From the October 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard
The former director of Russia, who died last month. was not a member of the SPGB so this is not that kind of an obituary. Nor is it a salute to the passing of a "great man" in the manner of the capitalist press (whether so-called left or right). Rather do we take the opportunity of the passing of the former despot (one of the rare cases in the Soviet Union of an ousted top man who managed to die of old age), to point out that this man, who started to climb the ladder of Russian power nearly fifty years ago, has contrived to die with his country as far from justifying its assumed title of socialist as ever it was. In fact it is probably true to any that nowadays there are far more people around who fail to register shocked surprise at our contention that Russia is a capitalist country, like all other countries in the modern world. The fact that it is state-capitalist (instead of only partly thus and partly private enterprise capitalist like England) is a matter almost of indifference compared with the salient fact that it is not socialist and has never remotely justified its claim to that title. Khrushchev's country is just as much a wage-slave economy as the USA.
The capitalist papers (such as the Morning Star and the New Statesman) can safely be left to recount the career of the Stalinist today who danced the gopak for his master (and also acted as his henchman in the slaughter of untold thousands of his fellow countrymen).
The most illuminating incident in his career was one which does not appear to have been noticed in the obituaries. This was the argument with Molotov at the time when Khrushchev was establishing his power which involved smashing the "anti-party group". His rival had just gone on record as saying that Russia had by then (some forty odd years after the revolution) laid the foundations of Socialism. Khrushchev seized the opportunity to slam into him. Foundation be damned. We have built Socialism. And as Molotov was the one who was exiled into Outer Mongolia (a welcome change from Outer Space, of course, where previous failed leaders went), it was Khrushchev's version which carried the day. It was an argument which had a lot of fascination but it attracted little or no interest in the papers. What can you think of a house when two people can look at it and one says it's a fine house and the other says it's a fine foundation? (And not just lay people mark you. These were a couple of architects of this kind of edifice.) The only possible answer is that Lenin and his heirs were frauds. There is no Socialism in Russia and all the millions of deaths have been merely to establish a capitalist tyranny where, pre-Khrushchev and post-Khrushchev, the propagation of Socialism is punished as treason. A grisly and tragic story.
L. E. Weidberg