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A Tribute to Stalin, on the 61st Anniversary of his Death
Today is a sad and solemn day as it marks the 61st anniversary of the death of Comrade Stalin. But that also makes it a joyous and glorious day, an opportunity to remember the work of possibly the 21st Century's most important man. As a communist, that is not to place Stalin above Lenin, but to recognize the historical fact that Stalin both happened to be the man the greatest tasks of the era fell to, but also that he was capable of rising to these great challenges.
As general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union he faced challenges the likes of what had never been known before. These included the intensification of the class struggle under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, the defeat of the Kulak class, the defeat of the counter-revolutionary capitalist restorationists in the party, the turning of a backwards agrarian economy into a modern industrialized force, the defeat of Hitlerite reaction and liberation of Europe from fascism.
These incredible successes ensured his name would live forever.
But they also ensured the dishonourable besmirching of his name. .As Stalin himself prophetically envisaged
"I know that after my death a pile of rubbish will be heaped on my grave, but the wind of History will sooner or later sweep it away without mercy".
Willie Gallacher gave further clarity when paying tribute on the passing of our leader ""If he had been a petty-bourgeois ‘intellectual’ he would have lost the revolution and earned the praise of the workers’ enemies. But to save the revolution—that was ‘rude’, ‘ruthless’."
His theoretical contributions to the science of Marxism-Leninism must only be matched by Marx and Lenin themselves. He built upon their base, creatively applying their teachings in order to meet the many challenges he, the Soviet people and international working class faced. For it was Stalin whom the task of socialist construction fell to. It was he who faced the greatest and most unenviable tasks.
After Lenin's death the CPSU met a fork in the road. The party could continue ahead on Lenin's path to socialism or disembark with a right-turn. Down that road led the enemies in the party, the Trotsky's, Zinoviev's, Kamenev's and Bukharins. This tumultuous period was one of double-dealing political manouvering by these elements. All that remained solid and fixed was Stalin, he remained always, true to Lenin. In contrast Zinoviev, Kamenev and Trotsky alligned against Stalin and the party, in an attempted power grab. They had no plans for socialist construction, only plans to end Stalin.
Similarly, when the Left Opposition were defeated, Bukharin emerged. Initially a supporter of Stalin, the small political vacuum left by the defeat of the Left Opposition presented Bukharin an opportunity. He would now become opponent of Stalin, attacking from the right. The battleground was on agriculture, industrialization and the Kulak question, all being so intertwined. But yet again, the opposition were not content with just opposing Stalin politically. Swiss communist Jules Humbert Droz, a confidant and friend of Bukharin, told us that Bukharin's faction had only one purpose "to make Stalin disappear". The March 1938 trial of the Bloc of Rightists and Trotskyites revealed the extent of the treachery and betrayal of the revolution.
But it should be noted that it took some time to get to this position. As Marxist-Leninists, we of course must learn from successes and errors. If Stalin made an error here, it was his great leniency and compassion. He wanted to think the best of his comrades and forgive their errors.
For it was from 1923, and just prior to Lenin's death that the treachery began. Initially with Trotsky, in a few years Zinoviev and Kamenev were firmly in the Trotskyite camp agitating against the Soviet government. At the XIV Congress of the CPSU they were overwhelmingly politically defeated by Stalin. But they remained in the party, no action was taken against them and Zinoviev was even permitted to hold high office in the COMINTERN. But yet again they attack the government and party by joining the Trotskyite ranks. It was only then, in 1927 that Zinoviev was expelled from the central committee. When the United Opposition ran demonstrations on the 10th anniversary of the revolution, they were expelled from the party. But again, Stalin's leniency was shown, they were allowed to return to the party after admitting their errors. But their anti-party work was then continued. In 1932 they were expelled again. But the next year returned to the party once more. Then in 1934 they were arrested for complicity in the murder of Kirov. This was the leniency and forgiveness of Stalin, in great contrast to the tyrant image manufactured by the bourgeoisie.
In the battles with Bukharin, Stalin exposed the right wing deviation in the CPSU. Where Stalin looked to collectivize agriculture, the right defended Kulak exploitation and a market economy. Where Stalin wanted rapid industrialization, they attempted to slow it down. The interconnectivity of these questions is evident. In 1931 Stalin warned that the Soviets were 50 to 100 years behind the industrialized countries, either they caught up in 10, or they would be crushed. Simply put, collectivization was the mechanism for defeating the remnants of the bourgeois class - the sympathisers of the likely invaders, it allowed the control of grain which could now be exchanged for heavy machinery, which in turn lead to the fastest industrialization in history, which in turn allowed the defeat of the Nazi war machine. The Soviets of course being responsible for defeating 80% of the Nazi troops and for storming Berlin, ending the conflict. Every step of his struggle against the enemies within the communist party had led to this moment. Every victory over Zinoviev etc had allowed Europe to be freed from the Nazi scourge.
Fighting the Slander
Despite all of this, his name has been slandered like no other in history. From the bourgoiesie, his name brought fear like no other. Their slander was to be expected as he had defeated fascism, saw socialism spread through eastern Europe and the western communist parties were at their largest and strongest under the guidance of Stalin. He was the undoubted great leader of the era.
But after his death a new regime came to power in the Soviet Union. Nikita Khrushchev's revisionist group set about slandering Stalin. At the 20th congress, Khrushchev made claim after claim against Stalin, all without evidence, and later proven false. But the damage was done. Khrushchev's betrayal had been spread throughout the USSR and picked up by the western bourgeoisie, what a gift this was to them. They were able to demonize Stalin, and attack him, in order to attack socialism. Unfounded claim after unfounded claim was passed as fact regarding Stalin's apparent crimes. Using the Soviet archives, the excellent historian, professor Grover Furr put it bluntly "Soviet history is falsified the most. I have spent many years researching this and researching similar questions. And I have yet to find one crime, yet to find one crime that Stalin committed."
Today some will say that the disintegration of the Soviet Union is proof of the flaws of Stalin's Marxism-Leninism. But the likely scenario is the Soviet Union disintegrated because the post-Stalin leadership abandoned the Marxist-Leninist line. As after Stalin's death the USSR redirected resources from developing the means of production, to the production of consumer goods. They blunted the international communist movement by removing its great weapon, violent revolution. The Soviet Union now preached the theoretical abberations of a parliamentary road to socialism and peaceful co-existence with capitalism, a clear break with Marx, Lenin and Stalin. The Soviet Union now talked the game of social democracy, its economy began moving away in the direction from socialism to capitalism. The national question was ignored. All of these led to the Soviet Union's destruction. To survive, the USSR had needed more Stalin, not less.
But again, what jumps out at us is the great compassion of Stalin. It is difficult not to question what may have been had he struggled against the Khrushchev group, to expose them and have them removed from the party. Khrushchev and co. were the first generation of leaders who had joined the party after the revolution. They had joined the communists not when they were in opposition, in threat of death and exile. They joined after the revolution, knowing they were joining a ruling party.
While we look at such possible errors, whether they were errors or not, nothing can detract from the great achievements he made.
The great masses of humanity may never have known Stalin, but their lives have been touched and enriched by his achievements.
And while the slanders of the 20th congress against Stalin led to the split of the international communist movement, it is the new truth emerging on Stalin which can reinvigorate and unite the communist movement. The revisionists can only hide from the truth for so long as Stalin's great work is rediscovered by new generations loyal to the truth, and loyal to Stalin.
Stalin lived, Stalin lives, Stalin will live forever.