Currently six volumes of an expected forty volume edition of the ‘Works’ of Stalin have been published in Russian in Russia. They follow upon the publication of volumes 14 to 18 (in more than eight volumes) in the period 1997 to 2012. The editor of these volumes here discusses the initial few tomes which have come out after 2013.
The Khlebnikov Workers University launched a multivolume edition of “Stalin Works” which includes thousands of previously unpublished archival texts. This publication is intended to fill the vacuum in terms of reference source that, on the one hand, does not allow a thoughtful, interested reader to form a self-dependent, justified opinion about the Soviet era and its leadership while, on the other, being so beneficial to all kinds of myth-makers and lampoonists, bureaucrats and public ‘de-stalinizers’ who build questionable scientific reputations and undoubted wealth upon lies about our great past.
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2012 was extremely rich in significant dates from our motherland’s history. This includes the 1150th anniversary of the legendary calling of Rurik on Russian reign (862) and the 400th anniversary of the liberation of Moscow from Polish intervention and Boyars’ treason (7-8 November 1612). It also includes the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino and the expulsion of Napoleon from Russia (1812). And, although a century has passed, the motherland’s wounds of the Lena Massacre (April 4, 1912), which revived the protest movement of 1905-1907 and served as one of the initial pulses of 1917 February and October revolutions, still hurt. Thus addressing the milestones of the already modern political history, we should mention the 100th anniversary of the Prague Conference of the RSDWP which initiated an independent organizational existence of the Leninist Bolshevik party (January 1912), and its organ, the newspaper “Pravda” (May 5, 1912).
One has not forgotten the 90th anniversary of the election, on the initiative of VI. Lenin, of I.V. Stalin as the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the RCP (B) (April 1922) and, of course, one should not forget the 60th anniversary of his work “Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR” (1952) and the XIXth Congress of the VKP(b)-CPSU (1952) which accepted this work as a programme document. Accepted, but not organically assimilated, and without providing for any consistent practical implementation of that work’s ideas, for their creative development which alone could consolidate the already achieved proud position of the Soviet power and bring multifaceted improvement to people’s welfare.
Also, the memory and conscience of true patriots cannot be untouched by the dates that can only be spoken of with chills of disgust and shame. Those are the 50th anniversary of Khrushchev’s shooting of workers in Novocherkassk (June 1962) and the 20th anniversary of the Constitutional Court litigation against the CPSU (May – November 1992), which culminated logically in another, Yeltsin’s, shooting of the constitutional power of the working people – the Soviets – in October 1993. Truly, Pushkin was right: genius is a friend of paradoxes. The genius of Russian and its fraternal peoples is immensely endowed with this ability to transform existing things “into their opposites”: to trample hard-won values, or to come back from a seemingly hopeless situation into a position which is brilliant and until recently unconceivable. This is both the recognition of facts and the hint towards possibility of an outstanding future self-irony of the Russian society.
The generations of “Stalin’s era” have already gone from life; even those who touched upon it in their youth, have entered the postretirement, declining age. New politics is characterized by particular activity of the “career” youth that shuns materialist dialectics and scientific socialism, prefers pseudo-religious fashion-mongering and liberal commercial “values” and order, and cannot even admit a thought that their fathers and grandfathers, who endured the Civil (1918-1922) and Patriotic (1941-1945) wars, the construction of an early form of socialism as a working people’s formation, could be right in the main or in something. These “activists”, however, are as unfree from vanity (futility) as they are far from understanding of what the historical rightness is.
After the Great Victory of 1945, and especially after the death of its main “superintendent” J. V Stalin, the vanguard of the People, the Communist Party, having lost much of its educated and ideological staff in the War, was unable to compensate for this damage and to extinguish pockets of bourgeois-bureaucratic regeneration in its own ranks; while Stalin and his followers, being entirely occupied with the problems of post-war reconstruction, did not have time to provide for a healthy, fully rejuvenated continuity in the upper power strata. This is, of course, an incomplete but somewhat convincing explanation of why the country, at the peak of its global power and authority, suddenly saw the outbreak of Khrushchev’s reaction and shameless anti-Stalin campaign (perceived by some people as a “spring thaw”), followed by the “season of bad roads” in ideological and political terms, and in the end by the blossoms of free- market anti-Sovietism, dismemberment of the USSR and restoration of capitalism.
The book in front of you is the beginning of a self-publishing initiative. Unlike the 1935 project by the Central Committee to issue Stalin’s works (its implementation lasted from 1946 to 2012), the nature of our initiative is emphasizingly academic, and not political. Of course, in dealing with the legacy of such a unique professional politician of the XX century as Stalin, one cannot escape politics. Yet, despite this reservation, we consider it appropriate to present our author as a phenomenon of the Russian national-international and Soviet culture which is represented by the brightest examples and discoveries in politics as well, whether anyone likes it or not.
The first volume of our series “Stalin Works” contains the earliest literary attempts of the future revolutionary and statesman who used to call himself a “Russian of Georgian origin”, mainly in Georgian language. Covering the works from 1895 to 1904, from youth poetry to militant labour movement flyers and early attempts in the field of history and theory, this book is devoted to the Caucasus period of the author’s activity. Young “Koba” still remained a local-scale activist and leader, but by taking upon and holding steadily to Lenin’s position in Russian Social Democracy, and through accumulation of all-sided experience in the partisan political work, he thus prepared himself objectively for the escape from the regional and provincial boundaries, and onto the national and international arena of social practice.
The second volume of “Stalin Works” (ISBN 978-5-906293-03-9, “Prometheus-info”, 2013, 560 pp.). The book is dedicated to the legendary period of the first Russian revolution in Russia in January 1905 – May 1906. It includes 77 texts, appendices, biographical information, index of 162 persons mentioned in the text, subject index. Along with such well-known works of this period as “The proletarian class and the proletarian party (“On the first paragraph of the party rules”), “Workers of the Caucasus, it is time to take revenge”, “Briefly on disagreements in the party”, “Armed uprising and our tactics”, “Two battles”, the book includes dozens of unsigned works with Stalin’s authorship established by IMEL experts during his lifetime, as well as the speeches by young Joseph Dzhugashvili at the meetings of the Fourth (Unificatory) Party Congress.
The third volume is dedicated to the period of the decline of the First Russian Revolution (May 1906 – March 1907) (Prometheus- info, 2013, 608 p.). The book includes more than 90 texts, appendices, biographical information, index of subjects and names. Readers are presented with the well-known works of this period (“The Present Moment and the Unification Congress”, “Marx and Engels on uprising”, “Introduction to the Georgian edition of Kautsky’s pamphlet”), as well as those published for the first time (“Caucasus representatives in the Duma”, “The rhetorics of the liberal media”,” Menshevist scarecrow” and others), texts of numerous leaflets and newspaper reviews prepared by Stalin at that time. The first version of the first major theoretical work, “Anarchism or Socialism?”, is reproduced in this volume.
At first glance, the time that is studied (the border between XIX and XX centuries) has little in common with what we experience in the second decade of the XXI century. But it is and it isn’t so.
Yes, over there, we can see spontaneous concentration of the working class in relatively large industrial centres, primarily for the interests of the growing industrial capital, and rapid rise of the labour movement – obviously, against the interests of capital. Over here – after three Russian revolutions, two world wars and the grand socialist experiment – we acknowledge the deliberate deconcentration and atomization of the working class, as well as large-scale failure of the socialist initiatives by forces of worldwide greed and philistine stupidity. The release of a significant mass of productive workers into lackeyism and small businesses by means of reducing barbarically the real production by at least a half, and ruining the entire industries including the high-tech, is a revealing description of class interests of the victorious financial capital that has carried out the new imperialist division and redivision of the world, mainly at the expense of USSR/Russia. One hundred years ago, the Russian Empire was not even considered a “candidate” for such an “operation” – it rather was China at the time...
And yes, over a century ago, the labour movement that had been experiencing a long upswing, was also on the path of self-cognition and self-awareness, persistent search for its own ideology which is the merger with scientific socialism. In our times, apparently the opposite is taking place. Labour movement is on the decline; in some places, it is fragmented or even erased into lackeyish dust to such an extent that one can hear conversations about the “non-existence” of the working class. A century ago, working environment was often under decisive influence by the truthful and courageous printed left-wing word; now, it is literally drowning in the “swamp-and-sugar” verbosity [Bolotnaya ulitsa – Swamp street – and Sakharova prospekt – Sugar son’s avenue – two infamous routes for the right wing-liberal manifestations against the Putin’s fraudulent re-election of 2012 – translator’s note]. TV has particularly succeeded in this infamous career, having camouflaged the monstrous super enrichment of the “New Russian” bourgeoisie and justified the gaping social inequality with a cinematic aphorism “The rich, too, cry tears”. In those years, working class was growing stronger while preparing to establish its own, labour state. Today, it has lost the interest and will to seize the power, allowing the “mink coats” of show-business and the “creative class” of the trade and bank offices to declaim in the central square. It has been two decades since something seemingly impossible happened: the working class tolerated deliberate deproletarization of both of the Russian capitals, usually the two main inflammatory points of radical change; it neither protested, as a whole, against the predatory privatization when, by hypocritically cursing Marx’s “expropriation of the expropriators” (by the way, touching upon the very few), the new bourgeoisie “pushed through” a total expropriation (secondary and quick, again in a paradoxical way, by using the socialist-planning centralization of the management of the national economy) of the whole working People.
Now, the direct producer of consumer goods is silent, perhaps, more than any other. Blacksmith, farmer, designing engineer, baker, sculptor, architect, seamstress, machine operator are, of course, less likely to “manufacture” extra words, as compared to the “business-woman” (vendor) from the market, its “theoretician” (Gaidar-Chubais-Bunich-Yasin), or a liberal politician. But who has promised to perpetuate this silence? Negation of negation is coming. Regaining adequate awareness of their common class destiny, people of productive physical and mental labour will enforce that their strengthening voice will be heard, by using Internet amongst other media. This fight has promised to be long, hard, full of tricks and tweaks of all the cunning that the bourgeoisie is capable of. But in the end, the bass of proletarian truth inevitably overlaps the falsettos and shrieks of true or deluded servants of cash payments. Labour will bring an end to the decay of thought that is valued by capital only. The ideological and factological materials from the practice of preparation of the First
Russian revolution at the beginning of last century (something like an introductory chapter to the experience of the further two Russian revolutions of 1917), partially presented in this volume, can be of great help in the correction of mistakes made by various categories of employee workers at the end of it. Strange, but it is true – the combination of understanding and the conclusions about the working people and their consciousness, expressed in those days’ texts written by Stalin and his associates, looks more mature and realistic than the current, early XXI century, labour movement materials. The way out is seen in an alternative: either the belief in the “modernist” utopia offering (as opposed to the classless society of workers) passive transition of the majority into some moderately prosperous petty-bourgeois “middle class”, with the inviolability of the status-quo of the “oligarchy”; or the workaholic, like in the good old days (while being more cultured and, of course, better armed with the new means of influencing the masses – mentally first of all), recalls his unfulfilled historical mission and moves rapidly up the hill like before...
There is one special feature about this publication. For the first time, the reader will have an opportunity to acquaint him or herself with such great number of Stalin’s texts that until recently never left archival shelves, and not only in Russia. In addition to meeting the needs of broad audiences, this publication’s aim is to provide documentary materials for those who research the period of birth, formation and boom of the Soviet state. One of the motives for this publication team to undergo this project is the absolutely unsatisfactory state of research on this subject, which has become a consequence of the politicization of science, of social consciousness as a whole with the spirit of anti-communism.
The academic nature of our publication is not only about the pursuit for greater fullness, but also about the increased attention to its difficult (even during the author’s life) story. In the Appendix, a special note is devoted to it: the documents of the Institute of Marx-Engels-Lenin attached to the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) and its Tbilisi branch, transmit the tense atmosphere that had surrounded the implementation of that work. Sincere interest, on the part of the reader, will be stirred by the record of the December 1945 conversation between Stalin and its participants.
A team of enthusiasts has been involved in preparing this volume for publication. All of them deserve hearty gratitude, but it would especially be nice to highlight those comrades without whom the very idea would not be feasible. There is still much work ahead, and, hopefully, the circle of comrades will be growing.
A few words about the organization and presentation of materials in the books.
According to an agreement adopted within the publication, a reference to the publication and/or an archival reference is provided for each text. As a rule, in case of re-publication, the archival link is reproduced, if there is any (by using the name of the archive that exists at the time of publication). If the text was first published in the edition of 1946-2012, the reference is made to it.
Notes that follow the texts are designed to provide the reader with the necessary information about the document itself: the history and circumstances of its appearance, the consequences that followed, as well as all the matters related to the establishment of Stalin’s authorship (in case of texts written prior to October 1917).
In some cases, the events, the media, and the organizations mentioned in the documents are characterized in the subject index. It is formed anew for each volume, and its articles are listed in alphabetical order. At the same time, items described in the subject index are provided with an asterisk upon the first mention in the current text. For example, “philistine*”, “Bernsteinism*”, “IVth Party Congress*”, and so on.
All the persons mentioned in the text are included in the name index. The personalities are presented in alphabetical order, and their full names (if identified), including the second names (in case of change, the ones given at birth are added), date and place of birth, date, place and circumstances of death, and a general description of the figure. For a number of individuals whose life and work occurred in the period of writings and left considerable imprint, the description is more detailed and presented in each volume of the Works within the time frame from the date of birth of the person until the time at which the book ends.
The problem of combining, within the same edition, the securely authorized texts with those whose authorship cannot be confirmed at present, has led to the following volume structure (for the period up to October 1917). All the texts considered to be of Stalin’s authorship in that or other way are consolidated over the years. For example, the 1905 materials are split into three sections: a) texts of undoubted authorship (those signed or confirmed by the author during the preparation work in the 1940s or those with sufficient circumstantial evidence – eyewitness), b) texts considered to be of Stalin’s authorship according to unanimous opinion of all the experts who addressed the issue, and c) texts that divided the opinions of experts (see present volume, “On History of the Preparation of the First Edition of Works by Joseph Stalin”). In addition, each text is equipped with a note justifying its belonging to a particular category. Texts are presented in chronological order within each of the sections.
Several texts belonging to the author but written under compulsion or out of formal necessity (petitions, records of interrogations by the police, written obligations, and so forth), are placed in the Appendix.
Also, the Appendix or the “additional materials” sections may include texts that do not belong to Stalin but could be useful, from the point of view of the compilation team, to cover the author’s activities and the circumstances of the period. For example, L.P. Beria’s book “On the History of Bolshevik Organizations in the Caucasus” (ed. 1937) that had established Stalin’s authorship in several dozen of pre-revolutionary texts, is almost completely reproduced in volumes 1 to 4.
In addition, a selection of archival materials covering the preparatory work for the 1920-40s edition of Stalin’s works is included in the first volume of this publication, the “additional materials” section. This is due, apart from the scientific and educational purposes, to the fact that they contain justification of authorship of the published works.
Translated from the Russian by Vitaly Pershin