Pavel Yudin 1948
Written: By Pavel Yudin, 1948;
Source: For a Lasting Peace, for a People's Democracy! Vol. 2, no. 19; October 1, 1948;
Transcribed: David Adams, March 2022.
Comrade Stalin’s work, the “Short Course of the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)” is an outstanding product of revolutionary Marxism, a classic of scientific Communism.
Its publication was an event of world significance. Scientific Communism was enriched with a new, classical production which became a powerful theoretical weapon of the international Communist movement.
The scientific significance of the “Short Course of the History of the CPSU (B)” and its role in the international Communist movement are defined by the nature of events brilliantly generalised by Comrade Stalin.
Russia at the end of the 19th Century had become the centre and local point of all the contradictions of imperialism. The interests of international capital coalesced in Russia, and Tsarism was the faithful ally of western imperialism.
The significance of the struggle of the Russian working class extended far beyond the national boundaries of Russia.
At the beginning of the 20th Century the revolutionary movement began to shift to Russia. Lenin, in his work, “What Is To Be Done”, written in 1902, pointed out that Russia was confronted with the most revolutionary of all revolutionary tasks confronting the proletariat of any country—the destruction of the most powerful bulwark of European and Asiatic reaction, Russian Tsarism—and the solution of this task would place the Russian proletariat in the vanguard of the International proletariat.
After the death of Marx and Engels, and by the time the Bolshevik Patty entered the arena of political struggle, the workers’ parties in the countries of Western Europe had become corroded with opportunism. Indeed, the Second International, headed by Kautsky, Vanderveld, Adler and others, had taken the path of revisionism and opportunism in the workers’ movement.
The great revolutionary theory of Marxism began to be replaced by fragments of theory, and by contradictory theoretical postulates. It was in the process of being transformed into a threadbare dogma, divorced from the revolutionary struggle of the working class.
Confronted with a new period of imperialist wars and revolutionary upheavals, the Social Democratic parties of the West and the leaders of the Second International proved incapable of rising to the situation.
The Bolshevik Party, headed by Lenin and Stalin, alone among the parties in the international workers’ movement, remained faithful to the revolutionary doctrine of Marx and Engels.
Lenin and Stalin headed the struggle against opportunism and not only in Russia, but on all international scale. To them belongs the honour of ridding Marxism of the opportunist dross of the Second International and of carrying forward the revolutionary banner of Marxism.
Under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, the working class of Russia fought (between 1905 and 1917) in three revolutions, the last of which, the Great October Socialist Revolution, ended in complete victory and in the creation in Russia of a workers’ and peasants’ state, in the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Lenin’s brilliant prediction was realised. The Russian proletariat became the vanguard of the international working class. After the victorious conclusion of the civil war, and having made good the damage caused by the imperialist war and the war at intervention, the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet State confidently led the people along the path of socialist construction.
This path was bestrewn with unheard of difficulties. It was necessary, in the conditions of capitalist encirclement, to bring about a radical transformation of the country. From being a backward agrarian country, it was necessary to transform it into a mighty socialist, industrial and collective-farm power.
This task, too, was completed by the Bolshevik Party with the great success. Socialist society, the first phase of Communism, was built in the USSR. The history of socialist construction in the USSR constitutes a glorious epoch. The working class and peasantry set the world a magnificent and inspired example. For the first time in history, the path to Socialism was hewn and Socialism was established. In the “Short History of the CPSU (B)”, Comrade Stalin, with superb skill, has generalised the entire historical experience of the struggle waged by the Communist Party and the working class of the USSR. Comrade Stalin, on the basis of the teaching of Marx, and showing how Lenin, proceeding from these teachings and adapting his method to the revolutionary struggle in the new historical setting, has given us an all-round development of the theory of revolutionary Marxism.
Indeed, Lenin added so much that was new to Marxism that without his great contribution, an understanding of the entire revolutionary essence of Marxism would be impossible. Marxism became Marxism-Leninism.
In his study of the history of the CPSU (B), the history of the revolutionary struggle of the working class of the USSR, Comrade Stalin regards this history not in isolation from the international revolutionary movement of the working class, but in close contact with this movement.
Consequently, the “Short History of the CPSU (B)” generalises not only the experience of the CPSU (B) but the history of the struggle of the working class in all lands during the past 50 years.
In the “Short History”, Marxism was subjected to an all- round historical test.
Since the working class of the USSR is the most advanced, the most revolutionary class, and the Bolshevik Party the most consistent Marxist Party, it is but natural that all that is basic and essential in revolutionary experience and revolutionary theory should be concentrated in the experience of the CPSU (B), in the Lenin-Stalin theory.
All this gives to Comrade Stalin’s work a genuinely classical nature. It has entered into the arsenal of intentional Communism as a powerful weapon in the struggle for the liberation of the working class from the yoke of capitalism.
Comrade Stalin likewise, is adding to Marxism-Leninism by enriching it with his scientific analysis of the new and great experience—the history of socialist construction in the USSR, of the existence and development of socialist society and also by the conclusions drawn from the history of scientific development in our epoch.
The “Short History of the CPSU (B)” is, for our day, the most exact and fullest presentation of Marxism-Leninism, which is presented a complete doctrine, combining history, political economy, philosophy, strategy and tactics and the ideological, political, organisational and theoretical foundations of the Marxist Party, the Party of a new type.
It is in the literal sense, an encyclopaedia of basic knowledge in the sphere of Marxism-Leninism. Another feature of this work is that the Marxist-Leninist idea is presented not in isolation from the concrete historical facts, but in close contact with them. Consequently, theory appears in this work of Stalin’s as a revolutionary weapon in the struggle for the liberation of the proletariat and for the construction of Socialism. Even the historical facts themselves acquire a revolutionary singleness of purpose.
In this work there is realised in a classical way Lenin’s great idea of linking scientific Socialism with the revolutionary struggle of the working class.
The “Short History of the CPSU (B)” is a reference book for proletarian revolutionaries in all lands.
A study of the “History” is a powerful means of training fighters for the emancipation of the working class, for liberty, national independence, democracy and Socialism.
Comrade Stalin shows with remarkable force how Lenin elaborated the scientific principles of a Marxist patty capable of leading the working class to revolution in the new historical conditions, the epoch of imperialism.
Above all, such a party must be well-equipped ideologically and must be guided by the most advanced revolutionary theory.
“Without a revolutionary theory”, said Lenin, “there can be no revolutionary movement. The role of vanguard can be fulfilled only by a party guided by the most advanced theory”. (Lenin, Selected Works, Eng. ed. Vol. II, p. 41). This was the conclusion drawn by Lenin on the basis of the entire preceding experience not only of the Russian but also of the international working-class movement.
In this connection, Lenin reached the brilliant conclusion that socialist ideology should be linked with the working class movement. Comrade Stalin writes that Lenin:—1) for the first time in the history of Marxist thought, laid bare the ideological roots of opportunism, showing that they primarily consisted in worshipping the spontaneous working class movement and belittling the role of socialist consciousness in the working- class movement; 2) brought out the great importance of theory, of consciousness, and of the Party as a revolutionising and guiding force of fill spontaneous working-class movement; 3) brilliantly established the fundamental Marxist thesis that a Marxist party is a union of the working class movement with Socialism”, (Short Course, p. 38).
Lenin and Stalin fundamentally elaborated the ideological principles of the Marxist party of a new type. The sections of Comrade Stalin book expounding the ideological principles of the Bolshevik Party are a great historical lesson for all Marxist parties, teaching them how to understand and appreciate the role of revolutionary ideology in the struggle of the working class, how to educate the Party in the spirit of irreconcilable struggle against any trends ideologically hostile to the proletariat.
In his work, “What Is To Be Done?”, Lenin wrote: “The only choice is either bourgeois or socialist ideology. There is no middle course... Hence to belittle socialist ideology in any way, to turn away from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology”. (Lenin, Selected Works, Eng, ed., Vol. II. p. 62).
These theses of Lenin and Stalin are fully applicable to the activity of any party of the working class today. Contemporary opportunism and apostasy are based on the fact that they ignore socialist ideology, worship spontaneity and thus succumb to the influence of bourgeois ideology.
The British Labour leaders, the French and Italian Right Socialists are typical representatives of those “Socialists” who are completely enmeshed in snare of bourgeois ideology; they have become the open champions of imperialism.
The leadership of the Yugoslav Communist Party has taken the path of ignoring socialist ideology. How else can one explain the shameful fact that for a number of years “Borba”, central organ of the Yugoslav Party, carried no propaganda of Marxism-Leninism? When the fraternal parties pointed out the impermissibility of this, the Yugoslav leaders tried to prove that they are themselves “developing” Marxism. In reality, however, whenever they attempt to explain something independently, it becomes apparent that they have nothing in common with Marxism. The groundless claim of the Yugoslav Party leaders that they “themselves” are “developing” Marxism, appears to be nothing more than the activities of charlatan theoretical jugglers.
Tito, for instance, asserts that the peasantry is the most stable basis of the peoples democratic order and Mose Pijade tries to claim that the working class of Yugoslavia did not play a leading role in the national liberation movement or in establishing the power of the people’s democracy.
Of exceptional significance are the organisational principle of the Marxist party of a new type, elaborated by Lenin and Stalin. Lenin’s outstanding merit lies in the fact that he, for the first time in the history of Marxism, worked out the doctrine of the Party as the leading organisation of the proletariat proving that the Party is its principal weapon in the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism, of the creation of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the building of Socialism.
“In its struggle for power,” wrote Lenin, “the proletariat has no other weapon but organisation... the proletariat can become, and inevitably will become, an invincible force only when its ideological unification by the principles of Marxism is consolidated by the material unity of an organisation which will weld millions of toilers into an army of the working class. Neither the decrepit rule of tsardom, nor the senile rule of the international capital will be able to withstand this army.” (Lenin. Selected Works, Eng. ed, Vol II, p . 466)
In the “Short Course of the History of the CPSU (B)”, Comrade Stalin gives a classic definition of what the Marxist party of a new type should be. He teaches us that the Marxist party is part of the working class, its vanguard detachment, its class conscious detachment, its Marxist detachment, armed with knowledge of the laws of the development of society, of the laws of the class struggle, and for this reason is able to lead the working class and to direct its struggle. The Marxist party is the organised detachment of the working class, with its own discipline which is binding on its members. The Party, continues Comrade Stalin, is not merely an organised detachment, but is the highest of all forms of organisation of the working class, and it is its task to guide all the other organisations of the working class. Therefore, the Party must consist of the finest members of the class, equipped with an advanced theory, with knowledge of the laws of social development and the class struggle. The Party is an embodiment of the connection of the vanguard of the working class with the working class millions.
The Party must continually increase its contacts with the masses and will the confidence of the millions of its class. In order to function properly and to guide the masses systematically, firmly keeping a uniform discipline binding on all, the Party must be organised on the principles of democratic centralism.
All these and other theses by Comrade Stalin are the fundamental foundations of the activity of all Marxist revolutionary parties. Today, when the Communist parties in the capitalist countries are waging a heroic struggle for freedom and national independence against American imperialist expansion, it is more important than ever before to regard as sacred the organisational principles of Marxism- Leninism, for only on the basis of these principles can Communists head the working class and lead the working people.
In the new democracies, the working class, under the leadership of the Communist Parties, has achieved big successes. The people’s government in these countries have successfully solved the problems of nationalisation, industrial management and development of production. Marked achievements can be registered in agricultural rehabilitation. Great and truly revolutionary gains have been achieved in the political life of these countries, gains leading to the flowering of the people’s democracy. All this has won great prestige for the Communist Parties and their recognition by broad sections of the people.
An expression of this recognition is the fact that masses of workers and peasants arc joining the Communist Parties. Besides this, working-class unity in the struggle for Socialism and democracy has brought about fusion of the Communist and Left Socialist parties. This has also resulted in a considerable numerical growth of the parties.
All this raises forcefully the task of strengthening in every way the Communist and Workers’ Parties ideologically and organisationally.
The CPSU (B) was able to achieve its world historic successes because it never allowed itself to be reduced to something organisationally amorphous and decrepit, because it constantly waged a struggle against all who tried to smash its organisational foundations.
As distinct from the Bolshevik ideological and organisational principles, all opportunist parties lack any ideological principle and are organisationally loose. The proletariat is averse to organisational anarchy. Organisational nihilism has always been linked with lack of ideology, with disregard and underestimation of the importance of the ideology and socialist maturity of the revolutionary working class movement.
Ideology, principle and organisation in its highest form are inherent in the working class as the most politically mature class in modern society.
That is why the Marxist-Leninist parties cannot reconcile themselves with organisational anarchy, for the latter is inevitably connected with political opportunism and ideological subordination to the bourgeoisie.
The “Short History of the CPSU(B)” is an inexhaustible source of Leninist-Stalinist wisdom on questions of the strategy and tactics of the class struggle of the proletariat.
Lenin and Stalin contributed a new theoretical thesis to the doctrine of Marxism regarding the bourgeois revolution, the relation between the bourgeois and socialist revolutions and the driving forces of the revolution.
They proved, above all, that in the new conditions, the bourgeoisie ceased to be a revolutionary class. Even in the bourgeois democratic movements, in the national liberation struggle, the bourgeoisie is no longer a driving, guiding force. It has completely gone over to the camp of reaction, supporting the feudal elements and all reactionary forces against the working class and the peasantry.
This was borne out by the experience of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917; it was borne out by the experience of Germany, Italy and Japan, where the bourgeoisie constituted the main basis for fascism; it was borne out by World War two, when the bourgeoisie of Europe formed the camp of traitors and collaborators. It is being borne out in the post-war period when the European bourgeoisie has categorically renounced even the idea of national independence and sovereignty.
As early as 1905-07, Lenin and Stalin advanced the new theoretical thesis that from then on, only the working class could be the leading force in all democratic movements. This was the Lenin-Stalin theory of the hegemony of the proletariat. In this connection, Lenin and Stalin elaborated the highly important thesis that semi-proletarian elements of town and countryside constitute an important reserve of the revolution, without which neither the bourgeois-democratic or socialist revolution can be effected. The peasantry constitute the main element of this reserve.
In the “Short History of the CPSU (B)” Stalin Writes that Lenin introduced a new factor in the theory of the socialist revolution, “an indispensable factor of the socialist revolution, namely, an alliance with the proletariat and semi-proletarian elements of town and country as a condition for the victory of the proletarian revolution”. (“Short Course of the History of the CPSU (B)” p. 711.)
The working class, as the leader of the revolution, draws broad masses of the people into the revolutionary movement, giving it a popular character. In the bourgeois-democratic revolution the working class must pursue a line that prolongs the state of revolution as far as possible, destroys the remnants of counter-revolution and develops the bourgeois-democratic revolution into the socialist revolution.
This was a new theory of the socialist revolution, a theory which finally smashed international opportunism and refuted the theory current among the West European Social Democrats who denied revolutionary potentialities of the semi-proletarian masses of town and country and held that in the socialist revolution the proletariat stands alone, without allies, against the whole bourgeoisie, against all non-proletarian classes and strata. This new theory of the socialist revolution refuted the dogmatism of the West European and Russian opportunists according to whom a gulf of 50 to 100 years or even more separates the bourgeois from the socialist revolution.
Lenin, studying the laws of capitalism, arrived at the conclusion that at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, capitalism had entered a new phase of development—the phase of imperialism. Lenin showed that the principal law of imperialism was its unequal economic and political development. From this law of imperialism Lenin drew the brilliant conclusion that the simultaneous victory of Socialism in all countries was now impossible, that on the contrary, in the epoch of imperialism, the socialist revolution could be victorious first either in several or in one country.
The “Short History of the CPSU (B)”, shows how the new theory of the socialist revolution was borne out by the experience of the Great Socialist Revolution in the USSR, how the Bolshevik Party was able to lead the people in decisive attack and “merge into one common revolutionary torrent such diverse revolutionary movements as the general democratic movement for peace, the peasant democratic movement for the seizure of the landed estates, the movement of the oppressed nationalities for national liberation and national equality, and the socialist movement of the proletariat for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat”. (“Short Course of the History of the CPSU (B)”, p. 213).
Comrade Stalin brilliantly generalised the experience of socialist construction in the USSR. This section of the “Short History of the CPSU (B)” is an example of how Marxist- Leninists should approach the theoretical assimilation of the new historical creative power of the people, how they should generalise theoretically and draw conclusions from history and practice, in order lo go forward to new victories.
The great Lenin left brilliant directives regarding the paths of the transition to Socialism. To Comrade Stalin fell the task of turning these directives into a harmonious programme of the industrialisation of the country and the reorganisation of the countryside on socialist foundations.
The transformation of many million, backward and scattered house-holds into large-scale socialist economy is a new creative achievement, unprecedented in history.
The experience of the USSR in this respect is remarkable, for the peasant question in the socialist revolution is the most complex problem.
Over a period of years, the CPSU (B) steadily created conditions under which the peasant question could be solved in the spirit of Socialism. First of all, new socialist productive forces were developed in industry; a material base was laid, an agricultural machinery industry built for the reorganisation of agriculture on socialist foundations.
Time and again, Comrade Stalin said that collectivisation could only be successful when the peasantry voluntarily joined the collective farms. Over a number of years, the Party conducted political work among the peasantry, convincing them of the superiority of collective farming, demonstrating this by means of State and the then existing collective farms.
A veritable revolution of far-reaching significance took place in the minds of the peasantry; there was a turning point in favour of collective farms. Thus, in every way, the transition to the collective farm system was prepared.
The mass transition to collective farming showed in itself that the new productive forces in the USSR were insistently demanding corresponding new, socialist productive relations throughout the whole national economy.
Comrade Stalin writes in the “Short History of the CPSU (B)”: “This was a profound revolution, a leap from an old qualitative state of society to a new qualitative state, equivalent in its consequences to the revolution of October 1917, (“Short Course of the CPSU (B)” p. 305).
The last exploiting class—the kulaks—was eliminated on the basis of solid collectivisation. “This”, wrote Comrade Stalin “destroyed the last mainsprings of the foundation of capitalism within the country and at the same time created new and decisive conditions for the building of a socialist economic system”. (ibid.).
The world historic task of building Socialism in the USSR, of recognising peasant economy into large-scale socialist economy, was brought under the leadership of the working class led by the CPSU (B).
The experience of building a Socialist order in Soviet agriculture is an example to all countries who have taken the path of Socialism.
The leaders of certain political parties—for instance, Comrade Gomulka of the Polish Workers’ Party—commit a big political mistake by ignoring the experience of the USSR. Through their lack of confidence in the ability of the working class to lead the peasantry to Socialism, they take in fact the opportunist and anti-Marxist position, alleging that the working class is not the main force in building Socialism.
Every country has its peculiar and specific features of a political, economic, cultural and national nature. These peculiarities give a certain specific character to the forms and methods of transition to Socialism, but the brilliant path to Socialism blazed by the Soviet Union is an historical example which will be followed, and its experience is now being studied in other countries in order to avoid mistakes and to advance confidently to Socialism.
Great work lies ahead of the Communist Parties in popularising the collective farm system of the USSR among the peasantry of their own countries. On the basis of sound economic experience and political consciousness, the peasantry of other countries will duly appreciate the great successes of the Soviet peasantry, and, when all the necessary conditions for this are ripe in their respective countries, will follow the example of the Soviet peasantry.
The Soviet peasantry, under the leadership of the working class, have raised high the banner of Socialism in agriculture, the banner of collectivisation. They hold it aloft with honour in the battle for new, hitherto unprecedented successes in raising the economic and cultural well-being of the people.
The “Short History of the CPSU (B) shows clearly how the Communist Party of the USSR, to secure the victory of Socialism, waged an irreconcilable struggle against all enemies of Bolshevism: the bourgeois parties, opportunists and revisionists in the camp of the Right Social Democrats and Social Revolutionaries. It waged an irreconcilable struggle against the traitors to Communism: the Trotskyites, Bukharinites, Zinovievites, nationalist deviators and others. True Bolshevik cadres were tempered in this struggle. The fraternal Parties of all countries are learning from the examples of the struggle waged by the CPSU (B) against the enemies of Marxism-Leninism now to conduct the revolutionary line, undeterred by anything in the struggle for the victory of Socialism.
The “Short History of the CPSU (B)” is permeated with unity of outlook, singleness of purpose and inner iron logic. It expounds Marxism-Leninism as a unified and integral world outlook. The whole book, permeated with Marxist-Leninist dialectics, gives examples of the dialectical approach to questions of history, economy, policy, strategy an tactics.
However, in view of the fact that the Marxist-Leninist philosophy is the theoretical foundation of scientific Communism, throughout its history the Party has been waging a struggle for the purity of Marxist philosophy and is enriching it. The “Short History of the CPSU (B)” contains a special section devoted to the theoretical foundations of the Party, to dialectical and historical materialism. In the section “Dialectical and Historical Materialism”, Comrade Stalin summarises the results of the development of Marxist philosophy since Lenin’s brilliant work “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, and shows that the philosophy of Marxism has withstood all tests and remains the most scientific most advanced world outlook.
Following the classical examples of Marx and Lenin, Comrade Stalin generalises the data of social development and the progress of science as a whole, and on this basis gives a contemporary formulation to Marxist-Leninist philosophy, raising it to the level of contemporary science, culture and social development.
Comrade Stalin with particular force emphasises the feature or dialectics which speaks of the struggle of opposite tendencies as the internal content of any process of development. He stresses the peculiarity in the dialectical method that the struggle of contradictions is a struggle between that which is living out its last days, is dying away, and that which is being born, is new and is entrenching itself in life through irreconcilable struggle against the old.
These aspects of dialectics best express the nature of contemporary social relations and the nature of contemporary scientific development. Hence, Stalin writes: “If the world is in a state of constant movement and development, if the dying away of the old and the upgrowth of the new is a law of development, then it is clear that there can be no ‘immutable’ social systems, no ‘eternal principles’ of private property and exploitation, no ‘eternal ideas’ of the subjugation of the peasant to the landlord, of the worker to the capitalist”. (ibid p. (10).
These postulates of Comrade Stalin are fundamental pointers showing how to approach scientifically the phenomena of social life and questions of the class struggle. In order not to err in policy, “one must pursue an uncompromising proletarian class policy, not a reformist policy of harmony of the interests of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, not a compromising policy of the growing of capitalism into Socialism” (ibid p. 111).
Only those parties that are guided in their policy by dialectics, and not metaphysics, will be able to cope with their historic tasks. Any departure from dialectics inevitably leads into the swamp of metaphysics, into the slough of opportunism.
Comrade Stalin has, in particular, contributed much that is new to historical materialism. This part of his work is, in truth, an inexhaustible source of profound postulates pointing the way to an understanding of the most complex social phenomena and showing how to discover the new laws of social life. Comrade Stalin developed the Marxist-Leninist teaching concerning the economic bases and social super- structures, concerning classes and the class struggle; developed this theory to the point of the paths of the construction of Socialism and the abolition of classes, the question of national minorities, the role of advanced ideas in social development, with special stress on the point that the role of these ideas increases with the victory of Socialism.
An invaluable contribution to the theory of historical materialism was the development by Comrade Stalin of the doctrine concerning the building of Socialism and Communism in the USSR, concerning the Soviet Socialist State and its role in the construction of Socialism and Communism.
The chapter on “Dialectical and Historical Materialism” equips Communists everywhere with the most advanced and most revolutionary world outlook for the struggle against all enemies of the working class, against all enemies of Communism.
The final chapter of the “Short Course of the “History of the CPSU (B)” contains a remarkable exposure of the way Britain, France and the USA, despite the unmistakable threat to peace on the part of the Fascist aggressors, gave the impression that they failed to see any danger of war, and what is more, helped the aggressors to unleash the war, calculating that Hitler would throw all his forces against the USSR, and that they— the US., Britain and France—would step in when th two adversaries had exhausted each other, and by this means, seize Europe and the USSR.
Now, after World War Two, because they failed to realise their hopes, the British and American imperialists have, with renewed energies, taken the path of preparing and unleashing another world war, and just as the fascists did are preparing in the first instance against the USSR.
Comrade Stalin’s brilliant work, the “Short Course of the History of the CPSU (B)” equips the Communists in all lands with a great revolutionary weapon—the theory of Marxism- Leninism.