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John G. Wright

Stalin’s New List of Scapegoats

Heads Roll for His Bankruptcy

List of Purged Is, in Reality, a List of Industries Which Are in Dire Crisis

(March 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 9, 1 March 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Maxim Litvinov has been expelled from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Public notice has been served on Premier and Commissar of Foreign Affairs Molotov (by the purge of his wife) and to Commissar of Railways and former brother-in-law of Stalin, L. Kaganovich (by the censure of his brother, former Defense Industries Commissar M. Kaganovich), that the ashcan is ready for them. Six out of 72 members of the Central, Committee and 15 out of 68 alternates have been purged, and nine members expelled from the Centra! Auditing Commission. On this the 18th Party Conference has, of course, set its “unanimous” seal of approval.

In Stalin’s system, all failures are “accounted” for by scapegoats. Each of those purged or censured symbolizes a major catastrophe of the Kremlin regime.

With the sole exception of Litvinov, the various dignitaries involved in the purge held high posts not only in the party but in the key Peoples’ Commissariats. The crisis convulsing the economy controlled by these Commissariats is indicated by the purge of these scapegoats.

Compare Stalin’s Boasts With Those Purged!

All the Stalinist boasts of successes of agriculture, for example, are exposed as lies by the single fact that I.A. Benedictov, the Peoples’ Commissar of Agriculture, was one of those expelled from the Central Committee. Was that expulsion Benedictov’s reward for the bumper crop allegedly harvested in 1940?

I.A. Likhachov, another deposed member of the Central Committee, was the Peoples’ Commissar of Medium Machine Building. He was removed from the Commissariat last October, which testifies eloquently to the catastrophic conditions in this important branch of industry.

N.M. Antselovich, another expelled C.C. member, was at the same time removed from his post as Peoples’ Commissar of Timber Industry. He is Stalin’s scapegoat for “shortcomings” in this particular field.

E.A. Schadenko, who was “demoted” to the position of alternate, was Vice-Commissar of Defense. This speaks volumes about the collapse of the defense industry, which was militarized last December. If we refrain from listing the others it is only in order to avoid repetition.

The Daily Worker itself published the news that, in addition to the expulsions, seven Peoples’ Commissars were warned to “improve” the functioning of their Commissariats, namely:

  1. The People’s Commissariat of Aircraft.
  2. The People’s Commissariat of Munitions.
  3. The People’s Commissariat of Electrical Industry.
  4. The People’s Commissariat of Chemical Industry.
  5. The People’s Commissariat of Marine Transport.
  6. The People’s Commissariat of River Transport.
  7. The People’s Commissariat of Fishing Industry.

To this list must be added the following partial table of those Commissariats which were purged last October and November, i.e., four months prior to the Conference:

And so forth and so on.

Short Life for GPU and Army Heads

Many of these Commissariats were purged not once but several times in the period since the Finnish invasion.

For instance in June 1940 Stalin completely reorganized the Commissariat of War. Shaposhnikov the then Chief of the Red Army’s General Staff was replaced by one E.A. Meretskov. reportedly the hero of the break through the Mannerheim line. Meretskov was feted, decorated and raised to the rank of General. After a tenure of less than eight months, he was removed from office. On February 13, 1941, two days before the Conference convened, he was replaced by one G.K. Zhukov, who was hastily elevated at the Conference to the post of alternate on the Central Committee. Meretskov’s name wasn’t even mentioned during the proceedings!

Stalin apparently finds it most difficult to stabilize the GPU. This main pillar of his regime 1941, when one Merkulov was appointed in place of Beria, as Peoples’ Commissar of State Security, i.e., the GPU. Merkulov lasted less than a month, to be exact some 21 days, to be still more exact he was officially removed on February 22, 1941. His successor is as yet unknown.

A Crude Attempt to Cover Up the Debacle

Immediately after the adjournment of the Conference – at which the main reporter, Malenkov, refrained from summarizing, in emulation, no doubt, of Stalin himself who kept his mouth altogether shut – a plenary Session of the “reorganized” Central Committee was held. To cover up the bankruptcy involuntarily revealed at the five-day Conference, the plenum hastened to “project a 15 Year Plan.”

If the Third Five Year Plan has collapsed, then the thing to do is to cover up the debacle with a Fifteen Year Plan!

“Speaking of sensational news,” shrieked the Daily Worker, “word has just arrived that the Soviet Union is now embarking on a FIFTEEN YEAR PLAN. What capitalist statesman,” continued this brazen mouthpiece of Stalin, “can even look that far ahead – no less plan for it?” (February 23, emphasis in the original)

Hitler’s motto: The more monstrous the lie, the more readily will people believe it.

Here is the plan Stalin projects for the Soviet workers for the current year. “The 1941 plan.” declared Voznessensky, one of those who took the floor at the Conference, “provides for an increase in labor productivity by 12 per cent with the average wage increase per worker of 6.5 percent.” This means that for every “12 per cent” of his 1941 output, every worker receives not 12 per cent in terms of his 1940 wages but 5.5 percent less. In other words, still another wage cut for the Soviet workers! “This relation,” continued Voznessensky, “between the increase in labor productivity and the average wage is the source of the lowering cost of production.” (Daily Worker, February 23)

The parasites in the Kremlin know of no other way to lower the costs of production than to drive ever lower the living standards of the masses. On the other hand, the administrators, engineers, and foremen will receive special bonuses, rewards, etc., as an incentive to speed up the workers and child laborers.

The Masses Will Not Endure It

Stalin and his flunkeys welcome such a perspective – for 15 more years! – but they are obviously reckoning without the Soviet masses. Stalin’s bid for an additional decade and a half will meet the same fate at the hands of the Soviet workers as will Hitler’s plan to establish Fascist rule for one thousand years in Germany at the hands of the German workers.

As if to further underscore their contempt for the American workers, Browder-Minor and Co. editorially advertised Voznessensky’s report as a “Special Treat” for the readers of the Daily Worker. (Feb. 22)

Stalin undoubtedly has other “special treats” to dish up during the sessions of the Supreme Council of the USSR.

Last updated: 4 October 2015