By a commentator for Tjen Folket Media.
Joseph Stalin was the foremost leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union, and the international communist movement for nearly three decades. He is routinely denigrated to the highest degree in bourgeois media.
A Great Revolutionary Must be Denigrated
Stalin led the Soviet Union’s socialist construction, which led the country from the Middle Ages to the Atomic Age in under thirty years. He led the great war against fascism, and led the Soviet Union to victory against Nazi Germany, a victory that liberated almost all of Europe from Hitler-Mussolini fascism. He led the struggle against social democrats, agents, and right-opportunists who threatened socialism from within. He defined Leninism as the second stage of the proletariat’s ideology. He himself contributed to this ideology with works on the national question, socialism’s economy, linguistics, revolutionary strategy and tactics, philosophy, and social democracy.
Under Stalin’s leadership of the communist movement, the socialist world went from numbering just one country (the Soviet Union) to comprising a socialist camp of Eastern and Central Europe, the Soviet Union, and China.
It is therefore very understandable that communism’s enemies hate Stalin, and use all means at their disposal to tarnish the legacy of his life and works.
The Success og Socialism and Why We Must Learn From It
In the article “Socialism works best – even in practice!” [in Norwegian], the myth of socialism being merely a good idea that doesn’t work in practice is revealed. Here, it is written that:
In short – socialism did not fail! Socialism was a great success. It is a completely incorrect question when one asks communists (or when communists themselves ask, for that matter): “if socialism is so great, why didn’t it work in the Soviet Union?” It is capitalism that fails the masses of people. It is capitalism that makes some rich, healthy, and gives them long lives – while others are condemned to poverty, hunger, and significantly shorter lifespans. […]
And it is worth dwelling on the fact that socialism broke Russia out of a terrible situation where people could be expected to die early in life – in hunger and need – to a situation where one was on the same level of the world’s wealthiest countries in terms of life expectancy! A fantastic feat that made it so that tens of millions of people could live longer and better lives than they would otherwise have.”
In the article “The Most Important Lessons from the Russian Revolution”, an activist writes why we should learn from the Russian Revolution and socialism in the Soviet Union:
The historical role of the October Revolution and the Soviet Union is enormous, and for the proletariat is plays an enormous role – and it has shaken the world to its very core and driven history forwards with great leaps and bounds. Both as a symbol and as a practice [in] improvement and advancement, we must lift high the Russian Revolution and Soviet socialism as an inspiration and a mentor.
In the article “What’s the Deal with Stalin” [in Norwegian], the following has been written:
It doesn’t have so much to do with Stalin as much as it does with the entirety of world history. Who has the right to write history? Should we allow people who are against communism write our history while we simply listen and uncritically accept it? It is often said “Stalin”, but usually it doesn’t only have to do with him, but rather the entire labour movement in Russia, which was able to organize itself and make revolution and socialism. Stalin stood at the fore for this for several decades. In a revolutionary movement, we are completely dependent on being able to learn from earlier movements, and in that sense it is a fairly good idea to consider the movements that were able to achieve the most. What were they able to do and how did they do it? Can we learn something from it? Did they make errors, and if so, can we learn something from them? The only thing that we can learn from is history and if bourgeois anti-communists are able to take history from us, we lose an important tool in the future struggle.
The massive hatred against Stalin does not only come in the form of obvious bourgeois propaganda. Historians in the West also tend to agree with this portrayal to a large degree. They will generally emphasize purges in the Soviet Union, or the Soviet labour camp system (Gulags). Many are openly anti-communists. Others are so-called “libertarian” and anti-authoritarian socialists or “Marxists”. Others still use people like Khrushchev as a source when condemning Stalin.
In Which Context Was Socialism Built?
It can be useful to remember context when people criticize the purges and labour camps. The decade these people tend to focus on is the 1930s. It is worth remembering that the Soviet Union was not the world’s only country in the 1930s. What was happening in the rest of the world at that time, the time where historians, tabloid “history” journals, and increasingly regular documentaries on NRK [Norwegian public broadcasting service, trans.], depict the Soviet Union as hell on earth?
In the 1930s, half of the world was subjugated under the British colonial empire. Great Britain had, through two centuries, fought and colonized its way to a unique position. Not only had they fought with other colonial powers, but they also carried out massacre after massacre against the populations of their colonies. Some people complain about the “dictator” in the Soviet Union, but do they really believe that the peoples of the British colonies had any voice within colonialism? Some people complain about famines in Ukraine in the 1920s, but what about the famines in Bengal that were taking place under British colonial rule? Great Britain’s crimes against humanity surpass even those of Nazi Germany, when considered as a whole. They carried out autrocities throughout centuries, from Afghanistan to Malaysia, from the Opium Wars against China to the Boer War in South Africa. One of the most prominent, racist, and brutal colonial rulers was Winston Churchill, a man who has statues and streets named after him even here in Norway!
In the 1930s, Hitler came to power in Germany. By then, Mussolini was already in power in Italy. And in Spain, the Franco-fascists would soon fight to seize power there as well. The first target for all of them was communists. Communists were arrested and sent to camps. The first concentration camps in Germany were filled with communists. Hundreds of thousands – and eventually millions – of socialists and communists were put in concentration camps. Many were also executed. And the Western imperialist powers had internally hoped that Hitler would direct his new war power eastwards and smash the socialist Soviet Union.
By the 1930s, the Nazis’ concentration camps were well-known. The persecution of communists was well-known and even applauded by the world’s reactionary leaders. And every capitalist great power in the world had security and surveillance services that systematically worked against communism both within their own countries as well as within the Soviet Union.
In the 1930s – and even in the present day – labour camps are the predominant form of prisons. Very few are placed in a cell with one hour of yard time and four meals a day. We are all familiar with the pictures and cinematic portrayals of “chain gangs” in the US, were prisoners are chained together and forced to build roads and dig ditches. In Norway, we are talking about tukthus [correctional facilities] and work service. In Norway, young lawbreakers were sent to “labour schools” until the 1960s. The homeless could legally be charged with “vagrancy” and sentenced to forced labour all the way until the 1970s. Throughout the entire world, even today, we see that many prisons look more like labour camps. And the prisons that don’t look like this are typically even worse places, where 100 people can be packed together in a tiny cell.
In the 1930s, the capitalist world was plagued by crisis. In the US, it is referred to the “Great Depression”. It is widely known, and many have seen pictures, heard songs, or seen films that depict the misery in the US, particularly in rural areas, at that time. Suicide rates rose dramatically. A massive proportion of the population was unemployed. In Norway, the registered unemployment rate rose to over 30% in the 1930s, and unemployed workers went on a “hunger march” from Trondheim to Oslo in protest against the capitalist misery.
In the 1930s, it was not only the people in colonies and fascist countries that lived under direct despotism. There was apartheid in the southern states in the US. The abolition of slavery had in no way liberated blacks from oppression. Segregation was law in many states. It would take another 30 years before it was formally overturned.
This is the period in which the Soviet Union’s economic and social progress were greatest! Meanwhile, the state became a pioneer in banning discrimination based on skin color and culture. All people were legally treated equally in the Soviet Union. All adults had voting rights, while voting rights for women were still limited even in the Western modern capitalist countries. Hunger was practically eradicated. There was no unemployment.
The hypocrisy and shame of the capitalist world’s depiction of this epoch, the attacks on the Soviet Union under Stalin, and the suppression of the colonial powers’ wild assaults are grotesque examples of how the ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas. Anti-communist films about the famine in Ukraine in the 1920s are screened in Norwegian theatres, while millions starve to death in the here and now under capitalism. It is shameful, and it is revealing.
Stalin was a great leader, a great revolutionary, a great Marxist-Leninist. This is the correct analysis of his role in history.