The Forgery of the 'Testament of Varga'

For some thirty years a document has been circulated in a number of languages across the globe which purported to be the political testament of the noted soviet economist, Eugene Varga. It has been cited as an authentic evaluation by the author of soviet society under Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev. It is evident from the statement given below by the daughter of Varga that this work is a concoction. The 'testament' first made its appearance in the USSR in Galanskov's 'samizdat' publication Phoenix in 1968. It then wended its way to France where it was brought out as 'Le Testament de Varga' by the Parisian publishing house Grasset in 1970, carrying a foreword by the philosopher, Roger Garaudy. Part of the 'testament' was swiftly published in the same year in an English journal New Left Review (No. 59, January - February, 1970) accompanied by an erudite six page commentary by Tamara Deutscher, the wife of the Polish émigré journalist, Isaac Deutscher.

That motley strands of opinion joined hands across the world to ensure the diffusion of this 'testament' indicates that very precise ideological ends were being subserved by this work. The text transmitted a particular message about soviet society which ran as follows. After the 1930s the working class no longer ruled in the Soviet Union, it had been replaced by the sway of a bureaucratic oligarchy which was not circumscribed by either the Communist Party or society at large; corresponding to this change bureaucratic centralism was substituted for democratic centralism. Such developments occurred because of the backward economic level of Soviet society inherited from the Tsarist period in which the peasantry was a dominating force, and moreover, because of the internal and external difficulties which beset the revolution. These determined an early end to the New Economic Policy and the introduction of the direct and ferocious exploitation of the workers, office employees and the peasantry. Stalin was incorrect to reason in Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR that surplus value ceased to exist in communist society as it was generated in the process of production in all stages of social production and so therefore in Soviet society where it was realised by the party bureaucratic apparatus. The repressions were justified by the theory that the class struggle intensified under socialism, there was no difference between the prisons of Hitler and Stalin and matters had not changed substantially after the death of Stalin.

This travesty of Soviet history and Marxist political economy was an heady and irresistible brew which was ready-made to be lapped up by the 'samizdat' circles in the fin de siècle Soviet Union, the Roger Garaudys, the New Left Review and the Tamara Deutschers.

It is apparent that G. Pospelov, the real author of the 'Varga Testament' and those forces in the west who swooped upon this book leaned on the intellectual prestige earned by the scientific activity of E. Varga over more than four decades. From the standpoint of the Marxist-Leninists this heritage comprises of contradictory facets. In his quarterly economic reports to the comintern and in works such as Two Systems (London, 1939) and Basic Questions of the Economics and Politics of Imperialism after the Second World War (in Russian, Moscow, 1953), Varga made substantial contributions to Marxism-Leninism. Yet after the Second World War he adopted reformist positions on a number of questions as in his appraisal of the New Democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and the colonial question. Regarding the latter he adopted elements of the social-democratic 'decolonisation' theory in the period 1946-49 according to which 'deep changes' had taken place after the war in the relation between the metropolis and the colonies in such countries as Egypt and India. (Marxism and the General Crisis of Capitalism, Bombay, 1948). After the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU in 1956 Varga returned to 'decolonisation' theory. In his zeal he assailed the views expressed by Lenin at the 2nd Congress of the comintern in 1920 on the necessity to make a distinction between the reformist and revolutionary sections of the national bourgeoisie in the colonial countries, a position which was sustained at the 6th congress of the comintern in 1928. (Politico-Economic Problems of Capitalism, Moscow, 1968). Reference is made in the statement below to the last work of Varga, which is not available to us at present, which has been published in full in Germany in 1994. This journal expresses its appreciation to Svetlana Alekseevna Bondareva and T.G. Aviliani, Deputy of the State Duma, for assisting us to contact the Varga family.



Evgenii Varga died in 1964. 2-3 years afterwards in Moscow some rumours appeared about some unknown manuscript that allegedly was written by him. The manuscript appeared in 'samizdat' and created a lot of interest. My mother and I did not think that this manuscript was ever written by Varga.

In the 70s Roger Garaudy published a book in France called 'The Testament of Varga'. In the foreword Garaudy wrote that Varga was the author of this document. The book was successful and was further published in other languages. The Soviet press, heavily, criticized this book as anti-Soviet. The students and colleagues of E. Varga were of the opinion that this document was not written by him.

Only in the mid-90s the identity of the real author of 'Varga's Testament' came to the public. Under the false name of the late Academician Evgenii Varga, G. Pospelov 'published' his own manuscript in 'samizdat'. His son, G.G. Pospelov acknowledged this fact in a letter to the émigré journal 'Russkaya Misl'.

E. Varga during the last years of his life had worked on a book that he could not finish and he did not mean to publish at that time. A few days before his death he handed the manuscript to me. Father wished that this book not be read for 25 years. I was supposed to read the manuscript in 25 years and decide whether to publish it, in a press however that would not be hostile to the USSR. In 1989 I read the manuscript that the author could not finish, had no index and was written in German. Following the suggestion of Mikhael Gefter, an highly esteemed historian, the manuscript was translated into Russian and excerpts were published in 1991 in issues 2 and 3 of the journal 'Polis' (Academy of Sciences, a scientific and social-political journal, No. 2, pp.175-183 and No. 2 pp.148-164). The complete text in the original German was published in 1994 in Berlin. The book of Gerhard Duda 'Evgenii Varga and the History of the Institute of the World Economy and World Politics of Moscow (1921-1970)' contains the full text of Varga's last book as an appendix. (Gerhard Duda `Jenö Varga und die Geschichte des Instituts für Weltwirtschaft und Weltpolitik in Moskau 1921-1970' in Anhang Jenö Varga - Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript,' Akademie Verlag GmbH, Berlin, 1994).

The book was published under the title 'Unpublished manuscript' on pages 359-447.


M. Varga.

Translated from the Russian by 'Inter'.

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