First Published:1947 in Volume 7 of the Russian Edition of J. V. Stalin Works
Source: Works, J.V. Stalin, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954, Volume 7, pp. 16-8
Transcription/HTML Markup: Charles Farrell
Online Version: Stalin Reference Archive (marxists.org) 2000
I am late with my reply, but I had no time to reply earlier:
1) I think that you read the article carelessly, otherwise you would certainly have found in it the passage from Ilyich’s article about “the victory of socialism in one country.”
2) If you read the article carefully you will probably understand that the point at issue is not complete victory, but the victory of socialism in general, i.e., driving away the landlords and capitalists, taking power, repelling the attacks of imperialism and beginning to build a socialist economy. In all this, the proletariat in one country can be fully successful; but a complete guarantee against restoration can he ensured only by the “joint efforts of the proletarians in several countries.”
It would have been foolish to have begun the October Revolution in Russia with the conviction that the victorious proletariat of Russia, obviously enjoying the sympathy of the proletarians of other countries, hut in the absence of victory in several countries, “cannot hold out in the face of a conservative Europe.” That is not Marxism, but the most ordinary opportunism, Trotskyism, and whatever else you please. If Trotsky’s theory were correct, Ilyich, who stated that we shall convert NEP Russia into socialist Russia, and that we have “all that is necessary for building a complete socialist society” (see the article “On Co-operation”), would be wrong.
3) Evidently, you failed to note that the published article is part of a “Preface.” Had you noted this, I think you would have understood that the “Preface” must be taken as a whole.
4) The most dangerous thing in our political practice is the attempt to regard the victorious proletarian country as something passive, capable only of marking time until the moment when assistance comes from the victorious proletarians in other countries. Let us assume that the Soviet system will exist in Russia for five or ten years without a revolution taking place in the West; let us assume that, nevertheless, during that period our Republic goes on existing as a Soviet Republic, building a socialist economy under the conditions of NEP* — do you think that during those five or ten years our country will merely spend the time in collecting water with a sieve and not in organising a socialist economy? It is enough to ask this question to realise how very dangerous is the theory that denies the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country.
But does that mean that this victory will be complete, final? No, it does not (see my “Preface”), for as long as imperialist encirclement exists there will always he the danger of military intervention. Nevertheless, it is obvious to everyone that it is the victory and not the defeat of socialism. And there can scarcely be any reason to doubt that at the same time this victory creates the pre-conditions for the victory of the revolution in other countries.
I see that some comrades have not yet abandoned the old Social-Democratic theory that the proletarian revolution cannot be brought about in countries where capitalism is less developed than, say, in Britain or America.
5) I advise you to read again some of Ilyich’s articles in the symposium “Against the Stream,” his pamphlets The Proletarian Revolution and “Left-Wing” Communism, and also his article “On Co-operation.”
With communist greetings,
January 25, 1925
* I am fully justified in making the second assumption because the strength of our Republic is growing and will continue to grow, and the support we are receiving from our Western comrades is increasing and will continue to increase. —J. St.