From New International, Vol.5 No.4, April 1939, p.127.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
A. Taret, in La Lutte Ouvrière (Paris, March 17, 1939), comments on the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Moscow early last month.
WE DO not yet know the composition of some delegations; but the partial figures are sufficiently significant and doubtlessly give the picture of the whole.
The delegates to the Moscow regional conference, the most important of those that preceded the Congress, were divided as follows: 43 People’s Commissars and substitutes, 104 deputies to Supreme Councils, 16 “Heroes of the Soviet Union”, 141 decorated with various orders (Stakhanovists for the most part), 108 officers and political commissars of the Red Army, 61 factory directors, 21 plant superintendents and foremen, 47 intellectuals.
The division in the various delegations is analogous to this one: People’s Commissars (some of them delegates from several districts at the same time), party functionaries, generals and officers, factory directors, writers, Stakhanovists.
The Congress, therefore, represents only the Soviet bureaucracy and the privileged minority created by Stalin. Nobody could expect anything from these “delegates” but an enthusiastic and unanimous approval of the policy of the “great leader of the peoples”.
One observation: the man who was the “most faithful collaborator of Stalin”, who enabled the latter to attain the perfect “homogeneity” of the party, bloody Yezhov, is not cited in the first reports of the Congress. Even if he was a delegate, he was not put on a single one of the directing organs of the Congress.
Does this mean that his system has passed conclusively into the discard? Not at all, for the inaugural speech of Molotov, the report of Stalin, the speeches of Beria, Yezhov’s successor, and of Voroshilov, emphasized that the “service of information” remains at the basis of the “general line”.
Another observation: the state of the party. Stalin indicated in his report that the party now numbers 1,600,000 members, or 270,000 less than at the 17th Congress. Now, for the past two years (admission to the party was prohibited between the 17th Congress and September 1936), 180,000 new members were admitted into the party. In other words, between the 17th and the 18th Congresses, 460,000 members were expelled from the party!
This shows the scope of the opposition that the Stalinist regime has had to overcome right inside the party itself.
Other data serve to supplement this: they concern the “rejuvenation” of the party cadres. According to Stalin’s report, 500,000 young members of the party had been placed in leading posts of the party and the state.
Stalin explained himself with a fairly cynical candor on this “rejuvenation”:
“Among a part of the old cadres, there is sometimes a tendency to grow hypnotized over the past, to become immobilized because of it, to refuse to see what is new. The young cadres possess ... the sense of the new, a valuable quality ...”
Last updated on 8.8.2006