[Marxism] Earliest use of word "Stalinism"?

Dayne Goodwin daynegoodwin at gmail.com
Fri Jul 30 13:23:55 MDT 2010

The term "Stalinism" was coined by Lazar Kaganovich and was never used
by Joseph Stalin who described himself as a Marxist-Leninist and a
"pupil of Lenin" although he tolerated the use of the term by
associates.  <http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Stalinism>

from the Encyclopædia Britannica

the method of rule, or policies, of Joseph Stalin, Soviet Communist
Party and state leader from 1929 until his death in 1953. Stalinism is
associated with a regime of terror and totalitarian rule.

In a party dominated by intellectuals and rhetoricians, Stalin stood
for a practical approach to revolution, devoid of ideological
sentiment. Once power was in Bolshevik hands, the party leadership
gladly left to Stalin tasks involving the dry details of party and
state administration. In the power struggle that followed Vladimir
Lenin’s death in 1924, the intellectual sophistication and charismatic
appeal of Stalin’s rivals proved no match for the actual power he had
consolidated from positions of direct control of the party machinery.
By 1929 his major opponents were defeated; and Stalinist policies,
which had undergone several shifts during the power struggle, became
stabilized. Stalin’s doctrine of the monolithic party emerged during
the battle for power; he condemned the “rotten liberalism” of those
who tolerated discussion on or dissent from party policies. Lenin’s
pronouncements, except those uncomplimentary to Stalin, were codified
as axioms not open to question. Persons opposed to these new dogmas
were accused of treason to the party. What came to be called the “cult
of personality” developed as Stalin, presenting himself as Lenin’s
heir, came to be recognized as the sole infallible interpreter of
party ideology.

Basic to Stalinism was the doctrine of “socialism in one country,”
which held that, though the socialist goal of world proletarian
revolution was not to be abandoned, a viable classless society could
be built within Soviet boundaries and despite encirclement by a
largely capitalist world. Stalin, appealing both to socialist
revolutionary fervour and to Russian nationalism, launched in the late
1920s a program of rapid industrial development of unprecedented
magnitude. A “class war” was declared on the rich farmers in the name
of the poor, and Russian agriculture was rapidly collectivized,
against considerable rural resistance, to meet the needs of urban
industry. The need for expertise and efficiency in industry postponed
the egalitarian goals of the Bolshevik Revolution; Stalin denounced
“levelers” and instituted systems of reward that established a
socioeconomic stratification favouring the technical intelligentsia.
Heavy industry was emphasized to ensure Russia’s future economic
independence from its capitalist neighbours.

While socialist ideology foresaw a “withering away” of the state as
the classless society became a reality, Stalin asserted that the state
must instead become stronger before it could be eliminated. Stalinism
held that the enemies of socialism within and without Russia would try
to avert the final victory of the Revolution. To face these efforts
and protect the cause, it was argued, the state must be strong. Power
became more and more centralized in Stalin, who in the late 1930s
launched a bloody purge of all those he regarded as even potentially
dangerous to the Soviet state. As part of the struggle against those
whom he considered political rivals, Stalin identified political
opposition with treason and used this as a weapon in his struggle
against Leon Trotsky and Nikolay I. Bukharin and their supporters. By
February 1939 most of the “Old Bolsheviks,” those revolutionaries who
in 1917 had begun the Revolution, had been exterminated. Millions more
(estimated at from 7 million to 15 million) were sent to the
forced-labour camps that Stalin made an integral part of the Soviet

Three years after Stalin’s death in 1953, Soviet leaders led by Nikita
Khrushchev denounced the cult of Stalin and the terrorism perpetrated
by his regime; they saw Stalinism as a temporary aberration in Soviet
socialist development. Others saw it as a brutal but necessary and
inevitable phase of that development. Still others saw in Stalinism an
irrevocable Soviet break with the ideals of the Revolution.

In 1989 the Soviet historian Roy Medvedev estimated that about 20
million died as a result of the labour camps, forced collectivization,
famine, and executions. Another 20 million were victims of
imprisonment, exile, and forced relocation.

More information about the Marxism mailing list