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C. Charles

The Stalinist Theory of
“Socialism in One Country”

Soviet Disasters, Defeat of Revolutions Are Fruits of This Theory

(22 November 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 47, 22 November 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The defeats of the Red Army are the latest fruits of the false “theory of socialism in one country,” which is the fundamental idea of the ruling Stalinist clique.

False theories bring tragic results.

For example, many so-called socialists preached the idea that the way to achieve socialism was by a gradual transformation of the capitalist governments and industry, bit by bit.

When they had the opportunity, they refused to take control of the government and place industry under the control of the workers. Instead they strengthened capitalism when it was weak, so that they could, according to their illusion, gradually transform capitalism into socialism. They became doctors of capitalism instead of its undertakers.

Their fallacious theories together with the treachery of Stalinism led to the victory of fascism.

Theory of the Russian Revolution

The greatest historical achievement of the human face, the Soviet Union, was the result of the correct theories of Bolshevism under Lenin and Trotsky.

The central idea of the Russian revolution, was that the Russian workers’ and peasants’ revolution was the first of a series of revolutions that would establish socialism in the entire world. Through the dark year of hunger and intervention this inspired the Soviet masses. The Russian workers in making their revolution knew that unless the workers of other countries, more industrially developed, joined hands with the Soviet Union, first in a socialist United States of Europe and then a socialist world, the Russian revolution would in the last analysis go under. Either capitalism would conquer the Soviet Union or the workers of tire world would vanquish international capitalism.

Stalin, who was practically unknown during the period of the Russian Revolution, came forward with a “new” idea after the defeat of the German workers in 1923. the death of Lenin in 1924 and the coming to power of a privileged bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. This bureaucracy was interested only in maintaining its own power rather than in achieving the aims of the revolution. Stalin’s “new” idea was the theory of “socialism in one country.” In the words of Stalin this meant:

Stalin’s Theory

“... that the proletariat, having seized power in Soviet Russia, can use that power for the establishment of a fully socialized society there. For this ... it is not essential that there should have been a victorious proletarian revolution in these lands.” – Problems of Leninism, by Joseph Stalin

In other words, Stalin held that the Soviet Union could achieve socialism by itself if allowed to exist in peace by the imperialists.

Let us first examine this idea.

Modern economic life is marked by internationalism. For any industry to function it must have raw materials that come from all over the world.

Even the United States, the most developed and richest country in the world, would weaken and decline economically if it did not import products from the rest of the world.

Not only does every industrial country buy raw materials but increasingly it buys finished goods as well.

Just as it must import, so must every country sell to the rest of the world, to keep its industries in operation.

With greater industrial development comes greater connection with the world. Primitive economy has little of no trade or exchange. Modern economy is based on an ever-increasing world trade and international division of labor.

Socialism is more advanced than capitalism. It must develop and extend the international division of labor already achieved under capitalism, thereby giving greater well-being to the people of the entire globe. Under socialism, we will not go backward into a self-contained, national economy, as Stalin with the reactionary theory of “socialism in one country” proposes, but to even greater internationalism.

The practical results of the theory of “socialism in one country” Were disastrous to the workers of the world, including those of the Soviet Union.

What Happened to the C.I.

Since socialism could, according to Stalin, be achieved if the capitalist countries did not intervene, it was no longer vitally necessary for the workers of other countries to overthrow capitalism in order to achieve socialism in the USSR. All that was necessary was that the Soviet Union not be attacked.

From this idea it was a short step to make of the Communist International an organization whose primary aim was to defend the Soviet Union instead of overthrowing capitalism. And from this, it was an even shorter step to make of the Communist International an organization whose only aim was to defend the Soviet Union.

The defense of the Soviet Union is of course a duty of every worker. Every attack on the Soviet Union by capitalism, which in its search for profits would like to open the Soviet Union as a market for their goods and as a source of raw material, and to enslave the workers there, must be beaten back by the workers of the Soviet Union and the workers of the capitalist countries.

Capitalist Attitude to the USSR

The capitalists have, besides their economic purposes, a political aim in desiring to smash the Soviet Union. They hate and fear the Soviet Union because they are afraid that the example of the Soviet people who threw out the Czars and the capitalists, will be an inspiration to the workers of the capitalist nations.

But the real defense of the Soviet Union can only come when the workers of other countries of Western Europe and the United States establish their own government and join hands with the Soviet Union. The real security of the Soviet Union is world socialism. The real defenders of the Soviet Union are the fighting, anti-capitalist workers. The real defense of the Soviet Union is part of the workers struggle against capitalism.

Under the theory that he could build a complete socialist society if he were not attacked, Stalin sold out working class movements all over the world in return for pacts with the capitalist governments. He placed his hope in defending the Soviet Union, not on the workers movement all over the world, but on agreements and alliances with this or that capitalist nation.

These capitalist powers demanded from Stalin in return for diplomatic pacts that Stalin through his control of the Communist parties stifle the militancy of the workers, and even put down workers’ revolts.

No Trotskyist is opposed to the Soviet Union making pacts with capitalist countries. We are opposed to selling out the working class as a price for these pacts. A capitalist government does not change its reactionary character because it signs a pact with the Soviet Union. It is still an enemy of the workers, the Soviet Union, and of socialism, and the workers must continue their struggle against it.

Elsewhere in The Militant Comrade Lydia Beidel in her series of articles on the Crimes of Stalin is telling, country by country, some of the consequences of the theory of “socialism in one country.”

I will just give three examples to show how the Stalinist policy not only weakens the struggle of the workers of the world but also the defense of the Soviet Union.

The Franco-Soviet Pact

In 1934, when Germany under Hitler was arming itself for the present war, France and the Soviet Union signed a military pact which was directed against Germany.

Part of this pact called for the cessation of the struggle of the workers in France against French capitalism. The French workers, who could easily have taken government power then if they had a correct leadership, were told to support the French capitalists who were “friendly” to the Soviet Union.

Finally, as was to be expected, after the French working class was smashed, French capitalism turned upon the Soviet Union and broke its pact with it.

In America, the workers are told by the Communist Party that they must not go on strike for better wages or conditions and that they must support Roosevelt because Roosevelt and Stalin are coming together on the international scene. This is Stalin’s method of defending the Soviet Union. He does not build up the working class struggle for immediate gains and for the ultimate achievement of socialism. Instead he tells the workers through his Communist Party to follow Roosevelt. The end will be that the American capitalists will try to crush the independent workers’ movement, and then turn upon the Soviet Union.

The tragic results of the theory of socialism in one country come out most clearly in relation to the present war between Hitler and the Soviet Union.

In order to meet Hitler’s attack Stalin was forced to form an alliance with British imperialism. Everyone knows that Churchill hates the Soviet Union and the workers’ cause as much as does Hitler. Churchill and British capitalism seek the defeat of the Soviet Union at the same time as the defeat of Hitler, so that Great Britain can dominate the world.

Churchill and the USSR

Churchill will inevitably turn against the Soviet Union. Yet, in order to get this pact with Churchill, Stalin forces the Communist Party of Great Britain to give up its struggle against Churchill. Stalinism lulls the British workers to sleep with fairy tales about Churchill and English imperialism and tells the workers they should not struggle for a workers government.

Stalin gives this in return for a piece of paper which bitter experience shows the capitalists have no qualms about tearing up and throwing in Stalin’s face after he has done the dirty work.

Not only does Stalin give up the struggle against the capitalists of Great Britain, he does not even struggle against the capitalist class of Germany, which put Hitler in power. He does not address any appeals through the Communist International to the German masses to rise against German capitalism and establish a Union of Socialist Soviet Republics of Russia and Germany. He does not dare do so, because if he did, Churchill would object. Churchill does not want to overthrow German fascist capitalism; he does not even want this idea spread around; he wants to eliminate only an imperialist rival, not the system of capitalism itself.

Because Churchill objects the Stalinist International does not carry on effective international socialist propaganda against German fascism to arouse the workers of Germany to overthrow Hitler, and thereby disintegrate the fascist rear.

Stalin and the German Workers

Stalin tells the German workers to overthrow Hitler, not with the idea of establishing a workers government in Germany but with the idea of bringing back the capitalist republic. Stalin goes only this far. The German workers, however, know that the capitalist republic only brought unemployment and crisis to them. They cannot be rallied to fight against Hitler with the slogan of a capitalist republic.

The ideal of world socialism that inspired the Russian masses in 1917 is the only thing that can arouse the German masses against Hitlerism. Stalin, with his theory of “socialism in one country” and fear of antagonizing Churchill, alienates the German workers and peasants, the real friends of the Soviet Union, by adopting the capitalist war-program of Roosevelt and Churchill which holds out only a new Versailles Treaty to the German people in case of defeat.

The theory of “socialism in one country” has resulted in the defeats of the workers of the world and the weakening of the Soviet Union through these defeats.

The future of the Soviet Union depends on the establishment of workers and farmers governments in Europe. For this to take place the workers must reject the theory of “socialism in one country” which has resulted in so many defeats in the past 17 years and put in its place the original idea of the Russian Revolution: world socialism!

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