New Communist Party of Britain
A free translation of part of a talk given in Brussels in 1992 on the counter-revolutionary role of the kulaks - the hated rural exploiters - after their land was collectivised, and the hidden hand which led to counter-revolution.
THE STRUGGLE against opportunism became particularly dangerous when Hitler came to power in Germany and when it became clear that war was inevitable.
The struggle inside the party became more and more complex after the assassination of Kirov in 1934. Krushchov and the anti-communists held Stalin responsible for Kirovs death. But even if the reasons for the assassination are not yet fully known, it is now recognised that Stalin was in no way involved.
Joseph Davies, a lawyer who was the US ambassador to the Soviet Union at the time, followed the course of the treason trials held in Moscow in 1937. It was a question, he said, of purging the army and its fifth column once war had become inevitable.
This purge affected a considerable number of people and led to a certain amount of confusion. It called into question the legitimacy of the socialist government.
As the purge has become the central focus of current anti-communist propaganda, I would like to dwell on it in more detail.
The executive committee of our United Association for Leninism and Communist Ideals adopted on 27 January 1991 a declaration entitled On the campaign for the rehabilitation of people condemned for crimes against the state during the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
In this declaration, we stated that the vocal campaign aimed at rehabilitating the victims of Stalinist repression was nothing more than one of the key elements of Gorbachovs perestroika.
The demagoguery of those leading this campaign exposed its social hypocrisy. In fact, the class struggle that took place during the period under examination involved considerable losses on both sides but the actions of that period are described by these elements as completely arbitrary and based on terror.
The facts concerning those people charged with crimes against the state have been taken out of their historical context and are being viewed through the lens of an entirely different period.
Instead, we must look at these problems dialectically, taking into consideration the class struggle as well as the crimes with which people were charged. Generally speaking the facts of the period are not presented in a systematic way, the goal being to get the tears flowing among those who have a negative attitude to our revolutionary past.
The Trotskyites, those who defend Zinoviev and Bukharin, have characterised those involved in the actions of this period as bloodthirsty wolves.
This is an obvious lie, one which doesnt need particular refutation because allegations of this kind have already been answered by thousands of documents and by eye-witnesses of the time.
The Central Committee of our Party has received hundreds of letters from different people who were the victims of the terror of the White Guard, the kulaks, the nationalists and other groups.
The actions undertaken in this period were led by careerists, profiteers, bureaucrats and intriguers people with no courage, people who wanted to see the old methods arise again from the ashes.
Their actions were those, in fact, of armchair revolutionaries the sort of people who had the ear of Gorbachov during the perestroika period and who are now listened to in the period of capitalist restoration which followed Gorbachov. We can mention names like those of the KGB general Kalugin, and Sterlingov, who investigated the activities of traitors during the 20s, 30s and 40s, and who were placed by Gorbachov at the head of the struggle against Stalinism.
A woman living in Siberia wrote a letter saying that her father had been denounced in the 1930s by a local police official identified by the citizens of the area where he lived as a former officer of Kolchaks White Guards [which fought the Red Army in the Civil War].
A week ago we also received a letter from a party veteran living in Nizhni-Novgorod.
He told us of various happenings at the beginning of the 1930s and wrote about the events which have become known as self-dekulakisation.
It must be said that the rich peasants, the kulaks, had no interest in co-operating with the Soviet authorities and they harboured a genuine hatred towards the collective farms. When the kulaks were liquidated as a class they were transfered to the urban areas. But they often left their land and arrived in towns where they were under no obligation to be and, indeed, had not been invited. There were hundreds of thousands of cases of this. Little importance was attributed to this phenomenon at the time.
During the five-year plans and the building of the collective farm system, these people went into the factories and the mines, where they tried different methods of gaining power.
They infiltrated the Party, the NKVD (Commissariat for Internal Affairs) and also a number of scientific establishments. They succeeded to a certain extent in spreading their anti-Soviet hatred. They tried hard, as in a game of chess, to put their pawns in place and this on an almost hereditary basis.
As a notable example, we have Dimitri Vokogonov, the former deputy head of the Soviet Armys political department. Hes now Yeltsins chief military advisor and hes still reportedly looking into the death of his father as a result of dekulakisation.
Numerous lies have been spread as part of the inquiries that have been undertaken and numerous people have attacked the ideas of Lenin, Stalin and communism itself in their personal memoirs.
Professor Vokogonov has declared that he was at first a Stalinist, then a Leninist, then a self-styled anti-Communist and a victim of dekulakisation. A nephew of Stalin, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, who is a colonel teaching at the Moscow military academy, explained to me how, after sitting his exams in Marxism-Leninism, Vokogonov launched an unfounded personal attack on him just because he was Stalins nephew.
The writer of a letter sent to us from Nizhni-Novgorod gives the example of one of his neighbours, a retired colonel. This man whose father was himself a victim of dekulakisation was transferred from his factory to the NKVD headquarters, where he rose to the rank of major. This former Chekist has now departed from Lenin, Stalin and the Soviet system and is demanding an end to the collective and state farms.
Wasnt it Chekists like this who started the campaign to uncover and eliminate spies in the collective farms to publicise their own exploits?
How many people of this sort were running around spreading all sorts of disinformation in the country? They were just paying off old scores. They got their revenge, and now thats being characterised as communist terror.
And how many of these people were subject to repressive measures after the Central Committee plenum in 1939 when the organs of the party began to analyse activities of this kind?
Former NKVD ministers Yagoda and Yezhov were called to account for their activities, and they were shot. It was people like them who decided the freedom or death of thousands of individuals.
But it wasnt just innocent victims who died in this period of vengeance, even though the laws of the time didnt yet sufficiently respond to Soviet realities, to the class struggle.
There were also the guilty, and today the enemies of socialism Yeltsin & Co are rehabilitating everyone, including the Whites and the fascists.
This rehabilitation, the zero option, is aimed at denying the existence of a class struggle, at discrediting the idea of defending the interests of the working class and encouraging revisionist theories that can only serve the counter revolution.
All were waiting for now is for someone to say that Hitler was one of the victims of Stalinist repression!
Our party of Bolsheviks holds that we should be able to speak freely of those people who fought for socialism and who paid with their lives, who became victims because of the conspiracies operating in that era.
We are against the rehabilitation of those people, though, who collaborated with traitors and spies. They can never be forgiven.
A wise man warned that saying good things about treason can only lead to misfortune.
We often receive letters from people who have been in prison. They say that, according to the democrats and their newspapers, only the innocent were to be found in the camps. But this is just not true.
There were enemies of the Soviet state, convinced opponents of Soviet power who continued their subversive activities even in the camps.
The author of one letter says that he was in prison for wholly justifiable reasons.
Another victim of Stalinist repression recently came to see us at the offices of our newspaper and said that he had been in prison for killing his wife not as a result of political crimes. He has now been rehabilitated as part of our current leaders bid to extend the base of support for their restoration of capitalism.
But, in the 1930s, the quiet counter-revolution centred around opportunist elements in the party found no support among the people.
International capital had to place its hopes on military action.
The western countries encouraged Hitler into declaring war on the Soviet Union.
In the process, the borders of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, France and Yugoslavia were all violated.
On the eve of the Second World War, Stalin and Molotov signed a non-aggression treaty with Germany thereby gaining a year and a half of peace.
In Europe, Stalin is now accused of having reached an accord with Hitler, but this is untrue.
The Soviet Union was merely preparing its defence against the next act of aggression.
On 22 June 1941, the Germans finally began their attack. For the Red Army there were losses. But it has to be remembered that these first battles won us two weeks in which to deploy our troops around Smolensk, Kiev, Odessa and Murmansk.
This deployment in turn gained us a further four or five weeks of precious time, without which we would not have been able to win later on.
The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which is nowadays criticised from all sides, helped us to acquire new allies who, in 1939, were not ready to unite with us.
Thanks to this treaty, world imperialism was not able to create an anti-Soviet coalition even though Hitlers aggression was supported by Italy, Romania, Hungary, Finland and Spain.
Militarist Japan decided not to declare war on the Soviet Union. This was a great victory for Soviet diplomacy, one which prevented a war on two fronts.
When war did come, victory was ours. And Stalin, for us, will always remain a great leader of the Soviet armed forces, the man who made our victory possible.
The attempt to put paid to socialism had not succeeded, and so the quiet counter-revolution took the field again during the cold war and during the period of détente.
Todays anti-Communists can say what they please, but, despite the fact that the material standards of its people were not on the same level as those in the West the Soviet Union built the weapons and the missiles which prevented the outbreak of a Third World War.
In spite of all the problems that the Soviet Union faced during this period, the millions of Soviet citizens were sure of their future. The courage that the Soviet people had shown in combat against the enemy, their sense of initiative and their readiness to accept risks these remained the traits of a people building a new world. The authority of the Bolshevik Party and of Stalin was enormous.
At the same time we cannot forget that the Second World War brought with it inestimable material losses. The best members of the party perished in the war some three million of the most active communists.
The war made it necessary for the Soviet people to start occupying itself with the immediate needs of the people. In the first decade after the Soviet victory, the socialist authorities addressed the countrys economic needs achieving stable levels of production. The Soviet Union sent a man into space and developed the peaceful use of nuclear power.
In the 1950s, the country was ranked first in the world in terms of industrial output, and second in terms of labour productivity. It was these changes which determined the role of the Soviet Union during this period.
There was talk of the Russian miracle and the authority of Stalin became even greater.
Everyone spoke about Stalin, and the countrys successes were all linked with his name.
But in the 1950s, new and difficult problems of economic development began to emerge: problems involving management and planning.
During the first five-year plans, quotas were set on a quantitative basis. Now however, the question arose as to the quality of the goods produced.
The expansion of the state-planning organisation, Gosplan, was not enough to assure the necessary level of development.
In recent decades, the computerisation of state planning has allowed significant results to be achieved but, in the 1950s, similar gains were not registered.
Secondly, while the minister in charge of a number of enterprises used to be able to manage them personally or with the assistance of his vice-ministers there had emerged by the 1950s too many enterprises for them to be effectively run from the centre.
For this reason, control of the various enterprises had become very weak.
Even Stalin, as head of the Government, was in a position of having to sign not individual decrees but whole lists of directions!
Thirdly, under conditions of rapid scientific and technological progress, it was necessary for enterprises to be able to better adapt. Yet a system of public expenditure was adopted whereby increased production was based on the construction of additional factories and workshops rather than on the modification of existing ones.
In the 1980s, this mechanism was to become one of the main fetters on the development of productive forces.
Then arose the question of political economy, with theory no longer corresponding to the reality of the situation.
The extent to which the workers had become directly interested in the results of their labour had improved but the question remained as to whether financial considerations remain valid under socialism.
This is a problem that has long been debated among Marxists. In principle Marxists do not accept market relations, which must be replaced by natural exchange.
But the question is: at what point should the change-over from one to the other take place? Right a way after the seizure of state power, or at some later stage in the transition towards communism?
The New Economic Policy, beginning in 1921, begged the question altogether.
At that point, we returned to the capitalist market, to private property.
There was talk of the restoration of capitalism itself.
The second year of NEP forced everyone to ponder the question as to whether the capitalist market is still needed in a country in transition to socialism.
I think that Lenin saw the radical change represented by the NEP as a temporary measure on the road to socialism.
But Gorbachov and the followers of perestroika were able to use it as a historical precedent justifying their embarking on the transition to a capitalist market.
The beginnings of a solution to the problem of the market were put forward by Stalin in 1952, in his book Economic problems of Socialism in the USSR.
Production and exchange are governed by the law of value under socialism, but not so the means of production themselves.
In this way, it was recognised that the fruits of labour would be distributed according to work, not capital.
More recently in the process of restoring capitalism, Gorbachov and Yeltsin have resurrected the capitalist market with the necessary accompaniments of private property, exploitation, impoverishment of the workers, and selling the countrys economy to the International Monetary Fund.
After the death of Stalin his Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR was criticised and withdrawn from bookshops and libraries.
But the problems that he discussed remained.
The post-Stalin changes threw the country into a crisis and, if under Stalin the discussion was all about reducing production costs and improving labour productivity, Krushchov and Brezhnev busied themselves with the question of profit.
Prices can only be lowered by using new technology and, when people started talking about profit, this opened the road to all sorts of manipulation and profiteering in Soviet society.
For example, a factory produces a glass and prices it at a rouble. If a flower is drawn on the glass, it fetches four times the original price.
Drawing a flower is not difficult for the factory. No new technology is involved and its not necessary to increase productivity. In other words, profits can be generated without using the results of scientific progress.
In the Soviet Union, during the Krushchov and Brezhnev reforms, fewer consumer goods were produced to satisfy the workers needs but the quest for profits was on.
This orientation led to a slowdown in economic development and to a devaluation of the rouble.
Prices were not lowered, as had happened annually during Stalins time. In fact the process of price increases was already beginning.
And there was a slowdown in the improvement of labour productivity. It was all these factors which determined the results of the competition between capitalism and socialism in the historical arena. The ideological complement of these negative processes was the anti-Stalin critique, which began after the 20th Communist Party Congress.