Wednesday
Feb072018

On Stalin - By W.E.B. DuBois

From the National Guardian
March 16, 1953

On Stalin

By W.E.B. DuBois

Joseph Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature. He was simple, calm and courageous. He seldom lost his poise; pondered his problems slowly, made his decisions clearly and firmly; never yielded to ostentation nor coyly refrained from holding his rightful place with dignity. He was the son of a serf but stood calmly before the great without hesitation or nerves. But also - and this was the highest proof of his greatness - he knew the common man, felt his problems, followed his fate.

Stalin was not a man of conventional learning; he was much more than that: he was a man who thought deeply, read understandingly and listened to wisdom, no matter whence it came. He was attacked and slandered as few men of power have been; yet he seldom lost his courtesy and balance; nor did he let attack drive him from his convictions nor induce him to surrender positions which he knew were correct. As one of the despised minorities of man, he first set Russia on the road to conquer race prejudice and make one nation out of its 140 groups without destroying their individuality.

His judgment of men was profound. He early saw through the flamboyance and exhibitionism of Trotsky, who fooled the world, and especially America. The whole ill-bred and insulting attitude of Liberals in the U.S. today began with our naive acceptance of Trotsky's magnificent lying propaganda, which he carried around the world. Against it, Stalin stood like a rock and moved neither right nor left, as he continued to advance toward a real socialism instead of the sham Trotsky offered.

Three great decisions faced Stalin in power and he met them magnificently: first, the problem of the peasants, then the West European attack, and last the Second World War. The poor Russian peasant was the lowest victim of tsarism, capitalism and the Orthodox Church. He surrendered the Little White Father easily; he turned less readily but perceptibly from his ikons; but his kulaks clung tenaciously to capitalism and were near wrecking the revolution when Stalin risked a second revolution and drove out the rural bloodsuckers.

Then came intervention, the continuing threat of attack by all nations, halted by the Depression, only to be re-opened by Hitlerism. It was Stalin who steered the Soviet Union between Scylla and Charybdis: Western Europe and the U.S. were willing to betray her to fascism, and then had to beg her aid in the Second World War. A lesser man than Stalin would have demanded vengeance for Munich, but he had the wisdom to ask only justice for his fatherland. This Roosevelt granted but Churchill held back. The British Empire proposed first to save itself in Africa and southern Europe, while Hitler smashed the Soviets.

The Second Front dawdled, but Stalin pressed unfalteringly ahead. He risked the utter ruin of socialism in order to smash the dictatorship of Hitler and Mussolini. After Stalingrad the Western World did not know whether to weep or applaud. The cost of victory to the Soviet Union was frightful. To this day the outside world has no dream of the hurt, the loss and the sacrifices. For his calm, stern leadership here, if nowhere else, arises the deep worship of Stalin by the people of all the Russias.

Then came the problem of Peace. Hard as this was to Europe and America, it was far harder to Stalin and the Soviets. The conventional rulers of the world hated and feared them and would have been only too willing to see the utter failure of this attempt at socialism. At the same time the fear of Japan and Asia was also real. Diplomacy therefore took hold and Stalin was picked as the victim. He was called in conference with British imperialism represented by its trained and well-fed aristocracy; and with the vast wealth and potential power of America represented by its most liberal leader in half a century.

Here Stalin showed his real greatness. He neither cringed nor strutted. He never presumed, he never surrendered. He gained the friendship of Roosevelt and the respect of Churchill. He asked neither adulation nor vengeance. He was reasonable and conciliatory. But on what he deemed essential, he was inflexible. He was willing to resurrect the League of Nations, which had insulted the Soviets. He was willing to fight Japan, even though Japan was then no menace to the Soviet Union, and might be death to the British Empire and to American trade. But on two points Stalin was adamant: Clemenceau's "Cordon Sanitaire" must be returned to the Soviets, whence it had been stolen as a threat. The Balkans were not to be left helpless before Western exploitation for the benefit of land monopoly. The workers and peasants there must have their say.

Such was the man who lies dead, still the butt of noisy jackals and of the ill-bred men of some parts of the distempered West. In life he suffered under continuous and studied insult; he was forced to make bitter decisions on his own lone responsibility. His reward comes as the common man stands in solemn acclaim.

Wednesday
Feb072018

Paul Robeson - Thoughts on Winning the Stalin Peace Prize

By Paul Robeson

"Here's My Story,"
Freedom,
January 1953

Many friends have asked me how it feels to have received one of the International Stalin Prizes' "for strengthening peace among peoples." Usually I say-as most prize winners do- "It's a great honor." But of course, this award deserves more than just passing acknowledgment.

Through the years I have received my share of recognition for efforts in the fields of sports, the arts, the struggle for full citizenship for the Negro people, labor's rights and the fight for peace. No single award, however, involved so many people or such grave issues as this one.

The prize is truly an international award. The committee of judges includes the Soviet academician, D. V. Skobeltsyn, president; vicepresidents Kuo Mo-djo of China and Louis Aragon of France; and the following members: Martin Anderson Nexo, the greatest modern Danish humanist; John Bernal of England; Pablo Neruda of Chile, one of the world's greatest poets; Jan Demborsky of Poland; Michael Sadovyany of Roumania; and A. A. Fadyeev, a leading Soviet novelist.

And the prize winners include outstanding figures from many lands. It is a matter of pride to share the award with such distinguished leaders as Yves Farge of France; Sayfuddin Kichloo, spokesman for the All-Indian Congress of Peace; Eliza Branco, a leader of the Fedn. of Brazilian Women; Johannes Becher, one of the foremost writers of the German Democratic Republic; Rev. James Endicott, fearless Canadian minister and fighter for peace, and Ilya Ehrenberg, the leading Soviet novelist and journalist.

Most important, it must be clear that I cannot accept this award in a personal way. In the words of an editorial written by A. A. Fadyeev in Pravda: "The names of the laureates of the International Stalin Prizes are again witnesses to the fact that the movement for peace is continuously growing, broadening and strengthening. In the ranks of the active fighters against the threat of war, new millions of people of every race and nationality are taking their place, people of the most widely differing political and religious convictions.... The awards to Eliza Branco and Paul Robeson reflect the important historical fact that broader and broader sections of the masses of the Western Hemisphere are rising to struggle for freedom and independence, for peace and progress; peoples that endure the full weight of the attempts of imperialist reaction to strangle the movement of the masses against a new pillaging war, being prepared by American billionaires and millionaires."

I accept the award, therefore, in the name and on behalf of these new millions who are moving into the organized fight for peace in our hemisphere and especially in the United States.

One of the most decisive steps in the development of the peace movement in our country was taken in connection with the Peking and Vienna Congresses of Peace.

The American Peace movement reached out its hands across the borders to join with the millions of peace fighters in the world peace movement. Gradually it has become crystal clear that the mighty strength of the world movement representing peoples of all lands is strength for us here. As Americans, preserving the best of our traditions, we have the right- nay the duty-to fight for participation in the forward march of humanity.

We must join with the tens of millions all over the world who see in peace our most sacred responsibility. Once we are joined together in the fight for peace we will have to talk to each other and tell the truth about each other. How else can peace be won?

I have always insisted-and will insist, even more in the future on my right to tell the truth as I know it about the Soviet peoples: of their deep desires and hopes for peace, of their peaceful pursuits of reconstruction from the ravages of war,. as in historic Stalingrad; and to tell of the heroic efforts of the friendly peoples in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, great, new China and North Korea-to explain, to answer the endless falsehoods of the warmongering press with clarity and courage.

In this framework we can make clear what co-existence means. It means living in peace and friendship with another kind of society-a fully integrated society where the people control their destinies, where poverty and illiteracy have been eliminated and where new kinds of human beings develop in the framework of a new level of social living.

The telling of these truths is an important part of our work in building a strong and broad peace movement in the United States.

Like any other people, like fathers, mothers, sons and daughters in every land, when the issue of peace or war has been put squarely to the American people, they have registered for peace. Whatever the confusions, however great the hysteria, millions voted for the Stockholm petition, millions more wanted to. At every step the vast majority have expressed horror at the idea of an aggressive war.

In fact, because of this deep desire for peace, the ruling class leaders of this land, from 1945 on, stepped up the hysteria and propaganda to drive into American minds the false notion that danger threatened them from the East. This propaganda began before the blood of precious human beings stopped flowing in the mighty struggle against fascism.

I, myself, was in Europe in 1945, singing to the troops. And already one heard rumblings of the necessity of America's preparing for war against the Soviet Union, our gallant ally. And at home in the United States we found continued and increased persecution, first of leaders of the Communist Party, and then of all honest anti-fascists.

But the deep desire for peace remained with the American people. Wallace was hailed by vast throngs when he resigned from Truman's cabinet in protest against the war-mongering of the then Secretary of State James Byrnes, now the Negro-hating governor of South Carolina. Seven to eight million peace lovers put Wallace on the ballot in almost all of the 48 states in 1948. The cry for peace forced Truman to take over (demogogically, of course) the Progressive Party platform. In addition he hinted he would send Vinson, one of his trusted lieutenants, to Moscow, to talk peace.

We know how Truman betrayed the American people in their hopes for peace, how he betrayed the Negro people in their thirst for equal rights, how he tore up the Bill of Rights and subjected the whole American people to a reign of FBI-terrorization.

The Korean war has always been an unpopular war among the American people. We remember the unforgivable trickery in the use of the United Nations to further the purposes of "American century" imperialists in that land-quite comparable to the taking of Texas from Mexico, the rape of Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. At one point American peace sentiment helped to stop Truman from pursuing use of the atom bomb in Korea and helped force the recall of MacArthur.

Yet in 1952 the American people again allowed themselves to be taken in-this time by Eisenhower. He, too, promised in the campaign to do all he could to end the Korean slaughter. The vote shows that millions of American believed him. But already he has betrayed their trust and moves as fast as possible toward an extension of the war. There are real threats of attempting to support France on a major scale in Indo-China. All this comes as no surprise if one looks at those who guide him-Dulles, one of the architects of the whole Far Eastern policy; Dewey, the man so feared in 1948, and certainly unchanged, and the whole array of American Big Business at its worst.

All these factors become increasingly clear to great sections of the American people and certainly present a tremendous challenge to the peace forces in this land. If we move swiftly, correctly, courageously, a mighty united front of the people can be built for peace. The latent but growing sentiment can be harnessed, organized.

I am especially confident that the Negro people can be won for the fight for peace. Having voted mainly for Stevenson, they have little to expect from Eisenhower, especially an Eisenhower partly dependent upon the Dixiecrat South-sworn enemies of the Negro people. We know that war would mean an end to our struggle for civil rights, FEPC, the right to vote, an anti-lynching law, abolition of segregation.

And today the Negro people watch Africa and Asia and closely follow the liberation struggles of the rising peoples in these lands. We watch the United Nations and see the U.S.A. join with the western imperialist nations to stifle the liberation struggles. We cannot help but see that it is Vishinsky and the spokesman of the Eastern European Peoples Democracies who defend and vote for the interests of the African and Asian peoples.

I know that if the peace movement takes its message boldly to the Negro people a powerful force can be secured in pursuit of the greatest goal of all mankind. And the same is true of labor and the great democratic sections of our population.

Yes, peace can and must be won, to save the world from the terrible destruction of World War III. The prize which I have just received will spur me on to greater efforts than ever before to serve the cause of peace and to aid in building a triumphant peace movement in the United States.

Wednesday
Feb072018

To You Beloved Comrade - Tribute to Stalin by Paul Robeson

by Paul Robeson

There is no richer store of human experience than the folk tales, folk poems and songs of a people. In many, the heroes are always fully recognizable humans - only larger and more embracing in dimension. So it is with the Russian, Chinese. and the African folk-lore.

In 1937, a highly expectant audience of Moscow citizens - workers, artists, youth, farmers from surrounding towns - crowded the Bolshoy Theater. They awaited a performance by the Uzbek National Theater, headed by the highly gifted Tamara Khanum. The orchestra was a large one with instruments ancient and modern. How exciting would be the blending of the music of the rich culture of Moussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Khrennikov, Gliere - with that of the beautiful music of the Uzbeks, stemming from an old and proud civilization.

Suddenly everyone stood - began to applaud - to cheer - and to smile. The children waved.

In a box to the right - smiling and applauding the audience - as well as the artists on the stage - stood the great Stalin.

I remember the tears began to quietly flow. and I too smiled and waved Here was clearly a man who seemed to embrace all. So kindly - I can never forget that warm feeling of kindliness and also a feeling of sureness. Here was one who was wise and good - the world and especially the socialist world was fortunate indeed to have his daily guidance. I lifted high my son Pauli to wave to this world leader, and his leader. For Paul, Jr. had entered school in Moscow, in the land of the Soviets.

The wonderful performance began, unfolding new delights at every turn - ensemble and individual, vocal and orchestral, classic and folk-dancing of amazing originality. Could it be possible that a few years before in 1900 - in 1915 - these people had been semi-serfs - their cultural expression forbidden, their rich heritage almost lost under tsarist oppression's heel?

So here one witnessed in the field of the arts - a culture national in form, socialist in content. Here was a people quite comparable to some of the tribal folk of Asia - quite comparable to the proud Yoruba or Basuto of West and East Africa, but now their lives flowering anew within the socialist way of life twenty years matured under the guidance of Lenin and Stalin. And in this whole area of development of national minorities - of their relation to the Great Russians - Stalin had played and was playing a most decisive role.

I was later to travel - to see with my own eyes what could happen to so-called backward peoples. In the West (in England, in Belgium, France, Portugal, Holland) - the Africans, the Indians (East and West), many of the Asian peoples were considered so backward that centuries, perhaps, would have to pass before these so-called 'colonials' could become a part of modern society.

But in the Soviet Union, Yakuts, Nenetses, Kirgiz, Tadzhiks - had respect and were helped to advance with unbelievable rapidity in this socialist land. No empty promises, such as colored folk continuously hear in the United States, but deeds. For example, the transforming of the desert in Uzbekistan into blooming acres of cotton. And an old friend of mine, Mr. Golden, trained under Carver at Tuskegee, played a prominent role in cotton production. In 1949, I saw his daughter, now grown and in the university - a proud Soviet citizen.

Today in Korea - in Southeast Asia - in Latin America and the West Indies, in the Middle East - in Africa, one sees tens of millions of long oppressed colonial peoples surging toward freedom. What courage - what sacrifice - what determination never to rest until victory!

And arrayed against them, the combined powers of the so-called Free West, headed by the greedy, profit-hungry, war-minded industrialists and financial barons of our America. The illusion of an "American Century" blinds them for the immediate present to the clear fact that civilization has passed them by - that we now live in a people's century - that the star shines brightly in the East of Europe and of the world. Colonial peoples today look to the Soviet Socialist Republics. They see how under the great Stalin millions like themselves have found a new life. They see that aided and guided by the example of the Soviet Union, led by their Mao Tse-tung, a new China adds its mighty power to the true and expanding socialist way of life. They see formerly semi-colonial Eastern European nations building new People's Democracies, based upon the people's power with the people shaping their own destinies. So much of this progress stems from the magnificent leadership, theoretical and practical, given by their friend Joseph Stalin.

They have sung - sing now and will sing his praise - in song and story. Slava - slava - slava - Stalin, Glory to Stalin. Forever will his name be honored and beloved in all lands.

In all spheres of modern life the influence of Stalin reaches wide and deep. From his last simply written but vastly discerning and comprehensive document, back through the years, his contributions to the science of our world society remain invaluable. One reverently speaks of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin - the shapers of humanity's richest present and future.

Yes, through his deep humanity, by his wise understanding, he leaves us a rich and monumental heritage. Most importantly - he has charted the direction of our present and future struggles. He has pointed the way to peace - to friendly co-existence - to the exchange of mutual scientific and cultural contributions - to the end of war and destruction. How consistently, how patiently, he labored for peace and ever increasing abundance, with what deep kindliness and wisdom. He leaves tens of millions all over the earth bowed in heart-aching grief.

But, as he well knew, the struggle continues. So, inspired by his noble example, let us lift our heads slowly but proudly high and march forward in the fight for peace - for a rich and rewarding life for all.

In the inspired words of Lewis Allan, our progressive lyricist -

To you Beloved Comrade, we make this solemn vow
The fight will go on - the fight will still go on.
Sleep well, Beloved Comrade, our work will just begin.
The fight will go on - till we win - until we win.

 

(A tribute by Paul Robeson to Joseph Stalin upon Stalin's death on March 5, 1953. It was published in New World Review, April, 1953, and reprinted in Paul Robeson Speaks, edited by Philip Foner, pp. 347-349.)

Wednesday
Feb072018

Robeson at Reception in Soviet Union

"I Am at Home"

Says Robeson at Reception in Soviet Union

Interview by Vern Smith, Daily Worker, January 15, 1935

Paul Robeson with children of the Soviet Union at a summer camp on the Black Sea.

 

Moscow, U.S.S.R.-"This is Paul Robeson, the greatest American singer!" declared the famous film director, Eisenstein, introducing Robeson to a reception in his honor, attended by nearly all the celebrities in Moscow's theatre and art world. The reception was given in the "House of the Kino," palatial club house of the workers of the movie industry.

I repeat the words of Eisenstein, master of ceremonies at the reception, not by way of informing the public as to who Robeson is, for that is well enough known, but to show the tone of the feeling of the workers and the artists of the Soviet Union towards this visiting Negro singer, son of a slave in the United States-to show the wholehearted appreciation of these Russian sons of serfs who now are freed by their own efforts.

The reception was long and brilliant and lasted until about 2 a.m. But somehow in the course of it, Robeson found time to answer a few questions from the Daily Worker correspondent.

I began with the obvious: "Have you noticed a race question in the Soviet Union?"

An undercurrent of laughter rumbled under Robeson's big mellow voice as he answered: "Only that it seems to work to my advantage!"

And then he explained. He has been studying the Soviet Union for two years, studying the Russian language also for that length of time, has been a regular reader of the Pravda and Isvestia for months, and knows something about the solution of the race question here. He knows that the Soviet theory is that all races are equal-really equal, socially equal, too, as well as economically and politically. He expressed delight but no surprise when I informed him of the election to the Moscow Soviet of the American Negro, Robinson, working in the First State Ball Bearing Plant here.

But what he admitted he had not been expecting was the simple, wholehearted, affectionate welcome that lay in store for him. Robeson declares himself that he knows he has made a sufficient place for himself by his singing and acting, that even in the capitalist world some of the bitterest aspects of Jim-Crowism and white chauvinism are not applied to him. But it is just this feeling that a condescending exception has been made of him that is missing here. Here there is just the enthusiastic joy of Russian workers and artists, they or their fathers also once slaves of capitalist and landlord, who now welcome in addition a man they feel is a brother artist from abroad, coming with a real desire to honestly know and understand the new life they have made for themselves.

"I was not prepared for the happiness I see on every face in Moscow," said Robeson. "I was aware that there was no starvation here, but I was not prepared for the bounding life; the feeling of safety and abundance and freedom that I find here, wherever I turn. I was not prepared for the endless friendliness, which surrounded me from the moment I crossed the border. I had a technically irregular passport, but all this was brushed aside by the eager helpfulness of the border authorities. And this joy and happiness and friendliness, this utter absence of any embarrassment over a 'race question' is all the more keenly felt by me because of the day I spent in Berlin on the way here, and that was a day of horror-in an atmosphere of hatred, fear and suspicion."

Commenting on the recent execution after court-martial of a number of counter-revolutionary terrorists, Robeson declared roundly: "From what I have already seen of the workings of the Soviet Government, I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot!

"It is the government's duty to put down any opposition to this really free society with a firm hand," he continued, "and I hope they will always do it, for I already regard myself at home here. This is home to me. I feel more kinship to the Russian people under their new society than I ever felt anywhere else. It is obvious that there is no terror here, that all the masses of every race are contented and support their government."

Robeson commented on the absence of slums, on the huge building of workers' apartments in the factory districts, such districts as are invariably slums in capitalist cities. He declared that he will make an extensive study of the club life of the Soviet worker, especially as the clubs are centers of instrumental and vocal musical training, and of dramatic art.

[Robeson has developed a theory, based on his knowledge of Central Asian folk music and drama, and on his recent three months experience in Africa in connection with the filming of a motion picture scenario based on African life, that a new vehicle of expression, not drama, and not opera, can be evolved from these arts of primitive peoples. He sees certain underlying consistent bases in all this art of primitive civilizations. He hopes to supplement his observations by a study of Chinese folk music and drama.

He has selected the Soviet Union as a most proper center from which to conduct his researches, and as the only country giving him unstintedly the social and other environment in which he can systematically complete his research and work towards this new form of artistic expression. He says that he intends to remain in the Soviet Union until about the middle of January, then will have to return to England for the final completion of the film of African life and to wind up his other affairs there. Then sometime during 1935 he will come with his whole family to the Soviet Union for a prolonged stay, working on his researches and on the first steps of the new form of drama and opera, meanwhile singing and acting in the Soviet theatres and moving pictures.]

At the reception given in his honor here, Robeson sang, besides several Negro workers' songs and spirituals, four selections in the Russian language: two from the opera "Boris Godunov," one old folk song and a Cossack lullaby. Hearty applause and the voiced opinion of those present testified to his progress in the rather difficult Russian language.

He has deliberately and for a long time been laying plans and preparing to move to the U.S.S.R. as the most suitable center for the important work of artistic innovation which he has in mind, and because he had decided on the basis of much evidence that it is a place where a man may do such work with greatest freedom and facility. He said in his interview that he is more than satisfied that the Soviet Union is just such a place.

Wednesday
Feb072018

Russian Revolution: What Actually Happened

Scroll the pages below to read the following book. An important sourcebook for young readers to get acquainted with what happened during the revolution of 1917.