Did Stalinism end in the 1950s?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 5 20:22:56 MST 2002


Bob Gould:
>Parallel with, and influenced by, these views there has been a controversy
>in US labour movement historiography, between a group of revisionist
>historians who retrospectively idealise the US Communist Party, in conflict
>with other US historians, such as Theodore Draper and Nelson Lichtenstein,
>who have a much more critical view of US Stalinism.

It is not a question of idealizing the CP. It is a question of seeing it
dialectically.

>For his pains he was kept in solitary confinement by the regime for quite a
>few years, and yet despite these experiences his account of the lead-up to
>the Hungarian Revolution and of the revolution itself, is a mature and
>careful one. There are hundreds of books written by people like Kopacsi who
>were caught in the Stalinist meatgrinder. This machine, in the deformed
>workers' states of Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and China, kept grinding
>well past the early 1950s, to which date Louis seems to assign the
>transformation of the Stalinist movement in the West into a kind of leftist
>version of Social Democracy.

This is hopelessly confused. Of course the cops jailed dissidents in
Eastern Europe, but that is not what I was driving at. In the USA, even by
1947 the CP was not the same organization that it was in 1937. Instead of
beating up rivals in the auto workers union, it sought allies in the
Trotskyist movement against red-baiters like Walter Reuther. When Bert
Cochran urged an alliance with the CP'ers, Cannon went ballistic. His
Stalinophobia prevented him from supporting all-important initiatives that
would have preserved a space for radicals in the trade union movement.

The largest Communist party that actually wins elections is the CPI
>(Marxist) in the Indian states of Bengal and Kerala and that party, a
>genuine mass party, is a thoroughly high-Stalinist political organisation to
>this day.

I think most people who have transcended Stalinophobia would recognize
Kerala as an important gain for working people and peasants. Because the CP
is strong, literacy, health care indicators, etc. are higher than anywhere
else in India, despite a poorer resource base.

A thorough knowledge of the history and lessons of the Stalinist
>counter-revolution is a precondition for the rebirth of any serious
>socialist movement.

I guess this kind of hot air is supposed to be a substitute for a concrete
examination of how the CP related to living mass movements in the USA.



Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org


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