VAST STRENGTH OF SU
The first mighty stimulus to the Soviet people’s courageous fighting is the public ownership of all the vast resources of 1/ 6 of the world.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 28
GROUPS ARE NEEDED TO MAKE DECISIONS
Single persons cannot decide. Experience has shown us that individual decisions, uncorrected by others, contain a large percentage of error.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 53
Indeed, Stalin’s stock phrase at the time was that not a single one of Lenin’s disciples was worthy of Lenin’s mantle and that only as a team could they aspire to leadership.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 298
The famous article by Stalin entitled “Dizziness from Success,” which appeared in Pravda on March 2, 1930, two months after the address to the Agrarian Marxists, and which called a sudden halt to the widespread excesses of Communist action in rural districts, was regarded by foreign correspondents and wide masses of peasants alike as an “order by Stalin.” Stalin himself immediately disclaimed any personal prestige therefrom accruing, stating publicly in the press: “Some people believe that the article is the result of the personal initiative of Stalin. That is nonsense, of course. The Central Committee does not exist in order to permit the personal initiative of anybody in matters of this kind. It was a reconnaissance undertaken by the Central Committee.” There is no need to assume, as many foreigners did, that this was a disingenuous disclaimer of personal rule. It was a very exact statement of fact.
Strong, Anna Louise. Dictatorship and Democracy in the Soviet Union. New York: International Pamphlets, 1934, p. 18
SOVIETS TREAT WOMEN AS EQUALS
…The famous “Red Amazons” and “Death Battalions” are fiction, not fact. But the Army medical services is full of women.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 115
Stalin took over a Party with scarcely 5% women–including a handful of real distinction, such as Krupskaya and Kollontai. He left the Party with over 21 percent women, all of them politically faceless.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 104
The wife of our host listened to her husband and made timid protests. One day when he was out, she opened her heart to us. “The Bolsheviks want to build up a new life; that can’t be done in a day.. But look, in the past women had no rights at all, they were proper slaves; the Bolsheviks have given us liberty, have made us the equals of men. That is what annoys my old man.”
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 42
MENNONITES PERSUADED TO LEAVE SU
Later the local farmers told me that German agents had been a factor in the sudden decision which seized large numbers of Mennonite farmers, German by descent, to “flea from the accursed atheist land.” Whole villages sold or merely abandoned their houses and cattle and came in hordes to Moscow, demanding the right to go abroad.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 124
CATHOLIC CHURCH SERVES REACTION
Third Meeting of Hoxha with Stalin
“The Vatican is a centre of reaction,” Comradely Stalin told me among other things, “It is a tool in the service of capital and world reaction, which supports this international organization of subversion and espionage. It is a fact that many Catholic priests and missionaries of the Vatican are old-hands at espionage on a world scale. Imperialism has tried and is still trying to realize its aims by means of them.”
Then he told me of what had happened once in Yalta with Roosevelt, with the representative of the American Catholic Church and others. During the talk with Roosevelt, Churchill and others on problems of the anti-Hitlerite war, they had said: We must no longer fight the Pope in Rome. What have you against him that you attack him?!
“I have nothing against him,” Stalin had replied.
“Then, let us make the Pope our ally,” they had said”, let us admit him to the coalition of the great allies.”
“All right”, Stalin had said, “but the anti-fascist alliance is an alliance to wipe out fascism and nazism. As you know, gentlemen, this war is waged with soldiers, artillery, machine-guns, tanks, aircraft. If the Pope or you can tell us what armies, artillery, machine-guns tanks and other weapons of war he possesses, let him become our ally. We don’t need an ally for talk and incense.”
After that, they had made no further mention of the question of the Pope, and the Vatican.
“Were there Catholic priests in Albania who betrayed the people?” Comrade Stalin asked me then.
“Yes,” I told him. “Indeed the heads of the Catholic Church made common cause with the nazi-fascist foreign invaders right from the start, placed themselves completely in their service and did everything within their power to disrupt our National Liberation War and perpetuate the foreign domination.”
“What did you do with them?”
“After the victory,” I told him, “we arrested them and put them on trial and they received the punishment they deserved.”
“You have done well,” he said.
Hoxha, Enver. With Stalin: Memoirs. Tirana: 8 N‘ntori Pub. House, 1979.
SOME CLERGY ARE PROGRESSIVE
Third Meeting of Hoxha with Stalin
“But were there others who maintained a good stand?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied, “especially clergymen of the Orthodox and Moslem religion.”
“What have you done with them?” he asked me.
“We have kept them close to us. In its First Resolution our Party called on all the masses, including the clergymen. to unite for the sake of the great national cause, in the great war for freedom and independence. Many of them joined us, threw themselves into the war and made a valuable contribution to the liberation of the Homeland. After Liberation they embraced the policy of our Party and continued the work for the reconstruction of the country. We have always valued and honored such clergymen, and some of them have now been elected deputies to the People’s Assembly or promoted to senior ranks in our army. In another case, a former clergyman linked himself so closely with the National Liberation Movement and the Party that in the course of the war he saw the futility of the religious dogma, abandoned his religion, embraced the communist ideology and thanks to his struggle, work and conviction we have admitted him to the ranks of the Party.
“Very good,” Stalin said to me. What more could I add? “If you are clear about the fact that religion is opium for the people and that the Vatican is a centre of obscurantism, espionage and subversion against the cause of the peoples, then you know that you should act precisely as you have done.”
Hoxha, Enver. With Stalin: Memoirs. Tirana: 8 N‘ntori Pub. House, 1979.
ANTI-RELIGION BATTLE SHOULD BE KEPT ON POLITICAL PLANE
Third Meeting of Hoxha with Stalin
“You should never put the struggle against the clergy, who carry out espionage and disruptive activities, on the religious plane,” Stalin said, “but always on the political plane. The clergy must obey the laws of the state, because these laws express the will of the working class and the working people. You must make the people quite clear about these laws and the hostility of the reactionary clergymen so that even that part of the population which believes in religion will clearly see that, under the guise of religion, the clergymen carry out activities hostile to the Homeland and the people themselves. Hence the people, convinced through facts and arguments, together with the Government, should struggle against the hostile clergy. You should isolate and condemn only those clergymen who do not obey the Government and commit grave crimes against the state. But, I insist, the people must be convinced about the crimes of these clergymen, and should also be convinced about the futility of the religious ideology and the evils that result from it.
Hoxha, Enver. With Stalin: Memoirs. Tirana: 8 N‘ntori Pub. House, 1979.
“You should never put the struggle against the clergy, who carry out espionage and disruptive activities, on the religious plane,” Stalin said, “but always on the political plane. The clergy must obey the laws of the state, because these laws express the will of the working-class and the working people…. But, I insist, the people must be convinced about the crimes of these clergyman, and should also be convinced about the futility of the religious ideology and the evils that result from it.”
Hoxha, Enver. The Artful Albanian. London: Chatto & Windus, 1986, p. 134
BOLSHEVIKS RULE BY MASS SUPPORT
This position of Stalin in relation to the Party was matched by the position of the Party in relation to the masses…. Since the moment when they [the Bolsheviks] first secured a majority in the Soviets prior to the November Revolution they have retained the confidence of the majority, or they could not have maintained power.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 173
“But if you take the progressive peasants and workers, not more than 15 percent are skeptical of the Soviet power, or are silent from fear or are waiting for the moment when they can undermine the Bolsheviks state. On the other hand, about 85 percent of the more or less active people would urge us further than we want to go. We often have to put on the brakes. They would like to stamp out the last remnants of the intelligentsia. But we would not permit that. In the whole history of the world there never was a power that was supported by nine tenths of the population as the Soviet power is supported.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 175
These characteristics of a Bolshevik party are far from being fully understood by supporters of the Soviet Union today. The Communist Party is continually being described as a small disciplined elite, ordering the people of the Soviet Union hither and thither for their own good. In short, the Soviet regime is pictured as the dictatorship of a Party.
This is a travesty which is unfortunately accepted by friends, as well as by enemies. In the remarks we have quoted above, Lenin is explaining to the Socialists of Western Europe that the Communist Party could only function on the basis of the confidence of the workers; that this confidence was not created by propaganda, but by people testing from their own experience the quality of the political leadership of the Party; that before any policy could be carried out, the Communist Party had to secure the co-operation of millions of people who were not Party members, who were not under Party discipline, who could not be coerced into co-operation, but who could only be convinced on the basis of their experience; and that further, if in the progress of the struggle a change of direction was necessary, not only the Party, but tens of millions of non-party people had to be convinced of the need for this change of direction and had to understand the methods of carrying it through.
In carrying out its activities, the Party rests on the trade unions and on the Soviets. Without the support of the 20 million trade unionists, without the support of the peasantry, organized in the Soviets and in the collective farms, the Party could not last for a week, for it is not the dictatorship of the Party, but a dictatorship of the working-class, in alliance with the peasantry.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 15-16
The British War Cabinet scheduled a meeting for July 29, 1919 to discuss the Russian situation. The news of Kolchak’s reverses emboldened those who had all along wanted an accommodation with Lenin. Their thinking was reflected in a memorandum submitted to the Cabinet by a Treasury official and banker named Harvey. The document grossly distorted the internal situation in Russia to press the argument for abandoning the White cause. Its basic premise held that in a Civil War the victory went to the side that enjoyed greater popular support, from which it followed that since Lenin’s government had beaten off all challengers it had to have the population behind it [the document stated]:
“It is impossible to account for the stability of the Bolshevik Government by terrorism alone…. When the Bolshevik fortunes seemed to be at the lowest ebb, a most vigorous offensive was launched before which the Kolchak forces are still in retreat. No terrorism, not even long suffering acquiescence, but something approaching enthusiasm is necessary for this. We must admit then that the present Russian government is accepted by the bulk of the Russian people.”
The pledge of the Whites immediately after victory to convene a Constituent Assembly meant little since there was no assurance that ” Russia, summoned to the polls, will not again return the Bolsheviks.” The unsavory aspects of Lenin’s rule were in good measure forced on him by his enemies:
“Necessity of state enables him to justify many acts of violence whereas in a state of peace his Government would have to be progressive or it would fall. It is respectfully contended that the surest way to get rid of Bolshevism, or at least to eradicate the vicious elements in it, is to withdraw our support of the Kolchak movement and thereby end the Civil War.”
Although the author did not explicitly say so, his line of argument led to the inescapable conclusion that support should also be withdrawn from Denikin and Yudenich.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 96
The very small number of active dissidents against the Soviet system has reflected their lack of support in the general population. All active dissidents have generally acknowledged that their ideas and activities are unpopular and elicit no responsive chords in the Soviet population. The Soviet system has a high degree of legitimacy among almost all of its citizens, as is readily admitted by virtually all of its critics both inside and outside the USSR. The legitimacy of the regime was greatly enhanced by the trauma of World War II and the heroic, and very bloody, victory over the Nazi invaders (which not only generated great feelings of solidarity and sacrifice, but also confirmed the national fear of foreign intervention which has lasted until today). The Communist Party’s successful industrialization and modernization program has also generated massive support for the Soviet system, as has the high rate of upward mobility and the considerable Soviet achievements in science, education, public-health, and other welfare services. Western Sovietologists (most of whom are not sympathizers of the Soviet system) essentially concede that there is widespread support for Soviet institutions among the Soviet people as a whole.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 274
UNDER STALIN STUDENTS GOT INTO UNIVERSITIES BY ABILITY ONLY NOT WEALTH
Students were admitted to the universities on the basis of ability only, and paid while they studied.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 176
CRITICS OF SU GET THEIR INFO FROM SOVIET SOURCES
Moreover, when these criticisms are published in the press, they provide the hostile foreigner with evidence of the apparent failure of Soviet communism. Indeed it is amusing to discover that nearly all the books that are now written proving that there is corruption, favoritism, and gross inefficiency in the management of industry and agriculture, are taken from reports of these discussions in the Soviet press, in Pravda, the organ of a Communist Party; in Isvestia, the organ of the government; in Trud, the organ of the trade union movement, and in many other local and specialist newspapers.
Webb, Sidney. The Truth about Soviet Russia. New York: Longmans, Green, 1942, p. 34
CRITICISM IS ENCOURAGED
As we have described previously, free criticism, however hostile it may be, is permitted, even encouraged, in the USSR, of the directors of all forms of enterprise, by the workers employed, or by the consumers of the commodities or services concerned.
Webb, Sidney. The Truth about Soviet Russia. New York: Longmans, Green, 1942, p. 74
Moscow, August 16, 1930–although “free speech” and a “free press” in the western sense are unknown in Soviet Russia, Moscow newspapers are now indulging in such a loud chorus of complaints, rebukes, and pessimism as has probably not been equaled since Jeremiah was the “official spokesman” of Israel. To read the newspapers one would suppose the country was headed straight to perdition.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 369
But it must not be assumed that the press is barren of criticism of the regime. Indeed, it is full of it–from Party meetings and in letters from the thousands of worker and peasant correspondents all over the Union. But it must all be helpful criticism, attacking bad administration or ill-advised regulations, and directed toward the upbuilding of Russia according to Soviet objectives. No criticism in opposition to the regime itself or its general program is tolerated.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 152
Former Mensheviks or Social Revolutionists, still numerous in the unions, are now not expelled even when critical. But their criticism must be “constructive,”–intended to remedy the evils and defects of the accepted system and program, not to attack its purposes….
But the general policy is to encourage “helpful” criticism and the fullest rank and file participation in solving industrial problems, a process not altogether easy in view of the relations of the unions to the State.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 169
I happened upon a village meeting way out in Moscow province called to receive the tax bills for the year brought over by a messenger from the county seat. For two hours I listened to as bitter and excited a denunciation of the government as I ever heard anywhere. The regime was roundly scored as a robber of peasants. There was not the slightest fear or limitation in speaking out. It even looked for a while as if the young messenger were to be mobbed. When they calmed down, with the appointment of a committee to take up their grievances, they found enough hope for the village solvency to vote money for new a fire apparatus and a new village bull. The meeting was convincing evidence of the lack of any fear of the government or of the police, and of a healthy resistance to what was to them injustice.
The offenses which the GPU controls have little relation to peasant life. I speak of that at the start to make it clear that the terrorism charged to the GPU does not exist for the masses of the Russian people.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 178
Thus, side-by-side with all the self-praise and glorification I have mentioned, the Soviet press throughout the war period carried sharp criticisms of party and state officials. Over a period of months I collected literally hundreds of items of this nature, covering a wide variety of activity. Probably the most numerous reprimands and warnings were addressed to officials responsible for weaknesses in the production system.
Slipshod methods of harvesting, which resulted in great losses of grain, were continuously criticized in specific regions. Individual officials caught in the wrongful use or appropriation of state property were singled out as examples. Instances of losses due to poor packing and shipment of manufactured goods were frequently cited, and engineers responsible for waste of metals and materials were upbraided. Outright thefts of materials and embezzlement of funds were exposed and cases of bribery of state employees were frequently reported in the Government and party press.
Blockheadedness, indifference to duty, and evasion of responsibility by officials and bureaucrats were the subject of many editorials and newspaper stories, in which individuals and localities were often mentioned by name. The detail into which these criticisms enter is frequently surprising….
…Other town fathers were rebuked for failing to provide adequate living quarters, for inhuman bureaucracy, for falsifying reports, for neglecting improvements in the school system, and so on.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 205
…Open criticism of different party branches for failure to accomplish their educational and organizational duties, in the rear and at the front, also, usually preceded or coincided with dismissals and new appointments. And from the extent of such criticism in the press it was evident that a process of change and reform was going on all the time.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 207
Stalin continued his criticism of party leaders by discussing another familiar topic: the “verification of fulfillment of decisions.”… Stalin stated, “There is still another kind of verification, the check-up from below, in which the masses, the subordinates, verify the leaders, pointing out their mistakes, and showing the way to correct them. This kind of verification is one of the most effective methods of checking up on people.”
Stalin stated, “Some comrades say that it is not advisable to speak openly of one’s mistakes, since the open admission of one’s mistakes may be construed by our enemies as weakness and may be used by them.
This is rubbish, comrades, downright rubbish. The open recognition of our mistakes and their honest rectification can, on the contrary, only strengthen our party, raise its authority in the eyes of the workers, peasants, and working intellectuals…. And this is the main thing. As long as we have the workers, peasants, and working intellectuals with us, all the rest will settle itself.”
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 146
That this Soviet patriotism excludes all criticism is, moreover, by no means the truth. “Bolshevist self-criticism” is certainly no empty expression. One reads in the newspapers a succession of most bitter attacks on numerous real or imaginary grievances and on prominent individuals, whose fault, allegedly, these grievances are; I was astonished at industrial meetings by the strength of the criticisms leveled at the managers of the industries, and I stood amazed before news posters which attacked or caricatured principals and responsible people with positive savagery. And foreigners are not prohibited from expressing their honest opinions. I have already mentioned that not only did the national newspapers leave my articles uncensored, even when I deplored certain intolerances or excessive Stalin-worship, or when I demanded more light on the conduct of an important political trial; what is more, they took pains to reproduce as faithfully as possible in the translation every nuance of these very passages, negative as they were. The prominent national personalities whom I met were without exception more interested in criticism than in indiscriminating praise. They like to measure their own achievement with that of the West, and they measure accurately, often all too accurately, and when their own work falls short of that of the West, they do not hesitate to admit it. Indeed they often overrate Western achievements to their own disadvantage. But when a foreigner indulges in petty and inconsequent fault-finding and loses sight of the value of the whole achievement in unimportant shortcomings, Soviet people quickly lose patience, while empty hypocritical compliments they can never forgive.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 40
Of course, criticism had been strongly encouraged during the purges, and local records contain plenty of it. The press strongly endorsed criticism from below at the end of 1938.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 161
The regime regularly urged people to criticize local conditions as well as leaders, at least those below an exalted level…. Pravda went so far as to identify lack of criticism with enemies of the people: “Only an enemy is interested in saying that we, the Bolsheviks… do not notice actual reality…. Only an enemy… strives to put the rose-colored glasses of self-satisfaction over the eyes of our people.” As the Zawodny materials and a mass of other evidence show, these calls were by no means merely a vicious sham that permitted only carefully chosen, reliable individuals to make “safe” criticisms.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 185
National authorities took a different view and encouraged criticism from below, primarily for three reasons. First, it was a check on the pretensions and behavior of local officials. Second, it was a way of getting some reliable information about performance. Given the penchant of Soviet administrators to lie about what was happening, frank statements were highly prized at the upper levels of government. Third, workers’ ability to criticize made them feel that they played a significant role in their own affairs and that their views were taken seriously. In short, the opportunity to express grievances increased workers’ sense that the Soviet system was legitimate. At the same time, national figures and institutions could convey the sense, not without reason, that they defended ordinary people against local despots.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 188
These criticisms and threats from below challenged newly appointed administrators, undercutting the assertion that criticism was allowed only against those the regime had already decided to remove. In another case, speakers at a union election meeting heavily scolded one of their officials, yet he received the most votes of anyone present in the selection of an important commission. Criticism was encouraged and sometimes staged from above, but it was also an everyday occurrence that came from the workers themselves.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 190
In these and many other cases, workers behaved proudly and aggressively toward superiors; they stood firmly on their rights.
… But like this book, the same investigation also shows that workers constantly took the trouble to protest to various organizations and periodicals, from which they demanded a thoughtful response. Alienated people do not bother to express their grievances in this way any more than they bother to vote.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 196
Nowhere in the world outside the USSR is there such a continuous volume of pitiless criticism of every branch of government, every industrial enterprise and every cultural establishment. This perpetual campaign of exposure, which finds expression in every public utterance of the leading statesmen, in every issue of the press, and in every trade union or corporate meeting, is not only officially tolerated, but also deliberately instigated, as powerful incentive to improvement, alike in direction and in execution. Thus, the public speeches by Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich, and other Soviet statesmen–in striking contrast with those of British, French or American statesmen–nearly always lead up to a tirade of criticism of some part of soviet administration. They usually begin with a glowing, and, as we may think, an optimistic account of the successful progress of the department or institution under discussion, of its remarkable achievements and of the valuable services of those working in it towards the “building of the socialist state.” This is rendered all the more alluring by a vision of the dismal failure of capitalism in Europe and America. But invariably the speaker descends presently to an outspoken criticism of the technical shortcomings of the particular enterprise, with a detailed exposure of its partial or temporary failures, and often a scathing denunciation of particular cases of slackness or waste or other inefficiency, and similar criticism is invited from below. Official speakers will often blame conferences and congresses for their failure to criticize their own superior councils and committees, as well as their own officials, for their shortcomings and their failures.
Webb, S. Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation. London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1947, p. 628
Stalin, the press, and the Stakhanovite movement all regularly encouraged ordinary people to criticize those in authority. At the very top, Stalin was certainly an unassailable figure, but during the Ezhovshchina anyone several rungs below him was fair game. If the citizenry was supposed to be terrorized and stop thinking, why encourage criticism and input from below on a large scale?
Thurston, Robert W. “On Desk-Bound Parochialism, Commonsense Perspectives, and Lousy Evidence: A Reply to Robert Conquest.” Slavic Review 45 (1986), 239.
it cannot be said, however, that the Kremlin abuses the terrific power of the press, the radio and Communist party effort. Stalin may not be one of the world’s great men in the sense that Lenin was, but he certainly “knows his politics” and has been careful to correct the dangers of unchallenged authoritative and unified control of public opinion by what is known as “self-criticism,” which is not the least interesting feature of the Stalinist system.
Self-criticism is the salt in the Soviet home propaganda pie. It enables any writer or speaker, high or low, to take a violent and enjoyable crack at almost any one or anything, provided he sticks to concrete facts or remains “objective,” as the Russians call it, and refrains from the unwisdom–or positive danger–of ideological criticism or covert attacks on the “party line” which will brand him with heresy and disgrace.
The Russians by nature have a streak of anarchic iconoclasm…and “self-criticism” gives then welcome relief from the stark rigidity of Stalinism, a relief no less delightful because it is apt to be dangerous. There has been cases when overzealous critics have been compelled to make ignominious retractions or have lost their jobs or even been expelled from the party.
But it is a splendid safety valve, none the less, and so widely used by the Moscow press in particular, which is closest, of course to the Kremlin, that a foreign observer often wonders whether everything is “going to the bowwows,” so long and grievous is the tale of mismanagement, waste and bureaucratic error…. The Communist Youth Pravade or an illiterate worker can sling a pebble at the Railroad Commissariat and get away with it if he only has got facts to back his charge.
Duranty, Walter. “Soviet Fixes Opinion By Widest Control,” New York Times, June 22, 1931.
SU CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES A JOB WHICH CAPITALISTS DON’T
Article 118: citizens of the USSR have the right to work, that is, the right to guarantee employment and payment for their work in accordance with its quantity and quality.
Constitution of the USSR. Moscow: Co-operative Pub. Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R., Chapter 10, 1936
The idea of the Soviets is founded on the right to work and the duty to work.
This categorical obligation, up to now imposed by no state on its citizens, is balanced through the equally new duty of the state: “The citizens of the union have the right to work, the right to be guaranteed a job and pay for their work, according to it’s value and amount. The right to work is assured through the socialistic system of economics.”
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 164
The Constitution also exacts certain duties from citizens. Every able-bodied citizen must work. The new Testament principle of “he who does not work shall not eat” is rigidly observed….
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 34
SU CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES A RIGHT TO REST
Article 119: citizens of the USSR have the right to rest.
The right to rest is insured by the reduction of the working day to seven hours for the overwhelming majority of the workers, the institution of annual vacations with pay for workers and other employees, and the provision of a wide network of sanatoria, rest homes, and clubs serving the needs of the working people.
Constitution of the USSR. Moscow: Co-operative Pub. Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R., Chapter 10, 1936
SU CONSTITUTION GUARATEES SECURE RETIREMENT AND MEDICAL CARE
Article 120: citizens of the USSR have the right to material security in old age, and also in case of sickness or loss of capacity to work.
This right is insured by the wide development of social insurance of workers and other employees at state expanse, free medical service for the working people, and the provision of a wide network of health resorts at the disposal of the working people.
Constitution of the USSR. Moscow: Co-operative Pub. Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R., Chapter 10, 1936
SU CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES FREE EDUCATION AND STIPENDS
Article 121: citizens of the USSR have the right to education. This right is insured by universal compulsory elementary education, by education free of charge including higher education, by a system of state’ stipends for the overwhelming majority of students in higher schools, by instruction in schools in the native language, and by the organization in factories, state Farms, machine tractor stations, and collective Farms of free industrial, technical, and agricultural education for the working people.
Constitution of the USSR. Moscow: Co-operative Pub. Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R., Chapter 10, 1936
SU CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES WOMEN EQUAL RIGHTS AND CHILD CARE
Article 122: Women in the USSR are accorded equal rights with men in all spheres of economic, state, cultural, social, and political life.
The realization of these rights of women is insured by affording women equality with men, the right to work, payment for work, rest, social insurance and education, and by state protection of the interests of mother and child, pregnancy leave with pay, and the provision of a wide network of maternity homes, nurseries, and kindergartens.
Constitution of the USSR. Moscow: Co-operative Pub. Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R., Chapter 10, 1936
SU CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
Article 124: in order to insure or to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the USSR shall be separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda shall be recognized for all citizens.
Constitution of the USSR. Moscow: Co-operative Pub. Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R., Chapter 10, 1936
SU CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES FREEDOM OF PRESS AND SPEECH TO WORKING CLASS
Article 125: in accordance with the interests of the working people, and in order to strengthen the socialist system, the citizens of the USSR are guaranteed by law: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and meetings, ( freedom of street processions and demonstrations.
These rights of citizens are insured by placing at the disposal of the working people and their organizations printing shops, supplies of paper, public buildings, the streets, means of communication, and other material requisites for the exercise of these rights.
Constitution of the USSR. Moscow: Co-operative Pub. Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R., Chapter 10, 1936
(Foreign Delegation’s Interview with Stalin on November 5, 1927)
QUESTION: Why is there no freedom of the Press in the USSR?
ANSWER: What freedom of the Press have you in mind? Freedom of the Press? For which class –the bourgeoisie or the proletariat? If it is a question of freedom of the Press for the bourgeoisie, then it does not and will not exist here as long as the Proletarian Dictatorship is in power. But if it is a question of freedom of the Press for the proletariat, then I must say that you will not find another country in the world where such broad and complete freedom of the Press exists as in the USSR. Freedom of the Press for the proletariat is not an empty phrase. And without the greatest freedom of assembly, without the best printing works, the best clubs, without free organizations of the working class, beginning with the narrow and ending with the broad organizations, embracing millions of workers, there is no freedom of the Press. Look at conditions in the USSR, survey the workers’ districts, and you will find that the best printing works, the best clubs, entire paper mills, entire ink factories, producing necessary material for the Press, huge assembly halls–these and many other things which are so necessary for the freedom of the Press of the working class, are entirely and fully at the disposal of the working class and the toiling masses. This is what we call freedom of the Press for the working class. We have no freedom of the Press for the bourgeoisie. We have no freedom of the Press for the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries, who represent the interests of the beaten and overthrown bourgeoisie. But what is there surprising in that? We have never pledged ourselves to grant freedom of the Press to all classes, and to make all classes happy. Taking power in October, 1917, the Bolsheviks openly declared that this Government is a government of one class, a government of the proletariat, which will subdue the bourgeoisie, in the interests of the toiling masses of town and country representing the overwhelming majority of the population of the USSR. How can one, after this, demand from the Proletarian Dictatorship freedom of the Press for the bourgeoisie?
Stalin, Joseph. The Worker’s State. London: Communist Party of Great Britain. 1928, p. 6
STALIN SAVED THE SOVIET PEOPLE BY PUSHING THEM
Had the party under Stalin not driven the Soviet people, by terrific pressure and incessant appeals, to prodigious and costly feats of construction and production, and had it not smashed ruthlessly the conspiracies of the 1930’s, the Soviet Union and all the United Nations would have suffered irreparable defeat in World War II at the hands of insanely savage foes who in the end would have left the vanquished without eyes for weeping and without tongues for protest or lamentation.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 198
The Communists do not merely reflect the will of the masses, as a ballot might, or a showing of hands. They do not merely analyze what the “majority want” and hand it out. It is their job to lead, to organize the people’s will. No group of unurged soldiers would ever vote to storm a trench. Certainly the workers of the Soviet Union would not have voted, un urged, unled, for the hardships of the Five-Year Plan of rapid industrialization taken out of their own food and comforts, for the painful speed of farm collectivization without adequate machines or organizers. But when the Communist Party analyzed, urged and demanded, showing the world situation and the need of making the USSR well prepared industrially and for defense, showing the enemy classes which must be abolished to attain the goal of a socialist state, they were able to find, organize and create, deep in the heart of the masses, a will that carried through. Without that will in tens of millions, the 3 million [party members] could have done little.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 104
During the decade from 1930 to 1940 some 200 industrial aggregates of all kinds were constructed and put into operation in the Urals. This herculean task was accomplished thanks to the political sagacity of Joseph Stalin and his relentless perseverance in forcing through the realization of his construction program despite fantastic costs and fierce difficulties.
Scott, John. Behind the Urals, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1942, p. 256
…The reconstruction effort, added to the increased capacity which had been developed in the Urals and Siberia during the war, insured that by the time of Stalin’s death the Soviet industrial infrastructure had recovered from the ravages of the war.
Gill, Graeme. Stalinism. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1990, p. 43
MOLOTOV: We demanded great sacrifices from workers and peasants before the war. We paid little to peasants for bread or cotton or their labor–we simply had nothing to pay with! What to pay? We are reproached–we didn’t think of the material interests of the peasants. Well, if we had, we would have wound up in a dead end. We didn’t have enough money for cannons!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 27
A first-class industry had to be created. This industry had to be so directed as to be capable of technically reorganizing not only industry, but also our agriculture and our railway transport. And for this it was necessary to make sacrifices and to impose rigorous economy in everything; it was necessary to economize on food, on schools and on textiles, in order to accumulate the funds required for the creation of industry. There was no other way of overcoming the famine in technical resources. Thus Lenin taught us, and in this matter we followed in the footsteps of Lenin….
Well then, there were comrades among us who were scared by the difficulties and began to call on the Party to retreat. They said: “What is the good of your industrialization and collectivization, your machines, iron and steel industry, tractors, combines, automobiles? It would be better if you gave us more textiles, if you bought more raw materials for the production of consumers’ goods and gave the population more of the small things which adorn the life of man. The creation of industry, and a first-class industry at that, when we are so backward, is a dangerous dream.”
Of course, we could have used the 3 billion rubles of foreign currency obtained as a result of the severest economy, and spent on the creation of our industry, for the importation of raw materials and for increasing the production of articles of general consumption. That is also a kind of “plan.” But with such a “plan” we should not have had a metallurgical industry, or a machine-building industry, or tractors and automobiles, or airplanes and tanks. We should have found ourselves unarmed in the face of the external foe. We should have undermined the foundations of Socialism in our country. We should found ourselves in captivity to the bourgeoisie, home and foreign.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 95-96
He [Stalin] ‘built socialism’; and even his opponents, while denouncing his autocracy, admitted that most of his economic reforms were indeed essential for socialism.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 361
KAGANOVICH SAYS ALL POWER IS IN CLIQUE’S HANDS IN CAPITALIST COUNTRIES
Speaking in Tashkent, where he stood for election, Kaganovich assured his auditors (Pravda December 10, 1937) that no real popular rule was possible in the bourgeois countries where all power is in the hands of “a few hundred millionaires, bankers, factory owners….”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 319
STALIN DESCRIBES REAL LIBERTY
“Real liberty,” declared Stalin to Roy Howard in 1936, “can be had only where exploitation is destroyed, where there is no oppression of one people by another, where there is no unemployment and pauperism, where a person does not shiver in fear of losing tomorrow his job, home, bread. Only in such a society is it possible to have real, and not paper, liberty, personal and otherwise.”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 326
My own prejudices are amply conveyed by the title of this book. Though over half of it is devoted to a description of the controls by the Soviet state, I have chosen to call it Liberty under the Soviets because I see as far more significant the basic economic freedom of workers and peasants and the abolition of privileged classes based on wealth;…
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 2
For although I am an advocate of unrestricted civil liberty as a means to effecting even revolutionary changes in society with a minimum of violence, I know that such liberty is always dependent on the possession of economic power. Economic liberty underlies all others. In any society civil liberties are freely exercised only by classes with economic power–or if by other classes, only at times when the controlling class is too secure to fear opposition.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 3
Such an attitude as I express toward the relation of economic to civil liberty may easily be construed as condoning in Russia repressions which I condemn in capitalist countries. It is true that I feel differently about them, because I regard them as unlike. Repressions in western democracies are violations of professed constitutional liberties, and I condemn them as such. Repressions in Soviet Russia are weapons of struggle in a transition period to socialism. The society the Communists seek to create will be freed of class struggle–if achieved–and therefore of repression.
I see no chance for freedom from the repressions which mark the whole western world of political democracy save through abolishing economic class struggle.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 4
Though I found a few opponents who were fearful of speaking out, and many cautioned me not to quote them, I found nowhere such universal fear as marks opponents of the dictatorships in Italy or Hungary…. Speech is fairly free everywhere in Russia. What the authorities land on is any attempt at organized opposition.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 9
That civil liberties, generally speaking, have not existed in fact for any classes except those with economic or political power is usually ignored by those who proclaim their validity as social principles.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 18
…No one who has seen the new life in Russian villages can doubt the feeling of liberty, of released effort and of hope which marks the active peasants–save for the ambitious well-to-do class (the Kulaks) who resist the new order because it restricts their freedom to hire labor and rent land.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 25
INTELLECTUALS AND SCIENTISTS IN SU ARE FREE
Foreign critics readily conclude that the Soviet intelligentsia is in helpless bondage and consists of sycophantic automatons, reduced to complete sterility. Nothing could be farther from the truth. No government anywhere at any time has done more than the USSR to promote art and science by providing facilities for training, work, and publication, and by giving scientists and artists economic security through regular salaries plus generous rewards for achievement through royalties, prizes, and numerous privileges. That this policy has paid dividends in shown by the striking accomplishments of Soviet music, drama, cinema, and literature as well as the biological and physical sciences. Yet all of the contributors have lacked “freedom” in the Western sense. And since freedom is commonly viewed in the West as the sine qua non of productivity, the enigma of Soviet culture seems to many quite inexplicable, particularly to those given to compiling cases (and there had been many) of Soviet intellectuals who have been dismissed, degraded, or even purged for political non-conformity.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 332
STALIN SAYS THOSE WITH PARTY CARDS ABUSE THE PRIVILEGE
Zhdanov stated on March 18, 1939, “It has been repeatedly pointed out by Lenin and Stalin that a bureaucrat with a Party card in his pocket is the most dangerous and pernicious kind of bureaucrat, because, possessing a Party card, he imagines that he may ignore Party and Soviet laws and the needs and interests of the working people.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 347-48
TRAITS OF GOOD PARTY LEADERS
Other life histories of the highest ranking party leaders serve to confirm the pattern already suggested…. All in varying agree share with Stalin and their colleagues those traits and experiences which, thus far, are the prerequisites of political eminence in the USSR: peasant or proletarian origin, poverty stricken youth, little formal education, much informal education in the school of hard knocks, early conversion to the cause, fame won in revolutionary education and organization, and a generous measure of vision, courage, unflagging energy, relentless determination, and genius for holding many jobs simultaneously and for directing and inspiring subordinates to perform the impossible. These leaders are not fawning yes-men or wordy agitators or arbitrary bureaucrats, but hard-driving executives.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 357
In a speech to the Active Workers of the Moscow Organization of the CPSU (April 1928) Voroshilov quotes Stalin as having said, “To sit at the helm and keep watch, seeing nothing until some calamity overtakes us–this is no kind of leadership. Bolshevism does not interpret leadership in this way. To lead means to foresee; and to foresee, comrades, is not always so simple. It is one thing when a dozen other leading comrades keep watch and notice defects in our work; but the working masses do not want to keep watch, or cannot do so; they therefore do not notice the defects.”
Life of Stalin, A Symposium. New York: Workers Library Publishers, 1930, p. 45
…wherein lies the art of leadership.
“The art of leadership,” Stalin wrote, “is a serious matter. One must not lag behind the movement, because to do so is to become isolated from the masses. But neither must one rush ahead, for to rush ahead is to lose contact with the masses. He who wants to lead a movement and at the same time keep in touch with the vast masses must wage a fight on two fronts–against those who lag behind and against those who rush on ahead.”
Alexandrov, G. F. Joseph Stalin; a Short Biography. Moscow: FLPH, 1947, p. 111
Stalin has himself given what is probably the best characterization of what he tries to do in these words: “The art of leadership is a serious matter. One must not straddle behind a movement, nor run in front of it, lest one become in both cases separated from the masses. Whoever wants to lead and at the same time maintain his contact with the masses must fight on two fronts; against those loitering in the rear, and those speeding on ahead.”
Again, in April 1928, before the Moscow organization of the party, he declared that leaders often think they are watching but see nothing “until some calamity overtakes them–this is no kind of leadership. Bolshevism does not interpret leadership in this way. To lead means to foresee; and to foresee, Comrades, is not always so simple.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 13
[in a letter to Kaganovich on 11 August 1932 Stalin stated] Lenin was right in saying that a person who does not have the courage to swim against the current when necessary cannot be a real Bolshevik leader….
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 180
LENIN FIRST WANTED TO EQUALIZE INCOMES
Meanwhile, during the protracted socialist “transition” to communism, the equality of incomes is not, and never was, contemplated, since men and women differ markedly in their capacities to contribute to the welfare of the Commonwealth. Lenin toyed for a time, to be sure, with the notion of a moderate leveling of incomes. Under “War Communism,” and to a lesser extent under the NEP, wage and salary scales were influenced by this idea. Once the building of socialism was embarked upon in earnest, however, the gap between the best paid and the worst paid grew ever greater.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 575
SU ABOLISHED PRIVATE PROPERTY AND EXPLOITATION
What distinguishes Soviet society from all others, past and present, is not the allocation of income but the distribution and form of ownership of property…. No one in the USSR owns corporate stocks or bonds, or possesses tangible property (save houses and gardens and objects of personal use), or leases real estate for private rentals, or employs labor to produce services or goods exclusively for personal profit. If a “ruling class” be defined as a group at the peak of the social hierarchy, possessed of maximum deference, income, and power by virtue of private ownership of productive property, then the USSR has none and is already a truly “classless” society. The socialization of the means of production signifies the end of the propertied classes which, in their various forms, have controlled all hitherto existing societies.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 578
ALL WANT TO LIVE IN LUXURY WITHOUT WORK AND THAT THE SU ABOLISHES
But what is impossible for the Soviet intelligentsia is to become a propertied class or a leisure class living on unearned income. These are the earmarks of every landed aristocracy. To live without labor is the dream of every Western businessman, indeed the secret hope of almost all men and women everywhere, since the species is allergic to work, craves luxuries, preferably on a silver platter, and prefers a horizontal to a vertical position whenever possible. The pecuniary elites of the West consist in part of hard-working and hard driving executives and managers, and in part of idle rich. The latter indulge in conspicuous consumption and live without work by virtue of astute selection of ancestors, schools, colleges, fraternity brothers, wives/or business associates, affording access to adequate quantities of unearned increments.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 580
SU ELIMINATES LEISURE WITHOUT WORK BY OWNING PRIVATE PROPERTY
In the USSR, for better or for worse, leisure is all too scarce and no such group exists, or can come into being, so long as productive property may not be privately bought and sold, and so long as industrial capital is not raised by selling shares to individuals with private savings from which they hope to derive income without effort.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 581
WEALTHY SOVIET ELITE DOES NOT EXIST
“Striking it rich” is impossible. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is bad form. Excelling the Ivanoviches in socialist competition to cut production costs, increase output, and raise profits beyond the Plan is always the order of the day. Conspicuous success in such endeavors means prizes, bonuses, honors, and fame.
This elite bears little resemblance to any known aristocracy, plutocracy, or theocracy.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 581
No private person may legitimately make a penny of profit out of this system of state and cooperative industry and trade, banking and transport. There are no individual shareholders in the state industrial enterprises; and the financial columns of the Russian newspapers are restricted to brief quotations of the rates of the state loans. All the normal means of acquiring large personal fortunes are thus pretty effectively blocked up in Russia; and if there are some Nepmen, or private traders who have become ruble millionaires through lucky dealings in commerce or speculation, they are certainly neither a numerous nor a conspicuous class.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 131
The new class of state managers, or “red directors” of factories, who have replaced the former capitalist owners, are mostly Communists and former workers. But by the very nature of their position they must look at industrial life from a rather different angle from that of the workers. Although they make no personal profit out of the enterprises which they manage, they are supposed to turn in a profit for the state.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 174
But the general view of the Social Democratic and Anarchist critics of the Soviet regime, that there is a deep rift between a few Communist officeholders at the top and the working masses at the bottom, is, in my opinion, distorted, exaggerated, and quite at variance with the actual facts of the Russian situation.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 177
The difference in the standard of life is only determined by the ability of the single man. The external glamour of life, enjoyed in all other countries by a few big businessmen or rich heirs, has been sacrificed to a feeling of security guaranteed by no other state to its citizens. In order to remove the fear of the vacuum endured by 90% of the citizens, the enjoyment of the other 10% must be curtailed. Then the worker will not be filled any more by hate and jealousy, nor the owner by hate and fear of revolts.
Such a state without classes must necessarily be a state without races. Privileges for any race or color are explicitly denied by the Constitution.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 167
On the whole the men who remain in top leadership are the ablest of the 12 million government employees. Although shouldering more responsibility they do not receive salaries anywhere near as large as those of corporation presidents in the United States. They do receive decorations and they may have cities named after them. They are all provided with automobiles, expense accounts and good houses or apartments.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 39
Even more important than these liberties is the fact that they labor not for the private profit of employers (save for the small proportion employed in private industry), but for the profit of the whole community. State industries, like private, must show a profit to keep going, but the public use of that profit robs it of the driving force of exploitation.
The liberties enjoyed by workers in Russia, whether or not in unions (less than 10 percent are outside), go far beyond those of workers in other countries, not only in their participation in controlling working conditions and wages, but in the privileges they get as a class. The eight-hour day is universal in practice, alone of all countries in the world, with a six-hour day in dangerous occupations like mining. Reduction of the eight-hour day to seven hours is already planned for all industries. Every worker gets a two-week vacation with pay, while office workers and workers in dangerous trades, get a month. No worker can be dismissed from his job without the consent of his union. His rent, his admission to places of entertainment or education, his transportation–all these he gets at lower prices than others. When unemployed he gets a small allowance from his union, free rent, free transportation, and free admission to places of entertainment and instruction. Education and medical aid are free to all workers–or for small fees–extensive services being especially organized for and by them.
…There is in Russia no privileged class based on wealth. Practically all rents for land or buildings are paid to the state or to cooperatives; only a little of it goes to line private pockets. Money may be loaned at simple interest, the rate being limited. Money deposited with the state earns a rate of interest even higher than in capitalist countries. But nobody is getting rich off the interest on his savings and loans, for all incomes are both limited at their source, and, when much above the average, are heavily taxed. Persons with higher incomes are also obliged to pay higher prices for some necessities–especially rent. Inheritance of property is now theoretically unlimited, but so heavily taxed as in effect to destroy all above a moderate amount.
The new bourgeoisie, which has grown-up with the new economic policy–private traders, richer peasants…–is too small to constitute a noteworthy exception to the general absence of a wealthy class. And they are being increasingly restricted, despite the assertions to the contrary by the Communist Opposition and others. The statistics of private versus public enterprises show it. Earnings and incomes throughout Soviet Russia vary from the minimum of bare subsistence, 15 or 20 rubles a month, to 10 or 15 times that amount. Few incomes run above that figure (300 rubles a month, $150), the highest in all Russia being those of a few concessionaires and foreign specialists on salaries ($5000-$10,000). Even the few traders and concessionaires who have gotten rich are unable to invest money productively in Russia, except in state loans. None can be invested for exploitation. There is practically no chance for anyone to get rich under the Soviet system except a comparatively few traders, concessionaires, or the winners of some of the big state lotteries–and it is hard for any of them to stay rich under the heavy taxation.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 29-30
…Even to tourists in Russia the absence of any moneyed class is at once apparent…. No fine shops, no gay restaurants, no private motors–none of the trappings of wealth that lend color and variety to the life of bourgeois countries. Instead, a somewhat monotonous drabness and shabbiness, more than compensated for by the thought of its significance to the masses.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 30
And to anyone who accepts the view of social action as a struggle of classes, the political democracy of capitalist countries is only an instrument for the rule in the last analysis of a comparatively small class–the big property owners.
…Tested by it, the Soviet system clearly represents the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population–the workers and peasants–as opposed to propertied classes,…
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 35
One should keep in mind, however, that big incomes are still extremely rare. Earning power may vary in the Soviet Union, according to artistic or technical proficiency, but the extremes, as Louis Fisher has pointed out, are very close. No such “spread” is conceivable in the USSR as exists in Britain or America between say, a clerk in a factory and its owner. Among all the 165 million Russians, there are probably not ten men who earn $25,000 per year.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 567
SOCIALISM RESTORED NATIONAL MEANING AND REMOVED LEISURE CLASS
Despite the blundering and cruelty which are constant companions of all pioneers, the adventure has led to 2 interdependent results which are pearls without price amid the self stultifications and social schizophrenia of other industrial societies.
One is the cure of the mass neuroses of our time through the re-generation of personality around community values and purposes which afford escape from loneliness and, ultimately, from the class snobberies and mass envies characteristic of deeply divided societies.
The other is the cure of economic paralysis and stagnation, with their concomitants of wholesale insecurity, frustration, and aggression, through the building of an institutional framework wherein all who are willing to work may find productive employment in a constantly expanding economy.
The unpardonable sin of the Russian Revolution has been the liquidation of the old leisure class and the imposition of limitations on ownership which make the emergence of a new leisure class all but impossible.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 582
In the end it became clear that the whole economic system should be run by the State.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 206
SU DICTATORSHIP WAS NECESSARY AND SUCCESSFUL FOR WORKERS
“Dictatorship” in Soviet society is not a means (save in isolated instances, flowing from abuses of power) whereby a privileged and parasitic oligarchy exploits the community to its own advantage. Neither is it a formula for ” tyranny,” Nor an institutionalization of the corruption which often goes with absolute power. It is rather the means of integrating elite and mass, preserving the true faith, promoting high morale and group purpose, maintaining discipline and elan, and evolving and administering the broad All Union directives for serving the general welfare and the common defense. Soviet planning involves cooperation and collaboration by millions at all levels and stages of the process. But the necessary continuity, crusading fervor, and coordination from a common center are supplied, and at present can only be supplied, by maintaining the Party’s monopoly of legality and leadership.
Only those observers who are invincibly ignorant, or blinded by irrational fear and hatred, will deny that the Soviet system of business and power has, for all its abuses and crudities, promoted the liberation of men from impoverishment, exploitation, illiteracy, and prejudice and served the cause of human dignity and self respect on an immense scale. These purposes are of the essence of the Democratic dream. In this sense the USSR is a Democratic polity–in its ends and in its achievements, if not always in its means.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 585
The harsh word “dictatorship” is not pleasant. Nevertheless, in the West they are getting used to it. But it is being falsified there; they [presumably the Euro-Communist movement] don’t comprehend that without the dictatorship of the proletariat, they will never be able to move forward. However much they babble, the truth remains: either remain slaves of capitalism or, if you want to wrench yourself free, it is possible only with the aid of the dictatorship.
It is not by chance that in the theory of the state there is no room for “state of all the people.” Nowhere has it ever existed in reality.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 398
Poland and certain other states show that the concept of the “state of all the people” is not a particularly sound one.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 395
A state of all the people does not and cannot exist.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 404
The Soviet Union would never have been able to achieve what it has achieved if it had indulged in a parliamentary democracy according to the West European conception. The establishment of socialism would never have been possible with an unrestricted right to abuse. No government, constantly attacked in parliament and in the press and dependent on the result of elections, could ever have been able to impose on the population the hardships which alone made this establishment possible, and, faced with the alternatives either of using up a very great part of their strength in parrying foolish and malicious attacks, or of bending the whole of this strength to the completion of the structure, the leaders of the Union decided to restrict the right to abuse.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 66
STALIN BELIEVES DECISIONS SHOULD BE MADE BY GROUPS
Stalin is not an an arrogant man, although he is master and lord of a large and populous country. In meetings of the Politburo, he never says as Lenin used to say, “Here is the way things are and here is what we must do. If any of you have better ideas and can prove to me they are better, go-ahead.” Stalin doesn’t act like that. He says, “Here is the problem, and perhaps one of us” — say, Voroshilov, if it’s a military matter, or Mikoyan if its commerce, or Kaganovich for industry–“will tell us what he thinks.” After that, there is general discussion while Stalin sits and listens. He may lead the conversation as a lawyer can “lead” a witness, but when the decision is reached it is, or appears to be, a joint not a single decision.
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc., 1941, p. 35
For Stalin, whatever his later practice, gave the classic expression of the danger of individual decision, unchecked by collective thought. When Emil Ludwig, and later Roy Howard, sought to learn how “the great man made decisions,” Stalin impatiently replied: “With us, individuals cannot decide…. Experience has shown us that individual decisions, uncorrected by others, have a large percentage of error.” He added that the success of the USSR came about because the best brains in all areas–science, industry, farming, world affairs–were combined in the Central Committee, through which decisions were made.
This standard he, more than anyone, instilled in the Soviet people. For he always acted “through channels” and after building majorities….
In all my years in the USSR, I never heard them speak of “Stalin’s decision” or “Stalin’s orders,” but only of “government orders” or “the Party line,” which are collectively made. When speaking of Stalin, they praised his “clearness,” his “analysis.” They said: “he does not think individually.” By this, they meant that he thought not in isolation but in consultation with the brains of the Academy of Science, the chiefs of industry, and trade unions.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 22
It was nothing but the exceptional attitude adopted by Trotsky, whose public position had been a considerable one by Lenin’s side, and who showed a tendency to place himself above the Central Committee, that brought the question of “the leadership” up before the Fourteenth Congress. To Trotsky’s exuberant personality Stalin opposed the principle of Community-leadership. He declared: “One cannot direct the party without colleagues. It is absurd to think that we can. And now that we have lost Lenin it is stupid even to speak about it. Common labor, collective leadership, a united front and unity among the Central Committee, with, as a vital condition, the subordination of the minority to the majority, are what we really need at the present time.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 149
Not so very long ago, Stalin said to a foreign visitor who was anxious, as are all intelligent tourists in the USSR (particularly those who visit important Soviet personalities), to go closely into this question of personal power in the Workers’ and Peasants’ State (looking meaningly at Stalin): “No, one must make no individual decision. Individual decisions are always, or nearly always, biased. In every association, in every community, there are people to whose opinions heed must be paid. In every association, in every community, there are also men who may express erroneous opinions. Experience of three Revolutions has shown us that out of 100 individual decisions which have not been examined and corrected collectively, 90 are biased. The leadership organization of our Party in the Central Committee, which directs all the Soviet and communist organizations, consists of about 70 people and it is among those 70 members of the Central Committee that are to be found our best technicians, our cleverest specialists and the men who best understand every branch of our activities. It is in this Supreme Council that the whole wisdom of our Party is concentrated. Each man is entitled to challenge his neighbor’s individual opinion or suggestion. Each man may give the benefit of his own experience. If it were otherwise, if individual decisions were admitted, there would be serious mistakes in our work. But because each one may correct the errors of all the others and everyone considers these corrections seriously, our decisions have hitherto been as correct as it is possible for them to be.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 150
There was no question of personal dictatorship by Stalin in those days [after Lenin died]; to the contrary, Stalin came forward as the advocate of collective leadership. He accused Trotsky of seeking to assume one-man rule and supported Zinoviev and Kamenev in their attacks on Trotsky.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 85
When, at the Fourteenth Party Congress, Kamenev accused Stalin to his face of trying to set up one-man rule, Stalin blandly replied:
“To lead the party otherwise than collectively is impossible. Now that Ilich is not with us, it is silly to dream of such a thing [applause]. It is silly to talk about it. Collective work, collective leadership, unity in the party, unity in the organs of the Central Committee, with the minority submitting to the majority–that is what we need now.”
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 183
AVERAGE RUSSIAN THINKS HE IS FREER THAN AMERICANS
It is one of the strangest things, that the average Soviet Russian honestly believes that the system under which he lives, which we consider a tyranny, or dictatorship, or totalitarian regime, or anything save freedom–the average Russian thinks that his regime is freer than “the plutocratic oligarchy” (as he terms it) under which, he says, Americans live, move, and have their being. That’s what the Russian says, and that’s what the Russian thinks, and he doesn’t believe in our freedoms, but he does believe in his own. It’s amazing, but that’s how it is.
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 161
When one talks with Soviet people on the subject [freedom], they maintain that they alone possess effective democracy and that it exists in the so-called democratic countries in form only. And they ask how, if democracy means government by the people, the people can exercise this government if they are not in possession of the means of production. In the so-called democratic countries, they assert, the people are rulers in name only and not in fact; the power is actually in the hands of those who have control of the means of production. To what, they ask again, is this so-called democratic freedom reduced if one examines it more closely? It is confined to the freedom of railing with impunity against the government and the opposing political parties and being able, once in every three or four years, to throw a little piece of paper into a ballot box without being spied upon. But nowhere do these “liberties” afford a guarantee or even a possibility that the will of the majority will really be carried out. What can be done with freedom of opinion, of the press, of meetings, if one has no control over the press, printing-works, and meeting halls? And in what country have the people control over those things? Where can be people express their opinions effectively and where find effective representation?… And, the Soviet people conclude, all so-called democratic liberties will remain fictitious so long as they are not founded upon the true freedom of the people, which can exist only when the means of production are under the control of the community.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 58
I myself have held democratic liberties dear for most of my life, and freedom of opinion and of the press was to me, as to any author, very precious…. This democratic conviction of mine received its first blow during the War, when I was made to realize that, despite all democracy, war was continued against the will of the majority of the people. In the years after the War, the gaps in the usual democratic constitutions became more and more evident to me, and today I incline towards the opinion that constitutional civil liberties are more or less a decoy to enable the will of a small minority to be carried out.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 61
FEW SUPPORT THE LIVING CHURCH
On the other hand, though it may be reckoned that fully seven-tenths of the clergy and religious laity favor reform, it is doubtful whether more than a tenth is willing to support the “Living Church,” which the majority [of the clergy] regards as having sold itself for a mess of Bolshevik pottage.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 63
COMMUNISTS PROVIDE HONEST LEADERSHIP
In a country rotten with corruption the communists are honest. In a country where they are all-powerful they live meagerly and, like Lenin, work themselves beyond the limit of physical endurance. So they tried to resusitate Russian industry despite the handicaps of civil and foreign war, treachery, and incompetence.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 90
John Reed brings as back to the human reality of the revolution…. Reed helps to show us how petty and how wrong is the scurrilous gossip-column approach to history, which depicts these leaders as self-serving conspirators mad for power for power’s sake and each driven by personal ambition. Not, of course, that personal ambitions were absent, but they were minuscule parts of an overwhelming collective dedication to the revolution. And the spirit in which these men met, as even the scanty minutes reveal, was essentially one of good comradeship, in spite of some differences between them.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 34
Finally, if Soviet society had been so shaken by the trials and purges and so corrupted as Khrushchev, Conquest, and Medvedev imply, the USSR could not have won the war. Only a basically sound society could have achieved such a feat, a feat which required national cooperation, initiative, and morale.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 133
“Politics based on principles are the only honest ones,” said Stalin, repeating Lenin. That is the declaration of basic principle, the major precept which, as Stalin again says, “Enables one to storm impregnable positions.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 16
…Dzerzhinsky himself was a revolutionary ascetic, known to be morally incorruptible and dedicated absolutely to the revolutionary cause.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 5
As we were traveling back to Moscow, on the road, Stalin stopped the car for some fresh air. Vacationers with their children immediately surrounded Stalin. Stalin asked Vlasik to go and get some candies in order to give to the children. Vlasik went to this Georgian man who was running a kiosk, got the candies, and gave them out to the children, while the parents were discussing every subject imaginable with Stalin.
At night where we rested, Stalin asked Vlasik:
Did you pay the man for the candies?
No, I did not have the time.
Return immediately to the kiosk and pay the man the money that we owe him!
The kiosk man was very proud that he had sold candy to comrade Stalin.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 54
I confess that I approached Stalin with a certain amount of suspicion and prejudice. A picture had been built up in my mind of a very reserved and self-centered fanatic, a despot without vices, a jealous monopolizer of power. I had been inclined to take the part of Trotsky against him. I had formed a very high opinion perhaps an excessive opinion, of Trotsky’s military and administrative abilities, and it seemed to me that Russia, which is in such urgent need of directive capacity at every turn, could not afford to send them into exile. Trotsky’s Autobiography, and more particularly the second volume, had modified this judgment but I still expected to meet a ruthless, hard–possibly doctrinaire–and self-sufficient man at Moscow; a Georgian highlander whose spirit had never completely emerged from its native mountain glen.
… Everything I had heard in favor of the First Five Year Plan I had put through a severely skeptical sieve, and yet there remained a growing effect of successful enterprise. I had listened more and more greedily to any first-hand gossip I could hear about both these contrasted men. I had already put a query against my grim anticipation of a sort of Bluebeard at the center of Russian affairs. Indeed if I had not been in reaction against these first preconceptions and wanting to get nearer the truth of the matter, I should never have gone again to Moscow.
Wells, Herbert George. Experiment in Autobiography. New York: Macmillan. 1934, p. 684
All lingering anticipations of a dour sinister Highlander vanished at the sight of him. He is one of those people who in a photograph or painting become someone entirely different. He is not easy to describe, and many descriptions exaggerate his darkness and stillness. His limited sociability and a simplicity that makes him inexplicable to the more consciously disingenuous, has subjected him to the strangest inventions of whispering scandal. His harmless, orderly, private life is kept rather more private than his immense public importance warrants, and when, a year or so ago, his wife died suddenly of some brain lesion, the imaginative [people] spun a legend of suicide which a more deliberate publicity would have made impossible. All such shadowy undertow, all suspicion of hidden emotional tensions, ceased forever, after I had talked to him for a few minutes.
My first impression was of a rather commonplace-looking man dressed in an embroidered white shirt, dark trousers and boots, staring out of the window of a large, generally empty, room. He turned rather shyly and shook hands in a friendly manner. His face also was commonplace, friendly and commonplace, not very well modelled, not in any way “fine.” He looked past me rather than at me but not evasively; it was simply that he had none of the abundant curiosity which had kept Lenin watching me closely from behind the hand he held over his defective eye, all the time he talked to me.
The conversation hung on a phase of shyness. We both felt friendly, and we wanted to be at our ease with each other, and we were not at our ease. He had evidently a dread of self-importance in the encounter; he posed not at all, but he knew we were going to talk of very great matters. He sat down at a table and Mr. Umansky [the translator] sat down beside us, produced his notebook and patted it open in a competent, expectant manner.
I felt there was heavy going before me but Stalin was so ready and willing to explain his position that in a little while the pause for interpretation was almost forgotten in the preparation of new phrases for the argument. I had supposed there was about forty minutes before me, but when at that period I made a reluctant suggestion of breaking off, he declared his firm intention of going on for three hours. And we did. We were both keenly interested in each other’s point of view. What I said was the gist of what I had intended to say….
I had never met a man more candid, fair, and honest, and to these qualities it is, and to nothing occult and sinister, that he owes his tremendous undisputed ascendancy in Russia. I had thought before I saw him that he might be where he was because men were afraid of him, but I realize that he owes his position to the fact that no one is afraid of him and everybody trusts him.
Wells, Herbert George. Experiment in Autobiography. New York: Macmillan. 1934, p. 687-689
Stalin’s salary is about 1000 rubles per month, the equivalent of which, in Russia in 1939, was about $200. He is completely uninterested in money. Like all the Soviet leaders he is a poor man; no financial scandal has ever touched any of them. Salaries of Communists are adjusted by category, this system having replaced the former rule whereby no man in the party could earn more than 225 rubles per month. There is no upward limit; the average is 600. No communist may accept a salary for more than one post, no matter how many he holds; and no member of the party is allowed in theory at least to retain royalties from books.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 534
“Their penal servitude is not a stigma,” wrote a well-informed anonymous commentator, “but a token of their new nobility. They are proud of their criminal record as the emblem of their new aristocracy. Yet the leaders of the Bolshevist regime are ‘good’ men in the most ominous meaning of that word…. The comparison with the early Church militant and the Jesuit order is irresistible. The Bolsheviks are latter-day saints and crusaders, but of a material not a spiritual world, and they are the most thoroughgoing reformers and moralists in history–in their own way. Some of them drink, some have mistresses, but their morality is of another kind. They are the first autocratic rulers in history who do not use their power for personal profit. They do not graft;… They have no castles, no titles, no purple robes; they live in a couple of rooms on a standard below that of an American bricklayer; they are pledged to personal poverty and service.”
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 537
If it were not for the dictatorship of the proletariat, Russia would probably have the dictatorship of a military clique or of certain bankers and financiers. Whatever may be said for or against the Soviet regime it must be admitted by both friend and foe that the Soviet leaders have kept the great natural resources of the country 100% in Russian hands. As much cannot be said for the rulers of many other backward countries. The Soviet dictatorship is one of the few instances in history where a small group of men have seized the power of a great nation and used that power not for personal aggrandizement and selfish gain but for what they thought was the best interests of all the common people.
The Communist Party is the vanguard of the new era. It is the alert, conscious minority which is guiding the country forward. If democracy and not dictatorship were in the saddle, would it be possible to continue the socialistic program long enough to give it a fair trial? Would not a fickle populace be lured away by the bright promises of charlatans and demagogues and hand over the power to interests which were secretly controlled by selfish financial interests?
…Americans may or may not be grateful that they do not live under communism and a Soviet system, but they certainly cannot with justice throw many stones at the Soviet power. Considering the illiteracy of the Russian masses, considering the backwardness of the country, who can be sure that any other party or any other structure of government would have done more for the genuine welfare of the people?
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 130-131
SMALL PEOPLE CAN CRITICIZE BIG ONES
Some cub reporter on the Communist youth Pravda or an illiterate worker sling a pebble at the railroad commissariat and get away with it if he only has facts to back his charge.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 204
Perhaps the administrators of industry are protected from criticism by the cowed masses? Heaven knows what Trotskyists and other critics of the Soviet Union would do if they were. For many hostile criticisms are based on the open public criticism directed against the organs of government and industry in the USSR, by the workers of the Soviet Union, both in the wall newspapers and the trade union press. In what other country of the world is it possible for the workers to establish in every department of the factory a wall newspaper exposing the shortcomings of the management on a whole variety of technical and social questions?
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 156
Indeed nothing would be more interesting than for some of the people who talk about lack of freedom of criticism in the Soviet Union to make a six months’ comparison of the British and Soviet press.
They would find in the Soviet press many criticisms of the poor functioning of certain factories in the Soviet Union. Are there factories which function poorly in Britain? There are, but even if the proprietors of the British press had any inclination or interest in criticizing these factories, there is one all-sufficient deterrent–the law of libel. They would find factories in the Soviet Union criticized for neglecting to improve the working conditions. There are many such factories in Britain, but again the law of libel prevents any possibility of pillorying the owners of such factories.
The fact is that not only are the officials in the State, the Party, and industry, removable, but they are subjected to a floodlight of criticism that is without parallel in any capitalist State.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 157
One of the chief revelations to come from the opening of Soviet archives is the sheer volume of letters received by newspapers, as well as party and state leaders and institutions. We now know that in the not atypical month of July 1935, Krest’ianskaia Gazeta (the peasants’ newspaper) received approximately 26,000 letters. Kalinin, who as president of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets was one of the most frequent recipients of letters, received an average of 77,000 a year between 1923 and 1935. Throughout 1936 Zhdanov, Leningrad party secretary, received 130 letters a day. The regional party secretary in Dniepropetrovsk, Khataevich, reported, perhaps with some exaggeration, that he received 250 letters a day. Letters also poured into other newspapers, municipal soviets, procurators’ offices, the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD), party and state control commissions, and offices of Politburo members and government leaders, including Stalin.
These letters contained complaints, petitions, denunciations, confessions, and advice…. The majority were sent by individuals who signed their names, for anonymous and collectively signed letters were frowned upon by the authorities. Regardless of their motivations for sending letters, authors expected a response, and archives indicate that some kind of response usually was forthcoming. Newspapers published only a tiny fraction of the letters. More often, staffers forwarded them to the appropriate agencies or wrote replies themselves. Individual leaders who received letters responded directly to some and forwarded others with comments and queries.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 7-8
The spring of 1936 seems to have been punctuated by warnings sent down from the top leadership, concerning the lack of interest so often shown by the authorities when they received letters of complaint in protest from ordinary working people. During March a decree went out from the Central Committee denouncing the “political blindness” of two regional newspaper editors and criticizing their attitude to this sort of readers’ letters as “bureaucratic” and ” feudal.” It ordered newspapers to publish the “politically most important” correspondence and to examine any allegations contained in it. In addition the decree contained a sharp attack on the current practice of forwarding letters of complaint to the people complained about. Later, the leadership of the Western Region ordered that complaints received by various bodies of the Party or of the soviets should be looked into carefully, and the archive material of this region gives evidence of an unprecedented zeal in analyzing information coming up “from below.”…
In May 1936 a decree from the Commission of Soviet Control, approved by the Council of People’s Commissars and receiving wide press coverage, severely condemned the abuse of power by officials of “soviet institutions”–that is the cadres running the administrative and economic apparatus of the whole country. Pointing out that most of the complaints received were about cadres overstepping their powers, the decree laid an increased responsibility on officialdom in the whole matter of examining and rectifying without delay the errors or faults that people wrote about….
This decree constituted nothing less than a forthright condemnation of the “soviet apparatus,” that is of the state apparatus itself, on account of its negligence in carrying out the repeated directives of the Party and the government, over taking into account objections and complaints by the public. The decree did more than order that complaints must not be passed on to the official concerned, it set time limits on investigating and dealing with them, and specified the individual responsibility of cadres at every level of the apparatus. It even made provision for officials to be brought to court if they should be guilty of slowness or failure in carrying out action to remedy faults brought to their attention in letters.
The letters and complaints in the archives of the Western Region cover virtually all the problems of daily life, from collective farms to industrial enterprises. They denounce the practices of the heads of these organizations, as well as the behavior of cadres of local soviets and even Party officials. With each letter go the papers showing what investigations were made, the reports and the evidence obtained, and other such documents. One can find that complainants were not always objective in their criticisms and that at times the allegations were false;…
Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 66-68
SOVIET CENSORSHIP IS SENSIBLE AND BALANCED
Among the many difficulties, censorship, which is generally supposed to rank highest, is less terrible than is thought abroad. Though strict in a certain direction, it is usually applied with intelligence and moderation. Unlike most censors whom the writer has known in the past seventeen years, the Bolsheviks are always willing to discuss matters with the correspondent before a cable message is sent and meet him halfway in modifying a sentence so as not to break the thread of his message or even to convey in more moderate form the item disapproved.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 206
During the past two or three years there has been no censorship of news sent by mail, but it is always understood the responsibility for such news will fall on the correspondent if the authorities object later, whereas for cable messages the censor himself must bear the brunt of subsequent official ire.
It cannot be said, however, that the Soviet press department is equally satisfactory in giving news to foreign reporters. Contrary to what generally is believed abroad–perhaps for that very reason–far from the Soviet government pumping propaganda into resident correspondents, the latter generally have to extract it drop by drop. When the writer contrasts the admirable mechanism of the French press bureau–that is, propaganda department–during and shortly after the world war with the aloof inertia of the “scratch-for-yourself” attitude of the Soviet foreign office, it becomes positively infuriating to hear people abroad say: “Of course, Moscow correspondents write just what the authorities want.”
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 206
The censorship, though strict in a certain direction, is usually applied with intelligence and moderation. Unlike most censors whom the writer has known in the past seventeen years, the Bolsheviki are always willing to discuss matters with a correspondent before a cable message is sent and meet him half way in modifying a sentence so as not to break the thread of his message or even to convey in more moderate form the item disapproved.
During the past two or three years there has been no censorship of news sent by mail, but it is always understood that the responsibility for such news will fall on the correspondent if the authorities object later, whereas for cabled messages the censor himself must bear the brunt of subsequent official ire.
…Contrary to what generally is believed abroad–perhaps for that very reason–far from the Soviet Government pumping propaganda into resident correspondents the latter generally have to extract it drop by drop. When the writer contrasts the admirable mechanism of the French press bureau–that is, propaganda department–during and shortly after the World War with the aloof inertia of the “scratch-for-yourself” attitude of the Soviet Foreign Office, it becomes positively infuriating to hear people abroad say:
“Of course, Moscow correspondents write just what the authorities want.”
Far from knowing what they want, it is a labor of Hercules to drag scraps of official information from the omnivorous monopoly of Tass, the Soviet Government press agency….
Duranty, Walter. “Soviet Censorship Hurts Russia Most,” New York Times, June 23, 1931.
The Foreign Office maintains that its censorship is solely in the interests of “fairness and accuracy,” and that it never censors opinion. According to the correspondents, this general principle is usually observed. They have little complaint of the censorship, which they describe as “the lightest possible.” Dispatches are not blue-pencilled. If a change is desired the censor usually telephones the correspondent, asking if he would mind changing a phrase or sentence; or in serious matters he may ask the correspondent to discuss the point in person.
One correspondent who sent a dispatch on the night of the big police raids in Moscow in June, 1927, following the murder of the Soviet ambassador at Warsaw, alleged that “thousands were being arrested.” He was told that the censor could not approve such an exaggerated statement, but would let him say “over a 1000.” Subsequent estimates showed that the censor was nearer right than the correspondent.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 150
The Foreign Office keeps close watch on correspondents through reading the foreign press. It also sizes up their point of view. One type of correspondent, of whom there have been a number in Moscow, is the man who “lies by telling the truth.” He selects from the Russian press for his dispatches all the damaging articles he can find, omitting anything favorable to the Soviet regime. The censor cannot call him to account for inaccuracy, but he is warned that if his paper’s policy is to print only damaging news his leave to stay will not be renewed. Since the civil war ended in 1921 there have been only two actual expulsions of correspondents from the country–one English, one American. But some have not been readmitted after going out.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 151
SU RANK IS BASED ON MERIT, NOT WEALTH OR BIRTH
Rank may replace class in the Bolshevik cosmogony to satisfy human needs, but rank based on merit, not on wealth or birth.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 210
… for in Russia the highest incomes go to the big engineer and the great writer.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 143
STALIN SAYS THAT IN CAPITALISM STRONG PREY ON THE WEAK
Stalin said, “it is a law of capitalist society that the strong must prey on the weak; you are right if you are strong; if weak you are wrong!'”
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 236
CAN CRITICIZE RUNNING OF SYSTEM BUT NOT THE SYSTEM ITSELF
The public is taught to know and recognize all three “class enemies” and to welcome action against them. On the other hand, the press, while mercilessly exposing the defects in the present system, is careful never to suggest that a different system–that is, the previous system–might be better.
The press concentrates public attention upon defects and ways to improve them, upon enemies and ways to defeat them, but it rigidly excludes the implication that there is anything wrong with the system itself.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 282
While public opposition to the basic program of communism is impossible in the Soviet Union, criticism of all aspects of Soviet life is encouraged and rewarded. Stalin not only urges every worker to criticize publicly whatever is not sound in factory, mine, and mill, but he has pointed the way in his public addresses…. In its appeal of June 2, 1928, the Central Committee gave final shape to the campaign of self-criticism, calling upon all forces of the Party and the working-class to develop self-criticism ‘from top to bottom and from bottom to top,’ without respect of person.” The result is a perpetual stream of criticism in the papers attacking instances of inefficiency or wrong-doing.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 67
UPROOTING IS WORSE IN THE US
March 1, 1933–To Americans it doubtless sounds atrocious that any authority should thus uproot and disrupt homes. But the Bolsheviks reply sarcastically, “And what about your economic system, which suddenly and mercilessly cuts jobs and savings from under millions of families and throws them literally into the street or at the mercy of charity? Don’t you know that there have been more American homes thus disrupted in the past four years than in all of our removals of kulaks and other enemies? And, remember, we uproot enemies; you break the hearts of your own supporters.”
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 309
12 YEAR ADVANCE BY ALTRUISTIC BOLSHEVIKS HAS BEEN REMARKABLE
October 1, 1933–when I came to Russia 12 years ago I was prejudiced against the Bolsheviks for a variety of reasons. And in that year of famine I found conditions terrible enough. But I also found, which I had not known before, that the Russian masses had been enslaved by the tsarist regime, whose corruption and incompetence had been the chief levers of its own downfall. I found the Soviet leaders were in the main altruists–fanatical altruists, if you like–honestly trying to make a disciplined and self respecting nation out of this horde of newly liberated slaves.
During twelve years I had had no reason to change this opinion. Without holding a brief for socialism I have watched a steady progress–by zigzags, as Lenin said, but progress, nonetheless–toward the development and practice of a working socialist system. When I compare the Moscow of 1933 with the Moscow of 1921 I am amazed by what has been accomplished, and the change in the position of Soviet Russia as a factor in world affairs is no less striking than Russia’s advance from a backward agrarian state, economically dependent upon the industrial West, to a stage of industrial autonomy and the solid foundations of economic self-sufficiency.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 330
One cannot, I think, judge the Communist achievement fairly without taking full account of the stupendous obstacles which stood in the way of its realization. In a backward, semi-Asiatic peasant country, shattered by war and social upheaval, the Communists introduced a completely new system of economic administration, bound, in its first stages, to be accompanied by costly and discouraging blunders. And they installed as the ruling class of this complicated new social order the Russian workers, who were to a large extent shut out from the limited cultural opportunities afforded under the Tsarist regime and who, while full of militant revolutionary spirit, were inferior to West European and American workers in general and technical education.
If one keeps a firm mental grasp on these two facts and their manifold implications, it will be recognized that the real cause for wonder in Soviet Russia is not that so much is amiss but that so much has been achieved.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 424
Let us make a few comparisons with foreign countries so as to fix these ideas in our minds.
In 1933 the United States figures were 110.2% of the pre-war figures, France 107.6%, England had reached 85.2%, Germany 75.4%, and the USSR 391 percent.
In agricultural machinery and locomotive construction the USSR today (1935) holds the world record (in agricultural machinery alone her annual production represents a value of 420 million gold rubles, against that of 325 million in the United States).
If we endeavor to visualize the titanic highway that would be made by the great factories of the world placed end to end, we would see in that evocation of the supernatural: Magnitogorsk (metallurgy), not yet quite completed, and which, when it is completed, will equal the American Gary Works which holds the record for size at the moment, Cheliabinsk (heavy tractors), the Stalin Automobile Works in Moscow, Kramatorsk, in the Dombass region, (heavy machinery), the Kaganovich factory in Moscow (ball bearings)–which are giants of their species in a world of giants. The Lugansky locomotive factory is the most powerful in Europe, and masses of other factories (machinery which makes machinery and works metal) bear the numbers two or three in world magnitude.
Some other comparisons with foreign conditions:
Unemployment– During the period of the Plan, when unemployment was eliminated from the USSR, the number of unemployed rose, in England from 1,290,000 to 2,800,000 and in Germany from 3,376,000 to 5,500,000…. In the United States, according to the Alexander Hamilton Institute, the number of unemployed in March 1933 was 17 million. In Italy there were 1,300,000 unemployed. In Spain, there were 6,500,000 unemployed in September 1934.
We are told that in many of these countries unemployment has decreased. Let us observe that in the same places in which they talk of the reduction of unemployment they also talk of the reduction in the total amount of wages. But it should be particularly observed that there is no bluff or deception in the world more shameless than those which surround the official figures of unemployment in all capitalist countries. It is impossible to humbug the public more deliberately than the competent authorities do in juggling with words and figures to disguise the true situation. No capitalist country admits its unemployed. Entire categories of workers, and of industries not having a certain proportion of workers, are “forgotten,” and whole districts are “neglected.” After performing the operation which consists in cutting working hours in two so as to give the half-day obtained to an unemployed man, this unemployed man is removed from the list, whereas no change has really taken place at all, for twice 1/2 still makes 1.
Let us pass over the enormous assistance given to scholars and to scientific institutes and to their many-sided activities, and let us merely say a few words on the subject of public education…. Every enterprise is a center of culture, every barracks is a school, every factory a factory for molding men’s minds–let us merely observe that in the USSR there are 60 million pupils of all sorts whose education is financed by the State–one-person out of every three in the Union. As for the Republics, I will quote one or two among the many: in Tatary the number of schools, which was 35 in 1913, was 1730 in 1933. The Cherkesses possessed 94 percent of illiterates in 1914; nowadays there is not a single one–0%. There were 26 times as many schools in Daghestan in 1931 as there were in 1914 and 38 times as many in Kazkistan. Seventy different languages are cultivated in the USSR. Twenty of these were not written and had to be stabilized by being given alphabets.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 201-205
The increase in fixed assets between 1913 and 1940 gives a precise idea of the incredible effort supplied by the Soviet people. Starting from an index of 100 for the year preceding the war, the fixed assets for industry reached 136 at the beginning of the First Five-Year Plan in 1928. On the eve of the Second World War, twelve years later, in 1940, the index had risen to 1,085 points, i.e. an eight-fold increase in twelve years. The fixed assets for agriculture evolved from 100 to 141, just before the collectivization in 1928, to reach 333 points in 1940.
L’Office central de statistique pr�s le Conseil des ministres de l’U.R.S.S. Les Progr�s du pouvoir soviEtique depuis 40 ans en chiffres: Recueil statistique (Moscow: ƒditions en langues Etrang�res, 1958), p. 26
For eleven years, from 1930 to 1940, the Soviet Union saw an average increase in industrial production of 16.5 per cent.
L’Office central de statistique pr�s le Conseil des ministres de l’U.R.S.S. Les Progr�s du pouvoir soviEtique depuis 40 ans en chiffres: Recueil statistique (Moscow: ƒditions en langues Etrang�res, 1958), p. 30
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoor 2straat 25-27 2600, p. 51 [p. 42 on the NET]
In the early 30s it [ Moscow] was a rapidly expanding modern city, as well as the traditional capital of the Soviet empire. Its growth was indeed spectacular. At a pace unthinkable in other countries it changed physically, clearing slums, expanding; whole blocks of old houses were replaced by splendid buildings, narrow winding lanes were straightened and broadened into magnificent thoroughfares. Today Moscow has no less than 2260 libraries (with a total of 65 million books), sixty museums, 100 colleges, 30 theaters–some of them world-famous–the largest Academy of Science in the world, an Academy of Medicine with 25 large research centers, an Academy of Agricultural Science with 13 research stations, an Academy of Architecture, an Academy of Pedagogy and, among many others, an Academy of Ballistics.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 127
We could also boast some remarkable accomplishments in our lives. In spite of muddles, mistakes, and blunders, tens of millions of people became literate, general secondary education was introduced, higher education and health care were provided free of charge, formerly backward peoples on the outskirts of the czarist empire were introduced to the best in the national and world cultures. And the low rents, cheap city transport, low crime, and full employment–all this was taken for granted.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 387
COMMUNISTS ARE THE MOST ENERGETIC AND SACRIFICING
The Party Purge (Chistka)–Lenin’s rule that no drones or sluggards might remain in the party has not been forgotten, and it is not always pleasant to pay the heavy party dues and give up any salary over 225 rubles monthly.
One often hears a man or woman, even communists themselves, say:
“I would never marry a communist. They are so busy that home life scarcely exists.”
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 359
SU CHILDREN AND PIONEERS ARE THE GREATEST
The Pioneers have a sort of honor system of self-government and discipline at school and are the freest, most upstanding, and intelligent children I have ever met anywhere. They are clean, which Russians used not to be; they play games for fun and think their country is the greatest ever. They know about sex at an early age and it does not worry them–in this respect all Russians are singularly natural and matter of fact–and they think it is a disgrace to be rich and have other people work for you. They do not care a rap about what Americans call comfort, but they know the joy of united effort and have an opportunity to take part in national life in drives or campaigns or investigations or what not to a degree enjoyed by no other children in the world. The girls are just the same as the boys and they are “swell,” and hard as life is here in Russia this correspondent is willing to go on record that no youngsters anywhere have a better time or are likely to make more useful citizens.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 361
STALIN OPPOSES EQUAL WAGES
July 5, 1931–Stalin’s “PROGRAM SPEECH”
“In many of our factories the wage system is such as to leave no difference between the skilled and unskilled worker and between hard and easy labor,” he said. “This leads to unskilled workers showing no interest in raising their qualifications, and skilled workers move from factory to factory in search of a place where their qualifications will be more valued. To give this shifting a free hand would undermine our industry, wreck our plan of production, and stop improvement in the quality of manufactured goods. We must destroy such equal wages. It is unbearable to see the locomotive driver receiving the same wages as the bookkeeper.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 387
But, it may be asked, why did Stalin stress greater wages for greater service?…
What Stalin saw and wished to correct was an overhasty tendency to equalize wages in pursuit of “100 percent” communism at a time when, in fact, the collectivist system could not yet assure the masses of an adequate return for their labor or assure dominant individuals adequate recognition.
Stalin said there was no communism yet and even the penultimate step to communism–namely, socialism–was barely established. It is, therefore, necessary to maintain for some time to come direct monetary rewards to stimulate individual effort.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 390
At the same time as the new peasant policy in 1933, the official class came clearly and unmistakably to the fore in the State and in all official life. Now it was explained that the old principle of the revolution requiring equal distribution of all necessaries and luxuries, and the attempt to give the same payment to all occupied persons, were simply a Trotskyist heresy. With the completion of the first Five-year Plan, Socialism had been built up in the Soviet Union. But that did not mean equal pay for all and universal equality.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 211
Piece-work, bonuses, Taylorism and individual competitive stunts were organized by factory directors throughout the USSR under different names and with different objectives….
The murmured complaints of those who condemned this process, because it enabled some workmen to earn more than others, received a sharp rebuke from the General Secretary himself: “By equality we do not mean the leveling of personal requirements and conditions of life, but the suppression of classes; that is to say, equal enfranchisement for every worker after the overthrow and expropriation of the capitalists. It is the duty of everyone to work according to his capacity, and the right of everyone to be paid according to the work he does. Marxism starts from the fact that the needs and tastes of men can never be alike, nor equal either in quantity or quality.”
As usual, in spite of Stalin’s eminently sane way of looking at such controversial points, many of his subordinates carried the schemes to such excesses….
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 77
Three reproaches have been leveled at Stalin and his Soviets: that they are antipatriotic, that they take away everyone’s property, and that they repress every individual’s intelligence in a universal equalization. All three are false.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 153
As regards the fable of equalization, we find that it had been derided by Marx, Lenin, and Stalin alike. In the land which has raised science to the status of a divinity, superior talent, higher education, and greater application are better rewarded in money and honor than anywhere else in the world. As the Western world has taken pleasure in reproaching the Soviets successively that they applied too much or too little equalization, I asked Stalin how the newly introduced piecework, implying an uneven wage scale, could be reconciled with Marxian principles. He answered:
“A completely socialized state, where all receive the same amount of bread and meat, the same kind of clothes, the same products, and exactly the same amounts of these products–such a Socialism was not recognized by Marx…. So long, then, as the distinction of class is not entirely obliterated, people will be paid according to their productive efficiency, each according to his capacity. That is the Marxist formula for the first stage of socialism.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 154
Stalin is similarly undogmatic regarding Marxian theories. They must stand the test of use. For instance, in the early days of the Russian Revolution, wages were much more uniform than they are today. It was found that bonuses to workers and managers brought better results. Wide differentials in pay exist today….
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 12
A different system has also brought different incentives into play in the Soviet Union. The powerful profit motive does not exist. Soviet citizens cannot dream of becoming millionaires through having others work for them. This does not mean, however, that Sovietism makes no appeal to self interest. Stalin believes that self interest is not harmful as long as it can be synchronized with the public welfare. He has tried to build a system of rewards for achievement without private monopoly and private profit.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 65
Wages are determined by results. The more a worker produces, the more he is paid. A truck driver I met in Moscow in 1944 had been getting as high as $600 per month. A certain norm is set for every job, and the more the worker exceeds this, the more he is paid. This inequality has been greeted with cheers and groans, according to the point of view, as a departure from socialist principles. Stalin has denied this when he said, “These people evidently think that socialism calls for equality, for leveling the requirements and the personal lives of all members of society. Needless to say, such an assumption has nothing in common with Marxism…. By equality Marxism means not equality in personal requirements and personal life, but the abolition of classes, i.e. (a) the equal emancipation of all toilers from exploitation, after the capitalists have been overthrown and expropriated, (b) the equal abolition for all of private property in the means of production, after this has been transformed into the property of the whole society, (c) the equal duty of all to work according to their ability, and the equal right of all toilers to receive according to their requirements. And Marxism starts out with the assumption that people’s abilities and requirements are not, and cannot be, equal in quality or quantity, either in the period of socialism or of communism.”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 65
This does not mean that in setting to work with these purely moral incentives there can be no exaggerations and no mistakes. Stalin himself has emphasized this point insofar as concerns despotic measures– too childishly despotic in a blissfully unconscious way at present–such as the mathematically equal distribution of salaries and the strict leveling of everyone–measures having a somewhat clumsy and demagogic character which make them more harmful than useful in the development, still so immature, of individual and collective social personality.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 145
In order to put an end into this evil we must get rid of equalitarianism and break down the old wage scales. In order to put an end to this evil we must set up a wage scale that will take into account the difference between skilled labor and unskilled labor, between heavy work and light work. It cannot be tolerated that the rolling mill hand in a steel mill should earn no more than a sweeper. It cannot be tolerated that a locomotive driver on a railway should earn only as much as a copying clerk. Marx and Lenin said that the difference between skilled and unskilled work would continue to exist even under socialism and even after classes had been abolished, that only under communism would this difference disappear and that, therefore, even under socialism “wages” must be paid according to labor performed and not according to need. But our industrialist and trade union equalitarians do not agree with this and opine that that difference has already disappeared under our Soviet system. Who is right, Marx and Lenin, or our equalitarians? We may take it that Marx and Lenin are right. But if so, it follows that whoever draws up wage scales on the “principle” of equality, and ignores the difference between skilled and unskilled labor, is at loggerheads with Marxism and Leninism.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 131
But the Socialist movement did not promise that immediately industry and agriculture became socially owned and controlled, the unskilled laborer, irrespective of the service he was rendering to society, would get the same wage as the works manager. It promised to rid both laborer and manager of the necessity of carrying an exploiting class on their backs. It did not promise that they would get the same wage in return for the service they were rendering.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 93
Perhaps the most important aspect of his [Stalin] social policy was his fight against the equalitarian trends. He insisted on the need for a highly differentiated scale of material rewards for labor, designed to encourage skill and efficiency. He claimed that Marxists were no levellers in the popular sense; and he found support for his thesis in Marx’s well-known saying that even in a classless society workers would at first be paid according to their labor and not to their needs.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 338
Somewhat later I brought the conversation round to the surprising change of front that communism had made in abandoning the old theory of equality and introducing piece-work in its place, thus giving the energetic worker a chance to earn more than his companion. “We were astonished,” I concluded, “when you yourself characterized equalization as the remains of middle-class prejudice.” Stalin answered: “A completely socialized State where all receive the same amount of bread and meat, the same kind of clothes, the same products in exactly the same amount of each product–such Socialism was not recognized by Marx. Marx merely says that so long as the classes are not entirely wiped out and so long as work has not become the object of desire–for now most people look upon it as a burden –there are many people who would like to have other people do more work than they. So long, then, as the distinction of class is not entirely obliterated, people be paid according to their productive efficiency, each according to his capacity. That is the Marxist formula for the first stage of Socialism. When Socialism has reached the complete stage everyone will do what he is capable of doing and for the work which he has done he will be paid according to his needs. It should be perfectly clear that different people have different needs, great and small. Socialism has never denied the difference in personal tastes and needs either in kind or in extent. Read Marx’s criticism of Stirner and the Gotha programme. Marx there attacks the principal of equalization. That is a part of primitive peasant psychology, the idea of equalization. It is not Socialistic. In the West they look upon the thing in such a primitive way that they imagine we want to divide up everything evenly. That is the theory of Babeuf. He never knew anything about scientific Socialism. Even Cromwell wanted to level everything.”
Although I thought him wrong in regard to Cromwell it was not my business to enter into a historical argument with Stalin.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 382
HOW INVENTORS SHOULD BE TREATED
November 13, 1931–the whole force of the dominant Bolshevik party, which in practice is intensely autocratic and organized with military discipline, is bent upon putting over collectivism and crushing individualism in the sense in which individualism implies personal gain by making others work for one, not, however, in the sense of personal reward for one’s own good work.
Take, for instance, the hypothetical case of Thomas Edison under the present Soviet system. He would get from his own inventions not only honor but monetary award. He would be placed in charge of an invention department at a high salary, receive quarters for his own use, an automobile, and the like on privileged terms and get credit for the work produced by his staff.
He would be a figure of national prominence, but he would not be allowed to make a cent of personal profit from the inventions produced in his own office.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 389
It is often said that under a socialist economy there will be no rewards for inventors. Stalin, however, enacted a law providing that from the moment that an invention is recognized as useful the inventor will be paid. He does not have to wait until it is actually utilized.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 79
HOW ARE THE MOST ENERGETIC PEOPLE TREATED IN SU
What, then, it may be asked, becomes of the exceptions to the average in Russia, of the dominant type that is not content to except the lot of his fellows and wants and is able to get ahead? I made bold to say that in no country in the world are there such opportunities for this type as in the Soviet Union; that is, to get what this type wants–leadership, power, and the esteem of others.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 389
STALIN’S SU WAS REAL SOCIALISM
Foreigners seem to think because Karl Marx demanded the possession and control of production and means a production for his Socialist state, that this was the beginning and end of socialism. Theoretically of course, it is true, but in practise the thing which distinguishes a real working socialist system from a pseudo-socialist system is the abolition of the power of money and the profit motive and of the possibility for any individual or group of individuals to gain surplus value from the work of others. This and this alone is the true foundation of socialism. It does not exist in Germany and it does not exist in Italy, but in Soviet Russia today it is a cardinal principal which is absolute and definite and supported by the harshest of laws and rules and regulations. No less an expert in foreign affairs than David Lawrence suggested in hand article in the Saturday Evening Post of July 20, 1935, that there was no great difference in the systems of the USSR, Germany, and Italy, and said, “in none of these countries is there any semblance today of socialism.” This is sheer ignorance.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 339
(Sinclair’s comments only)
I could go on at length to cite criteria and to pass such judgments. I give you one simple method, as certain as litmus paper in a test-tube, to determine whether the Soviet Union has now become counter-revolutionary, as you claim. I am sure that Hitler has better sources of information about Russian affairs than you or I have; and when Hitler learns that the Soviet Union has become counter-revolutionary, he will reduce the ardor of his crusade against it. So also will the big business press of Paris, London, and New York. When that happens I will admit that Stalin has sold out the workers. In the meantime, I must hold to my position: not that the Soviet system is Socialism, not that it is a “utopia,” but that it is one of history’s great experiments, entitled to be studied and understood, and to be defended against those reactionary forces which are now arming and combining to destroy it.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia? Two Views. New York : Rand School Press, 1938, p. 63
Today, Stalin still calls the USSR a socialist state. This it is, in the sense that the State, after absolutely abolishing all private property, has ended by appropriating, as its exclusive property, the factories, the subsoil, the means of transport, the mechanism of commerce, the land, and all that the Marxists, in their jargon, call “the means of production.”
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 408
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM
It is no longer a question of what I do or what I get but of what we do and what we get. I venture to suggest that there could be no simpler definition of the difference between socialism and individualism.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 340
The “Market” and the “Centrally Planned” economies–the terms used by the UN–have exactly opposite problems. The great problem in the “West” is the threat of demand not keeping up with supply; for the entrepreneur or manager to sell his goods or services, and for the worker to sell his labor power; in the “East” the problem is supply not keeping up with demand. In the “West” the managers fear bankruptcy of their firms because they cannot find a market, and the workers fear losing their jobs. In the “East” managers fear their inability to fulfill the plan, because they cannot find the required inputs of goods and of workers, and the workers fear not finding the goods they need or want. In the “East” the
lines form at the retail outlets; in the “West” they form at the labor office and the factory gate.
Every person who has worked in both the “East” and the “West,” mostly emigrants, to whom I have presented this definition of the difference between the two economic systems has immediately agreed with it….
To me capitalism is unacceptable on moral grounds. It is based on the principle of buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest market–which implies that the other fellow has to sell in the cheapest and buy in the highest market. It is the exact opposite of the principle “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”.
Blumenfeld, Hans. Life Begins at 65. Montreal, Canada: Harvest House, c1987, p. 289
MASSES SUPPORT BOLSHEVIKS AND STALIN’S SU
Nothing that may be said abroad about the tyranny and high-handedness of the Bolshevik regime can alter the fact that the Russian masses think and speak of “our” Rodina,” “our” technicians, “our” successes and “our” failures.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 341
Russian workers complain, and loudly, about many things–mainly bureaucracy and petty graft–but never that the entire system is run primarily in the interests of someone else. In general there is to be found a genuine spirit of cooperation.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 65
But peasant sentiment as a whole supports the Soviet regime for the simple reason that the peasants know any other possible regime would bring back the landlords–just as did the White regime in the civil wars.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 39
Attempts to explain Stalin’s popularity have often foundered on the obstacle of partisanship. Everyone admits that, in some way or another, he enjoyed mass support: “Although its nature and extent varied over the years, it is clear that there was substantial popular support for Stalinism from the beginning and through the very worst.
Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 113
…yet the question still rises of why he [Stalin] was so popular?
One reason may be that, despite the enormous moral failure and physical sacrifice, society as a whole did not become degraded, and quite a few achievements were accomplished in the economic, social and cultural spheres….
Major changes were wrought in industrial development. The statistics, though exaggerated, indicate that Lenin’s electrification plan for industry was fulfilled. By 1935 average gross output from heavy industry exceeded the pre-war level by 5.6 times. Having lived through the industrial breakdown caused by the First World War and the civil war, the people could not but be amazed at the huge energy and creative drive unleashed by the October Revolution. They could proudly tell themselves, “We can do a lot! Let’s complete the five-year plan in four!’ As if to confirm Stalin’s words, ‘Life has become better, life has become more joyful!’, by the end of the 1930’s hundreds of new factories and plants, roads, towns, palaces of culture, rest homes, hospitals, schools and laboratories had appeared, transforming the landscape.
The statistics for education are more impressive. There were nearly seven times more specialists [in the 1930’s] who had had higher education than in 1913, while those with secondary education increased by almost 28 times. Illiteracy fell dramatically.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 263-264
The great transformation that the country had gone through before the war had, despite all its dark sides, strengthened the moral fiber of the nation. The majority was imbued with a strong sense of its economic and social advance, which it was grimly determined to defend against danger from without.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 485
While the Russian government thus certainly is not a government by the people, it may claim that it is a government for the people, if not for the living then for the future generation. It may also claim that it possesses, in fact, the consent of the people to this dictatorship and its aims. For proof of this we do not rely on election figures and votes of confidence in the State and Party leadership, the value of which must be regarded as extremely doubtful.
The real proof comes from Russia at war, Soviet Russia at her supreme test. As we all know, Hitler was not the only one to be mistaken when he expected that the Stalin regime would crack up under the impact of the onslaught, that the Ukrainians and other nationals would cut loose and the Soviet State collapse. Even the Nazi Front reporters admit now that they have never come across anything like the courageous and dogged defense of the Russian troops who went on fighting even when retreating or surrounded, men and women, soldiers and civilians alike.
Socialist Clarity Group. The U. S. S. R., Its Significance for the West. London: V. Gollancz, 1942, p. 41
CLERGY ARE MOSTLY REACTIONARY
… the clergy had been nothing but loyal servants of the Tsar. It was pointed out that the clergy had blessed guns and troops and had incited soldiers to attack although their religion said ‘Thou shalt not kill’.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 244
The Bolsheviks had three reasons for hostility towards the Church, two of which were obvious but the third more subtle. First, they regarded it as one of the principal pillars of the Tsarist regime, to which it was bound by ties that were centuries-old. It was also owner of vast wealth, and therefore by interest and tradition opposed to the Bolsheviks and their system.
Second, religion itself advocated the exact antithesis of Bolshevik teaching. The Bolsheviks wished to stir up the masses, to spur them to revolt, to make them think for themselves and to capitalize their discontent. Religion, they thought, was, as Marx put it, “opium for the people,” to keep them satisfied “in that state of life in which it pleased God to place them” here on earth, so that their submission and obedience would later win them a place in Heaven, as the parable of Lazarus and Dives suggests. But it was precisely this apathetic acceptance of misery and oppression that the Bolsheviks were most anxious to destroy, so that on these two counts they and the Church were immediately locked in conflict.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 45
RELIGION IS BEST FOUGHT BY IMPROVING THE LIVES OF PEOPLE
Stalin launched a new slogan: ‘Life has become easier and more cheerful!’ This was to define the style of living from then on. In the same speech Stalin declared that all opposition to religion was purposeless. Life had not yet been made so good or so carefree that men and women no longer needed to seek for consolation. So long as there continued to be distress and anxieties, there would always be people who hoped to find consolation in religion. If it was desired to combat religion, the way to do it was to work harder and to provide better satisfaction for human needs.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 245
STALIN DEFENDED THE CLERGY’S RIGHT TO VOTE IN 1936
Stalin himself proposed the draft constitution of 1936 at the Congress of Soviets…. There were several motions proposing that the clergy should not be entitled to civil rights or the franchise; it was urged that there was a danger that the clergy would carry on anti-Soviet agitation. The proposer of one of these motions contended that the granting of the franchise to the clergy might result in anti-Soviet members gaining admittance to the representative bodies. Stalin defended the grant of the franchise to the clergy. It was impossible, he contended, to make exceptions; all must have equal rights. It did not matter so very much if the clergy agitated; that would merely spur on the local Communist organizations to work harder and improve their propaganda. They had to learn to combat hostile propaganda…. Stalin’s defense of the rights of the clergy actually brought him popularity among the peasants.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 272
It is a fact that many leading Communists opposed granting secret and universal suffrage. They feared that the backwardness among certain sections of the people might make this dangerous. Stalin strongly supported the voting provisions and they were adopted. So far they have proved to be dangerous only to officials who were neglecting their duties–and this is what Stalin had hoped for and wants more of in the future.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 34
STALIN’S VIEWS OF NAZISM AND FASCISM
Lenin did not live into the period of Fascism…. Threatened by the Revolution, the decaying capitalism, in the countries in which the danger of revolution is greatest, throws off the mask of bourgeois democracy and sets up an undisguised dictatorship. According to Stalin, Fascism and Nazism are nothing but the form of State set up by capitalism when it is in mortal danger. As it is a matter of life and death, the powerful capitalist groups can give no further consideration to their fellow-capitalists. The center of the capitalist class, ‘monopoly capital’, assumes all economic and political power, against the smaller capitalists as well as the other classes.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 320-321
“I am referring not only to fascism in general, but, primarily, to fascism of the German type, which is wrongly called national socialism–wrongly because the most searching examination will fail to reveal even an atom of socialism in it.”
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 13, p. 299
Many try to take advantage of the ideas and slogans of socialism, which are popular among the masses. Leaders of petty-bourgeois movements are especially given to this tactic. German fascism, for example, masked its archreactionary content with the term “National Socialism.” Of course there was not a grain of socialism in either the ” Christian Communist Republic” in Paraguay or the “National Socialist” state in Germany.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 854
“But today? Where is the German sense of order today? Where is the respect for the law? The National Socialists break the law whenever they find it in their way. They shoot and bludgeon all round.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 380
And so they called to power the fascist party–which in order to hoodwink the people calls itself the National-Socialist party–well knowing that the fascist party, firstly, represents that section of the imperialist bourgeoisie which is the most reactionary and most hostile to the working-class,…
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 302
STALIN AND THE BOLSHEVIKS HAVE GREATLY REDUCED CLASS DIFFERENCES
Nevertheless, the Stalinist era has achieved something permanent for Russia herself–and this is interesting because Stalin himself, like all the other Russians, has helped to achieve the general advance. The division of the Russian people into two unequal classes, aristocrats and the common people, has entirely disappeared, so much so that today in Russia a man or woman of 30 can no longer recall it. All social barriers have fallen,….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 399
STALIN’S BANK EXPROPRIATIONS ARE NECESSARY AND SUCCESSFUL
Whatever Lenin and Krassin calculated on obtaining as a result of the new tactic, they certainly were not prepared for the tremendous results of the efficacy of Stalin’s methods which soon appeared. It is customary in most biographies of Stalin to omit all mention of his directing part in the celebrated “expropriations,” or at best to gloss over them hurriedly as a rather discreditable episode. To take this course is to fail to understand the character Stalin, who never hesitated to call a spade a spade and never feared to except responsibility for his actions, irrespective of whether or not they met with general approval. If Lenin agreed and the ultimate success of the revolution was brought nearer, no other factors had any bearing on the problem.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 28
STALIN HAD AN EFFECTIVE ANTI-RELIGIOUS PROGRAM
The old reactionary control which the church maintained on spiritual and intellectual life, had been broken officially in 1917, by 1934 it was being replaced by modern educational methods directed at both children and adults.
With such stirring events going on around them, it becomes understandable why the provincial peoples lauded Stalin to the skies. For them he was, in sober fact, a deliverer and a savior.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 91
“Nevertheless,” Stalin went on, “the question of religious beliefs must be kept well in mind, must be handled with great care, because the religious feelings of the people must not be offended. These feelings have been cultivated in the people for many centuries, and great patience is called for on this question, because the stand towards it is important for the compactness and unity of the people.”
Hoxha, Enver. The Artful Albanian. London: Chatto & Windus, 1986, p. 130
Reviving some Russian traditions, Stalin slightly curbed party efforts to combat another: religion.
…The anti-religious campaign was relaxed in 1934. The League of Militant Atheists went into decline, its newspaper Bezbozhnik (The Atheist) closed down, and its membership dropped precipitously in numbers. At Easter time in 1935 the government authorized renewed sale in the markets, and later in state stores, of the special ingredients needed for the traditional Russian Easter cake. Toward the end of that year, the traditional Russian Christmas tree, proscribed after the revolution, made–unquestionably with Stalin’s approbation– an officially sponsored comeback as “New Year’s tree.” Since Russian Christians observe Christmas according to the Orthodox Church calendar, on 7th January, the eve of the new year was an appropriate time for the religiously inclined to set up the tree. Stalin wanted the populace to identify him with the policy of easing up a little on religion. That became clear when Komsomol delegates met in Moscow in April 1936 for the organization’s Tenth Congress. One principal speaker, Fainberg, revealed in his report that Stalin, in preliminary discussion of a draft of the new bylaws, rejected a clause that would have obliged the Komsomol to combat religion “decisively, mercilessly.” All it should do was to “explain patiently the harm of religious prejudices.”
…Soon afterward, in his speech before the Eighth Congress of Soviets on the draft new Constitution, Stalin opposed two suggested anti-religious amendments. One, which would have prohibited religious worship outright, was “not in accord with the spirit of our Constitution.” The other would have deprived not only ex-White Guardists and “former people” not engaged in useful work, but also clergyman, of voting a rights, or, alternatively, of the right to be elected. In opposing this proposal (in both forms) Stalin said the time had come to repeal the long-standing Soviet law depriving nonlaboring and exploiter elements of voting rights. “In the first place, not all former kulaks, White Guardists, or priests are hostile to the Soviet regime,” he said.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 327
MOST WORKERS ARE IRRESPONSIBLE AND TRANSIENT
In a letter around September 15, 1930, Stalin said to Molotov, “As the situation now stands, some of the workers labor honestly in accordance with socialist competition; others (the majority) are irresponsible and transient, yet the latter are as well provisioned as the first (if not better), enjoy the same privileges of vacations, sanatoria, insurance, etc. as the first. Is this not an outrage?”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 219
WEALTH OF PEOPLE IN STALIN’S SU IS RELATIVELY EQUAL
No one can live very long in Russia without gaining an impression of leveling in the everyday life of the people. Not that absolute material equality, or anything like it, has been achieved. There are marked variations in the standards of living, not only among the people as a whole, but among the members of the Communist Party. But, whereas in other countries there is a tendency to display wealth, in Russia there is every impulse to hide it. The Communist or Soviet official who is observed to spend more freely than his modest salary would seem to permit is likely to be called on for an explanation, either by some Party tribunal or, in especially serious cases, by the secret police. Flaunting of wealth by the harassed private trader is likely to invite new visitations by the tax collecting authorities.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 50
Who owns the world? That is the basic question conditioning all hopes of social change. What is wrong with the world today, according to Marxists, is private ownership of the great productive processes which are socially operated. The way out is not backward to subsistence farms and handicraft; it is forward to social ownership. Not “share the wealth,” but jointly owned wealth, jointly organized by and for all who work…. From this economic equality, all other forms of equality will grow.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 17
PARTY DOES NOT MAKE EVERY DECISION FOR LOCAL SOVIETS AND COOPS
“In the Soviet Union…no important political or organizational problem is ever decided by our Soviets and other mass organizations without directives from the Party.” [Problems of Leninism by Stalin, page 33]
This does not mean that the local branches of the Communist Party attempt to decide every petty detail of the work of the Soviets, trade unions, and cooperatives. As a matter of fact they are expressly warned not to do this, but to leave to the above-mentioned organizations the maximum liberty and spontaneity of action consonant with the carrying out of the general lines of Party policy. But these general lines must always be carried out.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 58
VERY DIFFICULT TO BECOME A PARTY MEMBER
It is no easy matter to gain admission to the ruling Party in the Soviet Union. Workers are preferred above other classes of the population as candidates for membership; but even a manual worker, the aristocrat of Soviet Russia, must obtain two recommendations from old Party members and pass through a period of six month’s probation before he may be admitted to full-fledged membership. For peasants, employees, and intellectuals a larger number of sponsors and longer periods of probation are required.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 62
It seemed to be about as difficult to pass a camel through the eye of a needle as to bring a non-proletarian into this Communist local branch. On the other hand, worker candidates for membership were apt to pass even when serious criticisms were voiced against them.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 63
POLITBURO IS THE SUPREME AUTHORITY IN THE SU
The actual highest governing authority in the Party, and hence for the whole country, is not the large unwieldy Central Committee, but an inner steering group of nine members and eight alternates, elected by the Central Committee and known as the Political Bureau (Politburo).
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 63
… the present members of the Politburo of the Communist Party Central Committee, which is the ultimate repository of power in the Soviet Union.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 101
Stalin’s chief post is not in the government, but as general secretary of the Communist Party, which would certainly remove him if his policy and actions should ever discredit him with the people; at present he is by far the most popular man in the country.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 69
The Political Bureau has full responsibility and power in the interims between meetings of the Central Committee, and is thus the most important single party body.
In my talk with Stalin in 1926 I put the following question: “conservatives claim that the Communist Party and the government are one and the same because they are all controlled by the Political Bureau. How far is this true?”
Stalin’s eyes flashed with a characteristic twinkle and his face lighted with a smile as he said, “The only difference between our party control and that of foreign countries is that we do things in the open whereas abroad they do them secretly. The conservatives in England have a shadow cabinet and in most of your states in America there are political bosses who sometimes have more power than your elected officials.
“What grounds have foreigners to criticize our Political Bureau which is openly elected by the Party and known to everyone, when in Europe there are shadow cabinets and in the United States bosses who are not elected by the people, but rule nevertheless. It is humorous!
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 36
It has been argued that in these years basic decisions were made in the Politburo of the Central Committee, and the Committee itself was bypassed. There may be some truth to this, but it is not the essential truth. In fact, it harbors a distortion of the truth, for it implies a basic dictatorship in a nation which–in 1936–adopted a constitution giving citizens a broader spectrum of rights–not only political but economic–than any in world history. What the USSR achieved, was a new form of democracy, a mass democracy and the fact that mass democracy does not follow all the structures (and charades) of bourgeois democracy does not mean it is not democracy. On the other hand, it is certainly true that in a socialist government–or any government—some decisions, both substantive and executive, must be made by a small top body. Whether that body is responsive to the mass of the population, and has open channels for that response, is the question. In these years this was certainly so in the USSR….
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 77
To another critic, who demanded more freedom of discussion in the party, Stalin replied that the party was no debating society. Russia was ‘surrounded by the wolves of imperialism; and to discuss all important matters in 20,000 party cells would mean to lay all one’s cards before the enemy ‘.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 258
Somebody mentioned the need for more democracy in the Party. Did he mean, wondered Stalin, that important and urgent decisions should be made not by the Politburo, but through discussions in 20,000 primary Party organizations? If that were the system, the class and foreign enemy would rejoice at knowing in advance all Soviet plans, strengths, and weaknesses. The position of the Soviet Union unfortunately required secrecy to surround decisionmaking: “You must remember that you are surrounded by enemies, salvation may be in your ability to strike a sudden blow, to execute an unexpected maneuver, in speed.”
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 226
HIGH QUALITY OF PARTY MEMBERSHIP
It is my personal impression that the best Communists, as a rule, are to be found in two classes: the intelligentsia whose revolutionary activity began in pre-war times, and the more earnest and sincere manual workers, especially those who fought on the various fronts of the civil war.
Is never possible for a large ruling group to maintain the uniformly high standards of devotion and sincerity which usually characterize a small persecuted sect…. Today a worker may join the Communist Party because he thinks this will be an insurance against dismissal; an employee may put in an application for membership because he hopes this will be the stepping stone to a higher post; a student may become a Communist because this will enhance his chances of being admitted to the university.
The Communist Party leadership is quite alive to these inevitable dangers of internal deterioration and tries to guard against them by enforcing a rigorous disciplinary code through the agency of the Control Commission, which has among its members many Old Bolsheviks with a stern attitude toward any yearning after bourgeois fleshpots on the part of the younger Party recruits.
Functioning with the aid of a network of local commissions established all over the country, the Control Commission every year excludes from the Party a little over 2 percent of its total membership. Expulsion is the supreme penalty; milder forms of punishment, such as reprimands and demotions, are more commonly applied. The most familiar causes of expulsion from the Party are drunkenness, embezzlement, heretical political views, and what is rather quaintly called in Russian “connection with an alien element.” This last phrase means that the person concerned has too many close associations, through marriage or otherwise, with “bourgeois” circles, in which no self-respecting proletarian is supposed to move.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 67-68
It is the aim of the Communists to induce everyone who is outstanding in any respect to become a member of his Party. In this respect the Party is like a fraternity in college. It tries to attract the best leaders. But there are many millions in Russia who sympathize with the Party but do not join. Membership brings few if any privileges and imposes heavy duties. Each member must pay the party treasury an income tax on his salary. Every member must devote at least several evenings a week to volunteer Party work. A communist is expected to set an example to others in daily life and work. If he works in a factory he must turn out more goods and be absent fewer times than the non-party worker. If he is at the front he must display more bravery than the others. If he fails to perform a duty or breaks a law, the punishment is more severe because of the higher obligation resting upon a member of the party.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 37
For ordinary members, membership meant no privileges, only some duties. Party members, in addition to being expected to be models both in their work and in their private life, had to assume a nagruska (load), voluntary work assigned to them by the Party with their consent.
Blumenfeld, Hans. Life Begins at 65. Montreal, Canada: Harvest House, c1987, p. 137
THEY TRY TO GET MOSTLY WORKERS IN THE PARTY
As has already been pointed out, there is a systematic effort to maintain a predominance of manual workers in the ranks of the ruling Communist Party.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 163
SU PRESS MORE RELIABLE THAN FOREIGN REPORTERS
I think a comparison of the news dispatches from Moscow and those sent about Russia from Riga, Helsinki, Berlin, and other places outside the country would demonstrate beyond any doubt that, despite the handicaps which are implicit even in the mildest censorship, Russia can be reported more reliably, more accurately, and more intelligently from Moscow than from any foreign city.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 395
In reporting trials in Britain the journalist–in order to avoid contempt of court–has to keep closely to the facts. In dealing with the Moscow trials he could use his imagination to the full.
It would be an instructive exercise for the reader to peruse the verbatim report of the trial of the Metro-Vickers Engineers, the Radek-Pyatakov, or the Bukharin-Rykov-Yagoda trials, and then compare these records with the press reports. He would have very great difficulty in realizing that he was reading about the same events, for ever since the trial of the Shakhty wreckers in 1928 the press has labored unceasingly to create a prejudice against Soviet justice.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 237
FOREIGN PRESS FREE TO ROAM THROUGHOUT SU
The assertion is often made that correspondents and foreigners in general in Russia are so subjected to official supervision that they are unable to make any independent investigation or to form any correct idea of actual conditions. I am convinced from personal experience that this assertion is baseless….
But for the correspondent who wishes to take the time and trouble, working-class and peasant Russia, the Russia of 90 percent of the population, lies open to explore as he wishes. Except for Soviet Central Asia (which was also a restricted zone for foreign travelers before the War, on account of the proximity to India and the fear of British spies), one can travel anywhere in the Soviet Union. I have repeatedly struck off the main lines of communication to visit factory settlements and peasant villages and talked freely with the people without encountering any evidences of official espionage or obstruction; in fact it is a general rule that the further one goes away from Moscow the less one sees and hears of the GPU.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 395
Friends back in the States had told us that in Russia they only show you the good things that they want you to see. Already we had found our friends wrong. They showed us around, of course, but we were always free to go where we wanted to.
Dykstra, Gerald. A Belated Rebuttal on Russia. Allegan, Mich.: The Allegan Press, c1928, p. 62
PEOPLE ENTER THE US FOR THE DOLLAR NOT FREEDOM
There are of course people in the U.S.A. who openly and courageously carry on the struggle for equality, who do not bow down to the dollar, but they are very few. Once upon a time, before the name of Abraham Lincoln had dimmed, fighters for freedom sought refuge in America from foreign oppression. But today it is seldom fighters for freedom who seek refuge there anymore; it is those who want to get closer to Mr. Dollar.
Gromyko, Andrei. Memoirs. New York: Doubleday, c1989. p. 74
CAPITALIST SAYS THE SYSTEM MUST CHANGE RATHER THAN CHANGING INDIVIDUALS
Whenever I ask myself what brings increasing visitors to Moscow, what they want here and what they find, and why the eyes of the world turn more and more to the Soviet Union with a questing hope that hardly yet dares call itself belief, there flashes into my mind the remark made to me in 1930 at Dnieprostroy by the young and disillusioned son of a Wall Street millionaire.
Dnieprostroy in those days was the first of the famous giants of the new Soviet Russia, “the largest power dam in the world.” … It was then that my companion said: “I think that Dnieprostroy has answered the question that brought me to Russia.”
What question? I asked.
Whether the world is to be changed by trying one at a time to improve human beings or by changing the social environment that makes human beings.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 3-4
WHAT IS FASCISM
For fascism is the last stand of a desperate capitalism which can no longer use the fruits of science and machine production, which dare no longer permit either peace or democracy, since it must brutally refuse to its victims that abolition of poverty which is already technically possible in the world.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 10
HONESTY COMES FROM THE RIGHT SYSTEM NOT PREACHING
In a world whose economic structure fails to reward honesty and altruism, a Marxist would not spend his efforts preaching these virtues, but in creating an economic system were honesty really prospered, where each man’s success must be built on the success, rather than the ruin, of others.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 14
CLASSES EXIST WHETHER US PEOPLE WANT THEM OR NOT
Millions of Americans resent the very idea of classes, and are indignant at “inflaming class consciousness” where it does not yet exist. But Marxian classes are not epithets inciting to riot; they are categories in a scientific analysis.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 18
WHAT IS A REAL DICTATORSHIP
Most Americans shrink from the word “dictatorship.” … the word dictatorship arouses for them the utterly incredible picture of one man giving everybody orders?
No country is ruled by one man. This assumption is a favorite red herring to disguise the real rule. Power resides in ownership of the means a production–by private capitalists in Italy, Germany and also in America, by all workers jointly in the USSR. This is the real difference which today divides the world into two systems, in respect to the ultimate location of power. When a Marxist uses the word “dictatorship,” he is not alluding to personal rulers or to methods of voting; he is contrasting rule by property with rule by workers.
The heads of government in America are not the real rulers. I’ve talked with many of them, from the President down. Some of them would really like to use power for the people. They feel baffled by their inability to do so; they blame other branches of government, legislatures, courts. But they haven’t analyzed the reason. The difficulty is that they haven’t power to use. Neither the President nor Congress nor the common people, under any form of organization whatever, can legally dispose of the oil of Rockefeller or the gold in the vaults of Morgan. If they try, they will be checked by other branches of government, which was designed as a system of checks and balances precisely to prevent such “usurpation of power.” Private capitalists own the means of production and thus rule the lives of millions….
Power over the means of production–that gives rule. Men who have it are dictators. This is the power the workers of the Soviet Union seized in the October Revolution. They abolished the previously sacred right of men to live by ownership of private property. They substituted the rule: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.”
Strong, Anna L. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 39-41
WORKERS OVER 18 CAN VOTE AND RUN FOR OFFICE
All “toilers” over the age of 18 may elect and be elected; the word is interpreted to include students, housewives, old people who have passed the age of work as well as those more formally known as workers. Voting thus extends to a younger age than is common elsewhere, and there are no disqualifications for transient residents, paupers, migratory workers, soldiers, sailors, such as exist in most countries; even non-citizens may vote if they work in a Soviet industry. There are no restrictions for sex, creed, or color, not even for illiteracy. The only significant restriction relates to “exploiting elements, but the steady decrease of privately owned enterprises has cut the disfranchised to 2.5 per cent of the population in the 1934 elections; by 1937 it is expected that all will have the vote.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 59
CENTRAL COMMITTEE IS THE SUPREME RULER OF THE SU
There have been statements by Stalin that ushered in great changes, as when he told the agrarian Marxist conference that the time had come to “abolish kulaks as a class.” Yet he only announced the time for a process which every Marxist knew was on the program. His famous article “Dizziness from Success” which called a sudden halt on March 2, 1930, to widespread excesses of Communists in rural regions, was regarded by foreign correspondents and peasants alike as an “order from Stalin.” Stalin at once disclaimed any personal prestige therefrom accruing, stating in the press: “Some people think that the article is the result of the personal initiative of Stalin. That of course is nonsense. The Central Committee does not exist to permit personal initiative of anybody in matters of this kind. It was a reconnaissance undertaken by the Central Committee.”
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 110
HUMAN NATURE IS NOT STATIC
Unlike those who justify ancient abuses with the formula, “You can’t change human nature,” the Marxist knows that human nature is constantly changing.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 250
ENVIRONMENT IS PRIMARY, TEACHING IS SECONDARY
For men in all ages have desired to change, to become in some direction “better.” Moral teachers have urged them to effect this by an emotional decision to be good, honest, industrious. But this is a struggle in the dark with forces which the human being does not understand. His emotional conversion lasts as long as he can focus will and attention. But if the old environment continues, the old habits reassert themselves.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 251
Can a prostitute change her environment so that street-walking will become unnecessary? Only if an honest job is somewhere accessible. And gangsters reform? Only if honesty is really the best policy; for him who would prosper under capitalism there is a time to be honest and a time to steal, and the criminal is the unlucky or stupid person who stole at the wrong time and in the unaccepted manner. Only a social system which insures to ordinary honest labor greater rewards than can be obtained by even the luckiest dishonesty will produce instinctively honest men.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 252
For crime, in the Marxian view, arises from the conflicts of a class-exploiting society and will follow classes and exploitation into oblivion….
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 264
PEOPLE IN THE SU ARE FREE AND INDIVIDUALS
To many persons in capitalist countries these words will be only partly intelligible. They have been so accustomed to considering that their own life is “free” and Soviet life “regimented” that they cannot at once grasp a viewpoint which holds the exact opposite. Yet even the casual observer of human beings today in the Soviet Union notices that while they have certain characteristics in common they are by no means regimented into uniformity, but show a vivid individuality at least as great as is found anywhere in the world.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 287
STALIN: You say that in order to build our socialist society we sacrificed personal liberty and suffered privations. Your question suggests that socialist society denies personal liberty. That is not true. Of course, in order to build something new one must economize, accumulate resources, reduce one’s consumption for a time and borrow from others. If one wants to build a house one saves up money, cuts down consumption for a time, otherwise the house would never be built. How much more true is this when it is a matter of building a new human society! We had to cut down consumption somewhat for a time, collect the necessary resources, and exert a great effort. This is exactly what we did and we built the socialist society.
But we did not build this society in order to restrict personal liberty but in order that the human individual may feel really free. We built it for the sake of real personal liberty, liberty without quotation marks. It is difficult for me to imagine what “personal liberty” is enjoyed by an unemployed person, who goes about hungry, and cannot find employment. Real liberty can exist only where exploitation has been abolished, where there is no oppression of some by others, where there is no unemployment and poverty, where a man is not haunted by the fear of being tomorrow deprived of work, of home, and of bread. Only in such a society is real, and not paper, personal and every other liberty possible.
Stalin, J. The Stalin-Howard Interview. New York: International Publishers, 1936, p. 13
We are taught to believe that the freedom allowed in a democratic nation is better than anything else in the world, including the freedom in a socialist republic. How can this be true when there is always a ruling class who controls the wealth and has the power to order what is to be taught in the schools, suppress the press, dictate politics, and even sway the courts? A student who criticizes the teachings in a capitalistic university unless his professor is broad-minded, is in danger of flunking. If a journalist writes a truthful article directed against the status quo he runs chances of losing his job. If a politician votes against measures favorable to the “financial interests” he will be defeated in the next election. And if a worker is hauled into court–guilty or not guilty–and has no money to hire a shyster lawyer or bride a judge, he goes to prison. Wherein lies the freedom or justice of such an order? The difference between a socialist republic and a democratic capitalist country, is that in the former the worker is really free and the capitalist is suppressed, whereas in the latter the worker is educated to believe in the wonderful so-called liberties which he is lucky to have a taste of, and the capitalist is really the free man. The worker in the Soviet Union does not have to be afraid of complaining to his “boss” or of criticizing factory conditions to the “shop committee,” but if a worker did this same thing in a capitalist industry it would cost him his job. The Soviet newspapers frequently receive letters from Russian workers presenting their objections to this or that. These letters are not only printed, but the suggestions are welcome, contrary to general opinion. Whereas the “Voice of the People” columns here are merely the feeble moan of a selected few.
Wright, Russell. One-Sixth of the World’s Surface. Hammond, Ind., The Author, c1932, p. 118
FREEDOM IS DIFFERENT FOR DIFFERENT PEOPLE
When the means a production became the factory, the meaning of freedom slowly changed. Freedom became to the owner the right to fix prices and wages, to the worker the right to drift from job to job, seeking an easier boss. Freedom in government became the “right to choose one’s rulers,” not the right to own and rule.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 289
THE PROCESS BY WHICH THE 1936 CONSTITUTION CAME ABOUT AND MASS SUGGESTIONS
One fruit of those happy days remained for history–the new Soviet constitution was born in those years.
The USSR has always claimed to be democratic; this the West has always denied…. Whatever Americans thought of Soviet elections Soviet people took part in them at least as energetically and hopefully as we. They not only voted for candidates; they wrote their demands into the “Nakaz,” the “People’s Instructions,” which became the first order of business for incoming governments.
In the 1934 elections, my husband spent every evening for a month as a precinct worker, visiting every person in his precinct and stimulating them not only to come out but to list things they wanted the government to do….
Since the 1922 Constitution, however, great changes had taken place. The basic wealth of the land was publicly owned; the people were no longer illiterate. Indirect, unequal voting from the place of work no longer fitted; people everywhere knew of their national heroes and could vote for them directly. On February 6, 1935, the Congress of Soviets decided that the Constitution should be changed to conform to the changed life of the nation. A commission of 31 historians, economists, and political scientists, under Stalin’s chairmanship, was instructed to draft a new Constitution, more responsive to the people’s will, and more adapted to a socialist state.
The method of adoption was highly significant. For a year, the commission studied all historic forms–both of states and of voluntary societies–through which men have organized for joint aims. Then a proposed draft was tentatively approved in June 1936 by the government and submitted to the people in 60 million copies. It was discussed in 527,000 meetings, attended by 36 million people. For months, every newspaper was full of people’s letters. Some 154,000 amendments were proposed–many, of course, duplicates, and many others more suitable for a legal code than a constitution. Forty-three amendments were actually made by this popular initiative.
In the great white hall of the Kremlin Palace, 2,016 delegates assembled, in December of 1936, for the Constitutional Convention….
The Constitution reflected the changes in the country. It began with the form of the state and the basic types of property. Land, resources, industries were “state property, the wealth of the whole people.” Cooperative property of collective farms, and “personal property” of citizens in their income, their homes, and chattels, were “protected by law.” Elections were to be by “universal, direct, equal and secret ballot for all citizens over 18.”
The section on “rights and duties of citizens” was cheered section by section; it was the most sweeping list of rights any nation ever guaranteed. The right to life was covered by four headings: “the right to work, to leisure, to education, to material support.” The right to liberty was expanded into six paragraphs, including freedom of conscience, of worship, of speech, of press, of assembly, demonstration and organization, freedom from arbitrary arrest, inviolability of home and of correspondence, “irrespective of nationality or race.”
The Constitution was a direct challenge to Nazi-Fascism, then in power in Germany. The Nazis called democracy outworn; all Soviet speakers hailed democracy and socialism as “unconquerable.” Hitler preached “superior and inferior races.” Stalin challenged him in one of the most sweeping statements ever made of human equality: “neither language nor color of skin nor cultural backwardness nor the stage of political development can justify national and race inequality.”
Tens of millions of people poured into the winter streets of the USSR to hail the event with bands. Progressives around the world hailed it. “Mankind’s greatest achievement,” said Mrs. Sun Yat-sen in faraway China.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 55
By November 1936, 1,651,592 people in Leningrad, Smolensk and their environs had made comments or suggestions. A sampling of 2,600 a these shows that two of the four most common suggestions were the requests that local village soviets be given the right to arrest people without the sanction or participation of the state procurator (which the constitution had demanded), and that former nobles, Tsarist gendarmes, kulaks, priests, and other “class alien” elements not be given the right to vote. A collective farmer from the Leningrad region believed (contrary to law and to Stalin’s orders) that ideally, “any citizen of our country can arrest such persons who wreck construction.” A peasant from Kaluga warned that “Kulaks and priests must not be given electoral rights,” and at one collective farm meeting, everyone who spoke wanted to limit or deny electoral rights to priests, former gendarmes, pomeshchiki, and policemen. Stalin himself had to publicly intervene to defend the idea of suffrage for the class-aliens.
Other remarks from the masses suggest the prevalence of the popular attitudes that made Stalinism possible. The worker Kombarov from Leningrad said that “Using free speech, meetings, and so forth to oppose the socialist state constitutes a betrayal of the country and should carry heavy punishment.” Another peasant, showing the traditional Russian genealogical approach to things, thought that “relatives having connections with traitors should face the full severity of the law.”
Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 126
The film changed, and now it was the Bukharin of 1936 that I saw before me. The moment was the drafting of the famous “Stalin Constitution,” of which he [Bukharin] in fact was the real author.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 3
The composition of the Drafting Committee [of the 1936 Constitution] was a stroke of genius on Stalin’s part: here sat representatives of non-Russian republics and here too sat the leaders of the oppositionists themselves!
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 282
The discussions occasioned by the draft of a new Soviet Constitution provided an opportunity for Soviet citizens to express their views on a broad range of issues. The published record of these discussions, replete with statistics on the number of meetings, speakers and proposals, and accounts of labor enthusiasm, not surprisingly presented a picture of overwhelming support for the principles embodied in the Constitution.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 15
Two months after Kirov’s assassination, on Feb. 6, 1935, the 7th Congress of the Soviets passed a motion on the need for a new constitution and elected a commission which was to draft it. The commission, headed by Stalin, included men like Bukharin, Radek, Sokolnikov, as well as their future prosecutor Vyshinsky. In the course of the next year and a half the commission frequently met in Stalin’s presence. Bukharin and Radek were the chief authors of the new constitution, which they often discussed in the columns of Pravda and Izvestia. The constitution was to be adopted by the next congress of the Soviets, in November 1936, several months after the execution of Zinoviev and Kamenev.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 359
STALIN’S SOCIAL PROGRAMS ARE FAR BETTER THAN THE NAZIS
In Germany, before the outbreak of the war, Hitler permitted 60,000 young people to attend the institutions of higher learning; in Russia, Stalin gave permission to 600,000 recruiting young workers and peasants alike as students in newly founded military academies which are today the pride of the country. Hitler drove distinguished scholars out of the country because their fathers had inherited a religion different from the one which he himself does not even believe in. Stalin invited these scholars to his country and gave them important tasks and high salaries. When we consider the care of the aged in Russia, we need only set by its side the answer which a Berlin doctor gave over the telephone to a friend of mine who called for help. He asked how old the patient was, then said: “Seventy! It’s no longer worth while! I’m not coming!”
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 137
SU FOSTERS CULTURE
Books, radio, and film educate the Soviet citizen, who is kept away from banalities and, above all, from obscenities.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 139
The nation has, nevertheless, advanced far in most fields of its existence. Its material apparatus of production, which about 1930 was still inferior to that of any medium-sized European nation, has so greatly and so rapidly expanded that Russia is now the first industrial power in Europe and the second in the world. Within little more than one decade the number of her cities and towns doubled; and her urban population grew by 30 millions. The number of schools of all grades has very impressively multiplied. The whole nation has been sent to school. Its mind has been so awakened that it can hardly be put back to sleep again. Its avidity for knowledge, for sciences and the arts, has been stimulated by Stalin’s government to the point where it has become insatiable and embarrassing. It should be remarked that, although Stalin has kept Russia isolated from the contemporary influences of the west, he has encouraged and fostered every interest in what he calls the ‘cultural heritage’ of the west. Perhaps in no other country have the young been imbued with so great a respect and love for the classical literature and art of other nations as in Russia. This is one of the important differences between the educational methods of nazism and Stalinism. Another is that Stalin has not, like Hitler, forbidden the new generation to read and study the classics of their own literature whose ideological outlook does not accord with his. While tyrannizing the living poets, novelists, historians, painters, and even composers, he has displayed, on the whole, a strange pietism for the dead ones. The works of Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Belinsky, and many others, whose satire and criticism of past tyranny have only too often a bearing on the present, have been literally pressed into the hands of youth in millions of copies. No Russian Lessing or Heine has been burned at an auto-da-fe. Nor can the fact be ignored that the ideal inherent in Stalinism, one to which Stalin has given a grossly distorted expression, is not domination of man by man, or nation by nation, or race by race, but their fundamental equality. Even the proletarian dictatorship is presented as a mere transition to a classless society; and it is the community of the free and the equal, and not the dictatorship, that has remained the inspiration. Thus, there have been many positive, valuable elements in the educational influence of Stalinism, elements that are in the long run likely to turn against its worst features.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 568
Many times in the Kremlin, the Central Committee would see new films that were shown. They were shown English films by the Cinematographic Committee under the head of Bolshakov. After seeing this “cultural film”, Stalin said:
Did you buy this film with our gold?
No, it was in exchange–meekly said the chief of the committee.
You have “Chapaev”?
Give us this film. These are the kind of films to show our youth and future generations.
Some of the people in the audience, members of the Politburo, started to shout: Bravo, Stalin, Bravo!
After the film ended, Stalin was agitated and told those who performed this “Bravo” event:
This is not called for at all. I certainly do not appreciate or want these “bootlicking” words to be said in my name!
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 27-28
RICH ARE NOT KIND GOOD GUYS
The patriarchal benevolence of the big landlords is nothing but a fairytale. Even count Tolstoy, the humanitarian and poet towering so high above his class, let the peasants on his estate live in squalor. Masaryk, who told me this fact, remonstrated with Tolstoy himself on this account when visiting him in the eighties.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 146
1936 SU CONSTITUTION AMONG THE GREATEST CONSTITUTIONS
The third great document of modern humanity, after the Declaration of Independence and the Paris Rights of Man, is represented by the Soviet Constitution of 1936….
History will call this new constitution by the name of Stalin, though he did not head the Soviet Union, but only the Communist party at the time of its inception, and though its main thoughts had been already formulated by Lenin in his first two constitutions of 1918 and 1924.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 163
The Russians consider their Constitution the most advanced and democratic in the world–and they feel that Stalin more than any other man was responsible for it.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 34
The Constitution of the USSR  was entirely the creation of Stalin. He supervised and directed the drafting. It was worked out according to his plan under his direct, continuous leadership.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 202
…Stalin edited the Constitution; he headed the commission; everything was in his hands.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 205
Neither was Stalin the author of the Constitution, though it was called the “Stalin Constitution.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 823
“…To be sure, elections to the Soviets became more democratic from a formal point of view. Deputies to local Soviets had been elected by open voting in factories and other institutions; after 1936 they were elected in polling places scattered through territorial districts, with the entire adult population casting secret ballots. Before the voters elected deputies directly only to local soviets, the local soviets elected deputies to the next higher soviets, and so on. After 1936 all elections became direct, and the voters of each district elected deputies to the local soviet, the city soviet, the oblast soviet, the republic soviet, and the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 837
It will be seen that the difference between the usual constitutions of the [bourgeois] democracies and the Constitution of the Soviet Union lies in the fact that, all the former admittedly proclaim the rights and liberties of the citizens, they specify no means of substantiating them, whereas the Constitution of the Soviet Union stipulates the very physical conditions without which true democracy cannot exist, inasmuch as without assured economic independence the unhampered formation of opinion is impossible, while there is nothing so inimical to freedom as the fear of unemployment, fear for the future of children, and fear of a wretched old age.
It may be disputed whether all the 146 articles of the Soviet Constitution are operative, or whether some of them exist only on paper. But it is indisputable that the four articles which I have quoted [Articles 118,119,120,121]–and they seem to me to be the basis of practical democracy–are not just printed words, but do express realities. If you were to turn the city of Moscow upside-down, you would discover hardly anything inconsonant with these articles.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 30
The most outstanding feature in the first section of the constitution and upon which the whole constitution is based is the specific fact that the exploitation of man by man must cease. In addition to this a great many of its parts pertain strictly to economics. When it speaks of equality it means economic equality and not that of birth and mentality. The Russians did not tack on a Bill of Rights to their constitution like we did, but began with those rights. Their idea of a constitution is a new one to the world–stressing economics, the abolition of human exploitation for the purpose of individual profits. This is quite different from our constitution which allows exploitation to be conducted by the “financial interests.” Even those countries which have had successful revolutions in the last years did not attempt to eradicate exploitation as it exists under capitalism, but, giving it a softer tone, continued it in writing a constitution patterned after ours.
Wright, Russell. One-Sixth of the World’s Surface. Hammond, Ind., The Author, c1932, p. 16
In the middle of this earthquake, in November 1936, Stalin promulgated the new constitution in an address to the Eighth Congress of the Soviets…. The new constitution was to replace Lenin’s electoral system, which had openly and frankly favored the industrial working class, and give equal suffrage to all classes, including the hitherto disfranchised former bourgeoisie. Indirect elections were to be replaced by direct, open ballot by secret. Such an advance, Stalin said, was possible because the structure of society had changed: the first phase of communism had been achieved; the working class was no longer a proletariat; the peasantry had been integrated into the socialist economy; and the new intelligentsia was rooted in the working classes. Opposing what he claimed to be someone’s amendment to the draft of the constitution, he insisted that the constitution must guarantee to constituent republics the right to secede from the Soviet Union.
Opposing still another amendment, which aimed at investing sovereignty in the President of the Republic instead of in the many-headed Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, Stalin warned his audience that a single President might become a dictator– the constitution should leave no such opening. He even insisted on the enfranchisement of the former White Guards and priests.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 381
[From Pravda Feb. 27, 1937]
The introduction of the new USSR Constitution marks a turning point in the country’s political life. The essence of this change consists in the further democratization of the electoral system–the replacement of the not completely equal elections to the soviets by equal elections, of multi-stage elections by direct ones, of open balloting by secret.
Whereas before introduction of the new constitution, clergy, former White Guards, former individuals and people not usefully employed were limited in their electoral rights, the new constitution dispenses with all limitations on the electoral rights of these categories of citizens, making the elections of deputies universal.
Whereas formerly the elections of deputies were unequal, since there existed different electoral standards for the urban and rural populations, now the need for placing limitations on the equality of elections has disappeared and all citizens have the right to participate in elections on an equal basis.
Whereas previously the elections to the middle and higher organs of the Soviet power were multi-stage, now, under the new constitution, elections to all soviets–from the village and city level all the way of to the Supreme Soviet–will be direct.
Whereas the election of deputies to the Soviets was formerly by open ballot and on the basis of lists, now the voting in the election of deputies will be secret and not by lists but by individual candidacies put forward by electoral districts.
McNeal, Robert. Resolutions and Decisions of the CPSU–The Stalin Years: 1929-1953. Vol. 3. Toronto, Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1974, p. 184
The 1936 Constitution, the Stalin constitution, as it was immediately baptized, did assure democratic rights to all citizens: freedom of speech, association, and the press, freedom to demonstrate, freedom to propagate both religious and antireligious ideas, and the inviolability of privacy in the home and in one’s correspondence. Freedom of movement was not mentioned, but all citizens were given the right to vote (none were disenfranchised any longer), and elections were to be secret and direct. The Stalin constitution was proclaimed “the most democratic in the world.”
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 287
No doubt about it, the document [the new 1936 constitution] was as advertised, “the most democratic constitution in the world.” Elections were to be free, equal, and secret. To the list of individual rights found elsewhere the Soviet document proudly added the right of every individual to demand that his government provide him with employment. Neither John Stuart Mill nor Thomas Jefferson could have objected to a single provision.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 403
And Stalin, sanctioned the granting of full civic rights under the Constitution to all Soviet citizens regardless of their social, religious, or political backgrounds. Universal equality of treatment was proclaimed. Soviet citizens were guaranteed pay, food, education, shelter, and employment. No other constitution in the world was so expansive in the benefits it proffered.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 319
PEOPLE CAN HAVE PRIVATE PROPERTY FOR PERSONAL USE
In the Constitution of the Soviets the corresponding article, of course greatly enlarged, says the following: the land and all it contains…are owned by the state, that is they are the property of the whole nation. On the other hand, private property is partly retained by the Soviets, for it says further on: “The personal property of the citizens derived from their work, savings made in their households, and objects for personal use and comfort are protected by law.”
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 165
Outside of the socialistic system, the law permits smaller private farms and other undertakings founded on personal work and excluding the exploitation of others.”
Where private ownership has been abolished, the privilege of the private owner to become a millionaire through low wages and high prices has been abolished, too. In this way the striving for gold as the greatest aim in life becomes impossible, while the striving for the good things of life, in recompense of diligence and talent, is retained. Where exploitation of human labor has been prohibited, but private property and savings permitted to a limited degree, life will offer a new purpose.
Thus the protection of the state is granted not only the “proletarian,” but every citizen, because no extremely rich or poor man can exist. Together with the right to work each citizen is guaranteed the following things: gratuitous education, access to all cultural advantages, paid vacations, insurance against sickness and old age.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 166
1936 CONSTITUTION WAS OVERWHELMINGLY ACCEPTED
Ninety millions voted for, but four millions against the Constitution.
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 168
STALIN WAS A GREAT LEADER WHO FOUGHT CORRUPTION AND BUREAUCRACY
Shortly afterward, Mitrokhin, the director of the Yaroslavl factory, became Commissar of the Chemical Industry. I was pleased that Stalin hadn’t forgotten my high recommendation of this man and had assigned him to such a responsible post. In relation to the scale of or whole manufacturing industry, this episode concerned a minor matter, but it still had its significance for me. I’ve told this story to illustrate how Stalin was sometimes capable of a conscientious and statesmanly approach to problems. He was a jealous lord and master of the State, and he fought against bureaucracy and corruption and defects of all kinds. He was a great man, a great organizer and a leader,…
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 124
Whenever I had dealings with Eisenhower in later years, I always remembered these actions of his during the war. [Eisenhower ordered the commander of the German Army to surrender to the Russians who had defeated his army. Montgomery ignored the request and took them all]. I kept in mind Stalin’s words about him. [I frequently heard Stalin speak about Eisenhower’s noble characteristics…such as decency, generosity, and chivalry in his dealings with the allies p. 220]. Stalin could never be accused of liking someone without reason, particularly a class enemy. He was uncorruptible and irreconcilable in class questions. It was one of his strongest qualities, and he was greatly respected for it.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 222
[And Stalin said], “The exposure and expulsion from the administrative apparatus of incorrigible bureaucrats and red-tapists.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 134
The service rendered by Stalin’s leadership in strengthening the unity of the party–and of the world communist movement as well–is tremendous. Stalin was a man of integrity.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 259
In 1928 Stalin was troubled by a similar problem:
“Of course, the fact that we have a group of leaders who have risen excessively high and enjoy great prestige is in itself a great achievement for our Party. Obviously, the direction of a big country would be unthinkable without such an authoritative group of leaders. But the fact that as these leaders rise they get further away from the masses, and the masses begin to look up at them from below and do not venture to criticize them, cannot but give rise to a certain danger of the leaders losing contact with the masses and the masses getting out of touch with the leaders.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 76
It was precisely the “Stalinists’ who fought bureaucracy and excesses most consistently and who defended a correct line for collectivization.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 69 [p. 59 on the NET]
The danger of bureaucracy lies first of all in the fact that it holds back the colossal reserves concealed in the bosom of our social system, not allowing them to be utilized: it tries to nullify the creative initiative of the masses, binds them hand and foot with red tape and aims at reducing every new undertaking of the Party into a petty and insignificant business. The danger of bureaucracy lies, secondly, in the fact that it cannot tolerate having the execution of orders verified and strives to transform the principal directions of the leading bodies into a mere sheet of paper divorced from real life. The danger is represented, not only and not so much by the old bureaucratic derelicts in our institutions, as particularly by the new bureaucrats, the Soviet bureaucrats, amongst whom “communist” bureaucrats play a far from insignificant role. I have in mind those “communists” who try to replace the creative initiative and independent activity of the millions of the working-class and peasantry by office instructions and “decrees,” in the virtue of which they believe as a fetish.
The task is to smash bureaucracy in our institutions and organizations, to liquidate bureaucratic “habits” and “customs,” and clear the road for the utilization of the reserves of our social order, for the development of the creative initiative and independent activity of the masses.
It is no easy task. It cannot be settled in the twinkling of an eye to. But it has to be settled at all costs, if we really want to transform our society on socialist lines.
In its struggle against bureaucracy, the Party works in four directions: in the direction of the development of self-criticism, in the direction of organizing the verification of the execution of orders, in the direction of cleansing the apparatus, and, finally, in the direction of promoting to the state apparatus devoted members of the working-class from below.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 100
[Lev Borisovich says to Kamenev,] You see, he [Stalin] will become a man of destiny, a great figure who will occupy a permanent place in the world’s history. He will take his place in history as a nail enters the wall….”
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 94
[In a speech delivered at the 8th Congress of the Oil-Union Leninist Young Communist League on May 16, 1928 Stalin stated] Bureaucracy is one of the worst enemies of our progress.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 75
But one of the most serious obstacles, if not the most serious of all, is the bureaucracy of our apparatus. I am referring to the bureaucratic elements to be found in our Party, government, trade-union, co-operative and all other organizations. I am referring to the bureaucratic elements who batten on our weaknesses and errors, who fear like the plague all criticism by the masses, all control by the masses, and who hinder us in developing self-criticism and ridding ourselves of our weaknesses and errors.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 137
STALIN KEEPS VERY CLOSE WATCH ON PUBLIC OPINION
It would be an error to consider the Soviet leader a willful man who believes in forcing his ideas upon others. Everything he does reflects the desires and hopes of the masses to a large degree. He always has his ear to the ground, making it his business to find out what people are really thinking. Peasants and workers are encouraged to write their frank opinions. A large staff reads and reports on all the correspondence that comes in. Stalin himself takes samplings of the letters, and, in addition, sees many visitors from remote districts of the Union. There are some 20,000 full-time party secretaries scattered throughout the country who keep him constantly informed about “public opinion.” Stalin is very responsive to the state of mind of the people. This does not, however, prevent him from initiating policies he considers necessary although the populace has not asked or is not ready for them. He both leads and follows public opinion.
The forced collectivization of 1932 was an instance of something which Stalin felt simply could not wait for public opinion. At that time I asked why it would not be better to set up a model demonstration collective, equipped with modern machinery and methods, and convince the peasants by example, and by showing them the concrete benefits that collectivization would hold. The answer given me was that if the Soviets had 50 years of assured peace this would be preferable, but unfortunately, there would probably be a war within ten years and enforced collectivization was necessary if the Soviet state was to survive. There are few Russians, and few foreign observers, who would not now agree with this.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 12
Stalin took the attitude that, while he might have more education than the people he worked with, they knew more of the realities of life, and this is the key to much of his success.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 16
That Stalin listens to opinions was indicated by two changes of policy that occurred at times when he was wielding his power to maximum effect.
The first was in March, 1930, when the Communists, under Stalin’s leadership were rushing the peasants headlong to collectivization at a rate and to an extent which the peasants did not like. At that moment Stalin wrote an article called “Dizziness from Success,” in which he said that this hasty drive for collectivization was exaggerated and unwise…. This was not wholly a defeat for the collective-farm program, but it did mean that Stalin was sufficiently acute to realize that the peasant masses had been pushed too fast and far along the road of collectivization and did not like it. Later on, it is true, the farms were collectivized and Stalin won, but he had to do it more slowly and more carefully because of the pressure of public opinion….
Beria, who was devotedly attached to Stalin, had approached the Soviet leader on a mission identical to that of Kaganovich and Voroshilov, mainly to point out to him that the Purge was literally ruining the country. Stalin apparently had not realized how unpopular the Purge was and into what an intolerable fog of dismay and confusion it had plunged the Russian people. However, once he was informed of this by Kaganovich, Voroshilov, and Beria, he took immediate and vigorous action, not only to stop the Purge but to correct its evils as far as possible.
Duranty, Walter. Stalin & Co. New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1949, p. 23-24
WORKERS ARE EXPERIENCED FROM 3 REVOLUTIONS
Stalin stated, “The workers in the USSR grew up and received their training in the storms of three revolutions. They learned as no other workers learned, to try their leaders and expel them if they do not satisfy the interests of the proletariat. At one time the most popular man in our party was Plehanov (before the Revolution). However, the workers did not hesitate to isolate him completely when they became convinced that he had abandoned the proletarian position.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 33
SUMMARY OF THE 1936 CONSTITUTION
In 1935 Stalin was made chairman of a commission to draft a new constitution. When the draft was completed it was distributed for popular analysis and discussion. Sixty million copies in leaflet form were printed. These were issued in every one of the many languages spoken in the Soviet Union. Ten thousand newspapers with a total circulation of 37 million copies printed it in full. It was broadcast over the radio and discussed at over half a million meetings. As a result there were 134,000 suggested amendments. Every one of these suggestions was examined by the Commission and many were incorporated in an amended draft. This draft was further amended and finally approved at an extraordinary Congress of the Soviets in December 1936. Most Westerners are totally unaware that such a democratic process was ever in operation in the Soviet Union.
The Constitution provides for a federation of 16 Socialist Soviet Republics. It frankly recognizes the Socialist character of the government. A citizen may own only what he himself can use–a home, an automobile, personal belongings, and savings. He cannot own and exploit in his personal interest the mines, the oil, the forests, the factories–in other words the basic means a production and distribution. They belong to the people.
The Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to the citizens:
The right to work with payment according to quality and quantity.
The right to leisure–a seven hour working day “for the overwhelming majority of the workers” and “vacations with full pay.”
The right to security in old age and sickness; free medicine.
The right to free education.
Equal rights to all citizens irrespective of race.
Freedom of religious worship.
Freedom of organization–the Constitution specifies trade unions, cooperative organizations, youth organizations, sport and defense organizations, cultural, technical and scientific societies, as well as the All-Union Communist Party.
Freedom from arrest “except by order of the court or with the sanction of a state-attorney.”
Inviolability of the homes of citizens and privacy of correspondence are protected by law.
Freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly and of street demonstrations are guaranteed by law, but only “to strengthen the socialist system.”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 34
WORKERS ARE BABIED BY THE TRADE UNIONS
The peculiar characteristics of the Russian trade unions led some Western leaders to charge that they are not independent and are mere creatures of the state. On the other hand, Colonel Cooper, builder of the Dnieper River Dam, complained to me that the trade unions had too much power. “They babied the workers,” he said. “In America we would never think of providing the club facilities and the easy going work that they do in Russia. If a manager doesn’t get along with the workers, he may be fired. He has to agree pretty much with the trade union.”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 65
STALIN CONTENDS ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY PREVAILS IN THE SU
Stalin believes that inasmuch as all the basic means of production and distribution are owned by the nation, and that unemployment has been abolished, there is more genuine economic democracy than in the West.”
Stalin expressed this to me in the following words: “The fact that the factories and workshops of the USSR belong to the whole people and not to capitalists, that the factories and workshops are managed not by the appointees of capitalists, but by representatives of the working-class; the consciousness that the workers work, not for the capitalists, but for their own state, for their own class, represents an enormous driving force in the development and perfection of industry. It must be observed that the overwhelming majority of the factory and works managers in Russia are workingmen, appointed by the Supreme Economic Council in agreement with the trade unions and that not a single factory manager can remain at his post contrary to the will of the workers or the particular trade union.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 67
On the level of the workplace democracy did function during my years in the Soviet Union.
Blumenfeld, Hans. Life Begins at 65. Montreal, Canada: Harvest House, c1987, p. 151
SOVIET GOVT OPPOSED BUREAUCRACY
The Communist party has launched one campaign after another against bureaucratism and is making heroic efforts to overcome it, chiefly by drawing the workers and peasants more actively into all public functions, and by cutting out red tape.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 46
A number of criticisms can be made of Trotsky’s line of argument, including its ignoring of other possible sources of Stalinism and its characterization of the bureaucracy as conservative when it was under the auspices of this group that the ‘revolution from above’ was carried out.
Gill, Graeme. Stalinism. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1990, p. 58
The party was obliged to evaluate the party- and social work of old and new members and expel or purge those who did not attain a good enough level for communists. This process did not have a given end. The struggle against bureaucracy, corruption, opportunism and abuse of power within the party and state was carried out in many different ways during the thirties, and it was not always successful or devoid of errors.
Sousa, Mario. The Class Struggle During the Thirties in the Soviet Union, 2001.
NO SOVIET PRIVILEGED CLASS
The question is often raised as to whether or not Party members occupy a privileged position in Russia as compared with ordinary citizens. The answer to that must recognize first the fact that Party membership carries responsibilities far greater than those of an ordinary citizen. A member’s life is controlled by the party. His job, salary, outside activities, are all subject to orders like a soldier in an army. Members can be counted on for service as outsiders cannot….
But the picture so often painted of a ruling political class above and over the people of Russia, enjoying the privileges of greater wealth and position, is pure invention, originating probably in a comparatively few exceptions, some of them, it is true, flagrant enough to arouse public scandal. But the Party is severe on all those who seek personal privilege in goods or position out of office or Party membership. The Party constantly cleanses its membership by expulsion, getting rid of those who are not devoted, or who try to use the Party for their private interests, or whose “ideology” is not Communist. The Communist Party is hard to get into and easy to get out of.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 59
When I first went to Russia, the managing staff in industry were underpaid according to our standards, considering the heavy responsibilities they carried. This was especially true of those who were members of the Communist Party, who at that time agreed to accept maximum salaries considerably lower than the non-party staff, as evidence of their unselfishness and devotion to the cause of communism. Nearly all the chief managers of Soviet industry at this time received very small cash incomes. Even then, however, the managing staff had perquisites which ordinary workers could not get. They had the use of automobiles, special restaurants, better “closed stores,” and better houses.
After 1930, this system was gradually changed, and managers of all kinds, including Communists, were paid according to their position, with about the same relative differences as in this country. Some people in Russia today receive from 10 to 20 times as much cash income as ordinary workers.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 209-210
The communists except nominal managerial salaries for their labor. These salaries are minuscule. Communists, as a rule, get much less than non-communist technicians whom they hire. The theory is that all fruits of production are pooled for redistribution to the common good.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 565
VERY LITTLE PARTY CORRUPTION
The scores of Communists I met all over Russia, from secretaries in the small towns and villages to the heads of departments in Moscow, struck me with few exceptions as extraordinarily able and astute men–on the whole abler, more alert, and more devoted than any official class I ever met. This youth, enthusiasm, and faith in what they are doing stand out in marked contrast to the routineers so common in most government service.
It should be noted that the Party, unlike political parties in other countries, is not subject to any outside economic pressure or control. Every other dictatorship depends for its support on some propertied class–in most cases on the great landlords, as in Poland, Italy, and Hungary. The Russian Communist Party has no master, no class propping it up. Its policies are directed in the last analysis by the class interests of peasants and workers, a control sufficient to keep it eternally watching its step in a maze of problems. The Party’s freedom from the outside dictation of a propertied class practically eliminates the corruption and big graft which marked the czar’s regime, and which, let Americans bear in mind, mark politics in the United States. Such graft as exists in Soviet Russia is petty–and the Party is exceedingly severe on offenders.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 60
WORKERS AND PEASANTS DO NOT MAKE UP MOST OF THE CRITICS
…Indeed, the charge is made by some of the emigre anarchist and socialist opponents of the Bolshevik regime that most of the political exiles and prisoners are workers and peasants–a charge which seems without basis in the light of much dispassionate evidence given me in Russia. It is doubtless true that peasants are the largest group among the several hundred Left Social Revolutionist exiles and prisoners, and workers among some hundreds of anarchists. But in the total of exiles and prisoners peasants and workers constitute a small number among the thousands, mostly from the old bourgeoisie.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 179
Equally difficult as to estimate the number of exiles is to gauge their economic class origins. The socialist and anarchist committees abroad allege that the great majority are workers or peasants. But their incomplete lists do not bear out that contention. My informants in Russia, both officials and others, stated with remarkable unanimity, whatever their political views, that the proportion of factory workers and peasants is small; that most of the political exiles are ex-aristocrats or intellectuals, students, or office employees.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 230
Under the system of secrecy maintained by the GPU it is impossible to answer with evidence the allegation that the majority of the exiles are workers and peasants. But it does not square with the interests of the Soviet regime, nor with what one sees and hears all over Russia. The Socialist and anarchist committees abroad, while asserting the preponderance of workers and peasants, show only a small number of them on their lists.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 231
SOVIET AND ITALIAN DICTATORSHIPS ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT
…The comparison of Russia with Italy, so often made, is superficial. The two dictatorships are utterly unlike. Not only are their objectives diametrically opposed, but their relations to the masses or wholly dissimilar. The Italian regime is a one-man-and-the-police dictatorship, with the overwhelming mass of the Italians against it. The Russian regime is a dictatorship of a whole party and the police, with only a minority against it.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 271
BOLSHEVIK LEADERS COME FROM THE WORKING CLASS AND PEASANTRY
All these men of the Kremlin have a common background. They are almost without exception the sons of peasants or workers whose parents could not read or write. Out of their bitter impoverished youth came early revolutionary activity. Many of them spent years in political imprisonment or exile. Mastery of the science of revolution, and of the manipulation of revolutionary power, has been their goal all their lives. To that they have subordinated everything–absolutely everything.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 169
No member of the Politburo had an extensive formal education.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 172
There is a widespread assumption in America and Britain that…there is no such thing as public opinion or public or private criticism [in the SU]. If that were the case then there would be serious danger of an ever-widening gulf between government and people, until the rulers would presently be as remote as the czar was. Underground forces could then gather and assume explosive proportions before compromise measures could be enforced to divide the opposition.
The fact is, however, that public opinion does exist in Russia, and made itself felt during the war, in many overt and covert ways. First of all, remember that all Russia’s present high officials themselves rose from the peasantry or the working class. Many still consciously identify themselves with the peasants, even in their living habits; and all of them, subconsciously, react with the mentality of their own class toward given situations. Men like Kalinin and Andreyev, who spent their youth working in the village fields, and men like Voroshilov & Malenkov, who toiled over machines, probably do not need a ballot to tell them how the people feel about the way things are.
Secondly, there is, or at least is encouraged to be, a great deal of freedom of expression in local affairs. Collective farm villages do elect their own officers, and unpopular ones can be so easily sabotaged and ruined by the peasants that a party-dictated choice can seldom “stick.”
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 204
…The aim of the October Revolution had been to put the proletariat in power, and by 1939 most of the positions of authority in the USSR were filled by those whose social origins were either working-class or peasant.
Gill, Graeme. Stalinism. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1990, p. 27
All the Soviet leaders lived pretty much like this at that time. No one cared about luxury or possessions, though they did try to give a good education to their children. They hired good governesses of the old, prerevolutionary school, mainly to teach their children German. All the wives had jobs and read all they could in their spare time. Sports had just come into style. All of them played tennis, and they had tennis courts and croquet lawns at their dachas. The women paid no attention to make up or clothes, but they looked nice just the same.
…During my mother’s lifetime we had a normal, modest life.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 32
Many of these men–who rule 1/6 the land surface of the globe–were workmen with their hands, manual laborers, 15 or 20 years ago…. Even so, a neutral diplomat in Moscow, in a position to know, told me that he thought the members of the Politburo were personally as able as any governing body in the world.
The lives of most of Stalin’s men follow a similar pattern. They were workmen who turned revolutionary, and all but the youngest of them have a history, like Stalin, of underground political activity. The most important fact in their lives was the date when they entered the communist party; as a rule, their hierarchical position depends on this. Several have been imprisoned, and their prison sentences are proud badges of distinction.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 536
It [the Communist Party] is not an antagonistic group set over against the masses, “3 million people ruling a recalcitrant 160,000,000,” as is often pictured abroad. It is rather the most energetic part of 160 million, the ones who pledge their time to the public task of creating a new social and economic system, and who make this the continuing and dominant effort of their lives.
Strong, Anna Louise. Dictatorship and Democracy in the Soviet Union. New York: International Pamphlets, 1934, p. 11
PEOPLE WORKED OVERTIME AND HARD FOR THE SYSTEM
…Many willingly worked overtime, throwing all their energies into the effort to create a new society.
Gill, Graeme. Stalinism. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1990, p. 20
UPWARD SOCIAL MOBILITY UNDER STALIN
The chief characteristic of the social face of Stalinism during the 1930s was very high levels of social mobility. …the 1930s witnessed a real social revolution in the USSR. Throughout the entire society, members of the traditional lower classes moved into positions of power and privilege in all sectors of life. The old class structure based upon inheritance was demolished and a new social structure was emerging. …for the vast mass of those up early mobile families, the revolution meant steps towards the realization of aspirations to a more comfortable lifestyle. This social revolution, with the flow from the countryside into the towns and the percolation up into white-collar occupations of many of these new arrivals, transformed the society.
Gill, Graeme. Stalinism. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1990, p. 52
The dimensions of this change are unprecedented within such a short space of 35 years.
Gill, Graeme. Stalinism. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1990, p. 53
MOLOTOV SHOWS NAZIS DON’T HAVE A PROGRAM, PARTY RULES OR A CONSTITUTION
MOLOTOV: Do you have a party program? I asked Hess. I knew they didn’t. How could it be, a party without a program?
Do you have party rules? I knew they didn’t have party rules. But I decided to feel him out anyway. Hess was Hitler’s first party deputy, a party secretary. Bormann was his deputy.
I went on tripping him up. And do you have a constitution? They didn’t have that either. What a high level of organization!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 20
LIBRARY CENSORSHIP WAS REDUCED IN EARLY 1930’S
Despite the general tightening of literary “discipline,” the policy of censorship in the 1932-34 period was uneven. In June 1933 a circular letter from the Central Committee formally prescribed policies for “purging of libraries.” Back in 1930, during the ultra-Left upsurge of the “cultural revolution,” the party had insisted on removing literary and historical works by “bourgeois” and oppositionist authors from all libraries. The June 1933 circular, while approving the removal of “counter-revolutionary and religious literature,” along with the works of Trotsky and Zinoviev, took a relatively moderate line on library holdings in general. Works representing “historical interest” were to remain in the libraries of the larger towns, and closed or “special” collections were forbidden, as were mass purges of libraries.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 106
[Central Committee letter on purging of libraries, 13 June 1933]
In spite of the decision of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party [Bolshevik], categorically prohibiting mass purges of libraries, in many regions, territories, and republics, this decree is not being carried out. Departments of culture and propaganda have not drawn the necessary lesson from those distortions which have occurred. Instances of mass purges of libraries continue to take place right to the present day….
A] The removal of books from libraries is to be permitted only in accordance with special instructions from the Central Commission.
B] Under the leadership of the territorial commission, openly counter-revolutionary and religious literature [gospels, lives of the saints, sermons, etc.] shall be withdrawn, while literature having a historical interest shall be permitted in the large central city libraries….
D] The organization of “special” or “closed” stacks in libraries is hereby prohibited. Existing “closed” and special stacks are to be immediately abolished by entering all [works of] literature into the catalog of the libraries.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 107
Even here, the Politburo had difficulty taking control of the situation. The June 13th order was ignored by hot headed local activists, who continued to strip the libraries of books they considered counter-revolutionary. Yaroslavsky and other party leaders complained about this to the Politburo, prompting Molotov and Stalin to issue stronger strictures that characterized the purging of the libraries as “anti-Soviet” and again ordering it stopped.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 108
[October 16, 1932 Memorandum of Malstev to Rudzutak and Yaroslavski on purging the libraries]
Libraries have been purged of pernicious and outdated literature by the People’s Commissariat of Education without adequate instructions and control.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 77
STALIN WANTS INTELLIGENTSIA AND SPECIALISTS TREATED EASIER
In June 1931 Stalin’s “New Conditions, New Tasks” speech seemed to call a halt to the radical, class-based persecution of members of the old intelligentsia. The party’s policy should be “enlisting them and taking care of them,” Stalin said. It would be stupid and unwise to regard practically every expert and engineer of the old school as an undetected criminal and wrecker.” The following month, the Politburo forbade arrests of specialists without high-level permission. In the subsequent period, the Politburo intervened on several occasions to protect persecuted members of the intelligentsia and to rein in the activities of secret police officials persecuting them:…
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 109
PARTY LEADERS ADMIRED BY THE MASSES
[Nov. 29, 1935 NKVD report on an anti-Stakhanovist leaflet–Part of the leaflet said “Fight for a raise in your stipend!”]
We receive a stipend of 93 rubles [each]. If you wonder whether it is possible to live on that, the answer is “NO. Our board alone costs significantly more than that. First course–25 kopeks; second course–95 kopeks; bread–30 kopeks; for a total of one ruble, 50 kopeks; the total per month equals 4.50 x 30 equals 135 rubles. You can’t survive on that. When, oh when, will our “wisest,” “most brilliant,” “cherished” leaders understand this truism?!
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 214
HIGH TAXES WERE NEEDED TO RAISE MONEY
Stalin’s last minister of finance was Zverev…. Sholokhov called him “our iron minister of finance.”… He was derided for levying high taxes on everyone. But who to tax? Of course there were no bourgeoisie. He had to extract heavy taxes from our own, from peasants and workers. They say that orchards were destroyed–they were taxed only because fruit orchards near cities yielded supplementary incomes. You can get something out of them, so on went the tax. But just find another way. The state had to live somehow. No one would give us any money. What to do? In this matter, they say, Stalin acted badly–indeed, crudely, savagely, barbarically. But just put these “non-barbarians” in those conditions, let them ensure the life of the state and prevent its breakdown. Just find the means. They were simpletons who did not understand the most elementary things! But Zverev was stalwart. I value him for this.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 207
STALIN SAYS THE BEST WAY TO CONVERT OTHER COUNTRIES TO SOCIALISM IS BY EXAMPLE
GOLOVANOV: Stalin said that no propaganda, no agitation would be enough to unite the world proletariat around us. Instead we need to show that the people in our state live better than people live in America or in any other capitalist country. This would be the best kind of agitation, the best kind of propaganda.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 301
(Molotov picks up the party program booklet and reads Khrushchev’s conclusion that other nations will follow us once they see we live better than they)
You parrot Khrushchev’s rubbish. That’s nothing short of consumerism and even nationalism. Had the Bolsheviks waited for everyone to become literate, we would never have had a revolution. The workers in the Western countries enjoy better living conditions than we because their bourgeoisie robbed other countries as well as their own. Each Englishman used to have 10 slaves…. If we wait until we first raise our standard of living, expecting that others will then imitate us, we shall be nationalists who devote themselves solely to their own affairs, not communists. This is worse than Khrushchevism, this is utopianism.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 302
There is no denying that the regime succeeded to a considerable extent in channeling the enthusiasm of the younger generation to building up mammoth projects such as Magnitogorsk and Kuznetsk, Dneproges, Zaporozhe, and Stalingrad. There was widespread feeling that young Communists could (and would) “storm heavens.” The mood proved infectious: The Soviet example of seemingly lifting oneself up by one’s own bootstraps found increasing interest and support in the West at the very time when the capitalist world faced a severe recession. The “socialist sixth of the world” was transforming itself, and the Russian example, as many enthusiastic visitors predicted, would serve as an inspiration for everyone else.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 35
And Trotsky never seemed to realize that when Stalin said he could build socialism in a single country, the country was Russia, which is not a country at all–but a continent [of many nationalities]. Nor did it occur to Trotsky apparently that far and away the best single advertisement for world communism, in the future, would be a Russia which was successful, stable, safe.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 526
THE MAJOR PROGRESS OF THE SU WAS DONE UNDER STALIN’S LEADERSHIP
Since Stalin’s death we have lived on the reserves built up in Stalin’s time. [12-18-70]
I propose a toast–to Stalin! No one else could have borne, no one else could have endured the burden he carried on his shoulders. None but he had the iron nerve and strength it took!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 401
…Yet it is a fact that ‘Stalin found Russia working with a wooden plough and left her equipped with atomic piles’, even though the epoch of the wooden plough still persisted in lingering on all too many levels of her national existence. This summary of Stalin’s rule is, of course, a tribute to his achievement.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 624
Isaac Deutscher, the former Trotskyite and an independent Marxist author, was not uncritical of certain aspects of Stalin’s rule. But he, too, was overawed in his overall assessment of the man:…
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 17
A few pages further down, Deutscher observes:
“…it is a fact that ‘Stalin found Russia with a wooden plow and left her equipped with atomic piles’…. This summary of Stalin’s rule is, of course, a tribute to his achievement” The words quoted by Deutscher are quoted from his own obituary of Stalin published in the Manchester Guardian of March 6, 1953.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 50
… Even Roy Medvedev, no friend of Stalin’s and the author of the thoroughly anti-Stalin Let History Judge, has been obliged to say: “Stalin found the Soviet Union in ruin and left it a superpower. Gorbachev inherited a superpower and left it in ruin.”
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 50
…However, we must give them all their due. Despite their crimes, Beria, Stalin, Molotov, and Pervukhin succeeded in transforming the Soviet Union from a backward agrarian hinterland into a superpower armed with sophisticated nuclear weapons. While committing equally monstrous crimes against their opponents and innocent bystanders, Khrushchev, Bulganin, and Malenkov contributed much less to the transformation of the USSR. Unlike Stalin, they greatly weakened the state through their own power struggles. Gorbachev and his aides, governed no less by personal ambition, caused the crumbling of the state. Gorbachev and Yakovlev behaved like traditional party bosses, exploiting the name of democracy to strengthen their own power base. They were naive as statesman and under the illusion that they were capable of outmaneuvering their rivals and preserving their power. They accomplished nothing in domestic policy or in foreign affairs. In 1989 Gorbachev moved Honecker out of power in East Germany, hoping to strengthen socialism, but it backfired. He and Shevardnadze were incapable of negotiating economic concessions from the West in return for the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Eastern Europe.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 428
These advances are all connected, directly or indirectly, with Stalin. Stalin’s armies paved the way for revolution in Eastern Europe and assisted it in China. Once the foundations of socialism were established under his leadership in the USSR, a model was given to the world, for socialism, although differing in specifics and in different countries, is –like feudalism or capitalism–necessarily everywhere the same in its general nature.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 136
He [Stalin] gave positive leadership and transformed a vast, backward agrarian nation into a modern industrial power.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. xi
Soviet Russia today  is a superpower with a Navy probably already larger than the United States Navy, an Army certainly larger, and a weapon capacity at least equal. Stalin was the architect and creator of this military and economic might, which has been achieved within an astonishingly brief span of years.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. xv
…For such people [the urban citizenry] Stalinism provided an important means of upward social mobility, participation, and criticism. Under the Gensec’s rule, the country moved from backwardness to superpowerdom.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 232
When Stalin died in 1953, the Soviet Union was the second greatest Industrial, scientific, and military power in the world, and showed clear signs of moving to overtake the U.S. in all these areas. This was despite the devastating losses it suffered while defeating the fascist powers of Germany, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. The various peoples of the USSR were unified. Starvation and illiteracy were unknown throughout the country. Agriculture was completely collectivized and extremely productive. Preventive health care was the finest in the world, and medical treatment of exceptionally high quality was available free to all citizens. Education at all levels was free. More books were published in the USSR than in any other country. There was no unemployment.
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 8
Under his leadership, the Soviet Union had emerged as the strongest power in Europe by far and as a world power equal to the United States.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 11
Survivors of the Stalinist period reminded the public that for many people the 1930s had been a period of happiness and enthusiasm, when a feeling prevailed that great things were being achieved. A typical representative of the generation that “made it” under Stalin was Ivan Benediktov, who became the people’s commissar of agriculture in 1938 at the age of 35, remained in key government positions for many years, and eventually served as ambassador to India and Yugoslavia (1959-70). Among the main points made in Stalin’s defense are the following: Promotion under Stalin was by merit only. Many very young people (such as Voznesensky, Ustinov, Kosygin, Tevosian, and Vannikov) were appointed to key positions in their early 30s–and proved themselves. Thousands of innocents suffered, but the overall number has been grossly exaggerated; the general atmosphere was not one of fear, repression, and terror but of a mighty wave of revolutionary enthusiasm, of pride in country and party, and of belief in the leadership. Decisions taken at the top were far more democratic than generally believed; Stalin was not an extremist, but on the whole a fair and reasonable man. In fact, Khrushchev’s style was more autocratic than Stalin’s. As for the murder of the Red Army leadership, there is reason to believe that they plotted not against Stalin but against Voroshilov, who they thought was not equal to his task. Such behavior would not have been tolerated in any country.
… The 1930s had been a time of great enthusiasm, of national unity and pride, of belief in the leadership, and of a historical mission; young people had been given chances like never before, and so on.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 244
Stalin was, as we know, an abnormally suspicious, but also a sane and rational man. He had, by 1934, just succeeded, not in making the Soviet Union strong, but in putting it in the way to being so.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 261
This was a fantastic exaggeration but also a recognition of one indisputable achievement of Stalin’s reign: from the weak third-rate industrial and military country which she had been in 1924, Russia had become one of the world’s two superpowers.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 8
He [Stalin] left the Soviet Union as a world power and an industrial colossus with a literate society.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 3
DIFFICULT PERIODS LIE AHEAD
We have passed through difficult periods, but in my opinion even more difficult one’s lie ahead. [6-16-83]
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 404
EVERYTHING CONSIDERED THE BOLSHEVIKS ACTUALLY MADE FEW MISTAKES
When the Bolsheviks seized power in November 1917 this was the first time in history that a group with scientific understanding of the historical process had taken power and went on to change society by consciously utilizing these processes. The wonder, then is not that they made mistakes but that they made so few and that on the whole they succeeded.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 136
STALIN COULD PERSUADE WORKERS AND TALK TO THEM IN THEIR LANGUAGE
He would approach a worker, speak to him in a friendly way, and attach him to himself for ever. He would make a malcontent of one who was apathetic, and a revolutionary of a malcontent.
Sosso’s natural simplicity, his complete indifference to the conditions of personal life, his strength of character and his knowledge, which even at that time was remarkable, gave him authority, called people’s attention to him and kept it there. The Tiflis workers called him “our Sosso.”
Orakhelashvili, who was Sosso’s companion at that time, puts the matter in a nutshell: “He was neither pedantic nor vulgar.” He looked upon the militant Socialist as an interpreter who said the same things as the wisest theorist, but adapted them to the intelligence and degree of education of his listeners. How did he do this? By imagery and by giving vivid examples.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 10
“‘Our Soso,’ the workers spoke of him. It is well known that for intellectuals active in labor circles the most difficult thing was to find ‘a common language with the workers.’ In this regard Stalin was and remains to this day a rare exception. He has always been remarkably capable of explaining to workingmen the most complicated things and events in a clear, simple, and convincing manner. He was just as able to find the ‘ tongue’ of the peasants with whom he frequently came in touch in the revolutionary work in Georgia….
Yenukidze said, “Stalin never sought personal popularity. The circle of his persistent activity he limited exclusively to the working men and that of his underground coworkers. That is why the advanced workers and professional revolutionists knew him well and rated highly his qualities as an organizer and revolutionist.”
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 15-16
STALIN SAYS A GOOD LEADER MUST FIRST CONSULT THE MASSES BEFORE ACTING
And the great incentive, for those who are trying to bring about social progress, is faith in the masses. This faith in the great mass of the workers is the watch-word, the battle-cry which Stalin has uttered most often in the course of his career. “The most unseemly malady which can attack a leader,” he tells us, “is fear of the masses.” The leader needs them more than they need him. He learns more from them than they learn from him. As soon as a leader begins to make his plans without taking the masses into his conference, he is damned, as regards both victory and the cause.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 16
The older members were in favor of the distribution, in small doses, of “pure propaganda” to selected workers who should be charged with spreading the gospel. The younger members were for direct contact, for “the street.” It is hardly necessary to add that Stalin supported the latter tendency, and made it triumph.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 17
No, under no conditions would our workers now tolerate the domination of one person. Individuals of the greatest authority are reduced to nonentities as soon as they lose the confidence of the masses, and as soon as they lose contact with the masses. Plekhanov used to enjoy exceptional authority. And what happened? As soon as he began to commit political errors, the workers forgot him; they abandoned him and forgot him. Another instance: Trotsky. Trotsky also used to enjoy very great authority, although, of course, not as much as Plekhanov. What happened? As soon as he lost contact with the workers, he was forgotten…. They remember him sometimes–with bitterness…. As far as our class-conscious workers are concerned, they remember Trotsky with bitterness, with irritation, with hatred.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 245
The art of leadership is a serious matter. One must not lag behind a movement, because to do so is to become isolated from the masses. But one must not rush ahead, for to rush ahead is to lose contact with masses. He who wishes to lead a movement, and at the same time keep touch with the vast masses, must conduct a fight on two fronts–against those who lag behind and against those who rush on ahead.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 256
Even an absolute dictator – which Stalin was not – has to sell his policies to his people if he is to survive, particularly if he is asking them to risk their lives.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 328
Koba is a cynic but his knowledge of the masses is undeniable. No leader of our party, not even Ilyich, has understood the masses better than Koba…. Trotsky is but a novice in this field. He invents the masses instead of studying them.
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 220
But the fact that as these leaders rise they get further away from the masses, and the masses begin to look up at them from below and do not venture to criticize them, cannot but give rise to a certain danger of the leaders losing contact with the masses and the masses getting out of touch with the leaders.
This danger may result in the leaders becoming conceited and regarding themselves as infallible. And what good can be expected when the top leaders become self-conceited and begin to look down on the masses? Clearly, nothing can come of this but the ruin of the Party.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 34
DECISIONS MUST BE MADE AFTER CONSULTING THE MASSES
He [Stalin] strongly indicts “the lack of faith in the creative faculty of the masses” (under the pretext that they are not sufficiently developed intellectually). If they are properly taught they will both lead themselves and lead you. No “aristocracy of leaders with regard to the masses,” because it is the masses themselves who are called upon to destroy the old order and to build up the new. Not to be nursemaids and governesses to the crowd: because, quite definitely, they learn less from our books than we learn from them. So that it is only by collaboration with the masses that proper government can take place.
“To be at the wheel and to stare blindly ahead until a catastrophe occurs does not mean leadership. The Bolsheviks do not understand the act of leadership in this way. To lead one must foresee…. If you are isolated, even with other comrades who are also leading, you will only see everything if, at the same time, hundreds of thousands, millions of workers are on the look out for weaknesses, discover errors and apply themselves to the achievement of the common task.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 151
STALIN BELIEVES PERSUASION NOT FORCE SHOULD BE USED WITH THE MASSES
And in dealing with the masses, persuasion, not violence, must be used. When Zinoviev defended the theory of dictatorship of the Party in 1925, Stalin rose up in arms against “this narrow point of view” and declared that there must be complete harmony between the Party and the mass of the people, and that mutual confidence should not be destroyed by any abstract and unlimited rights which the party chose to confer upon itself. In the first place, the Party may be mistaken: and even if it is not, the masses may take some time to see that it is right.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 151
In his answers to Ludwig’s questions Stalin kept his end up most creditably. He explained that force alone could not possibly keep the Communists in power and that they would have been overthrown but for the fact that they always told the truth; that he was no more than a continuation of Lenin; that in any case all decisions were taken in ‘our Areopagus’, the Central Committee.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 183
The three or four rooms and the corridors that we passed through were quite simple but efficiently furnished as offices. A carpet with wide red borders leads to Stalin’s room. He received us there immediately. My companion was a young journalist who speaks several languages excellently and translates very precisely. Stalin and Mustapha Kemal are the only men with whom I have had to converse through the medium of an interpreter. The room which we entered was long and at the far end of it a medium-sized man in a light brown jacket stood up from his chair. He was dressed with painful neatness, just as the room was arranged with the hygienic accuracy of a doctor’s consulting room. A large table stood in the middle, as in an ordinary board-room, with plain water carafes and glasses and large ashtrays. Everything was in apple-pie order. The walls were colored dark green. Pictures of Lenin and Marx and several other people unknown to me hung there, but they were all just enlarged photographs. Stalin’s desk was also in perfect order and on it was a photograph of Lenin, besides four or five telephone apparatuses, such as one finds in all these government offices.
“Good evening,” I said, in stumbling Russian. He smiled and seemed somewhat embarrassed but he was extremely courteous and began by offering me a cigarette. He assured me that I was at full liberty to say what I liked and to ask whatever questions I liked and that he had an hour -and-a-half free. But when I drew out my watch at the end of the time he made a prohibitive gesture and kept us for another half-hour. A certain degree of embarrassment is as graceful in a man of power as it is in a beautiful woman. In the case of Stalin it did not surprise me at all because he scarcely ever sees people from the West. None of the present ambassadors or envoys, and scarcely any of the great experts, have ever seen him. The only foreigner who has free access to him is little old Cooper, the American hydraulic engineer, who is constructing the cofferdam on the Dnieper. Though my interpreter holds an important position in the Bolshevik Press organizations, he had never seen Stalin before. Since he had to speak constantly through the medium of the interpreter, Stalin was looking away from me practically all the time and for the whole two hours he kept on drawing figures on a piece of paper. With a red pencil he drew red circles and arabesques and wrote numbers. He never turned the pencil round though at the other end it was blue. During the course of our conversation he filled many sheets of paper with red markings and from time to time folded them and tore them to pieces. The result was that I managed to get his glance straight into my face only for a few seconds…. His look was dour and the expression veiled. But it was not the glance of a misanthropist.
In the long pauses that were necessary for translation and re-translation I had a very good opportunity for observing his movements, especially as he speaks so slowly. Such pauses enable an interviewer to introduce a change of theme in the conversation and thus the better to search the mind of his interlocutor. Stalin’s habit of sitting absolutely immobile and of scarcely ever emphasizing a word with a gesture made this all the easier. When I am conversing with anybody I have a habit of standing up and walking about. If I had done it here it might have been considered strange.
What completed the picture of Stalin, as I have already described it, was the heavy and muffled tone of his voice. It was the kind of voice that could never speak the word of destiny “I Will” with fiery emotion. He could only let the syllables fall like heavy hammer blows. The chief impression that I got of him was that of a protector. Stalin is a man before whose name many men and women have quaked, but one could never imagine a child or an animal doing so. In a former age such a man would have been called the father of his country.
…Stalin gave me an exhaustive answer each time and I shall not shorten it here. He spoke in short clear sentences, not as a man who is accustomed to simplify things before public audiences, but as a logical and constructive thinker whose mind works slowly and without the slightest emotion. This man who is now the exponent of the whole Moscow ideology struck me as a typical disciple of Hegel…. Stalin takes the point of an argument immediately, lays it on the table, as it were, talks around it and then comes close to it and carefully brings historical data and statistical percentages to bear on it. When he spoke he seemed to me to be absolutely a contradiction of Prince Bulow. He scarcely ever gave me the merely official answer, the experience which I have had with most of the other Communists.
Although he could not have been prepared for most of my questions and although he has not had the experience of our European ministers of State who are asked the same questions week after week, and although he knew that I would publish his answers to the world, he did not correct himself once. He had all the historical data and names at his fingertips. He did not ask for any copy of what my interpreter wrote down and he did not ask for any corrections to be made. I had never before experienced the same kind of self-confidence. In all my conversations with other leaders, I have not taken down what they have said at the moment but have recorded it afterwards and submitted it to them for authorization. But here I took the stenographical text as it was taken down by another person and when I examined it I could not find the slightest omission and yet nothing had been bettered. Outside of one mere private question, he did not ask me to tone down anything or omit this or that. When I recall to mind the habits of our poor ministers, when they are preparing a parliamentary speech or having an interview corrected by the head of their press bureau, I am filled with respect for the shoe-maker’s son from the Caucasus….
“You have led a life of a conspirator for such a long time,” I said, “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, 15 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 General Krasnow 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. Afterwards it became clear that with this policy we were undermining the very system that we were endeavoring to construct. We had begun by making a mistake. Leniency towards such a power was a crime against the working classes. That soon became apparent. The Social Revolutionaries of the right and the Mensheviks, with Bogdanov and others, then organized the Junker revolt and fought against the Soviets for two years. Mamontow joined them. We soon saw that behind these agents stood the great Powers of the West and the Japanese. Then we realized that the only way to get ahead was by the policy of absolute severity and intransigence….”
“This policy of cruelty,” I said, “seems to have aroused a very widespread fear. In this country I have the impression that everybody is afraid and that your great experiment could succeed only among this long-suffering nation that has been trained to obedience.”
“You are mistaken,” said Stalin, “but your mistake is general. Do you think it possible to hold power for 14 years merely by intimidating the people? Impossible. The Czars knew best how-to rule by intimidation. It is an old experiment in Europe; and the French bourgeoisie supported the Czars in their policy of intimidation against the people. What came of it? Nothing.”
“But it maintained the Romanovs in power for 300 years,” I replied.
“Yes, but how many times was that power not shaken by insurrections? To forget the older days, recall only the revolt of 1905. Fear is in the first instance a question of the mechanization of administration. You can arouse fear for one or two years and through it, or at least partly through it, you can rule for that time. But you cannot rule the peasants by fear. Secondly, the peasants and the working classes in the Soviet Union are by no means so timid and long-suffering as you think. You believe that our people are timid and lazy. That is an antiquated idea. It was believed in formerly, because the landed gentry used to go to Paris to spend their money there and do nothing. From this arose an impression of so-called Russian laziness. People thought that the peasants were easily frightened and made obedient. That was a mistake. And it was a three-fold mistake in regard to the workers. Never again will the workers endure the rule of one man. Men who have reached the highest pinnacles of fame were lost the moment they lost touch with the masses. Plechanow had great authority in his hands but when he became mixed up in politics he quickly forgot the masses. Trotsky was a man of great authority, but not of such high standing as Plechanow, and now he is forgotten. If he is casually remembered it is with a feeling of irritation.” (At that point he sketched something like a ship with his red pencil.)
I did not intend to mention Trotsky to Stalin, but since he himself had broached the subject, I asked: “Is the feeling against Trotsky General?”
“If you take the active workers, nine -tenths speak bitterly of Trotsky.”
There was a short pause during which Stalin laughed quietly and then took up the thread of the question again: “You cannot maintain that people may be ruled for a longtime merely by intimidation. I understand your skepticism. There is a small section of the people which is really afraid. It is an unimportant part of the peasant body. That part is represented by the kulaks. They do not fear anything like the intimidation of the reign of terror but they fear the other section of the peasant population. This is a hang-over from the earlier class system. Among the middle-classes, for example, especially the professional classes, there is something of the same kind of fear, because these latter had special privileges under the old regime. Moreover, there are traders and a certain section of the peasants that still retain the old liking for the middle-class.
“But if you take the progressive peasants and workers not more than 15 percent are skeptical of the Soviet power, or are silent from fear or are waiting for the moment when they can undermine the Bolshevik date. On the other hand, about 85 percent of the more or less active people would urge us further than we want to go. We often have to put on the brakes. They would like to stamp out the last remnants of the intelligentsia. But we would not permit that. In the whole history of the world there never was a power that was supported by nine-tenths of the population, as the Soviet power is supported. That is the reason for our success in putting our ideas into practice. If we ruled only by fear not a man would have stood by us. And the working classes would have destroyed any power that attempted to continue to rule by fear. Workers who have made three revolutions have had some practice in overthrowing governments. They would not endure such a mockery of government as one merely based on fear.”
“When I hear repeatedly about the power of the masses,” I said, “I am surprised at the hero worship that is more prevalent here than anywhere else, for this is the last place that one would logically expect to find it. Your materialistic conception of history, which is what separates me personally from you–for I hold that men make history–should prevent leaders and symbols from being shown in the form of statues and pictures on the street. You are the very people who, logically, ought not to revere the Unknown Soldier or any other individual. Now how can you explain that contradiction?”
“You are mistaken. Read that part of Marx where he speaks of the poverty of philosophy.”
Above Stalin’s head hung a portrait of the white-haired Karl Marx. And every time the conversation turned to the great Socialist, I had to look at the portrait.
“There,” continued Stalin, “you will find that men make history. But not in the way that your fancy suggests. Men make history rather in their reactions to the definite circumstances in which they find themselves placed. Every generation has a new set of circumstances to face. In general it can be said that great men are of value only insofar as they are able to deal with the circumstances of their environment. Otherwise they are Don Quixotes. According to Marx himself, one should never contrast men and circumstances. As far as my opinion goes, it is history that makes men. We have been studying Marx for 30 years.”
“And our professors interpret him differently,” I suggested.
“That is because they try to popularize Marxism. He has himself never denied the importance of the role of the hero. It is in fact very great.”
“May I therefore conclude that here in Moscow also one man rules and not the council. I see 16 chairs around the table.”
Stalin looked at the chairs: “The individual does not decide. In every council there are people whose views must be taken into account but wrong views also exist. We have had the experience of three revolutions and we know that out of 100 decisions made by individuals 90 are one-sided. Our leading organ is the Central Committee of the Party and it has 70 members. Among the 70 members are some of our most capable industrialists and our cooperatives and our best tradesmen, also some of our ablest authorities on agriculture and co-operative as well as individual farming, finally some men who have a first-class knowledge of how to deal with the various nationalities that make up the Soviet Union. This is the Areopagus in which the wisdom of the party is centered. It gives the individual the possibility of correcting his partial prejudices. Each contributes his own experience for the general benefit of the Committee. Without this method very many mistakes would be made. Since each person takes his part in the deliberations our decisions are more or less correct.”
“So you refuse to be a dictator,” I said, “I have found the same tactics are used by all dictators. In Europe you are painted as the bloodthirsty Czar or the aristocratic freebooter from Georgia.”
He laughed in a genial way and blinked at me as I continued: “Since there are stories going around of bank robberies and other burglaries which you organized as a youth in order to help the party, or at least countenanced, I should like to know how much of all these we are to believe.”
The peasant instinct in Stalin now came to the fore. He went across to his writing-desk and brought me a pamphlet of about 20 pages which contained his biographical data in Russian but naturally nothing in answer to my question.
“There you will find everything,” he said, obviously pleased at this debonair way of giving a negative answer. I began to laugh and asked: “Tell me if you do not feel yourself to be the follower of Stenka Rasin, the noble rapparee whose legendary deeds I have heard recounted on the Volga, where they were done.”
He returned to his constructive logical way of talking.
“We Bolsheviks,” he said, “apart entirely from our national origin, have always been interested in personalities like Bolotnikow, Stenka Rasin, Pugatschew, because they emerged spontaneously from the first elementary uprising of the peasantry against the oppressor. It is interesting for us to study the first signs of that awakening. Historical allegories, however, are out of the question; and we have not idealized Stenka Rasin. Individual uprisings, even when organized with the capacity that characterized these three leaders I have mentioned, lead to nothing. A peasant revolution can attain its ends only when it is united with the revolution of the workers and led by the latter. Only a revolution integrally organized and welded together in all its parts can lead to its goal. This you cannot have among the peasants because they alone form an independent class. Moreover, the three insurrectionary leaders that I have mentioned were all Tsarist. They were against the landed gentry but for our good Czar. That was their battle cry.”
The hands of the watch that I had placed before me on the table showed that our time was growing short. I put another question in an innocent way, as if I did not know about America in Russia: “Everywhere in this country,” I said, “I find that America is respected. How is it possible that any State whose aim is to overthrow capitalism can pay its respect to a country in which capitalism has reached its highest grade of development?”
Without a moment’s pause, Stalin gave a magnificent answer: “You are overstating things. Here there is no general respect for everything that is American. There is only a respect for the American sense of practicality in everything, in industry, in literature and in business; but we never forget that it is a capitalist land. They are sound people, or at least there are many sound people there, sound in mind as well as in body, sound in their whole attitude towards work and towards everyday facts. The practical business side of American life in its simplicity has our admiration.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 369-378
STALIN SAYS THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION IS THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT
Tirelessly, Stalin began at the beginning, put each principle in its proper place, and once more laid it down that “the fundamental question of Leninism, its starting-point, is not the peasant question but the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the question of the conditions of obtaining it, and the conditions of its retention. The question of the peasantry as allied to the proletariat in its struggle for power, is a subsidiary question.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 177
Stalin, supported by Molotov and several others, defended Lenin’s new conception: the dictatorship of the proletariat, resting on the poorest peasants, can alone assure a solution of the tasks of the democratic revolution and at the same time open the era of socialist transformations. Stalin was right as against Volodarsky, but he did not know how to prove it.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 216
LENIN ATTACKS THOSE ATTACKING THE GOVT UNDER THE GUISE OF REJECTING BUREAUCRACY
Bureaucracy? Yes, no doubt one is always right when one abuses it. It has a deplorable tendency either to become sterile and fat, or thin to mummification. But, all the same, the Administration has a broad back and very often one blackguards it with theatrical violence and with one’s eyes shut, solely because one wants, for one reason or another, to attack the government. More than 20 years earlier, in 1903, Lenin replied to the Mensheviks and to Trotsky: “It is obvious that outcries against the bureaucracy are only a method of showing one’s dissatisfaction with the composition of the central organization. You are a bureaucrat because you were elected by the Congress, not by my wishes, but in spite of them…. You are acting in a barberous, mechanical way because you take orders from the majority of the Congress of the Party and pay no heed to my desire to be personally consulted…. You are an autocrat because you do not wish to restore the power into the hands of the old group of your colleagues, which defends its own ideas all the more energetically because it objects to being disregarded by the Congress.” Thus Lenin expressed himself, and he was an amazingly good psychologist with a hundred piercing eyes.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 186
STALIN SAYS MARXISTS ARE NOT TRYING TO EQUALIZE EVERYONE
And yet, these men who are content for themselves to live a dull, often ascetic, life, are by no means fanatics on the subject of leveling, as many people think. With us, the average man–whose brain does not yet know how to digest ideas properly and whose head is filled with a strange farrago of headings of social and political doctrines–has three great grievances against the Communist, grievances such that they transform the said Communist into an ogre. They are that he is anti-patriotic, that he wants to deprive everyone of his possessions, and that he wants to turn society into a vast disciplined and equalized barracks, and to level everyone’s intelligence like paving-stones. But the Communist Internationalists are, on the contrary, all in favor of national expansion, on the sole condition that is not obtained by war, and is not put into the hands of so-called businessmen. Their general theory of the suppression of private property only harms a negligible number of social parasites and profiteers, and it brings with it enormous benefit to all the other inhabitants of the Earth. (All public evils result, beyond any question, from the moral and material chaos brought about by the general struggle to grow rich.) As for leveling, they are its avowed enemies as soon as it goes beyond that great law of justice and of equity (the basis, in fact, of Socialism) which consist in giving each human being precisely the same political power, that is to say, in effacing the artificial and pernicious inequality on the threshold of destiny. It would be easy to show that Socialism is, of all regimes, the one which cultivates individuality the most and the best.
Stalin is very insistent on this point: “By equality, Marxism does not mean the leveling of personal requirements and conditions of existence, but the suppression of classes, that is to say equal enfranchisement for every worker after the overthrow and expropriation of the Capitalists…. The equal duty of everyone to work according to his capacity, and the equal right of all workers to be remunerated according to work they do (socialist society): the equal duty of everyone to work according to his capacity and the equal right of all workers to be remunerated according to their needs (communist society). Marxism starts from the fact that the needs and taste of men can never be alike nor equal either in quality or in quantity, either in the socialist or the communist era. Marxism has never recognized and does not now recognize any other form of equality.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 236-237
Later when I turned the conversation to the astonishing volte-face in which the communism of recent years cast all its boasted equality behind it, Stalin made a long and doctrinaire reply. He described a perfectly Socialist society as an impossibility so long as classes existed, and so long as work was a burden for many, and pleasure for only a few.
“Every man according to his abilities and attainments; that is the Marxist formula for the first stage of socialism. In the final stage, every man will produce as much as he can and be paid according to his needs. Socialism has never denied differences in tastes and needs, the extent of such differences. Why, Marx attacks the principal of absolute equality! In the West, people imagine that we want first to collect everything, then distribute it in a thoroughly primitive fashion. That might do well for Cromwell, but not for our scientific socialism.”
Ludwig, Emil. Three portraits: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. New York Toronto: Longmans, Green and Company, c1940, p. 120
CRITICISM OF THE SU SHOULD FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE AS WELL AS THE NEGATIVE
…one must always give the true proportion between good and evil–which is never done, so far as the USSR is concerned, when criticism is inconsiderately leveled at it without paying the least attention to the point of view of the other side.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 239
STALIN SAYS THE SU WILL NOT SEIZE OR YIELD LAND
“We do not want one foot of anyone else’s land, but we will not yield an inch of our own.” (Stalin.)
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 247
GOODS ARE UNEQUALLY DISTRIBUTED BECAUSE OF ECONOMIC NATIONALISM
Gone, in the first quarter of the 20th century, is the time when the capitalist stomach had the Equator as its belt.
It is not over-production that should be indicted, for, actually, the world does not produce enough for its needs, but the disorder in the distribution of produce as a result of economic nationalisms.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 251
THE CAPITALIST DISGUISE OF FASCISM
Capitalism, to continue to be Capitalism, has had to disguise its aims. It has done so with a great deal of false modesty. As Stalin expressly said, some time ago, Capitalism cannot emerge from the crisis with “it’s head held high,” it can only emerge from it “on all fours.”
Faced with the progress of socialism and the advance of their own decay, the middle classes soon pull themselves together. They improved their program of conservative seizure (having the material means of doing so), and today they are rising to the surface again, carefully disguised. The capitalist system is discreetly tucked away into the background, and is no longer visible in the foreground at all.
That disguise called Fascism–which, without being a necessary adjunct to middle-class power, does in fact occur almost everywhere (and has become the new uniform of Capitalism)–has as its main objective the division of the enemy and especially the isolation of the working classes and socialism at the same stroke, by getting the workers who do not belong to the laboring classes on its side. This scheme was very carefully prepared by continuous, intensive, very carefully prepared propaganda starting soon after the end of the war [WWI], at a period at which the ruling classes were crippled and were rapidly losing their hold over the masses.
Discontent, resulting from all the disillusionment and all the hardships of post-war existence, has been fostered and exploited by Capitalism through a certain democratic demagogism and by certain ideas dishonestly borrowed from socialist terminology. Capitalism has extracted from these a compound of all the bitterness, all the disillusionment and all the anger, and has diverted it and directed it against a few cock-shies set up by itself.
One of these cock-shies (apart from socialism) is the parliamentary system which, it is declared, must be swept away, in addition to Socialism, so that the last semblance of liberty may disappear (liberty itself having already vanished). So the parliamentary system (which really thoroughly deserves it!) is accused of all the sins of Israel, thereby cunningly shifting them from the shoulders of the middle-class system itself.
And they have all the other scapegoats they need. Present-day Reaction has protested louder than anyone else against the scandals, frauds, and semi-official embezzlements with which its own methods are so filled, and it has gone out of its way to incriminate with these misdeeds of the capitalist system, not indeed all capitalists, but only those who have at length grown weary of the colossal complacency of class legislation.
And by thus playing with words (as, for instance, with the elastic word “regime”), the new-fangled Reaction has created a certain anti-Capitalism with excellent demagogic scope. It is the only means of preserving Capitalism: suppress parliament and install in its place a dictatorial government, and prosecute the villains who have committed the crime of being found out, and Capitalism becomes unassailable.
This activity in defense of Capitalism, with its rudiments of a superficial and negative programme, emanates from all sorts of different organizations only differing from one another by their titles, and forming a solid opposition group to the workers’ movement.
The peasant classes and the lower middle-classes are set against the workers; officials are set against manual laborers; and everyone is set against the officials. The taxpayers, all the ex-soldiers who do not understand the situation, and the very young men, are dazzled. The controlling idea is to gather all those who are not already organized, the floating population, in fact, into a new organization over which control can be kept, and to smother the worker in it.
Socialism–the threadbare, mangy author of all evil–is decried at the same time as the parliamentary system, by putting it in an entirely false light. People are horrified by being made to believe that Socialism is plotting their destruction.
People say: “Socialists have been in power in England and in Germany. See what they have done.” They omit to add that the people in question were perhaps socialist in name, but that they never applied the principles of Socialism. And indeed it must be recognized that this piece of sophistry is partly reinforced by the very real disappointment which certain Social-Democratic leaders, by their actions during and after the war, gave to the workers. All their pandering, whether disloyal or merely childish, and their actual betrayal of the workers, have to some extent discredited Socialism, and have appreciably weakened it among certain classes of workers which are not yet ripe for ruthless and uncompromising Communism.
So we see Mr. MacDonald, a Socialist converted to the virtues of Capitalism, being exhibited with pride, “much as a reformed drunkard is exhibited by a temperance society,” says Mr. Snowden. As for the achievements of the USSR these are hidden, and stolen from the people.
The neo- Reactionaries are particularly virulent (as is natural) against trade unionism. We know what Mussolini thinks about it, and we also know the sentiments of those who prompt Hitler with what he has to say. And not long ago, Monsieur Tardieu explicitly said: “To overcome the world crisis, all that is required is effective control of trade unions.” The Corporate State systems which flourish in Italy, in Germany, and (in disguise) in France, are based precisely on this principle. It is the system of intimidation and of new militarism –which fills Herr Krupp with enthusiasm; it transforms every worker into a soldier–a machine tool or a rifle on two legs.
But the great weapon of Fascism against Socialism is Nationalism.
National unity and greatness, prophesies Fascism, can only be acquired if Internationalism, which is the principal element of disorder, misery, and perdition, is crushed. So down with foreigners, naturalized aliens, and Jews!–down, above all, with Socialists and Communists.
Nationalism is the principal driving force of Fascism. It is a kind of chauvinistic intoxication which makes this timely re-grouping of Capitalism proceed. It is its leaven.
A powerful leaven, indeed–the simplest, the most terrible and the most dynamic of all. Its passion inflames hundreds of millions of people. The myth of national interest or national honor inflames the dullest and most apathetic of citizens–and how much more so empty-headed, loud-voiced youth! It is the most stupid of all evil instincts because, being highly contagious, it blindly paves the way for every calamity.
“Ourselves, ourselves alone!” A comprehensive formula which avoids all deep reflection and foresight. The most valuable key-formula. One which appeals to the vital interests of the rich, of military men, and of churchmen, and at the same time to the stupidity of everyone else.
Social preservation then, takes the form–for the final struggle–of so-called moral and national reconstruction trampling Socialism and the free citizen underfoot, and of a strong power which raises itself, with its soldiery, above any criticism. It is the capitalist police converted into a party.
This is the dope which Fascism has served out and is still serving out to the taxpayers–consisting of claiming to be able to put an end to the crisis and the depression by the help of the same methods that brought in about. The various forms of Fascism differ among themselves superficially; but underneath they are all the same.
However much it may establish a sort of farce of democracy, a sort of caricature of Socialism, and however loudly it gives expression to revolutionary sentiments and ideas of controlled economy–and even anti-Fascism–and however much it climbs up upon proletarian principles in order to raise itself higher, this so-called doctrine of popular reconstruction, which has installed itself in Italy, in Germany, in Hungary, in Poland, in the Balkan Peninsula, in Portugal, in Austria (where the liberators have met with the most frightful butchery and the most appalling tortures), and which at the present moment is recruiting adherents among the youth, the lower middle-classes and the faithful of the churches of France and of other countries, is no more democratic than it is new. It is the old Capitalism beplumed, tin-plated and militarized, and it consists of the same enormous fundamental contradictions running through a doctrine that is so vague that ordinary people can–at first–be made to believe that they are being pushed forward when they are really being dragged back.
It achieves nothing. Fascism is not and never will be anything but a veneer, and the only really imaginative or original things that Fascists have ever done have been to decide upon the color of their shirts and to persuade the people that one can live on smoke.
It still remains that form of society in which one only prospers in proportion as one ruins someone else, in which one only lives by killing other people, that form of society which invades new continents in order to steal weak countries and to make the natives pay for the very air they breathe, that abject form of society in which one cannot be honest without being a fool, where the elections violate the will of the people, where men exploit each other, assassinate each other, and the payment of all the great social debts is indefinitely postponed by illusive appearances of settlement, and the people are perpetually dancing over a concealed volcano.
Such a system cannot possibly put an end to the crisis; it can only make it worse, because the more Nationalism develops, the more it proceeds to its own destruction.
It produces nothing–except, perhaps, a death sentence. The “order” proclaimed by middle-class rule is that of the cemetery.
What can be the outcome of it all? Only war. And once more we shall have snout-like gas-masks, train-loads of soldiers– hearses full of living men–masses of people rushing headlong to get themselves killed, fields turned into heaps of scrap-metal, villages into stone heaps, and whole peoples asphyxiated in subterranean prisons.
But war is also social revolution scattered broadcast in the furrows of the trenches and over every hearth in the cities.
In the meantime, the chances that this spectral program, the program of blundering delusion and of annihilation, has of taking root anywhere–apart from its pretense of democracy–is that it has on its side brute force, the force of the State. Because all European and American governments are either fascist or pre-fascist.
Capitalism, dragged down in the landslide of statistics, in the melting away of figures, and economically ruined, is still strong politically. Its bankrupt partisans are armed to the teeth. They can no longer keep their feet but they possess machine guns, tanks, bombs, armies; they have crowds of policemen who would look well in an agricultural show. They control the law courts (the prisons), the newspapers, the schools, diplomacy, and aggressive alliances. Legality belongs to them alone and they coin laws as they do money, inflating them as they inflate their currencies.
They have all they need in order to sweep away men of independent thought, to plunder the weak, to exploit civilization to their own evil ends, to instill national confidence to a point of wildest enthusiasm into a part of the lower middle-classes, even to death itself, to squander the efforts of the people and to maintain for a little while longer the era of decadence and destruction.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 252-258
Fritz Thyssen was the first to shout “Heil Hitler” at the Dusseldorf meeting in February…. It means that big business has already decided to install the house painter in the Wilhelmstrasse.
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 219
ABORTION WAS MADE ILLEGAL TO INCREASE THE POPULATION
Free abortion had also dramatically reduced the birthrate during the thirties, to the point where the government banned it in 1936 to increase the population.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 101 [p. 91 on the NET]
If after years of careful experiment, it is found that abortion has an evil affect on the health of women resorting to it, that it is being used as a substitute for birth control, there is nothing in Socialism which justifies the toleration of such a state of affairs.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 118
One distinguished American doctor who examined the situation with reference to abortion, came to the following conclusions:
“All doctors, however, agreed that repeated abortions affected the woman’s health in a serious way. Although it is impossible to give accurate statistical data about morbidity following induced abortion, yet there is no doubt that menstrual disturbances, endocrine troubles, sterility, and ectopic pregnancy were frequently observed as a result of repeated abortions.”
“Repeated abortion is harmful to the mother’s health and hence should be forbidden in any society that is able (1) to guarantee a job to all its members, men and women; (2) to provide medical and social institutions to care for mother and child free of charge; (3) to give adequate financial aid to large families; (4) to give contraceptive advice to all who seek it” (H. E. Sigerist, M.D.–Socialized Medicine in the Soviet Union, pp. 266 and 271).
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 119
In 1936, in view of the rising standard of welfare of the people, the government passed a law prohibiting abortion, at the same time adopting an extensive program for the building of maternity homes, nurseries, milk centers and kindergartens. In 1936, 2,174,000,000 rubles were assigned for these measures, as compared with 875 million rubles in 1935. A law was passed providing for considerable grants to large families. Grants to a total of over one billion rubles were made in 1937 under this law.
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 340
BOLSHEVIK PARTY WAS NOT MONOLITHIC
It is a dangerous illusion to think of the Bolshevik party as “monolithic”. It began as a fraction of another party and continued thereafter to produce further fractions and splits. Every year continuously after the Revolution some group opposed the central leadership….
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 85
STALIN ALLOWED GREATER FREE SPEECH THAN HIS SUCCESSORS
… Two writers, Daniel and Siniavskii, were arrested in 1966 for having published satirical stories abroad under pseudonyms. Their crime was “spreading anti-Soviet propaganda.” Even Stalin had not used this argument against intellectuals. Daniel and Siniavskii were sentenced to terms in a labor camp, but their convictions spurred 63 members of the Moscow Union of Writers to protest the harm such persecution could do to Soviet culture. Further arrests led to further protests, a phenomenon unknown under Stalin’s terror.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 264
[Feb. 7, 1970, letter from Tvardovskii, the manager of Novyi Mir, to Brezhnev]
No matter how strange it may seem, Stalin showered me with decorations and medals when he was alive, while the Stalinists of today are hounding me.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 280
AMERICAN SAYS THERE IS MORE INCORRECT INFO ABOUT THE SU THAN ANY OTHER TOPIC
[Speech given by Col. Cooper of the United States to the American section of the All-Union Western Chamber of Commerce, Sept. 14, 1928, on his impressions of the USSR during four visits lasting a total of eight months]
…When I was in America (after my visits to the USSR), I gave many lectures about Soviet Russia. I was astonished by the enormous interest in the USSR throughout America. I have to say that in America there is more incorrect information about Russia than about any other topic whatsoever.
… I am well aware that the Soviet Union will develop its own natural resources with the efforts of its own citizens and for their benefit, and I would hate to see today when these incredible natural riches were exploited for selfish purposes.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 570
PARTY PEOPLE MUST NOT BE FAVORED OVER NON-PARTY PEOPLE FOR JOBS
Certain comrades think that only Party members may hold leading positions in the mills and factories and for that reason ignore and hold back non-Party comrades who possess ability and initiative, and advance Party members instead, although they are less capable and possess less initiative. Needless to say, there is nothing more stupid and reactionary than such a policy, if it may be called a policy. That such a policy can only discredit the Party and repel non-party workers from it, needs no proof. It is not our policy to transform the Party into an exclusive caste. It is our policy to achieve, as between workers who are members of the Party and workers who are not, an atmosphere of “mutual confidence,” of “mutual control” (Lenin)”….
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 139
CONSTITUTION PRESERVES THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT
Such are the facts. And facts, it is said, are stubborn things.
I must admit that the draft of the new Constitution really does preserve the regime of the dictatorship of the working-class, just as it also preserves unchanged the present leading position of the Communist Party of the USSR. If our esteemed critics regard this as a flaw in the draft constitution, it is only to be regretted. We Bolsheviks regard it as a merit of the Draft Constitution.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 228
RELIGION IS THE OPPOSITE OF SCIENCE AND MUST BE FOUGHT
The Party cannot be neutral towards religion, and it does conduct anti-religious propaganda against all and every religious prejudice because it stands for science, while religious prejudices run counter to science, because all religion is something opposite to science.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 261
His attitude toward conventional religion is purely negative. His religion…is his work; communism is enough faith for him. Stalin has said, “The party cannot be neutral toward religion, because religion is something opposite to science.” Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that he permitted his wife an almost orthodox religious burial.
… People who know him well call him “Yosif Visarionovich”; others simply say Tovarish (Comrade) Stalin. He has no title.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 534
INDIVIDUAL & COLLECTIVE, SOCIALIST, INTERESTS WORK IN HARMONY NOT CONFLICT
There is no, nor should there be, irreconcilable contrast between the individual and the collective, between the interests of the individual person and the interests of the collective. There should be no such contrast, because collectivism, socialism, does not deny, but combines individual interests with the interests of the collective. Socialism cannot abstract itself from individual interests. Socialist society alone can most fully satisfy these personal interests. More than that; socialist society alone can firmly safeguard the interests of the individual. In this sense there is no irreconcilable contrast between “individualism” and socialism.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 320
AMERICAN PRESIDENTS LIKE ROOSEVELT SERVE AT THE WHIM OF THE CAPITALIST CLASS
… I have some experience in fighting for socialism, and this experience tells me that if Roosevelt makes a real attempt to satisfy the interests of the proletarian class at the expense of the capitalist class, the latter will put another president in his place. The capitalists will say: Presidents come and presidents go, but we go on forever; if this or that president does not protect our interests, we shall find another. What can the president oppose to the will of the capitalist class?
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 320
STALIN PREDICTS AN ECONOMIC CRISIS IN THE US AND THE END OF WORLD CAPITALISM
I think the moment is not far off when a revolutionary crisis will develop in America. And when a revolutionary crisis develops in America, that will be the beginning of the end of world capitalism as a whole.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 324
STALIN REFUSES TO LECTURE THE CAPITALISTS ON MORALITY WHEN THEY HAVE NONE
Far be it from me to moralize on the policy of non–intervention, to talk of treason, treachery and so on. It would be naive to preach morals to people who recognize no human morality. Politics is politics, as the old, case-hardened bourgeois diplomats say.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 335
Actually speaking, the policy of non-intervention means conniving at aggression, giving free rein to war and consequently transforming the war into a world war. The policy of non-intervention reveals an eagerness, a desire not to hinder the aggressors in their nefarious work… Far be it from me to moralize on the policy of non-intervention, to talk of treason treachery and so on. It would be naive to preach morals to people who recognise no human morality.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. London, 1978. Vol. 14, pages 355; 368.
CENTRALIZATION AND TOTALITARIANISM DID NOT RULE IN THE SU OF THE 30’S
According to most Western views, power was transmitted from the top to the bottom, from the center to the localities…. Theoretically, every committee was completely subordinate to the one above it, and individual members had no power or control at all.
The political reality was much different. In fact, the chain of command collapsed more often than it functioned. The Communist Party, far from having penetrated every quarter of Russian life, was more an undisciplined and disorganized force with little influence outside the cities. Soviet Russia in the ’30s resembled a backward, traditional society far more than it did the sophisticated order of totalitarianism.
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 27
The party in the ’30s was neither monolithic nor disciplined. Its upper ranks were divided, and its lower organizations were disorganized, chaotic, and undisciplined. Moscow leaders were divided on policy issues, and central leaders were at odds with territorial secretaries whose organizations suffered from internal disorder and conflict. A bloated party membership containing political illiterates and apolitical opportunists plus a lazy and unresponsive regional leadership was hardly the formula for a Leninist party. Such a clumsy and unwieldy organization could not have been an efficient or satisfying instrument for Moscow’s purposes.
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 37
Keeping the obvious source caveats in mind, the present analysis has suggested a number of conclusions about Soviet political history in the 1930s. First, it seems that the Bolshevik party was not the monolithic and homogeneous machine both totalitarian theorists and Stalinists would have us believe. Administration was so chaotic, irregular, and confused that even Fainsod’s characterization of the system as “inefficient totalitarianism” seems to overstate the case.
Although the Soviet government was certainly dictatorial (or tried to be), it was not totalitarian. The technical and technological sophistication that separates totalitarianism from dictatorship was lacking in the ’30s. The primitive texture of the Smolensk Archive, the real weakness of the central government in key areas, and a certain degree of political pluralism argue strongly against any totalitarian characterization.
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 198
Moscow had little information about what was really happening in the far-flung provinces, where regional satraps used distance and poor communications to insulate themselves from Moscow’s control and build their own power. There was not even a telephone line to the Soviet Far East until the eve of World War II.
The Future Did Not Work by J. Arch Getty, Book Review of The Passing of an Illusion by Franois Furet [March 2000 Atlantic Monthly]
POSITIVE CHANGES FAR EXCEEDED THE NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL CHANGE
It was known that party and state leaders were being arrested as “enemies of the people,” but at the same time new schools, factories, and palaces of culture were rising everywhere. Military leaders were being arrested as spies, but the party was building a strong, modern army. Scientists were being arrested as wreckers, but Soviet science developed rapidly with the party’s support. Writers were being arrested as “Trotskyites and counter-revolutionaries,” but some literary works appeared that were real masterpieces. Leaders in the union republics were being arrested as nationalists, but the formerly oppressed nationalities were improving their lot, and friendship among the peoples of the Soviet Union was growing. And this obvious progress filled Soviet hearts with pride, engendering confidence in the party that was organizing it and in the man who stood at the head of the party.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 629
Finally, the whole structure of Russian society has undergone a change so profound and so many sided that it cannot really be reversed. It is possible to imagine a violent reaction of the Russian people itself against the state of siege in which it has been living so long. It is even possible to imagine something like a political restoration. But it is certain that even such a restoration would touch merely the surface of Russian society and that it would demonstrate its impotence vis-a-vis the work done by the revolution even more thoroughly than the Stuart and the Bourbon restorations had done. For of Stalinist Russia it is even truer than of any other revolutionary nation that ’20 years have done the work of 20 generations’.
For all these reasons Stalin cannot be classed with Hitler, among the tyrants whose record is one of absolute worthlessness and futility. Hitler was the leader of a sterile counter-revolution, while Stalin has been both the leader and the exploiter of a tragic, self-contradictory but creative revolution.
The better part of Stalin’s work is as certain to outlast Stalin himself as the better parts of the work of Cromwell & Napoleon have outlasted them.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 569-570
Summing up Stalin’s rule in 1948 I said that’ Stalin cannot be classed with Hitler, among the tyrants whose record is one of absolute worthlessness and futility. Hitler was the leader of a sterile counter-revolution, while Stalin has been both the leader and the exploiter of a tragic, self-contradictory, but creative revolution.’ This remains true if the whole of Stalin’s career is assessed.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 627
THE SOVIET PEOPLE WERE UNITED AND OPTIMISTIC FOR SEVERAL REASONS
Closer examination reveals that this notorious “conformism” can be reduced to three main features: uniformity of opinion in regard to the fundamental principles of communism, common love of the Soviet Union, and the confidence shared by all that in the near future the Soviet Union will be the happiest and most powerful country on earth.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 39
RISING STANDARD OF LIVING GENERATES GREATER PATRIOTISM
One difference there certainly is between the patriotism of the Soviet people and that of other countries. The patriotism of the Soviet Union has a more rational foundation. There the individual’s standard of living is visibly improving daily. Not only is he receiving more rubles, but the purchasing power of these rubles is also increasing. In 1936 the Soviet worker’s average wage had increased by 278 percent compared with 1929, and the Soviet citizen enjoys the certainty that this tendency must continue for many years to come (not only because the gold reserves of Germany have fallen to $25 million and those of the Soviet Union risen to $7 million). It is easier to be patriotic when the patriot gets more guns and more butter too than it is when he gets more guns and no butter.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 43
INTELLECTUALS, ARTISTS AND WRITERS ARE PAMPERED AND GIVEN FUNDS
Savants, writers, artists, and actors enjoy definite advantages in the Soviet Union. They are appreciated, encouraged, and even pampered by the state both with prestige and large incomes. All the means they require are placed at their disposal, and not one of them need suffer any anxiety as to whether what he is doing will pay. They have, moreover, the most responsive and eager public in the world.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 45
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SOVIET DICTATORSHIP AND FASCIST DICTATORSHIP
But carping, whining, and alarming are pursuits which many hold almost as dear as life itself. Every language contains a host of words for them, and I can well imagine that to many the restriction of the right to abuse must seem sheer despotism. For this reason many people say that the Soviet Union is the very opposite of a democracy, and some, indeed, go so far as to maintain there is no difference between the Union and the Fascist dictatorships. Their blindness is to be pitied. At bottom, the Soviet dictatorship is confined to prohibiting the propagation of two opinions in word, deed, or writing: first, that the establishment of socialism in the Union is impossible without a world revolution, and, secondly, that the Soviet Union is bound to lose the coming war. It seems to me that anyone who deduces from these two prohibitions complete identification with the Fascist dictatorships is overlooking one essential difference: the Soviet Union forbids agitation in support of the principle that twice two is five, whilst the Fascist dictatorships forbid active pursuit of the principle that twice two is four.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 66
WRITERS MUST DECIDE WHICH CLASS THEY’LL SERVE AND WHOSE FREEDOM THEY’LL FOSTER
Expressed plainly and simply, this is the problem which today presents itself to every writer of any responsibility. Since socialist economy can hardly be established without a temporary modification of what is today called democracy, which do you prefer: that the great mass of the people should have less meat, bread, and butter and, instead, that you have greater freedom of writing, or that you should have less freedom of writing and the great mass of the people more bread, meat, and butter?
That, for a writer of responsibility, is no easy problem.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow , 1937. New York : The Viking Press, 1937, p. 146
SOVIET’S PROGRAM CAME FROM THE MASSES THEMSELVES
The Communists say: “We did not create the Soviets. They sprang out of the life of the people. We did not hatch up some program in our brains and then take it out and superimpose it upon the people. Rather we took our program directly from the people themselves. They were demanding ‘Land to the Peasants,’ ‘Factories to the Workers,’ and ‘Peace to All the World.’ We wrote the slogans upon our banners and with them marched into power. Our strength lies in our understanding of the people. In fact, we do not need to understand the people. We are the people.” This was certainly true of the rank-and-file of the leaders, who, like the five young Communists we first met in Petrograd, were flesh and bone of the people.
Williams, Albert R. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 31
SOVIET STUDENTS TREATED WELL UNDER SOCIALISM
The Government does a great deal to assist the student. First, there is a State subsidy of 25 rubles a month to the students. In addition they get free rooms and tuition. They also travel home at vacation times free of charge. And their books are put out by Government publishing houses at a great reduction.
Dykstra, Gerald. A Belated Rebuttal on Russia. Allegan, Mich.: The Allegan Press, 1928, p. 102
EDELMAN LIKES BEING IN THE SU
As I looked at the town, the thought of the years that I had spent in the Soviet Union, which now I was about to leave, rose in me with a presentiment of nostalgia. Here I had spent four years, from 1933 to 1937, undismayed by shortage, happy in abundance, content among plans, hopes, enthusiasms, victories, failures, with the knowledge that I was helping to build a new society.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 13
PERSON SAYS LIFE IN THE SU MUCH BETTER THAN IN GERMANY
We stayed at the Metropole til about 1 a.m.. I told Smirnov and Liepmann in detail of my plans for my return to Germany.
“You won’t like it,” said Liepmann. “I’ve worked seven years in the USSR. Last year I went back to work in Cologne. Do you know the difference between working with comrades and working with a boss breathing down your neck? If you’ve forgotten, they’ll soon remind you. There are discomforts and pinpricks in the USSR. But give me a pinprick before a bayonet thrust!”
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 33
DEFECTIONS WERE NOT FOR IDEOLOGICAL OR POLITICAL REASONS BUT FOR MONEY
A number of Soviet officials serving on missions abroad, refused to return. Many of them took posts with foreign firms. Going back to Russia meant giving up a life of comfort, and would necessarily involve rendering an account of their behavior while out of the country. Corruption played a greater part in leading these men to act as they did than any spirit of political opposition.
Barmine, Alexandre. Memoirs of a Soviet Diplomat. London: L. Dickson limited,1938, p. 242
LITERACY INCREASED DRAMATICALLY IN THE 1920’S AND AFTERWARD
By the middle of the 1920s, literacy had increased markedly. Improvement in the national republics was especially striking. Compared to 1922, in 1925 the number of literate workers in Georgia grew 15 times, in Kazakhstan five times, in Kirghizia four times, and the pattern was similar in other regions. The main sources of literacy and culture were the workers’ clubs in the cities and the reading huts in the villages. The printing of periodicals was three times what it had been in 1913. The building of libraries began on a massive scale. Film studios were built in Odessa, Yerevan, Tashkent, and Baku. More creative literature was being published.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 127
In 1940 and thereafter Stalin claimed the literacy rate in the USSR was over 99 percent, the most literate country in the world. This was incredible, but there is no reason to doubt that Stalin pushed the Soviet literacy rate to some point around 95 percent, which compared favorably with the most advanced countries. Considering the immensity of the USSR, its 175 languages in which instruction was given, the primitiveness of much of the population, and the desperate shortage of buildings, educational materials, and teachers, Stalin’s alphabetization of his many peoples was a great and staggering achievement, and one that cannot be argued away by pointing to the shortcomings of the rest of his school system. Making the USSR a literate nation was Stalin’s greatest contribution to the liberation of man.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 111
By 1939 about 87% of Soviet citizens between the ages of 9 and 49 were literate and numerate. Schools, newspapers, libraries, and radio stations proliferated. Factory apprenticeships had hugely expanded in number. The universities teamed with students. An agrarian society had been pointed in the direction of “modernization.’ The cultural revolution was not restricted to the dissemination of technical skills; it was also aimed at spreading science, urbanism, industry, and Soviet-style modernity.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 308
SU IS FIRST COUNTRY TO LEGALIZE ABORTION AND DIVORCE
Soviet divorce legislation was the first in the world to allow either spouse to terminate the marriage and to do so on the sole grounds of incompatibility….
…although it did not formally legalize abortion, in the first three years the Soviet government treated it with forbearance. Because many abortions were performed by unqualified individuals under un-hygienic conditions causing infections and death, a decree of November 18, 1920, legalized them under strict medical supervision. Discouraged as a “moral survival of the past,” they were to be available free of charge at the mother’s request provided they were performed in hospitals by physicians. This, too, was the first law of its kind.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 330
STALIN’S PROGRAM WAS BETTER AND MORE ACCEPTED THAN ROBESPIERRE’S
The deeper reason for Stalin’s triumph lay, as we have said, in that, unlike Robespierre, he offered his nation a positive and new programme of social organization which, though it spelt privations and suffering to many, also created undreamt-of openings for many others.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 383
GREAT EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENTS UNDER STALIN IN THE 1930’S
In the five years from 1933 to 1938 about half a million administrators, technicians, economists, and men of other professions had graduated from university schools, an enormous number for a country whose educated classes had previously formed a very thin layer of society.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 384
During the 1930-ies the cultural development of the Soviet Union advanced in leaps too. The number of students in all schools 1929 was approx. 14 millions. In the year 1938 they had increased to approximately 34 millions, and at that time students in all kinds of courses including part time, amounted to more than 47 millions. Almost a third of all citizens took part of the school system. In the beginning of the 1930-ies 33 per cent were still illiterate in the Soviet Union (67 per cent in 1913). 1938 illiteracy was totally eradicated since several years back. During this period the students at higher forms of education almost tripled from 207,000 to 601,000. The number of libraries was 70,000 in the year 1938 compared with 40,000 in 1933. The amount of books in the libraries 1938 reached the colossal figure of 126 millions to compare with 86 millions 1933.
Sousa, Mario. The Class Struggle During the Thirties in the Soviet Union, 2001.
SCOTT EXPLAINS WHY PEOPLE CAME TO MAGNITOGORSK TO WORK
Scott explained how, from 1928 to 1932, about 250,000 people came to the barren place where the Magnitogorsk giant was to be erected. Approximately 3/4 of them came there voluntarily, in search of work, bread cards, and better living conditions. The remaining part consisted of deported peasants and criminals who were placed in corrective labor colonies.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 265
STALIN EXPLAINS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM
There are two parts to the concept of socialism in one country. Emphasis is usually placed only on the part that says “one country.” Equally important is the idea that only socialism, and not communism, can be achieved prior to the time when the victory of the world revolution has been won. A Communist society would have no classes, no money, no scarcity, and no state, that is, no army, police force, prisons, and courts. There is no such society in the world, and no society claims to be Communist. A socialist society, according to Marxism-Leninism, is the transitional form on the road to communism. Classes and class struggle still exist, all the material needs of the people have not yet been met, and there is indeed a state, a government of the working-class known as the dictatorship of the proletariat (as opposed to the government of capitalist nations, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie).
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 15
Russia is not practicing communism today and never has been. The Bolsheviks do not even make the claim. The Five-Year Plan is the blueprint of a socialist, not a communist, edifice.
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 1
PRESS COULD CRITICIZE AT WILL AS LONG AS IT DID NOT ATTACK THE SYSTEM ITSELF
The Soviet press, which allowed no criticism of the State gospel, even when it changed, in every way encouraged criticism as to how it was being carried out, and it contained hair-raising accounts of the living conditions of workers, even comparing their accommodations to catacombs….
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 130
THE SYSTEM REALLY CARES FOR THE PEOPLE
On the other hand, there could be no question at all of the care of the State for all, in the form of all sorts of social services and benefits; above all, education and medical assistance, which were absolutely cost-free for everyone in the country and every visitor to it. There was a complete system of State insurance. There was the utmost care and thought for women and children. Women, politically and economically, had complete equality with men.
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 130
BALTIC WHITE SEA CANAL WAS A GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT
Soon after this Stalin was able to announce the completion of the Baltic White Sea Canal. This waterway, 142 miles long, and with 19 locks, 15 dams, 12 reservoirs and 40 dykes, 25 miles of which had to be cut through rock, was ready at last and Stalin and the Soviet people had the right to be proud of this achievement.
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 87
STALIN COMPARED THE PARTY LEADERSHIP TO LEVELS IN THE MILITARY
Stalin’s wishes were carried out by a huge Party apparatus of local secretaries, whom he liked to think of in military terms. In a long speech he gave at the February-March 1937 Plenum on ways to liquidate the Party’s enemies, he declared: ‘In our party, if we look at the leading strata, there are some three to 4000 top leaders. That’s what I would call the high command of the Party. Then there are about 30 to 40,000 middle leaders. That’s our officer corps. Then there are about 100-150,000 lower ranks. They are, so to speak, the Party’s NCOs.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 104
[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated], How does the leadership in the CPSU look at this moment? The top leadership of the CPSU in the country is composed of 3-4,000 comrades. This, I would say, is the General Headquarters. There are between 30-40,000 middle rank party workers in all the Soviet Republics…our officers.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 245
Aside from the image of the cell, almost every metaphor in Communist ideology comes from military life. The world is at “war”– open or covert class warfare as the case may be–interrupted by “truces.” The war is fought by two “armies” dwelling in “camps.” Before the revolution, and sometimes after it, the Communist party is the “army” and its leaders are the “officer corps” [or General Staff]. At other times after the revolution, the whole population of a Communist country is the “army” and the party as a whole is its “officer corps.” The party fights on various “fronts”–industrial, agricultural, educational–as well as military.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 85
STALIN CLOSELY WATCHED GOVT MONEY AND HOW MUCH FOREIGN PARTIES RECEIVED
Stalin showed an abiding concern for state funds, state gold, and state valuables. As soon as he was informed of an infringement at a gold refinery, Stalin made a note to ask the NKVD chief Yezhov or his deputy about the case, adding that ‘a commissar must be appointed at the refinery without whose signature the assay mark should not be given, nor the gold released. His notes frequently refer to the need for greater gold reserves to cover the costs of the Communist movement, and after 1940 he personally fixed the sums any particular party should be given. When the ‘People’s Democracies’ came into being in the postwar period, they were expected to do their part. In a letter to Mao Tse-tung in February 1953, less than a month before his death, Stalin wrote: ‘The work of the West European Communist parties, such as the French, Italian, and English, has become difficult. They are demanding more help than before. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union has decided to increase its contribution to the fund and thinks it necessary to raise it from 800,000 to $1.3 million a year. If the Communist party of China would contribute $1.1 million in 1953, we could satisfy the demands of the above-mentioned parties. We await your reply.’ Mao agreed at once: ‘We’ll transfer the cash to Panyushkin [Soviet Ambassador to China].’
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 144
Moscow was to be especially generous in the post-war., paying out huge amounts, of which the following list is only a small part (all figures are in U.S. dollars): in 1945, to Bulgaria (Kostov)–$100,000; in 1946, to China (Chou En-lai)–$50,000; to Romania (Gheorgiu Dej)– $500,000; in 1947, to Greece (Zachariades)–$100,000) in 1948, to France (Thorez)–$258,350; to Italy (Secchia)–$40,000; to Holland (Groot)–50,000.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 400
[In a letter to Kaganovich on 30 August 1931 Stalin stated] This is why I don’t think we should go easy at all on people (or institutions) who try to squander the working class’s hard-currency resources just for the peace of mind of their organizations’ functionaries.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 68
A SPECIAL TYPE OF BUREAUCRACY THAT IS NOT A NEW CLASS IS NECESSARY
Any planned economy inevitably involves the rise of a bureaucracy; it is not at all a necessary sign of reaction. If we rid ourselves of the habit of regarding the word “bureaucracy” as a term of abuse, we must come to the conclusion that a bureaucracy is as indispensable to a modern society as an industrial working-class. Modern development makes necessary a new stratum of leading officials, technicians, managers, etc.. The idea of a simple classless society in which everyone will have interchangeable functions and anyone can occupy positions of authority or be an “expert” has proved to be utterly illusionary.
The original idea of Marx and Lenin that, in a socialist society, the division of labor would disappear, that is to say the division into directive and managerial work, on the one hand, and work executed to instructions, on the other, can no longer be regarded as feasible. Lenin’s famous slogan–“every cook will be able to govern the State”–is not likely to be realized, at least not for some generations to come.
In fact, the need for a specialized army of technical, industrial, and managerial experts and their social importance grow in direct proportion to the general advance of technical progress and higher forms of economic organization. That is true not only for a planned society but also for modern capitalism. The difference is only that under capitalist conditions most of these experts, supervisors, managers, economists, statisticians, industrial chemists, etc., are the private employees of private enterprises who use their knowledge and skill for the benefit of competing vested interests. They do not appear therefore as a bureaucracy although their social function is a very similar one.
Socialist Clarity Group. The U. S. S. R., Its Significance for the West. London: V. Gollancz, 1942, p. 45
The material privileges which the new bureaucracy enjoys as a whole, are not very considerable. The same system of differentiation has been established among the bureaucracy as among the industrial working-class, and for the same reason, i.e., as an incentive for more and better work. The lower strata of the bureaucracy earn in many cases less than industrial workers. Only about 20% of the whole bureaucracy earn considerably more than the average worker. They also enjoy a number of other material privileges.
Apart from a very small number of artists and writers who have incomes quite out of proportion to the rest of the population, the highest salaries are paid to factory managers, the so-called Red Directors. In Magnitogorsk, for instance, the salary of the Red Director Is seven times as high as the average wage and he gets 30 times as much house space as the workers.
In other words, the top layer of the bureaucracy is certainly materially privileged compared to the ordinary worker. The value of these privileges must not, however, be exaggerated for they are in no way comparable to the differentiation of income in capitalist countries….
The third argument of those who regard the Soviet bureaucracy as the new ruling class of Russia is their growing influence on all political and general decisions. There is no doubt that this also is a fact, although one that is more difficult to establish. We shall have to say more about this point in the following chapter. But this much must be said here: the growing influence on general policy of so indispensable a section of society is only to be expected. Neither this increased general influence, nor the absence of democratic control, nor the privileges which they enjoy, make the Soviet bureaucracy a class of its own. And this is chiefly for three reasons.
(a) The material privileges of the Soviet bureaucracy are exclusively confined to the sphere of consumption. They cannot use their income as private capital, that is to say as a source of profits and means of exploitation.
(b) Their children and relatives cannot inherit from them their position of power and influence.
(c) Socially they recruit themselves from the industrial workers and collective farmers, and this process of recruitment continues. There are no barriers of either money, social position or monopoly of education which could prevent ordinary workers and collective farmers or their sons and daughters from rising to the ranks of the bureaucracy.
If ever the Soviet bureaucracy became a closed, self-perpetuating social group, it would then acquire the characteristics of a class. But so long as each new generation of the bureaucracy is recruited afresh from the best available talent throughout the masses of the population, it constitutes merely a functional group–essential in any modern society.
To speak of the Soviet bureaucracy as the new ruling class of Russia is therefore a misuse of terms. On the other hand, it remains perfectly true that this bureaucracy has exercised an increasingly great influence on the development and policy of the Soviet Union.
Socialist Clarity Group. The U. S. S. R., Its Significance for the West. London: V. Gollancz, 1942, p. 48-49
SPECIALISTS HAD TO BE FAVORED AT TIMES
The second argument brought forward by the “anti-democratic” critics of Soviet Russia is the privileged position of the Soviet bureaucracy. Privileges there certainly are. But one must understand the origins of these privileges. During the first years after the revolution the Soviets were in dire need of experts of all kind. They had, to a considerable extent, to be content with experts from abroad or such Russians as had received their training under the Tsarist regime and had worked for it. In order to attract these people who were either non-political or only half-hearted supporters of the Revolution, the Bolshevik Government had to grant them certain privileges, high salaries which correspond to the salaries in capitalist countries and a number of other advantages.
Socialist Clarity Group. The U. S. S. R., Its Significance for the West. London: V. Gollancz, 1942, p. 47
The other difference between fiction and reality is less well known. The monopoly of the Communist bureaucracy is neither so absolute nor so unlimited as appearances would seem to indicate. Whilst on the surface of public life–in the press, at meetings, in political bodies, in the Government, and so forth–there does exist a monopoly of the Communist bureaucracy, below the surface, in the daily functioning of social life–and so on–the Communist bureaucracy is everywhere compelled to share its power, as we have seen in the course of this book, with the non-Party specialists and intelligentsia.
Science, literature, and the arts are those domains in which a division of power is spontaneously brought into existence. Thus the factory worker has two sets of masters over him: the Communist director, the secretary of the Party organization, the chairman of the trade union, etc.; and the specialist, the technician, the foreman. It is the same for the peasant on the kolkhoz; it is the same in any Soviet administrative body, in offices, in trusts, and even in the armed forces.
The strictly hierarchical organization of production and of all administrative, scientific, and social work in Soviet Russia gives these specialists enormous power over the workers, the producers. The Communist bureaucracy and the specialists thus share the power in the factories, the trusts, the Machine Tractor Stations, the kolkhoz, the schools, the law courts, and in every administrative and scientific institution. If in the political field there exists a monopoly of the Communist bureaucracy in the economic, and even more in the social domain, there is a dual power of Communist and non-Party specialists.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 531-532
THE WIVES OF MOST SOVIET LEADERS HAD JOBS AND WORKED
Ivy Litvinov is rather untypical of Soviet women, because she has no job herself. Stalin’s wife worked. So do several other important men’s wives, and many women, quite in their own right, have established successful careers. In no country in Europe is it so easy for a woman of intelligence and character to make good outside the home.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 545
…The wife of Kalinin, president of the USSR, is manager of a state farm near Novosibirsk. Molotov’s wife was till recently head of the Soviet trust which manufactures powder, rouge, and lipstick.
Krupskaya, Lenin’s widow, lived and worked in the Kremlin until her death in 1938; she was assistant commissar of education…. Kollontai is Soviet minister to Sweden.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 546
GPU ARE THE HAND-PICKED BEST MEN FOR THE JOB
The GPU numbers about 200,000 picked men, and is in a sense a superior cadre of the Red Army; it guards frontiers, patrols railways, and the like. Especially it watches affairs within the party. The law-abiding citizen who is not a party member has less to fear from it than party men.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 549
SU CONSTITUTION COMMITTEE LED BY SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN THE PARTY
The Constitution, a potentially important document, was drawn up by a committee on constitutional reform which was set up in July, 1935, and of which Stalin himself was chairman. The 10 vice-chairmen comprised a formidable list of Soviet chieftains: Litvinov, Radek, Vyshinsky, Voroshilov, Molotov, Bukharin, Akulov, Chubar, Zhdanov, and Kaganovich. For a year the committee worked.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 570
Stalin appointed himself chairman of the constitutional commission and as an apparent gesture of reconciliation included Bukharin & Radek among its 30 members. In June 1936, the draft was published and the whole population invited to engage in a nationwide discussion of its contents. It was reported to have been “greeted with enormous enthusiasm and approved with one accord.” Bukharin played a central role in drafting the charter, particularly the provision for universal suffrage, direct election by secret ballot, and the guarantees of civil rights for the citizen, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of street demonstrations, and the right to personal property protected by law.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 471
When the Seventh Congress of Soviets met at the beginning of February 1935 a decision was taken to set up a Constitutional Commission. Bukharin was elected as a member of the Central Executive Committee at this Congress and was included on the Constitutional Commission as head of the sub-commission dealing with the most important aspect of the new constitution–the rights and obligations of Soviet citizens.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 285
INTERVIEWER: Bukharin is rumored to have been largely responsible for the Constitution of 1936. Did he have anything to say about it?
NICOLAEVSKY: It was already clear from various signs that Bukharin had played a major role in drawing up the Constitution. He was secretary of the commission that worked out the draft Constitution.
Nicolaevsky, Boris. Power and the Soviet Elite; “The letter of an Old Bolshevik.” New York: Praeger, 1965, p. 22
NO MATTER WHO WINS IN A WAR BETWEEN THE CAPITALISTS THE SU WILL GAIN
In any case, no matter what happens, it would seem that the Russians are in a position to gain. If the allies lose the 1939 war, then the British empire is weakened, western capitalism is weakened. It Germany loses the war, then presumably there will be a revolution in Germany, which would also serve Russia’s ends. It would weaken or destroy Germany as a nationalist neighbor, and it might bring communism.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 575
IN LIGHT OF CONSPIRACIES THE SOVIET GOVT COULD HAVE ENDED THE NEW CONSTITUTION
For myself, I prefer to see in the present position a much more encouraging feature, namely, that the Soviet Government, undeterred by its knowledge of the conspiracies just unearthed, is going forward unperturbed in the introduction of its new Constitution because it really believes both in the principles of that Constitution, in its own fundamental stability, and in the support of the great mass of the people. I am moved indeed to wonder whether, among all the Governments in this tortured world, there are more than one or two who would not, in these circumstances, have put back the clock of progress a decade or two by announcing that the advances proposed in the draft Constitution towards freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, inviolability of the person and of the home, secrecy of correspondence, secret ballot, direct election and other advantages, are shown by recent events to have been premature and must be postponed, and that the strong arm of the executive must again be reinforced rather than weakened, in order to deal effectively with the dangers exemplified by this conspiracy. Historians may yet have occasion to praise the Soviet Union for having held steadfastly on the path to personal freedom at this time.
Pritt, Denis Nowell. At the Moscow Trial, New York City: International Publishers, 1937, p. 30
CPSU LEADER PREDICTS COMMUNISM WILL WIN EVENTUALLY
On a day when Ryzhkov was testifying on his five years as prime minister under Gorbachev, I spent the two-our afternoon recess with Ivan Polozkov, a Party chieftain from the southern Russian city of Krasnodar who in 1990 had become the leader of the Russian Communist Party and Ligachev’s successor as the conservative “dark prince.” At Central Committee meetings in 1990 and 1991, Polozkov had been openly critical of Gorbachev, but even then there was something guarded about his speech. A glimmer of traditional Party discipline, to say nothing of simple desire for self-preservation, prevented him from saying the things he was saying now.
“I am free now,” he said, “free now to vent my spleen.” Like the other Party men who came to court every day, Polozkov operated on the fuel of resentment. He was, in his mind, a great man made small by the deceptions of Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and the Central Intelligence Agency.
I asked him why he thought the Communist Party and the Soviet system had collapsed with such stunning speed after seeming to all the world to be unconquerable, a monolith of power and strength.
Polozkov’s eyes widened, more in surprise than in anger. “They had so much and we… we had nothing!” he said.
“What do you mean?” I said. “That the Communist party had nothing and the opposition had everything?”
“Precisely,” Polozkov said, with a satisfied little nod. “We know the CIA financed parties here. You gave them Japanese cameras, German copying machines, money, everything! You had your dissidents who worked for you, the liars, the diplomats, the military double agents. Gorbachev, Yakovlev, Shevardnadze, these men were all yours, too. They were yours! Look at the book contracts they’ve gotten! Millions! One of our secretaries in the Russian Communist Party, Ivan Antonovich was in the United States and he was invited to speak at a conference. Shevardnadze was on the bill, too. Shevardnadze spoke first, and then he left. Then Antonovich spoke. Afterward they gave him a souvenir: a copper coffee cup. Someone came up to him from our embassy and said how unfair it was, that Antonovich had only gotten a mug and he spoke in English while Shevardnadze spoke in his bad Russian and got $5000!
“Look, I understand what it was all about. It was a confrontation of two systems. Reagan called us an ‘evil empire’ and other Western leaders were judged according to how anti-Soviet they could be. The putsch was just a culmination of the struggle. And I will admit this: so far you have been winning this war. But I want to emphasize–‘so far.’ Remember this: Napoleon was in Moscow , but France did not defeat us. The Nazis were near Moscow , but look what happened. But I must tell you–and listen carefully–the war is still on and, in the end, you will not be able to endure in this competition with communism.”
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York : Random House, c1993, p. 511-512
SOCIAL DEMOCRAT DAN FINALLY AGREES THAT THE BOLSHEVIKS DID IT RIGHT
Some of the Social Democrats, it is true, changed direction under the impact of international events. For instance, in 1936, in Paris, Dan recognized the Soviet Union as the main bulwark against fascism. He published Novyi mir (New World), and then after escaping in March 1940 to New York, aged 70, he retired as chairman of the Foreign Delegation and as editor of Sotsialisticheskii vestnik and launched Novyi Put ( New Way). His break with Menshevism was complete by 1943. In Novyi put he as it were rehabilitated Stalin. In his last book, The Origins of Bolshevism, published in 1946, the old adversary of totalitarianism suddenly saw something positive in the forced collectivization of agriculture, and found himself unable fully to condemn the show trials of 1930s, or the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939. He even stated that “the internal organic democratization of the Soviet system was not curtailed at its emergence.”
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 89
MENDELEEV SUPPORTS THE DIALECTICAL IDEA OF QUANTITATIVE CHANGES CAUSING LEAPS
As a scientist he [Mendeleev] was one of the greatest materialists of all times;… When he formulated his Periodic Law, he testified to the truth of that principle of dialectics which occupies a central place in Marxist thought and asserts that quantitative changes, whether in natural or social processes, at certain points turn into changes of quality. According to the Periodic Law quantitative alterations in atomic weights result in qualitative differences between chemical elements.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 173
CAPITALIST GOVT OFFICIALS ARE RUTHLESS AND EGOTISTIC
Even when the Presidency is politically besieged, there’s nothing comparable to working at the White House. The pace is frenetic and the hours impossible. Intrigue. Backstabbing. Ruthless ambition. Constant conflict. Informers. Leakers. Spies (at the White House from inside the U.S. government,. Egos as big as the surrounding monuments. Battles between Titans. Cabinet officers behaving like children. High level temper tantrums. I would ultimately work in the White House or four Presidents and I saw it all. The struggles for pride and place,…
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 54
SU HAD A GOOD TEACHING SYSTEM WITH GOOD METHODS AND TEACHERS
Rigid discipline in the Communist school was definitely not supposed to mean harsh, loud-voiced management of the classroom or physical punishments, although the latter were kept in reserve. The teacher was told to win the confidence of his charges (most Soviet teachers were men) by friendly, helpful behavior, and to persuade them to follow the right path by exhortations, by shaming them, and by enlisting the other pupils to help reclaim a recalcitrant. Teachers were to instill obedience, unselfishness, and collective-mindedness. Individual competitiveness was to be suppressed and group spirit cultivated.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 112
By [the time of] Stalin’s death there were one million full-time students in the universities alone, the largest number in the world after America.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 114
STALIN FELT THE PROLETARIAT SUPPORTED HIS GOVERNMENT
Stalin was certainly sincere in thinking that the workers supported his government, and that they were the ultimate beneficiaries of his policies.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 184
MIKHOELS COMPLIMENTED THE SU AND FLOURISHED IN THE SU
At one Presidium [of the JAC] meeting in the fall of 1947, just three months before his death, Mikhoels proclaimed that “Jews feel more physically secure in the Soviet Union than in any other country in the world.”
…Mikhoels flourished within official Soviet culture even as he insisted on preserving the Jewish character of his theater. “If we turn ourselves into a theater of translation,” Mikhoels warned his colleagues in December 1933, “then to us, as a Jewish theater, there is nothing more to be done. Our path is unique–it is only compatible with the creative growth of Jewish theater and Jewish drama.” Mikhoels persevered and was richly rewarded. He was first honored by the regime in 1926, when he was named an Honorary Artist of the Russian Federation. In March 1935, he was given the title People’s Artist of the Russian Federation for his performance of King Lear. Four years later, in honor of the state Jewish Theater’s 20th anniversary, Mikhoels was awarded the Order of Lenin and named People’s Artist of the Soviet Union–becoming one of hardly a dozen intellectuals with that honor in the country. That year, in 1939, he was “elected” to serve on the Moscow City Council. As late as 1946, when he and the JAC were already under substantial pressure, Mikhoels was awarded the Stalin Prize in honor of the play Freylekhs (rejoicing).
Naumov & Teptsov. Stalin’s Secret Pogrom. New Haven, London: Yale Univ. Press, 2001, p. 36
1936 CONSTITUTION MADE VOTING: MORE DIRECT, OPEN TO MORE PEOPLE AND SECRET
Before the introduction of the new Constitution there were restrictions of the franchise in the case of priests, former Whiteguards, former kulaks, and persons not engaged in useful labor. The new Constitution abolished all franchise restrictions for these categories of citizens by making the election of deputies universal….
Formerly, the election of deputies had been unequal, inasmuch as the bases of representation for the urban and rural populations differed. Now, however, all necessity for restrictions of equality of the suffrage had disappeared and all citizens were given the right to take part in the elections on an equal footing….
Formerly, the elections of the intermediate and higher organs of Soviet power were indirect. Now, however, under the new Constitution, all Soviets, from rural and urban up to and including the Supreme Soviet, were to be elected by the citizens directly….
Formerly, deputies to the Soviets were elected by open ballot and the voting was for lists of candidates. Now, however, the voting for deputies was to be by secret ballot, and not by lists, but for individual candidates nominated in each electoral area.
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 348
SOCIAL CONDITIONS IMPROVED GREATLY UNDER SOCIALISM ESP. FOR CHILDREN
His [the American psychiatrist] second surprise will be to find that the problems he and others have been struggling with at home and upon which in 20 years they have made scarcely an impression, do not exist in Russia as major social problems, or, if they do still exist as problems, that they are rapidly losing their importance. This will be almost too much of a blow. Every city and every nation since the beginning of history has struggled with the problem of prostitution, for example, but none has ever come near solving it….prostitution continues in America while in Russia is practically a liquidated problem. Alcoholism is a serious problem in America and one that the psychiatrist understands but finds it possible to do little about. Alcoholism, always a serious problem in Russia, was a very serious problem some 10 years ago. It is still a problem but a rapidly diminishing one….
Juvenile delinquency is one of the greatest social problems in America. It is still a problem in Russia but one could hardly call it a major problem. One certainly does not find in Russia either the professional or the lay excitement over the extent, ramifications, and increase of crime that exists in America,…
The maladjusted school child in America is a problem of such increasing importance that the best skill of the best educators is taxed.
Again much is accomplished in individual instances but the problem as a whole remains untouched–there are not even the slightest signs of a change in the situation; in fact all the signs point the other way. In Russia they are not clear at first by what is meant, when one speaks of maladjusted school children and the “problem of adolescence.” Eventually, as one illustrates with case material, the children one has in mind are recognized. Of course they have such children but no “problem”–these children do not exist in sufficient numbers to constitute a problem. The Russian problem in education is not the children but how to provide adequately trained teachers for the children. The behavior of the children is the least of their troubles….
It [Soviet society] is a crazy world the American psychiatrist has got into, if there ever was one. Everything done 100% differently from the way he would do it and yet succeeding precisely where he has failed. Everything standing on its head, and yet quite successfully and comfortably….
And for the first time the American psychiatrist awakens to the fact that what has been called an economic revolution is in reality a psychological and spiritual revolution as well.
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 11-14
From the beginning the child is given a realistic view of life. The object is to prepare him so that he will be able to find pleasure and satisfaction in life itself, not in escaping from it or dodging it in romance, fancy, illusion, or neuroticism. The attempt is made to fit the child for life so that he can enjoy living, not to make him unfit so that he must flee it. During this early period the child is not surrounded by neurotic, frustrated adults–fathers, mothers, school teachers–but by essentially healthy, busy people whose outlook is outward rather than inward, who have purpose in their own lives, who are finding satisfaction in living, and who have a genuine affection and interest in him, but who see him not only as an object for personal, emotional aggrandizement but as an element in their own larger social purpose.
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 21
REBUILDING THE SOVIET FINANCIAL STRUCTURE HAS BEEN HARD BUT SUCCESSFUL
The rebuilding of Soviet Russia’s financial structure has been one of the most difficult tasks in the mammoth reconstruction project, but it has been accomplished with remarkable speed and skill. Whatever the troubles which now lie upon the financial horizon, such as the currency problem and the difficulties of collecting agricultural taxes, it must be admitted that the organization as a whole has reached and maintained a high standard of efficiency.
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 147
STALIN SAYS SELF-CRITICISM BY THE PARTY IS REQUIRED
[In a speech to the Moscow CPSU on April 13, 1928 Stalin stated] I think, comrades, that self-criticism is as necessary to us as air or water. I think that without it, without self-criticism, our Party could not make any headway, could not disclose our ulcers, could not eliminate our shortcomings. And shortcomings we have in plenty. That must be admitted frankly and honestly….
The slogan of self-criticism cannot be regarded as a new one. It lies at the very foundation of the Bolshevik Party.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 32
[In June 1928 Stalin showed he was against vulgarising the slogan of self-criticism by stating] Marx himself spoke of self-criticism as a method of strengthening the proletarian revolution.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 133
Actually, self-criticism is an indispensable and permanent weapon in the arsenal of Bolshevism, one that is intimately linked with the very nature of Bolshevism, with its revolutionary spirit.
It is sometimes said that self-criticism is something that is good for a party which has not yet come to power and has “nothing to lose,” but that it is dangerous and harmful to a party which has already come to power, which is surrounded by hostile forces, and against which an exposure of its weaknesses may be exploited by its enemies.
That is not true. It is quite untrue! On the contrary, just because Bolshevism has come to power, just because Bolsheviks may become conceited owing to the successes of our work of construction, just because Bolsheviks may fail to observe their weaknesses and thus make things easier for their enemies–for these very reasons self-criticism is particularly needed now, after the assumption of power.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 134
[In a January 17, 1930, letter to Gorky Stalin stated] We cannot do without self-criticism. We simply cannot. Without it, stagnation, corruption of the apparatus, growth of bureaucracy, sapping of the creative initiative of the working class, are inevitable. Of course, self-criticism provides material for our enemies. You are quite right about that. But it also provides material (and a stimulus) for our advancement, for unleashing the constructive energies of the working people, for the development of emulation, for shock brigades, and so on. The negative aspect is counter-balanced and outweighed by the positive aspect.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 12, p. 179
Some comrades say that it is not advisable to speak openly of one’s mistakes, since the open admission of one’s mistakes may be construed by our enemies as weakness and may be utilized by them.
This is rubbish, comrades, downright rubbish. The open recognition of our mistakes and their honest rectification can, on the contrary, only strengthen our Party, raise its authority in the eyes of the workers, peasants, and working intellectuals, increase the strength and power of our state. And this is the main thing. As long as we have the workers, peasants and working intellectuals with us, all the rest will settle itself.
Stalin, Joseph. Mastering Bolshevism. San Francisco: Proletarian Publishers, 1972, p. 40
USSR PROGRESS ON MORTALITY UNDER SOCIALISM
Year USSR deaths per 1000 USA deaths per 1000
1913 30.2 13.2
1940 18.3 10.8
1950 9.6 9.6
1953 9.0 9.6
1956 7.5 9.4
We use 1913 as the starting date instead of 1917 when the Russian Revolution occurred. Some capitalist historians think it is fair not to blame the capitalist system for the deaths of World War I and 1913 was the last year before World War I.
In 1924 Lenin died and Stalin came to power in the USSR. In 1953 Stalin died. Khruschev denounced Stalin in 1956 in his “secret speech.” It’s been downhill to capitalism ever since in the USSR.
Year USSR infant deaths per 1000 USA infant deaths per 1000
1913 273 99.9
1940 184 47.0
1950 81 29.2
1953 68 27.8
1956 47 26.0
Source: John F. Kantner, “Basic Demographic Comparisons Between the USSR and the United States,” (1959)…paper submitted to the Subcommittee on Economic Statistics of the Joint Economic Committee, Eighty-sixth Congress, First Session, Washington, DC. in Alex Inkeles & Kent Geiger, eds. Soviet Society: A Book of Readings (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1961), p. 18.
FOOD WAS NEVER PURCHASED FROM ABROAD
…But we never resorted to purchasing food from abroad. We didn’t want to do that because we needed equipment and metals in the event of war…. That consideration came first, and no one could deny it.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago : I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 359