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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 09, 1951

RECORD OF A CONVERSATION BETWEEN STALIN AND REPRESENTATIVES OF THE INDIAN COMMUNIST PARTY

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Meeting in Moscow between Stalin and Indian Communist Party representatives C. Rajeswara Rao, S. A. Dange, A. K. Ghosh, and [M. Basava] Punnaiah. Stalin responded to a series of prepared questions from the representatives.
    "Record of a Conversation between Stalin and representatives of the Indian Communist Party," February 09, 1951, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History [RGASPI], fond 558, opis 11, delo 310, listy 71-86. Translated by Gary Goldberg. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113938
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RECORD OF A CONVERSATION BETWEEN I. V. STALIN

and representatives of the Indian Communist Party CC, Cdes. [C. Rajeswara] Rao, [S. A.] Dange, [A. K.] Ghosh, and [M. Basava] Punnaiah

9 February 1951

[page numbers 1-16 in the upper right-hand corner have been crossed out and replaced by the numbers 71-86]

Cde. Stalin: I have received your questions. I will reply to them and then state some of my own views.

Possibly it will seem strange to you that we discuss everything in the evening. We are busy in the daytime. We are working. We get off work at 6 P.M.

Possibly it will seem strange to you that the conversation lasts a long time but unfortunately we cannot perform our mission otherwise. Our CC has entrusted us with meeting with you personally to help your Party with advice. We don’t know your Party and your people well. We take this mission very seriously. As soon as we took it upon ourselves to give advice we thereby took the moral responsibility for your Party upon ourselves and we cannot give frivolous advice. We wanted to acquaint ourselves with the materials and with you, and then give advice.

It might seem strange to you that we asked you a number of questions and have almost made an interrogation. But our position is such that we could not do otherwise. Documents do not give a complete idea and therefore we resorted to such a method. This is a very unpleasant business but nothing can be done about it. The situation demands it. Let’s move to the substance of the matter.

You ask: how should the impending revolution in India be evaluated?

We Russians view this revolution as primarily agrarian. This means the liquidation of feudal property and the division of land between peasants into their personal property. This means the liquidation of feudal private property for the sake of establishing private peasant property. As you see, there is nothing socialist here. We do not think that India is on the threshold of a socialist revolution. This is also the Chinese way which they talk about everywhere, that is, an agrarian revolution, anti-feudal without any confiscation and nationalization of the property of the national bourgeoisie. This is a bourgeois-democratic revolution or the first stage of a people’s democratic revolution. The people’s democratic revolution which started before China in the countries of Eastern Europe has two stages. The first stage is an agrarian revolution or agrarian reform, if you wish. The countries of the people’s democracies in Eastern Europe went through this stage in the first year after the war. China is in this first stage right now. India is approaching this stage. The second stage of a people’s democratic revolution, as it has manifested itself in Eastern Europe, consists of moving from an agrarian revolution to the expropriation of the national bourgeoisie.  This is already the start of a socialist revolution. Factories, mills, and banks have been nationalized and handed over to the state in all the people’s democratic countries of Europe. China is still far from this second stage.  This stage is also far from India or India is far from this stage.

They have been talking there in India about the lead article of the Cominform newspaper concerning the Chinese way of unleashing a revolution. This lead article was prompted by the articles and speeches of [Balachandra Trimbak] Ranadive, who thought that India was on the path to a socialist revolution. We Russian Communists think that this is a very dangerous thesis and have decided to speak out against it, pointing out that India is experiencing the Chinese path, that is, the first stage of a people’s democratic revolution. This means that you will have to create your own revolutionary front this way: rouse the entire peasantry and kulaks against the feudal lords, and rouse the entire peasantry so that the feudal lords feel isolated. The public and all progressive strata of the national bourgeoisie need to be roused against British imperialism in order to isolate the bloc of British imperialists and national bourgeoisie. You are accustomed to saying that all imperialists need to be expelled at one stroke, all of them, both British and American. The front cannot be created this way. The sharp edge of the nationwide front needs to be directed against British imperialism.  Let the other imperialists, including the Americans, think that you aren’t concerned with them. This is necessary so that all the imperialists are not united against you by your actions and in order to sow discord among them. Well, but if the American imperialists get into the fight themselves then it will be necessary to turn the united national front of India against them, too.

Ghosh: It’s not clear to me why only against British imperialism at a time when a struggle is going on in the entire world against American imperialism, which is considered the sharp edge of the anti-democratic camp?

Cde. Stalin: Very simply, a united national front against Britain is for national independence from Britain, not from America. This is your specific national character. India is semi-liberated from whom? From Britain, not from America. India is in a Commonwealth of Nations not with America, but with Britain. The military and other specialists in your army are not Americans, but Britons. These are the historical facts, and there’s no getting around them. I want to say that the Party should not pile every task on itself, the task of fighting the imperialists of the entire world. [Only] one goal needs to be set, liberation from British imperialism. This is India’s national goal. The same thing about the feudal lords. Of course, the kulaks are enemies. But it is foolish to fight both the kulaks and feudal lords. It is foolish to pile two burdens on yourself, fighting kulaks and fighting feudal lords. A front needs to be created so that not you, but the enemy, is isolated. This is, so to speak, a tactic which makes the struggle of the Communist Party easier. Not a single person, if he is reasonable, would be willing to take all burdens on himself. Only one goal needs to be taken on, the elimination of feudalism, a remnant of British rule. Isolate the feudal lords, liquidate the feudal lords, and smash British imperialism, without at the same time touching the other imperialists. If this works, it will make matters easier.  Well, if the American imperialists butt in, then the struggle against them will have to be waged, but the people will know that it is they who attacked, not you. The Americans’ turn will come, of course, and the kulaks, too. But then each in his own turn.

Ghosh: Now it is clear to me.

Dange: Will this not interfere with waging agitprop work against the American imperialists and fighting them?

Cde. Stalin: Of course not. They are enemies of the people and they need to be fought.

Dange: I asked this question so that no one would interpret the task of struggling against American imperialism in an opportunistic way.

Cde. Stalin: The enemy needs to be isolated cleverly. Propose a resolution not against American imperialists, but against British imperialists. If the Americans butt in, then that is another matter.

Rao: Among the kulaks there is a small group which engages in feudal exploitation: they lease land and are usurers. They usually side with the landlords.

Cde. Stalin: This doesn’t mean anything. In comparison with the great overall goal of liquidating the feudal lords, this is a particular case. In your propaganda you need to speak out against the feudal lords, but not against prosperous peasants. But you yourselves ought not incite kulaks into an alliance with feudal lords.  It’s not necessary to create an alliance for the feudal lords. The kulak has great influence in the village and peasants think that the kulak became someone thanks to his great abilities, etc. The kulak need not be given the ability to defeat the peasants. Are your feudal lords nobles?

Rao: Yes.

Cde. Stalin: Peasants do not love nobles. You need to latch onto this in order not to give the feudal lords an opportunity to have allies among the peasants.

Punnaiah: We have confusion among ourselves concerning the issue of the national bourgeoisie. What is meant by the national bourgeoisie?

Cde. Stalin: Imperialism is the policy of seizing foreign countries. Does your national bourgeoisie really think about seizing foreign countries? Meanwhile, the British imperialists are seizing India. The national bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie of India, is the middle and big [bourgeoisie]; these are your own national exploiters. You need to say that you are not going against them, but against a foreign enemy, against the British imperialists. Many will be found among the national bourgeoisie who agree with you. The top level of the national bourgeoisie is already in league with the imperialists but this is only a part, and moreover not a large one. The bourgeoisie is mainly interested in supporting you in the struggle for the complete independence of India. It is also interested in feudalism being liquidated. The bourgeoisie needs a market, a good market. If peasants obtain land there will be a domestic market, and there will be people able to buy. All this needs to be explained in the press. It is to your advantage that the national bourgeoisie not switch to the side of the British. You need to arrange things so that the British imperialists do not get new allies in India. There are no steps being contemplated in China to expropriate the bourgeoisie. They have nationalized only Japanese property in China and even American enterprises have not been nationalized; they are operating. If you have the Chinese type of revolution you should not for the time being take steps which would push your bourgeoisie in the direction of the British imperialists. That’s the Chinese way for you.  They don’t touch the national bourgeoisie in China and now it speaks only against the American imperialists and helps the Chinese people’s government. It means that one can say that the American imperialists inside China are isolated. As regards the partition of India, that this was an act of fraud organized by the British. If you outline a program of action then you should say in it that you are demanding a union between Pakistan, India, and Ceylon, [both] military and economic. These three countries, artificially cut off from one another, will draw closer together. It will end with these three countries uniting. You should promote this idea of rapprochement and the people will support you. The leaders of Pakistan and Ceylon will oppose it but the people will crush them. What this artificial partition has led to is evident from Bengal alone. In the first place, the Bengali provinces are disconnected from Pakistan.

Dange: In the concept of national bourgeoisie they constantly taught us in the spirit that the middle bourgeoisie is called the national bourgeoisie. In India the big bourgeoisie went over to the side of the British imperialists.

Cde. Stalin: Are there purely British banks in India?

Dange: Yes, there are British banks in India, and there are joint[ly-owned] banks. In our platform there are demands for the nationalization of the big bourgeoisie. This is bureaucratic capital.

Cde. Stalin: This is not bureaucratic capital, this is industrial and commercial capital. Bureaucratic capital in China was acquired from state resources. This is capital associated with the state and very little with industry. The Sung and other families received money for favorable agreements with the Americans. As regards the large industrialists and merchants in China, they remained intact. I would not advise you to expropriate the big capitalists, even if they are in alliance with the American and British banking capitalists. It is better to say quietly that those who openly go over to the side of the enemy will lose their property. Unquestionably, part of the big capitalists will bolt if a revolution flares up there. Then declare them traitors and confiscate their property, but I don’t advise expropriating the big bourgeoisie for being in league with British capitalists. Act like they do in China. If you have a demand to expropriate the big bourgeoisie in your platform then it needs to be eliminated. You need to draw up a new platform or a program of action. It is very much to your advantage to neutralize the big bourgeoisie and split off nine-tenths of all the national bourgeoisie from it. You don’t need to artificially create new enemies for yourself. And so you have many of them. The big capitalists’ turn will come, too, and, of course, then their turn will come. The problems of a revolution are decided in stages. All stages cannot be lumped together. [They] need to be decided in stages and enemies need to be beaten step by step: today some, tomorrow others, and when you become stronger, you can beat all of them, but right now you are still weak. Your people are copying our revolution. But these are different stages. You need to take the experience of the other fraternal parties critically and adapt this experience to the specific conditions of India. Don’t be afraid of being criticized from the left. Bukharin and Trotsky criticized Lenin from the left but they ended up ridiculous. Ranadive has criticized Mao Tse-tung from the left, but Mao Tse-tung is right - he is acting in accordance with the conditions of his own country. Pursue your own policy and pay no attention to leftist shouting.

Now about the second question, about the Chinese way.

I’ve already talked about the Chinese way in the political and social area. This will be an agrarian revolution. As regards armed struggle, then it needs to be said that the Chinese didn’t talk about armed struggle, they talked about an armed revolution. They regarded this as partisan warfare with liberated areas and with a liberation army. It means it was necessary to talk about an armed revolution and partisan warfare, and not about armed struggle. The expression “armed struggle” was used by the Cominform newspaper. Armed struggle means more than partisan warfare, it means a combination of partisan warfare by peasants with general strikes and revolts by workers. Partisan warfare is  still [larger] in scale than armed struggle. How did the Chinese begin an armed revolution?

In 1926-1927 the Chinese comrades broke with the Kuomintang. Having a trained army of 40-50,000 men against the Kuomintang, they broke away to a separate camp. This army was the basis for partisan warfare. They began to hide in the forests and mountains far from cities and railroads. Of course, the main cadre were there where the CC of the Chinese Communist Party was. The Chinese Liberation Army could not base itself in a city. It was lightly armed, and in order not to be surrounded and broken up, they withdrew far from cities and railroads and established free partisan regions in a number of places. They were surrounded, escaped encirclement, abandoned the old liberated areas, created new ones, tried to avoid battle, and the longer it lasted the more the Chinese communists were cut off from the workers and cities. Of course, Mao Tse-tung did not want to break off ties with the workers, but the path of partisan warfare led to losing touch with the cities. This was an unfortunate necessity. Finally, they were based in Yenan where they defended themselves for a long time. They summoned the peasants to them, instructed them in how to wage an agrarian revolution, expanded their army, and turned it into a serious force. But all the same they did not avoid the serious drawbacks which are characteristic of partisan warfare.

What is a liberated partisan area? It is nevertheless an island in a country. This region has no rear area, it can be surrounded and blockaded. There is no rear area on which one can rely. And that’s the way it happened. Yenan was surrounded and the Chinese withdrew from there with great losses. And this would have continued for a long time had the Chinese Communists not decided to relocate to Manchuria. In moving to Manchuria they improved their position right away and found a rear area in the form of a friendly country. This was now no longer an island but something like a peninsula which relied on the USSR at one end. After this, Chiang Kai-shek lost the ability to encircle the Chinese partisans. And only after the Chinese had rested did they acquire the ability to conduct an offensive from the north to the south. That’s the history. What are the implications of this? Partisan warfare by peasants is a very serious matter and a great gain for a revolution. The Chinese introduced something new in revolutionary practice in this area, particularly in backward countries. And, of course, every Communist in a country where peasants are 80-90% [of the population] is obliged to add this method to the arsenal of their struggle. This is undeniable. But at the same time it follows from the experience of the Chinese comrades that partisan warfare with liberated areas has its own big drawbacks. These drawbacks are that partisan regions are an island which can always be blockaded. There is only one way to escape this ring as the victor, by creating a strong rear area, closing it off, linking up with and relying on a friendly neighboring country, and turning this country into one’s own strong rear area. The Chinese made a wise move in relocating to Manchuria. And if this had not occurred I don’t know how the matter would have ended.  Partisan warfare doesn’t have its own forces to achieve victory. Partisan warfare will always lead to victory if it relies on a friendly neighboring country. It is very characteristic that before moving to Manchuria the Chinese comrades did not want to attack, fearing encirclement, and only after this move did they deliberately begin to attack and have success against the forces of Chiang Kai-shek. These drawbacks of partisan warfare need to be considered. They tell us there [in India] that partisan warfare is completely sufficient to achieve the victory of the revolution in India. This is incorrect.  Conditions in China were much more favorable than in India. There was a trained People’s Liberation Army in China. You do not have a trained army. China does not have such a dense rail network as India and this is a great convenience for partisans.  You have fewer opportunities for successful partisan warfare than China. India is more developed than China industrially. This is good from the point of view of progress but poor from the point of view of partisan warfare. No matter what detachments and liberated areas you would create they would still remain little islands. You don’t have such a friendly neighboring country on which you could rely as a backbone as the Chinese partisans created, having the USSR at their back.

Afghanistan, Iran, and Tibet, where the Chinese Communists cannot yet reach…This is not such a rear area as the USSR. Burma? Pakistan? These are all land borders and the rest are maritime. Therefore you need to look for an alternative [vykhod].

Is partisan warfare necessary? Unquestionably, it is.

Will you have liberated areas and a people’s liberation army?

Will there be such areas and will there also be the possibility of having such an army? But this is insufficient for victory. Partisan warfare needs to be combined with revolutionary actions by the workers. Without this, partisan warfare alone cannot have success. If the Indian comrades could organize a serious, general rail strike then this would paralyze the activity of the country and government and give great aid to partisan warfare. Take the peasant…If you tell him that here’s partisan warfare for you and you’ll do everything with it then the peasant will ask why you’re imposing the burden of the struggle on him alone, what will the workers be doing? And he won’t agree to take the entire burden of the revolution on himself. He is smart enough, he recognizes that all evil comes from the city, taxes, etc. He would like to have an ally in the cities.

If you tell him that he will wage a struggle together with the worker he will understand and accept this. It was this way here in Russia. You need to pursue a struggle not only among the peasants and  not just create partisan detachments, but also pursue serious intensive work among the working class and gain their trust, winning over a majority, and you need to also have armed detachments among the workers, prepare strikes by the workers and railroad men, and have detachments of workers in the cities.

When these two streams merge victory can be considered secured. You know that in Russia in 1905 the Czar yielded to the people, gave [them] a Duma and a number of other freedoms. The Czar was forced to yield.

What caused the Czar such fear?  A rail strike! The capital was cut off from the country. The railroad workers only let delegates of the workers into Peterburg, but no goods, nothing else.

The importance to the revolution of rail strikes is very great and this would help partisan detachments.

Then, work among garrisons and soldiers. In 1917 before we propagandized so much among the soldiers that the entire garrison was on our side.

What got the soldiers? The issue of land.

This is such a weapon which even the Cossacks, these Praetorians of the Czar, could not resist. If you pursue a correct policy you can foster revolutionary sentiments and provoke dissension in reactionary circles.

The Chinese way was good for China.

It is insufficient for India where a proletarian struggle in the cities needs to be combined with the struggle of the peasants. Some people think that the Chinese comrades are against such a combination. This is incorrect. Would Mao Tse-tung not have been pleased if the workers of Shanghai had struck when his troops were moving on Nanking or military factory workers had struck? Of course not. But this didn’t happen because Mao lost contact with the cities. Of course, Mao Tse-tung would have been pleased if the railroad men had struck and Chiang Kai-shek would have been deprived of the ability to receive shells. Yet the lack of contact with the workers was a sad necessity, but not an ideal situation. It would be an ideal situation if you were to manage what the Chinese were not able to do, combining a peasant war with the struggle of the working class.

Dange: We have almost turned partisan warfare into theory without the participation of the workers.

Cde. Stalin: If Mao Tse-tung knew this he would curse you. (Laughter). Let’s turn to the next question.  Can Nehru’s government be considered a puppet of British imperialism just as the Kuomintang government of Chiang Kai-shek is a puppet of American imperialism or the current French government of [Rene] Pleven is a puppet of the same American imperialists?

In my opinion, Chiang Kai-shek could not be considered a puppet when his base was in China. He became a puppet when he moved to Formosa. I cannot consider Nehru’s government to be a puppet. He has his own roots among the population nevertheless. This is not the government of Bao Dai…Bao Dai is really a puppet. Hence it follows that partisan war in India cannot be considered the main form of struggle; maybe it needs to be called the highest form of struggle? The peasants have: a boycott of merchants, a strike by agricultural workers, a refusal to work by lessees [Translator’s note: tenant farmers], individual clashes with landlords, the seizure of landlords’ lands, and then partisan warfare as the highest form of struggle. The same with the workers: a local strike, an industry [strike], a political strike, and a general political strike as a precursor to an uprising, and then an armed uprising as the highest form of struggle. It cannot therefore be said that partisan warfare is the main form of struggle in the country. It is also incorrect to say that a civil war is in full swing in the country right now. This is wrong, there isn’t one right now. They seized land in Telengana but it doesn’t mean anything for now. This is still an initial open struggle, but not the main form of struggle. India is still far from it. Peasants need to be taught struggle in small issues - a reduction of rent payments, a reduction of the share of the harvest paid to the landlord, etc. Cadre need to be instructed in such small issues, but not to talk right away about armed struggle. If a wide-scale armed struggle were to begin then you would have serious difficulties since your Party is weak.

It is necessary for the Party to be strong and that the struggle of the masses be channeled in the necessary direction and that sometimes the masses [need to] be restrained. How did we begin in 1917?

We had many sympathizers in the army and navy, and we had the Moscow and Leningrad [SIC] soviets. However we restrained the insurrectionist workers movement. Demands to dissolve the provisional government were presented. But this did not enter into our plans, for the Leningrad garrison was not in our hands. In July the workers of the large Putilov plant where 40-50,000 people worked began a demonstration with sailors and soldiers behind them. They demanded the overthrow of the provisional government and came to the CC building with these demands. We dissuaded them, for all was not yet ready. We knew that we were headed for a serious uprising. There was an objective factor of an uprising, when the masses were rushing forward, but there was no subjective factor of an uprising. The Party was not yet ready.

We raised the question of an uprising one month [before], in September. We decided to organize an uprising, but it was supersecret. And when Politburo members Kamenev and Zinov’yev came out against the uprising in the press, considering it a foolhardy venture [avantyura], Lenin declared them to be traitors and said that they had betrayed our plans to [our] enemies. Therefore one cannot shout about an uprising [or] the element of surprise of the uprising will disappear.

Here Cde. Rao says, let’s speak to the people and ask them about an armed uprising…This cannot be done, one cannot shout about one’s plans [or] they’ll arrest all of you. I’ll assume that, let’s say, the peasants say: yes, it’s necessary to have an uprising. But this still does not mean that you need to follow the people and lag behind them. To direct means to lead people behind you. With regard to the advisability of such an uprising the people sometimes say that they are ready for an uprising based on the facts and events of their region, but not from the point of view of the entire country. This question needs to be decided by the CC. If [this] is clear, let’s move to the next question.

The Indian comrades: Yes, it’s clear.

Cde. Stalin: You ask whether the Party organization can issue a death sentence to a Party member for treason in which doubts have arisen.

It cannot. Lenin always taught that the highest form of punishment which the CC could issue was expulsion from the Party, but when the Party comes to power and some Party member violates the laws of revolution then the government calls him to account. It is evident from several of your documents that comrades are frequently inclined in the direction of individual terror with respect to enemies. If you are asking us Russian Communists about this, then we should tell you that here our Party was always taught in the spirit of repudiating individual terror. If the people themselves are fighting against landlords and kill a landlord in a clash, then we do not consider this individual terror inasmuch as the masses participated in this clash. If the Party itself organizes terrorist detachments to kill a landlord and manages without the involvement of the masses, then we always speak against this as against individual terror. Such vigorous actions of individual terrorists in conditions of passivity by the masses kill the spirit of spontaneous activity of the masses and instills a spirit of passivity in the masses, for the people reason this way: we cannot act, there is a hero who will work for us. Thus there is a hero and, on the other hand, there is a mob which is not participating in the struggle. Such actions are very dangerous from the point of view of instilling and organizing active participation by the masses. There was a party, the Social Revolutionaries, in Russia which had special detachments and terrorized the chief ministers. We always spoke out against this party. This party lost any credit among the masses. We are against theory, the hero and the mob.

You also ask now, how should the question about the nationalization of land in India now be raised?

You don’t need to advance this demand at this stage. On the one hand, it is impossible to advance demands to divide the landlords’ land and at the same time say that the land ought to be transferred to the state. The nationalization of land was never proclaimed in the countries of the people’s democracies, and certainly not in China. How did they act in the countries of the people’s democracies? They prohibited the purchase and sale of land. This is the approach to nationalization. Only the state can obtain land. The accumulation of land in the hands of private individuals is prohibited. It is not to your advantage right now to promote a demand for nationalization.

Some of your comrades think that a civil war is underway in India. It is still early to talk about this. Conditions there for a civil war are increasing, but they have still not developed.

What are you to do now?

It would be good for you to have some sort of platform or, let’s say, an action program. Of course, you will have differences. We also had differences but we decided a question this way: what the majority was decided was the law. And even those comrades who did not agree with the decision of the  majority carried out this decision honorably  since the Party can have only a single will. You all want discussions. This can be allowed in peacetime but a revolutionary situation is building in your country and this luxury cannot be permitted there. This is why you have so few people in the Party, because your endless discussions confuse the masses. The Russian Bolsheviks held open discussions in the period between 1903 and 1912, inasmuch as this was possible in Czarist conditions, in order to drive out the Mensheviks. Then when we had a policy of schism [raskol]. But you don’t have such a situation where the Party includes enemies.  After we kicked out the Mensheviks in 1912 and created our own Party free of Mensheviks the Party became homogeneous. There were also differences. Then we gathered in a narrow circle [of people], discussed the question and simply acted the way the majority decided. After the Bolsheviks came to power Trotsky imposed a discussion on the Party which we didn’t want but which they began since Trotsky had stated provocatively that the Party allegedly did not want discussions because the Party was afraid of the truth. We commenced discussions and defeated Trotsky. But this was a discussion against which stood the entire Party. If a Party is more or less homogeneous and has ideological unity then such a Party does not need a discussion. A discussion needs to be held only in a narrow circle, not moved to the press. What the majority decides is law.

Ghosh:  Cde. Stalin is right. Open discussion is not permissible impermissible for us anymore.

Cde. Stalin:  asks if there is an institution of sympathizers in the Indian Communist Party.

Rao and Dange: No, we have only Party members.

Cde. Stalin: There are 5,600,000 members and 800,000 candidate members in our Party. What is the importance of the candidates’ probationary period? Earlier, we screened those who wanted to join the Party before accepting them into membership. We kept some four or five years [as candidate members], screening them and training them. Many want to join the Party, but they should first be screened and, second, need to be trained. [They] need elemental socialist education and then accept [them]. In our experience, this institution of candidate membership has proven its worth. We have a dense layer of sympathizers around the Party.  But we should not crowd the Party with new members, we should not expand the Party very much. The quality of the people being accepted, not the quantity of Party members, needs to put ahead of everything else.

You also ask me, under what conditions can a partisan war be initiated? Partisan warfare cannot have great importance in the leading capitalist countries. Here they would quickly catch a partisan. Partisan warfare has especially great importance in less-developed [sredne-razvitye] and backward countries. For example, it is very difficult to start a partisan war in the United States of America or Germany. There are many large cities, extensive rail networks, and industrial areas there, and partisans would quickly be caught in these conditions. It is necessary that the mass of people consider themselves the hero, but they consider a hero to be instruments [ispolnitel’] of their own will so that individual acts directed against the enemy lead not to passivity by the masses but to activism. What happened in Telengana needs to be supported in every way, of course. These are the first shoots of a civil war, but you need not just hope for a partisan war. It helps, of course, but it needs help itself. [You] need to work more among the people, among the workers, in the army, and among intelligentsia and the peasantry. If armed detachments exist among the workers they could seize government offices in the event of turmoil. We had a worker’s guard in Leningrad, we trained it, and the workers were of great service during the uprising and seized the Winter Palace. Our peasantry had great help from the working class. Generally speaking, of all the classes of society, the peasantry trusted the working class the most. These two forms of struggle need to be combined, the struggle of the workers and the peasants, peasant uprisings and the actions [vystupleniya] of workers.

You remember the events in Indonesia. There were good Communist Party leaders in Indonesia but they allowed themselves to provoke a premature uprising. These were good, devoted, brave people, but they allowed themselves a provocation and perished.

It would be good for you to have a platform or an action program. Put agrarian revolution at the top of this platform or program.

You ask me also about the nature of Nehru’s foreign policy. This is a game, maneuvers, calculated to show that they are supposedly against American policy. In fact the Nehru government is playing between Britain and America.

Cdes. Rao, Dange, Ghosh, and Punnaiah thank Cde. Stalin for the conversation and declare that they will reconsider all their actions on the basis of the instructions of Cde. Stalin and act in accordance with these instructions.

Cde. Stalin: I gave you no instructions. This is just advice, which is not obligatory for you. You can accept it or not.

The conversation lasted over three hours

Transcribed [zapisal] by V. Grigor’yan 10.II.51

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