J. V. Stalin

Mr. Campbell Stretches the Truth



First Published: Bolshevik, No.22, November 30, 1932
Source: J. V. Stalin, Works Volume 13, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1955, p. 148-159
Transcription/HTML Markup: Hari Kumar for Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America) and Charles Farrell
Online Version: Stalin Reference Archive (marxists.org) 2000


 


A book in English entitled Russia -- Market or Menace? written by Mr. Campbell, a well-known figure in the agricultural world, who had visited the USSR, recently made its appearance in America. In this book Mr. Campbell, among other things, gives an account of what he calls an "interview" with Stalin that took place in Moscow in January 1929. This "interview" is remarkable for the fact that its every sentence is either pure fiction or a sensational piece of trickery with the aim of gaining publicity for the book and its author.

It will not be amiss, in my opinion, to say a few words in order to expose these fictitious statements.

Mr. Campbell is obviously drawing on his imagination when he says that his talk with Stalin, which began at 1 p.m., "lasted until well after dark, in fact, until dawn." Actually, the talk did not last more than two hours. Mr. Campbell's imagination is truly American.

Mr. Campbell is stretching the truth when he asserts that Stalin "took my hand in both of his and said: 'we can be friends.'" As a matter of fact, nothing of the kind happened or could have happened.

Mr. Campbell cannot but know that Stalin has no need of "friends" of the Campbell type.

Mr. Campbell again stretches the truth when he says that on sending him a record of the talk, I added the postscript: "Keep this record, it may be a very historical document some day… As a matter of fact the record was sent to Mr. Campbell by the translator Yarotsky without any postscript at all. Mr. Campbell's desire to make capital out of Stalin obviously betrays him.

Mr. Campbell still further stretches the truth when he puts such words into the mouth of Stalin as that "under Trotsky there had been an attempt to spread communism throughout the world; that this was the primary cause of the break between hirnself [i.e., Stalin] and Trotsky; that Trotsky believed in universal communism, while he [Stalin] worked to confine his efforts to his own country." Only people who have deserted to the camp of the Kautskys and the Welses can believe such stuff and nonsense, in which the facts are turned upside-down. As a matter of fact, the talk with Campbell had no bearing on the Trotsky question and Trotsky's name was not mentioned at all in the course of it.

And so on in the same strain.

Mr. Campbell mentioned in his book the record of his talk with Stalin but he did not find it necessary to publish it in his book. Why? Was it not because publication of the record would have upset Mr. Campbell's plan to utilize the sensational fables about the "interview" with Stalin in order to gain publicity for Campbell's book among the American philistines?

I think the best punishment for the lying Mr. Campbell would he to publish the record of the talk between Mr. Campbell and Stalin. This would be the surest means of exposing his lies and establishing the facts.

J . Stalin

November 23, 1932


Record of the Talk with Mr. Campbell

January 28, 1929

Alter an exchange of preliminary phrases Mr. Campbell explained his desire to pay a visit to Stalin. He pointed out that although he was in the USSR in a private capacity, he had, before leaving the United States, seen Coolidge and also Hoover, the newly elected President, and received their full approval of his trip to Russia. His stay here showed him the amazing activity of the nation that has remained an enigma to the whole world. He particularly liked the projects for the development of agriculture. He knew of the existence of many wrong notions about Russia, but had himself been in the Kremlin, for instance, and had seen the work being done to preserve memorials of art and in general to raise the level of cultural life. He was particularly struck by the solicitude for working men and working women. It seemed to him an interesting coincidence that before his departure from the United States he was invited by the President, and saw Coolidge's son and wife, while yesterday he was the guest of Mikhail Kalinin, President of the USSR, who impressed him tremendously.

Stalin: With regard to our plans of agricultural and industrial development, as well as our concern for the development of cultural life, we are still at the very beginning of our work. In the building up of industry we have done very little as yet. Still less has been done in carrying out the plans for agricultural re-construction. We must not forget that our country was exceedingly backward and that this backwardness is still a great handicap.

The difference between the former and the new leading figures in Russia consists, among other things, in the fact that the old ones considered the country's backwardness one of its good points, regarding it as a "national characteristic," a matter for "national pride," whereas the new people, the Soviet people, combat it as an evil that must be rooted out. Herein lies the guarantee of our success.

We know that we are not free from mistakes. But we do not fear criticism, are not afraid to face the difficulties and admit our mistakes. We shall accept correct criticism and welcome it. We watch developments in the USA, for that country ranks high in science and technology. We would like scientific and technical people in America to be our teachers in the sphere of technique, and we their pupils.

Every period in the development of a nation is marked by a passion of its own. In Russia we now witness a passion for construction. This is her preponderating feature today. This explains the construction fever that we are. experiencing at present. It is reminiscent of the period that the USA went through after the Civil War.(1) This affords a basis and an opportunity for technical industrial and commercial cooperation with the USA I do not know what still needs to be done to secure contact with American industry. Could you not explain what now prevents such a rapprochement from being realized, if it is established that such contact would be advantageous to both the USSR and the USA?

Mr. Campbell: I am certain that there is a striking similarity between the USA and Russia in point of size, resources and independence. Mr. Stalin's reference to the Civil War period is correct. After the Civil War extraordinary expansion was witnessed. The people in the USA are interested in Russia. I am sure that Russia is too big a country not to be a big factor in world relations. The people at the head of the Russian Government have grand opportunities to accomplish great things. All that is needed for this is clarity of judgment and the ability to be fair at all times.

I see the advantage of proper business contact and I am maintaining close connection with the government, although I am a private citizen. I am carrying on this conversation as a private person. Once I have been asked what hinders contact between the USA and Russia I want to answer with the utmost frankness and courage, with due respect for Mr. Stalin and without giving offence. He is very objective-minded and this allows me to converse with him as man to man for the benefit of both countries and absolutely confidentially. If we could have official recognition everybody would be anxious to get here to do business on a credit or other basis, as is being done everywhere. A reason why American firms hesitate to do business and grant long-term credits is the fact that our Washington Government does not recognize your Government.

The main reason for this, however, is not simply failure in the matter of recognition. The main reason, we assume (and this may be taken as certain), is that representatives of your Government in our country are trying all the time to sow discontent and spread the ideas of Soviet power.

We have in our country what is called the "Monroe Doctrine," which signifies that we do not want to interfere in the affairs of any other country in the world, that we confine ourselves strictly to our own affairs. For that reason we do not want any country whatever - Britain, France, Germany, Russia or any other - to interfere in our private affairs.

Russia is so vast a country that she can by herself fulfil everything that her whole people decide to do. Russia has resources of her own of every kind, and although it will take more time the Russians in the long run will be able to develop their resources independently.

It gives us pleasure to feel that in many respects we are an ideal for the Russian people, and I believe we can be very useful to that people, particularly in economizing time. Since we have solved many economic problems and our methods are copied by many countries besides Russia, such enterprises as the building of state farms imply a strengthening of trade connections, and In the final analysis trade connections will be followed by diplomatic recognition on some equitable basis. The only way for nations, as for individuals, is to speak out frankly without discourtesy, and then the time will soon come for some kind of agreement. The better our upbringing the greater our conviction that more can be achieved by reason than by any other means. Great nations can differ in opinion without straining relations and great men can come to an arrangement on major problems. They usually wind up their negotiations with a definite agreement in which they meet each other halfway, no matter how far apart their initial positions were.

Stalin: I realize that diplomatic recognition involves difficulties for the USA at the present moment. Soviet Government representatives have been subjected to abuse by the American press so much and so often that an abrupt change is difficult. Personally I do not consider diplomatic recognition decisive at the moment. What is important is a development of trade connections on the basis of mutual advantage. Trade relations need to be normalized and if this matter is put on some legal footing it would be a first and very important step towards diplomatic recognition. The question of diplomatic recognition will find its own solution when both sides realize that diplomatic relations are advantageous. The chief basis is trade relations and their normalization, which will lead to the establishment of definite legal norms.

The natural resources of our country are, of course, rich and varied. They are richer and more varied than is officially known, and our research expeditions are constantly finding new resources in our extensive country. But this is only one aspect of our potentialities. The other aspect is the fact that our peasants and workers are now rid of their former burden, the landlords and capitalists. Formerly the landlords and capitalists used to squander unproductively what today remains within the country and increases its internal purchasing power. The increase in demand is such that our industry, in spite of its rapid expansion, cannot catch up with it. The demand is prodigious, both for personal and productive consumption. This is the second aspect of our unlimited potentialities.

Both the one and the other give rise to an important basis for commercial and industrial contact with the USA as well as other developed countries.

The question as to which state is to apply its forces to these resources and potentialities of our country is the object of a complicated struggle among them. Unfortunately the USA still stands quite aloof from this struggle.

On all sides the Germans are shouting that the position of the Soviet Government is unstable and that therefore one ought not to grant any considerable credits to Soviet economic organizations. At the same time they try to monopolize trade relations with the USSR by granting it credits.

As you know, one group of British businessmen is also carrying on a fierce anti-Soviet campaign. At the same time this very group and also the McKenna group are endeavoring to organize credits for the USSR The press has already reported that in February a delegation of British industrialists and bankers will come to the USSR They intend to submit to the Soviet Government an extensive plan for trade relations and a loan.

How are we to explain this duplicity of the German and British businessmen? It is to be explained by their desire to monopolize trade relations with the USSR, frightening the USA away and pushing it aside.

At the same time, it is clear to me that the USA has better grounds for extensive business connections with the USSR than any other country. And this is not only because the USA is rich both in technical equipment and capital, but also because in no other country are our business people given such a cordial and hospitable welcome as in the USA.

As regards propaganda, I must state most emphatically that no representative of the Soviet Government has the right to interfere, either directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of the country in which he happens to be. In this respect the most strict and definite instructions have been given to all our personnel employed in Soviet institutions in the USA I am certain that Bron and the members of his staff do not have the slightest connection with propaganda in any form whatsoever. Should any of our employees violate these strict directives as regards non-interference he would immediately be recalled and punished. Naturally we cannot answer for the actions of persons not known and not subordinate to us. But we can assume responsibility as regards interference by persons employed in our institutions abroad, and we can give the maximum guarantees on that score.

Mr. Campbell: May I tell that to Mr. Hoover?

Stalin: Of course.

Mr. Campbell: We do not know who those people are that sow discontent. But there are such people. The police find them and their literature. I know Bron and am convinced that he is an honest, straightforward gentleman, who does business honestly. But there is somebody.

Stalin: It is possible that propaganda in favor of Soviets is being carried on in the USA by members of the American Communist Party. But that party is legal in the USA, it legally participates in Presidential elections and nominates its candidates for President, and it is quite clear that we cannot be interfering in your internal affairs in this case either.

Mr. Campbell: I have no further questions. But yes, I have. When I return to the United States businessmen will ask me whether it is safe to do business with the USSR Engineering concerns in particular will be interested in the possibility of granting long-term credits. Can I answer in the affirmative? Can I obtain information on the measures now being taken by the Soviet Government to guarantee credit transactions; is there any special tax or other specific source of revenue set aside for this purpose?

Stalin: I would prefer not to sing the praises of my country. But now that the question has been put I must reply as follows: There has not been a single instance of the Soviet Government or a Soviet economic institution failing to make payment correctly and on tune on credits, whether short-term or long-term. Inquiries could be made in Germany on how we meet payments to the Germans on their credit of three hundred millions. Where do we get the means to effect payment? Mr. Campbell knows that money does not drop from the sky. Our agriculture, industry, trade, timber, oil, gold, platinum, etc. -- such is the source of our payments. Therein lies the guarantee of our payments. I do not want Mr. Campbell to take my word for it. He can check my statements in Germany, for example. He will find that not once was payment postponed, although at times we actually had to pay such unheard-of interest rates as 15-20%.

As far as special guarantees are concerned, I believe there is no need to speak of this seriously in the case of the USSR

Mr. Campbell: Of course not.

Stalin: Perhaps it would not be amiss to tell you, strictly confidentially, about the loan, not credit but loan, offered by a group of British bankers - that of Balfour and Kingsley.

Mr. Campbell: May I tell Hoover about this?

Stalin: Of course, but don't give it to the press. This group of bankers are making the following proposal:

They calculate that our debts to Britain amount approximately to 400,000,000. It is proposed that they be consolidated at 25%. That means 100,000,000 instead of 400,000,000.

Simultaneously a loan of 100,000,000 is proposed.

Thus our indebtedness will amount to 200,000,000 to be paid in installments over a period of several decades.

In return we are to give preference to the British engineering industry. This does not mean that we shall have to place our orders in Britain alone, but the British must be given preference.

Mr. Campbell, in expressing his thanks for the interview, says that Stalin has impressed him as a fair, well-informed and straightforward man. He is very glad to have had the opportunity of speaking with Stalin and considers the interview historic.

Stalin thanks Mr. Campbell for the talk.

 


 

(1) This refers to the Civil War between the northern and the Southern states of America in 1861-65