Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

How Democracy Works - by J.V. Stalin

The coronation of Gordon Brown as British Prime Minister without the need to fight an election among the Labour Party of Great Britain brings to mind an earlier 'election victory' by Joseph Stalin of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union back in 1937. The 'election speech' to the 'voters of the Stalin Electoral Area' in Moscow is online in full here. In it Stalin stressed the importance of 'universal, equal, secret and direct' elections but went on to note that, despite the lack of any political opponents coming forward to challenge the C.P.S.U., 'our universal elections will be carried out as the freest elections and the most democratic of any country in the world':

Universal elections exist and are held in some capitalist countries, too, so-called democratic countries. But in what atmosphere are elections held there? In an atmosphere of class conflicts, in an atmosphere of class enmity, in an atmosphere of pressure brought to bear on the electors by the capitalists, landlords, bankers and other capitalist sharks. Such elections, even if they are universal, equal, secret and direct, cannot be called altogether free and altogether democratic elections.

Here, in our country, on the contrary, elections are held in an entirely different atmosphere. Here there are no capitalists and no landlords and, consequently, no pressure is exerted by propertied classes on non-propertied classes. Here elections are held in an atmosphere of collaboration between the workers, the peasants and the intelligentsia, in an atmosphere of mutual confidence between them, in an atmosphere, I would say, of mutual friendship; because there are no capitalists in our country, no landlords, no exploitation and nobody, in fact, to bring pressure to bear on people in order to distort their will.

No doubt those those being quietly deported to concentration camps in outer Siberia at this point - after all the heights of the Great Terror - would have attested to this 'atmosphere of mutual friendship' in the land of 'Socialism'. But there is more...

If you take capitalist countries you will find that peculiar, I would say, rather strange relations exist there between deputies and voters. As long as the elections are in progress, the deputies flirt with the electors, fawn on them, swear fidelity and make heaps of promises of every kind. It would appear that the deputies are completely dependent on the electors. As soon as the elections are over, and the candidates have become deputies, relations undergo a radical change. Instead of the deputies being dependent on the electors, they become entirely independent. For four or five years, that is, until the next elections, the deputy feels quite free, independent of the people, of his electors. He may pass from one camp to another, he may turn from the right road to the wrong road, he may even become entangled in machinations of a not altogether desirable character, he may turn as many somersaults as he likes—he is independent.

Can such relations be regarded as normal? By no means, comrades. This circumstance was taken into consideration by our Constitution and it made it a law that electors have the right to recall their deputies before the expiration of their term of office if they begin to play monkey tricks, if they turn off the road, or if they forget that they are dependent on the people, on the electors.

This is a wonderful law, comrades. A deputy should know that he is the servant of the people, their emissary in the Supreme Soviet, and he must follow the line laid down in the mandate given him by the people. If he turns off the road, the electors. are entitled to demand new elections, and as to the deputy who turned off the road, they have the right to blackball him. (Laughter and applause.) This is a wonderful law. My advice, the advice of a candidate to his electors, is that they remember this electors' right, the right to recall deputies before the expiration of their term of office, that they keep an eye on their deputies, control them and, if they should take it into their heads to turn off the right road, get rid of them and demand new elections. The government is obliged to appoint new elections. My advice is to remember this law and to take advantage of it should need arise.

One wonders how Stalin would have felt had any of the 'electors' of the 'Stalin Electoral Arena' actually tried to use the 'right to recall' but oddly, it seems no-one ever felt Stalin was playing any 'monkey tricks' or had ever forgotten for one moment his dependence on the people...at least no-one who lived to tell the tale...



At 7:36 am, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Unfortunately in Russia, at about 1924 Stalin would beat Trotsky in an election. He was the moderate.


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