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George Breitman

Same Disastrous Policy to Be Followed – Stalin

Anniversary Speeches Indicate Kremlin
Will Not Adopt Program That Can Save USSR

(15 November 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 46, 15 November 1941, pp. 1 & 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the two speeches he delivered on the occasion of the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Stalin tried to calm the fears of the Soviet masses about the defeats suffered by the USSR in the war against German fascism. He tried to explain away the defeats, and to justify the course the Stalinist regime has followed.

But what he succeeded in doing was to make it plain that the Stalinist bureaucracy has no plan or strategy for victory; that Stalinism is responsible for the terrible Soviet defeats; that in spite of the critical position the workers state occupies today, Stalin refuses to adopt the revolutionary policies which alone can save the Soviet Union in this war.

Stalin admits that by itself the Soviet Union is unable to defeat Hitler, for he explains what he calls the “temporary reverses” by the fact that the Soviet Union is fighting Germany alone, without the military help of allies, without

the aid of a “western front,” and by the fact that the Soviet Union does not have as many tanks and aircraft as Hitler who is able to draw on the resources and industries of most of Europe.

Stalin tries to console the masses with the hope that the “democratic” imperialists will come to the aid of the Soviet Union by opening a “western front.” Aside from thus leaving the fate of the USSR in the hands of the imperialists, Stalin presents no program to save the USSR.

He points to the undeniable instability and contradictions in Hitler’s position, and declares that eventually “in another few months, another half or one year perhaps, Hitlerite Germany must burst of its own weight of crimes.”

He asserts that Hitler’s conquest of Europe has by no means destroyed the resistance and opposition of the European masses to Hitlerism, and declares that the “new order” is “a volcano ready to erupt at any moment and bury the Germany imperialistic house of cards,” and that the rear of Hitler’s army in Germany itself is ready to turn against him.

Thus is indicated the policy which can make up for the shortcomings in Soviet production, and destroy the fascist regime in spite of its advantages in machinery and military experience:

What is required for this is a revolutionary appeal to the German and the European working class to rise up against fascism: the assurance that they will not be alone or isolated in this struggle, but that they will be joined and supported by all the resources of the Red Army and the Soviet Union. What is necessary is a revolutionary appeal that will disintegrate Hitler’s rear, that will move the German masses into action against the system that oppresses them.

Stalin Takes No Step

But Stalin does not breathe even the suggestion of a revolutionary appeal to the German workers. If Hitler’s regime is to be toppled from behind, if Hitler’s doom is “inevitable”, in a few months or a half year or a year, Stalin proposes to wait for history to accomplish it Meanwhile, though the danger to the USSR increases, he himself refuses to take a single step to move the German workers into revolutionary action.

For Stalin has placed his hopes in the hands of the “democratic” imperialists. For fear of alienating them, he will not even suggest, let alone try to aid, a workers’ revolution in Germany.

Indeed, far from doing anything to arouse the German workers in this Way, Stalin’s policies only drive the German masses still closer to Hitler, and help to destroy every possibility of convincing them they must not aid Hitler in the destruction of the workers state.

For Stalin completely identifies the war of the USSR with the imperialist war of Great Britain, and claims that England, the United States and the USSR are in a “single camp,” that “the Soviet Union’ and its allies are waging a war of liberation – a just war calculated for the liberation of the enslaved peoples of Europe and the USSR” and that armies of the USSR, Great Britain and the other allies as armies of liberation.”

Hitler and Goebbels secure the support or at least the non-opposition of the German masses by warning them that although they have known suffering in the war, they will, if Germany loses the war, face even greater suffering in the form of a new Versailles Treaty to crush Germany and make its people pay for the costs of the war. The only way to deprive Hitler of this bludgeon held over the German masses is by showing them that they can escape this terrible prospect even if Hitler loses the war.

But Stalin, by declaring that imperialist Britain wages a just war, and by declaring that the Soviet Union is in one camp with Britain, and by refusing to promise to fight against a new Versailles succeeds only in driving the German masses still closer to Hitler – thus alienating them further from the workers State.

Stalin spoke on the anniversary of the Russian Revolution. But he was careful to avoid all references to the true meaning and tradition of that revolution, which he has trampled on and betrayed.

Trying to show that all was not lost in spite of the defeats suffered in this war under his leadership, Stalin turned back for a moment to the days of the Civil War and the intervention in 1918–20 when the young workers state was almost overthrown.

“At that time almost three-fourths of our country was in the hands of foreign interventionists ... We had no allies, no Red Army – we had only just begun to create it – we experienced a shortage of bread, a shortage of arms, a shortage of clothing. At that time 14 states were pressing against our country, but we did not despair ...”

In spite of its material disadvantages, the Soviet Union was saved. And today, according to Stalin, the Soviet Union is in a much stronger position, so:

“Is it possible then to doubt that we can and must gain victory over the invaders?”

But Stalin dared not tell the truth about the Civil War days. He dared not tell that the Bolsheviks, under Lenin and Trotsky, never for a moment placed reliance on the imperialists, even when momentarily they were allied to them, that at all times they turned to the working class of the world, and particularly the workers in the armies and the countries of the enemy, and called on them to save the workers state.

He does not dare admit that what saved the Soviet Union was this policy of revolutionary war, which neutralised the mechanical and numerical superiority of its enemies’ forces by setting the worker – and peasant-soldiers into action against their own imperialist rulers.

It is not too late to save the Soviet Union, as the experiences of the Civil War days showed. But it can be saved only by the policy of revolutionary war which Stalinism fears and refuses to adopt.

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