The theses of the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU in 1956 gained the support not only of a number of parties who were later to distance themselves from them in part, the Communist Party of China, the Vietnamese People's Party and the Korean Party of Labour but also of the Party of Labour of Albania which spearheaded the fight against the stands of the CPSU from within the Kremlin itself at the meeting of die Communist and Workers' parties in 1960 and which afterwards extended this struggle to embrace the entire range of modem revisionism.
In this context the articles of Neil Goold and Moni Guha represent a substantial achievement. More so as both critiques were published in the wake of the Twentieth Congress and went to press prior to the publication of the 'Secret Speech' of Khrushchev in the 'New York Times' in June, 1956.
The following information about Neil Goold is taken from the booklet of three articles by him entitled 'The Twentieth Congress and After' which was reprinted by the now extinct British and Irish Communist Organisation in 1973. Neil Goold was an Irishman who lived and worked in the Soviet Union from 1929 to the 1930s and married a Russian. He became a Communist and applied for membership of the CPSU. It was suggested to him that he should return to Ireland and join the Communist Party of Ireland. He was active in the CPI from 1937 to 1939 when he was interned in the Curragh concentration camp with the onset of the war. On his release from jail he opposed the CPI for having dissolved itself as its leadership was not prepared to implement an internationalist policy of support for the united front against fascism after the Nazi invasion of the USSR in 1941. Such a policy would have run counter to De Valera's policy of neutrality which was sympathetic to the idea of an alliance with Nazi Germany against Britain. In the early 1950s Neil Goold was active in the Connolly Association in London where he came into conflict with the opportunism of C. D. Greaves. In April, 1956 he published the article published below. In the following year having re-established contact with his wife and son he returned to the Soviet Union.
In 1956 the Communist Party of India in West Bengal was divided into two sections, the Dangeites who were advocates of National Democracy and a second group which supported the retention of the programme of People's Democracy. Khrushchev's Report was welcomed by the supporters of Dange and opposed by the anti-Dangeites. Faced by a wave of resentment amongst the ranks the CPI hastily organised a General Body Meeting. The leadership of both the groupings reduced the question of the Twentieth Congress to a simple question of supporting or opposing Stalin. It was Moni Guha, together with a few comrades, who protested at this method of presentation of the question and herein lies the political and ideological significance: they argued that the issue at stoke was the principles and the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. Dangeite and anti-Dangeite made a common front against this understanding. A 'Committee for the Defence of Marxism-Leninism and Stalin' was formed on the initiative of Moni Guha and a leaflet was distributed amongst the communists in which it was unequivocally argued that 'the 20th Congress is the Congress of Revisionism and it is to be fought as Lenin fought against the Second International and Social-Democracy' (This line was incorporated in the Preface to the book 'Twentieth Congress and Stalin'). The agitation had an impact as the CPI leadership was compelled to set up an open forum. But it was in 'Parichaya', a literary magazine which was virtually controlled by the Dangeite group. The first article in the open forum was written by Saroj Acharva, a renowned Marxist intellectual, defending the Twentieth Congress and vilifying 'Stalin's lifeless mechanical method'. The second article was by Moni Guha denouncing the 20th Congress as the Congress of Revisionism and emphasised the paramount need of fighting against it. The third article was by Abdul Momin, the victim of the Ranadive period, the ex-General Secretary of the B.P. T U. C., ex-member of the Provincial Committee of the CPI and the legendary figure of the Calcutta Carter's Strike. It is to be noted that Comrades Moni Guha, Momin and Satya Gupta (a functionary of 'Parichaya') jointly planned the content of their articles. After the publication of the article by Abdul Momin, the 'Parichaya' authorities abruptly closed the open forum without assigning any reason, possibly being influenced by the Chinese article, 'On The Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat' which supported and developed upon the theses of Khrushchev. However, Comrade Satya Gupta was able to publish his story 'Conversation of the Dead - Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin' on the Twentieth Congress. The article by Moni Guha published below is part of a longer piece published in July, 1956 in Bengali; it is reprinted from the English translation published in Proletarian Path, Vol. 1, No. 4, June, 1994, pp. 40-46.
What is the significance of the speeches and resolutions of the XXth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party? It is that an opportunist faction has temporarily gained control of the Party apparatus and hopes, by Titoite methods, to restore capitalism in the Soviet Union. The campaign of defamation of Stalin, which began in a cowardly, conspiratorial fashion, is now coming out into the open, emboldened by the support of sham communists and renegades in foreign countries and is showing itself for what it is -- an attack on the general line of the Communist Party, which led the Soviet people to victory. When a counter-revolutionary deed is done, discussion on the methods by means of which it is carried out should not divert our attention from the nature of the counter-revolutionary deed itself. Malenkov, Mikoyan, Khrushchev, are guilty of a counter-revolutionary deed which they are trying to cover up with talk about collective leadership and a fight against the cult of the individual. Without losing sight of the main point, namely the revision of Marxism which opponents of Stalin within the party tried to put forward even during his life time and which, now that he has gone, they hope to carry out, it will be useful to consider briefly the two main slogans that have been raised.
Collective leadership is the basic idea underlying the Communist Party, and always has been. The party is formed by the voluntary coming together of the most advanced members of the working class and other elements, particularly peasants, who have thrown in their lot with the working class and adopted its standpoint. Formulating a single policy by the principle of majority vote they proceed to advocate this policy and enlist support for it in all mass organisations and in every sphere of national life. Such collective leadership presupposes inequality of development of individuals in society, as does all leadership, for if all individuals were equally developed, leadership would not be necessary at all. They would all move, of their own accord, in the direction appropriate for pursuing those interests. Inequality of development is a basic law of Marxism. It underlies the development of living organisms. It is evident to all students of history in comparing the different forms of early human society, and it receives its classic exposition in the later rise and fall of nations. Hence the importance of leadership in history. But if there is inequality of development between groups of individuals organised together in various ways, and between groups within society and the whole of society, there is also inequality of development between individuals within these groups. Thus, every collective puts forward its most advanced individual as leader. In the present campaign for so-called collective leadership which has been launched by opportunists in the ranks of the communist parties today, quite a different sort of collective leadership is meant to that exemplified by the Party under Lenin and Stalin's leadership. The slogan of collective leadership in the Soviet Party today has not been brought forward as the natural form of leadership which had hitherto been given by the party since its foundation by Lenin. On the contrary, it has been brought forward in opposition to the kind of leadership given by Stalin. It therefore does not mean collective leadership of the people by the Party, but collective leadership within the party. Collective leadership of this kind means factionalism and compromise between different policies, as opposed to the Leninist principle of adopting a single unequivocal policy by a majority vote, and then carrying out that policy under the leadership of that comrade who had led the fight for it: all those who had opposed this policy in discussion being now obliged to carry it out with the rest.
Similarly the opportunists are using the slogan: an end to the cult of the individual, to do away with the principle of leadership altogether. If there was a cult of &e individual in &e Soviet Union, who was responsible for it? It is an absurdity to charge Stalin with responsibility for this. It is not possible for a man to create a cult of himself. The cult of the individual is making a fetish of the individual, which was not done by any sincere worker in the case of Stalin. It is true Stalin was greatly praised, both sincerely and insincerely -- sincerely by the toiling masses of the world who saw in him the leader they needed, the man who always gave the correct policy leading to victory; insincerely by the opportunists and careerists whose expressed opinions, as opposed to those they actually hold, are determined by those of the party in power. There are a large number of people, sham communists, who are now getting angry at the manner in which Stalin was praised, They, most of them, say that they were great praisers themselves at one time, but that they made a mistake. Maybe it was they who were guilty of the cult of the individual, but if so let them admit it, instead of slandering Stalin and those who believe in his policy. No one who has studied history can be ignorant of the important part praise of a good leader and a correct policy has played in every revolution. This is not shown only by history, but also by humanity's greatest works of art. Even the insincere praise of the opportunist plays its part. Is it not an invariable practice of revolutionaries to force their defeated enemies to praise the revolution, and particularly revolutionary leaders and policies, so as to humiliate them in the eyes of their followers? If this is distasteful to some British left wing intellectuals why did they ever join the revolutionary party? It is quite clear, however, that what is really making them sick is the bad taste of their own words.
Plekhanov in his classic of Marxism, "The Role of the Individual in History," points out that there are two views on this question which are opposed to one another, but both of which are alien to Marxism. The first is that all history is made by great individuals and that the people, the "mob," plays a passive part. This was the view of the non-proletarian, revolutionary peasant parties. The second is that since social development is a process conforming to laws "the individual can do nothing." This was the view of the apologists of capitalism. The opportunist party members who today are raising a hue and cry about the cult of the individual are in effect falling back to this standpoint, for they are denying the importance of the individual leadership which is an organic part of a revolutionary people. It is absolutely necessary for all sincere workers to penetrate the smoke screen and see the present campaign for what it really is, that is, not a campaign to expose the alleged personal weaknesses of a great man, but a plot to abandon the revolutionary policy of the communist parties pursued under Lenin and Stalin's leadership and replace it with an opportunist, Menshevik policy, a policy of conciliation with capitalism which could only lead to the defeat of the working class movement.
No charges have yet been made against Stalin by the party opportunists except in the most general terms. None of them have informed us what mistakes he made. Some declare that he executed good men, but we are not told their names. We are informed that he put himself above the Party, but we are not told on what occasions. The most serious criticism appears to be that he did not take Winston Churchill's advice in conducting the defence of the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet peoples against Hitler fascism. A few more daring people enter into questions of policy in their criticism, but the party leaders prefer to avoid such questions and write long articles like those of Harry Pollitt in which as little as possible is said in as many words as possible, evading sharp issues.
Since the denunciation of Stalin which has developed in a few weeks from the first timid criticisms by Mikoyan at the Congress into a flood of slander, calumny and bitter hatred of the Bolshevik revolutionary leadership, the opportunists of all colours have enjoyed a regular Witches Sabbath in the pages of the British Daily Worker. All the reactionary policies which had been put forward within the party in its early days but had been completely rooted out by Lenin and Stalin are now making their re-appearance.
Whereas Lenin and Stalin taught us that the bourgeoisie would never relinquish its power voluntarily, we are now told that revolutions can now be carried out without a struggle. Whereas Lenin and Stalin taught us that under capitalism in its last stage, imperialism, the State power is built up into a huge machine, opposing the people with its armed force, and that this machine must be smashed if the working class is to carry its revolution to a victorious conclusion, we are now told that the capitalist parliamentary system can be transformed peacefully into a socialist parliamentary system and the existence of the imperialist state is completely ignored.
Whereas Lenin and Stalin taught us that in order to maintain its rule immediately after the proletarian revolution and carry out the building of socialist economy under peaceful conditions, the working class with the peasantry for its ally must set up its own State power in the form of a dictatorship of the proletariat which must deprive the remnants of the old bourgeoisie within the country of all platforms for the propagation of its politics, must suppress all attempts at counter-revolution by physical force and must build up strong defences against the external capitalist enemy, we are now told that the dictatorship of the proletariat is out of date and that in socialist Britain, after the (peaceful) revolution there will even be a Tory party (Daily Worker, March 27th 1956).
Whereas Lenin and Stalin taught us that capitalism, in its last stage, imperialism, inevitably leads to wars between capitalist States, we are now told that imperialist wars can be done away with altogether by the peace loving peoples without destroying imperialism.
Whereas Lenin and Stalin taught us that with the advance of socialism the resistance of the remnants of the bourgeoisie in countries where the proletarian revolution had been victorious, and the resistance of the ruling class in capitalist countries, would get fiercer and fiercer, we are now told that there are no bourgeois forces in the Soviet Union and it is being suggested in the British party that even the capitalists in the non-Soviet world are getting tired of the struggle and will dutiful lay down their arms when a people's government is elected in Britain.
One of the charges Made against Stalin was that he put himself above the Party, making independent decisions. It will be remembered that a similar charge was made against Lenin by the Mensheviks. This was on the occasion of the April theses when Lenin charted the course for the Bolshevik revolution and announced his policy without first consulting the party. In his work Lenin pointed out the revolutionary necessity for such action and his view on this subject have since been endorsed again and again by the communist parties of the world, so that it is not necessary to go into them here. Lenin was not a dictator, but a great revolutionary leader whose strength depended on the fact that he took all his decisions in close consultation with the people, and when circumstances arose when immediate consultation was not possible he used his revolutionary instinct to judge whether a given decision would be endorsed by the people with the action that could alone turn formal decisions into actual events. Stalin was a great revolutionary leader of the same kind. He understood creative democracy, and formalism of every kind was alien to him. At every stage in the building of socialism he consulted the people on a mass scale, having first by thorough discussion and majority vote, secured collective leadership of the party for such mass discussion.
It was so in the socialist industrialisation of the country where meetings were held in every factory to draw up the details for the Five-Year Plans, in the fight against Trotskyism, where the whole party discussed the opposing theses and the supporters of Trotsky were given an opportunity of defending their standpoint, before he was formally condemned and then by majority vote.
In the campaign for the collectivisation of agriculture general meetings of peasants were held in every village to discuss and accept or reject the party proposals. And although in some cases democracy was violated by party members in this campaign, it is common knowledge that this was in direct contravention of the Central Committee of the Party under Stalin's leadership and was done in many cases deliberately to antagonise the peasantry and weaken Soviet power.
In the campaign for socialist competition and Stakhanovism, two mighty movements which sprang up spontaneously from the working people and were at first opposed by many party leaders, Stalin gave tremendous scope to individual initiative among rank and file workers in industry and agriculture by supporting their campaign within the party and securing nationwide recognition of it. Who does not remember the numerous Congresses of Shockworkers, collective farmers, Stakhanovites etc. which played such an important part in getting new healthy life into the Party and hindering bureaucrats from getting control of the party apparatus.
Around the discussions on a model constitution for collective farms a similar mass campaign was developed and in the drawing up of the Stalin Constitution for the Soviet State (the present Constitution which the opportunists dare not yet try to attack) for the first time in history a whole people, including the foreign workers employed in their country, performed the function of a constituent assembly, discussing the Draft Constitution, putting amendments and finally enacting the Constitution by overwhelming majority vote.
The leader of a revolution, as Lenin pointed out, must at every critical juncture devote all his energy to what is at the moment the most important decisive task and let everything else look after itself. When the building of the Party was the most important task Stalin devoted himself to this task as Secretary of the Party. When the country was invaded by the Hitler fascists as part of a world wide conspiracy to attempt restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, the securing of victory for Soviet arms became the most important task and Stalin devoted himself to that task as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. All the best leaders had likewise to turn their attention from peaceful party work to military matters and a large number went to the front. This meant leaving their own locality and since the party is necessarily organised on a territorial basis it naturally weakened the party apparatus, and war conditions in any case made party leadership on a discussion-decision basis in many cases impossible. Furthermore, whereas the Five-Year Plans were carried out by a united front of workers and peasants organised in opposition to all those remnants of the old regime, who, although formally in the category of workers and peasants, had not wholeheartedly gone over to their standpoint, during the war a broader, united patriotic front, including such anti-communist forces as the churches was organised, and rightly so, for it was under the banner of Defence of the Fatherland that the struggle against Hitler was carried to a successful conclusion. Stalin at that time became the leader of all the forces in the Soviet Union, including some forces bourgeois in ideology that wished to drive out the invader. During the war thousands of the best communists were killed by the invaders, while numerous sham communists, careerists in responsible party positions in the occupied territories went over to the enemy, some openly, others secretly, taking with them files which could direct the Gestapo to all activists among the old and young who were left in the occupied territories after all able bodied men had joined the Red Army or Partisan groups. The concessions made to the remnants of the bourgeoisie, the Church etc. during the war years, though necessary for the struggle, had their negative aspects, for they gave scope for ideologies hostile to communism. They therefore left serious problems to be dealt with after the war. In the occupied territories the collective farms were broken up and capitalist economic relations restored. In some cases farms were given to kulak elements from among the collective farmers. This provided soil for the re-growth of capitalist ideas. When all these facts are taken into consideration is it surprising that following the war certain opportunist forces should grow within the communist party, and since we now see from the public utterances of the treacherous turncoats who have now seized the leadership, that they actually did grow, must we not say that Stalin was quite right to oppose them with all the means at his disposal. Only people who make a fetish of the party will say that even if the party treads the path of counter-revolution (as happened before in Yugoslavia) loyal communists must still obey their directives. However, there is nothing to indicate that Stalin ever had to defy a majority decision of the party, for the members of the opposition were such cowards during Stalin's lifetime that they always endorsed his decisions, whatever may have occurred in secret session.
In the discussions of the speeches of the XXth Congress many people have asked the question, if Stalin set himself above the party, what power enabled him to do this? This is a question very destructive of the thesis of Messrs. Malenkov, Mikoyan, Khrushchev and Company. Under capitalism a dictator may have great power because the powerful capitalist interests in the country agree to sink their differences and hand over the state to the control of one man pledged to suppress the people. But the Soviet Union is not a capitalist state, there are no powerful organised private interests, Stalin never had any personal power, though he had enormous moral authority based on his brilliant leadership and devotion to the people.
The force by which Mikoyan, Khrushchev and Company felt themselves opposed was the worker-peasant masses of the Soviet Union and all the best sons and daughters of the human race throughout the world who spoke through their party and through the leader of their party, Comrade Stalin.
And they will speak again.
Reviewing Victor Hugo's biography of Napoleon, Karl Marx wrote in the preface to his book, 'The Eighteenth Brumaire'- 'The event itself appears in his work like a bolt from the blue. He sees in it only the violent act of a single individual. He does not notice that he makes this individual great instead of little by ascribing to him a personal power of initiative such as would be without parallel in world history.'
This comment of Marx is equally valid when applied in the context of the speeches and reports of Khrushchev-Mikoyan and company in the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. We come to know from the reports of Khrushchev-Mikoyan and Co. that in the twenty years after 1934, Stalin gradually placed himself above the party and general masses. Deviating from Leninist principles of organisation he took recourse to bourgeois militant despotism in the field of organisation. On the one hand, this led to the destruction of democracy within the party, the loss of collective leadership, the crippling of independent thought and activity of the members and the growth of the cult of the individual reflected in the popular feeling that 'Stalin will do everything' resulting in increased dependence on great men. On the other hand, Stalin had distanced himself from the masses, the Politburo and the Central Committee and had become self-centred. On the whole, it was Stalin who did everything whether in the national sphere or in international affairs and it is Stalin who is responsible for the successes and the failures of the past twenty years of Soviet history. Stalin is the architect of these twenty years of Soviet history. The Soviet people were merely fodder for history and in the atmosphere of terror the CPSU was merely a mute terror-stricken spectator.
Victor Hugo was not a historical materialist. Hence in his review of great historical figures the analysis is centred on individuals. But Khrushchev-Mikoyan & Co. are communists and it is expected that they are historical materialists. However, in their evaluation of Stalin's role, they have emulated bourgeois idealists and adopted an individual-centric approach. In brief, the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU has abandoned the Marxist approach in its evaluation of Stalin.
Two basic questions of Marxism are closely linked up with the evaluation of Stalin by the CPSU. Deviating from Leninist organisational principles, Stalin had taken recourse to bourgeois militarist despotism in the field of organisation and to subjectivism in thought and method of work - this is one side of the history of the past twenty years.
What is the other side of the past twenty years? In the past twenty years great successes have been achieved and life has advanced with gigantic strides. Among industrially advanced countries, the Soviet Union is now placed second in the world and first in Europe. Life has developed and advanced in all fields - education, health, science, art and culture. In the political, social and economic life an exploitation free classless (in the sense of antagonistic classes - ed.) society has been created. Socialism has been established and steps advanced towards communism. Eminent savants, Romain Rolland, Rabindra Nath Tagore, H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, Hewlett Johnson, Emil Ludwig, the Webbs etc. have been impressed by the unbelievable all-round progress of the Soviet Union. In the international domain, where the Soviet Union was like an island in the imperialist sea, the complete real basis for the emergence of a socialist world system has been laid.
Thus, over twenty long years, on the one hand we have, in the main, a basically successful and unerring practical application of the political, social and economic principles of Marxism-Leninism and on the other hand, a basic and primary deviation from the Leninist principles of organisation, an effort to distort these principles and in place of democracy, democratic centralism and collective leadership in society and the party, despotism and the establishment of a reign of terror.
It is natural to ask how is this possible? Is not success in politics, society and the economy reflected also in organisational and social life? The logical corollary of political, social and economic progress is organisational democracy and the development of social consciousness. The logical corollary of political, social and economic reaction is organisational reaction, lack of individual initiative, apathy, the slow pace of dull, dreary mechanical routine. Such a society does not reverberate with the song of life. But we have heard the song of life in the Soviet Union. The question arises - the political-organisational line of Marxism-Leninism is not a motley collection of discrete mutually exclusive independent phenomena which do not interact with or exclude one another; rather it is a union of all embracing, many-sided integral ideology and practice. If so, then how is it possible that politics and the organisation and organisational principles - the means of successfully accomplishing that politics could move in two opposite directions for twenty long years. The conservatism of organisational policy acts as a brake in political progress, similarly political conservatism also acts as a brake on organisational progress - it is in this contradiction that the organisation changes, there are changes made in its rules. In this way organisational policy comes into consonance with political progress and does not impede it. But where organisational policy and method of work impede political progress - there politics does not move forward and the organisation also remains backward.
Thus in the Soviet Union, politics was advancing, great successes were being achieved but at the same time, the organisation and organisational policies were falling behind and that this went on for twenty long years, in an era of great historical change seems quite impossible. Then are we to assume that society moves forward at its own speed and on its own volition? Man has no active or passive role to play in this process - society is governed by fate, man too is a puppet in the hands of fate? But Marxism denies this. In organisational policy, its activities, its form and character are reflected political identity, its form and character. And the form and character of the organisation and organisational policy are reflected in the form and character of the politics.
If this is Marxism, then obviously the Khrushchev-Mikoyan report is not. Then either one maintains that socialism was not established in the Soviet Union, that no advance in any aspect of life was made there and that even today, the Soviet Union is a vast prison-house or the Khrushchev-Mikoyan report is wrong, it is not in accordance with Marxism and is inspired by ulterior political motives. Apart from this, the only other alternative is to consider Marxism wrong and the Khrushchev-Mikoyan report as correct.
The second fundamental question linked up with the Khrushchev-Mikoyan report is the question of the role of the individual in the making of history.
Khrushchev-Mikoyan have said that alter 1934, Stalin gradually concentrated all power in his hands and that he had no contact with the masses, the Party, the Central Committee or the Politburo. He never convened meetings of the Central Committee or Politburo, he took all the decisions himself and issued directions accordingly.
Negating the people, the party and everything else, giving no opportunity for criticism and evaluation, and basing himself only on his individual 'independent' ideology, theory and methods of work, if a single individual was able while the entire forces of world imperialism were ranged up against it; to raise a vast backward country to such heights of development, prosperity and power, if socialism can be achieved and society can advance towards communism based only on one man's theory, if communism can become powerful in the international arena and imperialism defeated only on the basis of one man's policies, methods of work and theory, then one must say that Marxism is false, historical materialism is false. Then why is so much stress placed on collective leadership and democratic centralism and why the proclamations against the 'cult of the individual'? If by raising himself over the mass of the people and treating them as fodder for history a single authoritarian individual can create the bright history of socialism, then the best example of this is Stalin himself. Refuting all hairsplitting theoretical arguments Stalin has by his actions, negated historical materialism. Now we can say with the idealists that the vast populace serves only as the raw material for history. The great individual is everything, the vast masses nothing.
Hence one can say that if the Khrushchev-Mikoyan report is true then Marxism-Leninism is false, historical materialism is false.
In Khrushchev's report there is fulsome praise of the unparalleled sacrifice and patriotism of the Soviet people in the achievement of the many successes of the Soviet Union and at the same time, Stalin has been held responsible for all the failures.
It is not enough to say, as the French do, that their nation has been taken by surprise. A nation and a woman are not forgiven the unguarded hour in which the first adventurer that came along could violate them. The riddle is not solved by such turns of speech, but merely formulated in another way. It remains to be explained how a nation of thirty-six millions can be surprised and delivered unresisting into captivity by three high class swindlers. (K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 1, Bombay, 1944, p. 298).
Marx means to say - only a few people cannot lead such a huge country astray and one cannot get off by laying the entire blame at their door. After making the above statement, Karl Marx made a masterly analysis of the historical condition under which the events in France took place. This is precisely the historical materialist method of analysis. That is to find out the basic cause in the analysis of the motion of contemporary society and to analyse the successes and failures, achievements and shortcomings and the role and contribution of the leader in the light of that basic cause. To evaluate the role of the individual in the historical context is a fundamental tenet of Marxism and the evaluation of the individual in individual-centric context is the method of anti-Marxist bourgeois idealism.
That is the fundamental difference between the Marxists and the Khrushchevite conception.
The limitations and shortcomings of the Soviet social system can be traced to the extraordinarily high price paid by the Soviet system and people for the all-round all-conquering development and progress made by the Soviet Union. Socialism in one country is possible because of the uneven development of imperialism and the Soviet Union is proof of this. But socialism is one country amounts to only a drop of water in the vast imperialist sea. Prior to its victory in the Second World War and the emergence of the People's Democratic states in several countries, the Soviet Union was always, on both internal and external fronts, in a state of war, that socialism would he restricted to a single country for such a long period had not been envisaged by Lenin or other contemporary communist leaders. But man has to work with the material furnished by history to society and the world and advance in the task of the creation of new history. The creation of history cannot be done according to one's own sweet will and be based on illusory ideas and dreams. It was the historical restriction and limitation of the Soviet social system that it had to exist, over a long period, in a state of war amidst world capitalist encirclement.
To gradually entrust the masses of the people with all political, social and economic responsibilities and thus gradually make the existence of the state as a specialised institution for repression socially unnecessary is a fundamental task of the intermediate stage of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The three chief pillars of the state are - the executive, the judiciary and the legislative. It is the fundamental duty of a socialist country in its intermediate stage to keep in check the permanent bureaucracy of these three wings as well as to eliminate the standing army, the secret police, the intelligence department which do not play any creative role in production and are entirely dependent on the state. In place of the permanent bureaucracy will be the representatives elected by the people and the standing army will be replaced by armed people, which will not be dependent on the state for sustenance. It is only then that people will be able to form their own independent opinion and only then that the proper conditions will be created for them to express it. That is, the state cannot behave in a partisan manner towards them.
In the Soviet Union, over this long period, none of this could be accomplished. Amidst the imperialist encirclement and the ever present threat of attack, to protect socialism in one country, a well-trained vast standing army equipped with modern arms and weapons and fully dependent on the state was needed. In order that socialism in one country may advance rapidly, it was necessary for a vast and backward country to not only catch up with other advanced capitalist countries but also to surpass them and consequently, excessive stress had to be laid on centralisation. Later for similar reasons, it became necessary to build and depend on a vast army of skilled, self-sacrificing, idealist (not in the philosophical sense), hard working, individuals devoted to the party in the state, in industry, in agriculture, in education and culture.
The presence of a standing army secret police and intelligence department which are fully dependent on the state and do not play any creative role in production is a big barrier to the all-round democratic progress of society. The file-pushing bureaucracy, which has no contact with the life of the people or creative production, is also a barrier to all-round democratic progress. Thus in the Soviet Union, on the one hand, we have unprecedented development and progress in social and economic life, in education and culture and a classless (in the sense of antagonistic classes - ed.) exploitation-free social system, but on the other hand, there was also growth of excessive centralisation and bureaucracy in the state and state machinery. It was this contradiction which was at the root of the national and social distortions in Soviet society. But one must bear in mind that the Soviet Union had no other alternative road to progress before it. If one visits a socialist country with a mind full of beautiful illusions, like Andre Gide, then one's dreams are bound to be shattered.
In the analysis of the failures of the Soviet Union, it is not enough to say this. It is as the result of the mutual interaction of the mutually conflicting ideology and activity of millions of people in society that history is created. Man is not merely an onlooker at history. He actively utilises his strength and capacity in the making of history. Up til now, this has been the contribution of millions of people in the creation of history. This is an active contribution, but not a conscious one. That person or party is the leader, who recognising the basic trend in the fundamental motion and development of the real situation engendered by the mutual interaction of the mutually conflicting, ideologies and activities of millions of people, consciously strives to advance society towards the achievement of its historical objectives (goals). This is the indelible role played by the individual in the making of history. Consequently, no leader or party can escape responsibility for failures and shortcomings by invoking the inevitable march of history. Leaders like Mikoyan tried to escape responsibility by propagating, that man learns only after the event has taken place. This may be true of millions of ordinary people but here we have a question of philosophical knowledge. Every one can understand after the event has taken place. But the role of the leadership or the leader lies in anticipating before hand the motion and development of the event or phenomena and in struggling against the adverse motion and development so that healthy and proper conditions can be created for the favourable motion and development. It is precisely here that the need arises for leaders and a leadership and it is to aid our understanding of this that dialectical and historical materialism have been developed.
Hence, on the one hand, we have the progress of socialist society and on the other, a standing army, excessive centralism and bureaucracy in the executive and the legislative resulting necessarily in the failures and shortcomings of the Soviet society, state and social life and a distorted development. The question arises: was Stalin as a leader sufficiently alert and watchful about these phenomena and did he strive to create favourable conditions for struggle against them? It is only up to this extent, and not more that Stalin can be held responsible for the failures and shortcomings. lnspite of all efforts made in the struggle, the development of Soviet society was bound to be distorted and onesided to some extent - there is no point in concealing this truth. But the important question is how much effort was made in the struggle against the onesidedness and it is only here that the question of fixing responsibility arises.
If Khrushchev-Mikoyan and Co. had based themselves on the principles of historical materialism in their analysis of the failures and shortcomings of individual and state then they would not have denigrated Stalin and communism before the world. They would not have made individual-centric personal attacks. It is because of their individual-centric bourgeois analysis that they had to take recourse to falsehood and distortion of history.
But Marxism-Leninism is invincible. Historical materialism retains its validity -it is independent of the sweet will of individuals. History will affirm the laws of historical materialism and will surely vindicate Stalin and his contribution.
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