Anti-Stalinist left

Anti-Stalinist left

The term anti-Stalinist left refers to elements of the political left which have been critical of the policies of Joseph Stalin and of the political system that developed in the Soviet Union under his rule. Left-wing opposition to Stalin began with Lenin's Testament in 1923, in which a dying Vladimir Lenin warned of Stalin's growing autocracy and called for Stalin's removal as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Anti-Stalinist left groups

Amongst the currents that can be classified as parts of the anti-Stalinist left:

* Left or Marxist Opposition/Trotskyism: The associates and followers of Leon Trotsky, organised in the Left Opposition within the Communist parties before they were purged in the 1930s (see Moscow Trials). Trotskyists subsequently formed the Fourth International in opposition to the Stalinist Third International. Trotsky saw the Stalinist states as deformed workers states. Deformed workers states have a very anti-democratic political structure, that gives most workers very little power in decision making and reduces soviet democracy to a merely formal, bureaucratic process. Trotsky and his followers were very critical towards aspects of Stalinism such as: lack of internal debate among Stalinist organizations and societies and political repression enacted by Stalinist Governments (i.e The Great Purge); nationalist elements of Stalinist theory (see Socialism in One Country thesis, adopted by Stalin as state policy), that led to a very poor revolutionary strategy and characterization in an international contest (and breaking with the internationalist traditions of Marxism); and its dictatorial, bureaucratic, obscurantist, personalistic and high repressive methods (that Trotsky himself qualified as 'inquisitorial', in a famous speech that was read and internationally overcasted in English [ [ YouTube - Trotsky's Speech about the Moscow Trials (complete) ] ] ). Less orthodox Leninists and Trotskyists have seen it as a new form of class state, called bureaucratic collectivism (James Burnham, Milovan Đilas, Max Shachtman) or as state capitalist (Tony Cliff, C.L.R. James).
* Left communism: The Communist Left was initially enthusiastic about the Bolshevik revolution, but lines of tension between the Communist Left and the leadership of the Communist International opened up very soon. Left communists such as Sylvia Pankhurst and Rosa Luxemburg were among the first left-wing critics of Bolshevism. Left communists see communism as something that can only be achieved by the proletariat itself, and not through the dictatorship of a vanguard party acting on its behalf. (See also council communism, Marxist humanism, ultra-left, luxemburgism.)
* Anarchism: Anarchists like Emma Goldman were initially enthusiastic about the Bolsheviks, particularly after dissemination of Lenin's pamphlet "State and Revolution", which painted Bolshevism in a very libertarian light. However, the relations between the anarchists and the Bolsheviks soured in Soviet Russia (e.g. in the suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion and the Makhnovist movement). Anarchists and Stalinist Communists were also in armed conflict during the Spanish civil war. Anarchists are critical of the statist, totalitarian nature of Stalinism (and Marxism-Leninism in general), as well as its cult of personality around Stalin (and subsequent leaders seen by anarchists as Stalinists, such as Fidel Castro or Mao).
* Democratic socialism: A significant current (if not all) of the democratic socialist movement has defined itself in opposition to Stalinism. This includes George Orwell and the Independent Labour Party in Britain (particularly after the Second World War), the group around Marceau Pivert in France and, in America, the New York Intellectuals around the "Partisan Review" magazine. These democratic socialists saw Soviet Communism as a form of totalitarianism in some ways mirroring fascism.
* Other dissident Marxist trends: Another major split in the international Communist movement was that between Stalin and the Right Opposition. In several countries parallel Communist parties were formed that either were rejected by the Comintern or distanced themselves from it. Their criticism did in some ways become similar to positions raised by the Trotskyists, but as a tendency they were far less coherent. The Right Opposition developed contacts with other groups that did not fit into either the international Social democracy or Comintern, such as the Independent Labour Party in Britain. This tendency largely died out at the time of the Second World War. In other cases dissident Marxist trends developed outside of the established communist movement, such as the Anushlian Marxists in India.

The emergence of the New left and the new social movements of the 1950s and 1960s led to the revival of interest in some countries in the anti-Stalinist left and its alternative forms of Marxism. British cultural studies (e.g. Raymond Williams), Italian autonomism/workerism (e.g. Antonio Negri), the magazines " Telos" and "Dissent" in America, and French groups like the Situationists and Socialisme ou Barbarie and later nouveaux philosophes were examples of this.

Important figures in the anti-Stalinist left

* Daniel Bell
* Maurice Brinton
* Amadeo Bordiga
* James Burnham
* Albert Camus
* James P. Cannon
* Cornelius Castoriadis
* Milovan Đilas
* Chen Duxiu
* Noam Chomsky
* Tony Cliff
* Guy Debord
* Raya Dunayevskaya
* Irving Howe
* C.L.R. James
* Boris Kagarlitsky
* Karl Kilbom
* Karl Korsch
* Claude Lefort
* Vladimir Lenin
* Ken Loach
* Dwight Macdonald
* Mary McCarthy (author)
* Herbert Marcuse
* Paul Mattick
* Andres Nin
* George Orwell
* Anton Pannekoek
* Marceau Pivert
* Otto Rühle
* Rudolf Rocker
* Maximilien Rubel
* Bertrand Russell
* Victor Serge
* Max Shachtman
* Dmitri Shostakovich
* Ignazio Silone
* Subcomandante Marcos
* Boris Souvarine
* Leon Trotsky
* Voline
* Fredric Warburg

ee also

*Political spectrum
*New York intellectuals
*Secker and Warburg


Further reading

* Alan Wald "The New York Intellectuals, The Rise and Decline of the Anti-Stalinist Left From the 1930s to the 1980s". Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987. 440 pp (See review by Paul LeBlanc [ here] )

* Ian Birchall "Sartre Against Stalinism". Berghahn Books. (See review [ here] .)

* Boris Souvarine, "Stalin", 1935 []

* DK Renton, " [ Dissident Marxism] " 2004 Zed Books ISBN 1842772937

External links

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