Stalin, Mao, idealism and voluntarism

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at
Tue Oct 10 23:43:45 MDT 1995

On Wed, 11 Oct 1995 g.maclennan at wrote:

> on Stalin.  I have read them carefully and there is no hint of humour 
> just honest recongition of a monster at work.   Pat for MIm keep harping 
> on the achievements of Stalin.  I have previously written that Stalin was 
> the gradedigger of the revolution.  
> Pat ignored this.  I don't mind if the Maoist posts are confined to 

Pat for MIM replies: It wasn't enough of a comment to reply to.
The Trotskyists and Khruschev-style revisionists were the gravediggers
of the revolution. What you say in this message is at least something
you can be held accountable for--something about both revolution
and opposing Stalin. The other insults leave nothing.

> defence of Stalin makes me feel unclean and I do not exaggerate.
Pat for MIM replies: You and Djilas who recently died might have
something in common there--a more or less conscious substitution
of Marxism for religion, Judaeo-Christian religion.
Djilas ended up well outside Marxism in the end, believing Reagan
was not firm enough in the Cold War.

> For me  they rerpresent the absolute degradation of a noble political 
> project - the Marxist programme.  To worship Stalin now in the 90s is 
> truly repeating history as farce.  To tout Stalin's murderous bungles as 
> "achievements" is insufferable. 
Pat for MIM replies: Look at this--"the noble political project." 
I can criticize anything with noble ideas that exist only in our heads.
I have to say that at least Proyect and the Norwegian Trotskyists
have something concrete they are talking about and don't appear to
find every human endeavor or struggle lacking. I'm not going to
let those of hard-core Trotskyist or anarchist tradition
claim unity with others who oppose Stalin for their own reasons.
The  ultraleft idealists oppose the successful revolutionary movements
essentially because they are misanthropes and find only communism
the idea--not proletarians in reality in struggle--appealing.

> With regard to Mao I am inclined to accept Deutscher's verdict that he 
> was both the Lenin and the Stalin of the Chinese Revolution.  
> But as for Stalin the results of his slaughter of a whole generation of 
> revolutionaries, including many who came from abroad, are now too well 
> known.  

Pat for MIM replies: We take responsibility for that error. Mao did
too. For that matter it is very little known but Stalin himself
said he killed too many people and after World War II, he said
some peoples in some countries would not have been so generous as to
let him continue his rule.

On this point there is no disagreement. If Trotskyists or
anarchists or Bukharinists had led successful revolutions for
the proletariat, we would have something to talk about--but since
they didn't anywhere we who prefer action over dogma are stuck with Stalin.

It's that simple. We prefer to take responsibility for Stalin's
mistakes than responsibility for the status quo left unchanged
by his critics. The status quo is everywhere far bloodier than
Stalin's mistakes were. Those of activist bent, who know that
"you are either part of the solution or part of the problem" and
that you have to take sides know why we have to take sides on this.
We don't want responsibility for the status quo. His critics generally
do. Proyect is trying to say El Salvador and Nicaragua are
exceptions, but we don't think they are successes anything close
in comparable scale to what happened in the Soviet Union, China,
Albania or even Peru today.

Besides which Proyect covers up the origins of the FMLN saying
they weren't really Leninist. Sheesh the groups that formed
the FMLN had their people in the traditions of Lenin, Stalin and
Mao. They just didn't hold very firm. For those who don't know,
the FMLN did NOT win the elections in El Salvador, so why this
is held up as a model of success except to flatter certain people
I don't know. At least in the context of this Marxism List, I see no
reason to count the FMLN as a success yet. The PCP in Peru or
the Maoists in the Philippines hold more actual power in
administration of daily life and carry out at least some
great beginnings of socialism.

> The mistake of orthodox Trotskyists like Trotsky (!) and Deutscher was to 
> underestimate the politcical implications of Stalinism and to put too much 
> faith in the abolition of private property.  The killing of the 
> revolutionaries of yester year paved the way for the Yeltsins of today. 
> The degeneration of the Bolshevik party was Stalin's lasting legacy to 
> Russia and the shit he poured over Marxist ideas and ideals is his lasting 
> legacy to the international movement.

Pat for MIM replies: 
People like Schactman included who thought Trotsky didn't go far
enough ended up no good. For future replies on the Stalin question,
I wish our critics would own up what tradition they belong to,
because it is no longer possible to speak about Stalin as a
single individual. There is a whole tradition of movements and
theories connected to him. For those who won't own up, and
take responsibility for the alternative they are offering,
you are going to earn the label of ultraleft, nihilist, moralizing
and misanthropic. Don't let it happen to you!

As for blaming Yeltsin on Stalin, that is gross historical
amnesia. I'm not sure which is worse-- anti-Stalinist whitewashing
of fascism or anti-Stalinist white-washing of his many
Soviet and world traveller critics.

Hello! Stalin died in 1953! That's not a joke! The people who took
power right after him criticized him and the Soviet Union went
down the toilet. Now they want to blame Yeltsin on him too! Hah!
It was Stalin's critics who harbored Yeltsin and let him gain
in power. It was all the people who ignored Mao on the bourgeoisie
in the party that allowed Khruschev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev and Yeltsin
to be the darlings of the party.

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