[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
The New York Times. 27 June 1931
STALINISM’S MARK IS PARTY DISCIPLINE
Bar of Steel Rules Russia With Absolutism Because of Need for One Policy.
EXPULSION IS FINAL WEAPON
Marxism Is Adapted by Strong Hand for Grim Job in a Fermenting Society.
CHURCH PARALLEL IS SEEN
Communism Established as “State Religion.” Giving Strength Like Constantine Act.
This is the eleventh of a series of articles on Russia today by The New York Times Moscow correspondent, who is at present in Paris.
By WALTER DURANTY.
Special Cable to The New York Times.
PARIS. June 26.—The characteristic of Stalinism that marks the continuing curve of progress, from alien Marxism through semi-alien. Semi-Russian Leninism toward something not yet attained, is that the Russian still is stiffening Communist party discipline.
It is modified, as shown in a previous dispatch by “self criticism,” but is centralized and administered with military rigidity. No excuse or evasion of party orders is permitted, and infractions of discipline are punished by a reprimand, or, if repeated, by expulsion from the party.
Of this, Joseph Stalin himself, only five years ago speaking in behalf of Leon Trotsky, when Leonid Kamenef and Gregory Zinovief urged his expulsion, said:
“Expulsion is a final and fatal weapon to be employed only in a hopeless case.”
Today party members, even the highest placed—or the lowest placed and youngest, which is perhaps even more important—must give full obedience or take the consequences. Much water ha run under Bolshevist bridges since December, 1925, and profoundly have time and circumstances modified earlier conceptions.
Marxism was a theory, clear-cut enough in its fundamentals—which, be it always remembered, Stalinism retains almost without amendment but necessarily vague as to practice and application.
Leninism for Debating Once.
Leninism—anyway, at the outset, as the records show—was a sort of debating society where a small group of devoted comrades discussed policies sometimes wasting time and energy in discussion with freedom and equality.
Stalinism is an imperial sceptre, not decked with the golden orb and cross and the Orloff diamond of Czarist rule but a bar of polished steel.
Stalin’s opponents accuse him of absolutism, and it is true and false. Absolutism there is—not that Stalin wants it for his ambition or vain-glory but because the circumstances and Russia demand it; because there is no more time for argument or discussion or even freedom in the Western sense, for which Russia cares nothing, because, in short, a house divided against itself cannot stand in an hour of stress.
Outsiders may write nonsense about Stalin’s egoism and the purely personal quality of the struggle for power” between him and Trotsky or Alexei Rykoff or Zinovieff. Personal elements do and must enter all human relations, but in default of familiarity with the new Russia these critics might study the early history of the Christian Church, which was wracked and torn far worse by “ideological controversy,’’ as the Bolsheviki call it, than by the rivalries of leaders which came after the councils of Nicea “set” or crystallized doctrinal confusion.
The parallel is sharper and closer that either Christians or Bolsheviki would care to admit. Christianity was a product of transcendent Jewish idealism, aimed at redressing in equality between man and man and establishing true human brotherhood and happiness. Marxism also.
Changes Are Similar.
The Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the State religion under an absolute ruler whose changed. Lenin made Marxism the State religion of Russia, with a change no less inevitable.
Christianity was further transmuted by contact with the Nordic nations of Europe, by their adaptation of it to suit their separate “volkgeists.” So now Russia, with its ancient Asiatic craving for mass actio nunde ran absolute ruler whose word is the law, and the prophets, changes Marxism further into some thing grim and Russian over which orthodox Marxists abroad wring their hands and the Western world cries “slavery and terror.”
Stalin didn’t do it-if the truth were known it was perhaps done despite him—but Russia did it, is doing it and will go on doing it what ever happens. Russia is not static the way Western society is static, but is fizzing and bubbling and fermenting—not fixed but fluid—and moving.
The Union of Socialist Soviet Republics is today really a “melting pot” to a degree that America, whose problem was absorption of alien minorities into an already defined social system could never be.
To call the present phase Stalinism, as your correspondent has done for convenience, means nothing more than a label, because nations are bigger than men and facts of life outweigh theories of conduct. In this state of flux the rule of the Communist party is a unique guide and pole star—or, more properly, a compass, because the party, like a compass itself, is sensitive to deviation.
© The New York Times. 1931. N.B. The executive editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, told The Washington Post on October 23 2003, that the newspaper would have no objection if the Pulitzer Prize Board wanted to revoke Mr. Duranty's award. Mr. Keller called Mr. Duranty's work "pretty dreadful. ... It was a parroting of propaganda." It will be taken as read that no royalties are due on this un-authorised reproduction of this article As such they are also perceived, as having no truthful value whatsoever, are only reproduced for academic and educational purposes, not intended to defraud The New York Times of any morally legitimate royalty revenue and are published without financial gain. In any event, the copyright for the above may well only reside, 70 years after its publication with the heirs of Walter Duranty, and with whom we have no personal animosity whatsoever. Nevertheless, any contention of copyright violation may by taken up under the jurisdiction of English Law. My service address for any legal correspondence is: Nigel Linsan Colley, 1, Crown Street, Newark, Nottinghamshire, England, NG24 4UY. Any prosecution will, you can be assured, be defended in the public domain.
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