The following excerpt is taken from an article written by Gennady Zyuganov, General Secretary of the Central Communist of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF).
Industrialization and collectivization, the cultural rise of the country, which turned it into one of the leading world powers, proved the validity of Stalin’s assertion about the possibility of the victory of socialism in one single country. They marked Stalin’s victory over time and space, which became the prologue to the Great Victory over fascism. Churchill’s words that Stalin “took over the country with a plow and left it with an atomic bomb” contain a capacious description of the achievements of Stalin’s time, the unprecedented achievements of this period, the breakthrough of the Soviet country into the leading group of world powers.
Stalin’s influence on the course of the historical process is so significant that opportunists and demagogues cannot comprehend it. And together with the gross distortions of Stalin’s activities, they are trying to finally bury his dialectical approach to the teachings of Marx-Engels and to the theoretical heritage of Lenin as Marxism of a qualitatively new era; his understanding of what Leninism is in practice.
Both in the practical and theoretical activities of Stalin we find the answer to the question of the viability of socialism and how optimistic its historical perspective is. People involuntarily compare what is happening now with how life changed for the better in earlier times. And therefore, it is not by chance that both Stalin and Lenin confidently led in an online survey of Russians within the framework of the “Name of Russia” project, which was conducted by the state TV channel “Russia”, the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the “Public Opinion” Foundation. While some scientists timidly raise the question of the “political and political science rehabilitation of Stalin,” this has already happened in the mass consciousness a long time ago.
At one time, Stalin insisted on more in-depth teaching of the subject of history in school, which began to include a description of real events and actual heroes of the past. Stalin’s opponents tried to present this as a “neo-nationalist rehabilitation of tsarism” (Bukharin) or “national conservatism” (Trotsky). It was considered a manifestation of “great power chauvinism,” for example, educating schoolchildren in the spirit of respect for Suvorov’s army, which among some party leaders was considered an “army of feudal slaves.” The measures taken by Stalin to strengthen the family – “an archaic, musty, rotten institution” – were seen as unnecessary. And Stalin’s accusations of “nationalist bias” intensified after he put forward the slogan about the possibility of building socialism in one country.
The strength of the ideology of the Stalin era lay in the inextricable connection between theory and economic practice. The most important conclusions of Marxism were supported by real deeds and achievements, a visible improvement in the lives of the majority of citizens of the Soviet Union.
In his last theoretical work, “Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR,” Stalin emphasized the need to recognize the laws of science in economic policy, since he saw in them “a reflection of objective processes occurring independently of the will of people.” He categorically disagreed with the dependent assertion of that part of the party cadres who believed that the Soviet government plays a special role in building socialism, “which supposedly gives it the opportunity to destroy the existing laws of economic development and “form” new ones.” On the contrary, the achievements of the Soviet government were due to the fact that it “was based on the economic law of mandatory correspondence of production relations to the nature of the productive forces.” The socialist law of planned development of the national economy makes it possible to correctly plan social production. But this possibility cannot be confused with reality. These, according to Stalin, are “two different things.”
For Marxists, using Stalin’s legacy today does not mean blindly following the letter of his works and the order of actions. It is necessary to understand and use the methodology with which he himself approached the question of the experience of his predecessors.
A number of his developments have greater depth than we used to think. For decades, many believed that Stalin’s thesis, put forward in July 1928 at the plenum of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, about the intensification of the class struggle with the development of socialism and the increasing resistance of capitalist elements served only to justify the harsh methods of governing the country and the subsequent lawlessness. However, this thesis takes on a completely different meaning when you analyze the reasons for the collapse of the USSR and the CPSU, which the healthy forces of the party and state could not prevent. The events that took place in the second half of the 1980s and in subsequent years show us that the counter-revolution did not go away and did not refuse to seize power by any means, including bloody ones. In our country, this was manifested in the October events of 1993.
Another Stalinist thesis, that international capital would not mind “helping” Russia in transforming a socialist country into a bourgeois republic, also fully justified itself. We all remember the efforts the West made to keep the counter-revolution in power, which restored the capitalist order in Russia.
It is also instructive for us that, being selflessly devoted to the cause of the working class, Stalin did not consider the proletariat as some kind of homogeneous revolutionary force. The class of wage workers, according to Stalin, was not a stable and clearly defined social formation; he distinguished three layers in it.
Stalin drew attention to the ability of the proletariat for social transformation, which is of great importance today, while society is still in a state of social uncertainty. To understand what changes are currently taking place in the structure of Russian society, when it is still crystallizing, the Stalinist method of class analysis is important.
Realism is the quality that significantly distinguished Stalin from the galaxy of revolutionaries who determined the face of the party on the difficult path to October and especially in the post-revolutionary period, after the death of Lenin.
Stalin’s foresight on a number of fundamental issues and his ability to predict the development of events are striking. Thus, long before 1929, before the start of the Great Depression, he pointed out the inevitability of the world crisis, to which processes in the economies of capitalist countries were leading, and already in 1930 he argued that the crisis would be “the most serious and deepest crisis of all that have existed so far.” since the world economic crises,” incomparably deeper than the crisis before the last imperialist war. Stalin also foresaw that this crisis of the capitalist economy “would develop into a political crisis in a number of countries. This means that the bourgeoisie will seek a way out of the situation through further fascisation in the field of domestic politics.” In the field of foreign policy, he believed, “the bourgeoisie will look for a way out in a new imperialist war.” Its character did not raise any doubts in Stalin: “… We are talking about a real and real threat of a new war in general, a war against the USSR in particular.”
It should be noted that Stalin always measured his ultimate goal – building a powerful state – with the requirements of the current moment, with the specific political situation in the party and in the country. For example, he was convinced that a state cannot be strong if it is internally unstable, if there is no strong relationship between the center and the regions. And therefore he opposed the principle of federalism in the state structure and was a convinced and consistent centralist. At the same time, at different times he was ready to agree with different political forms, different mechanisms and schemes for implementing his idea.
Thus, even during the revolution, he acted as a supporter of the unitary system of government and published an article in Pravda in March 1917, which was called “Against Federalism.” In the conditions of the collapse of the Russian Empire, the growing separatism of the outskirts, the inability and unwillingness of the Provisional Government to resist these destructive trends, Stalin considered any weakening of the central government impossible and even disastrous. He said that in a number of leading capitalist countries “development proceeded from independent regions through their federation to a unitary state, that the trend of development is not in favor of the federation, but against it… It follows from this,” he wrote, “that it is unreasonable to strive for Russian federation, doomed to extinction by life itself.”
However, feeling that disputes on this topic threaten to lead the party to a split, he softens his position, recognizing the right to exist of federalism, which is destined to play its transitional role to the future socialist unitarism.
A striking manifestation of the sovereignty of Stalin’s thinking was his speech at a reception on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the October Revolution. “The Russian tsars,” said Stalin, “did one good thing – they put together a huge state as far as Kamchatka. We inherited this state. And for the first time, we, the Bolsheviks, united and strengthened this state as a single, indivisible state, not in the interests of landowners and capitalists, but in favor of the working people, all the peoples who make up this state. We united the state in such a way that each part that was torn off from the common socialist state would not only not cause damage to the latter, but would also not be able to exist independently and would inevitably fall into someone else’s bondage. Therefore, everyone who tries to destroy this unity of the socialist state, who strives to separate a separate part and nationality from it, is an enemy, a sworn enemy of the state, the peoples of the USSR.”
Stalin understood perfectly well that a unique country had been assembled piece by piece over centuries, but it could be destroyed in a very short historical period. This is what ultimately happened to the USSR. Using the example of a number of states created on the territory of the former Soviet Union, we observe the inexorable process of enslavement of “parts” of the socialist state that Stalin spoke about.
Now, as in the early years of the young Soviet Republic, the task is to create in Russia a stable and effective configuration of state power that would combine elements of both centralism and federalism.
At the forefront of the unresolved problem of national relations has long been the Russian question, in its broader sense – the question of Russian socialism, without the resolution of which a major “repair” of statehood is unthinkable. The revival of our national statehood and the return of Russia to the path of socialism are inseparable phenomena. History has once again confronted the peoples of our Motherland with the same choice as in 1917 and 1941: either a great power and socialism, or further destruction of the country and its transformation into a raw materials appendage.
In general, the viability and effectiveness of the state nationality policy served to create the necessary preconditions for the most outstanding achievements of the Soviet era. Stalin based this policy on two most important principles: a merciless fight against any form of national separatism and reliance on the Russian people as the main, power-forming nation.
Also important is his view on the resolution of contradictions within the labor movement and the party and how these contradictions can be linked to the principle of the need for unity in the political struggle: “We do not at all intend to gloss over the differences that exist among the Social Democratic workers. Moreover: we think that a powerful and vibrant movement is unthinkable without disagreement… But this does not mean that there are more points of divergence than points of convergence.”
The essence of the constantly arising contradictions was that within the Communist Party, almost from the moment of its birth and at almost all stages of development, there were two opposing directions, in fact two parties: the party “our country” and the party “this country”. The names of the first are well known to the general public. Lenin and Stalin, Sholokhov and Korolev, Zhukov and Gagarin, Kurchatov and Stakhanov belonged to it. It included the most active part of the working class and peasantry, a large number of managers and party officials. Thousands of fighters on the war fronts joined the same party.
The second numerically could not be compared with the first, but its political weight and influence in the highest echelons of power were disproportionately huge, often decisive. It was mainly composed of people with party cards, for whom “this country” and “this people” were only an arena, material for the realization of their exorbitant vain ambitions and power-hungry lusts, a testing ground for adventurous social experiments. This is the party of Trotsky and Kaganovich, Beria and Mehlis, Gorbachev and Yeltsin, Yakovlev and Shevardnadze.
Stalin never avoided internal party discussions. In particular, he supported the calls of many communists to democratize party life. However, by democratization he understood not only freedom of speech and discussion, but above all the involvement of representatives of the broad masses in governance.
Stalin could not imagine the victory of socialism without a gradual return of the country to its cultural and historical foundations – to strong centralized power, a collectivist way of life, and the supremacy of the spiritual principle in the system of human values. He paid special attention to maintaining continuity and developing the ideological principles of the new statehood, based on the centuries-old national traditions of the Russian and other Russian peoples.
In the article “Dizziness from Success,” criticizing those who made serious excesses in the implementation of collectivization, he makes an important point. “I’m not even talking about those, if I may say so, “revolutionaries,” he writes, “who begin the work of organizing an artel by removing bells from churches. Take off the bells – just think how revolutionary!”
As you know, Stalin received a spiritual education. The tendentiousness and mendacity of many of the comments about his seminary training are largely explained not only by their authors’ hostility to Stalin, but also by their alienated attitude towards the Orthodox Church.
The fact that Stalin was seriously dissatisfied with atheistic propaganda, since it completely ignored the peculiarities of the religious consciousness of a believer and mocked him, can be seen from a number of his statements. In one of his speeches in 1924, Stalin said: “Sometimes some comrades view peasants as materialist philosophers, believing that it is worth giving a lecture on natural science to convince the peasant of the non-existence of God. They often do not understand that a man looks at God in a proprietary way, that is, a man sometimes would not mind turning away from God, but he is often torn by doubts: “Who knows, maybe God really exists; Wouldn’t it be better to please both the communist and God, so that it would be more reliable for the economy?”
A positive change in state policy towards religion, a break with the previously pursued policy of destroying faith in God, occurred in the late thirties and early forties. In 1936, when the Constitution of the USSR was adopted, he opposed the proposal to deprive “clergymen, former White Guards, all former people and persons not engaged in generally useful labor” of voting rights.
This Stalinist position marked the beginning of an important stage in the political life of the country – a period of transition to the removal of social restrictions from certain categories of the population, including the clergy.
Stalin carefully built a new configuration of worldview and ideological pillars of state power, which was supposed to simultaneously correspond to the post-war status of the USSR as a world superpower and restore its continuity with the thousand-year Russian history. He believed that on this path the state and the Church are natural allies in the spiritual and moral education of the people.
Stalin, not only due to his upbringing, but also due to his comprehensive education, well understood the role of the spiritual factor of any people in its relationship to the surrounding reality. He had special respect for the value system of the Russian people.
Stalin was able to play an outstanding role in the history of Russia because he perfectly understood an extremely important and eternally relevant truth: our country, due to a number of historical and geopolitical reasons, has always been the object of the aggressive desires of various contenders for world domination. An unenviable fate was being prepared for Russia by European countries at the very beginning of the 20th century. The idea of its dismemberment was nurtured, in particular, in certain circles in France. And the famous world behind-the-scenes figure Parvus in 1915 proposed to the Germans his plan for the implementation of these plans, which was accepted. But, according to Professor I.Ya. Froyanov, the most significant thing is that the issue of dismemberment of the Russian Empire became the subject of the Versailles Peace Agreement, signed in June 1919. It contains a section with a very characteristic name – “Russia and Russian states”, which states that “Germany recognizes and undertakes to respect as permanent and inalienable the independence of all territories that were part of the former Russian Empire by August 1, 1914.” Thus, in 1919, Western countries no longer considered Russia an empire.
The October Revolution stopped the policy of disintegration, which had obvious anti-Russian overtones. Over the course of several years, drastic steps were taken to restore the historical integrity of Russia, as a result of which the Soviet Union was formed in December 1922, marking the beginning of the unity of peoples on new principles of equality and common concern for the flourishing of all nations.
Later, by putting forward and implementing a plan for building socialism in a separate country, Stalin, in fact, prevented the destruction of the socialist state, which Western countries dreamed of from the first days after the establishment of Soviet power in Russia. And as a result of the victory over Germany, he returned the lost territories that once belonged to Russia.
The struggle does not subside, which, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski, is being waged “against Russia, at the expense of Russia and on the ruins of Russia.” The capitalist world has returned to the times of the Cold War against the USSR, which quite recently pro-Western circles within our country feignedly discussed as something impossible, forever consigned to history.
But the United States believes that Russia is the main obstacle to establishing their complete control over Eurasia; In addition, the United States, together with its friends in the West, dreams of appropriating Russia’s natural resources.
There is no need to hope that in the implementation of such aspirations someone will be guided by humane considerations and generally recognized moral standards. In the early 1950s, a secret report on CIA covert operations landed on US President Eisenhower’s desk. He reflected the prevailing sentiment in Washington at the time, which remains unchanged to this day: “There are no rules in this game. And it does not adhere to generally accepted standards of human behavior… If the United States is to survive, the traditional American concept of fair play must be reconsidered. We must develop effective intelligence and counterintelligence services; we must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies in more subtle, sophisticated and effective ways than those they use against us. Moreover, it is necessary that the American people learn to understand and support this disgusting philosophy…”
A radical change in Russia’s international position dictates the need to find new approaches to foreign policy for it. At one time, at the end of the 19th century, St. Petersburg tried to make a strategic turn to the East. Realizing that control over vast territories of the country depends primarily on the level of development of means of communication, the Russian government began construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Measures were taken to actively populate the regions of Siberia and the Far East.
However, this, as we would now say, “Eurasian” approach to solving geopolitical problems was not destined to become dominant in the consciousness of Russian society. The most influential part of it was still oriented towards the West, was brought up exclusively on European values, and dreamed of the Europeanization of Russia.
But despite all the mistakes and delusions, the main emphasis in imperial foreign and domestic policy was always placed on the need to build a self-sufficient state. To be strong and powerful, Russia had to be able to independently respond to all the challenges of the outside world, without counting on outside help.
In the post-revolutionary period, it seemed that under the pressure of the fanatics of the “permanent revolution” there were no statesmen left in Russia capable of thinking in such categories. However, such a person was found. Stalin succeeded in bringing to life a completely new geopolitical model of Russia’s behavior. It is no coincidence that it is said that real politics is the process of realizing a national idea. Stalin combined all the best accumulated in traditional Russian concepts – imperial self-sufficiency and the Slavic “Big Space”, with the possibilities of the Soviet, socialist system.
He understood perfectly well that the West would never come to terms with the strengthening of Russia-USSR, with its transformation into a dynamically developing, distinctive superpower. The famous Yugoslav politician M. Djilas recalled how Stalin once took him to a map of the world and confidently said, pointing to America and Great Britain, and then to the Soviet Union: “They will never come to terms with such a space being red – never, never! “
According to Stalin, the victory over fascism became the greatest geopolitical victory of the Slavs. In his address to the people on May 9, 1945, he said clearly and unequivocally: “The centuries-old struggle of the Slavic peoples for their existence and their independence ended in victory over the German invaders and German tyranny.”
Stalin also understood the need for ideological renewal of the country within the framework of its new geopolitical form – the USSR. The result of this was a change in the state ideology of the Soviet Union in the 1940s. The basis of the new course was the desire to create an effective ideology of patriotism that meets the requirements of the time, which could become a reliable ideological basis for the functioning of the state mechanisms of the huge Soviet power and its allies.
The formation in the person of the USSR of a powerful alternative center of world influence, which personified, first of all, justice and democracy, caused a state close to panic in the West. After all, all the efforts of the trade and financial cosmopolitan elite to create a “world system of international division of labor” – the basis for the subsequent policy of enslaving humanity within the framework of the “new world order” – were under threat.
The centuries-old Russian tradition of building a strong, self-sufficient state is in fact nothing more than the only possible and effective response to a constant threat from the outside. Stalin understood this well.
Back in the fall of 1952, Stalin drew the attention of delegates and guests to the 19th Party Congress to the following circumstance: “Previously, the bourgeoisie allowed itself to be liberal and defended bourgeois-democratic freedoms. Now there is not a trace left of liberalism… The banner of bourgeois-democratic freedoms has been thrown overboard… You will have to raise this banner… and carry it forward if you want to gather the majority of the people around you.”
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation had the opportunity to verify from its own experience that the oligarchic bourgeoisie, asserting its power, threw another banner overboard. This, as Stalin called it, is “the banner of national independence and national sovereignty.”
The relevance of Stalin’s idea of an organic fusion of the struggle for socialism with the movement for national independence, democratic rights and freedoms of workers has acquired particular urgency these days. We are witnessing a real explosion of national self-awareness of the peoples of various regions of the world who have been subjected to the ideological, political and military aggression of the West.
The events of the Stalin era serve for us not only as bright signs of the past, but also as beacons of the future. These events teach us to understand and feel our responsibility for the fate of the country. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation has long stated that it accepts responsibility for the past, present and future of our state. As Stalin said, “since we came to power and took upon ourselves the task of transforming the country on the basis of socialism, we are and must be responsible for everything: both bad and good.”
An appeal to the achievements of the Soviet country in the Stalin era is called upon today to help solve a number of practical problems of our days and the foreseeable future. How to recreate a strong, fair, efficient state in Russia? How to return a power to its natural geopolitical role? How to solve the most pressing national problems? How to overcome economic chaos, poverty and unemployment in the shortest possible time? How to unite society in pursuit of the highest moral ideals and significant political goals?
Turning to the biography of Stalin, rereading Stalin’s lines, you see that this is a whole program of communist activity in a new historical era. In a situation where, under the pressure of “globalization,” the fate of peoples is radically changing, the spiritual foundations of their lives are being destroyed, and states are losing their sovereignty, adopting Western-style “democracy,” and losing their identity. The very meaning of the existence of human civilization is collapsing.
That is why the experience of the formation of the Soviet Union as a world superpower, the leader of a huge geopolitical bloc, a cultural and ideological phenomenon of world-historical scale is especially important – a formation that occurred during the reign of such an outstanding person and political figure as Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin.
Stalin was a man of enormous faith in the creative power of his people. This faith was transmitted to millions of people, as it was reinforced and confirmed by practical deeds. Without unity of faith, word and deed, it would have been impossible to follow the path chosen by Stalin. Along the path that led to the unprecedented prosperity of the country, in which all peoples felt great and powerful.