Soviet Union, China and other Stalinisms - reading guide

Further reading guide about "state socialist" countries. Unlike many books on Stalinist societies, these texts emphasise struggles from below:


Aufheben, 'What was the USSR?' Part I: Trotsky and state capitalism; Part II: Russia as a non-mode of production; Part III: Left communism and the Russian revolution; Part IV: Towards a theory of the deformation of value.

From the Russian revolution of 1917 to Stalinist totalitarianism - Agustín Guillamón

A historical essay on the transition from Russian Revolution of the Soviets to bureaucratic dictatorship under Stalin, with special emphasis on the period extending from the February Revolution to the period of War Communism.

From the Russian Revolution of 1917 to Stalinist Totalitarianism – Agustín Guillamón


Joe building: The Stalin memorial lecture - Jonathan Meades

Sketch of the proposed Stalinist Skyscraper

A sequel of sorts to Jerry Building this time examining Stalin and the Soviet Union.

First broadcast in 2006 this documentary examines the influence and importance of Soviet architecture during the Stalin years and its role in codifying the regimes ideology.

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How the NKVD framed the POUM - Jesús Hernández

The following text is taken from the memoirs of Jesús Hernández, published in 1953 in Mexico as Yo fuí un ministro de Stalin (I Was a Minister of Stalin). The memoirs have never been translated in full to english. The sections reproduced below are about the stalinist persecution and suppression of the POUM. They were originally serialised during 1953 in Labor Action, the US socialist paper published by Max Shachtman’s Workers Party.

WHEN I ARRIVED at the ministry, Cimorra handed me a small closed envelope. Inside was a card. I read: ‘Dear friend: If you have nothing more important to do, I expect you for tea at six in the evening. I must speak to you urgently. Greetings, Rosenberg.’ I had spoken with the Soviet ambassador only a few times. Almost always I had visited him about some celebration or official reception.

November 1989: The working class trapped under the Velvet Tricolour

Kolektivne Proti Kapitalu's analysis of the working-class and Stalinism's demise in the Czech Republic with the Velvet Revolution.

In 2009, when the pamphlet was originally published, KPK wrote:

Stakhanovism and the British workers

Alexei Stakhanov

Marie Louise Berneri's article on Stakhanovism and other methods imposed on workers in order to squeeze more productivity and profit out of them for the Soviet and British war economies. Written in 1942 and reprinted in The Left and World War 2: Selections from the Anarchist Journal 'War Commentary' 1939-1943.

War brings the need for increased production and maximum effort on the part of the workers. This is what all the propaganda nowadays tries to impress on the workers. Since Russia has come into the war it is not surprising therefore that the Russian worker should be given as an example to the British workers in order to induce them to produce more.

Review: Revolution and counterrevolution: Class struggle in a Moscow metal factory and worker resistance under Stalin: Class and revolution on the shop floor

A review of two books on the topic of working class responses to Stalinism in the USSR.

Kevin Murphy, Revolution and Counterrevolution: Class Struggle in a Moscow Metal Factory, International Studies in Social History Series (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005).

Jeffrey J. Rossman, Worker Resistance under Stalin: Class and Revolution on the Shop Floor (Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 2005).

The strange story of Nikolai Starostin, football and Lavrentii Beria

An article by Jim Riordan in the journal Europe-Asia Studies describing the fate of Nikolai Starostin, a man who captained his country at soccer and ice hockey, founded the Spartak Sports Society, managed it and the Soviet national soccer team - and who spent ten years as a political prisoner in Stalin's labour camps.

Starostin lived to tell the tale (he enjoyed his 90th birthday in Moscow in 1992). To the extent that sport is universal, the popular acclaim accorded it by fans and even political leaders saved Starostin's life at a time when military and political leaders, poets, artists, engineers and scientists lost theirs.

Communism has not yet begun - Claude Bitot

First published in 1995 in France: Section One, “The Historical Balance Sheet” includes chapters on: communist movements throughout history; Marx and Engels and communism; “Real” vs. “Formal” domination of capital and the importance of this distinction for understanding the failure of the old workers movements (capitalism was not “obsolete” prior to 1945). Section Two, “Perspectives”, contains an extensive discussion of: the economic roots of capitalism’s current crisis (the “final stage of its cycle”); the communist revolution; and socialism.

Communism Has Not Yet Begun – Claude Bitot

Author’s Preface to the Spanish Edition