MAO TSE TUNG: ON THE QUESTION OF STALIN
Note: In order to seek the historical truth we need all points of view. We do this by publishing authentic texts by Mao Tse-tung, a great leader who influenced world history. The texts are authentic without any interpretations or footnotes. It is about documents of great importance and meaning. Needless to say that all documents are judged in their place and time, in the context of their era.
On The Question Of Stalin
Second Comment on the Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU
[SOURCE: by the Editorial Departments of Renmin Ribao (People's Daily) and Hongqi (Red Flag), September 13, 1963]
THE question of Stalin is one of world-wide importance which has had repercussions among all classes in every country and which is still a subject of much discussion today, with different classes and their political parties and groups taking different views. It is likely that no final verdict can be reached on this question in the present century. But there is virtual agreement among the majority of the international working class and of revolutionary people, who disapprove of the complete negation of Stalin and more and more cherish his memory. This is also true of the Soviet Union. Our controversy with the leaders of the CPSU is with a section of people. We hope to persuade them in order to advance the revolutionary cause. This is our purpose in writing the present article.
The Communist Party of China has always held that when Comrade Khrushchov completely negated Stalin on the pretext of “combating the personality cult”, he was quite wrong and had ulterior motives.
The Central Committee of the CPC pointed out in its letter of June 14 that the “struggle against the personality cult” violates Lenin’s integral teachings on the interrelationship of leaders, party, class, and masses, and undermines the Communist principle of democratic centralism.
The Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU avoids making any reply to our principled arguments, but merely labels the Chinese Communists as “defenders of the personality cult and peddlers of Stalin’s erroneous ideas”.
When he was fighting the Mensheviks, Lenin said, “Not to reply to an argument of one’s opponent on a question of principle, and to ascribe only ‘pathos’ to him, means not to argue but to turn to abuse.” [V.I. Lenin, “Some Remarks of the ‘Reply’ by P. Maslov”, Collected Works, Eng. Ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1963, vol. XV, p. 255] The attitude shown by the Central Committee of the CPSU in its Open Letter is exactly like that of the Mensheviks.
Even though the Open Letter resorts to abuse in place of debate, we on our part prefer to reply to it with principled arguments and a great many facts.
The great Soviet Union was the first state of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In the beginning, the foremost leader of the Party and the Government in this state was Lenin. After Lenin’s death, it was Stalin.
After Lenin’s death, Stalin became not only the leader of the Party and Government of the Soviet Union but the acknowledged leader of the international communist movement as well.
It is only forty-six years since the first socialist state was inaugurated by the October Revolution. For nearly thirty of these years Stalin was the foremost leader of this state. Whether in the history of the dictatorship of the proletariat or in that of the international communist movement, Stalin’s activities occupy an extremely important place.
The Chinese Communist Party has consistently maintained that the question of how to evaluate Stalin and what attitude to take towards him is not just one of appraising Stalin himself; more important, it is a question of how to sum up the historical experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of the international communist movement since Lenin’s death.
Comrade Khrushchov completely negated Stalin at the 20th Congress of the CPSU. He failed to consult the fraternal Parties in advance on this question of principle which involves the whole international communist movement, and afterwards tried to impose a fait accompli on them. Whoever makes an appraisal of Stalin different from that of the leadership of the CPSU is charged with “defence of the personality cult” as well as “interference” in the internal affairs of the CPSU. But no one can deny the international significance of the historical experience of the first state of the dictatorship of the proletariat, or the historical fact that Stalin was the leader of the international communist movement; consequently, no one can deny that the appraisal of Stalin is an important question of principle involving the whole international communist movement. On what ground, then, do the leaders of the CPSU forbid other fraternal Parties to make a realistic analysis and appraisal of Stalin?
The Communist Party of China has invariably insisted on an overall, objective and scientific analysis of Stalin’s merits and demerits by the method of historical materialism and the presentation of history as it actually occurred, and has opposed the subjective, crude and complete negation of Stalin by the method of historical idealism and the wilful distortion and alteration of history.
The Communist Party of China has consistently held that Stalin did commit errors, which had their ideological as well as social and historical roots. It is necessary to criticize the errors Stalin actually committed, not those groundlessly attributed to him, and to do so from a correct stand and with correct methods. But we have consistently opposed improper criticism of Stalin, made from a wrong stand and with wrong methods.
Stalin fought tsarism and propagated Marxism during Lenin’s lifetime; after he became a member of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party headed by Lenin; he took part in the struggle to pave the way for the 1917 Revolution; after the October Revolution he fought to defend the fruits of the proletarian revolution.
Stalin led the CPSU and the Soviet people, after Lenin’s death, in resolutely fighting both internal and external foes, and in safeguarding and consolidating the first socialist state in the world.
Stalin led the CPSU and the Soviet people in upholding the line of socialist industrialization and agricultural collectivization and in achieving great successes in socialist transformation and socialist construction.
Stalin led the CPSU, the Soviet people, and the Soviet army in an arduous and bitter struggle to the great victory of the anti-fascist war.
Stalin defended and developed Marxism-Leninism in the fight against various kinds of opportunism, against the enemies of Leninism, the Trotskyites, Zinovievites, Bukharinites, and other bourgeois agents.
Stalin made an indelible contribution to the international communist movement in a number of theoretical writings which are immortal Marxist-Leninist works.
Stalin led the Soviet Party and Government in pursuing a foreign policy which on the whole was in keeping with proletarian internationalism and in greatly assisting the revolutionary struggles of all peoples, including the Chinese people.
Stalin stood in the forefront of the tide of history guiding the struggle, and was an irreconcilable enemy of the imperialists and all reactionaries.
Stalin’s activities were intimately bound up with the struggles of the great CPSU and the great Soviet people and inseparable from the revolutionary struggles of the people of the whole world.
Stalin’s life was that of a great Marxist-Leninist, a great proletarian revolutionary.
It is true that while he performed meritorious deeds for the Soviet people and the international communist movement, Stalin, a great Marxist-Leninist and proletarian revolutionary, also made certain mistakes. Some were errors of principle and some were errors made in the course of practical work; some could have been avoided and some were scarcely avoidable at a time when the dictatorship of the proletariat had no precedent to go by.
In his way of thinking, Stalin departed from dialectical materialism and fell into metaphysics and subjectivism on certain questions and consequently he was sometimes divorced from reality and from the masses. In struggles inside as well as outside the Party, on certain occasions and on certain questions he confused two types of contradictions which are different in nature, contradictions between ourselves and the enemy and contradictions among the people, and also confused the different methods needed in handling them. In the work led by Stalin of suppressing the counter-revolution, many counter-revolutionaries deserving punishment were duly punished, but at the same time there were innocent people who were wrongly convicted; and in 1937 and 1938 there occurred the error of enlarging the scope of the suppression of counter-revolutionaries. In the matter of Party and government organization, he did not fully apply proletarian democratic centralism and, to some extent, violated it. In handling relations with fraternal Parties and countries, he made some mistakes. He also gave some bad counsel in the international communist movement. These mistakes caused some losses to the Soviet Union and the international communist movement.
Stalin’s merits and mistakes are matters of historical, objective reality. A comparison of the two shows that his merits outweighed his faults. He was primarily correct, and his faults were secondary. In summing up Stalin’s thinking and his work in their totality, surely every honest Communist with a respect for history will first observe what was primary in Stalin. Therefore, when Stalin’s errors are being correctly appraised, criticized and overcome, it is necessary to safeguard what was primary in Stalin’s life, to safeguard Marxism-Leninism, which he defended and developed.
It would be beneficial if the errors of Stalin, which were only secondary, are taken as historical lessons so that the Communists of the Soviet Union and other countries might take warning and avoid repeating those errors or commit fewer errors. Both positive and negative historical lessons are beneficial to all Communists, provided they are drawn correctly and conform with and do not distort historical facts.
Lenin pointed out more than once that Marxists were totally different from the revisionists of the Second International in their attitude towards people like Bebel and Rosa Luxemburg, who, for all their mistakes, were great proletarian revolutionaries. Marxists did not conceal these people’s mistakes but through such examples learned “how to avoid them and live up to the more rigorous requirements of revolutionary Marxism”. [V I. Lenin, “Preface to the Pamphlet by Voinov (A. V. Lunacharsky) on the Attitude of the Party Towards the Trade Unions”, Collected Works, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1962, Vol. XIII, p. 165.] By contrast, the revisionists “crowed” and “cackled” over the mistakes of Bebel and Rosa Luxemburg. Ridiculing the revisionists, Lenin quoted a Russian fable in this connection. “Sometimes eagles may fly lower than hens, but hens can never rise to the height of eagles.” [V. I. Lenin, “Notes of a Publicist”, Selected Works, Eng. ed., International Publishers, New York, 1943, Vol. X, p. 312.] Bebel and Rosa Luxemburg were “great Communists” and, in spite of their mistakes, remained “eagles”, while the revisionists were a flock of “hens” “in the backyard of the working class movement, among the dung heaps”. [Ibid., p. 313]
The historical role of Bebel and Rosa Luxemburg is by no means comparable to that of Stalin. Stalin was the great leader of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the international communist movement over a whole historical era, and greater care should be exercised in evaluating him.
The leaders of the CPSU have accused the Chinese Communist Party of “defending” Stalin. Yes, we do defend Stalin. When Khrushchov distorts history and completely negates Stalin, naturally we have the inescapable duty to come forward and defend him in the interests of the international communist movement.
In defending Stalin, the Chinese Communist Party defends his correct side, defends the glorious history of struggle of the first state of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which was created by the October Revolution; it defends the glorious history of struggle of the CPSU; it defends the prestige of the international communist movement among working people throughout the world. In brief, it defends the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism. It is not only the Chinese Communists who are doing this; all Communists devoted to Marxism-Leninism, all staunch revolutionaries and all fair-minded people have been doing the same thing.
While defending Stalin, we do not defend his mistakes. Long ago the Chinese Communists had first-hand experience of some of his mistakes. Of the erroneous “Left” and Right opportunist lines which emerged in the Chinese Communist Party at one time or another, some arose under the influence of certain mistakes of Stalin’s, in so far as their international sources were concerned. In the late twenties, the thirties and the early and middle forties, the Chinese Marxist-Leninists represented by Comrades Mao Tse-tung and Liu Shao-chi resisted the influence of Stalin’s mistakes; they gradually overcame the erroneous lines of “Left” and Right opportunism and finally led the Chinese revolution to victory.
But since some of the wrong ideas put forward by Stalin were accepted and applied by certain Chinese comrades, we Chinese should bear the responsibility. In its struggle against “Left” and Right opportunism, therefore, our Party criticized only its own erring comrades and never put the blame on Stalin. The purpose of our criticism was to distinguish between right and wrong, learn the appropriate lessons and advance the revolutionary cause. We merely asked the erring comrades that they should correct their mistakes. If they failed to do so, we waited until they were gradually awakened by their own practical experience, provided they did not organize secret groups for clandestine and disruptive activities. Our method was the proper method of inner-Party criticism and self-criticism; we started from the desire for unity and arrived at a new unity on a new basis through criticism and struggle, and thus good results were achieved. We held that these were contradictions among the people and not between the enemy and ourselves, and that therefore we should use the above method.
What attitude have Comrade Khrushchov and other leaders of the CPSU taken towards Stalin since the 20th Congress of the CPSU?
They have not made an overall historical and scientific analysis of his life and work but have completely negated him without any distinction between right and wrong.
They have treated Stalin not as a comrade but as an enemy.
They have not adopted the method of criticism and self-criticism to sum up experience but have blamed Stalin for all errors, or ascribed to him the “mistakes” they have arbitrarily invented.
They have not presented the facts and reasoned things out but have made demagogic personal attacks on Stalin in order to poison people’s minds.
Khrushchov has abused Stalin as a “murderer”, a “criminal” a “bandit”, a “gambler”, a “despot of the type of Ivan the Terrible”, “the greatest dictator in Russian history”, a “fool”, an “idiot”, etc. When we are compelled to cite all this filthy, vulgar and malicious language, we are afraid it may soil our pen and paper.
Khrushchov has maligned Stalin as “the greatest dictator in Russian history”. Does not this mean that the Soviet people lived for thirty long years under the “tyranny” of “the greatest dictator in Russian history” and not under the socialist system? The great Soviet people and the revolutionary people of the whole world completely disagree with this slander!
Khrushchov has maligned Stalin as a “despot of the type of Ivan the Terrible”. Does not this mean that the experience the great CPSU and the great Soviet people provided over thirty years for people the world over was not the experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat but that of life under the rule of a feudal “despot”? The great Soviet people, the Soviet Communists and Marxist-Leninists of the whole world completely disagree with this slander!
Khrushchov has maligned Stalin as a “bandit”. Does not this mean that the first socialist state in the world was for a long period headed by a “bandit”? The great Soviet people and the revolutionary people of the whole world completely disagree with this slander!
Khrushchov has maligned Stalin as a “fool”. Does not this mean that the CPSU which waged heroic revolutionary struggles over the past decades had a “fool“ as its leader? The Soviet Communists and Marxist-Leninists of the whole world completely disagree with this slander!
Khrushchov has maligned Stalin as an “idiot”. Does not this mean that the great Soviet army which triumphed in the anti-fascist war had an “idiot” as its supreme commander? The glorious Soviet commanders and fighters and all anti-fascist fighters of the world completely disagree with this slander!
Khrushchov has maligned Stalin as a “murderer”. Does not this mean that the international communist movement had a “murderer” as its teacher for decades? Communists of the whole world, including the Soviet Communists, completely disagree with this slander!
Khrushchov has maligned Stalin as a “gambler”. Does not this mean that the revolutionary peoples had a “gambler” as their standard-bearer in the struggles against imperialism and reaction? All revolutionary people of the world, including the Soviet people, completely disagree with this slander!
Such abuse of Stalin by Khrushchov is a gross insult to the great Soviet people, a gross insult to the CPSU, to the Soviet army, to the dictatorship of the proletariat and to the socialist system, to the international communist movement, to the revolutionary people the world over and to Marxism-Leninism.
In what position does Khrushchov, who participated in the leadership of the Party and the state during Stalin’s period, place himself when he beats his breast, pounds the table and shouts abuse of Stalin at the top of his voice? In the position of an accomplice to a “murderer” or a “bandit”? Or in the same position as a “fool” or an “idiot”?
What difference is there between such abuse of Stalin by Khrushchov and the abuse by the imperialists, the reactionaries in various countries, and the renegades to communism? Why such inveterate hatred of Stalin? Why attack him more ferociously than you do the enemy?
In abusing Stalin, Khrushchov is in fact wildly denouncing the Soviet system and state. His language in this connection is by no means weaker but is actually stronger than that of such renegades as Kautsky, Trotsky, Tito and Djilas.
People should quote the following passage from the Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU and ask Khrushchov: “How can they say these things about the party of the great Lenin, about the motherland of socialism, about the people who were the first in the world to accomplish a socialist revolution, upheld its great gains in fierce battles against international imperialism and domestic counter-revolution, are displaying miracles of heroism and dedication in the effort to build communism, are faithfully fulfilling their internationalist duty to the working people of the world”!
In his article, “The Political Significance of Abuse”, Lenin said, “Abuse in politics often covers up the utter lack of ideological content, the helplessness and the impotence, the annoying impotence of the abuser.” Does this not apply to the leaders of the CPSU who, feeling constantly haunted by the spectre of Stalin, try to cover up their total lack of principle, their helplessness and annoying impotence by abusing Stalin?
The great majority of the Soviet people disapprove of such abuse of Stalin. They increasingly cherish the memory of Stalin. The leaders of the CPSU have seriously isolated themselves from the masses. They always feel they are being threatened by the haunting spectre of Stalin, which is in fact the broad masses’ great dissatisfaction with the complete negation of Stalin. So far Khrushchov has not dared to let the Soviet people and the other people in the socialist camp see the secret report completely negating Stalin which he made to the 20th Congress of the CPSU, because it is a report which cannot bear the light of day, a report which would seriously alienate the masses.
Especially noteworthy is the fact that while they abuse Stalin in every possible way, the leaders of the CPSU regard Eisenhower, Kennedy and the like “with respect and trust”. They abuse Stalin as a “despot of the type of Ivan the Terrible” and “the greatest dictator in Russian history”, but compliment both Eisenhower and Kennedy as “having the support of the absolute majority of the American people”! They abuse Stalin as an “idiot” but praise Eisenhower and Kennedy as “sensible”! On the one hand, they viciously lash at a great Marxist-Leninist, a great proletarian revolutionary and a great leader of the international communist movement, and on the other, they laud the chieftains of imperialism to the skies. Is there any possibility that the connection between these phenomena is merely accidental and that it does not follow with inexorable logic from the betrayal of Marxism-Leninism?
If his memory is not too short, Khrushchov ought to remember that at a mass rally held in Moscow in January 1937 he himself rightly condemned those who had attacked Stalin, saying, “In lifting their hand against Comrade Stalin, they lifted it against all of us, against the working class and the working people! In lifting their hand against Comrade Stalin, they lifted it against the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin!” Khrushchov himself repeatedly extolled Stalin as an “intimate friend and comrade-in-arms of the great Lenin”, as “the greatest genius, teacher and leader of mankind” and “the great, ever-victorious marshal”, as “the sincere friend of the people” and as his “own father”.
If one compares the remarks made by Khrushchov when Stalin was alive with those made after his death, one will not fail to see that Khrushchov has made a 180-degree turn in his evaluation of Stalin.
If his memory is not too short, Khrushchov should of course remember that during the period of Stalin’s leadership he himself was particularly active in supporting and carrying out the then prevailing policy for suppressing counter-revolutionaries.
On June 6, 1937, at the Fifth Party Conference of Moscow Province, Khrushchov declared:
Our Party will mercilessly crush the band of traitors and betrayers, and wipe out all the Trotskyist-Right dregs.... The guarantee of this is the unshakable leadership of our Central Committee, the unshakable leadership of our leader Comrade Stalin.... We shall totally annihilate the enemies — to the last man — and scatter their ashes to the winds.
On June 8, 1938, at the Fourth Party Conference of Kiev Province, Khrushchov declared:
The Yakyirs, Balyitskys, Lyubchenkys, Zatonskys and other scum wanted to bring Polish landowners to the Ukraine, wanted to bring here the German fascists, landlords and capitalists.... We have annihilated a considerable number of enemies, but still not all. Therefore, it is necessary to keep our eyes open. We should bear firmly in mind the words of Comrade Stalin, that as long as capitalist encirclement exists, spies and saboteurs will be smuggled into our country.
Why does Khrushchov, who was in the leadership of the Party and the state in Stalin’s period and who actively supported and firmly executed the policy for suppressing counter-revolutionaries, repudiate everything done during this period and shift the blame for all errors on to Stalin alone, while altogether whitewashing himself?
When Stalin did something wrong, he was capable of criticizing himself. For instance, he had given some bad counsel with regard to the Chinese revolution. After the victory of the Chinese revolution, he admitted his mistake. Stalin also admitted some of his mistakes in the work of purifying the Party ranks in his report to the 18th Congress of the CPSU(B) in 1939. But what about Khrushchov? He simply does not know what self-criticism is; all he does is to shift the entire blame on to others and claim the entire credit for himself.
It is not surprising that these ugly actions of Khrushchov’s should have taken place when modern revisionism is on the rampage. As Lenin said in 1915 when he criticized the revisionists of the Second International for their betrayal of Marxism:
This is not at all surprising in this day of words forgotten, principles lost, philosophies overthrown, and resolutions and solemn promises discarded. [V. I. Lenin, “Preface to N. Bukharin’s Pamphlet, Imperialism and the World Economy”, Collected Works, Eng. ed., Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964, Vol. XXII, P. 104.]
As the train of events since the 20th Congress of the CPSU has fully shown, the complete negation of Stalin by the leadership of the CPSU has had extremely serious consequences.
It has provided the imperialists and the reactionaries of all countries with exceedingly welcome anti-Soviet and anti-Communist ammunition. Shortly after the 20th Congress of the CPSU, the imperialists exploited Khrushchov’s secret anti-Stalin report to stir up a world-wide tidal wave against the Soviet Union and against communism. The imperialists, the reactionaries of all countries, the Tito clique and opportunists of various descriptions all leapt at the chance to attack the Soviet Union, the socialist camp and the Communist Parties; thus many fraternal Parties and countries were placed in serious difficulties.
The frantic campaign against Stalin by the leadership of the CPSU enabled the Trotskyites, who had long been political corpses, to come to life again and clamour for the “rehabilitation” of Trotsky. In November 1961, at the conclusion of the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, the International Secretariat of the so-called Fourth International stated in a Letter to the 22nd Congress of the CPSU and Its New Central Committee that in 1937 Trotsky said a monument would be erected to the honour of the victims of Stalin. “Today,” it continued, “this prediction has come true. Before your Congress the First Secretary of your Party has promised the erection of this monument.” In this letter the specific demand was made that the name of Trotsky be “engraved in letters of gold on the monument erected in honour of the victims of Stalin”. The Trotskyites made no secret of their joy, declaring that the anti-Stalin campaign started by the leadership of the CPSU had “opened the door for Trotskyism” and would “greatly help the advance of Trotskyism and its organization — the Fourth International”.
In completely negating Stalin, the leaders of the CPSU have motives that cannot bear the light of day.
Stalin died in 1953; three years later the leaders of the CPSU violently attacked him at the 20th Congress, and eight years after his death they again did so at the 22nd Congress, removing and burning his remains. In repeating their violent attacks on Stalin, the leaders of the CPSU aimed at erasing the indelible influence of this great proletarian revolutionary among the people of the Soviet Union and throughout the world, and at paving the way for negating Marxism-Leninism, which Stalin had defended and developed, and for the all-out application of a revisionist line. Their revisionist line began exactly with the 20th Congress and became fully systematized at the 22nd Congress. The facts have shown ever more clearly that their revision of the Marxist-Leninist theories on imperialism, war and peace, proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, revolution in the colonies and semi-colonies, the proletarian party, etc., is inseparably connected with their complete negation of Stalin.
It is under the cover of “combating the personality cult” that the leadership of the CPSU tries to negate Stalin completely.
In launching “the combat against the personality cult”, the leaders of the CPSU are not out to restore what they call “the Leninist standards of Party life and principles of leadership”. On the contrary, they are violating Lenin’s teachings on the interrelationship of leaders, party, class and masses and contravening the principle of democratic centralism in the Party.
Marxist-Leninists maintain that if the revolutionary party of the proletariat is genuinely to serve as the headquarters of the proletariat in struggle, it must correctly handle the interrelationship of leaders, party, class and masses and must be organized on the principle of democratic centralism. Such a Party must have a fairly stable nucleus of leadership, which should consist of a group of long-tested leaders who are good at integrating the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of revolution.
The leaders of the proletarian party, whether members of the Central or local committees, emerge from the masses in the course of class struggles and mass revolutionary movements. They are infinitely loyal to the masses, have close ties with them and are good at correctly concentrating the ideas of the masses and then carrying them through. Such leaders are genuine representatives of the proletariat and are acknowledged by the masses. It is a sign of the political maturity of a proletarian party for it to have such leaders, and herein lies the hope of victory for the cause of the proletariat. Lenin was absolutely right in saying that “not a single class in history has achieved power without producing its political leaders, its prominent representatives able to organise a movement and lead it”. He also said:
The training of experienced and most influential Party leaders is a long-term and difficult task. But without this, the dictatorship of the proletariat, its “unity of will”, will remain a phrase.
The Communist Party of China has always adhered to the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the role of the masses and the individual in history and on the interrelationship of leaders, party, class and masses, and upheld democratic centralism in the Party. We have always maintained collective leadership; at the same time, we are against belittling the role of leaders. While we attach importance to this role, we are against dishonest and excessive eulogy of individuals and exaggeration of their role. As far back as 1949 the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, on Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s suggestion, took a decision forbidding public celebrations of any kind on the birthdays of Party leaders and the naming of places, streets or enterprises after them.
This consistent and correct approach of ours is fundamentally different from the “combat against the personality cult” advocated by the leadership of the CPSU.
It has become increasingly clear that in advocating the “combat against the personality cult” the leaders of the CPSU do not intend, as they themselves claim, to promote democracy, practise collective leadership and oppose exaggeration of the role of the individual but have ulterior motives.
What exactly is the gist of their “combat against the personality cult”?
To put it bluntly, it is nothing but the following:
1. on the pretext of “combating the personality cult”, to counterpose Stalin, the leader of the Party, to the Party organization, the proletariat and the masses of the people;
2. on the pretext of “combating the personality cult”, to besmirch the proletarian party, the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the socialist system;
3. on the pretext of “combating the personality cult”, to build themselves up and to attack revolutionaries loyal to Marxism-Leninism so as to pave the way for revisionist schemers to usurp the Party and state leadership;
4. on the pretext of “combating the personality cult”, to interfere in the internal affairs of fraternal Parties and countries and strive to subvert their leadership to suit themselves; and
5. on the pretext of “combating the personality cult”, to attack fraternal Parties which adhere to Marxism-Leninism and to split the international communist movement.
The “combat against the personality cult” launched by Khrushchov is a despicable political intrigue. Like someone described by Marx, “He is in his element as an intriguer, while a nonentity as a theorist.” [“Marx to F. Bolte”, Selected Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Ger. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1950, Vol. II, p. 438.]
The Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU states that “while rejecting the personality cult and combating its consequences” they have “a high regard for leaders who . . . enjoy deserved prestige”. What does this mean? It means that, while trampling Stalin underfoot, the leaders of the CPSU laud Khrushchov to the skies.
They describe Khrushchov, who was not yet a Communist at the time of the October Revolution and who was a low ranking political worker during the Civil War, as an “active creator of the Red Army”.
They ascribe the great victory of the decisive battle in the Soviet Patriotic War entirely to Khrushchov, saying that in the Battle of Stalingrad “Khrushchov’s voice was very frequently heard” and that he was “the soul of the Stalingraders”.
They attribute the great achievements in nuclear weapons and rocketry wholly to Khrushchov, calling him “cosmic father”. But as everybody knows, the success of the Soviet Union in manufacturing the atom and hydrogen bombs was a great achievement of the Soviet scientists and technicians and the Soviet people under Stalin’s leadership. The foundations of rocketry were also laid in Stalin’s time. How can these important historical facts be obliterated? How can all credit be given to Khrushchov?
They laud Khrushchov who has revised the fundamental theories of Marxism-Leninism and who holds that Leninism is outmoded as the “brilliant model who creatively developed and enriched Marxist-Leninist theory”.
What the leaders of the CPSU are doing under the cover of “combating the personality cult” is exactly as Lenin said:
. . . in place of the old leaders, who hold ordinary human views on ordinary matters, new leaders are put forth... who talk supernatural nonsense and confusion. [V. I. Lenin “‘Left-Wing’ Communism, an Infantile Disorder” Selected Works, Eng. ed., International Publishers, New York, 1943 vol. x, p. 82.]
The Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU slanders our stand in adhering to Marxism-Leninism, asserting that we “are trying to impose upon other Parties the order of things, the ideology and morals, the forms and methods of leadership that flourished in the period of the personality cult”. This remark again exposes the absurdity of the combat against the personality cult”.
According to the leaders of the CPSU, after the October Revolution put an end to capitalism in Russia there followed a “period of the personality cult”. It would seem that the “social system” and “the ideology and morals” of that period were not socialist. In that period the Soviet working people were under a “heavy burden”, there prevailed an “atmosphere of fear, suspicion and uncertainty which poisoned the life of the people”, and Soviet society was impeded in its development. [Open Letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to all Party Organizations, to All Communists of the Soviet Union, July 14, 1963.]
In his speech at the Soviet-Hungarian friendship rally on July 19, 1963, Khrushchov dwelt on what he called Stalin’s rule of “terror”, saying that Stalin “maintained his power with an axe”. He described the social order of the time in the following terms: “. . . in that period a man leaving for work often did not know whether he would return home, whether he would see his wife and children again.”
“The period of the personality cult” as described by the leadership of the CPSU was one when society was more “hateful” and “barbarous” than in the period of feudalism or capitalism.
According to the leadership of the CPSU, the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist system of society which were established as a result of the October Revolution failed to remove the oppression of the working people or accelerate the development of Soviet society for several decades; only after the 20th Congress of the CPSU carried out the “combat against the personality cult” was the “heavy burden” removed from the working people and “the development of Soviet society” suddenly “accelerated”.
Khrushchov said, “Ah! If only Stalin had died ten years earlier!” As everybody knows, Stalin died in 1953; ten years earlier would have been 1943, the very year when the Soviet Union began its counter-offensive in the Great Patriotic War. At that time, who wanted Stalin to die? Hitler!
It is not a new thing in the history of the international communist movement for the enemies of Marxism-Leninism to vilify the leaders of the proletariat and try to undermine the proletarian cause by using some such slogan as “combating the personality cult”. It is a dirty trick which people saw through long ago.
In the period of the First International the schemer Bakunin used similar language to rail at Marx. At first, to worm himself into Marx’s confidence, he wrote him, “I am your disciple and I am proud of it.” Later, when he failed in his plot to usurp the leadership of the First International, he abused Marx and said, “As a German and a Jew, he is authoritarian from head to heels” and a “dictator”.
In the period of the Second International the renegade Kautsky used similar language to rail at Lenin. He slandered Lenin, likening him to “the God of monotheists” who had reduced Marxism “to the status not only of a state religion but of a medieval or oriental faith”.
In the period of the Third International the renegade Trotsky similarly used such language to rail at Stalin. He said that Stalin was a “tyrant” and that “the Stalinist bureaucracy has created a vile leader-cult, attributing to leaders divine qualities”.
The modern revisionist Tito clique also use similar words to rail at Stalin, saying that Stalin was the “dictator” “in a system of absolute personal power”.
Thus it is clear that the issue of “combating the personality cult” raised by the leadership of the CPSU has come down through Bakunin, Kautsky, Trotsky and Tito, all of whom used it to attack the leaders of the proletariat and undermine the proletarian revolutionary movement.
The opportunists in the history of the international communist movement were unable to negate Marx, Engels or Lenin by vilification, nor is Khrushchov able to negate Stalin by vilification.
As Lenin pointed out, a privileged position cannot ensure the success of vilification.
Khrushchov was able to utilize his privileged position to remove the body of Stalin from the Lenin Mausoleum, but try as he may, he can never succeed in removing the great image of Stalin from the minds of the Soviet people and of the people throughout the world.
Khrushchov can utilize his privileged position to revise Marxism-Leninism one way or another, but try as he may, he can never succeed in overthrowing Marxism-Leninism which Stalin defended and which is defended by Marxist-Leninists throughout the world.
We would like to offer a word of sincere advice to Comrade Khrushchov. We hope you will become aware of your errors and return from your wrong path to the path of Marxism-Leninism.
Long live the great revolutionary teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin!
[1.] N. S. Khrushchov, Conversation with the Delegation of the Chinese Communist Party, October 22, 1961.
[2.] N. S. Khrushchov, Speech at the May Day Reception of 1962 Given by the Soviet Government.
[3.] N. S. Khrushchov, Conversation with the Delegation of the Chinese Communist Party. October 22. 1961.
[4.] N. S. Khrushchov, Letter in Reply to J. F. Kennedy, October 28 1962.
[5.] N. S. Khrushchov, Replies to the Questions by the Editors-in-Chief of Pravda and Izvestia. in Pravda. June 15. 1963.
[6.] N. S. Khrushchov, “Stalin and the Great Friendship of the Peoples of the Soviet Union”, Pravda, December 21, 1939.
[7.] N. S. Khrushchov, Speech at the 18th Congress of the CPSU(B), Pravda, March 15, 1939.
[8.] N. S. Khrushchov and others, Letter to All the Officers and Men of the Soviet Red Army, Pravda, May 13, 1945.
[9.] N. S. Khrushchov, “Stalin and the Great Friendship of the Peoples of the Soviet Union”, Pravda, December 21, 1939.
[10.] N. S. Khrushchov, “Stalinist Friendship Among the Peoples — Guarantee of the Invincibility of Our Motherland”, Pravda, December 21, 1949.
[11.] V. I. Lenin, “The Urgent Tasks of Our Movement”, Selected Works, Eng. ed., International Publishers, New York, 1943, Vol. II, p. 13.
[12.] V. I. Lenin, “A Letter to the German Communists”, Collected Works, Russ. ed., SPPL, Moscow, 1950, Vol. XXXII, p. 492.
[13.] “Life for the People”, Zarva Vostoka, December 17, 1961.
[14.] “Created and Reared by the Party”, Agitator, No. 2, 1963.
[15.] V. I. Chuikov, Speech at the Rally Marking the 20th Anniversary of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, Pravda, June 22, 1961.
[16.] G. S. Titov, Speech at the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, October 26, 1961.
[17.] A N. Kosygin, Speech at the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, October 21, 1961.]
[19.] N. S. Khrushchov, Speech at the Soviet-Hungarian Friendship Rally in Moscow, July 19, 1963.
[20.] M. A. Bakunin’s Letter to Karl Marx, December 22, 1868, Die Neue Zeit, No. 1, 1900.
[21.] Franz Mehring, Karl Marx, the Story of His Life, Eng. ed., Covici Friede Publishers, New York, 1935, p. 429.
[22.] Engels to A. Bebel, June 20, 1873, Selected Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1951, Vol. II, p. 432.
[23.] Karl Kautsky, Social Democracy Versus Communism, Eng. ed., Rand School Press, New York, 1946, p. 54.
[24.] Ibid., p. 29.
[25.] Leon Trotsky, Stalin, an Appraisal of the Man and His Influence, Eng. ed., Harper and Brothers, New York and London, 1941, p. 420.
[26.] Leon Trotsky, “The Stalinist Bureaucracy and the Assassination of Kirov”, On the Kirov Assassination, Eng. ed., Pioneer Publishers New York, 1956, p. 17.
[27.] Edvard Kardelj, “Five Years Later”, Borba, June 28, 1953.
Transcription by the Maoist Documentation Project.
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