Talk:Anti-Stalinist left

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the variant of Communism that developed in the Soviet Union[edit]

This phrase may be used only in derogative sense. They certainly never claimed to have built Communism. Socialism - yes (so they claimed), but not Communism. That was a dream about to happen, but it never did. I suggest changing it to regime. ←Humus sapiens ну? 13:08, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

It's done. --Inbloom2 12:04, 22 November 2006 (UTC)


After his bid to have the page deleted, Soman deleted the following words from the intro:

Whereas the term anti-communist is at once more general - in the sense of opposition to a wider variety of forms of communism (see criticisms of communism) - and more specific - in the sense that it is associated with right-wing politics, the Cold War and sometimes the moral panic of McCarthyism. The term anti-Stalinist left tends to be used in relation to those currents of the left that define themselves centrally in opposition to Stalinism, rather than anyone on the left who is critical of Stalinism.

I think this, or a better worded version of this, is essential. What do other people think? BobFromBrockley 13:36, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

A suggested re-wording:

The term anti-Stalinist left tends to be used in relation only to those currents of the left that define themselves centrally in opposition to Stalinism, rather than anyone on the left who is critical of Stalinism. The term does not have the right-wing connotations of the term anti-communist, which is associated with the Cold War and sometimes the moral panic of McCarthyism. For a wider variety of opposition to forms of communism see criticisms of communism.

BobFromBrockley 14:21, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

I object to that wording. It is first and formost a case of OR, inventing criterias for definition that doesn't necessarily exist outside wikipedia. 'Tends to be used', by whom? Secondly, the wordings about McCarthyism are highly US-centric. --Soman 16:00, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
1. McCarthyism as US-centric: that's a very valid point. Reference to Cold War would suffice to make that point anyway.
2. It is not original research at all - this is the way the term is used! Just google the phrase and see how it is used. (I'm going to add some scholarly references using the term.) If it is OR to define the term as it used, then ALL articles in wikipedia are OR. Read the definiton of OR and reconsider please.
3. I have restored social democratic/democratic socialist bullet point. This is absolutely within that part of the left regularly refered to as anti-Stalinist left - e.g. Irving Howe, younger Martin Seymour Lipset.
BobFromBrockley 16:16, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
2. The OR issue is that there needs to be some assertion, by published source if requested, of how the term is used. Interpretions of google statistics is not valid. I would appreciate a scholarly reference to the usage of the term.
3. The soc dem/dem soc bullet point added carries some factual flaws as well as pov issues. "Although many in the mainstream socialist parties were suppotive of Stalinism" is highly POV, and factually erroneous. "a significant current of the democratic socialist movement has defined itself against Stalinism." Who are/were these people? The international social democracy as a whole rejected Marxism-Leninism, with the exception of a handfull of people behind the iron curtain who of course had to pledge allegiance to the communist parties. POUM and ILP are included in another bullet point, namely 'Right Opposition'. The usage of quotation marks in "Stalinist "socialism"." is highly pov.

--Soman 16:45, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

3. For a few examples of social democrats who were huge admirers of Stalinism: George Lansbury, George Bernard Shaw, Sidney Webb, Beatrice Webb, the young Michael Foot, the young Tony Benn. These are major figures in the socialist movement, not marginal weirdos. I know more about the British left than elsewhere, but I'm sure similar examples could be given. I have no problem with editing the text to make it NPOV or remove any factual inaccuracies, but (Incidentally, I'd be willing to bet more people are familiar with the term "anti-Stalinist left" than "Right Opposition", esp as regards POUM/ILP.
2. I've started collecting some examples - I'll do this more coherently soon, but have to leave my machine in a minute. Here are some:

  • Irving Howe A Margin of Hope – An Intellectual Autobiography
    • Review at AWL site: "The predominantly Jewish CCNY students were extremely politically involved. Alcoves One and Alcove Two of the student dining area have assumed iconic status. Alcove One was the daily meeting place of the anti-Stalinist left, and Alcove Two of the Stalinists."
  • ANSON RABINBACH “Eichmann in New York: The New York Intellectuals and the Hannah Arendt Controversy” ‘’OCTOBER’’ 108, Spring 2004, pp. 97–111

By the time of the Eichmann controversy the New York intellectuals were already experiencing what the writer Paul Goodman called “the breakup of our camp.”47 They had navigated the route from the Stalinist Left to liberal anti-Communism, via a brief detour through Trotskyism during the 1930s. Their political heyday had come and gone more than a decade earlier, when as “premature” anti-Stalinists they defined the crossroads of the American Left, i.e., whether to continue to excuse the crimes of Communism for the sake of anti-fascist solidarity, or to “break ranks” with wartime philo-Sovietism, despite the “common enemy.” (p.105)

The New York intellectuals’ denouement came in 1949, when at the famous Waldorf Conference for Peace dissidents such as McCarthy, Macdonald, Norman Mailer, and Lowell took potshots at Soviet cultural functionaries such as Alexander Fedayev, producing a parting of the ways that defined their politics as a resolute anti-Stalinism. (106)

Several years earlier, in a 1948 lecture, Arendt had warned of illiberalism on the Left, expressing her disapproval of the term anti-Stalinism because it still preserved a stance of “innertotalitarian” opposition, rather than a principled one. She wrote that it “indicates no political philosophy, not even a definite stand on totalitarianism—one can very well be an anti-Stalinist and still believe in dictatorship, at least, if not in totalitarian rule.” (108)

Lionel Abel, Hannah Arendt, Daniel Bell, Saul Bellow, James Burnham, Elliot Cohen, Lewis Coser, Midge Decter, F.W. Dupee, Max Eastman, James T. Farrell, Leslie Fiedler, Clement Greenberg, Louis Hacker, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Sidney Hook, Irving Howe, Harold Isaacs, Alfred Kazin, Hilton Kramer, Irving Kristol, Seymour Martin Lipset, Eugene Lyons, Dwight Macdonald, Mary McCarthy, John McDonald, C. Wright Mills, William Phillips, Norman Podhoretz, Philip Selznick, Herbert Solow, Ben Stolberg, Harvey Swados, Diana Trilling, Lionel Trilling, Edmund Wilson… with few exceptions, the people listed above were associated with an ostensibly revolutionary "anti-Stalinist left' in the 1930s, in some cases well into the 1940s. […]Wald notes that, "simply put, without Trotskyism there would never have appeared an anti-Stalinist left among intellectuals in the mid-1930s.' There was, of course, the anticommunism of mainstream liberals and conservatives, but this had minimal intellectual attraction when capitalism was in shambles during the Depression decade. (p.1)

  • Norman Podhoretz Ex-Friends: Falling Out With Allen Ginsberg, Lionel & Diana Trilling, Lillian Helman, Hannah Arendt, and Norman Mailer The Free Press

[T]he New York intellectuals of the mid-twentieth century--or, as Podhoretz calls them, using Murray Kempton's term, "the Family"--was our best example of a tight-knit, complicatedly connected hothouse group of writers and intellectuals whose ideas changed the culture…. The Family took form in the 1930s, mainly around the founding of Partisan Review. Most of its members were Jews from working-class backgrounds, and most were ex-Communists. They came together in shared commitment to anti-Stalinist Left politics, but they were really esthetes first and political people second. Indeed, their disillusionment with Communism was over not just the Moscow trials and Stalin's alliance with Hitler, but also over the Party's insistence that its members celebrate mediocre, didactic works of art and literature and condemn great ones that didn't hew to the party line. (p.1)

Their opponents on the anti-Stalinist left and liberal anticommunists argued that the USSR was a dictatorship as brutal as Nazi Germany… The Popular Front (understood either as a movement led by the Communist Party or as a broad-based coalition of the left), the anti-Stalinist left, noninterventionists, liberal anticommunists, and New Dealers, among others, have each had their acolytes and their detractors among historians… There were many ideological splits within this left. Among the most salient of these divisions—both in later decades and for the purposes of this study—was the division between the Communist Party and its sympathizers on the one hand and the anti-Stalinist left on the other… The non-Stalinist (or anti-Stalinist) left was smaller, but even more variegated. Its ranks included Marxist-Leninists who contended that Stalin had betrayed the Russian Revolution: Trotskyists and quasi-Trotskyists, among them many intellectuals associated with the Partisan Review in the late 1930s and the 1940s; Lovestoneites, who were associated with the Bukharinite critique of Stalinism; and a variety of independent Marxist thinkers. Many, like the young Sidney Hook, left, or were expelled from, the CP during the ideological warfare of the 1920s and early 1930s and later drifted in and out of various groups on the sectarian left. The non-Stalinist left also included individuals and groups from other radical traditions, including the old Socialist Party, then led by Norman Thomas. Although much less visible than the Popular Front, anti-Stalinist leftists were intellectually very important in the development of the American critique of dictatorship. Many, though by no means all, of them moved steadily rightward over the course of the 1930s and 1940s.(n.p.)

  • Stephen J Whitfield Radical Evil Temple University Press Review by Alan M. Wald ‘’Reviews in American History’’ 1981 pp.260-265 (Critical description of Arendt’s r/ship to anti-Stalinist left in New York)

“in the second half of the 1930s "totalitarianism" was often employed by members of the anti-Stalinist Left who appreciated the term's ability to connect Nazi and Communist dictatorships.”

Apologies for not being more methodical and concise, but I've run out of time. BobFromBrockley 17:28, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
Some comments on the last postings:
  • The issue is not which term of 'Right Opposition' and 'anti-Stalinist left' is most known. I'd argue that 'anti-Stalinist left' is far more known by one reason, namely that the naming explains itself. 'Right Opposition' is far more complicated, as one has to known on forehand to what it was an opposition to. However, the Right Opposition is a well established historical term for a relatively coherent political movement.
  • I don't buy the argument that the main figures of anglo-saxon social democracy would have been 'huge admirers of Stalinism'. If they were, why didn't they join the communist parties?
  • Regarding the quotations, I do appreciate the effort. However, in the midst of the discussion its a bit difficult to known which quotation relates to which issue in the article text. I suppose some clarification will come later.
  • In general, it seems that the discussion focuses largely on the US political scenario, and on a grouping of New York intellectuals in particular. Perhaps a move, or a splitting of the article would be appropriate? --Soman 15:19, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
  • I have nothing against the mention of Right Opposition; I was just trying to make the point that anti-Stalinist left is a known term, with a known meaning, not a neologism.
  • The social democrats as fellow travellers point is pretty marginal. The reason I used the term fellow travellers is precisely that it captures the combination of admiration for the Soviet system AND refusal to "get their hands dirty" or submit to the discipline of the Leninist party. But that's not so important to the article - I have deleted it.
  • The quotations: the point I am making is simply that the term has a currency. I am trying to refute your suggestion that I am "inventing criterias for definition that doesn't necessarily exist outside wikipedia." In answer to your question, "'Tends to be used', by whom?", the quotations are intended to give a few examples of historians and scholars and past leftists using the term in a fairly precise and coherent way.
  • NY intellectuals: it's true that the quotes I put in yesterday are mostly about the NY intellectuals. But the term is heavily used in relation to the French political scene between the wars - where people like Boris Souveraine and Voline, with quite disparate political philosophies, published in shared platforms (see the footnotes to the recent Revolutionary History collection of Souveraine's works). I also have a biography of Frida Kahlo that uses the phrase anti-Stalinist left in relation to the Mexican scene in the late 30s, about the milieux around people like Diego Rivera, Victor Serge, Trotsky. I'll try and dig some of these out!
BobFromBrockley 16:43, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

I still find the bullet point of dem soc/soc dem problematic: 1. POUM and ILP were part of a political tendency of their own, the Right Opposition, mentioned in another bullet point. They were however, not necessarily the only prominent forces of this tendency. POUM is immortalized through literature and movies, but wasn't that significant in real life as the myths about it make it seem. Parties like KPO of Germany or the Socialist Party in Sweden were more notable on their own. In any case, a party like POUM was part of the communist tradition in a broad sense. It should not be grouped as dem soc/soc dem. 2. What is the linkage between POUM/ILP and the NY folks? The US Right Opposition was the Lovestoneites. Was there a linkage between them? If not, the NY should perhaps have a bullet-point of their own. 3. The international Social Democracy as a whole rejected ML. The examples mentioned are not really the most notable ones. I fact none of the examples are particularily typical for social democracy in post wwii era. Also the last sentence doesn't really reflect the character of the rejection of communism by the social democrats (which was a far more complex issue). I personally feel that, for the sake of delimitation of the article, leave out the social democrats. In many countries, the Social Democrats are seen as part of the Centre-Left and not the Left. USA, in this case, is an exception in the sense that the left as a whole never became part of the political mainstream. --Soman 17:31, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

OK, how would you feel if it said "democratic socialists" without the "social democrats"? The ILP were not part of the Right Opposition were they? There were significant contacts between Orwell and the NY intellectuals (he wrote a column, I think, for Partisan Review - Alan Wald has an essay about this in one of his book). There were also significant links between the ILP and the Shactmanites and other "third camp" Marxists after WWII. But equally significantly, Orwell, Souveraine, Serge and others represent close connections between socialist and Marxist anti-Stalinists and the anarchist movement (see the book George Orwell and the Anarchists). I wish I had more time to write this up more solidly, but I have edited the democratic socialist bullet point - see what you think. BobFromBrockley 10:22, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Given this debate, and The Four Deuces comment on Labour Party below, I think it is important that the "social democracy" bit is removed. BobFromBrockley (talk) 11:20, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

Ante Ciliga?[edit]

I think that he should be definitely removed from the list of important figures in the anti-Stalinist left. Although he initially was a Communist and a sympathizer of Left Opposition (he was even arrested by GPU and sent to gulag), during the WWII he supported Croatian Nazi collaborators Ustaše. At several times he claimed that he had jettisoned his former Marxist ideology and converted to typical nationalism. After the war he continued to cooperate with Croatian ultra-nationalist emigres. Also, his book "Sam kroz Evropu" is basically an anti-Semitic pamphlet, and it is widely popular among Croatian revisionist historians. You should take a look at his obituary:

and a report on historical revisionism in Croatia from Searchlight Magazine: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:29, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

I think the Revolutionary History obit eloquently makes the case for his inclusion here, despite his later non-left-wing views, precisely in terms of his importance and influence in shaping the anti-Stalinist left: "In reading this chapter of Ciliga’s book [Au Pays du Grand Mensonge (In the Country of the Great Lie; in English The Russian Enigma] it is important to realize not only the impact these "revelations" had on the anti-Stalinist milieux of the 1930s, but also the more recent influence they would have in the aftermath of the 1960s revival of the radical left. Ciliga’s description of a Russian working-class movement that rejected the Leninist dictatorship and viewed the Trotskyists as part and parcel of a counter-revolutionary bureaucracy eloquently answered the questioning and yearnings of certain young revolutionaries of an anarchist and ultra-leftist persuasion in France, Spain, and elsewhere, as is reflected in Bourrinet’s study." BobFromBrockley (talk) 12:37, 6 January 2009 (UTC)


The recent addition of Lenin to the list is highly problematic. Its hardly a secret that followers of Stalin and Trotsky traditions have extensive claims that they represent the legacy of Lenin and their opponents being anti-Leninist. Introducing Lenin to the list is a pov tilt, essentially stating 'Trotsky was right'. It is not the task of wikipedia to judge these disputes or produce outcomes of ongoing debates, but give encyclopediatic details on them. The notion that the 'testament' is the same as to say that Lenin was 'anti-Stalin' is a bit far-fetched. --Soman (talk) 18:40, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't claim to be in any "tradition." In his testament, Lenin called for Stalin to be removed. That is clearly anti-Stalin, and it is absurd to claim otherwise. Stalin went on to censor Lenin's works that contradicted Stalin's own policies. -- (talk) 18:50, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
But there were also times in which Lenin and Trotsky stood at opposing ends of political debates. The notion of beloning to the 'Anti-Stalinist left' has to be an indicator of a major part of the political life of a person, simply voicing concerns of the leadership style of Stalin at one's deathbed (supposing that the Testament is historically accurate) isn't a qualifying factor. --Soman (talk) 19:08, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Suggesting that the Testament is a fake isn't an argument. According to the Wikipedia article, it is a genuine document from the hand of Lenin. Lenin's call for Stalin's removal shows an absolute opposition to Stalin. Lenin is therefore anti-Stalin. Also, see Vladimir_Lenin#Censorship_of_Lenin_in_the_Soviet_Union -- (talk) 12:17, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
Such an assessment would be original research. If you want to include a controversial claim like this in the article, it needs a reference. --Soman (talk) 13:37, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
No it wouldn't and it isn't a "claim", it is written down in black and white by Lenin himself in his Testament. -- (talk) 14:06, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
precisely the definition of Original Research. In wikipedia its not ok to use arguments like 'since X says Y, I conclude that X is of position Z'. You need a reference, from a reputable source, and make a wording like 'According to B, the position of X was Z'. --Soman (talk) 14:12, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
What rubbish. Your argument lacks basic logic. How could calling for Stalin's removal not be anti-Stalin? -- (talk) 14:16, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
You might be aware that there are others who in the communist movement who disagree with the notion of discontuity between Lenin and Stalin. If they were invited to the debate, they would have arguments for their case. Its not the task of wikipedia to act as arbitrator in such disputes, the task of wikipedia is mirroring the debates as they exist. If the notion that Lenin was anti-Stalin had been universally accepted by historians across the political spectrum it would have been a different case. Contemporary bourgeois historians rather try to put emphasis on the continuity between Lenin and Stalin. Lastly, who can one talk of 'Stalinism' during Lenin's lifetime? The term is coined far after Lenin's death, and Stalin was by no means fully in control whilst Lenin was alive. Disagreements with Stalin on leadership issues and in some theoretical debate cannot be equated with 'anti-stalinism'. --Soman (talk) 14:38, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
There is no debate here. And don't try to bolster your argument by quoting anti-communists who are trying to discredit Lenin by associating him with Stalin's policies. -- (talk) 14:45, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
No debate? Try [1] for a starter. --Soman (talk) 14:51, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
What a pointless link. Harpal Brar is the leader of a tiny Stalinist cult. From his Wikipedia entry: "He, along with his daughter Joti Brar, is an active member of the Stalin Society, the website of which contains articles denying the Katyn Massacre [5] the Ukrainian Famine (Holodomor) [6] and the Stalinist show trials [7] which they variously blame on Germans, dismiss as propaganda, and describe as fair process." -- (talk) 14:54, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
The point is that the notion of Lenin being anti-Stalin is not universally accepted in the communist movement. Brar belongs to a minority tendency, but so does the trotskyists. The majority or mainstream of the communist movement never accepted the notion that Lenin would have been explicitly anti-Stalin. --Soman (talk) 15:06, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
What do you define as the "mainstream" of the communist movement? In Britain the Trotskiysts (SWP, etc.) are by far the biggest grouping, whereas Brar's grouping is almost non-existent (not to mention that he is Stalinism's answer to David Irving). -- (talk) 15:14, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
A tad anglo-centric perhaps? Compare the British SWP with the Indian CPI(M) for example. --Soman (talk) 15:18, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't think it is for you or anyone else to determine who is "mainstream" and who isn't. -- (talk) 15:21, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
Trying to withstand the urge of entering into a sandbox argument here, but yourself seems quite keen to judge who's opinion is valuable and who's isn't. --Soman (talk) 15:28, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
No, I'm interested in dealing with facts here, not opinions. -- (talk) 15:30, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
But you haven't presented any references at all for your argument. --Soman (talk) 15:36, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
Lenin's Testament is more than adequate. -- (talk) 15:37, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
For this discussion to move forward, you need to study WP:OR. --Soman (talk) 16:07, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Merge article[edit]

This article has the same major source and overlaps with The New York Intellectuals (The New York Intellectuals: The Rise and Decline of the Anti-Stalinist Left from the 1930s to the 1980s, by Alan M. Wald, 1987. They should be merged.

I know that the "Anti-Stalinist left" is broader than described in the book, but it's original research to try to define it in an article. As one editor mentioned, some Labour Party members supported Stalin, and I would distinguish between anti-Stalinist and anti-Communist or non-Communist. The Four Deuces (talk) 11:41, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Completely disagree. Scope of NY intellectuals is much more limited. Term anti-Stalinist left is widely used, as citations above show: it is not OR to define it based on such citations. (Admittedly, article absolutely needs such citations worked in.) Not sure of relevance of what you say about Labour: article does not mention Labour Party. BobFromBrockley (talk) 11:17, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

Difference in terms[edit]

What is the difference between being "anti-Stalinist" and being "Anti-Stalinist Left"? Anti-Stalinist redirects to here. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:49, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

The anti-Stalinist "left" was historically unique because it encompasses people who might have sympathized (to degrees) with communism but disagreed with Stalin's apparent moves towards authoritarianism. Those who opposed Stalin from "the right", I think, simply viewed Stalin as an extreme incarnation of communism, which they were already anti. Not sure whether that redirect is valid, although it's possible that most folks looking for "anti-Stalinist" are in fact looking for "anti-Stalinist left". groupuscule (talk) 21:37, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Dear Friends, the redirect is not valid et all, even Your above comments has the clues to this !! There is a big-time difference between the terms: "Anti-Stalinist" and "Anti-Stalinist Left". To Me, the redirect is strictly "preposterous"; and may have been made to suit the propaganda of the "Ruling class" or might be an "extremely silly" mistake by someone who does not have enough grip over the subject ?! -- Abstruce (Talk) 17:26, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

Deng Xiaoping?[edit]

I question whether Deng Xiaoping can be classified as a member of the anti-Stalinist left. His main efforts seem to be towards allowing a market economy to function in China, not political liberalization. What do other editors think? Ghostofnemo (talk) 00:40, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

One of the principles of Deng Xiaoping thought is "Upholding Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought". Mao was a "Stalinist", not in the sense of being a follower of Stalin, but in the sense that he advocated an extremely authoritarian form of socialism. Ghostofnemo (talk) 02:01, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Repeated deletion of Fidel Castro from lead[edit]

The reliably sourced reference to Fidel Castro in the list of authoritarian leaders has been repeatedly deleted from the lead. Please explain why you are doing this. Two reliable sources were given to support this. The anti-Stalinist left is obviously opposed to other Stalinist regimes, but also to all Marxist-Leninist police states that use Stalinist tactics. Ghostofnemo (talk) 00:55, 7 March 2014 (UTC)