Archives of the Opposition

“Socialism in One Country”

(October 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 41, 8 October 1932, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The central theory of Stalinism, around which revolve or from which emanate all the false policies which it defends, is the idea of “socialism in one country”. At one time, in the early days of the struggle of the Russian Opposition against this nationalistic revision of Marxism, Stalin, when confronted with an overwhelming array of excerpts from the socialist classics, admitted that the question of the possibility of constructing a socialist society in one country was first raised by Lenin in 1915. The implication was that up to that time the prevailing conceptions in Marxian circles ran counter to the theory. Since the expulsion of tne Opposition from the party, Stalin and his satellites have rid themselves of the need of any apologetics for the theory, or of any qualifications, it is now advanced, not as a revelation first handed down from Mount Stalin in 1924, nor even as an innovation first introduced into Marxism by Lenin in 1915, but as an essential foundation stone of Marxism as such.

We have frequently had occasion to present our readers with countless quotations from the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin which categorically contradict this utopian – by your leave – theory. Not a few of the pre-1924 writings of Bucharin and Stalin are available which speak as a matter of course concerning the impossibility of constructing an independent, national socialist society. To add to this lengthy collection, we present here a significant passage from the pamphlet by the Russian Marxist, A. Yashchenko, Socialism and Internationalism, published in Moscow in 1907, and quoted approvingly in the History of the First International, page 11) by G.M. Stekloff, the Bolshevik historian:

“From the economic point of view, the characteristic feature a socialist organization is unity in economic relationships. In place of the extant system of production – devoid of order, plan, and method, entirely subordinated to chance, competition and the struggle of interests – socialism will create order and stability. The work of production will then be in the hands of the whole community, as a unified economy; and it will be directed by the central authority ... the nearest thing to such a collectivity can only be the state, although even the establishment of an isolated socialist State does not of itself imply the introduction of complete order and harmony into economic life. In that case competition and the economic struggle between the various States will continue, and this competition will perpetually disturb the internal harmony of their relationships, for under the present conditions of the life of mankind, it is impossible to conceive of a State as economically isolated and independent. In fact, it is impossible to imagine the existence of a national socialist State amid States organized upon the individual system.”

Fortunate is Yashchenko that he did not live and write under the Stalinist dispensation! For what he, as well as all Marxists, took for granted as impossible, has not only been made “possible” by decree of the Secretariat, but those who question the correctness of the new theory are free to meditate on their doubts in the prisons and places of exile to which the bureaucracy dispatches the Left Opposition.

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