Stalin and liberal democracy

In 1946, in the aftermath of the Second World War and with eastern Europe moving rapidly to socialist systems through popular elections, Stalin opined:

Your democracy is special. You have no class of big capitalists. You have nationalised industry in a 100 days, while the English have been struggling to do that for the last 100 years. Don’t copy western democracy. Let them copy you. The democracy that you have established in Poland, in Yugoslavia and partly in Czechoslovakia is a democracy that is drawing you closer to socialism without the necessity of establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat or the Soviet system. Lenin never said that there was no path to socialism other than the dictatorship of the proletariat, he admitted that it was possible to arrive at the path to socialism utilising the foundations of the bourgeois democratic system such as Parliament (Roberts, Stalin’s Wars, pp. 246-7).

Similar statements can be found from the same period. Soon enough, however, Stalin learned again the wisdom of Lenin’s reflections in The State and Revolution: bourgeois democracy has a structural default in favour of capitalism, systematically excluding any viable alternative. That is, one cannot use the system for something it simply cannot handle. For that it needs to be smashed.

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