“Questions of the United Front in Germany“ by Walter Ulbricht (Aug 26. 1939)

Stand of the unity front in the country

 

In the reports of instructors it is said, that the comradely coherence of the antifascist workers became stronger. With the intensification of the political situation in September 1938 and by occasion of questions of work time and wages 1939 the comradely relations to the social-democrats has improved in many enterprises. The solidarity of the workers in the enterprise departments became more firm. That is proven by the resistance movements at the West Wall¹, in the mines and also on many places of the metal industry. In general it did not succeed yet to develop the comradely relations to a political relationship. The connections are large and good, but that all relies on friendship and randomness. The mutual trust is restricted on the hate against fascism.

 

In September 1938 the social resistance movements stepped backed behind the general discussion of the war questions. That seems to be come from, that the main orientation of the antifascists was concentrated on this question. In the report from Rhineland-Westphalia it is being said, that from meetings to prepare the resistance movement could not be spoken about yet. The instructor from Kiel says, that the comradeship became better, but it did not come to organized movements yet. They at least dare to discuss about all possible questions in groups again. Still the collaboration is mostly, to give tips to each other how to prevent piecework pressure.

 

An instructor from the Wasserkante says, that there is unclarity about the how of the struggle to the fall of Hitler and the necessary unity. In diverse reports the comradely relations of communists and social-democrats are already labelled as united front, although in some reports it is said, that over united actions are not spoken about yet.

 

Which character does the united-front-like collaboration between social-democrats and communist groups has?

 

I will bring up some examples, which characterize the most typical things. United-front-like collaboration is existing with such left groups, which are already ideologically close to us. The Mahnruf-Group² in Hamburg is standing in contact with us for some years, although the connection was temporarily lost. They have drafted flyers together with us or accepted the publishing of them. They are against the party directorate, but are not clear about what should come after Hitler yet. They declare, that their agitation has the goal to use very possibility to stir dissatisfaction.

 

At Siemens in Berlin a social-democratic group, which was connected with the leadership of the 10-Points-Group, works united-front-like together with us and also handed out flyers with us.

 

In a city in Ruhr Area a left social-democratic group works with us together for years. They have handed out flyers with us and also wrote to the party directorate and demanded the creation of the united front. Collaboration also exists with at Blohm & Voß in Hamburg with a social-democratic group. The communication over planned executive tasks intern and outside the enterprise does not exist yet. In the other apprehended enterprises in hamburg relations to social-democrats are existing. The relation is that of worker to worker.

 

A group of social-democrats and communists in Berlin has handed out a common flyer against Hitler´s war politics. For sure there are even more social-democratic groups which are collaborating with us.

 

The most characteristic of that collaboration, as far it is in the country itself, is the general propaganda against Hitler´s war politics. Insufficiently is being answered on the main arguments of the Nazis and insufficiently reasoned are these economic, social and directed against fascist enforced actions directed demands, which are useful for bringen the masses into motion.

 

Self-critical it is being said in the Hamburg report: “The thinking and acting of the biggest part of the social-democrats is unknown for us.“ In another report it is being said: “In all areas our friends are still hesitating to create connections with the social-democrats.“ In different reports it is being indicated, that the unclarity over the united and people´s front politics in Spain and France works debilitating.

 

The crisis among the social-democracy

 

The SPD is political and organizationally splintered. They exist in the country as friendship circles, who meet because of diverse, mostly legal reasons. Occasionally social-democratic functionaries use their occupation as small merchants, to meet their social-democratic comrades as customers. Specially the right-wing of the social-democrats are trying to spread the directives of the party directorate on this way. In general a left-development of many social-democrats, specially under the influence of the politics of the Soviet Union, can be detected.

 

1. A minority of active left social-democrats is for the unity of the working class, is ready for single steps of common antifascist propaganda, but has multiple doubts towards our demand of a democratic republic.

 

2. The biggest part of the social-democrats is acting in the representation of daily workers interests, is connected with the masses, is member of mass organizations and is for the democratic republic. Mostly these social-democrats have learned from the past, have a comradely relationship to the communists, but have some political distrust against the KPD.

 

3. The right-wing social-democratic functionaries in the country preach waiting, speculating on the automatically fall of fascism and speak often from a coming military dictatorship.

 

A famous former trade union leader said, that the war would be unpreventable and lead to the defeat of Germany. He says:

 

“It is not task of the German socialists to bring unnecessary victims for work in the country, but we must do anything to get contact to the military forces, which will dictate peace after the lost war by Germany.“

 

Another former social-democratic trade union leader said in discussion with a comrade:

 

“The reform of Marxism is a step forwards… The fascism will collapse by economic difficulties by itself. It is the people´s own fault that the fascism came. Weimar gave the possibility to vote correctly.“

 

The right-wing social-democratic leaders abroad are now going over to develop a reactionary platform as basis of the unification of the social-democrats.

 

Since 1933 the following development phases can be detected:

 

In spring 1933 the party directorate looked for a compromise with the fascism. The Reichstag faction voted for Hitler´s foreign policy and Wels left the executive of II. Internationale. When also the social-democratic leaders had to emigrate, they tried to keep the social-democracy together by concessions towards the left social-democrats. It came the manifesto of January 1934, which created the possibility of united-front-like collaboration of social-democrats and communists.

 

After that the Revolutionary Socialists published their revolutionary platform and inside the social-democratic apparatus the united-front-friendly forces gained influence. The right-wingers in the party directorate did everything they could to smash and prevent the unification of revolutionary social-democrats and removed their representatives step by step from the apparatus.

 

When bigger difficulties in struggle of the people´s front in Spain and France came up, the party directorate demanded the cancelling of unity-front-like collaboration between communists and social-democrats in the country and in Paris.

 

After the party directorate was successful to prevent the common action of revolutionary socialdemocrats in the country, it went over in the second half of the years 1938 to the reasoning of its political positions. Till then it saw itself just as the trustee of the socialdemocracy in Germany, it delcared now in the call of 14. September 1938:

“The directorate of the Social-democratic Party of Germany is the last organ, which was elected by the social-democratic mass organizations in Germany.“³

 

By that it announced again the exclusive leadership-claim. Wels became active again, was elected into the executive of II. Internationale again and united openly with the right-wing elements. A situation has developed in which the right-winged social-democratic leaders do a systematically offensive while the left social-democrats in the country are splintered and a part of the emigrated social-democrats, who are against the party directorate, are standing under influence of diverse Trotskyite groups.

 

The content of the right-wing-social-democratic platform

 

There is no worked out program, but a series of articles by Stampfer, Geyer and others, which were introduces by the declaration of Stampfer, that the working out of a social-democratic program would be necessary, already are being a social-democratic platform. That this so called party directorate is against the united and people´s front, comes from Stampfer´s exposition, that the SPD would have a decisive task due to the position between right-wing groups and communists. Geyer openly propagates an “undogmatic socialism“. Sollmann wrote: “For me class-socialism and class-politics of the workers have failed.“⁴ He delcared, that the Communist Mnaifesto could not be the basis of social-democratic concentration, like it seems some want. Stampfer is in these questions more skillful. He falsifies Marxism, uses for that some Marx quotes to be able to influence a bigger circle of socialdemocratic supporters. From these articles comes the following statement to political foundational questions: In the statement to imperialism in diverse articles he defends the line of SPD during the First World War. Wels says, that the social-democratic policy was right back then. Stampfer says: “Germany could have been united till the end of war, when it had focused on defense targets.“⁵ He defends the so called Peace Resolution⁷ of the Reichstag majority in July 1917. Factly these social-democrats are denying the existence of German imperialism. The aggressive imperialist forces do they see in the top of fascist bureaucracy. They reject to stand for the slogan of defeat of Hitler-Germany in case of war.

 

Towards the character of fascism Stampfer questions: “Was it really the bourgeoisie which brought Hitler into power… ?“⁶ He writes:

 

“He self, Hitler is – it ahs to be said, even when it is awkward – through and through a product of the modern revolutionary development and not thinkable without it.“⁸

 

The rejection of the Hitler regime would be in parts of the bourgeoisie stronger than among the industrial workers.⁹ The “proud Rhinish entrepreneurs“ would not let Hitler dictate them anything.¹⁰ By the way the social-democrats have the position of equating fascism and bolshevism. Geyer writes for example:

 

“The totalitarist idea itself – not just its racist form – is the real enemy of freedom. It lies on the ground of racism like nationalism or the orthodox class struggle teaching.“¹¹

 

In the question of the democratic republic they stand for a “authoritarian democracy“, like Sollmann is calling it. Stampfer is for a “temporary dictatorship of the republicans“¹², by what he means the suppression of the revolutionary forces, like he further explains it in an article, in which he writes: When the communists support the social-democratic politics, then a second Noske-politics is impossible.¹³ Stampfer claims, formerly the working class would have been educated to an overstated power consciousness. He puts today the future constitutional question into the foreground and to disguise the question, which class forces will be active in the future republic, by general speeches about “the people“. To the people´s front they have the opinion, that it would be a kind of coalition politics too and would not contrast from what the social-democracy did in Weimar Republic. To the question, why the SPD rejects the collaboration with the communists, Geyer answers: “The antidemocratic totalitarian ulterior motives are what takes the arguments of the communists all convincing power.“¹⁴ Sollmann writes in a letter to Stampfer:

 

“What is for you and me holy, ´Weimar´, is for others, also social-democrats, in best cases a bunch of errors, of weakness, of illusions, of personal deficiency. This deep border line inside the social-democracy has already in Weimar era hindered some of our actions…“¹⁵

 

What they imagine as a democratic republic, also comes out of the fact, that Sollmann stands for an “estatist structured socialism“¹⁶ and Stampfer speaks about “planned economic, progressive tendencies“ of fascism and demands, that these “progresses“ must be kept in the future republic.

 

Source: Walter Ulbricht “Zur Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung – Band II – Zweiter Zusatzband“, Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1968

 

¹ also known as Siegfried Line

 

² Socialdemocratic group which acted together with communists

 

³ Neuer Vorwärts (Paris), Nr. 274, 18. September 1938, German

 

⁴ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 284, 27. November 1938, German

 

⁵ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 321, 13. August 1939, German

 

⁶ A resolution by socialdemocrats around Friedrich Ebert and Philipp Scheidemann in July 1917, being adopted by SPD, Zentrum and FVP (in Weimar later DDP) [so by the later “Weimar Coalition“]. In it is being denied that World War I is an aggressive war by Germany and it is claimed that just the other nations would want to crush Germany. So it was a denial of the existence of German imperialism.

 

⁷ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 310, 28. Mai 1939, German

 

⁸ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 275, 25. September 1938, German

 

⁹ cf. Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 312, 11. Juni 1939, German

 

¹⁰ cf. Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 310, 28. Mai 1939, German

 

¹¹ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 321, 13. August 1939, German

 

¹² Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 274, 16. September 1938, German

 

¹³ cf. Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 311, 4. June 1939, German

 

¹⁴ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 321, 13. August 1939, German

 

¹⁵ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 284, 27. November 1938, German

¹⁶ “Ständesozialismus“ (“Estate-Socialism“) like used as a phrase in fascist Austria 1933-1938; it is an euphemistic term to disguise the character of fascism, just like “National-Socialism“ in Nazi-Germany

Thanks to The Red Path!

Advertisements

First Coincidence near Stalingrad – Talk between Catholic priest Josef Kayser and Walter Ulbricht, Feb 2 1944

Lead-in: Dear listeners! About their first coincidence near Stalingrad the former communist Reichstag deputy Walter Ulbricht is talking with the Catholic Wehrmacht priest Josef Kayser.
Ulbricht: So, Mr. priest, can you remember what was a year ago?
Kayser: Sure! Back then I met you, Mr. Ulbricht, shortly after my capture in dugout in Verdyachi. Never I will forget our first talk back then.
Ulbricht: Seems the last year brought you much. And now on anniversary of our first meet we are together again, but now in Moscow. Back then – so it seems for me – you have not understand me well. But today we work together.
Kayser: You are totally right, Mr. Ulbricht. This year has brought us together, you, the communist, and me, the Catholic priest. But to be honest, on our first meeting I was a bit terrified.
Ulbricht: So, what impressed you so much?
Kayser: You did not try to coax me but said me freely into my face that the defeat of the two German armies at Stalingrad is the beginning of the defeat of Hitler. I remember your comparison. You said back then, Hitler had not just pushed the German troops at Stalingrad into the pocket, but Hitler has pocketed whole Germany. I remember your words of goodbye: “Watch out, Mr. priest, in a few weeks you will be totally have my opinion and you will fight with us against Hitler.”
Ulbricht: So, was I not right, was I?
Kayser: Of course! But back then I was far away from my current understanding. I have always been an enemy of the exaggerated Führer principe and an enemy of the race theory. I have stood as Catholic youth leader in struggle against Gestapo and SS. Just because of my conscription to Wehrmacht I just escaped imprisonment in a concentration camp. But working together with communists, I was just afraid of that.
Ulbricht: There we have it. You seem to have thought communists are savages.
Kayser: That is almost right.
Ulbricht: Do you remember when I told you about that the communists in Germany indeed recognize the struggle of Catholic Church against Hitler and support them where they can?
Kayser: Yes, you told me surprinsingly about my friend, chaplain Rossaint, who was judged together with communists in a Nazi cangaroo trial.
Ulbricht: So it was. We communists esteem and recognize every honest creed, you must have seen this by yourself in this first year as a prisoner of war.
Kayser: Of course! I can tell you, Mr. Ulbricht, that this experience was the deepest reason why we got together so quickly. If the people in Germany would find together like that! All enemies of Hitler!
Ulbricht: So it will come, Mr. priest! You can be sure about that.
Kayser: Now you speak again as superior and sure like back then, when I sat in front of you on the plank bed in the dugout of Verdyachi.
Ulbricht: Yes! See, Mr. priest, we communists do sober real politics. Marx and Lenin,
who´s books are of course banned in Germany, have tought us a deep view on history, which enables us to realize the economic and political relations, which constitute history.
Kayser: That is right! I have also read in these books and learned some new things. Before that we just heard about Marxism, that he would fight God and church and wants to turn the world into chaos.
Ulbricht: And therefore you fought against Soviet Russia? Like in a crusade?
Kayser: Sadly! Sadly!
Ulbricht: And now you see an orderly state, free, happy people, who love their fatherland and defend it with all means. Do you know, that years ago the Soviet government gave churches, which were closed, back to their religious purpose when the people wanted it so?
Kayser: I have heard from it and read by myself, that Stalin in a speech to the youth already before the war went with barbed words against outrages, which smeared the church and priests. When the Catholic people in Germany would know about that.
Ulbricht: Here in Russia the people is ruling. Also the German peoople will open their eyes. Then there will be an end with Hitler and his slavery. The Russian and German people will understand each other well. They belong together. And also the church will have its importance in a free Germany. Rely on that, Mr. priest. The Catholics have fought heroic in Nazi-Germany with us. That will not be forgotten.
Kayser: Yes, when the German people would be so united like we both!
Ulbricht: Why should that be impossible, we can see it already in the National Committee [“Free Germany”].
Kayser: Yes, Stalingrad has brought us to that! Maybe the Lord God had to send us through this hell, that we can buildup now a more beautiful Germany together will all good powers of the German people.
Ulbricht: Right! – And we specially that we can prevent an even worse Stalingrad for the German people.
Kayser: You stay ever the sober real politician! Praise God!

Source: “To the History of German Workers Movement – Extra-Volume to Volume II, 2. Half-Volume” by Walter Ulbricht (published in 1968), German

 

 

Thanks to The Red Path!

“How is the unity for the fall of Hitler?” by Walter Ulbricht, (Aug 27 1939)

The main task, which moves all antifascists in Germany, is: On which way can we liberate Germany from the rule of the fascist war mongers? Doubtless, it is only possible on the way of common struggle of all democratic, antifascist forces. The accomplishment and the action power of this democratic front is essentially depending on the unity and initiative of the working class in their struggle.

The working class is the force, who is suffering the most from the fascist rule and has to carry the biggest victims from a war provoked by Hitler, who has literally nothing to lose but her chains, who is concentrated in the big enterprises, the basis of fascist war production, who is standing in deepest contradiction by her class position to the fascist class rule of the most reactionary imperialist circles of German financial capital and struggles most consequently for the democratic freedom. When today the communication of the democratic forces in Germany is still at the beginning, then it is because the active antifascist forces of the working class do not or almost invisible agitate in action unity.

But there are already many examples, that communists, active social-democrats and former trade union activists organise united the resistance in the enterprises and had pushed through workers demands by use of the legal possibilities in the DAF¹. Decisive was by that mostly the initiative of communists and revolutionary social-democrats, their common approach and their connection to other DAF-members. In some industrial centers representatives of social-democratic groups and communist party organizations have handed out flyers against the extension of work time and for better wages and made commonly propaganda against the Great-German imperialism among the Work-Front-members. These are just actions of the most active, most consequent antifascist forces among the working class, which shows the possibilities of action unity. It is necessary, that specially in big enterprises the mass of communist, social-democratic, trade unionist and the other antifascist workers create the united front.
Against that are some social-democratic leaders, who seem to see their task in spreding defeatism, carrying non-believing in the own power into the working class. They claim, that the working class would be less active than other classes of the society, while they are continuing the struggle against the united front inside the country and do everything they can to prevent that workers become active. The offical organ of the social-democratic party directorate, the “Deutschlandbericht der Sopade”, are reasoning their defeatist standpoint with this:
“The political thinking people, active in trade union, were ever in minority. But as long there was a free workers movement, that minority always had the leadership… This force of the workers movement does not exist anymore. The National-socialists have destroyed them knowing and put their politics systematically on the atomization of the working people… Those, who thought before, are still thinking, those who did not think before, think now even less. Just, that the thinking ones do not lead anymore.”
This statement means nothing else but abandoning the organization of antifascist struggle.
When by the opinion of the social-democratic author the “politically thinking people”, so the class conscious workers, would be unable to lead the working masses, which leadership should the workers now have in their opinion? The political conception of the articles of Friedrich Stampfer, Hilferding, Wels, Sollmann means factly that the leadership in struggle against fascism would belong to the bourgeoisie. Stampfer claims, “that Hitler finds today far more followers among the working class than among the bourgeoisie”², but that “the proud Rhinish enterpreneurs”, like Stampfer likes to say, would not let Hitler telling them anything. So Stampfer also counts these fascist great capitalists, who brought Hitler into power, to the opposition. This orientation brings the social-democratic directorate to stay totally passive towards the struggle of the workers, while they are favorable towards the bourgeoisie. Stampfer speaks of the “progressive tendencies” in the fascist economy, and Sollmann characterises the future democracy as an “authoritarian democracy”, so semi-fascist.

Such a politics just serves the keeping of the split among the working class. She also directs also directly against the unity of democratic, antifascist forces, because the masses of peasants and petty bourgeoisie do not want to come from fascist hail and rain into the eave of “authoritarian-democratic” rule of the “proud Rhinish enterpreneurs”, even when she is being covered by “constitutional” and “planning” ornaments.

To what such a politics leads, the years 1918 till 1933 have taught us more than enough. From the historical experience comes the conclusion, that the democratic revolution must be carried out by the most progressive class, the working class, as the most consequent democratic force in the alliance with the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie in the cities and the progressive intilligentsia. By that it will also be possible to paralyse the “authoritarian” goals of anti-Hitlerist circles among the bourgeoisie.

Before the 30. June 1934 the party directorate representatnts to the socialdemocrats in the country, they should not make a united front with the communists, to not scare the opposition in the Nazi Party and the state appartus. Then before the 4. February 1938 it has been whispered with secretive hint on the opposition among the officer circles in the Reich army to prevent the creation of the united front. The result was, that Hitler got rid of that opposition very quickly, because the working class did not step into action. So Wels and Stampfer prevented by distraction of the action unity of the workers, that this opposition could lead to a crisis in the fascist regime. The existence of the united front, which we want since years, would have doubtlessly, that the working class could have stepped more into action during the September days 1938, during the days of the wild pogroms or this spring during the aggression against Czechoslovakia. Now the social-democratic leaders direct their views on diverse foreign forces, which have yet excelled itself by a Munich orientation.

It is not just the difficulties of communication, which make under the conditions of fascist terror the creation of a united front so difficult, but primarily the political influence of some social-democratic leaders. So a situation has developed, that a part of the social-democratic functionaries in Germany works in accordance to the platform of SPD-directorate of January 1934 for the unity of the working class, while the social-democratic directorate itself went backwards under influence of anti-Marxist circles in foreign countries and in fact gave up its own platform. That directorate has, by going over to combat every social-democratic functionary who works for unity of the working class, split the social-democracy itself into different directions.

We communists will continue with all of our power, that in the country the united front of communist and social-democratic organizations and functionaries will be created. May among the social-democracy a similar activity for the creation of the action unity of the working class come. For the German working class applies, what comrade Dimitrov wrote after the Munich Conspiracy:

“From outstanding importance is the advise of the great Lenin, that the working class has primarily to gain the belief in the own power, has to smash the damned pre-judgement, that the peoples could not get along without the leadership of bourgeoisie, that the bourgeoisie would decide over their destiny. the working class must deeply be permeated in the consciousness of necessity, to stand determined on the top of the people´s movement against fascism.”³
the collaboration of the antifascist, democratic forces can only succeed, when the necessary collaboration of organizations of the working class with the middle classes and the bourgeoisie democratic forces can just then lead to the goal – the democratic republic – when the strongest class, the working class by the action unity unfolds her power totally and encourages by that her direct allies, the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie in the cities, to action.

Permeated by that knowledge, a big amount of social-democratic groups came to the conclusion, not just creating the action unity with the communist party organizations, but also to take initiative, by connection to other groups, by flyers and illegal newspapers, to convince the masses of antifascist workers from the necessity of action unity. The flyers from Berlin and Rhine Land, the illegal newspaper from the Wasserkante and the memorandum of a social-democratic working circle proof that work. It is in the interest of the struggle against the fascist war politics, to have an open debate about why the unity of the antifascist, democratic forces need the unity front of the working class. The communists and the revolutionary workers support every resistance directed against fascism and every oppositional movement in the army, in the fascist organizations and among the bourgeoisie. the revolutionary forces of the working class must always be conscious, that all democratic and oppositional forces can just have achievements and victories in that amount, as the working class acts united and wins the masses of peasantry and petty bourgeoisie as allies.

Walter Ulbrich

¹Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Work Front) was the fascist pseudo-trade union
²Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 310, 28. Mai 1939, German
³ Georgi Dimitroff: Ausgewählte Schriften, Bd. 3, Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1958, S. 125, German

Source: Deutsche Volkszeitung, 27. August 1939, German

Thanks to RedPath!

Responding to Xexizy on “Not-real-Socialism”

Xexizy is basically correct when he defines capitalism:

The definition of capitalism is not only private property, it is:

PRIVATE PROPERTY, & MODERN MARKET ECONOMY. Goods are produced privately to be sold for profit.

However he is fundamentally wrong in his critique of the definition “socialism is common ownership of the means of production”. Xexizy points out that both feudalism and capitalism had private property but this is precisely why we define socialism as collective ownership.

This definition is used because socialism is the only system in which the means of production are owned in common.

We often also add that socialism replaces market economy with a planned economy. However Xexizy ignores this part completely. We also define capitalism as private production mostly for exchange as opposed to feudalism.

Xexizy is claiming that the USSR and other socialist countries were not really socialist. This is why he has come up with this scheme. His scheme is not at all obvious or evident or logical when reading Marx. It is something he has imposed on Marx because he wants to arrive at a certain conclusion. A conclusion not supported by Marxism but something he wants to twist Marxism to say.

This is why Xexizy has come up with his argument. Now I will show you how he is wrong:

Xexizy tries to artificially separate the so-called transitional stage from Lower Phase of Communism. In fact Marx only spoke about Lower & Higher Communism, and not about a specific third phase called the “Transitional Stage” especially since the Lower Phase is also a transitional stage.
According to Xexizy in the transitional stage everything is administered by the state but it is still not socialism. This doesn’t make any sense as in the immediate transition everything is obviously not administered by the state. The workers can take over the state, but the state won’t control the entire economy in the transition.

The reason why Xexizy claims this is obviously because he wants to claim the Soviet Union was just “evil-state-capitalism-not-real-socialism”. But really the transitional step from capitalism to socialism applies very well to something like the Soviet Union in Lenin’s administration, when the state controlled the economic heights, but didn’t abolish all private property yet.

The Stalin administration abolished private property and market economy (the two defining elements of capitalism) and thus created socialism. However based on Xexizy’s definition neither one of them was socialist. Obviously Lenin’s administration was the transition, the preparation for socialism which was then built by Stalin.

Xexizy misunderstands Marx when he quotes him:

“Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products”
(Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme)

This shouldn’t be taken absolutely literally, especially because in the very next paragraph Marx begins to describe “exchange of equivalents in commodity exchange”, he simply means that individuals won’t be selling their labor or products as individuals, but all of this is part of the social process.

“since now, in contrast to capitalist society, individual labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a component part of total labor.”
(Marx, Ibid.)

He was making this point specifically as a counter argument against the Lassallean petty-bourgeois notion of “undiminished proceeds of labor”.

But we will get to the specifics of what exactly all this stuff about commodity circulation means in a bit.

The same goes for Marx’s comment about value:

“…just as little does the labor employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them”

(Marx, Ibid.)

He is not denying the existence of value but saying that value is not a regulator of the economy anymore. Stalin says the following about this:

“the law of value can be a regulator of production only under capitalism, with private ownership of the means of production, and competition, anarchy of production, and crises of overproduction.”
(Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR)

However when asked if Value still exists in the USSR he said:

“Wherever commodities and commodity production exist, there the law of value must also exist.”

(Stalin, Ibid.)

Marx also acknowledged this. In describing the exchange or distribution of goods in Lower stage of Communism he said:

“Here, obviously, the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal values.”

(Marx, Ibid.)

Marx defines Lower Communism in this way:

“What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges. Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society — after the deductions have been made — exactly what he gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labor. For example, the social working day consists of the sum of the individual hours of work; the individual labor time of the individual producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him, his share in it. He receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such-and-such an amount of labor (after deducting his labor for the common funds); and with this certificate, he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labor cost. The same amount of labor which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another.”
(Marx, Ibid.)

In simple terms this means that people work and receive payment, which they will then exchange for products, or means of consumption.

Instead in the Higher Phase of Communism products won’t be rationed, allocated or exchanged but will be given according to need.

Xexizy claims that in Socialism there cannot be Commodity Production. What he should say is that in the higher phase of communism there is no commodity production. In the lower phase it still exists. This is demonstrated by the fact that people work and are paid in return. Xexizy defines a commodity as something which is to be sold. Then what are these means of consumption which people will receive in return for payment? Are they not exactly commodities in Xexizy’s own definition? They are products which are sold i.e. commodities. However Xexizy’s definition is not exactly accurate, as in socialism products are not made to be sold, they are made to be used. They are still sold in the lower phase of communism which makes them commodities, but selling them is not the point, they are made for use, selling them is only the method of rationing them and funding their production.

“…nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals, except individual means of consumption. But as far as the distribution of the latter among the individual producers is concerned, the same principle prevails as in the exchange of commodity equivalents: a given amount of labor in one form is exchanged for an equal amount of labor in another form.”
(Marx, Ibid.)

Then Xexizy attempts to explain the difference between Higher and Lower Communism. He claims the only difference is that in Higher Communism products will be given according to need. As I’ve already explained, the fact that products are not given according to need but according to work as in Lower Communism like in the USSR it already implies commodity production in this sense. The Soviet Union couldn’t yet abolish commodity production. One reason was because they couldn’t simply give things for free, because they didn’t have super abundance characteristic of higher communism.

But according to Xexizy’s strange definition this, distribution of goods in return for payment for work is not commodity production. His description of lower communism is thus self-contradicting.
In Critique of the Gotha Programme Marx says in Lower Communism or Socialism:
“a given amount of labor in one form is exchanged for an equal amount of labor in another form.”

Products which are exchanged are commodities. However Marx makes a distinction here between this type of distribution, exchanging work for products and between exchanging products for other products. This commodity production in the usual sense is what he calls commodity production in Critique of the Gotha Programme.

As Lenin said:

“A commodity is, in the first place, a thing that satisfies a human want; in the second place, it is a thing that can be exchanged for another thing.”
(Lenin, KARL MARX: A Brief Biographical Sketch With an Exposition of Marxism)

If you have distribution according to payment, as Marx states we will have in Lower Communism, then you inevitably have commodity production in this sense in Lower Communism.

Exchange of products did also exist in Socialist countries for one reason: because not everything was owned by the state. They had a co-operative and collective farm sector which didn’t belong to society as a whole but only to the workers in those collectives. As a result of this their product only belonged to the collective and had to be exchanged with society for other products.

A society with collectives and co-operatives is socialist but not yet communist. That is, it is in the lower phase. For full-communism, co-operatives must become owned by the entire society as a whole and hence cease being co-operatives.

Xexizy criticizes Stalin’s plan to reduce the sphere of commodity circulation between town and country by creating a system of products exchange without money based on a plan. But this critique is rather laughable. He claims that this is only a form of barter and barter being a lower historical stage of trade it will inevitably lead to capitalist trade and commodity production.

In reality of course creating a system where goods are moneylessly allocated according to a plan is moving closer to communism. Naturally Xexizy doesn’t offer any other alternative plan of his own, and I doubt he even understands the details about why exactly Stalin made this suggestion, it being only a suggestion aimed at the collectives which were not owned by the state, to bring them under the same level of planning as the state and bringing them closer to being public property.

If everything was already public property and not collective property this would not be necessary.

Xexizy’s critique is a typical left-communist critique as it only labels something as not-real-socialism but offers no solutions.

Xexizy also claims the Soviet Union had wage labour but offers no proof of this. He quotes Stalin’s book on economics but omits the part where Stalin says labour doesn’t appear as a commodity on the market in the USSR and they therefore don’t have wage-labour.

Wage-labour doesn’t mean being paid. Marx himself says that in Lower communism people will receive means of consumption, or products as payment for work performed.
Furthermore Xexizy claims that Socialism is stateless.

This is particularly strange and he offers no source for this. He only presents us with the following deduction: since socialism is classless, and the state is an instrument of class struggle. Therefore the state should be abolished in socialism.

This is profoundly mistaken. First of all class struggle does not end in socialism. It only ends in Communism, the higher phase.

When Marx complains that the Gotha Programme does not deal with the dictatorship of the proletariat or “with the future state of communist society” he is talking about the Lower Phase, Socialism in which this state is in the process of withering away. It will be completely withered when we reach Higher Communism. Xexizy’s definition of Higher Communism fails here because according to him the state should already have withered before.

The debate between Anarchists and “state-socialists” like Marx also seems quite absurd if Marx truly believed Socialism to be stateless as Xexizy is claiming.

The last topic I want to discuss is the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Xexizy doesn’t mention this term for some reason, he only talks about a mysterious “transitional stage” when he ought to be talking about the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat encompasses the entire period between capitalism and full-communism. That means, until every vestige of capitalism is gone and we exist in a worldwide communist society.

Xexizy implies that socialism can never be built as long as there are capitalist countries out there. But this contradicts everything he said before as he deliberately emphasized that Capitalism and Socialism are not modes of ownership but Modes of Production. So what happens if we establish a socialist mode of production somewhere, but capitalism still exists out there in a different country? He offers no solution.

This can all be traced to Xexizy’s confused definition of Socialism. We speak about the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, Socialist Mode of Production and full-communism but in his mind they all merge into the same confusion. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is not a mode of production, therefore it can exist at the same time as socialist mode of production, or not. It can also exist in one country or many countries. His insistence that a socialist mode of production must be stateless and international, is not based on science or economics but on ideology. That is not his idea of socialism, so he refuses to call it what it is. But a socialist mode of production, is precisely that regardless of what you think about it.

Xexizy is confused when he labels countries like the USSR with a socialist mode of production, common ownership of the means of production and planned economy, under the same vague term “transitional stage” together with other workers’ states like the paris commune, which didn’t yet have planned economy, collective farms or common ownership in general.

Marx, Engels and other Communists define Socialism as common ownership of the Means of Production, or in other words the abolition of private property. Why is this not good enough for Xexizy?

Because he wants to be able to say the Soviet Union and other such countries were not “real-socialism”. This is not a scientific or objective position. This is the position of left-communists who simply want to call everything not-real-socialism. Even many Trotskyists and Anarchists don’t stoop to this. Orthodox Trotskyists choose to call the Soviet Union a degenerated workers’ state or bureaucracy, but don’t deny its socialist mode of production and Anarchists usually limit themselves to stating they are against “state-socialism”.

But Left-communists want to change the entire definition of Socialism to fit their idea of it. They want to say:

“Lenin, Mao, all the great revolutionaries, what do they know? They were wrong, but thank god we left-communist have got it all figured out.”

These people are the reason why “not-real-socialism” has become such a joke and a weapon commonly used against us socialists.

These are the same people who have been against actually existing socialism for ever. This is merely their most recent attemp at justifying themselves. Nothing about what they are talking about is evident in Marx’s own text, only through carefully selecting, twisting and interpreting Marx’s words through their left-communist lense have they arrived at this result. Others have read the exact same texts for a 100 years and not come to this left-communist conclusion.

I have a proposition to make. We know what socialism is, we know what state-capitalism is. We know what these terms mean. So if you don’t like the Soviet Union, then just say you don’t like the Soviet Union. Don’t try to twist the definitions just to be able to say nothing was ever socialism.

Thank you.

marx

Vegetarianism & Communism

Having been both vegetarian & a communist for more then 5 years now I decided to finally write something about the connection between these issues. Does vegetarianism have anything to do with Communism and vice-versa?

BRIEF STORY ABOUT MY POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT

Before becoming a Communist I was a proponent of Schopenhauer’s philosophical pessimism. Where ever I turned I saw immense suffering, poverty, war, exploitation. About half of humanity (3.6 billion people) lives on less then 2 dollars per day while large portions of Africa live much worse. 80% lives on less then 10 dollars per day.

The Capitalist economic system fails to provide even the most basic necessities for countless millions and Western corporate interest actually actively hinders the development of most third world countries. 10 million die each year due to hunger and hunger related causes. Only 8% of this is due to natural disasters or war. 92% is simply due to economics, the poor can’t afford food. Meanwhile about half of the world’s food is wasted and left to rot as there is nobody (no paying customer) to purchase it. The needs of humans are in absolute antagonistic contradiction compared to the capitalist economic system.

Animals were often even worse off then humans, being exploited in horrible conditions in factory farms. Billions of animals are born each year only to suffer and die for the sake of consumerism, unnecessarily.

I stopped eating meat soon after understanding how unnecessary and immoral it was. I also saw the bankruptcy and inhuman character of capitalism but it took me some time to abandon pessimism. It had led me to a situation where I saw no solution for any of these problems.

As I gradually learned about the practicality of Socialism, the real benefits it provided and the futility of all other alternatives I finally stopped complaining, and started doing something to improve things. None of these problems were innate in life or humanity, they were the result of concrete material conditions which could all be changed.

RECOGNITION THAT SUFFERING IS BAD

We all have a capacity to suffer. It is universally recognized by everyone that it is bad, to be avoided, undesirable by definition. A masochist, who enjoys e.g. physical pain, does not suffer from it, but actually derives pleasure from it. Suffering is something that we all define as a bad thing.

But we only define it as bad if it is targeted towards us, right? Yes, but what makes any individual special? We all have the same capacity to suffer. From our subjective experiences and the realization that there is an external world outside of us, we inevitable reach the conclusion that suffering is just as bad for everyone. This subjective truth that suffering is bad, is accepted by every subject and is thus universally, objectively true. The only way to avoid this conclusion is nihilism or solipsism, neither of which were ever convincing to me. Even a solipsist or nihilist still behaves like suffering is bad, even if their ideology denies it.

If we recognize that suffering is bad, it is only natural to want to reduce it. Capitalism causes tremendous unnecessary suffering for the sake of profit.

DEFENDERS OF ANIMAL EXPLOITATION

We communists seek to improve the lives of people. We want to make life better for them. But what about animals? Animals suffer exactly like humans.

The common arguments in favor of continuing unnecessary animal exploitation that I’ve heard are:

1. “We need animal products to survive”

This is a relatively common but entirely unfounded claim. There are countless people who have not consumed animal products for decades and still live normal lives.

2. “Animals are less intelligent so its ok to abuse them”

This argument is to me particularly reprehensible. The quasi-nazi character of this line of reasoning should be blatantly obvious.

Do we torture or abuse the mentally handicapped? Do we torture or abuse those of lesser intellect? Then why do we abuse animals? IQ does not effect ones capacity to suffer or feel joy.

On top of that animals are in reality highly intelligent (in many cases more intelligent then human children).

3. “I’m against factory farming but not all animal exploitation”

I oppose exploitation. Not just when its extreme but also when its a milder form. More humane treatment of animals is better, but why should we exploit or abuse them at all? Besides factory farming is more profitable. It makes sense for capitalists to continue doing it.

4. “Animals taste better”

This is not an argument at all, yet many still use it. It is the mentality of the morally bankrupt decadent egoist. Naturally as a Communist I cannot condone such behavior.

5. “Animal exploitation is natural”

This is an appeal to nature fallacy. Rape and murder are natural, yet every civilization has outlawed them. Animal exploitation is a phenomenon that developed out of concrete material conditions and is fundamentally unnecessary at this state of human development.

Secondly, there’s good reason to believe eating animals is not all that native to humans. Our bodies cannot fully digest meat and our teeth are not suited for raw flesh. Meat provides a source of protein but is also related to many negative health conditions.

6. “I need meat to be fit or build muscle”

This is an argument that particularly athletes, body builders and those who consider themselves to be on those categories use. However it is also untrue. There are many successful vegan athletes and body builders.

DEFENDERS OF HUMAN EXPLOITATION

What astounds me is that many vegetarians and vegans who recognize the unethical character of animal exploitation still hold right-wing political & economic views. If you are against animal exploitation, you should also be against human exploitation!

I will now deal with some common arguments made in favor of continuing human exploitation but I won’t go into great detail about specific anti-communist claims in this post.

1. “Animals are innocent but humans are not”

What about third world children? What are they guilty of? Humans don’t deserve exploitation any more then animals do.

2. “Animals are cute and humans are not”

Nobody would seriously argue this but many implicitly voice sentiments like this. We shouldn’t only defend the rights of those animals (or people) who we find aesthetically pleasing, they all can suffer or enjoy life just the same.

3. “Capitalism is voluntary, not exploitation like factory farming”

Humans are limited by their material conditions. Realistically in many third world countries unemployment means total destitution or even death. This is hardly a voluntary choice but rather one dictated by circumstances. These circumstances are created and maintained by the capitalist system itself.

In the West the situation is not as extreme but people who don’t own the means to employ themselves still must seek employment from a capitalist if they wish to live reasonably well. Even in the west losing one’s job can mean homelessness or going hungry, losing access to healthcare, being unable to pay for education etc.

4. “Socialist economies don’t work”

This is blatantly false. The Soviet Union, a socialist country, was the world’s second biggest economy and kept growing for the entirety of its existence. Most socialist countries were far wealthier then most capitalist countries. Most people in socialism had better access to healthcare, necessities of life, education and culture then in most capitalist countries. 10 million starve annually in capitalism and 3.6 billion live on less then $2/day.

5. “Socialism collapsed”

The reason why the Western capitalist countries were able to defeat the Socialist countries is complex, but the fact that Socialism was destroyed doesn’t prove that it is not a superior system when it comes to serving people’s needs.

Some basic Soviet GDP statistics:

CAN ANIMAL EXPLOITATION BE SOLVED IN CAPITALISM?

1. The Profit Motive

Capitalism is a system based on profit. Exploiting people and animals is highly profitable. It seems unlikely that a profit-driven system would stop doing something profitable.

2. Can we not pass legislation against animal exploitation?

Theoretically we could but in a capitalist system those who control the wealth control politics and legislation also. The liberal quest to “get money out of politics” in capitalism, a system driven by money, is utterly hopeless. For this to work we would need a democratic system genuinely controlled by the people i.e. Socialism.

3. Can we not boycott the meat industry to make it unprofitable?

Theoretically we could but such boycotts are rarely effective enough. Besides people are limited by their resources. In this current system animal products are cheap, easily available and backed by advertisement. Attempts at “ethical consumerism” within capitalism practically never work.

SOCIALISM AND ANIMAL LIBERATION

1. Why did historical socialist countries not abolish animal exploitation?

The reasons are numerous. For one, they were far too concerned with the horrible conditions of humans. In countries that used to have serious famine only years before and where all resources were needed to industrialize, develop the military and win the Cold War this was not a realistic option. Add to that the fact that the Animal Rights Movement was not as developed as it is today.

2. Should we stop eating animals now or only in socialism?

The more vegetarianism and veganism spreads now the easier the transformation will be in the future. The economic base of capitalism facilitates exploitation but spreading the ideas now can’t do any harm. Reducing meat consumption right now has health benefits, reduces global warming and exploitation (even if only a tiny bit) and shows a good Communist Example of ethical behavior.

3. Isn’t Vegetarianism/Veganism Classist?

Bourgeois-vegetarianism can be classist. However as a Communist I recognize that some people can’t afford to change their eating habits. Its not the fault of the poor but the capitalist system. We shouldn’t blame them but fight to change the system.

4. National Self-Determination

Indigenous people who practice traditional hunting or cattle raising shouldn’t be our main focus. They contribute very little to the problem of animal exploitation. We should be lenient towards them.

Particularly cruel practices could be banned immediately in socialism and this wouldn’t necessarily be much of a violation of national self-determination. Socialist China banned traditional forced marriages and foot-binding as feudal and barbaric practices. If some traditional practices are exceptionally cruel towards animals we can do the same.

Its worth pointing out that in many indigenous cultures and many religions animal consumption in general, or the consumption of specific animals like cows or pigs is considered unethical.

SOURCES:

10 million starve annually due to economic conditions
http://www.bhookh.com/hunger_facts.php

Global poverty
https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-global-poverty

56 billion animals are killed annually
http://www.animalequality.net/food

The world’s 3.6 billion poorest people are getting poorer
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/global-poverty-oxfam-world-economic-forum

Pigs Are Highly Social And Really Smart. So, Um, About Eating Them…
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/15/are-pigs-intelligent_n_7585582.html

How Does Socialism Solve Racism, Sexism & Other Oppression?

(or, How to better understand the Relation between Base & Superstructure)

INTRODUCTION

Unfortunately it is assumed by some Marxists that Socialism, almost automatically solves issues like sexism, racism, transphobia & homophobia. People who hold this mistaken view argue: “These issues cannot be solved in capitalism, so let’s not focus on them now, it will all be solved in Socialism.”

There is a tactical component to this question which I will discuss at the end. First I want to cover the assumption that Socialism solves these, inequalities, oppressions, ills of capitalism automatically, or almost automatically. This mistaken view derives from an incorrect understanding of the Base and the Superstructure & their relation.
Base-superstructure_Dialectic

WHAT ARE THE BASE AND THE SUPERSTRUCTURE?

What Marxists often call simply the “Base” means the underlying economic system of the society, the economic mode of production. In our current society this mode of production is imperialist capitalism.

In A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy Marx describes this economic underlying ‘base’ as follows:

“In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation…”

and adds:

“…on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.”

So what is this superstructure? The superstructure consists of things like culture, religion,  form of government such as parliamentarism, military dictatorship or monarchism.

Later on Marx describes the basic relation between the base & superstructure:

“The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.”

That is, each economic mode of production (e.g. capitalism) creates its own superstructure which necessarily results from the social relations arising from the economic mode of production. Changing this superstructure is only possible, even necessary after changing the economic base.

This has led some to hold the incorrect view, that replacing a capitalist economic system with a socialist one, will automatically or practically automatically or very easily, get rid of all the oppressive and reactionary elements arising from the old capitalist society.

HISTORICAL PRACTICE

1. What was achieved?

Let us now examine the notion that the destruction of the capitalist economic base will by itself alone quickly & easily get rid of the reactionary culture fostered by capitalism. When Marxist-Leninist states were in existence, did they cure all these ills? We know the answer. Racism and sexism still remained though in a more limited form.

Trans issues were not yet recognized by anyone at the time, except the trans people themselves. This applies not only the capitalist countries but also socialist ones. LGBT issues were advanced by communist groups like the Black Panthers and recognized by socialist countries like the German Democratic Republic but there was a lot to be desired.

What Marxist-Leninist countries did do was implement policies such as granting equal legal & democratic rights to women as well as ethnic and religious minorities. They provided equal opportunities to study and work for all people regardless of sex or race. The socialist media portrayed minorities as equally capable members of society,  the education system tried to combat sexist, racist and other bourgeois-conservative views.

2. Objective vs. Subjective Factors

These advances were a necessary outcome of the new society that was being built. Socialism couldn’t have been built without at the same time combating the most glaring and most vicious examples of bourgeois-conservative ideology and culture. They were in one sense a result of the objective factors.

However there was nothing “automatic” or “easy” in this process, as would be implied by the “don’t worry, it will all be taken care of in socialism” type of attitude. These achievements were necessitated by the new economic system, but they were implemented by conscious policies by people. In this sense, they were also a result of the subjective factors, the people, the activists, members of the oppressed groups etc.

redguardscloseup2000x817

THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

The mistake of the “automatic” or “we will take care of it in socialism” theory is the following:

Although the capitalist base is what created and maintained the reactionary superstructure of sexism, racism, transphobia etc. the remnants of the old superstructure can still survive in a limited form for quite some time even in a new base. Especially as this base is constantly itself changing and transitioning away from the old towards something new. To think that these issues will be solved quickly and easily is naive hubris.

It took capitalism an extraordinarily long time to wipe out most remnants of feudal culture. There are still many constitutional monarchies in the world, where the economy is entirely capitalist and the crown has been stripped of power, yet the ridiculous cultural remnant of monarchist absolutism is still there.

Those aspects of feudalism which most strikingly hindered the growing bourgeoisie came into such violent conflict with the new capitalist system that they were eliminated much faster. Aspects like aristocratic privileges, Monarchist absolutism, absolute rule of the clergy, various feudal restrictions of banking, trade and other capitalistic activities. As a result the corresponding ideological-cultural superstructure, began to die out.

With the changes in the economic base the ruling feudal ideology began to be replaced by capitalist ideology. Feudalism was no longer seen as man’s natural state, instead man’s nature was proclaimed to be capitalistic. Religion lost much of its influence, the Divine right of the king crumbled into dust, replaced by the wealthy bourgeois politician.

This didn’t always happen in a simply linear fashion at all. The French Revolution overthrew feudal absolutism but the Napoleonic reaction managed to restore it, however while still releasing the economy from feudal shackles for capitalism to develop more freely.

In many capitalist countries up until a 100 years ago Monarchism & many feudal aspects still held influence. Finland still had clerical & aristocrat privileges and the church acted like a giant feudal landlord. The Russian Empire was another good example where capitalism was evidently there existing side by side with blatant feudalism. This is what Marxists later termed “semi-feudalism”.

Those aspects of the old feudal order which were less restricting for capitalism remained for a long time and died out only slowly, adapting themselves or even being co-opted by specific subjective forces in the capitalist order e.g. religious or conservative anti-communist propaganda. Similarly, while the Socialist States quickly stamped out the most egregious ills of capitalism, remnants still managed to survive and sometimes the people of those states were even unaware of this. It takes both the necessary objective conditions of the new society as well as conscious work by the subjective forces: the people, to achieve liberation and rid ourselves of sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia and other ills of capitalism.

THE TACTICAL QUESTION

The tactical question of the matter essentially boils down to the question: “Revolution or Reform?”

The advocates of the theory of “we will fix it later in socialism” hold their view because they have a mistaken understanding of Marxist-Leninist theory. They have a one-sided view that exaggerates the danger of reformism. They want working class revolution, and see all other struggles as secondary and fundamentally reformist. This is a dangerous error. Such thinking isolates the Communists from the masses. The struggles of oppressed people are not secondary but deeply intertwined with the working class struggle.

1. Are questions of race, sex, etc. secondary to class?

Lenin could have been a dogmatist and said that the Peasant Question, Women’s Question or National Question are secondary and unimportant. But why didn’t he?

Because women are approximately half the population, our work depends on women. Because the vast majority of the Russian population were poor toiling peasants, it would have been inconceivable to succeed without them. Because the Russian Empire was a prison house of nations, it was inconceivable to build a socialist society based on trust, equality and co-operation without granting full rights to national minorities. Without such a policy, this wouldn’t have been a project of fraternity but of subjugation.

The working class is the most revolutionary class and class is the significant factor. In this sense the working class question is “primary”, but its only so in terms of the end goal, a classless communist society without oppression. In real praxis these other questions were never secondary, they were beneficial or necessary for the victory of the working class revolution.

2. The question of our alliance with oppressed minorities

The relatively small number of LGBT & trans people has made their struggle far more difficult and probably has contributed to it only being recognize so late. That said, isolating ourselves from LGBT & trans organizations because of their alleged “reformism” only hinders our movement and reduces its allies & forces. By the fact that they are oppressed, they belong to our movement. By the simple fact that we want true equality for all, their goal is the same as ours.

Some might argue, that because the number of LGBT & trans people is so small their chances of playing the crucial role is smaller. A popular movement without women is doomed to fail, but a movement that is missing a small minority, can still succeed. For the sake of argument let us assume this is correct: why should we deny ourselves this beneficial alliance even if it were possible to win without it? There is no good reason for it.

The same question applies to some very small national groups. Someone might argue that they are so few, that in the nationwide scheme they are not the deciding factor, but why deny ourselves this ally? All oppressed people are our allies.

Their number may be small but this probably doesn’t give a fair representation of their influence. There is reason to believe that oppressed people are more prone to Revolution & political activism, and this should be worthy of consideration for us.

3. Reform or Revolution?

Some people will to a varying degree argue explicitly (or more often implicitly) that the women’s movement, anti-racist movements, trans or LGBT movements are at the end of the day reformist in character and therefore not of any use for us, or worthy of our support.

Certainly there are reformist tendencies, in fact most non-communists are reformists. Liberals, social-democrats and all those who think that sexism, transphobia, homophobia and racism can be solved in the context of capitalism are by definition reformists. But what kind of a “mass movement” can we hope to become if we isolate ourselves from the masses because they are not communists?

These “reformist” movements should more accurately be termed “spontaneous” movements. Their problem is not principled dedication to reformist tactics, but a lack of class and political consciousness. They lack an understanding of the underlying causes of their oppression and act unconsciously, which results typically in reformist actions. The cure for unconscious action is political education. We should be eager to hear the complaints and grievances of the masses, and the experience to be learned from them. Likewise the masses are eager for political knowledge and better organizational forms – the fact that they are organizing themselves is proof of that.

The real reformist danger lies elsewhere. The real danger lies in semi-conscious political groups, even communist groups which take the opposite kind of one-sided approach. Groups that spend all their time focusing on issues which only impact a tiny minority. They neglect work towards working class revolution in favor of reformist actions, to fix capitalism for the oppressed groups. This task is doomed to fail as capitalism cannot be made something that it is not. Capitalism cannot be made into a fair & equal system.

Such movements are either outright liberal or simply have accepted liberal idealist political theory to such a degree that they look more like a liberal then a genuinely leftist organization. They serve neither the working class or other oppressed groups. Their work only serves capitalism as it hinders any real change. They should be exposed and criticized but the existence of such groups should not lead us to the wrong and one-sided view that rejects our work with oppressed groups, our alliance with them, us recruiting them into our ranks.

77f26e24f8f5bb1d724d77c5e16ab8f9.png

Thoughts on Hoxha & Hoxhaism

INTRODUCTION

This article will be my brief critique of Albanian socialist leader Enver Hoxha & his modern followers.

Enver Hoxha was a great Marxist-Leninist & anti-revisionist. His works are a valuable contribution to anti-revisionism and the practical application of Marxism-Leninism. This ought to be recognized by every communist.

The critical comments I’m about to make should not be interpreted as a condemnation of Hoxha’s significant work.

WHEN HOXHA WAS CORRECT

Hoxha perhaps most well known for his firm critique of Khrushchevite Revisionism:

“The true Marxist-Leninists will intensify their principled struggle for the exposure of the Khrushchevite and other modern revisionists”
(Hoxha, Reject the Revisionist Thesis of the 20th Congress)

As well as his outstanding work against Yugoslav revisionism:

“The Yugoslav renegades abandoned the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism on the socialist state right from the beginning…”
(Hoxha, Yugoslav “Self-Administration”)

However he also began to be very critical of Mao Tse-Tung’s China and this is where I feel he fell into serious errors. I will be writing a similar short article giving my thoughts on Maoism as well as the Juche Idea later. But for the time being let us point out that Mao also made mistakes, especially in the so-called “Three Worlds Theory” and it was entirely justified to point this out. In fact this was done by many supporters of Mao also.

One such pro-Mao communist was Harry Haywood who criticized the “incorrect strategic line of the Three Worlds Theory” in his article “China and its Supporters Were Wrong About USSR”. I will discuss the specifics of this issue in my future article on Mao.

WHEN HOXHA WAS WRONG

Let us now focus on Hoxha’s other criticisms of Maoist China.

1. The Peasant Question, People’s War

Hoxhaism claims that Mao gave up the leading role of the Proletariat to the Peasantry:

“Although he talked about the role of the proletariat, in practice Mao Tsetung underestimated its hegemony in the revolution and elevated the role of the peasantry.”
(Hoxha, Imperialism and the Revolution)

However, he in my opinion presents insufficient evidence to support this. Mao employed a worker-peasant alliance under the leadership of the Proletariat & the Communist Party as Lenin and Stalin did. Hoxha claims that in Mao’s case this was mere rhetoric and not true, and that in reality the Proletariat was never the leader, but I find this unconvincing.

Is there any doubt that the Communist Party was at the head of the Revolution? Is there any doubt that Communism is first and foremost a working class & not a peasant ideology? Hoxha’s best evidence seems to be the numerical superiority of the peasants, but the same argument was frequently made against Lenin by dogmatists.

Hoxha’s second piece of evidence is Mao’s slogan of ‘the countryside encircling the cities’. Hoxha claims that this was not merely a tactic but a deviation from Marxism-Leninism. In my opinion he fails to justify this. The soundness of the strategy was proven by the fact that they won. Are all guerrilla movements which hide in the countryside, mountains and forests going against Marxism-Leninism? Surely not.

Mao’s military strategy was based on Marxist-Leninist analysis & popularizing previous military writings, Sun Tzu’s Art of War in particular.

2. National Liberation, United Fronts, New Democracy

Hoxha argues that Mao was a class-collaborator:

“The revisionist concepts of Mao Tsetung have their basis in the policy of collaboration and alliance with the bourgeoisie”
(Hoxha, ibid.)

This is based on the fact that the Chinese Communist Party allied with all patriotic elements against the Japanese invasion in a nationwide united front. Does Hoxha denounce all united fronts? No he doesn’t, he cannot do that as united fronts are an accepted Marxist-Leninist tactic. Therefore Hoxha only denounces this particular united front.

Hoxha attacks the Maoist policy of ‘New Democracy’ as class collaboration, as the New Democratic State allowed the existence of not only workers but also capitalists & peasants under the leadership of the Communist Party. Hoxhaists might point out that the other classes also had some representation in the government, but to claim that the Proletariat & the Communist Party were not leading the State is quite frankly ridiculous.

The New Democratic State was designed as a transition from semi-feudalism & semi-colonialism to Socialism. The other socialist countries; ‘People’s Democracies’ in Eastern Europe as well as the Soviet Union during the NEP policy, grappled with these issues. Hoxha doesn’t denounce all of them, only Mao.

Hoxha attacks Mao for his idea that there are antagonistic & non-antagonistic class contradictions, i.e. that some class differences can be solved relatively peacefully in the context of the Worker’s State. It was necessary to violently overthrow the KMT, compradors & landlords. However the peasantry & patriotic forces that supported the Communists do not need to be dealt with in the same way.

The Bolsheviks did not immediately wipe out all the capitalist elements, instead they allowed them to exist in a restricted form during the NEP. The Bolsheviks first secured the gains of the Democratic Revolution and only later constructed Socialism. During the Collectivization of Agriculture the Bolsheviks wanted to “win over the middle-peasant” (and isolate the Kulak). This would be solving the contradiction between the workers and poor & middle-peasants in a peaceful non-antagonistic way. For some reason Hoxha doesn’t consider this to be class collaboration in the same way.

Considering that China was semi-colonial & even more backward then the Soviet Union, it should be expected that more compromises would have to be made with the classes with different but not antagonistic interests like the petit-bourgeois peasants. It would take longer to get rid of these social classes then in countries with more favorable conditions. Still the landlords were gotten rid of, agricultural collectivization was implemented, industry was nationalized.

MISTAKES OF MODERN HOXHAIST PRAXIS

I consider Hoxhaists my comrades. I am non-sectarian enough to support Hoxhaist parties such as the Brazilian PCR as based on the information from my Brazilian comrades they are the best party of their country. However there are elements in modern Hoxhaism which I’d prefer not to be there.

Hoxhaists have seem to have an ultra-left tendency of seeking “ideological purity” over all else. This means sectarianism, isolating themselves from others, attacking non-Hoxhaist Marxist-Leninists as “revisionists” and deadly enemies.

In general Hoxhaists seem incapable of distinguishing between disagreement, deviation & revisionism. A deviation is a one-sided mistaken line in Marxism. Naturally there are different degrees of deviation, some of which are more harmful then others. Revisionism means an anti-marxist trend, a line that contradicts with the core of marxism.

In my opinion Maoism & Juche both show some signs of deviation, but not revisionism. What I consider the flaws of Maoism are in no way on the same level as the anti-Marxist tendencies of Khrushchevite, Trotskyite or Titoite Revisionism.

I shouldn’t have to explain what disagreement means, but it seems it is necessary. We will always have disagreement about the correct tactics, the correct policies, the correct slogans. It is not always Revisionist to have different views.

It should be obvious to everyone that China not only nationalized large industry but also implemented policies of agricultural collectivization similar to the Soviet Union. The notion that they were not constructing socialism is absurd and based on a nitpicking “left-communist” attitude. They don’t care about the big picture. If they can find some excuse to denounce something as Revisionism, they will.

This conduct is not different from “Left-Communist”, “Orthodox Marxists”, Trotskyists and other armchair revolutionaries who claim “the Soviet Union was state capitalist because it still used money instead of labor vouchers” or some such nonsense. Unfortunately many Hoxhaists boldly proclaim such absurdities; “China was never building socialism. Mao was a Revisionist”. I say this is nonsense.

HOXHAISM OR LENINISM?

The biggest danger for Hoxhaists is sectarianism. They openly admit that they are Marxist-Leninists, that Hoxha was an anti-revisionist and not someone who created new theory. Hoxha’s writings popularized & applied Marxism-Leninism just like Stalin did, and Hoxha never sought to create a new “ism”. Hoxhaists should agree with this.

So why do we have Hoxhaist parties? Why do we have Hoxhaism? Hoxhaists feel that if a Marxist-Leninist organization doesn’t identify as Hoxhaist then probably a new party should be created, though they might come up with some other excuse for this splitting action.

Maybe I am a hopeless centrist for not being a Hoxhaist nor a Maoist. Maybe I am centrist for thinking its counter productive to spend most of one’s time denouncing Maoism & the DPRK as revisionists, enemies, worse then capitalists etc., instead of actually trying to advance Communism.

Particularly small parties and groups have a tendency for sectarianism & isolating themselves. This is true of many Maoist groups as well and seems to be a serious danger for all Hoxhaist groups. The Brazilian PCR doesn’t seem to suffer from this quite as much as some others, but I’ve been criticized for being “pro-Mao” by some Brazilian Hoxhaists (in a friendly discussion) as if that is what we should be worried about at this point.

You don’t see Maoists or Marxist-Leninists focusing all their time on attacking Hoxha, yet Hoxhaists seem obsessed with attacking us non-Hoxhaist M-Ls. This is wrecking activity and harms our movement.

Should there in my opinion exist specifically Hoxhaist parties? Absolutely not. We need Marxist-Leninist parties. Everyone should recognize the positive contribution of Hoxha and all the times when he was correct, we don’t need to be “Hoxhaists” to do that.

If some comrades insist on labeling themselves “Hoxhaists” then so be it. But that is not a big enough issue to split over, not from their point of view or mine. Like Hoxha, I call for ‘true Marxist-Leninist unity’.

Unity cannot be unprincipled, we cannot achieve unity by merely proclaiming that we have it and then still continue to have big differences which are brushed aside, we all know this. However to have disunity or split over minor questions is sectarian. The Hoxhaist vs. M-L split is obviously just such a minor question, to claim the opposite only proves my point.

The quest to have specifically Hoxhaist organizations, to have Hoxha’s face and name always visible as a priority, to split with those who don’t agree with Hoxha on everything is obviously sectarian.

Moscow Trials (Part 3 – THE GREAT PURGE)

The so-called Great Purge is best defined as a period of intense political turmoil inside the Soviet Party & State Apparatus, although it did also spread outside it to the military and other segments of the population.


The Military Purge & Vlasovites

The purge of the military involved hunting down anti-government elements, nazi-sympathisers, trotskyists, bourgeois nationalists & corrupt careerists inside the Soviet Red Army. In previous parts I already discussed the Tukhachevsky Trial, however the military purge extended beyond merely removing Marshall Tukhachevsky and some other Red Army leaders connected with him. Many lower officers were also demoted or removed, even arrested.

However the numbers of the people removed or arrested are wildly exaggerated in Western cold-war propaganda. One often hears ridiculous speculations about half, or even 75% of the Red Army leadership being removed, and in effect this greatly damaging the defensive capability of the USSR. This is baseless.

In reality the number of military leaders kept constantly increase during the course of war preparations. The number increased from approximately 140,000 to almost 300,000 within the years 1937-1939. The purge reached its height in 1937 when 7.7% of the army leaders were removed. (Let us also note that 30% of all those removed were re-instated in the military before the Second World War.)

This 7.7% is nothing close to the claimed 50-75% and would not have crippled the army. In reality, as there were fifth columnists and unreliable elements in the army, it was crucial they be removed. There were attempted Nazi or Pro-Nazi military coups and conspiracies in many other countries such as Finland, USA, Brazil, Denmark, Romania, Brazil and elsewhere. There were pro-nazi elements and collaborators in all the allied countries but this is often forgotten by anti-communist propagandists who accuse the USSR of paranoia and pointlessly purging the army & state.

Year 1937 1938 1939
Total number of military leader 144300 179000 282300
Number of leaders removed 11043 6742 205
Leaders removed (%) 7.7% 3.7% 0.08%

(Source: Getty, Stalinist Terror)


Even despite this purge there were notable cases of Soviet generals or officers defecting to the fascist side, most famously
general Vlasov, Bunyachenko and Meandrov. There were Brits, French and Americans also fighting on the Nazi side. In the case of the British and French they formed entire battalions: British Free Corps, Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism and individual Americans served in the Luftwaffe, Wehrmacht and SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers. Nazi collaboration and plots were a real threat.


The Purge of the Bureaucracy

Anti-Communists claim the purge was something ordered by Stalin to crush dissent. In actuality this is a major misconception. The purge was many different contradictory things. On the one hand it was the state removing enemies, nazi-sympathisers, trotskyists and bourgeois elements. However this didn’t happen with the State crushing popular dissent, instead it mostly targeted the state and bureaucracy itself.

Not only that but together with the NKVD hunt for enemies there was a wave of populist anti-bureaucratism and denouncing of corrupt careerists and right-wing elements by the lower ranks and non-party members.

“The two radical currents of the 1930s had converged in July 1937, and the resulting turbulence destroyed the bureaucracy …. Antibureaucratic populism and police terror destroyed the offices as well as the officeholders. Radicalism had turned the political machine inside out and destroyed the party bureaucracy.” (Getty)

“(T)he center was trying to unleash criticism of the middle-level apparat by the rank-and-file activists. Without official sanction and pressure from above, it would have been impossible for the rank and file, on their own, to organize and sustain such a movement against their immediate superiors.”
(Ibid.)

“The evidence suggests that the … ‘Great Purges’ should be redefined. It was not the result of a petrified bureaucracy’s stamping out dissent and annihilating old radical revolutionaries. In fact, it may have been just the opposite … a radical, even hysterical, reaction to bureaucracy. The entrenched officeholders were destroyed from above and below in a chaotic wave of voluntarism and revolutionary puritanism.” (Ibid.)

Yagoda’s Right-Wing plot

“Kirov in Leningrad must be removed… Brothers, fascists, if you can’t get to Stalin, kill Gorky, kill the poet Demiyan Bieni, kill Kaganovich.”
~ Za Rossiyu, Nov. 1, 1934 (Organ of the fascist Russian National League of New Regeneration)

Kulaks, ex-capitalists & nationalists would have served as the popular base for an anti-soviet coup’de’tat. But there were anti-soviet forces at every level of Soviet society, including among the military men, officials and police men.

The NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda was part of the Right-Wing conspiracy led by the Bukharin-Tomsky-Rykov triumphirate. He was complicit in the Leningrad Zinovievite-Trotskyite group’s assassination of party secretary Sergei Kirov.


“In 1934, before the murder of Kirov, the terrorist Leonid Nikolayev was picked up by OGPU agents in Leningrad. In his possession they found a gun. and a chart showing the route which Kirov traveled daily. When Yagoda was notified of Nikolayev’s arrest, he instructed Zaporozhetz, assistant chief of the Leningrad OGPU, to release the terrorist without further examination. Zaporozhetz was one of Yagoda’s men. He did what he was told. A few weeks later, Nikolayev murdered Kirov.”
(Kahn & Sayers, The Great Conspiracy)

“Yenukidze informed Maximov that “whereas formerly the Rights calculated that the Soviet Government could be overthrown by organizing certain of the more anti-Soviet minded strata of the population, and in particular the kulaks, now the situation had changed… and it is necessary to proceed to more active methods of seizing power.” Yenukidze described the new tactics of the conspiracy. In agreement with the Trotskyites, he said, the Rights had adopted a decision to eliminate a number of their political opponents by terrorist means.”

“Preparations for it have already begun,” Yenukidze added. He told Maximov that Yagoda was behind all this, and the conspirators had his protection.”
(Ibid.)

The forces of the conspiracy were: the forces of Yenukidze plus Yagoda, their organizations in the Kremlin and in the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs
~Bukharin, court proceedings

“Not all the details are yet known of the strange struggle which Stalin carried on for years against his own secret police…. The leading members of the secret police, which had become a separate caste, were bound neither to any ideology nor to any party policy. What they wanted–in the name, of course, and for the benefit of, the party–was far-reaching powers and also certain material advantages… They therefore kept up a continual struggle against any limitation of their authority. When Stalin sought to impose certain restrictions on their right to pronounce death sentences, they simply secured that the new courts which were to hear certain cases with the public excluded, should be formed from their own members, that is to say members of the police caste. Stalin’s continual pressure for more rigid supervision by organs of the party was just what drove Yagoda and his colleagues into opposition and later into conspiracy.”
(Nikolaus Basseches, Stalin p. 236)


The Right-Wing conspirator Grigory Tokaev, member of the Red Army who defected to the British in 1948 was part of a group which had connections to the Zinovievite-Trotskyite conspirators but also to Yenukidze & Yagoda. He wrote in his 1956 book:

“Not that our movement was completely at one with the Sheboldayev-Yenukidze group, but we knew what they were doing and… considered it our revolutionary duty to help them at a critical moment …. We disagreed on details, but these were nevertheless brave and honorable men, who had many a time saved members of our group, and who had a considerable chance of success.”
(Tokaev, Comrade X)

“The NKVD… took another step forward. The Little Politbureau had penetrated the Yenukidze-Sheboldayev and the Yagoda-Zelinsky conspiracies, and broken through the opposition’s links within the central institutions of the political police… Yagoda was removed from the NKVD, and we lost a strong link in our opposition intelligence service.”
(Tokaev, Comrade X)


The Ezhovshchina – “Ezhov-terror”


How can anyone now allow himself the stupidity of criticizing Stalin for repression and crimes? This was a psychosis that was cleverly instituted by Yezhov and other enemies of the State… this psychosis took over the minds of millions of people. Practically all were involved in looking for “enemies” … the resolution to do these things which were undertaken by the REAL ENEMIES of the Soviet people. No directives either of Stalin, Molotov, or Voroshilov were to be found in all of these documents.”
(Aleksei Rybin, Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard)

Another complication in the Purge was the so-called Ezhovshchina, the terror initiated by NKVD chief Nikolai Ezhov. While the NKDV cracked down on real enemies, real conspirators and counter-revolutionaries the leader of the NKVD itself, Ezhov was himself an anti-soviet conspirator. He protected the real conspirators to the best of his ability, while also arresting and even executing many innocent people to create popular distrust and hatred toward the government:

“Ezhov interrogation 04.30.39

“All this was done in order to cause widespread dissatisfaction in the population with the leadership of the Party and the Soviet government and in that way to create the most favorable base for carrying out our conspiratorial plans.””
(Pavliukov 525-6)

Enemies hiding in the party also expelled many members to create distrust and hatred towards the party and the government. One of them said:

“We endeavored to expel as many people from the party as possible. We expelled people when there were no grounds for expulsion. We had one aim in view – to increase the number of embittered people and thus increase the number of our allies.” (Getty)

Stalin responded by urging caution and trying to limit the amount of expulsions.

“It was necessary to hunt down active Trotskyites but not everyone who had been casually involved with them, Stalin announced. In fact, such a crude approach could “only harm the cause of the struggle with the active Trotskyist wreckers and spies.” … Each case of expulsion from the party for connections with the former oppositions should be dealt with carefully”
(Thurston, Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia p. 47-48)

“…the specific remedies he [Stalin] proposed for the remaining “problems” were in the benign areas of party education and propaganda rather than repression.”
(Getty & Naumov, p. 129)

In the end many expulsions were discovered to be unjustified and many members were allowed back in their posts:

“In the majority of cases the commission examined from 40 to 60 percent of those thrown out of the party had been reinstated. ”
(Thurston, p. 107)


In 1938 Ezhov’s actions were exposed and he was removed from power and sentenced as a traitor. Journalist Edgar Snow wrote about the Purge, or more accurately the Ezhovshchina:

“The sadistic Yagoda and Yezhov, who for a time ruled a state within a state–the GPU, were chiefly responsible for these outrages. By Yagoda’s own account his hirelings faked thousands of documents and so mixed up the records that it was impossible to tell a genuine dossier from a bogus one. Curiously the public does not seem to blame Stalin for having permitted such a Frankenstein to develop, but instead gives him credit for having cleaned up the Yagoda gang and brought the secret police back under full control of the Politburo–which he did when the GPU was crushed.”
(Edgar Snow, The Pattern of Soviet Power p. 148)

When Stalin still thought the NKVD under Ezhov’s command was carrying out wrongful actions only mistakenly, not deliberately, he said that:

“Wholesale expulsions based on this “heartless attitude” alienated party members and therefore served the needs of the party’s enemies. According to Stalin, such embittered comrades could provide addittional reserves for the Trotskyists “because the incorrect policy of some of our comrades on the question of expulsion from the party… creates these reserves… It is high time to put a stop to this outrageous practice, comrades.””
(Getty, Origins of the Great Purges p. 147)

Stalin and the Politburo tried to stop the NKVD from committing excesses. Eventually he would become suspicious and realize Yezhov and Yagoda had been carrying out these anti-people activities deliberately to create de-stabilization, popular resentment and distrust in the government.

The Communist Party Central Committee issued a decree to limit the NKVD’s power. They were worried that the NKVD’s wrong actions could cause mass resentment among the population. It would take some time until they learned this was precisely what Ezhov attempted to do:

“I. ON DISCONTINUING THE MASS EXPULSIONS OF PEASANTS
All mass expulsions of peasants are to cease at once… Only persons accused of counterrevolution, terroristic acts, sabotage… [and other serious crimes] may be taken into preventive custody.”

“The organs of the OGPU are to obtain the prior consent of the directorate of the procuracy in making arrests, except in cases involving terroristic acts, explosions, arson, espionage, defection, political gangsterism, and counter-revolutionary, antiparty groups…”
(Getty & Naumov)


“In 1937 and 1938, Stalin and company tried to contain radicalism through press articles, speeches, revised electoral plans, and deglorifying the police. That they had to take such measures shows their lack of tight control over events.”

(Getty, Origins of the Great Purges)


In June 1936, Stalin interrupted Yezhov at a Central Committee Plenum to complain about so many party members being expelled: 
YEZHOV: Comrades, as a result of the verification of party documents, we expelled more than 200,000 members of the party. 
STALIN: [interrupts] Very many. 
YEZHOV: Yes, very many. I will speak about this…. 
STALIN: [interrupts] If we expelled 30,000… and 600 former Trotskyists and Zinovievists, it would be a bigger victory. 
YEZHOV: More than 200,000 members were expelled. Part of this number of party members, as you know, have been arrested. 
At about this time, Stalin wrote a letter to regional party secretaries complaining about their excessive “repression” of the rank-and-file. This led to a national movement to reinstate expelled party members,… 
[Later in this plenum, Stalin spoke specifically on this question. Circumstantial evidence suggests that he was genuinely concerned that too many of the rank-and-file had been expelled because such large numbers of disaffected former members could become an embittered opposition.”
(
Getty and Manning, Stalinist Terror)

In 1938 Stalin and the Politbureau finally became so suspicious of Ezhov they appointed Beria as the NKVD second-in-command to keep an eye on Ezhov. Within the year Ezhov was removed:

By the fall of 1938 Yezhov’s leadership of the NKVD was under steady fire from various directions. The regime responded officially on Nov. 17, in a joint resolution of the Sovnarkom and the party Central Committee. This document went to thousands of officials across the USSR in the NKVD, the Procuracy, and the party, down to the raion level. Thus, the acknowledgement that grotesque mistakes and injustice had occurred … Enemies of the people and foreign spies had penetrated the security police and the judicial system and had “consciously…carried out massive and groundless arrests.”
(
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, p. 114)


Ezhov the Traitor

“Beria … at a closed joint session of the Central Committee and the Central Control Committee of the Party, held in the autumn of 1938 … declared that if Yezhov were not a deliberate Nazi agent, he was certainly an involuntary one. He had turned the central offices of the NKVD into a breeding ground for fascist agents.” Tokaev

“Yezhov bears great personal responsibility for the destruction of legality, for the falsification of investigative cases.”
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. p. 29

“The airplane designer Yakovlev recalls the following in his memoirs:
In the summer of 1940 Stalin said these precise words in a conversation with me:
Yezhov is a rat; in 1938 he killed many innocent people. We shot him for that.””
(Roy Medvedev, Let History Judge p. 529)

Ezhov as a member of the right-wing conspiracy was involved with foreign powers, with the Bukharin-tomsky-Rykov trio and Yagoda-Yenukidze plot:

“Later, in 1939, during interrogation, Ezhov confirmed that in 1935 he had indeed gone again to Vienna to be treated for pneumonia by Dr. Noorden … he confessed to having used the visit for contacting the German intelligence service.”
(Jansen & Petrov, Yezhov p. 36)

As Stalin and Beria were on his trail Ezhov and his group hastily began thinking of ways to save themselves:

“After his arrest, Ezhov was accused of having schemed against the Party leadership. He testified himself that after arrests began within the NKVD he, together with Frinovskii, Dagin, and Evdokimov, made plans to commit a “putsch” on 7 November 1937… Dagin, who was chief of the NKVD guard department, was to execute the plan, but on 5 November he was arrested, followed a few days later by Evdokimov. Ezhov alone could not prevent Beria’s initiative. “This way all our plans collapsed.”
(Ibid.)

“Evdokimov gave similar evidence. According to him, in September he discussed the threatening situation after Beria’s appointment with Ezhov, Frinovskii, and Bel’skii. Allegedly, they agreed to prepare an attempt on Stalin and Molotov. Ezhov was also said to have had plans to murder Beria.”
(Ibid.)

“After arrest he [Yezhov] himself confessed to having conspired against Stalin and having planned an attempt on him; this was confirmed by a number of accomplices and witnesses.”
(Ibid.)


Putting an end to Ezhovshchina

On November 17, 1938, Stalin and Molotov issued a decision, putting an end to Ezhov’s excesses:

“The general operations — to crush and destroy enemy elements — conducted by the NKVD in 1937-1938, during which investigation and hearing procedures were simplified, showed numerous and grave defects in the work of the NKVD and prosecutor. Furthermore, enemies of the people and foreign secret service spies penetrated the NKVD, both at the local and central level. They tried by all means to disrupt investigations. Agents consciously deformed Soviet laws, conducted massive and unjustified arrests and, at the same time, protected their acolytes, particularly those who had infiltrated the NKVD.

“The completely unacceptable defects observed in the work of the NKVD and prosecutors were only possible because enemies of the people had infiltrated themselves in the NKVD and prosecutor offices, used every possible method to separate the work of the NKVD and prosecutors from the Party organs, to avoid Party control and leadership and to facilitate for themselves and for their acolytes the continuation of their anti-Soviet activities.

“The Council of People’s Commissars and the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) resolves:

“1. To prohibit the NKVD and prosecutors from conducting any massive arrest or deportation operation ….

“The CPC and the CC of the CPSU(b) warn all NKVD and prosecutor office employees that the slightest deviation from Soviet laws and from Party and Government directives by any employee, whoever that person might be, will result in severe legal proceedings.

V. Molotov, J. Stalin.”
(Nouvelles de Moscou p. 15)

“Other opposition to Yezhov manifested itself at the beginning of 1938. At that time, a large group of NKVD employees complained to the Central Committee about Yezhov. They accused him of illegal use of government funds and also of the secret execution of a number of prominent party members without investigation or a court examination. In January 1938, the Central Committee Plenum produced a resolution criticizing excessive vigilance. Prominent in the movement to criticize Yezhov’s actions was Zhdanov, who played an important role in drafting the January 1938 resolution.”
(Getty and Manning p. 36)

“…at the end of 1938 Stalin removed Yezhov, disavowed the latter’s excesses, ordered the arrest of the purgers, and released a number of those “falsely arrested.””
(Getty & Naumov, p. 419)

“In December 1938, the campaign came to a complete halt. Most pending investigations for counter-revolutionary activities were dropped and the suspects released. Yezhov was dismissed as head of the NKVD and replaced by Beria. A number of leading NKVD officers were arrested and some executed for having extracted false confessions. Most regional heads of the security police were purged, and many were subject to criminal actions. Past abuses were widely criticized. Both Yagoda and Yezhov were denounced as enemies of the people. Numerous cases were reinvestigated and quite a few of the sentenced released”
(Szymanski, Human Rights in the Soviet Union p. 239)

Lack of oversight. This allowed Ezhov to function.

When interviewed by Feliks Chuev for his memoirs, Molotov gave the following explanation:

CHUEV: Didn’t the security agencies place themselves above the party?
MOLOTOV: No, that’s not so…. There was not enough time. We lacked resources. I did not say that the Politburo was overly trusting, but I did say that insufficient oversight was exercised. I disagree that we were overly trusting. The oversight was inadequate.”
(Feliks Chuev, Molotov Remembers, p. 262)

“I believe there were deficiencies and mistakes. It couldn’t have been otherwise with our enemies operating within the security agencies in charge of investigations…. The major deficiencies were that the security agencies had been left without due oversight by the party during certain periods. The negligence was not purposeful. The resources for adequate oversight were insufficient.”
(Ibid p. 287)

“…These errors were largely caused by the fact that at certain stages the investigations fell into the hands of people who were later exposed as traitors guilty of heinous, hostile, antiparty acts. ”
(p. 288)

Ezhovshchina’s role compared to the Purging of real enemies

Despite dwelling on the Ezhovshchina, the majority of enemies arrested & executed were not innocents. The purge was a period of extreme political turmoil but it still only affected a minority of the soviet population. Its impact has been exaggerated.


“To the rest of the world it seemed at the time that Russia was enveloped in a smothering atmosphere of plots, murders, and purges. Actually this was a superficial view since, although the rest of the world was morbidly interested in the trials to the exclusion of anything else about Russia, only a tiny percentage of the population was involved and the same years which saw the treason trials saw some of the greatest triumphs of Soviet planning. While the screws tightened on a tiny minority the majority of Soviet people were enjoying greater prosperity and greater freedom.”
(Jerome Davis, Behind Soviet Power , p. 30)

“In the so called Moscow trials 55 people got capital punishment and 7 imprisonment. Most of those prosecuted were persons in high positions in the party, the state apparatus and the army”
(Mario Sousa, The Class Struggle During the Thirties in the Soviet Union)


Propagandists like Robert Conquest, Solzhenitsyn and Snyder claim that tens of millions perished in the purge, they even ignore the very real nazi-collaboration and trotskyite-bukharinite opposition inside the country. Despite Solzhenitsyn claiming that Stalin had killed 60 million people, nearly half of the Soviet population, the real facts say something very different:

“The true number of those falsely accused of counter-revolutionary activities who were executed in the 1936-38 period, is probably between 20,000 and 100,000… the popular conception of the bloodiness of the Great Purge is a gross exaggeration cultivated by those concerned to discredit developments in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and since, as well as the contemporary or revolutionary process in other countries.”
(
Albert Szymanski, Human Rights in the Soviet Union)

“…(t)he archival evidence from the secret police rejects the astronomically high estimates often given for the number of terror victims.”
(Getty & Naumov, p. xiv)

“(t)he data available at this point make it clear that the number shot in the two worst purge years [1937-38] was more likely in the hundreds of thousands than in the millions… there are good reasons for assuming that they are not wildly wrong because of the consistent way numbers from different sources compare with one another.”
(Getty & Naumov, p. 591-93)


Despite the hysterical anti-communist propaganda, most of those sentenced were guilty, not innocent. The destruction of the anti-soviet Fifth Column was necessary.

“…To say that all the repressions were unwarranted is, I consider, incorrect. There was a sufficiently high number of enemies in the country after the revolution, dissatisfied people–political criminals as well as ordinary criminals. There was also a good deal of banditry going on in the country; on the collective farms they had to put up with murders of activists and people taking up arms. There were victims, of course. The repressions about which so much is written and talked about today were not at all on the scale that is stated now. “Hundreds of millions of repressed”, they say. Nonsense!”
(Rosamond Richardson, Stalin’s Shadow)

“For 10 years I have worked alongside some of the many recently shot, imprisoned, or exiled in Russia as wreckers. Some of my friends have asked me whether or not I believe these men and women are guilty as charged. I have not hesitated a moment in replying that I believe most of them are guilty.”
–Bruce Franklin (in The Essential Stalin p. 26)


The Fifth Column was at our doorstep. Without destroying them we could not have won the war.”
–Kaganovich (
Feliks Chuyev, Thus Spake Kaganovich)

If the fifth column had not been dealt with the USSR would probably have faced the same fate as Norway, Czechoslovakia and France:

“… the Fascists had their own way in the country at large and in the Army. The anti-Communist agitation was a smoke screen behind which was being prepared the great political conspiracy that was to paralyze France and facilitate Hitler’s work… The most efficient instruments of the Fifth Column… were Weygand, Petain and Laval… as they had seized power amid the confusion of the collapse, Petain and Weygand, with the help of Laval and Darlan, hastened to suppress all political liberties, gag the people, and set up a Fascist regime.”
–French Minister of Aviation Pierre Cot, Triumph of Treason

“Hitler’s march into Prague in 1939 was accompanied by the active military support of Henlein’s organizations in Czechoslovakia. The same thing was true of his invasion of Norway. There were no Sudeten Henleins, no Slovakian Tisos, no Belgian De Grelles, no Norwegian Quislings in the Russian picture…

The story had been told in the so-called treason or purge trials of 1937 and 1938 which I attended and listened to. In re examining the record of these tasks and also what I had written at the time… I found that practically every device of German Fifth Columnist activity, as we now know it, was disclosed and laid bare by the confessions and testimony elicited at these trials of self-confessed “Quislings” in Russia…

All of these trials, purges, and liquidations, which seemed so violent at the time and shocked the world, are now quite clearly a part of a vigorous and determined effort of the Stalin government to protect itself from not only revolution from within but from attack from without. They went to work thoroughly to clean up and clean out all treasonable elements within the country. All doubts were resolved in favor of the government.

There were no Fifth Columnists in Russia in 1941 – they had shot them. The purge had cleansed the country and rid it of treason.”
~Joseph E. Davies

Unfortunately, many foreigners left the Soviet Union during 1937 and 1938 for one reason or another, carrying away with them the impression that the purge ended everything, or at least ended something; an epoch, let us say. Everyone worthwhile had been arrested or shot, it seemed. This impression was basically incorrect. The purge caused many arrests, but the Soviet Union was large, and millions of Russians who had not been involved personally in the purge took it more or less as it came without allowing it permanently to influence their attitude toward the Soviet power. So that in the end of 1938 when the purge ended, when hundreds of arrested people were released with terse apologies for ‘mistakes’ of the investigators, when new arrests stopped or almost stopped, most of the workers in Magnitogorsk had an essentially cheerful and optimistic view of things.” 
(
Scott, John. Behind the Urals)

Conclusion

The notion that the Purge was the action of an omnipotent state machine to crack down on dissent has proven incorrect. The purge most of all targeted the bureacy itself and not so much the general public.

The idea that all those accused of treason were innocent victims of frame-ups has also been proven false. The axis fifth column in Soviet Russia was destroyed but individual members of it still lived to escape to the West and tell of their treason. However these individuals are ignored by anti-communist propagandists. They don’t fit the narrative.

The purge was a somewhat hysterical and paranoid reaction, but to very real threats and very real enemies.

There is good evidence to believe most of those punished were really guilty. The number of victims is blown out of all proportion by cold-war propagandists like Robert Conquest, Solzhenitsyn and their modern followers. The fact that archival evidence and other kinds of reliable evidence were not available to western researchers in the cold-war, allowed them to speculate wildly and invent such insane death tolls as 10 million, 20 million or even 60 million.

When the Soviet Union collapsed anti-communist propagandists refused to believe Soviet population was as high as it was, it should have been half of that, if we were to believe tens of millions had been killed and another 27 million had died in WWII.

Many modern western researchers give the real number of deaths as around 700,000 (less then 0.5% of the population) and this includes those wrongfully killed by Ezhov which cannot be blamed on the Soviet Communist Party, while there are those who also propose even lower figures.

The purge was an expression of vicious class struggle and the aftermath of the Revolution & Civil war.

In its method, motive or scale it doesn’t compare to capitalist genocides like:

the Congolese genocide: Belgian Leopold II’s killing 10 million congolese causing the population of the Congo to fall by 25%. The Congo was Leopold’s “private property” which he could exploit as he saw fit.

The Haitian genocide: European colonialists killed off most of the indigineous population (about a million people)

Spanish conquest of the Americas wiped out most of the indigineous population causing it to fall from estimated 22 million to around mere 2 million.

The slave trade killed an approximate 100 million African slaves.

The Nazi holocaust systematically exterminated millions and their wars of aggression killed tens of millions more.

The CIA orchestrated the mass killing of from 500,000 to up a million suspected communists in Indonesia and carried out similar atrocities in other countries.

The United States has killed countless millions around the world in wars of aggression in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan etc. and consciously wiped out most of it’s own native populations.

Some will argue that those things happened a long time ago. But so did the Great Purge. While the purge happened in the late 30s, at the same time capitalist Great Britain still advocated bloody colonialism and knowingly starved millions of Bengalese. At the same time France still considered Vietnam as its own property and pursued a similar policy of shipping rice out from Vietnam starving millions. Supported by German banks and industrial capitalists, Hitler was killing millions of jews, slavs, communists & democratic forces.

In 1953 the CIA overthrows the democratically elected president of Iran and institutes a dictatorship. A year later the CIA overthrows the Guatemalan president and sets up a puppet dictator. The same year the CIA begins to attack independence forces in Vietnam.

The USA which still followed a policy of racial segregation, initiates CIA operation MOCKINGBIRD and recruits hundreds of journalists in various media outlets to become operatives. Shortly 25 biggest media outlets have CIA operatives controlling them.

Atrocities, even genocides, murderous wars of profit, toppling democratic governments, racist policies, outright colonialism & slavery by the capitalist powers are largely ignored by capitalist anti-communist propaganda. Communist wrong doings are invented, or exaggerated and all context is removed. Those targeted are described as innocent victims, whether they be fascists, supporters of monarchist absolutism, colonialism or simply criminals. Anything the communists do is declared to be bad.

History has been turned on its head by the anti-communists. Nazi collaborators & colonialists are treated as respectable figures. To hide their own wrong doings they blame others. Facts are not on their side, but they control distribution. They have a louder voice. The consensus by the corporate and right-wing media and academia to cover up capitalist crimes and slander socialism, can be called nothing else but a modern OPERATION MOCKINGBIRD.

SOURCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Getty, Stalinist Terror
https://books.google.fi/books?redir_esc=y&id=NWYvGYcxCjYC&q=officer#v=snippet&q=officer&f=false

Kahn & Sayers, The Great Conspiracy
http://www.shunpiking.org/books/GC/

Nikolaus Basseches, Stalin quoted here:
https://espressostalinist.com/the-real-stalin-series/yezhovshchina/

Bruce Franklin (The Essential Stalin) available at:
http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/trotskyism/the%20essential%20Stalin.htm

Rosamond Richardson, Stalin’s Shadow

Albert Szymanski, Human Rights in the Soviet Union
https://ia800300.us.archive.org/6/items/HumanRightsInTheSovietUnion/Human%20Rights%20in%20the%20Soviet%20Union.pdf

Jerome Davis, Behind Soviet Power
https://books.google.fi/books/about/Behind_Soviet_power.html?id=DV0fAQAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y

Feliks Chuev, Molotov Remembers

Jansen & Petrov, Yezhov
https://books.google.fi/books/about/Stalin_s_Loyal_Executioner.html?id=KqojAQAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y

Roy Medvedev, Let History Judge (try to find original source)

Getty, Origins of the Great Purges
https://books.google.fi/books/about/Origins_of_the_Great_Purges.html?id=R5zx54LB-A4C&redir_esc=y

Edgar Snow, The Pattern of Soviet Power
https://ia800203.us.archive.org/6/items/ThePatternOfSovietPower/The%20Pattern%20of%20Soviet%20Power.pdf

Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror
https://books.google.fi/books/about/The_Road_to_Terror.html?id=wZ-v1Gj7UhIC&redir_esc=y

Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia
https://books.google.fi/books/about/Life_and_Terror_in_Stalin_s_Russia_1934.html?id=BgQpfVi8Z-wC&redir_esc=y

Pavliukov, Aleksei. Ezhov. Biografiia

Tokaev, Comrade X
http://epizodsspace.airbase.ru/bibl/inostr-yazyki/Tokaev_Comrade_X_1956.pdf


Feliks Chuyev, Thus Spake Kaganovich

Scott, John. Behind the Urals
https://books.google.fi/books?redir_esc=y&id=JvH63H0s0agC&q=bandits#v=snippet&q=These%20agents%20bred%20purges&f=false


Joseph Davies, Mission to Moscow
https://archive.org/details/missiontomoscow035156mbp

Genocide of Congo
http://www.walkingbutterfly.com/2010/12/22/when-you-kill-ten-million-africans-you-arent-called-hitler/

The death toll of transatlantic slave-trade is controversial. 105 million death toll is the absolute max. This article places it at an approximate 60 million.
http://www.worldfuturefund.org/Reports/Slavedeathtoll/slaverydeathtoll.html

CIA & Suharto mass killing in Indonesia
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/aug/01/indonesia.comment

The Haitian native population fell by 85%
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/what-became-of-the-taino-73824867/

Aztec & Inca population
http://dopeaztec.weebly.com/graph-charttable.html

Why do we need Marxism-Leninism?

Reichstag.jpg

Why do we need Marxism-Leninism specifically?
Are there not many equally valid roads to socialism?

PHILOSOPHICAL WORLD OUTLOOK

Marxism-Leninism has the most accurate, scientific, world outlook:
Dialectical Materialism. All the alternatives to this, e.g. idealism, mechanical materialism etc. are inadequate. Other left-wing ideologies either use Marxian dialectics, or bourgeois outlooks. They haven’t put forth their own viable alternative.

ORGANIZATION & TACTICS

Marxism-Leninism has the most effective organizational form & tactics:
Vanguardism & Democratic Centralism. Marxism-Leninism rejects conspiracy & isolated acts of individuals. We seek revolution through organizing the working class & its reserve forces into a vanguard which acts as a front line & general staff of the revolution. This can be achieved through democratic centralism which combines the effectiveness of unity & discipline with democracy. We reject a loose disunited organization & movement without leadership. We advocate leadership through example & guidance, by the most politically conscious members of the working class. If the party’s policies, tactics and positions are correct it will succeed in rallying support around it and to revolution.

Loose movements with no unity, leadership which romanticize unconscious spontaneity don’t succeed. Allegedly non-hierarchical forms fail & “degenerate” to hierarchy or centralism betraying their principles.

MATERIALIST ECONOMIC THEORY & ANALYSIS OF IMPERIALISM

Marxism-Leninism has the most scientifically accurate theory of political economy: Marxian Economics with Lenin’s analysis of modern imperialism. Other leftist movements haven’t produced an alternative theory to fit the task at hand. They either use Marx’s economics & the Leninist concept of imperialism, or bourgeois notions. “Orthodox Marxism” & other “non-leninist marxists” also fail as their theory is lacking in this regard.

COHESIVE LOGICALLY SOUND IDEOLOGY

Marxism-Leninism is a logical whole. A cohesive ideological frame work, not a hodge-podge of internally contradictory, inconsistent parts forced together like some other ideologies. Leninism not only updated (modernized) and defended, but also developed Marxism further while being fully compatible with it. Marxism-Leninism is the modern form of scientific communism.

On the other hand Anarcho-Communism tries to fit the utopian Communist ideas of Kropotkin together with the individualism of Proudhon. Titoism tries to fit markets together with socialist planning. Those are ideologies with incompatible parts or compromises where compromises are not really possible.

CLEAR ANALYSIS OF OUR HISTORY BASED ON MATERIALISM

As Marxism-Leninism is a materialist ideology it is able to honestly and thoroughly analyse history and past revolutionary experience. Not a dogma, but a guide to action Marxism-Leninism offers a powerful methodology for analyzing the world.

Why do some revolutions fail while others succeed? Why did the Soviet Union in the end not reach communism? Marxist-Leninist theory offers ways of getting to those answers. The Anarchist Movement is incapable of adequately explaining its past failures, and thus incapable of learning from those mistakes. Trotskyism either falls into reformism or defeatism as it also has an inadequate way of explaining the past successes & failures of our movement.

We defend the historical legacy of socialism against attacks by anti-communist propagandists. Our movement has achieved tremendous things, and to denounce them or to discard that wealth of experience would be utterly foolish.

It is crucial that our analysis of history is accurate and not colored by bourgeois propaganda. We must know the real facts; to repeat the successes but not the failures of the past.

Those who under the persuasion of anti-communist propaganda, disregard or denounce the glorious history of existing socialism are making a great mistake.

UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE

Marxism-Leninism can be applied in a variety of different forms depending on the historical context or geographical location, in short material conditions. These applications will necessarily change over time.

Marxism-Leninism doesn’t require revolutions to happen in specific countries or in the exact same way. We argue that concrete conditions determine if countries can have revolutions. This is not determined by any moral or ideological prejudice. Marxism-Leninism rejects the Trotskyist notion that revolution can/should only occur in many countries at once or not at all.

The socialist revolution must be led by the working class vanguard. However we reject the dogmatist notion that it can only occur in wealthy non-colonized countries. We argue that working class revolution can happen not only by proletarians alone against capitalism, but also under the leadership of the communist workers in a worker-peasant alliance, or together with oppressed people fighting for national-liberation, or with broad struggle against feudalism, or for instance together with a democratic revolution or movement against fascism i.e., in countless different ways depending on the situation.

This is because our movement is meant to analyze and work based on the real world, and form our practical work based on what works in reality, responding to real conditions instead of imposing an ideological dogma on the situation or trying to force reality to fit a predetermined ideologically motivated model like a square peg into a round hole.

The Moscow Trials (Part 2: COURT PROCEEDINGS)

The Trials (1936-1938)

The Moscow Trials were a series of separate though connected trials. They were the following:

August 19-24, 1936 “The Case of the Trotskyite Zinovievite Terrorist Centre” known widely as the “Zinoviev-Kamenev Trial”. This trial mainly concerned the Trotskyist-Zinovievite underground and their connection with the Murder of Sergei Kirov.

January 23-30, 1937 “The Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre” or “The Piatakov-Radek Trial” which continued the NKVD investigation of the Trotskyite conspiratorial bloc.

May-June 1937 “Tukhachevsky Affair” concerning the military conspiracy and collaboration with foreign powers & fascists.

And finally, March 2-13, 1938 “The Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.’” or “the Bukharin Rykov Trial” which convicted the last major members of the conspiracy. At this point it had become clear that the main conspiracies were actually all connected. The military conspiracy, the underground political opposition bloc and the wrecking in industry, espionage for foreign powers etc.

The parties involved in each were not in agreement but they worked together towards the common enemy. Some members were Trotskyists who agreed to help Germany for their own reasons, others were bourgeois elements hostile to the USSR or Bukharinites. Many were ex-members of the Left Opposition, United Opposition or the Right-Opposition, but not all. Some were recruited by Trotskyists, some by Zinovievites or Bukharinites. Some were in contact with Sedov or even Trotsky but most were not. Others were recruited by German intelligence and had no direct connection to Trotskyism at all.


But how believable were the accusations? How fair were the Trials in reality?


Main counter arguments:

1) Allegation that the accusations were incredible.

These days one often hears the claim that such a conspiracy was incredible, unbelievable, couldn’t have happened or something else to that effect. Really the findings of the Moscow Trials were widely accepted in mainstream discussion until Khruschevs’ Secret Speech of 1956. We will return to this detail later. The evidence the Soviets had was strong and credible, in the end only few groupings chose to disbelieve it due to political convictions. These groups were hardcore anti-communists & Trotskyists.

Of course Trotsky would have known the Trial findings were accurate. Similarly the Anti-Communists might have believed them also. Still both parties accused the Soviets of wrongdoing or frame ups in their own propaganda for obvious propaganda reasons.

U.S. Embassador to the USSR Joseph E. Davies was present at the Moscow Trials and said he felt the trial was fair and not staged:


“With an interpreter at my side, I followed the testimony carefully. Naturally I must confess that I was predisposed against the credibility of the testimony of these defendants… Viewed objectively, however, and based upon my experience in the trial of cases and the application of the tests of credibility which past experience had afforded me, I arrived at the reluctant conclusion that the state had established its case, at least to the extent of proving the existence of a widespread

conspiracy and plot among the political leaders against the Soviet government, and which under their statutes established the crimes set forth in the indictment… I am still impressed with the many indications of credibility which obtained in the course of the testimony. To have assumed that this proceeding was invented and staged as a project of dramatic political fiction would be to presuppose the creative genius of a Shakespeare and the genius of a Belasco in stage production. The historical background and surrounding circumstances also lend credibility to the testimony. The reasoning which Sokolnikov and Radek applied in justification of their various activities and their hoped-for results were consistent with probability and entirely plausible. The circumstantial detail… brought out by the various accused, gave unintended corroboration to the gist of the charges.”
(Davies, Mission to Moscow)

Davies was not alone in his views. He wrote in his diary:

“DIARY Moscow February 11, 37


The Belgian Minister, De Tellier, has been here a long time. I had a most interesting discussion with him to-day. He is experienced, able, shrewd, and wise; and knows his Europe well. The defendants in the trial were guilty, in his opinion.


DIARY Moscow February 18, 1937

The Minister called. Re trial: There was no doubt but that a widespread conspiracy existed and that the defendants were guilty.


DIARY Moscow March 11, 1937

Another diplomat, Minister – , made a most illuminating statement to me yesterday. In discussing the trial he said that the defendants were undoubtedly guilty; that all of us who attended the trial had practically agreed on that; that the outside world, from the press reports, however, seemed to think that the trial was a put-up job (facade, as he called it); that while we knew it was not, it was probably just as well that the outside world should think so.(ibid.)

Despite the fact that some bourgeois outlets wanted to portray the Trials as a hoax, many mainstream media outlets were eventually forced to admit the Trials were fair:

The defendants admitted frankly that they resorted to individual terror as a last resort, fully knowing that disaffection in the country now is not sufficiently strong to bring them into power in any other way… It is futile to think the trial was staged and the charges trumped up. The Government’s case against the defendants is genuine.”
The Observer, August 23


Other foreign visitors to the USSR voiced similar opinions:

“I studied the legal procedure in criminal cases in Soviet Russia somewhat carefully in 1932, and concluded … that the procedure gave the ordinal accused a very fair trial… The charge was a serious one. A group of men… under some measure of suspicion for counter-revolutionary or deviationist activities, and most of them having had such activities condoned in the past on assurances of the loyalty in the future, were now charged with long, cold-blooded, deliberate conspiracy to bring about the assassination of Kirov (who was actually murdered in December, 1934), of Stalin, of Voroshilov and other prominent leaders.

Their purpose, it seemed, was merely to seize power for themselves, without any pretence that they had any substantial following in the country… And at no stage was any suggestion made by any of them that any sort of improper treatment had been used to persuade them to confess. The first thing that struck me, as an English lawyer, was the almost free-and-easy dameanour of the prisoners. They all looked well…”
D.N. Pritt (quoted in The Moscow Trial Was Fair)

“Why did sixteen accused men all confess guilty… if they had been maltreated in prison, surely some signs of this would have been visible to the public, or at least one of them would have made some sort of a statement on the matter… To plead innocent was impossible because the proofs were overwhelming, and all these people knew this.”
Pat Sloan, ibid.

Even many members of the “American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky” ended up changing their minds and being convinced of Trotsky’s guilt. Among these people were journalists Carleton Beals and Lewis Gannett, Nation magazine editor Freda Kirchwey and Nation contributor Mauritz A. Hallgren who wrote:

“…Since joining your committee I have given deep and earnest thought to the whole problem here involved. I have examined, so far as they have been made available in this country, all of the documents bearing upon the case. I have followed closely all of the news reports. I have consulted some of the reports made by non-Communists who attended the first trial. I have carefully studied the published arguments of the partisans on both sides. And I have just as carefully restudied the writings of Trotsky concerning his case against Stalinism…

It is said by some that they have been hypnotized into confessing… For example, the unamity with which the men have been confessing is taken as proof that the confessions are false and have been obtained by some mysterious means. Yet these assertions rest upon no tangible or logical proof whatever… The very unamity of the defendants, far from proving that this trial is also a “frame-up”, appears to me to prove directly the contrary. For if these men are innocent, then certainly at least one of the three dozen, knowing that he faced death in any case, would have blurted out the truth. It is inconceivable that out of this great number of defendants, all should lie when lies would not do one of them any good. But why look beyond the obvious for the truth, why seek in mysticism or in dark magic for facts that are before one’s very nose? Why not accept the plain fact that the men are guilty?”
Mauritz A. Hallgren (Why I Resigned From the Trotsky Defense Committee)

2) The claim that the accused were Tortured or threatened.

While the USSR had a law which allowed the use of physical pressure by the NKVD there is no evidence the defendents in question were tortured.

The novelist and playwright Lion Feuchtwanger was visiting the Soviet Union at the time of the Pyatakov-Radek Trial. He wrote:

The first and most reasonable supposition is, of course, that the confessions were extracted from the prisoners by torture and by the threat of still worse tortures. Yet this first conjecture was refuted by the obvious freshness and vitality of the prisoners, by their whole physical and mental aspect… There was no justification of any sort for imagining that there was anything manufactured, artificial, or even awe-inspiring or emotional about these proceedings.”
(
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937, p. 121-122)


Journalist John Gunther also wrote about the trial:

It was said that the prisoners were tortured, hypnotized, drugged (in order to make them give false confessions) and–a choice detail– impersonated by actors of the Moscow Art theater! But the trials occurred soon after the preliminary investigations were concluded, and they took place before hundreds of witnesses, many of them experienced correspondents, in open court… Pressure there certainly was, in the manner of police investigation all over the world, but no evidence of torture.”
(
John Gunther, Inside Europe)

The most common allegation is that Bukharin was tortured, however according to Bukharin biographer Steven Cohen claims he couldn’t have been:

“It seems that no physical tortures were used against him [Bukharin] in prison.”
(Cohen, Bukharin na Lubianke, Svobodnaia Mysl’ 21, No. 3 (2003), pp. 60-1.)


Historian Asen Ignatov agrees: “We may be confident that Bukharin did not undergo torture.”
(Asen Ignatov,
Revoliutsiia pozhiraet svoikh vunderkindov. Sluchai Bukharina s psikhologicheski tochki zreniia. Forum 1 (2005))


Historian Edvard Radzinsky:

“There are many legends about the tortures which induced him to take part in this ignominious farce. It is a pity to debunk a good legend… No, there was no torture. And it seems unlikely that the delicate and hysterical Bukharin would have written so many literary works in the intervals of torture.” 
(Edvard Radzinsky, Stalin)

Some have opted to say that instead Bukharin confessed falsely in order to help the party but this seems unlikely too. There is no evidence for his innocence but there is for his guilt. According to Bukharin’s testimony he chose to confess after learning the evidence the NKVD had against him, how many others had been caught, and who had implicated him. This seems logical. We will return to Bukharin’s statements a bit later.

The claims of torture are extremely common but baseless. If there was solid evidence, we would have seen it by now. Further more the fact someone was tortured doesn’t imply innocence or that their testimony is inaccurate. It casts doubt on the accuracy of their statements for sure, so that the testimony has to be re-evaluated in the light of other evidence. On top of that, it seems unlikely that when cross examined witnesses could give mutually corrobarative, detailed statements about facts they allegedly knew nothing about or didn’t participate in. It is far more likely they were able to give these statements because they were truthful.


In the two following sections we will deal with the Dewey Commission & the political “Rehabilitations” of Khruschev and Gorbachev and the arguments they made against the Moscow Trials.


Political “Rehabilitations” by Khruschev & Gorbachev

Aleksandr Shelepin gave a speech in favor of Khruschev. He quoted from Iakir’s letter to Stalin of June 9, 1937.

“A series of cynical resolutions by Stalin, Kaganovich, Molotov, Malenkov and Voroshilov on the letters and declarations made by those imprisoned testifies to the cruel treatment of people, of leading comrades, who found themselves under investigation. For example when it was his turn Iakir – the former commander of a military region – appealed to Stalin in a letter in which he swore his own complete innocence. Here is what he wrote:

I am a noble warrior, devoted to the Party, the state and the people, as I was for many years. My whole conscious life has been passed in selfless, honest work in the sight of the Party and of its leaders… Now I am honest in my every word…
–Speech to the 22nd Party Congress of the CPSU, Pravda, October 27, 1961

The problem here is that Shelepin has taken this letter entirely out of context and lied about it’s contents. He claims Iakir was innocent and always proclaimed his innocence. In reality in this letter he actually admits guilt, but Shelepin has chosen to omit this part. The full text of the letter first came out in 1994. Here are some of parts left out by Shelepin:

Dear, close comrade Stalin. I dare address you in this manner because I have said everything, given everything up, and it seems to me that I am a noble warrior, devoted to the Party… Then the fall into the nightmare, into the irreparable horror of betrayal. . . . The investigation is completed. I have been formally accused of treason to the state, I have admitted my guilt, I have fully repented. I have unlimited faith in the justice and propriety of the decision of the court and the state. . . . Now I am honest in my every word…”
Iakir’s letter reprinted in [“Rehabilitation. How It Happened”] volume 2 (2003)

So Shelepin has taken a letter where a man admits his guilt and turned it into a claim of innocence! If Iakir was truly innocent would this kind of dishonestly really be needed?

We have already been over the Shvernik Reports attempt to blaim Stalin on the Kirov Murder & for framing Tukchavesky. No evidence was found and this time instead of trying to fabricate it the Khruschevites gave up and focused on other things.

The statement of the rehabilitation commission of the Politburo published in August 1989 reads:

“It has been established therefore that after 1927 the former Trotskyists and Zinovievists did not carry out any organized struggle against the party, did not unite with each other either on a terrorist or any other basis, and that the case of the “United Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center” was fabricated by the organs of the NKVD upon the direct order and with the direct participation of J. V. Stalin.”


It is quite a strange situation when Gorbachevites, supposed Communists are more anti-communist in their statements then Western historians.

“Although Trotsky later denied that he had any communications with former followers in the USSR since his exile in 1929, it is clear that he did. In the first three months of 1932 he sent secret letters to former oppositionists Radek, Sokolnikov, Preobrazhenskii, and others. Although the contents of these letters are unknown, it seems reasonable to believe that they involved an attempt to persuade the addresees to return to opposition. Sometime in October of 1932, E.S. Gol’tsman (a Soviet official and former Trotskyist) met Sedov in Berlin and gave him an internal memorandum on Soviet economic output. This memorandum was published in the Bulletin’ the following month under the title “The Economic Situation of the Soviet Union.” It seems, though, that Gol’tsman brought Sedov something else: a proposal from Left Oppositionists in the USSR for the formation of a united opposition bloc. The proposed bloc was to include Trotskyists, Zinovievists, members of the Lominadze group, and others. The proposal came from “Kolokolnikov” – the code name of Ivan Smirnov.” (Getty, Origins)

Western historians admit this, while the Gorbachevite government denies it? Of course we know Gorbachev was in reality an anti-communist himself:

“My ambition was to liquidate communism… My ideal is the path of social democracy.”
–Gorbachev

The Gorbachevite “rehabilitation” committee also denied the Terrorist character of this Bloc which they claimed didn’t even exist, despite the fact that even non-Soviet sources testified to it.

Molotov also spoke about these phony “rehabilitations” in his interview with Feliks I. Chuev published in 1993:

MOLOTOV: Take Tukhachevsky, for example. On what grounds was he rehabilitated? Did you read the records of the trial of the right-wing and Trotskyist bloc in 1938? Bukharin, Krestinsky, Rosengoltz, and others were on trial then. They stated flat out that in June 1937 Tukhachevsky pressed for a coup. People who have not read the record go on to say that the testimony was given under duress from the Chekists. But I say, had we not made those sweeping arrests in the 1930s, we would have suffered even greater losses in the war.” (Molotov Remembers p. 285)


It was not politically advantageous for Molotov to say these things. He supported Stalin and continued to defend his legacy against lies and slander even though the Khruschevite and Gorbachevite governments didn’t look kindly on it. He had nothing to gain for these statements except the knowledge he was speaking the truth.

The Dewey Commission

In 1937 the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky organized the so-called Dewey Comission, the goal of which was to prove the innocence of Leon Trotsky. The comission carried out interviews of Trotsky and sure enough stated that it had managed to prove his innocence.

In reality the Dewey Comission failed to provide any strong evidence of Trotsky’s innocence. Most of its conclusions are purely speculative but especially the important findings are all provably false and have been debunked. The comission voiced support to Trotsky’s baseless accusation that Stalin was behind the murder of Kirov, that Stalin unjustly framed all of his political opponents, glorifies Trotsky’s role in the world communist movement and in general acted as a popularizer of Trotskyist propaganda.

As the Dewey Commission failed to provide any meaningful evidence of its own they claimed to have found holes in the charges made at the Moscow Trial. Their case heavily rested on the so-called Hotel Bristol argument which also has since then been debunked. The argument goes as follows: one accused, Holtzman testified to having met Leon Sedov in Copenhagen in a hotel named Bristol. The Dewey Comission claimed that the hotel Bristol had burnt down, therefore this was an impossibility and a lie invented by the Stalinists.

Its since been proven that actually Holtzman met Sedov in the Grand hotel, the cafe-bakery adjatent to which was called Bristol. Holtzman mistakenly thought Bristol was the name of the hotel as the hotel had no other sign, other then the cafe sign that said “BRISTOL”. One wonders, does this sound like something the Soviet police would fabricate? No it doesn’t, its overly convoluted for no apparent reason. What it sounds like, is that Holtzman made an honest mistake and that his statement at least in that regard is accurate.

The Dewey comission presented as true Trotsky’s claims of innocence, even though we now know Trotsky was lying:

“GOLDMAN: Did you ever discuss with anyone the possibility of organizing a united center between your political followers and the followers of Zinoviev and Kamenev in the Soviet Union, after the break-up of your bloc with Zinoviev and Kamenev?

TROTSKY: Never. My articles show that it is absolutely impossible. My appreciation of them, my total contempt after the capitulation, my hostility to them and their hostility to me, excluded that absolutely.

GOLDMAN: Have you read the testimony of Zinoviev and Kamenev and the other defendants in the first Moscow trial?

TROTSKY: Yes.

GOLDMAN: Wherein these defendants claimed that you instructed several of them to establish a united center between your political followers and their political followers? Have you read such testimonies?

TROTSKY: Yes.

GOLDMAN: What have you to say about that?

TROTSKY: It is a falsehood organized by the GPU and supported by Stalin.”
(Dewey Comission proceedings, third session)


Despite the Dewey Comission’s best efforts even various members of the Trotsky defence committee (and the Dewey Comission itself) came to the conclusion that Trotsky was guilty and were compelled to leave it as a result.

On April 17 Carleton Beals, a member of the Dewey comission resigned from it. He described the work of the Dewey Commission in a public statement:

“… The hushed adoration of the other members of the committee for Mr. Trotsky throughout the hearings has defeated all spirit of honest investigation. . . . The very first day I was told my questions were improper. The final cross-examination was put in a mold that prevented any search for the truth…. The cross-examination consisted of allowing Trotsky to spout propaganda charges with eloquence and wild denunciations, with only rare efforts to make him prove his assertions. . . . The commission may pass its bad check on the public if it desires, but I will not lend my name to the possibility of further childishness similar to that already committed.”
(
New York Times, April 19, 1937 )

SOURCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Joseph E. Davies, Mission To Moscow
https://archive.org/details/missiontomoscow035156mbp

Statements of D.N. Pritt & Pat Sloan in The Moscow Trial Was Fair
https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sections/britain/pamphlets/1936/moscow-trial-fair.htm

Mauritz A. Hallgren, Why I Resigned From the Trotsky Defense Committee

Available at https://espressostalinist.com/2011/05/31/why-i-resigned-from-the-trotsky-defense-committee-by-mauritz-a-hallgren/

Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937, p. 121-122
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/feucht.htm#7


Bukharin was not tortured:
Cohen,
Bukharin na Lubianke, Svobodnaia Mysl’ 21, No. 3 (2003), pp. 60-1.)
Asen Ignatov,
Revoliutsiia pozhiraet svoikh vunderkindov. Sluchai Bukharina s psikhologicheski tochki zreniia. Forum 1 (2005))

available at http://www1.ku-eichstaett.de/ZIMOS/forum/docs/02Ignatow.pdf

Reabilitatsia. Kak Eto Bylo [“Rehabilitation. How It Happened”] vol. 2 (2003)


Dewey comission proceedings:

The case of Leon Trotsky Report of Hearings on the Charges Made Against Him in the Moscow Trials, third session
https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/dewey/session03.htm


New Evidence Concerning the “Hotel Bristol” Question in the First Moscow Trial of 1936
http://clogic.eserver.org/2008/holmstrom.pdf

Gorbachev 1989 Rehabiliation document:
O Tak Nazyvaemom ‘Antisovetskom Ob” edinennom Trotskistsko-Zinov’evskom Tsentre.”
quoted in http://clogic.eserver.org/2009/furr.pdf

Gorbachev about his anti-communism:
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv6n1/gorbach.htm

Edvard Radzinsky, Stalin


Carleton Beals’s statement available here:
http://www.shunpiking.org/books/GC/GC-AK-MS-chapter21.htm