Ted Grant

Stalin scraps “Internationale”

Written: January 1944
Source: Socialist Appeal, vol. 5 no. 25 (January 1944)
Transcription: Lisi 2004
Markup/Proofread:: Emil 2006

The announcement of the decision to abolish the Internationale as the anthem of the Soviet Union marks a step of profound and symbolic importance. The step has been hailed with discreet and enthusiastic approval by the capitalist press of Britain, America and other countries. The formerly openly pro-fascist and anti-Soviet press has revealed its jubilation, the Daily Mail in its leader column pointing out its meaning as the formal end of the “Trotskyist” idea of world revolution.

The scrapping of the Internationale and its substitution by a reactionary national anthem is of course a logical development following the open abandonment by Stalin and the bureaucracy in Russia of the hollow pretence of standing for world Socialism by the abolition of the Comintern[1]. It marks the consolidation, however uneasy, of the power of the Nationalist military cliques in Russia, who are attempting to find a common language and a common basis with the imperialists of the West. It is a further guarantee and reassurance to the capitalist class in Britain and America that so far as the rest of Europe and the world are concerned, Russia now has purely “national” aims and stands on the same side of “law and order”, i.e. capitalist property, as they do. This trend has been well understood by the representatives of the capitalist class not only in the Governments but the well-informed business men, journalists etc. In the New York Times of October 31st, C. L. Sulzberger writes:

“Many Russians [i.e. Russian Stalinist bureaucrats in the Embassy etc. - EG] with whom the writer has talked frankly discussed the dangers of a communised Germany. They take the view that this would eventually turn in the direction of Trotskyism and might conceivably begin once again, therefore, to foment dangers for the Soviet Union—a possibility which will at all costs have to be avoided.”

But the betrayal of the policy for which Marx and Lenin fought all their lives is reflected not only in the abandonment of the struggle for International Socialism but in the speeding up of the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union. The Observer of December 26th, 1943 soberly assessing the significance of the new move remarks:

“The abolition of the Internationale as the national anthem of the Soviet Union and its replacement, by a national and patriotic song comes at the end of a year which has seen more fundamental changes in Russia that any since the great revolution. The restoration of an officer corps; the abolition of the political commissars in the army; the adoption by Stalin of the title of Marshall; the dissolution of the Comintern; the restoration of the Russian Church—all this together, now symbolised in the change of the national anthem amounts to little less than a new revolution from above, peaceful and orderly, but profound.”

Aside from the reference to a “peaceful” and “orderly” change, which is merely introduced to indicate approval of the change, the comment is fairly shrewd and accurate. All these steps are in a counter-revolutionary direction and favourable to the interests of world imperialism, which is anxiously watching the development of events in the Soviet Union. Stalinism, which represented the interests of the officialdom in Russia, having usurped power from the masses, is now moving at an accelerated pace away from the ideals of the October Revolution. Power has passed from the civil to the military bureaucracy.

The “Communist” Party faced with this new contemptuous slap in the face to the ideals of Socialism, has, as was inevitable, attempted to justify this new betrayal. On the first day following the news the Daily Worker printed the announcement without comment. They were waiting for the “Party line”. Then they issued a statement which claimed that nothing had been changed. Russia had made its revolution and achieved “Socialism” and therefore the Internationale no longer applied, they have argued. Apart from the fact that the idea in making the Internationale the anthem of the Soviet Union was conceived as linking the workers of Russia, and the Soviet Union itself, to the world working class, as part of the struggle for liberation of the world working class like all the other conceptions of Bolshevism under Lenin’s leadership. The oath of the Red Army (long since changed) pledged the Red Army to serve faithfully the interests of the world working class; and the Red Army was described by Lenin as one of the arms of the Communist International. In any case the flimsy character of the lie is exposed when it is remembered that the Stalinists more than a decade ago falsely announced the lie that Socialism had been established. If the Internationale is not necessary now, why was it necessary then?

This declaration constitutes a new stab in the back for the Red Army and the world working class. It will prepare the way for new blows on the part of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Nevertheless, it should be welcomed by the advanced worker; as helping to clear the minds of the world working class of any illusion that Stalinism still remains a revolutionary force striving for Socialism. It is clear that the banner of Socialism, the banner of the Internationale, is now carried by the Fourth International alone. Officially dropped by the traitor Stalinist bureaucrats, it now belongs to us who proudly adopt the song of the Paris Commune and of the October Revolution, the song of Marx and Engels, the song of Lenin and Trotsky, as our anthem.

Editor’s Notes

[1] The Comintern had been dissolved by Stalin in May 1943.