What are the effects of Stalin’s Doctrine of socialism on Marxist Theory ?

The doctrine of socialism in one country had several effects on economic and political theory, which may be enumerated as follow :

1. World Revolution :

Since 1924, under Stalin Russia followed the policy of socialism in one country. However, through the Comintern, Russia played an important role in promoting international revolutionary movements. But such movements were staged or called off depending on whether they further Soviet Policy and with little regard to the fate of those responsible for them. There was a justification for such a policy. In as much as practical socialism was operating only in the Soviet Union’ it was argued that Soviet interests must be protected at any cost. Stalin believed that only a strong Russia could promote world revolution. World revolution was impossible without the Soviet base.

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Communist parties io all countries had to offer their first loyalty to the Soviet Union as “the only fatherland of the world proletariat”. Stalin was the acknow­ledged leader of the international Communist movement. Stalin was the Pope of all the Communists. Moscow was their Vatican. This led to the emergence of a new type of imperialism—Communist imperialism. It led to the exploitation of smaller and weaker countries. Between 1948 and 1952 a number of bloody purges and executions took place in the satellite countries. The fate of Hungary, Romania, Poland, etc., testify to this approach.

2. The State :


Marx had predicted that the proletariat revolution would follow industrialization. Because in the revolution the factory workers or the proletariat arc to play a catalyst role, Lenin also agreed to this thesis. Industrialization was necessary to forge Russia into a strong nation, as well as to create a proletariat which would actively support the regime. Stalin went a step further. Stalin held that to enable Russia to assume the leadership of the world communist movement, it was necessary to accelerate the pace of industrialization. It necessitated an intensification of the power of the state.

In 1930 Stalin said “we stand for the withering away of the state. At the same time we stand for the strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat which represents the most powerful and mighty authority of all forms of the state, which have existed up to the present day.” Thus, Lenin made a departure from the orthodox position.

According to Marx and Lenin, the state was a temporary pheno­menon. The state, whether Russian or otherwise, was a necessary transi­ent evil. Stalin on the other hand held the Soviet State to be of a special type. It was not a servant of a particular section of the society. The Russian state was in charge of protecting the society ” From capitalist encirclement and guiding it into higher phase of Communism.” Thus even if full communism was established in Russia, the state could not wither away. Rather the state should be made as strong and powerful as possi­ble. The 1936 Stalinist constitution reaffirmed the sovereign and omnipotent powers of the State.

3. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the role of the party :

According to Lenin the Bolshevik revolution introduced the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is not equivalent to party dictatorship. Besides the party there are other organisations such as, the Trade Union, the Soviets and the League of the Soviet Youth which act as “transmission belts”. These are also indispensable to the dictatorship of the proletariat. The party was to act as a guiding force. The state power was to be exercised through the Soviet apparatus.


But in practice under Stalin, dictatorship of the proletariat lost its meaning. In its place emerged a dictatorship of the party. The Soviets merely provided the formal structure. The base of the party narrowed more and more. Any expansion of the base of the party through in­creased membership was considered to be idiotic by Stalin. Not only that, workers representation in the party gradually diminished. The prole­tarian character of the party substantially changed. The party was converted into a centralized bureaucracy with unlimited power.

4. The Collectivization of Agriculture :

Lenin had forged a grand alliance between the industrial workers and small peasantry, for the success of the revolution. Lenin did not intend to introduce sudden collectivization. Collectivization of the peasants, he believed, was the work of generations. The peasants were not to be coerced into collecti­vization. But Stalin held that in spite of this alliance, the proletariat should not share power with the peasantry. The industrial workers were capable of leading the entire mass of toilers. This belief and the rapid industrialization led Stalin to embark on the policy of collectivization in 1929. As the class of industrial workers was growing in size and the peasants were reluctant to hand over their produce for money to the state, Stalin forced the peasants into collective bargaining. The Kulaks were exterminated. The peasants were ruthlessly suppressed.

5. Nationalism; Marx and Engels were internationalists :

Lenin was preoccupied solely with the task of guiding the Bolshevik revolution at home. Still Lenin was international to the core. He had spent many years in Europe. There was hardly any national bias in his writing. He never suffered from any complex of Russian superiority. He was more humble. But Stalin was a staunch nationalist. The revival of Russian-nationalism reached its zenith during the second world war.

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