Comrades will be perhaps be aware that there
is a lot of as-yet unpublished materials, by the late W.B. Bland - that
both the Communist League & Alliance - are committed to making available.
We have selected primarily those letters that contain some insights
into critical theoretical issues.
TWO UNPUBLISHED LETTERS ON DIMITROV
WILLIAM B. BLAND Addressed to Vijay Singh
Ilford, June 1995
Thank you for your letter of 3 June. I reply (in
a personal capacity) herewith.
Introduction 1: Dialectics
When I was told to expect a letter from you which would
"expose the error of our characterisation of Dimitrov as a revisionist’,
I looked forward to receiving it. I accept unreservedly that we are not
infallible, so that, however hard we strive to publish the truth, we are
indeed capable of making errors. Consequently, we welcome correction of
Indeed, the principle of dialectics, in its original
meaning, was that one party puts forward a proposition (the thesis), while
another puts forward a counter-proposition (the antithesis), and out of
this process of contradiction emerges a new proposition (the synthesis)
which differs from both the thesis and antithesis but contains some elements
of both and is closer to truth than either.
I was hoping that your antithesis might assist us
in correcting errors in our thesis and so attaining a synthesis closer
to truth than either. But in order that this could be so, two things were
Firstly, the antithesis must be based on principle, and not on mere
personal insults. You state, for example,
"You have ignored a well-known text of Stalin".
But the text concerned does not appear in the English
edition of Stalin's 'Works' so that the adjective 'well-known' is merely
another jibe from your academic heights at those like myself who do not
(Your letter: p. 2, para. 8).
And the dictionary defines the verb 'to ignore' as:
"to refuse to take notice of, . . . to disregard intentionally, leave
out of account or consideration, shut one's eyes to".
You are, therefore, accusing us, quite falsely, of 'intentionally
disregarding' a text of which we were ignorant.
('Oxford English Dictionary', Volume 7; Oxford; 1989; p. 641).
(The old sense of 'to be ignorant of' is described as obsolete).
The second requirement for our polemical discussion
to contribute to the search for truth is that it should be based on a rational
philosophical attitude towards the universe, and in particular towards
Marxist-Leninists hold that the universe forms a
coherent, interconnected whole:
"Contrary to metaphysics, dialectics does not regard nature as an accidental
agglomeration of things, of phenomena, unconnected with, isolated from
and quite independent of, each other, but as a connected and integral whole,
in which things, phenomena are organically connected with, dependent on
and determined by each other".
They also hold that the truth of a hypothesis can be
determined only by practice; if a hypothesis conflicts with a known
fact, it cannot be true or, in the words of a proverb often quoted
by Engels: "The proof of the pudding is in the eating":
(Josef V. Stalin: 'Dialectical and Historical Materialism', in: 'History
of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks): Short Course';
Moscow; 1939; p. 106).
"In practice, man must prove the truth".
These Marxist-Leninist propositions may be expressed
in everyday language by the sentences 'Everything makes sense' and 'History
must make sense", for in this context 'sense' means:
(Karl Marx: 'Theses on Feuerbach' (spring 1845), in: ‘Selected Works',
Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 471).
"The standpoint of life, of practice, should be first and fundamental
in the theory of knowledge".
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'Materialism and Empirio-Criticism: Critical Comments
on a Reactionary Philosophy' (September 1903), in: 'Selected Works', Volume
11; London; 1943; p. 205).
"What is logical . . . (the opposite of nonsense)".
and 'logic' as:
(Tom McArthur (Ed.): 'The Oxford Companion to the English Language';
Oxford; 1992; p. 917).
" . . . the process of reasoning and sound judgment".
Stalin takes his stand on rationality, for he criticises
(Tom McArthur (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 624).
revisionist Maksim Litvinov:
" . . . Litvinov, who believes Wise ([A pun -Alliance Editor] -- British
social-democratic politician Edward Wise -- WBB) and other bastards more
than the logic of things".
You, however, clearly reject the principles that
'Everything makes sense’ and 'History must make sense', for you say:
(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov (9 September 1929),
in: Lars T. Lih, Oleg V. Naumov & Oleg V. Khlevniuk (Eds.): 'Stalin's
Letters to Molotov: 1925-1936'; New Haven (USA); 1995; p. 177-78).
"The fictional notion that Stalin was in a minority is buttressed by
a companion 'theory' that Marxism-Leninism teaches that 'everything makes
This latter statement is quite false. We reject nothing
'in advance'. We merely take our stand on Sherlock Holmes's famous dictum:
(Your letter: p. 2, para. 1).’
"On the basis of the 'theories' that Stalin had lost power to 'hidden'
revisionists and that 'history must make sense', the Dimitrov and Stalin
critics reserve the right to reject in advance any document defending the
actual stands of Stalin and Dimitrov".
(Your letter: p. 3-4, paras. 10-1).
'When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however
improbable, must be the truth".
But if you reject the principles that 'Everything makes
sense' and 'history must make sense', you clearly take your stand on
the principle that 'hypotheses, including historical hypotheses, may be
true even if they don't make sense'!
(Arthur Conan Doyle: 'The Sign of Four'; London; 1976; p. 54).
In other words, you take your stand on the irrationality
of the universe and of history.
What Maurice Cornforth says about 'logical positivism'
is equally applicable to your obscurantist position:
"Positivism reflects the intellectual and moral disintegration of capitalist
society. It . . . in effect renounces reason and science. It denies the
very possibility of a rational and scientific basis of human action".
No doubt you will soon be moving to a more lucrative
post as Professor of Illogical Positivism at Berkeley, with the famous
slogan 'ALL IS UNCERTAINTY AND CHAOS' carved over its marble portal!
Permit me first to correct some misapprehensions as
to our position under which you appear to be labouring.
(Maurice Cornforth: 'In Defence of Philosophy'; London; 1950; p. 254).
Firstly, you say:
"You reject his (Dimitrov's - Ed.) persistent struggle for the creation
and consolidation of the united proletarian front for the struggle against
This is not so. Almost the whole issue of 'COMpass'
No. 111 (February 1994) is devoted to an analysis of 'United Front Tactics',
which we fully support. In this article, in full agreement with
Dimitrov, we criticise the Comintern policy in 1931-34 for deviating from
these tactics in a pseudo-left manner which:
(Your letter: p. 1, para. 1).
"…implied the abandonment of the Marxist-Leninist tactics of the united
front". ('COMpass', No. 111 (February 1994); p.8).
Secondly, you say:
"You reject his (Dimitrov's -- Ed.) persistent struggle for the creation
and consolidation of the . . . Popular Front".
This is inexact. We fully support the Popular Front
policy in relation to colonial-type countries such as Spain and China,
where class collaboration with the national bourgeoisie can play a progressive
role. We oppose it only in developed capitalist countries, where class
collaboration with the bourgeoisie means the sacrifice of the interests
of the working class. Our position on this question is made clear in 'COMpass'
No. 112 (April 1994), which is devoted to an analysis of 'The "Popular
Front" in France, and concludes:.
('COMpass', No. 111 (February 1994); p.8).
"THE REVISIONIST LEADERS OF THE COMINTERN AND THE FRENCH COMMUNIST
PARTY HAD ACCOMPLISHED -- BY MEANS OF A RIGHT OPPORTUNIST DEVIATION FROM
UNITED FRONT TACTICS -- THE TASK OF AIDING AND ABETTING THE APPEASEMENT
POLICY OF THE WEST EUROPEAN IMPERIALISTS TO HAND OVER THE KEY DEFENCES
OF CENTRAL EUROPE TO THE NAZIS".
Thirdly, you characterise our view as:
('COMpass', No. 112 (April 1994); p. 27).
"… the 'theory' that Stalin was in a minority in the period 1929-53,
i.e., almost the entire Stalin period".
This is not our view. We hold that circumstantial evidence
establishes beyond reasonable doubt that there was a substantial number
of concealed revisionists in the leading bodies of both the CI and the
CPSU, and that on certain questions, i. e., at certain times, these
were able to win a majority. I will deal with this question later in my
(Your letter: p. 1, para. 3).
Fourthly, you say that we present:
". . . the line adopted at the Communist International at its 7th Congress
as a line of 'peaceful transition to socialism"'.
This is untrue. We say:
(Your letter: p. 1; para. 1).
"Dimitrov does not completely discard at this time (1935 -- Ed.) the
Marxist-Leninist principle that . . . the transition from capitalism to
socialism can by no means be carried out without . . . violent proletarian
and we cite his 1935 formulation that after the formation
of a united front or Popular Front government:
The only point in Dimitrov’s 1935 formulation which
we regard as incorrect is the following:
('COMpass', No. 117 (June 1995); p. 6).
"A united front government . . . should carry out definite and fundamental
revolutionary demands. . . . For instance, control of production, control
of the banks, disbanding of the police and its replacement by an armed
workers' militia, etc.".
and we believe that our comment on this formula was
(Ibid.; p. 5-6).
"No one at the congress appears to have asked why, if a Popular Front
government had already carried out 'fundamental revolutionary demands'
which had changed the character of the capitalist state, a socialist revolution
should still be necessary".
We pointed out that the Khrushchevite revisionists themselves
claim that the line of the 7th Congress of the CI represented
(Ibid.; p. 5-6).
". . . a change in its strategy in the direction of the formulations
later adopted by the 20th Congress of the CPSU under Khrushchev".
You refer to the:
(Ibid.; p.. 2).
Stalin and the 7th Congress of the CI
". . . known written views of Stalin who supported the promotion of
the Popular Front in France".
and allege that there are a
(Your letter: p. 1, para. 1)
". . . number of quotations of Stalin supporting Dimitrov and the line
of the 7th Congress of the CV."
Yet you give no references and I can find nothing in
the English edition of the 'Works' to this effect. You refer (para. 1)
to the 'known written views of Stalin' in support of the Popular Front
in France. Yet you give no references and there is nothing in Volume 14
of the English edition of the 'Works' to this effect.
(Your letter: p. 1, para. 3).
You cite in support of this statement only an allegation
to this effect by the revisionist Maurice Thorez - an allegation you cite
in coloured terms as a "record' -- whom in 1976 you correctly placed in
the camp of:
"Soviet-type right revisionism".
I recall that, in the days when Stalin was still favourably
presented by the CPGB, the British revisionists used to claim that Stalin
had endorsed the 'programme of peaceful, parliamentary transition to socialism'
of 'The British Road to Socialism'. But although on several occasions I
requested sight of the document concerned, it was never produced or published.
(Stalinist Nucleus of India: Announcement; p. 5).
According to the researches of Dobrin Mitchev, of
the Institute of History of the Communist Party of Bulgaria:
"On 10 March (1934 - Ed. ) - the 15th at the latest -- Georgi Dimitrov
wrote to Stalin. In his letter he explained that during the year he had
spent in prison . . . he had thought a great deal about the problems of
the world workers' movement. He had been concerned above all, he specified,
with questions about the strategy and tactics, the methods, the action
and the functioning of the Communist International. On all this, he concluded,
he would like to speak with Stalin. . . .
It is clearly incorrect, therefore, to suggest that
Dimitrov's 1935 line was equally 'the line of Stalin'. It is clear that
Stalin objected to some aspects of Dimitrov's line. Presumably Stalin's
opposition was taken into account to some extent in the line adopted a
year later at the 7th Congress of the CI.
The discussion took place a little later, in the
presence of Manuilsky and others. . . .
In the course of the interview, Georgi Dimitrov
explained, developed his ideas, which were contrary to those of Stalin.
The discussion was ardent, difficult, impassioned".
(Dobrin Mitchev, in: Jean Meroy: 'Dimitrov: Un revolutionnaire de notre
temps' (‘Dimitrov: A Revolutionary of Our Time’); Paris; 1972; p. 184-85).
In the recently published volume of Stalin's letters
to Molotov, the only mention of Dimitrov is in connection with the 7th
CI Congress, on which Stalin comments:
"The Comintern Congress wasn't so bad".
What does Stalin mean by this unenthusiastic assessment
of the Congress? Presumably, that it wasn't as bad as might have been expected!
(Josef V., Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov, 5 August 1935, in:
Lars T. Lih, Oleg V. Naumov & Oleg V. Khkevniuk (Eds.): op. cit.; 237).
We see no reason to disagree with this assessment.
You say that we:
" . . . reject the opinion of Stalin as given in the obituary of Dimitrov,
which expressed a positive appraisal for the role of Dimitrov".
Yes, it is true that we reject the assessment of Stalin
in the CPSU's obituary, signed by Stalin and others, to the effect that
(Your letter: p. 1, para. 1).
". . . gave all his heroic life to the supreme service of the cause
of the working class, the cause of Communism".
This in no way means that we do not regard Stalin
as the greatest Marxist-Leninist of his era, and certainly not that we
regard ourselves as superior Marxist-Leninists to Stalin. But we should
not assume that he had supernatural intuitive powers which could unfailingly
detect any concealed revisionist despite his concealment. It is now more
than forty years since Stalin died, and a great deal has happened since.
In the light of hindsight many things become clear and it would be
the height of foolishness to maintain that because Stalin accepted Dimitrov
as an honest Marxist-Leninist in 1949, this assessment is in 1995 sacred
dogma which it is heretical to question.
(Obituary of G. M. Dimitrov: in: 'World News and Views', Volume 289,
No. 28 (9 July 1949); p. 326).
Stalin was the first to reject any conception that
his views represented some kind of dogma:
"The Marxist-Leninist theory is not a dogma but a guide to action".
and he was always prepared to amend a view which later
events showed to be untenable. Take the case of the revisionist Aleksey
Rykov. about whom Stalin said in 1926:
('History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks):
Short Course'; Moscow; 1939; p. 356).
"I am not alarmed by economic matters. Rykov will be able to take care
Yet four years later Stalin was writing:
(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov. 15 June 1926, in: Lars
T. Lih, Oleg V. Naumov & Oleg V. Khkevniuk (Eds.): op. cit.; p. 114).
"Rykov and Shmidt need to be relieved of their posts, and all their
bureaucratic advisory and secretarial staff should be sent packing".
If we ref use to change a view in the light of experience
because this view was expressed by Stalin fifty years ago, we fall into
precisely that dogmatism which Stalin so strongly condemned.
You assert that on the character of the Second World
War from 1939 to 1941:
(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Vyacheslav Molotov. 22 September 1930,
in: Lars T. Lih, Oleg V. Naumov & Oleg V. Khkevniuk (Eds.): op. cit.;
" . . . it is clear that the views of Dimitrov and Stalin were in consonance
and that the alleged differences between these two Communists do not exist".
Yet you yourself agree that
(Your letter: p. 3, para. 7).
". . . we have no reason to doubt that Dimitrov maintained that the
Second World War was unjust on both sides".
and cite Stalin as holding that the Second World War
was a just war on the part of Britain and France, that:
(Your letter: p. 2, para. 7)
". . . the Second World War against the Axis powers . . . assumed from
the very outset the character of an anti-fascist war, a war of liberation".
While to us ordinary mortals these two views are diametrically
opposed, in your idealist perversion of dialectical contradiction -- 'black
= white' - you conclude that
(Your letter: p. 2, para. 4).
" . . . it is clear that the views of Dimitrov and Stalin (on the character
of the Second World War between 1939 and 1941 -- Ed.) were in consonance
and that the alleged divergences between these two Communists do not exist".
We have drawn attention in various places to a number
of other divergences on the part of Dimitrov from accepted Marxist-Leninist
1) Lenin in 1919 dismissed as 'a reactionary
petty bourgeois dream' the concept that there could be a form of state
intermediate between the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the dictatorship
of the proletariat:
(Your letter: p. 3, para. 6).
"There can be no alternative but the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie
or the dictatorship of the proletariat. Dreams of some third way are reactionary,
petty bourgeois lamentations".
At the 7th World Congress of the CI in August 1935,
Dimitrov had endorsed this view, dismissing as 'Right opportunism’ the
concept that there could be some kind of intermediate state between the
dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the dictatorship of the proletariat:
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'Theses and Report on Bourgeois Democracy and the
Dictatorship of the Proletariat' (March 1919), in: 'Selected Works', Volume
28; Moscow; 1974; p. 463-64, cited in: 'COMpass', No. 117 (June 1995; p.
"The right opportunists . . . tried to establish a special democratic
intermediate stage lying between the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and
the dictatorship of the proletariat, for the purpose of instilling into
the workers the illusion of a peaceful, parliamentary passage from one
dictatorship to the other".
After the decentralisation of the Comintern, however,
in September 1936 Dimitrov repudiated this position and presented a state
with a Popular Front government as precisely such an intermediate state:
(Georgi Dimitrov: Report to the 7th World Congress of the Comintern
(August 1935), in: 'Selected Works', Volume 2; Sofia; 1972; p. 68, cited
in: 'COMpass', No. 117 (June 1995); p 7).
"Challenging the old guidelines to the effect that a state essentially
was always either a capitalist or a socialist state. Dimitrov said there
was now coming into being a democratic state in which 'the popular front
is of decisive importance"'.
2) In March 1946, Dimitrov publicly supported
the concept of peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism, maintaining
(Institute of Marxism-Leninism, CC, CPSU: 'Outline History of the Communist
International'. Moscow; 1971; p. 417, citing: Central Party Archives: 495/18/1135/427,
cited in: 'COMpass', No. 117 (June 1995); p 7).
". .. in certain conditions socialism may be attained without an uprising.
These conditions now exist . . . ."
Some Dimitrovists here have claimed that we are taking
this passage out of context and that Dimitrov was referring only to countries
like Bulgaria where a socialist revolution had already taken place. This
is untrue. The editor of Dimitrov's 'Selected Works', Spass Roussinov,
makes it clear that this is a change of line resulting from 'changed conditions':
(Georgi Dimitrov: 'The Young Workers' League must be a School of Socialism,'
(March 1946), in: 'Selected Works', Volume 2; Sofia; 1972; p. 342, cited
in: 'COMpass', No. 117 (June 1995); p 8).
"At that time (1935 - Ed.) . . . the international situation did not
allow to mention the possibility of a peaceful parliamentary transition
from capitalism to socialism. . . .
Dimitrov's 1946 formulation of this question is clearly
no different in substance from that put forward by Khrushchev at the 20th
Congress of the CPSU in 1956:
The victory of the democratic forces against Nazi
Germany in the Second World War led to a change in the world balance of
power between capitalism and socialism in favour of the latter. . . . Under
these conditions the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism
in a parliamentary way in individual countries turned into a reality. It
was precisely about this possibility that Georgi Dimitrov spoke in a conference
with activists of the Young Communist League in 1946. . . .
In putting forward the question regarding the roads
of transition to proletarian dictatorship in one way up to 1944 and in
another way after that, Georgi Dimitrov proceeds from the concrete conditions
of the epoch. . . . These are two theses for two different historical periods".
(Spass Roussinov: Introduction to: Georgi Dimitrov: 'Selected Works',
Volume 1; Sofia; 1972; p. xix-xx, cited (in part) in: 'COMpass', No. 117
(June 1995); p. 9).
"The historical situation has undergone radical changes.
3) In 1939, Dimitrov accepted the Marxist-Leninist
thesis that war was inevitable under imperialism:
The present situation offers the working class in a number of countries
a real opportunity . . . to capture a stable majority in parliament and
transform the latter from an organ of bourgeois democracy into . . . an
organ of genuine democracy -- democracy of the working people. (This) could
create the conditions needed to secure fundamental social changes".
(Nikita S. Khrushchev: Report of the Central Committee to the 20th
Congress of the Communist Party; London; 1956; p. 28).
"Wars are the inevitable accompaniment of imperialism".
In 1948, however, Dimitrov put forward the conception
that, as a result of new international conditions:
(Georgi Dimitrov: 'The Tasks of the Working Class in the War' (November
1939), in: Jane Degras (Ed.): 'The Communist International: 1919-1943:
Documents', Volume 3; London; 1965; p. 451, in: 'COMpass', No. 117 (June
1995); p. 9).
"…. a new world war today is neither inevitable nor imminent".
In 1952 Stalin refuted this revisionist concept of Dimitrov's;
emphasising that war remained inevitable under imperialism:
(Georgi Dimitrov: 'A New World War today is neither Inevitable nor
Imminent' (April 1948), in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 3; Sofia; 1972; p.
227, in: 'COMpass’, No. 117 (June 1995); p. 9).
"Some comrades hold that, owing to the development of new international
conditions since the Second World War, wars between capitalist countries
have ceased to be inevitable.
You quote from my letter to you to the effect you have
made cracks about my effrontery in writing on Russian history without knowing
the language. You say:
These comrades are mistaken. . . .
To eliminate the inevitability of war, it is necessary to abolish imperialism".
(Josef V. Stalin: 'Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR' (February
1952), in: 'Works', Volume 16; London; 1986; p. 327, 332, in: 'COMpass',
No. 117 (June 1995); p. 9).
"This is lie, and we declare that this practice of fabrication is unacceptable".
But you then proceed to say effectively the same thing:
(Your letter: p. 3; para. 8).
"It should . . . be evident that a knowledge of Russian and Bulgarian
literature would not have led to the anti-Marxist-Leninist assessment of
. . . Dimitrov".
You assess Beria and Malenkov as 'revisionists':
(Your letter: p. 3; para. 8).
The Assessment of Beria and Malenkov
"There is mounting evidence to suggest that he (Beria -- Ed.) had a
hand in Stalin's death. . . . It is now clear that Beria . . . was a pioneer
of modern revisionism".
But of the 'mounting evidence' to which you refer, you
present -- nothing at all!
(Your letter: p. 4, para. 1).
Of Beria's alleged revisionism you say only:
"We drew attention" -- but not to me! –
Although your letter to me does not quote from this
document, I am familiar with Amy Knight's biography of Beria, the blurb
of which describes him as symbolising
"to a recently released document wherein Beria wrote to Rankovich behind
the back of the CPSU, shortly after the death of Stalin where he wanted
it to be communicated to Tito that he wished to establish positive relations
with Yugoslavia. Without rhyme or reason, this document is rejected as
(Your letter: p. 4; para. 1).
". all the evils of Stalinism. . . . We are left in no doubt that Beria
was one of the most evil of men"."
What does Knight, whose assessment of Beria is clearly
closer to yours than to mine -- say about this letter?
"It seems" - it seems! - "that Beria had written a personal
letter to A. Rankovich . . . in which he requested a secret meeting with
Rankovich and Tito to normalise relations between the Soviet Union and
Yugoslavia. The letter was found in his briefcase when he was arrested".
This is hardly a ringing endorsement of the authenticity
of the letter which was 'discovered' -- so conveniently for the plotters
- in Beria's briefcase.
(Amy Knight: 'Beria: Stalin's First Lieutenant'; Princeton (USA); 1993;
This is rather different from your allegation, which
accepts the genuineness of the document concerned without question.
But Knight endorses our view that Beria was the victim
of a plot organised by Khrushchev:
"THE PLOT AGAINST BERIA. . . .
On your presentation of the matter:
Khrushchev had been working feverishly to gather forces against his
opponent. This was no easy task, since Beria still enjoyed support within
the Party Presidium. . . .
Krushchev persuaded Malenkov, Molotov and Bulganin to take an active
The key to Khrushchev's success . . . was support from certain elements
of the military. . . The coup against Beria had to be kept secret.
Beria's arrest was, then, was a highly risky operation that succeeded
more by luck than anything else. . . .
It was hardly a coincidence that the two men in charge of the Beria
case (Rudenko and Moskalenko -- WB.) were closely linked to Khrushchev.
The 'top secret' stenographic report of this historic plenum (of July
1953 -- WB) . . . provides a fascinating and revealing picture of the events
surrounding Beria's arrest, making it clear that Beria's opponents were
still on very shaky ground . . . .
Central Committee members could hardly ignore the glaring inconsistencies
and outright untruths in the testimonies of the speakers who were marched
up to the podium to say what they had been told to say. They must have
realised that all this was simply an ex post facto attempt by Khrushchev
and his colleagues to justify Beria's illegal arrest".
(Amy Knight: op. cit.; p. 194, 195, 196, 199, 202, 203-04, 209).
Beria is 'a pioneer of revisionism', so that we
have Khrushchev -- whom you accept as a revisionist -- organising a ‘risky'
plot against his 'fellow-revisionist' Beria at precisely the moment when
maximum unity of the revisionist conspirators was essential for them!
You say that you:
" . . . stand by the understanding that the late Mike Baker was a 'brilliant
Marxist-Leninist"'. (Your letter: p. 4, para. 2).
But this 'brilliant Marxist-Leninist' refused to accept
a decision of the MLOB that he should be replaced as Secretary, and stole
the name, funds and the printing press of the MLOB.
You imply that these are:
" . . . not political issues",
(Your letter : p. 4, para. 2).
" . . . organisational question".
However, I can recall no differences within the MLOB
on what you call ‘political issues'. However, democratic centralism
is not a mere organisational question but a vital principle of Marxism-Leninism:
(Your letter : p. 4, para. 2).
"In order to function properly . . . , the Party must be organised
on the principle of centralism, having one set of rules and uniform
Party discipline . . . ; the minority must submit to the majority, and
lower organisations to higher organisations".
You not merely deny my statement:
('History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks):
Short Course'; Moscow; 1939; p. 49).
". . . that Baker retired from political activity after the split in
but allege that this statement is a conscious lie:
(Your letter: p. 4, para. 2).
"As you are perfectly aware, the MLOB published a number of seminal
works (after the 'split').
I was aware of no such thing. I know of nothing published
by the MLOB after what you call the 'split'. I called in to Collett's once
a week for several months and was informed that they had no material from
(Your letter: p. 4, para. para. 2).
However, you go on to say that:
". . . at a later stage the MLOB was dissolved when its members dropped
their allegiance to Marxism-Leninism".
So what was the end-result of Baker's 'brilliant Marxism-Leninism'?
The dissolution of the organisation in which he played the leading role
in initiating. While the second-rate people from whom Baker broke away
carried on (as the Communist League) plodding away at the task of building
a Marxist-Leninist Party, the brilliant Marxist-Leninist Baker renounced
(Your letter: p. 4, para. 2).
The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union
"Equally false is your statement that we had not accepted that capitalism
had been restored in the Soviet Union until a very late date".
Of course, I accept unreservedly your assurance above.
But I recall vividly your scathing denunciation of my book 'The Restoration
of Capitalism in the Soviet Union' and had certainly thought that you were
referring to the content of the book. Perhaps you were merely making a
criticism of its literary imperfections.
(Your letter: p. 4; para. 3).
One reason for this misunderstanding may be that
I cannot recall having received any material from the Stalinist Nucleus
of India for many years -the excellent document you kindly sent me is dated
1976! What happened to the SNI? Was it dissolved in order to demonstrate
that you are as 'brilliant' a Marxist-Leninist as the renegade Baker?
You describe our view that at times a majority in the
leadership of the CI and the CPSU adopted policies that deviated from Marxist-Leninist
You may reject rationality, but genuine Marxist-Leninists
do not. They have to find rational explanations for such facts as the following:
(Your letter: p. 1, para. 3).
"1) that Stalin's previously frequent contributions to the debates
in the Communist International ceased in 1927;
Now, on our hypothesis that when these decisions were
(Josef V. Stalin: 'Works; Volume 9; Moscow; 1954; p. x).
2) that publication of Stalin's 'Works' in the Soviet Union ceased
in 1949 -- four years before his death -- with Volume 13 (covering
the period to January 1934), whereas 16 volumes had originally been announced
by the Central Committee of the CPSU;
(Preface to the Works of J. V. Stalin, in: 'Works', Volume 11; Moscow;
1952; p. xiii-xiv).
3) that Stalin was demoted in October 1952, well before his death,
from the leading post of General Secretary of the Central Committee to
that of one of several secretaries:
'After the 11th Party Congress, on April 3 1922 the Plenum of the Central
Committee, on V. I. Lenin's motion, elected Stalin as the Secretary-General
of the Central Commitee of the Party; Stalin served in this post until
October 1952, and from then until the end of his life he was Secretary
of the Central Committee'.
('Entsiklopedichesky Slovar'(Encyclopedic Dictionary), Volume 3; Moscow;
1955; p., 310). (in 'COMpass', No. 116 (January 1995); p. 3).
" . . . the majority of the leaders were either revisionist conspirators
or people who from time to time be persuaded to support revisionist policies"
these facts complete sense.
('COMpass', No. 116 (January 1195); p. 3).
But if this hypothesis is, as you maintain, 'fiction',
then these actions must have been taken with Stalin's approval and
it follows inescapably that towards the end of his life Stalin had come
to the conclusion that his work was not worth publication and that he
himself was not fit to be leader of the Soviet Union!
I suggest that it is to avoid drawing this conclusion
that you have felt compelled to repudiate rationality altogether and embrace
the irrationality of capitalism in decay.
I know that the pressures on a Marxist-Leninist in
a bourgeois university are very strong. These pressures are rarely so crude
as openly to be expressed in terms of promotion prospects, but they are
none the less very real. I recall a friend of mine -- economist Ron Meek.
In New Zealand he was a solid member of the CPNZ, and then moved to a higher
post at a British university. We continued in contact and met regularly,
but within a few months he was saying: 'Yes, of course Marx's work was
'of historic importance', but he gave an ‘over-simplified' and 'one-sided'
analysis of capitalist society. Within a few months Meek had left the Party
altogether, But even he never went so far as to reject rationality in favour
of obscurantism and sophistry.
I have no delusions of grandeur, and if any points in
your letter raised the slightest doubt in my mind, I should have been happy
to raise them with the CL and propose corrections of our line and a self-criticism.
I find, however, nothing in your letter, which I feel would justify taking
I am sorry that this letter is so long. The reason
is merely my very great respect for your past record and my sincere concern
that you should appear to be succumbing in an opportunist manner to pressure.
Finally, I thank you for your medical advice. Actually,
I have no intention of dying in the near future and so missing the sumptuous
repast at Hari's funeral! Hardial Bains assures me that his bunions were
completely cured by Sikh mysticism. So, if I can obtain your prescription
on the NHS, I will certainly give it a go -- especially since I hear that
Michael Jackson uses Sabal Serrulata when he runs out of Ecstasy!
With warm fraternal greetings,
W. B. Bland
Ilford, 18 November, (Between 1989-1991-Editor Alliance)
Thank you for your last letter and for the book you
kindly sent me.
I reply here to the points you raise in this and in your last letter.
We have discussed this question in principle, not in
the precise form of 'other backward classes' in which it has arisen in
India, but in relation to racism in general.
We are opposed to positive racial discrimination.
Positive racial discrimination for some - necessarily means negative racial
discrimination for others. We are opposed to all racial discrimination,
and in favour of the principle of appointment, promotion, etc. solely on
merit. Those who support positive discrimination argue that appointment,
promotion, etc., solely on merit is unfair because black people have long
suffered discrimination and therefore cannot compete in general on equal
terms with white people. This is true. But in our view the solution which
must be demanded is the speediest possible equality of opportunity (in
education, etc.) for all. Those who favour positive discrimination argue
that this is a long-term process and that positive discrimination can redress
the unfairness by a stroke of the legislative pen. But in fact it means
that individual white persons who happen to have higher merits are passed
over for appointments, promotion, etc. in favour of black persons with
lower merits as a deliberate process of institutional racism. Clearly this
provides an objective basis for white racist prejudices and stimulates
these prejudices. Many honest people who would be prepared actively to
support policies of combating racial prejudice and inequality of opportunity
are driven into opposition to positive discrimination (whether or not this
discrimination prejudices themselves as individual) because they see that
it is manifestly based upon, and stimulates racial discrimination. That
positive racial discrimination operates precisely in this way appears to
be confirmed by the content of your leaflet, which complains that many
progressive people are resisting it. You say in your leaflet:
"If we succeed in obtaining truly equitable education and the right
to work, reservation will automatically become redundant"
Positive racial discrimination, in our view, does not
speed up this process, but retards it. Our view is not modified but confirmed
by the example you cite of a country where positive racial discrimination
has been adopted -- the United States!
You would, I believe, agree that the right revisionism
which came to dominate the communist movement in West postulates the possibility
of a peaceful transition to socialism through the mechanism of parliament.
Dimitrov's Right Revisionism
Our point is that, under Dimitrov's leadership, the
7th Congress of the CI in 1935 adopted some mistaken, non-Marxist-Leninist
formulations which paved the way for the later triumph of open right revisionism.
You say that Dimitrov does not speak of a People's
Front government through the electoral process. This is true. But he says:
"I am not speaking here of a government which may be formed after the
victory of the proletarian revolution . . . .
Clearly, a progressive People's Front government does
not come into being as the result of a coup, for a coup comes from forces
within and connected to the existing capitalist state, that is, from the
right. And since Dimitrov excludes it coming into being through socialist
revolution, it follows that it is envisaged as coming into being through
the electoral process.
I am . . . speaking . . . of the possible formation of a united front
government . . . before the victory of the Soviet revolution".
(G. Dimitrov: 'The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist
International', in: 'The United Front'; London; 1938; p. 70).
Indeed, in 1936 Dimitrov described the formation
of People's Front governments -- by election! -- in France and Spain in
this year as "the practical realisation" of the People's Front policy:
"The policy of the People's Front has aroused a mighty echo among.
the working masses of all countries. The practical realisation of this
policy in France and Spain has provided clear proof that the People's Front
is actually possible".
You make the point that Dimitrov stresses that the formation
of such People's Front government could only come about at a time of crisis.
But Marxist-Leninist principles do not cease to operate in time of crisis.
(G. Dimitrov: 'The People's Front', in: ibid.; p. 197).
What kind of programme should such a Peop1e’s Front
government carry out?
"It must be a government . . . taking resolute measures against the
counter-revolutionary financial magnates and their fascist agents. . .
. We demand that it should carry out definite and fundamental revolutionary
demands required by the situation. For instance, control of production,
control of the banks, disbanding of the police and its replacement by an
armed workers' militia, etc."
So, our People's Front government, which has been formed
without socialist revolution, will take
(G. Dimitrov: 'The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist
International', in: ibid.; p. 70, 75).
- resolute measures against counter-revolutionary financial magnates;
But such a programme would destroy the basis of capitalist
- carry out fundamental revolutionary demands;
- take control of production;
- take control of the banks;
- replace the police by an armed workers' militia.
It follows that Dimitrov is, in fact, maintaining
-- with the right revisionists -- that the basis of capitalist society
can be destroyed without the need for a socialist revolution, and his talk
about the necessity of a political crisis and for a subsequent socialist
revolution are mere demagogy aimed at concealing the revisionist character
of his programme.
You ask for the evidence that Dimitrov supported
Browderism. I would refer you the article by Philip Jaffe entitled 'The
Rise and Fall of Earl Browder' in 'Survey', Volume 18, No., 2 (Spring 1972).
Jaffe, a long-standing friend of Browder's who had access to his papers,
describes how William Foster (who opposed Browder's 'class peace' formulation
but supported the liquidation of the CPUSA) wrote to Dimitrov seek his
support against Browder:
"Shortly thereafter Dimitrov transmitted a message to Foster, through
Browder, strongly urging him to withdraw his opposition. Dimitrov's reply
was a severe blow to Foster, who did not attack Browder's Teheran theses
again for more than a year".
I note that you do not accept that the Albanian Party
of Labour is following a revisionist course.
(P. J. Jaffe: 'The Rise and Fall of Earl Browder', in: 'Survey', Volume
18, No. 2 (Spring 1972); p. 47, 48).
Naturally, I find this consistent with the fact that you have not got
round to analysing the class basis of the Indian social system, with your
support of Dimitrov's revisionism, with your support of racial discrimination,
and so on.
I have passed on your order for the Ramiz Alia pamphlets
to the Albanian Shop. I cannot help with Albanian videos, but suggest you
write to the Secretary of the Albanian Society if and when one is elected.
Norberto Steinmayr visited Albania after taking over as Secretary and was
ao appalled at the revisionist degeneration that he resigned at once.
Memorial Interview with Communist League;
Within the MLOB