It has come to my understanding that Stalin was noted as a "third-rate intellectual" amongst his colleagues and comrades, and mostly well known, essentially, as a criminal.
However, he penned quite a few articles, few being an understatement, and was able to address readers and inform on such events as the revolution, which Trotsky called "Dull comments on brilliant events," in an attempt to discredit Stalin.
I just wonder, was it really his want for power and consolidation that he clearly created since his authority, by the 1930's, was quite evident amongst the comrades. He was the all powerful.
Stalin was much more than just a "dull bureaucrat", but can he be considered an intellectual? Or did his need for power, and concentration, regardless of any hint of intellectualism, drive him to the top?
Партия всегда права.
Die Partei hat immer recht.
The Party is always right.
I'm not too familiar with Stalin's theoretical works,but i get the impression that he really wasn't a "first grade marxist intellectual".
But those more informed can state their opinions.
False.Just read some works of prominent Bolsheviks-the choice of words and the general tone of discussion makes it seem like that they were mortal enemies,instead of a close group of revolutionaries.
Bolsheviks were really harsh in their criticism(take Lenin for example,and the way he dismisses the ones who strayed from Marxism ),but i doubt Trotsky did that do intentionally discredit Stalin-it just doesn't make sense because such "tone" was normal in inner-party auto-critical debates.
Stalin was never known as a theoretician to begin with, which is exactly what I like about the man. He knew enough of the Marxist-Leninist classics to know what he was doing, and more importantly, he knew Lenin personally. But his focus was revolutionary action. Stalin was never a Menshevik.
As for being a "third rate intellectual", have a look sometimes at "Marxism and Problems of Linguistics", and make your own judgment.
Stalin wrote some excellent pieces that can be found in his Archive
He really filled out elements of theory that Lenin either didn't think of, or skipped over.
Some of my favorite Stalin pieces include:
Anarchism or Socialism? which is the work that made me decide to become a Marxist instead of an anarchist
Foundations of Leninism, a must read for any Marxist-Leninist
and of course Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, a work that adds much in the face of economic theory for Marxism-Leninism.
So far I haven't read Stalin, but I do know some Marxists have some strong issues with him, I don't think they complain of him being deficient as a thinker, but rather they take issue with his conception of Marxism, which to them is undialectical, positivist and mechanical, continuing the path laid by Bukharin (making Marxism a positive social science).
I'm just being the messenger, since I haven't read him. Those interested in his writings and on possible refutations to his writings can look to Henry Lefevre's Formal Logic, Dialectical Logic (I think it's been translated as just Dialectical Materialism, I'm not sure since I have it in Spanish). He purposely takes on the same subject matter as Stalin's Dialectical Materialism, but interprets it differently. The foreword, written 20 years after the book, and after he definitely breaks with the PCF, is much more explicit in his condemnation of Stalin's version of Marxism.
"It does not suffice to reject the error; we must overcome it, explain it and outgrow it." - Antonio Labriola
Well Stalin's poetry achieved regional notoriety in the Georgian national literary magazine entirely on its' own merits while he was still a young nobody.
The very hostile book Young Stalin contends that Stalin's literary talents are worth looking at entirely own its own merits, which is quite a compliment from a hostile source.
Now that I'm well versed in Marxism, I find Stalin's political writing a bit simplistic, but that is precisely what made him such a great teacher when I was first learning about Marxism. Stalin's popularizations are far superior to many textbook intros. His writings on philosophy were far clearer than Mao's at least for me as a beginner.
It is ironic that Stalin who deserves the most independent praise for his purely literary works was one of the least literary in his political writings when compared to Marx, Lenin, Mao and many others. But then again Stalin never attempted to create "Stalinism", so his writing do reflect the attempt to create a Leninist response to particular concrete situations. He was very effective at that, but it makes his writing dry to those interested in more than history. But since he was an activist responding to specific issues, many that we still face today, he can be useful in learning some tactical theories, and there is something to be said for his direct style as opposed to lofty lyricism. It was precisely this plainness that made him more popular to regulars than Trotsky's odes. A biography of Stalin even applauds his boring matter of fact rhetoric when compared to Hitler's emotional demagoguery. Boring speaking has its merits.
See this article-
http://marxistleninist.wordpress.com/20 ... ph-stalin/
Irrespective of whether or not he was an intellectual, Stalin's works speak to the common man alot more effectively than those written by any of the other Bolsheviks. By which I mean Unlike Lenin, Trotsky or Bukharin's stuff, I can quite casually dip into Stalin's work with pleasure.
Stalin understood that when communicating Socialist ideals, direct is best. We're not trying to educate a roomful of physicists here. Leave the poetry to the professors, and say what you mean. Don't leave yourself open to misinterpretation. Use simple words, and as few as possible. That's the way it has to be to reach the broad masses. After all, this ain't art, this is agitprop. Everything in its proper place, with its proper proportions.
The problem with Lenin and Marx is too much flowery prose, not so much complexity imo. Physicists would prefer reading Stalin's writing style.
Have any of you here read Stalin the court of the Red Tsar or Young Stalin? Although the books are quite anti-stalin the authour dispells the myth that Stalin was not as intellectual as some of his contempories. Where Trotsky would scream and shout about how clever he was, Stalin would go about this quite modestly. Stalin, I believe, didnt take power because of his ruthless ambitions, but because he could charm people which Trotsky could never do. I mean that STalin did not come accross to his comrades in the early days as over bearing. It is now believed that ordinary workers preferd his personal touch over that of Trotskys.
Also did you know that in his youth Stalin was a minor poet in Georgia? He kept that up all his life!
Thier is such a party!"
"Есть такая партия!"
And this is why Stalin can be rated first-rate as getting his message across the most effectively over a wide spectrum of people.
That's a ridiculous overstatement. It's an okay book, but nothing more than that.
What do you think about Stalin's The questions of Leninism?
I haven't read it myself yet.
Iron Felix wrote:Both pretty interesting books - well worth reading.
Iron Felix wrote:The thing about it was that Trotsky intimidated people with his boundless talent and superiority. He might not have been the best person to lead a state based on the equality of all men. There was a well known story of him getting impatient with various party members and Molotov saying to him something along the lines of "We can't all be geniuses Comrade Trotsky". I guess they didn't feel like Stalin lorded it over them in the same way that Trotsky did.
Lenin himself was easily the equal of (or superior to) Trotsky, and he was never accused of making those around him feel threatened by his "superiority". Lenin possessed the gift of a radiant personality along with his intellectual and political mastery, whereas Trotsky was much less socially magnetic, and more nakedly impatient with those of "average" intelligence. You can't lead the People's State if you can't make time for the foibles and hesitations of the common mass of man.
They (Lenin and Trotsky) were very different personalities with very different talents and flaws. While Lenin might have been a great theoretician, I don't think he demonstrated the literary talent evident in Trotsky's biographical, historical and literary writings.
My main point was that it was understandable that Trotsky might have rubbed many people the wrong way - alienating them in the process.
Order227 wrote:Well you certainly need to be tolerant and understanding of human weaknesses if you want to be a successful leader who doesn't project an air of superiority and condescension. This was an ongoing problem for Trotsky - even in exile he gave his few supporters (and especially his children) a hard time when they failed to measure up to his high standards. Considering how much hardship they endured in support of him, he probably could have been a little more considerate and sympathetic.
Yeah. What Order says is also the reason why Stalin's works are really good as a whole. Very much unlike Trotsky, Stalin doesn't feel he has to use ultra-intelligent vocabulary and syntax. Unlike so many other theoretical works, including das Kapital, which occasionally come across as an attempt to show off their author's intelligence rather than to make a clear and concise point, Stalin's works are simple and easy. Everybody can understand them. A kid of 14 years (no offense if you're reading this, willt) could easily attain a solid Leninist theoretical foundation by reading Stalin. I've often heard that Stalin was criticized for his simple style. It was called "oversimplification and reduction for the sake of comprehensibility." I believe that this is not something to criticize him for, but rather something to respect him for. Explaining immensely complicated things in easy terms is an impressive skill. If "The Questions of Leninism" had just been a renarration of Lenin's major works, it wouldn't be nearly as good.
I try to stick by this saying when ever I talk to people about something technical. "If you can't explain it in simple terms, you probably don't know what you're talking about". Apparently Stalin had a similar belief and it isn't something to criticise him for.
I often thought about whether this "simplification" of theory leads to a more "shallow/vulgar" approach to Marxism and dialectical materialism or not.
I like simplification. It is something I have to work toward in my writing. Ultra intelligent vocabulary and syntax, as Mabool said, is often a cover for an author's pompous attempts to show off his intelligence. That's one of the reasons I don't like many modern Marxist philosophers, especially when they get into that post-modernist bullsh*t.
I also want to voice my opinion that calling Stalin a third rate intellectual comes off to me as an attempt to demean and delegitimize his leadership more broadly. I've read a lot of Russian liberal attacks on Soviet leaders, and one of the most common tactics is the proclamation that apart from Lenin, none of them were well-educated, and hence they were unfit to run the country and to solve its problems. Stalin may not have been well educated, but I conceive that based on what appears to be a broad base of knowledge and on what he was able to achieve as leader that he was a genius (like Churchill could be said to be a genius, although Churchill used his natural gifts to promote conservative interests). To me this comes off best in analyzing things like his discussions with comrades, and from interviews with foreign journalists and writers (ex. H.G. Wells). The way he is able to formulate and then to defend his positions is not something that comes naturally to just anybody.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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