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John G. Wright

How Stalin Celebrated
the 23rd Anniversary

Not One Mention of the Fight Against Fascism
Was Included Among the 43 Slogans
Issued For the November 7th Ceremony

(4 January 1941)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 5 No. 1, 4 January 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On the occasion of the Twenty-Third Anniversary of the October Revolution, Stalin prohibited the raising of a single anti-fascist slogan in the Soviet Union. Likewise taboo were any and all anti-war or anti-imperialist slogans. As a matter of fact, the mere mention of fascism, war, imperialism, victims of fascism, colonial peoples, class-war prisoners, refugees, was proscribed. In the 42 official slogans issued by the Kremlin for the November 7th celebrations, capitalism itself, let alone the bourgeoisie, is not referred to directly.

The sole mention of the world situation was contained in the following slogan: “Long Live the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Government! The policy of Peace Between Peoples and Assuring the Security of Our Fatherland!” In other words: Long Live the Hitler-Stalin pact!

Even such a ritualistic slogan repeated for years as “Long Live the Soviet Power in the Whole World!” was omitted in 1940.

In 1935, at the beginning of the “People’s Front” policy – remember? – the slogans issued by Stalin for the Eighteenth Anniversary included: “Our Flaming Greetings to the Proletarians and Toilers of France, the Vanguard Fighters Against Fascism, Against Imperialist War!” In 1940 – silence?

Also, in 1935, “Bolshevik Greetings to the Revolutionary Proletariat of Germany! Long Live the Heroic Communist Party of Germany! Long Live Comrade THAELMANN! Let Us Tear Him From the Clutches of the Fascist Hangmen!” In 1940, the Kremlin was too busy shaking the hands of Fascist diplomats to worry about Thaelmann, the German Communist Party, the Spanish people, or any other victims of Stalin’s treacherous and fatal policies.

In 1935 the Kremlin, while selling oil to Mussolini’, still remembered to send greetings to the “Popular Masses of Abyssinia, Courageously Defending Their Independence.” China then received two greetings: 1) “Fraternal Greetings to the Heroic Working Class and all the Toiling Masses of China. Long Live the Communist Party of China!”; 2) “The Imperialists are Dividing and Enslaving China! Greetings to the Chinese People Fighting for Their Emancipation and Independence!” In 1940, the colonial peoples are beneath the Kremlin’s notice.

In 1935 so many slogans against Fascism were launched that to really do them justice we would have to reprint entire issues of Pravda (not to mention the Daily Worker). Let the following suffice: “Fascism is the Most Savage Offensive of Capitalism Against the Toiling Masses!”; “Fascism – this Means War of Aggression!”; “Fascism – This Means Hunger, Poverty, Misery!”; “Down With Fascism! Down With Capitalism!”; “Fuse Into a Single United Front For the Struggle Against Fascism – The Bitterest Enemy of AU Peoples!” and so forth, and so on. In 1940 – silence.

What, then, was the content of the 42 slogans of the Kremlin in 1940? It was mostly “greetings.” Thus, the workers, engineers and technicians of Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metallurgy received greetings with an injunction: “Fight to Increase the Production of Metal! Fight for its Quality!” The workers, engineers, etc. of the Machine Building Industry were greeted: – More and Better Machinery! Workers, etc. of the Fuel and Electric Industries – More and Better Fuel! More and Better Electric Energy! Workers, etc. of the Chemical industry – More Chemicals! Workers, etc. of the Building Trades, Build More and Better, and Cheaper! Workers, etc. of the Light and Textile Industries – “More Calico, Silk, Cloth, Knitgoods, Footwear, and Clothing for the Citizens of the Soviet Land!” Workers, etc. of State and Cooperative Trade Network – “Better Service to the Soviet Consumer!” “Fight For Cultural Soviet Trade in City and Country!” Etcetera. (Pravda, November 4, 1940)

Nor were the collective farmers forgotten. They got greetings, too, with orders for bigger and better crops, and, in particular, more meat.

A Few Stiff Demands Are Incorporated

Another set of slogans dispensed with greetings and simply raised “demands”: 1) “Create Mighty State Labor Reserves for Industry and Transport!” In other words, Long Live the October 2nd Laws Instituting Child Labor in the Soviet Union! 2) “The Struggle Against Laggards and Disorganizers of Production is the Struggle for Strengthening the Might of Our Fatherland and Its Red Army. Long Live Labor Discipline and Exemplary Order in the Enterprises of Our Fatherland!” In other words, the workers were told to give three cheers for the June 26 labor laws which enslaved them, and which they are bitterly opposing.

The list of “Long-Live” slogans is too long to exhaust. A few will suffice:

  1. Long Live the Soviet Trade Unions! (purged in July)
  2. Long Live the Komsomols! (purged in July)
  3. Long Live Our Working Class! (chained to the factories)
  4. Long Live the Collective Peasantry! (failed to fulfill quotas of grain deliveries to the state)
  5. Long Live the Soviet Intellectuals! (now being purged)
  6. Long Live the Communist Party of the Soviet Union! (now being purged, with the mass purge scheduled to be consummated by February 15, 1941, when the Eighteenth Party Conference convenes)

Two Significant Slogans to Examine

There are, however, two slogans among the 42 that merit special, notice. First, there is the rather unexpected and sudden reference to “Our Socialist Espionage Service – the CHEKA,” in connection with a slogan which calls for the strengthening of the Red Army. The Cheka, as is well known, was originally organized in the period of the Civil War. The Kremlin’s secret police were first labelled the GPU and then renamed the NKVD because the other name had become so abhorrent. Why this return in 1940 to the Cheka? Is it to strike greater terror among the populace? Or is it a direct threat that policeterror is to be intensified and supplemented by martial courts? Undoubtedly, both the one and the other.

The second slogan follows verbatim:

“Let Us Unfold the Criticism of Our Inadequacies! Let Us Strengthen Still More the Might and Organized Power of Our State!”

Now, on the surface this may seem only an innocuous incantation of Stalin’s “Bolshevik Self-Criticism” – but it is nothing of the sort. This ominous slogan quite clearly demands a greater centralization of power, and a further “strengthening” of the totalitarian apparatus. All “criticism” has been “unfolding” precisely in this direction. The coming weeks will reveal just how Stalin proposes to reinforce in his own two hands the “Might and Organized Power of Our State.”

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Last updated: 16 November 2018