What Do the Communists Say About
Mr. Duranty and Comrade Stalin?

(November 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 49, 26 November 1932, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

There is no capitalist newspaper correspondent in the world today more authoritative and accurate in reporting the standpoint of the central Stalinist leadership than Mr. Walter Duranty, the highest paid foreign correspondent in the world, stationed in Moscow for years. What he writes about Russia in the conventional language of the bourgeois press is a faithful copy of what is generally left half-said or unsaid by the decisive Stalin staff.

We have pointed this out on many occasions in these columns and it has become a commonplace in the radical movement. The only ones who still deny it formally (and always with that hollow ferocity which convenience rather than conviction dictates), are the editors of the Daily Worker. The division of labor still operative in the Stalinist machine does not permit them to acknowledge what is apparent to a child, for to do so would explode too many fictions disseminated by the Centrist school of falsification. The untrustworthiness of the denial, however, is confirmed by the failure of the local Stalinists to meet our challenge, i.e., to deny that Duranty’s dispatches to the New York Times are used as the basis for countless “rewrites” in the Daily Worker office, which finally make their bow as “special correspondence from Moscow.” It is quite well known in informed party circles (we know it from personal observation for weeks on end) that the Duranty dispatch of the morning usually re-appear in more “orthodox” language in the following day’s issue of the central party organ. If for no other reason, then, the most recent of Duranty’s sensational dispatches are of more than ordinary interest to the Communist workers. If you want to know what is really happening in the cabinets of the Kremlin, what is really going on in the minds of Stalin & Co. (not what they say on holiday occasions), pay close attention to the informed reports of Mr. Duranty, which are read with equal avidity by the State Department officials and the members of the Central Committee of our Communist party.

In the Times of December 20, 1932, Duranty, referring to two editorials in Pravda, official organ of the Russian party, which “throw new and interesting light on the Soviet attitude toward foreign labor unrest”, remarks:

”The earlier editorial for the first time enunciated clearly what has become known as the Stalinist (Attention, Messrs. Lovestone and Co.! – S.) doctrine – that a successful Socialist State can be established in the USSR irrespective of what happens abroad ... The editorial did not specifically disavow so-called Bolshevik propaganda – that would be too much expect (As yet? – S.) – but made it clear that the establishment of a Socialist State in the USSR had replaced propaganda as a means and a purpose of the Kremlin policy ...”

As to the second editorial, Duranty writes,

“the Kremlin fears the danger of war is now so great in Europe, especially Germany, that even the gains – from the Bolshevist point of view – of a social revolution disappear in comparison with the danger of war or become actually undesirable because any grave social disturbance at the present juncture might provoke war. No other interpretation of the two Pravda editorials is possible save this strange paradox – that the Bolshevik Kremlin today regards the growth of the revolutionary movement in Europe with real anxiety.”

Two days later, Mr. Duranty continues with his instructive revelations, still in the same key:

“If peace can be maintained the Soviet government is confident the difficulties will be overcome and that a year or two will bring comparatively smooth sailing (Duranty’s translation of Stalin-Molotov-Radek’s “classless socialist society”. – S.), but a disturbance now would be little short of disastrous. More than any country in the world the Soviet Union today finds peace desirable and almost necessary.

“For this reason a grave revolutionary outbreak in Germany or elsewhere looms before the Soviet Government as a positive menace, because things being what they are, the Soviet Union would be almost inevitably involved. Even if Russia managed to hold aloof, a grave disturbance in Europe, especially a revolutionary disturbance, would work havoc with the Five-Year Plan, when is the keynote and kernel of Soviet policy.”

Even passing acquaintance with Stalinist primers of “socialism in one country” will enable anybody to recognize in the above quotations simply a Durantesque popularization for American consumption of the theory of “socialism in one country”. At the expense of Mr. Duranty’s generously preferred wireless dispatch charge account, “somebody” in Moscow is giving a tip to the “important” readers of the New York Times: This is not Lenin’s time; Stalin has come into power. World revolution may have been in the air during the days when Lenin and Trotsky were sowing the wild oats of the young Russian revolution. Today we are interested in one country alone and we don’t take the Comintern too seriously (didn’t Stalin tell Lominadze that the C.I. would collapse if it were not for the subsidy?). Therefore, orient yourselves accordingly. This is the tip and it is to obvious to require comment, at least on our part. But the New York Times does not make a comment (and it also takes the tip) which repays quoting:

“In Moscow”, says its editorial of November 23, “writes Mr. Duranty, there is one menace which is feared above all others, and it is the outbreak of a revolution in Germany or elsewhere in Europe. This is a far cry from the time when Lenin staged the Bolshevist revolution in Russia, not because he was interested in Russia but because he wished to set Western Europe on fire. Today Stalin does not want to set anything on fire. He wants to be let alone to build socialism in Russia. He is afraid of revolution abroad, even if it comes without Soviet aid. A German revolution is sure to be followed by a Fascist counter-revolution, and in the swing-back Russia is likely to be swept along with the rest.”

With minor amendments, the comment of the Times editors is fairly keen and warranted. Only one other “comment” is missing: What have the Communist militants to say about the “entente cordiale” in the realm of revolutionary philosophy so affectingly concluded between the former Riga liar and purveyor of the “nationalization of women in Russia” slander, on the one hand, and the “best discipline of Lenin”, Joseph Stalin, on the other? It is worth reflecting upon!

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