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.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia, we are here reprinting an article by Alan Woods, first written on September 4, 1968, and published in the Winter edition of the Spark, in which he clearly relates the momentous events that shook the Stalinist regimes and explains their significance.

Leon Trotsky's murder was no accident or spontaneous action by the dictator Stalin, but a monstrous preconceived act that was the culmination of a murder campaign against the whole of the old Bolshevik leadership of the revolution and those who stood by the genuine ideas of Marxism. We republish this article published in Militant in 1985.

This article written in 1945 analyses the relationship between the Soviet state and the Russian Orthodox Church. There was a clear dividing line between Lenin’s approach to this question and the zig-zag policy later adopted by Stalin. First published in Workers International News, October 1945.

Yesterday marked the 65th anniversary of the death of Leon Trotsky. He had been brutally struck down on August 20, 1940 by the hand of an assassin, an agent of Joseph Stalin, and rushed to hospital where he died at 7.25 p.m. the following day. He was sixty years old. On this commemoration, Rob Sewell takes a look at Trotsky’s life.

In 1946 the perspectives of the then leadership of the Fourth International were that through “the combined economic, political and diplomatic pressure and the military threats of American and British imperialism” the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union could collapse. The complete opposite was the truth. Ted Grant, together with the leadership of the RCP, attempted to correct this mistaken prognosis. Here we provide the historical 1946 documentation.

We remember all those thousands of genuine Communists who perished in Stalin’s camps, butchered simply for defending the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky. Old Bolsheviks like Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin were forced to confess to crimes they had not committed. These famous victims were only the tip of the iceberg. Not remembered are the thousands of Trotskyists who languished in brutal concentration camps. They were brave and defiant to the end.

As the old Soviet archives are opened up and studied, more material is being made available about what happened in Russia immediately after the revolution. Myths have been created about events like the Kronstadt “rebellion”, the peasant revolts, the anarchists, etc. The new material available confirms what Lenin and Trotsky explained about  these events. In spite of all attempts to slander the Bolsheviks, the truth is always concrete.

Marxist.com recently published an article by Celia Hart in Havana. It has a very great significance, because the author, who is the daughter of two well-known leaders of the Cuban Revolution, calls for a discussion about Trotsky’s role and ideas. It immediately caused a controversy on an international scale. One of those who attacked Celia was a certain Israel Shamir, who raked up all the old Stalinist myths about the great role of Stalin. Alan Woods comments.

Today, November 7, marks 86 years since the 1917 Russian Revolution. The bureaucracy that usurped power from the working class (embodied in the Stalinist regime) has finally come full circle and completely capitulated to capitalism. We are here republishing an article by Ted Grant, originally published in 1967 on the 50th anniversary of the revolution. Even when the bureaucracy seemed almighty and irremovable the article was confidently predicting the downfall of the Stalinist regime.(November 1967.)

I recently visited Mexico at the invitation of Esteban Volkov, Trotsky's grandson, to participate in the filming of a documentary about the life and death of the great Russian revolutionary. The documentary, by the Argentine-Mexican director, Adolfo Videla, was filmed in the house in Coyoacan where Leon Trotsky lived for the last few years of his life, together with his faithful companion and comrade, Natalia Sedova. The documentary draws on rich archive material and includes valuable contributions by people like the French Trotskist historian Pierre Broue. It is due to be shown on Mexican television in the autumn.

Fifty years ago today the world heard the news of the death of Stalin. For decades the Stalinist propaganda machine had assiduously encouraged the myth of Stalin as "the Lenin of today", who was supposed to have led the Bolshevik Party together with Lenin. But all this was merely a construction to justify the usurpation of power by a tyrant who destroyed Lenin's party, liquidated the political conquests of October and wrecked the Communist International.

The year 1927 marked a decisive turning point in the struggle of Leon Trotsky and the Left Opposition to defend the ideas of Marx and Lenin inside the Russian Communist Party. On the Tenth anniversary of the October revolution, almost to the day, the co-leader of that most momentous event was expelled from the party. Soon after the creator of the Red Army was expelled from the country.

The Revolution Betrayed is one of the most important Marxist texts of all time. It is the only serious Marxist analysis of what happened to the Russian Revolution after the death of Lenin. Without a thorough knowledge of this work, it is impossible to understand the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the events of the last ten years in Russia and on a world scale. For Marxists, the October Revolution of 1917 was the greatest single event in human history. If we exclude the brief but glorious episode of the Paris Commune, for the first time the working class succeeded in overthrowing its oppressors and at least began the task of the socialist transformation of society.

On Thursday 7 September, Channel Four broadcast a fascinating programme as part of its series Secret History, entitled Mutiny - the true story of Red October. This remarkable documentary for the first time gave us the true story behind the 1990 Hollywood movie The Hunt for Red October a film version of a 1984 novel by Tom Clancy.