Stalinist democracy

Now there’s an apparent oxymoron: Stalinist democracy. But Stalin has a strong position on democracy, socialist democracy that is. It may come as a surprise to some, but he is actually in favour of it.

The dictatorship of the proletariat is the highest type of democracy in class society, the form of proletarian democracy, which expresses the interests of the majority (the exploited), in contrast to capitalist democracy, which expresses the interests of the minority (the exploiters).

This comment appears in a fascinating discussion with the first delegation from the USA to the USSR. The delegates ask sharp questions, relating to political parties, the press, religion, the party, world revolution and so on. And Stalin asks some incisive questions, especially concerning the absence of a workers party in the United States.

Back to socialist democracy. In the later discussion, Stalin outlines how voting works in the USSR:

In the U.S.S.R. the right to vote in the election of Soviets is enjoyed by the whole adult population from the age of eighteen, irrespective of sex or nationality—except for the bourgeois elements who exploit the labour of others and have been deprived of electoral rights. This makes a total of about sixty million voters. The overwhelming majority of these, of course, are peasants.

And then there are the endless committees, congresses and whatnot:

Finally, let us take the innumerable assemblies, conferences, delegate meetings, and so forth, which embrace vast masses of the working people, workers and peasants, both men and women, of all the nationalities included in the U.S.S.R. In Western countries, people sometimes wax ironical over these conferences and assemblies and assert that the Russians in general like to talk a lot. For us, however, these conferences and assemblies are of enormous importance, both as a means of testing the mood of the masses and as a means of exposing our mistakes and indicating the methods by which they can be rectified; for we make not a few mistakes and we do not conceal them, because we think that exposing mistakes and honestly correcting them is the best way to improve the administration of the country.

J. V. Stalin, Works, vol. 10, pp. 100, 113-14.

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