Commemorate the 126th Anniversary of Stalin's Birth by Assimilating and Applying His Development of Leninist Theory to Achieve Progress in Revolutionary Thought and Action!
J.V. Stalin December 21, 1879 - March 5, 1953
How should the anniversary of the birth of a great Marxist-Leninist be commemorated? There are numerous ways, but integral to any such commemoration is honoring the contributions the comrade has made to the revolutionary struggle of the working class. In the US, Scientific Socialists are indebted to Stalin and the party he served for developing theory on a broad array of issues that enabled us to make real progress in revolutionary thought and action. On this occasion of the 126th anniversary of the birth of J.V . Stalin, we'd like to highlight the fields of theory that have been of particular importance in shedding light on two vital questions: (1) the struggle against revisionism and (2) the political disposition and role of the capitalist class in the present period of imperialism.
Scientific Socialist has carried analysis of the first question in an article entitled "On the International Marxist-Leninist Movement's Struggle Against Revisionism" (Summer/Fall 95). Below we reprint a relevant excerpt (slightly edited) which begins by reiterating our general line on the phenomenon of revisionism(1). This general line is based on the experience of the CPSU (B)'s own struggle under Stalin's leadership against the fifth column Trotskyites. Currently, some Marxist-Leninists consider revisionism a dead issue. The "modern" Marxist-Leninists have obviously given up the struggle. However, documents coming out of a variant camp - the International Marxist-Leninist Movement - indicate a view that revisionism collapsed along with the Soviet Union and its Eastern bloc vassal states in the early 90s. Accordingly, revisionism and its main sponsors are relegated to the dust bin of history, and there is nothing much left to struggle against.
A hasty conclusion to say the least.
Although the CPSU and the International "Communist" Movement have departed from the scene, many of the parties in Moscow's orbit, including a number of splinter groups that had spun off from the CPSU itself, essentially maintain the same politics while others have remade themselves along social-democratic and similar rightist lines, none of which could be considered "anti-revisionist"(2). So why give up the struggle?
In the US, for example, the Communist Party remains active in the labor and democratic struggles, still shamelessly propagating its fossilized reformism and passing it off as in some sense "revolutionary," yet our "modern" Marxist-Leninists have nothing to say about it.
Because on many issues the line of the "modern" Marxist-Leninists is hardly distinguishable from the line of the CPUSA. This ridiculous state of affairs is a direct result of the disorientation that overwhelmed many parties in the International Marxist-Leninist Movement during the early 90s and led to their collapse into the same marsh as the revisionists.
No one, not even the strongest Marxist-Leninist party in the movement - the Party of Labor of Albania - was not adversely affected by a faulty or incomplete understanding of the true nature of revisionism. We hope that our critical evaluations of the PLA's politics on this question does not come across as presumptuous or arrogant. Science and scientific analysis are wielded by the revolutionary proletariat to serve its cause without any bias or partiality towards individuals and parties on the proletarian side of the class barricades. We are all in this to achieve common goals. Certainly Enver Hoxha and the Albanian Marxist-Leninists while he led the PLA adhered to this orientation, and Scientific Socialists have learned from it.
There is little doubt that the PLA was pursuing the revolutionary science vigorously and would have rectified its shortcomings regarding revisionism. In his report to the PLA's 8th Party Congress, Hoxha hit more directly at the nature of revisionism in claiming that "the revisionist parties in the capitalist countries were component parts of the structures of the bourgeois state.” This implied that the struggle against revisionism could not simply be waged on the ideological front; to defeat revisionism, practical political measures had to be taken(3). However, the social-fascist Aliaites that had infiltrated the party throttled the development of the class struggle on all fronts, softening up the PLA and the PSRA for imperialist internal aggression after Hoxha's death.
Concerning the second issue, very little of Stalin's writings or speeches have appeared in English translation during the crucial period following World War II until he was assassinated in 1953. This was a time when imperialism and its general crisis had entered a new stage. That is why it is necessary to pay utmost attention to the materials that are available, such as the extremely important works, Marxism and the Problems of Linguistics (1950) and Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR (1952). These have been published and distributed in the movement since the time they appeared in the Soviet Union, providing crucial breakthroughs in the theoretical fields they address. Nevertheless, Stalin made other significant contributions that have either been downplayed or ignored. One in particular is Stalin's Speech to the 19th Party Congress in 1952.
While this very brief speech on its surface may be taken as simply a perfunctory one of revolutionary greetings and gratitude to fraternal parties as well as encouraging their work, there are major themes that Stalin expresses that go beyond this. One is the emphasis he places on the Marxist-Leninist principle and protocols of proletarian internationalism that all parties must practice, despite their size and strength. But another point actually pronounces a major change in the world situation, which dramatically alters the proletariat's revolutionary strategy and tactics.
The following excerpt speaks to both of the questions posed, and the analysis is grounded in the theory developed by Stalin and the CPSU (B):
Returning to the discussion on the Soviet social-fascists, we can see that before key members of the Khruschevite clique “turned revisionist,” they were not Marxist-Leninists as has been widely assumed but agents of various imperialist foreign espionage services. Recently, some light has been shed on Khruschev's shadowy past, viz., that he was a hidden Trotskyite. No doubt, although the ring-leaders of the Troyskyite fifth column were successfully purged from the CPSU (B) in the 30s, other low-ranking elements remained in both the Party and state apparatus. Khruschev and other agents were designated as “sleepers” to be later mobilized in another attempt at imperialist internal aggression against the Soviet Union. As a result, modern revisionism, taken as a whole, is an integral part of neo-fascism's organized war against the revolutionary proletariat and the Khrushchevites became its shock troops.
The above discoveries and conclusions have led Scientific Socialist to formulate a Stalinist orientation toward revisionism. In the process, we are gaining a more objective understanding of various features of this phenomenon, most importantly the one concerning the stand and struggle of the International Marxist-Leninist Movement to defend revolutionary proletarian theory and practice. For example, although we have not changed our view that the PLA (1941-1986) played a vital role in defending Marxism-Leninism, the revolution, and Socialism against imperialism and its fifth column agencies, we now see that because the PLA lacked such an orientation, it was not in the strongest position to wage this defense. Having the advantage of evaluating significant developments in retrospect, we have assessed that from its earliest struggles against the Khrushevite social-fascists, the PLA correctly analyzed important aspects of the counter-revolution- but not all of them.
Important evidence to support this assessment is the Statement of the Conference of World Communist Parties (1960). This document, better known as the Moscow Declaration of 81 Communist Parties was approved by the PLA , which had participated in the conference. Those familiar with the PLA'a history know that it was only endorsed by its delegates, led by Enver Hoxha , after a struggle by the Albanians and their supporters to include amendments to the document that from the standpoint of the PLA strengthened its Marxist-Leninist content to the point where “fundamental questions (were) presented correctly.”
We still view this struggle as a genuine effort that was intended to rid the declaration of clear violations of certain Marxist-Leninist principles and several blatant distortions of important issues of the time. But we are now aware that the PLA's fight fell far short of its goal of producing an effective Marxist-Leninist statement on all the important issues that this declaration addressed.
One crucial issue was the overall analysis of the international situation as it existed in 1960. As presented, the analysis in the document is completely muddled. It must be recalled that this was seven years after the social-fascist coup d'etat in the Soviet Union. The CPSU had already held two Congresses completely gutting the Marxist-Leninist line of the Party. Khruschev had delivered his “secret speech” equating Marxist-Leninist theory and practice with the “crimes of Stalinism.” The CPSU and all the parties in power in Eastern Europe with the exception of the PLA had already been transformed into social-fascist parties. They had overthrown the dictatorship of the proletariat in their countries and were forcing through measures in the economic sphere to fully restore the capitalist relations of production. In fact, world fascism was by then drunk with its success in destroying the Socialist camp as well as in suppressing or manipulating the revolutionary movements in many countries.
The leadership of the PLA was aware of key aspects of these developments. It knew of the transformation that the CPSU had undergone, which was crystallized in its 20th Party Congress. To be sure, for several years it had been fighting against the blatant anti-Marxist, anti-Stalinist line that the Khruschevites had been violently imposing on the CPSU and the entire International Communist Movement. Moreover, the PLA had been in continuous struggle on a number of fronts against the social-fascists' plots to bring down Socialist construction in Albania. How then could the PLA leadership endorse a declaration that included formulations on political developments that were diametrically opposed to its own knowledge and experience?
For example, the declaration asserted that, “The chief distinguishing feature of our time is that the world socialist system is becoming the decisive factor in the development of human society,” and “Today the social and economic possibilities for a restoration of capitalism have been eliminated not only in the Soviet Union but in other socialist countries as well.” Such absurdities stood in sharp contrast to the reality of the time. The chief distinguishing feature of the time was counter-revolution, where indeed capitalist restoration in most of the Socialist countries was nearly complete. According to the reports and historiography of the PLA itself, these distortions were not questioned and not raised as issues at the conference.
We cannot account for this “loss of consciousness”- as Lenin would put it - apart from the fact that the PLA leadership had not at that point thoroughly grasped the nature of Khruschevite revisionism from the Stalinist perspective. That is, it did not see modern revisionism as “a gang of wreckers, diversionists, intelligence service agents, spies, assassins, a gang of sworn enemies of the working class, working in the pay of the intelligence services of foreign states”(4).
There were other serious problems with the declaration, including the evaluation that the national bourgeoisie in the colonial and dependent countries was revolutionary. This contradicted the position Stalin had clearly advanced at the 19th Party Congress of the CPSU concerning the disposition of the bourgeoisie as a social class force. It had become apparent from the international proletariat's experience in waging the struggle against fascism during World War II that the bourgeoisie had changed and was no longer capable of fighting for democracy and liberation. This meant that the previous thesis differentiating between the comprador and national bourgeoisie became invalid and had to be discarded. Stalin did not elaborate on the question. His statement was extremely brief. However, he did underscore that only the revolutionary proletariat and democratic masses could fight for democracy and liberation. Though brief and only generally supported in his statement, Stalin's new thesis certainly reflected a significant shift that had taken place in the class forces for revolution and has enormous ramifications for the theory and politics of the proletariat.
Hoxha led the PLA delegation at the 19th Congress, and in his memoirs With Stalin comments on hearing Stalin's statement. But he has little to say about its content. Indeed, it appears that the PLA could not have seriously taken this new thesis into account on the issue of democratic and anti-imperialist struggles, especially those of the neo-colonial peoples. Consequently, serious problems would later emerge in the PLA's analysis and position concerning these struggles, such as in the case of Iran. For instance, the PLA remained supportive of “revolutionary Iran ” long after the Iranian peoples' revolutionary struggle had been commandeered and violently suppressed by a section of the bourgeoisie, which was antagonistic to the Shah's regime and US imperialism but which was equally reactionary. This position caused confusion and unproductive splits on the issue in the International Marxist-Leninist Movement, insofar as, to our knowledge, the true reactionary nature of “revolutionary Iran ” was never exposed for what it was and still is. From our updated assessment of international developments, we have concluded that the Islamic regime was installed by the Western-European imperialists who were in contention with the US and Britain over spheres of influence in the country.
More examples could be cited where the Albanian Party's policies were off the mark on the national liberation struggle because they stemmed from the outdated theses that the national bourgeoisie was still a force to oppose and weaken imperialism. Its support for the Argentinean fascist regime in the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) war with the British imperialists also reflects this problem. That the Argentinean junta simply staged this conflict to rally flagging support for itself among the democratic masses or that it was simply being used as a tool in an inter-imperialist rivalry were apparently not considerations of the PLA leadership.
It would be a serious mistake, however, to conclude that because of these and other weaknesses, the PLA itself was revisionist as pseudo-Marxist-Leninist agencies have done. During the tenure of Hoxha , this Party represented the strongest expression of the revolutionary proletariat's resistance to world imperialism and the fascist counter-offensive. To be sure it wasn't the only Party that resisted, but because it was a Party in power and because it disseminated the most propaganda world-wide exposing the Khruschevites as well as the Titoites , conditions became far more favorable for building a new International Marxist-Leninist Movement than they would have if the PLA had succumbed to the counter-revolution. Our purpose is not to criticize the history of the PLA but to learn from it. All Marxist-Leninists have this responsibility. Unfortunately, few are doing so nowadays either here or abroad. The experience and the history of the PLA and Socialist construction in Albania have apparently become “non-issues,” perhaps because of disappointment of their collapse and the ensuing demoralization that permeates the international movement. However, the PLA and the PSRA too fell victim to imperialist encirclement and social-fascist internal aggression. “Revisionism” in the form of Alia's rightist line was instrumental in disorienting the Party and people, softening up the country for the counter-revolution that the imperialists had repeatedly attempted during Hoxha's tenure.
It is crucial that the vanguard forces gain a more thoroughgoing materialist understanding of revisionism. And this, we think, can only be achieved by mastering the Stalinist orientation on the issue. For us, it is a vital block in strengthening the theoretical foundations in developing the Scientific Socialist trend that will better enable all revolutionaries to defend themselves against the attacks of the class enemies, no matter what mask they wear or script they follow. In fact, it is the weapon that they must use to truly carry the struggle against revisionism through to the end.
We plan to post an updated piece on the struggle against revisionism in the near future to renew focus on this major issue.
But we would like to return to the second question: Is our analysis correct? Should we take Stalin at his word that the capitalist class (or in this case a particular section of it) can no longer be relied upon as a force in the struggles for democracy and liberation? If this is true, then we should discard the thesis that the bourgeoisie is divided into a progressive and a reactionary section when formulating Marxist-Leninist strategy and tactics, for it will only lead the working class into wrong alliances and counter-revolutionary lines of march.
One way to approach this question is to review how the bourgeoisie has behaved since Stalin's pronouncement. Have there been democratic and liberation movements in the neo-colonies led by the "national bourgeoisie" that have set themselves against imperialist domination, and as result weakened world imperialism?
Recently, some Marxist-Leninists have characterized Cesar Chavez as a representative of the "national bourgeoisie" in Venezuela - a section of the capitalist class that has an interest in advancing the democratic process in the country and achieving independence from US imperialism. Is this true? Questions should be raised. Chavez has certainly made strident remarks and speeches against US imperialism - historically the most oppressive imperialist power and hegemon in South America. He has also made moves both politically and economically that complement his anti-US imperialist views. But what about his stand towards other imperialist powers, such as France or China - two countries that Venezuela has been moving toward having closer economic and political ties with? These countries (perhaps not so coincidentally it should be noted) are rivals of Anglo-American imperialism on a world scale. Does strengthening economic and political ties with some imperialist powers while curtailing or severing ties with others weaken world imperialism or just one bloc of world imperialism?
Marxist-Leninists should think about these and other questions that the above discussion may have raised because today it is essential for the vanguard forces to review and analyze experience, summing it up to the level of theory in order to facilitate organizing the working class on a revolutionary line of march against wage slavery, fascism and imperialism.
Stalin claimed himself to be - and rightfully so - a disciple of Lenin. And he most decidedly took the following words of his comrade to heart in developing Leninism until the end of his life:
In every class, even in the most enlightened countries, even in the case of the most advanced class, placed by the circumstances of the moment in a state of exceptional elevation of all spiritual forces, there always are - and as long as classes exist, as long as classless society has not fully entrenched and consolidated itself, and has not developed its own foundation, there inevitably will be - representatives of the class who do not think and are incapable of thinking. Were this not so, capitalism would not be oppressor of the masses it is(5).
Scientific Socialists will continue to learn from the contributions of Stalin and apply the theory he and the CPSU (B) developed to chart the revolutionary path forward for the American working class and people. This will require both thought and action. And we believe that this commitment is yet another appropriate way to commemorate the anniversary of his birth.
(1)See article “Neo-Fascism and the Fifth Column,” in particular the section entitled "Revisionism - Concrete" for fuller explanation of the Scientific Socialist line on revisionism.
(2)This is not to say that there are no genuine Leninist-Stalinist vanguard forces operating in Russia at present.
(3) In this report, Hoxha portrays revisionism and the revisionists in concrete terms viz., as connected to definite political entities. Earlier he laid greater emphasis on revisionism and the revisionists within an ideological framework. In Imperialism and the Revolution, for example, he analyzed that the main way American imperialism worked to overthrow Socialism after World War II was through "ideological aggression and subversion against the socialist states, the communist and workers' parties, and of efforts to bring about the bourgeois degeneration of these states and parties. In this direction, American imperialism and world capital as a whole employed powerful means of propaganda and ideological diversion." [Emphasis added]
(4)Stalin's Plenum Report of the Central Committee / March 3, 1937
(5)"Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder