Sociology Index


Stalinism refers to the period from 1926 to 1953 when Joseph Stalin was leader of the Soviet Communist Party and all powerful dictator of the Soviet Union. The term Stalinism was coined by Lazar Kaganovich and refers to the political system of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin.

Stalinism claimed absolute domination of the communist party over all aspects of Soviet life, politics and culture and justified mass murder and policies of mass terror in an attempt to establish communism. Under Stalinism, the communist party itself was repeatedly purged and leading members executed, exiled or imprisoned. It is estimated that as many as 20 million people may have died in famines as a result of Stalin's policies of forced agricultural collectivisation.

During Stalinism, hundreds of thousands may have died in political purges, displacements of populations and the rigours of the vast system of prison camps established by Stalin's secret police.

The Political Economy of Stalinism: A Bergson Retrospective
Paul Gregory, University of Houston, Comparative Economic Studies (2005) 47, 402–417.

Abstract: This paper examines the nature of the Soviet dictatorship – Stalin and the Politburo – in the 1930s using some of the propositions put forward by Abram Bergson and by other participants in the socialist controversy – Hayek, Mises, and other contributors. Four models of dictatorship are examined using the top level records of the Soviet dictatorship from the Soviet state and party archives to examine how the dictator made decisions and with what results.

Stalinism: Criticism from Yugoslavia - Colin Barker
Extract From International Socialism (1st series), No.67, March 1974, p.32.
Stalinism, Stojanovic argues, converted Marx’s thought into ‘the ideology of a new stage of pre-history’. However much the Stalinists sought to ‘protect’ Marxism from bourgeois deformations, they themselves represented a negation of Marxism.
Stalinism sees the essential changes resulting from the socialist revolution as being in the spheres of ‘material and cultural construction’ rather than in social relationships themselves. There are no structural or other contradictions in the new society for them. If there are ‘problems’, these derive from ‘hangovers’ from the pre-revolutionary period. ‘The humanness of productive and other relations among people was the criterion of social progress for Marx,’ but for the Stalinists the basic measure of socialism becomes the development of the forces of production, understood statistically, in terms of increased rates and quantities of output of goods.
The concept of ‘alienation’ provides Stojanovic and his colleagues with a key entry point for their critique of Stalinism. It is important for the drawing of the ‘theoretical boundary’ that separates the socialist and the Stalinist state. For alienation, which in Marx is linked to the institution of private property, is a characteristic of societies like Stalinist Russia where, in formal legal terms, private property has been largely abolished.

Stalinism as the Ideology of State Capitalism
Charles Bettelheim, Bernard Chavance, Charles Bettelheim, Bernard Chavance
Review of Radical Political Economics, Vol. 13, No. 1, 40-54 (1981)
The Soviet ideological formation of the Stalin period was closely linked with the class struggles and the economic and social transformations of that period. This article examines two major themes running through the some times contradictory ideology of Stalinism: 1) "state socialism" as a political ide ology, and 2) the "socialist mode of production" as an economic ideology. On the first theme, the reinforcement of the state was identified with the reinforce ment of socialism. The denial of social contradictions was combined with praise for the dictatorial apparatus. "Workerism" meant that certain pretended qual ities of workers (discipline, self-sacrifice) were used as a means of repression and that the existence of a "worker base" was seen as a guarantee of the party's revo lutionary character.