The Manifesto on the Disappearance of National Differences

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“National differences and contrasts are already tending to disappear more and more as the bourgeoisie develops, as free trade becomes more general, as the world market grows in sire and importance, as manufacturing conditions and the resulting conditions of life become more uniform.”

 — Karl Marx and F. Engels, “The Communist Manifesto”

Norman Bethune on Healthcare

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“Medicine, as we are practising it, is a luxury trade. We are selling bread at the price of jewels…Let us take the profit, the private economic profit, out of medicine, and purify our profession of rapacious individualism…Let us say to the people not ‘How much have you got?’ but ‘How best can we serve you?'”

— Norman Bethune

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Late Night Marxism: Historical Materialism: Modes of Production (Part One)

Withdraw from Syria for the War to End!

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The shelling of Jarablus targeting ISIS, following the attack on a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep that took 54 lives, show that the government have not learnt anything from the outcomes of its policy on Syria. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş had stated “What Turkey is suffering today is a result of the policy on Syria”. However, this did not lead to his government giving up its role in fueling the fighting in Syria.

Since the beginning, the government has just said “West of the Euphrates is our red line”, “A Kurdish formation in Northern Syria cannot be allowed”, “A buffer zone should be created at the border” and tried all it can to redraw the Syrian map to suit its own interests; this foreign policy have hit the wall on every occasion, but the Turkish government has not taken a step back from its position regarding Syria.

Nevertheless, the plans drawn up in Ankara have not been realized; Democratic Syrian Forces have passed the red lines, Manjib was taken and the Jarablus corridor besieged. US delegation visits to Turkey in the last two days, the visit of Barzani, the anticipated visit of Putin, the attempted coup, the return of Gülen, the wedding massacre, the Zarrab case; these are indicators of the cards laid on the table for negotiations and to the multi-fronted dirty diplomacy carried out to achieve its aims in Syria.

Regardless, the strategy produced outside Syrian borders will not succeed. The government representatives will continue making the same mistakes while stating “we made a mistake”. What we see today is nothing but a different version of the same policy.

The Syria policy of the AKP government brought nothing but misery and death to the peoples of the region. The support provided to armed Jihadi forces brought the conditions of war to within our borders. The result of the government’s Kurdish-phobia has been chaos within the Syrian borders and devastation at home.

Turkey should keep its hands off Syria, stop supporting armed gangs and avoid agreements with imperialist powers, which will continue the bloodbath in the region. Turkey’s insistence to control parts of Syria, interfere with regional maps and the attempted demographic planning mean continued devastation for both Turkish and Syrian populations.

The only way to fight these policies of war is the people and workers uniting for peace and democracy. This need has been harshly demonstrated as the International Day of Peace on 21 September approaches.

Policies of war must be abandoned, attacks on Syrian lands must cease; borders must be closed to armed reactive forces, imperialists must stop interfering in the region!

This is the way to avoid a mistake in Syria and to protect our country from the results of such a mistake.

Selma Gürkan
President

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The Soviet Union Looks To Its Health

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The Bolshevik Revolution not only overturned the political and economic system that was based on exploitation but also brought with it a revolutionary reorganisation of the entire society. One of the major component was the reorganisation and implementation of a socialist health care system, which took care of the citizen from their cradle to grave.

The Soviet health care found its support and admiration even in the Western countries. The British health care expert Sir Arthur Newsholme, in his work “Red Medicine: Socialized Health in Soviet Russia” that was based after his fact finding visit to the Soviet Union, mentioned about the grand success of the socialist health care in following words:

            Our description of what has been accomplished in medical administration may easily be regarded as giving a distorted and too favorable view of medico-social developments in Russia. Our statements are open to this accusation, which has been similarly urged against the particulars given in the many earlier volumes which have described personal observations made by foreign visitors to the U.S.S.R. Doubtless we were shown the best of what exists in Russia. The same would hold equally good if any foreign visitors came with influential introductions to inspect medical and public health work in England or America. We realized all the time that we were seeing the best that the U.S.S.R. had succeeded in developing. But when this best was seen repeated in many cities visited by us, and when it was everywhere frankly stated that their arrangements were not yet complete, that the dearth of doctors made more adequate provisions difficult for a few years; and when we were told openly of the great difficulties which were being experienced in extending the medical provisions of cities to the vast rural communities of Russia, and of the only partial success hitherto achieved in overcoming these difficulties, we were forced to the conclusion that we were not being victimized by a “window-dressing” display; and that, indeed, a marvelous reformed and extended medical service had been organised in Russia, the methods and procedures of which the rest of the world would do well to study.

Below we are reproducing an article from the American journal of Worker Medical Advisory Board, Health and Hygeine published in 1935. In this article the author gives a succinct account of how the socialist health care worked in the Soviet Union during time of Stalin.

—- Editor, Other Aspect (8/7/2016)  


ALONG with every tremendous stride it has taken in developing industrial and agricultural progress, the Soviet Union has taken the necessary steps to safeguard and improve Soviet workers’ health. Rest homes, sanitariums, “keep the-baby healthy” stations and hospitals grew up alongside great factories and on giant collective farms. When plans were made to build a city, as at Magnitogorsk, these plans included first and foremost abundant provision for taking care of the health of the workers.

American engineers have reported, on their return from the Soviet Union, their surprise at the manner in which new plants were set up. Before the foundations of the factory or mill were laid, homes for the workers who were to build the factory were erected. The Americans pointed out that in the United States the factory is the first consideration. Workers can always be housed in the rudest sort of shacks. In the Soviet Union, where prevention of ill health is of paramount importance, the homes are built first.

The successful completion of the first Five Year Plan in four years and the carrying out of the Second Five Year Plan at as great a speed, requires great physical and mental effort for the Soviet workers. The physical welfare of the shock brigaders, the heroes of labor who set the pace for the other workers, is the greatest concern of the Soviet government. Every precaution is taken to maintain and ensure the good health of the workers.

The keyword in health matters in the Soviet Union is prevention. In the United States and other capitalist countries, we do not go to a doctor or clinic until we are sick. In the Soviet Union, where health is cared for on presentation of a union card, not on presentation of a fee, the workers are trained and urged to go to the clinics at the slightest sign of something wrong or likely to go wrong. A worker who has fever will be sent by the factory doctor to the clinic. This worker, assured that he does not lose his job and knowing that he will be paid while away, soon learns to prevent ill health.

In the United States, the worker who goes to a clinic is oppressed by the feeling of “charity.” 12 The clinics are meant only for those who cannot pay for private treatment and this is felt by every worker. In addition, these clinics, especially in the smaller towns, are overcrowded. It is sufficient here to give some figures on the clinics of the Soviet Union. This does not cover other working conditions, conditions in the home, rest homes, etc.

In 1932, the All-Union Public Health Conference adopted a plan to cover the entire Union with a network of clinics. This plan is part of the second Five Year Plan and is to be completed by 1937. Now, in 1935, much has already been accomplished.

The plan is based on the principle that three types of clinics are needed to cover the general and specific needs of each industrial centre. The clinics are set up and staffed according to the population. These clinics are: the Polyclinic, which handles general work. This includes aD . x-ray department and a clinical laboratory where examinations of blood, sputum, urine, etc., are made. There are also two special type clinics which take care of the patients referred by the Polyclinic. Here the special branches of medicine are covered.

These three types of clinics, the Polyclinic and the two special clinics, are combined in one unit. The number of units and the number of doctors, nurses and attendants is determined by the size of the city or town. For towns larger than 60,000, clinics are established in the ratio of one unit for each 50,000. Thus, in Moscow, Unit No. 1 serves 46,000 people, Unit No.2 serves 55,000. The fifth unit is equipped to handle an even greater number. It serves 65,000. On the other hand, in Colomna and Podolak, cities with less than 60,000 population, there is one unit to each city.

1750 visits daily or more than 500,000 visits per year. The staff of each unit consists of doctors, nurses, technicians and clerical help. The number of doctors in each speciality has been carefully worked out according to the requirements. The largest units, with 50 doctors, cover every speciality. Where the smaller units, in the APRIL, 1935 .. villages or small towns, do not cover a speciality, the standard unit is called upon.

The staff of this standard unit is grouped according to the following:

General medical doctors (internists) ……………….. 7

General medical doctors to answer calls………….. 9

Surgeons ……………………………………………………… 5

Pediatricians (diseases of childhood) ……………… 5

Gynecologists (diseases of women) ……………….. 3

Eye doctors ………………………………………………. 2

Ear, nose and throat ………………………………………. 2

Dentists ……………………………………………………. 8

Neuropathologists (diseases of nervous system)…. 1

Skin and venereal diseases …………………………….. 3

Laboratory Chief …………………………….. …………… 1

Roentgenologist (X-ray doctor)………………………. 2

Physio·therapist (treatments with electricity, etc.).. 1

Phthisiologist (specialist in tuberculosis) …. 1

These units are clinics and are not to be confused with prophylactic stations, maternity clinics, baby health stations, rest homes, sanitoria, hospitals for acute and chronic diseuea and other institutions under the All Union Department of Public Health.

From the above will be seen the fundamental difference between public health in the Soviet Union and in the United States. In the Soviet Union all health is public health. Workers do not go to a clinic as a last resort, after being unable to pay a private doctor. They go to the clinic as a matter of course, as part of the public health policy of the Soviet Union for the prevention of sickness.

Source: Health and Hygiene, The Magazine of the daily Worker Medical Advisory Board, Vol 1, No.1 April 1935

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Rosa Luxemburg on Workers and Theoretical Discussion

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“No coarser insult, no baser aspersion, can be thrown against the workers than the remark: ‘Theoretical controversies are only for academicians.’”

 — Rosa Luxemburg, “Reform or Revolution”

Michael Parenti: Is Nicaragua More Democratic Than the United States?

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[From: Covert Action Information Bulletin, Number 26, Summer 1986]

To justify the policies of attack, encirclement, embargo, and destabilization directed against Nicaragua, the Reagan administration has charged that the Sandinista government is on the road to totalitarianism, that it denies religious and political freedom and is a threat to the security of its neighbors. The goal of U.S. policy, claims President Reagan, is to bring about a pluralistic open society in Nicaragua, a goal that never loomed very large during the fifty years of the Somoza dictatorship. More recently in a book on the Nicaraguan revolution. journalist Shirley Christian echoed this line, arguing that the contra war was a justifiable attempt ”to force the Sandinista Front into accepting major structural changes toward an open political society.”

In response to this position, supporters of the Sandinista revolution have argued that Nicaragua does have a pluralistic society, is attempting to make a better life for its people, has no aggressive designs upon its neighbors, and instead is itself being invaded along two of it borders. Others have shown that by every standard, Nicaragua’s elections have been more open and democratic than El Salvador’s and its society more humane than most others in Latin America.

Indeed it can be further argued that by every standard Nicaragua is a more democratic society than the one waging aggression against — and I do not mean Honduras. By every major democratic criterion, Nicaragua comes off looking better than the United States. Let us begin with a comparison of the national elections held in November 1984 in both the United States and Nicaragua [1]

Popular Participation

One crucial measure of an open political system is the degree of popular participation. Most voting studies in the United States and elsewhere find that nonvoters show a high degree of alienation from the political process; they believe voting is not a means of effecting changes, and they often fail to see a meaningful choice in the candidates presented to them. (This is the view also of a surprisingly large number of persons who vote in the United States.) Therefore a comparison of the respective rates of turnouts in the Nicaraguan and U.S. election might be worth pondering for a moment.

The turnout in the United States in the 1984 election was little less than 53 percent of the eligible voters, one of the lowest of any western nation. Yet the press took little note of this and instead treated Reagan’s reelection as a landslide victory and democratic mandate. In contrast, voter turnout was nearly 82 percent in Managua and 75.4 percent in Nicaragua as a whole. Yet this turnout was described in the U.S. press as “disappointing” because the Sandinistas had hoped for an 80 percent national turnout. (Left unmentioned was the fact that in Nicaragua the voting was voluntary, unlike most Latin American countries.)

Range of Political Choice

Elections that offer little choice are said to be wanting in democratic standards. The choice in Nicaragua was noticeably wider and more democratic than in the United States. Seven parties ran for seats in the national assembly and for the presidency, representing a broad ideological range: from those on the far left (who damned the FSLN for its moderate policies and for allegedly betraying the workers and peasants) to those on the center and right (who accused the FSLN of exercising a rigid control over the country, wrecking the economy and leading Nicaragua to war). All these charges and countercharges were reported and debated extensively in the public and private press in Nicaragua.

In the United States the choice was limited largely to Democrats and Republicans, who in many races are often hard to tell apart. True, there were a variety of minor parties but these were not accorded the same opportunity for participation as were the various opposition parties in Nicaragua, as we shall see.

Access to the Ballot

A variety of parties may compete in an election but if they are denied roughly equal conditions of competition or access to the ballot or shoved to the side of the political arena, it cannot be said that democratic competition exist. In the U.S. all fifty states have laws, written and enforced by Republican and Democratic officials, regulating party access to the ballot — often in ways restrictive enough to keep smaller parties from participating, thus depriving the electorate of the freedom to choose someone other than a Democrat or a Republican. Minor parties are often required to gather a large number of signatures on nominating petitions in a limited time. Thus in Pennsylvania third-party state-wide candidates must collect 36,000 signature in a three-week period; in Maryland candidates are required to collect over 55,000 signatures in a short time. Sometimes a 5 percent requirement for signatures has been interpreted to mean 5 percent of voters from every district within the state — an impossible task for a third party whose base might he confined to a few urban areas.

In some states votes who are registered with the major parties are not allowed to sign or circulate minor-party nominating petition. Petitions are sometimes thrown out by hostile officials on trivial and sometimes unlawful technicalities. (as happened to the Communist Party in Illinois and Connecticut in recent elections) compelling minor parties to pursue expensive court battles that further drain their financial resources.

In some states minor parties must pay exorbitant filing fees: $5,000 Louisiana for an independent candidate. To get on the ballot in all 50 states, a third party would have to expend an estimated $750,000 in filing fees and other expenses and collect 1.2 million signatures, a feat accomplished in 1984 by no third party. And the trend is toward less and less ballot access: in the last 12 years, sixteen states have tightened the restrictions. Between 1980 and 1984, for example, the states of Indiana and North Dakota quadrupled the number of signatures required to get on the ballot.

In Nicaragua, in striking contrast, the electoral law favors the smaller political parties. In 1984 any party could register to field candidates by merely presenting a national directorate and two representatives from each of the country’s nine regions. One of the parties that so registered, the Independent Liberal Party (PLI) asked to withdraw from the contest four days before election day. The Electoral Council ruled that it was too late for a party to pull out but that individual candidates could withdraw their names if they chose. None did so.

Accessibility to the Electorate

Being on the ballot does little good if the bulk of the voters have never heard of you or never hear *from* you. Third parties in the United States are given almost no national media coverage during campaigns. News media focus exclusively on the two major parties, failing even to report the votes that third parties get on election day (usually between one and two million all together), thus treating the minor parties as if they do not exist. Lacking the huge sums available to the major parties, especially the Republicans, the smaller parties are unable to buy major media time and space of their own. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974 finances the major parties, giving each tens of millions of dollars for their presidential campaigns, but the smaller parties can obtain federal funds only after they glean 5 percent of the national vote (about 4 million votes for any one party) In sum, they cannot get the money until they get the 5 percent, but they cannot yet the percent until they get the money.

In contrast, the Nicaraguan electoral law provided public financing of 9 million cordobas ($321,000) for each participating party *regardless of size* and guaranteed an equal amount of time each day on the state-run radio stations and television channels. Each party was also permitted to receive unlimited funds from private donors, including people and organizations outside Nicaragua, a provision that worked to the advantage of the centrist and rightist parties. As the campaign got under complaints from the participating parties led to changes in the electoral law, including an increase in radio and television time, an additional 3 million cordobas in government campaign funds for each party, and a lengthening of the campaign period. Parties were also guaranteed access to products in short supply in Nicaragua: paper. printing facilities, transportation and gasoline. The various parties also produced their own party newspapers, together with leaflets and billboards.

Absence of Coercion

Instances of coercion and harassment of candidates have not been an unusual occurrence in U.S. elections. In the United States third-party candidates especially those of a pronouncedly leftist hue have run into difficulties of this sort. Harassment may not be confined to the candidates themselves but may include their supporters and canvassers. In 1972 in Vermont persons who merely signed Communist Party ballot petitions found their names publicized by town clerks in an effort to embarrass them into withdrawing their signatures. Generally though, in modern times American elections have not been marked by violence nor by any serious degree of threat against candidates. The coercions are largely of the legal kind noted earlier which work well enough against third parties. In regard to individual voters, however, it should be noted that not every American citizen has the right to an uncoerced vote, as testified by the continuing need for a Civil Rights Voting Act, the renewal of which President Reagan opposed.

Turning to Nicaragua, we find there were serious acts of violence and murder in the 1984 election — all committed by the force supported by the Reagan administration. The contras killed the presidents of two polling stations and two volunteer workers involved in registration. In the Jinotega mountains, one polling station worker’s throat was cut by the contras in front of his wife and family. On election day a member of the electoral police was shot to death by contras in La Tronica. In all, twelve election workers lost their lives in assaults by counterrevolutionaries .

The election was less than flawless in its procedures, but the overall performance was one that the Nicaraguan democracy can be proud of. There was free and open campaigning in every area of the country except in some war zones. According to estimates by the Supreme Electoral Council, there were some 250 public rallies. In general the election was characterized by untrammeled and vigorous political debate. If the FSLN was instituting a totalitarian regime, it was going about it in the wrong way.

About five of the public rallies were marred by incidents of violence but no serious injuries were reported. During the first months of the campaign a number of parties also reported that their campaign workers had been harassed by members of the FSLN, or that their posters had been destroyed. The Sandinista leadership denounced these incidents and they seemed to diminish thereafter. In addition, several rallies held by the Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinating Committee (CDN). a coalition of conservative business-oriented parties that abstained from the election, were disrupted by fights between CDN supporters and Sandinista counterdemonstrators. These rallies were technically illegal since the CDN had refused to participate in the election and indeed spent its time during the campaign attacking the electoral system itself. Once the CDN decided to conduct what seemed like a sabotage of the electoral effort (in the eyes of FSLN supporters), clashes with counterdemonstrators were difficult to avoid.

Because of these incidents, Arturo Cruz claimed that he was attacked by ‘mobs’ and that free electoral competition did not exist. It should be recalled that the country is at war and that Cruz openly identified with the enemy and was not at any time functioning as a legal or serious candidate. When Cruz, a banker in Wellington, arrived in Managua five months before the election, the CDN suddenly announced he would be their unified presidential candidate. Without officially registering as a candidate, Cruz toured the country for several days, drawing small crowds As suddenly as he arrived, he left, announcing he would not run under the prevailing electoral conditions. Throughout this period the U.S. media and the U.S. government described him as the “major opposition candidate” and treated his nonparticipation as evidence that the election was an unfair and meaningless exercise. In conflict with this view is the one expressed in the report, cited herein, by U.S. citizens in Nicaragua:

In general, our perception of the electoral campaign period is that the harassment and fistfights were scattered incidents that did not affect the generally free atmosphere of the electoral process. We found our neighbors and co-workers unafraid to voice their opinions, and heard and read virulent criticism of the FSLN. We know of no pressure on Nicaraguan to vote for the Sandinista Front. In particular, we found no truth in the charge made by _La Prensa_ that the cards which entitle families to receive subsidized food allotments were controlled in a concerted effort to influence Nicaraguans” votes. We conclude that the electoral campaign provided Nicaraguans with abundant information on which to base a free decision about their vote.

A similar conclusion was reached by the 460 official observers from all over the world who were free to check out all aspects of the voting process and ballot counting. None of the eleven participating parties filed any charges of fraud.

System of Representation

The FSLN won 64.9% of the vote, a victory that was only a few percentage points higher than the one enjoyed by Ronald Reagan in 1984. The two runner-up parties, both center-rightist, won 13% and 9% respectively. The National Assembly seats were allocated according to proportional representation so that minority parties were assured of 35 of the 96 seats (including six seats that under the electoral law are allotted to the losing presidential candidates of each party). All this was dismissed by Reagan as “an electoral farce without any meaningful political opposition.”

In contrast, the single-member-district electoral system used in the United States is much less representative and therefore less democratic. The party that polls a plurality of the vote, be it 40, 50 or 60 percent, wins 100 percent of a district’s representation, while smaller parties, regardless of their vote, receive zero representation. Proportional representation provides a party with legislative seats roughly in accordance with the percentage of votes it wins, thus assuring minor parties of some parliamentary presence. But the single-member, winner-take-all system magnifies the strength of the major parties and leaves the minor parties with a percentage of seats (if any) that is far lower than its percentage of votes. The winner-take-all system deprives third parties not only of representation but eventually of voters too, since not many citizens wish to “waste” their ballots on a party that seems incapable of establishing a legislative presence

Minorities

There are other criteria by which the American and Nicaraguan democracies might he compared. For instance, there is the treatment of minorities. Much is made of the Sandinistas’ forced relocation of Miskito Indians during a time of serious border attack, a policy that quickly proved not only wrong but in some instances wrongful. Today Managua is now trying to undo its previous policy and resettle the Miskito on their lands, an approach that compares favorably with the U.S. treatment of Native American Indians, to say the least, and with the forced relocation of the Japanese into concentration camps during World War II, uprooting them from California communities, that — unlike Nicaragua — were never threatened by enemy invasion. Nor did the U.S. government ever compensate the Japanese for the losses they sustained in the way of homes, businesses and farms

Political Dissent

There is the more general question of Freedom of communication for dissenting ideas. La Prensa is not the only opposition voice in Nicaragua. About half of the radio and television stations in the country are privately owned and most of these give the government a daily ideological pounding that makes National Public Radio look like the tepid establishment mouthpiece it is. The various political parties also produced their own newspapers during the campaign. There is a war going on in Nicaragua. The country is encircled by hostile forces. has endured invasions on both of its borders and has suffered much loss of life and destruction of property. Yet the censorship imposed is no worse and probably less restrictive than what the U.S. government imposed during World War II, and Managua’s treatment of dissenters and collaborators has been far more tolerant and liberal than the treatment accorded Tory sympathizers during and immediately after the American revolution or dissenters who received long prison terms during World War I.

In the United States, dissenting views that go beyond the mainstream. or even much left of center, are rarely allowed time or space in the major media, but are consigned to small-circulation magazines that teeter on the edge of insolvency. In short, there is a greater plurality of ideas, ideologies, and debate in Nicaragua than in the United States. On this score Nicaragua is a more open, more pluralistic society. It may not always remain so however. Subject to enough threat and siege, assault and murder, the Nicaraguans will start tightening up, choosing security over dissent, survival over pluralism. Indeed, it is miraculous that they haven’t already done so. The signs are there; President Daniel Ortega has said: “In the hardest moments we have to convert the defeats into more ideological unity, more political unity … [and] more organization.” (Miami Herald, August 4, 1985).

If the U.S. Government were really interested in encouraging pluralistic dissent in Nicaragua it would pursue a policy quite the opposite of the one now in the saddle, offering Managua friendship and support and the hope for peaceful independence and security. Democracy is a delicate flower that does not do well when repeatedly stomped upon.

Religious Freedom

The Reagan administration has charged that there is religious persecution in Nicaragua. But the Catholic church is alive and well. Elements of its clergy and laity can be found playing prominent roles on both sides within Nicaragua, struggling hard to build — or destroy — the revolution. Religious practice is not interfered with. The Rev. Miguel Gray, a Nicaraguan Baptist minister, hailed the religious freedom enjoyed in that country and pointed to the building of 19 additional churches since 1979 in a desperately poor country where not too many buildings of any kind are going up.

The level of religious tolerance in the United States today is as good as might be found anywhere. But in recent years the disturbing intolerance manifested by such groups as the Moral Majority, and the President’s open association with the religious Right, including his announcement that “ours is a Christian nation,” might cause us to give more attention to the question of religious tolerance here at home.

Human Needs

If democracy means more than a set of procedures but implies something, about the substantive conditions of life, then here too poor Nicaragua looks better than rich America in the era of Ronald Reagan. Decades of colonialism, Somocista pillaging, earthquake, revolution and counterrevolution, have left Nicaragua with a legacy of extreme poverty, yet the very worst is not happening to the poor citizens of that country as it is to the poor on the streets in Washington D.C.; no one is starving and no one has been tossed aside like so much human refuse.

Finally, in comparing Nicaragua with the United States. we might consider the degree to which each country is interfering with the political development and security of the other. As Reagan himself aptly put it: “Democracies do not spend a lot of money on arms, build large armies or invade or destabilize their neighbors.” With typical Orwellian inversion he was aiming this remark at Nicaragua but it applies most perfectly to hi own administration, which spends more money on arms and more time destabilizing and invading neighbors than we could ever imagine Nicaragua doing. The truth is also inverted when Reagan calls the Sandinistas “terrorists.” To be sure, there is plenty of terrorism going on in Nicaragua and plenty being exported to other countries in Central America, but it is conducted by contra mercenaries and Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran death squads and military, all financed and advised by the U.S.

Those “democratic socialist” critics on the left, who give qualified and skittish support to Nicaragua, who are quick to point out how they have “problems” with some of the things the Sandinistas are doing, who impose flawless democratic standards upon a tiny country that is under mortal siege from the Yankee Colossus, those critics might want to consider the realities of the situation. It is the United States which should be the object of their professedly democratic concerns; it is the U.S. which falls so dismally short of practicing the democratic pluralism it preaches to others, exporting violence and terrorism and pummeling a smaller neighbor that is trying to develop a democratic society of its own.

If one criterion of democracy is that a country not act like a thug and aggressor in its dealings with another country even to the point of refusing to show up in (world) court to defend itself when so charged — then United States under Reagan comes off looking tar less fair, less open, and less democratic than Nicaragua.

(*) Michael Parenti writes and lectures frequently on U.S. domestic and foreign politics. His most recent book is _Inventing Reality: The Politics of the Mass Media_ (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1986).

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Michael Parenti: The Costs of Counterrevolution: Must We Ignore Imperialism?

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The following are excerpts from the book “The Sword and the Dollar: Imperialism, Revolution, and the Arms Race” by Michael Parenti, published by St. Martin’s Press, 1989.

The Costs of Counterrevolution

Throughout the 1980s, the counterrevolutionary mercenaries who have waged war against such countries as Nicaragua, Angola, and Mozambique, were described as “guerrillas.” In fact, they won little support from the people of those countries, which explains why they remained so utterly dependent upon aid from the United States and South Africa. In an attempt to destroy the revolutionary economy and thus increase popular distress and discontent, these counterrevolutionaries attacked farms, health workers, technicians, schools, and civilians. Unlike a guerrilla army that works with and draws support from the people, the counterrevolutionary mercenaries kidnap, rape, kill and in other ways terrorize the civilian population. These tactics have been termed “self-defeating,” but they have a logic symptomatic of the underlying class politics. Since the intent of the counterrevolutionaries is to destroy the revolution, and since the bulk of the people support the revolution, then the mercenaries target the people.

In Mozambique, for example, over a period of eight years the South African-financed rebels laid waste to croplands, reducing the nation’s cereal production enough to put almost 4 million people in danger of starvation. The rebels destroyed factories, rail and road links, and marketing posts, causing a sharp drop in Mozambique’s production and exports. They destroyed 40 percent of the rural schools and over 500 of the 1,222 rural health clinics built by the Marxist government. And they killed hundreds of unarmed men, women, and children. But they set up no “liberated” areas and introduced no program for the country; nor did they purport to have any ideology or social goals.

Likewise, the mercenary rebel force in Angola, financially supported throughout the 1980s by the apartheid regime in South Africa and looked favorably upon by the Reagan administration, devastated much of the Angolan economy, kidnapping and killing innocent civilians, displacing about 600,000 persons and causing widespread hunger and malnutrition. Assisted by White South African troops, the rebels destroyed at least half of Angola’s hospitals and clinics. White South African military forces, aided by jet fighters, engaged in direct combat on the side of the counterrevolutionaries. The rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi, offered no social program for Angola but was lavish in his praise of the apartheid rulers in Pretoria and critical of Black South African leaders.

So with the contra forces that repeatedly attacked Nicaragua from Honduras for some seven years. In all that time they were unable to secure a “liberated” zone nor any substantial support from the people. They represented a mercenary army that amounted to nothing much without US money-and nothing much with it, having failed to launch a significant military offensive for years at a time. Like other counterrevolutionary “guerrillas” they were quite good at trying to destabilize the existing system by hitting soft targets like schools and farm cooperatives and killing large numbers of civilians, including children. (While the US news media unfailingly reported that the Nicaraguans or Cubans had “Soviet-made weapons,” they said nothing about the American, British, and Israeli arms used by counterrevolutionaries to kill Angolans, Namibians, Black South Africans, Western Saharans, Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans.)

Like counterrevolutionaries in other countries, the Nicaraguan contras put forth no economic innovations or social programs other than some vague slogans. As the New York Times reported, when asked about “the importance of political action in the insurgency” the contra leaders “did not seem to assign this element of revolutionary warfare a high priority.” They did not because they were not waging a “revolution” but a counterrevolution. What kind of a program can counterrevolutionaries present? If they publicize their real agenda, which is to open the country once more to the domination of foreign investors and rich owners, they would reveal their imperialist hand.

Like most of the Third World, Nicaragua during the Somoza dictatorship was one of imperialism’s ecological disasters, with its unrestricted industrial and agribusiness pollution and deforestation. Upon coming to power, the Sandinistas initiated rain forest and wildlife conservation measures and alternative energy programs. The new government also adopted methods of cutting pesticides to a minimum, prohibiting the use of the deadlier organochlorides commonly applied in other countries. Nicaragua’s environmental efforts stand in marked contrast to its neighboring states. But throughout the 1980s, the program was severely hampered by contra attacks that killed more than thirty employees of Nicaragua’s environmental and state forestry agencies, and destroyed agricultural centers and reclamation projects.

The US government is ready to accept just about anyone who emigrates from a Communist country. In contrast, the hundreds of millions of Third World refugees from capitalism, who would like to come to this country because the conditions of their lives are so hopeless, are not allowed to come in …

*

Must We Ignore Imperialism?

Woodrow Wilson, 1907

Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.

Ronald Reagan

What I want to see above all else is that this country remains a country where someone can always be rich. That’s the thing we have that must be preserved.

Jeff McMahan

U.S. reasons for wanting to control the third world are to some extent circular. Thus third world resources are required in part to guarantee military production, and increased military production is required in part to maintain and expand U.S. control over third world resources …. Instrumental goals eventually come to be seen as ends in themselves. Initially the pursuit of overseas bases is justified by the need to maintain stability, defend friendly countries from communist aggression, and so on-in other words, to subjugate and control the third world; but eventually the need to establish and maintain overseas bases becomes one of the reasons for wanting to subjugate and control the third world.

Henry Kissinger, June 27, 1970 about Chile

I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.

*

Against Imperialism

The people who make US foreign policy are known to us – and they are well known to each other. Top policymakers and advisors are drawn predominantly from the major corporations and from policy groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee for Economic Development, the Trilateral Commission, the Business Roundtable, and the Business Council. Membership in these groups consists of financiers, business executives, and corporate lawyers. Some also have a sprinkling of foundation directors, news editors, university presidents, and academicians.

Most prominent is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Incorporated in 1921, the CFR numbered among its founders big financiers such as John D. Rockefeller, Nelson Aldrich, and J. P. Morgan. Since World War II, CFR members have included David Rockefeller, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (and erstwhile CFR president); Allen Dulles, Wall Street lawyer and longtime director of the CIA; and, in the 1970s, all the directors of Morgan Guaranty Trust; nine directors of Banker’s Trust; five directors of Tri-Continental holding company; eight directors of Chase Manhattan; and directors from each of the following: Mellon National Bank, Bank of America, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Standard Oil of New Jersey, General Electric, General Dynamics, Union Carbide, IBM, AT&T, ITT, and the New York Times (a partial listing).

One member of the Kennedy administration, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., described the decision-making establishment as “an arsenal of talent which had so long furnished a steady supply of always orthodox and often able people to Democratic as well as Republican administrations. President Kennedy’s secretary of state was Dean Rusk, president of the Rockefeller Foundation and member of the CFR; his secretary of defense was Robert McNamara, president of Ford Motor Company; his secretary of the treasury was C. Douglas Dillon, head of a prominent Wall Street banking firm and member of the CFR. Nixon’s secretary of state was Henry Kissinger, a Nelson Rockefeller protégé who also served as President Ford’s secretary of state. Ford appointed fourteen CFR members to his administration. Seventeen top members of Carter’s administration were participants of the Rockefeller-created Trilateral Commission, including Carter himself and Vice President Walter Mondale. Carter’s secretary of state was Cyrus Vance, Wall Street lawyer, director of several corporations, trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and member of the CFR.

Reagan’s first secretary of state was Alexander Haig, former general and aide to President Nixon, president of United Technologies, director of several corporations including Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank, and member of the CFR. Reagan’s next secretary of state was George Shultz, president of Bechtel Corporation, director of Morgan Guaranty Trust, director of the CFR, and advisor of the Committee for Economic Development (CED). Reagan’s secretary of defense was Caspar Weinberger, vice president of Bechtel, director of other large corporations, and member of the Trilateral Commission. The secretary of treasury and later chief of staff was Donald Regan, chief executive officer of Merrill, Lynch, trustee of the CED, member of the CFR and of the Business Roundtable. Reagan’s CIA director, William Casey, was director of the ExportImport Bank, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission under Nixon, and partner in a prominent Wall Street law firm. At least a dozen of Reagan’s top administrators and some thirty advisors were CFR members.

Members of groups like the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission have served in just about every top executive position, including most cabinet and subcabinet slots, and have at times virtually monopolized the membership of the National Security Council, the nation’s highest official policymaking body.’ The reader can decide whether they compose (1) a conspiratorial elite, (2) the politically active members of a ruling class, or (3) a selection of policy experts and specialists in the service of pluralistic democracy.

These policymakers are drawn from overlapping corporate circles and policy groups that have a capacity unmatched by any other interest groups in the United States to fill top government posts with persons from their ranks. While supposedly selected to serve in government because they are experts and specialists, they really are usually amateurs and “generalists.” Being president of a giant construction firm and director of a bank did not qualify George Shultz to be Nixon’s secretary of labor nor his secretary of the treasury. Nor did Shultz bring years of expert experience in foreign affairs to his subsequent position as Reagan’s secretary of state. But he did bring a proven capacity to serve well the common interests of corporate America.

Rather than acting as special-interest lobbies for particular firms, policy groups look after the class-wide concerns of the capitalist system. This is in keeping with the function of the capitalist state itself. While not indifferent to the fate of the overseas operations of particular US firms, the state’s primary task is to protect capitalism as a system, bolstering client states and opposing revolutionary or radically reformist ones.

Far from being powerless, the pressure of democratic opinion in this country and abroad has been about the only thing that has restrained US leaders from using nuclear weapons in Vietnam, and intervening with US forces in Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere. How best to pursue policies that lack popular support is a constant preoccupation of White House policymakers. President Reagan’s refusal to negotiate with the Soviets in the early 1980s provoked the largest peace demonstrations in the history of the United States. Eventually he had to offer an appearance of peace by agreeing to negotiate. To give this appearance credibility, he actually had to negotiate and even reluctantly arrive at unavoidable agreement on some issues, including the 1987 INF treaty.

Evidence of the importance of mass democratic opinion is found in the remarkable fact that the United States has not invaded Nicaragua. Even though the US had a firepower and striking force many times more powerful than the ones used in the previous eleven invasions of Nicaragua, and a president (Reagan) more eager than any previous president to invade, the invasion did not happen. Not because it would have been too costly in lives but because it would have been politically too costly. President Reagan would not have balked at killing tens of thousands of Nicaraguans and losing say 5,000 Americans to smash the Red Menace in Central America. When Marines were blown away in one afternoon in Lebanon, Reagan was ready to escalate his involvement in that country. Only the pressure of democratic forces in the USA and elsewhere caused him to leave Lebanon and refrain from invading Nicaragua. He did not have the political support to do otherwise. Invasion was politically too costly because it was militarily too costly even though logistically possible. It would have caused too much of an uproar at home and throughout Latin America and would have lost him, his party, and his policies I too much support.

The policies pursued by US leaders have delivered misfortune upon countless innocents, generating wrongs more horrendous than any they allegedly combat. The people of this country and other nations are becoming increasingly aware of this. The people know that nuclear weapons bring no security to anyone and that interventions on the side of privileged autocracies and reactionary governments bring no justice. They also seem to know that they pay most of the costs of the arms race and many of the costs of imperialism. From South Korea to South Africa, from Central America to the Western Sahara, from Europe to North America, people are fighting back, some because they have no choice, others because they would choose no other course but the one that leads to peace and justice.

Source

Party of Labor of Iran (Toufan): Solidarity with Syria

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The English Facebook page of the Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) has interviewed the comrade in charge of the Office of Foreign Relations of the Party, Comrade Jaafar Paknia, on the situation in Syria.

The following is the text of the interview.

Comrade Jaafar, thank you for the time you are spending with us for this interview. As you know, due to the Russian aerial bombardment and the destruction of the bases of Daesh (ISIS) and other terrorist groups, the balance of power has changed in Syria. The regime of Basher Assad has gone on the offensive, and its forces have advanced significantly. The Turkish government of Erdogan has violated international norms and regulations and has frantically bombarded the bases of the Kobane Kurds and has declared its opposition to any autonomy for the Syrian Kurds. How do you evaluate these new developments in Syria?

The adventurist policy of Erdogan’s government, a government that is sunk in the dream of the revival of “Great Ottoman Empire” and that shamelessly interferes in the internal affairs of the countries of the region has faced disgraceful defeat. This is clearly a sign of political shortsightedness of the present leadership of Turkey. By sending the Syrian refugees to Europe, Erdogan wanted to pressure the European governments to agree with his policy of toppling the legal and legitimate government of Assad and to pretend that only through NATO involvement in Syria and its support for terrorist organizations and eventually through the overthrow of the Syrian government, it is possible to stop the influx of refugees to Europe. Erdogan’s inhumane conspiracy has become a policy of instigation, war, and destruction in the region. This policy was rejected by the European governments, and consequently Turkey’s shortsighted policy faced a dead end. Erdogan asked for three billion Euros from the European countries as blackmail to stop the influx of refugees to Europe.

The gains of the Syrian army against Daesh through Russian bombardment are increasing daily. These gains have encouraged the people in the Daesh-controlled regions to resist and to participate in the war against the terrorist organizations. ISIS has chosen the “flight” over “Heaven”. These terrorists are returning to their homelands by the scores. The imperialist-trained Daesh and Jihadists have spread their terror campaigns to their motherlands. Though France has fallen victim to terrorist operations, it has not stopped interfering in the affairs of the Middle Eastern countries. The Western imperialist countries that supported Daesh and other terror groups in killing 300 thousand Syrians will not escape these terror campaigns. Turkey itself will fall victim to Daesh’s terror campaign soon.

The government of Erdogan that continues the criminal fascist suppression and bombardment of PKK and the Kurdish people is extremely frightened by the recent victories of the Syrian government over the terrorist groups, and it is asking Saudi Arabia and Qatar to jointly dispatch their armies to Syria to “fight” Daesh. What a joke! What a lie! These countries have been supporting, training, arming, and financing ISIS for the past five years. Even Barak Obama and NATO and EU officials are hesitant about the effectiveness of Erdogan’s adventurist policies. The armed forces of Turkey enter Syria only for the purpose of destroying the democratic achievements of the Kobane Kurds and to fight against the Syrian army. This is obviously in violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.

Some hold the opinion that Russian bombardment of Daesh has made the situation worse and has killed many civilians, that Russia’s objective in its rivalry with the U.S. imperialists is to preserve and strengthen its interest in Syria and the Region, and that Russian interference in the Middle East is an imperialist act that should not be supported. What is your opinion on these issues?

Before we talk about the class nature of the Russian establishment, we must clarify the nature of the war that is being waged in Syria and the Middle East. We must analyze the reasons why the Western imperialists headed by the U.S. and their lackeys and allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, etc. want to overthrow the legal government of Syria. Isn’t this policy of aggression against Syria consistent with the doctrine of establishing the “Greater Middle East”? Isn’t this the continuation of the policy of military aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc.? Isn’t this policy in the interest of Zionism and world reaction? Do China and Russia desire to disintegrate Syria and split it into pieces?

It must be emphasized that Syria has political independence and therefore has the right to freely seek help from any force or country in order to preserve its national independence and territorial integrity. This policy of seeking assistance is not new in the struggle of the people of the world. In the war that is imposed upon Syria, the condemnation of the Western aggressors and their regional allies must occupy the first place. These aggressors are seeking the total destruction and disintegration of Syria. Furthermore, their objective is not limited to the overthrow of Assad’s regime. The suppression of Lebanon’s resistance movement, aggression against Iran, and the dispatch of terrorist forces to the borders of Russia all will come next. The U.S. strategy of “New World Order” is to weaken and remove the allies of China and Russia, to subdue these two imperialist rivals, and to impose its hegemony on the globe. The fact is that Eastern imperialists presently do not have the necessary military power or preparation to wage war on the Western united military forces of NATO led by the U.S. In the present condition, it is NATO that has military superiority and violates and threatens the independence, territorial integrity, and the rights of nations to self determination. Western imperialism, headed by the U.S., is the source of all present wars and is responsible for the flight of millions of people from their homelands in the Middle East, Horn of Africa, Yugoslavia, and Ukraine. 

Russia and China vetoed the U.S. proposal in the UN Security Council and have expressed many times their opposition to the bombardment of Syria. This is a positive stand, as were the stands of Germany and France in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It is clear that behind these stands and oppositions lie economic and political interests and motives. A political party, while clarifying the nature of the war and of the forces involved, must adopt its tactic. The independent state of Syria, as any independent state, can make use of the present world contradictions to preserve its independence; otherwise, it will not overcome the aggression imposed on it. One may simplify a complicated political question and raise a general political slogan and put his mind at ease by declaring war on all forces involved and then watch the development of the events. This is not responsible conduct and it is inconsistent with Marxism and Leninist tactics. Our Party emphasizes that we must defend the independence and territorial integrity of the countries that face imperialist military aggression. This defense is a defense for rights of nations to self-determination by their own people.

We must add that Saudi, Qatar, and Turkey’s opposition to Syria is over the export of natural gas from the region to Europe. Iran, Iraq, and Syria planned for a ten-billion-dollar project for the construction of a pipeline to export Iran’s natural gas to Europe starting in 2010. In 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by these three countries. Two weeks later, armed clashes started in Syria. Armed terrorist groups were sent to Syria through northern and southern borders. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey utilized their means to overthrow the regime of Assad. Qatar now fights for a bigger share of the market for its natural gas, and Saudi Arabia and Turkey want the gas pipelines to pass through their countries in order to become a broker for the export of Qatar’s natural gas to Europe and to collect transit fees.

Western media claim that Russian bombardments of Syria have killed many thousands of innocent people and that Russia is responsible for the continuation of the war and the migration of hundreds of thousands of residents. What are your views on these claims?

Western media lie about the events in Syria and also fabricate stories consistent with the official line of their governments. The Russian fighter jets bomb the bases and positions of Daesh and some other terrorist groups and have significantly weakened Daesh’s grip on the regions under their control. Russia displayed satellite pictures of stolen oil tankers going from Syria to Turkey. Daesh sells the stolen oil to Turkey at a low price, and Turkey offers it to the world at the market price. Russian jet fighters bombed many hundreds of these oil tankers.

Assad’s victories over Daesh and over the conspiracies and plots of the Western imperialists are very bitter for Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and the Western media. These conspirators try to disrupt and hinder the fight against the terrorists who have destroyed Syria. European countries that are vulnerable and are threatened by the terrorist actions want to stop their losses. They see that their policy of toppling the legal government of Assad has faced defeat and that their hopes are dashed, though they – with the help from reactionary regimes of the region such as Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordon – made use of everything they could, including the violation of the UN Charter and of the rights of nations to defeat Assad. Now they are interested in reduction of tension in the region. They see the reduction of tension in the region as useful to their interests and to the normalization of relations with Russia. The government of Erdogan that used Daesh of Arab, Turk, Turkmen, Chechen, Dagestan, and European nationalities to attack Syria now sees that the terrorist forces are on the run and are facing defeat followed by another defeat. Erdogan, with the hope of occupying and annexing northern Syria to Turkey, has invented a Turkmen national minority in Syria that wants to join Turkey. Turkmen who are allies of Daesh and who behead Arabs and Kurds are Erdogan’s brothers and friends and are defended as “non-terrorist” opposition. The Russian jets are making these terrorists martyrs for Erdogan. And of course, the jets that make these Turkmen martyrs have to be shut down by the non-terrorists provided that the U.S. has expressed its consent. With the defeat of Daesh, the Syrian Kurdish forces are gaining strength, and Erdogan is losing the hope to split Syria. Obama and Erdogan play a sly and hypocritical role in the fight against Daesh.

In the present situation, Russians and Assad’s army have no interest in bombarding the civilian regions. We should mention that long before the Russian military involvement in Syria, more than 150 thousand terrorists from 80 countries, financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the U.S. and Europe, were mobilized to destroy and attack Syria. Now they are defeated and are on the run. The Western news media tries to instigate public opinion against the regime of Bashar Assad by engineering lies and distributing photo shopped pictures.

What is the future of the regime of President Assad? What stand are the people taking in this situation?

As I have mentioned several times, the U.S. objective is to overthrow the regime of Assad in the framework of “humanitarian involvement”. The U.S. imperialists and their allies want to divide Syria into four regions: a Sunni region in Damascus and its suburbs, the Druze region in the Golan Heights, the Alavi region in Antakya region, and a Kurdish region in northeastern Syria. This would make Syria a weak, dependent, and fragmented country that serves the strategic interest of the U.S. and Israel and their allies. The silence of the so called human rights organizations on the violation of the rights of nations by the U.S. imperialists shows the hypocrisy of the fake human rights organizations.

It must be said that the overthrow of the regime of Bashar Assad by the hands of the Syrian people led by the working class and for the purpose of establishing freedom, social justice, and the preservation and deepening of independence of Syria would be a revolutionary act that serves the people of Syria and of the entire region. The toppling of the Syrian regime by the imperialist powers is neither in the interest of the Syrian people nor in the interest of the people of the region. Parties and organizations that have not learned from the experience of the occupations of Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan and that are still repeating the theories of “fight against all reactionary forces” and resolving “all social contradictions” at the same time understand neither tactics nor revolutionary politics. They are sunk in the Trotskyite quagmire of a “fight against two reactionary poles”. These forces do not serve the people. On the contrary, they sabotage the national and liberation struggles of the people against imperialist aggression and invasion. It is the responsibility of the revolutionary and progressive forces to resolutely expose these deviated and decaying political currents that damage the movement under the name of “communist” and “left”.

Today, the Western imperialists see that a significant section of Syrians, due to the destructive actions of the dark force of Daesh, have lined up behind Assad’s regime and that not by any means will the Syrian people “rise up” against the “dictator”. The U.S. imperialists and their allies are forced to talk about peace (!), but in practice, they beat the war drums on all fronts. 

Source

Mao Apologised to Yugoslavian Delegates, told Stalin Blocked our Revolution

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It has always been our understanding on Mao, that he was a revisionist and an Anti-Marxist Leninist. With new documents and papers coming out of various Archives, our view has been solidified in light of such information. Mao, had always adopted a vacillating position when it came to matter of international import that concerned the International Communist Movement. At one hand he went to China and asked Stalin of every possible help, including to get his works reviewed by Soviet experts to asking for help on industrialisation.

On numerous occasion he did not fail to eulogies Stalin and writing to him that Soviet Party being the headquarters and Stalin the captain, and immediately after the 20th CPSU Party Congress like Khrushchev turned all guns again same Stalin whom he had called in 1939 as “…Stalin is the leader of the world revolution. This is of paramount importance. It is a great event that mankind is blessed with Stalin. Since we have him, things can go well. As you all know, Marx is dead and so are Engels and Lenin. Had there been no Stalin, who would there be to give directions?

The below document titled “MINUTES, MAO’S CONVERSATION WITH A YUGOSLAVIAN COMMUNIST UNION DELEGATION, BEIJING” further exposes the sheer un-Marxist attitude of Mao when he shamelessly puts blame on Stalin even stating that Stalin blocked our revolution.

But, it was not the end in 1958 Mao again did a U turn and in October 25, 1966 said “The revisionist leading clique of the Soviet Union, the Tito clique of Yugoslavia, and all the other cliques of renegades and scabs of various shades are mere dust heaps in comparison, while you, a lofty mountain, tower to the skies.”

We leave it to the discretion of our dear comrades who still harbour respect and faith in Mao, and to what is said as Mao-Tse-Tung thought or Maoism.

[All emphasis and underline are ours.]

Other Aspect

“MINUTES, MAO’S CONVERSATION WITH A YUGOSLAVIAN COMMUNIST UNION DELEGATION, BEIJING

We welcome you to China.  We are very pleased at your visit.  We have been supported by you, as well as by other brotherly [Communist] parties.  We are invariably supporting you as much as all the other brotherly parties.  In today’s world, the Marxist and Communist front remains united, whether in places where success [of Communist revolution] is achieved or not yet achieved.  However, there were times when we were not so united; there were times when we let you down.  We listened to the opinions of the Information Bureau [2] in the past.  Although we did not take part in the Bureau’s [business], we found it difficult not to support it.  In 1949 the Bureau condemned you as butchers and Hitler-style fascists, and we kept silent on the resolution [condemning you], although we published articles to criticize you in 1948.  In retrospect, we should not have done that; we should have discussed [this issue] with you: if some of your viewpoints were incorrect, [we should have let] you conduct self-criticism, and there was no need to hurry [into the controversy] as [we] did.  The same thing is true to us: should you disagree with us, you should do the same thing, that is, the adoption of a method of persuasion and consultation.  There have not been that many successful cases in which one criticizes foreign parties in newspapers.  [Your] case offers a profound historical lesson for the international communist movement.  Although you have suffered from it, the international communist movement has learned a lesson from this mistake.  [The international communist movement] must fully understand [the seriousness of] this mistake.

When you offered to recognize new China, we did not respond, nor did we decline it.  Undoubtedly, we should not have rejected it, because there was no reason for us to do so.  When Britain recognized us, we did not say no to it.  How could we find any excuse to reject the recognition of a socialist country?

There was, however, another factor which prevented us from responding to you: the Soviet friends did not want us to form diplomatic relations with you.  If so, was China an independent state?  Of course, yes.  If an independent state, why, then, did we follow their instructions?  [My] comrades, when the Soviet Union requested us to follow their suit at that time, it was difficult for us to oppose it.  It was because at that time some people claimed that there were two Titos in the world: one in Yugoslavia, the other in China, even if no one passed a resolution that Mao Zedong was Tito.  I have once pointed out to the Soviet comrades that [they] suspected that I was a half-hearted Tito, but they refuse to recognize it.  When did they remove the tag of half-hearted Tito from my head?  The tag was removed after [China] decided to resist America [in Korea] and came to [North] Korea’s aid and when [we] dealt the US imperialists a blow.

The Wang Ming line[3] was in fact Stalin’s line.  It ended up destroying ninety percent of our strength in our bases, and one hundred percent of [our strength] in the white areas.[4] Comrade [Liu] Shaoqi[5] pointed this out in his report to the Eighth [Party] Congress.[6]  Why, then, did he not openly attribute [the losses] to the [impact of] Stalin’s line?  There is an explanation.  The Soviet Party itself could criticize Stalin; but it would be inappropriate for us to criticize him.  We should maintain a good relationship with the Soviet Union.  Maybe [we] could make our criticism public sometime in the future.  It has to be that way in today’s world, because facts are facts.  The Comintern made numerous mistakes in the past.  Its early and late stages were not so bad, but its middle stage was not so good: it was all right when Lenin was alive and when [Georgii] Dimitrov was in charge.[7]  The first Wang Ming line dominated [our party] for four years, and the Chinese revolution suffered the biggest losses.[8]Wang Ming is now in Moscow taking a sick leave, but still we are going to elect him to be a member of the party’s Central Committee.  He indeed is an instructor for our party; he is a professor, an invaluable one who could not be purchased by money.  He has taught the whole party, so that it would not follow his line.

That was the first time when we got the worst of Stalin.

The second time was during the anti-Japanese war.  Speaking Russian and good at flattering Stalin, Wang Ming could directly communicate with Stalin.  Sent back to China by Stalin, he tried to set [us] toward right deviation this time, instead of following the leftist line he had previously advocated.  Advocating [CCP] collaboration with the Guomindang [the Nationalist Party or GMD], he can be described as “decking himself out and self-inviting [to the GMD];” he wanted [us] to obey the GMD whole-heartedly.  The Six-Principle Program he put forward was to overturn our Party’s Ten-Principle Policy.  [His program] opposed establishing anti-Japanese bases, advocated giving up our Party’s own armed force, and preached that as long as Jiang Jieshi [Chiang Kai-shek] was in power, there would be peace [in China].  We redressed this deviation.  [Ironically,] Jiang Jieshi helped us correct this mistake: while Wang Ming “decked himself out and fawned on [Jiang],” Jiang Jieshi “slapped his face and kicked him out.”  Hence, Jiang Jieshi was China’s best instructor: he had educated the people of the whole nation as well as all of our Party members.  Jiang lectured with his machine guns whereas Wang Ming educated us with his own words.

The third time was after Japan’s surrender and the end of the Second World War.  Stalin met with [Winston] Churchill and [Franklin D.] Roosevelt and decided to give the whole of China to America and Jiang Jieshi.  In terms of material and moral support, especially moral support, Stalin hardly gave any to us, the Communist Party, but supported Jiang Jieshi.  This decision was made at the Yalta conference.  Stalin later told Tito [this decision] who mentioned his conversation [with Stalin on this decision] in his autobiography.

Only after the dissolution of the Comintern did we start to enjoy more freedom.  We had already begun to criticize opportunism and the Wang Ming line, and unfolded the rectification movement.  The rectification, in fact, was aimed at denouncing the mistakes that Stalin and the Comintern had committed in directing the Chinese revolution; however, we did not openly mention a word about Stalin and the Comintern.  Sometime in the near future, [we] may openly do so.  There are two explanations of why we did not openly criticize [Stalin and the Comintern]: first, as we followed their instructions, we have to take some responsibility ourselves.  Nobody compelled us to follow their instructions!  Nobody forced us to be wrongfully deviated to right and left directions!  There are two kinds of Chinese: one kind is a dogmatist who completely accepts Stalin’s line; the other opposes dogmatism, thus refusing to obey [Stalin’s] instructions.  Second, we do not want to displease [the Soviets], to disrupt our relations with the Soviet Union.  The Comintern has never made self-criticism on these mistakes; nor has the Soviet Union ever mentioned these mistakes.  We would have fallen out with them had we raised our criticism.

The fourth time was when [Moscow] regarded me as a half-hearted Tito or semi-Titoist.  Not only in the Soviet Union but also in other socialist countries and some non-socialist countries were there some people who had suspected whether China’s was a real revolution.

You might wonder why [we] still pay a tribute to Stalin in China by hanging his portrait on the wall.  Comrades from Moscow have informed us that they no longer hang Stalin’s portraits and only display Lenin’s and current leaders’ portraits in public parade.  They, however, did not ask us to follow their suit.  We find it very difficult to cope.  The four mistakes committed by Stalin are yet to be made known to the Chinese people as well as to our whole party.  Our situation is quite different from yours: your [suffering inflicted by Stalin] is known to the people and to the whole world.  Within our party, the mistakes of the two Wang Ming lines are well known; but our people do not know that these mistakes originated in Stalin.  Only our Central Committee was aware that Stalin blocked our revolution and regarded me as a half-hearted Tito.

We had no objection that the Soviet Union functions as a center [of the world revolution] because it benefits the socialist movement.  You may disagree [with us] on this point.  You wholeheartedly support Khrushchev’s campaign to criticize Stalin, but we cannot do the same because our people would dislike it.  In the previous parades [in China], we held up portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, as well as those of a few Chinese [leaders]—Mao, Liu [Shaoqi], Zhou [Enlai], and Zhu [De][9] —and other brotherly parties’ leaders.  Now we adopt a measure of “overthrowing all”: no one’s portrait is handed out.  For this year’s “First of May” celebration, Ambassador Bobkoveshi[10] already saw in Beijing that no one’s portrait was held in parade.  However, the portraits of five dead persons—Marx, Engles, Lenin and Stalin and Sun [Yat-sen]—and a not yet dead person—Mao Zedong—are still hanging [on the wall].  Let them hang on the wall!  You Yugoslavians may comment that the Soviet Union no longer hangs Stalin’s portrait, but the Chinese still do.

As of this date some people remain suspicious of whether our socialism can be successfully constructed and stick to the assertion that our Communist Party is a phony one.  What can we do?  These people eat and sleep every day and then propagate that the Chinese Communist Party is not really a communist party, and that China’s socialist construction is bound to fail.  To them, it would be a bewildering thing if socialism could be built in China!  Look out, [they warn].  China might become an imperialist country—to follow America, Britain, and France to become the fourth imperialist country!  At present China has little industry, thus is in no position [to be an imperialist country]; but [China] will become formidable in one hundred years!  Chinggis Khan[11] might be brought to life; consequently Europe would suffer again, and Yugoslavia might be conquered!  The “Yellow Peril” must be prevented!

There is absolutely no ground for this to happen!  The CCP is a Marxist-Leninist Party.  The Chinese people are peace-loving people.  We believe that aggression is a crime, therefore, we will never seize an inch of territory or a piece of grass from others.  We love peace and we are Marxists.

We oppose great power politics in international relations.  Although our industry is small, all things considered, we can be regarded as a big power.  Hence some people [in China] begin to be cocky.  We then warn them: “Lower your heads and act with your tails tucked between your legs.”  When I was little, my mother often taught me to behave “with tails tucked between legs.”  This is a correct teaching and now I often mention it to my comrades.

Domestically, we oppose Pan-Hanism,[12] because this tendency is harmful to the unity of all ethnic groups.  Hegemonism and Pan-Hanism both are sectarianism.  Those who have hegemonious tendencies only care about their own interests but ignore others’, whereas those Pan-Hanists only care about the Han people and regard the Han people as superior to others, thus damaging [the interests of] all the minorities.

Some people have asserted in the past that China has no intention to be friends with other countries, but wants to split with the Soviet Union, thus becoming a troublemaker.  Now, however, this kind of people shrinks to only a handful in the socialist countries; their number has been reduced since the War to Resist America and Assist Korea.[13]  It is, however, a totally different thing for the imperialists:  the stronger China becomes, the more scared they will be.  They also understand that China is not that terrifying as long as China has no advanced industry, and as long as China continues to rely on human power.  The Soviet Union remains the most fearsome [for the imperialists] whereas China is merely the second.  What they are afraid of is our politics and that we may have an enormous impact in Asia.  That is why they keep spreading the words that China will be out of control and will invade others, so on and so forth.

We have been very cautious and modest, trying to overcome arrogance but adhering to the “Five Principles.”[14] We know we have been bullied in the past; we understand how it feels to be bullied.  You would have had the same feeling, wouldn’t you?

China’s future hinges upon socialism.  It will take fifty or even one hundred years to turn China into a wealthy and powerful country.  Now no [formidable] blocking force stands in China’s way.  China is a huge country with a population of one fourth of that of the world.  Nevertheless, her contribution to the world is yet to be compatible with her population size, and this situation will have to change, although my generation and even my son’s generation may not see the change taking place.  How it will change in the future depends on how [China] develops.  China may make mistakes or become corrupt; the current good situation may take a bad turn and, then, the bad situation may take a good turn.  There can be little doubt, though, that even if [China’s] situation takes a bad turn, it may not become as decadent a society as that of Jiang Jieshi’s.  This anticipation is based on dialectics.  Affirmation, negation, and, then, negation of negation.  The path in the future is bound to be tortuous.

Corruption, bureaucracy, hegemonism, and arrogance all may take effect in China.  However, the Chinese people are inclined to be modest and willing to learn from others.  One explanation is that we have little “capital” at our disposal: first, we did not invent Marxism which we learned from others; second, we did not experience the October Revolution and our revolution did not achieve victory until 1949, some thirty-two years after the October Revolution; third, we were only a branch army, not a main force, during the Second World War; fourth, with little modern industry, we merely have agriculture and some shabby, tattered handicrafts.  Although there are some people among us who appear to be cocky, they are in no position to be cocky; at most, [they can merely show] their tails one or two meters high.  But we must prevent this from happening in the future: it may become dangerous [for us] in ten to twenty years and even more dangerous in forty to fifty years.

My comrades, let me advise you that you should also watch out for this potential.  Your industry is much modernized and has experienced a more rapid growth; Stalin made you suffer and hence, justice is on your side.  All of this, though, may become your [mental] burden.

The above-mentioned four mistakes Stalin committed [concerning China] may also become our burden.  When China becomes industrialized in later years, it will be more likely that we get cocky.  Upon your return to your country, please tell your youngsters that, should China stick her tail up in the future, even if the tail becomes ten thousand meters high, still they must criticize China.  [You] must keep an eye on China, and the entire world must keep an eye on China.  At that time, I definitely will not be here: I will already be attending a conference together with Marx.

We are sorry that we hurt you before, thus owing you a good deal.  Killing must be compensated by life and debts must be paid in cash.  We have criticized you before, but why do we still keep quiet?  Before [Khrushchev’s] criticism of Stalin, we were not in a position to be as explicit about some issues as we are now.  In my previous conversations with [Ambassador] Bobkoveshi, I could only say that as long as the Soviet Union did not criticize Stalin, we would be in no position to do so; as long as the Soviet Union did not restore [diplomatic] relations with Yugoslavia, we could not establish relations with you.[15]  Now these issues can be openly discussed.  I have already talked to the Soviet comrades about the four mistakes that Stalin had committed [to China]; I talked to [Soviet Ambassador Pavel] Yudin[16] about it, and I shall talk to Khrushchev about it next time when we meet.  I talk to you about it because you are our comrades.  However, we still cannot publish this in the newspapers, because the imperialists should not be allowed to know about it.  We may openly talk about one or two mistakes of Stalin’s in the future.  Our situation is quite different from yours:  Tito’s autobiography mentions Stalin because you have already broken up with the Soviet Union.

Stalin advocated dialectical materialism, but sometimes he lacked materialism and, instead, practiced metaphysics; he wrote about historical materialism, but very often suffered from historical idealism.  Some of his behavior, such as going to extremes, fostering personal myth, and embarrassing others, are by no means [forms] of materialism.

Before I met with Stalin, I did not have much good feeling about him.  I disliked reading his works, and I have read only “On the Basis of Leninism,” a long article criticizing Trotsky, and “Be Carried Away by Success,” etc.  I disliked even more his articles on the Chinese revolution.  He was very different from Lenin: Lenin shared his heart with others and treated others as equals whereas Stalin liked to stand above every one else and order others around.  This style can be detected from his works.  After I met with him, I became even more disgusted:  I quarreled a lot with him in Moscow.  Stalin was excitable by temperament.  When he became agitated, he would spell out nasty things.

I have written altogether three pieces praising Stalin.  The first was written in Yanan to celebrate his sixtieth birthday [21 December 1939—ed.], the second was the congratulatory speech [I delivered] in Moscow [in December 1949—ed.], and the third was an article requested by Pravda after his death [March 1953—ed.].  I always dislike congratulating others as well as being congratulated by others.  When I was in Moscow to celebrate his birthday, what else could I have done if I had chosen not to congratulate him?  Could I have cursed him instead?  After his death the Soviet Union needed our support and we also wanted to support the Soviet Union.  Consequently, I wrote that piece to praise his virtues and achievements.  That piece was not for Stalin; it was for the Soviet Communist Party.  As for the piece I did in Yanan, I had to ignore my personal feelings and treat him as the leader of a socialist country.  Therefore, that piece was rather vigorous whereas the other two came out of [political] need, not my heart, nor at my will.  Human life is just as contradictory as this: your emotion tells you not to write these pieces, but your rationality compels you to do so.

Now that Moscow has criticized Stalin, we are free to talk about these issues.  Today I tell you about the four mistakes committed by Stalin, but, in order to maintain relations with the Soviet Union, [we] cannot publish them in our newspapers.  Since Khrushchev’s report only mentioned the conflict over the sugar plant while discussing Stalin’s mistakes concerning us, we feel it inappropriate to make them public.  There are other issues involving conflicts and controversies.

Generally speaking, the Soviet Union is good.  It is good because of four factors: Marxism-Leninism, the October Revolution, the main force [of the socialist camp], and industrialization.  They have their negative side, and have made some mistakes.  However, their achievements constitute the major part [of their past] while their shortcomings are of secondary significance.  Now that the enemy is taking advantage of the criticism of Stalin to take the offensive on a world-wide scale, we ought to support the Soviet Union.  They will certainly correct their mistakes.  Khrushchev already corrected the mistake concerning Yugoslavia.  They are already aware of Wang Ming’s mistakes, although in the past they were unhappy with our criticism of Wang Ming.  They have also removed the “half-hearted Tito” [label from me], thus, eliminating altogether [the labels on] one and a half Titos.  We are pleased to see that Tito’s tag was removed.

Some of our people are still unhappy with the criticism of Stalin.  However, such criticism has positive effects because it destroys mythologies, and opens [black] boxes.  This entails liberation, indeed, a “war of liberation.”  With it, people are becoming so courageous that they will speak their minds, as well as be able to think about issues.

Liberty, equality, and fraternity are slogans of the bourgeoisie, but now we have to fight for them.  Is [our relationship with Moscow] a father-and-son relationship or one between brothers?  It was between father and son in the past; now it more or less resembles a brotherly relationship, but the shadow of the father-and-son relationship is not completely removed.  This is understandable, because changes can never be completed in one day.  With certain openness, people are now able to think freely and independently.  Now there is, in a sense, the atmosphere of anti-feudalism: a father-and-son relationship is giving way to a brotherly relationship, and a patriarchal system is being toppled.  During [Stalin’s] time people’s minds were so tightly controlled that even the feudalist control had been surpassed.  While some enlightened feudal lords or emperors would accept criticism, [Stalin] would tolerate none.  Yugoslavia might also have such a ruler [in your history] who might take it well even when people cursed him right in his face.  The capitalist society has taken a step ahead of the feudalist society.  The Republican and Democratic Parties in the United States are allowed to quarrel with each other.

We socialist countries must find [better] solutions.  Certainly, we need concentration and unification; otherwise, uniformity cannot be maintained.  The uniformity of people’s minds is in our favor, enabling us to achieve industrialization in a short period and to deal with the imperialists.  It, however, embodies some shortcomings, that is, people are made afraid of speaking out.  Therefore, we must find some ways to encourage people to speak out.  Our Politburo’s comrades have recently been considering these issues.

Few people in China have ever openly criticized me.  The [Chinese] people are tolerant of my shortcomings and mistakes.  It is because we always want to serve the people and do good things for the people.  Although we sometimes also suffer from bossism and bureaucracy, the people believe that we have done more good things than bad ones and, as a result, they praise us more than criticize us.  Consequently, an idol is created: when some people criticize me, others would oppose them and accuse them of disrespecting the leader.  Everyday I and other comrades of the central leadership receive some three hundred letters, some of which are critical of us.  These letters, however, are either not signed or signed with a false name.  The authors are not afraid that we would suppress them, but they are afraid that others around them would make them suffer.

You mentioned “On Ten Relationships.”[17] This resulted from one-and-a-half-months of discussions between me and thirty-four ministers [of the government].  What opinions could I myself have put forward without them?  All I did was to put together their suggestions, and I did not create anything.  Any creation requires materials and factories.  However, I am no longer a good factory.  All my equipment is out-of-date, I need to be improved and re-equipped as much as do the factories in Britain.  I am getting old and can no longer play the major role but had to assume a minor part.  As you can see, I merely played a minor role during this Party’s National Congress whereas Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping[18] and others assumed the primary functions.

[1] The content of this conversation suggests that it occurred between 15 and 28 September 1956, when the CCP’s Eighth National Congress was in session.

[2] This refers to the Information Bureau of Communist and Workers’ Parties (Cominform), which was established in September 1947 by the parties of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Yugoslavia. The Bureau announced that it was ending its activities in April 1956.

[3] Wang Ming (1904-1974), also known as Chen Shaoyu, was a returnee from the Soviet Union and a leading member of the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s. Official Chinese Communist view claims that Wang Ming committed “ultra-leftist” mistakes in the early 1930s and “ultra-rightist” mistakes in the late 1930s.

[4] The white areas were Guomindang-controlled areas.

[5] Liu Shaoqi was vice chairman of the CCP Central Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s National Congress. He was China’s second most important leader.

[6] The Chinese Communist party’s eighth national congress was held in Beijing on 15-27 September 1956.

[7] Georgii Dimitrov (1882-1949), a Bulgarian communist, was the Comintern’s secretary general from 1935 to 1943.

[8] Mao here pointed to the period from 1931 to 1935, during which the “international section,” of which Wang Ming was a leading member, controlled the central leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

[9] Zhu De was then vice chairman of the CCP Central Committee and vice chairman of the PRC.

[10] Bobkoveshi was Yugoslavia’s first ambassador to the PRC, with whom Mao Zedong met for the first time on 30 June 1955.

[11] Chinggis Khan, also spelled Genghis Jenghiz, was born about 1167, when the Mongolian-speaking tribes still lacked a common name.  He became their great organizer and unifier. Before his death in 1227, Chinggis established the basis for a far-flung Eurasian empire by conquering its inner zone across Central Asia. The Mongols are remembered for their wanton aggressiveness both in Europe and in Asia, and this trait was certainly present in Chinggis.

[12] The Han nationality is the majority nationality in China, which counts for over 95 percent of the Chinese population.

[13] The “War to Resist America and Assist Korea” describes China’s participation in the Korean War from October 1950 to July 1953.

[14] The five principles were first introduced by Zhou Enlai while meeting a delegation from India on 31 December 1953. These principles—(1) mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, (2) mutual non-aggression, (3) mutual non-interference in international affairs, (4) equality and mutual benefit, and (5) peaceful coexistence—were later repeatedly claimed by the Chinese government as the foundation of the PRC’s foreign policy.

[15] China did not establish diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia until January 1955, although the Yugoslavian government recognized the PRC as early as 5 October 1949, four days after the PRC’s establishment.

[16] P. F. Yudin (1899-1968), a prominent philosopher and a member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party from 1952 to 1961, was Soviet ambassador to China from 1953 to 1959.

[17] “On Ten Relationships” was one of Mao’s major works in the 1950s. He discussed the relationship between industry and agriculture and heavy industry and light industry, between coastal industry and industry in the interior, between economic construction and national defense, between the state, the unit of production, and individual producers, between the center and the regions, between the Han nationality and the minority nationalities, between party and non-party, between revolutionary and counter-revolutionary, between right and wrong, and between China and other countries. For an English translation of one version of the article, see Stuart Schram, ed., Chairman Mao Talks to the People (New York: Pantheon Books, 1974), 61-83.

[18] Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping were all leading members of the Chinese Communist Party. At the Party’s Eighth Congress in September 1956, Liu and Zhou were elected the Party’s vice chairmen, and Deng the Party’s general secretary.

SOURCE:

Mao Zedong waijiao wenxuan [Selected Diplomatic Papers of Mao Zedong] (Beijing: The Central Press of Historical Documents, 1993), 251-262. Translated and Annotated by Zhang Shu Guang and Chen Jian

This document taken from

http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117035#_ftn0

V.I. Lenin on Liberals

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“When a liberal is abused, he says, ‘Thank God they didn’t beat me.’ When he is beaten, he thanks God they didn’t kill him. When he is killed, he will thank God that his immortal soul has been delivered from its mortal clay.”

– V. I. Lenin, “The Government’s Falsification of the Duma and the Tasks of the Social-Democrats”

Che Guevara on Anti-Imperialism

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“We said that each time a country is liberated it is a defeat for the world imperialist system. But we must agree that the break is not achieved by the mere act of proclaiming independence or winning an armed victory in a revolution. It is achieved when imperialist economic domination over a people is brought to an end. Therefore, it is a matter of vital interest to the socialist countries for a real break to take place. And it is our international duty, a duty determined by our guiding ideology, to contribute our efforts to make this liberation as rapid and deep-going as possible.”

 – Ernesto “Che” Guevara, “At the Afro-Asian Conference in Algeria”

The Deindustrialisation of Contemporary Russia

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Tahir Asghar

The USSR, over the period of its tumultuous history, had built up a massive industrial, R&D and scientific potential so as to not only build a socialist society and defend it but also to secure its economic independence and growth and the full development of intellectual and material capacities of its population. Not only did the old industrial and scientific centres like Moscow and Leningrad witness massive expansion but many new such centres were set up in all the republics.

Moscow and its surrounding region continued to be the major economic region of the USSR, where the most diverse sectors beginning from aeronautic and cosmonautic, high tech defence industries and research institutions to linen and textiles factories were situated. The process and trends of economic and technological decline of the country in the period of restoration of capitalism find their particular reflection in the decline of these former centres of industrial and scientific excellence and their transformation into service hubs. What has happened there and is continuing to take place can be considered as a typical case of the overall trend of the shift in the emphasis towards the service sector on the rather flimsy ‘scientific’ hypothesis that all advanced economies are characterised by dominance of the service sector, totally contrary to the Marxist-Leninist position of the primacy of the sector of production of means of production as the foundation not only of the national economy but also as a determining condition for the real, not just formal, independence of a nation.

In the preceding 25 years, capitalism has expanded to become a truly globalised economic system. And during this period global capitalism has experienced a number of crises in many parts of the world – the South Asian crisis of 1997, the Russian crisis of 1998, the bursting of the tech bubble and finally the crisis of 2007 in the United States of America and then the crisis in the Euro zone. However, in the 1980s capitalism was being prescribed as the only system capable of providing sustained growth not only in the advanced capitalist countries, in the countries of the so-called Third World, but also in the countries of the socialist bloc. It was argued that only a market system based on private entrepreneurship produces optimal use of resources, minimises waste and maximises economic growth.

In the late 1970s the West experienced the information revolution. The spread of computer and information technology first to the corporate (manufacturing, small and medium businesses, retail, banking) sector and then to the households for personal use led to a sharp increase in labour productivity. At the same time the USA and UK saw the rise of right-wing political forces to power – Ronald Reagan in the USA and Margaret Thatcher in UK. Using the power of the mass media, prejudices of the middle class and above all the full force of the coercive apparatus of the state, they mounted a ruthless and ferocious assault on the working class in their respective countries and succeeded to a large extent in crushing the organised working class and trade union movement, from which it has yet to fully recover. They managed to convince large sections of the population that all the problems of capitalism can be resolved on the basis of the free play of market forces only if the ‘lazy’ and ‘pampered’ working class with its permanently increasing irrational demands was shown its place and the weak State that always gave in to their demands be withdrawn from active economic participation through the public sector, which needs to be privatised. So they argued and promptly proceeded to implement maximum deregulation of the production, distribution and exchange, withdrawal of the state from direct economic activity and curtailment of the power of workers organisations and trade unions.

Subsequently, policies based on these principles were not only sought to be promoted in, but also actively forced upon the developing countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa.

At about the same time that these changes were taking place in the UK and USA, the USSR, after a prolonged period of annual growth rates ranging between 4.5 and 6 percent, began to show signs of slowing down. The distortions in the economy that were in the making for a long time and serious shortcomings in the planning process unresolved since the Liberman reforms of the late 1960s began to manifest themselves with increasing severity, leading to serious shortfalls of many essential commodities and foodstuffs and deteriorating quality of social services all over the country. Further, the country found itself bogged down in an expensive, unexpectedly protracted and seemingly endless war in Afghanistan, putting additional pressure on government expenditure. This was also a time of political indecision as the ageing politburo and the Party leadership was proving to be increasingly incapable of asserting central control. This period from the late-1970s to 1985 is now generally referred to as the “stagnation” period.

The result was that the USSR appeared to be falling behind the West in economic development and increasingly unable to provide consistent growth in the living standard of the population. After a period in which three party secretaries came to power in quick succession, it was finally Gorbachev who was appointed the general secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR.

It was under his stewardship that the policy of Perestroika and democratisation was initiated. It appears that by this time the party leadership had factually come to the conclusion that the system of centralised planning has outlived its original role and is not capable any more on its own to provide the population with a growing standard of living, and needs to be supplemented, if not totally replaced (a view that was to become the official policy in just a few years time) by a non-state sector based on market principles. And thus with the passing of the bill on cooperatives and individual businesses, the foundation for private owned enterprises was laid. The passing of another Law on Enterprises also allowed management much more autonomy and freedom in decision-making, thereby diminishing further the power and capacity of the central authorities to control the enterprises. These measures and the political instability taken together led to a precipitous drop in the growth rate of the economy and plunged the country into a full-fledged economic crisis by 1989. Finally, the unsuccessful coup against Gorbachev and subsequent events leading to the dismantling of the CPSU and the Soviet Union imposed by Yeltsin, marked the end of the socialist world system.

Yeltsin and his group of advisers, all erstwhile high level functionaries of the CPSU, helped by their new found well-wishing ‘experts’ from the IMF and other financial institutions of the West, began, with all the zeal of the newly converted, to dismantle the whole structure and intricate network of the centrally planned economic system and replace it with an economy based on market mechanism and private property, i.e. capitalism. With this in mind a policy of stabilisation, liberalisation, privatisation and free foreign trade, already tried out in many other countries with disastrous consequences for most of them, nevertheless began to be carried out immediately in Russia. This policy came to be known as “shock therapy”. It was the beginning of the restoration of capitalism in Russia by Khrushchev’s ideological progenies.

The consequences in Russia of this transition to capitalism have been really shocking, especially in terms of its social costs. It still continues to exact its price – economic, social and (geo) political.

From a superpower, the country has been reduced to the status of a middle-order nation along with countries like India. From the second most powerful economy, just behind the United States, the country has been reduced to the status where it now stands alongside developing countries like Brazil and India. On many indicators of social development the country is now ranked alongside the least developed countries of the world.

The two books under review give a fairly complete and comprehensive picture of the decline of a country that was once one of the only two military and economic superpowers in the world and adequately describe the process and government policies resulting in this rather sorry state of affairs for a country endowed with all the wealth – intellectual and material – that no other country, with the exception of USA, can boast of.

The most striking feature of economic decline of the Russian Federation since 1991 has been the ‘de-industrialisation’ of the country accompanied by loss of its R&D and scientific leadership.

The book ‘Moscow City from an Industrial and Scientific Centre to a Collection of Shops and Offices’, by G.V. Krainev (Moscow, 2009), is a testimony to this process. It is a collection of articles describing and analysing the policy of reforms undertaken in the city of Moscow which has led to the destruction of the most organised and self-conscious section of the Moscow proletariat as the author says of both physical and intellectual labour. The book is divided into a number of themes which look at different aspects of the policy of capitalist reforms.

The ruling class of Russia, having concentrated in its hands unrestricted power following the dissolution of the CPSU, began to systematically undermine the very base of socialist production – large scale industrial production and its R&D and scientific support consisting of hundreds of scientific organisations and institutes employing hundreds of thousands of highly qualified personnel. This was done deliberately as part of the policy of converting socialist enterprises into capitalist undertakings of various forms. The industrial enterprises were first deprived of preferential access to financing their operations, by devaluing their assets, both old and new, through hyper-inflation and devaluation of the currency, by pushing these enterprises deep into debt and then letting them face international competition without any state support, and all this in the wake of disruption, following the collapse of the USSR, of the traditional ties with the other enterprises of the country that were suppliers of inputs or consumers for their products, by depriving the enterprises of new entrants of qualified and trained workers from the professional schools that were being hurriedly closed down and converted into play areas or shops and beauty salons, and lastly, declaring these enterprises insolvent, which then was used to demonstrate the ‘uncompetitiveness’ of the majority of enterprises built in the Soviet era.

It is also worth noting that these large-scale industrial enterprises were being carved up into innumerable small and medium joint stock and private companies, which appropriate from a fine-tuned production cycle the most valuable assets and resort to selling or liquidating the rest. The state also started to sell these enterprises to foreign buyers under the pretext of the need to increase the effectiveness of these enterprises. Such reorganisations, liquidations and bankruptcies of enterprises and factories have with time assumed massive proportions. In Moscow alone by the beginning of 2002 about 7000 were already liquidated and another 8000 were in the line (Krainev, p. 7). Thus already by 1999, as a consequence of the market reforms, the socio-economic structure of Moscow underwent a radical change. Moscow became centre of finance, business, trade and administration and the significance of industries as a factor of urban development has diminished drastically (Krainev, p. 8).

Industries are also increasingly becoming victims of speculation in land and real estate. The new Land Code of the country allows the owner of the factory to buy the land on which the factory is situated. This law has set in motion speculative activity related to land. The wealthier ‘entrepreneurs’ went on the offensive, buying out the workers’ shares of so-called unprofitable factories so as to take over the land, then close down the factories and build on this land offices, casinos, markets or malls and other such modern commercial units. Subsequently, this has become an epidemic affecting not only unproductive enterprises but also efficiently functioning and profitable ones (Krainev, p. 14).

Such processes on a national scale have brought about a radical change in the structure of the economy of the country as whole. Now, contrary to the situation earlier, the largest share in the growth of GDP is contributed by the export of fuel and energy resources and raw material and also because of high prices of these commodities on the international market. Only 2% of the growth in GDP can be attributed to the genuinely competitive sectors that have managed to counter imports and increase their own production. This has led to the degradation of critical sectors like manufacturing and agriculture, and over a period of15-20 years turn Russia from a producer country to an importer country especially of machines, equipment and food products and a country living off revenues largely from its oil exports. This is also reflected in the structure  imports that shows growing rates of import of machines and equipment between the years 2000 and 2006. Their share in the total imports grew from 31.1% in 2000 to 47.7% in 2006 (Krainev, p. 76). If in the period of market reforms and the spread and growth of capitalism in Russia, the industrial sector as a whole was the biggest victim; the situation of the manufacturing sector, especially that of machine building and engineering sectors, producing means of production can be described as disastrous.

This situation finds its reflection as in a mirror in the economic structure of Moscow. Since 1991 the structure of industrial production in Moscow has witnessed similar and significant change. Once the hub of production of modern machinery and engineering equipment, of sectors at the forefront industrial development, today the picture can only be termed as dismal. The leading industrial sector in the city is the food processing industry, both in terms of rates of growth and scale of production. The enterprises of the food industry account for a third of all the realised produce of the city, between 28 and 32% in monetary terms. During the reforms of the industrial sector of the city, the machine-building and metal-working industries have completely lost their former leading positions and now occupy a subordinate position, constituting only about 25% in total volume of industrial production. Thus even according to official statistics the real fact is that the these two sectors of industry, the very core of industrial production, now together constitute only 2% of the Gross Regional Product of Moscow (Krainev, p. 82). “Machine building industry, which forms the technological foundation of all industry, and which under the Soviet Union effectively satisfied the requirements of all the branches of heavy, light and other industries, the requirement of the colossal national economy of the USSR, has been liquidated for all practical purposes” (Krainev, p. 92). Only the production of consumer goods and control systems is increasing and the production of the means of production is significantly on a decline. In this way a slow ticking bomb is being placed under the ground of national industries that will ensure dependence on supplies of technology from abroad for many years to come (Krainev, p. 93).

The Gross Regional Product also depends on the scale of investments in the economy of the region. The data of the Russian Statistical Committee differentiates between investments in fixed capital and foreign investments. Though investment in fixed capital shows growth in absolute terms in roubles, its share in the Gross Regional Product of Moscow has stagnated at around 11% and only towards the mid-2000s began to outstrip inflation. According to official data, one third of the investments is directed to overhauling of machines, equipment and means of transport. However, reports in the media suggest that not more than 6% of fixed equipment, much less than the required 8%, does not even ensure simple reproduction. In many enterprises equipment that was installed during the Stalin period is still in use. If we look at the sector-wise structure of investments, the largest share of investments flows into the transport and housing sectors (26% and 25% respectively) while only slightly more than 7% flows into the industrial sector, even less than in communications which stands at about 11%. These facts show that renewal of fixed capital in the industrial sector is not a priority for the authorities (Krainev, pp. 95-96).

The volume of foreign investments has been rising consistently since 2000. If in 2000 it was around US $4 billion then in 2006 it was approximately US $24 billion. According to the city authorities the most attractive areas of foreign investments in the economy of Moscow are trade, hotels, eateries and restaurant business, transport and reconstruction of large buildings. According to official statistics foreign investment in the industrial sector of the city is just a meagre part of the overall flows with a major part going into trade and food services (Krainev, pp. 98-99). Retail trade (malls, showrooms, boutiques), wholesale trade, production of beer, hotel business, all those areas that bring in quick and relatively high returns, have turned out to be the most attractive destinations for foreign direct investments. It is widely commented that sectors like machine building and the engineering industry, high technology, processing industry have not been able to attract any significant amount of foreign investments. Both Russian and foreign investors so far have shown interest primarily in areas that ensure high profits in the short term with a minimum of risks.

All these factors find their reflection in official economic data for Moscow: growth has been significant in production of electrical and optical equipment, means of transport, production of rubber and plastic goods, wood processing and wooden items and leather goods. Growth rates have declined in production of chemicals, metallurgy and metal items, machines and equipment (heavy and light), textiles and garments. The last two have seen in significant and consistent decline (Krainev, p. 111).

These radical changes in the structure of the national economy as exemplified by the experience of the erstwhile most powerful economic, scientific and R&D hub of the country – the city and region of Moscow – have negatively affected the technology and technical institutions, scientific research institutes and R&D organisations in the city and, consequently, the status and conditions of living of hundreds of thousands of workers and highly qualified scientists and technicians.

O.A. Mazur’s book ‘Development of the Workforce of Contemporary Russia’, (St. Petersburg University Publication, St. Petersburg, 2009) analyses the factors behind the Russian Federation’s relative social and technological backwardness and attempts to identify the contradictions in the development of social capital. He too highlights the decline of the industrial sector in Russia in general and of manufacturing in particular which now employs significantly fewer employees than during the Soviet period. There has been a 36% decline in the number of employees in industries (38.2% in machine-building sector) and a simultaneous ‘catastrophic’ decline in the number employed in science and R&D – 50%. Trade and finance sectors witnessed a high growth in the number of employees. According to him, industry continues to remain in a state of stagnation and only the best part of it has regained the levels of the late 1980s, a period that itself was one of negative growth (p. 42). Within industry too regressive shifts can be observed in the structure of employment – increase in the share of extracting industries accompanied by a decreasing share of employment in machine-building and light industries, i.e. exactly those industries that together account for the largest share in value addition.

These shifts are ultimately responsible for the terrible conditions that have resulted in extremely grim social development indicators: high rates of mortality in the working age group of the population and fall in the educational and skill levels of the workforce, food consumption and living conditions. Mortality in Russia is almost double that of the USA, France and Netherlands. The average life span for the whole population is 67 years, while it is 72 years for women and only 56 for men. This is about 10-15 years lower than in the West. Only 58% of the young men of the age of16 presently are expected to live until 60 years. The number of deaths in the working age group is catastrophically high and exceeds the levels in advanced countries by a factor of 1.5 – 2. Diseases related to the blood circulatory system are the main causes of this decline in the average life span of men and unnatural deaths among women, pointing towards deterioration of social conditions. Consumption of tobacco, generously supplied by the multinationals, along with alcohol consumption is also among the leading factors of high mortality rates in Russia (Mazur, p. 31).

A steep fall in the real wages of the majority of the population resulted in the decline of living conditions: food consumption, housing, fewer opportunities for recreational activities. All these also have been a major factor in the low life-span of the Russian population (Mazur, p. 30).

According to this author no fewer than 25% of men in the working age group are either totally or partially unfit to work. These and other factors of high mortality and incapacity to work in the Russian Federation have yet to be overcome, but now exert a cumulative affect (Mazur, p. 32). A comparison of the same indicators of health in the Russian Federation and UK shows that if in 1965 they had a broadly similar level of mortality due to curable diseases then by the end of 1990s in Russia it was about 3 times more than in UK. Mortality due to diseases related to blood circulatory system and infectious diseases in the Russian Federation is 3-4 times higher than in the USA, Norway and France.

The trend of decreasing employment in the industrial sector of Moscow observed by Krainev is also characteristic of the country as a whole, as shown by Mazur. In the 1990s according to Mazur the sectoral structure of the Russian economy changed dramatically and looked more like the structure of a pre-industrial economy. Since then not much change has occurred. The tendencies of the 1990s continue to dominate. The industrial sector has witnessed a 36% fall in the number of employed, agriculture – 20%, and construction – 23%, while there has been an 103% increase in the number of employed in the finance sector, in trade – 85%, and in State administration – 85%. Maximum loss of employment has occurred among the less-skilled workers of industry and construction sectors.

Regressive shifts can also be observed within the industrial structure of employment. There has been an increase in the share of employed in the extracting industries (from 12.5% in 1990 to 24% in 2005) while the share of machine-building and engineering sector in the total number of employed in industry declined from 38.2% to 26.4%, and of light industry from 11% to 6% over the same period of time (Mazur, p. 43). The changes thus have occurred in sectors that have the potential to add maximum value and in the case of machine-building and engineering sector, in addition, the ability to provide technological progress.

Thus, looking at the decline of the sectors that form the very basis of technological progress, it is hard to imagine how Russia can regain its position as a world leader in production and science and R&D. Manufacturing sector of industry, and more particularly machine-building and engineering sectors (Department A in Soviet terminology) are the crucial sectors that produce means of production for production of means of production and constitute the backbone, the basis of its security, independence, power and the future of scientific and technological development. Ignoring this fact would lead to colossal material and territorial losses, lagging behind in the development of the productive forces of the country and would give rise to serious problems in maintaining the military- defensive capabilities of the state.

Machine-building and engineering are foundational branches of industry and determine the course and nature of future industrial development, as it is in this sector that almost all the breakthrough discoveries and innovations take place. Having lost our own industries we lose everything: science, a highly-skilled work force, modern defence production, war-ready army and in the final count our economic and political independence.

It is clear that the real economic and political sovereignty of the state is determined by whether or not the state is capable of independently producing the crucial means of production for all other type of production. To put it simply, whether or not the state can produce in sufficient quantity machines and equipment needed for the core branches of the industry. From this perspective, the future of sovereignty of the Russian Federation is quite bleak (Mazur, p. 112).

Source

V.I. Lenin on the Struggle of the Urban Workers

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“Formerly, only students rebelled, but now thousands and tens of thousands of workers have risen in all the big towns. In most cases they fight against their employers, against the factory owners, against the capitalists. The workers declare strikes, all of them stop work at a factory at the same time and demand higher wages, demand that they should be made to work not eleven or ten hours a day, but only eight hours. The workers also demand other things that would make the working man’s life easier. They want the workshops to be in better condition and the machines to be protected by special devices so as to prevent them from maiming the workers; they want their children to be able to go to school and the sick to be given proper aid in the hospitals; they want the workers’ homes to be like human dwellings instead of being like pigsties.

The police intervene in the workers’ struggle. The police seize workers, throw them into prison, deport them without trial to their villages, or even to Siberia. The government has passed laws banning strikes and workers’ meetings. But the workers wage their fight against the police and against the government. The workers say: We, millions of working people, have bent our backs long enough! We have worked for the rich and remained paupers long enough! We have allowed them to rob us long enough! We want to unite in unions, to unite all the workers in one big workers’ union (a workers’ party) and to strive jointly for a better life. We want to achieve a new and better order of society: in this new and better society there must be neither rich nor poor; all will have to work. Not a handful of rich people, but all the working people must enjoy the fruits of their common labour. Machines and other improvements must serve to ease the work of all and not to enable a few to grow rich at the expense of millions and tens of millions of people. This new and better society is called socialist society. The teachings about this society are called socialism. The workers’ unions which fight for this better order of society are called Social-Democratic parties. Such parties exist openly in nearly all countries (except Russia and Turkey), and our workers, together with socialists from among the educated people, have also formed such a party: the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.

The government persecutes that Party, but it exists in secret, despite all prohibitions; it publishes its news papers and pamphlets and organises secret unions. The workers not only meet in secret but come out into the streets in crowds and unfurl their banners bearing the inscriptions: ‘Long live the eight-hour day! Long live freedom! Long live socialism!’ The government savagely persecutes the workers for this. It even sends troops to shoot down the workers. Russian soldiers have killed Russian workers in Yaroslavl, St. Petersburg, Riga, Rostov-on-Don, and Zlatoust.

But the workers do not yield. They continue the fight. They say: neither persecution, prison, deportation, penal servitude, nor death can frighten us. Our cause is a just one. We are fighting for the freedom and the happiness of all who work. We are fighting to free tens and hundreds of millions of people from abuse of power, oppression and poverty. The workers are becoming more and more class- conscious. The number of Social-Democrats is growing fast in all countries. We shall win despite all persecution.”

 – V.I. Lenin, “To the Rural Poor”

V.I. Lenin on the Marxist View of War

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“Socialists have always condemned war between nations as barbarous and brutal. But our attitude towards war is fundamentally different from that of the bourgeois pacifists (supporters and advocates of peace) and of the Anarchists. We differ from the former in that we understand the inevitable connection between wars and the class struggle within the country; we understand that war cannot be abolished unless classes are abolished and Socialism is created; and we also differ in that we fully regard civil wars, i.e., wars waged by the oppressed class against the oppressing class, slaves against slave-owners, serfs against land-owners, and wage-workers against the bourgeoisie, as legitimate, progressive and necessary. We Marxists differ from both the pacifists and the Anarchists in that we deem it necessary historically (from the standpoint of Marx’s dialectical materialism) to study each war separately. In history there have been numerous wars which, in spite of all the horrors, atrocities, distress and suffering that inevitably accompany alt wars, were progressive, i.e., benefited the development of mankind by helping to destroy the exceptionally harmful and reactionary institutions (for example, autocracy or serfdom), the most barbarous despotisms in Europe (Turkish and Russian). Therefore, it is necessary to examine the historically specific features of precisely the present war.”

– V. I. Lenin, “Socialism and War”