Brief History of the October Revolution

The October Revolution is an extremely important event in world history. It was the first successful workers revolution. But how did it all happen? This is a brief overview of the complicated history of the October Revolution.

The Russian Empire was a totalitarian police state ruled by an absolute monarchy. The country was very backward economically and culturally. Average life expectancy in Russia was about 35 years. Only about 20% of the population knew how to read. The workers and peasants lived horrible lives, without the 8 hour working day, minimum wage laws or basic work safety regulations. There were many large strikes and protests but it was not uncommon that the police would shoot at the demonstrations and kill the strikers.

Despite how big the country was, there was a constant shortage of farm land and also constant famine. This is because most land belonged to the wealthy landlords and rich peasants. Because of technological backwardness, only the softest and most fertile soil could be used, this severely limited the amount of available farm land.
In 1898 the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party is created. Among its founders are people like Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov. This was a marxist party, that wanted to overthrow the monarchy and bring about socialism. However during the course of the struggle there is a lot of disagreement about when this goal is to be implemented and how. In 1903 there emerges a split in the party: two factions emerge: the Mensheviks led by Martov and the Bolsheviks led by Lenin.

During the years, although Lenin and many others first anticipated the two groups could merge again, the split ends up worsening and the two factions become separate parties: Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Mensheviks) and Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks).

The main differences between the groups were the following:

1. The Bolsheviks wanted an organizationally united party of serious revolutionaries while the Mensheviks wanted a more loose reformist type party.

2. Both parties agreed that the next course of action was to overthrow the monarchy and carry out the so-called “bourgeois-democratic revolution”. This would make Russia a capitalist parliamentary democracy. However the Mensheviks argued that the class to lead the revolution was the bourgeoisie, the capitalist class. The bourgeois class served this function in the French Revolution. The Bolsheviks disagreed, they thought the capitalists couldn’t be trusted to carry out the democratic revolution, they were weaker then in France, they allied with the monarchy and feared the workers and peasants. In fact, the Bolshevik leader Lenin argued that the Russian proletariat was much stronger and more developed then the French proletariat of the late 1700s and therefore should lead the democratic revolution, and not merely support it.

3. Lastly, the Mensheviks didn’t think Russia was ready for Socialism, in their opinion the workers could never take power in Russia until after a long time of capitalist and parliamentary development. Even though the debate about workers revolution and socialism would only come about fully later, this attitude relates to the Menshevik position that the workers shouldn’t lead the democratic revolution, but only support the capitalist class against the monarchy.

In 1905 there is an attempt at the democratic revolution. There are massive protests all over the country, mutinies in the army and the people organize public meetings called “soviets” or councils, which would get together and discuss what to do. The revolution eventually fails. It won some democratic liberties from the Tsar, but those liberties would be constantly under attack by the monarchy afterwards. This revolution is seen as a dress-rehearsal for the later revolution.

In 1914 World War 1 begins, and launches Russia into chaos. The economy is ruined by the war, there is a shortage of food and large amounts of the population are drafted to fight in the war. The war is seen by many people, especially the socialist, as an unjust imperialist conquest, where millions of poor and working class people from different countries had to die for the profits and wealth of the capitalist and monarchist governments of their countries.

The attitude towards the war ends up splitting the international socialist movement. The so-called “2nd international working men’s association”. Many parties initially opposed the war, but then chose to support their own government in it, to protect their country from the other imperialist powers. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and other revolutionaries saw this as treachery. Surely, if everyone only supports their own imperialist government in an imperialist war, it doesn’t do anything to stop the war. They called for “turning the imperialist war to a class war”, friendship between the workers of the various countries, and unity against the capitalist governments of all warring countries. This led to the splitting of the international.

In February 1917 the Russian monarchy is overthrown. This leads to the creation of the Russian Provisional Government, consisting of the capitalist Cadet party, the Socialist-Revolutionary party or SR and the Mensheviks.

The Bolsheviks initially gave “conditional support” for the Provisional Government, meaning they supported it to the degree that it carried out the democratic reforms and other policies demanded by the population. However it soon became very evident the Provisional Government was a failure.

The Provisional government refused to carry out land-reform. It was necessary to prevent famine and reduce the land shortage, but it would have meant going against the power of the landlords.

The Provisional government also refused to impose stricter regulations on trading and the economy. This would have been necessary to prevent economic disaster, but it would have meant going against the capitalists who greatly profited from the war and the chaos.

Lastly, the Provisional government supported the war. They advocated a “war to a finish”, meaning until they won. It became evident that Russia was losing the war, however the Provisional government was still committed to fulfill the treaties and agreements with their allies in World War 1.

Clearly, supposed democratic government, with a quite a few self-proclaimed socialists in it should act in this way. The Bolsheviks were quick to point out that the Provisional government acts exactly like the Tsarist government, which also sided with the landlords, capitalists and started the imperialist war. The Provisional government was continuing Tsarist policy.

In April 1917, Vladimir Lenin returns to Russia from exile and puts forward his “april theses”, political proposals which call for the overthrow of the Provisional government.

The Bolsheviks put forward their slogans:

“Down with the provisional government”

“Down with the capitalist ministers”

“Factories for the workers, land to the peasants, end to the imperialist war,”

“Peace, Bread & Land”


In June the capital city, Petrograd (now called St. Petersburg) has municipal elections. Bolsheviks achieve a massive victory, growing from essentially nothing to one of the biggest parties. The so-called “defencist bloc” still gets the majority. This bloc consisted of the SR-party and mensheviks. Defencism, meant that they supported the war effort. Biggest loser of the election was the Cadet party, which achieved only 15% of the vote and lost its power as the biggest party.


On July 1
, Russia launches an offensive on the front, this is known as the “kerensky offensive” or the “July offensive.” The war was going badly and casualties were mounting for Russia, the blood-thirstyness of the imperialists and the Provisional government were very evident.

On July 3-4, there is a massive demonstration in Petrograd, of hundreds of thousands of people. Among the demonstrators are armed soldiers who have come from the front to demand change and revolution. The Bolsheviks urge caution and say that the demonstration should be peaceful and organized. They oppose bringing weapons to the demonstration and say that they are not yet strong enough for a revolution. The workers and soldiers decide to bring weapons despite the advice of the Bolsheviks but the Bolsheviks still take part in the demonstrations to lend support to the workers.

The workers and soldiers carry Bolshevik slogans “end the war”, “peace, bread and land”. There is a government crack down against the demonstrators. Machine guns shoot in the crowd, leaving countless dead. The Bolsheviks are now seen as a serious threat by the government. A warrant is issued for Lenin’s arrest, he is forced into hiding. Bolshevik newspaper Pravda is banned, their printing plant and party offices are destroyed. This period of reppression is known as the “July Days”. The Provisional government restores the death penalty on the front, against soldiers who disobey orders.

The Bolsheviks lose a lot of their forces, and many of their important resources. They begin publishing their newspapers under new names to avoid censorship. Despite all their difficulties the workers now support them more then ever, the Provisional government is exposed as a supporter of the capitalist elite and the imperialists. The Provisional government starts forming stronger ties with the old capitalist party, the Cadets to make up for the support they’ve lost from the workers.

In August, there is an attempted coup against the Provisional government, called the “Kornilov Affair”. Kornilov was a Whige Guard general in the Russian army, who wanted to institute military dictatorship and strong rule of law, to stop the chaos in Russia. In other words, complete counter-revolution, end to the demonstrations, end to democracy, end to the working class movement.

The railway workers strike and don’t transport his troops, and the workers and soldiers of Petrograd form armed Red Guard units and take up the defense of Petrograd against Kornilov. Kornilov’s coup ends in failure.
After the overthrow of the monarchy formation of soviets had begun again in all large cities, but for the time being their leadership would be predominantly menshevik.

In September the Bolsheviks gain the majority in the Petrograd Soviet and soon after in the soviets of Moscow and other large cities. The Soviets already carry out many important functions in the cities as the Russian government is incapable of doing so. The Soviets even organized the defense of Petrograd. As the economy is in ruins and the war effort is failing more people turn towards the Soviets.

The 6th Bolshevik party congress had agreed that they should carry out an armed revolution. In October the Petrograd Soviet creates a Military Revolutionary Committee. These special bodies are formed all over the country connected with each soviet in each city. The Menshevik and SR minorities in the soviets opposed revolution, but the SR party splits. The “left-SR” group sides with the Bolsheviks.

The Bolshevik soldiers organization takes over the garrison. On October 24 the Military Revolutionary Committee occupies the telegraph, the telephone and other important buildings. The cruiser Aurora, which is controlled by Bolshevik sailors, fires a shot to signal the beginning of the revolution. The workers and soldiers storm the winter palace. The same evening there is a congress of Soviets, where delegates arrive from all over the country. This congress elects the new Russian government, elected by the soviets of workers and soldiers, the Soviet Government. The October Revolution has taken power.

This would lead to a civil war where the Capitalists try to rescue their power. Where 14 capitalist governments including the USA, Great Britain, France, Japan, Poland and many others invaded Soviet Russia to destroy the Soviet government. But they failed, and the soviet union was created.

The significance of the October Revolution cannot be overstated. It showed that a revolution by the ordinary people is possible. It showed that capitalism in the end, is incapable of solving its internal contradictions. Despite getting moderate leftists into the government, the policy was as imperialist, profit driven and anti-popular as before. The moderate leftists didn’t improve capitalism, they were used by capitalism. Only revolution stopped Russia’s involvement in the World War, carried out land reform and dealt with the crisis of unregulated capitalism, and began the process of building a new economic model which would serve the needs and interests of the people, not profits.

russian-revolution-1917-granger1-840x472

Advertisements

Basic description of Vanguardism & Democratic Centralism

Marxism-Leninism seeks 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. Marxism-Leninism rejects loose disunited organizations & movements without leadership. Marxism-Leninism advocates 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.

VANGUARDISM


Spontaneity

Some people still idealize spontaneity and spontaneous grassroots movements. But such movements never lead to successful revolution. You need a popular mass movement, but you also need leadership and clear political goals. Without political consciousness these mass movements wither away and die and nothing changes, we’ve seen movements like this come and go a million times. Some people want to limit our movement to aimless protests with no clear goals, no agreement on principles and no organizational unity or capacity to bring change. Spontaneous popular movements that arise are good, but they are not enough. They create an opportunity for the Vanguard to introduce political consciousness, political goals, ideology and leadership.

Revolution is difficult, and anyone who is even remotely serious should realize that spontaneity alone is not enough.

“Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”
~LENIN, What Is To Be Done? (Chapter 1)

“…to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology.”
~LENIN, What Is To Be Done? (Chapter 2)

Spontaneous protest actions by the people present an opportunity to build a real revolutionary movement. But some groups, especially anarchists and liberals, romanticize these spontaneous movements like Occupy Wall St. or Black Lives Matter. They think that any clear goals or ideology will ruin a good spontaneous grassroots movement, but this is a mistake. The problem with these movements is precisely that they are only spontaneous without any clear plans to facilitate change, or they are overtaken by liberals who romanticize just such aimless spontaneity.

“There is much talk of spontaneity. But the spontaneous development of the working-class movement leads to its subordination to bourgeois ideology,… the fundamental error… bowing to spontaneity… failure to understand that the spontaneity of the masses demands a high degree of consciousness from us… The greater the spontaneous upsurge of the masses… the more widespread the movement, the more rapid, incomparably so, the demand for greater consciousness in the theoretical, political and organisational work…”
~LENIN, What Is To Be Done? (Chapter 2)

“…no revolutionary movement can endure without a stable organization of leaders that maintains continuity… the wider the masses spontaneously drawn into the struggle… the more urgent the need of such an organization, and the more solid this organization must be” ~LENIN, What Is To Be Done? (Chapter 4)
Role of the Party

“The Party is the leader, the vanguard of the proletariat”
~LENIN, Once Again On The Trade Unions, The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin
The vanguard party has a special role. While anyone can join a trade union, or vote in bourgeois elections, only the most active and class-conscious workers join the revolutionary party.

Trade Unions almost exclusively focus on short term economic demandsm, not on long term political demands. Reformist election campaigns focus on trying to fix capitalism, a system that can’t be fixed. But the vanguard party seeks to overthrow the entire capitalist system. It combines economic and political demands, and has the necessary political knowledge to see that the system must be overthrown.

“The Party must regard itself not as an appendage of the parliamentary electoral machinery… and not as a gratuitous supplement to the trade unions… but as the highest form of class association of the proletariat, the function of which is to lead all the other forms of proletarian organisations, from the trade unions to the Party’s group in parliament… The Party, and especially its leading elements, must thoroughly master the revolutionary theory of Marxism, which is inseparably connected with revolutionary practice.”
~STALIN, The Prospects of the Communist Party of Germany and the Question of Bolshevisation
The party consists of the advanced sections of the poor and working people. They are the vanguard.

 

“The Party must be, first of all, the advanced detachment of the working class. The Party must absorb all the best elements of the working class, their experience, their revolutionary spirit, their selfless devotion to the cause of the proletariat. But in order that it may really be the armed detachment, the Party must be armed with revolutionary theory, with a knowledge of the laws of the movement, with a knowledge of the laws of revolution… ”
~STALIN, The Foundations of Leninism (Chapter VIII)

 

The Vanguard can’t win without the People

The vanguard can’t ever win alone. The good thing about the vanguard, is that it is politically conscious, but the bad thing about the vanguard, is that it is small. By definition the most advanced section of the working class is only a minority of the working class, and it cannot overthrow capitalism on its own. It must show the way, leading by example, and win the trust of the wide masses of the people to support it, and carry out the revolution. The revolution is not carried out by the vanguard, but by the people.

“Victory cannot be won with the vanguard alone…The immediate task that confronts the class-conscious vanguard of the international labour movement, i.e., the Communist parties… is to be able to lead the broad masses (now, for the most part, slumbering, apathetic, bound by routine, inert and dormant) to their new position, or, rather, to be able to lead not only their own party, but also these masses, in their approach, their transition to the new position.”
~LENIN, “Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder (Chapter 10)

“The point here is not that the vanguard should realise the impossibility of preserving the old regime and the inevitability of its overthrow. The point is that the masses, the millions should understand this inevitability and display their readiness to support the vanguard. But the masses can understand this only from their own experience. The task is to enable the vast masses to realise from their own experience the inevitability of the overthrow of the old regime, to promote such methods of struggle and forms of organisations as will make it easer for the masses to realise from experience the correctness of the revolutionary slogans.”
~STALIN, The Foundations of Leninism (Chapter VII)

The vanguard can only hope to guide the masses to revolution, if the ideas the party puts forward truly appeal to the masses and truly serve their interests. Winning the trust and support of the people is not easy, it only comes through hard work of educating the people and serving their interests. But it is absolutely necessary.

“…the Party would cease to be a party… if the Party turned in on itself and became divorced from the non-Party masses. The Party cannot lead the class if it is not connected with the non-Party masses, if there is no bond between the Party and the non-Party masses, if these masses do not accept its leadership, if the Party enjoys no moral and political credit among the masses.”
~STALIN, The Foundations of Leninism (Chapter VIII)

 

DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM

The organizational principle of democratic centralism is closely linked with the idea of Vanguardism, which arises from Marx’s concept of class consciousness. The debate around democratic centralism often boils down to the question of the role of a party member. Opponents of Leninism argued that anyone who supported socialism, should be able to sign up as a party member. In their mind, party members should not be oligated into anything, the party should be as big as possible, and it could tolerate different kinds of views.

1. Active revolutionaries:

In Lenin’s view the party needed active revolutionaries, not passive supporters. Hence a party member should belong to one of the party organizations and work in it. This separates a revolutionary party from a reformist party. A revolutionary party has no need for members who are nothing but voters, or names on a paper. These are sympathizers, supporters, not party members. Being a supporter is fine, but it is not enough.
2. Agreement on core principles:

In Lenin’s view a member of the party also needs to be someone who not only supports the idea of socialism, but actually upholds the principles and policy of the party. A Leninist party supports the ideas of revolutionary Marxism, and those who don’t agree with these core beliefs can’t be members of a Leninist party.

A party with mutually exclusive views about its fundamental beliefs will either be disunited or will lack any clear principle. This can work for a bourgeois party, or a party aimed only at winning some election seats, or passing small reforms, but it won’t work for a revolutionary marxist party. A revolution requires unity and trust.

3. Real unity:

The Leninist party functions based on “freedom of speech & unity of action”. This means that decisions are made democratically but they are binding on everyone. A member of the party is obligated to follow the decisions of the majority. When voluntarily joining the party, members agree to this principle. The same rules and decisions of the party are binding on all members, not only those who choose to follow them.

“Parties belonging to the Communist International must be organised on the principle of democratic centralism.”
~Terms of Admission into Communist International

“The discipline and organisation which come so hard to the bourgeois intellectual are very easily acquired by the proletariat… Mortal fear … and utter failure to understand its importance as an organising factor are characteristic of the ways of thinking which reflect the petty-bourgeois mode of life and which give rise to the … aristocratic anarchism, as I would call it. This aristocratic anarchism is particularly characteristic of the Russian nihilist. He thinks of the Party organisation as a monstrous “factory”; he regards the subordination of the part to the whole and of the minority to the majority as “serfdom”… division of labour under the direction of a centre evokes from him a tragi-comical outcry against transforming people into “cogs and wheels”… mention of the organisational Rules of the Party calls forth a contemptuous grimace and the disdainful remark … that one could very well dispense with Rules altogether.”
~LENIN, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (Part Q)
4. Against Factionalism:
In 1921 in the 10th Bolshevik party congress Lenin proposed the so-called “ban on factions” which was accepted. In practice this means that the party won’t tolerate any more or less permanent factional or opposition groupings, that work against the majority of the party or put forward a political line that goes against the rest of the party. Having such interal factions is obviously very harmful for a party as it divides members into competing cliques. According to democratic centralism, members of the party are obligated to go along with the decision of the majority, or they will have to leave.

“All class-conscious workers must clearly realise that factionalism of any kind is harmful and impermissible, for no matter how members of individual groups may desire to safeguard Party unity, factionalism in practice inevitably leads to the weakening of team-work and to… attempts by the enemies… to use it for counter-revolutionary purposes…”
~LENIN, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) (Part IV)

 

Role of disagreement

The issue of unity naturally raises the question of disagreement. The party is not only based on unity, but also democracy and freedom of debate. In fact, real unity is only possible via agreement, it cannot be forced.

So, if party members 1) agree with the principles of the party 2) agree to follow the democratic decisions of the party, and 3) don’t take part in factional activity, then what is the role of disagreement?

Issues are decided democratically, with freedom of debate. Everyone will be able to say what they want to say. That doesn’t mean their proposition will be accepted, but they will have a chance to present it. Questions also won’t be decided for all time. The party’s principles will remain, but the practical policy will have to change constantly. The composition of the leadership will also change. This means that questions of the party’s political line will be raised again and will have to be decided again because the situation will change.

When deciding big political questions its important that everyone has the chance to speak. If the party is very split on a question the problem won’t be solved by a narrow majority trying to silence the minority. It is important that enough time is given for discussion to take place fully before a decision is made. Real unity can’t be forced and without democracy the party leadership will lose touch with the membership and make wrong decisions.

There will always remain people who don’t agree with the majority, and this is normal. Nobody agrees with everyone else on every single thing. Disagreement is allowed within the conifines of the party rules. As long as members don’t break party discipline or engage in factionalism, they can disagree, and when the time comes for a new decision and new vote, they can argue for their side just like everyone else.

“…an important, serious and extremely responsible task: really to apply the principles of democratic centralism in Party organisation, to work tirelessly to make the local organisations the principal organisational units of the Party in fact, and not merely in name, and to see to it that all the higher-standing bodies are elected, accountable, and subject to recall.”

“…there must be complete unity of action… Action by the proletariat must be united… But beyond the bounds of unity of action there must be the broadest and freest discussion and condemnation of all steps, decisions and tendencies that we regard as harmful. Only through such discussions, resolutions and protests can the real public opinion of our Party be formed. Only on this condition shall we be a real Party, always able to express its opinion, and finding the right way to convert a definitely formed opinion into the decisions…”
~LENIN, Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (Part VIII)

“Democratic centralization in the Communist Party organization must be a real synthesis, a fusion of centralism and proletarian democracy. This fusion can be achieved only on the basis of constant common activity, constant common struggle of the entire Party organization… enemies… assert that the Communist Party… is trying rule over the revolutionary proletariat. Such an assertion is a lie … the centralization of the organization, i. e., the aim to create a strong leadership, cannot be successful if its achievement is sought on the basis of formal democracy. The necessary preliminary conditions are the development and maintenance of living associations and mutual relations within the Party between the directing organs and members, as well as between the Party and the masses of the proletariat outside the Party.
(Principles of Party Organization, adopted by the 3rd Congress of the Comintern)

“Precise operation of democratic centralism in the Party as demanded by our Party statutes, unconditional electiveness of Party organs, the right to put forward and to withdraw candidates, the secret ballot and freedom of criticism and self-criticism…”
~STALIN, Mastering Bolshevism

“…democratic centralist method… is a mass-line method. First democracy, then centralism; coming from the masses, returning to the masses; the unity of the leadership and the masses… Both inside and outside the Party there must be a full democratic life, which means conscientiously putting democratic centralism into effect.”
~MAO TSE-TUNG, Talk At An Enlarged Working Conference Convened By The Central Committee Of The Communist Party Of China

Party work

“…we must affirm anew the discipline of the Party, namely:

(1) the individual is subordinate to the organization;

(2) the minority is subordinate to the majority;

(3) the lower level is subordinate to the higher level; and

(4) the entire membership is subordinate to the central Committee.”
~Mao Tse Tung, The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War
In parties based on democratic centralism party bodies are elected. A democratic centralist party typically has one centralized leadership.

This can take a number of different forms:

Typically a communist party has local organizations, a Central Committee and a Politburo.

The communist party has a collective leadership. It has a Chairman and other high ranking positions, but none of them can decide on their own.

The C.C. is elected by a congress. The congresses are held at given intervals, for example every few years. In the congresses local organizations send representatives with right to vote who then elect the leadership of the party, the C. C. and political executive committee aka. the politburo.

The C. C. usually contains a relatively large amount of people. Somewhere around 20 is not unusual. The Politburo is smaller, consisting of the chairman and some other high ranking C. C. members. The job of the Politburo is to manage the every day affairs of the party and it has a lot of power but at the same time it’s accountable and aswerable to the C. C. The politburo is basically a smaller group of leaders who meet often and make quick decisions on immediate tasks. The C. C. is a bigger group that meets less often, maybe only a few times a year and decides broader questions of the party’s political, ideological and tatical line. The C. C. decides and the politburo implements the decisions.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:

LENIN, What Is To Be Done?

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1901/witbd/

LENIN, “Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder
http://www.marx2mao.com/Lenin/LWC20.html

LENIN, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1904/onestep/index.htm

LENIN, Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1906/rucong/index.htm

LENIN, Terms of Admission into Communist International

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/jul/x01.htm

LENIN, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/10thcong/index.htm

LENIN, Once Again On The Trade Unions, The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/jan/25.htm

Principles of Party Organization, adopted by the 3rd Congress of the Comintern

http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/PPO21.html

MAO, The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War

https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_10.htm

MAO, Talk At An Enlarged Working Conference Convened By The Central Committee Of The Communist Party Of China
https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_62.htm

STALIN, The Foundations of Leninism
https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1924/foundations-leninism/index.htm

STALIN, The Prospects of the Communist Party of Germany and the Question of Bolshevisation
http://marx2mao.com/Stalin/PCPG25.html
STALIN, Mastering Bolshevism
http://www.marx2mao.com/Stalin/MB37.html

 

Further reading:
PEKING REVIEW: A Discussion on Party Democratic Centralism
https://www.marxists.org/subject/china/peking-review/1971/PR1971-43a.htm

LENIN, Two Tactics
https://www.marxistsfr.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/feb/14.htm

LENIN, The Reorganisation of the Party
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/reorg/i.htm#v10pp65-029

lenin speech4

Socialism in One Country: What it really means


Socialism in One Country is a theory mostly associated with the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin whose government adopted it as official policy. However the theory was heavily based on the writings of Soviet revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin.

Lenin’s Theory Against dogmatism

Socialism in One Country proposes that it is possible to build Socialism (”complete socialist society”) even in a single country, and even a poor less-developed one or a third world country. This went against the view held by dogmatists, trotskyists and other opportunists that socialism was possible only in wealthy industrial countries and only if established simultaneously in several of them. The dogmatist view was a vulgarization of Marxism & didn’t correspond to the material realities of the world in the epoch of global imperialism.

Trotskyists and many other opportunist groupings vehemently deny that Lenin supported the theory of Socialism in One Country. Examining this issue is the main focus of the latter portion of this article.

Lenin_postercrop.jpg

Lenin’s theory went boldly against opportunism & dogmatism

Internationalism

Often times opportunists make the claim that Socialism in One Country goes against Proletarian internationalism or abandons the aim of World Revolution.

Trotsky claimed in his book The Permanent Revolution that Socialism in One Country:

”…
makes a breach between the national revolution and the international revolution.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Socialism in One Country is a tactic to achieve those internationalist ends and history has proven it to be successful in it, since the Soviet Union actually managed to help many other revolutionary governments take power and spread Socialism to many other countries in all parts of the world.

”…the victory of socialism is possible in separate countries, thus envisaging the prospect of the formation of two parallel centres of attraction; the centre of world capitalism and the centre of world socialism.”
~Stalin, Results of the July Plenum of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) (1928)

The theory of Socialism in One Country doesn’t contradict world revolution, in fact it does the opposite. It argues that any country can build socialism, if it lacks the basic requirements of Socialism, it can at least work to fulfill those requirements and then build socialism:

”You say that civilization is necessary for the building of socialism. Very good. But why could we not first create such prerequisites of civilization in our country by the expulsion of the landowners and the Russian capitalists, and then start moving toward socialism? Where, in what books, have you read that such… sequence of events are impermissible or impossible?
~Lenin, “Our Revolution” (1923)

Coat_of_arms_of_the_Soviet_Union.png

Stalin-era Soviet coat of arms. Advocating world-communism.


The ”Alternative” of the Opportunists

To oppose Socialism in One Country would mean denying the third world poor the possibility of building socialism since according to the opportunists their countries ”lack the requirements” for it. They would have to wait for the white Europeans to first establish socialism and finally spread it elsewhere.

In his book Trotsky criticized Socialism in One Country in the following way:

”This theory imposes upon revolutions in backward countries the task of establishing an unrealizable regime of democratic dictatorship, which it counterposes to the dictatorship of the proletariat. Thereby this theory introduces illusions and fictions into politics, paralyses the struggle for power of the proletariat in the East, and hampers the victory of the colonial revolution.”

This is a somewhat fancy way of saying that the third world people of Asia were in Trotsky’s mind not ready for Socialism due to their economic and cultural state. To build socialism in Asia was impossible according to Trotsky, to even try would mean to”impose… the task of establishing an unrealizable regime of democratic dictatorship.”

What this convoluted jumble means is that Trotsky accuses third world people of class-collaboration as opposed to of class struggle. Trotsky subscribes to the dogmatic theory that third world semi-feudal & semi-colonial countries could only at best achieve modern capitalism and to attempt anything further would be an ”illusion” and a ”fiction.”

 

Earlier in his text ”1905” Trotsky had argued against building Socialism in a poor peasant country in the following manner:

”…the proletarian vanguard in the very earliest stages of its rule would have to make extremely deep inroads not only into feudal but also into bourgeois property relations. While doing so it would enter into hostile conflict, not only with all those bourgeois groups which had supported it during the first stages of its revolutionary struggle, but also with the broad masses of the peasantry… The contradictions between a workers’ government and an overwhelming majority of peasants in a backward country could be resolved only on an international scale, in the arena of a world proletarian revolution.”

In response to this anti-peasant theory Lenin said:

“From the Bolsheviks Trotsky’s original theory has borrowed their call for a decisive proletarian revolutionary struggle and for the conquest of political power by the proletariat, while from the Mensheviks it has borrowed “repudiation” of the peasantry’s role… Trotsky is in fact helping the liberal-labour politicians in Russia, who by “repudiation” of the role of the peasantry understand a refusal to raise up the peasants for the revolution!”
~Lenin, On the Two Lines in the Revolution

Not only is this idea that third world people are not ready for socialism quasi-racist, it is also strategically unsound. Firstly, the vast majority of the world’s workers are from third world countries. Second, experience has shown us, in the epoch of modern imperialism the poor of the developing world have demonstrated great revolutionary potential. In fact in our current stage they demonstrate greater revolutionary energy then Westerners. The opportunists are out of touch with these basic realities, their theory is useless and their movement irrelevant as an alternative for the workers of the world.

Utopian defeatism

But why do the opportunists so vehemently oppose Socialism in One Country? One reason maybe that they oppose anything associated with the Soviet Union or Stalin. However more often then not from trotskyists one hears them express one of the following three reasons

1) that they oppose Socialism in One Country on ”internationalist” grounds
2) view that a single socialist country can never survive
3) they think socialism can’t be built in a poor country

The first claim I already dealt with. They either don’t understand what they’re talking about or are dishonest. I already explained why the third argument is troubling, together with argument number two it falls under the category of defeatism, that unless the revolution happens in many countries at the same time, and in the West it’s pointless to even try. Or that if the revolution happens in only one country then it must somehow aggressively try to spread the revolution elsewhere. Since the USSR actually did spread it to other countries it seems the opportunists think it should have simply been more aggresive. This seems tactically and ideologically questionable.

Basically the opportunists have no good alternative to propose and this has been proved by history. Trotskyists or any other opponents of Socialism in One Country have never been able to carry out a revolution, let alone a world-wide revolution. The only theory that has been able carry out victorious socialist revolutions not in one, but in multiple countries is the theory of Socialism in One Country.

 


The alleged ”counter-argument” by Engels

Opponents of Socialism in One Country will point to a passage of Engels from the Principles of Communism, a pre-cursor to the Manifesto of the Communist League. First Engels states:

“Will it be possible for this revolution to take place in one country alone?

No. By creating the world market, big industry has already brought all the peoples of the Earth, and especially the civilized peoples, into such close relation with one another that none is independent of what happens to the others…”* (see end notes)

This is actually not what the opponents of Socialism in One Country would want. The argument Engels makes is that a Communist Revolution would spread almost by necessity. In fact this did happen in Europe in the aftermath of WWI, though all those revolutions were defeated with the sole exception of the October Revolution. Engels continues:

”Further, it has co-ordinated the social development of the civilized countries to such an extent that, in all of them, bourgeoisie and proletariat have become the decisive classes, and the struggle between them the great struggle of the day. It follows that the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon…”

This is also in perfect accordance with Lenin and even with Stalin’s conception. In ”Results of the July Plenum of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.)” Stalin states that revolutions happen in individual countries, but because of the global nature of capitalism this turns into a world-wide struggle of two great camps or centres; ”the centre of world capitalism and the centre of world socialism.” as he called them. This is exactly what the Cold War was. Engels continues:

”…but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries―that is to say, at least in England, America, France, and Germany. It will develop in each of these countries more or less rapidly, according as one country or the other has a more developed industry, greater wealth, a more significant mass of productive forces…”

This is perhaps the most interesting part for us. The immediate question is how rapid this ”simultaneous” event is? Engels calls it ”more or less rapid” so we don’t really know. His argument about the different conditions of each country is sound but it implies that this process is not really all that rapid at all. By ”simultaneous” he seems to only mean the process happens in all capitalist countries due to the global nature of the system. This is not really in any great contradiction with Stalin’s view at all. He continues:

…Hence, it will go slowest and will meet most obstacles in Germany, most rapidly and with the fewest difficulties in England. It will have a powerful impact on the other countries of the world, and will radically alter the course of development which they have followed up to now, while greatly stepping up its pace…”

This further implies that the process is actually very much gradual. One should also point out that he talks about a Communist Revolution, not the building of a Socialist Society. We know that Communist Revolutions can succeed in individual countries as was proven by October, but Engels is perfectly correct in pointing that these Revolutions by their very nature will spread to other countries and exist in a context of global class-struggle. I’ll deal with this topic in further detail when talking about the ”Final Victory of Socialism.”

Lastly Engels states about the Communist Revolution:

”…It is a universal revolution and will, accordingly, have a universal range.”

This re-iterates what we said previously. Obviously Communism will have to be a global system, although this has somewhat different implications in our context as opposed to when Engels wrote his text. Now let us briefly return to one earlier point and also look at Stalin’s comments on this passage by Engels. This is what Stalin says about it:

”That was written in the forties of the last century, when monopoly capitalism did not yet exist. It is characteristic that there is not even a mention here of Russia; Russia is left out altogether. And that is quite understandable, since at that time Russia with its revolutionary proletariat, Russia as a revolutionary force, did not yet exist and could not have existed. Was what is said here, in this quotation, correct in the conditions of pre-monopoly capitalism, in the period when Engels wrote it? Yes, it was correct. Is this opinion correct now, in the new conditions, the conditions of monopoly capitalism and proletarian revolution? No, it is no longer correct.”
~Stalin, The Social-Democratic Deviation in our Party

Stalin points out the different stage of history Engels wrote his text in, the age before modern imperialism. Engels proposes the classic orthodox Marxist prediction that revolution will happen in developed European states. This did occur post-wwi but the revolutions failed everywhere except Russia. On top of that in the epoch of modern imperialism it has become clear that the frontline of revolution was shifted towards the developing world, not first world imperialist countries. Engels was correct in his own context, but its safe to say things have taken an unforeseen turn. To claim nothing has change since Engels would be nothing but opportunism.

Opponents of Socialism in One Country should keep in mind that Engels says nothing about Socialism being impossible in Russia, what he does is propose that Revolution would begin in the West. Granted he bases his prediction on the idea that capitalism is more developed in the West, but he wrote before the birth of imperialism.

Let’s refer to Lenin on this issue:

“Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone…”
~Lenin, “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe”

Is Lenin contradicting Engels? Not exactly, he is merely pointing out the new historical situation, the epoch of modern imperialism. As Stalin said: ”[I]n the period when Engels wrote… Yes, it was correct.”

Furthermore one should keep in mind that when Engels wrote the West itself was less developed then in the early 1900s. Urban Russia in 1917 was in many ways comparable to urban Germany in 1847. The Opportunists who claimed dogmatically that Socialism was utterly impossible in Russia were already destroyed by Lenin:

”Infinitely stereotyped, for instance, is the argument they learned by rote during the development of West-European Social-Democracy, namely, that we are not yet ripe for socialism, but as certain “learned” gentleman among them put it, the objective economic premises for socialism do not exist in our country… “The development of the productive forces of Russia has not yet attained the level that makes socialism possible.” All the heroes of the Second International, including, of course, Sukhanov, beat the drums about this proposition. They keep harping on this incontrovertible proposition in a thousand different keys, and think that it is decisive criterion of our revolution… You say that civilization is necessary for the building of socialism. Very good. But why could we not first create such prerequisites of civilization in our country by the expulsion of the landowners and the Russian capitalists, and then start moving toward socialism? Where, in what books, have you read that such variations of the customary historical sequence of events are impermissible or impossible?”
~Lenin, “Our Revolution” (1923)

Lenin’s statement is in perfect accordance with the mindset of what Engels said earlier, though Engels speaks of revolution and not socialist construction:

”…the communist revolution … will develop in each of these countries … according as one country or the other has a more developed industry, greater wealth, a more significant mass of productive forces. Hence, it will go slowest and will meet most obstacles in Germany, most rapidly and with the fewest difficulties in England…”

Engels says the process will meet more difficulties in less developed Germany, but he at no point implies it to be impossible. In fact Engels explains what he seems to perceive as adequate capitalist development for a ”civilized” (modern industrial) country as follows:

”…it has co-ordinated the social development of the civilized countries to such an extent that, in all of them, bourgeoisie and proletariat have become the decisive classes, and the struggle between them the great struggle of the day…”

The fact that bourgeoisie & proletariat are the decisive classes seems to be enough for him. Another question is to define what he means by ”decisive”. Opportunists will scream that the developing world is not ready because they have many peasants, but in 1847 so did the Western countries. Clearly decisive means something else then numerical superiority, it means the emergence of those two classes as independent political forces and the emergence of capitalist relations in the country. Lenin’s thesis was the alliance of the proletariat & the peasantry, even Trotsky and other opportunists had to eventually agree to the correctness of this.

Exploring this topic in-depth is beyond the scope of this article, but I will say is that an alliance of this kind under the leadership of the proletariat is perfectly in accordance with Marxism:

”…we consider the small peasant living by his own labor as virtually belonging to us, but [helping them is] also in the direct interest of the Party. The greater the number of peasants whom we can save from being actually hurled down into the proletariat, whom we can win to our side while they are still peasants, the more quickly and easily the social transformation will be accomplished.”
~Engels, The Peasant Question in France and Germany

 

pd2556041.jpg

Under Stalin’s leadership while applying Lenin’s theory the Soviet Union became a socialist country

 

The alleged ”counter-arguments” by Lenin

Trotskyists and other Opportunist will occasionally point out a Lenin quote that seemingly argues that socialism in Russia is impossible. They do this to justify their defeatism, their utopian need to reject any real-life revolutions as not representing the rosy picture in their mind.

Now let’s take a look at some of these quotes. I will have to use guess-work to some degree as no quote from Lenin truly argues in favor of the Opportunists. As no such quote exists I will look at some which could be misinterpreted as doing so. Here is one:

”Capital is an international force. To vanquish it, an international workers’ alliance, an international workers’ brotherhood, is needed. We are opposed to national enmity and discord, to national exclusiveness. We are internationalists.”
~Lenin, Letter to the Workers and Peasants of the Ukraine (1919)

Opportunists like quotes where Lenin uses the word ”internationalism” because in their fantasy Stalin and therefore Socialism in One Country was opposed to internationalism. This is of course false. We will look at this in greater detail in connexion with ”the Final Victory of Socialism.” For now I will simply present this short passage, as if this even needed to be said:

”We must be true to the end to the cause of proletarian internationalism, to the cause of the fraternal alliance of the proletarians of all countries.”
~Stalin, Report to the 17th Party Congress on the Work of the C.C. of the C.P.S.U.(B.) (1934)

One of the more frequently used quotes is this:

We are now, as it were, in a besieged fortress, waiting for the other detachments of the world socialist revolution to come to our relief… Slowly but surely the workers are adopting communist, Bolshevik tactics and are marching towards the proletarian revolution, which alone is capable of saving dying culture and dying mankind. In short, we are invincible, because the world proletarian revolution is invincible.”
~Lenin Letter To American Workers (1918)

Really this talk of a ”besieged fort” does not greatly differ from classic Stalinist rhetoric about ”capitalist encirclement” or in any way contradict Stalin’s view.

At this point I can’t remember any quotes where Lenin or some other Bolshevik stated that without outside help their revolution wasn’t going to survive but I am fairly certain I’ve seen such a quote. In any case if such a quote exists it only means two things:

1) They were talking about the survival of their insurrection. This is a question of military strength, not a theoretical question.

2) They would have been mistaken, since they actually did end up surviving.

Basically such notions would have been fairly standard stuff for the time. The Bolsheviks all wanted the Revolution to succeed all over the world, e.g. this is Lenin in the same letter to American workers in 1918:

”We are banking on the inevitability of the world revolution, but this does not mean that we are such fools as to bank on the revolution inevitably coming on a definite and early date…”

He is writing in the dire military situation when they hoped some other country would come to their aid. However after their power consolidated and the European revolutions failed Lenin & the Bolsheviks chose a different tone:

“…when we are told that the victory of socialism is possible only on a world scale, we regard this merely as an attempt, a particularly hopeless attempt, on the part of the bourgeoisie and its voluntary and involuntary supporters to distort the irrefutable truth.”
~Lenin, “Speech to the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets”

“Since Soviet power has been established, since the bourgeoisie has been overthrown in one country, the second task is to wage the struggle on a world scale… On the other hand, since the rule of the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, the main task is to organise the development of the country.”
~Lenin, “The Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government”

Even in his 1918 letter to America Lenin makes the clarification that they don’t know how long they’ll be the only socialist country in the world and their immediate situation is not untennable. This all relates to the ”Final Victory of Socialism” which we shall look at in the next part.

lenin-and-stalin(3)

Lenin and Stalin are suspicious of opportunism

”The Final Victory of Socialism”
First let’s cover some basic ”stalinist” terminology:

Capitalist encirclement

The USSR was a single Proletarian state surrounded by hostile capitalist countries. A base for world revolution. This situation was referred to as ”capitalist encirclement.”

Complete Socialist Society

Term coined by Lenin which meant a society in the low stage of communism (to use orthodox marxist terminology) i.e. The means of production are owned in common (by state & collective sectors), private property and market economy have been abolished. When agriculture was collectivized and five-year plans implemented Stalin proclaimed that the USSR had reached this stage.

Final Victory of Socialism

Guarantee against capitalist restoration or invasion.

Now let’s look at this last term more closely. In 1924 Stalin pointed out that according to Lenin:

”The dictatorship of the proletariat is a power which rests on an alliance between the proletariat and the laboring masses of the peasantry for “the complete overthrow of capital” and for “the final establishment and consolidation of socialism.”
~Stalin, The October Revolution & the Tactics of the Russian Communists (1924)

Interestingly in the first edition of The Foundations of Leninism Stalin stated:

”…can the final victory of socialism be achieved in one country, without the joint efforts of the proletarians in several advanced countries? No, it cannot. To overthrow the bourgeoisie the efforts of one country are sufficient; this is proved by the history of our revolution. For the final victory of socialism, for the organisation of socialist production, the efforts of one country, particularly of a peasant country like Russia, are insufficient; for that, the efforts of the proletarians of several advanced countries are required”

However in Concerning Questions of Leninism he explains:

”I modified and corrected this formulation in my pamphlet The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists (December 1924); I divided the question into two―into the question of a full guarantee against the restoration of the bourgeois order, and the question of the possibility of building a complete socialist society in one country. This was effected, in the first place, by treating the “complete victory of socialism” as a “full guarantee against the restoration of the old order,” which is possible only through “the joint efforts of the proletarians of several countries”; and, secondly, by proclaiming, on the basis of Lenin’s pamphlet On Co-operation, the indisputable truth that we have all that is necessary for building a complete socialist society”

It was standard dogma for Marxists to echo the statements similar to the Engels passage we looked at in the beginning of this article, that the revolution relied on the developed Western countries. That said I find it fascinating that Stalin held the more orthodox Marxist view longer then Lenin. On Co-operation was written in 1923 and was Lenin’s last major theoretical contribution. Socialism in One Country truly was Lenin’s invention, merely applied and carried out by Stalin.

So in the last formulation ”the final victory of socialism” means:

“the final victory of Socialism, in the sense of full guarantee against the restoration of bourgeois relations, is possible only on an international scale”
~Resolution of the Fourteenth Conference of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

“The final victory of Socialism is the full guarantee against attempts at intervention, and that means against restoration, for any serious attempt at restoration can take place only with serious support from outside, only with the support of international capital.”
~Stalin, Problems of Leninism

In his ”On the Final Victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.” Stalin presents the following Lenin quote to explain his view:

“We are living not merely in a State but in a system of States, and it is inconceivable that the Soviet Republic should continue to coexist for a long period side by side with imperialist States. Ultimately one or other must conquer. Meanwhile, a number of terrible clashes between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois States is inevitable. This means that if the proletariat, as the ruling class, wants to and will rule, it must prove this also by military organization.”
~Lenin (Collected Works, Vol. 24. P. 122.)** (see end notes)

So final victory means guarantee against restoration and intervention. In my opinion Stalin somewhat over emphasized foreign invasions though one can hardly blame him. He said that possibly even the existence of several Socialist countries could be sufficient guarantee but this has been proven to be overly optimistic.

That said the basic formulation of ”final victory” remains correct. Personally I would define guarantee against restoration as: global victory of the revolution, complete or near complete elimination of capitalism on a global scale. Call me pessimist but I think only at such a stage can we truly say we’ve won.

LENIN on ‘Socialism in one country’

Here I will leave a series of quotations from Lenin talking about Communist Revolution in One Country or building Socialist Production in One Country. Of course when we talk about ”Socialism in One Country” we mean the latter.

“Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone. After expropriating the capitalists and organising their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world―the capitalist world…”
~Lenin, “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe” (1915)

“…Socialism cannot achieve victory simultaneously in all countries. It will achieve victory first in one or several countries…”
~Lenin, “The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution” (1916)

“…when we are told that the victory of socialism is possible only on a world scale, we regard this merely as an attempt, a particularly hopeless attempt, on the part of the bourgeoisie and its voluntary and involuntary supporters to distort the irrefutable truth.”
~Lenin, “Speech to the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets” (1918)

“Since Soviet power has been established, since the bourgeoisie has been overthrown in one country, the second task is to wage the struggle on a world scale… On the other hand, since the rule of the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, the main task is to organise the development of the country.”
~Lenin, “The Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government” (1919)

Socialism is no longer a matter of the distant future… We have dragged socialism into everyday life, and here we must find our way… Permit me to conclude by expressing the conviction that, difficult as this task may be, new as it may be compared with our previous task, and no matter how many difficulties it may entail, we shall all―not in one day, but in the course of several years―all of us together fulfil it whatever happens so that NEP Russia will become socialist Russia
~Lenin, “Speech At A Plenary Session Of The Moscow Soviet Nov. 20, 1922”

”As a matter of fact, the political power of the Soviet over all large-scale means of production, the power in the state in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants, the assured leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat, etc, …is not this all that is necessary in order from the co-operatives – from the co-operatives alone, which we formerly treated as huckstering, and which, from a certain aspect, we have the right to treat as such now, under the new economic policy – is not this all that is necessary in order to build a complete socialist society? This is not yet the building of socialist society but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for this building.”
~Lenin, “On Cooperation” (1923)

”Infinitely stereotyped, for instance, is the argument they learned by rote during the development of West-European Social-Democracy, namely, that we are not yet ripe for socialism, but as certain “learned” gentleman among them put it, the objective economic premises for socialism do not exist in our country… “The development of the productive forces of Russia has not yet attained the level that makes socialism possible.” All the heroes of the Second International, including, of course, Sukhanov, beat the drums about this proposition. They keep harping on this incontrovertible proposition in a thousand different keys, and think that it is decisive criterion of our revolution… You say that civilization is necessary for the building of socialism. Very good. But why could we not first create such prerequisites of civilization in our country by the expulsion of the landowners and the Russian capitalists, and then start moving toward socialism? Where, in what books, have you read that such variations of the customary historical sequence of events are impermissible or impossible?”
~Lenin, “Our Revolution” (1923)

STALIN on ‘Socialism in one country’

Here will be Stalin quotes to the same effect explaining what considers ”Socialism in One Country”:

”The dictatorship of the proletariat is the instrument of the proletarian revolution, its organ, its most important mainstay, brought into being for the purpose of, firstly, crushing the resistance of the overthrown exploiters and consolidating the achievements of the proletarian revolution, and secondly, carrying the revolution to the complete victory of socialism.”
~Stalin, The Foundations of Leninism (1924)

”This fact shows that socialised funds constitute a very large share of the total, and this share is growing compared with the share of property in the non-socialised sector… Our system as a whole is transitional from capitalism to socialism”
~Stalin, The Fourteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.) (1925)

”And so, what is the victory of socialism in our country? It means achieving the dictatorship of the proletariat and completely building socialism, thus overcoming the capitalist, elements in our economy through the internal forces of our revolution.”
~Stalin, The Social-Democratic Deviation in our Party (1926)

”Only the blind can deny that the progress in the building of socialism in our country”
~Stalin, The Trotskyist Opposition Before and Now (1927)

”…the victory of socialism is possible in separate countries, thus envisaging the prospect of the formation of two parallel centres of attraction – the centre of world capitalism and the centre of world socialism.”
~Stalin, Results of the July Plenum of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) (1928)

“the question stands as follows: either one way or the other, either back―to capitalism, or forward―to socialism. There is not, and cannot be, any third way.”
~Stalin, Concerning Questions of Agrarian Policy in the U.S.S.R. (1929)

Quotes about the ”Final Victory of Socialism”

LENIN:
”…when we are told that the victory of socialism is possible only on a world scale, we regard this merely as an attempt, a particularly hopeless attempt, on the part of the bourgeoisie and of its voluntary and involuntary supporters to distort the irrefutable truth. The final victory of socialism in a single country is of course impossible.”
~Third All-Russia Congress Of Soviets Of Workers’, Soldiers’ And Peasants’ Deputies (1918)

We are living not merely in a state, but in a system of states, and it is inconceivable for the Soviet Republic to exist alongside of the imperialist states for any length of time. One or the other must triumph in the end.”
~Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) (1919)

STALIN:
“The final victory of Socialism is the full guarantee against attempts at intervention, and that means against restoration, for any serious attempt at restoration can take place only with serious support from outside, only with the support of international capital.”
~Stalin, Problems of Leninism (1934)

“the final victory of Socialism, in the sense of full guarantee against the restoration of bourgeois relations, is possible only on an international scale”
~Stalin, On the Final Victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. (1938)

END NOTES:

*
I know it might be annoying to some but all quotes are in italics. This is to ensure they stand out from my own commentary.

**

this Lenin quote was given in an early edition of Lenin’s works. The quote originates from Lenin’s speech at the Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) It is translated differently in the new edition with the word ”conquer” changed to ”triumph”. As a result of this people have had some difficulty finding it and some Opportunists on the internet have jumped to the baseless conclusion that the quote is a Stalinist fabrication! This is a slanderous lie. On top of that there would be absolutely no point to commit such fabrication as Lenin said similar things in many other writings.

 

Other Communists on Trotsky & Trotskyism

CHE GUEVARA:
I think that the fundamental stuff that Trotsky was based upon was erroneous and that his ulterior behaviour was wrong and his last years were even dark. The Trotskyites have not contributed anything whatsoever to the revolutionary movement”
(‘Annexes’, p. 402)

che-guevara-2.jpg

HO CHI MIHN:
“In the past, in my eyes and those of a good number of comrades, Trotskyism seemed a matter of a struggle between tendencies within the Chinese Communist Party. That’s why we hardly paid it any attention. But a little before the outbreak of war, more exactly since the end of the year 1936 and notably during the war, the criminal propaganda of the Trotskyists opened our eyes.

“The Chinese Trotskyists (like the Trotskyists of other countries) do not represent a political group, much less a political party. They are nothing but a band of evil-doers, the running dogs of Japanese fascism (and of international fascism)”
“Three Letters from Ho Chi Mihn” (1939)

49c1a5c51f6342d5ce0c5c9ab25eb3a2.jpg

MAO TSE-TUNG:
“In the central districts of Hebei the Trotskyists organised a ‘Partisan-Company’ on the direct instructions of the Japanese headquarters and called it a ‘Second Section of the Eighth Army’. In March the two battalions of this company organised a mutiny but these bandits were surrounded by the Eighth Army and disarmed. In the Border Region such people are arrested by the peasant self-defence units which carry out a bitter struggle against traitors and spies.

‘Trotskyist agents are being sent to the Border Regions where they systematically apply all methods in their sabotage work against the cooperation of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party.”
“On the Use of Trotskyists as Japanese Spies in China” (1939)

mao_longmarch.jpg

Leader of the Finnish Communists O. W. KUUSINEN:
“But the ruling circles of the imperialist countries didn’t limit themselves to ideological struggle against socialism. Alongside it they engaged in provocational attacks against the Soviet Union and organized treacherous sabotage and wrecking activity, which was carried out in the production facilities of the Soviet Union by bourgeois experts, trotskyites, zinovievites, bukharinites and nationalists.”
–”Missä on Stalin, siellä on voitto”
(1949)

Ottokuusinen.jpg

Old bolshevik & Lenin’s wife N. KRUPSKAYA:
“Lenin wrote about Trotsky’s position on this, that he had ‘got entangled into a number of mistakes … it is not a coincidence, that Trotsky, who never understood the essence of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the role of the masses in building socialism …is now standing on the path of organising terrorist acts against Stalin, Voroshilov and other members of the Politburo, who are helping the masses to build socialism. It is not a matter of chance, therefore, that the unprincipled bloc of Kamenev and Zinoviev together with Trotsky have pushed them from one step to another into a deep abyss of an unheard betrayal of Lenin’s work, the work of the masses, the ideals of Socialism. Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and their entire band of killers acted together with the German fascists, entered into a pact with the Gestapo.”
“Why Is the Second International Defending Trotsky?” (1936)

220px-Krupskaja_1890.jpg

LENIN:
What a swine this Trotsky is—Left phrases, and a bloc with the Right…”
Letter to Alexandra Kollontai” (1917)

It is Trotsky who is in “ideological confusion”… There you have an example of the real bureaucratic approach: Trotsky… Trotsky’s “theses” are politically harmful…”
The Trade Unions, The Present Situation And Trotsky’s Mistakes” (1920)

vladimir-lenin-crowd-communism-1718182.jpg

End notes:

The Kuusinen quote above was translated by myself. The original Finnish quote is:

“Mutta imperialististen maiden hallitsevat piirit eivät rajoittuneet pelkästään ideologiseen kamppailuun sosialismia vastaan. Sen rinnalla ne ryhtyivät provokatorisiin hyökkäyksiin Neuvostoliittoa vastaan ja järjestivät katalia tihutöitä ja tuholaistoimintaa, jota Neuvostoliiton tuotantolaitoksissa harjoittivat porvarilliset asiantuntijat trotskilaiset, zinovjevlaiset, buharinilaiset ja kansalliskiihkoilijat.”

The “Leftist” critics of Socialism

leon-trotsky-photos

Many so-called leftist critics of historical Socialism often attack Leninists such as myself as “Stalinists” or “tankies” while proclaiming their own ideological superiority and purity. They are generally outraged or outright confused when Leninists suggest that these “leftist critics” are doing the work of the bourgeois and the imperialists. What do we mean by that?

What is Legitimate Criticism?

Marxism is a scientific type of Socialism and science learns from it’s mistakes. Therefore its logical and positive to engage in criticism and self-criticism and to keep in mind that the great socialist and progressive thinkers who came before us didn’t have the luxury of following any pre-existing model of socialism. They erred more often then not due to the fact that they were pioneers in uncharted territory. It shouldn’t surprise us they made mistakes but neither should we exaggerate those mistakes or use them to diminish their great successes and achievements. It is easier for us to see farther for we are standing on the shoulders of giants.

Leninists are by no means opposed to criticism. It is entirely legitimate to analyse and challenge the theoretical contributions of Lenin, how they were applied by Stalin, Mao or Che Guevara for instance. However this criticism should be principled and based on facts. So-called “leftist critics” like Trotskyists, various Anarchists and revisionists simply parrot bourgeois talking points, bourgeois propaganda and “facts” provided to them by bourgeois sources. Often times this is totally unintentional on their part. They simply do not possess the necessary source criticism, lack the understanding of how media, academia etc. functions and how the bourgeois influences them. Their inability to grasp this is particularly tragic as they claim to be Marxists and it was Marx himself who pointed out that the ideology of the ruling class is always the hegemonic one in society and as a result often held by a vast number of people even outside said ruling class.

”The Experts Tell Me You’re Wrong!” (Evidence & Burden of Proof)

Every now and then I encounter something akin to the following statements:
”Only Stalinist crackpots like you believe X”
”All experts agree. You who believe X are only a fringe group that is not to be trusted”

Everyone with even the most basic understanding of logic should realize the above statements are a logical fallacy – an appeal to authority, and to a degree an appeal to popularity. Naturally in many cases you would want to ask the opinion of an expert but even so it should be the evidence itself, not the person who is giving the evidence that should matter.

Basically it boils down to this: I believe or don’t believe something and instead of dealing with my argument like adults the opponents (whether they be liberals, anarchists, trotskyists etc.) choose to attack my position as too extreme, too outlandish to even be worth considering – especially since, as they say  ”the experts” are against me. But are the experts really against the Leninist point of view? Who even are these so-called experts? Due to the hegemonic position of the bourgeois point of view it is often seen as the default position by leftist critics of Socialism.

It is “mainstream” in the sense that the ruling class media and academia supports it, but that doesn’t mean it is by any sense objective or correct. The burden of proof lies on the one making the claim, not the one who is less popular. Still in the general political discussion the burden of proof is usually pushed onto the Communists themselves  to prove their innocence of wrong doings when in reality it should be on the ones making the accusations. A tendency among “leftist” and other critics of Socialism is to readily accept bourgeois propaganda against socialism, but approach any pro-socialist information with extreme skepticism because, “anti-capitalism is fringe” (and thus perceived as unreliable by default) while anti-communism is “mainstream” (and thus apparently automatically more reliable). In this way the burden of proof is effectively always shifted onto to the Communists.

The Anti-Soviet Paradigm

Without getting into the wider political debate I will point out that its no coincidence certain groups such as Trotskyists, anarchists, liberals etc. are more prone to believing the ”mainstream” (hegemonic bourgeois) point of view on various subjects. This is not an insult, or a judgement on the validity of this point of view, but merely a statement of fact.

To put matters bluntly, according to them, we Leninists are fringe crackpots who shut our eyes and ears from anything contradicting our worldview – while according to us they are gullible and anti-Marxist people believing almost anything the capitalists tell them. Maybe they are right. Maybe we are right. Maybe neither one of us is right, but this will have to be determined with evidence.

Let us ask ourselves this one question. Why are the Trotskyists for instance seemingly so eager to accept bourgeois sources as fact while the Leninists are so hesitant to do the same? Trotskyists and the bourgeois are both by enlarge critics of historical socialist experiments while Leninists tend to be defenders of them. For this reason the bourgeois generally tend to spread views hostile to historical socialism which Trotskyists eat up gleefully. Only the Leninist ”fringe” would defend historical socialism. Personally I believe that most supporters of Trotskyism are such precisely because this bourgeois propaganda.

Bourgeois Hegemony

Sometimes I’m taken by surprise by just how naive some self-proclaimed socialists are. I’m talking about the kind of ”left critics” of socialism who simply do not understand that the bourgeois have a countless number of overt and subtle ways of controlling information.

Is it any wonder that in the USA you cannot be a professional historian unless you periodically publish anti-Soviet material? J. Arch Getty, a liberal historian of the Soviet period comes under constant attacks from the Right as a Communist sympathizer because of his more balanced approach, and his views on the Soviet Union are hardly positive, just not negative enough. Since the beginning of the cold-war the CIA, HUAC and others have been overtly involved in monitoring how ‘history’ is written and presented to the public but on top of that the Robert Conquest school of red bashing also makes a lot of money for it’s authors. Check the sources on your history books, do they have primary sources or secondary sources? What are these sources? The Black Book of CommunismThe Great Terror? Or merely some other book citing the previous two as “evidence” of Communist atrocities?

The CIA has been, and still is deeply involved in the media (Operation Mockingbird, CCF, Radio Free Europe, NED etc. etc. etc.) and on top of that most of American media (which dominates the world) is in the hands of private corporations  in the hands of capitalists. They are not stupid, even when they don’t outright lie they choose to cover topics which cast a negative light on socialism and choose to ignore topics which portray socialism positively. They present a scale of authors or experts with varying degrees of anti-communist bias and thus appear to not be monolithic or to control the discussion. They even allow anti-government speech as long as its liberal enough or can be marginalized easily. News, documentaries or history books are not objective fact that falls from the sky  they are written and created by people, people who get together and plan what to write, how to write and when to write it.

Do the Capitalists Really Defend Ultra-Leftism, Trotskyism Or Anarchism?

The answer to this question is in a way both yes and no. Obviously capitalists don’t support any of the above mentioned -isms. However they share a common enemy with them. The CIA realized long ago that extreme Right-Wing or conservative anti-Communist propaganda doesn’t work well on liberals or Left-Wingers (cf. Congress for Cultural Freedom), instead its much more effective to claim that Anti-Soviet-ism is the real Left-wing thing to do (sic). George Orwell, Leon Trotsky, Khruschev, Gorbachev and even Noam Chomsky are some of the big names in “left-wing” anti-communism  people who appear to challenge capitalism but whose ideas are either entirely misguided ideologically, tactically unsound, dishonest or too limited in their scope to be effective and serve only to steer people away from genuine anti-capitalist struggle.

Lenin On The Theory of Permanent Revolution

“While fighting Narodism as a wrong doctrine of socialism, the Mensheviks, in a doctrinaire fashion, overlooked the historically real and progressive historical content of Narodism as a theory of the mass petty-bourgeois struggle of democratic capitalism against liberal-landlord capitalism, of “American” capitalism against “Prussian” capitalism. Hence their monstrous, idiotic, renegade idea (which has also thoroughly permeated The Social Movement) that the peasant movement is reactionary” (Letter to I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov – V.I. Lenin)

“The greater the extent and scope of historic events, the greater the number of people that take part in them and the more profound the change we desire to bring about, the more necessary is it to rouse interest in these events, to rouse a conscientious attitude towards them and to convince millions and tens of millions of the people of the necessity for them.”(Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets, Part II – V.I. Lenin)

At the end of 1903, Trotsky was an ardent Menshevik, i.e., he deserted from the Iskrists to the Economists. He said that ‘between the old Iskra and the new lies a gulf’. In 1904-05, he deserted the Mensheviks and occupied a vacillating position, now co-operating with Martynov (the Economist), now proclaiming his absurdly Left ‘permanent revolution’ theory.”(Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity – V.I. Lenin)

“To bring clarity into the alignment of classes in the impending revolution is the main task of a revolutionary party. This task is being shirked by the Organising Committee, which within Russia remains a faithful ally to Nashe Dyelo, and abroad utters meaningless “Left” phrases. This task is being wrongly tackled in Nashe Slovo by Trotsky, who is repeating his “original” 1905 theory and refuses to give some thought to the reason why, in the course of ten years, life has been bypassing this “splendid” theory.”

“From the Bolsheviks Trotsky’s original theory has borrowed their call for a decisive proletarian revolutionary struggle and for the conquest of political power by the proletariat, while from the Mensheviks it has borrowed “repudiation” of the peasantry’s role.”

“Trotsky is in fact helping the liberal-labour politicians in Russia, who by “repudiation” of the role of the peasantry understand a refusal to raise up the peasants for the revolution!”

(On the Two Lines in the Revolution – V.I. – Lenin)

lenin stalin revolution