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    Stalin's legacy discussed, debated


    The Red and Black
    • Vol. 1
    • Iss. 9

    Prompted by a question posed by comrade member Anarkhist kyrylashka, the comrade members of The Internationale have engaged in a fruitful discussion and debate over the contributions (or betrayals) and crimes (or unfortunate side-effects) of Joseph Stalin, who served as the Soviet Union's leader in his position as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

    The original question posed was, "What do you guys think of Stalinism? I can't exactly wrap my head around the thinking of Stalinism and how it is to achieve communism." Responses to the question came from across The Internationale's leftist spectrum, from anarchists to Trotskyists and Marxist-Leninists to syndicalists.

    Laspea summarized Stalin's era of leadership, saying "Stalinism was a reaction to the specific material conditions of the USSR during Stalin's time, especially during the 1930s—specifically, how to transform the fledgling USSR from an illiterate, backward peasant society into a literate industrial superpower that was capable of standing on its own."

    United gender terrorists took a nuanced stance. "The characterization of Stalin's leadership as a betrayal of the revolution and of Leninism is appropriate. Stalinism shouldn't be dismissed as not communist and/or Marxist. In the end, while Stalin's policies and legacy were in effect anti-communist, amounting to a betrayal of the October Revolution, it should be understood that there is an important distinction to be made: not truly communist vs. a certain kind of failed communist. It's not that Stalin wasn't really a Marxist or wasn't really a communist, rather, he really was both, and what lead to his paranoid purges of the nomenklatura, the show trials, etc., was the result of his failure to, his betrayal of the October Revolution. I am decidedly not saying is that Stalinism is somehow the inevitable result of Marxism or of communist revolution - and, at the same time, it's important to understand that Stalinism is a specifically communist failure."

    Opinions on Stalin as a man were generally negative, with several comrades chiming in to state their disapproval either of the man—citing his paranoia or racist and homophobic tendencies—or of his ideology, with the concept of "socialism in one country," the major theoretical contribution of Stalin to the Marxist-Leninist tradition, being dismissed by several comrades as revisionist. Stalin's essay "Marxism and the National Question" drew ire from Revolutionary germany, who said of the work "I take it we're going to see some more ethnic famines and deportations then right? Because those are what Stalin really contributed to the 'national question.'"

    Despite the criticism, not all comments were critical of Stalin or his theoretical contributions. "Stalin's work on the National Question is the basis on which socialist support for national liberation movements was won throughout the world. The Maoists in Nepal, the Philippines and India are waging guerrilla war against their governments and supporting Stalin at the same time as well," said Quailtopia, who added, "It's worth noting that the only place revolution has consistently failed, the US and western Europe, are also the only places where the concept of learning from Stalin is categorically laughed at by the majority of the left."

    One area where some comrades were able to find common ground was in crediting Stalin with the transformation of the USSR into an industrialized superpower—although his critics suggested that this "only meant that the USSR had become more capitalist!"

    While there is no doubt that the debate—which is still continuing as of this publication—will not magically bridge the decades-old divide between supporters of Stalin's program and his critics, it is at least good for comrades to engage in honest debate with one another about these matters with an eye toward ensuring that the failures of the socialists of yesterday are not made by the revolutionaries of tomorrow.


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