The Political Thought of Joseph Stalin: A Study in Twentieth-Century Revolutionary Patriotism

By Erik Van Ree | Go to book overview

5

Stalin

The years before October

When Joseph Stalin was suggested for membership of the commission to formulate a new party program at the Seventh Party Congress in 1918, it was objected that he had never written any articles of programmatic significance. Only when the chairman pointed to his writings on the national question was he voted in. 1 The revolutionary activities and writings of Stalin in the period before the October Revolution are a subject worthy of attention in themselves, but for the development of the Stalinist doctrine, which is the proper subject of the present book, his work on the national question was most significant. What is more, nationalism seems to have been the first important influence shaping the later Stalin’s political thought.

Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, the later Stalin, was born in 1878 in the small Georgian town of Gori, the son of a leather worker and a washer-woman. He grew up under very poor circumstances but as a bright child managed to enter the local church school. He completed it successfully in 1894, whereupon he was admitted to the Tbilisi theological seminary to receive an education as a priest. In 1899, Iosif was expelled from this institution, without having completed the course. During his days at the seminary, the future Stalin was at first involved with the Georgian nationalist movement. That appears from his earliest publications, the six poems he wrote in 1895 and 1896. The first five were published in the Georgian nationalist journal Iveriia, edited by the celebrated writer Il’ia Chavchavadze. The last one appeared in Kvali, a weekly established by Georgii Tsereteli, a liberal nationalist, who favoured the introduction of industrial capitalism and democracy in Georgia.

Chavchavadze resented industrialism, but he was no conservative. The writer was a typical representative of nineteenth-century cultural nationalism. His overriding aim was the rebirth of Georgia as a cultural nation, which in the long run was supposed to create the condition for Georgian independence. Culture provided a focus of broad national unity and epitomised the country’s spiritual and material development. Chavchavadze expected much of popular education. In order to promote a cultural renaissance among the peasantry, he established the so-called Society for the Spread of Literacy among the Georgians, which ran a network of schools,

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The Political Thought of Joseph Stalin: A Study in Twentieth-Century Revolutionary Patriotism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Jacobinism 18
  • 2 - Marxism, Leninism and the State 25
  • 3 - Proletarian Revolution in a Backward Country 37
  • 4 - Marxist Nationalism 49
  • 5 - Stalin 58
  • 6 - The Years under Lenin 73
  • 7 - Socialism in One Country 84
  • 8 - Stalin’s Economic Thought 96
  • 9 - The Sharpening of the Class Struggle 114
  • 10 - Total Unity 126
  • 11 - Stalin and the State 136
  • 12 - The Cult of Personality 155
  • 13 - Stalin on Society, Culture and Science 169
  • 14 - Socialist in Content, National in Form 190
  • 15 - Did Stalin “Betray the World Revolution?” 208
  • 16 - Revolutionary Patriotism 230
  • 17 - The Philosophy of Revolutionary Patriotism 255
  • Conclusion 273
  • Notes 288
  • Bibliography 335
  • Index 359
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