Chinese defence of Stalin – what’s that about?


It is complicated, and a far from comprehensive treatment of the broad issue that follows looks at some aspects of the anti-revisionist responses that were intertwined with consideration of the dominant leader in the era of building socialism in the Soviet Union.

Khrushchev’s evaluation of the Soviet era, broadly contained in reports to the 20th and 22nd Congress of the CPSU, contained a mixture of contemporary strategic considerations and historic judgements. The contentious question of Stalin, discussed under the rubric of “Cult of personality” evoke a variety of responses throughout the international movement.

As the struggle unfolded in the different arenas following the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, it became clearer that the lines of demarcation drawn by the parties in the international communist movement were not simply disagreements or the case of different perspectives based on divergent national experiences; within the Soviet leadership, nurtured under Stalin, there was a body of ideas and policies that formed an assault on what had gone before.  A critical engagement with the Soviet past became politically impossible given the nature of judgements unleashed by Khrushchev’s relentless condemnation of his dead leader.  A blanket defence, without relinquishing points to one’s opponents, saw sharp polemic lines emerge in both the arguments around de-stalinisation and the course of the international communist parties.  The tensions simmered within the movement, and the eventual split that emerged around 1963 marked an ideological watershed that subsequently is treated inconsequently, simply as a matter of history, ………………


[1] 1956

Made without warning or consultation with other parties, Khrushchev’s attack on Stalin in secret session, saw a  well documented Albanian and Chinese opposition emerge. [1]



[2] 1963

When the Chinese leadership published a  Second Comment on the Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU,  although it repeated some previous positions, there were less nuances in the best known editorials of Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) and Hongqi (Red Flag), of September 13, 1963, On The Question of Stalin.


[3] Some Quotations   moscow 1957

Below are two quotes from Mao on Stalin, the first one at latter’s 60th birthday and the second one after the commencement of the 20th CPSU Party Congress.

These two quotes illustrates why context is always important in the use of quotes, and why a case built on selective quotation is hardly a rigours manner to construct a defence.



[4] Different Roads

In contrast to the creative engagement of the Chinese leadership with the issues unleashed by the 20th Congress of the CPSU, the Russian leadership seem to be denying there were any lessons to be learnt from the Stalin era, others within the international camp – and not just the Chinese – were asking how much of the Soviet experience and of the Soviet model was universally valid and how much was a historical peculiarity that need not be repeated elsewhere?frauentag_jugoslawien_3



[5] Still Defending Stalin

Stalin’s service to the cause is actually well documented by his modern day defenders and in some case proves to be an obsessive attempt to prove every besmirch allegation upon him a falsehood. Their balanced assessment always seems to come down in his favour.  A local example is when, in London, in 1991, the Stalin Society-UK was formed as an organization whose stated goal was to refute anti- communist and anti-Stalin libels and slanders through rigorous scholarly research and vigorous debate.



[1] and


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