Hal Draper 1953

What Are the Social Roots of the ‘Relaxation’ Crisis in the Kremlin?

Source: Labor Action, 6 July 1953. Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

The accompanying article is substantially based on a lecture given at various meetings in the month of May. I had hoped to get the time to develop the theme further and with more detailed references to the discussions that surrounded the Nineteenth Party Congress of the Russian Communist Party; but since this has proved impossible so far, it is perhaps well to set it down in its present form, which is that of a suggestive hypothesis on the very complex question it raises. Unlike a number of ‘Russian experts’ who have been giving us the final low-down on the Kremlin crisis, I am not of the opinion that it is The Explanation, but I think it suggests an approach to the social roots of the Russian crisis which merits further investigation.

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The Great Relaxation in Russia, which followed hard on the death of Stalin, is an event of major importance from the point of view of its effect on all international politics, but it also challenges interpretation as a major event from another angle: what does it indicate about the internal dynamics of the Stalinist system? – its laws of motion, if a more grandiose term is desired.

It has indubitably pointed to conflicts inside the Russian bureaucratic ruling class; but this idea has been interpreted in an extremely – and peculiarly ‘American’ – narrow sense by commentators, analysts and assorted ‘Russian experts’. That is, the idea of conflicts inside the ruling class is too often equated with the idea of conflicts inside the Kremlin, that is, among the top dictators of the ruling class. But these two are plainly not the same thing.

A discussion of a battle for power among the Malenkovs, Berias, Molotovs, Khrushchevs and other top-level masters, whether or not accompanied by schemas of bureaucratic factional alliances, is surely a possible contribution to the general question; and it would be a very good thing if any of our experts could manage to work out a hypothetical construction on this intriguing problem which would hold water for more than a couple of weeks. But more often than not, the focus of attention is not really on the top-level struggle as part of a conflict within a ruling class, but on this struggle as one merely between individual aspirants for personal power, in a context which is not differentiated too sharply from similar power contests in the kind of bureaucratic political machines with which we are familiar under capitalism.

On this approach we had a number of things to say in the very first article in Labor Action after the death of Stalin (16 March); it would be useful to repeat it here, in toto, though we shall not.

Here we wish to put the spotlight on the internal dynamics of the class of which the Kremlin dictators are the leaders. The internal conflict to be discussed here is not within the Kremlin but typically between the Kremlin group and the ranks of that class.

Just as this is not set in opposition to any analysis of personal battles for power within the Kremlin, which no doubt exist, so it is also not set in opposition to the other extremely important question of the conflicts and antagonisms between the bureaucratic class and the mass of exploited workers and peasants.

Crisis of the System: There are, then, three levels of conflict that demand attention: inside the Kremlin top circles of the ruling class; inside the ruling class as a whole; and between the ruling bureaucracy and the masses of people. We are concerned here with the second.

Merely to define this second area of interest is, almost automatically, to raise all the basic problems of the laws of motion of Stalinist bureaucratic collectivism as a social system. It can hardly be discussed without doing so, this is the very first way in which it differs from the more usual speculation over the first and third areas of conflict.

It raises the problem of looking at the post-Stalin crisis as a crisis of the social system, and not merely as a crisis of personal power or as a manifestation of the class struggle.

We shall begin by briefly pointing to the contradiction which lies at the basis of the chronic crisis of this social system. We shall argue that this crisis, while it was not created by Stalin’s death, was rendered acute and opened up wide as a result of Stalin’s death.

We shall point out that, especially in the year that preceded Stalin’s death, the regime had embarked on a high-voltage campaign directed towards solving this crisis with certain methods and in a certain direction, after there had been long debates, disputes and cross-pulls. This was the theme and focus of the Nineteenth Party Congress last October, the congress at which Malenkov stepped forward as the heir-apparent of the boss. It was the central theme of much of the discussion material in the Russian press which preceded the Nineteenth Congress; it was the point hammered away at in the press after the congress.

The regime was in full swing along the lines of this campaign to solve its besetting chronic crisis; when No 1 died – and all the cards in the deck flew up in the air.

Fundamental Starting Point: The chronic crisis of the Stalinist social system of bureaucratic collectivism is, fundamentally, due to its basic inherent contradiction: the contradiction between totalitarianism and economic planning.

This idea has lately been given special attention in the columns of Labor Action. It is also our starting point here. This much is necessary as a reminder.

I: This Stalinist society, in our view, is a new type of exploitive social system, which has nothing in common with socialism and which is antagonistic to the old system of capitalism. Its basis is a completely statified economy. The state owns all the means of production, but who ‘owns’ the state? Not the people, as in a socialist democracy. This state-which-owns-everything is itself ‘owned’ and controlled by a totalitarian bureaucracy, the new ruling class.

This society is organised as a bureaucratic pyramid, operating from the top down; it is a society in which the totalitarian purge system implemented by the GPU is not a conjunctural method but an inherent characteristic of the system.

In this society where the state (the political institution of society) is the direct master of the economic institutions of the society, politics and economics are fused. The totalitarian system which is the political regime is also the economic regime. Totalitarianism characterises not only the relations between the ruling class and the oppressed classes; it also characterises the relationships inside the ruling class, among the hierarchical layers of its composition from top to bottom.

II: Under capitalism, that which regulates and orders the economic system is the capitalist market and its laws, not conscious planning. In the unplanned and basically anarchic system of capitalism, it is this ‘blind’ behind-the-scenes regulator of the economy which acts as its impersonal ‘planner’, which is supposed to overcome disproportions in the economy, which governs the relationships inside the capitalist class also.

The capitalist market as the regulator and governor of the economy does not exist under the Stalinist system. There is something else which performs this function as the regulator of the system. In any completely statified system there is only one thing which can do so. That is conscious planning.

The Stalinist society must be planned, or else it must be chaos. But like everything else under its totalitarian structure, the economic planning of the system is devised from above, bureaucratically; it is bureaucratically imposed from above; it is bureaucratically enforced from above; it is bureaucratically checked from above; it is bureaucratically modified and adapted from above.

But no bureaucratic commission can itself really plan the labyrinth of economic and social processes which go on in the modern complex industrial society. The framework of a plan must be constantly checked from below, corrected from below. For its live adaptation, it must depend on initiative and responsibility from below. It must be self-correcting through the give-and-take of democratic planning between the upper and lower echelons on every level.

This is exactly what is impossible under Stalinist planning.

The ‘Planned Muddle’: It is this which gives rise to the ‘planned muddle’ of Stalinist economy, and to the unending, continual series of fantastic snarls, snafus, breakdowns, botches and disproportions which characterise it. What must be realised about the Stalinist economy is the scale on which this takes place. Our readers lately got an idea of this from the excellent article by Robert Loukota on the Stalinist economy in Czechoslovakia; for a descriptive presentation of the situation we recently recommended the book by Zavalani, How Strong Is Russia?. Kravchenko’s I Chose Freedom had a good section, describing his experiences as a factory manager. For a concentrated summary of this chronic crisis from the point of view of the factory manager (that is, the lower echelons of the bureaucracy), we have recommended an article in the February 1953 issue of Fortune magazine.

The factory manager must meet his monthly production quota – but how, if he does not have the manpower that has been ‘planned’ on paper, if he does not have the raw materials that have been ‘planned’ for his receipt, or if they are unusable on receipt? Etc. The regime, cracking the whip on top, demands performance. Mistakes are sabotage. Failure is disloyalty. Fear and suspicion are the rule. Every decision to be made is a trap, especially if it involves judgement or initiative. What is the reality behind the fact, which the Russian press’ laments show to be the rule, that factory quotas are most often met by ‘storming tactics’ in the last week or so of the month? If the quota is a million screws, they have to be produced, even if eventually they will not fit the machine for which they are intended – but that is another plant’s lookout. Hence the constant drive from above for ‘quality’ in production. We have not even scratched the surface with these hints.

Escape-Valve: In fact, the question that inevitably arises in the mind of anyone who gets a full view of this picture especially from the Russian sources is: how does this economy manage to work at all?

It is true that Russia’s production is dependent to a large extent on enormous expenditures of human labour power and resources, including masses of slave labour, and on the most intense rate of labour exploitation in the world. It is also true that, with the victory in the war, Russia’s looting and robbing of the satellites undoubtedly gave its economy a substantial lift. But these are auxiliary in the sense that they help to account for the high level of production but not for the way in which the productive system manages to muddle through at all. What makes the ‘planned muddle’ work?

For this, one has to look down into the hierarchy of the ruling bureaucracy, to those strata of it which are in direct contact with the problem, typified by the factory managers.

To keep production going, these lower echelons of the bureaucracy have constantly to seek to escape from the straitjacket of the bureaucratic Plan.

From this arises the notorious system of blat, the Russian term which sums up all the ways to which the factory managers have recourse in order to get their production quotas out in spite of everything. Labour is piratically snagged from other plants – in this economy which has to be planned. Influence with the local party secretary can get a shipment of raw materials side-tracked from another factory – in this economy which has to be planned. Winter clothes will be produced for summer wear, if that is possible when the proper materials cannot be gotten – and Pravda then writes incredible articles about the spectacle showing in Moscow shop windows. ‘Pushers’ are employed by the factory managers to do what the ‘plan’ is supposed to do, namely, bring the factors of production together, but on an anarchic individual basis. Again, the full picture can hardly be gathered from these examples, but they are illustrative.

No Escape on Top: This escape from the Plan, getting around the Plan, is an individual escape for the lower-echelon bureaucrat. But from the point of view of the system as a whole, it obviously and inevitably only snarls things up further.

The factory manager does not engage in these practices because he is antagonistic to planning; he does it because he has to, to save his own neck. The top bureaucrat, denouncing ‘Indiscipline in the Plan’ as the greatest evil, knows full well that it goes on and must go on but he hopes it can be kept under control, whereas on the contrary it must snowball.

On the level of the economy as a whole, this mode of escape for the factory manager appears in the eyes of the top bureaucracy as a prime danger, a consuming creeping evil, which bears within itself the menace of mounting disproportions in the economy, complete breakdown of the only thing which regulates and governs the economy, the Plan.

Within this mode of production polar tendencies are set up: the tendency of the lower echelons of the bureaucracy to make their individual ‘plans’ conform with reality, at the expense of the social Plan as a whole; and the need of the top bureaucracy to whip the lower echelons into line with the Plan.

Hence the problem of controls within the ruling bureaucracy, leaving quite outside at our purview the whole question of the controls over the masses who lie outside all sections of the ruling class.

What is set up is a tug-of-war between the tops and the lower echelons inside the bureaucracy, a tug-of-war in which one side pulls to evade the controls from above, and the other side pulls back to keep the administrative bureaucracy on the ground of the Plan.

What are the solutions for the top bureaucracy? There has been more than one pushed at different times. Let us take a quick look at three, and then at the one around which the Nineteenth Party Congress focussed.

I) The problem is evasion of controls down below? Then, more controls for them! That is, more bureaucratic controls from on top. But it is as plain as day that this only intensities the basic evil of bureaucratised planning – gasoline on the fire.

II) Splitting up of bureaucratic controls, as for example in the new Czech system described by Robert Loukota, where, to counter one evil, factory management was in effect split between the manager and the chief accountant, to avoid rigging by either. It cannot work.

III) Long before now, the Stalinist regime understood that the remedy must be sought in some form of control from below, as stands to reason. Only – it is just this which is impossible for them. Thus it has long been the practice for the regime to call on all good and loyal workers to report all eases of ‘plan indiscipline’, corruption, botches, mistakes that have been covered over, etc, in letters to the press and authorities – economic stool-pigeonry. We need not examine how this in practice functions in quite another manner – as a mechanism for purging selected victims, for example – but not at any real live check from below on behalf of the Plan.

Malenkov Complains: The solution to this crisis which was raised to a campaign at the Nineteenth Party Congress was another variant: not more bureaucratic controls from the top (at least in form); not more calls for check from below by workers; but, so to speak, check from the side: the supervision and check over the economic organisations by the parallel party organisations in the area or field. Bring the party units to bear on the lower echelons of the bureaucracy! This was the battle-cry of the Nineteenth Congress, not entirely new in itself of course, but raised to a new desperate pitch.

The most important thing about the Nineteenth Congress theme was not the particular form it took, as described above; the important thing was the fact that the congress sought to bring the whole strength of the party to bear to crack the whip over the lower ranks of the bureaucracy, to pull it into line in the tug-of-war.

For the chronic crisis of the economic regime had been steadily mounting since the end of the world war.

It is true that the situation is a continuing one, inherent in the system at all times. But during the war there had been a change in the relationship of forces in the tug-of-war. The eyes, strength, attention and resources of the regime were strained to fight an external foe in a desperate fight for life. It is possible to show that, with respect to the question of intra- bureaucratic control that we have been discussing, there had to be and was a substantial loosening up. With the end of the war, the regime started to try to swing the helm back the other way.

The report by Malenkov to the Nineteenth Party Congress, in its sections which obviously deal with this problem, is general, gingerly worded, carefully vague in its formulation, but not too Aesopian to be understood. He leaves absolutely no doubt that he is discussing how to counter a trend that raised its head fearsomely in the postwar period. Thus, for example (our emphasis):

Strengthening of the party bodies, improving their activity and intensifying the work of the party organisations acquired a special significance in the postwar period... The fact of the matter is that wartime conditions had necessitated certain specific methods of party leadership and had given rise to serious shortcomings in the work of the party bodies and party organisations... There was a certain danger of the party bodies losing contact with the masses, and that... they would turn into something in the nature of administrative-management offices incapable of countering the sundry local, narrow-departmental and other anti-state tendencies, and failing to notice outright distortions of the party’s policy in economic upbuilding and violations of state interests.

‘The fact of the matter is’, he says, that since the conclusion of the war:

Facts show that the successes have engendered in the ranks of the party sentiments of complacency, ostentation and philistine smugness, a desire to rest on one’s laurels and live on past services. No small number of functionaries have appeared who believe that ‘everything is easy’, ‘a walkover’, that ‘all is well’ and that there is no need to indulge in so unpleasant a task as disclosing shortcomings, and mistakes in the work, or combating negative and unhealthy practices in our organisations.

He denounces the bureaucrats ‘who place their personal tranquillity’ above the state’s injunctions. He denounces others who try to turn their enterprises ‘into their own private domains’ where they can do whatever they wish.

It is the top bureaucracy rallying its forces in the tug-of-war with the ranks of the functionaries.

What the Bureaucracy Wants: It is the latter poor devils who are in the middle of the ‘planned muddle’. They see themselves hemmed in on all sides, in the exercise of their job, by the straitjacket controls imposed by a regime which sees sabotage and disloyalty all about it.

They feel themselves buffeted between reality and the Plan, tied down by the impossible controls from the top by the top. They have no ‘freedom’ to do their job. It is not political freedom that is involved for them; they accept the lack of it, and understand as well as the tops what political freedom would mean for their system

But to the economic controllers on top, they cry, ‘Leave us alone and we'll get a job done... Don’t press us so hard! Stop pushing, you only get in the way!’ To the tops, this appears, and with some justice, as a ‘local, narrow departmental’ viewpoint, a ‘desire to rest’, ‘smugness’, false cries that ‘all is well’ and we don’t need any more controls, a base yearning for ‘personal tranquillity’. This is what Malenkov is virtually quoting.

And indeed they have a ‘desire to rest’. We are used to thinking quite truly in terms of the hard lot of the Russian working class, but the fact is that there is not a ruling class in the world which is as hard-driven as that in this Stalinist bureaucratic-collectivist society. They have arrived at posts of relative privilege and standing? Yes, and they have to maintain it at a cost which, in its own way, is a driving strain greater even than that of the workers in their factories.

They have risen in the world, these new bureaucrats, and they have an understandable desire to enjoy the fruits of their success. If they assure the regime that ‘everything is easy’, as Malenkov notes, they mean, ‘We want to take it easy.’ That is, easier. They want to relax, to enjoy life in this regime which exists by straining, girding, whipping, driving and pushing to their utmost not only the masses – but, as the intermediary transmission belt to the masses, its own ranks of bureaucrats and functionaries.

The controls and whips against which they tug are the controls of the Plan and of the machinery geared from the top to enforce ‘discipline of the plan’. And the tops know that this relaxation which the ranks of the class yearn for means economic anarchy, literally.

The Nineteenth Party Congress, and as usual even more specifically the press ‘discussion’ which preceded it, was the setting for the regime’s postwar effort to rally against these disintegrative tendencies. This first party congress since the end of the war was not convened until the regime was ready to marshal its strength in this contest.

The New Generation: There is another angle from which to approach this same situation, taking off from a phenomenon which has been much remarked.

This bureaucracy of which we speak, in its many-millioned ranks, is a new generation of bureaucrats. It is one that has been shaped under Stalinism, and has developed to conscious participation only under this system.

Stalin and the Stalinist counter-revolution came to power against the Bolsheviks with a different generation, different cadres. They were going to ‘build socialism’ in their own way – in one country – on a nationalistic basis, by force and terror; but what we wish to stress is that they were going to build socialism.

This generation, in its own way, counter-revolutionary as it was, had a certain ‘idealism’. This Stalinism was transitional: it did not consider itself an end in itself and it could not remain where it was. For it, the Stalinist society which it was building was not the end of a road but a means. They saw this ‘socialism’ of theirs in deadly conflict with the capitalist world, only one of which could survive, precisely because they thought of it as ‘socialism’. They had an historical view of themselves, a mission. For this mission the whole society had to be girded and driven even as they drove themselves; dedicated; yes, sacrificing; for the alternative was ruin and defeat.

Such is not this generation of the bureaucracy.

Now we have the ‘Soviet men’, as they have been vaguely distinguished. For them, this society is it. It is not a road to ‘something else’, it is theirs and it could be good. And above all it is what they know.

They could enjoy it like any other ruling class, if just allowed to do so. They want to be a ruling class like any other ruling class – not like any other capitalist ruling class, to be sure, but like any other ruling class which enjoys the fruits of its exploitation. They want a state like any other state, in the same sense; and to hell with this driving mission for the future, which has approximately the same meaning for them as Thomas Jefferson’s remarks about watering the tree of liberty with blood every so often has for the average American. [1]

Rest, relax, let up, stop pushing, let us enjoy our bureaucratic life – this is what the guns of the Nineteenth Congress thundered away at. In this picture which we are suggesting, the conflict inside the Russian ruling class is a conflict between the men on top and the hierarchy of functionaries below them. This is the tug-of-war which we have been picturing.

Peace, In Two Senses: In this kind of conflict are involved all the questions of policy of the regime. But of all the problems of policy which are raised, one of the most immediate is that of foreign policy, war and peace.

We would suggest at this point that it is out of this pull towards relaxation in the ranks of the bureaucracy that there arises the ‘mass’ basis, within the ruling class, for a most powerful cry for an easing of the Cold War. They want an easement of the internal relations; but an international easement is a prerequisite. They want to regularise their status internally; but for this they have to regularise foreign relations. They want to relax internally; but for this a relaxation of the external strain is a necessity.

For the older Stalinist generation, ‘peaceful coexistence’ may be a matter of demagogy. For this new bureaucratic mass, ‘peaceful coexistence’ is a yearning that arises out of their class relationships.

Perhaps, if some of our Russian experts who draw up schemes of factional line-ups are right, Zhdanov had wanted a militant anti-capitalist policy in world politics. These, however, say: ‘So what if capitalism is shaky, and this is the time to push it, as you claim? Let it shake, let it fall, as we are told is inevitable anyway, but that’s not our mission – away with missions! Let up all around, so that you can let up on us!’

Transmission Belt: There is another angle of approach. We have been concentrating on the intra-class relationships between the lower bureaucracy and the tops of the party hierarchy. But precisely because the former is ‘lower’, it is in the middle between the party hierarchy and the masses. It is they who have to drive the workers as they themselves are driven; but the whip is no automatic solution, contrary to the opinion of so many who are awed by totalitarianism as much as they hate it, as in a form of devil-worship.

In spite of the whip, a ‘cold’ class struggle goes on, in the elementary form of absenteeism, malingering, indifference to the job (’sabotage’), indifference to quality, low productiveness, etc. The factory manager is bedevilled by the fact that the workers have the least of inducements to give their all for him. It is known that these lower bureaucrats even go so far as to offer bribes and inducements to snatch labour from other plants when hard-pressed. In a different sense from the working masses, the factory manager also wishes that it were possible to offer them greater inducements to produce at their peak – more consumption goods, more crumbs from the table, concessions.

In this way, side by side with their function as the tyrannical whips and oppressors of the regime, and not at all in contradiction with it, the inevitable tendency must also arise, out of their own immediate interests, for the lower bureaucrats to act as transmitting belts for the needs of the people. ‘If they got a crust more, they would work harder, and some of our problems would be eased. If prices are lowered, they would less difficult.’

The pressure from below is transmitted through these lower sections of the bureaucratic class. This factor, contributed by the pressure of the class antagonisms, enters into the matrix of the relationships inside the ruling class. The lower bureaucracy wants concessions to itself; but concessions to the workers becomes a part of its implicit ‘programme’ also.

The Role of Stalin’s Death: We have repeatedly called this intra-class conflict a ‘tug-of-war’. The metaphor makes clear why it was that the death of Stalin could and did intervene in this situation with explosive effect.

In a different kind of society, the death of one man, even the most powerful man in the land, would not have had as fundamental and far-reaching an impact. In the conflict we have tried to describe, its impact cannot be overestimated.

Picture this tug-of-war: on one side of the rope, the Kremlin gang around Stalin; on the other side, the lower echelons of the bureaucracy. (It does not matter if this picture is oversimplified, as it certainly is; it is the over-all pattern we want to stress.) For seven years since the end of the war, the former have been girding for a major effort on the rope, represented by the Nineteenth Congress. The big pull begins; the country resounds with its cries and slogans for months. The whole force of the party hierarchy is grouped around the Mighty Right Hand, which has concentrated all the power of the hierarchy in itself.

In the midst of this all-out pull, the strong arm of the boss falls.

We know the situation in general that followed: a big weakening of power in the Kremlin, ‘disarray’, a vacuum.

In our tug-of-war, the rope can go only one way.

In political terms, the regime is pulled towards the ‘programme’ which arises out of the class position of the lower ranks of the new-generation bureaucracy.

These feel their oats. They can be more demanding, more self-confident, if only temporarily. They must be more tenderly regarded by all contenders for the top power. Facing them, and in no position for a crackdown, is the new directorate in the Kremlin, bereft of Stalin, besieged by strains, unconsolidated, shaky, perhaps wanting to travel Stalin’s path but unable to do so without detours at least.

Classic Pattern: We have been discussing up to now as if the top circles in the Kremlin were or are an homogeneous group as against the rest of the bureaucracy, in the face of the class problem. But it would be unprecedented if this were entirely so, even before the death of Stalin, even granting that the tops have to be unitedly aware of the danger from below. For there are different ways of meeting a danger: concessions, the club, or any combination thereof, in any admixture of a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ line.

Even more true is this of the new directorate without Stalin.

A classic pattern asserts itself. Cracks have appeared on top, the tops are visibly weakened. Dangerous forces down below are encouraged, stimulated to widen the crack. There is always the threat that through the cracks, the struggle from below will pour through. How shall it be met?

The classic dilemma of hard-or-soft confronted the new masters too. We cannot crack down, not yet, but how much shall we give way? If we give too much, that may be very effective in appeasing the animals – or will it just encourage them to grab for our arm too? How far can we go in relaxation, and get away with it? How far can we go in relaxation on this and that, while still unmistakably warning, ‘So far and no further'?

Anyone who wishes may proceed to tie up the names of given Presidium bosses with the ‘hards’ or ‘softs’. That is a different game, and very popular. What is more important is that a strong social pull from below will tend to find its ‘representatives’ on top, even if only in the form of a ‘soft’ opponent rather than a ‘hard’ one. In the last analysis, even personal-power battles in the Kremlin cannot be divorced from the social issues that arise from below.

But there is one big difference between a conflict in the Kremlin which is simply a personal-power battle, and a conflict which is rooted in the chronic crisis of the system. The former can find a solution; the latter cannot.

In the former case the Russian crisis can be resolved if Malenkov crunches his boot over Beria, or vice-versa, or the same with any suitable change of names required by a given speculation. The Kremlin crisis is then over.

But for the crisis which we have described, there is no final solution. It will go on, in a hundred forms, until the regime is overthrown.


1. The discussion at this point does not necessarily imply that this new generation bureaucracy is homogeneous. It should be taken as describing the dominant trend in it. From one section of Stalin’s last work, Economic Problems of Socialism, a polemic against one Yaroshenko, it has been argued that Stalin is attacking an equalitarian tendency among the new generation. Nothing above is intended to gainsay that. Starting from the same situation, rising young stars of the bureaucracy can go off in diametrically opposite directions. They read The Books and find in them the opposite of Russian reality; they raise questions; they want to call in, as due, the promissory notes issued in the past, by Stalin’s generation. But this takes us outside the scope of intra-class bureaucratic relationships as such, to which this article is limited. [Author’s note]