Stalin's Writings - notes
regarding the use of the word "sectarianism"
Alliance Notation January 2003
So far, I have been able
to trace only
two clear uses
of the term 'sectarianism'
in the work
of J.V.Stalin. Although to my mind, his practice was non-sectarian, his
writings do not dwell on this very much. The points that I
Stalin makes on this matter, are as follows:
1) The need for
In text one, he is in discussion with
on how to combat illusions regarding nationalism,
that in 1923,
many still had in the state of the USSR. When Stalin talks of the
of work required, he talks of a need for 'flexibility'.
being 'flexible', can the cadre rally around themselves the "majority
the working people".
Stalin Text 1
"But no less, if not more, sinful are the "Lefts" in the border
If the communist organisations in the border regions cannot grow strong
and develop into genuinely Marxist cadres unless they overcome
these cadres themselves will be able to become mass organisations, to
the majority of the working people around themselves, only if they
to be flexible enough to draw into our state institutions all the
elements that are at all loyal, by making concessions to them, and if
learn to manoeuvre between a resolute fight against nationalism in the
Party and an equally resolute fight to draw into Soviet work all the
or less loyal elements among the local people, the intelligentsia, and
so on. The "Lefts" in the border regions are more or less free from the
sceptical attitude towards the Party, from the tendency to yield to the
influence of nationalism. But the sins of the "Lefts" lie in the fact
they are incapable of flexibility in relation to the
and the simply loyal elements of the population, they are unable and
to manoeuvre in order to attract these elements, they distort the
line of winning over the majority of the toiling population of the
But this flexibility and ability to manoeuvre between the fight against
nationalism and the drawing of all the elements that are at all loyal
our state institutions must be
created and developed at all costs. It can be created and developed
only if we take into account the entire complexity and the
nature of the situation encountered in our regions and republics; if we
do not simply engage in transplanting the models that are being created
in the central industrial districts, which cannot be transplanted
to the border regions; if we do not brush aside the nationalist-minded
elements of the population, the nationalist-minded petty bourgeois; and
if we learn to draw these elements into the general work of state
The sin of the "Lefts" is that they are infected with sectarianism and
fail to understand the paramount importance of the Party's complex
in the national republics and regions."
J. V. Stalin June 9-12, 1923.
"Fourth Conference of the Central Committee of the R.C.P. With
Workers of the National Republics and Regions. Verbatim Report Moscow,
1923 J. V. Stalin, Works
Moscow, 1953 Vol. 5, pp. 297-348.
is not the same as having
no principles. And the commmunists must find the dialectical balance
"strict adherence to principle" - and "sectarianism"
Yet it is not the case
'flexibility' is 'opportunism'
or an un-principled loss of "adherence to principle". There is a
balance that must be found - between "strict
adherence to principle"
- and "sectarianism". This is taken from his discussion with the CPG
Herzog, in 1925:
"In its work the Party must be able to combine the strictest adherence
to principle (not to be confused with sectarianism!) with the maximum
ties and contacts with the masses (not to be confused with khvostism!);
without this, the Party will be unable not only to teach the masses but
also to learn from them, it will be unable not only to lead the masses
and raise them to its own level but also to heed their voice and
their urgent needs."
J. V. Stalin: "The Prospects of the Communist Party of Germany and
the Question of Bolshevisation". Interview with Herzog, Member of the
February 3, 1925; in Works; Moscow, 1954, Vol. 7, pp. 34-41;