18 January 1938 – 12 February 1938
Ivan Philipovich Ivanov, staff propagandist of the Manturovsk District of the Young Communist League in the Kursk Region of the U.S.S.R., addressed a letter to Comrade Stalin requesting his opinion on the question of the final victory of Socialism in the Soviet Union.
Dear Comrade Stalin,
I earnestly request you to explain the following question : In the local districts here and even in the Regional Committee of the Young Communist League, a two-fold conception prevails about the final victory of socialism in our country, i.e., the first group of contradictions is confused with the second.
In your works on the destiny of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. you speak of two groups of contradictions - internal and external.
As for the first group of contradictions, we have, of course, solved them - within the country Socialism is victorious.
I would like to have your answer about the second group of contradictions, i.e., those between the land of Socialism and capitalism.
You point out that the final victory of Socialism implies the solution of the external contradictions, that we must be fully guaranteed against intervention and, consequently, against the restoration of capitalism.
But this group of contradictions can only be solved by the efforts of the workers of all countries.
Besides, Comrade Lenin taught us that "we can achieve final victory only on a world scale, only by the joint efforts of the workers of all countries."
While attending the class for staff propagandists at the Regional Committee of the Y.C.L., I, basing myself on your works, said that the final victory of Socialism is possible only on a world scale. But the leading regional committee workers - Urozhenko, First Secretary of the Regional Committee, and Kazelkov, propaganda instructor – described my statement as a Trotskyist sortie.
I began to read to them passages from your works on this question, but Urozhenko ordered me to close the book and said: "Comrade Stalin said this in 1926, but we are now in 1938. At that time we did not have the final victory, but now we have it and there is no need for us at all to worry about intervention and restoration."
Then he went on to say: "We have now the final victory of Socialism and a full guarantee against intervention and the restoration of capitalism."
And so I was counted as an abettor of Trotskyism and removed from propaganda work and the question was raised as to whether I was fit to remain in the Y.C.L.
Please, Comrade Stalin, will you explain whether we have the final victory of Socialism yet or not. Perhaps there is additional contemporary material on this question connected with recent changes that I have not come across yet. Also I think that Urozhenko's statement that Comrade Stalin's works on this question are somewhat out of date is an anti-Bolshevik one.
Are the leading workers of the Regional Committee right in counting me as a Trotskyist? I feel very much hurt and offended over this.
I hope, Comrade Stalin, that you will grant my request and reply to the Manturovsk District, Kursk Region, First Zasemsky Village Soviet, Ivan Philipovich Ivanov.
(Signed) I. Ivanov. January 18, 1938.
Of course you are right, Comrade Ivanov, and your ideological opponents, i.e., Comrades Urozhenko and Kazelkov, are wrong. And for the following reasons:
Undoubtedly the question of the victory of Socialism in one country, in this case our country, has two different sides.
The first side of the question of the victory of Socialism in our country embraces the problem of the mutual relations between classes in our country. This concerns the sphere of internal relations.
Can the working class of our country overcome the contradictions with our peasantry and establish an alliance, collaboration with them?
Can the working class of our country, in alliance with our peasantry, smash the bourgeoisie of our country, deprive it of the land, factories, mines, etc., and by its own efforts build a new, classless society, complete Socialist society?
Such are the problems that are connected with the first side of the question of the victory of Socialism in our country.
Leninism answers these problems in the affirmative.
Lenin teaches us that "we have all that is necessary for the building of a complete Socialist society."
Hence we can and must, by our own efforts, overcome our bourgeoisie and build Socialist society.
Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and those other gentlemen who later became spies and agents of fascism, denied that it was possible to build Socialism in our country unless the victory of the Socialist revolution was first achieved in other countries, in capitalist countries. As a matter of fact, these gentlemen wanted to turn our country back to the path of bourgeois development and they concealed their apostasy by hypocritically talking about the "victory of the revolution" in other countries.
This was precisely the point of controversy between our Party and these gentlemen.
Our country's subsequent course of development proved that the Party was right and that Trotsky and company were wrong.
For, during this period, we succeeded in liquidating our bourgeoisie, in establishing fraternal collaboration with our peasantry and in building, in the main, Socialist society, notwithstanding the fact that the Socialist revolution has not yet been victorious in other countries.
This is the position in regard to the first side of the question of the victory of Socialism in our country.
I think, Comrade Ivanov, that this is not the side of the question that is the point of controversy between you and Comrades Urozhenko and Kazelkov.
The second side of the question of the victory of Socialism in our country embraces the problem of the mutual relations between our country and other countries, capitalist countries; the problem of the mutual relations between the working class of our country and the bourgeoisie of other countries. This concerns the sphere of external, international relations. Can the victorious Socialism of one country, which is encircled by many strong capitalist countries, regard itself as being fully guaranteed against the danger of military invasion, and hence, against attempts to restore capitalism in our country?
Can our working class and our peasantry, by their own efforts, without the serious assistance of the working class in capitalist countries, overcome the bourgeoisie of other countries in the same way as we overcame our own bourgeoisie? In other words: Can we regard the victory of Socialism in our country as final, i.e., as being free from the dangers of military attack and of attempts to restore capitalism, assuming that Socialism is victorious only in one country and that the capitalist encirclement continues to exist?
Such are the problems that are connected with the second side of the question of the victory of Socialism in our country.
Leninism answers these problems in the negative. Leninism teaches that "the final victory of Socialism, in the sense of full guarantee against the restoration of bourgeois relations, is possible only on an international scale" (c.f. resolution of the Fourteenth Conference of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union).
This means that the serious assistance of the international proletariat is a force without which the problem of the final victory of Socialism in one country cannot be solved.
This, of course, does not mean that we must sit with folded arms and wait for assistance from outside. On the contrary, this assistance of the international proletariat must be combined with our work to strengthen the defence of our country, to strengthen the Red Army and the Red Navy, to mobilise the whole country for the purpose of resisting military attack and attempts to restore bourgeois relations.
This is what Lenin says on this score:
"We are living not merely in a State but in a system of States, and it is inconceivable that the Soviet Republic should continue to coexist for a long period side by side with imperialist States. Ultimately one or other must conquer. Meanwhile, a number of terrible clashes between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois States is inevitable. This means that if the proletariat, as the ruling class, wants to and will rule, it must prove this also by military organization." (Collected Works, Vol. 24. P. 122.)
"We are surrounded by people, classes and governments which openly express their hatred for us. We must remember that we are at all times but a hair's breadth from invasion." (Collected Works, Vol. 27. P. 117.)
This is said sharply and strongly but honestly and truthfully without embellishment as Lenin was able to speak.
On the basis of these premises Stalin stated in "Problems of Leninism" that:
"The final victory of Socialism is the full guarantee against attempts at intervention, and that means against restoration, for any serious attempt at restoration can take place only with serious support from outside, only with the support of international capital.
"Hence the support of our revolution by the workers of all countries, and still more, the victory of the workers in at least several countries, is a necessary condition for fully guaranteeing the first victorious country against attempts at intervention and restoration, a necessary condition for the final victory of Socialism," (Problems of Leninism, 1937. P. 134.)
Indeed, it would be ridiculous and stupid to close our eyes to the capitalist encirclement and to think that our external enemies, the fascists, for example, will not, if the opportunity arises, make an attempt at a military attack upon the U.S.S.R. Only blind braggarts or masked enemies who desire to lull the vigilance of our people can think like that.
No less ridiculous would it be to deny that in the event of the slightest success of military intervention, the interventionists would try to destroy the Soviet system in the districts they occupied and restore the bourgeois system.
Did not Denikin and Kolchak restore the bourgeois system in the districts they occupied? Are the fascists any better than Denikin or Kolchak?
Only blockheads or masked enemies who with their boastfulness want to conceal their hostility and are striving to demobilise the people, can deny the danger of military intervention and attempts at restoration as long as the capitalist encirclement exists.
Can the victory of Socialism in one country be regarded as final if this country is encircled by capitalism, and if it is not fully guaranteed against the danger of intervention and restoration?
Clearly, it cannot.
This is the position in regard to the question of the victory of Socialism in one country.
It follows that this question contains two different problems:
1. The problem of the internal relations in our country, i.e., the problem of overcoming our own bourgeoisie and building complete Socialism; and
2. The problem of the external relations of our country, i.e., the problem of completely ensuring our country against the dangers of military intervention and restoration.
We have already solved the first problem, for our bourgeoisie has already been liquidated and Socialism has already been built in the main. This is what we call the victory of Socialism, or, to be more exact, the victory of Socialist Construction in one country.
We could say that this victory is final if our country were situated on an island and if it were not surrounded by numerous capitalist countries.
But as we are not living on an island but "in a system of States," a considerable number of which are hostile to the land of Socialism and create the danger of intervention and restoration, we say openly and honestly that the victory of Socialism in our country is not yet final.
But from this it follows that the second problem is not yet solved and that it has yet to be solved. More than that : the second problem cannot be solved in the way that we solved the first problem, i.e., solely by the efforts of our country.
The second problem can be solved only by combining the serious efforts of the international proletariat with the still more serious efforts of the whole of our Soviet people.
The international proletarian ties between the working class of the U.S.S.R. and the working class in bourgeois countries must be increased and strengthened; the political assistance of the working class in the bourgeois countries for the working class of our country must be organized in the event of a military attack on our country; and also every assistance of the working class of our country for the working class in bourgeois countries must be organized; our Red Army, Red Navy, Red Air Fleet, and the Chemical and Air Defence Society must be increased and strengthened to the utmost.
The whole of our people must be kept in a state of mobilisation and preparedness in the face of the danger of a military attack, so that no "accident" and no tricks on the part of our external enemies may take us by surprise...
From your letter it is evident that Comrade Urozhenko adheres to different and not quite Leninist opinions. He, it appears, asserts that "we now have the final victory of Socialism and full guarantee against intervention and the restoration of capitalism."
There cannot be the slightest doubt that Comrade Urozhenko is fundamentally wrong.
Comrade Urozhenko's assertion can be explained only by his failure to understand the surrounding reality and his ignorance of the elementary propositions of Leninism, or by empty boastfulness of a conceited young bureaucrat.
If it is true that "we have full guarantee against intervention and restoration of capitalism," then why do we need a strong Red Army, Red Navy, Red Air Fleet, a strong Chemical and Air Defence Society, more and stronger ties with the international proletariat?
Would it not be better to spend the milliards that now go for the purpose of strengthening the Red Army on other needs and to reduce the Red Army to the utmost, or even to dissolve it altogether?
People like Comrade Urozhenko, even if subjectively they are loyal to our cause, are objectively dangerous to it because by their boastfulness they - willingly or unwillingly (it makes no difference!) - lull the vigilance of our people, demobilise the workers and peasants and help the enemies to take us by surprise in the event of international complications.
As for the fact that, as it appears, you, Comrade Ivanov, have been "removed from propaganda work and the question has been raised of your fitness to remain in the Y.C.L.," you have nothing to fear.
If the people in the Regional Committee of the Y.C.L. really want to imitate Chekov's Sergeant Prishibeyev, you can be quite sure that they will lose on this game.
Prishibeyevs are not liked in our country.
Now you can judge whether the passage from the book "Problems of Leninism" on the victory of Socialism in one country is out of date or not.
I myself would very much like it to be out of date, I would like unpleasant things like capitalist encirclement, the danger of military attack, the danger of the restoration of capitalism, etc., to be things of the past. Unfortunately, however, these unpleasant things still exist.
(Signed) J. Stalin. February 12, 1938.Pravda