Category Archives: Feminism and Women’s Rights

Labour Party (EMEP): About the developments in Turkey

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How can anyone interpret the ongoing widespread massive demonstrations launched on previous week? The Turkish Spring? A public upheaval? Or a coup attempt ignited by the nationalists?

To make a realistic interpretation,one must consider the latest political incidents in Turkey. Definitely, it is not just one spark which glinted the fire.

AKP Government,the most loyal ally of US and Western Imperialism in Middle East ,an important actor of the Greater Middle East Initiative and the most devoted executor of Neo-liberal politics;and its policies were found extensive protests for years.  

The policies such as disposal of public property to multinational institutions and to local tycoons,massive dismissals, the reorganization of the working life  against workers outsourcing, union-busting, restriction of social rights, lower wages,increased exploitation of labor in the name of increasing performance evoked insurgency everyday in factories and institutions.

On the other hand,the ignorance and the assimilative policies on Kurdish people, massive detentions caused tremendous repercussions .

The urbanite bourgeoisie were disturbed by the religious based practices and the statements of the AKP Government.Implementation of compulsory religious education in secondary schools,re-arrangement of the education system  according to religious references requested,the increase in the number of religious schools,the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which employs a huge army of clerics to arbitration,restrictions for  the sale of alcoholic beverages and smoking,replenish of the  bureaucratic cadre by the religious sections called the pro-AKP.

AKP, by creating high interest rates and selling the public domain to foreign capital at very low rates,provided a flow of hot money and tried to attract the share capital which refrain from investing their money in the Middle East or in the Western banks and companies.So that the AKP government was more successfull so far as Europe and US in slurring over the wolrd economic crises.  

But,lately, the hot money money flow from abroad has been decreased.AKP government tried to avoid the economical predicament  by implementing a construction campaign so called “Urban transformation”.The most valuable areas in big cities were expropriated,multi-storey  structures builded on public domains and sold for extreme prices.Growing traffic problem, destroying of green spaces and the prejudiced policies in  which AKP followers filled their pockets,lead to a widespread discontent. 

The Syrian policy of AKP government unplugged a great dissatisfaction amongst people.The monetary aid supporting the radical islamic organisations and groups and deploying these groups on Syria border caused lots of issues.The radical islamists became a menacing power for the Alawite majority on the border.harboring the radical islamists impaired the trade and the economy in the area.

The bankruptcies and the unemployment has increased.Besides,the negative effects of 5 million dollars spent on Esad opposers has become to emerge.

In these circumstances, Prime minister Erdoğan announced that a Shopping mall would be builded in Taksim Park.The Shopping mall would be constructed as a caserne. Artillery Barracks during the bourgeois revolution in 1908,known as the headquarters of reactionary forces,and the center of the uprising AKP,resuscitating the barracks,is advocating the March 31, 1908 reactionary uprising and also wanted to take revenge of the 1908 Revolution. Barracks project revealed as such for a substantial portion of the population.In addition, Taksim environmental sectors also disturbed about the fact that almost no green space would be left in the shopping center. Erdoğan’s intention to change the city landscape without the consent of such majority,led the way to an uprising to his dictator-like policies.

A month ago, on May 1st demonstration in Taksim AKP government banned a distance of twenty miles from the entrance to thwart  and  mass transport to the zone is stopped, they cut off the access to the city’s Asian and European parts the whole day, and the masses were subjected to attack, gas and water cannons.The precautions taken by the AKP government has aggrieved all the people in İstanbul and the tourists.  Taksim Gezi Park,resistance began.Business machines,taking action to demolish Taksim Park attracted thousands of people to Taksim Gezi Park. Late at night,after the main mass had left the park,the police forces attacked a small group sleeping in tents.The tents were burned by the police, the activists were beaten and exposed to pepper gas.

Now, again, the same method is used  to terminate  the action in Gezi Park.This latest attack,exasperated  a very wide range of masses and tens of thousands of people departed to Taksim. When the working hours ended,the number of  the masses accumulated in Taksim reached one hundred thousand. Dense gas and water cannons used in  the police attack.Despite the censorship promoted by the bourgeois media,by the efforts of social media and a few revolutionary and democratic organ the events  has  been transferred to the public. Actions spread to Ankara and Izmir. People not leave the streets until dawn.In İzmir, Ankara and İstanbul the clashes between the police and the activists had become tough.Baricades have been built.During the clashes,some youngsters have died in Ankara, İstanbul and Hatay.Tens of thousands of people have been injured and been arrested. Our Party’s youth branch administrator in Ankara have also been injured and arrested. 

Most of the protesters were composed of youngsters and women.The football team supporters also participated the demonstrations by putting off the challenges between them.The most used slogans of the actions were “Resignate Government” and “Resignate Tayyip”. The masses participated to the demonstrations were often unorganized.

Our party,all revolutionary and democratic parties, greens, environmentalists, chambers of physicians, engineers and architects rooms, public sector workers’ unions, the Alawite, intellectuals and artists, lawyers,nationalist groups all composed the secular sections which agree that the AKP government was slowly building a religious law system.

Our Party, participating the demonstrations with all its cadre and organizations,tried to attract the labour, proletarian and the unions to the action. Fasten on the formation of  the administrative instruments of the actions and to refine the targets.

Summoned for the Kurdish problem ‘s democratic and populist solution,abolition of restrictions on freedom of press,expression and association,the rights of the  Alewite,for return of usurped rights of the working class and laborers, removal of the election  threshold, to determine and  punish those responsible for the massacres as Roboski and Reyhanlı, providing the police from gas-spraying of demonstrators,for the prohibition of dismissal of cities,prohibition of  destruction of green spaces for rent by looting and an end to logging. Called for general strike and resistance.

Summoned to the people to organize and struggle.Today, Public Laborer Union (KESK) and Revolutionary  Labourer Unions Confederation are installing a general strike. The events in Turkey this week, has similar and different aspects from the processes experienced in Tunisia, Egypt or other Arabian countries.The similarities are; wide masses saying” This is enough” and invading the streets and the  resolution for struggle.The differences are the organisational level for the masses and the demands.For the last five years, similar actions took place not only in Arabian countries or in Turkey,also in European countries like Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain,France and England; and in some Latin American countries.Common ground for all is masses rebelling against the repression and the  exploitation of capitalism.

It is clear that the people revolting against the ruling class for their own rights and freedom will be strengthen by the international solidarity and the unity.

Labour Party (EMEP)

Turkey,

4 June 2013

www.emep.org

en.emep.org (English)

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Celebrate International Workers’ Day 2013!

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Today we celebrate May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, a holiday celebrated by working people worldwide.

This day began in commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, where police fired upon workers striking for an eight-hour-day. Since then it has become a global celebration of the labor union movement as well as the economic and social gains made by workers.

Without labor, nothing is built, nothing prospers, nothing grows. Wealth, culture, technology, food, furniture, cars, houses, monuments—the workers have made all these things. All development since the beginning of history has been the result of human labor. The first historical act by a human being was production.

Despite this, this continual talk about the nonexistent “middle class” coming from the television has caused a loss of class identity among the American people. We live in an age where the phrase “working class” is a smear.

Let us create and consolidate organizations of workers to continue the legacy of May Day. The workers in every country, including America, must combat layoffs and rising unemployment while fighting for better working conditions, social and political rights, respect, a living wage and social support for the basic needs of other workers. Through its actions the working class is able to paving the way for the revolutionary transformation of the whole society.

Let us make May Day, 2013 a day to reinforce our revolutionary and independent spirit through unity and struggle. The age of working people having pride and self-confidence has begun!

127 years of May Day!

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MAY DAY IN CHICAGO

It was a sunny and unseasonably warm day in Chicago last Wednesday as upwards of 5,000 people through the downtown streets in celebration of May Day and in order to demand immigrant rights and an end to forcible deportations.

Organized by the Chicago May Day Coalition, an alliance spearheaded by several Latino, immigrant’s rights, and labor organizations; and including a number of religious and social justice groups, the 2013 May Day March and Rally was the latest in a series of May Day events in Chicago which, not only commemorate the sacrifice and the legacy of the Haymarket Martyrs; but, also strongly focus on immigrant workers’ rights and struggles. The largest and most successful of the annual marches was the 2006 march when an estimated one million workers of all nationalities marched across town and gathered in the Loop to demand an end to the deportation of immigrant workers.

This year’s May Day Coalition had issued the following statement (in Spanish and English) before the march:

Primero de Mayo – May Day
Día Internacional de los Trabajadores –
International Workers Day

Los trabajadores inmigrantes en Chicago lucharon en 1886 por la jornada de 8 horas de trabajo.
Los trabajadores inmigrantes derrotamos en 2006 la propuesta del Partido Republicano de volver un crimen federal no tener papeles en Estados Unidos.
¡Este año, los trabajadores inmigrantes tenemos que conseguir la ¡LEGALIZACION DE TODOS los indocumentados y tenemos que PARAR LAS REDADAS!

¡YA ES HORA!

El Primero de Mayo de 2013, Día Internacional de los Trabajadores, ningún trabajador internacional debe trabajar; ¡VAMOS TODOS A MARCHAR!
Vamos a marchar por la legalización, contra el cierre de las escuelas públicas, por el aumento del salario mínimo; vamos a marchar con los sindicatos, con las organizaciones de barrio, con los clubes de oriundos.
La cita es el miércoles Primero de Mayo en el Parque Unión (Ashland y Lake), a las 2 de la tarde, para comenzar a marchar a las 3 de la tarde a la Plaza Federal (Jackson y LaSalle). Mítin en la Plaza Federal a las 4 y media de la tarde.

May Day – International Workers Day

Immigrant workers in Chicago fought in 1886 for the 8 hour workday. We won!
Immigrant workers in 2006 fought against Jim Sensenbrenner’s bill to make a federal crime t olive in the United States without immigration papers. We Won!
This year, immigrant workers have to win LEGALIZATION FOR ALL and we have to STOP DEPORTATIONS!

This Is The Time!

On May Day 2013, International Workers Day, No International Worker will go to Work… WE WILL ALL MARCH FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM!
We will march for legalization for all International workers in the US; we will march against public schools closings; we will march to raise the minimum wage; we will march with the labor unions, with community and neighborhood organizations, with hometown associations.
We will meet on Wednesday, May First, at Union Park (Ashland and Lake), at 2 pm, and we will march at 3 pm to Federal Plaza (Jackson and LaSalle). Rally at Federal Plaza at 4:30 pm.

The march itself was energetic, but generally peaceful – according to official sources only a handful of arrests were made. Although the strongest demand voiced at that the march was for an end to deportations, and for full legalization of undocumented workers, slogans addressing various issues such as the Chicago School closings, police violence, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan and US intervention in the Middle East were also raised. At the conclusion of the march, a mass rally was held at Daley Plaza which featured addresses by immigrant’s rights and labor representatives, and US Senator Dick Durbin (D).

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Anna Louise Strong: “Stalin”

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by Anna Louise Strong

The Soviets Expected It, The Dial Press, New York, 1941, pp. 46-64

YEARS AGO, when I first lunched with President Roosevelt just after he had seen H. G. Wells, I found that of all the subjects in the Soviet Union the one that interested him the most was the personality of Stalin and especially the technique of “Stalin’s rule.” It is a natural interest; I think it interests most Americans. The unbroken rise of Stalin’s prestige for twenty years both within the Soviet Union and beyond its borders is really worth attention by students of politics.

Yet most of the American press brags of its ignorance of Stalin by frequently alluding to the “enigmatic ruler in the Kremlin.” Cartoons and innuendo have been used to create the legend of a crafty, bloodthirsty dictator who even strives to involve the world in war and chaos so that something called “Bolshevism” may gain. This preposterous legend will shortly die. It was based on the fact that most American editors couldn’t really afford to understand the Soviet Union, and that Stalin himself was usually inaccessible to foreign journalists. Men who had hit the high spots around the world and chatted cozily with Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Franklin D. Roosevelt and even Chiang Kai-shek were irritated when Josef Stalin wouldn’t give them time. The fact of the matter was that Stalin was busy with a job to which foreign contacts and publicity did not contribute. His job, like that of a Democratic National Chairman, was organizing the ruling party and through it the country.

Since the German-Soviet war began, Stalin has become chief of the army and government. He will see more foreigners now. He made a good beginning with Harry Hopkins and W. Averell Harriman. They seem to have been impressed! I know how they were impressed for I also met Stalin. In the light of the impressions that leading Americans and Britons are now going to have of him, the legend of the inscrutable dictator will die. We may even come to hear Stalin spoken of, as a Soviet writer once described him, as “the world’s great democrat”!

When I met Stalin, I did not find him enigmatic. I found him the easiest person to talk to I ever met. He is far and away the best committee chairman of my experience. He can bring everybody’s views out and combine them in the minimum of time. His method of running committees reminded me somewhat of Jane Addams of Hull House or Lillian D. Wald of Henry Street Settlement. They had the same kind of democratically efficient technique, but they used more high pressure than Stalin did.

If Stalin has been inaccessible to foreigners—there were exceptions even to this—that does not mean that he lived in isolation, in a sort of Kremlin ivory tower. There were close to 200,000,000 people keeping him busy. He was seeing a lot of them. Not always necessarily the party leaders. A milkmaid who had broken the milking record, a scientist who had broken the atom, an aviator who flew to America, a coal miner who invented a new labor process, a workman with a housing difficulty, an engineer balked by new conditions—any person representing either a signal achievement or a typical problem might be invited by Stalin to talk it over. That was the way he got his data and kept in touch with the movement of the country.

That, I realized afterwards, was why Stalin saw me. For nearly ten years I had liked his country and tried to succeed there, for nearly two I had organized and tried to edit a little weekly newspaper for other Americans who had come to work for the Five Year Plan. And what with censorship, red tape, and what seemed the wanton emergence of another competing weekly, I wanted to give up. My editor-in-chief was practically blackmailing me that, if I resigned, he would ruin my reputation. Exhausted and angry, I was feeling trapped. A Russian friend suggested that I complain to Stalin. I did. Three days later his office called me up and suggested that I come down and talk it over with “some responsible comrades.” It was done so casually that I almost refused, for the editor-in-chief had finally agreed to my resignation and I was “through with it all.” But I felt that after sending that letter it was only polite to go.

I expected to see some fairly high official at the party headquarters, and was rather stunned when the auto drove straight to the Kremlin and especially when I entered a large conference room and saw not only Stalin rising to greet me, but Kaganovich and Voroshilov too! It seemed overwhelmingly disproportionate. Later I realized that it was not my little problem that chiefly concerned them. I was one of several thousand Americans who had begun to worry them. We had come to the Soviet Union to work in its industries. We were reasonably honest and efficient, but we couldn’t make good. Stalin wanted to know what was the matter with us in our adjustment to Soviet industry. By investigating my troubles he would learn what made us Americans click, or more often not click, in the Soviet land. But if he learned about Americans from me, I learned from him something equally important—how the Soviet Union is put together and how Stalin works.

My first impression of him was vaguely disappointing. A stocky figure in a simple suit of khaki color, direct, unassuming, whose first concern was to know whether I understood Russian sufficiently to take part in discussion. Not very imposing for so great a man, I thought. Then we sat down rather casually, and Stalin was not even at the head of the table; Voroshilov was. Stalin took a place where he could see all our faces and started the talk by a pointed question to the man against whom I had complained. After that Stalin seemed to become a sort of background, against which other people’s comments went on. The brilliant wit of Kaganovich, the cheerful chuckle of Voroshilov, the characteristics of the lesser people called to consult, all suddenly stood out. I began to understand them all and like them; I even began to understand the editor against whom I had complained. Suddenly I myself was talking and getting my facts out faster and more clearly than I ever did in my life. People seemed to agree with me. Everything got to the point very fast and smoothly, with Stalin saying less than anyone.

Afterward in thinking it over I realized how Stalin’s genius for listening helped each of us express ourselves and understand the others. I recalled his trick of repeating a word of mine either with questioning intonation or a slight emphasis, which suddenly made me feel I had either not quite seen the point or perhaps had overstated it, and so drove me to make it plainer. I recalled how he had done this to others also. Then I understood that his listening has been a dynamic force.

This listening habit dates back to the early days of his revolutionary career. “I remember him very well from the early days of our Party,” said a veteran Bolshevik to me. “A quiet youth who sat at the edge of the committee, saying almost nothing, but listening very much. Toward the end he would make a few comments, sometimes merely as questions. Gradually we came to see that he always summed up best our joint thinking.” The description will be recognized by anyone who ever met Stalin. In any group he is usually last to express his opinion. He does not want to block the full expression of others, as he might easily do by speaking first. Besides this, he is always learning by listening.

“He listens even to the way the grass grows,” said a Soviet citizen to me.

On the data thus gathered, Stalin forms conclusions, not “alone in the night,” which Emil Ludwig said was Mussolini’s way, but in conference and discussion. Even in interviews, he seldom receives the interviewer alone; Molotov, Voroshilov, or Kaganovich are likely to be about. Probably he does not even grant an interview without discussing it first with his closest comrades. This is a habit he formed very early. In the days of the underground revolutionary movement, he grew accustomed to close teamwork with comrades who held each other’s lives in their hands. In order to survive, they must learn to agree quickly and unanimously, to feel each other’s instincts, to guess even at a distance each other’s brains. It was in such a group that he gained his Party name—it is not the one that he was born with—“the Steel One, Stalin.”

If I should explain Stalin to politicians, I should call him a superlatively good committeeman. Is this too prosaic a term for the leader of 200,000,000 people? I might call him instead a farseeing statesman; this also is true. Put more important than Stalin’s genius is the fact that it is expressed through good committee work. His talent for co-operative action is more significant for the world than the fact that he is great.

Soviet people have a way of putting it which sounds rather odd to Americans. “Stalin does not think individually,” they say. It is the exact opposite of the “rugged individualist” ideal. But they mean it as the very highest compliment. They mean that Stalin thinks not only with his own brain but in consultation with the brains of the Academy of Science, the chiefs of industry, the Congress of Trade Unions, the Party leaders. Scientists use this way of thinking; so do good trade unionists. They do not “think individually”; they do not rely on the conclusions of a single brain. It is a highly useful characteristic, for no single human brain today is big enough to decide the world’s complex problems. Only the combination of many brains thinking together, not in conflict but in co-operation, can safely handle the problems of today.

Stalin himself has said this a score of times to various interviewers. When Emil Ludwig and, later, Roy Howard sought to learn “how the great dictator made up his mind,” Stalin told them: “Single persons cannot decide. Experience has shown us that individual decisions, uncorrected by others, contain a large percentage of error.”

Soviet people never speak of “Stalin’s will” or “Stalin’s orders”; they speak of “government orders” and “the Party line,” which are decisions produced collectively. But they speak very much of “Stalin’s method” as a method that everyone should learn. It is the method of getting swift decisions out of the brains of many people, the method of good committee work. It is studied carefully in the Soviet Union by bright young men who go in for politics.

For me, the method was emphasized again in the days that immediately followed that first conference. It had seemed to me that Stalin, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, and everybody else had agreed on a certain action. Then the days went by and frothing happened, till the conference seemed almost a dream. I confided my worry to a Russian acquaintance. He laughed.

“That is our ‘terrible democracy,’” he told me. “Of course, your affair is really settled, but technically it must be approved by all the members of the Political Bureau, some of whom are in the Caucasus and some in Leningrad. It will go as routine with a lot of other decisions and none of them will bother about your question because they know nothing about it. But this is our usual safeguard for anyone of the members may wish to add or change something in some decision. That decision will then go back to committee till all are satisfied.”

Stalin brings certain important qualities to these joint decisions. People who meet him are first of all impressed by his directness and simplicity, his swift approach. Next they notice his clearness and objectivity in handling questions. He completely lacks Hitler’s emotional hysteria and Mussolini’s cocky self-assertion; he does not thrust himself into the picture. Gradually one becomes aware of his keen analysis, his colossal knowledge, his grip of world politics, his willingness to face facts, and especially his long view, which fits the problem into history, judging not only its immediate factors, but its past and future too.

Stalin’s rise to power came rather slowly. The rise of his type is slow and sure. It began far back with his study of human history and especially the history of revolutions. President Roosevelt commented to me with surprise on Stalin’s knowledge of the Cromwellian Revolution in Britain as shown in his talk with H. G. Wells. But Stalin quite naturally studied both the British and the American historical revolutions far more intimately than British and American politicians do. Tsarist Russia was due for a revolution. Stalin intended to be in it and help give it form. He made himself a thorough scientist on the process of history from the Marxian viewpoint: how the masses of people live, how their industrial technique and social forms develop, how social classes arise and struggle, how they succeed. Stalin analyzed and compared all past revolutions. He wrote many books about them. But he is not only a scientist; he also acts.

In the early days of the Revolution, Stalin’s name was hardly known outside the Party. In 1923, during Lenin’s last illness, I was told by men whose judgment I trusted that Stalin was “our coming man.” They based this on his keen knowledge of political forces and his close attention to political organization as secretary of the Communist Party. They also based it on his accurate timing of swift action and said that thus far in the Revolution he hid not once guessed wrong. They said that he was the man to whom “responsible Party men” turned for the clearest statement of what they all thought., In those days Trotsky sneered at Stalin as the “most average man” in the Party. In a sense it was true. Stalin keeps close to the “average man”; the “average man” is the material of politics. But Stalin does it with a genius that is very far from average.

“The art of leadership,” said Stalin once, “is a serious matter. One must not lag behind the movement, because to do so is to become isolated from the masses. But one must not rush ahead, for this is to lose contact with the masses.” He was telling his comrades how to become leaders; he was also expressing his own ideal, which he has very effectively practiced.

Twenty years ago in the Russian civil war, Stalin’s instinct for the feeling of the common people more than once helped the Soviet armies to victory. The best known of these moments was the dispute between Stalin and Trotsky about an advance through the North Caucasus. Trotsky wanted to take the shortest military route. Stalin pointed out that this shortcut lay across the unfriendly lands of the Cossacks and would in the end prove longer and bloodier. He chose a somewhat roundabout way through working-class cities and friendly farming regions, where the common people rose to help the Red Armies instead of opposing them. The contrast was typical; it has been illustrated since then by twenty years of history. Stalin is completely at home in the handling of social forces, as is shown by his call today for a “people’s war” in the rear of the German Armies. He knows how to arouse the terrible force of an angry people, how to organize it and release it to gain the people’s desires.

The outside world began to hear of Stalin in the discussions that preceded the first Five Year Plan. (I wrote an article some five years earlier, predicting his rise as Lenin’s successor, but the article went unnoticed; it was several years too soon.) Russian workers outside the Communist Party began to think of Stalin as their leader during the first spectacular expansion of Soviet industry. He first became a leader among the peasants in March, 1930, through his famous article,“Dizziness from Success,” in which he checked the abuses that were taking place in farm collectivization. I have described its effect on the rural districts in the preceding chapter. I remember Walter Duranty waving that article at me and saying, “At last there is a leader in this land!”

Stalin’s great moment when he first appeared as leader of the whole Soviet people was when, as Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, he presented the new Constitution of the Socialist State. A commission of thirty-one of the country’s ablest historians, economists, and political scientists had been instructed to create “the world’s most democratic constitution” with the most accurate machinery yet devised for obtaining “the will of the people.” They spent a year and a half in detailed study of every past constitution in the world, not only of governments but of trade unions and voluntary societies. The draft that they prepared was then discussed by the Soviet people for several months in more than half a million meetings attended by 36,500,000 people. The number of suggested amendments that reached the Constitutional Commission from the popular discussions was 154,000. Stalin himself is known to have read tens of thousands of the people’s letters.

Two thousand people sat in the great white hall of the Kremlin Palace when Stalin made his report to the Congress of Soviets. Below me, where I sat in the journalists’ box, was the main floor filled with the Congress deputies; around me in the loges sat the foreign diplomatic corps; behind me, in a deep gallery, were citizen-visitors. Outside the hall tens of millions of people listened over the radio, from the southern cotton fields of Central Asia to the scientific stations on the Arctic coast. It was a high point of Soviet history. But Stalin’s words were direct and simple and as informal as if he sat at a fireside talking with a few friends. He explained the significance of the Constitution, took up the suggested amendments, referred a large number of them to various lawmaking bodies and himself discussed the most important. He made it plain that everyone of those 154,000 suggestions had been classified somewhere and would influence something.

Among the dozen or more amendments which Stalin personally discussed, he approved of those that facilitated democratic expression and disapproved of those that limited democracy. Some people felt, for instance, that the different constituent republics should not be granted the right to secede from the Soviet Union; Stalin said that, while they probably would not want to secede, their right to do so should be constitutionally guaranteed as an assertion of democracy. A fairly large number of people wanted to refuse political rights to the priests lest they influence politics unduly. “The time has come to introduce universal suffrage without limitations,” said Stalin, arguing that the Soviet people were now mature enough to know their own minds.

More important for us today than constitutional forms, or even the question of how they work, was one very significant note in Stalin’s speech. He ended by a direct challenge to the growing Nazi threat in Europe. Speaking on November 25, 1936, before Hitlerism was seriously opposed by any European government, Stalin called the new Soviet Constitution “an indictment against Fascism, an indictment which says that Socialism and Democracy are invincible.”

In the years since the Constitutional Congress, Stalin’s own personality began to be more widely known. His picture and slogans became so prominent in the Soviet Union that foreigners found this “idolatry” forced and insincere. Most Soviet folk of my acquaintance really do feel tremendous devotion to Stalin as the man who has built their country and led it to success. I have even known people to make a temporary change of residence just before election day in order to have the chance to vote for Stalin directly in the district where he was running, instead of for the less exciting candidate from their own district.

No information about Stalin’s home life is ever printed in Soviet newspapers. By Russian tradition, everybody, even a political leader, is entitled to the privacy of his personal life. A very delicate line divides private life from public work. When Stalin’s wife died, the black-bordered death notices in the paper mentioned her by her own name, which was not Stalin’s, listed her work and connection with various public organizations, and the fact that she was “the friend and comrade of Stalin.” They did not mention that she was his wife. The fact that she worked with him and might influence his decisions as a comrade was a public matter; the fact that she was married to him was their own affair. Some time later, he was known to have married again, but the press never mentioned it.

Glimpses of Stalin’s personal relations come chiefly through his contacts with picturesque figures who have helped make Soviet history. Valery Chkalov, the brilliant aviator who made the first flight across the North Pole from Moscow to America, told of an afternoon that he spent at Stalin’s summer home from four o’clock till after midnight. Stalin sang many Volga songs, put on gramophone records for the younger people to dance, and generally behaved like a normal human being relaxing in the heart of his family. He said he had learned the songs in his Siberian exile when there wasn’t much to do but sing.

The three women aviators who broke all world records for women by their spectacular flight from Moscow to the Far East were later entertained at an evening party at the Kremlin in their honor. One of them, Raskova, related afterwards how Stalin had joked with them about the prehistoric days of the matriarchate when women ruled human society. He said that in the early days of human development women had created agriculture as a basis for society and progress, while men “only hunted and went to war.” After a reference to the long subsequent centuries of woman’s slavery, Stalin added, “Now these three women come to avenge the heavy centuries of woman’s suppression.”

The best tale, I think, is that about Marie Demchenko, because it shows Stalin’s idea of leaders and of how they are produced. Marie was a peasant woman who came to a farm congress in Moscow and made a personal pledge to Stalin, then sitting on the platform, that her brigade of women would produce twenty tons of beets per acre that year. It was a spectacular promise, since the average yield in the Ukraine was about five tons. Marie’s challenge started a competition among the Ukrainian sugar beet growers; it was featured by the Soviet press. The whole country followed with considerable excitement Marie’s fight against a pest of moths. The nation watched the local fire department bring twenty thousand pails of water to the field to beat the drought. They saw that gang of women weed the fields nine times and clear them eight times of insects. Marie finally got twenty-one tons per acre, while the best of her competitors got twenty-three.

That harvest was a national event. So Marie’s whole gang went to Moscow to visit Stalin at the autumn celebration. The newspapers treated them like movie stars and featured their conversation. Stalin asked Marie what she most wanted as a reward for her own good record and for stirring up all the other sugar beet growers. Marie replied that she had wanted most of all to come to Moscow and see “the leaders.”

“But now you yourselves are leaders,” said Stalin to Marie.

“Well, yes,” said Marie, “but we wanted to see you anyway.” Her final request, which was granted, was to study in an agricultural university.

When the German war was launched against the Soviet Union, many foreigners were surprised that Stalin did not make a speech to arouse the people at once. Some of our more sensational papers assumed that Stalin had fled! Soviet people knew that Stalin trusted them to do their jobs and that he would sum the situation up for them as soon as it crystallized. He did it at dawn on July 3 in a radio talk. The words with which he began were very significant.

“Comrades! Citizens!” he said, as he has said often. Then he added, “Brothers and Sisters!” It was the first time Stalin ever used in public those close family words. To everyone who heard them, those words meant that the situation was very serious, that they must now face the ultimate test together and that they must all be closer and dearer to each other than they had ever been before. It meant that Stalin wanted to put a supporting arm across their shoulders, giving them strength for the task they had to do. This task was nothing less than to accept in their own bodies the shock of the most hellish assault of history, to withstand it, to break it, and by breaking it save the world. They knew they had to do it, and Stalin knew they would.

Stalin made perfectly plain that the danger was grave, that the German armies had taken most of the Baltic states, that the struggle would be very costly, and that the issues were between “freedom or slavery, life or death to the Soviet State.” He told them: “The enemy is cruel and implacable. He is out to seize our lands, watered with our sweat . . . to convert our peoples into the slaves of German princes and barons.” He called upon the “daring initiative and intelligence that are inherent in our people,” which he himself for more than twenty years had helped to create. He outlined in some detail the bitter path they should follow, each in his own region, and said that they would find allies among the freedom-loving peoples of the world. Then he summoned them “forward—to victory.”

Erskine Caldwell, reporting that dawn from Moscow, said that tremendous crowds stood in the city squares listening to the loud speakers, “holding their breath in such profound silence that one could hear every inflection of Stalin’s voice.” Twice during the speech, even the sound of water being poured into a glass could be heard as Stalin stopped to drink. For several minutes after Stalin had finished the silence continued. Then a motherly-looking woman said, “He works so hard, I wonder when he finds time to sleep. I am worried about his health.”

That was the way that Stalin took the Soviet people into the test of war.

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Book Review: Bruce Cumings’ North Korea: Another Country

nkorea18-690x360

BY SOPHIA SOLIVIO

Bruce Cumings is the Chairperson of the History Department and Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in History and the College at the University of Chicago. In 1975, he received his PhD from Columbia University. Cumings’ professional and academic credentials make his compilation of complaints primarily in regard to the United States’ foreign and domestic policies and his fundamental admiration for North Korea in North Korea: Another Country (2004) especially grating to read because presumably he has the professional experience and academic training to produce a more informative, engaging book about North Korea for the general reader.

Cumings has written well-received scholarly books on Korean history, especially the Korean War. With North Korea: Another Country, however, he does not intend to write for other academics. Instead, he focuses on a readership with little or no familiarity with the history of North Korea or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Korean peninsula, and United States–Korea relations. By the end of Cumings’ 256-page book, that readership may have learned more about the aforementioned topics, but only tangentially and selectively. Unfortunately, Cumings has written a book sidetracked by his supercilious attitude.

In North Korea: Another Country, Cumings seeks to educate “the reader who wishes to learn about our eternal enemy” and wonders “if Americans can ever transcend their own experience and join a world of profound difference.” To help curious readers, even Americans, willingly enter his “world of profound difference,” the author divides the book into six chapters beginning with the brutality, particularly of the United States, during the Korean War and its continuous influence on North Korea; the history of North Korea’s nuclear program and the apparent intransigence of North Korea–United States negotiations over the former’s denuclearization; Kim Il Sung’s life, his fight for an independent Korea, and the appeal of anti-imperialism to North Koreans and Koreans overall; the history of daily life in the northern half of the Korean peninsula and the DPRK; Kim Jong Il’s life and dynamism as a leader; and the crises in North Korea, including floods, droughts, famine, and the collapse of its energy system, following the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994.

Throughout the six chapters, Cumings basically covers the modern history of north Korea and its relations with the United States to show that, contrary to Western narratives about the DPRK, the country is dynamic rather than static and more rational than not. Cumings’ objective, to increase public awareness of North Korea as a somewhat knowable country and to combat perceptions of North Korea as a hopelessly backward, mysterious country, is very worthwhile and admirable. His execution of that objective maybe well-intentioned, but it is also meandering and overbearing. Often, Cumings seems more interested in using North Korea as a lens through which to contemptuously mention and criticize the United States and whatever or whoever else annoys him; this habit frequently detracts from his attempts to educate others as completely as possible, about North Korea.

For example, early on Cumings notes a 1999 CIA study that according to him, “almost grudgingly acknowledged various achievements of this regime: compassionate care for children in general and war orphans in particular; ‘radical change’ in the position of women; genuinely free housing; free health care, and preventive medicine; and infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable to the most advanced countries until the recent famine.” Rather than clarify whether the CIA study “grudgingly acknowledged various achievements” of the North Korean government in a vacuum, in comparison to other Communist states, or even South Korea, Cumings appears to reference the study mainly to underscore the hypocrisy of the United States, where the government and the press relentlessly pigeonholes North Korea as “our” evil Oriental enemy as, at one point, the CIA documents positive socioeconomic developments in North Korea.

Cumings does not bother to examine, point by point, the trajectory of North Korea’s early achievements in social welfare and gender equality. North Korea’s “compassionate care for children in general and war orphans in particular” led to the creation of Mangyondae Revolutionary School, initially chiefly for the education of the next generation’s political elite, the children whose parents died in the Korean War. In addition, in contrast to South Korea’s post-Korean War policy of “exporting” orphans, resulting in approximately 150,000 adopted ethnic Koreans in more than 20 Western countries, Kim Il Sung encouraged domestic adoption of the country’s war orphans although from 1951–52 at least, an estimated 2,500 North Korean war orphans were adopted in several Eastern European Communist countries, such as Poland, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia, as well as Hungary and Mongolia. However, the recent famine also contributed to the creation of 200,000 orphans, many becoming ‘kotchebis’ or “ wandering swallows,” street urchins living off black markets in North Korea and/or relying on crossing into the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in order to scavenge for food.

Also, while North Korea for instance, on July 30, 1946 announced the enactment of the “Status on Gender Equality” with Clause I stating, “In all areas of the country’s economic, cultural and social political life, women have the same rights as men,” in terms of political power, as of 2001, women represented about 20% of the Supreme People’s Assembly, all in symbolic posts. In 1990, there were only 14 women members of 328 members in the policy-making Central Committee and the Alternative Members of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party. In addition, in the mid-1980s, North Korean defectors claimed about 60–70% of women quit their jobs after marriage.

Yet at the same time, North Korean women may have earned or earn more than 70% of the male income level. Notably, in 2010, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported South Korean women earned 38% less than the male income level and South Korea had the largest income gender gap in the developed world. Similarly, a Beijing Broadcast Agency report on March 6, 1988 announced a gradual increase in the number of highly educated women professionals in North Korea from the 1970s-80s. In 1963, 43,000 of about 294,000 specialists in North Korea were women. In the 1970s, there were 1,310,000 specialists in North Korea and 463,000 were women with about 220 having doctorate or semi-doctorate degrees. Most recently, in 1989, approximately 37% of the 1,350,000 specialists in North Korea are women. Women in North Korea then, are not brainwashed and incapable zombies for non-North Koreans, particularly Americans, to pity or scorn.

Cumings wants to humanize not only North Korean women, but North Koreans in general. Presumably, as a Westerner fortunate enough to have already entered the previously mentioned “world of profound difference,” he thinks and behaves just as, if not more, empathetically and respectfully toward North Koreans as anyone else. His characterization of his experience at the North Korean Museum of the Revolution, however, perfectly encapsulates the contrast between Cumings’ non-stop moralizing and his condescending tone throughout North Korea: Another Country. Commenting on one exhibit of gifts given to Kim Il Sung by foreign dignitaries, Cumings writes,

“My guide, a young woman whose English was less than fluent, paused in front of a glass-encased chimpanzee, and began to instruct me in a sing-song voice that ‘the Gleat Reader’ had received this taxidermic specimen from one Canaan Banana, vice president of Zimbabwe. I dissolved into hysterics and could not stop laughing as she continued to intone her mantra without dropping a single (mangled) syllable.”

Cumings is considered a “progressive” academic. His ostensible liberalism and unique ability to “transcend” his own experience does not make him a less dogmatic, petty person as demonstrated by his paragraph-long mockery of a North Korean woman’s English accent—obviously not up to his standards. Finally, Cumings presents himself as a person and a historian of Korean history (unable or unwilling to speak Korean fluently) who considers Korea and the United States equals culturally and socially, and in an ideal world, politically as well. Following the “cultural exchange” Cumings describes at the Museum of the Revolution, though, who had the privilege of publicly ridiculing and contributing to negative public perceptions of the “Other?” The young, female North Korean tour guide? Or Cumings, an older white guy with a comfortable job at a prestigious American university? …

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Excommunicated Westboro Baptist Church member suggests Fred Phelps might be gay

Lauren Drain was thrown out of the Westboro Baptist Church five years ago (Image: NOH8)

Lauren Drain was thrown out of the Westboro Baptist Church five years ago (Image: NOH8)

by 

A former member of the adamantly homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, also know as the ‘God Hates Fags’ church, has spoken out about the church’s controversial leader, and said that she thought he could be gay.

Lauren Drain, 27, became a member of the Westboro Baptist Church at age 15 when her father relocated her family to Kansas in order to join the church and live in its compound.

At first she accepted the extremely anti-gay teachings of the church and its leader, Fred Phelps. The church is known for its belief that the majority of people will go to hell, and for its pickets at the funerals of soldiers and victims of disasters in which members carry signs reading “God Hates Fags” and other inflammatory statements.

Although she originally attended pickets and supported the Westboro Baptist Church, Ms Drain began to question their teachings and was subsequently cast out at the age of 22.

Speaking in an interview with the Advocate, Drain speculated that Fred Phelps had at one point wanted to join the military, but suddenly changed his mind.

She said: “All I know is that he said he went to West Point, then all of a sudden he had a religious experience, and now he wanted to preach against sexual immorality, preach against the military, and ever since then things have kind of progressed.”

Drain went on to say that she thought his reaction to being asked by the media if he was gay himself was suspicious, in that it was particularly extreme.

“I never understood why, when [he was asked by the press], ‘Why are you so against the homosexuals? Did you have a homosexual experience? Do you have homosexual tendencies?’ And he would get so mad, he would shut down. And he’d be like, ‘I can’t talk to this person anymore, they’re stupid.’

“His reaction to that was stronger than any other question you can ask him. So I always wondered that — why does he get so mad? If I’m not gay, I’ll just say I’m not gay.”

She went on to say that speculating on the matter was all she could do, as she didn’t know the true reason for his reaction to those questions.

She said: “But something happened, and something made him change his mind about the military, and in turn have kind of a crusade against sexual immorality and homosexuals.”

In February, two granddaughters of Phelps quit the organisation, and expressed regret at “inflicting pain on others” whilst still members. 

Back in 2010, the son of Fred Phelps has broke his silence and begun to publicly speak about his relationship with his estranged father, after also quitting the church.

The church infamously attempts to picket the funerals of those deemed “fag-enablers”, including military funerals for US service members.

In a strange turn of events in December, the Ku Klux Klan stepped in to counter a protest by the Westboro Baptist Church, at a military funeral.  

The church had also announced that it intended to picket the funerals of the children killed at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut to worldwide outrage.

Also in December, the hackers collective, Anonymous, continued its battle with the church, and claimed to have changed the desktop background on its spokeswoman’s computer to gay porn, and filed a death certificate on her behalf, stopping her from using her social security number. 

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On the deaths in Stalin’s USSR

joseph-stalin-1949

In the West, when Stalin’s name is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the “millions of deaths” under his “ruthless regime”. For decades, fascist and capitalist propagandists alike perpetuated this vision of Stalin as a monster, employing the best World War 2 and Cold War propagandists to slander Stalin’s role as a statesman. What is the truth behind this claims? I hope to shed some light on the matter.

As has been now resolved, the varying numbers of deaths under the Stalin administration are a product of propaganda, and have hence been wildly exaggerated. The evidence found in Russian archives, opened up by the capitalist roader Yeltsin, put the total number of death sentences from 1923 to 1953, the post-Lenin Soviet Union, between 775,866 and 786,098a. To this we must add up the 40,000 who may have been executed without trial and unofficiallyb. If we add up the numbers, what we get achieve is 800,000 executions in a period of 36 years, less than the lives claimed by the dictatorship of the CIA-backed anti-communist Suharto in Indonesia in a time span of 2 years. This is not to say the deaths are to be condoned, but it raises an important question: if less lives have been claimed by the Soviet Union under Stalin than Suharto’s Indonesia, why is Stalin demonized to that extent when Suharto is rarely even known among pro-capitalists?

We shall answer this question in a future post about cultural hegemony, let’s now continue with our examination of Soviet deaths. Because the figure of 800,000 executions includes those persons sentenced to death but had, for instance, their sentences reduceda, this too may be an overestimation. In fact, in a research by Vinton, evidence has been provided indicating that the number of executions was significantly below the number of civilian prisoners sentenced to death in the USSR, with only 7,305 executions in a sample of 11,000 prisoners authorized to be executed in 1940 (or around 60%)c. In addition, 681,692 of the 780,000 or so death sentences were issued during the Great Purge (1937-1938 period)a.

Initially, the NKVD, under Yezhov’s orders, set a cap of 186,500 imprisonments and 72,950 death penalties for a 1937 special operation to combat the threat of foreign and internal subversion. The operation was decided upon after the discovery of Bonapartist plots against the government, led by Tukhacevsky, whose links with opportunist factions within the Party caused total panic. The NKVD’s orders had to be carried out by troikas, 3-men tribunalsa. As the troikas passed sentences before the accused had even been arrested, local authorities requested increases in their own quotas, and there was an official request in 1938 for a doubling of the amount of prisoner transport that had been initially requisitioned to carry out the original campaign quotas of the tribunalsd.

However, even if there had been twice as many actual executions as originally planned, which I would doubt, the number would still be less than 150,000. Many, in fact, may have had their death sentence refused or revoked by authorities before arrest or execution could take place, especially since Stalin, Molotov and Beria later realized that excesses had been committed in the 1937-38 period (the Great Purge), had a number of convictions overturned, and had many of the responsible local leaders punishede. Soviet records indicate only about 300,000 actual arrests for anti-Soviet activities or political crimes during this 1937-1938 interval. With a ratio of 1 execution for every 3 arrests as originally specified by the NKVD, that would imply about 100,000 executions. Since some of the people sentenced to death may have already been in confinement, and since there is some evidence of a 50,000 increase in the total number of deaths in labor camps over the 1937-38 interval that was probably caused by such executions, the total number executed by the troika campaign would probably be around 150,000a. There were also 30,514 death sentences passed by military courts and 4,387 by regular courts during the 1937-38 period, but, even if all these death sentences were carried out, the total number remains under 200,000. Such a low number seems especially likely given the fact that aggregate death rates from all causes throughout the Soviet Union were actually lower in 1937-38 than in prior yearsf, possibly a result of universal health care, vaccination and an improvement in living standards.

Assuming the remaining 100,000 or so death sentences passed in the other years of Stalin’s administration (1923-1936 and 1939-53) resulted in a 60% execution rate, as per the Vinton sample, the total number executed by the Soviet Union during the period would be about 250,000. Even with the thousands executed between 1917 and 1921, it is plausible that the number of unarmed civilians killed between 1917-1953 amounted to considerably less than a quarter million given that thousands of these victims may have been Soviet soldiers, given that many may have been armed bandits and guerrillas, and given that at least 14,000 of the actual executions were of foreign prisoners of warc.

A USA former attache to the Soviet Union, George Kennan, has stated that the number executed was really only in the tens of thousandsg, and so it is very likely that the true number of people killed by the Soviet Union over its entire history (including the thousands killed in Afghanistan) is too small for the country to make it even in the top ten in mass murders (unlike the United States of America, but that’s for another day). There were no doubt many innocent victims during the 1937-38 Stalin purge, but it should also be mentioned that there is substantial evidence from the Soviet archives of Soviet citizens advocating treasonable offenses such as the violent overthrow of the Soviet government or foreign invasion of the Soviet Unioni. In addition, the Soviet Union felt itself so threatened by subversion and imminent military invasions by Japan and Germany (which occurred in full force in 1938 and 1941, respectively) that it perceived a need to undertake a nationwide campaign to eliminate potential internal enemies. Moreover, these external threats were further fueled by the fact that the Russian nobility and czarists (over a million of whom had emigrated after the communist revolution in 1917) had given financial aid to the German Nazis in the 1930s for the purpose of using them (once they had successfully taken power in Germany) to help them overthrow the Soviet governmentj. Forged documents and misinformation spread by Nazi Germany to incriminate innocent and patriotic Soviets also contributed to Soviet paranoiak. It must also be remembered that Soviet fear of foreign-sponsored subversion in the 1930s existed within the context of guerrilla warfare fought against the Soviet Union by some of the same groups of people who had fought with the foreign invaders against the Soviet Union in the 1918-22 Foreign Interventionist Civil War. While the 1937-38 purges were very repressive and tragic by almost any measure, they may have helped prevent the fascists from inciting a successful rebellion or coup in the Soviet Union. Such a threat was a very real one given that the German Nazis did succeed in using political intrigues, threats, economic pressure, and offers of territorial gains to bring other Eastern European countries into their orbit, including Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, as well as Yugoslavia for a short period of timeh, given that the Soviet Union had been subjected to a brutal 1918-22 civil war which was launched by rebels who were supported by over a million foreign invading troops from over a dozen capitalist countries, given that there was a large amount of sabotage committed by Soviet citizens in the 1930s, and given that there were a significant number of Soviet dissidents who were in favor of overthrowing the Soviet government even if it required an invasion by Germany or some other foreign poweri. In addition, many people may have worked independently to sabotage the Soviet Union in the hope that they would thereby contribute to a foreign overthrow of the Soviet Union, especially since Nazi Germany did make extensive efforts to incite uprisings, cause subversive actions, and create ethnic conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Despite the Soviet Union’s success in defeating the subsequent invasions by fascist Japan (in 1938) and Germany (1941-44), the danger posed by the Nazi spies and saboteurs in Eastern Europe is illustrated by the fact that the CIA considered them so effective that it adopted virtually the entire Nazi network into its own system of terrorism in Eastern Europe after World War IIl.

Evidence from the Soviet archives indicates that the officials responsible for the political repression of the 1930s sincerely felt the victims were guilty of some crime such as sabotage, spying, or treason, and many of the executions of the Great Purge were reported in the local Soviet press at the time. Even when there was proven to be no direct connection between the accused and the fascist foreign powers, there was often a strong belief that the suspects were foreign sympathizers who were working on their own (without formal direction) to contribute to the overthrow of the Soviet Union. It should also be noted that much of the 1937-38 repression, often called the Great Purge, was actually directed against the widespread banditry and criminal activity (such as theft, smuggling, misuse of public office for personal gain, and swindles) that was occurring in the Soviet Union at the timem. In addition to the executions, there were also many imprisoned, and hundreds of thousands of people were expelled from the Communist Party during the Great Purge for being incompetent, corrupt, and/or excessively bureaucratic, with such targeting of inept or dishonest Soviet bureaucrats being fairly popular among the average Soviet citizensi. Like the myths of millions of executions, the fairy tales that Stalin had tens of millions of people arrested and permanently thrown into prison or labor camps to die in the 1930-53 interval are untrue. In particular, the Soviet archives indicate that the number of people in Soviet prisons, gulags, and labor camps in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s averaged about 2 million, of whom 20-40% were released each yeara. This average, which includes desperate World War II years, is similar to the number imprisoned in the USA in the 1990s and is only slightly higher as a percentage of the population. It should also be noted that the annual death rate for the Soviet interned population was about 4%, which incorporates the effect of prisoner executionsa. Excluding the desperate World War II years, the death rate in the Soviet prisons, gulags, and labor camps was only 2.5%a, which is below that of the average citizen in Russia under the tsar in peacetime in 1913f. This finding is not very surprising, given that about 1/3 of the confined people were not even required to workn, and given that the maximum work week was 84 hours in even the harshest Soviet labor camps during the most desperate wartime yearso. The latter maximum (and unusual) work week actually compares favorably to the 100-hour work weeks that existed even for “free” 6-year old children during peacetime in the Gilded era and industrial revolutionp(shoutout to libertarians), although it may seem high compared to the 7-hour day worked by the typical Soviet citizen under Stalini.

In addition, it should also be mentioned that most of the arrests under Stalin were motivated by an attempt to stamp out crimes such as banditry, theft, misuse of public office for personal gain, smuggling, and swindles, with less than 10% of the arrests during Stalin’s rule being for political reasons or secret police mattersa. The Soviet archives reveal a great deal more political dissent permitted in Stalin’s Soviet Union (including a widespread amount of criticism of individual government policies and local leaders) than is normally perceived in the Westi. Given that the regular police, the political or secret police, prison guards, some national guard troops, and fire fighters (who were in the same ministry as the police) comprised scarcely 0.2% of the Soviet population under Staline, severe repression would have been impossible even if the Soviet Union had wanted to exercise it. In comparison, the USA today has many times more police as a percentage of the population (about 1%), not to mention prison guards, national guard troops, and fire fighters included in the numbers used to compute the far smaller 0.2% ratio for the Soviet Union. In any event, it is possible that the communist countries of Eastern Europe would have become politically less repressive and more democratic (especially over time), if there hadn’t been overt and covert efforts by capitalist powers to overthrow their governments, including subversion conducted in the USSR as late as the 1980s that the USA government admitted to in the 1990s. These efforts at violent subversion were initially carried out mostly by the British (before World War II) and then later more so by the USA through the CIA, which did succeed violently overthrowing a very democratic communist government in Chile in 1973. If the communists had truly been as evil and dictatorial as they are portrayed to be in the capitalist press, the peaceful revolution of 1989 in Eastern Europe (with virtually no related deaths except in Romania) could never have occurred.

Sources:

a: Getty, Ritterspom, and Zemskov, “Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-War Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence”

http://sovietinfo.tripod.com/GTY-Penal_System.pdf

b: Hellmut Andics, “Rule of Terror”

c: Louisa Vinton, “The Katyn Documents: Politics and History.”

d: Amy Knight, “Beria, Stalin’s First Lieutenant”

http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/nceeer/1993-804-08-Knight.pdf

e: Robert Thurston, “Life and Terror in Stalin s Russia”

f: Stephen Wheatcroft, “More Light on the Scale of Repression and Excess Mortality in the Soviet Union in the 1930s”

http://ebooks.cambridge.org/chapter.jsf?bid=CBO9780511626012&cid=CBO9780511626012A025

g: J. W. Smith, “Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle of the 21st Century”

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/9780765604682/Economic-Democracy-Political-Struggle-21st-076560468X/plp

h: Marshall Miller, “Bulgaria during the Second World War”

i: Sarah Davies, “Popular Opinion in Stalin’s Russia”

http://books.google.com/books/about/Popular_Opinion_in_Stalin_s_Russia.html?id=yTGgOwH_mwgC&redir_esc=y

j: Leslie Feinberg, “The Class Character of German Fascism”

<a href=”http://www.workers.org/ww/1999/fascism0304.php

k: Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky “KGB: The Inside Story”

l: Von Schnitzler, “Der Rote Kana”

m: John Arch Getty, “Origins of the Great Purges”

http://books.google.com/books/about/Origins_of_the_Great_Purges.html?id=R5zx54LB-A4C&redir_esc=y

n: Edwin Bacon, “The Gulag at War: Stalin’s Forced Labour System in the Light of the Archives”

o: R. J. Rummel, “Lethal Politics”

p: Marx and Engels, “Das Kapital”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/index.htm

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1885-c2/index.htm

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/index.htm

q: Numbers taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_Soviet_Union, which in turn cites Andreev et al, “Naselenie Sovetskogo Soiuza, 1922-1991″

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Left Anticommunism: the Unkindest Cut

noamChomsky

BY MICHAEL PARENTI

Despite a lifetime of “shaming” the system, NOAM CHOMSKY, America’s foremost “engagé” intellectual, remains an unrepentant left anticommunist.

In the United States, for over a hundred years, the ruling interests tirelessly propagated anticommunism among the populace, until it became more like a religious orthodoxy than a political analysis. During the Cold War, the anticommunist ideological framework could transform any data about existing communist societies into hostile evidence. If the Soviets refused to negotiate a point, they were intransigent and belligerent; if they appeared willing to make concessions, this was but a skillful ploy to put us off our guard. By opposing arms limitations, they would have demonstrated their aggressive intent; but when in fact they supported most armament treaties, it was because they were mendacious and manipulative. If the churches in the USSR were empty, this demonstrated that religion was suppressed; but if the churches were full, this meant the people were rejecting the regime’s atheistic ideology. If the workers went on strike (as happened on infrequent occasions), this was evidence of their alienation from the collectivist system; if they didn’t go on strike, this was because they were intimidated and lacked freedom. A scarcity of consumer goods demonstrated the failure of the economic system; an improvement in consumer supplies meant only that the leaders were attempting to placate a restive population and so maintain a firmer hold over them. If communists in the United States played an important role struggling for the rights of workers, the poor, African-Americans, women, and others, this was only their guileful way of gathering support among disfranchised groups and gaining power for themselves. How one gained power by fighting for the rights of powerless groups was never explained. What we are dealing with is a nonfalsifiable orthodoxy, so assiduously marketed by the ruling interests that it affected people across the entire political spectrum.

Genuflection to Orthodoxy

Many on the U.S. Left have exhibited a Soviet bashing and Red baiting that matches anything on the Right in its enmity and crudity. Listen to Noam Chomsky holding forth about “left intellectuals” who try to “rise to power on the backs of mass popular movements” and “then beat the people into submission. . . . You start off as basically a Leninist who is going to be part of the Red bureaucracy. You see later that power doesn’t lie that way, and you very quickly become an ideologist of the right. . . . We’re seeing it right now in the [former] Soviet Union. The same guys who were communist thugs two years back, are now running banks and [are] enthusiastic free marketeers and praising Americans” (Z Magazine, 10/95).

Chomsky’s imagery is heavily indebted to the same U.S. corporate political culture he so frequently criticizes on other issues. In his mind, the revolution was betrayed by a coterie of “communist thugs” who merely hunger for power rather than wanting the power to end hunger. In fact, the communists did not “very quickly” switch to the Right but struggled in the face of a momentous onslaught to keep Soviet socialism alive for more than seventy years. To be sure, in the Soviet Union’s waning days some, like Boris Yeltsin, crossed over to capitalist ranks, but others continued to resist free-market incursions at great cost to themselves, many meeting their deaths during Yeltsin’s violent repression of the Russian parliament in 1993.

Some leftists and others fall back on the old stereotype of power-hungry Reds who pursue power for power’s sake without regard for actual social goals. If true, one wonders why, in country after country, these Reds side with the poor and powerless often at great risk and sacrifice to themselves, rather than reaping the rewards that come with serving the well-placed.

For decades, many left-leaning writers and speakers in the United States have felt obliged to establish their credibility by indulging in anticommunist and anti-Soviet genuflection, seemingly unable to give a talk or write an article or book review on whatever political subject without injecting some anti-Red sideswipe. The intent was, and still is, to distance themselves from the Marxist-Leninist Left.

Adam Hochschild: Keeping his distance from the “Stalinist Left” and recommending same posture to fellow progressives.

Adam Hochschild, a liberal writer and publisher, warned those on the Left who might be lackadaisical about condemning existing communist societies that they “weaken their credibility” (Guardian, 5/23/84). In other words, to be credible opponents of the cold war, we first had to join in the Cold-War condemnations of communist societies. Ronald Radosh urged that the peace movement purge itself of communists so that it not be accused of being communist (Guardian, 3/16/83). If I understand Radosh: To save ourselves from anticommunist witchhunts, we should ourselves become witchhunters. Purging the Left of communists became a longstanding practice, having injurious effects on various progressive causes. For instance, in 1949 some twelve unions were ousted from the CIO because they had Reds in their leadership. The purge reduced CIO membership by some 1.7 million and seriously weakened its recruitment drives and political clout. In the late 1940s, to avoid being “smeared” as Reds, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), a supposedly progressive group, became one of the most vocally anticommunist organizations.

The strategy did not work. ADA and others on the Left were still attacked for being communist or soft on communism by those on the Right. Then and now, many on the Left have failed to realize that those who fight for social change on behalf of the less privileged elements of society will be Red-baited by conservative elites whether they are communists or not. For ruling interests, it makes little difference whether their wealth and power is challenged by “communist subversives” or “loyal American liberals.” All are lumped together as more or less equally abhorrent.

Even when attacking the Right, the left critics cannot pass up an opportunity to flash their anticommunist credentials. So Mark Green writes in a criticism of President Ronald Reagan that “when presented with a situation that challenges his conservative catechism, like an unyielding Marxist-Leninist, [Reagan] will change not his mind but the facts.” While professing a dedication to fighting dogmatism “both of the Right and Left,” individuals who perform such de rigueur genuflections reinforce the anticommunist dogma. Red-baiting leftists contributed their share to the climate of hostility that has given U.S. leaders such a free hand in waging hot and cold wars against communist countries and which even today makes a progressive or even liberal agenda difficult to promote.

A prototypic Red-basher who pretended to be on the Left was George Orwell. In the middle of World War II, as the Soviet Union was fighting for its life against the Nazi invaders at Stalingrad, Orwell announced that a “willingness to criticize Russia and Stalin is the test of intellectual honesty. It is the only thing that from a literary intellectual’s point of view is really dangerous” (Monthly Review, 5/83). Safely ensconced within a virulently anticommunist society, Orwell (with Orwellian doublethink) characterized the condemnation of communism as a lonely courageous act of defiance. Today, his ideological progeny are still at it, offering themselves as intrepid left critics of the Left, waging a valiant struggle against imaginary Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist hordes.
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Sorely lacking within the U.S. Left is any rational evaluation of the Soviet Union, a nation that endured a protracted civil war and a multinational foreign invasion in the very first years of its existence, and that two decades later threw back and destroyed the Nazi beast at enormous cost to itself. In the three decades after the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviets made industrial advances equal to what capitalism took a century to accomplish–while feeding and schooling their children rather than working them fourteen hours a day as capitalist industrialists did and still do in many parts of the world. And the Soviet Union, along with Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, and Cuba provided vital assistance to national liberation movements in countries around the world, including Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress in South Africa.

Left anticommunists remained studiously unimpressed by the dramatic gains won by masses of previously impoverished people under communism. Some were even scornful of such accomplishments. I recall how in Burlington Vermont, in 1971, the noted anticommunist anarchist, Murray Bookchin, derisively referred to my concern for “the poor little children who got fed under communism” (his words).

Slinging Labels

Those of us who refused to join in the Soviet bashing were branded by left anticommunists as “Soviet apologists” and “Stalinists,” even if we disliked Stalin and his autocratic system of rule and believed there were things seriously wrong with existing Soviet society. Our real sin was that unlike many on the Left we refused to uncritically swallow U.S. media propaganda about communist societies. Instead, we maintained that, aside from the well-publicized deficiencies and injustices, there were positive features about existing communist systems that were worth preserving, that improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people in meaningful and humanizing ways. This claim had a decidedly unsettling effect on left anticommunists who themselves could not utter a positive word about any communist society (except possibly Cuba) and could not lend a tolerant or even courteous ear to anyone who did.

Saturated by anticommunist orthodoxy, most U.S. leftists have practiced a left McCarthyism against people who did have something positive to say about existing communism, excluding them from participation in conferences, advisory boards, political endorsements, and left publications. Like conservatives, left anticommunists tolerated nothing less than a blanket condemnation of the Soviet Union as a Stalinist monstrosity and a Leninist moral aberration.

That many U.S. leftists have scant familiarity with Lenin’s writings and political work does not prevent them from slinging the “Leninist” label. Noam Chomsky, who is an inexhaustible fount of anticommunist caricatures, offers this comment about Leninism: “Western and also Third World intellectuals were attracted to the Bolshevik counterrevolution [sic] because Leninism is, after all, a doctrine that says that the radical intelligentsia have a right to take state power and to run their countries by force, and that is an idea which is rather appealing to intellectuals.” Here Chomsky fashions an image of power-hungry intellectuals to go along with his cartoon image of power-hungry Leninists, villains seeking not the revolutionary means to fight injustice but power for power’s sake. When it comes to Red-bashing, some of the best and brightest on the Left sound not much better than the worst on the Right.

At the time of the 1996 terror bombing in Oklahoma City, I heard a radio commentator announce: “Lenin said that the purpose of terror is to terrorize.” U.S. media commentators have repeatedly quoted Lenin in that misleading manner. In fact, his statement was disapproving of terrorism. He polemicized against isolated terrorist acts which do nothing but create terror among the populace, invite repression, and isolate the revolutionary movement from the masses. Far from being the totalitarian, tight-circled conspirator, Lenin urged the building of broad coalitions and mass organizations, encompassing people who were at different levels of political development. He advocated whatever diverse means were needed to advance the class struggle, including participation in parliamentary elections and existing trade unions. To be sure, the working class, like any mass group, needed organization and leadership to wage a successful revolutionary struggle, which was the role of a vanguard party, but that did not mean the proletarian revolution could be fought and won by putschists or terrorists.

Lenin constantly dealt with the problem of avoiding the two extremes of liberal bourgeois opportunism and ultra-left adventurism. Yet he himself is repeatedly identified as an ultra-left putschist by mainstream journalists and some on the Left. Whether Lenin’s approach to revolution is desirable or even relevant today is a question that warrants critical examination. But a useful evaluation is not likely to come from people who misrepresent his theory and practice.

Left anticommunists find any association with communist organizations to be morally unacceptable because of the “crimes of communism.” Yet many of them are themselves associated with the Democratic Party in this country, either as voters or members, seemingly unconcerned about the morally unacceptable political crimes committed by leaders of that organization. Under one or another Democratic administration, 120,000 Japanese Americans were torn from their homes and livelihoods and thrown into detention camps; atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an enormous loss of innocent life; the FBI was given authority to infiltrate political groups; the Smith Act was used to imprison leaders of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and later on leaders of the Communist Party for their political beliefs; detention camps were established to round up political dissidents in the event of a “national emergency”; during the late 1940s and 1950s, eight thousand federal workers were purged from government because of their political associations and views, with thousands more in all walks of life witchhunted out of their careers; the Neutrality Act was used to impose an embargo on the Spanish Republic that worked in favor of Franco’s fascist legions; homicidal counterinsurgency programs were initiated in various Third World countries; and the Vietnam War was pursued and escalated. And for the better part of a century, the Congressional leadership of the Democratic Party protected racial segregation and stymied all anti-lynching and fair employment bills. Yet all these crimes, bringing ruination and death to many, have not moved the liberals, the social democrats, and the “democratic socialist” anticommunists to insist repeatedly that we issue blanket condemnations of either the Democratic Party or the political system that produced it, certainly not with the intolerant fervor that has been directed against existing communism.

Pure Socialism vs. Siege Socialism

The upheavals in Eastern Europe did not constitute a defeat for socialism because socialism never existed in those countries, according to some U.S. leftists. They say that the communist states offered nothing more than bureaucratic, one-party “state capitalism” or some such thing. Whether we call the former communist countries “socialist” is a matter of definition. Suffice it to say, they constituted something different from what existed in the profit-driven capitalist world–as the capitalists themselves were not slow to recognize.

First, in communist countries there was less economic inequality than under capitalism. The perks enjoyed by party and government elites were modest by corporate CEO standards in the West [even more so when compared with today’s grotesque compensation packages to the executive and financial elites.—Eds], as were their personal incomes and life styles. Soviet leaders like Yuri Andropov and Leonid Brezhnev lived not in lavishly appointed mansions like the White House, but in relatively large apartments in a housing project near the Kremlin set aside for government leaders. They had limousines at their disposal (like most other heads of state) and access to large dachas where they entertained visiting dignitaries. But they had none of the immense personal wealth that most U.S. leaders possess.

The “lavish life” enjoyed by East Germany’s party leaders, as widely publicized in the U.S. press, included a $725 yearly allowance in hard currency, and housing in an exclusive settlement on the outskirts of Berlin that sported a sauna, an indoor pool, and a fitness center shared by all the residents. They also could shop in stores that carried Western goods such as bananas, jeans, and Japanese electronics. The U.S. press never pointed out that ordinary East Germans had access to public pools and gyms and could buy jeans and electronics (though usually not of the imported variety). Nor was the “lavish” consumption enjoyed by East German leaders contrasted to the truly opulent life style enjoyed by the Western plutocracy.

Second, in communist countries, productive forces were not organized for capital gain and private enrichment; public ownership of the means of production supplanted private ownership. Individuals could not hire other people and accumulate great personal wealth from their labor. Again, compared to Western standards, differences in earnings and savings among the populace were generally modest. The income spread between highest and lowest earners in the Soviet Union was about five to one. In the United States, the spread in yearly income between the top multibillionaires and the working poor is more like 10,000 to 1.

Third, priority was placed on human services. Though life under communism left a lot to be desired and the services themselves were rarely the best, communist countries did guarantee their citizens some minimal standard of economic survival and security, including guaranteed education, employment, housing, and medical assistance.

Fourth, communist countries did not pursue the capital penetration of other countries. Lacking a profit motive as their motor force and therefore having no need to constantly find new investment opportunities, they did not expropriate the lands, labor, markets, and natural resources of weaker nations, that is, they did not practice economic imperialism. The Soviet Union conducted trade and aid relations on terms that generally were favorable to the Eastern European nations and Mongolia, Cuba, and India.

All of the above were organizing principles for every communist system to one degree or another. None of the above apply to free market countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Thailand, South Korea, Chile, Indonesia, Zaire, Germany, or the United States.

But a real socialism, it is argued, would be controlled by the workers themselves through direct participation instead of being run by Leninists, Stalinists, Castroites, or other ill-willed, power-hungry, bureaucratic, cabals of evil men who betray revolutions. Unfortunately, this “pure socialism” view is ahistorical and nonfalsifiable; it cannot be tested against the actualities of history. It compares an ideal against an imperfect reality, and the reality comes off a poor second. It imagines what socialism would be like in a world far better than this one, where no strong state structure or security force is required, where none of the value produced by workers needs to be expropriated to rebuild society and defend it from invasion and internal sabotage.

The pure socialists’ ideological anticipations remain untainted by existing practice. They do not explain how the manifold functions of a revolutionary society would be organized, how external attack and internal sabotage would be thwarted, how bureaucracy would be avoided, scarce resources allocated, policy differences settled, priorities set, and production and distribution conducted. Instead, they offer vague statements about how the workers themselves will directly own and control the means of production and will arrive at their own solutions through creative struggle. No surprise then that the pure socialists support every revolution except the ones that succeed.

The pure socialists had a vision of a new society that would create and be created by new people, a society so transformed in its fundamentals as to leave little room for wrongful acts, corruption, and criminal abuses of state power. There would be no bureaucracy or self-interested coteries, no ruthless conflicts or hurtful decisions. When the reality proves different and more difficult, some on the Left proceed to condemn the real thing and announce that they “feel betrayed” by this or that revolution.

The pure socialists see socialism as an ideal that was tarnished by communist venality, duplicity, and power cravings. The pure socialists oppose the Soviet model but offer little evidence to demonstrate that other paths could have been taken, that other models of socialism–not created from one’s imagination but developed through actual historical experience–could have taken hold and worked better. Was an open, pluralistic, democratic socialism actually possible at this historic juncture? The historical evidence would suggest it was not. As the political philosopher Carl Shames argued:

How do [the left critics] know that the fundamental problem was the “nature” of the ruling [revolutionary] parties rather than, say, the global concentration of capital that is destroying all independent economies and putting an end to national sovereignty everywhere? And to the extent that it was, where did this “nature” come from? Was this “nature” disembodied, disconnected from the fabric of the society itself, from the social relations impacting on it? . . . Thousands of examples could be found in which the centralization of power was a necessary choice in securing and protecting socialist relations. In my observation [of existing communist societies], the positive of “socialism” and the negative of “bureaucracy, authoritarianism and tyranny” interpenetrated in virtually every sphere of life. (Carl Shames, correspondence to me, 1/15/92.)

The pure socialists regularly blame the Left itself for every defeat it suffers. Their second-guessing is endless. So we hear that revolutionary struggles fail because their leaders wait too long or act too soon, are too timid or too impulsive, too stubborn or too easily swayed. We hear that revolutionary leaders are compromising or adventuristic, bureaucratic or opportunistic, rigidly organized or insufficiently organized, undemocratic or failing to provide strong leadership. But always the leaders fail because they do not put their trust in the “direct actions” of the workers, who apparently would withstand and overcome every adversity if only given the kind of leadership available from the left critic’s own groupuscule. Unfortunately, the critics seem unable to apply their own leadership genius to producing a successful revolutionary movement in their own country.

Tony Febbo questioned this blame-the-leadership syndrome of the pure socialists:

It occurs to me that when people as smart, different, dedicated and heroic as Lenin, Mao, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Ho Chi Minh and Robert Mugabe–and the millions of heroic people who followed and fought with them–all end up more or less in the same place, then something bigger is at work than who made what decision at what meeting. Or even what size houses they went home to after the meeting. . . .

These leaders weren’t in a vacuum. They were in a whirlwind. And the suction, the force, the power that was twirling them around has spun and left this globe mangled for more than 900 years. And to blame this or that theory or this or that leader is a simple-minded substitute for the kind of analysis that Marxists [should make]. (Guardian, 11/13/91)

To be sure, the pure socialists are not entirely without specific agendas for building the revolution. After the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, an ultra-left group in that country called for direct worker ownership of the factories. The armed workers would take control of production without benefit of managers, state planners, bureaucrats, or a formal military. While undeniably appealing, this worker syndicalism denies the necessities of state power. Under such an arrangement, the Nicaraguan revolution would not have lasted two months against the U.S.-sponsored counterrevolution that savaged the country. It would have been unable to mobilize enough resources to field an army, take security measures, or build and coordinate economic programs and human services on a national scale.

Decentralization vs. Survival

For a people’s revolution to survive, it must seize state power and use it to (a) break the stranglehold exercised by the owning class over the society’s institutions and resources, and (b) withstand the reactionary counterattack that is sure to come. The internal and external dangers a revolution faces necessitate a centralized state power that is not particularly to anyone’s liking, not in Soviet Russia in 1917, nor in Sandinista Nicaragua in 1980.

Engels offers an apposite account of an uprising in Spain in 1872-73 in which anarchists seized power in municipalities across the country. At first, the situation looked promising. The king had abdicated and the bourgeois government could muster but a few thousand ill-trained troops. Yet this ragtag force prevailed because it faced a thoroughly parochialized rebellion. “Each town proclaimed itself as a sovereign canton and set up a revolutionary committee (junta),” Engels writes. “[E]ach town acted on its own, declaring that the important thing was not cooperation with other towns but separation from them, thus precluding any possibility of a combined attack [against bourgeois forces].” It was “the fragmentation and isolation of the revolutionary forces which enabled the government troops to smash one revolt after the other.”

Decentralized parochial autonomy is the graveyard of insurgency–which may be one reason why there has never been a successful anarcho-syndicalist revolution. Ideally, it would be a fine thing to have only local, self-directed, worker participation, with minimal bureaucracy, police, and military. This probably would be the development of socialism, were socialism ever allowed to develop unhindered by counterrevolutionary subversion and attack. One might recall how, in 1918-20, fourteen capitalist nations, including the United States, invaded Soviet Russia in a bloody but unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the revolutionary Bolshevik government. The years of foreign invasion and civil war did much to intensify the Bolsheviks’ siege psychology with its commitment to lockstep party unity and a repressive security apparatus. Thus, in May 1921, the same Lenin who had encouraged the practice of internal party democracy and struggled against Trotsky in order to give the trade unions a greater measure of autonomy, now called for an end to the Workers’ Opposition and other factional groups within the party. “The time has come,” he told an enthusiastically concurring Tenth Party Congress, “to put an end to opposition, to put a lid on it: we have had enough opposition.” Open disputes and conflicting tendencies within and without the party, the communists concluded, created an appearance of division and weakness that invited attack by formidable foes.

Only a month earlier, in April 1921, Lenin had called for more worker representation on the party’s Central Committee. In short, he had become not anti-worker but anti-opposition. Here was a social revolution–like every other–that was not allowed to develop its political and material life in an unhindered way.

By the late 1920s, the Soviets faced the choice of (a) moving in a still more centralized direction with a command economy and forced agrarian collectivization and full-speed industrialization under a commandist, autocratic party leadership, the road taken by Stalin, or (b) moving in a liberalized direction, allowing more political diversity, more autonomy for labor unions and other organizations, more open debate and criticism, greater autonomy among the various Soviet republics, a sector of privately owned small businesses, independent agricultural development by the peasantry, greater emphasis on consumer goods, and less effort given to the kind of capital accumulation needed to build a strong military-industrial base.

The latter course, I believe, would have produced a more comfortable, more humane and serviceable society. Siege socialism would have given way to worker-consumer socialism. The only problem is that the country would have risked being incapable of withstanding the Nazi onslaught. Instead, the Soviet Union embarked upon a rigorous, forced industrialization. This policy has often been mentioned as one of the wrongs perpetrated by Stalin upon his people. It consisted mostly of building, within a decade, an entirely new, huge industrial base east of the Urals in the middle of the barren steppes, the biggest steel complex in Europe, in anticipation of an invasion from the West. “Money was spent like water, men froze, hungered and suffered but the construction went on with a disregard for individuals and a mass heroism seldom paralleled in history.”

Stalin’s prophecy that the Soviet Union had only ten years to do what the British had done in a century proved correct. When the Nazis invaded in 1941, that same industrial base, safely ensconced thousands of miles from the front, produced the weapons of war that eventually turned the tide. The cost of this survival included 22 million Soviets who perished in the war and immeasurable devastation and suffering, the effects of which would distort Soviet society for decades afterward.

All this is not to say that everything Stalin did was of historical necessity. The exigencies of revolutionary survival did not “make inevitable” the heartless execution of hundreds of Old Bolshevik leaders, the personality cult of a supreme leader who claimed every revolutionary gain as his own achievement, the suppression of party political life through terror, the eventual silencing of debate regarding the pace of industrialization and collectivization, the ideological regulation of all intellectual and cultural life, and the mass deportations of “suspect” nationalities.

The transforming effects of counterrevolutionary attack have been felt in other countries. A Sandinista military officer I met in Vienna in 1986 noted that Nicaraguans were “not a warrior people” but they had to learn to fight because they faced a destructive, U.S.-sponsored mercenary war. She bemoaned the fact that war and embargo forced her country to postpone much of its socio-economic agenda. As with Nicaragua, so with Mozambique, Angola and numerous other countries in which U.S.-financed mercenary forces destroyed farmlands, villages, health centers, and power stations, while killing or starving hundreds of thousands–the revolutionary baby was strangled in its crib or mercilessly bled beyond recognition. This reality ought to earn at least as much recognition as the suppression of dissidents in this or that revolutionary society.

The overthrow of Eastern European and Soviet communist governments was cheered by many left intellectuals. Now democracy would have its day. The people would be free from the yoke of communism and the U.S. Left would be free from the albatross of existing communism, or as left theorist Richard Lichtman put it, “liberated from the incubus of the Soviet Union and the succubus of Communist China.”

In fact, the capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe seriously weakened the numerous Third World liberation struggles that had received aid from the Soviet Union and brought a whole new crop of right-wing governments into existence, ones that now worked hand-in-glove with U.S. global counterrevolutionaries around the globe.

In addition, the overthrow of communism gave the green light to the unbridled exploitative impulses of Western corporate interests. No longer needing to convince workers that they live better than their counterparts in Russia, no longer restrained by a competing system, the corporate class is rolling back the many gains that working people have won over the years. Now that the free market, in its meanest form, is emerging triumphant in the East, so will it prevail in the West. “Capitalism with a human face” is being replaced by “capitalism in your face.” As Richard Levins put it, “So in the new exuberant aggressiveness of world capitalism we see what communists and their allies had held at bay” (Monthly Review, 9/96).

Having never understood the role that existing communist powers played in tempering the worst impulses of Western capitalism, and having perceived communism as nothing but an unmitigated evil, the left anticommunists did not anticipate the losses that were to come. Some of them still don’t get it.

International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO): On the International Situation

The most significant development in the world capitalist economy, since the last meeting of our Conference is undoubtedly the intensification of the symptoms that prove the trend toward a new recession in all fields, after a certain rise in the second quarter of 2009, followed by a period of stagnation. Despite the trend towards a rise in the second quarter, world industrial production shrank 6.6% in 2009 and rose 10% in 2010. The industrial production of June 2010 exceeded its previous level before the crisis of 2008. But starting from the first quarter of 2011, the growth lost momentum and fell to 0.4% in the last quarter of that year. In 2011, world industrial production declined by half (5.4%) compared to the previous year. In the first quarter of 2012, after a weak rise, the growth declined. The growth was 1.8% in the first quarter, 0% in the second and 4% in the last quarter of 20l2. All the data show that, despite fluctuations, a decline persists that began in the first quarter of 2011, which led to zero level in the middle of this year [2012] and is heading for a new period of decline.

Industrial production in the European Union, which is a larger economic power than the U.S.; in Japan, which is third largest world economic power; in India, one of the largest economies in Asia, have had consecutive declines in the third quarter of 2011 and in the first two quarters of 2012 compared to the same period last year. Industrial production in Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, has also entered into decline in the last two quarters. North African countries like Tunisia and Egypt, and other countries such as Argentina, Colombia and Peru, are in similar situations.

The rate of growth of industrial production in China, in the first and second quarters of 2012, was 11.6% and 9.5%, while it was 14.4% in 2010 and 13.8% in 2011. The downward trend continued in July, 9.2% and in August, 8.9%. China, which grew by 12.9% and 12.3% in the crisis years (2008 and 2009), was, along with India, one of the factors that prevented a further sharpening of the crisis and that allowed the world economy to enter into a new period of growth. The situation in that country has changed considerably. Now it is a country that is accumulating stockpiles in the steel industry, which is facing a slowdown in the construction sector, which has important holes in the financial sector. Those countries that saw lower growth rates despite the stimulus measures to revive the domestic market, are now unable to play the same role as before. The industrial production of Mexico and the Confederation of Independent States (CIS), including Russia, continues to grow. However, while the industrial production in the major countries and the volume of international trade are falling, for these countries also, a decrease is expected.

Unlike simple commodity production, a more rapid growth in the production of the means of production, compared to consumer goods, is a condition for expanded reproduction. But with the capitalist mode of production producing for an unknown market, with the sole purpose of obtaining profits, a consistent development of the two sectors is impossible and this is one of the factors that makes crises inevitable. In the last three years, as well as before, these two sectors have not developed consistently. In the first sector, demand has fallen, the volume of growth has fallen, stockpiles are accumulating and capacity utilization has fallen. In 2010 and 2011 the steel industry, an important component of the production of means of production, grew faster than the consumer goods sector. According to data from the World Steel Union, the growth rate in production was 15% in 2010 compared to the previous year, but in 2011 the figure fell to 6.2%. In January raw steel production saw a sharp drop to 8%, and it has stayed at 0.8% in the period from January to May of 2012. In August of 2012 raw steel production fell 1% in relation to 2011. In the same period, raw steel production rose 3.3% in Japan (a significant increase if one takes into account the major fall due to the tsunami) and 2.6% in India. It has fallen by 1.7% in China, 3.8% in the U.S., 4.4% in the EU, 7.1% in Germany, 15.5% in Italy and 3.8% in the Confederation of Independent States (CIS). The iron stockpiles in Chinese ports reached 98.15 million tons (an increase of 2.9%) belonging to the steel complexes. And stockpiles of Chinese coal are at their highest level in the last three years.

In manufacturing, a very important element of the production of the means of production, production and demand have declined in many countries. This decline has been one of the reasons for the cooling of industrial production in Germany, for example. In the capitalist mode of production, the agricultural sector, by its level of development and its technical basis, is always behind industry. Agricultural production is largely affected by the natural conditions, climate changes, droughts, storms and other natural catastrophes. Agricultural production is increasingly under the control of the monopolies and the speculative maneuvers of finance capital. In 2010 world agricultural production, including the production of cereals, has shrunk due to various factors such as bad weather or the expansion of plots reserved for bio-fuel production. On the other hand, in 2011, agricultural production has progressed thanks to better weather conditions, and also to increased demand and higher prices due to speculation. For example, wheat production increased by about 6%.

In 2009 the volume of world trade has declined 12.7%. According to data from the World Trade Organization (WTO), that volume registered a growth of 13.8% in 2010, and only 5% in 2011 (according to figures from the CPL, the growth was 15.2% in 2010, and 5.8% in 2011). The volume of world trade has grown by 0.5% in the final quarter of last year, and by 0.9% and 0.5% in the first and second quarter of 2012 respectively. During the first two months of the third quarter (June and July), the volume of world trade recorded a negative growth of -1.5% and -0.2% compared to the previous months.

World industrial production reached and surpassed the pre-crisis level of 2008, in June 2010, while the volume of international trade did not surpass this until November 2011. If we compare the data of July 2012 with the level reached before the crisis of 2008 (that is, April 2008), we see an increase of 9.5% in world industrial production and an increase of 5% in the total volume of growth in world trade.

The data on the increase of the volume of world trade is one of the most important that shows an evolutionary trend, although it does not exactly reflect the volume of growth of world trade. These data show that for the last three years, the world capitalist production has increased rapidly and that the capitalist world is once again facing the problem of overproduction, which is the source of all its crises. Decreased production, closing or reduction in work capacity of enterprises, rising unemployment and poverty; needs in abundance and the restriction of markets are the inevitable consequences of overproduction. The sharp slowdown in world industrial production has been shown above. The events in North Africa and the austerity measures taken in countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, etc., are factors that are aggravating this process and its consequences.

Towards a New Financial Crisis

The crisis of 2008 broke out as a financial crisis, at the same time as the crisis deepened in other sectors, such as industry and trade, it developed with contacts in the finance sector with serious consequences for the following period. The most destructive consequences for the monopolies and the eventual collapse of the financial sector were avoided by transferring of billions of dollars into the coffers of the monopolies by the capitalist States. This rescue operation was only possible by accepting a debt to financial markets with very high interest rates, and the issuance of money into the markets. The end result is an extreme State debt, an increase in the debt and interest burden, a rise in the price of gold and the loss of value (devaluation) of almost all currencies.

Countries at different levels have entered a vicious circle that has elements of new currency and financial crises, in which they can finance their budget deficit, their debts and interests, having to borrow again. The capitalist world began a period of growth starting in the second quarter of 2009, with the weight inherited from the 2008 crisis. However, this period of growth has enabled recipient countries to breathe a little, turn the wheel that was on the verge of suffocating them. The growth of the world economy stopped and even lowered the price of gold for a moment. In some countries, such as China that had a significant growth rate, the ratio of the public debt to GDP decreased. But in other countries, such as Japan and the U.S., a substantial debt has continued, even during the period of growth of the capitalist world economy. The U.S. public debt represents the sum of $16 billion (the debt of Germany, which grew until the second half of this year, is 8 billion). Other capitalist countries are in a similar situation. The increasing debt is almost the condition of financial sustainability and economic growth. And this is the path that is leading directly to a new financial crisis that may profoundly affect all sectors of the economy.

The highly indebted countries have not been able to achieve a period of growth after the financial crisis and the fall in world industrial production that took place between the second quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2009; this period has led to a financial crisis that has affected the other sectors of the economy that has led them to bankruptcy. The first example of this process was in Greece, where the weakness was such that the industry, very weak, was largely liquidated when it joined the EU. After the 2008 crisis, in 2009, the economy of this country did not grow, and by the end of the year it was on the verge of bankruptcy. This country, followed by others such as Portugal, Spain, Hungary, etc., has not been able to get out of the crisis and stagnation. However, important differences should be noted in its debt in relation to the GDP.

Austerity measures never seen before, except in times of war or crisis as deep as 1929, have been imposed on the indebted countries. The result of these measures has been to impoverish the people, destroy the economy and reduce the internal market and foreign trade. These austerity plans have been applied (despite the opposition and struggle of the working class and peoples) under the control of the creditor imperialist powers, the international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and European Union, and above all with the support of the collaborator monopoly bourgeoisie and its representatives, these enemies of the people. They have transferred billions of dollars to foreign banks, completely betraying the national interests. The national pride of the people, their right to sovereignty and independence have been trampled upon. A country like Britain that had a strong financial sector, but since mid-2011 has seen its industrial production and its economy reduced, has been forced to march along with the countries implementing austerity measures.

The significant decrease in the volume of growth of world industrial production, which began in the second quarter of 2011, is developing the elements of a new international financial crisis and is contributing to the degradation of the situation of the highly indebted countries. They failed to enter a period of growth parallel to the process of growth of the world capitalist economy following the crisis of 2008-2009. While the debate over the future of the Euro and the European Union is sharpening, the communiqués on the economic trends of the advanced capitalist countries and the indebted countries have sown confusion in the stock markets, barometers of the capitalist economy. Although world industrial and agricultural production and the volume of international -trade have exceeded the highest level before the crisis of 2008, the indices of the most influential stock markets remain below that level.

Although we are not yet experiencing the outbreak of a financial crisis of major proportions, everything makes it appear that the process is advancing towards such an eventuality. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank (FED) has announced that it will not raise interest rates and that it will start a process of purchasing bonds for an amount of $2,000 billion dollars, at the rate of $40 billion per month. Japan has announced a similar measure and has begun a program of buying bonds to the tune of $695 billion.

Germany has had to relax its rigid policy towards the indebted countries and the European fund for the intervention in countries facing difficulties has increased. China, along with measures of revival that it has already applied, announced a new investment package to renovate its infrastructure. The price of gold is rising again. In 2008, the intense intervention of the capitalist States began after the outbreak of the crisis. Now, however, the capitalist States have gone into action before the shocks and bankruptcies at the same level as in 2008 start in the major capitalist countries and worldwide. However, these interventions, which can have some influence on the process of development, cannot change the orientation and the inevitable outcome.

The Sharpening of the Inter-Imperialist Contradictions and the Growing Danger of Conflicts

Uneven, unbalanced development is the absolute law of capitalist development. This process after the crisis of 2008 was not balanced, it deepened the antagonistic contradictions in the evolution and development of the relations between sectors, countries, regions, production and markets, etc. The industrial production of the advanced capitalist countries, including the U.S. and Japan, except Germany (ignoring the high level of 2008), did not reach the level of 2005. Germany, which has exceeded the pre-crisis level and has had a growth in industrial production of 11.5% in 2010 and 9% in 2011, has consolidated its position within the European Union and the Euro zone. Without separating itself from the bloc led by the United States, it has penetrated into new markets, new fields of investment, sources of raw materials, basing itself on its economic and financial strength, and above all, on its technical superiority in the industry of machine construction.

As in previous years, China, both because of its industrial production and its economy in general, was the country that had the most significant growth among major economies. It has modernized and increased the technical basis of its industry, and it continues to reduce the difference in its level of development with the other imperialist powers. Russia is going through a similar process. For the United States and its allies, these two countries, one considered as a vast market and production area with a trained and cheap work force, and the other a solid country, appear today as their main rivals to fight against.

The inevitable result of the change in the balance of power is the great demand for a piece of the pie by the emerging forces, using all means to get it and a new redivision of the world according the new balance of power. The recent development of the world economy is another factor that exacerbates the contradictions and the struggles among the major imperialist powers. Last year in the Middle East, in Africa and the whole world, the rivalry and struggle to expand their sphere of influence has accelerated. The production of weapons, the arms race is intensifying. China and Russia have renewed the technical basis of their arms industry. According to a report by the Congress of the United States, arms sales by these countries have tripled in 2011.

China, which increasingly needs more raw materials, energy and fields of investment for its growing economy, and Russia, which is slowly recovering, are intensifying their expansionist desires and their efforts to get their piece of the pie. Therefore, it is a top priority for the U.S. and its allies to prevent China, a young imperialist power in full development, and Russia, from achieving new markets in the field of energy and raw materials. When the Obama administration states that beginning next year the priority strategic objective for the United States will be Asia, and that the deployment of the U.S. military will be renewed according to the new situation, this is merely affirming that reality. The crisis of the archipelagos shows the level of tension between Japan and China; Japan has declared its intention to improve its military capability. The military maneuvers in the region have intensified.

The consequences of the change in the balance of power in the world have been clearly visible since last year. Russia and China were forced to accept Western imperialist intervention in Libya, even though that intervention was contrary to their interests. The intervention ended with the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, the near collapse of the country, the destruction of its economy, the degradation of working and living conditions, the transfer of the country’s wealth into the hands of the Western imperialist States, etc. Russia and China lost a good part of their positions, including their oil agreements. After the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Mali has been dragged into war and divided. But the main objective is Syria. The attempts by the Western imperialist powers to topple the Syrian regime and put in a puppet government to fully control the country are intensifying. The United States and its allies have mobilized all their forces within Syria and outside of it in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They are stirring up the religious contradictions, they use and manipulate the popular discontent towards the regime and they try to prepare the ground for a military intervention as in Libya. Meanwhile Russia is arming Syria, strengthening its military base located in that country and sending more warships to the Mediterranean.

To bring down the Syrian regime, put in place a puppet government, dominate the oil-rich Middle East, control the eastern Mediterranean, block the expansion of China and Russia in the region and expel them as they did in Libya, to encircle Iran, weaken its influence and liquidate its closest allies, are very important objectives. Syria is the only country in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean where Russia has a military base. This small country has become a place of intense struggle between Russia and China on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. The Middle East is a powder keg on the verge of religious conflicts.

Contrary to what they did in Libya, Russia and China are opposing a military intervention that would alter the balance in the Middle East and result in the domination of the United States and its allies over Syria. But they have left the door open for a possible compromise that would guarantee their interests and renew the Syrian regime which is having more and more difficulties to survive.

As the case of Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Libya show, the imperialist interventions that have had the support of the liberal “defenders” of freedom and democracy, of the pseudo-socialist parties that emerged from the former revisionist parties, have resulted in increased military budgets at the expense of the workers, in the destruction of the productive forces of those countries, in many disasters, the impoverishment and decline in all social aspects. The aspiration of the peoples for the right to sovereignty and national independence, democracy and freedom has never been the concern of the occupiers. Their objective was to further prolong their system maintained by the defeat inflicted on the working class in the middle of the last century, a defeat that guaranteed their super-profits, the expansion of their spheres of influence and the weakening of their rivals. The imperialist powers, which are using all means to achieve this goal, do not lack in demagoguery and low maneuvers to disorient the people’s anger.

Now a period of sharpening of inter-imperialist contradictions is beginning, which economic-financial and political-military interventions will multiply. It is increasingly important to fight against such intervention, to develop the united fight of the workers and peoples, in both the advanced and backward countries,.

Organize the Resistance of the Workers in the New Stormy Period

The army of unemployed is growing on the world level, especially in countries in total-debt crisis, in the countries in which the economy is declining, stagnating or is in crisis. In Greece and Spain, unemployment has reached 25%. In these countries, unemployment among the youths, including college graduates, reached 50%. In the Euro zone in the second quarter of 2012, the level of unemployment reached 11.2%, according to official figures. In countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, where manufacturing has fallen from 9.6% to 7.5% in the first quarter of this year (2012), the number of unemployed continues to grow. In South Africa, the most developed country on the continent, the unemployment rate exceeds 25%.

In the current period, in almost all fields, from education to health care, drastic measures have been taken, the retirement age has been delayed and pensions have fallen. The gains of the working class worldwide are targeted for cuts or elimination. While direct taxes on the workers are increasing, no measures are taken to disturb the local and international monopolies, when even within the framework of this system one could increase taxes on the banks and the local and foreign monopolies. Wages continue to fall, etc. Many countries are suffering from a process of absolute impoverishment.

In recent years practices have been imposed worldwide such as sub-contracting labor, precarious and part-time work, an increase in the age for retirement, etc. In Germany, for example, one of the most developed countries in the world that has had significant growth rates in industrial production, according to the Federal Administration of Statistics, 15.6% of the population lives below the poverty line, a figure that rises to 26% among the immigrant population.

Last year, on a world scale and in each country, the workers and peoples movement has developed with various demands, in different forms and also at different levels. The struggles carried out in those countries with a “debt crisis” have been outstanding for their broad social base, for their responses and the experiences gained. The miners’ strike in South Africa, the youth movement and the strikes in Chile, the popular movements in Tunisia and Egypt, etc. are powerful examples of the workers and peoples struggles.

Starting with Greece, Spain and Italy, in various countries with a “debt crisis,” strikes, general strikes and huge demonstrations have taken place. In Greece and Spain, hundreds of thousands of people have expressed their anger in front of the parliaments on the days when these were voting for austerity measures. But the workers and peoples movement, despite some more advanced attempts, has remained within the framework of peaceful demonstrations, general strikes of one or two days and limited resistance. The strikes of long duration, the resistance or occupation of factories, have been limited to one enterprise or one sector.

The austerity measures have affected not only the proletariat and semi-proletarian masses of the cities and countryside; they have also affected the petty bourgeoisie and non-monopoly bourgeois strata. Even the less dynamic strata, the traditional base of the bourgeois parties, have been mobilized given the current situation. The social base of the struggle against the bourgeoisie in Power and against imperialism has expanded, to the point where in some dependent countries the mobilization has taken the character of a movement of the whole nation, except for a handful of monopolists. The conditions are maturing for the working class and its revolutionary parties, as representatives and the vanguard of the nation, to decide to organize and advance the movement and the united front of the people.

But despite the great movement, the groups of international finance capital and the local monopoly bourgeoisies have not given in (except in the recent delay of the austerity measures in Portugal). They have decided to implement these measures even at the cost of demeaning the image of the parliaments and weakening their social base. However, the masses are realizing through their own experience the impossibility of repelling the attacks with one or two day strikes or through peaceful demonstrations. Sharper forms of struggle and unlimited general strike are beginning to be considered by the more advanced strata.

It is clear that the bourgeoisie in Power, with their hostile character towards the people, is assuming a position of national betrayal. The traditional parties of the bourgeoisie and parliaments have lost credibility and the mass support for those parties is weakening (especially toward those in government that are implementing austerity measures). The social basis of monopoly capital is weakening. Among the masses who have felt their national pride hurt by the imperialists, the discontent, anger and will to struggle against the major imperialist powers, beginning with the United States and Germany, against institutions like the IMF or the EU, and against the local monopoly bourgeoisie that is collaborating with them, is developing.

The trade union bureaucracy and reformist parties and social trends are following a backward line of “least resistance,” not only in their forms of organization and struggle, but also at the level of political demands and platform. Clearly, this attitude is contributing to weakening their influence among the workers. The attacks and harshness of the social conditions are also affecting the lower strata of the labor bureaucracy and aristocracy and are sharpening the contradictions within their ranks.

The struggles in the countries with “debt crisis” are being developed on a program of protest against the bourgeois governments and parties, against institutions such as the IMF and the EU that are imposing draconian measures and they are demanding their withdrawal. At first this was natural and understandable in the context of a spontaneous movement. But the inability to go beyond those narrow limits is one of the major weaknesses of the movement. This weakness can be overcome with the work of agitation that shows the masses the way out of this difficult situation in which the people and the country find themselves, denouncing the social forces that are an obstacle to that way out. This work of agitation is reinforced by putting forward appropriate demands, slogans and forms of struggle among the masses.

Especially in Greece, certain small groups (that also have weaknesses) have proposed relatively advanced demands and platforms. But the forces capable of influencing the movement are not even concerned with organizing the work necessary to promote the fight on all fronts. The absence or great weakness of a revolutionary class party, has been felt strongly, as it cannot influence the movement.

Linked to the evolution of the world economy, the period that is beginning will be one of further degradation of the living and working conditions for the workers and peoples, a period of intense economic and political attacks, of discontent, anger and militancy among workers, as well as sharpening of inter-imperialist contradictions and conflicts. We must draw lessons and conclusions from the recent developments and the historical experience of the working class and peoples; we must advance, renewing our work and reorganizing our parties.

Tunisia, November 2012

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The American Party of Labor Celebrates International Women’s Day

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Comrades around the world!

Today we celebrate March 8th, International Women’s Day. We reaffirm that the link between women’s liberation and total human emancipation from exploitation is unbreakable, and that we cannot have one without the other. To speak about revolution and the creation of a new society while ignoring the oppression of women is to march into battle at less than half strength.

Why is it so important that we make this affirmation on this day? In recent years many women have been justifiably put off by what shall hereby be referred to as the “left,” including some self-proclaimed socialist or communist organizations, due to numerous failures to demonstrate a proper attitude towards women’s liberation and proper behavior towards female comrades. In some cases, female activists have reported being marginalized and objectified, while in the more severe cases reports of sexual assaults have been inexcusably suppressed and victims intimidated, all for the sake of maintaining the integrity of the organization, as if an organization which ignores sexual harassment and even assault in its ranks could ever truly have the integrity that a revolution would inevitably require.

In this shameful series of failures on the part of self-proclaimed progressive forces, many groups and organizations have taken up a line on prostitution which only serves to justify and perpetuate patriarchy, as well as enrich the worst among capitalists. No matter how many reasoned arguments are made to refute their claims that prostitution is not “work like any other form of work,” and no matter how much evidence is mustered to show that legalized prostitution has failed to improve the lives of prostituted women while encouraging men to use women as they see fit, these “leftists” continue to insist that legalization of prostitution is the only possible road.

One of the major causes of these problems stems from what is an unfortunately very popular and vulgar belief, namely the idea that issues like women’s liberation must be put on hold until after the revolution, after the overthrow of capitalism. While it is true that the full liberation of women cannot be achieved so long as society is divided into hostile classes, this does not mean that revolutionaries, and in particular male revolutionaries, have no responsibility to wage a daily struggle against the oppression of women. If nowhere else, any woman should be able to find respite from a hostile world within the ranks of the workers’ movement. Once again, the primary burden of responsibility must inevitably fall on the shoulders of men in this regard. When we speak of women being oppressed, we must ask by whom are they oppressed, and the answer is men. This is not to be taken as a “divisive” statement accusing men but rather an objective fact. And it is for this reason that male revolutionaries must constantly be mindful of their behavior and call out sexism and misogynistic behavior or ideas whenever they might appear, and more importantly resolutely sweep them out of our organizations and coalitions.

On this day, International Women’s Day, the American Party of Labor publicly proclaims its support for the following:

  • Zero tolerance for sexual harassment and especially sexual assault within leftist organizations, coalitions, and events. Members should remain vigilant toward their own behavior and the behavior and attitudes of others.
  • Full rejection of any idea that claims women’s liberation and sexism in general are ideas which can “wait until after the revolution,” or that these things will be solved simply by the overthrow of capitalism. Oppression of women pre-dates capitalism, going back all the way till the beginning of class-based society. This being the case, how can anyone seriously claim that the overthrow of capitalism alone would end women’s oppression? The struggle against sexism, like racism and other social ills, must be waged within revolutionary organizations before, during, and after any hypothetical revolution. The regression of women’s rights in formerly socialist countries clearly demonstrates how difficult this struggle can be, how the overthrow of capitalism alone is insufficient, and how in the future any successful revolutionary party or organization must be ever vigilant on this front.
  • An abolitionist position on prostitution. The APL does not support the criminalization of prostituted women, and does not oppose the desire of any group of prostituted women to organize so as to acquire whatever rights and dignities they can attain by doing so, but the Party will not support any measures which legitimize pimps, traffickers, and buyers of sex. The only bourgeois legislation the APL can support on this issue would be any laws resembling the so-called Nordic Model, which criminalizes pimps, buyers, and landlords rather than prostituted women. This model properly puts the blame where it belongs, on the men who exploit women by selling or renting their bodies. In spite of the arguments by the prostitution industry, study after study show that this is the only bourgeois legal measure which reduces trafficking and risks toward women while providing prostituted women a path to exit from this vile trade. The legalization of prostitution means legitimization, making it “normal” for men to buy sex. Such a situation cannot help but to preserve and perpetuate patriarchy, as it would, and in fact already does, overwhelmingly benefit men at the expense of women.

So let us remember on this, International Women’s Day, that putting the struggle against women’s oppression on an equal plane with the struggle against capitalism does not detract from the latter, nor does it “divide” workers or set them against one another. The people who are guilty of such division are those who act as though female activists exist only to provide girlfriends and partners for male activists, those who turn a blind eye to sexual harassment, and those who masquerade as feminists seeking to empower women by giving them the “choice” to be prostitutes while arguing against any kind of consequences for the men who abuse them.

Waging a struggle against sexism and misogyny is what strengthens the movement and binds it together. Let us wage that struggle, comrades!

Leila Khaled on Revolution & Life

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“I have learned that a woman can be a fighter, a freedom fighter, a political activist, and that she can fall in love and be loved. She can be married, have children, be a mother. Revolution must mean life also; every aspect of life.”

Leila Khaled

Seven Thomas Sankara Quotes About Women

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The following excerpts are from The revolution cannot triumph without the emancipation of women speech, which he held to a rally of several thousand women in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, commemorating International Women’s Day on March 8, 1987.

“Posing the question of women in Burkinabè society today means posing the abolition of the system of slavery to which they have been subjected for millennia. The first step is to try to understand how this system works, to grasp its real nature in all its subtlety, in order then to work out a line of action that can lead to women’s total emancipation. In other words, in order to win this battle that men and women have in common, we must be familiar with all aspects of the woman question on a world scale and here in Burkina. We must understand how the struggle of the Burkinabè woman is part of a worldwide struggle of all women and, beyond that, part of the struggle for the full rehabilitation of our continent. Thus, women’s emancipation is at the heart of the question of humanity itself, here and everywhere. The question is thus universal in character.”

“Women’s fate is bound up with that of an exploited male. However, this solidarity must not blind us in looking at the specific situation faced by womenfolk in our society. It is true that the woman worker and simple man are exploited economically, but the worker wife is also condemned further to silence by her worker husband. This is the same method used by men to dominate other men! The idea was crafted that certain men, by virtue of their family origin and birth, or by ‘divine rights’, were superior to others.”

“From the first beginnings of human history, man’s mastering of nature has never been accomplished with his bare hands alone. The hand with the opposable thumb reaches out for the tool, which increases the hand’s power. It was thus not physical attributes alone–musculature or the capacity to give birth, for example–that determined the unequal status of men and women. Nor was it technological progress as such that institutionalized this inequality. In certain cases, in certain parts of the globe, women were able to eliminate the physical difference that separated them from men. It was rather the transition from one form of society to another that served to institutionalize women’s inequality. This inequality was produced by our own minds and intelligence in order to develop a concrete form of domination and exploitation. The social function and role to which women have been relegated ever since is a living reflection of this fact. Today, her childbearing functions and the social obligation to conform to models of elegance determined by men prevent any woman who might want to from developing a so-called male musculature.”

“For millennia, from the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age, relations between the sexes were, in the opinion of the most skilled paleontologists, positive and complementary in character. So it was for eight millennia! As Frederick Engels explained to us, relations were based on collaboration and interaction, in contrast to the patriarchy, where women’s exclusion was a generalized characteristic of the epoch. Engels not only traced the evolution of technology but also of the historic enslavement of women, which occurred with the appearance of private property, when one mode of production gave way to another, and when one form of social organization replaced another….”

“Humankind first knew slavery with the advent of private property. Man, master of his slaves and of the land, became in addition the woman’s master. This was the historic defeat of the female sex. It came about with the upheaval in the division of labor and as a result of new modes of production and a revolution in the means of production. In this way, paternal right replaced maternal right. Property was now handed down from father to son, rather than as before from the woman to her clan. The patriarchal family made its appearance, founded on the sole and personal property of the father, who had become head of the family. Within this family the woman was oppressed….”

“Inequality can be done away with only by establishing a new society, where men and women will enjoy equal rights, resulting from an upheaval in the means of production and in all social relations. Thus, the status of women will improve only with the elimination of the system that exploits them….”

“Her status overturned by private property, banished from her very self, relegated to the role of child raiser and servant, written out of history by philosophy (Aristotle, Pythagoras, and others) and the most entrenched religions, stripped of all worth by mythology, woman shared the lot of a slave, who in slave society was nothing more than a beast of burden with a human face.”

Source: Thomas Sankara Speaks Copyright © 1990, 2007 Pathfinder Press

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Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan): Condemn the Despicable Assassination of Chokri Belaid in Tunisia!

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Chokri Belaid, a popular, prominent, and tireless fighter for the freedom and independence of Tunisia was assassinated in front of his house on the morning of February 6, 2013. Comrade Chokri was the general secretary of the United Party of Patriotic Democrats (PUPD) of Tunisia and a leading member of the Popular Front, a coalition of democratic and left wing forces including the Workers’ Party (PT) of Tunisia.

The criminal assassination of Chokri Belaid is one among a series of repressive acts and barbaric attacks against the activists of the Popular Front that have been carried out for a while with the backing and support of the Tunisian government led by Ennahda Islamic Party. As Comrade Hemma Hemmami, the spokesperson of the Front and the leading figure of PT stated: “The government as a whole is responsible for this crime”.

The barbaric assassination of Comrade Chokri Belaid reminds us of the gradually increasing offensive acts of the reactionary forces of the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, soon after they took power, against the advancement of the Iranian Revolution and against the secular and radical left forces in Iran.

Chokri Belaid strongly opposed the “elected” government of Tunisia dominated by the Ennahda Islamic Party, the Party that was put in power through conspiracy, deception, election rigging, and imperialist backing.

The assassination of Chokri Belaid is a vile act that stems from, on the one hand, the weakness and sagging power of the present reactionary rulers in Tunisia and, on the other hand, the advances of the Popular Front. The democratic and revolutionary forces in Tunisia are extending and deepening their influence among the labourers, toilers, deprived masses, and intellectuals. They are holding high the banner of their national-democratic revolution. This has frightened the regime and decaying forces. The assassins not only have targeted Comrade Chokri and PUPD, but also have targeted all democratic and left forces, the trade unions, the women organizations, all secular and progressive institutions. All these forces were and are under the offenses of the dark and reactionary forces backed by the Ennahda movement.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) strongly condemns the assassination of Chokri Belaid and expresses solidarity with his immediate family, with the United Party of Patriotic Democrats, and with the United Front. We call on all revolutionary and progressive forces of all lands to condemn the reactionary regime of Tunisia for this despicable act and other ongoing criminal offenses against the people of Tunisia.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) supports the struggle of the Tunisian people for the continuation of their revolution. We support the Popular Front, the force that is fighting for deepening the revolution and establishing a national and democratic order. We continue to expose the criminal Islamic regime of Tunisia headed by Ennahda, a regime that is backed by imperialists and the remnants of Ben Ali regime.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) supports the call by trade unions and the Popular Front for general strikes, for dissolution of the government, and for the formation of a new democratic constitutional assembly.

Long Live the Tunisian Revolution!
Down with Imperialism and Reaction!
Long Live International Solidarity!

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan)
February 7, 2013

WWW.Toufan.org
Toufan@toufan.org

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The Path of the Danish People: Programme from 1952 of the Communist Party of Denmark

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DKP: The Path of the Danish People

Adopted by the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of Denmark, 22-25 May, 1952

The time has come, where Denmark must embark on new tracks. It cannot continue like it does! After years with economic crisis and unemployment came the tribulation of the foreign rule. And now the country is clenched with fear for war, fear for want, and fear for the fate of Denmark under a development that goes against everything that the people wish for and hopes. But there is a way forward for Denmark and the Danish people.

Denmark has previously gone through tough times. Also previously headstrong rulers have mortgaged the country, or lead it to defeat, default, and dissolution. But always new forces have broken forth. They have united the people, so that it with united strength carried the country forward again.

Therefore, through the history of the Danish people, there goes an unbroken line of willingness for peace and prosperity, for popular rule and independence. This willingness has become the supreme hallmark of the Danish people, and it lives with unimpaired strength today.

The liberation struggle under the occupation still stands clearly in the memory.
When the people joined their ranks in a united front and swept the false leaders away, broke the subjugation and humiliation of the Scavenius-policy[1].
The Danish people took its place in the common struggle of the peoples for freedom, and the liberation opened paths for prosperity and a new era.

At that time all opportunities were present. Consensus and commitment to break with the old reigned like never before among the people. But the will of the people wasn’t followed.

The old politicians surely spoke pretty words about a “new policy”, that should fulfil the demands of the people, but in reality they turned everything into the old rut.

They are responsible for that we instead of peace, freedom, and social progress have gotten the circumstances, that reigns now. Their policy has failed.

But the people were on the right track. And for Denmark to escape the trouble, the people must stand firm, that its interests will be respected. The power of the ruling political clique must be broken. A whole other scheme must be created.

The Danish people own the strength to enforce the needed changes.

In our time it is the working class that is the backbone in the nation and in the struggle of the people. In its rising it has defied reaction and men of wealth and guarded the most cherished values of the Danish people.

It created powerful organizations that were of irresistible strength, when they were put into the struggle for the case of the poor. In crucial moments – like under the occupation – it has shown itself as the power that united the people and took the lead in its struggle against internal and external enemies. It is this task, that now again accrues the Danish working class.

Ever since the working class rose up as an independent force, its goal has been socialism, a society where no one thrives on the labour of others. The people would have long ago been won for socialism, if not the social democratic leaders had betrayed the struggle and dishonoured the name of socialism. But their political failure doesn’t mean the failure of socialism. That is demonstrated by the development there, where socialism has been victorious and has created societies with lasting prosperity and public happiness. More and more realize that there must be decisive societal changes in Denmark. But what needs to be done, and how should it be done?

This programme shows how a real safeguarding of the interests of the people must lead to a socialistic transformation of society. 

The power of the high finance has led Denmark into misfortune.

It is not the people that have the power in Denmark today. The real power rests within a small circle of money men, industrialists, and landlords, who via their capitalistic monopolies own the banks, the large industry, the large commerce and the manors, and by virtue of their dominance over the credit control the agriculture, fisheries, commerce, and crafts.

Such monopolies are e.g. the large banking groups and shipping companies, the oil companies, the cement trust, the margarine trust, etc. Via the monopolies a dozen persons rule over two thirds of all share capital in Denmark. “Money rules everything” is the slogan of the high finance, and so it is in today’s Denmark. By their economic power the financial lords have directly and indirectly secured influence on the state apparatus and willing politicians, so that the government and the state administration carry out their will. Profit is their intent and goal. They only achieve that on the expense of the working people. Therefore their policy is directed against the interests of the people.

Through many years the capitalists in Denmark managed partly to conceal these facts and propagate the belief that lasting prosperity could be created for the Danish people without a revolution.

In the beginning of the century capitalism was still in its relatively peaceful period of development.

Danish capitalism was by virtue of specific circumstances in a favourable position.

It was, when England still flourished as a colonial power. At that time the English market was capable of purchasing and pay quality prices for Danish agricultural products.

Thereby Danish capitalism also obtained a part of the extra profits that the English high finance squeezed out of the slave labour of the colonial peoples.

It was, when British and German power politics kept each other in balance in Denmark.

At that time Danish capitalism obtained special advantages by acting as “neutral” and therefore did not participate in the weapons race.

Under those circumstances the Danish working class managed through tough struggles, although easier than in many other countries, to win certain economic and social concessions

But now all that is over. Capitalism is in decline and decay. It is therefore not temporarily inconveniences, but a profound crisis it has brought over the Danish society.

The British Empire flourishes no more, but sinks into ever deeper dependence on the USA.

Rather than leaving a bit of its profits to the Danish capitalists, British monopoly capital plunders Denmark in a most brutal way by the trading conditions laid down by the England Agreement. While the majority of Danish agricultural export is being sold to England to established low prices, England has free hands to turn the prices on its deliveries of goods to Denmark up high and to default on its delivery obligations.

Danish capitalism no longer acts ”neutral”. The monopoly capital of Denmark which itself is dependent on the giant trusts of the capitalistic world has economically and politically handed out our country to the imperialism of England and above all to the imperialism of USA.

For this the Marshall Plan has served. Its golden promises about “help to economic progress” have shown itself to only conceal the intent, which is to harness Denmark into the war economy of USA.

Devaluation of the Danish currency, shortages of raw materials for the peace industry, shortages of foreign currency, flagrant interference and control with Danish business, and American dictate about continuous reduction of Denmark’s trade with Eastern Europe is the true nature of the Marshall “Aid”. On all this the American capitalists enrich themselves, so they have taken plenty of payment for the “aid”.

While the Marshall Aid meant a surrender of the Denmark’s economic independence, the North Atlantic Treaty meant that our political and national independence was put at risk.

Denmark has been fully involved in the capitalistic armament madness that is about to transform the country into a fortified poorhouse.

The Danish people are now being exploited twice, both by the British-American monopoly capital and at the same time by the domestic capitalist class which exploits the war economy and the inflation to turn its profits higher and higher up.

The work effort of the people and the production has reached heights like never before.

So the conditions to improve the circumstances of the people are there.
When they nevertheless are deteriorated it is due to the fact that the government and the Rigsdag carry out the policy of the monopoly capital.

The deception against the Danish people.

How could it happen that such a policy has been imposed on the Danish people?
It has first and foremost happened through a huge deception. Those who have the money have the power over the press and the general propaganda.

They have used it to keep the people in ignorance of the actual development at home and in the world around us. Always the policy of the big business is presented as altruistic acts, and systematically and mendacious has it been denied that the consequence would be all this that we now are in.

At the same time the socialistic world is being depicted as a misfortune for the people and as a threat against Denmark, regardless that the facts of the socialistic construction every day testify to the contrary.

The American war propaganda is being more and more unidirectional parroted.
The callous lifestyles of the official USA is being mimicked and spread through the press and literature, film and radio. Danish cultural life is forced back and is offered deteriorating conditions in an attempt to break the self-respect of the Danish people.

The ”old politicians” who claimed to defend the interests of the people, has on the contrary served the moneymen and the foreign powers to mislead the people and bring it into doubt about its own strength. They put every effort in to split the people’s unity after the liberation.

They strewed around with empty promises, waged political sham fencings between themselves, while in reality they were in agreement to make the Rigsdag[2] into a mere channel for foreign orders in all essential affairs.
Thus they have eroded the democracy from inside and made the people’s freedom rights illusory. Police state methods are invoked, while bureaucracy and corruption are spreading in the swollen police- and judicial apparatus.

The deception against the Danish people could not have been done without the right-wing socialist leaders. This was seen in 1945, at that time everything was to gain. They put their influence into bringing the advance of the working class to a halt. In words they proclaimed: “Three steps to the left!”. In actions they helped Knud Kristensen[3] to power.

Step by step the social democratic leaders have evolved to play such a role, so that they today have nothing in common with the ideas that the Danish labour movement was build upon and was carried forward. They have betrayed socialism long time ago and adapted themselves in warm positions in the capitalistic society. Thus they sank down to conduct bourgeois-liberal reform policy.

But their fall has become even deeper. Today they are in league with the capitalistic right-wing parties to implement the most anti-popular and reactionary policy Denmark has known in living memory. They receive praise from the militarists for their indispensable support to the armament policy that they once professed to fight. The actively fight to maintain the capitalistic social system.

Also internationally they have associated themselves with the worst enemies of the working class. They praise the USA, the country of the most brutal and ruthless monopoly lords, and praise its “leadership in the world”. They are the most officious whips for the American war policy which they follow and praise, no matter how disastrous it is for the working class and the Danish nation.
Their theory that ”national sovereignty is an outdated concept” is to serve as a cover over their betrayal against the interests of the nation. As they under Hitler’s heyday adapted to a life under his supremacy, they now submissively assist the USA of the high finance.

They base their influence on the power, they have within the bureaucracy in the labour organizations. They seek to stifle the democracy in them and get them tied and bound through legislation. Thus, in the service of their anti-popular policy, they have been able to abuse the workers’ loyality to organizations that have been built up through the arduous work of the generations.

There is now in standard of living and thinking a gap between the right-social democratic leaders and the ordinary workers. When many ordinary workers still follow the Social Democracy, it happens in an honest but vain hope that the leaders, however, sometime will go to battle for the cause of the working class and the people.

To keep that hope alive the leaders regularly present well-sounding programs and manifestos.

With words they seek to win the trust of the workers, in action they continue the policy of the big business.

In reality they have put all their influence to create division and to sow discouragement in the working class, to weaken and disorganize its and thus the people’s struggle.

Their phrases about “democratic socialism” have only had to serve to cover over a policy that neither is democratic nor socialist. They have in all things guarded the interests of the monopolies, while they continuously prevent the workers in guarding theirs.

When the workers raise their demands, the only answer is streams of shameful lies and hateful smear campaigns against the Soviet Union and every country that builds socialism.

The victories of socialism.

The deceit of capitalism is not feasible, when the people become aware of the truth about the development in the countries of socialism. For it delivers the proof that the working class in its struggle for socialism has steered towards the correct target.

Socialism has in practice shown itself as a social system that is superior to capitalism, and the one which will replace it in history.

In the Soviet Union the socialist society, which workers through generations have dreamt about and fought for, has become reality. All means of production, all the riches of society, have become the common property of the people, and thus the exploitation of humans by humans has been removed. The production is organized according to a plan after the needs of the people. Therefore the right to work could be realized. Unemployment is unknown, living standards are raised rapidly, and the culture is brought to a thriving development.

The people live without fear for the future and participate actively in the management of the society.

In the ordeal of the war the Soviet Union showed, how a socialist society by virtue of the devotion of the people becomes an invincible power. After the war the Soviet people not only have been able to overcome the appalling devastations of the war by putting its full power into peaceful construction, but have also embarked on new gigantic works that will make the land fertile and increase its wealth.

Through the progress that in the Soviet Union has been created for the people, through the peaceful coexistence that within the Union is created between the nations, the first country of socialism shows the way forward for the oppressed masses in the capitalist countries and the colonies.

Since the war the peoples in the most of Eastern Europe have seized power and have begun to build socialism. Thus the countries, where the people until just a few years ago lived in misery and fascistic oppression, have been transformed into free people’s communities in rapid development. In the Far East China has pulled itself out of the oppression and backwardness that the landowners, speculators, and foreign financial lords through centuries have kept it down in and now builds a free future for itself.

In contrast to this development the countries of capitalism are having crises, decline, and all-encompassing preparations for war.

The victories of socialism prove that it doesn’t have to be so. This is the truth that the political leaders of capitalism fear, but which they in the long run will not manage to hide from the peoples.

The struggle for peace.

The most terrible danger that threatens our land and our people is a new world war.

More than anything else this calls on the people to take the fate of Denmark in their own hands.

It is capitalism that has led to the world wars of our time. It is the big monopolies who benefit from the armament. By war they rob colonies and territories which they squeeze for new profits. For them war isn’t a terrible thing, but a terribly lucrative thing.

The American monopolies that are the biggest and strongest of capitalism strive after world domination. They morbidly fantasize about an atomic war as a mean to subdue everything under their will. The war has become the main objective of their policy.

In league with them are the forces around the world who expect to benefit from the war, or who in the war see a mean to subdue the increasingly stronger rising of the peoples, in the colonies as in the capitalist countries. Above all they seek a war against the Soviet Union, because they fear the upswing of socialism and want to lay its construction results desolate.

In spite of the contradictions and conflicting power interests among them, these powers have united themselves in a war camp which is subject to the dictatorship of the American power policy. It has shattered the allied collaboration of great powers and split the world. It misuses the UN which was created for peace and collaboration, as a tool to organize war. It launches deafening war propaganda to incite the peoples to enmity and fratricide.

On the other side stand the countries and the forces that fight for peace and independence.

Hundreds of millions of people, regular people who know what they have to defend, belong together in the peace camp, whose strongest and guiding force is the socialist Soviet Union.

For socialist countries peace is a vital interest. Under socialism there is no one who can benefit from war. War is a disaster for each as well as the entire society.
The Soviet Union who more than anyone else knows the horrors of war therefore leads an indispensable peace policy, and makes one initiative after another for the cause of peace.

For the peoples in all the countries of the world, the struggle for peace is the struggle for life itself.

The seriousness of present time therefore compels all good forces to across any political, religious, or other kind of dividing line to get together about one thing: the preservation of peace.

A lasting peace must build on the following principles:

Disputes between the states must be solved through negotiations, not through war. Freely made commitments must be respected.

Countries with socialist and countries with capitalist economic systems must live side by side in peaceful emulation and in relations on equal footing.

Changes in a state’s social system must be in accordance with the will of the people and not imposed or prevented by aggression.

These principles are recognized by the communists and must be recognized by anyone who sincerely wants peace. These principles are recognized by the socialist countries and furthermore by any country that pursues a policy of peace. It is the powers and groups, who through threats about atomic war and with the most brutal acts of war seek to impose their will on other peoples, who break these principles and puts peace in jeopardy.

But the bellicose rulers can be stopped. Repeatedly the peoples’ opposition has forced them to stop in their ventures. If the peoples stand invariably fixed, they can enforce respect for their demands about negotiation instead of war, and the foundation will be laid for cooperation between the states in accordance with the spirit and letter of the UN charter.

The peoples join their ranks in defence of peace. An organized peace front has arisen worldwide, with a force that history never has seen before. It already includes a majority of the world’s population and is in constant strengthening and growth.

Although peace is in imminent danger, it is therefore false to claim, that a new world war should be inevitable. Such propaganda is only spread to undermine the determination of the peoples in the resistance against the war preparations and in the struggle to prevent the war.

This time it can be prevented, that capitalism’s armament rush and war hysteria ends up in a new war. Peace will be preserved and strengthened if the peoples take the cause of peace in their own hands and defend it to the utmost.

This is the task of present time that is above all others.

For a Danish peace policy out of the North Atlantic Treaty.

For the Danish people peace is a necessity of life. The war is an immediate threat to the very existence of Denmark as a habitable area.

This is a consequence of Denmark’s incorporation into the aggressive North Atlantic Treaty.

If it comes to war, the North Atlantic Treaty makes Denmark from the outset a war participant and battleground. When the North Atlantic Treaty was signed, it was asseverated that its purpose was to secure peace, democracy, and independence. But it has resulted in British and American generals arrange Denmark as an attack base against the Soviet Union, that we are being allied with the worst enemies of democracy, from German Nazis to Franco, and that our political and military independence is compromised. It is obvious that the pact was signed under false pretence.

The Danish people has never got the treaty submitted, has never approved it, and can not be bound by it. If Denmark is to secure its peace, the people must first and foremost free itself from the North Atlantic Treaty and regain its independence.

Alone the Danish people don’t manage to secure the peace. But it can do its independent effort for the peace by keeping its own country outside all involvement to war plans and stand up for the cause of peace. Thereby it also provides its valuable contribution to that common struggle of the peoples that is necessary for the preservation of peace. Denmark has by virtue of its geographical and political position special opportunities for this.

Denmark must go from Atlantic policy to peace policy. Danish peace policy is:

Denmark is in favour, that a peace pact is concluded between the five great powers, which is open for all states.

Denmark terminates all pacts that violate its independence, first and foremost the Marshall Agreement and the North Atlantic Treaty.

Denmark opposes the misapplication of the UN in the interest of one group of power and is in favour of détente and cooperation.

Denmark is in favour of general and controlled disarmament and prohibition of nuclear weapons and other means of mass destruction.

Denmark is in favour of a ban on war propaganda. Denmark breaks with the systematic poisoning of the relations with the Soviet Union and replaces it with good neighbourly relations.

The same applies to the relations to China and the people’s democracies.
Denmark is in favour of a united, demilitarized and democratic Germany.

Denmark develops its trade relations to all sides on the ground of equal rights.

The transition from war policy to peace policy means, that the burdens that now rest heavily on the Danish people are immediately facilitated.

The armament madness is halted, so taxes can be eased.

The foreign trade is reorganized, so the currency crisis can be resolved.

The war economy will be broken, so that peace production can provide labour and cheap goods to the people.

The policy of cuts is brought to an end, so social improvements can be implemented.

Military construction is halted, so that residential construction can be started.

The Americanization of the culture is prevented, so that Danish cultural life can flourish.

The crushing pressure of the dread for war over the minds will be lifted, and the Danes can live as Danish.

This is the policy that corresponds to the interests of the Danish people. This is the policy that meets the just demands that today come from worker as from the peasant, from scientist as from shopkeeper.

This policy can be brought to victory, when the Danish people united raise up against the impoverishment, which has been inflicted on them by the armament for a foreign matter, and when it resolutely refuses to make its youth and land available to the American war plans.

It will happen through a people’s unity on peace and independence. As the Danish people once rejected the Scavenius-politicians, it must now reject the excuses and pretexts of the Atlantic-politicians to lead the country into disaster after foreign order. If the people stand united and firm in their opposition against impoverishment and war-policy, the Atlantic-politicians will experience their 29th August.[4]

But there is no time to waste! All those, who see where the war policy is carrying us, must find each other in common opposition while there still is time.

The communists therefore declare themselves willing to cooperate, regardless of other differences of opinion, with all persons, movements, or organizations, that are in favour of peace policy, that will break the policy of national defeatism, and will use the war billions for the good of the people. They will provide support to any government and any political initiative that takes steps in this direction.

Aware that the whole future of the country and the people depends on the victory of peace, the communists will make every effort to bring such a unity about. They will as always loyally respect the obligations they assume in such cooperation. At the same time they will as an independent party show the paths onwards for Denmark and work to win the people for the socialist transformation of society.

Only the people’s power ensures lasting prosperity.

Transition to peace policy would be a huge victory for the Danish people, but their problems will not be solved by that alone. Poverty would still exist, and there would still be rich people, who would use their economic power to extort the people, corrupt the political life, and once again drive the country in ruin. It happened like that in 1945. At that time there wasn’t put an end on the forces that betrayed Denmark and worked against the interests of the people. The result was, that speculators, collaborators, and cooperation politicians once again entered their old positions, began to split the people, and continued their pernicious policy, which once again brought the country into trouble.

If lasting prosperity is to be created for the Danish people, there must be a profound societal change. The power of the high finance must be broken. The real power in society must be laid into the hands of the people.

The people must actively defend their own interests. They must do away with the politicians who in the interest of the monopoly capital have deceived them and led them into misfortune.

They must secure a renewed people’s representation, a Rigsdag of parties and persons, who make the will of the people the law of the country.

Carried forward by the active support of the overwhelming majority of the people the people’s representation and the people’s government will take the measures which are necessary of primary importance to break the power of the big exploiters:

Nationalization – societal takeover – of big industry, banks, insurance companies, and the other monopolies of the business, whereby these are placed in the service of the people.

The foreign trade is placed in the service of the people through nationalization.

The ground of the landowners is seized and given to those, who cultivate it.

Democracy is ensured through the active employeeship of the people in all spheres of public life – in production, administration, public education, and press.

Thus the key centres of power would be put into the hands of the people, and the wealth and opportunities of Denmark will be utilized to create prosperity and happiness for the people.

These measures will result in the beginning to the transformation of the Danish society to a socialist society, where the exploitation of men by men is abolished, and where the people’s freedom and right to decide is guaranteed.

The unity of the people – the victory of the people.

The time has for a long time ago become ripe for the transforming of the Danish society.

The overwhelming majority of the people are interesting in that happening. In the long run it will therefore not be possible to withhold it. Not only the working class, but also the working agriculture, fishermen, officials, traders, mental workers, and even more are weighed down to their knees under the burdens from the ruling social order. The youth is being offered a future without prospect, and the old are being offered a hopeless old age. The whole people hate the war and want to live as Danish.

United the people form an immense force. That was what, we experienced in the country in the days of the resistance. As long as the working class was united, and the whole working people stood together, it went forward. The setback first came, when the people were successfully split again. But now, in the struggle against war policy and brutal cuts, the unity is again strengthened in people and in the working class. Old prejudices fade, when they in concord defend their immediate interests in struggle against external and internal enemies. From the shared vision of today’s problems grows a shared vision of the future.

Thus arises the unity in the people that gives them strength to form the future of Denmark.

The unity in the people can only happen on the basis of unity in the working class which is the largest and most closely knit part of the population. When the working class in unity actively sets in against any attack, against any cuts, against any violation of the people’s democratic rights, when it uses its trade unions and its other organizations in the struggle for its just demands, the result will not only be much needed improvements, but the working class will become the political force that at the head of the people paves the way for new times.

The enemies of the people fear the unity, above all in the working class. They bring into action both power and cunning to prevent it. The working class must in reply steadily continue its struggle and reject all attempts to create division in the ranks. This applies especially to the shameful acts of the right–social democrats, when they with poisonous gossip want to create artificial contradictions among the workers, or when they spread their propaganda about capitulating to the capital and the reaction. Unity and combat power in the working class can only be secured through incessantly work to break the influence of the false leaders and make their propaganda ineffective.

When the unity is obtained, when it is maintained and strengthened, so that it not goes into decline like in 1945, then the foundation is created to implement key changes to the Danish society and tread the path to socialism. An active, alert, and united working class will throng the large majority around itself and carry a people’s government to power.

That is the path that the communists urge to go on.

It will be the path to accomplishment of the historical struggle of the Danish people for peace and freedom, for democracy and independence. 

The people’s democracy – the path to socialism.

The people’s takeover of the power in the society means democracy for the people. Through the people’s democracy, the path of Denmark will go to socialism.

The Rigsdag will not as now be a tool for domestic financial cliques or a channel for foreign orders.

It will be renewed through free elections. The Rigsdag will be the true seat of popular sovereignty, such as the Danish people has fought for against absolutism and the provisory-dictatorship of Estrup[5]. Therefore the Landsting will also be abolished, the youth will get the right to vote from 18 years, and the electoral law will be made completely fair. The elected representatives of the people will be made accountable for violations on their programme and the obligations they have undertaken to the voters.

The democratic rights will not as now be restricted and conditional for the majority of the people.

People’s democracy means abolishment of all the privileges of the wealthy that make the democratic liberties to hollow words. The country’s legislative and executive organs will at any time be accountable to the people, and the people will be drawn into active participation in the administration and control in all spheres of public life.

The trade unions of the workers will play a significant role. They will come to serve the purpose, for which they were built: as direct defenders of the workers’ interests. The legalisms of the unions will be abolished, and the freedom of the trade-union movement will be secured. There will be democracy in the trade-union movement, and the power of trade-union careerists will be abolished.

The trade unions will, as representatives for the working class participate in the organization of the economic policy of the country, in the management of industry and other businesses, and in the shaping and administration of the labour- and social legislation.

Similarly the other organizations of the working people, small-holder unions, fishermen unions, the associations of the mental workers, the youth organizations, etc., will participate in the shaping and administration of the legislation, just as the cooperative movement with its experiences will come to play an important role in organizing the people’s supply of goods.

The securing of the principle of democracy: from the people – for the people – by the people, will be done by that on all responsible positions in the state apparatus will sit men and women, coming from the people, who take care, that the laws are observed in the spirit, in which they are enacted. All attempts to bureaucracy and sabotage, to police regime, will be broken with the participation of the people’s democratic control.

The democratic rights of the citizens will not only be enshrined in the constitution, but will be guaranteed, because the law provides the people the means to realize them. The freedom of press, speech, and assembly will not be limited by the fact, that a minority through property relations control printing houses and assembly rooms. Thus the monopoly of the money men on the press will be broken. The ownership of the papers will be handed over to the democratic organizations of the working class and the general population that on the basis of the law work for their interests.

Equality before the law will be guaranteed regardess of race, nationality or gender. Freedom of belief will be guaranteed. The legal rights will be assured by the democratization of the judicial system.

By these measures the people is secured real political power that enables the transformation of the society.

It cannot be expected, that the big capitalists and the landowners, that the united reaction will give up their robbed properties and privileges without further ado. On the contrary it must be assumed, that they will use all their influence and all their connections to by undermining and sabotage, coupled with open and violent opposition prevent the implementation of a democratic and socialist policy. Therefore the Danish people and its people’s government must be ready to resolutely strike such opposition down.

The Danish people’s path to peace, prosperity, and freedom can only be ensured by the power of the working people. 

What the people’s government will mean for the people.

The people’s government does not give empty promises. It fullfills the demands of the people.

It can do that because it breaks the power of the monopolies. It will do that because it stands in the service of the people and under the control of the people.

A people’s government will consolidate the victory of the peace policy by invariably be in favour of peace and national independence. It will and can do that, because it builds directly on the Danish people and their honest desire to live in peace and friendship with all other peoples, and because it is freed from any kind of dependence on the capitalistic spheres who are interested in armament and war.

Just as the people’s government will cherish the Danish people’s natural right to decide over the fate of their land and themselves, it recognizes the same right in all other peoples, and on this basis wants cooperation with them on the basis of friendship and equal rights. This also applies to the Faroese and Greenlandic peoples. A people’s government can never approve a policy that sacrifices these peoples and their countries to the war plans of the imperialistic great powers.

A people’s government will in accordance to its peace policy stop the militarization and lower the military spending to what is necessary to create a democratic defence in accordance with Denmark’s own interests.

Already this will lead to, that it gets substantial funds in its hands for improvement of the conditions of the people. Far more, however, it means that the nationalization of the monopolies in industry, banking, shipping, big trade, etc. places their enormous profits at the disposal of the state and thus of the people. At the same time it means, that the production can be organized and developed according to a plan which aims to meet the needs of the people.

This nationalization, which makes the key means of production to the property of society, i.e. of the people, should not be confused with what we have known up to now with regard to the takeover and operation of certain businesses by the state and the municipialities. These enterprises have still been operated as capitalistic enterprises in the interest of the capitalistic society and in a special bureaucratic manner. It has nothing to do with socialism.

Under a people’s government the nationalized companies will instead be democratically managed.

The management will consist of workers along with technicians and the representatives of society, just as the entire operation will continuously be subject to the participation and control of the trade unions. The production will no longer be dictated by the private profit hunger of the capitalists, but organized according to a common plan based on what benefits the society as well as the workers of the company’s workers. The working people, and no private capitalist, will benefit from improvements in methods of production and work. This will increase the pace of development in an unprecedented degree.

The production plan will be organized in such way that there will be a significant expansion of the Danish industry. Such an industrialization of Denmark is a necessity when the economic opportunities of the country are to be utilized to continuously raise the standard of life and to extend the employment opportunities, in order to ensure work for all.

The nationalization of banks and other financial institutions as well as of the insurance system will break the power of the interest capital, provide cheap capital at the disposal of production for the benefit of society, and will in general allow an effective societal control of the economic development.

The nationalization of the foreign trade is essential for the improvement of Denmark’s economic position. Only this way it will be possible to organize our trade policy purely in the interests of the whole people, according to where we are offered the best conditions for our exports, while the supplies of the country, particularly of necessary raw materials, are secured.

The import monopoly of the financially strong merchants will be broken, and the import goods will be distributed according to the interests of the production and the consumers.

A land reform will be implemented. First of all the landed estates, the aristocratic foundations, etc, which some time ago was robbed from the working peasants, will be given back to the people.

Thereby there will be created opportunities to create thousands of new farms through parcellation.

There will be created economic conditions so that the rural workers and the youth can get their own homes this way, and there will be additional land to the cramped smallholders.

The yoke of interest will be broken, the debt will be cancelled, and speculation in Danish soil will be made impossible. The economic policy of the people’s government will for ever abolish agricultural crises, and ensure the agriculture sale of its products at fair prices.

The further development of the cooperative movement, maintenance of machine pools, common stables, and other forms of rational utilization of the progress of technology, etc. will be supported.

Collective farming will be promoted to the extent that the farmers want. All this, combined with increased support for agronomical research work will form the foundation for a further rapid development of Danish agriculture.

At the same time the technical development will also be utilized to improve the conditions of the rural workers and the rural youth, so that their demands for equality with other workers with regards to wages, working hours, and holidays are finally realized. The rural youth will get access to education and cultural activities.

The fishery will be promoted and developed in accordance with our country’s natural conditions. State subsidy and credits for the improvement of the fishing boat fleet and the fishing gear will be provided. The sea fishing is organized and developed with the support of the people’s government. The release of fry is increased to the extent, the fishermen and science in cooperation consider appropriate.

Unloading centres, freeze centres, canned food factories, and similar, will be established on cooperative basis by state subsidy. Thereby remunerative sale of the catch is secured at any time. Intermediaries on the fish’s way from the fishermen to the consumers, who make it more expensive, will be abolished. The new trade policy will provide great opportunities for the sale of fish in foreign markets.

The middle class in trade, industry, and crafts will be liberated from the yoke of the interest capital, and will benefit from the social security. Small savers will get full compensation for the losses, they may suffer by the nationalization, but others may also get compensation to the extent they take a position of loyalty to the people’s power.

When the economic centres of power of the society are under control, the economy is no longer subject to blind laws. The planned expansion of the production will provide ample supplies to falling prices. The standard of life will be able to be continuously raised. The typical capitalistic crises with their so-called overproduction, with their unemployment, and with economic disasters for the peasants and for thousands of small traders will no longer be known. For all parts of the working people the life will be easier and happier.

Social security and cultural flourishing. 

When the profits of the monopolies are confiscated through nationalization, when the foreign plundering is stopped through a reorganization of the foreign trade, and when the armament is halted, then a people’s government will have the necessary means to realize the social progress that the labour movement through generations has fought for. And yet the taxes will be able to be reduced significantly for the working people. The social legislation of the people’s government will put an end to the fear of tomorrow, for illness, accident, unemployment, and old age which now often rides the people as a mare.

The right to work will be legally established and will by virtue of the economic basis be realized.

By introducing state pensions without dues the society will fulfil its duty towards the old and ensure them an evening of their life in comfort and good conditions. Invalids, the ill, and the injured will receive full compensation for lost earnings and will furthermore be secured a decent existence on equal footing with other citizens.

Through free medicine, medical care, and hospital treatment the public’s health is protected.

The preventive healthcare is expanded. The family will be secured. There will be implemented an up-to-date maternity allowance and a genuine child allowance. The preventive child care will be extended and the needed childcare institutions will be set up.

All condescension and bureaucracy in the administration of the social assistance will be done away with through direct participation of the representatives of the working people.

The housing question will finally be solved. The rents will be able to be significantly reduced through the confiscation of the interest. The nationalization of the credit and the buildings materials industry will make the initiation of an extensive construction of apartments to cheap prices possible.

Three weeks of vacation with full pay will be the minimum for all workers. Holiday houses and sanatoriums for the working people are established in appropriate and healthy buildings.

For the women a people’s government will mean, that they not only in words but also in fact achieve equality with the man in terms of politics, economics, and wage.

A new life will be opened up for the youth. There will be implemented a genuine youth legislation. The young workers will get shorter working time and longer vacation, and the apprentices will have day schools and a guarantee for an efficient utilization of the apprenticeship. In all spheres the youth will get huge expanded opportunities for development of its skills and interests.

Sports and the recreational pursuits of the youth will be encouraged through the necessary funding from state and municipalities, and through construction of the needed sports facilities, assembly houses, after-school recreation centres, cultural centres, etc. Money speculation in the sports will no longer be a question. Everyone will have equal right to education. Only abilities and aptitudes should be decisive for the opportunities of the individual. The necessary study grants are made available. The number of schools and higher education institutions are expanded, as the society will develop an extraordinary need for specialists and experts in all spheres.

There will be put an end to all pettiness towards the cultural life and on its dependence on private capital interests. The society requires a strong development of Danish science, art, and public education. Scientific institutions will be expanded or newly established. Under the leadership of research councils that will have extensive funding available, science will be developed and utilized for the good of the people. Ample resources will secure the work of the artist and the development of art. Through an extensive network of community centres, libraries, theatres, concert halls, exhibition rooms, etc., and by placing the press and publishing houses in the service of public education the conditions will be created to bring the cultural life into close and fruitful connection with the entire people.

Thus the cultural life will no longer be a matter for narrow circles. On the contrary, the entire people will participate in a further development of our rich cultural heritage, carried by faith in the future and concern for man. A genuine people’s government will ensure that the Danish society is transformed in order to take the necessary steps towards socialism. The wealth of the society and self-expression of man will flourish as never before. Only under such social conditions one can speak of freedom, of a genuine human existence. Without regard to the possibility of persecution by employers or money men can the citizens freely discuss how to make the life easier and more eventful for everyone in the best and fastest way. For the first time in our country’s history the opinions and decisions the working people arrives at will be made real by the help of the society. And the people will continue their march – still forward, towards new and higher goals. 

The communists and the path to socialism.

The communists present this programme to show, that there for the Danish people exists another perspective than the one of war policy, cuts, and national humiliation. There is a way forward and behind the strife and struggle of everyday life a great and achievable goal can be seen ahead.

The Communist Party of Denmark devotes all its efforts to the task of calling the Danish people to the struggle for peace, freedom, and their threatened interests of life, in order to achieve the great goal.

The Communist Party of Denmark is an organic part of the Danish people. It has grown out from our old socialist labour movement, born at the time the right-social democrats betrayed the banners of socialism. It has no interests which differ from the interests of Denmark and the Danish people.

In its ranks it gathers the most self-sacrificing and best fighters for the cause of the working class.

It has, even in the most difficult times, faithfully stood in the service of the Danish people.

The Communist Party of Denmark builds in all its work on the experiences of the working class and the liberation movements, as they are summarized in the doctrine of scientific socialism developed by Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. The Marxist theory has historically proved its correctness as the doctrine of the victory of the working class and socialism. History has also established that the struggle for socialism can nowhere be won without a party that works on the basis of and in accordance with the socialist theory.

The Communist Party is in favor of the true and genuine democracy. It wants, that the majority of the people should be deciding. It seeks a socialistic democracy where all the riches of the society belongs to the society – the whole people – and are managed by the organs of the society under the participation and control of the people, a society where democracy prevails economically, politically, and culturally. Only with the support of the great majority of the people the communists will achieve this goal. The communists are opposed to a dictatorship of a minority. They will fight against all attempts to impose or maintain such a thing. The communists want that the majority of the people should decide in the interest of the vast majority of the people.

That is the foundation for the struggle of the communists for the interests of the people and for the revolution from capitalism to socialism. The victories of socialism in a number of countries have shown that different paths to socialism are given. Every country, every people must walk the path that follows from its own circumstances and conditions. But without the majority of the people and its struggle effort there is no path to socialism and thereby to lasting peace and freedom.

For Denmark the path goes in continuation of the rich-in-tradition battle of the Danish people throughout the ages that only will be accomplished in a free and happy, socialistic Denmark.


[1] Erik Julius Christian Scavenius, social-liberal collaborator Prime Minister of Denmark, 9 November 1942 – 29 August 1943 (under the Occupation). He supported the policy of cooperation with Nazi Germany. Was forced from his post after he and his government didn’t want to introduce the death penality against saboteurs.

[2] Danish bicarmial legislature (1849-1953). Consisted of the Folketing (lower chamber) and Landsting (upper chamber). The Landsting was abolished in 1953.

[3] Danish liberal prime minister, 7. november 1945 – 13. november 1947.  He became prime minister after the first election after the Liberation. He was impeached because he wanted Southern Schleswig to be part of Denmark.

[4] The 29. August 1943 the Danish collaborator government abdicated after the Germans asked it to introduce death penalty for saboteurs after big strikes and unrest in August 1943, thus ending the period of collaboration.

[5] Jacob Brønnum Scavenius Estrup. Ultra-conservative prime minister of Denmark 11 June 1875 – 7 August 1894.

Under his time the Landsting was dominated by landowners and the big bourgeoisie, while the Folketing was dominated by pro-peasant politicians, who were more democratic. The more progressive Folketing tried to prevent Estrup from making his budget laws, with the result that he in 1877 dissolved the Rigsdag and made a “provisional budget law”. He did it all the years 1885-1894, the so called “provisory era”.  This together with restrictions on the freedom of press and speech and introduction of the “Blue Gendarmes” made Estrup basically a dictator.

The opponents of Estrup created rifle associations, and often peasants would deny paying taxes.

Subcomandante Marcos Quote

subcomandante-marcos

“Yes, Marcos is gay. Marcos is gay in San Francisco, black in South Africa, an Asian in Europe, a Chicano in San Ysidro, an anarchist in Spain, a Palestinian in Israel, a Mayan Indian in the streets of San Cristobal, a Jew in Germany, a Gypsy in Poland, a Mohawk in Quebec, a pacifist in Bosnia, a single woman on the Metro at 10pm, a peasant without land, a gang member in the slums, an unemployed worker, an unhappy student and, of course, a Zapatista in the mountains. Marcos is all the exploited, marginalized, oppressed minorities resisting and saying `Enough’. He is every minority who is now beginning to speak and every majority that must shut up and listen. He is every untolerated group searching for a way to speak. Everything that makes power and the good consciences of those in power uncomfortable – this is Marcos.”

– Subcomandante Marcos

8 Atrocities Committed Against Puerto Rico by the US

by Jose L Vega Santiago

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the Caribbean Sea. It is a small island with a population of almost four million citizens. On July 25, 1898, during the Spanish American War, United States invaded Puerto Rico and commenced a long relationship between the two. With this list, I’ll try to underline eight atrocities committed by the United States in Puerto Rico.

8) La Operacion

La Operacion is a documentary that highlights the female sterilization policy. This policy was implanted by the United States as part of FDR’s “Operation Bootstrap” in a move toward industrialization. By 1974 35% of the Puerto Rican women were sterile and this number reached 39% by 1981. The problem with this sterilization policy is that most of the Puerto Rican women were misinformed about the sterilization process and most of the women didn’t know what the consequences would be.

7) Vieques

Vieques is an island municipality of Puerto Rico located in the northeastern Caribbean, it is also known as “La isla nena.” Vieques has a total area of 134.4sq miles and is inhabited by more than 9,000 viequenses. From 1941 to May 1, 2003 the United States Navy used Vieques for naval training and testing. From 1941 to 1942 the U.S. Navy expropriated 22,000 of Vieques 33,000 acres, by 1963 the Navy owned 22,600 acres of Vieques, almost 70% of the island.

In 1948 they commenced bombing exercise which continued for 55 years. Over the course of their stay, more than 22 million pounds of military and industrial waste was deposited on the island. The island was bombarded an average 180 days per year and in 1998 the Navy dropped 23,000 bombs on the island. Professor Jose Seguinot Barbosa, Director of the Geography Department in the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras, states in his study “Vieques, the Ecology of an island under siege” that the eastern tip of the island constitutes an area with more craters per kilometer than the moon.

As a result of all this, the cancer rate in Vieques is 27% higher than in the mainland. Most of the elements and toxic compounds dumped in the island were arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, depleted uranium and napalm. Studies show that the ground water in Vieques is contaminated by nitrates and explosives. Testing done in the Lcacos Bay showed concentrations of cadmium in crabs 1,000 times greater than the World Health Organizations tolerable ingestion maximum dosage. Heavy metals have been found in other species of fish.

6) Radiation Experiments

Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was a prominent leader in the independence movement of Puerto Rico. Albizu was imprisoned numerous times for seditious conspiracy against the United States. While in prison, Albizu said he was a subject of human experimentation without consent or warning. The U.S. Government’s response was that Albizu was insane. The president of the Cuban Cancer Association, Dr. Orlando Damuy, traveled to Puerto Rico to examine Albizu. Dr.Damuy reported burns on Albizu’s body caused by intense radiation. It is said that they placed a metal clip and film on Albizu’s skin and the clip radiated into the film.

Albizu died in 1965 and more than 75,000 Puerto Ricans carried his remains to the Old San Juan Cemetery. In 1994, under the administration of ex-president Bill Clinton, the United States Department of Energy disclosed that human radiation experiments had been conducted without consent on prisoners in Puerto Rico during the 1950s and 1970s.

5) Dr. Cornelius Rhoads

Dr. Cornelius Rhoads was an American doctor and pathologist that became infamous for performing several objectionable experiments with human beings. In 1931, sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute, Rhoads deliberately infected several Puerto Rican citizens with cancer cells. Supposedly, thirteen of the patients died. Dr. Rhoads once said in a written document: “The Porto Ricans [sic] are the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever to inhabit this sphere… I have done my best to further the process of extermination by killing off eight and transplanting cancer into several more… All physicians take delight in the abuse and torture of the unfortunate subjects.” An investigation done in 2003 by bioethicist Dr. Jay Katz found that the accusations were well founded and documented.

4) Ponce Massacre

The Ponce Massacre, which took place on March 21, 1937, was one of the most violent episodes in the history of the twentieth century in Puerto Rico. The activity was announced in El Mundo newspaper on March 19, indicating that the meeting of the Nationalists in Ponce and adjacent areas would be at 2pm in front of the Nationalist Party Headquarters in Ponce. That morning, Colonel Orbeta, the chief of police, traveled to Ponce with the intention of prohibiting the Nationalist activity. A week before, the Nationalists had requested authorization for the march from Mayor José Tormos Diego, who was away from Puerto Rico on vacation and had left Dr. William Gelpí as acting mayor. Gelpí authorized Casimiro Berenguer, the military instructor of the “Cadetes de la Republica” to disseminate information to the effect that permission had to be granted by Mayor Tormos Diego. The Nationalists had filed the request despite the fact that the laws of Puerto Rico allowed parades or public acts to be held without the need to ask permission.

The police under the command of Guillermo Soldevila, the head of the force in Juana Díaz, and Felipe Blanco cordoned off the demonstrators, using expert marksmen mobilized from all the police stations in Puerto Rico. The police covered the corner where the Nationalist Council was located on Marina Street, between Aurora and Jobos Streets. Meanwhile, the Cadets of the Republic and the Nurses Corps organized in three columns. The cadets wore a uniform of white trousers, black shirts, black caps, and on the left sleeve, a Calatravian cross. Leading the column was cadet captain Tomás López de Victoria. The young women formed up as the nurses corps, wearing white uniforms and marching behind the young men. Bringing up the rear was the band, made up of five or six musicians. Nearby, on Aurora and Marina Streets, almost in front of where the Council was located, the families of the cadets came together with other Nationalists who had come to see the parade. The band played “La Borinqueña,” and the captain of the Cadet Corps, Tomás López de Victoria, immediately gave the order to step off. At the precise moment when they were about to do so, Soldevila raised a whip, put it to the chest of López de Victoria, and told him that they could not march. Police officer Armando Martínez ran from the corner in front of the Nationalist Council toward Marina Street, firing once into the air, which unleashed volleys of shots from arms of different calibers. Eight people died instantly and others died later, for a total of nineteen. Police officers Ceferino Loyola and Eusebio Sánchez died victims of the crossfire of their fellows. Georgina Maldonado, a 13 year old-girl, an employee of a nearby gas station, José Antonio Delgado, a member of the National Guard who was passing by, and fourteen Nationalists also died.

A number of citizens of Ponce requested that the American Civil Liberties Union investigate what happened on March 21. An Investigating Commission on the causes of the Ponce Massacre was established, presided over by Atty. Arthur Garfield Hays, a US citizen delegated by the ACLU, with Emilio S. Belaval, the president of the Puerto Rico Atheneum, Mariano Acosta Velarde, the president of the Puerto Rico Bar Association, Francisco M. Zeno, the editor of La Correspondencia newspaper, Antonio Ayuso Valdivieso, the director of El Imparcial newspaper, and Manuel Díaz García, a former president of the Medical Association. The commission carried out an exhaustive investigation of the facts and in its report placed the blame on Governor Winship. It referred to the happenings as the Ponce Massacre. [Source]

3) The Pill

In the early 1950s the Puerto Rican women were used for experimentation in the making of the first birth control pill. The Pill was invented by Dr. Gregory Goodwin Pincus but strict laws in the U.S. didn’t permit full scale experimentation. In 1955 Dr. Pincus and his colleague, Harvard obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. John Rock visited Puerto Rico and then decided it was a perfect place to test out their pill due to the lack of anti-birth control laws.

The trials began in Rio Piedras but quickly moved throughout the poor sectors in the island. The experiments was based on poor and working class women; these women were not told the pill was experimental and were not told the negative effects the pill could have on them. Three young women died during these experiments and no investigations were conducted to determine cause of death.

2) Colonization

The effect of the colonization is very evident on the Puerto Rican people. “La ley de mordaza” was implanted by Governor Jesus T. Piñero on May 21, 1948 which did not permit any Puerto Rican to show any patriotism or even display the Puerto Rican Flag. Puerto Ricans were given citizenship in 1917 with the Jones Act, Puerto Ricans were considered alien in United States but once the Jones Act took effect more than 20,000 Puerto Ricans were drafted by the army. With the United States came huge changes in the educational system making American values and principles the main teachings in schools and even forcing teachers to teach English. It wasn’t until 1998 that Puerto Ricans changed back to Spanish as their main language in schools.

The United States implanted an economy that depended on them; this destroyed the agriculture in Puerto Rico. In less than 20 years, 90 cents of each dollar that a Puerto Rican spent went to the United States. This made Puerto Rico one of the poorest countries in America. The Puerto Ricans still do not have a defined status; Puerto Rico has one of the worst economies in America and an unemployment rate of more than 16%. Puerto Ricans don’t have the same rights for their social security or even veterans’ benefits, even though they meet the same requirements than the people that live in the states.

1) Puerto Rico’s Status

Puerto Rico has been a US territory for more than 100 years and has been defined as a commonwealth since 1952. Puerto Ricans cannot vote for the US President or Congress but they have to obey federal laws. A Resident Commissioner represents Puerto Ricans in Congress but he cannot vote on legislation. This affects Puerto Ricans every day. An example of this is the Cabotage laws implanted in 1920 by the Jones Act. This law says that Puerto Ricans must use the U.S. Merchant Marine for the oceanic transportation of any goods bought by Puerto Rico. This is a problem because Puerto Rico, being an island, does not produce everything it consumes and is obliged in the use of the U.S. Merchant Marine. The U.S. Merchant Marine is one of the most expensive merchant marines in the world. It is estimated that if Puerto Ricans were not forced to use the U.S. Merchant Marine prices in all imported products would drop 40% and it would save Puerto Ricans $150 million in product export, this would lower the prices of the exported products and make Puerto Rico a more competitive country in the world market.

You could think that Puerto Rico has the Cabotage laws applied because it hasn’t defined their political status but this in not true because other US territories like the US Virgin Islands don’t have to comply with these laws. Another fact is that the Puerto Rican trade produces 25% of The U.S. Merchant Marine’s income.

Source