MIA: Subject Archive: Stalinism: Critiques of Stalinism


Original photograph (left) taken in 1919. Doctored photograph (right) shows Trotsky and Kamenev air-brushed out.



Trotskyism is a Marxist theory whose adherents aim to be in the vanguard of the working class, particularly as opposed to Stalinism and Social Democracy. When opposed to Stalinism, Trotskyists place emphasis in their objective of eliminating Stalinist bureaucratic rule; in opposition to Social Democracy, Trotskyists advance the cause of militant workers revolution. [Definition]

Leon Trotsky
First Menshevik, later Bolshevik revolutionary. As commissar of war led the Red Army to defeat the Entente in their invasion of Soviet Russia. Developed the theory of the Permanent Revolution, and helped establish the Fourth International. [Biography]
  1923: The New Course
  1927-31: Problems of the Chinese Revolution
  1928: The Third International After Lenin
  1931: The Permanent Revolution & Results and Prospects
  1936: The Revolution Betrayed
  1937: Stalinism and Bolshevism
  1937: The Stalin School of Falsification

James Cannon
American, IWW organiser, later helped create the US Communist Party. In the 1920s became a Trotskyist, and helped create the US Socialist Workers Party. [Biography]
  1947: American Stalinism and Anti-Stalinism
Tony Cliff
Palestinian Jewish Trotskyist, developed critique of Stalinist Russia as a form of “bureaucratic state capitalism”, laid the basis of the theory of ‘deflected’ permanent revolution and the ‘permanent’ arms economy, founder of International Socialist Tendency.[Biography]
  1948: The Nature of Stalinist Russia
  1956: Russia From Stalin To Khrushchev
  1956: Russia: A Marxist Analysis

Ernest Mandel
Belgian Trotskyist. Founder and leader of United Secretariat of the Fourth International, renowned Marxist economist. [Biography]
  1947: Stalinism — How to Understand It and How to Fight It
  1951: The Question of Stalinism

Raymond Challinor
Marxist historian of the British labour movement
  1977: The Origins of British Bolshevism

Left Communists

The Left Communists were those Marxists who supported the 1917 Russian Revolution, but differed with Lenin and Trotsky over a number of issues including the formation of the Soviet government in the U.S.S.R., the tactics of the Comintern in Europe and America, the role to be given to autonomous and spontaneous organisations of the working class as opposed to the working class political parties, participation in Parliament, the relationship with the trade unions and the trade union leadership, and "national liberation" movements.

Amadeo Bordiga
Italian Left Communist. Although a vociferous defender of Lenin, the party form, and the Russian Revolution, Bordiga objected to many of the tactics of the Communist International. After the Second World War, wrote at length to defend the thesis that the Soviet Union never had a socialist economy and that it and the other "Communist" countries were in reality a form of capitalist society. [Biography]
  1952: Dialogue with Stalin

Paul Mattick
German Left Communist, later lived in the U.S.. Main exponent of “Council Communism” and opponent of idea of Revolution being led by a political party. [Biography]
  1947: Bolshevism and Stalinism
  1949: Stalin and German Communism
  1951: Stalin's Frame-Up System and the Moscow Trials
Otto Rühle
German Left Communist who voted with Karl Liebknecht against the war credits and was a founding member of the German Communist Party. [Biography]
  1939: The Struggle Against Fascism Begins with the Struggle Against Bolshevism

Marxist Humanists

The Marxist Humanists were mostly intellectuals and writers, who reacted against the simplistic and objectivist Marxism of the Stalinist governments of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, from the 1960s in particular.

Raya Dunayevskaya
Marxist Humanist, born in the Ukraine in 1910 and moved with her parents to Chicago in 1920 to escape famine; expelled from the US Communist Party at age 14. Critiqued Lenin’s theory of the Party being the vanguard. [Biography]
  1949: Stalinists Falsify Marxism Anew
C. L. R. James
West Indian, Afro Caribbean. Lucid dialectician, historian, novelist, & playwright. Stressed the importance of non-white workers to the revolutionary movement, foresaw the civil rights movement decades before it got underway.[Biography]
  1949: Stalinism and Negro History

Additional Critiques

Nikita Khrushchev
Khrushchev was appointed First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in September 1953, six months after Stalin’s death. In January 1956 he delivered the famous ‘secret speech’ at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU, denouncing Stalin’s crimes. In his speech Khrushchev spoke of the murder of political opponents, criminal misleadership in the War and systematic rewriting of history. [Biography]
  1956: Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U.

Filemon ‘Ka Popoy’ Lagman
Filipino Communist. Led the split in the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1991 over strategy of guerilla warfare. Advocated the orientation to the workers movement, combining parliamentary and extra-parliamentary means of struggle. [Biography]
  1994: PPW: A New-Type Revolution of the Wrong Type
Andy Blunden
Blunden is a member of the Marxists Internet Archive Collective. A former member of the Workers Revolutionary Party, he now participates in the Independent Social Research Network, a network of philosophers and social theorists, both within and outside the academy, committed to study of problems of social justice in the late capitalist world. [Biography]
  1993: Stalinism: Its Origins & Future

Tom O’Lincoln
Tom O’Lincoln is an Australian writer and historian. After an early radicalisation at Berkeley in the sixties and in the German SDS, Tom was a founder of the “international socialist” current in Australia. Today he is a member of Socialist Alternative. [Biography]
  1985: Into The Mainstream