Joseph Hansen

Why Stalin Inflicted Mass Purges
on Revolutionary Soviet Workers

(1 June 1946)

Source: The Militant, Vol. X No. 22, 1 June 1946, p. 7.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
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(The second of a series of articles)

Editorial Note: The Stalinist prosecutors at the Nuremberg trial have failed to produce a single document from Nazi archives supporting Stalin’s contention in the notorious Moscow Trials that Lenin’s main collaborators all ended up as Hitlerites. The Stalinist prosecutor s failed to ask a single question of the Nazi prisoners about their alleged connection with the defendants in the Moscow Trials. In fact the Stalinist prosecutors have failed to mention anything connected with the Moscow Trials. Thus they have unwittingly underlined what had already been proved in 1937 by the International Commission of Inquiry headed by John Dewey – namely that the Moscow Trials were frame-ups and that Leon Trotsky and his son Sedov were innocent of the foul charges cooked up by Stalin. As a result interest has again been aroused in the Moscow Trials.

Last week Comrade Hansen demonstrated how the monstrous Purges from 1934 to 1942 by their sheer size and extent reveal the falsity of the Moscow trials.

* * *

Many attempts have been made to explain this long series of frightful purges suffered by the people of the USSR. All serious commentators without exception have dismissed out of hand the lying official explanation of Stalin that it was in answer to a pact made with Hitler by Lenin’s former collaborators. They have rejected as utterly absurd the contention Stalin was stamping out a “Fifth Column." Some observers have attempted to explain the Purges in terms of the mysteries of the so-called “Russian soul” which is alleged to enjoy self-degradation, flagellation and death.

But the only satisfactory explanation based on economic, social and political facts is that made by Leon Trotsky before he fell under the blow of a pickaxe in the hands of one of Stalin’s hired assassins.

Trotsky Explained

Trotsky explained the purges as a stage in the degeneration of the socialist revolution in the Soviet Union. Even before the successful October 1917 uprising of the workers, all the leading Bolsheviks had predicted that unless the revolution in Russia were followed up in short order by socialist revolutions in the mere highly industrialized countries, particularly those in Europe, then the tendency to restore capitalism in the USSR would inevitably grow stronger and eventually lead to the crushing of the workers’ state.

The socialist revolution did not succeed in Europe despite all the heroic efforts of Lenin and Trotsky and their followers. The mounting pressure for the restoration of capitalism in Russia took the form of bureaucratic degeneration of the workers’ state. The government bureaucracy became stronger and stronger until finally it wiped out all democracy and set up the brutal personal dictatorship of Stalin.

Stalin’s role was that of an abysmal traitor to Lenin’s program. Stalin became the leader of the restorationist tendencies, and eventually – like a Twentieth Century Cain – began murdering his former comrades, those Bolsheviks trained in the school of Lenin and Trotsky who were capable of leading another workers’ revolution in the USSR that might overthrow the political regime of Stalinist decay.

The whole wave of purges was designed to terrorize the militant layers of the working class, break up their ever-renewed tendency to organize a political opposition, and block the deep urge of the masses to restore the democratic form of government they began building in the days of Lenin and Trotsky.

The political objective of the Moscow Trials was to stigmatize this revolutionary socialist tendency of the working class as “criminal” and thus provide a public excuse for murdering all possible leaders of a working class upsurge.

Stalin’s Formula

Stalin’s liquidation of Lenin’s former general staff of the revolution likewise coincided with the requirements of the Kremlin’s foreign policy, which in those years was aimed at convincing western imperialism of its renunciation of the Bolshevik program of world socialism. Stalin formulated this betrayal of Marxism in his notorious slogan of building socialism in “one country.” In practice this meant no countries.

The slaughter of Lenin’s former comrades-in-arms signalized to world imperialism that Stalin was a man with whom reaction could do business in its struggle to block the development of revolutionary socialism.

For these reasons the prosecutor in all the trials staged by Stalin selected as his principal victim and target Leon Trotsky, the great living symbol of the October Revolution and the Marxist program of world socialism. With dagger, poison, lies, frame-ups and the firing squad Stalin sought to stop forever the spread of Marxist ideas and the growth of the Fourth International organized by Trotsky to continue the battle for world socialism.

But despite all the bloodshed and terror, Stalin did not succeed. The program of the Fourth International today is gaining a hearing from ever greater numbers of the oppressed. Sooner or later these invincible ideas will again become the rallying center of the Soviet masses. When the final balance sheet is drawn up, Stalin will stand indicted as the worst traitor of the Soviet Union, the arch-betrayer who helped pave the way for the second World War, for Hitler’s assault on the USSR, and the unnecessary continuation for decades of the putrefying capitalist system.

(To be continued)


Last updated on: 22 December 2018