Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

E.F. Hill

Imperialism in Australia

The Menace of Soviet Social-Imperialism


From the sublime defence and championing of the Soviet Union, the period and treachery that followed after Stalin’s death were indeed tragic. For those who had been in the forefront of struggle it took time to realise there had been complete reversal of the building of socialism. There had been the restoration of capitalism. To those who had spoken and written about and in many other ways supported the Soviet Union, it was exceedingly difficult now to realise and say the Soviet Union had changed.

After the death of Stalin, Khrushchov became the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It is not intended to say very much about the period 1953-1956 in the Soviet Union, because what happened is not well established by documents of the Soviet Communist Party and it is better to rely upon Soviet documents than upon mere assertion. It is possible however to say that in those years there was already evidence that the greatness of Stalin was being cut away; for what purpose was then not clear. In 1956 what was happening became somewhat clearer. It is essential to dwell upon the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The main report by Khrushchov to this Congress is readily available, and the secret report of Khrushchov published in the western press (also readily available) can be taken to be a correct version of that report. (This author can confirm this correctness because some weeks after the 20th Congress of the CPSU an English translation of the secret report was read to him by representatives of the Central Committee of the CPSU in the Soviet Union: his notes of this translation accord with the published versions of the report in the west; moreover the accuracy of the report was never denied by Khrushchov and there is very good ground; for believing that Khrushchov deliberately leaked it. It is also noteworthy that it has never been made public within the Soviet Union.) It is sufficient however to be concerned with Khrushchov’s main report. Earlier it was said that the Soviet Union is now an imperialist country. Because of the socialist claims of its leaders, it is correctly spoken of as a social-imperialist country. This is indeed a painful realisation and a painful statement to make for those who participated in the revolutionary movement in the times spoken of in Chapter I and for those with that background. But facts are facts and must be reckoned with. Although the realisation of this particular fact was a very difficult emotional experience for many, materialists cannot be governed by emotions. They must soberly analyse the facts.

The report of Khrushchov to the 20th Congress is of the greatest significance in proof of the assertion that the Soviet Union is a social-imperialist country. When Khrushchov is spoken of, this includes Khrushchov’s successors, for they wholly agreed with Khrushchov at the time of the 20th Congress in 1956 and they have carried Khrushchov’s policy into effect both with Khrushchov and without Khrushchov. Moreover the 22nd Congress of the CPSU in 1961 showed that Khrushchov further systematised what he put forward in 1956. The challenge in 1957 to Khrushchov by Molotov, Kaganovich and Malenkov was defeated by Khrushchov. It can thus be said with confidence (and later further substantiation will be offered) that the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956 set the Soviet Union on an imperialist path. That path has been consistently followed till the present day, when almost everyone (the exceptions have a sinister import and will be dealt with) acknowledges that the Soviet social-imperialists and the U.S. imperialists are superpowers who are contending and struggling with each other for world domination.

In what detailed features then is Khrushchov’s report to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956 so important?

Khrushchov made three very significant propositions at the 20th Congress of the CPSU which were a complete departure from Marxism-Leninism. They were the very opposite of Marxism-Leninism. It is not sufficient really to say they were a departure from Marxism-Leninism; it must be said that they were positively anti-Marxist-Leninist. They were the foundations of a programme for Soviet social-imperialism.

These three propositions concerned (1) the form of the transition from capitalism to socialism, (2) the nature of peaceful co-existence between countries with differing social systems and, (3) the nature of social democratic parties and the relationships between Social Democratic Parties and Communist Parties. It will be necessary to deal with these in greater detail in a moment and to get out Khrushchov’s actual words.

After Khrushchov made his report to the 20th Congress, there was widespread debate amongst Marxist-Leninists as to whether or not his propositions were correct. It was widely held that from a Marxist-Leninist viewpoint, they were theoretically incorrect. Subsequent statements by Soviet leaders and subsequent actions of Soviet leaders have shown that not only were they theoretically incorrect, but they were at the time an actual programme for the rebuilding of capitalism in the Soviet Union, and an actual “theoretical” programme for Soviet social-imperialism. It has taken time and the actual development of events to reveal the really deeply sinister character of the 20th Congress report. But now and for some years it is and has been possible to see this far more starkly. Khrushchov was able to escape from worldwide Marxist-Leninist criticism because in 1956 it was not nearly so clear exactly what he was at as it became later. At that time his speech might be explained as theoretical ignorance. It certainly was that, but it was much more besides. Khrushchov knew quite well that he was advancing a programme for an imperialist expansion of the Soviet Union, and those for whom he spoke knew quite well that the Soviet Union was to be launched on an imperialist path. Even if they did not know, this was the objective effect, and it is from objective effects that intentions are to be deduced. This was no theoretical error but the actual planning for Soviet social-imperialism.

The present leaders have time and time again affirmed the correctness of what they call the “theses” of the 20th (1956) and 22nd (1961) Congresses of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It cannot therefore be said that the 20th and 22nd Congresses were some aberration of Khrushchov which was corrected when Khrushchov was removed in 1964. Not only have the “theses” been approved but the actions of Khrushchov’s successors follow lines exactly similar to those of Khrushchov, that is, they are imperialist actions. The only difference is that the present-day leaders are more cunning than Khrushchov. They made use of Khrushchov’s brashness and brutal methods within the Soviet Communist Party to crush all opposition to the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and launching the Soviet Union on an imperialist path. They just as ruthlessly crush it today but their methods are slightly different. When Khrushchov had, as he and they believed, crushed the opposition, he threatened to go too far in establishing a one man imperialist dictatorship. His colleagues then got rid of him in order to carry on a “collective” imperialist dictatorship.

The 20th Congress report, affirmed by Brezhnev, Kosygin and Podgorny to this day as their own, said on the critical Marxist-Leninist question of the transition from capitalism to socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

. . . the present situation offers the working class in a number of capitalist countries a real opportunity to unite the overwhelming majority of the people under its leadership and to secure the transfer of the basic means of production into the hands of the people. The rightwing bourgeois parties and their governments are suffering bankruptcy with increasing frequency. In these circumstances the working class, by rallying around itself the toiling peasantry, the intelligentsia, all patriotic forces, and resolutely repulsing the opportunist elements who are incapable of giving up the policy of compromise with the capitalists and landlords, is in a position to defeat the reactionary forces opposed to the popular interest, to capture a stable majority in parliament and transform the latter from an organ of bourgeois democracy into a genuine instrument of the people’s will. In such an event this institution, traditional in many highly developed capitalist countries, may become an organ of genuine democracy, democracy for the working people.

The winning of a stable parliamentary majority backed by a mass revolutionary movement of the proletariat and of all the working people could create for the working class of a number of capitalist and former colonial countries the conditions needed to secure fundamental social changes. (Khrushchov: Report of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to the 20th Party Congress, authorised English translation pp. 45-46.)

This statement is anti-Marxist-Leninist through and through. Its aim was to secure governments of capitalism within capitalism’s parliamentary institution and governments subservient to Khrushchov’s Soviet Union. From beginning to end his statement is anti-socialist because socialism would have meant the independence of other countries of the Soviet Union, and that was the last thing the Soviet social-imperialists wanted. The Soviet social-imperialists wanted the people of the capitalist countries to accept Khrushchov’s advice so that they could have countries friendly and subordinate to Soviet social-imperialism.

This statement is in complete conflict with all principles of Marxism-Leninism. Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin all dealt with this critically important and crucial question of Marxism-Leninism – the conquest of power by the working class and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In summary it can be said that Marxism-Leninism holds that only in the most exceptional circumstances (and “exceptional” in this connection cannot be over emphasised) could there be peaceful transition to socialism. Put positively, Marxist-Leninists have always held that the seizure of political power by the working class and the building of Socialism will always be resisted by force by the dispossessed class, the bourgeoisie and its allies. Therefore the working class must be prepared precisely on this point. They must be prepared to use and actually use force. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tsetung, the classic writers of Marxism-Leninism, have affirmed this many times. The October Revolution itself in Russia was living proof of it. Lenin has already been quoted on this matter but let us quote him again:

An oppressed class which does not strive to learn to use arms, to acquire arms, only deserves to be treated like slaves. We cannot forget, unless we become bourgeois pacifists or opportunists, that we are living in a class society; that there is no way out of this society, and there can be none, except by means of the class struggle. In every class society, whether it is based on slavery, serfdom, or, as at present, on wage labour, the oppressing class is armed. Not only the modern standing army, but even the modern militia – even in the most democratic bourgeois republics, Switzerland, for example – represent the bourgeoisie armed AGAINST the proletariat. This is such an elementary truth that it is hardly necessary to dwell upon it. It is sufficient to recall the use of troops against strikers in all capitalist countries.

The fact that the bourgeoisie is armed against the proletariat is one of the biggest, most fundamental, and most important facts in modern capitalist society. And in face of this fact, revolutionary Social-Democrats are urged to “demand” “disarmament”! This is tantamount to the complete abandonment of the point of view of the class struggle, the renunciation of all thought of revolution. Our slogan must be: the arming of the proletariat for the purpose of vanquishing, expropriating and disarming the bourgeoisie. These are the only tactics a revolutionary class can adopt, tactics which follow logically from the whole OBJECTIVE DEVELOPMENT of capitalist militarism, and dictated by that development. Only AFTER the proletariat has disarmed the bourgeoisie will it be able, without betraying its world-historical mission, to throw all armaments on the scrap heap; and the proletariat will undoubtedly do this, but ONLY WHEN THIS CONDITION HAS BEEN FULFILLED, CERTAINLY NOT BEFORE. (The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution September, 1916.) and again:

Only scoundrels or simpletons can think that the proletariat must win the majority in elections carried out UNDER THE YOKE OF THE BOURGEOISIE, UNDER THE YOKE OF WAGE SLAVERY, and that only after this must it win power. This is the height of folly or hypocrisy; it is substituting voting, under the old system and with the old power, for class struggle and revolution.

The proletariat wages its class struggle and does not wait for voting to begin a strike, although for the complete success of a strike it is necessary to have the sympathy of the majority of the working people (and, it follows, of the majority of the population); the proletariat wages its class struggle and overthrows the bourgeoisie without waiting for any preliminary (supervised by the bourgeoisie and carried out under its oppression) voting; and the proletariat is perfectly well aware that for the success of its revolution, for the successful overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the sympathy of the majority of the working people (and, it follows, of the majority of the population) is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. (Greetings to Italian, French and German Communists October 10, 1919.)

Moreover Khrushchov’s reference to parliament is telling the workers to put their faith in that “institution”. Parliament in fact is one of the weapons of the bourgeoisie in maintaining its dictatorship, the dictatorship of a tiny minority over the immense majority. Lenin said:

To decide once every few years which member of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through parliament – such is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic republics. (State and Revolution.)

Khrushchov’s proposition meant there never could be socialist revolution. His statement was deliberately and consciously aimed at preventing socialist revolution; if it were not deliberate and conscious, then its objective effect must be to prevent socialist revolution.

In addition, its emphasis was on paralysing the struggle of the working class for state power and socialism in Europe because it is precisely in Europe that capitalism has evolved and refined the parliamentary institution. And Europe is the focal point of contention between imperialist powers. Thus as early as 1956, Khrushchov, as the representative of Soviet social-imperialism, set out to prevent socialism in Europe so that Soviet social-imperialism could take over Europe through capitalist governments friendly and subservient to it.

More specifically Khrushchov’s proposition aimed at setting the then Communist Parties in Europe on a path that inevitably meant that these Communist Parties, if they followed Khrushchov’s advice, upheld capitalism. They did in fact follow his advice. Assuming that they were elected to government, they were no more and no less than tools of the Soviet imperialists. Khrushchov did not confine himself to this. He saw that there might well be difficulty in those Communist Parties alone being elected the government of countries in Europe. He knew of the already strong electoral support for the European social democratic parties (strictly parliamentary parties which are in many respects like the Australian Labor Party which, while they use “Labor” names, are really parties of the bourgeoisie). Hence he urged the unity of the Communist Parties with the labor or social democratic parties. Khrushchov said: “. . . many other sections of society are also opposing war. The effectiveness of their activity would, naturally, be greater, if the various forces upholding peace were to overcome a certain disunity. Unity of the working class, of its trade unions, the unity of action of its political parties, the Communists, socialists and other workers’ parties, is acquiring exceptionally great importance.

Not a few of the misfortunes harassing the world today are due to the fact that in many countries the working class has been split for many years and its different groups do not present a united front, which only plays into the hands of the reactionary forces. Yet, today, in our opinion, the prospect of changing this situation is opening up. Life has put on the agenda many questions which not only demand rapprochement and co-operation between all workers’ parties but also create real possibilities for this co-operation. The most important of these questions is that of preventing a new war. If the working class comes out as a united organised force and acts with firm resolution, there will be no war . . . (Khrushchov, op. cit., p. 23-24).

Thus Khrushchov urged the unity of the Communists with the bourgeois social-democrats, a unity which could only result in a bourgeois Communist Party. And that was the very aim and effect.

This was by no means an impractical way of gaining a pro-Soviet government in the European countries. A pro-Soviet government in the new conditions of 1956, and as contemplated by the Khrushchov clique, was a pro-Soviet imperialist government, that is, it would serve the cause of Soviet imperialism.

It can be illustrated by the case of France and Italy. In each of those countries there are Communist Parties and social democratic or labor parties with considerable parliamentary support. The Communist Parties are really “left” social democratic parties and not Marxist-Leninist Parties at all. Khrushchov’s report encouraged all the latent tendencies in these Parties to revisionism, and they became revisionist parties, that is, parties which rejected the revolutionary essence of Marxism-Leninism. Khrushchov’s line amounted, for example, to a government in France and Italy of coalition of the Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and perhaps some other parties. Such a government, as Khrushchov envisaged it, would be a tool of Soviet social-imperialism and would advance Soviet imperialist expansionism in the heart of Europe.

It may be said that Khrushchov really had the honest idea of advancing socialism’ in Europe and that he would have served his purpose just as well by promoting socialism in Europe. But it must be repeated Khrushchov’s proposition was anti-socialist in its very essence and for a very good reason. Khrushchov and his clique were representatives of Soviet capitalism and Soviet imperialism. As such, they hated socialism. As an imperialist country the Soviet Union was bound to expand; the very nature of imperialism compels expansion. Europe is a key centre in imperialist expansion.

The pro-Soviet Communist Parties in Europe when they committed themselves to Khrushchov’s line, as they did, were no more than the tools of the Soviet “Communist” Party (social-imperialist “Communist” Party). Stalin in his pursuit of socialism had never advanced such an idea. He erroneously sought a certain compliance by foreign Communist Parties with the Soviet Communist Party. He always did so in the cause, as he understood it, of socialism. Stalin, in accordance with proletarian internationalism, resolutely supported the revolutionary peoples and struggle for national liberation. Stalin, however, in a certain way did break what is a fundamental principle of Marxism-Leninism well expressed by Mao Tsetung thus: “Such compromise (agreement to wage war against Nazi Germany etc.) between the United States, Britain and France and the Soviet Union can be the outcome only of resolute, effective struggles by all the democratic forces of the world against the reactionary forces of the United States, Britain and France. Such compromise does not require the people in the countries of the capitalist world to follow suit and make compromises at home. The people in those countries will continue to wage different struggles in accordance with their different conditions.” (Some Points of Appraisal of the Present International Situation, 1946, Selected Works, Vol. 4,p. 87). But Stalin’s motive and object, in error though they were, were socialist. Khrushchov took up this degree of subservience of the Communist Parties to the CPSU in his efforts to impose on the European Communist Parties an imperialist and imperialist-collaborating policy. He used the great prestige and authority of the Soviet Communist Party, born of the October Revolution and of the building of socialism under Lenin and Stalin, to further his imperialist actions.

As to the social democratic parties in the capitalist countries, Khrushchov spoke of them as parties of the working class (see previous quotation). He put forward the proposition that the “split” (Khrushchov’s word) in the working class needed to be healed. When he spoke of the split he meant the existence of the Communist Party on the one hand and on the other, the existence of the social democratic parties. But Marxism-Leninism shows that this is not a split in the working class at all; it is a split between the working class (served by the Marxist-Leninist Party) and the capitalist class (served by the social democratic parties; socialist in name, capitalist in deed). Marxist-Leninists recognise that all people who can be united in struggle on a given working class question should be united, and this may from time to time embrace the Social Democratic Parties and certainly will embrace members of those parties. This is a question very different from healing the so-called split in the working class. Khrushchov’s proposition about healing this split, coupled with his anti-Marxist-Leninist peaceful transition to socialism, meant that Khrushchov was adopting an outright bourgeois policy. He stood outright for the maintenance of capitalism in these countries, and through the instrumentality of the “Communist” Parties bringing these countries within the Soviet imperialist orbit.

A socialist Europe was no good whatever within this imperialist conception of Khrushchov because a socialist country would have been entirely free of imperialism, it would have been out of the imperialist orbit entirely.

Then Khrushchov made much of his exposition of peaceful co-existence between countries with different social systems. Actually peaceful co-existence between countries of different social systems is a Marxist-Leninist idea but it had nothing whatever in common with what Khrushchov said about peaceful co-existence. The Marxist-Leninist idea is based upon the uneven development of capitalism and the fact that capitalist countries were compelled by the nature of capitalism to recognise the existence of a socialist country and to live from time to time in peace with socialism. Lenin and Stalin had practised this peaceful co-existence. It is by no means the whole of a Marxist-Leninist foreign policy; it is one aspect of it. Khrushchov utterly distorted this to say that the problems of the world could be solved by agreement between the two great powers, the USA and the Soviet Union.

Some examples can be taken from Khrushchov’s report. He said:

The establishment of firm friendly relations between the two biggest superpowers of the world, the Soviet Union and the United States of America, would be of great significance for the strengthening of world peace. (Khrushchov, op. cit., p. 34).

If good relations between the Soviet Union and the United States are not established and mutual distrust continues, it will lead to an arms race on a still bigger scale and to a still more dangerous build up of strength on both sides. (Ibid., p. 35).

Khrushchov acknowledged that “there is, of course, a Marxist-Leninist precept that wars are inevitable as long as imperialism exists.” (Ibid., p. 41). Khrushchov then went on to mis-state this by saying: “certainly the Leninist precept that so long as imperialism exists, the economic basis giving rise to wars will also be preserved remains in force” and to “prove” that “. . . war is not fatalistically inevitable.” (Ibid., p. 42). Hence it was all a question of the USA and the Soviet Union. They could impose peace (peaceful co-existence) on anyone who disturbed the peace. Given their agreement, no one would dare to disturb the peace. Actually this proposition aimed at paralysing the struggle of the colonial and dependent countries for independence, maintaining spheres of imperialist influence, and assisting the Soviet Union which had its eye also on Western Europe as explained previously. Under cover of agreement with the USA, Khrushchov’s idea was to arm the Soviet Union to deal with the U.S. imperialists. At the same time Khrushchov would “support” national liberation movements through “Communist” Parties or other elements subservient to it so that new spheres of influence would continually fall to it. By trading on the traditional and correct Marxist-Leninist support to revolutionary and national liberation movements, Khrushchov could use Soviet “support” to the ends of Soviet imperialism. Even in 1956 he was talking about “detente” with the USA. No question of detente could arise unless there were acute struggle between these imperialist powers, and the continual hammering of “detente” over the last 20 years emphasises the deepening contention.

All this is precisely how Soviet social-imperialism has acted.

Now we must look at the nature of imperialism, what imperialism has meant to Australia in terms of British and U.S. and Japanese imperialism in Australia, and then the menace of Soviet social-imperialism to Australia.