Works of Stalin 1926

The Possibility of Building Socialism in our Country

Reply to Comrade Pokoyev

Source: J. V. Stalin Works, Vol. VIII, 1926
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, U.S.S.R., 1954
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Comrade Pokoyev,

I am late in replying, for which I apologise to you and your comrades.

Unfortunately, you have not understood our disagreements at the Fourteenth Congress. The point was not at all that the opposition asserted that we had not yet arrived at socialism, while the congress held that we had already arrived at socialism. That is not true. You will not find a single member in our Party who would say that we have already achieved socialism.

That was not at all the subject of the dispute at the congress. The subject of the dispute was this. The congress held that the working class, in alliance with the labouring peasantry, can deal the finishing blow to the capitalists of our country and build a socialist society, even if there is no victorious revolution in the West to come to its aid. The opposition, on the contrary, held that we cannot deal the finishing blow to our capitalists and build a socialist society until the workers are victorious in the West. Well, as the victory of the revolution in the West is rather late in coming, nothing remains for us to do, apparently, but to loaf around. The congress held, and said so in its resolution on the report of the Central Committee [1], that these views of the opposition implied disbelief in victory over our capitalists.

That was the point at issue, dear comrades.

This, of course, does not mean that we do not need the help of the West-European workers. Suppose that the West-European workers did not sympathise with us and did not render us moral support. Suppose that the West-European workers did not prevent their capitalists from launching an attack upon our Republic. What would be the outcome? The outcome would be that the capitalists would march against us and radically disrupt our constructive work, if not destroy us altogether. If the capitalists are not attempting this, it is because they are afraid that if they were to attack our Republic, the workers would strike at them from the rear. That is what we mean when we say that the West-European workers are supporting our revolution.

But from the support of the workers of the West to the victory of the revolution in the West is a long, long way. Without the support of the workers of the West we could scarcely have held out against the enemies surrounding us. If this support should later develop into a victorious revolution in the West, well and good. Then the victory of socialism in our country will be final. But what if this support does not develop into a victory of the revolution in the West? If there is no such victory in the West, can we build a socialist society and complete the building of it? The congress answered that we can. Otherwise, there would have been no point in our taking power in October 1917. If we had not counted on giving the finishing blow to our capitalists, everyone will say that we had no business to take power in October 1917. The opposition, however, affirms that we cannot finish off our capitalists by our own efforts.

That is the difference between us.

There was also talk at the congress of the final victory of socialism. What does that mean? It means a full guarantee against the intervention of foreign capitalists and the restoration of the old order in our country as the result of an armed struggle by those capitalists against our country. Can we, by our own efforts, ensure this guarantee, that is, render armed intervention on the part of international capital impossible? No, we cannot. That is something to be done jointly by ourselves and the proletarians of the entire West. International capital can be finally curbed only by the efforts of the working class of all countries, or at least of the major European countries. For that the victory of the revolution in several European countries is indispensable—without it the final victory of socialism is impossible.

What follows then in conclusion?

It follows that we are capable of completely building a socialist society by our own efforts and without the victory of the revolution in the West, but that, by itself alone, our country cannot guarantee itself against encroachments by international capital—for that the victory of the revolution in several Western countries is needed. The possibility of completely building socialism in our country is one thing, the possibility of guaranteeing our country against encroachments by international capital is another.

In my opinion, your mistake and that of your comrades is that you have not yet found your way in this matter and have confused these two questions.

With comradely greetings,
J. Stalin

P. S. You should get hold of the Bolshevik [2] (of Moscow), No. 3, and read my article in it. It would make matters easier for you.
J. Stalin
February 10, 1926


1. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part II, 1953 pp. 73-82.

2. The magazine Bolshevik, No. 3, dated February 15, 1926.
J. V. Stalin’s work Concerning Questions of Leninism

Bolshevik—theoretical and political magazine, organ of the Central Committee, C.P.S.U.(B.), which began publication in April 1924. Since November 1952 it is published under the title Kommunist.