[Marxism] The Hitler-Stalin pact, Reconsidered | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 30 09:12:42 MDT 2019

On August 26th, an article titled “The Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 23, 
1939: Myth and Reality” appeared on CounterPunch. It made many useful 
points about the right of the USSR to conclude a non-aggression pact 
with any capitalist nation in light of the invasion that nearly 
destroyed it in the early 1920s. While Cold War scholarship, including 
its most recent incarnation in a book like Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, 
tries to draw parallels between Stalin and Hitler as totalitarian 
monsters, it was in the interest of humanity to preserve what was 
progressive about Soviet society despite the clique that ruled from the top.

In an article titled “The USSR in War”, written just after the 
Hitler-Stalin pact was concluded, Leon Trotsky laid out the differences 
between the two rulers succinctly: “Right now Hitler is the ally and 
friend of Stalin; but should Hitler, with the aid of Stalin, come out 
victorious on the Western Front, he would on the morrow turn his guns 
against the USSR. Finally Chamberlain, too, in similar circumstances 
would act no differently from Hitler.”

Unfortunately, Pauwels’s article is an expression of the neo-Stalinist 
apology for the Soviet Union’s external policy and does not take into 
account the negative aspects of Stalin’s policy in Europe that helped 
Hitler and ruined the Communist movement. Also, it shows all the 
shortcomings of a purely geopolitical analysis of the contradictions of 
the international policy of capitalist-imperialist and Stalinist countries.

By Louis Proyect and Pawel Szelegieniec

(Paweł Szelegieniec is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the 
Jagiellonian University in Kraków. His research interests focus on 
Marxist political economy and history of workers' and Communist movement.)


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