Thoughts in Perspective

Monday, November 26, 2012

Stalin and Wells at a cup of tea

A couple of months ago I read an interview between Soviet leader Stalin and the British writer H. G. Wells. As you can see this blog has been silent for some time mainly because of some health problems I had and because I concentrated on studying. Now, with new powers, I decided to start with an article in the "Utopian Dystopia" series about "1984" by George Orwell but as a prelude to that I found this interview quite useful so read it with great attention even if I will publish some highlights in this post. The interview was held in 23 July 1934. To keep things in perspective I recommend you read "The Gulag Archipelago" by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, although not a strict historical-scientific work. I also would like to avoid labeling Orwell as pro-Stalin so I will publish the following quote (Wells however actually admired him in a way):
"One could not have a better example of the moral and emotional shallowness of our time, than the fact that we are now all more or less pro-Stalin. This disgusting murderer is temporarily on our side, and so the purges, etc., are suddenly forgotten." (from 3 July 1941).
Fragments from the interview: [Download the entire interview]

Wells: (...)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 re- gulation 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 (...) .
[Stalin:] 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 mini- mum. 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.
[Stalin:](...) as soon as Roosevelt, or any other captain in the contemporary bourgeois world, proceeds to undertake something serious against the foundation of capital- ism, he will inevitably suffer utter defeat. The banks, the industries, the large enterprises, the large farms are not in Roosevelt's hands. (...) 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.
[Stalin:] But I have some experience in fighting for socialism, and this experience tells me that if Roosevelt makes a real attempt to sat- isfy 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?

[Stalin:] To bring about a revolution a leading revolutionary minority is required; but the most talented, devoted and energetic minority would be helpless if it did not rely upon the at least passive support of millions.

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