Joseph Stalin: The Fascist Dictator Who Betrayed Communism
Joseph Stalin set Communism on a path toward Fascism. His “socialism in one country” belief essentially betrayed the Communism originally advocated by Karl Marx.
Recall what we discussed in my previous article: We established that Communism is not a permanent political ideology that can be used to describe a regime. Rather, Communism is merely a specific type of revolution. After a Communism Revolution, the regime essentially becomes Fascist. We distinguished Communism and Fascism by explaining that Communism views society by class, whereas Fascism views society by nations. This distinction is the underlying reasoning for why Communism is a path toward Fascism. Here is the link to the article: https://medium.com/@arthurtruth0716/china-communism-or-fascism-why-communism-is-merely-a-path-toward-fascism-ca0dd1640f05?sk=5f7a9b70da4053f008e5e9ce015d1e89
We have looked at examples of Communism leading to Fascism in history in my previous article, whether it is in China or the Soviet Union. But how exactly did Communism turn into Fascism? What was the turning point in history that sealed the fate of Communism as the antechamber of Fascism? It was Stalin’s rise to power to become the absolute leader of the Soviet Union in the 1920s.
After de facto leader Vladimir Lenin’s death in 1924, an intense and subtle power struggle began within the Russian Communist Party. Although all party members believed in Communist ideals, they had different beliefs and different directions for the Soviet Union. Leon Trotsky, a popular figure within the party and the head of the Red Army, was at the forefront of the power struggle. Most party members believed Trotsky would take over Lenin as the leader of the party. Trotsky’s beliefs, known collectively as Trotskyism, argued for permanent revolution, meaning after completing the Communist Revolution in Russia, the Bolsheviks must spread Communism to other parts of the world as well. So Communist Revolutions would be “permanent” and happen throughout the world. Joseph Stalin, albeit not a popular figure within the party, eventually emerged victorious in the power struggle. Stalin set forth his ideal of “socialism in one country” after consolidating power as the absolute dictator. “Socialism in one country” essentially proposed that the Soviet Union should focus on strengthening itself internally to become an international power, through rapid industrialization, rather than propelling Communism in other countries. Stalin’s “socialism in one country” belief is a direct contrast to Trotsky’s belief of permanent revolution.
As we have established, the key distinction between Communism and Fascism is that Communism views society by class, whereas Fascism views society by nations. Based on this distinction, Trotskyism would be considered as very close to the Communism argued by Karl Marx. The idea of permanent revolution is that proletarians (workers) around the world should unite together to overthrow capitalism and the bourgeoises. This idea classifies the world by class, more specifically, between the proletarians and the bourgeoises. On the other hand, Stalin’s “socialism in one country” belief classifies the world by nations. Stalin wanted to transform Russia from a feudal backward country into an industrialized international power. From this perspective, Stalinism is essentially Fascism under a Communst cloak. Stalin’s transformation of Russia into an industrialized nation in the 1920s and the 1930s is no different from Hitler’s transformation of the unstable Weimar Republic into the prosperous Nazi Germany. Both dictators built their respective nation into an international power. Well, if we want to look at this from a closer perspective, then the methods Stalin and Hiter transformed their countries would be very different. Hitler’s methods were based on Fascist ideals. While Stalin’s methods were based on Communist ideals. But overall, both dictators transformed their countries into an international power. For example, Stalin’s Five-Year Plans collectivized agriculture and promoted rapid industrialization. The plans intensified class struggle by eliminating capitalist elements, and transformed many peasants into workers. Although Stalinism implemented Communism within Russia, it is still more Fascist when you analyze it from a global perspective (since the Communism argued by Karl Marx pushes for world class revolution). Stalinism’s ultimate goal was to strengthen Russia economically to become an international power. This goal is viewing the world by nations, not class. Stalinism does not want to strengthen the proletarians to compete against the bourgeoises. Rather, Stalinism wants to strengthen Russia to compete against other nations. This is why Stalinism is essentially Fascism under a Communist cloak.
On the other hand, Trotsky’s idea of permanent revolution would have carried on the “true” Communism as argued by Karl Marx. However, Trotsky was not the one who became the de facto leader of the Soviet Union, so the world never saw Trotskyism being implemented. Theoretically speaking, if Trotsky took power instead of Stalin and successfully implemented Communism in Russia, Trotsky would begin to organize Communist Parties in Europe to take power in their respective countries.
So what did Stalin do after transforming feudal Russia into an industrialized international power? As we have discussed in my previous article, after Stalin completed the Communist Revolution in Russia, Stalin essentially established a Fascist regime. From now on, Stalin stopped worrying about changing the socioeconomic structure internally, and began to focus on the global state in the late 1930s, right before WWII. Yes, Stalin began to view society through the lens of nations from this point and forward.
Just like Fascist dictators Hitler and Mussolini, Stalin also had great desire to extend his country’s influence abroad. On August 22, 1939, Stalin agreed to sign a 10 years non-aggression pact with Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Hitler proposed the pact to Stalin because he desperately wanted to invade Poland, but doing so would trigger a war with France, Britain, and the Soviet Union. France and Britain had their own alliance with Poland, stating that if Poland were to be invaded by Germany, they would declare war on Germany. Poland is the only buffer state between Germany and the Soviet Union, so if Germany were to invade Poland, Stalin would have been alarmed for sure. Hitler did not want to make the same mistake Germany did in WWI: fighting on both the western front and the eastern front. So Hitler proposed the non-aggression pact to Stalin, stating that Germany and the Soviet Union would conquer Poland together. Finally, the proposal contained a secret protocol specifying the spheres of influence in Eastern Europe both parties would accept after Hitler conquered Poland. The Soviet Union would acquire the eastern half of Poland, along with Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. As can be figured from his decision to sign the pact, Stalin clearly wanted to extend Soviet Union’s influence and power. Stalin wanted to continue building Soviet Union into an international power. Is conquering foreign nations a part of Communism? NO! Communism is about uniting the proletarians to conquer the bourgeoises! Communism is a class war, not a nation war. Conquering foreign nations is more Fascist wouldn’t you say? A key component of Fascism is unity within a nation in order to build nation glory through military conquest. Continuing to extend his influence over Eastern Europe, Stalin launched an invasion of Finland on November 30, 1939, in what came to be known as the Winter War. The treaty ending the Winter War forced Finland to cede 11 percent of its territory to the Soviet Union. During the WWII period, Hitler and Mussolini weren’t the only dictators looking to expand their influence. Stalin was another.
Even though Stalin eventually allied with Britain and the United States after Hitler broke the non-aggression pact, his original intention was not to maintain peace and international stability. Just like Hitler and Mussolini, Stalin also wanted to exert his influence abroad and expand his country. However, people often think it was only Hitler and Mussolini, since they happen to be the losers of WWII. Well, losers always take the blame in history. Stalin just happened to be a victor.
After the defeat of the Axis powers, Stalin’s desire to expand his influence was shown even more clearly. Stalin took over almost the entire Eastern Europe and East Germany to establish them as satellite states of the Soviet Union. As tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union grew, the Cold War began. Hmmm…a war with Communist Soviet Union participating? It must be the class war Karl Marx argued for right? Is Trotsky’s permanent revolution finally happening? NO! The Cold War was not a class war. It was a large-scale global conflict that involved multiple nations, with the United States and the Soviet Union leading the charge. The Cold War was a war of nations, not classes. During this time period, Stalin was increasingly viewing the world by nations, much like Fascism. Some people say the Cold War was a conflict between Capitalism and Communism. This is not true. The Soviet Union was looking to extend its influence in the world, not starting class wars. Others say the Cold War was a conflict between freedom and authoritarianism. Well, this is true to a certain extent and from a certain perspective. However, the United States was not so strict on protecting freedom. During the Cold War, the United States intervened in numerous foreign elections to prevent the spread of Soviet influence. The United States also established and supported dictators in foreign countries, because those dictators were not allied with the Soviet Union. Rather, the Cold War was a conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was a power struggle between the two most powerful nations on Earth. See how this conflict illustrates the Fascist view of classifying the world by nations?
Stalin’s “socialism in one country” belief in Russia set up a precedent to future Communist Revolutions. Future Communist Revolutions such as the one in China followed Stalin’s “socialism in one country” belief. Those Communist Revolutions went through the same process as Russia did: First overthrow the status quo, then establish Communist economic policies, then rebuild the nation into an international power, and finally, become a Fascist regime. This is why the power struggle within the Russian Communist Party after Lenin’s death was very crucial in history. It essentially determined the fate of Communism. Stalin’s victory in that power struggle set Communism on a path toward Fascism. His “socialism in one country” belief is essentially Fascism. The belief is still viewing the world by nations, not class. The ultimate goal of “socialism in one country” is actually to strengthen the “country”, not to create a classless society. Hence, “socialism in one country” is essentially Fascism under a Communist cloak.