August 26, 2017

Stalin against the future Khrushchevism

Did Stalin know of the intrigues that the revisionists around him were preparing?

The main report presented by Malenkov to the Nineteenth Congress in October 1952, along with Stalin's book Economic Problems of Socialism, published on the same occasion, showed that Stalin was convinced that a new struggle against opportunism and a new purge of the Party had become necessary.

Malenkov's report had Stalin's brand. It defended the revolutionary ideas that would be dismantled four years later by Khrushchev and Mikoyan. It virulently criticized a number of negative tendencies in the economy and in the life of the Party, tendencies that would be imposed in 1956 by Khrushchevian revisionism.

First, recalling the 1937--1938 Purge, Malenkov noted:

`In the light of the war and its results, we perceive in all its magnitude the importance of that implacable struggle which over a period of many years our Party waged against every brand of enemy of Marxism-Leninism --- the Trotskyite and Bukharinite degenerates, the capitulators and traitors who tried to deflect the Party from the right path and to split its ranks .... By demolishing the Trotskyite and Bukharinite underground ..., the Party in good time destroyed all possibility of the appearance of a ``fifth column'' in the U.S.S.R., and prepared the country politically for active defence. It will be easily understood that if this had not been done in time, we should, during the war, have found ourselves under fire from the front and the rear, and might have lost the war.'

Malenkov, op. cit. , pp. 108--109.

Four years later, Khrushchev would deny that the Trotskyists and the Bukharinists had degenerated to the point of defending a social-democratic and bourgeois platform, as he would deny that some among them had made contacts with hostile foreign forces. Khrushchev then invented the theory according to which socialism had definitely triumphed in 1936 and there was no longer a social basis for treason, nor for capitalist restoration! Here are the main declarations:

`(T)he Soviet state was strengthened, ... the exploiting classes were already liquidated and socialist relations were rooted solidly in all phases of national economy'.


Khrushchev, Special Report, op. cit. , p. S17.

`(S)ocialism in our country was fundamentally constructed, ... the exploiting classes were generally liquidated, ... the Soviet social structure had radically changed, ... the social basis for political movements and groups hostile to the party had violently contracted'.


Ibid. , p. S15.

Khrushchev concluded that the Purge was an arbitrary act that was in no way justified, thereby rehabilitating the political positions of the opportunists and the enemies of socialism.

In his Report to the XIXth Congress, Malenkov underscored four major weaknesses of the Party. It was precisely those weaknesses that Khrushchev would use four years later to achieve his revisionist coup.

Malenkov underscored that many bureaucratized cadres refused criticism and control from their base, and were formalist and uncaring:

`Not in all Party organizations, and nowhere by any means in full measure, have self-criticism, and especially criticism from below become the principal method of disclosing and overcoming our errors and shortcomings, our weaknesses and maladies ....

`There are cases when people are persecuted and victimized for criticism. We still meet with responsible workers who never tire of professing their fidelity to the Party, but who actually cannot tolerate criticism from below, stifle it, and revenge themselves on those who criticize them. We know of plenty of cases where a bureaucratic attitude towards criticism and self-criticism has ... killed ... initiative ... and infected some of the organizations with the anti-Party habits of bureaucrats, sworn enemies of the Party.

`(W)herever ... control by the masses over the activities of organizations and institutions is weakened, there ... bureaucracy and degeneration, and even the corruption of individual sections of the Party apparatus, invariably appear ....

`(A)chievement has bred in the ranks of the Party a tendency to self-satisfaction, to make a pretence of all being well, a spirit of smug complacency, a desire on the part of people to rest on their laurels and to live on the capital of their past services .... Leaders ... not infrequently turn meetings, gatherings of active members, plenary meetings and conferences into vainglorious displays, into occasions of self-laudation, with the result that errors and shortcomings in work, maladies and weaknesses are not brought to light and subjected to criticism .... A spirit of negligenge has penetrated our Party organizations.'


Malenkov, op. cit. , pp. 113--116.

This was a recurrent theme in Stalin's work of the thirties: appeals to the base so that it criticizes and controls the bureaucrats who are looking for the quiet life, who repress the active members, are uncaring and behave as enemies of Communism. This text leaves one to wonder about the torrent of criticisms that Stalin wanted once again to raise against the revisionists.

Four years later, when Khrushchev denounced the `insecurity, fear and despair' that supposedly reigned under Stalin, he promised to the bureaucratic and opportunistic elements that he could now doze in tranquility. They would no longer be `persecuted' by the `leftist' criticisms from the base. Self-satisfaction and the tranquil life would be the principal characteristics of the revisionist bureaucracy that definitely took power under Khrushchev.

Second, Malenkov, denounced the Communists who ignored Party discipline and behaved as owners:

`A formal attitude to decisions of Party and government, and passivity in carrying them out, is a vice that must be eradicated with the utmost ruthlessness. The Party does not need inert and indifferent executives who prize their own comfort higher than the interests of the work; it needs men who will fight indefatigably and devotedly ....

`There are quite a number of executives who forget that the enterprises to their charge are state enterprises, and try to turn them into their own private domain, where ... they ... can do anything they fancy .... there are quite a number of executives who believe that Party decisions and Soviet laws are not written for them ....

`Anyone who attempts to conceal the truth from the Party and to deceive the Party cannot be allowed to remain in its ranks.'

Ibid. , pp. 119--121.

Those that Malenkov denounced in this passage would soon find Khrushchev to be their representative. Khrushchev became the spokesperson for the bureaucrats when he criticized the `excessive replacement of cadres'.

Khrushchev, `Central Committee Report', The Documentary Record of the 20th Communist Party Congress and its Aftermath (New York: Frederick A. Praeger), p. 58.

Malenkov's text allows us to better understand what was really going on in Khrushchev's diatribes against Stalin. Stalin had, he said, `abandoned the method of ideological struggle'; using the expression `enemy of the people', Stalin systematically had recourse to `mass repressions and terror'.

Khrushchev, `Secret Report', op. cit. , pp. S14--S15.

These phrases were designed to ensure the position of those who had been attacked in Malenkov's text, those who made State enterprises into their own personal fiefdoms, those who hid the truth from the Party so that they could steal and redirect without punishment, those who blathered on with `Marxist-Leninist' phrases without the slightest intention of adhering to them. With Khrushchev, all those who aspired to become real bourgeois no longer had to fear the `mass repressions and terror' of the socialist power.

Third, Malenkov attacked those cadres who formed clans not subject to any control and that enriched themselves illegally:

`(S)ome officials themselves engage in filching collective-farm property .... these men convert to their own use common land, compel collective-farm boards and chairmen to supply them with grain, meat, milk and other produce at low prices, and even gratis'.

Malenkov, op. cit. , p. 76.

`(S)ome of our executives do not base their selection of personnel on political and business qualifications, but on considerations of kinship, friendship and hometown ties .... Owing to such distortions of the Party line in the matter of selection and promotion of personnel, we get in some organizations close coteries who constitute themselves into a mutual insurance society and set their group interests higher than the interests of Party and state. It is not surprising that such a state of affairs usually results in degeneration and corruption.'

Ibid. , p. 124.

`An unscrupulous and irresponsible attitude towards the carrying out of the directives of leading bodies is the most dangerous and vicious manifestation of bureaucracy.'

Ibid. , p. 122.

`(T)he primary purpose of verification of fulfilment is to disclose shortcomings, to expose infringement of law, to help honest executives with advice, to punish the incorrigible'.

Ibid. , pp. 125--126.

Under Khrushchev, cadres would no longer be chosen for having the best political qualities. On the contrary, those would be `purged' for being `Stalinist'. Bourgeois circles would form around Beria, Khrushchev, Mikoyan and Brezhnev, circles completely estranged from revolutionary, popular action, exactly as Malenkov described. Stalin would no longer be there to `punish the unrepentant', but the unrepentant would now punish the real Communists.

Finally, Malenkov criticized the cadres that neglected their ideological work, allowing bourgeois tendencies to emerge once again and become the dominant ideologies:

`Many Party organizations underrate the importance of ideological work, with the result that it falls short of the Party's requirements, and in many organizations is in a state of neglect ....

`(I)f the influence of socialist ideology is weakened the effect is to strengthen the influence of the bourgeois ideology ....

`(W)e still have vestiges of the bourgeois ideology, relics of the private-property mentality and morality. These relics ... are very tenacious and may strengthen their hold, and a determined struggle must be waged against them. Nor are we guaranteed against the infiltration of alien views, ideas and sentiments from outside, from the capitalist countries, or from inside, from the relics of groups hostile to the Soviet state ....'

Ibid. , pp. 126--127.

`Whoever ... relies upon formulas learned by rote, and has no feeling for the new, is incapable of understanding home and foreign affairs'.

Ibid. , p. 128.

`Some of our Party organizations tend to devote all their attention to economic affairs and to forget ideological matters .... Whenever attention to ideological questions is relaxed, a favourable soil is created for the revival of views and ideas hostile to us. If there are sectors of ideological work which for any reason fall out of the purview of Party organizations, if there are sectors in which Party leadership and influence have slackened, alien elements, the remnants of anti-Leninist groups smashed by the Party, will try to get hold of these sectors'.

Ibid. , p. 127.

Khrushchev would empty Leninism of its content, transforming it into a series of slogans with no revolutionary spirit. The resulting vacuum drew in all the old social-democratic and bourgeois ideologies, that would be taken up by the youth. Furthermore, Khrushchev would falsify or simply eliminate the essential notions of Marxism-Leninism: anti-imperialist struggle, socialist revolution, dictatorship of the proletariat, continuing the class struggle, basic concepts of a Leninist Party, etc. When he spoke of `Marxist education', he proposed the opposite to Malenkov:

`It must be admitted that for many years our Party cadres were insufficiently indoctrinated in the ... practical problems of economic construction.'

Khrushchev, `Central Committee Report', op. cit. , p. 57.

By rehabilitating opportunists and enemies who had been purged, Khrushchev allowed the resurrection of social-democratic, bourgeois and Tsarist ideological currents.

During the plenum that followed the Nineteenth Congress, Stalin was even harsher in his criticisms of Mikoyan, Molotov and Voroshilov; he almost openly clashed with Beria. All the leaders understood perfectly well that Stalin insisted upon a radical change of course. Khrushchev clearly understood the message and, like the others, made himself very scarce:

`Stalin evidently had plans to finish off the old members of the Political Bureau. He often stated that the Political Bureau members should be replaced by new ones.

`His proposal, after the 19th Congress, concerning the election of 25 persons to the Central Committee Presidium, was aimed at the removal of the old Political Bureau members and the bringing in of less experienced persons ....

`We can assume that this was also a design for the future annihilation of the old Political Bureau members and, in this way, a cover for all shameful acts of Stalin.'
Khrushchev, `Secret Report', op. cit. , p. S63.

At the time, Stalin was a old man, tired and sick. He acted with caution. Having made the conclusion that the members of the Politburo were no longer trustworthy, he introduced more revolutionary minded youth to the presidium, in order to temper and test them. The revisionists and plotters like Khrushchev, Beria and Mikoyan knew that they would soon lose their positions.

Still according to Khrushchev, Stalin is to have said to the members of the Politburo, after the Doctor's Plot in the end of 1952:

`You are blind like young kittens; what will happen without me? The country will perish because you do not know how to recognize enemies.'

Ibid. , p. S49.

Khrushchev put forward that statement as proof of Stalin's folly and paranoia. But history has shown that the comment was correct.

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