Stalinism

Suarsos suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Sun Dec 8 21:21:45 MST 2002


I agree with those who ware wary of using "stalinism" as a label for
political opponents today. I do think it has a meaning though. More
precisely it refers to two related political phenomena: the "Communist"
regimes between approximatelyt 1928 and 1989, and the Communist Parties in
the rest of the world (plus fellow travellers etc).

The latter being an important historical phenomenon, I want to suggest an an
analysis. The CPs in the west degenerated along with the Russian revolution
itself. They were then located between three social forces:
a) the working class on which they were based; b) the Soviet regime (and
later the Chinese regime) to which they were loyal; and c) the bourgeoisie
in their own countries to which they began building bridges with the arrival
of the Popular Front policy in the mid-thirties.

This was a complicated balancing act. The party leaderships yearned for some
kind of institutional success, but could never achieve it while linked to
the the Soviet regime. They wanted to build a mass worker following, but in
the end this came into conflict with the needs of Soviet foreign policy and
the desire for acceptance by the bourgedoisie.

Stalin, meanwhile, treated them like dirt; for example adopting the
Stalin-Hitler pact without consulting them. Morever once Stalin had the
Bomb, he didn't need the CPs in the west as much to help defend the USSR.

For all these reasons, in the postwar era the CPs began to move away from
their triangular situation towards becoming social democratic. The pioneers
were the Italians, the best known name for the phenomenon was Eurocommunism.
This effectively brought the end of Stalinism as a mass phenomenon in the
West, though the road was long and there are residues even today.

When I talk about Stalinism in the west, I mean this historical phenomenon
(which is obviously far richer and more complex than my little sketch.)
Stalinism in the third world is yet another issue, but that can wait for
another occasion. :)
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