and scathing attacks were being made on him.”

(Herbert Marshall (Ed.) (1965); p. 23).

RAPP’s attacks on Mayakovsky continued — intensified — after his death:

“The cloud that had settled over Mayakovsky’s reputation during the last years of his life was not dispelled by his senseless death.”

(Edward J. Brown (Ed.) (1963): op. cit.; p. 369).

“They hounded him also after his death. His works only appeared in restricted editions, no new works published, no research, no production of his plays, his books and portraits were removed from libraries.”

(Herbert Marshall (Ed.) (1965); p. 39).

“For a time after Mayakovsky’s death, RAPP’s clique, by exploiting his suicide, even succeeded in hindering the publication of his works, delaying the opening of his museum, and removing his name from the school curricula.”

(Herbert Marshall (Ed.) (1945); p. 6).

When Elsa Triolet attended the Writers’ Congress in Moscow in 1934, she complained to “one of these petty bureaucrats” about the neglect of Mayakovsky in the Soviet Union and was told:

“There’s a cult of Mayakovsky, and we’re fighting against that cult.”

(Elsa Triolet: ‘Mayakovsky: Poet of Russia’, in: ‘New Writing’, New Series 3; London; 1.939; p. 222-23).

On Stalin’s initiative, as we shall see, RAPP was liquidated in April 1932.
In 1935 Lilya and Osip Brik* wrote to Stalin to complain of the neglect of Mayakovsky in the Soviet Union. (Edward J. Brown (Ed.) (1973); p. 370).

Stalin replied promptly:

“Mayakovsky was and remains the finest, most talented poet of our Soviet age. Indifference to his memory and his works is a crime.”

(J. V. Stalin, in: A. D. P. Briggs: op. cit.; p. 121-22).

As a result of Stalin’s initiative, Mayakovsky’s prestige was immediately restored:

“At once things began to happen, Mayakovsky’s ashes were re-interred in a place of honour alongside the remains of Gogol. Statues of the poet sprang up everywhere. His works were reissued and translated.”

(D. P. Briggs: op. cit.; p. 122).

One final point: the Trotskyist revisionists who drove Mayakovsky to his death plead not guilty to the crime. The American Trotskyist Max Eastman*, for example, cannot deny Mayakovsky’s talent nor the role of Averbakh and his gang in his persecution, so he simply inverts the truth by presenting Averbakh as:

“the young adjutant of Stalin.”

(Max Eastman: ‘Artists in Uniform: A Study of Literature and Bureaucratism’; London; 1934; p. 35).

AESTHETICS IN THE SOVIET UNION (1932-1953)

The Reformation of the Artistic Organisation (1932)

We have seen that in 1924 Stalin was the only Marxist-Leninist on the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. This situation was rectified by a carefully planned strategy of cooperating with the less dangerous revisionists in the leadership in order to remove the more dangerous. As a result of this strategy, the Political Bureau elected after the 17th Congress of the CPSU in February 1934 consisted of (in alphabetical order):

Andrey Andreyev*;

Lazar Kaganovich*;

Mikhail Kalinin*;

Sergey Kirov*;

Stanislav Kosior*v

Valerian Kuibyshev*;

Vyacheslav Molotov*;

Grigory Ordzhonikidze*

Josef Stalin;

Kliment Voroshi1ov*.

(Leonard Schapiro: op. cit.; p. 607).

That is, it was composed of eight Marxist-Leninists and two still concealed revisionists. Thus, by the 1930s Marxist-Leninists had won majority of the seats on the Political Bureau.

It is customary for learned professors to present the defeated revisionists as “brilliant intellectuals” and Stalin as “a clod from the Caucasian backwoods.”

The objective history of Stalin’s successful struggle against the Opposition belies such an analysis.

Having liquidated open revisionism in the political field, the Marxist-Leninists now in the leadership of the CPSU turned their attention to the development of a genuine proletarian culture.

The first step was to liquidate the existing cultural organisations under revisionist domination and to form new broad organisations in each field of culture — organisations open to all cultural workers who supported Soviet power and socialist construction, with a Communist Party fraction in each to give Marxist Leninist leadership.

Thus, in April 1932, the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party adopted a Decision “On the Reformation of Literary-Artistic Organisations”:

“The framework of the existing proletarian literary-artistic organisations…appears to be too narrow and to seriously restrict the scope of artistic creativity….Consequently the Central Committee of the ACP (b) resolves:

1) to liquidate the association of proletarian writers.
2) to unite all writers supporting the platform of Soviet power and aspiring to participate in the building of socialism into one union of Soviet, socialist writers with a communist fraction in it;
3) to carry out an analogous changes with regard to the other forms of art.”

(C. Vaughan James: op. cit. p. 120).

The fact that this radical decision was taken on Stalin’s personal initiative was revealed by Lazar Kaganovich at the 17th Congress of the CPSU in January-February 1934:

“A group of Communist writers, taking advantage of RAPP as an organisational instrument, incorrectly utilised the power of their Communist influence on the literary front, and instead of unifying and organising around RAPP the broad masses of writers, held back and impeded the development of the writers’ creative powers. . . .It might have been possible to bring out a resolution on the tasks of the Communists in literature; it might have been possible to suggest that the RAPP people alter their policy. But this might have remained merely a good intention. Comrade Stalin posed the question differently: it is necessary, he said, to alter the situation in an organisational way.”

(Lazar Kaganovich: Speech at 17th Congress, CPSU, in: Edward J. Brown (1935): op. cit.; p. 201).

The American music critic Boris Schwarz* tells us that:

“. . . the Resolution . . . was received with widespread approval.”

(Boris Schwarz: ‘Music and Musical Life in Soviet Russia: 1917-1970’; London; 1972; p. 110).

The single organisation created by this decree in the field of literature was the Union of Soviet Writers, in the field of music the Union of Soviet Composers.

It remained to lay down the principles of aesthetics which Soviet artists would be expected to follow — principles which came to be known as ‘the method of socialist realism.

The Origin of the Term “Socialist Realism”

The first known use of the term “socialist realism” was in an article in the “Literary Gazette” in May 1932:

“The basic method of Soviet literature is the method of socialist realism.”

(‘Literary Gazette’, 23 May 1932, in: Herman Ermolaev: ‘Soviet Literary Theories: 1917-1934’; Berkeley (USA); 1963 (hereafter listed as ‘Herman Ermolaev (1963)’); p. 144).

Five months later, in October 1932, at an informal meeting in Gorky’s flat, Stalin gave his support to the term:

“If the artist is going to depict our life correctly, he cannot fail to observe and point out what is leading towards socialism. So this will be . . . socialist realism.”

(Josef V… Stalin, in: C. Vaughan James: op. cit.; p. 86).

The Characteristics of Socialist Realism

Realism, as we have said, is a trend in art which seeks to represent its subject faithfully and truthfully.

It must be distinguished from naturalism, which represents reality only superficially and statically. In fact, the world is in process of constant change, so that a work of art which fails to hint at the forces working beneath the surface of reality is not a realist, but a naturalist, work.

For example, Russia in 1907 lay under the “Stolypin* Reaction”: the organisations of the working class were being destroyed; the prisons were filled with revolutionaries; Black Hundred terror raged unchecked. On the surface, it was a picture of unrelieved, hopeless gloom for the mass of the people. Yet less than ten years later the whole rotten system of Tsarism had been swept away in the October Revolution. Consquently, a novel set in Russia in 1907 which failed to hint at the revolutionary social forces operating beneath the surface would be a work not of realism, but of naturalism.

Marxist-Leninists understand that monopoly capitalism, imperialism, is moribund capitalism, capitalism which has outlived its social usefulness to the mass of the people. Consequently, a 20th-century work of art which fails to suggest the underlying forces of the working class, of socialism, which will bring about the socialist revolution, is not a realist work: 20th century realism must be socialist realism.

The key word here is “suggest”: a socialist realist work of art must not give the impression of being propaganda.

As Engels expressed it in 1888:

“The more the opinions of the author remain hidden, the better the work of art.”

(Friedrich Engels: Letter to Margaret Harkness* (April 1888). in: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘On Literature and Art’; Moscow; 1976; p.91).

Thus, the Constitution of the Union of Soviet Writers adopted at the lst All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers in 1934 declares:

“Socialist realism demands from the author a true and historically concrete depiction of reality in its revolutionary development.”

(Constitution of Union of Soviet Writers, in: C. Vaughan James: op. cit.; p. 88).

Socialist realist art does not exclude distortion and exaggeration, so long as this departure from naturalism assists in bringing out the truth about the subject. Thus, a caricature of Margaret Thatcher* showing her as a vulture with bloody talons would be much more realistic than a naturalistic portrait showing her as a sweet, silver-haired grandmother.

Socialist realist art is not, however, just a passive reflection of reality; it must play an active role in building socialist consciousness:

“The relationship between art and reality is twofold. . . . Socialist Realism demands a profound and true perception of reality and reflection of its chief and most progressive tendencies ; but it is itself a powerful weapon for changing reality. . . . Artistic truth facilitates the development of communist awareness, and education in the spirit of communism is possible only through a true reflection of life.”

(Vaughan James: ibid.; p. 80).

In Stalin’s famous phrase, socialist realist artists are “engineers of human souls”:

“Comrade Stalin has called our writers engineers of human souls.”

(Andrey A. Zhdanov: ‘Soviet Literature — the Richest in Ideas,* the Most Advanced Literature’ (hereafter listed as ‘Andrey A. Zhdanov (1934)’, in: H. G. Scott (Ed.): ‘Problems of Soviet Literature’; London; 1935; p. 21).

Socialist realist art is, therefore, “tendentious,” “partisan.” Far from pretending to be neutral in the class struggle, it consciously sides with the working people:

“Soviet literature is tendentious, for in an epoch of class struggle there is not and cannot be a literature which is . . . not tendentious.”

(Andrey A. Zhdanov (1934): ibid.; p. 21).

Of course, all art is selective in its subject matter. There may be a millionaire who gives away all his money to the poor; but he would be so exceptional that a work of art with him as subject would give a completely false picture of millionaires. It would not be truly realist. True realism, socialist realism, requires typicality in its selection of subject matter:

“Realism . . . implies, besides truth of detail, the truthful reproduction of typical characters under typical circumstances.”

(Friedrich Engels: Letter to ‘Margaret Harkness’, (April 1888), in: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: op. cit.; p. 90).

Romanticism is a form of art expressing intense emotion. However, in the majority of cases romanticism became linked with idealist soarings into metaphysics. Socialist realist art makes use of romanticism, but shorn of its metaphysical tendencies to give revolutionary romanticism:

“Romanticism of the old type . . . depicted a non-existent life and non-existent heroes, leading the reader away from . . . real life into . . . a world of utopian dreams. Our literature . . . cannot be hostile to romanticism, but it must be romanticism of a new type, revolutionary romanticism.”

(Andrey A. Zhdanov (1934): op. cit.; p. 21).

We have seen that the form of a work of art is the manner or style in which the artist has presented the content of his work of art. Where the artist gives priority to form over content, we encounter a deviation from realism known as formalism.

Finally, socialist realist art must be national in form, not cosmopolitan:

“Proletarian culture . . . is . . . national in form.”

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the East’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 7; op. cit.; p. 140).

“Internationalism in art does not spring from depletion and impoverishment of national art; on the contrary, internationalism grows where national culture flourishes. To forget this is . . . to become a cosmopolitan without a country.

Our internationalism . . . is therefore based on the enrichment of our national . . . culture, which we can share with other nations, and is not based on an impoverishment of our national art, blind imitation of foreign styles, and the eradication of all national characteristics.”

(Andrey A. Zhdanov: p. 61, 63).

The First Congress of Soviet Writers (1934)

The First Congress of Soviet Writers, held in Moscow in August 1934 resolved that socialist realism:

“. . . become the officially sponsored method, first in literature and subsequently in the arts in general.”

Vaughan James: op. cit.; p. 87).

Thus, by 1935 it could be reported truthfully:

“The Union of Soviet Writers comprises all those writers, living and writing in Soviet Russia, who adhere to the platform of the Soviet Government, support Socialist construction and accept the method of Socialist Realism.”

(Gleb Struve: op. cit.; p. 231).

However; revisionism in the arts had not been completely defeated. Papers were presented at the congress not only by the Marxist-Leninists Andrey Zhdanov and Maksim Gorky, but also by the still concealed revisionists Nikolay Bukharin, Karl Radek* and Aleksey Stetsky*:

“Bukharin . . . dismissed officially acclaimed ‘agitational poets’ as obsolete, and praised at length disfavoured lyrical poets, particularly the defiantly apolitical Pasternak*.”

(Stephen F. Cohen: ‘Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography: 1888-1938’; London; 1974; p, 356).

Thus, the battle of ideas between Marxist-Leninists and revisionists in the field of the arts did not end in 1934, but continued.

The Case of Dmitry Shostakovich (1936)

In November 1934 a new opera by Dmitry Shostakovich*, “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,” had its premiere. The libretto was based on a short story by Nikolay Leskov* entitled “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.” It tells the story of Katerina Ismailova, the wife of a provincial merchant, who has an affair with a clerk in her husband’s office, poisons her father-in-law, then joins her lover in strangling her husband and, finally, murders her little nephew. For Leskov Katerina was a depraved criminal, but Shostakovich presented the story as a tribute to woman’s liberation. While

“… for Leskov, Katerina was a squalid, selfish criminal — deserving of the condemnation which she encountered. Shostakovich, as he later said, intended his music to minimise her own guilt. ‘The musical language of the whole opera is intended to exonerate Katerina1, he declared.”

(Norman Kay: ‘Shostakovich’; London; 1971; p. 26).

The opera caused a sensation in the United States:

“A Western critic coined the word ‘pornophony’ to describe . . . the bedroom scene.”

(Boris Schwarz: op. cit.; p. 371),

And the “New York Sun” agreed:

“Shostakovich is without doubt the foremost composer of pornographic music in the history of the opera.”

(Boris Schwarz: ibid.; p. 120).

In January 1936, however,

” . . . when Stalin finally saw ‘Lady Macbeth’, he did not like it, . . . he walked out before it was over.”

(Victor I. Serov: ‘Dmitry Shostakovich: The Life and Background of a Soviet Composer’; New York; 1943; p. 220).

“For Stalin the opera was a painful experience.”

(Robert Stradling: ‘Shostakovich and the Soviet System’, in: Christopher Norris (Ed.): ‘Shostakovich: The Man and his Music’; London; 1982; p. 197).

A few days later, “Pravda” carried a leading article entitled “Chaos instead of Music” which, as its title indicates, was strongly critical of the opera.

Shostakovich himself insisted that the article

“… actually expressed the opinion of Stalin.”

(Solomon Volkov (Ed.): ‘Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitry Shostakovich1; London; 1981; p. 113).

and the editor of his memoirs, Solomon Volkov, agrees that the article was

“… dictated, in fact, by Stalin.”

(Solomon Volkov: Introduction to: ‘Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitry Shostakovich’; op. cit.; p. xxix).

The article declared:

“From the first moment, the listener is knocked over the head by an incoherent chaotic stream of sounds. The fragments of melody, the germs of musical phrases, are drowned in a sea of bangs, rasping noises and squeals. It is difficult to follow such ‘music’; it is impossible to remember it. … And so it goes on, almost right through the opera. Screams take the place of singing. If, once in a while, the composer finds his way on to a clear melodic path, he immediately dashes aside into the jungle of chaos, which sometimes becomes pure cacophony. . . . Expressiveness … is replaced by a crazy rhythm. Musical noise is supposed to express passion.

All this is not because the composer lacks talent, or because he is incapable of expressing ‘strong and simple emotions’ in musical terms. This music is just deliberately written ‘inside-out1, so that nothing should remind the listener of classical opera . . . and simple, easily accessible musical speech. . . . The danger of this ‘Leftism’ in music comes from .the same source as all ‘Leftist’ ugliness in painting, poetry, education and science. Petit-bourgeois ‘innovation’ produces divorce from real art, from real literature…Shostakovich, in reality, produces nothing but the crudest naturalism.. . . It is crude, primitive and vulgar.”

(Leading Article, in: ‘Pravda’, 28 January 1936, in: Alexander Werth; ‘Musical Uproar in Moscow’; London; 1949 (hereafter listed as ‘Alexander Werth (1949)’; p. 48-49).

A few days later, in February, “Pravda” published another leading article, this time strongly critical of Shostakovich’s ballet “The Limpid Stream”;

“The music is without character; it jingles; it means nothing.”

(Leading Article, ‘Pravda, 6 February 1936, in: Victor I. Serov: op. cit.; p. 208).

Shostakovich did not respond publicly:

“Shostakovich . . . suffered in silence.”

(Stanley Sadie (Ed.): ‘New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians’, Volume 17; London; 1980; p. 265).

but he took note of the criticism:

“In December 1936 he withdrew his 4th Symphony…saying that he was dissatisfied with the finale.”

(James Devlin; ‘Shostakovich’; Sevenoaks; 1983; p. 9).

Most Western musicologists agree with Peter Heyworth*, who holds that the Marxist-Leninist criticism of Shostakovich and other composers

“… did immense damage to the cultural life of the Soviet Union.”

(Peter Heyworth: ‘Shostakovich without Ideology’, in: Gervase Hughes S Herbert Van Thai (Eds.): ‘The Music Lover’s Companion’; London; 1971; p. 201).

In fact, criticism of a work of art by the Marxist-Leninist Party of a socialist state is not criticism by “politicians,” but represents the collective opinion of the most advanced cultural leaders of the country:

“Whereas Western criticism represents the subjective opinion of an individual critic, Soviet criticism is a collective opinion expressed in the words of an individual critic.”

(Boris Schwarz: op. cit.; p. 320).

And the view that the constructive Marxist-Leninist criticism was “harmful” is discounted by the fact that in November 1937 the first performance took place of Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, inscribed:

“…’Creative Reply of a Soviet Artist to Just Criticism.'”

(Peter Ileyvorth: ibid.; p. 202).

RECORDING 4: EXCERPT: DMITRY SHOSTAKOVICH: SYMPHONY NO. 5.

Although this inscription did not originate with the composer,

“… Shostakovich . . . accepted it.”

(Stanley Sadie (Ed.): op. cit., Volume 17; p. 265).

And this new symphony, written in the light of the Marxist-Leninist criticism, proved to be his finest work to date:

“The Fifth … to this day remains Shostakovich’s most admired work.”

(Solomon Volkov: op. cit.; p. xxxi).

“Its first movement is Shostakovich at his best . . . and shows a new maturity; this maturity reaches its greatest depth and power in the third movement, the now famous Largo. The entire symphony seems, indeed, to satisfy the demand of the Soviet people that their new music should be ‘powerful and intelligible’. . . . Dmitry’s triumph could be compared only with the comeback of an idol of the prize-ring.”

(Victor I. Serov: op. cit.; p. 231-32).

“The 5th Symphony was received with unanimous praise and the critics rushed to acclaim it.”

(James Devlin: op. cit.; p. 10).

“Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony takes its place amongst the most profound and significant works of world symphonic music. At the same time, all its ethical and aesthetic elements, as well as the underlying idea and its embodiment in music, belong to Soviet art.”

(David Rabinovich: ‘Dmitry Shostakovich1; London; 1959; p. 50).

“It (the 5th Symphony — Ed.) proved to be Shostakovich’s first fully mature work. Naturally enough, the Party’s cultural officials were jubilant. Had not their criticism been admitted by its object as deserved? Better still, had it not yielded fruit in the shape of the finest score that Shostakovich had yet written?”

(Peter Heyworth: op. cit.; p. 202).

As a result, even Peter Heyworth feels compelled to point out:

“If Shostakovich’s weaknesses as a composer are to be attributed to the stultifying dogmas enforced by Zhdanov, why is his Symphony No. 12, written in the full flood of Khrushchev’s thaw, by far his worst.”

(Peter Heyworth: op cit.; p. 199).

Of course, Shostakovich was not sincere in paying tribute to the constructive criticism of the Party. He says in his memoirs:

“Stalin never had any ideology or convictions or ideas or principles…Stalin could definitely be called superstitious. . . . Stalin was half mad.”

(Solomon Volkov (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 187, 192).

The Wartime and Post-War Situation (1941-45)

During the Second World War, when Marxist-Leninists were primarily concerned with victory over the fascist invaders, revisionists were able to spread their ideas, in concealed form, in Soviet society to a considerable extent;

“Two famous decrees, one of August 1941, the other of December 1941, made it possible for any soldier ‘who had distinguished himself in battle’ to join the Party with the minimum of formalities… He could become a candidate member almost automatically and a full member in a much shorter time than usual. No serious ideological training was expected from him — in fact, practically none at all….As the war was nearing its end, there was growing anxiety among the older Party members at the thought that the Party had been diluted by millions of patriotic young soldiers with no ideological training to speak of…The general ‘ideological’ level of these organisations sharply declined in many cases after the war as a result of this influx.”

(Alexander Werth: ‘Russia: The Post-War Years’; London; 1971 (hereafter listed as ‘Alexander Werth (1971)’; p. 100, 102, 103).

In the summer of 1944, the writer Vsevolod Vishnevsky* drew this picture of “cultural coexistence” after the war:

“When the war is over . . . there will be much coming and going, a lot of contacts with the West. Everybody will be allowed to read whatever he likes. There will be exchanges of students, and foreign travel for Soviet citizens will be made easy.”

(Vsevolod Vishnevsky, in: Alexander Werth (1971): op. cit.; p. 99).

and Alexander Werth* himself says:

“All kinds of other ‘Western’ ideas were being toyed with — for instance, a project for publishing ‘escapist’ literature, including a series of hundreds of thrillers and detective stories, translated from the English and published under the general editorship of that great lover of thrillers, Sergey Eisenstein*. A lot of light and entertaining books, plays and films would also be produced. Already in 1944 there were signs of ‘decadence’ in Moscow — amusingly ‘escapist’ films with frivolous songs . . . and even concerts of highly ‘decadent’ songs sung by Aleksandr Vertinsky.*”

(Alexander Werth (1971): op. cit.; p. 99).

In June 1946 a poetry evening was organised in Moscow in honour of the revisionist poets Boris Pasternak* and Anna Akhmatova*.

“The young people of Moscow — above all its students — gave a tremendous ovation to … Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova.”

(Alexander Werth (1971): op. cit. p. 201).

It was following this incident that the Marxist-Leninists launched a determined counter-attack against revisionism in the arts. Or, as Werth expresses it,

“… Zhdanovism blossomed out suddenly in August 1946.”

(Alexander Werth (1971): op. cit.; p. 201).

Incidentally, in 1944 Picasso joined the French Communist Party. But those who imagined that this might influence his art in the direction of socialist realism were sadly disappointed. The French Communist Party was already deep in the mire of revisionism — and not only in the sphere of the arts — and praised Picasso’s art unreservedly. When Stalin died in 1953, the Party commissioned Picasso to do a portrait of him for their literary journal “Les Lettres Francaises”:

SLIDE 10: PABLO PICASSO: “STALIN.”

Although, unlike many paintings by Picasso, this portrait is recognisably that of a human being, its publication brought a host of angry letters from readers and the editors were compelled to print an apology for having published it

[UNFORTUNATELY, PAGE 34 IS MISSING FROM THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF THE TEXT LEFT BY BLAND.

IT DEALS WITH ANNA AKHMATOVA]

“…reactionary morass in literature….She is one of the standard-bearers of the meaningless, empty-headed, aristocrat-salon school of poetry, which has no place whatever in Soviet literature….Akhmatova’s subject matter is individualistic to the core. The range of her poetry is sadly limited; it is the poetry of a spoiled woman-aristocrat, frenziedly vacillating between boudoir and chapel, Her main emphasis is on erotic love-themes, interwoven with notes of sadness, longing, death, mysticism, fatality… It would be hard to say whether she is a nun or a fallen woman; better, perhaps, say she is a bit of each, her desires and prayers intertwined….Her poetry is far removed from the people, It is the poetry of the ten thousand members of the elite society of the old aristocratic Russia, whose hour has long since struck and left them nothing to do but sigh for ‘the good old days.'”

(Andrey A. Zhdanov: op. cit.; p. 25, 26, 27).

The Soviet journalist David Zaslavsky* told a delegation of British writers in 1947:

“All these thirty years he (Zoshchenko — Ed.) has been writing and rewriting his one theme, portraying always that same petty, ignorant, mercenary character. His wit petered out. Laughter changed into vicious grumbling and the slandering of Soviet life. In latter years he had no success whatever among readers, and instead of writing short stories, he turned to mediocre and vulgar works of an allegedly philosophical nature, having nothing in common with either literature or science.”

(Edgell Rickword (Ed.): ‘Soviet Writers reply to English Writers’ Questions’; London; 1948; p. p. 41-42).

The Strike against Revisionism in the Theatre (1946-52)

In August 1946 the Central Committee of the CPSU adopted a resolution entitled “On the Theatrical Repertory and Measures to improve it.” This resolution strongly criticised the paucity of Soviet plays in the repertory of Soviet theatres and the presentation of British and American bourgeois plays:

“The Committee on Arts and Theatres is guilty of a grave political error in sponsoring the staging and publication of foreign plays such as George S. Kaufman’s* ‘The Man Who came to Dinner’ and Maugham’s* ‘Penelope’, which are examples of bourgeois dramaturgy, bound to poison the minds of the Soviet public and to revive vestiges of capitalist mentality.”

(Avrahro Yarmolinsky: ‘Literature under Communism: The Literary Policy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from the End of World War II to the Death of Stalin’, in: ‘Russian and Eastern European Series’, Volume 20; 1957; p. 18).

The Party placed the principal blame for this situation on the leadership of the Union of Soviet Writers, which:

” . . . has virtually ceased to direct the work of the playwright and does nothing to raise the level of their compositions.”

(Avrahm Yarmolinsky: ibid.; p. 18).

while

“… acting and writing are poor, and drab, inartistic shows are the outcome.”

(Avrahm Yarmolinsky: ibid.; p, 18).

In January 1949 “Pravda” continued the offensive against revisionism in the theatre by publishing a leading article entitled “Concerning an Anti-Patriotic Group of Theatrical Critics.” It alleged that a group of critics were condemning good socialist realist plays on the false grounds of their alleged technical defects:

“An anti-patriotic group has developed in theatrical criticism. It consists of followers of bourgeois aestheticism….These critics…are bearers of a homeless cosmopolitanism which is deeply repulsive to Soviet man and hostile to him…Such critics attempt to discredit the progressive phenomena of our literature and art, furiously attacking precisely the patriotic and politically purposive works, under the pretext of their alleged artistic imperfection….The sting of aesthetic-formalist criticism is directed not against the really harmful and inferior works, but against the advanced and best ones which depict Soviet patriots. It is precisely this which attests to the fact that aesthetic formalism merely serves as camouflage for anti-patriotic substance.”

(‘Pravda1, 28 January 1949, in ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 1, No. 5 (1 March 1949); p. 58, 59).

According to the new Constitution of the Soviet Union, adopted in 1935,

“…Soviet society consists of two friendly classes — the workers and peasants.”

(‘History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks): Short Course1; Moscow; 1939; p. 344).

After the Second World War, the revisionists distorted this formulation in the field of aesthetics into the so-called “no-conflict theory” — the theory that, in the realist drama of the new socialist society, no conflict should be shown.

In April 1952 “Pravda” published a leading article sharply critical of the “no-conflict theory,” and of the state of Soviet dramaturgy generally:

“The struggle between the new and old calls forth the most diverse living conflicts, without which there would be no life and hence no art. The chief reason for the feebleness of dramaturgy and the weakness of many plays is that the playwrights do not build their work around the profound conflicts of life, but evade them. If one were to judge by plays of this kind…everything is ideal, there are no conflicts….This approach is wrong. To behave thus is … to sin against truth. Not everything we have is ideal; we have negative types; there is no little evil in our life and no few false people….The play must show living conflict; there can be no play without that. The gross ‘theory’ of the dying out of conflicts . . . has had a harmful effect on the playwrights’ work. . . .The breath of life is lacking in the plays written according to the ‘conflictless dramaturgy’ recipe. . . .Our dramatists must expose and mercilessly scourge the survivals of capitalism, the manifesting of political unconcern, bureaucracy, stagnation, servility, vainglory, arrogance, conceit, graft, an unconscientious approach to duties, a heedless attitude to socialist property; they must expose all that is vulgar and backward and hinders the progress of Soviet society.”

(‘Overcome the Lag in Dramaturgy’, in: ‘Pravda’, 7 April 1952, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 4, No. 11 (26 April 1952); P. 3, 4).

The Struggle against Revisionism in Historiography (1934-36)

Before 1932, the organisation of historiography in the Soviet Union was, like the organisation of the arts, dominated by revisionists — headed by Mikhail Pokrovsky*, until his death from cancer in 1932;

“The main centres of … historical study and discussion — the History Section of the Institute of Red Professors, the Society of Marxist Historians, and (from 1929) the Institute of History at the Communist Academy — were all directed by him.”

(John D. Barber: ‘Soviet Historians in Crisis: 1928-1932’; London; 1981; p. 21).

“Pokrovsky . . . became the virtual dictator of historical science in the Soviet Union.”

(Jeanne Vronskaya & Vladimir Chuguev: op. cit.; p. 408).

Genuine Marxist-Leninists have always accepted Marx’s view that capitalist colonial expansion in the pre-imperialist period could have a progressive aspect, as Marx pointed out in the case of pre-imperialist British colonial expansion into the Indian sub-continent:

“England . . in causing a social revolution in Hindustan was actuated only by the vilest interests. . . . But that is not the question. The question is: can mankind fulfil its destiny without a fundamental evolution in the social state of Asia? If not, whatever may have been the crime of England she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about that revolution.”

(Karl Marx: ‘The British Rule in India’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 2; London; 1943; p.656).

“England has had to fulfil a double mission in India: one destructive and the other regenerating — the annihilation of old Asiatic society and the laying of the material foundations of Western society in Asia….

The political unity of India . . . was the first condition of its regeneration. That unity, imposed by the British sword, will now be strengthened and perpetuated by the electric telegraph. The native army, organised and trained by the British drill-sergeant, was the sine qua non of Indian self-emancipation, and of India ceasing to be the prey of the first foreign intruder. The free press, introduced for the first time into Asiatic society and managed principally by the common offspring of Hindus and Europeans, is a new and powerful agent of reconstruction. The Zemindaree and Ryotwar themselves, abominable as they are, involve two distinct forms of private property in land — the great desideratum of Asiatic society. From the Indian natives, . . . under English superintendence, a fresh class is springing, endowed with the requirements for government and imbued with English science. Steam has brought India into regular and rapid communication with Europe, has connected its chief ports with those of the whole south-eastern ocean and has revindicated it from the isolated position which was the prime law of its stagnation.”

(Karl Marx: ‘The Future Results of British Rule in India’, in: ibid., Volume 2; p. 658-59).

Soviet Marxist-Leninists, following Marx, applied Marx’s analysis to pre-revolutionary Russia to hold that Russia’s colonial expansion into Asia had a progressive aspect, so that local chieftains who resisted this expansion — like the famous Shamil* in the Caucasus — played a reactionary role.

Furthermore, genuine Marxist-Leninists hold that, under certain conditions, individuals may play a significant role in history. As Stalin said in his interview with the German writer Emil Ludwig* in December 1931:

“Marxism does not at all deny the role played by outstanding individuals….But…every new generation encounters definite conditions already existing….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 land themselves in the situation of Don Quixote. . . Marxism has never denied the role of heroes. On the contrary, it admits that they play a considerable role, but with the reservations I have just made.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Talk with the German Author Emil Ludwig, in: ‘Works’, Volume 13; Moscow; 1955; p. 107-08).

However, the historian Pokrovsky and his school took an opposite view. They held that Russian colonial expansion into Asia was wholly reactionary, and that local chieftains who resisted it played a progressive role:

“Pokrovsky’s main reason for denying the validity of the cultural mission (of imperial Russia in Asia — Ed.) was that he considered Russian cultural attainments to be of very low order, inferior in most cases to those of the conquered peoples. . . .Pokrovsky scoffed at the idea, regarding everyone who saw progressive results of tsarist conquests as a Great Russian chauvinist.”

(Lowell Tillett: ‘The Great Friendship: Soviet Historians on the Non-Russian Nationalities’; Chapel Hill (USA); 1969; p. 30, 360).

Also,

“… Pokrovsky ignored the role of individual personalities.”

(Konstantin P. Shteppa: ‘Russian Historians and the Soviet State’; New Brunswick (USA); 1962; p. 114).

With the defeat of open revisionism in the Soviet Union,

“… the halcyon days of Pokrovsky’s school faded completely away.”

(Anatole G. Mazour: ‘An Outline of Russian Historiography1; Berkeley (USA); 1939 (hereafter listed as ‘Anatole G. Mazour (1939); p. 91).

In 1931 Stalin intervened with a letter to the magazine ‘Proletarian Revolution’ protesting:

“… against the publication … of Slutsky’s anti-Party and semi-Trotskyist article, ‘The Bolsheviks on German Social-Democracy in the Period of its Pre-War Crisis.'”

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Some Questions concerning the History of Bolshevism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 13; Moscow; 1955; p. 86).

“A little more than two years after Stalin’s intervention, official attacks on Pokrovsky’s ideas began, leading to total demolition of his reputation.”

(John D. Barber; op. cit.; p. 142).

In May 1934 the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of People’s Commissars adopted a joint decree “Concerning the Teaching of History in the Schools of the USSR,” signed by Molotov and Stalin. This stated that:

“… the teaching of history in the schools of the USSR is not administered satisfactorily. . . . The students are given abstract definitions of social-economic structures, thus substituting obscure schemes for coherent narration of civic history.”

(CC, CPSU & USSR CPC: ‘Concerning the Teaching of History in the Schools of the USSR’, in: Anatole G. Mazour: ‘Modern Russian Historiography1; Princeton (USA); 1958 (hereafter listed as ‘Anatole G. Mazour (1958)’; p. 87).

The decree ordered new textbooks to be prepared for each field of history. It did not mention Pokrovsky by name,

“… but the implied criticism of him was plain.”

(John D. Barber: op. cit.; p. 139).

Eventually,

“… in January 1936, Pokrovsky’s influence was officially attacked.”

(John D. Barber: op. cit.; p. 139).

“Under Kaganovich’s leadership, and with Stalin’s support, a … campaign was launched against . . . M. N. Pokrovsky.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism1; London; 1971 (hereafter listed as ‘Roy A. Medvedev (1971)’; p. 143).

During 1936-37 the Society of Marxist Historians, the Institute of Red Professors and the Institute of History were all closed down. (John D. Barber: op. cit.. p. 139).

“Among the charges made against Pokrovsky was precisely that of having degraded personality to the status of a marionette controlled by the economic process.”

(Klaus Mehnert: ‘Stalin versus Marx: The Stalinist Historical Doctrine’; London; 1952; p. 76).

In November 1938 the Central Committee of the Party adopted a resolution

“… condemning Pokrovsky’s school for ‘anti-Marxist distortions’ and ‘vulgarisation'”

(John D. Barber: op. cit.; p. 140).

“Pokrovsky’s school…began to be associated with the teachings of the opposition. . . . Disciples of Pokrovsky were now proclaimed . , . ‘contemptible Trotskyist-Bukharinist agents of fascism’, who were trying to smuggle anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist ideas of Pokrovsky into historical literature.”

(Anatole G. Mazour (1939): op. cit.; p. 91).

“It is not accidental that the so-called school of Pokrovsky became a base for wrecking, as the NKVD has discovered; a base for enemies of the people, for Trotskyite-Bukharinite hirelings of fascism; for wreckers, spies and terrorists, who cleverly disguised themselves with the harmful anti-Leninist concepts of M. M. Pokrovsky.”

(‘Protiv istoricheskoi kontseptsy M. N. Pokrovskoyo’ , (Against the Historical Conceptions of M. N. Pokrovsky’); Moscow; 1939; p. 5).

This controversy in the field of historiography had important repercussions in fields of the arts — in the fields of historical fiction, historical drama and historical cinema.

The Struggle against Revisionism in the Cinema (1946)

In September 1946 the Central Committee of the CPSU adopted a resolution entitled “On the Film ‘The Great Life.'” The resolution criticised the film named in the resolution, but banned outright another film — “Ivan the Terrible,” Part Two, directed by Sergey Eisenstein — on the grounds of historical inaccuracy:

“Eisenstein . . . exhibited ignorance of historical facts by portraying the progressive army of the Oprichniki as a band of degenerates, similar to the American Ku Klux Klan, and Ivan the Terrible, a man of strong will and character, as weak and spineless, something like Hamlet.”

(Boris Schwarz: op. cit.; p. 208).

The ‘New Encylopaedia Britannica’ notes that

” . . . his nickname, ‘the Terrible’, is actually a mistranslation of the Russian word ‘grozny’, which more properly means ‘awe-inspiring’; Ivan was no more brutal than many of his contemporaries.”

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica: Macropaedia’, Volume 9; Chicago; 1983; p. 1.179).

In October 1946 Eisenstein admitted the justification of the criticism of his film:

“We forgot that the main consideration in art is its ideological content and historical truth. . . . In the second part of ‘Ivan the Terrible’ we permitted a distortion of historical facts which made the film ideologically worthless and vicious.”

(Sergey M. Eisenstein: Article in ‘Kultura i Zhizn’ (Culture and Life), 20 October 1946, in: George S. Counts & Nucia Lodge: ‘The Country of the Blind: The Soviet System of Mind Control’; Boston (USA); 1949; p. 147).

In February 1947 Eisenstein and the actor Nikolay Cherkasov* met Stalin, Molotov and Zhdanov to discuss the film, after which, Cherkasov relates,

“… we were then given full opportunity to correct the second part of ‘Ivan the Terrible’ . . . without any limits as to time or expense. S. M. Eisenstein was positively overjoyed at the prospect and thought about it unceasingly. . . . His premature death prevented him from undertaking the task.”

(Nikolay Cherkasov: Interview with Stalin, in: Sergey Eisenstein: ‘Ivan the Terrible’; London; 1989; p. 19-20).

However, after viewing the film in company with the director Vladimir Petrov*, they agreed that

“… there could be no question of correcting the material we had just seen; we would have to reshoot the whole of the second part”.

(Nikolay Cherkasov: ibid.; p. 20).

The Struggle against Revisionism in Music (1948)

In February 1948 the Central Committee of the CPSU adopted a resolution “On the Opera ‘The Great Friendship,'” which was sharply critical of the opera of that name by Vano Muradeli*, which had been given a private performance to the Central Committee at the New Year.

The decree declared:

“This opera is chaotic and inharmonious, full of continuous discords which hurt one’s ears.

The Central Committee considers that the failure of Muradeli’s opera is the result of his having followed the formalist road — a road that has been so pernicious to the work of Soviet composers.”

(CC Decree: ‘On the Opera “The Great Friendship”‘, in: Alexander Werth (1949): op. cit.; p. 29).

The decree asserted that the Union of Soviet Composers was dominated by a clique of composers who used their influence to foster formalism:

“The Central Committee has … in mind those composers who persistently adhere to the formalist and anti-people school — a school which has found its fullest expression in the work of composers like Comrades Shostakovich, Prokofiev*, Khachaturian*, Shebalin*, Popov*, Myaskovsky* and others. Their works are marked by formalist perversions, anti-democratic tendencies which are alien to the Soviet people and their artistic tastes. . . .

These composers have been indulging in the rotten ‘theory’ that the people are not sufficiently ‘grown up’ to appreciate their music. . . . This is a thoroughly individualist and anti-people theory, and it has encouraged some of our composers to retire into their own shell. . . .

The Organisational Committee of the Union of Soviet Composers became a weapon in the hands of the group of formalist composers and a source of formalist perversions.”

(CC Decree: ‘On the Opera “The Great Friendship'”, in: Alexander Werth (1949): op. cit.; p. 29,30,33).

Zhdanov had already made these points in January 1948 to a conference of music workers:

“Domination (of the Union of Soviet Composers — Ed.) was maintained in the interests of a trend.”

(Andrey A. Zhdanov, in: Alexander Werth (1949): ibid.; p. 57).

Zhdanov insisted that the music of every nation should be developed upon the folk music of that nation:

“The development of music must proceed … by enriching ‘academic’ music from folk music.”

(Andrey A. Zhdanov, in: Alexander Werth (1949): ibid. p. 61).

and cited with approval the saying of the Russian composer Mikhail Glinka*:

“The people create the music — we, the artists, merely arrange.”

(Mikhail I. Glinka, in: Alexander Werth (1949): ibid.; p. 60).

He accused the formalist composers of

“… a rejection of the classical heritage under the banner of innovation, a rejection of the idea of the popular origin of music and of service to the people, in order to gratify the individualistic emotions of a small group of select aesthetes.”

(Andrey A. Zhdanov, in: Alexander Werth (1949): ibid.; p. 57-58).

of imitating Western bourgeois music:

“A certain orientation towards contemporary Western bourgeois music . . represents one of the basic features of the formalist trend in Soviet music….

As regards contemporary bourgeois music, it would be useless to try and profit from it, since it is in a state of decay and degradation and the grovelling attitude towards it is ridiculous.”

(Andrey A. Zhdanov, in: Alexander Werth (1949): ibid.; : op. cit.; p. 61).

and of neglecting melody:

“Melodiousness is beginning to disappear. A passionate emphasis on rhythm at the expense of melody is characteristic of modern music. Yet we know that music can give pleasure only if it contains the essential elements in a specific harmonic combination. One-sided emphasis leads to a violation of the correct interaction of the various elements of music and cannot, of course, be accepted by the normal human ear.”

(Andrey A. Zhdanov, in: Alexander Werth (1948): ibid.; p. 72).

Shostakovich issued a statement expressing his agreement with and gratitude for the Party’s criticism:

“Certain negative characteristics pertaining to my musical thought \ prevented me from making the turn. … I again deviated in the direction of formalism, and began to speak a language incomprehensible to the people. … I know that the Party is right. … I am deeply grateful . . . for all the criticism contained in the Resolution.”

(Dmitry Shostakovich: Statement, in: Boris Schwarz: op. cit.; p. 244).

Muradeli had already admitted:

“Comrades, in the name of the Party and the Government, Andrey Aleksandrovich (Zhdanov — Ed.) rightly and sharply criticised my opera ‘The Great Friendship’….

As a man, as a citizen and as a Communist, I must say that I agree with what he said.”

(Vano Muradeli, in: Alexander Werth (1949): op. cit.; p. 51).

while Prokofiev declared;

“However painful this may be to many composers, including myself, I welcome the Decree, which creates conditions for restoring the health of Soviet music. The Decree is valuable in having demonstrated how alien formalism is to the Soviet peoples.”

(Sergey S. Prokofiev: Statement, in: Alexander Werth (1971): op. cit.; p. 373).

In April 1948 a new directorate of the Union of Soviet Composers was elected, with the composer Tikhon Khrennikov* as General Secretary.

STALIN AND THE ARTS

Stalin’s concern for art and artists led him frequently to offer his personal assistance to artists, and to intervene where he became aware that officials were acting in reactionary or stupid ways.

The Case of Ilya Ehrenburg (1941)

After the signing in 1939 of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact, Soviet censorship officials prohibited any mention in literature of the words ‘Fascism or “Nazism.” In April 1941 the publication of the second part of the novel ‘The Fall of Paris’ by Ilya Ehrenburg* was held up for this reason. Ehrenburg describes what occurred:

“On 24th April . . . a telephone call came from Stalin’s secretariat. I was told to dial a certain number: ‘Comrade Stalin wishes to speak to you’….

Stalin said that he had read the beginning of my novel and found it interesting; he wanted to send me a manuscript — a translation of Andre Simon’s book — which might be useful to me. …

Stalin asked me whether I intended to denounce the German Fascists. I said that the last part of the novel, on which I was now working, dealt with . . . the invasion of France by the Nazis, … I added that I was afraid the third part would not be passed, for I was not allowed to use the word ‘Fascists’ even where the French were concerned. Stalin said jocularly: ‘Just go on writing; you and I will try to push the third part through.'”

(Ilya Ehrenburg: ‘Men, Years — Life’, Volume 4: ‘Eve of War: 1933-1941’; London; 1963; p. 274-75).

Stalin’s Policy towards Openly Anti-Socialist Artists

Stalin stood firmly on the Marxist-Leninist principle that the maintenance of the dictatorship of the proletariat was essential for the construction of socialism, so that the exhibition and circulation of anti-socialist art must be prohibited by law.

Naturally, anti-socialist artists could not but regard this prohibition as “persecution.” The playwright Mikhail Bulgakov* described it as

” … tantamount to being buried alive.”

(Julie A. E. Curtis: ‘Manuscripts don’t burn: Mikhail Bulgakov; A Life in Letters and Diaries’; London; 1991; p. 109).

and the writer Evgeny Zamyatin* as his

“… death sentence … as a writer.”

(Evgeny. Zamyatin, in: Alex M. Shane: ‘The Life and Works of Evgeny Zamyatin’; Berkeley (USA); 1968; p. 78).

In fact, Stalin’s policy towards openly anti-socialist artists was to try to assist them, where possible, to utilise their artistic talents in ways that would not be harmful to socialist society. For example, anti-socialist authors who were linguistically qualified were assisted to work as translators, rendering the classics of world literature into Russian (as in the case of Boris Pasternak); anti-socialist writers who were not so qualified were permitted, if they so wished, to go abroad (as in the case of Evgeny Zamyatin); anti-socialist playwrights were assisted to work in the theatre as directors (as in the case of Mikhail Bulgakov).

The Case of Marina Tsvetaeva

So widespread is the myth of the “persecution” of artists in the time of Stalin that even when an artist committed suicide for what were clearly domestic or personal reasons — as in the case of the poet Marina Tsvetaeva* in August 1941 — efforts were made by anti-socialist propagandists to attribute the tragedy to “persecution.”

It is clear that Tsvetaeva’s wartime evacuation to the Tartar Republic was at her own request:

“She had already formed the idea of going off to the Tartar region.”

(Elaine Feinstein: ‘A Captive Lion: The Life of Marina Tsvetaeva’; London; 1987; p. 266).

and that she did not lack the material necessities of life:

“She was not without material resources.”

(Elaine Feinstein: ibid.; p. 269).

Her biographers place the blame for the despair that led to her suicide on the attitude of her highly self-centred son:

“It is hard to evaluate the mood of Tsvetaeva on the last day of her life because the key is most likely in her relationship with her son and we don’t know what went on between them in her last days. Dmitry Sezeman, who was Georgy Efron’s (Tsvetaeva’s son — Ed.) friend, describes him as monstrously egotistical, with no concern whatsoever for anyone’s feelings. . . . The Bredelshchikovs (Tsvetaeva’s landlords — Ed.) reported hearing violent arguments between mother and son in French, and his constant reproaches and demands for luxuries she could not provide.”

(Simon Karlinsky: ‘Marina Tsvetaeva: The Woman, her World and her Poetry’; Cambridge; 1985; p. 244).

“It was no longer possible to mistake the hostility that Mur (her son Georgy — Ed.), his face sullen, felt for her. On Saturday, 30 August, he could be heard quarrelling violently with her. He reproached her for a lifetime of irresponsibility.”

(Elaine Feinstein: op. cit.; p. 269).

Miscarriages of Justice

During Stalin’s lifetime there were cases where artists who were in no way involved with counter-revolutionary activity were wrongly sentenced for such crimes. The Soviet revisionist leader Nikita Khrushchev* blames Stalin for these miscarriages of justice, but there is a contradiction in this charge. For Khrushchov admits that

“… all this which we have discussed was done during Stalin’s lifetime under his leadership and with his concurrence; here Stalin was convinced that this was necessary for the defence of the interests of the working classes against the plotting of enemies and against the attack of the imperialist camp.”

(Nikita S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech to 20th Congress, CPSU:, in: Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.); ‘The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism’; New York; 1956; p. 85).

But it is impossible to accept the absurd idea that Stalin could believe that the defence of socialism would be assisted by the fabrication of false charges against innocent persons. Since such miscarriages of justice could not fail to arouse the hostility of honest people who became aware of the truth, so weakening socialist society, the only people to benefit from them would be enemies of socialism.

To qualify as a candidate for such a frame-up, an artist had to be innocent of actual links with the counter-revolutionary conspiracy and be regarded as highly unlikely to make such links in the future — for the conspiracy aimed to protect such people as far as was possible. He had, however, to have had a ‘suspicious’ history that would lend at least some degree of credibility to charges of counter-revolutionary activity — for example, a former, terminated association with the Opposition, the production of a work of art expressing hostility to Stalin (this serving particularly that aspect of the conspiracy which aimed to create, and later denounce, a “cult of personality” around Stalin), etc.

Such miscarriages of justice occurred especially during the period from 1934 to 1938, when concealed revisionists were in control of the security forces, as in the cases of the writers Boris Pilnyak* and Osip Mandelshtam*. For obvious reasons, these fabricated cases — unlike the genuine treason cases of the 1930s — were invariably “tried” in camera.

The Case of Boris Pilnyak

The writer Boris Pilnyak was openly anti-socialist. He regarded the leaders of the Soviet Union

“…as barbarians who had let loose the age-old forces of anarchy upon the country.”

(Robert Payne: Introduction to: Boris Pilnyak: ‘The Tale of the Unextinguished Moon and Other Stories;’; New York; 1967; p. xv).

“His true political convictions are best described as unstable, with a strong undercurrent of anti-Soviet feelings. . . .He always remained antagonistic towards the Party and the government,. . . Pilnyak’s apoliticism sprang directly from his antagonism towards the Soviet regime.”

(Vera T. Reck; op. cit.; p. 95, 102, 103).

In October 1925 Milhail Frunze*, the Soviet People’s Commissar of Defence, died in hospital after abdominal surgery, and in May 1926 the literary journal ‘Novy Mir’ (New World) published a story by Boris Pilnyak entitled “The Tale of the Unextinguished Moon”:

“The boldest attempt of the Opposition to use the open press was the publication in the literary journal ‘New World’ of ‘The Tale of the Unextinguished Moon’… was a barely disguised version of the death on 21 October 1926 of Trotsky’s successor in the post of Commissar of Defence, Frunze. He had been operated on for a gastric complaint, began to recover, then died….The rumours that Stalin had murdered Frunze obviously served the Opposition. One plausible theory is that Karl Radek, a friend of Trotsky who had lost his membership in the Central Committee in 1924, inspired the novelist….The offending issue of the journal was withdrawn and apologies for such ‘error’ and ‘slander’, which ‘could play into the hands of the small-minded counter-revolutionary’, were forthcoming from both editors who were involved and the author.”

(Robert H. McNeal: op. cit.; p. 102-03).

“Radek was probably one of Pilnyak’s sources of rumours that surrounded the death of Frunze. Almost certainly these rumours first originated among Stalin’s enemies in the Kremlin.”

(Vera T. Reck: op. cit.; p. 41).

Pilnyak’s disclaiming preface (dated January 1926) reads:

“The plot of this story suggests the idea that the occasion and the material for writing it was provided by the death of M. V. Frunze, I do not know the real circumstances of his death, and they are not very important for me, since reportage about the death of the People’s Commissar for Defence was no part of the purpose of my story. I consider it necessary to inform the reader of all this so that the reader may not look in it for genuine facts and living persons.”

(Boris Pilnyak: Disclaimer, in: Edward H. Carr: ‘Pilnyak and the Death of Frunze’, in: ‘Soviet Studies’, No. 2, 1958; p. 162).

Six months later (in November 1926) the journal ‘Novy Mir’ carried a letter from Pilnyak:

“I never expected that this tale would play into the hands of the small-minded counter-revolutionary and would be used in a disgusting way to harm the Party; I did not for a single moment imagine that I was writing a malicious slander, I now see that I committed grievous errors not perceived by me when I was writing; I now know that much writen by me in the tale consists of malicious invention”.

(Boris Pilnyak: Letter to ‘Novy Mir’, (25 November 1926), in: Edward H. Carr: ibid.; p. 163-64).

It was impossible to take these disclaimers seriously in view of the close and detailed resemblance between the real Frunze and Pilnyak’s “fictitious” “Gavrilov”:

“Gavrilov’s personal history — lightly sketched in by Pilnyak — owes nearly everything to Frunze’s biography.”

(Vera T. Reck: op. cit.; p. 24).

Pilnyak’s biographer, although hostile to Stalin, feels that rumours of foul play in connection Frunze’s death can be dismissed as groundless:

“The question ‘was it murder?’ can probably be answered ‘No’…Stalin highly esteemed Frunze….The physicians were probably blameless in the death of the Commissar.”

(Vera T. Reck: op. cit. p. 17, 18, 19).

Although Pilnyak’s story was clearly a criminal libel under Soviet law, no action was taken against its author:

“Nothing happened at that time to Pilnyak or to the editor. . . . Stalin chose not to react to a libel which . . . would have provided ample grounds for criminal proceedings against its author and publisher.”

(Adam B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and his Era’; London, 1989; p. 260-261).

“Pilnyak went unpunished. He continued to write and to publish his works, and from time to time to travel abroad.”

(Robert Payne: Introduction to: Boris Pilnyak (1967): op. cit.; p. xviii).

Indeed, when there was a delay in issuing him with an exit permit for one of his foreign trips, it was Stalin who intervened to assist him in obtaining it:

“Pilnyak . . . wrote to Khozain, the Boss himself (Stalin — Eds.) asking him if there was any reasons why he should not be granted a visa. A reply came from Stalin to the effect that, after consulting his colleagues, he saw no reason why a visa should not be granted.”

(Vera T. Reck” op. cit. p. 182).

It is clear that Pilnyak had all the necessary qualifications to be a candidate for ‘frame-up’ by the revisionist conspirators:

“He (Pilnyak — Ed.) had made two trips to the Far East, spent five months in the United States, travelled through much of Europe, and ventured into the Middle East. While in Japan the first time, he was a ‘correspondent’ for ‘Asahi Shimbun’, a giant among Japanese dailies. . . . He had had contacts with the Japanese-Russian Literary Arts Society . . . founded in 1925. His trip to the United States had been sponsored and paid for, in part, by the Hearst’s ‘International Cosmopolitan’. . .For a time Pilnyak was under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a writer and lived in Southern California. He had made many friends in the United States.”

(Vera T. Reck: op. cit.; p. 3-4).

Accordingly, the revisionist conspirators arranged that Pilnyak should be arrested and

“… charged with espionage for Japan.”

(Jeanne Vronskaya & Vladimir Chuguev: op. cit. p. 402).

He was:

“… shot soon afterwards in 1937.”

(Vera T. Reck: op. cit.; p. 2).

“Pilnyak . . . was arrested and shot in 1937.”

(Robert H. McNeal: op. cit.; p. 103).

The Case of Osip Mandelshtam

Another artist who, like Pilnyak, was the victim of a revisionist frame-up was the poet Osip Mandelshtam.

In April 1934 Mandelshtam had recited to presumed friends a slanderous poem he had written about the leaders of the Party, and Stalin in particular, accusing them of being “murderers”:

“And every killing is a treat for the broad chested Ossete.”

(Osip Mandelstam: Poem, in: Olga Ivinskaya: ‘A Captive of Time: My Years with Pasternak’; London; 1978; p. 65).

Under Soviet law, this could have been interpreted as criminal libel:

“Under Article 161 of the Penal Code, libel, i.e., the spreading of false information about another person, is punishable by compulsory labour for a term of up to 6 months or a fine of up to 500 roubles.”

(David Zaslavsky: op. cit. p. 40).

However, it was a minor offence that honest and sensible people would have felt it best to ignore.

But, unfortunately for Mandelshtam, at this time the Soviet security forces were not under the control of honest and sensible people. The Marxist-Leninist Commissar of Internal Affairs, Vyacheslav Menszhinsky*, had been for some time

” . . .no longer responsible, as he was very ill and was now merely the nominal head of OGPU.”

(Boris Levytsky: ‘The Uses of Terror: The Soviet Secret Service: 1917-1970’; London; 1971; p. 72-73).

The man ultimately responsible for security was thus the Deputy Commissar, Genrikh Yagoda, who, as we have seen, was a concealed revisionist. In these circumstances, Mandelshtam was arrested. However, Stalin personally intervened:

“So great was his respect for poetic talent that he dealt personally with the case of Osip Mandelshtam,…who in 1934 had rashly recited to presumed friends a short poem that referred to Stalin as ‘the Kremlin mountaineer’, with fingers ‘fat as worms’, a killer surrounded by ‘half-men’. Stalin phoned Boris Pasternak … to ask if the culprit was really a genius. . . . Stalin at one point said that Mandelshtam would be ‘all right.'”

(Robert H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 230).

“Stalin began by telling Pasternak that Mandelshtam’s case had been reviewed and that everything would be all right. This was followed by a strange reproach: why hadn’t Pasternak approached the writers’ organisations or him (Stalin) and why hadn’t he tried to do something for Mandelshtam? ‘If I were a poet and a poet friend of mine were in trouble, I would do anything to help him.”

(Nadezhda Mandelshtam: ‘Hope against Hope: A Memoir’; London; 1971; p. 140).

As a result of Stalin’s intervention,

“… Mandelshtam . . . was released from arrest.”

(Robert H. McNeal: ibid.; p. 230).

and

“… was given a ‘minus twelve’ exile, i.e., he could reside in’ any but twelve major urban centres.”

(Adam B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era;’; London; 1989; p.391).

The Mandelshtams chose to live in Voronezh until Mandelshtam’s sentence of exile expired in May 1938, although he suffered a heart attack in the autumn of 1937. But in the month before his release (in April 1938) a new order for Mandelshtam’s arrest had been issued. (Clarence Brown: ‘Mandelstam’; Cambridge; 1973; p. 133).

As a result, in August 1938 Mandelshtam was

“… sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for counter­revolutionary activity.”

(Clarence Brown: ibid. p. 133).

In December 1938 he died of heart failure in the

“… perfectly decent and clean two-storey hospital”

(Nadezhda Mandelshtam: op. cit. p. 396),

of a transit camp in Vladivostok.

His widow was told by the novelist Aleksandr Fadayev* that Mandelshtam’s sentence had been ordered by the concealed revisionist Andrey Andreyev:

“Fadayev during the war whispered to me that it was Andreyev who had signed M’s sentence.”

(Nadezhda Mandelshtam: ibid.; p. 355),

“Mme. Mandelshtam records the inside information that it was Andreyev who ordered the second and fatal imprisonment of her husband.”

(Adam B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 439).

The Case of Milkail Bulgakov

Let us return now to the question of Stalin’s policy towards anti-socialist artists.

The first novel of Mikhail Bulgakov, ‘The White Guard” (1921-22), adapted for the stage in 1926 as ‘The Days of the Turbins,” presented the. counter­revolutionary Whites as heroes:

“It describes the war from the White side. Its central characters, the Turbin brothers, are members of the White Guard. . . .Bulgakov’s treatment of the Whites as patriots and idealists, his refusal to glamorise the revolutionary proletariat, and the playing on the legendary opening night of the old Russian national anthem …”

(John Wakeman (Ed.): ‘World Authors; 1950-1970’; New York; 1975; p. 239).

aroused

“… a storm of controversy.”

(John Wakeman (Ed.): ibid.; p. 239).

Despite this, in July 1929 Stalin wrote to the dramatist Vladimir Bill-Belotserkovsky* to defend the play in that it was objectively progressive in spite of the author’s subjective intentions:

“‘Days of the Turbins’ … is not such a bad play, because it does more good than harm. Don’t forget that the chief impression it leaves with the spectator is one that is favourable to the Bolsheviks, ‘If even such people as the Turbins are compelled to lay down their arms and submit to the will of the people because they realise that their cause is definitely lost, then the Bolsheviks must be invincible and there is nothing to be done about it. ‘Days of the Turbins’ is a demonstration of the all-conquering power of Bolshevism. Of course, the author is altogether ‘innocent1 of this demonstration. But that is not our affair. “

(Josef V. Stalin: Reply to Bill-Belotserkovsky (February 1929), in: ‘Works’, Volume 11: Moscow; 1954; p. 343).

In fact,

“… Stalin was evidently very fond of the play (Bulgakov’s ‘The Days of the Turbins’ — Ed.); the Arts Council’s records indicate that he went to see it no fewer than 15 times.”

(Julie A. E. Curtis: op. cit.; p.70).

However, the revisionists in influential positions in the arts seized upon another passage in Stalin’s letter —

“Why are Bulgakov’s plays staged so often? Presumably because we have not enough of our own plays suitable for staging.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Reply to Bill-Belotserkovsky (February 1929), in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; op. cit.; p. 342-33).

— to force the withdrawal of all Bulgakov’s plays from production.

So, in spite of Stalin’s favourable comments on ‘The Days of the Turbins,”

“… the actual effect of his February 1929 letter was to put an end to all the productions of Bulgakov’s works in Moscow. . . . These developments completed the elimination of Bulgakov from the Soviet stage.”

(Julie A. E. Curtis: op. cit.; p. 70-71).

In the spring of 1930 Bulgakov completed a new play “Moliere,” which used historical events to make an attack on the principle of censorship. It depicted

“. . . the relationship . . . between Moliere and Louis XIV, Bulgakov’s portrayal of which was naturally read by his contemporaries as suggesting analogies to the modern world.”

(Julie A. E. Curtis: ibid.; p. 72).

In March 1930,

” … the Repertory Committee informed him that the play would not be licensed for performance.”

(Julie A. E. Curtis: op. cit.; p. 72).

Later the same month he wrote a letter to the Soviet Government:

“After the banning of all my works, I begin to hear voices among many citizens of my acquaintance, all giving me one and the same piece of advice: that I should write a ‘Communist play’ . . . and that quite apart from that I should address to the Government of the USSR a penitential letter, which should contain a renunciation of my previous opinions, as expressed in my literary works, and assurances that henceforth I was going to work as a fellow-travelling writer loyal to the idea of Communism. . I did not follow that advice. I would scarcely have succeeded in appearing in a favourable light in the eyes of the Government of the USSR by writing a mendacious letter, which would have represented a sordid and indeed naive political somersault. . . .

The entire press of the USSR, together with all the institutions to whom control of the repertory has been entrusted, throughout all the years of my literary career, has unanimously and with EXTRAORDINARY FURY demonstrated that the works of Mikhail Bulgakov cannot exist in the USSR.

I declare that the Soviet press is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. . . .

For me, not being allowed to write is tantamount to being buried alive.

I REQUEST THAT THE SOVIET GOVERNMENT GIVE ORDERS FOR ME TO LEAVE THE TERRITORY OF THE USSR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, TOGETHER WITH MY WIFE LYUBOV YEVGENYEVNA BULKAKOVA. . . .

If, on the other hand, . . . I am to be condemned to lifelong silence in the USSR, then I would request the Soviet Government to give me a job for which I am qualified and to second me to some theatre to work as a director on their staff.”

(Mikhail A. Bulgakov: Letter to Soviet Government (28 March 1930), in: Julie A. E. Curtis: op. cit.; p. 103-04, 105, 109).

Three weeks later (on 18 April 1930), Stalin telephoned Bulgakov at his home:

“Stalin’s first question was whether Bulgakov really wanted to go abroad. Bulgakov, somewhat stunned and unprepared, replied: ‘I have thought a great deal recently about the question of whether a Russian writer can live outside his homeland. And it seems to me he can’t’. . . Stalin . . . next asked him where he would like to work — what about the Moscow Arts Theatre? Bulgakov explained that he had asked about that and had been refused, at which Stalin suggested that he should try applying again. . . .Thirdly, Stalin proposed that he and Bulgakov should meet some time and have a talk. . . .

Stalin’s telephone call . . . was immediately followed by the Moscow Arts Theatre’s taking Bulgakov on its staff as an assistant director.”

(Julie A. E. Curtis: ibid.,; p. 111-12, 113).

The Case of Evgeny Zamyatin

In June 1931 the openly anti-socialist writer Evgeny Zamyatin, who had no experience in translation, wrote to Stalin asking for his intercession to be allowed to go abroad:

“I ask to be permitted to go abroad with my wife . , . with the right to return as soon as it becomes possible to serve the great ideas in literature without fawning on small people. . . I do not wish to conceal that the fundamental reason for my request to go abroad together with my wife is … the death sentence which has been passed on me here as writer.”

(Evgeny Zarayatin: Letter to Josef V. Stalin (June 1931), in: Alex M. Shane: ‘The Life and Works of Evgeny Zamyatin’; Berkeley (USA); 1968; p. 78).

As a result of Stalin’s intervention,

“… Zamyatin and his wife were granted an exit permit and were allowed to go abroad. . . .In November 1931 … he went abroad with the consent of Stalin himself…During his years abroad Zamyatin did not publicly attack the Soviet regime.”

(Alex M. Shane: ibid. p. 78-79, i, 82).

In March 1937

“… Evgeny Zamyatin died in self-imposed exile in Paris”.

(Alex M. Shane: ibid.; p. i).

CONCLUSION

The principles of Marxist-Leninist aesthetics elaborated by Zhdanov on the basis of theses put forward by Stalin have permanent importance for all societies in the world. Stalin fought to maintain socialist realism as the principled method of Soviet art.

Even Alexander Werth felt compelled to admit:

“There is an incontrovertible basis of truth in the Russian case. . . . The West cannot afford to ignore some of its own weaknesses, and it is not enough to sneer at Zhdanov’s theses and to pretend that all is well with Western art and Western literature.”

(Alexander Werth (1949): op. cit.; p. 16).

It is clear that the picture commonly drawn in anti-socialist writings, of artists in the time of Stalin suffering “persecution” because of their artistic creations, is based only on presenting the non-publication and non-circulation of anti-socialist art, and constructive criticism of other art, as “persecution.” In fact, the artists most strongly criticised — such as the composers Prokofiev and Shostakovich and the writers Akhmatova, Bulgakov, Pasternak and Zoschchenko — all died peacefully in their beds.

The first case in the Soviet Union of criminal proceedings against artists in connection with their work occurred long after Stalin’s death — in 1966, in the time of the revisionist Leonid Brezhnev*, when Audrey Sinyavsky* and Yuli Daniel* faced charges in connection with their writings. The trial of Sinyavsky and Daniel

“… was unique in Russian history. Neither under the tsars nor . . . under Stalin had ever there ever been any proceedings in which the main corpus delicti consisted of the actual contents of works of imaginative literature.”

(Max Hayward: ‘Writers in Russia: 1917-1978’; London; 1983; p. 278).

It was

“… unprecedented in the annals of not only Russian but world literature.”

(Leopold Labedz & Max Hayward (Eds,): ‘On Trial: The Case of Sinyavsky (Tertz) and Daniel (Arzhak)’; London; 1967; p. 17).

“The Sinyavsky-Daniel case . . . was unprecedented in modern Soviet history. . . . None (no intellectual — Ed.) had ever before been held criminally responsible for the political effects of their literary works.”

(Frances C. Locher (Ed.); ‘Contemporary Authors’, Volumes 85-88; Detroit; 1980; p. 550).

“A large part of the attention attracted by the Sinyavsky-Daniel case was due … to its precedent-setting nature.”

(Hal May (Ed.): ‘Contemporary Authors’, Volume 116; Detroit; 1986; p, 100).

In fact, we have seen that Stalin had respect for artists who were honestly anti-socialist, did not regard them as significantly dangerous to socialism, and on many recorded occasions assisted them in ways that would not be harmful to socialist society.

The people for whom he had no respect and whom he regarded as a serious danger to socialism were the concealed enemies of socialism who posed as Marxist-Leninists in order to attain positions of influence.

THE HISTORY OF THE LAST FORTY YEARS HAS SHOWN THE CORRECTNESS OF STALIN’S VIEW.

(This is an extended and annotated version of a lecture given by Bill Bland to the Stalin Society in London in May 1993).

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

AKHMATOVA, Anna A., Soviet poet (1889-1966).

ANDREYEV, Andrey A., Soviet revisionist politician (1895-1971); USSR Commissar of Transport (1931-35); Member, Political Bureau/Presidium, CPSU (193252, 1956-71); USSR Commissar of Agriculture (1943-46); USSR Deputy Premier (1945-53); Adviser to Presidium of Supreme Soviet (1962-71);

ARAGON, Louis, French novelist and poet (1897-1982).

AVERBAKH, Leopold L., Soviet literary critic (1903-38).

BECKETT, Samuel, Irish-born playwright (1906-89); in Paris (1937-89); awarded Nobel Prize for Literature (1969).

BELLINI, Giovanni, Venetian Renaissance painter (cl420-1516).

BILL-BELOTSERKOVSKY, Vladimir N., Soviet dramatist (1884-1970).

BOGDANOV, Aleksandr A., Soviet philosopher, literary critic and writer (1873-1928).

BREZHNEV, Leonid, Soviet revisionist politician (1906-82); Member, Secretariat, CPSU (1952-53, 1956-60, 1963-82); Member, Politburo/Presidium, CPSU (1957-82); lst. Secretary, CPSU (1964-66); General Secretary, CPSU (1966-82); USSR President (1977-82).

BRIK, Lillya: Russian-born French painter and sculptor (1891-1978).

BRIK, Osip M., Russian-born French critic and playwright (1888-1945).

BROWN, Edward J., American Slavist (1909- ); Associate Professor (1953-55), Professor (1955-65), of Russian, University of Indiana (USA); Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature, Brown University (USA) (1969

BUKHARIN, Nicolay I., Soviet revisionist politician (1888-1938); Chairman, Comintern (1926-29); Member, Politburo (1924-29); arrested (1937); admitted to treason at public trial and executed (1938).

BULGAKOV, Mikhail A., Soviet writer (1891-1940).

‘CARAVAGGIO’ (= Michelangelo Merisi), Italian Renaissance painter (1573-1610).

CHERKASOV, Nicolay K., Soviet film actor (1903-66).

CROMWELL, Oliver, British bourgeois revolutionary soldier and statesman (15991658).

DALI, Salvador, Spanish-born painter (1904-89); to France , then to USA (1940); returned to Spain (1955) and became supporter of Franco regime.

DANIEL, Yuli M. (= ‘ARZHOV, Nikolay”), Soviet poet (1925-88); imprisoned (1966); released (1970).

EASTMAN, Max, American journalist, author and editor (1883-1969).

EHRENBURG, Ilya G., Soviet writer (1891-1967); in France (1921-28); in Germany (1924-28); in Soviet Union (1928-36); in Spain (1936-39); in France (1939-40); in Soviet Union (1940-67).

EISENSTEIN, Sergey M., Soviet film director (1898-1948).,

ERMOLAEV, Herman S., Russian-born American lecturer (1924- instructor (1959-60), assistant professor (1960-66), associate professor (1966-67), professor (1970- ), of Russian Literature, Princeton University.

‘FADAYEV (= BULYGA), Aleksandr A., Soviet novelist (1901-56); committed suicide (1956).

FRAGONARD, Jean-Honore, French painter and engraver (1732-1806).

FRUNZE, Mikhail V., Soviet Marxist-Leninist military officer and politician (1885-1925); Chief of Staff and USSR Commissar of Defence (1924-25).

GLINKA, Mikhail I., Russian composer (1804-57).

GORKY, Maksim’ (= PESHKOV, Aleksey M.) Soviet writer (1868-1936); to Italy (1924); returned to Soviet Union (1931).

HABA, Alois, Czech atonal composer (1893-1973).

HEYWORTH, Peter L. F., American-born British music critic (1921-91); music critic, ‘Times Educational Supplement’ (1950-55), ‘Observer’ (1955-77).

HOOCH, Pieter de, Dutch painter (1629-1685).

KAGANOVICH, Lazar M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1893-1991); USSR Commissar for Oil Industry (1939-40); Member, State Defence Committee (1941-44); USSR Minister of Building Materials Industry (1946-47, 195657); Ist Secretary, CP Ukraine (1953-55); dismissed from all posts by revisionists (1956).

KALININ, Mikhail I., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1875-1946); Soviet Russia, President (1919-38), USSR (1938-46); Member, Political Bureau/Presidium, CPSU (1925-46).

KAMENEV, Lev B., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Member of Politburo (1919-25); Ambassador to Italy (1926-27); arrested (1935); admitted to treason at his public trial and executed (1936).

KAUFMAN, George S., American playwright (1880-1961).

KHACHATURIAN, Aram I., Soviet composer (1903-78).

KHRENNIKOV, Tikhon N., Soviet composer (1913- );

KHRUSHCHEV, Nikita S.,, Soviet revisionist politician (1894-1971) Member Political Bureau, CPSU (1939-64); 1st Secretary, CPSU (1953-64); USSR Premier (1958-64).

KIROV, Sergey M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1886-1934); 1st Secretary, CPSU, Leningrad (1926-34); Member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1934); murdered by revisionists (1934).

KOSIOR, Stanislav V., Soviet revisionist politician (1889-1939); Member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1930-38); Chairman, USSR State Planning Committee (1934-35).

KRYUKOV, Fedor D., Russian (Cossack) author (1870-1920).

KUIBYSHEV, Valerian V., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1888-1935); Chairman, USSR State Planning Committee (1930-35); USSR Deputy Premier (1930-35); murdered by revisionists (1935).

LELY, Peter, German-born British painter (1618-81).

LESKOV, Nikolay S., Russian writer (1831-95).

LEVIN, Dan, Russian-born American journalist (1914- )

LUDWIG, Emil, German playwright and biographer (1881-1948).

MANDELSHTAM, Osip E., Polish-born Soviet poet (1891-1938); victim of charges fabricated by revisionists and died in imprisonment (1938).

MARGARITO OF AREZZO, Italian painter (fl. 1262).

MARSHALL, Herbert, Brtish writer and translator (1906-91).

MAUGHAM, W. Somerset, British playwright and novelist (1874-1965).

MAYAKOVSKY, Vladimir V., Soviet poet (1893-1930).

MAZOUR, Anatole G., Russian-born American historian (1900- ); Professor of Russian history (1946-66), Professor Emeritus (1966- Stanford University.

MEDVEDEV, Roy A., Soviet historian (1925- )

MELLY, George, British singer, musician, journalist and music critic (1926 – )

MENZHINSKY, Vyacheslav R., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1874-1934); Deputy Chairman, OGPU (1926-34); Chairman, OGPU (192-34); murdered by revisionists (1934).

MOLOTOV, Vyacheslav M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1890-1896); USSR Premier (1930-41); USSR Deputy Premier (1941-57); USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs (1941-49, 1943-56); USSR Ambassador to Mongolia (195760); USSR Representative, International Atomic Agency (1960-62); dismissed from all posts and expelled from Party by revisionists (1962).

MUCHNIC, Helen L., Russian-born American Slavist (1903- ); Professor of Russian (1947-69). Professor Emeritus (1969- ), Smith College ((USA).

MURADELI, Vano I., Soviet composer (1908-70).

MYASKOVSKY, Nicolay Y., Soviet composer (1881-1950).

ORDZHONIKIDZE. Grigory K., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1886-1937); Member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1930-37); USSR Commissar for Heavy Industry (1932-37); committed suicide (1937).

PASTERNAK, Boris L., Soviet poet and novelist (1890-1960); awarded Nobel Prize for Literature for novel ‘Dr. Zhivago’ (1958).

PETROV, Vladimir M., Soviet film director (1896-1966).

PICASSO, Pablo, Spanish painter (1881-1973); worked in Paris (1901-73); founder of Cubism.

‘PILNYAK’ (= VOGAU), Boris A., Soviet novelist (1894-1937); victim of charges fabricated by revisionists; died in imprisonment (1937).

POKROVSKY, Mikhail N., Soviet historian (1868-1932).

POPOV, Gavril N., Soviet pianist and composer (1904-72).

PROKOFIEV, Sergey S., Soviet composer (1891-1953).

RADEK, Karl B., Soviet revisionist politician (1885-1939); expelled from CPSU (1927); readmitted (1930); re-expelled (1937); tried and imprisoned (1937); died in prison (1937).

RODOV, Semyon A., Soviet literary critic (1893-1968).

RYKOV, Aleksey I., Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1938); Member, Politburo (1923); USSR Premier (1924-29); USSR Commissar for Posts and Telegraphs (1931-36); expelled from Party, arrested (1937); convicted of treason,and executed (1938).

SAROYAN, William, American playwright (1908-81).

SCHWARZ, Boris, Russian-born American violinist, conductor and musicologist (1906-83); assistant professor (1947-57), associate professor (1957-58), professor of music (1958-70), City University of New York.

SERAFIMOVICH, Aleksandr, Soviet writer and journalist (1863-1949).

SHAMIL, Caucasian military and religious leader (1798?-1871); Imam of Dagestan (1834-59).

SHEBALIN, Vissarion Y., Soviet composer (1913-63).

SHKLOVSKY, Viktor B., Soviet literary critic (1883-1984).

SHOLOKHOV, Mikhail A., Soviet novelist and journalist (1905-84).

SHOSTAKOVICH, Dmitry D., Soviet composer (1906-75).

SINYAVSKY, Andrey D. (= ‘TERTZ, Abram’) Soviet writer (1925- ); Lecturer, Russian literature, Moscow University (1952-66); imprisoned (1966); released (1971); Professor of Slavic Studies, Sorbonne (1973- ).

SOLZHENITSYN, Aleksandr I., Soviet physicist and author (1918- ); imprisoned for attempting to form rival political party to Communist Party (194553); expelled from Union of Soviet Writers (1969); awarded Nobel Prize for Literature (1970); deported from USSR (1974); to Western Europe, then (1979) to USA.

STEPHENSON, George, British inventor (1781-1848),

STETSKY, Aleksey I., Soviet revisionist politician (1896-1938); died in prison (1838).

STOLYPIN, Pyotr A., Russian politican (1862-1911).

SYRTSOV, Sergey I., Soviet journalist and politician (1893-1938); RSFSR Premier (1929-30); arrested (1938); died in prison (1938).

THATCHER, Margaret H., British Conservative politician (1925- ); Secretary of State for Education and Science (1970-74); Leader of Conservative Party (1975-90); Premier (1979-90).

THORLBY. Anthony K., British lecturer (1928- ); assistant lecturer (1956-57), lecturer in German (1957-61), University College of Swansea; lecturer in German, University of Sussex (1961-63); Reader in Comparative Literature (1963-66), Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Sussex (1966

TOMSKY, Mikhail P., Soviet trade union leader (1880-1930); committed suicide to evade arrest (1936).

TRIOLET, Elsa: Russian-born French novelist and translator (1896-1970).

TROTSKY, Lev D., Soviet revisionist politician (1879-1940); Commissar of Foreign Affairs (1917-58); Commissar of Defence War (1918-25);

Member, Politburo (1920-27); expelled from Party (1928); exiled to Alma Ata (1928); deported from USSR (1929); to Turkey (1929-33); to France (1933-35); to Mexico (1937).

TSVETAEVA, Marina I., Soviet poet (1892-1941); committed suicide (1941).

TURNER, J. M. William, British painter, especially of landscapes (1775-1851).

VERTINSKY, Aleksandr N., Soviet variety artist (1889-1957).

VISHNEVSKY, Vsevolod V., Soviet journalist and playwright (1900-51).

VOROSHILOV, Kliment E., Soviet military officer and Marxist-Leninist politician (1881-1969); Member, Political Bureau (1926-52); USSR Commissar of Defence 1934-40); USSR Deputy Premier (1946-53); USSR President (1953-60); Member, Politburo/Presidium, CPSU (1926-69).

WERTH, Alexander, Russian-born British journalist (1901-69).

YAGODA, Genrikh G., Soviet revisionist politician (1891-1938); USSR Commissar for Internal Affairs (1934-36); arrested (1937); admitted to treason at public trial, executed (1938).

YAKOVLEVA., Tatiana A., Russian-born French (later American) hat designer.

YENUKIDZE, Avel S., Soviet civil servant (1877-1937); Secretary, USSR Central Executive Committee (1923-35); expelled from CPSU (1935); tried and sentenced to death (1937).

ZAMYATIN, Evgeny I., Soviet writer and literary critic (1884-1937); to Western Europe (1931).

ZASLAVSKY, David I., Soviet writer and literary critic (1880-1965).

ZHDANOV, Andrey A., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1948); 1st Secretary, Leningrad, CPSU (1934-44); Secretary, CC,’ CPSU (1944-48); murdered by revisionists (1948).

ZINOVIEV, Grigory E., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Member, Politburo (1921-26); Chairman, Comintern (1919-26); admitted to treason at public trial and executed (1936).
ZOSHCHENKO, Milhail M., Soviet writer (1895- 1958); expelled from Union of Soviet Writers (1946).

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Source

Guevaraism: the Theory of the Guerrilla Elite

che-pistol-big

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

INTRODUCTION
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

Introduction

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.”

(Ibid.-p.19)

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.

BOURGEOIS OUTLOOK AND SPONTANEITY

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.”

(p.23)

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.”

(p.20-21).

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.”

(p.59).

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.”

(p.82)

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.”

(p.53).

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.”

(p.126).

CLASS ANALYSIS IN SOUTH AMERICA: THE “THIRD” WAY

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.”

(p.21)

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.”

And

“… 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.”

(p.111).

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.”

(p.68)

“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.”

(p.69)

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 ..”

(p.110).

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:

  • the abstract and classless theory of “armed revolution”;
  • the purely military “foco”;
  • the primacy of spontaneity and,
  • the overall aim of “the happiness of the people” divorced from any concrete class analysis.

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.

THE ROLE OF THE INDIVIDUAL – THE MAXIMUM LEADER – FIDELISM

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.”

(p.67).

“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.”

(p.101).

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.”

(p.96)

It is because of:

“the line of action of which Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, is the incarnation.”

(p.119)

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.”

(p.89)

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.”

(p. 88-89).

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”.

(p. 101)

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.

THE “FOCO” AS SUBSTITUTE FOR THE PROLETARIAN 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.

Thus:

“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.”

(p.105)

“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.”

(p.115).

“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.”

(p.105).

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.”

(p.114).

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’.”

(p.65)

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.”

(p.105)

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.

PEOPLE’S WAR WITHOUT THE PEOPLE

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.”

(p.47).

But:

“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.”

(p.50)

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’.”

(p.51)

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.”

(p.66)

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.”‘

(p.46)

and:

“….. 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.”

(p.110)

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.”

(p.64)

“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.”

(p.31)

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.”

(p.41).

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.”

(p.43)

Thus the claim that these theories are a more highly developed form of “people’s war” begins to look slightly ludicrouswhen 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.”

(p.70).

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.

“LEFT” AND RIGHT IN LATIN AMERICA

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,”

believing that:

“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.”

(Ibid.; p.18)

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.

ASSESSMENT OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION

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. T