Documents from or about the Soviet Union during
the Socialist & Revisionist/Imperialist Periods
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established in Russia, and in most of the oppressed nations that had been ruled by the Tsar, after the victory of the great Bolshevik Revolution led by Lenin.
There were tremendous hardships that the people had to overcome in making revolution in Russia, in ending World War I, in fighting the terrible civil war and the invasion of multiple capitalist countries, and the severe famine at that time. It was a forced march for the USSR to recover from this devastation, and to industrialize and build itself up in preparation for a new capitalist assault that they knew would be coming before long.
This new federation of socialist republics called the USSR was soon transformed into a socialist economy and state during the 1920s, under the leadership of Stalin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. This greatly facilitated the industrialization of the country even while the capitalist world was in the midst of the Great Depression. But then they had to prepare to face a ferocious new invasion from Nazi Germany, which when it came led to yet more hardship and suffering for the masses. That the Soviet peoples were able to persevere and achieve victory through all these difficulties is one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity in all of recorded history.
However, not so surprisingly under these circumstances of desperate hardship and attack, and given that this was the very first socialist revolution in history, there were also some serious weaknesses in the Soviet Union during the socialist period. Mao later pointed out that after the early years Stalin and the CPSU no longer relied on the masses and mass initiative, or used the mass line method of leadership (“from the masses, to the masses”). (See the collection of Mao’s comments about Stalin listed below.) Instead, Soviet society was ruled by orders from above, even if mostly with good intentions. The Soviet Union was therefore not governed in nearly as democratic a way as it could and should have been. Dissent was often assumed to be entirely hostile to the revolution, when in fact much of it simply reflected an inadequate understanding of what needed to be done, or was even an attempt to improve the new socialist society. And many honest workers and revolutionaries were falsely labelled as enemies or enemy agents, and were then imprisoned or killed. Moreover, even the economic aspects of Soviet socialism had some serious shortcomings because of these political problems.
Nevertheless, the Soviet Union remained a socialist country—though a very imperfect one—as long as Stalin was alive, and overall it played a quite positive role in the world. But unfortunately the top down and paternalistic style of leadership by Stalin and the CPSU did not condition the Soviet masses to more directly run society and to keep an eye on their leaders, and did not prepare them to deal with revisionists like Khrushchev and the new privileged bourgeois stratum that came to power after Stalin’s death. This stratum soon formed itself into a new bourgeois ruling class.
The revisionist (state-capitalist) period in the Soviet Union lasted from the mid-1950s until the final collapse of the USSR in 1991. Many people in reformist and revisionist parties around the world were not able to recognize this fundamental change in the nature of the Soviet Union, and there has been considerable struggle and debate about this. The central ideological struggle here was that between Mao and Chinese revolutionaries (on the one hand), and the Soviet revisionists (on the other hand). But there have also been some other important debates and exposures of Soviet revisionism and social-imperialism since then.
On this page we will try to collect and present many key and hard to find documents which critically discuss the negative aspects of the Soviet Union during the socialist period, as well as evaluations of Stalin and his role. And, in a separate section below, we will try to bring together many important documents criticizing and condemning the USSR during the revisionist and social-imperialist period. Some items have the file extension “.djvu”. These files require the WinDjView program to read them. This reader can be obtained for free at: http://www.windjview.sourceforge.net (Linux users have the capability to read .djvu files integrated into their PDF readers of the major desktops: Okular in KDE, Evince in GNOME.)
If you know of other documents that should be posted here, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Russian Revolution and the Lenin Era
- About Lenin:
- Fine Drawings of Lenin, a collection published by the Communist Party of Germany on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lenin (1970). 12 pages (missing two drawings). German: WinDjView format [8,089 KB]
Discussion of the Socialist Period of the Soviet Union and of Stalin
- The Soviet Union During the Socialist Period:
- [To be added.]
- The Stalin Question:
- “Mao’s Evaluations of Stalin: A Collection and Summary”, ed. by Scott Harrison, Sept. 6, 2006, about 40 pages. HTML format
Discussion and Criticism of the Soviet Union in the Revisionist and Social-Imperialist Period (1956-1991)
- The Great Debate: Between the Communist Party of China (CCP) and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU):
- The Great Debate page in the China section on BannedThought.net — This consists mostly of books, pamphlets and other items published in China during the Mao era.
- The most important documents from the Chinese side (CCP) in this debate, along with a couple of the key documents from the CPSU can also be found on the “From Marx to Mao” website at: http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/Index.html#CPC
- Many of the most important documents from both sides in this debate can be found on the Marxist Internet Archive (MIA) at: http://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sino-soviet-split/index.htm
- A much more complete collection of the documents from both sides has been published in printed form in India: The Documents of the Great Debate, 3 volumes, (Saharanpur [Uttar Pradesh, India]: Antararashtriya Prakashan, 127, New Avas Vikas Colony, Saharanpur - 247 001, India, December 2005), distributed by: Gargi Vikraya Patal, 127, New Avas Vikas Colony, Saharanpur - 247 001, India. U.S. paperback price for the 3 volumes as of 2009: $36.00.
BannedThought.net will attempt to post digital versions of many of the most important of these documents at some point in the future, especially those which are not available anywhere else online.
- Discussions and Criticisms by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA:
- The Red Papers, #7: How Capitalism has been Restored in the Soviet Union and What This Means for the World Struggle, by the Revolutionary Union (predecessor organization to the RCP), Chicago: October 1974.
- Entire document in a single file, 163 pages. [Large PDF file: 29,351 KB]
- Cover and Contents, 3 pages. [PDF: 533 KB]
- Introduction, 2 pages. [PDF: 316 KB]
- I. Some Questions of Theory, 12 pages. [PDF: 2,124 KB]
- II. The Origins of Capitalist Restoration and the Rise of N. S. Khrushchev, 13 pages. [PDF: 2,334 KB]
- III. The Soviet Economy Under Brezhnev and Kosygin: The Full Establishment of Capitalist Relations of Production, 32 pages. [PDF: 5,818 KB]
- IV. Soviet Social-Imperialism Around the World, 21 pages. [PDF: 3,884 KB]
- V. Everyday Life Under Soviet Social-Imperialism, 21 pages. [PDF: 3,707 KB]
- VI. The Soviet People Fight Back, 12 pages. [PDF: 2,259 KB]
- VII. The Cultural Revolution and the Class Struggle Under Socialism, 11 pages. [PDF: 2,069 KB]
- VIII. Conclusion—the Significance of the Emergence of Soviet Social-Imperialism, 6 pages. [PDF: 1,042 KB]
- Appendix 1, 4 pages. [PDF: 881 KB]
- Appendix 2, 1 page. [PDF: 202 KB]
- Appendix 3, 9 pages. [PDF: 1,527 KB]
- Appendix 4, 12 pages. [PDF: 2,234 KB]
- End pages, 3 pages. [PDF: 509 KB]
- [Book:] The Soviet Union: Socialist or Social Imperialist? Essays Toward the Debate on the Nature of Soviet Society, compiled by the Editors of The Communist, theoretical journal of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, (Chicago: RCP Publications, 1983), 212 pages. Includes:
In PDF photo image format [13.0 MB]
- “The ‘State Capitalist’ and ‘Bureaucratic-Exploitative’ Interpretations of the Soviet Social Formation: A Critique”, by David Laibman, an apologist for the revisionists.
- “Soviet Socialism and Proletarian Internationalism”, by Al Szymanski, another apologist for the revisionists.
- “Soviet Economic Relations with India and Other Third World Countries”, by Santosh K. Mehrotra and Patrick Clawson.
- “The ‘Tarnished Socialism’ Thesis or the Political Economy of Soviet Social-Imperialism”, by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
- [Book:] The Soviet Union: Socialist or Social Imperialist? Part II: The Question Is Joined, Raymond Lotta vs. Albert Szymanski, full text of the New York City Debate, May 1983. (Chicago: RCP Publications, 1983), 90 pages.
- Entire volume in a single large file [PDF: 5,204 KB]
- Front Cover Image [JPG: 81 KB]
- Title Page, Contents, and Preface by C. Clark Kissinger [PDF: 293 KB]
- “The Red Flag Still Flies: Workers’ Power in the USSR”, by Albert Szymanski. [PDF: 1,515 KB]
- “Realities of Social-Imperialism Versus Dogmas of Cynical Realism: The Dynamics of the Soviet Capital Formation”, by Raymond Lotta. [PDF: 1,608 KB]
- Rebuttal, by Albert Szymanski. [PDF: 345 KB]
- Rebuttal, by Raymond Lotta. [PDF: 336 KB]
- Concluding Remarks, by Raymond Lotta. [PDF: 431 KB]
- Concluding Remarks, by Albert Szymanski. [PDF: 296 KB]
- Back Cover Image [JPG: 289 KB]
- “Notes Toward an Analysis of the Soviet Bourgeoisie”, by Lenny Wolff and Aaron Davis, Revolution, #52, Summer 1984, 39 pages. This article is in many ways a continuation of the above books, though it also stands very well on its own. PDF format [368 KB]; MS Word format [200 KB]
- “Against the ‘Lesser Evil’ Thesis: Soviet Preparations for World War 3”, by Mike Ely, Revolution, #52, Summer 1984, 27 pages. [Our apologies for a small amount of underlining in the magazine we scanned.] Searchable PDF format [3,881 KB]
- “Soviet Education: Reading, Writing, and Revisionism”, by Leona Krasny, Revolution, #52, Summer 1984, 22 pages. Searchable PDF format [2,887 KB]
- Discussions and Criticisms of Soviet Revisionism/Social-Imperialism by Others:
- “The Need for Planning: The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union in the 1950s and the Decline of the Soviet Economy”, by Joseph Ball, an article which appeared in Cultural Logic in 2010, 61 pages. Although portions of this paper are somewhat off topic, there are some interesting points to consider here about why Soviet state-capitalism so completely failed from an economic standpoint. PDF Format [704 KB]
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