May–September issues 2000
FIVE. Analysing the necessary revolutionary future of progress is not guesswork but the essential reliable science about society without which there will be no transformation to workers running their own lives. Grotesque imperialist rivalry at the heart of 'Euroland', plus the conspiracy to defraud the vote in the 'world's greatest democracy', puts pressure on bogus 'socialists' to say when and how this 'free world' farce will be ended. Phantom 'popularity' is as big a hoax on the petty-bourgeois 'left' as it is around the regular representatives of parliamentary capitalist opportunism. Mass movements unlikely until some worthwhile revolutionary perspectives are outlined. Empty 'Marxist' posturing which cannot explain its revisionist or anti-communist history will not be believed. Hindsight lessons from the past, such as Spain, are crucial for building scientific socialist consciousness. An accurate analysis of Third International revisionist disasters is now vital for routing Stalinist and Trotskyist sectarian defeatists. Stalin's 'peace' theory was just a catastrophe, doing 60 years damage to the Soviet workers state and the socialist camp cause, - and still unresolved to this day.
The crisis sharpens for fake-'lefts' in Britain (and elsewhere) to come off the fence and tell the international proletariat how the fight against monopoly imperialist world domination is going to end. From the 'electoral reform' opportunism of the 'Socialist Alliance'. Trot sects to the anti-theory museum-Stalinist philistinism of the CPB/SLP/Lalkar sects, - the working class is denied all leadership on the utterly crucial question of exactly, how the class war for socialism is to be won.
The ever-increasing signs of the Western monopoly-capitalist system falling apart everywhere, - economically, politically, and socially, - make this an issue of growing urgency. These 57 varieties of fake 'lefts' can pretend all they like about getting 'increased following' on the way towards 'mass support' but there is not one word of truth in it, - - and there will be no serious worthwhile socialist movement until millions of workers start to hear an explanation of capitalist chaos, and how it will end, that begins to make sense.
The largest fake-'left' group, the SWP, notoriously refuses ever to commit itself to detailed perspectives about how imperialism is ultimately to be toppled. Other groups in the anti-communist Trot spectrum may formally acknowledge the desperate need for a scientific programme for a non-capitalist future (before any serious socialist consciousness can be successfully fought for in the workers movement) but it invariably remains a purely sketch, academic offering which never gets elaborated in the course of immediate 'practical' agitation and struggle; - which is, of course, the only place where the necessary theory can begin to be made real for the working class. In their sectarian journals, there is endless reportage about Palestine, Kosovo, Third World poverty, Ireland, inter-imperialist strife, etc, etc (i.e. on good days when not filled with shallow propaganda about tedious manoeuvring for opportunist advantage against each other from among the 57 varieties, within the arenas of joint activity they share (union disputes, election campaigns, membership poaching, etc)), - - -but almost never any conclusions drawn about how these new developments on some frontline anti-imperialist struggle or other, demonstrate the truth or otherwise for whichever particular theory is held to for achieving the socialist revolution on earth.
Passionate arguments are put forward for or against Kosovo Albanian self-determination rights versus Serbian self-determination rights, - to a background of Western imperialist subversion, intervention, and generally reactionary skulduggery which is going to continue to screw everybody, - - but little is ever said, if anything at all, about how the whole monstrous Balkanisation warmongering nonsense ends. How is any obvious way forward for socialism for mankind being illustrated by the steadily-growing mess in the Balkans? Or in Occupied Palestine? Or in Blairism's crisis (petrol blockade; Peckham youth anarchy; European Union unending conflict; etc, etc)? Or in everything else that is happening and getting discussed? There is either zero inspiration for the working class towards socialist consciousness; or there is even only a reactionary education, when the only perspectives being worked into the debates are limited to 'Get out of Europe'; or 'Keep the pound'; or 'Peaceful coexistence between a Zionist and a Palestinian state would be nicer'; or "Back 'left' Labour candidates or TUC office candidates if they accept a minimum 'reformist' programme"; etc, etc, etc.
None of this remotely addresses the crucial role that revolutionary theory is inevitably going to have to play before working class socialist consciousness shortly becomes the decisive political force on earth. Every variety of revisionism and Trotskyism spouts about its 'Marxist-Leninist' credentials ceaselessly; but every vital lesson is in reality ignored, especially the key understanding that without revolutionary theory, there will never be lasting successful revolutionary practice.
How, for example, is the defence of the abstract 'right to self-determination' for the Kosovo Albanian pro-American mafia-separatists going to help the cause of the international proletariat for defeating US imperialist domination worldwide??? The Trots simply ignore the question. So how or why is the confused and frustrated working class in Britain (or anywhere else) supposed to become passionately involved in this issue one way or the other?
Or how, for example, is the 'defence of Yugoslavia' (when it amounted to a defence of the crooked, mercenary, anti-communist Milosevic regime) going to inspire an international fight to build dedicated workers-state regimes, building socialism??? The museum-Stalinists and other revisionists did not say when calling for support for the Belgrade regime; and delicately forget about the previous slogan now that these wretched mercenary Milosevic losers have halfway abandoned their joke 'anti-imperialist' fight altogether.
The working class is never going to respond in vast revolutionary-fighting numbers to this endless fence-sitting mealy-mouthed 'left' posturing by all 57 varieties of Trotskyism and revisionism, whether bogusly 'united' in phoney (anti-theory) 'alliances' or not. Only the serious perspectives for the eventually inevitably worldwide victory over the rapidly decaying imperialist market-anarchy system will inspire workers to the revolutionary front-line again, fighting for socialism.
Making a caricature of this as a demand for "instant revolution, now, immediately, on every issue", etc, etc, will not make the problem go away. The working class will remain uninspired by just re-runs of electoral 'left reformist promises' nearly 100 years after they first failed with Labour, (as the 'Socialist Alliances' are trying). Or by re-runs of revisionism's equally-vague 'left pressure' and 'anti-monopoly fronts' nearly 70 years after their first failure under the already-theoretically-bankrupt Stalinist Third International.
A believable, verifiable scientific analysis of incurable imperialist economic crisis and inter-imperialist conflict inevitability, - plus verifiable evidence of spontaneous revolutionary struggle breaking out all over the world; which will precisely be looking for exactly such an overall revolutionary perspective on the collapse and defeat of the imperialist system in due course, - -- - is what the international proletariat desperately needs, and will alone respond to in vast unbeatable movements ever again.
The crucial requirement to draw out correct revolutionary theory is even more pressing and unanswerable on vexed historical questions than anywhere else. Nothing could be sicker or sadder than getting into an argumentative lather about the Stalinist Popular Front policy in the Spanish Civil War if "being smarter with hindsight" was not precisely the whole purpose of re-examining such issues in the first place. Only some utterly sterile tradition of self-regarding subjectivism (i.e. the long-doomed CP/Third International/Moscow loyalist/revisionist tradition) could possibly wish to rake over these past significant lessons solely in order to justify their previous partisan positions on such moribund disasters.
It is precisely the utterly decisive nature of the absence of, or confusion about, the long-term socialist perspective to justify immediate policies, that makes the tragic situation in Spain in the 1930s so valuable and important to re-examine. It is almost the classic lesson explaining, well in advance, the ultimate self-liquidation catastrophe which revisionist theoretical muddle eventually destroyed the world's first workers state with.
The Popular Front, - or more particularly the propaganda illusions which developed alongside this policy in Spain, - first most prominently established the later totally-dominant understanding around the Third international (especially in the West) that protecting the USSR from all imperialist annihilation; agitating for world peace against fascist aggression; and applying constant 'left pressure' in every capitalist country; - would finally all add up to the steady development of the socialist camp eventually proving its superiority to the world colonial imperialist system.
In the end, this all amounted to completely disarming nonsense, pushing the Third International European parties, for example, down the 'peaceful road to socialism' blind alley where the only final achievement was more and more revisionist illusions, eventually resulting in open hostility to the dictatorship of the proletariat of the Soviet workers state, (including by the CPSU leadership itself in due course), and self-liquidation all-round as remotely serious 'communist parties' any more. If the huge revolutionary tasks facing mankind were not going to be specifically spelled out but were going to be deliberately ignored, then the quietist complacency of this implied world view(as to the best way to socialist-state salvation of human civilisation) was going to be bound to relentlessly breed utterly disabling revisionist confusion and nonsense henceforth,post-1930s.
Stalin's report to the 18th CPSU Congress was delivered in March 1939. Despite correctly describing the warmongering world imperialist crisis, then in almost full momentum, the report disastrously fails to even mention socialist revolution as the best (and only final) answer to imperialist warmongering; or discuss its prospects at all. Quite the contrary, Stalin yawns out the most breathtakingly complacent drivel so as to go through the bureaucratic motions of his 'world communist leader' report, and earn his standing ovation.
Here is the best of all that Stalin had to say for inspiring the world communist revolutionary movement with, at this infamously foul and explosive moment in imperialist history which was about to plunge the planet into its most appallingly murderous bloodbath ever (and had already started in the Far East, in Spain, in Central Europe, etc, as Stalin records). It is littered with such barmy complacencies as describing British and French imperialism, for example, as "the non-aggressive countries"; and while aware of the Western conspiracy to provoke a German invasion of the USSR, treats the threat almost as a casual joke. After hearing this address, the world revolutionary movement would have turned over for another long comfortable sleep. The amazing heartbreaking tragedy in Spain does not even get any report at all, apart from mentioning the ruthlessness of the German Italian "seizure of Spain" and the rank hypocrisy of the rest of the West's bogus "non-intervention policy", almost in passing:
'In its foreign policy the Soviet Union relies upon:
1. Its growing economic, political and cultural might;
2. The moral and political unity of our Soviet society;
3. The mutual friendship of the nations of our country;
4. Its Red Army and Red Navy;
5. Its policy of peace;
6. The moral support of the working people of all countries who are vitally concerned in the preservation of peace;
7. The good sense of the countries which for one reason another have no interest in the violation of peace.
The tasks of the Party in the sphere of foreign policy are:
1. To continue the policy of peace and of strengthening business relations with ,all countries;
2. To be cautious and not allow our country to be drawn into conflicts by warmongers who are accustomed to have others pull the chestnuts out of the fire for them;
3. To strengthen the might of our Red Army and Red Navy to the utmost;
4. To strengthen the international bonds of friendship with the working people of all countries, who are interested in peace and friendship among nations.
At the same time, in order to strengthen its international position, the Soviet Union decided to take certain other steps. At the end of 1934 our country joined the League of Nations, considering that despite its weakness the League might nevertheless serve as a place where aggressors could be exposed, and as a certain instrument of peace, however feeble, that might hinder the outbreak of war. The Soviet Union considers that in alarming times like these even so weak an international organization as the League of Nations should not be ignored. In May 1935 a treaty of mutual assistance against possible attack by aggressors was signed between France and the Soviet Union. A similar treaty was simultaneously concluded with Czechoslovakia. In March 1936 the Soviet Union concluded a treaty of mutual assistance with the Mongolian People's Republic. In August 1937 the Soviet Union concluded a pact of non-aggression with the Chinese Republic.
It was in such difficult international conditions that the Soviet Union pursued its foreign policy of upholding the cause of peace.
Or take Germany, for instance. They let her have Austria, despite the undertaking to defend her independence; they let her have the Sudeten region; they abandoned Czechoslovakia to her fate, thereby violating all their obligations; and then they began to lie vociferously in the press about "the weakness of the Russian army," "the demoralization of the Russian air force," and "riots" in the Soviet Union, egging on the Germans to march farther east, promising them easy pickings, and prompting them: "Just start war on the Bolsheviks, and everything will be all right." It must be admitted that this too looks very much like egging on and encouraging the aggressor.
The hullabaloo raised by the British, French and American press over the Soviet Ukraine is characteristic. The gentlemen of the press there shouted until they were hoarse that the Germans were marching on the Soviet Ukraine, that they now had what is called the Carpathian Ukraine, with a population of some seven hundred thousand, and that not later than this spring the Germans would annex the Soviet Ukraine, which has a population of over thirty million, to this so-called Carpathian Ukraine. It looks as if the object of this suspicious hullabaloo was to incense the Soviet Union against Germany, to poison the atmosphere and to provoke a conflict with Germany without any visible grounds. It is quite possible, of course, that there are madmen in Germany who dream of annexing the elephant, that is, the Soviet Ukraine, to the gnat, namely, the so-called Carpathian Ukraine. If there really are such lunatics in Germany, rest assured that we shall find enough strait jackets for them in our country. (Thunderous applause.) But if we ignore the madmen and turn to normal people, is it not clearly absurd and foolish seriously to talk of annexing the Soviet Ukraine to this so-called Carpathian Ukraine? Imagine: the gnat comes to the elephant and says perkily: "Ah, brother, how sorry I am for you . . . . Here you are without any landlords, without any capitalists, with no national oppression, without any fascist bosses. Is that a way to live?. . . I look at you and I can't. help thinking that there is no hope for you unless you annex yourself to me .... (General laughter.)'
Not 'absurd' at all, of course; but Stalin (allegedly) was to repeat this complacency in (supposedly) denying the reality of German invasion plans right up to the last minute in June 1941 when the greatest land war in history was finally unleashed against the USSR, - thereby unnecessarily undermining the Soviet defence capabilities enormously in the first instance, (it is said).
Avoiding giving the imperialists the slightest provocation for unleashing invasion is one thing (e.g. by refusing to rise to Western alarmist propaganda, deliberately trying to humiliate the Soviet Union). Signing the USSR-German non-aggression pact in August 1939 in order to split the growing forces of Western imperialist aggression into two camps was sound tactics. But the complacency about how dangerous the imperialist war threat might be to the Soviet workers state is a piece of infamous nonsense, inextricably tied up with Stalin's by-then utterly static attitude to world developments.
But the greatest crime of all is this failure to address a single word to the international revolutionary movement of the working class at such a decisive turning point in anti-imperialist history and colonial-liberation struggle, which was to see the world virtually transformed within another decade by such momentous developments as the Chinese revolution, and the start to the enforced (by revolt) dismantling of the physical Western colonial empires. Such non-consideration of the crucial role in world history to be played by the proletariat's own revolutions all round the world, leaves no doubt as to the prime source of the self-liquidating revisionist gibberish which, for example, had pushed the British CP into the 'peaceful road to socialism' nonsense by 1950 (Moscow-approved, and Stalin still with three years to go in charge, before dying in office) and had transformed the whole world movement into not much more than a ludicrous campaign for nuclear-disarmament and peaceful coexistence.
This "upholding the cause of peace" (JVS) is the most sick and deceitful twaddle imaginable. There is only one scientific Marxist message for mankind and that is that there will be no peace for mankind for as long as the imperialist system continues to hold sway on earth.
And only truly monstrous sophistry would try pretending that this 'world peace perspective', which obliterated all else from large parts of the international communist movement for the next 50 years, was just a 'temporary tactic to avoid giving imperialist aggression cause for provocation' It failed to disarm imperialism from the worldwide holocaust of World War II, and was bound to fail. It failed to disarm imperialism from more wars since 1945 than in any other period of history, together cumulatively dwarfing by far the massive destructiveness of WWII. It succeeded only in temporarily disarming Soviet defences for 1941, and in permanently disarming large parts of the world communist-led workers movement from any understanding of the revolutionary socialist future for mankind for the following 50 years.
It was no "clever, temporary tactic". It was total revisionist degeneration.
It could truly have been argued about Spain, - (against the light-minded imbecilities of Trot ultra-left academicism that the socialist revolution was there for the taking, and that it was deliberately counter-revolutionarily sabotaged by Comintern agents, etc) - that the USSR could not even think about intervening on the scale of German and Italian imperialist support for Franco, - and Western hypocrisy that this amounted to 'non-intervention', - because it would have been fingered and isolated instantly by the entire imperialist camp as the sole 'trouble-making international aggressor', and invaded accordingly by the entire might of Britain, France, USA, Germany, Italy, and Japan combined, - there and then in 1936, without waiting for the eventual blitzkrieg in 1941.
And it could be further argued that the Soviet Union alone seriously stood by the beleaguered Spanish Republic, providing arms, other aid, and volunteers at enormous risk, overcoming huge logistical difficulties, and at a time when it was still dirt-poor itself. It was a heroic effort.
And it could also theoretically be added that there was nothing to stop the Spanish anti-fascist movement from carrying out the socialist revolution itself, which would obviously have been the only serious way of stopping Franco's victory. Except that in reality, a lot was stopping the Spanish anti-fascist movement from its one real hope of triumph, - and that was the policy of the CPSU, the Third international, and the Spanish CP. Their policy was not for a socialist revolution to defeat fascism, but for a Popular Front of every brand of petty-bourgeois parliamentary democracy in sight to all band together to "bar the way to fascism"; and internationally to combine to "uphold the cause of peace". But the permanently confused nonsense of every brand of petty-bourgeois parliamentary democracy in the face of warmongering imperialist aggression is the very guarantee of the victory of 'fascism' for getting the guns and police-dictatorship out, - plus the diversion of aggressive foreign wars, - as soon as the world imperialist economic anarchy-system runs into uncontrollable international crisis. It was the weak confusion of the German parliament of petty-bourgeois democracy which actually elected Hitler to be the Chancellor and head a new coalition government. It was the weak confusion of the Spanish parliament of petty-bourgeois democracy which abysmally failed to rally Spain to defeat Franco's fascist coup, - despite the heroic individual efforts of the communist contingents and others in the civil war.
The only call which might possibly have succeeded in rallying sufficient class forces to defeat the fascist-imperialist lumpen/petty bourgeois nationalism of Franco would have been that for a socialist state under the dictatorship of the proletariat, rallying the working class and the poorest peasants, the majority of the population. The communist movement went down to bitter defeat never having supported it or tried it, - thanks to the miserable revisionist corruption of Third International theory by this time.
This theoretical bankruptcy was to get worse and worse and worse. So-called 'fascism'-(in reality only the imperialist bourgeois system, in crisis and needing to bang aggressive chauvinist-war drums and dictatorial internal scapegoating of 'the enemy within',in order to divert the working class from socialist revolution as a better answer to capitalist collapse & slump mess) - was further demonised to the insane point of differentiating 'bad' imperialists (Germany, etc) from 'good' imperialists (the USA, etc) that 'reliable alliances' could be developed with. The worst 'fascist' crimes in history (the US imperialist brutal destruction and mass-murder inflicted on Korea and Vietnam while McCarthyist persecution and witch-hunts drove people to suicide in the USA just for opposing the warmongering) committed by the 'good' Western imperialists and repeated more than 400 times since 1945 in endless counter-revolutionary bullying, coups, interventions, and sabotage, all round the world, - - failed to erase this revisionist theoretical nonsense.
The world communist movement was still resolutely led to continue "upholding the cause of world peace" alongside these 'good imperialist' warmongering monsters throughout every brutal counter-revolutionary crime imaginable, imposed on a worldwide scale.
Tactical caution was always needed, undoubtedly. No one revolutionary cause was worth the nuclear annihilation of the Soviet Union - or anywhere else, come to that. But corrupted revisionist theory had nothing whatever to do with tactical caution to avoid giving US imperialism cause to 'go to war'. It went to war as often as it liked, and it was only fear of destruction by Soviet missiles that held Washington back from even nastier counter-revolutionary bullying and devastation around the planet than was actually murderously committed. The universal CP 'upholding world peace' played no part whatever in restraining US imperialism at any time, on any aggressive-chauvinist-warmongering outrage.
All that 'tactical caution' achieved was to blind the international communist movement to mistake after mistake, to retreat after retreat, to cowardly betrayal after cowardly betrayal as Moscow's revisionist-corrupted perspectives advised or approved CPs everywhere into one 'left pressure' or 'reformist' dead end after another, - ending in anti-revolutionary positions or self-liquidation in party after party.
And the common theme throughout was always this total failure to invite the working class to fight, but without remotely providing a believable perspective for socialism which would make fighting worthwhile.
All the differences which ever split the socialist-camp party leaderships into damaging feuds (Moscow-Belgrade; Moscow-Beijing; Beijing-Hanoi; etc, etc) almost certainly flowed, among other things, from an inability to work out a convincing world-perspective on the defeat of imperialism which could meet everyone's particular problems with imperialism, or put some confidence behind the hopes for long term communist unity. Moscow's confused unreliability on anti-imperialist matters long predates Stalin's demise. Having pumped out wrong understandings of critical class-war situations and international developments since even before the 1930s, Moscow's theoretical revisionist disasters should no longer even be an issue. Trying to blame the catastrophic degeneration of the CPSU on some allegedly cranky marketing theories of those who came after Stalin is just bizarre dogma, fitting for a moribund petty-bourgeois sect of museum-Stalinists. Trying to wriggle Stalin's grossest work "Economic Problems of Socialism" (1952) out of the firing line, is just nuts.
Like some weird mental condition, museum-Stalinism is still trying to deny that the plain revisionist nonsense declared by Stalin, was ever in fact stated.
For the umpteenth time, just read the words which follow the boast about how rapidly the East European socialist-camp economies are developing:
'It may be confidently said that, with this pace of industrial development, it will soon come to pass that these countries will not only to in no need of imports, from capitalist countries, but will themselves feel the necessity of finding an outside market ,for their surplus products.
But it follows from this that the sphere of exploitation of the world's resources by the major capitalist countries (U.S.A., Britain, France) will not expand, but contract; that their opportunities for sale in the world market will deteriorate, and that their industries will be operating more and more below capacity. That, in fact, is what is meant by the deepening of the general crisis of the world capitalist system in connection with the disintegration of the world market.
This is felt by the capitalists themselves, for it would be difficult for them not to feel the loss of such markets as the U.S.S.R. and China. They are trying to offset these difficulties with the "Marshall plan," the war in Korea, frantic rearmament, and industrial militarization. But that is very much like a drowning man clutching at a straw.
This state of affairs has confronted the economists with two questions
a) Can it be affirmed that the thesis expounded by Stalin before the Second World War regarding the relative stability of markets in the period of the general crisis of capitalism is still valid?
b) Can it be affirmed that the thesis expounded by Lenin in the spring of 1916 - namely, that, in spite of the decay of capitalism, "on the whole, capitalism is growing far more rapidly than before" - is still valid?
I think that it cannot. In view of the new conditions to which the Second World War has given rise, both these theses must be regarded as having lost their validity.
This insane idea was repeated in Soviet economic textbook after Soviet economic textbook. Not a single young Russian grew up not believing that the West was economically crumbling. It was a confirmed article of faith in the Higher Party School in Moscow, no matter how vigorously some visitors tried to warn them off such a distorted understanding of the essential harm to mankind of Western imperialist economics.
Did it matter? It was crucially needed to bolster up the long-standing Stalinist complacency that socialist economic achievements were outstripping the best that the West could achieve, and therefore "upholding world peace" was all that was now needed to bring about world socialism in due course. Even in the 1939 Congress report, Stalin was declaring:
Our agriculture, consequently, is not only run on the largest scale, is not only the most mechanized in the world, and therefore produces the largest surplus for the market, but is also more fully equipped with modern machinery than the agriculture of any other country.'
It was gibberish, but it justified the steady retreat from having to grapple with the difficulties of completing the world socialist revolution by revolutionary means. Keep sowing the idiocy that the 'peaceful road to socialism' can solve all problems, - and the complications evaporate.
Stalin then declares that, correctly, inter-imperialist wars are still a possibility, even inevitable where the peace movement fails to prevent belligerence. But in making the point, Stalin adds(incorrectly) that another world-war (generalised war) can be prevented by the peace movement; that far from the socialist overthrow of imperialism being the only final way to guarantee this world peace, world peace and socialist revolution are two separate things entirely; and the outbreak of non-globalised inter-imperialist war is placed in view without the slightest thought or hint that further socialist revolution might be the compensatory outcome:
The object of the present-day ,peace movement is to rouse the masses of the people to fight for the preservation of peace and for the prevention of another world war. Consequently, the aim of this movement is not to overthrow capitalism and establish socialism - it confines itself to the democratic aim of preserving peace. In this respect, the present-day peace movement differs from the movement of the time of the First World War for the conversion of the imperialist war into civil war, since the latter movement went farther and pursued socialist aims.
It is possible that in a definite conjuncture of circumstances the fight for peace will develop here or there into a fight for socialism: But then it will no longer be the present-day peace movement; it will be a movement for the overthrow of capitalism.
It is said that the contradictions between capitalism and socialism are stronger than the contradictions among the capitalist countries. Theoretically, of course, that is true. It is not only true now, today; it was true before the Second World War. And it was more or less realized by the leaders of the capitalist countries. Yet the Second World War began not as a war with the U.S.S.R., but as a war between capitalist countries. Why? Firstly, because war with the U.S.S.R., as a socialist land, is more dangerous to capitalism than war between capitalist countries; for whereas war between capitalist countries puts in question only the supremacy of certain capitalist countries over others, war with the U.S.S.R. must certainly put in question the existence of capitalism itself.'
But reality most famously was exactly the other way about. The most important events in world history, the Russian and Chinese socialist revolutions, flourished exactly in the aftermath of inter-imperialist wars. It was precisely the outcome of inter-imperialist wars which "put in question the existence of capitalism itself".
And precisely the contrary of Stalin's assertions was the truth about the third greatest event in world history, the survival of the Soviet workers state of the second great imperialist onslaught to crush it. It was "war with the USSR", but far from "putting in question the existence of capitalism itself", Moscow signed a 'spheres of influence' anti-revolutionary agreement with the imperialist system which precisely preserved capitalism in a number of countries where it might have been toppled (Greece, for example). And while East Europe fell to workers-state takeovers, these played as much a part (under Moscow guidance) in the preservation of peaceful coexistence with imperialism as they did in furthering the movement for the international revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.
The real point is that Stalin's judgement of the importance of rival world perspectives is all wrong. The revolutions in China, Vietnam, Cuba, etc, were the only worthwhile future for mankind. Denying US imperialism war-provocation opportunities with the USSR (which the US did not really fancy anyway) was as much a diversion from the real fascist evil imperialism got on with everywhere anyway, - frequently ignored by Moscow (such as the cold-blooded massacre of 1 million members of the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965, and scores more similar international fascist outrages). And what use was it in the long run in any case??? The USSR is not there now. US imperialism could now nuclear-blitzkrieg most of the world anyway, and no one would do anything about it. So where has all the holding back from socialist revolution got the world since 1945??? It has just made US imperialism more aggressively arrogant, and more fascistically brutal, than any imperialist warmongering threat that has ever existed, -thanks to the utterly useless revisionist gibberish which virtually wiped out the world revolutionary communist movement, and largely thanks to Stalin's own hopeless theoretical confusion.
Fake-'left' leadership of all kinds perpetually postures mightily about this and that issue in the anti-imperialist movement, but routine opportunist philistinism never commits itself to stating in what long-term context of completing the world socialist revolution is the 'advice' being dispensed.
'Popular Front government'; 'Uphold world peace'; 'Defend Yugoslavia'; 'Kosovo-Albanian self-determination'; 'Coexisting Zionist and Palestinian states'; etc, etc, etc. But where does the socialist revolution, the only thing that can be expected to seriously arouse the working class, fit into all this posturing??? There is no answer, just more acres of reportage about how wickedly imperialism. always behaves. And in the massive Lalkar rigmarole (see Review 1068) on Palestine, reporting on everything except the vital necessity to reinstate the perspective of socialist revolution to the anti-imperialist fight,- this museum-Stalinist structure for the conscious prolongation of philistinism in the workers movement, even has the brass neck to leave out of its historical resumé any reference at all to Stalinist revisionism's role in agreeing to the setting up of the Zionist colonisation of Palestine in the first place in 1947-48, - let alone any analysis of that disastrous lunacy, or even any traditional revisionist 'apologetics' for this counter-revolutionary imbecility. Trot and revisionist anti-theory philistinism are as rotten as each other, - and as anti-communist.
But imperialist crisis goes on deepening relentlessly. Posturing in front of the working class about this and that but without committing one word or thought about where socialist revolution fits into the scheme of things in order to give a serious worthwhile perspective to anti-imperialist struggle, will be unlikely to inspire mass workers movements henceforth.
"But we have heard it all before about capitalist crisis" cynics will say. "Let us get on with something practical". What, like "upholding world peace". Or 1997 SWP-style "making sure the Tories get defeated" (i.e. by voting Labour!!!). The working class is learning contempt for all this fake-'left' posturing.
So how bankrupt is the capitalist system? Any week, the capitalist press itself will give the answer, - exactly as the EPSR regularly re-presents it (as below):
The Observer discovered that Harris's office had ordered the elimination of 8,000 Florida voters on the grounds that they had committed felonies in other states. None had. Harris bought the bum list from a company called ChoicePoint, a firm whose Atlanta executive suite and boardroom are filled with Republican funders.
ChoicePoint, we have learned, picked up the list of faux felons from state officials in - ahem - Texas. In fact, it was a roster of people who, like their Governor, George W, had committed nothing more than misdemeanours.
For Harris, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his brother, the Texas blacklist was a mistake made in Heaven. Most of those targeted to have their names 'scrubbed' from the voter roles were African-Americans, Hispanics and poor-white folk, likely voters for Vice-President Gore. We don't know how many voters lost their citizenship rights before the error was discovered by a few sceptical county officials, before ChoicePoint, which has gamely 'fessed-up to the Texas-sized error, produced a new list of 58,000 felons.
In May, Harris sent on the new, improved scrub sheets to the county election boards. Maybe it's my bad attitude, but I thought it worthwhile to check out the new list. Sleuthing around county offices with a team of researchers from internet newspaper Salon.com, we discovered that the 'correct' list wasn't so correct.
One elections supervisor, Linda Howell of Madison County, was so upset by the errors that she refused to use the Harris/ChoicePoint list. How could she be so sure the new list identified innocent people as felons? Because her own name was on it, 'and I assure you, I am not a felon'.
Our 10-county review suggests a minimum 15 per cent misidentification rate. That makes another 7,000 innocent people accused of crimes and stripped of their citizenship rights in the run-up to the presidential race. And not just any 7,000 people. Hillsborough (Tampa) county statisticians found that 54 per cent of the names on the scrub list belonged to African-Americans, who voted 93 per cent for Gore.
Now our team, diving deeper into the swamps, has discovered yet a third group whose voting rights were stripped. The ChoicePoint-generated list includes 1,704 names of people who, earlier in their lives, were convicted of felonies in Illinois and Ohio. Like most American states, these two restore citizenship rights to people who have served their time in prison and then remained on the good side of the law.
Florida strips those convicted in its own courts of voting rights for life. But Harris's office concedes, and county officials concur, that the state of Florida has no right to impose this penalty on people who have moved in from these other states.
The tide of human suffering left by Japan's limping economy is unlikely to end soon. Bankruptcies are rising and so are suicides. Now economists warn the economy is lurching towards recession - the fourth big slowdown -in a decade.
Robbie Feldman at Morgan Stanley Dean Winer in Tokyo says: "We expect negative growth this quarter and, perhaps, next quarter.
A hard landing of the American economy would add to Japan's mounting problems.
Since the collapse of the "bubble economy" 10 years ago, Japan has spent vast sums on public-works programmes and bank bail-outs. But these efforts, which have driven the national debt to a record 130% of gross domestic product (GDP), have failed to reflate the economy and produce sustained growth. Further government spending is likely to lift the deficit to an extraordinary 220% of GDP by 2006, according to David Asher at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
Worse still, many of the economic reforms that foreigners had been counting on to revive the economy could be abandoned as the weak and unpopular government of Yoshiro Mori struggles to stay in power and tries to win favour with conservative politicians.
Last month the head of the Financial Reconstruction Committee (FRC), which was created in 1998 to reform the banking sector, took a big backward step when he asked banks to refrain from selling their vast portfolios of shares.
The FRC had earlier encouraged banks to sell their cross-shareholdings in corporate clients to. free them from their ties to customers and enable them to write off bad loans. Although the banks' sales of shares have been blamed for a 30% collapse of the Nikkei index, foreign investors have been bigger sellers and the collapse of new internet stocks such as Soft- bank and Hikari Tsushin have accounted for most of the market's decline.
Bad loans continue to rise, despite the government's £100billion attempt to clean up the banking sector. The amount owed by companies that failed in the first half of this year rose nearly 50% year-on-year to a record £70 billion.
One of the biggest failures in that period was Sogo, a department-store chain, which collapsed with £8 billion of debts. A plan to save Sogo with government funds was abandoned after a public outcry. Two of Sogo's senior executives have since committed suicide.
In October, Kyoei Life and Chiyoda Mutual Life, two large insurance companies, collapsed with liabilities of £47 billion, the largest bankruptcies since the second world war. They were brought down by their inability to earn more than they were paying out.
Obliged to pay an average 4% on insurance policies sold a decade ago, they were making less than 1 % on current interest rates.
Kiichi Miyazawa, the 81-year-old finance minister, says he will look for ways next year to boost personal consumption. In the meantime the government is preparing its 10th supplementary budget or "stimulus package" since 1992.
Most of the money will go to construction projects of dubious value-- such as the 10 gigantic bridges connecting Honshu and Shikoku islands.
The construction companies form an important constituency for the ruling Liberal Democratic party. Their debts are often written off and they are frequently involved in corrupt deals. Earlier this year a former construction minister was arrested on charges of accepting bribes. Yet most of the 10,000 construction companies - employing about 10% of the workforce - are unprofitable and on the brink of insolvency.
Ron Bevacqua at Commerz Securities in Tokyo says: "There is no sign that things are any better than they were two years ago. The government deficit is running at 10% of GDP, when growth is 2%. That is not sustainable. It still looks a pretty bleak picture."
The United Nations secretary general has recommended withdrawing its mission to Haiti after more than five years, warning that attempts to strengthen democracy are failing in the face of mounting violence aimed at the international community.
In a highly critical report, Kofi Annan effectively accused the country's dominant political party, Fanmi Lavalas, and its founder, the former priest and one-time president Jean Bertrand Aristide, of drifting towards international isolation and violating democracy by refusing to recount the results from May's disputed parliamentary elections.
Mr Annan's written comments, dated November 9, were released this week after Sunday's presidential election -- boycotted by the opposition
"A combination of rampant crime, violent street protests and incidents of violence targeted at the international community could severely limit the ability of [the international civilian support mission in Haiti to fulfil its mandate," Mr Annan wrote. He recommended "with regret" that the mission be terminated when its current mandate expires on February 6.
The UN mission has been substantially scaled down in recent years-- almost all the US troops who arrived in 1994 left 18 months ago.
This month, UN vehicles were fired upon and some international aid donors have suspended projects in protest at the political crisis, although Britain's Department of International Development still channels £45,000 a year towards aid schemes in Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
In ten years Russia has gone from having a tiny fraction of HIV cases compared with Western countries to last year, when it had recorded the steepest rise in HIV in the world; in Moscow, the rate of HIV infection quadrupled in 1999; by August this year it had doubled again.
There's denial of a different sort going on nightly in Moscow's burgeoning club world. While the city around them crumbles, anything goes in the neon heart of town. Approaching Studio, one of Moscow's trendiest clubs, I watched women in Lacroix and men in Armani step out of the latest Land Cruisers and Mercedes. These "New Russians" are ,the new elite; they have plenty of money and are attracted to the clubs like moths to a flame.
Misha, a "male actress" had once been a biology teacher but is now a performer and make-up artist and is an example of how times have changed since the break-up of the USSR "Now I can be myself. Before perestroika I could only work in an office as a clerk, or for a Youth League organising matinees for Young Pioneers. That was all communism was offering me'
After Misha's show; he took me to Chameleon, once a gay venue, but now a club where young men and women who have never been introduced are picked out of the crowd to strip on stage and simulate sex. In another-room simulation gives way to the real thing. Moscow has reinvented itself from a grey; drab landscape to a city where anything is possible.
Most of Misha's friends are grappling with survival in the new Russia where there are no longer guarantees of jobs, education, pensions and medical dare.
Some of Misha's friends have, in despair, turned to vodka and drugs. Misha is now frightened to visit them: "We keep in touch, though I realise that when I visit them 1 run the risk of being caught in a police round-up:'
She lived alone with a rat that was kept in a glass bookshelf below books by Eric Maria Remarque, Dostoevskv and Dickens. Above her bed was a trade union flag with Lenin's face embroidered on its crimson background and text in gold lettering, glorifying the values of Marxism and Leninism. Sveta's friends arrived alone or in twos, and this is how I came to be at a "shooting party" in the late afternoon with the setting sun invisible behind the permanently closed blinds.
Sveta once worked for the Russian railways as an engineer, and Dima, her friend, was a ballet dancer with the Bolshoi until a fall ended his career. I they thought they had once been hemmed in by the four walls of the Soviet Union they were now falling off the edge of the capitalist world
As her group of friends injected the red solution they stepped into another dimension. "l can see a cigarette box in the bush metres away; I can hear what happens five floors above me," explained Maxime. For a moment in their hard lives despair turned to peace.
However, in the sleekness of the bare lighttbulb they soon looked broken and exhausted and in need of another fix. Most of them were emaciated and given that only Sveta (the healthiest looking of the group had had an HIV test, it was possible that they; like thousands of Moscow's intravenous drug users, were also HIV-positive.
Sergei summed up the prevailing attitude among the high-risk groups: "I think a Russian, unless he sets danger with. his own eyes, will not understand how dangerous it is. We are wise after the event:' Indeed, for just weeks after I left, Sveta herself died.
Lena is 21 years old, dresses in suits, and always looks smart. She could be anyone's sister, with a ready smile and an infectious laugh. She had worked as a florist until the company went bust. "I couldn't find a job and I soon went through my savings. What could I do? I went out on the streets. I used to be sent to men who were responding, to a newspaper advertisement.
The police controlled the business and then they decided to replace a lot of Moscovite girls with girls from Belarus and the Ukraine. Now 1 work on my own without the police or a pimp:'
Lena now lives with her grandmother on the eighteenth floor of an apartment block that is as functional as it gets - concrete and wood. Most of the block's doors are fortified as they are in the rougher districts of New York. We sat in their cramped kitchen and as we drank tea, the sounds of the cockroachy plumbing played in the background.
"Do you know what your granddaughter does for a living?" "Yes, but she is not very good at it; other girls make a lot of money, they have their own apartments. She's too honest. I am very sad I can' t help her, but I am the only person who stayed with her. Do you now :how much rent and services are? 400 roubles [£10], which is half of my pension.
How can I live? And Lena cannot find a job. Sometimes I am crying, I can't fall asleep. I ask Lena: 'How will we live?' I am suffering so much. Now I don't know what God to pray to for help. Look, she is so beautiful now."
On the boulevard where she stands, there are so many prostitutes that they line up in the cars headlights waiting for the owners to make a choice.
"Usually, I ask clients to use a condom. But sometimes he says he doesn't like them. In such a case I sere him without a condom:' It is easy to see how quickly the virus can spread; an average night for Lena is to have sex with five or six clients.
When I next caught up with Lena I found her on "Aids street":
"Welcome, you managed to find us!" said Lamine as his head appeared above the parapet of a manhole. "Be careful how you climb down:' I gripped the rungs and descended into Moscow's sewer system. With blankets and cardboard laid out across a platform above the water being carried beneath the city, this is where Lamine, three other Africans and their Russian girlfriends had made home.
Lena and I then walked through wasteland to an adjacent condemned building where she introduced me to Andrew, a Ghanaian with a PhD in Engineering, "Italiano", a refugee and former captain in the Somali navy; and to her Nigerian boyfriend, JC. All these Africans had one dream - to return home, but all had been stranded by the break-up of the Soviet Union; their bursaries had dried up and with them any hope of getting an airline ticket home. JC told me, "No one will employ us because we are black, so for some of us the only way to survive is to sell heroin:' On the second floor of the condemned building, we sat on breeze blocks drinking vodka while mainly women, and a few men, came to buy their 200rouble fix. Misha had explained to me that prior to the break-up of the USSR, life had been very different. Under communism the propaganda put out by the state was that there was no drug addiction and no prostitution - those that were caught were immediately packed away to hospital, prison or sent into exile.
Russia now has to contend with a crumbling health service, doctors who arc badly paid and feel resentful about treating drug addicts and prostitutes, and a criminal justice system that inhibits harm reduction programmes run by charities and NGOs, believing that they encourage drug use.
Officially there are 69,120 people infected with HIV/ Aids in Russia, but it is estimated the figure could be ten times that. Ninety per cent of HIV/ Aids cases are drug addicts, and 90 per cent of those are under 30. The region is estimated to have three million drug addicts. If the infection rate cannot he controlled, the impact will he felt in the rest of Europe.
No wonder they want to bring back the Soviet national anthem. At some stage, a return to the full workers state is inevitable. The unstoppable monopolistic course of the imperialist system means that Third World conditions, Haiti-style, are a steadily increasing-phenomenon, and not disappearing at all. The West's begrudging and purely cosmetic 'debt reprieves' posturing will not change the intolerable exploitation relationship between the First and Third worlds one bit. And that £45,000 a year aid for the entire country of Haiti (6 million population) is less than this country 'pays' some of its footballers for just one week's kicking a ball about. As Russia plunges towards Third World conditions, more than music will go Soviet.
Build Leninism. EPSR
Back to the top