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JFK Researchers: Communists as Sources

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Your opinion that Stalin was a "right-winger" is so far out it does not merit comment.  The fact that Trotsky may have been to "the left" of Old Joe does not make Joe a right-winger.  Mao was probably "to the left" of Nikita, but Nikita was no Republican!

Let me explain. The thing that unites people on the left is a belief in the need to develop a society based on equality. Therefore they advocate things like progressive taxation and increased state spending on health and education. These services are delivered free of charge (the services are paid for by general taxation). This is what people in Europe call the welfare state (I believe some right-wingers in America call it a “socialized state”). A good example of a left-wing administration is the Labour government between 1945-51. This was a period where wealth was redistributed in the UK. This was mainly done by progressive taxation and the establishment of the welfare state.

People on the left also favour equality between nations. They believe it is immoral that in some countries people are dying because they overeat while in other countries people are dying of hunger. Therefore, they are in favour of increased overseas aid and cancellation of debt repayments.

What people on the left are called depends largely on the country and the time they are living in. Therefore they may be described as “communists”, “socialists”, “liberals”, “progressives”, “radicals” or “social democrats”. Whatever they are called, they all want change to take place. This change involves the redistribution of wealth and political power. For example, they argue that someone who is very wealthy can “buy” politicians. In this sense they have more political power than someone who is poor. This is undemocratic and therefore urge both the redistribution of wealth and controls on the money the rich can spend on manipulating politicians.

People on the right share a different philosophy. They usually go under the title “conservatives”. In other words they want to conserve the status quo. They want the rich to keep their money and their power. Sometimes people on the right are called “reactionaries”. These people want to go further than conservatives. They want the redistribution of wealth and power towards the rich and powerful. They rarely admit to this (it is hardly a vote winner) but that is the consequence of their policies. In the UK both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair are examples of reactionaries. Bush is also a reactionary, as are of course are all the New Cons.

As left-wing policies clearly favour the majority over the minority, political philosophers in the 19th century thought that the 20th century would be dominated by left of centre governments. In some countries, for example, Sweden, this was the case. However, in most cases, it is the conservatives or reactionaries who have maintained control. Sometimes, as in Italy, Germany, Portugal and Spain in the 1920s and 1930s, they have been forced to overthrow democracy in order to maintain control.

In most cases the conservatives have used propaganda to brainwash people into believing that it is in their interest to have a government that rules for the benefit of the rich and powerful. This is done by controlling the media. As you know, except for example in the case of state owned media outlets like the BBC, newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations are controlled by the rich. These people are of course rarely in favour of the redistribution of wealth and power. Therefore they use their media power to convince people that the redistribution of wealth and power is a bad thing. This tactic is especially effective with people who are politically illiterate. Unfortunately, the number of political illiterates in the western world is growing. This convinces poor people to vote for people like George Bush. Others do not vote at all. This of course reduces their power and groups with poor voting records, such as young, working-class citizens, are as a result ignored during election campaigns.

With this background in place I will get onto Stalin. It is true that in his youth Stalin was on the left. He advocated a society based on economic and social equality. That is why he joined the communists and engaged in revolutionary political activity (Russia was not of course a democracy when Stalin was a young man so he had no option, given his political opinions, to become a revolutionary).

In 1917, it became clear that the Russian upper-classes had lost control of the country’s political system. This had happened largely as a result of Russia’s involvement in the First World War. Lenin, the leader of the Bolsheviks, realised it would be possible to take control of the government. Some members of the party, notably Rosa Luxemburg, argued against this action. Luxemburg believed that if a revolution took place without the support of the majority of the people, it would eventually develop into a dictatorship. That the old ruling class would be removed and replaced by a new ruling elite, members of the Bolshevik Party. Stalin and Trotsky also shared this view but were convinced by Lenin’s arguments and took part in the revolution.

At first Lenin brought in policies where wealth and power were redistributed. He also allowed the first democratic elections to take place. A total of 703 candidates were elected to the Constituent Assembly in November, 1917. This included Socialist Revolutionaries (299), Bolsheviks (168), Mensheviks (18) and Constitutional Democratic Party (17). The SR represented the interests of the majority of people in Russia (peasants living in rural areas). The elections showed that the Bolsheviks could not rule via a democratic system. Therefore, the Constituent Assembly was closed down and Lenin became a dictator. He continued to follow some radical policies but he was unwilling to redistribute power.

This was a system that Stalin inherited. He immediately announced a change in Lenin’s policy of trying to spread communism to the rest of the world. Stalin’s new policy was “socialism in one country”. Not that his policies had much to do with socialism. His main objective was to conserve the status quo. This meant keeping the control of the county in the hands of the Communist Party. As Rosa Luxemburg predicted, the Communist Party had become the new ruling elite. Stalin then set about purging the party of people who disagreed with his “new conservatism”. This included those people he described as “Trotskyites”. That is why George Orwell had so many problems with Stalin’s supporters in Spain.

As you can see, Stalin was a conservative and therefore on the right of the political spectrum. He might have still used the language of the left but he is to be judged by his actions and not what he said.

As someone on the left I am totally opposed to any dictator. It does not matter if they call themselves a socialist or a communist. I will judge them on their policies. Therefore, to my mind, Stalin, once in power, became a conservative. What he said about being in favour of left-wing policies when in his youth, is irrelevant.

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