THE men who have been ruling the Soviet Union since Stalin's death are epigoni, "sons," after-comers. They owe their power to an apostolic succession and style themselves disciples of Lenin and comrades-in-arms of Stalin. The structure and dynamics of their rule is dictated by the same philosophy, incorporated in the same single-party-police state; it continues to be totalitarian in scope and aim, it is engaged in the same unending war on its own people, the same drive to reshape and control the globe. Still, they are new men, younger men, men with different formative backgrounds, and their régime has a new look.

Lenin's Marxism was so different from that of the West European, nineteenth century Marx that one of Lenin's admirers dubbed it marxisme à la tartare. Lenin's associates, Trotsky, Stalin, Zinoviev, Bukharin, ten to fifteen years younger than he, still belonged to the generation that had made the revolution. After a period of feigned subordination to a "collective leadership," Joseph Stalin established his claim to be "the best disciple of Comrade Lenin." He perfected Lenin's organization machine and monopoly of the organs of persuasion and force, suppressed some of Lenin's doctrines, dogmas and hopes, retained and enlarged others, propounded some of his own. He killed off all of Lenin's close associates, surrounding himself with new and younger men, none of whom had been in Lenin's inner circle. Thus he became at one and the same time father image and voice of the epigoni: his Leninism became different from Lenin's even as the latter's Marxism had been different from that of Marx.

The Malenkovs and Khrushchevs, and men younger still, who now form the post-Stalinist "collective leadership," are the men Stalin gathered around him in his rise to personal dictatorship. They never knew the wide dreams and humane ideals of the nineteenth century intelligentsia, the feverish disputation, hope and wretchedness of the Tsarist underground, prison and exile, nor the "heroic days" of the storming of the Winter Palace and the Kremlin. They were wholly formed in the Stalinist fight for a monopoly of power, and in the iron age of forced industrialization, forced collectivization and blood purge. They were brought up not as underground revolutionaries but under the new régime of bureaucratic totalitarianism.[i]

They do not even look like the men who were Lenin's close associates. As one contemplates their pictures lined up on Lenin's, now Stalin's tomb, one cannot but be struck by the fact that they are all fleshy, solid, square and squat--"fat boys," to borrow an old "wobbly" term against labor bureaucrats. Harrison Salisbury has called our attention to a curious detail that none of them is over 5 foot 4 (Stalin's police record gives his height as 5 foot 3 and 3/4 inches)--as if they had been chosen not merely with regard to faction loyalty and party in-fighting and administrative capacity, but also that their height, spiritual and physical, should not dwarf the non-too-tall leader who had perforce to excel in all things. Actually Stalin managed to look taller than they on Lenin's tomb by having a little raised platform built under him.

There is, to be sure, a remnant of Old Bolsheviks among the new "collective leadership." But these older men, Molotov, Voroshilov, Kaganovich and Mikoyan, owe their places, indeed their very survival, to the fact that they were cronies of Joseph Stalin. Second-string figures in Lenin's day, from the outset faction adherents of Stalin rather than Lenin, they came out of the crucible of the purges refashioned, so to speak, as "new men."

What is collective about this collective leadership and will it continue to be a collective? What can the world expect will be new in the work and ways and aims of these new men who have taken over Stalin's power? And what of continuity? It is these questions that constitute the real problem of the "new look."


In theory it is conceivable that a committee-government, a Directoire, a duumvirate, triumvirate or decemvirate, can wield autocratic, dictatorial and total power. But the whole course of Soviet history, and the whole dynamic of autocracy, dictatorship and totalitarianism, are against it.

Lenin began by creating a party in which the Center selected the local committees, which in turn sent delegates to the conventions that confirmed the Center. He seized power by a minority conspiracy, drained democracy of authority by dispersing the Constituent Assembly, drained the Soviets of authority by outlawing all other parties and deciding all things in the Communist Central Committee and its Fractions, drained the Party of authority by forbidding factional controversy, the Central Committee by setting up the Politburo, and the Politburo by settling matters by telephone, direct wire and personal conversation. Inside the Politburo he never altogether sloughed off the appearance of "collegial" power; at his death he left a will in which he sought in vain to preserve that one last redoubt of collectivity.

It took close to a decade before the "collective leadership," of which Stalin appeared but to be the faithful machine wheelhorse, was openly dissolved in favor of his personal power. With his death his lieutenants are faced with the problem that in a dictatorship there is no legitimacy and no legal succession. These men have been taught in a hard school to make many moves in their head before they touch one piece on the chessboard of power. The bloody list of their dead gives them every reason to combine forces against any man who moves too fast. That they would begin their orphaned rule with the proclamation of a "collective leadership" could have been predicted.

That first holding company included Beria who was nominated by Malenkov, and Malenkov who was nominated by Beria. Within a few weeks after Stalin's death, a newspaper buildup which seemed to portend Malenkov's rise to dominant power was put a stop to by some decision of his associates, and he was "relieved" of the post of Party Secretary "at his own request." That brought Khrushchev into a top ranking position as Party Secretary. Beria's undoing came from his too rapid moves to make the secret police independent of the Party and through it to strengthen his control of certain "republican governments" and the Party machine. This aroused the fears of so many of his associates that, suddenly, they combined against him and there was one "collective leader" less. At this writing, Malenkov would appear to be out in front.[ii] But the fact that he has dropped the key organization post in which he was so long Stalin's chief assistant --the post through which Stalin himself rose to power--and that this post is now in Khrushchev's hands, suggests a temporary system of "checks and balances" on each other by the men who together hold unchecked and absolute power.

As long as the power question is not settled and the pyramid of power is without an apex, these men will jealously watch each other and make promises of reforms to their subjects. They will continue Stalin's policy of avoiding either all-out war or all-out peace. They cannot tolerate all-out peace, since the very excuse for the existence of their perpetual state-of-emergency régime is "capitalist encirclement." Like Stalin, they have two reasons for avoiding all-out war. The first is doctrinal: their central belief teaches them that they are the wave of the future, that the capitalist order is in decay, that time is on their side. The other is a readiness to risk war at the periphery, limited engagements, "calculated risks," for in their activist theory History helps only those who help Her, but not to jeopardize their power center, the loss of which in all-out war might change the course of history.

To Stalin's hesitancies they add one more: as long as the power question is not settled, they dare not put live ammunition and overwhelming force in the hands of the army, lest "Bonapartism" settle the problem of power in its own fashion. Thus we would do well to remember that their present minuscule concessions in foreign relations come not only from their calculation that they may divide the free world, isolate America, and cut off her support from some sector of Europe or Asia, but no less from recognition of their own internal weakness. "Collective leadership . . . the Party and the Government . . . the wise Central Committee"--so far they have cast about in vain for an overwhelming power symbol that can paralyze dissent, command obedience and worship in Union and Empire, such as was commanded by the Stalin cult and Stalin's word and name. The struggle may be muted and concealed, it may be long or short, it may be compromised and blunted again and again, but the whole dynamics of dictatorship cries out for a dictator, autocracy for an autocrat, militarized command and militarized life for a supreme commander, infallible government for an infallible leader, an authoritarian setup for an authority, a totalitarian state for a duce, führer, vozhd.


The Stalin cult, whose high priests these men were, has made the problem of the succession more difficult. By attributing to Stalin all successes, and to themselves and their subordinates all failures, shortcomings or unpleasant consequences, they enlarged his person until it filled the horizon, diminishing their own stature to the point of nullity.

In this swollen form, the Stalin myth was dead as soon as his body was cold. For what right did such dwarfed men have to be individual or collective dictators? Moreover, in the end they were irked by his arrogation to himself of credit for all they did, thought up, ghost-wrote for him, by the precariousness of their positions dependent entirely on the caprice of one man, by the need each day to kindle greater clouds of incense to his name. Their cold funeral addresses, concerned with programs and power, testified to the fact that he had exacted so much "posthumous tribute" while alive that there was no reserve to call on after his death. These historians of the pistol who had rewritten recent history so often and continuously in order to enlarge and glorify Stalin's works and name began immediately a fresh rewriting of history to cut him down to size--not to actual size, but to their own size, so that there could be some sense in their claim to individual or collective succession. Henceforth Lenin is the author of the great theories and the initiator of the great works, and Stalin is reduced to continuator, developer and disciple. They, for their part, are co-disciples of Lenin and comradesin-arms of Stalin, and, by virtue of membership in the same leading body, co-authors of all the theories, policies and plans hitherto called Stalinist.

Many wrongly concluded that the process would not stop until Stalin's name had been extinguished and his policies abandoned. But his orphaned disciples had no intentions of doing one or the other. They cannot extinguish his name, for what other claim do they have to rule the Soviet land except association with Stalin and discipleship to Lenin in an unbroken apostolic succession? Nor do they wish to abandon his policies, for these are in fact their policies no less than his.

In Russia, the death of a despot has always awakened a lively expectation of change. The most unlikely princelings have been endowed with gentle attributes until their acts as Tsars dispelled illusion. The greater the despotism, the greater the expectation of change. But only when the death of a despot coincided with some defeat to his system has the expectation as a rule been realized.

When Stalin died, the first reports of a nation all contracted in one brow of woe were soon replaced by more authentic reports of this general expectation of change. We now know that there was ill-concealed rejoicing, that men got drunk, that whole regiments celebrated in Germany, that even in far off Vorkuta concentration camps inmates turned their hopes into a strike for better conditions and were given concessions even as force was being used and ringleaders executed. Sweeping promises had to be made to the satellites; workingmen struck in East Germany and Czechoslovakia and stood up, unarmed, against Russian tanks. All this exerted powerful pressures upon men whose power position is unsettled and whose succession is based upon neither constitutional or hereditary legitimacy.

Nor was the free world exempt from illusion. One of Britain's leading authorities on Soviet history rushed out a book to prove that Stalin by barbarous methods had so civilized and transformed Russia that further Stalinist barbarism was impossible. Another stoutly declared that since all thinking was colored by emotion he preferred "wishful rather than despairing thinking." American writers who had once assured us that the "realist and nationalist" Stalin had put an end to Trotsky's dream of world revolution, then that "the wise old realist" was curbing the hotheads of the Politburo, now declared that Stalin had been more than a little mad and that soberer and more realistic heads were taking over power.

Even the wise and wary Churchill, two months after Stalin's death, spoke of a "new régime" and what he hoped was "a change of attitude." He who had alerted America to the Iron Curtain and the need of united defense against aggression now permitted himself to dream that the last great act of his declining years might be a fresh four-Power conference like those with Stalin and Roosevelt to settle unsettled things. On October 10 of this year he put it more soberly: "A year and a half ago, Stalin died, and ever since then I have nourished the hope that there is a new outlook in Russia, a new hope of peaceful coexistence with the Russian nation, and that it is our duty patiently and daringly to make sure whether there is such a chance or not."

In a land where secrecy and power are alike total, every smallest flutter of a leaf is likely to be magnified into the fall of forests. No longer badgered by his patron, Molotov proves a little gayer, makes fresh démarches and tries altering his formulae without stopping to call up the Kremlin--but without yielding an iota of his essential, stubbornly-held position; this is magnified into "concessions," a "new flexibility," evidence that there is real departmentalization and separation of powers. General Zhukov echoes Ambassador Bohlen's toast "to justice;" on the stubborn iteration is built an entire structure of fantasy: army independence, army paramountcy, open conflict between army and party. Khrushchev hangs back for a last word when his comrades are departing from a state banquet; this is reported as evidence that the Party Secretary is "an amiable chatter-box . . . garrulous . . . hail-fellow well met." Malenkov picks flowers for an English lady, clinks a lady's glass and toasts "the ladies," and the new Premier becomes a bashful fat boy, "full of old-fashioned grace and courtesy . . . a Little Lord Fauntleroy." Hence it becomes important to inquire how new these new men really are.

Khrushchev, the "amiable chatter-box" who now heads the party machine, began the really important part of his biography in 1929 with the great forced collectivization drive in the Ukraine and the mass liquidation of all who held back. Then in Moscow he took part in the Yezhovshchina, without garrulousness contributing his share to the organization of the great blood purge. During the war he directed partisan warfare behind the German occupier's lines, visiting punishment on waverers and collaborators. He is credited with having strengthened Russia's support among the masses by acts calculated to increase the cruelty of the Germans, and with giving orders to assassinate the gentler puppet mayors and spare the crueler ones, as the best way of inflaming opposition to the occupiers.[iii] After the war Khrushchev returned to the Ukraine as liquidator of small private land holdings, collectivizer, industrializer, Russifier and avenger. This "chatter-box" worked quietly for a year and a half, then reported that "in the past 18 months more than 50 percent of all officials" had been removed from their posts. In 1950 he opened the war on the collective farm in favor of the development of "agro-cities." There were resistance, local criticisms by Aryutinyan in Armenia and Bagirov in Azerbaijan, partial retreat. But the number of collective farms was reduced from 250,000 in 1950 to 94,000 in 1953. And when Beria fell, Aryutinyan and Bagirov, Khrushchev's critics of 1950, fell too. At the Nineteenth Congress, Khrushchev delivered the report on the revision of the party statutes which represented a further tightening of totalitarian controls. Since Stalin's death, he has become First Secretary of the Party, and heads the new drives in agriculture.

As for Premier Malenkov, he began his career as Secretary of the Communist cell of the Moscow Higher Technical School, where he gathered around him the Saburovs, Pervukhins and Malyshevs who switched like him from engineering to politics, becoming engineer-chekists, party commissars in technology and industry.[iv] It is on the entrance of these engineer-chekist associates of Malenkov into the ruling circle that so many commentators have based the contention that party rule is now giving ground to the claims of the new technocracy. But these men are instruments of party penetration into and control of technology, just as Bulganin is not a military general who has gotten into the Politburo but an agent of the party and the police made Marshal and Minister of Defense to control the army.

In 1934 Malenkov became Chief of the Department of Leading Party Organs, which had charge of placements, removals, dossiers. In the bloody years of the Yezhovshchina, he was the chief organizer of the purges in so far as they had a planned, centralized and systematic party character. As Yezhov advanced, Malenkov was made his deputy in this department, supplying the dossiers and the indications as to chain reactions when any leading official fell. In December 1937, Partiinoe Stroitelstvo, which Malenkov edited, carried the following lead editorial:

Under the leadership of the Stalinist People's Commissar, Comrade Yezhov, the Soviet Intelligence Service has inflicted merciless and devastating blows on the Fascist bandits. The Soviet people love their intelligence service . . . it is their flesh and blood. . . . The faithful guardians of Socialism, the men of the NKVD under the leadership of their Stalinist People's Commissar, Comrade Yezhov, will continue in the future to root out the enemies of the people, the vile Trotskyite-Bukharinite, bourgeois-nationalist, and other agents of Fascism. Let the spies and traitors tremble! The punitive hand of the Soviet people, and NKVD, will annihilate them! Our ardent Bolshevik greetings to the Stalinist Commissar of Internal Affairs, Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov!

The troika that planned the purges under Joseph Stalin's personal direction was made up of Malenkov, keeper of the dossiers and supplier of leads, Vyshinsky, prosecutor and impresario of staged trials, and Yezhov, apprehender, inquisitor and executioner. When the fury had run its course, Yezhov was made expiatory goat, but Malenkov and Vyshinsky were promoted. The year Yezhov disappeared, Malenkov was made head of the new Administration of Party Cadres which "keeps a strict personal register of every party member and candidate" in some 2,500,000 dossiers on standing, public and private life, friends, talents, vulnerabilities, along with dossiers on perhaps 500,000 specialists in industry and agriculture. It is this key index which Malenkov has now surrendered, reluctantly I would imagine, to Party Secretary Khrushchev. In any case, Malenkov's connection with the Yezhovshchina should help us to keep our perspective on this "Little Lord Fauntleroy."


Thanks to our penchant for personalizing and the impact even on us of the Stalin cult, we are prone to forget that Stalin did not work out his policies alone. When the informed think of the Stalinist agricultural policy, they think of Khrushchev. When they think of the Stalinist line in literature and intellectual life, they think of Zhdanov, and, after his death, of Malenkov. In short, the Stalinist leadership was also a "collective leadership," with the difference that there was one top man who must always be credited, could never be blamed, and who had the sometimes arbitrary and capricious and always decisive last word.

Finding all about them the general expectation of change, faced with uncertainty as to their own authority and structure of succession, anxious to prevent "confusion and panic" (as the funeral ceremonies declared), the henchmen of the dead dictator were glad to take advantage of the credit opened to them on the theory that they were "new" men from whom a "change" could be expected. Yet one of their prime motives in cutting Stalin down to their size was to emphasize that all of them ("the Party and the Central Committee"), not Stalin alone, were the authors of the "great" policies and doctrines. They even denied, and we know that they did so rightly, that Stalin was the author of "The Short Course," first published as the work of a collective and then arrogated to Stalin as his "Volume XVI." And we are compelled to admit that the liquidation of Beria and consorts was in the best "Stalinist" tradition.

The releasing of a few Soviet-born wives; gracious toasts at banquets; less surliness in conversation; repetition, as a rule in the self-same language, of the calculated utterances of Lenin and Stalin on "peaceful coexistence"--only on the background of Soviet truculence could this be taken as something significant. And then only if we permit ourselves to forget how many times this ebb and flow in the realization of an unchanging long-range aim has occurred before, either when internal weakness or too quick a build-up of resistance abroad, or the desire to cover an offensive with an umbrella of peace talk, has prompted Stalin to roar you gentle as any sucking dove.

This is not the place to go through the long history of "peaceful coexistence." We can trace various facets back to Lenin's declaration in October 1915 that if he got power he would propose an unacceptable peace and "prepare a revolutionary war;" to Trotsky's pronouncement two weeks after they took power ("We desire the speediest peace on the principles of honorable coexistence and coöperation of peoples; we desire the speediest overthrow of the rule of capital"); to Lenin's 1920 coexistence statement to a Hearst reporter followed the same year by a warning to the Moscow party cell leaders (kept secret till after his death) that "as long as capitalism and Socialism exist side by side we cannot live in peace;" to Litvinov's 1922 proposal of a "proportional reduction in arms" at a time when the Soviet Union was secretively arming with the aid of the Wehrmacht. The whole sequence of these utterances from the first down to Malenkov's amiable chat with Ambassador Bohlen and Congressman Wickersham while Migs were shooting down one of our planes boils down to this: divide and disarm your opponents while you work unceasingly for their destruction.

Nor is there anything these "new" men have so far done that would not accord with the last programmatic utterance on foreign policy by Joseph Stalin (in "Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.," 1952) in which he urged that through the "peace fight" they could undermine "bellicose governments," perhaps develop it into "a movement for the overthrow of capitalism," make more likely war between capitalist countries than between the non-Soviet and the Soviet worlds, and isolate the United States. ("To think that Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Japan . . . will not try to smash U.S. domination and force their way to independent development is to believe in miracles.")

The main foreign policy proposals were summed up this year by Marshal Bulganin in his speech delivered on November 7:

(1) "A collective security system in Europe," i.e. Europe with Russia but without the United States.

(2) German unification by "peaceful means," i.e. the continued disarming of Germany and the holding of "elections" such as have been proposed in Korea, and practised so resourcefully in the "peaceful unification" of all postwar satellite coalition governments.

(3) Proportionate reduction of armaments, which would leave overwhelming superiority to the heavily armed Soviet Bloc; and "prohibition of weapons of mass extermination," which would eliminate the one weapon in which the free world has superiority, without the guarantees of a fool-proof control and inspection.

The only thing one can find that is new in this third of a century of juggling with "peaceful coexistence" is that leading spokesmen of the free world are beginning to employ the term without sufficient attempt to analyze it and purify it of the corruption which infects it. Since for the free world peace is a matter of principle and for the Kremlin a calculated manœuvre, surely our spokesmen should be able to express our desire for peace in some warmer and less tarnished language. It is up to us to remember that the Kremlin's tactical manœuvres can be most flexible because they are severely disciplined by an over-all strategy and unshakeable objective of world conquest. But we can get lost in these tactical zigzags if our over-all objective is lost sight of. I cannot believe that that objective is merely to survive while peace is steadily eroded and the more vulnerable parts of the free world picked off one by one. Our idea of peace is wrapped up with justice and with freedom, and is ultimately secure only to the extent that freedom can defend itself and that peoples everywhere gain control of their governmental policies. To take these corrupt words and artful manœuvres at face value is but to add to the confusion and moral disarming which is one of its objectives.

"Peaceful coexistence" has a long history now; in the words of Santayana, "those who will not learn from history are condemned to repeat it."

Of the new line in the arts and letters it is no longer necessary to speak. After the illusions nourished by Stalin's death and the first indecisions of the new men not yet sure of their power, a Second Congress of Soviet Writers is being called that promises to be more of a strait jacket than the First Congress held two decades ago. Furious attacks on Pomerantsev for saying the obvious thing that sincerity, honesty to the truth of his own vision, is the chief virtue of the artist have been followed by rebukes and expulsion for magazine editors, condemnation of critics, expulsion of Stalin-Prize writers from the fraternity of their craft, condemnation of all who thought there was a new "thaw." Such is the atmosphere in which is being prepared a Congress which will "systematically combat any deviations from the principle of Socialist Realism . . . any attempts to direct Soviet literature away from topical questions of the policy of the Party and Soviet State . . . any attempt to substitute a moral criterion unrelated to any specific society or time for the ideological, class-social judgments universally recognized in our literature . . . which can have no other interests but those of the people, the interest of the Soviet State."


In Stalin's last and most significant theoretical work, "The Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.," published late in 1952, he lays down the prerequisites for the transformation of the present "Socialist" Russia into "complete Communism." In this work is to be found literally the whole stock of formulae on which Malenkov, Khrushchev and Company are now proceeding. Here is to be found the proposal rapidly to increase the satisfaction of consumer demand on the basis of "primacy in the production of means of production." Here is the outline of the drive to increase labor discipline on the basis of "the control over the amount of labor and the amount of consumption" until labor discipline is transformed into spontaneous self-discipline, from an "obligation into a prime necessity of life." Here, too, is the line on isolating America and promoting differences in the capitalist camp which we have already examined. The work is scrappy and fragmentary, but bears internal evidence of summing up in algebraic formulae all the trains of thought that were then actuating Stalin and his close associates.

In it Stalin distinguishes between two kinds of property in the present-day Soviet Union: "State, or publicly-owned production, and collective-farm production, which cannot be said to be publicly owned." The main task of the transition to Communism which is now beginning is to "raise the level" of collective farm property to that of state or publicly owned property, and to create thus a "single and united" system. How "the formation of a single and united sector" is to be brought about "whether simply by the swallowing up of the collective-farm sector by the state sector . . . or by the setting up of a single national economic body," Stalin refuses to say. But he is emphatic that it can be done by the pressure of the "superstructure," the state, "upon the relations of production," that it can be done "without upheavals," that it represents a revolution from above, and that it must be undertaken gradually but without delay, that "it is of paramount importance for us," that in the process "the new" will not "simply destroy the old, but infiltrates into it, changes its nature and function without smashing its form." Until it is accomplished, the state has not as complete control of agriculture as of industry and is hampered in its precise planning and calculation. "It would be unpardonable not to see that these factors are already beginning to fetter the powerful development of our productive forces since they create obstacles to the full extension of government planning to the whole of the national economy, especially agriculture . . . The task therefore is to eliminate these contradictions by gradually converting collective-farm property into public (state) property. . . ."

To this subject Stalin devotes more space and attention than to any other, and returns again and again. And in this, I think, we can find the theoretical foundation and the emotional force behind the latest Khrushchev-Malenkov drive for a revolution in agriculture. What was the drive to uproot the collective farms and combine them into agrogorods, begun in Stalin's lifetime, but an attempt to "raise collective-farm property to the level of public property . . . to infiltrate it, change its nature and function without smashing its form?" Does their opposition to what they thought only a personal project of Khrushchev explain why Beria fell into disfavor during Stalin's last days, and help explain why the agrogorod critics, Aryutunyan and Bagirov, fell with Beria? And what is the new plowing up of steppe, pasture, marginal and abandoned lands in Kazakhstan, Siberia and other distant parts of the Empire, with "volunteers" from the cities, but a new mass flank attack upon the recalcitrant collective farm?

Like any flanking movement, it has been presented with dissimulation as a fresh attempt to solve the problem of the shortage of grain and meat (cattle) created by the earlier revolution from above, the collectivization drive of the thirties. Like that drive it suffers from gigantism, recklessness and lack of preparation. Like the earlier drive its shock troops come not from the farmers but from the cities. These young men and women may have no preparation for farming, but neither have they any loyalty to the collective and the private parcel or any memory of the days of individual farming. What is this mass displacement of young men and women and tractors and seeds to virgin or untilled lands but a gigantic step on the road that bypasses the kolkhoz and presents it with a rival in a new congeries of giant sovkhozes or state farms?

Of the 32,000,000 acres of virgin soil to be brought under cultivation during 1954-5, 15,800,000 of acres are located in Kazakhstan. Without a word being said of it, the over 140,000 workers who have been "volunteered" into the new regions represent one more invasion in the long war against the Asiatic steppe, and its nomadic, cattle-raising, Turkic peoples. This war was not begun by the Bolsheviks but by the Tsars. But the drive for forced collectivization of the early thirties hit hardest in individual-farming Ukrainia and in cattle-raising Kazakhstan. In the latter, where the nomads follow the grass on the range, the wholesale slaughter of stock reached catastrophic proportions from which, as Khrushchev's reports show, Russia has not yet recovered in more than two decades. According to Khrushchev, the number of cattle in the Soviet Union in 1953 was below that of 1916 (last year of the Tsars and in the midst of world war), and less than 1928 (before the collectivization drive began). But since 1928 there has been an enormous increase in population and in area so that the amount of meat, butter, milk, hides, as well as grain, per capita has frightfully diminished.

There is already a serious labor shortage on the old collective farms and a serious shortage of machines, but as in the earlier experiments in gigantism and revolution from above, everything is being thrown into the battle so that the old areas are being stripped of machines, and seed, and technicians, and hands, while the new lack drinking water, irrigation, housing, sanitation, food, tractors and seed. Lands are being plowed up that are marginal. If the rains are good--this year they have been good--the lands will yield. When bad years come--and it is their semi-aridity that make them range rather than farm areas--they are likely to become dustbowls. There are deep inconsistencies in the promise of more meat on the one hand and the planned figures for increased cattle breeding on the other, and between both of these and the plowing up of the range. But as in the collectivization drive of the early thirties, Khrushchev and Malenkov in the best Stalinist tradition are counting that there is "no fortress that Bolshevik determination cannot conquer," that the "superstructure" (the state) can "without upheavals" force changes in "productive relations." While they are at it, they hope to solve the nationalities problem in the Turkic areas by mass Russification, and present the incompletely calculable and incompletely plannable kolkhoz sector with a completely controlled sector of new state farms.

To sum up. The "new men" who have succeeded to Stalin's power are not so new as they look to the uninquisitive eye, for they are Stalin's men. And a good look at the "new look" suggests that it is not so new either, for more than Stalin would admit or they dared to claim, while he was alive, they worked out the Stalinist policies with him. Now that he is dead they have been able to cut the losses of some of the minor errors with which his stubbornness or prestige had become involved, but all their major policies from "peaceful coexistence" to the sensational plowing up of the virgin lands are in accord with plans elaborated and drives initiated while Stalin was alive. They do but give "arithmetical values" to "algebraic formulae" already worked out in the decisions of the Nineteenth Congress and in Stalin's so-called testament: "Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R." What the "new" men bring to their drives is the fresh vigor of younger men and a fresh flexibility in manœuvre. But they are manifestly continuing the war on their own people--"the revolution from above"--and the war for the control of the world.

[i] Lenin was born in 1870, Stalin and Trotsky in 1879, Zinoviev in 1883, Bukharin in 1888. Khrushchev was born in 1894, but did not join the Communist Party until 1918, after it had taken power. Malenkov was born in 1902 and joined the Communist Party only in 1920.

[ii] In the first issue of the American Communist journal, Political Affairs, published after Stalin's death, of the three funeral addresses of Malenkov, Molotov and Beria, only Malenkov's was printed, and with it an article by William Z. Foster entitled "Malenkov at the Helm." A month later Mr. Foster had repented of his rashness or been otherwise instructed, for his article on "Stalin and Coexistence" did not even find place for the appropriate quote from Malenkov's funeral oration. But when Mr. Foster returned to the theme of "coexistence" in the issue of August 1954 he once more felt that he could write that "the successive leaders of the Soviet people--Lenin, Stalin, and Malenkov" have all held the same position on this question.

[iii] For many of the biographical details in this article I am indebted to the researches and reports of Lazar Pistrak, of the United States Information Library, and to Boris Nikolaevsky, who is at work on a study of Malenkov and his associates. Others come from wartime and postwar Russian refugees, and from Soviet documents.

[iv] Saburov is now Deputy Premier and was selected this year to make the November 7 address from the Lenin-Stalin tomb.

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  • BERTRAM D. WOLFE, former Chief of the Ideological Advisory Staff of the Voice of America, now working on the second volume of a history of the Russian Revolution; author of "Three Who Made a Revolution"
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