Category Archives: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.)

Mao Apologised to Yugoslavian Delegates, told Stalin Blocked our Revolution


It has always been our understanding on Mao, that he was a revisionist and an Anti-Marxist Leninist. With new documents and papers coming out of various Archives, our view has been solidified in light of such information. Mao, had always adopted a vacillating position when it came to matter of international import that concerned the International Communist Movement. At one hand he went to China and asked Stalin of every possible help, including to get his works reviewed by Soviet experts to asking for help on industrialisation.

On numerous occasion he did not fail to eulogies Stalin and writing to him that Soviet Party being the headquarters and Stalin the captain, and immediately after the 20th CPSU Party Congress like Khrushchev turned all guns again same Stalin whom he had called in 1939 as “…Stalin is the leader of the world revolution. This is of paramount importance. It is a great event that mankind is blessed with Stalin. Since we have him, things can go well. As you all know, Marx is dead and so are Engels and Lenin. Had there been no Stalin, who would there be to give directions?

The below document titled “MINUTES, MAO’S CONVERSATION WITH A YUGOSLAVIAN COMMUNIST UNION DELEGATION, BEIJING” further exposes the sheer un-Marxist attitude of Mao when he shamelessly puts blame on Stalin even stating that Stalin blocked our revolution.

But, it was not the end in 1958 Mao again did a U turn and in October 25, 1966 said “The revisionist leading clique of the Soviet Union, the Tito clique of Yugoslavia, and all the other cliques of renegades and scabs of various shades are mere dust heaps in comparison, while you, a lofty mountain, tower to the skies.”

We leave it to the discretion of our dear comrades who still harbour respect and faith in Mao, and to what is said as Mao-Tse-Tung thought or Maoism.

[All emphasis and underline are ours.]

Other Aspect


We welcome you to China.  We are very pleased at your visit.  We have been supported by you, as well as by other brotherly [Communist] parties.  We are invariably supporting you as much as all the other brotherly parties.  In today’s world, the Marxist and Communist front remains united, whether in places where success [of Communist revolution] is achieved or not yet achieved.  However, there were times when we were not so united; there were times when we let you down.  We listened to the opinions of the Information Bureau [2] in the past.  Although we did not take part in the Bureau’s [business], we found it difficult not to support it.  In 1949 the Bureau condemned you as butchers and Hitler-style fascists, and we kept silent on the resolution [condemning you], although we published articles to criticize you in 1948.  In retrospect, we should not have done that; we should have discussed [this issue] with you: if some of your viewpoints were incorrect, [we should have let] you conduct self-criticism, and there was no need to hurry [into the controversy] as [we] did.  The same thing is true to us: should you disagree with us, you should do the same thing, that is, the adoption of a method of persuasion and consultation.  There have not been that many successful cases in which one criticizes foreign parties in newspapers.  [Your] case offers a profound historical lesson for the international communist movement.  Although you have suffered from it, the international communist movement has learned a lesson from this mistake.  [The international communist movement] must fully understand [the seriousness of] this mistake.

When you offered to recognize new China, we did not respond, nor did we decline it.  Undoubtedly, we should not have rejected it, because there was no reason for us to do so.  When Britain recognized us, we did not say no to it.  How could we find any excuse to reject the recognition of a socialist country?

There was, however, another factor which prevented us from responding to you: the Soviet friends did not want us to form diplomatic relations with you.  If so, was China an independent state?  Of course, yes.  If an independent state, why, then, did we follow their instructions?  [My] comrades, when the Soviet Union requested us to follow their suit at that time, it was difficult for us to oppose it.  It was because at that time some people claimed that there were two Titos in the world: one in Yugoslavia, the other in China, even if no one passed a resolution that Mao Zedong was Tito.  I have once pointed out to the Soviet comrades that [they] suspected that I was a half-hearted Tito, but they refuse to recognize it.  When did they remove the tag of half-hearted Tito from my head?  The tag was removed after [China] decided to resist America [in Korea] and came to [North] Korea’s aid and when [we] dealt the US imperialists a blow.

The Wang Ming line[3] was in fact Stalin’s line.  It ended up destroying ninety percent of our strength in our bases, and one hundred percent of [our strength] in the white areas.[4] Comrade [Liu] Shaoqi[5] pointed this out in his report to the Eighth [Party] Congress.[6]  Why, then, did he not openly attribute [the losses] to the [impact of] Stalin’s line?  There is an explanation.  The Soviet Party itself could criticize Stalin; but it would be inappropriate for us to criticize him.  We should maintain a good relationship with the Soviet Union.  Maybe [we] could make our criticism public sometime in the future.  It has to be that way in today’s world, because facts are facts.  The Comintern made numerous mistakes in the past.  Its early and late stages were not so bad, but its middle stage was not so good: it was all right when Lenin was alive and when [Georgii] Dimitrov was in charge.[7]  The first Wang Ming line dominated [our party] for four years, and the Chinese revolution suffered the biggest losses.[8]Wang Ming is now in Moscow taking a sick leave, but still we are going to elect him to be a member of the party’s Central Committee.  He indeed is an instructor for our party; he is a professor, an invaluable one who could not be purchased by money.  He has taught the whole party, so that it would not follow his line.

That was the first time when we got the worst of Stalin.

The second time was during the anti-Japanese war.  Speaking Russian and good at flattering Stalin, Wang Ming could directly communicate with Stalin.  Sent back to China by Stalin, he tried to set [us] toward right deviation this time, instead of following the leftist line he had previously advocated.  Advocating [CCP] collaboration with the Guomindang [the Nationalist Party or GMD], he can be described as “decking himself out and self-inviting [to the GMD];” he wanted [us] to obey the GMD whole-heartedly.  The Six-Principle Program he put forward was to overturn our Party’s Ten-Principle Policy.  [His program] opposed establishing anti-Japanese bases, advocated giving up our Party’s own armed force, and preached that as long as Jiang Jieshi [Chiang Kai-shek] was in power, there would be peace [in China].  We redressed this deviation.  [Ironically,] Jiang Jieshi helped us correct this mistake: while Wang Ming “decked himself out and fawned on [Jiang],” Jiang Jieshi “slapped his face and kicked him out.”  Hence, Jiang Jieshi was China’s best instructor: he had educated the people of the whole nation as well as all of our Party members.  Jiang lectured with his machine guns whereas Wang Ming educated us with his own words.

The third time was after Japan’s surrender and the end of the Second World War.  Stalin met with [Winston] Churchill and [Franklin D.] Roosevelt and decided to give the whole of China to America and Jiang Jieshi.  In terms of material and moral support, especially moral support, Stalin hardly gave any to us, the Communist Party, but supported Jiang Jieshi.  This decision was made at the Yalta conference.  Stalin later told Tito [this decision] who mentioned his conversation [with Stalin on this decision] in his autobiography.

Only after the dissolution of the Comintern did we start to enjoy more freedom.  We had already begun to criticize opportunism and the Wang Ming line, and unfolded the rectification movement.  The rectification, in fact, was aimed at denouncing the mistakes that Stalin and the Comintern had committed in directing the Chinese revolution; however, we did not openly mention a word about Stalin and the Comintern.  Sometime in the near future, [we] may openly do so.  There are two explanations of why we did not openly criticize [Stalin and the Comintern]: first, as we followed their instructions, we have to take some responsibility ourselves.  Nobody compelled us to follow their instructions!  Nobody forced us to be wrongfully deviated to right and left directions!  There are two kinds of Chinese: one kind is a dogmatist who completely accepts Stalin’s line; the other opposes dogmatism, thus refusing to obey [Stalin’s] instructions.  Second, we do not want to displease [the Soviets], to disrupt our relations with the Soviet Union.  The Comintern has never made self-criticism on these mistakes; nor has the Soviet Union ever mentioned these mistakes.  We would have fallen out with them had we raised our criticism.

The fourth time was when [Moscow] regarded me as a half-hearted Tito or semi-Titoist.  Not only in the Soviet Union but also in other socialist countries and some non-socialist countries were there some people who had suspected whether China’s was a real revolution.

You might wonder why [we] still pay a tribute to Stalin in China by hanging his portrait on the wall.  Comrades from Moscow have informed us that they no longer hang Stalin’s portraits and only display Lenin’s and current leaders’ portraits in public parade.  They, however, did not ask us to follow their suit.  We find it very difficult to cope.  The four mistakes committed by Stalin are yet to be made known to the Chinese people as well as to our whole party.  Our situation is quite different from yours: your [suffering inflicted by Stalin] is known to the people and to the whole world.  Within our party, the mistakes of the two Wang Ming lines are well known; but our people do not know that these mistakes originated in Stalin.  Only our Central Committee was aware that Stalin blocked our revolution and regarded me as a half-hearted Tito.

We had no objection that the Soviet Union functions as a center [of the world revolution] because it benefits the socialist movement.  You may disagree [with us] on this point.  You wholeheartedly support Khrushchev’s campaign to criticize Stalin, but we cannot do the same because our people would dislike it.  In the previous parades [in China], we held up portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, as well as those of a few Chinese [leaders]—Mao, Liu [Shaoqi], Zhou [Enlai], and Zhu [De][9] —and other brotherly parties’ leaders.  Now we adopt a measure of “overthrowing all”: no one’s portrait is handed out.  For this year’s “First of May” celebration, Ambassador Bobkoveshi[10] already saw in Beijing that no one’s portrait was held in parade.  However, the portraits of five dead persons—Marx, Engles, Lenin and Stalin and Sun [Yat-sen]—and a not yet dead person—Mao Zedong—are still hanging [on the wall].  Let them hang on the wall!  You Yugoslavians may comment that the Soviet Union no longer hangs Stalin’s portrait, but the Chinese still do.

As of this date some people remain suspicious of whether our socialism can be successfully constructed and stick to the assertion that our Communist Party is a phony one.  What can we do?  These people eat and sleep every day and then propagate that the Chinese Communist Party is not really a communist party, and that China’s socialist construction is bound to fail.  To them, it would be a bewildering thing if socialism could be built in China!  Look out, [they warn].  China might become an imperialist country—to follow America, Britain, and France to become the fourth imperialist country!  At present China has little industry, thus is in no position [to be an imperialist country]; but [China] will become formidable in one hundred years!  Chinggis Khan[11] might be brought to life; consequently Europe would suffer again, and Yugoslavia might be conquered!  The “Yellow Peril” must be prevented!

There is absolutely no ground for this to happen!  The CCP is a Marxist-Leninist Party.  The Chinese people are peace-loving people.  We believe that aggression is a crime, therefore, we will never seize an inch of territory or a piece of grass from others.  We love peace and we are Marxists.

We oppose great power politics in international relations.  Although our industry is small, all things considered, we can be regarded as a big power.  Hence some people [in China] begin to be cocky.  We then warn them: “Lower your heads and act with your tails tucked between your legs.”  When I was little, my mother often taught me to behave “with tails tucked between legs.”  This is a correct teaching and now I often mention it to my comrades.

Domestically, we oppose Pan-Hanism,[12] because this tendency is harmful to the unity of all ethnic groups.  Hegemonism and Pan-Hanism both are sectarianism.  Those who have hegemonious tendencies only care about their own interests but ignore others’, whereas those Pan-Hanists only care about the Han people and regard the Han people as superior to others, thus damaging [the interests of] all the minorities.

Some people have asserted in the past that China has no intention to be friends with other countries, but wants to split with the Soviet Union, thus becoming a troublemaker.  Now, however, this kind of people shrinks to only a handful in the socialist countries; their number has been reduced since the War to Resist America and Assist Korea.[13]  It is, however, a totally different thing for the imperialists:  the stronger China becomes, the more scared they will be.  They also understand that China is not that terrifying as long as China has no advanced industry, and as long as China continues to rely on human power.  The Soviet Union remains the most fearsome [for the imperialists] whereas China is merely the second.  What they are afraid of is our politics and that we may have an enormous impact in Asia.  That is why they keep spreading the words that China will be out of control and will invade others, so on and so forth.

We have been very cautious and modest, trying to overcome arrogance but adhering to the “Five Principles.”[14] We know we have been bullied in the past; we understand how it feels to be bullied.  You would have had the same feeling, wouldn’t you?

China’s future hinges upon socialism.  It will take fifty or even one hundred years to turn China into a wealthy and powerful country.  Now no [formidable] blocking force stands in China’s way.  China is a huge country with a population of one fourth of that of the world.  Nevertheless, her contribution to the world is yet to be compatible with her population size, and this situation will have to change, although my generation and even my son’s generation may not see the change taking place.  How it will change in the future depends on how [China] develops.  China may make mistakes or become corrupt; the current good situation may take a bad turn and, then, the bad situation may take a good turn.  There can be little doubt, though, that even if [China’s] situation takes a bad turn, it may not become as decadent a society as that of Jiang Jieshi’s.  This anticipation is based on dialectics.  Affirmation, negation, and, then, negation of negation.  The path in the future is bound to be tortuous.

Corruption, bureaucracy, hegemonism, and arrogance all may take effect in China.  However, the Chinese people are inclined to be modest and willing to learn from others.  One explanation is that we have little “capital” at our disposal: first, we did not invent Marxism which we learned from others; second, we did not experience the October Revolution and our revolution did not achieve victory until 1949, some thirty-two years after the October Revolution; third, we were only a branch army, not a main force, during the Second World War; fourth, with little modern industry, we merely have agriculture and some shabby, tattered handicrafts.  Although there are some people among us who appear to be cocky, they are in no position to be cocky; at most, [they can merely show] their tails one or two meters high.  But we must prevent this from happening in the future: it may become dangerous [for us] in ten to twenty years and even more dangerous in forty to fifty years.

My comrades, let me advise you that you should also watch out for this potential.  Your industry is much modernized and has experienced a more rapid growth; Stalin made you suffer and hence, justice is on your side.  All of this, though, may become your [mental] burden.

The above-mentioned four mistakes Stalin committed [concerning China] may also become our burden.  When China becomes industrialized in later years, it will be more likely that we get cocky.  Upon your return to your country, please tell your youngsters that, should China stick her tail up in the future, even if the tail becomes ten thousand meters high, still they must criticize China.  [You] must keep an eye on China, and the entire world must keep an eye on China.  At that time, I definitely will not be here: I will already be attending a conference together with Marx.

We are sorry that we hurt you before, thus owing you a good deal.  Killing must be compensated by life and debts must be paid in cash.  We have criticized you before, but why do we still keep quiet?  Before [Khrushchev’s] criticism of Stalin, we were not in a position to be as explicit about some issues as we are now.  In my previous conversations with [Ambassador] Bobkoveshi, I could only say that as long as the Soviet Union did not criticize Stalin, we would be in no position to do so; as long as the Soviet Union did not restore [diplomatic] relations with Yugoslavia, we could not establish relations with you.[15]  Now these issues can be openly discussed.  I have already talked to the Soviet comrades about the four mistakes that Stalin had committed [to China]; I talked to [Soviet Ambassador Pavel] Yudin[16] about it, and I shall talk to Khrushchev about it next time when we meet.  I talk to you about it because you are our comrades.  However, we still cannot publish this in the newspapers, because the imperialists should not be allowed to know about it.  We may openly talk about one or two mistakes of Stalin’s in the future.  Our situation is quite different from yours:  Tito’s autobiography mentions Stalin because you have already broken up with the Soviet Union.

Stalin advocated dialectical materialism, but sometimes he lacked materialism and, instead, practiced metaphysics; he wrote about historical materialism, but very often suffered from historical idealism.  Some of his behavior, such as going to extremes, fostering personal myth, and embarrassing others, are by no means [forms] of materialism.

Before I met with Stalin, I did not have much good feeling about him.  I disliked reading his works, and I have read only “On the Basis of Leninism,” a long article criticizing Trotsky, and “Be Carried Away by Success,” etc.  I disliked even more his articles on the Chinese revolution.  He was very different from Lenin: Lenin shared his heart with others and treated others as equals whereas Stalin liked to stand above every one else and order others around.  This style can be detected from his works.  After I met with him, I became even more disgusted:  I quarreled a lot with him in Moscow.  Stalin was excitable by temperament.  When he became agitated, he would spell out nasty things.

I have written altogether three pieces praising Stalin.  The first was written in Yanan to celebrate his sixtieth birthday [21 December 1939—ed.], the second was the congratulatory speech [I delivered] in Moscow [in December 1949—ed.], and the third was an article requested by Pravda after his death [March 1953—ed.].  I always dislike congratulating others as well as being congratulated by others.  When I was in Moscow to celebrate his birthday, what else could I have done if I had chosen not to congratulate him?  Could I have cursed him instead?  After his death the Soviet Union needed our support and we also wanted to support the Soviet Union.  Consequently, I wrote that piece to praise his virtues and achievements.  That piece was not for Stalin; it was for the Soviet Communist Party.  As for the piece I did in Yanan, I had to ignore my personal feelings and treat him as the leader of a socialist country.  Therefore, that piece was rather vigorous whereas the other two came out of [political] need, not my heart, nor at my will.  Human life is just as contradictory as this: your emotion tells you not to write these pieces, but your rationality compels you to do so.

Now that Moscow has criticized Stalin, we are free to talk about these issues.  Today I tell you about the four mistakes committed by Stalin, but, in order to maintain relations with the Soviet Union, [we] cannot publish them in our newspapers.  Since Khrushchev’s report only mentioned the conflict over the sugar plant while discussing Stalin’s mistakes concerning us, we feel it inappropriate to make them public.  There are other issues involving conflicts and controversies.

Generally speaking, the Soviet Union is good.  It is good because of four factors: Marxism-Leninism, the October Revolution, the main force [of the socialist camp], and industrialization.  They have their negative side, and have made some mistakes.  However, their achievements constitute the major part [of their past] while their shortcomings are of secondary significance.  Now that the enemy is taking advantage of the criticism of Stalin to take the offensive on a world-wide scale, we ought to support the Soviet Union.  They will certainly correct their mistakes.  Khrushchev already corrected the mistake concerning Yugoslavia.  They are already aware of Wang Ming’s mistakes, although in the past they were unhappy with our criticism of Wang Ming.  They have also removed the “half-hearted Tito” [label from me], thus, eliminating altogether [the labels on] one and a half Titos.  We are pleased to see that Tito’s tag was removed.

Some of our people are still unhappy with the criticism of Stalin.  However, such criticism has positive effects because it destroys mythologies, and opens [black] boxes.  This entails liberation, indeed, a “war of liberation.”  With it, people are becoming so courageous that they will speak their minds, as well as be able to think about issues.

Liberty, equality, and fraternity are slogans of the bourgeoisie, but now we have to fight for them.  Is [our relationship with Moscow] a father-and-son relationship or one between brothers?  It was between father and son in the past; now it more or less resembles a brotherly relationship, but the shadow of the father-and-son relationship is not completely removed.  This is understandable, because changes can never be completed in one day.  With certain openness, people are now able to think freely and independently.  Now there is, in a sense, the atmosphere of anti-feudalism: a father-and-son relationship is giving way to a brotherly relationship, and a patriarchal system is being toppled.  During [Stalin’s] time people’s minds were so tightly controlled that even the feudalist control had been surpassed.  While some enlightened feudal lords or emperors would accept criticism, [Stalin] would tolerate none.  Yugoslavia might also have such a ruler [in your history] who might take it well even when people cursed him right in his face.  The capitalist society has taken a step ahead of the feudalist society.  The Republican and Democratic Parties in the United States are allowed to quarrel with each other.

We socialist countries must find [better] solutions.  Certainly, we need concentration and unification; otherwise, uniformity cannot be maintained.  The uniformity of people’s minds is in our favor, enabling us to achieve industrialization in a short period and to deal with the imperialists.  It, however, embodies some shortcomings, that is, people are made afraid of speaking out.  Therefore, we must find some ways to encourage people to speak out.  Our Politburo’s comrades have recently been considering these issues.

Few people in China have ever openly criticized me.  The [Chinese] people are tolerant of my shortcomings and mistakes.  It is because we always want to serve the people and do good things for the people.  Although we sometimes also suffer from bossism and bureaucracy, the people believe that we have done more good things than bad ones and, as a result, they praise us more than criticize us.  Consequently, an idol is created: when some people criticize me, others would oppose them and accuse them of disrespecting the leader.  Everyday I and other comrades of the central leadership receive some three hundred letters, some of which are critical of us.  These letters, however, are either not signed or signed with a false name.  The authors are not afraid that we would suppress them, but they are afraid that others around them would make them suffer.

You mentioned “On Ten Relationships.”[17] This resulted from one-and-a-half-months of discussions between me and thirty-four ministers [of the government].  What opinions could I myself have put forward without them?  All I did was to put together their suggestions, and I did not create anything.  Any creation requires materials and factories.  However, I am no longer a good factory.  All my equipment is out-of-date, I need to be improved and re-equipped as much as do the factories in Britain.  I am getting old and can no longer play the major role but had to assume a minor part.  As you can see, I merely played a minor role during this Party’s National Congress whereas Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping[18] and others assumed the primary functions.

[1] The content of this conversation suggests that it occurred between 15 and 28 September 1956, when the CCP’s Eighth National Congress was in session.

[2] This refers to the Information Bureau of Communist and Workers’ Parties (Cominform), which was established in September 1947 by the parties of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Yugoslavia. The Bureau announced that it was ending its activities in April 1956.

[3] Wang Ming (1904-1974), also known as Chen Shaoyu, was a returnee from the Soviet Union and a leading member of the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s. Official Chinese Communist view claims that Wang Ming committed “ultra-leftist” mistakes in the early 1930s and “ultra-rightist” mistakes in the late 1930s.

[4] The white areas were Guomindang-controlled areas.

[5] Liu Shaoqi was vice chairman of the CCP Central Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s National Congress. He was China’s second most important leader.

[6] The Chinese Communist party’s eighth national congress was held in Beijing on 15-27 September 1956.

[7] Georgii Dimitrov (1882-1949), a Bulgarian communist, was the Comintern’s secretary general from 1935 to 1943.

[8] Mao here pointed to the period from 1931 to 1935, during which the “international section,” of which Wang Ming was a leading member, controlled the central leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

[9] Zhu De was then vice chairman of the CCP Central Committee and vice chairman of the PRC.

[10] Bobkoveshi was Yugoslavia’s first ambassador to the PRC, with whom Mao Zedong met for the first time on 30 June 1955.

[11] Chinggis Khan, also spelled Genghis Jenghiz, was born about 1167, when the Mongolian-speaking tribes still lacked a common name.  He became their great organizer and unifier. Before his death in 1227, Chinggis established the basis for a far-flung Eurasian empire by conquering its inner zone across Central Asia. The Mongols are remembered for their wanton aggressiveness both in Europe and in Asia, and this trait was certainly present in Chinggis.

[12] The Han nationality is the majority nationality in China, which counts for over 95 percent of the Chinese population.

[13] The “War to Resist America and Assist Korea” describes China’s participation in the Korean War from October 1950 to July 1953.

[14] The five principles were first introduced by Zhou Enlai while meeting a delegation from India on 31 December 1953. These principles—(1) mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, (2) mutual non-aggression, (3) mutual non-interference in international affairs, (4) equality and mutual benefit, and (5) peaceful coexistence—were later repeatedly claimed by the Chinese government as the foundation of the PRC’s foreign policy.

[15] China did not establish diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia until January 1955, although the Yugoslavian government recognized the PRC as early as 5 October 1949, four days after the PRC’s establishment.

[16] P. F. Yudin (1899-1968), a prominent philosopher and a member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party from 1952 to 1961, was Soviet ambassador to China from 1953 to 1959.

[17] “On Ten Relationships” was one of Mao’s major works in the 1950s. He discussed the relationship between industry and agriculture and heavy industry and light industry, between coastal industry and industry in the interior, between economic construction and national defense, between the state, the unit of production, and individual producers, between the center and the regions, between the Han nationality and the minority nationalities, between party and non-party, between revolutionary and counter-revolutionary, between right and wrong, and between China and other countries. For an English translation of one version of the article, see Stuart Schram, ed., Chairman Mao Talks to the People (New York: Pantheon Books, 1974), 61-83.

[18] Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping were all leading members of the Chinese Communist Party. At the Party’s Eighth Congress in September 1956, Liu and Zhou were elected the Party’s vice chairmen, and Deng the Party’s general secretary.


Mao Zedong waijiao wenxuan [Selected Diplomatic Papers of Mao Zedong] (Beijing: The Central Press of Historical Documents, 1993), 251-262. Translated and Annotated by Zhang Shu Guang and Chen Jian

This document taken from


The Deindustrialisation of Contemporary Russia


Tahir Asghar

The USSR, over the period of its tumultuous history, had built up a massive industrial, R&D and scientific potential so as to not only build a socialist society and defend it but also to secure its economic independence and growth and the full development of intellectual and material capacities of its population. Not only did the old industrial and scientific centres like Moscow and Leningrad witness massive expansion but many new such centres were set up in all the republics.

Moscow and its surrounding region continued to be the major economic region of the USSR, where the most diverse sectors beginning from aeronautic and cosmonautic, high tech defence industries and research institutions to linen and textiles factories were situated. The process and trends of economic and technological decline of the country in the period of restoration of capitalism find their particular reflection in the decline of these former centres of industrial and scientific excellence and their transformation into service hubs. What has happened there and is continuing to take place can be considered as a typical case of the overall trend of the shift in the emphasis towards the service sector on the rather flimsy ‘scientific’ hypothesis that all advanced economies are characterised by dominance of the service sector, totally contrary to the Marxist-Leninist position of the primacy of the sector of production of means of production as the foundation not only of the national economy but also as a determining condition for the real, not just formal, independence of a nation.

In the preceding 25 years, capitalism has expanded to become a truly globalised economic system. And during this period global capitalism has experienced a number of crises in many parts of the world – the South Asian crisis of 1997, the Russian crisis of 1998, the bursting of the tech bubble and finally the crisis of 2007 in the United States of America and then the crisis in the Euro zone. However, in the 1980s capitalism was being prescribed as the only system capable of providing sustained growth not only in the advanced capitalist countries, in the countries of the so-called Third World, but also in the countries of the socialist bloc. It was argued that only a market system based on private entrepreneurship produces optimal use of resources, minimises waste and maximises economic growth.

In the late 1970s the West experienced the information revolution. The spread of computer and information technology first to the corporate (manufacturing, small and medium businesses, retail, banking) sector and then to the households for personal use led to a sharp increase in labour productivity. At the same time the USA and UK saw the rise of right-wing political forces to power – Ronald Reagan in the USA and Margaret Thatcher in UK. Using the power of the mass media, prejudices of the middle class and above all the full force of the coercive apparatus of the state, they mounted a ruthless and ferocious assault on the working class in their respective countries and succeeded to a large extent in crushing the organised working class and trade union movement, from which it has yet to fully recover. They managed to convince large sections of the population that all the problems of capitalism can be resolved on the basis of the free play of market forces only if the ‘lazy’ and ‘pampered’ working class with its permanently increasing irrational demands was shown its place and the weak State that always gave in to their demands be withdrawn from active economic participation through the public sector, which needs to be privatised. So they argued and promptly proceeded to implement maximum deregulation of the production, distribution and exchange, withdrawal of the state from direct economic activity and curtailment of the power of workers organisations and trade unions.

Subsequently, policies based on these principles were not only sought to be promoted in, but also actively forced upon the developing countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa.

At about the same time that these changes were taking place in the UK and USA, the USSR, after a prolonged period of annual growth rates ranging between 4.5 and 6 percent, began to show signs of slowing down. The distortions in the economy that were in the making for a long time and serious shortcomings in the planning process unresolved since the Liberman reforms of the late 1960s began to manifest themselves with increasing severity, leading to serious shortfalls of many essential commodities and foodstuffs and deteriorating quality of social services all over the country. Further, the country found itself bogged down in an expensive, unexpectedly protracted and seemingly endless war in Afghanistan, putting additional pressure on government expenditure. This was also a time of political indecision as the ageing politburo and the Party leadership was proving to be increasingly incapable of asserting central control. This period from the late-1970s to 1985 is now generally referred to as the “stagnation” period.

The result was that the USSR appeared to be falling behind the West in economic development and increasingly unable to provide consistent growth in the living standard of the population. After a period in which three party secretaries came to power in quick succession, it was finally Gorbachev who was appointed the general secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR.

It was under his stewardship that the policy of Perestroika and democratisation was initiated. It appears that by this time the party leadership had factually come to the conclusion that the system of centralised planning has outlived its original role and is not capable any more on its own to provide the population with a growing standard of living, and needs to be supplemented, if not totally replaced (a view that was to become the official policy in just a few years time) by a non-state sector based on market principles. And thus with the passing of the bill on cooperatives and individual businesses, the foundation for private owned enterprises was laid. The passing of another Law on Enterprises also allowed management much more autonomy and freedom in decision-making, thereby diminishing further the power and capacity of the central authorities to control the enterprises. These measures and the political instability taken together led to a precipitous drop in the growth rate of the economy and plunged the country into a full-fledged economic crisis by 1989. Finally, the unsuccessful coup against Gorbachev and subsequent events leading to the dismantling of the CPSU and the Soviet Union imposed by Yeltsin, marked the end of the socialist world system.

Yeltsin and his group of advisers, all erstwhile high level functionaries of the CPSU, helped by their new found well-wishing ‘experts’ from the IMF and other financial institutions of the West, began, with all the zeal of the newly converted, to dismantle the whole structure and intricate network of the centrally planned economic system and replace it with an economy based on market mechanism and private property, i.e. capitalism. With this in mind a policy of stabilisation, liberalisation, privatisation and free foreign trade, already tried out in many other countries with disastrous consequences for most of them, nevertheless began to be carried out immediately in Russia. This policy came to be known as “shock therapy”. It was the beginning of the restoration of capitalism in Russia by Khrushchev’s ideological progenies.

The consequences in Russia of this transition to capitalism have been really shocking, especially in terms of its social costs. It still continues to exact its price – economic, social and (geo) political.

From a superpower, the country has been reduced to the status of a middle-order nation along with countries like India. From the second most powerful economy, just behind the United States, the country has been reduced to the status where it now stands alongside developing countries like Brazil and India. On many indicators of social development the country is now ranked alongside the least developed countries of the world.

The two books under review give a fairly complete and comprehensive picture of the decline of a country that was once one of the only two military and economic superpowers in the world and adequately describe the process and government policies resulting in this rather sorry state of affairs for a country endowed with all the wealth – intellectual and material – that no other country, with the exception of USA, can boast of.

The most striking feature of economic decline of the Russian Federation since 1991 has been the ‘de-industrialisation’ of the country accompanied by loss of its R&D and scientific leadership.

The book ‘Moscow City from an Industrial and Scientific Centre to a Collection of Shops and Offices’, by G.V. Krainev (Moscow, 2009), is a testimony to this process. It is a collection of articles describing and analysing the policy of reforms undertaken in the city of Moscow which has led to the destruction of the most organised and self-conscious section of the Moscow proletariat as the author says of both physical and intellectual labour. The book is divided into a number of themes which look at different aspects of the policy of capitalist reforms.

The ruling class of Russia, having concentrated in its hands unrestricted power following the dissolution of the CPSU, began to systematically undermine the very base of socialist production – large scale industrial production and its R&D and scientific support consisting of hundreds of scientific organisations and institutes employing hundreds of thousands of highly qualified personnel. This was done deliberately as part of the policy of converting socialist enterprises into capitalist undertakings of various forms. The industrial enterprises were first deprived of preferential access to financing their operations, by devaluing their assets, both old and new, through hyper-inflation and devaluation of the currency, by pushing these enterprises deep into debt and then letting them face international competition without any state support, and all this in the wake of disruption, following the collapse of the USSR, of the traditional ties with the other enterprises of the country that were suppliers of inputs or consumers for their products, by depriving the enterprises of new entrants of qualified and trained workers from the professional schools that were being hurriedly closed down and converted into play areas or shops and beauty salons, and lastly, declaring these enterprises insolvent, which then was used to demonstrate the ‘uncompetitiveness’ of the majority of enterprises built in the Soviet era.

It is also worth noting that these large-scale industrial enterprises were being carved up into innumerable small and medium joint stock and private companies, which appropriate from a fine-tuned production cycle the most valuable assets and resort to selling or liquidating the rest. The state also started to sell these enterprises to foreign buyers under the pretext of the need to increase the effectiveness of these enterprises. Such reorganisations, liquidations and bankruptcies of enterprises and factories have with time assumed massive proportions. In Moscow alone by the beginning of 2002 about 7000 were already liquidated and another 8000 were in the line (Krainev, p. 7). Thus already by 1999, as a consequence of the market reforms, the socio-economic structure of Moscow underwent a radical change. Moscow became centre of finance, business, trade and administration and the significance of industries as a factor of urban development has diminished drastically (Krainev, p. 8).

Industries are also increasingly becoming victims of speculation in land and real estate. The new Land Code of the country allows the owner of the factory to buy the land on which the factory is situated. This law has set in motion speculative activity related to land. The wealthier ‘entrepreneurs’ went on the offensive, buying out the workers’ shares of so-called unprofitable factories so as to take over the land, then close down the factories and build on this land offices, casinos, markets or malls and other such modern commercial units. Subsequently, this has become an epidemic affecting not only unproductive enterprises but also efficiently functioning and profitable ones (Krainev, p. 14).

Such processes on a national scale have brought about a radical change in the structure of the economy of the country as whole. Now, contrary to the situation earlier, the largest share in the growth of GDP is contributed by the export of fuel and energy resources and raw material and also because of high prices of these commodities on the international market. Only 2% of the growth in GDP can be attributed to the genuinely competitive sectors that have managed to counter imports and increase their own production. This has led to the degradation of critical sectors like manufacturing and agriculture, and over a period of15-20 years turn Russia from a producer country to an importer country especially of machines, equipment and food products and a country living off revenues largely from its oil exports. This is also reflected in the structure  imports that shows growing rates of import of machines and equipment between the years 2000 and 2006. Their share in the total imports grew from 31.1% in 2000 to 47.7% in 2006 (Krainev, p. 76). If in the period of market reforms and the spread and growth of capitalism in Russia, the industrial sector as a whole was the biggest victim; the situation of the manufacturing sector, especially that of machine building and engineering sectors, producing means of production can be described as disastrous.

This situation finds its reflection as in a mirror in the economic structure of Moscow. Since 1991 the structure of industrial production in Moscow has witnessed similar and significant change. Once the hub of production of modern machinery and engineering equipment, of sectors at the forefront industrial development, today the picture can only be termed as dismal. The leading industrial sector in the city is the food processing industry, both in terms of rates of growth and scale of production. The enterprises of the food industry account for a third of all the realised produce of the city, between 28 and 32% in monetary terms. During the reforms of the industrial sector of the city, the machine-building and metal-working industries have completely lost their former leading positions and now occupy a subordinate position, constituting only about 25% in total volume of industrial production. Thus even according to official statistics the real fact is that the these two sectors of industry, the very core of industrial production, now together constitute only 2% of the Gross Regional Product of Moscow (Krainev, p. 82). “Machine building industry, which forms the technological foundation of all industry, and which under the Soviet Union effectively satisfied the requirements of all the branches of heavy, light and other industries, the requirement of the colossal national economy of the USSR, has been liquidated for all practical purposes” (Krainev, p. 92). Only the production of consumer goods and control systems is increasing and the production of the means of production is significantly on a decline. In this way a slow ticking bomb is being placed under the ground of national industries that will ensure dependence on supplies of technology from abroad for many years to come (Krainev, p. 93).

The Gross Regional Product also depends on the scale of investments in the economy of the region. The data of the Russian Statistical Committee differentiates between investments in fixed capital and foreign investments. Though investment in fixed capital shows growth in absolute terms in roubles, its share in the Gross Regional Product of Moscow has stagnated at around 11% and only towards the mid-2000s began to outstrip inflation. According to official data, one third of the investments is directed to overhauling of machines, equipment and means of transport. However, reports in the media suggest that not more than 6% of fixed equipment, much less than the required 8%, does not even ensure simple reproduction. In many enterprises equipment that was installed during the Stalin period is still in use. If we look at the sector-wise structure of investments, the largest share of investments flows into the transport and housing sectors (26% and 25% respectively) while only slightly more than 7% flows into the industrial sector, even less than in communications which stands at about 11%. These facts show that renewal of fixed capital in the industrial sector is not a priority for the authorities (Krainev, pp. 95-96).

The volume of foreign investments has been rising consistently since 2000. If in 2000 it was around US $4 billion then in 2006 it was approximately US $24 billion. According to the city authorities the most attractive areas of foreign investments in the economy of Moscow are trade, hotels, eateries and restaurant business, transport and reconstruction of large buildings. According to official statistics foreign investment in the industrial sector of the city is just a meagre part of the overall flows with a major part going into trade and food services (Krainev, pp. 98-99). Retail trade (malls, showrooms, boutiques), wholesale trade, production of beer, hotel business, all those areas that bring in quick and relatively high returns, have turned out to be the most attractive destinations for foreign direct investments. It is widely commented that sectors like machine building and the engineering industry, high technology, processing industry have not been able to attract any significant amount of foreign investments. Both Russian and foreign investors so far have shown interest primarily in areas that ensure high profits in the short term with a minimum of risks.

All these factors find their reflection in official economic data for Moscow: growth has been significant in production of electrical and optical equipment, means of transport, production of rubber and plastic goods, wood processing and wooden items and leather goods. Growth rates have declined in production of chemicals, metallurgy and metal items, machines and equipment (heavy and light), textiles and garments. The last two have seen in significant and consistent decline (Krainev, p. 111).

These radical changes in the structure of the national economy as exemplified by the experience of the erstwhile most powerful economic, scientific and R&D hub of the country – the city and region of Moscow – have negatively affected the technology and technical institutions, scientific research institutes and R&D organisations in the city and, consequently, the status and conditions of living of hundreds of thousands of workers and highly qualified scientists and technicians.

O.A. Mazur’s book ‘Development of the Workforce of Contemporary Russia’, (St. Petersburg University Publication, St. Petersburg, 2009) analyses the factors behind the Russian Federation’s relative social and technological backwardness and attempts to identify the contradictions in the development of social capital. He too highlights the decline of the industrial sector in Russia in general and of manufacturing in particular which now employs significantly fewer employees than during the Soviet period. There has been a 36% decline in the number of employees in industries (38.2% in machine-building sector) and a simultaneous ‘catastrophic’ decline in the number employed in science and R&D – 50%. Trade and finance sectors witnessed a high growth in the number of employees. According to him, industry continues to remain in a state of stagnation and only the best part of it has regained the levels of the late 1980s, a period that itself was one of negative growth (p. 42). Within industry too regressive shifts can be observed in the structure of employment – increase in the share of extracting industries accompanied by a decreasing share of employment in machine-building and light industries, i.e. exactly those industries that together account for the largest share in value addition.

These shifts are ultimately responsible for the terrible conditions that have resulted in extremely grim social development indicators: high rates of mortality in the working age group of the population and fall in the educational and skill levels of the workforce, food consumption and living conditions. Mortality in Russia is almost double that of the USA, France and Netherlands. The average life span for the whole population is 67 years, while it is 72 years for women and only 56 for men. This is about 10-15 years lower than in the West. Only 58% of the young men of the age of16 presently are expected to live until 60 years. The number of deaths in the working age group is catastrophically high and exceeds the levels in advanced countries by a factor of 1.5 – 2. Diseases related to the blood circulatory system are the main causes of this decline in the average life span of men and unnatural deaths among women, pointing towards deterioration of social conditions. Consumption of tobacco, generously supplied by the multinationals, along with alcohol consumption is also among the leading factors of high mortality rates in Russia (Mazur, p. 31).

A steep fall in the real wages of the majority of the population resulted in the decline of living conditions: food consumption, housing, fewer opportunities for recreational activities. All these also have been a major factor in the low life-span of the Russian population (Mazur, p. 30).

According to this author no fewer than 25% of men in the working age group are either totally or partially unfit to work. These and other factors of high mortality and incapacity to work in the Russian Federation have yet to be overcome, but now exert a cumulative affect (Mazur, p. 32). A comparison of the same indicators of health in the Russian Federation and UK shows that if in 1965 they had a broadly similar level of mortality due to curable diseases then by the end of 1990s in Russia it was about 3 times more than in UK. Mortality due to diseases related to blood circulatory system and infectious diseases in the Russian Federation is 3-4 times higher than in the USA, Norway and France.

The trend of decreasing employment in the industrial sector of Moscow observed by Krainev is also characteristic of the country as a whole, as shown by Mazur. In the 1990s according to Mazur the sectoral structure of the Russian economy changed dramatically and looked more like the structure of a pre-industrial economy. Since then not much change has occurred. The tendencies of the 1990s continue to dominate. The industrial sector has witnessed a 36% fall in the number of employed, agriculture – 20%, and construction – 23%, while there has been an 103% increase in the number of employed in the finance sector, in trade – 85%, and in State administration – 85%. Maximum loss of employment has occurred among the less-skilled workers of industry and construction sectors.

Regressive shifts can also be observed within the industrial structure of employment. There has been an increase in the share of employed in the extracting industries (from 12.5% in 1990 to 24% in 2005) while the share of machine-building and engineering sector in the total number of employed in industry declined from 38.2% to 26.4%, and of light industry from 11% to 6% over the same period of time (Mazur, p. 43). The changes thus have occurred in sectors that have the potential to add maximum value and in the case of machine-building and engineering sector, in addition, the ability to provide technological progress.

Thus, looking at the decline of the sectors that form the very basis of technological progress, it is hard to imagine how Russia can regain its position as a world leader in production and science and R&D. Manufacturing sector of industry, and more particularly machine-building and engineering sectors (Department A in Soviet terminology) are the crucial sectors that produce means of production for production of means of production and constitute the backbone, the basis of its security, independence, power and the future of scientific and technological development. Ignoring this fact would lead to colossal material and territorial losses, lagging behind in the development of the productive forces of the country and would give rise to serious problems in maintaining the military- defensive capabilities of the state.

Machine-building and engineering are foundational branches of industry and determine the course and nature of future industrial development, as it is in this sector that almost all the breakthrough discoveries and innovations take place. Having lost our own industries we lose everything: science, a highly-skilled work force, modern defence production, war-ready army and in the final count our economic and political independence.

It is clear that the real economic and political sovereignty of the state is determined by whether or not the state is capable of independently producing the crucial means of production for all other type of production. To put it simply, whether or not the state can produce in sufficient quantity machines and equipment needed for the core branches of the industry. From this perspective, the future of sovereignty of the Russian Federation is quite bleak (Mazur, p. 112).


Telephone Conversation Between Kosygin and Taraki

Nur-Mohammad-Taraki1 ikosygi001p1

Excerpt from Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979-1982 by M. Hassan Kakar

For more than a week beginning 15 March 1979, the people of the city of Herat and its environs, joined by the military division stationed there, rose in rebellion. About twenty-five thousand of them were killed before the Khalqi government was able to suppress their uprising, principally with the assistance of the Soviet warplanes that bombed the city from bases across the border in the Soviet Union. Of the many antigovernment uprisings this was the biggest, and the government felt a danger to its survival. To avert the danger, Premier Nur Mohammad Taraki first held a telephone conversation with A.N. Kosygin, the Soviet premier, and then flew in secret to Moscow to persuade his comrades there to suppress the uprising with their own military men from the Central Asian republics disguised as Afghans.

The telephone conversation between Taraki and Kosygin, which occurred on 18 March 1979 and is transcribed here, shows how desperate Premier Taraki had become. He was desperate because he believed that “the power of the people is the power of God.” Now the full weight of this power had been turned against his government. The text also throws light on the sociopolitical situation of the country, a situation that is in contrast with what the government was depicting in its propaganda. The text is here reproduced in full with the permission of the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, which published this and other documents related to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in vol. 17, no. 2 (winter 1994). The conversation was carried on through the Soviet interpreter in Kabul, an assistant to the chief military adviser, General-Lieutenant Gorelov, and written down by someone named Batsanov.

Kosygin Tell comrade Taraki that I want to give him warm regards from Leonid Ilyich [Brezhnev] and from members of the Political Bureau.

Taraki Thank you very much.

Kosygin How is comrade Taraki; he does not get too tired, does he?

Taraki I do not get tired. Today we have had a meeting of the Revolutionary Council.

Kosygin That’s good, I am very glad. Ask comrade Taraki whether he can describe the situation in Afghanistan.

Taraki The situation is not good, it is getting worse. During the last month and a half from the Iran side four thousand servicemen in civil[ian] clothes penetrated into the city of Herat and into military units. At present all the 17th infantry division is in their hands, including the artillery regiment and anti-aircraft battalion which is firing at our planes. Fighting continues in the city.

Kosygin How many people are there in the division?

Taraki About five thousand men. All ammunition and store houses and depots are in their hands. Foods and ammunition are carried by planes from Kandahar to our comrades who are fighting there against them.

Kosygin How many of your people have remained there?

Taraki Five hundred men. They are on the Herat airfield and the division commander is with them. As a reinforcement, we sent there by planes from Kabul an operation group. This group is on the Herat airfield since early morning.

Kosygin And what about the officers of the division? Have they become traitors or [are] some of them…together with [the] division commander on the airfield[?]

Taraki A small part of the officers have remained faithful, the rest of them are with the enemy.

Kosygin Are some of the workers, citizens and office workers in Herat on your side? Or anyone else?

Taraki We do not have active support of the population. Almost all of the population is under the Shi’ite slogans.“Do not believe the atheists, follow us”—their propaganda is based on this slogan.

Kosygin How large is [the] Herat population?

Taraki 200 or 250 thousand people. Their behavior depends upon the situation. They go to where they are led. At present they are on the side of the enemy.

Kosygin Are there many workers there?

Taraki Very few; only one or two thousand people.

Kosygin What do you think is the situation in Herat?

Taraki We think that either this evening or tomorrow morning Herat will fall and be in hands of the enemy.

Kosygin And what are further perspectives?

Taraki We are sure that the enemy will form new units and will continue the offensive.

Kosygin Do you have armed forces to defeat them?

Taraki If only we had them…

Kosygin What are your suggestions concerning this situation?

Taraki We ask you to render practical and technical assistance with men and armament.

Kosygin This is a very complicated problem.

Taraki Otherwise the rebels will go to Kandahar and then to Kabul. They will bring half of Iran into Afghanistan under the flag of [the] Herat division. Afghans who have run away to Pakistan will come back. Iran and Pakistan have a common plan against us. Therefore if you inflict a blow on Herat now the revolution may be saved.

Kosygin The whole world will learn about this immediately. The rebels have radio sets and they will inform the world right away.

Taraki I ask you to help us.

Kosygin We must take counsel about this.

Taraki While you will be taking counsel Herat will fall and both the Soviet Union and Afghanistan will have still greater difficulties.

Kosygin Maybe you may tell me now what assessments you can offer concerning Pakistan and then Iran? Do you have connections with progressive-minded people in Iran? Can you tell them that at present your chief enemy is the United States[?] Iranians are very embittered against the United States and probably this can be used for propaganda purposes.

Taraki Today we have broadcast a statement to the Iranian government pointing out that Iran interferes in our home affairs in the Herat region.

Kosygin And what about Pakistan? Don’t you consider it necessary to make a statement to it?

Taraki Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow we shall make the same [kind] of statement to Pakistan.

Kosygin Can you rely upon your army? Is it trustworthy? Maybe you can assemble your troops to deliver a blow on Herat?

Taraki We believe our army is trustworthy. But it is impossible to withdraw troops from other cities in order to send them to Herat because this will weaken our positions in the cities.

Kosygin But if we give you quickly additional planes and arms will you be able to raise new units?

Taraki This will take much time and meanwhile Herat will fall.

Kosygin Do you believe that if Herat falls Pakistan will act the same way as Iran does?

Taraki The possibility of this is very great. The spirit of Pakistani people will stiffen after that. Americans lend them adequate support. After Herat falls Pakistanis will also send soldiers in civil[ian] clothes who will begin to capture towns and the Iranians will interfere actively. Success in Herat is the key to all other problems connected with the struggle.

Kosygin What political actions or statements would you like us to make? Have you got any consideration [suggestions] in this respect?

Taraki It is necessary to combine propagandistic and practical assistance. I suggest that you mark your tanks and planes with Afghan signs[,] then nobody will know anything. Your troops could move from Kushka and from Kabul.

Kosygin To reach Kabul will also take time.

Taraki Kushka is very near to Herat. As for Kabul troops can be brought there by planes. If you bring troops to Kabul and they will move from there to Herat we think that nobody will know the truth. People will think that they are government troops.

Kosygin I don’t want to distress you but such a fact is impossible to conceal. It will become known to the whole world in two hours. Everybody will shout that the Soviet Union has started intervention in Afghanistan. Tell me, comrade Taraki, if we bring arms and tanks to Kabul by planes will you you be able to provide tank-men?

Taraki Very few of them.

Kosygin But how many?

Taraki I don’t have exact data about this.

Kosygin If we send you tanks, necessary ammunition and mortars by planes immediately will you find specialists who could use them?

Taraki I can’t answer this question. Soviet advisers can answer it.

Kosygin As I understand you have no well-trained military personnel at all or very few of them.

Hundreds of Afghan officers have been trained in the Soviet Union. Where are they?

Taraki Most of them are Muslim reactionaries or they are also called Muslim Brothers. We can’t rely on them, we are not sure of them.

Kosygin How many people live in Kabul now?

Taraki About one million men.

Kosygin Can you recruit fifty thousand soldiers if we send you arms by planes immediately? How many soldiers can you recruit?

Taraki We can recruit some men, first of all young men, but it will take much time to train them.

Kosygin Can you recruit students?

Taraki It is possible to recruit students and pupils of the 11th or 12th grades of the Lyceums.

Kosygin Can’t you recruit workers?

Taraki There are very few workers in Afghanistan.

Kosygin And what about the poorest peasants?

Taraki We can recruit only students of the Lyceums, pupils of the eldest forms and a small number of workers. But to train them will take much time. When it is necessary we are ready to do anything.

Kosygin We have taken a decision to send you urgently military equipment, to take upon ourselves the repair of planes and helicopters free of charge. We have also decided to send you 100,000 [sic] tons of grain and to raise the cost of gas from 21 US dollars per thousand cubic meters up to 37.82 US dollars.

Taraki That is good, but let us talk about Herat.

Kosygin All right. Can you now form several divisions in Kabul of progressive people upon whom you may rely? Can you do that in other places too? We would give you necessary arms.

Taraki We have no officers. Iran sends service men in civil[ian] clothes to Afghanistan. Pakistan also sends soldiers and officers in Afghan clothes. Why can’t the Soviet Union send Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmen in civil[ian] clothes? Nobody will recognize who they are.

Kosygin What else can you say concerning Herat?

Taraki We want Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Turkmen to be sent to us because they can drive tanks and besides all these peoples live in Afghanistan too. Let them wear Afghan clothes, Afghan badges and then nobody will recognize them as foreigners. We think this is very easily done. Judging by the example of Iran and Pakistan we see that it is easy to do.

Kosygin But you oversimplify the problem, while this is a complex political, international problem. Yet despite all this we shall have consultations and then give you our answer. I think that you should try to form new units. You can’t rely only upon people who come from elsewhere. [The] Iranian revolution is an example: the people threw out all Americans and all other peoples too who tried to show themselves as defenders of Iran.

Let us make an agreement: we shall take counsel and then give you our answer. And you on your side counsel your military men and our advisers. Certainly there are forces in Afghanistan who will support you at the risk of their lives and will fight for you. These forces are to be given arms immediately.

Taraki Send us fighting infantry machines [armored personnel-carriers] by planes.

Kosygin And do you have men who can drive them?

Taraki We have 30 or 35 men who can drive them.

Kosygin Are they reliable? Will they not go over to the enemy together with the machines? Our drivers do not know the language.

Taraki But you send machines and drivers who know our language—Tajiks, Uzbeks.

Kosygin I expected you to give such an answer. We are comrades and are fighting [a] common fight, therefore we must not feel shy before each other. Everything is to be subordinated to the fight. We shall call you and tell you our opinion.

Taraki Please give our regards and best wishes to comrade Brezhnev and to members of the Political Bureau.

Kosygin Thanks. Remember me to all your comrades. I wish you firmness in solving problems, assurances and well-being. Good bye.


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


Alliance Notation January 2003

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

1) The need for “flexibility”

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

Stalin Text 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stalin’s ‘Anti-Semitism’



The accusation that Stalin was an anti-Semite is a strange one. Neither Stalin’s written texts nor his actions indicate anti-Semitism. Indeed, they indicate precisely the opposite, as I will show in a moment. So those who wish to make the accusation have to rely on hearsay – second- and third-hand snippets from passing conversations, whether from an estranged daughter or from those within and without the USSR who were not favourably disposed to Stalin.[1] And once such a position is ‘established’, it is then possible to read some of his actions and written comments in such a light. For instance, the ‘anti-cosmopolitan’ campaign of the late 1940s becomes a coded ‘anti-Semitic’ campaign. Or the ‘doctors plot’ of 1952-53 – in which leading doctors were suspected of seeking to assassinate government officials – is seen as an excuse for a widespread anti-Semitic purge and deportation,[2] halted only because of Stalin’s death (we may thank Khrushchev for this piece of speculation). However, the only way such an assumption can work is that many doctors in the Soviet Union were Jewish; therefore the attack on doctors was anti-Semitic. Equally, even more doctors were Russian, but for some strange reason, the plot is not described as anti-Russian.

Unfortunately for Stalin’s accusers, even the hearsay indicates that Stalin was opposed to the deep-rooted anti-Semitism of Russian culture. During the anti-cosmopolitan campaign of 1948-49 – which was actually anti-capitalist in the wake of the Second World War – it became the practice in some journal articles to include, where possible, the original family names in brackets after the Russian name. Sometimes, such original names were Jewish. When Stalin noticed this he commented:

Why Mal’tsev, and then Rovinskii between brackets? What’s the matter here? How long will this continue …? If a man chose a literary pseudonym for himself, it’s his right…. But apparently someone is glad to emphasise that this person has a double surname, to emphasise that he is a Jew…. Why create anti-Semitism?[3]

Indeed, to the Romanian leader, Gheorghiu-Dej, Stalin commented pointedly in 1947, ‘racism leads to fascism’.[4] At this point, we face an extraordinary contradiction: those who would accuse Stalin of anti-Semitism must dismiss his deep antipathy to fascism and deploy the reductio ad Hitlerum. If one assumes, even subconsciously, that Hitler and Stalin were of the same ilk, then it follows that Stalin too must be an anti-Semite. Apart from the sheer oxymoron of an anti-fascist fascist, this assertion seems very much like the speculative thought bubble that becomes ‘true’ through a thousand repetitions.[5]

I prefer to follow a rather conventional approach, instead of relying on hearsay, gossip and speculation. That approach is to pay attention to his written statements and actions. These are rather telling. Already in ‘Marxism and the National Question’ (1913), in which Stalin deals extensively with the Jews and the Bund (The General Jewish Workers’ Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia), he points out that dispersed minorities such as the Jews would be given the full range of protections, in terms of language, education, culture and freedom of conscience, within a socialist state. This would become his standard position, reiterated time and again and contrasted with the tsarist autocracy’s fostering of pogroms.[6] It was also reflected in extensive programs among Jews, including the fostering – not without problems and failures – of Yiddish, Jewish institutions and the significant presence of Jews at all levels of government.[7]

From time to time, Stalin had to deal with outbursts of anti-Semitism that still ran deep in Russian culture (thanks to the residual influence of tsarist autocracy). For example, in 1927 he explicitly mentions that any traces of anti-Semitism, even among workers and in the party is an ‘evil’ that ‘must be combated, comrades, with all ruthlessness’.[8] And in 1931, in response to a question from the Jewish News Agency in the United States, he describes anti-Semitism as an ‘an extreme form of racial chauvinism’ that is a convenient tool used by exploiters to divert workers from the struggle with capitalism. Communists, therefore, ‘cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-semitism’. Indeed, in the U.S.S.R. ‘anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system’. Active ‘anti-semites are liable to the death penalty’.[9]

This was no empty boast, as those who accuse Stalin of anti-semitism seem to assume. It is worth noting that article 123 of the 1936 Constitution ensured that this position was law.[10]Active anti-Semitism, even racial slurs, were severely punished. It may be surprising to some, but one of the key tasks of the NKVD (precursor to the KGB) was to counteract waves of residual anti-Semitism.[11] Yes, one of the jobs of the infamous secret police of the USSR was to root out anti-Semitism.

Further, the ‘affirmative action’ program of the Soviet Union,[12] enacted in Stalin’s capacity as Commissar for Nationality Affairs (1917-24), was explicitly a program in which territories of identifiable ethnic minorities were established, with their own languages and forms of education, the fostering of literature and cultural expression, and local forms of governance. As for dispersed minorities, even within such regions, they were provided with a stiff framework of protections, including strong penalties for any form of racial denigration and abuse. Already in 1913 Stalin had prefigured such an approach, specifying among others ‘the Jews in Poland, the Letts in Lithuania, the Russians in the Caucasus, the Poles in the Ukraine, and so on’.[13] They too – in a program of indigenization (korenizatsiia)[14] – should be able to use their own languages, operate their own schools, law-courts and soviets, and have freedom of conscience in matters relating to religion. Indeed, by the mid-1930s the Jews too were identified as a ‘nation’ with territory, having the Jewish Autonomous district in Birobidzhan.[15] This importance of this move (part of Crimea had also been proposed) is rarely recognised. It eventually failed, but it was the first move towards Jewish territory in the modern era.[16]

A final question: what about the attacks on Judaism as a religion? In 1913, Stalin wrote of the ‘petrified religious rites and fading psychological relics’[17] fostered by pockets of the ‘clerical-reactionary Jewish community’.[18] Is this anti-Semitic? No, it is anti-religious. Judaism too was subject anti-religious campaigns, which had the result not so much of divorcing Jews from their religious ‘roots’ but of producing a profound transformation in Jewish institutions and culture, so much so that one can speak of a ‘sovietisation’ of Jewish culture that produced Jews who were not religious but proud of contributions to Soviet society.[19]

What are we to make of all this? Do the hearsay and implicit assumptions speak the truth, or do Stalin’s words and actions speak the truth? I prefer the latter. But if we are to give some credence to the hearsay, then it may indicate a profoundly personal struggle for a Georgian, who was brought up with an ingrained anti-Semitism, to root it out in the name of socialism.

[1] For useful collections of such hearsay, see Erik Van Ree, The Political Thought of Joseph Stalin: A Study in Twentieth-Century Revolutionary Patriotism  (London: Routledge Curzon, 2002), 201-7; Erik Van Ree, “Heroes and Merchants: Stalin’s Understanding of National Character,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 8, no. 1 (2007).

[2] Jonathan Brent and Vladimir P. Naumov, Stalin’s Last Crime: The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953  (New York: HarperCollins, 2003); Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar  (London: Phoenix, 2003), 626-39.

[3] Van Ree, The Political Thought of Joseph Stalin: A Study in Twentieth-Century Revolutionary Patriotism, 205.

[4] Van Ree, The Political Thought of Joseph Stalin: A Study in Twentieth-Century Revolutionary Patriotism, 205.

[5] As a small sample, see Benjamin Pinkus, The Jews of the Soviet Union: a History of a National Minority  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 138-45; Vojtech Mastny,The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity: The Stalin Years, vol. Oxford University Press (Oxford, 1996), 157-58, 162; Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice  (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999), 33-38; Philip Boobyer, The Stalin Era  (London: Routledge, 2000), 78; Konstantin Azadovskii and Boris Egorov, “From Anti-Westernism to Anti-Semitism: Stalin and the Impact of the ‘Anti-Cosmopolitan’ Campaigns of Soviet Culture,”Journal of Cold War Studies 4, no. 1 (2002); Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, 310-12; Simon Sebag Montefiore, Young Stalin  (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2007), 264; Van Ree, “Heroes and Merchants: Stalin’s Understanding of National Character,” 45; Paul R. Gregory, Terror By Quota: State Security from Lenin to Stalin (An Archival Study)  (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 53, 265.

[6] I. V. Stalin, “The Russian Social-Democratic Party and Its Immediate Tasks,” in Works, vol. 1, 9-30 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1901 [1954]), 20-21; I. V. Stalin, “Rossiĭskaia sotsial-demokraticheskaia partiia i ee blizhaĭshie zadachi,” in Sochineniia, vol. 1, 11-32 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1901 [1946]), 21-23; I. V. Stalin, “To the Citizens: Long Live the Red Flag!,” in Works, vol. 1, 85-89 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1905 [1954]); I. V. Stalin, “K grazhdanam. Da zdravstvuet krasnoe znamia!,” in Sochineniia, vol. 1, 84-88 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1905 [1946]); I. V. Stalin, “Marxism and the National Question,” in Works, vol. 2, 300-81 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1913 [1953]), 319-21; I. V. Stalin, “Marksizm i natsionalʹnyĭ vopros,” in Sochineniia, vol. 2, 290-367 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1913 [1946]), 308-10; I. V. Stalin, “Abolition of National Disabilities,” in Works, vol. 3, 17-21 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1917 [1953]), 17; I. V. Stalin, “Ob otmene natsionalʹnykh ogranicheniĭ,” in Sochineniia, vol. 3, 16-19 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1917 [1946]), 16; I. V. Stalin, “The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question: Theses for the Tenth Congress of the R. C. P. (B.) Endorsed by the Central Committee of the Party,” in Works, vol. 5, 16-30 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1921 [1953]), 17, 27; I. V. Stalin, “Ob ocherednykh zadachakh partii v natsionalʹnom voprose: Tezisy k Х s”ezdu RKP(b), utverzhdennye TSK partii,” in Sochineniia, vol. 5, 15-29 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1921 [1947]), 16, 26; Stalin, “Concerning the Presentation of the National Question,” 52-53; Stalin, “K postanovke natsionalʹnogo voprosa,” 52-53.

[7] Pinkus, The Jews of the Soviet Union: a History of a National Minority, 58-71, 77-84; Anna Shternshis, Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939  (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), xv-xvi.

[8] I. V. Stalin, “The Fifteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.), December 2-19, 1927,” in Works, vol. 10, 274-382 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1927 [1954]), 332; I. V. Stalin, “XV s”ezd VKP (b) 2–19 dekabria 1927 g,” in Sochineniia, vol. 10, 271-371 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1927 [1949]), 324.

[9] I. V. Stalin, “Anti-Semitism: Reply to an Inquiry of the Jewish News Agency in the United States,” in Works, vol. 13, 30 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1931 [1954]), 30; I. V. Stalin, “Ob antisemitizme: Otvet na zapros Evreĭskogo telegrafnogo agentstva iz Аmerik,” in Sochineniia, vol. 13, 28 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1931 [1951]), 28.

[10] I. V. Stalin, “Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, With amendments adopted by the First, Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Sessions of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., Kremlin, Moscow, December 5, 1936,” in Works, vol. 14, 199-239 (London: Red Star Press, 1936 [1978]), article 123; I. V. Stalin, “Konstitutsiia (osnovnoĭ zakon) soiuza sovetskikh sotsialisticheskikh respublik (utverzhdena postanovleniem chrezvychaĭnogo VIII s”ezda sovetov soiuza sovetskikh sotsialisticheskikh respublik ot 5 dekabria 1936 g.),” (Moscow: Garant, 1936 [2015]), stat’ia 123. This also applied to the earliest constitutions of republics, such as the RSFSR, Ukraine and Belorus. See Pinkus, The Jews of the Soviet Union: a History of a National Minority, 52-57.

[11] Pinkus, The Jews of the Soviet Union: a History of a National Minority, 84-88; Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 169, 186-87.

[12] Terry Martin, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939  (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001); Terry Martin, “An Affirmative Action Empire: The Soviet Union as the Highest Form of Imperialism,” in A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-Making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin, ed. Ronald Grigor Suny and Terry Martin, 67-90 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

[13] Stalin, “Marxism and the National Question,” 375-76; Stalin, “Marksizm i natsionalʹnyĭ vopros,” 362. See also the exposition of the seventh and ninth clause of the Party Program, concerning equal rights, language and self-government in I. V. Stalin, “The Social-Democratic View on the National Question,” in Works, vol. 1, 31-54 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1904 [1954]), 42-46; I. V. Stalin, “Kak ponimaet sotsial-demokratiia natsionalʹnyĭ vopros?,” in Sochineniia, vol. 1, 32-55 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1904 [1946]), 43-47.

[14] Korenizatsiia, a term coined by the Bolsheviks, is ‘derived directly not from the stemkoren- (“root”—with the meaning “rooting”) but from its adjectival form korennoi as used in the phrase korennoi narod (indigenous people)’ Martin, “An Affirmative Action Empire: The Soviet Union as the Highest Form of Imperialism,” 74.

[15] Stalin, “Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, With amendments adopted by the First, Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Sessions of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., Kremlin, Moscow, December 5, 1936,” article 22; Stalin, “Konstitutsiia (osnovnoĭ zakon) soiuza sovetskikh sotsialisticheskikh respublik (utverzhdena postanovleniem chrezvychaĭnogo VIII s”ezda sovetov soiuza sovetskikh sotsialisticheskikh respublik ot 5 dekabria 1936 g.),” stat’ia 22.

[16] For a little detail, see Pinkus, The Jews of the Soviet Union: a History of a National Minority, 71-76.

[17] Stalin, “Marxism and the National Question,” 310; Stalin, “Marksizm i natsionalʹnyĭ vopros,” 300.

[18] Stalin, “Marxism and the National Question,” 374-75; Stalin, “Marksizm i natsionalʹnyĭ vopros,” 361.

[19] Shternshis, Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939, 1-43.


The CPSU(B), Gosplan and the Question of the Transition to Communist Society in the Soviet Union 1939-1953


by Vijay Singh

Marxism recognises the primary role of the industrial working class in the democratic and socialist revolutions and in the transition to communist society. In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels indicated that of ‘all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of modern industry: the proletariat is its special and essential product.’ V.I. Lenin in A Great Beginning expressed the Marxist position that only the urban workers and the industrial workers were able to lead the whole mass of the working and exploited people to overthrow capitalism and create the new socialist system. Socialism required the abolition of classes which necessitated the abolition of all private ownership of the means of production, the abolition of the distinction between town and country as well as the distinction between manual workers and brain workers. Lenin explicitly rejected the proposition that all the ‘working people’ were equally capable of performing these historical tasks. He considered that the assumption that all ‘working people’ were able to carry out the tasks of the socialist revolution was an empty phrase or the illusion of a pre-Marxist socialist. The ability to abolish classes grew only out of the material conditions of large scale capitalist production and was possessed by the workers alone. Marxism excludes from the definition of the working class the urban and rural petty-bourgeoisie, the office staff, the mental workers as well as the toiling masses. The attempts of Russian neo-Brezhnevism to broaden and extend the definition of the working class must be rejected just as historically the attempts of the Narodniks to include the petty-bourgeoisie in this category were fought by the Bolshevists. Confusion on this question carries grave implications for the character and composition of the Communist Party, for the very existence of the dictatorship of the proletariat, for the abolition of classes and the commodity system under socialism and for the transition to Communism.

The logic of Marxism did not permit the ‘working people’ as opposed to the proletariat to direct the construction of a socialist society. In The Agrarian Question in Russia Towards The Close of The Nineteenth Century, Lenin unequivocally considered that Socialism ‘means the abolition of commodity economy’ and that so long as exchange remains ‘it is ridiculous to talk of socialism’. The dictatorship of the proletariat must remain until such time as classes disappeared, Lenin argued in his article Economics and Politics In The Era of the Dictatorship of The Proletariat. The abolition of classes under socialism entailed the end of the difference between factory worker and peasant so that all became workers. It follows from this that the proletarian party cannot be a ‘party of the whole people’ or the dictatorship of the proletariat a ‘state of the whole people’. These positions were defended in the Stalin period. In the period after collectivisation in his Speech on the Draft Constitution Stalin held that the Soviet Union had already in the main succeeded in building the foundation of a socialist society; he nevertheless in these years argued, as in his Report to the 17th Congress of the CPSU(b), that the project of building a classless socialist society remained a task for the future.

The perspective of completing the building of a classless socialist society and the gradual transition from socialism to communism was the dominating leitmotif at the 18th Congress of the CPSU(b) held in March 1939. This emerges clearly from the speeches of the Soviet leadership at the Congress. In his opening remarks to the Congress Molotov asserted that Socialism had basically been constructed in the Soviet Union and that the forthcoming period was one of the transition to Communism. Stalin in his Report to the Congress, while noting that the USSR had outstripped the principal capitalist countries with regard to the rate of industrial development and the technique of production, indicated it had yet to economically outstrip the principal capitalist states in terms of industrial consumption per head of the population, which was the pre-condition of that abundance of goods which was necessary for the transition from the first to the second phase of Communism. He anticipated that the continued existence of the Soviet state was necessary during the period that Soviet Communism was being established. Until such time as capitalist encirclement was not superceded by socialist encirclement and the danger of foreign military attack did not recede, the military, penal and intelligence organs were necessary for the survival of the USSR. The Soviet state was not to wither away in the near future, it would, however, undergo changes in conformity with domestic and international requirements. Engels’ proposition that the state would wither away in Communism, Stalin opined, assumed that the victory of communism had taken place in the major countries which was not the case in the contemporary world situation.

In his Report on the Third Five Year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the USSR Molotov linked the new plan specifically to the task of the completion of a classless socialist society and the gradual transition from socialism to communism. Collectivisation, during the course of the Second Five Year Plan, had economically destroyed the kulaks which had been the last exploiting class existing in Soviet society. It had thus ended the private ownership of the means of production and formed the cooperative form of property relations through the establishment of the collective farms which now co-existed with the state property which had been created in the October revolution. The first phase of Communism had already been built in the USSR. The Third Five Year Plan was to be considered as a major step towards the formation of full communism. Molotov then examined the social classes which existed in the Soviet Union. Social differences persisted between the working class, the collective farm peasantry (as well as with the newly formed stratum of socialist intellectuals) corresponding to the nature of the differences in property relations between the state enterprises and the collective farms. In the transition to communist society the working class would play the leading role and the collective farm peasantry would exert an active role. Noting the distinctions between the advanced and backward strata of these classes Molotov argued that, while the majority of the populace placed the general interests of society and the state over private interests in the course of building the new society, there were sections which tried to snatch advantages from the state, just as sections of the peasantry were more worried about the welfare of their own collective farms and their own individual interests. It was the Stakhanovite movement in the factories which had established technical norms and raised labour productivity in the Second Five Year Plan period which guaranteed further successes for the Soviet Union.

In his speech to the 18th Congress the Chairman of the State Planning Commission, N.A. Voznesensky, fleshed out some basic five tasks which were required for the programme of communist construction to be brought into effect: first, the productive forces needed to be developed to that extent that the USSR economically surpassed the foremost capitalist states; second, labour productivity had to be raised to a level which would allow the Soviet Union to produce an abundance of products which would lay the basis for distribution founded upon need; third, the survivals of the contradiction between town and country had to be wiped away; fourth, the cultural and technical level of the working class had to be raised to the level of the workers who were engaged in engineering and technical work with the objective of eliminating the differences between mental and physical labour; and finally, the Socialist state had to develop new forms while building communism in the conditions of capitalist encirclement. It is significant that Voznesensky, while presenting an outline of the changes required in the society and state in the transition period to communism did not broach the question of the necessary radical reconstruction of productive relations in agriculture. In the 17th Congress of the CPSU(b) of 1934 Stalin had touched upon the necessity of effecting the transition of the collective farms based upon group property to the communes founded upon social property and the most developed technique which would lay the ground for the production of an abundance of products in society. In a pregnant remark Voznesensky suggested that the task of completing the construction of socialist society, the transition to communism and catching up and overtaking the leading capitalist countries would extend beyond the period of the Third Five Year Plan; whereas two decades had been needed for the Soviet Union to establish socialism an historically shorter span of time would be necessary for the transition to communism.

Molotov struck a note of sobriety in his concluding remarks at the Congress. While the perspective had been established of overtaking the leading countries of capitalism it was important to be aware of the shortcomings of the USSR in the economic field. Whereas the position of the working masses had improved in Soviet Russia and would further so do during the course of the Third Five Year Plan, and while the country surpassed the West in terms of production technique, it was important to recall that it lagged behind in terms of the industrial output per head of the population.

The perspectives outlined at the 18th Congress had wide-ranging ramifications. They implied that a re-writing of the programme of the party was imperative. The existing programme which was still operative formally had been adopted by the 8th party Congress in March, 1919 just a year and a half after the revolution. A new programme would of necessity have to take into account the path traversed under War Communism, the New Economic Policy, collectivisation and industrialisation in addition to the anticipated path to be followed on the way to ‘complete socialism’ and ‘full communism’. The 1919 programme had correctly called for the conversion of the means of production into the social property of the working class of the Soviet Republic. In the realm of agriculture it had enjoined the establishment of Communes for conducting large-scale socialised agriculture. The demand for the abolition of classes clearly pointed to the end of the peasantry as a class. A new programme would have to squarely face the delicate question of the conversion of the group property of the collective farms into the full social property of the whole of society. The 18th Congress constituted a 27 man Commission which was charged with the responsibility of drafting the changes in the projected Third Programme of the party. The members included Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Zhdanov, Beria, Voznesensky, Vyshinsky, Kalinin, Malenkov, Manuilsky, Khrushchev, Mikoyan and Pospelov.

The transition to Communist construction implied also the long-range reorientation of Soviet planning to the goal of the laying of the material and technical basis for the new society. After consultations with members of the Academy of Social Sciences of the USSR and with members of Gosplan, Voznesensky held an extended sitting of the State Planning Commission in July 1939 which took up the question of the elaboration of the development of the Soviet economy, particularly of the expansion of the energy base of the economy. Gosplan resolved to elaborate its perspectives in terms of construction of the Angarsk hydro-electrical complex, the raising of the level of the Caspian Sea and linking the Volga with the northern rivers. These developments immediately bring to mind Lenin’s understanding that electrification would open the door to Communist society. Communism was, he said, Soviet power plus electrification of the entire country. In the context of GOELRO he had spoken of the necessity of elaborating a perspective plan for Soviet Russia which would extend over a period of 10-15 years. With the goal of strengthening the pool of scientific talent available to Gosplan for the construction of the long-term economic plan a number of Academicians, including members from the USSR Academy of Sciences were involved in the activities of the Council of Scientific-Technical Experts under Gosplan for preparing the conspectus plan. Within a year and half Gosplan prepared a perspective of the long-term plan which raised questions which went beyond the limits of the Third Five Year Plan. Arising from this Voznesensky drafted a note for Stalin and Molotov which was read at a Gosplan meeting in September 1940. The central questions for a long run economic plan designed to build a classless socialist society and communism at the level of building the productive forces were the building of the ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgical industries; the complete reconstruction of railway transport; the construction of the Kuibyshev, Solikamsk and Angarsk hydro-electrical complexes; the realisation of the Baikal-Amur mainline railway; the creation of oil and metallurgical bases in the northern part of the USSR and the development of the individual regions of the country. In his note Voznesensky requested permission for Gosplan to elaborate a general economic plan for a 15 year period to be presented to the Central Committee of the Party by the end of 1941.

Tightly integrated into the projected long term perspective plan was a new approach to regional planning involving the better utilising of productive forces by basing the new industrial complexes close to the sources of energy and raw materials, thereby economising in labour in the course of the various stages of manufacture and preparation of the final product. Voznesensky secured the creation of an Institute of Commissioners of Gosplan in all of the economic regions of the country which had the responsibility of verifying the fulfilment of the state plan and securing the development of the industrial complexes of the economic regions. The Gosplan Commissioners were charged to pay special attention to the fulfilment of the Third Five Year Plan with respect to the creation of industrial fuel bases in each economic region, securing electricity sources in each region, eliminating irrational transport hauls, mobilising local food supplies in each region and bringing economic resources to light in the economy. Special departments were created in the Gosplan apparatus to deal with the development of the economy in the different regions of the country.

On February 7th, 1941 Gosplan received a reply to its proposal to be granted permission to elaborate a 15 year economic plan which had been sent by Voznesensky to Stalin and Molotov some five months earlier. The Central Committee of the CPSU(b) and Sovnarkom now formally sanctioned the preparation of a perspective plan by Gosplan to surpass the per capita production of the capitalist countries in pig iron, steel, oil, electricity, machinery and other means of production and articles of necessity. This necessitated the independent development of science and technology in the USSR so that the natural wealth of the country could be utilised by the most developed methods to advance the organisation of production. It required, moreover, the pre-determination of the development of the basic branches of the national economy, the economic regions and the tempo and scale of production. The general plan had to determine the changes in social and political relations, the social tasks, the methods of raising the level of the workers and collective farm workers to that of workers in the technical and engineering sectors (this would have facilitated the process of the abolition of classes and the obliteration of the distinctions between the industrial working class the intelligentsia and the collective farm peasantry which followed from Lenin’s injunctions in Economic and Politics in The Era of the Dictatorship of The Proletariat).

Work on the perspective plan was allocated over two stages between January and March 1941, and April to June of the same year. As instructed the Gosplan apparatus prepared the prototype of the general plan for the period 1943-1957 in 2 volumes. This project represented the first major attempt to tackle the problems arising from the perspective of developing the Socialist economy and its growing over to a Communist economy over a period of 15 years. On the 20th anniversary of Lenin’s decree which led to the creation of the State Planning Commission Pravda on the 22nd February, 1941 began a series of articles which widely publicised the new 15 year plan.

The Nazi invasion put paid to the projects for providing the economic basis for the transition to Communism. Yet amazingly the close of hostilities witnessed a resumption of pre-war plans and projects. The Report on the Five-Year Plan for 1946-1950 and the Law on the Five-Year Planpresented by Voznesensky to the Supreme Soviet in March 1946 marked the resumption of the path of development adumbrated at the 18th Congress of the CPSU(b) for the building of the classless socialist society and the gradual transition to communism. The plan was considered a continuation of the pre-war steps designed to catch up with and surpass the main capitalist countries economically as regards the volume of industrial production per bead of the population. Stalin in September, 1946 reiterated the possibility of the construction of Communism in One Country in the USSR. A year later at the foundation of the Cominform in 1947 at Shklyarska Poremba, Malenkov added that the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) was working on the preparation of a new programme for the party as the existing one was out of date and had to be substituted by a new one.

Running parallel to these developments was the renewed attempt to formulate a long range economic plan to lay the economic and social basis for communism. In mid-1947 Voznesensky posed this question before the Central Committee. He argued that such a plan was imperative for a number of reasons. First, it was directly connected to the preparations for the new programme of the CPSU(b) as well as for the carrying out of the concrete plans which would be drawn up on the basis of the programme; second, as the tasks of expanding the productive forces and the construction of the new and large construction works (railway lines, hydro-electrical stations, metallurgical factories) did not fit into the constraints of the current 5 year plan. While reiterating the pre-war objectives of the general plan as being to overtake the advanced capitalist countries in terms of the per capita industrial production, Voznesensky now proposed a 20 year plan for the construction of Communist society in the USSR. Stalin was requested to support a draft resolution of the Central Committee of the party and the Council of Ministers giving Gosplan the responsibility to produce a 20 year general plan for submission by 15th January, 1948. This authorisation was granted on the 6th August, 1947.

The scale of activity for the drafting of the general economic plan may be judged from the fact that 80 sub-commissions were established under the Chairman of Gosplan to elaborate different aspects of the plan having the participation of economic directors, ministerial experts and academic specialists. In the autumn of 1947 Gosplan re-examined the structure of the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences and modified its working by re-orientating it towards the problems facing the Soviet economy. In 1948 Gosplan, the Academy of Sciences, local party and Soviet organs held conferences to study the productive strength of the economic regions of the country; especial attention was paid to the regions of the North-West, the Central Black Earth regions, the Kuzbass, Kazakhstan, eastern Siberia and the Far East. On the basis of these preparations the framework of the perspective plan was formulated for the different branches of the national economy and the different economic regions of the Soviet Union. A draft report on the general plan for the period 1951-1970 was prepared with necessary balance calculations and other materials for presentation to the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) and the Soviet government. The Special Commission directed by Voznesensky examined the preliminary theses on the general plan in September, 1948.

Despite these energetic beginnings the 20 year General Plan was not to be completed though the theme of the transition to Communism remained a central question for the CPSU(b). The reason for this would appear to be the involvement of Voznesensky as Chairman of Gosplan in attempts to utilise commodity-money relations in the Soviet economy at an inordinate level to the extent that the very survival of the socialist economy was endangered which led to his being removed from responsible positions. Nevertheless the views of Voznesensky on the transition to communism which have come down to us through the efforts of his biographer, V.V. Kolotov have a certain interest. The elaboration of the 20 year plan was inextricably linked in the thinking of Voznesensky with laying the basis of communist society. He considered it his task to work out the laws for the establishment of communism and how the productive forces and productive relations would be connected. In his last discussions with Gosplan workers he argued that each social formation had economic laws, some which operated over different social formations, and some which were operative specifically to a particular social formation. Each social formation had its basic economic law. It was important to uncover the economic laws of Communist construction, that is the paths by which the productive relations of socialism were transformed into the relations of production of Communist society. It was necessary to elucidate the possible contradictions between the forces of production and the relations of production under the Communist mode of production, and the manner in which these might be resolved. These were the very questions which were taken up for discussion by Stalin in his comments on the November 1951 economic discussion.

While the general plan for Communist construction did not see the light of day, a number of projects designed to expand the productive forces of the Soviet Union, which had originated in the pre-war work of Gosplan, and which pertained to electrification, mechanisation, automation, and the chemification of industry did get underway. Electrification of all branches of the national economy was envisaged by the development of electro-chemistry, electro-metallurgy in ferrous and non-ferrous metals, as well as in aluminium, magnesium and their alloys. The electrification of railway transport was considered desirable for economy on fuel and rolling stock. In agriculture electricity was to be extensively used in the mechanisation of livestock farming, threshing and irrigation. In accordance with this general understanding the directives of the 19th congress of the CPSU provided for an increase of electricity by some 80% for the period 1951-55. Electrification of the economy was a central feature of the literature of the period. The grandiose construction works for communist construction included the construction of the Kuibyshev and Stalingrad hydro-electrical stations which were designed to generate about 20,000 million Kwh of electricity annually which was more than half of the total power generated in the USSR before the second world war.

The question of the changes necessary in the relations of production for the impending transition to Communism were chalked out in Stalin’s last major work. After arguing that a continuous expansion of social production was necessary in which a relatively higher rate of expansion of the production of the means of production was necessary so that reproduction on an extended scale could take place, Stalin argued that productive relations also required to be adapted to the growth of the productive forces. Already factors such as the group property of the collective-farms and commodity circulation were beginning to hamper the powerful development of the productive forces as they created obstacles to the full extension of government planning to the whole of the national economy, particularly in the field of agriculture. To eliminate contradictions it was necessary to gradually convert collective farm property into public property and to gradually introduce products-exchange in place of commodity circulation.

Needless to say the programme for developing the productive forces and restructuring the relations of production in line with the transition to communism was demolished after the death of Stalin. Under Khrushchev the question of a relatively higher rate of expansion of the means of production was not considered decisive. The perspective of the replacing of commodity circulation by the exchange of products was terminated. The new programme for ‘communist construction’ explicitly called for the utmost development of commodity-money relations: Group property, the collective farms and commodity circulation were to be preserved and not eliminated. The CPSU(b) now distanced itself from the Leninist understanding that under socialism classes needed to the abolished and that the distinctions between the factory worker and the peasant, between town and country and between mental and physical workers had to be eliminated.

The history of the CPSU(b) confirms that clarity on the question of the class approach and the necessity of defending the Marxist-Leninist approach to the definition of the proletariat is an imperative if a true Communist Party is to be constructed in the former Soviet Union. Only on this basis is it possible for the dictatorship of the proletariat to be constructed which is the decisive pre-condition for the abolition of classes, commodity production and exchange under socialism on the path to the construction of communist society.


  • XVIII S’ezd Vsesoyuznoi Kommunisticheskoi partii (b), Stenograficheskii otchet, Moscow, 1939.
  • V.V. Kolotov, Nikolai Alekseevich Voznesensky, Moscow, 1974.
  • V. Kolotov and G. Petrovichev, N.A. Voznesensky, Moscow, 1963.
  • G. Kozyachenko, ‘Krupnyi deyatel sotsialisticheskogo planirovaniya’, Planovoe Khozyaistvo, No. 10-12, 1973.
  • G. Perov, ‘Na perdenem krae ekonomicheskoi nauki i praktiki sotsialisticheskogo planirovaniya’, Planovoe Khozyaistvo No. 7-9, 1971.
  • Programma i ustav VKP(b), Moscow, 1936.
  • M. Rubinstein, O sozdannii material’no-tekhnichesko bazy Kommunizma, Moscow, 1952.
  • I. Stalin, Economicheskie problemy sotsializma V SSSR, Moscow, 1952.
  • N.A. Voznesensky, Izbrannye proizvedeniya 1931-1947, Moscow, 1979.

Paper presented to the International Scientific-Practical Conference with the Theme ‘Class Analysis in The Modern Communist Movement’ organised by the International Centre for the Formation of the Modern Communist Doctrine in Moscow on the 8-10th November, 1996.

Socialism and Bureaucracy


In the following article, A. Clark examines the problem of bureaucracy from the point of view of a society going through a process of socialist transformation. He suggests that the continually advancing technological revolution in the field of computerisation and the communication and information revolution will serve as the material base to resolve most or even all of the problems associated with bureaucracy.


The first successful socialist seizure of power by the working class did not end, but rather more aptly started with the problems of bureaucracy. Lenin’s initial optimism on having curtailed bureaucracy and its nefarious influence was short-lived. This was replaced by a more realistic view of the nature of the problem. In 1922, Lenin noted that

‘If we take Moscow with its 4,700 communists in responsible positions, we must ask: who is directing whom? I doubt very much whether it can be said that the communists are directing that heap. To tell the truth, they are not directing, they are being directed’. (Lenin: Vol. 33, pp.288-289)

Here Lenin identifies what was to become a perennial theme of the Russian socialist revolution – the relation between the communists and the soviet bureaucracy, which included the struggle between them. Pre-Revolutionary Russia had behind it a long bureaucratic tradition and this bureaucratic past was superimposed, so to speak, on the new revolution. But in addition to the superimposition of this bureaucratic past on the new revolution, there was the fact that the state increasingly began to direct all aspects of the national economy. Even the collective farms, which emerged after the collectivisation drive in the 1930s, although not state institutions, were not completely autonomous from the state. The extension of state ownership and therefore the role of the state in the economy were bound to increase the size of the state administration and therefore a tendency towards bureaucracy was reinforced.

The increase in the size of the means of administration as a consequence of the extension of the regulatory influence of the state over the economy is not necessarily identical with what is referred to as the problem of bureaucracy, although it is often related to it. In other words, bureaucracy and administration are not the same thing even if usually closely related.

The view that state ownership necessarily leads to an increase in bureaucracy is not a valid argument, although it is a favourite argument for those who want to argue a case against socialism. Most theorists on bureaucracy disagree about the exact meaning of the term, and indeed, the problem of bureaucracy will arise mostly in cases where a bureaucracy is incompetent and dysfunctional. The soviet bureaucracy was a case in point. It had largely been inherited from Tsarism. Lenin had considered that, if the soviet bureaucracy rose to the level of competence of a bureaucracy that existed in one of the advanced bourgeois democratic republics, this would have constituted a big step forward for the Workers State. Had Russia gone through a long period of a bourgeois democratic republic, the problems of bureaucracy as it applies to the functional side of the question may hardly have arisen at all, at least no more than in an advanced capitalist country.

In historical terms Russia skipped a long period of bourgeois democratic development, and so the problems of bureaucracy were posed in a rather sharp, and at times, aggressive manner. To the functional side of the question of bureaucracy were added the socio-political problem of the state bureaucracy, or its leading stratum, consolidating itself into a special, privileged caste elevated above the masses.


The struggle against the soviet bureaucracy consolidating itself into a special privileged caste, which could usurp political power, or subvert the struggle for socialism, is part of the history of the Russian socialist revolution. Lenin in his writings on soviet bureaucracy refers to bureaucratic ‘grandees’. Svetlana, Stalin’s daughter, mentions Stalin’s reference to a ‘damned caste’. [1]

Stalin’s role here was decisive. He was in the forefront of the anti-bureaucratic struggle, which included the struggle against the soviet bureaucracy turning itself into a caste, which could potentially seize political power. This has been described by one writer as Stalin’s anti-bureaucrat scenario. [2] Thus in the middle and late 1930s the struggle against the enemies hiding in the soviet bureaucracy came to a head. Even as early as 1919, Lenin had pointed out that

‘The Tsarist bureaucrats began to join the Soviet institutions and practice their bureaucratic methods, they began to assume the colouring of communists and, to succeed better in their careers, to procure membership cards of the Russian Communist Party’. (Lenin: March 1919, Vol. 29; p.183)

The nature of these purges has confused many bourgeois writers on the revolution. Pseudo-left elements, especially Trotskyists, misconstrue the purges completely suggesting that they represented counterrevolution. In reality, the purges were directed against the counterrevolution, which is the emerging new consensus of the more serious writers although they are anti-Stalinist.

That Trotsky could convince his small band of devotees that the purges were counterrevolutionary is not altogether surprising. After losing political power, Trotsky eventually abandoned the Leninist view on combating bureaucracy. Lenin had argued that the struggle against bureaucracy was a long-term process.
Trotsky rejected this view when he found himself outside of the communist party. On the question of fighting bureaucracy, Trotsky went over to a short-term perspective, misleading those who were ignorant or foolish enough to follow him, to believe that the problems arising from bureaucracy could be resolved by means of a ‘political revolution’. This is precisely what Lenin had warned against, i.e., making a political platform out of the issue of bureaucracy.

Trotsky, rejecting Lenin on this issue and his slogan of ‘political revolution’ against the soviet bureaucracy could only serve the interest of bourgeois democratic counterrevolution. It is perhaps necessary to add here that when the Stalinist leadership turned against soviet bureaucracy, they were not going against Lenin’s advice on how to combat bureaucracy. [3] The Stalinist drive against the soviet bureaucracy served several different purposes. For Stalin, like Lenin, there could be no talk of smashing or overthrowing the soviet bureaucracy. While Trotsky and his supporters were putting forward the ultra-left theory about a counterrevolutionary ‘Stalinist’ bureaucracy, the Stalinists, guided by Marxism-Leninism saw the issue not in terms of overthrowing the supposedly counterrevolutionary soviet bureaucracy but rather purging the counterrevolutionary elements in the soviet bureaucracy.

It is clear that Marxist-Leninists, like Stalin, rejected Trotsky’s short-term strategy for fighting bureaucracy based on the idea of a political revolution. Trotsky had reached this conclusion not because it was scientifically correct, but rather because he saw it as the only means of regaining political power. On the question of fighting bureaucracy, Stalin adhered to Lenin’s line.

The more serious bourgeois researchers into these matters come closer to the truth than any Trotskyist interpretation, thus Getty, when referring to the purges of the middle and late 1930s concludes that

‘The evidence suggests that the Ezhovschchina – which is what most people mean by the ‘Great Purges’ – should be redefined. It was not the result of a petrified bureaucracy stamping out and annihilating old radical revolutionaries. In fact, it may have been just the opposite. It is not inconsistent with the evidence to argue that the Ezhovschchina was rather a radical, even hysterical, reaction to bureaucracy’. (J. Arch Getty: The Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party reconsidered – 1933-1938; p.206) [4]

In Getty’s view, then, the Stalinist purges constitute a radical, ‘even hysterical, reaction to bureaucracy’. This was certainly the apogee of radical Stalinist anti-bureaucratism. For Stalin the soviet bureaucracy had to be purged of all actual and potential counterrevolutionary elements. It was not a question of overthrowing the soviet bureaucracy, as the ultra-left Trotskyists would have, but rather of purging it of all counterrevolutionary elements. Many believe that the Soviet Union would not have stood up to the later Nazi aggression had this action not been taken.

Stalin’s anti-bureaucratic credentials can therefore be clearly established, although the problems of bureaucracy remained and could not be solved until society had reached a higher technical level.

In one form or another, to one degree or another previous socialist regimes have had to face this problem. The Titoite revisionists of Yugoslavia saw the solution in terms of decentralisation. In socialist Albania, the Cultural Revolution, with bureaucracy as one of its targets, began when in 1966 the Central Committee sent an open letter to all party members attacking the evils of bureaucracy. There began a significant reduction in the size of bureaucracy and Albania copied the Maoist line. Those bureaucrats who remained had to spend one month each year performing service in manual labour to keep them in touch with the working class and peasantry.

In truth though, this approach, whether in China or Albania, had no long-term benefits. It did however succeed in alienating the administrative staff, who naturally saw themselves as victims and were resentful of the disruption caused to the economy by these anti-bureaucratic drives.

As previously pointed out, the struggle against bureaucracy in a socialist country has two sides to it. First, there is the struggle against the dysfunctional aspect of bureaucracy. This includes the gradual reduction of the size of bureaucracy, while improving its administrative performance. The other aspect of this struggle is that aimed at preventing the bureaucracy, in particular its managerial layers separating itself from the rest of society – and becoming a privileged caste which can seize political power. Because bureaucracy has no particular ideology or ownership of property holding it together the possibility of it actually seizing political power is rather more problematic than is often realised.


For Marxists, the state is the inevitable product of class society. As classes fade away, the state in the sense of bodies of armed men and all its appurtenances, for the repression of one class by another will fade away. Bureaucracy is one of the forms in which state power in class society expresses itself. The function of the state is to defend a particular social set-up and its ruling class. This applies to socialist society with the same force as it applies to capitalist society. As long as capitalism and the bourgeoisie exist all talk about the withering away of the state is foolhardy in the extreme.

The Soviet State illustrates this point clearly. It had to grow in power and strength in order to resist the pressure of imperialism and world reaction. Those, like the Yugoslav revisionists who attacked Stalin for not promoting a premature withering away of the state, simply demonstrate their anarchist and anti-Marxist conceptions of this process. The state rises and falls with class society. Its departure from the historical stage cannot precede the departure of classes.

Just as Marxist-Leninists want a state that serves socialism, they want the bureaucracy to serve socialism as well. Stalin’s struggle with the soviet bureaucracy is well known and documented. This struggle was certainly inevitable. The essence of this struggle was to get the bureaucracy to serve the interest of socialism. But Stalin understood the contradictory nature of the struggle against bureaucracy. He knew the communist must struggle against bureaucracy while using it at the same time. Bureaucracy is a means of administration by specialists, which is deployed in the interest of socialism by the political leadership of the working class, while at the same time fighting its negative aspects.

When the state takes over the running of industry this can lead to an increase in its administrative functions, and hence bureaucracy. However, it is wrong to view an increase in administrative bureaucracy as a logical result of socialism per se. It is rather a result of the technological level of the given society. Thus, the state of technology comes into play when we consider the extent of the process of bureaucratisation. In other words, the process of bureaucratisation is determined by science and technology.

In today’s world of the continuing rapid advances in the technological revolution, with no end in sight, administrative systems are bound to reflect technological advances. This would suggest that administrative systems will decrease in size while increasing in their ability to process and control information. The old views that state ownership and socialism lead inevitably to an increase in administrative bureaucracy will no longer be plausible. Implicit in all this is the withering away of the state and bureaucracy.

This process, i.e., the withering away of the state and bureaucracy is part of the process of achieving communist society based on advancing technological revolution. For these reasons, it is incumbent on serious Marxists to reject pseudo-left Trotskyist theories that bureaucracies under socialism can be overthrown by means of ‘political revolutions’.

A. Clark.


[1] Svetlana Alliluyeva: 20 Letters to a Friend; p. 174.

[2] See Lars Lih’s introduction to: Stalin’s Letters to Molotov.

[3] The term ‘Stalinist’ refers to those who supported Stalin.

[4] The word ‘Ezhovschchina’, from the name Ezhov, sometimes spelt Yezhov, was the name of Nikolai Ezhov, who replaced Yagoda as head of Soviet security and subsequently put in charge of the purges.

Lin Biaoism and the Third World: How Idealism Distorts Class


by Espresso Stalinist

An odd phenomenon is haunting the halls of Maoism – a chauvinist set of ideas loosely forged from the writings of Chinese military officer and politician Lin Biao. These ideas, to the extent to which they form coherent ideology at all, can roughly be termed “Lin Biaoism.” To be perfectly clear, I am under no impression that “Lin Biaoism” is an entirely new ideology. Lin Biao’s works are not significant enough to constitute a new stage of revolutionary science. What does exist is a wing of Maoism, usually associated with the “third-worldist” variety, that upholds the works of Lin Biao in theory and practice. The ideology, such as it is, is not worth refuting. However, its underlying assumptions about proletarian internationalism, imperialism, revolutionary theory and practice are.

I fully expect upon publication these thoughts will have piles of ashes heaped upon them as “first worldism,” as “a total misrepresentation” of the ideas I criticize, and overall rejection of this piece as a reactionary and revisionist writing dedicated to attacking Lin Biao’s theories. But this is par for the course with “third-worldists” of all kinds, who much like anarchists dismiss all criticisms by claiming the author knows not what they criticize. In this essay, I am not concerned with what I allegedly do not know – I am only concerned with what we do know. In this case, what we know about the problems in Lin Biao’s theories.

Lin Biao (1907-1971) was a Chinese revisionist military officer and politician. Born in December 5th, 1907, he graduated from the famous Whampoa Military Academy, then under the command of Chiang Kai-shek. After graduation he joined the armed forces of the Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalists. During the Northern Expedition he joined the Communist Party. Following the 1927 Shanghai massacre of thousands of workers, trade unionists and Communist Party members, which began the Chinese Civil War, Lin defected to the Red Army. He participated in the Long March and became known as one of the CPC’s most brilliant military commanders and an authority on guerrilla warfare. During the Japanese invasion of China, Lin commanded troops in the Battle of Pingxingguan, one of the few battlefield successes for the Chinese during the first period of the Second Sino-Japanese War. He was forced to retire from active service in 1937 after a serious battlefield injury complicated by tuberculosis and left for Moscow, where from 1937 to 1942 he acted as the representative of the CPC to the Executive Committee of the Communist International, or Comintern.

After the end of World War II and the Soviet liberation of Manchuria from the Japanese, fighting resumed between the Communists and Nationalists. Lin led victorious campaigns of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Manchuria and throughout Northern China against the KMT forces, including the famous Pingjin Campaign, which led to the liberation of Beijing in 1949. His forces then resumed attacks on the KMT in the southeast, which led to securing the major cities of Wuhan and Guangzhou. He was named one of the “Ten Marshals” after the Communist victory and the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Lin mostly abstained from participating politics in the 1950s. In 1962 Lin succeeded Peng Dehuai as commander of the PLA, starting a rectification program among officers and soldiers stressing political education, eventually culminating in the abolition of ranks in the PLA. Lin would rise to political prominence again during the Cultural Revolution.

Lin Biao was the most prominent supporter of the cult of personality around Mao, working to develop it within the PLA in particular. In 1964 it was he who compiled some of Mao’s writings into a handbook, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, also known as the Little Red Book, and ensured it was mass-produced and distributed, first within the PLA, and then throughout the entire People’s Republic.

In September 1965, Lin Biao’s most famous work, “Long Live the Victory of People’s War!” was published, which contains the vast majority of his political theories. It heavily promoted Mao Tse-tung’s theory of people’s war:

“Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s theory of people’s war has been proved by the long practice of the Chinese revolution to be in accord with the objective laws of such wars and to be invincible. It has not only been valid for China, it is a great contribution to the revolutionary struggles of the oppressed nations and peoples throughout the world. [….] Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s theory of people’s war is not only a product of the Chinese revolution, but has also the characteristics of our epoch.”

And even proclaimed it to be universal:

“It must be emphasized that Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s theory of the establishment of rural revolutionary base areas and the encirclement of the cities from the countryside is of outstanding and universal practical importance for the present revolutionary struggles of all the oppressed nations and peoples, and particularly for the revolutionary struggles of the oppressed nations and peoples in Asia, Africa and Latin America against imperialism and its lackeys.”

It heavily supported the Maoist theory of the revolutionary movement spreading from the countryside to the cities:

“The countryside, and the countryside alone, can provide the broad areas in which the revolutionaries can manoeuvre freely. The countryside, and the countryside alone, can provide the revolutionary bases from which the revolutionaries can go forward to final victory.”

Lin Biao believed this even to the point of arguing against the modernization of the PLA in favor of people’s war. More significantly, in perhaps the most influential part of his pamphlet to modern-day “Lin Biaoists,” Lin Biao applies the Maoist concept of people’s war to the international situation:

“Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called ‘the cities of the world’, then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute ‘the rural areas of the world’. Since World War II, the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously. In a sense, the contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.”

At the 11th Plenum of the 8th CC in August 1966, a meeting presided over by Mao and guarded by Lin’s troops, the famous big-character poster reading, “Bombard the Headquarters!” was unveiled, written by Mao himself. This was a declaration of war against the “right” elements Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping and other leaders of the party apparatus, and the practical launching of what would come to be called the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.” During the Cultural Revolution, after initial control by the Red Guards proved too tenuous the PLA under Lin Biao’s command effectively took over the role of controlling the country previously held by the Communist Party. The GPCR had virtually destroyed the Communist Party and liquidated its organizations, but had greatly strengthened the political role of the army, which largely controlled the provincial Revolutionary Committees and many Ministries and economic enterprises.

The Ninth Congress of the Communist Party of China was held in 1969, during which former President Liu Shaoqi was removed from all posts and expelled from the party. During this Congress Lin built up the cult of Mao more than ever, declaring Mao’s though to be a “higher and completely new stage” of Marxism. He summed up the ideology of Maoism, then called “Mao Tse-tung Thought,” thusly:

“The Communist Party of China owes all its achievements to the wise leadership of Chairman Mao and these achievements constitute victories for Mao Tsetung Thought. For half a century now, in leading the great struggle of the people of all the nationalities of China for accomplishing the new-democratic revolution, in leading China’s great struggle for socialist revolution and socialist construction and in the great struggle of the contemporary international communist movement against imperialism, modern revisionism and the reactionaries of various countries, Chairman Mao has integrated the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of revolution, has inherited, defended and developed Marxism-Leninism in the political, military, economic, cultural, philosophical and other spheres, and has brought Marxism-Leninism to a higher and completely new stage. Mao Tsetung Thought is Marxism-Leninism of the era in which imperialism is heading for total collapse and socialism is advancing to world-wide victory. The entire history of our Party has borne out this truth: Departing from the leadership of Chairman Mao and Mao Tsetung Thought, our Party will suffer setbacks and defeats; following Chairman Mao closely and acting on Mao Tsetung Thought, our Party will advance and triumph. We must forever remember this lesson. Whoever opposes Chairman Mao, whoever opposes Mao Tsetung Thought, at any time or under any circumstances, will be condemned and punished by the whole Party and the whole country.”

During his report to the Ninth Congress, Lin went so far as to proclaim that according to Marxist theory, the main component of the state is the military:

“The People’s Liberation Army is the mighty pillar of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Chairman Mao has pointed out many times: From the Marxist point of view the main component of the state is the army.”

Lin Biao was built up as Mao’s successor to such an extent that during the Ninth Congress, one of the very few congresses held in Chinese history, the idea of Lin as successor in the event of Mao’s resignation or death was literally written into the Constitution of the CPC. It was passed on April 14th, 1969. It stated:

“Comrade Lin Piao has consistently held high the great red banner of Mao Tse-tung’s Thought and he has most loyally and resolutely carried out the defended Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s proletarian revolutionary line. Comrade Lin Piao is Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s closest comrade-in-arms and successor.”

This favored position would not last. A mere four years later, on August 1973, the Tenth Party Congress stated:

“The Congress indignantly denounced the Lin Piao anti-Party clique for its crimes. All the delegates firmly supported this resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China: Expel Lin Piao, the bourgeois careerist, conspirator, counter-revolutionary double-dealer, renegade and traitor from the Party once and for all.”

The events leading up to this posthumous denunciation are highly controversial. Lin Biao, along with several members of his family, died mysteriously in a plane crash over Mongolia in September 1971 in circumstances that are still heavily in dispute. It is generally accepted he was trying to flee to the Soviet Union. According to the official Chinese version of events, Lin Biao had attempted to initiate a pro-Soviet coup d’etat that would topple Mao Tse-tung and Zhou En-lai from power to establish a military dictatorship in China, and when he failed in this endeavor, he attempted to flee and sought refuge in the U.S.S.R. As the plane approached the Mongolian border, a gun fight broke out, causing it to crash. Whatever the case, Lin Biao and all on board died in the crash.

In his political diary, Albanian Marxist-Leninist leader Enver Hoxha characterized the Lin Biao affair as more frivolous than a James Bond thriller:

“The question arises: Why should Lin Piao murder Mao and why take his place, when he himself occupied precisely the main position after Mao, was his deputy appointed by the Constitution and by Mao himself? Lin Piao had great renown in China. The Cultural Revolution, ‘the work of Comrade Mao’, had built up his prestige. Then, what occurred for this ‘mutual political trust and the same ideological conviction’ between Mao and Lin Piao to suddenly disappear to the point that the latter organized an attempt on Mao’s life? And this act looks like an episode from ‘James Bond’”

(Hoxha, Reflections on China Vol. I, p. 465).

The rift between Mao and Lin needs to be expressed in solid political terms and not personal terms such as “lust for power” or “jealously” as bourgeois historians are so fond to do. Hard evidence on this matter seems to be scarce due to a lack of surviving evidence, but a few things are undeniable.

For example, Lin was on his way to the Soviet Union because of a split with Mao and his supporters over domestic and foreign policy. In September 1970, the grouping around Mao Tse-tung pressed for a Fourth Five-Year-Plan, which involved a massive program for mechanization of agriculture to be financed by reducing expenditure on the armed forces. This reduction was to be made possible by bringing about a détente with the United States. Lin Biao’s pro-Soviet faction opposed détente with the U.S. This was denounced by Mao and Zhou’s group as “ultra-leftism.” In December 1970, a movement began for a revival of the provincial Communist Party committees, which had been shattered by the Cultural Revolution. This was strongly opposed by Lin and the army leadership, since it would threaten the military’s ascendancy.

I see only two possibilities to this story, and both are somewhat related:

1) Lin Biao did plan and attempt to carry out a military coup against Mao because he wanted to “save” the country and the party from what he saw as a wrong course, or;

2) It was a conspiracy of the more pro-American elements of the CPC, including Mao and Zhou Enlai, to eliminate the most prominent opponent to their domestic and foreign policy.

In either case, clearly there was a huge rift with Mao’s policies, including regarding military control following the GPCR, and the controversial Chinese foreign policy of the late 1960s and 70s.

It is clear that the contradiction between Mao Tse-tung and Zhou Enlai’s group and Lin Biao’s group was a conflict between the wings of the CPC supporting reconciliation and alignment with U.S. imperialism and modernization of society, and supporting rapprochement with Soviet social-imperialism and the continuation of Lin’s “people’s war’ policies, respectively. In December 1970, Mao Tse-tung said American journalist Edgar Snow that he would like to meet President Nixon, and in July 1971, U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger made a secret visit to China. People’s Daily announced soon after that Zhou Enlai had extended an invitation to Nixon to visit China. This no doubt further inflamed conflicts, and it was obvious there were rifts in the Party from 1970-71.

Declassified transcripts of Mao’s conversations with Nixon record him making an unmistakable reference to the “Lin Biao Affair” in 1972:

President Nixon: When the Chairman says he voted for me, he voted for the lesser of two evils.

Chairman Mao: I like rightists. People say you are rightists, that the Republican Party is to the right, that Prime Minister Heath is also to the right.

President Nixon: And General DeGaulle.

Chairman Mao: DeGaulle is a different question. They also say the Christian Democratic Party of West Germany is also to the right. I am comparatively happy when these people on the right come into power.

President Nixon: I think the important thing to note is that in America, at least at this time, those on the right can do what those on the left talk about.

Dr. Kissinger: There is another point, Mr. President. Those on the left are pro-Soviet and would not encourage a move towards the People’s Republic, and in fact criticize you on those grounds.

Chairman Mao: Exactly that. Some are opposing you. In our country also there is a reactionary group which is opposed to our contact with you. The result was they got on an airplane and fled abroad.

Prime Minister Chou: Maybe you know this.

Chairman Mao: Throughout the whole world, the U.S. intelligence reports are comparatively accurate. The next was Japan. As for the Soviet Union, they finally went to dig out the corpses, but they didn’t say anything about it.

Prime Minister Chou: In Outer Mongolia.”

Before long, China threw off its former policy of anti-imperialism, arguing for a strengthening of NATO, support for German reunification and West European integration, support for U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty, declining support for national liberation movements in South Asia, its support for reactionary “liberation” movements supported by imperialist powers (such as UNITA in Angola), and its support of the semi-colonies of imperialist powers, such as Iran, Pakistan, Zaire, fascist Chile and the Philippines.

So, now that I’ve finished this grand history lesson, how does this relate back to modern Maoism? More than you might think after reading, actually. Maoist supporters of the “new-democratic” theory of the Chinese Revolution, as well as the peasant-based theory of “people’s war” largely seek their justifications in Lin’s pamphlet. We have already examined Lin’s representation of the international situation in his 1965 pamphlet. Lin Biao, in an attempt to apply the Maoist concept of people’s war to the international struggle, pioneered an early version of Mao’s later “theory of three worlds” which perceives the world as being a global countryside surrounding a global city. His line as expressed in “Long Live The Victory of People’s War!” represents the absolutizing of the contradiction between imperialism and oppressed nations – and that, more than anything else, is what is key. Lin Biao’s ideas do not speak of the contradiction (at the time) between two opposing systems, socialism and capitalism, or of the contradiction between capital and labor in the capitalist countries, or of the contradiction between the imperialist powers. He misunderstands the entire foundation for the modern revolutionary movement, and raises his vision of the “global countryside” surrounding the “global city” out of dialectical context, treating it as the principal contradiction in the world.

Modern third-worldism is largely based on Lin Biaoism, though it has perhaps its earliest roots in the theories of Mirza Sultan-Galiyev. Sultan-Galiyev was a Tatar pan-Islamic nationalist opposed by Lenin and Stalin. He later began conspiratorial activity, including tried to ally with Trotsky but was rejected, and had ties to the anti-Soviet counterrevolutionary Bashmachi movement. Among other beliefs, Sultan-Galiyev thought that the Muslim peoples were “proletarian peoples” and thus national movements among them were socialist revolutions, that in places inhabited by Muslims, the Communist Party should “integrate” with Islam, which should be brought about by a special Muslim party, and that geographically large territorial units should be formed embracing as many Muslims as possible. He had dreams of creating a pan-Turanian Turkish-Tatar state stretching across Central Asia. He was eventually arrested for his conspiratorial activity and died in prison. Like Sultan-Galiyev, Lin Biao’s analysis is not class-based, and in fact Lin’s pamphlet contains theses very similar to that of “Sultan-Galiyevism”:

“If North American and western Europe can be called ‘the cities of the world’, then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute ‘the rural areas of the world’…the contemporary world revolution…presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples.”

Obviously, no Marxist can deny the contradiction between the imperialist powers and the colonial and semi-colonial countries, which is a major contradiction in the world we live in. Independence and national liberation struggles for independence and national sovereignty led against imperialism is a just struggle which deserves the support of Marxist-Leninists and the world proletariat. But that’s not all Lin Biao does. Here, while recognizing the existence of revolutionary situations and movement in countries in the “third world,” he treats the “third world” as an undifferentiated whole, exaggerating this situation into one in which the entire “third world” is ripe everywhere for revolution. What is also striking about his “countryside versus city” division of the world is his non-class view of the “third world,” its omission of the basic contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and its disregarding of classes and class struggle within those countries, and an utter lack of analysis of the class nature of the regimes which rule there. This way the contradiction between the oppressed peoples and the reactionary and pro-imperialist powers is absolutized.

But the modern preachers of Lin Biaoism go further than to label the “third world” as leader of the liberation movement or the main force in the struggle against imperialism – frequently they proclaim it the only revolutionary force in the world. But to speak about the “third world” as the main force against imperialism and as the main force of the revolution such as the followers of Lin Biaoism, of third-worldism and other theories do ignores (or in some cases intentionally glosses over) the objective fact that the majority of the countries of the “third world” are ruled by agents of imperialism and neo-colonialism. The international view of Lin Biaoism belittles the size and importance of the comprador bourgeoisie and other pro-imperialist forces of the “third world.” To speak of the “third world” as a undifferentiated whole without making any distinction between genuine anti-imperialist revolutionary forces and pro-imperialist, reactionary and fascist ruling classes is to abandon the class struggle and the teachings of Marxism-Leninism openly. It means nothing less than to preach opportunism which cause confusion and disorder among the revolutionary proletariat.

Further, Lin Biaoism says that these countries are the “main anti-imperialist force” in the world. It logically stands to reason that it is not the business of revolutionaries to topple this “main force.” By now, it becomes increasingly apparent that Lin Biaoism is not a scientific approach to Marxism and is in opposition to proletarian internationalism. Lin Biao’s theories deny the role of the vanguard party in both the “third world” and the “first world” nations. Lin Biao’s concepts obscure the character of class struggle, creates illusions and misleads the people. Lin Biaoism is claimed by its followers to be the strategy for revolution today, and yet this strategy has no place for the proletariat or the Marxist-Leninist party. It claims to be a valuable contribution towards a proper analysis of the forces of the world, and yet classes are not mentioned.

Lin Biao’s theoretical understanding is eerily similar to that put forward by Karl Kautsky at the beginning of the century. Kautsky, on the eve of the First World War, postulated that in the field of international relations, a new age was approaching “in which the competition among states will be disabled by their cartel relationship.” He argued “there is nothing further to prevent […] finally replacing imperialism by a holy alliance of the imperialists.” This state of affairs is what he referred to as “Ultra Imperialism.” Kautsky falsely predicted the onset of a new phase of the elimination of contradictions between imperialist and capitalist states. This gave way to reformism, since it remained purely focused on combating “hegemonism” and sees imperialism as a policy, which could be adopted or rescinded at the whim of the ruling class, instead of the latest stage in the development of capitalism. Lenin in contrast, viewed imperialism as the highest and last stage of capitalism – monopoly capitalism that needs the domination of other countries and war. Lenin strongly criticized this theory of Kautsky’s, pointing out his denial of the connection between the rule of monopolies and imperialism, as well as his attempts to portray the rule of finance capital as somehow “lessening” the contradictions inherent in the world economy, when in reality it increases and aggravates them. Lenin summed up thusly:

“The question is: what means other than war could there be under capitalism to overcome the disparity between the development of productive forces and the accumulation of capital on the one side, and the division of colonies and spheres of influence for finance capital on the other?”

(V.I. Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism).

Uneven development among nations means that capitalists internationally frequently have radically different interests and not all of these interests can be met by full integration of their economic activity within the global marketplace. Any alliance, any “unity” within the capitalist camp is subject to how it benefits the profits of the individual capitalists within such an alliance. Unlike workers, who are able to reap benefits from the struggles of workers all over the world, a capitalist isn’t necessarily benefited by the success of other capitalists. As capitalists are forced to compete for what they perceive to be a limited number of material and market resources, the bonds which have formerly bound them begin to deteriorate.

Lin Biaoist formulations of the world proclaim no actual, concrete program for anti-imperialist struggle, or even for support of national liberation movements of oppressed peoples. What they do, quite in the style of the idealists of the past, is to cloak the question of revolution in bombastic-sounding phrases. Lin Biaoism implicitly capitulates to imperialism by including the reactionaries and comprador bourgeoisie in the same ranks as the people and the revolutionaries of the “third world.” This can only lead to obscuring the radical contradictions characteristic of the monopoly stage of capitalism. Interestingly, Lin Biao portrays imperialism as the main enemy of the world’s people, and yet the same set of theories were used by Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping to ally themselves with imperialism. This is not just a lesson for those in the “first,” “second” or “third” worlds, but the entire world. While some of the supporters of the theory may disagree with specific tactics in the examples I have cited, the overall logic is inescapable.

Of course, there are a never-ending stream of national-chauvinist Marxists who stand ready and willing to assure us that this position of Lin’s conforms more closely to reality than, say, those of Trotsky, who in this case acts as a stand-in for anyone opposed to Lin Biao’s theories, or J. Sakai’s, or Sultan-Galiyev’s, or whoever they happen to be cheering on. These chauvinists are usually quick to conjure demons from oblivion at the sign of the slightest opposition to their theories, such as “Trotskyism” or “Eurocentric” Marxism. Sometimes they are even brave enough to challenge traditional Marxism, which they characterize as ‘Eurocentric” or “mechanical.” As we all know, Marxism consists of choosing between envisioning a dramatic repetition of the events of the Chinese Revolution on a global scale with isolated urban areas in a sea of peasant revolution, or being accused of Euro-chauvinism ourselves. The endless need of revisionists to figure out which demonstrably incorrect line is “closer” to reality never ceases to amaze me, and the debate between Trotskyism, a stand-in for supposedly “Eurocentric” traditional Marxism and Lin Biaoism and its proclamation that the the entire so-called “third world” or “global south” is ready and ripe for revolution is no exception to that.

Today there is much talk about the “first,” “second” or “third” world, a world of “colonized” countries versus “colonizer” countries, of the “global south versus the global north,” etc. All of these terms, of course, conceal the real class nature of these countries. But this is not all, oh no dear reader, not quite all indeed! For recently, these ideas have further paved the way for its modern adherents to apply class labels to entire nations, saying that the “first world” represents a global bourgeoisie and making such claims as the first world populations not representing the true proletariat. Some go even further, and take Lin Biaoist views to outright denying the first world proletariat’s revolutionary potential, dismissing it as inherently reactionary as a class. At first glance, nothing would appear stranger than a group of so-called Marxists in the first world decrying the revolutionary potential of its people. But in fact, it’s no secret that this odd trend of Maoism has emerged as one of the most outwardly vocal, if not particularly politically effective, voices on the American left in recent years.

Whether they claim there are no significant exploited groups in the first world, or that internally colonized peoples are the only real proletariat, or some other variation thereof, modern third-worldism attempts to peddle the same Lin Biaoist theories, despite what differences they may have. Some confuse class as income, while others do not. Some claim that class is one’s personal ideology, i.e. reactionary workers are bourgeois or labor aristocrat, while others do not. Some, like author J. Sakai, claim that every person of European descent in the United States is a net exploiter from the American colonies onwards, and that the U.S. has no proletariat of its own but exists parasitically on colonial peoples, oppressed nations and national minorities, whom he labels the “true proletariat.” Therefore, the entire white working class is reactionary rather than revolutionary and this has always been the case, and therefore working class solidarity between whites, blacks, Hispanics, Natives, Asians and other peoples is impossible. He recognizes white privilege in the form of Euro-American workers being a privileged labor aristocracy which possesses a petty-bourgeois reformist ideology rather than a revolutionary proletarian one. Sakai’s solution is to call for a kind of Bundist separatism, with each racial group creating its own independent organization.

Before I continue, it must be made clear that the labor aristocracy, that is, the stratum of highly-paid and privileged workers bribed by the imperialist bourgeoisie by means of superprofits extracted from colonies and neo-colonies, certainly exists. This has been recognized by all the Marxist classics ever since the strata of the labor aristocracy emerged in Britain in the mid-19th century. This tendency was recognized by Marx and Engels, and they traced this opportunism within the working class movement directly back to British imperialism:

“[T]he English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that the ultimate aim of this most bourgeois of all nations would appear to be the possession, alongside the bourgeoisie, of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat. In the case of a nation which exploits the entire world this is, of course, justified to some extent”

(F. Engels, “Engels to Marx in London,” 7 October 1858).

These views remained consistent over the course of several decades, as seen in this letter from Engels to Kautsky dated twenty-four years later:

“You ask me what the English workers think about colonial policy. Well, exactly the same as they think about politics in general: the same as what the bourgeois think. There is no workers’ party here, there are only Conservatives and Liberal-Radicals, and the workers gaily share the feast of England’s monopoly of the world market and the colonies”

(F. Engels, “Engels to Karl Kautsky in Vienna,” 12 September 1882).

V.I. Lenin also identified the source of bribery for the labor aristocracy as the commercial and industrial monopoly of the imperialist countries and their export of capital to the colonial countries:

“Before the war [World War I – E.S.], it was calculated that the three richest countries—Britain, France and Germany—got between eight and ten thousand million francs a year from the export of capital alone, apart from other sources.

It goes without saying that, out of this tidy sum, at least five hundred millions can be spent as a sop to the labour leaders and the labour aristocracy, i.e., on all sorts of bribes. The whole thing boils down to nothing but bribery. It is done in a thousand different ways: by increasing cultural facilities in the largest centres, by creating educational institutions, and by providing co-operative, trade union and parliamentary leaders with thousands of cushy jobs. This is done wherever present-day civilised capitalist relations exist. It is these thousands of millions in super-profits that form the economic basis of opportunism in the working-class movement. In America, Britain and France we see a far greater persistence of the opportunist leaders, of the upper crust of the working class, the labour aristocracy; they offer stronger resistance to the Communist movement. That is why we must be prepared to find it harder for the European and American workers’ parties to get rid of this disease than was the case in our country. We know that enormous successes have been achieved in the treatment of this disease since the Third International was formed, but we have not yet finished the job; the purging of the workers’ parties, the revolutionary parties of the proletariat all over the world, of bourgeois influences, of the opportunists in their ranks, is very far from complete.”

(V.I. Lenin, “The Second Congress of the Communist International”)

“They [Social-Democrats] are just as much traitors to socialism… They represent that top section of workers who have been bribed by the bourgeoisie… for in all the civilised, advanced countries the bourgeoisie rob—either by colonial oppression or by financially extracting ‘gain’ from formally independent weak countries—they rob a population many times larger than that of ‘their own’ country. This is the economic factor that enables the imperialist bourgeoisie to obtain superprofits, part of which is used to bribe the top section of the proletariat and convert it into a reformist, opportunist petty bourgeoisie that fears revolution.”

(V.I. Lenin., “Letter to the Workers of Europe and America,” Pravda; No. 16, January 24, 1919)

Exploitation of the world by imperialist countries and their monopoly position on the global market, as well as their colonial possessions, allowed sections of their proletariat to become bourgeois, and allowed a section of their proletariat to allow themselves to be bribed by the bourgeoisie. Unlike modern third-worldists however, who dismiss the whole of the population of imperialist countries as unexploited and bourgeois, while recognizing the social and economic basis for opportunism and revisionism in the more developed countries, Lenin spoke of the labor aristocracy as a minority of the workers, and that it was the task of the revolutionaries to expose them:

“Neither we nor anyone else can calculate precisely what portion of the proletariat is following and will follow the social-chauvinists and opportunists. This will be revealed only by the struggle, it will be definitely decided only by the socialist revolution. But we know for certain that the ‘defenders of the fatherland’ in the imperialist war represent only a minority. And it is therefore our duty, if we wish to remain socialists to go down lower and deeper, to the real masses; this is the whole meaning and the whole purport of the struggle against opportunism. By exposing the fact that the opportunists and social-chauvinists are in reality betraying and selling the interests of the masses, that they are defending the temporary privileges of a minority of the workers, that they are the vehicles of bourgeois ideas and influences, that they are really allies and agents of the bourgeoisie, we teach the masses to appreciate their true political interests, to fight for socialism and for the revolution…”

(V.I. Lenin, “Imperialism and the Split in Socialism”).

He continued:

“The only Marxist line in the world labour movement is to explain to the masses the inevitability and necessity of breaking with opportunism, to educate them for revolution by waging a relentless struggle against opportunism […]”

(V.I. Lenin, “Imperialism and the Split in Socialism”).

Enver Hoxha analyzed the origins and class nature of the labor aristocracy, and noted its role in the advent of revisionism and reformism in the Communist Parties as well, particularly in Europe:

“The development of the economy in the West after the war [World War II – E.S.] also exerted a great influence on the spread of opportunist and revisionist ideas in the communist parties. True, Western Europe was devastated by the war but its recovery was carried out relatively quickly. The American capital which poured into Europe through the ‘Marshall Plan’ made it possible to reconstruct the factories, plants, transport and agriculture so that their production extended rapidly. This development opened up many jobs and for a long period, not only absorbed all the free labour force but even created a certain shortage of labour.

This situation, which brought the bourgeoisie great superprofits, allowed it to loosen its purse-strings a little and soften the labour conflicts to some degree. In the social field, in such matters as social insurance, health, education, labour legislation etc., it took some measures for which the working class had fought hard. The obvious improvement of the standard of living of the working people in comparison with that of the time of the war and even before the war, the rapid growth of production, which came as a result of the reconstruction of industry and agriculture and the beginning of the technical and scientific revolution, and the full employment of the work force, opened the way to the flowering amongst the unformed opportunist element of views about the development of capitalism without class conflicts, about its ability to avoid crises, the elimination of the phenomenon of unemployment etc. That major teaching of Marxism-Leninism, that the periods of peaceful development of capitalism becomes a source for the spread of opportunism, was confirmed once again. The new stratum of the worker aristocracy, which increased considerably during this period, began to exert an ever more negative influence in the ranks of the parties and their leaderships by introducing reformist and opportunist views and ideas.

Under pressure of these circumstances, the programs of these communist parties were reduced more and more to democratic and reformist minimum programs, while the idea of the revolution and socialism became ever more remote. The major strategy of the revolutionary transformation of society gave way to the minor strategy about current problems of the day which was absolutized and became the general political and ideological line.”

(Enver Hoxha. Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism. Tirana: 8 Nëntori Publishing House. 1980. pp. 82-83.)

So as we can see, the correct Marxist-Leninist analysis of the labor aristocracy was upheld by all the classics. However, none of this says that a proletariat ceases to exist in those countries. In contrast, modern “third-worldism,” sometimes called “Maoism Third-Worldism” and sometimes not, is the belief that first world workers are non-revolutionary and have the status of a global labor aristocracy lacking a proletarian revolutionary consciousness or revolutionary potential at all, since supposedly imperial capital has tamed them with flashy electronics and consumer products, thus bribing them into passivity. Thus, according to this mode of thought, first world leftists must place their hopes for a revolution on the peoples of the third world. This set of ideas was a common theme in the Maoist-inspired student movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Others since then, particularly since the 1980s, have taken this further and claimed that first world workers actually aren’t exploited at all, and are paid more than the value of their labor, thus making them part of the bourgeoisie complicit in exploiting the third world. In this version of the formulation, the first world is outright reactionary altogether. The only debate between the two types is whether there are any significantly exploited groups in the first world at all, such as prisoners, lumpenproletarians, blacks, Chicanos, etc., or if these people also share in the exploitation of the third world along with their white counterparts.

One of the most common characteristics of modern third-worldism is the tendency to blame the “first world” masses for not rising against capital, and to uphold this as evidence that they posses no revolutionary potential at all. This is especially curious as third-worldists exist almost exclusively within the “first world” themselves, and then mostly in the United States. To explain how they arrived at their revolutionary consciousness, such as it is, they are obliged to make metaphors to individuals like John Brown, and claim that the real reason socialism is not victorious in “first world” countries is that the people there recognize their material interests in following the imperialist bourgeoisie. Some even negate class as an economic classification by saying having a reactionary ideology also makes them labor aristocrats. Of course, if one blames “first world” workers for following and identifying with the dominant ideology of the bourgeoisie, the logical conclusion is to use that same standard for the large amounts of reactionary ideology in the “third world,” too, which tellingly, none of them dare to do. As Marx famously wrote:

“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it”

(Karl Marx, “The German Ideology”).

What third-worldists fail to realize is that part and parcel of the material conditions in the U.S. is being subjected to the most powerful, most all pervasive, most advanced apparatus of ideological hegemony the world has ever known. In essence they are asking why socialist ideas are not more widely accepted in the country with the most powerful, advanced, developed and pervasive capitalist media. Most chauvinist of all their justification in relying on the “third world” workers to make the revolution there is that in contrast to the workers in developed countries, who apparently enjoy too many benefits in their minds, the “third world” workers are truly the only one who “have nothing to lose but their chains.” Words cannot describe how incredibly ignorant, and more than that patronizing it is for someone living in the “first world” to point their finger at the entire working class of various nations and declare that they have “nothing to lose” and thus should rise up and potentially face maiming, torture and death so that the third-worldist can sit in his comfortable air-conditioned domicile and post photos expressing “solidarity” on social media. It is strictly up to the parties, organizations and workers themselves in those countries to determine if the time and conditions are ripe for a revolution. Until then, it is arrogant, and dare I say racist, to declare that the entire working population of vast nations have “nothing to lose.” If these renegades actually visited a developing country, they might find that everywhere they went they could find people who would strongly disagree they have “nothing to lose.”

The absolutizing of the phrase which famously ends the Manifesto, namely that the workers “have nothing to lose but their chains,” is just one more example of a recent trend of making political stances out of simple slogans, and increased sloganeering to disguise political dishonesty or even reaction. It’s obvious to any ready that the original phrase was meant by Marx and Engels as a rallying call, instead of an excuse to only classify those people who “have nothing to lose” as revolutionaries or workers. Everyone on the planet, even those living in the most miserable conditions, have “something to lose,” if only their lives and their families. 

It is accurate to say that the roots of modern third-worldism are based in Maoism itself, in the peasant-based theories of Mao and especially Lin Biao. The three worlds theory, or the “theory of the three-part world” developed by Mao Tse-tung in 1974 was based entirely on China’s strategic interests. It was part of Chinese foreign policy in the 1970s as I have mentioned, and part of it was claiming U.S. imperialism was weak, citing for example its defeat in Vietnam, whereas Soviet social-imperialism was a rising and more dangerous imperialist power and a growing threat to humanity, akin to Nazi Germany. This position was supported dogmatically under Hua Guofeng but quietly dropped in the 1980s after the rise of Deng Xiaoping to the leadership of China when Sino-Soviet ties improved. But, as reactionary and mistaken as Mao’s three worlds theory might have been, and opportunist and anti-communist as was the Chinese foreign policy during that era, one cannot say Mao Tse-tung was a third-worldist in the modern sense by any stretch of the imagination. As perverse as the “theory of the three worlds” might be, present-day third-worldists are a perversion even of that shaky theoretical basis.

Modern “third-worldism” – which is an ideological variety of Lin Biaoism – existing outside of the internet has always been negligible. While some early third-worldist movements did exist as activists, none of them have been particularly large and were soon reduced almost exclusively to an internet presence. This has been the case since then. It can therefore be (rightly) inferred that third-worldists almost never have first-hand experience of life and material conditions or conditions of struggle in “third world” countries. It’s always struck me as curious that third-worldism has little to no following in the “third world” itself.

Indeed, the most commonly heard statement comrades from the “third world” made to American Marxist-Leninists is that our struggle here, in the very heart of imperialism, will be decisive. Mao Tse-tung himself made many such statements, such as this one from 1970:

“While massacring the people in other countries, U.S. imperialism is slaughtering the white and black people in its own country. Nixon’s fascist atrocities have kindled the raging flames of the revolutionary mass movement in the United States. The Chinese people firmly support the revolutionary struggle of the American people. I am convinced that the American people who are fighting valiantly will ultimately win victory and that the fascist rule in the United States will inevitably be defeated”

(Mao Tse-tung, “People of the World, Unit and Defeat the U.S. Aggressors and All Their Running Dogs”).

As far back as 1949, Mao spoke of the class struggles within the United States between the people and the ruling class:

“To start a war, the U.S. reactionaries must first attack the American people. They are already attacking the American people – oppressing the workers and democratic circles in the United States politically and economically and preparing to impose fascism there. The people of the United States should stand up and resist the attacks of the U.S. reactionaries. I believe they will”

(Mao Tse-tung, “Talk with American Correspondent Anna Louise Strong”).

As well, in a telegram to William Z. Foster in 1945, Mao wrote regarding the defeat of of Earl Browder’s revisionist and liquidationist line:

“Beyond all doubt the victory of the U.S. working class and its vanguard, the Communist Party of the United States, over Browder’s revisionist-capitulationist line will contribute signally to the great cause in which the Chinese and American peoples are engaged the cause of carrying on the war against Japan and of building a peaceful and democratic world after the war”

(Mao Tse-tung, “Telegram to Comrade William Z. Foster”).

In 1963, Mao also issued a statement supporting working class solidarity in the United States against systematic racism:

“I call upon the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals, enlightened elements of the bourgeoisie, and other enlightened personages of all colours in the world, white, black, yellow, brown, etc., to unite to oppose the racial discrimination practiced by U.S. imperialism and to support the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimination. In the final analysis, a national struggle is a question of class struggle. In the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling clique among the whites which is oppressing the Negro people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals, and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people. At present, it is the handful of imperialists, headed by the United States, and their supporters, the reactionaries in different countries, who are carrying out oppression, aggression and intimidation against the overwhelming majority of the nations and peoples of the world. They are the minority, and we are the majority. At most they make up less than ten percent of the 3,000 million people of the world”

(Mao Tse-tung, “Statement Supporting the Afro-Americans in their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism”).

And again in 1968:

“Racial discrimination in the United States is a product of the colonialist and imperialist system. The contradiction between the Black masses in the United States and the U.S. ruling circles is a class contradiction. Only by overthrowing the reactionary rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class and destroying the colonialist and imperialist system can the Black people in the United States win complete emancipation. The Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for. Therefore, the Afro-American struggle is winning sympathy and support from increasing numbers of white working people and progressives in the United States. The struggle of the Black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class”

(Mao Tse-tung, “A New Storm Against Imperialism”).

As I’ve already shown, Lin Biao’s line, which is much more closely followed by modern third-worldists, saw the primary contradiction in the world as between the global city and global countryside, or the exploited poor countries versus the wealthy imperialist countries, imagining people’s war on a global scale. Some even go as far to say that the waging of people’s war is the true test if a movement is truly communist or not. Third-worldists today uphold the theories of Lin Biao and largely reject the Chinese policies during this period, accusing the Chinese leadership, and even Mao Tse-tung himself, of “first-worldism” for supporting the class struggles of the workers in the “first world.” Of course, revolutionaries in the “third world” saying the working class in the “first world” also wage a decisive struggle are not limited to Mao himself.

Cuban poet and revolutionary José Martí once spoke a phrase which was popularized by Ernesto “Che” Guevara: “I envy you. You North Americans are very lucky. You are fighting the most important fight of all – you live in the heart of the beast.”

During the anti-colonial wars in Vietnam against the French, Ho Chi Minh spoke of the French working class as an ally against the French imperialists:

“If the French imperialists think that they can suppress the Vietnamese revolution by means of terror, they are grossly mistaken. For one thing, the Vietnamese revolution is not isolated but enjoys the assistance of the world proletariat in general and that of the French working class in particular.”

(Ho Chi Minh, “Appeal made on the Occasion of the Founding of the Indochinese Communist Party”).

Ho Chi Minh further said he considered the French and Vietnamese proletariat as two forces which ought to unite together in a common struggle against the French ruling class:

“The mutual ignorance of the two proletariats [French and Vietnamese] gives rise to prejudices. The French workers look upon the native as an inferior and negligible human being, incapable of understanding and still less of taking action. The natives regard all the French as wicked exploiters. Imperialism and capitalism do not fail to take advantage of this mutual suspicion and this artificial racial hierarchy to frustrate propaganda and divide forces which ought to unite”

(Ho Chi Minh, “Some Considerations of the Colonial Question”).

He even spoke of the line, notably from the Second International, that people in developed countries and people in colonial and semi-colonial countries should not unite, supporting the line of Lenin and Stalin in calling it reactionary:

“I will explain myself more clearly. In his speech on Lenin and the national question Comrade Stalin said that the reformists and leaders of the Second International dared not align the white people of the colonies with their coloured counterparts. Lenin also refused to recognize this division and pushed aside the obstacle separating the civilized slaves of imperialism from the uncivilized slaves.

According to Lenin, the victory of the revolution in Western Europe depended on its close contact with the liberation movement against imperialism in enslaved colonies and with the national question, both of which form a part of the common problem of the proletarian revolution and dictatorship.

Later, Comrade Stalin spoke of the viewpoint which held that the European proletarians can achieve success without a direct alliance with the liberation movement in the colonies. And he considered this a counter-revolutionary viewpoint”

(Ho Chi Minh, “Report on the National and Colonial Questions at the Fifth Congress of the Communist International”).

In 1926, J.V. Stalin wrote the following in regards to the workers of Western Europe in supporting the Bolshevik revolution:

“Without the support of the workers of the West we could scarcely have held out against the enemies surrounding us. If this support should later develop into a victorious revolution in the West, well and good. Then the victory of socialism in our country will be final”

(J.V. Stalin, “The Possibility of Building Socialism in our Country”).

Modern third-worldists, whether they base themselves on Lin Biao, Franz Fanon, Sultan-Galiyev, J. Sakai or any number of other theoreticians, claim there is a divergence between “European” socialism and oppressed nations, the countries of the “third world.” These ideas are responsible for the strengthening of the notions of “African socialism,” “Arab socialism” and various other incarnations which claim that Marxism and Leninism are only for Europeans, only for white people. It must be asked: what then, separates the Lin Biaoists from bourgeois nationalists? Indeed, what separates them at all from anti-communists? As we can see, to disparage “first world” workers as an overall counterrevolutionary class and proclaim that “third world” workers are the only ones with truly nothing to lose, and to reject solidarity between them is anti-Marxist, liquidates proletarian internationalism and ignores any idea of revolutionary connectivity between the “third” and “first” worlds. The American left has had to put up with constant subversion of revisionist, counterrevolutionary and bourgeois politics which derail the worker’s movement, and that includes those embracing the Lin Biaoist or third-worldist line.

Lin Biao, like Mao Tse-tung during his “three worlds” period, like Karl Kautsky during his opportunist period, and like the sorry assortment of modern Lin Biaoists, rely on empty and bombastic phrase-mongering, petty-bourgeois pipe dreams represented as the highest r-r-revolutionary Utopianism coupled with a lack of analysis of the real functioning and foundations of the modern economic system.

For some of these pseudo-Marxists, they do not qualify either as Lin Biaoists or third-worldists because of some various trivial minutiae, such as not outwardly calling themselves such labels, such complexity does their ideology have, you see, that it defies categorization except that which is convenient for its defenders. I do not seek to say that all the differing theories I use as examples of this tendency are precisely the same; what I’d like to point out is the common failing between Lin Biaoism, the theories of Sultan-Galiyev, Kautsky’s “ultra-imperialism,” Mao’s “theory of the three worlds,” and modern third-worldists.

What these theories demonstrate is that there are problems when one is too quick to apply phenomenon which can be empirically understood at the national level to phenomena occurring internationally. Many theorists have made such non-class-based arguments in which the old notions of class struggle and imperialism are replaced by more “global” perspectives which perceive the main contradictions within capitalism taking place globally. Inevitably, these ideas later lead those theorists and their adherents to anti-Marxist, anti-scientific conclusions which would render their theories less useful for a concrete understanding of capitalism on the world stage. There are problems which arise in trying to mechanically and haphazardly apply these contradictions in a global way.

The triumph and realization of the proletarian revolution is the main aim of our historical epoch. It must and will necessarily permeate all countries without exception, among them the ones in both the “third” and “first” worlds, regardless of their level of development, and regardless at which stages the revolution will be accomplished. Disregarding this universal law and theorizing about whole nations being labor aristocrats, forgetting the fight against the comprador bourgeoisie, evaluating “third world” countries in a chauvinist way and opposing proletarian internationalism can only mean being neither for national liberation or for proletarian revolution. The proletarian revolution must and will triumph in Africa, Asia, the Americas and in Europe, too. Whoever forgets or distorts this perspective and doesn’t actively fight towards this aim, but instead preaches that the revolution has shifted and that the proletariat of certain countries has to either acknowledge itself as inherently reactionary, or ally itself with its “third world” bourgeoisie, is someone who takes a revisionist and reactionary stance.

While Lin Biao deserves credit for his distinguished career as a military officer in the Chinese Civil War, his theories are not a suitable replacement for the Leninist understanding of imperialism and revolution. Given the profound theoretical problems in Lin Biao’s conceptions of a “global countryside” and “global city,” and the evolution of his supporter’s chauvinist theories, I argue based on the evidence I have presented that the Leninist model is still the best framework for understanding the machinations of the capitalist and imperialist system internationally, even in this moment where ephemeral fashionable words like “third world” and “global south” are on everyone’s lips.

In conclusion, perhaps Lenin said it best:

“The flight of some people from the underground could have been the result of their fatigue and dispiritedness. Such individuals may only be pitied; they should be helped because their dispiritedness will pass and there will again appear an urge to get away from philistinism, away from the liberals and the liberal-labour policy, to the working-class underground. But when the fatigued and dispirited use journalism as their platform and announce that their flight is not a manifestation of fatigue, or weakness, or intellectual woolliness, but that it is to their credit, and then put the blame on the ‘ineffective,’ ‘worthless,’ ‘moribund,’ etc., underground, these runaways then become disgusting renegades, apostates. These runaways then become the worst of advisers for the working-class movement and therefore its dangerous enemies”

(V.I. Lenin, “How Vera Zasulich Demolishes Liquidationism”).

Why Does the Pseudo-Left Hate Grover Furr?


by Espresso Stalinist

Grover Furr is an American professor and author. He has taught at Montclair State University in New Jersey for over four decades, and has written essays, articles and books on Soviet history in both Russian and English. Though his body of work covers a wide variety of topics, his most famous writings study the period of Soviet history under Joseph Stalin, particularly regarding controversies around the Moscow Trials, the Katyn “massacre,” the events in Poland in 1939, the murder of Sergei Kirov, the Ukrainian famine and Khrushchev’s “secret speech.” Furr’s research on the history of communism, Soviet history and the historical falsifications told against socialism is some of the most remarkable, ground-breaking and enlightening in the world. He uses a very precise and admirable document-based approach to research that is exceedingly valuable and hard to find elsewhere.

This approach, unsurprisingly, has won him more than a fair share of enemies and critics, not only on the right but the left as well. Those on the left who attack Grover Furr are the most peculiar of his critics. Professor Furr is someone that sets about examining historical allegations used to attack socialism, and in his published books and articles finds and publishes objective documentary and archival proof that it is not true, or at least deceptive. In other words, he spends a great deal of time and effort countering bourgeois propaganda about Marxism-Leninism. What has been their response? To attack him. One would think someone who speaks Russian, has translated Russian documents and has access to the archives would be of interest to those looking to learn about the history of socialism. One would further think, that a sincere person who considers themselves a socialist or a Marxist would thank Grover Furr for finding proof that a large portion of what we are told about Stalin and the U.S.S.R. are lies.

We live in an age where most Marxist or progressive academics who dare to challenge the status quo are fired, sidelined, driven out of academia or simply deemed irrelevant. Only a fool would pretend that academic repression isn’t a reality. Yet, when it comes to the brave, bold and challenging works Furr has published, critics universally dismiss them without reviewing the evidence he presents. In discussions, I have never heard them say, “No Professor Furr, I disagree with your thesis statement, and wish to make a counter-thesis. Here are my facts, arguments and sources backing it up.” Instead, what I hear over and over is his work dismissed as “absurd,” “insane,” or Furr himself labeled as a “crackpot” or “Stalinist.” There is almost always an attempt to link his methods of research to anti-Semites and fascists, or even outright call him a “Holocaust denier,” implicitly comparing Soviet history with Nazi Germany.

Why do his critics almost universally behave in this manner? The answer is simply: because they can’t refute anything he says.

For all Furr’s research has contributed to our understanding of Soviet history and to refuting the lies told about life in socialist countries, his critics and opponents have not offered any meaningful refutation of his works or even engaged with the evidence contained therein. When pressed to sum up his theses, the evidence he presents to support them, and then to offer counter-evidence and refutations of their own, silence fills the space. Very few, if any of his critics are capable of defining what specific points of his works they disagree with or can prove false. Often they assert things that are already addressed in the article in question. The opponents of Furr’s research, whatever their ideological differences may be, all share one common thread that over time is rendered impossible to miss. For all their ranting and raving, not a single one directly challenges him on the sources or attempts to refute his argument. There is a concrete reason for this – opposition to Furr’s research comes from knee-jerk anti-communism.

The pseudo-left’s endless venom towards Furr’s work is entirely (no, not partially, or even mostly, but from what I have seen, entirely) devoid of counter-criticism, counter-evidence, contrasting research or engagement in any way, shape or form with Furr’s work. At the present time, there are no scholarly refutations of Grover Furr’s work. Hostile reviews, on the other hand, are plentiful. Nor is there any lack of critics who chant “give us more evidence,” demanding a larger amount of evidence to their satisfaction – which of course, is a level of evidence that will never exist, no matter how much of it there is. Another consistent pattern with his critics is that they assume that an author must be able to prove the meaning of their research to the satisfaction of a hostile or skeptical critic in order to be considered valid. If the author fails to accomplish this task, it proves that he or she doesn’t understand what it means, and furthermore their failure to do so is definitive proof that the entirety of the research is consequently meaningless.

The debate on Grover Furr is always about form – the person, his writing style, his alleged motives, his allege dishonesty or lack of qualifications, and never about content – the evidence presented, what it shows, and whether it’s true or not. The infantile pseudo-left responds to science with provocation, facts with hostility, reason with insults, ideological questions with personal attacks, and the deep questions posed by Furr’s work with shallow criticisms. This is not to say that anyone who has criticisms of Furr’s work is automatically opposed to socialism. Far from it – criticism is an essential part of being a Marxist-Leninist. But by and large the criticisms of Grover Furr are not made from a principled standpoint.

“No one takes Grover Furr seriously” is the refrain. Yet, John Arch Getty, Robert Thurston, Lars Lih and many others have praised Furr’s work while disagreeing with his politics. One does not have to completely share Furr’s worldview to find a great deal of value in his essays, articles and books. In fact, any serious researcher, Marxist or not, can learn a great deal from the evidence he gathers to back up his viewpoints, evidence that is almost never studiously read or studied by those who violently denounce it. If the idea that Furr is not a serious academic is a legitimate position to take, then there should be criticisms of his scholarship. Perhaps not surprisingly, I haven’t heard a single argument as to why Grover Furr is an unacceptable source of information other than his opinions aren’t popular. If his arguments themselves cannot be addressed, then his critics have no right to reject the citing of his work.

Much is made of Furr’s “academic credentials,” or alleged lack thereof, to write about the subjects he chooses. He is an English professor they say, and therefore cannot be considered an authority on history. These noble knights dedicated to the defense of “credible” capitalist academia you see, must speak out against Furr. Yet, these same people have no problem with the works of Noam Chomsky, a linguist who writes an endless parade of books on a wide variety of subjects outside of his field, such as criticizing U.S. foreign policy, economy, science, immigration and the Cold War. Anyone who is familiar with Chomsky’s work knows his views are fairly traditional anarchism combined with Enlightenment-era classical liberalism. They are not friendly to socialism, and certainly no threat to anyone in the ruling class. Speaking out against imperialism in of itself is not a particularly radical act, especially when you’re not criticizing it from a Marxist perspective. Many far-rightists and libertarians speak out against U.S. foreign policy as well. Why the double standard? What is the difference between Furr and Chomsky? Quite simple, really. Chomsky is the poster boy of left anti-communism, of a “safe” and defanged leftism deprived of anything not acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Meanwhile, Furr’s research attempts to refute popular anti-communist propaganda instead of accepting it. The pseudo-left would rather back the petty-bourgeois cause than the proletarian one, because they are “radicals” stuck in that method of thinking.

It is is absolutely inarguable that the modern view of the history of socialism has been shaped by those who despise it, and yet phony leftists have no trouble upholding the most vile smears against Soviet, Eastern European and Chinese history. In an atmosphere where the highly dubious works of Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes are upheld as a dogma and treated as material to be seriously engaged with or even refuted, Furr’s work is singled out by both reactionaries and the pseudo-left for outright dismissal and slander.

When denial is not enough, general charges are invented, such as the allegation his presentations of history are “conspiracy theories.” This has also been used to describe the works of other Marxist-Leninist scholars, such as William Bland. I stress again that until there are refutations, one cannot accept these charges. After all, with all the history of capitalist plots we’ve learned, can one seriously accept this level of argumentation? Are the facts true, or not? Blanket cries of “Stalinist” directed against Furr mean nothing. If critics have counter-evidence, then let them step forward and present it. This should not be an unreasonable demand for a Marxist – or for anyone, really.

When Furr speaks of opposition conspiracies within the Soviet Union, or of holes and outright falsifications in the official story of Katyn, these are treated with the utmost skepticism. The idea that the defendants of the Moscow Trials may have actually been involved in terrorist conspiracies to overthrow the Soviet government and assassinate officials is seen as nonsense. Yet, when we are presented with stories of a heinous conspiracy involving J.V. Stalin and a substantial number of other high officials to themselves assassinate Zinoviev, Bukharin and a number of others through judicial means, then this “conspiracy theory” is adopted as the default correct position. It follows that it is easier to go along with the dominant narrative – that is, that of the bourgeoisie – regarding the history of socialism than it is to objectively challenge these ideas.

With the fake left, the formula could not be more simple: U.S. Cold War propaganda is upheld, pro-communist scholarly research is not. Every charge against the socialist countries is true; every defense of socialism is akin to Holocaust denial. Those who would agree, at least in words, that the history of the Soviet Union is falsified by capitalist scholars and reactionaries, and that socialist leaders are routinely subjected to outright slander are declared “insane,” their research or conclusions “absurd,” and derided as “crackpots” or “Stalinists.” The critics do not review the evidence or engage with the thesis; they merely dismiss it. They do not present counter-evidence; they merely assert it. Furr’s fake “left” opponents claim that Furr is “not credible scholarship” only because they don’t agree with it. Furr is only a “crackpot” because they don’t like what he has to say. In their view, scholarly research that counters the bourgeois propaganda narrative of history should be cast aside, silenced, devalued, delegitimized, hidden from the public view and ultimately, destroyed.

It seems to me the “left” needs to look in a mirror and stare itself straight in the eye, and ask: what have we come to, if we cannot refute these works? What exactly does it say, when the entire pseudo-left cannot refute someone who is supposedly “a crackpot with no academic credentials?” What does it say, when they cannot even define the actual content of his work when asked, yet they have already declared it false on the whole? What does it say, when they have no evidence to counter Furr’s claims, but rely on attacking Grover Furr the person?

Any allegations that his works are “below criticism” are disingenuous. If they are worthy of such hostility, then they are worthy of honest criticism. If only all of us checked their facts and cited their sources for all to see like Furr does, rather than rest on our own preconceived notions and prejudices, perhaps the American left wouldn’t be in such a precarious position these days.

The pseudo-left’s hatred has nothing to do with honesty. This is because of anti-communism, not political disagreement, not ideological difference, not a problem with Furr’s research or his conclusions, not an issue with his methods, or legitimate criticism of his evidence. It is a liberal and reactionary view that anything anti-Soviet and anti-Stalin must be true, while anything that challenges that view must be attacked, smeared, demonized, ridiculed and silenced. When evidence is not engaged with or dismissed, and the person themselves is slandered, it is not principled disagreement, it is not ideological difference – it is hate and prejudice.

The question stands: why does the pseudo left hate Grover Furr? The answer becomes plain: they hate Grover Furr precisely because his works challenge the hegemony of the Trotsky-Khrushchev-Gorbachev-Cold War anti-communist anti-Stalin paradigm, the dominant paradigm of the bourgeoisie. In other words, they hate Grover Furr because he is a good communist in an age filled with fake ones. They hate Grover Furr because he is an honest researcher in an age filled to the brim with propaganda. They hate Grover Furr because he has evidence for the conclusions he draws and presents it openly, rather than relying on emotionalism. They hate Grover Furr because he challenges the bourgeois anti-communist understanding of Soviet history. These days pseudo-leftists are not just dishonest or liberal; they are avowed anti-communists.

Video: Stalin’s Last Speech, 1952 [Subtitled]

Georgi Dimitrov And The Fight Against Titoism In Bulgaria


Vulko Chervenkov


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

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

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

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

Vijay Singh


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

August 2015
Hari Kumar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. An Introduction to Greece

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Woodhouse C.M Ibid p. 260)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industrial Policy of the Greek Capitalists in this Period

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

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

(Woodhouse C.M Ibid p. 267)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TABLE 1 Flow of Foreign Capital into Greece (Dollars)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain (MLOB) “THE CARVE-UP OF CYPRUS” “Class Against Class”; No.7, 1974. (

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

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

(MLOB, “The carve-up of Cyprus” Ibid)

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

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

(MLOB “The carve-up of Cyprus” Ibid)

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

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

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

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

Woodhouse C.M Ibid p. 282-283.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remarks By President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Simitis of Greece to the Government of Greece, Business and Community leaders. Inter-Continental Hotel Athens, Greece – November 20, 1999.
Anti-Revisionism in Greece ‘The Rule of the Colonels’
– the military Junta 1967-1974

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

They had not been organised into a meaningful communist resistance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(MLOB; Ibid).

As Woodhouse rightly comments:

“The US was legitimately suspected of having backed Ioannidis”

(Woodhouse Ibid p.305)

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

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

“The Colonels Take Off Their Uniforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain (MLOB) “THE CARVE-UP OF CYPRUS” “Class Against Class”; No.7, 1974. (

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

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

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

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

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

(Woodhouse Ibid p. 308).

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

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

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

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

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

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

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

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

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

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

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

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

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

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

Agriculture also saw falling production:

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

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

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

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

Table 3:

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

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)”

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Van Pijil summarises that:

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

(van Pijl Ibid p. 167) .

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

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

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

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

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

Dean and Pringle; Ibid p. 76.

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

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

(Dean and Pringle; Ibid p. 76).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Britain was being firmly eclipsed by the USA as the foremost imperialist. The pivotal point forcing even the most stubborn British imperialists to recognise this, came in the Suez disaster of 1956 (these events were described in “The Gulf war – the USA Imperialists Bid To Recapture World Supremacy” at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Van Pijl Ibid p. 157).

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

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

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

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

In contrast:

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

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

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

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

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

Later in the Second World War: 

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

(Laxer, Ibid, p. 27).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Anderson, Perry. Ibid; p. 17)

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

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

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

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

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

(van Pijl Ibid p. 157) .

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

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

(Van Pijl Ibid p. 197)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Anderson; Ibid; p. 18).

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

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

(Van der Pijil; Ibid, p.193)

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

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

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

(Anderson Ibid p. 21).

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

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

(Palmer Ibid p. 62).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Palmer J ibid p. 11).

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

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

The current crisis of capital forces formation of blocs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Alliance 3: Ibid:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The still unresolved contradiction at the heart of the European Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Nicholas Kaldor On European Political Union Cited by Ramanan, 6 November 2012; in The Case For Concerted Action Post-Keynesian Ideas For A Crisis That Conventional Remedies Cannot Resolve; at

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

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

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

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

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

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

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

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

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

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

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

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

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

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

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

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

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

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

(Kaldor, Nicholas “On European Political Union Ibid)

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

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

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

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

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

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

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

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

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

i) Tax and Pensions in Greece

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


ii) Pensions

First if examined by unadjusted numbers it does appear that the Greek pension system is the most expensive in the OECD countries. We follow the Wall Street Journal analysis of February 2015 (Dalton, Matthew: “Greece’s Pension System Isn’t That Generous After All”; February 27 2015;

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

(Nardelli, Alberto: “ Unsustainable futures? The Greek pensions dilemma explained“; Guardian, 15 June 2015; at

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debt and printing money drive Greek Inflation

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

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

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


(Roberts M; ‘Greece Cannot Escape”; 2nd Nov 2014:

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

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

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

(Buchanan, Rose T; “Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess”; The Independent 4 July 2015;

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


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

“Economist Paul Krugman wrote in February 2012:

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

He continued in June 2015:

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

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


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

Who owns this debt?

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

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

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


And the New York Times Business news cites similar data:

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


Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Robert B. Reich ‘How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis”; The Nation16th July 2015;

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

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

(Robert B. Reich ‘How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis”; The Nation16th July 2015;

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

The Crisis heats up and the infamous Troika Memorandum

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

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

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


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

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

“Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015

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

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

“Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015

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

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


((Roberts M; ‘Greece Cannot Escape”; 2nd Nov 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The irony is that while austerity in Greece continues to be applied mercilessly, the IMF recently issued a report that concluded that the Troika’s approach was mistaken in imposing severe fiscal retrenchment back in May 2010 when Greece could no longer finance its spending through borrowing in bond markets (

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

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

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

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

(Michael Roberts Blog: “Greece, the IMF and debt default; 16th June 2013;“

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

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

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

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

Greece Table

Source: CEPS database. (From Roberts 16 June 2013; “Greece, the IMF and debt default ibid) Michael Roberts Blog: “Greece, the IMF and debt default; 16th June 2013;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ashoka Mody; Bloomberg 81 April 21 2015; The IMF’s Big Greek Mistake;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Marx, Karl: Capital Volume One Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist; at:

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

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

(Marx, Karl: Capital Volume One Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist; at:

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

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

(Marx, Karl: Capital Volume One Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist; at:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Eirini Gaitanou. An examination of class structure in Greece, its tendencies of transformation amid the crisis, and its impacts on the organisational forms and structures of the social movement. At:

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

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


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

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

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

(Panagiotis Sotiris;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

( and also see Tsakatika, Myrto and Eleftheriou, Costas: “The Radical Left’s Turn towards Civil Society in Greece: One Strategy, Two Paths”; South European Society and Politics, 2013; p.3;

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

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

Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization ‘Some questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015; at

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

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

Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi OrganizationSome questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015; at

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen: Greece: Phase One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi OrganizationSome questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015. At

Syriza was always an electoral alliance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. What was the elected programme of Syriza?

The Thessalonika Conference is accepted as being the progaramme of the United Front of Syriza. (Syriza – The Thessalonika Programme” at—THE-THESSALONIKI-PROGRAMME.html#.VQSgEChOTdl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total estimated cost: €0

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

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

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

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

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

(Thessalalonkia Programme; Ibid)

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

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

(Interview with Tsakalotos Ibid).

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

“The first fact that has been established most accurately by the whole theory of development, by science as a whole–a fact that was ignored by the utopians, and is ignored by the present-day opportunists, who are afraid of the socialist revolution–is that, historically, there must undoubtedly be a special stage, or a special phase, of transition from capitalism to communism.”

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

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

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

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

Lenin State & Revolution: Experience of the Paris Commune of 1871. Marx’s Analysis (

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

10. Elections of 2015 and Negotiations with the Troika

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

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

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

(Panagiotis Sotiris;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(January 24, 2015; “BOYCOTT the elections–The elections do not solve the problem of imperialist DEPENDANCE (economic-political-military, NATO bases etc.), nor repel-cancel ongoing EU politics against the people

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

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

(Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization ‘Some questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015. At

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

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

(Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. “Greece’s leaders stun Europe with escalating defiance”. ‘The Telegraph’; 09 Feb 2015;

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

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

(Kate Connolly. “Germany rejects Greek bailout plan – as it happened”. The Guardian 19 February 2015;

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

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

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

(Maria Savel. “IMF Stands Firm, Forcing Greece and Syriza to Accept Hard Concessions” Politics Review, March 3, 2015,

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

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

(Der Spiegel Interview Conducted By Manfred Ertel, Katrin Kuntz and Mathieu von Rohr: Greek Prime Minister Tsipras: ‘We Don’t Want to Go on Borrowing Forever’; March 7 2015; at

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

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

(Mark Gilbert; “Greece’s Euro Exit Seems Inevitable”: 17 March 2015;

By April 2015, reports circulated that secret plans were being drawn up to revive the Drachma and go into default (Evans-Pritchard A, 2 April 2015; Telegraph at

On May 4th the BBC reported that Greek banks were not allowing pensioners to withdraw more than a small amount, and that public sector workers were nto being paid regularly ( However on May 6th however Greece paid back $200 million to the IMF and avoided insolvency. At that time the European Central Bank (ECB) granted further liquidity to Greece. (Phillip Inman and Helena Smith; 6 May, The Guardian; at

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Roberts, Michael Blog; June 15, 2015;: “Ten minutes past midnight”;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Observer Editorial. “The Observer view on Greece’s referendum “5 July 2015;

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

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

(Philipp Inman, Larry Elliot, Alberto Nardelli; IMF says Greece needs extra €60bn in funds and debt relief”; The Guardian 2 July 2015; at

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

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

(Mark Lowen; “Greece debt crisis: Greek voters reject bailout offer”; 6th July; BBC

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

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

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

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

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

(Phillip Inman, Graeme Wearden and Helena Smith: ”; 9 July 2015 Greece debt crisis: Athens accepts harsh austerity as bailout deal nears “Greek cabinet backs a 13-page package of reforms and spending cuts worth €13bn to secure third bailout and modest debt writeoff

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

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

(Graeme Wearden and Helen Davidson. “Greek debt crisis: deal reached after marathon all-night summit – as it happened”. The Guardian 13 July 2015;

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

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

(Varoufakis, Y. “On the Euro Summit’s Statement on Greece: First thoughts”; 14 July 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The leading proponent of this has been Costas Lapavitas – a MP in the Greek Parliament but not a member of Syriza – and radical economist. His view has been put in several books and articles for example these cited here: ([1], Lapvitas, C. Interview with Sebastien Budgen: ‘Greece: Phase Two”; in Jacobin. At [2] Costas Lapavitsas: The Syriza strategy has come to an end’. Interview with Press Project and Der Spiegel; [3[ The crisis of the Eurozone”, July 10, 2010 ; Greek Left Review. At

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization ‘Some questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015. At

APPENDIX: Select Chronology 1975 to 2015:
Amended from BBC version at:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revisionism in Russia: Trotsky Against the Bolsheviks – Part One: To 1914


Read part two here.


Trotsky speaks:

“Among the Russian comrades, there was not one from whom I could learn anything…The errors which I have committed . . always referred to questions that were not fundamental or strategic. . . In all conscientiousness I cannot, in the appreciation of the political situation and of its revolutionary perspectives, accuse myself of any serious errors of judgement.

Looking back, two years after the revolution, Lenin said:

‘At the moment when it seized the power and created the Soviet republic, Bolshevism drew to itself all the best elements in the currents of Socialist thought that were nearest to it’.

Can there be even a shadow of doubt that when he spoke so deliberately of the best representatives of the currents closest to Bolshevism, Lenin had foremost in mind what is now called ‘historical Trotskyism’? . . Whom else could he have had in mind?”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1970; p. 184, 185, 353).


“Trotsky is very fond of explaining historical events . . in pompous and sonorous phrases, in a manner flattering to Trotsky.”

(V.I. Lenin: “Violation Of Unity under Cover Of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 194).

“What a swine this Trotsky is — Left phrases and a bloc with the Right . . ! He ought to be exposed.”

(V.I. Lenin: Letter to Alexandra Kollontai, February 17th., 1917, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 285).

Originally Printed and published by: B.C., (Secretary) 26, Cambridge Road, Ilford Esssex. for the COMMUNIST LEAGUE (CL).


Revisionism is the perversion of Marxism-Leninism to suit the needs of the exploiting classes, to the elimination of which Marxism-Leninism is directed.
A study of revisionism in Russia is of particular importance to Marxist-Leninists, since it was through revisionism that the socialist society constructed there came to be replaced by an essentially capitalist society.

One of the myths of Trotskyism is that in the years before 1917 Trotsky fought side by side with Lenin from revolutionary positions, and that only after Stalin became General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party in 1922 did a political rift develop between Trotsky and his supporters on the one hand and the leadership of the Party on the other.

The facts documented in this report demonstrate that this theory could hardly be further from the truth. From 1903 to 1917, year after year, Trotsky fought Lenin on almost every political issue that arose, along with other figures whom we shall meet again in connection with the revisionist struggle to prevent the construction of socialism after the revolution and to destroy it when it had been built — such figures -as Lev Kamenev (Trotsky’s brother-in-law), Grigori Zinoviev, Yuri Piatakov, Grigori Sokolnikov, Nikolai Bukharin, Aleksei Rykov, Khristian Rakovsky, Adolf Warski, David Ryazanov, Evgenii Preobrazhensky, Solomon Lozovsky and Dmitri Manuilsky.

The first part of this report covers the period up to the outbreak of the first imperialist war in 1914; the second covers the period from 1914 to the “October Revolution” of 1917. Later reports will cover the period from 1917 onwards.

1879 – 1895: Childhood

Lev Davidovich Bronstein, who later became Leon Trotsky was born on November 7th, 1879.

His father, David Leontievich Bronstein, was a well-to-do farmer, of Jewish origin but. Indifferent to religion, who worked with the help of wage-labour a large farm called Yanovka, near the small town of Bobrinetz in the province of Kherson in the southern Ukraine.

His mother, Anna Bronstein, was an educated, petty bourgeois, city-bred woman, of Jewish descent and orthodox in religion.

Lev was the Bronsteins’ fifth child, and by the time of his birth they were affluent enough to afford a nursemaid for him.

At the age of seven his parents sent him to a “kheder” a private Jewish religious school, at Gromokla, a German-Jewish colony about two miles away. There he stayed with relatives. But the tuition was in Yiddish, and the boy learned little there except to read and write a little Russian. After a few months his parents withdrew him from the school and he returned home.

In the autumn of 1888, when Lev was nearly nine, he was sent to stay with other relatives in Odessa in order to attend school there. These relatives –Moissei Filipovich Spentzer, a liberal publisher, and his wife, the headmistress of a secular school for Jewish girls – gave the boy his first introduction to the great literature of the world. They arranged for him to attend St. Paul’s “Realschule” a progressive, cosmopolitan school which taught in Russian.

In the course of his seven years at the “Realschule” he excelled in his studies, became fastidious about his appearance and dress, and acquired, as he says, a feeling of superiority towards his fellow students.

1896-1899: Youth

In 1896, at the age of seventeen, he completed his course in Odossa and moved to Nicolayev to attend a similar school for the purpose of matriculating.

Here he lodged with a family whose sons had already been touched by socialist ideas and who argued against Trotsky’s conservative outlook. Six months later he had embraced socialism and had been introduced into radical discussion circle held in a gardener’s hut on the outskirts of the town. Most of the members of this group were Narodniks, adherents of an intellectual, individualistic, vaguely socialist trend, which based itself, not on the working class, but on the peasantry, and which at first appealed strongly to Trotsky… One member of the group, however –Aleksandra Sokolovskaya, a girl some few years older than Trotsky who later became his first wife was a Marxist and strongly influenced the development of his views.

When his father objected to his association with this radical circle, Trotsky gave up the allowance he had been receiving from home, took up private tutoring and moved from his lodgings to live in the gardener’s hut, as a member of the Narodnik “commune.”

In the spring of 1897 he took a leading part in the formation of an underground trade union, the South Russian Workers’ Union, which had grown to about 200 members before the end of the year and published its own duplicated paper “Nashe Delo” (Our Cause).

In the summer of 1897 Trotsky graduated with first-class honours, and at the end of that year was arrested, together with some other leading members of the union. He was kept in a small cell in the prison at Kerson for several months, being transferred to the prison at Odessa in the middle of 1898. He occupied himself here in writing a treatise on freemasonry, and in reading Marxist books smuggled in from outside.

Towards the end of 1899, Trosky received his sentence (without trial) of deportation to Siberia for four years. He was first moved to a transfer prison in Moscow, where he met older and more experienced revolutionaries from all over Russia and made his first acquaintance with the writings of Lenin. In the spring or summer of 1900 he married in the Moscow prison Aleksandra Sokolovskaya, and shortly afterwards he and his wife began their journey into exile.

1900 – 1902: Exile

They reached their place of exile — the settlement of Verkholensk in the mountains overlooking Lake Baikal — in the late autumn of 1900. Having come to accept Marxism in the preceding years, Trotsky now identified himself with the labour movement, becoming a leading member of the Siberian Social Democratic Workers’ Union.

In December 1900 he began to write for the “Vostochnoye Obozrenie” (Eastern Review), a progressive newspaper published in Irkutsk, under the pseudonym of “Antid Oto.” His contributions consisted, mainly of reportage on the conditions of the Siberian peasants, together with literary criticism.

In the summer of 1902 Trotsky made his escape from Siberia, abandoning his wife, and two children. In Samara he received a message from Lenin asking him to report to the headquarters of ‘Iskra’- (The Spark) in London as soon as possible.

1902 – 1903: Trotsky Becomes an Iskra-ist

Trotsky arrived in London in October 1902 and Lenin found him lodgings. He began to contribute to “Iskra” in November 1902 and soon became known as a brilliant writer and orator.

From time to time he visited Prance, Switzerland and Belgium, and it was on a visit to Paris that he met his second “wife” (he was never formally divorced from Aleksandra Sokolovskaya), a Russian revolutionary of noble birth, Natalya Sedova, who was studying the history of art at the Sorbonne.

1903: The Struggle at the Second Congress

The Second congress Of the Russian Social-Democratic Party attended by 43 delegates, was held in July/August 1903, first in Brussels, and then in London. The main business on its’ agenda was to adopt a programme and rules. Trotsky attended as a delegate from the Siberian Social-Democratic Workers’ Union.

The sharpest controversy at the congress arose around the first clause of the rules, defining what was meant by the term “member of the party.” In accordance with the principles he had been putting forward for some time in “Iskra,” Lenin proposed the following wording for Clause 1:

“A member of the R.S.D.L.P. is one who recognises its programme and supports the Party materially as well as by personal participation in one of the organisations of the Party.”

Yuli Martov moved to substitute for the words underlined:

“Working under the control and guidance of one of the organisations of the Party.”

Lenin’s case against Martov’s formulation was that:

1) It would in practice be impossible to maintain effective “control and guidance” over Party members who did not personally participate in one of the organisations of the Party;

2) It reflected the outlook, not of the working class, which is not shy of organisation and discipline, but of the petty bourgeois intelligentsia, who tend to be individualistic and shy of organisation and discipline;

3) It would widen Party membership to include supporters of the Party, and so would abolish the essential dividing line between the working class and its organised, disciplined vanguard; it would, therefore, have the effect of dissolving the vanguard in the working class as a whole and so would serve the interests of the class enemies of the working class.

Trotsky sided with Martov, whose formulation was adopted by 28 votes to 22 with 1 abstention.

Later, the withdrawal of seven opponents of Lenin from the congress altered the balance of forces in favour of Lenin and his supporters, Lenin then proposed that the editorial board of “Iskra” (which consisted of six members) should be replaced by one of three members. Trotsky countered this manoeuvre with a motion confirming the old editorial board in office, but this was defeated by a majority of 2 votes; thereupon the anti-Leninists abstained from further voting. In the elections which followed three anti-Leninists (Axelrod, Potresov and Vera Zasulich) were dropped from the board, leaving Lenin, Plekhanov and Martov. Furthermore, three supporters of Lenin were elected to form the Central Committee.

Thus, at its Second Congress the Party showed itself to be divided into two factions. From that time those Party members who supported Lenin’s political line were known as Bolsheviks (from ‘bolshinstvo”, majority) while those who opposed Lenin’s political line were known as Mensheviks (from “menshinstvo” minority).

The Bolshevik trend was a Marxist trend, representing the interests of the working class within the labour movement;

TheMenshevik trend was a revisionist trend representing the interests of the capitalist class within the labour movement.

The “Report of the Siberian Delegation”

Later Trotsky admitted his error in having opposed Lenin at the 2nd. Congress on the question of Party organisation. Speaking of Lenin’s attitude at the Congress, Trotsky says in his autobiography:

“His behaviour seemed unpardonable to me, both horrible and outrageous. And yet, politically, it was right and necessary, from the point of view of organisation.

My break with Lenin occurred on what might be considered “moral” or even personal grounds. But this was merely on the surface. At bottom, the separation was of a political nature and merely expressed itself in the realm of organisational methods.

I thought of myself as a centralist. But there is no doubt that at that at that time I did not fully realise what an intense and imperious centralism the revolutionary party would need to lead millions of people in a war against the old order . . At the time of the London Congress in 1903, revolution was still largely a theoretical abstraction to me.

Independently I still could not see Lenin’s centralism as the logical conclusion of a clear revolutionary concept.”

(L.Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1971; p. 162)

His immediate reaction to the congress, however, was to write “Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (Report of the Siberian Delegation” which was published in Geneva in 1903.

In this he defended his, and his delegation’s opposition to Lenin and his supporters at the congress:

“Behind Lenin stood the new compact majority of the ‘hard’ ‘Iskra’ men, opposed to the ‘soft’ ‘Iskra’ men. We, the delegates of the Siberian Union, joined the ‘soft’ ones, and . . we do not think that we have thereby blotted our revolutionary record.”

(L.Trotsky: “Vtoroi Syezd R.S.D.R.P. (Otchet Sibirskoi Delegatskii)” (Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (Report of the Siberian Delegation); Geneva: 1903; p.21.)

At the Congress, declared Trotsky, Lenin had:

“…With the energy and talent peculiar to him, assumed the role of the party’s disorganiser.”

(L.Trotsky: ibid.;. p.11).

and, like a new Robespierre, was trying to:

“…transform the modest Council of the Party into an omnipotent Committee of Public Safety.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p.21).

so preparing the ground for the:

“Thermidorians of Socialist opportunism.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid; p.30).

He added in a postscript that Lenin resembled Robespierre, however, only as

“a vulgar farce resembles historic tragedy…”

(L.Trotsky: ibid.; p.33).

The 1903 Menshevik Conference

After the Congress, the Mensheviks — including Trotsky boycotted “Iskra” and refused to contribute to it.

In September 1903 they held a factional conference in Geneva to decide on future action. A shadow “central committee” was set up, consisting of Pavel Axelrod, Pedor Dan, Yuli Martov, Aleksandr Potresov and Trotsky, to direct the struggle against the Bolsheviks.

In Trotsky’s view the immediate aim of the campaign should be to force the Bolsheviks to restore the ousted Mensheviks to their former positions of influence, both in the Central Committee and the editorial board. A resolution, drafted by Martov and Trotsky, was adopted by the conference:

“We consider it our moral and political duty to conduct . . the struggle by all means, without placing ourselves outside the Party and without bringing discredit upon the party and the idea of its central institutions, to bring about a change in the composition of the leading bodies, which will secure to the Party the possibility of working freely towards its own enlightenment.”

(P.B. Axelrod &. Y. 0. Martov: “Pisma P.B. Axelroda i.Yu Martova” (Letters of P.B. Axelrod and Y.0.Martv); Berlin; l924; p.94).

The “New” Iskra

Soon after the Second Congress of the Party, Plekhanov gave way to the attacks of the Mensheviks. In violation of the decisions taken at the Party congress, he claimed and exercised the right as joint editor to coopt to the editorial board of “Iskra” the Menshevik former editors. Lenin strongly objected to this step, and resigned from the board.

The new editorial board transformed “Iskra” into a Menshevik organ, which waged unremitting struggle against Lenin and his supporters and against the Bolshevik Central Committee of the Party. Thus, from its 52nd. issue “Iskra” became known in the Party as the “new” “Iskra,” in contrast to the “old” Leninist “Iskra.” It continued publication until October 1905.

Trotsky became a prominent contributor to the “new Iskra” and issued a pamphlet setting forth the Menshevik political line. Lenin commented:

“A new pamphlet by Trotsky came out recently, under the editorship of ‘Iskra’, as was announced. This makes it the ‘Credo’, as it were, of the new ‘Iskra’. The pamphlet is a pack of brazen lies, a distortion of the facts. . . The Second Congress was, in his words, a reactionary attenpt to consolidate sectarian methods of organisation, etc.”

(V.I. Lenin: Letter to Yelena Stasova, F.V. Lengnik, and 0thers, October 1904, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 43; Moscow; 1969; p. 129).

1904: The Russo – Japanese War

In February 1904 the Russo-Japanese War began with a Japanese attack on the Russian fortress of Port Arthur. The Russian Army suffered defeat and almost the entire Russian Navy was destroyed in the Straits of Tsushima, forcing the Tsarist government to conclude an ignominious peace treaty in September 1905.

1904: “Our Political Tasks”

Between February and May 1904, Lenin was engaged on writing the book “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.” In this he expounded at length the principles of party organisation he had put forward at the Second Congress and analysed the character of the Menshevik opposition.

In August 1904 Trotsky’s reply to Lenin’s book was published in Geneva under the title “Our Political Tasks.” It was dedicated to “My dear teacher Pavel B.Axelrod.”

In “Our Political Tasks” – Trotsky developed his attack upon “Maximillien Lenin”; whom he described as:

“…an adroit statistician and a slovenly attorney”

(L. Trotsky: ‘ashi Politicheskie Zadachi’(Our Political Tasks) Geneva; 1904; p. 95)

with a

“…hideous, dissolute and demagogical”

(L.Trotsky : ibid. ; p. 75)

style, whose

“Evil-minded and morally repulsive suspiciousness, a shallow caricature of tragic Jacobinist intolerance, must be liquidated now at all costs, otherwise the Party is threatened with moral and theoretical decay”;

(L. Trotsky: ibid. ; p. 95).

He developed his attack upon Lenin’s principles of Party organisation, claiming that they would lead to the establishment, not of the dictatorship of the working class but of a dictatorship over the working class (a dictatorship that would eventually be one of a single individual), which the working class would find intolerable:

“Lenin’s methods lead to this: the Party organisation at first substitutes itself for the Party as a whole; then the Central Committee substitutes itself for the organisation; and finally a single ‘dictator’ substitutes himself for the Central Committee…. A proletariat capable of exercising its dictatorship over society will not tolerate any dictatorship over itself.”

(L. Trotsky. Ibid.; p. 54, 105)

and declaring that Lenin’s organisational principles would, in any case, be unworkable since any serious faction would defy Party discipline:

“Is it so difficult to see that any group of serious size and importance, if faced with the alternative of silently destroying itself or of fighting for its survival regardless of all discipline, would undoubtedly choose the latter course?”

(L. Trotsky: ibid; p. 72).

Meanwhile, readers of the “new” “Iskra” in Russia had been complaining strongly about Trotsky’s virulent attacks on Lenin in the columns of the paper, and in April 1904, on the demand of Plekhanov, he was forced to resign from it.

The Campaign for The Holding Of a Party Congress

In July 1904, two members of the Central Committee of the Party, Krassin and Noskov, broke with the Bolsheviks, giving the Mensheviks a majority on the committee. The Bolsheviks then began a campaign within the Party for the holding of a new congress.

In August l904 Lenin guided the conference of twenty-two prominent Bolsheviks which took place in Switzerland and which issued an appeal to the Party calling for the convocation of the Third Congress. At the same time a number of conference of Bolsheviks took place in Russia, out of which in December l904 came the Bureau of the Majority Committees which became the organising centre for the campaign for a new congress.

During the autumn of 1904, the Bolsheviks organised their own publishing house and at the end of the year established their own newspaper “Vperyod” (Forward), the first issue of which appeared on January 1904.

1904-1905: Parvus Lays the Basis for Trotsky’s “Theory of Permanent Revolution”

In November and December 1904 Trotsky wrote a brochure on the necessity for the working class to play the leading role in the capitalist revolution in Russia which, the following year, he entitled “Before the 9th January” (this being the date, under the old Russian calendar, in 1905 when the first Russian revolution began with the shooting down by the tsar’s troops of an unarmed workers’ demonstration).

When in Munich, Trotsky was accustomed to stay at the home of Aleksandr Helfand, a Russian Jew who then claimed to be a Marxist. Helfand published his own political review “Aus der Weltpolitik” (‘World Politics’) and wrote articles for other magazines especially Kautsky’s “Neue Zeit” (New Life) and the new “Iskra” — under the pen-name “Parvus.”

When Trotsky visited Munich in January 1905, he had the proofs of the brochure with him. Parvus was impressed with its contents and decided to put the weight of his authority behind Trotsky by writing a preface to it. In this preface he stated a conclusion which Trotsky still hesitated to draw:

“In Russia only the workers can accomplish a revolutionary insurrection. . . The revolutionary provisional government will be a government of workers’ democracy.”

(Parvus: Preface to: L.Trotsky: “Do 9 Yanvara”; Geneva; 1905)

In April 1905 Lenin commented on Parvus’s theory that the capitalist revolution in Russia could result in a government of the working class, as it had been put forward in the brochure written by

“the windbag Trotsky.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Social-Democracy and the Provisional Revolutionary Government”; in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 35)

Lenin declared:

“This cannot be . . This cannot be, because only a revolutionary dictatorship relying on the overwhelming majority of the people can be at all durable.. . The Russian proletariat, however, at present constitutes a minority of the population in Russia. It can become the great overwhelming majority only if it combines with the mass of semi-proletarians, semi-small proprietors, i.e. with the mass of the petty-bourgeois urban and rural poor. And such a composition of the social basis of the possible and desirable revolutionary-democratic dictatorship will of course, find its reflection in the composition of the revolutionary government. With such a composition the participation or even the predominance of the most diversified representatives of revolutionary democracy in such a government will be inevitable.”

(V. I. Lenin; ibid.; p. 35).

1905: The Beginning of the 1905 Revolution

On January 22nd, 1905 a peaceful demonstration of unarmed workers, led by a police agent, a priest by the name of Georgi Gapon, was fired on by troops while on its way to present a petition to the tsar at his Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Over a thousand workers were killed, more than two thousand injured.

The massacre taught tens of thousands of workers that they could win their rights only by struggle. During the weeks and months that followed, economic strikes began to pass into political strikes, into demonstrations and in places into clashes with tsarist troops.

In a letter written in Geneva three days after “Bloody Sunday,” Lenin wrote:

“The Russian proletariat will not forget this lesson. Even the most uneducated, the most backward strata of the working class, who naively trusted the tsar and sincerely wished to put peacefully before ‘the tsar himself’ the requests of a tormented nation, were all taught a lesson by the troops led by the tsar and the tsar’s uncle, the Grand Duke Vladimir… The arming of the people is becoming one of the immediate tasks of the revolutionary movement… The immediate arming of the workers and of all citizens in general, the preparation and organising of the revolutionary forces for overthrowing the government authorities and institutions — this is the practical basis on which all revolutionaries can and must unite to strike a common blow…
Long live the Revolution!
Long live the proletariat in revolt.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Beginning of the Revolution in Russia””, In: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; -London; l946;p. 289, 291, 292).

“No Tsar, but a Workers’ Government”

In February 1905 Trotsky returned to Russia, settling first in Kiev. Here he made contact with a member of the Party’s Central Committee who had the previous July played a treacherous role in assisting the Mensheviks to capture the Central Committee — Leonid Krassin. Krassin was in charge of a clandestine printing plant, which he now placed at Trotsky’s disposal.

A few weeks later Trotsky moved to St. Petersburg, where he became leader of the city’s Menshevik group.

He now adopted the view put forward in Parvus’s preface to his brochure “Before the 9th. January,” namely that the capitalist revolution in Russia should result in a workers’ government:

“The composition of the Provisional Government will in the main depend on the proletariat. If the insurrection ends in a decisive victory, those who have led the working class in the rising will gain power.”

(L. Trotsky: “Article in Iskra” (The Spark), No. 93; March 17th., 1905).

“Trotskyism: ‘No Tsar, but a workers’ government’. This surely, is wrong. There is a petty bourgeoisie, it cannot be ignored”.

(V. I. Lenin: Report on the Political Situation, Petrograd City Conference RSDLP, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 207).

Trotsky however, declared that this formulation of his political line was sloganised by Parvus and not by himself:

“At no time and in no place did I ever write or utter or propose such a slogan as “No Tsar — but a workers’ government.” The fact of the matter is that a proclamation entitled: ‘No Tsar — but a workers’ government’ was written and published abroad in the summer of 1905 by Parvus.”

(L. Trotsky. “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p.222)

The Third Party Congress

Early in 1905, the Central Committee acceded to the pressure within the Party and agreed to collaborate with the Bureau of Majority Committees in convening the Third Congress of the Party.

The congress took place in London in April/May 1905, that is, during the rising tide of the 1905 Revolution. It was boycotted by the Mensheviks, and attended by 24 delegates.

The congress adopted a resolution calling on the Party urgently to make all political and technical preparations for an armed uprising, and to organise armed resistance to the violence of the government-sponsored reactionary organisations. It also amended the formulation of point 1 of the Party rules adopted at the 2nd. Congress in order to bring this into line with Lenin’s principles of Party organisation and, abolishing the dual leading bodies (Central Committee and editorial board) the 2nd. Congress, to make the Central Committee the leading body of the Party.

The congress set up a new central organ of the Party “Proletary” (The Proletarian). Lenin, who chaired the congress, was elected to the Central Committee, which at its first meeting, appointed him editor of the paper. This appeared in May 1905 and was published regularly in Geneva until Lenin returned to Russia in November 1905.

The 1905-Menshevik Conference

The Mensheviks, who boycotted the Third Congress of the Party, held their own conference simultaneously in Geneva. The conference endorsed the Menshevik line on the capitalist revolution (see next section) and refrained from discussing resolutions that had been submitted on the arming of the masses and work among the troops.

Lenin’s “The Two Tactics of Social-Democracy”

In July 1905 Lenin published a long work, “The Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution” in which he analysed the resolution of the Third Party Congress on the question of the capitalist revolution alongside that adopted at the Menshevik conference.

Lenin’s conception of the capitalist revolution was as follows:

1. The capitalist revolution is advantageous to the working class:

“The bourgeois revolution is in the highest degree advantageous to the proletariat. The bourgeois revolution is absolutely necessary in the interests of the proletariat. The more complete, determined and consistent the bourgeois revolution, the more secure will the proletarian struggle against the bourgeoisie and for socialism become.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution”, in: “Selected Works ” Volume 3; London; 1946; p.75).

2. The working class is in fact,- objectively more interested in a full capitalist revolution than is the capitalist class:

“In a certain sense the bourgeois revolution is more advantageous to the proletariat than it is to the bourgeoisie. This postulate is undoubtedly correct in the following sense: it is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie to rely on certain remnants of the past as against the proletariat, for instance, on a monarchy, a standing army, etc. It is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie if the bourgeois revolution does not too resolutely sweep away the remnants of the past, but leaves some. . . It is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie if the necessary bourgeois-democratic changes take place more slowly, more gradually, more cautiously, with less determination, by means of reforms and not by means of revolution; if these changes spare the ‘venerable’ institutions of feudalism (such as the monarchy); if these reforms develop as little as possible the revolutionary initiative of the common people, i.e., the peasantry, and especially the workers, for otherwise it will be easier for the workers, as the French say, ‘to pass the rifle from one shoulder to the other’, i.e., to turn the guns which the bourgeois revolution will place in their hands; the democratic institutions which will spring up on the ground that will be cleared of feudalism, against the bourgeoisie.
On the other hand, it is more advantageous for the working class if the necessary bourgeois democratic changes take place in the form of revolution and not reform.

The very position the proletariat as a class occupies, compels it to be consistently democratic.

The bourgeoisie looks behind, is afraid of democratic progress which threatens to strengthen the proletariat. The proletariat has nothing to lose but its chains, but by means of democracy it has the whole world to win”.

(V.1. Lenin: ibid.; p. 75-77).

3. Therefore, ‘the working class must strive to make itself the leading force in the capitalist revolution, with the peasantry as its allies:

“Only the proletariat can be a consistent fighter for democracy. It may become a victorious fighter for democracy only if the peasant masses join it in its revolutionary struggle. If the proletariat is not strong enough for this, the bourgeoisie will put itself at the head of the democratic revolution and will impart to it the character of inconsistency and selfishness. The proletariat must carry out to the end the democratic revolution, and in this unite to itself the mass of the peasantry in order to crush by force resistance of the autocracy and to paralyse the instability of the bourgeoisie. At the head of the whole of the people, and particularly of the peasantry — for complete freedom for a consistent democratic revolution, for a republic!”

(V.I. Lenin: ibid; p. 86, 110-11, 14).

4. The provisional government which will be set up as a result of a democratic revolution carried out under the leadership of the working class will be the “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry”:

“’A decisive victory of the revolution over tsarism’ is the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry…. It will be a democratic, not a socialist dictatorship.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p,. 82).,

5. The working class must endeavour to continue the capitalist revolution so as to transform it uninterruptedly into a working class revolution, a socialist revolution, which will make the working class the ruling class:

“From the democratic revolution we shall at once, according to the degree of our strength, the strength of the class conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass over to the socialist revolution. We stand for continuous revolution. We shall not stop half way.”

(V. I. Lenin; “The Attitude of Social-Democracy toward the Peasant Movement”, in: ibid; p 145) .

6. The working class will be the leading force in the socialist revolution, with the poorer strata of the peasantry and urban petty-bourgeoisie as its allies:

“The proletariat must accomplish the socialist revolution and in this unite to itself the mass of the semi-proletarian elements of the population in order to crush by force the resistance of the bourgeoisie and to paralyse the instability of the peasantry and petty bourgeoisie. . At the head of all the toilers and the exploited – for socialism!”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Two Tactics Of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 111, 124).

The Menshevik conception of the capitalist revolution, on the other hand, was, on the other hand as follows:

1. As in previous capitalist revolutions in history, the capitalist revolution in Russia will make the capitalists the ruling class:

“It is evident that the forthcoming revolution cannot assume any political forms against the will of the whole – of the bourgeoisie, for the latter will be the master of tomorrow.”

(M. Martynov: “Two Dictatorships”, Cited by: V. I. Lenin: “Social-Democracy, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government”, in: ibid.; p. 26).

2. Therefore the role of the working class in the capitalist revolution must be to exert pressure upon the capitalist class to bring the revolution to a successful conclusion:

“The hegemony of the proletariat is a harmful utopia. The proletariat must follow the extreme bourgeois opposition.”

(M. Martynov: “Two Dictatorships”, cited in: J. V. Stalin: Preface to The Georgian Edition of K. Kautsky: “The Driving Forces and Prospects, of the Russian Revolution”, in: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 2-3).

“The struggle to influence the course and outcome of the bourgeois revolution can express itself only in the fact that the proletariat will exert revolutionary pressure on the will of the liberal and radical bourgeoisie, and that the more democratic ‘lower stratum’ of society will force its’ ‘upper stratum’ to agree to lead the bourgeois revolution to its logical conclusion.”

(M. Martynov: ibid., cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 28).

3. There will be a relatively long interval of time between the capitalist revolution and the subsequent socialist revolution:

“The triumph of socialism cannot coincide with the fall of absolutism. These two movements necessarily will be separated from one another by a significant interval of time.”

(G. Plekhanov: “Chto zhe dal “she?”in: “Zarya”; No. 2-3; December 1901).

4. The capitalist revolution may be decisively victorious over the tsarist autocracy without the revolutionary overthrow of this autocracy:

“A decisive victory of the revolution over tsarism may be marked either by the setting up of a provisional government, which emerges from a victorious people’s uprising, ‘or by the revolutionary initiative of this or that representative institution’ which, under the immediate pressure of the revolutionary people, decides to set up a “national constituent assembly.”

(Resolution of 1905 Menshevik Conference, cited by: V. I. Lenin: “The Two Tactics of social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 57).

5. Social-Democrats must not participate in the provisional government, if one is set up in place of the autocracy since:

a) this will be a capitalist government, and participation by Social-Democrats in a capitalist government is contrary to socialist principles;

b) an attempt to do so would frighten the capitalist class and lead to the restoration of autocracy:

“Social-Democrats must, during the whole course of the revolution, strive to maintain a position which would best of all …preserve it from being merged with bourgeois democracy…. Therefore, Social-Democracy must not strive to seize or share power in the provisional government, but must remain the party of the extreme revolutionary opposition.”

(Ibid., p. 69).

“The Conference believes that the formation of a Social Democratic provisional government, or entry into the government would lead, on the one hand, to the masses of the proletariat becoming disappointed in the Social-Democratic Party and abandoning it …. because the Social-Democrats, in spite of the fact that they had seized power, would not-be able to satisfy the pressing needs of the working class, including the establishment of socialism, and, on the other hand, would induce the bourgeois classes to desert the cause of the revolution and in that way diminish its sweep.”

(Ibid.; p. l04).

“By simply frightening the majority of the bourgeois elements, the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat can lead to but one result — the restoration of absolutism in its original form.”

(M. Martynov: “Two Dictatorships”, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Social-Democracy and the Provisional Revolutionary Government'”; in: ibid.; p. 27).

6. Only in the event of working class revolution in Western Europe should the Social-Democratic Party depart from this principle and participate in the provisional government, for only then would it be possible to go forward in Russia to the working class, socialist revolution:

“Only in one event should social-Democracy, on its own initiative, direct its efforts towards seizing power and retaining it as long as possible, namely, in the event of the revolution spreading to the advanced countries of Western Europe where conditions for the achievement of socialism have already reached a certain state of maturity. In that event, the restricted historical scope of the Russian revolution can be considerably extended and the possibility of striking the path of socialist reforms will arise.”

(Resolution of 1905 Menshevik Conference, cited in: -V.I. Lenin:”The Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, in: ibid.; p. 96).

The St. Petersburg Soviet in the 1905 Revolution

In May 1905 Trotsky went to Finland. When he returned to St. Petersburg in October, a general strike had broken out in the city.

The striking workers elected delegates to a strike committee, which quickly developed into the first important “Soviet of Workers’ Deputies” and began to publish its own organ: “Izvestia” (News). The Mensheviks supported the Soviet from its inception, regarding it as an organ of democratic local government. The St. Petersburg Bolsheviks, led by Bogdan Knunyantz, were, however, at first hesitant in their approach to it, regarding it as a rival to the Party and demanding that it affiliate to the Party before they could support it.

Meanwhile Lenin, after making arrangements for the publication in St. Petersburg of a legal Bolshevik newspaper “Novaya Zizn” (New Life), had left-Geneva in October for Russia. Held up in Stockholm, he wrote from there:

“Comrade Radin (i.e., Knunyantz — -Ed.) is wrong in raising the question in No. 5 of the ‘Novaya Zhizn’, …the Soviet of Workers? Deputies or the Party? I think that it is wrong to put the question in this way, and that the decision must certainly be: both the Soviet of Deputies and the Party . . .

The Soviet of Deputies, as an organ representing all occupations, should strive to include deputies from all industrial, professional and office workers, domestic servants, farm labourers, etc., from all who want and are able to fight in common for a better life for the whole working people.

I think it inadvisable to demand that the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies should accept the Social-Democratic Programme and join the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party….

I believe (On the strength of the incomplete and only ‘paper’ information at my disposal) that politically the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies should be regarded as the embryo of a provisional revolutionary Government.”

(V.I. Lenin “Our Tasks and the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies”; in “Collected Works”; Volume 10; Moscow; 1962; p. 19, 20, 21).

Later, after his arrival in St. Petersburg, Lenin made a clear analysis of the Soviet. It could not be an organ of government until the power of the central tsarist state had been smashed, at least locally; in the existing circumstances its role must be to conduct this revolutionary struggle to smash the central state machine.

“The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies is not a parliament of labour and not an organ of proletarian self-government. It is not an organ of government at all, but a fighting organisation for the achievement of definite aims. . .

The Soviet of Workers Deputies represents an undefined, broad fighting alliance of socialists and revolutionary democrats.”

(V. I.Lenin: “Socialism and Anarchism”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; l943; p. 343) .

“The Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, etc., were in fact the embryo of a provisional government; power would inevitably have passed to them had the uprising been victorious.”

(V.I. Lenin; “The Dissolution of the Duma and the Tasks of the Proletariat”, in: Ibid.; p. 383).

Although the St. Petersburg Bolsheviks corrected their attitude to the Soviet within a few days, their hesitancy in supporting it contributed in considerable measure to the fact that the majority of the deputies were from the outset Mensheviks or supporters of the Mensheviks. On October 30th, the Soviet elected its Executive; this consisted of three Mensheviks, three Bolsheviks, and three Socialist-Revolutionaries.

After a few days under the chairmanship of the Menshevik S. Zborovski, the Soviet elected as its chairman the lawyer Georgi Nosar (better known under his pseudonym “Khrustalev”); who was then independent of any party but later joined the Mensheviks.

Trotsky, who had allied himself with the St. Petersburg Mensheviks on his arrival in the city, was elected to the Soviet and soon came to play a leading role in its activities – which following the Menshevik political line of damping down the revolutionary enthusiasm and activity of the workers.

On November 2nd,

“Trotsky urged the Soviet to call off the general strike.”

(I. Deutscher: “The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921”; London; 1970; p. 132).

and it duly came to an end on November 3rd.

On November 13th, the workers themselves began to introduce an eight-hour working day in the factories, and on the 15th, widespread public indignation at the state of siege which the tsarist government had just imposed on Poland, forced the Soviet to call a second general strike in St. Petersburg.

On November 18th, three days later,

“Trotsky.. . proposed to call an end to the second general strike.”

(I. Deutscher; ibid ; p. 134),

on the pretext that :

“The government had just announced that the sailors of Kronstadt (who had participated in the first general strike — Ed.) would be tried by ordinary military courts, not courts martial. The Soviet could withdraw not with victory indeed, but with honour.”

(I. Deutscher; Ibid.; p. 134).

In his speech to the Soviet urging the calling-off of the second general strike, Trotsky’s biographer declares that:

“While he tried to dam up the raging element of revolt, he stood before the Soviet like defiance itself, passionate and sombre.”

(I. Deutscher: ibid; p. 134),


“Events work for us and we have no need to force the pace. We must drag out the period of preparation for decisive action as much as we can, perhaps for a month or two, until we can come out as an army as cohesive and organised as possible. . .
When the liberal bourgeoisie, as if boasting of its treachery, tells us: ‘You are alone. Do you think you can go on fighting without us? Have you signed a pact with victory?’, we throw our answer in their face: ‘No, we have signed a pact with death.'”

(L.Trotsky; Speech to St. Petersburg Soviet, November 16th., l905, in: No. 7, November 20th., 1905).

Having succeeded in inducing the Soviet to call off the second general strike,

“A few days later he had again to impress upon the Soviet its own weakness and urge it to stop enforcing the eight-hour day. . . The Soviet was divided, a minority demanding a general strike; but Trotsky prevailed.”

(I. Deutscher: ibid; p. 135).


“We have not won the eight-hour day for the working class, but we have succeeded in winning the working class for the eight-hour day.”

(L.Trotsky: Speech to St. Petersburg Soviet, cited in: I. Deutscher: ibid.; p. 140).

In addition to his activities in the Soviet, Trotsky had contrived to gain control, jointly with Parvus (who had followed him to St. Pctersburg and had become a deputy in the Soviet) of a daily newspaper, “Russkaya Gazeta” (The Russian Newspaper), and later in the year, alongside it, he founded with Parvus and Yuli Martov a second daily “Nachalo” (The Beginning),which became the organ of Menshevisim from October to December 1905.

By the beginning of December, the government felt strong enough to take the offensive again. Press censorship was reimposed, and on December 5th. Khrustalev, the Chairman of the Soviet, was arrested together with a few other leading members. Trotsky replied to this by proposing that:

“The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies temporarily elect a new chairman and continue to prepare for an armed uprising.”

(L. Trotsky: Resolution to St. Petersburg Soviet, cited in: I. Deutscher: Ibid.; p. 140)

The Soviet accepted the proposal and elected a three-man Presidium, headed by Trotsky.

But the preparations for the “armed uprising” of Trotsky’s were virtually non-existent.

“The preparations for the rising which Trotsky had mentioned had so far been less than rudimentary: two delegates had been sent to establish contact with the provincial Soviets. The sinews of insurrection were lacking.”

(I. Deutscher: ibid.; p. 140).

Trotsky’s last gesture in the 1905 Revolution was then to put forward a “Financial Manifesto” written by Parvus. This called upon the people to withhold payment of taxes, declaring:

“There is only one way to overthrow the government –to deny it . . its revenue.”

(Financial Manifesto of St. Petersburg Soviet, cited in: I.Deutscher: ibid.; p.141).

On December 16th., Trotsky presided over a meeting of the Executive of the St. Petersburg Soviet, when a detachment of soldiers and police burst in to the meeting room and the members of the executive were arrested. A number of charges were brought against them, the principle charge being that of plotting insurrection.

The role of the Mensheviks in the St. Petersburg Soviet was summed up later by J.V. Stalin:

“The St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, being the Soviet of the most important industrial and revolutionary centre of Russia, the capital of the tsarist empire, ought to have played a decisive role in the Revolution of 1905. However, it did not perform this task, owing to its bad, Menshevik leadership. As we know Lenin had not yet arrived in St. Petersburg; he was still abroad. The Mensheviks took advantage of Lenin’s absence to make their way into the St.Petersburg Soviet and to seize hold of its leadership. It was not surprising under such circumstances that the Mensheviks Khrustalev, Trotsky, Parvus and others managed to turn the St. Petersburg Soviet against the policy of an uprising. Instead of bringing the soldiers into close contact with the Soviet and linking them up with the common struggle, they demanded that the soldiers be withdrawn from St. Petersburg. The Soviet, instead of arming the workers and preparing them for an uprising, just marked time and was against preparations for an uprising.”

(J.V. Stalin: “History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”(Bolsheviks; Moscow; 1941; p.79-80).

The Moscow Uprising

On December 19th., 1905 the Moscow Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, which was led by the Bolsheviks, resolved to:

“Strive to transform the strike into an armed uprising.”

(V.I. Lenin: “The Lessons of the Moscow Uprising; in: “Selected Works, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 346)

and by December 22nd, the first barricades were being set up in the streets.

“The 23rd: artillery fire is opened on the barricades and on the crowds in the streets. Barricades are set up more deliberately, and no longer singly but on a really mass scale. The whole population is in the streets; all the principal centres of the city are covered by a network of. barricades. For several days stubborn guerrilla fighting proceeds between the insurgent detachments and the troops. The troops become exhausted and Dubasov is obliged to beg for reinforcements. Only on December 28 did the government forces acquire complete superiority and on December 30 the Semenov regiment stormed the Prosnya distrect, the last stronghold of the uprising.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Lessons of the Moscow Uprising”, in: ibid; p. 347).

In fact, the attitude of the Menshevik leadership of the St. Petersburg Soviet, led by Trotsky enabled the tsar to transfer troops from the capital to Moscow and this was a significant factor in the crushing of the uprising in the latter city.

“The climax of the Revolution of 1905 was reached in the December uprising in Moscow. A small crowd of rebels, namely, of organised and armed workers — they numbered not more than eight thousand –resisted the tsar’s government for nine days. The government dared not trust the Moscow garrison; on the contrary, it had to keep it behind locked doors, and only on the arrival of the Semenovsky Regiment from St. Petersburg was it able to quell the rebellion.”

(V.I. Lenin: Lecture on the 1905 Revolution, in: ibid.; p. 16).

Soviets of Workers’ Deputies were organised in other towns as well as in St. Petersburg and Moscow. In addition, Soviets of Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies and Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies were established in some places.

Isolated strikes, riots and mutinies continued into 1906, leading to a lack of clarity for some months as to whether the revolutionary tide was ebbing or merely temporarily at rest before a subsequent rise. In fact December 1905 proved to be the peak of the revolutionary tide.

1906 -1907: The Trial of the Leaders of the St. Petersburg Soviet

The trial of the leaders of the St. Petersburg Soviet, the main charge against whom was that of plotting insurrection, began almost a year after the Revolution had been crushed, on October 2nd, 1906.

The defendants denied having engaged in technical preparation for a rising. On October 4th, Trotsky told the court:

“A rising of the masses is not made, gentlemen the judges. It makes itself of its own accord. It is the result of social relations and conditions, and not of a schema drawn up on paper. A popular insurrection cannot be staged. It can only be foreseen. For reasons that were as little dependent on us as on Tsardom, an open conflict had become inevitable. It came nearer with every day. To prepare for it meant for us to do everything possible to reduce to a minimum the number of victims of this unavoidable conflict.”

(L. Trotsky: Speech at Trial of Leaders of St. Petersburg Soviet, cited in: I. Deutscher: “The Prophet Armed- Trotsky: 1879-1921”-; London; 1970; p. 166).

On November 15th, the verdict was delivered. The defendants were found guilty on the main charge of plotting insurrection, but Trotsky and fourteen others were found guilty on minor charges and sentenced to deportation to Siberia for life and loss of all civil rights.

In February 1907 Trotsky escaped into Finland.

Trotsky’s “Results and Prospects”: The Theory of “Permanent Revolution”

While in prison, Trotsky wrote “Results and Prospects,” which was published in St. Petersburg in 1906 as the final chapter of his book “Our Revolution,” a collection of essays on the Russian Revolution of December 1905.

In this essay Trotsky gave a fundamental statement of his views on capitalist revolution, the “theory of permanent revolution”

The term “permanent revolution” was derived from an address by Marx and Engels written in 1850:

“While the democratic petty bourgeois wish to bring the revolution to a conclusion as quickly as possible and with the achievement at most of the above demand, it is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent, until all more or less possessing classes have been displaced from domination, until the proletariat has conquered state power…Their (i.e. the German workers’ –Ed.) battle-cry must be: the permanent revolution.”

(K. Marx and F. Engels: Address of the “Central Council to the Communist League”, in: K. Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 2; London 1943; p. 161, 168)

Lenin accepted this conception of the permanent revolution, although after the publication of Trotsky’s work Marxists preferred to use the term “uninterrupted revolution” or “continuous revolution” in order to avoid confusion with Trotsky’s perversion of the term in connection with his anti-Leninist theory of the capitalist revolution. In September 1905, Lenin wrote:

“From the democratic revolution we shall at once, according to the degree of our strength, the strength of the class conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass over to the socialist revolution. We stand for continuous revolution.”

(V.I. Lenin: “The Attitude of Social-Democracy towards the Peasant Movement”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 145).

Trotsky’s theory of the capitalist revolution, as put forward in “Results and Prospects” was as follows:

1. The working class will be the active force in the capitalist revolution, with the peasantry as supporters:

“The struggle for the emancipation of Russia from the incubus of absolutism which is stifling it has become converted into a single combat between absolutism and the industrial proletariat, a single combat in which the peasants may render considerable support but cannot play a leading role.
Many sections of the working masses, particularly in the countryside, will be drawn into the revolution and become politically organised only after the advance guard of the revolution, the urban proletariat, stands at the helm of the state.

The proletariat in power will stand before the peasants as the class which has emancipated it.

The Russian peasantry in the first and most difficult period of the revolution will be interested in the maintenance of a proletarian regime (workers’ democracy).”

(L. Trotsky: “Results and Prospects”, in: “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p. 66, 70, 71-72).

2. Because the peasantry in the capitalist revolution is destined to play only an auxiliary role of supporters rather than allies of the working class, the democratic-revolution will place in power — not- an alliance of the working class and peasantry, democratic dictatorship of the working class and peasantry” — but the working class, establishing the dictatorship of the working class, a revolutionary workers’ government:

“The idea of a ‘proletarian and peasant dictatorship’ is unrealisable . . There can be no talk of any special form of proletarian dictatorship in the bourgeois revolution, of democratic proletarian dictatorship (or dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry). Victory in this struggle must transfer power to the class that has led the strife, i.e., the Social-democratic proletariat. The question, therefore, is not one of a “revolutionary provisional government” — an empty phrase . . . but of a revolutionary worker government, the conquest of power by the Russian proletariat.”

(Trotsky: ibid.; p. 73, 80, 121-22).

3. Once in power the working class will be compelled to proceed with the construction of a socialist society:

“The proletariat, once having taken power, will fight for it to the very end. . . Collectivism will become not only the inevitable way forward from the position in which the party in power will find itself, but will also be a means of preserving this position with the support of the proletariat. . . The political domination of the proletariat is incompatible with its economic enslavement. No matter under what political flag the proletariat has come to power, it. is obliged to take the path of socialist policy.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 80, 101).

4. But the construction of socialism will inevitably bring the working class into hostile collision with the peasantry and urban petit bourgeoisie:

“Every passing day will deepen the policy of the proletariat in power, and more and more define its class character. Side by side with that, the revolutionary ties between the proletariat and the nation will be broken. . .

The primitiveness of the peasantry turns its hostile face towards the proletariat.
The cooling-off of the peasantry, its political passivity, and all the more the active opposition of its upper sections, cannot but have an influence on a section of the intellectual and the petty-bourgeoisie of the towns.

Thus, the more definite and determined the policy the proletariat in power becomes, the narrower and more shaky does the ground beneath its feet become.

The two main features of proletarian policy which will meet opposition from the allies of the proletariat are collectivism and internationalism.

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p.76-77).

5. Thus the working class in power — now isolated from and opposed by the masses of the peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie – will inevitably be overthrown by the forces of reaction — unless the working classes in Western Europe establish proletarian dictatorships which render direct state aid to the working class of Russia:

“Left to it’s own resources, the working class of Russia will inevitably be crushed by the counterrevolution the moment the peasantry turns its back on it. It will have no alternative but to link the fate of its political rule and, hence, the fate of the whole Russian revolution, with the fate of the socialist revolution in Europe.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 115).

Without the direct State support of the European proletariat the working class of Russia cannot remain in power and convert its temporary domination into a lasting socialistic dictatorship. Of this there cannot for one moment be any doubt.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 105.)

6. The Russian working class government will, therefore, be forced to use its state power to actively to initiate socialist revolutions in Western Europe and beyond:

“This immediately gives the events now unfolding an international character. . . The political emancipation of Russia led by the working class. .will transfer to it colossal power and resources, and will make it the initiator of the liquidation of world capitalism. . .

If the Russian proletariat, having temporarily obtained power, does not on its own initiative carry the revolution on to European soil, it will be compelled to do so by the forces of European feudal-bourgeois reaction.

The colossal state-political power given it by a temporary conjuncture of circumstances in the Russian bourgeois revolution it will cast into the scales of the class struggles of the entire capitalist world.”

(L. Trotsky; ibid.; p. 108, 115).

Trotsky continued to put forward his theory of “permanent revolution” throughout his life.

In his book “The Permanent Revolution,” published in Berlin in Russian in 1930. he says:

“I came out against the formula ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’…. The theory of the permanent revolution, which originated in 1905. . . .pointed out that the democratic tasks of the backward bourgeois nations lead directly, in our epoch, to the dictatorship of the proletariat. . . The socialist revolution begins on national foundations – but it cannot be completed within these foundations. . . . The difference between the permanent and the Leninist standpoint expressed itself politically in the counterposing of the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat relying on the peasantry to the slogan of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. . . . The world division of labour, the dependence of Soviet industry upon foreign technology, the dependence of the productive forces of the advanced countries of Europe upon Asiatic raw materials, etc… make the construction of an independent socialist society in any single country impossible.”

(L. Trotsky: “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p. 128,132, 133, 189, 280).

As we have seen, Lenin analysed the revolutionary process in tsarist Russia as essentially one of two successive stages — firstly, the stage of democratic revolution, secondly, the stage of socialist revolution, but with the possibility of uninterrupted transition from the first stage to the second if the working class were able to win the leading role in the first stage.

The Trotskyite theory of “permanent revolution” rejected Lenin’s concept of two stages in the revolutionary process in tsarist Russia, and postulated a single stage, that of the proletarian-socialist revolution leading directly to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Lenin saw the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries also as essentially one of two successive stages–firstly, the stage of national-democratic revolution, secondly, the stage of socialist revolution, but with the possibility of uninterrupted transition from the first stage to the second if the working class were able to win the leading role in the first stage.

Trotsky logically extended his theory of “permanent revolution” to colonial-type countries, here also postulating a single stage in the revolutionary process, that of proletarian-socialist revolution leading directly to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

“In order that the proletariat of the Eastern countries may open the road to victory, the pedantic reactionary theory of Stalin . . on ‘’stages’’ and ‘steps’’ must be eliminated at the very outset, must be cast aside, broken up and swept away with a broom. . . . With regard to . . . the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the theory of the permanent revolution signifies that the complete and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Comintern’s endeavour to foist upon the Eastern countries the slogan of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, finally and long ago exhausted by history, can have only a reactionary effect.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 48, 276, 278).

Lenin was, of course, strongly opposed to what he called Trotsky’s:

“absurdly ‘Left’ theory of ‘permanent revolution.’”

(V. I. Lenin: “Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 207).

Analysing Trotsky’s “Results and Prospects” in 1907, Lenin pointed out:

“Trotsky’s major mistake is that he ignores the bourgeois character of the revolution and has no clear conception of the transition from this revolution to the socialist revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Aim of the Proletarian Struggle in Our Revolution”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 15; Moscow; 1962; p. 371).

At the end of 1910, we find Lenin saying:

“Trotsky distorts Bolshevim, because he has never been able to form any definite views on the role of the proletariat in the Russian bourgeois revolution.”

(V.1. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”; in: ‘Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; l946; p. 505).

And in November 1915:

“Trotsky . . repeats his ‘original’ theory of 1905 and refuses to stop and think why, for ten whole years, life passed by this beautiful theory.

Trotsky’s original theory takes from the Bolsheviks their call for a decisive revolutionary struggle and for the conquest of political power by the proletariat, and from the Mensheviks it takes the ‘repudiation’ of the role of the peasantry. . . .

Trotsky is in fact helping the liberal labour politicians in Russia who by the ‘repudiation’ of the role of the peasantry mean refusal to arouse the peasants to revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Two Lines of the Revolution”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 162, 163).

In November and December 1924 Stalin made a more comprehensive theoretical analysis of Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution”:

“Trotskyism is the theory of ‘permanent’ (uninterrupted) revolution. But what is permanent revolution in its Trotskyist interpretation? It is revolution that fails to take the poor peasantry into account as a revolutionary force. Trotsky’s ‘permanent’ revolution is, as Lenin said, ‘skipping’ the peasant movement, playing at the seizure of power;. Why is it dangerous? Because such a revolution, if an attempt had been made to bring it about, would inevitably have ended in failure, for it would have divorced from the Russian proletariat its ally, the poor peasantry. This explains the struggle that Leninism has been waging against Trotskyism ever since –1905.”

(J. V. Stalin: “Trotskyism or Leninism?”, in: “Works”, Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 364-65).

“What is the dictatorship of the proletariat according to Trotsky? The dictatorship of the proletariat is a power, which comes ‘into hostile collision’ with ‘the broad masses of the peasantry’ and seeks ‘the solution of its ‘contradictions’ only ‘’in the arena of the world proletarian revolution’.
What difference is there between this ‘theory of permanent revolution’ and the well-known theory of Menshevism which repudiates the concept of dictatorship of the proletariat?

Essentially, there is no difference.

‘Permanent revolution’ is not a mere underestimation of the revolutionary potentialities of the peasant movement. ‘Permanent revolution’ is an underestimation of the peasant movement, which leads to the repudiation of Lenin’s theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’ is a variety of Menshevism. . . .

Trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’ means that the victory of socialism in one country, in this case Russia, is impossible without direct state support from the European proletariat’, i.e., before the European proletariat has conquered power.
What is there in common between this ‘theory’ and Lenin’s thesis on the possibility of the victory of socialism ‘in one capitalist-country taken separately’?

Clearly, there is nothing in common.

What does Trotsky’s assertion that a revolutionary Russia could not hold out in the face of a conservative Europe signify?

It can signify only this:

firstly, that Trotsky does not appreciate the inherent strength of our revolution;

secondly, that Trotsky does not understand the inestimable importance of the moral support which is given to our revolution by the workers of the West and the peasants of the East; thirdly, that Trotsky does not perceive the internal infirmity which is consuming imperialism today.

Trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’ is the repudiation of Lenin’s theory of proletarian revolution; and conversely, Lenin’s theory of the proletarian revolution is the repudiation of the theory of ‘permanent revolution’. . . .

Hitherto only one aspect of the theory of ‘permanent revolution’ has usually been noted — lack of faith in the revolutionary potentialities of the peasant movement. Now, in fairness, this must be supplemented by another aspect — lack of faith in the strength and capacity of the proletariat in Russia.

What difference is there between Trotsky’s theory and the ordinary Menshevik theory that the victory of socialism in one country, and in a backward country at that, is impossible without the preliminary victory of the proletarian revolution in the principal countries of Western Europe?

Essentially, there is no difference.

There can be no doubt at all. Trotsky’s theory of ‘permanent revolution’ is a variety of Menshevism . . .

Honeyed speeches and rotten diplomacy cannot hide the yawning chasm which lies between the theory of ‘permanent revolution’ and Leninism.”

(J. V. Stalin: “The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists”, in: ‘Works’, ibid.; p. 385-6,389, 392, 395-96, 397).

The Campaign for Party Unity

In the revolutionary conditions, which prevailed in the autumn of 1905, Bolsheviks and Mensheviks of the rank and file worked closely together and by the end of the year most of the local organisations of the two “parties” had united. Accordingly the demand grew among the workers and the rank-and-file of the Party that the leaderships of the two sections should unite.

While fully supporting these moves for unity, Lenin and most of the Bolsheviks felt strongly that the political differences between the leaderships of the two factions should not be glossed over, since this would only confuse the workers. In this they were opposed by conciliationists among the Bolsheviks, such as Leonid Krassin and Aleksandr Bogdanov, who minimised these differences.

Lenin arrived back in Russia in November 1905, and in December attended the First Party (Bolshevik) Conference in Tammerfors (Finland), where he met J.V. Stalin for the first time.

The conference adopted a resolution to apply the elective principle within the Party in view of the freer political conditions brought about by the 1905 revolution, and another favouring the earliest possible restoration of unity with the Mensheviks and the immediate creation of a joint Central Commiittee.

Simultaneously with the Bolshevik conference, the Mensheviks held a conference in St. Petersburg where, under pressure from their- rank-and-file, they endorsed the Leninist formula of Party organisation in point 1 of the Party rules and adopted a resolution in favour of unity with the Bolsheviks

The joint Central Committee, consisting of three Bolsheviks and three Mensheviks, began to operate at the height of the December insurrection. When at the end of December, both the Bolshevik “Novaya Zhizn” (New Life) and the Menshevik “Nachalo”(Beginning) were suppressed, both leaderships combined to issue a joint newspaper — “Severny Golos” -(Voice of the North) — under a joint editorial Board.

1907, The Fourth (Unity) Congress of the Party

The Fourth Unity Congrcss of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour was held in Stockholm (Sweden) in-April/May 1906 was attended by 111 delegates from Party organisations, together with 3 each from the national parties which affiliated to the Party at the Congress (the “Bund”, the Polish Social-Democratic Party and the Social-Democratic Party 0f the Latvian Region).

As a result of the fact that many Bolshevik-led Party organisations had been broken up after the 1905 uprising, a number of these were not represented at the congress, so that the Mensheviks had a majority (62-49). This manifested itself in a number of the resolutions. As Lenin pointed out:

“The three most important resolutions of the Congress clearly reveal the erroneous views of the former ‘Menshevik’ faction, which numerically was predominant at the Congress.

“The Congress rejected the proposal to make it one of the tasks of the Party to combat. . Constitutional-illusions.

Nor in its resolutions on the armed uprising did the Congress give what was necessary, viz., direct criticism of the mistakes of the proletariat, a clear estimate of the experience of October-December 1905, or even an attempt to study the inter-relation between strikes and uprising. The Congress did not openly and clearly tell the working class that the December uprising was a mistake, but in a covert way it condemned the uprising.

We think that this is more likely to confuse the political class consciousness of the proletariat than to enlighten it..

We must and shall fight ideologically against those decisions of the Congress which we regard as erroneous.”

(V. I. Lenin: An Appeal to the Party by Delegates at the Unity Congress who belonged to the Late ‘Bolshevik’ Faction, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; l946; p. 469, 470-71.)

Nevertheless, the congress endorsed the basic principles of Party organisation put forward by Lenin.

The congress also endorsed the formal unity of the two factions and the principle of democratic centralism.

The Central Committee elected at the Fourth Congress consisted of 7 Mensheviks and 3 Bolsheviks.

Against Bolshevik opposition, a Menshevik resolution was carried which elected an editorial board for the central organ of the Party which was outside the control of the Central Committee and contained not a single Bolshevik; it consisted of Martov, Dan, Martynov, Potresov and Maslow. During its life this editorial board did not publish a single issue of the central organ.

Thus, the “unity” created at the Fourth Congress between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks was purely formal, and the two factions continued to exist within the framework of a single party.

The Stolypin Repression

The First State Duma met in May 1906, but did not prove docile enough for the ruling class. In July the tsarist government dissolved it, and Petr Stolypin (who had been Minister for Internal Affairs since May) was made Prime Minister. Under Stolypin a period of active repression of the revolutionary movement began. The new government suppressed the Bolshevik newspaper, which had been coming out since April under the successive names of “Volna” (The Wave), “Vperyod” (Forward) and “Ekho” (The Echo). In August 1906, regulations were issued providing for trial by courts martial and the death sentence for “revolutionary activity”, and mass arrests and executions followed. In the same month the Bolsheviks began to issue an illegal newspaper, “Proletary” (Proletarian), edited by Lenin, which continued to appear until December 1909.

In September 1906 Lenin proposed that, since the tide of revo1ution was now clearly on the ebb, the Party shou1d participate in the elections for the Second State Duma (due to be convoked in March 1907). As a result, left-wing representation in this Duma was considerably stronger than it had been in the first, namely:

157 Trudoviks (Group of Toil) and Socialist-Revolutionaries (expressing the outlook of the peasantry) (from 94 in the First State Duma);

165 Social-Democrats (from 18 in the First State Duma), while the representation of the Cadets (the Constitutional-Democratic Party, representing the interests of the bourgeoisie)

fell from 179 to 98. Most of the Social Democratic deputies were, however Mensheviks.

The Fifth Party Congress

The Fifth Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party was held in London in May/June 1907. It was attended by 336 delegates, representing a membership of some 150,000.

The congress consolidated the Russian, Polish and Latvian Parties (together with, for a time, the Bund) into a single Party based on (mainly) Leninist principles.

Trotsky participated in the congress, expounding at length his “theory of permanent revolution,” to which Rosa Luxemburg gave her support:

“At the London congress I renewed acquaintance with Rosa Luxemburg whom I had known since 1904. . .On the question of the so-called permanent revolution, Rosa took the same stand as I did.”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1971; p. 203).

In the resolutions the congress largely adopted the Bolshevik line. A Bolshevik resolution condemning the Menshevik proposal to transform the Party into a broad “Labour Party” of the British type was carried by 165 votes to 94; another Bolshevik resolution declaring that the Cadets were now a counter-revolutionary party which must be mercilessly exposed, and that it was essential to coordinate the Party’s own activity with that of the parties expressing the outlook of the peasantry (i.e., the Trudoviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries) was carried by 159 votes to 104.

However, a Bolshevik motion of censure on the Menshevik Central Committee elected at the Fourth Congress in 1906 was lost. This resolution was opposed not only by the Mensheviks, but by a centrist group headed by Trotsky:

“If, after all, the Bolshevik resolution, which noted the mistakes of the Central Committee was not carried, it was because the consideration “not to cause a split” strongly influenced the comrades.”

(J.V. Stalin: “The London Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Notes of a Delegate)”; in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 59)

“Trotsky… spoke on behalf of the ‘Centre’, and expressed the views of the Bund. He fulminated against us for introducing our ‘unacceptable’ resolution. He threatened an outright split. . . That is a position based not on principle, but on the Centre’s lack of principle.”

(V. I. Lenin: Fifth Congress of RSDLP, Speech on the Report of the Activities of the Duma Group, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 12; Moscow; 1962; p. 451-2)

Trotsky endeavored to justify his concilationist position by suggesting that there were no fundamental differences between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, saying:

“Here comes Martov . . and threatens to raise between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks a Marxist wall . . .’Comrade Martov, you are going to build your wall with paper only with -your polemical literature you have nothing else to build it with.”

(Pyatyi Syezd RSDRP (Fifth Congress RSDLP); Moscow; n.d.; p. 54-55).

In view of the decline of the revolutionary tide, the question of ‘armed insurrection’ was dropped from the agenda of the congress. However, a sharp controversy arose at the congress on the question of “expropriations,” i.e., the illegal acquisition of funds for the Party.

Lenin’s views on this question had been expressed in an article published in “Proletary,” in October 1906:

“Armed struggle pursues two different aims; which must be strictly distinguished; in the first place this struggle aims at assassinating individuals, chiefs and subordinates, in the army and police: in the second place, it aims at the confiscation of monetary funds both from the government and from private persons. The confiscated funds go partly into the treasury of the Party, partly for the special purpose of arming and preparing for an uprising, and partly for the maintenance of persons engaged in the struggle we are describing. . .

It is not guerilla actions which disorganise the movement, but the weakness of a party which is incapable of taking such actions under its control.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘Guerilla Warfare, in: “Collected Works””, Volume 11; Moscow; 1962; p. 216, 219).

The Fourth Congress of the Party in 1906 had adopted a Menshevik resolution banning Party members, from taking part in “expropriations” and at the Fifth Congress an attack was launched upon the Bolsheviks for allegedly continuing to take part in (or at least advise others on the organisation of “expropriations.” A Menshevik motion was adopted at the Fifth Congress banning the participation of Party members in all armed actions and acts of “expropriation” and- ordering the disbandment of the fighting squads connected with the, Party.

Trotsky, according to his biographer, sharply supported the Menshevik attacks on this issue:

“The records of the Congress say nothing about the course of this controversy, (i.e. on “expropriations” –Ed.); only fragmentary reminiscences, written many years after, are available. But there is no doubt that Trotsky was, with Martov, among those who sharply arraigned the Bolsheviks.”

(I. Deutscher; ‘The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921″; London; 1970; p. 179).

Shortly after the Congress, Lenin wrote to Maxim Gorky that :

“At the London Congress, too, he (i.e., Trotsky –Ed.) acted the ‘poseur.’”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Maxim Gorky, February 13th., 1908; in: ,”Collected Works”, Volume 34; Moscow; 1966; p. 386).

While Stalin, writing of Trotsky’s activities at the congress, declared

“Trotsky proved to be ‘pretty but useless.’”

(J.V. Stalin: “The London Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Notes of a Delegate)”, in: “Works”; Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 52).

After the congress Trotsky carried his attacks on the Bolsheviks on the question of “expropriations’ into the columns of “Vorwaerts” (Forward), the organ of the German Social-Democratic Party. He describes how Lenin reacted to this news:

“I told Lenin of my latest article in “Vorwaerts” about the Russian Social-Democracy. . . The most prickly question in the article was that of so-called ‘expropriations’. .. The London congress, by a majority of votes composed of Mensheviks, Poles and some Bolsheviks banned ‘expropriations’. When the delegates shouted from their seats: “What does Lenin say? We want to hear Lenin”, the latter only chuckled, with a somewhat cryptic expression. After the London congress, ‘expropriations’ continued. . . That was the point on which I had centred my attack in the “Vorwaerts.”

‘Did you really write like this?’, Lenin asked me reproachfully.

Lenin tried to induce the Russian delegation at the congress to condemn my article. This was the sharpest conflict with Lenin in my whole life.”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; Now York; 1971; p. 218).

The Stolypin Coup d’Etat

In June 1907 the tsarist government accused the Social-Democratic deputies in the Second-State Duma of conspiracy, and demanded that the Duma lift their parliamentary immunity. When the Duma hesitated, the government peremptorily dissolved it on June 16th, 1907 – the “Coup d’Etat of June 3rd 1907 as it was known under the old calendar. Most of the Social-Democratic deputies were then arrested.

In the same manifesto the government announced new electoral laws for the Third State Duma, the purpose of which was to increase the representation of the landlords and capitalists, and to reduce still further the representation of the workers and peasants.

“The government promulgated a ‘new law’ which reduces the number of peasant electors by half, doubles the number of landlord electors, . reduces the number of deputies also by nearly half. . . reserves for the government the right to distribute voters according to locality, various qualifications and nationality; destroys all possibility of conducting free election propaganda, etc., etc. And all this has been done in order to prevent revolutionary representatives of the workers and peasants from getting into the Third Duma, in order to fill the Duma with the liberal and reactionary representatives of the landlords and factory owners. This is the idea behind the dispersion of the Second State.”

(J.V. Stalin: “The Dispersion of the Duma and the Tasks of the Proletariat”, in: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; l9~3; p. 14).

The Third Party Conference

The Third Conference of the RSDLP was held in August 1907 in Vyborg (Finland), attended by 26 delegates of whom 15 were Bolsheviks and 11 Mensheviks.

The dissolution of the Second State Duma and the issue of the new reactionary electoral law had caused the Socialist-Revolutionary Party to revert to a policy of boycotting the elections to the Third State Duma, and had revived boycotting among the Bolsheviks. The leader of the boycottists at the conference was Aleksandr Bogdanov.

Lenin moved a resolution at the conference which declared that reaction prevailed in the country and would prevail for some years, although it would inevitably be followed by a new upsurge; in the meantime it was essential to take advantage of every legal opportunity and, in particular, of the tribune afforded by the Duma. The resolution was adopted by the conference.

The Third State Duma

Despite the decision of the Third Party Conference to participate in the elections to the Third State Duma, many Bolsheviks continued to oppose this. In the autumn of 1907 Lenin wrote a number of articles on this question, the most famous of which – “Against the Boycott” – — Was published as part of a pamphlet entitled “Boycott of the Third Duma,” the other part being written by Lev Kamenev and entitled “For the Boycott!”

“The state of affairs now, in the autumn of 1907, does not call for such a slogan and does not justify it. . . .
Without renouncing the application of the slogan of boycott in times of an upsurge, when the need for such a slogan may seriously arise, we must direct all our efforts towards the aim of transforming by direct influence every upsurge in the labour movement into a general, wide, revolutionary attack against reaction as a whole, against its very foundations.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Boycott: From the Notes of a Social-Democratic Publicist”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; l946; p.427).

The Third State Duma was convened in November 1907. By reason of the new reactionary electoral system, left–wing representation in the Duma was considerably reduced from what it had been in the second, namely:

13 Trudoviks (Group of Toil), from l57 Trudoviks and Social-Revolutionaries in the Second State Duma);

18 Social-Democrats (from 65 in the Second State Duma)

The Fourth Party Conference

The Fourth Conference of the RSDLP was held in November 1907 in Helsingfors (Finland), attended by 10 Bolsheviks, 4 Mensheviks, 5 representatives of the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, 3 representatives of the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region, and representatives of the “Bund.”

The main business of the conference was to discuss the work of the Social-Democratic fraction in the newly elected Third State Duma. The Mensheviks to whose faction a majority of the Social-Democratic deputies belonged — were in favour of the independence of the deputies from Party control, while the Bolsheviks regarded it as essential that the fraction should be guided by the Party like any other section of Party members. The Bolshevik resolution to this effect was adopted. This resolution also demanded that the fraction should wage relentless war in the Duma on the pro-tsarist majority, that it should under no circumstances curtail its’ demands in concession to reaction, and that its efforts should be primarily devoted to using the Duma as a tribune for agitational purposes, in order to expose to the masses the reactionary policy of the pro-tsarist parties.

1907 – 1908: The Move Abroad

Owing to the increased repression of the Stolypin regime, which was extended to Finland despite the Finnish constitution, the Central Committee was compelled to move from Russia to Geneva towards the end of 1907. The publication of the illegal Bolshevik paper “Proletary” was also transferred to Geneva.

In December 1907 Lenin moved from Geneva to Paris.

In February 1908 the first issue of the central organ of the Party – “Sotsial-Demokrat” (The Social-Democrat) appeared in Russia. Following the arrest of its editors, publication of the paper was transferred abroad, first to Paris, then to Geneva. It continued to appear until January 1917.

The Menshevik leaders also moved abroad, and in February 1908 began to issue their organ “Golos Sotsial-Demokrata” (The Voice of the Social-Democrat) . The first editorial board consisted of Pavel Axelrod, Fedor Dan, Yuli Martov and Aleksandr Martynov. It continued to appear until December 1911.

1908: Liquidationism

The movement among the Mensheviks to transform the Party into a broad, legal Labour Party along British lines developed by the summer of 1908 into a trend which the Leninists called “liquidationism,” since it aimed at the liquidation of the Party as the revolutionary vanguard of the working class.

“Our Party organisations have all become reduced in membership. Some of them — namely, those whose membership was least proletarian — fell to pieces. The semi-legal institutions of the Party, created by the revolution, were raided time after time. Things reached such a state that some elements within the Party, which had succumbed to the influence of that disintegration, began to ask whether it was necessary to preserve the old Social-Democratic Party, whether it was necessary to continue its work, whether it was necessary to go ‘underground’ once more, and how this was to be done; and the extreme Right (the so-called liquidationist trend) answered this question in the sense that it was necessary to legalise ourselves at all costs, even at the price of an open renunciation of the Party programme, tactics and organisation. This was undoubtedly not only an organisational but also an ideological and political crisis.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On to the High Road”; in ‘Works’; Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 3).

Liquidationism is ideologically connected with renegacy, . with opportunism. . . But liquidationism is not only opportunism. . . Liquidationism is opportunism that goes to the length of renouncing the Party . . . The renunciation of the ‘underground’ under the existing conditions is the renunciation of the old Party.

Liquidationism is not only the ‘liquidation’ of the old party of the working class; it also means the destruction of the class independence of the proletariat, the corruption of its class-consciousness by bourgeois ideas.

The liquidators are petty-bourgeois intellectuals, sent by the bourgeoisie to sow the seeds of liberal corruption among the workers. The liquidators are traitors to Marxism.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘Controversial Questions”; in: ibid.; p. 126-7, 131, 138).

The August 1908 Central Committee Meeting

In August 1908 a meeting of the Central Committee of the RSDLP was held and the liquidator Mensheviks opened their attack on the Party organisation by moving a resolution that the Central Committee should be abolished as the leading organ of the Party and converted into a mere information bureau. The motion was defeated, and a Bolshevik motion to convene a Party Conference was adopted.

At this meeting the Central Committee set up a Russian Bureau of the Central Committee, composed of one representative each of the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks, the Polish Party, the Latvian Party and the ‘Bund’, responsible, under the Central Committee, for the direction of Party work within Russia. It also set up a Central Committee abroad, composed of members of the Central Committee residing outside Russia, responsible to the Russian Collegium.

“Otzovism” and “Ultimatumism”

From August 1908 the Leninist tactics of combining legal and illegal forms of struggle began to be attacked, riot only by the liquidationists on the right, but also by a group of ‘leftist’ Bolsheviks who demanded the renunciation of all legal forms of struggle.

Since the main demand of this group of Bolsheviks was the immediate recall of the Social-Democratic Deputies from the Duma, they were called “Otzovists” (from “otozvat,” to recall).

Another group of ostensibly “leftist” Bolsheviks did not demand the immediate recall of the Party’s deputies, but demanded that they should be presented with an ultimatum to correct their politicel errors or be recalled. Lenin described these “ultimatumists” as:

“bashful otzovists.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”, in: ibid.; p. 514) .

The leading figures among the otzovists and ultimatumists were Aleksandr Bogdanov, Anatoly Lunacharsky, Leonid Krassin and Grigori Alexinsky.

In arguing in favour of recall, as did both otzovism and ultimatumism, the adherents of these trends made great play with the errors committed by the Social-Democratic deputies in the Duma who were mainly Mensheviks. The Leninists replied that this was an argument for correcting the errors, not for recalling the deputies.

“The illegal Party must know how to use the legal Duma fraction . . The most regrettable deviation from consistent proletarian work would be to raise the question of recalling the fraction from the Duma. ….

We must at once establish team work in this field, so that every Social-Democratic deputy may really feel that the Party is backing him, that the Party is distressed over his mistakes and takes care to straighten his path –so that every Party worker may take part in the general Duma work of the Party. . . striving to subordinate the special work of the fraction to Party propaganda and agitational activity as a whole.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On to the High Road”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1943; p. 8, 9).

The Leninists strongly condemned both otzovism and ultimatumism as “liquidationism in reverse,” since, like liquidationism; its aim was to liquidate one side of the Party’s work:

“In the course of the bourgeois-democratic revolution our Party was joined by a number of elements that were not attracted by its purely proletarian programme, but mainly by its glorious and energetic fight for democracy.

In these troubled times such elements more and more display their lack of Social-Democratic consistency and, coming into ever sharper contradiction with the fundamentals of revolutionary Social-Democratic tactics, have been, during the past year, creating a tendency which is trying to give shape to the theory of otzovism and ultimatumism.

Politically, ultimatumism at the present time is indistinguishable from otzovism; it only introduces greater confusion and disintegration by the disguised – character of its otzovism. By their attempt to deduce from the specific application of the boycott of representative institutions at this or that moment of the revolution that the policy of boycotting is a distinguishing feature of Bolshevik tactics in the period of counter-revolution also — ultimatumism and otzovism demonstrate that these trends are in essence the reverse side of Menshevism, which preaches indiscriminate participation in all representative institutions- irrespective of the given stage of development of’ the revolution. . . .

0tzovist-ultimatumist agitation has already begun to cause definite harm to the labour movement and to Social-Democratic work.. .

Bolshevism as a definite tendency . . has nothing in common with otzovism and ultimatumism and . . the Bolshevik faction must more resolutely combat these deviations from the path of revolutionary Marxism”.

(V.I. Lenin: Resolution of the Meeting of’ the Enlarged Editorial Board of ‘Proletary’: “On Otzovism and Ultimatumism”, in: ibid.; p. 19, 20-21).

The Struggle on Two Fronts

From August 1908, therefore, the Leninists carried on a struggle on the question of Party organisations on two fronts:

Against liquidationism on the one hand, and against “leftist” otzovism and ultimatumism on the other hand.

“Three and a half years ago all the Marxists. . had unanimously to recognise two deviations from the Marxian tactics. Both deviations were recognised as dangerous. Both deviations were explained as being due, not to accident, not to the evil intention of individual persons but to the ‘historical situation of the labour movement in the given period. . .

The deviations from Marxism are generated by the “bourgeois influences over the proletariat.”

(V. I.Lenin: “Controversial Questions” in: Ibid; p.129, 130).

“The Bolsheviks have actually carried on, from August 1908 to January l910, a strugg1e on two fronts, i.e., a struggle against the liquidators and the otzovists.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist”, in: ibid.; p. 45).


The reaction following the defeat of the 1905 Revolution led to a revival of’ idealist philosophy among the Russian intelligentsia, including some Social-Democrats.

During 1908 a number of books were published which claimed to bring Marxism “up-to-date.” The most important of these was a symposium entitled “Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism,” published in St. Petersburg, the leading contributors to which were Aleksandr Bogdanov and Anatoly Lunacharsky. Following the lines of an earlier work by -Bogdanov – “Empirio-Criticism” (1904-06)– this attempted to combine Marxist philosophy with the idealist philosophy of Ernst Mach and Richard Avenarius to produce a “synthesis” which they called “empirio-criticism.”

“A number of writers, would-be Marxists, have this year undertaken a veritable campaign against the philosophy of Marxism. In the course of less than half a year four books devoted mainly and almost exclusively to attacks on dialectical materialism have made their appearance. These include first and foremost ‘Studies in (? — it would have been more proper to say ‘against’) the Philosophy of Marxism.’”

(V.1. Lenin: Preface to the First Edition of “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism”; in: ‘Selected Works’; Volume 11; London; 1943; p. 89).

In September 1908 Lenin completed a long philosophical work, “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism,” published in May 1909, in which he attacked and exposed these works of Anti-Marxist philosophy:

“Behind the mass of new terminological devices, behind the litter of erudite scholasticism, we invariably discerned two principal alignments, two fundamental trends in the solution of philosophical problems, Whether nature, matter, the physical, the external world be taken as primary, and mind, spirit, sensation (experience – as the widespread terminology of our time has it) , the psychical, etc., be regarded as secondary — that is the root question which in fact continues to divide the philosophers into two great camps.

The theoretical foundations of this philosophy (i.e., empirio-criticism — Ed.) must be compared -with those of dialectical materialism. Such a comparison . . reveals, along the whole line of epistemological problems, the thoroughly reactionary character of empirio-criticism, which uses new artifices, terms and subtleties to disguise the old errors of idealism and agnosticism. Only utter ignorance of the nature of philosophical materialism generally and of the nature of Marx’s and Engels’ dialectical method can lead one to speak of a ‘union’ of empirio-criticism and Marxism. .

Behind the epistemological scholasticism of empirio-criticism it is impossible not to see the struggle of parties in philosophy, a struggle which in the last analysis reflects the tendencies and. ideology of the antagonistic classes in modern society. The contending parties essentially, although concealed by a pseudo-erudite quackery of new terms or by a feeble-minded non-partisanship, are materialism and idealism. The latter is merely a subtle, refined form of fideism, which stands fully armed, commands vast organisations and steadily continues to exercise influence on the masses, turning the slightest vacillation in philosophical thought to its own advantage. The objective, class role played by empirio-criticism entirely consists in rendering faithful service to the fideists in their struggle against materialism in general and historical materialism in particular“.

(V.I. Lenin: “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism”, in: ibid: p.385-6, 405, 406).


Among some Social-Democrats the revival of idealist philosophy took the form of trying to reconcile Marxist philosophy and religion.

In 1908, Anatoly Lunacharsky published “Religion and Socialism” in which he described Marxism as a “Natural, earthly, anti-metaphysical, scientific and human-religion.”

Shortly afterwards Maxim Gorky wrote a novel entitled “A Confession,” in which a character prays to the people with the words:

“Thou art my God, O sovereign people, and creator of all the gods, which thou hast formed from the beauties of the spirit in the travail and torture of thy quest..
And the world shall have no other gods but thee, for thou art the only god that works miracles.
This . . .is my confession and belief.”

(M. Gorky: “A Confession”; London 1910; p. 320).

Gorky carried this idea forward in his articles and letters.

“One does not seek for Gods – one creates them!”

(M. Gorky: “The Karamazov Episode Again”, cited-by: V. I. Lenin: Letter to A. M. Gorky, November 14th,1913, in: ibid.; p. 675).

The Leninists strongly attacked the concept of “God Building.”

“I cannot -and will not have anything to do with people who have set out to propagate unity between scientific socialism and religion.”

(V.I.Lenin: Letter to A.M.Gorky, April , 1908; In: “Socheniya”; Volume 34; Moscow; 1950; p.343.)

“God seeking no more differs from god-building, or god-making, or god-creating or the like than a yellow devil differs from a blue devil . .

Every religious idea, every idea of god, even every flirtation with the idea of god, is unutterable vileness, vileness that is greeted very tolerantly (and often even favourably) by the democratic bourgeoisie — and for that very reason it is vileness of the most dangerous kind, ‘contagion’ of the most abominable kind. Millions of sins, filthy deeds, acts of violence and physical contagions are far more easily exposed by the crowd, and are therefore far less dangerous, than the subtle, spiritual ideas of a god decked out in the smartest ‘ideological’ costumes. The Catholic priest who seduces young-girls (of whom I happened to read in a German newspaper) is far less dangerous to democracy than a priest without a frock, a priest without a coarse religion, a democratic priest with ideas who preaches the making and creating of a god. For the first priest is easily exposed, condemned and ejected, whereas the second cannot be ejected so easily.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to A. N. Gorky, November l4th. 1913; in: “Selected Works”, Volume 11; London; l943; p. 675-6).

“You advocate the idea of god and god-building…This theory is obviously connected with the theory, or theories, of Bogdanov and Lunacharsky. . . . And it is obviously false and obviously reactionary.

You have gilded and sugar-coated the idea of the clericals, the Purishkeviches, Nicholas II and Messieurs the Struves, for, in practice, the idea of god helps THEM to keep the people in slavery. By gilding the idea of-god, you gilded the chains with which they fetter – the ignorant workers and muzhiks. . .

The idea, of god has always deadened and dulled ‘social- sentiments’, for it substitutes a dead thing for a living thing, and has always been an idea of slavery (the worst, hopeless kind of slavery). The idea of god has never ’bound the individual to society’ but has always bound the oppressed classes by belief in the divinity of the oppressors.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to A. N. Gorky, December 1913; in: ibid; p. 678-9).

The “Party Mensheviks”

The Leninists considered that a truly united Party could be brought about-only by a rapproachement between the Bolsheviks on the one hand and a section of the Mensheviks on the other hand, those representing the principal factions within the Party and the only ones with significant mass influence. They estimated that a section of the Mensheviks would move farther from reflecting the interests of the capitalist class and nearer to reflecting the interests of the working class, so coming to oppose liquidationism, to split off from the liquidator Mensheviks and to support genuine, practical unity with the Bolsheviks.

In fact, towards the end of 1908 various groups of Mensheviks in Moscow, and later in the Vyborg district of St. Petersburg, passed resolutions sharply condemning the liquidator Mensheviks and their anti-Party policy.

A leading role in the splitting of the Mensheviks was taken by Georgi Plekhanov, who publicly dissociated himself from liquidationism, retired from the editorial board of the organ of the liquidator Mensheviks, “Golos Sotsial-Demokrata” (The Voice of the Social-Democrat), and began to issue his own illegal journal “Dnevnik Sotsial-Demokrata” (The Diary of a Social-Democrat) . In this paper, Plekhanov vigorously attacked the liquidators and called upon all Mensheviks who recognised the necessity of illegal work to rally together. The Leninists called these anti-liquidationist Mensheviks “Party Mensheviks.”

“Factions are generated by the relations between the classes in the Russian revolution. The Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks only formulated answers to the questions put to the proletariat by the objective realities of l905-97. Therefore, only the inner evolution of these factions, the ‘strong’ factions — strong because of their deep roots, strong because their ideas correspond to certain aspects of objective reality — only the inner evolution of precisely these factions is capable of securing a real fusion of the factions, i.e- the creation of a genuinely and completely united party of proletarian Marxian socialism in Russia. Hence the practical conclusion:

the rapprochement in practical work between these two strong factions alone – and only in so far as they are purged of the non-Social-Democratic tendencies of liquidationism and otzovism – really represents a Party policy, a policy that really brings about unity, not in an easy way, not smoothly, and by no means immediately, but in a real way as distinguished from the endless quack promises of easy, smooth, immediate fusion of “all” factions. . ..

In my discussions I suggested the slogan: ‘rapprochement between the two strong factions, and no whining over the dissolution of the factions’.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 93-4).

“The present split among the Mensheviks is not accidental but inevitable.

The stand taken by certain Mensheviks justifies their appellation ‘Party Mensheviks’. They took their stand upon the struggle for the Party against the independent legalists…

Plekhanov was never a Bolshevik. We do not and never will consider him a Bolshevik. But we do consider him a Party Menshevik, as we do any Menshevik capable of rebelling against the group of independent legalists and carrying on the struggle against them to the end. We regard it as the absolute duty of all Bolsheviks in these difficult times, when the task of the day is the struggle for Marxism in theory and for the Party in the practical work of the labour movement, to do everything possible to arrive at a rapprochement with such Social-Democrats”

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 66, 67, 69).

“In my opinion, the line of the bloc (Lenin-Plekhanov) is the only correct one: 1) this line, and it alone, answers to the real interests of the work in Russia, which demand that all real Party elements should rally together; 2) this line, and it alone, will expedite the process of emancipation of the legal organisations from the yoke of the Liquidators, by digging a gulf between the Menshevik workers and the Liquidators, and dispersing and disposing of the latter. A fight for influence in the legal organisations is the burning question of the day, a necessary stage on the road towards the regeneration of the Party.; and a bloc is the only means by which these organisations can be cleansed of the garbage of Liquidationists.

The plan for a bloc reveals the hand of Lenin — he is a shrewd fellow and knows a thing or two. But this does not mean that any kind of bloc is good. A Trotsky bloc (he would have said ‘synthesis’) would be rank unprincipledness.

A Lenin-Plekhanov bloc is practical because it is thoroughly based on principle, on unity of views on the question of how to regenerate the Party.”

(J. V. Stalin:”Letter to the Central Committee of the Party from Exile in Solvychegodsk, December 1910, in “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; l952; p. 2l5, 216).


The Leninists maintained that unity was possible only with groups, which accepted the fundamental principles of Leninist strategy and tactics, and of Leninist organisation.

There were some, however, who stood for unity of the groups at any price, who minimised the differences of principle between Bolsheviks and others and who demanded, that for the sake of unity, the Leninists should make compromises in their principles. Those people the Leninists called “conciliationists.”

“Differences of opinion must be hushed up, their causes, their significance, their objective conditions should not be elucidated. The principal thing is to ‘reconcile’ persons and groups. If they do not agree upon the carrying out of common policy, that policy must be interpreted in such a way as to be acceptable to all. Live and let live. This is philistine ‘concilationism’, which inevitably loads to narrow-circle diplomacy. To ‘stop up’ the source of disagreement, to hush it up, to ‘adjust’ at all costs, to neutralise the conflicting trends –it is to this that the main attention of such ‘concilationism’ is directed.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist,” in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 41).

The Leninists regarded concilationism as the product of the same objective conditions which had produced the factions between which it strove for agreement.

“Concilationism is the sum total of moods, strivings and views which are indissolubly bound up with the very essence of the historical task set before the RDSLP during the period of the counter-revolution of 1908-11.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: ibid.; p. 93).

They recognised conciliationism as a partial and concealed deviation from Marxist principles, since its aim was to secure modifications by the Leninists of their Principles for the sake of unity.

“Conciliatioism . . really renders a most faithful -service to the liquidators and the otzovists, and therefore constitutes an evil all the more dangerous to the Party, the more cunningly, artfully and floridly it cloaks itself with professedly Party, professedly anti-factional declamations.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist”, in: ibid.; p. 40).

“The role of the conciliators during the period of counter-revolution may be characterised by the following picture. With immense efforts the Bolsheviks are pulling our Party wagon up a steep slope. The liquidators –‘Golos’-ites are trying with all their might to drag it downhill again. In the wagon sits a conciliator; he is a picture of tenderness. He has such a sweet face, like that of Jesus. He looks the very incarnation of virtue. And modestly dropping his eyes and raising his hands he exclaims: ‘I thank: thee, Lord, that I am not like one of these’ — a nod in the direction of the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks – ‘vicious factionalists’ who hinder all progress’. But the wagon moves slowly forward and in the wagon sits the conciliator.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: ibid.; p. 110-11).

The Viennese “Pravda”

In the summer of 1907, following the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP, Trotsky had moved to Berlin. Here he became intimate with the right wing-leaders of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany. As his biographer, Isaac Deutscher, expresses it:

“Curiously enough, Trotsky’s closest ties were not with the radical wing of German socialism, led by Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebnicht and Franz Mehring, the future founders of the Communist Party, but with the men . . who maintained the appearances of Marxist orthodoxy, but were in fact leading the party to its surrender to the imperialist ambitions of the Hohenzollern empire.”

(I. Deutscher “The Prophet Armed Trotsky: 1879-1921”; London: 1970; p.162).

Trotsky contributed frequently to the SPG’s daily “Vorwarts” (Forward) and to its monthly ‘Neue Zeit’ (New Life), on which his influence was strong.
In those articles Trotsky reiterated his attacks on the “sectarianism” of the Bolsheviks, alleging that the:

“Boycottist tendency runs through the whole history of Bolshevism — the boycott of the trade unions, of the State Duma, of the local government bodies, etc.”

(L.. Trotsky: Article in “Neue Zeit”, No.50, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”, in: Selected Works’, Volume 3; London; 1946; p.505),

as a

“. . result of the sectarian fear of being swamped by the masses”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 505).

To which Lenin replied: 

“As regards the boycott of the trade unions and the local government bodies, what Trotsky says is positively untrue. It is equally untrue to say that boycottism runs through the whole history of Bolshevism; Bolshevism as a tendency took definite shape in the spring and summer of 1905, before the question of the boycott first came up. In August 1906 in the official organ of the faction, Bolshevism declared that the historical causes which called forth the necessity of the boycott had passed. Trotsky distorts Bolshevism.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 505.)

Trotsky further declared that both the Bolshevik and the actions, and the Party itself were “falling to pieces.” To this Lenin replied:

“Failing to understand the historical-economic significance of this split in the epoch of the counter-revolution, of this falling away of non-Social-Democratic elements from the Social-Democratic Labour Party, Trotsky tells the German readers that both factions are ‘falling to pieces,’ that the Party is ‘falling to pieces’, that the Party is becoming ‘disintegrated’.

This is not true. And this untruth expresss.. first of all, Trotsky’s utter lack of theoretical understanding. Trotsky absolutely fails to understand ‘why the Plenum described both liquidationism and otzovism as the manifestation of bourgeois influence over the proletariat’. Just think: is the severance from the Party of trends which have been condemned by the Party and which express the bourgeois influence over the proletariat, the collapse of the Party, the disintegration of the Party, or is it the strengthening and purging of the Party?”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 515)

The German government refused to allow Trotsky to stay in Berlin, and he moved shortly to Vienna. However he maintained his influence in the press of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany, the leaders of which continued to regard him as “the authority,” on the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.

“It is time to stop being naive about the Germans, Trotsky is now in full command there.. . It’s Trotsky and Co. who are writing, and the Germans believe them. Altogether, Trotsky is boss in ‘Vorwarts.’”

(V. I. Lenin: “Letter to the Bureau of the CC of the RSDLP”, April 16th. 1912, in: “Collected Works”Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 34, 35).

Trotsky remained in Vienna for seven years, and there he became intimate with the right-wing leaders of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party – Victor Adler, Rudolf Hilferding, Otto Bauer an& Karl Renner. He became Vienna correspondent of the daily newspaper “Kievskaya Mysl” (Kievan Thought), and contributed to a number of other papers.

In October 1908, Trotsky began to edit a small run-down paper called “Pravda” (Truth), started in 1905, by the pro-Menshevik Ukrainian Social-Democratic League (“Spilika”) At the end of 1908, the group abandoned the paper, and it became Trotsky’s own journal. Published in Vienna from November 1909, it continued to appear until December 1913.

The principal regular contributors to the Viennese “Pravda,” under Trotsky, were Aleksandr Skobolev (a student-who later became Minister of Labour in the Kerensky government) Adolf Yoffe (who committed suicide in 1927-in protest at Trotsky’s expulsion from the Party), David Ryazanov (later director of the Marx-Engels Institute) and Victor Kopp (later a Soviet diplomat).

As Lenin commented in October 1911:

“‘Pravda’ represents a tiny group, which has not given an independent and consistent answer to any important fundamental question of the revolution and counter-revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Concilators or the Virtuous” in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 106).

Under Trotsky the Viennese “Pravda” became the principal organ of conciliationism, as Lenin repeatedly pointed out, describing Trotsky as a

“spineless conciliator”;

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 60).

“During the period of the counter-revolution of 1908-11 . . Trotsky provides us with an abundance of instances of unprincipled ‘unity’ scheming”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: ibid.; p. 93, 105.)

Trotsky himself admits:

“My inner party stand was a concilationist one. . The great historical significance of Lenin’s policy was still unclear to me at that time, his policy of irreconcilable ideological demarcation and, when necessary split, for the purpose of welding and tempering the core of the truly revolutionary party.

By striving for unity at all-costs, I involuntarily and unavoidably idealised centrist tendencies in Menshsvism.”

(L. Trotsky: “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p. 173).

In fact, Trotsky elaborated in this period a “theory” of conciliationism, based on the erroneous concept that factions expressed, not the interests of different classes, but “the influence of the intelligentsia” upon the working class:

“Trotsky expressed conciliationism more consistently than anyone else. He was probably the only one who attempted to give this tendency a theoretical foundation. This is the foundation: factions and factionalism-expressed the struggle of the intelligentsia ‘for influence over the irmiature proletariat’. . . .
The opposite view (i.e. the Leninist view – Ed.) is that the factions are generated by the relations between the classes in the Russian revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 93).

Trotsky attempted to give substance to his “non-factional” pose by articles in which he attacked as “anti-revolutionary” both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. In 1909, for example, he wrote in Rosa Luxemburg’s Polish paper “Przeglad Socjal-Demokratyczny” (Social-Democratic Review):

“While the Mensheviks, proceeding from the abstraction that ‘our revolution is bourgeois’, arrive at the idea of adapting the whole tactic of the proletariat to the conduct of the liberal bourgeoisie, right up to the capture of state power, the Bolsheviks, proceeding from the same bare abstraction: ‘democratic, not socialist dictatorship’, arrive at the idea of the bourgeois-democratic self-limitation of the proletariat with power in its hands. The difference between them on this question is certainly quite important: while the anti-revolutionary sides of Menshevism are already expressed in full force today, the anti-revolutionary features of Bolshevism threaten to become a great danger only in the event of the victory of the revolution.”

(L. Trotsky: Article in “‘Przeglad Socjal-Demokratyczny”, cited in: L. Trotsky: “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p. 235-36).

However, Lenin pointed out that, under the guise of “non-factionalism,” Trotsky was, in fact, forming his own faction:

“That Trotsky’s venture is an attempt to create a faction is obvious to all now.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”, in: “Selected Works”; Volume 3; London; 1943; p.517).

“We were right in referring to Trotsky as the representative of the ‘worst remnants of factionalism’…Although Trotsky professes to be non-factional, he is known to all who are in the slightest degree acquainted with the labour movement in Russia as the representative of “Trotsky’s faction” — there is factionalism here, for both the essential characteristics of it are present: 1) the nominal recognition of unity, and 2) group segregation in reality. This is a remnant of factionalism, for it is impossible to discover in it anything serious in the way of contacts with the mass labour movement in Russia. Finally it is the worst kind of factionalism, for there is nothing ideologically and politically definite about it.”

(V.I. Lenin: “Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”; Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 191, 192).

Trotsky’s faction, declared Lenin, vacillated in theory from one of the major factions to the other:

“Trotsky completely lacks a definite ideology and policy, for having the patent, for ‘non-factionalism’, only means . . having a patent granting complete freedom to flit from one faction to another.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 191-92).

“Trotsky, on the other hand; represents only his own personal vacillations and nothing more. In l903 he was a Menshevik; he abandoned Menshevism in 1904, returned to the Mensheviks in 1905 and merely flaunted ultra-revolutionary phrases; in 1906 he left them again; at the end of 1906 he advocated elect-oral agreements with the Cadets (i.e., was virtually once more with the Mensheviks) ; and in the spring of 1907, at the London Congress, he said that he differed from Rosa Luxemburg on ‘individual shades of ideas rather than on political tendencies’. Trotsky one day plagiarises the ideological stock-in-trade of one faction; next day he plagiarises that of another, and therefore declares himself to be standing above both factions.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia in: ‘Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 517).

His “political line” asserted Lenin, is mere high flown demagogy, characterised by revolutionary phrases, designed to deceive the workers:

“The Trotskys decieve the workers. Whoever supports Trotsky’s puny group supports a policy of lying and deceiving the workers. . . by ‘revolutionary’ phrase-mongering.”

(V. I. Lenin: “From the Camp of the Stolypin ‘Labour’ Party”, in: “Collected Works”; Volume 17; Moscow; 1963; p. 243).

“Empty exclamations, high-flown words. . and impressively important assurances — that is Trotsky’s total stock-in-trade.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Question of Unity”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; Moscow; 1963; p. 553) .

“Trotsky is fond of sonorous and empty phrases. . . . Trotsky’s phrases are full of glitter and noise, but they lack content. . . . Trotsky is very fond of explaining historical events in pompous and sonorous phrases, in a manner flattering to Trotsky.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “”Selected Works”; Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 189,192, 194).

This demagogy, asserted Lenin, is used to attempt to conceal the fact that in practice Trotsky’s faction supports, and has the confidence of the liquidator Mensheviks and the otzovists:

“People like Trotsky, with his inflated phrases about the RSDLP and his toadying to the liquidators, ‘who have nothing in common’ with the RSDLP, today represents ‘the prevalent disease’. At this time of confusion, disintegration and wavering it is easy for Trotsky to become the ‘hero of the hour’ and gather all the shabby elements around himself. Actually they preach surrender to the liquidators who are building a Stolypin Labour Party.”

(V. I. Lenin: Resolution Adopted By the Second Paris Group of the RSDLP on the State of Affairs in the party”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 17: Moscow; 1963; p. 216).

“Trotsky and the ‘Trotskyites and conciliators’ like him are more pernicious than any liquidators; the convinced liquidators state their views bluntly, and it is easy for the workers to detect where they are wrong, whereas the Trotskys deceive the workers, cover up the evil. . . Whoever supports Trotsky’s puny group supports a policy. . of shielding the liquidators. Full freedom of action for Potresov and Co. in Russia, and the sheltering of their deeds by ‘revolutionary’ phrase-mongering abroad – — there you have the essence of the policy of ‘Trotskyism.’”

(V. I. Lenin: “From the Camp of the Stolypin ‘Labour Party’”, in: ibid.; p. 243).

“Trotsky’s particular task is to conceal liquidationism by throwing dust in the eyes of the workers. It is impossible to argue with Trotsky on the merits of the issue, because Trotsky holds no views whatever. We can and should argue with confirmed liquidators and otzovists; but it is no use arguing with a man whose game is to hide the errors of both trends; in his case the thing is to expose him as a diplomat of the smallest calibre.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Trotsky’s Diplomacy and a Certain Party Platform”, in: ibid.; p. 362).

“Trotsky follows in the wake of the Mensheviks and camouflages himself with particularly sonorous phrases. . .
In theory Trotsky is in no respect in agreement with either the liquidators or the otzovists, but in actual practice he is in entire agreement with both the ‘Golos’-ites and the ‘Vperyod’-ists. . .
Trotsky . . enjoys a certain amount of confidence exclusively among the otzovists and the liquidators.”

(V. I. Lenin : “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle” in Russia, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 499, 517).

The Menshevik leader Yuli Martov endorsed Lenin’s estimate of Trotsky in a letter dated May 1912:

“The logic of things compels Trotsky to follow the Menshevik road, despite all his reasoned pleas for some ‘synthesis’ between Menshevism and Bolshevism. … He has not only found himself in the camp of the ‘liquidators’, but he is compelled to take up there the most ‘pugnacious’ attitude towards Lenin.”

(Y. Martov: Letter, May 1912, cited in: “Pisnia P. B. Axelroda i Y. 0. Martova”. (Letters of P. B.Axelrod and Y. 0. Martov); Berlin, 1924; p. 233).

1909: The Fifth Party Conference

The Fifth Conference of the RSDLP was held in Paris in January 1909, attended by 18 delegates (6 Bolsheviks, I Mensheviks, 5 representatives of the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, and 3 representatives of the “Bund”).

The conference adopted a Bolshevik resolution which defined liquidationism as:

“…the attempts of a certain section of the Party intelligentsia to liquidate the existing organisation of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and substitute for it an amorphous association within the limits of legality at all costs, even if this legality is to be attained at the price of an open renunciation of the programme, tactics and traditions of our Party.”

(Resolution on Organisation, 5th. Conference of RSDLP, cited by V. I. Lenin. “Excerpts from the Resolutions of the Prague Conference of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party”; in: “Selected Works”; Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 151).

and instructed the Party to wage a determined struggle against this deviation:

“The All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party recognises that the following constitute the fundamental tasks of the Party at the present time: . . .
3) to strengthen the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party in the shape it assumed during the revolutionary period; . . to fight against deviations from revolutionary Marxism, against the curtailment of the slogans of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, and against the attempts to dissolve the illegal organisations of the RSDLP that are observed among certain Party elements, which have yielded to the influence of disintegration.”

(V. I. Lenin: Draft Resolution on the Present Situation and the Tasks of the Party, in: ibid.; p. 15).

The “Proletary” Conference

In June 1909 the editorial board of the Bolshevik newspaper “Proletary” (The Proletarian) called a conference in Paris to which leading Bolsheviks were invited. Although called officially an “enlarged editorial conference” it was, in fact, a Bolshevik Conference.

The conference adopted a-resolution to the effect that otzovism, ultimatumism, Machism and god-building were all incompatible with membership of the Bolshevik faction, and the adherents of these trends were declared to have placed themselves outside the faction:

“At an official meeting of its representatives held as far back as the spring of 1909, the Bolshevik faction repudiated and expelled the otzovists.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 517).

The conference drew attention to the emergence of the “Party Mensheviks,” and declared:

“Under such circumstances, the task of the Bolsheviks, who will remain the solid vanguard of the Party, is not only to continue the struggle against liquidationism and all the varieties of revisionism, but also to establish closer contact with the Marxian and Party elements of the other factions.”

(V. I. Lenin: Resolution of the Meeting of the Enlarged Editorial Board of “Proletary” – on “The Tasks of the Bolsheviks in the Party”, in: ‘Selected Works,” Volume 4; London 1943; p. 23-24).

The “Vperyod” Group

From August to December 1909 a number of otzovists and god-builders who had been expelled from the Bolshevik faction at the enlarged meeting of the editorial board of in June, held a “school” on the island of Capri (Italy).
The leading figures in the school were Grigori Alexinsky, Aleksandr Bogdanov and Anatoly Lunacharsky, with the participation of Maxim Gorky.

In December 1909 a number of lecturers at the Capri school, together with a number of prominent Bolsheviks including Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, Dmitri Manuilsky and Mikhail Pokrovsky formed themselves into a new faction which they named “Vperyod” (Forward.) The name was selected because it was that of the paper published by the Bolshevik “Bureau of the Committees of the Majority” in 1904, in order to lend support to the group’s claim that its members were “true Bolsheviks” and that the Leninists were now “betraying Bolshevism.”

As Lenin characterised the faction:

“’Vperyod’ represents a non-Socialist-Democratic tendency (otzovism and Machism)”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous.””,Lenin “Selected Works”., Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 106).

Analysing the programme put forward by the “Vperyod” group, Lenin criticised it for its deviations towards otzovism in the sphere of political tactics and towards reactionary idealism in the sphere of philosophy:

“The platform of the “Vperyod” is permeated through and through by views which are incompatible with Party decisions. . .
In actual fact otzovist tactical conclusions follow from the view adopted by the ‘vperyod’ platform.
By putting forward in its platform the task of elaborating a so-called ‘proletarian philosophy’, ‘proletarian culture’, etc., the ‘Vperyod’ group in fact comes to the defence of the group of literati who are putting forward anti-Marxist views in this field. . . .
By declaring otzovism a ‘legitimate shade of opinion’, the platform of the ‘Vperyod’ group shields and defends otzovism, which is doing great harm to the Party.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The ‘Vperyod’ Group”, in: “Collected Works”; Volume 16; Moscow; 1963; p.145-6).

“Everyone knows that it is precisely Machism that is really implied by the term ‘’proletarian philosophy’. In fact, the most influential literary nucleus of the group is Machian, and it regards non-Machian philosophy as non-‘proletarian’….In reality, all the phrases about ‘proletarian culture’ are intended precisely to cloak the struggle against Marxism.

(V.I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist”, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 35-6).

In the winter of 1910-11 the ‘Vperyod’ group organised a second ‘school’ at Bologna (Italy), Here Trotsky acted as one of the lecturers, together with Yuli Martov and Aleksandra Kollontai.

1910: The January 1910 Central Committee Meeting

In January 1910, against the opposition of Lenin who considered the circumstances inopportune, a meeting of the Central Commiittee of the RSDLP was held in Paris, attended by representatives of the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks, the “Party Mensheviks”, the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region, the “Vperyod” group, the Viennese group, and the “Bund’. Lenin’s opposition to the holding of the Central Committee at this time was due to his awareness that a number of Bolsheviksincluding Alexel Rykov, Solomon Lozovsky, Lev Kamenev, and Grigori Sokolnikov, had adopted a concilationist position.

Despite this, the Leninists were able to secure the unanimous adoption of a resolution which condemned both otzovism and liquidationism, although without specifically naming them.

“The historical situation of the Social-Democratic movement in the period of the bourgeois counter-revolution inevitably gives rise, as a manifestation of the bourgeois influence over the proletariat, on the one hand to the renunciation of the illegal Social-Democratic Party, this debasement of its role and importance, the attempts to curtail the programme and tactical tasks and slogans of consistent Social-Democracy, etc.; on the other hand, it gives rise to the renunciation of the Duma work of Social-Democracy and of the utilisation of the legal possibilities, the failure to understand the importance of either, the inability to adapt the consistent Social-Democratic tactics to the peculiar historical conditions of the present moment, etc.

An integral part of the Social-Democratic tactics under such conditions is the overcoming of both deviations by broadening and deepening the Social-Democratic work in all spheres of the class struggle of the proletariat and by explaining the danger of such deviations.”

(Resolution of Plenum of Central Committee of the RSDLP, January 1910, cited by V. I. Lenin: “Controversial Questions”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 129).

Lenin’s draft resolution used the phrase “fight on two fronts,” but this was altered by the meeting, on Trotsky’s motion, to the phrase “overcoming … by broadening and deepening”:

“The draft of this resolution was submitted to the Central Committee by myself, and the clause in question was altered by the plenum itself . . on the motion of Trotsky, against whom I fought without success. . . . The words ‘overcoming by means of broadening and deepening’ were inserted on Trostsky’s motion. . . ‘

Nothing at the plenum aroused more furious – and often comical — indignation than the idea of a ‘struggle on two fronts’. . . .

Trotsky’s motion to substituite ‘overcoming by means of broadening and deepening’ for the struggle on two fronts’ meet with the hearty support of the Mensheviks and the ‘Vperyod’-ists. . . .

In reality this phrase expresses a vague desire, a pious innocent wish that there should be less internal strife among the Social-Democrats! . . it is a sigh of the so-called conciliators.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist’, in: ibid.; p. 45, 47)

Despite it’s dilution by the concilationists, Lenin considered this resolution as “especially important”:

“This decision is especially important because it was carried unanimously: all the Bolsheviks, without exception, all the so-called ‘Vperyod’-ists, and finally (this is most important of all) all the Mensheviks and the present liquidators without exception, and also all the ‘national’ (i.e., Jewish, Polish and Lettish) Marxists endorsed this decision.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Controversial Questions “, in: ibid.; p. 128-9).

However, the conciliationists managed to secure the adoption of a number of other resolutions at the Central Committee meeting:

1) to dissolve all factional groups;
2) to discontinue the Bolshevik paper “Proletary” and the Menshevik paper “Golos Sotsial-Demokrata”;
3) to grant Trotsky’s Viennese “Pravda”‘ a subsidy from Party funds and to delegate a representative of the Central Committee to sit as co-editor along with Trotsky;
4) to set up an editorial board for the Party’s central organ, “Sotsial-Demokrat” (The Social-Democrat) consisting of two Bolsheviks (Lenin and Zinoviev), two Mensheviks (Martov and Dan, and one representative of the Polish Party (Waraki);
5) to initiate a “Discussion Sheet” in conjunction with the central organ, open to representatives of trends which differed from the line of the Party;
6) to establish the seat of the Central Committee in Russia;
7) to transfer all funds in the possession of factional centres to the general Party treasury.

So far as the last point was concerned, the Bolsheviks transferred their funds to three trustees – the leaders of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany, Karl Kautsky, Franz Mehring and Clara Zetkin — until it could be shown that the other factions had carried out the decisions adopted at the Central Committee meeting.

The Leninists characterised this series of decisions as a conciliationist error, since it secured the dissolution of the Bolshevik faction in return for a worthless verbal promise from the other factions.

“Both the ideological merit of the plenum and its conciliationist error become clear. Its merit lies in its rejection of the ideas of liquidationism and otzovism; its mistake lies in indiscriminately concluding an agreement with persons and groups whose deeds do not correspond to their promises ( ‘they signed the resolution’).”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: ibid.; p. 101).

“The conciliators recognised all and sundry tendencies on ‘their mere promise to purge themselves, instead of recognising only those tendencies which are purging themselves (and only in so far as they do purge themselves) of their “ulcers”. The ‘Vperyod’-ists, the ‘Golos’ ites and Trotsky all ‘signed’ the resolution against otzovism and liquidationism — that is, they promised to ‘purge themselves’ — and that was the end of it! The conciliators ‘believed’ the promise and entangled the Party with non-Party grouplets, ‘ulcerous’ as they themselves admitted.”

(V. I.. Lenin: ‘The Climax of the Party Crisis’ in. ibid; p. 115).

The Violation of the CC Decisions

The Bolsheviks dissolved their factional organisation and wound up their factional Paper ‘Proletary’ (The Proletarian), in accordance with the decisions of the January 1910 meeting of the Central Committee.

The Mensheviks, however, declined to dissolve their factional organisation, their factional paper “Golos Sotsial-Demokrata’ (The Voice of the Social-Democrat) or to break with liquidationism. In fact, they began to publish in St. Petersburg a new legal monthly magazine called “Nasha Zarya” (Our Dawn) (which continued to appear until 1914) and continued to publish in Moscow their legal journal “Vozrozhdeniye” (Regeneration). And in August 1910 the Mensheviks began to issue in Moscow the magazine “Zhizn”(Life) (which, appeared until September 1910), while in January 1911 they began to issue in St. Petersburg the legal magazine “Dyelo Zhizni” (Life’s Cause) (which appeared until October 1941).

In all these publications, as well as in “Golos Sotsial-Deniokrata”; which continued to appear regularly, the Mensheviks continued to put forward openly liquidationist views:

“A party in the form of a complete and organised hierarchy of institutions does not exist”

(P. Potresov: Article in “Nasha Zarys”, No. 2, February 1910, p. 61, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Notes Of a Publicist”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; l943; p. 53).

“There is nothing to wind up and — we on our part would add — the dream of re-establishing this hierarchy in its old underground form is simply a harmful reactionary utopia.”

(Editorial in “Vozrozhdeniye”, No. 5, April 12th., 1910, p. 51, cited in V.I.Lenin: ibid.; p. 53).

“The tactics which are to be observed in the activities of the so-called ‘liquidators’ are the ‘tactics’ which put the open labour movement in the centre, strive to extend it in every possible direction, and seek within this open labour movement and there only the elements for the revival of the party.”

(Y.Martov: “Article in “Zhizn”, No. 1, September 12th., 1910, p. 9-l0; cited in: V. I. Lenin: ‘The Social Structure of State Power, the Prospects and Liquidationism”; in:ibid.; p. 84).

“In the new historical period of Russian life that has set in, the working class must organise itself not ‘for revolution’, not ‘in expectation of a revolution’, but simply for the determined and systematic defence of its special interests in all spheres of life; for the gathering and training of its forces for this many-sided and complex activity; for the training and accumulation in this way of socialist consciousness in general; for acquiring the ability to find one’s bearings — to stand up for oneself.”

(Y. Larin: “Right Turn and About Turn!”, in: “Dyelo Zhizni”, No. 2, p..18, cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 90).

“Great political tasks make inevitable a relentless war against anti- liquidationism …. Anti-liquidationism is a constant brake, constant disruption.”

(F. Dan: “Article in “Nasha Zarya”, No. 6, 1911, cited by: J. V. Stalin: “The Situation in the Social-Democratic Group in the Duma “, in: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 385).

In various articles from June 1910 onwards, Lenin drew attention to the fact that the liquidator Menshviks had failed to carry out the decisions of the January 1910 Central Committee meeting:

“During that year (1910), the ‘Golos’-ites, the ‘Vperyod’-ists, and Trotsky, all in fact, estranged themselves from the Party and moved precisely in the direction of liquidationism and otzovism-ultimatumism.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Climax of the Party Crisis”, in: ibid; p. 116).

“Since that very plenum of 1910, the above-mentioned principal publications of the liquidators. . have turned decidedly and along the whole line towards liquidationism, not only by ‘belittling’ (in spite of the decisions of the plenum) ‘the importance of the illegal Party’; but directly renouncing the Party, calling it a ‘corpse’, declaring the Party to be already dissolved, describing the restoration of an illegal Party as a ‘reactionary Utopia’, heaping calumny and abuse on the illegal Party in the pages of the legal magazines.”

(V. I. Lenin: Resolution on Liquidationism and the Group of Liquidators, Sixth Conference of the RSDLP, in: Ibid.; p. 152)

All the liquidationist newspapers and magazines….. after the most definite and even-unanimous decisions have been adopted by the Party, reiterate thoughts and arguments that contain obvious liquidationism…

The truth proved by the documents I have quoted, which cover a period of more than five years (1908-13), is that the liquidators, mocking all the Party decisions, continue to abuse and bait the Party, i.e., ‘illegal work.'”

(V.I. Lenin: “Controversial Questions”, in:. ibid.; p. 133-4).

The ‘Vperyod’-ists, on the other hand, continued to support toleration of otzovism within the Party:

“‘Vperyod’, No. 3 (May 1911) . . openly states that otzovism is a ‘completely legitimate tendency within our Party’ (p. 78).”

(V.I. Lenin: ‘The New Faction of Conciliators Or the Virtuous’, in; ibid.; p. 107).

In September 1910, Trotsky expelled Lev Kamenev, the officica representative of the Central Committee of the Party, from the editorial board of ‘Pravda’ denouncing:

“The conspiracy of the emigre clique (i.e., the Bolsheviks — Ed.) against the Russian Social-Democratic Labour party”;

(L. Trotsky: “Pravda’, No. 21, 1910),

and adding threateningly:

“Lenin’s circle, which wants to place itself above the Party, will find itself outside it’.

(L. Trotsky: ibid).

Lenin declared that Trotsky’s expulsion of the CC representative from the editorial board of “Pravda” confirmed the already expressed view of the Bolsheviks that, under the guise of “non-factionalism,” Trotsky was, in fact, endeavouring to form a faction:

“That Trotsky’s venture is an attempt to create a faction is obvious to all now, after obvious to all now, after Trotsky has removed the representative of the Central Committee from ‘Pravda.’”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”: In ‘Selected Works’; Volume 3; London; 19~6; p. 517).

The fact that Trotsky’s professed desire for unity of the factions concealed his support in practice for the Menshevik liquidators and otzovists is shown by his failure to condemn these factions for their repudiation of the conciliationist decisions to which all actions had agreed at the January 1910 meeting Central Committee.

As Trotsky’s sympathetic biographer Isaac Deutscher expresses it:

“This was the occasion on which Trotsky, the champion of unity, should have spared the offenders against unity no censure. Yet in ‘Pravda’ he ‘suspended judgement’ and only mildly hinted at his disapproval of the Mensheviks’ conduct.. . . Trotsky took his stand against the disciplinarians. Having done so, he involved himself in glaring inconsistencies. He, the fighter for unity, connived in the name of freedom of dissent at the new breach in the Party brought about by the Mensheviks. He, who glorified the underground with zeal worthy of a Bolshevik; joined hands with those who longed to rid themselves of the underground as a dangerous embarrassment. Finally, the sworn enemy of bourgeois liberalism allied himself with those who stood for an alliance with liberalism against those who were fanatically opposed to such an alliance. . . .
So self-contradictory an attitude brought him nothing but frustration. Once again to the Bolsheviks he appeared not just an opponent, but a treacherous enemy. . . Martov made him turn a blind eye more than once on Menshevik moves which were repugnant to him. His long and bitter quarrel with Lenin made him seize captiously on every vulnerable detail of Bolshevik policy. His disapproval of Leninism he expressed publicly with the usual wounding sarcasm. His annoyance with the Mensheviks he vented mostly in private arguments or in ‘querulous’ letters.”

(I. Deutscher: “The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921”; London; 1970; p.. 195, 196).

Lenin expressed, himself more forthrightly on Trotsky’s attitude in an article entitled “Judas Trotsky’s Blush of Shame”:

“At the Plenary Meeting Judas Trotsky made a big show of fighting liquidationism and otzovism. He vowed and swore that he was true to the Party. He was given a subsidy. . .
Judas expelled the representative of the Central Committee from ‘Pravda’ and began to write liquidationist articles in ‘Vorwarts’. In defiance of the direct decision of the School Commission appointed by the Plenary Meeting to the effect that no Party lecturer may go to the ‘Vperyod’ factional school, Judas Trotsky did go and discussed a plan for a conference with the ‘Vperyod’ group. . . Such is Judas Trotsky’s blush of shame.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Judas Trotsky’s Blush of Shame”; in: “Collected Works”; Volume 17; Moscow; 1963; p.45) .

The liquidator Menshevik members of the Central Committee, now based in Russia by the decision of the January 1910 meeting of the Central Committee and so compelled to function illegally, refused to attend the CC on the grounds that all illegal organisations were “objectionable” and “harmful.” The conciliationist members of the Central Committee refused to agree to meetings of the Central Committee without the liquidator Mensheviks, on the grounds that such meetings would be “unrepresentative.”

“And what about the work in Russia? Not a single meeting of the Central Committee was held during the whole year! Why? Because the members of the Central Committee in Russia (conciliators who well deserved the kisses of ‘Golos Likvidatorov’) kept on ‘inviting’ the liquidators for a year and a quarter but never got them to ‘accept the invitation.’”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Climax of the Party Crisis”, in: Ibid.; p.116).

The result was that for a considerable period after the January 1910 meeting of the Central Committee, all practical Party work was carried out by the Bolsheviks and the Party Mensheviks,” the latter led by Georgi Plekhanov.

“All Party work .. during the whole of that year (i.e., 1910 — Ed.) was done by the Bolsheviks and the Plekhanovists. . .
This Party work (in literature, which was accessible to all) was conducted by the Bolsheviks and the Plekhanovists in spite…of the ‘conciliatory’ resolutions and the collegiums formed by the plenum, and not in conjunction with the ‘Golos’-ites and the ‘Vperyod’-ists, but against them (because it was impossible to work in conjunction with the liquidators and otozovists-ultimatumists).”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 115, 116).

1910-1911: The Bolsheviks Re-form their Faction

Considering in September 1910 that the repudiation of the January 1910 Central Committee decisions had been sufficiently demonstrated; in this month the Bolsheviks funded their own factional newspaper “Rabochaya Gazeta”‘ (Worker’s Newspaper), published in Paris under the editorship of Lenin. The Sixth Party Conference in January 1912, transformed this paper into the official organ of the Party’s Central Committee, and it continued to appear until August 1912.

“The first factional step the Bolsheviks took was to found “Rabochaya Gazeta” in September 1910.”

(V. I. Lenin. “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in “Selected Works” Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 102).

In December 1910 the Bolsheviks announced formally that they considered themselves released from all the obligations imposed by the January 1910 Central Committee meeting since its decisions had been consistently flouted by the liquidator Mensheviks.

“By their ‘declaration’ of December 18, 1910, the Bolsheviks openly and formally declared that they cancelled the agreement with all the other factions. The violation of the ‘peace’ made at the plenum, its violation by ‘Golos’, ‘Vperyod’ and Trotsky, had become a fully recognised fact.”

(V.I. Lenin: “The Climax of the Party Crisis”, in ibid.; p.117.)

In the same month, December 1910, the Bolsheviks began publication in Russia of’ the legal newspaper “Zvezda” (The Star) – published at first weekly and then two or three times a week, in St. Petersburg until its suppression by the tsarist government in April 1912. “Zvedzda”, was succeeded by “Nevskaya Zvezda” (The Neva Star) , until this too was suppressed in October 1912. They also began to issue the legal magazine “Mysl” (Thought), published monthly in Moscow until April 1911.

In May 1911 the Bolsheviks broke off relations with the Central Corrinittee Bureau Abroad, which was dominated by liquidator Mensheviks.

“For a year and a half, from January 1910 to June 1911, when they had a majority in the Foreign Bureau of the Central Committee and faithful ‘friends’ in the persons of the conciliators in the Russian Bureau of the Central Committee, they did nothing, absolutely nothing to further the work in Russia!”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The Climax of the Party Crisis”, in: ibid.; p. 121).

“The rupture between the Bolsheviks . . . and the Foreign Bureau of the Central Committee is a correction of the conciliationist mistake of the plenum. The rapprochement of the factions which are actually fighting against liquidationism end otzovism will now proceed despite the forms decided on by the plenum, for these forms did not correspond to the content.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: ibid.; p. 101).

1911: The June 1911 Meeting of CC Members Living Abroad

In June 1911, on the initiative of Lenin, a meeting of Central Committee members living- abroad was held in Paris, attended by representatives of the Bolsheviks, the “Party Mensheviks” the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, and the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region.

The meeting set up an Organising Commission Abroad, charged with the calling of an All-Russian Conference. This, in turn, set up a Technical Comminion Abroad, to deal with technical questions such as publishing, transport, etc.

From its inception the Organising Commission Abroad had a majority of conciliationist members and, to avoid bringing about a break with the liquidator Mensheviks, it did not proceed with the work of calling a conference. In November 1911 therefore, the Bolshevik members withdrew from it.

The Russian Organising Commission

In July 1911 the Bolshevik member of the Central Committee in Paris sent Grigori Ordzhonikidze to Russia to work there for the calling of a Party Conference. As a result of Ordzhonikidze’s activity, a meeting of representatives of local Party organisations set up in November 1911 a ‘Russian Organising Commission” charged with making all arrangements for convening of a Party Conference.

This commission, composed of Bolsheviks and “Party Mensheviks,” made arrangements for the convening of the Sixth Party Conference in Prague in January 1912.

“By November l4, the Russian Organisation Committee was formed. In reality, it was created by the Bolsheviks and by the Party Mensheviks in Russia. ‘The alliance of the two strong factions’ (strong in their ideological solidarity and in their work of purging ‘ulcers’) became a fact.”

(V.I. Lenin: “The Climax of the Party Crisis”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943, p. 118)

In December 1911 the Bolsheviks began publication in St. Petersburg of a legal monthly magazine “Prosveshceniye” (Enlightenment) to succeed “Mysl,” suppressed by the Tsarist government. This in turn was suppressed by the tsarist government in June l914, but a double number appeared in the autumn of 1917.

In the same month, December 1911, a meeting of Bolshevik groups abroad took place in Paris, with the aim of unifying the Bolshevik groups abroad for the forthcoming Party conference. It was attended by 11 voting delegates, under the leadership of Lenin.

1912: The Sixth Conference of the RSDLP

To remedy the intolerable situation created by Menshevik domination of the Central Committee, which refused either to be active or to convoke a congress, a conference of the Party was convened in January 1912 on the initiative of the Bolsheviks – the Sixth Conference of the RSDLP.

More than twenty organisations of the Party were represented at the conference, including those of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Ekaterinoslav, Nicolayev, Saratov, Kazan, Vilna, Dvinsk, Tiflis and Baku. The Mensheviks refused to attend – except for a small group of “Party Mensheviks.”

The conference elected a Bolshevik Central Committee, headed by Lenin, and this in turn set up a new Russian Bureau of the Central Committee, headed by Stalin, to direct the practical work of the Party within Russia.

A resolution drafted by Lenin and adopted by the conference reviewed the anti-Party activities of the liquidator Mensheviks, who were grouped around the magazines “Nasha Zarya” (Cur Dawn) and “Dyelo Zhizni” (Life’s Cause), and declared them to be now “outside the Party”:

“The Conference declares that the group represented by ‘Nasha Zarya’ and ‘Dyelo Zhizni’ has by its behaviour, definitely placed itself outside the Party‘.

(V. I. Lenin: Resolution on Liquidationism and the Group of Liquidators, Sixth Conference RSDLP, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 152).

The Bolsheviks regarded the Sixth Party Conference as of great significance since, by the expulsion of the liquidator Mensheviks, it created for the first time a truly united Party based on Leninist principles:

“The conference was of the utmost importance in the history of our Party, for it drew a boundary line between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and amalgamated the Bolshevik organisations all over the country into a united Bolshevik Party.”

(J. V. Stalin: Report to the 15th. Congress of the CPSU (B.), cited in: “History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)”. Moscow; 1941; p. 142).

The Bolshevik “Pravda” (Truth)

The liquidator Mensheviks and the group around Trotsky’s “Pravda” (Truth) refused to recognise the Sixth Party Conference as “legitimate”:

“Neither the liquidators nor the numerous groups living abroad (those of…Trotsky and others)…recognised our January 1912 conference”.

(V. I. Lenin: “Socialism and War”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 255).

Trotsky, in particular, denounced the Conference virulently in the pages of “Pravda” (e.g., “Pravda” No. 24, 1912) and anonymously in the pages of “Vorwarts”. His anger was intensified when, on May 5th., 1912, the Bolsheviks began publication in St. Petersburg of a daily newspaper under the name of “Pravda”, edited by Stalin; Trotsky thundered against the “theft” of “his” paper’s name by the:

“The circle whose interests are in conflict with vital needs of the Party, the circle which lives and thrives only through chaos and confusion”.

(“Pravda”, No. 25; 1912),

and demanded that the Bolshevik paper change its name, concluding threateningly:

“We wait quietly for an answer before we undertake further steps.'”


Lenin wrote to the editorial board of the Bolshevik “Pravda”:

“I advise you to reply to Trotsky through the post:
To Trotsky (Vienna)…We shall not reply to disruptive and slanderous letters”; Trotsky’s dirty campaign against ‘Pravda’ is one mass of lies and slander..”

(V. I. Lenin: “Letter to the Editor of Pravda”, July 19th., 1912, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 41),

and Stalin commented dryly that Trotsky was merely:

“. . .a vociferous champion with fake muscles.”

(J. V. Stalin: “The Elections in St. Petersburg”, in: “works”; Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 288).

“The Organisation Committee”

From the autumn of 1910 Trotsky began preparations to try to unite all the anti-Bolshevik elements associated with the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party into a single bloc which, by calling a conference in the name of the Party, might usurp the name and machinery of the Party.

As Lenin put it:

“Trotsky groups all the enemies of Marxism. Trotsky unites all to whom ideological decay is dear; . . . all philistines who do not understand the reasons for the struggle and who do not wish to learn, think and discover the ideological roots of the divergence of views.”

(V. I Lenin: Letter to the Russian Collegium of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 17; 1963; p. 21).

In November 1910 Trotsky secured the passage through the Vienna Club of the Russian Social-Democratic Party of a resolution setting up a fund for the purpose of convening such a conference. Lenin commented:

“On the 26th November, 1910, Trotsky carried through a resolution in the so called Vienna Party Club (a circle of Trotskyites, exiles who are pawns in the hands of Trotsky) . . . . Trotsky’s attacks on the bloc of Bolsheviks and Plekhanov’s group are not new; what is new is the outcome of his resolution; the Vienna Club (read ‘Trotsky’) has organised a ‘general Party fund for the purpose of preparing and convening a conference of the RSDLP’.
This . . is a clear violation of Party legality and the start of an adventure in which Trotsky will come to grief.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid; p. 19, 20)

“Trotsky’s resolution.. . expresses the very aim of the ‘Golos’ group — to destroy the central bodies so detested by the liquidators, and with them, the Party as an organisation. It is not enough to lay bare the anti-Party activities of ‘Golos’ and Trotsky; they must be fought.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The State of Affairs in the Party”, in: ibid.; p. 23).

In March 1912 Trotsky attempted to take advantage of the expulsion of the liquidator Mensheviks from the Party by calling a preliminary conference in Paris, attended by delegates of the various organisations (some purely fictitious) the leaderships of which were opposed to the Bolsheviks: the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region, the “Caucasian Regional Committee” of the RSDLP, the Bund, the Menshevik group around the newspaper “Golos Sotsial-Demokrata” (The Voice of the Social-Democrat), the “Vperyod” (Forward) Group, and the group around Trotsky’s Viennese “Pravda.”

The meeting denounced the Sixth Party Conference, and the Central Committee elected by it, as “illegitimate”:

“The conference declared that the conference (i.e., the Sixth Party Conference of the RSDLP — Ed) is an open attempt of a group of persons, who have quite deliberately led the Party to a split, to usurp the Party’s flag, and it expresses its profound regret that several Party organisations and comrades have fallen victims to this deception and have thereby facilitated the splitting and usurpatory policy of Lenin’s sect. The conference expresses its conviction that all the Party organisations in Russia and abroad will protest against the coup d’etat that has been brought about, will refuse to recognise the central bodies elected at that conference, and will by every means help to restore the unity of the Party by the convocation of a genuine all-Party conference.”

(Resolution of March 1912 Paris conference in: “Vorwarts”; (Forward), March 26th., 1912).

The conference set up an “Organisation Committee” with the official aim of convening a “legitimate Party Conference.”

Lenin pointed out that Trotsky’s role’ in the projected anti-Bolshevik bloc was to screen the liquidator Mensheviks with “left”demagogic phrases:

“The basis of this bloc is bloc is obvious: the liquidators enjoy full freedom to pursue their line . . ‘as before’, while Trotsky, operating abroad, screens them with r-r-revolutionary phrases, which cost him nothing and do not bind them in any way.”

(V. I. Lenin: “‘The Liquidators against the Party”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; Moscow; 1963; p. 24).

The Revolutionary Revival

During the first half of 1912 the revolutionary movement in Russia began to revive.

In April 1912; during a strike in the Lena goldfields in Siberia, more than 500 workers were killed or wounded by tsarist police. The workers replied with mass strikes and demonstrations, which reached their highest point on May Day.

The “August Bloc”

In August 1912 the anti-Bolshevik conference, to prepare which the “Organisation Committee” had been set up in March, took place in Vienna under the leadership of Trotsky, Martov and Dan.

The organisations represented at the conferences — organisations which together formed what the Party called the “August Bloc” were:

1) liquidator Mensheviks grouped around the paper -“Golos Sotsial-Demokrata”;

2) The liquidator Menshevik group around “Nevsky Golos”(The Voice of the Neva), a legal newspaper published in St. Petersburg from May to August 1912;

3) The “Caucasian Regional Committee of the Social-Democratic Labour Party.” (described by Lenin as a fictitious body), a group of Mensheviks from the Caucusus headed by Noah Jordania);

4) The Ukrainian social-democratic organisation ‘Spillka”;

5) The seven Menshevik Duma deputies;

6) The “Vperyod” group;

7) The Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region; and

8) The group around Trotsky’s Viennese “Pravda.”

Representatives of the Polish Socialist Party (not the Polish Social-Democratic Party) and of the Lithuanian Social-Democratic Party attended as observers.

The “Vperyod” group withdrew from the conference on its first day, and a “Bolshevik” who attended from Moscow was subsequently exposed as a police agent.

The conference adopted a resolution calling for the adaptation of the Party organisation to the “new forms and methods of the open Labour Movement’.

It adopted a new programme virtually in line with that of the liberal capitalists in order to make it acceptable to the tsarist government and enable the new party which was planned to emerge from the conference to function legally.

It also adopted a resolution on “national-cultural autonomy” in violation of the national programme of the RSDLP (to be discussed in the next section).

The “Organisation Committee” continued in existence.

Seventeen years later Trotsky commented critically on his role in initiating the formation of the “August Bloc”;

“In 1912, when the political curve in Russia took an unmistakable upward turn, I made an attempt to call a union conference of representatives of all the Social-Democratic factions. . . Lenin, however, came out with all his force against union. The entire course of events that followed proved conclusively that Lenin was right. The conference met in Vienna in August 1912, without the Bolsheviks, and I found myself formally in a ‘bloc’ with the Mensheviks and a few disparate groups of Bolshevik dissenters. This ‘bloc’ had no common political basis.”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1970; p. 224-5).

“Cultural-national Autonomy”

The policy of “cultural-national autonomy” is based on the erroneous theory that nations are composed of individuals of a particular nationality, irrespective of the territory they inhabit. On the basis of this theory, the proponents of “cultural-national autonomy” propose that within a particular state there should be “separate bodies” with jurisdiction over the cultural affairs of each “nation,” bodies elected by individual persons of each nationality represented within the frontiers of the state concerned.

In 1899, under the influence of Otto Bauer and Karl Renner, “cultural-national autonomy” had been included in the programme of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party:

“What then is the national programme of the Austrian Social-Democrats? It is expressed in two words: cultural-national autonomy. This means, firstly, that -autonomy would be granted, let us say, not to Bohemia or Poland, which are inhabited mainly by Czechs and Poles, but to Czechs and Poles generally, . . no matter what part of Austria they inhabit. That is why this autonomy is called national and not territorial.

It means, secondly, that the Czechs, Poles, Germans, and so on, scattered over the various parts of Austria, taken personally, as individuals, are to be organised into integral nations, and are as such to form part of the Austrian state. In this way Austria would represent not a union of autonomous regions, but a union of autonomous nationalities, constituted irrespective of territory.

It means, thirdly, that the national institutions which are to be created for this purpose for the Poles, Czechs, and so forth, are to have jurisdiction only over ‘cultural’ not ‘political’ questions. Specifically political questions would be reserved for the Austrian parliament (the Reichsrat).

That is why this autonomy is also called cultural, cultural-national autonomy.”

(J. V. Stalin: “Marxism and the National Question”, in: “Works”; Volume 2; Moscow; 1953 p. 331-2).

Lenin and Stalin strongly opposed the definition of a “nation” put forward by the “cultural-national autonomists” as well as their political proposals:

“’Cultural-national autonomy implies precisely the most refined and, therefore, the most harmful nationalism, it implies the corruption of the workers by means of the slogan of national culture and the propaganda of the profoundly harmful and even ‘anti-democratic’ segregating of the schools according to nationality. In short, this programme undoubtedly contradicts the internationalism of the proletariat and is in accordance only with the ideals of the nationalist petty bourgeoisie.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The National Programme of the RSDLP”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 19; Moscow; 1963; p. 541).

“‘cultural-national autonomy’ . . aims at introducing the most refined, most absolute and most extreme nationalism. . Consolidating nationalism within a certain ‘justly’ delimited sphere, ‘constitutionalising’ nationalism, and securing the separation of all nations from one another by means of a special state institution — such is the ideological foundation and content of cultural-national autonomy. This idea is thoroughly bourgeois and thoroughly false. The proletariat cannot support any consecration of nationalism; on the contrary, it supports everything that helps to obliterate national distinctions and remove national barriers; it supports everything that makes the ties between nationalities closer and closer. . To act differently means siding with reactionary nationalism.'”

(V. I. Lenin: “Critical Notes on the National Question” in: “Questions of National Policy and Proletarian Internationalism”; Moscow; 1967; P. 26,. 28)

“The idea of national autonomy creates the psychological conditions for the division of the united workers’ party into separate parties built on national lines. The break-up of the party is followed by the breakup of the trade unions, and complete segregation is the result. In this way the united class movement is broken up into separate national rivulets.”

(J.V. Stalin: “Marxism and the National Question”; In: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 342-3).

At its Fourth Congress in 1901, the General Jewish Labour League of Lithuania, Poland and Russia (known as the “Bund”) had adopted a resolution declaring the Jewish people to be a “nation” and demanding “national autonomy” for the Jewish people within the Russian state. As Stalin pointed out, the autonomy demanded by the Bund could only be cultural-national autonomy:

“The Bund could seize upon any autonomy at all, it could only be … cultural-national autonomy; there could be no question of territorial–political autonomy for the Jews, since the Jews have no definite integral territory.”

(J. V. Stalin: “Marxism and the National Question”, in: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 347).

At the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (to which the Bund was affiliated) in July/August 1903, the Bund had proposed that the Party’s Programme should include the demand for “cultural-national autonomy.” The proposal was rejected, only three votes being cast in its favour, and the Bund withdrew from the congress and (until 1906) from the Party.

The conference of the anti-Bolshevik “August Bloc” in August 1912 adopted a resolution on this question which declared:

“The Caucasian comrades expressed the opinion that it is necessary to demand national-cultural autonomy. This conference, while expressing no opinion on the merits of this demand, declares that such an interpretation . . . does not contradict the precise meaning of the programme.”

(Resolution on National-Cultural Autonomy, “August Conference”, cited in: J. V. Stalin: “Works,” Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 295).

Stalin commented on this resolution:

“It was not only the laws of logic that were violated by the conference of the Liquidators. By sanctioning cultural national autonomy it also violated its duty to Russian Social-Democracy. It most definitely did violate ‘the precise meaning’ of the programme, for it is well known that the Second Congress; which adopted the programme, emphatically repudiated cultural-national autonomy”.

(V. I. Lenin: “Marxism and the National Question,” in: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953;- p. 370).

It was this controversy on cultural-national autonomy which stimulated Stalin to write, in Vienna in 1913, the classic Marxist work on the national question, “Marxism and the National Question,” published in March-May 1913.

Lenin approved heartily of Stalin’s work:

“As regards nationalism, . . we have a marvellous Georgian who has sat down to write a big article for ‘Prosveshcheniye’, for which he has collected all the Austrian and other material.”

(V.I. Lenin: Letter to Maxim Gorky, February 1913, in: “Collected Works”; Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 84).

“This situation and the fundamentals of a national programme for Social-Democracy have recently been dealt with in Marxist theoretical literature (the most prominent place being taken by Stalin’s article).”

(V. I. Lenin: “The National Programme of the RSDLP”, in:
“Collected Works”, Volume 19; Moscow; 1963; p. 539) .


The campaign of the liquidator Mensheviks for a legally tolerated “open labour party” was associated with the concept that the “backward” Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party should “Europeanised” i.e. transformed into a social-democratic party of the type existing in Western Europe, where capitalist “democracy” had long been established and, furthermore, where the domination of opportunist trends was already clearly discernible. Trotsky played an important role in this campaign for the “Europeanisation” of the Russian Party:

“The vaunted ‘Europeanisation’ . . .is being talked about in every possible tone by Dan and Martov and Trotsky and all the liquidators. It is one of the main points of their opportunism. . . The liquidators play at ‘European Social-Democracy’, although — in the country where they amuse themselves with their game — there is as yet no constitution, as yet no basis for ‘Europeanism’’, and a revolutionary struggle has yet to be waged for them . . The liquidators describe as ‘Europeanism’ the conditions in which the Social-Democrats have been active in the principal countries of Europe since 1871, i.e., precisely at the time when the whole historical period of bourgeois revolutions was over and when the foundations of political liberty had taken firm shape for a long time to come.

Opportunist intellectuals transplant the slogans of such ‘European’ campaigns to a soil lacking the most elementary foundations of European Constitutionalism, in an attempt to bypass the specific historical evolution which usually precedes the laying of these foundations.”

(V. I. Lenin: “How P. B. Axelrod Exposes the Liquidators”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; Moscow; 1963; p. l83-4; 185; 186).

1912-1913: Trotsky in the Balkans

Within a few weeks of the founding conference, it was clear to Trotsky that the “August Bloc” had already been proved abortive. He says in his autobiography, referring to September 1912:

“The August conference had already proved to be abortive”;

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1970; p. 226.)

In this month he was offered the post of Balkan correspondent to the newspaper “Kievskaya Mysl” (Kievan Thought), and he left Vienna in October, just as there began the First Balkan War (October-December 1912) between Turkey on the one hand and Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Bulgaria on the other. This was continued as the Second Balkan War (January-May 1913). The Viennese “Pravda” ceased publication in December 1912.

Trotsky returned briefly to Vienna at the beginning of 1913, and then returned to the Balkans to cover the Third Balkan War (June-August 1913) between Serbia and Greece on the one hand and Bulgaria on the other.

The 1912 Duma Elections

In July 1912 the Third State Duma was formally dissolved, and the elections for the Fourth State Duma took place in the autumn.

The Bolsheviks and the Menshevik dominated “August Bloc” put forward rival candidates for the Duma. The Bolshevik candidates went to the working people on a revolutionary platform:

“The Social-Democratic Party needs a platform for the elections to the Fourth Duma in order once more to explain to the masses . . the need for, the urgency, the inevitability of the revolution…

The Social-Democratic Party wishes to utilise the elections in order, over and over again, to stimulate the masses to see the need for revolution; to see precisely the revolutionary revival which has begun. Therefore the Social-Democratic Party, in its platform, says briefly and plainly to the electors to the Fourth Duma: not constitutional reforms, but a republic, not reformism, but revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Platform of the Reformists and the Platform of the Revolutionary Social-Democrats”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 184-5).

The “August Bloc,” on the other hand, put forward a platform based on the demand for democratic reforms, falsely implying that these could be obtained without revolution through mass pressure of the working people upon the tsarist regime:

“Look at the platform of the liquidators. Its liquidationist essence is artfully concealed by Trotsky’s revolutionary phrases.

Our answer is – criticism of the utopia of constitutional reforms, explanation of the falsity of hopes placed in them, all possible assistance to the revolutionary upsurge, utilisation of the election campaign for that purpose. . .

They, the liquidators, need a platform ‘for’ the elections, i.e., in order politely to push back the consideration of’ a revolution as an indefinite contingency and to declare as ‘real’ the election campaign for a list of constitutional reforms. . .
The liquidators are using the elections to the Fourth Duma in order to preach constitutional reforms and to weaken the idea of revolution.”

(V.I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 180, 184, 185).

Of the nine deputies elected from the workers’ curiae, six were Bolsheviks; they were elected from the larger industrial centres, where four-fifths of the working class was concentrated. Seven liquidator Mensheviks were elected, the majority from non-working class curiae.

These deputies — the Bolshevik “Six” and the Menshevik “Seven” — at first formed a single “Social-Democratic” fraction in the Duma, which opened in November 1912. The fraction elected Nikolai Chkheidze, the Georgian Menshevik leader, as its Chairman.

The “Vperyod” Group Cooperate with the Bolsheviks

In November 1912 the “Vperyod” group severed their connection with the “August Bloc” and offered their cooperation to the Bolsheviks.

Lenin accepted the offer of cooperation gladly – but dubiously:

“I am ready to share with all my heart in your joy at the return of the ‘Vperyod’ group, if . . if your supposition is justified that ‘Machism, god-building and all that nonsense has been dumped for ever’, as you write. . . I underline -‘if’ because this, so far, is still a hope rather than a fact. . . .

I don’t know whether Bogdanov, Bazanov, Volsky (a semi-anarchist), Lunacharsky, Alexinsky, are capable of learning from the painful experience of 1908-11. Have they learned that Marxism is a more serious and more profound thing than it seemed to them, that one cannot scoff at it. . If they have understood this — a –thousand greetings to them. . . But if they haven’t understood it, then . against attempts to abuse Marxism or to confuse the policy of the workers’ party we shall fight without sparing our lives.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Maxim Gorky, January 1913, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 70, 71).

1913: The January 1913 Conference

In January 1913 a conference of the Central Committee of the RSDLP with leading Party workers was held in Cracow (Poland).

One resolution adopted by the conference noted the revolutionary revival that had marked the year 1912 and declared that one of the immediate tasks of the Party was:

“The organisation of revolutionary street demonstrations, both in conjunction with political strikes and as independent manifestations.”

(Resolution of January 1913 Conference, cited in: N. Popov: “Outline History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”; London; n.d: p. 282).

The conference once again condemned liquidationism, placing on record that, following the “August Bloc” conference, the liquidator Mensheviks were advocating with still greater energy:

“a) an open party;
b) their opposition to the illegal organisations;
c) their opposition to the Party programme (as expressed in their defence of national-cultural autonomy, the demand for the revision of the agrarian laws of the Third Duma, the slurring over of the demand for a republic, etc.;
d) their opposition to revolutionary mass strikes; and
e) their approval of reformist and exclusively legal tactics.
Accordingly, one of the tasks of the Party is, as formerly, to wage determined warfare against the liquidationist groups ‘Nasha Zarya’ and ‘Luch’, and to explain to the working class masses the sinister character of their teachings”.

(Resolution of January 1913 Conference, cited in N. P.Popov: ibid.; p. 282-3).

The conference advocated the unification from below of the existing illegal working class organisations, in contrast to the unity from above proposed by the conciliators.

Lenin, who attended the Conference, considered that it was:

“Very successful and will play its part.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Maxim Gorky, January 1913, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 77).

Trotsky’s Letter to Chkheidze

In “April 1913 Trotsky wrote a letter to Nikolai Chkheidze, Chairman of the Duma Menshevik fraction, in which he said:

“And what a senseless obsession is the wretched squabbling systematically provoked by the master squabbler, Lenin . . , that professional exploiter of the backwardness of the Russian, working class movement. . . The whole edifice of Leninism at the present time is built up on lies and falsifications and bears within it the poisoned seed of its own disintegration.”

(L. Trotsky: Letter to Nikolai Chkheidze, April 1913, cited in: N.Popov,:, “Outline History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”; Volume 1; London; n.d.; p. 289).

Sixteen years later Trotsky did not challenge the authenticity of the letter:

“My letter to Chkheidze against Lenin was published during this period (i.e., l924- Ed.). This episode, dating back to April 1913, grew out of the fact that the ‘official Bolshevik newspaper then published in St. Petersburg had appropriated the title of my Viennese publication, ‘The Pravda — a Labour Paper’. This led to one of those sharp conflicts so frequent in the lives of the foreign exiles. In a letter written to Chkheidze, I gave vent to my indignation at the Bolshevik centre and at Lenin. Two or three weeks later, I would undoubtedly have subjected my letter to a strict censor’s revision; a year or two later still, it would have seemed a curiosity in my own eyes. But that letter was to have a peculiar destiny. It was intercepted on its way by the Police Department. It rested in the police archives until the October revolution, when it went to the Institute of History of the Communist Party.”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1970: p. 514-5).

but described its use by the leadership of the CPSU in the campaign to expose the role of Trotsky as “one of the ‘greatest frauds in the world’s history”:

“In 1924, the epigones disinterred the letter from archives and flung it at the party. . The people read Trotsky’s hostile remarks about Lenin and were stunned. . . The use “that the epigones made of my letter to Chkheidze is one of the greatest frauds in the world’s history. The forged documents of the French reactionaries in Dreyfus case are as nothing compared to the political forgery perpetrated by Stalin and his associates.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 516).

The “Summer Conference” 1913

In October 1913 another conference of the Central Committee of the Party with leading Party workers, attended by 22 persons, was held at Poropino (Polarid) — a conference referred to in Party literature as the “Summer” Conference of 1913.

One of the principal resolutions adopted by the Conference dealt with the position of the Party’s Duma fraction. Since the seven Menshevik deputies had a majority in the fraction over the six Bolshevik deputies, the latter were constantly being pressed, in the name of “democracy,” to adopt the rightist viewpoints of the majority. The conference protested at the conduct of the seven Menshevik deputies and decided that the bloc of six Bolshevik deputies, who were following the political line of the Party’s Central Committee, should have equal rights with the bloc of Mensheviks.

The seven Menshevik deputies refused to accept this resolution, and the Bolshevik “six” formed an independent “Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Fraction.”

Another important resolution dealt with the national question, and clarified the meaning of “the self-determination of nations,” as the right of an oppressed nation to secede and form an independent state:

“As regards the right of the nations oppressed by the tsarist monarchy to self-determination, i.e., the right to secede and form independent states, the Social-Democratic Party must unquestionably champion this right.”

(Resolution on the National Question, “Summer Conference”, 1913, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 19; Moscow; 1963; p. 428)

The delegation of the Social Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania at the “Summer Conference” refrained from voting on the question of the right of nations to self-determination,

“Declaring themselves opposed to any such right in general.”‘

(V. I. Lenin: “On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p.286).

The Polish delegation to the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party in 1903 had similarly opposed recognition of this right in the Programme Commission of the congress, but, receiving no support, did not raise their objections in the full congress but withdrew from it.

The Polish Party based their attitude on the ideas put forward by Rosa Luxemburg in her article “The National Question and Autonomy”; published in “Przeglad Socjal-Demokratyczny” (Social-Democratic Review) in 1908-09).

Although the Polish Party rejoined the RSDLP in 1906, its leaders continued to oppose the principle of the right of nations to self-determination, and in March 1914, Trotsky used this opposition to attack the Bolsheviks:

“The Polish Marxists consider that ‘the right to national self-determination’ is entirely devoid of political content and should be deleted from the programme.”

(L. Trotsky: “Borba”, No. 2, 1914, p. 25).

Lenin replied to these attacks in his article “On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”:

“Unless we in our agitation advance and carry out the slogan of the right to secession we shall play into the hands, not only of the bourgeoisie, but also of the feudal landlords and of the absolutism of the oppressing nation. . . In her anxiety not to ‘assist’ nationalistic bourgeoisie of Poland, Rosa Luxemburg by her denial of the right to secession in the programme of the Russian Marxists, is in fact assisting the Great Russian Black Hundreds.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 266).

And Lenin commented again on Trotsky’s role in such controversies:

“Trotsky has never yet held a firm opinion on any serious question relating to Marxism; he always manages to creep into the chinks of this or that difference of opinion, and desert one sided for the other.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 286).

1914: The Collapse of the “August Bloc”

In February 1914 the Fourth Congress of the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region held in Brussels and attended by Lenin, resolved to withdraw from the “August Bloc.”

With the withdrawal of the Latvian Party, described by Lenin as

“The only genuine organisation in the ‘August Bloc.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p.; 199),

The “August Bloc” collapsed.

“The August bloc turned out to be a fiction and collapsed.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 199).

Shortly afterwards the “Caucasian Regional Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party” — in the shape of Noah Jordania — considered it expedient to dissociate itself from the liquidator Mensheviks on a number of questions.

Trotsky’s “Borba”

With the collapse of the “August Bloc,” in February 1914, Trotsky withdrew from the editorial board of the Menshevik paper “Luch” (The Torch) and, together with some of his Viennese supporters, began to publish a legal journal called “Borba” (The Struggle), which continued to come out until July 1914. In this paper, as Lenin noted, he put forward liquidationist ideas in a disguised form.

“In his magazine Trotsky has tried to say as little as possible about the essence of his views, but “Pravda” (No . 37) has already pointed out that Trotsky has not uttered a word either on the question of illegal work, or on the slogan of the struggle for an open party, etc…

But although Trotsky has avoided expounding his views directly, a whole series of passages in his magazine indicate the ‘kind of ideas he is stealthily introducing and concealing.

Trotsky repeats the liquidationist libels upon the Party . . repeating . . what in essence are their pet ideas.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 203, 204, 208)

The appearance of “Borba” stimulated Lenin to write one of his fullest analyses of the disruptive role of Trotsky and his supporters, the article “Violation of Unity under Cover of’ Cries for Unity,” written in May 1914:

“Trotsky calls his new magazine ‘non-factional’. He puts this word in the forefront in his advertisements, he stresses it in every way in the editorials of ‘Borba’. . . Trotsky’s ‘workers’ magazine’ is Trotsky’s magazine for the workers, for it bears no trace either of workers’ initiative or of contact with the workers’ organisations.. . . . By this label of ‘non-factionalism’ the worst representatives of the worst remnants of factionalism mislead the young generation of workers….

Since 1912, for more than two years, there has been no factionalism in Russia among the organised Marxists. There is a complete break between the Party and the liquidators . . . The word ‘factionalism’ is a misnomer.

Trotsky talks to us about the ‘chaos of factional struggle’ …. Trotsky is fond of sonorous and empty phrases –this is known, but the catchword ‘chaos’ is not only a phrase; in addition to that it is . . .a vain attempt to transplant to Russian soil in the present epoch the émigré relationships of the epoch of yesterday.

It is impossible to describe as chaos a struggle against a tendency which has been recognised by the entire Party as a tendency, and has been condemned since 1908. . . . To treat the history of one’s own party as ‘chaos’ means that one is suffering from unpardonable empty-headedness ….

Apart from the ‘Pravda’-ists and the liquidators, there are no fewer than five Russian factions, i.e., separate groups, which claim to belong to the same Social-Democratic Party: Trotsky’s group, the two ‘Vperyod’ groups, the ‘Party Bolsheviks’, the ‘Party Mensheviks’.

And here Trotsky is to a certain extent correct! This is real factionalism, this is real chaos…

During the whole of those two years (i.e., 1912 and 1913– Ed.) not one, not a single one of those five factions abroad made the slightest impression on any of the manifestations of the mass labour movement in Russia….

This fact proves that we were right in referring to Trotsky as the representative of the ‘worst remnants of factionalism’…

Although Trotsky professes to be non-factional, he is known to all who are in the slightest degree acquainted with the labour movement in Russia as the representative of ‘Trotsky’s faction’. . . This is a remnant of factionalism for it is impossible to discover in it anything serious in the way of contacts with the mass labour movement of’ Russia.

Finally, it is the worst kind of factionalism, for there is nothing ideologically and politically definite about it….

It cannot be denied that sections of the factions which, like Trotsky’s faction, really exist only from the Vienna-Paris, and not at all from the Russian, point of view are definite.

But Trotsky completely lacks a definite ideology; and policy, for having the patent for ‘non-factionalism’ only means . . having a patent granting complete freedom to flit to and fro from one faction to another….

Under the flag of ‘non-factionalism’ Trotsky is upholding one of the factions abroad which is particularly devoid of ideas and has no basis in the labour movement in Russia….

Not all is gold that glitters. Trotsky’s phrases are full of glitter and noise, but they lack content….

Recently (between August 1912 and February 1914) he followed in the footsteps of F. Dan, who, as is known, threatened and called for the ‘killing’ of anti-liquidationism. Now Trotsky does not threaten to ‘kill’ our tendency (and our Party –); he only prophesies that it will kill itself . . ..

‘Suicide’ is merely a phrase, an empty phrase, it is just ‘Trotskyism’ . . .

If our attitude towards liquidationism is wrong in theory and principle then Trotsky should have said plainly . . . . wherein he found it to be wrong. Trotsky, however, has for years avoided that essential point.

If our attitude towards liquidationism is refuted in practice by the experience of the movement, this experience should be analysed, and this again Trotsky fails to do. He admits: ‘advanced workers become the active agents of ‘schism’ (read — active agents of the ‘Pravda’-ist line, tactics, system, organisation).

Why is this regrettable development taking place that. . . .the advanced workers, and numerous workers at that, are supporting; ‘Pravda’?

Trotsky answers — owing to the state of ‘utter political perplexity’ of these advanced workers.

This explanation is no doubt extremely flattering to Trotsky, to all the five factions abroad, and to the liquidators. Trotsky is very fond of explaining historical events ‘with the learned mien of an expert’ in pompous and sonorous phrases, in a manner flattering to Trotsky. If ‘numerous advanced workers’ become ‘active agents’ of the political and Party line, which does not harmonise with the line of Trotsky, then Trotsky settles the question unceremoniously, directly and immediately: these advanced workers are ‘in a state of utter political perplexity, and he, Trotsky, is obviously in a ‘state’ of political firmness, clarity and correctness regarding the line! And this very same Trotsky, beating his chest, thunders against factionalism, against narrow circles, and against the intelligentsia foisting their will on the workers! . . . .

Trotsky is trying to disrupt the movement and cause a split….Trotsky’s ‘non-factionalism’ is schism, in the sense that it is a most impudent violation of the will of the majority of the workers….You believe it is precisely the ‘Leninists’ who are the splitters? ….

But if you are right, why did not all the factions and groups prove that unity with the liquidators was possible without the ‘Leninists’ and against the ‘splitters’?

In August 1912 the conference of the ‘uniters’ met. Discord set in at once. The August Bloc turned out to be a fiction and collapsed. In concealing this collapse, from his readers, Trotsky is deceiving them. The experience of our opponents has proved we were right; it has proved that it is impossible to work with the liquidators. . .

In his magazine Trotsky has tried to say as little as possible about the essence of his views. Trotsky has not uttered a word either on the question of illegal work, or on the slogan of the struggle for an open party, etc. Incidentally, that is why we say in this case, in which a segregated organisation wants to set itself up without having an ideological-political complexion, that it is the worst sort of factionalism….

Trotsky has avoided expounding his views directly.

Trotsky avoids facts and concrete indications just because they mercilessly refute all his angry exclamations and pompous phrases. It is of course very easy to assume a proud pose and say: ‘coarse sectarian caricature’. It is equally easy to add more slashing and pompous catchwords about ‘emancipation from conservative factionalism’.

But is this not too cheap? Is this not a weapon taken from the arsenal of the period when Trotsky was dazzling the schoolboys?

The old participants in the Marxian movement in Russia know Trotsky’s personality very well, and it is not worth while talking to them about it. But the young generation of workers do not know him and we must speak of him, for he is typical of all the five grouplets abroad which in fact are also vacillating between the liquidators and the Party….

Trotsky was an ardent ‘Iskra’-ist in 1901-03. .

At the end of 1903 Trotsky was an ardent Menshevik, i.e., one who deserted the ‘Iskra’-ists for the ‘Economists’; he proclaimed that ‘there is a deep gulf between the old and the new “Iskra.” In l904-5, he left the Mensheviks and began to vacillate, at one moment collaborating with Martynov (the ‘Economist’), and at another proclaiming the absurdly ‘Left’ theory of ‘permanent revolution’. In 1906-07 he drew nearer to the Bolsheviks, and in the spring of 1907 he declared his solidarity with Rosa Luxemburg.

During the period of disintegration, after long ‘non-factional’ vacillations, he again shifted to the Right, and in August 1912 entered into a ‘bloc’ with the liquidators. How he is again abandoning them, repeating, however, what in essence are their pet ideas.

Such types are characteristic as fragments of the historical factions of yesterday, when the mass labour movement of Russia was still dormant and every grouplet was ‘free’ to represent itself as . . a ‘great power’ talking of uniting with others. The young generation of workers must know very well with whom it has to deal.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Violation of Unity Under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 187-88, 189, 190; 191, 194, l95, 197, 198, 203, 206-08).

The Brussels Conference, 1914

In July 1914 the Executive Committee of the International Socialist Bureau (ISB) took up Trotsky’s concilationist mantle by convening a conference in Brussels of all the groups connected with the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. Apart from representatives of the ISB (who included Karl Kautsky, and Emile Vandervelde), the conference was attended by delegates from:

1. the (Bolshevik) Central Committee of the RSDLP;

2. the (now Bolshevik) Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region;

3. the “Vperyod” Group;

4. the (now purely Menshevik) “Organisation Committee”;

5. the “Bund”;

6. Plekhanov’s “Yedinstvo”(Unity) Menshevik group;

7. the Social-Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania;

8. the Polish Socia1-Democratic Opposition;

9. the Polish Socialist Party; and

10. Trotsky’s “Borba” group.

The leader of the Central Committee delegation, Inessa Armand, delivered a statement, (drafted by Lenin) setting out fourteen conditions under which the Central Conmittee considered unification possible. These conditions included: the renunciation of views condemned by the Party, the recognition of the necessity of illegal as well as legal work, submission to the Central Committee and dissolution of factions.

Although, under the terms of reference under which it had been convened, the conference was for the purpose of an exchange of opinions only, Kautsky moved a resolution declaring that there were “no substantial disagreements” between the various groups to justify a continuation of “the split” in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The resolution was adopted by a majority of the delegates present, with the delegates of the Central Committee of the RSDLP and the Latvian Party abstaining.

The question of actual unification was to have been taken up at the next congress of the Second International, due to be held in Vienna in August l9l4, but the outbreak of the First World War prevented this congress from taking place.

After the conference, the anti-Bolshevik groups continued to collaborate for a time in what came to be called the “Brussels Bloc.”


Unpublished Speech by Stalin at the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, 1952


October 16,1952

In this article, taken from the Russian newspaper “Glasnost” which was completely devoted to the 120th Anniversary of Stalin’s birth, this was the last speech at the CC CPSU before Stalin died.

This text is being published for the very first time in the Soviet Union by the newspaper “Glasnost”, the Central Organ of the Union of Communist Parties-CPSU. We have translated it word for word, so that our readers can see the thinking and Stalin’s proposals to the Central Committee and the critical remarks aimed at the two CC members, V.M. Molotov and also A.I. Mikoyan.

Yes, we did hold the Congress of our party. It went very well, and many of you might think that, amongst us there exists full harmony and unity. But we have not this harmony and unity of thought. Some of you are even opposed and do not like our decision.

They say, why do we need an enlarged Central Committee. But isn’t it self-evident that we need to get new blood and new strength into the CC CPSU? We arc getting older and shall sooner or later die, but we must think into whose hands we shall give this torch of our great undertaking, who will carry it onward and reach the goal of communism? For this we need younger people with more energy, dedicated comrades and political leaders. And what does it mean to bring up a dedicated, devoted political leader of the State? It needs ten, no, fifteen years so that we would be able to bring up a state leader, able to carry on this torch.

But just to wish for this to happen is not enough. To bring up such new cadres needs time and involvement in the day-to-day governing of the state, learning in practical matters which encompass the whole gamut of state apparatus plans and ideological concepts to carry on to a higher plateau of building a Socialist society and that comrades must be able to recognize and struggle against all sorts of opportunistic tendencies. He must be a Leninist worker, taught by our party its history, tactics, plans and future of the Soviet Union as envisaged by Lenin.

Is it not self-evident that we must lift up the importance and the role of our party and its party committees? Can we afford not to follow the desire of Lenin to improve the work of the party constantly? All this needs a flow of younger blood into the leadership, especially in the CC CPSU. And this we followed as Lenin always suggested. In this way even the membership of our party has grown.

The question is asked as to why we relieved some well-known comrades from their posts in the party and state apparatus? What can be said about this? We replaced comrades Molotov, Kaganovich. Voroshilov and others and they were elected to new, less demanding but no less important posts. The work of a Minister is extremely hard work, demanding strength, stamina and new thinking to new problems. Why did we put in their place younger and more qualified, energetic comrades? They are younger comrades, have more energy plus strength. We old Bolsheviks shall not be here forever. We must support and help them.

The replaced comrades, the old Bolsheviks are in very important new positions, where their expertise, dedication and respect is beyond question. They are all now our Deputy chairpersons of the Council of Ministers of USSR. Thus, even I do not know how many deputy Ministers we have.

We must, as Communists, be self-critical and also critical of others.

There has been criticism of comrade Molotov and Mikoyan by the Central Committee.

Comrade Molotov – the most dedicated to our cause. He shall give his life for the cause of the party. But we cannot overlook his weakness in certain aspect of his work. Comrade Molotov as our Minister of Foreign Affairs, finding himself at a “slippery” Diplomatic Reception, gave assurance to a British diplomat that the capitalists can start to publish bourgeois newspapers in our country. Why? Was that the place to give such an assurance, without the knowledge of the CC CPSU? Is it not self-evident that the bourgeoisie is our class enemy and to promote bourgeois newspapers amongst our party people besides doing harm, shall not bring us any benefit. If this were allowed to transpire, we could foresee circumstances where the attacks against Socialism and the CPSU would be started, first very subtly then overtly. This is the first political mistake of comrade V.M. Molotov.

What about the incorrect suggestion by Molotov to give the Crimea to Soviet Jews? This is a flagrant mistake of comrade Molotov. Why was this even proposed? On what grounds did comrade Molotov make this proposal? We have a Jewish Autonomous Republic. What else is yet needed? There are many other minority nations that have now their own Autonomous Regions and also Autonomous Republics… is this not enough now? Or is this meant not to trust the Constitution of the USSR and its policy on nationalities? Comrade Molotov is not appointed by anyone to be a lawyer for pursuing territorial pretensions on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics! This is the second mistake of our esteemed comrade V.I. Molotov! Thus, in this respect comrade Molotov is not correct in his proclamations as a member of the Politburo. The CC CPSU has categorically defeated his suggestion.

Comrade Molotov has such deep respect for his wife, that no sooner have the CC or the Politburo made very many decisions on this or that question, that this decision immediately is conveyed to Molotov’s wife Zhemtchuzhina and all of her friends. Her friends, as is well known to all of you here, are not to be trusted, as former situations have shown. It is of course not the way that a member of the CPSU CC Politburo should behave.

Now regarding comrade Mikoyan. He is categorically against and thus he agitates against any taxes for the Soviet peasants. What is it that is not clear to our esteemed comrade A.I.Mikoyan?

Farmer Deputy – We have good relations with the collective farmers. Our Collective Farms are forever dedicated to collectivization. Our crops are abundant and all our Collective Farms should give taxes to the state as the workers do. Therefore we do not agree with the suggestion – put forward by comrade Mikoyan.

MIKOYAN – coming to the speaker’s tribune started to defend his collective farm policies.

STALIN – Well comrade Mikoyan, you are lost in your own policies and you are now trying to get the members of the CC to be lost with you. Are you still unclear?

MOLOTOV – coming to the speaker’s tribune completely admits his mistakes before the CC, but he stated that he is and will always he a faithful disciple of Stalin.

STALIN – (interrupting Molotov) This is nonsense. I have no students at all. We are all students of the great Lenin.

Stalin suggested that they continue the agenda point by point and elect comrades into different committees of state.

With no Politburo, there is now elected a Presidium of the CC CPSU in the enlarged CC and in the Secretariat of the CC CPSU altogether 36 members.

In the new list of those elected are all members of the old Politburo – except that of comrade A.A. Andreev who, as everyone knows now is unfortunately completely deaf and thus can not function.

VOICE FROM THE FLOOR – We need to elect comrade Stalin as the General Secretary of the CC CPSU and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR.

STALIN – No! I am asking that you relieve me of the two posts!

MALENKOV – coming to the tribune: Comrades! We should all unanimously ask comrade Stalin, our leader and our teacher, to be again the General Secretary of the CC CPSU.

Compilation of Interviews and Correspondence with J.V. Stalin



Reply to the Letter of Mr. Richardson, Representative of the Associated Press News Agency
The Importance and Tasks of the Complaints-Bureaus
Marxism versus Liberalism: An Interview with H.G. Wells
Interview Between J. Stalin and Roy Howard
Replies to the Questions of Ralph V. Barnes
Talk With the German Author Emil Ludwig
Mr. Campbell Stretches the Truth
Talk With Colonel Robins
Greetings to the Red Army on its Fifteenth Anniversary
Reply to A Letter From Mr. Barnes

Reply to the Letter of Mr. Richardson, Representative of the Associated Press News Agency

To Mr. Richardson,

This is not the first time that false rumours that I am ill are circulating in the bourgeois press. Obviously, there are people to whose interest it is that I should fall ill seriously and for a long time; if not worse. Perhaps it is not very tactful of me, but unfortunately I have no data capable of gratifying these gentlemen.

Sad though it may be, nothing will avail against facts, viz., that I am in perfect health. As for Mr. Zondeck, he can attend to the health of other comrades, which is why he has been invited to come to the U.S.S.R.

J. Stalin

* In a letter dated March 25, 1932, addressed to J.V.Stalin, Mr Richardson , representative of Associated Press news agency asked if about the truth of the rumors in the foreign press that the Berlin physician m Zondeck, had been invited to Moscow to treat J.V.Stalin

The Importance and Tasks of the Complaints-Bureaus

The work of the Complaints Bureaus (1) is of tremendous importance in the struggle to remove shortcomings in our Party, Soviet, economic, trade-union and Komsomol apparatuses, in improving our administrative apparatus.

Lenin said that without an apparatus we should have perished long ago, and that without a systematic, stubborn struggle to improve the apparatus we should certainly perish. This means that resolute and systematic struggle against conservatism, bureaucracy and red tape in our apparatus is an essential task of the Party, the working class and all the working people of our country.

The tremendous importance of the Complaints Bureaus consists in their being a serious means of carrying out Lenin’s behest concerning the struggle to improve the apparatus.

It is indisputable that the Complaints Bureaus have considerable achievements to their credit in this field.

The task is to consolidate the results attained and to achieve decisive successes in this matter. There can be no doubt that if the Complaints Bureaus rally around them all the more active sections of the workers and collective farmers, drawing them into the work of administering the state and attentively heeding the voice of the working people both within and without the Party, these decisive successes will be won.

Let us hope that the five-day review of the work of the Complaints Bureaus will serve as a stimulus for further expansion of their work along the line indicated by our teacher Lenin.


(1) The Complaints Bureau was set up in April 1919 under the People’s Commissariat of State Control, which in 1920 was changed to the Peoples’ Commissariat of Workers’ And peasant’ Inspection. The tasks and scoop of the work of the Central Bureau of Complaints & Applications were defined by a regulation dated May 4, 1919, and those of the local departments the Central Bureau by a regulation dated May 24th, 1919, published over the signature of Stalin, People’s Commissar of State Control. From the day they were formed the Central and local bureaus did much work in investigating and checking complaints and statements of working people, enlisting in this work an extensive active of workers and peasants. From February 1934 the Bureau of Complaints and Applications was included in the system of the Soviet Control Commission under the Council of People’s Commissariats, and from September 1940 it has formed a department of the Peoples Commissariat (subsequently Ministry) of State Control of the USSR.

Stalin’s article, “The Importance of the USSR Complaints Bureaus” was written in connection with the all-Union five-day review and checking of the work of the bureaus carried out on April 9-14th, 1932, by a decision of the Presidium of the Central Control Commission of the CPSU(B), and the Collegium of the People’s Commissariat of the USSR.

Marxism versus Liberalism: An Interview with H.G. Wells

23 July 1934

Wells: I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Stalin, for agreeing to see me. I was in the United States recently. I had a long conversation with President Roosevelt and tried to ascertain what his leading ideas were. Now I have come to ask you what you are doing to change the world. . .

Stalin: Not so very much.

Wells: I wander around the world as a common man and, as a common man, observe what is going on around me.

Stalin: Important public men like yourself are not “common men”. Of course, history alone can show how important this or that public man has been; at all events, you do not look at the world as a “common man.”

Wells: I am not pretending humility. What I mean is that I try to see the world through the eyes of the common man, and not as a party politician or a responsible administrator. My visit to the United States excited my mind. The old financial world is collapsing; the economic life of the country is being reorganized on new lines. Lenin said : “We must learn to do business, learn this from the capitalists.”

Today the capitalists have to learn from you, to grasp the spirit of socialism. It seems to me that what is taking place in the United States is a profound reorganisation, the creation of planned, that is, socialist, economy. You and Roosevelt begin from two different starting points. But is there not a relation in ideas, a kinship of ideas, between Moscow and Washington? In Washington I was struck by the same thing I see going on here; they are building offices, they are creating a number of state regulation bodies, they are organising a long-needed Civil Service. Their need, like yours, is directive ability.

Stalin: The United States is pursuing a different aim from that which we are pursuing in the U.S.S.R.

The aim which the Americans are pursuing, arose out of the economic troubles, out of the economic crisis. The Americans want to rid themselves of the crisis on the basis of private capitalist activity, without changing the economic basis. They are trying to reduce to a minimum the ruin, the losses caused by the existing economic system. Here, however, as you know, in place of the old, destroyed economic basis, an entirely different, a new economic basis has been created. Even if the Americans you mention partly achieve their aim, i.e., reduce these losses to a minimum, they will not destroy the roots of the anarchy which is inherent in the existing capitalist system. They are preserving the economic system which must inevitably lead, and cannot but lead, to anarchy in production. Thus, at best, it will be a matter, not of the reorganisation of society, not of abolishing the old social system which gives rise to anarchy and crises, but of restricting certain of its excesses. Subjectively, perhaps, these Americans think they are reorganising society; objectively, however, they are preserving the present basis of society.

That is why, objectively, there will be no reorganisation of society.

Nor will there be planned economy. What is planned economy? What are some of its attributes? Planned economy tries to abolish unemployment. Let us suppose it is possible, while preserving the capitalist system, to reduce unemployment to a certain minimum.

But surely, no capitalist would ever agree to the complete abolition of unemployment, to the abolition of the reserve army of unemployed, the purpose of which is to bring pressure on the labour market, to ensure a supply of cheap labour. Here you have one of the rents in the “planned economy” of bourgeois society. Furthermore, planned economy presupposes increased output in those branches of industry which produce goods that the masses of the people need particularly. But you know that the expansion of production under capitalism takes place for entirely different motives, that capital flows into those branches of economy in which the rate of profit is highest. You will never compel a capitalist to incur loss to himself and agree to a lower rate of profit for the sake of satisfying the needs of the people. Without getting rid of the capitalists, without abolishing the principle of private property in the means of production, it is impossible to create planned economy.

Wells: I agree with much of what you have said.

But I would like to stress the point that if a country as a whole adopts the principle of planned economy, if the government, gradually, step by step, begins consistently to apply this principle, the financial oligarchy will at last be abolished and socialism, in the Anglo-Saxon meaning of the word, will be brought about. The effect of the ideas of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” is most powerful, and in my opinion they are socialist ideas. It seems to me that instead of stressing the antagonism between the two worlds, we should, in the present circumstances, strive to establish a common tongue for all the constructive forces.

Stalin: In speaking of the impossibility of realising the principles of planned economy while preserving the economic basis of capitalism, I do not in the least desire to belittle the outstanding personal qualities of Roosevelt, his initiative, courage and determination. Undoubtedly, Roosevelt stands out as one of the strongest figures among all the captains of the contemporary capitalist world. That is why I would like, once again, to emphasize the point that my conviction that planned economy is impossible under the conditions of capitalism, does not mean that I have any doubts about the personal abilities, talent and courage of President Roosevelt. But if the circumstances are unfavourable, the most talented captain cannot reach the goal you refer to. .

Theoretically, of course, the possibility of marching gradually, step by step, under the conditions of capitalism, towards the goal which you call socialism in the Anglo-Saxon meaning of the word, is not precluded. .

But what will this “socialism” be? At best, bridling to some extent, the most unbridled of individual representatives of capitalist profit, some increase in the application of the principle of regulation in national economy. That is all very well. But as soon as Roosevelt, or any other captain in the contemporary bourgeois world, proceeds to undertake something serious against the foundation of capitalism, he will inevitably suffer utter defeat. The banks, the industries, the large enterprises, the large farms are not in Roosevelt’s hands. All these are private property. The railroads, the mercantile fleet, all these belong to private owners. And, finally, the army of skilled workers, the engineers, the technicians, these too are not at Roosevelt’s command, they are at the command of the private owners; they all work for the private owners. We must not forget the functions of the State in the bourgeois world.

The State is an institution that organises the defence of the country, organises the maintenance of “order”; it is an apparatus for collecting taxes. The capitalist State does not deal much with economy in the strict sense of the word; the latter is not in the hands of the State. On the contrary, the State is in the hands of capitalist economy. That is why I fear that in spite of all his energies and abilities, Roosevelt will not achieve the goal you mention, if indeed that is his goal. Perhaps, in the course of several generations it will be possible to approach this goal somewhat; but I personally think that even this is not very probable. .

Wells: Perhaps, I believe more strongly in the economic interpretation of politics than you do. Huge forces driving towards better organisation, for the better functioning of the community, that is, for socialism, have been brought into action by invention and modern science. Organisation, and the regulation of individual action, have become mechanical necessities, irrespective of social theories. If we begin with the State control of the banks and then follow with the control of transport, of the heavy industries of industry in general, of commerce, etc., such an all-embracing control will be equivalent to the State ownership of all branches of national economy. This will be the process of socialisation. Socialism and individualism are not opposites like black and white. .

There are many intermediate stages between them. .

There is individualism that borders on brigandage, and there is discipline and organisation that are the equivalent of socialism. The introduction of planned economy depends, to a large degree, upon the organisers of economy, upon the skilled technical intelligentsia, who, step by step, can be converted to the socialist principles of organisation. And this is the most important thing. Because organisation comes before socialism. It is the more important fact. .

Without organisation the socialist idea is a mere idea. .

Stalin: There is no, nor should there be, irreconcilable contrast between the individual and the collective, between the interests of the individual person and the interests of the collective. There should be no such contrast, because collectivism, socialism, does not deny, but combines individual interests with the interests of the collective. Socialism cannot abstract itself from individual interests. Socialist society alone can most fully satisfy these personal interests. More than that; socialist society alone can firmly safeguard the interests of the individual. In this sense there is no irreconcilable contrast between “individualism” and socialism. But can we deny the contrast between classes, between the propertied class, the capitalist class, and the toiling class, the proletarian class?

On the one hand we have the propertied class which owns the banks, the factories, the mines, transport, the plantations in colonies. These people see nothing but their own interests, their striving after profits.

They do not submit to the will of the collective; they strive to subordinate every collective to their will. On the other hand we have the class of the poor, the exploited class, which owns neither factories nor works, nor banks, which is compelled to live by selling its labour power to the capitalists which lacks the opportunity to satisfy its most elementary requirements. How can such opposite interests and strivings be reconciled? As far as I know, Roosevelt has not succeeded in finding the path of conciliation between these interests. And it is impossible, as experience has shown. Incidentally, you know the situation in the United States better than I do as I have never been there and I watch American affairs mainly from literature. But I have some experience in fighting for socialism, and this experience tells me that if Roosevelt makes a real attempt to satisfy the interests of the proletarian class at the expense of the capitalist class, the latter will put another president in his place. The capitalists will say : Presidents come and presidents go, but we go on forever; if this or that president does not protect our interests, we shall find another. What can the president oppose to the will of the capitalist class?

Wells: I object to this simplified classification of mankind into poor and rich. Of course there is a category of people which strive only for profit. But are not these people regarded as nuisances in the West just as much as here? Are there not plenty of people in the West for whom profit is not an end, who own a certain amount of wealth, who want to invest and obtain a profit from this investment, but who do not regard this as the main object? They regard investment as an inconvenient necessity. Are there not plenty of capable and devoted engineers, organisers of economy, whose activities are stimulated by something other than profit? In my opinion there is a numerous class of capable people who admit that the present system is unsatisfactory and who are destined to play a great role in future socialist society. During the past few years I have been much engaged in and have thought of the need for conducting propaganda in favour of socialism and cosmopolitanism among wide circles of engineers, airmen, military technical people, etc. It is useless to approach these circles with two-track class war propaganda. These people understand the condition of the world. They understand that it is a bloody muddle, but they regard your simple class-war antagonism as nonsense.

Stalin: You object to the simplified classification of mankind into rich and poor. Of course there is a middle stratum, there is the technical intelligentsia that you have mentioned and among which there are very good and very honest people. Among them there are also dishonest and wicked people, there are all sorts of people among them, But first of all mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited; and to abstract oneself from this fundamental division and from the antagonism between poor and rich means abstracting oneself from the fundamental fact. I do not deny the existence of intermediate middle strata, which either take the side of one or the other of these two conflicting classes, or else take up a neutral or semi-neutral position in this struggle. But, I repeat, to abstract oneself from this fundamental division in society and from the fundamental struggle between the two main classes means ignoring facts. The struggle is going on and will continue. The outcome will be determined by the proletarian class, the working class.

Wells: But are there not many people who are not poor, but who work and work productively?

Stalin: Of course, there are small landowners, artisans, small traders, but it is not these people who decide the fate of a country, but the toiling masses, who produce all the things society requires.

Wells: But there are very different kinds of capitalists. There are capitalists who only think about profit, about getting rich; but there are also those who are prepared to make sacrifices. Take old Morgan for example. He only thought about profit; he was a parasite on society, simply, he merely accumulated wealth. But take Rockefeller. He is a brilliant organiser; he has set an example of how to organise the delivery of oil that is worthy of emulation. Or take Ford. Of course Ford is selfish. But is he not a passionate organiser of rationalised production from whom you take lessons? I would like to emphasise the fact that recently an important change in opinion towards the U.S.S.R. has taken place in English speaking countries. The reason for this, first of all, is the position of Japan and the events in Germany. But there are other reasons besides those arising from international politics. There is a more profound reason namely, the recognition by many people of the fact that the system based on private profit is breaking down. Under these circumstances, it seems to me, we must not bring to the forefront the antagonism between the two worlds, but should strive to combine all the constructive movements, all the constructive forces in one line as much as possible. It seems to me that I am more to the Left than you, Mr. Stalin; I think the old system is nearer to its end than you think.

Stalin: In speaking of the capitalists who strive only for profit, only to get rich, I do not want to say that these are the most worthless people, capable of nothing else. Many of them undoubtedly possess great organising talent, which I do not dream of denying. We Soviet people learn a great deal from the capitalists. And Morgan, whom you characterise so unfavourably, was undoubtedly a good, capable organiser. But if you mean people who are prepared to reconstruct the world, of course, you will not be able to find them in the ranks of those who faithfully serve the cause of profit. We and they stand at opposite poles. You mentioned Ford. Of course, he is a capable organiser of production. But don’t you know his attitude to the working class?

Don’t you know how many workers he throws on the street? The capitalist is riveted to profit; and no power on earth can tear him away from it. Capitalism will be abolished, not by “organisers” of production not by the technical intelligentsia, but by the working class, because the aforementioned strata do not play an independent role. The engineer, the organiser of production does not work as he would like to, but as he is ordered, in such a way as to serve the interests of his employers. There are exceptions of course; there are people in this stratum who have awakened from the intoxication of capitalism. The technical intelligentsia can, under certain conditions, perform miracles and greatly benefit mankind. But it can also cause great harm. We Soviet people have not a little experience of the technical intelligentsia.

After the October Revolution, a certain section of the technical intelligentsia refused to take part in the work of constructing the new society; they opposed this work of construction and sabotaged it.

We did all we possibly could to bring the technical intelligentsia into this work of construction; we tried this way and that. Not a little time passed before our technical intelligentsia agreed actively to assist the new system. Today the best section of this technical intelligentsia are in the front rank of the builders of socialist society. Having this experience we are far from underestimating the good and the bad sides of the technical intelligentsia and we know that on the one hand it can do harm, and on the other hand, it can perform “miracles.” Of course, things would be different if it were possible, at one stroke, spiritually to tear the technical intelligentsia away from the capitalist world. But that is utopia.

Are there many of the technical intelligentsia who would dare break away from the bourgeois world and set to work reconstructing society? Do you think there are many people of this kind, say, in England or in France? No, there are few who would be willing to break away from their employers and begin reconstructing the world.

Besides, can we lose sight of the fact that in order to transform the world it is necessary to have political power? It seems to me, Mr. Wells, that you greatly underestimate the question of political power, that it entirely drops out of your conception.

What can those, even with the best intentions in the world, do if they are unable to raise the question of seizing power, and do not possess power? At best they can help the class which takes power, but they cannot change the world themselves. This can only be done by a great class which will take the place of the capitalist class and become the sovereign master as the latter was before. This class is the working class. Of course, the assistance of the technical intelligentsia must be accepted; and the latter in turn, must be assisted. But it must not be thought that the technical intelligentsia can play an independent historical role. The transformation of the world is a great, complicated and painful process. For this task a great class is required. Big ships go on long voyages.

Wells: Yes, but for long voyages a captain and navigator are required.

Stalin: That is true; but what is first required for a long voyage is a big ship. What is a navigator without a ship? An idle man, Wells : The big ship is humanity, not a class.

Stalin: You, Mr. Wells, evidently start out with the assumption that all men are good. I, however, do not forget that there are many wicked men. I do not believe in the goodness of the bourgeoisie.

Wells: I remember the situation with regard to the technical intelligentsia several decades ago. At that time the technical intelligentsia was numerically small, but there was much to do and every engineer, technician and intellectual found his opportunity. That is why the technical intelligentsia was the least revolutionary class. Now, however, there is a superabundance of technical intellectuals, and their mentality has changed very sharply. The skilled man, who would formerly never listen to revolutionary talk, is now greatly interested in it. Recently I was dining with the Royal Society, our great English scientific society. The President’s speech was a speech for social planning and scientific control. Thirty years ago, they would not have listened to what I say to them now. Today, the man at the head of the Royal Society holds revolutionary views and insists on the scientific reorganisation of human society. Mentality changes. Your class-war propaganda has not kept pace with these facts.

Stalin: Yes, I know this, and this is to be explained by the fact that capitalist society is now in a cul-de sac. The capitalists are seeking, but cannot find a way out of this cul-de-sac that would be compatible with the dignity of this class, compatible with the interests of this class. They could, to some extent, crawl out of the crisis on their hands and knees, but they cannot find an exit that would enable them to walk out of it with head raised high, a way out that would not fundamentally disturb the interests of capitalism. This, of course, is realised by wide circles of the technical intelligentsia. A large section of it is beginning to realise the community of its interests with those of the class which is capable of pointing the way out of the cul-de-sac.

Wells: You of all people know something about revolutions, Mr. Stalin, from the practical side. Do the masses ever rise? Is it not an established truth that all revolutions are made by a minority?

Stalin: To bring about a revolution a leading revolutionary minority is required; but the most talented, devoted and energetic minority would be helpless if it did not rely upon the at least passive support of millions.

Wells: At least passive? Perhaps sub-conscious?

Stalin: Partly also the semi-instinctive and semiconscious, but without the support of millions, the best minority is impotent.

Wells: I watch communist propaganda in the West and it seems to me that in modern conditions this propaganda sounds very old-fashioned, because it is insurrectionary propaganda. Propaganda in favour of the violent overthrow of the social system was all very well when it was directed against tyranny. But under modern conditions, when the system is collapsing anyhow, stress should be laid on efficiency, on competence, on productiveness, and not on insurrection.

It seems to me that the insurrectionary note is obsolete. The communist propaganda in the West is a nuisance to constructive-minded people.

Stalin: Of course the old system is breaking down and decaying. That is true. But it is also true that new efforts are being made by other methods, by every means, to protect, to save this dying system.

You draw a wrong conclusion from a correct postulate.

You rightly state that the old world is breaking down.

But you are wrong in thinking that it is breaking down of its own accord. No, the substitution of one social system for another is a complicated and long revolutionary process. It is not simply a spontaneous process, but a struggle, it is a process connected with the clash of classes. Capitalism is decaying, but it must not be compared simply with a tree which has decayed to such an extent that it must fall to the ground of its own accord. No, revolution, the substitution of one social system for another, has always been a struggle, a painful and a cruel struggle, a life and death struggle. And every time the people of the new world came into power they had to defend themselves against the attempts of the old world to restore the old power by force; these people of the new world always had to be on the alert, always had to be ready to repel the attacks of the old world upon the new system.

Yes, you are right when you say that the old social system is breaking down; but it is not breaking down of its own accord. Take Fascism for example.

Fascism is a reactionary force which is trying to preserve the old system by means of violence. What will you do with the fascists? Argue with them? Try to convince them? But this will have no effect upon them at all. Communists do not in the least idealise the methods of violence. But they, the Communists, do not want to be taken by surprise, they cannot count on the old world voluntarily departing from the stage, they see that the old system is violently defending itself, and that is why the Communists say to the working class : Answer violence with violence; do all you can to prevent the old dying order from crushing you, do not permit it to put manacles on your hands, on the hands with which you will overthrow the old system. As you see, the Communists regard the substitution of one social system for another, not simply as a spontaneous and peaceful process, but as a complicated, long and violent process. Communists cannot ignore facts.

Wells: But look at what is now going on in the capitalist world. The collapse is not a simple one; it is the outbreak of reactionary violence which is degenerating to gangsterism. And it seems to me that when it comes to a conflict with reactionary and unintelligent violence, socialists can appeal to the law, and instead of regarding the police as the enemy they should support them in the fight against the reactionaries. I think that it is useless operating with the methods of the old insurrectionary socialism.

Stalin: The Communists base themselves on rich historical experience which teaches that obsolete classes do not voluntarily abandon the stage of history.

Recall the history of England in the seventeenth century. Did not many say that the old social system had decayed? But did it not, nevertheless, require a Cromwell to crush it by force?

Wells: Cromwell acted on the basis of the constitution and in the name of constitutional order.

Stalin: In the name of the constitution he resorted to violence, beheaded the king, dispersed Parliament, arrested some and beheaded others!

Or take an example from our history. Was it not clear for a long time that the tsarist system was decaying, was breaking down? But how much blood had to be shed in order to overthrow it?

And what about the October Revolution? Were there not plenty of people who knew that we alone, the Bolsheviks, were indicating the only correct way out?

Was it not clear that Russian capitalism had decayed?

But you know how great was the resistance, how much blood had to be shed in order to defend the October Revolution from all its enemies, internal and external.

Or take France at the end of the eighteenth century.

Long before 1789 it was clear to many how rotten the royal power, the feudal system was. But a popular insurrection, a clash of classes was not, could not be avoided. Why? Because the classes which must abandon the stage of history are the last to become convinced that their role is ended. It is impossible to convince them of this. They think that the fissures in the decaying edifice of the old order can be repaired and saved. That is why dying classes take to arms and resort to every means to save their existence as a ruling class.

Wells: But there were not a few lawyers at the head of the Great French Revolution.

Stalin: Do you deny the role of the intelligentsia in revolutionary movements? Was the Great French Revolution a lawyers’ revolution and not a popular revolution, which achieved victory by rousing vast masses of the people against feudalism and championed the interests of the Third Estate? And did the lawyers among the leaders of the Great French Revolution act in accordance with the laws of the old order? Did they not introduce new, bourgeois revolutionary laws?

The rich experience of history teaches that up to now not a single class has voluntarily made way for another class. There is no such precedent in world history. The Communists have learned this lesson of history. Communists would welcome the voluntary departure of the bourgeoisie. But such a turn of affairs is improbable; that is what experience teaches. That is why the Communists want to be prepared for the worst and call upon the working class to be vigilant, to be prepared for battle. Who wants a captain who lulls the vigilance of his army, a captain who does not understand that the enemy will not surrender, that he must be crushed? To be such a captain means deceiving, betraying the working class. That is why I think that what seems to you to be old-fashioned is in fact a measure of revolutionary expediency for the working class.

Wells: I do not deny that force has to be used, but I think the forms of the struggle should fit as closely as possible to the opportunities presented by the existing laws, which must be defended against reactionary attacks. There is no need to disorganise the old system because it is disorganising itself enough as it is. That is why it seems to me insurrection against the old o