Neo-Stalinism: What lessons has it learned?

None — and it’s on repeat cycle, courtesy of the Morning Star

Paul Mason
11 min readMay 17, 2022


There’s a lot to suport in the 2008 Prague Declaration, though I don’t subscribe to the totalitarianism theory that inspired it. When it was authored, by the European centre right, it was about learning lessons from the past.

Now we face a new totalitarianism. In the last 10 years, the authoritarian capitalisms of both Russia and China have morphed into totalitarian regimes. And Russia has launched an ethno-nationalist invasion of Ukraine, in some cases flying the Soviet flag.

So the left urgently needs its own theory of totalitarian recrudescence.

I cannot think of a worse response than this “Full Marx” column just published by the Morning Star newspaper.

It has been authored by “Marx Memorial Library” — in keeping with totalitarian principles, there is not even a human face associated with it. Let’s assume, however, it represents the thinking of the orthodox communist “left” on the extremes of Stop The War and the fringes of Corbynism.

As with all demolitions of Stalinist apologism, I do this in detail for the sake of young people who didn’t experience Soviet propaganda in its prime. The weaknesses are always twofold — fact and logic. Responding to Neo-Stalinism in detail and in a timely manner is important, given its level of subcultural resonance.

Let’s take the Morning Star article apart par by par:

ANTI-COMMUNIST propaganda takes many forms. A recent trope, associated with the Prague declaration promoted by European right-wing forces, claims that abuses of human rights by communist governments were as bad as those of the fascists. Fascism is almost universally condemned; so if people can be persuaded that communists committed similar atrocities, they will shun communism too.

In the 21st century this is going to become the central challenge for everyone on the anticapitalist left. Were the “abuses” of the Soviet, Chinese and allied regimes in the 20th century “as bad as those of the fascists”? And what are you going to do stop a repeat of them?



Paul Mason

Journalist, writer and film-maker. Author of How To Stop Fascism.