Ship and compass: Stalin’s orthodox Erfurtian position

Iosef Stalin was actually an orthodox communist. In his article, ‘Briefly About Disagreements in the Party‘ (1905), he subscribes to the position laid out in the Erfurt Program of 1891, and then elaborated in Kautsky’s book, The Class Struggle (Erfurt Program). That is, the party is the result of a union between the working class and socialist theory. It’s a position Lenin also followed, especially in What Is To Be Done? But Stalin doesn’t mind the occasional literary flourish, such as this one concerning the ship and its compass:

What is scientific socialism without the working-class movement? — A compass which, if left unused, will only grow rusty and then will have to be thrown overboard.

What is the working-class movement without socialism?—A ship without a compass which will reach the other shore in any case, but would reach it much sooner and with less danger if it had a compass.

Combine the two and you will get a splendid vessel, which will speed straight towards the other shore and reach its haven unharmed.

Combine the working-class movement with socialism and you will get a Social-Democratic movement which will speed straight towards the ‘promised land’ (Collected Works, vol. 1, p. 104).