Stalinism

Marx Engels Lenin Stalin 1933The Soviet Union achieved much in terms of economic development and social gains, considering the backward economy it inherited from the past, but ultimately it failed and collapsed. Did it fail because socialism cannot work?

Marx explained that socialism builds on the most advanced developments of capitalism. But the Russian Revolution broke out in a country where the economy was still relatively backward. It could only have succeeded in the long run if it had become part of a worldwide change of society.

As the wave of revolution that swept the world after 1917 was held back and betrayed by the social democratic leaders – and later because of the mistakes of the Communist leaders – the Soviet Union was left isolated and with limited industrial development. In these conditions, the system degenerated with power being usurped by a privileged bureaucracy, which in turn built what at best could be described as a caricature of genuine socialism, in reality a monstrous totalitarian regime.

Here we provide a number of articles that deal with what the Russian Revolution really was, its subsequent degeneration, the role of Trotsky and the Left Opposition in combating the rising Stalinist bureaucracy; and we also answer the numerous distortions and slanders of bourgeois historians who attempt to depict Stalinism as the inevitable outcome of Lenin’s ideas.

In 1988 Alan Woods interviewed Esteban Volkov (Leon Trotsky's grandson) in a room in the Trotsky Museum in Coyoacan, of which he is the curator. On the night of 24 May 1940, Esteban Volkov, then only 14 years old, was wounded in a brutal machine-gun attack by Stalinist supporters, from which the Trotsky family miraculously escaped alive. Sixty-six years after the murder of Leon Trotsky (20 August 2006), we republished this interview dealing with the various assassination attempts on Trotsky and his family.

It is now fifty years since the publication of the first edition of this work. It was written as a reply to Monty Johnstone, who was a leading theoretician of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Johnstone had published a reappraisal of Leon Trotsky in the Young Communist League's journal Cogito at the end of 1968. Alan Woods and Ted Grant used the opportunity to write a detailed reply (published 12 July 1969) explaining the real relationship between the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky. This was no academic exercise. It was written as an appeal to the ranks of the Communist Party and the Young Communist League to rediscover the truth about Trotsky and return to the original

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The IMT has spent the past year commemorating the March 1919 centennial of the Third (Communist) International's founding. In particular, we celebrate the extraordinary promise and lessons of its first four congresses. But just a few years after it entered the scene of history, the Comintern suffered a sudden, dramatic, and irreversible decline. What happened? How was all that potential squandered and turned into its opposite?

In this talk from the recent Revolution Festival, hosted by Socialist Appeal in Britain, Marie Frederiksen – editor of the Danish Marxist paper 'Revolution' – discusses the impact of the Berlin Wall, which was broken apart 30 years ago today, on 9 November 1989. This marked the beginning of the end for the Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Trotsky, a recent Netflix series produced by Russian state television, is a scandalous misrepresentation of both Trotsky’s life and the October Revolution. Alan Woods and Josh Holroyd respond to this insulting portrayal of Trotsky and the Bolsheviks’ legacy.

"The development of the International Left Opposition is proceeding amidst sharp crises that cast the fainthearted and the short-sighted into pessimism. In reality these crises are completely unavoidable. One has only to read the correspondence of Marx and Engels attentively, or to preoccupy oneself seriously with the history of the development of the Bolshevik Party to realise how complicated, how difficult, how full of contradictions the process of developing revolutionary cadres is."

Prague 1968

The Prague Spring was a movement with the potential to develop into a socialist political revolution against the Communist Party (CP) bureaucracy, possibly with far-reaching consequences. For this reason, over the last half century, the Prague Spring has been slandered by Stalinists, co-opted by liberals, and distorted by both.

In March 1934 Stalin re-criminalised homosexuality across the whole of the Soviet Union. Henceforth anyone involved in homosexual acts could be sent to prison for three to five years. In the early years of the Russian Revolution, however, homosexuality had been legalised – but this is something you will find little mention of in the literature produced by the official Communist Parties after 1934. Today’s Stalinists, who model themselves on Stalin’s regime, have a lot of explaining to do.

We republish a pamphlet (first released in 1987, during the twilight of the Soviet regime), which serves as an invaluable introduction to the events from the October Revolution to the rise of Stalinism in Russia ‒ from which innumerable lessons can be drawn for the class struggle today. It was written by George Collins, then a member of the South African section of the Committee for a Workers’ International.

No other event in human history has been the subject of more distortions, falsehoods and fabrications the Russian Revolution. We publish here Alex Grant's complete list of the 10 biggest downright lies about the Bolsheviks and October...

The Russian revolution changed the course of world history and the last century has been dominated by its consequences. Ted Grant’s book traces the evolution of Soviet Russia from the Bolshevik victory of 1917, through the rise of Stalinism and the political counter-revolution, its emergence as a super-power after the Second World War, and the crisis of Stalinism and its eventual collapse. The book has been updated and edited in the light of new developments and the subsequent re-establishment of capitalism in Russia.

In the second of a series of videos celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Alan Woods - editor of In Defence of Marxism, www.marxist.com - examines the lies and slanders used to attack the Revolution, the Bolsheviks, and the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky.

In the beginning of a series of videos celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Alan Woods - editor of In Defence of Marxism, www.marxist.com - examines the lies and slanders used to attack the Revolution, the Bolsheviks, and the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky. In this first part "in Defence of the Russian Revolution", Alan looks at the gains made by the October Revolution and the planned economy in terms of science, industry, and culture.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. The apologists of capitalism, and their faithful echoes in the labour movement, try to comfort themselves with the thought that the collapse of the USSR signified the demise of socialism. But what failed in Russia was not socialism but a caricature of socialism. Contrary to the oft-repeated slanders, the Stalinist regime was the antithesis of the democratic regime established by the Bolsheviks in 1917.