Stalin’s Contributions to Marxism

The theoretical elements of Stalin’s leadership seems to go rather unnoticed by the majority of people, left or right. Many Marxists themselves even seem to be unaware of Stalin’s contributions to Marxism and some will assert that he never contributed at all to Marxism. These claims are quite opposite from reality, as Stalin was not only an excellent leader, but an excellent theorist and speaker as well. First, it is important to understand that Stalinism is non-existent. Stalin would have rejected the label of Stalinism, as he merely extended upon Leninism and did not create some strikingly different ideology. The proper ideology of Stalin and pro-Stalin Communists is known as Marxism-Leninism. Marxism-Leninism includes the Stalin-Mao-Hoxha line, although the status between Hoxha and Mao is sometimes disputed. Theirs, nor Stalin’s beliefs call for totalitarianism, however, and that is what “Stalinism” refers to. Stalinism is merely a pejorative designed by the bourgeoisie and Trotskyists to discredit Stalin and Marxism-Leninism based on their own misconceptions and perversions. Now that we cleared the air of “Stalinism” let us examine Stalin’s beliefs and contributions to Marxism.

The main contribution to Marxist theory is the theory of socialism in one country. The theory had it’s grounds in the work of some 1870s theorists, as well as in Leninism itself, and by 1924 Stalin began to fully put forward his views of the theory. The theory of socialism in one country states that socialism can be achieved in one country and then spread throughout surrounding ones. In other words, shall one country build a stable, and strong socialist base, it can then provide aid to other socialist revolutionaries and countries attempting socialism for themselves. Historically this meant that the Soviet Union was the leader of the international proletarian force. However, it is important to note that nowhere did Stalin reject internationalism. The theory, or Marxism-Leninism does not reject internationalism as well. It simply states that socialism can happen in one country and from there can expand eventually on a more international level. Stalin supported Spanish revolution, the formation of Israel, and so forth and was originally a member of an International Communist Party for many years himself. Although Marxist-Leninists support international revolution, and indeed it would be wonderful if we could have one, we realize that instead of waiting for one to occur we shall build socialism strongly in one country. The Soviet Union should inherently be proof enough that socialism in one country works. While socialism was not truly created, through socialistic mode of production, rapid industrial and agricultural development was able to occur and Russia, as well as the later Soviet Republics, were modernized and became superpowers, competing with the US and being the driving force against Nazi Germany.

Stalin also developed the Two Stage Theory, which states that underdeveloped countries must first undergo a capitalistic development route before achieving socialism. This is to say that society must follow a specific order of stages in order to achieve socialism. Marx originally formulated the stages of society as being primitive communist then slave society then feudalistic society then capitalist society then socialist society and then in the final epoch of history communist society in which the means of production are public, the state has withered away, private property has been abolished, and social classes cease to exist. Stalin was therefore expanding on Marx and Engels theories of history and historical materialism. In countries that lack conditions for capitalism and socialism, the proletariat must become educated, and industry is necessary to properly develop.

Aggravation of class struggle under socialism is another important contribution to Marxist theory Stalin developed. Although some credit the basic idea of this to Mao, it was Stalin who originally put forward the idea. Stalin argued that forms of class struggle potentially arise even in the socialist stage of development and must be dealt with via necessary repression; not totalitarianism, but recognizing the detrimental counter-revolutionary forces that exist and attempting to route them out of power. It is true that socialism is generally indicative that the bourgeoisie no longer exist and that class antagonisms have ceased, but when attempting socialism in one country counter-revolutionaries that are not necessarily bourgeois but ones with pro-bourgeois agenda are still capable of infiltrating the Party and undermining socialism. This can also happen on an International level; Trotskyists seem to allow it, though (e.g. August Bloc, alliance with liberals, etc).

Contributions of Stalin to Marxism and Leninism.
Stalin’s collected works.
Stalin’s works by Subject.
Additional Resources.
On Socialism in One Country.
Critique of Trotskyism.
Guide to Communism.

~Written by Glowstick.

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4 Responses to Stalin’s Contributions to Marxism

  1. osaz says:

    Dear comrades,

    Thanks for your helpful and informative blog.
    I have some questions in connection with “nation”:

    1. Is Stalin’s definition of nation is still valid?

    2. Proceeding from Stalin’s definition, can we regard the Kurds and Afghans
    as “nations” for the first have no “common territory” and the second are living in a tribal and pre-capitalist society?

    3. What is “national consciousness” and why Stalin didn’t include it as
    another characteristic?

    4. Do Marxists scholars accept “common history” of some people consisting of different tribes in a certain country (for instance Afghanistan) as a factor good enough to call them a nation?

    Thanks in advance for your time and consideration.

    In struggle,
    osaz

    • 1. Essentially, yes. The principle foundation for Stalin’s theory of what a nation is can be expressed [in his own words] as: “Primarily a community, a definite community of people.” Stalin also states that a common language is a characteristic of a true nation, and this much is true. Liberals and ultra-leftists, those who favor “political correctness,” may beg to differ, but realistically speaking one COMMON [not entirely dominant] language is an absolute requirement for a nation to exist, let alone exist strongly. Stalin furthermore goes on to state that common economic standards, common territory, and so forth are the characteristics of a nation, and of course I fail to see how his definition could change, even as time goes on. “A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.”

      2. It is important to note that “common territory” is merely one feature of a nation. Not one trait for sure means that a place is automatically not a nation because it slightly misses one trait [such as common territory]. From Stalin’s writing: “But this [a common territory] is not all [that is required to have a nation]. Common territory does not by itself create a nation. This requires, in addition, an internal economic bond to weld the various parts of the nation into a single whole. There is no such bond between England and America, and so they constitute two different nations. But the Americans themselves would not deserve to be called a nation were not the different parts of America bound together into an economic whole, as a result of division of labour between them, the development of means of communication, and so forth.

      Take the Georgians, for instance. The Georgians before the Reform inhabited a common territory and spoke one language. Nevertheless, they did not, strictly speaking, constitute one nation, for, being split up into a number of disconnected principalities, they could not share a common economic life; for centuries they waged war against each other and pillaged each other, each inciting the Persians and Turks against the other. The ephemeral and casual union of the principalities which some successful king sometimes managed to bring about embraced at best a superficial administrative sphere, and rapidly disintegrated owing to the caprices of the princes and the indifference of the peasants. Nor could it be otherwise in economically disunited Georgia … Georgia came on the scene as a nation only in the latter half of the nineteenth century, when the fall of serfdom and the growth of the economic life of the country, the development of means of communication and the rise of capitalism, introduced division of labour between the various districts of Georgia, completely shattered the economic isolation of the principalities and bound them together into a single whole.”

      The Kurds for example could be considered a nation, but not a state, per se.

      3. National consciousness is ultimately how a group or community of people interpret their situation, primarily in regards to their nation. Consciousness in general is included in Stalin’s definition I believe. At any rate, Marxists emphasize class consciousness more so than national, family, tribal, or other forms of it. Within his definition of a nation, I would say that even if it is not directly stated, it is at least indirectly, as logically it makes sense. However, I suppose the idea of any form of consciousness involves unity to a degree, and not all nations are entirely unified, per se.

      4. Not entirely sure how to answer this, honestly.

      Thank you for your interest.

  2. osaz says:

    thanks for the reply.
    just please let me know how can i contact you privately
    and NOT through thr blog.

    • Right now, the RSV has been managed by myself. The author of this particular article was nice enough to answer your questions upon my request. He himself has not been active here for a little bit now, but if you like, I can ask him if you could have his e-mail address. Also, if you have an account on http://www.deviantart.com, you may follow the link embedded on the author’s screen name to find his account there. This blog has been set up by and for our comrade artists to post articles to. We are, of course, most pleased that you and others enjoy our work. It is always a pleasure to hear from our readers.

      M. L. Hopp

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