It may come as a surprise to some, but Stalin has quite a lot to say about democracy, especially in the protracted debates with the ‘opposition’ (and Troysky) in the 1920s.

Among other formulations, one of the best on democracy is as follows, from the Thirteenth Party Congress in 1924:

It is in this way, and in this way alone, that the question of democracy can be presented if, of course, we are discussing not a party with formal democracy, but a genuinely proletarian party linked by indissoluble bonds with the mass of the working class (Works, volume 6, p. 238).

As for purges, he has much to say, invoking Lasalle’s famous phrase, The Party becomes strong by purging itself. 

The Party cannot strengthen its ranks without periodical purges of unstable elements. Comrade Lenin taught us that the Party can strengthen itself only if it steadily rids itself of the unstable elements which penetrate, and will continue to penetrate, its ranks … I have been told with what fear and trepidation some non-proletarian elements among the intellectuals and office employees awaited the purge. Here is a scene that was described to me: a group of people are sitting in an office, waiting to be called before the purging commission. It is a Party unit in a Soviet institution. In another room is the purging commission. One of the members of the Party unit comes rushing out of the commission room, perspiring. He is asked what happened, but all he can say is: “Let me get my breath, let me get my breath. I’m all in.” (Laughter.) The purge may be bad for the kind of people who suffer and perspire like that; but for the Party it is a very good thing. (Applause.)

We still have, unfortunately, a certain number of Party members receiving 1,000 or 2,000 rubles a month, who are considered to be Party members but who forget that the Party exists. I know of a Party unit at one of the Commissariats, in which men of this type work. The members of this unit include several chauffeurs, and the unit selected one of them to sit on the purging commission. This evoked no little grumbling, such as saying that a chauffeur should not be allowed to purge Soviet big-wigs … The chief thing about the purge is that it makes people of this kind feel that there exists a master, that there is the Party, which can call them to account for all sins committed against it. It seems to me absolutely necessary that this master go through the Party ranks with a broom every now and again’. (Applause.) (Works, Volume 6, pp. 239-40)

But what has Mars got to do with anything? It actually relates to democracy and the party:

Our Party has become the elected organ of the working class. Point me out another such party. You cannot point one out because so far there does not exist one … I am afraid they will have to migrate to Mars in their search for a better party’. (Applause.) (Works, volume 6, p. 242)

Stalin poster 09

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