BOLSHEVIKS SUPERIOR TO MENSHEVIKS
The 150,000 members with which they began 1907 dwindled to a few thousand, while the correspondingly depressing movement among the leaders gave rise to a variety of opinions concerning policy — even to decrying the revolution and pleading for the liquidation of the party and a revision of Marxism.
Here was a test for the new philosophers who would change the world. To all superficial appearances the 12 years of effort had been of no avail, and the Philistines were scathing. In every great crisis such views recur. Nevertheless, Dan, a Menshevik opponent of the Bolsheviks, felt compelled in after-years to write of the Bolsheviks of this period of blackest depression: while the Bolshevik section of the party transformed itself into a battle phalanx held together by iron discipline and cohesive guiding resolutions, the ranks of the Menshevik section became ever more seriously disorganized by dissension and apathy.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 62
And it was always the Mensheviks of varying shades who received the maximum of Stalin’s attention. This may seem like an obsession on his part, and the Bolsheviks in general, unless it is realized that the Mensheviks were their greatest rivals for the confidence of workers. The Bolsheviks regarded them as an extraordinary danger because they gave coherence and a certain rationality to the mood of the masses.
At one time they were classified as “softs” and the Bolsheviks as “hards”; and there was much that was appropriate in these respective characterizations. For it invariably happened that the Mensheviks expressed all the doubts and fears and weaknesses which beset the workers and the peasants.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 67
Stalin was in prison, in 1903, when he heard a great piece of news. At the Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Party, a split began to appear, on Lenin’s initiative, between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks were the extremists, the wagers of uncompromising class warfare, the iron militants. The Mensheviks were the reformers, the adapters, the arrangers, the technicians of compromise and combination….
The split grew wider. There came a definite parting of the ways…. Stalin did not hesitate. He chose Bolshevism, and decided for Lenin.
A moment always arrives at which a man of action must make a decision of this sort which is destined to affect the whole future course of his life. One is reminded of the old Greek myth, impressive because of its antiquity, of Hercules being compelled to choose, at the beginning of his divine and sportive career, between Vice and Virtue. But were there not, in this case, reasons for and against? Reform is very tempting. It has an atmosphere of wisdom and prudence, and seems to avoid the shedding of blood. But far-seeing people, who understand the great principles of logic and social arithmetic and, in an ever-increasing degree, historical experience, know that on the path of opportunistic resignation and reformist vassalage lie first mirages, then snares, and finally betrayal–and that it is the path of destruction and of massacre. People may say that it is only a question of degree. But no, it is a crucial question, a question of life and death, because minimalism (which is also called the “lesser evil”) is really conservatism.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 24
After his sixth escape, Kobi carried on a campaign against the Georgian Mensheviks. “From 1904 to 1905,” writes Ordjonikidze, “Kobi was, for the Mensheviks, the most hated of the Caucasian Bolsheviks, whose recognized leader he became.”
One day an Olibadze workman addressed him:
“Anyway, damn it, Comrade Sosso, the Mensheviks have got a majority in the Party, after all!”
And this workman remembers quite well today that Sosso answered him:
“Majority? Not as regards quality. Only wait a few years and you will see who was right and who was wrong.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 25
LENIN FOUGHT TROTSKY’S EVISCERATING THE PARTY
The events had revealed again that the Bolshevik party was far from being thoroughly united. The old struggle which had marked the history of the social Democratic Labor Party until the split of 1912 was now raging furiously within the Bolshevik party itself. And as before, Lenin not only won the struggle but raised his prestige enormously. Again in a decisive hour he had saved the revolution when Trotsky and his supporters had nearly lost it.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 119
The polemics between Lenin and Trotsky were ceaseless after 1902. After the Revolution Lenin knew Trotsky had split off but still kept him in the Politburo, along with Zinoviev and Kamenev. The people he had to work with! Lenin took to anyone who supported him in the slightest.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 121
Just because in those years conciliationism became epidemic, Lenin saw in it the greatest menace to the development of a revolutionary party…. in his crusade against that dangerous tendency he felt he had the right not to make any distinction between its objective sources. On the contrary, he attacked with redoubled ferocity those Conciliators whose basic positions were closest to Bolshevism. Avoiding public conflict with the conciliationist wing of the Bolshevik faction itself, Lenin chose to direct his polemics against “Trotskyism,” especially since I, as has already been said, attempted to provide a “theoretical foundation” for conciliationism. Quotations from that violent polemic were later to render Stalin a service for which they were certainly not intended.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 113
TERRIBLE CONDITIONS BEFORE THE REVOLUTION
The fact is that some 90 and more percent of the Russian nation had little fun in the old days and were little better than slaves. It was fun, I admit, for the nobles and generals and the rich and cultured people. But not much fun for the masses who lived like pigs in the dirt and not like pigs in clover.
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 158
The Bolshevik Revolution was made, if you like, by Lenin. But you can’t “make” a revolution; you must have certain conditions. The first and cardinal one is that the majority of your population does not like the way they live…. The 5 percent had fun, the 5 percent at the top; oh yes, they had marvelous fun. But the others lived mostly like beasts and weren’t even fed enough.
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 164
The criminal Tsarist autocracy has brought our country to the brink of destruction. The utter ruin of the hundred million Russian peasants, the oppressed and poverty-stricken condition of the working class, the excessive state debts and heavy taxes, the whole population’s complete lack of rights, the endless tyranny and violence reigning in all spheres of life, lastly the citizens’ utter lack of security in life and property–such is the terrible picture which Russia presents. This cannot go on much longer! The autocracy which is the perpetrator of these dark outrages must be destroyed!… Besides those hundreds and thousands of peaceful citizens–workers, whom it has murdered on city streets–besides the tens of thousands of workers and intellectuals, the best sons of the people, languishing in prisons and in exile, besides those murders and acts of violence perpetrated day in and day out by the Tsarist bashi-bazouks in the villages, among the peasantry of the whole of Russia, the autocracy has devised new outrages to cap it all. It has begun to sow enmity and bad feeling among the people themselves and to provoke sections of the population and whole nationalities against one another.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 19
BOLSHEVIKS AND MENSHEVIKS CLASH OVER PARTY MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS
The “Mensheviks” the minority in the party, were in favor of according membership to anyone who accepted the parties program and supported its finances by paying his membership subscription; the Bolsheviks, the majority, were for requiring a further condition: the member must actively co-operate in the work of one of the party groups. In other words, the Mensheviks wanted a party on West European lines, in which anyone could be a member by virtue of paying his subscription; the Bolsheviks wanted a much smaller party, but one whose members would all be professional revolutionaries. This raised already the substance of another theory which was later accepted. The conception of the political purpose of democracy held by the Menshevik wing was that after an upheaval had won civil liberties for the great mass of the people, and especially for the workers, the party had to become the executor of the will of the people. The Bolsheviks, the advocates of a party of purely professional revolutionaries, were virtually in favor of the opposite standpoint, that the revolution had to be made by a trained elite, and that elite had not to fulfil any and every wish of the people, but to lead the mass of the people in the people’s own interest.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 22
CONTRARY TO TROTSKY’S CLAIMS STALIN PERFORMED WELL BEFORE THE REVOLUTION
During the years of reaction following upon 1905, Stalin may be said to have won for himself a universally recognized reputation and to have laid the foundations of his later rise to a leading position in the Party. In one of his many embittered polemics against Stalin, Trotsky has since sought to prove that his rival’s name was unknown to the Russian masses until long after the successful 1917 revolution. Trotsky’s purpose in this slander is to infer that Stalin owed his advance to wire-pulling and backstage tactics, rather than to proven ability. Detailed study of the period 1906 to 1914 effectively gives the lie to this accusation, which could never have been made at all but for the fact that from 1913 to 1917 Stalin was prevented from adding to his fame because he was imprisoned and under the strictest possible surveillance.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 31
STALIN SET A GOOD EXAMPLE IN PRISON AND WAS BRAVE
Prison had long ago ceased to hold any terrors for Stalin, who offered the perfect example of how a revolutionary should conduct himself in such conditions…. Lenin prepared a series of letters to be sent to young and inexperienced comrades in jail, enjoining them to devote their time to the study of economic theory or to writing on political subjects. “Avoid inactivity, for when a man allows itself to become utterly bored with prison life he is most likely to weaken and lose faith in his cause” was the theme of these remarkable missives. While confined at Baku, Stalin resumed his old routine of proselytising and study, making the most of all opportunities to gain assistants against the time he should return to his interrupted work.
As regards this particular confinement we are more fortunate than usual, for a fellow prisoner, the Menshevik Vereschak, in a book attacking Bolshevism, makes detailed mention of Stalin’s tactics in jail. Vereschak condemns Stalin because he refused to limit himself to association with the other politicals, preferring to maintain friendly relations with all the prisoners, including many convicted of robbery, forgery and other crimes….
in the same book we find a striking passage showing one more facet of Stalin’s character. It appears that a new company of soldiers arrived to act as temporary guards at the Baku jail and began their work by compelling the despised “politicals” to run the gauntlet of two lines of soldiers who belabored the unfortunate men with rifle butts. “When it came to the turn of Koba Djugashvili, he walked slowly down the line, his eyes fixed on a book. Not one of the soldiers struck him.” Even the critical Vereschak felt compelled to pay tribute to the personal courage of an adversary.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 32
Vereshchak was surprised by Koba’s stamina. A cruel game was played in that prison, the purpose of which was by hook or crook to drive one’s opponent frantic: this was called “chasing into a bubble.” “It was never possible to drive Koba off his balance….” states Vereshchak, “nothing would get his goat….”
All the prisoners suffered from the nervous strain. “Koba slept soundly,” says Vereshchak, “or calmly studied Esperanto (he was convinced that Esperanto was the international language of the future).”
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 117-118
He was decisive, ruthless, and supremely confident. Yet he was also brave. This is usually overlooked by those who seek to ascribe every possible defect to him. Even his detractor Vereshchak conceded that Dzhughashvili carried himself with courage and dignity in the face of the authorities. On Easter Day in 1909 a unit of soldiers burst into the political block to beat up all the inmates. Dzhughashvili showed no fear. He resolved to show the soldiers that their violence would never break him. Clutching a book in his hand, he held his head high as they laid into him.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 79
The Russian leader [Stalin] is a general who received the highest military decoration from Lenin in 1919 with the following testimony: “In a moment of great danger, near Krassnaja, Joseph Stalin, through his untiring energy, saved the tottering Red Army. Fighting himself in the frontline, he inspired the soldiers through his example.”
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 233
It is said that he knows no fear, and it is certain that he never had any doubt that his side would win. Close intimates told me that all through the days of civil war and intervention he had absolute disregard for his own comfort and contempt for danger. No matter how dark the outlook, or how depressed his coworkers, he always believed that victory was attainable. In World War II, Stalin refused to worry even when the Germans were knocking on the gates of Moscow. He never left the city, and was certain that the Red Army would not fail in its task.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 11
Stalin’s own coolness did somewhat inspire confidence at the nadir of Russian morale, after the loss of the Ukraine and during the battle for Moscow. When the Germans were on the edge of the capital Stalin stayed on in the Kremlin….
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 161
Stalin frequently visited him [Orbeliani] at the Winter Palace. I admired his audacity. He was not only living in the capital of Russia with a forged passport, after four imprisonments and five escapes from Siberia, but he had the cheek to walk calmly into the carefully guarded precincts of the Palace of the Emperor of all the Russias.
But that was by no means the most audacious of his exploits; and in the one I am about to report he was aided again by a Georgian Prince attached to the court. Prince Tchavtchavadze was an officer in the personal guard of the Czar –and also a secret member of the Bolshevik Party. Stalin asked him for the loan of a uniform, in which he thought he would be safe from the attentions of police spies, and Tchavtchavadze gave him one.
There were other Georgians in the service of the Czar who might have recognized my uncle in his illicitly acquired uniform; but he was confident that no Georgian would give him away. Since there was no one else likely to be able to unmask him, Stalin wore the Czar’s uniform in confident tranquility–a fact which was to give rise later to a legend that Stalin had once served in the Imperial Personal Guard.
The legend is false, but the reality seems to me even more astonishing. Wearing a uniform of a colonel in the Czar’s Guard, my Uncle Joe moved calmly through St. Petersburg attending to his secret activities designed to throw the Czar from his throne. In full daylight he walked down the Nevsky Prospect, in the heart of St. Petersburg, receiving and returning the respectful salutes of police officers charged with arresting Josef Djugachvili, criminal against the state, perennial escaper from the wastes of Siberia!
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 27-28
Another anecdote of this period shows him in a different mood. He was reviewing troops near Petrograd. A sullen soldier refused to salute. Stalin questioned him and the man pointed first to his own feet, wrapped in course burlap, soaked in snow and dirt, then at Stalin’s substantial boots. Without a word Stalin took his boots off, tossed them to the soldier, insisted on donning the soldier’s wet and stinking rags–and continued to wear them till Lenin himself made him resume normal footgear.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 524
In the morning, order was restored. The First Company of the brutal Selyansk Regiment had been called out to quell the rebels. The soldiers were lined up into rows, and commanded to use their rifle-butts. All the political prisoners were forced, in single file, to run the gauntlet of the punitive company. Stalin, holding his head erect, with a book under his arm, proudly marched under the reign of blows.
This picture of Stalin as a heroic figure was drawn by a political enemy of his, Semyon Verestchak, a fellow prisoner of his in Baku.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 78
Vereshchak tells how in 1909 (obviously, he means 1908), on the first day of Easter, a company of the Salyan Regiment beat up all the political prisoners, without exception, forcing them to run the gauntlet. “Koba walked, his head unbowed, under the blows of rifle butts, a book in his hands. And when the free-for-all was let loose, Koba forced the doors of his cell with a slop bucket, ignoring the threat of bayonets.”
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 119
Later enemies overlooked the nerve he showed in the Civil War. He was not a physical coward; he put Lenin, Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Bukharin in the shade by refusing to shirk wartime jeopardy.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 165
Not that he was a coward. There is no basis for accusing Stalin of cowardice. He was simply politically non-committal. The cautious schemer preferred to stay on the fence at the crucial moment. He was waiting to see how the insurrection turned out before committing himself to a position.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 234
STALIN WAS EXILED MANY TIMES
Stalin was soon expelled from a seminary for subversive ideas, and entered on a long career of revolutionary activity, mostly in Tiflis, Baku, and other Caucasian centers, in the course of which he was arrested and sent into exile on no less than six occasions. Five times he escaped and returned to resume his underground work; he was released from his last term of exile in the remote north by the March Revolution.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 90
First arrested by the Tsarist police in 1902, he was sentenced to exile in Siberia. Escaping and returning to Georgia, he succeeded in evading the police for four years. There followed once again prison, exile, and escape, and then still again; altogether he was arrested six times and exiled six times. From the final exile, beyond the Arctic Circle, he was released by the March revolution in 1917, immediately returned to Petrograd.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 19
So Kobi (which was another of his names) made his first escape. And from that moment, detachments of police here, there, and everywhere tracked him down periodically, found him, recaptured him and then tried to find him again. This occurred six times, neither more or less.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 25
Five times he was caught by the Tsar’s police, five times exiled. Four times, a veritable Houdini, he escaped; the 1917 revolution liberated him from the fifth imprisonment, when he was incarcerated above the Arctic Circle.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 523
In 1902, Koba won the spurs of his first arrest and Siberian exile, the first of seven such exiles from which he escaped six times.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 28
LEADERS OF THE BOLSHEVIKS COME FROM THE INTELLIGENTSIA
The early leadership of all the modern revolutionary parties, including the Bolsheviks, was largely recruited from the intelligentsia.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 340
Intellectuals offer a worldview, but only the working class can achieve victory. I consider this to be Lenin’s most important legacy.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 152
Ninety-six percent of the Bolshevik Party were working men. Of course the party had its intelligentsia, not sprung directly from the soil. But Lenin and Trotsky lived close enough to the hunger line to know the thoughts of the poor.
Williams, Albert R. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 82
CZAR USED NATIONAL SUPPRESSION AND OPPRESSION
The contrast between what I witnessed under the rule of Tsar Nicholas II in 1916 and what I saw nearly 30 years later was as that between total darkness and sunlight. The Empire was rightly called the prisonhouse of nations. Everywhere was illiteracy, abject poverty, disease, and exploitation. It was illegal for the various nationalities to have schools in their own language. The wealth of the land was sucked away while industry was kept in a primitive state. The richest agricultural lands were taken over by the Russian nobility. The dissolute rulers lived in great pomp and luxury, protected by Tsarist troops. National enmities and prejudices were deliberately fostered by Tsarist officials as a weapon against movements for freedom. One national group was sent to police another, and boundary lines were often arranged to cut nations in two.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 71
Much later Djugashvili himself thus recalled the motives of his adherence to socialism: ‘I became a Marxist because of my social position (my father was a worker in a shoe factory and my mother was also a working woman), but also… because of the harsh intolerance and Jesuitical discipline that crushed me so mercilessly at the Seminary…. The atmosphere in which I lived was saturated with hatred against Tsarist oppression.’
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 19
Between 1905 and 1914 the numbers sentenced to hard labor (katorga) rose fivefold as the political authority of the Tsarist regime began to crumble.
Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 16
Between January, 1905, and the convocation of the First Duma on the 27th of April, 1906, the Tzarist government, according to approximate calculations, had killed more than 14,000 people, had executed more than 1000, had wounded 20,000, had arrested, exiled and imprisoned about 70,000.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 81
IGNORANCE, PREJUDICE AND ILLITERACY WERE FOSTERED BY CZAR
Illiteracy was not the only factor in maintaining backwardness under the Tsar. All students were indoctrinated to unquestioning obedience to Throne, Altar, and Empire. Prejudice and superstition were fostered. Contemporary social problems and modern science were prohibited subjects. History bore little relation to reality. For instance, after the war with Japan and the loss of Port Arthur, textbooks continued to list Port Arthur as a Russian naval base. Even Russia’s greatest thinkers and writers were forbidden in the schools. The reading of Tolstoy’s War and Peace was prohibited in the secondary schools. Years later, under the Soviets, more than 40 million copies were published and sold!
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 75
STALIN WAS AN EDUCATOR IN MARXIST IDEAS AND ORGANIZED DEBATES IN PRISON
Simon Vereshtchak, a Revolutionary Socialist and a fierce political enemy of his [Stalin] informs us that in 1903 he was in the same prison as Stalin, in Baku–a prison, made to hold 400 prisoners, into which 1500 were crowded. “One day a new face appeared in the cell containing the Bolsheviks. Someone said: ‘It’s Koba.'” What did Koba do in prison? He educated people. “Educational circles were formed, and the Marxist Koba stood out prominently among the professors. Marxism was his subject and he was undefeatable on it….” And Vereshtchak describes this young man, “wearing a blue, open-necked, satinet blouse, no belt or hat, a cloak thrown over his shoulder, and always carrying a book in his hand.” Arranging big organized debates. (Koba always preferred these to individual discussions.)…
A little later, when he occupied cell No. 3 in the Bailoff prison, Koba again organized courses of study. Imprisonment only succeeded in altering his activities in a relative way.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 22
In Tiflis, young Socialists were quick to label themselves Iskra-men, and Djugashvili was one of them. Like others, he now awaited impatiently the successive copies of the paper arriving by clandestine mail at rather long intervals. The advent of a new copy was a festive event. Here was the intellectual authority on which he could confidently lean, for each copy of Iskra brought food for thought and plenty of solid arguments that would come in very usefully in debates with opponents. The periodical also reinforced the young man’s self-confidence. He could now confound his opponents with pointed arguments and sharp phrases coined by the leading theorists abroad and get from the people on the spot some of the credit due to those who had briefed him. He was, of course, too young and too little educated, though knowledgeable by local standards, to make any contribution of his own to Iskra. But his mind was trained enough to absorb and assimilate the main lines, if not all the subtle shades, of the views it propounded. To the workers of whom he had political charge he would now expound not only the general ideas of socialism and the reasons why Tsardom and capitalist exploitation should be opposed: he could also recount the specific arguments against agrarian socialism, legal Marxism, and economism.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 34
Koba imposed upon himself a rigid discipline, rose early, worked hard, read much, and was one of the chief debators in the prison commune. After many years ex-inmates remembered him arguing against agrarian Socialists and other opponents of Iskra. His manner in debating was logical, sharp, and scornful.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 49
The difference that Stalin was able to turn to his advantage was his experience on the ground in Russia as a local organizer, something that few of the other original Bolshevik or Menshevik leaders could claim, and that recommended him to Lenin. An important part of that experience was the periodic interruption of arrest, imprisonment, exile, and escape. In all he was arrested seven times and five times escaped; of the nine years between March 1908 and March 1917 he spent only a year and a half at liberty. In the Russian revolutionary tradition, prison and exile for many political offenders served as their “universities,” where they read widely, got a solid grounding in radical literature and ideas, often from experienced teachers and took part in frequent debates organized by the prison commune. This was where Stalin did his best to make up the deficiencies in his education, particularly in his knowledge of Marxist writings. Most of those who knew him in prison agree in recollections of a man who subjected himself to discipline, always had a book in his hand, and took a prominent part in debates, in which his manner is described as confident, sharp-tongued, and scornful.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 32
Stalin never engaged in any arguments with individuals. “He always challenged his opponents to an ‘organized debate.’ These debates were held almost on a scheduled program. They were on such issues as the agrarian question, and the tactics of revolution, or on philosophical topics. The arguments on the agrarian problem were especially heated and sometimes ended in blows. I remember such a discussion in which Koba took part. His comrade Ordjonikidze came to the defense of his thesis, and wound up by striking his opponent in the face.
Koba’s appearance and mannerisms did not conduce to ease at these debates. He lacked wit and expressed his thoughts somewhat dryly. The mechanical precision of his memory, however, amazed everybody. He had apparently learned by heart all of Marx’s ‘Capital.’ Marxism was his element, and in it he was invincible. There was no power that could dislodge him from a position once he had taken it. He was able to quote a corresponding formula from Marx for every phenomenon. This created a strong impression on the young and unenlightened members of the party.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 79-80
RULING CLASS DID NOT REALIZE A NEW REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD WAS ARISING
Unblemished Socialism, which had stood its ground and preserved its revolutionary integrity, blazed forth from the Kremlin, and suddenly the other Socialism, the Socialism of half-measures, of subterfuges, and of dreams, which blissfully recommended gradual and piecemeal progress, all of whose acquisitions middle-class power would gradually have absorbed and assimilated so as to reinforce itself thereby against the masses–was relegated into the past, with all the old superstitions and obsolete ideas.
These poor pontiffs, who had been unable to perceive their own downfall, found themselves, overnight, in the position of Rip van Winkle returning home after sleeping for a hundred years. But it was not so much that they had slept as that the great mass of the people had awoken. This was an entirely new phase in the history of mankind. Nothing of the sort had ever happened before since the beginning of the world.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 55
STALIN CONTRASTS MARXISM WITH ANARCHISM
Marxism and anarchism are based upon entirely different principles, irrespective of the fact that they both enter the arena of struggle under a socialist flag. The cornerstone of anarchism is the individual, whose emancipation, according to it, is the main prerequisite for the emancipation of the mass, i.e., according to anarchism the emancipation of the mass is impossible until the individual is free; hence its slogan: “Everything for the individual.” The cornerstone of Marxism, on the contrary, is the mass, the emancipation of which, according to it, is the main prerequisite for the emancipation of the individual, i.e., according to Marxism, the emancipation of the individual is impossible without the emancipation of the mass. Hence its slogan, “Everything for the mass.”
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 38
STALIN REJECTS POSITION THAT PROLETARIAT MUST BE A MAJORITY FOR THE REVOLUTION
The opportunists of the Second International have a series of theoretical dogmas which they always use as a starting point. Let us consider some of them.
First dogma: Concerning the prerequisites for the seizure of power by the proletariat. The opportunists assert that the proletariat cannot and ought not to seize power if it does not itself constitute a majority in the country. No proofs are adduced, for this absurd thesis cannot be justified either theoretically or practically. Let us admit this for a moment, Lenin replies to the gentleman of the Second International. But suppose an historic situation arises (war, agrarian crises, etc.) in which the proletariat, a minority of the population, is able to rally around itself the vast majority of the working masses, why should it not seize power then? Why should it not profit by the favorable internal and international situation to pierce the front of capitalism and hasten the general climax? Did not Marx say, as far back as the 1850s, that the proletarian revolution in Germany would be in a “splendid” position if it could get the support of a “new edition, so to speak, of the Peasant War”? Does not everyone know that at that period the number of proletarians in Germany was relatively smaller than, for example, in the Russia of 1917? Has not the practical experience of the Russian proletarian revolution shown that this favorite dogma of the heroes of the Second International is devoid of all vital significance for the proletariat? Is it not obvious that the experience of the revolutionary mass struggle smashes this obsolete dogma?
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 43
The revolution of 1848 in France suffered defeat because among other things, it failed to evoke a sympathetic response among the French peasants. The Paris Commune fell because, among other things, it encountered the opposition of the middle strata, especially of the peasantry. The same must be said of the Russian Revolution of 1905. Some of the vulgar Marxists, with Kautsky at their head, basing themselves on the experience of the European revolutions, arrived at the conclusion that the middle strata, especially of the peasantry, were well-nigh born enemies of the workers’ revolution, and that it was necessary on that account to steer towards a more lengthy period of development, as a result of which the proletariat would become the majority of the nation whereby the actual conditions prerequisite to a victory of the workers revolution would be created. On the basis of this conclusion, these vulgar Marxists warned the proletariat against a “premature” revolution. On the basis of this conclusion, they, for “considerations of principle” placed these middle strata at the complete disposal of the capitalists. On the basis of this conclusion, they prophesied to us the doom of the Russian October Revolution, referring to the fact that the proletariat constituted a minority in Russia, that Russia was a peasant country, and that on that account the victorious workers’ Revolution was impossible in Russia.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 54
The October Revolution undoubtedly presented the happy combination of a “peasant war” and a “proletarian revolution” of which Marx wrote, all the chatterboxes and their “principles” notwithstanding. The October Revolution proved that such a combination is both possible and feasible. The October Revolution proved that the proletariat can seize power and maintain it, provided it is able to wrest the middle strata, especially the peasantry, from the capitalist classes, provided it knows how to transform the strata from reserves of capitalism to reserves of the proletariat.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 56
MARXISTS SAY FIGHT FASCIST VIOLENCE WITH FORCE
Take Fascism for example. Fascism is a reactionary force which is trying to preserve the old world 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 idealize 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.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 46
RULING CLASS WILL NOT LEAVE VIA REFORMS AND CONCESSIONS
That is why we cannot count on the change of social systems taking place as an imperceptible transition from one system to another by means of reforms, by the ruling class making concessions.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 49
DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT CAN ONLY COME ABOUT THROUGH VIOLENT REVOLUTION
Can such a radical transformation of the old bourgeois system of society be achieved without a violent revolution, without the dictatorship of the proletariat?
Obviously not. To think that such a revolution can be carried out peacefully within the framework of bourgeois democracy, which is adapted to the domination of the bourgeoisie, means one of two things. It means either madness, and the loss of normal human understanding, or else an open and gross repudiation of the proletarian revolution.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 51
STALIN SAYS THE DIC, OF THE PROL. IS THE ENTIRE PERIOD FROM CAPITALISM TO COMMUNISM
We must, therefore, regard the dictatorship of the proletariat, the transition from capitalism to communism, not as a fleeting period replete with “super-revolutionary” deeds and decrees, but as an entire historical epoch full of civil wars and external conflicts, of persistent organizational work and economic construction, of attacks and retreats, of victories and defeats.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 58
STALIN SAYS IT IS MASSES, PEOPLE, THAT COUNT, NOT LEADERS
I recall an incident in Siberia, where I was at one time in exile. It was in the spring, at the time of the spring floods. About 30 men went to the river to pull out timber which had been carried away by the vast, swollen river. Towards evening they returned to the village, but with one man missing. When asked where the 30th man was, they unconcernedly replied that the 30th man had “remained there.” To my question, “How do you mean, remained there?” They replied with the same unconcerned, “Why ask?–drowned, of course,” Thereupon one of them began to hurry away, saying, “I have got to go and water the mare.” When I reproached them for having more concern for animals than for men, one of them, amid the general approval of the rest, said, “Why should we be concerned about men? We can always make men. But a mare–just try and make a mare!”
Here you have a case, not very significant perhaps, but very characteristic. It seems to me that the indifference shown by certain of our leaders to people, to cadres, and their inability to value people, is a survival of that strange attitude of man displayed in the episode in far-off Siberia just related.
And so,… if we want successfully to overcome the famine and the matter of people and to provide our country with sufficient cadres capable of advancing technique and setting it going, we must first of all learn to value people, to value cadres, to value every worker capable of benefiting our common cause. It is time to realize that of all the valuable capital the world possesses, the most valuable and most decisive is people, cadres….
…In this connection there is too much talk about the merits of chiefs, about the merits of leaders. All or nearly all our achievements are ascribed to them. That, of course, is wrong, it is incorrect. It is not merely a matter of leaders….
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 93
Josef Stalin was a great man; few other men of the twentieth century approach his stature. He was simple, calm and courageous. He seldom lost his poise; pondered his problems slowly, made his decisions clearly and firmly; never yielded to ostentation nor coyly refrained from holding his rightful place with dignity. He was the son of a serf, but stood calmly before the great without hesitation or nerves. But also — and this was the highest proof of his greatness — he knew the common man, felt his problems, followed his fate.
Statement by W.E.B DuBois regarding COMRADE STALIN on March 16, 1953
We may take it as the rule that as long as the Bolsheviks maintain connection with the broad masses of the people they will be invincible. And, on the contrary, as soon as the Bolsheviks become severed from the masses and lose their connection with them, as soon as they become covered with bureaucratic rust, they will lose all their strength and become a mere squib.
In the mythology of the ancient Greeks there is the celebrated hero Antaeus who, so the legend goes, was the son of Poseidon, god of the seas, and Gaea, goddess of the earth. Antaeus was particularly attached to his mother who gave birth to him, suckled him and reared him. There was not a hero whom this Antaeus did not vanquish. He was regarded as an invincible hero. Wherein lay his strength? It lay in the fact that every time he was hard pressed in the fight against his adversary he touched the earth, his mother, who gave birth to him and suckled him, and that gave him new strength. But he had a vulnerable spot — the danger of being detached from the eaarth in some way or other. His enemies took this into account and watched for it. One day an enemy appeared who took advantage of this vulnerable spot and vanquished Antaeus. This was Hercules. How did Hercules vanquish Antaeus? He lifted him off the ground, kept him suspended, prevented him from touching the ground and throttled him.
I think that the Bolsheviks remind us of the hero of Greek mythology, Antaeus. They, like Antaeus, are strong because they maintain connection with their mother, the masses who gave birth to them, suckled them and reared them. And as long as they maintain connection with their mother, with the people, they have every chance of remaining invincible.
This is the key to the invincibility of Bolshevik leadership.
Stalin, Joseph. Works, Vol. 14, Speech in Reply to Debate, 1 April 1937, Red Star Press, London, Pravda 1978, pp. 292-296.
STALIN SAYS FREEDOM MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY GOODS IF IT IS TO BE WORTHWHILE
Our revolution is the only one which not only smashed the fetters of capitalism and brought people freedom, but also succeeded in creating for the people the material conditions for a prosperous life. Therein lies the strength and invincibility of our revolution. It is a good thing, of course, to drive out the capitalists, to drive out the landlords, to drive out the Tsarist henchman, to seize power and achieve freedom. That is very good, but, unfortunately, freedom is far from enough. If there is a shortage of bread, a shortage of butter and fats, a shortage of textiles, and if housing conditions are bad, freedom will not carry you very far. It is very difficult, comrades, to live on freedom alone. In order to live well and joyously, the benefits of political freedom must be supplemented by material benefits. The distinctive feature of our revolution is that it brought the people not only freedom, but also material benefits and the possibility of a prosperous and cultured life. That is why life has become joyous in our country, and that is the soil from which the Stakhanov movement sprang.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 108
MARXISTS SUPPORT REFORMS, COMPROMISE AND AGREEMENTS
What is the difference between revolutionary tactics and reformist tactics?
Some are of the opinion that Leninism is opposed to reforms, opposed to compromises and to agreements in general. That is absolutely untrue. Bolsheviks know as well as anybody else that in a certain sense “every little [bit] helps,” that under certain conditions reforms, in general, and compromises and agreements, in particular, are necessary and useful.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 321-22
But since Communists had to fight for partial gains and reforms they had some common ground, however narrow, with the Social Democrats and the moderate trade unionists. They should try to concert action with them within a united front….
Lenin had expounded these ideas as early as 1920 in the Infantile Disease of “Leftishness” in Communism, where he dwelled on the harm done to communism by unreasoning ultra-radical sectarians. The need for a firm and formal disavowal of “ultra-radicalism” became pressing after the German March rising of 1921. It was then that Lenin placed proposals for the new policy before the Executive of the International. He met with strong opposition from Zinoviev, Bukharin, Bela Kun, and others. For a moment it seemed that the ultra-radicals would prevail. It was only after animated debates in the course of which Lenin and Trotsky jointly faced the opposition that the Executive was persuaded to authorize the policy of “gathering strength” and to instruct both Lenin and Trotsky to expound it at the forthcoming congress of the International.
… The Communist parties had come into existence in a desperate struggle against the leaders of the old Socialist parties whom they blamed for supporting the “imperialist slaughter” of 1914-18, for the subsequent suppression of revolution in Europe, for the assassination of Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht, and for an ambiguous attitude towards European intervention in Russia. No wonder that many Communists were bewildered and indignant when they now heard Lenin and Trotsky urging them to acknowledge defeat, be it temporarily, and to co-operate with the hated “social imperialists” and “social traitors.” This to the ultra-radicals was surrender or even betrayal. At the congress, as earlier on the Executive, Trotsky and Lenin had to use all their influence and eloquence to prevent the opposition from gaining the upper hand–they even threatened to split the International if it backed the ultra-radicals.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 62
…Lenin and Trotsky had set the Communist parties the dual task of fighting arm in arm with the reformists against the bourgeoisie and of wresting from the reformists influence over the working class. The idea of the united front embodied the whole practical experience of the Bolsheviks who had indeed fought first against Tsardom, then the cadets, and then Kornilov, in a sort of united front with the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries until, in the end, they gained ascendancy over the latter too.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 64
STALIN’S EXILE, IMPRISONMENT, AND ESCAPE CAREER SHOWS GREAT DETERMINATION
1902, April 5: Stalin is arrested in Batum (first arrest).
1903, April 19: Stalin is transferred to the Kutais Provincial prison.
1903, Nov.: Stalin is exiled for three years to the Province of Irkutsk, East Siberia, via Batum and Novorossisk (first exile).
1904, Jan. 5: Stalin escapes from exile (from Balagansk, Irkutsk province) and goes first to Batum and later to Tiflis (first escape).
1908, March 25: Stalin is arrested in Baku under the name of Gaioza Nizharadze. Stalin is sent to the Bailov prison (Second arrest).
1908, Sept. 20: Stalin is exiled for two years to the city of Solvychegodsk in the Vologda province (second exile).
1909, June 24: Stalin escapes from the Vologda Province (2d escape).
1910, March 23: Stalin is arrested in Baku (3d arrest).
1910, August 27: By order of the Vice-Regent of the Caucasus, Stalin is forbidden to reside within the limits of the Caucasian region for a period of five years.
1910, Sept. 23: Stalin is exiled to the city of Solvychegodsk in the Vologda Province (3d exile).
1911, July 6: Stalin escapes from exile (3d escape).
1911, Sept. 9: Stalin is arrested in St. Petersburg (4th arrest)
1911, Dec. 14: a Stalin is exiled to the city of Solvychegodsk and the Vologda Province (4th exile)
1912, Feb. 29: Stalin escapes from exile (4th escape)
1912, April 22: Stalin is arrested in St. Petersburg (5th arrest)
1912, Beginning of summer: Stalin is exiled for four years to the Narym Territory (5th exile)
1912, Summer: Stalin escapes from exiled (from Narym) and returns to St. Petersburg (5th escape)
1913, Spring: Stalin is arrested in St. Petersburg (6th arrest)
1913, June: Stalin is exiled for four years under police surveillance to the Turukhan Territory (6th exile)
1913, June to Feb. 1917: Stalin is in exile in the Turukhan Territory.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 353
His education awed the the womenfolk among my family and our friends. The men were more impressed by his record as a fighter against the authorities. One of them, Siko Karangozichvili, said to me one day, “Your uncle is a real hero. He has been fighting all his life to free our country from the Russians. They keep putting him in jail and he keeps getting out.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 3
He [Stalin] was arrested for the first time in 1902, and in the following year married Yekaterina Svanidze –said to be his one true love–before beinng transported to Eastern Siberia.
Escaping from exile in 1904, Djugashvili returned to Tiflis, where he became a Bolshevik and adopted the alias ‘Koba’, the name of the hero of The Patricide, a novel by the Georgian writer Kazbegi….
Arrested again in 1909 and exiled to Solvychegodsk in the north of the province of Vologda, he escaped after four months and got back to Baku. In 1912 he was arrested again, this time in St. Petersburg, and deported to Western Siberia, escaping yet again and returning to the capital….
In 1913 he was arrested again in St. Petersburg and exiled for four years to Turukhansk in Western Siberia, which he was able to leave only after the fall of the Tsar in March 1917.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 86
He carried on Socialist propaganda unceasing among the leather, tobacco, and mine workers. He worked as a bookbinder to earn his own living, while at the same time he set up and printed his own newspaper in a cellar or sometimes in a wooden hut. He took part in preparations for organizing attacks against the government and for that reason was constantly watched by the Imperial Police. In spite of his false beards and other disguises he was discovered again and again; and from his 24th to his 34th year he was imprisoned six times, first in the Caucasus and then in St. Petersburg. Following each imprisonment he was outlawed and exiled to Siberia, but he invariably escaped after a few weeks or months. During this 18 years of his existence as law-breaker and outlaw, constantly in danger, impoverished and miserable, he left Russia only a few times and each time he remained abroad only for a little while….
…during this first decade as an active Socialist, from the age of 16 to that of 26, neither ambition nor the will to power, nor the desire for action on a broad scale, nor recognition by his comrades, brought him any satisfaction. For in all that he did he remained anonymous.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 355
Though born in the South and accustomed to the southern sun, he had to pass the dreary years of the war in this arctic North, wavering between hope and doubt, rather weakened in health through long spells of imprisonment, entirely alone, living in a miserable wooden shack amid the snows, shooting wild geese and duck for his food during the winter and fishing for it in summer. He cooked for himself, made his own clothes and whatever implements he needed for digging and shoveling and building, while at the same time he read Marx and Darwin, for under the Czarist regime all political prisoners were allowed to take books with them into exile….
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 357
Between his flights from city to city, he was six times imprisoned, for periods of 3 to 10 months; he was exiled to Siberia, escaping five times at the end of a few weeks or months to reappear under a new name. Between times a bookbinder, a compositor, a printer of prohibited papers in cold cellars, or again a traveling agitator in tobacco factories or coal mines. Can such an early life, with its sacrifices of money and security, of the cheerful, hopeful education of children, of the respect of the world about him, with no hope of reward or fame–can such a life, if it does not break the man who bears it, make him other than a passionate champion of his community…?
Ludwig, Emil. Three portraits: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. New York Toronto: Longmans, Green and Company, c1940, p. 95
Map of Stalin’s six exiles and five escapes
The complete records:
First arrest, Batum, April, 1902;
First exile, to Novaya Uda, Irkutsk, November 1903:
First escape, January, 1904.
Second arrest, Baku, March, 1908;
Second exile, to Solvychegodsk, Vologda Province, September, 1908
Second escape (to Baku), June, 1909
Third arrest, Baku, March, 1910
Third exile, Vologda, September, 1910
Third escape (two St. Petersburg), July, 1911
Fourth arrest, St. Petersburg, September, 1911
Fourth exile to Vologda
Fourth escape to St. Petersburg, February, 1912
Fifth arrest, St. Petersburg, April, 1912
Fifth exile to Narym region, June, 1912
Fifth escape to St. Petersburg, September, 1912
Sixth arrest, St. Petersburg, March, 1913
Sixth exile to Turukhansk District
Liberated in February, 1917, arriving in Petrograd, March 12, 1917
Barrett, James. Stalin and God. New York: Booktab, Inc., 1943, p. 21
He [Stalin] had worked in the capital of the oil industry for nearly eight months, he had spent nearly six months in the Baku prison, nearly nine months in the Vologda exile. A month of underground activity was paid for with two months of punishment. After escaping he had again worked in the underground for nearly nine months, spent about six months in prison, stayed nine months in exile–a somewhat more favorable ratio. At the end of exile–less than two months of illegal work, nearly three months of prison, nearly two months in Vologda province: two and a half months of punishment for 1 month of activity. Again two months of underground, nearly four months of prison and exile. Another escape. More than half a year of revolutionary activity, then–prison and exile, this time until the February Revolution; that is, lasting four years. On the whole, of the 19 years of his participation in the revolutionary movement, he spent two and three quarters years in prison, five and three quarters years in exile.
Trotsky , Leon , Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 182
DURING AN EARLY TRIAL KAMENEV DENOUNCED PART OF LENIN’S PROGRAM
In 1914 Kamenev was assigned by the party to return to St. Petersburg to direct Pravda and the work of the Bolshevik Duma group. A few months after the beginning of World War I, Kamenev was arrested and a year later appeared before the judges of the St. Petersburg judicial chamber together with the Bolshevik deputies to the Duma. Under wartime regulations the arrested Bolsheviks theoretically were faced with the death penalty. At the trial, Kamenev behaved in a cowardly fashion, stating that he disagreed with Lenin’s slogan favoring “the defeat of one’s own imperialist government.” His behavior aroused sharp criticism among the Bolsheviks. He was sentenced to exile in Siberia.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 141
LITTLE IS KNOWN ABOUT STALIN’S YOUTH AND EARLY DAYS
(J. Arch Getty)
Stalin ruled the largest country on earth for a quarter of the 20th century and was perhaps the dominant personality of his era…. Yet we know practically nothing about him.
His childhood is a blank and solid information about his parents comprises less than a paragraph. His adolescence is equally shadowy, as it is his early political career. Only the occasional witness–his or her testimony inevitably clouded or scripted according to political needs–briefly enlightens Stalin’s youth. His early writings are unrevealing, and the first focused impression one gets comes only in 1917. Even then, his ideas, plans, conversations, and even role as a significant actor are hardly known and hotly disputed.
We know little more about the rest of Stalin’s personal life. None of his intimates later came forward with truly revealing pictures; the memoirs of his daughter Svetlana and his servant Khrushchev are the closest things one has to such testimony and although they tell us a lot, they provide only episodic snapshots of the master. Remembrances of other Soviets who had dealings with Stalin similarly consist of specific impressions and brief meetings. Some of them describe an open-minded and intelligent administrator who valued the advice of experts….
Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 100
We do not really know for certain a great deal about Stalin’s childhood and youth. In part this is due to a shortage of information, in part to the fact that informants often contradict one another, or at least give views which are hard to harmonize. Much of it was remembered 40 or 50 or 60 years later, and by people who had reasons, conscious or unconscious, to distort the picture.
In Stalin’s case, the main thing seems to be not to accept as facts what are only probabilities and, where accounts are incompatible, to leave them to speak for themselves, or take a view of them and explain why.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 9-10
His [Stalin] early life in the Social Democratic organizations in the Caucasus is still a very obscure subject. The Trotskyite line, that he was unimportant and inactive, is clearly exaggerated.
… Stalin was involved in organizing raids on banks in the Caucasus, though he never directly took part in them.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 55
The existing memoirs of Stalin’s youth, whether written by supporters under Stalin’s watchful eye or by enemies in exile, are all biased, and all lack eyewitness accounts of his earliest years.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 21
Lenin’s life and activity can be studied comprehensively, but in the case of Stalin the situation is unfortunately quite different. No comparable archive exists, nor will it ever be possible to re-create one in the future, since a significant portion of Stalin’s papers were deliberately destroyed by his political heirs, including a large number of documents and a considerable part of his personal archive.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 65
Approximately 300 restricted files remain in the Stalin fond [files]. Because no list has ever been compiled, it is impossible to determine their content. This has led several historians to assume that there are crucially important documents hidden away in this fond. However, we think this unlikely and are inclined to believe that there is nothing of much importance in this last collection of Stalin documents closed to most historians. (After all, neither Radzinsky nor Volkogonov, who did have access, found anything of major interest.)
MAYBE WHAT IS LEFT WOULD ONLY BE OF INTEREST TO LEFTISTS
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 73
Joseph Djugachvili. Aged 23 years. Born at Gori. Ex-pupil of the Tiflis seminary. Expelled for unruly behavior.
[Footnote]: it is not known from what source Lavrov obtained this incorrect information.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 39
“Soso was always a good boy,” his mother declared emphatically, in 1930. “Yes, he was always a good boy. I never had to punish him. He studied hard, was always reading or talking and trying to find out about something…. Soso was my only son. Of course I treasured him. Above everything in the world….
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 7
What is more, there was little in the writings about Stalin which gave a vivid impression of him Thus the 1938 biography recited the bearest details of the first half of Stalin’s life before proceeding to catalog his actions at the level of policy. There was scant attention to the family, school, and native town of his boyhood. Accounts of his career in the clandestine Bolshevik committees before the Great War were discouraged; even his career in the October Revolution, the Civil War, the NEP and the Five-Year Plans was hardly covered in either the biography or the Short Course. He discouraged all historical and literary attempts to explain how he came to think what he thought or do what he did He strove instead to get writers, painters, and film-makers to present him as the embodiment of the party rather than as a credible actor in history. Despite the preoccupation of the state media with Stalin, extremely little was allowed into the public domain telling of his ancestry, education, beliefs, demeanor, or calculations….
[why did Stalin do this] The most plausible explanation is that Stalin still believed that austerity was what best suited Russia’s cultural ambience as well as the sensibilities of the world communist movement. After the Seventeenth Party Congress in 1934, he had stopped being called General Secretary but instead was designated Secretary of the Party Central Committee. Until 6 May 1941, furthermore, he resolutely refused to become Sovnarkom Chairman despite the fact that this had been Lenin’s job. He could not even be tempted to create the post of Chairman for himself in the Party Politburo. Nor was Stalin head of state. That position continued to be held by Kalinin as Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 362-363
[Stalin’s mother said], “Soso was always a good boy…. I never had occasion to punish him. He studied hard, always reading or discussing, trying to understand everything…. Soso was my only son. Of course, he was precious to me.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 7
STALIN WAS A GOOD UNDERGROUND WORKER
He knew how to make himself inconspicuous. Cautious, taciturn, observant, and possessing great presence of mind, he was already, in many ways, the ideal underground worker.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 35
From now on  his whole existence would be screened by false passports and nicknames, of which he was to use nearly 20 in the next 15 years. Hitherto he had existed on the borderline between clandestinity and legality. Now he was descending into the actual underground from which he was to emerge finally only in 1917, shortly before he became a member of the first Soviet Cabinet. For his living he would depend entirely on such assistance as the organization, rich in ambition and enthusiasm but poor in money, could give him, and on his comrades’ private help. The decision to take this course was an informal vow of poverty, which in a sense terminated his novitiate to socialism. The ex-seminarist was now becoming one of that godless order of knight-errants and pilgrims of the revolution, to whom life offered little or no interest and attraction outside their service.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 37
A confidential report of the secret police stated: ‘In the autumn of 1901 the Social Democratic Committee of Tiflis sent one of its members, Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili, formerly a pupil in the sixth form of the Tiflis Seminary, to Batum for the purpose of carrying on propaganda among the factory workers. As a result of Djugashvili’s activities… Social Democratic organizations began to spring up in all the factories of Batum. The results of the Social Democratic propaganda could already be seen in 1902, in the prolonged strike in the Rothschild factory and in street demonstrations.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 47
For 17 years he was forced to live anonymously under a series of names as the police were constantly on his track. This illegal life has always been the fate and at the same time the secret delight of subterranean agitators, even in the ancient world. The insecurity of his daily life implants in a young soul distrust of every acquaintance, caution before every friend, and above all, suspicion.
Ludwig, Emil. Three portraits: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. New York Toronto: Longmans, Green and Company, c1940, p. 94
TROTSKY LIED WHEN HE SAID STALIN BEGAN AS A MENSHEVIK
Many years later his [Stalin] official biographers were to claim that,…he had sided with Lenin even before he was deported to Siberia. This version was challenged by Trotsky, who asserted that Koba was at first a Menshevik. In actual fact there is nothing to suggest either that Stalin ever was a Menshevik or that he declared himself to be a Bolshevik immediately after the split. Probably, he refrained at first from committing himself to any group, trying to find out the facts and their meaning amid a fog of conflicting reports. His hesitations, if this be the right word for his state of mind, did not last long. A few months after his escape from Siberia he made up his mind to support Lenin. Towards the end of the year 1904 he was already zealously agitating for Bolshevism.
[Footnote:] Trotsky based this assertion on a single sentence contained in a police report written in 1911. The report is inaccurate in other points as well. It claims, for instance, that Stalin joined the Social-Democratic Party only in 1902.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 58
TROTSKY LED MANY ANTI-BOLSHEVIK GROUPS PRIOR TO WWI
In the preceding splits he [Lenin] parted company with his ablest colleagues. His latest decision to burn all boats behind him left him with few outstanding associates. Trotsky now headed a motley coalition of right-wing Mensheviks, radical Bolsheviks, anti-Mensheviks and anti-Bolsheviks, liquidators, boycotters, God-seekers, and simply Trotskyists in a ferocious journalistic onslaught on Leninism.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 109
STALIN UNITED WITH LENIN SHORTLY AFTER THE THESES CAME OUT
Barely 10 days after Lenin came out with his Theses, Stalin hastened to demonstrate, in Pravda, his solidarity with Lenin.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 141
TROTSKY DESCRIBES THE MISERY OF CZARIST PRISON LIFE
The old prison in Nikolayev had no decent accommodation for political prisoners, especially for so many of them. I was put into the same cell with a young bookbinder named Yavitch. The cell was a very small one; it could hold about 30, but there was no furniture of any sort, and it had very little heat. There was a big square opening in the door that looked out on an open corridor leading straight into the courtyard. The January frosts were very bitter. A straw mattress was spread on the floor for us to sleep on at night, and was taken away at 6 o’clock in the morning. It was torture to get up and dress ourselves. Yavitch and I would sit on the floor, in hats, over coats, and rubbers, pressing close to one another and leaning against the stove, which was barely warm, and would dream away for two hours or more at a time. It was the happiest part of the day for us. We were not being called up for cross-examination, so we would run back and forth from one corner to the other, trying to keep warm; we talked about the past and hoped wonderingly about our future. I began to teach Yavitch something about the sciences. Three weeks passed in this way.
Then there was a change. With all my belongings, I was summoned to the prison office and given over to two tall gendarmes, who drove me by horse to a prison at Kherson. It was a building even older than the other. My cell was roomy, but it had only a narrow window that did not open, and was protected by heavy iron bars through which little light could enter. My isolation was absolute and hopeless. There was no walking, nor were there any neighbors. I couldn’t see anything through my window, which had been entirely sealed up for the winter. I got no parcels from outside, and I had no tea or sugar. Prisoner’s stew was given to me once a day, for dinner. A ration of rye bread with salt was breakfast and supper. I had long discussions with myself as to whether I should increase my morning portion at the expense of the evening one. The morning arguments in favor of an increase seemed quite senseless and criminal at night; at supper-time, I hated the person who had treated himself at breakfast. I didn’t have a change of linen. For three months I had to wear the same underwear, and I had no soap. The vermin there were eating me alive. I would set myself to taking 1000, 100 and even 11 steps on the diagonal. That was my 19th year. The solitude was unbroken, worse than any I ever experienced afterward, although I served time in nearly 20 prisons. I didn’t have even a book, a piece of paper or a pencil. The cell was never aired. The only way I could gauge the comparative purity of the air was by the grimace that twisted the face of the assistant warden when he sometimes visited me.
At the end of the third month, when a straw-filled bag, prison-bread, and lice were the fixed elements of existence, as much so as day and night, one evening the guards brought me a great bundle of things from that other, utterly fantastic world; there were fresh linen, covers, and a pillow, white bread, tea, sugar, ham, canned foods, apples, oranges–yes, big bright-colored oranges! Even today, after 31 years, I list all these marvelous things with emotion, and I even pull myself up for having forgotten the jar of jam, the soap and the comb for my hair. “Your mother sent them,” said the assistant warden. And little as I knew about reading the thoughts of people in those days, I could tell from his tone that he had been bribed.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 114-116
A TRUE REVOLUTIONARY MUST HAVE A SIXTH SENSE ABOVE MERE KNOWLEDGE
No great work is possible without intuition–that is, without that subconscious sense which, although it may be developed and enriched by theoretical and practical work, must be ingrained in the very nature of the individual. Neither theoretical education nor practical routine can replace the political insight which enables one to apprehend a situation, weigh it as a whole, and perceive the future. This gift takes on decisive importance at a time of abrupt changes and breaks–the conditions of revolution.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 185
Stalin found himself once more passing through a period [involved with the reorganization of the power of the state] in which he could not clearly see the best way to follow: nevertheless, he did not lose his intuition or his realistic common sense, which were his best weapons. He refused to give his unreserved approval to the aggressive frankness of the Molotov group, which believed only in its own truth, and tried to impose it, without taking into account the truth which governed the western clan, and which was no less categorical and egocentric.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 399
FREEDOM UNDER THE BOURGEOISIE IS FRAUDULENT AND AT THE BIDDING OF A FEW
In other words, bourgeois democracy enormously and beneficially increased the field of visible liberty; it created legal and political freedoms and restricted the sphere of open and arbitrary interference with the individual’s freedom of action. But, at the same time, it involved the development of a great mass of invisible compulsions; the powers of individuals to coerce and control their fellows by the hidden means of economic pressure, power of the press and of propaganda and the like. Moreover, these invisible compulsions were under no sort of public control. They were exercised by individuals in their own interest; and, so far from being understood, their very existence was denied by the defenders of bourgeois democracy who claimed that its formal liberty was total and complete liberty, indeed, the only possible form of liberty.
Socialist Clarity Group. The U. S. S. R., Its Significance for the West. London: V. Gollancz, 1942, p. 66
BRITISH ARE A RUTHLESS COLONIAL OPPRESSOR
It is true, indeed, that over long periods, British imperialism has been able to hold back the British labor movement from revolutionary struggle by using the super-profits of its foreign trade monopoly and then of its colonial capital investments to win over an upper section of the workers; that it has used social democracy as a principal weapon to hold back the workers from militant struggle. But this never meant that it disbanded its organization of labor espionage and provocation. On the contrary, when British workers were held back for a time by the sops drawn from the fruits of colonial exploitation, all the weapons of espionage, provocation, penetration, were strengthened tenfold and used against the national liberation movements of the colonial peoples. Very long and very ugly is the story of espionage and provocation carried out by the British authorities against the workers and people of Ireland, India, Burma, Ceylon, Africa, etc. In the whole “art” of colonial repression, developed to its highest (or lowest) level by British imperialism, besides the weapons of bribery and of open repression, the weapons of espionage and provocation have always played a principal role.
And in Britain itself the state has never disarmed. On the contrary, it has developed and perfected its weapons for use against the working-class even under Labor Governments. In times of lull in the class struggle the agents and spies carry out their work “quietly.” Telephones are tapped, letters opened, meetings reported, names filed, activities listed. Efforts are made to falsify revolutionary theory, to develop factional opposition groupings, to stir up personal intrigues, to organize disruption from within. In times of radical action and stiff class battles the state organs of espionage and provocation swing more openly into action.
Klugmann, James. From Trotsky to Tito. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1951, p. 63
AFTER WWI EAST. & CENTRAL EUROPEAN GOVTS WERE ALL DICTATORSHIPS EXCEPT CZECH.
With the exception of Czechoslovakia, which had genuine [bourgeois] democratic traditions [after World War I], virtually none of the other border states [of the Soviet Union] had. For a time a semblance of “Western democracy” was maintained in Romania, Poland and the three Baltic Republics which had broken away from the old Russian empire. But this did not last long. After a brief communist dictatorship in Hungary, that country became, with the help of Allied troops, a ruthless right-when dictatorship; in Poland, “democracy” lasted till 1926, when it became a dictatorship under Marshal Pilsudski, while in 1935 a new constitution adopted soon before the Marshal’s death, turned Poland into a near-fascist regime, the so-called “colonels’ Poland,” since its real rulers were a bunch of colonels,…
In the three small Baltic states “democracy” did not last very long All three, by the early ‘thirties, had become virtual military dictatorships, the mildest of them in Estonia, which was ethnically, geographically, and traditionally very close to Finland….
In Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, too, dictatorships succeeded ephemeral “democratic” governments very soon after the First World War I. Austrian democracy fell in 1934. The Wilsonian dream had proved a myth in the whole of Central and Eastern Europe–with the sole exception of Czechoslovakia, which lasted till the Munich betrayal,…
So there was, in Churchill’s and then in Truman’s and Secretary of State James Byrnes “passionate” pleading with the Russians for the “restoration” of “pure democracy” and for “free, unfettered elections” in these countries, with the exception of Czechoslovakia, something totally artificial, if not downright absurd…. none of these countries have had anything, in their whole history, even remotely resembling a Western-type form of government. All they were familiar with was some kind of autocracy or dictatorship. This was true of all of them– Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Poland. The only truly remarkable exception was the newly formed state of Czechoslovakia.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 66-67
STALIN WAS ELECTED TO THE SIXTH PARTY CONFERENCE WHICH EXPELLED THE MENSHEVIKS
It was the task of the Sixth Party Conference to crown the completed work by expelling the Mensheviks and formally constituting the new party, a Bolshevik Party….
The Sixth All-Russian Party Conference was held in Prague in January 1912….
The Prague Conference elected a Bolshevik Central Committee of the Party, consisting of Lenin, Stalin, Ordzhonikidze, Sverdlov, Spandaryan, Goloshchekin and others. Comrades Stalin and Sverdlov were elected to the Central Committee in their absence, as they were in exile at the time.
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 141
“It  was the period of the pre-election struggle with the Mensheviks,” writes Krestinsky, then a St. Petersburg attorney and now Soviet ambassador to Germany. “The tendencies toward compromise were very strong among the workers, and it required great discipline and firmness to prevent a fusion with the Mensheviks at the polls. This task was performed by Stalin. It was he who also guided the Bolshevist delegation upon its formation in the Fourth Duma. It was Stalin who stamped that delegation with its Bolshevist individuality, and who with the aid of Pravda created for it a supporting body among the workers of the capital.”
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 93
LENIN SAYS PARTY MUST ENGAGE IN LEGAL PARLIAMENTS AND ILLEGAL WORK
Lenin assailed the “Liquidators” (Mensheviks favoring the liquidation of the illegal work of the party and its transformation into a lawful political organization) and the Otzovists or “Recallers” who were urging the withdrawal of all Social Democrats from the Duma and from all legal organizations. Lenin held that the party must participate in elections and legislative activities and must at the same time carry on underground revolutionary work.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 47
The workers’ deputies were going to the State Duma not for legislative purposes, but to utilize that body as a revolutionary tribune. Such were the main lines of the mandate to the deputies in the Third Duma.
In a leaflet issued in November 1907 in connection with the opening of the Third State Duma, it was pointed out that the workers’ group in the State Duma could function successfully only if the masses of the people were kept informed of what went on in the Duma, and if the Party organizations explained to the masses that all hopes of securing the satisfaction of their demands in a peaceful, bloodless and “parliamentary” way were vain.
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 61
In this Mandate Comrade Stalin laid down the principles upon which the workers’ deputies in the State Duma were to base their activities…. It explained that “the Duma tribune is, under the present conditions, one of the best means for enlightening and organizing the broad masses of the proletariat.” The Mandate went on to say:
“We want to hear the voices of the members of the Social-Democratic group ring out loudly from the Duma Tribune,…proclaiming the peasantry as the most reliable ally of the working-class, and denouncing the bourgeois liberals as the betrayers of the ‘people’s freedom.”
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 73
And in that year (1907), too, he launched with Lenin a violent campaign against the Otzovists, members of the extreme Left who contended that the revolutionary members of the Duma ought to be withdrawn– by the Party. Lenin and Stalin declared this to be a mistake. However rotten this young organization [the Duma] might be to begin with, the good elements in it should remain there as long as possible, in order to be able to make new contacts and to get new outlets for propaganda. (This proves that, in spite of their inflexible policy, the Bolshevik’s knew quite well that they should never go beyond the limits of practical common sense, and that, in any case, they admitted the employment of legal methods.)
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 41
It was elevated to a political principal by Menshevik writers, who demanded that the party should wind up its underground activity, abandon its old habits, and transform itself into an ordinary opposition working for its ends openly, within the limits prescribed by the law–like the European Socialist parties. Those who preached this ‘revaluation of values’ were derogatorily labeled by Lenin ‘the liquidators’, the grave-diggers of the party.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 94
STALIN STAYED AND FOUGHT RATHER THAN FLED LIKE OTHER BOLSHEVIKS
… when one after another of the Bolshevik leaders escaped from exile or prison to an easier life abroad, Stalin “stuck it out and endured” in Russia, passing from one alias to another, one prison to another exile.
Because always, deep down underneath, he thought of them half disdainfully as “emigres,” who had fled before disaster while he and those like him stayed and stuck it out.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 169
But when the Bolshevik cause crashed in the bloody repression which followed the abortive Revolution of 1905-1906, Stalin alone of the prominent Bolsheviks stuck the game out in Russia, while the others fled abroad. He spent years in jail, hiding under a dozen aliases, escaping and being recaptured, yet indomitable.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 234
Stalin became, and has always remained, the Russian Patriot.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 14
Still another source of power is his early career. Almost alone, Stalin had the guts to stay and work inside Russia after the collapse of the revolution of 1905. The other revolutionaries scattered into exile, and lived, like Lenin, in libraries or coffee-houses till 1917. Stalin remained within Russia the whole time. He did the dirty work; he was “the hall sweeper.” Thus he built up an immense acquaintance with submerged revolutionaries,…
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 520
STALIN AND TROTSKY CLASH OVER VOTING FOR THE REVOLUTION
Two members, Kamenev and Zinoviev, voted against the resolution outright, denouncing it as adventurism. And then came the first dispute between Stalin and Trotsky — not a big affair, but a forerunner of much to follow. Trotsky moved an amendment proposing that the uprising should not be started before the second Congress of Soviets met. Stalin was opposed to any delay.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 109
Zinoviev and Kamenev did not take part in the rising. “At that moment,” says Stalin, “they openly declared that in organizing the rising, we were rushing to our own destruction, that we should wait for the Constituent Assembly, that the conditions necessary for Socialism were not yet ripe and would not be so for some time…. Zinoviev and Kamenev joined the rising out of fear: Lenin drove them to it with a stick…. They were obliged to drag themselves into the rising…. Trotsky joined it willingly enough, but with a reservation which already, at that time, brought him nearer to Zinoviev and Kamenev…. He declared that if the Revolution did not break out and was not successful in Western Europe, revolutionary Russia would not be able to hold out against conservative Europe, and that to doubt this Trotskyist opinion was to give proof of national narrow-mindedness.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 52
LENIN DEMANDS ZINOVIEV AND KAMENEV BE EXPELLED
The defection of, Kamenev and Zinoviev, and the publication of their denunciation of the proposed uprising gave full publicity to the preparations already afoot and much which should have been kept secret. Lenin angrily denounced them as “traitors” and ” strike-breakers,” and demanded their expulsion from the party. The central committee denounced them, but refrained from the drastic course of expulsion.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 110
Zinoviev lacked decision and, but for Lenin’s personal influence, would have left the Party altogether in 1917 because he refused to concur in the decision to revolt, on the grounds that the revolutionary movement was not yet strong enough….
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin: Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 66
Lenin was now more and more insisting on the necessity of preparing for insurrection, of passing on to revolution. In his letters, “The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power” and “Marxism and Insurrection,” he severely condemned the capitulators, Kamenev, Zinoviev, and the other opponents of insurrection.
At a meeting of the Central Committee on September 15th, the traitor, Kamenev went so far as to propose that a statement be inserted in the resolution to the effect that the Bolsheviks were opposed to all street actions whatsoever, and further that Lenin’s letters be burnt, only one copy of each being preserved in the files.
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 93
…Infallible people do not exist, Lenin used to say….
In 1917 Lenin called Zinoviev and Kamenev prostitutes for their treachery in the October Revolution. And not only prostitutes but strikebreakers as well. They were impeding us and directly helping the enemy.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 139
Zinoviev and Kamenev committed an act of betrayal yet remained in the party, and they were even admitted into the Politburo.
Certainly. Stalin helped Zinoviev and Kamenev. Why? Because there were very few trained people. They could not be trusted, but it was very difficult to do without them. Politics is a complicated matter. At that time Lenin demanded their expulsion from the party, but Stalin and Sverdlov objected.
Zinoviev and Kamenev remained in the Politburo for several years following their treachery. There were only five members–Lenin, Stalin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Trotsky. Two of the five Lenin had called prostitutes, and before that he had often called Trotsky “Little Judas.” He had also called him an irreconcilable enemy, and so forth. But Trotsky remained in the Politburo and was head of the army during the civil war. So Lenin made use of him.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 139
Both Zinoviev and Bukharin were certainly against Lenin, but they could not be dealt with at once. Everything depends on stages….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 143
…Both [Zinoviev and Kamenev] claimed we did not have a dictatorship of the proletariat but a dictatorship of the party. That’s how the Mensheviks reasoned: you Bolsheviks are well organized, you seized power, and you are cut off from the people…. But Lenin said, “No, we have a dictatorship of a class, a dictatorship of the proletariat headed by communists. We are not cut off from the people, from the working class, we are part of it, the leading, guiding, directing force.”
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 146
“But,” adds Stalin, “apart from these three, Lenin and the Party went forward without reservations.”
Zinoviev and Kamenev carried hostility and lack of discipline to the point of publicly attacking, in a newspaper article, the decision to rise–which, naturally, was a secret. This betrayal allowed Kerensky to take armed offensive measures. Lenin treated Zinoviev and Kamenev as “strikebreakers,” and spoke of excluding them from the Party. As a result, they both left the Central Committee.
During October, the Central Committee appointed Stalin a member of the Assembly of Five (for the political management of the Revolution) and of the Assembly of Seven (for the organization of the Revolution).
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 53
Only Zinoviev and Kamenev now voted against insurrection, and on October 18th published their well-known letter in Gorky’s Novaya Zhizn, saying so.
Lenin’s fury was intense, and he demanded their expulsion from the party as ‘strike-breakers’. Zinoviev wrote to the party paper Rabochii Put, edited by Stalin (which had temporarily replaced the now illegal Pravda), denying Lenin’s charges and saying that the matter could be discussed later. Stalin published this, and even added an editorial comment expressing the hope that the matter might ‘be considered closed’ as, in spite of Lenin’s ‘sharp tone’, the Bolsheviks were ‘fundamentally’ in agreement. When the Central Committee met again on Oct. 20, Stalin opposed the expulsion of Zinoviev and Kamenev. When criticized, he offered his resignation as editor.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 68
A new meeting of the Central Committee on Oct. 16, which was attended by prominent non-members of the Committee, confirmed the previous decision in favor of insurrection. On the morrow Zinoviev and Kamenev carried the struggle against Lenin into the open and warned public opinion against the insurrection in Gorky’s newspaper Novaya Zhizn (New Life), which stood halfway between Bolshevism and Menshevism. Lenin, furious at the indiscretion, branded his two colleagues as ‘strike-breakers’, ‘traitors to the revolution’, and demanded their immediate expulsion from the party. The penalty seemed too harsh to the other members of the Committee. Stalin published Lenin’s denunciation in the Bolshevik newspaper, but softened its effect by a conciliatory editorial comment meant to bridge the gap between the opposed viewpoints.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 164
One cannot expect the millionaire press, or the Daily Herald of today, to present to their readers the real facts about this “Old Guard.” But here they are:
Zinoviev and Kamenev were not the leaders and inspirers of the Russian Revolution which began in Petrograd in 1917. In point of fact, as members of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party at the time, they opposed and voted against the uprising. What is more, they took the step of making public the plans of the Bolsheviks by publishing them in the newspaper Novaya Zhizn (“New Life”) in Petrograd. There and then Lenin denounced these two, demanding their expulsion from the Party, classing them as “strike-breakers” of the Revolution. But Zinoviev and Kamenev recanted and were allowed to remain members.
Shepherd, W. G. The Moscow Trial. London: Communist Party of Great Britain, 1936, p. 11
STALIN IS ONE OF THE MAJOR LEADERS OF REVOLT IN LENINGRAD
Stalin was directing the revolutionary armed contingents to all the decisive points of the city [Petrograd]. He was not in the limelight, but in his hands were the reins which guided forces in accordance with the collective will.
…Kerensky dived into an American motor-car and fled.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 111
Early in August 1917, the Sixth Party Congress met secretly in Petrograd. In the absence of Lenin, Stalin delivered the Central Committee’s report to the 267 delegates, displaying great skill and persuasiveness…
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 95
On the afternoon of 24 October, the day the struggle for the city [ Leningrad] began, Stalin reported on the current situation to a caucus of Bolshevik delegates, who had assembled in preparation for the opening on the next day of the Congress of Soviets. This report, along with the continuing responsibility for the editorial line of the party organ, disposes of the idea that Stalin was inactive during the seizure of power. In the speech he displayed a knowledge of the details concerning both the political and military aspects of the insurrection, which indicates that he was in close touch with the headquarters of the operation in Smolny Institute.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 39
STALIN IS ONE OF TOP REVOLUTIONARY LEADERS
There were three definite trends within the Bolshevik party at the very moment that it became the leading party of the revolution and took the reins of the newly formed Soviet government. The leaders in the central committee were Lenin, Stalin, Sverdlov, and Dzerzhinsky, representing Lenin’s version of Marxism. Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Rykov formed a group with a policy at times indistinguishable from that of the Mensheviks, and Bukharin, Radek, Shliapnikov headed a group of “left communists.” Trotsky vacillated from group to group.
Lenin regarded the Bolshevik party as the general staff of the proletariat waging an age long war.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 113
… so that to ensure a speedy victory, an organized military force would be needed when the actual insurrection began. With special orders to prepare for this eventuality, the Party appointed a Military Revolutionary Center, consisting of Stalin, Sverdlov, Bubnov, Uritsky, and Dzerzhinsky, placing in its hands the entire military direction of the rising. Once more Lenin’s choice fell upon the “wonderful Georgian” when he needed organizing ability and tactical sense.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 40
The enlarged meeting of the Bolshevik Central Committee of October 16th placed Comrade Stalin at the head of the Party Center for the direction of the uprising.
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 94
In October 1924 Stalin, for the first time, started to denigrate, though not yet to dismiss entirely, Trotsky’s role in the October Revolution…. Trotsky, Stalin noted, had not even been a member of the five-man ‘center’ appointed to conduct the seizure of power, though Stalin himself was on it.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 121
He [Stalin] distinguished himself in his practical capacities; and, with the exception of Trotsky who led the Petersburg Soviet from autumn 1905, he had a much more influential role in the events of that turbulent year  than any other member of the first Party Politburo formed after the October Revolution. Dzhughashvili debated frequently with the Georgian Mensheviks. He talked at workers’ meetings. He was one of the most productive writers for Proletarians Bzdzola.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 59
His jobs in the Central Committee and at Pravda involved so much writing with pen or pencil that calluses appeared on the fingers of his right hand. With the work came authority. Lenin and Zinoviev were fugitives. Trotsky, Kamenev, and Kollontai were in prison. The party leadership fell into the hands of Stalin and Sverdlov since they were the only members of the inner core of the Central Committee who were still at liberty. Such a situation would have disconcerted many. But Stalin and Sverdlov overbrimmed with confidence as they sought to repair the damage caused to the party by the July Days–and Stalin relished the chance to show that he had political skills which few in the party had as yet detected in him….
By the start of the clandestine Sixth Party Congress in late July there was no doubt about Stalin’s eminence among Bolsheviks. He was chosen by the Central Committee to give its official report as well as another ‘on the political situation’.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 135
Presumably it was his editorial duties that prevented him [Stalin] from attending the Central Committee on the same day. Trotsky too was absent, but this did not inhibit him from denigrating Stalin as a man who avoided participation in the decisions and activities connected with the seizure of power. The story got around–and has kept its currency–that Stalin was ‘the man who missed the revolution’. Proof was thought to lie in the assignments given by the Central Committee to its own members. Here is a list of assignments:
Dzerzhenski –post and telegraph
Sverdlov –surveillance of Provisional Government
Kamenev and Vinter–negotiations with left SR’s
Lomov and Nogin–information to Moscow
Trotsky thought this demonstrated the marginality of Joseph Stalin to the historic occasion being planned.
Yet if inclusion on the list was crucial, why were Trotsky and Lenin omitted? And if commitment to the insurrection was a criterion, why did the Central Committee involve Kamenev? The point was that Lenin had to remain in hiding and Trotsky was busy in the Military-Revolutionary Committee. Stalin as newspaper editor also had tasks which preoccupied him, and these tasks were not unimportant. As soon as he had time, he returned to the Smolny Institute and rejoined his leading comrades. There he was instantly given a job, being sent with Trotsky to brief the Bolshevik delegates who had arrived in the building for the Second Congress of Soviets.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 144
The fact that Stalin was not asked to direct any armed activity has perpetuated a legend that he counted for nothing in the Central Committee. This is to ignore the broader scope of the meeting. The Military-Revolutionary Committee had already made its dispositions of the garrisons and Red Guards. Stalin’s functions had previously precluded him from involvement in such activity and it would have been folly to insert him at the last moment.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 146
He had done his jobs, important party jobs, with diligence and efficiency. With Sverdlov he had run the Central Committee in July and August. He had edited the central party newspaper through to the seizure of power in October. Since April he had helped to bring about the pragmatic adjustment of party policy to popular demands. He felt at home in the environment of revolutionary Russia; and when he came back to the Alliluev flat he was greeted by admirers. He wrote, edited, discussed, and planned with eagerness.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 147
Far from fitting the bureaucratic stereotype, he was a dynamic leader who had a hand in nearly all the principal discussions on politics, military strategy, economics, security, and international relations. Lenin phoned or telegraphed Politburo members whenever a controversial matter was in the air. There were few corners of high public affairs where Stalin’s influence was unknown; and the Politburo frequently turned to him when a sudden emergency arose.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 174
To Koba was ascribed direct leadership of the Baku “militant activities”.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 124
On the 24th of March, 1910, the gendarme Captain Martynov stated that he had arrested Joseph Djugashvili, known under the alias of “Koba,” a member of the Baku Committee, “a most active Party worker who occupied a leading position.”
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 125
LENIN SENT STALIN WHEN HE WANTED A GOOD NEGOTIATOR
Kamenev had been sent to confer, but without avail, and Stalin was dispatched–with complete success. It was Stalin whom Lenin sent to Finland to aid the Finnish revolution; it was Stalin who was sent as plenipotentiary of the Soviet government to negotiate with the Ukrainian Rada and bring about its collapse in favor of the Ukrainian Soviet government.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 117
All his foreign visitors were impressed by his mastery of the factual material related to the case at hand. Above all, he knew what goals he considered essential in any negotiation and struggle with unyielding determination to obtain them.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 216
VAST EXPROPRIATIONS BEGIN IN 1918
Beyond the nationalization of the banks and the land no more than 500 individual enterprises had been nationalized by July 1918. But an unprecedented storm was gathering that was to force the Soviet government into what has been designated “War communism,” when nationalization, requisitioning, and rationing were to become drastic political weapons for the maintenance of Soviet power.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 122
DESCRIPTION OF BAD CONDITIONS AFTER THE REVOLUTION
Shortly after the great days after the beginning of November 1917, General Alexiev, the Chief of Staff of Kerensky’s army, made his way to the Don region and began the organization of the “Volunteer People’s Army” to fight the Soviet Government. Then, in December, the Mensheviks of Tiflis captured the local arsenal. Alexiev was joined by Generals Kornilov and Denikin. The Ukrainian National Government supported the Don Cossacks against the Ukrainian Soviet Government, with its headquarters in Kharkov. The Russian Soviet Government moved from Petrograd to Moscow as the German forces threatened to march on Petrograd. During February and March, 1918, British troops were landed at Murmansk. General Mannerheim invited the Germans to send him military assistance to crush the Finnish Revolution. Thirty thousand troops under General Von der Goltz arrived, and during March the Finnish Revolution was crushed. In the first week of July the “Left” Social Revolutionaries and the anarchists staged an armed revolt in Moscow, denouncing the Bolsheviks as “betrayers of the Revolution.” A corps of Czecho-Slovaks (Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war) seized Chelyabinsk on the trans-Siberian railway. The Social Revolutionaries murdered V. Volardarsky, the People’s Commissar of the Press. The Germans were in control of the Ukraine. The Turks were invading the Caucasus. The food situation was becoming increasingly serious as the forces of counter-revolution closed in from every side. They were threatening Tzaritsyn (now Stalingrad) and the whole system of food-supply from the south when Stalin was charged with the task of securing the Republic’s larder.
Murphy, John. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 123
It was not the introduction of Socialism by Lenin which produced this ghastly poverty and want; it was the war lost by the Czar, it was the ensuing civil war, which so disorganized the country that in the year 1922 only 51 million dessiatine were sown with crops as against 100,000.000 in 1913. The harvest amounted to 2.8 billion pud as against 6 billion in 1913. The production in industry in 1920 was 15 percent of that in 1913. The World War cost Czarist Russia $40 billion; the cost of the civil war was another 50 billion. Lenin had to construct his new state in the midst of a catastrophic collapse, and to sign a peace after a war conducted by the Czar,….
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 70
Not through the Communists, but through the violent inroads of western powers, who had no business in Russia, the country had become involved in ever greater wars and disasters…. It was not a handful of doctrinaires and dreamers who ruined the country, but the heads of international banks and industrial establishments who, by means of the governments they controlled, sent their armies to the country of dangerous experiments in order to save their oil and their investments and at the same time suppress any imitations at home.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 147
The Soviet Union of the early 1920s was a land of deprivation. Hunger was everywhere, and actual mass famines swept across much of the countryside. Industrial production was extremely low, and the technological level of industry was so backward that there seemed little possibility of mechanizing agriculture. Serious rebellions in the armed forces were breaking out, most notably at the Kronstadt garrison in 1921. By 1924 large-scale peasant revolts were erupting, particularly in Georgia. There was virtually no electricity outside the large cities. Agriculture was based on tiny peasant holdings and medium-sized farms seized by rural capitalists (the kulaks) who forced the peasants back into wage labor and tenant farming. Health care was almost non-existence in much of the country. The technical knowledge and skills needed to develop modern industry, agriculture, health, and education were concentrated in the hands of a few, mostly opposed to socialism, while the vast majority of the population were illiterate and could hardly think about education while barely managing to subsist. The Soviet Union was isolated in a world controlled by powerful capitalist countries, physically surrounding it, setting up economic blockades, and officially refusing to recognize its existence while outdoing each other in their pledges to wipe out this Red menace.
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 7
BOLSHEVIKS TOOK OVER WITH VERY LITTLE VIOLENCE
…In any case, contrary to the impression which soon became current in the West, the Soviet Government between November and June, 1917-18, established itself and pursued its program with the less violence and with far fewer victims than any other social revolutionary regime in human annals.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 129
OTHER PARTIES WERE ALLOWED TO OPERATE WHEN BOLSHEVIKS BEGAN
During this period the practical meaning of the time-honored Marxist slogan of a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” as defined and implemented by the Bolsheviks, was not that the Party alone should rule. All parties were welcome to participate, provided that they accepted the goal of socialism, represented workers and peasants, and acknowledged the Soviet as the basis of the new State.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 129
For the first seven months after the Bolshevik revolution there were still opposition parties in the Soviets, though they were minorities. The first Soviet Government was a coalition government, a coalition between the Bolshevik party and the Left wing of the peasant Social Revolutionary Party, which at that time adhered to the Soviet regime with its dictatorship of the workers and peasants.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 275
I wanted to hear the so-called “Bloody Czar” himself talk about the terror, and include a part of our conversation, such as it was then published in Russia with Stalin’s permission.
“You have led the life of a conspirator for such a long time,” I said to Stalin; “and do you now think that, under your present rule, illegal agitation is no longer possible?”
“It is possible, at least to some extent.”
“Is the fear of this possibility the reason why you are still governing with so much severity, so many years after the revolution?”
“No, I will illustrate the chief reason for this by giving a few historical examples. When the Bolsheviks came to power they were soft and easy with their enemies. At that time, for example, the Mensheviks (Moderate Socialists) had their lawful newspapers and also the Social Revolutionaries. Even the military cadets had their newspapers. When the white-haired Gen. Krasnov marched upon Leningrad and was arrested by us, under the military law he should have been shot or at least imprisoned, but we set him free on his word of honor. Afterward it became clear that with this policy we were undermining the very system we were endeavoring to construct. We had begun by making a mistake. Leniency toward such a power was a crime against the working classes. Then we realized that the only way to get ahead was by the policy of absolute severity and intransigence.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 172
In the spring of 1918 the Bolsheviks were not the only legal party. The Left Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, Menshevik internationalists, Anarchists, Maximalists, and several other small political parties also existed legally and published their newspapers. After the Brest-Litovsk treaty they were all in opposition to the Bolsheviks. Naturally, the Bolsheviks kept a very close eye on this opposition press.
… The Social Revolutionaries, who at this time [early 1918] were the political allies of the Mensheviks,…
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 52
Of course the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries had a long record of crimes against the Soviet government. Suffice it to recall Fannie Kaplan’s attempt to kill Lenin in 1918, the assassinations of Uritsky and Volodarsky, and the crimes of Socialist-Revolutionary authorities in the Volga Region during the summer of 1918 and in Arkhangelsk. Nonetheless, in 1919 the Soviet government had declared an amnesty and legalized the Right Socialist Revolutionary Party, which began to publish its newspaper, Delo Naroda, in Moscow.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 645
In December 1919, the Social-Democrats Internationalists voted to join the Communist Party.
As a reward for this about-face, the Bolshevik leadership reversed its decision of the previous June to expel the Mensheviks from the Soviets. In January 1919 the party received permission to bring out its organ, the newspaper Vsegda vpered. The paper published such scathing criticism of the government, especially of the Red Terror, however, that it was closed after several issues. It never reappeared.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 43
The main body of the SR Party felt it had no choice but to adopt the policy of accommodation as well….
SR’s were instructed to work for the overthrow of the governments of Denikin and Kolchak but to refrain from actively resisting the Communist regime. The policy was justified as a “tactical” concession that did not imply even a conditional recognition of Bolshevik authority. This stipulation did not alter the fact that at the decisive phase of the Civil War, the Socialist-Revolutionaries placed themselves squarely on the side of the Bolsheviks. As a reward, in February 1919 they were also allowed to rejoin the soviets. On March 20, the SR Party was legalized and given permission to bring out its daily, Delo naroda. The paper, the first copy of which appeared on the same day, was suspended after six issues.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 44
On November 7, 1917, Lenin decreed advertising a state monopoly which deprived the press of its principal source of income. The authorities also nationalized many printing establishments, turning them over to Bolshevik organizations. Even so, an independent press managed to carry on. Between October 1917 and June 1918, some 300 non-Bolshevik newspapers continued to appear in the provincial towns, that is, outside Moscow and Petrograd. In Moscow alone, there were 150 independent dailies.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 293
A more specific consequence of Brest Litovsk was the breakup of the coalition between the Bolsheviks and left Social Revolutionaries. The latter resigned from the Government in March. Their motives were in part identical with those of the left Communists; in part they were dictated by ordinary nationalism. From now on power would be exercised by a single party. Government by a single party had hitherto not been a plank in the Bolshevik program. But the course of events was such that the Bolsheviks could not help becoming the country’s sole rulers after their partners had refused to share responsibility for the peace. Alone in office, they still refrained from suppressing their opponents, except for the extreme right the initiators of the civil war. Only in June 1918, when the civil war was already in full swing, were the Mensheviks and the right-wing Social Revolutionaries temporarily outlawed, on the ground that some of their members sided with the White Guards. The Mensheviks were again permitted to come into the open in November of the same year when they pledged themselves to act as a loyal opposition within the framework of the Soviet regime.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 190
…At first the Bolsheviks tried to display tolerance towards their opponents. At the congresses of Soviets and trade unions, Menshevik, Social Revolutionary, Syndicalist, and Anarchist spokesman freely and severely criticized the Government. A restricted but still wide freedom of expression existed. The ruling party itself was continually alive with open controversy, in which ideas were vigorously thrashed out and no authority was spared. Its members were free to form themselves into separate groups and factions in order to promote their views inside the party. There was no clear-cut or stable line of division between the groups and factions that fluctuated with events and with the issues as they arose. The libertarian spirit of the revolution survived the climax of the civil war until well into the year 1920. It was in the latest phases of the struggle, when victory was virtually assured, that it began to vanish, that the parties of the opposition were denied legal existence, and that even the ruling party found its freedom hemmed in by restrictions and coercion.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 217-218
The Sovnarkom met three times, on 7, 8, and 9 December 1917, under Lenin’s chairmanship, to discuss broadening the political base of the new regime by including some Left Socialist-Revolutionaries (Left SR’s), and finally agreed to include seven of them, five as People’s Commissars and two as ministers without portfolio.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 13
During the first four years of Soviet power, non-Bolshevik working-class parties continued to operate legally in the Soviet Union. The Left Social Revolutionaries were co-partners with the Bolsheviks on the ruling Council of People’s Commissars (occupying 7 of the 18 seats) until July 1918. When, in July 1918, the Left Social Revolutionaries declared themselves in opposition to the Bolshevik leadership of the Civil War, and actually organized an armed insurrection, they were temporarily banned from participation in the Soviets. Although they had not supported the seizure of power, the Right Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks were active in the Soviets until they were banned from participation, also in June 1918, they were temporarily excluded owing to their failure to support the Reds in the Civil War. But even after their expulsion the three parties continued to operate as legal and active political organizations. The decrees banning Menshevik and Social Revolutionary participation in the Soviets were rescinded in the winter of 1918-19 after these organizations declared themselves opposed to foreign intervention and to collaboration with the bourgeoisie (i.e., had declared their support of the Reds in the Civil War). The Right Social Revolutionaries were allowed to resume publication of their newspaper in 1919, and both groups legally held congresses during 1919. In 1920 the Mensheviks were still electing substantial numbers of representatives to the Soviets in a number of cities, including Moscow.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 209
For the next three years, the Menshevik leadership represented the democratic opposition, within the legal means permitted. Lenin, meanwhile, missed no opportunity to launch insulting attacks on his former comrades. Nevertheless, until 1920 the Menshevik’s led a more or less legal existence, even if the term “Social Democrat” became a dirty word. Then the Politburo launched open persecution, beginning with “semi-harsh” measures. On June 22, 1922, it was decided that the political activity of “these accomplices of the bourgeoisie” must be “curtailed,” and that this should be achieved for the time being by exile:…
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 86
On 30 November 1917,.. he [Lenin] was assisted in these “initiatives” [governmental changes] by the Left SR’s, to whom, after debate in the Central Committee, he decided to give several portfolios. The matter was reviewed by the Sovnarkom on 9 December, and a decision was taken to make it a condition that the Left SR’s “must follow the general policy of the Sovnarkom.” That is, the Bolshevik Central Committee. After a night of negotiation between Sverdlov and the Left SR representatives, it was announced at the Sovnarkom that “full agreement” had been reached. Agriculture was given to Kollegaev, Justice to Shteinberg, Posts and Telegraph to Proshyan, Local Self-Government to Trutovsky, State Property to Karelin, and Algasov was made People’s Commissar without portfolio but with voting powers….
Although the Left SR’s were hardly less radical than the Bolsheviks themselves (they tended to stress peasant interests), this interval in Soviet history represented a rare moment of socialist pluralism…
But, for a time, the collaboration was a fact. Of the 20 members of the Cheka Collegium, seven were Left SR’s, including Dzerzhinsky’s deputies Alexandrovich and Zaks. In April 1918 the Left SR’s helped the Bolsheviks to crush the Anarchists…and also helped to spread Bolshevik influence in the countryside by supporting the…decree of 13 May 1918 which legitimized the confiscation of grain from the peasants.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 171-172
The Soviet Government had a coalition with the Left Socialist-Revolutionists during the first year of its existence. This is not generally realized. It was not until 1919 that the non-Bolshevist commissars were forced out from Lenin’s cabinet.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 203
The Bolsheviks began the heroic period of revolution by erring on the side of tolerance and forbearance in the treatment of all the non-Bolshevik political parties. The bourgeois, Social Revolutionary and Menshevik newspapers turned from the first days of October into a harmonizing chorus of howling wolves, prowling jackals and baying mad dogs. Only Novoye Vremya [The New Times], the shameless organ of the darkest Tsarist reaction, attempted super-subtle maneuvering by trying to maintain a “loyal” tone, wagging its tail. Lenin saw through them all and saw the danger of tolerating the whole pack of them. “Are we going to let this rabble get away with it?” Ilyich demanded on every occasion. “Good Lord! What kind of dictatorship have we!” The newspapers of these hyenas pounced upon the phrase “plunder the plunderers” and made the most of it in editorials, in verse, in special articles. “What aren’t they doing to that ‘plunder the plunderers,'” Lenin exclaimed once in jocular despair. “Who really said it?” I asked, “or is it pure fabrication?”– “Not at all!” Lenin retorted. “I did actually use those words. Said them and forgot about them. And here they’ve made a whole program of them!” He waved his hand humorously.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 338
EXPROPRIATIONS PROCEEDED SLOWLY AT FIRST AFTER THE REVOLUTION
But there was no sweeping nationalization of business property. By mid-May of 1918 only 304 plants had been nationalized, mainly in mining and heavy industry. Even foreign trade remained in private hands until April 2, 1918, when it was made a state monopoly. Lenin moved slowly toward socialism….
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 130
SU BECAME ONE-PARTY DICTATORSHIP IN SUM. 1918 BECAUSE OF ATTACKS
During this summer of 1918 the Soviet government became a one party dictatorship, ruthlessly suppressing all opposition by terror. Its transformation was occasioned by armed attacks launched against it from all points of the compass by its domestic and foreign foes, employing all possible weapons from conspiracy and blockade to invasion and assassination.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 142
In reply to a question on the monopoly of legality by the Communist Party, Stalin said, “… The monopoly of our party grew out of life, it developed historically as a result of the fact that the Socialist Revolutionary Party and the Menshevik Party became absolutely bankrupt and departed from the stage of our social life.
“What were the Socialist Revolutionary Party and the Menshevik Party in the past? They were channels for conducting bourgeois influence into the ranks of the proletariat. By what were these parties cultivated and sustained prior to October 1917? By the existence of the bourgeois class and ultimately by the existence of bourgeois rule. Clearly, when the bourgeoisie were overthrown the basis for the existence of these parties disappeared. What did these parties become after October 1917? They became parties for the restoration of capitalism and for the overthrow of the rule of the proletariat. Clearly these parties have lost all support and all influence among the workers and the toiling strata of the peasantry.”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 37
MIRBACH MURDER LED TO SUPPRESSION OF OTHER PARTIES
…The murder of Mirbach and the abortive revolt of the Left Social Revolutionaries on the next day, followed by the desertion of the Social Revolutionary General Muraviev to the enemy at Simbirsk, led to the suppression of the [SR] party. By the time the first Soviet Constitution was promulgated (July 19) all the SR’s, Mensheviks, and Cadets were at war with the Communists and prepared to cooperate with the Allies and White reactionaries for the overthrow of the Soviet.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 157
STALIN WAS A MEMBER OF THE FIRST POLITBURO
After the ending of the Civil War a party Congress assembled…. Stalin was also one of the eight members of the actual government of the Soviet state… The Politburo.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 87
Stalin’s growing importance in the Party was shown when at its April 1917 Conference he was elected to the Central Committee by the highest number of votes after Lenin and Zinoviev.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 29
Among members outside the party, Stalin’s reputation was growing. He was the practical leader with a capacity for work and for taking responsibility. He was not a great orator, but he always spoke with good sense. He was a man, too, who could cut his way through bureaucratic obstacles and make decisions. The high regard in which he was held was demonstrated at the Eighth Party Congress in Moscow from March 18-23, 1919. He was high on everyone’s list for election to the Central Committee. Two new subcommittees of the Central Committee were set up by the congress: the Politburo of five members to guide the party in political matters, and the Orgburo to advise in matters of personnel and administration. He was appointed to both subcommittees.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 129
He was a member of the Politburo from the moment of its creation, on October 10, 1917;… Also he held two cabinet portfolios when the government was organized: commissar for workers and peasants inspection, and commissar for nationalities.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 523
After the conference a narrow inner leadership called the Bureau of the Central Committee was elected. It would later be known as the Politburo and would become the official ruling body of one sixth of the earth’s land surface for many decades. The first Bureau had four members: Lenin, his faithful assistant Zinoviev Kamenev, and Koba Stalin. In May 1917 Koba was already a member of the Party’s four-man leadership.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 66
Koba voted with the majority for the uprising, but did not speak. A Political Bureau was set up for the political direction of the uprising and Lenin saw to it that Koba was included.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 113
UNLIKE MENSHEVIKS AND SR’S LENIN SEEKS BOTH PEASANT AND WORKER SUPPORT
While the Mensheviks seek the support only of the relatively few industrial workers, Leninism in its tactical procedure takes account of the vast mass of the peasants…. Herein it rectifies the policy of the social revolutionaries. That party seeks the support only of the peasantry,…
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 115
To Trotsky it seemed that the only way out of our plight was the establishment of a bourgeois republic, because we were not supported by the working class of the West, and our alliance with the peasantry wasn’t working. That was his chief shortcoming. Listen, unity of the proletariat alone is insufficient according to any theory of Marxism. But Lenin–and herein lies his strength–was able to find an approach to the peasantry. He criticized the petty bourgeois essence of the peasantry but also discerned its toiling side. If a correct approach to the peasantry were applied, they would support us. This is Lenin’s innovation in Marxist theory, and in practice he proved to be right.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 142
On the contrary, it [the working-class] must put itself at the very head of the movement, striving to win a commanding influence over all sections of the Russian people, particularly of the peasantry who constituted the overwhelming majority of the population….
Contrary to the Mensheviks, the Bolsheviks saw that the closest ally of the working-class was the peasantry and not the capitalist class. They did not envisage a democratic revolution and then a long period of capitalist development.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 21
Its founder and undisputed leader, Lenin, determined on the very day he learned of the outbreak of the February Revolution that the Bolsheviks would topple the Provisional Government by armed force. The strategy consisted of promising every disaffected group what it wanted: to the peasants, the land; to the soldiers, peace; to the workers, the factories; to the ethnic minorities, independence. None of these slogans were part of the Bolshevik program and all would be thrown overboard once the Bolsheviks were in power,…
Pipes, Richard. Russia under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 4
The stumbling block of the revolution, up to Stalin’s dictatorship, has been the problem of the peasantry. In a sense, Lenin overlooked the peasantry. He did not include the peasantry in the proletariat. If he had done so, a dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia must have meant a dictatorship by the peasantry since they outnumber the rest of the workers by 10 to 1. In Lenin’s view the peasantry must be made to support the proletariat but not control it.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 106
BOLSHEVIKS BELIEVE THE STATE MUST BE DESTROYED, NOT TAKEN OVER
The proletariat–and here comes the fundamental difference from the other Marxist tendencies–must not build further on the foundation of the old state, but, when the old state has been completely reduced to rubble, a new instrument a power must be constructed on its ruins for rule over the other classes.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 116
LENIN LIVED ON PARTY MONEY WHILE TROTSKY SOLD ARTICLES
Lenin lived on the money the party gave him. He received nothing for his articles in the illegal or semi legal press. But Trotsky became famous as a journalist at an early age.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 121
TROTSKY BETTER KNOWN THAN LENIN
At that time [before WWI], therefore, Trotsky was much more widely known than Lenin.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 122
RUSSIAN REVOLUTION LED TO CAPITALISTS LIGHTENING UP EVERYWHERE
The Russian Revolution led after the First World War to an accelerated development of social legislation in most countries and to an easing of the pressure on colonial peoples. That reduced the likelihood of revolution.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 281
LENN AND THE GERMANS USED EACH OTHER
[As in Trotsky’s opposition to Stalin] Lenin, too, during the First World War, declared that he hoped for Russia’s defeat; for only that could liberate Russia from the Tsarist regime and bring a revolution, and that mattered more to Russia than any victory. A victory, indeed, would place Tsardom in security for decades to come. At that time there were negotiations of some sort between Lenin and the Germans. The negotiations were not carried on directly, but through neutral intermediaries, and were concerned simply with the return of Lenin and his circle from Switzerland to Russia. That, after all, was all that was needed. The German army command was well aware that Lenin had written against the war; it knew also that he wanted to carry the revolution further, and that if he came into power he would at once conclude peace. That was enough. Nobody in Berlin worried at the time about what would happen next. The first thing was to win the war, and to that end it was necessary first of all to demolish the eastern front. Once victory had been achieved all over the world, there would certainly be time enough to deal with the Russian revolutionaries!
For Lenin, too, the one thing was to get back to Russia; then he must seize power and, in order to establish his hold of power, conclude peace. Once that first task had been achieved, there would be time to consider what to do next. Lenin had most carefully avoided compromising himself in any way; nothing could be proved against him. There was nothing wrong about wanting to return to Russia and, without being required to give any express undertaking in return, being allowed through by the Germans.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 292-93
Lenin was not, of course, a German agent. But he had certainly received German funds (the whole matter was publicly aired in the Soviet press in the 1920s). At this point the Germans and Lenin had a common interest– the defeat of Russia. From the German point of view it was the same calculation which had allowed the ‘sealed train’ with Lenin and his colleagues to pass through Germany on the way to Petrograd in April.
But if Lenin was not in fact a German agent, the story of the German funds certainly made him appear one.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 67
BASIC PRINCIPLE OF LENINISM IS THAT POWER CAN’T BE GAINED PEACEFULLY
The philosophy underlying the Communist dictatorship is Leninism, or the revolutionary interpretation of Marxian socialism worked out by Lenin. The main points in this philosophy, summarized very briefly, are as follows.
Socialism, or communism (Lenin, like Marx, uses these two terms interchangeably), can never come by a process of peaceful evolution, even in countries where such democratic liberties as universal suffrage and freedom of the press and assemblage prevail. Under the capitalist system the small wealthy minority enjoys such advantages in the manipulation of public opinion through the control of newspapers and large publishing houses and the manifold other advantages which are associated with wealth that it is utopian to hope to win away even the majority of the working-class, to say nothing of the majority of the population, from this capitalist influence by argument and propaganda alone. Moreover, the bourgeoisie, in a moment of revolutionary crisis, would not abide by the rules of its own parliamentary game; should it find its economic privileges seriously threatened it would resort to military or Fascist dictatorship.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 59
LENIN ACCUSED OF BEING A GERMAN SPY
Undeterred by the accusations that he was a German spy, ridiculous to anyone who knew Lenin’s lifelong record of bitter hostility to capitalism in all countries….
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 85
STALIN SAVED LENIN IN SUMMER OF 1917
After the events of July 1917, when Lenin, hounded and persecuted by the counter-revolutionary provisional government, was forced to go into hiding, Stalin directly guided the work of the Central Committee and the Central Party Organ, which at that time appeared under a succession of different names. It was Stalin who saved the precious life of Lenin for the Party, the Soviet people and for humanity at large, by vigorously resisting the proposal of the traitors, Kamenev, Rykov, and Trotsky that Lenin should appear for trial before the courts of the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government.
Alexandrov, G. F. Joseph Stalin; a Short Biography. Moscow: FLPH, 1947, p. 53
Lenin and Zinoviev were hesitant: they feared that to avoid trial would confirm, in the eyes of uninformed opinion, the charges leveled against them. This was at first also the view of Lunacharsky and Kamenev. Stalin, on the contrary, advised them to go into hiding. It would be folly, he said, to trust the justice of the Provisional Government. An anti-Bolshevik hysteria was being so unscrupulously whipped up that any young officer or ensign escorting the ‘German spies’ into prison, or from prison to court, would think it an act of patriotic heroism to assassinate them on the way. Lenin still hesitated to follow Stalin’s advice. Stalin then approached the Executive of the Soviets and told them that Lenin was prepared to face trial if the Executive guaranteed his life and personal safety from lawless violence. As the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries refused to shoulder any such responsibility, Lenin and Zinoviev finally made up their minds to go into hiding.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 151
The Congress discussed whether Lenin should appear for trial. Kamenev, Rykov, Trotsky and others had held even before the Congress that Lenin ought to appear before the counter-revolutionary court. Comrade Stalin was vigorously opposed to Lenin’s appearing for trial.
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 198
In her reminiscences Krupskaya states: “On the seventh I visited Ilyich at his quarters in the apartment of the Alliluyevs together with Maria [Lenin’s sister]. This was just at the moment when Ilyich was wavering. He marshaled arguments in favor of the necessity to appear in court. Maria argued against him hotly. ‘Zinoviev and I have decided to appear. Go and tell Kamenev about it,’ Ilyich told me. I made haste. ‘Let’s say goodbye,’ Ilyich said to me, ‘we may never see each other again.’ We embraced. I went to Kamenev and gave him the Ilyich’s message. In the evening Stalin and others persuaded Ilyich not to appear in court and thereby saved his life.”
…More categorical than any other against surrender was Stalin:…
To what extent the opponents of Lenin’s surrender to the authorities were right was proved subsequently by the story of the officer commanding the troops, general Polovtsev. “The officer going to Terioki [ Finland] in hopes of catching Lenin asked me if I wanted to receive that gentleman whole or in pieces…. I replied with a smile that people under arrest very often try to escape.” For the organizers of judicial forgery it was not a question of “justice” but of seizing and killing Lenin, as was done two years later in Germany with Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg. Stalin was more convinced than the others of the inevitability of a bloody reprisal; such a solution was quite in accord with his own cast of thought. Moreover, he was far from inclined to worry about what “public opinion” might say. Others, including Lenin and Zinoviev, wavered. Nogin and Lunarcharsky became opponents of surrender in the course of the day, after having been in favor of it. Stalin held out more tenaciously than others and was proved right.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 211-212
MOLOTOV SAYS LENIN WANTED TO GO PAST A BOURGEOIS GOVT TO SOCIALISM
While we opposed Kerensky’s bourgeois government as counter-revolutionary, we had not yet arrived at the conclusion drawn by Lenin: a Soviet government, Soviet power based on the Soviets. Nothing of the kind. I defended the democratic revolution and did not dream of a socialist revolution.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 91
MOLOTOV SAYS STALIN ERRED BY SUPPORTING THE BOURGEOIS GOVT
It was after I had been removed from the editorial staff [of Pravda] that the notorious editorial “A Bullet for a Bullet!” written by Kamenev appeared in Pravda. Answer the Germans bullet for bullet, he wrote. This was the defensist line. Yet Stalin was on the editorial board at the time. Herein lies the source of the error. As long as I was on the board, such things did not happen. This was Stalin’s mistake.
And here is another one of his mistakes from this period–an article later printed in his collected works. I am still surprised that he concluded it there. Take 1917. There is an article on the question of the war. It follows the line of reasoning that held it necessary to struggle for peace and take advantage of whatever the Provisional Government was doing for peace. This, of course, was not at all the essence of Lenin’s line. But this article was published. It is precisely analogous with Kamenev’s editorial “A Bullet for a Bullet!” Because it too held that the Provisional Government must be supported “to the extent and so long as” it seeks peace. Perhaps I am exaggerating, but just read it. Why did Stalin include it in his collected works? After all, Stalin mastered the exceptional language of the propagandist–classical language, precise, terse, and clear. Yet he got this notion into his head. But he made a mistake.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 92
MOLOTOV SAYS TROTSKY WAS AN ORGANIZER NOT AN AGITATOR
Did Trotsky play a large role?
Big, but only as an agitator. He took only a small part in matters of organization….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 95
Trotsky himself learned a lot and transformed himself from propagandist to organizer. But he was still unable to reach great heights in this arena. Without taking the transport scandal into account, he created nothing effective when it came to fighting for power. In the field of organization, mediocrities like Molotov beat him all along the line.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 116
LENIN PROPOSED CALLING IT THE COUNCIL OF COMMISSARS NOT MINISTERS
“What shall we call the government?” Lenin asked us. It was decided that “Council of Ministers” smacked bourgeois. Someone proposed “Council of People’s Commissars.” In France the term “commissar” was widely used. Commissars of police, municipal, and so forth. At the time France was closer to us in spirit than Germany,…
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 95
TROTSKY’S ROLE JUST AFTER THE REVOLUTION STARTED WAS COMMENDABLE
This was the only time Trotsky acquitted himself quite well. He was an excellent speaker, and oratorical skill is important in holding an audience. And he had that skill. He was a spellbinder, and that is why later on the fight against him was difficult.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 97
LENIN RELEGATED BUKHARIN TO OBSCURE ROLE IN FIRST POLITBURO
I was chosen as the first alternate to the Politburo so that I could replace the first absent member of the body. Kalinin was second, and Bukharin was third. Since there were five members, Bukharin never actually had the opportunity to replace anyone. Lenin had decided this.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 99
CRITICS DON’T UNDERSTAND THE ACCURACY OF LENIN
When you read our contemporary economists and philosophers…it is evident they are spinning incredible tales as regards foreign policy. The main error, of course, is that they do not understand the kernel, so to speak, of the Leninist approach. Lenin consistently and pointedly undermines capitalism and bourgeois ideology from the most diverse angles. Take Lenin–his every work, every line is a bomb thrown at imperialism. That’s the main thing in Lenin.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 101
LENIN DEMANDS A STATE MONOPOLY OF FOREIGN TRADE
I recall a deputy chairman of the People’s Commissariat of Georgia, Mdivani, an opportunist. He allowed the import of foreign goods to Batumi. I was present at the Politburo when Lenin asked him, “What is your reason?” Mdivani answered, “My reason is cheap goods.” Some Marxist–“for cheap goods”!
Lenin was opposed to any weakening of the monopoly on foreign trade.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 110
But Lenin saw this as a major error, an inadmissible infringement of the country’s interests. In his opinion, it was not only unwise but probably harmful to allow foreign exporters to enter into direct contact with private businessmen inside the country, the nepmany, for then “the foreigners will buy up and take home with them everything of any value.”
Lewin, Moshe. Lenin’s Last Struggle. New York: Pantheon Books. C1968, p. 35
Lenin added proof upon proof in an attempt to persuade the Central Committee of the correctness of his views. Only the strict maintenance of the [trade] monopoly would remedy the economic weakness of the country. One had to consider the ability of foreigners to offer special prices, not to mention conditions in the international market that were in themselves very advantageous for the Russian agricultural producer. The slightest breach in the defenses would end by destroying the already weak national industries, and help to forge an alliance between the forces of international capitalism and the Russian businessmen on the one hand and the mass of the Russian peasantry on the other against the power of the Soviets.
Lewin, Moshe. Lenin’s Last Struggle. New York: Pantheon Books. C1968, p. 36
BUKHARIN SOUGHT UNITY WITH THE SR’S
Bukharin was looking for a union with the Socialist-Revolutionaries. He was drawn in this direction. He maintained personal contacts with them after the revolution.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 117
BUKHARIN WAS DANGEROUS AND LENIN SPOKE OUT AGAINST HIM
CHUEV: Does he [Bukharin] deserve respect?
MOLOTOV: As a person, yes. But he was dangerous in politics. He ran to extremes in life. I can’t say that it has been fully proven, at least to my satisfaction, but he joined in a conspiracy with the Socialist-Revolutionaries to assassinate Lenin. He supported arresting Lenin….
Bukharin spoke against Lenin more than once. He called him a utopian. What’s more, he called him a traitor!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 118
TROTSKY WAS A BETTER SPEAKER THAN BUKHARIN, LENIN AND STALIN
Trotsky spoke eloquently with fine diction…. He was a better speaker than Bukharin. First-class, of course…. He could influence politically naive people. Bukharin was an effective speaker. Lenin was a bit weaker. As a speaker Stalin was unique. He spoke in a low voice, but people always listened to him, even before the Revolution.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 121
CHUEV: Stalin spoke good Russian, didn’t he?
MOLOTOV: Yes. He gave very good speeches. He read a great deal and had an artistic sense….
He wrote everything himself. The staff never wrote for him…. Back then we all did our own writing.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 168
That, then, is how Stalin speaks to his people. It can be seen that his speeches are circumstantial and somewhat elementary; but you must speak very loudly and clearly in Moscow if you want to be understood as far as Vladivostock. So Stalin speaks loudly and clearly, and everyone understands his words and enjoys them, and his speeches establish a feeling of kinship between the people who hear them and the man who makes them.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 74
His speeches are lengthy but not verbose. The wording is succinct and direct. They make better reading than the speeches of Lenin and Trotsky because they are informed more by purpose than by theory.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 121
LENIN HAD DOUBTS THE REVOLUTION WOULD OCCUR
I recently read some memoirs about Lenin. Krupskaya writes that, before the Revolution, Lenin used to ask her, “Will we live to see it?” He too had doubts….
In 1917 Lenin did not yet know how things would turn out. It is impossible for a person even of his stature to judge historic events in precise detail. It is impossible.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 125
ONLY LIARS CLAIM LENIN TOOK GERMAN MONEY
Rutich writes that Lenin was getting German money for the Bolsheviks, that he came back to Russia in April 1917….
That’s pure provocation. Everything about Lenin was spotless. He thundered against German imperialism openly, unceasingly, mercilessly.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 132
STALIN COMPLIMENTED TROTSKY FOR HIS CIVIL WAR RECORD
John Reed rather glorified Trotsky in his book Ten Days That Shook the World. But Trotsky must be given his due, for he was good in those days. He behaved badly in Brest, of course. And in the civil war he displayed good and bad qualities. Without a doubt he fought for Soviet power. How else could he have become head of the Red Army?…
Trotsky had planted his people everywhere, especially in the Army.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 136
[Stalin states]: As to Trotsky, he had “played no special role” in the October revolution. True, he “did fight well,” but only as an agent of the Central Committee; and, incidentally, even the left Social Revolutionaries, who later on turned against the revolution, had fought well then. The actual leadership of the rising belonged to a “party center,” of which Trotsky was not even a member.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 281
SVERDLOV LEFT NOTHING BUT WAS PRAISED BY LENIN
IVANOVICH, SHOTA: “Did Lenin praise Sverdlov on the day of his funeral?”
Yes, far too much. He was an organizer, a party man, but he left nothing to distinguish himself. Nothing. I don’t remember a single article by him.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 141
DZERZHINSKY DENOUNCED ZINOVIEV AND KAMENEV AS KRONSTADTERS
…Dzerzhinsky had certainly become a member of our group, and said, “Zinoviev and Kamenev, where are you leading us? You are just Kronstadtsy!” He was outraged. Dzerzhinsky had a sincere, expansive nature, but he was hot-blooded. Already in 1925 he called Zinoviev and Kamenev “Kronstadtsy.”…
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 143
LENIN WAS THE ONLY PARTY GENIUS
…He [Stalin] was close to a genius in tactics; in theory and strategy he was weaker. In our party I consider Lenin alone to be a genius.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 166
Stalin was an incarnation of his epoch, a different period from that of Lenin or Marx…. At a discrete stage Stalin achieved what had not–could not have–been achieved by anyone else.
Speaking of Lenin and Stalin, I would say this: the former was a genius, the latter was talented.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 230
LENIN FAVORED CENTRALISM
Lenin had opposed the federal principle, federalism, because he favored centralism.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 196
REVOLUTION WAS CARRIED OUT BY THE MASSES NOT A SMALL GROUP
One gets the impression from some accounts that the Russian Revolution was run by a small group of conspirators led by Lenin, with Stalin as a subservient but ambitious tool, Lenin periodically issuing diktats and directing matters with a political cunning that resulted in the overthrow of the government. The implication seems to be that if that government, led by Kerensky, had only been a bit smarter things might have gone the other way. In fact, of course, the Revolution was a mass movement responding to exploitation and tyranny. After its initial surge in March 1917–as a “bourgeois-democratic” revolution–it came more and more under the dominance of the working class.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 30
It was not the revolutionists who made the Russian Revolution. This in spite of hosts of revolutionists who tried their best to make it. For a century gifted men and women of Russia had been agitated over the cruel oppression of the people. So they became agitators. Into the villages, the shops and the slums they went crying….
But the people did not rise. They did not even seem to hear. Then came that supreme agitator–Hunger. Hunger, rising out of economic collapse and war, goaded the sluggish masses into action. Moving out against the old worm eaten structure they brought it down. Elemental impersonal forces did what human agencies found impossible.
The revolutionists, however, had their part. They did not make the Revolution. But they made the Revolution a success. By their efforts they had prepared a body of men and women with minds trained to see facts, with a program to fit the facts and with fighting energy to drive it through. There were a million of them–perhaps more, possibly less. The important thing is not their number, but the fact that they were organized to act as receivers of the bankrupt, old order, as a salvage-corps of the Revolution.
Williams, Albert. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 231
CONFISCATIONS DURING THE REVOLUTION MUST BE THOROUGH AND COMPLETE
So, in spite of everything, this Revolution must be carried on to the bitter end. The middle classes must be completely crushed, the bridges must be cut (to undo is to create in another sense); one must confiscate and completely expropriate; commerce, industry, everything must be seized.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 118
LENIN AND STALIN OPPOSE A CONCESSION THAT ZINOVIEV AND KAMENEV FAVOR
There was a certain amount of anxiety in the ranks and indeed, a certain amount of hesitation at the top. For instance, the former industrial magnet Urkwarth offered to take, and pay for, a concession of the Ural factories from which he had been expropriated. Kamenev and Zinoviev, in a fit of panic, were in favor of granting this concession. Stalin was against the proposal. Lenin also was against it, but he hesitated. Bela Kun, who was working in the Ural district, was summoned to inform the Central Committee of the state of mind of the workers and officials on the spot. These were against the concession, which was for Urkwarth merely a means of getting his foot once more into the stirrup, and which would mean more trouble than profit for the Republic. When the meeting that was to decide the matter took place, Zinoviev and Kamenev endeavored to obtain from Stalin a declaration against the concession which they favored (as a matter of fact they admitted afterwards). But Stalin refused to speak before those who came from the Ural had put forward their point of view, which, explained by Bela Kun, led to the concession being refused and the tempting bait being rejected.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 119
It was solemnly asserted at Moscow that: “The State does not grant industrial concessions or conclude commercial treaties, except insofar as neither of them are capable of undermining the foundations of its economy.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 125
LENIN WAS THE GREATEST AND EMBODIED THE REVOLUTION
This great bereavement took place at the beginning of 1924. Lenin died on January 21st, at the age of 54. It seemed incredible to all the men who had hitherto surrounded him so closely. They could not realize the fact that they had lost the man in whom the whole Russian Revolution was incarnate –the man who carried it in his head, had planned it, had created it and had saved it from subsequent disaster, Lenin, one of the greatest conquerors of history, the most sincere; the man who has done most for humanity up to the present time.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 146
MARXISTS HAVE SUFFERED AND DIED BY THE MILLIONS FOR THE CAUSE
The Communists have shed the bright red of their blood over all the lands of the Earth. Do people realize that the age-old martyrology of the Jews is gradually being overtaken and passed in numbers by that of the pioneer Socialists? Count them: in the past eight years the accumulation of dead, wounded, and condemned as reached more than 6 million.
Who knows what goes on in all the capitalist gaols of the universe, and who can give us an insight into the thousands and thousands of hellish and bestial scenes for which the guardians of class order and their sadistic genius for human suffering are responsible!
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 235
Let the reader recall the young men he has met in the pages of this book. They were at once dreamers and hard workers, idealists and stern realists–the flower of the Revolution, the incarnation of its dynamic spirit. It seems incredible for the Revolution to go on without them. But it does go on. For they are dead. Nearly everyone in this book is now in his grave. Here is the way some of them died:
Volodarsky–assassinated in the general plot to kill all Soviet leaders.
Neibut–executed on the Kolchak Front.
Yanishev– bayonetted by a White Guard on the Wrangel Front.
Tonkonogy–shot at his desk by the White Guards.
Utkin–dragged from a motor car and shot.
Sukhanov– led into the woods in the early morning and clubbed to death with rifle butts.
Melnikov–taken out of prison, shot, and bludgeoned.
Williams, Albert. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 237
NO POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE AN HONEST POLICY EXCEPT THE BOLSHEVIKS
Look at the neighboring countries, and see how many Parties in power have an honest policy which they follow. Actually there are no such Parties in the world, for they all live without perspective, wandering amidst the chaos of the world crisis and unable to see the way out of the morass.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 240
TROTSKY TRIES TO BELITTLE STALIN’S ROLE IN THE REVOLUTION
Trotsky did his best to systematically denigrate the revolutionary past of Stalin, and almost all bourgeois authors repeat these slanders.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 25 [pp. 15-16 on the NET]
TROTSKY DID NOT JOIN THE PARTY UNTIL AUG. 1917
Trotsky was trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, talking about `the party’, because he had never belonged to the Bolshevik Party that Lenin, Zinoviev, Stalin, Sverdlov and others forged between 1901 and 1917. Trotsky joined the Party in July 1917.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 25 [pp. 15-16 on the NET]
STALIN WAS ONE OF THE EARLY OUTSTANDING LEADERS OF THE REVOLUTION
Stalin’s handling of the Sixth Party Congress raised his prestige and authority. In the elections to the Central Committee he came after Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Trotsky in the number of votes polled. When the Central Committee elected the editorial board of Pravda, Stalin received the most votes and Trotsky failed to gain election. When it was decided to elect a 10-man inner cabinet of the enlarged Central Committee, Stalin again prevailed in the balloting.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 96
Among the Party officials Stalin was preferred to his future rival [Trotsky], and this is well attested by the first acts of the new Central Committee. In the voting for the editorial board of the Bolshevik newspaper Stalin received the most votes, and the motion that Trotsky, if released from jail, should be asked to join it was rejected 11 to 10.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 150
After Lenin’s return to Finland Trotsky took charge. He was chairman of the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, set up on Oct. 25. Serving as the headquarters staff of the Revolution, this committee controlled the Red Guard and all military units in the city which supported the Bolsheviks. There was also a special military revolutionary “center,” consisting of five members, elected or appointed on Oct. 29. Stalin, but not Trotsky, was a member of this center, which has been described as the real organizing force of the Revolution.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 98
In October 1917 Lenin, meanwhile, was calling on all organizations and all workers and soldiers to engage in outright and intensified preparation for an armed uprising. The party Central Committee appointed an operations center, consisting of Bubnov, Dzerzhinsky, Uritsky, Sverdlov, and Stalin, to supervise the organization of the uprising.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 27
Organizing the uprising had been the responsibility of the five-man practical center, including Stalin, and the Military Revolutionary Committee, which did an enormous amount of work recruiting forces for the decisive onslaught.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 28
STALIN PROTECTS ZINOVIEV AND KAMENEV FROM LENIN’S WRATH
Meanwhile Kamenev and Zinoviev, apparently in a mood of panic, were publicizing their opposition and emphasizing the dangers involved. To Lenin and others it was treason to oppose and to reveal Bolshevik intentions. It was all the more culpable since the Party rank-and-file were increasingly alarmed by their warnings. This was more than Lenin could stand. He had returned to Finland, and from his hiding place there, he demanded that the Central Committee expel them from the party.
At a meeting of the committee on Oct. 17, 1917, Trotsky advocated stern action against Kamenev and Zinoviev and branded them as traitors. He was not influenced by the fact that Kamenev was his brother-in-law; indeed, he was demonstrating that loyalty to the party stood far above personal relationships. Other members supported the case for severe punishment. It was Stalin who brought the note of moderation into the fury of the discussion. His argument in favor of tolerance flowed not from a passive, oil-on-troubled-waters attitude, nor from some incredibly farsighted realization that he might need the support of these two comrades in the future, but from a deep concern for the unity of the party at this critical time. Summarily expelling two comrades of long-standing would cause discord and solve nothing. Kamenev and Zinoviev knew that they had acted irresponsibly, and they would not repeat their mistakes. After his intervention, the proposal to expel them was dropped. Then it was decided to remove Kamenev from the editorial board of Pravda. This, too, was dropped, when Stalin resigned in protest and the committee refused to accept his resignation.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 97
Stalin took part in the decisive Central Committee meetings of October 10 and 24, at which the decision for an armed insurrection was made on the basis of reports by Lenin. Only Kamenev and Zinoviev voted against the decision, and in violation of all conspiratorial norms they published their objections in the non-Bolshevik newspaper Novaya zhizn. As is generally known, Lenin demanded that Zinoviev and Kamenev be expelled from the party. The only central committee member who opposed Lenin on this question was Stalin.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 46
…for when Lenin was to demand severe disciplinary measures against Kamenev and Zinoviev, it was Stalin who led the opposition to him.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 95
THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY IS DISBANDED AS COUNTER-REV
In January 5, 1918, the Constituent Assembly held its opening session in the Tauride Palace. The Bolshevik and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries deputies walked out of the chamber. On the following morning, when the deputies arrived to resume the session, Red guards barred the entrance to the Palace…. The Constituent Assembly, so long-awaited and discussed, was an effect dissolved, and the people, in a mood of apathy, appeared unconcerned.
On the same date the Central Executive Committee, appointed by the Congress of Soviets, which had a Bolshevik majority, approved the suppression of the Constituent Assembly. The justification was that it was an organ of counter-revolution….
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 102
Its [the Assembly] dispersal presented no difficulty. The Assembly was incapable of rallying any section of the people in its defense.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 186
At the start, the Bolsheviks co-operated with the extreme left wing of the SR’s and accorded them a place in the government.
One of the first things to be dealt with was the Constituent Assembly, which had at last been elected by universal franchise for man and woman to settle the new constitution of Russia. Only about 1/5 of its members were Bolshevik; the predominance and the presidency went to the SR’s, and it at once called in question the Bolshevik land policy. It was dispersed by force after a continuous sitting of a day and half (January 18th, 1918).
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 108
ADVANCEMENTS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE REVOLUTION
Inside the Soviet Union, while the mortality of early Soviet institutions has been comparatively high, and while modifications in Soviet thinking have been numerous and profound, Soviet society has retained a phenomenally large proportion of the innovations which it inaugurated immediately after the revolution. Social ownership of the means of production has been retained and enlarged as the basis of Soviet economy. Social planning has been carried to a high state of proficiency. Racial minorities have been federated, their position has been respected, and despite their long tradition of friction and conflict under Czarism, they have worked together with remarkable effectiveness. The one-party state has continued. Control within the party has been more highly centralized. The local autonomy of members of the Soviet Federation has been decreased. Opposition was liquidated in the drastic purges of 1936-38. Nevertheless, the test imposed by the Nazi invasion of 1941 showed the Russian people solidly behind their leadership.
When Eric Johnston, President of the United States Chamber of Commerce, returned from an extensive inspection trip of Russia in the summer of 1944, he wrote a series of signed newspaper articles summing up his observations. “The Soviet’s life is based upon the State’s ownership of all the means of production…. There is absolutely no evidence that the Soviet Union intends to abandon, even in the smallest degree, this principle of the State’s ownership of all the means of production. In fact, the people’s devotion to this system has been strengthened by the successes of war…. The older, top-ranking Communist leaders installed this system of collectivism 27 years ago. They believed it saved Russia from German enslavement. These older leaders are not going to change the system. The directors of factories and farms are men in their thirties. They know no other system for comparison…. Today, not even telescopic X-ray vision could see any private enterprise clothing in the Russian Bear’s wardrobe.” (New York Times, July 30, 1944)
Granted the correctness of Mr. Johnston’s contention, and in the article he goes on to argue that the Russian rank-and-file support their leaders in this position, it is evident that the revolution has brought benefits that make it appear superior to Czarism. What are some of those benefits?
1. A people, living in the dark, has been enlightened. An illiterate famine-ridden exploited community, saturated with superstition, has been replaced by a literate, scientifically-minded generation, convinced that it can play a major role in shaping its own destiny and in modifying the destiny of the entire human race.
2. A technically backward community has been converted, within one generation, into one of the most technically advanced areas of the world. This transformation has been effected as a result of social plans which the masses helped to make and to carry out. The collectivization and mechanization of agriculture is one of the most important aspects of this technological revolution.
3. A widely-flung nation, consisting largely of farmers scattered in some 300,000 villages and enjoying few social services beyond those grudgingly rendered by a poorly served ecclesiastical apparatus, has come into possession of an elaborate social security and social service organization including public health, public education, public recreation, multiple social insurance, electrification, postal service, roads.
4. Industrialization, technical improvements, the broadening of scientific activity, the encouragement of the arts and the growth of the social services have created an unprecedented demand for trained personnel. Consequently, within a decade after the revolution the Soviet Union was turning out tens of thousands of trained men and women who were learning and following a wide variety of technical and professional careers. In the language of the capitalist world, the revolution greatly expanded the Russian middle-class. In Soviet language, the revolution created a mass technological intelligentsia.
5. Socialistic construction offered energetic, ambitious boys and girls of the new generation an opportunity to make a career for themselves in the professions of their choice. Youth responded, as young people anywhere respond under similar circumstances, crowding into the schools, activating organizations, pouring time, energy, and enthusiasm into the multiple channels opened to them by the revolution….
7. Czarism confined opportunity to a relatively small group at the apex of the social pyramid. In accordance with feudal tradition, the top leaders were generally born to authority, whether they were capable of exercising it or not. The revolution opened the gates of opportunity to the masses, and through them flooded a great wave of popular enthusiasm to know, to plan, to build and create.
Nearing, S. The Soviet Union as a World Power. NY: Island Workshop Press, 1945, p. 16-18
The goal of the party founded by Lenin was to create a genuinely socialist society. After the October Revolution quite a lot was done toward that goal through the efforts of the party and the people. The October Revolution made the factories the property of the workers’ state and gave land to the peasants, thereby laying the economic foundation for a truly socialist democracy. The workers won extensive social rights and freedoms, women received equal rights with men, the road to culture and education was opened to the masses, and the way to abolition of national and class antagonisms was cleared. It would be wrong to deny these achievements…. In place of relationships of enmity, rivalry, and exploitation those of friendship and co-operation came into existence more and more.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 853
It would be wrong to deny that much has been achieved in the social and cultural life of the country: employment, social security (albeit on a very low basis), universal education of quite a high caliber, bringing the rudiments of culture to the broad masses, free (if poor quality) medical treatment, low prices for basic foodstuffs, extraordinarily low rents for (uncomfortable) state-owned apartments, children’s summer camps, kindergartens and creches at nominal charges, and various other social amenities. The trend towards gradual but perceptible improvement inspired the people.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 560
(Sinclair’s comments only)
There is a great deal in Russia which I would like to see different. I said so in my birthday greetings. On the other hand, there are developments in Russia which I consider to represent the most extraordinary progress ever made by any backward nation in the course of 20 years. A hundred million people have been taught to read and write. Tens of millions of children of oppressed workers and peasants have been sent to high schools and colleges. Racial minorities have been set free to have their own culture and speak their own language. Persecution of the Jews has been stopped. Women have been freed from age-old slavery and have been permitted to earn their own money and shape their own lives. Small-scale peasant farming has been replaced by modern scientific agriculture, and that means that the backbone of religious superstition has been broken; because everywhere throughout Europe and Asia it is the peasant who is the mainstay of reaction in ideas.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York : Rand School Press, 1938, p. 13
An account provided by Malakhov about the fate of his generation conveys a general picture very similar to that given by Benediktov:
“I am amazed how we had the strength for all that. When did we sleep and eat? And when did we find time to love, to rejoice, and to raise our cultural level? Our Komsomol girlfriends also combined work, studies, and social affairs and still managed to be very pretty, sweet, modest, kind, and loving. And they were able to manage at home, too, without shirking any kind of work. And how chaste the relationships were among the young women and men! We were afraid to offend our young girlfriends with awkward advances, immodest words, or crude behavior…. At night we slept soundly, for we were tired from our hard and intensive labor, and we did not lie awake listening for the knock on the door. What’s more, the door to the house was seldom locked, for it was always open to our friends and neighbors, and thieves had no use for our poor possessions. These days it is acceptable among young people if everything is not just so at home or at work to write, to demand, to complain to all levels of authority. In my time such things simply could not be; there was no one and nowhere to complain to…. There were perhaps some people “overzealous” in their demands on themselves and their comrades. It was considered shameful to visit restaurants; divorce was condemned, as were unofficial marriages and modish or ostentatious clothing. On the other hand, high-value was put on labor, knowledge, friendship, patriotism, social activities, discipline, and proletarian internationalism. Narcotic addicts and prostitutes were simply unheard of in our working milieu, and drunkenness and absenteeism were punished severely…. Our life was not idyllic. There were many hardships; there was hunger and cold, the destruction of basic tools and equipment as a result of the civil war. There was an acute ideological war and sabotage and wreckers (yes, wreckers: these were not statements of the imagination of state authorities suffering from acute paranoia)…. We wanted universal knowledge. We studied philosophy and literature. We were interested in scientific innovations. We delved into politics; we learned to know music and the fine arts, everything that our family and school could not give us.”
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 246
DUMA TRIES TO LULL PEOPLE AND DIVERT THEM FROM THE REAL BATTLE IN THE STREETS
The miserable Duma with its miserable Cadets is high and dry in this midstream. It wants to reconcile the revolution with the counter-revolution, so that the wolves and the sheep may lie down together–and thus “at one stroke” lull the storm of the revolution. That is why the Duma has so far done nothing but beat the air; that is why it has not been able to rally any part of the people around it, and is left high and dry. The street still remains the main arena of struggle. The facts prove this. Moreover the same facts tell us that in today’s struggle, in the street fighting, and not in the palaver of the Duma, the forces of counter-revolution are weakening and disintegrating day by day, while the forces of revolution are growing and mobilizing themselves;…
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 27
STALIN SAYS LAND MUST BE TAKEN FROM NOBLES AND GIVEN TO PEASANTS
The land was taken away from the peasantry and handed to the nobles; all this land must be taken back without any compensations or remunerations for the nobility!
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 32
[1939 essay on life in Voronezh Oblast village sent by rural correspondent Grebennikov to Krest’ianskaia Gazeta]
And only Soviet rule loosened the grip of landowners, which for many years squeezed the village of Kazinka, and only Soviet rule allowed the people of Kazinka to breathe freely in their own expansive domain. The people of Kazinka understood this and were always in the forefront in establishing the Kalinin kolkhoz. They took more than one kolkhoz in tow and allowed more than one shock brigade to help sovkhozes. The kolkhoz itself had a Red Banner fluttering at its board office for several years with the inscription: “Labor is a matter of honor, a matter of valor and heroism!”
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 299
Whoever thinks that under our conditions alliance with the peasantry means alliance with the kulaks has nothing in common with Leninism. Whoever thinks of conducting a policy in the countryside that will please everyone, rich and poor alike, is not a Marxist, but a fool, because such a policy does not exist in nature, comrades.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 52
OPPOSITION PRESS SHUT DOWN IN SUMMER OF 1918 BECAUSE OF RUMOR-MONGERING & LYING
In the spring of 1918 the Bolsheviks were fighting fairly energetically against the entire opposition press. In May and June alone approximately 60 bourgeois, social revolutionary, and Menshevik publications were shut down,… The main reason for closing Martov’s paper, Vperyod, was not so much his polemic against Stalin as a number of false reports it had carried, which under the existing conditions could cause panic. Sverdlov spoke at a session of the Central Executive Committee on May 9, 1918, demanding that publication of Vperyod be stopped. On May 11 the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee, on motion by Sverdlov, decreed that “all newspapers printing false rumors and absurdly untrue reports be immediately shut down until this question has been reviewed by a tribunal on the press.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 53
The Capitalist press was not destroyed until 1918. The Socialist newspapers and magazines languished until the spring of 1919.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 204
SVERDLOV WAS THE ORIGINAL LEADER UNDER LENIN
At plenary sessions of the Central Committee all appointments of personnel are made by open voting, not by secret ballot, and there is no indication that Lenin, or even Trotsky, abstained when the slate of the new Secretariat was submitted for approval….
Until the spring of 1919 the functions that later were carried out by the Orgburo & Secretariat were actually performed by Sverdlov, who had been assigned to head the Secretariat as early as the Sixth Congress. It was Sverdlov, and not Trotsky or Stalin, who was second in authority and importance as a leader of the Bolshevik party. After his death in March 1919 Lenin said:
“That work he performed as an organizer, in choosing men and appointing them to responsible posts in all the various departments, will be performed in the future only if we appoint whole groups of men to handle the different major departments that he had sole charge of, and if these men, following in his footsteps, come near to doing what this one man did alone.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 68
BOLSHEVIKS PARDON FORMER ENEMIES AND WORK WITH THEM
It is well known that during the civil war in Russia the Bolsheviks not only arrested but shot Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and Anarchists. Quite a few Bolsheviks also fell from bullets fired by Social Revolutionaries and Anarchists, especially on territory controlled by Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and Anarchist detachments, armies, or “governments.” Nevertheless, when the White armies of General Denikin were threatening Moscow in 1919, Lenin ordered the release of Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks from the jails, and they immediately went voluntarily to the battlefront, sometimes as military commissars, to fight for Soviet power. An alliance was also made with the rebel army of the Anarchist Makhno, which was officially made a unit of the Red Army and went on to smash the best regiments of Denikin’s army in the southern Ukraine.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 311
IN 1918 OTHER PARTIES EXPELLED FROM THE ASSEMBLY BUT REMAIN LEGAL & LATER ALLIES
On June 14, 1918, citing Right Social Revolutionary and Menshevik participation in the fight against the Soviet regime, the Central Executive Committee decreed the expulsion of the Right Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks from all Soviets. Earlier, in April 1918, all Anarchist groups had been expelled from the Soviets. In July 1918, after the rising of the left Socialist-Revolutionaries, the same decree was issued for them. But even after their expulsion from the Soviets, the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties continued to exist as legal, active political organizations. Moreover, when the Menshevik Central Committee at the end of 1918 opposed foreign intervention and collaboration with the bourgeoisie and rejected the proposal for a Constituent Assembly, the Central Executive Committee rescinded the decree of June 14 with respect to the Mensheviks. In February 1919 the same was done with respect to those Right Socialist-Revolutionary groups that took a position against foreign intervention. Some anarcho-syndicalist groups also existed legally.
In the summer and fall of 1918 the main forces opposing the Bolsheviks in the incipient civil war were the left “petty bourgeois” parties–the Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, Anarchists, various nationalist groups–in alliance with the Czech Legion. By the end of 1918 the monarchist generals supported by armed units from England, France, Japan, the United States, and several other countries had become the main anti-Bolshevik force. This changed the political situation inside the Soviet republic. In 1919, for example, the so-called Irkutsk Political Center, led by Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, came out against the leader of the Whites in Siberia, Adm. Kolchak. The Maximalist Socialist-Revolutionaries and Bundists also opposed Kolchak in 1919, and the Bolsheviks did not decline temporary agreements with those groups. During 1919 the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks held legal congresses and other meetings in the Soviet Republic. Imprisoned Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks were freed by an amnesty, and in many cases they left immediately for the front lines of the civil war. Some Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks even became political commissars in units of the Red Army. During Denikin’s offensive in 1919 the Bolsheviks concluded a very important military-political alliance with Makhno, an anarchist whose army was a major force in the southern Ukraine at that time. The successful raids in Denikin’s rear carried out by Makhno’s units, which were formally made part of the Red Army, helped to weaken the White’s offensive against Moscow and later to smash the armies of Denikin and Wrangel.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 641
ATTEMPT TO KILL LENIN ALMOST SUCCEEDED
Plan after plan of the counter-revolutionists and foreign imperialists to assassinate Lenin miscarried. But on the last of August, 1918, the plotters almost succeeded.
Williams, Albert R. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 36
PROPERTY IS PROTECTED NOT DESTROYED BY THE MASSES WHO REVOLT
… Next day the hostile press spread tales of gruesome atrocities against the Women’s Battalion, alongside of stories of sack and pillage of the Palace by the Red Guards.
Yet nothing is more alien to the essential nature of the working-class than destructiveness. Were it not so, history might have a different story to tell of the morning of November 8. It might have to record that the magnificent edifice of the Czar was left a heap of crumbling stones and smoking embers by the vengeance of a long-suffering people.
Williams, Albert. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 138
So events gave the lie to another dire prophecy. Kerensky, Dan, and others of the intelligentsia had shrieked against the Revolution, predicting a hideous orgy of crime and plunder, the loosing of the basest passions of the mob. Once the hungry and embittered masses got in motion, they said, like a maddened herd they would go trampling down, wrecking, and destroying everything. “Even Gorky was prophesying the end of the world” (Trotsky).
And now the Revolution has come. There are, indeed, isolated acts of vandalism; rich-clad bourgeois still return home minus their great fur coats; mob’s work havoc before the Revolution can rein them in.
But there is one outstanding fact. The first fruits of the Revolution are law and order. Never was Petrograd safer than after passing into the hands of the masses. Unprecedented quiet reigns in the streets. Hold-ups and robberies drop almost to zero. Robbers and thugs quail before the iron hand of the proletariat.
It is not merely negative restraint–order rising out of fear. The Revolution begets a singular respect for the rights of property. In the shattered windows of the shops, within hands’ reach of passing men in desperate need, are foodstuffs and clothing. They remain untouched. There is something pathetic in the sight of hungry men having food within their grasp and not grasping it, something awesome in the constraint engendered by the Revolution. It exerts its subtle influence everywhere. Into the far-off villages it reaches. No longer are the peasants burning the great estates.
Yet it is the upper classes who assert that in them lies true respect of the sanctity of property. A curious claim at the end of the World War for which the governing classes are responsible. By their fiat, cities are given to the torch, the face of the land covered with ashes, the bottom of the sea strewn with ships, the structure of civilization shot to pieces, and even now still more terrible instruments of destruction are being prepared.
What basis is there for true respect of property in the bourgeoisie? Actually they produce little or nothing. To the privileged, property is something that comes by cleverness, by chance inheritance, by stroke of fortune. With them it is largely a matter of titles, deeds, and papers.
But to the working classes, property is a thing of tears and blood. It is an exhausting act of creation. They know its cost in aching muscles and breaking backs….
What men have brought forth in pain and labor they cannot wantonly annihilate, any more than a mother can destroy her child. They, out of whose thews and muscles the thing has issued, will best guard and cherish it. Knowing its cost, they feel its sacredness. Even before works of art the rude, untaught masses stand with reverence. Only vaguely do they glimpse their meaning. But they see in them the incarnation of effort. And all labor is holy.
The Social Revolution is in truth the apotheosis of the rights of property. It invests it with a new sanctity. By transferring property into the hands of the producers it gives the keeping of wealth into the hands of its natural and zealous guardians–the makers of it. The creators are the best conservators.
Williams, Albert. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 139
UNLIKE THE RICH THE MASSES VIEW THE REVOLUTION AS FREEDOM
To the rich and the privileged, to those who sit on roof gardens or ride in parlor-cars, the Revolution is a thing of terror and horror. It is the anti-Christ. But to the despised and disinherited, the Revolution is like the Messiah coming to “preach good typings to the poor; to proclaim release of the captives and to set at liberty them that are bruised.” No longer can Dostoyevsky’s convict mutter, “We are not alive, though we are living. We are not in our graves, though we are dead.” In the House of the Dead, Revolution is Resurrection.
Williams, Albert. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 196
PEOPLE TURNED AGAINST THE CHURCH BECAUSE OF ITS WEALTH AND HOARDING
All this church wealth was collected by bearing down upon the peasants and workers. But when the Revolution came, overthrowing the Czar as head of the State, he was necessarily overthrown as head of the church. It was only natural that the people should look with suspicion on the wealth under the control of the church. So that is why they turned from religion, because to them it stands for hoarded wealth. Another reason is that the church, of course, being under the control of the Czar, was opposed to the Revolution. The priests under the Czar did all in their power to stop the coming of the Revolution. They even sanctioned and participated in the killing of dangerous revolutionists. In spite of them the revolution came, and so of course today the people do not look with favor upon the church which once tried so hard to suppress their efforts to be free from the Czar’s yoke. Understanding this, I am not surprised that they resent religion as they do. Rather I am more surprised that they didn’t go further at the time of the Revolution and actually destroy all traces of the church.
Dykstra, Gerald. A Belated Rebuttal on Russia. Allegan, Mich.: The Allegan Press, 1928, p. 122
SOME CLERGY ACCEPT THE REVOLUTION AND LOSING THEIR WEALTH
Here we lunched with 22 priests, monks, and abbots. They showed us through the monastery. We tried our best in the conversation to get them to say something against the new attitude toward religion. And the most that we could get out of them on the subject was this: That they didn’t control the lands or have the money they had before the Revolution, but the government left them the use of everything. The people who wanted to could come to church. And they were satisfied with this state of affairs.
Dykstra, Gerald. A Belated Rebuttal on Russia. Allegan, Mich.: The Allegan Press, 1928, p. 126
CONDITIONS WERE BETTER AFTER THE REVOLUTION THAN NOW UNDER PERISHSTROIKA
And another thought keeps gnawing at my mind. Perestroika has been under way in our country for a number of years, and life in this vast and fertile land, so rich in talent and natural resources, is only getting worse. How is it that in the early 1920s, after three years of the blood bath of the First World War, four years of the fratricidal Civil War, and the ruthless requisitions of War Communism, it took less than two years not only to feed the people, something we’ve been dreaming of ever since, but to restore a fairly comfortable way of life and to ensure an abundance never seen again?
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 98
STALIN HELD MANY HIGH POSITIONS FROM THE START OF THE REVOLUTION
At the same time, it should be remembered that, from the first moment of the revolution, Stalin was a member of the highest party bodies: first in the Central Committee, then the Politburo and Orgburo. By degrees, especially as the Civil War approached its end, Stalin’s position became stronger and he became one of the key figures in the governing nucleus of the party.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 48
More strangely still, he [Stalin] was voted and moved into all his positions of power by his rivals.
Three of the offices he held immediately after the civil war were of decisive importance: he was the Commissar of Nationalities, the Commissar of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate, and a member of the Politburo.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 228
He was appointed Commissar of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate in 1919, on Zinoviev’s proposal. The Rabkrin, as the Commissariat was called, was set up to control every banch of the administration, from top to bottom, with a view to eliminating the two major faults, inefficiency and corruption, which the Soviet civil service had inherited from its Tsarist predecessor. It was to act as the stern and enlightened auditor for the whole rickety and creaking governmental machine; to expose abuses of power and red tape; and to train an elite of reliable civil servants for every branch of the government. The Commissariat acted through teams of workers and peasants who were free at any time to enter the offices of any Commissariat and watch the work done there. In the end, teams of the Rabkrin regularly attended private departmental conferences and even the meetings of the Council of Commissars. The system was devised as a method of training an elite for the civil service; but as a result of it the Rabkrin was able to keep its eye on every wheel of the governmental machine.
The whole bizarre scheme of inspection was one of Lenin’s pet the ideas. Exasperated by the inefficiency and dishonesty of the civil service, he sought to remedy them by extreme and ruthless ‘control from below’, and the Commissariat was to be the means. The choice of Stalin for the job gives a measure of Lenin’s high confidence in him, for the Inspectorate was to be a sort of a super-government, itself free from every taint and blemish of officialdom.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 230
Suffice it to say here that, as the head of the Inspectorate, Stalin came to control the whole machinery of government, it’s working and personnel, more closely than any other commissar.
His next position of vantage was in the Politburo. Throughout the civil war, the Politburo consisted of five men only: Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Kamenev, and Bukharin. Ever since the break between Bolsheviks and Social Revolutionaries, this had been the real government of the country. Lenin was the recognized leader of both government and party…. The day-to-day management of the party belonged to Stalin. The Politburo discussed high policy. Another body, which was, like the Politburo, elected by the Central Committee, the Organization Bureau (Orgburo), was in charge of the party’s personnel, which it was free to call up, direct to work, and distribute throughout the army and the civil service according to the demands of the civil war. From the beginning of 1919 Stalin was the only permanent liaison officer between the Politburo and the Orgburo. He ensured the unity of policy and organization; that is, he marshaled the forces of the party according to the Politburo’s directives. Like none of his colleagues, he was immersed in the party’s daily drudgery and in all its kitchen cabals.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 231
Lenin, Kamenev, Zinoviev, and, to a lesser extent, Trotsky, were Stalin’s sponsors in all the offices he held. His jobs were of the kind which could scarcely attract the bright intellectuals of the Politburo. All their brilliance in matters of doctrine, all their powers of political analysis would have found little application either at the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate or at the General Secretariat. What was needed there was an enormous capacity for hard and uninspiring toil and a patient and sustained interest in every detail of organization. None of his colleagues grudged Stalin his assignments.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 234
From among the major leaders at the Party Lenin brought Kamenev and Trotsky into the Politburo. And also Koba. This was the nerve center. Zinoviev and Bukharin he made only associate members. Lenin also set up an Organization Bureau, to supervise the current work of the Party, and made Koba a member of this body too. Even this was not enough. He appointed Koba to two Peoples Commissariats — Nationalities and the very important Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate. It was still not enough. Throughout this period a great number of commissions came into being to manage the day-day life of the country under the Politburo’s guidance. Lenin appointed Koba to all the particularly important commissions, usually steering Trotsky in the same direction…. Lenin often authorized Koba to conduct meetings of the government in his absence…. This, then, was the new Koba–member of the Politburo and the Orgbureau, People’s Commissar twice over, representative of the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Military Council on the Petrograd, western, and southern fronts. Add to this all those commissions….
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 162
The first post-victory crisis found Stalin on Lenin’s side, and he was now considered an indispensable organizer and committeeman. Thus, at the session of the Central Committee of November 29 which appointed several subcommittees for dealing with current work, Stalin was put on practically all the important ones: the editorial board of Pravda, the committee to supervise the Bolshevik press, the group to deal with the Ukrainian question. He had inestimable gifts as a committeeman and organizer: brevity and the ability to get to the point.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 161
He [Stalin] never complained about assignments: already his capacity for hard work was well-known…. He had a basic understanding of Marxist theory. He was a fluent writer and an able editor.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 83
NO EVIDENCE STALIN WAS AN AGENT OF THE CZARIST SECRET POLICE
The Avalbar affair, taken with other peculiar events, has long since led to the suspicion that Stalin acted as an agent of the Okhrana. There are documents which show, or might show, that he was indeed such an agent: but on the evidence at present available, they seem to be forgeries….
Nevertheless, on the evidence we have (including recent Soviet research), the charge that Stalin acted for the Okhrana must be dismissed. But there is a milder version, as it were, in which Stalin is charged with betraying rival Social Democrats, including Bolsheviks, to the police, no doubt by anonymous tip-offs. At any rate, there were several occasions when Stalin seemed to be the logical suspect. Again, however cumulative the stories, proof is lacking.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 39
But it is not hard to see that all these “proofs” of Stalin’s connections with the Tsarist secret police are based on questionable second-or even third-hand reports. They have as little credibility as the accounts in the foreign press.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 579
Of course the Okhrana had quite a few documents on Stalin, especially since he frequently was arrested, interrogated, sent into exile, and escaped from exile. None of the documents known to me confirm the story that he collaborated with the police.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 581
Thus there is no proof that Stalin had connections with the Tsarist secret police….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 583
Prompted by Khrushchev’s dramatic denunciations, Orlov was soon in print again, this time to declare that the time had come for him to uncover a secret about the former Soviet leader which was too dark even for Khrushchev to reveal, namely that Stalin had been an Okhrana informant and had betrayed his Bolshevik comrades before the Revolution. In another Life article, Orlov claimed he first learned of the sensational evidence from Katsnelson. He revealed how his cousin had made a special point of visiting Paris to tell him in February 1937, as he laid flat on his back in the clinic recovering from two broken vertebrae. Katsnelson was then not only deputy chief of the NKVD in the Ukraine, but also an influential member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
…The tale related to documentation which had supposedly come to light in the voluminous archives of the Tsarist secret police. It had been discovered by an NKVD officer named Stein,…
Fully aware of the danger inherent in his dramatic discovery, Stein had withheld the explosive documentation from Yagoda, Katsnelson had told Orlov. Stein had traveled to Kiev to show it to his former superior, who was also a trusted personal friend and Katsnelson’s boss, Balitsky, the NKVD chief of the Ukraine. That, as Orlov explained, was how his cousin came to know the contents of the Okhrana file. In the privacy of the hospital bedroom Katsnelson revealed how they had taken the documents to two of their closest associates, Gen. Yakir, the commander of all military forces in the Ukraine, and Kossior, the Ukrainian Party chief who was also a member of the Politburo and Secretary of the Communist Party. Yakir had then gone to Moscow to brief Marshall Tukhachevsky, the Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army, who harbored an intense personal distrust of Stalin. Armed with the ammunition documenting the treachery of the Big Boss, Tukhachevsky and the Deputy, Commissioner of Defense, Gamarnik, entered into a conspiracy to overthrow Stalin.
“In February 1937 the Red Army generals were still in the process of ‘gathering forces’, as Zinovy phrased it,” according to Orlov, who explained how they “had not reached agreement on a firm plan for the coup d’etat.” The essence of their plan depended on persuading Stalin to summon a conference in Moscow on the military problems of the Ukraine’s defense. This would enable the conspirators and their trusted aides personally to seize Stalin in the Kremlin, while two elite Red Army regiments sealed off the approaches to Moscow. When Katsnelson saw Orlov in Paris, the conspirators were still undecided whether to dispense summary justice by shooting Stalin on the spot, or to present the incriminating documents to a plenary session of the Central Committee. Orlov said he had given encouragement to his cousin, cautioning him that to delay widened the circle of plotters, increasing the risk that one of them would betray the conspiracy.
“In case of failure, if Elena and I are shot, I want you and Maria to take care of my little girl,” Orlov said Katsnelson had requested as they kissed each other farewell. It was the last he saw of his cousin. Over the coming weeks he listened anxiously for news of the coup, in Radio Moscow broadcasts. On July 11, 1937 when he heard the announcement that Marshall Tukhachevsky and a number of Red Army generals had been arrested on charges of treason and executed, he knew the plotters had been betrayed. Those shot with Tukhachevsky included Yakir. Orlov later discovered that Kossior and his cousin had been executed soon after. When he heard that Gamarnik and Stein had shot themselves too, he took this as confirmation that Stalin had moved swiftly to protect his deadly secret.
The official reason for what developed into a major purge of the Red Army was that Tukhachevsky and his fellow officers had been plotting to overthrow Stalin in league with the Nazis. On the basis of what he had learned from his cousin Orlov believed this was just a convenient cover. It had been easy to fabricate as a result of information Stalin received from the Czechs a year earlier, when President Benes had instructed the Czechoslovak secret service to let Moscow know that they had picked up a Soviet named Israelovich in Prague in 1936 following a clandestine meeting with two German general staff officers. Orlov, who had once had dealings with Israelovich, insisted that he was a loyal NKVD officer, but that it had suited Stalin’s purpose–and that of the Czech President–to convey the impression that Israelovich was a GRU spy who had served as Tukhachevsky’s go-between with the Nazis.
Orlov’s account of Tukhachevsky’s conspiracy rests mainly on the information provided to him by Katsnelson. But another article in the same issue of Life also charged that Stalin was an Okhrana informant. This was put forward by Isaac Don Levine, who had ghost-written Krivitsky’s memoirs and who was a tireless researcher into Soviet history. The evidence he cited, however, was based on what is now regarded as a forged 1913 letter to the Okhrana chief of the Yenmisiek province of Siberia, where Stalin had been exiled. It passed on information that in 1906 and 1908 the Georgian had provided “valuable denunciatory information” to the Tsar’s secret police. The authenticity of this document could not, according to the FBI, be established as “100 percent genuine.”
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 368
There were rumors that he had been enlisted as an agent by the Okhrana, the Tsarist secret police, but this has never been proved.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 8
In fact the most exigent analysis of the evidence gives no serious grounds for thinking that Dzhughashvili was a police agent….
Yet the Okhrana preferred to keep its main informers out of prison; and Dzhughashvili, although he sometimes received light sentences, was incarcerated or exiled too frequently and lengthily to have been a police employee. He was to spend the Great War through to the February 1917 Revolution in Siberia even though the state authorities could have used him productively if he really had been working for them.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 72
But no reliable documentary evidence that Koba was a police agent has yet appeared, even though many researchers have sought it in the archives of the secret Paris office of the police, a rich body of material that has been available for many years at the Hoover Institution. And the fact that the police arrested Stalin in 1913, sent him to a particularly remote place in Siberia, and did not release him or allow his escape as long as the regime survived demonstrates that by this time, at least, the police did not treat Stalin as one of their agents.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 17
STALIN PUT ON FIRST CENTRAL COMMITTEE IN APRIL 1917
The interesting point is something else–that Stalin had been nominated by Lenin as his chief supporter. He was bound to carry weight as a former leading advocate of Kamenev’s line. And judging by the continued fractiousness of many delegates, his contribution may have been decisive to Lenin’s victory.
On April 27, 1917, the Conference elected a new Central Committee. Lenin spoke in support of two candidates–Kamenev, of whom Lenin said that his conduct in 1915, in not opposing the war, had been purged, and that his ‘wavering’ in the early post-revolutionary months should be forgotten. Kamenev had a good record, and could not be expected to agree with the new policies without argument. As for Stalin, ‘Comrade Koba has been known to us for a great many years. We saw him in Cracow where our bureau was located. His activity in the Caucasus was important. A good worker in all responsible jobs.’
Then, for the first time, Stalin was elected to the Central Committee. The voting was Lenin 104, Zinoviev 101, Stalin 97, Kamenev 95.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 64
By the end of April another national conference of Bolsheviks elected a new Central Committee of nine members, among them Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Stalin, Sverdlov. This was the first time Stalin was confirmed in leadership by a large vote in a direct, open election. To the cadres of the party he was now a familiar figure, although to outsiders he was still a name only. At the conference he was the rapporteur on the problem of nationalities.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 142
STALIN DELIVERS THE MAIN REPORT AT THE SIXTH CONGRESS
… On July 28, 1917, the Bolsheviks Sixth Congress opened–a small, semi-legal affair, interrupted by a lack of quorums. Stalin, absent at first, in the end delivered the main report.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 67
STALIN WAS ONE OF THE FIRST RUSSIAN DELEGATES TO THE COMINTERN
At the founding of the Communist International on March 4, 1919, Stalin was present with Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev & Bukharin, as one of the Russian delegates.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 91
STALIN WAS NOT A COWARD OR A SCHEMER AS TROTSKY CLAIMS IN OCT 1917
Surprisingly enough, he [Stalin] was not even present at the session of the Central Committee that took place on the morning of the insurrection. “Not that he was a coward. There is no basis for accusing Stalin of cowardice,” [this is Trotsky’s comment] “he was simply politically non-committal. The cautious schemer preferred to stay on the fence at the crucial moment. He was waiting to see how the insurrection turned out before committing himself to a position. In the event of failure he could tell Lenin and me and our adherents: “It’s all your fault!” One must clearly recapture the red-hot temper of those days in order to appreciate according to its deserts the man’s cool grit or, if you like, his insidiousness.”
Trotsky’s explanation seems self-contradictory: the insidiousness which he attributes to his rival appears after all to be tinged with cowardice. It is impossible to accept Trotsky’s interpretation for yet another reason: Stalin did in fact commit himself as early as October 10, when the first vote on the insurrection was taken in the Central Committee. He then voted with Lenin and Trotsky. On Oct. 16 he again voted and spoke for the insurrection, this time not in the narrow conclave of the Central Committee but at a much wider conference at which were present delegates from the Petersburg organization, the party’s military branch, the trade unions, and the Petersburg Soviet as well as delegates from factory committees, railroad workers, etc. A “cautious schemer preferring to stay on the fence at the crucial moment” would hardly have stepped down so heavily on Lenin’s side before the eyes of a gathering of that sort.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 167
OTHER PARTIES ALLOWED AFTER THE REVOLUTION WERE UNDERMINING THE CAUSE
In his own department Stalin met no sabotage by civil servants: for no special department dealing with the affairs of the various non-Russian nationalities had previously existed. He had to build up his Commissariat from scratch….
He had hardly begun the job when the first Council of People’s Commissars ceased to exist. The right wing of the party, the former opponents of the insurrection, strongly represented in the Government, worked behind the scenes for a reconciliation with the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries. They urged their party to share power with the moderate Socialists. The demand was supported by Rykov, the Commissar of the Interior, Milyutin, the Commissar of Agriculture, Nogin, the Commissar of Industry and Trade, Lunacharsky, Kamenev (who had in the meantime been elected President of the Republic), and Zinoviev. These Commissars resigned and so compelled Lenin to open negotiations with the other parties. The attempt at reconciliation failed, however, because the Mensheviks insisted that Lenin and Trotsky, the two inspirers of the insurrection, should not be included in the coalition government. There was some hesitation about that condition in the Bolshevik Central Committee; but the majority saw in it an attempt ‘at beheading the Bolshevik party’ and rejected it. Stalin voted against the exclusion of Lenin and Trotsky and for bringing negotiations with the Mensheviks to an end. A new series of resignations from the Government and the Central Committee followed, which was only stopped when the recalcitrants were threatened with expulsion from the party. Lenin, Trotsky, the Stalin were the first to sign the statement containing the threat. The crisis did nevertheless lead to the formation of a new government which included the left wing of the Social Revolutionaries. This group, the only one willing to co-operate with Lenin and Trotsky, did so primarily in order to carry to its end the agrarian revolution.
It is difficult to understand the crucial role which Stalin came to play in the Soviet Government from its inception, unless due allowance is made for the effect that the ‘softness’ of most Bolshevik leaders had on Lenin. Their vacillations filled him with apprehension and alarm. He saw his government confronted with almost insuperable adversities: internal chaos, economic paralysis, inevitable counter-revolution, and a legacy of war. He looked around to see which of his colleagues in the Government and in the Central Committee could be relied upon to form a close nucleus capable of the determined and swift action which would be needed in the emergencies to come. He thought of setting up an inner Cabinet rather than of any dictatorial triumvirate. Soon after the revolution, the Bolshevik Central Committee had appointed an executive of four members: Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, and Sverdlov. After the formation of the Bolshevik-left Social Revolutionary coalition, the Government delegated important and urgent business to an inner cabinet which consisted of five commissars, three Bolsheviks and two Social Revolutionaries. The three Bolshevik members were Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 178-180
LENIN TRIES TO MEDIATE BETWEEN STALIN AND TROTSKY
Technically, Stalin’s interference with military matters was illegal. His demand that no appointments be made by central headquarters without the knowledge of himself and Voroshilov was also beyond his terms of reference. However, matters of food and military operations were now interconnected; and Stalin felt that as a member of the Government and one of the top leaders of the party he was entitled to act as he did, whatever his formal standing vis-a-vis the army. Trotsky, on his part, insisted that as long as Stalin was attached to Tsaritsyn headquarters he was subordinate to the higher military command and should not use his position in the Government or in the Central Committee to undermine military authority. Though Trotsky’s insistence on this was technically correct, it was psychologically unrealistic. Stalin had a strong sense of his high place in the hierarchy. He refused to climb down in front of his old friends. Lenin, whatever he may have thought about the tone of Stalin’s dispatches, was careful not to add fuel to the quarrel. He valued the work of both men, though he measured each of them with a different yardstick, and he was anxious to eliminate friction between them. Without showing Stalin’s most offensive dispatches to Trotsky and without transmitting all of Trotsky’s criticisms to Stalin, he tried to curb the one and placate the other. With Trotsky’s agreement, Stalin was granted the plenary powers he had asked for.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 203
Lenin studied the messages with a discerning eye. He took the criticisms of Trotsky with a grain of salt. When Trotsky, annoyed at the charges, resigned, the Politburo passed a unanimous motion solemnly entreating him to stay in office. (Stalin, who had obliquely asked for Trotsky’s dismissal, also cast his vote for the motion.)
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 214
MOST MENSHEVIKS EVENTUALLY WORKED WITH THE BOLSHEVIK GOVERNMENT
Unlike the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks did not execute their Girondists. The most eminent spokesmen of Menshevism, Martov, Dan, Abramovich, were either allowed to leave or were exiled from Russia after their party had been banned. A handful of those who stayed behind were imprisoned, but most Mensheviks, reconciling themselves to defeat, loyally served in the Soviet administration and even on the staffs of the leading Bolsheviks.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 346
THE SU PROLETARIAT IS CENTRAL TO LENIN’S THOUGHTS EVEN THOUGH IT IS SMALL
The town workers had always had the central place in all Lenin’s thoughts in exile. Though they were only a small fraction of the population, they were the nucleus of the so-called “dictatorship of the proletariat.”
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 129
And Lenin’s fundamental position in the history of the Russian Revolution was determined by his assertion that Marxism applies to Russia, and that in spite of the overwhelming numbers of the peasants, the industrial proletariat must occupy the position of leadership. To depart from that proposition will be to depart from the very foundations of Marxism, and of Lenin’s application of it to Russia.
Eastman, Max. Since Lenin Died. Westport, Connecticutt: Hyperion Press. 1973, p. 117
The proletarian dictatorship was triumphant but the proletariat had nearly vanished. It had never been more than a small minority of the nation; and it had played a decisive part in three revolutions not because of its numbers but because of the extraordinary strength of its political mind, initiative, and organization.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 7
Germany, at that time, had an enormous and class-conscious working-class; though the Russian working-class was also politically highly educated, it was, numerically, extremely small.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 37
ZINOVIEV AND KAMENEV FAVOR A COALITION GOVT WHICH LENIN OPPOSES
A new government was formed called The Soviet of People’s Commissaries, the Sovnarkom, and it was composed entirely of Bolsheviks. Again Zinoviev and Kamenev were in opposition to their leader and wished to make a coalition government of various shades of socialist politicians, including Social-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. But Lenin overruled them.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 37
SOVIET GOVT GUARANTEES FAR MORE CIVIL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES THAN THE CZARIST GOVT
It can easily be demonstrated that the vast majority of the Soviet people have experienced a significant improvement in all types of rights: (1) basic civil liberties and participatory rights: before 1917 the Russian Empire was a Monarchist absolutism in which no effective participation or civil liberties to oppose the system or to advocate the interests of the working people or minorities were allowed; (2) civil rights: a policy of forced Russification existed [previously] as well as a policy of systematic persecution of the Jews; (3) productive property was in the hands of the few, with most of the urban population being propertyless, workers having no rights in their jobs; and finally, (4) in terms of distributive rights, there was no right to work, housing, education, medicine, social security, etc. for the common people….
That there is an advanced level of rights in the USSR today in comparison with countries with an equivalent level of economic development and living standard of the common people in the Russian empire in 1917 is also equally demonstrable. The situation in Soviet Central Asia in all five areas (including civil liberties) are considerably more advanced than in those areas across the Soviet Union’s southern borders, which traditionally shared the same cultures, for example, Turkey, Iran under the Shah, Afghanistan before its 1978 revolution, as well as such countries as Pakistan.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 26
EARLY ON LENIN CHOSE STALIN FOR A LOT OF IMPORTANT JOBS
And yet we are faced with the fact that Lenin, in the decade after 1905, deliberately selected Stalin for increasingly important Bolshevik Party tasks, making him one of the 10 most important Bolsheviks and therefore, after 1917, one of the 10 most important men in Russia.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 31
Above all, Stalin’s rise as an effective administrator depended on his capacity for work, unrelenting and immensely varied. Here was a man, perhaps the only one at Lenin’s disposal, who could take on almost any kind of job, whether or not he had any background in the matter at hand, learn enough about it to make definite decisions under severe pressure of time and deal with the most pressing problems. The results were not necessarily ideal, but on balance they were successful, sometimes brilliantly so, and the principal thing was to maintain the offensive if possible, to substitute direction for drift.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 50
LIFE UNDER THE BOLSHEVIKS WAS DRASTICALLY BETTER THAN UNDER THE CZAR
It [the Revolution] destroyed the czarist autocracy. It disestablished Russian Orthodoxy (while at the same time founding a new orthodox faith in Marxism-Leninism, as Marxism according to Lenin later came to be called). It secularized and greatly liberalized the institution of marriage and family ties. It abolished the police-administered system of internal passports by which the old regime controlled the residence and movements of its subjects, and eliminated the Pale of Settlement (area of permitted residence) for Russia’s Jews. Within the centralized structure of the party-state it supplanted tsarism’s outright colonial rule and Russification policies in the outlying regions, inhabited mainly by non-Russian minorities, with at least the forms of governmental autonomy and a certain measure of linguistic and cultural autonomy. It sought wide popular participation in public affairs through the party-directed mass organizations. It proclaimed equality of the sexes and opened up opportunities for education and careers to people of heretofore lowly station and limited prospects. It publicized the czarist government’s wartime secret treaties and renounced their arrangements for further territorial aggrandizement.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 32
Between 1887 and 1898 the output of iron and steel almost trebled, and that of textiles doubled. The gross abuses which tend to characterize early stages of industrialization were rife: exploitation of female and child labor; enormously long hours; minimal wages; exposure to a rigorous climate; no guards on the machinery; frequent accidents with no compensation; heavy and capricious fines; housing in common barracks, or at worst, a place to sleep on the factory bench.
Bad sanitary conditions and excessive drinking were commonplace. One foreign engineer describes pre-revolutionary housing as having less than 300 square feet of floor space for more than 20 workers of both sexes and all ages–with windows that did not open.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 12
TROTSKY UNFAIRLY DESCRIBED STALIN’S ROLE IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE REVOLUTION
It was disingenuous of Trotsky to write of Stalin in those days [October 1917], “The cautious schemer preferred to stay on the fence at the crucial moment.” Each Bolshevik leader had a specific task assigned to him. Stalin’s was to stay away from the fighting, to be held in reserve.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 154
TROTSKY ALMOST UNDERMINED THE OCT. 1917 VOTE TO START THE REVOLUTION
On October 10, 1917, the historic meeting of the Central Committee of the Party took place at which it was decided to launch the armed uprising within the next few days….
Although at this meeting Trotsky did not vote against the resolution directly, he moved an amendment which would have reduced the chances of the uprising to nought and rendered it abortive. He proposed that the uprising should not be started before the Second Congress of Soviets met, a proposal which meant delaying the uprising, divulging its date, and forewarning the Provisional Government.
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 205
CERTAIN PARTY MEMBERS PROPOSED THAT OTHER PARTIES BE IN THE FIRST SOVIET GOVT
Certain notorious opportunists within the party–Kamenev, Zinoviev, Rykov, Shlyapnikov and others–also made a sally against the Soviet power. They demanded the formation of an “all-Socialist government” to include Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, who had just been overthrown by the October Revolution. On November 15, 1917, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party adopted a resolution rejecting agreement with these counter-revolutionary parties, and proclaiming Kamenev and Zinoviev strikebreakers of the revolution.
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 211
STALIN SAYS TROTSKY DID NOT PLAY A SPECIAL ROLE IN STARTING THE REVOLUTION
[In “Trotskyism or Leninism” Stalin stated] I am far from denying Trotsky’s undoubtedly important role in the uprising. I must say, however, that Trotsky did not play any special role in the October uprising, nor could he do so; being chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, he merely carried out the will of the appropriate Party bodies, which directed every step that Trotsky took. To Philistines like Sukhanov, all this may seem strange, but the facts, the true facts, wholly and fully confirm what I say.
…A practical center was elected for the organizational leadership of the uprising. Who was elected to this center? The following five: Sverdlov, Stalin, Dzerzhinsky, Bubnov, Uritsky. The functionss of the practical center: to direct all the practical organs of the uprising in conformity with the directives of the Central Committee.
Trotsky, was not elected to the practical center, which was called upon to direct the uprising. How is this to be reconciled with the current opinion about Trotsky’s special role?… for neither in the Party, nor in the October uprising, did Trotsky play any special role, nor could he do so, for he was a relatively new man in our Party in the period of October. He, like all the responsible workers, merely carried out the will of the Central Committee and of its organs…. This talk about Trotsky’s special role is a legend that is being spread by obliging “Party” gossips.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 6, p. 342-343
STALIN FILLED IN AS LEADER IN THE SUMMER OF 1917
But it is true that, although he did not appear before the masses, Stalin, alongside of Sverdlov, carried out in July and August extremely responsible work at headquarters, at conclaves and conferences, in contacts with the Petersburg Committee, and the like.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 213