collection of quotations

arranged by Wolfgang Eggers

February 1, 2015


Stalin: "The Russian Social-Democratic Party and its Immediate Tasks" - November-December 1901


The working class is not the only class that is groaning under the yoke of the tsarist regime.

Groaning are the many millions of Russian non-conformists who wish to believe and worship in accordance with the dictates of their conscience and not with the wishes of the orthodox priests.

But the demands of the students for freedom of education, for non-interference in internal university life, are too narrow for :the broad social movement. To unite all the participants in this movement a banner is needed, a banner that will be understood and cherished by all and will combine all demands. Such a banner is one inscribed: Overthrow the autocracy. Only on the ruins of the autocracy will it be possible to build a social system that will be based on government by the people and ensure freedom of education,freedom to strike, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom for nationalities, etc., etc. Only such a system will provide the people with means to protect themselves against all oppressors, against the grasping merchants and capitalists, the clergy and the nobility; only such a system will open a free road to a better future, to the unhindered struggle for the establishment of the socialist system.



J. V. Stalin: "The Provisional Revolutionary Government and Social-Democracy" - August 15, 1905


What must the provisional government do?

It must organise peasant committees which will settle the land question in the countryside. It must also disestablish the church and secularise education. . . .




J. V. Stalin: "Two Clashes" (Concerning January 9) - January 7, 1906

In discussing the January clash we said that it lacked revolutionary consciousness; as regards the December clash we must say that this consciousness existed. Eleven months of revolutionary storm had sufficiently opened the eyes of the militant proletariat of Russia, and the slogans: Down with the autocracy! Long live the democratic republic! became the slogans of the day, the slogans of the masses. This time you saw no church banners, no icons, no portraits of the tsar—instead, red flags fluttered and portraits of Marx and Engels were carried. This time you heard no singing of psalms or of "God Save the Tsar"—instead, the strains of the Marseillaise and the Varshavyanka deafened the tyrants.

Thus, in respect to revolutionary consciousness, the December clash differed radically from the January clash.

The January uprising was "led" mainly by the Gapons. In this respect the December uprising had the advantage in that the Social-Democrats were at the head of it.

In short, a united party, an uprising organised by the Party, and a policy of offensive — this is what we need today to achieve the victory of the uprising.



J. V. Stalin: "Anarchism Or Socialism ?" December, 1906 — January, 1907


How do the Anarchists look upon the dialectical method?

In the opinion of the Anarchists, "dialectics is metaphysics," and as they "want to free science from metaphysics, philosophy from theology," they repudiate the dialectical method (see Nobati, Nos. 3 and 9. Sh. G. See also Kropotkin's Science and Anarchism).

Metaphysics recognises various nebulous dogmas, such as, for example, the "unknowable," the "thing-in-itself," and, in the long run, passes into empty theology. In contrast to Proudhon and Spencer, Engels combated these dogmas with the aid of the dialectical method (see Ludwig Feuerbach); but the Anarchists — the disciples of Proudhon and Spencer — tell us that Proudhon and Spencer were scientists, whereas Marx and Engels were metaphysicians!

One of two things: either the Anarchists are deceiving themselves, or else they do not know what they are talking about.

At all events, it is beyond doubt that the Anarchists confuse Hegel's metaphysical system with his dialectical method.

Needless to say, Hegel's philosophical system, which rests on the immutable idea, is from beginning to end metaphysical. But it is also clear that Hegel's dialectical method, which repudiates all immutable ideas, is from beginning to end scientific and revolutionary.

That is why Karl Marx, who subjected Hegel's metaphysical system to devastating criticism, at the same time praised his dialectical method, which, as Marx said, "lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence critical and revolutionary" (see Capital, Vol. I. Preface).

That is why Engels sees a big difference between Hegel's method and his system. "Whoever placed the chief emphasis on the Hegelian system could be fairly conservative in both spheres; whoever regarded the dialectical method as the main thing could belong to the most extreme opposition, both in politics and religion" (see Ludwig Feuerbach).

The Anarchists fail to see this difference and thoughtlessly maintain that "dialectics is metaphysics."

What is the materialist theory?

Some people say that "nature" and "social life" were preceded by the universal idea, which subsequently served as the basis of their development, so that the development of the phenomena of "nature" and of "social life" is, so to speak, the external form, merely the expression of the development of the universal idea.

Such, for example, was the doctrine of the idealists, who in the course of time split up into several trends.

Others say that from the very beginning there have existed in the world two mutually negating forces — idea and matter, consciousness and being, and that correspondingly, phenomena also fall into two cate-gories — the ideal and the material, which negate each other, and contend against each other, so that the development of nature and society is a constant struggle between ideal and material phenomena.

Such, for example, was the doctrine of the dualists, who in the course of time, like the idealists, split up into several trends.

The materialist theory utterly repudiates both dualism and idealism.

A single and indivisible nature expressed in two different forms — material and ideal; a single and indivisible social life expressed in two different forms — material and ideal—that is how we should regard the development of nature and of social life.

Such is the monism of the materialist theory.

At the same time, the materialist theory also repudiates idealism.

It is wrong to think that in its development the ideal side, and consciousness in general, precedes the development of the material side. Socalled external "non-living" nature existed before there were any living beings.

It follows, therefore, that the development of the ideal side, the development of consciousness, is preceded by the development of the material side, the development of the external conditions: first the external conditions change, first the material side changes, and then consciousness, the ideal side, changes accordingly.

Thus, the history of the development of nature utterly refutes so-called idealism.

In social life, first the external conditions change, first the conditions of men change and then their consciousness changes accordingly.

In social life, too, first the external conditions change, first the material conditions change, and then the ideas of men, their habits, customs and their world outlook change accordingly.

If the economic conditions change first and the consciousness of men undergoes a corresponding change later, it is clear that we must seek the grounds for a given ideal not in the minds of men, not in their imaginations, but in the development of their economic conditions. Only that ideal is good and acceptable which is based on a study of economic conditions. All those ideals which ignore economic conditions and are not based upon their development are useless and unacceptable.

Such is the first practical conclusion to be drawn from the materialist theory.

If the consciousness of men, their habits and customs, are determined by external conditions, if the unsuitability of legal and political forms rests on an economic content, it is clear that we must help to bring about a radical change in economic relations in order, with this change, to bring about a radical change in the habits and customs of the people, and in their political system.

Such is the second practical conclusion to be drawn from the materialist theory.

What is the anarchist view of the materialist theory of Marx and Engels?

The Anarchists tell us with great aplomb that "Feuerbach was a pantheist . . ." that he "deified man . . ." (see Nobati, No. 7. D. Delendi), that "in Feuerbach's opinion man is what he eats . . ." alleging that from this Marx drew the following conclusion: "Consequently, the main and primary thing is economic conditions . . ." (see Nobati, No. 6, Sh. G.).

True, nobody has any doubts about Feuerbach's pantheism, his deification of man, and other errors of his of the same kind. On the contrary, Marx and Engels were the first to reveal Feuerbach's errors. Nevertheless, the Anarchists deem it necessary once again to "expose" the already exposed errors. Why? Probably because, in reviling Feuerbach, they want indirectly to discredit the materialist theory of Marx and Engels. Of course, if we examine the subject impartially we shall certainly find that in addition to erroneous ideas, Feuerbach gave utterance to correct ideas, as has been the case with many scholars in history. Nevertheless, the Anarchists go on "exposing." . . .

We say again that by tricks of this kind they prove nothing but their own ignorance. It is interesting to note (as we shall see later on) that the Anarchists took it into their heads to criticise the materialist theory from hearsay, without any acquaintance with it.

It appears that they are ignorant of the fact that there are various kinds of materialism in science which differ a great deal from each other: there is, for example, vulgar materialism, which denies the importance of the ideal side and the effect it has upon the material side; but there is also so-called monistic materialism—the materialist theory of Marx—which scientifically examines the interrelation between the ideal and the material sides. But the Anarchists confuse these different kinds of materialism, fail to see even the obvious differences between them, and at the same time affirm with great aplomb that they are regenerating science!

Where, when, on which planet, and which Marx did you hear say that "eating determines ideology"? Why did you not cite a single sentence, a single word from the works of Marx to back your assertion? True, Marx said that the economic conditions of men determine their consciousness, their ideology, but who told you that eating and economic conditions are the same thing? Don't you really know that physiological phenomena, such as eating, for example, differ fundamentally from sociological phenomena, such as the economic conditions of men, for example? One can forgive a schoolgirl, say, for confusing these two different phenomena; but how is it that you, the "vanquishers of Social-Democracy," "regenerators of science," so carelessly repeat the mistake of a schoolgirl?

How, indeed, can eating determine social ideology? Ponder over what you yourselves have said: eating, the form of eating, does not change; in ancient times people ate, masticated and digested their food in the same way as they do now, but ideology changes all the time. Ancient, feudal, bourgeois and proletarian — such are the forms of ideology. Is it conceivable that that which does not change can determine that which is constantly changing?

Fourthly, when did Marx depict "human striving and will as a utopia and an illusion"? True, Marx explained "human striving and will" by economic development, and when the strivings of certain armchair philosophers failed to harmonise with economic conditions he called them utopian. But does this mean that Marx believed that human striving in general is utopian? Does this, too, really need explanation? Have you really not read Marx's statement that: "mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve" (see Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy), i.e., that, generally speaking, mankind does not pursue utopian aims? Clearly, either our "critic" does not know what he is talking about, or he is deliberately distorting the facts.

Fifthly, who told you that in the opinion of Marx and Engels "human striving and will are of no importance"? Why do you not point to the place where they say that? Does not Marx speak of the importance of "striving and will" in his Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, in his Class Struggles in France, in his Civil War in France, and in other pamphlets of the same kind? Why then did Marx try to develop the proletarians' "will and striving" in the socialist spirit, why did he conduct propaganda among them if he attached no importance to "striving and will"? Or, what did Engels talk about in his well-known articles of 1891-94 if not the "importance of will and striving"? True, in Marx's opinion human "will and striving" acquire their content from economic conditions, but does that mean that they themselves exert no influence on the development of economic relations? Is it really so difficult for the Anarchists to understand such a simple idea?



J. V. Stalin: "Party News" - August 2, 1909


4) So-called "god-building" as a literary trend and, in general, the introduction of religious elements into socialism is the result of an interpretation of the principles of Marxism that is unscientific and therefore harmful for the proletariat. The Baku Committee emphasises that Marxism took shape and developed into a definite world outlook not as the result of an alliance with religious elements, but as the result of an implacable struggle against them.



J. V. Stalin: "Long Live the First of May !" April 1912


"We do not worship the golden calf!" We do not want the kingdom of the bourgeoisie and the oppressors! Damnation and death to capitalism and its horrors of poverty and bloodshed! Long live the kingdom of labour, long live socialism!

Look around! Does long-suffering Russia resemble a "renovated," "well-governed" country?

Instead of improvement and purification of morals —incredible dissoluteness in the monasteries, those citadels of official morality!




"On the Road to Nationalism"

(A Letter From the Caucasus) - January 12 (25), 1913


Or the phrase stating that "such an interpretation of the clause of the Party programme which recognises the right of every nationality to self-determination does not contradict the precise meaning of the programme." Just think! The clause in the programme referred to (Clause 9), speaks of freedom of nationalities, of the right of nationalities to develop freely, of the Party's duty to combat all violence against them. Speaking generally, the right of nationalities, within the meaning of that clause, must not be restricted, it may be extended to autonomy and federation, as well as to secession. But does this mean that it is a matter of indifference to the Party, that it is all the same to it, how a given nationality decides its destiny, whether in favour of centralism or of secession? Does it mean that on the basis of the abstract right of nationalities alone it is possible "while expressing no opinion on the merits of this demand," to recommend, even indirectly, autonomy for some, federation for others, and secession for still others? A nationality decides its destiny, but does that mean that the Party must not influence the will of a nationality towards a decision most in accordance with the interests of the proletariat? The Party stands for freedom of conscience, for the right of people to practise any religion they please. Does this mean that the Party will stand for Catholicism in Poland, for the Orthodox Church in Georgia and for the Gregorian Church in Armenia? That it will not combat these forms of world outlook? . . . And is it not self-evident that Clause 9 of the Party programme and cultural-national autonomy are on two entirely different planes that are as capable of "contradicting" each other as, say, Cheops' pyramid and the notorious Liquidators' conference?

The Caucasian Liquidators' turn towards nationalism is no accident. They began to liquidate the traditions of the Party long ago. The deletion of the "social section" from the minimum programme, the repudiation of the "hegemony of the proletariat" (see Diskussionny Listok, No. 2 ), the declaration that the illegal Party is an auxiliary organisation of the legal organisations (see Dnevnik, No. 9 )—all these are commonly known facts. Now the turn has come for the national question.

J. V. Stalin: "Marxism and the National Question" - January 1913


And the mounting wave of militant nationalism above and the series of repressive measures taken by the "powers that be" in vengeance on the border regions for their "love of freedom," evoked an answering wave of nationalism below, which at times took the form of crude chauvinism. The spread of Zionism among the Jews, the increase of chauvinism in Poland, Pan-Islamism among the Tatars, the spread of nationalism among the Armenians, Georgians and Ukrainians, the general swing of the philistine towards anti-Semitism – all these are generally known facts.

The wave of nationalism swept onwards with increasing force, threatening to engulf the mass of the workers. And the more the movement for emancipation declined, the more plentifully nationalism pushed forth its blossoms.

At this difficult time Social-Democracy had a high mission – to resist nationalism and to protect the masses from the general "epidemic." For Social-Democracy, and Social-Democracy alone, could do this, by countering nationalism with the tried weapon of internationalism, with the unity and indivisibility of the class struggle.

The Bund, which had previously laid stress on the common tasks, now began to give prominence to its own specific, purely nationalist aims: it went to the length of declaring "observance of the Sabbath" and "recognition of Yiddish" a fighting issue in its election campaign.

Social-Democracy strives to secure for all nations the right to use their own language. But that does not satisfy the Bund; it demands that "the rights of the Jewish language" (our italics – J. St.) be championed with "exceptional persistence," and the Bund itself in the elections to the Fourth Duma declared that it would give "preference to those of them (i.e., electors) who undertake to defend the rights of the Jewish language."

Not the general right of all nations to use their own language, but the particular right of the Jewish language, Yiddish! Let the workers of the various nationalities fight primarily for their own language: the Jews for Jewish, the Georgians for Georgian, and so forth. The struggle for the general right of all nations is a secondary matter. You do not have to recognize the right of all oppressed nationalities to use their own language; but if you have recognized the right of Yiddish, know that the Bund will vote for you, the Bund will "prefer" you.

But in what way then does the Bund differ from the bourgeois nationalists?

Comrade Plekhanov was right a thousand times over when he said that the Bund "is adapting socialism to nationalism."

Disorganization of the labour movement, demoralization of the Social-Democratic ranks – that is what the federalism of the Bund leads to.


The programme of the Social-Democrats contains a clause on freedom of religion. According to this clause any group of persons have the right to profess any religion they please: Catholicism, the religion of the Orthodox Church, etc. Social-Democrats will combat all forms of religious persecution, be it of members of the Orthodox Church, Catholics or Protestants. Does this mean that Catholicism, Protestantism, etc., "do not contradict the precise meaning" of the programme? No, it does not. Social-Democrats will always protest against persecution of Catholicism or Protestantism; they will always defend the right of nations to profess any religion they please; but at the same time, on the basis of a correct understanding of the interests of the proletariat, they will carry on agitation against Catholicism, Protestantism and the religion of the Orthodox Church in order to achieve the triumph of the socialist world outlook.

And they will do so just because there is no doubt that Protestantism, Catholicism, the religion of the Orthodox Church, etc., "contradict the precise meaning" of the programme, i.e., the correctly understood interests of the proletariat.

One thing or the other: either the federalism of the Bund, in which case the Russian Social-Democratic Party must re-form itself on a basis of "demarcation" of the workers according to nationalities; or an international type of organization, in which case the Bund must reform itself on a basis of territorial autonomy after the pattern of the Caucasian, Lettish and Polish Social-Democracies, and thus make possible the direct union of the Jewish workers with the workers of the other nationalities of Russia.

There is no middle course: principles triumph, they do not "compromise."

Thus, the principle of international solidarity of the workers is an essential element in the solution of the national question.


J. V. Stalin: "Abolition of National Disabilities" - March 25, 1917

Religious and national persecution, forcible Russification of the "alien" peoples, suppression of national-cultural institutions, denial of the franchise, denial of liberty of movement, incitement of nationality against nationality, pogroms and massacres — such was the national oppression of shameful memory.

How can national oppression be eliminated?

The social basis of national oppression, the force which animates it, is the obsolescent landed aristocracy. And the nearer the latter is to power and the firmer it grasps it, the more severe is national oppression and the more revolting are its forms.

In the old Russia, when the old feudal landed aristocracy was in power, national oppression operated to the limit, not infrequently taking the form of pogroms (of Jews) and massacres (Armenian-Tatar).

Spurred by the growth of the revolution, the Provisional Government was bound to take this first step towards the emancipation of the peoples of Russia; and it did take it.

The decree amounts in general substance to the abolition of restrictions on the rights of citizens of non-Russian nationality and not belonging to the Orthodox Church


J. V. Stalin: "The Policy of the Soviet Government on the National Question in Russia" - October 10, 1920


A no less serious obstacle to the realization of Soviet autonomy is the haste, often becoming gross tactlessness, displayed by certain comrades in the matter of sovietiz-ing the border regions. When such comrades venture to take upon themselves the "heroic task" of introducing "pure communism" in regions which are a whole historical period behind central Russia, regions where the medieval order has not yet been wholly abolished, one may safely say that no good will come of such cavalry raids, of "communism" of this kind. We should like to remind these comrades of the point in our programme which says:

"The R.C.P. upholds the historical and class standpoint, giving consideration to the stage of historical development in which the given nation finds itself—whether it is on the way from medievalism to bourgeois democracy, or from bourgeois democracy to Soviet, or proletarian, democracy, etc."

And further:

"In any case, the proletariat of those nations which were oppressor nations must exercise particular caution and be particularly heedful of the survivals of national sentiment among the labouring masses of the oppressed or unequal nations" (see Programme of the R.C.P.).

That means that if in Azerbaijan, for instance, the direct method of requisitioning superfluous dwelling space alienates from us the Azerbaijanian masses, who regard the home, the domestic hearth, as sacred and inviolable, it is obvious that the direct way of requisitioning superfluous dwelling space must be replaced by an indirect, roundabout way of achieving the same end. Or if, for instance, the Daghestan masses, who are profoundly imbued with religious prejudices, follow the Communists "on the basis of the Sharia," it is obvious that the direct way of combating religious prejudices in this country must be replaced by indirect and more cautious ways. And so on, and so forth.

In brief, cavalry raids with the object of "immediately communizing" the backward masses must be discarded in favour of a circumspect and carefully considered policy of gradually drawing these masses into the general stream of Soviet development.


J. V. Stalin: "Three years of Proletarian Dictatorship" - Report Delivered at a Celebration Meeting of the Baku Soviet November 6, 1920

Undoubtedly, our path is not of the easiest; but, just as undoubtedly, we are not to be frightened by difficulties. Paraphrasing the well-known words of Luther, [*] Russia might say:

"Here I stand on the border line between the old, capitalist world and the new, socialist world. Here, on this border line, I unite the efforts of the proletarians of the West and of the peasants of the East in order to shatter the old world. May the god of history be my aid!"

Kommunist (Baku), Nos. 157 and 160, November 7 and 11, 1920

[*] From Luther's speech in his defence at the Diet of Worms (1521), where he was called upon by the Catholic Church to recant his teachings (see D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kri-tische Gesammtausgabe. Weimar, 1897, Band 7, S. 838).


J. V. Stalin: "Congress of the Peoples of Daghestan" - November 13, 1920


The Government of Russia gives every people the full right to govern itself on the basis of its laws and customs.

The Soviet Government considers that the Sharia, as common law, is as fully authorized as that of any other of the peoples inhabiting Russia.

If the Daghestan people desire to preserve their laws and customs, they should be preserved.


J. V. Stalin: "Congress of the Peoples of the Terek Region" - November 17, 1920

Each of the peoples—Chechens, Ingushes, Ossetians, Kabardinians, Balkarians, Karachais, and also the Cossacks who remain within the autonomous highland territory—should have its National Soviet to administer the affairs of the given people in accordance with its manner of life and specific features. There is no need to mention the inogorodnie, who were and remain loyal sons of Soviet Russia, and whose interests the Soviet Government will always staunchly defend.

If it is shown that the Sharia is necessary, then let the Sharia remain. The Soviet Government has no thought of declaring war on the Sharia.


J. V. Stalin: "The Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)" - March 8 - 16, 1921

It would be unthinkable and dangerous to transplant to the territories of these nationalities the measures that had force and significance here, in central Russia. Clearly, in applying the economic policy of the R.S.F.S.R., it is absolutely necessary to take into account all the specific features of the economic condition, the class structure and the historical past confronting us in these border regions. There is no need for me to dwell on the necessity of putting an end to such incongruities as, for example, the order issued by the People's Commissariat of Food that pigs be included in the food quotas to be obtained from Kirghizia, the Moslem population of which has never raised pigs. This example shows how obstinately some people refuse to take into account peculiarities of the manner of life which strike the eye of every traveller.


"Fourth Conference of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) with Responsible Workers of the National Republics and Regions"

Firdevs's speech was sheer diplomacy from beginning to end. Who the ideological leader was, whether Sultan-Galiyev led Firdevs, or whether Firdevs led Sultan-Galiyev, is a question I leave open, although I think that ideologically Firdevs led Sultan-Galiyev rather than the other way round. I see nothing particularly reprehensible in Sultan-Galiyev's exercises in theory. If Sultan-Galiyev had confined himself to the ideology of Pan-Turkism and Pan-Islamism it would not have been so bad and I would say that this ideology, inspite of the ban pronounced by the resolution on the national question passed by the Tenth Party Congress, could be regarded as tolerable, and that we could confine ourselves to criticising it within the ranks of our Party. But when exercises in ideology end in establishing contacts with Basmach leaders, with Validov and others, it is utterly impossible to justify Basmach practices here on the ground that the ideology is innocent, as Firdevs tries to do. You can deceive nobody by such a justification of Sultan-Galiyev's activities. In that way it would be possible to find a justification for both imperialism and tsarism, for they too have their ideologies, which sometimes look innocent enough. One cannot reason in that way. You are not facing a tribunal, but a conference of responsible workers, who demand of you straightforwardness and sincerity, not diplomacy.

While the Rights create the danger that by their tendency to yield to nationalism they may hinder the growth of our communist cadres in the border regions, the "Lefts" create the danger for the Party that by their infatuation with an over-simplified and hasty "communism" they may isolate our Party from the peasantry and from broad strata of the local population.

Which of these dangers is the more formidable? If the comrades who are deviating towards the "Left" intend to continue practising in the localities their policy of artificially splitting the population—and this policy has been practised not only in Chechnya and in the Yakut Region, and not only in Turkestan . . . . (Ibrahimov : "They are tactics of differentiation.") Ibrahimov has now thought of substituting the tactics of differentiation for the tactics of splitting, but that changes nothing. If, I say, they intend to continue practising their policy of splitting the population from above; if they think that Russian models can be mechanically transplanted to a specifically national milieu regardless of the manner of life of the inhabitants and of the concrete conditions; if they think that in fighting nationalism everything that is national must be thrown overboard; in short, if the "Left" Communists in the border regions intend to remain incorrigible, I must say that of the two, the "Left" danger may prove to be the more formidable.

Now, under present conditions, we cannot possibly do that, for the Party is now in power, and being in power, the Party needs in the border regions reliable Marxist cadres from among local people who are connected with the broad masses of the population. Now we cannot first of all defeat the Right danger with the help of the "Lefts," as was the case in the history of our Party, and then the "Left" danger with the help of the Rights. Now we have to wage a fight on both fronts simultaneously, striving to defeat both dangers so as to obtain as a result in the border regions trained Marxist cadres of local people connected with the masses. At that time we could speak of cadres who were not yet connected with the broad masses, but who were to become connected with them in the next period of development.



J. V. Stalin: "The Fifth Anniversary of the First Congress of Working Women and Peasant Women" - November 10, 1923

Lastly, the working women and peasant women are mothers; they are rearing our youth—the future of our country. They can either warp a child's soul or rear for us a younger generation that will be of healthy mind and capable of promoting our country's progress, depending upon whether the mothers sympathise with the Soviet system or whether they follow in the wake of the priests, the kulaks, the bourgeoisie.

That is why the political enlightenment of working women and peasant women is now, when the workers and peasants have set to work to build the new life, a matter of paramount importance for the achievement of real victory over the bourgeoisie.


J. V. Stalin: "On The Death Of Lenin" - A Speech Delivered at the Second All-union Congress of Soviets – January 6, 1924

Burdensome and intolerable has been the lot of the working class. Painful and grievous have been the sufferings of the labouring people. Slaves and slaveholders, serfs and serf-owners, peasants and landlords, workers and capitalists, oppressed and oppressors — so the world has been built from time immemorial, and so it remains to this day in the vast majority of countries. Scores and indeed hundreds of times in the course of the centuries the labouring people have striven to throw off the oppressors from their backs and to become the masters of their own destiny. But each time, defeated and disgraced, they have been forced to retreat, harbouring in their breasts resentment and humiliation, anger and despair, and lifting up their eyes to an inscrutable heaven where they hoped to find deliverance. The chains of slavery remained intact, or the old chains were replaced by new ones, equally burdensome and degrading. Ours is the only country where the oppressed and downtrodden labouring masses have succeeded in throwing off the rule of the landlords and capitalists and replacing it by the rule of the workers and peasants. You know, comrades, and the whole world now admits it, that this gigantic struggle was led by Comrade Lenin and his Party. The greatness of Lenin lies above all in this, that by creating the Republic of Soviets he gave a practical demonstration to the oppressed masses of the whole world that hope of deliverance is not lost, that the rule of the landlords and capitalists is short-lived, that the kingdom of labour can be created by the efforts of the labouring people themselves, and that the kingdom of labour must be created not in heaven, but on earth. He thus fired the hearts of the workers and peasants of the whole world with the hope of liberation. That explains why Lenin’s name has become the name most beloved of the labouring and exploited masses.


J. V. Stalin: "The Results of the Thirteen Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)" - June 17, 1924

One of the essential tasks confronting the Party in the epoch of the dictatorship of the proletariat is to re-educate the older generations and educate the new generations in the spirit of the proletarian dictatorship and socialism. The old habits and customs, traditions and prejudices inherited from the old society are most dangerous enemies of socialism. They—these traditions and habits—have a firm grip over millions of working people; at times they engulf whole strata of the proletariat; at times they present a great danger to the very existence of the proletarian dictatorship. That is why the struggle against these traditions and habits, their absolute eradication in all spheres of our activity, and, lastly, the education of the younger generations in the spirit of proletarian socialism, represent immediate tasks for our Party without the accomplishment of which socialism cannot triumph.



J. V. Stalin: "THE PARTY’S IMMEDIATE TASKS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE" - Speech Delivered at a Conference of Secretaries of Rural Party Units, Called by the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) - October 22, 1924


To illustrate how tactlessly the peasants are approached sometimes, a few words must be said about anti-religious propaganda. Occasionally, some comrades are inclined to regard the peasants as materialist philosophers and to think that it is enough to deliver a lecture on natural science to convince the peasant of the nonexistence of God. Often they fail to realise that the peasant looks on God in a practical way, i.e., he is not averse to turning away from God sometimes, but he is often torn by doubt: “Who knows, maybe there is a God after all. Would it not be better to please both the Communists and God, as being safer for my affairs?” He who fails to take this peculiar mentality of the peasant into account totally fails to understand what the relations between Party and non-Party people should be, fails to understand that in matters concerning anti-religious propaganda a careful approach is needed even to the peasant’s prejudices.

J. V. Stalin: "The Active of the Young Communist League in the Countryside" - Speech Delivered at a Meeting of the Organising Bureau of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) - April 6, 1925

Seventhly. The Young Communist League active in the countryside must receive precise instructions concerning the rights and duties of Young Communist Leaguers, concerning the relations between the Young Communist League and the Party, between the Soviets and the Young Communist League. Every Young Communist League activist must regard himself as an assistant of the Party and the Soviet Government in the countryside. High-handed methods in the countryside, disorder during Soviet elections, attempts to usurp the functions of the Party, cooperative and Soviet organisations, and rowdy escapades during so-called anti-religious propaganda — all this must be abandoned and stopped forthwith as something that tarnishes the banner of the Young Communist League and disgraces the name of Young Communist Leaguer. The task is to wage a ruthless struggle against such scandals and to establish proper relations between the Young Communist League and the Soviet and Party bodies.


J.V. Stalin: "The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the East" - Speech Delivered at a Meeting of Students of the Communist University of the Toilers of the East

First Published: Pravda, No. 115, May 22, 1925

But what is national culture? How is it to be reconciled with proletarian culture? Did not Lenin say, already before the war, that there are two cultures — bourgeois and socialist; that the slogan of national culture is a reactionary slogan of the bourgeoisie, who try to poison the minds of the working people with the venom of nationalism? How is the building of national culture, the development of schools and courses in the native languages, and the training of cadres from the local people, to be reconciled with the building of socialism, with the building of proletarian culture? Is there not an irreconcilable contradiction here? Of course not! We are building proletarian culture. That is absolutely true. But it is also true that proletarian culture, which is socialist in content, assumes different forms and modes of expression among the different peoples who are drawn into the building of socialism, depending upon differences in language, manner of life, and so forth. Proletarian in content, national in form-such is the universal culture towards which socialism is proceeding. Proletarian culture does not abolish national culture, it gives it content. On the other hand, national culture does not abolish proletarian culture, it gives it form. The slogan of national culture was a bourgeois slogan as long as the bourgeoisie was in power and the consolidation of nations proceeded under the aegis of the bourgeois order. The slogan of national culture became a proletarian slogan when the proletariat came to power, and when the consolidation of nations began to proceed under the aegis of Soviet power. Whoever fails to understand the fundamental difference between these two situations will never understand either Leninism or the essence of the national question.


J. V. Stalin

Concerning Questions of Leninism

Dedicated to the Leningrad
Organisation of the C.P.S.U.(B.)

January 25, 1926



What does leadership mean when the policy of the Party is correct and the correct relations between the vanguard and the class are not upset?

Leadership under these circumstances means the ability to convince the masses of the correctness of the Party’s policy; the ability to put forward and to carry out such slogans as bring the masses to the Party’s positions and help them to realise through their own experience the correctness of the Party’s policy; the ability to raise the masses to the Party’s level of political consciousness, and thus secure the support of the masses and their readiness for the decisive struggle.

Therefore, the method of persuasion is the principal method of the Party’s leadership of the working class.

“If we, in Russia today,” says Lenin, “after two-and-a-half years of unprecedented victories over the bourgeoisie of Russia and the Entente, were to make ‘recognition of the dictatorship’ a condition of trade-union membership, we should be committing a folly, we should be damaging our influence over the masses, we should be helping the Mensheviks. For the whole task of the Communists is to be able to convince the backward elements, to be able to work among them, and not to fence themselves off from them by artificial and childishly ‘Left’ slogans” (see Vol. XXV, p. 197).

This, of course, must not be understood in the sense that the Party must convince all the workers, down to the last man, and that only after this is it possible to proceed to action, that only after this is it possible to start operations. Not at all! It only means that before entering upon decisive political actions the Party must, by means of prolonged revolutionary work, secure for itself the support of the majority of the masses of the workers, or at least the benevolent neutrality of the majority of the class. Otherwise Lenin’s thesis, that a necessary condition for victorious revolution is that the Party should win over the majority of the working class, would be devoid of all meaning.

Well, and what is to be done with the minority, if it does not wish, if it does not agree voluntarily to submit to the will of the majority? Can the Party, must the Party, enjoying the confidence of the majority, compel the minority to submit to the will of the majority? Yes, it can and it must. Leadership is ensured by the method of persuading the masses, as the principal method by which the Party influences the masses. This, however, does not preclude, but presupposes, the use of coercion, if such coercion is based on confidence in the Party and support for it on the part of the majority of the working class, if it is applied to the minority after the Party has convinced the majority.

It would be well to recall the controversies around this subject that took place in our Party during the discussion on the trade-union question. What was the mistake of the opposition, the mistake of the Tsektran, at that time? Was it that the opposition then considered it possible to resort to coercion? No! It, was not that. The mistake of the opposition at that time was that, being unable to convince the majority of the correctness of its position, having lost the confidence of the majority, it nevertheless began to apply coercion, began to insist on “shaking up” those who enjoyed the confidence of the majority.

Here is what Lenin said at that time, at the Tenth Congress of the Party, in his speech on the trade unions:

“In order to establish mutual relations and mutual confidence between the vanguard of the working class and the masses of the workers, it was necessary, if the Tsektran had made a mistake . . . to correct this mistake. But when people begin to defend this mistake, it becomes a source of political danger. Had not the utmost possible been done in the way of democracy in heeding the moods expressed here by Kutuzov, we would have met with political bankruptcy. First we must convince, and then coerce. We must at all costs first convince, and then coerce. We were not able to convince the broad masses, and we upset the correct relations between the vanguard and the masses” (see Vol. XXVI, p. 235).

Lenin says the same thing in his pamphlet On the Trade Unions:

“We applied coercion correctly and successfully only when we were able to create beforehand a basis of conviction for it” (ibid., p. 74).

And that is quite true, for without those conditions no leadership is possible. For only in that way can we ensure unity of action in the Party, if we are speaking of the Party, or unity of action of the class, if we are speaking of the class as a whole. Without this there is splitting, confusion and demoralisation in the ranks of the working class.

Such in general are the fundamentals of correct leadership of the working class by the Party.

Any other conception of leadership is syndicalism, anarchism, bureaucracy—anything you please, but not Bolshevism, not Leninism.


J. V. Stalin: "Speech Delivered in the German Commission of the Sixth Enlarged Plenum of the E.C.C.I."- March 8, 1926

Scholem is now in favour of inner-party democracy. He therefore proposes that a general discussion should be started—that Brandler and Radek and everybody, from the Rights to the “ultra-Lefts,” should be invited, a general amnesty declared and a general discussion opened. That would be wrong, comrades. We don’t want that. Previously, Scholem was opposed to inner-party democracy. Now he is running to the other extreme and declaring in favour of unlimited and absolutely unrestrained democracy. Heaven save us from such democracy! The Russians have an apt saying: “Tell a fool to kneel and pray, and he will split his forehead bowing.” (Laughter.) No, we don’t want that sort of democracy. The German Communist Party has already recovered from the disease of Rightism. There would be no sense now in infecting it with the disease artificially. What the German Communist Party is now suffering from is the disease of “ultra-Leftism.” There would be no sense in intensifying this disease—it has to be eradicated, not intensified. It is not just any kind of discussion or any kind of democracy that we need, but such discussion and such democracy as will be of benefit to the communist movement in Germany. I am therefore opposed to Scholem’s general amnesty.


The Seventh Enlarged Plenum of the E.C.C.I.

November 22-December 16, 1926

5. Trotsky's Oracular Sayings

I should like, further, to dwell on certain ambiguous statements made by Trotsky, statements which in point of fact were meant to mislead.

What, then, can be the purpose of this more than ambiguous statement of Trotsky's?

I think that it had only one purpose: to throw dust in the eyes of his hearers and mislead them.

Trotsky behaved in this instance in the way certain astute oracles did in olden days, who parried inquirers with ambiguous answers like the following: "When crossing a river, a big army will be routed." Which river would be crossed, and whose army would be routed was left for the hearers to interpret.


Joseph Stalin's Interview With The First American Labor Delegation in Russia

Questions Put By The Delegation and Stalin's Replies

Pravda September 15, 1927


QUESTION XI. We understand that some good Communists are not in entire sympathy with the Communist Party's demand that all new members be atheists, now that the reactionary clergy are suppressed. Could the Communist Party in the future take a neutral attitude towards a religious faith which supported all the teachings of science and did not oppose Communism? Could you in the future permit some Party members to hold religious opinions if they did not conflict with Party loyalty?

REPLY: In this question there are several inexactitudes. In the first place, I do not know of any such "good Communists" that the delegates talk about. It is hardly likely that such Communists exist at all. Secondly, I must declare that speaking formally, we have no conditions of Party membership which demand that a candidate for Party membership shall be an Atheist.

The conditions of membership of our Party are: acceptance of the program and rules of the Party; absolute subordination to the decisions of the Party and its organs; payment of membership dues; and membership in one of the Party locals.

A DELEGATE: I often read of expulsions from the Party because of belief in God.

STALIN: I can only repeat the conditions of membership in our Party that I have just mentioned. We have no other condition.

Does that mean the Party is neutral towards religion? No, it does not. We carry on and will continue to carry on propaganda against religious prejudices. Our legislation guaranteed to citizens the right to adhere to any religion. This is a matter for the conscience of each individual. That is precisely why we carried out the separation of the Church from the State. But in separating the Church from the State and proclaiming religious liberty we at the same time guaranteed the right of every citizen to combat by argument, by propaganda and agitation any and all religion. The Party cannot be neutral towards religion and does conduct anti-religious propaganda against all and every religious prejudice because it stands for science, while religious prejudices run counter to science, because all religion is something opposite to science. Cases such as recently occurred in America in which Darwinists were prosecuted in court, cannot occur here because the Party carries out a policy of the general defense of science. The Party cannot be neutral towards religious prejudices and it will continue to carry on propaganda against these prejudices because this is one of the best means of undermining the influence of the reactionary clergy who support the exploiting classes and who preach submission to these classes. The Party cannot be neutral towards the bearers of religious prejudices, towards the reactionary clergy who poison the minds of the toiling masses. Have we suppressed the reactionary clergy? Yes, we have. The unfortunate thing is that it has not been completely liquidated. Anti-religious propaganda is a means by which the complete liquidation of the reactionary clergy must be brought about. Cases occur when certain members of the Party hamper the complete development of anti-religious propaganda. If such members are expelled it is a good thing because there is no room for such "Communists" in the ranks of our Party.


The Fifteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.)

December 2-19, 1927

4. Classes, the State Apparatus and the Country's Cultural Development


We have some manifestations of anti-Semitism, not only among certain circles of the middle strata of the population, but also among a certain section of the workers, and even in some quarters in our Party. This evil must be combated, comrades, with all ruthlessness.

We also have a shortcoming like the slackening in the struggle against religion.

All these and similar shortcomings must be eliminated, comrades, if we want to advance at a more or less rapid rate.



J. V. Stalin

The Work of the April Joint Plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission

Report Delivered at a Meeting of the Active of the Moscow Organisation of the C.P.S.U.(B.)

April 13, 1928

The Question of Grain Procurements


The kulak was scandalously speculating in grain, thereby creating the gravest difficulties both in town and country; in addition he was violating Soviet laws, that is, the will of the Central Executive Committee of Soviets of Workers', Peasants' and Red Army Men's Deputies—is it not obvious that this circumstance was bound to facilitate the work of isolating the kulaks?

The pattern was in a way similar (with the appropriate reservations, of course) to the one we had in 1921, when, because of the famine in the country, the Party, headed by Lenin, raised the question of confiscating valuables from the churches with a view to acquiring food for the famine-stricken regions, and made this the basis of an extensive anti-religious campaign, and when the priests, by clinging to their valuables, were in fact opposing the starving masses and thereby evoked the resentment of the masses against the Church in general and against religious prejudices in particular, and especially against the priests and their leaders. There were some queer people at that time in our Party who thought that Lenin had come to realise the necessity of combating the Church only in 1921 (laughter) — that he had not realised it until then. That, of course, was silly, comrades. Lenin, of course, realised the necessity of combating the Church before 1921 too. But that was not the point. The point was to link a broad mass anti-religious campaign with the struggle for the vital interests of the masses, and to conduct it in such a way that it was understood by the masses and supported by them.



January 12, 1931

Reply to an Inquiry of the Jewish News Agency in the United States

Works, Vol. 13, 1930 - January 1934

In answer to your inquiry :

National and racial chauvinism is a vestige of the misanthropic customs characteristic of the period of cannibalism. Anti-semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism.

Anti-semitism is of advantage to the exploiters as a lightning conductor that deflects the blows aimed by the working people at capitalism. Anti-semitism is dangerous for the working people as being a false path that leads them off the right road and lands them in the jungle. Hence Communists, as consistent internationalists, cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-semitism.

In the U.S.S.R. anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty.

J. Stalin
January 12, 1931

J. V. Stalin

Talk With the German Author Emil Ludwig

December 13, 1931

Ludwig: What impelled you to become an oppositionist? Was it, perhaps, bad treatment by your parents?

Stalin: No. My parents were uneducated, but they did not treat me badly by any means. But it was a different matter at the Orthodox theological seminary which I was then attending. In protest against the outrageous regime and the Jesuitical methods prevalent at the seminary, I was ready to become, and actually did become, a revolutionary, a believer in Marxism as a really revolutionary teaching.

Ludwig: But do you not admit that the Jesuits have good points?

Stalin: Yes, they are systematic and persevering in working to achieve sordid ends. Hut their principal method is spying, prying, worming their way into people's souls and outraging their feelings. What good can there be in that? For instance, the spying in the hostel. At nine o'clock the bell rings for morning tea, we go to the dining-room, and when we return to our rooms we find that meantime a search has been made and all our chests have been ransacked.... What good point can there be in that?

Ludwig: My question is the following: You have often incurred risks and dangers. You have been persecuted. You have taken part in battles. A number of your close friends have perished. You have survived. How do you explain that? And do you believe in fate?

Stalin: No, I do not. Bolsheviks, Marxists, do not believe in "fate." The very concept of fate, of "Schicksal," is a prejudice, an absurdity, a relic of mythology, like the mythology of the ancient Greeks, for whom a goddess of fate controlled the destinies of men.

Ludwig: That is to say that the fact that you did not perish is an accident?

Stalin: There are internal and external causes, the combined effect of which was that I did not perish. But entirely independent of that, somebody else could have been in my place, for somebody had to occupy it. "Fate" is something not governed by natural law, something mystical. I do not believe in mysticism. Of course, there were reasons why danger left me unscathed. But there could have been a number of other fortuitous circumstances, of other causes, which could have led to a directly opposite result. So-called fate has nothing to do with it.


J. V. Stalin

Joint Plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.)  January 7-12, 1933

The Results of the First Five-Year Plan

Report Delivered on January 7, 1933

The Results of the Five-year Plan in Four Years
in the Sphere of the Struggle Against the Remnants of the Hostile Classes

If the capitalists proclaimed private property sacred and inviolable when they were consolidating the capitalist system, all the more reason why we Communists should proclaim public property sacred and in violable in order to consolidate the new socialist forms of economy in all spheres of production and trade. To permit theft and plundering of public property—no matter whether it is state property or co-operative or collective-farm property—and to ignore such counter-revolutionary outrages means to aid and abet the undermining of the Soviet system, which rests on public property as its basis.


J. V. Stalin

Speech at the First All-Union Conference of Stakhanovites

17 November 1935


Science is called science just because it does not recognise fetishes, just because it does not fear to raise its hand against the obsolete and antiquated, and because it lends an attentive ear to the voice of experience, of practice. If it were otherwise, we would have no science at all; we would have no astronomy, say, and would still have to get along with the outworn system of Ptolemy; we would have no biology, and would still be comforting ourselves with the legend of the creation of man; we would have no chemistry, and would still have to get along with the auguries of the alchemists.



J. V. Stalin

Constitution (Fundamental law) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

With Ammendments and Additions adopted by the First, Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Sessions of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R.

Kremlin, Moscow,   December 5, 1936


In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.



J. V. Stalin September

Dialectical and Historical Materialism


When describing their dialectical method, Marx and Engels usually refer to Hegel as the philosopher who formulated the main features of dialectics. This, however, does not mean that the dialectics of Marx and Engels is identical with the dialectics of Hegel. As a matter of fact, Marx and Engels took from the Hegelian dialectics only its "rational kernel," casting aside its Hegelian idealistic shell, and developed dialectics further so as to lend it a modern scientific form.

"My dialectic method," says Marx, "is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, ... the process of thinking which, under the name of 'the Idea,' he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos (creator) of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of 'the Idea.' With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind and translated into forms of thought." (Marx, Afterword to the Second German Edition of Volume I of Capital.)

When describing their materialism, Marx and Engels usually refer to Feuerbach as the philosopher who restored materialism to its rights. This, however, does not mean that the materialism of Marx and Engels is identical with Feuerbach's materialism. As a matter of fact, Marx and Engels took from Feuerbach's materialism its "inner kernel," developed it into a scientific-philosophical theory of materialism and cast aside its idealistic and religious-ethical encumbrances. We know that Feuerbach, although he was fundamentally a materialist, objected to the name materialism. Engels more than once declared that "in spite of" the materialist "foundation," Feuerbach "remained... bound by the traditional idealist fetters," and that "the real idealism of Feuerbach becomes evident as soon as we come to his philosophy of religion and ethics." (Marx and Engels, Vol. XIV, pp. 652-54.)

The principal features of Marxist philosophical materialism are as follows:

Contrary to idealism, which regards the world as the embodiment of an "absolute idea," a "universal spirit," "consciousness," Marx's philosophical materialism holds that the world is by its very nature material, that the multifold phenomena of the world constitute different forms of matter in motion, that interconnection and interdependence of phenomena as established by the dialectical method, are a law of the development of moving matter, and that the world develops in accordance with the laws of movement of matter and stands in no need of a "universal spirit."

Speaking of the materialist views of the ancient philosopher Heraclitus, who held that "the world, the all in one, was not created by any god or any man, but was, is and ever will be a living flame, systematically flaring up and systematically dying down"' Lenin comments: "A very good exposition of the rudiments of dialectical materialism." (Lenin, Philosophical Notebooks, p. 318.)

Contrary to idealism, which asserts that only our consciousness really exists, and that the material world, being, nature, exists only in our consciousness' in our sensations, ideas and perceptions, the Marxist philosophical materialism holds that matter, nature, being, is an objective reality existing outside and independent of our consciousness; that matter is primary, since it is the source of sensations, ideas, consciousness, and that consciousness is secondary, derivative, since it is a reflection of matter, a reflection of being; that thought is a product of matter which in its development has reached a high degree of perfection, namely, of the brain, and the brain is the organ of thought; and that therefore one cannot separate thought from matter without committing a grave error. Engels says:

"The question of the relation of thinking to being, the relation of spirit to nature is the paramount question of the whole of philosophy.... The answers which the philosophers gave to this question split them into two great camps. Those who asserted the primacy of spirit to nature ... comprised the camp of idealism. The others, who regarded nature as primary, belong to the various schools of materialism." (Marx, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 329.)

And further:

"The material, sensuously perceptible world to which we ourselves belong is the only reality.... Our consciousness and thinking, however supra-sensuous they may seem, are the product of a material, bodily organ, the brain. Matter is not a product of mind, but mind itself is merely the highest product of matter." (Ibid., p. 332.)

Concerning the question of matter and thought, Marx says:

"It is impossible to separate thought from matter that thinks. Matter is the subject of all changes." (Ibid., p. 302.)

Describing Marxist philosophical materialism, Lenin says:

"Materialism in general recognizes objectively real being (matter) as independent of consciousness, sensation, experience.... Consciousness is only the reflection of being, at best an approximately true (adequate, perfectly exact) reflection of it." (Lenin, Vol. XIII, pp. 266-67.)

And further:

– "Matter is that which, acting upon our sense-organs, produces sensation; matter is the objective reality given to us in sensation.... Matter, nature, being, the physical-is primary, and spirit, consciousness, sensation, the psychical-is secondary." (Ibid., pp. 119-20.)

– "The world picture is a picture of how matter moves and of how 'matter thinks.'" (Ibid., p. 288.)

– "The brain is the organ of thought." (Ibid., p. 125.)

Contrary to idealism, which denies the possibility of knowing the world and its laws, which does not believe in the authenticity of our knowledge, does not recognize objective truth, and holds that the world is full of "things-in-themselves" that can never be known to science, Marxist philosophical materialism holds that the world and its laws are fully knowable, that our knowledge of the laws of nature, tested by experiment and practice, is authentic knowledge having the validity of objective truth, and that there are no things in the world which are unknowable, but only things which are as yet not known, but which will be disclosed and made known by the efforts of science and practice.

Accusing Bogdanov, Bazarov, Yushkevich and the other followers of Mach of fideism (a reactionary theory, which prefers faith to science) and defending the well-known materialist thesis that our scientific knowledge of the laws of nature is authentic knowledge, and that the laws of science represent objective truth, Lenin says:

"Contemporary fideism does not at all reject science; all it rejects is the 'exaggerated claims' of science, to wit, its claim to objective truth. If objective truth exists (as the materialists think), if natural science, reflecting the outer world in human 'experience,' is alone capable of giving us objective truth, then all fideism is absolutely refuted." (Lenin, Vol. XIII, p. 102.)

If the connection between the phenomena of nature and their interdependence are laws of the development of nature, it follows, too, that the connection and interdependence of the phenomena of social life are laws of the development of society, and not something accidental.

Hence, social life, the history of society, ceases to be an agglomeration of "accidents", for the history of society becomes a development of society according to regular laws, and the study of the history of society becomes a science.

Hence, the practical activity of the party of the proletariat must not be based on the good wishes of "outstanding individuals." not on the dictates of "reason," "universal morals," etc., but on the laws of development of society and on the study of these laws.

Hence, the party of the proletariat should not guide itself in its practical activity by casual motives, but by the laws of development of society, and by practical deductions from these laws.

Hence, socialism is converted from a dream of a better future for humanity into a science.

Hence, the bond between science and practical activity, between theory and practice, their unity, should be the guiding star of the party of the proletariat.

Further, if nature, being, the material world, is primary, and consciousness, thought, is secondary, derivative; if the material world represents objective reality existing independently of the consciousness of men, while consciousness is a reflection of this objective reality, it follows that the material life of society, its being, is also primary, and its spiritual life secondary, derivative, and that the material life of society is an objective reality existing independently of the will of men, while the spiritual life of society is a reflection of this objective reality, a reflection of being.

Hence, the source of formation of the spiritual life of society, the origin of social ideas, social theories, political views and political institutions, should not be sought for in the ideas, theories, views and political institutions themselves, but in the conditions of the material life of society, in social being, of which these ideas, theories, views, etc., are the reflection.

Hence, if in different periods of the history of society different social ideas, theories, views and political institutions are to be observed; if under the slave system we encounter certain social ideas, theories, views and political institutions, under feudalism others, and under capitalism others still, this is not to be explained by the "nature", the "properties" of the ideas, theories, views and political institutions themselves but by the different conditions of the material life of society at different periods of social development.

Whatever is the being of a society, whatever are the conditions of material life of a society, such are the ideas, theories political views and political institutions of that society.

In this connection, Marx says:

"It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness." (Marx Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 269.)

Hence, in order not to err in policy, in order not to find itself in the position of idle dreamers, the party of the proletariat must not base its activities on abstract "principles of human reason", but on the concrete conditions of the material life of society, as the determining force of social development; not on the good wishes of "great men," but on the real needs of development of the material life of society.

The fall of the utopians, including the Narodniks, anarchists and Socialist-Revolutionaries, was due, among other things to the fact that they did not recognize the primary role which the conditions of the material life of society play in the development of society, and, sinking to idealism, did not base their practical activities on the needs of the development of the material life of society, but, independently of and in spite of these needs, on "ideal plans" and "all-embracing projects", divorced from the real life of society.

It does not follow from Marx's words, however, that social ideas, theories, political views and political institutions are of no significance in the life of society, that they do not reciprocally affect social being, the development of the material conditions of the life of society. We have been speaking so far of the origin of social ideas, theories, views and political institutions, of the way they arise, of the fact that the spiritual life of society is a reflection of the conditions of its material life. As regards the significance of social ideas, theories, views and political institutions, as regards their role in history, historical materialism, far from denying them, stresses the important role and significance of these factors in the life of society, in its history.

There are different kinds of social ideas and theories. There are old ideas and theories which have outlived their day and which serve the interests of the moribund forces of society. Their significance lies in the fact that they hamper the development, the progress of society. Then there are new and advanced ideas and theories which serve the interests of the advanced forces of society. Their significance lies in the fact that they facilitate the development, the progress of society; and their significance is the greater the more accurately they reflect the needs of development of the material life of society.

New social ideas and theories arise only after the development of the material life of society has set new tasks before society. But once they have arisen they become a most potent force which facilitates the carrying out of the new tasks set by the development of the material life of society, a force which facilitates the progress of society. It is precisely here that the tremendous organizing, mobilizing and transforming value of new ideas, new theories, new political views and new political institutions manifests itself. New social ideas and theories arise precisely because they are necessary to society, because it is impossible to carry out the urgent tasks of development of the material life of society without their organizing, mobilizing and transforming action. Arising out of the new tasks set by the development of the material life of society, the new social ideas and theories force their way through, become the possession of the masses, mobilize and organize them against the moribund forces of society, and thus facilitate the overthrow of these forces, which hamper the development of the material life of society.

Thus social ideas, theories and political institutions, having arisen on the basis of the urgent tasks of the development of the material life of society, the development of social being, themselves then react upon social being, upon the material life of society, creating the conditions necessary for completely carrying out the urgent tasks of the material life of society, and for rendering its further development possible.

In this connection, Marx says:

"Theory becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses." (Marx and Engels, Vol. I, p. 406.)

Hence, in order to be able to influence the conditions of material life of society and to accelerate their development and their improvement, the party of the proletariat must rely upon such a social theory, such a social idea as correctly reflects the needs of development of the material life of society, and which is therefore capable of setting into motion broad masses of the people and of mobilizing them and organizing them into a great army of the proletarian party, prepared to smash the reactionary forces and to clear the way for the advanced forces of society.

The strength and vitality of Marxism-Leninism is derived from the fact that it relies upon an advanced theory which correctly reflects the needs of development of the material life of society, that it elevates theory to a proper level, and that it deems it its duty to utilize every ounce of the mobilizing, organizing and transforming power of this theory.

That is the answer historical materialism gives to the question of the relation between social being and social consciousness, between the conditions of development of material life and the development of the spiritual life of society.





History of the CPSU (B)

Short Course


In 1904, prior to the Putilov strike, the police had used the services of an agent-provocateur, a priest by the name of Gapon, to form an organization of the workers known as the Assembly of Russian Factory Workers. This organization had its branches in all the districts of St. Petersburg. When the strike broke out the priest Gapon at the meetings of his society put forward a treacherous plan: all the workers were to gather on January 9 and, carrying church banners and portraits of the tsar, to march in peaceful procession to the Winter Palace and present a petition to the tsar stating their needs. The tsar would appear before the people, listen to them and satisfy their demands. Gapon undertook to assist the tsarist Okhrana by providing a pretext for firing on the workers and drowning the working-class movement in blood. But this police plot recoiled on the head of the tsarist government.

The petition was discussed at workers' meetings where amendments were made. Bolsheviks spoke at these meetings without openly announcing themselves as such. Under their influence, the petition was supplemented by demands for freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of association for the workers, the convocation of a Constituent Assembly for the purpose of changing the political system of Russia, equality of all before the law, separation of church from the state, termination of the war, an 8-hour working day, and the handing over of the land to the peasants.

Early in the morning of January 9, 1905, the workers marched to the Winter Palace where the tsar was then residing. They came with their whole families—wives, children and old folk—carrying portraits of the tsar and church banners. They chanted hymns as they marched.

The defeat of the Revolution of 1905 started a process of disintegration and degeneration in the ranks of the fellow-travelers of the revolution. Degenerate and decadent tendencies grew particularly marked among the intelligentsia.

The offensive of the counter-revolution was waged on the ideological front as well. There appeared a whole horde of fashionable writers who "criticized" Marxism, and "demolished" it, mocked and scoffed at the revolution, extolled treachery, and lauded sexual depravity under the guise of the "cult of individuality."

In the realm of philosophy increasing attempts were made to "criticize" and revise Marxism; there also appeared all sorts of religious trends camouflaged by pseudo-scientific theories.

"Criticizing" Marxism became fashionable.

All these gentlemen, despite their multifarious colouring, pursued one common aim: to divert the masses from the revolution.

The more hypocritical grew this criticism, which aimed at undermining the theoretical foundations of Marxism, the more dangerous it was to the Party, for the more it merged with the general campaign of the reactionaries against the Party, against the revolution. Some of the intellectuals who had deserted Marxism went so far as to advocate the founding of a new religion (these were known as "god-seekers" and "god-builders").

Actually, the book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism is something more than a criticism of Bogdanov, Yushkevich, Bazarov and Valentinov and their teachers in philosophy, Avenarius and Mach, who endeavoured in their writings to offer a refined and polished idealism as opposed to Marxist materialism; it is at the same time a defence of the theoretical foundations of Marxism— dialectical and historical materialism—and a materialist generalization of everything important and essential acquired by science, and especially the natural sciences, in the course of a whole historical period, the period from Engels' death to the appearance of Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.

Having effectively criticized in this book the Russian empirio-criticists and their foreign teachers, Lenin comes to the following conclusions regarding philosophical and theoretical revisionism:

1) "An ever subtler falsification of Marxism, an ever subtler presentation of anti-materialist doctrines under the guise of Marxism —this is the characteristic feature of modern revisionism in political economy, in questions of tactics and in philosophy generally." (Ibid., p. 382.)

2) "The whole school of Mach and Avenarius is moving towards idealism." (Ibid., p. 406.)

3) "Our Machians have all got stuck in idealism." (Ibid., p. 396.)

4) "Behind the gnosiological scholasticism of empirio-criticism it is impossible not to see the struggle of parties in philosophy, a struggle which in the last analysis expresses the tendencies and ideology of the antagonistic classes in modern society." (Ibid., p. 407.)

5) "The objective, class role of empirio-criticism reduces itself to nothing but that of servitor of the fideists (the reactionaries who hold faith above science—ed.) in their struggle against materialism in general and historical materialism in particular." (Ibid., p. 407.)

6) "Philosophical idealism is . . . a road to clerical obscurantism." (Ibid., p. 84.)

In order to appreciate the tremendous part played by Lenin's book in the history of our Party and to realize what theoretical treasure Lenin safeguarded from the motley crowd of revisionists and renegades of the period of the Stolypin reaction, we must acquaint ourselves, if only briefly, with the fundamentals of dialectical and historical materialism.



* * *

Enver Hoxha

"With Stalin"

Second and Third Meeting


«How many religious beliefs are there in Albania,» Comrade Stalin inquired, «and what language is spoken?»
«In Albania,» I replied, «there are three religions: Moslem, Orthodox, and Catholic. The population which professes these three faiths is of the same nationality — Albanian, therefore the only language used is Albanian, with the exception of the Greek national minority which speak their mother tongue.»

(Enver Hoxha, "With Stalin", Second Meeting, March, April 1949, page 121

* * *

During the talk with Stalin I pointed out to him the stand of the clergy, especially the catholic clergy in Albania, our position in relation to it, and asked how he judged our stand.
«The Vatican is a centre of reaction,» Comrade Stalin told me among other things, «it is a tool in the service of capital and world reaction, which supports this international organization of subversion and espionage. It is a fact that many catholic priests and missionaries of the Vatican are old-hands at espionage on a world scale. Imperialism has tried and is still trying to realize its aims by means of them.» Then he told me of what had happened once in Yalta with Roosevelt, the representative of the American catholic church and others.
During the talk with Roosevelt. Churchill and others on problems of the anti-Hitlerite war, they had said: «We must no longer fight the Pope in Rome. What have you against him that you attack him?!»
«I have nothing against him.» Stalin had replied.
«Then, let us make the Pope our ally,» they had said. «let us admit him to the coalition of the great allies.»
«All right,» Stalin had said, «but the anti-fascist alliance is an alliance to wipe out fascism and nazism. As you know, gentlemen, this war is waged with soldiers, artillery, machine-guns, tanks, aircraft. If the Pope or you can tell us what armies, artillery, machine-guns, tanks and other weapons of war he possesses, let him become our ally. We don’t need an ally for talk and incense.»
After that, they had made no further mention of the question of the Pope, and the Vatican.
«Were there catholic priests in Albania who betrayed the people?» Comrade Stalin asked me then.
«Yes.» I told him. «Indeed the heads of the catholic church made common cause with the nazi-fascist foreign invaders right from the start, placed themselves completely in their service, and did everything within their power to disrupt our National Liberation War and perpetuate the foreign domination.»
«What did you do with them?»
«After the victory,» I told him, «we arrested them and put them on trial and they received the punishment they deserved.»
«You have done well,» he said.
«But were there others who maintained a good stand?» he asked.
«Yes,» I replied, «especially clergymen of the Orthodox and Moslem religion.»
«What have you done with them?» he asked me.
«We have kept them close to us. In its First Resolution our Party called on all the masses, including the clergymen, to unite for the sake of the great national cause, in the great war for freedom and independence. Many of them joined us. threw themselves into the war and made a valuable contribution to the liberation of the Homeland. After Liberation they embraced the policy of our Party and continued the work for the reconstruction of the country. We have always valued and honoured such clergymen, and some of them have now been elected deputies to the People’s Assembly, or promoted to senior ranks in our army. In another case, a former clergyman linked himself so closely with the National Liberation Movement and the Party that in the course of the war he saw the futility of the religious dogma, abandoned his religion, embraced the communist ideology and thanks to his struggle, work and conviction we have admitted him to the ranks of the Party.»
«Very good,» Stalin said to me. «What more could I add? If you are clear about the fact that religion is opium for the people and that the Vatican is a centre of obscurantism, espionage and subversion against the cause of the peoples, then you know that you should act precisely as you have done.
«You should never put the struggle against the clergy, who carry out espionage and disruptive activities, on the religious plane,» Stalin said, «but always on the political plane. The clergy must obey the laws of the state, because these laws express the will of the working class and the Working people. You must make the people quite clear about these laws and the hostility of the reactionary clergymen so that even that part of the population which believes in religion will clearly see that, under the guise of religion, the clergymen carry out activities hostile to the Homeland and the people themselves. Hence the people, convinced through facts and arguments, together with the Government, should struggle against the hostile clergy. You should isolate and condemn only those clergymen who do not obey the Government and commit grave crimes against the state. But, I insist, the people must be convinced about the crimes of these clergymen, and should also be convinced about the futility of the religious ideology and the evils that result from it.»

(Enver Hoxha, "With Stalin", Third Meeting, November 1949, page 154 - 157)


* * *


Pravda 1940: "Lenin and Stalin on Religion (Russian language)




№01 сентябрь 1943


4 сентября у Председателя Совета Народных Комиссаров СССР товарища И. В. СТАЛИНА состоялся прием, во время которого имела место беседа с Патриаршим Местоблюстителем Митрополитом Сергием, Ленинградским Митрополитом Алексием и Экзархом Украины Киевским и Галицким Митрополитом Николаем.

Во время беседы Митрополит Сергий довел до сведения Председателя Совнаркома, что в руководящих кругах Православной Церкви имеется намерение в ближайшее время созвать Собор епископов для избрания Патриарха Московского и всея Руси и образования при Патриархе Священного Синода.

Глава правительства товарищ И. В. СТАЛИН сочувственно отнесся к этим предположениям и заявил, что со стороны правительства не будет к этому препятствий.

При беседе присутствовал Заместитель Председателя Совнаркома СССР тов. В. М. Молотов.

(«Известия», № 210, от 5 сентября 1943 г.)