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 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.

On Monday 17 October, the Morning Star published a review of the new edition of Trotsky’s biography of Stalin written by Andrew Murray. While admitting that “this book has literary and historical merit,” Murray states that “it has much less as an actual biography of Stalin”. How does he justify these claims?

Ninety years ago, on 21st January 1924, Vladimir Lenin, the great Marxist and leader of the Russian Revolution, died from complications arising from an earlier assassin’s bullet. Ever since then there has been a sustained campaign to slander his name and distort his ideas, ranging from bourgeois historians and apologists to various reformists, liberals and assorted anarchists. Their task has been to discredit Lenin, Marxism and the Russian Revolution in the interests of the “democratic” rule of bankers and capitalists.

We here publish the video footage of the debate between Alan Woods - editor of www.marxist.com and author of "Bolshevism: the Road to Revolution" - and Orlando Figes - Professor of History at Birkbeck University and author of "A People's Tragedy" - on the true nature of the Russian Revolution, and what it meant for the people of Russia and the class struggle internationally.

The early symptoms of bureaucratic degeneration in Russia were already noted by Lenin in the last two years of his politically active life. He spent his last months fighting against these reactionary tendencies, leaving behind a vital heritage of struggle in his last letters and articles. The struggle of the anti-Stalinist Left Opposition, led by Trotsky after Lenin's death, really begins here.

In the avalanche of propaganda against “Communism” an idea is often peddled that while preaching equality, the Communist leaders make sure their own personal position is well catered for. What this propaganda is based on is the horrible bureaucratically degenerate Soviet Union under Stalin. Not happy with attacking Stalin, however, they attempt to show that Lenin was no different.

Alan Woods speaking on the subject of Bolshevism - the history of the Bolshevik Party, at the June Marxist School of Socialist Appeal in London.

Fred Weston introducing the discussion on Stalinism at the British Marxist Summer School on 18 June.

An avalanche of books has recently been published to discredit Lenin, Trotsky and the Russian Revolution. First and foremost of these writers is Professor Robert Service. The aim of his latest book on Trotsky is to prove that Bolshevism leads to Stalinism and totalitarianism. In a lead off given to a recent Socialist Appeal Day School in London Alan Woods sets the record straight and explains the huge gulf that divided genuine Bolshevism from the monster of Stalinism that was built on the physical destruction of the Bolshevik party.

An avalanche of books has recently been published to discredit Lenin, Trotsky and the Russian Revolution. First and foremost of these writers is Professor Robert Service. The aim of his latest book on Trotsky is to prove that Bolshevism leads to Stalinism and totalitarianism. Here Rob Sewell sets the record straight and explains the huge gulf that divided genuine Bolshevism from the monster of Stalinism that was built on the physical destruction of the Bolshevik party.

In the early hours of August 24 seventy years ago Germany and Soviet Russia signed a "non-aggression pact", which divided the states of Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet "spheres of influence", effectively slicing Poland into two halves. Ben Peck looks back at what happened and explains why such an incredible event could take place – and the price that was paid.

Alan Woods was interviewed by Sudestada, an Argentine arts, culture and news monthly magazine, on the Russian Revolution and its subsequent degeneration. As Alan has explained, what failed in Russia was not socialism, but a bureaucratic caricature of socialism.