From New International, Vol.4 No.4, May 1938, p.159.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The New York Times (Apr. 23, 1938) prints an interesting wireless dispatch from its Moscow correspondent, Harold Denny, in connection with the elections in the constituent republics of the USSR and in the local organizations of the Communist Party.
ONE OF the most important political developments of the last few years in the Soviet Union has been the eclipse of the communist party. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that in Russia the old communist party has been destroyed. Certainly the party that Lenin knew has vanished, the bulk of its one-time leaders have been disgraced and killed by their own brethren in the faith.
The communist party was conceived in the beginning as a spearhead of the “proletarian dictatorship” ’ a tightly knit and thoroughly disciplined phalanx of the most politically advanced minds. Within this body the utmost freedom of opinion and debate was permitted up to the moment when the votes were cast deciding the party’s “line”.
Thereafter every member must adhere to the line in monolithic solidarity. Such freedom of opinion up to that point persisted throughout Lenin’s party leadership and was suppressed by Stalin in the course of his struggle with various oppositions, from the Trotskyist Leftists to the Bukharin Rightists. Since 1930 there has not been freedom of discussion within the communist party ’ even in advance of decisions on the party’s line.
In the first years of the Bolshevist revolution, party congresses were held frequently. The constitution adopted at the eighth congress of the Russian communist party in 1919 specified that regular congresses should be convened at intervals of two years. This was amended to three years at the seventeenth party congress, when Stalin was in full control. That was in February 1934. Thus four years and two months have elapsed since the last party congress, which is a clear violation of the amended party constitution.
During that period the Soviet State has admittedly become a one-man dictatorship. Within the past years, since Stalin was finally able to rid himself of the crafty, powerful and unprincipled Henry Yagoda ’ former secret police chief, who was shot last month along with men whom he insulted by his very presence in the prisoners’ dock ’ there has been no power but Stalin. He alone decides the party line, and woe to him who strays from it.
Within the past year the Stalin dictatorship has solidified its power even against the opposition of the “best brains of the party”. As well as any foreigners here can see the situation now through the smoke screen that the regime is always able to throw over its activities, only three or four men have any real say about what goes on in Soviet Russia ...
So, by the process which, began with the expulsion of the Trotskyists and which was extended to all other oppositionists through the period that saw the liquidation of the Old Bolsheviki three years ago and the degradation and execution of most of the old communist leaders within the last two years, Stalin has gradually substituted rule by the political police ’ inheritors of the tradition of the Czarist Cheka, namely, the GPU and the present NKVD ’ for rule by the communist party.
But that, even for a man as strong as Stalin, is not enough, even taking into consideration the invaluable power, through its ramifications, of the political police. Every indication is that Stalin wishes to place his rule over the country on a stronger and wider basis.
The basis in the old communist party fell from under him. Those famous communists of Lenin’s time wished to be rid of him, if not to destroy him physically. So he destroyed them. But Stalin is no mere Czar (though much more than any Czar ever was) wishing to rule by force alone.
There are innumerable indications that Stalin wishes the sentiment of the people to be behind him. He and his adjutants have done everything imaginable to “sell him” to the country. Most of the people intimately acquainted with Russia today believe he has done so with a high degree of success to the younger generation.
The editor of the Daily Worker (Apr. 25, 1938) makes a devastating reply to Mr. Denny.
AS A representative of one of the leading Tory organs of US capitalism Mr. Denny finds himself in agreement with the “remnants of the bourgeoisie” in hating the outstanding communist leader who is anathema to the fascist dictators with whom the Tories are making deals ’ dirty deals approved by Mr. Denny’s editorial bosses.
That Mr. Denny has tried to concentrate his slander on comrade Stalin is evidence of the fact that he can no longer slander the USSR and the great achievements which comrade Stalin’s leadership has brought to the Soviet Union and to all progressive humanity.
Last updated on 4.8.2006