A Purely Political Debate
What did Vladimir (Ilyich Ulyanov) Lenin think of Joseph Stalin? This is basically a Political Debate of the 20th Century, which still seems to be quite relevant…
When he was bed-ridden, Lenin had reportedly sent a letter to his Party on December 25, 1922, in which one could find his brief assessment of Stalin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin as well. On Stalin, he was heard mentioning: “I am not sure that he always knows how to use power with sufficient care.” He also warned the Party about Trotsky’s ‘Non-Bolshevism‘, terming Zinoviev and Kamenev’s betrayal during the October Revolution as “not accidental“, as well… According to Lenin, Bukharin’s thoughts were not fully ‘Marxist’. The Father of Bolshevik Revolution, again, sent a note to the Party on March 5, 1923, mentioning that Stalin was a rude person and he should be replaced by someone else as General Secretary (of the Party).
From these two letters, it becomes clear that Trotsky was not fully Marxist, while Zinoviev and Kamenev were betrayers. However, Lenin had not made any negative comment on Stalin’s political position, ideology and his loyalty to the Revolution, apart from saying that the latter was rude (just a behavioural error). Therefore, Lenin’s Testament gave a clean chit to Stalin…
Lenin’s sister Maria Ulyanova, too, discussed Lenin’s relationship with Stalin, especially from 1917 to 1924. She wrote that Lenin refused to meet Central Committee leaders during his final days mainly because of health-related issues. However, he used to eagerly wait for Stalin, who visited the former on a regular basis.
Communists are of the opinion that Stalin transformed the erstwhile Soviet Union from a backward Agrarian country to a modern industrialised one on the basis of the path shown by Lenin. They also claim that there was no unemployment, no prostitution, no child labour, as it was the State’s responsibility to provide jobs to citizens. In Soviet, everybody reportedly enjoyed the health facilities… and even, the social status of women was very high.
According to a section of Communists, Stalin was Lenin’s close companion in the war against the Revisionists! They accuse the Revisionists of distorting Lenin’s views on different issues. And, Stalin rescued the essence of Lenin’s revolutionary thoughts, defeating the Revisionists. In a letter to Maxim Gorky, Lenin wrote that only Stalin could resolve critical political problems and could safeguard the Politburo. The Communists further argue that Stalin got just seven years to rebuild the Soviet after the Second World War, and he successfully managed to establish the Soviet Union as a Super Power during that period. During the 13th Party Congress (after Lenin’s demise), Stalin wanted to resign from the post of the General Secretary. However, other members of the Politburo requested him to lead the Party.
Meanwhile, some of the Russian Communists had accepted the fact that Lenin got involved in arguments with Stalin on a number of issues in the last few months of his active political life. Lenin did not accept Stalin’s views on protecting the exclusive rights of the State in foreign trade, formation of the Soviet Union on the basis of equality of all Russian nationalities etc. Lenin was well aware of the fact that Stalin wanted to establish a greater Russian hegemony over other nationalities during the formation of the Soviet Union. That is why, he termed Stalin a ‘Georgian Nationalist’, stating in a note (dated December 31, 1922) that the latter was trying to destroy the Proletarian Unity.
During a Central Committee Meeting on May 22, 1924 ahead of the 13th Party Congress, Nadezhda Krupskaya (Lenin’s wife) had told the Party leaders that he would like to read out Lenin’s note during the Congress. However, Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev rejected Krupskaya’s proposal, saying that it would be read out separately to the leadership of each regional Party delegation, and no one could take notes of it! In fact, excerpts from Lenin’s notes were published in a bulletin of the 15th Party Congress in 1927. As expected, Lenin’s proposal to remove Stalin from the post of General Secretary was censored. In spite of abolishing the Office of General Secretary in 1952, Stalin continued to exercise its powers as the Secretariat’s highest-ranking member. Lenin’s full note was first published in 1956 (after Stalin’s death)!
Political experts believe that Stalin’s Soviet distanced itself from Marxist ideologies. According to them, Stalin successfully established ‘State Capitalism’ in the name of Socialism. It is to be noted that the Bolsheviks signed a Peace Accord, popularly known as the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, with Germany on March 3, 1918. Defending the Treaty, Lenin later said: “We took advantage of the hostility between the two imperialist powers in such a way that in the long run both lost.” People hardly find the presence of ideology in this statement.
Lenin’s natural successor Trotsky, too, signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact – a non-aggression pact between Soviet Union and Nazi Germany that enabled those two powers to divide-up Poland between them – on August 23, 1939. Stalin, who was also present at that time, reportedly signed a ‘secret’ treaty with the Germans in order to stamp Soviet Authority on the Baltic Nations. Germany captured Poland, while the Soviet took control of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia on the basis of these treaties just before the Second World War! Stalin also used Naval and Air Forces on November 30, 1939 to teach a lesson to stubborn Finland. The tiny nation resisted the Soviet Army for nearly three months before signing a peace treaty.
On February 11, 1940, the Pravda daily wrote that industrially developed Soviet would supply raw materials to Berlin in order to boost the German Economy. Both the Soviet Union and Germany made a serious attempt to establish their hegemonies in the European nations. Till June 1941, everything was going fine. The Führer made a mistake by invading the Soviet Union as he was reluctant to pay the high price demanded by Moscow to be the fourth member of the Axis Powers. Then, the Kremlin realised how ‘bad’ the Nazis were. Stalin wanted to boost the Soviet economy by exploiting other nations. Ultimately, the people of East European countries had to pay the price. During the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Stalin, his US counterpart Franklin Delano Roosevelt and then British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill were engaged in an imperialist conspiracy to divide the world!
Lenin, himself, reportedly got thousands of Kulaks killed, as he admitted that Bolsheviks had no other option but to use terror for their own survival. Stalin, too, eliminated millions of Russians with the help of three Moscow Trials. In 1992, American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic and political activist Noam Chomsky stressed: “I was also anti Leninist, because Stalinist crimes had their origin in Leninist authoritarianism.“
Even, Stalin’s successor Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev revealed what his predecessor had killed many people. In their publication ‘Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service’ (Jaico Publishing House; ISBN 978-81-8495-845-4; pp 388), Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal wrote: “… Khrushchev, the almighty Secretary General of the Soviet Communist Party, had delivered a speech at the Party’s 20th Congress on February 25, 1956 in the Kremlin. Shortly before Midnight, all foreign guests and heads of foreign Communist Parties were asked to leave the hall. At Midnight, Khrushchev took the podium and spoke to the 1400 Soviet delegates. His speech was said to be a surprise and a terrible shock for everyone present.”
Bar-Zohar and Mishal continued: “But what had he said? According to an American journalist who dispatched the first report to the West, the speech had lasted for four hours, and Khrushchev had described in detail the terrible crimes of the man-worshipped by millions of Communists – Stalin. Khrushchev, rumour had it, had accused Stalin of the massacre of millions. Some whispered that while listening to the speech many delegates cried and pulled out their hair in despair; some fainted or suffered heart attacks; at least two committed suicide after that night.”
The authors further wrote: “But not a word about Khrushchev’s revelations was published by the Soviet media. Rumours circulated through Moscow, and some passages of the speech were read in closed sessions of the Party’s supreme bodies. But, the full text of the speech was guarded, as if it were a State Secret… It was estimated that the publication of the text, at the height of the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Bloc, could generate a political earthquake in the Communist countries and trigger an unprecedented crisis. Hundreds of millions of Communists, inside and outside Russia, blindly worshipped Stalin. The exposure of his crimes could destroy their faith and perhaps even cause the collapse of the Soviet Union.” (pp. 51-52)
Meanwhile, Grover Furr, in his publication ‘Khrushchev Lied’, clearly mentioned that not a single one of Khrushchev’s “revelations” (of Stalin’s and Beria’s crimes) during the infamous Secret Speech to the 20th Party Congress was true! The author came to this conclusion after spending a decade studying the flood of documents from formerly secret Soviet archives published since the fall of the USSR. Whatever may be… one can never deny the fact that Stalin is an important historical figure. However, Hero Worship could not be acceptable. At least, the Marxists can’t do that!
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