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Albert Goldman

Where We Stand

(2 August 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 31, 2 August 1941, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

We Must Not Cease Fighting Stalinism

Our party subordinates the struggle against the Stalinist bureaucracy to the struggle against German imperialism. This is the general formulation by which we indicate our contention that the main task is to prevent Hitler from destroying the Soviet Union, from destroying the nationalized property and restoring the capitalist system.

The question that many are anxious to have answered is: in what way do we subordinate the struggle against Stalin? And there undoubtedly are many workers who dislike the methods used by Stalin but whose justifiable fear of a Hitler victory over the Soviet Union is so great that they become impatient with any criticism of Stalin at the present time. Their attitude is somewhat as follows: Forget about Stalin now; wait until Hitler is defeated and then you can continue the struggle against Stalin. In other words these workers would like us not merely to subordinate but to eliminate altogether the struggle against Stalinism.

To show how wrong such an attitude is, it is only necessary to picture the situation if the Stalinist bureaucracy were overthrown, at the present time by a workers’ revolution. Such an occurrence would lead to the immediate restoration of the Soviets and that would mean the mobilization of the efforts of tens of millions of workers, soldiers and peasants. At the present time the workers and peasants have no organizations through which they can exert their own efforts. Everything is handed down to them from above. The obstinate resistance of the Red Army shows that the Russian people understand the meaning of a Hitler victory and are determined to fight to the death. But their enthusiasm, their self-sacrifice and their initiative can be harnessed adequately only through democratically-elected Soviets where their representatives would have full freedom to formulate, discuss and criticize.

A victory of the workers against the Stalinist bureaucracy would release the tens of thousands of able and loyal revolutionists from the prisons and concentration camps of the GPU, It could not bring back to life the tens of thousands slain by the Kremlin fiend, but those who are alive could take their rightful place in army and in industry and constitute a tremendous aid in the struggle against Hitler.

The overthrow of the Stalinist bureaucracy would result, if it were not preceded by, the creation of a Bolshevik party that would guide the struggle against Hitler in the same way that the party of Lenin and Trotsky successfully led the struggle against the White Guard and imperialist forces in the Civil War. The struggle against Hitler would be carried on in a revolutionary manner, giving the workers of Germany and the workers of the whole world a revolutionary goal. Consistent revolutionary propaganda would inevitably result in the disintegration of Hitler’s armies. The slaves of Hitler would begin to feel assured that a defeat of Hitler would not mean a victory of British and American imperialism but a Socialist United States of Europe.

In a word a victory of the workers and peasants against the Stalinist bureaucracy would mean the revival of the spirit of 1917 and would assure victory against Hitler. In the last analysis, therefore, the struggle against Stalin must be continued as a method of defending the Soviet Union. He who wants to forget and eliminate that struggle actually weakens the Soviet Union.

We Are the Best Defenders of the USSR

Granted that the overthrow of the Stalinist bureaucracy would be of tremendous aid in the victory of the Soviet Union, does not the struggle against Stalinism interfere with the struggle against Hitler? And surely any attempt to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy would leave the door wide open for a Hitler victory. These are the arguments most frequently levelled against us. A proper explanation can easily dispel all doubts and make our position crystal clear.

In the first place it must be understood that the Trotskyists would under no circumstances attempt to overthrow Stalin without the support of a decisive majority of the soldiers, workers and peasants. So long as we do not have that majority, so long must our struggle against Stalin be limited to education and propaganda. And it must be remembered that in our propaganda we stress not only the crimes of Stalin but above all the necessity of defending the Soviet Union unconditionally. If given the opportunity, a Trotskyist would show the greatest courage-under attack by the capitalist enemy. We would unhesitatingly root out all defeatism in the Red Army and in the civil population. In action we would disprove the contention that our struggle against Stalin in any way weakens the Soviet Union.

And should our comrades in the Soviet Union, in the course of the war, gain the majority of workers and peasants, they would attempt to overthrow Stalin only if that attempt would not endanger the Soviet Union. It is in this way that our formula of subordinating the struggle against Stalin to the struggle against imperialism shows itself most clearly. Before attempting to overthrow Stalin, revolutionary Marxists would consider the situation at the front. Only revolutionary defeatists, that is, counter-revolutionaries in the Soviet Union, would attempt to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy regardless of the effect such an attempt would have on the military front.

Our main line is defending the Soviet Union unconditionally. It is because of this general line that we subordinate the struggle against the Stalinist bureaucracy to the struggle against the capitalist enemy. And it is because of this general line that we would, if we had the majority of workers and peasants behind us, attempt to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy, provided such an attempt would not afford the capitalist enemy an opportunity for victory.

He who does not continue the struggle against Stalinism during the war is not doing his utmost to defend the Soviet Union. And he who does not defend the Soviet Union in spite of Stalin, is, whether he knows it or not, a counter-revolutionary.

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