Joseph Hansen

Stalin Claims “A Year of Bolshevik Victories”

(20 January 1940)

Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 3, 21 January 1940, p. 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2018; This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

In the New Year’s issue of the Daily Worker, a feature story from Moscow, reprinted from Pravda, Sums Up a Year of Socialist Victories with Stalin, as the headline puts it. “The year 1939 can rightfully be called a year of brilliant Bolshevik victories,” says the article.

As first on the list of “brilliant victories” the article places the mere holding of the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of Russia. This Congress was a “brilliant victory.” Why? It is not explained. Perhaps because it succeeded in convening without so much as placing on the agenda the impending defeat of the socialist revolution in Spain in 1939, the catastrophe of the People’s Front policy in France and elsewhere, the work of the other sections of the Communist International, or the plight of the refugees from Spain and Germany.

As second of the “brilliant victories,” the Daily Worker lists the “interment” of Poland. The chief grave-digger in this interment, Hitler, is not mentioned by name, but praise for his major role in the job is nonetheless apparent.

Then follow as “brilliant victories” under the leadership of Stalin the holding of an agricultural exhibit, an increase in the grain harvest, “moral and political unity of the Soviet people, so brilliantly revealed in the elections,” the “Stalinist policy” which “averted” the danger of the Soviet Union being drawn into war, the pact with Germany, and the “fraternal assistance rendered by the Soviet Union to the Finnish people.” A year indeed of brilliant victories under Stalin’s brilliant leadership!

And Water in the Ferghana Canal!

But this was not all by any means. Stalin’s cup of victories is filled to overflowing. There was an industrial “increase” in certain Soviet industries which exceeded expectations (in other words, dislocated industry), an increased speed-up of the workers through further extension of Stakhanovism, and ... the building of a canal. “On Dec. 31 the canal will be opened – water (!!) will rush into the Ferghana Canal.”

With so many brilliant accomplishments reeking like fresh scalps on Stalin’s hatchet-belt, it might not seem quite genteel to discuss those Stalinist “victories” in 1939 which Moscow did not deem brilliant enough to mention in the article. Nevertheless in drawing up a balance sheet for 1939 there are certain events – victories in Stalinist language, but in any other language terrible defeats – which are of more concern to the working class of the world than even water rushing into the Ferghana Canal.

The Real Balance Sheet They Don’t Mention

We list as first, the strangling of the socialist revolution in Spain. The Stalinists, it will be recalled, “brilliantly” delivered up Barcelona and the richest industrial section of Spain to Franco’s fascist hordes without so much as a fight. They “brilliantly” executed thousands of revolutionaries who were fighting in the Republican camp against Franco. General Miaja, still a member in good standing of the Communist Party today, was in charge of the practical work connected with these “brilliant victories.” Stalin added the final niceties of his executioner’s touch to the tragedy of Spain by refusing admittance of the Spanish refugees to the Soviet Union and thus condemning them to Franco’s axe or to starvation in the French concentration camps if they were lucky enough to be able to escape Spain alive.

The Spanish collapse was the major defeat suffered by the working class during the five years of the Peoples Front policy of Stalin. Inasmuch as this policy saw its definitive collapse in 1939 it is proper to review its course briefly, as part of Stalin’s balance sheet of “victories.”

Stalin Polished Up the “Instrument” of Peace

The Peoples Front policy began in 1935, taking the USSR into the League of Nations, that “thieves’ kitchen,” as Lenin had termed it, but which Stalin dubbed an “instrument of peace.”

In France the Peoples Front policy cost the working class all the gains they had made from 1934 to 1936 by militant strike action; 1939 ended with a military dictatorship in full sway, militant workers hounded and persecuted, and even the Communist Party itself declared illegal.

In China the Peoples Front chained the Chinese workers once again to the chariot of the butcher Chiang Kai-Shek, who with Stalin’s aid had put down the revolution in China in 1927–28.

Preparing for the Pact with Hitler

In the United States the Peoples Front policy put Liberty Bells on the coat lapel of the Communist Party member and the Star Spangled Banner on his lips. When the Nazi German-American Bund launched an offensive in New York City in February 1939 and the Socialist Workers Party called on the workers to picket the mass meeting of fascists in Madison Square Garden, the Stalinists boycotted the picket lines. Similarly the Stalinists made practical preparations for their coming pact with Coughlin’s inspirer, Hitler, by boycotting the Aug. 19 counter-demonstrations initiated by the Socialist Workers Party.

In the nationwide WPA strike of last summer against Roosevelt’s slashes of relief, the Stalinists again boycotted the workers, piously accepting Roosevelt’s notorious strike-breaking dictum, “You can’t strike against the government,” and attempting to strangle strike action.

Last August, Stalin without so much as tipping off any section of his rotted Third International, threw overboard his entire five-year Peoples Front policy against fascism, dropped on his knees before Hitler and signed a pact with this blood-stained henchman of the capitalist class. This cast a new sidelight on such “brilliant victories” of Stalin as the Moscow Trials in which the accused were charged as being “allies” of Hitler; the execution of the Red generals on the same charge; the murder of an entire generation of Bolsheviks in the purges; the barring of Soviet doors to Jewish refugees fleeing from Hitler’s pogroms.

Fundamentally this pact was only another capitulation forced on Stalin by his abandonment of the policy of world revolution and his substitution of capitalist allies for the world working class. By his pact with Hitler and his brazen attempt to justify it as a “brilliant victory” Stalin alienated still further the sympathy and support of the world workers for the USSR. Already the consequences of this pact have forced Stalin to move westward and bureaucratically impose the Soviet regime upon the eastern part of Poland, with Finland now on the list. And these “victories,” no matter what their temporary military advantages may be, including even the fact that Stalin is compelled to socialize property in the occupied territories, when compared with the blow to the world revolution of which these acts are in essence a substitution, can only mean that Stalin has brought the hour of direst danger to the Soviet Union appreciably close. The mere fact that the signing of the Hitler-Stalin pact proved to be the signal for actual opening of hostilities in the second world war is evidence enough of that.

His Latest and Most “Brilliant” Victory

As a final “brilliant victory” of Stalinist policy, England and the other Allied powers and their satellites have seized upon the invasion of Finland as an opportunity for laying the basis for military intervention against the USSR. Soldiers are being sent to join the Finnish bourgeois armies, funds and arms, the sinews of war, are pouring into Finland for use against the Soviet Union. The Allies have made the most of the opening provided by Stalin and are now whipping up a tremendous campaign of sympathy for “poor little Finland” and hatred for Russian “imperialism.”

Thus Stalin has helped the forces of blackest reaction deal a stiff blow against the distinction in the mind of the working class between Soviet forms and capitalist forms of property.

Stalin can well chalk down 1939 as a banner year of “brilliant victories.” The catastrophic defeat in Spain alone would do that and entitle him to place 1939 even above the year 1926 in which he brought the British general strike to a disastrous end, 1927–28 when he strangled the Chinese revolution, and 1933 when he succeeded in binding the hands of the German workers so tightly that not a finger was lifted against the Nazis as they chopped down the German labor movement and marched into power.

The year 1939 has proved to the hilt that the only title Stalin deserves is that which Trotsky long ago gave him: “Stalin – organizer of defeats.”


Last updated on: 18 July 2018