reply to "glevy" on Stalin, China and CPs

marquit at marquit at
Fri Jun 30 13:16:34 MDT 1995

In replying to posts it would be helpful if the writers remember
to identify themselves with some name--any name they like--so
that they can be addressed directly in the reply. Otherwise
we have to hunt for some other identifying feature such as
an E-mail address. We cannot be expected to have read every
post and thus establish connections between E-mail addresses
and indentifying names of the writers.

I agree with "glevy"'s point that one should not attribute all the
positive achievements in the USSR during Stalin's leadership
to Stalin. I, too, think that the USSR would have been
stronger had Lenin's warning about Stalin been heeded.
The execution of something like 70 percent of the members of
the CPSU Central Committee elected in 1934 in no way
stengthened socialism.

On the other hand, one should not attribute all the
negative features of the USSR and of the Communist parties
in other countries to Stalin. It was
not Stalin, but CPUSA leader Browder, who had the vision
of imperialism vanishing after World War II.

It is not important whether
Stalin initiated or accepted the policy of identifying
social democrats with "social fascism" in the early 30s,
or whether Stalin initiated or accepted the replacement of
that policy with the popular front strategy. What is
important is the understanding of the ideological paths
by which these policies were arrived at, so that the errors
will not be repeated and the successes can be used as the
basis for further successes.

For this reason, I find that the term "Stalinism" is not
very useful for dealing with contempory situations, because
there is no clear way to separate policies and actions
that orginated with Stalin from those that eventually influenced.
him. His brutal nature aside, the dogmatism and sectarianism
that characterized his leadership had deep roots in the
Marxist movement long before him and continually manifests
itself long after him.

A final comment on "glevy"'s comments on China. Apart from
how one assesses the Comintern's policy on China in the 1920s,
it is undeniable that the international communist movement
gave strong and meaningful support to China's struggle against
the Japanese invasion. In the 1930s the CPUSA did not delay in
working for international action against the Japanese invasion
of China. "If you want to be in style/wear hose made of
lisle/don't buy anything Japanese/" was the song the CPUSA
tried to popularize in the late thirties in their boycott
of Japanese silk.  The CPUSA was instrumental in encouraging
unification of the Communist and Socialist parties in the
Philippines to prepare for struggle against what was
seen there to be the threat from Japanese imperialism.
In fact, armed guerrilla units were in place there before the
Pearl Harbor attack (see the recently published book by James S.
Allen, "The Philippine Left on the Eve of World War II)

In 1946, Communists in the U.S. armed forces overseas were a
leading force in the organization of GI demonstrations demanding
immediate demobilization of war draftees. These demonstrations,
in which hundreds of thousands of GI's participated in the
Philippines, Hawii, Britain, and Germany, forced the Truman
administration to abandon its plan to retain 6 million troops
overseas for intervention in China and other national-liberation
struggles. The USSR itself turned over the arms captured from
the Japanese army in Manchuria to the Chinese Red Army.

Erwin Marquit

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