Documents from or about the Soviet Union during Both the
Socialist & State-Capitalist/Social-Imperialist Periods

      The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established in Russia, and in most of the oppressed nations that had been ruled by the Tsar, after the victory of the great Bolshevik Revolution led by Lenin.

      There were tremendous hardships that the people had to overcome in making revolution in Russia, in ending World War I, in fighting the terrible civil war and the invasion of multiple capitalist countries, and the severe famine at that time. It was a forced march for the USSR to recover from this devastation, and to industrialize and build itself up in preparation for a new capitalist assault that they knew would be coming before long.

      This new federation of socialist republics called the USSR was soon transformed into a socialist economy and state during the 1920s, under the leadership of Stalin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. This greatly facilitated the industrialization of the country even while the capitalist world was in the midst of the Great Depression. But then they had to prepare to face a ferocious new invasion from Nazi Germany, which when it came led to yet more hardship and suffering for the masses. That the Soviet peoples were able to persevere and achieve victory through all these difficulties is one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity in all of recorded history.

      However, not so surprisingly under these circumstances of desperate hardship and attack, and given that this was the very first socialist revolution in history, there were also some serious weaknesses in the Soviet Union during the socialist period. Mao later pointed out that after the early years Stalin and the CPSU no longer relied on the masses and mass initiative, or used the mass line method of leadership (“from the masses, to the masses”). (See the collection of Mao’s comments about Stalin listed below.) Instead, Soviet society was ruled by orders from above, even if mostly with good intentions. The Soviet Union was therefore not governed in nearly as democratic a way as it could and should have been. Dissent was often assumed to be entirely hostile to the revolution, when in fact much of it simply reflected an inadequate understanding of what needed to be done, or was even an attempt to improve the new socialist society. And many honest workers and revolutionaries were falsely labelled as enemies or enemy agents, and were then imprisoned or killed. Moreover, even the economic aspects of Soviet socialism had some serious shortcomings because of these political problems.

      Nevertheless, the Soviet Union remained a socialist country—though a very imperfect one—as long as Stalin was alive, and overall it played a quite positive role in the world. But unfortunately the top down and paternalistic style of leadership by Stalin and the CPSU did not condition the Soviet masses to more directly run society and to keep an eye on their leaders, and did not prepare them to deal with revisionists like Khrushchev and the new privileged bourgeois stratum that came to power after Stalin’s death. This stratum soon formed itself into a new bourgeois ruling class.

      The revisionist (state-capitalist) period in the Soviet Union lasted from the mid-1950s until the final collapse of the USSR in 1991. Many people in reformist and revisionist parties around the world were not able to recognize this fundamental change in the nature of the Soviet Union, and there has been considerable struggle and debate about this. The central ideological struggle here was that between Mao and Chinese revolutionaries (on the one hand), and the Soviet revisionists (on the other hand). But there have also been some other important debates and exposures of Soviet revisionism and social-imperialism since then.

      On this page we will present some of the documents about the Russian Revolution and the new socialist society it created, including many of its great accomplishments under extremely difficult conditions. But we will also try to collect and present many key and hard to find documents which critically discuss the negative aspects of the Soviet Union during the socialist period, as well as evaluations of Stalin and his role. And, in a separate section below, we will try to bring together many important documents criticizing and condemning the USSR during the revisionist and social-imperialist period.

      Many of the PDF files here have been reduced in size and require version 9.0 or later of Adobe Reader to read. In most cases we have also changed them to searchable format, if they were not already in that form.

      Some items have the file extension “.djvu”. These files require the WinDjView program to read them. This reader can be obtained for free at:   (Linux users have the capability to read .djvu files integrated into their PDF readers of the major desktops: Okular in KDE, Evince in GNOME.)

      If you know of other documents that should be posted here, contact us at:

The Revolutionary and Socialist Era of the USSR (1917-c. 1955)

The Russian Revolution and the Lenin Era

The Soviet Union in the Stalin Era

The State-Capitalist/Social-Imperialist Era of the USSR
(c. 1956-1991)

Discussion and Criticism of the Soviet Union in the State-Capitalist and Social-Imperialist Period