Khrushchev denounces Stalin

Image: Unknown artist (Russia)


Considerations on the book organized by Caetano Pereira de Araujo

Lately, it has not been difficult to find so-called left-wing influencers on YouTube channels and social networks uncritically defending Stalin and his government. The discourse based on an alleged revolutionary purity ends up significantly influencing a portion of the youth that, in search of a “radical way out” to transform society, gives up the defense of democratic values, giving voice, for example, to the anachronistic distinction between bourgeois democracy and democracy. proletarian society, forgetting that if democracy is for only a portion of society, it is not, in fact, democracy.

In this context, Fundação Astrojildo Pereira brings to the public the book Khrushchev denounces Stalin. revolution and democracy. Organized by sociologist Caetano Pereira de Araujo, the publication aims to present this “historical document and the analysis of its consequences, both in the international communist movement and among Brazilian communists”.

The book is divided into three parts: “Impact”, “Denunciation” and “Legacy”; in addition to bringing the full publication of the Secret Report read by Nikita Khrushchev in 1956, in a new translation by historian Rodrigo Ianhez, the Decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU on the overcoming of the cult is also presented for the first time in Brazil in direct translation from Russian to personality and its consequences, from June 1956. Through the work, the reader still has access to unpublished images, selected directly from the Russian State Archive of Political-Social History and texts that seek to discuss the impacts of the report on the world and Brazilian left.

Gianluca Fiocco and José Antonio Segatto open the book by discussing the impact on communist militancy after the confirmation of the crimes perpetrated by the Stalinist regime. According to Gianluca Fiocco, “the Report was a real punch in the stomach for every communist militant, as it shook their certainties and feelings.[I] According to the Italian researcher, the potential impact of the Report “was, therefore, explosive, and was underestimated by a Khrushchev immersed in the battle to consolidate his own power in the USSR”, throughout the text Gianluca Fiocco shows how that event that in the first moment negatively impacted communist militancy ended up contributing to the consolidation in Italy of Togliattian's project of building a fresh and democratic communist party, granting passage to the construction of the Italian road to socialism in a democratic way. Suffice it to recall that at the “VIII Congress of the PCI, even while reaffirming full solidarity with Soviet conduct, it signaled the abandonment of the guiding party, replaced by recognition in principle of the various paths of development towards socialism”.[ii]

Discussing the process of theoretical and political renewal of the PCB, José Antonio Segatto shows how, in the period between 1954 and 1958, the Pecebist political culture would be marked by “a unique set of political and programmatic, theoretical and organizational mutations”, influenced both by the national conjuncture , reflecting the debate about the internal mistakes made in the previous period and mainly due to the impacts of the XX Congress of the CPSU. As occurred in Italy, such events served to air the national left, contributing to the construction of a new political culture.

José Antonio Segatto makes it clear that, “such theses were not immediately absorbed within the party, being put into practice in a partial and restricted way”, even highlighting that many of the propositions presented there were not original, since they had already been worked on in the communist movement International. However, it should not be overlooked that some sectors classified these theses at the time as a demonstration of reformism, the rise of a conciliatory policy, and many other epithets still used by parts of the left today.

However, the impact of such ideas was so significant that they echoed for a long period, generating within the party “dissidence, such as that of the PC do B, the ANL, the MR-8 and PCBR, the prestism, in addition to other minor ones”. ” and even the one that would provoke the last major schism in the Party, when in the early 1990s a small portion of the militancy decided to break with the party that had started a new radical process of transformation, preferring to stick to dogmatic principles. According to Segatto, the propositions brought by the Declaration “would be incorporated, albeit selectively, by groups or parties of the left and others, re-elaborated and systematized, even gained academic legitimacy, with great success in Brazil and abroad”. As the historian Ivan Alves Filho recalls, “if there had been more time to expose divergences, something natural in a political party, perhaps some divisions could have been avoided. This is, at least, what the history of cracks within the PCB teaches”.

On the initiative of the organizer, the reader will also have access to two important testimonies, the first in the form of an article, brings the memories of Antonio Paim, a PCB militant who was in Moscow when the Report was published. According to the doctor, the Report was the “harbinger of the end of the Soviet regime” and its crisis. Veteran activist Moacir Longo reveals in an interview given to Ivan Alves Filho that “many of the issues approved at the XNUMXth Congress ended up being just rhetorical and had no practical effect. From there, the whole crisis that led to the defeat of the Soviet system began”.

Rodrigo Cosenza and Ivan Alves Filho clearly show the impacts caused within the party and the context in which the Declaration of March 1958 was formulated[iii] emphasizing its importance in building a democratic culture within the left. According to the authors, “the Declaration of March 1958 is a major political document, which at the same time resolves immediate issues, modifying a programmatic line so that communists have a more effective capacity to act in national life”, thus signaling, for the construction and consolidation of its own political culture that would reverberate on the left, at least until the final collapse of the Soviet regime.

Starting from a perspective presented by authors such as José Antonio Segatto, Marco Aurélio Nogueira, Raimundo Santos and Gildo Marçal Brandão,[iv] Alves Filho and Cosenza see the production of the Declaration, “as an example of mature political achievement by Brazilian communists, who study reality as it presents itself”, forging a line of political action that will not only point out ways to confront the civil-military dictatorship. military, but also to rethink the process of “social transformation, which incorporated democracy as a condition for its realization”.

Still according to the authors after the discussions about the Secret Report and the impact generated by the denunciations presented during the XX Congress of the CPSU, “various sensitivities were formed in the PCB”, with emphasis on the positions of figures such as Agildo Barata and Osvaldo Peralva, who they led the internal struggle against the then ruling core, seen by the reform group as committed to Stalinist praxis. On the other hand, figures like João Amazonas and Maurício Grabois, bearers of a dogmatic vision, refused to recognize the crimes committed by Stalin. In this dispute, “leaders like Prestes and, above all, Giocondo Dias, sought to avoid the implosion of the party”.

In the midst of this debate, the Declaration of March 1958 appears, according to Alves Filho and Cosenza, the document written “basically by Armênio Guedes,[v] leader very close to Agildo Barata and Astrojildo Pereira, had the objective of offering a horizon to the PCB, placing the democratic question at its center”. In this construction, Armênio “played a unifying role, since he had been political secretary for Luís Carlos Prestes, had graduated from the PCB of Bahia as Giocondo and, to boot, had a solid friendship with Arruda Câmara, with whom he had fought during the Estado Novo. ”.

In the view of the authors, the Declaration would consolidate in the party, the need to build a democratic alternative and its consolidation in society, “so much so that the PCB, in the majority, opted for the political struggle during the military dictatorship, thus avoiding the temptation of armed struggle. , although some militants and prestigious leaders broke with the party at that time”. In view of the set scenario, it is still worth noting that the leaders with effective military experience, Prestes, Giocondo, Dinarco Reis, David Capistrano, Agilberto Azevedo, Gregório Bezerra and Salomão Malina, remained in the party and in the Central Committee. After all, “the March waters had been beneficial to the PCB”. It should be noted that the Declaration itself is published in its entirety so that the reader can read it, interpreting this historic document at his discretion.

With the publication of Khrushchev denounces Stalin. revolution and democracy, the Astrojildo Pereira Foundation reinforces both the legacy of its patron and its own vocation to bring to the public that goes beyond the walls of Universities and political parties a discussion around the values ​​that contribute to forging a truly democratic left. As professor and historian Daniel Aarão Reis states at the opening of the work: “The past socialist adventure helps us to critically evaluate the shortcuts. Socialism will be an adventure for generations, a choice that will have to be taken consciously, or it will be nothing more than a caricature of itself”.

* Daniel Costa He has a degree in history from UNIFESP.


Caetano Pereira de Araujo (org.). Khrushchev denounces Stalin. revolution and democracy. Translation: Rodrigo Ianhez. Brasília, Astrojildo Pereira Foundation, 2022, 236 pages.


[I] Fiocco points out to the reader that “the PCI was the first communist party outside the Soviet bloc to go to the USSR for a debate on the perspectives opened by the Secret Report. For a few weeks now, its distribution had become total and its contents undeniable: on June 4th, the The New York Times he had published his complete text, without a denial coming from Moscow. At Botteghe Oscure there were those who registered with bitterness that, in order to have exact news, the communists depended on the American Embassy”.

[ii] Despite the effort made by the western communist parties in the search for a democratic alternative to socialism, “with the exception of the PCI, the French Communist Party (PCF) and the Communist Party of Finland (SKP), they would remain small and sectarian, without the capacity to influence in the politics of their countries”.

[iii] According to Alves Filho and Cosenza: “It never hurts to remember that politics involves a vision of the world, but also pragmatism and capacity for action. And that some political parties tend to form a culture focused on reading reality in order to better act on it. From this point of view, we can clearly identify the existence of a pecebist culture that is certainly not stagnant in time, but that keeps characteristics that made the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) survive the years of political persecution, acting much of the time in conditions of clandestinity or illegality”.

[iv] For more information see: SANTOS, Raimundo. The first Pecebist renovation; NOGUEIRA, Marco Aurélio. PCB: twenty years of politics (1958-1979); BRANDÃO, Gildo Marçal. The positive left – the two souls of the Communist Party SEGATTO, Jose Antonio. Reform and revolution. The political vicissitudes of the PCB (1954-1964).

[v] Despite the role of Armenian Guedes in drafting the Declaration, the authors themselves point out that, given the echoes of the discussion generated after the XNUMXth Congress of the CPSU, “the Central Committee detaches a group to draft a political declaration aimed at gathering forces around a new line capable of to redefine party action. The organization secretary, Giocondo Dias, the PCB's second man, gave direction and entrusted the task of writing the document to Armênio Guedes, Alberto Passos Guimarães, Dinarco Reis, Jacob Gorender, Mário Alves and Orestes Timbaúba. What is worth noting is that the cream of organic intellectuals and party leaders are called to this task”.

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