First Published: Turning Point Vol. IX, Nos. 4-5, April-May 1956
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In its March issue, Turning Point immediately made its position clear “Against the Revisionism of the 20th CPSU Congress” and in defense of Stalin. This April-May issue outlines the analysis which determines our position. In these few pages, we do not attempt to place under the microscope the component parts of the Hitler-type “big lie” which is Khrushchev’s creative contribution to the extension of Marxism-Leninism. However, future issues will offer a detailed expansion of all parts of this outline. Although this is only an outline analysis, we hope that serious and honest Communists and non-Communists will find it useful as a guide in the consideration of those elephantine facts of Khrushchevism which hardly require a microscope. As far as we know – and we most earnestly hope we’re wrong – this is, at the moment, the only document in the world in defense of Stalin. It should surprise no old reader of TP that we, who have never been afraid to attack opportunism (even to the point of expulsion from the CPUSA), are the defenders of Stalin; similarly, it should surprise no one that professional yes-men are content to accept uncritically any and all pronouncements of Khrushchevism.
1. Stalin died – naturally or unnaturally – on March 6, 1953. If the reader takes offense at this precipitate speculation, we will further offend him by (a) pleading guilty and (b) demanding acquittal! Preposterous? Allow us to explain such crafty procedure. No one who accepts with equanimity the 1001 anti-Stalin innuendos of Khrushchev can possibly quibble with our single speculation. Since, at the moment, innuendos have demoted facts, we are trying to “adjust” to the spirit of the 20th Congress. We are trying in our most studied, un-sectarian manner to “adjust” to the fashion by neutralizing – in this one case – our distaste for speculation. Having disposed of what may turn out to have been a justifiable speculation, we ask the reader to note that from this point on, we restrict ourselves to a few very important facts and to an analysis of their consistency.
2. After the death of his body, Stalin’s name was kid-napped! This, also, is preposterous – but not speculation or innuendo. The name Stalin disappeared more and more from the pages of Pravda and the Communist Information Bureau organ, For A Lasting Peace, for A People’s Democracy. We will offer a typical and important “before and after” example. On Dec. 5, 1952, while Stalin was still alive, the CIB organ reported the Soviet celebration of the Stalin Constitution – “named by the people after its brilliant creator.” Exactly one year later, in a CIB article on the same anniversary (which it described as “one of the most outstanding dates in the history of mankind”), the name of the Constitution was purged of its author, and Stalin’ contributions were completely ignored.
3. Less than four months after the death of Stalin (June 23, 1953), Beria was arrested as a spy for the following: Britain, the counter-revolutionary “Mussavatists” in Azerbaijan (in 1919!) and the Mensheviks. On Dec. 2, 1953 Beria and six important associates were executed without having had an open trial. Subsequently, others connected with Beria were similarly executed, and countless others removed from responsible positions. Beria and his associates were murdered because they opposed from inception the “big lie” which materialized at the 20th Congress.
4. The break with Tito was blamed on Beria (a preliminary towards blaming Stalin), and the break was healed by placing complete blame on the Soviet Union and by “adjusting” Communism to conform with Titoism.
5. The CPSU leadership projected a “thaw” look – an advertised atmosphere of new freedom of expression. This was fanfared by Ehrenburg’s unbelievably poor and dishonest novel, “The Thaw.” The freedom to be irresponsibly anti-Stalin (a very broad target) was painstakingly made clear.
6. The CPSU leadership juggled personnel into and out of position for the forthcoming Congress. Victims included important leaders: Nizanov, head of the Uzbekistan CP; Puzanov, Premier of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic; Gedvilas, Premier of the Lithuanian Republic; etc. The editor and assistant editor of October were removed.
7. Malenkov and Molotov were “damaged” into conformity in an unpolished manner. Malenkov was attacked for slighting heavy industry and for a formulation on the cultural question in his report to the 19th Congress in l952. He was forced to resign on the grounds of inexperience. (He has since made it clear that he is now experienced in the advisability of conforming to Khrushchevism.)
Molotov was attacked for something he had never said – that the S.U. had “only” the foundations of Socialism. Molotov had actually said, “Together with the Soviet Union, where the foundations of a Socialist society have already been built, there are also those people’s democratic countries which have taken only the first but very important steps in the direction of Socialism.” (Our emphasis.) As should be understandable to anyone but a sophist, Molotov does not imply that “only” the foundations of Socialism have been built in the S.U.; he states that they “have already been built.” Furthermore, his use of the word “only” later in the sentence in reference to the People’s Democracies makes this doubly clear. Molotov was being given the needle, and, unfortunately, he fainted. He recanted a thought he had not expressed. Both Malenkov and Molotov buckled and became part of the unanimous Khrushchev collective – Malenkov, so far, more boisterously.
8. The 20th Congress was held in Feb. 1956 – after the “thaw” had produced enough slush to accommodate the needs of Khrushchevism. The Congress made two basic changes: (1) Proletarian Revolution was branded dogma, deleted, and replaced by the peaceful attainment of Socialism; and (2) Stalin was socially damned by innuendo for his alleged “cult of the individual” – the designation used by Trotsky in his biography of Stalin!! Since the official innuendo was shocking but incomplete (in that it allowed people to evade a complete recognition of the consequences). Khrushchev delivered a clarifying address at a secret session from which even the representatives of the fraternal Communist Parties were barred. This secret speech was officially leaked unofficially to the international press for world-wide distribution – to Communists and others. A new and ingenious channel for the mass distribution of secret information! No item of this pornography thus distributed has yet been rejected by the manufacturers.
9. The speech and its reverberations (Peking to Warsaw to New York) inform us that Stalin was a monstrously and pathologically suspicious murderer, an anti-Semite, a bungler responsible for an alleged Soviet unpreparedness in 1941, a demoniacal destroyer of the best brains of the Soviet army, a coward of note in the Second World War, a conceited, subjective, arbitrary madman, a senile, phobia-ridden dictator – who shot his second wife in a rage at having been criticized. It is possible that Khrushchevism is taking to match its versatility in defamation with Stalin’s versatility in analytical formulation.
10. In the post-Congress period, leaders of other CP’s followed suit, choosing their own national scapegoats in, a weird ward-healers’ battle for career security. They bravely advanced clarifications of “peaceful revolution” and expansions of the slanders against Stalin.
11. The re-shuffling process has logically included the rehabilitation of a history-full of renegades. The recent vindication of Rykov (accompanied by the denunciation of Vyshinsky) is only a bud; we will yet see the blooming of the Zinovievs, Kamenevs, Bukharins, and finally Trotsky – if the Soviet people give whorticulturist Khrushchev that much more time in their already trampled garden.
12. As a result of the 20th Congress, all the age-old slanders of world capitalism, as styled by world Trotskyism, were “rehabilitated” as facts, and Stalin was turned into a vehicle for proving the Orwellian stupidity of the Soviet people, all Communists, and Communism itself. Never has Communism been twisted so much in so little time with such great sadism.
We have just given an aerial map of the range of Khrushchevism from the death of a man to the temporary coma of an idea. Even before the details are filled in, we believe that there oozes forth such a convincing miasma of unconvincing flip-flop hypocrisy that, inevitably, a naive passenger would have to characterize his embarrassed presence aboard Khrushchev’s Meteor as “Gullible’s Travels.”
Let us consider the main contribution of the 20th Congress. It substituted a peaceful, parliamentary, constitutional attainment of Socialist power for the Proletarian Revolution. Worse than this a Marxist cannot do. It deserves a Stalin Prize for Revisionism! Any man has the right to believe that the confidence of a BEAUTY like Khrushchev can cause the transformation of the BEAST of capitalism into the CHARMING PRINCE of Socialism. However no man has the right to pervert the nobility of the fairy world into the vulgarity of Khrushchev’s philistine underworld.
Constitutional Communism is a case of hoodwinking through the stolen trademark of Marxism-Leninism and the misleading label of peaceful revolution. Below, we will analyze the motive behind this revision; here we will insist only on the fact: removing force and violence from the theory of the proletarian revolution is removing Marxism-Leninism by force and violence.
We realize that even at this late date, a few quotes are not enough to prove the necessity for proletarian revolution. But, we remind the reader, we have not been trying to prove anything of the sort – in this article. We are simply arguing that Khrushchevism has no right to operate under the famous and meaningful banner of Marxism-Leninism.
We will do this briefly in the following manner. We will measure the formulation of Khrushchevism against a definite statement of Lenin, speaking very much in the name of Marx and Engels. Lenin said:
“The panegyric Engels sang in its [violent revolution’s honour, and which fully corresponds to Mari’s repeated declarations (recall the concluding passages of the “The Poverty of Philosophy” and the “Communist Manifesto,” with their proud and open declaration of the inevitability of a violent revolution; recall Marx’s “Critique of the Gotha Program” of 1875, in which, almost thirty years later, he mercilessly castigates the opportunist character of that program) – this panegyric is by no means a mere ’impulse,’ a mere declamation or polemical sally. The necessity of systematically imbuing the masses with this and precisely this view of violent revolution lies at the root of the whole of Marx’s and Engel’s doctrine. The betrayal of their doctrine by the social-chauvinist and Kautskyan trends which now predominate is brought out in striking relief by the neglect of such propaganda and agitation by both these trends.
“The substitution of the proletarian state for the bourgeois state is impossible without a violent revolution.” (“State and Revolution”)
“It is not true that we regard violence and civil war as the only way to remake society...”
Khrushchevism, as officially embodied in the Resolutions of the CPSU 20th Congress, says that the peaceful attainment of Socialism by a constitutional majority is perfectly possible.
“However, the greater or lesser degree of intensity which the class struggle may assume and the use or the non-use of violence in the transition to socialism depends not so much on the proletariat as on the degree of resistance put up by the exploiters to the will of the overwhelming majority of the working people and on the use of violence by the exploiting class itself. There is no doubt that in a number of capitalist countries, where capitalism is still strong, where it has a huge military and police apparatus at its disposal, the sharp aggravation of class struggle is inevitable.” (Resolution, CIB 3-2-56)
Mikoyan is less subtle and more worried about the reformist smell of this formulation, so he makes matters worse:
“That is why the question of the possibility of peaceful revolution in separate countries should not be confused with reformism. It should be remembered that revolution – peaceful or not peaceful – will always be revolution, while reformism will always remain a fruitless marking of time.” (CIB 3-2-56)
Lenin (who lived before the catastrophes of Spain. Greece. Guatemala, etc.) seems to have had more foresight than his remodelers have hindsight. In “Proletarian Revolution and Renegade Kautsky,” Lenin almost visibly sneers:
“Never except in the sentimental fantasies of the sentimental simpleton Kautsky – will the exploiters submit to the decision of the exploited majority without making use of their advantage in a last desperate battle or series of battles.
“The transition from capitalism to Communism represents an entire historical epoch. Until this epoch has terminated, the exploiters will inevitably cherish the hope of restoration, and this hope will be converted into attempts at restoration.”
Let us examine the seeming qualification of the “peaceful revolution” entered by Khrushchevism.
(1) The qualification is a facade for Khrushchev’s embarrassment at his abrupt and open distortion of revolution into peaceful revolution. Therefore, he seems to qualify his revision – generously allowing for the exceptional possibility of a violent revolution in certain cases. If Khrushchev were really qualifying, he would have done the obvious – stated, as examples, certain countries where his peaceful revolution is impossible – or possible. But there are no clarifying examples. Perhaps, Khrushchev didn’t want to be too clear and specific. Perhaps he preferred to avoid stating too openly that in the U.S., the citadel of world imperialism, the working class will establish its power without resort to force!! Or – why didn’t he eliminate the U.S. by stating that, of course, elected socialism would be impossible here.
Obviously, he didn’t want to. Remember, Khrushchev has explained his previous inhibitions against open expression. He made his explanations at that famous burlesque where he stripped himself of what little Marxist covering he had (in a manner which all enemies of Marxism-Leninism considered most pleasing and stimulating). He explained that he and his fellow performers could never really let loose during Stalin’s lifetime because that demoniacal enemy of exhibitionism frowned them into paralysis with his evil eye. Now Stalin is dead, and we accept the fact that our Gypsy Rose Lee of Socialism can expose exactly those areas of thought he deems advisable.
(2) But perhaps Khrushchev’s qualification was clear to all the CP leaders of the world – and we simply don’t speak his language? Exactly! It seems that immediately after the Congress, most of the CP’s (and especially the CPUSA) had a ball. The CPUSA declared that Khrushchev’s ideas were exactly the ideas which they contributed for the international edification of Communists at their Foley Square trial. The CPUSA explained that Khrushchev’s qualification regarding an exceptional necessity for violent revolution was not meant to apply to the U.S.
Did Togliatti understand Khrushchev’s qualification? He understood that Italy can get socialism peacefully! Did Duclos understand it? He understood it as well as Togliatti, who understood it as well as Pollitt, who understood it as well as Foster and Dennis, etc.
So, really, the qualification was a psychological massage designed to soothe the nervousness of those who discerned too much of a basic revision of Marxism-Leninism.
(3) When he removed the heart of Marxism and substituted a qualification, Khrushchev left a rubber glove at the scene of the crime. He tampered with the Russian Revolution itself. He did this by borrowing from the Foley Square revisionism of the CPUSA its famous distortion of the Russian Revolution known as the ”peaceful development” episode. We are told that – of all people – Lenin himself believed in the possibility of peaceful revolution. This misrepresentation is attempted despite the fact that Lenin’s major energies were spent exposing other revisionists who similarly misrepresented Marx and Engels. Khrushchev says:
“It will be recalled that in the conditions that arose in April 1917, Lenin granted the possibility that the Russian Revolution might develop peacefully, and that in the spring of 1918, after the victory of the October Revolution, Lenin drew up his famous plan for peaceful socialist construction.” (CIB organ, 2/17/56) (Our emphasis)
We will devote a complete article to this in the near future, but we long ago exposed this in detail in an article on Foster’s deposition in the Foley Square trial. In a section of the article which we called “Expurgated Version of the Russian Revolution,” we said:
“Lenin speaks carefully of a peaceful development of the revolution. He speaks of one part – of one rare episode within a revolution... Lenin analyzed this transition as one from the first stage (the bourgeois democratic revolution) to the second stage (the socialist revolution). The “April Theses” were offered in a relatively peaceful period between the two stages. But Lenin insisted that the Bolshevik work of the transitional period must be a preparation for insurrection.”
Regarding another allusion to ”peaceful development” made in October, we said:
“Lenin’s statement was made in an article which appeared on Oct. 9-10. Mark the date. Foster does not mention that exactly on Oct. 10, ’the historic meeting of the Central Committee of the Party took place at which it was decided to launch the armed uprising within the next few days.’ [“Short History,” p.205]”
We pointed out that Lenin “makes it clear that the Soviets can secure a peaceful development of the revolution only on the basis of having seized power.”
Does this sound like the peaceful winning of socialism?
Going back to Khrushchev’s quote, does Lenin’s “famous plan for peaceful socialist construction” drawn up “after [AFTER!] the victory of the October Revolution” prove the possibility of a peaceful revolution? Does “construction” mean “revolution”? So much did Khrushchev want to attain the peaceful respectability of Social Democracy that he equated post-revolutionary construction with the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie – and hijacked Lenin’s name to help advertise the act.
Is Khrushchev attempting to prove that violent revolution, which he says is no longer needed, was never really used? An honest Communist should choose: is he defending Marxism or anti-Marxism? If he cannot accept the essence of Marxism, he really should not trouble himself over the secondary problem of the role of Stalin. Such worry is wasteful; he can hate Stalin on general principles - for having believed in the essence of unrevised Marxism.
We underline this main revision of Khrushchev because it is the spotlight which picks up and throws into context all the innuendos and outright slanders. And, if this is true, one must, as a Communist, immediately condemn the alien ideology of Khrushchevism even before we consider its “Sunday Supplement” collection of gossipy tidbits.
The second main contribution of the 20th Congress was the attempt to distort the role of Stalin. Yet, as our original statement of position said, “the fact that the present opportunism could not be conducted in his name guarantees Stalin’s honorable and creative role.” By some joyous quirk of nature, there is no direct connection between the decomposition of a body and its contributions. Although there is no such thing as immortality, an idea and its results come the closest. It is stupidity raised to an art-form when a Khrushchev attempts to erase Stalin’s contributions from history. A man’s contributions can in one moment be ignored and in the next moment memorialized; they can in varying degrees be forgotten or recollected; but they cannot be erased because their effects become part of the continuity of history. Even the most uninformed but honest Communist must realize that there is a marked difference between (1) an extension of Marxism-Leninism based on new “key” facts and (2) a distension of Marxism-Leninism based on new “keyhole” facts – offered in a Walter Winchell-Nikita Khrushchev manner.
This outline will not attempt to prove contributions and disprove vilifications. However, it will attempt to place a few main points in focus.
1. The over-all role of Stalin is that of a devoted, persistent guardian of Marxism-Leninism – as Lenin before him was of Marxism. This statement does not equal infallibility; it means exactly what it says. But, to say this is to say “the most” about a Communist, and it is for this reason that we campaign for the renascence of Communism under the slogan of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism.
2. Stalin is the man who believed that Socialism could he built in one country – and then acted as the engineer. In order to do this, he had to tear to shreds the opposite ideas of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, etc. This he did over a long period. When the defeated ideologists of the impossibility of Socialism in one country departed from the arena of theory and entered the practice of uniting with enemies in order to destroy the Soviet Union, they were unmasked at great length in open trials and destroyed.
3. In protecting the S.U. and in building Socialism, Stalin followed the “impolite” ideas of Lenin, utilizing the contradictions of the hostile capitalist world. Just as Lenin used divisive pacts (e.g. Brest-Litovsk Treaty) during the first World War, Stalin, in the face of an approaching second World War, used the Soviet-German pact. History has proven what an important breathing space this was – how the S.U. gained from this tactic and Germany lost fatally. But, on Khrushchev’s list, Stalin, the bungler, was surprised by Hitler’s attack.
4. In little more than a decade, the S.U., under the leadership of Lenin (who died in 1924) and Stalin, built from the ruins of civil war and intervention the strongest army in the world. This army under Stalin defeated an ”invulnerable” fascist axis. Khrushchevism is as stupid as its charge that Stalin was a bungler and a coward in World War II. We say that any man who insists that Hitler could have been defeated without heavy losses is a charlatan – an obvious one. It would have taken the “headline mentality” of a Khrushchev to have attempted to stop at one fell swoop Hitler’s army at the Soviet border. Such a showpiece would, at the best, have left Hitler’s army stunned but intact.
Stalin, it seems, made poor headlines for a long time, all the time that Hitler’s army penetrated and over-extended itself into open jaws. But when the jaws closed permanently and decisively at Stalingrad, the whole world knew that the turning point had been reached.
The reader must forgive us for giving Stalin so much credit for Stalingrad. But it’s permissible. Haven’t his enemies yielded all credit to him for this bungling? A mad Stalin insisted on the fantasy of picking up heavy industry and transporting it by rail to the Urals. Then the fool did it. We all know that it isn’t so bad when a madman projects a mad plan. “Steady people” can mock at will. But when a madman turns his fantasies into actualities, he becomes downright insulting to “plodders.” Then, “plodders” cannot mock; they can only slander.
5. We would be most interested in a Khrushchevist critique of Stalin’s most famous contributions on the National Question. Stalin did not only theorize about the National Question; he built successfully the most complex multi-national Socialist state. Is it possible to erase from history the exciting fact that in the S.U., nations which had no written language were not only encouraged to develop their languages but were given, through science and Marxist principle, a created notation!
6. The man who created the Stalin Constitution, the most democratic constitution in the history of the world (because it underwrites its ideas with practical guarantees), is called a despot – a mean one, at that. A shrewd Khrushchev would have slandered Stalin as a “benevolent” despot; a stupid Khrushchev could not bear the expenditure of the extra word.
Khrushchevism does not attack the Stalin Constitution. It deletes the author and then attacks him for promoting ideas alien to the constitution. Meanwhile, it produces articles about the glories of the constitution. It’s as if we were to delete the author of the Gettysburg address, and then insist that the author failed to show up at the memorial meeting because he was busy elsewhere shooting his second wife.
7. Stalin was not only the architect of Socialism after Lenin’s death but he was the only current theoretician on the transition from Socialism to Communism. On the one hand, he exposed dizzy schemes for rushing the transition; on the other hand, he exposed the fear of proceeding. In the last work available to us, ”Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR,” he left the only mature theoretical advice on progress to Communism. His vilifiers have so far failed to offer a youthful improvement over his “senility.”
8. Stalin was allegedly an obstacle in the path of science. He dared ally himself with the theories of Lysenko who conducted a battle for the implementation of the ideas of Michurin. (Khrushchevism fails to attack Lenin for his support of Michurin.) TP thinks that Lysenko’s ideas are correct, but suppose the reader disagrees? Let us remind him that for over a decade the Soviet government under Stalin encouraged both sides in this argument to battle it out and provide the S.U. with the correct answer. It is to Stalin’s great credit that he took what will be proven the correct position. But who can claim or prove that he did not allow the contest of scientific opinion.
9. Stalin warned the Soviet people never to take their leaders for granted or they would never discover the fakers. He warned them to keep alive their right of recall because, like their enemies, they, too, had hypocrites in high places who could not be trusted. Stalin said:
“I cannot say with absolute certainty that among the candidates (1 beg their pardon, of course) and among our public figures there are not people who resemble political philistines more than anything else, who in character and make-up resemble people of the type referred to in the popular saying: ’Neither a candle for god nor a poker for the devil.’” (Speech on the occasion of his nomination to the Supreme Soviet, 1937.)
We have mentioned a few of Stalin’s main contributions, and we have quickly indicated his integrity. Now, we will be asked: didn’t Stalin have faults? We think he did. And does any man have a right to criticize him? Yes, but let that man be specific and prove the fact underneath his criticism. Let us not hear “impressionistic” sounds about Stalin’s bungling in agriculture, war and whatnot. We demand chapter and verse – not grapevine gossip.
One can say this for Stalin’s attitude toward polemic: he was not a dabber. When he entered a polemic, he did it with unanswerable logic. And sometimes he abstained from certain prominent fields of cultural polemic (at least as formal pronouncements go) because he did not consider his judgment of definitive help.
Well, we are asked, does TP have anything to criticize Stalin for? Certainly, but we will qualify those criticisms carefully. This article is not concerned with our criticisms of Stalin, but we will use one example in order to prove a point against Khrushchevism. We criticize Stalin exactly where his worst enemies would praise him, exactly where they extend his errors.
Turning Point can accept no justification for the dissolution of the’ Communist International – an important factor in the weakness of the world Communist movement. Very little detail of the reasoning behind the dissolution has come out, but we believe that every Communist should have opposed this. Very few did. Such criticism of Stalin will not make the Khrushchevites happy; they have just dissolved the’ Communist Information Bureau which was an important step back towards international integration of the Communist movement.
However, Stalin believed in reconstituting international contact. It is for this reason that we value the speech which Stalin made to the 19th Congress of the CPSU in 1952. This is a very unusual speech for Stalin. There are no detailed reports on the S.U. – just a few very much emphasized points. It is the sincere, warm message of a man offering some last reminders. Speaking of the CPSU’s brother Parties, Stalin said:
“it is their confidence that we particularly prize... It would be a mistake to think that, having become a mighty force, our Party is no longer in need of support. That is not true. Our Party and our country have always needed, and will need, the confidence, the sympathy and the support of fraternal peoples abroad... Naturally, our Party cannot remain indebted to the fraternal parties, and it must in its turn render support to them and also to their peoples in their struggle for emancipation, and in their struggle for the preservation of peace. As we know, that is exactly what it is doing.” (Our emphasis)
Stalin continued that it was now less difficult for CP’s to work ”because the bourgeoisie... has become more’ reactionary, has lost its ties with the people and has thereby weakened itself.”
Khrushchev, too, thinks that work is easier, but from a different point of view. In his mind, the stronger the Socialist sector the more reasonable and progressive the bourgeoisie becomes – sensible enough to allow the peaceful election of Socialism. In Stalin’s mind, the bourgeoisie becomes more desperate with each advance of Socialism; it certainly does not yield to Socialism.
Our criticisms of Stalin are modified by his report to the 19th Congress because his internationalism is prominently obnoxious to his colleagues.
Khrushchevism, a current form of revisionism and opportunism, is the attempt to dissolve the contradiction between peaceful coexistence and world revolution. A dialectical materialist does not attempt to dissolve the insoluble. He does not attempt to solve such contradictions as: the longer you live, the closer to death you come. (He does not dissolve this contradiction by taking a position against longevity!) World revolution is inevitable: no one can delete it from the agenda. Peaceful coexistence is desirable and necessary. A world war today would be an A & H bomb war, and that might mean the destruction of the earth. The longer peaceful coexistence is enforced (and it is actually enforced by the might of the Socialist sector – not by Khrushchev’s diplomatic exhibitionism), the stronger the Socialist sector becomes, the closer we get to world Socialism and the harder it is for capitalism to launch a world ’var. But this does not mean that peaceful revolution becomes more possible; on the contrary, capitalism becomes more desperate and violent. Capitalism may not be capable of launching a world war, but it is always capable of launching an internal class war. There should be nothing frightening about this contradiction - except to men who, in the absence of a Stalin, are collectively un-Marxist.
But the Khrushchevites insisted on dissolving this contradiction, and successfully found the only way – by removing part of the contradiction, the proletarian revolution. Of course, this isn’t a real solution but the imaginary removal of part of the problem. The men behind this “solution” are attempting to head off maturing revolutions and liberation movements; they would postpone socialism (to use Malenkov’s adjusted timetable) for something less than a hundred years!
The bloodiest example is Algeria, which is fighting for that very self-determination which Marxism-Leninism has proclaimed the right of all peoples. Have the leaders of the French and Soviet CP’s a twinge of international solidarity? Yes – solidarity with the French Empire. Khrushchev says –
“that a correct solution of the given question can he found, with due regard, naturally, for the legitimate rights and national interests of the peoples of the French Union.” (CIB, 10-7-55)
What “legitimate rights”? What “national interests”? – except self-determination, which Khrushchev denies in the interests of French imperialism! The French Union is nothing less than the technical name for the remnants of the French Empire.
Thorez echoes this in his speech to the 20th Congress. He generously allows the Algerians – not self-determination but – the right to exist in what seems to be a democratic imperialism:
“They [French Communists] are fighting for recognition of the fact that the Algerian nation exists, for the establishment of a real French Union composed of free and equal peoples.” (Our emphasis.)
And so, on March 12, 1956, the French CP supported the Mollet government in its war against the Algerians in order to preserve France’s possessions.
Khrushchevism means placating the hostile world by the deletion of the MOST HATED IDEA and its MOST HATED EXPONENT. To the hostile world, the most hated idea is the proletarian revolution, and its most hated exponent in our time is Stalin. Lenin would explain (as he did in the case of Marx) that he has been dead long enough to escape nomination.
This is bourgeois ideology, substituting opportunism for principled Marxist-Leninist diplomacy. This is an appeal to one’s enemies instead of the organization of one’s friends. This is building on the backwardnesses of the movement instead of its strength.
Why did this happen so suddenly? Here the answer is simple fact. As we now know too well, these men could not perform this operation on Marxism while Stalin was alive. Stalin’s death made this freedom of irresponsible revision possible. But how could a man like Stalin leave behind him such a bunch of turncoats? This is a dangerous question. One might as well ask: why did Lenin leave his assortment - with the exception of Stalin who defended the Lenin heritage? Why did the heritage of Marx and Engels have to await rediscovery by Lenin? It is ridiculous to blame great men for their failure to leave behind them other appropriately great men.
But why was there no one to defend Stalin? Is this true? By elimination (literally!) Beria was the one top leader who did defend Stalin firmly – with the reward of murder. The unanimity of the Central Committee was made possible by the removal of the exception, the dissident Beria.
How about the people? Our answer to this is one word which will carry special significance in Russian history and Georgian history – TIFLIS! All the facts and all the bodies are not yet uncovered, but the example of Tiflis proves to the rest of the S.U. and the rest of the world that the Soviet people are not the imbeciles Khrushchevism takes them to be. Leaders tend to degenerate in mass quantities because of the alleged requirements for “big operators.” But a whole people which has lived for so many years under Socialism cannot be so callous and degenerate. It simply has to find its methods. Tiflis was an alarm to the Soviet people. We will see which outlives the other – the name Khrushchev or the “collective” name Tiflis.
Perhaps, Stalin, in his time, received too many testimonials from unproductive parasites, but the greatest real testimonial to Stalin was the Tiflis demonstration.
One has to remark on the hate that streams from the present leaders over the memory of Stalin. They hate Stalin for his intransigence, for his scorn of their present theories. Lacking the ability to offer constructive creative ideas to the world, they settle for salesman-gimmicks. They mount the international podium and act corny and undignified because they want to be indiscriminately “well-liked.” They want to prove that, unlike Stalin, they can get along with the enemies of Socialism.
Stalin had a word to say on this:
“One thing or the other: either we continue to pursue a revolutionary policy... in which case international capital will do everything it can to hinder our advance; or we renounce our revolutionary policy and agree to make a number of fundamental concessions to international capital-in which case international capital, no doubt, will not be averse to ’assisting’ us in converting our Socialist country into a ’good’ bourgeois republic.”
Khrushchevism is the worst blow to Socialism, the worst disgrace in the history of Communism – without exception! Khrushchevism will undoubtedly go down in history as the degeneration of almost the complete leadership of world Communism. (We say almost because there will be those exceptional leaders (like Zachariades, newly deposed leader of the Greek CP, and some leaders of the Indian CP) who will refuse to become Khrushchevites.
Khrushchev-time is that period during which the formal leadership of international Communism sabotaged revolutionary and national liberation movements. It will be noted that in this period Khrushchev set out like a not-so-lean Don Quixote to calm down the class struggle. Khrushchev-time is the period during which Communism decided to become’ Social Democracy – during which Communist Parties, begging Socialist Parties to unite, solved the problem by themselves becoming Socialist Parties. Khrushchev-time is the end of the CPSU’s leadership of the world Communist movement - a defeat by default. Khrushchev-time is a temporary loss of direction in the CPSU itself. This means unavoidably, a slowed pace in the transition from Socialism to Communism in the S.U. The S.U. is still a Socialist state, and it is still for peace. But nothing is static; Socialist states move forward to Communism or they slide back towards capitalism (imperceptibly at first).
But isn’t there some good in Khrushchev? It has often been said, very morally, that even the worst man has a little good in him. It is sometimes necessary to add that the positive ingredient in the negative man tends to be involuntary. On this basis, we can admit that Khrushchev is an involuntary reorganizer of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism. He will help Communists turn to the reorganization of real Communist Parties. Out of the renascence of individual CP’s will come the reconstruction of a Communist International which will be the integrating force behind the building of world Communism.
Communists who wondered at the wasteful retreats of their own CP’s will now see the international consistency behind what appeared to he a national exception. They will now be able to diagnose not only the private pox of opportunism but the international epidemic. In the process of this clarification, the forthcoming Marxist-Leninist-Stalinists will shed the last remnants of their sloppy thinking habits. “Hackiness” will be replaced by integrity – a quality which has long been buried under the tombstone of “practicality.” Doubletalk will no longer be the trademark of the talented leader but of the “big operator.” (Most people consider this desirable but impossible. Most people settle for too little!)
An important positive result of Khrushchevism will be the simple, orderly fact of inventory: who are the scoundrels, and who are the honest Communists? All Communists have an involuntary vote in this matter; all are showing their hands. The scoundrels are showing their hands quickly. Revolutionary rank-and-filers will in most cases, after an understandable delay, show theirs. They are now, in great part, understandably flabbergasted. It not only rained – but it poured, and it poured excrement. History has no choice but to allow time for a bit of disinfecting. During this ugly inventory, a soiled Communism will not especially be open for business as usual. Responsible people (TP included) will be busy with brooms, mops, and strong deodorizers and disinfectants! How could it possibly be otherwise?
The important activity in Communism today is, of necessity, the healthy splitting of Revolution from Constitutionalism. Better to have intelligent confusion for the moment than permanent idiotic unanimity. Communists of integrity will not only discover kindred spirits but they will, during this period, discover themselves.
Khrushchevism is acting as a great centrifugal separator. The merry-go-round of opportunism is whirling faster and faster. As the speed increases those who are not immune to philosophical dizziness will become directionless. Some will tire of the sound of Khrushchev’s rebuilt Kautsky-calliope and jump off. Others will not have the conviction to jump off until the sheer centrifugal force flings them off. These will, for a while, lie on the ground, dizzy, nauseated, depressed, as the painted horses whiz by, oscillating up and down but in the same spot. But after a while, they will pick themselves up and look about this world for less circular progress.
We grant that even spectators grow dizzy watching. One cannot blame them. One can only suggest that if they will back away from the scene just a little, they will discover that the gaily painted merry-go-round rotates rhetorically but fails to leave the spot. Those who want to move ahead to Socialism (or in the S.U. to Communism) will leave this sorry amusement center (a concession operated for the benefit of capitalism) and work for the resurrection of Communism.
Politics, as everyone knows, is a pretty dirty mess. Now, the Communist arena has been besmirched. We grant that anyone who knows the whereabouts of a real ivory tower has the right to retreat thereto. We, unfortunately, not knowing the right people, are unconnected with real ivory towers and the imaginary ones are not practical. Therefore, we have no alternative but to fight for Socialism and for a revolutionary movement which will make that fight possible and effective. We would remind all other Communists (omitting the ones who own real ivory towers) that they also have no alternative but the continued fight for Socialism. The depression that sets in with this horrible mess is little comfort – except masochistically. The only real comfort is understanding causes and cures.
At this point of temporary defeat, what attitude is absolutely necessary for a functioning Communist? Stalin would advise us by pointing to Lenin, defeated by Plekhanov, Axelrod, Martov, etc. at the Stockholm Congress:
“…he was not a jot like those leaders who whine and lose heart when beaten... ’Don’t whine Comrades, we are bound to win for we are right’... Lenin was never a captive of the majority, especially when that majority had no basis of principle... he did not fear on such occasions literally to stand alone against all, considering – as he would say – that ’a policy of principle is the only correct policy.’” (“Lenin,” a memorial speech, 1924.)
A study of Lenin yields the invaluable secret that a principled man wins in the course of an imposing sequence of ”principled” defeats. Many people desire Socialism. During certain periods, few can face the necessity of getting it the hard but possible way. The history of Socialism is a series of imaginary quick easy roads to Socialism.
Khrushchev has sent the Communist movement toppling to rock bottom. But if we are at the bottom, let us take advantage of the rock. Let us build a movement based on solid principle – not on expediency. Let us proclaim mental courage the password. Above all, let us promote the brain – not the jukebox-head.
We have to do today what Lenin had to do. We have to dig up Marxism and gather together a solid corps of comrades who, without asking anyone’s permission, will decide to create a Communist Party in its original spirit, the spirit that moved Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. Because the distortion of Stalinism is a cover-up for the distortion of Marxism-Leninism, let us say without hesitancy that our campaign operates under the unpopular slogan: IN DEFENSE OF STALIN.
1. Findings of the Soviet Supreme Court.
2. In the Dec.1955 Kommunist, the CPSU’s theoretical organ, Malenkov (unnamed but unmistakably identified) was attacked for ”scholastic misconceptions.” His ideas were misrepresented. One would never gather from the attack on him that Malenkov (with the benefit of a live Stalin) had attacked ”hackwork,” ”mediocre and drab productions,” and the absence of “the fire of satire.”
3. For a detailed examination of this period in the Russian Revolution, see Vol. III, No. 2-3, 1950 Turning Point.
4. Stalin Works, Vol. 11, p. 53.