“We in all countries who have taken on the task of rebuilding the international communist movement must see the defence of Stalin as a part of the defence of Marxism-Leninism.
There can be no greater compliment for anyone who aspires to be a Marxist-Leninist than to be called a Stalinist.” -Bill Bland
The realm of the socialist movement within the US has recently been undergoing a storm of debate, argument, counter-argument, change and disappointment. The 30th convention of the CPUSA saw an overflow of revisionist rhetoric, liberal class-collaborationism, so-called “anti-dogmatism”(aka, anti-Marxism) and the official rejection of Leninism. Indeed, there were comrades present who – the remaining revolutionary elements of the Party – fought for Leninism and true class struggle, against the Obama-supporting “left wing of the Democratic Party”, as I would like to call the predominantly reformist leadership of the Party. These comrades within the CPUSA who remain faithful to the tried and true theories of Lenin and who defend the revolutionary legacy of Joseph Stalin and the “Stalin-era” Soviet Union must be applauded and honored, for they are fighting the beast tooth and nail, in its own home. Though my personal opinion is that the CPUSA, being now a hornets-nest of revisionism and opportunism to its deepest core, is beyond any feasible repair, and that the creation of a new, militantly anti-revisionist revolutionary vanguard party should be established at the helm of the socialist proletarian movement, I still have the highest and most profound respect for the strong and fearless comrades currently combating Browderite revisionism from within the CPUSA itself.
In addition to its recent push even further into revisionism, it is common knowledge that the CPUSA has long been active in their own struggle to distance themselves and the name of Communism away from the figure of Joseph Stalin and the successful construction of socialism within the USSR beginning in 1928 and lasting until around 1956. Ever since Krushchevite revisionism betrayed the socialist movement the world over in the mid 1950’s, the CPUSA has followed this route away from socialism and towards liberalization and class-collaborationism. And in doing so, they have given up the battle of propaganda against the bourgeoisie media. They have ceased the fight to counter bourgeois-imperialist lies and falsifications of history. They have said, “We were wrong! The capitalists were telling the truth about the evils of socialism! We’re different from that; our form of socialism has not yet been achieved and can only be achieved by more cooperation and peaceful existence between the classes!”
Of course, the Krushchev-Browderite revisionists have not been the only ones “within the left” to attack Stalin and any form of socialism that has ever been achieved. Anarchists, council-communists, Trotskyites, etc., have all been shouting along with the bourgeoisie the lies regarding socialism and those socialist states which had the imperialists sleeping with one eye open each night. For decades the so-called “left” libertarians have been attacking any and all examples of working class victory. They have been denying socialism’s existence even when socialist states were granting freedom and democracy to the working people and relentlessly fighting capitalist-imperialist hostilities – hostilities which the “left” libertarians were all too eager to help along: the Black Army breaking with the Red Army at a crucial time during the Russian Civil War, the anarchists of Catalonia executing and imprisoning “authoritarian” socialists helping the fight against the Francoite fascists, George Orwell – a “libertarian socialist” – working for British intelligence and writing fictional propaganda pieces meant to demonize Soviet socialism when he had never stepped foot in the USSR and at a time when the Soviet Union was constructing a proletarian-controlled society, Trotsky helping the US and Mexican governments locate and track “Stalinists”. The imperialist governments the world over routinely use these “socialists'” criticisms of successful socialist societies against the revolutionary socialist movement.
Now, a small yet annoying new trend of anti-socialist revisionism is forming: people who call themselves “Marxists-Leninists” are denouncing Stalin and Soviet socialism, even more vigorously than other ultra-“left” trends. They deem true anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists “tankies” and even go so far as to publicly post personal information about the anti-revisionists who they particularly hate. They make this information available for any violent and/or fascistic anti-communist to see, and have even released the city, address and name of one of their target’s family member. Such vile acts are far beyond the anti-communist actions of most hardline conservatives. Calling themselves “Maoists”, they are the most despicable group of the revisionist camp and are its logical conclusion – vehemently anti-communist, comparably indifferent to capitalist oppression, and quite possibly dangerous to the well-being of certain individuals within the movement.
All three of these trends have this in common: ruthless condemnations of Stalin, and therefore, socialism as well. As said above, each of them caters to bourgeois propaganda, tries to appease capitalist hegemony rather than combat it. They each claim to be fighting on the side of socialism and the proletariat, but agree with the bourgeois picture of socialism as it has existed. Indeed, they aided in painting this portrait of “communist atrocities” and the “tyranny of socialism”. They cover their tracks, so to speak, by posturing themselves as “anti-capitalists” who want to create a “different” kind of socialism, separating themselves from the rich legacies of socialist leaders and proletarian victories. They believe the bourgeoisie correct in its condemnations of real-world socialism, and advocate some kind of “never existing socialism”.
A favorite excuse for the right-wing side of revisionism in separating from the examples of Soviet socialism and the figure of Stalin is that mentioning Stalin’s name would “drive the people away” from supporting their own class interests in the form of socialism. The ultra-“leftists”(who are “leftists” only in words) also believe this. They all believe this to be a logical approach to garnering the people’s support.
There are two very big flaws to this tactic:
1) The bourgeoisie and its media opposes socialism, not simply Stalin. Neglecting to associate with Stalin’s actions and his application of Marxism-Leninism does nothing whatsoever to lessen the bourgeoisie’s relentless slandering of communism and proletarian revolution. It does nothing to defeat the ruling ideas of communism in this society, for, as Marx says, the ruling ideas of a society are always the ideas of the ruling class, and the present ruling class(the capitalists) will always oppose the interests of the proletariat. There will never be a day when the dominant ideology of a capitalist society is proletarian socialism, so this populism is simply a liberal dream. It is delusional to believe that in such a discourse, the bourgeois intelligentsia will at some point suddenly say, “Well, I always thought socialism was about Stalin, but since you’ve convinced me of Stalin’s non-socialistic character, proletarian revolution is a-okay!”
As long as the bourgeoisie holds power, we cannot expect to somehow move around its ideological hegemony or evade its anti-revolutionary attacks. We must face it all head-on and expose it as a lie of the exploiting masters.
2) The naive dream of the ultra-“lefts” of creating a communist society without revolutionary theory is a problem in and of itself. But part of this is their strategy of repeating the same bullshit we hear every day from the bourgeoisie, except they say their “socialism”(of which they can give no concrete examples or in-depth explanation – planning and theorizing are for “authoritarians”) is “nicer” than the forms of socialism(what they call “state-capitalism”) which actually succeeded. This does nothing but aid two bourgeois anti-socialist pieces of propaganda: the notion that socialism is “illogical” and “impossible”, and the notion that socialism, when attempted, is “despotic” and “totalitarian”. Again, it does nothing in the fight against bourgeois power.
When taking into account these implications, it should be easy to see that the anti-Stalin, “socialism wasn’t socialism but let’s try again!” isn’t a pro-worker, revolutionary stance, but, at best, useless. However, uselessness isn’t this line of thought’s most dominant characteristic. It’s primary outcome is the helping of the bourgeoisie in its attacks against socialist ideology.
When the Soviet records were finally released over the past two decades, and the truth was revealed to all who wished to learn, socialists of every stripe should have rejoiced, for now it could be proven that socialism as the bourgeoisie taught it was not at all tyrannical or oppressive towards the working people, but was indeed a true worker’s state until 1956. They should have cherished the fact that it had no longer become “necessary” for them to distance themselves from Stalin and Soviet socialism, that they could now point to an example of true, real socialist victory and proletarian liberation, and that they could prove to the world that not only did socialism free the working people from the dictatorship of capital in the past, but it worked. And it worked so profoundly well so as to advance beyond the level of every capitalist power of its day, to succeed in the quickest modernizations known to humankind, to provide for every citizen every necessity required to live comfortably, while the capitalist countries let its own citizens rot in misery, poverty, starvation and homelessness.
But no, even after the proof of Marxism-Leninism’s victory and accomplishments was made readily available, the revisionists and anarchists and anti-Stalinists continue to preach a history identical to that of the bourgeois media. They continue to slander socialism and its victories, while pretending that they are not the ones promoting sectarianism within the socialist movement. No, no, no – they are “opposing sectarianism” by slandering the world’s greatest examples of people’s victory. They are “opposing sectarianism” by condemning the “authoritarian” movements all over the globe – you know, the Naxalites carrying out a revolution in India, the Communist Party of the Philippines militantly fighting US imperialism in their homeland, the government of North Korea defending itself against a half-century long occupation, Borotba of Ukraine fighting, bleeding and dying on the front lines in the fight against Banderite fascism. Yes, all of these organized forces of revolution are “wrong” in the eyes of the anti-Stalinists, just as they are “wrong” in the eyes of the imperial bourgeoisie. How convenient.
Because of the anti-Stalinist’s and bourgeoisie’s shared hostility towards “authoritarian(i.e. successful, accomplished, working) socialism”, it is no wonder that bourgeois propaganda never speaks of the “Anarchist Menace”, the “Council Communist Threat”, the “Browderite Terror”. Because none of these trends are legitimate threats to bourgeois power, and the bourgeoisie knows it. Even the capitalist class has learned from history, in that they know that the only true menace to their rulership is Marxism-Leninism, and that the deviationist anti-Stalin “socialist” trends are doomed to implosion, disorganization, ideological weakness, and total stagnation. After all, the Red Army fighting for “authoritarian” socialism drove off fourteen foreign imperialist invasions after the October Revolution, but the anarchists couldn’t defend a single city(Catalonia) from outside forces.
In the end, the anti-Stalin “left” is more focused on attempting to discredit socialism than building it. It is theoretically lifeless and a convenient force of factionalism for bourgeois interests. It lacks any form of solidarity and organization. It is “socialist” in appearance, and bourgeois in practice.