Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 30, 2019

The Hitler-Stalin pact, Reconsidered

Filed under: Counterpunch,Poland,Stalinism — louisproyect @ 3:11 pm

Stalin and Ribbentrop shaking hands after the signing of the pact on August 23, 1939

On August 26th, an article titled “The Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 23, 1939: Myth and Reality” appeared on CounterPunch. It made many useful points about the right of the USSR to conclude a non-aggression pact with any capitalist nation in light of the invasion that nearly destroyed it in the early 1920s. While Cold War scholarship, including its most recent incarnation in a book like Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, tries to draw parallels between Stalin and Hitler as totalitarian monsters, it was in the interest of humanity to preserve what was progressive about Soviet society despite the clique that ruled from the top.

In an article titled “The USSR in War”, written just after the Hitler-Stalin pact was concluded, Leon Trotsky laid out the differences between the two rulers succinctly: “Right now Hitler is the ally and friend of Stalin; but should Hitler, with the aid of Stalin, come out victorious on the Western Front, he would on the morrow turn his guns against the USSR. Finally Chamberlain, too, in similar circumstances would act no differently from Hitler.”

Unfortunately, Pauwels’s article is an expression of the neo-Stalinist apology for the Soviet Union’s external policy and does not take into account the negative aspects of Stalin’s policy in Europe that helped Hitler and ruined the Communist movement. Also, it shows all the shortcomings of a purely geopolitical analysis of the contradictions of the international policy of capitalist-imperialist and Stalinist countries.

By Louis Proyect and Pawel Szelegieniec

(Paweł Szelegieniec is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. His research interests focus on Marxist political economy and history of workers’ and Communist movement.)

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  1. Stalin did the best he could for the security of the Soviet peoples. Unfortunately disgruntled ex communists objectively subverted Soviet efforts to unify nonfascist nations against Hitler. But Trotsky did get the point, at his end.

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    Comment by halborn — August 30, 2019 @ 3:20 pm

  2. What are you saying, dickhead? That Trotsky deserved to have an icepick driven into his skull? You really are political scum, aren’t you.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 30, 2019 @ 3:44 pm

  3. Louis, I wanted to thank you for writing this. I had read the original ‘Myth and Reality’ article on Counterpunch and hoped someone would pen a response, thanks again.

    Comment by S M Johnson — August 31, 2019 @ 2:55 am

  4. hey louis, how’s your graphic novel coming? you finished yet?

    Comment by Serge — September 1, 2019 @ 7:13 am

  5. The graphic novel is done. I am prevented from publishing it, however, by Harvey Pekar’s hateful wife.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 1, 2019 @ 5:31 pm

  6. Stalin “ruined the communist movement”… but Trotsky who waged war against the Mahkonovist peasants in Ukraine, physically attacked the Krondstat workers and sailors, and pushed for “the militarization of labour”, and Lenin who outlawed factions and free speech for workers, cancelled election results, turned the workers councils into meaningless rubber stamps, and reintroduced capitalism via the NEP are heroes? LOL

    Comment by Don — September 2, 2019 @ 6:36 am

  7. Don, are you some kind of anarchist or something? I only ask because you also defended Brexit in another comment, a measure that scum like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have been pushing.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 2, 2019 @ 2:07 pm

  8. Anyone who says that Trotsky “physically attacked the Kronstadt workers and sailors” clearly wasn’t there.

    Comment by David Stevens — September 3, 2019 @ 4:04 am

  9. Were you there David? You must be pretty old, LOL!

    I defend the right of the people to decide, whether or not I agree with what they decide. That’s called democracy.

    17 million voted for Brexit, the biggest vote on a referendum in UK history. Do they have a right to choose, even if they’re “wrong”?

    Or is it like Chile where the US said they wouldn’t “sit back and watch a country go communist just because the people were stupid enough to vote for that”?

    Comment by Don — September 4, 2019 @ 7:15 am

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