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Thread: The Legacy of Stalin and Stalin's U.S.S.R

  1. #106
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    Default Re: The Legacy of Stalin and Stalin's U.S.S.R

    Quote Originally Posted by Jolly Red Giant View Post
    The Red Army had defeated most of the White forces when it was written. Lenin was not talking about the dangers from the White Army, but that the Whites had hoped for a split during the civil war.
    Lenin used it as an analogy in his 'testament" writings. I know what he was talking about - he was saying that the Whites had tried to split that party in order to threaten the existence of Soviet Russia. Lenin using this to illustrate that a split would be an existential threat to the Party and to Soviet Russia.
    And what evidence do you have that the CC would be 'flooded with scores of new untested people'?
    Lenin's writings -

    In my opinion, the workers admitted to the Central Committee should come preferably not form among those who have had long service in Soviet bodies (in this part of my letter the term workers everywhere includes peasants), because those workers have already acquired the very traditions and the very prejudices which it is desirable to combat.

    The working-class members of the C.C. must be mainly workers of a lower stratum than those promoted in the last five years to work in Soviet bodies; they must be people closer to being rank-and-file workers and peasants, who, however, do not fall into the category of direct or indirect exploiters.
    He wished to get this fresh blood onto the CC to overcome the "traditions and prejudices" of the established core to stabilise it to prevent split . It is possible it may have worked, but was a pretty desperate measure.
    Was it done, by the way ?

    The CP had led the October Revolution, defeated Tsarism, begun the process of socialist construction and fought the civil war - there were large numbers of Bolsheviks that were well tried and tested by events.
    Yes, but Lenin was plainly looking for new, inexperienced workers who would be trained into the role.
    It was not subject to class pressures - a bureaucracy by its nature is conservative - the bureaucracy were focussed on maintaining their position in society and they power base they developed. They were now a social class and were not developing as a social class. The social classes that did develop out of the NEP were the Kulaks and the NEPmen and the Stalinists leant on both these elements in the political struggle. With the Left Opposition arguning for collectivisation, the Stalinists were able to rally the two social elements that had an economic interest in the maintenance of the NEP and in opposing collectivisation.
    Everyone is subjected to class pressures - we live in class society. They were not a social class - their relationship to the means of production was not capitalist: they were just a caste of bureaucrats in an advantageous position due to their position of power over and control over the state's limited resources. The Party was aware of this problem from early days and repeatedly tried different measures to overcome it.
    Lenin was writing about the tensions that were developing as a result of the social pressures on the CP and the political, social and economic developments that were taking place.
    He was writing about his fears of a split in the Party. He devoted pages of dictation to it at the end of his life, clearly seeing it as an imminent threat and one that should be avoided.
    Our Party relies on two classes and therefore its instability would be possible and its downfall inevitable if there were no agreement between those two classes. In that event this or that measure, and generally all talk about the stability of our C.C., would be futile. No measure of any kind could prevent a split in such a case. But I hope that this is too remote a future and too improbable an event to talk about.

    I have in mind stability as a guarantee against a split in the immediate future
    Actually its two 'ifs'

    1. If the Left Opposition had won the split might not have taken place
    2. If the Kamanev and Zinoviev wings had backed the Left Opposition then the Stalinists could have been defeated.
    Neither did happen. The Left Opposition did not come close to winning majority support.
    There was no agreement then between Kamenev and Zinoviev and the Left Opposition. There were several factions with different stand points.

    Who said anyhting about 'Trotsky good - Stalin bad' - that it the usual nonsense you see in debates like this. Both were representatives of two different political outlooks - it had nothing to do with 'good' or 'bad'.
    There has been quite a bit of reference to manners and personal characteristics in this discussion. Lenin himself mentioned them.

    Yes the split was damaging - but it is nonsense to suggest that 'both' did a 'disservice'.
    A counter-view of the Trotsky good / Stalin bad or opposite meme is that both did a disservice to the Party by not succeeding to hold it together.
    I have no doubt there were failures on both sides - but ultimately it seems highly probable to me that the split was unavoidable. There was one road which involved minimising risk and trying to protect the gains of 1917 defensively, and the other which involved pushing on and trying to extend the world revolution as the means of defending - and extending -1917. But with these two things organisationally severed, the dialectic of this - which needed to be fought out inside the party in the light of unfolding events - was hobbled, and successive damaging decisions and wrong judgements made: many opportunities lost. And the Left Opposition was severed physically from the Russian working class that had made the revolution.
    The victory of the Stalinists inevitably meant a purge of the Left Opposition elements. The Stalinists could not afford a political opposition to their power. Indeed Stalin prepared the basis for the split well before the 1924 Congress when he got the CC to pass a resolution declaring the explusion of factions opposed to the leadership.
    Very likely - and Lenin pointed out that he considered Stalin a risk, in terms of splitting the Party.

    Furthermore - political unity is not base on 'holding' things together.
    Its a unity of opposites in conflict: it's necessary to "hold fast the opposites" for the new to emerge (try this - EDIT - Changed link from James to Lenin -Try this instead ) https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...ic/summary.htm )

    . That is not to say that splits are always wrong (although many are the result of sabotage) but that premature splits are deadly.

    Political unity is only possible when there is agreement on at least a basic programme and an agreement on how to treat political differences (this is similar to the nonsense being spouted on the Jack O'Connor thread about the SP placing itself 'outside' the 'left alternative' that includes SF and the LP). A split following a victory by the Left Opposition was unlikely precisely because the bureaucracy did not have a political base in society - it had a political base in the CP and the state apparatus. A purge would likely have taken place following a Left Opposition victory - but it would have been a purge of the bureacucracy - not a purge of political opponents. Indeed there were many factions within the CP at the time, from the Left Opposition to the Kamanev and zinoviev factions to what became the Right Opposition around Bukharin.
    To talk about a purge of bureaucracy you would have to explain how the country could be run without an adminstration and to explain it in concrete and practical terms. If it was as simple as "sack em all" then that is what Lenin would have called for. He did not (although he did call in some cases for wage cuts). The programmatic and organisational differences were coming about because of the unstable class base on which the party rested, as well as wider opposing ideological pressures.

    I can't respond to your mention of the O'Connor thread as I don't know what statement you are replying to.

    I disagree - the problem is not that there is opposing sides - it is that there is an absolute Everest of issues and documents and evidence for this period. I am first and foremost a historian - I take historical evidence, interpret it and form an opinion. while I do not and haven't carried out any kind of detailed research on this period in Russia I have read a significant amount of stuff and have a general knowledge. I do not and never have any fixed views on this (or any other historical issue) and if anyone presents concrete evidence on any issue I will review it, if it is plausable I will evaluate it and, if necessary adapt my interpretations to take it into account. I do approach all historial questions from a Marxist perspective and I do come from the Trotskyist tradition and I make no apologies for that - but that does not mean that I accept everything that anyone writes on blind faith.
    Then this should be an interesting thread.
    Last edited by C. Flower; 08-03-2015 at 06:58 PM.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
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  2. #107
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    Default Re: The Legacy of Stalin and Stalin's U.S.S.R

    Quote Originally Posted by Jolly Red Giant View Post
    Kotkin's argument is based almost exclusively on Sakharov's article and Sakharov's article is an pro-Stalinist / anti-Trotskyist rant.


    This is interesting - you claim Trotsky lies about an 'alliance' with Lenin to oppose Stalin because there is no confirmation of this 'alliance' from other sources - this demonstrates your bias. There are countless assertions made by historians that are based on a single piece of evidence - to call a participant in events a 'liar' because there is no separate confirming evidence demonstrates a clear bias on your part. Historiography is not a court of law where the evidence of historical events is not proved 'beyond all reasonable doubt' is excluded - historiography is based on an analysis of the available evidence, an interpretation of this evidence and the expression of an opinion based on this evidence. So you can take what Trotsky said with 'an enormous pinch of salt' but in doing so you are not adopting the approach of historical analysis.

    But that is an aside - irrespective of whether an alliance was formed between Lenin and Trotsky to remove Stalin - Trotsky comprehensively deals with the claims that the last testament (or at least the elements critical of Stalin) was a fake.


    The Left Opposition was defeated - the reason for the defeat is a different matter.


    This is interesting - for two reasons 1. Trotsky openly accepted that he was wrong not to support the Bolsehviks in the 1903 split - and 2. in 1917 Stalin actually argued that the Bolsheviks support the Mensheviks including arguing for support for a continuation of Russian involvement in the imperialist war.

    Trotsky's criticism of 'What is to be Done?' was based on Lenin's assertion that the working class, left to its own devices, was only capable of developing a 'trade union consciousness' - not a revolutionary consciousness. It was this assertion that Lenin repudiated. The interesting point about this is that the Stalinists later went back to the assertion by Lenin in What is to be Done? in order to attack the Left Opposition, while ignoring the fact that Lenin had reputidated his previously held position. What must also be kept in mind is that fact that the split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in 1903 was not clear cut - it was fluid with ebbs and flows in the process that was underway. Many on the left attempted to reconcile the factions and vacillated between them (and included in this is some - not particularly strong - evidence that Stalin was a Menshevik). In reality it was only Lenin, among the leading elements, that was (correctly) dogmatic in his opposition to the Mensheviks.
    I don't have Kotkin to hand, but my memory was he was referring to a book, and reading the link that CFlower provided, Kotkin's argument and that article are pretty different, with Kotkin's version being fuller, using more evidence.

    Kotkin claimed Trotsky was lying about that issue, and provided other evidence (there was also an article a few years ago demonstrating that Trotsky lied about Lenin's funeral). So there is a pattern there. He makes a convincing case. As for the idea that taking Trotsky's claims with a huge pinch of salt is bad historical method. I find that staggering. What happened the idea of approaching sources critically?

    Again, Trotsky cannot have dealt with claims made decades later based on different evidence.

    Lenin did not repudiate the idea that only trade consciousness was possible to develop spontaneously. He repudiated some of the language he used but not that argument. Again, Lih demonstrates clearly that the argument that socialism required the adoption of ideas developed by bourgeois intellectuals by workers was widely accepted by Marxists at the time.

    It's entirely clear that Stalin was never a Menshevik, and that Lenin praised his response to What is to Be Done?. Lenin certainly thought he was right.

  3. #108
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    Default Re: The Legacy of Stalin and Stalin's U.S.S.R

    Quote Originally Posted by Garibaldy View Post
    .
    Some consideration was given to splitting the technical discussion on alleged forgery to a separate thread, as in order for anyone to be persuaded either way, some substantial or detailed discussion is needed. There is no point in making assertions unless backed up by the actual evidence. Please do start a thread on it, if you would like to explore it properly. It is relevant to this thread, but could easily derail the whole discussion if it goes, as it threatens to, around in circles.

    This is a thread on Stalin - while not wanting to be over-restrictive, it would be good to address the topic directly.

    Marxism was a set of "ideas developed by bourgeois intellectuals" - drawing comprehensively on scientific and historic knowledge as well as from the experience of the working class.

    Do you have a link to the "What is to be Done" comment on Stalin by Lenin ? The issue of "What is to be Done", was the building of the party, and what theory should guide it. I read once that it was read aloud and discussed by workers in every factory in Moscow in the years before the Revolution. Do you think it particularly guided Stalin's actions ?
    Last edited by C. Flower; 08-03-2015 at 07:23 PM.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

  4. #109
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    Default Re: The Legacy of Stalin and Stalin's U.S.S.R

    Have been reading back over this thread and a few thoughts have come to mind.

    Firstly on the kulaks and the assertion earlier in the thread that the implementation of socialism will inevitably result in conflict and death:

    I believe this to be true, when have those in positions of power or wealth ever given same up freely? We need only to look to Greece in recent days to see how the will of the people and peaceful supplications and pleadings fall on deaf ears and are met with scorn and cruelty. Indeed in Ireland the past eight years or so have been devoted to saving the position of the privileged by making the majority pick up the tab for their excesses - now they are reaping profits once more while we are expected to be grateful for the "recovery" and an occasional scrap from their table, (That extra 50 cent will surely save the day) while we still pay the price for their actions.

    It is naive, in the face of such clear demonstrations of the ruthlessness and determination of those who seek to preserve the status quo, to believe that they would meekly accept a radical realignment of society. There are those no doubt who will say that if violence is an inevitable part of implementing socialism then it is not worth pursuing at all - this is to ignore the fact that the very foundation of capitalism is violence and oppression.

    While, due to globalization, we may no longer have millions starving to death in mud cabins - ready made graves - in this country, look elsewhere and similar is to be found, hunger and suffering. If violence is the very basis on which something exists and is sustained, is it not naive to expect to destroy it without having to fight?

    Another thought which comes to mind is that if there is to be a great restructuring of society some of the materialistic things which many people seek to accumulate - fancy clothes, i-phones, electronics - will no longer be as available. This will be the case if the sweat shops are shut down and the miners and workers who gather and sculpt the materials required for electronics are paid a fair wage, or their labour is directed towards more socially essential tasks.

    I suppose the question to ask is if socialists really have the bottle for the whole thing? Or will they stick to social democracy and repeat the same mistakes again and again, pretending to be surprised when it inevitably ends in failure? (Or a pension?) At least they'd still have their i-phones, and as Sam might say, Trotsky (I kid)

  5. #110
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    Default Re: The Legacy of Stalin and Stalin's U.S.S.R

    Quote Originally Posted by Saoirse go Deo View Post
    Have been reading back over this thread and a few thoughts have come to mind.

    Firstly on the kulaks and the assertion earlier in the thread that the implementation of socialism will inevitably result in conflict and death:

    I believe this to be true, when have those in positions of power or wealth ever given same up freely? We need only to look to Greece in recent days to see how the will of the people and peaceful supplications and pleadings fall on deaf ears and are met with scorn and cruelty. Indeed in Ireland the past eight years or so have been devoted to saving the position of the privileged by making the majority pick up the tab for their excesses - now they are reaping profits once more while we are expected to be grateful for the "recovery" and an occasional scrap from their table, (That extra 50 cent will surely save the day) while we still pay the price for their actions.

    It is naive, in the face of such clear demonstrations of the ruthlessness and determination of those who seek to preserve the status quo, to believe that they would meekly accept a radical realignment of society. There are those no doubt who will say that violence is an inevitable part of implementing socialism then it is not worth pursuing at all - this is to ignore the fact that the very foundation of capitalism is violence and oppression.
    Looking at history, the Bolsheviks slogan was Bread Peace and Land. Bringing the industrialised slaughter of WW1 to an end was central to the revolution. They then had to fight tooth and nail to hold on to their gains, against the Whites and their international backers. As with other revolts and revolutions, there was little violence initially, but civil war followed as the different class interests were fought out in the new situation. Self-defence in my book is no offence.

    While, due to globalization, we may no longer have millions starving to death in mud cabins - ready made graves - in this country, look elsewhere and similar is to be found, hunger and suffering. If violence is the very basis on which something exists and is sustained, is it not naive to expect to destroy it without having to fight?
    Agreed. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

    Another thought which comes to mind is that if there is to be a great restructuring of society some of the materialistic things which many people seek to accumulate - fancy clothes, i-phones, electronics - will no longer be as available. This will be the case if the sweat shops are shut down and the miners and workers who gather and sculpt the materials required for electronics are paid a fair wage, or their labour is directed towards more socially essential tasks.
    At the moment, peoples' views are still shaped to a very large extent by the media, which is owned by people who want and benefit from this kind of society. But priorities for most people are health, education, employment and housing. A system that can offer these might trump an annual iphone update. And in any case, under socialism, there is no reason why people should not have a phone that works.

    I suppose the question to ask is if socialists really have the bottle for the whole thing? Or will they stick to social democracy and repeat the same mistakes again and again, pretending to be surprised when it inevitably ends in failure? (Or a pension?) At least they'd still have their i-phones,
    Most people will hold on to the old world to the last possible moment - its only when they can't continue that way that they will be prepared to change. Greece is an enormous learning opportunity for all this. But for it's vital that those who can see the necessity organise for it and are ready. When events move in a historic way, they move very fast.

    and as Sam might say, Trotsky (I kid)
    Lost me, there....
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

  6. #111
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    Default Re: The Legacy of Stalin and Stalin's U.S.S.R

    https://tinyurl.com/y7asbz89

    From the Revolutionary Left Podcast.

    Interesting, albeit lengthy podcast discussion on Stalin which touches on all the various controversies.

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