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Albert Goldman

Where We Stand

(12 July 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 28, 12 July 1941, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Soviet Union’s Military Limitations

It is undoubtedly true that even under the best of circumstances the Soviet Union, in a strictly military sense, could not, at this time, be a match for Germany. By the best of circumstances is meant a situation where the Soviet Union would be led by a party such as brought victory to the Russian workers and peasants in the years of 1917–1920.

Even if Lenin and Trotsky were alive and guiding the destinies of the Soviet Union, the military strength of Germany would be superior to that of the Soviet Union. For the simple reason that the military strength of a nation depends in the long rung upon the development of its industries and transportation. Nothing that Lenin and Trotsky could have done would have succeeded in raising the general productive capacity of the Soviet Union to a level equal to that of Germany. The industrial capacity of the Soviet Union would, be far greater than it is, had the conditions during the Lenin-Trotsky regime continued to prevail up until now. The destruction of workers’ democracy by the Stalinist bureaucracy has been the greatest single factor in retarding the development of Soviet industry. For under a system of planning the right of the workers to check and criticize is a guarantee of the proper fulfillment of the plans. Take that right away and substitute for it the uncontrolled will of the bureaucrat and planned production loses a very large proportion of its effectiveness.

The Stalinist bureaucracy to a large extent nullified the tremendous potentialities of planned economy. Both the quantity and quality of products (especially quality) suffered because the Soviet masses had the right only to execute the plans of the bureaucrats. The strength of the Soviet Union would have been immeasurably greater, from the point of view of its industrial capacity, had the masses been directly involved in the formulation and execution of plans.

In addition to weakening the Soviet Union on the industrial front, Stalin has sapped the strength of the Red Army by removing and executing over ninety per cent of the highest and most qualified commanders. With those for whom black is white and white black, the removal of so many generals and admirals constitutes strengthening of the army, but people of average intelligence and not blinded by a fanatical loyalty to Stalinism will easily recognize the demoralizing effect that the removal of so many higher officers must necessarily have had on the Red Army.

Even if one should accept the preposterous and vicious falsehood that all the commanders executed were fascists it would still leave an army without the services of officers who had the necessary experience and ability to lead it against such a powerful instrument as the Germany army.

Do these facts mean that the Soviet Union, under any circumstances, would be destined to defeat? Not at all!

Revolutionary Policy Could Defeat Hitler

For the Soviet Union, were it under revolutionary Marxist leadership, is in the possession of a weapon that is denied to every capitalist country, the weapon of revolutionary propaganda, the powerful appeal to the masses over the heads, of their rulers. Revolutionary Marxists at the head of the Soviet Union would utilize that weapon to its fullest extent and it is this weapon that would more than compensate for the comparative military weakness of the Soviet Union.

Stalin is not capable of utilizing and will not utilize this all-powerful weapon. This is already indicated by the shocking fact that the heroic traditions of the October Revolution and of the Civil War period have not been appealed to.

Instead, the Russian workers and peasants are appealed to on the basis of traditions that have nothing to do with their glorious revolutionary past. Here are a few gems gleaned from the Daily Worker:

“Everybody knows how valiantly the Russians fought during the battle on the ice of Peipus Lake, April 5, 1242, when the Knights of the Teutonic Order were routed – the distant predecessors of today’s fascists.” (Daily Worker, June 25)

“The whole world knows of the splendid historical victory of the Russians and their allies- – the Poles and Lithuanians – near Tannenberg in the fifteenth century, in July 1410. The destiny of the Slav world was at stake then ... The German Teutonic knights threw the flower of their forces into the fight ... The battle was a fierce one. The Germans were utterly routed. From then on the Teutonic Order was shattered and went to its inglorious end ...” (Daily Worker, June 26)

“In the 16th century, the troops of Ivan the Terrible routed the German invaders in the Baltic ... The struggle for the Baltic states was a long one, running into tens of years, a struggle full of unparalleled heroism on the part of the Russians ...” (Daily Worker, June 26)

It is obvious that Stalin is avoiding anything remotely connected with the revolutionary tradition of the Russian workers. He wants to assure his capitalist allies of his respectability. Whereas Churchill and Roosevelt openly announce their hostility to Communism (which they of course confuse with Stalinism) Stalin has not a word to say about capitalism.

Indeed, the glorious traditions of the October revolution are completely alien to the Stalinist bureaucracy. But they are a living part of the Soviet Union, inspiring the Russian workers and peasants to a fierce struggle against the capitalist enemy. If the Russian masses win it will be in spite of the Stalinist bureaucracy.

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