An argument against Stalins "facts."

Martin Spellman mspellman at
Wed Aug 21 13:29:54 MDT 2002

Patrick Ryan wrote:

> Conclusion:  Stalin is wrong, or Lenin is wrong.
> Either was, it is more proof Stalin was not a follower of Lenin.
	Nice try but no cigar. Any intelligent Stalinist would eat you for
breakfast over that. It does not prove what you think it does. I don't
believe that Stalin was a 'follower of Lenin' either but, if you are going
to show it, you are going to have to do better than that. More importantly
this kind of quotation 'trumps' on old disputes brings Marxism into
disrepute. More than ever today it must be seen, in practice, as relevant to
NOW. Too often these days you open socialist magazines and papers and
instead of a Marxist analysis of the current situation you get a rehash of
old (and some very old and obscure) issues. It is as if people cannot
overcome their own pasts and cannot get beyond the books and meetings they
read and went to in their teens and twenties. Historical research has its
place and the role of Lenin and Stalin are not to be discounted. Especially
the terrible, sectarian, stamp of Stalin and Trotsky on the 20th century
socialist movement must be put behind us. But unless Marxism is relevant to
today it is finished.

	If you are going to indulge in quote wars -- do it properly. Why begin your
quote with the second sentence of the second paragraph? But the one you
start with still gives it away: "It is related by the well-known John Reed
in his book 'Ten Days'." What was related by Reed? Apparently that the
Central Committee was first going to decide against an uprising but then
came out in favour. Stalin did not dismiss Reed's book as you imply. All he
says is that Reed was not aware of the CC's secret meeting of October 10th.
So both Lenin and Stalin are right in their contexts, which you have not
shown, so you prove nothing. But Stalin was disingenuous as we will see

	'Trotskyism or Leninism' was Stalin's speech to the All Union Central
Council of Trade Unions of November 19, 1924. [Interestingly, the deliverer
of the main report was Kamenev]. Stalin set out to 'expose certain legends
that are being spread by Trotsky and his supporters'. The first section was
titled 'The Facts About the October Rising'. The first paragraph and the
sentence you omit gives the context of 'what is related':

	"First of all about the October uprising. Rumours are being vigorously
spread among members of the Party that the Central Committee as a whole was
opposed to an uprising in October 1917. The usual story is that on October
10, when the Central Committee adopted the decision to organise the
uprising, the majority of the Central Committee at first spoke against an
uprising, but so the story runs, at that moment a worker burst in on the
meeting of the Central Committee and said: "You are deciding against an
uprising, but I tell you that there will be an uprising all the same, in
spite of everything." And so, after that threat, the story runs, the Central
Committee, which is alleged to have become frightened, raised the question
of an uprising afresh and adopted a decision to organise it.

[The second paragraph then begins] This is not merely a rumour, comrades. It
is related by the well-known John Reed in his book 'Ten Days'..." [end of
Stalin quote]

Martin Spellman

	Here is Soviet communist, Roy Medvedev's more incisive and revealing
account of those events, from 'Let History Judge' written over 30 years ago,
from Chapter 1 'Stalin as Party Chief':
	"The problem of Stalin's behaviour and political position in the decisive
days and weeks of October, 1917 is not yet sufficiently clear. During the
years of the cult, historical analyses of the October Revolution invariably
asserted that, while Kamenev and Zinoviev opposed the armed insurrection and
Trotsky wavered badly, Stalin was virtually the main practical leader,
Lenin's closest aide, the second supreme chief and demiurge.

	Original documents and the memoirs of participants do not support this
tale. The sources show that during the decisive days of September and
October 1917, when Lenin was urging immediate preparation for an
insurrection, 'Pravda', edited by Stalin, did not carry some of Lenin's
articles or else cut entire paragraphs from them. This behaviour on the part
of Pravda, along with certain 'moderation' in the upper echelons of the
Party, provoked sharp protests from Lenin; he even began to communicate with
Party organisations over the head of the Central Committee. In October 1917,
Lenin wrote to the Central Committee, the Petrograd Committee, the Moscow
Committee, and to Bolshevik members of the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets
insisting that it would be a crime to postpone the insurrection until the
Second Congress of Soviets might approve it, that undue respect for
parliamentarianism was inconsistent with revolution, and that his protests
on this crucial matter were being covered up. He finally felt obliged to
submit his resignation from the Central Committee in order to get the
freedom to agitate among the lower ranks of the Party.

	On October 10, 1917, the Central Committee, following a speech by Lenin,
resolved to prepare for an armed insurrection without delay. Only Kamenev
and Zinoviev voted against this resolution. On October 11 Lenin's resolution
was adopted by the citywide Conference of Petrograd Bolsheviks. On October
16 it was endorsed by an expanded meeting of the Central Committee. Kamenev
and Zinoviev, opposing Lenin's line on an armed insurrection, took an
unprecedented step: they published in the semi-Menshevik paper Novaya Zhihn
a declaration of their disagreement with the resolution of the Central
Committee. By that action they handed the Bolshevik's plans to the enemy.
Lenin sharply condemned this 'strikebreaking' and demanded that Kamenev and
Zinoviev by expelled from the Party. Stalin acted in a completely different
way. Without the approval of the Central Committee, he published a statement
by Zinoviev attempting to refute Lenin's accusations. Stalin added a comment
"from the editorial board" which defended Kamenev and Zinoviev. "We in our
turn," wrote Stalin, "express the hope, with Comrade Zinoviev's statement
(and also Comrade Kamenev's statement in the Soviet), the matter can be
closed. The harsh tone of Comrade Lenin's article does not alter the fact
that essentially we remain as one mind." This comment, published without the
knowledge of other members of the editorial board, in the newspaper that was
the central organ of the Party, shocked many members of the Central
Committee. At a Central Committee meeting held on the same day, Sverdlov
read Lenin's letters demanding the expulsion of Kamenev and Zinoviev. The
only one who spoke against this demand was Stalin. When he was criticised he
offered his resignation, which the Central Committee did not accept.

	On the morning of October 24, the Central Committee gathered for another
meeting, to assign tasks in the leadership of the insurrection. Stalin did
not attend this meeting and no mission was assigned to him. In the middle of
the day, the paper he edited came out with a lead article by him that said:
	"Workers, soldiers, peasants, Cossacks, all toilers! Do you want the
present government of 	landowners and capitalists replaced by a new
government of workers and peasants?... If you do, 	then rally all your
forces, arise altogether as one man, hold meetings, elect delegates and send
your demands with them to the Congress of Soviets, which opens tomorrow at

It is difficult to find here any difference from the views of Trotsky, who
wanted to put off the insurrection until the opening of the Congress of

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