50 Years Ago: No Socialism in Russia
It is very important to the Socialist Party of Great Britain that there should be no confusion about the state of affairs in Russia. The aim of the S.P.G.B. is to see Socialism established everywhere but our propaganda for Socialism is hampered by the belief, held by some people, that Socialism means the kind of social arrangements that existed in Russia under Stalin and exist still. There is no truth in this whatsoever. There is no Socialism (or Communism) in Russia, nor has there ever been.
What Russia has is a régime of dictatorship, administering what can best be described as a largely State Capitalist social system. The State apparatus is controlled by the Communist Party of Russia, the only political party that is allowed to exist in that country. Farcical so-called elections are held, but, as the workers of Russia are not allowed to form political parties of their own choice, only members of the Communist Party and those approved by them are permitted to stand at election and be elected. This is an issue by which to assess the recent talk of changed conditions in Russia. Stalin is dead and some of his actions have been repudiated but it is still the case that no political party is allowed to exist in Russia except the Communist Party. It was over 20 years ago that Stalin had to admit to some visiting Americans that in Russia “only one party, the party of the workers, the Communist Party, enjoys legality.” (“Interviews with Foreign Workers’ Delegates”. Published in Moscow 1934, p.13.)
The same idea had been pithily put still earlier by Bukharin, who declared that in Russia there is room for any number of political parties, as long as one is in power and the others in prison.
The British Communist Party has just reaffirmed its confidence in the Communist Party of Russia. Let it clearly be understood that this is a renewed declaration of support by the British Communist Party for a regime that suppresses all independent working class political activity. While this condition remains it is idle to pretend that the new rulers of Russia are showing evidence of a changeover from dictatorship to more democratic arrangements.
In asserting that there never has been Socialism in Russia the S.P.G.B. is not making a late discovery. Right from 1917 when the Communists were able to get power in Russia it has been emphasised by the S.P.G.B. that Socialism has not been established in that country.
(From editorial, Socialist Standard, May 1956)