Did Stalinism end in the 1950s?

Richard Fidler rfidler at cyberus.ca
Fri Dec 6 13:06:41 MST 2002

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that Stalinism and the Stalinists went
into crisis in the 1950s (workers' uprisings in East Germany, Hungary and
Poland, and their suppression; 20th Congress CPSU, etc.). Then the
Moscow-Peking rift, followed by the Cuban revolution (without the CP, then
later with it, in an initially conflictual relationship). And in 1968, the
Prague Spring and its suppression. Meanwhile, a youth radicalization that
largely bypassed the CPs, etc., etc.

But does that mean the Stalinists outside the "socialist bloc" evolved into
Social Democrats? Some individuals, yes. But not the parties. Stalinist
parties changed, became more independent and even critical of Moscow, in
some cases broke with Moscow (while establishing new relations with Peking,
or Tirana, or whatever). But with the possible exception of the
Eurocommunists in Italy, the politics and programs of these parties were
still determined by their fundamental orientation to regimes in what the
Trotskyists called workers states: countries that had undergone
anticapitalist revolutions or had come under the political and military
control of parties from the Stalinist tradition. Countries that were no
longer within the ambit of the capitalist world market.

Social Democrats, on the other hand, were characterized above all by their
firm commitment to operating within, and in fundamental support of, the
imperialist world order. Thus their support of NATO and other imperialist
military alliances, their consistent unwillingness to make real inroads on
capitalist property relations, their basic allegiance to putting a "human
face" on capitalist rule.

While it is true that Stalinist parties often served the interests of
imperialism, these policies and actions were usually determined by the
interests of the governing bureaucratic caste in Moscow or Peking. Thus the
French CP supported a "French Algeria" not because it was social democratic
but because it wished to shore up French imperialism as a counterweight to
U.S. and German imperialism, etc., which were deemed more important threats
by the Kremlin. The Indonesian CP supported Sukarno because that was in the
interests of Mao's regime, which practiced "peaceful coexistence" in its own
geographical sphere. And so on.

Richard Fidler

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