Do not take my polemics with Alan Woods for a learned discussion of the Russian Revolution; the argument is not about Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin (let their souls rest in peace in the bosom of Marx in the Communist paradise) but about extremely relevant issues of our day, though presented in historical perspective.
Woods draws a full picture of the sort of communism he subscribes to, and wishes you to adopt it. It rests upon three whales, as did the world in ancient cosmography.
Whale No. 1. No to Socialism in One Country.
These words are mentioned by Celia Hart, and they are extremely dear to Woods. He repeats them many times, for instance: At the heart of the ideology of Stalinism is the so-called theory of socialism in one country. The anti-Marxist theory of “socialism in one country”, first expounded by Stalin in the autumn of 1924, went against everything the Bolsheviks and the Communist International, had preached. Such a notion could never have been countenanced by Marx or Lenin.
Let us disengage ourselves from the Talmudic discussion about what exactly was said by Marx, Lenin or Stalin. This thesis of Woods means that in no country should Communists attempt to take over power; because if they will, it will be socialism in one country. Communists a-la Woods would peacefully wait until the world bourgeoisie surrenders its power on the planetary scale. If Woods were on the place of Joseph Stalin he would quietly return Russia to the Tsar or to Kerensky, in order to avoid this abomination of socialism in one country.
Woods ascribes this view to Lenin: Lenin knew very well that unless the proletarian revolution triumphed in Western Europe, especially in Germany, the October Revolution would ultimately be doomed How was it possible to construct a national socialism in a single country, let alone an extremely backward country like Russia? In Woods’ view, this means that after defeat of revolution of Germany in 1920, the Russian communists were to crawl back underground.
Such positions of Trots turns them into dear friends of the Western imperialism, for in their view, the nations of the world should endure their regimes until the Second Coming, i.e. the world revolution. Real Communists branded as Stalinists in Trots vocabulary were and are for revolution, a takeover of power and socialism everywhere now! Mao and Lenin, Castro and Ho Chi Minh did not shy away from power, they did not say: Oh no, we wont seize power, our countries are too backward, we shall wait for the world revolution; for they felt responsibility and love for their countries — for China and Russia, for Cuba and Vietnam.
Whale No. 2. No to Patriotism.
Woods stresses: Nationalism and Marxism are incompatible; or Lenins hatred of Russian nationalism was so great that for some time after the October revolution the word Russia disappeared from all Soviet official documents.
Patriotism, love of ones country, is a great force; this force should be fully utilised in our struggle against the enemy. Communism a-la Woods positions itself for globalisation; love for ones country, this proud Patria o Muerte is anathema for a Trot. A Woods Communist should dislike or ignore his country and his people, should wish to have its very name erased; and should never attempt to bring his compatriots together to fight a foreign invasion or imperialist takeover. Woods disagrees with Zyuganovs characterization of Russia today as a colony, oppressed by foreign capitalists as this analysis leaves the door wide open to a policy of collaborating with the progressive national (Russian) bourgeoisie against the bad foreign capitalists.
Comrade Woods, Western capitalists are indeed bad for the health of Russians and other non-First-world nations. And real Communists Stalinists to you were for collaboration with national non-comprador bourgeoisie against Western imperialism. So did Mao when he collaborated with Kuomintang against Japanese, Stalin while fighting the Germans, Castro when he united Cubans against Yanksand Palestinian communists when they united with Fatah in their struggle against Zionist Jews. Real communists seek to create a broad coalition with nationalist forces in order to regain power in Russia, too.
Now in Iraq, the US occupation forces effectively opened the Iraqi economy for a Western takeover by granting equal access rights to the foreign companies. This act brings Iraqi nationalist forces into greater conflict with the imperialists. Objectively, Woods is on the side of Western TNC, as he precludes nationalist defence of people. Communists a-la Woods wont cooperate with Iraqi nationalists against American imperialism, for nationalism is their main enemy.
This discussion of nationalism is not a new one. Marx and Lenin stated that communists should support nationalism of the oppressed nations and fight nationalism of the oppressors. However, the New World Order introduced a new keynote in the old discourse, for even the nations of the First World of North America and Western Europe are being undermined by the new policies of their masters.
For instance, Sweden, an extremely developed West European nation, now loses its industry: the famous SAAB car plants were bought by the TNC, closed down and the production moved into more profitable areas. Tens of thousands of skilled workers lost their jobs, while thousands of local owners were proletarianised. The same process takes place in the US, where industries migrate south, while their profits migrate to the Eastern Seaboard. Workers and small owners may now create a new nationalist coalition against their new trans-national masters.
In the US, there are nationalist forces – from Patrick Buchanan to Gore Vidal to Justin Raimondo – who object to world-wide plans of trans-national imperialism. Real communists Stalinists for Woods would cooperate, interact, influence these forces in the struggle against common enemy. Communists a-la Woods would preserve their virginal and doctrinal purity; for them, the fight against nationalism is more important than fight against imperialism.
In Europe, local nationalist forces stand up against the American onslaught in culture and economics; here again, real Communists will interact with the anti-globalisation movement, while Woods would fight local nationalism and objectively support TNK.
3. Whale No. 3 Alliance with Jewish nationalism.
Despite his anti-nationalism, there is a sort of nationalism acceptable to Woods, namely, trans-national Jewish quasi-nationalism. A Woods communist would fight every nationalism save the Jewish one. For him, Stalin was bad, for he tolerated and utilised Russian nationalism and fought against Jewish nationalism.
He states: The Bolshevik Party had always fought against anti-Semitism. True; but this is only half of truth. The second half missed by Woods is that the Bolshevik Party under Lenin and Stalin had always fought against Jewish nationalism.
As every Jewish nationalist, Woods repeats the mantra of Stalins anti-Semitism. He writes: One of the most repulsive features of Stalinism was its anti-Semitism. Does Woods mean that Stalin adhered to a racial theory of Semitic and Nordic races? Unlikely; this son of Georgia was not particularly Nordic. Does he mean that Jews were persecuted as racial group under Stalin? Obviously not, for Stalins daughter was married to a Jew; some of his best comrades and party leaders had Jewish wives (Molotov to Voroshilov) – or Jewish sons and daughters-in-law (Malenkov, Khrushchev). So much for racism. Were Jews discriminated against under Stalin? In 1936, at the pinnacle of Stalins power, his government included nine Jews, among them Foreign Minister Litvinov, Home (secret services) Minister Yahoda, the foreign trade minister etc. Did Stalin ever expressed hatred or even acute dislike of Jews? No; he actually declared that every anti-Semite would be shot.
However, Stalin was an enemy of Jewish nationalism. When some prominent Soviet Jews planned to create a Jewish state in Crimea after the expulsion of Crimean Tatars, Stalin put paid to their plans. When some Jews tried to ally with Zionism, he did not tolerate it. He attempted to check Jewish over-representation in the power structures, as Jews were overrepresented in the Party, the Government and Secret Services of the Soviet state and constituted over 50% of Cheka-GPU-NKVD top echelon.
This is what Woods calls Stalins anti-Semitism. [He is aware of problem of over- and under-representation as long as it concerns Russians, for he writes:
The drive to russify the non-Russian peoples is shown by the composition of the leading bodies of the "Communist" Parties of the Republics. In 1952, only about half of all leading officials in the Central Asian and Baltic Republics were of local nationality. Elsewhere, the proportion was even lower. For example, in the Moldavian Party only 24.7 per cent were Moldavians, while only 38 per cent of recruits to the Tajik Party in 1948 were said to be Tajik.
Woods opens a dangerous (for him) route of discourse. How many leading officials in the Trotskyite parties in the US and Europe were, and are, of local nationality? Using Woods logic, a high proportion of Jews indicates their drive to judaise. Or this argument can be used only against the Russians?]
Stalin wanted to have Jews serving the Soviet state; but he did not want the Soviet state to serve a Jewish agenda. As a result, Jews retained some of their privileges, but their exalted position went down a notch or two, and a good thing: the party and the government were opened to people of local nationality.
The saga of Woods is a timely reminder of present-day Western Trotskyisms sorry state. The Western Trots keep themselves at arms length from other comrades; sabotage local revolution in the name of world revolution; they are anti-patriotic, anti-nationalist, unable to attract masses, often connected to Jewish nationalist circles. Their slogans are attuned exclusively to minorities; they think of gays and immigrants, Jews and single parents; but the majority is of no interest for them. This explicit and obsessive attraction to minorities is a non-communist, even anticommunist trend. Communism is for majority against minority; for dispossessing minority in the name of majority.
In a way, Communism is Christianity mutilated by Occams Razor. St Paul dispossessed the Jews and gave their spiritual treasure to the majority, to the whole mankind. Marx dispossessed the capitalists and gave their material treasure to the majority.
Preoccupation with minorities is, therefore a sign of anticommunists. Trots, indeed, provide imperialists with support from the left. Woods speaks disparagingly of five-hundred-thousand-strong Russian Communist Party; I doubt whether his organisation has even five hundred members.
In short, the advice of Woods is as good for the communists as the advice of the New York Times: it leads into isolation, sectarianism and political suicide. Celia Hart will do the right thing if she rejects his suit: friends of Cuba are real communists who are ready to act in real conditions, to interact with real partners, warts and all, and fight real enemies. Woods and other Western Trots will always find a good and moral reason to be against Cuba in critical moment: if not for its human rights record, then for the unashamed masculinity of its leader or for its production of cigars.
Cuba, Stalin and Trotsky
(Israel Shamir replies to Celia Hart whose essay “Socialism in one country” and the Cuban Revolution appeared in TRICONTINENTAL MAGAZINE http://www.walterlippmann.com/celia-hart.html as A contribution from Cuba, by Celia Hart on
May 10, 2004)
I applaud your beautiful essay and share your faith in vitality of Cuban revolution. However your anti-Stalinist fervour seems to be out of place, a remnant of Khrushchevs de-Stalinisation. ‘Stalinist’ is a Trotskyite slang for a Communist, the word they use to curry favour in the eyes of anti-Communists. Even if you like Leon Trotsky you do not have to be against Joseph Stalin. Years and decades passed by, and we should be able to accept the adversaries of yesteryear, like Marx and Proudhon, or Stalin and Trotsky.
Much of what you say is built on misunderstanding. You wrote about internationalism, but all your examples are taken from the inter-Latin scene. There is mutual help of Cubans, Dominicans, Argentines, even Angolans or Spaniards – but all of them belong to one Iberian civilisation. It is a sort of internationalism, but I doubt the nations mentioned are really all that different from each other in their traditions. All of them are Catholic, Iberian (Castilian, Gallego, other Spanish or Portuguese) by language and united by blood and history.
Joseph Stalin ruled a country which is a civilisation by itself; a vast continent with many nations and languages; whose interrelations with Western Europe were, at best, troublesome. He was an internationalist, too, and Russians under Stalin supported the Spanish Republic and the Red Army of Mao. But he was a Russian internationalist, and his first duty was to the people of the USSR. Leon Trotsky did not understand the continuity of Russian history. He was involved in terrible persecution of the Church, in robbery and destruction of churches. He was involved in mass executions of peasants and workers, of officers and of intelligentsia. He lost the war with Poland and failed to make peace with Germany. He alienated Russian intellectuals and working people. In his drive for permanent revolution he did not pay enough attention to Russia; it was his undoing.
Joseph Stalin made the Soviet Union a strong modern state, ensured full employment, rights of workers, free education and health care. He created the industrial base and advanced science. He fought and won the hardest of wars Russia ever experienced. Under his rule, Socialist Russia survived endless assaults of the American imperialism. He kept down pro-Western and pro-Capitalist forces in the country.
Now the people of Russia look back at Stalin’s days – no, not with nostalgia, but with understanding that it was heroic period of their fathers’ life.
All Communist forces in Russia and in Europe are being described as ‘Stalinist’ if they do not accept Pax Americana. The Trotskyites in Russia are pro-Western and pro-American force, even more anti-Russian than Leon Trotsky was. The same is true about many (though not all) Trot groups in Europe.
By all means, be interested in Trotsky’s legacy, but do not be dismissive about real Soviet Communism, the one that helped Cuba and the one you call now ‘Stalinism’.
2. This letter of mine was forwarded by a Trot, Roland Garret on a left-oriented Spanish list with following intro by Garret:
From: [email protected]…
The is a letter from a Stalinist, who still believes in Stalin. Who does not understand or refuses to acknowledge the horror of Stalin and Stalinism. When he talks of the Spanish Republic, he forgets that the lack of Soviet aid in Spain allowed imperialism to feel secure from revolution. To start WWII, or to finish WWI, which was stopped by the 1917 Revolution.
The Bolsheviks never supported capitalist wars. Stalin did.
3. My response to Garret:
Roland Garret, Stalin for me is an important historical figure, not a substitute of God; for God does not need any substitutes. A person who respects, say, Churchill’s or Jose Marti’s contribution to mankind does not have to ‘believe’ in them. ‘Stalinists’ do not exist – it is just a Trot-made label to be attached on a Communist. Equally, ‘Horrors of Stalin and Stalinism’ is but a classic cliché of anti-Communists. In connection to Cuba, people you describe as ‘Stalinists’ are great supporters of Cuba, while people who speak of ‘Stalin’s horrors’ usually are enemies of Cuba.
As for historical question whether Russian help to the Spanish republic was sufficient: Russia lacked means of delivery and could not do much more. Do not forget that the Red Army took severe beating from Poland in 1920 and from Finland in 1940. It is also possible that real and justified fear of a western crusade against Soviet Russia also placed some limits to Russian aid. Russians did not feel their country is just ‘a match to lit the bonfire of world revolution’ and did not want (and could not) export revolution beyond the borders of their civilisation. The Russian Communists were not some Red equivalent of neo-cons keen to expand their ideological domination: they were ready to help, but did not wish to impose their will. Trots, on the other hand, were extremely aggressive, like the neo-cons, and were willing to disregard all consequences of their rash actions.
With comradely regards