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Thread: HG Wells Interviews Stalin

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    HG Wells Interviews Stalin

    Interesting interview, worth a read.

    Wells : I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Stalin, for agreeing to see me. I was in the United States recently. I had a long conversation with President Roosevelt and tried to ascertain what his leading ideas were. Now I have come to ask you what you are doing to change the world. . .

    Stalin : Not so very much.

    Wells : I wander around the world as a common man and, as a common man, observe what is going on around me.

    Stalin : Important public men like yourself are not "common men". Of course, history alone can show how important this or that public man has been; at all events, you do not look at the world as a "common man."

    Wells : I am not pretending humility. What I mean is that I try to see the world through the eyes of the common man, and not as a party politician or a responsible administrator. My visit to the United States excited my mind. The old financial world is collapsing; the economic life of the country is being reorganized on new lines. Lenin said : "We must learn to do business, learn this from the capitalists."

    Today the capitalists have to learn from you, to grasp the spirit of socialism. It seems to me that what is taking place in the United States is a profound reorganisation, the creation of planned, that is, socialist, economy. You and Roosevelt begin from two different starting points. But is there not a relation in ideas, a kinship of ideas, between Moscow and Washington? In Washington I was struck by the same thing I see going on here; they are building offices, they are creating a number of state regulation bodies, they are organising a long-needed Civil Service. Their need, like yours, is directive ability.

    Stalin : The United States is pursuing a different aim from that which we are pursuing in the U.S.S.R.

    The aim which the Americans are pursuing, arose out of the economic troubles, out of the economic crisis. The Americans want to rid themselves of the crisis on the basis of private capitalist activity, without changing the economic basis. They are trying to reduce to a minimum the ruin, the losses caused by the existing economic system. Here, however, as you know, in place of the old, destroyed economic basis, an entirely different, a new economic basis has been created. Even if the Americans you mention partly achieve their aim, i.e., reduce these losses to a minimum, they will not destroy the roots of the anarchy which is inherent in the existing capitalist system. They are preserving the economic system which must inevitably lead, and cannot but lead, to anarchy in production. Thus, at best, it will be a matter, not of the reorganisation of society, not of abolishing the old social system which gives rise to anarchy and crises, but of restricting certain of its excesses. Subjectively, perhaps, these Americans think they are reorganising society; objectively, however, they are preserving the present basis of society.

    That is why, objectively, there will be no reorganisation of society.

    Nor will there be planned economy. What is planned economy? What are some of its attributes? Planned economy tries to abolish unemployment. Let us suppose it is possible, while preserving the capitalist system, to reduce unemployment to a certain minimum.

    But surely, no capitalist would ever agree to the complete abolition of unemployment, to the abolition of the reserve army of unemployed, the purpose of which is to bring pressure on the labour market, to ensure a supply of cheap labour. Here you have one of the rents in the "planned economy" of bourgeois society. Furthermore, planned economy presupposes increased output in those branches of industry which produce goods that the masses of the people need particularly. But you know that the expansion of production under capitalism takes place for entirely different motives, that capital flows into those branches of economy in which the rate of profit is highest. You will never compel a capitalist to incur loss to himself and agree to a lower rate of profit for the sake of satisfying the needs of the people. Without getting rid of the capitalists, without abolishing the principle of private property in the means of production, it is impossible to create planned economy.

    Wells : I agree with much of what you have said.

    But I would like to stress the point that if a country as a whole adopts the principle of planned economy, if the government, gradually, step by step, begins consistently to apply this principle, the financial oligarchy will at last be abolished and socialism, in the Anglo-Saxon meaning of the word, will be brought about. The effect of the ideas of Roosevelt's "New Deal" is most powerful, and in my opinion they are socialist ideas. It seems to me that instead of stressing the antagonism between the two worlds, we should, in the present circumstances, strive to establish a common tongue for all the constructive forces.

    Stalin : In speaking of the impossibility of realising the principles of planned economy while preserving the economic basis of capitalism, I do not in the least desire to belittle the outstanding personal qualities of Roosevelt, his initiative, courage and determination. Undoubtedly, Roosevelt stands out as one of the strongest figures among all the captains of the contemporary capitalist world. That is why I would like, once again, to emphasize the point that my conviction that planned economy is impossible under the conditions of capitalism, does not mean that I have any doubts about the personal abilities, talent and courage of President Roosevelt. But if the circumstances are unfavourable, the most talented captain cannot reach the goal you refer to. .

    Theoretically, of course, the possibility of marching gradually, step by step, under the conditions of capitalism, towards the goal which you call socialism in the Anglo-Saxon meaning of the word, is not precluded. .

    But what will this "socialism" be? At best, bridling to some extent, the most unbridled of individual representatives of capitalist profit, some increase in the application of the principle of regulation in national economy. That is all very well. But as soon as Roosevelt, or any other captain in the contemporary bourgeois world, proceeds to undertake something serious against the foundation of capitalism, he will inevitably suffer utter defeat. The banks, the industries, the large enterprises, the large farms are not in Roosevelt's hands. All these are private property. The railroads, the mercantile fleet, all these belong to private owners. And, finally, the army of skilled workers, the engineers, the technicians, these too are not at Roosevelt's command, they are at the command of the private owners; they all work for the private owners. We must not forget the functions of the State in the bourgeois world.

    The State is an institution that organises the defence of the country, organises the maintenance of "order"; it is an apparatus for collecting taxes. The capitalist State does not deal much with economy in the strict sense of the word; the latter is not in the hands of the State. On the contrary, the State is in the hands of capitalist economy. That is why I fear that in spite of all his energies and abilities, Roosevelt will not achieve the goal you mention, if indeed that is his goal. Perhaps, in the course of several generations it will be possible to approach this goal somewhat; but I personally think that even this is not very probable. .

    Wells : Perhaps, I believe more strongly in the economic interpretation of politics than you do. Huge forces driving towards better organisation, for the better functioning of the community, that is, for socialism, have been brought into action by invention and modern science. Organisation, and the regulation of individual action, have become mechanical necessities, irrespective of social theories. If we begin with the State control of the banks and then follow with the control of transport, of the heavy industries of industry in general, of commerce, etc., such an all-embracing control will be equivalent to the State ownership of all branches of national economy. This will be the process of socialisation. Socialism and individualism are not opposites like black and white. .

    There are many intermediate stages between them. .

    There is individualism that borders on brigandage, and there is discipline and organisation that are the equivalent of socialism. The introduction of planned economy depends, to a large degree, upon the organisers of economy, upon the skilled technical intelligentsia, who, step by step, can be converted to the socialist principles of organisation. And this is the most important thing. Because organisation comes before socialism. It is the more important fact. .

    Without organisation the socialist idea is a mere idea. .

    Stalin : There is no, nor should there be, irreconcilable contrast between the individual and the collective, between the interests of the individual person and the interests of the collective. There should be no such contrast, because collectivism, socialism, does not deny, but combines individual interests with the interests of the collective. Socialism cannot abstract itself from individual interests. Socialist society alone can most fully satisfy these personal interests. More than that; socialist society alone can firmly safeguard the interests of the individual. In this sense there is no irreconcilable contrast between "individualism" and socialism. But can we deny the contrast between classes, between the propertied class, the capitalist class, and the toiling class, the proletarian class?

    On the one hand we have the propertied class which owns the banks, the factories, the mines, transport, the plantations in colonies. These people see nothing but their own interests, their striving after profits.

    They do not submit to the will of the collective; they strive to subordinate every collective to their will. On the other hand we have the class of the poor, the exploited class, which owns neither factories nor works, nor banks, which is compelled to live by selling its labour power to the capitalists which lacks the opportunity to satisfy its most elementary requirements. How can such opposite interests and strivings be reconciled? As far as I know, Roosevelt has not succeeded in finding the path of conciliation between these interests. And it is impossible, as experience has shown. Incidentally, you know the situation in the United States better than I do as I have never been there and I watch American affairs mainly from literature. But I have some experience in fighting for socialism, and this experience tells me that if Roosevelt makes a real attempt to satisfy the interests of the proletarian class at the expense of the capitalist class, the latter will put another president in his place. The capitalists will say : Presidents come and presidents go, but we go on forever; if this or that president does not protect our interests, we shall find another. What can the president oppose to the will of the capitalist class?
    Rest here....

    http://www.marxists.org/reference/ar...1934/07/23.htm
    ~ **** Democracy! It's 2 wolves and 1 sheep deciding what's for dinner.

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    And it is still very relevant to this day...

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    Uncle Joe certainly talked a good game but let me see ... 1934 ... wouldn't that be the year after he'd starved about 10 million Ukrainians to death in the Holodomor?

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    The famine was in part the Ukrainian peasants, kulaks and farmers refusing to cooperate with collectivisation and slaughtering their own livestock. In essence counter-revolutionary and reactionary. There was also the failures of collectivization and refusing to send aid to the Ukraine to starve the people into cooperating.

    It may have been brutal, but does not conflict with the ideology of Stalin at all.

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    It may have been brutal, but does not conflict with the ideology of Stalin at all.
    Do you realise the implicit logic of this statement, Sehnsucht? It appears to accept brutality as being an inherent part of Stalin's ideology.

    Personally, I don't think atrocities become any more justifiable just because they are ideology-based but anyway, one way or another he certainly 'liberated' 10 million peasants from their misery

    -----------------------

    Regarding what Stalin has to say about Capitalism, I think he's quite correct and I'm sure that a good many National Socialists would have agreed with him here too!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Godwinson View Post
    Do you realise the implicit logic of this statement, Sehnsucht? [BIt appears to accept brutality as being an inherent part of Stalin's ideology.
    No, it doesn't. The methods towards the goal do not have to be an inherent part of ideology. But if it is? It doesn't matter to me. It is if that violence is just.

    But I wasn't trying to justify the starvation of Ukrainians, but pointing out there was nothing that went against what he said.

    Regarding what Stalin has to say about Capitalism, I think he's quite correct and I'm sure that a good many National Socialists would have agreed with him here too!
    Yet NSDAP under Hitler went the exact way Stalin stated about Fascism. The bourgeois generally retained it's power and interests. Apart from the Jewish amongst them, of course.

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    One of the things which disgusts me the most about the communist experiments is the combination of complete control over the basic sectors of the economy together with indifference towards the failure of the policies enacted in those sectors. Failure is not the impetus for adjustment in these systems, failure instead becomes the impetus for stonewalling and dishing out the familiar phrases of "counter-revolutionary" and "reactionary", the magical words that lend legitimacy to their genocidal policies. If they want complete control, own up to it at least.

    The attitude of these communist minions and their superiors mirrors in no small regard that of modern day politicians and their defence of the multicultural experiment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
    Yet NSDAP under Hitler went the exact way Stalin stated about Fascism. The bourgeois generally retained it's power and interests. Apart from the Jewish amongst them, of course.
    Not a suprising tone coming from an Alpinid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrioten View Post
    One of the things which disgusts me the most about the communist experiments is the combination of complete control over the basic sectors of the economy together with indifference towards the failure of the policies enacted in those sectors. Failure is not the impetus for adjustment in these systems, failure instead becomes the impetus for stonewalling and dishing out the familiar phrases of "counter-revolutionary" and "reactionary", the magical words that lend legitimacy to their genocidal policies. If they want complete control, own up to it at least.

    The attitude of these communist minions and their superiors mirrors in no small regard that of modern day politicians and their defence of the multicultural experiment.
    You could say it mirrors any defense of a failed policy. Crying Bolshevik, Jew, Liberal, Reactionary, Counter-Revolutionary and so on. The conservative government is doing the same thing in the British government right now!

    The fact is people where rebelling against in the implementation of collectivisation. The Ukrainians slaughtered a large amount of their own livestock for example. Peasants refused to work. They had many reasons to resist collectivisation, but it doesn't mean collectivisation would result in the same level of famine and reduction of output if they submitted to authority.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ingwë View Post
    Not a suprising tone coming from an Alpinid.
    Sometimes, I wonder if it really is 2012... what next? Phrenology?

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    Couple of things:

    1 - This thread isn't about Stalin's character or his role in the handling of internal issues.

    2 - There's a lot of emphasis here on "Ukrainian this Ukrainian that", presumably due to the large amount of press the US Propaganda aka State Dept, Ukrainian Nationalists etc have been giving the issue. The famine was not exclusive to parts of Ukraine. It affected a number of Soviet regions, predominantly Ukraine but also Southern Russia and Kazakhstan. It didn't affect Ukrainians exclusively.

    At the time there wasn't really a significant distinction made between "Ukraine" and Russia. Ukraine had been a part of the Russian Empire for a long long time.

    What's relevant is that there were internal repressions against parts of the Soviet Union in order to re-organise the country and break certain powerbases. Those repressions were coupled with ineptitude, mishandling of the situation by some of the Kommissars, hostile actions from the side of certain peasants etc etc etc.

    3 - Comrade Stalin illustrates an uncanny understanding of Capitalism, how it oppresses the little people and who those responsible for its worst excesses are.

    Make no mistake people. Capitalism kills as surely as Communism does. The major difference from the typical Westerner's perspective on it is that Capitalism has in recent memory (thus far) not been responsible for too many deaths INSIDE Western Capitalist Countries.

    Rather, the Capitalist has (thus far) preferred to slaughter and exploit primarily Colonial subjects and peoples from Third World countries. Times are a changing though. The effects of Economic Exploitation (via unfair taxes, inflation, flooding labour markets with low-cost immigrant workers etc) are beginning to take their toll on native populations.

    Comrade Stalin mentions this effect where he talks about how the Capitalist does not like to eradicate unemployment in order to keep the market flooded with cheap labour. The modern variant on this trick of course entails the mass import of cheap third world labour to achieve the same thing.

    Note also how he (quite correctly) mentions that US Presidents are basically figureheads and even if, in a hypothetical situation, one of them wanted to effect real change (unlikely in reality though) he'd simply be replaced by the Capitalist System (Bankers, Corporations, Tycoons etc) which he serves.
    ~ **** Democracy! It's 2 wolves and 1 sheep deciding what's for dinner.

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