Essay:Stalin wears Green and a Red Star
it is Stalin’s Birthday today, and as this piece relates to him, I decided to post it on this day
Recently, a disturbing trend has come to my attention, the unrelenting defamation of comrade Stalin by certain Gonzaloist circles. These Gonzaloists , desperately trying to deepen the theoretical rift between Stalin and Mao even where there is no split to be found. They try to artificially expand a miniscule crack into an all-encompassing rupture. They unsuccessfully attempt to make Stalin look like a stupid idiotic reactionary who was [theoretically] completely destroyed by the absolute genius and humanity’s saviour, Mao: any credit to another of the 5 heads is an attack on Mao himself. They are obsessed. They are a cult.
We must correct this not only false, but also anti-Marxist line.
[Now arises the question of why we should indulge in this task, is it just another meaningless session of intellectual masturbation that does nought for the revolution? Another purely theoretical issue that has no real use, only to be found in the most possibly detached from the struggle academic circles? No it is not.
The analysis of the theoretical relation of Mao and Stalin is an inquiry into the development of Marxism itself, to study this means to play the foundations for a new set of tools, tools that will accelerate the development of the current stage of Marxism to a higher level.]
Let us now start with clearly defining what makes Mao unique, his developments
The developments of Mao
- Mass Line
- New Democracy
- Anti revisionism/Proletarian Cultural revolution
All these concrete policies stem from the same root, a fundamental philosophical development: the understanding of how “1 divides into 2”
The mass line
Everything is a system containing one or more contradictions between aspects. The specifics of this contradiction (quantity) produce an either essencial, or non-essencial change (quality) in the general character of the system. Water when heated becomes vapor, something fundamentally distinct from water, with its own individual properties and characteristics (an essencial change), but, when a struggle becomes revisionist (quantity change), it does not magically stop being a struggle, it just shifts from being a progressive proletarian struggle, to being a reactionary Bourgeois struggle (quantity change): there is a change but is is not a change of the essence, it is non-essencial.
Theory is the system of the contradiction between pure logic on one pole, and practice on the other; depending on both the proportions of these elements to each other and the qualities of these elements , the system of theory might acquire a generally correct or incorrect character. Practice serves to address and hammer-out the impurities of logic, the errors that will naturally arise during the process of cognition, but without pure logic, not only will theory/knowledge never surpass the constraining barrier of perceptuality to rationality, the errors of initial perception that are bound to arise, will not be corrected. Both pure logic and practice are exceptionally valuable and it is against the dialectical outlook to contest this in either words or deeds.
The error of left communism lays with an over emphasis on pure logic when in relation to practice (when in ratio to another), the mechanism of correction of logical errors does not extend far enough (practice is not extensive enough) to properly deal with the mass of errors that arise from the sheer size of the pure logic element. That is how left communists produce incorrect theory/ an incorrect line.
If there is overemphasis on pure logic there is overemphasis on practice, if there is a Left communist there must be an Empiricist.
While the Left communist’s and the Empriricist’s mistakes were born from the relationship between the aspects of pure logic and practice in their models, the Fool’s mistake is to be found in, not the relation between the two aspects, but in both aspects viewed for their own right, specifically, in the lack of both pure logic and practice. The Fool’s theory does not possess enough practice to make any meaningful conclusions on where his logical mistakes are, and he does not possess enough pure logic to do away with the mistakes of his first-glance analysis. His analysis is the most incorrect of the 3 for these reasons.
The correct Marxist-Leninist line is the culminated correction of these errors.
Now comes the issue of the Party Line:
The [vanguard] Party finds itself in a unique peculiar situation, it is acting for society (the Proletariat and the poor Peasantry), yet it lacks society’s experience (practice), and it will not gain it until it asks society (the masses) itself
When viewed on the level of a single issue, yes, after a process of discontinued analysis (analysis which ends at one point) the party DOES gain the sufficient amount of societal practice, but the party does not deal with 1 issue, it deals with a range of constantly expanding issues. Thus, when viewed as an organic whole, the party is constantly in a state of lack of societal practice, a state of standstill, which coupled with expanding amounts of pure logic (the party must deal with more issues does it not?) results in a change in proportion between the 2 aspects, in a change in the ratio between the aspects in favor of pure logic and against practice. If the adequate measures for this tendency are not taken, only an incorrect line is what we will find ourselves with.
(As described above, the Party is always growing its element of pure logic as it deals with more issues, but its element of practice only grows insofar as the party actively pursues its growth. It is as such that the more time passes without the Party consulting the masses for their societal practice, the more the element of pure logic will start to loom over practice, and eventually dominate)
Pure logic is inherently constantly expanding, which in the presence of practice’s properties means a fall in the ratio of practice to pure logic. Pure logic is constantly trying to enlarge its absolute self, which necessarily hurts practice. Pure logic is constantly waging war against practice.Pure logic is constantly struggling against practice.
Thus, the party must continuously gain societal practice. The party must constantly address its inherent lack of societal practice, but this is not a single process or numerous single individual processes, for the party’s societal practice ends its expansion and immediately falls to a standstill as soon as the party stops manually and consciously attempting to expand it (by consulting the masses). The party’s process is not discontinuous, but continuous.
The party must strengthen its line by consulting the masses, it must strengthen its line through the masses, it must have a mass line.
[This is a concept elaborated on by Mao in Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership, and most embodied in the quote “… 4. In all the practical work of our Party, all correct leadership is necessarily “from the masses, to the masses”. This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action.”]
New Democracy is a line that represents the Proletariat, poor peasantry, and colonised/subjugated people’s most advanced and state of the art weapon for liberation against a compound yolk, whether that is the yolk of imperialism and capitalism, or that is the yolk of feudalism and capitalism, etc. New Democracy constitutes a few key principles:
- When a people is faced with a compound yolk of oppression, there is one principal yolk that must at all costs be escaped and crushed, or the destruction of the non-primary yolks will only be found in the imagination. All the classes and strata who are against this principal yolk must be united into a revolutionary bloc, the contradiction between the different classes and strata within the bloc temporarily put aside for the health of this united front
- The Proletariat and poor Peasantry must lead this bloc, only they can assure liberation for the great masses of people
When there is a compound yolk there is always a principal yolk, a yolk which forever blocks the rise of the Red Sun for as long as it exists, a yolk whose presence spells the safety of all the non-principal yolks. As long as feudalism is in power there will be no socialism, as long as imperialism is in power there will be no socialism, etc. Those who wish to attack multiple levels of this yolk must first and foremost be completely devoted to destroying the principal yolk.
To engage in class struggle as long as this principal yolk find itself outside the annals of history, is to reduce the forces against reaction to an undisciplined community who fight amongst themselves when a predator stalks their children, and inevitably to lovingly nurture the principal yolk: it is to doom all the classes within the revolutionary bloc, and to actively serve the forces against reaction to the forces of reaction to devour as they wish, including the Proletariat and poor peasantry. All those who genuinely seek the defeat of only this principal yolk, or further non-principal yolks as well, uphold this line.
Every class wishes to better its position and well-being, it is in this vein, and this vein only, that the different classes against reaction combat the forces of reaction, if there is another road that leads to an even better position, they will walk it. If the camp of the principal yolk provides even greater luxury, the different classes will lose no sleep over joining the exploiters. For example, the national Bourgeoisie cares not for the independence of its nation as long as it can come to a favorable compromise with the imperialist camp: the national Bourgeoisie cares only for its profits.
However, the Proletariat and Peasantry are different: the Proletariat and poor peasantry comprise the great masses of people. The camp of the principal yolk can corrupt the minority classes, but they cannot corrupt the masses, for all systems of exploitation derive their life-blood from, and are founded on, the expropriation and exploitation of the masses (Eg. imperialism relies on the exploitation of the great masses of subjugated people, feudalism relies on the exploitation of the great masses of agrarian peasant people, etc). No oppression of the masses, no imperialism, no monopoly, no feudalism, etc. All the minority classes, all those classes which do not have a mass base, are susceptible to corruption and alliance with this reactionary principal yolk. The minority classes incorporate an eternal contradiction spawned from their alienation from the masses: the dual character of the minority classes, compromising and revolutionary, are elements constantly struggling and changing. A weakness the Proletariat and poor peasantry possess not (the Proletariat and poor peasantry holds not the fountain of this eternal contradiction, alienation from the masses).
Those who genuinely wish for the destruction of the principal yolk, whether that be imperialism, feudalism, or anything else, cannot but look to the Proletariat and poor peasantry as their leaders. To give leadership to one of the minority classes is to risk betrayal of the whole leadership, and even if the majority of the leadership does not become comprador, leadership will be divided (the revolutionary clique struggles against the comprador clique), and hesitant indecisive, being prone to compromising with the principal yolk (for even the supposedly “revolutionary” clique still loans for the blessing of the principal yolk). When the masses’ lives are on the line, the people demand a strong, devoted, and united leadership, they demand the Proletariat and poor peasantry!
All that was described above combines to form the abstract, general, universal, principle of New Democracy, but this abstract principle must have its germ in the concrete. What does this mean? It means that:
- The culture of a New Democratic society must reflect New Democracy. The culture of this society must strengthen this society’s ability to properly defend itself from and eventually crush the principal yolk (scientific if the principal yolk is feudalism, national if the principal yolk is imperialism, etc). The culture of this society must also not be explicitly socialist and proletarian as to not alienate the minority classes too greatly, triggering class struggle within the revolutionary bloc, but it must properly arm the masses to defend themselves from the counter-revolutionary and anti-people influence of the minority classes, it must not be the culture of the minority classes either. The culture of a New Democratic society must be the proletarian-led culture of the entire revolutionary bloc.
- The political structure of a New Democratic society must be reflective of New Democracy. It must not be a Dictatorship of the Proletariat, as to not alienate the minority classes too greatly, triggering class struggle within the revolutionary bloc, but it must not be a Dictatorship of the Minority Classes either for reasons already covered... The political structure of a New Democratic society must be the proletarian-led political structure of the entire revolutionary bloc.
- The economy of a New Democratic society must be reflective of New Democracy. It must not be a socialist economy, which necessarily entails the expropriation of the minority classes (triggering class struggle), but it must not completely be the system of the minority classes either (capitalism for the Bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeoisie, etc), for the explosive growth needed of the Productive Forces most concerned with reflecting the blows of the principle yolk (industries which the nation can not rely domestically on/commodities which it normally imports and general infrastructure for imperialism, agriculture/mechanized agriculture for feudalism, etc) can only be achieved through nationalization. The economy of a New Democratic society must be the proletarian-led economy of the entire revolutionary bloc.
[These concepts were originally elaborated on by Mao in On New Democracy]
Anti-Revisionism/Proletarian Cultural revolution
The question of Anti-revisionism/Proletarian Cultural Revolution is a question of the continuation of class struggle under socialism, not only from outside [the Proletariat and poor Peasantry], but also from within. It is a question of its intensification and the new forms it takes under socialism, it is not a matter of the battle between the people and the enemies of the people in which both factions participate, dishonored Bourgeois individuals who still hope to regain their lost position as exploiters and what not, but of the battle between the People and the Enemies of the People in which the only participant is the people themselves, how the revolutionary working masses could inexplicably join the camp of their own enemies.
No serious socialist project that intends to be inexhaustible against the attack of the enemies of the people and achieve stable and lasting happiness for the working masses, can go without attending this question, the tragic fate of the Soviet Union is a testament to this. To reject or mind this question half heartedly is to betray and stab straight into the heart of the Proletariat, peasantry, and all the working masses.
The core of this question is the superstructure and how:
- The Superstructure expresses an effect on the [Economic] Base
- The Old Superstructure will not dissipate in its own accord, it can only be eliminated if the Society that wishes to do so actively sets out and works towards that goal
It would be both reactionary and idealist to deny that it is men’s social existence that determines their ideology, that is indisputably clear to even those who glance at social analysis only superficially, but it is also ludicrous to deny that it is men who make society, and it is they who rule it. Men act according to their ideas, and it is men that manage society, thus, ideas have an effect on society (this includes the mode of production).The Base determines the Superstructure and the Superstructure strengthens the Base but in certain periods, like Revolutionary periods, the Superstructure can become primary.
The national [independant] character of a newly independent ex-colony/subjugated nation can be instantaneously reverted if the independence movement, still contaminated with the remains of colonial and liberal ideology, is so naive [not a moral judgement] as to “willingly” hand over power to Imperialism (either out of a deep rooted colonial ideology which causes it to believe itself unfit to rule in the face of the “superior” and “civilized” colonial powers, or stemming from a deep rooted liberalism which impairs the movement’s systematic understanding of the fundamental parasitism and anti-people character of imperialism).
The Old Superstructure remains ingrained within the consciousness of men for long after the mode of production changes, it infests itself deep within the minds of the masses, so that only a prolonged struggle against the Old Superstructure can eradicate it fully, and eradicate it at all, for as long as there is one poisoned root, one million weeds will sprout.
This principle is valid also in the case of liberalism and socialism, and the party is not safe from this, liberalism has snuck itself so far into the brain so that even the most principled, intelligent, and cultured comrades that completely understand the incorrectness of liberalism consciously, are subconsciously the victim of it.
The continued, extended, presence of the Old Superstructure combined with the Superstructure’s effects on the Economic Base, means that the capitalist system of oppression will necessarily be re-established if the party is not alert to the subtlety of liberalism’s continued presence, and does not burn liberalism with the most ferocious flame.
As long as liberalism is present at all within the mind of the Proletarian, he will partially act Bourgeois (which is against his interests). The element of liberalism will continue to grow at the expense of the element of Marxism-Leninism, and so will the Bourgeois element grow at the expense of the Proletarian element. This is all but confirmed in the tragedy of the Soviet Union where the genuine revisionists unwittingly enabled the more malicious Bourgeois “revisionists”.
So, what must we do? We must first remove the bulk of the tumor, and then slowly but surely remove the remnants as well. We must begin with a Proletarian Socialist cultural revolution, and secondly we must continuously counteract the growth of the liberal Bourgeois element, by always remaining vigilant and waging a continuous struggle against revisionism. That is the only way to ensure the well-being of the people.
[The masses should participate in the anti-revisionist struggle as well, to not do so would be to shelter the parasite of liberalism from the most aggressive flame we possess. The masses’ participation in the anti-liberal struggle is also important for another reason: acting like a liberal is to come in the way of the socialist economic system of the people, it is to impede the development of the productive Forces (societal development), and rob the poor Peasantry and proletariat of their deserved happiness]
Stalin and the mass line
Stalin is often accused to have taken a “top-down” approach to the masses/political leadership, this is a blatantly untrue, total perversion of Stalin’s thoughts and deeds. These quotes should help to see what Stalin thought of what might be called the Mass Line:
“There is talk of criticism from above, criticism by the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, by the Central Committee of our Party and so on. That, of course, is all very good. But it is still far from enough. More, it is by no means the chief thing now. The chief thing now is to start a broad tide of criticism from below against bureaucracy in general, against shortcomings in our work in particular. Only by organising twofold pressure — from above and from below — and only by shifting the principal stress to criticism from below, can we count on waging a successful struggle against bureaucracy and on rooting it out.
It would be a mistake to think that only the leaders possess experience in constructive work. That is not true, comrades. The vast masses of the workers who are engaged in building our industry are day by day accumulating vast experience in construction, experience which is not a whit less valuable to us than the experience of the leaders. Mass criticism from below, control from below, is needed by us in order that, among other things, this experience of the vast masses should not be wasted, but be reckoned with and translated into practice.
From this follows the immediate task of the Party: to wage a ruthless struggle against bureaucracy, to organise mass criticism from below, and to take this criticism into account when adopting practical decisions for eliminating our shortcomings.”-J.V Stalin; Organise Mass Criticism from Below, Speech Delivered at the Eighth Congress of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League on May 16, 1928
“Lenin taught us, not only to teach the masses but also to learn from them.
What does this mean?
It means, first, that we leaders must not become conceited; and we must understand that if we are members of the Central Committee or are People’s Commissars, this does not mean that we possess all the knowledge necessary for giving correct leadership. An official position by itself does not provide knowledge and experience. This is still more the case in respect to a title.
This means, second, that our experience, alone, the experience of leaders, is insufficient to give correct leadership; that, consequently, it is necessary that one’s experience, the experience of leaders, be supplemented by the experience of the masses, by the experience of the rank-and-file Party members, by the experience of the working class, by the experience of the people.
This means, third, that we must not for one moment weaken, and still less break, our connection with the masses.
This means, fourth, that we must pay careful attention to the voice of the masses, to the voice of the rank-and-file members of the Party, to the voice of the so-called ‘small men,’ to the voice of the people.”-J.V Stalin; Mastering Bolshevism (1937)
Notice how the principal concept behind Mass Line is not that “if the Masses are not adequately integrated into leadership the an incredible amount of innovative potential is put to waste” (a totally correct position), but that even if the Party is home only to the most moral and incorruptible members, the Party will still arrive at an incorrect position if it does not call upon the masses for their experience. Stalin argues both points.
I hope it is perfectly clear now, that Stalin supported mass criticism, not only from a place of total devotion to the masses, but also as the result of a deep theoretical understanding of the fundamental relationship between not only Pure Logic and Practice, an understanding that is clearly coinciding with an almost identical to, the later ideas expressed by Mao.
Stalin stands with Mao, not in opposition.
Stalin and New Democracy
Preface: While the concept of New Democracy is applicable to all compound yolks, the historical and social context it was born out of, establishes New Democracy as a line historically most closely associated with the anti-imperialist struggle in the capitalist era. It is with this necessary context that we will be tackling the question of Stalin and New Democracy.
Stalin’s contributions to the National Question are often restricted with his pioneering in defining what a Nation actually is (Marxism and the National Question), his theories on how the anti-imperialist struggle should be carried out are not often analysed, properly explored, or even mentioned. This gives rise to the impression that Stalin did not worry himself with the anti-imperialist struggle, a grossly incorrect stance that can only emerge from a lacking, and shallow reading of Stalin. These excerpts can be interpreted as regarding a proto-New Democracy:
“From this follow at least three decluctions :
1. It is impossible to achieve the liberation of colonies and dependent countries from imperialism without a victorious revolution: you will not get independence gratis!
2. The revolution cannot be advanced and the complete independence of capitalistically developed colonies and dependent countries achieved unless the compromising national bourgeoisie is isolated, unless the petty-bourgeois revolutionary masses are freed from the influence of this bourgeoisie, unless the hegemony of the proletariat is established and unless the advanced elements of the working class are organized in an independent Communist Party.
…”-J.V Stalin; Political Tasks of the U.T.E [University of The People’s of the East] (1925)
“…the Communist Party and the party of the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie. The task of this bloc is to expose the temporising spirit and inconsistency of the national bourgeoisie and to wager a determined struggle against imperialism. ”-J.V Stalin; Political Tasks of the U.T.E
“In other words, it is a question of preparing the proletariat of such colonies as India for the role of leader in the liberation movement, and of dislodging, step by step, the bourgeoisie and its spokesmen from this honourable position. The task is to create a revolutionary anti-imperialist bloc and to ensure the hegemony of the proletariat within this bloc. ”-J.V Stalin; Political Tasks of the U.T.E
“But the C:ommunist Party can and must enter into an open bloc with the revolutionary wing of the bourgeoisie in order, after. having isolated the compromising national bourgeoisie, to lead the vast masses of the urban and rural petty bourgeoisie irf the struggle against imperialism.”-J.V Stalin; Political Tasks of the U.T.E
“Hence, the immediate tasks of the revolutionary movement in capitalistically developed colonial and dependent countries are as follows:
2. To set up a national revolutionary bloc of workers, peasants, and the revolutionary intelligentsia against the bloc of the compromising national bourgeoisie and imperialism
3. To ensure the hegemony of the proletariat in this bloc.
….”-J.V Stalin; Political Tasks of the U.T.E
“Hence the two paths of development of events in China. Either the national bourgeoisie crushes the proletariat, enters into a contract with imperialism and with it launches campaign against the revolution, in order to end it with the establishment of the rule of capitalism; Or the proletariat pushes aside the national bourgeoisie, consolidates its hegemony and wins the following of the toiling millions of town and country in order to overcome the resistance of the national bourgeoisie, secure the complete victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and then gradually switch it to the path of Socialist revolution, with all the consequences that follow thereform.”-J.V Stalin; Problems of The Chinese Revolution
In these different passages a greater general principle begins to be expressed: all the classes which oppose imperialism bust unite into a revolutionary bloc, and the “hegemony” of the Proletariat must be consolidated within this bloc. Can this be taken as anything but an avocation for New Democracy?
[While it is a somewhat tangential point, the abstract principle of the minority classes being prone to corruption by the principal yolk, now in the context of feudal and imperialist oppression, can be found in the following quote:
“Utterly defeated, the ‘’national governments” were “obliged’’ to appeal for aid, against their “own” workers and peasants to the imperialists of Western Europe, the age-long oppressors and exploiters of the small nations of the world. Thus began the. period· of foreign interference and the occupation of the border regions-a period which once more revealed the counter-revolutionary nature of the “national” and regional “governments” ”-J.V Stalin; The October Revolution and the National Question (1918)]
Again, Stalin stands with Mao, not in opposition.
Stalin and Anti-Revisionism/Proletarian Cultural Revolution
One of the most common and severe allegations against Stalin by certain principally Mao comrades (not to be confused with the Peruvian principally maoism movement which is much more nuanced on the question of Stalin) is that his application of dialectics was “mechanical”, specifically, it is accused that he denied the role of the Superstructure under Socialism. This is a totally incorrect position.
As explained above, what does it mean to affirm the importance of the Superstructure under socialism? It means to first admit that the Superstructure has an effect on the Base, secondly admit that “where the broom does not reach, the dust will not vanish of itself” (the Old Superstructure will not disappear by itself), and finally take precautions against this in the form of a Proletarian Cultural revolution and a continued vigilant anti-revisionist attitude. It is thus that we must judge the thoughts of Stalin.
“It does not follow from Marx’s words, however, that social ideas, theories, political views and political institutions are of no significance in the life of society, that they do not reciprocally affect social being, the development of the material conditions of the life of society. We have been speaking so far of the origin of social ideas, theories, views and political institutions, of the way they arise, of the fact that the spiritual life of society is a reflection of the conditions of its material life. As regards the significance of social ideas, theories, views and political institutions, as regards their role in history, historical materialism, far from denying them, stresses the important role and significance of these factors in the life of society, in its history
Their significance lies in the fact that they hamper the development, the progress of society. Then there are new and advanced ideas and theories which serve the interests of the advanced forces of society. Their significance lies in the fact that they facilitate the development, the progress of society; and their significance is the greater the more accurately they reflect the needs of development of the material life of society. New social ideas and theories arise only after the development of the material life of society has set new tasks before society. But once they have arisen they become a most potent force which facilitates the carrying out of the new tasks set by the development of the material life of society, a force which facilitates the progress of society. It is precisely here that the tremendous organizing, mobilizing and transforming value of new ideas, new theories, new political views and new political institutions manifests itself. New social ideas and theories arise precisely because they are necessary to society, because it is impossible to carry out the urgent tasks of development of the material life of society without their organizing, mobilizing and transforming action. Arising out of the new tasks set by the development of the material life of society, the new social ideas and theories force their way through, become the possession of the masses, mobilize and organize them against the moribund forces of society, and thus facilitate the overthrow of these forces, which hamper the development of the material life of society. Thus social ideas, theories and political institutions, having arisen on the basis of the urgent tasks of the development of the material life of society, the development of social being, themselves then react upon social being, upon the material life of society, creating the conditions necessary for completely carrying out the urgent tasks of the material life of society, and for rendering its further development possible. In this connection, Marx says: “Theory becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.” )-J.V Stalin; Dialectical and Historical Materialism (1938)
“Possessing exceptional possibilities of cultural influence on the masses, the cinema helps the working class and its party to educate the workers in the spirit of socialism, to organize the masses in the struggle for socialism, to heighten their sense of culture and political awareness”-J.V Stalin; letter to Comrade Choumiatsky (1930)
“Communism represents a higher stage of development. The principle of Communism, is that in a Communist society each works according to his abilities and receives articles of consumption, not according to the work he performs, but according to his needs as a culturally developed individual.”-J.V Stalin; Speech at the First All-Union CConference of Stakhanovites (1935)
“[Referring to ‘What does choosing the right people and putting them in the right place mean?’]… Most often, so-called acquaintances, friends, fellow-townsmen, personally devoted people, masters in the art of praising their chiefs are chosen without regard for their political and business fitness… the Bolshevik method of choosing workers precludes the possibility of a philistine petty-bourgeois approach, precludes the possibility of choosing workers on the family and artel principle. ”-J.V Stalin; Speech in Reply to Debate 5 March 37
“[Referring to Comrade Nikolayenko] For a whole year she had been giving signals that all was not well in the Party organization in Kiev; she exposed the family spirit, the philistine petty-bourgeois approach to workers, the suppression of self-criticism, the prevalence of Trotskyite wreckers.”-J.V Stalin; Speech in Reply to Debate 5 March 37
“The principal task in this period was to establish the Socialist economic system all over the country and to eliminate the last remnants of the capitalist elements, to bring about a cultural revolution, and to form a thoroughly modern army for the defence of the country”-J.V Stalin; Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the Eighteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U (B.) (1939)
“The proletarian cultural revolution of 1928–32 was violent and iconoclastic. It was an aggressive movement of the young, proletarian and communist against the cultural establishment — that is, against the conservative alliance of Narkompros (the government Commissariat of Enlightenment, headed by the Old Bolshevik intellectual Lunacharsky) and the bourgeois intelligentsia.”-Sheila Fitzpatrick; Cultural Revolution in Russia
Not convinced of these quotes and more, some argue: “yes Stalin understood that the Old Superstructure remained, but deemed this to be restricted to the masses, denying that the old Superstructure permeated into the Party, and upholding that the election process of elimination was enough to deny the Old Superstructure entry into the Party”. This is not true either. Between 1946 and 1952 the great majority of the Party and state workers underwent a “refresher” course to destroy “the survivals of Bourgeois ideology”.
How did the revisionist clique triumph then? The Revisionist clique triumphed not because the genuinely revolutionary Soviets did not attack the cancer with a flame, but because the Soviet flame was not the most ferocious flame, so that the cancer managed to spread beyond control.
Alas, what is of primary importance is that Stalin completely subscribes to the 4 points and the need for a Cultural Revolution + Prolonged anti-revisionist attitude.
Once more, Stalin stands with Mao, not in opposition.
Mao & Stalin
Did Stalin copy Mao?
After fully appreciating the fundamental theoretical similarity between Stalin and Mao, some might instinctively ask if Stalin assimilated these concepts from Mao into his own thoughts, or worse, “copied” these concepts from Mao. He certainly did not. Stalin’s Organise Mass Criticism from Below and Mastering Bolshevism were written in 1928 and 1937 while Mao’s Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership was written in 1943, Stalin’s Political Tasks of the U.T.E was written in 1925 while Mao’s On New Democracy was written in 1940. There is no possibility of Stalin having assimilated these ideas from Mao.
Small Rift is not no Rift
While I hope that the previous section emphasized the closeness of Mao’s and Stalin’s theories, it would be fallacious to say they were without their differences. Single Spark summaries Mao’s criticisms of Stalin as:
- While Stalin kept to a materialist stance in philosophy, his understanding and application of dialectics was much more uneven. He failed to recognize the centrality of the concept of contradiction in dialectics, and often failed to recognize the existence of important social and class contradictions.
- Specifically, Stalin failed to understand that even after the collectivization of agriculture class contradictions still existed in the countryside, and class struggle would continue there.
- And more generally, Stalin failed to recognize that even after the basic construction of socialism in the USSR, class struggle still continued, and the contradiction between the socialist and capitalist roads still continued — not only in society generally, but also within the Communist Party.
- Because of this lack of appreciation of the continuation of class struggle in socialist society, Stalin tended to reduce the threat of capitalist restoration within the USSR to just the possibility of armed attack by foreign imperialism (though that was indeed a legitimate and serious worry).
- Within the USSR, Stalin had a “paternalistic” approach toward the masses, and sought to change and run society for them, instead of using the mass line method of mobilizing the masses to change and run society for themselves. Stalin did not use the mass line either in politics or in economic work.
- Specific examples: Stalin failed to rely on the masses in suppressing counter-revolutionaries and enemy agents, instead relying almost entirely on the security agencies to do this. Similarly, Stalin failed to rely on the masses to ward off the danger of a general capitalist restoration. Even in economic work he tended in later years to rely more on cadres and technology than on the masses.
- Stalin confused contradictions among the people with the contradictions between the people and the enemy. Specifically, he unjustly imprisoned or executed a great many people.
- Within the Soviet Union, the CPSU and the International Communist Movement, Stalin insisted on complete obedience from everyone, and would brook no criticisms from anyone. He was suspicious and mistrustful of those whose complete obedience and total agreement he questioned.
- In his relations with other countries, including China, Stalin often acted as a “great nation chauvinist”, and even at times like an imperialist might act.
- Stalin promoted the construction of an inappropriate and metaphysical personality cult around himself as an individual. [This criticism is unfortunately somewhat ironic, given that Mao later did this as well!]
- In economics, Stalin seriously neglected agriculture and light industry, and put lopsided emphasis on heavy industry.
- Similarly, Stalin gave insufficient attention to raising the living standards of the masses (especially the peasants).
- Stalin seemed to be at a loss as to how to transform cooperative production in agriculture into state production, and how to transform the peasantry into agricultural workers.
- More generally, after the early transformations of industry and agriculture, Stalin seemed to resign himself to the continuation of the existing relations of production and did not try to further transform them in the direction of communism.
- Stalin did not show sufficient vigilance in the period before the German attack on the Soviet Union, and grossly miscalculated as to when that attack might occur. Nevertheless he did successfully lead the Soviet Union and the world in defeating Hitler.
- On the other hand, Stalin tended to be too frightened of the imperialist powers, way too cautious, and even attempted to prevent revolutions in other countries because he feared they might lead to the involvement of the USSR in a war. At several key points, he even tried to prevent the Chinese Revolution from proceeding.
- Stalin did not do a good job in training and preparing his successors. (This, alas, also turned out to be true of Mao.)
Some of these claims hold more water than others, but it is of most interest to note that all the more theoretical (italicised) criticisms fall when one explores the question more deeply. Thus, the closeness of thought, in addition to a lack of fundamental theoretical disagreements, means the only valid conclusion is that Stalin and Mao had specific disagreements instead of general theoretical ones.
The Chinese Revolution
One of the more serious feuds between the 2 were the diverging strategies both proposed for the Chinese revolution (Mao’s turned out to be correct). These quotes from Mao should help illustrate the situation:
“In 1945 Stalin attempted to hold back the progress of the Chinese revolution. He said that it was improper for us to fight a civil war and it was necessary for us to cooperate with Chiang Kai-shek. He even stated that otherwise the Chinese nation would perish. [Fortunately,] at that time we did not follow his instruction and won the revolution.”-Mao Zedog; Speech at the 10th Plenum of the 8th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (1962)
“They [the Soviets] did not permit China to make revolution: that was in 1945. Stalin wanted to prevent China from making a revolution, saying that we should not have a civil war and should cooperate with Chiang Kai-shek, otherwise the Chinese nation would perish. But we did not do what he said. The revolution was victorious.” -Mao Zedong; Speech at the Tenth Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee of the CPC (1962)
It is clear then, that the birthplace of this debate between the two, lies not within any general theoretical disparity (not if the Proletariat should defeat the comprador Bourgeoisie), but a disparity concerning practical details (when are the conditions ripe for the proletariat defeating the comprador Bourgeoisie). This should be expected as different amounts of practical experience (Mao obviously having more and Stalin less).
While Stalin’s input is certainly to be appreciated, it must be handled with the knowledge that he did not have ample experience of Chinese conditions. This is what the CPC did, it is one of the reasons the CPC was victorious [they did not participate in dogmatism]
Stalin was also initially wary of the CPC, but eventually became confident in them after they had proven their genuinity (it must be understood that in this period of Yugoslavian revisionist betrayal, the USSR and world communist movement in general could not but embrace extreme caution)
“After the victory of the revolution he next suspected China of being a Yugoslavia, and that I would become a second Tito. Later, when I went to Moscow to sign the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance, we had to go through another struggle. He was not willing to sign a treaty. After two months of negotiations he at last signed. When did Stalin begin to have confidence in us? It was the time of the Resist America, Aid Korea campaign, from the winter of 1950. He then came to believe that we were not Tito, not Yugoslavia.” -Mao Zedong; Speech at the Tenth Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee of the CPC (1962)
[It is interesting to note that once Stalin was confronted with his mistakes, he admitted to them and apologized:
“Stalin felt that he had made mistakes in dealing with Chinese problems, and they were no small mistakes.”-Mao Zedong; Talk on Questions of Philosophy (1964)]
The Negation of the Negation and Marxism-Leninism
Note: The “negation” of a contradiction means to resolve a contradiction in so that a new contradiction is left after the original’s resolution. Eg. the negation of the capitalist contradiction results in Socialism, a system with its own contradictions (the distinction between mental and physical labour whose extinction has begun but not been completed yet ,the distinction between town and country whose extinction had begun but not been completed yet, etc). Thus the “negation of the negation” signifies that process by which an original contradiction Eg. the negation of the capitalist contradiction results in Socialism, whose new contradictions are negated once more, leading to Communism
Stalin omission of the supposed “law”of the negation of the negation from “the fundamental laws of dialectics” in his work Dialectical and Historical Materialism is sometimes excitedly pointed to by certain [non-practicing] comrades as a “fatal flaw”, a “grievous error” that is the root of Stalin’s “evil”, or his “idiocy and reactionism”, while other superficial comrades sustain that this was the fundamental “correction” of Mao, but this only serves to highlight their ignorance, and theoretical underdevelopment.
Let us be clear: the supposed “absoluteness” of this law is only a figment of the imagination of those comrades who lock themselves solely in books and who have not received the hardening blow of practice-experience. The second negation of the first negation can commence only if the conditions for this are there, only if the first negation has resulted in A. a new contradiction, and B. a contradiction whose resolution will produce an essential change, a new system. There are certain contradictions which when resolved will give way to a new contradiction, but it would be heresy to treat all contradictions as if they belong to this specific category. There are contradictions which when resolved will either not produce a new contradiction at all, or the new contradiction that is left will not give way to a further contradiction when resolved, and to deny that is an attitude that has no basis in reality, and actively stands in its opposition. To illustrate: while it is up for debate that Communism contains contradictions or not, none of these contradictions when resolved will lead to an essential-change in the system (Communism). Communism is the most advanced mode of production possible, it is the end of the road, there cannot be a negation of Communism and thus there cannot be a negation of the negation with Socialism.
As is evident, the “negation of the negation” is not a universal principle, the true universal principle is the law of “one divides into 2”. As long as a contradiction remains unresolved, any apparent unity is temporary, and struggle will ensue. One will divide into 2.
[It is clear that Stalin rejected the negation of the negation for the above exact reason. It must also be noted that Mao did also omit the “law” of the negation of the negation]
Stalin’s Dialectics & Mao’s Dialectics
Certain comrades are mistaken when they overblow the different fundamental dialectical outlooks both men had. Stalin believed the fundamental laws of dialectics were multiple (quantity becomes quality, the interconnectivity of everything in the universe, etc) while Mao thought they all stemmed out of, and could be simplified to the law of “the unity of opposites”. There is nothing fundamental about that.
It is quite ridiculous that certain comrades find all sorts of logical fallacies to avoid admitting this, trapping themselves in false reality and at all costs refusing. This represents the true danger of a personality cult.
Originally, I concluded that the developments of Mao Zedong constituted a fundamental rupture from Marxism-Leninism, but in the course of continuing writing this piece, probing deeper into the matter, I have come to reject that position.
It could be argued that the developments of Mao still present a rupture with Marxism-Leninism but that Stalin was one of the architects in this new doctrine, however, that position is faulty.
Marxism-Leninism was a break with Marxism because it provided an analysis of imperialism that was previously not present within Marxism (Marx and Engels did not live to the stage of Monopoly capitalism, it makes no sense to expect them to have an analysis for a world they did not see). The developments of Mao, while still being a much needed priceless expansion, do not amount to a rupture from Marxism-Leninism. The Marxist-Leninist landscape before Mao demonstrated not only an atomised perceptual understanding, but a general systematic understanding (as should be seen from the previous section, Stalin talks about 3/3 developments of Mao, and not only once, but somewhat extensively).
This is not to take away from Mao however, he was a complete genius and pioneer of Marxism-Leninism who provided weapons so powerful for the Proletariat and poor Peasantry of the world that almost all revolutionary movements embrace these weapons. Mao was a genius who crafted the most powerful weapons the world Proletariat and poor Peasantry have seen to date, an indispensable comrade who led the Chinese people out of the dark and into the light, and a masterful teacher of the world Proletariat. Nothing can change that
Mao is the 5th Head, march proudly under the red banner of Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought!
- Notice how Protracted People’s War” does not pertain to the universal developments of Mao. This is a discussion that is very complex, difficult, and practical, a task this piece is not up to. However, I would recommend Sison’s piece, On the Question of People’s War in the Industrial Countries
- A condition that we are forever enslaved to: humanity is doomed to repeat the cycle of periodically producing errors for the human mind will never be infallible
- Rational knowledge is that stage of theory/ knowledge which has probed deep into the essence of a thing, uncovered it, and is now able to apply these principles for its own purposes (within the bounds of what those principles themselves allow)
- Only after a certain stage did the Proletariat possess a large enough array of theory to correctly formulate a mature, fleshed out, analysis of the reality they found themselves in, and only after a certain stage did the Proletariat have a wide enough range of experience to correct its previous logical mistakes. It is for this reason that Marxism-Leninism appears in the history of the Proletariat only after a certain stage of their political and social development
- Mao here uses the concrete example of “ideas from the masses”, but what does it really mean to ask for the masses’ ideas? It is to call upon their experience (practice) for ideas carry the birthmark of experience (practice)
- A united leadership is important during a struggle, for a divided leadership adds one more enemy to the list
- Paraphrase of the famous Marx quote, “it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence that determines their consciousness.”
- This is not a single-generation problem, but a multi-generation one. The old generations are the teachers of the new generations after all.
- Some comrades contend if there were any genuine revisionists at all within the CPSU after the death of Stalin, claiming all the revisionists. That position is incorrect. There were both genuine Proletarian revisionists and agents of the Bourgeoisie within the post-Stalin CPSU, but the genuine Proletarian revisionist bloc always outnumbered the Bourgeois saboteurs, how else can the majority of the party support Khrushchev at one point, and Andropov at another?
- Initially, Stalin did not remain on the question of successful anti-imperialist struggle for long, as his principal task was the Bolshevik revolution, a revolution which concerned itself much less with imperialism than the Chinese revolution. However, once the socialist project in Russia was victorious, Stalin’s principal task became the world communist struggle, a struggle deeply intertwined with the anti-Imperialist struggle
- Excerpt from the famous Mao quote- “It is up to us to organize the people. As for the reactionaries in China, it is up to us to organize the people to overthrow them. Everything reactionary is the same; if you do not hit it, it will not fall. This is also like sweeping the floor; as a rule, where the broom does not reach, the dust will not vanish of itself.”
- Anton Donoso; Stalinism in Marxist philosophy (1979)
- I did not mention the concept of the role of the Superstructure under socialism because Mao to my knowledge does not have 1 defining work
- There can however be a negation of the negation with Capitalism, the counter-revolution can envelop the Socialist advance to Communism and regress a system back (Capitalism → Socialism → Capitalism), a process that is embodied in the history of Russia throughout the 20th century