The purpose of this essay will be to address the most common libertarian socialist arguments I hear against Marxism-Leninism or just in favor of idealist ideologies such as anarchism, democratic confederalism, etc. So, let’s begin.
The first area of libertarian socialism I will be dealing with is anarchism (specifically Anarcho-Communism), which as of now is probably the most popular ideology among libertarian socialists especially in first world countries such as America, Canada, etc. Anarchists love to claim that Marxism-Leninism is doomed to fail due to its authoritarian nature and the nature of states in general. They like to claim that wherever a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence exists, “the iron law of power” will dictate and turn it into a totalitarian, revisionist, or capitalist state. How well does this logic hold up in theory?
Well right away we come to a conflict in the very definition of what a state is. Anarchists see a state as simply holding a monopoly on the use of violence, because from an unscientific standpoint that is what a state appears to be, however we Marxists understand the state to be something very different. We see the state as a tool of class domination, because that is simply what a state has always been. In slave society the state was used to maintain the rule of the slave owning class over the slaves, in feudal society the state maintained the rule of class order more directly through a hierarchy of relations to the nobility, and in modern capitalist society the state maintains the rule of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat. You cannot simply abolish the state without putting your own in place as a transition because class antagonisms do not disappear with the state, but rather are simply void until a new ruling class comes about and establishes their rule. This is what I like to call the void of power, and to explain this I will go through two examples of revolutions that have occurred and how they dealt with this problem.
The October Revolution
Once the capitalist state is abolished through a socialist revolution there is a race to who can assert their power the quickest. Marx and Engels understood this and Lenin further expanded on this in advocating a vanguard party to establish a one-party state under the principles of democratic centralism. Let’s first go through how the Bolsheviks went about their revolution. The Bolshevik Revolution had been very successful in toppling Tsar Nicolas II of Russia, and in forcing the replacement of his government with the Russian Provisional Government. However, the provisional government was weak and riven by internal dissension. It continued to wage World War I, which became increasingly unpopular. A nationwide crisis developed in Russia, affecting social, economic, and political relations. Disorder in industry and transport had intensified, and difficulties in obtaining provisions had increased. Gross industrial production in 1917 had decreased by over 36% from what it had been in 1914. In the autumn, as much as 50% of all enterprises were closed down in the Urals, the Donbas, and other industrial centers, leading to mass unemployment. At the same time, the cost of living increased sharply. Real wages fell about 50% from what they had been in 1913. Russia’s national debt in October 1917 had risen to 50 billion rubles. Of this, debts to foreign governments constituted more than 11 billion rubles. The country faced the threat of financial bankruptcy.
Due to this, the Soviets soon proved that they had far greater authority than the Provisional Government, which sought to continue Russia’s participation in the European war. On March first (14th) the Soviets issued the famous Order #1, which directed the military to obey only the orders of the Soviet and not those of the Provisional Government. In September and October of 1917, there were mass strike actions by the Moscow and Petrograd workers, miners in Donbas, metalworkers in the Urals, oil workers in Baku, textile workers in the Central Industrial Region, and railroad workers on 44 railway lines. In these months alone, more than a million workers took part in strikes. Workers established control over production and distribution in many factories and plants in a social revolution . Given all of this chaos in Russia, the Provisional Government was unable to countermand the order. All that now prevented the Petrograd Soviet from openly declaring itself the real government of Russia was fear of provoking a conservative coup . I could go into much more detail about the Russian Revolution but you can read about it here.
The outcome was the Second Congress of Soviets consisting of 670 elected delegates; 300 were Bolshevik and nearly a hundred were Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who also supported the overthrow of the Alexander Kerensky Government. When the fall of the Winter Palace was announced, the Congress adopted a decree transferring power to the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, thus ratifying the Revolution. The transfer of power however was not done without disagreement. The more reactionary members of the Socialist Revolutionaries as well as the Mensheviks believed that Lenin and the Bolsheviks had illegally seized power. In fact, Leon Trotsky so violently opposed Bolshevik rule he told them “You are pitiful isolated individuals; you are bankrupts; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on — into the dustbin of history!” .
Given this, it should be very clear why the soviets could not, and did not abolish their state immediately. If they had, reactionary forces would have so easily seized power it would have happened overnight. Another more obvious reason why the Bolsheviks saw it as idiotic to abolish the state was the obvious threat of European fascism that was rising, as well as several attempts by imperialist western powers to take over the Soviet Union. So after all this, the USSR became what it is known as in the history books today, the first ever socialist state; and I will go more into detail about their accomplishments, myths surrounding them, and more later in this essay. But the point of this section of the essay is to demonstrate the challenges the soviets faced (that being fascism, reactionaries, imperialists, etc.) and how they overcame it; that being by establishing a state. Next, let’s see how self proclaimed anarchists have historically handled their revolution.
Free Territory of Ukraine
One of the most pointed examples of anarchism by left libertarians, aside from Catalonia, is the Free Territory of Ukraine. Anarchists often times claim that they had stateless communism working, or that they at least maintained a stateless society until the evil Stalinists came in and ruined it. So, let’s dive into this notion further and see whether or not the Anarchists in Ukraine actually established a stateless society.
I will begin by discussing the historical context for the Anarchist Revolution in Ukraine. This all was started by a man named Nestor Makhno, who after the 1905 Revolution, became interested in politics and joined an anarchist circle in Guliai-Pole that engaged in assassinations and financial “expropriations,” until he was imprisoned in 1909 and eventually sentenced to life with hard labor . There he stayed until workers overthrew the tsar in the February Revolution of 1917 (as discussed earlier) and declared amnesty for political prisoners.
Makhno moved back to his home outside of Guliai-Pole and began organizing for social revolution. However, his efforts were soon interrupted by the Austro-German invasion of 1918, which halted the redistribution of land guaranteed by the October Revolution to the peasantry. The army began pillaging the countryside. Makhno organized an armed response and harassed the occupying forces. After one particularly harrowing battle, Makhno was given the title of Batko, or father by his troops . When the German war efforts were defeated in November, Ukraine became a battleground in the civil war as the White Army sought to create a dictatorship and base of operations. The Makhnovists continued to organize and fight. Despite scattered reports to the contrary, their leadership was principally against anti-Semitism or alliances with the Whites. Early on, they displayed brilliant guerrilla tactics, however this later changed when they found themselves in larger battles. Makhno’s army varied in size from a few hundred to tens of thousands and marched under the banners “Liberty or Death” and “The land to the peasants, the factories to the workers.” They entered into alliances with the Bolsheviks against the forces of reaction, but these alliances repeatedly fell apart amid mutual recriminations. Eventually, the Red Army drove Makhno into exile.
Much of what has been written about the Free Territory is based on little to no evidence. The principal texts for the Makhno mythology are, in order of publication, Peter Arshinov, History of the Makhnovist Movement, Voline, The Unknown Revolution, and Alexander Skirda, Nestor Makhno–Anarchy’s Cossack: The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine 1917–1921 . These authors rarely offer corroboration for their main arguments, substituting assertions and invective for evidence and reasoning .
Arshinov, who first met Makhno in prison and later joined him in the Ukraine. Voline was another Russian anarchist who came to the Ukraine to organize in the area controlled by the Makhnovists. In his doctoral dissertation on the movement, a Marxist scholar named Colin Darch did an extensive review of the work of Arshinov and Voline and concluded :
“The existing texts are unreliable on empirical grounds. The most detailed accounts, those by Makhno’s anarchist comrades, are empirically unreliable in suggestive ways. Events are conflated, chronologies confused, whole periods glossed over, logical jumps made, and excuses offered. Although Arshinov’s and Voline’s texts are fundamental to an understanding of the trajectory of the Makhnovist Movement, every factual assertion, every reference to a date, must be checked against other sources. In addition, Voline’s version relies heavily on Arshinov for the main outline of the story, which he merely embellishes with eyewitness anecdotes from time to time.”
Next, Skirda’s text is probably the most widely read today. AK Press has even reprinted it, and websites like “An anarchist FAQ” refer to it as “by far the best account of the movement available,” . According to Skirda’s, Makhno emerges as the Second Coming. With “exceptional strength of spirit,” he was an “intractable character”, “literally death-defying,” “ingenious and daring,” “methodical to the point of mania,” “ready for any eventuality,” with “white-hot determination,” “humble among the humble,” “extremely meticulous, almost obsessive.” He “[again and] again displayed the measure of his extraordinary gifts as a leader of men,” as a “strategical genius” while others “made a mistake which Makhno himself would assuredly have avoided” because of the “unbelievable resourcefulness of his tactical genius,” “daring act of terrorism,” and “genius for partisan warfare.” Continues Skirda :
“To these gifts, Makhno added the qualities of rare sangfroid and presence of mind; he scarcely ever was ruffled, would sum up the situation in a flash and devised the best possible solution, which would allow him to extricate himself yet again from the hornet’s nest.”
Unsurprisingly, Skirda accepts all of Makhno’s statements as true on their face. For example, Makhno claims to have met with Lenin in 1918.16 The only evidence that this meeting occurred is Makhno himself—it doesn’t appear in the notes or diaries of any of those who were supposed to be present, including Sverdlov and Lenin. Even Arshinov, who notes Makhno’s trip to Moscow, has no mention of a meeting with Lenin during the visit . Accepting Makhno’s words as holy writ, Skirda portrays all critics of him as opportunists, hypocrites, or authoritarians. So deep is his antipathy for the Bolsheviks, Skirda goes so far as to idealize their enemy, the brutal White Army General Kornilov :
“Contrary to what has often been claimed, Kornilov was a patriotic officer who had risen through the ranks, the son of a mere Cossack, with a Sart (Mongolian) for a mother, and while no inflammatory revolutionary, it had nonetheless been he who had ordered the arrest of the Tsar and his family; so he was no reactionary but was solidly anti-monarchy and wont to say to any who would listen that he would emigrate to the United States should the monarchy be restored in Russia.”
Surprisingly kind words coming from a man who said that he and his fellow officers “would not hesitate to hang all the Soviet members if need be” during their coup attempt . At the beginning of the civil war, Kornilov said, “The greater the terror, the greater our victories” and “We must save Russia! Even if we have to set fire to half of it and shed the blood of three-fourths of all the Russians!” . Anarchists have been aided in their myth making by the relative absence of scholarly attention to Makhno’s movement during the civil war. Given all of the misinformation that has been thrown around about the Free Territory by anti-soviet historians, let’s get into the facts on what the Free Territory was really like by first seeing what Makhno had to say. When occupying cities or towns, Makhno’s troops would post notices on walls that read :
“This Army does not serve any political party, any power, any dictatorship. On the contrary, it seeks to free the region of all political power, of all dictatorship. It strives to protect the freedom of action, the free life of the workers against all exploitation and domination. The Makhno Army does not therefore represent any authority. It will not subject anyone to any obligation whatsoever. Its role is confined to defending the freedom of the workers. The freedom of the peasants and the workers belongs to themselves, and should not suffer any restriction.”
However when left in control of territory that they wanted to secure, the Makhnovists ended up forming what most would call a state. The Makhnovists set monetary policy . They regulated the press . They redistributed land according to specific laws they passed. They organized regional legislative conferences . They controlled armed detachments to enforce their policies . To combat epidemics, they promulgated mandatory standards of cleanliness for the public health . Except for the Makhnovists, parties were banned from organizing for election to regional bodies. They banned authority with which they disagreed to “prevent those hostile to our political ideas from establishing themselves,” . They delegated broad authority to a “Regional Military-Revolutionary Council of Peasants, Workers and Insurgents.” The Makhnovists used their military authority to suppress rival political ideas and organizations . The anarchist historian Paul Avrich notes, “the Military-Revolutionary Council, acting in conjunction with the Regional Congresses and the local soviets, in effect formed a loose-knit government in the territory surrounding Guliai-Pole,” . So, as we can see, even so called Anarchists ended up forming a state to secure their territory, and despite this they were still crushed by Trotsky a few years later.
What Does This Mean?
Given that even when self proclaimed Anarchists have the opportunity to establish a stateless society, the class antagonisms and chaos left over from the previously existing society do not just disappear and so they are forced to form a state, even if they choose to not call it one. The same thing also happened in revolutionary Catalonia where, despite holding to anarchist philosophy, due to the contradictions of revolutionary socialist society the instead of dissolving the previous state ministries of health, supplies, and economy, the CNT just appointed their own members to carry out similar duties of the state. Soon after, the CNT also joined the national government. On October 18 a CNT plenary session of the regional federations granted the national committee secretary Horacio Martínez Prieto full powers to conduct negotiations with prime minister Francisco Largo Caballero. CNT representatives Juan García Oliver, Joan Peiró, Federica Montseny and Juan López filled seats in Caballero’s cabinet. They took control of the national ministry of justice, industry, health and commerce, respectively. The CNT justified its statist actions by remarking that it was necessary to win the war, which is true but keep in mind that this is why marxists advocate a state, it is a necessary evil especially in a revolutionary society .
The Soviet Union
This section will be analyzing the USSR, addressing myths surrounding it, Stalin, central planning, and will determine whether or not it was truly a socialist state, or whether or not it was simply state capitalist as many libertarian leftists like to assert. In order to answer this question, we must first address what the socialist mode of production is, and what a socialist society is.
What is a Socialist Society?
Marxism, unlike many Utopian libertarian socialist ideologies, distinguishes relations of production, mode of production, and social formation. The terms capitalist, feudal, slave, and socialist can all be applied to these three concepts. A mode of production refers to a mode and or way in which production takes place. This process influences both the relations and techniques of productions. Automation, hunting and gathering, factories, agriculture, etc. as productive forces all influence the mode of production in any given society. We can thus understand industrial capitalism, agrarian capitalism, industrial slavery, etc. to all be separate modes of productions. The term social formation refers to the aggregate modes of productions that make up a given economy. It is possible for slave labor to exist alongside free labor, serfdom, and commodity production. However, for the most part, one set of relations is dominant in any given social formation, and this is what determines the fundemental logic of the system as a whole. The dominant relations of production are not, however, wherever the most people are working, rather the dominant relations of production are that which influence the system the most. Thus, in the 1800s, the United States was still a capitalist social formation despite having more slaves than industrial workers, because the very existence of slavery in the United States was a result of industrial capitalism’s need for labor and raw materials. Following this logic, it is therefore possible to have a socialist society where the majority of people do not work in collective sectors, given these collective sectors and proletarian controlled plans are what’s driving the fundamental logic of the entire system.
Now that I have established that background, it should be very clear to understand what a socialist society is; that being a society whose social formation is being driven by a socialist mode of production. What this essentially means is that a socialist society is not defined by what percentage of industries are publicly/collectively/privately owned but rather by what mode of production is driving all of these industries, and in the Soviet Union that was the state which was the embodiment of the workers due to the fact that it was a proletarian dictatorship .
One of the most common buzzwords I hear from the libertarian left is when they denounce all Marxist-Leninist states as simply “state capitalist,” so I want to examine whether this claim is accurate, or even rational. I will start by examining this argument from both a theoretical, and empirical standpoint. So, let’s begin.
To understand the USSR from a theoretical view, we must first understand what both capitalism and state capitalism are. Capitalism is a mode of production in which the means of production are privately owned and controlled, and profits are used for the benefit of the owners and stockholders rather than those producing the value (the workers); therefore state capitalism is when this same process occurs, only the state owns and controls the means of production, and uses the profits of these state enterprises to benefit themselves and not the people. To determine whether or not the USSR was state capitalist, we must analyze the social relations of the society and see whether or not there is a ruling class (state bourgeoisie as it’s sometimes called) and an exploited working class. To see if the workers are separated from the means of production insofar as there is a new class in socialist society acting as a capitalist while maintaining the role of the state we can test this directly by examining the empirical data on how the USSR operated which I will do in a moment, but beforehand I must also establish what exactly a ruling class is. A ruling class in Marxist theory is those who control the state and means of production. In the case of capitalist society, the state gets controlled by capitalists through corrupt campaign funding, donations, etc. and in turn the state looks after the interests of the capitalist class (the bourgeoisie) instead of the working class (the proletariat).
Whether they know it or not, when libertarian socialists claim the USSR was state capitalist, they must be invoking a very common argument given by mainstream economists and political scientists against centrally planned economies; the idea of “planners’ preference.” What the basic argument is, is that the people planning the economy will plan the economy to better suit their needs, rather than the needs of the people. This is essentially the same as saying that if the workers indirectly control the state through democratic centralism, they are alienated from the means of production and the members of the state emerge as the new ruling class. In order to know if this is true or not, we must examine the empirical evidence that exists on how the Soviet economy actually worked, and whether or not the people or “state capitalists” benefited from the way in which it was planned.
Firstly, among the most important accomplishments of the Soviet economy was the abolition of unemployment. Not only did the Soviet Union provide jobs for all, but work was considered a social obligation, of such importance that it was enshrined in the constitution. The 1936 constitution stipulated that “citizens of the USSR have the right to work, that is, are guaranteed the right to employment and payment for their work in accordance with quantity and quality.” On the other hand, making a living through means other than work was prohibited. Therefore deriving an income from rent, profits, speculation or the black market (social parasitism) was illegal . Something that further benefited the people of the USSR was the fact that finding a job was easy, because labor was usually in short supply. Due to this, employees had a high degree of bargaining power on the job, with obvious benefits in job security, and management paying close attention to employee satisfaction .
Another way the average soviet citizen was from Article 41 of the 1977 constitution which capped the workweek at 41 hours. Workers on night shift worked seven hours but received full (eight-hour) shift pay. Workers employed at dangerous jobs (such as mining) or where sustained alertness was critical (such as physicians) worked six or seven-hour shifts, but received full time pay. Overtime work was prohibited except under special circumstances . Also, from the 1960s, employees received an average of one month vacation time for nearly all jobs . All Soviet citizens were also provided a retirement income, men at the age of 60, and women at the age of 55 . The right to a pension (as well as disability benefits) was guaranteed by the Soviet constitution (Article 43), rather than being revocable and subject to the interests of politicians bought off by capitalists. The right to housing was guaranteed under a the constitutional provision (Article 44). Urban housing space, however, was cramped, about half of what it was in Austria and West Germany. The reasons were poor construction of infrastructure in Tsarist times, the massive destruction of housing during World War II, and Soviet emphasis on heavy industry. Prior to the October Revolution, inadequate urban housing was built for ordinary people. After the revolution, new housing was built, but the housing stock remained insufficient. Housing draws heavily on capital, which the government needed urgently for the construction of industry. In addition, Nazi invaders destroyed 1/3 to 1/2 of all Soviet dwellings during the Second World War .
When it comes to the health and well being of citizens, The Soviet Union placed greater stress on healthcare than their capitalist competitors did. No other country had more physicians per capita or more hospital beds per capita than the USSR. In 1977, the Soviet Union had 35 doctors and 212 hospital beds per 10,000 compared to 18 doctors and 63 hospital beds in the United States . Most important, healthcare was free. The fact that US citizens had to pay for their healthcare was considered extremely barbaric in the Soviet Union, and Soviet citizens “often questioned US tourists quite incredulously on this point” . Education through university was also free, and stipends were available for post-secondary students, adequate to pay for textbooks, room and board, and other expenses [38 & 42].
If planners’ preference was true, and the “Soviet Elites” just disregarded their citizens needs in favor of their own, as a capitalist disregards their workers’ needs in favor of their own, then why would any of what has been discussed in this section be true? Why would living standards have risen so greatly in the USSR on top of all the benefits offered to workers and citizens? It simply wouldn’t have, which makes it clear that when there is a true proletarian dictatorship, such as the USSR, the people have the power and are able to use that power for their own benefit.
Contrary to what is often assumed and stated by mainstream historians as well libertarian-leftists, workers in the Soviet union actually had a great deal of control and autonomy in their work places. Aside from the fact that the state, which planned the economy and gave great benefits and working conditions to workers, was controlled by the people of the Soviet Union (all workers given the right to work as discussed earlier) workers also had much control in day-to-day operations through the 113.5 million trade unions that existed, with 5.5 million workers being elected by their peers to collectively plan nationalized enterprises with state officials, making sure that the people working in these enterprises had a say in how they were run .
The trade unions in the USSR were designed in such a way as to promote the interests of their members, which was entirely made up of workers. They constantly worked to stimulate the country’s economy, with the input of workers on a massive scale through a process called “socialist emulation.” Having around 107 million members, the trade unions united about 98% of the soviet workforce . The unions even had the power to draft bills for consideration by the Supreme Soviet, which often times passed given that officials didn’t want to be voted out . These unions, and enterprises ran under planning that was done by both the workers, and the worker controlled state which therefore means that no matter how much private property or slight influence of market forces there may have been in the USSR, it still would be considered socialist given the dominant mode of production was planning via worker control.
Lastly, the argument so often espoused by libertarian socialists is that because countries like the USSR and China turned revisionist, therefore Marxism-Leninism itself is always doomed to revisionism and we should all become libertarian socialists to “synthesize the best of Marxism and Anarchism.” However, this view is very idealist and ahistorical, as I will explain.
The truth is is that the conditions that existed in the Soviet Union and China were far too hostile to socialism to the point where it could no longer be contained. During the Cold War, the USSR had no major allies that could help them in combating against Western Imperialism, given they were usually the ones helping other socialist countries and the others were far too weak to give the Soviets assistance. In order to keep up with the west, the USSR engaged in the arms race and space race which helped drive their economy into the ground along with market reforms by Khrushchev and Gorbachev which were put into place as a means of serving a small minority of capitalists who had infultrated the government . The same thing happened in China, where there were many policy errors made by Mao which allowed for the influtration of capitalists. We should take Stalin and Mao’s errors of being too close with the west, and not dispousing them enough as a lesson for building future socialism, not point to it as an example of why Marxism-Leninism will never work .
This section is not directed at all libertarian socialists, as I know many who understand that many of the claims made about Stalin by the mainstream media and history books are false, but it is directed at those who believe the lies surrounding Joseph Stalin and his government so that is the purpose of this. This section will be looking at Stalin’s party and military purges, alleged famine, and gulags. So, let’s begin.
The first thing we should understand about the military purges is that Tuckhachevsky and the other generals did indeed work with Hitler and the German government. The Moscow press announced that they [the primary Generals on trial] had been in the pay of Hitler and had agreed to help him get the Ukraine. This charge was fairly widely believed in foreign military circles, and was later substantiated by revelations made abroad. Czech military circles seemed to be especially well informed. Czech officials in Prague bragged to me later that their military men had been the first to discover and to complain to Moscow that Czech military secrets, known to the Russians through the mutual aid alliance, were being revealed by Tukhachevsky to the German high command .
It should also be noted that the generals on trial were not tortured. In the majority of historical works devoted to the Tukhachevsky case, these confessions are explained exclusively by the use of physical torture. However, such an explanation is inadequate for a number of reasons. First of all, the defendants at the trial of the generals were strong and healthy people, most of whom had only recently crossed the threshold of their 40th birthday. Unlike the main defendants at the open trials, they had not spent long years before their arrest engaged in endless acts of self-deprecation and humiliation. For this reason, one might expect significantly greater resistance from them, than, for instance, from Zinoviev or Bukharin. – Second, the stunning speed with which the confessions were obtained draws our attention. The majority of the defendants at the open trials did not give such confessions for several months. The trial of the generals, however, was prepared in record-setting time. From the arrest of the main defendants to the trial itself, slightly more than two weeks passed. Such a time period was clearly insufficient to break these courageous men who had many times looked death in the eye. Third, unlike the defendants at the open trials, where the judges were faceless bureaucrats, the defendants at the trial of the generals were appearing before their former comrades-in-arms. This fact should have filled them with hope that the truth, if spoken in their presence, would inevitably make it beyond the courtroom’s walls .
Lastly, the purges were very needed and a very wise decision. Though the purge had deprived the Red Army of many capable soldiers, Stalin had retained the services of the best known. They were eventually to justify his faith by their devotion to the USSR in its war against Hitlerite Germany. Prominent among them are: Voroshilov, Budenny, Yegorov, and Shaposhnikov, To this core of tried and reliable soldiers, the post revolutionary military academies have added many younger figures whose worth was proved for the first time in action against the Nazis. Best known of these is the 46 year old Timoshenko .
When discussing the purges it is imporant to remember that throughout [until] 1937, ex-Party leaders who had been demoted, expelled, or sent into exile, were routinely brought back into leadership positions. Once they criticized their past practices they were released from banishment (for example, many of Trotsky’s supporters, including numerous former supporters of the United Opposition of 1926-27, were released in 1928, after they had endorsed the new rapid industrialization line of the Party) and restored to a high level positions in the Party and state.
For example, Bukharin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov, Tomsky, leaders of the various oppositional factions in the Party in the 1924-29 period, were restored to leadership positions– although never to the powerful positions they once held. Bukharin, for example, lost his important posts in 1929 including membership on the Politburo, the editorship of Pravda and the chairmanship of the Comintern for actively opposing the collectivization and rapid industrialization campaign. In the relatively tolerant climate during 1932-34, however, he was first made director of the research department of heavy industry and then given the responsible post of editor of Izvestia, which he held from 1934 to 1937. Tomsky, although he lost his position as leader of the trade unions and his seat on the Politburo (for the same reasons that Bukharin lost his position), remained on the Central Committee of the Party, and was re-elected at the 16th Party Congress in 1930 .
At the 17th Party Congress in 1934 both Tomsky & Bukharin were elected as candidate members of the Central Committee, as were other prominent, past opponents of the prevailing party policies (for example, Rykov), and one of them, Pyatakov, was elected as a full member. Zinoviev and Kamenev who, together with Stalin, had represented the maximal leadership of the Party in 1924-26, were removed from the Politburo and other leading positions, and in 1927 they were expelled from the Party for active opposition, including organizing street demonstrations to oppose the Party’s continuing endorsement of the moderate New Economic Policy. In 1928, when most of their earlier critique was finally incorporated into the Party’s new program of rapid industrialization and collectivization, they were both re-admitted and assigned relatively minor official posts. In 1932, they were once again expelled (and arrested) for oppositional activities, but again in the tolerant atmosphere prior to the Kirov assassination were re-admitted and again assigned Party work .
The purpose of “purging” (barely) 170,000 members was in order to improve the party quality. Stalin has frequently been held responsible for the “purge.” He was not its author. This party-cleansing was done under Lenin’s leadership. It is a process which is unique in the history of little parties. The Bolsheviks however, did not regard it as an extraordinary measure for use only in a time of crisis, but a normal feature of party procedure. It is the means of guaranteeing Bolshevik quality. To regard it as a desperate move on the part of leaders anxious to get rid of rivals is to misunderstand how profoundly the Bolshevik party differs from all others, even from the Communist Party’s of the rest of Europe .
Famine of 1932
Cold War confrontation, rather than historical truth and understanding, has motivated and characterized the famine-genocide campaign. Elements of fraud, anti-semitism, degenerate Nationalism, fascism, and pseudo-scholarship are revealed when one does some basic research into the matter. For historical context it is important to note that one harvest was not enough to stabilize collectivization. In 1930, it was put over by poorly organized, ill equipped peasants through force of desire. In the next two years, the difficulties of organization caught up with them. Where to find good managers? Bookkeepers? Men to handle machines? In 1931, the harvest fell off from drought in five basic grain areas. In 1932, the crop was better but poorly gathered. Farm presidents, unwilling to admit failure, claimed they were getting it in. When Moscow awoke to the situation, a large amount of grain lay under the snow. Causes were many. Fourteen million small farms had been merged into 200,000 big ones, without experienced managers or enough machines. Eleven million workers had left the farms for the new industries. The backwardness of peasants, sabotage by kulaks, stupidities of officials, all played a part. By January 1933 it was clear that the country faced a serious food shortage, two years after it had victoriously conquered wheat  .
Kulak sabotage occurred because collectivization was beginning the end of capitalist relations in the countryside, and so the kulaks threw themselves into a struggle to the end. To sabotage collectivization, they burnt crops, set barns, houses and other buildings on fire and killed militant Bolsheviks. Most importantly, the kulaks wanted to prevent collective farms from starting up, by killing an essential part of the productive forces in the countryside, horses and oxen. All the work on the land was done with draft animals. The kulaks killed half of them. Rather than cede their cattle to the collectives, they butchered them and incited the middle peasants to do the same. Of the 34 million horses in the country in 1928, there remained only 15 million in 1932. A terse Bolshevik spoke of the liquidation of the horses as a class. Of the 70.5 million head of cattle, there only remained 40.7 million in 1932. Only 11.6 million pigs out of 26 million survived the collectivization period  .
This, on top of many natural weather disasters and chaos that were occurring at the time are directly what lead to there being a famine in 1932, whose death tolls really range from four to five million, not in then 10s of millions like is so often put out by the mainstream media as well as disprove historians like Robert Conquest  . However Stalin isn’t the only communist leader accused of famine, another (quite famously) is Mao, however once again after basic research one can come to the conculsion that these famines were not intended or as bad as so often put by westen historians, as Jason Ball notes on Mao :
“The approach of modern writers to the Great Leap Forward is absurdly one- sided. They are unable to grasp the relationship between its failures and successes. They can only grasp that serious problems occurred during the years 1959-1961. They cannot grasp that the work that was done in these years also laid the groundwork for the continuing overall success of Chinese socialism in improving the lives of its people. They fail to seriously consider evidence that indicates that most of the deaths that occurred in the Great Leap Forward were due to natural disasters not policy errors. Besides, the deaths that occurred in the Great Leap Forward have to be set against the Chinese people’s success in preventing many other deaths throughout the Maoist period. Improvements in life expectancy saved the lives of many millions. We must also consider what would have happened if there had been no Leap and no adoption of the policies of self-reliance once the breach with the Soviet Union occurred. China was too poor to allow its agricultural and industrial development to stagnate simply because the Soviets were refusing to help. This is not an argument that things might not have been done better. Perhaps with better planning, less over-optimism and more care some deaths might have been avoided. This is a difficult question. It is hard to pass judgement what others did in difficult circumstances many years ago.”
Next up for this section on Stalin is discussing the Gulag prison system that existed under his government’s rule in the Soviet Union. Along with the fact that the majority of people sent to the prisons were guilty and you were not just sent there for critisizing Stalin  , the Soviet prison system, as applied to ordinary criminals, embodied a number of progressive penological ideas. Educational and manual training instruction courses existed in the more advanced prisons; prisoners were not required to wear uniforms; and the well-behaved prisoners received vacations of two weeks every year, which was certainly unique at the time . Furthermore, the prison administration was held strictly responsible for the actual life of every prisoner. This was taken to such paradoxical lengths that in the same cell you would find prisoners suffering severely from the effects of interrogation about which nobody bothered, while every conceivable medicine for the prevention and cure of colds, coughs, and headaches were regularly distributed. And great precautions were taken against suicide .
Another interesting thing about the Soviet Prison system was that, instead of conducting their prisons on the theory that prison labor and free labor are in inevitable conflict, Russia arranges the closest connection between prison labor and free labor. The prisoner must be brought to realize the solidarity of all labor. He is not an outcast, but a part of the labor-force of the nation. If he is a member of a trade union upon being sent to prison he would not lose that connection. In fact the prisoner who shows by his industry and conduct that he is one with the great body of free workers may be sent from the prison during the later stages of his sentence to work in a factory .
It is clear that the system was devised to correct the offender and return him to society. The means employed are associated labor, social pressure, education for a trade, education in Sovietism and in certain stubborn cases disciplinary treatment. In all these institutions the Code provided that there shall be no brutality, no use of chains, no deprivation of food, no use of solitary confinement, and no such degrading devices as interviewing visitors through screens. Prisoners were transferred from one institution to another as the authorities saw improvement in attitude and conduct. Work for all was compulsory. Two days of labor counted as three days of the sentence for those who made good progress. Labor conditions in the prisons were controlled by the same labor code as governs free laborers. Those condemned to labor in these institutions were entitled to two weeks’ furlough each year after the first 5 1/2 months. If they belonged to the working class, this furlough was deducted from the sentence. The wages paid to prisoners were about the same as those paid to free labor less the cost of maintenance. Those condemned to forced labor also received about 25% less. The prisoner may spend a greater proportion of his wages as he advances in grade. The institutions must be self-supporting, so careful management is required .
Rojava and The Kurds
The YPG is an alliance of Kurdish forces who, with their allies have been fighting off the Islamic State offensive. Kobane, Syria was the focal point of the battle. The Islamic state is a terribly reactionary force that has been encouraged and supported by imperialists, often through back channels. The Islamic State makes clear its genocidal intentions toward the Kurds. Not long ago, the Islamic State tried to wipe out Kurdish Yazid communities. In the face of such brutality, many people correctly rallied in defense of the Kurdish people who were facing genocidal annihilation. Many were inspired by the brave Kurdish women fighting for their freedom. Even though it is very correct to rally to the defense of the Kurdish people, it is important that we have clarity about the nature and role of the Kurdish organizations.
The Kurdish organization that was most significant in beating back the Islamic State in Syria was the People’s Protection Units (YGP), which are connected to the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is strongest in Turkish Kurdistan. Also aiding the fight were the “Peshmerga,” the Iraqi Kurdish militias of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK is openly capitalist has a long history of collaboration with imperialism. However, the PKK has a history as a nominally communist organization, although they have now dropped that label. Today, the PKK are an openly social-democratic organization and do not pretend to be communist. Because of their leftist rhetoric and egalitarian practices, some have supposed the PKK and its satellite organizations to be some kind of vanguard of the Syrian revolution. Because of their long history of conflict with the racist Turkish regime, some have supposed them to be reliable anti-imperialists and see them as a group that will topple global capitalism. However, this is very misguided.
The reality is that the PKK and its satellite organizations are nationalist. Their main interest is in establishing an independent Kurdistan. As such, they ally with whatever force can help them in achieving this end. This is why at the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the PKK-YPG was in an alliance with the Assad regime, which ceded areas to them with almost no conflict . This is why the PKK-YPG is today aligned with some parts of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against both the Islamic State and the Assad regime . This is why today, they seek coordinate with the United States’ bombing campaign  . This is why they ask the United States for support in their fight in Syria . This is why they call on material support from Europe . The United States has also had secret talks with the YPG’s political wing since 2012. Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford :
“The PYD-YPG is a Syrian group that is moving on the ground, so we had an interest in understanding their viewpoint and ideas.”
And according to another source :
“Kurdish sources familiar with the indirect U.S.-PYD talks told Foreign Policy that Washington is currently pushing the PYD to distance itself from the Assad regime by joining the Syrian Coalition, working with the FSA, and improving ties with the KNC and Barzani… The recent agreement between the YPG and FSA factions to fight IS together might reflect a PYD eagerness to meet preconditions for U.S. assistance.”
Their willingness to ally with imperialism to achieve its end is not new. The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) is the PKK’s satellite organization in Iranian Kurdistan. Because of the United States’ conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran, PJAK has sought to position itself as a US asset in the region even though they are still on the US list of terrorist organizations. The PJAK made its intent known through Western journalists :
“These words are not quite coded speech, but they are PJAK’s way of batting its eyelashes at the United States, of implying that the world’s superpower and this ornery Maoist gang might find common cause against Tehran. Most of the freedoms Turkish Kurds have been eager to spill blood over have been available in Iran for years; Iran constitutionally recognizes the Kurds’ language and minority ethnic status, and there is no taboo against speaking Kurdish in public. The PJAK Kurds want more: They want secular democracy, they say, and they want the United States to go into Iran to deliver it to them. Kurds enthusiastically boycotted the sham election that won Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran’s presidency last year, and they speak of him in doomsday terms that would fit in at the American Enterprise Institute but sound awkward in this rebel camp where everyone’s heroes are Che Guevara and Spartacus.
‘Ahmadinejad does not respect the Sunnis. He thinks they are agents of Israel and the USA,’ says PJAK spokesman Ihsan Warya, an ex-lawyer from Kermanshah. (Most Kurds are Sunni.) Warya nevertheless points out that PJAK really does wish it were an agent of the United States, and that they’re disappointed that Washington hasn’t made contact.”
Although the PKK and its satellites do not have a deep history of imperial collusion yet, they are not in principle opposed to it if imperialism is perceived to serve their nationalist ends. As the Syrian conflict develops, it looks like they are positioning themselves to try to be part of a Western-supported coalition. Thus the PKK is not in principle different from the PUK in Iraq nor is it in principle different from numerous other nominal leftist organizations that have sought support from the United States ranging from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) to Iranian Maoists to the Communist Party of Iraq. This is the problem with revisionist and nationalist organizations. Since they are not led by true science, such as Marxism-Leninism, even if they claim to be revolutionary, they can become instruments of the west.
The western imperialists have a complex strategy in Syria and the region. They are playing multiple sides, hedging their bets so that their position is advanced no matter what the outcome of the Syrian conflict. Its overall goal is to weaken the region, especially the Iranian-Assad-Hezbollah axis. It has done this by fostering sectarian conflict on multiple sides. With one hand it supports the Islamic State, with the other it bombs them. We must remember the principal duty of socialists in our modern age is not only to oppose capitalism but also to oppose imperialism, not opportunistically cheerlead any particular force on the ground. To be clear, the Kurdish people have the right to defend themselves from genocide. We would like to see a Kurdish people who were truly free, but that freedom should not be bought at the expense of any other oppressed people of the region. We would like to see all the oppressed of the region thwart imperial plans by overcoming their differences with each other, by uniting under the science of Marxism-Leninism.
Lastly, it should be understood that Rojava did not come about as a society from a genuine proletarian vs bourgeoisie revolution, but rather just in the midst of chaos of the situation in Syria, and so this is why it will not spread around the world. Some libertarian socialists like to claim that Democratic Confederalism will spread to Turkey when there will be a civil war. Without even addressing whether or not a civil war will happen in Turkey (which there probably won’t be) this claim is obviously nonsense when one does some basic research. Given that the largest four parties in Turkey  all have a wide range of ideologies from Centre-Left to Far-Right it is clear that it is impossible to determine who the people in Turkey would support if there was a revolution, and the PKK (the party that would supposably establish democratic confederalism in Turkey) only has 32,800 active fighters , and even that number cannot be 100% confirmed. Meanwhile, Turkey has a standing army of 315,000 soldiers  who have access to far superior weapons than any militant group would . Not to mention the fact that America and many western countries are allies with Turkey  and would support them in any military situation with both military and economic aid.
All information of the Democratic Confederalist ideology that I will be refuting will be coming from: Abdullah Ocalan’s “Democratic Confederalism.”
Democratic Confederalism asserts a difference of the modern bourgeois state from all other states in history by naming it “The Nation State.” This, from the start is completely ahistroical and ignores what all states have in common; that being they are all used as tools of class domination whether or not you try to separate it into a category such as “Nation State.” Given this nonsense foundation of the “Nation State” it will be very easy to pick apart this unscientific ideology.
Ocalan, on page 21, asserts Democratic Confederalism as a “non-state political administration or a democracy without a state,” however this contradicts what a state even is, that being a form of class domination. Whether or not centralized, if one class is maintaining its rule over another through violence that is still a state; no matter how democratic it claims to be. He further goes onto say:
“Democratic decision-making processes must not be confused with the processes known from public administration. States only administrate while democracies govern. States are founded on power; democracies are based on collective consensus. Office in the state is determined by decree, even though it may be in part legitimized by elections. Democracies use direct elections. The state uses coercion as a legitimate means. Democracies rest on voluntary participation.” (Ocalan, pg 21.)
This assertion is so terribly wrong I don’t even know where to begin. The whole purpose of a state is to govern its people not simply to manage or administrate them. This is done perfectly through Mao’s conception of the mass line where party officials go around the country and ask people what they want the state to do, and then the state did so. This task was carried out amazingly well in China during the Mao era . Even a pure democracy is no different from a state when using a materialist lens to see that both are forms of class domination whether you want to accept it or not. And I hope he realizes that the only way to enforce a democratic decision is through violence, and how are you going to use violence? With a state. He is simpy using the Anarchist method of trying to redefine words like “state” and “legitimate violence” to push his nonsense narrative. The next flaw of Democratic Confederalism is the fact that it is:
“Democratic confederalism is open towards other political groups and factions. It is flexible, multi-cultural, anti-monopolistic, and consensus-oriented.” (Ocalan, pg 21.)
The reason being that if you are open to other political ideologies and are “flexible” in your own ideology, the practice result of what will happen when your ideas are implemented are unknown given that anyone can just come in and influence the will of your state that somehow isn’t a state. I presume that this statement is an attack on the Stalinist style way of crushing dissent within the party. However it should be understood that the party purges under Stalin were performed to ensure the security of Marxism-Leninism and the party so the USSR wouldn’t be overtaken by reactionary forces trying to deceive the masses . Ocalan further takes this flexibility as far as to say:
“Whether nationstate, republic, or democracy – democratic confederalism is open for compromises concerning state or governmental traditions. It allows for equal coexistence” (Ocalan, pg 22.)
This has its own flaws in that he is openly stating that he is willing to allow governmental tradition to supersede his own ideological basis. So then I must ask, what if it is a tradition to oppress women, or a certain religion? Would this ideology simply allow for that to continue because it’s “tradition”? This is why socialist societies need a cultural revolution such as the one in China which was successful in uniting the country’s proletariat in a revolutionary struggle against both capitalism and imperialism . That second part, about imperialism, is something people like Ocalan don’t seem to understand. You cannot simply ally with imperialists when it is convenient for your own nationalist agenda as Rojava currently does as discussed previously. Ocalan goes on further to say that Democratic Confederalism rests on historicism because it “understands” that:
“The state continuously orientates itself towards centralism in order to pursue the interests of the power monopolies. Just the opposite is true for confederalism. Not the monopolies but the society is at the centre of political focus. The heterogeneous structure of the society is in contradiction to all forms of centralism. Distinct centralism only results in social eruptions.” (Ocalan, pg 23.)
I assume that this is an attack on Soviet-Style central planning, however let’s first explore whether or not centralism only results in “social eruptions” from a materialist standpoint. From a Marxist perspective, this is an entirely idealist notion which ignores the fact that there are different forms of centralism that can take place within state society. There is a major difference between a fascist government centralizing industry under corporatism and a socialist government centralizing an economy’s plan. I did address this claim earlier in my Soviet Union section, so let’s move on. Ocalan goes on to expand on how tolerant Democratic Confederalism is towards other ideologies, and he essentially says that it allows whatever is traditional in the society. This, on top of the fact that he asserts to oppose war outside of self defense, so he would have no way of spreading this ideology and even if he could, his tolerance towards local traditions and pathological fear of centralization would no doubt lead to revisionism and the reestablishment of the “Nation State” he claims to oppose so much. He wraps up his ideology by stating:
“Democratic confederalism can be described as a kind of selfadministration in contrast to the administration by the nationstate. However, under certain circumstances peaceful coexistence is possible as long as the nation-state does not interfere with central matters of self-administration. All such interventions would call for the self-defence of the civil society.” (Ocalan, pg 32.)
I shouldn’t even have to say anything in regards to how idealist and moronic these sentences are. I have already refuted the idea of the whole self-administration vs administration argument, but essentially there is little to no difference between the two especially in the context of the Mass Line being implemented by a Marxist Leninist government. Next, he literally says that he would allow for “peaceful coexistence” with nation states as long as they don’t interfere with self-administration but fails to realize that given his own conception of the nation state, this is impossible since according to him the nation state “serves only the preservation of the transcendent state itself, which in turn elevates the bureaucracy above the people,” (Ocalan, pg. 12). Given his own thoughts on the nation state, how can he possibly expect a peaceful coexistence in the name of preserving local autonomy? This is the problem with fetishizing decentralization, it will lead to revisionism and in turn, its own destruction.
In conclusion, almost all arguments made by libertarian socialists about how terrible Marxist-Leninist states were, how great anarchist territories were, and theory are provably wrong. I would hope that if any libertarian socialist is reading this, they seriously reexamine why it is they reject “authoritarian” socialism, so they can improve their understanding of theory and history. For more information on theory and socialist history in the 20th century see below my Further Reading or check out the complete list I put together for more resources. Thanks for reading!
- “The Makhno Myth” by Jason Yanowitz
- “The Triumph of Evil” by Austin Murphy
- “Is The Red Flag Still Flying” by Albert Szymanski
- “The Battle For China’s Past” by Mobo Gao
- “Workers’ Participation in The Soviet Union” by Mick Costello
- “Khrushchev Lied” by Grover Furr
- “The Soviet Union: Socialist or Social-Imperialist? Part I“
- “The Stalin Constitution” by I. Trainin
- “The Truth About Hungary“
- “Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward?” by Jason Ball
- “Evaluating the Cultural Revolution in China and its Legacy for the Future” by The
- “Fraud, Famine, and Fascism” by Douglas Tottle
- “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” by Fredrick Engels
- “Anarchism or Socialism?” by Joseph Stalin
- Mandel, D. “The Petrograd workers and the seizure of soviet power, London” (1984)
- Reed, J. “Ten Days that Shook the World”
- Skirda, A. “Nestor Makhno: Anarchy’s Cossack: The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine”
- It was a title peasants gave to leaders. There is some disagreement in the literature about whether Batko should be translated as “Father” or “Little Father.”
- Voline, The Unknown Revolution (1947; reprint with new translation and more material, Detroit: Black and Red, 1974). Other works with an acknowledged libertarian perspective include Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists (Princeton University Press, 1967[Reprinted, Oakland: AK Press, 2005]); Michael Malet, Nestor Makhno in the Russian Civil War
- For an extended review of Makhnovist historiography, see Colin Darch, “The Makhnovschina, 1917–1921: Ideology, Nationalism and Peasant Insurgency in Early 20th Century Ukraine” (London: Macmillan Press, 1982)
- Darch, C. “Makhnovschina,” 526
- Page numbers for Skirda listed in order of appearance in paragraph: 251; 32; 2; 78; 64; 298; 32; 301; 134; 134; 249; 247; 251; 64; 260; 64. Many of his descriptions read like Stalinist accounts of Lenin.
- Arshinov, 54–55. Darch discusses this absence and Makhno’s description (“Makhnovschina,” 187–217)
- Skirda, 69.
- John Rees, “In defense of October,” International Socialism 2, no. 51 (1991), 15.
- W. Bruce Lincoln, Red Victory: A History of the Russian Civil War: 1918–1921 (1989; reprint Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press, 1999), 85–86.
- Palij, 151. Quote of Makhno in Darch, “Makhnovschina,” 92.
- From a Makhnovist bulletin: “Soviet and Ukranian currencies are to have the same value as other currencies. Those who violate this disposition are to be liable to revolutionary sanction [i.e., execution].” Quoted in Skirda, 165
- Skirda recounts one case of a Bolshevik paper being repressed because it was critical of the Makhnovists, 92. Malet reprints the full order, including the army’s right of censorship on military reports, 176.
- These bodies supposedly had no decision-making authority. They were only allowed to carry out the congress’s decisions. In the fast moving situation of the civil war, it seems certain that these bodies had to make decisions in the light of changing circumstance. Regardless, one “congress of the front” in early 1919 passed a set of regulations on military organization. According to Skirda, “All detachments refusing to acknowledge its authority were to be disarmed and their commanders brought before a general tribunal of the insurgents.”
- Malet, M. “Nestor Makhno in the Russian Civil War” (London: Macmillan Press, 1982), xxi.
- Malet, M. 96. Responding to a typhus epidemic, they had to “threaten punishment to all who did not keep their places clean.”
- Skirda, 359. From a Makhnovist bulletin
- Avrich, Russian Anarchists, 214.
- “The PKK in Numbers”. Sabah (in Turkish). 28 December 2015.
- Turkish Armed Forces Personnel 2014, Official Turkish Armed Forces website (In Turkish)
- Szymanski, A. “Is the Red Flag Flying? The Political Economy of the Soviet Union Today” (1979)
- Kotz, David M. “Socialism and Global Neoliberal Capitalism” (2003)
- Keeran, R. and Kenny, Thomas. “Socialism Betrayed: Behind the Collapse of the Soviet Union,” (2004)
- Lerouge, H. “How the October Revolution and the Soviet Union contributed to the labour movement in Western Europe, and more particularly in Belgium” (2010)
- Sherman, Howard J. “The Soviet Economy, Little, Brown and Company” (1969)
- See: Brown, E. “Soviet Trade Unions and Labor Relations” also see: Kirsch, L. “Soviet Wages” (1956)
- Costello, M. “Workers’ Participation in The Soviet Union”
- Strong, Anna L. “The Soviets Expected It.”
- Vadim, R. “1937: Year of Terror.”
- Cole, David M. “Josef Stalin; Man of Steel.”
- Szymanski, A. “Human Rights in the Soviet Union.” (1984)
- Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin (1945)
- Douglas, T. “Fraud, Famine, and Fascism.”
- Strong, Anna, L. “The Stalin Era.”
- Charles Bettelheim. “L’Economie sovietique”
- Martens, Ludo. “Another View of Stalin.”
- Tauger, Mark. “Slavic Review” Volume 53, Issue 1 (Spring, 1994)
- Ball, J. “Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward?”
- Chamberlin, William Henry. “Soviet Russia”
- Conquest, Robert. “The Great Terror.” (1990)
- Davis, Jerome. “The New Russia.”
- Burnett, B. “The Spanish Civil war: Revolution and counter-revolution.”
- Murphy, A. “The Triumph of Evil”