Archive for Soviet Union

Another side of the Berlin Wall

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs with tags , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by Umer

by Greg Butterfield

Twenty years ago, a labor organization was on strike under very difficult conditions.

This workers’ organization and its leadership were castigated by the corporate media. The bosses threatened, cajoled and bribed people to cross the picket line. Scabs were brought in.

The heads of the international union colluded with the capitalists to undermine the strike.

Eventually, the strike was lost. But that wasn’t enough for the bosses.

Not satisfied with lowering the workers’ wages and benefits and breaking the union, they sent their state apparatus after the strike leaders with accusations of heinous crimes. The former president was driven into exile to escape prosecution.

The labor organization in question was Amalgamated Transit Workers Union Local 1202, which went on strike against behemoth Greyhound Bus Lines in February 1990.

But everything written above also applies to the German Democratic Republic –socialist East Germany–and the fall of the Berlin Wall a few months earlier, in November 1989. Both the capitalist class and some misinformed progressives have been crowing over the 20th anniversary of that event.

Picket line means ‘Do Not Cross!’

Ask anyone who’s been on strike if it is ever okay to cross a picket line, and you will likely hear a resounding “No!”

The Berlin Wall–so maligned and condemned by war-making imperialists and hand-wringing liberals alike–was nothing but a picket line on a much larger scale.

The wall was erected in 1961 in response to provocations from U.S. imperialism and its West German junior partner meant to destroy the attempt to build socialism in eastern Germany. These provocations included infiltrating East Berlin with anti-communist agents, military threats, and bribing specialists whose labor was need by the workers’ state—the so-called “brain drain.”

The disgusting myth that the Berlin Wall was erected to destroy the freedom of Berliners, immortalized in President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech, is just the opposite of the truth. The capitalist powers wanted to crush the working class’ freedom to build a society unchained from the profit motive.

The Berlin Wall was a world away from the apartheid wall built by Israel around Palestinian population centers, the U.S./South Korean military wall that separates family members from North Korea, or the expanded U.S. wall against immigrants on the border with Mexico.

What is the difference? Those walls are aimed at repressing the workers and oppressed.

The Berlin Wall, by contrast, was built in defense of the workers and oppressed.

Socialist Germany’s accomplishments

The GDR wasn’t the product of a classical revolutionary uprising. It was formed by an alliance of German communist, socialist, and workers’ movements that had resisted Nazism and survived World War II, and the Soviet Red Army that liberated the eastern part of the country, all under the military and economic pressure of the U.S.-initiated Cold War. It was only established after U.S. imperialism and their new allies in the vanquished German ruling class had begun to build up West Germany as a bulwark of aggression against the USSR and its allies.

In some ways, it was a halfway house of socialism.

But whatever its faults, the GDR was a workers’ state that provided jobs, housing and health care for all its residents. It provided aid and support, including military and medical aid, to national liberation movements throughout the world, including the struggle against apartheid in southern Africa.

The GDR provided a safe haven for refugees from fascist terror in countries like Chile and Argentina. Socialist Germany also provided jobs and education for guest workers and students from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East–many of whom were terrorized or driven out by fascist attackers in the early 1990s after reunification with imperialist West Germany.

East Germany was far ahead of any country in the world in lesbian/gay/bi/trans rights and freedoms. The gay liberation movement as we know it grew up within the German socialist and communist movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Regarding women’s rights to education, jobs and housing, and especially in establishing extensive child care, the GDR made enormous strides. Much of this progress was wiped away when the GDR fell.

The German Democratic Republic had a right to defend its sovereignty from imperialism, all the more so since the border between East and West Germany was also the border between the imperialist and the pro-socialist world camps.

Those who cannot or will not defend the right of a workers’ organization to defend itself—whether it is a union, a resistance movement or a workers’ state—will never be able to carry out a successful revolutionary struggle.

Sincere revolutionaries have to learn this lesson, and it is incumbent on those of us who lived through those terrible setbacks to help educate new generations.


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G.Zyuganov’s speech at the 5-th General Assembly ICAPP

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs with tags , , , , on September 28, 2009 by Umer

Gennady Zyuganov, Chairman of the Central Committee of the CPRF, leader of the CPRF faction in the State Duma

Esteemed colleagues, leaders and representatives of the political parties of Asia,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Comrades,

It is a year since the world economic crisis broke out. Its nature and possible consequences are still at the focus of attention. This is a systemic crisis which makes one wonder about the prospects of the American-style global economy that predominates in the world today. This is borne out by the character of the discussion at this Conference where practically every speaker has touched upon the theme.

I think it would be appropriate to express some of the views on the matter worked out by the Russian Communists.

The events late last year and this year have proved the validity of the classical Marxist-Leninist thesis to the effect that crises are an inherent and inevitable part of capitalism. The advocates of a free-for-all market have suddenly discovered that the existing capitalist system would have collapsed but for the resolute state interference. We have watched with interest the government in the citadel of the free market, the USA, doing precisely what the Communists had proposed all along, nationalizing key banks and major corporations.

There is a lively debate on whether the bottom has been reached and whether the recovery of the economy, of which there are some signs, will be fast or slow. Glib pronouncements about the end of the crisis have drowned out some candid and honest assessments which hold that this is a crisis of the current speculative model of capitalism, and that its origin is the United States of America, the beacon of the capitalist world.

Talk about an early end to the crisis is called upon, among other things, to justify the reluctance and inability of the “powers that be” to change anything in the existing model. While at the preparatory stage for the first G20 meeting some concrete and resolute proposals were heard, now they have practically disappeared. And indeed, why change anything if the broken model could be fixed with tax payers’ money. Although the world oligarchy has lost some superfluous fat, it has no intention of giving up its attempts to continue living according to the old templates. The banks, the mainstays of the oligarchic capitalism, which have benefited most from the anti-crisis measures, are staunchly defending corporate interests. They have an iron grip on the actions of their countries’ governments.

However, the locomotive of speculative capitalism has broken down. Cosmetic repairs can be made, but it obviously is no longer able to move forward at the same speed and with the same load. Those who were pinning their hopes exclusively on “effective global capitalism”, including Russia, suffered the most. This should prompt far-reaching conclusions.

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Study of Marxism

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism with tags , , , , , , on September 17, 2009 by Umer

by Imran Barlas

“According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. Other than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase.”Engels

To derive a more accurate conclusion of whether the economic and philosophical theories of Marx can work or not, it would be beneficial to:

  • Study the economic theories themselves

We spend the entirety of our school, college, university years learning about capitalism. We cannot rely on a simple booklet which was never intended to form the basis of economic/philosophical theory anyway. On the contrary, we study in depth about subjects to arrive at truly accurate analyses about how the world works.

After all, something is clearly wrong with how the world works today. Today, we are in what is being termed as the Great Recession. Had the major capitalist economies not regulated or intervened through the state, it would have been quite likely that we would have entered a Depression. And that would have been even more disastrous.

Why is it then that despite having Ivy League graduates at the helm of businesses, top professionals from the highest ranking universities regarded as some of the smartest people in the world, that the interlinked economies were quite helpless in preventing the crisis? The answer is that the crisis is systemic. No matter how smart one is or how moral one is, the nature of the system is such that recessions and depressions, i.e. perpetual failures will continue to result due to the irreconcilable antagonism between labor and capital.

The effects on people of a recession are obvious. Hundreds of thousands are thrown out of their jobs. Those workers that remain begin to see reductions in their wages so that the owners/shareholders may continue to stay rich! The ‘symbiotic’ relationship between capitalists and workers that is so often claimed in university text books ends without a second thought. Resource based wars start brewing for the retention of profitability and economic vitality. And so on.

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Farewell to history

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2009 by Umer

by Sitaram Yechury

The victor, inevitably, scripts history. Historians’ labour unearths the virtues and valour of the vanquished describing the plight of ‘people’ caught in the crossfire. The victor, however, does not stop at authoring ‘official’ history of any one event alone but seeks to re-write all history to consolidate its current hegemony. Following the collapse of the USSR and in the present conjecture of the global capitalist recession, the West seeks to reinterpret World War II’s history by equating fascism with communism.

In 2004, to deflect rising global protests against the US military occupation of Iraq, on the 50th anniversary of the landing of the Allied troops at Normandy, all North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders assembled to project themselves as the champions of the victory over fascism liberating Western Europe. They deliberately concealed the fact that for every allied soldier who laid down his life, fighting fascism, there were 40 Soviet soldiers who laid down their lives. Over 20 million Soviet soldiers and people lost their lives. In 1,418 days of war, the Soviet Union lost nine lives every minute, 857 every hour and 14,000 lives a day.

On the 70th anniversary of fascist Germany’s attack on Poland (September 1, 1939, 4.40 am), which started the World War II, a similar attempt is being made to once again distort history. This is necessary for the advanced capitalist powers to seek to prevent the growth of socialist ideas and Left politics, as currently seen in various countries of Latin America, in the wake of the worst capitalist economic recession since the Great Depression. Today, the US has an unprecedented seven million people unemployed. The European Union is faring no better. Under these circumstances, it is imperative for them to decry the glorious role of the Soviet Union and, by implication any socialist alternative, in the defeat of fascism.

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Permanent Revolution

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism with tags , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2009 by Umer

The Red Diary has been posting material about Trotskyism for some time. In view of many, the debates that surrounded the Russain Revolution are not relevant in the Twenty First century. I don’t agree with such a view. In my view, many questions of the current day politics, the politics of the Left in specific, can massively benefit from the debates that marked the Russian Revolution.

 

Permanent Revolution

by Taimur Rahman

One of the things that I have realized while talking to Trotskyists is that their understanding of Marxist theory specifically with respect to the bourgeois democratic revolution is actually very weak.

They all think that Lenin came around to the view of permanent revolution in April 1917. This is actually completely incorrect and is obvious to anyone that has read Lenin in any detail.

The major confusion in this regard is because Trotskyists do not understand what the bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolution means? They think it means the establishment of a bourgeois government. But this is completely incorrect.

When Marxist-Leninists write that society is at the bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolution, what we mean is that the task of destroying pre-capitalist economic relations has not yet been completed by the development of a nascent capitalism.

Meaning, landlords continue to dominate the countryside and feudalism or other pre-capitalist modes of production are widespread in society.

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What does the USSR mean to our generation?

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by Umer

In her three-part presentation, Joti Brar looks at the barrage of anti-communist propaganda that recent generations have been subjected to. The purpose of this propaganda is clear: to undermine the confidence of workers to take action to change society by making us believe that revolution is pointless; that, no matter what our intentions, if we try to change society, it will go wrong; and to negate the real achievements in building socialism in the Soviet Union by slandering the leader of that building process. As we flip through the pages of history and discover the poverty and misery that the world at present is surrounded with, there is a question that is bound to arise: was this whole experience of the workers’ state, despite its defeat, a pointless project? Or, can we the people, while learning from past mistakes, rebuild socialism to bring heavens down to earth?

Economics of Socialism in USSR

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Marxism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2009 by Umer

Comrade Taimur Rahman of Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party discusses how a planned socialist economy enabled the primitive Tsarist Russsia to unlock the creativity of her people, transforming the USSR into a cultural, social, technological,  scientific, industrial, political, diplomatic and military superpower in a few short decades:

Part 1

Part 2

Comrade Harpal Brar of Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) continues on Comrade Rahman’s theme, explaining certain aspects of rapid innovation, cultural and scientific advance in the USSR:

Part 3