Professor Mary Fisk
28 January 2018
Stalin the Marxist? No, Stalin the Totalitarian
The question, “Do you think that Stalin was a good Marxist?” is deceiving. Because it alludes to the slight possibility that he actually was a decent Marxist. When in reality Joseph Stalin was nothing more than a deceptive man who would stop at nothing for total control. Karl Marx, the founder of Marxist Communism, would be disgusted by Stalin’s actions. For his collectivization, dekulakization, and single mindedness towards ultimate power goes against everything written in the Communist Manifesto.
One of the craziest things about Stalin is that he professed to be a faithful disciple of Marx and Vladimir Lenin (leader of the Bolshevik Revolution as well as the builder and first leader of the Soviet Union). When in fact Stalin distorted Marxism, and it’s believers, to fit his own personal agenda on an extreme level. He did this effortlessly by lying to not only his close advisors but to all of the Soviet Union. After only a brief review of Stalin’s reign, it is easy to see that he was a master manipulator. An important aspect of Marxism is transparency, truth from facts. However Stalin practiced truth by leaders pronouncement.
In an attempt to be the most revolutionary, Stalin made an insane amount of mass changes to the Soviet Union. While true Marxists believe in careful consideration of all actions, as well as extensive dialogue amongst peers. After consolidating his power in 1928 Stalin’s economic policies took a sharp turn when he announced his “Revolution from Above.” Not only was this a quick and extreme move, it was a brutal and murderous movement that terrorized the nation. It is also a huge example of Stalin’s illegitimate Marxism and a reflection of his totalitarian agenda.
Traditional Marxists like Friedrich Engels, Lenin, and of course Marx believe in equality. Across the board, no questions asked equality, no matter your nationality nor beliefs. Lenin practiced this openly by having a diverse array of leaders and advisors among him. He valued the opinions of others and fiercely encouraged them to substantiate their opinions with clarity and fact. At the heart of communism is a desire for unity amongst all social classes, a longing for solutions that work for everyone as a whole. Stalin however had a different stance in regard to cooperating with others, he didn’t. From the very beginning he seemed to have a prejudice towards everyone. A very cynical and untrusting point of view for those around him. Always assuming the worst and protecting himself before he was ever in danger. Very unlike the communist manifesto, Stalin killed anyone that disagreed with him. This included his triumvirates Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, and all comrades from the Bolshevik Revolution.
Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin believed that society is essentially made up of two classes, the Bourgeoisie and proletariats. The Bourgeoisie make up the capitalists who own the majority of the countries wealth and means of production. The proletariats are at the mercy of the Bourgeoisie upper class because they are the working class. A working class that doesn’t get credit for their hard work, nor the means to live happy healthy lives. This class struggle according to Marxism, is the history of hitherto.
Stalin does the exact opposite of Lenin’s beliefs (the beliefs he claims to share) and ultimately the foundation of Marxism. While Marx and Lenin protest that Russia should be run for the people, by the people, and that workers should be put before capitalists. Stalin totally transforms the country into a machine designed and maintained for ultimate capitalism under his thumb. He does this all, with no thought for the country he claims to want to improve. Ranking his “cultural revolution” as one of the greatest and costliest of all armed conflicts.
The more one learns about Stalin’s rule, the more difficult it is to believe that he truly considered himself a Marxist. The Communist Manifesto outlines a utopian society where everyone is cared for and social class does not interfere with hunger, medical need, education, and opportunity. The founders of communism had good hearts and pursued their theology even when miserable and even when facing death. Because they understood what it was like to be a part of the proletariats and thought it important for people to live free; instead of the poor’s lives being ran by capitalists. Under Stalin’s rule not only were the proletariats being controlled, but so was everyone else living in Russia at the time. Through collectivization, the country was absolutely powerless, starving to death, and hopeless.
Stalin masked his true ideals with the Marxist flag. He did not have a desire to help the Soviet Union, but to manipulate them for personal gain. Detailed research shows that Stalin’s economic policy and Stalinist culture went away from Marxism and towards his own personality. Which was characterized by Lenin as being “abusive, intolerant, inconsiderate and capricious.” It’s important to mention that this was before Stalin was terrorizing innocent people. Some might say that he merely distorted Marxism but in reality he never truly believed nor represented it. Which is obviously clear by Lenin’s famous political “testament.” Warning all who would listen that along with Stalin’s power, position of general secretary, and detrimental characteristics, would lead to the destruction of the Soviet Union.
Amadon, Phil. “How Stalin Distorted Marxism.” Political Affairs, 4 Apr. 2011, www.politicalaffairs.net/how-stalin-distorted-marxism-2/.
Grant, Ted. “Stalin Versus Marx.” Stalin Versus Marx, Marxists.org, www.marxists.org/archive/grant/1946/02/aleksandrov.htm.
Turberville, Cooper. “Communism and Stalin-Ism: How Stalin Ruined True Marxism for the World.” Washington State University, 30 Aug. 2014, history.libraries.wsu.edu/fall2014/2014/08/30/communism-and-stalin-ism-how-the-soviet-union-ruined-communism-for-the-world/.