Was Stalin a Marxist?

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Thu Mar 9 12:02:48 MST 1995

Philip Goldstein asked "are people like Stalin Marxist or not? If
those people are -- and we can name many in a similar category -- what
does that fact say about the status of Marxism?"

Louis Proyect:

Citing Stalin tends to defeat a dialectical appreciation of not
only the Russian Revolution but socialist revolutions in general. Stalin
is such a black and white figure that he serves as an easy target for
those who discredit the whole project of socialist revolution. The
argument goes: the "bad" Marx leads to Lenin, Lenin leads to Stalin, etc.

Actually, it would be more useful to look at revolutionary socialists who
are not evil incarnate and who incorporate many shades of gray in their
character and their politics. Fidel Castro springs to mind, so does Ho
Chih Minh, Tito and Mao. The way they ruled combines both positive and
negative features and defies the type of pat, simplistic "gulag"
mongering that people like Susan Sontag and other disillusioned leftists
are so prone to. Perhaps Philip Goldstein should give Stalin a rest.

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